Brian (painted at age 19)

“Brian,” 16×20″ oil on stretched canvas

I painted this oil portrait (which is NOT a good likeness!) of my brother-in-law Brian when I was age 19. I remember I was studying under Shirlee Prescott at the time and she advised me on the colors. I used a black-and-white photo (taken by my sister) as a reference.

John Singer Sargeant said, “A portrait is a painting with something wrong with the mouth.” And that applies here! His mouth and chin aren’t quite “there” yet. But, since it wasn’t that embarrassingly bad as a portrait (of someone), I put it up on one of my other websites many years ago and didn’t think much about it for a very long time.

Until today. Brian died suddenly from natural causes a few days ago and the news has just broken on social media. Everyone who knew him is in shock, adding memories, sharing thoughts, and I didn’t know what I could contribute. Then I thought of this. This painting. This is my contribution. I just wish it were a better painting. But it still is a painting. Oil on canvas.

Paintings have a “permanence” to them that is unique. That’s why people commission artists to do portraits. A likeness of a person takes on more weight when it’s transformed into paint on canvas, filtered through an artist’s eyes.

Portrait paintings invite attention and a chance for discussion. Paintings often will get “spread” farther online than a simple snapshot will. People will discuss the painting on its artistic merits and sometimes start thinking of the subject of the painting too… and that’s why paintings are a special kind of memorial. If the painting is particularly good, the painting gets seen by more people—who will then see the painting of the person, the subject of the painting.

When you lose a loved one, one of the things you want most is for them to be remembered. They are gone from this earth, but it’s so comforting for something of them to be left behind in a tangible form. A painting can be one of those things.

You are here today because you like art and somehow found my art website. I am here today because of Brian. I want to share some things about him for a moment.

Brian has been a wonderful father and husband. He dealt with our crazy family shenanigans with long-suffering endurance. He was the father of two remarkable sons. He has two amazing daughters-in-law (who adored him—and you know you’ve succeeded as a parent when your in-laws love you!). He has two beautiful granddaughters, and he also leaves behind a sister and a niece.

He was a flight test engineer who had a life-long passion for planes. He built his own small aircraft and of course was a pilot. This passion spread to my sister, who also learned how to fly.

Recently they got their dream house in a “residential airpark,” a community for plane geeks, uh, fellow flying enthusiasts. It had this HUGE hangar for his planes and he spent a lot of time tweaking things there. It was a dream come true for a plane geek flying enthusiast like Brian. But it was to be short-lived—they only enjoyed a few years at that house. I feel that injustice acutely. But at the same time, I’m just so grateful that he got to enjoy it at all.

You leave a big void in our lives, Brian. I know you are flying with your own father now (who was an Air Force pilot). God bless you.

Brian doing what he loved most—tweaking on something plane-related in his own personal hangar!
Brian at a family Thanksgiving.

UPDATE:

One of my awesome nieces-in-law sent me a cell phone pic of another piece I did of Brian. Drawn when I was the same age (19), with the same problems with chin and mouth. (Mostly the chin.) But hey, it’s a good lesson: You do get better with time and practice!

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I guess it’s time

…for a website update.

Like many of you, I’m stuck at home, waiting out this scary pandemic. Fortunately, I’ve got adequate supplies (including cat food!) at home, so I am settled in without much panic at the moment. Therefore, what else is there to do but update my blog? Right?

I’ve done some painting since this blog was last updated. Here are two oils (randomly selected):

Band of Light – oil on panel, 6×6 inches
Foolish Passion – 6×8″ oil on canvas panel

A lot has gone on since my last update. Some scary, some big, but a lot of good.

But to quote Tim Conway Jr (who I listen to a lot when I paint), “Who cares!” Who cares about all my personal travails at the moment? This is an art blog so let’s talk about art.

I’m planning on revamping this site a bit so there should be more posts coming soon. What better time to do it but now?

Yeah, like a lot of artists, I’ll be painting a lot…since I’m at home anyway, it’s a perfect time.

I hope everyone else is doing well right now. Stay safe, stay home, study a lot, and if you are an artist, paint a lot!

Be back soon.

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After over a year… (IMAGE DUMP!)

The guilt over neglecting this blog has finally become too much! I’m trying to catch up with so many things in the past year. After a lengthy period of sharing caregiving duties with a sister for our mom (who had dementia) the “new normal” is requiring some adjustment. Furthermore, there were other things that have happened in the last year, things that kept me from painting (or updating this blog) as much as I’d like.

I can’t say that everything is now perfect and normal, but when is it ever? All I can say is that things are gently pushing upward. For that I am grateful.

Anyway, I have done many paintings in the last year. I’ll post many of them in future posts, but just want to share a select few here:

Backlit Tiger – 8×8″ oil on canvas panel.

I’m going through a “tiger phase.” This is just one tiger example. I’m not done yet! I’ve got many more tigers (and other big cats) to paint! If painting tigers is wrong, I don’t want to be right!

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Content Tabby

Content Tabby, 5×5″ oil on panel.

This is a blissful-looking kitty! I found the expression irresistible and wanted to capture it in a painting. I loved how many different colors were in the cat’s fur—some green, blue, and orange flecks and reflections are found all over. 

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Two new cat head paintings, long and rambling updates

It’s been a very long time since I’ve posted to this blog, and there’s a good reason for that (which I’ll get to later in this post). Forgive me as this will be long and rambling!

NEW PAINTINGS

First, I want to share two of my latest cat head paintings:

Black and White and Fluffy (#2) 5×7″ oil on oil primed panel. I used a reference photo by a photographer on the “Paint My Photo” community.

 

Perky Young Orange Kitty, 6×8″ on canvas panel.

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Behold a Pale Orange Cat & super-mini studio setup

I’ve got a few new cat head paintings to post, but first, the latest news:

“Pale Orange Cat,” 5″ x 7″ oil on Pintura Painting Panel

Another painting completed tonight! This time, I finished this little painting at a most unusual working space: my computer desk!

As I mentioned in a previous post, these are desperate times for me (studio-wise) because now I am fulfilling my duties as a part-time caregiver for a family member. Gone are the days when I can gallivant away to my lovely studio and paint until the wee hours. I must stay homebound and be a caregiver. (And that’s okay. It’s family, after all!) I finally developed a workaround (a small studio area) to allow me to work in a very cramped space, but tonight, I decided to go even smaller.

I hope that my situation (and my solution for it) might be useful for other artists out there. Surely I’m not the only one who is dealing with a desperate need to paint, but only with cramped spaces available to work!

My very small

My very small “studio area.”

I did my painting on a computer table. Not even a “real” computer table, just some table that I’ve been using for my 20″ iMac. 

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Tabby Tabby Tabby

“Tabby, Tabby, Tabby” 6×6″ oil on Gessobord. Thanks to Axel Naud of flickr for his photo I used as reference. (His photo is available under a generic Creative Commons Attribution license.)

Finally! A new painting! It’s so nice to finally be back to painting. I missed it so much.

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My micro-mini studio space, with some cat heads.

As a follow-up to yesterday’s post, I thought I’d add a little more information about my itty-bitty, microscopic studio “area.” Perhaps all the information I share here will help someone else set up a small studio too.

Cat Head work in progress, on its

Cat Head work in progress, on its “easel,” a Guerilla Painter Thumb Box (5×7″).

I only have a super-cramped area in which to work. I use overhead light as my light source. (So far, so good.) Right now all I’ve been  working on are smaller paintings that can fit in the “easel” part of my small Pocket Box (maximum size, 5×7″). Very soon I’ll be using another table easel type thing that should accommodate slightly larger panels (hopefully up to at least 12×12″).

A wider view of the whole

A wider view of the whole “studio” area, crammed onto a small foldable table.

Here’s a wider view of the studio layout:

I’m using an inexpensive 26″ x 18″ foldable table (bought from Amazon.com). On the left is the tablet (a 10-inch Android-based Lenovo) which displays my reference photo (a cat head picture from Flickr!).

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After another long absence, some updates, awards, etc

I have neglected this blog (as well as painting), but it hasn’t been without a reason.

Some old (but still exciting) news is that I got some recognition from the Art Muse Contest for April 2016. Thank you so much to the judge! I was a finalist in the “Emerging” category and also got the additional honor of being eligible for Gallery Representation. Pretty cool, and I am honored and thrilled!

“The Greek Artist” 12″ x 12″ oil on panel. Finalist in the Art Muse Contest! This is a portrait of a fellow artist who has strong Greek roots—a detail that brings him great pride! I snapped an impromptu photo of him while he was attending a figure drawing session. The photo made a good basis for a portrait.

“The Greek Artist” also got a “Fav 15%” from the Bold Brush awards, so that was also very cool.

There were a couple of other honors, and I need to update my “About Me” page to include them! This Spring was especially good to me.

And for other news… the last several months I’ve been quiet on this blog. I also haven’t posted any new paintings for sale on DailyPaintworks or UGallery for quite a while.

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Such a Good Kitty

“Such a Good Kitty” 4×4″ oil on panel.

This little black and white kitty caught my eye. What a sweet expression! Painting black and white fur is always fun!

For this piece I used a 4×4″ panel which was primed with some Michael Harding Foundation White. Well, it wasn’t white when I got through with it—I mixed in some blue before priming some plain wood panels. There’s something special about using lead-based priming for oil painting!

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