Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Year of Painting, A Year of Patience and Time

During 2009 my time as a painter has offered some of the most rewarding experiences of my life. During the calendar year of 2009 I painted 35 paintings ranging from 5x7” to 36” 72” in size. I was once asked what I think my strongest attributes as an artist are. I think most artists would try to answer this question based on how they see their style of art. One artist I know considers his best attribute to be his bold use of expressive colors. Other artists might describe their strengths based on teachers, mentors or perhaps the attributes of the great artists throughout history. For me there is no doubt that my strongest attributes are based on my firm understanding of the importance of patience and time. Some people think I’m nuts in my “stopwatch” mentality of painting. If I know a 16x20” painting typically takes me 24 hours of painting time and I do a second 16x20” and it takes only 20 hours - Is this second painting inferior to the first? Maybe I’m my own worst critic, but I would answer that question with an affirmative YES! Patience and time do matter.

I sit here pondering how I will spend my New Years Eve. Will I go out to a restaurant? Will I watch movies? Will I watch college football? I enjoy all these things, but I think I will most likely end 2009 the way it began – and spend some time in front of the easel remembering the importance of patience and time in painting and life.

Happy New Year Everyone!

Painting shown is Double Falls 36x72" Acrylic on Canvas (The first completed painting of 2009)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Sweetwater Creek

Sweetwater Creek is located in Eastern North Carolina near Williamston. During a recent trip to the region I took some pictures from the highway overpass. Things like sunken trees and dark muddy water with brilliant defined reflections make this a very interesting landscape.

There are several different acrylic painting techniques I used to create this picture. The water was painted in different grays, greens and purples – when complete I applied a thick sap green glaze over the water this allowed for a sharp contrast with the foreground. The grassy area in the foreground is different bands of greens and yellows accented by speckles of contrasting greens and yellows to represent the wet grass. The further background in the top 1/3 of the painting represents the dense forestry I saw in that area.

Certainly the most involved and eye catching elements of this work are the trees. The detail work and heavy impasto allow these trees to jump off the canvas. In some cases (like the red in the upper left) dried paint/glaze is adhered to the canvas using gel medium.

Sweetwater Creek 20x20” Acrylic on Canvas

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Painting on Metal

I’ve done a few paintings where I painted directly on sheets of aluminum. When doing this I like to leave portions of the metal exposed in the final painting as the shimmering surface adds some interesting effect.

To do a painting like the one shown I start by masking out the portions where the metal will be exposed, in this case rocks within a mountain stream. After the masking tape has been applied to the selected areas, I cover the entire surface with a metal primer. The primers will dry in a few hours and I begin painting the surface. I like to use acryl gouache to do paintings on metal – this is a multi-surface paint with good adhesion since it dries matte and is opaque there is little chance for streaking or surface exposure. When the paint is finished I’ll remove the masking tape and add some highlights to the exposed metal.

Shown - Mountain Stream #1 12x18" Acryl Gouache on Aluminum

Friday, December 18, 2009

Grassy Creek Falls

I try to think of my paintings in three sections. Usually those sections are sky, water and land. In most cases each section occupies between 1/4 and 1/3 of the entire painting surface. This painting was a bit unique and more challenging in that land (the rocks making up the waterfall) occupied over 85% of the surface. The reason for the greater challenge comes from the intricacies of all the details. In painting the water or sky I tend to use broader bands of color and therefore these can be done quicker. This also makes the painting process a bit less tedious in that I can think of it in sections.

Despite the challenges of the compositions, I am very pleased with this painting. The patterns of the rock and the glazing elements of the waterfall and sky really make various elements pop off the canvas. This 24x24” work took over 35 hours to complete. It really is a nice complement to Crabtree Falls and Crabtree Creek which are also 24x24” and are also inspired from this same region of western North Carolina.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Gustav Klimt?

Recently another artist mentioned my paintings somewhat reminded her of the works of Gustav Klimt. Although several people have made this reference over the years I always dismissed it, thinking only of Klimt’s ‘Golden Phase’ where he painted The Kiss and other figure works. In looking at the work done during this phase I could see similarities to my style, but perhaps through my own stubbornness I decided not to make a comparison with people and landscapes. I now know Klimt painted somewhere around 50 landscapes in his short life. In these works I can definitely see similarities of our styles. In Klimt’s Pear Tree that is shown I love the multitude of colors used to accentuate the leaves, yet there is still enough contrast to separate the tree trunks, grass and sky.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Crabtree Creek - Near Little Switzerland

This is the second painting I completed that is inspired from a recent trip to Western North Carolina. This painting depicts an area of Crabtree Creek about 1/4 mile up from Crabtree Falls. The picture was taken on a crisp autumn day in early November.

In choosing the color selection I used more vibrant colors than what is shown in the photograph. I started painting the water with a selection of my favorite blues including: Cobalt Blue, Indigo and Midnight Blue. The actual color shown in the picture is more of a brown, black – but I could not resist taking advantage of the vibrancy of these incredible blues. This picture was taken on a clear day early in the morning – my intent with the far background of yellow and bright greens was to give the effect of sunlight popping through the trees. Unfortunately what I found was there was not enough contrast with first tier of foliage vs. the trees that are in more of the foreground area. To gain this contrast I used a technique that I previously reserved for water effects. I mixed some Hookers Green and some glazing medium and poured the mixture into a detail bottle. I applied this dark green mixture on nearly all the leaves in this area. It offset it from the first tier of trees and created a nice composition.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Crabtree Falls – Off the Blue Ridge Parkway

On a recent trip to Little Switzerland, North Carolina I saw Crabtree Falls. This magnificent waterfall is highlighted with powerful rushing waters and beautiful moss covered rocks. I visited the area in early November, so I expected to see more autumn colors, but the area was more filled with pine trees and moss making for some spectacular greens.

In choosing how to paint this, I selected a view that showed a tree that was growing in an island near the base of the waterfall. This made for a strong focal point with the waterfall in the back and a brilliant blue and yellow sky in the far background. I began this painting with the sky and basically worked my way from background to foreground, with the tree being the last thing that was painted. To create the waterfall I used two different sized detail bottle applicators filled with Iridescent White and Australian Sky Blue. This type of application provides a subtle impasto effect but is not too overwhelming.

I personally think the rocks in the bottom 1/3 of this painting are quite interesting. The palette used for these rocks consists primarily of Carbon Black, Paynes Grey, Midnight Blue and some purples.

This is the first of two paintings inspired from this trip, I look forward to doing some more in the near future.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Using Mosaic Chips in a Painting

Using mosaic chips in art definitely adds a different element to a painting.  Since my paintings tend to be grids of thousands of colors they appear very “mosaic” like when they are completed, so using real mosaic chips in conjunction with the paint seems to work ok. 

I completed this piece (Creek at Candlehurst Lane #2) in the summer of 2008.  It represents a stream that is just a short walk from my house.  The majority of this is painted with acryl gouache on a 48x60” piece of birch.  I isolated six different areas, where I would integrate mosaic chips.   Once I painted the wood panel, I searched for old plates that might have some colors or patterns that would somewhat correspond with the colors that were painted.  I knew the color matches would not be exact to matching that of the paint, but that was ok since it would ultimately help the mosaics stand out.  I tried to use similar colors when selecting the colors for the tile grout.

After all the mosaics were glued and the grout was polished this work came out really nice.  It has been over a year, since I did anything like this, but I will be starting a new project in the upcoming months.  The mosaic chips I used for this piece were from existing plates that already had patterns on them.  Acryl gouache is versatile enough that it can be used on a variety of surfaces, so I think I will make my own mosaic chips and incorporate them into another painting.  I look forward to getting started on this project soon.  Comments and questions are of course always welcomed. 

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Fluid Acrylics and Glazing Medium for Pouring Painting

A. Create a surface that has defined walls that are at least 1/8” high.  In this example I used paint and impasto medium to create a rock wall.  These walls will confine the liquid mixture when poured onto the canvas.

B. Mix a few colors of fluid acrylic paint and glazing medium.  I mix about 20% paint to 80% glazing medium.  Mix thoroughly – when complete the mixture will be the color of the paint.

C. Pour the first color onto the intended area of the surface

D, E and F. Pour the other colors onto the mixture

 G. Begin to rotate the canvas at slight angles so the liquid mixture will occupy the entire area – the wall will confine the mixture from flowing over into non-intended areas or off the canvas

 H. As with any technique experimentation is the key. Here with the left over mixtures I poured contrasting colors onto one another.  When dry the paint and glazing  medium will have little color shift form wet to dry and will remain shimmering for an interesting effect.  

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Durham Art Guild - 55th Annual Juried Show

Last night I attended the opening of the Durham Art Guild's 55th Annual Juried Show.  I was fortunate enough to have two works selected for this show (Whitewater Falls #3 and Croatan Forest Forest #2).  The juror for the show is Maria Magdalena Compos-Pons, she selected a strong range of works which made for a tremendous show!

I was impressed with most all of the works, but a few artists definitely stood out.  I saw Kathryn DeMarco's work in last year's show and this year was again amazed at her mastery of color in a difficult media like collage.  In looking at her website, it is nice to see she is also a big fan of dogs and cats. 

This was the first I have seen Saba Barnard's works ("Free Flowers" pictured).  Like the works of Kathryn DeMarco the interplay of color is outstanding.  The skeleton forms doing everyday things like enjoying flowers and listening to music added even more intrigue to these captivating paintings.

Congratulations to everyone involved with the show!  It was definitely a hit!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Bob Rankin

This past Saturday I had the pleasure of working with Bob Rankin at the Art of the Carolinas. Bob is an immensely talented artist and is a huge patron of the arts in Raleigh.  In the three hours or so he spent painting on Saturday morning he completed two 30x40" works.  The first (which is not seen in this picture) is an abstract landscape of  what I think is a North Carolina Beach scene. The second is the painting shown in this picture.  

Like me, Bob likes to work in Matisse Acrylics. You can see some of the Southern Ocean Blue in the center of this work.  A brilliant color, a great painting and a great artist!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Tobacco Field at Old Milburnie Road

Recently I was invited by the folks at Savoir Faire to try the new Sennelier Acrylique.  Being such a creature of habit I am always skeptical about trying different paints, especially when I like the brand I currently use.  The scene painted is a tobacco field off Old Milburnie Road in Raleigh, NC.  The autumn colors were starting to really appear, and being the tobacco crop was not in season, the colors of the field offered some interesting reds and earth tone colors.

I began this painting with the sky mixing some Ultramarine Blue and Titanium White.  I immediately noticed the difference in the Sennelier paint versus other paints I have used.  My initial reaction was that it felt like more of an oil color than an acrylic.  Right out of the tube the paint was very thick.   For the sky I needed I thinner mixture that I could easily glaze over – the thickness of the paint prohibited me a bit in this process, but in the end it worked ok.  The remarkable thing is even after I thinned these colors down with a decent amount of water, the vibrancy of the color remained as if it were right out of the tube.  

When I started to paint the trees I really was impressed with the colors.  Even after I stopped painting for the day and came back 20 hours later, there was very little color shift from wet to dry.  

I like using Permanent Green Light in many of my paintings.  This tends to be a very transparent color and if I want to use it straight out of the tube and right on the canvas I generally need to mix a little white to make it an opaque color.  With the Sennelier paint I did not need to do this.  Much of the color seen is right out of the tube – no streaking or dulling of the color – Pure color in its pure state . . . really good stuff.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Art of the Carolinas

From Thursday November 12th through Sunday November 15th I will be attending Art of the Carolinas at the North Raleigh Hilton.  Art of the Carolinas is sponsored by Jerry's Artarama and features numerous workshops, products and interesting people.  This year I will be at the Matisse Acrylic booth.   Hopefully I will be able to do some painting, but even if I don't - the interaction with customers and other artists can be fun most of the time.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Bill Wallace at the Sunflower Gallery

A few months ago I had the pleasure of meeting Bill Wallace, a fellow member of the Wake Forest Area Artists' Studio Tour.  Bill is a skilled wood turner and carver.  This is an art form I am completely amazed by.  Knowing the intricacies of different types of wood  is both an art and a science.  To combine this knowledge with skilled craftsmanship and art makes this a remarkable form of art.  Unlike painting I would think wood turning and/or carving leaves very little margin of error, There is no painting over a piece of wood that was accidentally cut too deep.

Bill Wallace, Janet Wallace and Lisa McCamy will all be showing their work at the Sunflower Studio in Wake Forest.  The opening is this Friday (November 13th) and the show will run through December 5th.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Pocosin Lakes Wildlife Refuge

While visiting a friend in Columbia, North Carolina I got some great pictures of the surrounding landscape.  I did this painting on an 8x10" canvas and it is only a taste of the paintings I will do from this trip.  Whenever I take a picture that I will subsequently paint I look to capture sky, land and water.  This Pocosin Lakes Wildlife Refuge offered these elements and I was fortunate enough to be there at the right time of day and during good weather conditions.  The water was a blue/black color and during the early part of October the leaves were just starting to change color.  

Eileen and I took nearly 100 pictures from this trip.  I can't wait to paint some more.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Glazing a Creek Bed

Glazing is an important part of nearly all my paintings.  The short definition is paint thinned with medium to create a transparent layer of color.  I like to glaze things like creek beds, the layer of glaze creates a sense of a water surface where one can look down at the bottom of the creek to see rocks, sticks, etc, but still know they are looking down onto through water.

To begin acrylic glazing I mix about 20% fluid acrylic paint with about 80% glazing medium. (You can use heavy body acrylics but there is a risk of clumps not being mixed resulting in streaking when applied to the canvas).  I mix these until the mixture appears the color of the paint.  Being that the mixture is very fluid I use a palette with deep wells, so it does not spill everywhere.  It is also important that glazing be down on a table rather than an easel for that same reason.  In the instance shown I use three colors – This was a quick demo, but it was my intent that the different colors would show different levels of light refraction on the water surface.  Color experimentation is very important when glazing – Some colors will have stronger degrees of opacity and even when thinned with 80% medium they might not give the transparent look I might be seeking.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Another Inspiration from Dupont Forest

Triple Falls is located just a short way from the Hooker Falls paring area in the Dupont Forest.  This is a really fun area to explore, because one can venture right onto the waterfalls and do some light rock climbing.  Great exercise and of course spectacular views! 

This is painted on a 12x16” canvas and is done almost entirely in acryl gouache.  I love the collection of blues at the bottom of the waterfall.  Combined with a diverse palette of autumn colors, this makes for a very interesting painting, even on a smaller canvas.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Hooker Falls

Part of the Dupont Forest, Hooker Falls is a short walk from the main road. I really like the way the impasto work came out in the lower left of the painting. The picture from which this was work is depicted has this rock as level with the main part of the falls, however the thick impasto makes it look like it is the side of the other rock. I guess this is one of those good accidents as I like the appearance. I think it is the focal point of the entire piece.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Falls Lake in July

The work was a welcome relief from the some of the bigger canvases I just finished.  This 16x20” work took me under 25 hours to complete.  The satisfaction level is a bit different from larger works, but the early stages of the painting process are more gratifying since there is always a clear end in site.  When working on a piece larger than say 30x40” I can work for 8 hours and look at what was done and think very little was accomplished.  This can be a bit daunting at times, so smaller canvases are a nice change of pace. 

This is one of several paintings I have done of Falls Lake.  Being the picture was taken on sunny day in the summer there are obviously some dominant greens.  Chromium Oxide Green is one of my favorite greens.  This is a very opaque green, I can use this straight out of the tube to achieve full coverage.  This is very different from another of my favorite greens – Permanent Green Light.  Here I try to mix about 10% white to achieve a good opacity.  This does not weaken the color at all, in those instances where I want to use this color for its transparent qualities it actually provides a subtle contrast.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Someplace Like Home

In early September One View from my Back Porch (Top) was juried into the Someplace Like Home Show.  The show was sponsored by the Junior League of Raleigh a part of a Shopping Spree at the Raleigh Convention Center.  I really liked the works selected for this show as there was alot of diversity both in style and technique.  I look forward to again submitting works to this show next year.

I found Judy Bauman's My Neighborhood (Bottom) piece quite striking. Very interesting use of space and color.  I think this work won an award.  It certainly was very deserving of one.  

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Robert Rauschenberg, Curly Howard

Two admirable people with more commonalities then one might think

Robert Rauschenberg's use of everyday "found" objects in his art artwork suggests the line between life and  art might not even be a line, but they are both one entity.   I admire the diversity of Rauschenberg's works; a piece such as the untitled "combine" that is shown combines dozens of snapshots of life to create a chaotic interplay of pictures and colors.  Yet I see a work like this and compare it to some of his monochrome work of pure simplicity and I can see the brilliance of his ability to change techniques, but still keep an abstract expressionist style.

Every male member of my family from ages 4 to 80 loves the Three Stooges.  Simplistic humor that does not ask any thought provoking questions.  It is only there to help us enjoy the absurdity of everyday life. Curly is my favorite of all the Stooges, seeing the way my 8 year old son laughs at him until his belly hurts, puts life in a much simpler place.  And like the work of Rauschenberg helps me to understand that art and life are pretty much the same thing.

You might be asking why on earth am I writing about these two people on my blog.  Well . . . They have another commonality that I too share with them. The three of us were all born on October 22.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

North Carolina State Fair

My family and I went to State Fair last night. As always we had a great time! This was the first year I submitted artwork to the Fair's Juried Show. I was fortunate enough to have my
Eno River piece selected. This was very different from any other show I have been in. Before going to the Fair, I really had no idea whether one , two or zero pieces were selected, so the anticipation was alot of fun.

I love seeing the different levels of art. Everything from Kindergarten to professional. I am certain I will never see this type of diversity in any gallery show.

There is no doubt this is most foot traffic that my artwork will get for a while. The place was packed! I am happy that amongst the giant pumpkins and prize winning livestock one of my paintings can take its place at the North Carolina State Fair.

Now it's time to get on the treadmill and try to lose the corn dogs and chili fries that I enjoyed at the Fair.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

San Antonio

I’ve been fortunate enough to visit San Antonio twice in my life.  The last time I was there was in December of 2007 when I saw Penn State defeat Texas A&M in the Alamo Bowl.  The riverwalk is just a real fun place to see; great food, great art, just a lot of happy people. During this trip I became real interested in Oaxacan wood carved art.  The intricate painted designs and the hand carving represent an enormous amount of time and detail.  I bought a Oaxacan rhinoceros during this trip, this is an incredible piece that is currently adorning my dining room.

The painting shown of course reflects the riverwalk.  I generally do not paint a lot of cityscapes, but this was fun because the aspects of water, trees and sky all were immersed with the buildings and other man made structures.  This was done exclusively with acryl gouache, it was interesting to see how water would look using just opaque colors, but I think it creates a pretty interesting effect.  

Monday, October 12, 2009

Using Dried Paint/Glazing Medium in Paintings

I almost always use acrylic glazes in my paintings.  Generally I mix about 20% paint to 80% medium.  Usually the technique only requires a fraction of the mixture and the rest ends up drying in the palette.  I began experimenting with these dried paint skins by cutting out shapes, usually I use gel medium as a glue to adhere these shapes right on the canvas.  Below is a technique where I use these dried paints in conjunction with impasto medium.  The demonstration was a practice for the larger piece shown at the bottom right.

  1. Using masking tape I isolate the area where the paint/impasto medium will be applied
  2. I use an exacto knife to create a rough edge, to make one side of the tree
  3. I mix about 20% paint with 80% Impasto Medium
  4. I apply the mixture on the intended area
  5. Using a palette knife I smooth out the mixture and remove the tape.
  6. After cutting out a selection of shapes form the dried glaze mixture, I imbed those directly into the impasto mixture to represent the tree bark
  7. The impasto medium mixture takes about 24 hours to dry.  
  8. When dry the impasto mixture will hold the glaze chips securely in place

I have a video on this at

The finished painting is the 5th painting in my Beidler Forest Series.

Comments, criticism and questions are always welcomed.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Valle Crucis Paintings

I recently finished three painting for some friends of mine.  The pictures depict an area of Western North Carolina where they were married.  I feel these are some of my most major works to date.  Comments and criticism are of course welcome.

Valle Crucis #1 (View from Herb Thomas Road)
 30x60" Acrylic (Top)
After spending some time at St John’s Episcopal Church where Jane and Braden were married I decided the best view was overlooking the valley from the road leading up to the church. It was a little overcast that day, but the sky still offered some incredible blues.  Using several layers of masking tape and glazes, I created a cloudy sky.  To further accentuate the clouds I outlined some of the cloud formations using Acryl Gouache.  I feel the sky is the best part of the painting.  The field was done in a similar way to the sky with contrasting greens accentuated with grass blades painted with Acryl Gouache.   

Valle Crucis #2 (Waterfalls near Conference Center) 30x60" Acrylic  (Middle)
A long uphill climb led us to a breathtaking waterfall about a mile from the Valle Crucis Conference Center.  I love painting waterfalls, the motion of the water allows for many different possibilities.  In painting the waterfall for this painting I used 20/80 ratio of paint to glazing medium and then used detail applicator bottles to apply the waterlines.  I really like the top middle of this piece, there is just enough bright yellows used to give the impression of light coming through the dense forest.  The big rock at the bottom was created using a thick layer of neutral grey and impasto medium.   

Valle Crucis #3 (Crab Orchard Creek) 30x60" Acrylic (Bottom)
 Located close to the Apple Barn at the Valle Crucis Conference Center is Crab Orchard creek.  The tranquil stream is typical of most mountain streams, being very shallow and more rocky than muddy.  This landscape allows for some interesting glazing techniques.  The sienna glaze on top of the creek surface gives an effect of the water surface where can see but not define the rocks underneath.  The most interesting part of this work is the left side; Here I used detail bottles and poured glaze to create some of the leaves.  At the bottom I actually used dried glaze and applied the chips with gel medium. This was the most time consuming painting of three, but I feel it is the best offering several different painting techniques and a diverse array of colors.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Artist Trading Cards - I Want to Send you One!

From time to time I like to take a diversion from larger canvases and work on Artist Trading Cards (ATC’s).  A typical painting will take 40+ hours, where a 2.5x3.5” card takes under a half hour.  Strathmore makes these cards on variety of different surfaces and small mats and frames are available to make a nice presentation.  I never sell these, but rather just enjoy trading them with my peers or making these with my kids.  Growing up on a culture of trading baseball cards, I never dreamed that thirty years later I would be trading ATC’s. 

If you are interested in receiving one of my ATC’s, please join my e-mail list and send me an e-mail with your name, address, etc.  I promise to send you an ATC at some point in the next few months.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Mandy Budan

I came across an outstanding artist recently.  This is the work of Mandy Budan from the Toronto area.  I can relate to her work in many ways.  Her use of contrasting colors is amazing.  In the Kaleidoscope painting shown you definitely see a defined sky as a background for a complicated tree image.  The choice of violet for this sky and the dark violets vs. lights really accentuates the tree. The swirling branches and the details on the tree trunk further add to this great painting.

An outstanding work Mandy.  Congratulations!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Hoop Hole Creek

Located in Atlantic Beach, NC, Hoop Hole Creek offers some interesting compositions. It is not a beach scene, but has marshes, dunes and twisting trees that one might fine on the southern east coast.

This painting consists of 12, 10x10" Gessobord panels mounted to an oak board,  My goal was to create one composition, but each panel would use a different painting technique.  The following are some of the techniques I used:

Row 1 - Middle Panel - Using glaze as a pourable paint 
After painting much of the sky and some of the tree using traditional heavy bodied acrylics, I created an impasto barrier about 1/4" high.  From there I poured a mixture of paint and glazing medium.  The impasto "wall" confined the liquid to the panel.  While still wet I dropped some chips of dried glaze in the liquid to represent the leaves and branches.

Row 3 - Middle Panel - After applying masking tape on the panel, I used an exacto knife to cut out the shapes of different tree branches.  I then layered a mixture of impasto medium and pant into the cut out area.  With the impasto mixture still wet I inserted some pieces of dried glaze.

Row 4 - Left Panel - Before applying any paint I used a generous amount of gesso on the panel. From there I used a palette knife and some other instruments to create different sculptural effects. The background made for several peaks and valleys which added to the painting process.

Row 4 - Right Panel - Being this was the sand part of the composition I mixed in actual sand with the paint.  The texture is very subtle, but up close it helps convey the beach effect.

Comments and criticism are always welcome.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Greatest Artist Ever

The Greatest Artist Ever?  Surely this is a debate that will continue for as long as there is air to breathe.  For me this is a simple answer . . . James Mullen (My Dad) is the biggest source of inspiration as an artist, but more importantly on being a human being . . . For that reason  I put him at the top of the list.  For over seven decades my Dad has thrived on art as if it were a part of his physical body.  Being his son, I have been blessed to inherit this gift the same way someone inherits eye color from their parents.  I have seen my Dad's art in museums amongst the 
"best of the best" and I have seen personalized Birthday cards that could put Hallmark out of business.  Despite having seen hundreds of his works during my lifetime I know for certainty his best artwork has yet to be created.  Keep it up Dad, the best works are still ahead of you.

Love Micah

Friday, September 25, 2009

Falls Lake

Falls Lake and the Neuse River are integral parts of my life.  So much of my artwork is inspired by these areas.  I have seen Falls Lake during droughts and floods, needless to say both offer interesting scenes for an artist.  Falls Lake at Six Forks Road is one of my favorite areas to fish. The painting shown was completed during the height of a drought in the Summer of 2008. Normally the water be up up past the sienna and umber colors that are just above the shoreline. Someone mentioned this painting resembled Fauvism.  I suppose I can see this in some of the broad color grids.  I've always considered my work to be inspired more by pointilism or naive styles.  Maybe amongst these and other styles I will finally figure out what my paintings are all about.  :)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Seeing Red

Earlier this Summer I entered two paintings in a show titled Seeing Red at the Visual Art Exchange in Raleigh, NC.  My goal with both of these paintings was to paint approximately half in varying shades of red, with the other half being the natural colors of the landscape as I saw them. In painting Duke Forest I started by sketching a series of squares of the same size.  I intended to create varying squares of red shades next to colors of the natural landscape.  I took this a step further by painting half these squares directly on the glass.  This 24x36" painting took nearly 50 hours, but it is was one of my personal favorites.  

The second painting Linville River was the painting accepted into the show.  In doing this I masked out horizontal and vertical bands and subsequently painted the unmasked area as I saw the natural colors.  When completed I lifted the masking tape and painted the balance of the painting in shades of red.

Comments and criticism are always appreciated.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Wake Forest Area Artists' Studio Tour

The Wake Forest Area Artists’ Studio Tour is in high gear.  The first weekend was awesome!  Lots of people, great weather and of course great art.  The gals at the Sunflower Studios and Gallery were nice enough to let me show my work there.  My fingers are crossed that the weather will again be nice this weekend as I will once again be under the canopy in the front lawn of the Sunflower.   I’ll be painting this weekend and will be giving away greeting cards to anyone that mentions they heard about the Studio Tour through this blog.  I hope to see everyone this weekend!  Learn more about the tour at

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Using Impasto Medium to Create Three Dimensional Effects

In depicting elements in nature relief effects give a 3-dimensional effect that really makes the paint “pop” right off the canvas.  In this painting technique I am using Matisse Structure paint (Carbon Grey) along with Matisse Impasto Medium to create tree bark.

Step 1:  I mix a ratio of about 30% paint with 70% Impasto Medium.  Make sure the mixture is throughly mixed (I use a palette knife) when complete the mixture should be the color of the paint.

Step 2:  Apply as much masking tape as needed over the area where the impasto mixture will be applied.   In this instance a width of about 4” of tape is used.  I generally use more tape than is actually needed so the excess will catch any spillage in the removal process.

Step 3:  Once the tape is applied I use an Exacto knife to cut out various shapes,  It is important to use a sharp exacto knife and a heavweight canvas, otherwise you risk cutting right through the canvas

 Step 4:  Once the tape is prepared I use a palette knife and begin applying the impasto mixture. I like to use alot of the mixture, the impasto medium can hold peaks of about an inch.  One applied you can use the knife to smooth out the mixture, or you can leave rough or even add some textured details when the mixture is still wet.

Step 5: When the mixture is still wet begin lifting the layers of tape off.  Be sure to lift the layers by the outer layer first, otherwise you risk lifting all the layers at one and creating a mess.

When complete the Impasto mixture will take about 24 hours to fully dry.  During this drying period you can add texture and subtly shape the peaks.  Once dried, the peaks can be painted over just as if they were another layer of paint.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A View from my Back Porch

My favorite part of the week is usually Saturday night around 6:00 or so.  After a day of painting or running errands I love to sit out on my deck and enjoy a cigar and a cold beverage.  My deck is elevated about 12’ from the ground so it overlooks my lawn that extends into a wooded area.

The painting shown is a view from my deck.  The lawn and forest area are painted on a 12x16” Gessobord panel.  The planks and beams of the deck are painted on a piece of glass.  Before I framed the piece I separated the glass and the panel with four balsa wood strips that are concealed by the lip of the frame.  The picture shown does not really give the right perception, but if you were to look at the painting from any angle you can really see how the glass is offset from the panel.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Eno River

A few weeks ago we spent the day at the Eno River in Durham, NC.  The river offers some nice swimming holes and some hiking trails that are off the beaten track.  You can even see the remnants of an old pump station.  I’m not certain the history of the river, but I believe the river was a main water source for much of Durham.  I am pondering applying to be an artist at the 2010 “Festival for the Eno”   Being that this is the only painting I have done as of yet of the Eno, I guess I will have a lot to do in the next year or so.

Friday, August 7, 2009

A View from Fort Macon

I recently finished a painting derived from a picture I took while visiting Fort Macon in Atlantic Beach, NC.  I believe Fort Macon was constructed in the early 1700’s and served prominent roles in the American Revolution, Civil War, WWI and even WWII.   My view of Fort Macon is one interpretation of a view seen by multitudes of men over a course of 300 years.  What I saw was an interesting landscape of twisted and winding trees offset by a brilliant blue sky.  At different points in time this same view might have had pirates storming the fortress or a brilliant blue sky replaced by exploding mortar fire.