Once upon a time…

Free Spirits acrylic on tar paper, c. 9" x 11", 4/30in30, Q14
Free Spirits
acrylic on tar paper, c. 9″ x 11″, 4/30in30, Q14

You may be wondering how all this got started in the first place. Well, I must credit my hard-working Huntingdon College students. Two years ago we worked on a group project in our painting class, and I had hoped some would decide to show up one weekend and just paint their hearts out on the huge piece below.

Students Josh Clayton and Autumn Jones made great contributions to the base design in 2014.

We cut symmetrical stencils and spray painted overlapping patterns as an underpainting. At the end of the semester, no one had added any painting on the 18′ design. We rolled it up and put it in a closet at school. Last year I discovered it, and decided to put that underpainting to use, since most of the students involved in its creation had moved on to other classes.

Base Start
The end that became a beginning…

I wanted to both use and ignore the original design, so I cut off one end and then cut it into 15 pieces.

Here is the starting pile of rectangles.

Rather than create one big design, I wanted to see how the overall image might change by looking at the quadrants separately, and then allowing them to join as I went along. Each quadrant should hold its own as an individual composition while simultaneously becoming integral to a larger whole .


Looking Back

This is a visual review of some of the images from my 2D Design Class at Huntingdon College during Fall 2014. Because it is an entry-level, visual art basics course, I structured it by linking two elements and principles. We covered 14 elements and principles: Line, Shape, Color, Value, Form, Texture, Balance, Space, Contrast, Emphasis, Pattern, Movement, Harmony and Unity. I love teaching because there is so much learning!

1.Line & Shape Line and Shape

2.Color & Value  Color and Value

3.Form & Texture  Form and Texture

4.Balance & Space  Balance and Space

5.Contrast & Emphasis Contrast and Emphasis

6.Pattern & Movement  Pattern and Movement

7.Harmony & Unity  Harmony and Unity

What are Chips?

Well my favorites these days, as my Huntingdon students will attest, are plain pita chips with hummus. But I’m talking about a jewelry design I’ve been working on for about 6 months.


For now, here are my latest little jewels in process. Each one is a fun tiny painting. They often refer to landscapes and weather, but some are just curious explorations in line and color. They have a long way to go … and I’ll need your opinion eventually.

How beautiful is math? Quite!

Or maybe this could be called Fibonacci Fascination.

Huntingdon College students are wrapping up their spring semester, and the art majors celebrated their accomplishments with a student art exhibition. One assignment was based on a compositional “gimme” courtesy of Phidias, Plato, Euclid, Fibonacci, DiVinci and oh, well, I guess the rest of us..

.Spiral Lesson

At the top is the design of the “Golden Spiral” and then 5 paintings (by L to R: Ridley, Saefong, Swiger, Harrelson, Pickens) that “made it” into the student exhibition. Bottom is a 13’H X 21′ W installation at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts’ ARTWORKS Gallery designed by Professor Sartorius. The student exhibition runs April 8-18, 2013.

Art Show flyer3

A Special Guest

Barbara Davis came to visit our painting class at Huntingdon College on Tuesday, February 12th.  She completely wowed all of us, students and teachers alike. And she humored me by incorporating the now-defunct Monopoly iron into a landscape.

Here is what she did in ONE HOUR.

From blank canvas…


…to an overall yellow ochre “wash” over the canvas…both to minimize the “fear of the white canvas” and to give a lovely underglow…


…to mapping out blocks and masses in both sky and ground areas…


…to adding touches of color in sky, land and clouds…and then indulging me with the placement of the iron.


Surrealism is definitely not BD’s thing! I think she tried to make it look like a very attractive well-house. Otherwise it resembles a soft-landing UFO that safely ran aground.

Notice how her cloud colors include lots of yellow and some purple and green. No pure white was used in the making of these clouds!


It doesn’t look like the photo, exactly – it looks like itself!
One student today told me that Barbara was a wizard – that no one could really paint like that unless they were also a wizard.
Thanks for the inspiration, Barbara, and I agree…you MUST be a wizard!


(Coming soon: more info on that Monopoly iron!)

To the Towers with You!

On my latest go-to exercise location, the Riverfront, I have admired the silos that stand above the park at the SandBAR. So I took a photo. It was sunset and they really did look that pink.


I first made a little sketch.

And then began a small painting.
It really helps to see the pieces together.
I know some things I need to do…
Towers 2
Silos at the Riverfront, Oil on Canvas, 6″ x 6″
This image satisfies my minimalist aesthetic.

I have always loved the work of Ralston Crawford,
and especially this piece:
Crawford Overseas Highway

But he was a master with silos:
Crawford grain elevators

Rehash for Huntingdon


I am posting this image because this coming Tuesday we will have our first critique in our painting class. I am asking my students to look at this because I’m hoping it will help them reflect on their own work. The assignment is:

  • Select one architectural element from the campus of Huntingdon College.
  • Create 4 close up details of that architectural element.
  •  Use watercolors to paint:
  1. A sepia-tone composition (mix black and brown)
  2. An interpretation using cool color(s)
  3. An interpretation using warm color(s)
  4. In class, a colorful interpretation using primary and secondary colors. Mix the secondaries by using only red, blue and yellow.

Grading Criteria

  • Minimum of 4 paintings
  • Choice of compelling composition
  • Use of wet-on-wet, dry-to-wet, glazing, washes, and dry brush techniques.
  • Use of full range of value scale, from dark to light

Students, please have fun with this…AND make sure you look at your work to make sure you have covered all those bases. I am looking forward to looking and discussing and learning with you!