Issuing the Call

Issuing the Call
Issuing the Call

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Art Prints

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Sacrament Meeting Notes

It's time for another edition from my "Sacrament Meeting Notes".  I drew each one of these drawing in about 40 min.  The ideas for them I usually come up with just before I draw them or they maybe apart of a series of similar drawings all growing from the previous one. 


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Behind the Scenes look at Grandma's Blueberry Jam

I want to start by sharing the story about how this project came to be. I had been feeling a bit weak in my tonal range and depth of view in my paintings, when I came across an article excerpt in the June 2008 magazine American Artist, titled “Classical Painting Ateliers : A contemporary guide to traditional studio practice” by Juliette Aristides (‘ateliers’ is French for ‘workshop’). One of the exercises discussed about was about tone. I decided to try this exercise to see if tone was indeed my problem.

The first question always seems to be ‘what to paint?’ I knew I wanted to do a still-life painting after the classical style. I kept my eyes open for subject ideas. One day I was looking at posts of my various friends on Facebook. One of my friend’s had commented on a photograph of some blueberry jam that her sister had made. Looking at that photo, I knew what I wanted to paint: a bottle of blueberry jam, with a some blueberries scattered about and a few orange slices for color contrast and that pop of vitality.

I spent an afternoon gathering my parts. I borrowed a glass jar from my mother as well as some gingham for the cover, bought some fruit from the market, and some raffia from the local craft store. After arranging the rough idea in my head, I laid out a few simple, quick thumbnail sketches, and took a picture to have something to show here. At this point I’m just getting my layout arranged, Golden Mean set up, eye line and so on, nothing very drastic.

I decided to paint this on a canvas board of standard size, 11 x 14, mostly because that is what I had laying around. I started by doing a rough pencil lay-in. As you can see faded in the background, I moved the jar over more to the right. I found I didn’t like the edge right up against the main vertical Golden Mean, thus placing the body of the jam bottle too close to the middle of the painting. So, I redrew it with the body of the jar centered on the main Golden Mean line. All the various angles and measurements are based off of that Golden Mean in one way or another. Another picture taken.

Using a sienna brown colored pencil, I drew in the final drawing. It is interesting to mention here that I prefer to use a cheap, Crayola brown colored pencil for this stage of the painting. I have found it to be of better quality than the more expensive, “high-end” art pencils (which I will refer to as the ‘others’) in that the lead in the cheap Crayolas are more complete and not shattered every few inches as the others tend to be. Also, the others tend to crumble under the slightest pressure of drawing. I think it also fair to mention that one of the other colored pencils costs as much or more than an entire Crayola 12 pack of colored pencils. Alas, Crayola is also not without its cons. The biggest problem with the Crayola colored pencil pack in my opinion is that they only sell them in color sets – one of each color, and I only want one color, the brown one. So, either I deal with the more emotional other pencil or I have a studio filled with every color of Crayola except brown. I have contacted Crayola about buying just a case of browns, but so far they have told me that they no longer offer single color bulk purchases. So depending on my mood I’ll either add another ‘11’ to the pile, or crumble my way through another brand. For this painting I chose to crumble my way through it with a Prismacolor. Photo taken.

Finally I get to add some paint. First comes the under painting. As per the direction of the article when you do this step you paint straight out of the tube, with no use of medium to thin the paint down. I always do an under painting on all my paintings (well almost always, the exception is when I paint on paper). On most of my paintings I will use a rag and scrub in a greatly thinned down unifying paint color (Burnt Sienna). Then I’ll go in with Burnt Umber and put in my darkest area, and use the reductive technique for my lightest area. With this particular painting, I used Raw Umber straight from the tube onto the canvas using a large, soft, one inch #12 flat brush. Then, using various brushes and a rag, I employed the reductive method to create the tonal under paint image. The reductive method I prefer involves using Mineral Spirits to wipe out the thickly applied Raw Umber paint to create the various tones (lights and darks) I’m looking for. Another photo.

Once the under painting stage is fully dry to the touch, I then start applying the local colors in thin, transparent layers, letting the under-painting come through. I’ve been experimenting with thin layers of paint (called Glazing) since the start of my painting career, but it wasn’t until I read a book written by Leonardo Di Vinci, that I felt I really mastered it. This book was originally written by Di Vinci in Italian and later translated into what may have been some older form of English (lots of fun, once I learned with help from my wife, that what looked like a single letter, could indeed be either “F, P or S”, and they apparently hadn’t invented punctuation yet, giving the appearance of one giant run-on sentence). Besides trying to make sense of the “spelling”, the biggest problem with the book, was that Di Vinci would reference other books to better understand concepts he was talking about, only they hadn’t been written.

After the local color lay-in and before the paint is dry, I’ll use a more Western Wet-on-wet technique to finish off the rest of the painting. Last photo.

After completing this painting, I don’t think that tones are really my main problem on my larger paintings, but rather it might be more the color temperature. So, I’m putting together another Atelier exercise, and this time I think I will do something around peaches, probably with a French country theme. I don’t yet know exactly how I will bring them all together, it just seems to warm my heart as I think about it. I’m also a sucker for Florentine and rococo designs (these themes are almost always somewhere in my fantasy paintings). A note in closing, I was originally going to go with peaches in this first experiment, but the photograph of the Blueberry jam formed an idea so strongly in my mind that I chose to go with that instead.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Children's Picture Book

Well, it’s finally time to do another fantasy painting. I can only hold it off for so long. As I’ve mentioned in the past, people love my fantasy art, but they just always sure what to do with it. So I’ve decided to try something that is new for me. I want to paint a children’s picture book, but with a twist. I don’t want to spoil it so early in the game, so you will have to wait and see how the project develops.

Even though this project is “fantasy” in nature, I still like to paint from models – even if it is only for reference. With that, I come to what I need help with – finding models. First and foremost, I take the safety of your children very seriously, so let me be very clear that ANY submission of photographs must be provided with consent of the parent or legal guardian. I don’t want any parents or other concerned persons to have any doubt about the legitimacy of what I’m doing, so any questions will be welcome. I’m looking for children to be stand in models for the main characters. In the past I’ve either worked with kids from my neighborhood, family or friend’s kids, or worked through friends to find models. Norman Rockwell use to do it that way too. I’m always looking to expand the pool of model choices.

What I’m looking for on this particular project, are children between the ages of 8-10, three boys and one girl. My usual method is to come over to the home of the children and do the photos shoot there so their parents can be involved, however, I’m willing to work with the parents on what they feel most comfortable with. The first boy will need to have a suit (preferably a dark suit), white long sleeve shirt, tie (not zip or clip), belt and dress shoes and dark socks. The second boy will need “classic” style, two piece pajamas with a button up top. The third boy will need to wear a Cub Scout shirt and a ball cap. Finally the girl will need to wear a long dress (preferably with lots of frills).

Again, for the safety of the children and for me, I will only work through the parent or legal guardian of the children; I will never contact your child directly. If you are interested in allowing your child or children to be a part of this project or if you know of someone who would be interested, please email me a head shot (like a school photo or family photo) of your child or children, along with contact information (phone or email, whichever you would prefer) and we’ll go from there. Any questions can be addressed by email to

Below are some sample drawings of each of the characters from the book.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Tea with the Ogres

“Tea with the Ogres” is finally finished and scanned. This painting has taken me years to complete. The original photo shoots took place clear back in 2008. I had just been picked up by a large international gallery and they encouraged me to paint bigger than what I was doing at the time. I painted this on a canvas 48 inches high and 60 inches wide. That’s four feet by five feet. It is almost as big as my wife is tall. After I discussed the idea of the painting with the gallery, which they liked, I started to paint. I was about two thirds of the way through the painting, when the gallery owner contacted me and told me they didn’t like where I was going with it. They said it wasn’t scary enough and the Ogres looked like “good Mormon boys in bad Halloween costumes”. So it was back to the drawing board. I took additional pictures of a good friend of mine to help add to the Ogres. I took pictures of a second little girl and made a composite of both girls. With these adjustments I was able to come up with the refined concept that had all the elements both the gallery and I were looking for. I got a new canvas and set to work. After getting about half way through the new painting, I just ran out of gas. It sat unfinished in my living room for months. In the mean time, I painted a commission piece of the Salt Lake Temple. When the gallery saw this painting, they decided they wanted to take my art in a completely different direction, more LDS temples. As a result, this painting was pretty much shelved without completion. Months passed, and I would occasionally think about it. Then, last summer, when I had a break between commissions and with a lot of encouragement from my wife, I was able to sit down and finally finish the painting.
The next big problem was scanning it. I hate scanning, and the last time I scanned a painting this size I had plenty of room, a more powerful computer and a completely different scanning setup. Now my scanner is better, and I have things set up differently, both of which contribute to an easier scanning experience. The downside is that my computer is less powerful and my studio has lot less room. So I kept putting it off. It wasn’t until a year later that I had built up enough desire to scan it and figure out just how I was going to go about it. It took over 50 individual scans. It took me three days to scan and an additional 2 days just to piece them together as well as deal with some unexpected challenges. But, I am very happy to report that it is finished and uploaded to my print website.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Too Creative?

Now that I have some down time while waiting for some collectors to decide on what they want, I thought maybe I could do a fantasy painting. More specifically a western fantasy painting with a steampunk twist. The problem with this is that collectors don’t buy my fantasy art. They tell me they just don’t know what to do with it. I remember one gallery, as they were rejecting my work, telling me that I was “too creative”.

The interesting thing is Kids of all ages, both boys and girls love my art. When one of my fantasy paintings was hanging in an art gallery, a little girl came with her mother. While her mother was there for over an hour on business, she spent the entire time completely drawn into one of my paintings. I love having kids tell me what they think is going on. They have no inhibitions. They know immediately. Their imaginations fire up and they are off telling me a story. Teenagers also are drawn to my work, even though they are less willing to venture a story. Of the adults, men seem to be the most receptive. While there are a number of women that have expressed appreciation of my art, it is difficult for me to tell if they truly enjoy it, or if they are just trying not to hurt my feelings. Since most collectors are women, I find myself trying to understand what it is they truly value. All of the collectors of my religious art happen to be women and I am very grateful to them. They love my religious work. They give me a lot of freedom to do paintings as I see them. They are patient with me and willing to work with me and I love working with them too. They have great ideas and such strong feelings and faith. And from time to time they think about buying one of my fantasy paintings, but once again what do they do with it?... I had someone once suggest that my work would be perfect for a coffee table book, something that can be viewed and displayed without it being overbearing. I would love to be able to see how popular this would be, but unfortunately, that is an experiment for the future.

So when I decide to do a fantasy painting, I do it knowing it will most likely never see the light of day. I’ve been told on hundreds of occasions that I’m just too creative. I don’t know entirely what “too creative” means, if there even IS such a thing. So the dank, dark basement will be its home. But, for a short time at least, I’ll get some enjoyment out of it. Well, back to the religious paintings (which I also love and enjoy), until once again I get that itch…