Thursday, February 26, 2009

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Sarah in Driveway

9.5" x 6" watercolor

Sensation: A teenage daughter can be a caricature of contrasts, all mercurial attitude and fierce fragility. She will allow, but she will not participate. Her gesture speaks plainly enough.

Process: I take what I can get, and I work as quickly as I can. Pencil and watercolor are exactly the right medium, fresh and fast. The painting happens quickly, without much time for me to be in control; I have to hope that there is some experience or knowledge at work here, that it will be OK even without my being in control. (A metaphor for parenting?) Later, I try to turn this sketch into a larger painting, devoting much time and consideration to issues of composition and color, but the result is dull, heavy and overworked. This little watercolor remains the best statement about Sarah and me at that point in time, when she was 13 and I was, well... younger than I am now.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Gold Coast Shoppers, continued

Didn't get very far now, did I? See, this is why I like working smaller, 1/4 sheet size instead of this big bad boy (full sheet). My attention span just doesn't last slagging through 4 or 5 days of this, one layer of stuff at at time. With each successive hour spent, I begin to think "this had better be good, or else!" Or else it's a giant suckhole of time and effort. I would rather work alla prima, and finish it at one go even if it's horrible. Some things just can't, though.  Time to set this aside for a long long simmer....

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Gold Coast Shoppers (in progress)

30" x 22" watercolor, 300# CP

This was too big for me to get too far on today. The challenge here is to keep the foreground figures hot and focused, and keep the background in the background. But already I'm noodling, and will probably have to take a giant brush and push everything back, back. And then we get into the Land of Overworked. Otherwise, this is all about geometric layout of color: triangles first, then quads of secondary shapes.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Toronto Two-step

10.5" x 15" Watercolor

One of my favorite paintings of all time.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Friday, February 13, 2009

Thursday, February 12, 2009


11" x 14" watercolor, collection of John & Anna Timmerman

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Studio Chairs

12 " x 9" watercolor

For the rest of this week I will be uploading old paintings, as I am busy trying to get that Gala piece done. Then next week I must try to get something going for the Red River Watercolor Society (RRWS) show. So painting is happening, just not finishing or posting.

Sunday, February 8, 2009


10.5" X 14" Watercolor

Yet another do-over. I decided the others were too large, too much in-your-face. This has become an exercise in recognizing what I DON'T want in a painting, and that is because I am unclear about what I DO want. I just tumbled to this idea, when really it is something that should have been already known and in operation. How else do you make decisions? You don't; instead, you stumble around trying this and that and getting frustrated.

So it's back to the drawing board, to do a real monochromatic value study like I should have done in the first place, instead of relying on my doodles and giving in too soon to that anxious feeling that I should quit screwing around and get painting. A good plan, once prepared.

Also, painting and posting is going to be hit or miss this week, as I am filling as a transcription typist for somebody who is on vacation. If I were a faster typist, this wouldn't be eating up so much of my time this week.

Saturday, February 7, 2009


This is version 2, and in more trouble than the first one. hated the green and the purple, so I wiped them out. Now what? Already it is starting to get tight and boring. But I'm done for the day, and no time tomorrow, so looks like the backup will have to be sacrificed. And that painting I like and don't want to give away. Crap.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Guitar (in progress)

20" x 14" watercolor

Still not there, but it's a start. Things have been learned, and will not be repeated with the next one, which is already drawn up and on the easel for tomorrow-- but on a hot press, slippery surface which should allow the paint to bead up and drip even more (that's right, MORE). But just in case, I'm not throwing this out yet; good to have a backup plan. And it needs to be framed up and delivered by Monday.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Guitar Doodle II

4" x 4" flair and water

Still messing about with what to paint for the Gala donation. This is a "what if" try, as in what if I leave the background light instead of dark? (See Guitar Doodle I) What if I paint along a path of connected and related forms, instead of filling in larger, simpler shapes? Can I still make it simple and uncomplicated, or is that just not gonna happen? What all this obsessive analyzing REALLY does is get me to the point of just saying WTF and jumping in and see what happens.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Chicken Mug

5" x 6" watercolor

Yes, I know the ellipses are off. So many challenges, so little time! I'm using a light box and trying out different light sources, positions, backgrounds, bounce light -- and trying to relearn what I used to know about watercolor. It seems that the more I ratchet down my focus, the more little problems there are to contemplate and solve. The bigger picture is just going to have to wait...

Monday, February 2, 2009

Mini Squash

5" x 6" watercolor

This month I am concerned with trying to follow the spirit of the Duane Keiser/ Annie Dillard thing, trying to find substance and beauty in small, mundane things. I've had this funky little squash around my studio since last October, and it is only now starting to rot. Again the challenges of presenting yellows in shadow, but the main struggle for me lies with the properties of the medium. Whether to paint fresh and directly (Charles Reid) or to sneak up on the more subtle nuances (Ted Nuttal, Thomas Daly) is almost always the question, and my answers are never clear.

Guitar Doodle I

4 " x 4" pen and wash

Meanwhile, I have agreed to donate a painting to the Plains Art Museum's Spring Gala and it is due in one week. Their theme this year is the art of the guitar, and I am fond of painting music-related subjects and figures, so I might foolishly think this will be easy. Here's what I'm noodling with at the moment, but it is still much too descriptive. I am going to work up a few more ideas before I settle on something to paint and how to paint it.