Peek Behind the Curtain-How THE Paintings are Made

A couple of times a year I do a commissioned project.  In these instances, a collector has a special request.  Might be a certain sized space in their home or office, a past subject they are interested in seeing revisited, or a personal effect they might want included in a painting.  These require a dialog between the artist and collector to determine the outcome of this customized artwork.  To show my process, one of these commissioned pieces has been used as numerous progress shots are always taken to show the collector images as the painting progresses.


The finished painting - "Fishing Buddies" 56" x40" oil on linen, Private Collection

I work pretty steadily in a sketchbook.  These aren't highly refined sketches, rather a notebook of ideas.  Whether it is just part of my normal repertoire or a commission, the initial sketch is somewhere in one of my books.  Here we see a photograph from my sketchbook of the initial "Fishing Buddies" idea.  As this was a commission, I wanted to come to an agreement.  A painting that is totally me, something I'd like to paint, and is something the collector's family can enjoy as a new addition to their family.

I then draw directly on an acrylic primed canvas.

As you can see, this gets quite messy.  Smudging and erasing often.

Much to many people's surprise, I coat my drawing in a yellow acrylic.  Basically it seals the drawing, but also adds a vibrance that does come through in the final painting via scratches and thinner patches of the oil paint.

From there I work the painting somewhat left to right to keep me from smudging as my hand and palm often hit and rest on the canvas.

Much of what happens doesn't show up on a computer image (or maybe even in person other than to the artist) but tweaking occurs all through the process.

Another peek behind the curtain, the painting in progress in my studio.

It's a lengthy process with very little way to speed it up.  A mix of observation and then relaying that to the canvas.

As you can see in this image, sometimes I have a change of heart.  The little lion artwork from the previous image that the collector's son had done seemed to pull away from the narrative. I found myself working around it and asked if there were any alternatives.  He eagerly showed me other artworks and the fish became an absolutely necessity.

Process 9 Fishing.jpg

When the floor is added, the 3 dimensionality begins to "pop."


I'm always amazed myself when I put in the background.  Maybe that is my own payoff, the painting snaps together with what I had in mind all along.


I live in a small town, and my studio is right on the main street with a storefront window.  Though I am only open to the public for special occasions and appointments, I do change up the window for the townsfolk.  Each new painting gets put on my second easel and becomes my display while creating the next piece.