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.

Recent Drawings

September 10, 2015

Let’s take a break from posting paintings and post some recent figure drawings.

mnude 01 mnude 05 fnude 01 fnude 08 fnude 07 fnude 06 fnude 05 fnude 04 fnude 03 fnude 02 mnude 04 mnude 03 mnude 02 fnude 10 fnude 09 mnude 07 mnude 06 fnude 12 fnude 11 fnude 13 mnude 08 mnude 09 mnude10 fnude16 fnude15 fnude14

I wish I had some recent figure paintings to show you, but I’ve been finding it frustrating and difficult to find venues in which I can paint. I’m ready to pay some ridiculous sum–$20 or $25–for the opportunity to paint the model. There’s a place in Somerville but it’s a train, subway and bus ride away. Then I had a brainstorm! There’s an outfit in Boston called “The Realist Academy of Art” that’s a short walk from South Station. Surely they’d have an appropriate venue to paint the model! I called and sure enough they did, at a time that was convenient for me too, and oil paints were encouraged.

I thanked the woman and was about to get off the phone when she said, “One more thing. No turpentine, only odorless paint thinner.”

I said, “You’re kidding. I can’t use turpentine?”

She said, “Some of our students complain about the smell so we don’t allow turpentine.”

I said, “How can you claim to teach traditional academic techniques when you ban the use of turpentine?”

“I’m sorry sir, no turpentine.”

I said, “You do realize that the fumes from odorless paint thinner are just as dangerous if not more so than turpentine, you just can’t smell them?” She said, “I’m sorry sir, that’s our policy.”

So that was that. I wouldn’t clean my brushes in odorless paint thinner, much less smear it on canvas with my expensive pigments. It would be like having to mix dog crap with my paints, completely non-archival, an insult to the noble craft of painting. Plus it’s made from petroleum products instead of being squeezed out of a pine tree like good ol’ turpentine. Nevertheless, turpentine [air quotes] smells bad and [air quotes] makes me feel queasy, so no turpentine only kiddie media that doesn’t make me feel bad.

I hate the modern era.

This one requires some explanation. First of all, several years ago I did a small painting of Gillette Stadium, which I gave to a Patriots fan friend. Here it is, from 2009:

Gillette Stadium

The other day, September 4th to be precise,  I decided to stop off at the stadium and do another painting. As I was working a TV reporter with a cameraman came up and started to interview me. It took me a while to clue in to the fact that he was there to interview Patriots fans who were excited about the Brady decision. So I found myself saying things like, “Go Pats!” and “Free… uh… uh…” [him (in a whisper): “Tom Brady”] “Yeah! Free Tom Brady!” He asked me why I liked Gillette Stadium and I said, “It’s actually kind of an ugly building, but it serves a purpose. It’s sort of a temple to sport.” “He said, “‘Temple to sport’… hmmm, I like that… maybe I’ll use that…” He said, “Can you put me in your painting?” and I said, “Sure!” He posed for about five minutes, I got him in (incidentally wrecking the painting, in my opinion) and I sent him an email with the pic.

Live at Gillette Stadium, I'm Steve Cooper, Channel 7 News

Live at Gillette Stadium, I’m Steve Cooper, Channel 7 News

Sure enough, that night there I was on TV!

I went back a few days later and did a larger, much better painting.

Gillette Stadium

Recent Paintings – Boston

September 10, 2015

I made a couple of trips into Boston with my paint box. Here are two views of the Fens, the Boston Tea Party Museum, and a view of Boston as seen from Dorchester.

Griffin's Wharf

Griffin’s Wharf

The Fens II

The Museum of Fine Arts from The Fens

The Fens

Boston View – The Fens

Boston, from Dorchester

View of Boston from Dorchester


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