Friday, December 22, 2017

Frank and Alison at Downing Museum

Frank  with his sculpture Firebird

Alison with Garden Party

This is just a quick update post showing our artwork on display at the Downing Museum in the 25th Jack Lunt Memorial Juried Art Exhibition.  
It's a lovely art exhibit, in a beautiful gallery setting, with a wide variety of styles and artwork. We were delighted to be juried in the show.

You can read more about it at

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Garden Party - The Big Finish

Garden Party
Acrylic on gallery wrapped canvas

From my last blog post,Garden Party-The Big Picture,  I continued painting with opaque slow drying paints, each bunch of figures. As I finished I checked my composition and found that I had indeed kept with the “rule of three” guiding lines for important points in the painting. But I also found triangles! 

I am really proud of the individual sets of characters in this painting. I tried to have the most detail in the man taking the photo, less in the posing couple.....even less in the family with two toddlers and group of talking folks in center stage. I wanted to highlight the little girl on the right, walking and texting, perfectly happy interacting with her phone. This piece ended up being a bit of commentary on how folks of different generations interact with each other. Going from the person to person chatting of the older folks thru the younger folks using their phone camera to post images to social media to the young girl in her own internet world.

Garden Party - Detail

Garden Party - Detail

Garden Party - Detail

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Firebird by Frank Lyne

Firebird by Frank Lyne


Accepted in the Downing Museum's 25th Jack Lunt Memorial Juried Art Exhibition

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Garden Party - The Big Picture

Garden Party
Acrylic paints on gallery wrapped canvas
measuring 30” by 40”
Accepted in the Downing Museum's 25th Jack Lunt Memorial Juried Art Exhibition

For this painting, Garden Party, I decided to go big! My usual painting sizes are anywhere from 10x10 inches up to 18x24 inches. But after seeing some realllllly big paintings at recent art shows.....I decided to try a big canvas this time. For the size and light weight I chose a stretched canvas, and being “gallery wrapped canvas” it doesn't need a frame.
I wanted to do multiple (mostly made up) figures, in bright sunlight, interacting with each other. For something this large, I paid attention to past work flows, and did my obligatory thumb nail sketches. I kept them in the same ratio of size as the large canvas. I did one for placement, another for value and a final one for colours.

That done I blew up the pencil sketches of my characters and made paper silhouettes that I used to paint a neutral brown outline of the figures, to find their placement on the large canvas. I then used the cut out portions as a masque for painting in large swaths of acrylic glazes for the dark shadowed background and the sunlit grass foreground.

Then using slow drying acrylics, I mixed up a value palette of a red, blue and yellow paint. I mixed up along side each colour it's complement and a mixture of each for a greyed version. I laid in the first main man taking the picture. I went on to pull up the masque on the posing couple and begin painting on them. 

Next time I'll finish off the tale of this Garden Party painting.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Garden Party: Discussions

Acrylic Paint on gallery wrapped canvas 10” x 10”

This painting is a start on a mini-series called Garden Party. I'm using a group of (mostly made up) folks at a summer garden party in bright sunlight, talking and meeting and greeting. I'm interested in stretching my skills at painting figures that actually show what they are doing with the least amount of detailing and the most impact from value and colours.

I sketched off the figures I wanted in this small painting, and made paper cutouts to transfer the outlines of where I wanted the figures placed. I then sponge rollered a couple of layers of acrylic glazes on the top shadowed portion of the background. This was an easy way to transfer the outlines of the figures onto the stretched canvas.

I then did the same kind of sponge roller brush technique on the grass. I wanted the grass to show up as in bright sunlight....but not be TOO green. Rolling over the silhouetted paper cutouts gave me all the visual hints needed to start on painting the figures.

I worked on the different figures using slow drying opaque acrylic paints. I really enjoyed these paints for their slower drying times, with all the ease of handling of acrylics. As I was finishing the painting I decided it needed something “more”. The gallery wrapped canvas is about 2 inches thick, providing a bitty space for a small visual surprise. So I tucked in, on the side, a small puppy intently listening in on the two gentlemen's discussion.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Hopkinsville Art Guild 2017 Pennyroyal Juried Art Exhibition

This is just a bitty blog post of a shout out to the kind folks at Hopkinsville Art Guild for their lovely art reception and awards presentation this past October 29th.

I got 3rd place in Paintings for Just Messing About (blog postfor Just Messing About here) I also had Green Glow in the show.

Frank got BOTH 2nd and 3rd in 3D works for his recent Singer (blog post for Singer here) and Teacher (blog post for Teacher here).

It was a great looking show and Hopkinsville Art Guild volunteers always throw such a lovey reception. Its a great chance to meet and greet other artists and patrons.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

At the Feet of the Gods or An Exercise in Colour Restraint

At the Feet of the Gods
Acrylic on 10 x 10 inch gallery wrapped canvas
From my own photograph

This time around I set myselves a challenge to paint a scene from one of my old photographs. The challenge was to paint it with an almost monochrome palette yet keep the values consistent with very bright sunlight. In addition I wanted to work on weaning myself off my bent of too much detailing.

To that end I chose a smallish gallery wrapped canvas and a reference photo I'd taken years ago, in Nashville at a book fair. I wanted the indistinct background figures to stay in a high key (very light colours) while keeping the values in a wide enough range to denote sunlight.

I really liked the seated figure, but I changed things a bit so's he looked like he had just looked up from his book and noticed I was snapping a photo. I wanted him against the dark marble pedestal for the contrast with his white T-shirt. I wanted to keep the relative values correct for the maximum sunlit effect. You can see my very old value chart on top of the reference photo. I used this time and again to check values.....I've learned that I very often miss the mark on which value is which.

You can make your own value chart by mixing together black and white paint and splitting the difference between total black and total white in half.....then again in half....and so on until you have anywhere from 5 to 10 steps between the two extremes.

I finished off the painting with, what was for me , a restrained palette....keeping any intense colours on the main character and keeping most everything else in the warm or cool gray range.

Next time around I just may go wild......and head off in the other direction.... of colour, color everywhere!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Dorothy Dix Project Finish

Portrait of Dorothy Dix (detail)
Mixed Media (Colored pencils both Prisma & Polys and acrylic paints with text on paper glued to the surface) on black illustration board
Portraits painted from Dorothy Dix photos used with kind permission, of Austin Peay State University’s Felix G. Woodward Library, Archives and Special Collections.

This week I'm talking a bit about the finish of my portrait of “turn of the last century” advice columnist Dorothy Dix. She was sort of a “early day Dear Abby”, who hailed from Todd County, Kentucky. This portrait along with four of my other historical illustrations, were featured in Historic Todd County's recently published book: T is for Todd County. You can see more about this book project and where you can purchase a copy at:

After doing her early portrait in coloured pencils, as I blogged about here:
I moved onto her elder self, in her 80s. This was also done in coloured pencils. I wanted this version of her to reflect her almost ethereal grandmotherly self. She was often referred to as the “Confident of the Nation” as readers would send letters confiding their problems, seeking her advice. Finally I painted in acrylic paints in the center, Ms. Dix in her heyday in her mid 50s.
Here you can see I'm closing in on the finish:

After I'd gotten the three portraits to suit me, I gave the overall painting a good review. I had wanted from the beginning to emphasize the central portrait, of Ms. Dix in her prime career years. I had emphasized that by making her skin in full colour, working from the old black and white photo,(as were all three source photos). Painting the acrylics on the surface of the black illustration board made the center image “POP!”. I also painted the most detail, and upped the value contrasts of the center portrait.
The other two portraits (in her 30s and her 80s) were in coloured pencils. This made them recede a bit since the coverage of the coloured pencils can't compete visually quite as much as the opaque paints. I still wanted to emphasize this a bit more. So I went back in with my handy dandy eraser and rubbed out some of the more intense colours and lights, making those two portraits fade just a bit more.

And here is the final version of the project:

I've had a blast working on this portrait, and I've really enjoyed getting to “meet” Dorothy Dix!
I wanted to also say a heartfelt thanks to the kind folks at Historic Todd County for jurying my historical illustrations into this lovely book project.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

A Farmer's Eclipse

This bitty blog post is just a bit about last week's eclipse event. We were lucky enough to be in the pathway of totality.....and did it ever put on a show. We, and a "few" other folks that stopped by, stood on a hill on our farm that gave us a lovely 360 degree view of the spectacular "special effects" caused by the eclipse. 

The photo above of a Farmer's Eclipse, was taken in our barn. The hundred year old (plus) barn had been rebuilt after a tornado strike. The tin used in rebuilding was recycled  from another structure. As recycled tin, it had numerous nail holes, that allowed the half moons of the beginning sun eclipse to shine thru onto the shovel. 

The photo below was one I just couldn't resist, a pic of both Frank and my hands having the eclipsing sun shining thru two of the tin's holes.

One of the best effects, in my humble opinion, was sunset all around the horizon, north, south, east and west!  I centered my camera on one spot on the horizon, and within 5 minutes elapsed time.....we went from a sunny August day to twilight. The in-between eerie sunlight.... was so Kool!

The whole eclipse experience was the best sense. And just made even better by experiencing it in such nice company.  

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Update on Chocolatier.......In Traveling “Illustrated Word” Show

(Photo of Chocolatier hanging at Hopkins County-Madisonville Public Library with the kind permission of Ashley) 
This time around I'm just posting a bit-o-update on my coloured pencil/watercolor/acrylic painting Chocolatier. I was lucky enough to have it accepted into the Kentucky Art Council's traveling exhibit, the Illustrated Word. It's a lovely art show of pieces dedicated to “showing” the different way the written word can be commented on or actually used in visual arts. It's “traveling” around to a dozen different libraries in the state of Kentucky, and it just so happens this July/August it's hanging at the lovely Hopkins County-Madisonville Public Library, not too far from me.


(Photo of Ann Morgan, with Chocolatier at opening reception with the kind permission of Donna Slayton)
This exhibit “travels' via the “above and beyond” efforts of local librarians, who transport the entire exhibit from their library onto the next one....all on their own dime and time. And they also have to hang the show and repackage the art pieces safely for transport. So KUDOS to all the hard working librarians and volunteers who make this show possible, along with the organization of the Kentucky Arts Council.

It's sorta nice that this painting is included in a "traveling art show" as I envisioned the young lady in the painting as being a well heeled young lady in 1910 or so, who was taking the "Grand Tour" as was popular in "Downton Abby" times.  I think of her sauntering around Paris and sampling candies from the local chocolate shop.  

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Reading Greek or a Book Fair Moment

watercolour on paper, 16 x 20 inches, my own photo reference

This blog post is a bit about how I'm spending my summer vacay......painting, of course!
I pulled this old-ish photo to work on, because a recent watercolour “crash and burn” was on my mind and I wanted to explore ways to work thru the problem of showing a crowd scene in watercolour. I wanted to show enough info to let the viewer see that folks were milling about in the courtyard, but not have it be the main event.
So I pulled an old pic I had, of the Southern Book Festival in Nashville's War Memorial building and courtyard. It had a lovely contrast of straight lines of the building, great shadows with figures popping in and out of the light, and a strong central figure set of the statue and the figure reading at the base.

So, I planned on making three washes for the painting. I masked off the courtyard, main figure and highlights of the shadowed figures, and poured away. As always with these full body watercolour warps and bubbles up scarily! But I just go away and do something else, and air conditioning does it's magic and when I come back it's FLAT!
Then a second more intense wash....

And the final darker wash. The shadowed columns and crowd are beginning to contrast nicely with the lighter first warm wash.

After it was (totally!) bone dry I removed all the misket. I began to daub in the bright highlights of the shadowed crowd, the Greek statue, and the reading figure at it's base. I also blocked off the columns and did a small repainting to set the columns “straight” and adjust the values. I was especially pleased with the composition play of both the statue's sword and the crowd shadows "pointing" towards the main seated reading figure.  With a bit of watercolour penciling to straighten up details and a bit-o-white gouche (opaque watercolour) on some lost highlights, I called it a wrap!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Cherry Bowl


This  week I'm pleased to welcome my guest blogger, Frank Lyne, who is going to tell us a bit about his recent project:
This bowl is made of a knot in a cherry log. The knot wasn't evident on the surface, but revealed itself when I split a log too big to easily move into more manageable portions. I already showed this picture of the knot in my previous post about making Singer. Singer was made from that portion of the billet that's below the knot in this picture.

While carving Singer, I set the bowl idea aside, but came back to it later. One side was already rounded and there was already a bowl-like depression in the center. I merely had to make a few cross cuts, round off the edges and sand it down. Mostly used a dremel drill to smooth the interior because no other tool would work. It could be used to store loose change, or maybe snack size Kit Kats.


Saturday, May 27, 2017

Dorothy Dix Project

Portrait of Dorothy Dix (detail)
Mixed Media (Colored pencils both Prisma & Polys and acrylic paints with text on paper glued to the surface) on black illustration board
Portraits painted from Dorothy Dix photos used with kind permission, of Austin Peay State University’s Felix G. Woodward Library, Archives and Special Collections.

This week I'm starting out a new historical project....a portrait of “turn of the last century” advice columnist Dorothy Dix. After just a quick search I found that the lovely Austin Peay State University’s Felix G. Woodward Library, Archives and Special Collections had a ton of great photos of Ms. Dix..... aka Elizabeth Meriwether Gilmer. So I picked out a photo of her in her 30's, 50's and 80s, and decided to show her as her life and career progressed. I did a quickie sketch combining the three views, along with a bunch of (snail mail) letters representing her fans' questions and a newspaper where her columns appeared.

Using the colour thumbnail I made a pencil sketch and traced it off onto the black illustration board using yellow graphite paper. I started on the left with coloured pencils, drawing in the Art Nouveau border. 

I then began penciling in the stacks of her readers' letters, resting on a shelf connected to the border. I took some random text with some headline phrases about Ms. Dix....”Confidante of the Nation”.....”highest paid journalist of her day”......printed them out on the computer, the size needed for the painting and glued them down onto a painted newspaper hanging off the shelf. I also included the permission from the Austin Peay Archives. After the adhesive (gel medium) dried I began glazing over the hand drawn text columns and pictures with white and yellow glazes to blend it all together. I wanted it legible but not blaring.

Then I was able to get down to the “fun” part......the first of the three Dorothy Dix portraits. I am doing the early and elderly portraits of Ms. Dix in colored pencil because I want them to recede a bit from the center and main portrait, and using colored pencils on the black illustration board will mute the colors a bit. For the center portrait, when she was in her hey day as a journalist, I will paint in full colour acrylics.

Friday, May 12, 2017


  This week I'm delighted to be sharing another guest blog by the talented sculptor, Frank Lyne.  He's introducing his latest sculpture.....Singer.

Upon finishing my last figurative carving, I meant to begin work on a cherry billet already in the shop. It didn't seem deep enough for what I had in mind, so I went back to the stable wood stack and selected a much bigger cherry billet. It was too big to move, so I decided to split it in half. It wouldn't split. After burying 4 wedges as deep as they would go, I stuck a 6 foot pry bar in the split and rocked it back and forth until at last a shell popped off, revealing why it wouldn't split. There was an internal knot that didn't show at all on the surface. Although the shell wasn't very deep, the knot looked interesting, so I took it to the shop to see what could be made from it.


It looked like it could be a bowl, so I made a cross cut above and below the knot, then another cut to flatten the side opposite what was already a bowl-like depression. This project looked like it was going to be more trouble than it was worth, so I turned my attention to one of the parts I had cut away from it. It was a slab big enough to make a full size face, but not deep enough for a whole head. It occurred to me that Olen Bryant, my sculpture teacher 50 years ago, would often make faces on slabs not nearly deep enough to make a full 3-D figure, so I thought “Why not?” For source material, I took pictures of a back up singer on a TV show. Although she isn't famous, I didn't attempt to closely capture her likeness, only her expression as she repeatedly belted out the word “rise” each time the song reached the chorus.

With a slight turn of her head to the right, she worked best in our house in a spot where that turn would make her face toward the middle of the room.


Saturday, May 6, 2017

The Discussion or Paper Cutting My Way to a Successful Painting

The Discussion 
8x10 inches acrylic on stretched canvas
This post is some more about my current fav “sketching” technique. I wanted to do a little painting sketch, on a small 8x10 inch stretched canvas. My primary technique goal was to paint the figures very broadly and try not to return to my habitual detailing, detailing...detailing. Now stretched canvas is VERY other words if you tried to trace off a pencil bounces with every lick of the pencil. Besides canvas weave is also very bumpy.....the canvas texture is very visible.
So......I took the long way 'round.....I traced my sketch onto a piece of heavy tracing paper, and cut out the figures. I taped the cutout paper over my canvas and brushed on the very green grass.


This let me get a good clear outline of the silhouettes of the three figures and let me paint in the cool dark colours of the background without worrying about dashing paint over into the facial areas.

It also let me work confidently on getting the intense color of the green grass with the warmer grass colour along the center line of the painting closest to the main area of interest.....the head and shoulders of the talking figures. And concentrate on getting the background crowd dark and greyed enough to be a perfect backdrop for the central foreground figures.
I was following a bitty scribble chart noting that I wanted a cool background to transition to a warm foreground. I wanted my two contrast points of interest to be on the two groupings of the three figures. Everything else was going to be muted, and less distinct to leave the focus of the painting to be the three figures having their discussion.


Here you can see my strategy for painting the facial features....without painting lines and too much details for the very small space. At this size things were a bit fiddly, but it worked. I also adapted the practice of having three brushes going at the same with a light flesh tone, one with a mid tone and a third with a very dark tone. I just painted in the mass tones of the faces.....and let it dry.

I took the “finding marks” of the shadow masses and went off painting, using them as my guide for facial feature placement. I wasn't satisfied with my pencil sketch's features or hair or in one case, arm placement. All easily worked on and changed as I painted.

Here you can see where I painted in the right hand man's boots. I used teensy tiny scissors, cut out his boots, placed the stencil over the correct spot, and painted in the boot outline. After removing the stencil, I painted in more light and shadows to make the boots look!

This painting has been a blast to do.....and as always....I learned a lot!