Atlas 2; refining and background

While refining the sketch of Atlas I have completely redrawn the head. I changed the tilt of his head to create a more somber almost regretful or defeated expression. Draping his hair over his face creates a sense of fatigue.


I have started drawing the earth which has cracked open as it landed having been shrugged off or dropped from shoulder level. I once watched a weight lifter try one too many reps and he dumped 600 pounds off his shoulders. The bar crashed to the floor and rocked the entire gym. It was quite an attention grabber.

I began researching how the stars in the background would look and I did a little reading about the Orion constellation. Orion is known as the Hunter and often appears hunting a lion with a club. In a black and white  sketch Orion appears more prominent than he will in the finished painting. I need to keep him subtle enough not to draw attention away from the central figure of Atlas.



This next painting is straight from my own imagination. I have been painting a lot lately and as I work through this one I think I can’t help but think I have polished my chops a bit. I have a long way to go but I really feel I am getting there. Let’s start sketching.


That captures the basic shape of it so let’s start refining and adding detail.


The face and head are a little off but muscles have some mass and density. It’s a good start so keep working.

Return of the Ruby Throated Hummingbird

The last attempt at Hummingbirds was my first time using gouache. As I put layers on top of layers the colors were mixing like drunken frat boys in a mosh pit. My underlying drawing disappeared, my edges blurred like a night drive in the rain without windshield wipers, and the colors mixed into a gray goo. The piece looked like an impressionists treatment of a mud hole. I left the field of battle bloodied and defeated.

Undaunted I once again put on my ratty jeans, paint stained sweatshirt, and warm socks, pick up my sword and shield,  and march down the hall to the studio. Never give up, never surrender, never stick your finger in a light socket. Trust me.

This time I am returning to the oil paint. I have no photo of the bird in this pose. The pose of the bird is right out of my head with some reference photos on the side so hopefully I have the proportions right. The composition is much simpler than my last attempt. I still have scars from beating my head on that brick wall.

Here is the pencil sketch ready for clear gesso to lock it down and carry the oil paint.

Great Blue Heron Background Elements

The background elements are kept simple so that the detail of the Heron makes it pop off the canvas. The orange moon forms a nice contrast with the Ultramarine background. The Water Lily forms a mirror image on the surface of the water. Water Lily Mirrorism is one of the Laws of Fluid Dynamics. I read about it in Da Vinci’s book “Fluid Dynamics for Dummies and Painters”.

Heron for a Birthday gift

Nothing says Happy Birthday to your niece like a painting of a Great Blue Heron. I think Da Vinci said that, only with an Italian accent.

I couldn’t show you this one until after her birthday because somebody would have commented on it on Facebroke and the next thing you know Nicki Minaj or Lady Gaga are on it and the secret is out. Another birthday ruined by Gaga Hashtag.

This painting has an interesting ground. Ground is a cool way of saying “what it’s painted on”. This one is on Masonite, I mean “heavy art board” with a layer of linen glued on. Actually it is an old sheet but linen sounds better like I painted it on the Shroud of Turin or something. A layer of gesso nails it all down but it retains the texture of the weave for a bit of tooth.

I wanted a simple composition with 3 or 4 elements. Here is the sketch transferred to the heavy art board.

Now I lay in the background trying not to wreck the sketch.