Thursday, January 25, 2018

Big Ben Painting

At 36” square, this Big Ben is hanging at Fielding’s Grill looking for a home. It’s also on my website for $850.00. 

Watercolor Mixing

My floor is covered with my morning’s work; I have to quit because 1) there is no more room to walk, and 2) watercolor paper is expensive! Moving my students into watercolors now. Teachers do a lot more homework than their students, trust me on that one.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Theater Sets Artist

Here is some more of the work I did for Porter High School’s fantastic production of Peter Pan. What a great show!  This was their poster; I thought it looked great.

They asked me to make their fireplace look like marble and paint a landscape over it. Generally in the beginning I will ask them to paint the object with a color of medium value, neither light nor dark.  That way I can add the texturing, dimension, etc. with colors and values on both ends of the spectrum.  The lowlights (shadows) and highlights (nice warm lights) are what make the sets pop.
When I first looked at the fireplace it was a base of off white with a clean red brick veneer.  My first project was to dirty up the brick so it looked more like brick and not just the flat surface.  Several layers of blacks, greys, some green and blue splatter to pull it together with the walls, and believe it or not, I rubbed a little yellow up on the mantle.  Most of these things can't really be seen, but they are felt.  Although you couldn't really see the yellow per se, you could feel the radiating warmth when the light hit it.

Below, some of my paints.  This is my go-to toolbox when I work offsite.Oh yeah, I love my Yeti. It has upped the quality of my life.  Funny how little things can do that, huh?  I didn't mean to wear my good Born boots that I painted; usually I wear sturdy Skechers shoes which I have dedicated to paint.  They're good for climbing.  But these LOOK so good, and I was planning on seeing the show!  Just remember, if you like them, I can paint YOUR shoes, jeans, shirt or purse like this.  Message me.  I charge fifty bucks and you will literally have people chase you asking where you got them.
And yes, just like anybody else and a whole lot of artists, I googled ship to find exactly what I wanted.  Didn't work.  I finally hit upon galleon and hit gold.  This is the little printout I taped up so I could actually see what a ship looked like!  A lot of times I just keep the needed pics on my phone but that has its drawbacks.  Theaters are dark caves.  You have to use your phone flashlight a lot so you don't die.  AND, they're often notoriously bad for reception.  Better to have a hard copy so you can get it done.

In my previous post you will see that I did silhouettes of the characters; they build and hung frames for me to work inside.  There was no frame above the fireplace so I had to paint it in.  (Straight lines are my big weakness - can I get an amen?)  I tried using a long paint stick to get the frame lines straight, but it was too painted.  Imagine that.  Finally I just eyeballed it and went for the long strokes.

This close you can see that it's a little wonky, but trust me, you can't see that from the audience.  If you really want to know the BIG SECRET, everything in theater looks a little wonky closeup.  Costumes, makeup, sets, props... doesn't matter.  What matters is the audience.

They nailed down the bouquet, of course, which also matters huge as this entire sets piece was wheeled in and out innumerable times.  The mantle was also built sturdily because Peter Pan flew up and stood upon it.
I had about 20 minutes to paint the entire ship, and as it was, they were already practicing flying before a show!  I had literally just removed the paint cans when Peter flew up there and almost got paint on her butt!   Yikes!

Because I had to do this quickly, I used big brushes; a 1/2" flat brush is my absolute smallest for sets, and I almost never even take one.  The background of the sky is almost all simply the wall color (hey, it matches!) with the addition of some grey-green clouds.  The final touches of those little yellow dots warmed up the entire feel of the piece, and the red flags added the much-needed flash of color.  I didn't have a brush small enough for the flags so did it with a finger dipped in paint.

Here are the brushes I used.... well, not quite... the three middle ones were the ones I used.  The two outsiders were used on a project at home.  If I HAD had that nice little flat brush on the left, I wouldn't have had to sully my fingers!  Sometime I'll show you my fingernails.  It's a pretty hopeless cause.  But I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Once again, whatever it is you need painted, big or small, call me!  My number is 281-734-3362 and my website is

One last word on brushes; I think the big center one is a two inch flat.  It's been a favorite for years because I can hit hard with it and it always remains flat.  Good paint retention too.  The two rounded ones on each side of it are filberts, sometimes called cats' tongues (wonder why).  They don't show brushstrokes as much as a straight-edged brush.  The smallest guy is a 1/2" flat, a size which is one of my personal favorites, Bubba.  Lastly, the brush on the other side, the lowest brush, is a course acrylic or oil brush with completely stiff hairs like boar's hair or something.  It doesn't hold a lot of paint, but the stiffness works under a lot of conditions.  It's one of those brushes that takes a licking and keeps on ticking.

You may note that some of them look a little sudsy?  They are.  Coming soon, a lesson on brush care.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Peter Pan Sets

Here is some of the work I did for Peter Pan. The show is at Porter High School and I discovered that Porter is the hidden jewel of Houston.  I'm sure they don't tell anyone how nice it is there so they can enjoy their beautiful little secret privately.

Anyway, when they hired me, they asked for specifics:

1 - Four silhouettes, three of the Darling kids and one of Nana, their dog.
2 - Paint the pirate ship
3 - Paint their fireplace to look like marble
4 - A landscape above the fireplace (actually, three landscapes, but we didn't have room.)
5 - Some other things that I can't remember right now...

Here we have the two portraits which I painted on the scrim.  The scrim is material you can see through from backstage.  We had to have scrim here because the guys working the ropes for the fliers had to be able to see the fliers and the entire stage as they worked.  Safety is really important when you have fliers.  You have no idea.

Anyway, here we have Wendy and Nana, in progress. Everything has to be pretty big, so it can be seen from the back row.  I do a lot of walking from the stage to all points in the auditorium to make sure everything looks good from all viewpoints and angles.  Back and forth. Up and down. Back and forth.  Up and down.  Who needs a gym anyway?

I made Nana look kind of scruffy.You can see that closeup nothing looks very good, and it looks a little wrinkly, but, as in everything in theatre, when you get out in the audience, it does.  That's what counts.

Here I am climbing... again.  When I came in to do the silhouettes, there they were, hanging with the bottom of the frame just about at my eye level.  Great.  More climbing.
On the doghouse roof you can see some newsprint.  The photos were taken of each character and they printed them out for me.  In theater, an artist has to get in and out really fast because for some reason unbeknownst to me, there are actors and stage hands everywhere building, moving things, practicing and doing their jobs.  To help with this, I used the photo and drew the silhouettes on a table somewhere else in the building.  That gave me a few moments of peace to be able to concentrate.  Armed with the newsprint silhouette, I was able to get in, transfer the image and get each one painted in probably 15 minutes. This turned out to be a good thing, because in this case, the fliers came in to practice some flying before the show.

In light of this, the artist has one other consideration... in what order to do the work.  The work upon which the actors will be walking and touching has to be done after a practice, or the very first thing, so it has a chance to dry before they come in.  Think of the ramifications!  The costume people would not like me if I did these things in the wrong order!

Oh, I also fixed the doghouse to look - I think - charming.  They hammered on the nice bric-a-brac roof which added ever so much.  I laid down some light turquoise paint to give some variance and relief to the entire room and make it look cute and kind of ginger-bready.  I like it! And I like being able to use the words 'ginger-bready!'

Here you can see the portraits I did of the boys on the other side of the room.  Doesn't it look... darling? :)  Curtains, beds, everything.  I did NOT do those.  The curtains were so pretty and nice and billowy, perfect for peoples to hide behind.

This picture reflects the kind of contortions artists have to go through in order to get the job done.  There was no way I could balance on the dog house, so we had to get a ladder up there so I could have two solid footholds!  One solid foothold be not enough!

You can see next to the doghouse there's a little bureau; this is the bureau in which Tinkerbell gets trapped.  They rigged it behind the scrim so they could shake it up and make the drawer wiggle to make it look like she was trying to escape.
I like the panel of lights behind the scrim.  Porter High School really has the most beautiful theatre!  Honestly, they have so much to offer.  Lucky students.
If you're able, go down to see the show this weekend only.  Tonight and tomorrow are the only two shows left.  They put together their actors, choir people and band people for this production, and only do one show a year.  With a - I think I counted - 35 piece orchestra, they sounded great and the show is a perfect delight.  We laughed all the way through it.  It was also a delight to paint for them.

Once again, as in any production like this, the final show is the result of the work of ever so many people.  The combined efforts of probably 200 people, onstage and offstage, and many that have nothing to do with the stage, all coming together for a beautiful moment in time. 
Get your tickets for Peter Pan and GO!  You will be enriched for your little moment in Neverland.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Oh my GOODNESS! There is truly beauty everywhere. My inner child wanted to lick an icicle, but my inner adult sadly won. 

At least the adult in me said ‘well, if you can’t lick it, at least come up with a good composition!’ As an artist, my inner child is alive and well, but I continually have to rein her in.


This is unusual for Texas... we hardly ever get freezes, and then THIS!

Saturday, January 13, 2018

You Need Some Owly Fun!

My original owl painting is hanging at Fielding’s Wood Grill on Research Forest. It’s for sale along with these awesome owl stickers at

People love my owl painting, and so do I.  His name is Horatio.  The original Horatio was a skeleton my sets team hung up on Marooner's Rock in our show, Peter Pan.  You know, the rock from which Princess Tiger Lily was rescued!  To say that our skeleton didn't go over well is an understatement.

I was in San Antonio judging some art during opening night, so I missed it.  When we got back the next day for the Saturday night show, the entire cast and crew were in an uproar over our lovely skeleton!  He was taken down.  To the protest of almost everyone.

Anyway, we named our skeleton friend Horatio and he took on a life all his own, sneakily showing up in many shows after that... in one of the orphan's beds during Annie, on the tryst bridge in Sound of Music...

So... I named my lovely owl after our skeleton. :)  It makes me happy looking at him for oh so many reasons, not the least of which is his name.

My owl painting is done in layers, as is... well... all my work.  I love layers of paint and love being able to see through the layers to what's beneath.  Great colors and textures.

 I've got several pictures of him here so you can get the scale of the stickers.  The colors are glorious, aren't they?

 He's pictures here on my work desk.  Not too hard to see that THAT'S an artist's work desk!  What does YOUR desk look like?

Check out my website shown at the top of this article and let me know what you think!  And add some stickers to your collection to brighten up your notebooks, boxes and all your various sundry items.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Little Problem

It’s all good! Yesterday all I needed was one gloved finger, so today I was a little short. 

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Desktop Cats

This was an in-class demo for one of my Art 1 classes. Photographers can take care of cats as they are. As for me, I see them differently. 

I always work with Faber Castell's Pitt pens.  After trying just about every pen known to man, I landed upon them because they are the least prone to smearing when you hit them with water. 

Here's a typical day for my desk.  It's a continual balance between preparing for my classes and working on my own art.  Today I prepared a color chart for my older students and will have them make on next week.  It's part of my ploy to help them understand how the colors mix, and to get them to understand that watercolors need to be transparent.  I'm going to have them write the color names down as well, as I did.  Just the beginning of color understanding, hopefully that little addition will get a few interested in the origins of color.
What else? Let's see, a tape measure I used to measure a painting that's going out.  These days I always put the measurements on the back so I don't ever have to do it twice.
My little purse sketchpad in which I painted some pussywillows, after illustrating a story I was telling someone...
Brushes, mediums to mix with acrylics and my dirty paint water...
A little tin of hand lotion.  Always.  I use my hands so much and wash them so many times a day that they get DRY.  I also use... oh... I forget what it's called, Liquid Gloves?  Works pretty well, along with some similar products.

Oh, I can't forget the pile of papers... never ending.  

That's about it!

Monday, January 8, 2018

This is part of my painting ‘King.’ If your room looks blah this guy will move in and take over with force! For sale at 

Ahoy, Mateys!

I’m working for Porter High School, painting sets for their upcoming show, Peter Pan.  Here I am with their pirate ship, almost done.  I need to add just a few finishing touches to it.

Generally for theater I paint the sets in layers.  Without the layers, the sets are going to look flat and boring, pieced together like they actually are!  I like the first layer to be a medium lightness, so I can add both darks and lights for interest and depth.  With this particular piece, I and my young assistant Hannah (thank YOU, Hannah!) first ragged the black on over the light brown to give the illusion of wood.  After that, splatters of black, yellow and red. 

Hannah did the work on the wheel and the roof (because I, dear reader, am afraid of heights.)  Before we began, the handles on the wheel were black and the wood needed some aging.  We liked the yellow handles; now they pop and will be seen by the audience.  I'm toying with the idea of giving those yellow handles little red caps.  That will bring together the reds and help unify everything.  What... you haven't seen a pirate ship like that?  Well, wait until you see the Peter Pan costumes!

This is going to be fun!