Monday, December 6, 2010

Student Work: Black and White Still Life

Here are the first still life paintings from the class:

Gus Hoffman
Oil on Canvas

Mike Olaya
Oil on Canvas

Renee Larson
Oil on Canvas

Great work everyone!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Aaron Coberly Step-by-Step

Here's a nice step-by-step from Aaron Coberly:

You can click on the first image to see it animate through the stages.

Of particular note is the range of frequencies present in the finished painting.  The hands remain very low frequency, while the head and hat get a relatively higher frequency treatment- though it's still not very high.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Business Parable

This parable comes from Merlin Mann's excellent blog 43 Folders:

This parable is directed towards business owners and freelancers (particularly web designers), but it resonates for the artist all the more- artists in particular seem to have trouble when it comes time to start charging for their artwork.  I know it's something that I still struggle with.  This parable speaks to that business side, and to remember that if you make a good product, there are people out there who are willing to pay good money for it- even if it's artwork.

Being a Parable for the Edification of Independents Seeking Independence


THE OSTENSIBLE CUSTOMER enters a deli and saunters up to the counter. The deli is tended by its rakishly handsome owner, THE SANDWICH GUY.

Hi,” says The Sandwich Guy. “What looks good to you today?”

Slow down,” says The Ostensible Customer, as THE LUNCH RUSH starts trickling in. “Lots of delis want my business, so, first I need to really understand what you can do for me.”

Well,” says The Sandwich Guy, “I guess I can try to do what I do for everybody here and make you a customized version of any of the 15 awesome sandwiches you see on my menu. What’re you hungry for?”

Easy, easy, Ricky Roma! Before I make any decisions here I’m going to need to know a lot more about my options. Why are you so obsessed with ‘what I want?’”

Okay, sorry,” says The Sandwich Guy, uneasily eyeing the growing queue of The Lunch Rush now piling up behind The Ostensible Customer. “What else can I do to help here?”

That’s better,” says The Ostensible Customer. “Let’s start by sitting down for a couple hours and going over all the ingredients you have back there.”

The Sandwich Guy laughs congenially and hands The Ostensible Customer a menu. “Friend, I can make you whatever you want, but, if it helps, the 15 sandwiches listed here show all the ingredients–right there between the name and the price…”

Whoa, whoa, whoa! The price?!? Already you’re reaching for my wallet? Jeez, I barely just arrived.”
The Lunch Rush is getting restless and grumbling audibly.

Well. You know. I do sell sandwiches for a living,” says The Sandwich Guy. “Did you have a certain budget in mind for your lunch?”

Oh, God, no. I’m nowhere near that point yet. I still need to learn a lot more about how you work, and so, obviously, I have no idea what I want to pay. Obviously.”

Okay,” says The Sandwich Guy, “but…I can’t do much for you here without knowing either what you want to eat or how much money you want to spend. You get that, right?”

The Ostensible Customer is miffed.

Listen, here. What I ‘get,’ so-called Sandwich Guy, is that you’re not going to rush me into some tricky lifetime sandwich commitment until I understand precisely who I’m working with. And, so far, I do not like what I see. Still. I intend to find out more. So, meet me in Canada tomorrow to talk about this for an hour.”
The Lunch Rush begins waving their wallets as they lob their completed order forms at The Sandwich Guy’s face.

Sorry,” says The Sandwich Guy. “I can’t do that. How about I just make you a Reuben. It’s really good, it’s our most popular sandwich, and it only costs eight bucks.”

WHAT! EIGHT DOLLARS! ‘Dollars’ with a ‘d?’ That’s way too much!”

I thought you didn’t have a budget,” says The Sandwich Guy.

Well, I don’t. And, besides, I don’t really ‘need’ a sandwich at all. Now, kindly fly to Canada.”

That’s not going to happen, sir.”

Also,” says The Ostensible Customer, “if I do decide to get a sandwich from you–and it’s looking increasingly less likely that I will–I’ll absolutely expect your deeply discounted price to reflect the fact that I’m not particularly hungry right now.”

The Lunch Rush begins lighting torches and chanting a guttural chant, not unlike the haunting overtone singing of Tuvan herdsmen.

Look,” sighs The Sandwich Guy, “it sounds like you need a little more time. Here’s a free Coke and a complimentary bowl of pickles. Please have a seat, take all the time you need, then just come on up whenever you’re ready to order, okay?”

READY?!?’ TO…‘ORDER?!?’ Are you out of your mind?”


Presently, The Ostensible Customer turns beet-red.

This is an outrage! I can’t even imagine how you stay in business when you treat your customers like this.”
The Lunch Rush grows silent as The Sandwich Guy slowly leans over the counter and smiles–his nose one slice of corned beef from The Ostensible Customer’s nose.

Sir. First off: you aren’t my customer yet. Right now, you’re just some dude holding a bowl of free pickles.”
Buh?” fumbled The Ostensible Customer.

And, second, the way I ‘stay in business’ is by making great sandwiches and having as few conversations like the one we’re having as possible,” The Sandwich Guy coos.

Because, the truth is, my real customers are actually all those nice people standing behind you. They’re the people who buy my sandwiches with real money over and over again. I really like them, and so I give them almost all of my attention.”

The Sandwich Guy waves at The Lunch Rush. The Lunch Rush waves back. The Ostensible Customer looks stunned.

Sir,” says The Sandwich Guy “enjoy your Coke and your pickles with my compliments. But, please step aside. Because right now, there’s a whole bunch of hungry people trying to buy sandwiches that won’t require me flying to Canada. Next, please!

The Lunch Rush roars approval. The Ostensible Customer is still stunned. Which is unfortunate.
Because, several men from the back of the line spontaneously rush forward to drag The Ostensible Customer, screaming and grasping, onto the busy sidewalk outside, where they proceed to devour his flesh like those street urchins who eat Elizabeth Taylor’s cousin in Suddenly, Last Summer.

Meanwhile, The Sandwich Guy goes back to making sandwiches. And, The Lunch Rush goes back to eating them.


  1. The Sandwich Guy can’t do much for you until you’re hungry enough to really want a sandwich.
  2. Once you’re hungry enough, you still have to pay money for the sandwich. This won’t not come up.
  3. Few people become “a good customer” without understanding both 1 and 2.
  4. Few companies become “a smart business” without understanding 1, 2, and 3.
  5. Basing his business on an understanding of 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 doesn’t make The Sandwich Guy a dick; it makes him a smart business.
  6. If you vacation with Elizabeth Taylor? Seriously. Avoid provoking the cannibalistic rent boys.


Me? I just very much hope it takes you far less than 15 years to see and accept these sorts of things. Both as a customer and as a business.

Guys, avoid working for anyone who’s not hungry enough to compensate you for your sandwich. It literally doesn’t pay.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Class Notes - August 18, 2010

A bit backlogged getting these typed up...

  • Oiling Out
    • Why
      • Restores value of darker colors, which often lighten when they dry and turn matte.  Essentially, you need to make the colors wet again.
    • When
      • Whenever the value has shifted enough to throw off your judgment
    • Where
      • Preferably only in the areas you plan on painting in that day's session.  Straight oil with no pigment in it can do strange things to paint applied over it.
    • How
      • Take a small bit of oil on a brush and work it onto the desired areas
      • Try to keep it as thin as possible
      • If possible, wipe as much oil as possible off with a paper towel or rag.  The idea is to have as little oil as possible on the surface to re-establish the colors.
  • Painting into a couch
    • Painting into a couch refers to putting oil or medium onto the canvas to create a different surface in which to work.  It's related to oiling out, but they aren't exactly the same thing.  Oiling out is done to re-establish values, while painting into a couch is done to change the working surface of the canvas so the paint goes on differently.  So, when oiling out, you are also creating a couch to paint into.
  • Choosing/Editing Reflections
    • Sometimes it's necessary to modify a reflection or leave it out altogether in order to enhance the form.
  • The envelope
    • The envelope is an optical drawing technique where the major points on the contour of the subject are connected with straight or nearly-straight lines.  Then, the points are cross-referenced and triangulated until they are more accurate.  Then the drawing can be further divided and refined.
  • Ellipses and Cylinders

Better Sphere Rotation