29 March 2009


charcoal on Strathmore drawing, 14" x 10".

i worked a few weeks ago with a new model, an austrian woman who is here as a student in physical therapy. she is working as a stable hand with a local horse breeder and aspires to become a professional jockey in america, and wanted to model because "i have never tried it before."

kat proudly describes herself as descended from four gypsy grandparents. like many of the young models who work for me she is independent minded, candid and self assured. it is getting harder for me to keep up with them.

watercolor on Arches CP 300 gsm, 12" x 9".

this is the life portrait done in charcoal pencil and painted in a flat, tesselated, almost graphical novel style. it's not corrected from a photograph because it turned out very well. (i like the days when i have my hand!) it suggests her secure attitude but unfortunately isn't turned enough to display her remarkable profile. i will post a smaller profile portrait soon.

background is indanthrone blue, which the photo makes too light valued and blue rather than violet blue. hair is sepia with perylene maroon. flesh is raw sienna wash tinted with burnt sienna.

28 March 2009


watercolor on Arches CP 300gsm 14" x 10".

last christmas jan and i attended a bracebridge dinner at the ahwahnee hotel in yosemite valley. a festive and memorable affair, and we enjoyed the old hotel and the very colorful and gabby staff. someone should do a book about those people! we had perfect timing, too ... drove in with chains the night a snow storm passed through, and got out just as a new storm was coming in. (photos are posted on my facebook page.)

anyway, this painting was done from a photo of me all dressed up with no place to go except dinner, in my new olive italian suit, mostly m.graham olive green, perylene green with some phthalo green or phthalo blue accents on a sepia foundation. chair is cadmium scarlet and all kinds of scrap paint thrown in. the face is mostly burnt sienna with cadmium red and phthalo blue modeling, but it is washed out in the photo by the dark values.

leah's hands

watercolor on Arches CP 600gsm, 14" x 10".

leah is a lovely young massage therapist who has been working with me and my wife, and on recommendation to good friends. she is one of a kind, a sweet, inquisitive and generous spirit with an amazing skill in her craft and remarkable personal integrity.

i took a few photos of her hands after one of our 2+ hour sessions, and liked this photo of one hand supporting the other enough to work it up into a painting.

the background is three layers of quinacridone violet, muted and darkened with a layer of phthalo blue and two of benzimida maroon. it's in that mystical zone between a spiritual purple and an earthy brown. i used the glazes to nudge the color around, but mainly to tamp down a whitish speckling that occurred because the arches paper pushed up a fine texture of cellulose fibers as it was wetted. (i have had a lot of problems with arches papers lately. more on that in another post.)

the hands were painted entirely in the most intense, lightfast and transparent paints i know of -- nickel dioxine yellow, pyrrole orange, quinacridone red, phthalo blue, phthalo green and quinacridone orange (i think there is even some dioxazine violet in there) -- all heavily diluted into crystalline tints. the image was built up with layer after layer of these watery hues ... mostly the red, oranges and green, with yellow, blue and purple for accent and modeling. in noon sunlight the painting shimmers.