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

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Tonal Studies: Matrix

Dark Matrix: media values join with darks

Light Matrix: Medium values join with lights

Here's another tonal exercise. 

Friday, November 13, 2015

Value exercise


This is one of my favorite Brookgreen Gardens' statues and one of my favorite exercises. Choosing two values for the subject and one for the background (i.e.: light and dark subject against a medium background) is great way to reconsider the value structure of a scene before you paint it.  

Which one do you like best? Different people are attracted to different examples. I tend to like the dark backgrounds. I see them as dramatic but some think they are depressing. That's art! 

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