Monday, February 20, 2017


"Strings" - Nashville
6 x 12 acrylic on canvas
Available through DPW gallery/auction

I've been wandering around Nashville, TN for this months Virtual Paintout, and I discovered that there are areas where Google documented while on foot rather than in a vehicle. And, while on foot, they wandered into various shops and stores to record the interiors. How great it is to step through the doors of some of these great places and see what the store owners have setup for display and advertising. This painting is from "Williams Fine Violins" and the original image can be seen here.

The patterns caught my eye - the violins, all hung on the wall (when you look at the original Google, you'll see 2 rows of violins). But it was their shadows as well as their shapes that I noticed, along with the turning angles of the violins. They said one main thing to me "have to paint." 

I opted to go with only 1 row of violins, and to reduce the painted image to only shapes. I thought that would play up the patterns better. 

I've been asked how do I "see" the shapes when I do these types of paintings. Well, I'd love to tell you that I simply squint and see them, but actually I enlist the help of my handy computer. Basically, when I find a location in Google maps that interests me, I take a screen grab of the image as it appears on screen. I do this with all VPO projects. Then I open the screen grab in Photoshop. 

The next steps vary, as I often work with the image to remove items or to add items to create a balanced image. In this case, my screen grab shown here has both rows of the violins in it. 

At first I thought I would do both rows, but while working in Photoshop I thought it would do better as a single row, and that I'd go with the 6x12 ratio that I love to use. So I cropped it, then began roughly removing any remaining objects that I do not want. I'll grab the brush tool or the close stamp tool to adjust & alter the image. When that is done to my liking (and I don't try to make the image perfect, this is simply for a painting reference) I will usually increase the brightness & the contrast as I want as much distinction between the foreground & background in the image. Then I go into the filter gallery to play.

Some of my favorite filters I use are: Cutout, Dry Brush, Poster Edges - but I've used many of the others as well. Sometimes I will use only 1 filter, sometimes I'll wind up using multiples. I play until I find something I like, then print it. This becomes my photo reference for the painting. I also save the altered image on the computer so that I can reference it on screen as well. (I often travel on the weekends, and take my art with me, so I like to take the prints with me). I will printout the original as well so I can reference any parts that are unclear or to see the colors & values better. 

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Drawing a Straight Line - Perspective

Let me start by saying "I should have known better!" I do so many architectural paintings of old homes & buildings, I should have been more mindful of the perspective in my last painting. That being said, I spent much time checking & rechecking the angled lines in my painting. I wanted to make sure that the angles were all correct, in relation to one another, and that they fed to various vanishing points. And they do.

So what did I miss?

Here's the photo of the original work done, do you see what I see?

If you look closely at the two side buildings - the orange one on the right, the tan one on the left - you'll see that they appear to both be leaning backwards. Both the walls & the windows within them are not vertically straight, and that gives the illusion of them leaning backwards.

I forgot to check on the vertical lines in this! Now maybe, being these are older buildings in Puerto Rico, they do indeed lean. But for an architectural painting, that is a kiss of death!

So back to the easel I went, with t-square and other assorted design tools, I started to check where I was off. And with brush in hand, I started reworking those vertical lines. Here's the latest version on this, and you'll see a marked difference. The painting even "feels" better!

I am not sure this is ready for signature though. It appears, to my eye, that the horizontal lines are also off a bit. I'm debating whether to work those lines more, or leave the painting as it stands now. I'm not unhappy with it, and yes, I am my own worse critic (as most artists are).

But the lesson learned on this is: check & then re-check your angles. Not just the diagonal ones, but the vertical & horizontals as well!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Colorful San Juan

"Colorful San Juan"
9 x 12 acrylic on canvas
Available through DPW gallery/auction

This was originally intended to be painted last month and be a part of the Virtual Printout in Puerto Rico. However, it didn't get done in time, but I loved the scene so much I had to paint it. The original Google map link can be seen here.

What attracted me to this scene was ALL the colors. Red doors, blue door, pink buildings, orange buildings, blue roadway. I think every color of the spectrum is in this painting. I wanted to paint something in Puerto Rico that I felt represented it's colorful life and this spot said it perfectly.

What I didn't anticipate was the struggle with all the lines, the perspectives, the angles. This was a true challenge - and I've painted many a home portrait, so I mistakenly thought I could handle this one. Yikes! I fussed with these lines & planes all day, and I still see spots I will go back & refine still. But I've got it where I'm happy. 

There is another view from around that corner that I may paint as a mate to this one. And the pink building has the opposite color doors in the pink building. Love it!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

"Puerto Rico Beach"
6 x 12 acrylic on canvas
Available through DPW gallery/auction

I needed to paint one more beach scene for this months VPO visit to Puerto Rico. The original link can be seen here.

I really love to do these "slices" of beaches, and I am now convinced that I need to do a series of the US coastline in the 6x12 format. I've done a few in the past, and some have sold, but I really want to do a painting of all the US states that have a water coastline. Even the states that border the Great Lakes. This might be my 2017 challenge to myself! 


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