Archive for the ‘painting’ Category

Trompe L’oeil ornament

Monday, December 28th, 2009

I started posting last week because I actually had some new images of painting, but I got caught up in posting my personal travel pictures instead and almost forgot to throw in the work stuff.



This is a kitchen hood I painted for Studio One on Reisterstown Road. It is painted in the style of Habersham, (of which I am not much of an admirer, as I find the work lumpy and uncertain, as if they are trying to hide an imperfect understanding of classical form), but that’s what the client wanted, so who am I to snark except in the privacy of my own blog?

More on those columns

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

I went back to the synagogue for a couple of hours yesterday and finished up. I had some touchups where I had scuffed off some blobs in the underpainting, so I decided to add some veining. I think they add something for the distant view and in the photographs, but up close they are not particularly necessary.

I also went inside and took pictures of the work Willy and I did inside at the end of ‘07.

Still Puttering

Sunday, April 19th, 2009

A little more work to do. I’ve developed the third character and he turned out to be a dwarf of all things! I think this is a scene from Rigoletto. Who knew that was floating around in my subconscious?

I refined the faces, added highlights to the columns, and changed the drapery. After several layers of glazing various items, everything was feeling brown, so it needed a blue counterpoint. The fabric was not draping very well, so I got out my Graham Rust book The Painted House, to find some examples. This works better on both counts. 

I think I will varnish it and glaze the perimeter darker one more time. Also, Sue and I were discussing a cheetah on a leash in front of the railing. We’re already over the top, so why not keep going?

That’s what it needed.

Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

I have been stewing over my mural.

Technically it has been going pretty well, the figures are developing, the forms and colors are pretty well balanced, but more and more I have felt unsatisfied. There is no drama, no action or story, no dynamic tension between the characters. Yesterday it hit me: It needs a third character. 

Most design relies on the triangle. In space planning and home decorating it is efficient for movement. Consider the ideal kitchen balanced from sink to stove to refrigerator. In aesthetics it is used to create visual movement and tension. You want the eye to flit from focal point to focal point in a pattern that opens up the image and covers more ground than just back and forth between two objects. In storytelling a third person expands the possible interactions from two to six: not just what I think of you and what you think of me, but also what you and I think of her, and what she thinks of you or me, so the complexity and hence the interest expands rapidly. 

In a storytelling image, the triangle fills both needs, expanding the possibilities of the story, and helping the viewer’s eye to keep moving from point to point. In this instance, I also need something more dynamic. Both of my figures are passive, so I need some action. I sketched for an hour or so this afternoon.

Next I have to make some decisions regarding this character. I want him a bit creepy and unwelcome. Creepy clown? Creepy Old Bald Guy? Creepy old bald guy in a clown costume? I have to think about color too.

Now I’ve done it.

Monday, March 30th, 2009

I finally finished most of the general field inpainting on my mural and have spent the last couple of days on selective refinements: I changed the perspective on the balustrade just a little since I had a few comments from friends to indicate confusion on that, and hardened the shadows on them at the same time. I am happier with the troubadour having tackled his features and hands more aggressively. I still have to work on her features though – they are way too weak and pallid.

Today I finally got around to my long anticipated reglazing of the balustrade drapery, and I think I may have overdone it. I like how dramatic it has become, but the rest of the painting now feels vapid by comparison. I now have to punch up the shadows on everything else to bring it into balance. In the end, this will give me the dark renaissance moodiness I am hoping for, but I wonder how much will have to be pretty well repainted to get there.

He seems worried about it.

BUY THIS MURAL – Day whatever.

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

I have been getting back to the mural now and again, and missing several days in between, but this week had had some time on it while working on a silver leafed chair in the studio – lots of drying time in between steps on that – and have made some progress.

I am almost done with the local color inpainting, and have delayed the column capitals about as long as I can. Once I get those done, and the straps in the barrel vault, I have to work on refining the figures. The features are too bland and the hands are still clunky. The orange drapery in the foreground is just an underpainting. I think I will overglaze it with ultramarine blue. I liked what happened on the troubadour’s cap, and that will give me more contrast in the foreground. If I feel up to it, I might give it a damask pattern in all of the folds. I will also be glazing down the shadows considerably, since I want the thing to be much moodier than it is so far.

A trompe l’oeil medallion

Thursday, March 19th, 2009

We have spent the last week painting a condo in a highrise building in the Inner Harbor, and I have been so annoyed with how dismal, grey and cold the weather has been the whole time. I have been looking forward to spending lunch breaks on the waterfront and visiting my friend Glenn’s boat, The Mistress, where he lives in the marina outside the condo, but it has been blustery and yucky the whole time. I hate March. 


The project has been about half straight and half decorative painting, with us responsible for the undercoats to our blended sponge finish, and repainting the trim and ceiling to complete the paint package. All the walls are in a subtle beige sponge, which doesn’t photograph well, but maybe when the space is furnished I will try again. In the meantime, I have been working the last couple of days on this medallion in the vestibule. 

The sprinkler head is in an unfortunate place, and off center to boot, but nevertheless I am happy with the result.

I should have photographed the process, but did not take my camera to work yesterday. I started with a white octagon and pencilled in the circle to inpaint the beige background, then stencilled the medallion in quarters using a similar midtone beige. Shadows were painted in a darker brown latex, then the whole thing was glazed in a thin wash of raw umber artist’s oil paint in mineral spirits. Highlights were wiped back with a rag, then sharpened with titanium white oil and the shadows deepened with more raw umber oil. The frame is a blend of white and umber, glazed yesterday, then sharpened today with additional crisp striping. 







The best vantage point is from laying on the floor, but I am not sure how the clients will get their guests to properly enjoy it. maybe a great big divan sprawled in front of the door….

When I go back tomorrow to install the switchplates I might polish back those darkest shadows on the left side of the medallion. Since they are in oil they ought to still move a bit. Looking at photos allows one to be a bit more objective. Or, maybe the flash pushes the contrast a bit. I’ll see.


Tuesday, March 10th, 2009


Two years ago I had a floorcloth commission go south on me and I was left with a large canvas panel which I rolled up and stood in a corner. I have been bemoaning the thing for some time, and worried that the latex primer I had painted it with would grow hard and brittle as time passed in its rolled up state, so I finally pinned it up to the wall to see what I could make of it. After some flipping through books and an afternoon with the chalk, I sketched in the basic concept, based on some frescoes at Versailles. Hopefully the result will be a tour-de-force of the contemporary muralist’s art, evoking passion and catharsis at every viewing. Maybe. Or it could end up as a schlocky classical knock-off with limited artistic value, if any. 

Wait and see. Or, avoid the rush, and as e-bay says, Buy Now! Price is negotiable.


This is where we are as of today, 3-13-09. I’m having fun, anyway.

A Distressed Floor

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

Its a snowy blustery day today and the whole east coast stayed home, I think. I should make myself useful and post some pictures. 

This staircase leads to an odd little guest room above a garage.

The finish is crackled and scraped, then toned, drybrushed and overglazed to get a soft and consistent antiquing. It took altogether too much struggle to get what we wanted, but in the end everybody was happy with the result. Thanks to Jen Towne for her perseverance in pushing this through.

The trim is also crackled and in the powder room a faux encaustic pattern adds to the effect of the tiled walls.

A Stencilled Floor

Sunday, March 1st, 2009

In the spring of ‘08 we painted this beautiful empire style stencilled floor for Mary Drysdale.

artist Sue Crawford lays out the center medallion


We explored a variety of pattern elements and colors for the border as Mary coordinated the fabric choices with the paint selections. 

The diamond pattern of florettes in the center fields went through a number of color choices – first white, then yellow, and finally settling on a pale chartreuse. They are barely visible in these photos. I spent the entire project contemplating a quaint little design whimsy: as they are not quite symmetrical, stencil one repeat backwards as a tiny assault on taking such a grand floor too seriously. I chickened out, BUT on the last day we discovered we had missed one repeat, and I took that as an obvious sign from above. There are roughly 700 florettes and I dare anyone to notice the single sideways element.

artists Margaret Schroeder and Lynn Fuller touch up the leaf border

Substantially complete

The next step was to furnish the room with an assortment of painted and upholstered furniture. This table was custom built and painted to suit the room. Notice that it too goes through several permutations. 

Three versions are shown here, but I think it actually went through five variations. I like the grey/green/hint of yellow one the best. That’s why it is shown on our portfolio page.