Category Archives: Painting

Rita’s Portrait ~~ Session Five: More Home Work, using the iPad

I had made good progress during my work based on the reference photograph, but I decided it wasn’t good enough.  As a way to visualize changes that might improve the painting, I decided to do a mark-up on the iPad, using a side-by-side comparison with the reference photo.

markup of portrait using iPad

markup of painted portrait, as a result of side-by-side comparison with photo. iPad screenshot.

I cropped the photo included in my September 8th post and imported it digitally into the ArtRage app on my iPad.  I then ‘painted’ over the portrait area, trying to remedy the problems I identified in the painting.  This was a freehand process, done by ‘eyeballing’ the photo reference.  ArtRage is not able to make measurements for a closer comparison of the two images.

I like this markup as well as the final painting — if not more!  The ability to easily edit iPad marks liberates me from feeling that each (potentially incorrect) modification is ‘permanent’.  Playing around with the marks often yields spontaneous and interesting ideas that I would never have attempted initially in oils.

Even though I liked the resulting mark-up, I knew it would still be a challenge to implement these ideas in oil paint on the actual painting.


Rita’s Portrait ~~ Session Four: Some Home Work

A few days after my third meeting with Rita, I decided to spend some time at home, making corrections based on the photo I’d taken at the prior session.  Then I blew up a print of the photo, marked up the dimensions of key facial features and then taped it beside my updated portrait for a closer comparison.

A quick look confirms that the portrait is better than it had been, but . . .  the chin is too long.  The lower cheeks and forehead are too narrow.  The nose isn’t quite right and the eye on our left droops too much.  The hair is too high (but I love it so!  Will I bite the bullet and whittle it down?)

session five, after implementing changes identified via my iPad analysis

session five, after implementing changes identified via my iPad analysis

I show it to Rita who likes it ‘as is’ and doesn’t want me to make more changes.  Hmmmm.  What to do?

Fresh Start ~~ Rita’s new pose, on linen

At our next session, I posed Rita looking straight ahead.  I thought that would be contemporary, as well as more fun for both of us.  We could see each other, converse more easily, and I could watch her sparkling eyes as I painted.  I thought it also might help her hold a little grin ~~ I knew I’d be grinning at her the whole time and grins are infectious.

Rita, first session in oils on linen.

Rita, first session in oils on linen.

Here’s how the painting looked at the end of the first session with oils.  My main goals were to situate her on the canvas, get an approximation of her bright shirt, rough out the face contours, and depict her silver hair in luscious pale colors.


A Second Painting for the Writers Center Exhibit

Here’s another of my paintings to be featured at the Writers Center exhibit, opening in late June.  A ‘plein air’ painting (done in the great outdoors) painted along S Street, NW, DC, in a workshop offered by Carol Rubin, another wonderful artist.

three colorful bushes on S Street, NW, DC

S Street Lollipops.  Oil on Linen Panel.


Another Upcoming Exhibit ~~ Ten Paintings at the DC Writers Center!

The wonderful DC-area Writers Center regularly hosts art exhibits in its large space, featuring the works of local artists.  Ten of my paintings will be included in the next show, scheduled to open in late June.  This exhibit is organized around the works of those who have painted with Gonzalo Navarro, a fellow teacher at the Yellow Barn Studio in Glen Echo, MD.  I have enjoyed Gonzalo’s teaching expertise — it’s always good to practice skills under the tutelage of an expert in portraiture and figurative painting.  It’s great to have Gonzalo at the Yellow Barn, as well as Maud Taber-Thomas, supplementing the excellent portraiture teaching of Gavin Glakas.

Here is one of the paintings I’ll show in the upcoming exhibit.  More to follow.

ballerina in profile

Pensive Ballerina.  Oil on Arches Oil Paper.


Upcoming Juried Exhibit – Second Year Selected

I’m honored to have been selected again for inclusion in the second annual Hill Center Regional Juried Exhibition.  The judge this year is Philip Kennicott, Art and Architecture Critic for The Washington Post.  Here’s my painting, one of 65 works selected from over 450 works submitted by almost 100 artists.  I must admit – I was surprised!

Fall on the C & O Canal

Blazing Canal.  Gouache on Paper.


Portrait Workshop with Bill Schneider

I recently studied portrait painting with Bill Schneider.  After he did a wonderful demo, Bill had us emulate Nicholai Fechin’s gorgeous ‘broken color’ style, by copying (on a larger scale, so we could practice our facial measuring skills) some Fechin portraits.

Fechin's portrait (L) and my copy.  oil on canvas.

Fechin’s portrait (L) and my copy. oil on canvas.

First I copied one of Fechin’s beautiful women.  And then this precious child.

Fechin's portrait (L) & MOW copy.  oil on canvas.

Fechin’s portrait (L) & my copy. oil on canvas.

The next day we painted from a live model, attempting to apply the broken color method on our own.  Quite a difference in beauty, eh?  (Just keeping it real!)


Working toward Fechin’s ‘broken color’ in painting from life. oil on Arches oil paper.

I ended the weekend workshop with lots to practice and mull.  Thanks, Bill!


Painting a Memory of Jeremiah’s Wedding

Before Ingrid & Jeremiah’s wedding recedes into fond memories, I wanted to paint a tangible memento, based on a photo taken by my niece Tess (Jeremiah’s sister).  Actually, a number of photos of the beautiful flower girls captured my artist’s fancy.  Here’s the first one I tackled.  Maybe there will be more.

Wedding Flowers.  Oil on Paper.

Wedding Flowers. Oil on Paper.

Starting to Work on a Series of Abstract Paintings

Apart from my iPad doodles, I haven’t done many abstract paintings.  Here’s the first I’ve done in long time.  I hope to make a series of variations on this theme.  Like good abstracts should be (I’ve heard), this one is based on real world information.  I’m not going to tell you (yet) the source of my inspiration.  Any ideas??

Abstraction in Blues #1.  Oil on Arches Oil Paper.

Abstraction in Blues #1. Oil on Arches Oil Paper.

We Share Our Color Learnings

Post-show doldrums are a great time to share insights from prior workshops.  Several of us ‘7 Palettes’ have been sharing new color mixing techniques this week.  Here’s what I passed along from the fabulous Terry Miura workshop my sister Ceci and I attended awhile back.

Here’s a glimpse of Terry’s palette:


Terry Miura’s Limited Palette

And here are insights about painting the figure using a limited earth-tone palette:

  • Select one of each ‘primary’ color, plus white:   yellow ochre; transparent iron oxide red (‘earth red’ in some brands) , ivory black (standing in for blue) and Titanium white.
  • Using a palette knife, make two ‘puddles’ of paint consisting of a bit of each of the primary colors (in varying proportions, obviously):   a light-toned puddle for use in painting light areas of the figure and a dark toned puddle for shadowed areas.
  • To add variety to the light and shadow areas of the painting, ‘push’ each puddle toward other colors and values by adding relatively more of desired dominant colors and less of the subordinated colors.  For example, mix into part of the light puddle a bit more yellow ochre & some black to make a greenish variant.
  • Make sure that none of the darker values in the light puddle is as dark as the lightest light value in the dark puddle and vice versa.  Imagine a line down your palette between the two puddles to keep them strictly separate.
  • Paint the light areas of the figure using only the light puddle and its variants; and paint the shadowed areas of the figure using only with the dark puddle and its variants.
  • Assuming you’ve drawn the figure fairly well, you’ve got a fine looking painting!

Here’s Terry’s beautiful twenty minute demo!

Terry's nude.

Terry’s nude.