Monday, November 9, 2015


Finally finished another book. As seems to be usual for these book paintings, this one had a surprise variable--the cover seemed to be coated, maybe with the mounting varnish or glue, but it was slippery so paint did not stick very well. The solution was to let every coat dry thoroughly, so that made for glacial speed progress. This is the first one of this series that didn't have a critter on it but I enjoyed just painting an object and the design challenge that the leaf shape presented. It's always fun to figure out how to fill a space with a good balance of negative and positive shapes. Also, making a simple object visually interesting. I chose to employ dramatic lighting instead of my usual modus operandi which would have been to do a botanical-type leaf study.

My friend Mary Brent that I did this for, is a writer and Kudzu Rising is the title of her as yet unpublished novel so I thought she would enjoy springing this on someone as if it had been published. A lot of painstaking work goes into each part of these painted books, but the final product is always rewarding.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Marv's Book

More book cover art! I'm having a great time doing these…a whole lot of work, but a very rewarding product when it's finished. I used a book that had a smooth cardboard cover for this painting and didn't really like working on it until about halfway through. It's not nearly as forgiving as canvas and really shows up the lines from my carbon transfer paper but once some paint is down, it's a nice surface to work on. But it has no texture whatsoever. Canvas takes washes much better and allows for a less precise technique but fuzzes out details. The smooth surface is superb for small details. So basically I just have to adapt to whatever surface I'm using. Doing type is becoming a real eye-crosser. I used to really be into it but now I'm not really liking doing something that requires so much control. There's many steps of back and forth adjusting--an edge of a letter might be too short so I add some length and make the corner too high so then I have to come back to cut then corner down and cut off too much so I have to add more again to clean up the corner. That kinda stuff makes me grind me teeth. But it's done and I know Marv will be pleased. After I began painting this book cover I was looking for books for my next projects and came across a marriage manual for newly engaged couples. It had a section on--the birds and the bees! Funny that any young adults wouldn't know that stuff already, but there it was. I just wish I could have used that book for this piece--it would have really been a hoot to give that to Marv.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Buddy's Book

I met an artist that paints on books and I thought, "How cool is that?". So I did an exploratory piece that was pretty fun. Then a writer friend had a birthday coming up so I had the idea of doing a portrait of her dog on a book. Great idea, lot of work. Way more than I would have imagined. Just finding the right cover surface to work on is more involved than I would have imagined. Modern cardboard surfaces are too cheap and start pilling as soon as they get wet. Some books are partially cloth wrapped and some have too much type embossing. Only older books that are canvas wrapped really work well and finding ones that don't have a lot of embossing is difficult. Then there was some experimenting to figure out how to do type on the spine. In short, this was a real voyage of discovery. But the end product is worth it. And thanks to Dollar Tree for selling hardcover books so my failed experiments weren't expensive!

Friday, August 1, 2014


A portrait of my ex-neighbors' fierce little dog. Zoe is a biter but just before I moved away we became pals, or at least I wasn't bitten when I petted her. I've moved to a very hot area so my paint dries extremely fast. It's almost like working with watercolor. I have to know what I intend and do it decisively or the paint starts setting up and becomes unworkable. But with acrylic at least I can do some painting over as long as it doesn't get too thick. So considering the new variables in my working procedures, I am happy with the results and hopefully Zoe won't feed on me out the next time I see her.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Blue Cup

This was created as an entry for this year's Marin County Fair. They have a dizzying number of categories and this one was for work no larger than 6"x6" so strangely enough, its dimensions are 6"x6". I've done another smaller work using this same cup so I had that painting beside me as I worked. It's interesting to have a related work done 3 or 4 years ago to see how my process has either changed or remained the same. For the most part, I think I've gotten better, maybe a little looser, which is something for which I have been striving. This also retains a little more of the qualities of a drawing.

I won the miniature category a couple years ago so I'm looking forward to seeing how I do this year. Interestingly, one of the judges is someone I went to art school with. It was so long ago I doubt that he'd remember me or my work since we weren't close and I don't think they see artist entry form.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Rosita Conchita, aka Little Pooper

A gift for my niece's birthday--a portrait of her nutty chihuahua Rosita, post cancer surgery and minus two teeth. This piece is tiny--4"x4" and painted on a wood panel so the size and surface were a challenge. Wood is relatively non-porous so whatever you do sits on the surface as opposed to canvas or paper that will absorb paint in a little. It's more difficult to use my usual wash blending techniques as a wash will dry with a hard edge, so I needed to do more dry brushing than usual. There isn't much room for detail in something this size with the exception of the eyes, which are relatively ginormous. I was using my other niece's excellent photo so there was great reference to work from and I got a little lost in all the eye detail. Can't imagine doing this head much bigger. I'd get sucked into those eyes and never make it back out!

Thursday, February 20, 2014


Just finished this painting. The obvious challenge of painting Bingo was all the curly hair. A short-haired animal is easier because the anatomical shapes are readily seen and light and darkness define the contours. But a lot of hair disguises the body shape and throws light all over the place. Eyes are always an important detail and his eyes blend into the shadows and hair color so I had to create a very light photo reference to work from and there still wasn't much detail, so I had to emphasize what I could see.

As always, each painting is another step in the lifelong learning curve of being a painter. There's always points where I start wishing there was sat nav for artists to find their way through a painting. My method of dealing with getting lost is to take a break and do something totally different and come back to it or look at it in a mirror or upside down. Sometimes taking a picture of it helps, just anything to see it differently. Despite some moments of freaking out I'm pretty chuffed with how Bingo turned out.