Frequently Asked Questions

about painting.......

What palette of colors do you use?    I want 2-6 different versions of each basic color, a wide range of blues, greens, reds, yellows, browns, purples and greys - so I work with around 50 colors on my palette.  To me, it helps to paint faster, although I don’t use any paint straight from the tube.  My video can best describe my preferences in colors and brands and can be viewed here.

What brushes do you use?    I use inexpensive, flat brushes found in craft stores by American Painter.  Because I paint so much, it’s best for me to buy a large quantity, use them until they’re spent, throw them out and buy more.

What medium do you use?    I use refined linseed oil. I have tried many and came to realize that I wanted simplicity.

How much linseed oil do you use with the oils?   Some brands have quite a bit of oil to make the color fluid - if your brushstrokes feel you’re spreading cold butter on cold toast, then add your medium as needed.

What do you paint on?    I prefer the hard surface of masonite, rather than canvas.  I don’t like the bounce of stretched canvas nor the texture of the fabric.  I buy the panels pre-gessoed and either add an additional coat of black gesso or black latex paint, depending on the texture I want.

Why do you paint on black?    I find it a struggle to start a painting on a light surface.  It requires underpainting, and because I paint one piece in one sitting, I want a surface that is ready for the oil paint to go directly on.  I see the colors more accurately on black, I seldom blend or wipe my paint and I get a more immediate, direct brushstroke that I want.

Do you sketch out the painting first and do you use a projector?   I approach each painting differently - if it’s important to get perspective right before I start painting, then I will often grid out the area and make reference marks for the angles, etc.  That also helps when the scales of objects and figures are unusual.  Most of the time I quickly ‘sketch’ out the shapes with either a light colored pencil or a faint gray paint before I start.  I don’t own a projector, but it seems like a good method to use on larger works.

Why oils?    The first serious paintings I did were at the age of 11ish - with watercolors.  I could be tight and realistic and it was convenient to use when I had the time to paint.  My mom painted everything with oils and she preferred a more-impressionistic style.  In my 20’s, I fell in love with pastels, for the color, for the more drawing-like effect and I could still be tight and realistic, but soften that up with pastels.  Many years passed, and when I started painting again, I went to acrylics for the convenience and the quick dry, but I was never happy with the colors or the mixing.  When I built my studio, I had a separate space, away from living space and the smells of oils and mediums and varnish were not an issue anymore.  So I jumped on the chance to try oils.  It was completely foreign to me, but after 3-4 months, I started to get it.  It’s the color saturation, the experience of mixing and the fluidness that I love.

Do I varnish my paintings?  Yes, I feel it is vital to my paintings, to bring depth and luster to the colors, especially the dark areas.  I use Liquitex’s Soluvar, and use a mixture of gloss & matte.  The proper time to varnish depends on the thickness of the paint - in my case, it usually can be done in 7-10 days.

Do you paint from life or photos?    I compose paintings from photos that I’ve taken.  I don’t have time to set up still-life or take my paints to a location - I run a business and when I have time to paint, I need the subject to be ready for me.  I try my best to never take a photograph literally and mainly use it for reference to figures and light.

Do you need permission to take photographs of people?   I pay close attention to where I’m at to determine if I can take photographs without special permission.  My rule is that if a person can expect a reasonable amount of privacy in a place, I don’t abuse that.  I always check with the establishments if I’m indoors - and make sure I abide by their rules.

Has anyone recognized themselves in your paintings?    To date, no. 

about the business of art......

(aside from my thoughts, a great resource to answer your questions can be found here.)

Do you have someone do your website?  No, I created it and maintain it myself.   I use iWeb on a Mac.

How do you take good photos of your paintings?   I use a Canon Power Shot SX20IS 12.1 megapixels.  The hard part is getting the image as accurate as possible, to the actual painting and that requires anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour on Photoshop.  If you don’t know that program or any similar editing programs, you need to learn that before you ask for help.

How do you get away with photographing inside museums?   I don’t ‘get away’ with using my camera anywhere.  I pay close attention to policies wherever I am.  If it’s prohibited, I don’t do it.   Some art museums do allow cameras, with additional rules attached.

How do you get started on the internet?    I get asked this question every day, and my answer has to be that you must learn how to get the best images you can first, from taking photos to having it web-ready.  If you don’t have any experience on a computer, take classes now and start learning.  Blogs are free and easy to set up.  Once you’ve got all that in place, the rest is a matter of working hard at your art and letting the world see it.

How do I get started selling my paintings?    If you believe you have sellable art, you can opt to post the images on your website with a price - sell them on eBay or other art sites - or even approach galleries with your work.  All of those options require a firm commitment to keeping the work coming - or you’ll quickly bore the people who are looking.  Think of it like opening a retail store.  Opening day needs to be the kick-off to your business and you need to keep the inventory fresh and stocked and commit to maintaining the venue.  Then there’s taking good care of your customers with a good product, professional packaging and shipping and communications.  It’s hard work.  You need to be ready for that to make a lasting impression.

With the blogging, how do I get people to notice me?     The fortunate thing for artists is the timing - there’s a huge, active community that shares links and occasionally will mention another artist on their posting.  It takes time to be noticed, but the work will become your magnet.  Be patient and stick with it, people will notice.

about me personally......

Do you paint for a living?    Yes.

What is your other business?     I owned a picture framing shop that had been in business since 1979.  I closed the shop in January 2011.

Where do you live?    Atlanta, Georgia.

Did you go to school or take painting classes?   I intended to major in art and become an illustrator, but the business took me away from that.  I never have taken any painting classes or workshops.  I’d like to in the future.

Do you teach?   No, I’ve discontinued my workshops.

For more subjects, I was a guest on

Blog Talk Radio, you can listen to

the show here.