Tuesday, March 28, 2017


This is Leslie. She and my wife work together and have become good friends over the past 2 or 3 years. She's a great cook and hostess and pulls together the most fabulous parties. Occasionally, I'll come home and Leslie and Valerie will be hanging out playing cards or working and it will morph into Leslie making the most awesome dinner from the simplest ingredients.

This portrait felt different for me. For one thing, I decided to change over to acrylics from watercolor within the first few minutes of starting to paint. I wanted more texture or character than I felt that watercolor could give me. Secondly, I tried and, at least on some level, succeeded to let go of my usual attempts to appeal to do a portrait that she would like. I've been noticing this "concern for what others will think" almost always creeps in with these "live" portraits and usually makes me tighter in the drawing and painting than I like to be. So lately I've been trying to buck this concern believing that it "compromises" the portrait on some level. Maybe, by using a less familiar medium, I took my mind off one thing ("concern for what others will think")  and put it toward dealing with the more technical and mundane issues of getting paint to do what I wanted. Regardless, I'm happy with the freedom I felt in doing this portrait and think the brush strokes, lines and scratches and rich saturated color reflect Leslie's character. Come in close and take a look.

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

Friday, March 24, 2017


This is Aidan. I've known him since he was a baby. He and my son went to preschool together. I remember taking my son over to his house for a play date one day when they were around 4 and Aidan got in trouble for something and his mom sent him to his room for a "timeout". Two minutes later I saw him running across the lawn in his underwear with a big smile on his face. Four walls couldn't contain him. He had climbed out the window and found freedom.

I did this portrait just a few days before he headed off to college. He's a good guy - smart, kind, athletic, and artistic. But don't let his good looks and calm demeanor fool you - he has a wild side.

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

Tuesday, March 21, 2017


This is Lisa. You can see the first portrait I painted of her here.

This portrait took 3 sessions over a couple of weeks. The first session we talked for about an hour while listening to Joni Mitchell and drinking tea and came up with a brilliant idea of doing an oil portrait that we could both work on together. The idea was that I would begin the painting, then Lisa would work on it over the next week, then I would come back and work on it some more and it would go on like this until we had a portrait we both liked. Since I didn't bring any oils, we scavenged Lisa's studio for a canvas, paints, and brushes then set up an easel in her dining room since it had the best light. I got the painting to good place that afternoon though we both agreed she looked too stern in the painting. You can see that painting here.

The next week I arrived to find the painting exactly as I had left it! Instead, Lisa started a new painting - a self-portrait she had done from looking in the mirror. So I suggested I work on that painting instead of continuing on with the first one. I quickly discovered how difficult it is to work on a mirrored portrait. Everything is backward so you have to study the subject then flip the study in your mind and then try to paint. It's really hard to do so after a few minutes I gave up and returned to the original painting. I made some improvements and advanced the painting to the next level leaving the background mostly untouched.

The next time I returned Lisa had made further progress on her self-portrait. I continued working on my portrait and we talked about the background until I saw it in my mind as a golden light. I wrapped things up and brought it home and finished it. This is pretty much how I imagined it.