Thursday, October 1, 2009

Plein Air Field Sketch

Today I met some artist friends at the local farm area called GreenBluff. Its right up the hill from where I live. This is a rough two hour sketch of the fall fields of cabbage and corn. I am taking tons of photos, trying to squirrel away reference photos for winter time work when we are snowed under with five feet of snow. The locals are all saying it could snow anytime now. sheesh...I'm not ready!!!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

student works at Terry Lee's Studio

Here are a couple of snapshots of the interior of Terry Lee's studio in Coeur D'Alene Idaho where I am painting and drawing from live models. He teaches sculpting and does bronze work for galleries in addition to his huge animal paintings. Check out his website

Plein Air Study

I am meeting with a group of plein air painters once a week and this is a field sketch from a beautiful park in Idaho called Corbin Park on the Spokane River.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Firstborn galaxy and sky

My teachers at IMC shook their heads sadly at me when I told them the sky was done...oops! So, I refined it further now that I have been able to finally put some time into it! The galaxy sky and the observatory dome are done. I assumed that the painting didn't need to be refined to a smooth state as it is intended to be reduced to the size of a paperbag. "We ALWAYS refine the painting even if it is to be reduced. The end painting is what matters." I was told. I have to let it dry so I can go back and glaze in the holograph glows on the far swoops. I reposed Jack in a white shirt so now I can more accurately begin painting Dennison's uniform. I had his arm all wrong, so now I will work on that while the sky dries. It will still be a while before I can finish this though because I will be playing chauffeur for the next two weeks while Jack does a church camp and a pole vaulting camp out of state... on the road again....

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Firstborn half done

I'm done with the spacescape and the dome. Today I did the face and some of the holograms. I couldn't figure out why the holograms looked so wrong, but I found an illustration in a children's book by one of our teachers that showed me that holograms glow on the outer edge, not the center. A center glow makes neon lights! haha, no wonder it looked weird. I really picked a challenging composition with this one. How to get references for all this wild reflected holographic light? Right now the composition looks jumbled. I will have to let quite a bit of it completely dry before I can add the smaller action elements like fighter ships and projections on the holograph screens. Tomorrow is our last day to paint here in Amherst. We have had two or three lectures everyday and atleast one demonstration to watch each day too. We are painting until 3 or 4 am each night to get our stuff done for the group show on sunday. There's no way I can finish it in time, but I have plenty of company, so there is no rush.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Lighting Demo Illustration Masterclass

Here are a couple of the teachers demonstrating their typical setups for lighting for reference model shoots. These lights and power packs are a mere $1,500. There are strobe lights, power packs, reflective light umbrellas and stands, remote signal sender thingy for the $2,000 camera and $1200 lense. I'm using a $120 canon smart shooter and no flash. lol

Firstborn underpainting

Here is the nearly finished underpainting in acrylics. The camera just can't compensate for the florescent lights in the room: the real colors are neon bright green for the hologram ring, dark black navy blue for the starry sky in the dome and bright deep red pink for the asteroid belt and neon aqua blue for the screen projections. But, you get the idea. Tomorrow I will finish the underpainting then start in on the oils. This puppy will most assuredly not be done by the time the last class is over on sunday.

Real Armor

This is the Art Editor for Tor Books, Irene Gallo, trying on a set of armor that Lawrence Allen Williams brought. She is the business teacher at IMC. She makes a great model for Joan of Arc....hmmm...great painting idea!

Pencil final of Firstborn

At the teacher critique, I was told to change the pose of the model. In the story, the lead character, Dennison, is unsure of himself and has low self esteem because he is a constant failure at the space battle hologram that he is in charge of. I figured Dennison would be portrayed best by being static in motion and have the tension come from the hologram itself. The teachers said that even though that idea is more true to the story, it makes for a better picture artistically to make the pose more dynamic. So, here is the redrawn pose. Its much better, isn't it? Teachers are right again! I had a great pose that they liked from a photo shoot I had done with Jack before I left. The only problem was, it was too out of focus to get a good painting with, so I had to ask three separate students to pose for me as I reshot the reference photos of their hands and faces to get the details right. Since I don't have a printer with me, I had to use the computer screen on my laptop as a reference of the photos. Ah, the benefits of technology!

The Legendary Michael Whelan

Holy Cow, We got to watch a demo and presentation by a living national treasure: Michael Whelan. I've been a fan of his work since the mid 1970s. If you have read a book by Isaac Azimov, C. J. Cherryh or any Anne McCaffry, you have seen a cover done by him. He is a quiet and reserved man, and generously shared his methods with us. We even got to paw through a pile of his art prints to take home. I got four signed!!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Value Sketch for Illustration Masterclass

Here is my small value sketch for an assignment for the upcoming Illustration MasterClass in Amherst Mass. this week. The book is called Firstborn by Brandon Saunderson. (It is about to be published, this is just a class assignment). The subject is a young man who has been raised to be a spaceship battle strategist for a sci fi galaxy federation. He manipulates a 3-D holographic projection of battleships like in StarWars. He is dedicated, unsure of himself and fails at every simulation he engages in. Ultimately, he ends up saving the galaxy from his much older and impervious evil brother who commands the entire starfleet and attempts a military coup.

Our first day of class will be spent listening to the instructors tear our sketches apart. The second day is redo time with possibly new photo model shoots and starting from scratch. A very good learning experience! I will post the progress so you can follow along. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Rats!! Deseret Books rejected my children's book

Well, the best laid plans.....Deseret rejected my children's book. The very nice rejection letter said that they are too busy with editorial duties to specify why it was rejected. The good news is that now I can share some of the color images from the non-existant book! Here is a two page spread of the temple at Temple Square in Salt Lake City during the Christmas season. The orange area on the lower left is for the location of the words. All the art for the book was done on Wallis Art Paper (like a sandpaper) with dry pastels. I used them because they give intense, vibrant colors and reproduce glare! The colors seem to actually leap off the page at you. I also enjoy the roughness of it- the idea is to see the artist's hand in the work: strokes, blurring, and dabs of color. Sort of reminds me of a bullfighter dashing his cape around a bullfight. The down side is that they are very, very messy and fragile.
My story is about a mother who takes her small son and baby daughter to visit temple square for the first time and it just happens to be during the Christmas season with all the lights and Nativity. They visit several of the land marks there and learn more about Jesus Christ at each one. At the conclusion of the story, the boy learns that his feelings for Jesus Christ have grown and that he can take the wonderful feeling of temple square home with him by reading the scriptures. It was supposed to be a children's book and temple square souvenier book all rolled into one. Atleast my someday grandkids will have a book about Temple Square to read when they come to visit grandma.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Interior two page spread

This image is of the two main characters walking down a neighborhood street at Christmastime. The mother is taking her small son and infant daughter to Temple Square in Salt Lake City for the first time. The blank area on the right side is for the words in the book.

Monday, March 23, 2009

book dummy

OK the book dummy is finished and in the hands of the publisher. I'm waiting for the dreaded rejection notice...I can't really post the art work until then. sigh. Many thanks to Mel and Eli for posing for the art! It was great fun.

my son Steve and I at the art exhibit opening...and here it is at the show!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Contest Update

I am flabbergasted and amazed to report that this painting actually made it to the finals of the international art contest for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Salt Lake City. For a somewhat good photo of the painting, please scroll down to the posting for Oct 7th and double click on the image for a bit of a closer up view.
It will be on display in the Conference Center on Temple Square from March 20 - Oct 19, 2009.
If you get to visit Utah and take in the show, let me know if you can find it somewhere in the crowd! If not, it should be posted on the church's web site on line after March 20 at

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Int'l Contest Entry

Here I am with my painting about to be shipped to the LDS Church Art and History Museum. Sorry about the glare and the florescent lighting, the FedEx lady snapped the picture for me. Will I do this again? Probably yes, when the church has another competition again in 3 or 4 years. It was costly, however. $240 for profressional framing, about $45 in art supplies, $50 for professional photograph of the artwork for submission and $75 in shipping, packing and insurance. gulp. Not exactly the right time to be spending money! Makes me wish I lived in Utah so I could have just dropped it off. I learned a ton doing this, however, which is priceless. For one thing, I would not do a darkly lit subject in oils again. It is nearly impossible to photograph well and shows every imperfection in the canvas imaginable. Oils need so long to cure before final varnish, it is really problematic unless I use a new fangled medium and varnish. I wanted to do a heavier layer of paint on the figure and torch, but it would have taken much too long to dry for shipping. All this needs to be considered at the idea stage. I am really thrilled to have made it so far in the competition, as I never expected to make it to the first round of cuts. It has encouraged me to keep pursuing my dreams. Compared to perfecting a piano performance, college studies in geology or childbirth, this art thing is just really, really difficult! Worth it, but very hard to do well. I push my abilities to the limit with each painting, as that is the only way to progress. Frustrating, maddening, disheartening, humbling, exciting, thrilling and satifying. What a rocky road I am choosing to drive on!

Next up I am creating a children's picture book for the lds market that I hope to get published someday. The 'dummy' (a true scale mock up of the book done in pencil and a couple pages of colored paintings) will take up all my time for the next two months. Sorry I can't share it with you: gotta protect my art/idea for copyright issues. Its a big bad world out there. In the meantime, I will start working on the oil portrait of the little girl. And no, it will not be a dark