Artist Spotlight

What type of art do you create?

I am a realist painter focusing primarily on landscapes and urban scenes.  I have a strong interest in the play of light and shadow on architectural subjects.  I am also interested in atmospheric effects, both in urban scenes and landscapes. I work primarily in oil and watercolor. 

How do you describe your work?

My work explores the role of light in the perception of depth and atmosphere.  In urban scenes I focus on the play of light and shadow on architecture and its impact on the scene as a whole.   The objective is to capture the depth of a scene as well as the essence of the time of day.  Many paintings are set in late afternoon or early morning, where the contrast of light and shadow is stronger and more dramatic.   I am also interested in atmospheric effects as might be found on a rainy day.

In recent years, I have focused on oil painting techniques of the seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries.  Specifically, I use thin layers of glazes over an under painting, or imprimatura.  Under paintings typically are used to establish the value relationships— the lights, darks and middle tones—as a first step in developing a painting.  Usually this is done using one neutral color, e.g. a brown such as raw umber, or a gray (often called a grisaille), effectively creating a monochromatic painting.  Typically, the monochromatic painting is done by directly painting the image to create what might be compared to a brown and white or black and white photograph. 

However, in my paintings, rather than paint the image directly, a layer of raw umber is laid on the canvas over a drawing and the image is painted indirectly or “lifted” out by removing the paint, either with a cloth or a brush, depending on the level of detail required.  This technique has several names: the “wipe out”, bistre or ebouche method.  In simple terms, the “positive” or light areas are lifted out thereby exposing the white of the canvas and the “negative” or dark areas are left untouched.  The image develops much more quickly than with direct painting, with the patterns of light and dark being established almost immediately.  This is particularly important in my architectural subjects. 

Once the underpainting is dry, transparent layers of colors or glazes are applied. Through the layers of glazes the imprimatura is still visible, firmly establishing the values, and, in some cases, providing color harmony to the painting.  Occasionally, some of the imprimatura is left completely exposed, depending on the painting and the aesthetic effect desired. 

The layers of transparent glazes give luminosity to the paint—-almost a stained glass effect—particularly in the light areas where the light bounces off the white of the canvas and through the transparent glazes to the eye.  In some cases, opaque colors are used to emphasize the light areas.  The light is stronger because the light bounces directly off the opaque color.  In the dark shadow areas, the darks appear deeper than they would use opaque colors. 

When did you start making your art?

My interest in art began in childhood while living in Mexico, where I took private lessons from Jaime Oates, a Spanish watercolorist who exhibited extensively in Mexico, the U.S. and Spain.  Oates emphasized color, light and shadow.  Beginning in my 30’s, I studied art at George Washington University and the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, DC as well as at the Maryland Institute and College of Art in Baltimore.

What are the challenges of creating your art?

The biggest challenge for me is converting the seemingly ordinary into something extraordinary.  For example, taking a common street scene and creating a mood so that the observer gets a totally different appreciation of the scene. 

Do you make a living through your art? Do you have a job outside your art?

No, I am retired from another career.  But, outside of volunteer work, I paint virtually full time.   I am fortunate to have found a market for my art.

Who is your favorite artist?

It’s hard to say I have a favorite, but two that jump to mind are Francesco Guardi, an eighteenth century Italian artist known for his paintings of Venice, and Edward Hopper, a twentieth century American artist who focused heavily on architectural subjects.