The next step

I have worked from the live nude periodically since the early 1970's. This blog started in my second year of working almost exclusively from the figure.

In the fall of 2015 I reintroduced still lifes and an occasional cityscape into my painting repertoire. Rather than abandon this figure blog or start a new one I decided to add them to the conservation.

All drawings and paintings posted on this blog were done entirely from live models or on location.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

The Destination

A local art space has started a new daytime figure venue. Attending the first session I was buoyed by the genuine excitement in the room. A broader group of artists was discovering the thrill of working from the live figure. Then to my dismay, as the formal session ended, multiple artists asked the model to recreate her poses and a smart phone photo shoot ensued.

That I am shocked by artists reflexively reaching for cameras exposes my naiveté. I contend, however, that nothing anyone produces using those pictures as source material will come close to capturing the collective experience we had all just shared. They can only diminish that moment. Working from life should be the destination, not just a stop on the way to a photo shoot.

Ballerina Study, oil pastel, 8 1/2" X 7", 2017

Monday, November 27, 2017

Off Course

Thirteen years ago I started painting the figure in oils. Assuming that improvement would come with practice, I sought out group sessions and hired private models as often as time and money would allow. Some relative successes early on gave me a false sense of confidence. With no solid core of knowledge my work frequently drifted off course - often spectacularly. Capturing a flesh and blood human being would prove far more complex and difficult than I could ever have imagined.

Two figure studies, oil on linen, 11" X 14", 2005

Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Zorn Palette

I have long admired the Swedish painter Anders Zorn (1860 - 1920). Known as a consummate "painters painter", Zorn has the rare distinction of being known for his palette. A great deal of myth and controversy surround Zorn's palette as it takes the concept of "limited" to the extreme.

Seeking a fundamental change in the way I approach painting the figure, I have elected to give Zorn's most basic palette a try. Below is my fourth attempt.  Let's see where this goes.

Male Nude Study, oil on linen, 14" X 12", 2017

Thursday, November 9, 2017


Producing pictures primarily for the purpose of making sales has never worked for me. A need to paint only what moves me, combined with a critical eye toward my own work, has saved me from "selling out". And I do mean saved.

With rare exceptions artists who produce work based on sales potential rather than their personal passions pay a price. Their work inevitably suffers when directed by market forces that reward mediocrity and conformity.

Female Nude Study, oil pastel on toned paper, 11" X 9", 2015

Friday, October 27, 2017

The Female Form

I have had the good fortune of working with many wonderful models over the years. I enjoy models of both sexes as they present different physical and psychological complexities. That said, the female form is something special.

Reclining Nude, oil pastel, 7" X 12", 2017

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Conscious Decisions

My personal drawing technique utilizes a gradual buildup of crosshatched lines. I never made a conscious decision to work this way - it is simply how I draw. There are advantages and disadvantages to the method. A high degree of subtlety can be achieved but broad areas take time to develop.

Portrait Study, oil on canvas, 14" X 12", 2017

In the mid 1990's, after years of working with acrylic paints using a slow buildup method, I decided to change course with oils. I made the purposeful decision to try a more direct style. This choice proved beneficial as I began working from the live figure. With a brush broad areas can be put down quickly thereby altering the way I approach a painting.

Saturday, October 7, 2017


This time last year I was in a race with the seasons. My light was changing. The long shadows of October were rapidly replacing the stable angels of summer. I'll not claim to have won the race but I did cross the finish line (see 6/30/16 post).

Sophia Street View, oil on linen, 24" X 40", 2016