Sunday, December 18, 2011

Palm Springs Series

Despite the hectic season, I was able to complete a new work this past week. Last Sunday I held a studio session with a young middle school student who is completing a mentorship project with me. While she worked on a still-life in acrylics, I painted in oils nearby. At first I was going to simply "scribble" something from my memory, but I decided to paint over an older canvas and use an image from my recent trip to Palm Springs, California as a basis. I expected it to be a simple study, but as I worked the canvas came together well and so I decided to take it more seriously and completed what might be the first painting in a new "Palm Springs Series." What I like about it is the looseness of paint strokes and the vibrant, bright colors - very different from the more somber, dark paintings I've been working on for the last two years. We'll see where this goes.

"Swiss Miss." Oil on stretched canvas, 18 x 24 inches. Completed December 2011.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Gearing up for the Holiday

It's a busy time of year...too busy to devote much time to the studio, I'm afraid. Last month I completed a commissioned piece that I will post an image of soon. I am also mentoring a young middle school student who is completing a class project that requires her to shadow a professional. I was honored to be selected as her mentor for the project. We will be working together tomorrow in my studio. Other than these activities, it will likely be quiet until the first of the new year. A quiet workload doesn't mean that the thought process is on break, and I have lots of ideas ruminating at the moment. I'm looking forward to a relaxed schedule so that I can pursue some of them.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

100 Under 1000

I am one of 50 artists invited to participate in the Lee Hansley Gallery's annual "100 Under 1000" holiday exhibition. The show will open this Sunday, November 20 and run through December 31, 2011. The Lee Hansley Gallery is located at 225 Glenwood Avenue, Raleigh NC 27603. Gallery hours: Tu-Sat 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. (First Friday, December 23 open until 10 p.m.) Phone: 919-828-7557.

Many thanks to the Lee Hansley Gallery for the invitation and opportunity.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Magic Hour

This canvas is the most recent large-scale piece I've completed. Like other works over the past three years, it is loosely based on a house I photographed in Cumberland, Maryland. I placed the structure in a dusk setting to heighten the atmosphere and to create a dramatic interior lighting effect.

Last night I attended Raleigh's First Friday Gallery Walk with a young art student who I have agreed to mentor as part of a class project. She and I visited the new location of the Visual Art Exchange, where she had a beautiful color pencil piece on display as part of a young artists exhibition at the VAE. We then walked to the Contemporary Art Museum to visit their eclectic contemporary exhibits. Future gatherings may include a visit to my studio, a day-trip to Reynolda House in Winston-Salem, and a critique session of her work.

"The Magic Hour." Oil on stretched canvas, 24 x 36 inches. Completed September 2011.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Night Study IV: East on Broughton

I have continued working on my "night study" series this year, using source material from my many visits to Savannah, Georgia. This is yet another perspective of the intersection of Bull and Broughton streets in Savannah, viewed at night.

"Night Study IV: East on Broughton." Oil on stretched canvas, 12 x 16 inches. Completed September 2011.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Tybee Island II

Here is another small study I recently completed based on the Tybee Island (GA) lighthouse. This depicts the lighthouse itself, with a lightkeeper's house in the foreground. I may attempt a larger version of this same scene.

"Tybee Island II." Oil on stretched canvas, 9 x12 inches. Completed August 2011.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Palm Springs Vacation

I recently returned from a vacation to Palm Springs, California. While the desert landscape and mountain scenery are spectacular, I was most fascinated with Palm Springs' phenomenal collection of Mid-Century Modern architecture, best exemplified by Richard Neutra's 1946 Kaufmann House (seen above). The clean, sleek linear perspectives of MCM have always attracted me. I could see a new series of work in my future.

While there I visited the Palm Springs Art Museum. It surprised me with its strong 19th century American collection and a wonderful 20th century collection. I ended up spending about three hours there soaking in the artwork. I definitely recommend a visit to the museum if one is ever in the area.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tybee Island I

This small canvas is a quick study I painted last month. It depicts the lighthouse keeper's home at the Tybee Island (GA) Lighthouse. Located east of Savannah along the coast, Tybee Island is a favored day trip during my annual sojourns to Savannah. This piece allowed me to use colors not normally found in my work.

"Tybee Island I." Oil on stretched canvas, 9 x12 inches. Completed August 2011.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Last Light

This week's painting image depicts a canvas I completed in 2009. I've avoided posting it only because its dark surface has made it difficult to photograph effectively. I tried again last week and this image was the result. Close but still not a perfect representation (a bit gray in the center of the house). "Last Light" was exhibited at my show at the Miriam Preston Block Gallery in Downtown Raleigh in April 2010. It is another painting based on structures I sketched and photographed in Cumberland, Maryland a few years ago.

"Last Light." Oil on stretched canvas, 30 x 40 inches. Completed March 2009.

Yesterday I visited the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond. I met up with my close friend, Washington D.C.-based artist Tinam Valk, and we toured the new galleries opened in 2010-2011. It is a beautiful museum and has a wonderful American gallery that includes one of my favorite Edward Hopper canvases, "House at Dusk:"

Friday, September 2, 2011

Vortex Study #2

This small canvas is a second tornado study I completed recently. One of the challenges of working within the palette I prefer is to keep the blues from turning green when combine with my favorite sky color, Naples yellow. This actually worked well in this painting since many tornadoes have an eery greenish tinge to them.

Vortex Study #2. Oil on canvas, 12 x 16 inches. Completed August 2011.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Vortex Study #1

With Hurricane Irene making landfall today here in North Carolina, it seems appropriate for me to post a recent vortex study that I completed last month. I have been fascinated by tornadoes since childhood, and this small canvas is based on imagery I found on the Internet. I'm not sure if I will try to complete any large-scale canvases in this same vein, but I may continue with a series of small studies as an expressive outlet beyond my architectural works.

"Vortex Study #1." Oil on stretched canvas, 11 x 14 inches. Completed July 2011.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Off Topic: My other "canvas"

I've mentioned previously that I have been concentrating on my yard this spring and summer, taking time away from the studio to do so. Well, here are images of the results. I had new front yard sod ("Compadre" zoysia) laid in late April, and I've been babying it carefully ever since. Combining its needs with my flower gardens, takes a bit of work (especially under the glaring North Carolina Piedmont sun). This week's record heat-wave (and its long string of 100-plus temperatures) has strained my resources a bit. But it's still looking good.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Pentimento (The Fabius Briggs House): Completed

The painting I began a week ago, "Pentimento (The Fabius Briggs House)," is finished. I added a few final highlights and now consider it completed. As mentioned in last week's blog post, the painting is based on an actual house here in Raleigh that is in danger of demolition. Hopefully a guardian angel can be found to save this noble structure.

"Pentimento (The Fabius Briggs House)." Oil on stretched canvas, 24 x 30 inches. Completed July 2011.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Back in the studio: Pentimento (The Fabius Briggs House)

After a four month hiatus, I returned to painting this past weekend. When I put down the brushes at the end of February, I had no intention of staying away this long. March was filled with house guests, then April brought the garden season (and a newly-sodded front yard), travel in May and June, more guests...well, it turned into a longer break than I intended.

My first post-sabbatical work is one based on a house in Raleigh with a sad story. Built sometime between 1900 and 1915, the Fabius Briggs House on Hillsborough Street once hosted a family steeped in local history (here's a blog with the full story). Unfortunately, by the 1950s it had turned into commercial property and then suffered the ultimate indignity of having a linear one-story store front added around it. Now, after decades of neglect, it appears that the structure will be demolished unless a rescuer (i.e. someone with a big heart and a bigger wallet), comes along to rescue it.

I discovered the house about two years ago, and decided then to paint it. Since then I have photographed it several times, but it wasn't until last week that I finally decided to make it my next canvas.

What you see here is the freshly completed underdrawing on top of the red acrylic-primed canvas. From this point, I then worked on it for another five hours. The painting is now essentially complete and, after I strategically place a few highlights on it after the existing oil paint dries, I will photograph the final product and post it to this blog.

"Pentimento (The Fabius Briggs House)." Oil on stretched canvas. Still in progress.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


With the coming of summer and its accompanying heat, my painting sabbatical will officially end next weekend. I have taken a few months off, first to work heavily in my flower gardens and yard, but also to pause and consider where I am as a visual artist. Most importantly, I've been thinking about what I want to do next as a painter.

For this week's post I've reached way back in my painting archive to my college years. This canvas, "Buick Century," was created as part of an assignment in my senior painting class at the University of Maryland. The task assigned was to complete a work based on a reflection of some type. While several classmates completed self-portraits posed in mirrors, I chose to focus on the reflective chrome surface of a 1950s American automobile.

The image was based on a photograph from an old car book I owned. I created a pencil grid on the gessoed canvas and used that to help me establish the striking visual perspective of the car. I constructed the canvas frame myself and, remarkably, this painting remains the largest single canvas I have ever completed. I did not fully finish the work in class, and for many years it sat incomplete in my studio storage area. In the 1990s I was again motivated to work on it, and finally completed the piece. I've found over the years that its subject matter and photo-realistic style are real crowd-pleasers.

"Buick Century." Oil on stretched canvas, 38 x 52 inches. Begun March 1985-completed August 1995.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Reynolda House Visit

This past weekend I took another sojourn to what has become my favorite day-trip destination, Reynolda House, located in Winston-Salem, NC. On this trip I viewed their current exhibit "Trains that Passed in the Night: The Photographs of O. Winston Link." While I was familiar with Link's railroad-themed photographic work, I had only seen an image or two in past exhibits at other museums. This show pulled together a huge collection from his 1950s project that captured images of steam-powered locomotives of the Norfolk & Western Railroad. It was absolutely captivating and surprisingly relevant to my own work and visual art interests. Unfortunately, the exhibit closes this coming weekend, but I am already looking forward to Reynolda House's next exhibition, "Modern Masters from the Smithsonian American Art Museum," which opens in October.

Upon returning from Reynolda House, I finally did something I should have done years ago: I became a member of the museum. It truly is a North Carolina treasure, and each visit seems more rewarding than the last. I always add lunch at the Village Tavern as part of the experience, and the only sad news was the discovery that the ice cream parlor in the Reynolda Barn had closed. If you love American art, or historic homes, Reynolda House should be at the top of your list to explore and enjoy.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Night Study III: Savannah Theater

This is the third night study I have completed this year. Depicting the Savannah Theater, this painting was quickly executed as an exercise in lighting. Like the others, I was not concerned about the final product as much as I was interested in the light and mood.

"Night Study III: Savannah Theater." Oil on stretched canvas, 12 x 16 inches. Completed January 2011.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Night Study II: Broughton and Bull

This is the second in a series of night scenes I have been working on this year. Once again, I used a Savannah street for inspiration. I improvised some of the color palette in this work, and edited out pedestrians and automobiles to focus on the structures and the lighting effects.

I received another rejection this week, this time from the Visual Art Exchange's annual "SCOPE: The North Carolina Landscape" for my two entries. I haven't made the final cut in this show for three years, but I won't let that discourage me from continuing to work hard. Rejection is a major part of a visual artist's experience -- you just have to get used to it and move on.

"Night Study II: Broughton and Bull." Oil on stretched canvas, 9 x 12 inches. Completed January 2011.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Night Study I: Broughton Street

Earlier this year I began a short series of night studies based on imagery from Savannah, Georgia. I completed these exercises on small canvases and worked very quickly. I used the experience to loosen up a bit and to experiment with lighting at night. These aren't meant to be considered "finished" pieces, but serve as oil sketches - essentially warm-up routines for extended painting periods.

"Night Study I: Broughton Street." Oil on stretched canvas, 11 x 14 inches. Completed January 2011.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

On the Easel: Biltmore at Dusk

This large painting is the most recent work I've completed. It depicts a section of Biltmore House at sunset. I used my own source photographs, taken on previous visits to Biltmore, to sketch out the composition, and then I improvised the lighting to create this particular time of day.

This is the third full-scale painting I've produced based on Biltmore, and I've also created several smaller studies using source imagery from the house. This past week I entered this and another Biltmore painting into the Visual Art Exchange's annual juried competition "SCOPE: The NC Landscape."

"Biltmore at Dusk." Oil on stretched canvas, 40 x 30 inches. Completed March 2011.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

From the Archives: Approaching Storm

Today's weather forecast for Raleigh is an ominous one, with a major storm front racing across the state and set to hit this afternoon. It has inspired me to dig back into my archive of works and post this small study. I completed this painting in an hour one evening completely from memory. I have a distinct childhood memory of an approaching storm that caused my mother to put us kids in the car and head for shelter at my grandmother's house. As we loaded into the car, a huge bolt of lightning struck in the distance where our neighbor's house stood. This canvas conjures up the image I have stored in my memory from that afternoon, albeit without the bolt of lightning.

"Approaching Storm." Oil on canvas paper, 16 x 20 inches. Completed August 2006.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Route 30 Eastern Idaho

Since it's been a quiet time for studio production, I thought I'd post some archival works to the blog. This canvas dates back to 1997. It was inspired by a vacation trip to the Pacific Northwest in 1992 that took me to Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Washington and Oregon. I traveled to Yellowstone, Grand Teton and Glacier national parks during the trip, seeing spectacular scenery unlike any other places on Earth.

This stretch of roadway came during a long drive from Pocatello, Idaho to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I saw miles of barren, sparsely-populated country and decided to register the memory to canvas.

"Route 30 Eastern Idaho." Oil on stretched canvas, 32 x 48 inches. Completed 1997.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Rejections and Garden Season

It's been too long since my last blog post, and my apologies. A combination of factors have made it a quiet period in my studio. I've hosted (and thoroughly enjoyed) visits from three sets of out-of-town relatives in March. As much fun as these visits are, though, they do take time away from studio work.

The change in temperatures in Raleigh has also created garden season. Outside of painting, my creative juices are best fulfilled by yard work and gardening, and I've been busy working on some new areas of my yard for planting next month.

Unfortunately, what art news has occurred has been negative: rejection notices. After enjoying the small group show in February at the Visual Art Exchange, I've been rejected in two juried shows as well as a solo exhibit proposal for a local arts council. Rejection is par for the course, and doesn't depress my painting mood, but in a slow period it doesn't exactly help, either.

Currently I am working on a large canvas based on the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC. I hope to have an image shortly to share on this blog.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Human Remains

I just returned from a volunteer shift at the Visual Art Exchange, serving as a gallery-sitter on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. The VAE is currently hosting a small group show in its Exchange Gallery that includes two of my own paintings. The show remains on view through next weekend.

This week's featured painting (above) is "Human Remains." Completed last summer, the work is based on an actual house in Columbus, Ohio. I chose to depict it as a derelict ruin, and transplanted it into a moody tropical setting. The concept of painting a demolished house came to me one day while driving on a long trip, but I let the idea ruminate in my creative thoughts for about a year. Finally, I settled upon this composition and chose a title that captured the darkness of the subject matter.

"Human Remains." Oil on stretched canvas, 24 x 30 inches. Completed July 2010.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Morning in America

Despite suffering from a head cold, I have been working on several behind-the-scenes business aspects of my visual art career this week. Last Sunday I spent several hours restyling my visual art web site, My site is hosted by Yahoo! Small Business Solutions, and I decided to move to their Sitebuilder web authoring program to maintain the site. It has made web updates much easier, so I restyled all of the main pages within the site. I have also submitted two new solo exhibition proposals to local arts organizations (Durham Arts Council and the Chapel Hill Public Arts Office). While I have not been in front of a canvas, it's been a busy week.

This week's featured canvas is "Morning in America," completed last July. Based on structures I sketched and photographed during my Columbus, Ohio days, I placed the buildings in a dawn setting. The title is a play on Ronald Reagan's 1984 re-election theme; the irony seemed to fit this canvas well.

"Morning in America." Oil on stretched canvas, 24 x 36 inches. Completed July 2010.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Exchange Gallery Opening

The trip to Savannah, Georgia last weekend was a refreshing change of pace, and has helped recharge my creative batteries. The weather was spectacular - sunny and mid-70s - and I was able to capture many images that I hope to use as source material for future works.

Last night was the opening reception for the small four-person show I am in this month at the Exchange Gallery, located at the front of the Visual Art Exchange in Raleigh. Included in the exhibit are N. Lee Ball, Emily Lees, LC Neill and Sterling E. Stevens. The weather did not choose to cooperate on this night, however (cold, steady rain) so the First Friday crowd in Downtown Raleigh was sparse. The exhibit will remain on view until February 24. The Visual Art Exchange is located at 325 Blake Street (City Market) and is open Tuesdays-Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Savannah Sojourn

It's time for my annual sojourn to Savannah, Georgia - my favorite city in America. The weather, which has been unseasonably cold for months, is supposed to cooperate with highs in the low 60s and sunny skies. I confess that I look forward to the food as much as the architecture when I travel to the Hostess City of the South. There is no place on the planet like Savannah.

Pictured above: The ruins of the old Candler Hospital, located on East Huntingdon Street.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Homage: Mansions by the Sea

For the past few weeks I've been working on a series of night studies depicting urban scenes based on my many visits to Savannah, Georgia. The canvases are small (ranging in size from 9x12 to 12x16 inches) and have been quickly composed and executed. I'll present some images in future posts.

This work is a large canvas that I began in August 2010 and completed this month. It was to be the last large-scale piece I worked on prior to the ill-fated Somerhill Gallery show planned for October 2010. When I learned in August that the exhibit would be canceled, I ceased working on the painting, only to return to it immediately after the Christmas holiday.

The mansion depicted on the left was based on a photograph I found on the Internet; the one to the right is inspired from a famous work by an artist I admire. I decided to combine the two structures on an imagined bluff overlooking a sea. This work has been a struggle to produce and went through several iterations before I settled on this composition. In fact, I had painted in a different structure on the right only to paint it out a few weeks later.

"Homage: Mansions by the Sea." Oil on stretched canvas, 32 x 48 inches. Begun in August 2010; completed January 2011.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Dark Shadows

Another canvas inspired by architecture in Cumberland, Maryland, this piece was featured in my recent show at the Lee Hansley Gallery in Raleigh, NC. I loved the turret on this particular house, and wanted to create a painting that focused on that feature.

"Dark Shadows." Oil on stretched canvas, 36 x 24 inches. Completed June 2010.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Urban Sunset II

This week's featured work is a "remake" of sorts. In May 2006 I completed a canvas I titled "Urban Sunset." The 36x24-inch painting was based on the Scottish Rite Temple located on Bull Street in Savannah, Georgia. The temple is one of my favorite structures in Savannah, and I have featured a photo of the building previously on this blog.

In June 2010 I decided to complete a second attempt of the subject. This time I used a much smaller canvas and oriented the composition horizontally instead of vertically. I also stylized the setting and eliminated most of the actual surroundings in order to focus on the structure itself. This was the result.

"Urban Sunset II." Oil on stretched canvas, 18 x 24 inches. Completed June 2010.