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.

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

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 conformity and mediocrity.

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