Saturday, November 17, 2018

Zagon Brothers at the Piano (Rescued Snapshot)

This image began with a small photo that I found among two boxes of my dad's photos that recently came in the mail. The well-worn little snapshot shows my dad and my Uncle Barney at the piano, with my mother looking on.  My cousin Shirley is in the background, and my grandmother is in the corner.  So this is in New York, in Brooklyn. The back of the photo is dated Mar. 31, 1956, the year my folks to my cousin and me, both 8 years on, on a train trip to New York.  This is the only picture I have seen that shows the two brothers making music together. My dad's family sent Barney for music lessons, but couldn't afford lessons for my father too. But both brothers were musical, so Barney would come home and share what he had learned.  I love this picture, but the snapshot had a lot of problems, so I decided to try to fix it up.  The wear and tear on this photo makes me think my dad looked at it often, maybe even carried it in his wallet.  I started by retouching what I could. The original image was out of kilter, so I straightened it. I used Painter to fill in some background so I could straighten the image without having to crop out my grandmother. I also adjusted the focus and adjusted the color to eliminate a yellow-green cast.  Then I added some posterizing effect, which brought out some other colors. It sounds like a lot of work for a small snapshot, but this one is definitely worth the effort.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Snowcapped Mountains (Acrylic Watermedia)

I went back to this painting again this morning.  This was inspired by a photo that I took by in June, a view of the mountains from a busy highway on the road to Central City. (See my post on Nov. 5.) This morning, I revised the shapes of some of the patches of snow on the distant mountain range, starting by reversing a change I had made yesterday.  I made other changes to help those little patches of snow work suggest the shapes of the mountains and  help with the composition.  And I made a good number of other very small changes to make things neat.  And then finally, I was ready to say this is done.  I hope to exhibit this in December at Galatea Fine Art ( 

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Snowcapped Mountains (Acrylic Watermedia) as of Nov. 15, 2018

I worked on this again today. I am painting the Colorado mountains, using one of my photos (digitally altered) as a reference, and it is posted here on November 5. Today I started by revising the shapes and angles of the snowcapped mountains.  I also added some more washes to the sky. And then I made a series of small changes, which for me is a sign that I am almost done.  In fact, I actually thought this was finished, but late this afternoon, I realized that there are a couple of small changes I still need to make. Next month,  I hope to show this at Galatea Fine Art (

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Snowcapped Mountains (Acrylic Watermedia) as Nov. 14, 2018

This is the painting I have been working on. My inspiration for this mountain landscape is a photo that I took in Colorado back in June.  (My photo reference, digitally altered, is posted here on Nov. 5.) Today I worked on adjusting colors and adding a little texture along the way.  I added pale washes to the sky, purple washes to the mountains, and both pink and green washes to the foreground. This is almost finished, but there are still a few things to fix.  I am hoping to show this painting in the December show at Galatea Fine Art in Boston (

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Snowcapped Mountains (Acrylic Watermedia) as of Nov. 13, 2018

I did some more work on this painting today. This is inspired by a photo that I took in Colorado back in June. We were headed toward Central City, and yes, there was snow on the mountains in June.  (The digitally altered photo that I am using as a reference is posted here on November 5.) Today I did a bit more work on the snowcapped mountains, trying to get shapes and textures right. Then I started working on the sky, going for a color that will contrast with the mountains and the snow.  Then I added some washes to the layers of mountains just below. I referred to my photo to try to get the colors right, and to use dark and late to create depth.  Still struggling, but I finally feel like this is headed in the right direction. To be continued. .  . .

Monday, November 12, 2018

Snowcapped Mountains (Acrylic Watermedia) as of Nov. 12, 2018

This is the painting I have been working on.  This is inspired by a photo that I took back in June in Colorado. (My photo reference is posted here on Nov. 5th.)  I didn't have a chance to paint until late in the day, almost dark.  I didn't want to risk playing with the colors, but I did want to revise the shapes of those distant peaks. So I used white and white mixed with some cobalt blue (the same colors I have been using in that area).  Referring to the photo, I made more adjustments to the shapes of those peaks, and used a wide brush to lay in strokes for the snow, going for a "rockier" texture.  Then I photographed this in artificial light, so the color is definitely off in this picture.  But I think the shapes of the snowy peaks are a bit better.  To be continued. . . .

Sunday, November 11, 2018

"Hy on Boat Trip Across June 43" (with Woodcut Effect)

On Veteran's Day, I like to post an image of my dad, taken from the snapshots in my mother's old photo album. My parents met because of World War II; my dad was born in Brooklyn but was stationed in Pueblo, Colorado, where he met my mother at a USO dance.  A few months later, they married, a short time before he was sent overseas. While my father was away, my mother kept a album of pictures taken back home in Pueblo as well as photos my dad sent from overseas. This image began as a snapshot that I found in my mother's album. Sometimes there are notes on the pages or on the backs of the photos. This one is marked with the date on the back but the handwritten caption under the photo says: "Hy on Boat Trip Across June 43".  So this is his trip across the Atlantic as a young soldier.  The photographer must have been a fellow soldier.  It was a bright day, and I imagine not so easy to hold the camera steady, obvious from the original photo (a snapshot, about 2 x 3 inches). Yesterday I used iPhoto to do some retouching, square up the image, and adjust the exposure. Then I used Painter to add the woodcut and posterizing effects.  Despite the problems with the photo, my dad is recognizable because of that smile. No doubt he enjoyed the sun and the ocean but I am not fooled. This picture was going to my mother.  I know he was afraid for his life because years later he told me so when he was facing surgery for lung cancer. My father was a very peaceful man; fighting was just not in his nature. But he left his parents, sisters and brothers, and new wife and traveled far from home to do his bit to defeat the Nazis and stand up to tyranny.  I think about that a lot lately and try to follow his example.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Snowcapped Mountains (Acrylic Watermedia) as of Nov. 10, 2018

I worked on this painting again this morning.  This is one of my "Mountain Daydreams," landscapes of the Colorado mountains, painted with acrylic used with water.  This is inspired by a view of that I saw and photographed during a trip to Denver in June. My reference is that photo, digitally modified to simplify the foreground (cars and highway), posted here on November 5th.  Today I started modifying the colors.  I started with the snowcapped mountains, and used some translucent washes to light the blue areas. Then I mixed up a blue-green and added layers to the two mountains in the central part of the canvas, and added a bit of blue-green wash to the foreground. This is still a work in progress.

Friday, November 09, 2018

Snowcapped Mountains (Acrylic Watermedia) as of Nov. 9, 2018

This is the painting I have been working on.  It is roughly based on a photo that I took in Colorado this summer. (I simplified the foreground because I didn't want to paint cars, trucks, and road. You can see my photo reference, posted here Nov. 5, 2018.) Today I did a little more work on the snow-capped mountains in the distance, and then began to add color and texture to the mountain ranges in the middle.

Thursday, November 08, 2018

Snowcapped Mountains (Acrylic Watermedia) as of Nov. 8, 2018

This afternoon, I worked on this painting for a while. My inspiration is a photo that I took in Colorado last summer, a view of the mountains as we drove from Denver towards Central City. The original photo showed cars, trucks, highway, and road signs in the foreground, but I simplified all that, covering it up with digital pastel. Today I continued work on getting the composition right, revising the placement of the lines.  I have been adding color to help me see what should be where, but at this point, the colors of the sky and of the snowcapped mountains are getting close to what I am after. This is acrylic used with water on Aquaboard, 16 x 20 inches.

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Snowcapped Mountains (Acrylic Watermedia) as of Nov. 7, 2018

Here is the painting I started yesterday.  This is based on a photo that I took in Colorado back in June, a view of the mountains seen from road.  (You can see my photo reference posted here on November 5, digitally altered to remove road, cars, trucks, and signs.)  Today I continued working on establishing the composition. I started adding some color to make it easier for me to see  where things are.

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Snowcapped Mountains (Acrylic Watermedia) as of Nov. 6, 2018

I finally had a chance to get this painting started. My inspiration is a photo that I took in Colorado last summer. The original photo showed cars, trucks, highway, and road signs, all of which I covered up with digital pastel to create a photo reference (posted here yesterday). This morning, I used it to figure out placement of the major shapes and lines. I had to stop after sketching in the composition, but still it felt good to get started.  This is acrylic used with water on Aquaboard, 16 x 20 inches.

Monday, November 05, 2018

Snowcapped Mountains (Reference for Painting)

Yesterday's post was an image cropped from a photo that I took in Colorado back in June, a picture of the mountains taken on the road into the mountains.  When I took the picture, I knew I wanted to paint those mountains, but the photo, taken from the car, showed the highway, cars, trucks, street signs, etc.  I tried cropping all that out, but I had to crop so much that I didn't like the composition as well.  So I opened the image in Painter and used digital pastel to rough in a workable solution.  I drew into the photo, extended the lines of the closest mountain, and used the same light green as in the original image to create the foreground shape.  I am happier with this, and plan to use it as the basis for my next painting. 

Sunday, November 04, 2018

Snowcapped Mountains (Inspiration for Painting)

I am getting ready to paint, another "Mountain Daydream" inspired by the Colorado mountains.  Since I took a lot of pictures when I was in Colorado back in June,  I decided to use one of those photos as a starting point.  This is a picture I took on June 11, the day that we drove to Central City.  I love those snowcapped mountains. As we drove through Colorado, I remembered that  the most breathtaking views of the mountains sometimes occur in the worst circumstances for photos.  In this case, to get those beautiful layers of mountains, but I had to include the road, the signs, and all that traffic.  And because I cropped this image from a larger view, the focus is off.  But I want to paint those mountains, and this is just the starting point.  So I used Painter to do some digital modification to turn this photo into a workable painting reference, and I will post that here tomorrow

Saturday, November 03, 2018

Mom in Wyoming 1940 (Rescued Snapshot with Digital Color)

I started this project yesterday, November 2, which was my mother's birthday.  I was looking at pictures of her when I found some snapshots of her, all labeled "Rawlins, Wyoming." These were from a big package that my Aunt Edy sent me a few years ago, all photos taken before my mother got married. From other pictures in this set, I could tell this was a bus trip, and the sign on the bus announced that the destination was Los Angeles.  I called my aunt yesterday and she confirmed  that this was a bus trip that they took together, to California. So my Aunt Edy was the photographer!  Yesterday I cleaned up the original snapshot (3" by 4") and posted it here.  I also began to play with the image in Painter, adding color and texture, and finished this morning. My mom seems to have liked strong plaids, and loose trousers.  I love 1940s clothes and had fun inventing the colors. As I worked, I thought about my mother and this triptrip. As I worked, I realized that my mother must have been walking by a gas station, and was probably returning to the bus after buying a snack at a nearby store.  The notes on the margins of the photos mention both Greyhound and Burlington bus lines, so I started wondering if they changed buses in Rawlins. And one of the photos shows a picture of my mother with the bus driver. It is fun to imagine that my mom and my aunt had been flirting with him. This is why I like to work on these projects. I feel like I have spent a little time with my mom, and know her just a little bit better, even though she has been gone since 1984. 

Friday, November 02, 2018

Mom in Wyoming 1940 (Rescued Snapshot)

My mother was born on November 2, and I like to look at pictures of her on her birthday.  This one was in a big package that my Aunt Edy sent me a few years ago, all photos taken before my mother got married, and  most of them were new to me.  This one is labeled (in ink on the margins), "Ruth  Rawlins, Wyo. Aug. 11, 1940" and is part of a little run of photos also labeled Rawlins.  Other pictures in this set show my mom, in the same outfit, standing by a bus that says "Los Angeles." So Rawlins must have been a stop along the way.  And because pictures taken around the same time show my Aunt Edy in California, I figured they went together.  This morning, I called my aunt to confirm, and she said yes,  they were on their way to LA to visit Aunt Tilly, my mother's sister.  (This is how working on one of these old photos can make me feel like I have been spending time with my mom, even though she has been gone since 1984). So Aunt Edy took this picture, and it's a great composition.  I scanned the snapshot into my computer.  It was about 3" x 4", but was in pretty good shape.  I just squared it up, re-cropped it, took out a few stray marks, and then adjusted the contrast.  Just for fun, I decided to make a colorized version using Painter, and I plan to post that tomorrow.

Thursday, November 01, 2018

Burning Bush and Rhododendron

One of the things I love about fall: bright red leaves.  Yesterday I saw some at Beverly Cove: a burning bush with scarlet leaves, right next to a rhododendron, both visible over a fence.  I took some pictures, of course.  Today I cropped one of the photos to get this combination.