Painting of Elia at Play

Portrait of Elia at Play :: Oil on linen - 14 x 14 inches

Portrait of Elia at Play :: Oil on linen - 14 x 14 inches

I love painting people! It’s my opportunity to spend time with, and bring into being a fragment of the human experience that can be examined and appreciated. And even further, the opportunity to put on a pedestal the experiences that trigger emotions from both precious and critical moments in our lives. I think it can be said that every portrait artist is looking for that special commission. There was something quite magical about this one.

This work opened up the opportunity to explore most of what I like about portrait painting from almost every angle; Intense light and shadow, dancing warms and cools, and communicative gesture in the subject make this a wonderfully balanced piece. In the technique itself, it was necessary to display a sense of craftsmanship and spontaneity all at once. The brush strokes are assured, yet playful. My attempt was to keep the background soft and feathery, while pushing the subject forward with bolder strokes. This was not easy as it was quite dark. I handled the shadows differently than I normally would with the shadows of a face for instance, which I often leave slightly transparent and lacking in detail to suggestively separate it from the light plane. The extraordinary contrasts forced me to “push” the background with denser paint, although I compensated with thicker strokes for the subject and foreground elements to achieve my goal. On the topic of color, I do not often use yellows for their own sake, but I enjoyed integrating them slightly. They are not prominent in this painting, as they are in my gorse bush study, but much is mixed into the greens, and offers a pleasant lushness to the light in the trees. It’s as if you can feel the warmth of the mid-day sun sprinkling through the cooler shadows. My favorite aspect of this painting is the subject (Elia) leaning and passing through both light and shade. Truly immersed. 

This was the perfect reference. Painting from life is always preferable, however it is difficult to capture and deliver the "decisive moment" that can be snatched by a photograph such as the one I worked from. I am truly glad I captured that thin slice of time and perspective in paint, and perhaps gave it something more than it could have been otherwise. In this moment, young Elia is caught with a seemingly mature sense of reflection and contentment surrounding her play. A moment of true enjoyment. You could linger in it forever. I’m very proud of this one.


Thoughts on painting studies :: Scotland

Composition study for painting inspired by Scotland . Charcoal on paper. 18 x 12 inches. 

Composition study for painting inspired by Scotland. Charcoal on paper. 18 x 12 inches. 

Wild Gorse Study . Oil on board. 12 x 12 inches.

Wild Gorse Study. Oil on board. 12 x 12 inches.

I had to pinch myself upon my first arrival to Glencoe. As the roads north of Glasgow winded broader into the foothills of the highlands, I was stunned. My eyes never able to stop moving, I scanned the soft greenish-brown winter landscape that began slowly wrapping around me. The rise and fall of the earth changed like a moving organism, with some parts sloping gently up from the moors, and others jagged and wild. All the elements of design and balance were in place. In Scotland, on the west coast, it never really gets much colder than 30 degrees Fahrenheit. It always seems to hover around 36-40 when I am there anytime between November and January. But it does rain quite a lot - the sun scarcely seen. The land is wet, lush, and calm… Sometimes. I love how it all seems to change so quickly. One minute the sky can be marbled black and heavy, dispensing a torrent of watery sheets, and then quietly disperse only 30 minutes later, leaving a timidly low sun and a curiously faint, almost non-existent rain the Scots call smirr (end with an “r tap” of the tongue). It’s hard to dress for the day, as you can run into a variety of weather in just a few hours!

I am forever charmed by the harmonies of Scotland. The Thistle, the national flower, is an emblem of pride for the Scottish. Beautiful and dangerous - unable to be uprooted. But I often like to think about the sprawl of wild gorse instead. Nothing quite like visiting the sea with my lover. The gorse grows thick near the shore by Dunure Castle in Ayrshire. The scent of salty coconut in the breeze that blows over the spiny bushes of radiant yellow blooms is the stuff of dreams. She is like Scotland. 



Live painting event at The East Room

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I will be setting up my easel to paint an oil portrait at the East Room. I think I'll bring along some smaller paintings to sell too if anyone is interested. There will be Rock n' Roll, and tattoo art. Come out! The event goes till 4am. But I will only be there till' 1am.  

Wednesday July 11, 9pm-1am
Demonstration in oils - The East Room
A live painting event for Jams & Jammers
Free event






I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about what it means to be an artist. My goodness, right? But more specifically, what it means to be an artist who enjoys the gathering of experience and insight. Not just for myself, but in aid of cultivating a shareable, and accessible aesthetic for others. As a foundation, I’ve been thinking about how we are shaped as human beings. What are we without the influence of others, directly or indirectly? The contributions in human history have massed into a cumulative knowledge that has erected the pillar we all stand on. I have an underlying sense of gratefulness, amusement, wonder, and at times, terror. It’s as if these feelings run just below the surface of my skin. They rest with a modest tension, warming and bubbling over as I am absorbed into the world around me by my vocational interests. I am reminded that it’s the people part that rings out with importance. We are here, with our condition, for better or for worse. Our need to recognize the relationship we have with each other, and with nature, are becoming more important by the day. 

My place is not to be isolated in the studio. Although, I often revel in it. My recent experience with teaching and conducting workshops has reinvigorated my passion for this cumulative contribution - as small a part as it may be. And not just for the sake of contribution, but the preservation of the approaches I hold dear. Focusing more on engagement and connection places more context under my instincts and guides my motivations. I advance, trip and fall, and constantly re-define. Chiseling away at the block, gradually revealing something that looks a bit more refined. Every interaction I am gifted, is the opportunity to see the larger sense of existence. 

And for a bit of news about classes, demos, and workshops...

Three Week Class - Painting With Gouache
I'm excited to announce my signing on to be an instructor at The Art Center in Highland Park! Bringing back a lost love, with an introductory class on painting with gouache. Fridays, 2-5pm. April 13-27.

Click here for more information, and to register. Receive an Early Bird discount until April 2!

New Demos and Workshops on the Calendar
Take a look at what's on the calendar for April, May, and June! Sign up for a workshop, private demonstration, or a free in-store demo.


Pisthurism #17

Tried a new surface for this series the other day. Painted this little ink tree on gesso board - 5x5 inches. Setting up an Etsy shop soon, all of my prints and some of my originals will be for sale, and just in time for the holiday season! But in the meantime, this guy needs a home. $150. Interested? Send me a message and it's yours for 30% off. I'll even ship it to ya for free.

Happy Holidays Everyone!



Blick Grande Opening Demonstration

Here are some pics from the Blick Grande Opening in Schaumburg this last weekend. I had a great time. To be totally honest, I was quite nervous at first. I don't do this sort of thing often, painting in front of people that is... Painting a live model is quite different than painting from a reference photo, but as I've had plenty of experience doing so, I usually don't have people watching my every move! Well, almost. They were occupied by their own creations too, and I was happy to be a part of their guidance.

Thanks to Colart, Winsor & Newton, my wonderful model, Elizabeth, and the eager participants!

Photo cred: Lyndsey MacGregor





Happy Holidays everyone! Due to demand last year, I’ve decided to bring this back. $95 8 x 8 inch oil painting commissions! (Originally $150) Take advantage of a great sale, or give as a gift. Turn anything you want into an original painting: Favorite landscapes, nostalgia, art copies, and portraits (pet portraits too). Ships U.S. and internationally.

Please place your orders as early as you can for timely delivery! You can contact me here, or at



A couple of months ago, I was commissioned by a dear friend to paint a tryptic of abstract oil paintings (2 pictured above). I was very flattered that he asked, but apprehensive at first, as this is brand new ground for me. The popular quote by Pablo Picasso came to mind-“I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.” This is good reflection for anyone interested in broadening their facilities. And as a lover/practitioner of good craftsmanship, I am drawn to this endeavor, despite the slight horror that accompanies. 

This effort was quite a genre leap, however. Other than the exposure amassed by my studies, artist acquaintances, museums, and gallery visits, I’ve put little thought into the concepts behind abstract paintings. I find that I am more literal than perhaps some of my artistic counterparts. I’ve always been attracted to obtaining skill in representational practices, and perhaps increasing my dexterity for general aesthetic perspectives. But what does that mean in context to abstract painting? What does that look like? I understand enough that, to every visual cohesion, there are certain rules binding the work together. Applying the elements of design and composition are among such rules. As these are also concepts used in literal practices, I felt I at least had something to start with. But it didn’t take me long before I became perplexed and frustrated in my apparent lack of intuitive muscle. “I’m an artist god-damn it,” I muttered to myself. “I should be able to do this.” 

I find, sometimes, that I side with people that look at abstract paintings and say mockingly under their breath to a friend that “they can do that.” At first glance, for some paintings, it often looks very much like an effortless endeavor. It is true that anyone can take a brush charged with paint and scribble on a canvas. But as I found myself doing so in preparation for something profound, I saw nothing staring back at me. What was I doing wrong? When will it begin to speak to me? Do I begin with something descriptive and then strip away to become more figurative?

Intent aside, a poorly executed painting, I believe, is an easy thing to spot, abstract or not. But what makes a great painting? It’s easier to recognize in representational painting. Does it convince the viewer of your physical knowledge of the subject matter? In other words, does it look real? Or if done with more spontaneity, is your knowledge still taken for granted? Does it show your familiarity of aesthetic reference or construction? 

After spending hours and days finagling, layering, mixing, scraping, smearing, and cutting through the paint I found that the process itself was taking hold and whispering in my ear. I began to simply enjoy the path of freely creating. And in the end, when I decided to stop, something strangely pleasant sat in front of me. By no means am I suggesting that I now know what I am doing. But I do have a respect for this process. As it took years of dedication and practice to learn more classical techniques, I realize that this hypothetical world of color and shapes will take its share of time. Time needed to for the refinement of instinct, style, innovation and trust in the process. I am intrigued, and will continue my study. I am grateful for this experience. Thanks to my good friend, whom without, I may have never begun this journey.