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Upcoming Workshops

I'll be participating as an instructor in two upcoming workshops this year. Both are for experienced painters, taught by a top-flight group faculty. James Gurney painting a watercolor demo at SKB Foundation Workshop The SKB Workshop happens September 18-27 in Dubois, Wyoming. Show More Summary

Cook's Dinner

Restaurants in Chinatown are a good place for gouache painting if you catch them in the middle of the afternoon. You can hold down a table for a while and the cooks come out to eat. They always seem to eat cool stuff that's not on the menu. Show More Summary

Anderson's Brother & Sister Covers

In 1949, illustrator Harry Anderson did a series of covers for Woman's Home Companion featuring a blond-haired brother having fun with his brunette sister. Anderson was a specialist in painting children for the women's magazines. The covers in this series are consistently well drawn and full of Anderson's generous and playful spirit. Show More Summary

Ken Auster, 1949-2016

California artist Ken Auster started his artistic career with poster and t-shirt graphics in the milieu of 1960s surfing culture. He went on from there to plain air painting, and established his signature subject choices of streetcars, contemporary surfing scenes, California landscapes and restaurant interiors. All were approached with bold brush work, vibrant color and […]

Eye Candy for Today: Isaby crayon portrait

Lady of the Court of Napoléon I, Attributed to Jean-Baptiste Isabey In the Metropolitan Museum of Art, roughly 10×7 in (25×18 cm). Though graphite pencils largely took the place of chalk and crayon in the late 19th century, this beautiful portrait drawing — done at the turn of the 19th century and attributed to court […]

Sketching in Iraq and Afghanistan

In this TED talk, news illustrator Richard Johnson tells what it was like to sketch during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and how sketching brought him closer to the military company he traveled with. Art by Richard Johnson, courtesy...Show More Summary

Fitz and Van's Formula

Art Fitzpatrick and Van Kaufman teamed up to paint many of the classic car ads of the 1960s. Using gouache, Fitz painted the cars and Van painted the backgrounds. They had a formula, but it was a great formula. It goes like this. Coloristically, they choose a overall background color (here, blue). Show More Summary

How to Paint a High-Contrast Study

When painting from the figure, it's easy to get lost in all the subtle middle tones, and end up with a painting that has no force or impact. Shadows are usually darker than you think, and lights are lighter and more unified.A helpful exercise to push your awareness in this direction is the High Contrast Study. Show More Summary

Harold Speed, Painting from the Life: Part 1

Today we'll start Chapter 9: "Painting from the Life" from Harold Speed's 1924 art instruction book Oil Painting Techniques and Materials.I'll present Speed's main points in boldface type either verbatim or paraphrased, followed by comments of my own. Show More Summary

Priming and Surface Preparation

Felice House, a painting professor at Texas A and M, says: "Just today a student came to me with a question about how you prime your surfaces. We looked through the blog but couldn't find details. If you can fill us in that would be really helpful." OK, Felice. Show More Summary

Designing the Wild Things Plushes

Toy designer Mel Birnkrant designed the only toy tie-ins based on "Where the Wild Things" that Maurice Sendak (1928-2012) liked. In a new set of pages on his website, he tells the story of how he developed the designs, and how his 30-year friendship with Maurice Sendak grew out of that working relationship.

Sam of the Spanish Main

It's a terrible habit, and I'm not proud of it. But sometimes at a restaurant I turn my friends into notorious outlaws. "You made me look horrible," my perfectly nice-looking and generous pal said when he saw the sketch. "But it's not you, it's a pirate relative of yours." ----- Related post: My buddy Dave as a film noir detective

Eye Candy for Today: Sargent’s “An Artist in His Studio”

An Artist in His Studio, John Singer Sargent Link is to zoomable version on Google Art Project; downloadable file on Wikimedia Commons; original is in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Many, if not most paintings are not named by the artist, but by subsequent buyers, sellers or scholars. If Sargent named this one (and […]

Self Portraits with Altzheimer's

William Utermohlen (1933-2007) was an American artist living in London who painted realistically when everyone else was doing Abstract Expressionism.When he learned that he had Alzheimer's, he began a series of self portraits to chronicle...Show More Summary

Jules-Alexandre Grün

Jules-Alexandre Grün was a French painter, illustrator and poster artist active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Grün painted the social life of paris, dinner parities and grand celebrations, and designed posters for theatre and other events. There is a blog devoted to his poster work, Jules-Alexandre Grün: The Posters, with a bio. […]

We come in all shapes

The Internet is full of pictures of skinny women, but my sketchbook wants to bear witness to the fact that humans come in other shapes, too.

Esopus Island

Esopus Island is a small, narrow, rocky island that sits like a half-submerged sea dragon in the middle of the Hudson River. Esopus Island, gouache over blue underpainting, 4 x 4 inches. I have kayaked out there in the spring to see the rare wildflowers with names like Indian Pipes and Dutchman's Breeches. Show More Summary

Will Harmuth

New Jersey artist William Harmuth paints landscapes and townscapes in both oil and acrylic. In the former, his color is often laid down in thick, brusque passages, giving the surface an almost sculptural character. His acrylics also give the impression of gestural paint application. In the “Traditional” gallery section of his website, you will find […]

Abstract Mickey in a Real World

Mickey and Minnie were three-foot-tall mice with circles for ears living in a human world. As long as the animation style was abstract enough, the absurdity of that idea worked. But as Disney animation became more realistic, it became more and more untenable. Show More Summary

Quick Tip for Faraway Faces

I often want to sketch a person at a meeting, a lecture, or a concert, but I'm sitting too far away to see their features clearly. Here's a quick tip if you ever find yourself in that situation. These sketches are each just about an inch high. Show More Summary

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