Showing posts from September, 2018


Here are two sketchbook drawings from earlier today. One is a life study from a figure drawing session, and the other is from a reproduction of Vermeer’s The Milkmaid.
This was the first life drawing session I have attended in several months. It was good to work from the model again.
The reproduction of the Vermeer painting was in the copy of David Hockney’s book Secret Knowledge that I have borrowed from the public library. Secret Knowledge is Hockney’s historical investigation of the use of lenses in making paintings. He convincingly demonstrates that as early as 1430 artists such as Jan Van Eyck were using the advanced optics of their time to transfer a real image to their painting surface.
Along with the large art book, Hockney produced a two part video series on the topic. Like the book, I find the videos enjoyable and convincing.
The idea that lenses were used in making some great paintings does not make me think drawing is not worthwhile. Drawing is a great way to connect bod…


Vlogs were new and unfamiliar to me when I first started following one, a little over two years ago. I came across Eight Miles From Home, an almost-daily video diary made by a young English expat couple living in Portugal.
My youtube viewing experience up to that point had consisted primarily of travel videos. Some were slickly produced, like those made by Expedia, or Rick Steves, and some were less so. I was a fan of Kees Colijn’s videos in which he simply turns on a camera and walks, or bikes, around a city for an hour or so. He has made videos in many places, but it was his native Netherlands, particularly Amsterdam, that I was interested in seeing. In true Amsterdam fashion, he shows no fear of getting hit, or running into, cars or bikes.
In the months leading up my trip to Europe in 2016 I watched his videos frequently, whetting my appetite for my travel to come. After my trip, watching one of his walks in Amsterdam, I realized that he was walking through the neighborhood, and with…


The other night I had a dream that was set in Philadelphia, or in some dream-altered Philadelphia-like place. Part of it was set on Cricket Ave. in Ardmore, where my parents, sister and I lived for a few years in the early 1970’s. It was kind of like Cricket Ave., except, oddly, the sidewalk had a curb that was about two feet high, stepping down to another sidewalk, that had an 8” curb to the street. Who knows why one imagines or remembers such things.
I had been watching John Thornton’s videos on Philadelphia artists, and thinking about my time there, at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and afterward.
The image above is a two page spread from one of my sketchbooks from PaFA, with preparatory studies for my painting Portrait in a State Park. I was rehearsing the pose, and thinking about the setting for the painting. My fellow student at PaFA Christina Kelly was kind enough to pose for me. I wanted to make a life size portrait that would fit on a 68”x48” canvas, which was a size…

Labor Day

I worked today, on Labor Day, painting on a relatively large piece with two figures. It was almost all done with palette knives, spreading oil paint on thickly. I will share an image of it soon. While working I listened first to Beach Boys songs, then to an excellent documentary on the band from 1999, then to interviews with the members of the band. Their story is fascinating in a number of ways. If you want to delve into an interesting American story, the Beach Boys’ story is one for sure.
Mike Love, the lead singer, spoke about his father’s work in the family sheet metal business. That likely would have been Love’s source of income if the band didn’t work out. Love spoke of his emulating his father’s hard work of providing for his family.
I was thinking of my father’s work, providing for his family, with gratitude. The image above is a detail of one of the paintings I did a few years ago, from old family photographs, of my father and his sister as children.