Tuesday, May 27, 2014

"Tell Us A Story" Mickey And Minnie Process Shots

  I always start with a drawing of Burnt Umber and White. This time I filled int the black areas first. I draw free-hand with a paint brush, directly from life.

 Above is a shot of the set. The statues were on my grandmother's mantle for over thirty years.

 This is after the first layer of paint. I was happy with how far I got on this one and how fast. Not every painting goes so smoothly.

 I wanted a feeling that they were in a play, on stage, telling the audience a story.
A red curtain worked perfectly with that idea, and with the black of the characters.
I must say though that crushed velvet isn't the easiest type of drapery to paint.

The finished painting!
"Tell Us A Story"
Original - 12 x 15 Oil On Linen
Limited Edition of 195 - 14 x 18
Available through:

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Some Films I Love That Were...Different

Well, It's Memorial Day Weekend! Barbecues, and parties, etc, and some people like watching movies this weekend. It's the Summer Blockbuster weekend! And although I can't wait to see the new X-Men movie, I'm not going this weekend. I'll wait three weeks and then go late on a Monday night. It reduces the risk of encountering drunk kids and stupid. A friend recently commented that my lists about movies are often about popular and major studio pictures, and that I don't post on lesser known films. It's hard to put together a list of movies you think many people haven't seen. My attitude is usually that if a lot of people haven't seen a movie - there's a reason. I also have to keep in mind, that I don't always like what everyone else likes, and some of the films on this list prove that.
I left off the list some of the Indie hits like Lost In Translation, and The Royal Tenenbaums. Both are great movies, but I think most people who like movies have seen them.

*This list is not about movies that I am calling great films, it's about movies that I liked, sometimes when not many other people did. The Amateurs got very low ratings while everyone seemed to love A History Of Violence, and I have never met anyone who saw Another Earth.  I tried to mix it up. Some Sci-Fi, Horror, Romantic Comedy, A Play, A Drama, and one that's a bit of a mixture of a few.

Twice Upon A Yesterday (1998) - Lena Headey, Douglas Henshall, Penélope Cruz
Also known as The Main With Rain In His Shoes -"A shambling, out-of-work actor, desperate to win back the affections of his ex-girlfriend, unexpectedly stumbles upon a way to turn back the clock." IMBD
This is one of my favorite movies. A great quote keeps popping up in it "Don't look for this years birds, in last years nest"

The Amateurs (2005) - Jeff Bridges, Ted Danson, Joe Pantoliano. Abunch of broke small town morons decide to make money by making an adult film. I thought Ted Danson was hilarious in it.
It got destroyed on Rotten Tomatoes...I loved it.

Swimming With Sharks (1994) - Kevin Spacey, Frank Whaley, Michelle Forbes
Kevin Spacey plays a Hollywood Producer/ Director you'd like to kill. A great line in it: "Never go to a meeting that can start without you"

Another Earth (2011)  - A tiny planet appears in the sky one night and a college aged girl gets changed by it. I'm not giving anything else away. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it for a low budget film. It is probably considered Sci-Fi but there are very few special effects. It's not that kind of film.

The Secretary (1995) - James Spader, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Based on a short story from Bad Behavior by Mary Gaitskill, "Explores the relationship between a sexually dominant man and his submissive secretary." Yeah, that's one way to put it - Don't watch this one with the kids...

Just Like Heaven (2005)  - Mark Ruffalo and Reese Witherspoon in what some might see as your typical cute romantic comedy. I caught this one night at three am when I couldn't sleep. I watched a few minutes and thought it was silly. As I kept watching I thought his acting considering the subject was impressive. I wound up watching the whole thing, and loved it.

Dummy (2002) -  Adrien Brody, Milla Jovovich Written and Directed by Greg Pritikin. About a guy who can't function in the real world therefore he becomes a ventriloquist so the Dummy can talk for him. And if that doesn't make you want to see it...I thought it was great but this is a strange movie. I've suggested it to a few people who absolutely hated it. - just a warning.

Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008)  Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks. Written and directed by Kevin Smith. Of all of Smith's films this might be my favorite. Not at all what the title suggests.

Warm Bodies (2013) - Ok, not an Indie film, and not what anyone would call brilliant but there is a joke in the beginning which got my attention and it makes you realize that the movie is being told from the Zombies perspective. Just based on that I had to see where it was going...I thought it was cute, and fun, and different. I usually hate zombie movies, if you've seen one you've seen them all. Not this time.


A History Of Violence (2005) - Viggo Mortensen, Maria Bello, Ed Harris, William Hurt. This one wasn't really unheard of since it won an Academy Award, yet I meet a lot of people who haven't seen it. I think the title scares some people away. It is kinda violent...but a fantastic movie.

Crash (1996) - James Spader, Holly Hunter - Couples "get off" by getting into car accidents...awesome.

The Guard (2011) - Brendan Gleeson, Don Cheadle, Mark Strong
An Irish comedy about a regular Irish cop, Gleeson, who has to work with American FBI agent, Cheadle to stop some drug smugglers. The absolute funniest movie I have seen in years, if you have sort of a bent sense of humor.

The Big Kahuna (1999) - Kevin Spacey, Danny DeVito, and Peter Fascinelli. Not just number one on this list, one of my favorite movies of all time. Three guys, in a room, talking for the whole movie. Nothing gets blown up or eaten by aliens. Danny Devito's little speech at the end should be taught in schools.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

More Illegal Prints! canvaschamp.com Is Stealing Artwork!

Hey, I'm getting a little sick of this!
Once again there is a website selling prints of my work illegally.
The website http://www.canvaschamp.com/ has two of my images available.
Thankfully the reviews are that the prints are just awful.
What ever happened to a Robin Hood complex, can't they wait till I'm rich to steal from me!

"Pairs" 12 x 24 Oil On Linen. This one sold to a collector in December of 2012.

 "A Shoulder To Cry On" 10 x 20 Oil On Panel
This one sold out of the Ridgewood Art Institute also in 2012.

The interesting thing is that both paintings were included in the Salon International at the Greenhouse Gallery in San Antonio. I believe the images were taken off of their website. The gallery takes photos of the paintings that come in for the show themselves and usually posts hi-res images on their website.

I called them on the phone. I of course got a very unhelpful employee but I was surprised that when I asked him how he felt about working for a company which was stealing images of paintings and making prints without permission, he replied "If we are doing that than I would not approve". The guy was clearly foreign, most likely from India, and he said the company was American and located in Georgia.  

 They seem to be registered: 
Canvas Champ
 Nishant Shah
10 Treyburn Ct.
Greer, South Carolina 29650
(864) 848-5680

Make sure you complain to Canvas Champ - There is also a website called Canvas Chimp, which seems to be legit.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Top Ten Worst Movies I Have Ever Seen!

Every once in a while I like to post a blog which has nothing to do with painting, work, or art. Something fun. I think it is important to do other things besides work, like read books and watch movies. I love movies... old movies, new movies, almost any movie. A movie has to be REALLY bad for me not to like it. I did not to include bad old movies on the list because I feel that even a bad old movie has a certain charm to it.  I was looking at a list of the Worst Films according to Wikipedia and found that I didn't agree with most on the list because most of them had some entertainment value. In order for me to not like a movie: First I start thinking about other things or what the actors are doing in the movie. If I am watching a movie and thinking "Bruce Willis looks bored", probably not a great film. Second, I think to myself or say out loud "this is pretty bad". And last I get up and leave or turn it off. If I turn it off, that says something.

Please keep in mind I am not a paid movie critic, and while doing all of this I really should have been painting...

10. A Good Day To Die Hard - I started with this one because I really wanted to see it. I wanted it to be good! I was stunned at how awful it is. Bruce Willis is just walking through it like he doesn't care. In fact that element makes it sort of funny, except that it's a Die Hard movie. Rumor is they are making one more. I'd like to see them go back to the idea of the first movie. A regular guy stuck in the wrong place who does some amazing things, gets lucky on a few, and cracks a few jokes along the way. I think everyone involved realizes how bad this one was so I am expecting good things from the next one...we'll see.

9. The Hulk (2003) - I'm actually mad that this one is on the list. I love comic book movies, almost all of them. No one should even let Ang Lee on the set of one from now on...The last thing a comic book movie should be is boring. I'd rather watch Daredevil again than sit through this one...But, at least Mark Ruffalo has a chance to make up for it, and I think he already has. Hopefully, he gets his own movie some time soon.

8. Snakes On A Plane - Samuel L. Jackson has been in some of the best movies I have seen, and some of the worst. Usually he shines no matter how bad the movie is. He is the only thing in the remake of Robocop which made me smile. I've been told to watch this one again, that it is so bad it's good...but I just don't have that much free time right now.

7. Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo - I realized that any movie having Rob Schneider in it has a really good chance of being terrible.

6. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby - Will Ferrell is an interesting actor to me. I loved Melinda and Melinda, and Stranger Than Fiction is one of my favorites, so how he manages to also be in some of the worst movies ever made is...well, it just is. Elf isn't on the list but if the list went to 20...I couldn't wear a diaper in a movie - I don't care how much money they gave me.

5.  I Now Pronounce You Chuck And Larry - Adam Sandler is the only leading actor on this list to appear twice. Unlike Will Ferrell, I don't think he has ever made a great movie. I liked Big Daddy, but I keep waiting for him to do something fantastic. This wasn't it.

4. Piranha 3DD - I don't even know why I bothered. This one is actually my fault. I knew it was going to bad before I started but thought, maybe it won't live up to my expectations...it did.

3. Movie 43 - Richard Roeper called it "the Citizen Kane of bad movies. So bad that I watched it in awe of how bad it was...but I finished it, which says something. The scene with Kate Winslet and Hugh Jackman is memorable, I will give it that. It's not funny, but it's memorable.

2. Mystery Men (1999) - William H. Macy and Pee Wee Herman in a movie, how can it be bad!? This movie is the only movie I have ever seen in a theater, and walked out of.


1. Jack And Jill - Well, I didn't see it in the theater, but I did turn it off...If I were Al Pacino I would just deny being in it. When someone asks, he should say "wasn't me". By far the worst movie I have ever seen.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Disneyland's Original Prospectus Revealed

"Thanks to an anonymous benefactor, Boing Boing is pleased to present the first-ever look at the original Disneyland prospectus. These extremely high-resolution scans were made from one of the three sets of pitch-documents Roy and Walt Disney used to raise the money to build Disneyland. There are no archive copies of this document. Neither the Walt Disney Company nor the Walt Disney Family Museum have it. But we certainly hope both organizations will download these documents for inclusion in their collections" From BoingBoing.com

This is taken from a blog called BoingBoing, click here to read the full article... http://boingboing.net/2014/05/20/disneylandprospectus.html

Disneyland Original Prospectus: https://archive.org/details/Disneylandoriginalprospectus

Sunday, May 18, 2014

New Minnies - (And An Older One I FIxed)

 Lemons And Cherries II
 Lemons And Cherries I

I always like to do two of a subject. Never the same painting but companions that go together.
I've painted maybe one lemon before, not many. I loved the little "noses" they had. They were so much fun to paint, I think there might be a lot more lemons in the near future.

The above two "Pear And Purple Grapes I And II" I have never seen grapes as purple as these were...
It is interesting to notice how bright the colors look in the painting, and how washed out they look in the set-up next to it. Maybe it's just in my head but I swear it is more vibrant in real life than it looks in the photo. The main reason I work from real life!
 "Apple And Plums"

This was an older painting that I was going to sand down because I thought the composition was to flat across. I decided to give myself one hour to fix it and see what happens. I repainted the background and added the shadows of the stems, which I thought gave it some life. I am really happy I didn't take the sandpaper to it!

All are 6 x 8 Oil on Panel

Friday, May 16, 2014

Why I Don't Trace Photographs When Making A Painting.

If you have a glance at this Blog on a semi-regular basis, you already know how I feel about this subject. We have some new followers who have been asking if my Disney work is made from photographs. Nope! I work from life.

 Lately it seems as if there is an increase in the defense of tracing in painting. I realize that posting things like this pretty much alienates me from 90% of the current art world, but as they say - I gotta be me.

In a recent post, on a very popular blog, the author defended tracing as "not cheating". He said that it is perfectly OK, not only to trace, but to actually print out, and paint over photographs!!! WHAT!!?? How is that "not cheating".  Actually, if you tell people you traced, it's not technically cheating. But who does that!? Cheating means " to act dishonestly or unfairly in order to gain an advantage". Well, if you trace to make your work look "more real" than you have the ability to do without tracing, and you do it to get ahead of those who aren't tracing, to make yourself look good, well that's cheating!

I'm not going to throw insults or tell anyone what they should or shouldn't do, that is not my place. What I can do, because this is my blog, is tell you why I choose not to trace or grid in my work. I am going to talk only about tracing. If you are printing out photographs and painting over them and passing them off as original oil paintings, the art world doesn't need you. Thank you for playing, please go stand in traffic.

Above is a shot of the Disney painting "Tell Us A Story" and the set behind it. This is a simple set up but often I will build very elaborate sets and work from those. The main reason I do this is because I hate "photo lighting". Photos seem to flatten everything out, the depth is lost. One of the easiest ways to spot a still life that was painted from traced photos is that even though the detail is often amazing, there is a flatness to the painting. The richness and depth are lost for the detail. I'm not saying I don't work from photographs, sometimes you have to. My waves are painted from looking at photographs. I never trace them. I use them as reference and I make a lot of changes. Most of the time I like my painting better than the photograph.

It's no secret that tracing makes it easier. I know that I could work far faster and more accurately if I did it. So why not? Because I want to keep "me" in the painting. Tracing is a performance enhancer. No two ways about it. If you trace, you are making your life easier. One of the comments on the blog I mentioned, was that tracing was like an athlete using steroids, something I said years ago myself. The author argued that it was not like using steroids because that is against the rules of sports and art "has no rules". True, but music has no rules either and not singing your own music didn't work out so well for Milli Vanilli.  Baltimora, the band who gave us Tarzan Boy (or that song from the Listerine commercial) also is accused of not being honest with who actually sang the song  but no one seems to care. But if it's not him singing in this video, then he is  lip-synching. Speaking of  lip-synching, is that cheating? Would you pay to go see a concert if you knew the artist was going to lip-synch the whole night?  If the sign said "Tonight Only! Watch Brittany Spears Lip-Synch her entire first album!" Empty theater, but hey, it's easier!

I think it is safe to say that whenever the audience finds out that something is honest we are impressed, really impressed. The first time I heard Lady Gaga sing acapella I was blown away. I said "wow, she can actually sing", because before I heard that I just thought it was synthesizers and producers making her look good.  When I see someone paint an amazing demo from life, I am always blown away. Talent, and more importantly, skill are wonderful things, and if you were born with it or just worked really hard, be proud! Now, I do know a few very talented painters who have traced because they had a deadline, and they needed to get the painting done fast because they needed the money. I still consider this cheating, but it's a damn good reason to cheat.

 In sports, who wasn't let down when they found out Lance Armstrong used performance enhancers? I was. The same thing should be true about art. When I found out that Jeff Koons hired people to make his work and he then signs his own name to it, I lost what little respect for him I had.
A giant balloon dog - really? Millions for that, I'd rather see the millions go to someone sketching people on the street corner, at least that's honest. What about a mathematician using a calculator? Is that cheating? No, but if you find out that someone can do complex math in their head isn't it more impressive? I remember when I was in school we were not allowed to use calculators in math class. I hear that nowadays they can. To this day I try to do simple math, (tips, measuring, cutting panels, etc) in my head just to keep my skills up. Shouldn't the same be true for drawing and painting? When we meet someone who can speak five languages, aren't we impressed. If you found out they had a mini translator in their ear, wouldn't it take away from that? Admit it, it's not as impressive.

I feel that if I traced, I would loose some of myself, that I would disappear from my work, even if just a little. Who we are, what we can do, all become blurred when we rely on a mechanical device. It becomes all about how it looks, and what it has to say is eliminated...I always use Toulouse-Lautrec as an example. Could you imagine the loss if he had traced? Look at that personality! I think that tracing shows a lack of understanding on both the person who makes a painting by that means, and the buyer that buys it. I would love to hear that collectors were asking, "Was it traced? before they bought a painting! If I could start just one trend, that would be it. Getting people to go into galleries and ask - "Was it traced?"

 Above is a shot of one of my long still lifes. These have to be done extremely quickly because they rot. Usually I have to spend the first three days working from eight or nine am to between two and three am. That's a long day! It would be far easier if I just took a photo and worked on it for as long as it took. I am willing to sacrifice a little of the detail for the depth, and color I can get by working from life. I like to think I get more personality by working from life as well but that point may be debatable. I could shoot a bunch of photos, print them out and paint over them...but I might feel a bit dirty if I did that. The most important reason I work from life - it's fun, it's hard, but it's fun.

It was said on this other blog that it doesn't matter how the painting was made as long as the end result looks good. I couldn't disagree more. I still believe that "how" we do something is as important, if not more important then the end result. Two sayings I remember from being a kid: "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing" and "It's not whether you win or loose, it's how you play the game" Life just depends on which one of those two you believe in.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Random Thought

I've noticed that many of today's "artists" are very 
concerned with what happened in the past. " What was Rembrandt's favorite medium?,  How did they prep their panels? What did Sergeant eat for breakfast? What bugs did they mix into their paint?  Did they trace or didn't they? And on and on and on! Reading history is wonderful, as long as it is used to discover the new. 

Dwelling on the past and obsessively trying to mimic what was done 500 years ago? Well it's a good thing Doctors don't do the same thing, I don't think we need to bring back bloodletting.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Disney Fine Art - "Things From Wonderland" - Processs Shots

I'm not sure is anyone noticed but I haven't been able to post as often over the last few months because my schedule was CRAZY! Good crazy of course! Well, I should be back posting on a regular basis. I thought I would start with some step by step posts on the recent Disney paintings.

I started this painting the last week of December. Normally a painting of this size and complexity should have taken about three months at eight to ten hours a day. I finished it by the end of January which meant twelve to sixteen hour days, seven days a week.

 This was about half-way through the drawing stage which took two full days to complete.


Below is a shot of the drawing with the set behind it. Some of the items I had, some I bought,  some I had to build just for this painting, and a few things I just made up...

"Things From Wonderland" 22 x 26 Oil on Linen

Giclée on Canvas 22 x 26
 Limited Edition of 195 available through
Disney Fine Art