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Waste Not Want Not

As an artist, more than I’d like to admit, “waste not want not” has a lot to do with how I function.  It took me a long time to decide to switch from watercolor to acrylic, partly because I already had tons of unused watercolor supplies: paper, brushes, paint, etc. which would all be “wasted” if I didn’t use them.

Now that I’m using acrylics, I’m careful not to buy too much paint, because you never know what you might want or need in the future.  Maybe I’ll ultimately decide not to continue working with fluid acrylics, or whatever.  In my abstract sketch class, I continue to use my watercolors to do the sketches (it will take me forever to use them up this way) and I sketch on both sides of the paper, because I’m never sure at that stage which sketch will turn into a successful acrylic painting.

Then, once I’ve done the painting, if it’s successful and I like it, I might still decide to do the painting of the sketch on the other side. Hey, it might be even better than the one I just finished. And if not, no harm done.

If a painting isn’t completely successful, I have a couple of options.  For example:

Wishing (initial painting)

Wishing (initial painting)

I actually like this, but that red swoop at the top right is just too dominant (and the yellow and orange squares), and everything just sorta gets washed out at the bottom.  So my first line of attack is to crop it vertically (you can see the pencil line telling me where) and horizontally.

Wishing (cropped)

Wishing (cropped)

This is much better, but I’m actually only cropping it digitally, not really cutting it up.  And that’s because my second line of attack is to paint the sketch on the other side and see which I like more.  Either way, whoever buys it, gets two for the price of one.  And that really is “waste not want not.”

Dorjee Points the Way

Dorjee is a very sketchable model at the Art Students League.  One of her 10 minute poses turned into this Dorjee Points the Way painting.  How I got from a relatively quick watercolor sketch to this completed painting … well, let’s just say it involved a color wheel, a big round brush, red, green, blue and yellow acrylics, lots of squinting and standing back, not a few groans and a significant amount of perseverance.

Dorjee Points the Way

Dorjee Points the Way 12 x15 $800

Using the color wheel, I picked the red first and then the green and blue split complementaries.  Yellow was the accent added at the end. Warm colors come forward, so I made the large shape on the right red.  I made the green go behind it by adding shadows.  Etc. Etc.

The end result is the painting almost rotates, with the right side coming forward and the left going behind or underneath what it abuts.  Even though this is obviously a 2-D surface, there is a fair amount of push-pull going on.  This was fun.  It’s so motivating when things work out.

Date: 2016.  Size: 12 x 15.  Price: $800.

O’Cain Class Show has wonderful, varied work.

We just finished hanging it in the Gallery at the Art Students League, and the O’Cain Class Show has wonderful, varied work, if I do say so myself.

Some examples:

My paintings on Yupo

Three of my acrylic paintings on Yupo.


O'Cain Class Project

The O’Cain Class Project

The O’Cain Class Project was painted horizontally but hung vertically.  Of the paintings on the left, the bottom one is mine.

And a further example of the varied work in this show:

Varied work in O'Cain Class Show

Varied work in O’Cain Class Show

The show is pretty impressive.  It will only be up for a week (Jan. 11-18), so don’t miss it. The Gallery is open generally from 9:00 am to 8:00 pm

New Acrylic Paintings in Class Show

Frank O’Cain’s Abstract Sketch Class is having its class show at the Art Students League, January 11-17, 2016.  I will have 4 new acrylic paintings in the class show.  Come to see the show in the 2nd floor Gallery, M-F 9am-8:30pm; Sat 9-3.

The Watcher  is more like some of my recent watercolor paintings, but in acrylic.  The other 3 (not shown here) are acrylic on Yupo and very different.

The Watcher

The Watcher       11×15       $750

This started as a watercolor sketch (in blue) from my afternoon Abstract Sketch class. There was a model, although that’s hard to tell from this painting. I can see the hand, the model’s vest, the stool he was sitting on … but that’s only because I was there.

Later in the week, as an experiment, I decided to work in blue, green and blue-green acrylic, plus white.

Sometimes, you just don’t know what will work until you try it. It’s not a color combination I’ve ever tried before.




Capture the drama of flamenco

Since my trip to Spain in 2014, I’ve made any number of attempts to capture the drama of flamenco. Watercolor, charcoal, you name it, they all fell short … very short.

It wasn’t until I started to experiment with acrylic, specifically acrylic on Yupo, that things started to click. The acrylic gave me the dramatic, bright colors. The Yupo “paper” allowed me to slide the paint around, capturing the gesture and motion of flamenco.  And my special lift out tool (cut up credit card) let the light shine through.


Flamenco       9 x 12       $600



Art Exhibit at 96 Street Public Library

The 1100 Watercolor Society (of which I am a member) is having an art exhibit at the 96 Street Public Library (Lex – Park) from January 4 through January 29, 2016.  Artists Reception: Saturday, January 9, 2016 2-4pm (Lower Level).

I have three paintings in this exhibit, all of which I like, but one of which represents a change in direction for me.

I Can Fly

I Can Fly      18×24      $1400

Frustrated by my inability to capture the wonderful pattern in a scarf in our complicated still life set-up at the Art Students League, I washed out the whole thing. When all that was left were vague shadows of the previous painting, I grabbed a big brush and just started swooping in the color. Because I wasn’t worried about ruining anything, (or creating a “masterpiece” for that matter), the painting just happened.

At the end of the summer, I was getting ready to start working in acrylic, something that simultaneously thrilled and terrified me. This painting says: Everything is going to be okay. I can fly.

Some paintings are never done

You know the saying, “A woman’s work is never done.”  Well, in my world, some paintings are never done.

Back in July 2015 I did a blog post: “Lobster — how to fix a painting.”  And I really thought I’d done it, fixed the painting, that is.  I should learn to never say a painting is done.  It’s only done, for now.

So here is the latest version of Lobster.


Lobster       11×15       $750

Just for comparison, here is the previously finished version:



I do think the latest version is done, and a distinct improvement over the previous version, but who knows how I’ll feel six months from now.