Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

I thought this would be a good painting to ring in the new year. Kelsey stands in near darkness and opens the window blinds, washing herself in sunlight. I'd like to wish everyone a safe and prosperous 2010. I look forward to sharing with you many more figures in light.
oil on linen panel, 7 x 5 inches, 2008

Monday, December 28, 2009

Ashley in a Red Top

One thing I enjoy about realistic painting is taking liberties of exaggeration in small ways. Here I stretched out the profile of the face. It's not exactly flattering to Ashley, whose face is quite pleasing and near perfect, but I felt it brought an added dimension of interest to the painting. I hope she doesn't mind.

oil on gesso panel, 7 x 5 inches, 2008

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Season's Greetings to all that have visited my blog, left comments, and purchased paintings. This is still a relatively new venture but I feel it has gotten off to a good start, thanks to your support. Happy Holidays to you and your families, and my best wishes for the New Year.
oil on gesso panel, 6 x 6 inches, 2009

Monday, December 21, 2009

In Her Garden

The inspiration for this painting goes back about ten years. I had an art calendar then and one of the reproductions was a watercolor by the German Expressionist Erich Heckel. I remember it as depicting a male and female couple obscured partly by a vase of tulips in the foreground. It was a captivating image but I don't know what happened to it and I have not been able to find another reproduction. Today's painting, based on this distant memory, is more of a portrait, yet it has some of the same obfuscation. I find the dark under her eyes a little unsettling, but I like to think the blossoms offset whatever dim thoughts she might be harboring.
oil on gesso panel, 6 x 6 inches, 2009

Friday, December 18, 2009

Kristin in Gold

I like the challenge of posing a reclining figure and avoiding awkwardness, especially when it involves a lot of foreshortening. Usually this means distorting some of the proportions. In this case I made the legs smaller, and slightly exaggerated the upper body, hopefully achieving more naturalism. On the right I added the metal patch to the wood floor boards as a counterpoint to the angle of her hip.
oil on canvas panel, 6 x 8 inches, 2009

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


I liked how the figure seemed to just topple over onto the table. Her hair looks as if it might be wet, and the blue sheet is just thrown across her naked body. Although I am the author, I am at a loss for an interpretation. I just like how it came together.
oil on linen panel, 5 x 7 inches, 2008

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Amber's Image

We just returned from the Dearborn Holiday Choral Festival and it was wonderful. Christmas music always evokes a sense of magic and awe, and as I sat there listening I thought about how painting might do the same. I thought about tonight's painting, and how Amber is seen once and then once again "through a glass darkly". I don't feel that I have achieved all that I would like with my work. Perhaps the mirror is my signature metaphor, as it offers a mere reflection of reality. Yet there are some great works in music and art that seem to shatter the illusion and show us the world as it is. For me these tend to be works that are joyful and hopeful, like what we heard tonight.
oil on linen panel, 6 x 8 inches, 2009

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Ashley in Sunlight

Ashley is very self-contained in this huddled pose. Only her over-the shoulder glance at the viewer is inviting, except perhaps the light on the wall behind her, which opens up the composition a bit. I enjoyed mixing the dusty rose hue of her top, which is trapped between the denim shorts and her striking blue eyes.
oil on linen panel, 8 x 6 inches, 2009

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Shelbie Veiled

There is something defiant, or maybe just self assured, about Shelbie as she looks askance out of the space of the picture. Mostly though this was just fun to paint. I love rendering delicate materials like her veil, as well as the sheer trim and small pearls that adorn her gown.

oil on linen panel, 8 x 6 inches, 2009

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tiffany in Ermine

Tiffany is from a small town in northern Michigan, but she showed up at the studio with the most amazing collection of vintage clothing and accessories, mostly borrowed from a nearby community theater. I couldn't resist working with the stole, even though she was a little queasy about it herself. It turns out she's quite an animal lover, but she soldiered on. I love how her chestnut locks tumble into the similarly colored fur of the unfortunate ermine trio.
oil on linen panel, 8 x 6 inches, 2009

Monday, November 30, 2009

Clare in a Hoop

One can't help but think of Leonardo's Vitruvian Man here. Polykleitos' Kanon also comes to mind. I am indeed preoccupied with proportion, the relation of the parts to the whole, numbers, perfection, and man's relationship to nature. Thankfully though, Clare is not a man. The philosophy of idealism has its limits.
oil on linen panel, 8 x 6 inches, 2009

Saturday, November 28, 2009


This is the first painting I did when I was toying with the idea of small, quickly executed works. Since then the work has become a little bigger, and a good deal more resolved. However, what I enjoy about this one is the briskness of execution and the relative flatness of the shapes. I am always striving for a balance between the illusion of space (realism) and surface pattern (abstraction). It's a struggle that never ends.

Fine art prints of this painting are available here.

oil on stretched canvas, 6 x 4 inches, 2008

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Lauri Arranging Flowers

Today is Thanksgiving, and this painting couldn't be more fitting. The model is my wife Lauri. Without her enduring support none of these paintings would be possible. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have a wonderful family and do what they love. I'm thankful that I have both.
oil on linen panel, 8 x 6 inches, 2009

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Haeley in White Fur

Here is a dichotomy. Do the bars of the chair keep the viewer from this beautiful woman, or do they imprison her? The white of her fur coat opposes the black of the bars, restating this theme of duality. I'm happy also that I was able to limit my palette, as too much color would have detracted from the concept.
oil on linen panel, 8 x 6 inches, 2009

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Caught in Reflection

This is a slightly older painting of Kelsey, a model I worked with a lot before she went to college. The somber mood left me with some ambivalence, but a number of people have commented on it in the studio so I decided to post it. I have always been interested in pictures within pictures, because it seems to be a built-in way to reflect upon the process of image making and how images function in our world. This seems especially true when the secondary image itself is a reflected one, as it is in a mirror. We are all familiar with Velazquez' Las Meninas, and its examination of the nature of perception. Manet's A Bar at the Folies-Bergere is another enigmatic work that has had an influence on me.
oil on linen panel, 5.75 x 5.75 inches, 2009

Saturday, November 21, 2009


Shelbie came in with an astounding collection of vintage dresses and accessories. She is a unique person who seems to emanate an air of wholesomeness. However, in this painting the mood is rather dark. I need to think about why I chose to represent her thus. I hope to work with her again, and seek her brighter side.
oil on linen panel, 8 x 6 inches, 2009

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Kristin Criss-Crossed

I have long been interested in the fundamental ways in which the figure has been represented in Western art. One way has been to represent it in a frontal, vertical, and somewhat symmetrical manner. This was typical of the Geometric period of ancient Greek art. It was also typical of medieval art. Another way has been to represent the figure more naturally, as in the Classical period of Greek art and again in the Renaissance. These two approaches express ideas about how the respective cultures understood their world. One approach suggests other-worldliness, the other approach suggests rationality and an engagement with the world. I often weigh both approaches when I pose the model. Here Kristin raises and crosses her arms directly above her head in a formal gesture. At the same time, we see her in three-quarter view, as opposed to frontally, thereby bringing both world views into dialogue.
oil on linen panel, 8 x 6 inches, 2009

Monday, November 16, 2009

Sub Rosa

The opening of the blouse forms an X-shape, which both hides and reveals the figure within. The muted light illuminates what little we know about her.
oil on linen panel, 8 x 6 inches, 2009

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Jordyn in a Straw Hat

There is an impish quality to this gesture that seems to befit Jordyn. The straw hat, which I found at the Salvation Army, adds to the comical feel of the piece. I'm not sure if the string of pearls fits the theme, but I liked how they worked into that space and rhymed with the shape of her arms.
oil on linen, 8 x 6 inches, 2009

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Naomi with a Rope

The inspiration for today's painting came from a magazine photo where a woman was pulling back a curtain to look out a window. In the studio, for some unknown reason, I decided to hang a rope from the ceiling and have the model hold it rather than a curtain. I suppose the rope lent a certain mystery, which turned out to be apropos to Naomi. She modeled for me only once. She was smart, enthusiastic, and fun to work with. I looked forward to more sessions with her, but unfortunately I could never get her to return. I'm still hoping I'll have another chance someday.
oil on linen panel, 8 x 6 inches, 2009

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Ashley in Red

Ashley is lying back in an old recliner. Her striking red dress would have been compromised by the maroon color of the chair had I not placed the white lambskin between them. The view is from slightly above. A more level view would have again offered too much red chair in a painting that is very red already. I used to take studio naps in that recliner until one day it collapsed with me in it. I'm still looking for a replacement.

oil on linen panel, 8 x 6 inches, 2009

Sunday, November 8, 2009


Here I was interested in the complexity of the interlocking arms. I saw a photograph somewhere with a similar gesture, made some sketches from memory, and thought it would be straightforward enough to get the model into that pose. However, it wasn't so easy. I tried with several models and couldn't achieve the elegant complexity I was after. Not everyone is a contortionist, I guess. Kristin, though, made it work. She also has some very beautiful dresses. This one was metallic and sleek, yet sophisticated.
oil on linen panel, 7.75 x 5.75 inches, 2009

Friday, November 6, 2009

Figure from the Back

There was an oddness about this pose that caught my interest. I thought the interior modeling of the back was especially lovely, but initially found the arms somehow unsettling. I finally realized that they made me think of the Greek and Roman marbles from antiquity that somehow lost various appendages over the centuries. I decided I liked it just the way it was. I also liked how her blouse fell on the table upon which she sits, particularly where the sheer fabric passes over the red velour drape. This particular model is especially graceful and I anticipate working with her again soon.

oil on linen panel, 8 x 6 inches, 2009

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Kelsey is a wonderful model with whom I've worked quite a bit. Her wardrobe was always simple but classy. I liked the little touches of red within the green shirt, and she looked great in the white frame sunglasses. She is away at school now but I hope to work with her again at some point.
oil on gesso panel, 6 x 6 inches, 2009

Monday, November 2, 2009


Haley is a very young model, but she is a natural. Every pose she takes is worth painting. Here I was attracted to the rhythmic shapes of the arms, offset by her innocent face with its dreamy gaze. Her charming bracelet was the right touch to break up what otherwise might have been a too insistent forearm. The vivid magenta of her shirt was a challenge to capture, but I think I came close.
oil on gesso panel, 6 x 6 inches, 2009

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Ashley in Oval Mirror

It's Halloween and while I wouldn't call this painting scary, I like to think it is a little haunting. In the mirror Ashley seems to be casting a sidelong glance, quite different from what one would expect from her profile view. The corner of the old trunk in the lower left is a repoussoir device that leads the viewer deeper into the space of the picture. Ashley is another model that I would like to work more with but she has moved away.
oil on gesso panel, 6 x 6 inches, 2009

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Amber in Profile

Amber has the most incredible long red hair, and I really wish I could work with her more often. Her career makes that difficult, but I think there might be an opportunity coming soon. Here I was mostly interested in her delicate profile. I slightly exaggerated the contours of her shoulder for interest. I also like the series of parallel diagonal lines created by the locks of her hair, the strap of the dress, and the arm on the right. In simple compositions like this I enjoy looking for these kinds of structural elements to make the design hold together.
oil on gesso panel, 6 x 6 inches, 2009

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sara in the Window

In this painting I was interested in the silhouette of the figure against the midday light of the window. After the initial impact of this strong contrast, some of the details of the figure begin to emerge. In addition, I have always been interested in sheer fabric draped over the figure. Here the sunlight breaks forcefully through her flowing blouse. In the window I tried to use some stippled brush work to indicate that it was in need of cleaning. The building behind is the Ferndale post office.
oil on linen panel, 8 x 6 inches, 2009

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Clare with Arrow

I've worked with Clare a lot over the last couple of years. She has modeled for a number of my larger compositions. She has a remarkable ability to understand and imaginatively interpret my intentions for a given pose, even when I don't fully understand them myself. Perhaps it's because of her stage experience. Clare somehow brings a unique body language and facial expression to each idea I present her with. Here she forcefully thrusts her arm out perpendicular to her body, while keeping the clutched arrow parallel to it. Her gesture captures perfectly the aggressive theme of the painting. I felt that the treatment of the background also fit the theme. The arrow predates recorded history and is rich with meaning in many cultures.
oil on linen panel, 8 x 6 inches, 2009

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Jordyn with Pearls

Jordyn has a wonderful vintage clothing collection, as evidenced by this fur stole. The hat, however, is contemporary. I thought it was perfect for this over-the-shoulder, Vermeer like composition. When this painting was dry I applied a thin glaze of crimson to her lips to slightly pronounce their color. I also used a touch of cobalt to hint at her deep blue eyes. Jordyn, by the way, is herself quite a talented artist.
oil on panel, 6x6" inches, 2009

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Elly in Stripes

I couldn't resist the stripes. This is actually a dress, and she looks quite striking in it, but I felt that all those stripes in a painting might be too much. The cropping allowed for a zigzag movement through the arms that finally focuses on the face. If you study the pattern of her dress you will notice that it is subtly complex, consisting of not just black and white, but also two shades of gray. Elly is a gifted model, in part because she requires little direction. She seems to naturally find inventive yet elegant gestures.
oil on gesso panel, 6x6 inches, 2009

Tiffany's Reflection

The idea for this painting occurred unexpectedly near the end of a modeling session. Tiffany was starting to gather up her things when she happened to pass by the mirror. It was one I had just picked up at a yard sale, and looked like it might have come from Pottery Barn. I enjoy looking over her shoulder at her warmly lit face. With the clutter of the studio in the background, this composition is less controlled than others. The two light spots to the left of her head are metal brackets that support wooden shelves. I noticed how they were reading with the unfurling of the buttons on her blouse, and felt that together these two elements helped focus the composition.
oil on gesso panel, 6x6 inches, 2009

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Sara in a Round Mirror

I've worked with Sara a lot, and she is very good at taking a pose suggestion and bringing ideas to it. I liked how she clutched the drape behind her back, putting herself between this somewhat ominous gesture, and her reflected image, which is of course an illusion. I thought the roundness of her bob hairstyle worked well with the round mirror.
oil on gesso panel, 6x6 inches, 2009

Bayley's Mood

Bayley's face is always expressive. Here she takes on an irresistible melancholy. I'm reminded of Raphael's Cherubini, overexposed as they are. But this pose was inspired by another source, the origins of which I don't recall. I often see an interesting image in a magazine or some other source, make a quick sketch or mental note, then develop it back in the studio with further sketches. When I have a model come, we cycle through a lot of these ideas. Then I do the same thing with different models until I find something that I want to paint.
oil on gesso panel, 7x5 inches, 2009

Ashley Holding a Carnation

Ashley has a great sense of style and always brings wonderful wardrobe and accessories selections to the studio. I liked the simple brown dress and the complementary wristband. I used the horizontal of the floor and baseboard in this composition to anchor the vertical mass of the figure and at the same time echo the outstretched arm. The sunlight shapes on the wall help integrate the figure to what would otherwise be too much empty space.
oil on gesso panel, 6x6 inches, 2009

Friday, October 16, 2009

Haeley Prone

Another pose with Haeley, again concentrating on the play of negative spaces, especially between the arms, in the shadow area. I was also interested in the undulation of the contours of the figure in relation to the horizontal line behind her.
oil on gesso panel, 5x7 inches, 2009

Haeley Sitting

This is one of two paintings from a recent modeling session with Haeley. In this one I was mostly interested in the negative spaces within the pose. Please email for purchase for purchase information.
oil on gesso panel, 6x6 inches, 2009

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Welcome To My New Blog

Soon I will begin posting new paintings of the human figure. They will be small, mostly oil on linen. I hope to post a new painting every other day. I'm excited about this new venture and I look forward to your comments. Please check back soon!