Thursday, September 24, 2015

Building a Body for Clyde

This is Clyde - an actor in a local movie about the famous Bonnie and Clyde.  I am using his photo I made at the Selma Pilgrimage a few years ago in our class on figures.

Clyde will make a good subject so that we can learn to build the form - from the ground up, so to speak.

Here is how it went together:

the reference pic:

1.  Clyde is tipping his hat on a shady porch.  Starting with placing his feet and declaring where the top of his hat lies is the beginning.  From there, the angles of his body are figured from bottom to top and out the sides where his arms and legs go.

2.  This is painted over a sanded off previous painting that didn't make the cut.   This second layer of oil paint works easily over the previous one.   The light marks are where the sanding went over the textured gessoed layer.     I am totally ignoring  the underneath colors.
Determining where the sun strikes across his body seems important, as well as the cut of the coat as he raises his arm to tip the hat.

Watch later as I change the angles of the legs to go under the body.

3.  Still building color by color - which is shape by shape.   Where the shadows make dark shapes makes definition - just have to get them measured.    Grey hair suggested on the head, which needs to be tilted to the left.   that's done by cutting the background (bluish) along the right side of the head.    The shirt can't remain that intense and light.

4.   Working on the arm and hat to get that tilt of head......where is that ear?   Shadows in the folds get more important,

5.  Got to have some skin color in shade and the grey hair defined and the "air" on the left side of the face, and also the vest separating from the coat needs definition.   And the hand.     Just after this, I start to make a suitable background with something like patio stones for him to stand on.

6.   So he gets buttons.  and some suggestion of the grey short beard.   Later I will suggest more on the hand and the shadowed face.  

The body is built starting at the feet, determining where the angles of arms and legs fall in relation to the head angle.   That gets refined with every brushstroke.
Tomorrow in class we'll see if I can rebuild him.  I have the advantage of painting this once and the students will be painting this without the familiarity I have.
Thanks for following!


Clyde is back.   In our September painting class I chose Clyde again for our study project.  He has turned out to be quite cooperative - a good study for form and we don't have to worry too much about mixing color.  This turned out to be a good way to learn about building form by color by shape by value.  Stroke by stroke.
"Clyde" is an actor in a local movie producer's  film about "Bonnie and Clyde"  whose photo I made at the Selma Pilgrimage a few years ago.
At left is my first sketch to use for the first class on figures
Look at what the painters did:
Carrie chose to use negative space and precise but energetic palette knife work for her study.Values are right on, and he has that gentlemanly stance.

below:    Charlotte captured the gesture very well with excellent value control,and started to "carve" a background before our time ran out.   

Karen kept the values all through the stages and learned
more about keeping more paint on the brush.  He has
quite the gesture.  

Raye got the vote for most dramatic sketch.  Values right on, gesture  and form looks like he is still moving.  And she learned about integrating the 
background with juicy rich paint confidently reforming shapes.  

this is as far as I made it on our demo painting sketch for the class.  I was glad we learned something instead of going for a finished painting.   

Sunday, August 2, 2015


I thought I was the last one to go out West and see places like the Grand Canyon. So recently we spent a couple of weeks "out there".     It's easy to be seduced by summer geology.   I'm sure I couldn't catch the vastness of the West , so this scene from the train is a nice slice of land to remember the trip. It is the pass northward on the Southwest Chief above Raton NM, on the Raton Creek  on the Colorado side. The train chugs northward through the pass on a long slow path, mostly snaking along the creek and over the interstate here and there . This one will get more tweaking.
It went together like this:

the path of the creek bed snaked like the train we rode on.  This is over a pass somewhere in New Mexico/Colorado border.

the lovely lilac sheen on the water contrasted with the warm sandy colors  - that was the attraction.

then I discovered why there is a name for "sage green".  Quite different from our southern hot greens.

A room painted these colors would be cozy.

latter stages..................

thanks for following along.....

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


One big idea I learned from Anne Blair Brown is the value of executing several studies - in several sizes and not necessarily in color.   So I've been invited to paint for the poster for a steeplechase in the spring.  I did make studies for this project, and now I have honed my idea down to only 3 horses.  I want a definite feeling of motion and using diagonals could be the way to emphasize the speed.
I've also learned not to be afraid to scrape and start over - all of the painting or just parts.   Very freeing.

the last photo is the latest study getting to the finishing stage - will it make the cut?

Friday, August 15, 2014

Scary Things

Scary Things - normally one wouldn't think of children as scary, but another artist mentioned that the thought of drawing or painting children was somewhat like Halloween when the face doesn't look completely right from the beginning attempt of drawing or painting.   That reminded me that every painting doesn't need to be a fully realized finished piece.   I wonder why painters are adverse to practice -like piano practice?.      I'm not very skilled with figures and faces, but it's really fun to try.     And I hope someone else is encouraged to give it a try too.

Here are the first stages of "baby face" - don't let it scare you away! :

You can see it went through at least 5 stages not counting the little drawing (with thin paint) done before the actual paint went on.  This little study helped get a likeness of that smile and those eyes, and that's all I hoped for.  Fun!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014


To be recognized by other artists is an honor.   Artist Ann Caudle of Gallery 100 in downtown Huntsville Al is having a show by 9 artists, including her own work this summer. Huntsville is a great place to stroll anytime, and they are also open till 7 on Thursdays and the gallery is full of exciting new artwork.

Beginning June 1 and running through August 23Studio 100 Fine Art Gallery, owned by artist Ann Caudle, is hosting nine regional artists showcasing their Southern Landscapes. Artists include  Jerry Brown, Heike Covell, Robin Roberts, Mary H. Reed, Craig Reynolds, Gina Brown, Carole Foret, Tatyana Hankinson and Katrina Weber. Studio 100 is located at 117 Northside Square. Gallery hours are Mon., Tues., Wed., and Fri. 8am - 5pm, Thursday until 7pm and Saturday 11am - 4pm.

Monday, June 2, 2014


They were getting old, and I was getting picky.  I took an hour to play and loosen up, enjoying all those subtle colors.   Now it's time for fresh onions!

the progress:

this time I started using some oil to make a "wash" similar to the way watercolor starts.

I'm always surprised what a few light smears can turn out to be.

the palette midway - mostly burnt sienna, ultramarine, raw sienna and permanent rose for the leftover shell of a red onion.

these are in the round file now. The onions are more interesting when they make their own shapes .    11x14

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Let's Visit in Gadsden Al

I'm so happy to be invited to the Southeastern Plein Air Invitational event.  That means painting on location with the daily paintings on display and for sale at the Gadsden Museum
Save the date:   April  9 thru April 13,

It would be fun to see you there - visitors get to watch the paintings come together, and there will be a "quick draw" event on Sunday in addition to the reception where visitors can watch even more.  I will be one of 15 experienced plein air painters who will paint at least 2 a day, and each day those 15 painters ' works will go on display at the Gadsden Museum for sale.      there is a link on the website to the Blog, and there will be updates often on the blog.  
You're invited to watch the artwork come alive daily - The Southeastern Plein Air Invitational (SPAI) lights up early April with new events and locations around Gadsden Alabama.
Over a dozen experienced plein air painters will converge to paint locations in Gadsden/Etowah County (April 9-13). The opening reception on Sunday, April 13, 2-4, will launch the exhibition of their work in the galleries of the Gadsden Museum of Art through May 2. 

New this year--
Downtown: Dusk to Dark  The latest trend inplein air painting is the nocturne—atmospheric works of the night often featuring the artificial lights of storefronts, neon, and street lights.  Gadsden’s Broad Street offers the ideal location with a vintage movie theater, period storefronts, and a bustling retail, restaurant, and bar scene.  

Classic Cars on the Coosa  Gleaming chrome, racy styling, and brilliant color combinations make classic cars an appealing and nostalgic subject forplein air painters. Gadsden’s car club members bring their best to the necklace of city parks along the Coosa River for a day that combines natural and automotive beauty.

Dueling Brushes  Prizes, a two-hour time limit, and a picturesque setting make for an exciting contest. In Gadsden’s Historic District, a Victorian house with landscaped garden, a white picket fence, gracious columned porch, and water feature offers the artists many options but they must be quick! Only two hours from start to finish with first, second, third prizes to be awarded and potential sales to me made while the paint is still wet!

The Southeastern Plein Air Invitational for 2014 offers artists, photographers, spectators, and collectors a diverse experience of on-location painting from workshop to exhibition!



Dexterity - just look at all this cowboy handles.  What a working team.  Balance, poise, quickness and accuracy  - it should be an olympic event.   This one was fun to do.    12x16

Here is how it went together:  (some pics may be out of order)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


One of those Tennessee creeks that makes you just want to tip-toe across barefooted.   I did this yesterday as a demo for class this week using a simple undertone of burnt sienna to make the shapes.   The linen panel makes this light approach work well. The paint glides on easily.  11x14

This tractor done today is on a "gesso board"  8x8 and the process is different - painted color shape by color shape using a springy brush with no undertone - just jumped in on a white surface  with those color shapes, "eyeballing" the structure of the tractor parts to build it. The gesso panel is neither slick like the linen nor absorbent.  I enjoy these different approaches of brushwork, surfaces, paint and methods.  It's good to be familiar with what paint can do in different circumstances - and fun.

Turquoise bucket -8x8, $200 unframed
Leipers Creek   11x14, on linen panel, unframed $300
email Robin  for your collection.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Did It Again

Learning to start anew instead of overworking.  The first version lacked color and was very "stiff" looking.  So I started this new one with some new large Rosemary Brushes on these pewter pieces. The Ivory series has lots of stiffness.   Then I ended with a 1" Rosemary Masters Touch mongoose which is much smoother.  Still, my challenge is staying loose.   

email for info     

Friday, February 28, 2014

Keep Practicing

I've been working on brushwork.  It would be nice if I get to the fresher, more energetic look, but I'm far from it.  Maybe I'll take this one and let some paint fly - lose something and gain something.....hmmmmm

Here is the progression:

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


Molly, the lovely Shih Tzu kept a lookout at the door while friends painted, looking both ways with a nap in between.  She has light brown eyes and nose and a friendly personality.

See the slide show below for the progression of how it went together.

Monday, February 10, 2014


I think the "man in the street" doesn't have an idea of how much a portrait can morph through stages.   This portrait  is my project from a Mia Bergeron  portrait workshop sponsored by the Huntsville Art League.  Mia did her best to convey the importance of values first.   For me that is a great challenge - not to mention the struggle to refine my drawing.  The workshop was terrific fun because Mia is a super teacher.  John McLeod is the model - a sculptor.   How someone who works all day with grinders, hammers, chemicals, metal and marble could sit still for us for 2 days is amazing.

this will give an idea of challenges and frustration - the pic below is the last one before the serious adjustments and refining - you can easily see it's just Wrong.

One thing that helped at the finish is an apple app recomended by artist Ann Moller Steverson.   Its called Sight To Size, and it layers photos so I was able to see how far off my drawing was from the pose.  

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


       White horses from a road trip a couple of years ago.    I enjoy seeing artists methods of putting a painting together, so I hope this is useful to you too.   There are so many ways of constructing an image, and this one is like a crossword puzzle,  built one square at a time.   It's a coooold day, perfect for digging through my references for subjects.      
 Below is the more-or -less finished study.  Apologies for   the Iphone photos.      11x14   questions?