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!!!!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Inventory and Christmas Sale

Its that season again!!
I am offering a 10% discount on anything bought before Christmas to anyone who "shares" a link to this blog on Facebook. The work can also be seen at Over the Mantel gallery for my friends in columbia. Consider ART for your holidays. Contact me for purchases and further information. 
Merry Christmas!

Big Rob Oil on Canvas 60”x40”  4,500
Big Rob
Oil on Canvas

Billiard Players Oil on Canvas 40”x30”  $1,400

Billiard Players
Oil on Canvas

Sunrise, Carolina Coast Oil on Canvas  36”x24” $2,200
Sunrise, Carolina Coast
Oil on Canvas

Last Light Oil on Canvas 18”x24” $750
Last Light
Oil on Canvas

Market St. Charleston Oil on Canvas 24”x48” $1000
Market St. Charleston
Oil on Canvas

Charleston Tree Oil on Canvas 26"x16" $375
Charleston Tree
Oil on Canvas

Winter Creek Oil on Canvas 16”x20” $600
Winter Creek
Oil on Canvas

Sun and Snow Oil on Canvas 30”x24” $2000
Sun and Snow
Oil on Canvas

Marsh Reflection Oil on Canvas 12”x9” $300
Marsh Reflection
Oil on Canvas

Ruins, St Matthews-  Oil on Canvas 35”x44” $4000-5,500(framed)
Ruins, St Matthews
Oil on Board

Mountain Stream Oil on Canvas 20"x16" $450
Mountain Stream
Oil on Canvas

Road through Cotton Oil on canvas 16"x20" $500
Road through Cotton
Oil on canvas

Midlands Cotton Triptych Oil on Board 12"x22" $475
Midlands Cotton Triptych
Oil on Board

Onions Oil on Canvas 8"x10" $150
Oil on Canvas

Onions II Oil on Canvas 9”x12” $100
Onions II
Oil on Canvas

Split Onion Oil on Canvas 9”x12” $150
Split Onion
Oil on Canvas

Silver and White Oil on Canvas 24”x18” $425
Silver and White
Oil on Canvas

Spoons Oil on Canvas 14”x11” $300
Oil on Canvas

Silverware Oil on Canvas 11”x14” $300
Oil on Canvas

Forks Oil on Canvas 14”x11” $300
Oil on Canvas

Sliced Oil on Canvas 12"x9" $175
Oil on Canvas

Apple reflections Oil on Cancas 16”x20” $400
Apple reflections
Oil on Canvas

Cream and Sugar Oil on Canvas 16”x20” $500
Cream and Sugar
Oil on Canvas

Peppers Oil on Canvas 11”x14” $300
Oil on Canvas

Charlotte and the turtle Oil on Canvas 16”x20” $450
Charlotte and the turtle
Oil on Canvas

Muse II Oil on Canvas 18”x24” $500
Muse II
Oil on Canvas

Muse I Oil on Canvas 16”x20” $450
Muse I
Oil on Canvas

Garibaldi’s Oil on Canvas 100”x65” $11,000
Oil on Canvas

A Generational Cycle  Oil on Canvas 48”x36” $3,500
A Generational Cycle
Oil on Canvas

Life Sentence  Oil on Canvas 48”x38” $3,500
Life Sentence
Oil on Canvas

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Ascending Christ

"And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
After saying this, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him.

When the architects at McMillian Pazdan and Smith first came to my dad to discuss the art that would be placed outside of the new St. Francis Cancer Treatment Center in Greenville SC, the idea was for a small to medium sized, semi abstracted, serviceable sculpture. Someone suggested the idea of a representation of Christ ascending into heaven. Immediately, my dad and I knew that small or serviceable would not do. Only the best we could possibly create would suffice.

As always, we started with concept drawings and sketches. We mapped out ideas and then took hundreds of photos as reference for anatomy and drapery. I had an idea to create robes that fall all the way to the ground. These robes could then serve as the support for the figure allowing the feet of Christ to be lifted off the ground as he rises into the air. After the drawings were completed a miniature maquette was made. 

To start the full size figure, we had to spend a few months of planning and engineering. Our good friend Bill Sykes helped engineer to armature. Because of the tremendous weight that comes with an 11ft clay sculpture, an armature was needed to prevent the piece from collapsing. A steel bar was installed from ceiling to floor in our studio. Steel pipes were put in place where the arms and legs would be. Next we glued pink insulation foam to the pipes. The foam gave the interior structure some body and some strength while adding very little additional weight to the final clay piece. The foam was then carved down to fit the desired form. 

To ensure accurate proportions, we put the clay on as a nude figure first. It is difficult to keep the various body parts proportional to one another when working in the large scale. How far is the distance between a man's heel and knee, if the man wears size 41 shoes?

The next step was to add clothes to the figure. Copper wire was added to some of the flowing drapes that would not be able to support their own weight otherwise. 
Photos, like the one below, that include my dad or myself, show how large this piece really is. 

Here I am working on the pierced feet of Christ. The steel frame was still visible at this point in the sculpting process. Once the clay was cast and bronzed, the steel bar was removed. The only thing holding the figure off the ground will be cloth, giving him the weightless feeling of the ascension.

One of my favorite views of the sculpture is from the rear. I was really pleased with how the billowy folds of his drapery turned out.

After the clay is complete, my main man Carl from the Inferno Art Foundry came to our studio to begin the casting. He first paints the entire sculpture in several layers of liquid rubber. Plaster is then added on top of the rubber. The rubber sinks into every detail and the plaster gives it additional strength. Once everything dried, Carl took apart the casts he made, loaded them in his van, and headed back to Atlanta. At the foundry, the casts are filled with molten wax. So, when the casts are again removed, we are left with an identical wax copy of the original sculpture. The wax is then covered in a heat resistant ceramic.

Here are some pictures of Jesus' head; in wax and covered with the ceramic.

The ceramics are made with vents and holes in them. This is so that when the pieces are heated and the wax melts again all of the wax can escape leaving a hollow ceramic shell. The vents are then reused as a funnel to pour molten bronze into the hollow ceramic.

Here is a section of the bronze, after the ceramic is sandblasted away.

Dad went to approve the final sculpture after all the bronze pieces had been welded back together. The patina color was also picked out on this visit.

A heavy duty crane was used to place the 3000+ lb sculpture of Christ into place. And Carl came back to handle the installation. In this picture Carl is drilling into the concrete base to create an attachment for the bronze.

While Carl handled the light work, I cut the plastic wrap off of the figure. Boy I was exhausted.

Finally, the piece was complete and installed. As we cleaned up the mess from the installation, a good friend of mine, who is currently battling cancer, walked up to The Cancer Treatment Center. She had just been reassigned to this new location. This woman, just younger than me, has been battling cancer for a few years now. But, despite her situation of pain and fear, she is just a ray of sunshine every time I see her. I was sooo happy to see her and it was fitting that it should be on this day. The purpose of The ascending Christ sculpture is to be a beacon of hope and a sign of inspiration for all those who enter the treatment center. All along, I had known this and I had imagined the faces of those who might be touched by our work. This day however, I was blessed to see one of those faces as she looked looked into the face of Christ, on her way to treatment. The entire experience was one I will never forget. The entire project has been the highlight of my career and a blessing to my life. Hopefully it will be blessing to many more.

"The Ascending Christ"

"And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.”