Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Slowly but surely...

It doesn't not look like much has happened in the last week or so, but I've been hard at it.  Anyhow, hope to wrap this up in 2 weeks.  17 shopping days left...Season's Greetings!  Mark

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Stanford foothills and Hoover Tower

Hello, and a slightly belated Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!  I've been inactive on this blog for a little over a month now because I was doing a painting I'm not able to publish.  It's a Christmas present I was asked to do and can't spoil the surprise by posting it.  It's at the framer now, so after Christmas I'll put it on.  In the mean time I'm painting a local scene.  Hoover Tower at Stanford, photographed from the "Dish" trail.
Back shortly with progress report.  Happy shopping!  Mark

Sunday, October 23, 2011

St. Andrews and the Swilcan Bridge

Well it took a little longer than I expected, but it's a wrap.  This was an exercise in patience and a steady hand.  Lots of delicate lines and a rock bridge that was the main attraction.  I'm going to have Giclee prints made of this painting.  I'll post the comparison when I get them back in a few weeks.

I'm off to the Federal Duck Stamp Competition judging at the end of this week.  I'll post the outcome next week.  Thanks for checking in.
Cheers!  Mark

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

St. Andrews, Scotland

Time for a golf painting.  In May 2010, I joined 23 fellow golfers for some golf competition at the home of golf.  Over the next 6 months I am going to do a series of paintings from that trip.  To kick things off I'm doing a painting of the 18th fairway at The Old Course, St. Andrews Links.  The following photos are 2 closeups from this painting.  Top photo is the Rusacks Hotel and street scene, the bottom photo is the Clubhouse of the R & A.  The foreground will have the most famous bridge in golf, "the Swilcan Bridge".  The finished work should be complete in about 7-10 days.  The size of the painting is approx. 20x30 inches.
Thanks for checking in - Mark

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Amazonian Gem!

And there's your American Purple my opinion, a serious contender for best in show!  The colors, the regal look.  What a joy to find this bird in the Ecuadorian Amazon.  Sweet.
Not sure what's next...I  head to Yosemite in another week...maybe a landscape.  See you in a couple of weeks.  Mark

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Background just about complete

Tomorrow I'll finish the background and begin the Gallinule.  Back in a week or so with a finished painting!

Monday, August 22, 2011

American Purple Gallinule

Who knows what an American Purple Gallinule is?  Wait for it....a bird.  So yes, yet one more bird painting is underway.  From Elke's and my travels to Ecuador this summer we returned with some pictures of a pretty cool bird we saw up close in the Ecuadorean Amazon.  The APG is a bird that is found in southeast United States and as far south as Central and South America.  Neither of us had ever seen this bird before.  And what a great bird it is.  About the size of a chicken, the APG is found in swamps, ponds, and lagoons.  It's feet and legs oversized for its body and are perfect for standing on large lily pads and water vegetation.  Its feathers are a beautiful blue, green, aqua blend.  And its beak, well, its a big candy corn of striped white, orange, and yellow.
Today I layed out the painting, and blocked in the initial background colors.  I'll return in a few days with the background hopefully pretty much intact. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

Canal Complete

Venice canal is finished.  The Aquabord surface worked well - I'm going to continue using for future work.  The painting size is 24 x 18.  I'm not sure what is next - possibly a bird I photographed in Ecuador last month...stay tuned.  Happy late summer! 

Saturday, July 16, 2011


Back from vacation and on to a new creation.  This next painting is a canal photo from a trip to Venice.  I like the earth tones - the tans, grays, greens.  And once again I'm going to use Aquabord as my surface.  I enjoyed painting on this when I did the mallard, and now I am eager to see how this will look framed.  As a reminder, upon completion of painting on the Aquabord surface, I spray a sealant over the painting and it becomes permanent.  No need from matting and glass.

Stay tuned - I'll be back shortly with an update.  Happy Summer!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Duck is done....moving on.

The mallard duck painting is complete.  You'll find the result below, and in my previous blog a few photos of the painting as it progressed.  You'll note that I dramatically changed the background.  I'm going to to go ahead and enter this painting in the Federal Duck Stamp competition.  When I began the painting I wasn't sure if this was going to be practice or a possible entry.  It's an entry...I'm a bit tired of ducks right now.

This was a great project though, for a couple of reasons.  One this is the smallest painting I've ever done 7" X 10", the mandatory size for the federal competition.  And two, this is the first painting I've done on masonite board.  It was a different experience from painting on watercolor board, but I liked it a lot, so I'm likely to continue with this surface.

Well, I'm not sure what's up next for my paint by numbers...stay tuned and I'll soon have an answer...

Thanks for checking in,


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Back in the saddle

The damaged duck stamp painting is safely behind me...I'm good to go!  So, for the past few weeks I've been doing some experimenting.  For awhile I've been curious about painting with acrylics, and recently I've come across some new (to me) surfaces for my watercolor painting.  So that's what Ive been up to.  I spent some time working in acrylics, and decided for now that that's not my strength.  Do what I do best, so keep with the watercolors.  I did though find a new panel to paint on.  All my previous watercolor painting has been done on watercolor board.  Like cardboard, but nicer.  Well I found a masonite board specifically coated to accept watercolor paint.  Very interesting stuff.  This panel has its pluses and minuses as compared to what I've painted on previously so I decided I need to do a complete painting to see how it goes.

Since it was recommended to me that I should display the different stages of one of my paintings that is what you will find in this blog entry.  The subject matter is yet another duck.  Just so happens the Federal Duck stamp competition is slated for August, and one of the qualifying species is the mallard.  With that in mind I did some photography a few months ago for duck subjects as well as background material.  The duck for this painting is actually a photo of a mallard that Elke took on a vacation from last year.  I am not intending for this painting to be an entry (I have questions about the composition), but more as practice and experimentation with the new masonite panel, and the size of the painting.  The dimensions for the Federal competition are fixed at 7 inches by 10 inches.  Remember, the winning entry has to be reduced down to the size of a duck stamp, so paintings can't be 18x24 - a typical size for my art.

A few days ago I started this painting:
I start by projecting the images on my panel.  I do not freehand the drawing, because I can't afford to make erasures.  When you erase you scuff the board or panel which changes the way it absorbs and blends.
I then block in some background colors, and begin fine-tuning.  When I start painting details I generally begin with whatever is in the rear, meaning if something is going to be overlapped it has to be painted first.  In this case as in most the top of the painting goes first.  I went ahead and did some work on the ducks head, because nothing is in front of it, and I like to look at it while working around it.  The body will be the very last, since it sits on top of all the background.
I said I would paint the body last - oops, I fibbed.  Well, I was painting the rocks and the bank and I got restless.  So, since not much is in the way of the body I went ahead yesterday and started in.  I'm going to finish the body then go back and finish the rocks he is standing on then finish with the grass on the left.
I'll be back in a few days to update.


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Highs and Lows


Well, I guess if someone is going to do a blog, they have to talk about the lows as well as the highs.  So, my latest “paint by numbers” has ended in failure.  After about 6 six weeks devoted to a duck painting, this morning I trashed it.  I saw this coming for the last two days and today I admitted to myself I had applied some paint earlier in the week that was fatal.  No fixing it.  Darn!

The painting in question was a piece I was doing to submit in the California state duck stamp competition.  For those not familiar with duck stamp competitions, in a nut shell many states, as well as the federal government run annual art competitions to select an entry to be that years artwork for the stamps that are issued for duck hunting licenses.  See: the funds generated by duck stamps go to water fowl related conservation projects.

For me duck stamp competitions have been in the back of my mind for about 10 years.  I’ve been interested in participating, but until now I didn’t have the time to commit to the photography, the research, and the months necessary to produce a quality painting.  What you need to know about duck stamp competitions is that they draw the absolute best wildlife, and water fowl artists in the United States.  The artwork is absolutely exceptional in composition and technique.  So, if you’re going to submit an entry it can’t be just really good, it has to be perfect. 

What went wrong this week?  I messed up the reflection of the male duck on the water.  I was probably within 20 hours of completion.  I had painted the upper background, the male and female ducks, and most of the female ducks reflection on the water.  I still had water behind the ducks to paint as well as the reflection beneath the male duck.  I went too dark on the male’s reflection.  When you paint with watercolor, that’s a no-no.  You can only lift off so much pigment before you risk damaging the board.  This is probably more than you care to know, but hey…therapy, it’s either talking through this or the hard stuff…and I don’t do hard stuff.  So, if you damage the texture of the board you change the way paint adheres, meaning it doesn’t blend properly.  This is one reason Watercolor painting is technically difficult.  With acrylic and oil paints to a certain degree you can paint over errors and redo.

This photo of the painting was taken on my cell phone about a week ago. 

Virtually  all duck stamp artwork submitted in competitions are acrylic compositions.  I may have to go there…I can’t be rounding 3rd base on my way to home and trip up and nose plant 4 feet in front of the plate as I did this week.

Since artwork for California’s stamp competition is due April 30, I am out of luck for this year – not enough time to generate a new one and frankly I was too close to completion to find the energy.
Thanks for checking in, I’ll be updating with whatever my next project will be.  Also, it’s been suggested that I include “in progress” photos so you can see how a painting goes from layout to signature.

I’ll do that next.

Cheers, mark

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Paint By Numbers

Sometimes when I'm in the groove that's how it exactly feels...a little red here, a little blue there, oh yea number 5 again back to the red.

So, after 25 years of selling houses and managing those who do I have put that behind me - yes!!!!!  I am now turning my attention to that which I do best, paint.  This blog is created to document and communicate what's now happening at my drawing table.

This new phase in my life started about a year ago.  I'll spare the boring details of how that transition came about, let's just say I woke up one day and decided I needed to paint before it was too late.  So, that's what I've been doing.  I furiously painted over the summer and fall of 2010 trying to accomplish personally important paintings for my wife and two kids.

The results are the following:  after a trip with my wife Elke and daughter Megan to Scotland and the Cotswalds in May 2010, I painted a fruit stand / wine store for Megan  (if you know Megan she loves all things Englandy)

Then after a trip to Italy in September with my son Mitchell he wanted a memory of Cinque Terre - Vernazza
Finally, and probably most importantly, Elke took a picture of a pelican about 10 years ago down at Moss Landing.  She always wanted me to paint it, but I just wasn't motivated...well get motivated!  Which I did just in time for Christmas
Those 3 paintings represented about 16 weeks of non-stop work...16 weeks of pure joy!

So, currently I am painting ducks!  I'll be back soon to update the results and display some more "paint by numbers".

If you've been putting off a trip, a hobby, a project, a talent, a class that you just can't get out of your head...go for it!  and let me know about it...what's your "paint by numbers" desire?