Thursday, February 28, 2019

Faces & Features: New Book by Walter Foster Publishing

A  few years ago, I authored a book of watercolor portraits. This year the publisher, Walter Foster, created a new how-to book comprised of the artwork of ten artists and including five watercolor projects taken from my first book. It was so nice to see four of my portraits on the front and back covers. The book is available online at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and other retailers.

Here's a little peak into the book:

 One of the step-by-step projects to follow along:

Monday, November 12, 2018

Wrapping Up 2018


Every year, right around this time, I do a year-in-review and I compare it with a list of goals that I wrote at the beginning of the year, contemplating what worked and what didn't. Since it is easy to forget all the little successes, I keep a list of celebrations that I read over. These are a few highlights from my notes:

  • 5-day workshop with the Niagara Frontier Watercolor Society. Great group of artists. Beautiful accommodations and lots of positive energy. Would definitely teach there again.
  • Sold paintings in both exhibitions at Nemacolin. 
  • Open studio in May - met lots of new people, added new subscribers to my mailing list, sold a painting. 
  • Resident Artist for 2018 at the Mansion on Fifth Hotel. Met so many great people at Performance Thursdays and the bi-monthly Art Tours.
  • Tango Night! Amazed to see people braving the terrible weather to come out. Unbelievable musical performances by Tom Robbins and Alejandro Pinzon and dancers Yulia and David. Completed a Tango painting.
  • Fun two-week portrait class at MAL. Nice to see new and former students.
I am seriously amazed that I am able to do this work year after year and to have the opportunity to meet so many wonderful, supportive people.

Liar, watercolor, 30 x 22 in before framing

After painting so many cityscapes, I was just itching to paint a human. With Liar, my goal was to leave enough ambiguity to allow the viewer to bring their own life experiences to the work. 

Is the woman in the painting the liar? Is she accusing someone else of lying? Maybe this person represents all of us at different times in our lives and is a call to self-awareness and correction. Or maybe it is a sign of our political landscape.

Refuge, watercolor, 20 x 30 in before framing
What is it about roofs that are so captivating? I love trying to capture the city expanding into the distance with suggestive, obscurred strokes of color. 

For me, each of those roofs represent a microcosm of one larger society. Seeing the parts and the whole at the same time reminds me that we are just a fraction of one bigger human community, despite our many differences. 

Last Dance, watercolor, 28 x 21 in framed

I started this painting at a "Tango Night" event at the Mansion on Fifth Hotel. What a night! Amazing musicians and dancers treated the audience to a Tango performance. Artist Claire Hardy and I painted along with the music.

I titled this painting, "Last Dance", because I pictured a couple at the end of a party, oblivious to the fact that everyone else had gone home.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

New Cityscape Paintings

Each day, on my walk to my studio, I pass quirky side streets, historic buildings, and people walking or biking to school and work. Everywhere I look, I see life and energy in the people and places in my hometown of Pittsburgh.

My new series of paintings celebrate the unlikely beauty of the back streets and rooftops of this steel city. Whether painting a sun-drenched alleyway or a view of rooftops at night, each painting strives to find the beauty and drama in the ordinary.

Here are just a few from the series:

Dounton Way, watercolor, 30 x 24 in

Puzzle Pieces, watercolor, 15.5 x 29 in

After Midnight, watercolor, 17 x 30 in

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Resident Artist at the Mansions on Fifth

I was excited to have been selected as one of two Resident Artists at the Mansions on Fifth Hotel. I will be exhibiting my art, along with Claire Hardyin rotating exhibitions through the end of the year. Below is our exhibition schedule.

On Thursday, September 13th, Claire and I will be given a painting demo at the Mansions on Fifth during Performance Thursday from 5:30 to 7:30. There will be music by performer Meredith Holliday, complimentary cheese and  charcuterie, and cocktail specials. I hope you can join us!

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Let's Explore

Since my move to the city three years ago, I have been captivated by the hidden alleyways, towering fire escapes, quirky cobblestone roads, and steep (and I mean STEEP) hills. I am constantly snapping photos on my bike rides, walks to the studio and drives around town. And now, I'm putting these images into a series of paintings that I will be introducing at my October Open Studio. Here are a few:

This is the view I enjoy nightly from the rooftop of my house.
Climb Up With Me, watercolor, 21 x 26 in


I pass this weird, little alleyway every time I ride my bike to the Strip District. I love all the telephone wires and the beautiful, rusty beams overhanging the street.

Morning Walk, watercolor, 21 x 17 in

I was sitting at the hair salon chair, when I looked out the window and saw this amazing scene of light and shadow.
Dounton Way, watercolor, 13.5 x 12 in

If you would like a sneak peak of this series, or dibs on one of the paintings, let me know. Studio visits are by appointment. I would love to give you a personal tour.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

What Is A Watercolor Workshop Like?

This past May, I spent a week with an inspirational group of artists in Buffalo, NY, teaching a portrait and figurative workshop.

It's amazing how much I learn when I teach. I learn more about my process by answering questions and demonstrating, about new tools and gadgets that my students love, and I learn how to be a better teacher. It's not an easy gig, but it is incredibly rewarding when you have the right mix of motivated students.

The week builds from simple exercises to more complicated design and color work.
We start with face-only portraits and end with a full-sized, fine art painting.

The mornings start with a demo of a lesson or exercise and a review of the day before, following by student painting time. The students are given instruction in several ways: 1) I rotate through the students as they work, giving one-on-one instruction, 2) I demonstrate for the group and have answer questions, 3) I present a power point presentation with the concepts introduced, and 4) we have critiques of the work at the end of the week.

Here is some of the wonderful art that was created. Unfortunately, I don't have all the artists' names for each painting, so there's no credit with the images. You can find these artists and more at the Niagara Frontier Watercolor Society Facebook page:

Want To Attend A Workshop?

Next year I will be teaching two back-to-back workshops at Riverside Art Workshops in Hudson Valley, NY. The first one is filled, so we added another. I'm really excited about these workshops because of the subject matter (portraits and cityscapes), the gorgeous location, and the intimate class size (only 12 students per class).

This is a great opportunity for motivated artists who want more one-on-one instruction than a traditional workshop and are serious about improving their skills.



Wednesday, May 2, 2018

No Sour Grapes Here

Nemacolin Woodlands Retreat has a beautiful art gallery where I've been exhibiting for over a year. The artwork just glows in this location and I always look forward to creating new paintings specifically for this space.

Recently, the gallerist proposed showcasing food and wine-related paintings to pair (no pun intended!) with their annual Wine Weekend event.

I took this as an opportunity to try something new and started playing around with painting grapes. I wanted the grapes to look alive, moving and blowing on the vine. The result is a series of paintings that are flowing and abstract with just a few realistic details.

To create this look, I wet the paper with plain water, leaving dry areas where I wanted the white of the paper.

I drop in rich, heavy color and let it mingle and mix on the page. After it dries, I start to suggest the shape of grapes. I researched different grapes to find out how they hang on the vine and each individual shape.

I ended up creating a series of these because they were so fun to paint. Here are a few:

Cabernet II, 13 x 11 in, watercolor

Zinfandel II,  18 x 2 in, watercolor

Friday, February 9, 2018

New Paintings to Whet Your Appetite

"An Appetite for Art" is a new exhibition at Nemacolin Woodlands Retreat in Farmington, Pa. It features the work of three artists (Me, Joyce Werewie Perry, and Maura Light) and differing views on food and wine. The exhibition runs through April 22, 2018.

February Artist Meet and Greets: Saturday, February 10 and 17 from 5 to 7 pm
Wine Weekend Meet and Greet and Artist Demo: Friday, April 20, 5 to 7 pm

Here are a few photos of the exhibition:

Finishing Touch in the cozy, sitting area
in the gallery

Pressure Cook and The Chefs in the
beautiful gallery hallway

A visitor checking out one of Joyce's

14 x 12 in, watercolor
26 x 18 in, watercolor
Zinfandel 2
12 x 13 in, watercolor

16 x 12 in, watercolor

Sunday, January 21, 2018

What's Cooking? Paintings of Food, Chefs, and Fine Dining

Food is full of texture, color, and shape. Cooking in a restaurant involves steam, fire, people, and shiny chrome. Putting them together in a series of paintings has been fun and oh so challenging.

The paintings below can be viewed at Nemacolin Woodlands Retreat Art Gallery in a new exhibition called "An Appetite for Art". Three artists interpret the art of cooking.

For several paintings, I worked from photos that I took inside the 5-star Lautrec restaurant at Nemacolin. The kitchen is beautiful with copper pots, reflective surfaces, fresh herbs, and brightly-colored peppers. It was great to be a fly on the wall and to observe the behind-the-scenes activity that happens before the restaurant opens.

The exhibition runs through April 22. I hope you can stop by Nemacolin for one of the artist Meet and Greets in February and April. I would love to see you there. Details: http://www.nemacolin.com/events-calendar#Event_910

Finishing Touch, watercolor, 29 x 27 in

Pressure Cook, watercolor, 18 x 22 in

The Chefs, watercolor, 22 x 26 in

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Watercolor Artist Magazine

Very cool. My artwork is featured in the December 2017 issue of Watercolor Artist magazine. It was such an honor and, even more so, when I found out my painting, Lumiere, found it's way onto the cover. The article was written by writer/artist Louise Hafesh. She did such a nice job of taking my incoherent notes and create a compelling story that even surprised me, haha.

Here are inages of the article, but you can also find the issue here.

My painting, What Plagues Us, was selected for a special section of the magazine called "Picture This", which highlights one artist's painting with a full descriptive narrative. This last page was actually a surprise; I didn't find out until I received the magazine!

For a close-up and information about What Plagues Us?, click HERE. To view a collection of available artworks, click ARTWORKS.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Summer Exhibition

Just finished hanging artwork at the beautiful Nemacolin Woodlands Resort for the summer exhibition featuring myself and two other artists, James Kennedy of NYC and Christy Branson, from Seattle.The exhibition runs through September 5, 2017.

Below are my paintings in the show. Unfortunately, I didn't have a chance to photograph the other artists' work before my phone died but you can see their work here: James Kennedy and Christy Branson.


Monday, June 12, 2017

Watercolor Essentials: Part 4, Paper

And here we are at the #1 watercolor essential. After teaching students year after year, I've concluded that the most important supply to have, the one that will make or break a painting, is...quality paper!

You can get away with student-grade paints, brushes, and palettes for the first few classes but not paper. A poor-quality paper will not absorb paint; it will blotch and puddle making it incredibly frustrating for students and instructor alike. Cheaper papers also tend to be a lighter weight; anything less than 140# will buckle and bow, creating a difficult painting surface that pools the paint. Scrubbing will usually disintegrate the surface.

I use a cold press paper, either 300# or 260# in Arches, Waterford, and Killimanjaro. Lately, I've been experimenting with the new, high-end Canson L'Aquarelle, a beautiful paper that feels like velvet. I don't stretch or tape my paper down and I paint all the way to the edge. If my paper is a little bowed when I'm finished painting, I simply wet the back of the painting with clean water and lay the painting between two pieces of cardboard and under a stack of books. By morning, it is flat and ready to frame.

Students starting out should try as many brands and surfaces as they can to see what feels right for them. There's rough, cold press (semi-rough), and hot press (smooth). There's bristol board with a variety of textures and the quirkiest paper of all, Yupo, which isn't a natural paper but a synthetic polypropylene. It pools and resists the paint, but that's part if it's charm, once you know how to use it.

Once a student finds a paper that works for their purposes, it's a good idea to use that same brand over and over to learn the properties of the paper, such as, how quickly the paint absorbs, how or if the paint lifts, and how much scrubbing can it handle.

I hope this series has helped make your supply selections a little easier. Have fun!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Watercolor Essentials: Part 3, Paint

Paint! If I had to rate the importance of watercolor supplies, paint would be at the top of the list as the second most important. (What's number one? We'll talk about that next week.)

Despite my pleas, at almost every workshop I teach, a student will arrive with a palette of paint turds. You might know what I mean--those hard, pea-sized blobs of paint that look like they were squeezed out a century ago. The problem with dried out blobs of paint is that it is incredibly hard to load up your brush with pigment, making your painting a likely candidate for the wimpy pile.

I always recommend that students buy tubes of paint instead of pans for the same reason.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Watercolor Essentials: Part 2, Palette

Sure, I know. It's not one of the sexier watercolor supplies, but having a good palette really is essential. Here are some things I look for in a palette: