Sunday, March 23, 2014

New Long Tropical Still-Life 12 x 40 Finished

This is the hardest painting I make. Usually, they include seventeen or eighteen objects all of which will rot in only a few days. I wake up really early, go to the market, go back to the studio, and set it up and paint as fast as I can usually late into the evening...sometime early morning. When working on one of these I have already started painting at eight am and painted until two in the morning. That is a long day! - and why I paint one every five years lately.
This one is heading out to Scottsdale Fine Art in AZ!
It is a 12 x 40, Oil on Wood.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Bill Peet Has A Website!

For those of you that have never heard of Bill Peet he started out at Disney and then became a very successful children's book author and illustrator. My introduction to him was in art school, when one of my instructors recommended his autobiography, which he wrote in children's book form. It is a fantastic book, a short read, and I think a must for anyone who loves the field.
  I just found out that he also has a website. I'm not sure how long it has been up, but I just stumbled on it so I thought I might share it. It is loaded with great information including pages on story writing and even some caricatures of other Disney greats:

To the right is the cover of his autobiography, and below a link to it on Amazon for anyone interested - Bill Peet, An Autobiography

Bill Peet - January 29, 1915 – May 11, 2002), He joined Disney in 1937 and worked on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs the same year. After that came: Pinocchio (1940), Fantasia (1940, The Pastoral Symphony), Dumbo (1941), The Three Caballeros (1944), Song of the South (1946), So Dear to My Heart (1948), Cinderella (1950), Alice in Wonderland (1951), Peter Pan (1953), Sleeping Beauty (1959), 101 Dalmatians (1961), and The Sword in the Stone (1963). 

"During his 27 year career at Walt Disney studios, Bill Peet rose from inbetweener, to sketch artist to Disney's chief storyman. Bill Peet was the only storyman in the history of Disney studios who did all the story boards for an entire animated feature film, and he did it for two of them: The Sword in the Stone and One Hundred and One Dalmatians." - From his website

All before becoming a great writer and illustrator of many children's books including:

The Ant and the Elephant, Bill Peet: An Autobiography, Buford the Little Bighorn, The Caboose Who Got Loose, Cowardly Clyde, Encore for Eleanor, Farewell to Shady Glade, Kermit the Hermit, The Whingdingdilly, The Wump World. Visit his website for the rest of the list!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

JRR Tolkien's Translation of Beowulf To Be Published

JRR Tolkien 1955According to The Guardian:

"Almost 90 years after 
JRR Tolkien translated the 11th-century poem Beowulf, The Lord of the Rings author's version of the epic story is to be published for the first time in an edition which his son Christopher Tolkien says sees his father "enter[ing] into the imagined past" of the heroes."

I never thought I would be excited to read it again...It was painful the first time, but this sounds pretty good to me. Thanks Sandra for sending the link!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

If You Post A Blog Post Because You Saw The Post On Someone Else's Blog, Should They Get Credit?

A few posts down I posted something on Vermeer. I saw the post on James Gurney's Blog, so I mentioned that in the post. I am, and maybe some of you are too, noticing that a post pops up on a blog, and then a few days later a similar post shows up on another blog, and than another etc. It may sound silly but I think the first person to think of it, should get a little credit. I am, and always have been really big on giving credit when due. Creating a blog post is NOT easy, swiping a post idea from someone else still might not be easy, especially if you change it and make it your own, but I still think a nod to the inspiration might not be a bad idea. When newspapers run a story based on another story they read, they are supposed to give credit - why shouldn't bloggers? I think most of it is innocent sharing, however I suspect that there are one or two bloggers out there, reading less popular blogs, looking for ideas to post on more popular blogs, and take credit for the ideas.

I'm still up in the air on this one, so I was wondering what everyone else (ie both of you reading this) thought? If I post a blog here because I read something on another blog, does anyone care if I mention where the idea came from?

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The 100 Greatest Books Of All Time and How Batman led to War And Peace

Batman by Jim Lee

I frequently say that there is more to life that just painting, and reading has always been a close second, well, eating is up there also, and travel, and old movies...

I started reading because of Comic Books. I was maybe eleven or twelve when I bought my first comic book. To some people it might be surprising that Batman can lead to War And Peace and Moby Dick, but it did. Well actually Batman led to a few Dean Koontz novels first, then it led to The Hobbit, which led to Crime And Punishment - which is painful after a lifetime of comic books. When I was accepted into SVA I was living in NJ and I had to take the bus to school every day. It was an hour going in, and an hour coming back out. Two hours a day of sitting on a bus doing nothing. One of my teachers drew in a sketchbook on the train and suggested that. I couldn't do it. I decided to read, but I figured that if I was going to be reading two hours a day for four years, I might at least make it interesting. I decided to read what I thought were the 100 greatest books of all time. The list was based on what I had heard, some collections, teachers advice, etc. I'm not saying that these ARE the 100 greatest books of all time, in fact after having read some of them, a couple should come off. I don't see why In Cold Blood is on there and Descartes, may deserve to be on there - I'll never know because I can't get through it. I'd like to add that this list was written in roughly 1994, way before I had internet access so I couldn't just Google "The 100 Greatest Books Of All Time" the way we can now.

I had read the Crime And Punishment comic book years before and so it' seemed like a good place to start. I can thank comic books for introducing me to mythology, Shakespeare, history and a great many other things.

The list is not really in order of my favorites, that would take too much time, and why they are not numbered. My favorite on this list however is David Copperfield, despite the occasional "Your favorite book is on a magician?" comment...Yes it is I say.

Well here it is, the books I have not read yet are in red.

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
Candide by Voltaire
Thus Spake Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche
Tom Saywer by Mark Twain
Swann's Way by Marcel Proust
The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
The Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund Freud
The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon
Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
The Stranger by Albert Camus
The Metamorphosis  Franz Kafka
No Exit Jean-Paul Sartre
The World as Will and Idea by Arthur Schopenhauer
The Aenid by Virgil
The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli
Pragmatism by William James
On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes
Discourse on Method by Rene Descartes
Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
Vasari's Lives of the Artists by Giorgio Vasari
Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
The Call of the Wild by Jack London
Lady Chatterley's Lover by D. H. Lawrence
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Paradise Lost by John Milton
The Three Mustketeers by Alexandre Dumas
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Dracula by Bram Stoker
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
King Arthur & Excalibur Stories/ Le Morte d'Arthur by Thomas Malory
Stranger In A Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller
The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen
Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Gargantua and Pantagruel by Francois Rabelais
Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift
Middlemarch by George Eliot
Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
Walden by Henry David Thoreau
Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
Animal Farm by George Orwell
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
Oedipus And Antigone by Sophocles
The Odyssey by Homer
The Iliad by Homer
Ulysses by James Joyce
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Complete Works  by William Shakespeare
Metmorphises by Ovid
The Faerie Queene  by Edmund Spenser
Bosewell’s Life Of Johnson (The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D.  by James Boswell)
Of Mice And Men  by John Steinbeck
The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
The King James Bible
The Epic of Gilgamesh
1001 Nights
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Short Stories by Edgar Allen Poe
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
Through The Looking Glass And Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Louis Carroll
War Of The Worlds by H. G. Wells
The Time Machine by H. G. Wells
1984 by George Orwell
Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri 
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
Emma by Jane Austin
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper
The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

I put Shakespeare on the list as the "Collected Works" even though I think Hamlet, Macbeth,  Othello, and King Lear all should be on there separately. Henry Miller is on there because the book was raved about as the greatest thing on the planet before I read it. Miller is a poor mans Hemingway. The book is a vulgar version of "The Sun Also Rises" and doesn't come close to it's equal. In my opinion, it doesn't belong on this list.
If I were to update this list today I would add:
Mythology by Edith Hamilton, The Story Of Philosophy by Will Durant,
and  Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt. Stephen Crane's poetry is shockingly good, and I prefer his short stories to The Red Badge Of Courage. Of everything I have read of Crane's, it is my least favorite...I love The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams and it gets special mention, but I'm not sure I can put it on the list with those above...not yet anyway.

I'm still working on this list even though I move away from it from time to time. I am in the middle of "The Story Of Civilization" Volume V by Will Durant and I plan to finish the series. I am also on Dicken's Old Curiosity Shop. I was actually surprised to realize I have not read either "The Count Of Monte Christo or Three Musketeers" No excuse for that and one of those is definitely next.

The idea for this post came from a FB conversation with a friend - Thanks John!

Friday, March 14, 2014

On The Easel - Early Process Shots

I haven't painted a 12 x 40 since 2009. They are the hardest paintings I make. They have to be painted as fast as I can in order to get to everything that is lined up before it rots and changes color.
For the first three days I wind up getting up at around eight am and painting until one or two in the morning...I'll add to this post as things progress.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

An Update To The Vermeer Post

A friend of mine on Facebook shared this in response to my below post on Vermeer. I thought I'd share it here as well.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Did Vermeer Paint In A Giant Box?

 I regularly read James Gurney's Blog called Gurney Journey. Recently he posted on an experiment of the Camera Obscura done by Jane Morris Pack, a painter and educator in Greece. The short of it is that she thinks Vermeer built something similar to the box below. It  allows the artist to sit inside the box and whatever is outside the box gets projected inside, but upside down, so that the artist can then trace the image.

I admire Jane Morris Peck's research, and am not saying she is wrong or arguing with this in any way. I simply don't know if it is true or not. I am also thankful that James Gurney posted it on his great blog. My issue with all of it is WHY? No one seems to have an opinion on this. Why in the world would anyone want to sit inside a dark box and paint with the people you should be talking to sitting outside the box, behind you...

Does anyone else think this is completely insane? Wouldn't it be easier to just learn how to draw? Talk to the models and enjoy the work? I couldn't sit in that box if I were on salary.

To the left is a shot of a painting made with device compared with a shot of the projected image. Is the image on the left so complicated that it needs to be traced? Is the painting on the right so well done that it justifies the means? I'd say no on both counts. I'm not too shy to say that I could paint that from life...and before you send me messages telling me I'm full of myself, I personally know about a dozen other people who can paint that just as well, if not better - from life, with no tricks. Again, I am not insulting the painting, or the ability of the person who painted it, I am questioning the need for the device.

It reminds me of the old acting story about Dustin Hoffman and Sir Lawrence Olivier.
Legend has it that while they were working together on Marathon Man, to prepare for a scene where he needed to look like a wreck, Hoffman  went for a few days without sleep to look the part. Olivier asked him what was going on and Hoffman replied that he was trying to be convincing in the role. Olivier replied, "My dear boy, why don't you just try acting". I feel the same way about using these devices, "Why don't you just try drawing?"

To visit the Camera Obscura Project website:

 In looking at Vermeer's work online though, I did notice something I find odd. Anyone who has ever painted from life knows that the two paintings to the left have poses which are extraordinarily hard to hold, almost impossible. Are they saying that Vermeer sat in a box and painted a girl holding a milk jug? Have they painted people from life? Most models have a hard time with normal standing poses. Look at the head tilt, any idea how much that will hurt her neck and shoulder?
I see the situation going something like this:  Vermeer sets up the model with the milk jug and gets into the box. After about twenty minutes, she says "My hand hurts." He says "What?" - because he is in the box, so he gets up, and gets out of the box, and she says "My hand hurts." So he says "Can you give me ten minutes?" She says "I'll try" So he gets back in the box and she is shaking all over the place so he gets back out of the box and they take a break. Then she says, "This hurts, can we change the pose, maybe I can just hold a glass of milk?"
 "No!" he says, "You must be pouring the milk into the bowl, next to the bread, in the otherwise empty room, or it will ruin the painting!" Then he gets back in the box, and after five minutes she says "My hand hurts.", and he says "What?" because he can't hear her - he's stuck in a box, so he gets up, and gets out of the box and she says "I need another break...."
And the painting below that? Try holding that pose for more than a minute. No one seems to be talking about that aspect of it. My guess would be that he had elaborate mannequins to hold the drapery in place while he worked on it in front of him.That way the models would only have to pose for the faces and hands. I once put a hat on a stick so that the model didn't have to sit there while I painted his hat.

The last time I heard something like this it was in regards to the famous Van Eyck painting of the Arnolfini Portrait.
It was claimed that he too used some sort of lens or projection device. There is a great article in Scientific American showing that idea to be most likely untrue. A link to that article:

I have no idea whether or not Vermeer or Van Eyck used these tools or not. I'd like to think that they didn't, that they were just amazing painters and everyone making these claims is just jealous. But then again I was completely convinced that Milli Vanilli sang their own stuff.

I don't use these tools because they don't interest me. I also don't worry about the technical level of my work. Would my portraits and waves be better if I used this box or traced them...yeah, probably. But I don't care. I'd rather have an honest picture. This is how good I am, period, no tricks. I don't see any reason it has to be any other way. To me, having something to say, the human element, honest skill, and personality, are all more important elements of painting, which are lost when using these devices...not to mention that, I like being able to say "I freehanded that!"

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Color Palette For Painting Ocean Waves

 This post is by special request, and since I promised...

12 x 16 Oil on Panel
This one is a larger version of the 6 x 8 study
 The first thing I learned about painting the color of waves was that color is not even close to being the most difficult thing about painting them. For me, the most difficult thing about painting waves was that the values are so close together that just making something slightly too dark or too light can ruin the picture. Value, not color, was and still is, the most difficult thing to figure out when painting a wave. I painted several waves in black and white, from black and white photos, before moving on to color.

Two new 6 x 8 Wave Studies - Currently Available at Scottsdale Fine Art
 The most important thing I observed from walking on the beach, is that waves are grey. The easiest way to make grey, is black and white, All of the colors pictured below have black in them. All of my wave paintings have black in them. I can't tell you how many times I have heard, "black deadens the painting, nature has no black in it, waves need to be painted in full color, YOU can't use black"...and on and on and on. Well, I use black, a lot of black, actually.  The first mixture on the list is straight Black and White. You don't have to use black if you have your head dead set against it. You can grey the colors with the opposites if you prefer. A touch of orange for example, greys the green and blue nicely, and I do that as well. Another great way to grey these colors is to use "Winsor & Newton Raw Umber Green Shade" - It is one of my favorite colors.

The below is a sample only. I do not mix these bands up every time I paint, nor do I use only these colors. It is just to give an idea of what I use.

8 x 10 Demo Available for purchase. Link at bottom of post.
#1. Straight Black and White.

#1a. This is straight black. I put this on the page to show that no wave painting I make ever comes close to going full black. They all stay very much on the light side of the spectrum.

#2 - White, Black, Pthalo Green, a touch of Pthalo Blue.

#3. In between these two color bands I do a lot of mixing.

#4. White, Black, Pthalo Blue, Diox Purple

#5. White, Black, Pthalo Green, a touch of Pthalo Blue, and Raw Sienna.

#6. White, Black, Pthalo Green, Raw Sienna

#6a. Pthalo Green and  Raw Sienna without Black in it. Look at the difference! Looks more like the color of grass than an ocean wave.

#7. White, Black, Pthalo Blue, and a touch of Pthalo Green. The opposite of mixture #2.

I do a lot of mixing in between the bands of color. It is impossible to tell someone exactly what color things in nature are because the change slightly so often. This is is just the basic colors I use, but by no means all of them. I would say, that I have mixed thousands of slight color variations in the time that I have been painting waves. I am thinking of doing another ebook on wave painting, and going into much more detail, but they do take quite a bit of time.

Below is a shot of me with some of the wave paintings. It is difficult to understand the sizes online so I posted a picture of myself in there to give a feeling for the size of the large one. I'm holding the painting pictured at the top and the study for it, also to give an idea of the sizes.

This one took a long time to post, hope you liked it...If anyone is interested in buying the color palette demo pictured above,, it is $100. plus shipping. It comes with a print of the sample painting as well. Click the Paypal link below.