Thursday, December 1, 2011

Big News! J. Perrault represented by Xanadu Gallery

Yesterday I received notice of acceptance into Xanadu Gallery in Scottsdale, Arizona. For now I'll be a part of their virtual gallery. If sales are good then I can be invited to show in the physical gallery. 
This is a huge opportunity that I've been working hard toward since my visit there last February. Now I'm going to have to work even harder to maximize this chance. Wish me luck...

To visit my virtual on-line gallery with Xanadu gallery click here: J. Perrault

Gray Sweater
 oil 20x16

Friday, November 25, 2011

Chelsea (8x10): Progressive Steps

Shot with my iphone, (except the last one).

Chesea oil 8x10

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

My New Paintings at West End Gallery

"White Knight"
oil 8x10 in.
"Find Time to..."
Oil 16x20 in.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

artmatch 4u

"artmatch 4u" an online art magazine has posted my review of the Open Box M easel system. Check out their site. It has a lot of interesting stuff (besides my article). here's the link: artmatch4u

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


Juanita - oil on linen 8x10

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Two New Ones

This one is at West End Gallery in Corning, NY for the "Windows" exhibit.
Amelia's Morning Meditation - oil on linen 11x14
Not titled just yet - or finished
oil on linen 11x14

Monday, July 25, 2011


One of my favorite lines (as my son well knows) is "the only constant in life is change". Since the beginning of May my attention has been diverted from painting to a significant event that is, and will, cause drastic changes in all of our lives. Because of an initial period of adjustment and struggle I've been neglecting my painting. Slowly...very slowly,  I've begun working again. First I finished up a boatload of paintings I'd left in various stages of completedness. Now my decks are cleared and I'm ready to start fresh on fresh work. If you have been checking back here wondering what's going on, I can tell you  soon I'll posting some of this new work. Stay tuned for updates. Thanks!

Friday, May 6, 2011

My Son's Chess Set

Red King and Queen
16x20 oil on linen $1200

White Queen
8x10 oil on linen $300

The Lewis Chess Set

For Christmas my son received a chess set. The set is a replica called The Lewis Chessmen, and while over 800 years old, is know to teens and tweens from "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone". One morning, struck by the clear, winter light hitting the pieces I immediately got down on my hands and knees for a closer look. 

The Lewis Chess Set is actually the best of four different sets. They were found on the Isle of Lewis in 1831 by a farmer walking the beach after a storm. The rising seas had exposed a stone chamber near the ruins of a nunnery. One version of the story has the young farmer actually falling into the chamber during the storm. Startled by the arranged pieces illuminated in a flash of lightning, he ran home to his wife saying he'd been captured by "the little people". Practical-minded she marched him back to the find, then sold them to a dealer in Edinburgh.

No one knows how the sets came to the remote Isle of Lewis, or why they were entombed. Experts agree the sets are 12th century Scandinavian in origin. They were carved from walrus tusks and they accurately represent the dress and customs of the time. Carved on their faces are the realities of a warfare that was brutal, close and personal. There is no glory - just horror and survival.

On that winter day I was struck by the humanity of the little pieces, a quality not normally found in a chess set. I wanted to paint them.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Couple Things

Now on FaceBook thanks to some serious lobbying by Bridget Bossart van Otterloo, Barb Blumer, and others. I'd had an account for a while, just never became active. So if you want to be 'friends' look me up.

Other news is I've a "Get-to-Know' entry on West End Gallery's blog. Basically it's a question and answer.  I'll probably post it on my blog also, but if you're impatient you can find it here.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Noah takes a photo of himself every day for 6 years.

There are other videos on YouTube of people taking everyday photos of themselves and blending them into a sort of time lapse video. I think this one is the best. 

It's like time is swirling all around Noah, almost as if he were in a river. The changes in his background are fast and dramatic: light, people, locations, but the changes on his appearance are subtle (except for his hair). He gains some weight, his forehead recedes, he seems to grow sad, then recover. I'm not sure why, but I've been thinking about this video all week.

Other similar videos are OK, but lack the power of this one for various reasons. In one a teenaged girl pays no attention to lighting, or anything else really, and its disjointed, confusing. In order to make it work the lighting has to be consistent for a good number of frames and the 'triangle' of the face (eyes, nose, mouth) need to be in the same position time after time.

Another guy tried his hand at it. He seemed to shoot each photo after getting out of the shower everyday. I know why, he was lining his face and head up with the tiles behind him, using them as a grid. So you see his appearance through time, and only his appearance. In order for it to work the face has to remain reasonably steady while life swirls and spins around behind. 

And of course there's an App for this. It's called - what else? - "EveryDay'. It works on iPhone4. It will remind you at set times to take a photo, then uses your phone camera to take the picture. The previous day's photo is ghosted on your screen so you can line up your head to keep consistency. Looks like it would work.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Fur Hat

Willa in Fur Hat
Oil on linen 8x10

Didn't spend a lot of time taking these photos (obviously) but you get the idea. 8x10 oil on linen. To see C&C at WetCanvas click here.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Yes! I'm painting!

Readers might be forgiven if they thought the recent Kim English workshop had traumatized me into not painting. Not so! There are quite a few paintings rotating on and off my easel, it's just that none of them are quite yet in a state I'd like to show. Soon...soon, I'll be posting them soon.

In the meantime please enjoy this painting of me painting by Kim English. He painted it plein aire in ten minutes at our recent workshop. I had no idea he was painting me painting - then I neglected to get a photo of his result. Without my asking, he was kind enough to send a copy. I'm afraid to ask the price....

By Kim English (completed in ten minutes)

For the record, my kids say I look too old in the painting. Gee thanks Kim.
Also recently this past week I had a chance to view a significant portion of my unsold landscape paintings all together. My wife has moved into a new office with bare walls and she requested (no - demanded) all my unsold landscapes. So I duly recalled them from the gallery and attic. Pretty cool seeing work from two, three, even five years ago. I have no idea why some of them went unsold, but I'm glad because now they're going into her permanent collection.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Kim English Workshop: A Review

Mid-February in upstate New York is a good time to leave for a week in Arizona. So I did. Around Valentine's Day my friend Bruce and I flew to Scottsdale for a workshop with nationally known painter Kim English. It was my first workshop ever.

L to R: artist Rose Nadeau, Kim English, artist Karen McLain, artist Rick Graham
How and why this workshop was chosen is a long story I'll condense to a paragraph. Bruce's wife gifted him a workshop anywhere/anytime for his birthday. That was two years ago. He wouldn't (or couldn't choose) so she started working on me, asking me to find one he'd like to attend. The catch was she wanted me to go with him because she thought he'd enjoy it more. This made sense. I was game. After mucho discussion we decided on Kim English in Scottsdale. I had a place for us to stay - so that saved me some money, and English's style of painting appealed to Bruce.

Going in I knew the workshop would play to Bruce's strengths, and my weakness's. Bruce has done a lot of plein-aire, he paints fast, and he favors a looser style. I on the other hand, hate to leave the studio, paint relatively slow, and incline away from the "painterly" styles of oil. But my thoughts were I'd get a lot of brush time and get out of my comfort zone. Besides, the high here was 8 degrees F and 70 degrees in Arizona. No brainer.

First impressions of Scottsdale Artist's School were positive. Nice, light-filled building. Hallways hung with paintings by renowned artists. Friendly, helpful staff. Large, well-equipped studios. We didn't see much of the studio as almost all of our painting was outside, but we met in one every morning. I considered it an auspicious omen that a painting by Tom Buechner was hung just outside ours.

Kim started the first day with his painting box set up. Two models carried on a casual conversation in front of him while he demonstrated some tips for capturing a scene quickly. He pre-mixed piles of color while commenting on his palette choices. He showed how he wanted us to quickly mass in the figures and background, explaining there wasn't time to do a line drawing of the scene or match each and every value. A broad, gestural glance was more what he was looking for. 

Someone said they'd heard a Kim English workshop was like a boot camp for artists. It is, but not in the sense that you have someone standing over you screaming while you attempt to paint. More in the sense he seems to believe in the discipline of painting, and painting a lot, under the self-imposed stress of time. Kim gets down to the basics of capturing a scene quickly while outside in changing conditions. He wants the artists to think on their feet and adapt.

To do this we started the day with five minute poses. That's right - five minutes to get the figures and the background down. Five minutes and the models changed the pose - and the pose wasn't static. The models pretended they were two ordinary people chatting and interacting as we painted. These five minute poses lasted all morning - three hours with very minimal breaks. I sucked at it.

A word here about surfaces. The course calls for 10 - 15 small panels (8x10, 9x12) that will be painted on and wiped off. Thinking to economize Bruce and I bought cheap, and I mean cheap, acrylic primed duck surfaces. This was a mistake. Expensive as it is I'd strongly suggest bringing primed linen panels. Wiping off the cheapos was a chore. The surfaces took paint poorly and when working fast you want the paint to glide smoothly off the brush. I ended up buying some linen panels at the school toward the end of the week. They wiped clean and the paint lay bright and smooth. 

In case you're wondering, yes the five minute poses were gradually stretched to ten, and even twenty minutes, through the week. We never went over twenty though. Kim explained that if you get used to five minutes, then ten seems a luxury and twenty downright hedonist. I guess that makes sense if your ideal is to capture quick plein-aire studies. Useful tip he passed to me when I asked about capturing figures in motion ... He says the human walk is broken down into five stages. Memorize them. Then when you see a figure's action close your eyes quickly freezing the movement on the back of your eyelids. Then open your eyes and get the movement down immediately. With practice you can get pretty accurate.

Throughtout the workshop Kim painted alongside his students, making rounds to comment on our work. Sometimes a student would stop by his painting and ask a question, then a few more would crowd around and it became an impromptu demo. On the second day during one of these 'demos' the question was asked if all his gallery paintings were plein-aire. Kim said none of his gallery paintings were plein-aire. I'm sure I heard a collective gasp.

His methods of working are to paint plein-air sketches on site and take photographs. Then back in the studio he reviews the sketches and photos to begin a gallery piece. He paints it alla prima (in one go) from the computer monitor, and he never goes back to 'tart it up' afterwards. The painting has to stand on its feet from just one days painting. 

Some bubbles were burst when he told the group this, but I smiled to myself as I'd guessed it from looking at his paintings. Kim's idea is to capture the scene with the urgency and freshness of on-site painting, while painting in the studio. If he's not painting he has a camera in hand, a large digital SLR. Once when I was driving to lunch with him chatting, he suddenly leaned across to snap a picture out my window. It was of a young man sitting on a bench rim-lit by the Scottsdale sun. Anyone who has spent any time with a photographer is familiar with the quick shot mid-conversation, then the casual return. I noticed Kim took a lot of photos, all with some sort of dramatic light and color as subject.

Each day the models were different and there were always two. Each day the location changed, but it was always on the grounds of the school. Most students saved their best paintings of the day. As the week went on and Kim became more familiar with each student's abilities and personality, he would make the rounds offering pertinent advice. When getting to me however, he would mostly stand behind and sigh.

Thursday in Scottsdale is the Gallery Walk when all the galleries stay open late. A large part of the class went out to dinner together that night, then hit the galleries afterward. Wow is all I have to say. It was a real thrill seeing the work of artists I'd only read about. Legacy had a $40,000 Lipking. Then there were Robert Coombs, Daniel Gerhartz, Steve Hanks, David Leffel, Amy Lind, Aaron Westerberg...and that was just Legacy. Also saw Michael Workman, Marci Oleszkiewicz, Calvin Liang, Joseph LaRusso...ok, lots of artist's work. Were there any cowboys and indians? You betcha, far too many, but this was the Southwest. In my opinion our galleries here have far too many lakes and vineyards. 

Friday was a group critique. Kim is gentle. While he has a hint of sarcasm in his humor, he's kind and pertinent in his critiques. I saw no one in tears. As a matter of fact his sense of humor kept the class fun. The entire week was hard work with lots of laughs. What could be better? And I mean hard work. Bruce and I were up at 6:30 every morning for the drive in to Scottsdale, and home at about 8:30. Then we went to bed - exhausted. Friday night we went out to dinner with our new friends. More laughs and some - just some - wine. Saturday we flew home to be greeted by a snowstorm. 

Everyone loves Bruce 
Conclusion: This class is not for the faint of heart or those without some skill - especially in plein-air.  Kim is a good instructor, but he doesn't hold your hand. You won't come home with any finished pieces, but you will hopefully have a practice method to get a scene down fresh and fast. Highly recommended if you want to refine/speed up your plein-air sketching with figures. This is also a good course if you are looking for some intensive time on the brush. 

Note: If you have questions about this workshop I may be able to answer, please leave a comment or email me.

And last but not least - A Very, Special Thanks! to my sister-in-law for hosting us in her home. Thanks Annette!    

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Website Update

Currently in the process of reworking my website. Taking longer than I thought it would...

Monday, January 31, 2011

Open Box M: A Review

Recently while browsing the web I popped in at the Open Box M site. I hadn't been there in a while since my own Open Box is working just fine.  I was astonished to see this message posted prominently on their site, "Please Plan Ahead! We are a small company that makes handcrafted artist equipment. Due to a high demand for our products and our attention to quality, it can be up to 4 weeks until your order is completed. Please contact us for expected delivery times. Thank you, open Box M."


I've been meaning to do a review of the Open Box M palette. This little message by the company, plus the fact their products run in the hundreds of dollars, spurred me on.  If a serious artist is thinking about plopping down - oh say over $500 with tax + delivery - I'm sure they'd want the opinion of someone who's used it for a while. I know I would.

A brief history: at one point in my artistic career my thought was to be a plein aire painter. A friend uses an Open Box M palette so I bought one.  I wanted a set-up that would work in the studio and in the field. So I bought an Open Box M. I think it was the 11x14 model with the walnut case. This was around 2007 and I don't know what I paid. Now the same kit is going for $460.

Walnut Case and Panel Holder

I used the kit all summer - well I used the palette. This is the working part of the set-up. it's essentially a shallow box with a means of holding panels/canvas. The interior of the box is supposed to be used as a palette. The box itself is set up on a tripod - not included in the price.

A word about the method of holding the canvas/panel. They use two brass rods that are spring loaded to hold the painting surface. It's really quite ingenius. I've taken it apart to see how it works (they cover up the innards with brass plates) and it's a simple, yet elegant method. This is the real heart of the Open Box M system, why you see photos of artists using it in magazines like Workshop and American Artist. The brass rods hold the painting surface secure with no rattle or shake. Competitors have nothing to match it.

The only part of the kit I use is the palette. I found the walnut case beautiful, but too big and heavy for everyday use. The wet panel carrier isn't as well thought-out as the palette holder, so I reverted to my old method of carrying wet panels. 

This can be confusing. I found it so on their site when I was looking to buy. Here's a breakdown: the kit includes a big, heavy wooden box (beautifully finished) to hold paint, brushes, etc. It also holds a wet canvas carrier - basically useless. And the real reason for buying the kit is the palette, the shallow box with brass rods that mount to a tripod. This is what you paint on.

There are alternatives offered. For instance you can buy a kit that doesn't include the walnut box, instead substituting a messenger bag + palette + wet panel carrier.

After using my Open Box "M" palette all summer in 2007 I decided it wasn't for me. Now I wanted a Soltek. In my defense this was my 'experimental phase' when I was trying as many different set-ups as possible in search of that mythical, perfect set-up. A friend jumped at the chance to buy my Open Box and I sold it to him. Then:

I bought the Soltek. I sold the Soltek.
I bought an Easy "L".  Now its down the basement.
I bought a Guerilla Box. Now down the basement, joining the Jullian.
I even tried my hand at making my own.

Eventually... reluctantly... I decided the best system was indeed the Open Box "M" palette. Now I had to buy another one. (In case you're wondering if I'm like this in other areas, my wife and I have been married eighteen years and my truck is six years old.) This time, however, I ignored the heavy (expensive) walnut box, opting instead for the messenger bag set-up.

A word here about Open Box's competitors. I'll break down their negatives because that's what decided me against them.

Easy "L" - too large and heavy. Needs a massive tripod. Panel fastener is inferior to Open Box. Hinges are superior to Open Box. Second most popular among artists based on my browsing of workshop photos.

Guerilla Box - large and heavy, yet indestructible. Worst drawback is their panel fastening system. It requires you buying a separate holder for each size panel. And the panels rattle with each brushstroke. I want my painting surface to be rock steady.

Jullian - large and heavy, but incorporates tripod into system so you don't have to carry it around. Set-up can be complicated ( I see people at almost every painting session I go to struggling with their Jullians. And I see many elderly painters asking for help.) Ultimately I found the palette surface of the Jullian too low for comfortable painting. I didn't like the panel fastening sytem either. You can't get to your entire surface without some mid-painting adjustments.

Soltek - ahhh...Now this is one I'd choose again. The tripod is part of the box and it all folds neatly down into a compact package. If some crazed art materials thief stole my kit tomorrow, I'd buy a Soltek as replacement. Drawback to the Soltek is a lousy palette inside. Wilcox may have changed it, but mine was a piece of flimsy plastic gray tupperware. The Soltek is basically an updated 21st century Jullian made of aluminum and plastic. Comes at a premium though. Cost is comparable to Open Box. (Note: they offer a "pro" model that's supposed to be for artists over 5'8", but I'm 6' and it fit me fine.) 

and now for the negatives of open Box M:

There aren't many - otherwise i wouldn't have settled on one. I'm nit-picking. The box could have dovetailed corners. Needs a quality tripod, but it doesn't have a to be a huge tripod. I get along quite nicely with a lightweight Bogen. Hinge system can be annoying...and ...ummm...that's it.

If you're thinking of buying one are they worth the money? Probably. Are they worth the money and the wait? Not for me...I'd get a Soltek. Or for the price I'd try this new version offered at Dick Blick. Looks like it would work...or you never know it might end up down the basement.

Craftech Sienna Plein Air Pochade

About Me

My photo
Elmira, New York, United States
In many ways I think like a photographer. The image itself is becoming more and more important to me; the actual application of paint less and less. Blasphemy in some painterly circles. I choose to paint figures and portraits because I consider them the most difficult subject.