Thursday Painting Classes Begin

                Thursday morning painting classes at my studio* will begin                        September 19 at 9:30 AM. *144 Moody Str, Building 4, Waltham 

Classes last about two 1/2  hours for daytime and two hours for evenings. The cost is $300 for 6 lessons, individual or group; or $60 per class, including drop-in.                 On-site parking and an elevator are available 

To register for the classes or if you have questions, please use the Comments button or write to me at

I mainly teach drawing and painting things: people, landscapes, or still-life as a place to start. I learned how to draw at a young age and believe that except for depicting specific things, the guiding principles for creating realistic art are the same for abstract art.

In learning to paint what you see, combined with what you want to paint, the goal is to find your own voice – that part of you that makes the paintings only you can make. Getting started is the hardest part: most learning occurs by doing, failing, repeat. If it’s fun you will learn to embrace the process as essential and come to believe that sometimes mistakes are our friends. 

This is how I learned to draw and paint and what I teach:

  • how to recognize and organize 2-D shapes on the paper or canvas;
  • how to build 2-D shapes into 3-D forms using shading, then crafting the different forms together into a unit;
  • how to use a variety of tools and materials
  • that learning to draw is learning to see, learning to paint is learning to imagine.

Lessons include the awareness of movements and rhythm within the subject and between the elements, and ways to put that on paper or canvas; basic color principals; how to create space with perspective and by overlapping; creating complex forms by combining simple forms, beginning with simple shapes; and the importance of copying.



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Blind Contour Drawing part 2

Last post I wrote about the practice of blind contour drawing, and I thought I would post a couple of blind contour drawings that I did for this project. Plus I’ve added a few more how-to’s and why’s.

Drawing #1

Using an Ebony pencil by Prismacolor for these, on a cheap 11″‘ x 14″ drawing pad. A soft leaded pencil is the best tool to use because it responds to the pressure you use pressing into the page: to make a dark line indicating where you see dark in your subject press harder, and where it’s light use less pressure. This trains your hand and eye to respond in synch with each other, and it carries over to the responsive pressure you use with a paint brush as well as a pencil. A ball point pen won’t give the range of expression you get from a 2B or 3B pencil.

This is the subject of all three of the drawings I’ve included:

For these drawings I followed what I absorbed from reading and practicing Nicolade’s The Natural Way to Draw: Start with your pencil on a point on the paper, and focus your eyes on a single point on the object you’re drawing. Now, going slowly, start moving your gaze, keeping it focused on the object and move your pencil in sync with your gaze so that the pencil touches the paper as your eye touches the object. In my example of the cup, scissors and pens I focused on the top most point of the left handle of the scissors and started down to my left.

Going slowly, allow your eye to wander, as long you keep responding and recording with your hand where your eye is touching. Notice every little thing, from the curve of the handle of the scissor to the shadows under the cup handle, around the lip of the cup into the rise of the orange pen, over to the ball point pen pointing up to the right.

This method of drawing is more for training your eye than to deliver a finished product. It is a discipline, like a musician practicing scales repeatedly or an athlete running drills: to sharpen their skills, in our case our observation skills. Practice builds muscle-memory that allows you to perform what you’ve practiced without having to think about it conciously. drawing without control in this way is the best method for achieving true control. Once you realize that you can make a beautiful drawing without the anxiety and fear that your drawing won’t be “good” by inappropriate and insane standards imposed by others, you’ll see your drawing improve with focus, not struggle.

The only way to make a bad bc drawing is to not respond with feeling to what you’re seeing. In learning to see shapes -I’m not drawing pens in a cup, I’m drawing the shapes that exist as edges, shadows and reflections (part of what you’re focusing on in the exercise) – you can then learn to use those shapes to create form and volume, texture, and the negative spaces between objects.

To show the line quality of a blind contour drawing
Drawing #2

In the drawing below I did look at the drawing a few times, when I reached a dead end or felt irretrievably off course, but not as I was drawing. You can see the lines that just end – the 2 hooked lines midway on the right side, where I stopped to reset my pencil to begin again.

Drawing #3

Looking at the drawings of Ingres, Degas, Matisse, Ellsworth Kelly, Gustav Klimt or Egon Schiele you’ll find how they each developed a style derived from blind contour drawing while not necessarily sticking to the “rule” of not looking or lifting their pencil.

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Blind Contour drawing

All of my students have heard me go on about, or they will, “blind contour drawing” as the best drawing exercise you can do. Now they don’t have to just take my word for it. Imagine my pleasure this morning to see the lead to Austin Kleon‘s* latest newsletter : “My favorite thing lately has been warming up my diary with blind contour drawings.”

He links to an article in the New York Times written by Sam Anderson:
“The goal of blind drawing is to really see the thing you’re looking at, to almost spiritually merge with it, rather than retreat into your mental image of it. Our brains are designed to simplify — to reduce the tumult of the world into order. Blind drawing trains us to stare at the chaos, to honor it. It is an act of meditation, as much as it is an artistic practice — a gateway to pure being.”

That is a pretty good synopsis of Kimon Nicolades‘ book “The Natural Way To Draw,” which is where I learned the practice, and Kleon talks about and quotes from. I discovered it when I was nineteen and becoming serious about making art. It was tremendously, wonderfully liberating and without a doubt helped me become better at drawing. I had always tried to draw things perfectly, with the only goal being to create a “finished product”. Even though I had practiced and learned the skills of creating forms and volumes and textures, my drawings didn’t look alive the way the drawings I admired did, and I didn’t know why.

So when I read a respected teacher say that you not only could but should draw without regard for achieving a finished drawing, I tried it. It was fun, and the more I practiced the more I learned to see and the more I enjoyed it and the better I got at drawing what I was looking at. It turned out that slowing down in order to see and draw at the same time was what I needed to get more life into my drawings; to do blind contour drawings you have to be disciplined and really look at the life you’re drawing. With practice that focus becomes easier to slide into and out of. Then you can look at your drawing as you are developing it and on the go and retain your focus as your hand goes where the eye goes.

*Austin Kleon (@austinkleon) is a writer who draws. He’s the bestselling author of Steal Like An Artist, which I consider essential for anyone who is learning to be creative, or is in the midst of the struggle to be creative. And other books. I follow his newsletter, where he writes about a variety of art related stuff – writing, music, art, film – that’s smart, fun and insightful. His excitement for the subjects in his newsletter is infectious. And other books.

Now you don’t have to just take my word for it.

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Upcoming Workshops in the Upcoming Decade

I will be teaching 2 one-day workshops in January in the new decade, aka next month. The first one will be Saturday, January 11, 2020, 10 AM – 4 PM at my studio 144 Moody Str, Waltham.* The topic of the workshop will be Painting Drapery. This will be a reprisal of the December 7 workshop, true, but that’s because the first was such a success I vowed to do another one. Plus I had several people ask for another chance to attend the painting drapery subject specifically, so I figured why wait? The cost will be $110. Please use the comment section below to let me know you’re coming, or write to me at

Painting Drapery Workshop, Dec 7, 2019
fabric cloth painting
Antique White Drapery, Oil on canvas, 14″X11″

The second workshop on Saturday, January 25 at The Weston Arts and Innovation Center and I’m very excited about it. Titled From Realism To Abstraction, it’s for people who want to learn to create abstract paintings based upon the recognizable world without entirely leaving that world behind, and aren’t quite sure how to begin. To register for the workshop please visit:

The workshop will be held at The Weston Arts and Innovation Center (WAIC) a new venue for me, and for just about everyone else. A group of dedicated citizens have recently transformed the old Weston library (an excellent example of how beautifully that era cared for the aesthetics of a building and how the look affected the people who entered and used it: with respect. Where else but a library, church, temple or mosque, can a person be expected to sit quietly and will be reprimanded if they don’t?) into an exciting center for arts, ideas, and activities. You’ll be hearing from me that hopefully, I’ll be hosting further workshops at the WAIC, and hopefully, eventually, a “paint’n’sip” night.

You can read about WAIC “The maker space branch of the Weston Public Library” at To register for the workshop please click here. To read a more complete description of both workshops click on my website

*The complete address is : 144 Moody Street, Building 4, Second floor (Artists WestAssociation), Waltham, MA 02453. For further assistance text me at 617-851-7945. For the Google map to my studio building click here

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Workshop: Painting Drapery and Fabric Dec 7, 10:00 – 4:00, 144 Moody Street, Waltham

I will run a one-day workshop at my studio on painting drapery and fabric, Saturday, Dec. 7 at 144 Moody Street, my studio in Waltham. The cost will be $110. Please use the comment section to let me know you’re coming, or write to me at

Simply put, painting drapery and fabrics is beginning with modified simple forms in rhythmic combination. Specifically the cylinders, cubes and cones that make up the bulk of how fabric folds and bends.

Next is building those simple shapes into dimensional forms by adding a light source and shadows. In the workshop we’ll be learning to see shapes (2D) and develop them into forms (3D). Shading and blending show how the light hits a form and describes how it exists in space.

Complex forms are made by combining simple forms, and overlapping forms create palpable space. A soft flowing form bends and changes direction, which both terry cloth and silk do, yet they are very different from each other. In order to describe different fabrics, we will study painting textures, which is all about which brushes to use, how to handle the brush to blend values and colors, finding the right viscosity of the paint for your image, and more.

new painting
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An Upcoming Workshop: Realism to Abstraction

REALISM TO ABSTRACTION​                 
                         November 23 @ 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

​ Weston AIC  Art and Innovation Center 
               356 Boston Post Road, 1st floor Weston, MA 02493         phone 781.786.6177   
                                                                  this workshop is now being offered at $120
This workshop will take a look at how artists have used realism as a starting point to explore unique ways of seeing and interpreting the natural world, and to access the artists’ inner world. While it often seems that abstract art has very little to do with depicting the world as we all agree that it looks like, the history of it is a linear, logical progression of simplifying forms into shapes that are less and less realistic, and swapping out colors for those that bring out the emotional power of color. A quick historical overview of that progression in order to understand some of the why did they do that? and how did they do that? and armed with a strong sense of play will be where we start to explore your unique interpretations of the world and get in touch with your inner abstractionist.

Using examples of paintings that exemplify that defining tenets of abstraction along with objects to paint from , we’ll explore elements of painting that apply to both abstraction and realism: composition, interactive shapes and forms, brushwork, color and more.  Techniques, processes and the ideas behind them will be emphasized.​

​Materials required:
​Acrylic or oil paint, brushes, canvas or paper, a sketchbook, and a pencil. (not supplied)

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The watercolor paintings

I’ve put together a selection of my watercolor paintings from a couple of trips to Europe over the last year and a half.


Rooftops, St-Cirq-Lapopie, France;   6×8″

Now, I don’t pretend to be or put myself out there as a watercolorist any more than I call myself a landscapist. I paint watercolors mostly when I travel or sketches in the studio*. I paint outdoors in the summer; landscapists are out there through-out the year. It’s what they do.**

IMG_7315I paint outdoors because it keeps my observation skills sharp and it’s great to be outside in good weather since my usual workday is in the studio the whole time. It gives me something to do when I travel that enhances the experience in the places I visit, and I have to believe it’s going to make me a better painter, in the studio or out.


View of St-Cirq-Lapopie, France;  7×10″



Cliffs At St-Cirq-Lapopie, France 6×8″

Church Tower, Krem

Church Tower, Krems, Austria. 7×10″

Bridge In Budapest

Chain Bridge In Budapest 7×10″

View of Koems From The Danube

View of Krems, Austria From The Danube.  7×10″

Along The Lot River, France

Along The Lot River, France. 7×10″

Five Cypress

Five Cypress 7×10″


Church Tower, St-Cirq-Lapopie. 6×8″


* I did do some watercolors for the Don Quixote Kickstarter Project in 2012.

**   Jim McVicker, and Scott L Christensen are both landscapists I admire, among many others

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