Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Bringing the models to me

These three portrait studies are from my first week of having models come to pose in my own studio instead of traveling long distances to attend various painting groups around northern Vermont. I think it worked out pretty well - considering. The real problem that I was sick most of the week and actually had to cancel three modeling sessions.  The guy in the middle who posed was late and took so many long breaks and eventually fell asleep, so I had only about an hour to work on that one. Oh well, it is all a learning process and now, I am not only trying to learn to paint but am having to learn how to arrange that models and scheduling and how to deal more effectively with people. It is hard for me to tell the models what to do. I am not used to ordering people around.

Sunday, July 5, 2015


This is a painting I started last Thursday night at our Montpelier painting group. The model was entirely back lit, presenting quite a challenge for me. But I wanted to concentrate on the face so I went ahead with it.  I am fairly well pleased with the result - enough that I would like to work on it some more. I will even up the shadows, especially on the shoulder. And I will straighten the eyes. The hair looked like a glowing cloud against the dark background. I was encouraged to paint it in white for now and to work on it later with glazes after the paint dries. So that is what I will do.

Sunday, June 28, 2015


Thomas Urry Young

Sarah Ann Wilderspin
I have been making a lot of little paintings based on old black and white photos that I have found on the internet. These two people are part of my history - my great - great grandparents who lived in the first half of the nineteenth century in England and Ireland. I've been having so much fun with this series and now I am off on a whole new tangent.  I plan to create a gallery of family portraits for my nostalgia wall.

Saturday, June 20, 2015


I've been practicing my portrait skills by using old black and white photos as references. I supply the color and I try to work as quickly as possible.  I think that this exercise is a lot of fun and is teaching me to be faster, less uptight and more confident in painting. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015


I came across an old black and white photo of my uncle Sam, taken when he was about two years old. I felt compelled to convert it into a tiny color portrait.  This painting is 8"x6".  I find it really fun and useful to use a black and white photo as a reference for a color portrait.  I already know something about painting skin tones, so I can rely on that.  But since there are no colors there for me to try to copy, I won't slavishly try to render them exactly.  I tried to be a quick as I could with this one and had enough sense to know when to stop.  If I had worked on this any further, I think I would have lost all spontaneity and ruined it in a useless quest for perfection.  The perfect is the enemy of the good.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

The perfect is the enemy of the good.

Feeling myself somewhat at a loss about what to do next, I decided to just practice some little portraits based on photos.  This one is 8"x6".  I think that this is a good way to rekindle interest and to do something fresh rather than endlessly toiling over the same few pieces trying to reach perfection.  This little portrait may not be perfect, but it is good.  Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015


The last day of the workshop was a Saturday.  I was so sorry to see it end.  Max set up a difficult pose for the model, Pat, who somehow managed to hold it all day with a few breaks. Max asked him to pose as if he were just getting up out of the chair.  This meant that Pat couldn't relax at all, but had to keep his muscles tense all of the time.  I'm not used to working on the same alla prima piece for an entire day, but I did it that day and the result please me.  Afterwards, we all went out to eat at a Greek restaurant in Astoria, Queens.