Battle Royale

There had been a class I had taken which had individuals using little squares of construction paper to mass together light, medium and dark values. This exercise was to help us see as artists and be able to create visually interesting paintings. The class was excellent, and I am so thankful that I was able to attend.

There is a lot to consider when creating a painting. I was incredibly intimidated when I decided to retry this path. It’s frustrating and can be a bit harsh if you don’t have a thick skin.

The creative process can be brutal. Winston Churchill, no stranger to battle or painting, called the process of painting a “battle royale”. The battle is between the artist and painting and only one can win.

Take the example of just arranging the three separate values of construction paper mentioned above. Now imagine that you need to consider these things in a painting and you haven’t even gotten to the color yet. Don’t forget about variation within your shapes, the hard and soft edges, and the all-important “glow factor”. Keep all this in mind as you work to strengthen your focal point.

Remember the essence of warm and cool within the colors and shapes of massed values. About those shapes, make sure they are all different. No ice cube trays!

Painting is so difficult it makes you wonder why anyone would want to do it.


A painting a day part 3

This is a follow up post to “A painting a day part 2”

I was researching reference photos from a prior trip to use for a landscape painting after doing still-life for awhile, and was feeling pretty frightened.  Did I even know how to paint atmospheric perspective anymore?  What if it sucked!?

Well, again, I came back to the thought – it’s only paper, it’s only 9×12, it’s just paint.  You can do it over again, it’s small and won’t take up months or even years of your life.

You can do this.

Right. I had my thumbnail sketch (always do one!) so that I would have my main darks outlined.  I reserved my dark shapes throughout the painting.  I started with the hardest, darkest soft pastels on the black Mi-Teintes paper (wrong side).  I layered slowly, using very light pressure.  I took my time.  I wasn’t going to finish this in one day, one week, and may not even do it in a month.  I was learning how to SEE again.

Slowly, it happened.  The painting took form.  I could see it coming into focus with each lightly applied layer.  And finally, I could use the softest pastels for the punch of color in certain areas, while reserving the black of the paper for my darkest areas, and it was done.

Crested Butte

This painting took me a bit longer than a day.  I’m happy with it, and I have learned everything I think I could learn from this painting. Even though I am not officially producing a painting every single day, I am producing a painting as often as I can, and my work is definitely improving because of it.  I used to produce maybe a painting every month or 6.  Now, I am producing around 3 per month.  This is huge because it means I am not avoiding the process of painting.

I feel like I am painting on my own terms and most importantly, without fear.


“Reflections” was completed a couple of years ago, before I had ever heard of the term ‘lyrical abstract’ painting. Yet, I would describe this small painting as exactly that. I was inspired to paint from a dream I had had and this was eventually the result.

I began the painting with some cadmium orange as the underpainting. I wanted to ensure that when I scraped away subsequent layers, a little dazzling contrast would shine through. I believe this, in part, is how the reflections were achieved along with the strategic use of white.

There were times when I worked on this piece at 3am. It possessed me occasionally. The painting is small but mighty and took many hours to complete. 

I believe it was worth it.


“A Little Bit Further” – a painting with an unusual beginning 

I started the abstract painting “A Little Bit Further” with a wash of primary colors. I initially I magined the painting would result in an abstract landscape eventually, but after allowing the underpainting layer to dry, I felt differently.  The painting needed to sit for awhile, as it wasn’t speaking to me. Two days ago, that all changed…the canvas spoke to me loud and clear!

This canvas wanted me to employ the knife instead of the brush for paint application.

There was a conspiracy of color and music in my studio at the time. 

I couldn’t stop myself – In a scrape on, scrape off fashion, I pushed and pulled the shapes until I felt I had achieved what I 

A Little Bit Further

Underpainting “revolution “

I finished the underpainting for what will eventually look like rusted metal-abstract. This is based on a dream. I’m hoping I can execute it in a way to do the dream justice.

Doing this Old-masters style with glazing for color. The darks will be very dark.



I had a dream about revolution last night and I have to wonder now….if I could represent revolution as a painting, what would it look like?

I can’t wait to find out!

Twisted Tree