Monday, November 19, 2012

Trofeo Grand Touring

 This one started several months ago when Charles Betz approached me with an idea. He and his business partner Fred Peters have sponsored an award every year at the Ferrari Club of America National Meet for the last ten years and were ready to try something other than the traditional bronze statue. The award is given to a car that is driven regularly, not a garage queen. Chas thought a painting that reflected a driving experience would be appropriate. It would be printed in a series of ten and one given out each year for the next decade. So I started some sketches based on our conversations and did a couple oil color studies to get capture what he had in mind. Eventually we got there and then set up an evening light photo shoot of his 250GT short wheelbase berlinetta. We then picked the right shot, the right proportions for the painting and had Leon Picture Frames make me a canvas.

Everything flowed smoothly, largely because of the groundwork that was laid. I gave Chas periodic photo updates by email and he made suggestions as necessary. The painting was ready on time and subject to approval by Fred and Brooke, which went well. Then off to get the prints made. I use Stan Nishikawa in Irvine. We decided that the actual award would be a bit smaller than the original so I went over everything with Stan who then did a digital capture and set out to do the color correction. In a few days we were back at Stan's to check the proofs he made available and make a selection. A few days later we had the finished prints and took them back for titling and signing. Each one got the quote "The best Ferrari is the one that is driven" in keeping with the trophy theme and was numbered 1 through 10. From there we were back to Leon Picture Frames to pick matting, frame and that ultra clear museum glass. Chas had a brass plaque made so a window was cut in the mat for it and it turned out beautifully.

Then came the FCA National Meet. Every year it's in a different location and this time it was held in Palm Springs. The recipient of the award isn't picked by Betz and Peters, they just sponsor it. The FCA judges picked Ken and Dayle Roath who has driven his 250 Europa in two recent Mille Miglias. That's a thousand miles each time, hard to do more miles than that, plus his usual driving. I have got to know Ken a bit in the last year or so and I'm delighted to know my work is on their wall.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Fullerton College Centennial

In 2013 Fullerton College will be celebrating it's one hundredth birthday. They are planning to make it a big to-do, and rightly so, it is is the oldest continuously running community college in our state. A few artists have been asked to do portraits of significant players in the college history and I got a gal named Esther Litchfield Hatch, the first female dean at the college, back in the 30s. According to a period press release, she was young, enthusiastic and gay (the original meaning). Her duties included helping female students with their academic, financial and romantic endeavors.
I was provided with several photocopies of school paper and yearbook pictures, small and grainy and when you look at them close, all you see is dots. Its hard to do a large painting (29" X 36") from these, but the challenge was made and I met it as best I could. I picked a photo from early in her career, after all, were commemorating the fact that she was the first, no sense in picking a shot from ten years on the job. The other photos gave me the advantage of seeing how she looked in different light, from different angles and how she looked when she got older. I used these as a guide to capturing her likeness.
I gotta admit, it was rough. Just getting the facial geography right was a challenge. Eventually I used the computer to help me. I printed a copy of the original and then printed a copy of my painting over it, this told me where the painting matched the original and where it deviated. I was amazed at how close they matched. I was looking for a problem with the level of the eyes and was surprised to find the solution was in the width of the base of the nose. I hadn't looked there. Then I did a loose grid to check everything else and made a few small mods to get the desired likeness. The painting technique is a combination of traditional under-painting and glazing, some dry brush scumbling on top, then some more glazes. I really like the end result.
I'm not sure what role the painting will play in the Fullerton College centennial celebration, when I get more info I'll post it here.

Monday, August 13, 2012


This painting is for Rod Drew of Francorchamps America in Costa Mesa. It is Ferrari 250LM (5149) burning at Sebring. This is the first 250LM and really the only one to actually have a 250 engine, the others sporting a larger 275 version. It was originally shown at the Paris, London and Brussels car shows, then campaigned by Chinetti's N.A.R.T. team, where it didn't fair very well. After four race entries its career ended here at Sebring. It was rebuilt and eventually converted to street use, then burned again! Years later the car was reconstructed from the remains which are said to include the engine, transaxle and other significant parts. The car went through other owners and eventually made its way back to the Chinetti family.

Rod had done extensive work on this car sometime back and seems to enjoy seeing it presented this way. He has been after me to do a painting of the car burning for quite some time, suggesting Tom Burnside's wonderful period photograph as a starting point and insisting the guy with the cowboy hat be included. I added other figures to photos of the reconstructed car I shot while back east last year and came up with this. 

This is a glazed painting, 24” X 36” oil on canvas. I did a lot of research for this piece, even going back and finding period pictures of the logos for Sebring firefighters back in the day. I did one color study of oil fire and one of firemen, since I wanted to make up most of the guys. I was happy to have photographs of the real car that I had taken recently, and found many detail differences from the car today and as it was then. Like all Ferraris from the 40s through 60s, this one is unique, and doing the research to present it as it raced on March 21, 1964 was a blast.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Orange County Fair 2012

This is the third time I've entered the fair and I've been lucky that all my entries have been accepted AND I've earned five awards in that time. This year I submitted "Resuscitation" and "The Hub" which pulled a Staff Award and Honorable Mention respectively. 
There was a ton of work in the show, 1900 pieces in the fine arts division (which included photography, sculpture, watercolor, mixed media, digital and many other categories). This year I went to the 'Judge's Walk Through' for the first time. You follow the judges around the exhibit as they offer insights to their selection process and give a light critique of some of the winners. It was pretty 101 but a nice way to see the work through someone else's eyes. They said they liked the way I 'handle paint' and the unique perspective of "The Hub" kept them coming back as they considered the entries for awards.
As a side note we counted the number of entries from Deborah's painting class, there were almost forty, and at least six of them won awards, some of them major awards in both amateur and professional categories. One year ALL the award winners (except one HM) were from her classes. So if you're ever looking for a painting class...

Sunday, April 1, 2012


This is the latest addition to my series on restoration experts. This scene takes place in the shop of Patrick Ottis Company in Berkeley, CA and features Patrick Ottis (in the tee-shirt) and David McCarthy breathing life back into a Ferrari V-12. Patrick graciously granted me complete freedom to shoot in his shop on two occasions, even though they were under the cloud of show deadlines. This painting was compiled from dozens of shots and it took a long time to come up with this composition; once it was decided, the painting advanced smoothly.

In this painting I reverted to a style I naturally gravitate to, called scumbling. Traditional glazed painting (shown in December 2011 blog installment) starts with a monochromatic (one color and white) underpainting and then several dozen thin glass-like layers of transparent color are added on top make a full color painting that can appear to glow. This is what the old masters, pre-impressionism, did.

This scumbled painting also started with a complete underpainting, but color was added with a VERY dry brush of color and not laid on top, but scrubbed in. It provides a whole different surface to look at and I like to use it occasionally. Check out Patrick's right arm, it's one of the finest anatomy studies I've done. Besides all the stuff in the background, I really like the way the figures came out.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Open House/Studio

Well, the Open Studio was a huge success. There was a steady flow of folks all day, nearly a hundred visitors in four hours. It was fun to see people with common interests meet for the first time and the reuniting of those who hadn't seen each other in too long a time. I hadn't seen Ken and Veronica Kusudo in twenty years!

I can paint, but I'm no good at the food thing, all I could think of serving was a case of Coke and a 50# bag of oats. Food stores are so foreign to me, I don't know what most of the stuff is, I'm just looking for products from Celebrity Apprentice; so Deborah provided the selection of cheeses and snacks to satisfy people's culinary needs. People left with more than full stomachs. A lot of books and prints were sold and there were hourly door prizes. The winners of signed original prints were Barbara and Dick Gladden, Russ Wicks, Cesar Duran and Kelly Capps.

Friends from Brea, Fullerton College, the Ferrari Clubs, clients, buddies, family and everyone else all provided a huge base of support for me. A million thanks!

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Warden

Deb and I went to visit Mark in January. He had been sick and in and out of the Reno hospital for a year and a half. I had seen him a few months ago but now he was home and I wanted to see him there. He looked better on the second day and although he was skinny as a rail, his face was full and his hair was white and bushy like Mark Twain. The next day he went back in the hospital and about the time we got home he had passed away.
While there we looked at the family photos in the room. His wife Carleen pointed out a photo (taken by Skip Waller) that she loved. It was taken about the time the two of them met and (important to me) shot in natural light. I wanted to do his portrait from this picture and Skip gave the okay. Scott Faris suggested the painting be titled "the Warden".
I spent the next several weeks looking carefully at the picture and focusing thoughts about Mark, getting completely lost in the work and going on autopilot a lot of the time. Working from a great photo helps, but knowing the subject intimately takes it all to a different level; one where you don't need conscious thought, just intuition. I tried to make it look like there was a grin under the scowl, which was often the case with him, and found the smile in his eyes, not so much the mouth.
It turned out to be a great way to deal with the loss and I got this painting out of it, which we then delivered to Carleen. She sent a note which read in part "
You captured Mark’s eyes! His eyes had gold flecks in them when he was young, and they showed up in the painting. " I'd have missed that detail if I was looking. It's like other paintings were training and here I had to operate blindfolded, drowned in music and misery and see what comes out at the end of the day. I am really pleased with the results, for me it transcends illustration and borders on art.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Bookcover: Whistling on the Stair

I was so pleased to get a call from Saylor Smith who was about to go to press with his 3rd book and asked me to do a painting for the cover. He had taken a photograph to be used as a guide for the painting, but wanted the subject in an 80's Angel uniform, a bat on his shoulder, a catchers mitt in her hand, and add an interesting but muted background. So sketches were started near the end of November and emailed back and forth until we got a suitable composition. There were a few things I needed to change from the original photo, I wanted the vantage point to be a bit lower and needed more info in the shadows so I got a friend to pose with his daughter and re-shot the scene. I was able to use some of this new info in the painting, but the more I worked with Saylor's original, the more I was able to see in it. I wanted the grandstands as a background right away and found some suitable images, some from the painting "The Hub" made last year. So here it is, I left room at the top and bottom for title and author info, and then worked with Saylor to come up with a layout that he liked, playing the part of a graphic artist, then the publishers went to work polishing it up and making a great presentation.