And Forward

So, last year, I wrapped up. I didn’t do much, but I dipped into alla prima painting and figured out I didn’t totally stink at it. But where to start for 2021? What about outside of the studio? Oh, who am I kidding, I live in here. Everything is in the studio, even when it’s not.

I admit, I took the coward’s way out for my first piece and did a painting for my daughter of her dog and cat:

“JP & Ollie” 5×7, oil on canvas panel, alla prima.

I just needed to not think. I needed no pressure, because pressure is building. I needed the equivalent of brain candy, easel edition. My daughter didn’t ask me for this, didn’t even hint at it. It’s the way I wanted to break the 2021 ice, and now she has a painting she never expected! (Maybe never wanted? Oops. Oh, well…)

The reason I needed easy is because I felt like I ended 2020 in the middle of a sentence. I hadn’t figured out where I was going yet, even if I figured out where I had been and what I had done.

My next deadline was for a gallery, so I painted this little one. While I was working on it, I started giving real thought to how I want to be, as an artist and otherwise.

“We Flock Together” 5×7 oil on canvas panel, available 2/20/21 at the Cactus Gallery (Los Angeles, CA) in the group show “Friendship”

I know, this is all art talk. I was going to go deeper with it, but I realize that dog paintings paired with it was a little weird on the life-front. So, another day. Life, art and chocolate; today is mostly art.

My thoughts are that I want to explore figure painting once and for all. Most artists don’t have any real talent for people. That isn’t a bad thing, it just is what it is. Some have amazing figure skills and can’t paint an animal to save their lives, too – it goes both ways, but the bias is weighted towards those who can paint a person. I have always circled around the people thing (there is this artist-prejudice where if you don’t paint people, are you really an artist? Which is stupid, but it’s there, whispering away at us.)

I freely admit that I am not very good at painting people, but I haven’t given it a real go. Animals have just been much easier for me. People are hard. (And I mean that in non-art terms too.) But, I haven’t ever really tried, either. Trying means taking the time to really screw up. To be wasteful.


Losing sucks. No one likes to lose. Making small mistakes while making forward progress feels ok, but when you make major mistakes and the fruit of all your labor is only suited for a bonfire? Well, that’s painful. It’s not even a situation of “no pain, no gain”, because you could experience all that pain, and at the end find out that you truly cannot do this. That’s a little hard to face when you can do something else acceptably well, to stop doing it and work on something with a high likelihood of failure and waste.

Yet… is it really a waste even if it’s a failure? At least then I’d know and let it go.

So, yes. That’s my plan. I’m going to start in on figure painting this year and see if I can do it, or not. Now, the trick is carving out the space for me to do that without losing ground on the other side of my business. I had already decided to do that, but here I am, turning out dog paintings because they’re easier:

“You Never Bring Me Flowers” 8×10, oil on wood panel, available.

Time to take the leap, though.

Here I go.


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