The Pastel Palette Method

Monday, December 3, 2012

Is there an advantage to loneliness? I mean, is there an advantage to the creative artist, whether it be painter, writer, musician, to have loneliness? Has great art usually been accompanied with sadness? Many have said that the artist needs to be slaving away in a Spartan studio to reach the pinnacle of their creativity. The saying that art must first suffer to become successful, comes to mind.

Its a fair question. Look at the career of Van Gogh. His life was a particularly lonely one. Its argued that he was one of the most creative of painters in art history. I bet, if I was a betting man, that Vincent would rather have not been so lonely, even if it meant his work would suffer. The truth is that an artist often times is unaware when their work suffers, particularly due to happiness. Jackson Pollock, also suffered from great sadness and feeling incomplete. His work flourished and exploded in the eyes of the art world. This was in direct response to his life of emptiness. His life was fertile ground for great art.

Years ago, I lived in a full house with a loving wife and two step children. There was happy noises and a sweet voice to listen to and to share my thoughts and dreams with. I would have to say that I was very happy and very content. I painted all the time. The difference was that I did not care whether my happiness was in the way of my art. When one is happy, little else matters. I learned a great deal technically through trial and error but the work did not have the scope of pathos that is in my work today. Back then I painted about the Ancient Maya and their struggles and culture. It was removed as I was removed from their emotions. My feelings were of love, warmth and peace. There wasn't much contrast in my life.

Over the last few years my life of bliss was abruptly cut short with the harsh realities of this world we live in. Without going into details, my life did make a 180 degree change. Today I am in an empty home and there are no happy noises. In my studio there is nobody to share a sneak peak of my latest painting on the easel. Everything has happened to me so quickly that it was hard to react the first year. Now, today, my painting is no longer about a distant culture or their struggles. My paintings are pieces of me. Each painting comes off my heart in pure concentrated emotion, dripping with reality.The work directs itself as my heart is reacting to my new surroundings, so does my hand on the canvas. I do not particularly care about galleries today. They have no part in the collaboration of my work.

Out of the silence comes truth. Out of loneliness comes clarity. Do I wish I had less loneliness, less clarity and more happiness? Of course, because when I was happy I was not aware of the work's clarity, nor did I care. Loneliness does create better art because to live life is to go through pain and trials as well as mountain-top experiences. I know that God has a plan. That is what keeps me going. That is what keeps me painting and keeps me sharing.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Trying to Schedule

I and trying to schedule my bedtime by 10pm. This way I could get up early each morning and have almost 3 hours of painting time each day before I go to work. If I have any energy at night , I could do maybe one hour. I feel four
hour days five times a week , plus two 8 hour days on the weekends, would be almost painting full time , 36 hours.
It would take some discipline but I hope that I can do it. I will keep you all updated.
God Bless,

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Hulu and Productivity

Last night after work I made myself a salad and some green juice for dinner. The night started slow since I had to buy new shoes on the way home from my 9-5 job. All my shoes were destroyed by the floods.
When I finally sat down to the easel it must have been 10pm. Before putting pastel to board, I logged into Hulu plus, which is a service where you can watch new and classic tv shows, I just discovered this over the weekend. I started watching the Cosby show episodes from the late 80s on my PC. Before I knew it I was painting straight until 2 am! Unlike the tv, the computer is right by my easel. Having something familiar, positive, and funny like the Cosby Show in the background made my painting session go so smooth and effortless.
I learned something last night. Create an environment that is positive and fun around you when you paint, draw, or write. With a funny and positive show in the background, this created a sense of peace that did manifest itself in the painting session. I am also thinking that it does not stop there.
What about aroma therapy? If all the senses are relaxed, wouldn't that create a sense of peace and thus bring the fruit of peace into the work?
Don't we prepare for the mundane tasks of life? Don't we take an hour or more to prepare for work (our 9-5 s) each morning?
Let us prepare for our passionate time. Each day let's discover the peace by working and preparing for it.
Have a Blessed Day,

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


“Dost thou love life, then do not squander time,
for that's the stuff life is made of.”
~Benjamin Franklin

Is not time the most precious gift that God has given us? Yet in life it's one of the gifts that are the most taken for granted. Do you want to write that book that you know that is inside you? Do you want to take that class or get that degree? I know the sayings, "I am so tired after my 9 to 5 job." The other one I hear a lot is , "I just don't have the time." Does this sound familiar in your own life?

My life spun in a direction of being a full time painter and a full time employee in customer service. For 8 hours a day, Monday thru Friday, I answer phones for a huge .com corporation. It's ironic that nothing could be further from my vocation of painting at my easel.

Does this give me an excuse for not painting because I am tired? It only increases my responsibility to extract from the day more time for my true vocation. I owe this to myself and the world.

Just as every beautiful gift of this life, sometimes you have dig for it as buried treasure. Thats what time is. Time is a treasure that we have to actively search, find, and carefully utilize everyday.

Can you go to bed an hour earlier and wake up an hour earlier? This way you would have at least 7 hours per week to work on what you have a passion for. Is it impossible to cut out some idle television time each day or maybe three times per week? Are your dreams worth it? These are questions that you need to ask yourself. I ask myself these questions and many others each day.
Dig for the treasure in your life. Time is such a profound gift. Go out and get it.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Paint Like A Chess Player

This morning while at the easel, working on the landscape portion of my painting of "Rachel", I noticed that for me to accurately depict the layers of the painting, I am going to have to think it through like a chess player would ; Layers meaning elements that are coming forward and elements that are moving back in space.

Wikipedia defines as:
"Chess strategy (or positional play) is the aspect of chess playing concerned with evaluation of chess positions and setting of goals and long-term plans for future play."

This is exactly how we should work as artists. Let's not just paint by the seat of our pants but let us have definite modes of thinking to achieve our long term goals and future play of the painting.

An example would be the landscape that I am working on. I have to stop and ask myself, " How am I going to paint the leaves in the foreground which are in the front of the tree?" The answer is to think four or five moves ahead. It's more important to set up to a position to add the leaves rather than to execute them in the beginning. If I was to draw out the leaves first it would be an act in futility. Also if I paint the tree too dark in the under painting the leaves would not cover the darker tree in the later stages of the piece.

I am a chess enthusiast and enjoy the strategy aspect of the game. I also see many parallels between chess and painting. Each game is different and has its own set of riddles and problems to solve.

As chess players think out every move , we need to solve our visual riddles with clarity and forethought.

God Bless,

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Passion in Each Stage

Do you ever go through the motions during the week, waiting for the weekend? Have you watched the clock on your computer monitor hoping that your lunch break would arrive already? Believe me when I say to you that this describes me quite accurately :)

We are always looking to the destination so that we miss the joy of the the space between here and where we are going. Granted,where we are is usually not as exciting as where we are going. This is usually an excuse to move through periods of our lives flat and uninterested; are we not afraid that such an experience might effect where we are going? Everything we do does have a ripple effect, there is no escaping this result.

So this is where it relates to us artists; if we want to paint and draw pictures with passion, we need to have that passion in each and every stage of the work. Without passion in any one stage, will have a ripple effect onto the subsequent stages and ultimately to the final piece.

This does include the planning stage and the organization stage of the work. Make sure you that you don't rush through that either, to get to the act of drawing or painting.

Passion throughout the work will create pieces of art that are stronger in both content and technique. It will be finished, when it gets done. One amazing piece of art is better than 1000 mediocre works without passion.

God Bless,

Monday, October 15, 2012

Expanding Your Circle

I remember when I was in high school I had seen a movie that blew me away. It was called "Vision Quest".

At first glance it appears to be just another teen age coming of age movie with gratuitous sexual content but it's so much more than that! The main character Louden Swain, (played by Matthew Modine), is a high school wrestler and decides that he wants to wrestle the most feared wrestler in the state.

After making this decision he works day and night to follow the path he has chosen; everyone believes he is crazy but he remains steadfast.

Towards the end of the movie he is close to achieving the vision he had set his heart on for so long, he starts to question the validity or worth of this quest. It's there the people in his life, who witnessed his journey, remind him of its importance, not just to him but to those who had seen the struggle, the early morning runs, and the courage of his vision. Because when someone sets out on a vision quest, it's not the answers that are important; It's reaching a higher level in order to ask new questions.

It's when we reach our vision quests we lift not just ourselves but also everyone who is around us. Watch this clip and you will see what I mean.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Esther is completed

My paintings are like chapters in my life. Each and every morning, I wake up to my easel to refine the crude beginnings, little by little, into finished, fully realized paintings. It takes about three months to finish a painting. I pondered why do I take so long? Then it occurred to me; its because I would try and cut corners and slack if I allowed myself to worry about the time element. If we are going to create anything of merit, time can never be a factor.

Her name is Esther. Her story is in the Old Testament Book of Esther. She was an orphaned Jewish girl in an occupied land. Her Uncle Mordecai took her in and took care of her.  During this time, the King of Persia had his men grab all the women (virgins) from all of his provinces, so he could choose the one most beautiful woman, inside and out, as his queen.

My painting depicts Esther, some time after she was taken to the palace, before she was chosen. Here she is scared and confused but trusting in God that God has a plan for her life.

Later in the Biblical account, Esther is chosen to be the Queen of Persia. In her obedience to God she is able to inform her king of a plot to kill all the Jews and save all of her people.

Esther 4:14 (NLT)
If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?”

Esther is very important to me. In my life, I too get confused as to why things happen to me. I wonder how can any of those things make any sense what so ever. However being a christian, I know that with God, there is always hope. Waiting on God is not easy. I like fixing things and striving to make life better. However God instructs us to know that He is God and to wait.

Psalms 130:6 (ERV)
I am waiting for my Lord, like a guard waiting and waiting for the morning to come.
This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.
Now its on to "Rachel". She is the third installment of my "Women of the Old Testament" series. "  "Rachel" is about waiting. Jacob waited 7 years for Rachel and the Bible says:
So Jacob worked seven years to pay for Rachel. But his love for her was so strong that it seemed to him but a few days.

Each piece of art work is a piece of me.
God Bless,

Friday, August 31, 2012

Esther is Soon to be Revealed

Hi Everyone,

I have been at the easel almost everyday, working on "Esther". This painting has been a long journey. My summer of 2012 painting.I rarely show works in progress, so I have not shown anybody the painting yet. I guess the reason is that I do not want to have you taste something that is not fully cooked. :)

With "Esther" finishing, I am getting more and more excited about the next painting, "Rachel". My model for this piece, Soraya, has been so gracious to pose for me a second time, she was also the inspiration for "Ruth" and is a most inspiring model. . "Rachel"'s concept has evolved slowly but with timely advise, I now know what direction to take it. This weekend I will be drawing her on the painting surface. I want this painting to be 24x36". Its important to have "Rachel" started before "Esther" is completed.

Sometimes I wish that I could work faster but the work has to develop on its own accord. Each painting is its on dictator. Never is the process exactly the same twice. The surface texture is what lets me know when completion is near.With pastel I need to paint the picture at least three times to achieve this. Its hard to explain but when there is a combination of transparent and opaque passages, it feels right to me.

Don't get me wrong, I can work quickly. I can paint a portrait in three hours but it wont have that magic surface. With my painting, there is no substitute than giving my all. Pretty soon "Esther" will come off the easel and on the wall as "Rachel" takes her place.

God Bless,

Sunday, July 8, 2012 make room for what belongs.

Today was Saturday and today was one of the hottest days on record. It was over 100 degrees. I did not even leave the house. I stayed in the air conditioned studio and I worked on the current painting that is on my easel, "Esther" 24x36". I worked about 12 hours today on her.

With each day, she comes a little more in focus and towards the ultimate realization of my initial vision. This painting feels more like sculpting in stone rather than painting in pastel. This is because like stone, I am chipping away, refining, and removing what doesn't belong, to make room for what belongs.

Making room for what belongs....isn't that what we all do in our lives when we are at our most creative? To make room for what belongs means we brush ourselves off, to get our priorities straight, and reach past beyond our potential.

I am happy with today's progress; many aspects of the background and the face of Esther have an atmospheric quality that I want to achieve throughout this work. Each day is an adventure and I am eager to work. God's grace has given me inspiration and I honor Him with my painting.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Hi All,
Tonight I am working on the very final touches of "Ruth". Its bitter sweet. I don't want it to end. This painting has been on my easel each morning,for the past three months, waiting for me to to add a color note here and there. I would rise with my morning coffee in hand, and eagerly set to work. Paintings become like friends to me. I confide in them and often work out life's issues in my head while trying to solve pictorial issues. As I retire for the evening, usually the painting is the last thing I look at as I survey the day's progress.
The painting becomes a confidant when an artist lives alone. There are no lover's approval or advise on what is good or needs fixing. Its just the artist and the work...nothing to influence except for the inspiration that comes from that secret place inside the artist's heart.
Many times in my life, I could measure time and events in the painting that I was working on. With that, looking at the paintings, the joys, victories and defeats, the heartache and the beauty of those times are inside the painting.
How many summers do we have? How many tender caresses will we experience? Does anyone know? How many paintings will I have the honor from God to create and release into the world? In a few days "Ruth" will be out there...on to the next chapter on the easel.
God Bless,

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Painting Folds

Hi All,
Today I started my Tuesday morning at the easel; I have been painting the folds on the blue drapery that Ruth is wearing. After painting the eyes, the shine of the skin, the background and the shadows, one would think that the folds are not as important. All the elements of the painting are just as important even though they might not have the spotlight. I see many artists paint the spot light elements and just run out of gas with the supporting cast. How many paintings or drawings do you see the figure painted with such detail and the background is weak and wishy washy?
I look at a painting much like that of a movie. The star of the movie is important but only as good as those around them. Some of my favorite actors or actresses have been "character actors". Without them, the movie would never work.
So, I spend the next few days working out the folds of the drapery with the seriousness of an eye or lips. Without this supporting character, the star would not shine as bright.
Take Care,

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Knowledge is Awareness

Hi All,

I am very hopeful that your weekend was a wonderful one spent with family, loved ones and friends. This weekend I am working on my "Ruth " painting. I must have spent over 15 hours on her this weekend. In this stage its all about the beautification of the edges, the details and the color harmonies. It reminds me about our lives, our seasons in our lives, to be specific. In this painting, there have been many stages, or seasons.  In the first stage it was just an idea on a 4x6 inch sketchbook. Then the model posed and the drawing was on the board. It looked great. Then the under painting in black and white, and it looked great. At that point it was all rainbows, everything was going smoothly. All was smooth until the next stage.The color layers made everything look blotchy. Things did not look so hot! I stepped back and frustration, fear and panic creeped in.

Did something similar happen to you or is happening in your life? Your courtship, the early years in marriage were amazing and then the difficulty and challenges set in? Perhaps a job that started amazingly strong. Everybody loved you, you got raise after raise but now there are big changes at the office? Was there a panic? Did you stop and pray about it? Our first instinct is always to run and hide and maybe start over.

Did I start a new painting? Did I say to myself, it looks bad and I don't see how I can make this better? Like life, I stopped, relaxed and hung in there. I did pray of course because without God nothing is possible but with God all things are possible.

Psalm 23:3
"he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake."

Stick with the paintings in your lives. Please do not back down or run. Stand firm is what God told Gideon:

Judges 6:11-13
The angel of the LORD came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. 12 When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.”

We are mighty warriors of God and we will not back down because, greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world. So I am spending my time making the painting of Ruth become more beautiful each day. When its framed and in the gallery, nobody but me and God will know of the days and nights that I anguished over its future. :)
Here is a seen from a Rocky movie that is inspiring to me:
God Bless You Guys,

Friday, April 6, 2012

Quote of the Day!

If you're trying to achieve, there will be roadblocks. I've had them; everybody has had them. But obstacles don't have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don't turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.
~Michael Jordan

Happy Easter

Hi Everyone,

This quote from Barak Obama,came to mind this morning.

“Hope is not blind optimism. It’s not ignoring the enormity of the tasks ahead or the roadblocks that stand in our path.
It’s not sitting on the sidelines or shirking from a fight. Hope is that thing inside us that insists, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us if we have the courage to reach for it and to work for it and to fight for it.

What does courage mean to you? When were times when you seemingly had no more courage and it inexplicably came from nowhere?

I love the Bible verse in Joshua 1:7-9

 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

This verse has been extremely pivotal over the past year or so. Each morning was an intense struggle. In this struggle to keep up a "survival mode", I learned many things about God, myself, and my responsibilities.

God has principles that are guidelines and guide posts to life and the journey through it. These principles are found in His Word. I am finding out how to stand up under tough circumstances and have alot less pity parties (although there are times I would love one). We are not perfect and none of us are righteous. With this being said, not one of us are better than another.

I know that circumstances can be difficult and I pray for all or your trials to be conquered victoriously, but we owe it to ourselves to show up each day. Everyday lets make sure we are connected to the vine.
John 15:5
 5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

We can not do it alone. Knowing this is not as hard as we think as long as we know where to get help. 
Today I am working on my painting entitled , "Ruth" she is about 80% completed. The Bible personality of Ruth has long been an inspiration to me. She is the model of a strong, loyal, faithful woman that always gives more than she was asked as she took care of Naomi. Ruth was someone that trusted in God just as Joshua did. God richly rewarded her as He did Joshua. Although Ruth was a foreigner in the land of Israel, she became the great grand mother of King David (which is in the lineage of Jesus).
I hope that you all have a wonderful Easter.
Take Care,

Sunday, January 15, 2012

January and the Chill of Snowy White Boards

How are you all today? Yesterday I went to the art store and did what I should have done a very long time ago. I purchased much needed gesso and prepared the boards for this month's paintings, both for fine art and for selling. 
In February, I am starting my next major painting (God Willing). I am excited about it and I want to just have fun more than anything. I have been perfecting the under painting process. When I started the under paintings years back I was faced with the dilemma of having the under paintings looking rough and coarse.; However with the advent of new techniques and tools, the under painting has become one of the most refined stages in my work. That has been the motto for me since I was a kid; whatever it is I am having trouble with, make it a strength through hard work and perseverance.
I am finishing a couple of commissioned portraits this month. They have been instrumental in getting me back into shape artistically. Speaking of shape, I have been going to the gym since late September and the process of getting into shape is spilling over into my work. Maybe I should look for pastels with heavy weights attached? :)
God Bless.

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