Monthly Archives: July 2011

Technical Insights from “Not Far from Home” #10

This is the tenth 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!


As I assess the works of the artists that have had the greatest impact on my development, one common denominator they share is the noted variety in the surface quality of their canvases.  Their technique wasn’t just “variety for varieties sake” in brushwork, but rather a calculated means of creating dimension, providing balance, and achieving the greatest luminosity that the paint film can provide.

Early on in my studies, I was enamored by the thick rich brushstrokes of many of the broad brush painters.  The temptation was to apply those same qualities to my own work but without the knowledge of where those strokes belonged.  I was copying the technique without the understanding of what the dimension of their stroke was accomplishing.  Along the way, a good friend shared the familiar proverb, “Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise men of old. Seek what they sought.”  What this meant to me was that as I was studying the subject from life, I needed to look at the given visual textures and only employ the technique that would best represent what I was seeing.  Not the other way around, where I would impose the technique I saw in others work onto the subject, often violating the respective textural accuracy.  To say it again, the textural brushwork only belongs where you are seeing texture on the subject. THIS IS HUGE and seems so obvious, but it is a common stumbling block.

This principal holds true for many techniques, not just the broad brush enthusiasts.  Issac Levitan’s glassy skies offer a terrific foil to the impasto trees and foregrounds, Alma Tadema’s textural drapery is a beautiful contrast to the silken marble surfaces and Nicolai Fechin’s pearlescent skin texture and tone are an amazing contrast to the peripheral elements of hair and fabric, to name a few.

This painting, “Jennifer”, featured in great detail in “Not Far from Home”, proved successful as I began to see and understand the beauty of this concept.  Keep Squinting!!!

For more info on “Not Far from Home”, click book.  Thanks!

book cover new web

Technical Insights from “Not Far from Home” #9

This is the ninth 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!
Working with models…
One of the peripheral joys of working from life for me, aside from the ability to witness the breathtaking light first hand as it descends on the model, is the privilege of enjoying the company of another human throughout the course of the day.
Part of that privilege has been the process of working with the same model over the course of many years, recording their lives from children into adulthood. Such is the case with several people from our community. The following photos show one such daughter of a dear friend who first sat for me at age nine and still poses for me today, years later.

There is a comfort and ease that works its way into the paintings that would not be present if the nervousness of the first sitting were always obvious on the models face. Nothing can be faked. I have tried to paint a relaxed mood that was not actually present on the models face many times only to wipe it out time after time. What I see is what will show in the end. While working with a familiar friend, I also find it somewhat of a relief not to have to make excuses for all of the idiosyncratic maneuvers I do as I prepare for the days work, whether it be the pacing, circling, sighing, designing and redesigning the set, or to once again answer the question, “Why are you squinting so much”?
Another bonus I have noticed in working with the same person repeatedly is the desire to avoid redundancy in the poses. As I am working with the same person, I am forced to come up with new concepts, whether it is in design, lighting or costume. During my studies of the masters, I often noticed the repetition of the same models as well.  John Waterhouse, John Singer Sargent, Carl Von Marr, Abbott Thayer,and of course Wyeth’s Helga to name a few.

This last photo is one of the latest paintings I have done of the same gal, almost 10 years later.  As you can see, she still loves cats!  As I scanned the pages of “Not Far from Home”, I noticed that there were 16 images of her…see if you can find them all!

book cover new web

For more info on “Not Far from Home”, click book.  Thanks!

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