My Thoughts... Exactly!

Hey, you wanna know what I think?

Category: Everyday Paintings (page 1 of 4)

Diving Rock – Thomaston, GA

Diving Rock -- Flint River, GAby David R. Darrow
10" x 8" (25.4cm x 20.3cm)
Oil on Stretched Canvas
This painting is not framed

Unframed
$195 + $8.95 S/H
Click image for larger view.

About This Painting

In Thomaston Georgia, there is a wide, calm, clear river called the Flint River.

The day I was there, the water was easily 85°f and the daytime temperature was about the same. The air had only slightly less water in it than the Flint River, but it still looked inviting — so I took a dip.

From my vantage point, I could see kids, young and old, jumping off this rock sticking about 8 feet out of the warm water, with precarious access from the backside. If I was still a kid, I would have been all over it, non-stop.

They eventually got dragged home by their weary parents, but I stuck around to enjoy the long day and the warming light of the setting sun. It was amazingly quiet, peaceful and beautiful. ◙

Come Hither

Come Hitherby David R. Darrow 
6" x 6" (15.2cm x 15.2cm) 
Oil on Stretched Canvas 
 
SOLD
Collection of Jeanne Piorkowski,  
Newton, NJ – USA
 

About This Painting 

This lovely 1965 Chevy Impala parked in my neighborhood for just a time, her eyelids seductively begging me to paint her.

This car was a beauty. Classic lines, heavy metal, even “spats” over the rear wheels. The two sets of three, horizontally-aligned tail light lenses affixed as if to pause with a poetic ‘dot dot dot’ demanding my full attention.

It’s more than just a car.

It’s a Classic! ◙

Be A Pepper

Be A Pepperby David R. Darrow
8" x 6" (20.3cm x 15.2cm)
Oil on Belgian Linen Panel
SOLD
Collection of Derek Beasley,
Lancaster, CA – USA

About This Painting

Another pepper from my garden.

I watched this little fellow grow and plump up and turn a brilliant emerald green (if you don’t know, they turn red soon after). I felt that the young plant was too weak to hold this 6″ pepper — it seemed all the watering and nutrients were going toward sustaining the pepper, so I pruned it off.

Now the plant is three times the size is was, has new flower buds which will bear fruit, and will be doing its pepper thing again, soon.

It’s so fascinating to see them take shape, change color, and reshape. Wouldn’t you like to be a Pepper, too?

Maybe you’d have to have grown up in the 70s to understand this one. ◙

Captured

Capturedby David R. Darrow
6" x 8" (15.2cm x 20.3cm)
Oil on Canvas Panel
SOLD
Collection of Robert Marchese,
Rochester, NY – USA

About This Painting

This 6″ x 8″ painting “Captured” is the newest by San Jose, CA artist David R. Darrow. ◙

San Felipe Lake, Gilroy

San Felipe Lake, Gilroy CAby David R. Darrow
6" x 6" (15.2cm x 15.2cm)
Oil on Stretched Canvas
This painting is not framed

Click here to bid on eBay
Opening Bid: 1¢
Ends: Friday, September 2, 2011)
at 6:00 PM (Pacific Time)

About This Painting

San Felipe Lake sneaks up on you. You turn a corner and Boo! there it is. It’s just a bit southeast of Gilroy proper along Pacheco Pass Rd.

Somewhat humorously, nearby this Gilroy lake is the town of Aromas — I wonder what connection there is to its next-door neighbor Gilroy being the garlic capitol of the world.

As I rounded the corner, heading south on CA SR-152 one day recently looking for scenes to paint, this came into view, and it was all I could do to pull over on the one, small turn-off and not spill my morning coffee.

This is painted more abstractly than I usually paint since I wanted to capture the airbushy blends in ‘chunks of color’ instead. ◙

Draped in Satin

As a beginning illustrator and very "wet behind the ears" in 1980 when I set out at 22 to make a living right out of art school, all I knew was "fast media" — I had only used oils in a few figure painting classes, and didn’t know the medium well. None of the instructors I had really talked much about the inherent properties of oil, drying time, block-ins, washes, etc., so Oils were a mystery to me until 2000, 20 years later, when I decided to learn them "for reals."

Old Acrylics
Click the picture for a larger view

Acrylics dry fast, so that’s what I used when doing all my time-sensitive commercial work. I did a lot of airbrush work back then, so It was an obvious choice. Still, the darks in acrylic dry a step or 2 lighter, and the lights dry a bit darker by the time the water has "flashed off" — so it was always a wait-and-see game, for me.

I decided to try a small figure painting in acrylic, using washes, glazes and scumbling to achieve an atmospheric effect. It was a bit of a trip down memory lane. For starters, some of the still-good tubes of acrylic I have are older than many of the people on my mailing list. In the picture of some tubes of mine, you can see that I dated them, sometimes, so I would know when I bought them — never thinking I would actually have them nearly 30 years later. The tube in the middle, dated 9/85 is a sure tell. But if you’re a Pasadena local, you know that the tube to the left (Modular Color) was from an old product line that was hue and value-based, sold in metal tubes, and in this case, from "Standard Brands" paint store on Orange Grove in Pasadena — that store long ago having changed hands. (The $1.03 price tag is certainly nostalgic!) That store tag means I bought it during my school years, 1977–1980. Yikes-squared!

And it still flows.

I put the near-full "Portrait Pink" tube in the picture to show how useless therefore largely-unused it is.

But I digress…

Stage 1 – The drawing in pencil and then brownish acrylic

I started with a canvas glued to 1/8" luan mahogany plywood. You can’t see it here, but the canvas has been highly textured with modeling paste, knifed– and bushed–on, coated in gesso, and sanded.

Stage 2 –  A quick, warm/neutral wash of acrylic:
Raw Umber, Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Sienna, greatly thinned with water

Stage 3 (2.5, really)  — I pat it and wipe it down quickly before it dries to get rid of
the drips and brush marks.

Stage 4 – I start re-working the darks before I completely lose my drawing,
then do another 2 or 3 washes over it.

Stage 5 — I alternate between warm and cool washes of color.

Here, a Payne’s Gray wash has been added mostly at the top. By the way, Payne’s Gray is merely a premixed Ultramarine Blue and Ivory Black — it says so right on the label.

Stage 6 — A Yellow Ocher wash has been added, plus some reworking
of the lost highlights using Titanium White Gesso and water.
Burnt Sienna is used in the shadows to keep them from going too dark, for now.

Stage 7 — Creating atmosphere with more thin washes.

Yellow Ocher and Burnt Sienna both have a slight opacity to them — they are not true transparent colors, like Ultramarine is. Therefore, they tend to lighten. This begins to create a "foggy," more unified look to the lights and darks. This also ties the cool highlights back to the color scheme.

Stage 8 — I wash in some local color and re-enforce the highlights.

I want a warm-to-cool graduated background, and I want something light behind the head to bring out the profile, so I start working the cool light on the wall. I also add the red of the drape on the chair, while reinforcing the satin white.

Close-up — A bit blurry, sorry!

Stage 9 — Oil Wash or Burnt Sienna, Ultramarine Blue and Raw Umber, Turp and Linseed Oil

What???

You may object to oil paint being used in an acrylic painting since one cannot paint with both. This is mostly true. The astute among you will know that you cannot paint acrylic over oil — ever. But the reverse is not true. You can paint oil over (dried) acrylic. This is completely archival.

The really super-astute among you will realize that this last stage — where I am leaving off for now — is where I became frustrated with the way the acrylic painting was going, seeing the seemingly endless work ahead to get what I wanted, therefore I "changed horses in the middle of this stream."

Goodbye acrylic, for now. This painting has plenty of potential, and it’s only going to be realized if I enjoy painting it, so… I did what I had to do. For now, I like oils better, and I believe I can finish this faster/sooner and with greater artistic freedom in oils.

Paint Smarter™

—Dave

Step by Step of “Curl”

This painting is available now on eBay, with a 1¢ opening bid.

Today’s painting started out on a panel primed with gesso, then sanded, then painted with a medium gray, latex, flat wall-paint I got from Home Depot.

My first step, above, was to tone the panel with a bit of burnt sienna and ultramarine blue, thinned well with mineral spirits. Next step was to sketch in the proportions of the head. Working on an 8 x 10 panel, I make things a lot easier on myself by cropping my digital photo exactly as I wanted it cropped at exactly 8 x 10 proportions. This allows me to do the sketch paying attention to the shaped of the head as well as the shapes of the negative space around the head. This is painted from the image on the monitor.

Admittedly, I got a little lost right away. I started jumping around trying to "get something right" instead of focusing on connecting values and shapes. Jumping around is always my downfall. Part of the problem is that I do not realize I am doing the jumping around.

And no one was around to stop me.

Eventually, I come to my senses and do the only thing I can do to make the painting better: remove the offending parts. My general proportions were mostly right as far as placing the head on the panel, but I went awry somewhere near the mouth.

As soon as I wiped off the mouth, The Voices stopped.

Just kidding. Now they only sounded muffled.

I got the bigger shapes dropped back in; a smaller mouth, the orange of the background, the cool of the flesh in light.

Back on track, I worked on balancing the shadow values more with the light values, trying to separate the warm shadows from the cool north light on the brighter side. I also blockiin the hand, which I see as an element of the painting that is necessary for the femininity in the pose, but not important enough that I want to draw attention to it. I intend to keep it impressionistic.

Curl – 8" x 10" oil on panel, by David R. Darrow

The completed painting is a result of refocusing and starting at the top of the forehead and working my way down checking the drawing, comparing shapes, values and hues, adjusting edges and temperatures.

I try not to get discouraged when a painting goes off a bit. I don’t like that I have to spend extra time on it, but it does feel good to whip it back into shape. (This painting is available now on eBay, with a 1¢ opening bid).


Art Group Discount on my 4 Video Workshop Series

If you have a difficult time with drawing during painting, you may be interested in my Charcoal Drawing for Oil Painters video course which shows how to break down larger shapes into easier "bites," honing in to detail.

Maybe the way shadows interact with the background or light areas is an elusive challenge to you. I did a series on everything I know about Light and Shadow, called Shadow University.

Maybe it’s just flesh tones that get your brushes in a bunch. What color is Caucasian skin in blue light? What basic color mix do I use? Can I use my tube of "Flesh" color for Ethiopians? (No) You may benefit from my most popular video series "In the Flesh" (Mixing flesh tones)

Maybe you’re just baffled by color mixing… you keep ending up with muddy paintings. I can tell you why, and how to fix that, plus much, much more in my Color Theory for Painters course.

Curl

Curlby David R. Darrow
8" x 10" (20.3cm x 25.4cm)
Oil on Panel
This painting is not framed

Click here to bid on eBay
Opening Bid: 1¢
Ends: Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 6:04 PM (Pacific Time)

About This Painting

One of my Beautiful Strangers™ encounters led to this painting.

Beautiful Strangers are ‘portraits of friends I have never met.’

I met Blythe in the market. She may have generated the slowest double-take on record. She was in line at the quick check-out at the grocery store, and I was on my way to the produce section and had to cut in front of her just to get by.

I smiled as I inched my cart into the space in front of her so she wouldn’t think I was just busting through. She smiled at me and back up to let me through. And the light caught her just so.

I saw a painting in my mind as I passed by her.

All the way to the bagged Baby Spinach and organic carrots, I tried to talk myself out of asking her to be in a painting of mine. Finally, I just asked myself, “Who are you kidding? How are you going to paint a face like that if you don’t ask her?”

So I did. And she agreed.

She was a natural. Every which way she turned her head she looked like another painting. She brushed her hair through her fingers and I said “Hold that… …Okay… …let go of your hair.” A single strand of her hair dropped and curled around into the light. ◙

Stroll around Lucca, Italy

A Stroll In Lucca, Italyby David R. Darrow
5" x 7" (12.7cm x 17.8cm)
Oil on Panel
SOLD
Collection of Leta Terrell,
Lake Providence, LA – USA

About This Painting

I sometimes live vicariously through the lives of strangers, which is why I have on my Beautiful Strangers™ business card “Oil portraits of friends I have never met.”

Getting to know the people who model for me is always a step into a new world.

And so it goes with clients who hire me to paint for them, as was the case with one client, recently, who wanted to gift his wife with a painting to remind her of the wonderful time they had together in a trip to Italy. I got to see his collection of snapshots and hear him talk about what memories he had of these various locations, the beauty, the moments that touched them both.

One in particular was a stroll around the section of Lucca (I believe he referred to it as Lucca Park). This walkway at the south-east of the walled city was strewn with Fall leaves and dappled sunlight, walled out on the right, and protected by a small berm on the left, seemingly endless in its forward distance.

I did this color sketch before the final, much larger painting to present to my client. He was pleased, and gave me the go-ahead for the final. ◙

Broad Street Creek, SLO – Looking East

Creek At Broad St. – Looking East (San Luis Obispo)by David R. Darrow
6" x 8" (15.2cm x 20.3cm)
Oil on Canvas Panel
SOLD
Collection of Jan Krynski,
Chicago, IL – USA

About This Painting

A while back I started a couple of paintings en plein air down by the creek near Broad Street in San Luis Obispo, CA. It’s downtown, north of Higuera.

I finished one of them months ago. It was the view looking west. My own mother bought that one. She said she “had to have it” since it was a place my late father and she would stop for lunch when traveling south. They moved to the South San Francisco Bay during my second semester in Art School, and though Interstate 5 running through central California is 1.25 hours faster, they always took the slower SR-101 to Southern California since it is the more beautiful route. About 3.5 hours into it, it’s great to stop in beautiful San Luis Obispo for a respite.

Now I myself am in San Jose, and when I head south to visit my kids, I take the 101 through SLO, too, and I make it a habit to stop off at this creek.

This is the second painting I started down in that creek area. This is the view looking east, and is equally beautiful. ◙

Creek at Broad Street, San Luis Obispo

Creek at Broad Streetby David R. Darrow
6" x 6" (15.2cm x 15.2cm)
Oil on Canvas Panel
SOLD
Collection of Doris Darrow,
Sunnyvale, CA – USA

About This Painting

A few weeks ago I visited San Luis Obispo, CA for the annual plein air event. I haven’t been to SLO for decades, so it was nice to see what’s changed and what hasn’t.

The Thursday night Farmer’s Market on Higuera Street downtown beats any street party I have ever seen. With evening light speckling the streets through the trees while the smoky aroma of meat on grills fills the air, vendors display produce, various wares, creams, ointments, incense, health drinks, jewelry and so on — it’s a street-fair on steroids every week!

Just around the corner, Broad Street crosses a beautiful little creek, just a few feet south of the San Luis Obispo Art Center where the plein air festival has its gallery. This creek meanders through town, popping in and out of view, sometimes running under several blocks of downtown’s multi-story buildings betraying its centuries-old, natural history of following the path of least resistance.

One morning I parked my easel by the creek between Chorro and Broad, and began this little painting in the warm morning sun as passers by chatted or friends gathered above the creek for morning coffee and conversation at any of several establishments with balconies or patios overlooking this serene view from their manufactured vistas. ◙

I’ll Get the Wine

I'll Get The Wineby David R. Darrow
6" x 6" (15.2cm x 15.2cm)
Oil on Panel
SOLD
Collection of Greg Rich,
Cheyenne, WY – USA

About This Painting

On a recent trip to Santa Fe, NM, I stopped by one gallery a little ways off the well-known gallery row. Traffic must have been slow for this gallery, for they were closed that day.

The gallery has an inviting courtyard, with a patio and overgrown wildflowers everywhere. Seeing these two Adirondack chairs beckoning two lovers to sit and rest, the phrase “I’ll get the wine…” came to mind. ◙

Covered In Light

Covered in Lightby David R. Darrow
3-3/4" x 8" (9.5cm x 20.3cm)
Oil on Canvas Panel
SOLD
Collection of Chris Opp,
Bossier City, LA – USA

About This Painting

A quick figure painting on a small, remnant canvas panel, done in a limited palette, using red, yellow, black and white. ◙

George

I got to visit my friend George yesterday. George is now officially a collector of my work, owning 2 of my paintings. George sneaked in at the last moment and snagged my John Wayne in Acrylic the other day. George is a painter, too, and he and I became acquainted in 2007 because George had found my work on eBay, looked me up and even sent me a painting of myself from a photo on a blog entry about a day I went plein air painting and my painting blew off the easel landing ‘jelly side down.’

George is one of the kindest men I have met, and in many ways his gentleness and careful choice of words, easy laughter and substantial vocabulary remind me of my own father who passed away in 2005. I would venture that If it weren’t for his knack for story telling, and his myriad stories from his career, you’d probably never guess he spent a good portion of his life as a Special Agent for NCIS (NCISA Who’s Who Story: scroll halfway down).

I delivered the painting to him and he smiled, thanked me, shook my hand and set it down on his coffee table. I had to admit to George that I could not imagine why he wanted another painting. Far from being self-effacing with that question, I was referencing George’s enormous collection of paintings, the vast majority of which are his own. He long ago ran out of wall-space in his four bedroom home, and both sides of his garage are modeified with shelves loaded with paintings, categorized and alphabetized. It’s like a library or vinyl album collection, only it’s all paintings on panels or canvas, sometimes still in frames, but mostly loose.

As we drank a glass of wine together, we talked about art, painting, his career, his fun memories of his duties an a special agent, the art of getting a confession (for much of his career he obtained more confessions from criminals than anyone else around using psychology, relationship-building and a polygraph machine — much more often than not, the polygraph was unnecessary), and of course we talked about Pearl.

He’s done between 2– and 300 paintings of his late wife Pearl among the hundreds if not thousands of paintings he’s done. Pearl was the love of his life and he is never at a loss for words describing the beauty and gentleness of the woman who preserved his heart in a career that could have stripped him of it.

"I’ve never known a more selfless person in my whole life," he sighs.

Sadly, cancer took her life 7 years ago, and George was left with a home full of memories of her and their children together — and his box of paints. He visits her grave site a couple of times a week, and talks to her, hoping she’s around somewhere to hear.

I once heard that a "real" artist is one who will spend days, weeks or months on a creative pursuit and never care if anyone ever sees the work. This is largely true of George. The vast majority of his oil paintings are in deep stacks along the walls in his studio, the garage, on the piano, and so on. He mostly does portraits and figures, and if it were not for a visit to his home, or catching his fancy as a friend to whom he’d like to give an original portrait, you’d never know otherwise that he paints. He’s doesn’t try to sell them, but for some commissions he talks about. Many people who have been blessed to know him have received a portrait from him as a gift.

Painting is what he loves to do to pass the slow-moving time and remember his friends, and especially his favorite model of all time, Pearl.

Feminine Study in 5 Values

Feminine Color Study in 5 Valuesby David R. Darrow
6" x 6" (15.2cm x 15.2cm)
Oil on Panel
SOLD
Collection of Denise Rich,
El Cajon, CA – USA

About This Painting

Sometimes an artist wants to see what he or she can accomplish with as few strokes as possible and still communicate to the viewer the essence of what the artist saw.

To do this four fundamentals are needed, Drawing (Proportion), Value (Light to Dark), Edges (Transitions between shapes and hues) and Color (Hue). These have been listed in the order of importance, in my opinion.

Here, I did a study using 5 values of a few hues in rapid fashion to “make notes” of the model’s face. Rendering and realism are not important here, just the placement and shape of the values. ◙

Sarah A

Sarah Aby David R. Darrow
6" x 6" (15.2cm x 15.2cm)
Oil on Panel
SOLD
Collection of Dan Medcalf,
Indianapolis, IN – USA

About This Painting

This study is of one of the viewers of my internet broadcast (Dave the Painting Guy) who is an enthusiastic artist and my friend, Sarah A.

This started purely as an experiment to paint using our modern technological advances. Sarah, who lives 2500 miles from me, posed for me via a Skype video connection, and this ended up being painted from a screen-capture. I was going to try to paint her live, but was having tech-issues with the connection that day.

Sarah is a lovely young woman, gracious in personality and appearance and was a pleasure to paint. ◙

The Colors of Black

The Colors of Black - a Portraitby David R. Darrow
8" x 10" (20.3cm x 25.4cm)
Oil on Canvas Panel
SOLD
Collection of J. Arce,
Jacksonville, IL – USA

About This Painting

Ever since I was a child, I thought it was odd that they called some people black and others white, red, yellow or brown — okay, I got the “brown” reference, but it seemed to me, at that young age, that we were all some variation of brown, anyway… dark browns, light browns, pinkish browns, yellowish browns, reddish browns…

As an artist I have always been intrigued by the colors I see in a dark-skinned person’s flesh, and enjoy the particular challenge of mixing those colors. Color Theory tells me that, in its most basic elements, color is a combination of the following things: the color of the light landing on an object, the spectrum absorption of the object, and the spectral reflectance of that same object all combined with individual color perception (it’s possible others see the same color differently than I do, which theoretically makes it a different color than I see).

Color Theory says that an orange, for example, has properties that reflect the orange range (red and yellows) of the available light spectrum but absorb all the other colors, and therefore our eyes only pick up the “orange light waves” that are reflected at us.

So, from an observational standpoint, and depending on the environment, some people (their flesh tones) reflect or absorb colors of the spectrum differently than others.

Wen painting this, I observed that there were very few mixtures that included actual white pigment, and many that included blues or purples to balance the golden browns, while much of the other color was absorbed deep into shadow. ◙

5-Value Head Study

5-Value Head Studyby David R. Darrow
6" x 6" (15.2cm x 15.2cm)
Oil on Panel
SOLD
Collection of Linda Reynolds,
Tampa, FL – USA

About This Painting

The following may only be interesting to other artists. It’s a long-held principle that a good portrait has a reduced set of values. Five values is common among the great painters, especially seen in the work of John Singer Sargent.

I decided to give it a try, and I started by mixing 5 equally-spaced values using a mixing knife and two tubes of oil paint: raw umber and titanium white.

I quickly painted this head study starting with my darkest dark, then filled in the rest where appropriate.

Two values for shadow, and 3 values for the lights. ◙

Sofa Nude, Alla Prima

Sofa Nude, Alla Primaby David R. Darrow
14" x 11" (35.6cm x 27.9cm)
Oil on Stretched Canvas
SOLD
Collection of Kathy Brusnighan,
Greensboro, NC – USA

About This Painting

This nude was painted as perhaps the first demonstration I ever did on my live broadcast Dave The Painting Guy. I was painting for no one, then someone showed up and started asking questions… the rest is history. ◙

Open Letter to Langnickel Royal Brush Co.

Contact Addresses: customerservice@royalbrush.com & gus@royalbrush.com

Royal Brush Manufacturing
6707 Broadway
Merrillville, Indiana 46410
United States
219-660-4170

Please deliver to the President/CEO of Royal Brush Manufacturing

Dear Langnickel,

I don’t know if you guys realize what a gold mine you are sitting on, and how you are squandering the value of it through manufacturing inconsistencies (handle length, handle color, unavailability, etc.) and quality inconsistencies.

Admittedly, I don’t know if the market for your Royal Sable (series 55xx) is currently big enough to reorganize your manufacturing processes, but I do know that virtually every major portrait artist and influential oil painter I know who uses Langnickel brushes is actively looking for a suitable alternative, citing the same things I experience on a regular basis.

First of all, let me tell you that everyone I know, who I have convinced to give your Royal Sable long-haired, long-handled filberts a try LOVES them. It’s an absolutely BRILLIANT concept… The shape is flawless and the fiber length is unmatched. The springiness is superb, and the strength of the hairs is wonderful. I paint better because of these brushes.

Just a few of the names of influential artists I know who use your brushes: Morgan Weistling, Richard Schmid, Jeremy Lipking, Dan Gerhartz, Casey Baugh and many, many others, including myself. I personally have a live broadcast venue, (Dave the Painting Guy) that reaches over 500 interested viewers (and rapidly growing), many of whom always want to know what brand/series of brushes I use.

I always tell them the brand name and series, but I always add, “You will come to love and hate Langnickel Royal Sable brushes. You will love them because they feel right. They apply paint just right. But you will hate them because you never know what you’re going to get with them, and they do not manufacture enough for the market — they are very difficult to find.”

I tell them plainly that I can receive in the same batch purchased a brush that lasts for months, even years, and a brush that loses half or even all it’s hairs immediately when I pinch out the oil into a rag. Many of my Royal Sables have become useless in an hour or two because of so many lost hairs that the remainder do not stay on the ferrule any more. (Can’t you embed the hairs in an epoxy or glue to keep them inside?)

These brushes shed like no other brush I have owned. This is one of the only frustrating outside influences I experience when painting, interrupting the flow of the usual problem-solving that is the joy of painting.

One of my favorite brushes is virtually always out of stock, everywhere I look: the 5520 #8, blue handle.

By the way, what’s with blue handles and red handles in the same series number? It is my belief that the filberts, 5520-blue have longer hairs than the 5520-red — why don’t you have a different series number if they are going to be that different? If they are not supposed to be different, please note that they are extremely different, and these inconsistencies are hurting your popularity.

And if you’re going to have long-handled brushes or short-handled brushes, PLEASE make them a different series number. When ordering by phone (the only way I will order Langnickel brushes) I always request that the sales person get hold of the brushes personally so I can ask about the length of the hairs, the length of the handles, the color of the handles, etc., BECAUSE there is no consistency.)

Look, some of the most popular in influential artists in the US use Langnickel bushes, and virtually every artist who likes their work always wants to know what kind of brushes the artist uses. You cannot buy honest word-of-mouth advertising, and there is no such advertising more believable, therefore important.

Is there anything you can do to improve the quality, consistency, series numbering and availability of Your Royal Sables in the 5520, 5525, 5590 series and others?

I sincerely want to promote your brushes with no “buts”…

David R. Darrow
<address and phone number omitted here>

Update #1
I just received (less than 2 hours later) a phone call from ‘George’ who owns Royal/Langnickel who apologized for the inconsistency in the brushes, and promised he will see what he can do to introduce better consistency, check the cement inside the ferrules, etc. — I dunno. But he did say to send them any brushes I am dissatisfied with and they will replace them.

Please, if you read all this and agree, leave comments to this blog post below, and also write to Langnickel yourself. If they are doing their job right, they will be searching the web to find out what people think of their product. Be kind and be to the point. Be encouraging. Let them know how you as a painter would prefer their brushes could be improved. Everyone is having a harder-than-usual time of things these days.

Update #2
Following George’s call to send them any of my brushes which have been poorly manufactured, I mailed 3 of my brushes which had either become poorly shaped because of loose hairs/fiber or brushes the ferrule of which I had to crimp with a pliers.

(I mailed them by sandwiching them in a folded piece of corrugated cardboard 1.5″ loner at each end than the brushes; included a letter explaining that the fibers were coming out too easily; sealed it, addressed it, stamped it.)

Within a reasonable amount of time, I was shipped free replacement brushes, along with a letter explaining that they understood the handle/series confusion, and explained that they are aware of an issue with the glue or cement they are using, and are switching over to a newer one. Some of the brushes previously manufactured with the older cement are still in “circulation” in various inventories, so they cannot guarantee that won’t happen again in the short term, but the letter reiterated that “Langnickel stands behind all its brushes. You may return any that are unsatisfactory and we will replace them.”

Update #3
2014, October 7 — Langenickel has stopped manufacturing these, but the good news is you can get a far superior version from Rosemary & Co., a handmade brush company in the UK. The Rosemary & Co. Master’s Choice Series brushes, which solve all the problems of the Langenickels and match the specifications of leading portrait painters who worked with her to develop these fine brushes can be purchased from a USA distributor, Claudia Williams, from her website.

Corpsman Meeks Back in the Studio Tonight

Broadcast Screen Shot 

Kyle Meeks in studio for live portrait, last night.

I had an unexpectedly great time painting my friend Kyle last night, formally Corpsman Kyle Brock Meeks, U.S. Navy; Senior Line Corpsman for Alpha 3rd Platoon, 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, 1st Marine Division. 

Despite some technical challenges, and arranging the studio, cameras and computer monitor so Kyle could participate in the chat, the painting session was one of my all-time favorites.

I have never painted someone who, though present to pose, was also actively communicating. Of course, I asked him to, and I accepted the challenge of painting him while he was sharing so many fascinating stories of his military tour. (Tonight, however, I am going to have him pose with his mouth closed while I finish his mouth, which, subsequently to the frame shown above, I wiped off the canvas.)

Technical difficulties at the uStream.tv end of this broadcast caused a Broadcast FAIL and my show abruptly ended mid-sentence as Kyle was laying out a great story of the time spent alone in a Jordanian hospital while waiting for his ‘boy’ (an injured Marine in his care) was attended to. I attempted for some time to re-connect, but it was impossible for unknown reasons. I am so sorry!

The painting will continue tonight with Kyle in-studio one more time, tonight, starting at 5pm, Pacific time.

Click here to go to the show URL at the proper time.

Emily

As promised, below is a sharper photo of the painting of Emily, created last week for her mother. (if you want to see it a bit larger, click the image)

Emily

Alan C. Campbell Portrait

Alan Campbellby David R. Darrow
11" x 14" (27.9cm x 35.6cm)
Oil on Canvas Panel
SOLD
Collection of Alan C. Campbell,
San Diego, CA – USA

About This Painting

This portrait of my client Alan Campbell was started with Alan in the studio watching while I painted during the broadcast of Dave the Painting Guy.

I asked him if I could paint him because I like his face and I like him. He balked at the idea at first, but I talked him into posing for photographic reference for the painting, and then he became interested in obtaining the painting for his office.

So, what started out as a Fine Art piece for me to paint and sell, became a portrait commission. Either way, it was fun to paint.

Alan is a recognized, award-winning architect in San Diego. Visit the website of Alan C. Campbell. ◙

Captain Nick

Captian Nickby David R. Darrow
14" x 11" (35.6cm x 27.9cm)
Oil on Canvas Panel
SOLD
Collection of Simon Wickstrom,
Alameda, CA – USA

About This Painting

I first met Nick at North Coast Calvary Chapel in Carlsbad, CA. He was a ‘morning greeter,’ welcoming people as they walked in the front door, greeting them with a big smile, friendly eyes… and something you just could not help but notice: the biggest hands you’ve ever felt giving you a handshake.

My own hands are large; Nick’s are massive.

When I moved my studio to Oceanside in 2007, I discovered Nick was my new neighbor, and we chatted from time to time. He’d had to retire due to a heart condition, the treatment of which seemed to be barely tolerable. His weight increased rapidly over a few months, and this once grizzly, hulk of a human was reduced — by increased size — to a man at the mercy of distances, stopping to catch his breath every 15 feet or so when merely walking. He was always kind, generous and jovial, with endless stories of days in Hollywood as a stunt-double, or other bit parts.

A few months before I moved to Encinitas, Nick told that me a good friend in Costa Rica had invited him to come down there and help him out with his new Club for mostly American tourists, right on the beach, free grub and free rent and a small paycheck.

I asked him if I could come, too.

One day, in those last weeks, I dropped by with my camera and asked him if I could shoot some pictures of him for a painting.

“Me?” he gasped. “I thought you wanted to be a successful painter,” he winked. A moment later he was up scrounging around in some of his packed boxes for his hat collection, and pulled out this delightful captain’s hat. I suggested that he’d look official if he had a pipe. “Oh, I have one right over here, he said, turning around to get one out of his china hutch.

I snapped about 10 shots and left him alone, thanking him for the inspiration. A week later his apartment was empty, and Nick was on his way to Costa Rica.

I have not heard from him since.

Nick left me several hats as costume props, and several Hawaiian shirts, most of which I wear on my broadcast, my favorite being the one I was wearing in last night’s broadcast — the parrot one. Thanks Nick!

* * *

This is the painting I completed January 2nd — my first painting of 2009. I began it on the Dave the Painting Guy broadcast on January 1, 2009, and finished it the next evening. Most of it was recorded as a public clip at the uStream location. ◙

Ashton’s Morning

Ashton's Morningby David R. Darrow
14" x 11" (35.6cm x 27.9cm)
Oil on Canvas Panel

About This Painting

Ashton is a young woman I met when her family was on vacation to Carlsbad, CA.

She had me at the Coke machine.

Really! I was walking by the soda fountain on my way out the door to the back patio with my new, ice cold Palapa Pale Ale at Pizza Port when this striking beauty with large, dark eyes and cascading black curls turned towards me as she finished filling her glass. She smiled and turned to return to her table.

I have to paint her.

I followed her to her table, where she joined her family. Her mother and father, also very attractive people, looked at me with raised eyebrows as I stumbled through my introduction, telling them I am a real artist — “See, here’s my card, and it has one of my paintings on it…” — asking them if I could possibly arrange some time to paint their daughter.

They both looked at her.

She gave a look to her dad that was sort of a wide-eyed head-shake that communicated Hey, I don’t know any more about this than you do, but it sounds fun! They explained to me that they were just down here on vacation, but if they could squeeze in some time before heading home, they would call me.

They called and dad brought his 17-year-old treasure over to my studio for a quick photoshoot. It is rare that I have gotten so many paintable reference pictures in such a short time. She’s as photogenic, as she is beautiful, but her face, eyes, head-shape, hair and mouth are as easily paintable as anyone I have ever met.

And she’s a truly sweet soul.

* * *

This painting was completed on my Dave the Painting Guy live broadcast.

It is available as an 11 x 14-matted giclee in my online store. ◙

Playing with Paint

I’m starting a new painting, 5″ x 7″ on Panel.

I’m planning to do some experimenting with materials, and starting with this pencil on gessoed masonite.

The drawing is of my wife at the time. It’s from a photo that was taken by Morgan Weistling in 2002 when we visited him and his family. The shot was taken with the natural light that comes into his studio during the day.

Update

I completed this a week later… no, it did not take a week, it just took a week to get to it. I did the finish live on my Dave The Painting Guy broadcast.

I tried to keep the shadows thin and very warm, and then heavier on the opaque lights. This is to help the illusion of cool light in a warm environment.

Bethany in Green

Bethany in Greenby David R. Darrow
8" x 14" (20.3cm x 35.6cm)
Oil on Stretched Canvas
SOLD
Collection of L. Grace,
San Diego, CA – USA

About This Painting

I’m not as good at math as I should be.

And I am really lame at guessing ages.

In 1991 a little girl came into my life that would change my heart and my mind, and sway my resolutions, the subsequent blessings of which I could never have foreseen.

Bethany.

Because of Bethany, I have a wonderful daughter.

See, in 1991, my daughter did not yet exist, because her mother and I (mostly me) had decided a few years earlier to stop at 2 children. We had two fine boys, and were having plenty of fun, and absorbing the challenges that come with raising two boys on an artist’s income.

That year our little family of 4 had season passes to what is now called Six Flags Magic Mountain and decided, for reasons I cannot remember, to take some of our friends’ daughters with us. Bethany was 5, and her mother instructed her simply, “Now you hold on to Mr. Darrow’s hand the whole time, okay?” Right there in her driveway before we even left for the amusement park, she looked up at me and smiled and grabbed my hand.

Like Superman too close to Kryptonite, I began to melt… little by little throughout the day, this warm, sweet, smiling little girl brought down the giant I thought I was.

At the end of the day, I didn’t want to return her to her mother.

But I did. (It’s the law).

Later that year we decided to expand our family and “try for a girl.” And in 1992 God blessed us with a sweet daughter of our own who has been the subject of many of my paintings, and has her daddy’s heart forever.

Well, in 1994 we moved away from that area, and I have never seen anyone in Bethany’s family since. Fast-forward to 2007, Tuesday in fact, and I get an e-mail from Bethany assuming, of course, that I remember who she is.

I’m picturing a little smiling cutie looking up at me holding my hand, and I am mentally trying to stretch her image into an older person that has the facility to write e-mails (I told you math escapes me at times).

She attached to the e-mail a picture of her now… posing with a melancholy expression in front of a green wall… and that’s when reality smacked me across the face.

She’s in her early 20s now, married and just found out she’s expecting a child of her own.

How did Bethany turn into a woman in — what’s it been —three weeks? All I could write back to her was “Wow! You’ve grown up!” and then, “This picture looks so much like a work of art with that pose and lighting that I want to know if I can do an oil painting interpretation of it,” to which she enthusiastically agreed.

I showed the finished painting to my oldest son when we got together for Thanksgiving and asked him if he remembered Bethany.

“Do I remember her?” he said, as if I asked him if he likes to surf. “If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have a sister!”

The Legend of Bethany, the 5-year-old girl who melted a man’s heart, lives on.

And now she is immortalized. ◙

Distracted

Distractedby David R. Darrow
14" x 11" (35.6cm x 27.9cm)
Oil on Canvas Panel
SOLD
Collection of L. Grace,
San Diego, CA – USA

About This Painting

My daughter is one of my favorite models.

Every now and again I see her face in a certain light… the highlights glancing off her cheekbones in some way, or the pattern of the shadows bringing out her natural beauty…

In this case, I happened to catch her looking simply beautiful while she was watching a fascinating show on TV… while I messed with the lights she kept her eyes on the story from which I could not steal her. ◙

Slice of Life

Slice of Lifeby David R. Darrow
7" x 5" (17.8cm x 12.7cm)
Oil on Panel
SOLD
Collection of Robin Neudorfer,
San Marino, CA – USA

About This Painting

There’s a “farmer’s market” in a large Carlsbad, CA parking lot each Wednesday. Vendors — most of them the actual farmers of the produce the sell at the market — set up white-topped tent booths and hawk their wares for one day a week.

I think the tomatoes from local growers beat the taste of store tomatoes 365 days a year. So, when I can, I buy them from local growers.

When setting up for a new display at a local art gallery a while back, it looked to me like there was a little bit of room for another painting, and so I asked the owner if I could bring in a 5 x 7 to add to the upcoming show. Permission granted, I told her I’d “be right back” and headed home.

When I arrived in my studio, I got out a blank 5 x 7 panel and dashed to the kitchen to find something to paint.

I couldn’t resist this gorgeous, red tomato I had purchased a couple of days before at the farmer’s market. Slicing into it, juice spilled out either side, but the firm tomato fruit held its shape perfectly as I removed this aromatic wedge and posed the parts to compose my painting.

An hour later, I returned to the gallery with this finished painting, framed and wired, ready to hang.

“Careful,” I smiled. “It’s still wet.”

“You just painted it?”

“Yep. I told you I’d be right back.”

I probably priced it too high for my little known name at the time, so eventually it came back home.

It’s time to let it go. ◙

Bodice

Bodiceby David R. Darrow
7-1/2" x 11" (19.1cm x 27.9cm)
Oil on Canvas Panel
SOLD
Collection of Maria Boustani,
Beckley, WV – USA

About This Painting

I just finished my 2007 Portrait Workshop in Carlsbad, CA this past weekend. This painting was the last of the four I did as demonstrations for my painting style. In the short time allowed for demos, everything I teach gets crammed into a very rapid painting — and sometimes, these demos come out pretty rewarding.

I talk while I paint, so the workshop attendees can “hear what’s going on in my mind” — to see what I see, and understand the decisions I make with paint.

At one point, I was trying to describe the edges and value differences between the light of the model’s flesh and “that blue… uh… that, uh vest thing?”

The model who was sitting as still as a mannequin piped up. “Bodice,” and went ‘back to frozen.’

I will never forget, now. ◙

Braids and a Black Tee

Braids and a Black Teeby David R. Darrow
11" x 14" (27.9cm x 35.6cm)
Oil on Canvas Panel
AVAILABLE
e-mail to inquire.

About This Painting

Maybe you like your job a lot, but do you like it so much that you’d even watch a video of someone else doing it?

Well, that’s what I do.

I rent or buy DVDs of other artists painting. I own or have watched videos of Morgan Weistling (portraits and figurative), Scott Burdick (figurative), Richard Schmid (figures, landscapes, portrait) and Roger Bansemer (landscape, plein air), and watch them many times because I always — and I mean always — pick up something new and inspiring, each time. I am constantly inspired and awed by the work of many other artists.

This painting came about as a direct result of

  1. having just watched Weistling’s 10-hour painting video set Advanced Fundamentals for the Beginning Expert, and
  2. seeing my daughter sitting in a certain light with a certain look that is “very her” when deep in thought.

It was one of those moments where I just had to start smooshing paint on a canvas. I purposely chose a limited palette of Alizarin, Yellow Ochre, Black and White.

On Monday, I entered this painting in the Escondido Art Association’s Open Juried Show and learned today that this painting was awarded a First Place ribbon. (You can get more info on Saturday evening’s reception at their website.)

Currently the painting is available, framed, as shown, for $750 (plus tax in CA) and $20 shipping/handling. If you are interested in having it for your collection, write to me. You may also purchase it from the gallery. Either way, the gallery will receive their full commission. ◙

Older posts