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.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

The Bliss of Ignorance

When I started concentrating on the figure fourteen years ago I would leap head first into ambitious projects that were well beyond my level of competence. I didn't know what I didn't know. This blissful state of ignorance led to some moderate successes but also to stacks of failed paintings.

Over the years I have accumulated some knowledge in regards to depicting the human figure. But along with lessons learned comes an awareness of the difficulties and potential pitfalls. This awareness has left me hesitant to try anything more complex than short term studies. Is it possible to overcome this timidity and regain some of that early fearlessness?

Male Nude, oil pastel on toned paper, 11" X 9", 2017

Saturday, February 3, 2018

A Touch of Fever

I talked about reworking older paintings in a previous post (see 8/27/16). I seem to have the "fixes fever" again. While photographing some older works for a website update, I was confronted multiple times with defects so obvious and correctable that I couldn't ignore them. So now a half dozen more pictures have endured makeovers. I sincerely don't want to spend my time rescuing old paintings. Let's hope this fever has broken.

Seated Nude, oil on canvas, 14" X 12", 2013-2017

Much of my work is no longer in my possession. More than once I have visited someones home and spotted a painting of mine that I haven't seen in years. Viewed with fresh more educated eyes I would like nothing more than to spirit it away for a little touch up. In the long run it is a good thing that I no longer own these pictures. Mercifully, they can remain in their original imperfect state.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Leaking Roofs

Every time I gain some new understanding regarding painting or drawing things seem to get more complicated. One would think the opposite would occur. Solving an issue should reduce the number of unknowns. A ceiling leak in a back room of my studio may have offered some clarification (see 1/24/16 post).

Multiple attempts were made to stem the water from the outside with no success. Finally, in desperation, I devised a system to catch the water inside and funnel it outside. While not fixing the leak I could at least put away the buckets. Immediately upon accomplishing this I noticed a drip emanating from an adjacent window. This drip had been there for some time but my attention had been focused on the larger more urgent flow.

Profile, oil pastel on toned paper, 5" X 4 1/2", 2017

Conclusion: Solving one problem simply frees ones attention to contemplate the surrounding territory. This survey inevitably leads to more discoveries and questions.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

A Faint Glow

Sometimes, when I find myself in times of trouble, just a simple sketch can prove reassuring.

Warmup drawing, oil pastel, 5" X 6", 2017

Sunday, January 7, 2018

An Experiment

Having worked with a limited palette for some months now, I am becoming familiar with its range and limits. I decided to test my new found knowledge by copying a painting by the most famous practitioner of the method - Anders Zorn. Here is the result of my efforts.

After Zorn, oil on canvas, 10" X 7", 2017

Using an internet download of Zorn's In the Studio I transferred a simple line tracing to a canvas. I then proceeded to copy the painting as best I could using just black, white, red and yellow ochre. While the colors in a digital printout would be vastly different from the actual painting, the relationships of hue and value would hold. I am no Anders Zorn but this little experiment neatly shows the possibilities of a limited palette.

Anders Zorn, In the Studio, 1896

Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Naked Truth

With certain subjects, including landscape and still life, it is possible for an artist to obscure a wide array of technical weaknesses. But working from the live figure there is no place to hide. When one dares to depict a nude it isn't only the model barring it all, in a very real sense the artist is also.

Nude Study, oil pastel on toned paper
9" X 6", 2017

Monday, December 18, 2017


Personal ambition fed by societal norms and expectations had me playing the part of a professional artist for decades. My recent decision to end this pretense and start identifying as a student has proven to be very beneficial. It has allowed me to drop long held preconceptions. It has allowed me to shed ego based insecurities. It has led me to approach figurative painting from a completely new direction.

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