The next step

I have worked from the live nude periodically since the early 1970's. This blog started August 9th, 2012 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, June 30, 2016

Two Painters

I recently started a downtown cityscape. It is a view I have wanted to capture for years but was reluctant to attempt due to the complexity of the scene. Then I came across two painters, one long gone and one still working, that set this project into motion. The first was Canaletto an eighteenth century Italian urban painter. Two of his early Venetian scenes were on view at the Phillips Collection in Washington, DC. They both blew me away. I was inspired and humbled fully aware that I could never hope to work at his level.

Downtown scene day 4, oil on linen, 24" X 40", 2016

The artist that actually got me to set off with my French easel was a British born New York based painter Rackstraw Downes. I attended a film and artist talk at the National Gallery where he was featured. I had been aware of Downes for decades but never keyed on the fact that he is primarily a plein air painter. The film left a lot to be desired, but seeing the 77 year old artist in person was an eye opener. He was clearly past his prime. Age and the rigors of painting outdoors had taken their toll. At 65 I'm just a little over a decade behind Downes. Best to hit the street while I still can.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Tough Angle

Sometimes when the model gets into pose at a group figure session you are presented with a less than optimal vantage point. An angle where you just don't have much to work with. If the room is crowded moving to find a better view isn't always an option. So you have to make the best of it.

Nude Study, oil pastel on toned paper, 7 1/2" X 11", 2016

While potentially frustrating I think these situations are actually good exercises. They force you to look harder searching for areas that might yield some interest. If you can turn an awkward or tough view into something even mildly interesting just think what can be accomplished when you are presented with a more prime vista.

Sunday, June 12, 2016


Here in the summer of 2016 mindfulness is all the rage. The concept being that an optimal way to live is to spend ones life fully focused on the present moment. This is by no means a new phenomena but it has certainly hit critical mass. Entire books have been devoted to the subject. Monks and great thinkers have spent their lives trying to achieve a state of mindfulness.

Portrait Study, oil on linen, 14" X 12", 2016

It occurs to me that creating art is a consummate mindful act. When fully engaged in a drawing or painting there is no other consciousness. This quality is one of and perhaps the most desirable aspects of making art.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Price vs Worth

I bought this little basket at a thrift store. I purchased it because I was taken by its design and how well it was crafted. I also bought it because an injustice was being perpetrated on its creator. The price tag reads 25 cents. I don't know who made it or when or where it was made. I do know it has a beautiful classic design and the weaving is excellent - tight and symmetrical. It must have taken hours of labor by a skilled craftsperson to complete.

Woven Basket, artist and date unknown

It is a cliche that our culture too often puts high value on things of minimal worth and little or no value on things that are worthy or even priceless. My hope is that the person who made this basket earned more than the equivalent of a quarter. I also hope they derived satisfaction and fulfillment in creating such a delightful object. When it comes to art there is too often little correlation between price and worth.