Tuesday, December 29, 2009

striping my snake

The snake is supposed to be an Amazon Tree Boa, but I made it much more colorful than the real thing. (I made the colors more saturated and exaggerated )

Sunday, December 27, 2009


I changed my mind about the underpainting for the snake. I looked at pictures of an Amazon Tree Boa, and they actually have reddish scales over a ochre/yellow underlying skin. So I made him ochre, and will put reddish orange and yellow stripes over it.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

More work on the skull

The more I paint skulls, the more detail I see. I'm not putting every fissure or "crack" in the painting, but by just putting in a few, it really lends a sense of realism.

I was worried about the background being too dark, but as the painting has developed, I'm liking the deep background, which is almost like a navy color.

The jaw/mandible is the last part that needs a final layer. Then I can start on the snake, bird and branch. Got the base colors on the snake and branch in already.

I should start making better progress. I'm on a little hiatus from my temp job at the Bank, for at least a couple of weeks. I'll be able to get some serious studio time.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

More progress on skull

I put in the body colors for the skull today - it went amazingly fast. But things will slow down as I put more and more details in.

For now, the main thing is to get the major shadows and lighter areas blocked in. Reflections and subtle details will take longer, and will be added along with the highlights.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Paintings in process

I made some progress in the last week and a half. Got two paintings transferred to board, and acrylic underpainting blocked in. I also got the first layers of oil paint blocked in. The Malibou Mermaid Barbie painting is a commission. I got the body color blocked in for the cliffs and sea. Next week, after that layer dries, I can put in whitecaps, waves, and highlights on the rocks.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Tree boa

After rearranging and doing numerous thumbnail sketches, i finally settled on how the snake should curl around a branch inside a skull. I got a fairly finished drawing done, and will transfer this to panel later this week. I thought about having the snake going after a flying bird, but decided to have the bird caught and dead.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Lizard model

This evening, I did some photography, to develop reference photos for a number of paintings I'm going to be starting. (enough to keep me busy for quite a while). As usual, I underestimated the amount of time it would take, and only got about halfway through what needed to be done. However, I was happy with how my little copulating monitor lizards are looking! After looking at the photo, I'm going to retake it tomorrow night, from a slightly higher angle.

I also started trying to manipulate and set up the boa in a tree branch. The clay model snake is so limpid that I needed to find away to suspend it and get rid of the droop. String or wire would cut into the clay and would not be a good solution. So I used a band of saran wrap to suspend it... this suspension method doesn't cut into the clay.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Armature for Lizards

The first half of my day was not fun... worked for a few hours at the Bank, doing some contract work. Then I headed to Pearl Art Supply and bought some modeling clay.... only problem is that it was so heavy to lug that to the studio in my backpack!

I made the armatures for two monitor lizards. They will be mating, inset inside a human skull cut away from the side. A continuation of the idea started with "The Lizard Part of My Brain " painting.

The armature, though simple, must capture the essence of the gesture of the lizard. I might still move it and bend it around somewhat, but I want to have the basic gesture captured from the start. In the photo above, you can see the aluminum wire armature from above. It's covered with masking tape to help keep the clay from sliding around when it is applied.

I made the female lizard a little smaller. Tomorrow I'll start adding the clay. Then, this weekend, I hope to shoot some reference photos of all these reference models so i can begin painting. So here is my queue of projects/ideas that have reached a more tangible state (preliminary drawings done or thumbnail sketches, reference models sculpted, etc):
Fighting chimps (anatomical) series
5 more BDSM skeleton/submissive paintings
Lizards mating inside a skull
Snake hunting inset in skull
Barbie mythology - mermaids

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

New Ideas percolating

I have so many ideas swirling around in my head right now that I have trouble sleeping or relaxing. When I retired from my corporate slave job, I had this fear that I would run out of ideas. Fortunately, this doesn't seem to be the case right now.

Because of the strong daylight I get in my studio, I will be setting up props and other reference models and photographing them at night in a controlled light situation. From this I can derive reference photos. Because I think that setting up lights is such a pain, I'm going to shoot several reference photos at the same time.

Therefore, I am madly sculpting snakes, and copulating lizards. By this weekend, I hope to shoot reference photos for several paintings.

I really had fun with the opened skull paintings ("The Lizard Part of my Brain" as an example), and have some ideas for a couple of more paintings that explore primitive emotions and drives. I sculpted a tree boa, which will be coiled around a twisty branch, ready to strike an innocent bird, all set inside an opened skull. Today I picked up a beautiful twisty tree branch at Ixia.

Tomorrow I have to pick up a bunch of modeling clay... these lizards and snakes take up a surprisingly large amount of clay.

So the photo shoot will include, attacking chimp models, snake on branch, mating lizards, skulls from different angles, plus some Barbie dolls. Economy of scale, I guess.

Friday, October 23, 2009

New teensy paintings finished

Just finished final details yesterday afternoon. I'll show these during Open Studios, though they are still tacky. I'll set them on the easel. Several of these little guys are inspired by famous rockers: Pete Townsend, Eddie Van Halen and Axl Rose.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Tiny skeleton rockers

I saw some itty bitty paintings over at Anna Conti's home, sitting on her mantel; one was a beautiful Chester Arnold portrait, and another was a little landscape by Anna. They were both like little gems sitting up there, and I got the itch to do some tiny paintings. I don't even know why I decided to do musicians and rockers. Below is a little prep drawing inspired by Van Halen, and then a painting in process of Peter Townsend. The little Van halen will be 6 x 6 and the little Pete will be 7 x 5. I also have a little skeleton inspired by Axl Rose, a sax player, and a violinist.

The little guitar player painting below still needs highlights on the hands, and details like the pickups and frets on the guitar (Les Paul sunburst - love the colors)

I'll be showing at least three of these at Open Studios next weekend. I'm going to try to get all 5 done by Wednesday!

Monday, October 12, 2009

SF Open Studios Weekend 1

Had a great time this weekend going to Open Studios in the Mission District. Friday night, I went with my friends Diane and Cassie, from Phoenix. We hit 1890 Bryant Street for their opening reception. Highlights included Aubrey Rhodes, whose paintings are a complex, (and successfully done) intertwining layering of words and figures.

Other studios we hit and enjoyed at 1890 Bryant included Diane Olivier (amazing landscapes in pastel and figure drawings), and Cynthia Tom (surrealism).

Saturday, I tagged along with artist Anna Conti, photographers David Sumner and Marianna Whang to Project Artaud, Developing Environments, and Cellspace. Highlights included Victor Cartegena, Shawn Harris, Dale Erickson, and Bernie Rauch. I also got a studio tour of Anna Conti's workspace, and a preview of a piece she is working on for the Seventh Seal series. Wonderful suspense, beautiful color in her narrative paintings.

Rather than go into detail about what we saw, here is a link to Bay Area Artquake, where Anna will post about the highlights of Open Studios.

Link to Anna Conti's site:

Photos: Top: Cellspace
2nd: Dale Erickson in his studio
3rd: Sandy and Aubrey Rhodes

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

What if there isn't a model around

Today was one of those days when I wished I had the woman (Lilla Kat) who modeled for me available. In the original reference photo, Lilla's left foot is in an awkward position. I wish I had caught this while she was in the studio for the photo shoot.

I tried drawing a modified repositioned foot without using a reference, but it didn't look believable. So I shut the studio door, set up the mirror, and drew my own leg and foot. Not as elegant as the original model's, but served the purpose. Is that why many artists keep a mirror in their studio?

The other challenge with this painting is to capture the delicate subtle shades of Lilla's skin. She has to be one of the fairest figures I've ever painted.

Anyway, I'm on the downhill slope and will be able to finish this painting soon! I only need to add in the skeleton's two arms. His arms have to go in last because they are in front of Lilla.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Studio Visit

Started the weekend off well. Friday morning, Anna Conti and her friend Marianna Whang came for a studio visit. I showed them some of my recent BDSM skeletons, as well as clay sculpture chimps for an upcoming piece that I only have sketched out. Then we had lunch, and a lively political discussion. I tagged along with them to SF MOMA, and Anna and I checked out the Postwar Japan photo exhibit - quite interesting. I got to hang out with Anna and a group of artist friends on the SFMOMA rooftop sculpture garden. Ended the afternoon by going to Ritch St. where there were some food vendors- actually quite good.

Saturday, worked on Death and the Maiden. Went through a frustrating phase, where the proportion of the legs and feet didn't look right. But late that evening it all seemed to fall in place. The reference photo of the model is OK, but the model's left foot is in an awkward position. I ended up sketching my own foot on Sunday, but hopefully no one will notice .

Sunday afternoon, I went to check out the Open Studios SOMART exhibit - all the Open Studios artists have a sample small piece. Finished out the afternoon and evening working on the second Dom and lease painting - all that is left now is to put in some highlights on the hands, and touch it up a bit.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Death and the Maiden

I'm making some progress on a small panel, part of the BDSM skeleton series, portraying a beautiful woman with a skeleton lover. I got the underpainting on the figure and skeleton done, and started doing some finishing work on the figure's head. The arms of the skeleton will be put in last - he will be holding her hand, and with his left hand, caressing her face.

Had a bit of trouble with the model's left leg. It got distorted when I did the transfer of the drawing to the panel, plus, I think the drawing had some flaw in it to begin with. So I spent yesterday making corrections.

This is one of the most fair complexioned figures I've ever done. The subtle differences in the tone make it a good exercise in seeing and tonality. She has the most beautiful skin tones.

The real challenge of this painting is making all the elements work together in a believable way. I do not have an antique sofa - I had to extrapolate it. The model was actually seated on a black futon. Additionally, I had to extrapolate the relationship between the skeleton and the model. I had her pose with the skeleton, but we could not get it into exactly the right position.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Open Studios

After several years of opting out, I decided to try and participate in San Francisco Open Studios. Oftentimes, at my old studio, the Open Studios weekend was just too stressful, and since I was working a day job, trying to maintain enough work to support a gallery and solo show plus put in time for Open Studios was too much.

However, I think now that I have more time to devote to painting, I can handle the extra workload.

Above are 3 of the BDSM skeleton paintings that I finished. Today, I started background layers on two more panels. So for the series, I have three paintings done, two panels that are about 75% complete, and two rather incomplete panels with just backgrounds blocked in.

Monday, August 3, 2009

SFMOMA Sketch Friday

SF Museum of Modern Art invited artists (or anyone who loves to draw) to attend Sketch Friday. They even provided sketchbooks which are returned at the end of the session. These books end up being a record of all these sessions, with different artists' works. We all went in to draw what we wanted to from the Avedon exhibit (a wonderful and fun exhibit, by the way!)

Here are the drawings I completed in around 2-1/2 hours. Fortunately, was able to find a bench in front of the Warhol Factory photo with the grouped nude human figures.

It was a lot of fun. And sketching makes you slow down and really see the artwork instead of just glancing at it and walking away. I'll probably do this again in a couple of weeks.

After the event, I went back to the studio to work late, until 10 p.m. I just installed some new lights. The studio is a wonderful place to work after dark.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


It's one of those things that I put off and put off.... a painting is scheduled to be in a show this fall at Columbia College in Chicago, but it has a small ding. Very strange, the upper layer of gesso of a factory prepped panel chipped off. A tiny piece, but noticable. So I patched it with wood putty afew months ago. Then a little layer of gesso. Finally, today, I forced myself to sand out that tiny spot, and overlay a little green on it. Now it looks as good as new. Why did I wait so long?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Slow Going

The second painting above is in the process of getting the final layers and highlights laid in.

I'm real happy with how the first painting is going (the one with the skeleton in leather). Got the fleshtones just right.

Monday, July 20, 2009

figures and skeletons

Here are images of several paintings (works in process), with the first layer of paint applied for the figures and skeletons. These won't be finished until I add one more layer of paint. I still have one more painting that needs under coat for the figure, and then I'll begin the final phase for the five paintings. And then I have to start the whole process again for the remaining 7.

I haven't decided if I should put leather gear on the first skeleton (riding horsey).

Saturday, July 18, 2009


I've been doing 6 days a week at the studio. I've got five paintings in fairly advanced states. Skeletons have been blocked in, backgrounds almost completed, and three of the five human figures blocked in. The backgrounds are in some cases very involved. One includes a Persian rug, several include curtains. I added a cage to one of the paintings. These backgrounds all added quite a bit of time but I think the work was worth it. The paintings have a rich, perhaps baroque look.

I'm a little worried because I got a jury notice, for August 3rd. I've already served on juries for two cases, so I feel like I've already done my civic duty.

As the days get shorter, I'll need to get my lights installed. Right now, I only need one halogen light to paint because the natural light in the studio is so good. I bought some track lights that mount sideways on a wall, so that I don't need a 10 foot ladder to adjust the lights (the ceilings in my studio are quite high)

I'll have pictures of the paintings in progress posted later this week.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Freidrich Goes back to the Studio

It was time to take Friedrich, my full sized model skeleton back to the studio. He stayed at home during my move from the old studio to the new one.

I took him off his stand and put him in the back seat of the car, and it looked like a coverup to a crime scene.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Life Drawing

We had a great model for life drawing at the Mission Cultural Center. It had been a couple of weeks since I last went to life drawing, so I was afraid I was already getting rusty, but I managed to get a couple of decent drawings done.

Above is the male model we had a couple of weeks ago. He is a former dancer, so he held some amazing poses.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Involved Backgrounds

I working on a series of 12 skeleton paintings, and currently have 6 of the 12 in various stages of background development. When I first started I thought these would have just a dark plain background, but as I looked at them, they seemed to need more elements to make an interesting background.

Several of them will have curtains in the background to provide color and compositional effect. Here is an example. The reds on this one turned out really nice. I've been looking at lots of pictures of theater curtains, and a friend of mine has red velvet curtains. I took some reference photos to get a better understanding of the color, flow of the fabric, and shadows.

I'm going to add elements such as cages, staircase, tiled floor, etc. to make the other paintings work compositionally.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Guns 'N Roses album

Axl Rose had purchased three of my paintings late last year, of which two pieces were to be included in a limited edition album release. To my knowledge, it was never widely released, though I received a copy from the band. I was looking at some stats for my website, and noticed a big spike in views and it appears that there is a big discussion among the GNR fans about the unreleased album, and in particular the images. Here is a link to a blog that discusses it, and they even included my painting "Lizard Part of my Brain."


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I finally finished all the final drawings for the skeleton BDSM series and have started transferring these to panel.  

I got frustrated with one of them - I transferred the piece to panel, and realized on looking at it fresh again that the spanking horse was not in correct perspective.  It's probably going to be a struggle from beginning to end to get that one right - I was unable to locate an actual spanking horse at Mr. S so I had to use references on the net.  The horses in the reference photos were not in the exact positioning as the horse in my drawing, so I had to extrapolate.    I should be used to this by now, as I am always making these sorts of adjustments in my work.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Videography for Omnicircus Performance

I had the opportunity to videotape a performance of Omnicircus on Saturday night. Their founder/director is Frank Garvey, a multimedia artist who composes, designs art robots, and other multimedia visual arts (as well as performs electronic and acoustic music). Garvey asked me to video the whole performance. The piece, Thousand Faces Ball, was a macabre apocalyptic performance piece. The performance space itself is wonderful and interesting, with little light machines with brilliant colors, weird metal sculptures, and paintings by Garvey on the walls painted black.

Above are a couple of stills that I extracted from the video. I had a bit of a hard time navigating around with my ankle in a cast/boot, but I was able to get some interesting footage of the performance.