The following passage by E.H. Gombrich was a revelation to me, maybe an epiphany. I had been looking for a way to break out of my old habits when I found this. It became the central idea of a “Self-forgiveness Theory.” It says to keep trying, modifying, and correcting -- that the eraser is the tool of more expressive realism. In almost mystical terms: trying to create perfection is impossible, but forgiving yourself and your drawings for being imperfect and constantly refining your vision is possible.

“Seen in this light, that dry psychological formula of schema and correction can tell us a good deal, not only about the essential unity between medieval and post-medieval art, but also of their vital difference. To the Middle Ages, the schema is the image, to the post-medieval artist, it is the starting point for corrections, adjustments, adaptations, the means to probe reality and to wrestle with the particular. The hallmark of the medieval artist is the firm line that testifies to the mastery of his craft. That of the post-medieval artist is not facility, which he avoids, but constant alertness. Its symptom is the sketch, or rather the many sketches which precede the finished work and, for all the skill of hand and eye of the master, a constant readiness to learn, to make and match and remake till the portrayal ceases to be a second hand formula and reflects the unique and unrepeatable experience the artist wishes to seize and hold.”

Art & Illusion: A study in Psychology of Pictorial Representation, Page 173

-- E. H. Gombrich

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Brookgreen Putto 1 (Boy with Dove)

Its the block-in with Tera Rosa. Just drawing with the paint and blocking in the values. The more I am able to work with the brush, the more I set my mind in the painting mode. I like putting the subject off center, but now - looking at the photo - I wonder if it's not too far left. It would have been easy to use some turpentine and erase this and start over.  Also, this is a good lesson on looking at the painting in a different media; before the camera, artisits used the mirror or turned the painting upside down. I consider this drawing and could have done more to block in the big background shapes. One of the ideas I'm using is: Draw from the front, paint from the back.

At this point, I am using the dark tones of the background to clean-up the drawing and make minor corrections. Now I am thinking: Paint the darks first, then pull the lights out of it.

Starting to work out the background. The photo is fuzzy, but it shows enough to compare with the next photo.

I've worked some dark into the leaves, and started adding some details.

Here is the first of the foreground ferns. I am not satisfied with the ferns. I am going to add more ferns and more color variation.

I would still like to work on the ferns some more - add a few more and add more detail in the closest ones. I'll look hard at the highlights and decide whether I need to brighten them. I might consider adding some reflected light (for color) on the statue.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Brookgreen Gardens Project

The Brookgreen Gardens Project is a continuing series of paintings and drawings that celebrate one of South Carolina's most beautiful attractions. This collection of work has accumulated over a few decades and reflects my different artistic interests. The Gardens are a special place to me, since I've been visiting them since the late 1950s, having spent several childhood years near there. Now that I have assembled it together, I hope to add many more pieces to this series in the near future. 

I am trying to add the names of the sculpture, thanks to Patricia Blackstock's identifications at The site is a good source of Statue Identifications.


Seaweed Fountain by Beatrice Fenton

Narcissus by Adolph Alexander Weinman
(Now that I've posted this photo, I am trying to convince myself and my mojo to do some more work on this watercolor. I am happy with the dappled, fawn but think the background could be darker.  The risk is the hard, surface sized paper doesnt really take heavy, rich darks. I'm going to have to be sensitive to the paper as I modify the background. -- December 27, 2014.

Joy by Karl Heinrich Gruppe

Boy and Frog by Elsie Ward Hering

Don Quixote by Anna Hyatt Huntingon, Sancho Panza by Carl Jennowein

Nymph and Fawn by Carl Jennewein

Two Kids by Oronzio Maldarelli

Seaweed Fountain byBeatrice Fenton

Sea Urchin by Edward Berge

Children with Gazelle by Anthony de Francisci

Little Lady of the Sea by Earnest Bruce Haswell

Fighting Stallions by Anna Hyatt Huntington

This piece, The Torchbearers by Anna Hyatt Hunnington,  is in front of the Chrysler Museum in Norfolk, Virginia. 



 Faun by Leo Lentelli


Wood Nynphs Series by Henry Hering

Coming: Child of Peace by Edward Fenno Hoffman III


Flute Boy by Wheeler Williams

Laughing Boy and Goat by Attilio Piccirilli

Sylvan by Chester Beach

Dionysus by Edward Francis McCartan

Dancing Goat by Albert Laessle

Pegasus by Augustus Saint-Gaudens

Coming: Faun by Leo Lentelli

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Another Barn -October 2014

I've been busy trying to finish several small paintings that accumulated over the last few years. Some needed a major make over and others just needed to be completed.  I  thought of taking photos after I was into the project. Today I started a new, small painting 

Again, I am using Terra Rosa, Ultramarine Blue and Titanium White. I block in with the Terra Rosa, a fairly non-overpowering shade, then work in the blue and end by cutting in the white. 

I've started with the background, glazed a dark, transparent, green glaze over the trees but still let some of the warmth of the underpainting to shine through. Into that thin, moist glaze I start working out the large shapes within the trees. I am using a much more opaque mixture of paint.

The red barn definitely gives the painting focus. I like the tree to the left, but feel that I've lost some of the freshness of the other trees. If I had gained that wonderful myriad of life and nature I wouldn't care, but now I need some work.

Friday, September 19, 2014

September 2014 Class Demonstration

 This is the under-painting, the block in. It was painted primarily with Tera Rosa. I added Cobalt Blue to help define the shadows and finally white with a touch of Thalo Blue. The challenge to the students is to start thinking more with their brushed and less with the pencil. Its quicker, easier to erase and starts the creative juices. The next step will be next class 

More to come

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Making a Shipping Crate for Large Artwork

Building A Shipping Crate
 for a Large Painting
The framed painting that I am shipping is 3' x 4', so I will be able to use full sheets of plywood (4' x 8'). My crate needs enough room for cushioning
Shopping List:
  • 2 - sheets of 1/4" plywood (cut to crate size 56" x 44". Some hardware stores will do these cuts for you.) For all your wood products use smooth finished surfaces. -- nobody wants a splinter. Avoid composite boards, but look for lightweight. I used under-layment and it was very smooth.
  • 2 - Sheets of 5' x 8' foam insulation
  • 2 - 1" x 4" 8' wood planks(2cut to 44" and 2 cut to 54.5". (AS I build the edges of the box, rather than 56", I have to adjust for the 3?4" thickness of the 1" x 4".
  • 2 - Door Pulls
  • 4 - 1'' bolts with nuts and locking washer
  • 1 box of 5/8" or larger flat head wood screws 60+ count
  • 8 - 2" flat head wood screws
  • Carpenters glue
  • 4 - Corner braces (When I finished this crate, I was happy with the firmness of the project and didn't use the corners. When I have used them, I put them on the inside corners, so that they would not scratch any floors' however you must put a lot of packing between them and your painting's frame, )

Here is my plan, pretty simple. Inside dimensions are big enough to accommodate my 3' x 4' painting plus the frame and some packing materials around the edge. On the top you can see where I am thinking about putting the handles. 

I put my short edge on the outside and the long on the inside, as I like to open the box by taking off the front. I set the screws half of  the width of the boards, 3/8". I drill to pilot holes into the front board using a drill bit slightly smaller than the 2" wood flat head screws. Use corner clamps if you have them, it makes it a lot easier.  

On the bottom sheet (44" x 56" piece of plywood), I mark of 3/8" from the edge and every 8"-12" mark where I will screw it into the edge.

I use a small drill bit and drill pilot holes for the screws but only through the plywood. I run a bead of wood glue along the edge and then clamp the back to the edge.  

I used this screws to secure the back to the edges and will repeat the process for the front later on, but will not use the glue.
I added the door handles. I marked where I wanted them to go, then drilled holes large enough to put bolts (instead of the provided screws)  On the back I put locking washer and bolts. I don't want the handles to come off. I think the courtesy of the handles encourages more gentle handling.  Make sure to put plenty of insulation between the bolts end and your painting's frame.
Once the back is on, I put a sheet of the foam insulation on the bottom and cut strips of insulation on the edges. Then I lined everything with bubble wrap. Finally I gently laid the painting into the assembly. This photo shows a lot of wiggle room. Be sure that everything is snug.

I  laid sheets of glassine over the surface of the painting. I taped the pieces together, but only on the outside surface. I added another layer of bubble wrap and the final top layer of insulation.

Without using the glue, secure the top in the same way as the bottom. With power drills and screwdrivers, I like having the front removal, rather than one of the edges. To me it just seems easier to get to the painting. I write on the front (top panel). open this side.
I've used FED-EX for shipping. They are expensive, for my budget, but everything has always gotten there safely.