I am always sketching ideas in my notebooks and sketchbooks. My ideas come from looking at other art, especially old masters, both painters and graphic artists, from looking at nature, reading, and mostly from my own Imagination. Drawing on these things I do sketches like these here which are the seeds of my paintings. Sometimes I sit down to deliberately meditate on ideas and draw them, and other times they just occur to me while Iā€™m doing something else and I quickly jot down a sketch. The sketches below were done in my sketchbook and were the first steps of some of the paintings you see on my website.

Next I enlarge the rough sketch and add detail as seen below. If necessary I do research to find reference material. For "The New Guy", seen below, I used both the Web and the library to find pictures of Mariachi clothing, drums, violins, and day of the dead imagery, among other things. I also found reference material in my own art book collection.

Sometimes I do one or two or several color studies. I do these if I'm very uncertain about the colors and/or the values in the painting. These studies are small; 8 x 10 inches at the largest. I can change colors and values in these in seconds wheras in a final painting it could take hours or days to make such changes. To the right is one of 2 color studies I did for Return of the Ark. 

When I've worked out enough of the uncertanties in the drawing and color sketches if i do them, I'm ready to start work on the final painting. Below are the steps I took in doing The Moonlighter.

The first step of the painting is to transfer the drawing to my hardboard painting surface with carbon paper

I work in acrylic. I apply the first layers of paint transparently so I can still see the drawing. For more about materials click here

Gradually, I build up layers of paint. I continue to refine the shapes as I work.

You can see in the tree trunk of this stage that I have begun to work "light out of dark" - that is; painting with light opaque paint over the darker areas

In this stage, I've continued to work light out of dark in the foilage. This gives the shapes much more volume

I smooth out rough areas and conversely add texture where I want it -e.g. grass, fur. I decided a crescent moon would look better so I repainted the moon and sky. Finished!


The Order of Things

In the example above, The Moonlighter, I painted everywhere at once, building the whole painting up gradually. Sometimes, as in this example, Salsa Crabs, there are steps to the painting that have to be done in a certain order. Here I first painted the background, which were comprised of the gradations of the sky, the water and the beach.

Next I painted the white lines which indicated the waves meeting the beach. Then I positioned the drawing of my main subject matter, the crabs, where I wanted it and taped one side down. I put the transfer paper underneath and traced the drawing down.

Then I painted the crabs in. Later I painted some clouds and trees. The reason for following these steps and the point of this example, is that to paint the gradations of the water and the beach around the crabs would have been extremely difficult and tedious. Painting the crabs on top of these gradations was much easier.