Growing a Poinsettia

Posted by on Dec 19, 2017 in commissions, Oil Paintings | 9 Comments

Someone bought some cards of a poinsettia painting that I did about 8 or 9 years ago. (It looked fine as a 4×6″ image, back when I was first learning to paint. Be polite, okay?)

She liked it so much that she asked me to paint the same picture for her as an 8×10″ oil painting. 

Oh boy, another do-over!! This time I get to do a better job because I paint better and because the canvas is larger to accommodate more detail.

There wasn’t one photo that was my guide when I first painted this. I used several, simplifying the image as much as possible. This time I am using several photos again, but not simplifying the flower so much. This looks a little bit weak in color because the paint is wet and shiny. This is at the end of day #1.

In the next painting session it looks almost finished, but there is more layering, the center detail, edges, and finally. signing. (Then drying, scanning, varnishing, drying yet again). This was painting day #2.

You can see in the next photo that most of the painting looks weird and reflective, because it is wet and shiny. There are 4 petals that haven’t been re-layered. This was painting day #3.

At the end of the painting session, I hung it out in the workshop to begin drying. This one wasn’t in a huge rush to be delivered, so I didn’t want its messy wet self in the house.

Funny how it doesn’t look reflective here. That is because it has indirect light from the window rather than a lamp shining on it. That lamp helps me mix the colors right, but makes for poor photography.

And finally, this is the finished and scanned commissioned oil painting of a poinsettia. Color looks duller than in real life. I hate that. But, the real one is brilliant. Guess you’ll have to take my word for it.

December Oranges

Posted by on Dec 15, 2017 in commissions, Oil Paintings | 8 Comments

Did you know that navel oranges are harvested in December? If you are from Tulare County where the world’s best (and most) navel oranges are grown, you probably knew that.

My grandfather and dad were both orange growers. I am an orange painter.

A friend/neighbor called to say that her sister-in-law wanted an oil painting of oranges just like the one in her dad’s house. I asked for a photo of the painting so I would know how to make another one.  Obviously, these people have impeccable taste in artwork. After receiving this photo, I looked through my 963 photos of oil paintings, arranged by subject, and although I recently finished Orange #134, this old painting didn’t show up in my inventory. 

That’s okay. I have plenty of photos to work from. And if I am going to paint an 8×10 oil of oranges, I might as well do a second painting to have ready for the next orange art emergency.

This is how the orange paintings looked on day one of painting in December. (The 8×10 will probably be mailed while it is still a bit wet.)

At the end of the painting day, I put them in boxes to carry into the house and prop up over the wood stove so they will be ready for the second layer. 

(I painted a second and third layer without photographing the process.)

EPILOGUE: Finished and in the mail, right on schedule!

List of Activity

Posted by on Dec 6, 2017 in commissions, drawing, Oil Paintings | 4 Comments

What a boring title – “List of Activity” – I’m sure that got people tripping over the Google to find this post. 


But it has been active around my studio and art business lately with sales of oil paintings and pencil drawing commissions.

Finished and sent to happy customer:


Sketch approved and drawing begun:

Further Pencilization

Posted by on Dec 5, 2017 in commissions, drawing | 2 Comments

What is this “pencilization” that you’ve been saying lately?

Just another made up word by your Central California artist, who specializes in pencil art, turning photos and ideas into pencil drawings.

The print arrived from Shutterfly, so I was able to continue with the commissioned pencil drawing. An email arrived also, giving me the freedom to do what needs to be done in order to make the scene mostly accurate and pleasing at the same time.

Hurray! Freedom! (Sometimes customers ask me to do things that will make their drawings look stupid; this customer is not like that at all.)

Once the print arrived, I was off like a rocket, pencils flying. There’s something to be said for being able to see the details clearly! It is now in the happy customer’s hands (or perhaps at a frame shop).


Posted by on Nov 29, 2017 in commissions, drawing | 4 Comments

A friend sent me a photograph and asked if I thought it would make a better oil painting or a pencil drawing.

Nothing to see here, folks; just move on. . .

What I mean is that there is very little color to see, so I recommended a pencil drawing. I ordered a good print from Shutterfly, but decided I couldn’t wait for it to arrive to begin drawing, because drawing is my favorite thing. Besides, this might be a lot harder than it looks, and there is a deadline.

There may or may not be a teensy structure that is very important to the friend/customer on the far right. We know it is there, but it isn’t visible. 

I can visualize where the structure belongs, but not the shape of the roof, or how much of the roof might even show. Good pencilization requires this information. This scene is a short 1/2 mile walk from home so I can meander over with a camera and see if the structure shows.

Meanwhile, keep drawing. . . one day my prince prints will come.


Walnuts in My Art

Do you like walnuts? When I was a kid, I thought gleaning was punishment, in spite of being paid a king’s ransom of 25ยข a bucket. There were always stinging nettles on the ground, and it was boring. Then, I would say to my poor mama, “WHY do you have to put walnuts in EVERYTHING??”

I grew up. 

Look at the walnuts in my art. These are only the ones that I saved photos of; I did two other pencil commissions with walnuts before I had a digital camera, a computer and a blog.

This won a prize in the Madera ag art show AND, this is bigger to me, it sold. The title: “With, Please”.

A friend commissioned me to paint seven 2×2″ oils of important crops in California. Left to right, top to bottom (in case you can’t figure these out): fig, apricot, navel orange, lemon, valencia orange, walnut, almonds. (Hi, Craig!)

This pencil drawing was commissioned earlier this year as a gift for the retiring farm manager. (Hi John! Were you surprised?)

This page is inside my coloring book, “Heart of Agriculture”.

Heart of Agriculture is available here.

Oh Mom, do I HAVE to put walnuts in EVERYTHING??

Three Orange Oil Paintings, Completed!

Posted by on Oct 31, 2017 in commissions, Oil Paintings | 2 Comments

Whoa. That was a sprint. Three new orange oil paintings in a week’s time, begun and completed.

This is the original orange painting; it is drying in the window because I had to re-sign it so that the frame wouldn’t cover my name.

Top orange completed. The color and clarity are definitely better after the 2nd coat. Good thing.

It was very helpful to have the original painting right there to match the colors.

Two down, one to go.

Compare the bottom painting in this photo to how it looks in the photo above.

It is a privilege to be thought of when local businesses have Art Emergencies; it is a thrill to be able to handle those situations. I’m very happy to be able to help, and particularly happy to help out in ag and especially in citrus.


Your happy orange painter

Oranging Along

Posted by on Oct 30, 2017 in commissions, Oil Paintings | 2 Comments

It’s my blog, I’m 58 and I can make up words if I want to. Any questions?

Oh. What does “oranging” mean?

It means painting oranges, although I was just painting greens that day. Because this commission job was for 3 oil paintings in 2 weeks, I had to plan the most efficient method of delivering mostly dry paintings. 

Day one: get the first layer down, all the canvas covered, the basic shapes and colors in place and the edges with one coat.

Day two: Perfect the background greens so that on. . .

Day three: sign on the green area after perfecting the orange area. Finally, put a second layer on the edges, which may or may not show. I don’t know what the framer has in mind and won’t get to see the final product. 

This gives the paintings a week to dry. Would have been better to know about this job sooner, both for more time to work and also for summer’s heat, which makes for quicker drying. They might be a little tacky (in the tactile sense of the word, not the quality of the job.) But, a little pressure is sometimes a good catalyst for action.

Working upside down is helpful both for seeing shapes accurately and for a more comfortable hand position. The finished painting is on the bottom, and it is my guide.

The second painting.

And here is #3. Bet you are wondering if there really are 3 plus the original. . .

Yeppers. Three orange oil paintings with the original sitting alongside on Samson’s shelf.

Speaking of Samson, he is pretty tired. He’s been working the night shift lately. 

Three Oranges, To Go, Please

Posted by on Oct 24, 2017 in commissions, Oil Paintings | 4 Comments

Two weeks to paint three oranges, but really, only one because of a planned 2 days off and because of drying time.

No problem. . . just get outta my way! They don’t have to be truly identical, because each one will end up in a different home.

That sounded weird. If they were all in the same home, they really wouldn’t have to be identical. Never mind.

They will all be presented at the same time, so they need to be close. That way, no one says, “But I like his better!”

This is how it looked over the course of Day One at the easels.
The last step of Day One was painting layer #1 on the edges. When I return to the project in two days, they will be dry enough to put on the next layer. The second day of painting will be when I perfect all the details. 

Two days isn’t some formula; it is because I teach drawing lessons on the second day and have a prescheduled appointment on the third. On day four I can continue.

They most certainly need more work. . .


Four Oranges, Please

Posted by on Oct 23, 2017 in commissions, Oil Paintings | 2 Comments

A yearly customer emailed me to ask for a painting she saw on my website, but she didn’t just want that painting. She wanted four of that painting.

Well, oops. My paintings don’t get reproduced by machines; my paintings get reproduced by a paintbrush in my hand.

But wait! There’s more! She wanted them in two weeks time.

Ahem. I paint in oils. They take awhile to dry (unless it is July or August). This could be a tricky assignment.

First, I found the original painting and got in touch with the gallery showing it to set it aside for me to retrieve. This meant that I had to paint “only” three. That helps.

Second, did I even have blank canvases the right size? Yeppers, I did. 

I know, you are just dying to see what painting she wants.

Tomorrow, I’ll show you what happens next.