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Behind the Scenes: Building a Painting

Updated: Dec 7, 2021

My work often contains many layers of paint, which I have to plan out in advance to get the results I desire. In some cases this is because layering two colors on top of each other creates a more vibrant effect than mixing them together, which can cause the colors to look muddy and dull if they're very different things like orange and blue. The layering serves a different purpose in my paintings of ships' hulls, since I plan on scratching, scraping, and sanding them down to create a complexly textured surface reminiscent of a ship's hull. Here is a series of images of the hull of the submarine "Becuna," which is moored near Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, walking distance from my studio. You can get a guided tour from the Independence Seaport Museum.

As you can see, there is a definite awkward adolescent phase, but you have to trust the process!

"Becuna Patina," 24" x 24" oil on panel, contact for purchase.

Part of the planning process is deciding the order in which to paint sections if I want an extremely clean line. I can't get things as crisp as I want them unless I allow the adjoining shapes to dry between sessions, otherwise I risk blending them. Sometimes I use tape if I am being vigorous in my application or using a thousand tiny brushstrokes and I would prefer not to be preoccupied with dodging the edge with each mark.

"Moshulu 3," oil on panel, 40" x 30" contact for purchase. This ship is moored near South Street and has been converted into a restaurant.

This painting shows the underside of my dad's bass fishing boat in Minnesota. I don't generally sketch out elements of the water before I paint, but I did this time using soft pastel because I wanted to be more precise in where I placed the reflections of stripes.

"Disorienting Planes," oil on panel, 36" x 24," Sold.

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