Sunday, May 31, 2015

Honor Flight Salute - World War II Veteran

Honor Flight Salute - World War II
14 x 11
Oil on canvas panel


Continuing my "Salute" series I am featuring a World War II veteran.  When I asked him to pose for me with a salute he got this stern look on his face like he really meant business.  He was in a wheel chair with an American flag attached to the back of his chair.  I am sure there will be a larger painting of this guy with his flag.  I think both compositions are perfect for this series.  

This project started in my mind featuring only World War II veterans.  Then, as I visited the World War II memorial and saw the vets from other wars...from other times I realized that the feeling I wanted to convey and the pride for their country and what they had accomplished was timeless.  So I have broadened my "Salute" Series and I welcome veterans...old and young...I ask them to salute and I am amazed by the way their demeanor brightens.  

So I continue...

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Honor Flight Salute

"Honor Flight Salute"
12 x 12
Oil on Panel


If you have never been to the National Mall in Washington DC to witness an Honor Flight you are missing an amazing event.  Honor Flights make sure Veterans get the chance to see the monuments erected in their honor.  Veterans come from all over the country at no personal expense.  An Honor Flight is arranged and executed totally by volunteers.  Pilots volunteer their time, airlines volunteer their aircraft, thousands of volunteers make sure veterans from our wars get to see the monuments and are recognized for their service.  It is truly a sight to see.  The Veterans are so proud of their service...there are handshakes, thank you's, and a wonderfully emotionally driven feeling throughout the area.  I love seeing these vets, so proud, so happy.  

Along with the veterans at the World War II memorial there are a group of swing dancers that spend their time dancing and entertaining.  They dance and make sure every vet is given attention with a twirl around the monument...a kiss on the cheek...or a handshake. 

With that in mind and my quest to paint scenes from military life I decided to do a series of paintings based on salutes from these veterans visiting the memorials.  This is my first piece.  He is a Korean War veteran and was very happy to offer a salute for my cause.  

To find out more about Honor Flights, or to help out, you can visit  

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Making of "The Adjustment"

The Adjustment
16 x 20
Oil on Raymar Panel


I recently posted this little ballerina adjusting her straps before a performance.  While going over my notes I realized I had taken pictures of each stage of my painting process.  I don't paint all my paintings this way but I would say a majority of them begin very similarly.  

Here I picked out the support that I thought would best suit the composition.  I knew I wanted the arms, body and part of the legs to be in the painting.  I blocked in the approximate composition for placement purposes.  I couldn't resist putting some darks and lights on the arms and that wonderful shadow on her back indicating the shoulder blade.  

I wanted to play with the tutu next.  I blocked in the darks and lights here.  I tried to mix a color of paint...then lay it down and leave it.  I am just indicating folds.  

The hair block in was next.  Again, I just concentrated on laying down color and leaving it.  No blending or noodling with the paint.  Strong, bold brush strokes.  Notice on my final version of this painting the hair is exactly as it is now.  I didn't touch it after my block in of lights and darks.  

While working on each section I have been revisiting the arms and making sure they are placed properly and the hands tugging on the straps of her tutu.  I lightly indicated the legs here.  My decision was...should I try to make the tights fit her legs properly...or make them oversized and a bit wrinkled.  The challenge is to make them interesting without making them a focal point.  

You can see I decided to go with slightly wrinkled tights.  I adjusted the hands some more and made sure the straps were raised to emphasize the adjustment.  I wanted the background to be subtle so I use a complimentary gray/green.  I also added a bit more detail to the dress.  

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Adjustment - Ballerina adjusting her straps

The Adjustment
16 x 20
Oil on Raymar Panel


One of the reasons I love to paint ballerinas so much is because of the freedom painting tutu gives me.  I begin by laying in darks and letting the skirt take shape.  Once the darks are all in I lay the medium colors in...adjusting as I go.  I never try to exactly mimic the tutu I am looking at...I take artistic license to let the paint flow and form the skirt.  Once I get a good shape I add some highlights to show off the shape of the skirt.  

In this particular painting the girl was not really playing with her straps.  When I started painting I thought it would tell a good story.  I imagine a little girl just getting her outfit on ready for her recital.  She nervously adjusts her straps while walking towards the stage.  I love that her tights were loose and baggy.  

It was just a fun piece to paint.  

Thursday, May 7, 2015


This is a small 11 x 14 sketch of Kaitlyn.  She and her mom were kind enough to visit my studio and pose for me.  Stormy, Kaitlyn's mom, is in the Army...a 1st Sergeant.  I asked them to pose for my ongoing military life series.  Stormy brought her uniform so I could depict typical military scenes that were parts of my everyday life.  I expected Stormy to be easy to direct because she is a beauty pageant winner and very poised.  Kaitlyn was a delightful surprise.  She took direction well and has such thoughtful, soulful features.  I did this quick sketch to warm up for some larger pieces I am working on.