Tuesday, December 8, 2015


I've been looking at Sorolla's apunte's lately. That's the word used in a book I have for his small, quick oil sketches he made on sight. The english translation is simply note. And that's what they are, quick notes of a scene. I'll put some up on a later post, but not here with mine!

This is a quick apunte I did in downtown Phoenix. The Westward Ho, Fillmore and Central.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Late Afternoon Sun

A view of Phoenix on a winter day, late afternoon.
Focused on simplifying shapes and values.

6 x 8, oil on card board

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Along the Canal

Painting Again

I haven't been out painting much lately. I've been busy with illustration work and teaching. But I finally got out last week and painted this house in Mesa. I intended to add the windows when I got back to the studio but I liked the relationship of the masses too much and decided to leave them out.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015


I did this little gouache sketch this morning. I was a little disappointed with it until I scanned it and viewed it on the screen. It looked a lot better. The problem is, it looked better because my scanner intensified the color. So my plan is to do a larger oil painting based on the saturated color. Is that cheating? I don't know and I don't really care. I just like the color.

On another note, I have a lot of illustration work going on right now ( for which I am glad!) so I don't have much time for my own painting. Additionally, the gallery that I have been showing at for the last 8 years closed last month. So I'm taking this time to do some things for myself without bothering with that great creativity killer: will it sell. I'm taking an hour here and an hour there to do quick little paintings, exploring different means of visual expression, trying to get back to some of my more abstract roots.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Low Key With A Few Lights

It looks like a storm in the background. it's actually a mountain.
This is an hour sketch. Working on my speed skills.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Antigua Guatemala

Earlier this year I went on a short trip to Guatemala. This painting is a 1 hour study from a photo I took.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Not Alla Prima

As much as I love alla prima painting, there is a richness and depth that can be had with working and reworking over a painting. This one is an example of that. I did a lot of glazing, scraping  and over painting.

It's not finished, I've been working on it off and on for a few months.

Monday, July 6, 2015


Just South of Downtown Phoenix in the old warehouse district. A little gouache study.

I may have mentioned before, I have a love hate relationship with gouache. I enjoy it's opacity and the unexpected accidents that happen. And I love the matte satin finish. It can be a little tricky though because it changes value so much as it dries.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015


I painted last night at the open studio. Wasn't happy with the results so I scraped it down. It looked better. I then worked on it a little at home.

Monday, May 11, 2015


This is a recent illustration for a magazine. (Hasn't yet been published so I probably shouldn't say who it is for).

Sunday, April 26, 2015


ring the bells that still can ring
forget your perfect offering
there is a crack in everything 
that's how the light gets in

Leonard Cohen

Friday, April 24, 2015

Color Sketches

I have a couple of magazine illustration assignments I'm currently working on. Here are the color sketches I've done in gouache.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015


Turns out I wasn't finished. A kind soul from the internet pointed out that I had spelled Charlie Chaplin's name incorrectly. Here is the corrected version.

I started this painting 3 months ago. Due to schedule and a few problem areas in the painting, it has taken me til now to get it finished. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Aim of Art

The author Joseph Conrad said the aim of art is to snatch from the remorseless rush of time, a passing phase of life, and hold the rescued fragment before all eyes in the light of a sincere mood. That thought describes much of what my painting is about.

It also explains why many artists like myself are not drawn to traditionally pretty or picturesque subject matter.

It is more interesting to find beauty in unexpected or mundane places.

Put light on almost any subject and you can find some fragment of beauty to snatch from the rush of time.

Thursday, March 26, 2015


I seem to go in spurts with my sketchbook. I'll go a few weeks with nothing and then pick it up again and make regular entries for a number of weeks.

Most of what I do in my books is drawing from whatever is around me, usually people.

I try to carry it with me at all times, that way, when something unexpected comes up, or I have to wait in line at the store, I have something to do.

It's particularly useful when I'm sitting in those lovely faculty meetings.

One of my favorite drawings was from a meeting at the school where I teach. I was sitting behind a good friend of mine who had recently lost all her hair due to cancer treatment. Glad to say that was three years ago and she is doing well.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Still Lifes

One of my first assignments as an illustrator was for the Ensign magazine, a publication of the LDS church. I've worked for them off and on now for 35 years. Recently they've been asking me to do these little still life paintings to accompany different stories. On the one hand, they are not the most exciting assignments, however, they are are a good opportunity to do some exercises in light and form and paint. They have been fun to do.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Re-entry Strategy

After not working on a painting for awhile, it's often hard to get back into it. Such was the case with this one. I had the common problem of looking at it in my studio and thinking, I want to get going on it but I need to wait until I have enough time and energy to do something substantial. That of course, never works. I finally decided to sit down and spend a half hour and make notes of what needs to be done to make progress. This was a do-able thing. I made a little sketch to see what i could do about the left side that bothered me, I also started making a list of of movie titles as I wasn't happy with what I had. After a half hour, I had enough to get me going. The following day I started painting.

Here is the current state of the painting

 Here are the previous stages.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Morning In the Desert

Morning sun is beatuful. In this piece I am dealing not only with the morning light but also the abstract qualities of what is basically a surface divided into two main elements, the ground and the sky. So to give it interest, I gave particular attention to the change of hue within those two values and the handling of edges.

Green and Purple Desert . 9x10 . Pastel

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Drawing and Probity

Drawing is the probity of art - Jean Dominique Ingres. I had to look up probity: uncompromising adherence to the highest principles and ideals. That could have more than one meaning.  

One is, you can't fake it in drawing. In painting, you can dress things up with color, texture, showie brushwork, etc. But in drawing its just you, your pencil and the paper. You are somewhat naked to the world showing all your strengths and your faults. 

This is good in at least 2 ways. First, it reveals what you need to work on. But more importantly, it gives you the most direct form of expressing your ideas and perceptions. 

Milton Glaser tells a wonderful story.* His wife brought home a gift, a new turntable for his classical records. The store owner said it was the best you could buy. It was just a slab of wood with a turn table and the stylus arm. No automatic retraction of the arm, no dials or controls except for an on and off switch. 

"What did you pay for this"?

"A thousand dollars".

Milton went back to the store and asked the owner what was up with this simple device costing $1000?

"Did you swindle my wife?"

"Did you try playing it?"


"Go try it and then come back."

Of course, when Glaser played it, his records sounded better than ever. When he went back to the store, the owner explained that for the best sound, you want as little interference between the initial signal and the final sound. Every time you add a spring for automatic retraction of the arm, a dial for this, a knob for that, you create interference.

In drawing, its just pencil and paper, dark and light. Straight from your perception to the final image with minimal interference. Probity.

*I can't find the original story so this is best as I can remember it. Details may be off but the basic idea is accurate.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Working Out A Painting II

Here is the latest development of the painting I've been working on. Since the last post, I put a deep yellow glaze over the whole painting and then began painting in the areas around the marquee. I'm generally pleased with how it is progressing. Some things that need work are the marquee itself; I want to find a different movie title. Also, the cast shadow shape is bothering me a litlle. I need to glaze and soften edges on the curved sign to the right and finish the building above and then of course the buildings in the background and the traffic light. It is a little too bulky right now. More to come next week.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Wiles of Mass Distraction

In her wonderful book The Language of Drawing, Sherrie McGraw coined the term, "Wiles of Mass Distraction". Among other things, she is referring to the superficial details that get in the way of seeing the underlying forms. The drawings I've posted here are just a few examples of how an artist can look at form.

I've been reading (actually, mostly looking at pictures) in a book my good friend Martin loaned to me. It is the Drawings of Antonio Lopez Garcia. Garcia is a Spanish hyperrealist. Here is an example of his drawing.

As I mentioned in an earlier blog about Richard Estes and photorealism, I often am not terribly attracted to hyperrealism. But as with Estes, Garcia is an exception. I will post later about his paintings and show why I like him so much. But for now, I just want to point out something in his drawing.

Masked by the high degree of finish in his final work is the fundamental, simple shapes that he is thinking about as he draws his forms. In this study of hands, look how he initially comprehends the fingers as simple circular cylinders. He then comes in with his contour lines and shading to bring the image to a higher level of resolution.

We see Pontormo, conceiving the fingers in a similar way, with blocks rather than cylinders.

Finally, Cambioso.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Getting Back To Painting

I am finally starting some larger paintings. For 2 years I have been so wrapped up with the book I was illustrating, along with teaching, that all I have had time and energy for is small plein aires. It is always hard to get back into it. I find all kinds of resistance. I start asking myself, is it really worth the time? Aren't there more worthy pusuits? Is this going to be worth the investment? It's a terrible and unproductive way to feel. I finally slug through and start with small steps. I go through sketches and photos and make more sketches. Finally, something starts to emerge. I would like to pick up this painting at that stage and share my process with you as I progress.

This is a photo I shot in LA back in 2013. I've worked with it a few times feeling like there is something there but, until now, never got the juice going.


After doing these sketches, I felt there were some possibilities. I then did a small 4 x 5 color sketch.

I liked what was happening but was still feeling a little iffy. I finally decided to do a section of it as a study, although a relatively large study that would stand on it's own.

So this is one of the 2 paintings I am working on. It is 22" x 28". This is the first pass. When doing a larger painting I usually do quite a bit of changing, scraping out, glazing, repainting all of which gives a lot of texture and depth. So over the next few weeks, I will show the progress and talk about process to the final painting.

Here it is in a little bit earlier stage.

I will be posting my progress in the coming weeks.
Happy New Year.