Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Pink Gerbera Painting Demo

"Pink Gerbera"  8x8" Acrylic  (Sold)

Seems like I've been away forever, one workshop after the next - all really fun, then a trade show out west. As always, the best part of workshops is meeting new artists and making new friends.
I am finally home - for one day - then back on the road to see my folks for Thanksgiving. Wishing everyone a wonderful holiday.
Posted above is one of the demos from the Carmel Workshop.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Cheries Amour

"Cheries Amour"   11x14"  Acrylic on Paper

I'm getting ready to leave town to teach a 5 day "Loosen up" workshop in Carmel, then a 3 day beginner workshop in San Clemente. Wanted to do some warm up exercises and started with one cherry, then another emerged, then suddenly I had cherries on the brain and couldn't stop painting them. They provide an easy way to observe highlights, form shadows, cast shadows, reflected light, reflections, halftones, etc. When I get to CA I will be buying fruits and vegetables as props for the workshop... Cherries are at the top of my list ... edible, tasty props... love 'em!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Ciao Tuscany!

"Boat at Lake Trasimeno"  Acrylic 8x10" Sold
The Tuscany trip was a pure delight, made more so by the awesome group of gals who joined me. They were a fearless, inspired bunch, and it was such a pleasure to spend a week with them. The scenery was to die for - the reason Tuscany is a must-paint destination for artists. I did not have much "focused" time to paint, but did manage to squeeze in a few quickies. Here is a demo from the day we went to beautiful Lake Trasimeno. A quick painting from a trip that will last in my heart for many years to come. Here is a picture of all of us - enjoying the many tastes as well as the sights!

 


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Using a (very) Limited Palette

"Tuscany Sunflower Field"  10x12"  Acrylic  $300  Click to Buy
The time has come... I'm packing for the Italy trip. In an effort to keep the weight to a minimum, I was experimenting with a limited palette. I used 4 colors in this painting. (Plus white, if you consider that a color.) Purple, green, ochre and alizarin.  Yup, that's all! It's amazing how few colors one can get away with and still represent a scene realistically. Not that I will be bringing only four colors, but it was an interesting exercise. One of the benefits of a limited palette - automatic color harmony. The other - way less schlepping!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Studio Sunflowers

"Studio Sunflowers"  8x10" Acrylic  $250  Buy it Now

What do sunflowers have to do with making lemonade? Maybe nothing, but while I was painting these from my studio window all I could think of was that I was making lemonade from lemons. The flowers are certainly not in their best form, as you can see in the photo (below). The light and shadow were nothing to speak of either.
So why did I choose to paint them when there were probably better subjects with less challenging issues? Well, for the challenge. When painting plein air sometimes your view and subject matter is simply a painting waiting to happen. Other times there are factors that are not exactly working in your favor. Thats the thing - you never know till you get there. Lately, in preparation for my Tuscany workshop, I've been treating myself to some "worst case scenarios" to see what tricks I can pull out of my hat. Which may be totally overkill... I mean really, a bad view or  uninspiring light in Tuscany? It must be the virgo in me over-preparing as usual. Or maybe it was just another excuse to paint sunflowers.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Next to Compton's

"Next to Compton's"  12x12"  Acrylic  Click for Info
Tuscany is known for its huge fields of Sunflowers. I figured this would be good practice for my upcoming workshop. Several people have asked if the workshop is acrylics only - I will be demo-ing in OPEN acrylics (the slow drying paint) but it is for all media - oil, watercolor, pastel too.  Join us if you can!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Lavendar Lane

"Lavendar Lane"  12x12" Acrylic  Click for info
This street is in Nyack, NY, looking east towards the Hudson River. I believe this street is First Ave., but I think it should be "Lavendar Lane". I love repainting homes in lively colors, changing street names, trimming trees ... Artistic license, it's the best!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Nyack Houses

"Nyack Houses"  Acrylic 12x12"  Click for info
Yesterday I was sitting in a doctor's office waiting, waiting and...waiting some more.  I was looking out the window and suddenly it hit me. My view was incredible. But more importantly, all I had to do was walk outside and I would be immersed in extreme beauty, like everywhere. Why am I not painting this gorgeous town? It offers everything I love to paint - urban setting, color, charm, structure, flowers, landscapes, etc. Here is the first of hopefully many paintings of Nyack, NY, Edward Hopper's hometown, and mine too.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Tuscany Sunset

"Pink Sunset in Tuscany"  8x10"  Acrylic  Click for Info
In contrast to what I wrote in yesterday's post, there are times when there is absolutely no reason to push or change colors one iota. This scene would be that. In order to maintain some type of color unity, I allowed myself only 3 colors (4 including white):  Quinacridone Magenta, Thalo Blue and Cad. Yellow Light. The good 'ol imited palette concept - a little more mixing but it keeps the harmony, not to mention lot less schlepping!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Cortona Piazza

Cortona Piazza  8x10"  Acrylic  Click to buy
 Many of the ancient buildings in Italy are stone - grey, brown, terra cotta. Painting all those earth tones may be accurate, but doesn't always truly convey my reaction to the subject. Like many artists, I often use what's in front of me as a springboard to play with shapes and design, as well as use colors that convey impressions. The colors in this painting are my interpretation of this festive setting and bright sunlight on a crisp fall day. This is a scene from Cortona, Italy where I look forward to teaching next month. Join us if you can!

Other workshops:
Clemente, CA Nov. 10, 11, 12. Click here for more info.
Carmel, CA Nov. 3-7. Full w/wait list. Click here for more info.
Greenville, NY  May 17-23  Click here for more info

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Green and Greener Pastures

Green Lakes Trail  7x7"  Acrylic  Click for more info

One of the most common issues with painting plein air landscapes is...all that green. Everyone loves lush green landscapes, but we also have a backpack full of colors that we are dying to use. This setting is in a beautiful park in Syracuse, NY, called Green Lakes. Not only is the lake green, but everything else is too. Sometimes when I'm trying to introduce more excitement to a monochromatic scene I either choose a harmonic color scheme to base my interpretation on, or play with temperature relationships, or use the setting as a springboard to design a more interesting composition and modify the shapes accordingly. The one given is a quick value sketch, so I can stay on track no matter which path I choose.  Below is a photo of the landscape. Altho the colors may look dull in the photo, it was actually inspiring, dramatic and colorful, and thats what I hoped to communicate.

There are still a couple of spots left for my workshop in Tuscany in late September - it's sure to be fun!   Here is the info.

Other workshops:
Clemente, CA Nov. 10, 11, 12. Click here for more info.
Carmel, CA Nov. 3-7. Full w/wait list. Click here for more info.
Greenville, NY  May 17-23  Click here for more info


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Beach Bums

"Beach Bums"  Oil  14x17" More info
'Tis the season for sun and surf, hope you are enjoying your summer

Upcoming Workshops: 
7 Day All inclusive Tuscany Painting Workshop, September 24-Oct 1, Click here for more info.
3 Day Workshop in San Clemente, CA Nov. 10, 11, 12. Click here for more info.
5 Day Workshop in Carmel, CA Nov. 3-7. Full w/wait list. Click here for more info.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Beach Scene

"Beach Scene"  Acrylic  24x36" Click for more info

This was a commissioned painting. I was supplied reference material of all the elements that the client wanted included the photo. It's not exactly what I would have chosen, but rarely are commissions what I would do if left to my own ideas...on the other hand often it is a learning experience, on some level.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Soho Watertower


"Soho Watertower"  8x10"  Oil  Click for more info
These watertowers, such a NYC fixture, and quite endearing somehow. They are like little mushrooms sitting atop of buildings everywhere. I heard that no other city has these? How tragic - they're so cute!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Bleeker and Thompson St., NYC

"Red Awning"  8x8"  Oil  Click for more info
A while back I was asked to do a painting for American Express that they could use as window sticker to be placed on doors of retail stores in cities in and around New York. They asked for a "typical" NYC image, so I headed downtown, and did a painting of the other street corner (the left hand side that doesn't show here). In typical NYC political fashion, the upper east side merchants wanted a scene that depicted their neck of the woods. So as luck would have it, I was hired to do two paintings, to make everyone happy. (No one was happier than me). This painting was from the pictures I took for that Amex job.  It was a cloudy day, but the job was a "rush" so no time to wait for better light.
Yesterday I came upon this photo and decided to paint it, but wanted to change it to a sunny day. I don't usually do that - but  that beautiful red awning seemed to need some drama. By adding some shadows and strong highlights I think I kinda pulled it off. And if I didn't, thats OK... it's definitely snappier than the photo.

Want to paint urban landscapes in an ancient hillside town in Italy? Come to the Cortona, Tuscany Workshop, Sept 24 - Oct 1, 2014.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Keeping Acrylic Paints Wet

 

I've been wanting to address this issue for some time, because I've received so many emails from people who saw my videos and want to know how I keep my paints wet.  So, here is the scoop...

I store my paints (Golden Heavy Body)  in a plastic craft bead box, or bead organizer. The one I use is divided into 18 compartments, the brand name is "Darice".  I bought it at Michaels or AC Moore.  It is a type of plastic that is sort of flexible and has some give to it (high density polyethylene). I don't buy the type made from hard plastic which is as rigid as glass, and snaps if you try to bend it. Reason being, the acrylic paint adheres to that type of rigid plastic and does not peel off when dry. BTW, the bead box is not air tight.

The reason my paints don't dry out, I am assuming, is that there is a LOT of paint in each compartment, and the amount of paint stored is a pretty thick depth-wise.  Acrylics dry when the water in the paint evaporates, and due to the thickness of the paint in each compartment, it takes a lot of time for the water to work its way out.  Plus I spritz all the paints while I am working. I may not have done that in the video, but in between filming segments, I spritzed.  Also, I put the whole container in a ziplock 2 gallon bag with a moist paper towel.  My paints last for months and months without drying out.  Its not a perfect solution, as eventually they seem to get a tad dry, but it works for me. I don't like setting out blobs of paint each time I have some time to paint, this allows me to flip the lid and start immediately. If you put tiny little blobs in the paint compartments, I can guarantee they will dry out fast.

If you want acrylic paints that dry 10 times slower, try "OPEN Paints", also by Golden.  They are a slightly lower viscosity (not as thick).  You can mix the regular heavy body paints with the OPEN paints too - they are perfectly compatible. If you mix in a 50/50 proportion, your paints will dry 5 times slower than the straight heavy body colors. You can also use the slow drying OPEN Medium, which, when mixed with either the OPEN or heavy body paints, helps increase the flow of the paint off your brush, and extends the dry time. You can also put a drop or two of OPEN Medium on each of your colors, whether you are working with blobs on your palette or in the compartments.

Many people use water as the medium with acrylics, not realizing that they could be using a medium such as "Polymer Medium".  When I want my paints to dry faster, I use water as the medium. When I want them to dry slower, I use a medium. Polymer Medium is glossy, Matte Medium is matte. OPEN is the slowest drying medium, and is available in both sheens.  Again, all OPEN products are designed to work with the faster drying acrylics too.

Another tip: You can use OPEN Titanium White in your mixures (rather than regular heavy body Titanium) to extend the dry time in any mixtures that have white in them.

I hope that helps! I hope it is also obvious why I did not answer each email individually :-)

On another note, I just got back from teaching a fabulous workshop in upstate New York. There were many break throughs - and I saw them happen! So many "ah ha! moments"... which makes me so happy.  I had a great crew of gals and guy, and was really inspired by the amazing work everyone did.

I'm looking forward to my next workshop in Tuscany in September. BTW it is open to all media --not just acrylics, as the fundamentals, value, color schemes, composition, etc, apply to all. Hope you can join us!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Rye Marina

"Rye Boat"  12x12" Acrylic   Click for Info
I painted this one plein air, for an event/auction that was taking place that night. In true fashion, I never found time to scout out the better sites, it was about 3pm and I was frantically searching for some place to stop and do a painting - any painting. I saw a sign for "Rye Marina" and pulled in, pulled up, set up shop and made my self at home on property that was not open to the general public. I was way beyond out-of-time. No value sketch, I did quick value painting. Good enough, then jumped into color. By the time I was finishing up, the sun was low in the horizon and the owners of this adorable little boat showed up to take a spin. They offered me a sunset cruise - with beer - but I had to run. Threw the painting in a frame, (acrylics rock) turned it in, breathed a sigh of relief - Miller time!

Below I included a photo of the site, it needed a little infusion of color, I thought.


Saturday, June 7, 2014

"Kick up the Color" Article

A nice article about pushing and swapping out colors was published this week in an artistsnetwork newsletter, accompanying this painting.  I will be focusing on "pushing color" throughout my upcoming workshop in Tuscany. There are few spots left, June 20 is the last day to register!

"Harlem Rooftops"  30x30" Acrylic  More info


Monday, May 26, 2014

Ray's Pizza Route

"Ray's Pizza Route"  16x20" Acrylic  Purchase Info

It's memorial day. 80 degrees, not a cloud in the sky. I catch a scent of barbecues, and hear the faint sound of oldies playing on a radio... all this from my open studio window. Here I am, painting away. This is my idea of a holiday. I gave up pretending to be like everyone else a long time ago. That being said, I do have other ideas - but this one ranks way up there.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Rooftop View of Chrysler Building

"Rooftop Party"  Acrylic on Panel  8x8"
Sometimes painting can start to seem too left-brained and serious ... when that happens I like to pull out the stops and just play with color, shapes and textures. This was one of those anything goes paintings. If it looks like I had fun ... I did!


Monday, May 19, 2014

A looser approach to painting Tuscany

"Tuscan Church"  6x6"  Acrylic on Canvas  SOLD
I created this painting in a non-traditional manner, using stamps, cardboard and other items to apply the paint for unusual mark-making.  When it comes to interpreting subject matter in a looser fashion, the paint can be applied in so many different ways that can be unpredictable - in a good way. I've had several people inquire about my upcoming Tuscany workshop and ask if it is acrylics-only. The workshop is not media specific - oils, pastel, mixed media, watercolor - all are welcome. The fundamentals are the same, regardless of media. I will encourage an open minded approach to color - use it intuitively (with some regard to color basics). The workshop is in the lovely Cortona with ancient buildings, rolling hills and breathtaking vistas. Curious about the workshop and the itinerary? Click here. Curious about Cortona? Watch some eye-opening videos on youtube...

Friday, May 9, 2014

Latte Break at the Met

"Latte Break at the Met"  8x10"  Oil  Purchase Info
Wednesday was sparkling spring day, and I met my buddy Lois at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to take in a few exhibits. I caught this gal taking a lunch break and silently thanked her for posing for my next painting.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Ivory Teapot

"Ivory Teapot"  Acrylic  8x8"  Purchase Info
Acrylics have a bad rap for not lending themselves to soft edges. Not true. Here I was messing around with OPEN Gels and paints. Luscious and painterly edges that fade and feather beautifully.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Delivery Dude


"Delivery Dude"  16x20"  Oil  Purchase Info

These guys are everywhere. Really hard workers, their goal is to deliver fast, and if it's food, it must stay HOT. I heard an amazing podcast on NPR that really touched my heart. It's a great listen - I promise, called "Be cool to the Pizza Dude".  My take is be cool to any of these dudes - pizza or whatever.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Text Stop

"Text Stop"  16x20"  Oil on Canvas  Purchase Info
Last week I was in New Orleans for new product training, sponsored by Golden Paints. We worked with the luscious Williamsburg Paints and QOR Watercolors.  Both products have an amazing pigment load and were a dream to work with.  The above painting was done with Williamsburg Paints. It was really fun working in oils again!

I have several workshops coming up... 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Painting Fast Loose and Bold - now on dvd's

Click to see sample previews of each video

I'm happy to announce that my 3 videos about painting fast, loose and bold are available for purchase at the North Light Shop. They were released in February 2014. In the videos I cover my methods and processes for painting with big brushes, thick paint and in a speedy manner.
Each dvd covers a different lesson:

  • Value Techniques - how to design and create value plans (using black, white and grey) as the springboard for an interesting composition. Any good painting rests on a solid value structure. 
  • Brushwork Techniques - learn exercises that lead to lively, gestural application of the paint for a bold, contemporary look. I demo brushwork methods in several small paintings.
  • Color Techniques - how to use various harmonic schemes based on color combinations derived from the color wheel. I demo 4 paintings using various color schemes

In a soon to-be-posted blog post, I will answer some common questions that I have received from many people such as "How do you keep your acrylics wet and juicy for so long?"  And "what is that container you keep your paints in?" Stay tuned for answers to those questions and others.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Window Shopping in NYC

"Window Shopping"  16x20" Acrylic  Purchase Info
I stuck the little pooch in at the last minute, maybe because my last painting had one... yes, the finishing touch!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Guy Walk

"The Guy Walk"  16x20"  Acrylic on Canvas  Purchase Info

While I was painting this I totally assumed the dog was a male, and had this title in my head from the start. Why, I don't know, it just felt like a "guy moment" in the city.  

Monday, April 14, 2014

Still life painting demo

"Happy Family"  Acrylic  8x10" Purchase Info
This weekend I taught a "How to paint fast, loose and bold" workshop. Here is my demo from the first day. We had a fun group and everyone did plenty of exercises to loosen up by using less strokes, bigger brushes, more paint, and working faster. Thats always the hard part - getting everyone to load up their paint brushes with lotsa paint. I tell them to pretend they have stock in the paint company. And when that doesn't work I've got an exercise or two up my sleeve that makes it impossible to "dab" with small brushes. Pictured below is our happy family from the Art League of Nassau County, plus Katie from Michigan hovering above (who took the photo).


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Three White Houses

"Three White Houses"  Oil   9x12  Click for larger view
Yes, they actually are white. I was in a fauvist mood and pumped up the color. Why not... its fun!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Last Class

Blue bottles and Bowl   Acrylic 9x9"  Purchase Info
Today was the last (local) class I will be teaching for a couple months. It was actually a complementary make-up session for all those who missed a class or two during the 8 week period. About 1/2 the class  showed up -  so I had time to paint too. Then we all went to the diner for lunch. I couldn't ask for a nicer group of gals to work with. Some of them are coming to my workshop in Italy  this September.  Register now if you want to join us, class size is limited.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

White on White

"White Cups"  Acrylic  8x8" Purchase Info
Today I took a one day workshop on painting whites. There were several still life setups in the room to paint from, all white on white. I chose the cups. It is so fascinating to see all the various shades of subtle colored greys - they are actually there if you look for them, but elusive unless you keep comparing different parts of the setup while painting.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Critter Comforts

Carmel Mission  Acrylic  8.5x6.5" Purchase Info
It's nice to be back home. Seems I've been on the road for quite a while. I'm just returning from a great workshop in Cary, North Carolina, we covered a lot of territory. In the beginning of a workshop I ask each person what their goals are, take notes, then check with each person on the last day to make sure their goals were accomplished. Everyone was happy!
    Just as the workshop was ending, I was asked to do a final demo. With only 1/2 hour left, I picked a photo that is a little outside my comfort zone, and told everyone that I was not feeling confident about doing this demo, especially so fast, but I'd do it anyways, since I had asked them to be brave, experimental and non-judgmental about their work and I should do the same. I didn't have time to sketch it out and make sure I got the drawing correct, but at least I did have a small 3-value thumbnail sketch to refer to. I used a 2 inch brush and finished in exactly 35 minutes. I say "finished" but it wasn't, really. Working so fast and not cleaning out my brush much in between colors made for a muddy looking sky and some too-neutralized greens.
     So last night I went to my studio and spent a few minutes cleaning up some of the colors and adjusting some values. I also changed the value of the sky from a light to a middle value, which made emphasized the stucco wall and helped the composition. Below is a photo of the demo painting and the value sketch, and above is the finish, with better color, using some smaller brushes for flowers and vegetation. I like the final painting and feel like I stretched a little. I'm glad I stuck my neck out and tried something I hadn't had time to plan out, especially as a final demo in front of 16 people. The moral of my story is, its essential to move outside your comfort zone if you want to grow. The only risk is not taking one.  I have a lot of favorite sayings about facing fear but one of my very favorites is: "Life begins at the end of your comfort zone."  Now if I could just motivate my critters, who are clearly stuck in theirs!

 


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

How to put figures into an urban landscape painting

Behind the New York Public Library  12x12", Oil
   


New York Public Library  12x12", Oil
Lawn Loungers  8x8", Oil

The New York Public Library Lion ("Patience")   12x12," Oil

Blue Shirts  12x12," Acrylic

That is perhaps one of the more challenging aspects of urban landscapes. Especially when working "en plein air" in NYC. FYI, no one poses for you unless they are asleep. And if you can spot someone who hasn't had 5 cups of coffee and actually stays put for more than a minute or two, consider yourself lucky. Gotta capture that pose quickly!  I learned this last year when I was hired to stand outside on the busiest intersection of Manhattan, 42nd street and Fifth Avenue/Bryant Park, and paint the city sights - en plein air. No safety nets - such as photos, pre-location scouting, protection from the elements (or the crowds). Just stand there and paint whatever. Often I did 2 paintings per day, in oil or acrylic.  It was a wonderful opportunity to take those moving, grooving, hustling New Yorkers and quickly incorporate them into a painting. The trick is getting the gesture and "shorthand" right.

Luckily, in my upcoming "Paint NYC" workshop, we will be painting "en plein studio", in the comfort of the National Academy of Design which is directly across the Street from the Guggenheim Museum and Central Park. The participants will work from photos - theirs or mine - so no need for rushing to capture those moving figures. We will work on gesture, composition and design, simplifying buildings, perspective and... cars! Yes, what is a city without cars? (Hint: if you don't get the cars right, they look like something out of a cartoon book.) The shorthand I will teach about painting figures and cars will help you add them to your paintings with ease.

So, if you want to learn how to capture the energy of New York City, register today for this workshop from May 19-23, 2014. But don't wait - registration ends very soon! If you are considering it, better call today and let your intentions be known. Hope you can join us for this unique city experience.

Click here for more info at Sedona Art Center or call 928.282.3809.

PS - btw, when I say no protection from the crowds, I'm not joking...