I feel, for me, that painting the human figure from life is the best way I can express myself. Is it better than working from a photograph, I will let others judge.

The direct experience in painting from life is almost inexpressable. You are not painting an interpretation of a thin sheet of paper or a digital image but from an interaction with a real live human being. It is difficult, expensive and frustrating. The reward is something that may be light years beyond the original concept, something that takes flight in our imagination that is not shackeled so often to re-imaging the photographic source.

It is a difficult thing to do, it requires many years of dedicated training and work to be able to paint or draw the human figure with any degree of ability. Our culture does not allow this today but celebrates the shortcuts and calls it 'personal expression', no matter what kind of garbage or personal neuroses is displayed upon the canvas. We have lost the quest for exquisiteness in our work.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Updates to my paper post "From Blue Jeans to Onion Skins"

I noticed a lot of hits on the post below. I have extensively revised it especially as many links were defunct and  I added new information. I hope it helps you on your quest to find and buy the finest papers the planet has to offer before they disappear forever.


Saturday, June 18, 2016

Antonio Lopez

Antonio Lopez was born the same year I was. His fashion illustrations appeared in the new York Times Magazine, Vogue and Women's Wear Daily, etc. Like Nicolas Uribe his work sent me into paroxysms of envy. His work was bold, inventive, passionate and sensual. I often wondered just how his beautifully drawn figures, though sometimes almost abstracted were so alive. It turns out that he insisted on live models. This was in the day that most fashion illustrators, including me, used what we called "swipes",  fashion illustrations or photographs that we copied and simply changed the clothes that were drooping on a rack. I thought I was so inventive when I insisted on doing my own photography. Only in one instance, for a few months, an enlightened art director let me draw from live models. I wish I had those drawings.

Antonio Lopez died at a young age from AIDS, during the dark ages of its inception.

Let us hope that the inspiration of Antonio Lopez and Nicolas Uribe, two brilliant Hispanic artists will somehow inject some spirit into the moribund nouveau classical realism worshiped by Fred Ross,The Art Renewal Center and so on. I know I could use a jolt. Fabuloso!

As I post these pictures I can't help but notice just how exuberant, unselfconscious and unpretentious they are.

“Antonio used to say, ‘Don’t waste a minute of your life dreaming of what you want to be,’ ”Ms. ( Model Pat)  Cleveland said. “ ‘Just be it.’ ”


More about Antonio Lopez

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Why I draw first.

The first image I drew of Adam looked like a timid, shriveled vulture, especially after seeing it on my blog. The circular ruff accentuated that unfortunate image. I had intended another colorized print in the background but it overwhelmed the sensitive nature of this young man's face. The lighting from my window forms a beautiful arc of light on his forehead and cheek, so I made the figure bigger in the space to focus on that pattern.

I don't know if this story is true, but I read somewhere that when Marilyn Monroe was to make a public appearance, she put on her jewelry and then removed the pieces one by one until she was down to perhaps ear-clips. She preferred the attention was on her, not her jewelry.

Planning a painting is learning how to let go of the inessentials.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Nicolas Uribe

Simply the best.
No contemporary figurative artists get me seething with jealousy like Nicolas Uribe.
There are many that have well honed skills, nice, very nice,too nice, from slick to brown and brooding, but ultimately lacking in surprise and depth. His color is impeccable.  He is an absolutely rare and brilliant painter.

I won't say more about him, because unlike too many artists, he does not need volumes to describe what he does. His work itself is prose and poetry.

He simply kills me.


Thursday, June 2, 2016

New Picture- Adam

Just a beginning of a new direction. A guy!
This is a pastel and charcoal on light green Fabriano Ingres paper.
He will have a Pierrot collar but I really wanted to discuss the difficulty of drawing hands, especially on seated figures.

Hands and bodies move, seated figures are the hardest to align,so the best thing is to use plumb lines- weighted strings with fish weights held vertically at the looking point in a sight-size set-up-https://www.sightsize.com/past/robert-douglas-hunter/  and draw vertical lines from various points,(eyes, nose ears ) on the models head to the hands to line them up properly. I also have a T-square that I line up with a vertical element in my studio to place the horizontals- end of hands, knees, etc. The difficulty is compounded by the foreshortened arm. On my painting "Aylla", it was easy, I had pins  placed on the black chair that she put her fingers next to. I cannot put pins in Adam's legs ( he objected), so I have to continually readjust them. It takes patience, but Adam has amazing long fingers and beautiful hands - I want to capture this aspect of him.

Models move and it is imperative to get them in exactly the same place over and over again. Some models cannot do it and it is difficult for a beginner. That is why I always start a drawing of a new model before I go to a canvas. Adam is a photographer and Pratt graduate who understands and the exigencies of working with models, but even he was unprepared at how difficult being an artist's model would be. Models, and this includes Adam who was surprised at the physical pains that come with sitting in one position for long periods of time.

I was not trained in the sight-size method. At the Boston Museum School, we were left alone with the model and expected to carry on as best as we could. The sight-size method is increasingly being taught in the Classical Ateliers sprouting up all over the world. Learning Classical Realism at the Ateliers has its pluses and minuses. You do learn to drawn mimetically, but I think at some loss of expressiveness. I saw drawing I did when I was twenty three before I had learned the method. What I noticed was that what it lacked in accuracy, hands too big etc., it gained in  vivacity. Although I think  that the ateliers that have sprung up like mushrooms over the last decades are a net positive I think too many atelier students are coming out looking like clones of their teachers who are looking like clones of their teachers. I am not the first to make this observation.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Toot Toot!

My own horn.

I am featured in the splendid June/July issue of The Artists Magazine. The last time I was in I was in the over 60 category 5 years ago. I guess they figured they better feature me before I croak.

The author Judith Fairly did a fabulous job making sense out of the gobbledegook of our interview, it really captures how and why I work.There are step by step diagrams of my painting practice. The whole piece was so well done. It includes a broad range of painters from Andrea Kowch  to the charming collages of Marcus Ratliff. I am placed embarrassingly before the article on Degas' monoytypes. The magazine gets a lot of squawks from the "realist" community because it does nor adhere to a strict policy of realists only- thank GOD! It makes for a more interesting magazine than its earlier incarnation before Maureen Bloomfield.  I of course will get billions of copies.

A pretty realistic view of  where I work

A bit tarted up!

Thursday, May 12, 2016


The planet is groaning with art, the internet is awash with imagery. Art schools and colleges turn out 30,0000 students with art degrees per year in America alone adding to the untold numbers who preceded them. It is hard you make your voice heard above the constant thrum of look at me, look at me, look at me, look at me, look at me.

Somehow these unpretentious charmers managed to stand out.

 I do not care if they seem weightless or will never be in the Uffizzi or a Bienniale. They are beautifully designed and give me pleasure to look at them.
In a way I am an art snob. I prefer art that is more process than product, art that doesn't look like retouched photographs, art that does not preach or have a message, nor do I feel that a picture's raison d'etre is to tell a story.

I found these on Deviant Art, where they seem to have a lot more fun than most.
"Crown of Peonies" by Thienbao

This is a gouache. The flowers are exquisitely rendered,the color design is impeccable. It is a a sophisticated tetradic color combination, something that is difficult to pull off. Color in my opinion and that of John Singer Sargent's is inborn.

I have seen all too many very,very serious  paintings by well trained atelier students that miss the mark on color. Theinbao nails it.

"Dark Clouds" by Iiosh
A gorgeous design using just blacks and greys with a touch of color


Saturday, April 30, 2016


My latest "Wildgarden" 34" x  53"
I was interested in exploring various color schemes- this one is perhaps a tetradic.
I push bits of colored paper, scraps of cloth around until I get what I like.
The backdrop is a painted and colorized etching from William Robinson's book, "The Wild Garden". 
I also have been imbibing the works of the Fauves and the Nabis.
My favorite period of art is the French from Cezanne through Matisse. I think it is one of the most energized and exciting period of art the world has produced.
Also I wanted to work with color as pure as possible without earth tones (except for the skin-tones and hair) and very little black. The blue background is a mixture of Micheal Harding's  Ultramarine and Ultramarine Violet.

This is a fun tool to waste endless hours playing with color combinations.