Thursday, December 27, 2007

Free At Last

So, here it finally is. I've been working on this painting since November 2006. It's 3'x3' oil on canvas. It is one of the monster commissioned pieces that I've been working on lately, so it is not for sale since it already has a home.

To date, this is the largest landscape painting that I've completed. Unlike most of the smaller paintings that I've been posting and selling on this blog, this painting was completed with the use of reference photos, a practice from which I've been trying to minimalize. Working from life is best, but sometimes you just can't manage it. This cypress grove is just off the interstate outside of Conway, and painting from the shoulder of the road just wasn't an option.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Sorry that I haven't posted any new paintings lately. I've been working on two large, commissioned pieces. Once they are finished, I hope to have some new work to show.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Hot and Dry

Oil on cradled panel, 9"x12," $100.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

August Hickory

Oil on stretched canvas, 18" x 24," $500.

Friday, August 17, 2007


Oil on cradled panel, 8" x 10," $100.00.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Haze and Hickories

Oil on cradled panel, 8" x 10", SOLD.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Big Ben

Gouache on illustration board, approximately 10"x10," $275.00.

This painting was a project at SCAD. Using our gouache sets (black, white, primary red, primary blue, and primary yellow only) we were supposed to paint a picture in the style of Chuck Close from a photograph.

I think the measurements are correct, but please check with me if I haven't updated this post and you are interested in the painting.

The Ozarks

Watercolor on paper, approximately 5"x7," SOLD.

Savaged Orange

Oil on cradled panel, 9"x12," not for sale (my wife confiscated this one).

Mermaid II (finished at last)

Vanessa, since you asked, here it is. Sorry, the colors are a bit whited out by the flash. Compositionally, there are several things I'd change if I were to paint this one over again, but I learned a lot from it none the less.

American Elm

Oil on cradled maple panel, 9"x12," currently unavailable.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Work in Progress, Red Wings

Here is a painting that I've been working on for a long time. I'm still not entirely happy with it. The halo is painted with a mixture of linseed oil and "gold" powdered pigment. It's too "flat" in an un-flattering way, so I'm thinking about leafing over it. Also, I think I'm going to repaint the dress in red and seriously modify the background to correct the paintings questionable composition. On the upside, I still really like the red wings.

Monday, February 19, 2007

A $6000 Lesson (Part IV)

For those of you who would like to do some more reading on canvas stretching, check out the link Tex left in one of the comment sections. Check it out, it's good stuff.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Three Oranges

Oil on canvas panel, 8" x 10," SOLD.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A $6000 Lesson (Part III)

Here is the canvas once we've finished streching it. Ideally, the canvas ought to be tight as a drum, but, in this case, mine isn't. This canvas didn't get stored in the best place and became wrinkled. The wrinkles did not stretch all of the way out. In this case, this is good since it gives me an excuse to show you a trick my wife taught me.

Prime the back of the canvas with gesso. Try your best to push the gesso all the way to the edges of the canvas even thought there isn't much room between the stretcher and the canvas back.

Give it a second coat of primer if needed. In this case, only one coat was necissary. This canvas was preprimed, but you can add an extra coat to the front if you feel the need to do so.

Now, the canvas is ready to paint.

A $6000 Lesson (Part II)

Since our stretcher is finished, it is time to stretch the canvas. In addition to the canvas, you'll need a stapler (unless you're into copper tacks), scissors, and canvas stretching plyers. I have both a manual and electric stapler. Both work. The electric one is easier on my hands, but the staples don't always get driven in all of the way. This leaves me driving them the rest of the way in with a hammer. The manual one is hard on the hands if you're doing a lot stretching. It does, however, do a better job of driving in the staples.

The first step is cutting the canvas down to size. You want roughly 3 to 4 inches of canvas beyond the edge of the stretcher. Center the stretcher in the middle of the canvas.

Start stapling. I usually start on the longest edges of the canvas (unless it is a square of course). Place one staple through the canvas in the center of the stretcher's edge. Stretch the canvas tight from the opposite side (grip edge of canvas with plyers and leverage with the back of the stretcher) and staple it in place. Staple the canvas into the back of the stretcher, not the edge. Repeat on the short edges. Then, working towards the corners from the middle staple, stretch and staple the canvas. Alternate between the short edges and long edges; try to reach the corners at the same time.

When you reach the corner, fold one edge of canvas under the other and tuck it in place (see last photo in sequence). To make a neat corner, some trimming with the scissors may be necissary.

Once you have a neat looking corner, staple it in place. Repeat for each corner. I try to make the corner seam (see picture above) face down or up depending on whether it will be the top or bottom edge of the painting. Then, if it is hung without a frame, it ought to be invisible.

Sorry, this picture ought to have been earlier in the sequence. This is me tucking one edge under the other.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Cedar Grove, Winter Snow

Oil on cradled maple panel, 9"x12," SOLD.
The first picture's colors are a bit muted in an attempt to show a less glaringly white image of the snow. The color of the trees is much more accurate in the second picture.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

A $6000 Lesson (Part I)

As you may know, I spent a term at the Savannah College of Art and Design. I paid (borrowed) $6,000 for that pleasure, and this is one of the best things I learned while there: how to build a good canvas. And, I offer this knowledge to you for free.

Really, the first question is, "Why build your own stretcher?" There is no shortage of places selling them premade, pre-primed, and ready to go. As soon as you get it home, you're ready to paint.

Here are the reasons why I prefer to build my own canvas:

1) It is cheaper than buying a premade one.
2) You can build strange, customs sizes (I'm working on a painting idea which would call for an 18" x 9' canvas).
3) You get a stronger, higher quality canvas on which to work.

As an artist, I don't like painting on a canvas where the stretcher is so close to the painting surface that every brush stroke brings the canvas' back into contact with the stretcher. In particularly bad cases, you can even see the stretcher profile through the painted canvas.

By using at least a half inch piece of quarter-round , the canvas is lifted up and away from the stretcher. The only place that the canvas face is in contact with anything is the edge of the stretcher.

Below is a profile view of a stretcher I recently built. The strecher is made from 1"x 4" pine and a piece of 3/4" quater round.

This is the profile of a student/hobby grade premade stretcher. Note how shallow a profile the outer edge has and how wide of an edge (apx. 1/4") will be in contact with the canvas once stretched.

Here is the final product.

I build all of my stretchers out of pine 1"x 3" or 1"x 4" and pine quater round. Do not buy treated lumber for a canvas stretcher. The chemicals will harm the painting. Instead, us untreated lumber meant for interior wood work, cabinets, and furniture. This lumber is can be found at any of the big-box home improvement stores (Lowe's, Home Depot, et cetera).

Before all of my tools were stollen last year, I could crank out two or three 3' x 4' stretchers in an hour or so. The ideal tools for this are a miter saw, a brad or finish nailing gun with compressor, and a biscuit cutter (this is used to join the corners). However, since I currently have none of these tools, I used a hand saw, a drill, screws, and a right angle square (for checking to see if all corners are square and marking 45 degree cuts). Doing it all by hand takes a lot longer.

The short how-to for building a strecher (sorry, I didn't think to take step by step pictures at the time):

1) Glue and nail (or screw) quarter-round to stretcher boards. If using screws, predrill holes, and sink them below the top edge of the quarter-round. The heads should not come in contact with the canvas.

2) Decide on what size stretcher you want; cut boards to length.

3) Miter cut each corner at a forty-five degree angle. Lay boards out to check the fit, make adjustments as needed.

4) Use biscuit cutter to join each of the corners together, use lots of wood glue. If you don't have a biscuit cutter, glue corners and join with finishing nail or screws (pre-drill screw holes).

5) Using thin panaling or small bits of wood, brace corners from the top side. The braces should be thinner/lower than the top edge of the quarter-round. Glue and nail/screw in place.

6) Let glue dry. Once dry, you are ready to stretch the canvas.

Concept Art - Mermaid Sketch