Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Five Rules for Painting

If you keep these 5 things in mind, you'll paint faster and your paintings will be nicer to look at.

The BLAST Rule is one of many painting tips in my book Imaginative Realism: How to Paint What Doesn't Exist, which you can get signed with free shipping at my website store.

More on this previous post

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

How to Play Bucktail

To play bucktail, a Stegosaurus stands between two large mounds of straw. 
Each player in turn climbs on the tail and holds onto the spikes. 

The tail begins to wag back and forth until the player loses hold and tumbles safely into the straw.


Monday, November 28, 2022

Black Friar Pub

The Black Friar Pub in London.

I love the weird juxtaposition of elements. The wedge-shaped Art Nouveau landmark stands alone, surrounded by stark geometric forms from the postwar period.

I use two grades of graphite pencils, an HB and a 3B. I sharpened the soft pencil into a chisel tip, which helps with the treatment of the window details.

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Square-Section Vehicles

Here's a good thing for vehicle designers to keep in mind: If it operates in traffic, it will have to fit inside a rectangular cross section.

A rectangular cross section maximizes the carrier's volume capacity. Any element that projects beyond the square boundary, such as mirrors, exhaust pipes or antennas, must be absolutely necessary, because it's prone to being broken off. 

Lane width and bridge height restrictions define the boundaries of the rectangle. Sometimes vehicle length constraints can affect vehicle shapes, especially for low speed designs where streamlining doesn't matter. 

The cab-over-engine design that was popular from the 1950s to the 1970s was a response to length restrictions. When those restrictions were relaxed and trucks could be made longer, cabovers became more unusual.

This principle applies not only to road vehicles, but also to rail traffic and to shipping, especially when it must traverse narrow sea lanes and canals. 

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Woods in Winter, Watercolor

Konstantin Kryzhitsky was one of the founders of the Society of Russian Watercolorists in 1880.

Konstantin Kryzhitsky (1858-1911) Gathering Branches in Winter, signed in Cyrillic and dated 'K. Kryzhitsky 1903.' 
(watercolor and gouache on paper 13¾ x 18½ in. (34.9 x 47 cm.)

 In this forest landscape, he uses blobs of white gouache for the active shapes of the snow on evergreen fronds and for the distant sky holes. Most of the tree trunks however are handled with transparent paint.

Friday, November 25, 2022

Enchanted Poster

We've got signed posters for the "Enchanted" exhibition now available signed from our online store.

It's a nice gift idea for the Dinotopia fan in your life (or gift for your own well-being).

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Somewhere in the Desert

Homestead in the desert. The sign says: "No Trespassing Until Further Notice."

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Sorolla and His Contemporaries

In 1890, Joaquín Sorolla went to Paris, exhibiting Sad Inheritance, Sea Wind, and four other paintings at the Exposition Universelle. 

Joaquín Sorolla, Paseo a orillas del mar (Walk on the Beach)

His work made a big impression on the jury, which responded with universal enthusiasm. It was a triumph for Sorolla and for Spain. José León Pagano later said "Whoever was present would never forget it."

Joaquín Sorolla (1863-1923), ¡Triste herencia! (Sad Inheritance)

There, Sorolla met many of the leading realist/impressionists painters, including John Singer Sargent, Giovanni Boldini, Peder Krøyer and Anders Zorn, with whom he had already developed a close friendship.

Giovanni Boldini, a dazzling technician himself, was fascinated by "the superb mastery of this devil of a Spaniard."

Albert Besnard commented: "There is no doubt, we are in front of a great master." 

Claude Monet said: "Above all, he is joyful in light."


From Joaquin Sorolla by Blanca Pons Sorolla

Joaquín Sorolla (1863-1923) on Wikipedia

Monday, November 21, 2022

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Brocken Spectre

brocken spectre is at atmospheric phenomenon where the observer casts a shadow onto a cloud, and the shadow is visible surrounded by a glowing orb of light. 

For the effect to be visible, usually the observer has to be high up on a mountaintop or in an airplane. In the case if an airplane, the shadow. 

Wikipedia on Brocken spectre

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Making a Tone Study with Notes

I made this study of a shirt using pencil and gouache on brown wrapping paper. As I worked, I noted down what I was thinking about as I was doing it:

Thin, medium weight fabric with a slight sheen.

Avoid the superficial. Combine large and small. Don't simplify, clarify. Paint for a sculptor.

Two variables (of paint): thickness and dryness.

Big brush, get large forms. Make every stroke count. Divide process into sequence of steps. Make every steps have a definite purpose.

Exercise: paint a head in 100 strokes. Hide strokes.

In the rough-in:

—Look for large geometric shapes and basic structure.

—Use side of pencil.

—Keep cross checking

—Subdivide logically

—Cross-check on bilateral symmetry.

(Create) levels of accessibility

Transition from family to family (of forms, shapes and strokes)

See the form as if it were already painted. Pipe fold, zig-zag fold.

The study appears in The Artist's Guide to Sketching, published in 1982.

Friday, November 18, 2022

Al Dorne Special in Illustration Magazine

Illustrator Albert Dorne is the subject of an entire special issue of Illustration Magazine. Dorne founded the Famous Artists School and worked for decades in the lucrative field of advertising illustration. 

Dorne was also a major influence on the artists for Mad Magazine, such as Jack Davis.

The 80-page issue includes a detailed biography, richly illustrated with dozens of examples of his artwork.

Illustration Magazine Special on Al Dorne
80 pages, 8.5 x 11, perfect bound, printed in full color.

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Cave Panorama

This cave panorama has violet light coming from the left and cyan-colored light from the right.

That sets up opportunities for sparkling contrasts on the helectite formations at center. 

Note the figures entering at far left.

 From Dinotopia: The World Beneath.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Making a Sketch Easel / Resources

My homemade sketch easel uses adjustable torque hinges with a threaded Tee-nut so that it fits on a camera tripod. 

Embedded magnets hold the metal paint tray and plastic water cup (which has corresponding magnets below it.) 

If you've been thinking of building a sketch easel, it's quite easy, and there are links below to all the resources you'll need.

Don't worry if you don't have any workshop skills or tools. Maybe there's someone in your life who will make you one.

How to Make a Sketch Easel (video tutorial).

Sketch Easel Builders (Facebook group).

Previous blog posts:

Sketch Easel Hinge Solution

YouTube Videos

How to Make a Light Diffuser

Tools and Materials


Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Beside the Shining Sea

Building sandcastles beside the shining sea. Oil on textured board, 8x10 inches.

Monday, November 14, 2022

Getting Back to Analog

The title makes a provocative claim: The Future Is Analog

It's an even bolder proposition than David Sax's previous book The Revenge of Analog. 

The new book, released tomorrow, suggests that the digital revolution hasn't turned out the way most of us had hoped, and people want to return to reality. 

Sure, we'll still order things online or work remotely if we have to, but most of us yearn to get back to a more grounded, face-to-face existence. 

"It didn’t take long to realize how awful it was to live in this promised future," he says. "We craved real experiences, relationships, and spaces and got back to real life as quickly and often as we could."

The pullback from the universally digital future has, if anything, become more pronounced after suffering through the loneliness and disconnection of the pandemic, after the collapse of crypto and NFTs, after social media's content-moderation fiascos, after Facebook's fizzling efforts to launch the Metaverse, and after AI image generators have sucked up and replaced the work of creative people.

The glowing promise of the digital future has turned to ashes. We were sold a utopia of virtualized connections and products, but it turns out that what makes us human is the time we spend with each other and with real things.

The book is divided into sections that explore work, school, commerce, the city, culture (mainly performing arts), conversation, and the soul (religion). Sax asks whether the choice to 'go digital' is inevitable in every one of those categories, or whether we can choose options that may be a little less efficient, but that are better for us psychologically, socially, and culturally. 

He's not advocating for a Luddite future, but for a more conscious and deliberate one by asking the following questions: 

"Can we reject the downsides of digital technology without rejecting change? Can we innovate not for the sake of productivity but for the good of our social and cultural lives? Can we build a future that serves us as humans, first and foremost?"

These are the questions that, according to Sax, we need to grapple with now. Let's face it: the future will be a blend of technologies, old and new. We all have to make our peace with computers, cellphones and the internet. But Sax sensibly asks us to question the inevitability of the digital future that the tech lords have laid out for us. 

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Dinosaur Scribe


A dinosaur dances out 'WELCOME' at the Footprint Amphitheater.

Saturday, November 12, 2022

Chamber Musicians

My fountain pen and watercolors were set to go last night at a chamber music concert at Bard College.

They only stayed in their poses for a single movement of a given piece before they shifted offstage. 

With that little time I could only try to capture the big tonal shapes.


Friday, November 11, 2022

Interview about Dinotopia

This interview goes a little deeper than most into the inspiration behind Dinotopia. 

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

The Crossing

There's a forgotten place where the power lines cross the train tracks.

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Imagining Bug-Eyed Monsters

🎮 I did some freelance work for the Atari game called "Galaga." The painting below is in oil.

🎮 The actual screen graphics were pretty basic. Orderly lines of bug-like monsters swarm overhead and drop bombs on you.

🎮 The whole idea with the package art was to develop the 3D fantasy in the player's imagination.

🎮 Although there were home versions of the game, you had to play the arcade version to see the ultimate levels. I wasn't very good at playing the game, so I went to the arcade and offered quarters to the kids who were good at it. I said all I wanted to do was watch them play and sketch the monsters. When I came back the next day there was a whole line of kids with their hands out. Don't know if I would do that now.

Monday, November 7, 2022

Andy Warhol Meets the Gatekeepers

How Andy Warhol got his start as an art student is an interesting story that we all can learn from. 

The story focuses on a couple of paintings owned by Andy's family, painted just before Andy made his way to New York.

Andy's nephew James Warhola tells how the judges first rejected his slightly outrageous painting "Nosepicker." (Link to video)

Sunday, November 6, 2022

Seaside with a Dinosaur

What would it feel like to run down a beach with a 15-ton Diplodocus alongside? That's the question I tried to answer with Seaside Romp.

Saturday, November 5, 2022

Thursday, November 3, 2022

Childe Hassam's World's Fair Gouaches

Childe Hassam was an eyewitness to the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago.  

Childe Hassam, World's Fair, Chicago, gouache on paper laid on board, 11 x 14 inches. Heritage Auctions, Nov. 4, 2022

Hassam "added backgrounds and figures to a group of existing architectural drawings by other artists which were then reproduced as a series of chromolithographs entitled Gems of the White City." (Source of quote below.)

The perspective structure of the buildings is carefully measured. The vertical lines are executed with white gouache over a light gray base color using the paint in a ruling pen.

The style or mindset seems quite different from the chaotic and casual approach to the figures and distant areas.

Hassam painted several views of the Exposition buildings and its visitors using watercolor and gouache. In some of them he allowed the brown paper to show through, creating a warm and cool effect.

The fair was visited by 27 million people in a time when the US population was 50 million. The exposure was a big boost to Hassam's career.

*Source of quote: Barbara Weinberg.
The auction includes classic illustrators such as JC Leyendecker and Norman Rockwell and American landscape painters such as William Trost Richards and Thomas Moran.

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

'Nothing Gold Can Stay'

Edge of the Forest, October, plein air oil on panel, 6 x 12 inches

"Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf,
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day
Nothing gold can stay."
—Robert Frost

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Dust bath

Every Yutyrranus needs a good dust bath once in a while.

There are places in the forest where they do it, stirring up a shallow basin full dirt and dust with their arms and shaking themselves off afterwards.