Category Archives: Uncategorized

Needs Must…

Most of you know my view on projecting a photographic image for the purpose of painting. If you don’t, you can read about it HERE.  In general I’m not in favor of it. It’s normally a point of honor for me to hand-render my images whether I’m working from life or from photos. However, there are times when “needs must”. I’m going to be a little vulnerable here and admit that the nature of my current deadlines necessitate the use of a projector in order to save a couple of hours time. We’ll have to see if I can pull this off. 

Stand by…

PS- I want to stress that if you use a projector YOU MUST ALREADY BE A GOOD DRAFTSMAN in order to make a fine painting. If you still can’t draw well the projector won’t save you. Trust me.

Everything is Relative

If you paint region by region as I do, make sure you’re aware that each individual object is part of a larger whole. The learning painter is often so detail oriented that he easily loses sight of this fact. One must constantly shift one’s focus from macro vision to micro vision and back again. These iPhone pics of my current work-in-progress (WIP) demonstrates how I paint a bit of the surrounding areas to give me a better context for finishing the more important elements. 


Note: this is just the complete overpainting. There will be some glazing applied later which will add richness and subtlety to the color. 

Finished and Framed. Ready for shipping.

In Honor of the Dead

Today I’m rushed. I have a deadline. I don’t have the time I really would like to give my paintings. I have a show planned for May. Yet my mind is calm as I get into the paint. I begin my dance with brush and panel. I settle into the familiar and delicious feel of the paint as I mix the colors with my brush. I feel the indescribable contentment that comes from the oneness I have with my materials. I find the forms of my observed subject as I apply stroke after stroke. An unconscious rhythm evolves and I hope the result will be the creation of something that has meaning for at least one other person. 

5000 miles away a mother weeps for her dead son. A daughter prays for her injured father. Friends grieve their common loss. Beasts of destruction congratulate themselves. (I have a friend who tells me “evil does not exist”. I don’t understand this notion.)

Today I rush, painting as fast as I can in a kind of controlled desperation. I live in my calling. Tomorrow I might be dead.

Second Periscope Feed on Monday

Hi Everyone,

We will have another Periscope broadcast on Monday, November 16 at 10:30 am Pacific Time. I will be teaching about glazing. Hopefully we will be able to improve the quality of the video from last time. Thanks so much for the feedback! 

If you are unable to watch the broadcast in real time, the feed will stay live for 24 hours. To see this Periscope broadcast please follow which is the hosting studio of my workshop. 

This is an interesting technology. I hope to learn as I go and improve as I learn. I appreciate the suggestions. 

See you Monday!


Periscope Broadcast Tomorrow

Hey Everyone,

I am currently teaching a still life workshop at Whisbey Island Fine Art Studio. Tomorrow, Saturday November 14 at 10:30am Pacific Time we will be broadcasting my demo of The Overpainting on a portion of my still life demonstration piece. Please follow to tune in. This is my first experience with Periscope so I hope it all goes well. For those of you who cannot attend a workshop this will be a unique opportunity for you to get a “look in” to one of my classes. 

Sorry for the late notice. Please comment and let me know what you thought of it. 

Best wishes,


Be Good to Yourself and Your Art


Hi Everyone,

I just want to send out a quick reminder. Don’t forget to exercise today. If all you do is take ten minutes to get your breathing going and your blood flowing, your body’s going to like that. And your art, too. All that sweat will clear your mind, heighten your mood, and get you ready for whatever challenges you have coming today. Oh, and by the way, do it again tomorrow…and the next day…and…




Real Time Underdrawing in Oil

Today I am starting a painting with a slightly more advanced method of beginning. No toned canvas and no careful drawing in charcoal. I am using Raw Umber thinned with OMS on acrylic primed hardboard. You can see that I am measuring but in a different way. You can tell that every mark I make is executed with extreme care. I am visually measuring distances; constantly comparing the spaces between such landmarks as hairline, bottom of the chin, etc.

I really wanted to give you the gist of how careful I am when I start the process. During the last workshop I taught I was just amazed by how quickly (and inaccurately) the students were laying down paint. If you want to be a realist you must train yourself to sssllooooooowww down and make marks that you can be reasonable sure are accurate. Double check and triple check your measurements before moving on to the next one.

If you are still relatively new to this type of painting I still advocate careful comparative measuring with some sort of measuring tool such as a knitting needle (my preference) and drawing with vine charcoal (also my preference). When you have many paintings under your belt with this method you can start to try the way I am demonstrating here in this video.

Below is an image of the finished painting entitled “De la Tour’s Child”.

ws_delatourschild (720x535)

Dave’s Tips to Becoming a Better Artist

Self-Portrait, ca. 1630
Anthony van Dyck (Flemish, 1599–1641)

The other day I received an email from someone asking me what were the practices that made me a better artist. I thought it was a great question. My answer may not have been exactly what the writer was looking for, but I was grateful for the opportunity to think about what it was that really helped me in my artistic journey. Most people write to ask about skin tones, or materials, or how to sell paintings, or the like. Knowing those things is all well and good, but they are not key to getting you anywhere in the long run if you want to master your craft. Don’t get me wrong. It’s good to know those things (and I hope you are asking more artists than just me). They are all pieces to a huge puzzle. But what I hope to offer here is what I think are some really important things to consider if you want to maximize your potential.

1. Get some good formal training if possible. I think it’s a mistake to try to teach yourself everything. Even a workshop now and then is better than nothing.

2. Try to strike a path with your approach. What I mean is, if you are really serious about painting you can’t do a little of this and a little of that (a little impressionism, a little watercolor, a little photorealism, etc.). If you still need to explore before you define your path, that’s fine. Don’t rush it. But do make a decision. May I submit to you that once you get a good handle on one type of expression your other experiments will be much more meaningful.

3. Related to point #2 — Identify for yourself what you want to paint, why you want to paint it, how you want to paint it. Describe to yourself what you hope to communicate in your artistic expression. (if you can do this you are well on your way)

4. Also related to point #2 — Pick three artists (minimum) that you want to emulate in your work. Study everything you can about them. Try to identify what it is about their work that you like. Do some master copies of their work.

5. Get serious and schedule regular time in your week to paint.

6. Have a methodical approach to your work. Formulate a step by step method. Take into account both your strengths and your weaknesses.

Happy Painting,


7. Teach, or at least be able to articulate your approach as if you were going to teach it.