Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas 2009- Nubbie portrait

Worked on a portrait of a dog for a friend of mine this weekend. Nubbie was tragically killed by a car a couple of weeks ago. He raced out of the house on a snowy morning only to see another dog across the street. At 5 pounds, he had a bone to pick with anyone that dared come close to his domain. His wife witnessed the whole thing. I offered my services in memory of this little guy. Hope to post final work's due!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Rock Bottom Painting- Revised

The couple that purchased this painting during Open Canvas 2009 allowed me to take it back to my studio for some "tweaking". This is the improved version shown with the before image.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


My nieces' first child JD. Born with special needs, hoping this will be a nice xmas present ordered up by Dad.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Open Canvas 2009

Open Canvas was held this past Saturday. This was my third consecutive year. I'd say there were more people and reasonable bids placed on most artwork. This event is coordinated by Jeff Kursel, in conjunction with MIAD and Eisner Art Museum, with auction proceeds going to these two organizations.

I plotted and planned for weeks trying to decide what to do. When I got there I still didn't know what I'd end up with. So I finally decided to do the unreasonable: paint TWO pieces. So, starting at 4pm and finishing by 10, I cranked out two acrylics; one Milwaukee streetscape and the other, abstract. FUN and exhilerating! Plus I managed to "sell" both; one for $1000 and the other for $300. Based on what I saw for final bids, my combined pieces placed me in the top 5 artists. I'll take that and hope to be back next year. Thanks Jeff and everyone who came down!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Kahn knock-off

I was looking through an old magazine I have and came across art from Wolf Kahn. Man, this guy is good. Inspired me to create this...

Good news

Good news: I got a commission for a portrait from a patron of Almont Gallery. I also finished the Introduction to Oil Painting class I was teaching for adults. And lastly, I bought a boatload of inventory from the art supply store that was going out of business in Waukesha. Great price and motivation to start producing more art!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

what to do

I know I don't want to be sitting here in this office, looking out the window on a wet, cloudy and cool day. I went over to the mall and browsed through some art books. One part of me says, " I can be a full time artist" and then I don't know if I have the energy. The need to maintain a lifestyle I've grown accustomed too is the biggest barrier. I could probably figure out how to build a business with enough income to feel like I'm putting in my fair share of household income...but then why don't I do it? Motivation? Desire? I hate what I'm doing career-wise right now.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Time Lapse

I've been busy with art, just lazy about making posts. Off on a abstract tangent lately.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

ArtFest 2009

Yesterday in Waukesha. I got an Honorable Mention, but no sales. Weather was absolutely perfect.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Tosa Plein Air Work

Done during the week long event at Hart Park center by the Menomonee River.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Pop Goes the King

My tribute piece to MJ. Conte crayon/acrylic on mylar.

11 x 14" $400

Sunday, June 28, 2009

My submission for the Cedarburg Plein Air competition. Painted at Covered Bridge Park.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Class begins

I started teaching my Introduction to Oil Painting class tonight. 6 adults, most with little to no experience with painting and none with oils. Highlight of the class was one woman getting a huge streak of blue paint across her forehead and then wiping it into her hair. Spent the next 15 minutes with turp and soap cleaning up!

Basic color wheel/mixing exercize that tested most students. Laid down underpainting for next week project.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Got a call from gallery today to let me know I sold another painting! Hurray, I can pay the rent for 4 more months. Now how do I live off my art? How about paint more and focus. Sorry....didn't even take a photo off this piece. Shame on me!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Plein Air- Vernon Wisconsin

It's been awhile since I've painted outside (plein air) but with several events coming up I figured I'd get some practice in. Stumbled on this spot while biking the other day and decided to hike back in. Worked a lot on my value range since I really feel there are some problems I'm having in that area. Color didn't matter as much this time around. Even though I finished it in an hour, the sun had moved enough to wipe out the shadows I was looking at to begin with. These are the sequence photos:

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

My art class Kids

Hundreds of kids from Michigan to Wisconsin have been involved in my after-school program called Aspiring Artists. Here are some of them after our Mother's Day card project.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Art Crawl Craziness

I was involved in the Waukesha Art Crawl over the weekend. We had some great weather and the streets were packed with people and energy! As an artist with Almont Gallery, I painted en plein air right outside the front door. Sometimes good things happen, especially with people watching. Below is what I whipped together. The underpainting was done in Cadmium Red and the darks blocked in with Hooker's Green. The sky was primary yellow. In the end, I ditched the tree as it would have made things too busy.

Crawl Craziness #56
Acrylic 20x24"

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Completed piece for friend of mine. Probably took around 50 hours. Lots of learning and trial and error since this was the first horse for me. Hung it tonight at the gallery in preparation for the Waukesha Art Crawl Saturday.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Fridgid Plein Air

Last Saturday I went out in Menomonee Falls to paint with the WIPAPA local plein air group. OMG was it cold! The paint got real stiff and my fingers were numb after an hour. Thank God a coffee shop was a mere 200 yds away. But, I did paint! Two versions, same subject, photos taken back in my (warm) studio.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Horse in Progress

I finally took a deep breath and put a bunch of paint on the palette and said "let's do this." Over the next 3 hours I got most of the first layers done. There's a lot of purple & blue in this horse?

Except for the use of Burnt Sienna, all the browns are mixed from RYBG. Trying to limit my use of black, but Paynes Gray with blue seems to make a nice dark vs black. Repositioned the ears as they were pointing off to the sides and back. The client requested this change.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Lots of Wet Paint

Got to put down a lot of paint today on a portrait that I should have done weeks ago. Never did a horse before so it was a bit daunting. Sketched it all up and put in the background in one session. A friend of mine commissioned this to give to a friend of hers, who owns this horse and is the rider.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sand In Our Toes, Maui

Pastel, 16x20"
Fresh off the easel, the first of many to come from my trip to Hawaii. We'd just got done exploring the West side of Maui...and too many shops. It was hot and sunny (a rarity during our trip) so I had to pull over at one of the many roadside beaches. Got out of the car, kicked off our shoes and dipped our feet in the ocean to cool off. These huge trees hugged the sand and draped over this couple off in the distance. What a great way to spend an afternoon!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Back from Hawaii

Just got back from a week in Hawaii with my family. Plenty of awesome sights with hundreds of photos to work from. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Contributors Oil, 24x30 $500

Finally back at the easel. Found God and inspiration long enough to bang this out (in 2 hours). Worth a click on the image to see the details. Cross between frustration, fear and worry. On 3x primed gallery wrap canvas. I'm sick of buying frames!

Back to some Art- For Kids

I teach an after-school program called Aspiring Artists. Here are some of my 27 kids from Underwood Elementary in Wauwatosa. This is a great program that I started in Michigan. Any artist interested in learning more about this opportunity, please contact me.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Creating My Own Inferno (from Hell)

This fireplace project is killing me, mainly in the time it's taking. I've tried to think of it as an art project, first with the design, then with the installation of stone veneer from Eldorado Stone, and now with the mantel build.

Here's where it all started. We just didn't like the old red brick, country schoolhouse look. Standard crap that the builder put in every house in our sub.

Step 1- Demolition. It's fun, except that I had to haul out broken concrete and bricks in a plasticc bucket 50 lbs at a time, in subzero weather to a burial spot behind my house!

Step 2: Installation of concrete backerboard

Nothing was level, plus we decided to go all the way to the ceiling. Another challenge was attaching the board to the existing concrete. You need a hammer drill, expensive screws, and a lot of patience as some holes worked, some didn't. Anyway, the next photo shows all the backerboard up and in place.
The boards have to be attached very well because this is what your stone is going to be attached to. Take time to locate your wall studs and make sure your screws are securely threaded into the exisiting concrete. They have a tendency to not want to go in all the way. Ever try to thread one of these screws in with a screwdriver? Power drill doesn't do it all the way, and the last 3-4 threads are mightly tough!

Step 3- Application of the scratchcoat

First, you need to know that I've only seen this all done at a place I own down in Scottsdale, AZ. The guys were expert masons. I, on the other hand, am not a mason. I searched for other web sites for guides to installing the screen, which led to me taking it all down after figuring out that the mesh does slope down, cuz as you drag the concrete up the screen, that's what holds it in place. I thought the cups should face up, but then the mud doesn't grab. Lesson 1....of 78! Here's me, working my way up the wall. Did I say I was havin' fun? NOT. P.S. Mixing concrete in your living room is just the beginning of the dust. Word of advice: REMOVE EVERYTHING FROM YOUR ROOM and seal it off with sheets or tarps or whatever. Then only you can live and breathe in your perfect dustbowl. It really gets dusty !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Step 5- Locating your Mantel

Don't get too ahead of yourself. Where is the mantel going to go? You need to have it designed and measured out on paper at this point. I put up some boards exactly the height and depth as what the final piece would be. I also bought a piece of crown molding that was what we wanted and kinda mocked up the way it might look.

Step 6- The Stone Arrives, 4 boxes, 500# on a palette.

We selected a type of stone that we liked, but proved to be the most difficult to install. It's called a stacked stone and the installation technique is called dry stack, to give it the appearance of no grout between stones. Looked great at our place down south and on the Eldorado website. The approach calls for putting together the puzzle of pieces so they all fit nice and tight against your wall. Let's just say that the four boxes of manmade stone doesn't exactly lend itself to this nice and tight, everything-just-fits-together jigsaw puzzle. As suggested, we laid it out on the floor first. Remember to make a cutout of your fireplace opening to build around.

Didn't I say to remove ALL furniture and goodies from your room? That's part of the lesson here. I didn't take ALL furniture, flat screen TV's, home theatre equipment, lamps, etc out of the room...yet. I waited until they were covered with dust, then took them ALL out of the room.

Step 7- Let's Start Laying Some Stone!

The wife really needs to start seeing some progress. Hell, I need to feel some progress! It's a painting honey, and works of art take time...a lot of time in this case. This is week 2. I've done some light concrete work in my youth, remodeling grocery stores with my uncle. This is different, and looks count. I used a concrete adhesive even though Eldorado didn't mention to do so. Make sure your mud mix is leaning toward wet vs dry, especially in this type of install.

I also had to keep in mind the floor. We're going to install some travertine stone, so your first row needs clearance to accomodate for the floor. So far, so good. Everything pretty much fits as I had it laid out on the floor. Edges needed to be cut off. That required the use of a grinder with a diamond wheel.
THIS IS WHERE THE REAL DUST BEGINS! You're about to start eating a lot of concrete dust, as A LOT of these stones need to be trimmed to fit correctly. Everything in this puzzle doesn't come together as planned. Hey, it's remodeling, retrofit...cluster f*#%k !
Having a wetter mix, (in retrospect) will allow you to use less mortar and get a tighter fit as you stack the stones. I had problems when I got passed the first couple rows with stones coming "unset" because I think the mortar was too dry. When I went to push the next stone in place above it, you broke the seal of mortar and had to start over. This happened several times, especially with smaller, thin stones.

Step 8- Finish Laying Stone

I'm working my way up and around the opening. This turned out to be one of the easiest areas. The previous brick had a large steel angle iron to bridge the opening. This stone was harder to get all the bottoms aligned, so I opted out on support. Only time will tell if it all falls down.

Step 9- Working around the mantel area

I decided on height and depth for my mantel and screwed some wood in. All I had to do was cut stone to fit in the box. Easier said than done. Especially as I worked up the wall and started counting stones I had left. Spanning the larger area didn't work as well using the layout I had on the floor. Extra mortar, and cuts needed to make it all fit, resulted in things just not going as planned. Such is the life of a remodeler.

Step 11- The final push

All the stone in place. Ran out, so opted to add a top row of crown to compliment the mantel. As you'll see in the end, it worked out pretty good.

Now for the floor. Just 4 pieces of travertine, a little grout and that's it. Turned out that the clearance I had planned for on the bottom row of stone was for ceramic and required a bunch of cutting to get things to fit for travertine. Just more dust.

The Masterpiece. Cutting the crown molding looked great pre-staining. After that the wood warped a bit and created havoc on the corners. Some extra trimming, pushing and we're good to go. New carpet and new paint topped it all off. 1 month, and a lot of work transformed this room into what we hoped for. I'm going to put in a gas insert and skip the wood burning, so just another $500 and it's good to go. A work of art that stretched the limits of my imagination! Note to self; stay out of the concrete business!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Absolutely consumed by my latest "art" project: remodeling my fireplace! Wielding a trowel vs a palette knife and mortar vs oil paint. My hands hurt, but there is a creative element involved. Stay tuned for pix to follow.

Good news today; Almont Gallery wants me to exhibit starting in late February. This is "the gallery" to be part of in Waukesha, WI.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Happy New Year

River Splash in Fall
16x20, Oil
Off we go in 2009. I've felt a bit complacent about my art. I recently went to a neighboring gallery, Almont Gallery and talked with the owner about traffic and sales. January will be slowest but she expects '09 to be okay. I only finished 7 paintings all of '08 and most of those came end of the year.

With my new spot at The Clinton Street Gallery which was recently part of a grand ribbon cutting ceremony for the mayor, I feel this could be a good year to get some commissions and sell a bunch. My goal is to be in 3 galleries by April 1st. I'm teaching an after-school program in Wauwatosa, WI which is getting me in front of hundreds of kids (and their parents), so I might be able to get some portrait commissions from that. Time will tell.

My latest piece (above) was just completed and was part of my fall trip up North last year. A lot of knife work with the water being done with combo brushwork and knife.