Archive for February, 2010

African Americans in Art…. Dean Mitchell…

Dean Mitchell is one of the most celebrated realists working in the field today. He was born and raised in the south which heavily dominates his genre. Old tobacco farms, worn elderly faces, worn down farms and houses of the south. He mainly paints the black middle and lower class. Working mainly in watercolor but he has also now working with acrylics and has worked in oils but watercolors make up the majority of his work.

Mr. Mitchell attended the Columbus School of Design and worked as an illustrator for Hallmark Cards and also 7 up before venturing into painting and fine art in 1983. He is a signature member of watercolor societies and even won the prestigious but now defunct Art for the Parks competition. The prize money for this coveted award was 50,000 dollars.

In 1995 the U.S. Postal service commissioned him to do some stamps featuring some of the great jazz musicians of the 1930s, 40s, and 50s.

When I see his work of the older worn down buildings it reminds me of the artist Ed Hopper and the way he used to mix whites and purples and yellows when painting buildings.

One year he won the prestigious Arts for the Parks

Mr. Mitchell was called a modern day Vermeer in 2002 by Michael Kimmelman in the New York Times in 2002.

African Americans in Art…. Ellis Wilson

Ellis Wilson was  a great painter who never got much acclaim when he was alive. In fact I didn’t know of his work until I recently saw  a painting of his on the Cosby’s and recognized it. He was already dead when his work appeared on the Cosby show. In the show the painting was said to have been painted by a relative of Claire Huxtable but they still used his name  in the show.  The show centered around this work and going to the art auction. I loved the theme of this show, modern contemporary art.

One thing you can learn from this painting titled the “Haitian Funeral Procession” was to make your characters lean back to add some character. Use this idea also for buildings or sails. Any thing you want to add some life to. Don’t tip it forward so that it looks as if its going to fall over, but rather lean it backwards. This works well for the masts of sails also.

The painting featuring the 4 african american women titled “Four Sisters” is another favorite of mine. The design is great, repititive shape but all the sisters are of different sizes. This makes the variation of repititive shape more exciting to the viewers eye. Mr. Wilson rarely paints in the details in the faces of the people he paints, rather he concentrates on the gesture and the silhouette of the painter. The soft greys are a perfect compliment to the clothes and the skin tone of the ladies.

The last painting to look at is “African Royalty.” The umbrella’s all have a unique organic shape and no curved handle. Interesting indeed. The dresses are all of bright color as you find in Africa and since no details are included such as folds or hems of the dresses, the viewer is able to take in the whole picture as different flat and bold colors. The feet are gone and the hands are seen as a simple shape connecting the arm.  The background reminds me of dust as you often see in the african desert.


One of my favorite sayings of Mr. Wilson’s is ” There is so much to paint, and so little time.” Doesn’t seem as if he was ever at a loss for subject material.


Mr. Wilson’s work is included in the Smithsonian’s collection. Mr. Wilson grew up in a very segregated time and when he enrolled at Kentucky State he was only given the option to study agriculture and education. After deciding he wanted to pursue an art career he went North to Chicago.

Hope you enjoyed learning about this great artist! Keep learning!



Painterly Couple Daniel E. Greene and Wende Caporale…

today I would like to introduce you to the artist who inspires me to get better as an artist every day. Daniel E. Greene. He dropped out of high school in cincinatti to move to Miami where he drew pastel portraits of people until he saved enough money for art school. A great teacher who is great at expressing common mistakes artists make, I can’t recommend his DVDS highly enough. For color, I found his DVD Daniel Greene the color method to be the most informative DVD out there on the use of colors, especially in painting flesh tones like the masters of the past Rembrandt, Frans Hals, or Vermeer. is a great site to visit. It will give you many ideas of how to improve your drawings and paintings and how to properly design a painting. Take some time to see how the modern day masters use the different forms of color to turn a face. On this site first click on the portrait of J.F.K. I loved this piece for the colors of the skin tone here. The flesh tone is well done and matches the grey background perfectly. If you want the viewer to concentrate on the face surround the face with greys. The hair is great and taught me to use just the flesh tone for lights rather than using white. I use to use white for the highlights but then the piece became about the hair and stole attention from the face. The design of this piece was enjoyable as there is so much negative space. Makes the viewer concentrate on the president’s face.

Next take a look at the young girl in her white dress. Titled Jessie Chaffee. This is a great lesson to see the many different ways to paint white. If you have white dress or strong red dress start by greying down the dress and using plain tube white for only the highlights. For a strong red dress take a red and grey it up by adding a color like Raw umber. You can use black as well but it will be easier to control the color by using brown, sometimes black can just muddy up the piece. And he uses the darker grey purple for shadows on skin as well. The color is really controlled in this piece, controlled but used to great affect.

The last piece to look at is Candyland, under recent work at his own website www.danielgreereartist  It is still available for purchase, the price tag where I saw it displayed was $70,000. The painting is done on a square piece, I have never done a piece on a square format that I loved, so of course the design was great. You can’t tell it online, but if you see it in person you can see he really let loose and was really expressive with the whites, pinks, and reds.  He really piled them on thickly, like Soralla or the modern day artist Nancy Switzer, but only in the lights.  Nostaglic yet childlike, this piece inspires me to paint a scene of  something that seemed boring if you didn’t look close enough at it.

Mr. Greene has many dvds and books to learn from.  Now I will talk about his wife, a great painter named Wende Caporale who is known for her great work of children. She is known for not only capturing a likeness but also the essence of the subject. She has  a DVD out also, that will have your children looking great.

Having drawn younger kids for a living while in Las Vegas, the thing that ages a person quickly is drawing the smile lines thickly and drawing shadows too dark.  The lines of a younger person’s face aren’t as angular as an adult.

Lets take a look at some of her works at her website  Lets first check out Alex and Tierney in the children’s gallery. If you have trouble composing some good designs with more than 1 person in the picture take some notes here. I don’t know about having the children pose in a chair, this with the children on the floor was impressive. The Daughters painted by Sargent entitled the Daughers of Edward Darley Boit is the best painting I have ever seen of children. Design is critical especially if you are showing 2 kids as you want to compare the sizes of each.  A 1o year old to a 5 year, you don’t want to have them looking the same, push the differences. In this piece the background strokes were brilliant. The sitting poses are simple and very much childlike. The eyes are so well done, again the essence and wonder of being a child is amazing.

The next piece to glance at is Coming of Age, also in the childrens section. Its an amazing piece just considering the lenth of time it took to design and paint the background. The painting has a sense of depth enhanced by the dark corner in the left. The color and shimmering of the dress are done well. Its sometimes most difficult to draw a young teen whose nose is straight and looks older, more angular. Again pay attention to the little things on a face.

The last painting to look at is under Adult paintings titled Jane from Brighton England. Here is a good use of abstract design with the wall in the background. The hair uses many soft edges. The contrast between the hair and the wall design was just great! All in all you can learn many things by looking at the works of either of these painters.

Thanks for taking the time to learn and I hope to have given you some inspiration! Keep learning and drawing!



Couples who paint…..Evgeny and Lydia Baranov…

this is another couple who paint great interior scenes. Both went to art school in Moscow. I have never been to a full out costume party such as in the movie Eyes Wide Shut. I love the costumes, the masks, it is all very intellectually stimulating for me.

Now lets take a look at some of their marvelous paintings from their own website.

The first one I would like you to look at is “You Don’t Own Me” part of the Venetian Carnival series.. The use of green is the thing I like about this painting the most. That and the design with the two figures. The purple greys go well together with the green of the ladies dress. The background is highly abstract the way the human eye would see the background shapes as its concentrating on the figures in front.

The second picture I just love to look at is in the 2006 Venice section titled Rio di San Luca. It reminds me of some of John Singer Sargents paintings. When I look at paintings of buildings I like to see how tight the artist  makes the narrow windows or doorways. Richard Schmid is a master. It might be a straight line, but by changing the brush work, feathering an edge, or using a palette knife many different varieties of the straight edge will exist.

Play of Light and Shade from Paris 2007. I really enjoyed this piece, you can tell its a river scene when its only a tiny picture before enlarging it. Make sure your thumbnail sketch makes sense before you enlarge it. The use of greys and greens especially in the trees is a great touch. Makes them recede and the loose edges of the brushwork indicate movement. Green is really tough to have complimentary colors included, in this case a great purple and some yellow ochre was used in the painting of the church or large building in the left.

Please take some time to review this couples work and gain some inspiration. I find it helpful if you are going overseas, say to Venice, take some time to review the paintings you like of the place. For Venice lets take John Singer Sargent, look at some of his Venice scene paintings so you can see ahead how to solve problems you may have as far as making reflections in the water, giving movement to the water, and how much detail to show in background buildings. Less is more in landscapes!

2 more painterly couples we will talk about will be Daniel E. Greene and wife Wende Caporale and then David Leffel and Sherrie McGraw. Then on to study some African American painters and other  artists who paint mainly those with dark skin such as Mary Whyte and Stephen Scott Young.

This morning on Home and Garden TV on That’s Clever one artist used clay and acrylics to make a 2 headed bust as well. Also featured was an artist who used recycled materials to make all sorts of creatures. This show is only on every tuesday here in the mountain time zone, but its a great show to gather some ideas. If you like to make homemade jewelry this is the best show for you to watch. I have seen many glass blowers as well on this show.

I made some soap this past Sunday and jotted down some notes so that will be my next post. I challenge you to make your own soap and lotion, use the EXACT ingredients you want.  Its highly satisfying to take a shower or bath and clean yourself with soap you made.

Keep learning everyday and you will go far!



Valentines week Painterly Couples Aleksey and Olga Ivanov

This couple you can see if you are in Denver at the on the corner of York and Colfax. A great gallery to see the up and comers of the art world and also some great mixed media pieces. This couple’s painting entitled Vermillion or Salt of Success was featured on the cover of American Artist Magazine. If you are the newstand be sure at least flip thru this magazine. I can’t count the number of times I have been inspired by seeing of an artist in this magazines pages.

Also see this couple on their own website They illustrate childrens book and also do fine art painting. I really enjoy their compositions and their use of mixed media in their pieces. Many pieces are done in egg tempera so of course there is quite a bit of detail in their works.

Please go to the abend gallery for some paintings to review. Look at the cover painting I was talking about, vermillion or salt of success. I have many times struggled with having floral scenes, or anything with bright come out as I would like it.  It is necessary to balance the bright color focal point with some soft greys or browns. The light and shadow also have quite a bit of contrast. Also interesting is the use of greys to paint the white thru out the painting. From the lettering to the salt container do a double check of all the off white colors used.

Next lets check out the piece titled “Ariadne” I loved the way the pictoral space is split up in this piece. The characters to left and right of the young lady and an extra sense of intrigue, what are they doing there the viewer asks? The yarn also makes the piece look really 3 dimensional. So much fun but highly skilled technically, another great piece.

The last piece I would like for to look at is Conversation, the couple with starbucks in the middle. Loved the creativity invovled here. I have never painted someone so small, but this piece inspires me to try something new to me. The composition is also interesting with the coffee cup being the largest object in the painting.

Both Ivanovs were born in the mid 60s and went to Art School in Moscow. The have been collaborating ever since meeting in art school. If you check on their own personal website you will see some examples of their works with gilding and gold leaf.  I love the way they infuse old master ideas like egg tempera, think tight pictures like Andy Wyeth used to paint, with a contemporary feel such as an asian themed cartoon and a fine portrait on the same piece.

This is great couple to learn from and also great mid career artists to start to add to your collection!

Remember, learn a little every day, don’t regress and your success will amaze even you!



Demonstration reminders and husband and wife painters…

First off wanted to remind you Ron Hicks will be demonstrating figure painting at the Denver Art Students League tomorrow from1 to 3pm. Cost is $5 for members and $7 for nonmembers. If you want to see someone who loves to paint the figure, come here.

Also tomorrow Saks Galleries is having a demo featuring Wildlife artist Eldward Aldrich. If you look on and do a search about him you can tell he likes to paint foxes and is a good landscape painter especially with snow. His demo is free and is also from 1 to 3 pm on Saturday.

In celebration of LOVE and Valentines Day the next couple posts will be about man and woman painting couples. First couple I would like you to check out are Kate and Eric. Both are self taught artists who combine their skills on canvas and get some awesome results. Kate Eric is from Kate Tedman and Eric Siemens. Kate is from England and Eric is from the states. They split their time between rural Italy and San Francisco. The lush vegetation and looseness and abstractedness of their work really speaks to me.  is their website.  Paintings as well as sculptures are their specialty.

Fray Feeder and Bash from their 09 collection is amazing. I love the grey background making the red especially stand out. The piece looks like splashing water on one side and snowflake on the other! Great creativity! Fun abstract shapes one might expect to see while in the ocean! Great!

Ambush at Mal Hallows. I like the shapes in this one. Again the greys pushing red color forward. Kind of looks like mountains on the bottom. Love the spontineity of this piece.

The last days of Fire. These 3 were all in the 09 collection . The last Days of fire I especially like the technique. Embroidery collage on silk. Great. The shapes are fun and the fire feels hot. I hope you check more of this couples work and see all the mediums they work in!

Keep learning and more couples next time!



Artists who paint trees series…. Judith Belzer

Check out this amazing painter of the tree. Judith Belzer. Visit her own website

When you first start to design placement of trees on your paper or canvas it can be intimidating, how about just working on one piece of the tree. Where a branch shoots out for instance. Or just the trunk. These paintings are simply stunning for their beauty and abstractedness at the same time. People often tell her they see different objects in the abstract patterns.

Lets talk about some of her pieces on her site, mainly the series that brought her to my attention. The Inner Life of Trees. Hopefully she will inspire you to try a larger than life painting of a tree.

Lets first look at Series #1  These four paintings are just amazing in their design. The patterns of the inside of the tree are easily recognizable, but abstract at the same time. Lets talk a second about coloring the trees. When you start out painting most people let the color run rampant. In order for you to maintain control of a color, GREY DOWN ALL COLORS AT FIRST. Soft greys are easiest to manipulate. Say you have a really brown tree trunk, rather than just using burnt sienna, how about adding some paynes grey or raw umber and white and dull down the color. Put in the shape you see, and use brown to attract the viewer to your focal point.

Notice the treatment of darks. If you work from photographs you might tend to make all the darks too dark. Learn from this artist, grey them first, darken them later. Also the fun organic growth shapes of trees are just great to look at.

Lets look at Series #2. I loved this piece and make sure and click on the smaller panels. Notice how to control the color by greying and also watch your edges. If you can soften an edge, do so. If you look at someone’s hand with both eyes, the face becomes blurry. The human eye can only see one thing at a time with sharp edges. The softer your edges, the more intersting your paintings and drawings will be. Look at the fun had here with the organic shapes.

And maybe you can try to paint a diptych or triptych, painting with 2 or more panels. Most that I have seen are oceanscapes or of bodies of water, this is the first artist I have seen that used trees for a subject, and used them really well.

The last painting I will talk about didn’t have a title, but its number 4 from the left and is a diptych measuring 20 by 136 inches. If memory serves me right, these paintings are of the insides of eucalyptus tree. How interesting indeed. I love the coloring involved here. When you finish a piece, especially a landscape piece, take it and try it against a different color. You can use posterboard or cardboard and look at how good your piece would look up against the color.  I love the way this artists controls here browns, they aren’t boring browns. Also the eye moves across the canvas very easily and the piece has great movement. I can easily picture it on my wall, and it would work in any colored room since the browns are so controlled.

Please take some time to do a painting of a tree. Do a blow up picture like this artist or try a flower blown up like Georgia Okeefe. Its easier to see shapes and you will learn to pull the shapes into what looks best as an artist. Be bold and take control and your paintings will increase dramatically. Learn to control your browns and exaggerate the abstract shapes you love the most.

Hope you are inspired to try something new, a new format, new subject matter such as the tree. Keep drawing and painting and if you need to look for inspiration, GO TO AN ART GALLERY.



Artist who paint great trees…. Scott Duce

Today I would like to introduce you to Scott Duce. A great artist who paints trees, many times only one tree in a scene. Quiet and moody, I absolutely love this artist.

Check this artist out at Look under his bio and you can see many of his works.

The first work you should check out is antelope sky. Some things you should learn from this piece are the gradation of the sky from the zenith to the ground. Notice his color changes and the changes in tone as you look down to the bottom of the painting. Also look at designing some FUN shapes in the clouds. Take that cloud and make it yours. Don’t render the exact cloud you see before you, make it your own.

Autumn maker .25 is another great work. Reminds me of  Taj Walton who we discussed before with this design. One tree out in front and a thick row behind. I really enjoyed the color and feeling of isolation in this piece.

The last piece I will bring to your attention is bay light .2 I enjoyed the reflection of light and the play on water. Have some fun trying to paint the ocean and its reflective properties. Always remember that the ocean greys everything, takes the chroma down in all reflections it includes.

Please take the time to research this artist more on your own so you may see how to properly compose and execute drawings where the tree is the subject matter, sometimes only one tree.

Well that is all I have time to write for today.

Keep painting, drawing, and learning! The journey is worth the end results!

Artists who paint trees Gregory Packard

today I would like to introduce you to Gregory Packard. A painter who loves thick paint and paints often in the rocky mountains. You can see his work at look under greg packard.

These works are under sold inventory. When you have the chance, make sure and see what works in style and in favor now. Might give you a better idea to become a painter who actually sells.

First painting you should check out would crescendo. I love his use of aspens in all of his work. Aspens are great since the coloring is grey, its easy to play with reflective light of the leaves and sky. Check out the many colors he uses to change form on his trees. And the sky, looks like a cool afternoon rocky mountain winter day. Love it!

Seasonal Road. This painting is great because you can see how to weave together some colors you might now ordinarily use on a landscape. The oranges, greens, and purples all work well together in this scene. I especially loved the purple and pink roads, makes my burnst sienna, or burnt umber pathways seem kind of plain.

Last painting I would like you to see is Winter Letting Go.The greens purples and blues are really harmonious. I especially like how Mr. Packard paints his trees, rather than using the palette knife. Painted pine trees are especially rare. Please see his blog and journal entries as well. Often times he adds poems of what he is feeling at  a certain moment.

Keep painting drawing and learning! The journey never ends.

Till next time!