Skulls Again

February 21, 2016

I’m reposting my skull watercolors because I took better photos of them; plus some new ones.

AlligatorAlligator (Aligator mississippiensis)

River OtterOtter (Lantra canadensis)

OpossumOpposum (Didelphis viginiana)

BeaverBeaver (Castor canadensis)

MinkMink (Neovison vison)

CoyoteCoyote (Canis latrans)

CaracalCaracal (Caracal caracal)

More Art

February 14, 2016

Here’s a pile of recent stuff, including another skull watercolor, my annual self-portrait, and a big honkin’ pile of nudes.

MinkNude01Nude02Nude03Nude04Nude05Nude06Nude07Nude08Nude09Nude10Nude11Nude12Nude13Nude14Nude15Nude16Nude17Nude18Nude19Nude20Nude21Nude22Self Portrait 2016

Both the oil paintings — the self portrait and the nude — are painted on toned canvas, what is technically known as an imprimatura. I’ve generally avoided this approach for the past umpteen years, for the same reason I’ve stayed away from watercolor—it’s too easy. When you paint on an imprimatura, you’re basically conceding the painting is about light, not color.  The imprimatura is a hallmark of academic painting, what 20th century critics rightly disparaged as “brown gravy.” However, I decided to give it a go because I wanted to get in some quick oil sketches at my figure drawing session. The last pose is forty minutes and although I’m fast, I’m not that fast (see my December 15, 2015 post for examples of quick oil paintings of nudes on a white ground).

By the way, I love drawing and painting the female nude, I actually prefer it to the male, but this all female regimen is getting a little old. It would be nice to get some male figures studies in, just for old times sake.



February 13, 2016

With the cold weather I can’t go outside to paint and I’ve been casting about for other options. I started a skull oil painting in the basement and was extremely unhappy with it, despite several sittings and spending more than 15 hours at the easel. So I decided to try some watercolors, a medium I’ve more or less ignored for the past twenty-odd years. My first attempt was way too ambitious, so I scaled things back, and came up with the following:

River OtterRiver Otter
Lontra canadensis

Canis latrans

Opossum Opossum
Didelphis virginiana

My reason for avoiding watercolors, by the way, is that I felt I could not do them justice given my limited time to make art and my commitment to oil painting. Nothing ticks me off more than people who say, “I’m a painter, and a fabric artist, and I write poetry, and I’m a singer/songwriter.” I want to say, “Pick two of them and do a third one as a hobby.” However, I’m reasonably pleased with these, and there are plenty more skulls in my collection.

Some Recent Sketchbooks

December 17, 2015

I recently finished up a large drawing pad of figure drawings on toned paper so I thought I’d flip through what I’ve been working on over the past few weeks. They’re all female nudes. I simply haven’t been able to get to any venues with male nudes lately, although I wouldn’t mind doing so.

Videoed with helpful interruption from talkative neighbor for your viewing pleasure.

A Couple of Nudes

December 14, 2015

I’ve been going to figure drawing in Providence and the sessions generally end with a 40-minute pose. Not quite enough time to get in a painting, but I’m trying anyway. Here are two new ones:

Female Model

Female Model2

Pickman’s Model

September 10, 2015

Pickman's Model

Oh my God… what have I done… He said his name was Pickman and he offered me $10,000 to paint a portrait of his friend. He paid in gold coins from the reign of William III. I took the commission… God knows I needed the money… Imagine my surprise, my horror, when I saw who the model was to be! But by then it was too late, I had no choice.

I have been places I should not have been, I have tasted things I should not have tasted. The portrait is almost done, and both Pickman and his model have told me they are pleased with the results. Now they tell me they want another portrait, a group portrait this time, something like Rembrandt’s “Syndics of the Clothiers Guild”… or perhaps “The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Tulp” would be more appropriate. I told them no, and this morning when I awoke, my wife and children were gone, spirited away.

I must go to them, and I do not think I will be coming back. They told me to take no pictures, but the world must know what lies beneath. If I go missing, do NOT open the trap door in the back of my garage. Let the world know, protect yourselves…

* * *

Well, I’m back from dream-haunted Kadath! It all turned out to be a silly mistake. My wife and children are fine and are taking a well-deserved vacation in the Mountains of Madness (the skiing is excellent this time of year!). I painted the group portrait Pickman and Cywexggjsdjxhkfeyf wanted, and it was easy as pie. Those guys can really stay still, it’s like painting a corpse. Unfortunately I was not able to take a photo of the painting because the laws of physics are different there, but here is the finished Pickman’s Model painting. I’d still recommend against opening that trapdoor in the back of my garage, and please, do not disturb the metal cylinders stored back there. They’re very important to me. Ia! Ia! Cthulhu Fthagn! Ph’nglui mglw’nfah Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!

* * *

This painting is completely atypical for me, I actually spent a good deal of time on it so it deserves some explanation. First of all, this is an obvious tribute to H.P. Lovecraft and the short story of the same name. I happen to be a big fan, live 30 miles from Lovecraft’s home town of Providence and have even recently gone with a friend to visit Lovecraft’s modest grave. Then my daughter came back from a visit to Providence with a tee shirt  for me (“R’lyeh – City of Dreams – Necronomicon Providence,” with a picture of Chthulhu on it) and awesome news—it being Lovecraft’s 125th birthday there would be a convention in Providence—NecronomiCon—in his honor. I was very excited to go.

About the same time I had been cleaning out my garage/studio and came across a large tube of cheap, student grade Flake White oil paint. It’s something I would never, ever use in one of my paintings, and yet, there it was, going to waste. I also have a number of extremely large canvases given to me by my step-mom that have just been sitting there, so I had the brainstorm to do this painting. I never work from imagination, but the concept behind what Pickman’s model would look like came to me in a flash—part human, part mole, part frog, part extraterrestrial—and aside from that, everything else in the painting (including the skeleton!) is straightforward still life of my studio.

I completed the painting over six sessions and was able to document each stage before proceeding.

Pickman's Model WIP 1

Pickman's Model WIP 2

Pickman's Model WIP 3

Pickman's Model WIP 4

Pickman's Model WIP x

Portraits, Etc.

September 10, 2015

Just a few recent portraits to show you. I’ve been working on a follow-up to the Panhandlers of Harvard Square project, but until then here are the results of the few portrait opportunities that have come my way. I’m also throwing in a couple of odd paintings that don’t really fit in an of the other categories–I guess I could have included the Pitcher Plant painting with the flower paintings–before I set up for the grand finale.



A co-worker of my wife who wanted her portrait done. I’m happy with the results.



A model at Kate Huntington’s Monday night portrait session in Providence.



Another Monday night model.


Sunday Morning

Had some friends over Saturday night and this is what the back porch looked like the next day.



I was actually setting up a little flower painting when Greta decided she needed her portrait done.You can see the vase in the background.

Pitcher Plant

Pitcher Plant

My wife’s hanging plant turned out to be almost frighteningly vigorous.


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