Sunday, July 1, 2012

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Lower Falls, Rochester, NY

During spring break we drove through western New York and spent a few hours in Rochester. One of the places we visited was Lower Falls park. Situated below one of the Eastman-Kodak buildings on the Genesee river, Lower Falls is a powerful waterfall. I've painted dozens of waterfalls, but this is the first that incorporates urban structures into the painting.

Lower Falls, Rochester, Ny - 23x15" Acrylic on paper

Monday, February 27, 2012

North Ridge Country Club 2012 Art Gala

Wow what a night! A second place award for my Crabtree Falls painting, several sales and now a solo show at the club through the end of March.

I had two paintings selected for the juried competition: Crabtree Falls and Merchants Millpond State Park #1. Roger Manley - Director of the Gregg Museum of Art and Design at NC State University selected these paintings and subsequently chose one for an award. I am humbled and thrilled - the selection of works was amazing. The North Ridge Country Club also purchased this piece along with the first and third place winners for their permanent collection! Wow!

This is the second year I have done this show and both times it is top notch. My friends Pat and George do an amazing job coordinating the show and making it real easy for the artists.

To top it off: along with the award - North Ridge CC is showing sixteen of my paintings throughout March. It is beautiful clubhouse and the display looks great.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Confederate Cemetery at Oakwood

Oakwood cemetery is located in downtown Raleigh, NC. The cemetery is hundreds of years old with a portion of it devoted to the Confederate Soldiers who served in the American Civil War. Like many military cemeteries the markers are all consistent in size and shape and geometrically uniform in how they are positioned on the ground. This aspect of the composition immediately attracted me. I have visited this cemetery several times, but this is the first I visited the area during the winter months. The lack of leaves on many of the towering trees created a beautiful background to an already interesting composition. This probably prompted me to to paint this challenging work. 

Confederate Cemetery at Oakwood - 48x36 Acrylic on Panel

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Sampson Arts Council - Solo Show

Beginning with an opening reception tonight January 12 - I will have nearly 40 paintings on display at the Sampson County Arts Council in Clinton, NC. The show is at the Victor R. Small house in Clinton and the show runs through February 23rd. The picture shown is one of man paintings that is on display that reflects the unique landscape of Sampson county, NC.

For full details and directions please visit the Sampson Arts website.

Sunday, December 18, 2011


Santa came a bit early early this year and brought me a companion to keep me company in the studio. Penny is a ten week redbone coonhound. She already has tried to steal paint tubes, brushes and numerous other items and is quite the terror. Still she is a welcome addition to the Mullen home - since our previous dogs both passed on within the last year the house has become quite lonely. Despite her puppy antics everyone is certain she will be a ray of sunshine for many years to come.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Sampson County Cotton Field

This is a painting inspired from a photograph taken on Halloween. Driving through Sampson county on the way back from Wilmington, I saw many of the cotton fields were still in full bloom. Being that it was a rainy and overcast day, I saw some different interpretations that I could use in the sky. I've painted several cotton fields, but this is the first with weather conditions other than a sunny day.

Sampson County Cotton Field - 16x12: Acrylic on Canvas

Friday, November 25, 2011


It's been a while since I painted a cityscape. I finished these two 11x14" paintings earlier this week. They are quite challenging as the rigid lines in buildings, windows and other man made elements are not as forgiving as trees, water and other things found in nature. I need to do one of these on a larger surface, where I can concentrate on more detail.

I'm taking these with me to Wilmington this weekend for a holiday show. I'm interested to see how people react to them.

Downtown Raleigh 1 and 2 - 1x14 - Acrylic on Panel

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Merchants Millpond State Park

In mid October we visited Merchants Millpond State Park in Northeast North Carolina. The park is a combination of a forest and swamp with hundreds of places to explore. We took a canoe out on a beautiful day and I immediately began taking pictures. The sunken cypress trees and spanish moss created beautiful pictures which opened me up to all kinds of painting possibilities.

The painting shown is the first of many that will materialize from the trip to this park. Glazing and impasto work along with vibrant colors make this work pop off the wall and come to life.

Merchants Millpond State Park #1 - 36x24" Acrylic on Canvas

Friday, September 30, 2011

Cascade Lake

These are a few recently completed works reflecting the same composition. When they are hung next to each other they work really well together. The vibrant colors of the first work provide an energetic feeling, while the subtle grays and purples of the second work create a more subdued look. Someone recently remarked that these works are "simple yet complicated". I suppose I can see the simpleness in the naive unrefined qualities of the paintings, yet the hundreds of colors and shapes allow for a complicated feeling in the middle of this simplicity.

Cascade Lake #1 and #2 - 16x20" Acrylic on Panel

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Broken Bridge

We spent our summer vacation in Cape Cod this year and stayed at our friend's house in Bourne. MA. A short walk from the house the broken bridge crosses over the inlet. This bridge has been there for over a hundred years, and at some point Grover Cleveland spent time here during his presidency.

Being the bridge was built from actual rocks the natural surfaces allowed me alot of expression in how I detailed the stones. My initial intention was to use heavy impasto work on the rocks and have them three dimensionally pop off the canvas. After painting the sky and water, I decided against this - I think my reasoning was the sunrise created a focal point and having something too abstract might deter from this.

Lately I've been doing alot of experimenting with clouds. I think the clouds in the broken bridge painting are my best effort so far. I did these by masking out several geometric shapes with tape. After this I painted the sky in hundreds of vertical bands that descended onto the sunrise. When I lifted the tape and began painting the clouds, I used the same colors as I did for the rest of the sky, but I used horizontal lines to contrast the vertical bands of the sky. This along with the white outlines provided good, but not overpowering definition for the clouds.

This work will soon be hanging at my friend's home on Cape Cod. I can now look forward to painting more works inspired by hundreds of pictures we took during our vacation.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Falls Lake - Limited Palette Study

I painted a picture a few years ago using just yellows, blacks and whites. I never really thought much of it, but it kept hanging around my studio. Too nice to throw out, but not really worthy of posting to my website or sending off to any shows. The painting shown is a new painting, but is based on the older work. The original photograph has long since disappeared, so this is a rare event where I worked from another painting rather than from a photo or en plein aire. I had alot of fun with this, it did not take me nearly as long as most of my work and being there was no photograph I did not concern myself compositional accuracy. Unlike the earlier work there are some dark blues present in the water. I think for my next study, I might try darks over lights.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Top of Dingman Falls

Dingman Falls is located in Northeast Pennsylvania in the Delaware Water Gap. We visited the area on a very hot day in July. I got some great pictures of the falls, but the picture I took of the river leading up to the falls struck me as rather interesting. The water was very clear, so many of the rocks at the bottom of the river could be seen through the surface. This allowed for some cool glazes with different sienna colors. I tried to make sure this looked like more than just a river - the tops and "half" trees in the right/middle portion of the canvas show that the river takes a sudden vertical drop. The last part painted was the rock bed in the lower right of the canvas. I pondered for some time on how to do this - I considered three dimensional impasto effects and more glazing, but in the end I went with a style where the details resembled the stream. The differences would be in sharp color contrasts of warm and cool colors. I think this kept some balance to the painting, while not drawing one away from other portions of the work.

Top of Dingman Falls - 24x36" Acrylic on Canvas

Monday, August 8, 2011

Cedar Island #2

I've received alot of positive response from the the initial painting I did of Cedar Island. This painting is inspired from that same view, but encompasses more of the land and a second waterway.

I am sure the first the thing that one notices is the depictions of the clouds. A few people have seen this painting, and people tend to love or hate this idea. My intent was to make the clouds flowing, but to confine them within a few centralized cloud masses. I felt the smaller shapes captured within larger shapes added a further element of interest.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Bear Island

Bear Island is part of North Carolina's Crystal Coast between Morehead City and Wilmington. There are no bridges to the island, so one must take a shuttle ferry. This limited accessibility leaves the beach in pristine condition - There is no pollution and the beach is just stunning.

The two pictures reflect a view from about 20 yards on the beach and about the same distance looking back onto the beach from the surf.

Bear Island- A View from the Beach - 20x16" Acrylic on Panel
Bear Island- A View from the Surf - 20x16" Acrylic on Panel

Friday, July 8, 2011

Cedar Island

This is a painting I recently finished that is inspired by a trip to the North Carolina coast. At around 7:00 PM we were crossing a long bridge connecting Cedar Island to the mainland. At the the middle of the bridge we saw a stunning sunset reflecting onto this marshy inlet. I knew very quickly that the photographs we took would materialize into a future painting.

Cedar Island - 24x36" Acrylic on Canvas

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Festival for the Eno - 2011

This year I once again participated in the Festival for the Eno in Durham, NC. This show is always alot of fun and always very busy. Despite the hot temperatures and thunderstorm at the end the show this event was definitely a success. The mascot for this years show was the yellow spotted salamander, depicted here in this huge sand sculpture.

I look forward to next year's show as I hope this will be an an annual event for myself.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Kure Beach (A View from the Pier)

This is probably the most involved painting I have done up to this point in my career. The subject originated from a trip to the beach we took in early May. The summer tourist season had not yet hit so the beach was not jammed with people. I think in most cases where paintings involve people they are the main focal point, I made an effort in this painting for this not to happen. The sky, the water and the beach each have unique elements - each of the three elements of the painting were done at separate times and in a way I thought of these as three separate paintings. The people and the houses were the last parts of the paintings done. This worked out well; After I had finished the beach I was pleased with the painting, therefore I did make the people and houses deliberately complex that they might take away from the larger composition.

Despite the lengthy amount of time it took me to complete this work, I really enjoyed painting it. The color scheme is one I have rarely used and the painting techniques really allow for this to stand out. Despite the complexity of shapes I feel the painting is quite soothing and accurately displays atmosphere and time of day and year.

Kure Beach (A View from the Pier) - 40x30" Acrylic on Canvas

Friday, June 10, 2011

Rolesville and Puryear Road

Alot of the fields around my home take on some interesting colors at different points of the year. This painting is inspired from a picture I took in late October, about a month after the tobacco had been harvested. The foliage that grew in offered some spectacular colors and the fallen leaves and and the colors of autumn added to the effect.

This is painted on a 2" wide canvas so the wrap is quite interesting as the crop rows extend to all sides of the painting.

Rolesville and Puryear Road - 12x12" Acrylic on Canvas

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Cotton Field Off Highway 64 #5

Cotton Fields are becoming quite a popular subject for me. I completed this work last week - So far this is the largest canvas that I have used in for my cotton field work. I have a 40x30" leaning against the wall in my studio- this might have a place for Cotton Field #6.

I really do enjoy painting this subject. The timing on when the cotton blooms in North Carolina is early fall. If anyone out there knows of some picturesque North Carolina cotton fields, please let me know as I would like to get some more photographs this year.

Cotton Field Off Highway 64 #5 - 18x24: Acrylic on Canvas

Friday, May 20, 2011

Artsplosure 2011

This weekend I will be exhibiting artwork at Artsplosure in downtown Raleigh. the first time I visited Artsplosure was in 1997. The impressive selection of art and massive crowds of people was awe inspiring at the time. Here we are fourteen years later and I have a booth and am now an exhibiting artist! Life definitely can take some interesting twists. I'll have several new works on display that I have not posted to my website or shown in any galleries. One of these works is of High Falls in the Dupont Forest in western NC (shown).

I'll be at booth 16 near Artspace. I hope to see everyone this weekend!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

State of the Art / Art of the State

Last weekend I attended the opening of State of the Art / Art of the State at the Cameron Art Museum in Wilmington, NC. The show was quite unique: no jurors, no entry fees - just bring one piece of art and it would be on display at the museum for six months. Hundreds of pieces of art were submitted and over 800 people attended the opening - there was little room to even move due to the amount of people that attended. Curators from NYC, San Francisco and London arranged the exhibit - and with the help of the staff and sponsors of the Cameron Art Museum an impressive show was put on.

The quality of artwork at the show is quite impressive. With so many works submitted, I expected to see alot of mediocrity - this certainly is not the case. By the breadth of artists and the quality of art, I conclude the "state of art" in North Carolina is pretty good.

I submitted Looking Glass Falls to the show. This is the painting hung high at the top of the doorway.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Atlantic Beach

This is the second time I have painted this subject (the picture on top is the newer work). I used alot of the same colors with the exception of some light purple in the splash area of the waves. The addition of the clouds provides a solid focal point and some more geometry in the sky might add some more interest.

Atlantic Beach -20x16" Acrylic on Canvas

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Triangle artists face lean times after recession

Poor economy brought fewer patrons, less income

- STAFF WRITER - Raleigh News and Observer

One month ago, Micah Mullen walked away from a comfortable corporate marketing job in the midst of a still-sputtering economy to work full time as a painter.

It's a 70 percent pay cut, though the hours are better. He and his wife have reined in food expenses, and with Mullen home, the couple can save on day care for their elementary-age children.

Still, Mullen knows it won't be easy. But he's determined to try.

"I don't plan on turning back," Mullen said. "I want to make this work, and I think I can."

Mullen is jumping in at an odd time for the Raleigh art scene. With more galleries than ever, the city's commitment to public art and the opening of the new Contemporary Art Museum downtown, the area is in the midst of what Raleigh Art Commission Executive Director June Guralnick calls a cultural renaissance.

However, individual artists are grappling with an extended period of fewer patrons and lighter wallets as the area struggles to bounce back from the recession. Local artists say they have had to work harder and smarter than ever before to make ends meet.

Mullen's geometric North Carolina landscapes are striking enough to stop patrons in their tracks, said gallery owner Nicole Kennedy, who sells Mullen's work in Nicole's Art Studio and Gallery on Person Street downtown.

"People look at his stuff and they're mesmerized," Kennedy said. "The more you look at it, the more you like it."

At the same time, Mullen has picked a tricky time for his career change.

"Leaving your day job - that's not necessarily a good thing to do right now," Kennedy said.

Even in the best of times, there aren't many who have the combination of talent and boldness required to take on the life of a professional artist. Only about 23,600 people held jobs as fine artists like Mullen and Garrison in 2008, the most recent numbers available from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. About 60 percent of those were self-employed.

Most work on a freelance basis and may find it difficult to make a living solely by selling their artwork, according to the bureau report. Those with a steady salary earn a median annual income of about $42,000, which is Mullen's goal in the next five years.

Most local artists have been riding out the recession through a combination of newly acquired business savvy and a focus on honing their craft, Kennedy said.

"Most artists have had to take their career in their own hands," Kennedy said. "To expect galleries to make a living for you, unless you're a huge name, is not realistic."

Even established artists have had a hard time. Raleigh painter Richard Garrison quit his job as a public school art teacher to paint full time 16 years ago. He and his wife, an English teacher, were able to live comfortably off their joint incomes for more than a decade in a large four-bedroom house in Cary.

Then the recession hit. During the past few years, Garrison has been selling half the number of paintings he used to. He and his wife have had to dip into their savings, and recently downgraded to a one-bedroom condo in downtown Raleigh.

Last year, Garrison decided on a new strategy. His new focus on portrait painting won him two commissions last year that "probably saved me, financially," Garrison said.

Even those who kept their day jobs say times have been tight. Local artist Joe DiGiulio works full time in commercial and educational sales with Jerry's Artarama, as well as teaching workshops and creating instructional art DVDs. He and his wife call their backyard studio their retirement plan, a place to continue teaching art classes as the income supplement they will need to retire.

"I was surprised that (Micah) was going to go full time," DiGiulio said. "Three years ago, it was a completely different story."

Mullen has done his research. He knows the career change could mean a difficult adjustment period. He's been painting for years, and sold $20,000 worth of his work last year while working full time. With so much more time free to invest in it, he is confident he can double that number within five years.

His wife Eileen, a personal injury lawyer, supports his decision completely - because of his obvious talent, and the positive change she has seen in her husband since he found work he loves: He's calmer, more social and has more time to spend with their two sons.

"It is amazing to see the change in a person when they figure out what they want to be doing and what they're good at," Eileen Mullen said. "It really does make a difference to have fulfillment in your work life."

Mullen is treating his new career the same way he did his full-time corporate job. He starts at 8 a.m. every morning in his upstairs studio in North Raleigh, creating new paintings or on business calls, working to get his canvaases in more galleries across the state. On a whiteboard on one wall, he meticulously tracks how he spends every hour of the work day. To supplement income from paintings, he has instructional DVDs, which he sells from his professional website. He also has his own show in the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences' Nature Art Gallery through May 1.

Kennedy notes that North Carolina landscapes are selling better in the down economy as patrons seek the comfort of the familiar. That Mullen's work is a fresh, striking take on those scenes may be exactly the thing that will allow his bold career move to pay off as the economy picks back up, DiGiulio and Kennedy agree.

"I've seen enough lighthouses and ... barns and rolls of hay in the field from painters all over this area," DiGiulio said. "Micah's work is totally unique from anything you've seen before, so he can really carve out a niche for himself."

An artist's life has never been easy, but for those like Mullen, it's worth it to try, Garrison said.

"Why do anything other than what you love?" Garrison said. "If you love it enough, and you follow your heart, I think things will fall into line and you can make a living of it." or 919-829-4802

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Mailbox Mosaics

The tornadoes that swept through Eastern North Carolina last weekend did a number on my mailbox. I spent Easter weekend building a new mailbox and creating a small mosaic garden at the base of the mailbox. Chips of broken plates and other odd ceramic pieces were embedded into two concrete pads. These pads were then surrounded by mulch and some small plants. The tiles need to be polished and the excess concrete and mud needs to be wiped off, but otherwise this project is complete.

This project is a stark reminder that I am not a young man anymore. Short handled shovels, pick axes, and mixing concrete took a physical toll on me over the last two days. I am anxious to once again get in front of the easel in an air conditioned space where the heaviest thing I will be lifting is a paintbrush.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Hanging Rock State Park - Lower Cascade Falls

I liked this subject because the reference picture offered some colors that I normally do not use. My concerns arose when about halfway through the painting process I did not see these colors and the palette was looking quite similar to those in my previous painting of Pearson's Falls. The last part of the work that I did was the right hand side where the magentas and oranges are shown in the leaves. While these colors do provide good contrast, I feel the painting is still very flat. I like all the geometric shapes and colors that I used, but as I now look at the work in its entirety I might have used some better choices for shading to give this work more dimension.

There are four waterfalls at Hanging Rock State Park. The Lower Cascades Fall is at the bottom of the mountain and is what I feel to be the most spectacular of all the waterfalls at the park.

Hanging Rock State Park: Lower Cascade Falls - 18x24" Acrylic on Canvas

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Pearson's Falls

Pearson's Falls was the last waterfall we visited in our annual fall waterfall trip. This waterfall is located in the southwest part of North Carolina between Saluda and Tryon. It was a bright crisp autumn day - that allowed for some experimentation when painting the sky.

This painting took nearly 50 hours to complete - the majority of time was spent of the rock structures behind the waterfall. In actuality there probably should have been more water shown as this is a dense, roaring waterfall. However, after painting these rocks it seemed a shame to cover up all these tiny details. A rich palette of grays, dark blues and purples allows for sharp contrasts with the sky and waterfall.

Pearson's Falls - 24x18" Acrylic on Canvas

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Fredrix Dixie Pro Canvas

Working in the art material industry for many years I have seen hundreds of products. Occasionally a product comes around that really stands out as a quality item. The Fredrix Dixie Pro Canvas is one of those unique items of exceptional quality. This is a 12 oz. cotton canvas stretched onto solid, quality wood stretcher bars. What I like about this product is I know I do not have to worry about the canvas failing during the painting process or years in the future. The tough heavy canvas allows for a variety of techniques with a brush or knife without any concerns of the canvas bubbling or wrinkling, and the solid stretcher bars assure me that this canvas will not warp even decades from now.

I painted the cotton field painting shown on a 7/8" width, but the Dixie Pro is also available in 1-3/8" and 2-1/2" width. A quality item that I highly recommend!

Cotton Field Off Highway 64 #4 - 12x16" Acrylic on Canvas

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Nature Art Gallery Show Opening

The reception at the Nature Art Gallery at the Science Museum last night was amazing! I chatted with dozens of friends, met some great people and had a great time with my family. A special thanks to Karen Bethune who is curator of the gallery, she is one of the nicest and most efficient people I have come across. My paintings looked amazing in the gallery - congratulations to her and the great staff at the Museum. I am looking forward to working on future projects with the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.

If you did not get a chance to make the reception, my show "Carolina Mosaics: A Painter's View" runs through May 1st. The Nature Art Gallery is located on the mezzanine level of the gift shop at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in downtown Raleigh.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Upcoming Show: Carolina Mosaics: A Painter's View

Opening Reception: First Friday, April 1st
Time: 6:30 - 8:30 PM Exhibit through May 1st
Nature Art Gallery at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
- 11 West Jones Street in Downtown Raleigh

The Gallery exhibits original, nature-inspired, two and three dimensional artwork in all mediums by many of the finest artists and artisans exhibiting in the Southeast.

Bring the whole family - As part of First Fridayboth the Nature Art Gallery and the NC Museum of Natural Sciences are open late.

Painting shown is: Cotton Field Off Highway 64 #3 - 20x20" Acrylic on Canvas

Friday, March 25, 2011

A Clean Studio? An Advantage?

This past weekend I probably spent 24 solid hours cleaning and organizing my studio. All my paint tubes are arranged by chromatic hue, all the brushes are sorted by size and style, the floors are vacuumed and swept - all and all this is the cleanest and most organized my studio has been in years! I'm anxious to see what effect this will have on me as an artist. Already I am finding myself mixing my red tubes with blue tubes and my filberts with my brights. I ponder whether I should spend a few hours a week or a half hour or so each night keeping things clean. I guess I probably should, if nothing else organization saves money - this past weekend's overhaul revealed several unused paint tubes and even large canvases I did not know I had!

I pictured my studio (top) alongside a picture of the studio of Francis Bacon. Two weeks ago, my studio really did resemble that of Bacon's. In 2008, Christie's sold three of Bacon's works for $46.1 million. Hmmmm . . . messy and disorganized vs. clean and organized?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Empowering Artists!

Today is the first day of my life where I sat down at the easel knowing this is now a full time job.

For nearly fifteen years I was gainfully employed at Jerry’s Artarama as the Marketing Director. Earlier this year I decided to resign from Jerry’s with last Friday being my last day of employment. The past several months have been filled with emotions (both and good and bad), but I know it is now time to put these aside and look towards the future and begin the life of a full time artist.

The image shown is the cover of the 2011 Jerry’s Catalog. During my career at Jerry’s I have been involved with hundred of catalogs covers. It is ironic that I was involved very little with this cover in the sense that in the same year Jerry’s chose to embody the slogan “Empowering Artists” is the same year I chose to part ways with the company and try to make a go of it as a full time artist.

I have alot of thoughts about Jerry’s both positive and negative - however I know one thing is for certain that were it not for the experience gained through Jerry’s I would be nowhere remotely close to pursuing a career as a full time artist.

I will be writing much more frequently on my blog on my daily experiences as an artist, a father, a husband and a human being. Please check back.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Signs of Spring!

The paintings I am holding reflect areas that are inspired by Bridal Veil Falls in Western North Carolina and the Quarry at the Eno River in Durham, NC, both are painted on glass and panel. As I was preparing to try to conquer the difficulties of photographing paintings made directly on glass, I thought I might try something different. About 30 yards in back of my house is a nice quiet creek - perfect weather conditions allowed for some great lighting and comfortable temperatures allowed for a nice picture. While I understand the importance of the "mug shot" pictures of paintings, it is nice to have a an human element and a real nature element to add to the ambiance of the paintings.

The painting in my right hand is A View of Bridal Veil Falls, in my left hand is Quarry at the Eno River #2. Both are 16x20" paintings painted on glass and Panel.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

North Ridge Country Club - 2011 Art Gala

Last night I participated in the 2011 Art Gala at the North Ridge Country Club in Raleigh, NC. The format of the show was unlike any other that I have been a part of. Thirty paintings were selected by Linda Johnson Dougherty who is one of the curators at the North Carolina Museum of Art (I was fortunate enough to have Whitewater Falls #3 selected for this show). The juried paintings were all displayed in the room leading into the main ballroom of the country club. Those artists that were juried into the show had the opportunity to set up in an approximate 10x10' area to show other works.

The show lasted just 3 hours, but during that time my booth had many visitors. Overall the event was very well attended and alot of fun. Pat and George Wallace did a great job organizing the event. The event is only in its third year, It made me happy when George remarked this was the best yet!

At around 8:00 the awards were given for the juried show. Constance Pappalardo won first place for her Desert Skies (shown). This is a striking work that is well deserved of first place.

I am looking forward to applying for the show again in 2012. Alot of fun, nice people. and so close to home.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Painting on Glass - Hanging Rock #2

The second of series of paintings that was inspired by views from Hanging Rock State Park. Like the earlier painting done this was painted on two different surfaces. The lower surface is that encompasses the sky and mountains is painted on a 16x20" Gessobord. The portion of the painting that shows the rock and the big tree is painted directly on the glass.

I love the overall finished look of these works, but they are so much more challenging than traditional paintings on canvas or boards. A few things to point out.

1. Glass has no absorption - Despite masking and priming areas of the glass - the painting process requires several layers so to avoid streaking. The varnishing is also critical so the paint will not lift off the surface.

2. Framing - I like to offset the glass about 1/4" away from the panel to give a dimensional depth effect. I use spacers around the perimeter of the panel and the all the media is set into a metal sectional frame. I have framed dozens of pieces like this, but as we all know glass is quite fragile. If glass breaks during the framing process of matted artwork, all it costs me is a new piece of glass. On these works we are talking about hours of painting time wasted if the glass breaks. Needless to say the framing part is a bit tricky.

3. Photography - I still have not quite figured out how to do this so as to avoid all the reflections that occur from the glass. Back lighting, side lighting, front lighting - all have their advantages and disadvantages, but I have yet to take a perfect photograph from these paintings.

Hanging Rock State Park #2 - 20x16" Acrylic on Glass and Panel

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Hanging Rock

We visited this area last Fall. After hiking several miles up we reached the top of Hanging Rock which is where I shot the picture that inspired this painting. When I began photographing the area I knew almost immediately the types of paintings I would do. The rock is so massive and the view is so spectacular it created two distinct elements that had to be separated. I decided that I would paint the rock directly on the glass and offset it about a half inch from the panel to give me some depth. I began first by painting the sky on the panel - it was not my intention to give the sky so much attention, but I found that some of the colors I was using were not giving enough vibrant punch. I knew these would be behind glass, so I needed to make the sky jump out. The mountains in the back ground are a bit more subtle but help in making the sky and the rock really come alive.

Painting on glass is always a challenge as it has no absorption. Even traditional primers like gesso do not always adhere well. Several coats of priming were used and even then the surface is still pretty tough. I painted the rock, by first using traditional heavy body acrylics in a series of color patterns. After about 8 hours the basis of the rock had formed, but the colors were not vibrant and streaked alot. I then used acryl Gouache to go back over these colors. Everything on the rock is opaque, so I did not concern myself with losing transparency by using the gouache. After doing this I again used the acryl gouache and made the patterns and symbols on the rock that are found in many of my works.

When I finally framed the piece and offset the glass from the panel got really excited from the results. The additional work and challenges of working on glass definitely paid off!.

Hanging Rock State Park - 16x20" Acrylic on Glass and Panel

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Corner of Rolesville and Puryear Road

I came across this Tobacco field not far from my home on Rolesville Road in Northeast Raleigh. The picture was taken in late October so there were some interesting fall colors in the composition. I used some of my favorite Matisse acrylic colors to create this painting. Australian Sienna is somewhat of mix of Raw Sienna and Cadmium Orange – you see a lot of this in the field and in the center of the big tree. Some of the greens used are Australian Olive Green and Australian Sap Green – I generally avoid specialty colors like these, but the Australian series of Matisse acrylics is a real good range.

Matisse Flow paints are a thinner consistency and match the color range of the heavy body structure acrylics. I use these for glazing and for accentuating certain areas. The big shiny leaves on the tree and certain areas of the field are a combination of Flow acrylics and glazing medium. I usually apply this with applicator bottles, similar to how one might decorate a cake. This gives a neat effect that works well with things like flowing water or leaves blowing in the wind.

Corner of Rolesville and Puryear Road - 12x12" Acrylic on Canvas

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Top of Bridal Veil Falls

One of several waterfalls in the DuPont Forest is Bridal Veil Falls. Located about a half hour from Brevard, NC this waterfall is unique to many of the other falls in the area. This big waterfall allows you to actually hike up the waterfall! The water flow occupies only a portion of the rock mass, the remaining portion of the rock in not so steep that you cannot climb up to the top. I took the picture that inspired this painting fairly close to the top. This artwork probably shows about 1/8 of the entire waterfall, I got some great pictures of the entire falls that I will probably paint later on a larger surface.

Although it was not my intention the blues, whites and grays of the waterfall and rocks set a tone for a cool day. This is accurate considering our visit to the area was in November on a cold, crisp late Autumn day.

Top of Bridal Veil Falls - 12x12" Acrylic on Canvas

Friday, January 14, 2011

Wildcat Falls

Just a short distance from the Blue Ridge Parkway in western North Carolina is WIldcat Falls. We came upon this waterfall on a cold November morning but were not disappointed as this is really a picturesque setting. When painting this I tried to show alot of movement not only in the waterfalls but in the surrounding trees as well. The pool at the base of the waterfall was probably about 12" deep in the spot where I stood to take the picture. This shallow water gave hints of the surface with alot of browns and siennas being evident. As the water got deeper at the splash area of the waterfall more blues, greens and even purples became evident in the composition.

This is painted on a 12"x12" canvas - Despite the small area of the surface I was able to get alot of detail into the rocks and trees. People often say my paintings are aboriginal or Aztec in appearance. Perhaps WIldcat Falls defines a bit of both of these styles.

Wildcat Falls - 12x12" Acrylic on Canvas

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Approaching Big Bradley Falls

In early November we took a trip to western North Carolina to see some waterfalls. Big Bradley Falls was one of the last stops on our trip. We probably should have done some research on this area before beginning the hike. Big Bradley Falls is a 75' foot waterfall located in a big gorge. We did not realize that a view of the waterfalls was nearly impossible without some rappelling cables and mountain climbing gear. The first ominous sign was a yellow ribbon tied to a tree marking where someone had perished, yet we traveled on anxious to see the falls. Some steep trails off the main trails allowed us some partial views, but these were quite treacherous and dangerous, so we held off trying to get too close.

The painting shown is inspired from a view about 50 yards from the top of the falls. Alot of fall colors and a nice sunset created a strong subject for this work.

Approaching Big Bradley Falls - 12x16" Acrylic on Canvas

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.

~Dr Seuss

Wishing You a Merry Christmas!


North Carolina Cotton Field - 30x40" Acrylic on Canvas