My still life paintings are as labor-intensive as they look! I enjoy painting things that are complicated, shiny, and more often than not, round. I usually place my objects in nests of aluminum foil. This prevents them from rolling around, and it creates a challenging and reflective background for me to paint.
My father was an avid fisherman in the 1970s, and when I was a child I was fascinated with the lures in his tackle box. They reminded me of toys--colorful, dangerous toys! I've created a series of lure paintings, some of which I've combined with jewelry.
Jewelry has provided the ultimate shiny-colorful still life challenge for me. Most of these paintings are 18"x24" or larger, and it's great fun to enlarge a tiny gem or trinket to around the size of my fist or head. I can really lose myself in these.
I love to paint portraits (especially of people I know). I have a special fondness for children. Nothing satisfies me more than the moment when I realize that I have created a good likeness of my subject. It's a mixture of magic and relief. I work from reference photos and will often alter them in terms of color and composition before I paint them.
My current painting is another portrait of my niece Belle. I took the reference photo when Belle was about 18 months old and at a big family get-together at a winery. She's in her high chair at the end of the table and eating a small breadstick/pretzel. She's either looking at Emily or out the window, and I loved her pensive expression and enormous eyes. The background is complicated with lots of golds and oranges. I recorded my first day with this painting, and you'll see it on my YouTube channel soon. It's 18"x16", so that's a bit larger than usual for my portraits, but I had an old frame and mat I wanted to use. Sometimes that's the deciding factor in how big a painting will be. Old Holland watercolors on Arches 140lb cold press paper.
Most of my paintings of the natural world are close-ups. I love painting textures and details, so paintings like these are a better fit for me than big, sweeping landscapes. I tend to paint a lot of flowers, but sometimes I'll branch out and work on non-floral subjects.
Flowers and watercolors are such a perfect pairing. It's almost as if the paint wants to help me produce soft, colorful petals. I often paint flowers after tackling a particularly difficult portrait or still-life because they really help me loosen up.
If you would like to learn how to paint flowers (or want to learn basic skills), I've developed two pads of watercolor paper with Strathmore that come with step-by-step instructional material and videos. Learn more about them here!
Animals are beautiful and challenging, and they offer many opportunities to create unique textures such as feathers or fur. My favorite subject was my cat Bunny (who sadly died in 2014). She was an unusually small cat and the cutest thing I have ever seen. Bun loved to watch me paint, too. I've occasionally painted pets for people, such as the pretty tabby lying on the rug below.
Usually a painting will take me weeks or even months to complete. The sketches below took two or three hours, so they're a lot looser! I have a YouTube channel where I demonstrate how to paint things like these, and it's a race against time as I record my process. My computer chokes on videos that are longer than three hours, so I paint as quickly as possible. You can see my videos here!
I made these for Strathmore in 2016 as part of their Learning Series project. I created two sets of step-by-step, instructional material and exclusive videos for Strathmore, and these came with two pads of watercolor paper. If you'd like to learn more about the pads, please go here!
Painting U2 is the geekiest thing I do, and I hesitate to even discuss it with family members. I've been the cartoonist for atu2.com since 2002, and instead of doing something quick and easy like a normal person might, I decided to paint my panels with watercolor, and below are some of the fruits of my labor. The cartoon is here if you're interested, and several of these paintings are available for purchase on this site. As frighteningly uncool as all of this is, in 2016 I showed these little U2 paintings of mine at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and that was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
I plan to save all of my work-in-progress images here. Watch my paintings grow!