Monday, May 13, 2013

The Sun Always Rises

This weekend was the installation of my largest painting yet -- an 8-1/2 x 3 ft commission. I'm honored to have been chosen to create this masterpiece, and grateful for the people who helped make it happen.

This painting is of one of the largest working freighters on the Great Lakes - The Lee Tregurtha. My clients told me the story of their adventure taking a cruise on this ship. I will never look at a freighter again without wondering if it is as tastefully appointed as this one. Their photos of the interior showed red velvet, brass, and leather, and a master chef on board. This was no ordinary cruise -- no casino or swimming pool on board -- but plenty of walking room and lots to see along the way. The two smaller boats in the painting are my client's 40-ft cabin cruiser and a sailboat he once owned.

I painted this over the course of about 3-4 months, in 5 or 6 layers. The first layer was a wash of color to indicate where everything would be placed. My set-up in my studio was two large easels supporting this massive custom-made canvas. Standard stretcher bars and lengths of wood only go to 8 feet long. This painting, at 8-1/2 feet, needed an expert to create a frame strong and supported well enough to keep the center from warping. The fine linen canvas covering it had to be re-stretched a couple of times to make it tight and smooth.

Once the initial layer was dry, I sketched and re-sketched the sun and boats to be sure of accurate size and placement.

Another layer or two of paint was added, and then the process of filling in the detail. I didn't want to start this step until I knew I had 3 straight days of nothing to do but focus on this painting.

When it was done, the painting had to dry for about 2 months to be sure the thickness of the paint was cured enough to be able to transport it without damaging it.

I thank God every day for the gifts I have been given, and give glory to His works!

Sunday, May 5, 2013


A dear friend asked if I would paint a portrait of her cats. I love to paint animals but it is very difficult to get them to hold still. So I generally go to the critter, when possible, and get to know it better. Animals, like people, all have personalities. I like to try to capture that in my work. In this case I took quite a number of reference photos because it became apparent that I would not be able to get all of the animals posed in one good shot. I took the photos all in the same room, under the same lighting conditions and then stitched the best ones together in Photoshop to create a composite. The hardest part about doing that is making sure that they are true to size, compared to the others. The other difficulty is that, no matter how good your camera is, the color in the photo is not always what is actually there in front of you. That's why it's so important to take notes and do studies. When it was almost done, my friend came and made a few suggestions, based on her knowledge of her own pets. I love the way the personalities came together.