Friday, July 6, 2018

Process for Amongst Ages Past

I used preparatory drawings of clothing, architecture and accessories, referenced master paintings and worked directly from life with a model to create this painting "Amongst Ages Past".  This piece is a part of The Great Library series and book I am developing.  A sample of the book can be seen on my website

Every day scholars would pass from towering temples to breathtaking pyramids.  Centuries of achievement for Kings and Queens in that land inspired wonder.


The process started with a linear drawing of the portrait to establish the shape, proportion and structure of the face.  This drawing was transferred to canvas using an oil transfer method. Doug Flynt describes this transfer method on his blog here.

I began this portrait in the studios of Grand Central Atelier.  Over the course of three weeks I worked from the live model to paint the portrait.  Each day I progressively painted one form at a time.  I had a general idea for the tone of the background so I painted the border a color I thought would establish the contrast I intended for the piece.  It was more manageable to adjust the softness of contour edges while both the portrait and the edge of the background were wet.  Although I changed the value of this border in places while working on the background later, the initial border color set up a base that was easier to develop upon.

Compositions and Color Study
I tried out some in quick composition sketches.  I settled on the simpler design on the left.

After making the composition sketches I had a sense for where I wanted to place the architecture, clothing and accessories.  Then I made a small study for the piece.  I took a picture of my painting as it had progressed so far and printed it out much smaller.  I explored options for color relationships in the background on this study before I added the scene to the final piece.

Preparatory Drawings
I completed a number of drawings from life to utilize as references while painting the clothing, architecture and bag strap on her shoulder.

I used graphite and white charcoal to make this drawing of the shirt and satchel strap on myself in a mirror.

I visited the Egyptian Temple of Dendur at the  Metropolitan Museum of Art to make this study.  I gained more clarity about details such as chips and the structure of the building elements by drawing the temple from life.  Also, this drawing study gave me a sense of how subdued the contrast appears on the hieroglyphs in life.

I referenced master paintings to inform ways to describe the texture and form of objects.  A few of the paintings I referenced are shown below.

I referenced Bouguereau's Girl with a Pomegrante in painting the clothing.

I studied a painting by Hubert Robert to see how to incorporate the texture and color of ancient bricks.
The relief sculpture in Frederic Leighton's Self Portrait was helpful in getting a sense of  subtle suggestions of form while painting the hieroglyphs.

The background in Alma Tadema's The Colesium was referenced in painting the sky.

This image of Egyptian architecture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art guided me in choosing the color for the wall.  Many details were not as clear in this image as when I was making my drawing study from life.

Drawing on Canvas

The design for the piece in the color study guided me in placing the architecture and clothing on the canvas. After painting a layer for the background of the wall I drew the hieroglyphs.  I used vine charcoal to draw with because it is easy to erase.  After the proportions were established with line I was ready to move onto painting the hieroglyphs.

Blocking - In the Hieroglyphs

I painted the larger planes of shadow and upturned areas on the hieroglyphs somewhat loosely to suggest a texture for the wall.   I kept this layer on average a bit darker than the final value I intended for the wall.  I did this because I would be adding another layer on top with broken brush strokes that would be brighter in value to suggest texture.  The contrast of the darker under layer poking through the broken brush strokes in the next layer would create an appearance of a rougher surface.  I used this technique in painting textures of all the objects in the background, including the wall, sky, clothing and satchel strap.  In the sky the lighter layer was used to suggest a softer atmosphere.

After a layer for the entire painting was in place I set the piece aside for a while.  Returning to the canvas I applied a layer of retouch varnish over the painting to bring back areas that had lost their gloss during the drying process.  Paint often dulls in value after oils that are on top of the surface while the paint is wet are later absorbed into the canvas while drying. This layer of retouch varnish or oil restores the value and color to how it was initially painted and would return to in a final varnish.  I primarily used oil during the painting process to restore the color of areas that I would be working on top of or next to.  The mixture I used consisted of a ratio of 2 parts Odorless Mineral Spirits and 1 part Walnut Oil, which produces quite a clear medium. 

With the actual color of the piece restored I then evaluated areas that stood out for me to adjust and made notes on reasons for making changes.  I proceeded to address these concerns one by one while revising the painting.  I would use Oleogel as a medium to slightly thin out paint while making revisions

Below are a few close up images of the painting with the added layer of texture and revisions.

More posts on the process behind my paintings will be shared soon.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Thank You Grand Central Atelier!

I am very fortunate to have graduated from Grand Central Atelier this Spring.  I have much gratitude to all my teachers throughout the program, Jacob Collins, Colleen Barry, Will St. John, Scott Waddell, Ted Minoff, Tony CuranajJosh LaRock, Devin Cecil- Wishing, Justin WoodAnthony Baus, Patrick Byrnes, Greg Mortenson, Katie Engberg, Brendan Johnston, Katie Whipple, Sally Fama Cochrane, Zoe Dufour, Charlie Mostow and Sandra Sanchez, school administrators, Joy, Justine and Mariya, all the fantastic models, inspiring resident artists and fellow students, art history lecturer, Michael Djordjevitch and everyone who has been so supportive of my endeavors, for making my studies at Grand Central Atelier such an amazing experience.  Thank you.  With your help I have been able to significantly improve the technical expression in my paintings. 

Below are a few paintings in progress from the past month at Grand Central Atelier.  These pieces are being developed as part of a series on scholars from the ancient library of Alexandria.  The paintings are designed to be compiled into an exhibition and book.  To preview the book, "The Great Library" visit here.

"Archimedes Thoughtful" Oil on linen, 20 x 22 inches (in progress)
Color study for final painting
Archimedes was one of the ancient world's most revered mathematicians and engineers.  His research into geometrical theories proved  methods for calculating the density of objects.  These discoveries led to calculating the volume of the universe measured by how many grains of sand could fit into it.  His desire to determine a finite boundary was based on a view of the sun and moon rotating around the earth.  The astronomer, Aristarchus, proposed that the earth rotated around the sun and the expanse of the universe to be vastly larger than it was perceived at the time, maybe infinite.

He suggested that the earth's orbit rotating around the sun was so small that it compared to the size the center of a sphere has in relation to its boundary.  A center could be divided infinitely.  Archimedes could not accept the idea of determining the limit of an infinitely large universe that rotated around the sun.  This conflict left the mathematician caught between a finite and indeterminably large view of the universe.

 "Eratosthenes" Oil on linen, 15 x 19 inches (in progress)

Color study for final painting

 In depth wonder led many scholars from the library of Alexandria to make notable discoveries.  Eratosthenes discovered the circumference of the world.

By finding that Alexandria and Syene (modern day Aswan) lie on the same Longitude  he calculated their distance on  a summer solstice.  He began by assuming that the sun was so far away that its rays were parallel.  Noting that the sun cast no shadow in Syene, when seeing a man's shadow block the reflection of the sun into a well, he calculated the angle of the shadow from a stick in Alexandria.  This allowed him to find the proportion of difference in the distance from Syene to Alexandria along the scale of the earth's circle.  He knew the 7 degree angle shown from the shadow in Alexandria to be 1/50​th​ of a circle.  Therefore, the distance from Alexandria to Syene was equal to 1/50th of a complete circle.  By multiplying the distance of Syene to Alexandria, 5,000 stadia, by 50 Eratosthenes calculated the earth’s circumference.
These are only a few pieces of many that are being painted for this series on scholars from the library of Alexandria.  I will post updates as the series develops into completion.  There is much more to come.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Atelier Exhbition

Four of my paintings will continue to be on view in Grand Central Atelier's "Atelier Exhibition through August 23rd, 2018.

Summer Viewings: May 26th - August 23rd,  Saturdays 12 - 4 PM, Thursdays 3 - 7 PM

Located at Grand Central Atelier, 46 - 06 11th Street, Long Island City, NY 11101

The other two paintings on view are shown below.
 "Limitless" Oil on Linen, 9 x 11 inches
"Moonlight Monk" Oil on Linen, 9 x 12 inches

Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Great Library ( Preview )

I have been developing a book about scholars from the ancient library of Alexandria.  In the largest library of the ancient world everyone wanted to make the greatest discovery.

Below is a preview of the book.  I am currently working towards completing the remaining paintings for the book.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Grand Central Atelier Year End Show

I will have a number of pieces on display in Grand Central Atelier's Year End Show.  The reception is May 17th, 6 - 9 PM.  The exhibition is on display May 19th - 20th, 12 - 6 PM.  The exhibition is free and open to the public. Located at 46 - 06 11th Street, Long Island City, NY 11101.

Inquires are welcome.  Please contact,

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Small Beauties Exhibition

I will have my drawing "Explore" on display in Era Contemporary's Small Beauties Exhibition.  The exhibition will be on display in Philadelphia, PA on February 23rd and New York, NY on February 25th, 2018.   The New York event is free and open to the public.  The Philadelphia exhibition requires a $15 ticket at the door.

For more information, please visit

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Salmagundi Black and White Exhibition

My painting "Philosopher" will be on display in The Salmagundi Club's Black and White Exhibition from January 29th through February 1st, 2018.   The reception is on February 1st from 6 - 9 PM.  An RSVP is required only for the reception.  Please email me at by January 31st to RSVP.

General Public viewing hours are Mon - Fri, 1 - 6 PM & Sat - Sun, 1 - 5 PM

The gallery will be closed on January 31st and February 7th.

Located at 47 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10003.

For more information, please visit

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Salmagundi Scholarship and Junior Member's Exhibition

Fine artist, Arthur Haywood, will have five pieces on display in The Salmagundi Club's Scholarship and Junior Member's Exhibition from January 8th through 25th, 2018.   The reception is on January 11th from 6 - 9 PM.

Viewing hours are Mon - Fri, 1 - 6 PM & Sat - Sun, 1 - 5 PM
Located at 47 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10003.

For more information, please visit

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Copying at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

 Ingres Copy of Jacques-Louis Leblanc, 8"x10" Oil on Linen

As an artist working to convey a subject’s character while studying the subtleties of human form from life I am constantly tasked to choose specific aspects of the model to include.  All master works of art present a series of important decisions that effectively depict the reality of a subject’s mood.  Through studying what master artists have noted I gain insight into ways of portraying a subject to convey a particular sensibility.   I recently have had the opportunity to copy Ingres at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in their Copyist Program.

The opportunity to copy in front of the actual painting allowed me to study the piece in its highest resolution, which revealed more aspects of the piece to me than just copying from a reproduction.  For example, by studying the painting in person I could more clearly see the range of how thickly he applied paint to highlight areas versus how thinly he left other sections of the portrait, how paint strokes were applied in a perpendicular direction to the angle of light for representing form and how he layered paint in the background to suggest atmosphere.  I learned a lot from Ingres' incredible painting and am sharing some of the things I learned and the process I followed in this post.

Image from
 James Gurney made a blog post on area by area painting,, that mentioned this study above completed by one of Ingres students.  This study demonstrates the process of completing a painting one form at a time.

I researched an article published by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, "'Portraits by Ingres: Image of an Epoch': Reflections, Technical Observations, Addenda, and Corrigenda": Metropolitan Museum Journal, v. 35 (2000) ,
, The article notes that "Ingres usually prepared his paintings with lead white grounds over which he would sketch in his composition in a dry medium such as pencil or black chalk." On top of this drawing the layers of paint would be applied.  Ingres paintings are observed to reveal a procedure without much glazing for correcting.  The article states, "La Belle Zlie (cat. no. 8; Figure 5) is a tour de force of Ingres's early career, painted in a very direct manner with only the minor revisions noted"  Furthermore, the article states, "... the portraits of Moltedo, Queen Caroline Murat (cat. no. 34) and Gouriev. Here, the fluidity of medium and the openness of execution, with gaps at the junctures of forms revealing a warm pinkish underlayer".  This observation seems to suggest that the thinner pink areas between individual forms are a result of a pinker underlayer showing through where the artist was thinly attaching to a previously painted form during subsequent painting sessions.

 I have found focusing on one form at a time to allow for more concentration on developing each area within a given time frame.

After completing a linear block-in I transferred my drawing to the canvas with an oil transfer.  Then I completed a thin underpainting with oil paint diluted with Odorless Mineral Spirits, in this picture seen in the cheek, mouth, chin and hair.   This underpainting served as a base layer so that if the translucency of oil paint in the more opaque final layer did not completely cover the ground, the underlayer showing through would be closer in color and value to the final layer than the white of the canvas.  

According to the article from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Ingres used an underlayer for this painting.  The article states, "that of Monsieur Leblanc has a brown-red imprimatura".  I can imagine that he used a slightly thicker underpainting based on how I noticed colors mixed with lead white were covering my underpainting.  Because my underpainting was so thin and lead white can be quite translucent I had a difficult time entirely covering up my underpainting in some places.  If my underpainting was thicker than the underlayer would be closer to my final colors and the final layer of paint would sit more opaquely on top of an underpainting that already had more paint.


I worked on a smooth oil primed linen, ArtFix 84C.  I used two different sets of colors for this copy.  At first for the initial two sessions I used the colors I normally use for my painting, which included modern colors that wouldn't have been available to Ingres during the 19th century.  That palette consisted of Titanium White, Cadmium Yellow, Cadmium Orange, Cadmium Red, Yellow Ochre, Transparent Brown Oxide, Raw Umber, Ivory Black and I did use some Flake White to more thickly apply highlights.  

I was used to the opacity of Titanium White but after I switched to a palette that included Flake White and colors that would have been available during the 19th century I noticed a difference in the translucency of the paint quality that seemed closer to the finish in Ingres painting than when I was using the more opaque Titanium White on my palette.    I can imagine that Ingres' palette was similar to David's palette.  According to Birren's "The history of color in painting", David used oils that consisted of red and yellow earth colors and the addition of Chrome Yellow and the purest form of Vermilion in his later paintings.  The palette I used for the rest of the copy included Flake White, Naples Yellow, Cadmium Yellow (they had "Chrome Yellow" in the 19th century but the closest approximation I could find to that color was Cadmium Yellow), Yellow Ochre, Transparent Brown Oxide, Vermilion, Chinese Vermilion, Venetian Red, Raw Umber and Ivory Black.

I developed this copy one form at a time.  I focused on individual sections within each three hour copy session. While studying each individual form I observed ways that Ingres described features of the portrait.

 One of the most captivating aspects of his painting that I was studying is its incredible specificity to paint each moment of the curve of form on every feature. A distinct value and color are opaquely painted with each brush stroke to describe form with a three dimensional tangible quality that brings the portrait to life. It was as if he built the portrait out of tiny blocks of paint strokes that seamlessly bend into each other.  Additionally,  I was studying how the individual features flow naturally into each other in his painting, such as the cheek merging into the mouth along a curved pathway.  It is as if all of the forms hug the curve of the forms they merge into and flow into each other like waves following a current.  By studying the painting in person I could more clearly see the range of how thickly he applied paint to highlight areas versus how thinly he left other sections of the portrait and how he layered paint in the background to suggest atmosphere.

For as seamlessly Ingres could merge forms into each other he also specified areas with clear straight divisions at times to clarify distinctions between features.  I noticed in the shadow shape of the eyebrows how the straightness of parts of the shape added strength and clarity to balance the more curved areas of the portrait.

 I noticed a strong clarity to shapes of shadows that in some cases was enhanced by grouping the shadows with other dark areas.  In the eyes I noticed that he would group the shadow shape of the upper eyelid to the cast shadow and pupil shape which created a dynamic unified shape.  The turn into the eye from the upper eyelid was subtly blended from the value of the eyelash shape softening into it to suggest the last bit of curving down into the eye. By just subtly using the softness of the shadow shape to turn the form he maximized the use of the strong unified shape of the shadow on the eye.

In terms of color I noticed Ingres used a strong sense of value and form to guide the progression of color decreasing in intensity as forms turned away from the light.  For how bright his painting appears at a glance it was surprising to see how much of this painting is vastly grayer than the brightest and most intense area on the forehead.

There are many other aspects of this painting that gave me insight into how Ingres made effective decisions to powerfully describe the sitter in this portrait but these were a few that stood out to me.

I also made a smaller color study to reference the larger color and value relationships while working on my final painting.

I am very fortunate to have had the opportunity to study one of my favorite paintings at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and learned so much from the experience.  There is an exhibition of the copies from the Fall Copyist Program this Friday, December 15th, from 5 - 6 PM at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in the Uris Center for Education in the Carroll Classroom.  The address is 1000 Fifth Avenue, 81st Street Entrance, New York, NY 10028.

For more information on the Copyist program at The Metropolitan Museum of Art please visit,

- "Portraits by Ingres: Image of an Epoch": Reflections, Technical Observations, Addenda, and Corrigenda"
Gary Tinterow - Charlotte Hale - Eric Bertin - Metropolitan Museum Journal - 2000
- Birren, Faber. 1964. The history of color in painting. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, Inc.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Fall Classes

This Fall I will be teaching a Foundations Course consisting of Master Copy and Still Life Painting.  The class is in session from September 17th through October 22nd.  For more information please visit,

Monday, August 14, 2017

On View

My painting "Horizon" will be on view at The Salmagundi Club from August 14th through 25th, 2017.  For more information, please visit

Sunday, May 28, 2017

One Plane At A Time

 "Hope Floats", Oil on Linen, 16 x 20 inches

I have been learning a step by step approach to color painting at Grand Central Atelier that I used in creating my painting "Hope Floats".  This post outlines steps I used in the process of this painting.

I began the process by making a small simplified color study of the model and background.  In this color study I applied broad planes to describe the form and light effect.  For each plane I interpret its color based based on 3 aspects, Hue, Value and Intensity (Chroma).

Hue -  Includes colors that range from yellow, red, purple, blue and green.
Source: Wikipedia
Value- Lightness or darkness of a color.
Source: Wikipedia
Chroma - Intensity of a color from neutral to most intense.
Source: Wikipedia

More examples of how I adjust colors according to these three properties is described in a previous blog post I wrote here.

Color Study
I use the color study as a map for the organization of my final painting.  In my final painting process I work slowly on one form at a time and reference the larger organization of the color study to help me stay on track.  I use the colors of the planes in my color study to set up my palette.  I use a palette knife to mix piles of paint that match the large planes of color for a form on my color study.  The range of these colors can be viewed as stepping stones along a path of form.  I often match my mixtures to the color study by not only holding my palette knife up to the study but also by placing a dab of paint onto the study to see if it blends in.

Setting up the Palette

I refer to these mixtures on the palette by considering that if in the color study the large planes were the average of a given area then that color mixture on the palette is at least as light and chromatic as the average color.  Of course I will extend beyond that average mixture as I paint but having it on the palette helps me to stay organized.  Keeping this in mind I set up a string of color, seen in the middle, that links the stepping stones of my mixed piles of paint to create a range of intermediate values.  Below this middle string I use the same mixed colors and add a bit of Raw Umber to the string to neutralize the colors for the option of needing more neutral versions of a color while painting.  With these two strings and the tubed colors on my palette, which offer more opportunity to  adjust aspects of color, I have all the range on my palette needed while painting.  I use the space above my original string to adjust the colors from my premixed piles accordingly to changes I observe on the model.  I often make this area more red in hue and more intense in chroma.

Painting One Plane at a Time

I proceed by starting with the original string on my palette, in the middle, and adjust it as I observe the model.  Although I often stay a bit more red in hue and chromatic in color, for the most part the changes are not drastically different from the original string and I more or less go up and down the premixed original string as I paint the values of form.

To make the process of painting more manageable I approach each form by considering one plane at a time.  Often I first apply the color of the shadow in the shadow area of a form.  Then I begin modeling with the plane on a form that is most faced towards the direction of the light source.  So I start at the top of my premixed string and with each subsequent plane along the curve of form I work my way down the string towards the shadow color.  I consider how much each new plane should bend away from the previous plane to represent the specific curve of form on the model.  With each new plane that tips away from the light most facing area its value and color are adjusted in relation to how much it is tipped away from the light.  I consider the value, chroma and hue of each new plane as I apply them.  I place a priority in focus on value while adding new planes.  The pathway of planes generally continues to curve progressively darker and less intense in chroma until it reaches the shadow edge.

I repeat the same analysis of planes along a new pathway of form just below the previous pathway.  This process continues until I create as many pathways needed to reach the bottom of a form.

 Once the complete form is laid in I can reflect on the larger context of the form and can adjust individual planes that need to bend towards or away from the light, or that need to shift in hue or chroma.  I try to approach this stage of the painting carefully by determining the change that would best refine the form and adjust one plane at a time to move towards improvement.  Although I still struggle with controlling what to anticipate in how much my new decisions may alter the wet paint on the surface I have realized that I have more control over my intentions.  The more clear I can be about what needs to change in an area the closer my intentions are to the painted adjustment and using a system of organization on the palette has made controlling my intentions more manageable.  During this stage I often bend the original larger planes I used on the pathways into smaller planes to refine the curve of form.  But I have found that by focusing on one plane at at time I can focus more on the specificity of changes in color while turning form.

Thanks to the help from all my teachers at Grand Central Atelier who taught me so much about modeling form in value and color this year, Jacob Collins, Ted Minoff, Will St. John, Colleen Barry, Patrick Byrnes, Katie Engberg, Anthony Baus, Scott Waddell, Tony Curanaj, Brendan Johnston, Devin Cecil-Wishing and Justin Wood.