Thursday, May 13, 2010

New Server

Hi all -

Just a quick note to let you know that I have moved my site over to

This is a server I'm running that gives me an opportunity to play around with different web technologies - in this case, Wordpress.  As I get the site customized I will be adding back all of the links that I'm following.

See you there!


Tuesday, April 20, 2010


"I have got to find the river,
bergamot and vetiver
run through my head and fall away.
Leave the road and memorize
this life that pass before my eyes.
Nothing is going my way."

R.E.M., Find the River

Sunday, April 11, 2010


This weekend I painted a little bit on Saturday night with Elle.  I tried to work on getting vibrant colors, so I used a lot more fresh pigment than I had been, and the results were dramatic.  I also used an entire piece of paper, as opposed to cutting it down to a practice size.  I think this had the positive effect of allowing broad, graceful strokes, whereas with smaller pieces of paper there is a tendency, at least for me, to stiffen up and produce shakiness.

Friday night I went to an event for Ellen's workplace that was held at the Petersburg Regional Art Center.  Ellen pointed me to one studio in particular, that of Chesterfield resident Greg Lewis.  His work is mostly structural, for lack of a better word: pieces created out of found materials spattered with various shades of metallic paint, sculptures made of toothpicks, and pieces made of bits of shell.  It was really amazing work.  I will try to find more information about him on the net and share it here.

Red flower, uncertain variety, from a Facebook album.

Another flower, uncertain variety, Facebook.

The same flower, but using watercolor pencils as opposed to paints.

Splatter. =)

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Urbi et orbi; universum.

I'm finishing this one up now, waiting for some of the really broad sections to dry.  Here's the process, though:

Original Picture, via Wikipedia.

My drawing, pencil and ink.  I wanted to scan it at this point in case painting over it totally demolished the ink.

Painted version:

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Poppies, vikings.

Last night I did another landscape, for practice with washes and layering and other exciting things..  Here it is:

So tonight I couldn't think of anything to do.  I'm tired of landscapes and beaches and people with no faces.  So I did a Viking, with a spear and shield, who happens to be on fire.  I figured that was as far as I could go in the opposite direction, short of Godzilla wearing a rocket pack fighting Mecha-Chuck Norris. 

I'll scan it when it is done drying. =P

Monday, March 29, 2010

More practice.

This weekend I worked on washes and mixing.  The results were 50/50 (at best,) but I know that ratio will improve with time.

Painted from a watercolor hanging in our living room, original by Ann Ahearn (Ellen's mom.)  Hers is much better!

Painted from an image found by Google image searching the phrase 'tire swing.'  Not sure if it transmitted well in the scanning process, but the sky is pretty cool, a mixed wash of yellow and purple.  The rest is pretty blah.
Another Google image, this time from the word 'desert.'  Happy with some of the shading in this, but not all of it.  I feel like I'm having trouble between colors that aren't vibrant enough and just using pure pigment (i.e I should just be oil painting at that point, I feel like.)

Pretty happy with this one, although the overwhelming presence of straight lines had me cursing my shaky hands.

The source was a screen capture from Live's 'Turn My Head' video, which is itself based upon the paintings of John Register.  I admire the way he captures everyday moments with near photographic precision, and with such a feeling of solitude.  I have been a big fan of what work of his I have been able to find since seeing this video years ago.

So that's about it - no masterpieces yet, but the practice continues.  Looking back on the learning process for percussion, I think it was a good seven years before I was actually good.  With cooking, it was also a learning curve measured in years.  Maybe I will be good at this by the time I'm thirty.  Maybe forty.  Maybe never.  I'm enjoying it though, the frustration is minimal, and sharing the experience with Elle is phenomenal.  I'm not in any hurry.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Education through imitation.

In pretty much every endeavor I have pursued, from music, to culinary arts, to computer programming, one suggestion by the more advanced repeats itself again and again - learn from the masters.

In music it was finding people whose style I liked - great rock and jazz drummers and trying to recreate the sounds they made.  In cooking it was studying the recipes and techniques of Point, Escoffier, Keller, and others, and applying it to the much humbler dishes I was creating.  Programming, an art of its own, is a great medium for this style of learning - the open source software community basically begs people to take their work and build upon it.

So now I am learning to paint, and I figure the approach may work well here.  Not really knowing a lot about water color artists, I started browsing and stumbled upon the work of Austrian born painter Heinz Anger.  Herr Anger's site can be found here.

I really liked the way he could play with light and tone to span the spectrum between realism and an almost dreamlike state.  I decided that the first piece I would try to emulate would be his "Gelber Weinkeller."

My goal was not to copy it exactly - I wanted to try out some specific colors and techniques I had seen in other paintings.  However, what I ended up with is clearly derivative of his work, and I can take no artistic credit for what I made; it is clearly a technical exercise.

I learned several important lessons in the exercise:
  • I need to learn when to stop: I had several things looking really, really good, but then hurt things by overextending.
  • My shaky hands (I have an essential tremor, which makes me appear perpetually nervous, lol) are not made for detail work...I should stick to big sweeping landscapes, or have all detail work appear on foggy days!
  • One color does not necessarily work equally well as a shadow contrasted against two different colors.  For example, I am happy with the tree shadow on the left side wall and background trees, but not as happy with where it overlays the roof.  
  • I need to work on blending: the transition from brown dirt/path to grass is a bit too defined, I think.
Anyway, that's it, more to come soon!

I want to post a special note to congratulate two long time friends on the birth of their first child, Charlotte Grace.  I wish I was more talented and could paint and capture the beauty of this amazing newborn, but for now I can only say that I love the three of you and wish you the very best.  I can't wait to meet you, C.G. =)