August 2009, 14″ x 18″, acrylic on hardboard


I ended up painting a total of three “packaging” paintings in a whirlwind of activity- at least for me.  Over the course of  a week or so, while still on paternity leave, I found the time and a remarkable amount of energy to sit down and paint.  I say remarkable because, as expected, I was pretty sleep deprived with baby duties.  Perhaps that challenge was what I needed- I knew I had a small finite window between feedings, maybe 2 hours, and I needed to paint as quickly as possible, including clean-up time.

I stuck with the complementary two color approach of the first painting in the series, this time with green and red.  It is a little hard to remember, but this painting was completed in about 2 hours or so.  First, I quickly outlined the object very loosely with cadmium red paint straight from the tube.  After this, I basically painted a monochromatic underpainting all in red, still very quickly, like in 10 minutes or so.  Then I introduced a new layer of green on top.  Finally, the picture was refined with a little more precision and a mixture of white and blue to achieve the hues I was looking for.

This method of layering was eye-opening for me.  I have a tremendous amount of experience in different media, especially charcoal and pastel, and this just isn’t a method I used in the past.  The great thing about acrylics is how quickly they dry, allowing for this quick layering of paint.  The harder part is painting quickly enough, with enough paint, during that small window when the paints can be mixed together on the canvas.  By mixing the two complementary colors a wide spectrum of grey tones can be achieved and this contrast between the mixed areas and the bold underpainting is what I most like about this painting.


July 2009, 14″ x 18″, acrylic on hardboard

Packaging #1

Back to a more representational painting.  Compared to Bath #2, I have made good progress.  Not that Bath #2 is a bad painting, but this is closer to the loose and quick quality I have been striving for.  I needed a good pick me up, something quick that I could be happy with.  Fortunately, this still-life was the answer.  I have a lot of junk lying around my house, boxes, packaging etcetera, detritus from gifts to the baby.  This cardboard piece, part of packaging for a high chair I believe, was really interesting to me so I painted it.

Using a monochrome pallete of just a few colors I knocked this one out in less than an hour.  I outlined the whole picture first and then colored in the shapes, a different technique than I normally use.  Usually I block out large swaths of color and gradually refine down to the details.  After this success I have decided to paint a few more still-lifes.  There isn’t any big theme here, just something I find architecturally interesting and would like to explore further.  I like that it is an unfamiliar object that does not carry any inherent meaning.  It is scaleless

This has gotten me thinking about the enormous amount of waste and junk that I create.  Especially after the birth of my child, there is always a pile of debris sitting in my dining room waiting to be thrown away or recycled.  The idea of creating art out of waste intrigues me and something I will think about further.

Chinatown #1


July 2009, 14″ x 18″, acrylic on hardboard

China Town #1

So I had a little extra time on my hands following the birth of my son.  Just a little, but as things slowed down at home and everyone got into a routine I found time to paint.  New baby, new start.  Anyway, this is another example of a painting that I basically stopped working on because I really started to dislike it, but as I look at it now, maybe it isn’t so bad.

I reduced a photo I had taken in San Francisco down to its basic geometry and actually drew a hardline outline of the composition on the board before painting began.  This differs from how I normally paint, which is without any kind of drawing beforehand.  Most paintings I begin with by selecting one of two colors and loosely blocking out the major outlines with a brush.  On a few others, I have added pencil lines in the middle of the process.

I think my previous paintings have been at times too blurry so the pencil lines and the solid blocks of color were an attempt to get away from this perceived blurriness.  While it is less blurry I lost the fun loose feeling I normally have when painting, it just got laborious.  I am satisfied with the colors, though.  A different palette than my paintings normally have.

June 2009, 18″ x 24″, acrylic on hardboard


I made the leap to a larger size as I mentioned from the previous post.  The composition is very similar to one of the previous paintings in the juxtaposition series.  It was good to work at a larger scale; I did feel freer to experiment with broader, looser brush strokes.  On the downside, working on a larger support (with gallery edges, Oh!) made me more self-conscious of trying to paint something nice.  I really am a cheapskate…

Consequently, I spent more time on this painting than I typically do, perhaps as much as 7-8 hours over several sittings.  At a certain point I realized I was getting bogged down in the minute details of this work and I simply stopped.  Immediately after ceasing to paint I felt defeated and underwhelmed with the end result, but after returning to the painting a week or so later I was much happier with the painting.  This is not a unique situation for me; it is initially very difficult for me to objectively judge a work.  It is sometimes best to view one’s work after a brief separation period to more clearly and truthfully judge a painting.

Enough with these juxtapositions, on to something entirely different!

June 2008, 10″ x 10″ acrylic on hardboard


Long time since I posted, but I have a pretty good excuse; I have been busy preparing for and celebrating the birth of my first child, Elliott.  This painting was completed about a month ago before things got really hectic.  It is the last of the 10 inch square paintings.  I felt after this it was time to try something different and larger to see how canvas size effects my work.

When I initially completed this painting I was extremely unsatisfied.  Perhaps I was just sick of revisiting the same theme.  I feel I was stuck in a rut and I was no longer improving.  This is what prompted my decision to go bigger and hope for a breakthrough.

Looking back at the painting now, I am not nearly as disappointed with the results.  While many things about it still bother me, such as the overall blurriness, the subtlety of color and depth in some areas seems pretty good.

June 2009, 10″ x 10″ acrylic on hardboard


Tried something a little more muted in color.  The application of paint on this one is very thin and watery.  Maybe just lots and lots of medium.  The composition is interesting to me, but the paint is just dull.  In the past limiting my color palette has been a key to creating a good painting, but not so much this time.  On the plus side, I feel like I am getting back into the groove, making a concerted effort to sit down at the easel and produce.  I have to remind myself that my number one goal at this point is to just make stuff.  It is more about process than results.  Dwelling too much on the final product is a recipe for disaster.

June 2009, 10″ x 10″ acrylic on hardboard


I have been struggling to find time to paint recently, I am in the final stages of renovating my bathroom as well as preparing the house for my first child.  It is rather hectic around here as of late and painting pictures has taken a back seat to painting walls.

This was the tale of two paintings.  I began it about a month ago and then neglected it until finally completing it last week.  At a certain point, I just wanted this done.  I had begun to get overly absorbed in the minute detail of the painting; check out the lower right center.  Realizing this was putting me on a path that would require many sittings to complete, I put down the small brush and went back to my trusty #12 filbert.  Ironically, that is the area of the painting I most enjoy viewing, but based on how difficult it has been recently to find time to paint I think it was the right decision.

These juxtapositions really are dynamic, but I need to find a way to clarify the theme of urban vs. suburban.  If one knows what to look for, clues can be found, but to the casual observer there is no way to know what’s going on.  I tried a smaller scene than in Juxtaposition #1 to eliminate some of the detail, obscuring the theme further.  I face a quandary, in order to “get it” the observer needs more information, but as a painter I want to abstract the scene.  Perhaps the answer is just to spend more time on each painting, but I need to avoid getting bogged down at all costs.  This just leads to a lack of momentum, painting becomes drudgery and I lose all motivation to continue.