Monday, January 30, 2017


This is Janet. She was one of my mom's best friends from the time they met shortly after my mom moved to Maine in the early nineties until my mom's death in 2008. Whenever I see Janet around town we always stop and talk for awhile and she usually is wearing something that she was either given by my mom when she was alive or that she bought when her estate was sold. She always says something kind about my mom that was meaningful to her and these little connections and her expressions of love mean the world to me (though I don't believe I have ever told her that).

When I asked Janet if I could paint her portrait she said she would be happy to but asked if she could knit while I was painting her. "Of course", I said. She is a doer. Her hands are much prettier than this portrait would suggest but they came out just the way I wanted. Artistic license and all that...

12x16 pencil, watercolor, and acrylic in my huge Moleskine sketchbook.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Andrew - Part 1

This is Andrew. And this is why I LOVE this phase of Portrait Project. When I approach each friend for the portrait I'm about to do, I have been letting them know that I see these portraits as collaborations and invite their ideas in the making of their portrait. I was especially excited to see Andrew's name come out of the jar because is a creative artist, sculptor, and maker of interesting things so I was pretty sure he would have some ideas on the making of his portrait.

We met at his studio, which is in a large steel warehouse that has been partitioned into studios and workspaces where artists, sculptors, metalworkers, cabinetmakers, an architect, and a builder work separately on their own projects but also share a common bathroom, kitchen, meeting area, and woodshop tools. We talked about the portrait and Andrew came up with an idea of using a multi-plane canvas. I'm not really sure that's the right term but I'm also not entirely sure how this portrait is going to finally turn out. Andrew suggested I work out 2 portraits - one of half his face straight-on and the other at a 3/4 view - and then he would do the rest. "Sounds good to me", I said. Then he cut 2 panels, slapped some gesso on them and dried the panels with a heat gun. Then I got to work sketching and spraying and finger painting as fast as I could go because we both had other things to get to that day. This morning I threw a little more paint on and took some photos. Tomorrow, I'll drop them off at his shop and he'll finish them up. Can't wait to post the final piece!

Pencil, acrylic, and inks on 1/2" MDF.

To see the first portrait I did of Andrew for the Portrait Project 250 series, go here.

Monday, January 23, 2017


Portrait at 2 hours

This is Lily. As I said in my first portrait, she is cool, quirky, has a dog named Shadow and she's a photographer. You can see that first portrait here.

For this portrait, I met Lily at her house. We sat down for awhile and caught up on each other's lives and then turned our attention toward her portrait. The last portrait I did, she was standing behind a birch tree with one of the "eyes" of the birch bark taking the place of her right eye. To me, there was something poetic and poignant there - partly hiding and protecting herself and her identity, but also firmly planted in a forest of birches "looking" through another lens, or "eye", that to me, symbolizes her connection to the natural world. We discussed building on that same idea in my new portrait that would merge a part of my portrait with a photograph of her.

Then, I started to work on her portrait. I sat across from her at her dining table. A window to her right delivered beautiful morning light reflecting off the snow outside and casting a radiant golden glow on that side of her face. I took some photos knowing the light would soon change. Then I continued drawing and painting. It took Lily some time to get comfortable. I often ask people to look at me as I'm drawing them and, although they usually settle into it, the first few minutes are unsettling for most people. It's an intense experience to look into another's gaze and with Lily, I found her attempts to get comfortable particularly raw, attractive and intriguing. She was clearly more comfortable behind the lens than in front of it. I could only hope to capture some of this vulnerable beauty. At the end of 2 hours (my self-imposed deadline), I wasn't even close to capturing what I really wanted to capture. You can see in my "Portrait at 2 hours" photo that I was still working out the basics and building up shape and color. At this point, a resemblance is there but there's not much light, energy, or feeling.

"Finished" Portrait
And this is both a frustrating and tremendously exciting thing for me now with these live portraits. I would like to complete these portraits in the time I am with my friends but so far that just hasn't happened. Perhaps I need to work smaller, take more chances, push myself to go faster. But as frustrating as it can be, I am also extremely excited to keep pushing and exploring and so thankful for my friends for helping me and encouraging me and connecting with me on deeper levels while I am doing this in front of them.

Back in the studio, I was motivated to "finish" it - to push toward what I wanted to originally capture - so I continued to work from the photographs I had taken until it got closer to the feeling that I was going for. I probably spent another 3 or more hours in the studio working on it. As I move forward in this project, I would like to keep to posting the portrait I produce in the time I am with the person I'm painting and not let myself off the hook by knowing I can rely on their photograph to help me "finish" it or realize my internal vision.

12x16 watercolor and pencil in my huge Moleskine sketchbook.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017


This is Lauren. She's a co-owner of the Kelpie Gallery, a local fine art gallery in South Thomaston, Maine. This past summer her gallery invited me to participate in a wet paint auction to benefit the Georges River Land Trust. The basic idea of this wet paint auction was to set loose a large group of artists near the Weskeag River over 2 hot days and let them paint whatever they wanted and then try to sell all of the paintings the next day at auction. I was inspired to paint a whimsical piece I called "Yellow Submarine" because that's exactly what I painted. When my piece went up for auction I was honored to find that Lauren was the winner of my painting.

For this portrait, Lauren came to my house and sat across from me at our dining room table. When I started drawing her I asked if she had ever had her portrait painted before. Then she told me about the time Andrew Wyeth painted her portrait. Yeah, THE Andrew Wyeth.

Watercolor, pen, pencil and spray ink on paper in my huge Moleskine Journal (12x16).

Saturday, January 14, 2017


This is Sully. He and my son have been friends since they were young kids. Now he's in college in Colorado and skis whenever he can get some time off. A couple of years I did his portrait from a photo as part of the Portrait Project 250 series that you can see here. This past Christmas break he stayed with us for a few days and I was able to do his portrait one afternoon. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Unfinished Truth

Truth and I got together a couple of weeks ago at Drouthy Bear for a drink and I sketched this portrait of her. Doesn't feel finished but that's just the way it goes sometimes.


This is Truth. I met her a couple of years ago at a weekly life drawing group we both attend. Her actual name is Truth Hawk. I really don't know of a woman with a cooler name than that.

I did this portrait almost 3 months ago when I first announced my intention to do live portraits of all of my Facebook friends. I think Truth was the first to say yes to the idea so we scheduled it right away. At about the same time, life got busy with other projects so I put off scheduling any more portraits. Anyway, I'm back.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Lauren in progress

I painted Lauren "live" this morning. Didn't finish so I took a photo and will work on it some more. 

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year

Just looked back over my January posts for the past 8 years. I love having this online sketchbook. Not too many people see it. Just the interested (and interesting) few. These days it feels like it's just Wildside and me. I like having this place and this year I hope I post more because I like seeing the journey of my artistic expression unfolding over time. Happy New Year Wildside! Hoping I explore more of mine this year.

Oh yeah, this is a work in progress actually. I took a photo of the painting I was working on and then played with it in PicsArt app for iPhone that Truth got me on to.