Monday, January 19, 2015

Finished this one today

When I paint this size in acrylics, the customer may choose to frame it matted, under glass, in an 11 x 14" frame like a watercolor. In this case, my client chose to frame her home portrait in an 8 x 10" frame, without glass, like an oil painting.
I get excited about a painting when the home starts to feel like it's jumping off the canvas. This one's starting to come alive.

Here's the photo I started with. Did some pencil drawings and then colored one in a little bit with watercolors.

Sharing this sketch with the homeowner helped her direct me to remove the autumn wreath. And she sent me a different photo to use for the shrubbery and decorative grass to the right of the steps. 

She liked the flag and we decided to plant the black pot to the left of the steps with red geraniums. 

Can you see it start to come alive in the photo below from where it was in the 2 photos above?

More work begins today, trying to incorporate the plaque with the street address and correcting some things before picking out frames to show it to the homeowner later this week...

Friday, November 28, 2014

2nd of 2011 -- Queen City Tower at Night

Unlike the subject of my first one in 2011, this building was not an iconic part of Cincinnati's skyline for as long as I could remember: it was new!

On the 75th anniversary of Union Terminal, I realized it was built and completed during the worst of the great Depression in 1933. I thought about that a lot as I saw this building rising in the midst of the worst economic times I experienced in my life. When jobs for construction workers were hard to come by, people worked every day on the new Queen City (Tiara) Tower.

I've done a lot of sketches of it and my favorite ones are at night. But rather than painting a vertical of just this building, it is going to appear in some large horizontals I plan to paint of the "new" Cincinnati skyline. This is now its most prominent focal point. That will remind me of philanthropy. And how a Cincinnati man had it built during tough economic times, perhaps as bad as the Great Depression, giving people hope and jobs.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Secret ArtWorks 2014 Results ... and more back to 2010

The last Secret ArtWorks is over and we done good. 

  • More than 300 local, national and international artists contributed 750 works of art 
  • Over 800 attended Secret ArtWorks and celebrated our local artist community 
  • Over $100,000 was raised to support the ArtWorks mission to employ local youth and talent to create art and community impact. 

I'll keep blogging about the ones I've created until revealing the last three from this year. Two of them went while I was at the event. The other one looks nothing like my typical work.

Here's the first one I painted for 2010, a year where I was trying to paint more vertical format. So my Secret ArtWorks were sketches of skyscrapers downtown. Stay tuned for the next one.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Secret ArtWork #7 from 2009 -- Give it a Title!

One of the many things I learned as a result of participating in Secret ArtWorks is the importance of a painting's Title. For example, this year (2014) I wouldn't have liked the following pieces nearly as much were it not for their titles:

V0675 The Pants: not only is this a fabulous portrait of the woman, I assumed the title meant she "wore the pants in the family" as its matriarch. So much better a title than her name, or "Portrait of a Woman" or even of a mother.

V0759 City Rat: I wouldn't have looked at this portrait of a pigeon the same way without its great title, which made me think about pigeons and how apt a description this is. Poetry engages our minds this way, I think. A very "poetic" title was this.

So, I'm asking you what I should have titled this Secret Artwork from 2009. I can't remember what title I gave it, but I'm sure it wasn't as good as it could, and should, have been. If you own it, remind us what I titled it, please.

Does it help to know this is of Eden Plantation on the Gulf Coast near Fort Walton Beach Florida (between Destin and Seaside)? My parents wintered in Destin for many years and when I went there, I used to love to visit this historic home and estate, one of the last remnants of old Florida. It used to be a lumber plantation and the azalea gardens were still beautiful, as were the live oaks. The house was used in the feature film "Frogs" and the last time I was there it was the site of a weekend Civil War encampment.

Here are some titles I can think of today...

"A tree older than me"
"Where are all the frogs?"
"If Scarlett had lived in Florida"

How about you?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Second of 3 Secret ArtWorks I painted in 2009

Here's the second Secret ArtWork I painted in 2009 -- more experimentation in the media and style learned from C.F. Payne.

You have one more day (Wed 11/19/14) to see the real 2014 artwork on display in the lobby of the Westin Hotel. I always go down to shop, even though I don't have a voucher to get one. When you buy a ticket to Friday night's party, you get one voucher with it. And you can buy more of them if you like.

Here are the ones I would run to get if I had a voucher:

H0306 or V0675 -- absolutely masterful paintings, even in this small size!

I loved the paper mosaics of Union Terminal, as well as the "Fruit-Striped Zebras"; can't imagine doing this painstaking work: H0006, H0007, V0607 and I can't remember the number of the inside rotunda but it was the best of all!

Two works that I'm pretty sure were done by artists I admire and seek to follow. It would be great to get one of their originals for only $75 -- H0137, V0594

H0050, V0892, V0893; what beautiful watercolors!

Liked all the variety. Every year I think it is the best year. H0122 Longing (fiber, felted), H0223 Rag Rug (embroidery?), V0828 Chords (paint and thread, the title enhances it for me), V0762 Bells (colored pencils?) There are always many wonderful photographs but of course my favorite is H0241 Lumenocity -- Harper (because of the subject)

V0835 Carumba  Love the colors!

H0121 palette knife painting of the Footbridge at Twin Lakes in Eden Park

There's one I can't wait to find out who the artist is who painted it. Which ones would you want? See them all at

Monday, November 17, 2014

1 of 3 Secret ArtWorks 2009

Okay, I just figured it out: the first time I participated in Secret ArtWorks was 2008, so I've been participating for six years, not seven.

Here's how I know: In early 2009, C. F. Payne gave a demonstration at the Evendale Art Center and I was very inspired by the mixed media techniques he used. So I started experimenting with them in my own painting. It required drawing on heavy cold-press illustration board. But I learned in my first year of Secret ArtWorks (2008) that artists adhered all kinds of materials to the 5 x 7" entry papers: my studio mate Glenda Suttman did one in ceramics and Margi Meier's doing at least one this year in fused glass. I found out the surface can be no more than one inch thick but this illustration board I wanted to use was less than 1/4 inch thick, so it would be fine.

The painting above is of an old historic chapel near my house. I was interested in capturing the big oak tree behind it, which was more than 300 years old. They just cut that tree down a few weeks ago, because the root system was diseased and it was getting hollow inside, becoming a threat to fall on the nearby building.

I cut my illustration board to the 5 x 7" size, then drew the subject on it in pencil, like I did in another painting below:

Next, as Payne taught me, I covered the entire board with a light wash of oil paint in a warm reddish purple color. Then used a kneaded eraser to lift the highlights, leaving the rest in shadow.

That worked well on the chapel painting, so I could lift up the highlights on the building not in the shadow of the surrounding trees. Finally, I used a spray fixative to set the oil paint layer -- one used by people to retouch color photographs. Once that was dry, Chris Payne showed us you can put other media on top of it: acrylics, color pencil, etc. So that's what I did.

This example is a portrait I did of the Krippendorf Lodge at the Cincinnati Nature Center. I've made giclee prints of the chapel picture I did for Secret ArtWorks but I don't know who has the original. If you do, please let me know.

In 2008, I did 4 Secret ArtWorks -- 2 vertical and 2 horizontal. In 2009, my second year, I did 3 -- all horizontal. This is the first of those. Watch for upcoming posts of the other two.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Last of 4 Secret ArtWorks I did the first year

This is the last of the four Secret ArtWorks I did the first year I contributed. I can't remember whether that was 6 or 7 years ago. But I'd only seen them online before: never in person.

It made a difference. I couldn't believe the variety, the media, the detail and effort that could be put into a postcard size piece of artwork. And even online, I learned how important a title could be: a lesson that's served me well ever since.

I took the photo that inspired this from the road leading up to Devou Park. That first year, I did two horizontal paintings and two verticals. Again, participating helped me by getting me to paint verticals for the first time, as well as smaller. With Paul Brown Stadium in this painting, may posting it bring the Cincinnati Bengals good luck today ... we need it.