Friday, December 26, 2008

The Skillet Restaurant

Number 1 - Over Easy, Grits, Crispy Bacon, Dry Rye & Black Coffee

This new painting of , The Skillet, is the second painting I've created using this restaurant as my inspiration. The Skillet is a Spartanburg landmark where you can order an incredible breakfast. My favorite is the #1 Special. The restaurant is small so if you can't be seated at a table you might have to sit at the counter. Dining at the counter is always fun because you could be sitting next to a CEO or a student. It is a great melting pot. Someday soon they will be demolishing the shopping center where the Skillet is located and build a new shiny shopping center. I'm trying to record some memories with my paintings of the town I love.

I'll take you along my painting process, starting with my studio set-up. When I'm not painting on location I use my digital photos displayed on my computer monitor as a reference.

I keep little notes to remind me to have fun, squint and to visualize my goal.

Looking down on me is an old photograph I found at an estate sale. George Bellows, the American painter, is pictured at his Woodstock Studio.

Step One
When I have a figure in a painting I'll usually draw out the basic composition. I'm using vine charcoal on a stretched white canvas. I'll fix the charcoal after I finish drawing so I don't make a big smear mess.

I love drawing. Lately I'm painting more than I draw, but actually I feel like I am drawing when I paint because I am looking at the shapes and trying to recreate what I see.

Step 2
In this shot you can see my "block in". My goal is to cover the canvas with the average value of the colors I see in my subject and to establish the shapes. This step really helps me to evaluate my composition.
Step 3
Now I start to define my focal point, "the star of the show". I don't know who this fellow is, but I liked the way he was day dreaming as he waited for his breakfast to be cooked.

I love a finished/unfinished look to my completed paintings, so my painting process gets slower and slower in hopes that I don't finish the painting too much. I always want "the hand of the painter" to be seen - to be able to see the paint, the brush strokes.

Step 4
Working some more of the focal point. The paint starts off thin and gets thicker as I near completing an area.

As with the finished/unfinished look to the painting I also like a balance of thick and thin paint buildup. As in life, it is all about balance.
Step 5
As I work on this painting I want to make sure I keep the cook in a "supporting role" to my star. The cook is in the background and shouldn't be as defined and should be less in focus.

At this stage I like the red/green color pallette, but feel that I need to pop out my focal point more. Perhaps a change in the color of his jacket?
Step 6
I decided to change the jacket color to a red/brown. This decision does add emphasis to the main subject. I've slowed way down now. All the details in the background don't need to be detailed too much. I'm aiming for just a suggestion.

Hope you've enjoyed this painting journey. Creating this blog entry has helped me to really see and "hear" my painting process.

Scroll up to see the finished painting.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Finished Waiting on Moma

Step #4 Finishing

As the painting gets closer to completion I my painting speed slows down. Since my last post I've worked on three different painting in my studio and several plein-air paintings. My finished painting should have some areas on them that aren't completely defined. "The star of the show" or my focal point (the woman reading) is completed more than the background or her surroundings. My Mom's heart cath was a good one, I hope her Mom's was too. I have alot to be thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Block In(s)

Step #3 Local Color Block In

Today, I blocked in the halftones of the shapes and attacked my center of interest. I try my best to see this as a collection of shapes and not people in a waiting room. If I get all my shapes drawn correctly the painting will have a better chance of working. As I draw my shapes with paint, I am also working on color, value and edges.

Set #2 Tonal Block In

Monday I decided to block in all my dark and light shapes using terra rosa. Sometimes I'll skip this step and go straight to the block in with the halftone colors (the major color of the shape). Using a single color helps me see the overall design of the shapes.

Here is a detail of the main character in this "play". All of this is a work in progress.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Waiting on Mom

Step #1 charcoal drawing on a grey toned canvas panel

Thought I'd make a better effort at recording the process of a painting. I'll have to take it off the easel and bring it outside to photograph each stage. This process of stopping to photograph will also give me a chance to view the painting in a different way.

I love the saying "Make your life a work of art". I believe that can be done by anyone in any walk of life. What this means to me is; in anything you do be there 100% and make it as beautiful as you can. From the meal you prepare, to the bed you make - I believe a person can be creative in any act.

My current work takes that saying literally. The paintings I create are from my life - where I travel, what I see and who I meet.

This painting is called "Waiting on Mom". I was at the Spartanburg Regional Hospital's Heart Center in their waiting room waiting on my Mom. She was having a heart catheterization to investigate some problems she had been experiencing. There were alot of people in the waiting room waiting on their loved ones too.

I don't always make a charcoal drawing first, but because the composition was alittle complicated I thought I'd map it out.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Cecilia Beaux -"Man with a Cat"

Just returned from visiting Washington, DC. Two of the highlights of a very eventful trip were #1 I was able to see and spend time with a cousin I hadn't seen in over 40 years and #2 I stood right in front of my all time favorite painting by Cecilia Beaux at the Portrait Gallery.

Life is good!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Aqua Nest

Aqua Nest

This watercolor was painted for an exhibit I was juried into called Flights of Fantasy: The Artistic Bird, at Brookgreen Gardens located in Pawleys Island. The watercolor paintings, chosen from the South Carolina Watermedia Association members, will hang in conjunction with a sculpture exhibit. The show is September 6 - November 2, 2008

“Aqua Nest” is a painting that was inspired by the Southern hairdos I witnessed growing up in Spartanburg, SC.

My Dad was an avid photographer so my Mother’s hairstyle is well documented --- from cute pixies to bountiful bouffants. These images are part of the inspiration in the creation of this painting.

I also remember well my first grade teacher, Miss Johnson. She had beautiful white hair piled high in a bun. To our surprise and delight, she would randomly decorate her bun with fruit, flowers or even a bird’s nest on occasion. Whether this was for educational purposes or not, it certainly sparked my imagination.
Some Southern bouffants were so elaborate, with curls and waves; it was easy for me to imagine birds flying in and out to make nests in them! If this was more than just a childhood fantasy, I wonder if the women with the big hair would notice something had taken up residence on top of their heads!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Beacon Drive In

The Beacon
Drive In

John White opened the Beacon Drive-In sixty years ago. He retired in 1998 after being a hands-on owner. It is a "Slice-A-Plenty" of Spartanburg, SC.

This place is a must visit if you are anywhere near Spartanburg. JC greets you when you enter and asks you to "call it out" He shouts your order to the kitchen and asks you to "Move down the line". During lunch time this place is PACKED! Somehow your order does appear as shouted...

My painting is of a fellow stirring the chili for their famous Chili Cheese Burger. If you call out a "Chili-Cheese-A- Plenty you get a chili cheeseburger on a bun on a plate buried underneath piles of sweet onion rings and French fried potatoes. Make sure you order their Iced Tea. It is served over shaved ice and is the best tea around! The Beacon sells more tea than any other single restaurant in the U.S.A

The Beacon has been a must stop for any politician running for office! Come and visit, but don't come on Sunday... they are closed.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Catching A Buzz

The top image is of the beginning of the painting.

Thought I'd give a try at show the progression of a recent painting. I've been enjoying the challenge of designing within a long canvas. This one is 15"h x 30"w. For some reason I bought several of this canvas size a few years ago and am just now painting on my last one.

This image is from Litchfield Beach. I was taking a walk towards Huntington Beach State Park and I spotted these fellows having a good time. They were hanging close together talking, laughing and drinking beer. Their fishing pole were cast and sort of forgotten. When I walked back they all seemed to be in the same stance, just laughing more. I asked one of the guys, "what are ya'll catching? A buzz?" They laughed and agreed with me.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Happy Drawing... Painting!

Spend more time drawing!

I love to paint. After drawing alot, coming back to an oil painting is like getting dessert! Drawing skills are the foundation upon which a successful painting is built. I draw alot so that when I'm ready to paint I can lay down what my mind sees without hesitation. Deliberate strokes. Pastel "painting" has been a great teacher to bridge my drawing passion with my love for paint.

The detail of this oil painting shows how drawing shapes creates what I see.

Happy drawing (painting!)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Arts with Heart

This Friday I was honored to be part of the Art with Hearts hosted by This event featured 11 artists. Each artist chose a local charity. Half of our sales went to support our chosen charity. I chose the Spartanburg Alzheimer's Association. Last year we thought my stepfather might have early stage Alzheimer's and that is why they were my charity. Alzheimer's is a disease that attacks the brain. Every 72 seconds someone is diagnosed. We'll never know if infact he had Alzheimer's because December 15 he had a massive brain hemorrhage and passed away 7 days later. My stepfather was a wonderful gentleman who owned and ran a drug store in downtown Spartanburg from 1948 until 1985. He loved Spartanburg and he loved people. I'll miss his sweet smile.