Thursday, December 27, 2012

Happy Baby New Year!!!!

 Some New Years Illustrations by J.C. Leyendecker
 Happy New Year Everyone!!!!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Three Persimmons!

I love Persimmons! It is so much fun to paint the golden yellow, and orange colors in them......
6x8 Oil On Panel

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Apples and Cranberries

During the holidays two of my favorite things are Cranberry Sauce and Apple Pie. Since both were in the fridge already, I thought why not put them in a painting. I have been going crazy working on a commission right now so I barely had any time to get this one done. 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Should You Print Your Own Business Cards?

I recently had to have new business cards made. I could keep using the same ones over and over but I get bored easily and like to keep designing new ones....I guess it is my idea of a hobby...well that and old movies. 

 "Fairy Tale Eggplants And Mushrooms" 10 x 20 Oil on Panel

I meet alot of other painters and can tell a great deal about them by the type of card they hand out. It seemed to be a perfect topic for a blog post.....

The first thing I thing about when thinking about business cards is will the image fit well. The number two mistake I see (we'll get to number one later) is the wrong size image for a card...or worse, no image on your card. I know a very famous artist who has no image on his card, just a design. Looks like a card an accountant would give you. In my opinion, the image on your card should fit the size (standard is 2 x 3.5), and should be a good example of the work you do. If you love painting nudes, but make all of your money painting's probably a good idea to put your best dog painting on the card. Sounds like common sense right? I can't tell you how many times I have been out and heard "Well this is my personal card, I ran out of cards with dogs on them" and guess who just lost a sale.

The number one mistake I see is an amateur trying to make their own business card. Unless you are a very skilled graphic designer, NEVER make your own cards. I am constantly laughing at bad home printed cards. I love the ones that are so thin they look like they were printed on a paper towel. Any professional will look at the card and think, "Oh, a homemade business card.....and toss it in the garbage. On the other hand, I remember and save really nice cards. There are so many companies offering great deals on Business cards. Some as low as twenty dollars. Think about it, why look like a fool for twenty dollars....but it happens. Vistaprint and Modern Postcard are just two that I have used. Vistaprint is cheap but tricky. If you upload the entire image yourself you have to get the entire thing inside the white dotted line or it will crop too close. Make your border around the card just a little thicker just to be safe. It will look deliberate, and save you alot of hassle. The thicker paper alone and glossy finish are worth the money. I pay extra to have my blog, website, phone number, etc printed in B/W on the back. Your business card instantly tells someone how professional you are - keep that in mind.

Above is my new card. It's a bit more whimsical then the one above it which was the most recent. I'll probably go more traditional on the next one, or maybe even a light card as opposed to a dark one. I order 250 at a time and change the image often. Every image I have put on a business card has sold from someone getting the card and asking "Is this for sale?"

I would also suggest keeping the size standard. I once had someone give me a slightly oversized card thinking that it would stand out. It did stand out, but it also didn't fit in my wallet nicely so I threw it away.....

Happy Carding!!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

"Baby Pears All In A Row II"

For anyone watching the first auction, it is probably no surprise that I made a companion piece to it. I usually do anyway. Produce can be expensive, and I hate to waste it so I try to make as many paintings as I can can from what I have before it rots. Sometimes I only get one painting, it depends on the type of fruit. Apples for example I could paint for weeks but I usually don't because part of what I am going for is the personality of the fruit, and I get bored quickly painting the same thing over and over. At least if I am going to paint apples again, I can paint different apples.
6 x 8 Oil on Panel

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Pomegranate And Grapes 10 x 20 with a Process Photo

Each Holiday Season I try to put a few larger pieces up for auction on Ebay. Last year I think I put up three. I plan to put up three again this year. I am offering two frame choices on it as well, for the first time. Personally I like the grey one shown above, but since most people seem to like the gold frame I have listed that on in the Auction as well. Both of the frames are Larson Juhl imported mouldings.

Below is a process shot from the second day of painting. This type of piece usually takes around seven to ten days to paint depending on the drying time of the paint. I had to paint this one fast because the open Pomegranate will turn color quickly. When it is wet and humid, it takes me alot longer because each layer of paint must be dry for me to move onto the next area. I liked it just like this, I really would have preferred to call it done at this point, but I have to make a living......

"Pomegranate and Grapes" 10 x 20 Oil on Panel. 


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Red Apple and Globe Grapes

The trick in trying to paint these Minnies is keeping them to six hours each. Normally an apple as complicated as the one above would take three sittings for me to paint. I had to simplify it a bit in order to keep it to just two sittings. The grapes are painted as just round pink balls first. Then I fill in the details on the second sitting. If the grape isn't round first, all the detail in the world won't make it look good.
6 x 8 Oil on Panel.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Baby Pears All In A Row


I seldom see these tiny baby pears when I am at the grocery store or market but this week they had them!
I usually try to make at least two paintings from them but I have so many projects going on right now, I just had time for one.I took the title from the Eagles song "Pretty Maids All In A Row"...I have no idea where that came from either.

Stop Stealing From Me!!!! - A Few Tricks Every Painter Should Watch Out For

Hello Folks! It's now the Holiday Season, my favorite time of year.......but if you are like me, you have a tendency to be just a bit nicer this time of year. Well unfortunately, some people out there will take advantage of your good nature. Here are a few things to look out for.
  • I post some images on Fine Art America. It is a print site, from what I have seen the quality is slightly better then OK. but it is easy to upload images, and seems to be good advertising. Someone bought a tiny 8 x 10 print from them, scanned it, blew it up larger,  and then tried to sell my work on a website for $250.00 a print. The site was from Ghana. I have no idea who would pay $250. for a print of my work when you can get an original for that, but anyway. Some things you can do to prevent it - Google yourself every once in a while and check to see if you are listed on websites. I google myself often, not too much though, you don't want to google yourself so much that it interferes with your painting time. 
          I do hate watermarks on my work, so I take that chance, but it does act as a deterrent.

  • Never ship a painting until the check clears!! This one may sound like a's not. One artist I know, who is quite famous, only a few years ago sold a painting for $200,000. I think he figured at that number, he was safe not to get ripped off, so he sent the painting out before the check arrived. A check shows up for $180.000. Be careful he told me - it never stops.
  • I was represented years ago by a gallery on Cape Cod. He outrageously over priced my work. He sold a painting of mine called Curtain Call, which is one of the long 12 x 40's for $10,000. The price on it was supposed to be $6,500. He told me he sold it for $6,000. and paid me $3,000. I found out because it was a small town and the buyer was a friend of the father of one of my friends there. The gallery had gone out of business by the time we found out. Watch out for gallery owners who spend more time talking about themselves then you. This should have been a giveaway with him, and I missed it. The gallery is there to make money from selling YOU! If the conversation is all about them, you have a good chance of getting screwed.

  • As anyone who follows this blog knows, I put some paintings up for auction. Most auction sites encourage a return policy. All of my work is in fact 100% guaranteed. If someone buys it and doesn't like it, they can return it for a full refund. The problem with that is, that anyone can buy a painting, get a high resolution scan of it made, and then return it saying they don't like it. They can then sell large prints of it. I'm really not sure if there is anything that can be done about that one, we just have to trust people to do the right thing.

  • This one is silly. Personally, I don't worry about "someday" when I am rock star famous, but if you are - work on wood panel. The majority of famous art thefts were pulled off by the thief cutting the center of the canvas out of the frame with a knife, rolling the painting up and running off with it. This is not as easy to do if you paint on wood.

  • Get everything in writing!!!!  One of my first jobs out of art school was illustrating a children's book. It was an independent, and I was dealing directly with the writers. I thought it was a given that my name would appear on the cover....I was wrong. I didn't have it in the contract and only the names of the two writers appeared on the cover. My name was in tiny print on the inside cover. Lesson learned the hard way.
Well that is all I can think of for now, I know there are hundreds more. and anyone reading this feel free to share a story as well. Have a Happy Holiday Season, but as a great teacher of mine told me....... "Keep Your Eyes Open"!

"Legal Guide For The Artist" on Amazon 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!!

This is a Saturday Evening Post Cover by one of my favorite painters, J.C. Leyendecker.
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Two Painting Classes in Stuart, Palm City Area, Florida

This January I will be teaching two weekly painting classes. Last year I did a Demo in Palm City, FL and two workshops at the Hobe Sound Fine Art League, both went extremely well. so I thought I would do a weekly class which is really the best way to learn to paint.

I set the class to run for eight weeks. If it is a success I will do another eight week class in March and April.  Portrait will be on Tues Night, and Still-Life will be on Thursday Night. Both 6:30 to 9:30pm

Sunday, November 11, 2012

White on White - Pear and Figs

This is the first in a new series! It might be a Mini Series.....I decided to paint one of my mini model stands white, then I put a piece of glass from a picture frame on it to create the reflections I like....
I plan to do about four or five more like this...

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

"Baseball and Peanuts"

I have wanted to paint this one for a long time, which I am hoping to turn it into a series. There are certainly enough baseballs and peanuts out there!Being a NY Yankees fan, and have been since I was a kid...yeah I know - 90% of you now hate me for it.....but I remember having peanuts at the ballpark. When I was really young the Yanks were terrible so we got really great seats, then in the mid 90's it wasn't so easy to get those great seats anymore...but for a pretty good reason!
Actually I was thinking of doing other sports as well, maybe golf or tennis but I am having a hard time coming up with item to put with them. What goes with a tennis ball the way peanuts go with a baseball? Hmm.... if anyone out there has a suggestion....

"Baseball And Peanuts" 6 x 8 Oil on Panel

Why I Love Going To Gallery Openings!

Last week my girlfriend and I went to a gallery opening in Stuart, Florida. It was the first one I had been to, besides my own, or close friends, in years. I went because a friend of mine was in the show and I went to support her work. Immediately upon entering you are bombarded with all sorts of artwork. Some portraits....I think they were portraits, a large painting of a bag lady pushing a cart, some lovely palette knife works, and then something which looks like the artist glued rocks to the canvas. I'm not there five minutes and the owner of the gallery calls for every ones attention and then says that each "artist" will be speaking about their work.....Of course!!! Oh boy, here we go. This is going to be a long nite.
Well, mister rock guy has to go first. Mister rock guy is an older guy, greyish hair, and he is wearing leather pants and brown boots.....He looks like the type who should have been wearing corduroy pants and hush puppies....but no, of course he has leather pants on. Now he starts talking about his "art" and in one sentence has referred to himself as an "artist" at least three times...."jeez, is he done yet" I'm thinking. He goes on to say how he makes his art as a gift to the infinite universe. I want to throw up and he just started. His work is large paintings of clouds - we will say clouds, it was something else but I don't want to outright say who this was. So he makes large paintings of clouds out of resin and "10,000 tubes of paint", some of the clouds are big, some not so big. Each cloud is a separate chunk of something, he claims resin, looks like he is gluing rocks onto a canvas and painting over them.

He goes on for a few more minutes about how important he is, and how his work has given the art world a "new horizon" - his words, not kidding, and then asks if there are any questions. Someone asks "How long do they take to make"? He responds with a five minute story about how he was approached by the owner of Big Tent Circus, and how he instantly loved his work and wanted two of his "Masterpieces" - his words, again not kidding. After five minutes on this story he asks the woman, did I answer the question? Sharply she replies "NO, I asked how long it took to make?" He goes on again for about a minute or two before finally saying about five months, but adds how often he works on them for 15 hours straight and forgets to eat because if he stops he will break his mood and ruin the piece. I'm thinking if that festering turd took five months to paint you are either working for one minute a day or you are an absolute moron.This crap should take no more then two days to paint. I'll even tell you how!!! You can make it out of anything....Styrofoam, paper, cardboard, whatever.... then pour the resin over the top. Let it dry overnight and badly paint it the next day. That is all, five months my @$$! - two days and if it were not for the drying time I could make these things in a half hour. One of them was just painted white. Yep, that guy! And all of his work looks almost exactly the same...I was really temped to use David Leffell's line and ask him how he knows when he is getting better? But I controlled myself.

He also goes on to say that his paintings of clouds are more majestic then the sky itself....I really wanted to slug him. Now he starts telling a story about how he has to paint, "HE HAS TO" paint because some woman he loved was dying and her last words to him were to paint, "for the love of god paint!!! I added that but it felt like that......Now before you think I am heartless for laughing at the story, keep in mind, he is telling this to a room full of strangers, many of which he hasn't met yet.
At this point I couldn't take it anymore and walked outside. My friend met me out there, and after about a half hour we looked in and and he was still talking!!! He was the first of about five artists who were going to speak.....and the crowd had stopped paying attention long ago and were talking amongst themselves....but that didn't stop him!! I felt bad for the other four. I didn't stick around to hear them, and I wansn't the only one.

I have been meeting this guy, in one form or another for years. I went to art school with him when he took five sheets of blotter acid to help express himself. He slept for two days and when he woke up painted a red line on a black canvas. Thank you very much.

I met him in art history class when he told everyone Warhol was more important then Rockwell. Nice Mohawk pal, love the blue in it.

I met him at a party once when he was a photographer taking pictures of roadkill, telling me "I'm an Artist too!" Wow, glad we work for the same union, let me see your card.

This is why I prefer going to movies.........

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

New Minnies - Off To The Galleries!

"Brie And Figs" - Every time I paint Figs I put them next too other fruits. I recently read that figs go really well with cheese. I always love painting Brie so I thought they would go well together.

 "Grapefruit And Key Limes" These are just four of the new batch. With three new galleries to fill up I have been busy!!!

"Black Grapes And Figs" This one is my favorite of the bunch! I thought of each of the grapes and figs as a little solar system. They just had suck a celestial quality to them.

"Red Apple And Black Grapes" This apple has the most character I have ever seen in an apple. I love the way it feels like it is hunched over.....

Monday, October 29, 2012

Guest Blogger!: A Few Words On Drama by Marjorie Pierce

I frequently post images and auction links on my Facebook page. One of my friends there makes the most wonderful comments on my work. I am always impressed by her level of writing and insights. I thought it would be fun to have her write a blog here on the importance of Drama. I think technical ability in painting is important, but no where near as important as drama, character, and personality.......

So here are a few words by my good friend Marjorie Pierce:
I am a retired high school drama teacher. I did not actually teach full time until I was fifty years old, my children grown and my husband gone. I never thought I would last a year but made it for 25 and retired at 75. that was 5 years ago. I taught in a little rural school which is in a district that borders Whiteman Air Force Base (B-2 bombers) so we had many students who came from all over the world and went all over the world. Some stayed there in Knob Noster, of course, but I think they still came to love the theatre. We had a wonderful art teacher and a fine instrumental music teacher as well so I think our kids were given a lifetime interest in the arts. I was a theatre major at the University of Kansas and I married another theatre major who also went into educational theatre at the university level. My mission professionally has been to share to people that the theatre more than any of the other arts is a social and spiritual history of mankind. The theatre teaches life lessons as well.

I was lucky that my administrators thought "drama" was very important so they left me alone to "do my thing". Public education is going through a really bad period and I am glad I have retired. Both of my daughters are elementary school teachers and both are struggling through what is going on in that field today.

Once while attending a performance of a children's theatre production at the San Fernando Valley State College in Northridge, as the curtain opened to the last strains of the overture, I heard a child's voice in wonder pipe up from somewhere behind me: " It's in color!" I never forgot that. I always tried to instill in my students that sense of wonder and awe that is the magic of live theatre. I tried to show my students that a live performance is a gift they have to share with their audience. The applause is the audience's return gift and a thank you.

I have loved performance on stage since I was a tap dancing tot with Genevieve Seymour's School of Dance in recitals and movie house performances in various small towns in western Kansas. When later in life I had to make a living for myself I chose to do so in educational theatre. I'm glad I made that choice and here's why and why I champion theatre arts being offered in public schools. This experience teaches history, sociology, psychology and, of course, a love of art. Art students have a living gallery in which to display their talent as designers of sets and costumes; industrial arts students get to practice problem solving construction in a creative way; literature students see the printed word come alive and abstract emotions become real in a safe way ( who doesn't love to play a villain?); musicians add their audio art to the visual composition of the 'high school musical', and most important at this age, young people who may not find a niche academically or athletically find a place to fit in and succeed. Everyone is important to the success of the production and each one knows it. It is a true team effort. What better lesson!

Monday, October 22, 2012

10 Things Damien Hirst Has Probably Never Heard

In 1991 Damien Hirst put a Shark in formaldehyde and Charles Saatchi sold for at least $8 million.
The worlds wealthiest "Artist" (not a word I would use for him) has been accused of plagiarism, sued repeatedly for copyright infringement and admitted to signing his name to work he did not do himself...... Here are ten things I'm willing to bet he has never had to hear though....

10. When are you teaching a workshop? I'd sure love to learn how to do that!

 9.  I got a cousin whose work looks really similar.

 8. It would look great in my living room.

 7. You must have spent years working from casts and live models.

 6. Great glasses, did you design them yourself or borrow them from Elton John?

 5. I'm a graffiti artist, mind if I tag your shark?

 4. The study is ten times better then the finish!

 3. I'd love to see all of the thumbnail sketches, must have been hundreds.

 2.  Can you make a similar piece with my kids in it?

 1. How much did that go for on ebay?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Drawing On The Streets Of France.....

Prismacolor on Bristol 11 x 14

It's been a long time since I have done drawings like this. I used to really enjoy it! I was working on a series of paintings based on these drawings in 2005. I brought them into a gallery along with some still-lifes I was also working on at the time. If you read this blog at all you know which of the two series became more successful.

Pen & Ink with Watercolor 11 x 14

 I have been planning on going back to doing work that looks like this for a while now.....there is just never enough time!!!

Pencil Sketch 11 x 14

 Many of the paintings and drawing in the series were done from a combination of location sketches and drawings from life. I posted these four because all of them were quick studies I actually did on location in France.

Pen and Ink 8 x 10
All four of the above drawings were drawn from life.

The drawing above is 11 x 17 and done partially from life and partially from a photo.

It is in a town called Quimper, on the west coast of France.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Black Grapes & Figs 6 x 8 Oil On Panel


New Mini, This was the strangest batch of Figs I have ever seen. Pinks, purples, bright yellows, magenta, etc.....just wild colors. I think most people associate figs with being small and dark bluish and purple. I have been working on as many of these as I can because figs rot fast.
 6 x 8 Oil on Panel.
It's up for auction!

How To Get More People To Visit Your Blog?

I was reading a blog post on how to get more people to visit your blog. It is kind of important to me since this is how I make my living. I had absolutely no idea how to do it, and after reading the article....I still don't.

Some of the things it said were:

Don't just talk about yourself  Well, I'm an "artist" so that one went out the window....what would he like me to post about, the weather....maybe a movie review? I just saw Prometheus...It's two hours I can't get back.

Post comments and take questions people might want answered  I tried that, I was talking to myself. I still think I'm talking to myself.

Be funny - Doing my best.

Use Trackbacks - Anyone remember Charlie Brown's teacher? Wah waaah, wah waaah waaah.

Be remarkable - He hasn't been to the mall

Invite other people to post on your blog - Anyone want to post on my blog?

Write alot of posts and keep them short - He's calling you stupid, and saying you have a short attention span. Ok, I'll give it a shot.

Write in the second person "you" not "me" - As a painter, that would just be wierd, but I could try the third person if anyone would like. "Clinton painted this yesterday, and posted this blog while having coffee" Oh yeah, that will work.

Link out to other sites but only ones that will help people  - This guy is kidding. Why don't I link my blog to the nearest Emergengy Room, or to diet sites. How about a link to making your kids smarter? I have never heard of something so selfish......If you want to help people you just do it. Helping people to increase traffic to your own blog....gimmie a break. I'll talk to my 38 followers and be happy at that. Hello 38 followers!

Hope you found this post informative and it helps you bring lots of new people to your Blog!!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Rare Mix Of Influences....Part 1

Whenever I meet someone, one of the first questions they ask is "Who is your favorite artist?"
It is such a loaded question. Favorite? It is like asking someone what their favorite song is. Some days it is this one, sometimes that one, depends on the style, how old, etc. I certainly have favorites who are dead, other favorites who are alive. For a long time, I would respond with "I don't have one", not because I didn't like anyone elses artwork, but because the kind of artwork I liked, no one considered "Art". What is funny to me is that the vast majority of what other people call "art" like Rothko and Warhol I call....well,  I'll keep it clean. Below is a short list of my biggest influences and how they effected my work. If any of you are reading this, and have a rare mix of influences as well, leave a comment. It is always nice to learn of new people.
My favorite artist isn't considered an artist at all. He is an illustrator named J.C. Leyendecker. I was first introduced to him by one of my teachers, a guy named Mike Mattesi, who's name will come up again later. I think it is important to remember the people who introduced you to the things you love....and give credit where it is due.
 J. C. Leyendecker:

I love the angles of Leyendecker's work, the crispness of the lines, the superb draughtsmanship.
Some people have asked me "what about "Rockwell"?" I love Rockwell too, but not quite as much as Leyendecker....and Leyendecker came first. Without Leyendecker, there would be no Norman Rockwell.

James McMullan:


James McMullan is an amazing Illustrator. His Lincoln Center Theater Posters are world famous. I'm not going into his bio here, you can Google him. He also created the High Focus Drawing Program at the School of Visual Arts which changed my life. To this day I go back and read that book.

The beginning of the High Focus Drawing story doesn't start with him though. I was taking a class my freshman year from a guy named Jack Potter. I hated him and his drawing style. Cranky old, bald headed.....I said I'd keep it clean.... It's ok, he hated me much so that he threw me out of class and told me not to come back. That was just his teaching style. It took me years  to realize it, but I respect his decision. He knew I didn't belong there, and sent me on my way.

 While I was wondering around that day, I walked into another drawing class and there was this guy sitting there drawing. He looked like a student, maybe a few years older then me. I  looked at the was incredible! I thought to my self "That is how I want to draw!" so I asked him who was teaching the class. He smiled and said - "I am" .....
His name is  John T. Quinn and  his blog is listed here if anyone wants to see his work, which is also amazing.

The following year John was hired by Disney, and I was left with Jim McMullan. I didn't know Jim that well, and I was a little intimidated. Jim is smart, really smart, the kind of guy that uses words you have to go home and look up in the dictionary. I can't tell you how many times I was either complimented or insulted and didn't realize it for hours.
By midway through my junior year I was teaching the younger students in small groups while Jim was teaching the whole. My senior year, we did an independent study together and I was sitting in on all of his classes. I might add that my senior year at SVA I needed four required credits to graduate, which was two more classes. I took one required class each semester and took a full 18 credits of drawing classes.

One of the classes I took was from Mike Mattesi. He was one of McMullan's students who was also teaching in the High Focus Drawing program. He introduced me to Leyendecker, and Mucha, and so many other illustrators I can't even remember. I took one of his classes and he would let me sit in on his other one. He has since written a great book on figure drawing as well called FORCE. More info is on his blog which is listed here. My Senior year at SVA I was drawing ten to twelve hours a day six days a week and working nights on the weekends to pay for it.....yeah, I was nuts.

There is so much more I have to say about Jim and the class that I could go on for pages but I have others to get to here. I will add this:  It was in the independent study with Jim McMullan when he told me to do a psychological still-life, which is in every painting I make. The personality I strive for in my work, comes from his teachings. He is a great man, who taught a great class, and wrote a great book. I owe him more then I have the words for.....and that he is aware of.

Above - One of Jim's High Focus Drawings. Look at the rhythm!

When I wasn't at SVA taking a class or sitting in on a class I went to a place called Spring Studio, on Spring St. In NYC.  Minerva, the woman who runs it, has three live models a day, seven days a week. Almost every day, I would get to class at 9am and leave Spring Studio at 10pm.

Comic Books

It all started with comic books. Yep, I said it. Comics introduced me to reading and drawing at the same time. They introduced me to Art, Superheros, Gods, Greek Mythology, literature, Moby Dick,  and girls.....girls who's looked amazing....girls who looked nothing like think Cosmo sets the wrong standard? Try finding a girl that looks like a Jim Lee or a Scott Campbell can't do it.....but anyway.

I started by copying drawings out of comic books. That led me to going to The Joe Kubert School in Dover, NJ right out of high school. I learned alot there, but it wasn't enough. Imagine every class clown with a bit of drawing ability all in one place at the same time......That was the Joe Kubert school. IIf you have never seen to skinny guys in batman t-shirts getting into a fist fight in the hall over who would win in a fight Hulk or Thor......yeah, I didn't need that, and I wanted to go to a school with a girl in it. A great teacher there named Barry Bryant told me to go to art school, a real art school. He said, after commenting on how much progress I had made in just one year... "You're not there yet, but you'll get there" I have never forgotten it. I'm still working Barry, I'll get there.

(Above) Batman drawing by Jim Lee who taught me that comic book drawings didn't just have to function, they could have grace and style.

(Above) A drawing of Spiderman by Todd McFarlane. McFarlane was one of my favorites when I was a kid and his work changed the face of comic books.

After Joe Kubert, I got into the School of Visual Arts in NYC. I remember on my interview, Jack Endewelt was looking over my portfolio and he said "Well, you can draw so we can't put you in Fine Art" He set up my entire schedule, picked my classes, and my major. I was now in Illustration, and I had no idea how I got there. I have often said that I never made any decisions in life, I just tried not to let things pass me by.


 *NOTE - The below was written in 2012, before I signed with Disney Fine Art. The story is from the late 1990's when I was trying to get into a different department at Disney. I am leaving the text below because it was true when I wrote it, it's still true actually, and it is very much a part of where I am now... and  right now, I couldn't be happier with where I am.

I drew a lot when I was a kid...constantly really, but it was just something I did, like a reflex. I'm not even sure I thought about it. It was like breathing. When I saw "The Little Mermaid" during my junior year of high school I started to think about it. "I thought, "That is what I want to do for a living". The following year Beauty And The Beast was released and it was then for certain!

A lot happened in between then and getting into SVA but this a blog, not a novel. At SVA I got into an internship with Walt Disney Feature Animation called the Boot Camp. Thirty Five kids, from the US and Canada get to spend four weeks at Disney.....A dream come true...maybe.
It was the summer of my junior year. I never expected to get into the thing. My school picked six people to go to the interview. I wasn't one of them. Myself and this other guy who wasn't selected thought we should have been so we went to the meeting anyway and plopped our portfolios on the table and asked the good people from Disney if they would look at our work anyway.....they did and the both of us got in.

McMullan had a week long workshop to be held over the summer at the exact same time as the Disney internship. He asked me if I would assist him in teaching it. Darn!! I couldn't do both, I had to pick one..  I chose Disney.
It is the one time in my life where I wish I could see a movie of how my life would have turned out had I made the other decision.

A year later I was invited to do a year long mentorship with Disney. It lasted about a month before my mentor disappeared mysteriously from the employment of Walt Disney Feature Animation.  I have never heard from him again.

After five more years of dedicating my life to the Mouse I sent a portfolio to Disney Consumer Products. This was in about 1999 I think. I have read that if you want people to believe you, never tell them something that is unbelievable, even if it is the truth..
This is the truth. I sent in my portfolio to Disney Consumer Products. They spent a lot of time asking me who my influences and favorite Disney Characters were. I told them Beast, and Ariel, and Pinocchio, and Jafar etc......and they gave me Piglet...Piglet. I knew nothing about Piglet, and didn't even like Piglet...but I got a Piglet test.
I passed the Piglet test. Interview time. I flew out to Burbank for the interview (paid for it myself). I can't remember ever being so happy. This was Disney! This was it! I passed the drawing test!

I went home full of the same joy. About a week later, while I was bartending in a crappy bar in AZ. I get a phone call from Disney. The woman said "I can't say anything official over the phone, but I just want you to have a GREAT weekend, and look forward to getting something in the mail from us next week.
I was IN!!!! Words will never explain the feeling. I had just gotten into Disney!!!
...well, that's what I thought anyway.
About a week went by, nothing in the mail.
I called.
I was told, "it's coming, don't you worry".
Another week went by, I called again.
I was told, "we are working on it, but we will call when we are ready"
......I am still waiting for that call.

(Above) A model sheet of Mickey Mouse

(above)  Artwork from  Pinocchio by Gustaf Tenggren, absolutely stunning drawings and paintings. I really love his work.

*Note - People either get the Disney thing or they don't. If you get it, great, I really think your life has a touch of magic to it. If you get it, but are disappointed with the company now, your life has a touch of magic to it, and you can also think. If you don't get it, let me do my best to explain why I tried so hard to get in. Everything I have read about Walt claims that he only wanted the best. Everything had to be perfect. There is a rumor that there is more footage of Snow White on the cutting room floor then there was in the film....I really respect that sort of thinking. When I saw The Little Mermaid for the first time and she comes up from the rocks and a piece of her hair gets caught by the air and hits her face....That's not real!! Glenn Keane did that, he thought of that, that tiny detail. He was also said to have crawled around on the floor while animating Beast but that is another story.

I love the Disney that made Pinocchio, Bambi, Sleeping Beauty, The Jungle Book, Mermaid and Beast. I even liked Hercules. I love the idea that animals and clocks can talk and sing. When I look at the character designs, storyboards, background painters, and millions of drawings that went into each film, I am in awe. I look through any book of Disney concept art, or drawings from the films, or sketchbooks and I am blown away by the skill these folks had. I think building a place of escape, with a castle, rides, trains, and fireworks, is a wonderful thing. Walt hired a bunch of guys that made drawings move, and sing and dance.

Daniel Greene:

Not long after I graduated from SVA, I started teaching a weekly figure drawing class at Scottsdale Artist's School. In the class was a fellow instructor at the school who suggested I start painting in oils. I knew nothing about oil painting. I had a class at SVA but we would work on these huge still-life setups and would sit ten to fifteen feet away from them. (the worst way to teach still-life painting I might add).

At that point I was doing a lot of figure drawing in pencil. I never liked the whole big brush thing so I started toning my canvas to the same color as Strathmore Charcoal Paper and working in Burnt Umber and White until I got good enough to add more colors. Again I could pause here for pages, but I won't.
For two years I slowly taught myself how to paint.

In 2002, Daniel Greene was to be teaching a workshop at Scottsdale Artist's School. He had asked the school if they knew of anyone who would be willing to assist him in teaching the workshop. The school asked me and of course I said yes. At that time I was back to working ten to fourteen hours a day on painting and drawing, and teaching two classes a week at Scottsdale Artist's School. Dan told me mid-weekend of the workshop that "I was very good, but with a little discipline I could be excellent" I thought to myself, I'm working fourteen hours a day, how much discipline do I need? He meant with the way I painted...
Dan asked me what  was doing that summer and If I would like to come to his studio in NY, and be his assistant for four weeks. I would get to paint every day, all day long. WOW, another fantastic opportunity. I sad yes.
I am not going to list here everything he did for me, or all that I have learned from him. A few of the important items are that he taught me are how to have the same approach to painting every time I sit down to paint. I learned about mediums, how to prep a canvas and a palette, and how to properly pronounce palette.... The list is endless.  He is the best painting teacher I have ever met. He can tell you so clearly what your mistakes are that he never needs to make a single brushstroke on your canvas, unless you ask him to. He gave me my first real easel, which I still use. He taught me how to see color and value, gave me wonderful career advice, and I even met Steve Doherty, from American Artist magazine there, who gave me my first article.
I was Dan's assistant for five more summers after that....Every summer I wish to be back there, but you gotta walk on your own two feet at some point.

(Above) An oil  still-life and a pastel portrait by Daniel Greene.

There are so many people who are a big part of helping me get to where I am now and just through life in general,  that I just can't list everyone who jumps to mind.  I have so far yet to go and I am looking forward to meeting those who aren't on the list yet. This blog is just about five of the influences that I think most influenced the visual look of my work. It unfortunately misses all of the influences in other areas.