Wednesday, September 24, 2014

News from the Studio 9/24/14

Happy Fall everyone!

This has already been a pretty busy week.  I began a new piece on Saturday, and I'm about 2/3 done with it I think.  Before this one, I had been feeling pretty uninspired.  And one of my cardinal rules for painting is to never wait for inspiration to come, but to seek it out.  And when I'm not painting, I need to be drawing or doing something.  So before this painting, I had been doing a few small nature studies in oil, and some sketchbooking of pretty much anything.. mostly copies of 19th and 20th century figure and portrait drawings.  The key is to keep busy with something while also figuring out what to paint next.

...Enter the band Disciple.  They just released a new album that they produced themselves via Kickstarter.  Everyone who donated to the Kickstarter project got the digital copy of the album emailed to them 2 weeks in advance.  So I've already been listening to this sucker for 2 weeks, almost non-stop (Yes, I'm listening to it right now as I type).  Anyway, the reason they decided to go independent on this new album is because they wanted full creative control over their music, and didn't want anyone filtering out songs.  As it turns out, so many of their songs in the past that mentioned "Jesus" specifically by name were left off of those albums.  But not this time.  This new album called "Attack" actually has a song called "The Name" that has inspired me a lot, and it is about this very thing... that if we dare to call ourselves disciples, then we should never be afraid or ashamed to speak the name of Jesus boldly without reservation, regardless of the consequences in this 21st century world that hates Jesus.  And if you're curious, here is the song:

So that along with a number of Scripture passages from Romans and Philippians have inspired me with this newest painting that I'm working on.  It is by far my most intense painting in a long time.  I wanted to do something far more bold and meaningful than just a portrait or figure with a clever title.  This had to speak loud in its narrative, and even louder in its imagery.  I'm calling it "To Live is Christ, To Die is Gain", and here is a small detail of the progress:

It really isn't much, I realize.  But to give away any more would give away too much at this point, and I want everyone to see it all at once when it's finished.  And if you are unaware of what the symbol is in this preview, that'll be explained later too.

So in between painting sessions with this piece, I did a little "fall cleaning" in the studio.  It's not quite done.  I've got quite a bit more organizing left to do.  But I decided to redecorate and cover up some wall space last night.  Another source of inspiration is literally surrounding yourself with art, even if it is your own junk:

Well, it's a lot better than stacking them in the corner of the room... which I already have a LOT doing that right now.

My last order of business for this week is coming up on Friday.  I'm finally heading over to paint Mason's portrait.  As I mentioned before, he is a high school senior this year, and instead of having a senior photo session, his parents have commissioned me to paint his portrait from life.  And again as I've mentioned before, I am excited for it!  I'm a little nervous too.  I've painted portraits from life plenty of times, but this one marks the very first time I'll actually be doing it for a commission.  Hopefully all that "practice" will pay off.

Once again, I just wanted to put it out there that I am offering this service to everyone else as well.  If you are a parent of a high school senior (or any grade really) in the Kansas City area, then I hope you will consider letting me paint your son or daughter's portrait for their senior year or other occasion.  This will be something that will last for generations in your family.  Please contact me at for all the details! 

That's all for now, but as always stay tuned for more very soon!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Attention Parents of High School Students!

Hi everyone!

So a little while ago, I mentioned a little project that I'll be doing very soon.  And I said that it had the potential to expand into multiple projects.

Well today, I wanted to share that project with you.  I have recently been commissioned by a wonderful family at my church to paint a high school senior portrait for their son, a young man named Mason.  As it turns out, they're going to be doing this as an alternative to having a typical senior photo session.  So in the next couple of weeks, I'm going to have Mason sit for me while I paint his portrait from life.  I am so excited about it!  I can't begin to tell you how fun this will be... at least for me!  Hopefully Mason won't get horrendously bored sitting there.

So when I received this commission, I started thinking to myself what a brilliant idea this was.  And it wasn't even mine.  It was so brilliant, that I want to take this opportunity to extend it to ALL you parents out there of high school students, particularly seniors or those about to become seniors.  If you are wanting an alternative to having senior photo sessions with your son or daughter, then I would encourage you to allow me to give you that alternative with an original senior portrait painted by yours truly.
Of course, many of you have seen my most recent portrait of Abbey.  She is a senior this year, and I can't even tell you what a joy it was to paint this piece:

Portrait of Abbey
oil on linen
20x16 inches

Although Abbey's piece was not a commission, hopefully you can see how it still serves as an example of how much I love painting portraits, and how much joy, hard work and effort I would put into your son or daughter's portrait.  Here are a few more samples of recent portraits I have done:

Portrait study
oil on canvas
14x11 inches

oil on canvas
14x11 inches
And with the permission of Mason's parents, I'll be posting his portrait once it is complete.  I hope some of you other parents will take me up on this offer!  Even if your son or daughter is not a senior yet, I would still love to talk with you about having their portrait painted sometime!  If you are in the Kansas City  area, please contact me at for more details about canvas sizes, pricing, and everything else involved.  I would love to hear from you!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Very interesting...

I just had a birthday this week, and I tried a little something new.  And wow, was it difficult!
I did an oil painting on copper, and it was not nearly as fun as I hoped it would be.  I messed up several times.  I'm not 100% certain I prepared the surface correctly, but in the end, it worked out okay.  I started by sanding the surface a bit, and tried to rub a little lemon juice over it (the acids are supposed to help the paint adhere better). 
Well, it was okay for my first time.  I have another copper plate to work on, and I'll hopefully get the surface just right on that one.  Anyway, here is my effort.  In celebration of another year of my life, I did a selfie.  I did some glazing on it yesterday with a little viridian, so this is the most up-to-date version.

My 33 Year Old Self
oil on copper
8x6 inches
This is one of those instances where the photo really doesn't do it justice.  The painting itself looks so much better than the picture of it.  But there it is. 
So my thoughts on painting on copper... Well, it's probably supposed to be a lot more fun than this first one of mine was.  It's really all about properly preparing the surface.  If it's too smooth, the paint will not stick to the surface, and it won't be fun at all.  That's definitely the key.  But an interesting thing to experiment with.  Give it a shot.
That's all for now.. Stay tuned for more.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Portrait of Abbey, the Artist's Sister

About 5 years ago, I started volunteering with the youth group at my church after getting roped into a youth mission trip to Dallas that I really did not want to go on.  But what can I say, this was before I developed my ability to say "No" to things.  But even then, I didn't have it in me to turn the trip down.  God was certainly insistent that I go in spite of my hesitation (Isaiah 6:8).  I didn't know why at the time, but the Force was strong... and I found myself saying "Yes."
As it turned out, God did have a plan (Jeremiah 29:11) and it was so much more wonderful than I could have ever imagined.  He knew where I belonged, and put me right there.  In my 5 years of volunteering with this bunch since then, I've met a lot of teenagers.  Some of them have been just wonderful, while others have driven me to near insanity.
And then there's Abbey.  It was spring 2010, and I met this little 7th grade confirmation kid who was a combination of adorable and just a bit of attitude.  She had her days where I wasn't sure if she was going to be one of the wonderful kids, or one of the "drive me insane" kids.  It was different from week to week.  What I do remember well is that a LOT of confirmation students didn't stick around after finishing the class.  But in spite of my uncertainty about this kid, I was really hoping Abbey would stick around.  Sometimes, you can just tell when God has a lot of great work left to do in a person (Philippians 1: 3-6).
Well, thankfully she not only stuck around, but made the youth group a major part of her life.  Now she's a high school senior and is still that same combination of adorable and attitude.  But Abbey is the perfect example of how beautiful God's transformational power is (2 Corinthians 5:17).  As far as I'm concerned, the time has gone by way too fast.  But I couldn't be more proud of how far this young woman of God has come.
So I have no better way to pay tribute to this young woman of God than by joyfully using God's gift in me as an artist.  I knew a while ago that I wanted to paint Abbey's portrait, and I knew it had to be good.  I saw a recent picture of her, and it was one of those really great candid moments that captured her personality wonderfully.  I had to paint it.  After several weeks of drawings and an oil study, I got a brand new linen canvas and did the painting... which she finally saw in person last night.  So now you all get to see it as well.

Abbey, I am happy you liked it.  I did my best with the colors I had and the gift and love of painting that God gave me.  But always remember that absolutely nothing compares to the way God's hands created you (Psalm 139: 13-16, Isaiah 64:8).  Much love, little sis. 

Portrait of Abbey
oil on linen
20x16 inches


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

News from the Studio 9/3/2014

Lately, I've just been painting.

Seriously, for the first time all year long, I have a break where I'm not currently doing any exhibitions.  So I've had some time to get to work in the studio, and hopefully pull off some awesome stuff for 2015 shows.  But I am hoping to get into at least one more show before 2014 is over.  We'll see.
Well, one awesome bit of news.  It's kind of old because I've not updated this page since the RAA show.  But I mentioned my 1st place win for Icy Stare.. well, as it turned out right as I was about to check out of the show on that Saturday, they also awarded me with the People's Choice award for Give Me A Sign.  I have NO idea how that happened!  One thing is for certain... the people who voted for me are completely anonymous.  I have no idea who they were.  I didn't even cast a vote.  It was pretty amazing to think that people I don't even know voted for my piece.  In some ways, a People's Choice is a greater award than a Best of Show.  A Best of Show award is given by a judge or small panel of judges.  But the People's Choice is selected by everyone at the show.  The ones that matter most to me... the viewers.  So whoever you all are that selected my piece, thank you.
Since the Raytown show, I've done 2 more paintings.  The first one gave me an interesting challenge.  I chose the wrong size canvas for it.  I determined this well into the painting as I discovered I had way to much negative background space.  So I pulled the canvas off of its stretcher and wrapped it around a smaller stretcher... while it was still wet.  I couldn't help it.  I'm just that impatient, and I didn't want to wait for it to dry before I re-stretched it.  Well, let me just say the lesson here is that it would have been much easier and less messy to let it dry first.  Patience, artists.  But it turned out okay in the end, and here it is:

Got a Light?
oil on canvas
20x16 inches
The second piece I just finished earlier today.  Lately, I've been feeling nostalgic about the old Holy Land trip I took a few years ago.  I want so badly to go back to Israel someday and paint like crazy.  God willing, someday.
So I did this piece inspired by my brief time there.  By the way, painting stones is a long, boring, exhausting process.  But I think it was worth the labor.

Old Road in Nazareth
oil on canvas
20x24 inches
I am still planning on doing more plein air painting soon.  I am actually waiting for fall colors to start forming before I get back outside.  Cannot wait for that!
I have some commissions on deck... Just have some details to work out with clients first, and hopefully we'll get them going soon.  By the way, if you are interested in commissioning me for a piece, by all means don't hesitate to contact me at  I'd love to talk about doing a painting for you!
That's all for now.  I've gotten some inquiries about when I'll be posting Abbey's portrait.  Well, that one took a little longer to dry than I expected.  And my promise was to let Abbey see it in person before anyone else got to see it.  But the good news... that's about to happen.  Stay tuned!