Abbotsford House

I had the privilege to work with Richard Schmid and West Wind Fine Art to film and edit this short video for Richard's recent masterwork, "Abbotsford House, the home of Sir Walter Scott." All the footage here was shot either in Scotland, where he painted several studies from life, or from the American unveiling and exhibition that was held in Wichita this past September. Enjoy!

Putney Painters - from back in May

I'm finally able to play catch-up from a busy schedule and I wanted to post a couple pictures from a long past Putney Painter day (I've got a lot of posts to write till I catch up with the present!). Half of us painted outdoors underneath a grove of apple trees behind the barn and the other half were inside finishing up paintings that they had started the day before.

Richard was fairly inventive with his landscape and used all the information around him to create the start of a great composition. The orchard was on a slope and he was positioned at the very bottom. There was a good hundred feet of trees and then a clearing where the sun was bursting through.

Richard started with an underpainting that was all about harmonies and large, interesting shapes with the light cutting through the top third (which he wiped out to the white canvas with a paper towel). His underpaintings have maximum randomness in the colors, textures, and transparency . . . this really helps to carry a natural feeling throughout the rest of the painting.

It's obviously been a while since this day so I can't remember all the details past this initial impression, but hopefully the following photos will help you out and give you some inspiration.

Here's a look at what they were doing inside!

It's official, I'm a "Putney Painter"

I had a great painting session with my friends up in Putney this past Saturday. We painted a 15? year old boy that had such a great contemplative demeanor (and a cool nose). Richard started the day with a really unexpected announcement where he invited myself and Leigh Brady to be official Putney Painters. It's such a privilege to learn and paint with these people and this association is the icing on the cake -- I hope my paintings and character will be a reflection of the generosity that these amazing artists have shared.

Here is Nancy's start (about 50 minutes in I think). You can see my start over there on the left.

 Here is Richard's painting at about the third sitting. I love looking at his paintings close-up . . . he has an amazing economy of brushstrokes and his colors are always so pure and vibrant which breath life into his paintings.

Here is my painting about 3/4 of the way through. I kinda wish I would have just fixed a few things and stopped here. The grandparents of the boy wanted the painting and I thought it only right to take it to more of a finish.

Here is Nancy's painting at the end of the day. The biggest thing I learned (which Nancy does so well in the hair for example) is that in the dark areas (and especially the darkest darks), it is always better to plan ahead and carefully place the strokes and then leave them.

You need to make sure that you apply them in a way that leaves some of the canvas showing through. It creates a luminosity that works to your advantage, letting the semi-transparent darks sit into the background and the opaque and thicker paint jump to the front. This illusion is something that I haven't been keeping consistent (having both transparent and opaque darks) which hurts the illusion. To create these transparent strokes, you can use either a dry-brush approach or use thinned paint -- the trick is to use a bristle brush and use a lot of pressure when you make the stroke.

Here is my painting at the end of the day.

Artists on Art Magazine

I have had a secret project under wraps for the last two months and it went live today (maybe you've noticed the lack of blog posts from me).

I have been busy working with some of the top artists around and creating a new quarterly art magazine that will hopefully fill the gaps in the traditional publications.

Here's a synopsis:
Artists on Art magazine connects readers to master artists, their work, and the connoisseurs who embrace it. Readers enjoy a direct, thought-provoking, connection with today’s top artists; learning their techniques and hearing their ideas. Each issue contains at least ten robust articles richly illustrated with high-resolution photography, step-by-step guides, video, and interactivity. Our digital-only model combines the best of print with the power of the web, giving you constant access to your subscription from anywhere, on any internet-connected device.

Here is our Promo Video:

And some previews of the Premiere Issue (which has over 15,000 words, 300+ pics, high-resolution images of paintings and so much more)

This premier Winter Issue has articles written by: Carolyn Anderson, Daniel Sprick, Casey Baugh, Julio Reyes, Douglas Fryer, Libby Whipple, Dan McCaw, Daniel Keys, and Susan Lyon with Scott Burdick.

Check out the site and subscribe at:

Putney Painters - Nov 13

Artist Katie Swatland posed for us this past Saturday and Richard set up a pose that was both a great study on whites and also design. In my painting below, I never got to the whites, but I'm really looking forward to finishing up this painting and learning more about the colors and temperatures I can play with.

Richards glasses got destroyed on the road outside the Barn the week before and his new glasses hadn't come in yet . . . so, he basically couldn't see the model or his painting. Because of that, he tried to start a painting but ended up wiping it out after a session and then did a quick monochrome for Katie. I was able to snap a photo of each -- still pretty good for someone who couldn't see!


Below are two in-process photos from my painting. I'll definetly be finishing this painting sometime in the next couple weeks and will keep you posted.

To close, artist Charlie Hunter jumped out to the front steps of the Barn to do a little sketching. This guy has such a great sketchbook, each little drawing deserves a frame.

Busy Week

This past week, my friend Daniel Keys was up in New England for some painting and his one-man show at West Wind Fine Art.

On Monday I caught up with him, Kathy Anderson, and a few other artists for some painting at a little roadside farm in Connecticut. It was a day of good painting and great company . . . something I can never get enough of.

On Saturday, I drove up to Vermont for a portrait day with Richard Schmid, Nancy Guzik and the rest of the Putney gang. I only painted in the morning and then headed out to Cape Cod after lunch. I wish I could have seen the paintings at the end of the day -- everybody was doing a really good job.

Nancy's start 

 Richard's start

 My really quick sketch

A few hours later, I showed up on the Cape for Daniel's show which was really nice. I've only seen a couple of his finished "Studio" paintings and it was great seeing ten of them side by side, all with amazing brushwork and textures. If you ever get a chance to see his work in person, I would do it . . . you can't get a sense for his thicker brushwork and color harmonies from the photos.

Although I couldn't stay, Daniel did a demo on Sunday and Kristin Thies of West Wind Fine Art was kind enough to share a couple photos with me (us).

Putney Painters - Oct 1st

This past Saturday, I again had the opportunity to paint with my friends in Putney, VT. Because of some rain, we had a still life day and had a great time together in the barn.

Richard started a wonderfully loose painting and demonstrated to us all how to paint both accurately while still taking artistic license. Below are a few progress shots.

Dennis Sheehan spent the day preparing for his one-man show coming up at Susan Powell Fine Art. The opening is Oct. 14 if your anywhere near Madison, CT.

Dennis completed 3 block-ins (just a little further than the photo below) in about 4 hours! He is a greater painter and above that, an artist that has a vision and unique look within todays market. Seeing his paintings from life have always been a great experience -- you don't get a sense of the thick paint and beautiful brushwork from the digital images.

Kathy Anderson was doing some really good work as well. She wrapped up this floral which as you can see, she totally captured the color and values.

To top it all off, Richards birthday was October 5th and we had a little (3 cakes and ice cream!) celebration for him. Happy Birthday Richard, may you have many, many more!

Weekend with the Masters - Final Day

This re-cap has taken a while, but we are finally on to the last day -- I can't wait to start blogging about some other things (if you have any recommendations, just let me know). This Final day was very light and I only have a few photos.

I spent the majority of the morning watching Quang Ho's still life demonstration. He painted two small demos, and like his other paintings, he first blocked in the darks and shadows. He then worked around the canvas adding various shapes of color.

From talking with Quang and watching him paint over those few days, I have realized that he loves applying some mystery in his painting. I'm not saying that he leaves things in his painting that are a mystery (although that may be true), but that as he's painting, he avoids or leaves things to a later point. He will build up random shapes and colors and then all of a sudden create that one needed silhouette or edge which will just bring an object to life. He did this both in his still life (with the fabric table cloth) and in his evening duel (where he painted the arm and hand hand as loose shapes and then added the edge between the arm and dress - making it pop into reality).

As I was leaving the demo, I jumped across the hall and snapped a couple pictures of David Leffell's demo (I'm sorry I didn't stay longer or get any of the canvas . . . I believe it turned out really well)

After a somewhat relaxing lunch and doing a little work for the event, I jumped into David Spricks workshop and had an hour and a half to do a little drawing.

And that's it -- After a short sleep and a long plane ride, I was back at home and back into the grind (while being energized and excited about this next year of painting and what it will bring).  I'm already looking forward to the next event . . . thanks for sticking around and being interested in the journey.

Weekend with the Masters - Day Three

I'm starting to forget the exact details of each day and it's all starting to blend together (I have the worst memory!), so I'll do my best to re-live it. These last two posts might be a little light on text, although most of you might prefer that anyway.

I started out the day watching Carolyn Anderson's morning demonstration. She started with a few placement lines (top/bottom of head, tilt, hair/profile lines) and then jumped right into painting the main shadows. From there, she moved around and built up the painting with the right color, in the right shape, in the right location. I am always so impressed with Carolyn's (and Quang Ho's) style and ability, I have probably said this before, but I believe that if someone has really figured out how to paint, they will embody some of this style and technique -- it's all about complete control and accuracy of the components of painting -- knowing what needs to be there and omitting the rest. That being said, I sometimes wish Carolyn's paintings had a stronger or more refined center of interest . . . something that a viewer could really grasp on to. 

Hopefully as I grow as an artist, some of these qualities that are seen in Carolyn's work will be seen in my own paintings.

After watching most of the demo, I jumped around to the other portrait workshops to find a place to paint in the afternoon. I spent a few minutes in both Scott Burdicks and Nancy Guziks workshop, snapping a couple pictures for you.

I decided to paint with Nancy that afternoon and Richard came in to see how the workshop was coming along. During his visit he drew a quick sketch of the models younger brother (the girl in the above picture) and then also played chess with the model. This little girl was really good at chess and had most of us scared to play her. I'm not sure how I would have faired, but I figured I should just stick to painting.

Friday night (day 3) was the last of the evening events which was a duel between Quang Ho and Daniel Sprick. The two are friends from Colorado and are both represented by Gallery 1261 in Denver. Both artists were engaging and painted well. Quang spent the first 20 minutes discussing his thought process and ideas while Daniel got a much needed head start. As mentioned before, Daniel's style is much more refined (verging on photo-realism at times) while Quang is much faster and simplified. It was nice to see two very different approaches to the same subject . . . something you usually don't see in these types of events. 

Weekend with the Masters - Day Two

Day two started off the workshops and except for a couple lectures, most participants were in a single class the entire day. Each "Master" spent the morning discussing and demonstrating their painting method which left the afternoon for student participation.

I spent most of my morning watching the start of Rose Frantzen's demo (I had missed the beginning of day one's demonstration and was really interested in this stage). Like a true master, she quickly constructed both a wonderful likeness as well as a piece of art -- I would highly recommend Rose's workshops . . . she just gets "it" and can easily describe and teach what she thinks and knows.

One of the things I took away from her demo was that when she squints down at the subject (to simplify the shapes), she always asks herself a coinciding question. Like "How does the shape of the right eye differ from the left", or "does the hair line disappear" or "are these two shapes the same value even though they have different temperatures." I may do the same thing half of the time, but I bet I'm guilty of just squinting at the subject because that's what "your supposed to do."

She also takes assessment of things as she slowly squints down and opens back up. So, for example, if she wants to find the hardest edge on the subject, she will slowly squint down until all the edges are lost except for one (which will be the hardest edge), and then as she slowly opens her eyes, she will take an account of all the other edges that start to come back into her vision . . . so through one squint, she will know the hardest edge and the others that follow.

Later in the morning, I spent some time in Dan Gerhartz's workshop as well as a few moments in Daniel Spricks. Both are amazing artists -- Sprick starts with a very classical duotone underpainting while Gerhartz blocks in with more local color (much like Frantzen or Burdick).

In the afternoon, my friend and I crashed Rose's workshop and was able to paint for a couple hours. I have to take photos of the paintings, and will try to get to it soon.

The evening event was the much anticipated portrait demonstration of Richard Schmid painting Alexey Steele. If you know Alexey, you know that he can't sit still or stop talking, making it very entertaining to see Richard paint a portrait while Alexey is flailing his arms and giving a 2 hour monologue in his Russian accent. I don't have any photos of the event (my camera battery was needed), but I was able to take a little video -- it's not much but it does have a surprise ending when Daniel Keys and I were goofing off and laughing about who knows what . . .

To wrap up the evening, a bunch of us grabbed some food after the event . . . here are a few pictures of to many people around to small of a table. (notice how we all care about being in the pictures and being "social," but Richard was the smart one and just wanted to eat his soup and go to bed!)

 Taaron, Jon, and Adam enjoying a story from Rosemary (Rosemary and Co Brushes)

Day three . . . coming soon.

Weekend with the Masters - Day One

The team at American Artist did a great job this year gathering a very broad range of Master artists -- from the highly-classical approach of Jacob Collins to the more abstract and painterly style of Dan McCaw. This event is a convergence of the major faces in the representational scene and should be seen as a historic moment that both brings these masters closer together, and fuels the next generation of artists.

The first day got everyone warmed up with half-day demos and lectures (saving the full-day workshops for the rest of the weekend). In the morning I watched Scott Burdick give a portrait demonstration. Scott's work is very thick and usually starts by blocking in the large shapes, he then layers ever-thicker strokes of paint as he defines and refines the details.

Around noon, Richard Schmid gave the keynote lecture, "The Adventures of Painting from Life," which was a perfect way to start off the event. Getting to view many unseen paintings, process images, and hear some good stories was proof that if artists want to accurately portray the beauty of life, they must get their inspiration and information from life itself (not a photo, or second-person account).

In the afternoon, I spent most of my time watching Rose Frantzen's portrait demo. Rose is such a dynamic teacher and had all the attendees mesmerized with her stories and amazing painting.

The evening event was a panel discussion moderated by David Leffel. The main and first topic was related to "Beauty," and it's relationship with art. The responses were a mixed bag with some saying that beauty was merely subjective while others saying that it was objective even though we apply our own subjective feelings.

Seeing that you have read this far, I guess you will stick around for my thoughts on this topic: As an artist, I have been able to take the time to observe and study the world we live in. It is very apparent to me that there is order and creativity in all things.

Just as my paintings are evidence of their creator (me), this world is evidence of it's Creator. And for all the hours I spend on deliberately laboring over a single piece of art, it is merely a glimpse or sliver of this world. Imagine the skill and awesomeness of the Creator of the entire universe!

Whether you ever see my painting or not, my painting is still here (probably in my closet) and is no more beautiful or ugly for your opinions of it. The same would be true for us and this world. If you apply your subjective ideas of beauty and ugliness on this world, it stills exist as a work of "art" just as if we were not here. As a masterful piece of art, this world is not all beautiful and vibrant objects, but a harmony of beautiful "color" and not-so-beautiful "greys". Some may say the grey is ugly, but they exist to lift-up the colors and promote them as beautiful. Yes, each human applies subjectivity to our world and self-defines what beautiful is, but think of it as a location on a pre-existing scale.

As artists, there is a world that we attempt to portray, it embodies beauty, and we try and capture a glimpse of it within our canvases. -- we are subjective creatures in an objectively beautiful world.

Back on topic . . . the panel discussion also veered of course and eventually became a battle between drawing vs. painting and highly-rendered vs. painterly -- entertaining and drama filled (which is what you want from a panel discussion I suppose).

Well, that wraps up the first day, I'll leave you with a couple Scott Burdick paintings that he brought along with him. More about the other days to come . . .

Painting in California

I headed to CA with the plans of posting throughout my time there, but the days were so packed and seemed to always end at 1:30 am or later --  so I'm going to have to catch you up throughout this week.

I spent the first four days with my artist friends (Daniel Keys, Taaron Parsons, Adam Clague, and Jon Stasko) painting on the California coast and in a local studio. This time we spent together was a wonderful experience and the five of us not only got to know each other better, but we all formed some lifelong friendships.

Some Weekend with the Masters specific posts are on the way -- it was a great event this year!

News and Painting

Some great things are happening these days -- I am pleased to announce that my work is now being represented by M Gallery in Charleston, so if you want to view (or buy:) four of my paintings, get down there and check them out. The gallery is also hosting their September show, "Strength & Grace" a one-woman show of my friend Michelle Dunaway.

Also, I will be heading to California tomorrow to help the American Artist team with the Weekend with the Masters event coming up next week. Before the event, a bunch of artists are getting together for some plein air painting and I will try my hardest to keep the blog posts coming about my adventures.

And lastly, I want to leave you with a recent painting. I had process images of this, but my old desktop died and the images went with it. I'm not sure if I'm "done" yet or what the actual title should be . . . If you have a good title, shout it out in the comments.

In the Mirror, 20x30 Oil on Linen

Free Painting Lesson from Brian Neher

Portrait artist Brian Neher has recently produced 5 instructional videos and has posted a free 50 minute lesson to "wet your palette". In the lesson, he demonstrates the foundational principles of representational painting through the painting of an apple.

You can view the whole lesson on YouTube here, or you can visit Brian's site to get the free high-res download for you to keep forever!

Brian has studied with the amazing illustrator and portrait artist Joe Bowler for more than 10 years and he's quickly becoming one of today's elite portrait artists. A look through his work will reveal a commitment to the past masters with personal touches of high-key values, pure color and natural light.

Brian's commission work is mostly painted from photo references (he uses only Black and White photos!), so for all the artists out there that work at night, or don't have access to live models, his lessons may be extra informative.

In the Garden at Richard & Nancy's

I was up in Vermont this past Saturday for a day of painting at Richard Schmid and Nancy Guizik's house. The Putney Painters all gathered in the Garden for a morning painting demo from Richard and then spent the afternoon painting in Richard's studio. Below are some of the process photos of the demo. For a wonderful write-up and full documentation of the demonstration, keep and eye out for a lesson in Katie Swatland's Learning from Richard Schmid. (it will probably be a lesson sometime in the early winter)

This is Richards initial toning. A very thinned wash of violet blue on the right and then Viridian with a bit of yellow ochre (or some other yellow/orange) below. Then Richard went right into a design statement with a slightly thicker stroke of Transparent Oxide Red and Viridian.

Richard then went right into the area of focus . . . clearing out the space he intended for the flowers with a paper towel. I don't have a shot of the garden, but he was looking at several individual plants and composing the painting by picking and choosing the ones that best fit his initial vision.

After finishing the flower, he went back into the background and added the core darks and variations of edges and shapes.

He then went into the other key flower and worked his way out.

 Here is a close-up of the first "sitting" probably 45 minutes in.

 After spending some time with the leaves and surrounding areas, it was actually getting close to lunch (we had a late start). Since he had less than an hour left, he began to make notes of the other main features to ensure he had enough information to finish the painting in the studio.

 Here is another straight-on view after he has made all his "notes"

And here is the final stage for the day. As you can see, he had some extra time and focused some more on the yellow flowers and the foliage.

On another note . . . .
Wild Flowers by Richard Schmid

Kristen Thies and her gallery West Wind Fine Art has recently moved out to Cape Cod and is having one of their first major shows at the end of this month. If your anywhere close to the area, your going to want to go to this reception. 

Dreamers by Nancy Guzik

There will be at least two Schmid paintings (plus those in Kristen's personal collection) as well as five from Nancy and a few other paintings from my friend Daniel Keys who has just recently had the privilege of being represented by Kristen.

Roses & Hydrangeas by Daniel Keys

For more info on the show visit the West Wind Fine Art site . . . if you want to keep up with the gallery, join their mailing list.

Creativity by Nancy Guzik

Allman Picture Frames

I love a good frame, and Curt Allman has been hand crafting some of the greatest frames for the greatest artists and museums for the last 16 years.

I found this wonderful article on their website. It's from an old issue of Fine Art Connoisseur and has some good information about selecting a frame and what to look for in a framer.

Nancy Guzik with co-founder Dustin Allman

Allman frames also has a pre-made "Studio Collection"  for artists if they need something fast and in a standard size. I'll warn you that the prices match the quality of the frames, but that painting of yours will look like it's worth double!

Visit their site at

Richard Schmid with Curt Allman

Snapdragons Still Life

Snapdragons, 16 x 20

I was up in Vermont a couple weeks ago, catching up with a few of the Putney Painters. I started the above still life during the day, and was able to wrapped it up a few days ago.

 Rosemary Ladd's Start

John Smith's standard still life in a drawer set-up

Close-up of Snapdragons

Summer Shore, 12 x 18

I just wrapped up this painting last night and wanted to post a few progress photos. When painting in plein air or working on studio landscapes, I usually incorporate some buildings or man-made objects. It helps me focus my attention on something strong and hard-edged and affords me the freedom of leaving the grass and foliage very loose. Not having that support in this painting was a big difference for me and makes me respect those landscape artists that do it so well.

Douglas Fryer

I love the outdoors, and painting in plein air is probably my favorite thing to do. I have always wanted to focus more time on painting landscapes, but have always felt that humanity, emotion and storytelling always speak louder through figurative pieces (plus, if you can paint an awesome portrait, chances are, you'll be able to paint a great landscape or still life too). That being said, I want to spend some time this summer and do a few landscapes, something more than just the little study that I usually do.

I have a couple favorite landscape artists, and Douglas Fryer is somewhere near the top of my list. I just saw this video produced by Marshall-LeKae Gallery in Scottsdale, and thought it was worth mentioning (the intro is weird and 1 minute long . . . just bear with it, it gets better).

You can check out more of his paintings on his blog/archive here

Some of my other favorite landscape artists are:
Scott Christensen
Dennis Sheehan
John Taft
Michael Godfrey
and many others

Who are some of your favorites?

New Painting with progress photos

I just wrapped up this painting for entry into the Salmagundi Clubs Annual Non-Member show. The source is from a Putney Painter session a couple months back, and my studies from that day were extremely helpful in keeping as much "from life" flare to this painting as possible. 

Above is my initial sketch done in pencil. Just a 15 minute placement of all the important features, making sure I had everything fitting in the canvas.

 I then went right into splashing some paint around for a loose background, and then started blocking in the head. I painted the head first in the two main values, the dark and then light side of the head, then slowly went into the details, trying to only paint what I thought was necessary.

 This is the end of the first evening of painting, probably 2:30 hours at this point

From here, I just worked my way out from the head. The photo source was very different from what I witnessed from life (you never notice this when just doing things from photos . . . when you paint something from life, and then paint the same thing from a photo, that's when you start realizing what photography robs you of). Some examples of the differences was the washed out highlights on the guitar and sofa, the varying texture of the scarf, and the color of the shirt (which in the photo was very grey, but in my studies, very purple/blue)

Here I moved into the details of the guitar and the hand (the hand is painted with only three colors/values -- the light side, the dark side, and then the middle value that can be seen in the angle shift of the fingers)

And here is the final painting
Song for Putney, 12 x 18 oil on linen mounted to board