Session #383, Work #369

I felt like one hour was not near enough time to call it a good session yesterday. There something about doing color charts that makes me feel as if its not as important as painting something. Richard Schmid would disagree, but I just get that feeling that I’m cheating in some way.

Session #382, Work #368

I was thinking that these charts would be easy, but I was wrong. These 10 colors alone took me 1 hour to mix.

Session #381, Work #367

Daniel was the model tonight and her poses were making people in the class say “Wow”. There is something about a great pose that gives you the energy and motivation to block out everything and focus on drawing as if nothing else exists. Sometimes if a model is great the drawings around the whole room will look great.

Session #380, Work #357

Tonight in painting class Jamie had work on mixing color. Specifically our challenge was to take our brightest yellow and find the best mixture to get a yellow that extended from the highest value on a scale to the lowest value, which would be very close to black. 

Session #379, Work #366

Yes this painting of me looks a bit angry. I put my head down a bit which changed how the shadows were cast on my face and it looked very interesting. But my main focus for tonight was getting the brush strokes as expressive as possible while still trying to keep the drawing and form accurate.

Session #378, Work #365

I didn’t finish tonight’s self portrait, but I’m ok with that. I think its great. I worked for two hours with really extreme focus on getting every stroke as correct as possible. Thinking the whole time about form, value and color. I worked methodically, starting with the eye on the right and working out from there, taking my time.

Session #377, Work #364

I was reading my David Leffel book and was inspired to try and follow some advice that is listed.


An important in painting is to learn the feel of the paint on the brush, to know how much paint is needed for a thick or thin application of color. The thicker the paint, the richer the darks, and the lighter the lights. Learn to hold a brush loaded with paint and still make a sensitive stroke so almost no paint comes off. If you aren’t in total command of you brush and paint, you are not a painter. This is primary; trying to learn value and color is otherwise impossible.


Practice, while painting, to control the amount of paint that comes off the end of your brush. This is the heart and soul of painting.

Make each brushstroke describe your intention. Think before  you use the brush. Load your brush with thick paint and let the brushstroke follow the form of the object your painting, or stroke it on ina the direct of the gesture, the body’s movement. You might use the brush in a chiseling fashion, in short staccato movements, or as a conductor uses a baton. Always use the stroke that best describes the surface you’re painting. And finish your brushstroke on the canvas. Don’t lift the brush until the stroke is finished. Then life it off for the next brushstrok to begin and end.


Start to paint seriously the moment you pick up a brush. If you begin by painting carelessly, with slapdash strokes, you’ll find it difficult to move into the more careful painting.

David A. Leffel

Session #376, Work #363

I wish I had take a picture of the process with this painting. It was very early on that I knew that painting was successful. I started as normal by brushing a dark color over the entire canvas to prepare for a reductive start. But, I made a small change. I noticed that I could brush the dark color over the canvas but still leave recognizable brush strokes in the wash. So, I used this to do a pre drawing of my head to kind of mass in the major shape and location of features. It was actually very helpful.  I was able to start pulling out lights with paper towels and know that they were already in a good spot. 

Session #375, Work #362

Yesterday during life drawing class Jamie had us doing these small drawings in boxes that were limited to only 3 minutes long. I did a few tonight while timing myself at 5 minutes. The focus of the drawings was to force myself to look at the big shapes of light, not to worry about the accuracy of the drawing too much and just get the feel for the composition in big shapes and relative value.

Session #374, Work #361

I had a great night tonight at life drawing. The gestures went well and Jamie had us do these three minute box drawings of the model and her surroundings. They were small and quick so it forced me to think about nothing but the major shapes and values. Jamie also encouraged me to do these nightly, as they would increase my ability to look upon things as a scene, with a focus on composition.  I really like the idea so I’m thinking about getting a special sketchbook that will take charcoal well just for these types of drawings.

Session #373, Work #360

I guess I kinda take it as a challenge when I fail at something in art. Lots of people say I’m too hard on myself but what they don’t understand is that failure doesn’t weaken my resolve, but hardens it like tempered steel. One of the best things that I have heard Jamie Bollenback say was, “To get better, you need to make a whole hell of a lot more bad paintings”.

Session #372, Work #359

I’m in a rare mood on this one. I guess I must be tired. I’m not sure why this painting turned out bad, I felt like I was really focused but it just stinks.

Session #371, Work #357

The idea for tonight was to create a since of air in the painting, or begin to create it. The first thing I did was put a dark glaze over the entire painting and really push all the values down a few notches and soften up some edges.

Session #370, Work #357

Opposite to popular belief making art is not always fun, or easy. Sometimes its like a freaking job, and almost all of the time its hard work. Unless of course your happy with mediocrity and have no need to improve, then it can get pretty fun and easy. But that is not my goal.

Session #369, Work #357

So the focus on this painting now is to continue to work in black and white while at the same time correcting drawing, increasing detail, and dialing in the values so their relative nature matches the still life while at the same time working with the mood of the painting.

Session #368, Work #357

I didn’t spend much time on working up the gray overlay tonight, but I still felt like I got a lot done. I mixed up 7 steps of value from black to white and used those over the whole painting. I took care to not use pure white anywhere on the painting, or pure black. I want to save those extreme values for later use if necessary, so I practiced conservation of the limitation of paint.

Session #367, Work #358

The model was a bit late tonight so we drew a ball on a stool for a while, working with value and trying to make it look as if it turned in space. Emily is one of the best models that I have had the pleasure to draw. Seems like whatever pose she takes I can’t help be be interested or find something exciting about it. We started the class as normal with a bunch of short term poses then ended the class with a 1 hour pose.

Session #366, Work #357

I had a truck load of stuff that I brought to the painting class today. I basically had to bring my entire painting setup plus objects for a still life and lamps. But it payed off, I was able to have a lot of items to choose from and because I was so prepared I spent a lot of extra time setting up my still life. I really wanted to get this composition fantastic and interesting to paint. I plan on spending a long time on it so I want it to keep the excitement throughout. 

Session #365, Work #356

Today was a HUGE day for me, I have been doing art every single day for an entire year and so today passed like most of our birthdays, a small celebration but nothing big. Its nice to have the first year under my belt, I feel like its a huge accomplishment and I’m really happy about it. Now, I’m looking to the future. I started this journey a year ago with one thing in mind, “Mastering art”, whatever that may be. Even though 1 year is done, my long term goal is much much longer. I plan on doing the same for at least 15 years. I figure after that amount of time I will have worked every day for 15 years and a total of around 10,000 hours on art. I hope at that time I will be a “master” at this craft, or whatever artistic craft I may be pursuing.

Session #364, Work #355

I wasn’t sure what to paint tonight so I started flipping through three of the books that I purchased in Portland. “Oil Painting Secrets From a Master” by Linda Cateura, is a great book that accounts a ton of information that Lynda learned while attending David Leffel’s class at the Art Students League in New York. David Leffel’s paintings are amazing and are heavily influenced by Rembrandt. And tonight my painting was heavily influenced by David Leffel.

Session #363, Work #354

This was a fun and quick self portrait. It only took me an hour and I really felt that I got the drawing done well even though my head was pretty small on the canvas. 

Session #362, Work #353

So the idea is this, at some point I will need to use photo references to paint from and I dislike the idea. I always paint straight from life because it is better training, it gives you more information about your subject and it forces you to see. So, I figure the best solution is to study how photos change a subject so I can understand the differences when I must paint from them and change my approach accordingly. 

Session #361, Work #352

So this was a good lesson in drawing. Because the drawing is off the smile in my portrait doesn’t look very authentic at all. I definitely need to practice this more.

Session #360, Work #351

I hardly ever get to draw an ethnic model, there are only a few that work in the places that I go. Plus there are even fewer models that can pose as well as Naumi did tonight. She had some amazing poses. And she was by far the most rock solid super still statuesque model I have ever drawn. Holy cow! She was like stone the whole time. Really great model I can’t say enough good things about her.

Session #359, Work #350

I’m having fun doing self portraits now. It’s much easier than hiring a model, but at some point I hope to have a model. Actually, the main reason why I started doing the portraits was to practice for a possible upcoming portrait. I don’t want to say too much about it as I fear I may jinx it.

Session #358, Work #349

On my way home from Crossfit I was thinking about last night painting and what I wanted to accomplish with tonight’s painting. I knew that I wanted to get the drawing better, and that I wanted to work on it longer. One thing that I have mentioned in the past was longevity of my painting sessions and how I wanted to increase the time spent on all my pieces. It suddenly dawned on me that if I wanted to increase the length of time I was in front of the canvas I needed to make it the best experience I could. So, I pulled up my comfy work chair, an easel with a mirror, an easel with my canvas and a couple of my favorite beverages. I was super comfortable and that quickly transferred to calm deliberate thought about what I was working on. I don’t want to attribute all of the success on this painting to my comfortable position but I must say that it had a big part to play. 

Session #357, Work #348

Sometimes I find it very difficult to post the horrid monstrosity that I conjured in the late hours of the night, I even hesitate to call it art. But,I do it anyway and wave my flag of failure. Not to brow beat myself into submission but to deeply expose my errors and faults so they may be dispatched much easier. I see it as a shout to the future, a war cry to my inability. Hell yeah I screwed up tonight and it looks like crap, and its the best thing ever! Because we learn the most from our mistakes and failures, and if we drive through them with power and conviction we are that much stronger when we come out on the other side.

Session #356, Work #347

I figured I would just work on one small section of the painting and see what kind of detail I could bring out. It was a fairly lame attempt so I’m not going to prattle on about painting tonight. But I do have some excitement for an idea of a long term subject, I have enough energy to being on that tomorrow. Unfortunately that is all for now.

Session #355, Work #347

Observing an object and translating it into two dimensions accurately and faithfully takes one very important ability. The ability to understand what you are seeing. I don’t mean the ability to name the object, I’m talking about the understanding of it’s shape in every minute facet.  Single objects are much easier to understand, such as an apple. Its shape can be described with a circle in a very cartoon type way, which would still indicate a very limited understanding of the object. But the kind of understanding that I want to achieve would have the apples contour rendered down to perfectly match the original, along with all the subtle transitions of color on its skin.

Session #354, Work #347

Late night with work so I didn’t get to start painting until a little before 11pm. I worked over an hour on it but I just put down an hour for the total time. I started with the reductive method and quickly established a composition with good relative values. I was going for a flow of the painting from bottom left corner to the top right corner. I also wanted to tone down the values a bit and make it somewhat darker. Darkening the relative values is a good thing for several reasons. The main one being that paint can almost never reach the brightest light in a subject.

Session #353, Work #346

I felt like the reductive start to this painting would have went well if the subject was less detailed or if the canvas was much larger. I just couldn’t get the paper towel to articulate the smallest facets of the figure. So it ended up being a combination of wiping out and brushing in. Also, I had no idea how to compose the painting so that this pose had some sort of emotional appeal. I should have done a couple thumbnails like Jamie suggested. 

Session #352, Work #345

The first session of the new oil painting class given by Jamie Bollenback and held at Artists and craftsman supply in their awesome classroom space. This is really the best place to learn about art. Great people, wonderful staff, fresh coffee and a whole store of art supplies to pick from.

Session #351, Work #344

I really love painting this way. I put on a wash, then wipe out the highlights and some mid-tones, then go straight for the dark areas. I can’t believe it only took me 30 minutes to do this much painting. Of course I was coping off a master painting who has done all the work for me, but I still fill that its fast and accurate.

Session #350, Work #342/343

I had forgotten to bring the master copy of the previous day so I continued to work on my still life painting. The flowers had drooped more but that was fine they actually had a clear since of light and shadow and it was easier to see the shapes. Another thing that helped tremendously was turning off the warm light cast over my canvas. I should have known this, I have made the same mistake many times before, heck I even built a whole studio around the idea of good constant same temperature light. Next time I will bring my own light, and a couple bulbs, one 5000k and the other regular tungsten. 

Session #349, Work #341/342

The painting workshop was very laid back and the instructor Larine was very knowledgeable about not only painting from flowers but oil painting in general. We started with a talk of materials and how to use them best. Then Larine did a “Master Copy” demo. Here she taped up an image of a flower still life from Fantn Latour with her canvas right next to it then laid down a dark oil and Gamsol wash in a square the same size of the photo.

Session #348, Work #340

At 11pm I started this drawing. This is one of those nights when I want nothing more than to just got to bed but after 347 consecutive days of art that is not an option. There is something about night, right before bed, that sparks the creativity in me and I can dive deep into any work of art.

Session #347, Work #339

So my wilting flower still life was a failure, but not due to the still life itself or the whole of the idea. What killed it was my choice of materials. I’m not sure if I will ever go back to gouache now, I hope that at some point in the future I have another reason to use it because I paid a good deal of money for the paints.

Session #346, Work #338

Of course after 2 weeks of not drawing a model I was a but rusty, so I started off with an easier medium for gestures, sanguine. The first few poses were 2 minutes long and it seemed like the more my brain got involved the worst the drawings got.

Session #345, Work #337

I will get right to the point, at the moment I don’t like gouache, at all. Through all the work on this painting I have had multiple urges to pull out some oil paint and breeze through the painting with aggressive strokes.

Session #344, Work #337

Still more change in the still life tonight. Of course not near as much as the previous day but there is still some movement. Even with this small movement of the flowers I’m not sure how I’m going to continue with the painting without starting over each night and painting over what I did the night  before. I don’t want to start new each night, I want to catalog the decay of the still life over time in one piece. Although, I have already lost any work that I have done on the first session. I think after tonight I have a better idea of how Gouache needs to be worked so this will help me in figuring out how to move through the painting.

Session #343, Work #337

I woke up this morning  and looked at the still life and I couldn’t believe that the lilies deflated so much over night. The literally went from full wonderful flowers to limp and lifeless hanging pedals. I spent most of the day wondering how I was going to handle the change.

Session #342, Work #337

I set aside today to give some thought to a long term art subject. The subject needed to be something that I could work on at night under constant light, so of course it ended up being a still life. I decided that I would like to do a painting of flowers in gouache over a 7 day period. Each day I expect the still life to change slightly as the flowers wilt and change positions. I’m not sure how I’m going to handle the change in the still life every day but I’m very excited to see what I come up with.

Session #341, Work #336

I figured it would be interesting to split the flower in half with the background. Its very similar to a horizon line, but I wanted to see how the flower and its stem would play between the competing values. Unfortunately I didn’t spend the time in darkening in the black background much, I was so focused on the details of the withered flower that I left it mostly white.

Session #340, Work #335

I really need to look at master drawings from Asia. Artists like Seitei Watanabe who’s compositions and elegance are masterful. Sometimes I get a glance of this possible beauty while I’m working, but its a simplicity that my anxiousness will never let last.

Session #339, Work #334

Drawing something white to get a better handle on values is very similar to drawing the figure to get better at proportion. For either one any error or incorrectness shows easily. 

Session #338, Work #332

I was a bit rushed tonight on this drawing. Pattie and I walked to Cinebarre, a theater very close to our house, but we arrived too late to see the movie without having to sit in the front row due to the theater being almost sold out. So we purchased tickets for the 10pm showing and decided to have dinner at Mazatlan instead.

Session #337, Work #331

It was a good day today. I added a bunch of posts to my website along with a great new design and a few new additions. I also pulled off a pretty good drawing.

Session #336, Work #330

When starting a drawing most nights I have this urge to do more with each still life, so I intentionally stay away from very simple subjects. Maybe I think that their simplicity will transfer somehow into the drawing and it will be bad or unimportant from the start. That is not the case, and this drawing really shows it.

Session #335, Work #329

I’m not sure if its the black background or the use of charcoal on this drawing but I’m much more happy with it then the last few drawings.

Session #334, Work #328

So sunflowers are hard to draw when their alive but I think they are even harder to draw when they are dead and drying. The values have to be spot on or the drawing looks like a jumbled mess of lines, as can been seen here in this drawing.

Session #333, Work #327

The dried lily is a real challenge to draw. In this one I tried to focus really hard on the shape of the flower and get everything correct but I lost the values somehow.

Session #332, Work #326

I was trying to capture the flow of the leaves from left to right and I started this drawing with swooping motions of my pencil. I wasn’t worrying too much with the accuracy of the drawing but I did want to grasp the general shape.

Session #331, Work #325

I could have done a lot better with the values on this one and after showing the drawing to my wife she commented that it looks like he is riding a platypus and not a manatee. As soon as she said that I realized that the snout of the manatee was too long and I didn’t quite capture the roundness of it.

Session #330, Work #324

There were so many ornaments on the tree to choose from that it was very hard picking one. I like Pinocchio because he is made of a bunch of simple shapes. I remember at one point during the drawing he fell over, luckily I was far enough into the drawing that it didn’t destroy my chances of getting his shape accurate.

Session #329, Work #323

I’m so far behind in posting my work that I can’t remember what I was thinking with this drawing, so no commentary for this post.



Session #328, Work #322

There is something about this drawing that has really grown on me. When I was doing it I wasn’t liking it at all but the more I look at it I’m reminded of those wonderful Japanese ink drawings that focus deeply on the elegance of line quality and the power of simplistic composition. I may need to chase this down more.


Session #327, Work #321

The problem that I keep facing with graphite is the in-ability to achieve subtle dark values and I seem to always go a bit lighter than is correct. I wanted to capture the whiteness of the underside of these pedals but unfortunately I didn’t make the rest of the flower dark enough to capture it.


Session #326, Work #320

I can almost guarantee that if I spend more than an hour on a drawing that I will like it. Tonight was no different, I spent over an hour on this sun flower and I’m really happy with the outcome. It also helps that I really like to draw sun flowers.


Session #325, Work #319

Jamie commented today that I should really start a long term piece, and I agree very much so. So for the next week or so I will be trying to figure out a subject for a long term drawing or painting.


Session #324, Work #318

I think this may be the first time I have ever drawn a Lilly.