Monday, October 1, 2018

Opening Day at 7th Street Studios

Yesterday the doors to 7th Street Studios opened to the public. An avalanche of hard work has devoured all my time (and the time of some lovely volunteers) for the past two months, so today I think I'll.......just relax and do some laundry.

Anyhow, here are some photos of the place all fixed up. The only things missing are the shoji screens I've ordered, which will be put into floor stands so the panels line up straight, and used to divide a few studios off from the large, main space.

These photos were all taken before any people came, but there were many visitors!

Classes begin Oct. 18. 

Looking north, with a painting by muralist Tim Gibson in the background.

A place to relax.

 My still life collection- finally enough space for it all and room for more!

 A collection of plaster casts, several from the Giust Gallery near Boston.
Three more are on the way!

Classes begin Oct. 18. 

Saturday, August 11, 2018

A New Art Center

I've got intense plans underway to open an art center in my hometown of Perkasie, which is central to the Upper Bucks County area. 7th Street Studios will have some exhibition space, and room for an art supply retail shop, but the primary use will be for drawing and painting classes and open membership studio space for artists.

One major draw is going to be a fine collection of plaster cast sculptures for subject matter, as well as large collections of seashells, old tools, plants- anything that holds visual fascination for artists.
Here are a few sculptures on my shopping list, all sold by the Guist Gallery, near Boston. The quality seems so superior to other plaster casts sold online in the U.S. Which ones do you like best?

I have a Kickstarter campaign to raise $2000- which I must meet or I get nothing. This will help pay for the sculptures, wooden easels and a digital projector for "artist talks". I'm using my own funds to cover the other costs (of which there are many!)

If you would consider giving any amount at all- even $1- please go for it! Thanks so much.

More details about 7th Street Studios can be found at the website.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Spiral and Twist

oil on linen mounted on board 8" x 8"

I've been patiently plugging away at this painting of a shell hung on my studio wall, but now that it's finished I'm changing direction for a while. 

I'm excited and proud to say that I'm going to be opening a new business in September, and need to spend August getting ready. 

7th Street Studios will open its doors this fall in Perkasie, PA. It's a beautiful 3000 square foot space that will be home to several studio spaces as well as two teaching areas, exhibition space and room for things such as group crits, artist talks and watching films about art and artists. It's a dream I've had for a long time, and I'm super excited. 

Thursday, June 28, 2018


oil on canvas mounted on board 6" x 6"

I love the shape of all pears, but especially this one with its chunky bottom.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

White Stack

oil on canvas mounted on board 8" x 6"

I'm running a summer painting group, where we try out a new challenge each week. The idea is to try something a little different- a new technique or subject matter that we aren't quite comfortable using yet. 

This week's challenge was to paint on black gesso. I found the process intriguing. It felt more like using pastel than paint, because the lights stand out so beautifully against the dark surface, but the paint had to be built up thickly to really cover the black. 

I enjoyed keeping the shadow areas large simple shapes, and letting the black peep through here and there. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Robert Mueller (second portrait)

oil on board 8" x 6"

I still have my mind on this guy. My first portrait of him was a profile view, and I wanted to try painting his full face. I like his expression here, which I interpret as a mixture of caution and intelligence. 

When I paint a portrait, getting a likeness that satisfies me usually doesn't happen until the final day. There is lots of fussing over the mouth and eyes, but overall I may spend more time on the non-features, like the folds of skin under the eyes, and the shape of the forehead, cheeks and chin. That's where the real likeness is found. 

My recipe for painting a portrait from an image:

1. Paint simultaneously from a color image and a black-and-white version to get both the colors and values right.

2. Paint the entire thing upside down, but frequently turn it right-side up to check results.

3. Paint the details, then when you get tired of them and the painting seems to be going nowhere, move your easel back 12 feet from the images and paint from that distance. It's help pull the portrait together, and the main large shapes will be more apparent. 

Monday, May 21, 2018

Mirrored Still Life with Wooden Garlic

oil on canvas mounted on board 8"x 8"

This was a tough one. The still life was lit with such a strong spotlight that I needed to keep the shadows fairly dark in order to show their strong contrast with the brilliantly lit areas. As always, I never seem to feel sure as to how much detail I want to include. Sometimes lots of detail helps a painting be strong, sometimes it hurts! 

Sunday, May 13, 2018

White Tulips

charcoal and conte crayon 12" x 9"

I love working in charcoal, but sometimes feel like I'm fighting against the old-timey look that seems part of the medium. I ended up using a whole lot of white crayon, which was enjoyable. 

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Robert Mueller

oil on board 6" x 8"

There's a bit of a backstory to this portrait. In 2012 I painted a portrait of President Barack Obama. In 2016, shortly after Donald Trump won the election, someone challenged me to paint Trump, not hatefully or sarcastically, but "showing his humanity". 

I have spent hours pouring over available images of Trump, trying to choose one that I'd find revealing of his innermost self, without seeming to be an easy "hit piece". I started two paintings of him and abandoned them both. I may try again. 

But in the meantime, I kept thinking of Attorney Robert Mueller, and how much I was dying to paint him- and so it goes. The heart wants what it wants (an Emily Dickinson quote).

Friday, April 20, 2018

Purple Balance

oil on canvas mounted on board 8" x 8"

This is the third in my little series of "Balance" paintings, each focusing on a different color. The first, "Yellow Balance", came easily and quickly. The second, "Blue Balance" took much longer. This one took the longest- I found purple a much harder color to work with. 

Saying that, I'm not sure why how long a painting takes should be such a concern of mine. A painting takes as long as it takes. 

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Blue Balance with Magnolia Blossom

oil on canvas mounted on board 8"x 8"

Here is a composition with mainly blue tones, with just a bit of warmth provided by the flower. My challenge was choose a subject with a focus on one color, without that limitation making the painting boring.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Yellow Balance

oil on prepared paper 8"x 8"

This is the first of several studies I'm going to paint with a single color as the main theme. It's a prep for an upcoming class with each week focusing on a different color. 

I always find yellow a challenge. Cool yellows must not look too green, and yellow in deep shadow is so hard to get just right.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Conch Shell on Green

oil on paper mounted on board 8"x 8"

I painted this shell using the Zorn Palette (just white, black, yellow ocher and cadmium red), but changed my mind about the background. I wanted the green to be intense, as to contrast with the subtle colors of the shell, so went outside of the (Zorn) box.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

After Anders Zorn's "Emma Zorn Reading"

oil on paper mounted on board 10"x15"

I'm still in the midst of teaching a six week class using the "Zorn Palette", and thought I could learn by copying one his paintings. As in the original, I used just titanium white, ivory black, yellow ocher and cadmium red. 

Anders Zorn's portrait of his wife is 15.8 × 23.9 in, while my copy is much smaller. Zorn's style is often thought of as full of bravura, but I found the soft, internal expression of the woman subtly and lovingly painted.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Margot on Christmas

oil on board 7" x 9"

This is my grandniece Margo, with the photo credit going to my nephew Jordan Meeder.

I'm gearing up to teach my limited palette class, and wanted to try the Zorn palette on a portrait. Just using white, black, yellow ocher and cadmium red makes painting seem closer to drawing- the values become more important than getting the exact right color. Every tone leads to just two questions- how light/dark is it, and is it cool or warm?

Here is the original photo.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017


pastel on pumice board 8"x 10"

I like the intelligent look this goat is giving me. 

I've come to think that, although the handling takes some getting used to, pastels are not so different from oils. They are a little easier and faster to blend, just needing a swipe with a finger, but it's still all about values.

Time to get back to oils, as I'll be teaching a limited palette class in January. I spent the afternoon making a chart of Anders Zorn's colors, just yellow ocher, cadmium red, ivory black and white mixed to get a wide range of colors.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

White Apple

pastel on pumice board 20"x 20"

I've been continuing to experiment with pastel. This started out loose (and I liked the looseness), but gradually settled down into something quieter and more balanced.

Never having taken a pastel class, and not knowing any pastel artists well, I feel like I need to find my own way with the medium. I ordered a set of very soft pastels by Sennelier, but found them much too soft for details. Then I ordered Nupastels, which I can sharpen to nice points using a razor. I'm very happy with using the two sets in combination.

I tried using fixitive on a section and it darkened the colors dreadfully, so I drew over that area. 

Friday, November 3, 2017

Two Shells on Blue Paper

pastel on paper 12" x 16 3/4"

Working in pastel is giving me a real jolt. It's so difficult! Yet the the feel of the soft sticks in my fingers, and the beautiful textures they give are satisfying. I thought it would be kind of like drawing in charcoal, except in color. Instead I find it hard to be very exacting, and easy to get muddy colors (on that point I'm disagreeing with my last post).  I can now see why so many pastel artists end up not blending colors, but instead placing strokes of differing colors side by side. 

This is drawn on charcoal paper, but I've been reading about preparing my own rough surfaces by mixing ground pumice into gesso and spreading it on heavyweight illustration board. Perhaps I'll enjoy a rougher, sturdier surface. Or perhaps I'll give up and go back to oils!

What really bothers me is having to leave this without a fixitive spray. How on earth to store it? It's as smudge-able as a sidewalk chalk drawing. 

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Conch Shell on Red

 pastel 12" x 13"

This is my first attempt using pastels. I've had no interest in the medium until recently, an interest that grew out of the charcoal class I've been teaching. My demonstration drawings with charcoal and white chalk had me craving the feeling of a dry medium, but in color. 

I like strict realism in color, and sometimes find that pastel paintings are too pretty. Still, I think my paintings could use some bold color, which pastel makes quite hard to not achieve. 

So much to find out- some online articles I read say that fixitive doesn't really "fix" pastel drawings- that they'll still smudge. Also that it will darken the colors. Some fixitives that I look up on DickBlick say they are glossy. I wonder what effect that would have on pastel? 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Self at 58

charcoal and white conte crayon 25" x 16"

I was intrigued with the idea of being quite honest about getting older. So here I am.

I used two small mirrors to get this view, and boy, was it hard to keep my face in the same position! I had to keep moving my head to check my drawing's progress from a bit of a distance. For a long time it seemed I was drawing sections of my face that didn't line up with each other.