Welcome! This online journal will share my news of new paintings and upcoming exhibits, tips and notes with friends, collectors and other artists. Please visit often and enjoy!

Copyright notice: Photos and artwork images herein are property of the artist; no reproductions allowed without written consent.

Coming soon to this page:

- Latest sketches

Monday, August 31, 2009

Louisville National Fine Art Show Opens Saturday!

On September 5th, I will be fulfilling a promise made many years ago. Upon visiting the Louisville National Fine Art Show for the first time, and impressed by the quality of the artwork I saw there, I told my girlfriend at the time (and promised myself) that one day I would be part of this exhibition. Now it feels very nice to reach such a milestone... a signpost that tells me that even though progress takes effort and time, and the road is so very long, at least I have been walking in the right direction...

The opening reception will be from 7 to 9 pm, see you there!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Sketching "Plane" Air..., part 1

Okay, so you are trapped in and buckled up... but your imagination does not have to be! Sketching on the plane is a great way to pass the time and hone up your skills. Below are a couple of my favorite exercises, with examples from last Thursday:

1. Sketching people: Flight attendands make good models, as they are often in the same positions and are used to being looked at. I don't try to make a portrait, but focus instead on capturing their general figure, or some interesting aspect, such as their uniform or earrings. You can start the sketch during the safety demonstration, and resume it when they come through with the beverages cart. But more often than not I try to sketch other passengers, usually a few rows ahead and across from me, so I can sketch their profiles without bothering them--look for distinct features such as eyeglasses, unusual hairstyles, hats, etc. Sleeping passengers also make good models, for their immobility. Remember to be discreet.

2. Abstracting from in-flight magazines: These magazines always have great photos, you could always imitate the images, but try this more creative exercise instead: Look for photos or sections of photos that could make interesting abstract patterns. Make a simplified thumbnail outline of the key shapes and patterns, then close the magazine and try to finish the value study from your own imagination, adding lines and other shapes, changing the tonal values, etc.

Too challenging for you? No worries, you can always practice sketching the people and scenes from the photos in the magazines, or from photos of your own.
Not challenging enough? Try sketching with a brush, or in color. Or sketch from memory, by focusing on a photo in the magazine for a few minutes, then closing the magazine and trying to reproduce it from memory.

Interesting subject, and a lot more ideas to discuss, so I'll get back to this topic in a future posting. Bon voyage !

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Reading on the Road: L'Art de L'Aquarelle

My reading for the plane? The first issue of the new French watercolor magazine L'art de l'aquarelle. I learned about it from my friend Nicholas Simmons, who is featured on the inaugural issue of the magazine. This incredibly talented, award-winning artist is in great company, the magazine has an interview with Ewa Karpinska, and articles on two of the painters I admire the most, Joseph Zbukvic and Gottfried Salzmann, not to mention a special article on Andrew Wyeth.
When I read this lineup, I simply had to get the magazine. It is not sold in the U.S., but I got the tip from my friend Felicie to order it online from the French store fnac.com. It is in French, with a summary of the articles in English. Great quality paper and illustrations, great writing about the artists and their approach; advanced level, no demos, no instruction, but great inspiration!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Openings and Reflections...

Opening, watercolor, 11x15 inches

The opening reception this week went well. A big thank you to the friends and colleagues who stopped by to check the exhibit, and to the Millennium Hotel for organizing the event and providing the nice refreshments.

This was a very busy week, with lots of work, the framing of a couple of pieces for upcoming shows, the reception at the hotel, and even a birth class... So once more it was the Boulder plein air group that saved the day, by providing me with the opportunity and pretext to go out and paint. At this week's session at the Boulder Creek, and it was my friend Nyla Witmore that pointed me to this section of the creek with a nice pool of bright green reflections contrasting with the darkness of the shaded bank and rocks. We looked at the light effect in wonder, and set up our easels, and in a matter of minutes, as soon as we were ready to paint, the light had shifted and the effect was gone... I had to rely on my memory of the position and color of the lighted area to create my study, which was quite difficult. It made me hesitant, and the piece became overworked, but at least it captured a little of the scene. A good reminder that as artists we have to train ourselves to quickly grasp and hold on to the essence of what inspires us.

In the end this small painting became at the same time the product and the symbol of how fleeting the moments of wonder are, how quickly the windows of opportunity open and close, including that of my opportunity to paint, so I aptly titled it "Opening." I will be traveling on a business trip this week and might not be able to post again until Friday, but if an opportunity to sketch or write opens up, I'll be ready for it.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Did I mention the Honorable Mention...?

A brief update on the Pikes Peak International show in Pueblo. I was unable to make it to the Opening on Saturday, but I heard it was a successful event. I also got the great news today that my painting "Afternoon Shadows" captured an Honorable Mention. Considering the caliber of the work in the show, this was quite an honor.
Above: Afternoon Shadows, watercolor, 10x14 (detail)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Invitation to the Opening Reception at the Millennium Hotel in Boulder

Boulder Café, watercolor, 12x16"

The Millennium Hotel is hosting an exhibit of painting and photography by five award winning artists of the Boulder Art Association: Marcio Correa, Marie Huggin, Olga Karpeisky, Russel Dohrmann and Sandy Platter. Each artist contributed five pieces to the exhibit, which is open until the end of September, at The Millennium Harvest House Hotel, 1345 28th St., Boulder (2nd floor). My selection for this event includes "Boulder Café" (above) and four other landscapes previously accepted into juried shows.

You are invited to meet the artists, and join us to celebrate the arts in our community, at the opening reception this week, on Thursday August 20th, from 6:00 to 8:00pm.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

This week's plein air: From Fairview High

From Fairview High, watercolor, 8x22

This week, early on a fairly overcast morning, our Boulder plein air group met at the parking lot of Fairview High School in south Boulder, for its views of Lake Viele, and of the Flatiron mountains towering over the town. I decided to focus on the lake and its surroundings, and used a panoramic format to capture the scene. This was a compounded challenge: It's only the second time I've painted in this format, I don't usually paint this much green, I had to work with a very amorphous subject, and I had to bring all of those aspects to a decent conclusion in just over an hour. In the end, it was a very good experience, to step out of my comfort zone and find a solution to the puzzles posed by the subject; and a fringe benefit is that the little painting has a nice feel to it too.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Afternoon Shadows, or a little plein air magic...

Afternoon Shadows, watercolor, 10x14

The International Watermedia XVI Show, of the Pikes Peak Watercolor Society, opens this Saturday, August 15, in Pueblo. One of the paintings on show will be my own "Afternoon Shadows."

This painting is a good example of how plein air magic happens. February 15th was a sunny, cold day, my wife and I had learned just the day before that we were expecting our first child, and while she went for a walk on a trail with her best friend, I went to this spot to paint. Even though the afternoon was very cold, I set out on this painting as a meditation, and the wonder and happiness I was feeling made it a lot warmer than the scene actually was.

At the end of an hour and a half I spent on site, the shadows of the trees had reached me and I was shivering, with my hands so cold I had difficulty releasing the bulldog clips from my board. I ended up capturing more of an inner image than the landscape before me, including my depiction of my wife Christina and her friend Sarah, walking shoulder to shoulder, speaking of motherhood and good things to come...

To illustrate the difference, I'm also including here the photo I took onsite with my cell phone.

The opening reception for the International Watermedia XVI show is at 6pm this Saturday, at the Sangre de Cristo Arts Center, 210 North Santa Fe Avenue, Pueblo; and the exhibit lasts until October 17th.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Plein air from Paonia, Colorado

Morning in Paonia, 11x15 (detail)

We have just arrived from a weekend trip to Paonia, Colorado, to attend a wedding. Paonia is small town in a beautiful valley, full of wineries and peach orchards, the perfect location for the festivities. The schedule was full of events with the bride and groom, their families and guests, but I managed to sneak out for a couple of hours, and paint a quick study. I love working on site, even if only to make a sketch, and I bring my sketch book and some painting gear whenever I travel, in the hope I will find the time to paint.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Experimenting with Figure and Style

Looked Down On, watercolor, 12x16"

This painting was the result of a challenge. One of the assignments we had at a recent workshop was to paint a landscape in loose, broad brushstrokes with free color and using line for its own sake, after the style of George Post, or Henri Fukuhara. After I finished my landscape, "To the Lighthouse" (featured in an earlier post below), another participant asked whether that style could be used with the figure. I stated it could be used with any subject, and was then challenged to demonstrate. I painted "Looked Down On" without any pencil sketch, I drew colorful lines with the brush with abandon, added color shapes that extended beyond the lines, revealed and covered shapes and volumes very freely, moving fast and focusing on the emotional tension between the two figures. It felt very much like sculpting. It was not my usual subject matter or my usual approach, but it was a very exciting adventure and a very liberating artistic exercise.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Learning Points: Mel Stabin Workshop, part 2

Busy Afternoon in Lucca, 11x15 (detail)

One our second day of the workshop, Mel demonstrated the use of value sketches, and the painting of figures in a street scene. Our assignment was to practice those two skills, and my effort is illustrated above, in "Busy Afternoon in Lucca." You can see how the features of the figures were merely suggested, and rendered quickly, allowing colors to merge, as on the girl on the right. Similarly, the figure of the lady fuses with the stroller she is pushing, and the figure in the red jacket merges into the man's shirt in the foreground. The two figures further back were very simply indicated, with their shapes described mostly in negative by the dark door behind them.

Jazzed Up, 22x15
In days four and five, I took a more experimental approach in the assignments to practice the figure. In "Jazzed Up", I used line and free color, painting very quicly and directly, using the brush and color to "sculpt out" the figure, while dark colors, splattering and aggressive directional lines further emphasize movement and rhythm.

The workshop with was a great learning experience, and a fun one at it!

Here's Mel Stabin posing by one of his paintings. (Photo courtesy of Herb Rodriguez)