Friday, July 5, 2019

Mural Arts Artists Show

My painting Egyptian Mathematics will be on display in Mural Arts' Artists Show from July 5th - August 2nd. The piece is a part of my book, My book "The Great Library", available at This book is an overview of scholars from the ancient library of Alexandria in Egypt.
The reception is July 12th, 5:30 - 7:30 PM
Located at 1727 Mount Vernon St, Philadelphia, PA 19130

Viewing Hours: Mon - Fri 9 - 5 PM

Monday, July 1, 2019

Summer Workshops at Moore College of Art

I will be teaching two drawing workshops for high school students at Moore College of Art this summer. Drawing Foundations, July 8 - 12 and Expressive Portrait Drawing, July 22 - 28. To register visit or call 215 - 965 - 4030

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Paintings, Book and Print Sale at Arts in the Park

I will have my book, "The Great Library", original paintings from the book and prints for sale at Arts in The Park. The book is an overview of scholars from the ancient library of Alexandria in Egypt.

The event is on Sunday, June 2nd from 10 - 5 PM in my hometown of Cheltenham, PA.  Located at High School Park. Montgomery Ave. & High School Road, Elkins Park, PA 19027

The book is also available on and
Prints are also available at

Saturday, May 11, 2019

The Great Library Book Now Available
My book "The Great Library" is an overview of scholars from the ancient library of Alexandria in Egypt. In the largest library of the ancient world everyone wanted to make the greatest discovery. Yet one astronomer overcame the odds and proved how the earth turns.

For updates on book events and sales, join my Art Newsletter

Friday, April 12, 2019

Pencil Kings Interview

I was recently interviewed on the Pencil Kings Podcast by Mitch Bowler.  We discussed my book The Great Library and how I developed my approach from learning in different schools including Grand Central Atelier, Cambridge Street Studios and the Maryland Institute College of Art.

The podcast can also be listened to on Itunes , Stitcher and
Thank you for sharing my story Mitch. And thank you to all of my teachers and classmates that I have learned from and been inspired by as well as family and friends that support me.

My book, The Great Library can be viewed on my website at

I also should mention that I have tutorials on the process that I have used for my work on my blog, to share the steps to my approach with learners online. I have described ideas that I have been learning about during my classical painting and drawing education up to the present.

For me, developing my work has been a matter of practice and guidance. I have been fortunate to get a lot of practice from life. But there are online ways of online learning that share these steps of classical drawing and painting. Such as Scott Waddell's video tutorials on . Some of his shorter tutorials are on youtube at . He also has an Online Teaching Program . Scott Waddell was a really influential teacher for me that I studied with at Grand Central Atelier .  Other influential teachers that I studied with at Grand Central Atelier who have video tutorials which introduce this process are Jacob Collins, Joshua Larock , Gregory Mortenson Devin Cecil-Wishing , Doug Flynt , Tony Curanaj and Edward Minoff and the Evolve artist program that Mitch Bowler is working with also has very informative art tutorials that are great.

Other Links mentioned in the podcast:

Grand Central Atelier:
Maryland Institute College of Art:
Cambridge Street Studios:

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Process from Such Great Heights

Such Great Heights, Graphite, 14 x 21 inches
(Image Courtesy of Arch Enemy Arts Gallery)

This piece began with a linear drawing from life. I established the boundaries of individual features, the overall figure and areas in shadow. The line drawing of the figure took about 12 hours. I started with larger relationships of shapes and broke those shapes into smaller shapes to become more specific. I refined the line drawing by evaluating how the linear boundaries described the dimension of individual forms.

First I filled in the shadows to a solid value. I drew the portrait by focusing on one form at a time. I concentrated on using gradations to represent how subtly each form turned darker as it curved away from the light. For example, within each 4 hour session with the model I would complete a nose or the forehead. After the line drawing, the entire portrait took about 40 hours to render.

This is how far I got on the portrait by the end of the month's pose while I was studying at Grand Central Atelier.

I wanted to turn this drawing into a narrative piece about a hiker's achievement and exploration. This small composition study was one of many that allowed me to quickly explore how I could alter the pose and background to tell a story.

  I printed out my portrait drawing at a small scale and drew different versions.

I used a mirror to draw the clothing on myself from life. Since I would move from time to time I started with larger proportions of the figure and major folds. Then I drew one area at a time when I could hold still. For example I started with the glove.

The completed clothing study.
I had to do a separate study of the knee because I wanted a different angle.

I went to the Academy of Natural Sciences to draw the eagle and rocks.

I went to Pennypack Park to draw the waterfall.

I compiled each of these studies digitally to scale them together.  I also experimented with contrast and value relationships. Then I printed this design so I could transfer the boundaries of the clothing and  background onto my drawing.

I had a vertical and horizontal level line established on my drawing. I used the orientation of this line to align my transfer print on the drawing.

I rubbed a 6B graphite pencil on the back of the print and used a ball point pen on top of the print  to go over the outlines of the clothing and background.

The areas where I pressed down left a line of graphite on the drawing. It was quite light in value at first (as seen in the picture right arm). I went over these lines with again with pencil to darken the lines.

I placed some glassine paper over the portrait while doing the transfer to prevent graphite from getting on it. Then I filled in the shadow areas with graphite.  After this I used powdered graphite to  fill in large areas of value. For example the rock in the picture above.

I used a synthetic brush to spread powdered graphite on my drawing. After the areas of value were massed in I used a pencil to refine the forms. I mostly used 2H, H, HB and 2B Steadler pencils.

The preliminary studies really helped to make the final drawing progress faster. I was able to figure out more of how the forms and values were organized at first. The actual drawing on the clothing and background on this piece, after it was transferred, took me about 3 days.

(Image Courtesy of Arch Enemy Arts Gallery)

This drawing is at Arch Enemy Arts for the 7 Year Anniversary show from April 5th - 27th, 2019.

The exhibition is free and open to the public.

Viewing: Wed - Sat   12 - 5  PM

Located at Arch Enemy Arts, 109 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106

To inquire about the drawing please contact the gallery at

Monday, April 8, 2019

Portrait Drawing Process

This portrait began with a linear drawing.  I established the shape and dimension of the features and the overall head. I also considered the boundaries of the shadow shapes on each form. I lightly filled in the shadow areas.

I filled in the shadow areas to a solid value first. Then I began rendering the simple form of the nose. I started on the ball of the nose which is spherical. I moved onto the wing of the nose and then the bridge of the nose.

I thought of modeling on each form based on how much each area of the form turned towards or away from the direction of the light.  According to this concept the form becomes incrementally darker as areas turn more away from the light most facing area.

Every form is curved and spherical to an extent. Drawing different forms in the portrait, such as the nose, was just an extension of this idea to differently shaped forms.

I progressed the portrait by focusing on one form at a time.  This made it more manageable to organize the gradations that curve with form.  This process also made it easier to evaluate how my gradations represent the curvature of the form. Each form is isolated so I can focus more intensely on organizing the gradations that describe its volume.

I build each form by creating curves of gradation. I add one curve next to the previous until the form is laid in. An initial curve of gradation is like the one seen in the cast drawing below. 

It's like creating a sculpture with value, one curve of form at a time. I think of the white of the paper as being a piece of marble and my pencil as a chisel. The more I turn an area darker the more I am pushing it away from the light. When I turn an area too far away from the light I use my eraser to tip the area more back towards the light.

This is a slow process of working towards the final resolution on each form. I find that I have to do less reworking with this approach.  I try to be as specific as I can when initially rendering each form. After building each form with curves of gradation I spend time organizing the volume of the form. Each feature, such as the nose, forehead, cheek and mouth took me about 4 - 6 hours to draw.

The decisions I make on earlier forms inform additional forms. As I moved into the cheek I based the values on the relationship to the orientation to the forehead. Much of the cheek is more turned away from the light than the forehead.

The drawing progressed based on the volume of the portrait. An edge of the hair was added to give a context to the value range.  Then I drew the remaining forms of the ear, neck and hair.

 I added the background with powdered graphite that I diluted with water. The value range was set up in the portrait. I wanted the hair to be the darkest value. To make the background recede, the more narrow value range of the background was drawn in relationship to the darkness of the hair.

Independent Scholar, Graphite, 4 x 5 inches

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Philadelphia Sketch Club Small Oils

Two paintings from my Library of Alexandria series are on display in the Philadelphia Sketch Club's Annual Small Oils Exhibition.

The pieces on the flyer,

"Ancient Wonder" (8 x 10 inches), focuses on how the wonders of the galaxy’s depth captivated many in the ancient world. The armillary sphere on this astronomer's shelf alludes to the study of stars in the galaxy.

"Limitless Galaxy" (9 x 11 inches), reflects on how all the knowledge accumulated in the past leaves inspiration for how much can still be discovered in a limitless galaxy.

These works are a part of a series about scholars from the library of Alexandria in Egypt and how they influence aspirations for learning. More pieces and the book being developed from the series can be viewed at

The show will be on display from April 1st- April 30th, 2019.  The exhibition is free and open to the public.

Viewing: Wed, Fri, Sat & Sun   1 - 5  PM

The Reception is April 28th , 2 - 4 PM 

Located at the Philadelphia Sketch Club, 235 South Camac Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107
To inquire about the piece please contact the gallery at

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Artwork in Fine Art Connoisseur Magazine

I am honored to have my painting "I Will Be Brave" in the March/April issue of Fine Art Connoisseur. 
The feature "When Artists Depict Themselves" focuses on self-portraits by fine artists. I am humbled to be included.

The magazine is available at and in Kindle version on and

Monday, January 7, 2019

Process from a Library Mural Design

Click Images to View larger
"The Wonder of Reading"
Mock Design for the Parkway Central Library
1901 Vine St, Philadelphia, PA 

This design developed as student assignment in Philadelphia's Mural Art's Mural Training Program. My work celebrates academic achievements and aspirations of diverse people. This mural design was an opportunity to explore expanding my work to a public context.  My design for the wall above the entrance stairway in the Parkway Central Library is composed to visualize how reading can bring stories to life. As the people read, characters appear in the clouds of their imagination.  A galloping stallion in front of the Colosseum transitions into an ancient pharaoh.
 I chose this space because as a free library it is an accessible place for learning. The Parkway Central Library offers reading resources that are essential to broadening one’s awareness and in creating opportunities for people. The architecture of the round lunette in this staircase presented an opportunity to suggest the illusion of another world behind the horizontal cornice. This illusion intends to create a sense that a world where learning is vastly captivating exists within the library.

This image was created through digitally compiling drawings and paintings that I made from life. The Colosseum was referenced from Hubert Robert’s ​Colosseum ​ and the trees were referenced from William Bouguereau’s Rest.  This post describes the step by step process I took in designing and painting a section of this mural.


This design developed as a student assignment in Philadelphia's Mural Art's Mural Training Program.  As part of the Mural Training Program with Dave McShane, I benefited from lectures about aspects of mural making, from the logistics of budgeting and contracts to the process for proposing and completing a mural.  I designed a mural for a site of my choice (the Parkway Central Library) and received feedback from the class.  Each student  had the opportunity to paint a scaled 5 by 5 foot section of their design on our own.  I will be describing the steps I went through for this project.  It took me about 45 hours to prepare the digital design.

 Composition Sketches

I began by making a few composition sketches to see how my ideas visualized.  These were mostly used to explore the placement of figures in relation to each other.

I took a picture of the library wall and digitally erased the space for the lunette. I printed the image out and drew a design for the space that was based on my composition sketches and informed by old master paintings.

 Composition Studies
I was really inspired by how Tiepolo's frescoes in the Würzburg Residence use perspective and the architecture to create the illusion of another world. So I made a few composition studies of his work to help me organize my composition.
Tiepolo's frescoes in Würzburg Residence
I was inspired by the drama in Tiepolo's painting.  For my mural design I based the pose of the person reading and pointing to the Pharaoh on this part of Tiepolo's painting.

These studies mainly focused on the grouping of dark and light values.  Tiepolo's work has a lot of drama which seemed to be influenced by the diagonals that lead to focal points at the top of triangular shapes.  It also helped to see how much the contrasts of value created a sense of drama and the areas of most focus had the most contrast of value.

I made my first design for this idea using my own drawings and old master paintings for areas that I didn't have references for at the time.  For example, in this image, the horse is from a Ruben's painting and the figure pointing is from Tiepolo's fresco.

This was another idea I had to incorporate the entire space of the wall but it seemed too much to take on when we only had a month to design the mural.

Preparatory Drawings & Paintings
I made preparatory drawings for my design from life.  I just used myself to work from and altered the proportions with references to old master paintings for female subjects.
I didn't have enough information for the hands in my figure study so I made additional drawings of the hands. These hand drawings took me about 6 hours each.  I made a few anatomical studies on the side to help determine where forms were actually ending.
I made these painted hand studies for reference to the color while I would be painting.  They took about 3 hours each.  Painting the one of my right hand with my left hand was interesting.

I was trying to follow a method of premilinary studies that many artists used in the past before beginning a painting.  I found that the less guessing I have to do while painting the quicker it goes.  For me, speed is a matter of implementing a series of steps at a paced progression.  The clearer I can be about what those steps are the more quickly the painting goes.

I was inspired by William Bouguereau's preliminary  hand studies, below, that he would do in preparation for most of his paintings.
William Bouguereau Hand Studies

These figure drawings took about 6 hours each while working from a mirror.  It took me about 60 hours to make the preparatory studies for this design.

While I was studying at Grand Central Atelier I really benefited from Colleen Barry's Structure Drawing class.  Each week we would take a break from our 80 hour long pose figure paintings and focus on 20 hour figure drawings to learn the essentials of the block-in and describing the structure of form in an efficient way. Her class really helped me to learn about ways to condense the understanding I was gaining during the longer poses so I could abbreviate form and focus on the most important aspects.  The shape of the contour block-in attains the illusion of light when the shape and dimension of the shadow are combined with a considered turn of value into the shadow.  These fundamental aspects of the drawing can describe enough about a form by itself to be used as a painting reference.  These insights have really helped me while creating preparatory studies for this mural design and while working on mural paintings.

I drew the Caribou from taxidermy at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia.
Both the Moose and Horse were drawn from statues at the Washington Monument in Philadelphia.
I made additional drawings of the props from life.

I had portraits that were drawn and painted from life during my studies at Grand Central Atelier.  I used them to incorporate into my design.  Each of these studies took from 50 - 80 hours.
I worked from a teracotta cast of Charles Cordier's Nubian man sculpture. 

Using these references, I digitally compiled them into the mural design.

Painting Process

I printed a 5 by 5 foot section of the mural to scale and transferred the drawing onto the cloth.  I rubbed graphite onto the back of the print.  When I pressed down on the outline around each object with the pressure of a pen a mark was pressed onto the cloth.
I tried to follow the dimensions of my design as carefully as possible so I thought about the dimension of each line as I transferred it. 
After the graphite transfer was completed I inked the drawing with an archival Micron pen so my lines would not disappear as I painted a watered down underpainting over them. 
I used Burnt Umber to paint my underpainting.  This stage allowed me to set up the value range for the painting without having to be overwhelmed by color.  I started by establishing my shadow values, which were the darkest end of my value range.

To make the process quicker I would mass in a general value for each subject and then tip the form towards the light with white or away from the light with more burnt umber.  This process felt more like working a drawing on toned paper.

Color Mixing
I mixed cups of colors for the painting before I started.  A benefit of being in the Mural Training Program was that we were supplied with the acrylic paint.
I used Titanium White, Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber, Cadmium Yellow, Cadmium Red, Venetian Red,  Black, Ultramarine Blue and Cerulean Blue to mix cups of colors for the painting.

I mixed a lightest, mid value and shadow color for each object in the painting according to the colors in my design.  Each cup was labeled with the object the color was for.
I set my palette by placing my pre-mixed colors around the edges and creating a gradation to pull from in the center.  I just use a plastic plate for my palette and scraped it off between sessions.

Organizing my colors helped me while painting the forms.  For example, the color on the eye of the caribou follows the progression of my pre-mixed colors.  As the form turns away from the light the color becomes proportionally darker and less intense in chroma.

Painting the Background
I started the sky by using burnt umber to set up the gradation of value from darker to lighter.
Then I painted the body of the pharoah and tapped some of the burnt umber into him to push his body into the distance.  After this I tried to carefully paint the color of the sky around the figure and caribou so they would have a sort of shield between them when I used a much larger brush to paint the rest of the sky.
I used my sky color and painted into the pharaoh.  Then I used a pre-mixed cloud color to transition into the sky.
Through using a large bristle brush with no water I built up a texture that was intended to create a cloud like atmosphere.

I painted the portrait in oil paint because I needed the ability to manipulate the paint longer. Although I noticed that painting on this absorbent cloth caused the oil paint to dry within a few hours. I would have liked to paint the entire painting in oil but I had 3 weeks after the drawing was transferred to finish the painting before the show deadline.

I began the portrait by working on the forehead because it had a full range of turn from the area most turned toward the light down to a shadow.

I began by establishing a curve of form that went from the area most facing the light down to the side of the forehead.  I was looking for a path to establish the range of curve and value that the form had.

I built each path of form one plane at a time by carefully considering how much each plane was turning away from the position of the previous plane. I judged my decisions by seeing if the amount of opposition in value corresponded with how much each place was opposed to each other.  Looking at how much the lines of the contour edge were angled against each other gave me a clue in this while progressing down the path of the forehead. It almost feels as if including each new plane is like pushing a hinge incrementally more down until it feels to snap into place.
 Thinking About Planes
A plane is a flat surface that is turned toward or away from the light a specific amount.  Above is an example of 3 planes that are darker in proportion to how much they are bent away from the light.

I tried to focus on the organization of these larger planes while painting this portrait because it was larger than life size.  After I established the larger planes, as shown in the above progress images, I refined the curve by including intermediary planes to transition the curve of each plane into each other.  Sort of like adding another piece of a bridge in between two opposed planks to create a smoother surface.


The process of painting the portrait was significantly aided by organizing my palette to correspond with the drop off of value and intensity of color as the form turns away from the light.

From the top (right to left) I used Titanium White, Cadmium Yellow, Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna, Cadmium Orange, Cadmium Red, Alizarin Crimson, Raw Umber and Ivory Black to mix a string of colors for the flesh.  I was looking at the color in a few portrait paintings by Josh LaRock and Patrick Byrnes to set my color range.  The color string starts with the color of the area most facing the light. As the color string on the palette goes to the left the colors become darker and less intense in chroma.

 I mixed a pool of paint to pull from as I painted.  The bottom section of the pool is lower in intensity (chroma) by mixing raw umber into it.  When I am making subtle changes it can be more controlable to mix into a pool of paint that is only slightly changing.  The pool becomes like a rope ensuring that the color doesn't get too far away from the hue of flesh while also making it easier to visualize on the palette how far the color range can be pushed.

The blue pile on the left corner was used to paint the edge into the sky background.

With my color palette set up I just followed the form in my portrait drawing while keeping in mind that the value and intensity of color would drop off in equal proportion to how much each area turned away from the light.  A display of this concept is shown in the example below.

I continued building the portrait by painting one curve of form next to another.  Each new arc of form became slightly more bent away from the light than the previous.

Starting on a new form of the eye I began again at the plane most facing the light and bent down from there.
This process does require much time to consider the turn of each plane in relation to the light while building each form.  This was a larger than life size portrait and I worked on the forehead for 8.5 hours.  The entire portrait took me about 48 hours to paint.

Manipulating the Palette
As I moved into a redder area of the portrait on the eye I used more of my red string to mix into my flesh pool.  The redder section at the top of the pool is shown in this image.

Video segment of painting the forehead


One of the aspects that takes a lot of time to include is the subtle turn into the shadow.  There is such rapid rate of curve within a tiny space that it can take many attempts to organize this area.  I try to pull the value from my palette that can push the curve as intended into the shadow but working into wet paint can be difficult to manipulate.

Form by Form 
I continued to paint the portrait one form, one curve at a time.

I painted the hands form by form as well.  It took me from 6 - 9 hours to paint each hand.

I began the clothing by painting my shadows to the average value.
I worked the edges along the clothing by thinning some of the shadow color with water and painting a border into the background.  Then I painted back into the edge of this edge color with the color of the sky to soften the edge.

 Form by Form
I focused on building one form at a time for the clothing as well.  I used acrylic paint for everything besides the portrait, hand and pharaoh so I could only work the wet acrylic in one area at a time.

Using the pathways of form helped me to develop a sense of how the forms were curving while painting the clothing.  I tried to build the form at first by bending one curve away from the previous.  I found that the more careful I was during this initial lay-in the less reworking I had to do.

Adding Texture
After I painted the form of each fold I had to adjust the form and using acrylic paint I had to paint over dried areas to do so.  Painting on top of the gradation of form with more of a dry brush method did allow me to suggest texture.

A massing in approach

Once I got to the dress I was running out of time, with only two days left before the deadline.  So I tried out an approach of first painting the value of the shadows to their full darkness and then thinly massing in an average color for each object before painting the form. Having the underpainting helped with this because some of the value from the underpainting just became darker with the wash so some suggestion of form was still there.

Then I painted the form one fold at a time over the massed in wash layer.

Painting the Caribou
I used the massing in approach for the caribou as well.  Especially since the Caribou was lighter in value the underpainting really showed through.  The difference between the wash in and the underpainting is shown on the shoulder.
 I painted the form on the caribou one curve at a time to lay it in.  And then I used more of a dry brush method to tip areas towards or away from the light and to add texture.

Adding texture
I was looking at Edwin Landseer's paintings to learn about mark making to suggest fur.  I mainly used a large house painting bristle brush and tried to push the contrast of value on the more upturned areas while leaving the edges jagged.

Edwin Landseer "Monarch of the Glen"

Final Painting

Click Image to View Larger
Photo Credit: Steve Weinik

This is the final painting.  I learned a lot during the process. It took me about 180 hours to paint.  Detail images are below.


My mural design and painting will be on display in the Mural Training Exhibition from January 9th - March 3rd, 2019.  The exhibition will also feature mural designs and paintings by Nico Bennett, Eric Bussart, Gregory Christie, Chabane Djoude, Marilyn Foehrenbach, Marissa Fu, Ashley Garner, Briana Keyes, Sarah Kolker, Natalie Flor Negron, Michele Pierson, Hilary Scott and Yael Tsoran.

I will be out of town for the opening, working on another mural project.  If you are in the area please visit the show.

Located at the Mural Arts Office, 1727 Mt. Vernon St., Philadelphia PA 19130.