Monday, December 18, 2017

The triptych - 3 of something is better than 1!

I've always loved painting multi-panel pieces. There's something magical about spanning across surfaces to create a bigger picture. In writing 'a bigger picture' it reminds me of David Hockneys work; and there's something to be said of that. His large mutli-panel paintings very much fulfill much that I love about this relationship of canvas and painting.

I tend to feel Hockney uses multi panels, because he's really interested in making something bigger. For me however a triptych is more about the partition of space rather than its scale.  For example, the triptych I have just completed is not excessively large, but great care and thought was taken between each panel and how they interact with each other. Indeed the subjects on the table, their arrangements and placement was considered not only for the overall painting, but how each would relate to it's individual panel.

in progress

I worked on the easel joined together by attaching each panel with strips of masking tape on the back. I then taped a larger 24X36 across the back of the 3 taped panels using more masking tape. This system wasn't overly strong, but it did stop the outer panels from falling of the edge of the easel. The 24X36 also gave the panels some firmness and rigidity.

in progress

I've been asked how far apart each panel should be hung? The answer to this for me is the brilliance of the triptych. Hang each panel next to each other, and then re hang with 8 inches apart. You will find the contrast is immediately palpable.  By simply hanging these panels at a differing distance, the painting has a dramatic and exciting change.

Groupings of flowers on long table
24X18 (each panel)                               Acrylic on panel.

To me, there is not a 'right' distance. Each panel is carefully designed to sit as a whole but compositionally strong on it's own merit. I have joked with collectors that the purchase of a triptych is not the ownership of one painting, but the purchase of 3 paintings, perhaps sibling family members. Each an individual in it's own right, but only truly complete when they are together!

 Groupings of flowers on long table (panel 1)
24X18                              Acrylic on panel.

 Groupings of flowers on long table (panel 2)
24X18                              Acrylic on panel.

 Groupings of flowers on long table (panel 3)
24X18                              Acrylic on panel.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

It comes along so fast

I can't believe how often this comes around! At the time of my children being born (2003-2004) I decided I would do a double portrait of them every 4 years. Without fail as 'that' year arrives, I'm always shocked how quickly it has come; I shake my head in wonderment that time has passed so quickly since the last portrait.

I confess that I dread the process, but it's also one that I enjoy. A growing family and life can be a whirlwind. Stopping to paint my children somehow captures a moment of fatherly love; or to be more specific 'artist' fatherly love. For a portrait is not only the embodiment of the individual, but also the artists reflection or imprint of themselves on the subject. I don't know what my kids will make of these paintings many years from now, but perhaps they'll see not only themselves, but my reflection of them? It's everywhere within a painting, the artist makes all the calls, especially when he's your father! Wear this, stand there, smile like this, hold that book; the direction is endless, both when posing for a portrait, and in life. But the artists imprint is also visible within the more subtle choices of color, tone, lighting etc. Having said this, the fact that I chose to paint my children with more grays than usual, and amongst the trash cans, is not a conscious message. They are wonderful, good, bright, funny, and well behaved boys, and I love them dearly.

So why a painting every 4 years? Largely this time frame was chosen to demonstrate a noticeable change in them as they grew. Too many years and too much would have changed, too few and not enough. Four years, just felt like the right amount of balance. I was also aware that I needed a fixed date to work to, without that I know I would have put the work off for months or possibly years.
  4 years was also chosen in part because portraiture really is 'not my bag'! No, I'm not being modest, it really is a struggle. I feel great achievement, that each portrait has captured them, and captured them faithfully. But understand this, many the hour is spent meticulously measuring the dimensions of the nose, eyes, or mouth, only to repaint the feature countless times as I struggle to capture not only a recognizable face, but a distinctive expression. To a trained portrait artist this can be achieved in minutes or hours, for me it is an illusive hunt. Tentative stabs in the dark, hoping my luck will hold and I may eventually find my mark.  Of course with more practice I would become better and more proficient, but as yet I haven't had the inclination to do this, and so remains my furtive attempts every few years or so.

In addition to my choice of years, I also set out with the goal to paint each in a certain style. I.e. with each portrait I strive for a different aesthetic, almost as if a different artist has tackled each one. To a large degree I have failed at this; portrait 1 was an open book, so I simply painted it. Portrait 2, came the closest to the mandate. The arrangement was loosely based on a Joan Eardley painting that I greatly appreciated and there are some stylistic changes when compared to portrait 1. Portrait 3 however did not separate itself enough from the previous two. The problem I told myself was that it was enough of a struggle to capture a likeness. If I wanted to paint far looser with a much bigger brush, well then the details of a facial expression and likeness would be lost. This in part is and was an excuse, but I know there's also validity in it too. Though I yearn to paint each with distinction and variety, I'm unwilling to sacrifice too much for that prize. This years portrait (portrait 4), has reinforced this for me. Capturing them was less of a struggle than some previous years, but finding it's own 'style' was never resolved.  I had had a vague idea to paint them in a dramatic landscape, but the right time never arose. Additionally, one of my children (who shall remain nameless), was less than congenial about the task. Working from photographs, the moment of capture should be a matter of seconds however it never transpires like that. Ultimately I compromised and photographed them by the side of our home, nestled amongst trash cans & air conditioner units. My plan had been to place them in a background of my choosing, however ultimately I felt perhaps amongst the trash and chaos of this location was fitting to what had become a somewhat troubled painting. Perhaps I was just being lazy?

Portrait 1 -  2005
43.3X59    Oil

Portrait 2 - 2009
48X28.5    Oil



You can read about Portrait 2, if you follow this web link
Portait 3 - 2013
48X34        Oil

You can read about Portrait 3, if you follow this web link

Portrait 4 -  2017

48X32        Oil
I've been enjoying grays recently, and consciously wanted a painting with lots of those tones in it. Felt like a nice contrast to my usual dramatic color.

I know this painting is finished, and when dry we will hang it on our wall until a new one is created (4 years and counting), but it is far from my favorite. The interesting thing I find about the relationship of an artist and his painting, is that over time it can change. Portrait 2 for example at the time of it's creation I also disliked, but over time I learned to love it, and would even say I have come to miss it. Perhaps as time marches on I will come to love this one to a greater degree?


Sunday, December 3, 2017

Baltimore Museum of art, and a solo show in Richmond Virginia

Sorry I've been slow to update this post. At the beginning of November I traveled to see friends in Baltimore. Had a great day in the Baltimore Museum of art. Really nice collection with a good mix of art. Here's a slightly random set of photos, though I remember they had a lovely Klimt landscape which I should have photographed, but it wouldn't have done it justice.

I then drove down to Richmond Virginia, for my show opening with Chasen Galleries. After many years in the same location in Carytown, they have just moved (Just a few blocks away).  My solo show also served as their 'official' opening. I had about 24 paintings in the show, spread out across the 1st floor, nestled amongst some beautiful glass sculptures. It's a lovely welcoming new space and in a nice location.

Here I am with Andrew Chasen, the gallery owner. We've been working together for almost 9 years!

A shot from the opening evening. There was a nice steady stream of people and a number of long time collectors, who I hadn't previously met.

The next day I painted a little in the gallery.
As usual, I planned and begun the painting in my studio in California, I think took it with me and completed much of the painting on site. I then returned back to home to complete it (see below).

Pears, Lemons & Watermelon on Orange table  
12X24                             Acrylic on panel


It was nice to visit Virginia in the fall. Wonderful tree colors and Richmond was a lovely town to visit. I visited a number of parks and stretches of wood land, sketching a little and gathering reference material. I wouldn't be surprised if there wasn't a painting or two in the future, based on these locals.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Solo show in Richmond, Virginina

It's been a busy few weeks/ months!... I'm just back from Santa Fe's 'Paint Out' festival, and next week I'm of to Richmond, Virginia, for a major solo show with Chasen Galleries.  It's all go!

Opening night next Friday (Nov 3rd).
The gallery has just moved to 3101 Ellwood Avenue. For more info. (804) 204-1048.

You can see more work through there web page too -

Peruvian Lilies & Delphinium over Purple & Violet
24X36                                     Acrylic on canvas

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

More work at the Paint Out festival

Stop by Ventana Fine art on Canyon Road, #Santa_Fe tomorrow night for the group show opening. Or come watch me paint during the 'Paint Out' festival this Saturday.
Call for more info. 1-800-746-8815 

Here's just a few of my paintings at the show.‪‪

Acrylic                                          32" X 22"

Acrylic                                         36" X 18"


Acrylic                                        36" X 24"

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Santa Fe - Paint Out festival

Stop by #Santa_Fe this weekend, for the 'Paint Out' festival. Come watch me paint and see our wonderful group show at Ventana Fine art. The whole street is a real spectacle and there's countless other artists painting - a real fun event!

Show opening Friday night. The festival runs during the day on the Saturday.
Call for more info. 1-800-746-8815 ‪‪

Monday, October 9, 2017

Paint Out festival - Santa Fe

Coming up to the annual 'Paint Out' festival in #Santa_Fe. Looking forward to being at Ventana fine art, seeing friends and meeting people. Opening night on the Friday evening (20th), the Paint out event on the Saturday (21st). Stop by to see some new work, and watch me paint!

Steps to the Ocean
30X48                         Acrylic on wood

Check out more here
Call for more info. 1-800-746-8815 ‪‪

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Sunflowers with Delphinium

I love how this one turned out... Sometimes you think, nothing to do with me! ;-)

Watermelon on Orange with Sunflowers & Delph.
42X30             Acrylic on wood

Monday, September 11, 2017

New representation in Palm Desert!

Excited to announce new representation in Palm Desert, CA with with Jones & Terwilliger Galleries. Stop by the gallery to see my new series of paintings in person? Or for more info. tel. 760-674-8989 or visit the link…/openangus.html

2 cloth series - Hyacinth, Limes & Lemons over purple and red
30X40                                    Acrylic on Canvas

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Commissioning to a theme

Recently I've had a run of 'commissioned' paintings where the collector has requested a similar painting to one that had previously sold. This is a reasonably common request; it's only natural to be inspired by a previous artwork and to feel regret for missing that opportunity. Commissioning a similar painting is a great solution to this.

I thought it would be fun to post a few of these recent paintings;- the final commissioned painting and the painting that served as its inspiration.

Pears & Lemons under Sunflowers
20X16                             Acrylic on panel

I think this original painting had sold a few weeks or possibly days, before the collector got the chance to purchase the work. We worked to a very similar size and brief to the original, but made a few changes. Primarily the size or type of the vase, and some of the fruit (both placement and type).

Papayas & Lemons under Sunflowers
20X16                             Acrylic on panel

There's a lot of commonality between the two paintings, but each has it's own unique flair.

*     *     *

Sun over calm
23.5 X 23.5                             Acrylic on canvas

This painting of the Californian coast had been painted and sold a good number of years ago. The collector was in love with the square format of the painting, and it's color design/choices. Together we worked on capturing a lot of that ambiance to a different scene. The two locations are actually physically pretty close to each other, and an area that I have painted often.

Sun over Cove
24X24                             Acrylic on canvas

 Since the original had been painting some years ago, my style and brush work had changed slightly. It was a fun challenge to try and recapture some of the past, and imitate my old approach/technique.

*     *     *
Daffodils on flower patterned tablecloth
34 X 34                             Acrylic on wood

Tulips & Papaya with blue
30 X 30                             Acrylic on canvas

The commission brief was to incorporate designs from two paintings, (see above). I worked with the collectors with my usual method of sharing various sketches and designs, until it was agreed what was needed from each 'inspiration' painting to be incorporated into the final design & painting.

Daffodil with Avocado & lemons on blue
34X34                             Acrylic on wood

What I enjoy about this painting is you can see elements, colors and ideas from each of the paintings within the commissioned piece, however it also sits proudly on its own!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Another new painting

Another recent painting.

2 cloth series - Delph., Poppies, Plums & lemons
32X22                                      Acrylic

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


A recent Iris painting. I've been enjoying playing with the symmetry of fruit placements.

A few days after finishing, I noticed a tiny area I'd forgotten to paint. I decided I liked it, and have left it, as is. Can you spot what I missed?

Iris bouquet with fruit on red cloth
36X24 Acrylic

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Forthcoming Workshop in Carmel, CA

Join me for a workshop in Carmel, CA on March the 16th -18th, at Carmel Visual Arts. Follow the link for more info.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Cantaloupe segments

Here's a new one, I don't think I have shared yet. Hope you like it?

Cantaloupe segments with Papaya on blue
30X30 Acrylic on canvas

Friday, July 14, 2017

Alphonse Muncha and a little Paul Cezanne

I've just returned from a three week vacation traveling around the united kingdom (England & Scotland), and a week in Switzerland. This blog posting features a couple of art exhibitions I visited while on my travels.

 Photos of England & Scotland travels

While in the North of England, I spent a day in Liverpool and visited for the my first time the Walker Art museum. The highlight for me was a room of post war British artists (Freud, Hockney, Glasgow boys, Gilman & others). This period (around 1940s-late 1960s), I feel produced some really exciting growth and exploration within British art. It's a period that holds many of my favorite British artists who produced some wonderful art.

 The gallery also had a nice Vuillard, that was tantalizingly hung under a blind. It was quite exciting to pull the blind cords and slowly reveal the painting underneath.

The museum had a nice exhibition on Alphonse Mucha. I took this phone photo before I realized they discouraged photography, so there's few photos of the actual exhibition.

 Muchas design/composition was always so powerful. His influence and style of treatment, is often imitated today, in illustration, graphic arts & other mediums. I was glad to see a major exhibition of his work, since I have long felt his importance is underrated within art history.  But he was without doubt a powerful draftsman, with a singular style and voice. Surely no one can think of the 'art nouveau' movement without picturing his work?

 The man himself

 Near the end of the exhibition there we're a number of photos from his studio. Here's Gauguin playing the piano without any trousers?

*     *     *
On my travels I saw a number of Churches and Cathedrals. Always great and impressive buildings.

 I really enjoyed the stained glass windows in St. Nicolaus, Freiburg, Switzerland.

*     *     *
 Photos from our Swiss travels.

 The Foundation Pierre Gianadda in Martigny, is a surprise. It's a strange building & exhibition space, but they pull together some impressive shows. The museum also has a nice sculpture garden, vintage cars and some roman artifacts.

The Cezanne show was impressive in terms of size. I don't think I've ever seen so many Cezanne's in one place.

 The museum also has an impressive collection of vintage cars, there must have been at least 30!

 This was my favorite still life painting in the exhibition. 

How I feel about Cezannes paintings is an enigma to me. He's not an artist who I greatly enjoy or admire. I don't dislike his works, but in many cases they don't overly move me. However I do see great synergy between his work and my own. I think there's great commonality between how we both choose to approach still life paintings. We follow similar rules or conventions for the placement of subjects within the painting.  Many has been the time, when I have been struck by this common approach, and the overlap between our works is often visible.

 Additionally to this, I enjoy the tonal relationships he employs. Many of his paintings have near perfect harmony and value shifts within them. To my mind it's the consistency of his brush work and tonal choices, that makes his work so recognizable. Just look at the colors and tones within this Still life painting above, and appreciate his masterful execution. For me his strongest work, is within still lifes such as this.

 It is his perfectly chosen tones that I appreciate; they contrasts so dramatically the color based drama I invoke within my work. For me today, the pull to Cezannes work isn't there, but part of me wonders if one day I may find myself feeling differently. Perhaps many years from now, I'll catch myself studying his art,  his treatments, and tonal choices?