Monday, December 3, 2012

Young Man Tired of his Hometown

oil on board

"Young Man Tired of his Hometown" says it all, but I could have alternatively titled this "Dreaming of Distant Lands"- but how corny would that be? Corny, but absolutely and positively true.

Over the past month or two I've tried to get back to still life, and have either not felt inspired enough to begin, or happy enough with my attempts to keep from wiping it out. I'm mystifed by this, as I spent almost half a year in 2011 just painting vegetables! My gut feeling about this is that paintings of figures can have more of an emotional impact, and that is what I am after.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Kashmiri Baby

oil on board

I wanted to keep this painting loose and have a more spontaneous approach than I'd had with the last one. I had to restrain myself from adding the kinds of delicate details that I love, but that can kill the spirit in a painting. I'm pretty happy with the way this one turned out, because I think I kept the plaintive expression of this baby- a baby beyond cuteness, from far away in Kashmir.

Thanks to Steve Evans again- this is the seventh in a series of portraits based on his world portrait photography. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Some Pig

oil on board

In Charlotte's Web, "SOME PIG" are the words that Charlotte weaves into her web, trying to persuade the farmer to not slaughter Wilbur.

This painting took a bit more time than I'd planned. I made everything too dark and then had to lighten it all up. Plus I kept getting sidetracked by the pig's wonderful whiskers- if I painted them too obviously, this sweet pig started to look not unlike a rat. Sort of like moles on a person's face- if you paint them, they will dominate!

Thanks again to Steve Evans for the use of his photo, "Iowa Pig". Yes, he takes photos of animals too!

Almost forgot- Nerdwallet featured my Obama portrait in their Best of Indie Spotlight: Election 2012 Obama and Romney

Monday, October 29, 2012

Two Framing Solutions

Someone who recently purchased one of my oil paintings on paper framed it so beautifully that I wanted to share her photo of the finished piece. She says it was framed by the Providence Picture Frame Company, a "firm that's been around since the 1800s, so they do a good job!"

I think my small paintings on heavyweight paper look best matted and under glass, and I love the way the edges of this painting are not covered by the cut mat. The substantial size of the mat looks great too. 

As for my paintings on board, I always recommend this floating panel frame made by the Metropolitan Picture Framing Company. You can order the frame online, and simply specify the size of the painting and the "float size"- the size of the gap between the painting and the frame. I always use a float size of 1/8 inch.

Just wanted to share. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Nepali Child

oil on board

Here I found myself wanting to honor the face of this one very particular (and very, very cute) individual, but NOT worry it to death.

I hadn't realized so many people live in Nepal- 26.6 million. The flag of Nepal is the only non-quadrilateral national flag, and it's beautiful:

This is the second in a series of portraits based on the work of the superb photographer Steve Evans.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Mumbai Girl

oil on board

This young girl is from Mumbai, also known as Bombay, India, the fourth most populated city in the world at 20.5 million. 

I'm embarking on a series of portraits based on the work of the superb photographer Steve Evans. (Steve generously allows adaptations and distributions of his work). There are so many disarming faces to choose from in his Flickr photostream that it was hard to know where to begin, but this young girl's slightly questioning smile really drew me in. Here is the original:

Saturday, October 13, 2012

October Morning

oil on paper

Back to landscape painting and loving it, although the mornings are getting cold. I need to get some fingerless gloves. Or make some.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Barack Obama

oil on board
I've got three things to say about this painting. One, I know it's a little cheesy to paint famous people but I really, really, really wanted to paint this man. Two, I hope to not make any enemies by having chosen Obama as my subject. Three, I've been wanting to slow down and get my teeth into a painting, and so I did.

The hardest part of this painting was the background and the suit and tie- to try and get them to not look really cheesy.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Questioning the Daily Painting Movement

An apple a day is good for you, but how about a painting a day?

Sometimes I wonder if anyone else ever feels a little trapped by the Daily Painting Movement- you know, to keep paintings small and work quickly no matter what. Most of all, to keep churning them out.

I'm going through some confusion over whether I want to paint quickly, or slow down and spend at least several days on a painting, or maybe even several weeks. I mean, what would happen if I spent a week on a painting? Would I get off to a good start and then ruin it by overworking, which has certainly happened to me? Or would I come up with a more satisfying statement? 

Would I make less money? (gulp)

It's a good thing to be able to simplify, and having to learn to finish up quickly has been good for me, but sometimes I wonder if the practice of Daily Painting encourages superficiality....please share your thoughts!  
Conversation continues here

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Three Girls in a Crowd


Here are three preteen girls, lots of sunlit blond hair and a feather boa. What's not to like?

I drew this from a photo I took on New Year's Day. Here is the original photo- you can see how much cropping it took to come up with a composition I liked (and 8 months passed before I realized I had something).

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Evening Light on the Casco Bay

oil on paper
I think this is perhaps my favorite of the paintings I did on Peaks Island last week. The situation didn't last long, so I painted like my pants were on fire.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Shed and Roof, Milford County

oil on paper

I know that many very good painters always work on a toned ground, and choose a tone that is in contrast to the main colors of a painting. For example, in a landscape with lots of green they may use a red or burnt umber tone. I've tried using a toned ground several times, and always decide anew that I dislike it. Seems like false information to me, to have the contrasting tones peeking through everywhere. Maybe I should get over that?

This was painted closer to home, in a beautifully hilly part of Bucks County. Two roads encircling this hill have the old-timey names of "Sleepy Hollow Road" and "Spinnerstown Road". I'm so happy to be living here after spending almost 20 years in Philadelphia. 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Carbon County Tree Farm

oil on paper
I've just returned from a week near Jim Thorpe, PA, which was the place for the annual week long Day family reunion. I had a great time, despite some inner tension over how much time to devote to painting vs. socializing. 

The area is beautiful, simply beautiful, and I found the local history of the town and area fascinating. I highly recommend the No. 9 coal mining tour if you are ever near Lansford. That is one unprettified, honest and amazing tour, and not for claustrophobics. 

I must see the movie "The Molly Maguires"

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Brussels Sprouts in a Box Lid

oil on board

Brussels Sprouts are my favorite vegetable, sliced in half and roasted with olive oil. I think I have that for dinner about twice a week. 

I've been wanting to get back to still life, so I can still work when the weather isn't fine for painting outdoors. After months of looking at complex panoramic views, and trying to get information down as quickly as possible (before the sun moves too much), it's been difficult for me to paint from a still life without staring too hard, getting too hung up on detail, and losing sight of the whole. This one went better than the last one (which I wiped out).

I'm a little shy about this, but what the heck. A Philadelphia videographer has made a short film about my work. John Thornton makes excellent films about nationally recognized artists, Philadelphia area artists and jazz musicians. You can view more of his work at his Rusty Scupperton YouTube channel

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Souderton Feed Mill

oil on paper

I'm not sure what this fantastic contraption made up of cylinders, triangles and lines is used for. I think maybe it is a fuel refinery (but please correct me if I'm wrong and I'll change the title). As far as what exactly goes on inside a fuel refinery- um, I really couldn't say but maybe this.

Added later: Guess what?! I heard from one of the owners of this facility, who has corrected me, and boy I sure needed correcting! He says "this is a grain storage facility with accompanying grain-moving equipment such as elevators, augurs, etc. The grain is moved from these outside silos (the cylinders) to equipment inside the feed mill to be processed into bird and animal feed." 

If you have a second, please check out my "Still Life of the Week" over in The Art Room.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Lumberville Towpath

oil on paper

I spent a lovely Sunday along the Delaware River, in the small and timeless town of Lumberville, PA. I went with two women painters, one of whom grew up in Lumberville and had lots of great memories of the place.

There were so many, many different shades of green in this scene that I worried the painting might be a little monotonous, but after a half hour of fumbling to make sense of it all by claiming the big basic shapes, it started to come together. The colors in the real painting are a tad bit richer and more varied then what you see here.

I've been feeling kind of stuck this past week. I've wanted to work in my studio, but feel so uninspired by still life after all this plein air painting. Wish I could get interested in a bowl of cherries again! 

Thursday, July 19, 2012


 oil on board

For me, a portrait is a careful balance between getting the little details right and trying to show the spirit of the person. I could have kept picking away at this, but when I started to feel like Raven was looking back at me, I stopped.

If you are so inclined, you can stop by The Art Room to see my choice for Still Life of the Week, and the latest contribution by another reader.

Monday, July 16, 2012

A Boy Behind a Girl


The last few days the skies have been full of dense haze or rain, and so instead of painting outside I've been working on business. It's not always such a bad thing to take a break from making art, but today I thought I'd get ill if I didn't paint or draw or something. 

I took this photo back in January, and it's been simmering in my brain ever since. I like the unclear meaning. In fact, I think that is what I like about painting and drawing- the ambiguity of meaning that is possible. 

This weekend I worked on my new website. I cancelled my FASO website and designed a new one using Other People's Pixels.  FASO is great, and they've always given me excellent technical help, but I was tired of spending $28 a month. OPP is $13 a month if you pay for a whole year in advance, and $16 monthly. So far I'm very pleased, and thought you might be too. 

Friday, June 29, 2012

Church Street House

oil on paper

I really enjoyed working on this one, despite the heat- it was about 95 degrees out, and I was standing in the sun. This large and attractive house is directly across the street from a Lutheran church, leading me to believe it used to be the parish house. I finished the painting at noon, when to my surprise the church bells sounded out the chorus from Beethoven's Ninth. 

I've got something new going on that I'm pretty excited about. I've put together my first art tutorial- "An Artist on a Budget". It covers what's in my toolbox of essential art supplies, as well as ways I've found to save money while still using quality materials.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Oil City, Little Grey House

oil on paper

One of the things I love about painting on location is the way the slim expanse of time I spend standing and working becomes a little pocket of memory. Even now, looking at this painting, I can remember the man who stopped to tell me now much he loves this view, and how St. Joseph's (seen here in the distance, looking a bit like a rabbit with very alert ears) has seen him through good times and bad. 

I also remember the 85 year old woman who came down off her porch three times to talk with me, walker and all. I remember exactly what she said- "Do you ever watch Bob Ross? He paints so fast and his hair is so curly. Well I guess he is deceased now." 

I remember the sounds, the smells, the quality of the light. It's almost as if I set up and meditated there. Nothing quite so peaceful yet so all absorbing as painting plein air, for me.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Artist Relocation Program in Oil City, PA

Early this month I drove across Pennsylvania from the east side to the west, and spent five days in Oil City, PA. Oil City has both an artist relocation program and extremely affordable housing, so I decided to visit.

When I first entered the city I breathed a sigh of relief, as my first impressions were positive. I knew that if I didn't find the place to be extremely paint-worthy, I just wasn't going to be interested, but one look at the city told me there would be plenty of scenes to paint. Oil City lies along the Allegheny River, is surrounded by dramatic hills, and seems to be watched over by the commanding and elegant presence of St. Joseph's Catholic Church.

St. Joseph's Catholic Church 

Here is another view of the same church, this time from below:

St. Joseph's Catholic Church

Oil City is divided by the Allegheny River into the "South Side" and "North Side". Beginning in the 1850's, barges were used to transport oil barrels down Oil Creek from Titusville, then sent on down the Allegheny River to Pittsburgh. Oil City was a boom town until the 1950's, and has suffered especially hard since the 1990's, when the companies of Quaker State, Pennzoil and Wolf's Head left town.  

Oil City, South Side

Oil City, North Side with Oil Creek entering the Allegheny

Most of my visit was spent painting outside, an excellent way to get a feel for a place as well as to meet the locals. I found the people friendly and down-to-earth. No putting on airs in Oil City! The people see what is right with their town, and also what isn't. Once while I was painting a beautiful panoramic view, a man stopped to tell me that he loves that view, and especially at night. Shortly after this an elderly woman came out of her house on a walker, carefully maneuvering her front steps to take a look at what I was doing. She pronounced Oil City as "dumpy". Since she is 85 years old and has lived here all her life, I imagine she is especially aware of all the changes Oil City has been through since the 1930s.

I visited the National Transit Studio building, where artists rent studios for .49 cents a square foot. It's an absolutely beautiful building, with space for art classes and two galleries.

National Transit Building

National Transit Building entrance

Gardens at the back of the National Transit Building

There are more than 25 artists in the building, and they come from all over the country, many of them from big cities such as Chicago and L.A. 

Okay, this is not a paid advertisement, so I'm not going to hide evidence of problems. While the National Transit Building is in good shape, many of the buildings downtown are empty or in sad shape:


The Empty Oil City National Bank

Some of the Victorian style homes are stunning:

While many, many others are in need of repair:

Still, $60,000 will buy you a very decent place, and how many towns can offer anything like that?

Whenever I'm in a new place it doesn't take me long to check out the local library. The Oil City Library is one of the best I've seen in a town of this size, large and comfortable and, of course, packed with books.

Oil City Library

A word about the food. If I move to Oil City, I'll need to grow a large vegetable garden or belong to a CSA. I'll also take monthly drives to the Wegman's in Erie to stock up on whole grains. Simply put, the local supermarkets and restaurants do not cater to vegetarians. 

That being said, the positives about Oil City warrant giving the place some serious consideration. The affordability of the housing and studio space, the 100% financing offered to artists buying a home in the area, the natural beauty of the dramatic landscape as well as the friendliness of the people are all powerful incentives for artists to consider relocating to Oil City.

If you would like to find out more about the Oil City Artists Relocation Program, you can email Joann Wheeler for more information, and put the words "artist relocation" in your subject line.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

View from Little Round Top, Evening

oil on paper
I worked on this painting from the top of "Little Round Top" for a couple hours after dinner, then watched the sunset. I'll miss Gettysburg.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Apple Orchard, Gettysburg

oil on paper 5.75"x7"
I'm starting to feel more settled after so many days on the road. Participating in the Gettysburg Artist Colony this past week was enlightening in many ways. For one thing, it made me realize how odd I am. Ha! Yes, shortly after arriving at a new location, the other artists seemed to be able to dive right in and paint while I would wander for 20, 30, 40 minutes trying to find something- I knew not what until it appeared. And to my embarrassment, sometimes nothing struck my fancy and I just didn't paint.

This...slowness of getting in gear always happens when I am new to an area, but all too often just plain happens. And if I'm not completely pleased with a composition, then a subject is just a collection of disparate little parts- gestalt never happens, and painting is as dull as sitting in a waiting room. Yet Gettysburg was SO beautiful!! 

Here is a painting completed at the Rose Farm in Gettysburg. I had snuck away from the group and arrived an hour early, giving me some lead time to actually get something done with the allotted time. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

View from Little Round Top

oil on paper
I'm back from five days of painting in Oil City, then four days of painting in Gettysburg, PA. Here is a view from Little Round Top, my favorite spot in all of Gettysburg. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Peony in Brown Dish

oil on panel

I'm painting plein air at the Gettsyburg Festival for several days, but am re-posting a painting from a ways back. This painting is now available for purchase.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Kiwano Melon in a Brown Dish

oil on panel

I'm fond of this painting, and have been hanging on to it for a while, but now I've decided to list it for sale. This is a much better photo than the one I originally posted.

The brown of the ceramic dish holds the reflection of a Labor Day's blue sky.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

House Behind a House, Sellersville

oil on paper

This painting is not for sale yet. I'll be exhibiting it at the Gettysburg Festival in mid June.

This is a two-morning study of two homes in Sellersville, birthplace of the painter Walter Emerson Baum. While I was painting, a man stopped by to tell me that he bought his home from Walter Baum. In fact, I do believe Mr. Baum painted this exact scene (minus the shed), but so far I haven't found the image online.

Here is a painting of Baum's that I especially like:

Walter Emerson Baum
The Narrows  1936

Friday, May 18, 2012

Four Trees

oil on paper

These four trees live on a farm in Upper Bucks County. They happened to be arranged just right, so I painted them. The road is Creamery Road- sometimes I wonder just how many thousands of Creamery Roads there are in the states.

It's wonderful, wonderful, wonderful to be painting outside again. Life is better than good. Also, I have some new brushes, Silver Bristlon Brights. They are the best brushes I've ever used!