Thursday, February 28, 2013

Crab Louie's

Crab Louie's 
20x16, oil

This painting is of the historic Midlothian house that is now Crab Louie's Seafood Tavern.
It is part of "Familiar Places", the collection of paintings hanging at Cafe Caturra (Midlothian location). I took some process photos of the piece. Take a look:
The "underpainting" in Burnt Umber.

Painting in the sky & trees.

Working on the house and grass.

Working on the areas touched by the artificial light as well as the setting sun in the background.

Glazing more color everywhere.
And then I signed it and let it dry... but I wasn't happy with it.

I took some sandpaper to the painting. Here is the aftermath of the sanding excursion.
Sometimes you just need to take the risk of "ruining" something even if you don't know you'll be able to make it better. It keeps me from being too precious with my paintings. Sometimes this is just what a painting needs.

Glazed transparent Ultramarine Blue over the entire canvas so I could still see the "bones" of the scene and started again with redefining the house and windows.
Unfortunately I didn't take photos along the way after that... So the photo jumps to the final piece below:

Crab Louie's 
20x16, oil

The Woolridge brothers, partial owners of the Mid-lothian coal mining company, built what is now Crab Louie’s Tavern in the 1700’s. It served as the home of Abraham Woolridge. In the later 1800’s the John Jewett family purchased the estate and turned it into a boarding house. It was named “The Sycamores” because of the abundance of sycamore trees in the area. Although the house has changed owners and undergone many other transformations over the years, the character and history are still evident. Crab Louies Seafood Tavern is located in the Sycamore Square shopping center on Midlothian Turnpike.

Monday, February 25, 2013

"Crisp Blue and a White Washed Day" or "Engine Company 5"

Another painting to replace a piece that sold from Familiar Places at Cafe Caturra Midlothian.

Crisp Blue and a White Washed Day
Engine Company 5, Midlothian Virginia
8x6, oil

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Butter Beans and Tomatos

My collection of Midlothian paintings are hanging at Cafe Caturra, but I still have a pile of reference photos and ideas and locations in Midlothian that I'm dying to paint. And the perfect opportunity has arisen to take a break from other art biz stuff/commissions/paintings on other topic... Two of the paintings hanging sold. I'm working on replacement pieces. Hurrah!

Let's play the game again. Want to guess the location of this painting?

Butter Beans and Tomatos
8x6, oil

Makes you more eager for summer, doesn't it?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

If We Could Read the Rings

 "If We Could Read the Rings" 
11x14, oil on canvas
(Story behind the title here)

"If We Could Read the Rings" was completed last summer, but was never featured on the blog. You may find the layers of process as interesting as the final piece. I enjoyed starting on the toned canvas and "drawing" the outlines with the paint and brush and then "blocking in" the shapes. 80% of the time I begin with the "block in" and then refine the shape as I go.

Pre-painting, drawing in sketchbook.

Toned canvas. (Paint was completely dry before next layers added.)

The outlining of the shape of the tree & house.

Filling in & creating the form of the tree.

Adding definition to the house.

Warming up the areas touched by the bright summer sun.

Adding a little more variation in tone & contrast on the dry, cracking bark. And complete!

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

"Familiar Places" is Hung!

My collection of paintings depicting Midlothian, Richmond and the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia is HUNG! Visit Cafe Caturra Midlothian (directions) to see the paintings in person, or check out the webpage ( I created for the display.

Ok, so why the cute girl in the red vest?

Well, she's my fabulous sister who helped me hang my 35 paintings yesterday afternoon! 
Couldn't have done it without her!

Let me know what you think!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Grove Shaft

I blogged about it before. It's finally finished.

I've been calling it "the big one" for the past several years. Now it has a name.

The Grove Shaft
located in the Midlothian Mines Park
Midlothian, Virginia
oil on canvas

A little history about this stone structure:
The village of Midlothian developed as a coal mining settlement in the 1700’s. Founded by the Woolridge brothers, originally from East Lothian and West Lothian, Scotland, the coal mining company was named Mid-Lothian and became the first commercial coal company in Virginia. Coal was transported to the James River for shipment along a dirt road that is now Midlothian Turnpike.
Later the Chesterfield Railroad was built to aid the coal distribution.

The ruins of several of the coal mining structures can still been seen at the Midlothian Mines Park. Three granite walls of a building that may have housed steam boilers and hoisting equipment above the Grove Shaft remain. The arch at the center of this structure housed the ventilation fan that forced air into the 600-foot deep shaft below. 

I set out to paint the ruins of the Grove Shaft in a manner that depicts its age and history. While it wasn't started in the 1700's, it was begun quite a few years ago. 2008. My senior year at VCU. I work on it once or twice a week for half the semester:

I began using only (1)Titanium White (2) Ultramarine Blue and (3)Burnt Umber. I applied them in their pure forms, let it dry and sanded the canvas, and then mixed to build the painting up to a black, white and gray state, sanding in between layers.
The semester ended and I still didn't know what to do with it -- whether to add color or what to do with the foliage. 

It ended up sitting in a closet at my parents' house until last year. 

I took a nice sanding block to it. Wish I got a photo directly after the sanding.
Then I went for it! COLOR:
(click to enlarge and see the sections that were sanded)

Over the last 6 months or so I've worked intermittently on this painting. A layer or a wash of paint and then several weeks or months of time to let the paint dry before the next time I sand it with sandpaper or apply the next layer of paint.  

Theo didn't quite understand it.

 Then I outlined the stones again with ultramarine blue & burnt umber (deep, almost black, color):
Mark says, hi and are you going to keep working on it?

Painted the "face" of the stones & continued outlining the stones:

Then took the sandpaper to it again:

Close up of the texture. And a ladybug:

Another layer to increase contrast:

And some color washes over the stones:

Theo says, it still needs more work.

More paint, more sanding. I didn't take more photos until it's finished state.
I added more definition to some of the brick areas, added the dead leaves and brush on the ground around the structure, and worked on increasing the contrast of the shadow areas and the the light areas.
The Grove Shaft
oil on canvas

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Familiar Places // Cafe Caturra Midlothian

Beginning February 14, which is Valentine's Day, my collection of Midlothian paintings along with other paintings from Richmond & the Blue Ridge Mountains will be hanging at Cafe Caturra (Midlothian location). 

I'm calling it "Familiar Places". 
To read more about it and see the paintings that will be on display and for sale click here:

If you're local, take a look at the artwork as you sip your tea, eat your gourmet sandwich or drink your favorite wine. Whatever you like to do at Cafe Caturra.

Original artwork could make a great gift if you are still searching for a Valentine's Day gift for a special someone, or yourself. :)

Saturday, February 9, 2013

A Painter in the Gardens

A Painter in the Gardens
12x16, oil on canvas

This painting has been in the works since September, or so. Actually, this particular scene has been in the works for years. I did a study from life of a friend painting in the Italian Gardens at Maymont Park 5 or so years ago. I took a photo and kept meaning to make it into a larger, tighter painting. Somewhere during those 5 years (probably when I got married and moved) I lost the study. I still remember the day, the weather. It was intermittently overcast, rather hot. The colors were bright. It was late spring. I remember I left my little plastic lawn table (on which I set my palette, paints & brushes) in the gardens and had to come back for it the next day. That's besides the point.

Anyway, this painting took quite the journey to make it to it's final state. Want to see?

First I "drew" the elements on the canvas with burnt umber, rose, a mixture of cool yellow/green and a dark somethingorother color. Oh yes, and titanium white for the trellis. I was having trouble figuring out how to keep the composition from looking lop-sidded with the angles all pointing so sharply in one direction.

Therefore I threw caution to the wind, turned it upside down and applied cerulean blue -- straight from the tube.

Right side up again. Added a few highlights to the vine foliage.

Upside down again and a little permanent rose. Such a great color when you are working toward that bright summer green in a painting... or when painting roses. 

This was one of those moments when I thought adding in the details of the trellis...

...But in vain! I let the painting dry for a few weeks and took some sandpaper to it. The lines in the painting directed your eye to leave the canvas as soon as you looked at it. A good composition keeps your eye roaming around and around inside the rectangle of the painting.

Burnt Sienna & titanium white paint applied to re-build the composition. Originally I thought the figure cannot be situated in the center, but as I played with the positioning of the pillars and the angles of the trellis "roof", bushes and pathway, she ended up looking most "at home" in the center of the composition. It's as if all the foliage, the ground, the trellis and sky are dancing around her. Sort of how I feel when I'm in "my own world" while concentrating on a painting.

And then, I realized the whole painting needed to start out lighter to arrive at the right value in the end. This meant a week of drying time & a wash of white paint.

There were several steps between the last that I forgot to photograph -- I think just some light washes of color. It needed a punch. Bam! Check out those tree tops & sky.

Vine foliage, trellis, pathway & flower bed added here.

Ta-da! Rose bushes, more flowers in the flower bed, painter under the trellis and quite a few glazes of color to unify and deepen. I'm quite happy with the vibrancy of this piece.

Thanks for reading!
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