Thursday, February 26, 2015

Day 3, painting 3 of my 5 day FB Challenge

Day 3, painting 3 of my 5 day FB Challenge. This is a painting of a Tufted Titmouse - 13 x 7 - Gouache & watercolor

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Day 2 of 5 Painting a Day Challenge

Day 2, painting 2 of the painting a day for 5 days Challenge. This one is titled "Tranquility on the Farm". It's another seasonal painting and is available @

5 day challenge - post a painting a day for 5 days.

I have been nominated to post 1 painting for the next 5 days by Richard Godshall. My first painting will be "The Whitehouse @ Camp Horseshoe". Anyone who has ever camped at the Horseshoe Scout Reservation will know this building. It brings back fond memories of my youth as well as the good times I had at camp as an adult volunteer.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Reworking a painting I was ready to throw out

 Here's the original painting I just wasn't feeling. I was ready to throw it out and start over, but I decided to see what I could do with gouache and rework the colors all while keeping it loose.

Below is the finished piece which now feels like summer. I was trying to capture the warmth.

That's the beauty of working with gouache. It is opaque enough to cover the original layers of paint. You do have to be careful, if the paint is too wet it will just reactivate the dried gouache and make it muddy.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Colonial Williamsburg - Watercolor Painting

Painted in the studio from a photo I took when visiting Colonial Williamsburg. I always try to paint with a unique perspective.

6 1/4 x 9 3/4
Medium - Watercolor
$275 matted & framed
Frame size 11x14

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

How to photograph your artwork - as explained by Scott Burdick

Whether you want to make prints of your paintings, share your work online or simply keep a record of a picture before you sell it, it is important to know how to take a professional photograph of a painting
In this age of digital cameras, I’m often asked how this changes the process of photographing artwork. The main advantage of a digital camera is that you can review the effect of your shot, the focus, the exposure, and any glare issues immediately while you’re shooting, rather than waiting days for pictures to develop only to find out something went wrong. Combined with the ability to work on your photos afterwards in software such as Photoshop, the ease of storing and backing up your photos, as well as the ease of simply e-mailing the image of your paintings to a magazine or show, all make me very lacking in nostalgia for the days before the digital revolution.

But with that said, the basics are still the same as they were with older film cameras. There are many different ways to shoot a painting, but I’ve attempted to explain the set-up I generally use, which is a method known as “cross polarisation”.

The reason I use this system is because I often paint rather thick oil paintings that can have significant glare issues when photographing.

If you aren’t an impasto painter or you work in a flat medium like watercolour, you might not need such an advanced set-up but hopefully you will pick up some tips along the way.


These two close-up shots of my painting show the importance of using linear polarising filters. The painting at the top is obscured by glare hitting the surface, while the shot below, taken with a filter, is much cleaner and more professional.

The camera

Any good camera, digital or traditional, will work with this set-up. I happen to use a Nikon D7000 digital SLR camera with a 50mm lens. The reason I use a 50mm lens to photograph artwork is that it has less glass internally than a compound zoom lens, which means it will give you a sharper image. It is fine to use a zoom lens – just make sure to look at the numbers on the lens to make sure you are zoomed to around 50mm or above. If you us as smaller number, say 35mm, then such a wide-angle will distort your painting outward and you’ll see the straight edges of the frame curve and bulge toward the edges, distorting the finished photo of your painting.

The filter

I use a linear polarising filter over the lens. Do not use a circular polarising filter, even though they are more common these days (because they work better with autofocus). No matter what the camera person at the store tells you, you want to make sure you get a linear polarising filter or it won’t work properly and will leave large portions of your painting full of glare. I find the autofocus usually still works fine, but if not, just manually focus.

The lighting

I use two 500-watt tungsten (3200K) lights – any tungsten light will work, so don’t think you have to get the particular ones I have. I choose such powerful lights because the larger the painting, the further away the lights have to be to avoid “fall off” (in other words, one side of the painting becoming darker than the other).

If you’re shooting smaller paintings, you can get away with a single light or lower wattage. The polarising filters cut down a significant amount of the light reaching the camera sensor as well, which is another reason to have a good, strong light.

The gels

If you are using a linear polarising filter, these will hang in front of your lights. My lights came with optional frames with clips that make it easy to hang the gels in front of the light, but I’ve seen people rig up the same sort of thing with wire or coat hangers.

The tripod

You will want to always use a tripod with this set-up, since you’ll have to use very slow exposures when shooting with polarising filters.

1. Position your lights

Make sure the lights are positioned at approximately a 45 degree angle to the painting you’re photographing. I put both lights to one side so I get a slight shadow on the brushstrokes. You can also put the lights on opposite sides at 45 degree angles, which will flatten out the texture and might be good if you have wrinkles in paper, or crackling on an older painting. As a guide, I generally position the lights about four metres away from the painting, when shooting a painting measuring around 75x100cm.

The important thing is making sure the gels are not too close to the lights, which can warp or melt them, and that the polarisation lines etched onto the surface of the gels are both aligned in the same direction.

This is easy to check by simply holding one gel over the other one and rotating them. When they become transparent, they are aligned; when they turn black, they are out of alignment.

Try to shoot at night, or else choose a room in which you can block off all other light sources (e.g. windows), since anything that is not polarised at the 45 degree angle will give you glare.

2. Set your camera

I would suggest using the manual mode for setting your exposure. I generally shoot at about a five-second exposure with a focal length of around f/10, which gives me a little extra focus depth to make up for any error I might make in focusing.

Always use the lowest ISO setting on your camera (usually ISO 100), since this will also give you the sharpest picture possible – the ISO setting traditionally refers to the sensitivity of film and in digital cameras it also refers to the sensitivity of your image sensor; the higher the ISO number, the grainier the image will appear.

Remember to use the tungsten white balance setting on your camera – on most cameras, the symbol for this is a light bulb. My camera also comes with Kelvin setting, which you will want to set at around 3200K.

3. Take your picture

Simply look through your viewfinder and rotate the polarising filter on the front of the camera lens until you see the painting darken slightly and the glare magically vanish!

If you are having difficulty seeing exactly when the glare disappears, move the camera closer to the painting to adjust the lens filter. Once the filter is adjusted properly, you won’t have to change this setting when you move back or shoot additional paintings.

When taking the picture, I use the camera’s timer set at two seconds so I can press the shutter, remove my hand, and then wait for it to start the exposure. This means I don’t have to worry about my hand jostling the camera and creating a blurry image.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Tips for entering Art Shows, Juried Exhibitions & Competitions

There are many things artists should consider before entering art contests, competitions, and juried exhibitions:
  • Is the event local, regional, national, or international? The larger the pool of artists, the harder it will be to get accepted into the show, but the prizes are generally higher.
  • Does your work meet the guidelines for theme, medium, size, weight, and presentation requirements?
  • Are you required to send a bio, artist's statement, or other credentials with your submission?
  • What are the fees? A small entry fee is acceptable, but artists should be weary of vanity galleries which charge exhibition fees, reception fees, or promotional fees.
  • Ask who will be judging the competition. What are their credentials? What is their affiliation with the organization sponsoring/hosting the event?
  • Will the art be juried/judged from slides or actual work? If the art is juried from slides or digital images and your images aren't of professional quality, you will be at a disadvantage.
  • What type of awards are given? Are purchase awards (whereby your work is sold for the amount of the award) worth more or less than the sales value of your work?
  • How many works may be accepted per artist? Acceptance may be limited to one work per artist even though multiple works may be submitted. Also, because venues often have a limited amount of space, smaller works may be favored.
  • Must all works be available for purchase?
  • What commissions are taken on sales? Will commissions be taken on purchase awards?
  • Who is responsible for paying sales tax on art sold at the exhibition?
  • Where will the work be displayed? How will the exhibit be promoted? Be wary of events that are only promoted toward artists, rather than toward buyers, collectors, and the public.
  • Do you retain all copyrights for your artwork? Or does the promoter intend to use artists' images in printed publications, etc.
  • Does the organization hold such events annually, monthly, etc.? Annual events tend to be larger, better promoted, and more prestigious. Be wary of sponsors who promote an annual drawing competition one month, an annual painting competition the next, and an annual sculpture competition the next.
  • Is information available about the attendance or sales from previous exhibitions? (Keep in mind that purchase awards may be considered as sales.)
  • Will the gallery or other place of venue insure the work while it is on the premises?
  • Does the chamber of commerce (in the city or county where the event takes place) know anything about it or have any info on the business or organization hosting the event?

All of that said... consider what you want to get out of entering juried art shows or fine art competitions:

  • If your goal is to build your artist's resume, look for the most prestigious shows (also the hardest to get accepted into). Ask how many artists have entered previously and how many of those artists were accepted into the exhibition.
  • If your goal is to sell your work, choose the art shows that are heavily promoted to buyers, collectors and the public or ones that have had the most sales in the past. Keep in mind that entering art contests is a great way to gain exposure for your work even if you don't make an immediate sale. Always have brochures, business cards, or postcards of your work available to encourage future sales.
  • If your goal is to win an award, find out as much about the judge/juror as possible --what he or she looks for. What kinds of work have they selected in previous art shows? They will probably be more apt to have discriminating taste in their area of expertise.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Picking the Right Mat Color

Picking the Right Mat Color
  If you choose to use one mat, we suggest using a neutral color. Any neutral tone will enhance your art, but some will stand out and scream, "Pick me! Pick me!" so play with a few before simply going with White.
 If you plan on using a double mat, one way to go is to use a neutral color on top, and for the "reveal," (the inner mat closest to your artwork) punch up the color by matching the mat to a dominant color in the artwork. This high-contrast treatment will add new dimension to your presentation.

One of the most important aspects of custom framing is the selection of the mat.  Picking the right color is so important to the finished look.
The right colored mat can make your picture pop, bringing out the flattering tones and hues. The wrong colored mat can make your photo look washed out, discolored or bland. With a little forethought, you can select a mat that will completely complement your picture.  
Choose a selection of mat colors from the color group that achieves the look you want.  Select colors that complement or contrast well with the predominant color in the art and keep the frame in mind as well.
Lay the mats on your picture, one color at a time. Examine the picture for the tones and hues that the mat brings out. Notice how placing the photo on different colors in turn makes it look completely different. For example, a blue mat might bring out the blue eyes of a person in a close-up portrait, while a red mat might make some blotchy discolorations of that person’s skin look more prominent. Select a mat that makes the colors in the picture look natural and flattering.  Choose the color mat that looks best with your picture.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Thanksgiving Dinner 17 x 11 - Gouache on 140# Arches Watercolor paper.

I tried experimenting using a natural sea sponge to do the foliage on this piece. It gave me a little more texture while remaining loose. I found it to be very useful and fun. The application of the gouache using a sponge work very well.
I starting  dabbing the sponge on the watercolor paper,  making the tree shape.  I created  lights and darks, then went in with a brush to add additional color and branches to connect the dabbed areas before the paint started to dry. You can purchase this painting by clicking on the Add to Cart Button.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Tips for Hanging Art

A number of years ago I read about a great tip that to this day has made picture hanging a simple, pleasurable task. The tip was to always hang your art at 60" on center, that includes hanging a cluster of art. "On center" means that the middle of the picture or cluster of art is at 60" (obviously, the hook will be higher). Interestingly, the 60" standard represents the average human eye-height and is regularly used as a standard in many galleries and museums...
What WE have discovered is that if you stick to this standard, you create a harmony among ALL the pictures in your home, as they will always hang in relationship to one another from their centers, not their sides. Additionally, we have also found that this helps solve the problem many people have, which is that they hang their pictures too high.

Step By Step:

1. Measure and lightly mark
60" on the wall
2. Measure top of your picture to the middle (or take height and divide by 2)
3. Measure top of your picture to the tightened wire (a small amount)
4. Subtract this last amount to tell you how far above 60" your hook should go
5. Measure up from 60" with this last amount and lightly mark on the wall


1. Picture is 20" tall
2. Middle is 10" down from top (this should rest at 60")
3. Wire comes to 2" below the top
4. 10" - 2" = 8"
5. Lightly mark 8" above your first mark OR 68" on the wall

Though this may seem complicated to read, it is quite simple when you do it. The thing to always remember is that the CENTER of all your pictures are hanging at the same 60", and you are just figuring out where the hook goes above it.

This 60" also applies to groups of pictures. Think of a group as ONE picture. After you arrange how you want them all to hang (doing this on the floor makes it easier), start with the center picture/pictures and get them at 60" on center. Then surround them with the rest of the group.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

What is involved in a "semi-custom framing job"

Semi-custom work involves adding a custom-cut mat to a ready-made frame. Most ready-made frames come with inexpensive glass that offers no protection from harmful UV light and acidic cardboard backing boards.  Upgrading to UV-filtering glass and acid-free backing will help protect your investment for many years.
We may also be able to help you re-use a frame that you already own. This may or may not be cost effective for you. If your frame is in bad repair or requires extensive clean-up before it can be used, the additional labor involved may offset any savings. We can only determine this on a case-by-case basis by examining the frame. Estimates are free.
If your art or photo is not a standard size, cutting a custom mat to fit your choice of ready-made frame can be a cost saving measure.
Do you have a frame you would like to reuse? I can make an evaluation to see if the frame is in good repair and appropriately sized.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Painting with Acrylic Paints

You will need some basics to start painting with acrylics.
  • A set of acrylic colors to include the basics: red, blue, yellow, white and burnt umber are fairly basic. You can add colors as you paint more. Starting with a limited palate will help teach you how to mix different hues.
  • Start with two or three different brushes: A round bristle brush, a flat edge brush and a rigger for detail. You will want to add different size brushes to your collection as you progress
  • A pad of paper palettes that you can throw out after using.
  • A small table easel
  • Canvas, canvas board, gessoed masonite
  • Lots of paper towels
  • A spray bottle to keep the paints from drying out
Properties of Acrylic Paints
Acrylic paints are extremely versatile and work on a variety of surfaces.
Acrylics dry very fast, so you keep your spray bottle handy to give an occasional spritz. There is one product on the market called Golden Open Acrylics. These Stays wet longer allowing more time for blending.
Since Acrylic is a water-based paint, you can use it like watercolors, and make transparent washes. You add more water to the paints and you have a watercolor effect. There are many mediums available to use with acrylics to create different surfaces and textures, to slow the drying time, and create a gloss or matte finish. Just keep experimenting while you learn how to paint with acrylics.
Care of Acrylic Paints
You can keep acrylic paint usable for a few days. You can give the paints a good spraying with water and cover with a wet towel. You can put your palette of paints in fridge overnight, but make sure the paints are well covered.
Make sure to the cap securely to keep the paint fresh.