Tag Archives: inspiration

Technical Insights from “Not Far from Home” #8

This is the eighth  installment from the series of posts that will describe my thoughts and  technical insights from selected works included in our newly released book, “Not Far from Home”….Enjoy!

Looking for the Abstract….

At the outset of a painting, the thread of inspiration comes and I begin by gathering the model and objects that will build the composition…

There have been times when setting up the pose, whether out of laziness, fear, or just because I have to start somewhere, I begin to arrange the elements in a predictable fashion that seems right at first, but when observed with a critical eye later, it is obvious that the attempt is lacking.  I have found that this is not the time to give up, grab the brushes and paint it anyway, hoping that some flashy brushstrokes will save the weak arrangement.  When I realize that my composition is too staged, or lacks the power I had initially envisioned, it is imperative that I find a way to get a fresh look at the elements in front of me before the brushes get wet.   Sometimes just a few minutes away from the model can help.  Then upon my return, I keep an eye on the model when they are not “posing”, looking for an unexpected turn or twist in their line that lifts me from the conventional start.  Richard Schmid gave us this hint many years ago. (Thank you Richard!)

Another sure way to shake up the composition and mood is to spin the model stand 180 degrees to a backlit approach, always being aware that the right combination of shapes may appear at any point.  Another would be to change the vantage point height, maybe higher, maybe lower… After all, the most important matter is that I end up with an interesting arrangement of abstract shapes that weave the eye around the canvas.

As I am surveying for a fresher look, I find it necessary to divorce myself from the literal subject to more effectively see the composition in the abstract.  I have found my best compositions have risen from such an approach.

The arrangement for “Backlit Peonies”, page 75 from “Not Far from Home”, came about by such a sequence of events.  The detail on the opposite page in the book further exemplifies the abstract nature of the piece… Enjoy!

book cover new web

Not Far From Home”   click book for more info.  Thanks!


Technical Insights from “Not Far from Home” #7

This is the seventh  installment from the series of posts that will describe my thoughts and  technical insights from selected works included in our newly released book, “Not Far from Home”….Enjoy!

Inspiration and obedience…

Have you ever had the feeling that you needed to be painting a subject more grandiose than what lay presently before you in its simple, sensitive beauty.  I need to confess that I have and am amazed at my thick-headedness as I have ignored the profound, staggering elegance of the subject right before my eyes in hopes to find something “more important”.

I have found this hubris humbling as I have tried to deny the inspiration that has been given, picking and choosing, trying to squelch the “insignificant” ones to find a more profound “storyline”.  In the temptation to “tell a lofty story” in the literal sense with the subject, I have overlooked the grander message that the simple beauty is conveying.

The “Visit”, as Canadian composer Loreena McKennitt refers to the inspiration, should not be ignored.  I truly believe that it was given for a clear purpose and that my best works were completed when I have followed the initial spark.

I do not say this to advocate a lazy approach in looking for a subject that moves us deeply or to shirk the responsibility of developing more complex compositions, but too often I have let the temptation to paint something “profound and important” block the true inspiration God has given in the twist of a branch or the ever so subtle shift from red to green in the face of the model.

Certainly we should continue to strive toward greater heights as we develop our artistic abilities in whatever direction that leads us, but I for one, need to “obey”, for lack of a better word, and proceed as directed.  My greatest joy in painting has followed when I have.

In my opinion, no profounder message could have been told than that of which these cedar trees expressed.

My job was to absorb the beauty, convey the message and rejoice…

book cover new web

Not Far from Home” 


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