Clamming in Maine


I’m so excited to have the professionally scanned image to share with you on my blog.  I wanted to wait until the painting was given as a gift before posting it so I wouldn’t somehow spoil the surprise through social media or whatnot.  I got the report back today that it was very well received and that the grandmother of all these kids “burst into tears and sobbed” over it.  She hung it above their fireplace.  I’m so flattered.  They had it framed before having it shipped off to Maine for a 50th wedding anniversary celebration and I know the frame looked great.  I am honored to be a part of it.



Figure 8!


There she is, the last kid to get a face.  She was the first to get a suit.  You may have noticed that in the original drawing she was wearing a string bikini, but since this is a painting for her grandparents, we decided to put a one piece on her.  This girl is tall, 6 feet.  She would tower over the little guy next to her is she stood up.  I think she is a beautiful girl.  At first I had her head turned down instead of looking out at us and she looked so so sad like that.  Her head and hair hanging down, crawling off the canvas.  She looks waaaaaaay better now.  This girls face was hard to paint because about half of it was not in frame in the original picture.  So I had to puzzle out what I thought she looks like, and I’ve never seen her before.  Her aunt sent me some other pics of her.  That helped.  If nothing else, she’s pretty and I have her high cheekbone right.

Now all I have left is that clam bucket that I have been ignoring.



Figure 1 has a face now


Hooray!  This buff little guy has a face now!  He was the first figure I painted in, you might remember, and I got to his face and made a few attempts at it but didn’t know what direction to take with all their faces.  So I moved on from him.  Now I’ve come back and put his face together. He’s cute, he has a baby face and a football players body.  I decided to paint their faces in all the way, pretty tight.  I didn’t know if I would like the tight painting of their faces in contrast to the loose big strokes of the sand, grass, water, hills.  But I love it.  The figures are starting to sit right in their space.  When I paint in a face I first measure where the features will go, with my divider/compass (I think it’s a divider because it’s pointy on both sides) and I mark where the eyes, nose, ear, hairline, and corners of mouth go.  At that stage the portrait is pretty terrible looking and I ALWAYS have a moment or two of self doubt.  But then I put in the darks (which makes it look worse), the medium tone, and the light.  I use 3 values to start. Then I take a picture of my painted image and a photo of the photo I’m using (so both are the same size) and I flip back and forth between the two on my phone and make adjustments.  What needs to be changed becomes pretty obvious that way.  I look at faces as shapes and values.  Whew.  I have 2 more faces to work out.  They all have faces but I’ve found it takes two passes to get them looking the way I want.

I hope I’m not boring you all posting the same painting in parts.  It’s one that has a lot to it.

I love the “heat” on those 2 girls, the one in purple and blue.  And look at her little foot and the clam in her hand.  It’s nice when I can look back and enjoy things I’ve painted, it’s not always that way.

Thanks for looking!


Little Faces


I (we) decided to turn Maggie’s head so that she could have her portrait painted too.  We thought she might feel left out if everyone else had their faces painted.  I also gave the guy in blue some simple features. I turned another head to paint her portrait too.  It was hard, but hopefully everyone will be happy.  I think she has a cute little face.  I think in the painting it’s one inch from chin to hairline.  It was pretty unforgiving and beat me up to there and back again.

Here’s how it was before:



Figures 5, 6, and 7


I’m still working out a few things with the figure in the back, but she’s close.  The girl in the middle in the blue suit is by far my favorite figure in the bunch.  The little one in purple in front with her dress stretched across her knees is also nice, but I love the color of the other gals inside leg.  It’s coming together, my guess is that it will be all finished in a week.

Thanks for your nice comments about Sammy’s art.  He is a great kid.


Figures 2, 3,and 4


I started on these 3 kids today.  They are cousins digging for clams on a beach in Maine.  I feel like it’s a good first pass.  I see the little guy in orange still needs hands.  I’ve decided to turn the heads of most of the kids so it’s less posed and more of a look into what they were  doing, clamming together in Maine.  Hanging out and grandma at grandpa’s house.  I wonder if they had a clam bake.IMG_5239



Figure 1


I started my first kid crawling around on the beach digging for clams.  I’ve reached the point in this painting where I feel like I might have a breakdown over it.  It happens every time at some point with every painting.  I panic and think, holy crap this doesn’t look like anything but crap.  Then I keep going.  I’ve figured out that if I can move on through that/this stage I can usually pull something decent out. But that’s hard to remember in the moment.  No matter what people say, painting is not relaxing.  I’m trying to figure out what to do about the kids faces.  I don’t really want to do full blown face portraits of each kid, I think it might take away from the painting rather than add to it.  At the same time, 7 out of 8 of them are looking out at the person that took the picture.  I’m thinking of turning some heads.  And just suggesting a few looking right out.  Like this kid.  What do you think?  I like how the strokes are loose and biggish and suggested on the kids shorts and body, but if I put a million little strokes on his face it will not go together.  But I don’t want it to look like I just can’t paint a face.  hmmm.

On a happier note, I am happy with how his shorts look.

If you are wondering how I got the kids drawn onto the canvas so neatly with no erasing, measuring lines, grid, etc, I drew it all out on a sheet of newsprint first and then used contact paper to transfer the image so I didn’t have to draw it again and could make my mess on paper.  Much easier to do on paper than canvas.  And paper you can toss out many sheets that don’t look good.