Potential & Current Students

1. Why is it important that you use “archival quality” art supplies to create a portrait?

A piece of art becomes an heirloom. You wouldn’t want it to fade after a few years or have the paper disintegrate. Cutting corners costs you more in the long run. Many artists are oblivious to the lightfastness of their pigments. Many pigments will fade over a short time with exposure to light. Would you want a painting of a red rose to turn brown after a year? I only use high quality art supplies.

2. Why do you paint less detail in the backgrounds?

  • That is the way the human eye sees. Hold your finger up and try to focus on both it and the background at the same time – you can’t even do that with one eye closed.
  • Every painting should have a focal point. Other areas should support that focal point, not distract from it.

3. How do I know if my photo is high quality enough for a portrait painting?

  • The most important question is “Does it look like them?” Very often a photo doesn’t capture a likeness. Want proof? Look at your driver’s license. If a photo doesn’t look like your subject and that’s all I have to paint from, how can I make the painting look like them?
  • If you can clearly see eyelids, the photo is usually large and clear enough to paint.

4. What if I only have one photo and taking more isn’t an option?

Let us look at the photo and see what we can do.

5. Can you add color to a black and white photo?

Yes. It will help if you can describe the colors or provide a photo similar to the subject. For example, the color of your hair might be the same as a parent’s.

6. What is the difference between “realism” and “photo-realism”?

  • Photo-realism means that the painting looks exactly like a photo. Because of the ubiquity of photos, many people have the perception that photos look like real life. They don’t. They are very inaccurate compared to the human eye.
  • Realist artists try to accurately represent real life the way the eye sees – the goal is not to recreate a photo but to create a work of art that looks like life.

7. How can you paint realism using just photographic references?

Having completed over 1000 portraits from life, I have learned what to look for as well as what the camera distorts and can make adjustments.

8. Can you paint purely from imagination?

Absolutely. But it will never be as good as when I have a model or reference material. I am not arrogant enough to believe I can create better than mother nature. I have no problem altering, adding, or removing details for the sake of creating a better work of art.

9. What subjects can you paint?

Anything at all. Landscapes, still life, wildlife, architectural, portraits, florals, you name it. When you can paint with skill and accuracy, the challenge isn’t in capturing the subject, but in creating a pleasing work of art using the subject.

10. So many artists specialize in one subject and media. Why don’t you?

If you ate your favorite food for every meal every day, you’d grow tired of it. I love creating art. I will not sacrifice that love for easier “brand identity” or for marketing purposes. I also believe that cross-training in different media and genre leads to growth as an artist. Challenges lead to personal growth. I hope my passion for art shows through in my work.

11. Why don’t you grid or trace or project?

I am an artist, not someone masquerading as one and coloring in the mechanically reproduced drawings. If you cannot draw accurately, learn. Anyone can learn to draw and drawing is the basis of all art. Also, I enjoy drawing. Why would I seek to cheat myself of that pleasure?

12. What steps should I take to protect my art?

  • Keep it out of direct sunlight. Constant bombardment of UV light will damage anything.
  • Keep works on paper dry and framed behind glass.
  • Avoid high humidity or smoke.
  • Don’t let anyone touch the artwork with their hands
  • When handling artwork, try to only touch the border areas that will be covered by the mat

13. How should I frame my artwork?

  • Framing is an art in itself and depends on the individual work of art. Consult a professional framer or let us frame it for you.
  • A frame should separate the art from the wall it hangs on but should never distract from the artwork.

14. Why do you mention that your art is original and not numbered reproductions?

In recent years many artists have committed fraud by selling reproductions of artwork as if they were originals – Some print a photo onto canvas, add a few strokes of paint and sell it as an original work of art. Some feel that mass producing a painting but then signing each one makes them all “originals”. There is no grey area here. It is fraud. There are original works of art and then there are reproductions. Either it’s 100% original or it’s a reproduction.

15. What are your print options?

I can have a painting produced in several formats and sizes to fit your needs. I prefer to print giclees because they last longer, and make them no larger than the original artwork. Giclees are prints made with archival pigments instead of inks that will fade. If a work is reproduced larger than the original size, you may lose quality.

16. What does “plein air” mean?

A painting done on entirely on location outdoors is painted “en plein air” and a subgenre of landscape painting. The French Impressionists made plein air painting popular and it is enjoying a revival in recent years. Plein air painting requires acute observation and strong drawing and painting skills. The light outdoors is constantly changing and the artist must work quickly to get the information down on their surface while accounting for these changes.