Friday, August 17, 2012


This weeks Illustration friday topic is "teacher". So I've decided to post two images from a different books. The first is from "The Little Boy Without a Name and Without A Birthday"

Teh next one is from a more recent chapter book I illustrated called "Samantha Loses the Box Turtle"

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Taste The Rainbow!

        This past week I was at the Laundromat keeping my fiancĂ© company when the vending machine called my name in no uncertain terms and with a very distinct glow, faintly trickling past my right eye. I vigorously walked in the direction of the faint hummm and was encountered by these bizarre colored disks in a red package with large white letters. They were small, strange, hard and shinny with a large white letter on each of the disks as well. I once saw E.T. Eat a substance similar to these on TV., back when I still wore those umpa loompa jammies with the zipper down the front and slippers sewn onto each leg. Yet those were very different than these. I knew these couldn't belong to him because the letter on them was an "S" and not an "E" or a "T" . Confounded I dumped some out onto the table in front of us and was only slightly surprised to see them roll around and form themselves into a crop circle sort of pattern before my very eyes. I ate one and then another. They kept making their way from the bag, to my stomach with such ease but not without a good deal of chewing along the way. That was my favorite segment of the journey as each bunch, when chewed, would release an assortment of fruity flavors upon contact with my tongue.

      I eventually realized the bag would soon disappear and no trace of the flattened spheres would remain as proof of my encounter. Of course saving some aside was out of the question as each subsequent sample called out in a distinct vocal pitch increasingly fine tuned to my inner longings for fruity substances. Thinking quickly on my feet . . . I got nothing. But then Barbie told me I should do a painting of them. And so after about fifteen minutes of moving the pieces around, looking through a viewfinder, I came up with the absolute best composition I could possibly muster under the circumstances. Then Barbie picked them all up and rolled them onto the table top, like a pro at a craps table in Vegas, and I painted them!

      So it is without further ado my dear blog readers, facebook friends, fans (well it sounded good), and family members that I present to you this 5"x6" watercolor rendering as proof of the alleged encounter with Martian space disks. Take it or leave it as you please. It is my contention that these colored disks are in fact sent from Mars in an attempt to search out and gather information from among the most astute and learned of all humans (clearly their navigation software is a bit glitchy) on the planet earth in an attempt to learn our strengths and weaknesses, so that the whole of Martian kind might stand some small chance against us in the ensuing war over their home planet. You've been warned!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Vermont Oil Landscape Paintings: 2

Back in April of 2011 I posted a bunch of oil landscape paintings I did over the past few years. I've since sold most of those paintings but haven't had time to make more until now. I've been working on tons of small watercolor landscapes and this past Saturday I painted the first oil landscape that I've done in over a year. I decided to document the process a bit.

posts of my watercolor landscapes. first few  , shows my pocharde box for plein air watercolor painting

This first image shows the final painting. Oil on 5"x6" wooden panel. I actually already painted this same scene twice in watercolor but have changed things with each image. the first one has  a house int he background with hay bails in the field on the right and the corn had just begun to grow. The second image put a differetn house int he image and has corn growing more but focusus more ont eh patern of the various fields. Then for this image I intended to focus primarily ont eh foreground corn. Unfortunately I ran low on time and ended up rushign the corm more than intended.

This next image shows the various items I bring with me when painting with oil in plein air. Some of these things are the same as used for my watercolor supplies. 1) fishing or picnic basket with hinge top. 2) orderless Mineral Spirits in a  pickle jar to clean the brushes. 3) oil paint tubes. I tied to limit my pallet to make color choices much faster and for an easier accomplished color harmony. Basically I have a warm and cool yellow, blue and red with white and a purple. 4) refined linseed oil for thinning the paint. 5) duct tape to hold things down. 6) a small folding canvas chair with a cold pouch built in under the seat. 7) This is a book I bring out into the field with me from time to time as I'm still learning how to get better and faster with my landscapes. "Oil Painter's Solution Book : Landscapes: Over 100 Answers to Your Oil Painting Questions" by Elizabeth Tolley. 8) A durable metal easel the adjusts up taller and shorter with tilting bar which accepts various size canvases. 9) A hand sewn brush pouch my sister made for me. It has various width slots to slide the brush handles into and has a flap that folds over the top of the brushes, then I roll it up to keep all of the bristles in shape during transport. In this pic I have folded the corners around the easel legs and clipped the corners of the brush pouch cloth in the back. 10) a mixture of OMS and linseed oil in a small glass jar with a  tight lid for thinning paints. As I build up the layers I use less OMS and more linseed oil for thicker layers of paint that will take slightly longer to dry. Doing the reverse may lead to cracking paint. 11) this is the same wooden box I use for my watercolors. It has a hinging lid and various compartments in the bottom half. 12) paint rag. 13) wooden panel with gessoed surface. 14) my wooden paint pallet that I've had since college.
below is a pic showing the painting in process. 1) is a tiny quick thumbnail value study to help me remember the original value structure as the light changes a lot over the course of a few hours. 2) I put some duct tape from the top lid of the box to the bottom lid to keep it at a 90 degree angle.  3) I have a small piece of duct tape holding the panel to the wooden box lid. The wooden box is clamped onto the easel between the two clips made for holding canvas. You can see my pallet in the foreground with dabs of paint laid out. I generally hold it in my left hand or rest it on my lap.

Below is a series of pics I took during the painting process. The first step involves laying in basic value structure . This is very thinned down paint and generally helps the next layers of paint go down much faster. Sometimes I do the under painting with a warm raw sienna or ochre as I've read about many times but this time I decided to try something I read in Tolley's book which shows her painting the background values with a cooler under painting and the foreground with warmer tones.  Doing this step also helps me to keep value in mind as I paint the various pieces of landscape. From reading Brad Teare's blog I learned a lot about keeping track of values from one mass to the next. Typically the sky will be the lightest value in the whole image, the ground or things on the horizontal plane facing the sky tend to be the next lightest while vertical things like trees and buildings have the darkest areas with the absolute darkest darks typically in the foreground. Typically i leave the sky white at this stage to allow more vibrancy to show through the sky. The darkest darks and highlights are saved for last

In this second image I have laid in the three or four main colors I mixed for the sky. I make a dark blue, light blue, a light yellow and light crimson. I start with dabs of each color, more blue and darker dabs towards the top and more of the warmer and lighter dabs towards the bottom of the sky. In step three I lightly blends the dabs of color together being sure to keep leave some of the colors showing rather than ruthlessly blend them. I learned this technique from a book by Wendon Blake called " The complete Painting Course" 
The sky colors blended with a soft bristle brush. I use a flat brush but they say a filbert is best. I've never found a filbert that doesn't leave marks. Guess I haven't spent a enough money on them.
I've laid in a purplish undertone for the ridgeline trees then put a light blueish green for the highlights and tried to vary the colors slightly and focused on having an interesting ridgeline. I later went back in and put sky holes in the trees. Sky holes is when you can see sky through the foliage of the trees. I first learned about this from my highschool art teacher Larry Golden and have since learned it from James gurney, Wendon Blake, Brad teare and others. When I was first learning to paint with acrylics I used to paint the whole sky first and paint the tree and leaves on top but this method of painting the sky holes on top of the foliage I find to leave much more pleasant results. I'll probably write a whole blog post about it at some point.
Now I worked in the middle ground trees and continue with the foreground field trying to keep variation of color amongst the trees and have them slightly darker than the background while the foreground field was in fact slightly lighter than the background field. The final image shows the corn painted in. ( the first image show in this post.).

Friday, August 3, 2012

Illustration Friday : Bounce

It's been a while since I've entered an illustration into the illustration friday but I had the perfect image for this weeks topic. The topic is "Bounce" so of course I had to enter this spread from my book "Allegra, Friend of All Monsters".