Yes, I use photo references for most paintings. Typically I’ll use 3-5 photo references as input for a single painting. The photos help me better understand the shape of the subject, its highlights, and shadows.
Often I’ll start a painting by creating a realistic rendering of the subject. Once I’m pleased with the design and the how the subject looks, then I put away the photo references and the real fun begins! I crank up the music, get loose, use my imagination, and start introducing exciting not-found-in-nature colors and shapes and rhythms. This is where the ‘abstract’ of my ‘abstract nature paintings’ comes in.
Usually I’m brimming with ideas for paintings, and almost always have a few ideas that are competing for attention on any given day.
But on some days I’m just not feeling it. When that happens, I follow the advice of Chuck Close, an amazing and famous artist, who says “Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work. . . . All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself.”
That’s my experience too. Once I pick up a pencil or paintbrush, ideas will often reveal themselves. Then I’m inspired all over again!
Yes, absolutely! Being a full-time artist feels like what I was meant to do.
In 2013, I made the decision to leave a 20-year career in high tech to become a professional artist. (While in high tech, I painted with passion, exhibited my work, and sold it. But painting was a hobby then.)
Being in high tech was challenging, interesting, and rewarding. High tech gave me the opportunity to work with so many fascinating people, and I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything.
But I definitely made the right decision! High tech was fun, but a career in the arts is even “funner”.
In “Top Fifty Questions”, I answer the top questions I’m asked as an artist. (These are usually asked at cocktail parties and other fun social events.)
Will this painting look good in my home? Great question. Here’s my take . . . if you fall in love with a painting, you can almost always find the right spot to hang it in your home. You may have to move another painting or a mirror or a print. But if you love the new painting, it’s worth the effort.
If you’re interested in one of the paintings here on my website, but are not sure if it will work in your living room, dining room, etc, please email me at email@example.com. If you live locally, I can take the painting (or a few paintings) to your home and we can try them out. If one works, great. If not, no worries.
I’m not worried about oil paints being toxic. Oil paints are toxic if you eat them. Otherwise, they are fine.
Paint solvents, thinners, and thickeners are often toxic. I don’t use any of these, except for turpentine to deep-clean my brushes (which I do outside).
Oil painting mediums (such as thickeners and thinners) tend to be an artist’s best friends. I had some favorite mediums that were toxic, but after some intense experimenting around, I found and fell in love with two that aren’t – walnut oil to thin the paints, and Gamblin Solvent-Free Gel as a thickener.