Painting in progress, April 30, 2012

Eventually, these two canvases will be a pair, each with two Blue Jays and a decorative band of 22k gold around the white design. In the spirit of my new series of birds with creepy crawly bugs and such, I would love suggestions on what insect to add. No spectacular ideas on the matter have struck me yet.

Anna’s Hummingbirds on Green

Anna's Hummingbirds on Green
24″x30″ acrylic, oil and 22k gold on canvas
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This painting was a labor of love. I thought my mind was playing a trick on me when 2 hours had passed while painting the first hummingbird (all whopping 4″ inches of it). Then I did the next one and realized that it actually does take me that long to paint all of those feathers and tiny features. By the time I got to the bees and wasps, I was seriously considering investing in one of those headband binocular magnifying glasses. I’ve also found that traditional long oil brushes are not conducive to painting this close up unless you want a brush handle to the eyeball. I’ve picked up some new shorter watercolor brushes to minimize this occupational hazard. So far, so good.

Opal-rumped Tanager on Yellow

Yellow painting, blue bird

8″x10″ acrylic, oil and gold on canvas
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Eagle Owl on Purple

Eagle Owl on Purple

30″x40″ acrylic, oil and 22k gold on canvas
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I’m happy to report that after hours of tediously painting minute details of feathers and carefully placing an intricate gold leaf design wider than tire, I’m finished with this latest painting in my new textile series. Here are a few lessons I learned while working on this canvas:

  • Eagle Owls are enormous, slightly frightening birds, and seem especially so when I’m painting one to scale.
  • It is incredibly difficult to see where I’ve painted gold leaf size (the clear “glue” that makes the gold stick to the canvas), which is why I calculated spending 7 hours alone on that portion of the painting.
  • Gold leaf sticks to…well, everything. And it seems strange and intuitively wrong to clean up the remaining useless flakes with a dust-buster.

Now I’m onto several smaller canvases that will be much quicker to finish. After that however, I have 2 monster canvases ready to be adorned with paint and gold. One day at a time.

Painting in progress, January 16, 2012

Kind of creepy, isn’t it? Wait until I add the Banded Garden Spider.

2012: A year of artistic reinvention

blue textile painting with blue bird and beetles
22″ x 30″ acrylic, oil and 22k gold on canvas
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For about 10 years I have been painting traditional landscapes, cityscapes and portraits (both of sitters with two and four legs). While I look forward to continuing on that path, I have concocted a new painting process and aesthetic in my work that combines all the textile and design patterns I have been hoarding and my formal training as an illustrator. Expect to see some edgy creepy-crawly subject matter mixed with feminine print designs. My favorite added element to these new paintings is gold leaf applied over hand-drawn delicate lace-like patterns.

It seems fitting to mark the beginning of my second decade of painting with a brand new style of work, which is also very motivating as I think about preparing for a show this year. A percent of my sales will continue to be donated to charity as that component of my work has certainly been the thrust of the first five years of content on this website. With that said, I would love to hear suggestions of Pittsburgh charities I might consider. Feedback on the paintings themselves would also be greatly appreciated!

Painting in progress, December 21, 2011

My early attempts of applying gold leaf to my latest paintings is off to a great start. Even though, as you can see in this video, the gold is incredibly fragile. A mere sigh sends it flying into the air. It can’t really be picked up, moved or manipulated directly by hand. Instead, a fine brush loaded with static cling (called a gliders tip) gently attaches itself to the gold so the latter can be moved to the desired spot. It feels good to have a new process to master. This is certainly not like pushing paint around on a canvas.

Painting in progress, December 2, 2011

My studio is beginning to look like the inside of a wallpaper sample book. Thumbnail photos of print designs are accumulating on the walls to inspire a new series of paintings I’m experimenting with. The next layer on this canvas will be realistic oil painting of birds and insects. I’ve posted a glimpse of another such painting that’s nearly completed. I think for this one I will be adding Anna’s humming birds, bees and wasps. Then, the final layer will be a little accent in gold leaf of a lace design. That will all make sense when I have a finished product to post.

Painting in progress, November 9, 2011

Painting in progress, November 5, 2011

I’m trying something new: gold leaf. After anxiously waiting for the glue that sticks the gold to the canvas to set, I successfully managed to apply a delicate design over this painting. I have to give credit to French Master Gilder, Joseph Youss Kadri, who has adorned wall and sculptures with gold in places as prestigious and the Louvre. He graciously gave me some tips in advance of today’s attempt. Thank goodness. I’m not sure I would have figured it out on my own on the first try without creating a messy disaster. The finished product will be up soon.