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

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Ariel at the Parade

Ariel at the Parade, watercolor on paper, 15x22 inches

It could be because I have not had the time to paint during the day, or because the weather is no longer very inviting for plein air painting, of maybe it is the anticipation of the arrival of our second son... but for one reason or another I have been really interested in painting portraits. (Even my last landscape painting was a symbolic portrait of my father, but more about that in another post.) At any rate, the image above is the latest painting I have completed, a portrait of my sister-in-law proudly wearing a brand new hat during the Fourth of July parade in Buena Vista, Colorado.

In case things continue as busy and I do not have a chance to post soon, I will take the opportunity to wish all viewers a wonderful holiday season and a great New Year!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Portrait of Miguel Lucas

Hoodie, watercolor on paper, 12x18

Miguel Lucas turned two in October, and I finally got over my hesitation of doing a portrait of him. He is such a handsome boy and has so many different facets to him, it was hard to imagine capturing just one pose... I knew I would want to make it a detailed portrait, and did not have long stretches of time to devote to a single painting, so I postponed my attempt for a long time... It took many hours and many nights to complete, as predicted. Children portraits are just so difficult to do... so hard to keep the features soft and round, especially in Colorado where washes dry almost instantly.

This was done with M Graham paints, a size 12 and a size 10 kolinsky rounds (one to paint another to soften edges), and a 1 inch flat for the background, on Fabriano Artistico hot press paper. It helped a lot to paint entirely vertical. No masking, no lifting, no tricks, just brushwork. He had a lot of fun watching me paint it, and it is great to have his reaction now that he can speak and share his thoughts.

Now that I got into it, I will probably be doing many more paintings of him... I had better hurry, as his baby brother will make his appearance in January and compete for my attention as a father and as an artist!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Gypsy Look, a Portrait Sketch

I did this sketch last night to take a break from a meticulous realistic large portrait I'm doing of my son. I chose a vacation photo of my wife, in the rental car, all tan from the beach except around her eyes because of her sunglasses.

It started just as a pencil sketch but I decided to color it. I was improvising, pushed the study farther than I should, applied paint beyond the capacity of the sketchbook paper and the paint started looking blotchy on the shaded area. I should know better, but thought "oh one more application will be alright..." Well it wasn't, but the study was fun to do and it captured her expression well, so I decided to share.

Gypsy Look, 8x10 inches, on a Strathmore visual journal, cadmium yellow, cadmium red light, burnt sienna, cobalt blue and perylene maroon, with some raw sienna, and some ultramarine blue used to mix the darkest darks, Escoda travel brush #12.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Window of Opportunity

October has been very hectic, with the celebration of my son's second birthday, family trips and a business trip--very little time to paint and little opportunity to post until now. I don't go anywhere without my sketchbook though, and look for the chance to sketch and practice.

I did take advantage of my trips to sketch, including the pen and wash above, done last week with a regular pen, a water brush and my small half pan palette on the tray of the airplane during flight, to the amusement of my fellow passengers. The photo is from a challenge from the painting forum I take part in. I sketched in pen while I waited at the airport in Charlotte, NC, and colored my sketch before landing in Denver.

Before takeoff, I took advantage of the time to sketch a few of the airplanes I could see out of the window, with the intent to show them to my son when I got home--he loves airplanes, trains and tractors...

Sunday, September 18, 2011

ArtWalk Demo

The Dicken's Opera House, Longmont, Watercolor on paper, 22x15

Last Friday night, I did a live demonstration at a street fair. It was the first time I did a demo outdoors in the evening. The Main Street in Longmont was closed to traffic at 6:30pm and then all the setup activity started, so I was not able to start painting until 7pm. I anticipated I would not have daylight for long, so I took a photo of the street corner scene I wanted to paint two days before, and used that as my reference. I also did all the pencil drawing ahead of time, so that I would be able to complete the painting during the demo.
I brought a daylight lamp, but that meant intense glare on the paper and less than enough light where my palette was. But I did complete my painting and was quite happy with it, and the viewers gave good feedback as well. This is a view of the Old Opera House in Longmont, a very nice building... so nice in fact that I accidentally allowed it to compete too much with the other focus area of the scene, where all of the figures were.

This is a photo of my setup. I used M Graham watercolor paints (mostly azo orange, cadmium red light, viridian, cobalt blue, cobalt teal, ultramarine blue and quinacridone rust, in addition to some neutral tint) and squirrel mop brushes, and a synthetic round for details. I worked on a half sheet of Arches 140lb Rough paper, and it took me one hour and 45 minutes.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Upcoming Demo at ArtWalk

A week from today, on September 16th, I will be doing a painting demonstration, this time in Longmont, as part of the ArtWalk festival on Main Street. I will probably do a street scene of that very location. I always have fun on these occasions, the dialog with the viewers is stimulating and I end up learning a lot from verbalizing the process to the audience and getting questions and immediate feedback. If you have a chance, please stop by! The demo starts at 6:30 pm, at the ArtWalk demo booth on 4th and Main, across from Ziggy's Coffee.
(Photo courtesy of Gene Youngmann)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Mammoth Mine and Louisville Fine Art Show

Standing Guard (Mammoth Mine), watercolor on Aquabord, 20x16

This painting was done on location at the Mammoth Mine site in Boulder County. It was painted on a beautiful June morning, the building has beautiful aged colors and a slanting stance that speaks of its age and service, and it is guarded on all flanks by aspen trees. It was a privilege to get to paint on this site, thanks to a permit from the Boulder Country Parks and Open Spaces administration as part of their first plein air exhibit event, since this location is closed to the public. The painting is now sold and I am very pleased that the buyer is someone who knew this location growing up and appreciates the environment and feelings that the painting evokes.

On a different note, this has been a busy season, with overlapping shows. Just as the Boulder County plein air exhibit came to a close, it was time for the opening reception of the Louisville National Fine Art Exhibit, last night. The event was very well attended by many artists and the local community. In fact to crowded to even take a photo together with my painting, but no regrets. I hope to return there during the week for a calmer viewing of the great paintings in the show.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Boulder County Plein Air Art Exhibit Opening

Afternoon Glow, Legion Park, watercolor on Aquabord, 16x20

Friday, August 19th is the Exhibit Opening Reception of the Boulder Parks and Open Spaces Plein Air Art Exhibit, at the Old Firehouse Art Center in Longmont. The exhibit features four paintings by each of the twenty artists selected for this event. In addition, a preview of the artists and their work is being held at the Boulder Courthouse at the Pearl Street Mall, where my painting Afternoon Glow, Legion Park is on display. This painting, like the other four, was done on site, completed in two sessions, last June.

This has been a long process, the selection started back in March, the painting period was in June, so we are all excited to finally have the show open to the public. The reception starts at 6pm and the exhibit will be open until September 3rd.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Urban Realism Workshop with John Salminen, part 2

Royal Street, New Orleans, watercolor on paper, 15x21

This is the painting I completed during the urban realism workshop with John Salminen. I used M. Graham paints, Arches 140lb cold press paper, a squirrel mop brush, flat and round synthetic brushes, and a round kolinsky for details. I had chosen my reference from a photo I took in 2001, and did all the drawing in advance of the workshop. I will comment on some of the aspects of the painting that illustrate learning points from the workshop:

1. The tonal plan corresponds to John's guidelines to use value to differentiate the planes of the picture: The background is built with light values, the middle ground with middle values and the foreground with dark values--the exception is the main figures, but that was done as a form of focus. John's demo and the work of other participants showed that the association of planes and values can work in any combination (middle>dark>light, light>dark>middle, etc.) and produces a successful feeling of depth. I also tried to use a wide range of values, from the white of the paper to very dark grays.

2. A lot of the light details were saved with masking tape and cutting knife, some were lifted with Mr Clean Magic Eraser--this allowed for the creation of very thin lines and fine detail.

3. The reflections on the sidewalks was done using John's method of wetting the paper, dropping color with vertical strokes of a flat brush, and softening the transitions with a hake brush.

4. The dark walls on the right were painted mostly with ultramarine blue and burnt sienna, which created a warm dark value that was competing with the warm color walls on the left. If I'd tried to cool the color down by brushing further layers of color, I would end up with a very dull surface. Instead, to fix that problem, I masked around the wall shapes and sprayed with blue color through a mouth atomizer, which cooled the color without significantly altering the value or luminosity of the shapes.

The resulting painting is successful in capturing the mood and atmosphere of a hot, humid New Orleans morning. John Salminen pointed out the role of the foreground darks in making the middle value shapes glow with reflected light.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Urban Realism Workshop with John Salminen

I have just completed a workshop on Urban Realism with the master John Salminen, in Colorado Springs. This workshop had been in my goals for a few years now and I finally had the opportunity to attend, and it delivered: John is a great artist and instructor; his wife Kathy the perfect assistant! The three day workshop was instructive and inspirational, and the twenty participants did a wonderful job under John's guidance. Some of the highlights were:
  • John emphasizes a value plan, but unlike other instructors who used this as a device to maximize contrast in center of interest, John stressed the way to use values to separate the planes of the space and create depth.
  • John demonstrated different ways of reserving whites, and of rescuing light areas, and shared his recipes for warm and cool grays and darks.
  • We learned the use of a mouth atomizer to adjust value and temperature in our paintings.
  • We also learned practical techniques for creating soft and hard edged reflections.
  • One of the most important takeaways in my view was the importance of related middle values.
Another fringe benefit of the workshop was the opportunity to meet a group of wonderful artists, most from the Colorado Springs area, including the master Tom J. Owens.

In my next post I will include more notes and a photo of my painting from the workshop.

Monday, July 11, 2011

PPWS International Exhibit Opening Reception

The Pikes Peak Watercolor Society National Watermedia Exhibit reception on Friday was a very nice event, I met a lot of interesting people and some famous artists. The photo above shows me posing by my featured painting. I was in good company--my painting was hanging between those of Karen Standridge and Frank Lalumia, both of which received awards. Other well-known names in the exhibit included Bill James, Susan Hinton, and Elaine Daily-Birnbaum, among others. Juror John Salminen was present with his wife Kathy. My congratulations to the Pikes Peak Watercolor Society for organizing such a great quality exhibit.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Invitation: PPWS International Exhibit Opering Reception

The Pikes Peak International Watermedia XVII Exhibit will hold its Opening Reception this Friday, June 24th, from 5 to 8pm. The location is the Cottonwood Center for the Arts, 427 E. Colorado Avenue, in Colorado Springs.
The Awards Reception will be on Friday, July 8th, from 6 to 8pm, at the same location.
Two opportunities to view the art, meet the artists, and the juror, John Salminen.
The exhibition closes July 23rd.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Invitation: RRWS National Exhibit Awards Reception!

You are invited: Tomorrow, Tuesday, June 21, is the date of the Awards Reception for the Red River Watercolor Society 18th National Watermedia Exhibit. The exhibit and the ceremony are taking place at the Moorhead Hjemkomst Center, in Moorhead, MN. There is no admission fee, and the public is invited to the reception from 6:00 to 8:30 pm. Information and directions at: www.hjemkomstcenter.com

I am honored to be part of the show, and hope lots of visitors get to enjoy this event. I will miss the ceremony, but will visit the exhibition in July.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Out and About...

Fourteen days, nine locations, ten paintings... my output from the painting phase of the Boulder County Parks & Open Spaces event, just finished.
My evenings and weekends in the last two weeks were spent outside in the field, in these great, inspiring locations--from rock formations to open fields to vistas to historic buildings... You can see some of these and my set up with paintings in progress in the images.

The paint out sessions were very peaceful and enjoyable--well, mostly... Last Sunday, at Hall Ranch, I walked to a gate to check the view from there, and all of a sudden heard a sound that made me jump five feet back... I'd come within three feet of a rattlesnake, and it didn't like it a bit, it was coiled and rattling loudly! Other encounters were a lot more friendly: I saw a young moose in the canyon the previous weekend, and on different days a herd of deer, a fox carrying a dead squirrel, another fox, cotton tail bunnies, and lots of cows! I met some interesting people too: A historical site guide, park rangers, other artists. A great experience in all aspects. Now I have to select four of the paintings and submit them for the upcoming exhibit.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Reporting from the Field...

This is the last weekend of the Boulder Parks and Open Spaces Plein Air painting portion of the event. Artists were given special permits to some areas that are not normally open to the public. I have been very busy producing my pieces, this is a photo taken last Sunday at Hall Ranch in Lyons. My wife and son accompanied me and hit the trail while I painted. This also shows my compact gear: It all fits in a backpack, but I took a portfolio as well as I am using some larger panels.
Painting on site is always such a joy! In some of the outings, I joined other painters, which made it even more fun! I'll be sharing some of the resulting sketches and paintings in upcoming posts.

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Greens of Summers Past

The Greens of Summers Past, watercolor on Yupo, 20x26

Nowadays, Summer arrives with the sound of children on vacation playing in the neighborhood... Thinking back of younger years my summers were also filled with the sounds of friends playing in the back yard or on the streets, but also the loud noise of cicadas, the warm, humid air of southern Brazil and the intense, unforgiving green of the landscape. It was in this nostalgic, peaceful mood that I painted my latest creation on Yupo synthetic paper, of a scene in a park near my sister's home in Castro, Brazil. It was based on a study I did on my sketchbook. Simpler days that can still inspire...

This painting was done with only four colors, and only one green. I took advantage of the variations allowed by the color green apatite genuine from Daniel Smith to create a range of greens. When applied very densely, this color is very dark. I layered a thick coat all over the colored areas, and later painted back into some sections with clear water, diluting the pigment to lighter, warmer greens to create the main tree and other features. The sky and the house and the highlights in the water reflections were all lifted back to white, in a negative shaping process akin to carving. I'm including below a detail, to show some of the textural effects of the color on Yupo, some intentional, some less controlled.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Boulder County Plein Air Art Exhibit

This a recent plein air study done on location in North Boulder, celebrating the fact that the weather is more friendly nowadays, and that I have been accepted into the first Boulder Country Plein Air Art Exhibit. The 16 selected artists will be doing their paintings in June, and the exhibit will be held from August 1st to September 3rd, in two different locations, in Boulder and Longmont. Four guest artists will also add four paintings each to the show, for a total of 80 pieces portraying the beauty and variety of the local open spaces, from lakes to museums to mountains.

The painting above was done with a single brush, a squirrel mop size 6, on a 18x12 sheet of Fabriano Artistico rough paper. All the colors are M. Graham: ultramarine blue, cobalt violet, yellow ochre, cobalt teal, viridian, burnt sienna, permanent alizarin crimson, and burnt umber. I used a lot of drybrush to bring out the textures of bark, ground and rock.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Hazy Lazy Morning Light! (Part 2)

In my previous post, I told the story behind the painting Hazy Lazy Morning Light. I painted it on my birthday. I didn't have a lot of time, so I had to work very fast, which explains why some things didn't go as planned. Here's how the process of painting it went:

1. I started with a light drawing on Fabriano Artistico 140lb rough natural white paper. I wetted the top of the sheet, placed a light wash of Indian yellow (Daler-Rowney) and dropped in some quinacridone rose (M. Graham), cobalt turquoise (W&N) and permanent olive green (Schmincke).

2. I applied cerulean blue (W&N) mixed with some quinacridone burnt orange (Da Vinci) for the background trees, and mixed some ultramarine finest (Schmincke) with the previous colors to create the darker areas, trying for a continuous shape.

3. I painted the boats and the reflections in one go, using varied mixes of the same colors as above. I worked around the white details of the top of the boats. I overworked the reflections, they should have been simpler.

4. I used some masking tape to cover some areas, applied water and lifted a little with a moist brush, to indicate the light through the trees.

5. I overdid the lifting, should have been only one or two areas... At this stage I also darkened some of the areas around the house with ultramarine finest and added more Indian yellow.

6. Throughout, I used only two brushes, a squirrel mop #6 and a kolinsky round #12 for the details. The planning and concept took quite a while, but the painting was completed in a few hours, just in time to get ready and head over to Golden for the opening reception of the CWS State Show.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Hazy Lazy Morning Light! (part 1)

A year ago, I was in Ireland on a business trip and took a side trip from Dublin through the Wicklow Mountains, on my way to Kilkenny. My intention was to see some sights and do some paintings on site.

I spent the first night in the beautiful village of Graiguenamanagh, in an Inn by the river Barrow. I woke up very early in the morning, and opened my third-floor window to a wonderful view of sunshine through the mist and boats lined along the river all the way to the old stone bridge. I don't know how long I spent bent over the window sill looking in every direction, snapping photos, taking it all in. By the time I did take notice, I was freezing in the March morning air, in my shorts only, I could not feel my ears, my fingers could hardly press the shutter button anymore. I had to make some hot tea and get back under the covers to warm up again. As they say: Beware of wonder... Later that morning, after breakfast, much warmer, I went out and completed a painting on site.

The reference for this painting was one of the many photos I took from the window that morning. My next post will include the step by step progression of the painting.

Hazy Lazy Morning Light, watercolor on paper, 16x12

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Award at WAS-H 34th International Exhibit

I learned I received the Board of Directors award at the Watercolor Art Society - Houston 34th International Exhibit, which is currently being held in Houston. This is a great incentive, and even greater honor considering that the juror was John Salminen, whose work I hold in the highest regard. The awards ceremony was last Friday, unfortunately I could not attend in person. The list of winners is now posted in the WAS-H website. The show is open until April 15th.

Monday, March 14, 2011

CWS 2011 State Exhibit Opening Reception

My painting "Grattan Bridge" (detail on the left) will be featured in the Colorado Watercolor Society 20th State Watermedia Exhibit, which opens this Friday at the Foothills Art Center, at 809 Fifteenth Street, in Golden, Colorado.

The exhibit showcases 80 Colorado artists, selected by juror Soon Warren of Fort Worth, Texas.

The opening reception will start at 6:30 and is open to the public.
It is also my birthday... an extra reason for you to join us and celebrate!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Demo at the Colorado Watercolor Society, part 2

This is a detail of the finished stage of the painting I started in my demo at the CWS general meeting last week, as reported in my last post.

The detail shows the variety of the color, texture and brushwork that went into the piece. Some shapes have been refined, added, lifted, taking advantage of the characteristics of the Aquabord support, whereas other shapes remain as first placed during the demo.

Below is the image of the complete painting:
A Morning in Inistioge, Ireland
. Watercolor on Aquabord, 16x20.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Demo at the Colorado Watercolor Society

This week I had the honor to be one of several artists invited to perform a live demo at the Colorado Watercolor Society, as part of the program for the February general meeting. There was great attendance and the responses were very positive.

I did my demo of a painting sketch on Aquabord, for the benefit of those who were unfamiliar with this support. My subject was the same street scene in Inistioge, Ireland, which I had portrayed in my sketchbook and posted on this blog before.

During the allowed time of one hour, I did my best to answer questions and narrate the thinking process behind the painting, while battling very dry conditions from the air-conditioning and paint runs on a near vertical board. I worked with my usual squirrel mops, sizes 6 and 8, and synthetic rounds, sizes 12 and 16, and used a limited palette of ultramarine finest, perylene maroon, quinacridone burnt orange and cobalt turquoise, with some touches of sepia, cadmium scarlet and neutral tint.

Despite the furious pace and loose approach, I did not complete the painting, but there was enough opportunity to discuss and show the characteristics of the materials, demonstrate some techniques and offer a glimpse at what the normal process would have been like. Below is an image of the study at the point where the demo ended, I will work on it further and later post the completed painting.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Sometimes Good Things Come in Pairs!

Supposedly, misery loves company, but sometimes good things also come in pairs. Even though I find guinea fowl curious creatures and decided to do this sketch of two of them, that is not really what I am talking about...

I just got good news of acceptance into two upcoming exhibits: The Rockies West 18th Annual National Exhibition, juried by Paul Jackson, and the Colorado Watercolor Society 20th State Watercolor Exhibition, juried by Soon Warren.

This is a good start towards my goal of exhibiting more often and more widely in 2011. Last year I was very busy being a new father and limited myself to only a few events. I will be posting more information about these two shows, which happen in March.

And since I did mention the guinea fowl, this is another page of my sketch book... I observed them at a farm during my trip to Brazil, and thought this would be a good subject for a "lineless" sketch, in which I try to paint directly, without pencil lines or any drawing, by observing and reproducing with the brush the shapes I see. This is a fun exercise to do and it helps loosen up from the rigidity of lines.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Happy New Year!

Happy 2011! I believe this will be a busy, eventful year for myself, and I wish you a lot of health, happiness and success as well.

I'm just back from a trip to spend Christmas with my family in Brazil. It was great to see everyone and they were particularly thrilled to spend time with our 14-month-old son. The image above is a study of my nephew Alexandre, based on a photo I took while he watched a movie. He is such a handsome boy, so full of character, I look forward to painting a full size portrait of him. This sketch is 6x9, painted with a size 12 synthetic round, with cadmium yellow, cadmium scarlet, burnt sienna, cobalt turquoise, sepia and light ochre.