Original fine art drawings and paintings in a variety of media. Follow my blog to see what I am currently working on.
Fine art figure drawings and paintings in drawing media, pastel, watercolor, and oil
Conte and white chalk on toned paper, 20 x 16
One of my favorite things is to explore new types of paper or drawing media and how they work together. I ordered some large sheets of Strathmore charcoal paper in a variety of tones, and when they arrived I began experimenting on this grey-toned paper with one of my favorite drawing media, conte pencils and sticks. This was intended to be just a sketch from a reference photo, but as it progressed I liked the results so I just kept going. I built layer upon layer of conte in the dark areas, gently blending and rubbing it in with a paper stump, and removing pigment with a kneaded eraser to get back to the tone of the paper in the light areas. I finished by making a few highlights with white chalk.
Figure study in blue, 2017
charcoal, watercolor, water-soluble graphite and white chalk on paper, 8.5 x 12
This was an experiment to combine a monochrome watercolor painting with a drawing medium. I started with a line drawing in willow charcoal on cold-pressed watercolor paper, then painted over that with a wash of ultramarine blue watercolor paint. When that was dry I drew and painted over the midtones and darks with water-soluble graphite. Then I used white chalk on the highlights.
Conte and white chalk on paper toned with watercolor
Oil on panel, 14 x 11”.
I made this oil painting based on a life drawing of this live model.
Young woman adjusting her hat, 2017
Water-soluble crayon and acrylic ink on paper, 14 x 11
Young woman adjusting her hat, 2017
Water-soluble graphite on paper, 11 3/4 x 8 3/4
Sunlit skirt #4, 2017
Water-soluble crayon and acrylic ink on paper, 12 x 9
Woman with rose
2017. Conte chalk and pastel on toned paper, 18 x 10”
Vegas dancer, 2018.
Pastel on toned paper, 13 x 9.
2018. Oil on panel, 12 x 9”
Study of a girl on a horse (sketch), 2016
Water-soluble graphite on bristol vellum paper
I don’t normally draw animals, but there is something about horses that makes me want to make an exception. This was my first attempt to draw a horse and I was surprised with how much it was like drawing the human figure.
Figure study in purple and orange, 2013
Watercolor on paper, 9 x 6
Figure study, 2016
Graphite and white chalk on toned paper, 11 x 14
Figure study, 2008
Colored pencil on paper, 8 x 10
Figure sketch with magenta, 2016
Watercolor and pastel on paper, 12 x 9
For years I have been experimenting with ways to combine watercolor and pastels. Here I took a sheet of cold-pressed watercolor paper and brushed on an acrylic ground for pastels and allowed that to dry. This produces a surface with tooth that is highly textured from the brush strokes (a palette knife also works well). It still accepts watercolor, which penetrates through the ground and into the paper. I painted general shapes with watercolor and after that was dry added the pastel.
Figure study #2, 2016
Graphite and white chalk on toned paper, 11 x 14
Figure with coffee cup (sketch), 2015
Acrylic ink pen and wash on drawing paper, 9.25 x 7
Abstract with blue and orange, 2016
Watercolor, gesso, and acrylic on paper, 14 x 11
My abstract paintings are largely unplanned. Sometimes after working on a realist painting or figure drawing I will paint an abstract to loosen up. The freedom of exploring color, composition, and the medium without the need for accurate measurements is liberating and energizing. As the abstract painting develops, it sometimes becomes an intellectual exercise in studying the harmonies of large and small shapes and patches of color, like the relationships you see in paintings by Richard Diebenkorn. Many of my paintings are done in multiple layers, where underlying layers show through to varying degrees and create a variety of interesting textures. I hope these paintings convey the freedom and energy that I feel as I paint them.
Abstract with blue and yellow, 2016
Watercolor, black gesso and acrylic on paper, 12 x 9
Why not? 2012
Pastel on toned paper, 8 x 10
Pastel on paper, 16 x 12
Here I used a piece of heavy paper and brushed on an acrylic ground for pastels. This provided a substantial tooth and allowed me to build this composition in layers. I was listening to jazz music, as I often do when I am painting an abstract. I close my eyes and imagine the juxtapositions of shapes and colors that are suggested to me by the music. The music sometimes also suggests a sense of movement that I try to capture visually or in my own movements as I build up the painting. I have learned that other abstract artists, such as Kandinsky, had similar synesthetic perceptions.
Abstract with purple squares, 2016
Watercolor on yupo, 13.5 x 10.5
Yupo is a relatively new type of drawing and painting support that is like sheets of thick paper, but made from plastic. When used with watercolor, the paint does not penetrate but sits atop the sheet, flowing and mingling with other colors until it dries. This is difficult to control but lends itself to interesting spontaneous effects.
Abstract with turquoise squares #1, 2016
Watercolor and black gesso on paper art board, 14 x 11
For this painting I began by coating a multimedia art board with white gesso. I then painted abstract yellow and orange marks with watercolor, and applied streaks of black gesso with a palette knife to define an interesting compositional pattern of lights and darks. I then worked around and through this composition with various shades of turquoise watercolor based mainly on a pthalo blue. A few bright, small red and blue squares of intense watercolor completed the composition. A friend told me that the bright red and blue patches reminded her of sailing flags, which gave the whole work a maritime feel – if that’s true, it was completely unintended.
Rethinking the design, 2015
Colored pencil and conte on toned paper, 9 x 12
In Ann Arbor there is an art store, Hollander's, that stocks a huge variety of different types of papers. I can spend a lot of time exploring the different papers in the store, and sometimes buy a few without any idea what I'll do with them. Here I took a textured, toned paper and doodled on it with colored pencils. I then darkened the black shapes with black conte sticks.
Harmony of squares, 2016
Watercolor on paper, 9 x 7
This was such a fun watercolor painting to do. I started with the color turquoise based on a pthalo blue and then experimented with other colors that played off of that. I wanted to combine a range of hues with a range of intensities (or chromas, the range from a pure hue to its greyed-down version) to explore multiple dimensions of contrast. To get a richer depth and texture in some places, I scribbled with a water-soluble crayon (Caran D’Ache Neocolor II) and painted over that with watercolor, which partially dissolved and spread the crayon making a more vibrant color.
This painting is influenced by Kandinsky – compare his Color Study, Squares with Concentric Circles (1913, watercolor, gouache and crayon). The way I interpret his painting is that Kandinsky was also exploring multiple dimensions of color contrast.
Blue helix, 2015
Watercolor, black gesso and acrylic on paper, 19 x 15
Moving to the music, 2017
Watercolor and acrylic on paper, 19.5 x 16
Abstract horizons #1. 2016, watercolor on paper, 8 x 10"
This painting began a series that I call ‘abstract horizons.’ The idea here was to convey a sense of calmness and equilibrium through a set of horizontal lines that might remind you of the horizon, while experimenting with color combinations and textures in the watercolor paint on the paper.
Ocean sunrise. 2016, watercolor on yupo. 10.5 x 13.5".
In this painting I simply explored lines of yellows, oranges, and blues laid down wet on a sheet of yupo. Yupo is a type of painting and drawing surface that is not made from natural fibers, it is a synthetic sheet made of polypropelene. It is slightly hydrophobic and wet paint sits atop it and mixes into interesting patterns as it dries. Once completed, the painting reminded me of a sunrise over the ocean.
Acrylic on paper, 8 x 10
Abstract with blue, 2016
Watercolor on paper, 11 x 14
Abstract with red square, 2015
Watercolor, black gesso, and acrylic on paper, 10 x 8
Lowering Mann's barn, 2013
Pastel on toned paper, 10 x 8
A friend of mine, John Mann, saved a century-old barn in Michigan that was going to be taken down. He hired a group of Amish workers to climb up onto the barn and dismantle it, piece by piece, and label all of the pieces so it could be re-raised on John’s property. His family took photos of the process of lowering the barn, which really spoke to me and looked like a wonderful subject for drawings and paintings. In exchange for copies of his family’s photos and permission to use them, I gave John this pastel drawing I made using one of the photos as a reference. He used some wood from the barn to make a frame for it, which seemed quite appropriate.
Lowering Mann's barn #2, 2013
Watercolor on paper, 11.5 x 9
After making the pastel drawing of this Amish worker lowering John Mann’s barn (above), I wanted to explore the image in another medium so I painted this watercolor on heavy bristol vellum paper.
Lowering the barn, 2013
Watercolor, water-soluble graphite, and graphite on paper, 7 x 4.5
Nude study, 2016
Watercolor, water-soluble crayon, black gesso, acrylic on paper, 10 x 8.
This painting arose somewhat spontaneously; I began with a partial figure study in bold complementary colors, blue-purple and yellow-orange, on Arches cold-pressed watercolor paper. I didn’t like how it was turning out, so I wet the paper with a spray bottle, made a few scribbles over it with water-soluble crayon, and made some random dark marks over it with black gesso using a palette knife. Then I turned the paper this way and that looking for a new, interesting form. Turning it upside-down, I saw a strong similarity to a gesture drawing of a figure that I had done in charcoal (see my 'gestures' page). I added some Payne’s grey watercolor to give more shape to the dark areas and then painted over it in acrylic, building on the existing color scheme, to develop the abstract figure.
Abstract nude study, 2016
Watercolor and acrylic on paper, 14 x 11
Samantha's hope, 2017
Acrylic, watercolor, and black gesso on paper, 20 x 16
This painting was produced from a modeling session with model Samantha Watkins
Seated nude in blue and grey
2018. Oil on hardboard panel, 12 x 9”
Figure in turquoise, 2016
Watercolor and acrylic ink on paper, 10 x 8
2019. Conte chalk and charcoal on toned paper, 11.75 x 8.75”.
See my blog entry on my drawing of this figure as an exploration in geometric abstraction.
Abstract figure study, 2014
Acrylic on canvas sheet, 9 x 6.25
Girl with terra cotta jug
2018. Oil and charcoal on Arches oil paper, 16 x 12”.
Woman in a red dress, 2017
Pastel on paper, 11 x 14
For this pastel painting, I used a heavy paper that I brushed with Golden acrylic ground for pastels, which provides a strong sandpaper-like tooth, while providing texture from the brush strokes.
Figure study abstract, 2008
Watercolor on paper, 10 x 8
Study of reclining figure in blue, 2013
Graphite, water-soluble graphite, watercolor and gouache on paper, 8.75 x 11.75
Head study of Ana, 2016
Charcoal on paper, 9 x 12
Head study of Iryna V, 2016
Charcoal pencil on paper, 10.5 x 9
Charcoal and white chalk on toned paper, 19 5/8 x 16
This is a charcoal portrait of Samantha Watkins, produced from a live modeling session and finished using reference photos that I shot during the session.
Study of a female head
Conte on toned paper, 12 x 9
Watercolor and acrylic on paper, 7.75 x 9.75
Samantha adjusting her hair, 2017
Conte crayons on toned paper, 20 x 16
This drawing was produced from a live modeling session with Samantha Watkins, finished using reference photos I shot during the session.
Charcoal, colored pencil and white chalk on toned paper, 12.75 x 9.75
Pine Street San Francisco, 2013
Water-soluble graphite on paper, 8 x 10
Stockholm clock tower (sketch), 2016
Water-soluble graphite and white chalk on paper, 11 x 8
Copenhagen roofs (sketch), 2015
Graphite on sketch paper, 8.25 x 10.25
Hotel Glenwood, 1999
Pastel on toned paper, 8 x 10
This is one of my earliest pastel drawings. I lived in San Francisco in the 1980s, near Union Square. I shot a photograph of this rooftop scene from the roof of my apartment building. Years later I used the photograph as a reference for this pastel drawing.
Buoy anchors, 2015
Watercolor on paper, 8 x 10
Exploring the town of Muskegon, Michigan for a few hours, Allison and I walked out to a lighthouse on a jetty. We passed the USGS research station where we saw this pile of anchors that are used for bouys. I took a couple of reference photographs and later painted this watercolor.
Life drawings are made directly from a live model in one sitting. Most of these drawings I made while attending open studio groups in Southeastern Michigan, where one artist or a group hires a model and invites other artists. I sometimes attend an open studio group at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti and another that meets at the Howell Opera House in Howell.
Life Study: Jennabelle #1
2019,. Conte chalk on toned paper, 19.5 x 12"
Life study: Jennabelle #2
2019. Conte chalk and charcoal on toned paper, 19.5 x 11”