Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Paint-out with Dan Pinkham

My sketch of Ignat painting "Portuguese Bend".

This last Saturday, the California Art Club had it's first Mentor Member paint out, hosted by Dan Pinkham at his home and studio in Palos Verdes. I stayed at my pal, William Wray's place, and we drove up together. Also in attendance was Ignat Ignatov, Aaron Westerberg, Sergio Sanchez, Stan Prokopenko, Justine Carroll, Leonardo Lambaren, and Ann Lee (who snapped the photos).

I took the opportunity to do a number of sketches while everyone else painted. I posted my favorite sketch above... maybe I'll paint it? Dan Pinkham told us about his method of starting with a sketch, and writing why you want to select a particular view before painting it. It struck a chord in me, the heart of why I paint... to make a connection. What I bring of myself to the painting, and the landscape before me. Dan also made some technical pointers in his demo that will serve as tools to me in my own color mixing.

At Dan's Studio, he showed us boxes and boxes full of his plein-air paintings from the last several decades, all of which he's kept for himself and uses as reference to work up studio paintings. After the paint-out, we we did a critique of everyone's work. Dan then went on to expound brilliantly on painting, and tell colorful stories.

Beyond teaching me some of the mechanics of painting, I felt that Dan, through his example, taught an even greater lesson in humility, and reminded me of the honor in hard work. Nobody wanted to leave at the end of the day, it was totally inspirational. Made me want to get out and work more on location again too!

Friday, October 29, 2010

VIDEO: "Looking In on Tony Peters"

Looking In On Tony Peters from Holly Peters on Vimeo.

An introduction to the artist Tony Peters and his paintings.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

William Wendt Sketches

William Wendt Sketch "Girl Under a Tree"
William Wendt Sketch "Haystacks"

William Wendt's painting "Haystack" 16 x 20 inches, oil on canvas.

Keith at my gallery in La Jolla (K. Nathan Gallery) just picked up William Wendt's sketchbook at auction, the sketches in it were done somewhere around 1910. He has taken the drawings out and had them each beautifully framed for display. Keith was generous enough to give me a great deal, and I had the pleasure of being able to add this particular double-sided sketch to my personal collection (above).

I really loved the drawing of the girl sitting under a tree in the shade, especially since I have been focusing so much on the figure lately, plus I admire William Wendt's work so much anyway. It appeared to be the only figure in the entire sketchbook. On the reverse was this drawing of a haystack. I was excited to discover this corresponding image to go with it. The sketch appears to be the preliminary drawing for Wendt's painting, "Haystack".

Sunday, September 26, 2010


This is a little 8 x 10 painting, oil on canvas, called "Television". Some of the other paintings I'm working on right now are fairly large, so it's gratifying to execute something quickly for a change.

My wife's little sister, Cortney, posed for this in her parents' living room. I like the color harmony of the image, and it's mood.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

"Freeway Exit"

I wanted to either call this new painting "Houses by a Freeway" or "Freeway Exit", it's 15 x 30 inches, oil on canvas. This one involved a lot of imagination, I made up much of the landscape. But it's based on my travels through Detroit.

I laid down some fairly thick impasto on this piece, scraping the paint around with my palette knife, and smearing color around with a rag. I love the surface of this piece in particular, the manipulation of light, and the quiet color. I enjoyed playing with the composition and design too, with the houses on the right, and the lone solitary figure on the bridge to the left. Together, all these things hit on the overall mood I was going for.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Graffiti Bridge

This is "Graffiti Bridge", oil on canvas, 18 x 24 inches. With this piece, I invented these young characters making art on the walls of the bridge, like modern hyroglifics. I have wanted to include graffiti in one of my paintings for a long time, since so many of the places that I paint are often old, and usually have graffiti on them anyway. But it then becomes an important part of the image. So my graffiti tells a story.

Saturday, September 04, 2010


"Waiting" oil on canvas, 18 x 24 inches. This is a continuation on my theme from a previous painting, called "Looking Outward". It's inspiration comes from a quote by the famous psychologist and author, Carl Jung... "Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens."

In this piece, I used a turn of the century building as my location, a female model, and more of a focus on the light hitting the building's exterior. "Waiting" is available through K. Nathan Gallery in La Jolla.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Girl Reading, Pacific Beach

"Girl Reading, Pacific Beach" 24 x 26 inches, oil on canvas

A while back, I posted my preliminary drawing for this painting. It's finally finished. The process involved a new method I'm using to help me include the figure within my new works.

But before I get into how I did the painting, let's talk about the why. Every painting of mine includes personal meaning, but I hope that the image resonates with the viewer in an archetypal way. I feel the purpose of my work is to depict my own story, but it's not necessarily important to understand in order to enjoy the work. When I was still a teenager, 18 years old, I moved out of my parent's house and lived close to this particular neighborhood in Pacific Beach. I spent most of my time in study, although I lived in the midst of a party town, and I somehow managed to stay out of trouble... honest! So this painting depicts the kind of ideal fantasy girl that I never met there at the time, a good girl engrossed in her studies.

As for how I did this painting, I was initially inspired when I was visiting the New York Public Library and viewed their WPA era murals... I wanted to do my own library painting. At first, my idea was to depict a girl sitting and reading under a tree, but as I went out in search of the perfect tree to use for my painting, I found this beautiful repetative long line of palms in the old Pacific Beach neighborhood. In this particular view, I liked how the long fence complemented those palms, as well as the long pose of the reclining figure I had in mind. These three elements somehow divided the piece into thirds. Then, I worked up a kind of classical composition creating a big triangle or pyramid as the overall center of the piece... do you see it?

As I transferred my drawing to canvas and began the painting, my friend, Aron Wiesenfeld, pointed out that the palms lining the background were a little too monotonous. I changed them in this final painting, so it does differ from my preliminary drawing.

Speaking of my pal Aron Wiesenfeld, I just got back from his opening exhibition at the Bakersfield Museum of Art... http://www.aronwiesenfeld.com/home.html

Saturday, June 05, 2010


"Girl on Bridge", 24 x 24 inches, oil on canvas.

I have been trying a different approach to my working methods. My next scheduled exhibition with K. Nathan Gallery will be late in the year, and I've been working on 10 pieces all at once. Every painting will include the figure. "Girl on Bridge" is the first one that I have finished.

Last year, I was out with two of my private students sketching on location by the beach close to Del Mar, and we found ourselves seeking shade from the sun under North Torrey Pines Bridge. I drew the old bridge there in my sketchbook from this angle. Later at the studio, in thinking how I might incorporate a figure, I doodled a girl sitting there on the bridge. I liked the graphic quality of the sketch. And I felt that the figure gave the image some tension. The more I thought about it, I felt that the underbelly of that bridge expressed a degree of psychological symbolism... the shadows of the unconscious under this massive structure.