Thursday, December 31, 2015

DVD Review - Secrets of Portrait Painting with Cesar Santos

Greetings friends!
Today I wanted to give my little review of this new DVD series that was so generously given to me for Christmas from my family.  This is Cesar Santos' Secrets of Portrait Painting.  So let me start off with an overview, and then get into the highs and the lows.

This is a 4-disc series that features Cesar Santos giving a full demonstration of his impressive realist portrait painting technique with his wife Valentina serving as his very patient and excellent sitter.

Literally every stroke of his brush is shown (99.999% of them at least).  He begins with a basic drawing using a raw umber PanPastel, and then follows with a 3-stage painting process of dead coloring, first painting, and second painting.  And he explains what each of those terms mean as he gets into them.  From the first mark of the pastel to the signing of his finished piece totals about 18 hours.  And with that are a few extras, including a nearly hour-long interview with Santos.  Altogether, the content on this DVD set totals nearly 20 hours.  So you'll almost certainly need a few days to watch it all the way through.  I took about 3 days myself.

So let me start of with the low points, because there are so few.  But let me word this in terms of who should not get this DVD.  Obviously, anyone with a serious aversion to long demonstrations would probably not like it.  As I said, the demo itself consists of about 18 out of the 19-20ish hours of this DVD series.  It is a slow and tedious process.  Santos does not paint alla prima.  This is the traditional, academic indirect approach to portrait painting.  If you're looking for a quick-paced alla prima DVD, I would highly recommend Robert Liberace's "The Alla Prima Portrait".  That demo is around 3 hours.  Honestly, however, I think making a big deal about the length of this demo is a bit nitpicky because each stage of painting that Santos goes through is critical to the process and has its essential elements and principles that need to be understood in order to have a successful painting.

One low point that should be pointed out is that the promo for this DVD indicates that this is a great instructional tool for any artist, including beginners.  To that, I would say yes and no.  On the one hand, I do believe there are points to this demo that beginners will find very beneficial.  On the other hand, I also believe the demo leans towards the advanced painter.  For instance, Santos will occasionally use terminology throughout his demo that may be unfamiliar to the average novice painter, and then not define those terms or concepts.  So it presupposes that you as the viewer already know what some of these terms and concepts mean.  So would I recommend this DVD to a beginner - Yes and No.  It mostly depends on what type of beginner you are.  If painting is something you do part-time on the side, and you don't have any intention of investing 100% of your effort into it, then probably not.  I could see this DVD being overwhelming for those beginners.  But if you are a beginner who has decided to make the pursuit to excellence in painting a full-time effort, then absolutely I would recommend this DVD to you.

That leads us to the next low point... at least for some - those with a very tight budget.  Yes, it's a $200 DVD set.  I was fortunate as I said, because my family is generous.  But if this is something you are looking to purchase yourself, then I can certainly understand the price tag being an issue for some.  Especially for those of us artists who simply don't have those funds.  But when you think about it, $200 for a DVD that you can watch over and over again with a master like Cesar Santos versus $400-500 for a workshop that only lasts a few days, and you only get what you take with you.  Now it doesn't sound so bad.  Of course, the disadvantage of the DVD over a workshop is that you can't ask Santos any questions about what he's doing.  And you not there in person to see the demo, so you're at the mercy of your TV screen quality.  On that note, I might also point out that the camera angle on the sitter Valentina was different from the angle that Cesar was seeing and painting her.  So to make an exact comparison between the sitter and Cesar's painting is difficult for the viewer to make.

All in all, those where the only low points I can really make.  And they really aren't that low, to be honest.  The high points certainly outweigh the low.  First of all is the quality of instruction from Santos.  With the exception of some of his terms as I mentioned, he is an excellent teacher and explains his reasoning and methodology behind his process very well.  He not only explains what is important in his process, but why it is important.  You finish the DVD with enough confidence that you can take what he taught and do it yourself, or at least apply many of the principles in your own approach to painting.

Second, many instructional DVDs cover alla prima painting techniques.  There is no shortage of those.  But this is an excellent DVD for those of us still interested in the traditional, indirect approach of working a painting up in layers.  Above all, it teaches you the art of slowing down and treating your painting with reverence and care.  It teaches you to not take even the little mistakes for granted.  If you see a mistake, go back and re-work it until it is correct.  Don't settle for "That's good enough."  This is a DVD about the discipline of painting.

What I really loved most of all about this DVD is how genuine and honest Cesar Santos was throughout his demonstration, both with himself and with the viewer.  He never once pretended that he was flawless in his painting.  He made mistakes during his demo!  And he had the honesty to point out his mistakes, and then go back in and correct them.  In addition, he described and explained to us a clean-cut approach and process.  However, once again he was honest enough to show us that it's not always that simple or clean.  The process is messy, and sometimes you will find yourself in the latter stages of the painting, and you'll have to go back to an earlier stage in order to make corrections or refinements.  He absolutely did not settle for "good enough".  If something needed refinement, he worked on it until it was simply "good."  And he encouraged us to do the same in our own painting, and avoid taking the easy way out, lest we "cheat ourselves."

I could go on and on, but these are some of the main points I got out of the DVD, and overall I would give it 4.9 out of 5 stars, and would highly recommend it to anyone wanting to invest in the pursuit of excellent, high realist portrait painting techniques.  God bless, Happy New Year, and happy painting!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

NOAPS Online International Exhibition Results

Hi friends,

Today I am so thankful and humbled to hear that of my three entries to the NOAPS Online International Exhibition, my painting The Blood of the Martyrs was accepted as a finalist!  To the Lord God be the glory!

Here is the official letter:

Dear Ryan Delgado:
Thank you for entering the 2015 Fall National Oil & Acrylic Painters’ Society (NOAPS) INTERNATIONAL ON-LINE Exhibition. The participation and quality of work submitted was excellent. NOAPS is pleased to inform you that your entry has been selected for the exhibit. The jurors had a very difficult job of selecting 150 paintings from the over 700 paintings entered.
Many of the paintings entered were EXCEPTIONAL and you can feel very proud and honored to have your work: The Blood of the Martyrs, Oil on canvas, 2014, accepted.
Your paintings will be proudly displayed on the NOAPS website:

As I've mentioned before, joining the National Oil and Acrylic Painters Society was already a big step for me, and it took me a year before I thought I was ready to do so.  And even when I did, I still wasn't sure I was good enough.  But now to have this acceptance to my first national competition, I am so thankful and looking forward to the Best of America Exhibition in the coming year.

The Blood of the Martyrs is my dedication to all the brothers and sisters in Christ - men, women, and children all over the world - who refused to deny the name of Jesus even in the face of their own persecution and death.  In Christ, they may lose their lives, but will gain eternity (Philippians 1:21).  They are the blessed disciples who truly understand they have nothing to lose in death.  And so they go willingly, sometimes with the name of Jesus literally and joyfully on their tongues and in their last breath just before they are executed.  There truly is joy in our suffering (Romans 5: 1-3).

"If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.  For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it."
~Matthew 16: 24-25

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

All Things New

He will wipe every tear from their eyes.
There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.
He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!"

It's amazing how powerful mere words can be.  They can feed your soul, or they can shatter you to the point of harming yourself.  If the words of man can cause such damage, think of the healing power found in the words of the Almighty.  Words such as,

Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you. (Hebrews 13:6)

Because I live, you also will live. (John 14:19)

She is worth far more than rubies (Proverbs 31:10)

I wish I could say to every young soul who ever felt so worthless as to hurt herself what she is truly worth in the eyes of her Creator.  The One who knew her name long before He breathed the universe into existence.  That she is worth more than rubies.  She is worth more than she could ever imagine.

She is simply worth more than words can say.  She is worth the life of God's Son.

All Things New (Revelation 21: 4-5)
oil on linen
36x24 inches

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Every Knee Will Bow

Hi friends,

Today I finished up the latest piece for my God-Breathed series, and after about 3 weeks of work, I'm happy to reveal the results.  This one's called "Every Knee."

Every Knee (Philippians 2: 5-11)
oil on canvas
40x30 inches
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 
but made Himself nothing, 
taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled Himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross!
Therefore, God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name above every name, 
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and under the earth, 
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Every single one of us will face our day of judgment before God.  It is certain that whether we believe in Jesus as Lord or not, we will ALL ultimately bow and confess that He is Lord (Isaiah 45:23, Romans 14:11).  Not a single one of us knows when it will happen.  We don't know when that day will come, but all I know is that I want to be ready.  I want to be able to stand before God with the comfort of knowing that Jesus owns me, and He was Lord of my life on earth, as He will be Lord of my eternal life in heaven.

That is a reality we can all have, simply by confessing we cannot live without Him, and that we need Him every hour.  The pride of living for ourselves is a small price to pay for an eternal life in Paradise.

Thank you, Jesus.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

News from the Studio 12/2/15

Greetings friends, in the name of Christ.

It's about time for some updates from El Estudio Delgado.  So here we go:

I am still working on this series that I'm calling "God Breathed".  I haven't decided on how many pieces I will do, but I'm currently working on the 8th in the series to be titled Every Knee.  This is the largest of them all, and I'm working in the traditional manner of building up color in layers of glazing and scumbling.  So it will be a while before it's finished, but in the meantime, I'm working through a few other ideas and deciding how I want to go about work on the next one.  Here is the latest in-progress picture of the current one:

As I announced earlier, I am a new member of the National Oil and Acrylic Painters' Society, and I recently went ahead and took my first leap as a member by entering the latest Online International Competition.  Basically, it's a completely virtual exhibition, and I entered 3 paintings (well, digital pictures of my paintings).  I will be finding out later this month if any of my pieces made the final cut, which would be an honor in itself.  One of the paintings I entered is my favorite out of the "Convicted" series, called More Than This.

More Than This
oil on panel
10x8 inches
For those interested in seeing my work in person, I am still showing as part of a group exhibition at Got Art Gallery in Lee's Summit for the Summit Art Winter Exhibition.  That show will be up through the rest of the year, and will be coming down January 3rd.  
I am also still showing at Jones Gallery in the Crossroads, in downtown Kansas City.  The next First Friday opening is coming up this week, December 4th from 5-9pm at the Gallery, 1717 Walnut.  

That's about all the news for now.  But check back again very soon for more!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Creative Process

Hi friends, and blessings to all in the name of Jesus.

Today, I wanted to share a bit about the process of creating a painting.  The things I do, some of which may seem a little odd and out of the ordinary, are all crucial for me.  The creative process has changed a lot over the years, and I'm going to try to explain it all as best as I can because it can be a bit of a messy, tedious process at times.  So here it goes...

1.  Prayer.  This is actually something I regretfully haven't incorporated into the process enough.  But my prayer before I begin a new project is that God be glorified.  And especially with this new series of paintings, I read through some Scripture, and typically go over certain passages that I hope can inspire new work.  Just as Scripture is God-breathed, I hope my work can be God-breathed as well.

2.  Thinking.  This is the part that even some artists don't get.  And those who aren't artists may even be critical of it.  But there are days as an artist where all I do is think.  And the criticism comes from those who might believe this is code for "doing nothing."  But consider Leonardo Da Vinci.  The most efficient thing he ever did was think.  And for him, as for me, the act of thinking includes reading and writing (as I'm doing right now).  Some of my favorite parts of Da Vinci's notebooks have nothing to do with art, but are his whimsical thoughts, anecdotes, and bits of philosophy that he wrote down.  Some of them seem so random that you just know they came to him out of nowhere, and he just wrote them down before it could leave his mind.  I think a lot of artists underrate the importance of simply thinking about their work.  Another way to put it - the conception of the painting.  That's typically what I'm thinking about.  Visualizing and conceiving the image.  9.9 times out of 10, the finished painting will look different than my initial conception of it.  But the thinking part serves as a major step in creating an idea of what I want to accomplish with a painting.  The artist must think visually!

3.  Drawing studies.  So after I'm done thinking, it's to the drawing board I go.  Literally.  I will do at least one drawing study of the main figure in the painting.  Occasionally I will do a couple of studies, and even do some color studies in oil before getting to the actual painting.  I don't typically have live models at my disposal (sadly).  So I often research reference photos specifically made for artists, or use my own.  The point of this exercise is to familiarize myself with the particular pose of the figure before I put it down on canvas.  To iron out some of the problems I will inevitably face in the painting.  This is not the point to get crazy with creative license.  I will usually draw the figure verbatim as I see it in the reference photo or from the model if I have one (which again, isn't often).  At times, if I know exactly what I want to do with the painting composition, I will incorporate some of the "other things" in the drawing outside of just the figure pose.  For instance, here is my most recent study for a painting I will be working on soon:

It wasn't that important for me to draw the figure completely, but mainly the important areas that I know will be important to the painting.  Much of the figure was in shadow anyway.

4.  Underpainting.  Once I'm finished with the initial studies, it's time to start painting.  At this point I've already decided the size of the painting (that's part of stage 2).  So I will either use a pre-made canvas or I'll stretch my own to size, and then begins the underpainting.  This is basically what I refer to as a drawing with paint.  I use only one color, typically raw umber or burnt umber.  I tone the surface of the canvas with a thin, oily transparent layer of umber, and then go about what's called a reductive drawing.  This is where I apply dark passages of umber for the shadow shapes, and then wipe out areas of the toned canvas with a rag for the light shapes.  It isn't always a perfectly finished, fine-tuned drawing.  But it doesn't necessarily have to be.  The point is to create a map for where color will go.  It takes usually about 24 hours for the underpainting to dry well enough to begin painting over it.

5.  First layer of color.  Sometimes is may be the only layer of color I apply.  This of course is called the alla prima approach, or wet-on-wet, meaning that all of the color you apply to the painting is done at once and usually in one painting session.  Other times, I will have the patience to apply multiple layers of color over a few days.  This is the traditional approach to oil painting.  And it's one that I really love.  But again, it's not the approach for the impatient.

6.  Additional layers of color.  So if I decide that I don't want to do the painting alla prima, then I'll apply layers individually over a few days.  And if this is the case, then after the underpainting is dry I start with a simple layer of color consisting only of Williamsburg Brown Pink, Titanium White or Flake White, and Raw Umber.  This combination makes for a great initial layer of flesh tone.  And there have been paintings that I've completed with only this palette.  But it's a great way to start with flesh color, no matter the complexion of the figure.  One example of a painting where I stopped with just this palette is my master copy of Velazquez' self-portrait:

So you see, sometimes it's not necessary to get too caught up with color.  This was the perfect limited palette for this painting, as Velazquez was all about brown, gray, and black.  Which is basically what you get with raw umber, white, and brown pink (or burnt sienna).  But if additional color is necessary, then I simply let this limited palette layer dry before moving on to the next layer of color, which is the main color layer.  This is where I apply as much of the local color that my eyes can perceive.  So all the reds, blues, greens, etc.  And I will take it to the best finish I can.  Then, let it dry and apply the final stage if necessary - glazes.  These are the really thin, subtle, transparent passages of color.  They're kind of like the filters on Instagram, if you will.  They give a particular glow and life to the painting, and honestly make the figure look more lifelike.  After all, skin itself is made up of a series of translucent layers, so the glazes help to create that illusion of flesh.  And of course, no matter which painting approach I take, the final touches are the highlights.  I apply the highlights in each stage of painting, but as new layers are applied, the highlights need to be re-applied to make sure they are the brightest points.

7.  Final varnish.  This stage comes a few months after the finished painting as dried.  Unless it's a commission that someone just needs immediately (which, to my vexation is usually the case).  But that last part of applying the varnish is one of the most important pieces to the conservation of the painting.  It's sort of the immune system for a painting, as it protects the overall heath of it from the elements.  Seriously, if you want to commission a painter to make a picture for you, my word of advice is whenever possible to commission them about 6 months to a year in advance of when you actually want/need the finished painting.  Because as you can see, there is a lot that goes into creating the picture.

These are not necessarily the exact same steps that every artist takes in the creation of their work.  But I assure you, no matter the artist, there is a LOT more that goes into a painting than simply going to the studio, slapping some paint on a palette, and making a pretty picture.  Think about the masterpiece that you are.  That God so carefully and reverently took His time to knit you together.  It takes 9 months for a human being to grow just enough in the womb to be ready to join the world.  And even before that, God had His conception of you.  Creation takes time.  It takes intention.  And it takes the love of the creator to put in the necessary amount of work to create what is, in his eyes, a masterpiece.

The Blind Will See (John 9:39)
oil on linen
20x16 inches

Agnus Dei (Isaiah 53)
oil on linen
28x22 inches

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Secret Place

For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother's womb.  I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place.  When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, Your eyes saw my unformed body.  All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.  ~Psalm 139: 13-16

The very moment God thought of me.  That's when life began.

The Secret Place
oil on canvas
24x20 inches

Why do we burden the unborn with the battle between life and death?  Between good and evil?  How could we stifle God's purpose for these souls before they ever have a chance to even know it, let alone fulfill it?  Why do we believe that our hands and our wills mightier than those of the Almighty God?  How could we ever know anything about the quality of life more than the One who breathed life into existence?

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015


This is the latest in my new series "God-Breathed."  It's called Fleeting, after Proverbs 31:30...

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

oil on canvas
30x20 inches
I have been involved with youth ministry for 11 years, both professionally and on volunteer basis.  And in all that time, one thing has remained the same even in the evolution of social media that has taken place in the past decade.  I'm talking about vanity.  The preoccupation with physical looks, selfies, body image, and its association with self-worth is insane.  It's no news flash that this is particularly true for girls.  And not just adolescent girls.  So for this painting, I wanted to have a representation of a figure trapped in darkness - someone consumed by this preoccupation with physical beauty (My sincere thanks to nemosocke of DeviantArt and Nadja M. for the extraordinary photo reference).

There has recently been a movement of girls and women of all ages that goes back to this passage of Scripture in Proverbs 31.  It is the attitude that the worth of women are defined by so much more than their physical attributes, but by their hearts, their devotion to the Lord, and the fact that they are the Imago Dei.  No matter how physically attractive any of us thinks we are, and no matter how much time and effort we spend trying to maintain that... It is all vanity because it will fade away, but our faith sustains us no matter what our age or physical appearance.  That cannot be a back-burner priority for us.  True beauty begins within the depths of the heart.

Take as many selfies as you want.  But you can't take any of them with you in the afterlife.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

God-Breathed: A New Series

Greetings friends,

Today, I finished a new piece that is part of a new series I've decided to do.  I'm calling it "God-Breathed", and it includes two pieces that you've already seen - To Live is Christ, To Die is Gain and Wake the Dead.  This new one is called Heavy Laden.

Heavy Laden
oil on canvas
36x24 inches
So, the idea behind this series is to show themes that are directly inspired by some of my favorite passages of Scripture.  I'm also trying some new, bolder techniques with paint texture and abstraction.  I've been inspired by some other painters and pieces recently, and I'm hoping these new works of mine will take the viewer to a different place and a different atmosphere than many of my previous works have before.

One thing you will notice with each of the paintings in this series is a literal, visual play between black and white - the Light and the Dark.  Good, and Evil.  The Holy Spirit, and Satan.  In the Gospel, there is always this spiritual battle.  And the good news of it all is that we are victorious over sin and death by the love, grace, and power of Jesus Christ who has defeated evil and given eternal life to those who confess Him as Lord and Savior.  Though we die, we live again.  We are burdened, but He gives us rest.

Some of the themes of this series involve a few in-your-face issues of our time - Christian persecution, sin and indifference, burdened lives, vanity, the value of human life, and others.  So with that, I'm trying to conceive some bold imagery in these pieces.  Not necessarily to just paint a pretty, comfortable picture.  My hope is to not hold back.  To present the truth of the Gospel in visual form (as I've always tried to) in a way that honors God through the gifts with which He has graced me.

Hope you will stay tuned for more to come in this series.  I'm excited for all that is to come!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

New Beginnings with NOAPS

Hi friends!

I wanted to take a second to make a special announcement - one I am very excited about.  After about a year of contemplating and praying over it, I decided to take the next step in my career towards national status as a professional artist, and I've joined the National Oil and Acrylic Painters' Society.

I am very excited, and hopeful that this was a good step for me, and that the timing is right.  I am looking forward to being a part of this organization with some of the best artists in the country.  I appreciate every bit of encouragement that my family, friends, and fellow artists have given me that has led me to this point in my career.  And I covet your continued prayers and encouragement in this next year.

Stay tuned for more!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

To Live is Christ, To Die is Gain (retouched version)

Today, I put the finishing (re)touches on a painting from last year called "To Live is Christ, To Die is Gain."  Lord Jesus, in this broken world of violence and hatred against your people, may it speak loudly in Your mighty name.

Here are some Before shots of its progress, and the finished piece at the bottom:

Original version, October 2014.

New layer of dark color over background (Black + Indigo).

Applying liquid frisket over the original figure to mask it from additional background layers to be added.

Textured layer of Brown Pink + White.  After drying, another textured layer of Cold Black + White.

Finished piece after retouch.
Romans 1:16, 8:36
Philippians 1:20-21

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Wake the Dead

Hi friends...

This is the latest piece from me, and its inspiration comes out of Ephesians 5:14.

Wake up, O sleeper, 
rise from the dead, 
and Christ will shine on you.

I am often thinking about the state of this world... and how discouraging it is to see sinners so content with sin.  I see it on Facebook all the time.  I guarantee that if I wasn't so dependent on Facebook for promoting my work, I would spend about 90% less time on it.  Just to avoid seeing the depravity, and the people who defend it.  It seems like everyday I'm on the social media, I end up asking the inevitable, "When will people WAKE UP??"  When will we stop being "tolerant" of sin?

Wake the Dead (Ephesians 5:14)
oil on canvas
24x36 inches

So this painting is simply about the battle between the darkness of sin, and the light of Christ in the world.  The darkness blinds us and it keeps our eyes closed.  It causes us to look away with apathy.  It hardens us until we are callous and dead.  And worse yet, it twists our hearts into actually approving of sin.

The light of Christ drives the darkness away.  It softens our hearts and opens our eyes.  The hope is that we see both the evil of this world, and the moments in which good triumphs over evil.

That we see the genocide of Christians in the Middle East at the hands of Islamic evil, and the hope of stories like Youcef Nadarkhani, an Iranian Christian pastor set free from his death sentence for apostasy a few years ago.

That we see the cowardice of an angry mob hellbent on murdering police officers, and the citizens coming to the defense of those officers, and honoring those that have fallen with dignity and respect.

That we see the twisted and macabre practice of a government-funded organization that not only murders unborn human beings, but then also sells them for parts.  And the stories of former abortionists that turned away from their career to turn towards Jesus for forgiveness.

That we see the alarming suicide rate among teenagers, but also see those saved by Christ from committing suicide by something as simple as a song sent to them in a text message.

The hope is that we see all of this rather than burying it beneath our selfies.

Friday, August 28, 2015

News from the Studio 8/28/15

Hi friends, here's the latest from the studio:

Well, since my last update from the studio, I have completed the Convicted series, and I am really excited to post all 20 of those paintings as I get the final varnish on them.  It's a somewhat slow process to wait for them all to be ready for varnishing, but so far I have posted 12 on Facebook, and here is an exclusive look at those first 12 all together:

It'll be another couple of months before I get all 20 posted, but please check out my Facebook page to see each piece as I post them.

Last weekend, I was at the Raytown Artists Association Invitational show in Raytown, MO.  Abbey's portrait got an honorable mention, but other than that it was a quiet show for me.  Some good stuff, and it was nice to see one of my artist friends win the ol' Best of Show.

I am still showing at Jones Gallery in the Crossroads Arts District in Downtown KC.  Most of my best work is hanging there, and has been since May.  I encourage everyone in the KC area to go check it out on the next First Friday, September 4th.  The gallery opens at around 6:00pm and goes until around 10:00ish or later.  Always a fun time down there!  Please stop by and say hello (and better yet, make it a great birthday weekend for me by buying one of my paintings!)  Here is a little glimpse of my show at Jones Gallery:

So, in between Raytown and the Crossroads, I've been working on other pieces.  I recently finished a 40x30 inch monster of a nature painting.  And actually, it isn't even finished yet because I still have a few glazes to add to it.  I started the painting in February, and it's taken me 6 months to finally bring it to a finish.  Of course, I had the Convicted series in there, which kept me plenty busy between March and July.  But here are a few progression shots of the giant nature painting, which I have yet to title.  These were taken sometime between February and August:

I did three oil studies on paper, and this was the main one I used.  

The very first layer on the first day of painting on the canvas.
Some months after that, I returned to the painting with the next layer of foliage.

And another layer...

Finally getting to some details.  Fallen branches and such.  And the start of fallen leaves on the ground.

Several leaves later, I started on the rocks and stream.

One of the last details I was looking forward to painting after 6 long months was this little waterfall.

Once the final glazes are applied, I will post the official finished picture of the piece.  But it looks great, and I cannot wait to put it in a show!

So the other day, I was looking at a painting I did last year called "To Live is Christ, To Die is Gain."  It was calling to me to improve it.  Here is the painting as it was finished in October last year:

Not bad, but like I said I want to improve it some.  So I've been working on a revamp of this painting, particularly the background.  So I painted over it with black and indigo - two of the original colors I used.

Today, I went over part of the figure with a liquid frisket to mask it for the new background application that I'll be doing.  I also put down a little color using Williamsburg Brown Pink and Titanium White.

That's as far as I've gotten so far.  I'll be adding additional layers of color after the brown pink dries.  And then adding the text of Scripture.

That's all the news for now.  I am working on a brand new painting, and I'll be posting a whole blog update dedicated to that one later.  Thanks to everyone for the support and your admiration of my work!  Stay tuned for more later!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

News coming soon!

Hi friends,
I've been once again neglecting the ol' blog here.  Sorry if you've been looking for an update.  I'll have one coming very soon.

But for now, I will just say that the Raytown Artists Association Invitational Show is coming up this very weekend, Friday and Saturday August 21-22, at St. Paul's Church of the Nazarene in Kansas City (8500 E. 81st Terr.) and I will be showing three paintings, including previous award-winner from Blue Springs, the one and the only Abbey (who is heading off to college in the next week).  Hopefully we can win another award as a last hurrah for her before she leaves!

And my show at Jones Gallery is still going in the Crossroads every First Friday, if you would like to come out and see it!  I've swapped out a few pieces since my May opening, so please come and check them out!

Okay, I'll have an actual update from the studio very soon, so stay with me!  Peace out.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Live Streaming Demonstration part 2, 6/18/15

I am in the studio today and streaming live starting at 1:00pm CDT!  The goal for today is to finish up the painting that I started in last week's live stream.  Tune in, and enjoy!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Live Streaming Demonstration, part 2

This Thursday will be part 2 of this painting:

And, of course I will also be streaming live from the studio once again as I finish painting it.  Hope you all can tune in!  If you are unable to watch the live stream, the video will be uploaded to YouTube for you to check out later.

Part 2 will begin at 1:00pm CDT this Thursday, June 18th.  And this time I promise I'll remember to put the live stream here on my blog.  You may also watch it live on my YouTube channel via this link:

And before you do watch this week, be sure to check out part 1 from last week.  You can check it out on my previous blog post.  See you all this Thursday!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Live Stream Demo 6/11/15

Hi friends!

My apologies.. I know I said I would embed the live stream from here on my blog, and I totally forgot to do that.  But hope you followed the link directly to YouTube to watch it!

If you missed it, here it is for you to watch right now!  Hope you enjoy!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Live Streaming Demonstration, 6/11/15

I just wanted to make a quick post to announce my first live streaming event happening this Thursday, June 11th at 2:00pm!

I invite you to join me in my studio as I do Part 1 of a new painting for my current series "Convicted."  Tune in to my YouTube channel from the comfort of your home on your computer or device, and watch me paint the first stage of a new piece.  I will be scheduling Part 2 very soon, to be broadcast sometime next week.  So be sure to stay tuned for that announcement as well.

You may watch the live stream from YouTube, and I will also have it posted here on the blog.  Oh yeah, and it's free.  Here is the YouTube link where you can tune in on June 11th:

Hope you will join me!

Monday, June 1, 2015

News from the Studio 6/1/15

Hi there friends!  Got some more news coming to you directly from the studio:

May was a pretty exciting month for me, and it started on the very first day with my first ever First Friday show in the Crossroads Arts District in downtown Kansas City at David Jones Gallery at 17th/18th and Walnut.  Such an awesome show, and I made a really awesome sale.  Definitely some encouragement!

**And some good breaking news this week!  You have a chance to see the show at Jones Gallery for June First Friday as well, as I got a very nice extension from David.  So it'll be up for another month, and I will be there this Friday, June 5th from 6-9pm.  My work will be moved to the upstairs gallery to make room for Michael Coleman, a painter currently based in New Mexico, but originally from KC.  And his work is pretty amazing from what I've seen on his Facebook page.  Definitely don't want to miss that!  But here's a small sample of my May show, and some work you can still see at Jones Gallery this month:

Of course, the one that won't be there is the big one in the middle, called "The Wanderer."  She will be in her new home by then.  

Moving right along, I am currently working on my "Convicted" series, and I've posted the first 4 paintings on Facebook.  I am planning for 20 altogether, and I'm getting ready to start #12 pretty soon.  Here are the first 4 in the series:

No More (Ezekiel 45:9)
oil on panel
10x8 inches
Graven Image (Exodus 20: 4-6)
oil on panel
10x8 inches
Neighbor (Luke 10:29-37, Romans 12:19-21, 13:10)
oil on panel
10x8 inches
When Pride Comes (Proverbs 11:2, Galatians 6:4-5)
oil on panel
10x8 inches
 I am planning on posting #5 and #6 sometime next week.  Their titles are "More Than This" and "By the Sword", respectively.

The month of May also had a very fun Fourth Friday in downtown Lee's Summit.  I had the opportunity to show some work and do a live painting demonstration at Red Door Wine Store.  I haven't done too many live painting demos before, and this was certainly the most lively in terms of the onlookers.  Total blast, I have to admit.  I have a very reserved personality, a very un-loud voice, and I don't drink.  You'd think I'd be completely out of place at a very lively wine establishment.  But believe it or not, I really enjoy painting in front of an audience.  I enjoyed the discussions and questions people had.  There were surprisingly some very very interested folks.  Not just in oil painting, but in art overall.  And in keeping with the theme of wine, I decided to do a master copy of Velázquez' Bacchus from his painting "The Triumph of Bacchus" (aka, "Los Borrachos").  It was a pretty tough challenge, but here's what I came up with:

The work-in-progress after my 3-hour demo at Red Door Wine Store, May 22, 2015.

Finished piece.  Bacchus, after Velázquez
oil on canvas
12x9 inches
So, that brings us to June 2015... already!  As I said, my show at Jones Gallery continues this month with First Friday, June 5th.  Hope you all can come out and see the show (again)!  Jones Gallery is located at 1717 Walnut in downtown KC.

If you would be interested in seeing me do some more live painting, I will also be participating in June Fourth Friday's Plein Air Paint Out event in downtown Lee's Summit.  The date for that is June 26th, from 5-8pm.  Artists from all over the area, including yours truly, will be setting up their easels throughout the downtown Lee's Summit area and painting en plein air, which basically means "outside."  If you want to find me and say hello, I am planning on setting up at 2nd and Douglas to paint the old building of my church, Lee's Summit United Methodist.

There's a lot more I am looking forward to doing this summer.  And one of the things I'm looking forward to has to do with getting more active with some video/YouTube and/or possibly live streaming from the studio.  More to come on that later.  But in any case, let's hope for a great summer of art!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Live Painting Events

Hi friends!

I just wanted to pass along some info about a couple of opportunities to see me do some live painting.

The first is coming up this Friday, May 22, for Fourth Fridays in Downtown Lee's Summit.  I will be at Red Door Wine from 5-8pm with some work on display and I will be doing a live painting demo as well.  This is for one night only, so I hope those of you in the Kansas City area not going to the Royals/Cards game will stop by and check it out!

The second event is actually going to be next month's Fourth Friday in Downtown Lee's Summit.  On June 26th from 5-8pm, I will be participating in a Plein Air Paint Out.  As you walk around and check out all the art on display in the various downtown LS businesses, you'll notice there will be many artists outside painting.  I will be one of them!  I've already picked out my spot at 2nd and Douglas, where I will be painting the old building of my church, Lee's Summit United Methodist, aka The Summit.  So I hope you'll stop by and say hello if you're out and about for Fourth Friday that night!

Hope you will join me for these two Fourth Fridays!  More to come later!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

A Warm Welcome at the Crossroads

Greetings friends,

The past couple of weeks have been pretty incredible, and I wanted to share a little bit about it.

Well, first of all, for the past couple of months I've been feeling extremely frustrated, and it felt like I was hitting a pretty hard slump.  Harder than I had before.  Commissions had not been happening.  Sales had not been happening.  And a workshop that I had scheduled in April did not happen.  I won't even get into that one.  But I have to say, when things start getting difficult like that, then usually painting doesn't happen either.  Call it a character flaw in me if you will, but any sense of morale and motivation in me falls flat on its face, and I start to wonder what I'm doing wrong.

But no matter how difficult it gets - even in this circumstance - let's just say I have experience in handing things over to God when I can no longer handle them myself.  Prayer works and miracles do in fact abound.

Last week, I got a tip that a gentleman in the Lee's Summit area was looking for an artist to commission for a special project.  And thanks to Teresa, Got Art Gallery's director, I was able to accept the commission, and it's been a joy working on it.  It can be a cliched thing to talk about God's timing, but the commission could not have come and a more perfect time.  I am thankful for every commission, but this one was certainly a special one.
In addition to this one, I may be accepting another commission soon from a lady who has seen my work online.  I hope so.  But again, the question of how and why God places these people in my life at the right place at just the right time is a mystery to me.  But it's a mystery I embrace.

As wonderful as these two commission opportunities have been (just in the past week), I would have to say that last night's First Friday show for me was what put it over the top.  Words like "blessing," "miracle," and "thank you" completely fell short of what I would express to God.  Last night was the opening for my very first First Friday show at Jones Gallery in the Crossroads art district in downtown Kansas City.  It was a great experience to see so many people coming through that gallery.  Seeing friends, shaking hands, saying lots of "thank yous", and forgetting so many names of a lot of friendly people.  That is my typical experience at an art show opening.  But what isn't typical is selling a painting.  But by the grace of God, a gentleman who had been there all night paid the greatest compliment to me that an artist can get.  He loved a painting of mine so much that he decided he needed to have it for himself.  One of my favorite pieces that I've completed to date called "The Wanderer" sold, and I couldn't be more blown away by it.

The Wanderer
oil on canvas

I'm not one for boasting.. I shy away from it, and I don't mean to make this blog one giant boast-fest.  But there is one thing I will boast about without an ounce of shame, and that is what the Lord has done in and through me.  This isn't about getting a great commission or selling a big painting.  I want God to be known through what I do as an artist.  Whether that means painting a picture that shows the Gospel, or sharing how God has worked through my experience as a professional artist.  Things are great now, sure.  But that won't last forever.  I'm going to get frustrated again.  I will hit slumps again.  There will be times when things just don't work out for me again.  But God is not changing.  He will be just as good and faithful in working in my life in those moments as He is right now.  The best part of failing is having a moment when God shows you that you can succeed.  When the work pays off.  And getting over the fear of the unknown and unexpected.  Because those moments of blessing can be just as unexpected.

More to come later, friends!

Thursday, April 16, 2015


Several months ago, I got this idea for a new painting project as I was browsing online.  By means I can't recall, I found myself looking through a gallery of quite humorous mugshots.  While I was scrolling through these rather amusing faces, I couldn't help but think what great paintings some of them would make.

I've always loved doing portraits of people with expressive faces.  It doesn't matter whether it's happy, sad, or angry.  As long as it shows personality.  I love facial expressions that remind us of people in our own families, or our friends, or other acquaintances.  I love how a certain facial expression can stir up our emotions.  And depending on the face, a mugshot can be a great example of those expressive qualities.

How amazing is it that we can sense a very particular mood or emotion simply by looking at a picture of a facial expression?  We can just know what the person is thinking or feeling in that moment by the way their brow furrows, by how their eyes look, or by the way they've positioned their mouth.

I have to admit, this series started out as an idea for something kind of amusing.  It was just going to be something lighthearted where I'd use mugshots as the portrait references against some kind of fun, juxtaposed background.  But something just wasn't right about it.  Honestly, I almost scrapped the whole mugshot idea altogether.  I thought it was beneath me and my purpose as an artist.  It may have been entertaining for a while, but would have gotten old quickly.  But most of all, God would have no glory in it.

So then it hit me... What if I took this in a whole different direction?  Is it possible to see these individuals with the same eyes that God sees them?  They are perhaps at their lowest point in life, and I certainly don't condone the crimes they've been charged with... Especially if a victim is directly involved.  Guilty or not, they are in a place where their lives have been tarnished by something.  They have sinned.  And I believe that God has a message for each and every one of them.

I believe, in the words of my pastor, that God loves us just as we are, but He never intends for us to remain just as we are.  Some of the subjects I've chosen for this series have been charged with some serious offenses... from assault to drug trafficking, and from prostitution to first degree murder.  The challenge for me personally with this series is simply this:  Can I see them as God sees them?  If they are guilty of victimizing another person, can I sincerely pray for them to be transformed by God?  It's so easy to look at their faces and read the charges they've been brought up on, and to decide at that point what I think of them.  But what would God say to them if they were standing face to face with Him?

I know only three things about each of these individuals:  The crimes they've been charged with, what their mugshots look like, and the fact that they are all the works of God's hand.  I believe a drug addict can be convicted and transformed by God because I know one personally that has.  I believe a prostitute can be convicted and transformed by God because I've heard testimony by those that have.  I believe a murderer can be convicted and transformed by God because I've read about those that have.

Perhaps we're all familiar with such a testimony of someone who was once lost, and then was found.  Each painting in this series is the "before" of what may one day, God willing, become an "after."  But I make no attempt at sugarcoating their charges, or making their faces prettier.  In some cases, the realism of the series presents itself as, quite literally, the ugly truth.  Some will be a little funny, a little sad, or perhaps a little scary.  I'm hoping that they will evoke different feelings for you, the viewer.  You may be angered by some.  You may feel empathy for others.  You may pity others.

My hope for every painting in the series is that they may be visual prayers for the subjects, their victims if there were any, and for God's complete transformation in their lives.  Prayers that they may one day be profoundly convicted.