Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Many  years back the great Green Bay Packer running back Paul Hornung was caught  during the season coming out of a night club with a beautiful blonde on his arm in the wee hours of the morning. "Paul, how do you do it?," the reporter asked referring to Hornung's ability to excel both on the field and at partying. Hornung winked, grinned, and quoted his famous coach Vince Lombardi: "Practice, practice, practice!"

(Recent paintings where I've tried mixing watercolor with Golden acrylics.)

I think to do anything well you have to first love what you are doing and then, practice, practice, practice. When the work is going well, practice can be fun. And when it isn't, which usually says more about your emotional state than the quality of your drawings, the trick is to stay at it- and eventually good things being to happen.

(Some life drawings from Bill Stout's workshop.)
So here are a bunch of my latest practice work. You clients are never really going to push you to get better; their interest is in the commercial success of your work. So if you want to improve, you really have to do the work on your own.

(More life drawings where I've added doodles later.)

Whenver I find I have time, I like to work on my painting skills. The sales of my paintings are a miniscule part of my income, but what I learn from the work has catapulted me into many jobs. And I love the results of the hours of painting.

(The bottom drawing I'll likely add some work to in the background. Of course it is hard to improve on Sara or Nicole- terrific models!)

I'm also a compulsive sketcher. In the mornings I try and do a 30 minute still life warmup. I also try and make it to a life drawing class at least once a week. Sometime I'll hit the perfect drawing on the page, and when I do I leave it alone. But most of the sketches I use as composition exercises, adding little doodles around them at a later date. Sometimes they are studies of my other artists whose work I admire, sometimes objects around the house or studio, and occasionally things that just jump out of my imagination.

(These are charcoal sketches with pastel color added. Mostly stuff around the studio and one of my wife's sandals.)
I also keep a smaller sketchbook in my car. There are always five to ten minutes waiting at the doctor's office,Post Office, or lunch when you can squeeze in a doodle. And I have a pocketsize Moleskin sketchbook that I take on my morning walk in the beautiful hills around my house. There's never a shortage of subjects.

(Some morning a pure white marine layer oozes in between the hills. That's my idea of a special effect.)
What happens with all this practice is that you being to get an inkling of the old Zen philosophy, that the destination is unimportant, but that the journey is everything.


  1. Your watercolor and acrylic style recalls some of Doug Wildey's work. Really great art!

  2. Those watercolor/acrylic combinations are scrumptious! Practice certainly makes for perfection as your samples here show. Excellent work, Mike!