Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Bridal Portraits

To give you a taste of some of my latest work, 
I wanted to share some of the bridal portraits that have been commissioned. 

If you have been following my blog, you have seen this one before. This is my wife Sarah and still one of my favorite portraits I have finished to date. The elegance of a wedding gown reminds me of the great portraits of the past, when the patron who was to be painted would always be dressed in their absolute finest attire.

This portrait was fun to work on for a few reasons. One, Abby is the wife of one of my childhood friends and I got to be part of their wedding party. I also allowed myself some more freedom to be a little bit loose and expressive which usually makes for a nicer final piece. I love the detail of the lace on her dress. 

When working on a portrait, of any kind, I first create some sketches in charcoal. The charcoal drawings offer my clients an opportunity to review some different options in terms of pose, composition, and background. 

Once a sketch has been selected, I transpose the drawing to a larger canvas and begin to block in larger shapes of color.

I then begin adding details and working in a wider range of values.

Soon, it begins to actually look like something is actually going on here.

Finally the portrait is finished. All the details in her hands, face, dress, and surrounding have been addressed.


This was another especially fun painting to work on. I love when I have a client who trusts me and gives me the freedom to just paint what I think will look beautiful. Brooke was a great model. She and her family loved the vision that I had for her portrait and I think it turned out pretty well.

(Side Note) I always find it sweet how the holiday season seems to be when friends get engaged. If you have a loved one planning a wedding, consider a portrait as an incredible gift that will last a lifetime and offer a young (or older) couple a beautiful reminder of such a precious time.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Welcome Back!

In the words of my wife, "IT HAS BEEN A MINUTE" since I had the chance to sit down and write a blog post. I guess that's what happens when you pack up and move 3 times, your wife starts school, you have a baby, sell your house, buy a house, and buy a studio, all while trying to make enough artwork to pay your bills. But here we are, back at it and I cannot wait for all that 2018 is shaping up to be. New projects, new clients, new collaborators, and a NEW STUDIO SPACE!

Im starting my New Years Resolution early. I am hoping to be more diligent about writing blog posts with interesting updates on painting and sculpture. Here's to 2018!!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Girl in Blue Dress

Busy. Busy. Busy.
I have not updated this blog in quite some time because I have been so busy. But, in the world of freelance art, busy is good. I never complain about having too many jobs.

Many of the jobs I have been working on recently have been commissioned portraits. 

Here is one of the portraits I really enjoyed working on.

Girl in Blue Dress
Oil on Canvas

Monday, July 20, 2015

Columbia Water Tower

Time-lapse video of a quick oil painting

Columbia Water Tower
Oil on Canvas

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Welcome to The Climb

Sarah and I moved to Columbia for a short period, while she is finishing her Doctorate. Columbia has been nice, but I didn't have a great place to work. With a baby on the way, Sarah, Isabel (the dog), and I were quickly outgrowing our little duplex. I was beginning to get worried about my work situation when a man named Henry Foster approached me and said "you really need to come check out The Climb! " 

So I did. And it was awesome!
The best way to describe The Climb is as an intellectual man cave. Henry and a few other guys had set up a place for people to come and relax, read, paint, work, learn, and have good conversation. Henry, Craig, and I are the painters. Steve, David, and the John's are preachers.

Paintings by the very talented Craig Houston line the walls of the main hallway, surrounding Henry's theological library.

My paintings are in the board room/dining room where we eat lunch almost every day. We always host a few guests for lunch as well. 

We also have a great studio space to work. 
Well... some of us work.

So, now I am welcoming everyone else to come check out our place at 1622 Bull St. in Columbia. There is almost always someone here brewing a fresh cup of coffee... so come on in.
Or visit 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Dad's Portraits

"A portrait affirms; it gives the gift of self to its subject. It says, 'Yes, you are worth spending this time over, your story deserves to be told, you should be recorded for you will not pass this way again."
-David Goatley 

I am currently working on several portraits. As always, I research other artists and their work in addition to using my own reference. It's funny how amazing portraits artists can inspire and depress me at the same time. 
The portraits artist who has had the greatest effect on my craft and my career is my dad, Charlie. People often ask if my dad taught me how to paint. I tell them that with his wealth of art supplies, art books, and original work at my disposal, how could he NOT?

So, I wanted to give my dad a little shout out. Here are just a few of his amazing portraits throughout the years.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Portrait Painting Instructions

Twice a month I teach a painting class for some friends in Columbia. The students in my class were interested in painting people and asked if we could spend a few weeks working on portraits. I am posting some updated process photos as a reference for my class. And maybe other painters out there will find this helpful if they stumble upon my blog.

1. The Palette

There are lots of different ways to mix a palette for portrait painting. This is one that I have like and chose as a starting point for our class. 

Our starting colors are...

Cadmium Red Medium
Alizarin Crimson
Yellow Ochre
Viridian Green
Cerulean Blue

The first color to mix is the base flesh tone. 

Cadmium Red + Yellow Ochre = Base

Then make a cooler and a warmer (pinker) version of the base.

Base + Viridian = Cool 
Base + Alizarin = Warm

The next step is to add increasing amounts of white to create several stages of lightened color.

 Cool--> Light cool---> Lighter---> Lighter
Base--> Light Base---> Lighter---> Lighter
Warm--> Light Warm---> Lighter---> Lighter

Next, I made a warm brown. I lighten this color with stages of yellow ochre.

Cad Red + Alizarin + Viridian = Warm Brown
Warm Brown---> Yellower---> Yellower---> Yellower

Then I take the same warm brown
 and lighten it with Cerulean Blue, White and maybe some more Viridian Green.

Warm brown---> Cooler---> Cooler---> Cooler

I also made a little purple.
Alizarin + Cerulean = Purple

Note: This palette is just a suggested starting point. Other colors will need to be added depending on the lighting, complexion, hair color, etc. I went ahead and added raw umber and naples yellow to my palette as I looked over my reference photo.

2. Painting Shapes

Before any painting, I began with a charcoal drawing. Maybe I will post another set of instructions on drawing the face soon. The drawing was done on a toned background. Never start painting on a white canvas. Many artists start their painting by adding in all of the dark values and slowly working the piece lighter and lighter. I agree that artists should save highlights until the end, but I suggest adding some darks and some lights. These values on a mid-tone background will give you a better sense of the overall value of your work and help you compare the lights and darks as you go. 

As I start painting I am looking for large shapes of color/value. Do not worry about blending the areas between shapes. The two major issues I see with beginner painters is 1) a fear of lights and darks and 2) and a strong urge to blend everything together from the start. 

On a scale from 1-10 your painting should include some values on the entire spectrum. I see lots of beginners who have a hard time going lighter than 3-4 or darker than 6-7. Everything stays really dull, right around the middle. 

If the transition from one shape to the next is too harsh and you must blend some, do so by making new colors and outlining the shapes. Unlike drawing, where an artist makes a darker value by pressing harder and harder into the paper, painting changes color by what you mix on your palette, NOT how the paint is applied. On the lighter side of my forehead I wanted to show some of the transition from the base color to the light. So I mixed several color gradients between the two shapes from dark to light. Then I continued to outline the dark shape lighter and lighter. 

None of the colors I mixed are too outrageous. But, some of the colors I have are more vibrant than what I see in my reference photo. That is okay. I tell my class to look for opportunities to use your color. There will be some blues,pinks, greens, and purples. If necessary you can mute these colors later on, but it's good to go ahead and include them early on.

I continued to paint the large shapes until the entire face is covered. I also, began dividing some of the larger shapes into smaller shapes with minor value/hue shifts. 

3. Transitions 
After my entire face had some color I really started to focus on the transitions. Again, I am simply outline existing shapes with stages of color between the two shapes. Flatter parts, like my forehead, will have larger areas for color change. Whereas, sharp areas like the bridge of my nose, may have several values squeezed into thin lines over a small area.

I spot checked my colors with my reference and began to tweak the colors here and there. Several places on my face were more purple than green. I used and thin wash in some places, and in other I had to completely repaint an area with the color adjustment. But a hint of even my brightest colors still shines through. 

Check back for an update with the final piece!!!!