Thursday, April 2, 2020

Painting Videos & Online Mentoring Program

Lights, camera, and action ...

By popular demand, Kimberly and I have been busy creating painting videos, and developing an online mentoring program. 

We will all be able to paint together again someday. Nothing beats the energy of an in person workshop, and I already miss it. But in the meantime, we can keep our spirits up by practicing our art in the comfort of our homes and studios.

Hoping to have something to share with you next week ... 



© Patrick and Kimberly Saunders, Patrick Saunders Fine Arts, 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s authors/owners is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Patrick Saunders for painted works, or to Kimberly Saunders for photographs and/or videos, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Pet Portraits - Part One

As many of you know, dogs are one of my favorite subjects to paint. Kimberly and I document some of our favorite pet portraits, and some that just make us laugh, on our travels to museums.

There are just too many good paintings for one post, so I'll split this topic into two posts.

I'll start with one of my absolute favorites. This piece by Anders Zorn at the Metropolitan Museum of Art perfectly balances the relationship between the sitter and the dog, with neither overwhelming the other.


"Mrs. Walter Rathbone Bacon (Virginia Purdy Barker)" • Anders Zorn • 1897 • Oil on Canvas • 67.25”x42.5”
The dog is simply painted with bravura brushwork, and Zorn perfectly captures the feel of the thick, soft fur. Looking at this, you could almost expect the dog to walk out of the picture frame. I highly recommend viewing this one in person.


In this piece by Edouard Manet at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., the dog is only a supporting element, but I find it to be one of the most interesting parts of the painting.

"The Railway" • Eduard Manet • 1873 • Oil on Canvas • 36.75”x43.875"
While the brushwork is direct and solid, the pup has a very delicate feel. Notice how the brush strokes along the back scumble along the edges, creating a softness that does not draw away from the head.


Here is another by Manet that again employs a combination of hard and soft textures and edges to direct the viewer towards the head. 

"A King Charles Spaniel" • Edouard Manet • c. 1866 • Oil on Linen • 18.125”x14.9375"
And now for one that I find hilarious. This piece by Francisco de Goya is also from the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. The face of María is beautifully painted, but the dog just might be related to Animal from the The Muppets.

"María Teresa de Borbón y Vallabriga, later Condesa de Chinchón" • Francisco de Goya • 1783 • Oil on Canvas • 52.9375”x46.25"
The dog is almost decorative, with textured strokes reminiscent of a faux painted wall. It's weird, and I love it.


Another by Goya that I also find humorous.

"The Marquesa de Pontejos" • Francisco de Goya • 1786 • Oil on Canvas • 82 13/16" x 50”
The ornamentation that the pug wears is given far more importance that the dog itself.


I first saw this piece by J. Alden Weir during a visit to the Museum of the Dog in New York. The museum itself is excellent overall, and this piece is my favorite of the collection.

"Words of Comfort" • J. Alden Weir • 1887 • Oil on Canvas
The painting borders on the illustrative, but I mean that in a positive sense. The draftsmanship is incredible. Just look at the weight of the paws in this detail.


This piece by Jamie Wyeth from the Brandywine River Museum of Art has a much more contemporary feel with a seemingly Jackson Pollack inspired background.

"Kleberg Daydreaming" • Jamie Wyeth • 2016 • Mixed Media on Paper
What I really love is the expression Wyeth captured on Kleberg's face. I've seen many a dog enjoying warm sunshine with that very look.


Painting photos by Saunders Fine Arts.

© Patrick and Kimberly Saunders, Patrick Saunders Fine Arts, 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s authors/owners is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Patrick Saunders for painted works, or to Kimberly Saunders for photographs and/or videos, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

"Statesmen of World War I" - The National Portrait Gallery, London, England

During our visit to the National Portrait Gallery in London last August, Kimberly and I were able to view a huge portrait of British leaders from WWI, painted by Sir James Guthrie. The portrait is a great example of how to handle a group portrait while still maintaining an effective composition.

“Statesmen of World War I”
• Sir James Guthrie
• 1924-30
• Oil on Canvas
• 156”x132”
The commission for the painting was originally offered to Sir William Orpen, who declined due to other work, and Sir James Guthrie was then recommended by John Singer Sargent.

Guthrie painted a separate portrait study of each individual which he then used to create the larger work. Guthrie's study of Louis Botha was used by Sargent to create his own commissioned piece, "General Officers of World War I".

While every individual depicted in the painting is important, in order for the composition to work, a single focal point must always be defined. Former Prime Minister Arthur Balfour holds a position of prominence in the painting, standing tallest with his dark suit, but I would argue that Sir Winston Churchill is clearly the focal point. 



Through the use of value, color and vector lines (the direction of eye lines, hands, edges, etc.), a majority of the elements all lead us to Churchill's depiction. A number of other individuals look directly at him, and even Balfour's hand points directly to the future Prime Minister.

The colors and values are at their brightest and most intense surrounding Churchill. He also stares directly at the viewer, locking his gaze with ours and holding attention.


While other subjects within the painting also stare directly at the viewer, none of them have the perfect combination of value, color and vector lines that make Churchill so prominent. Without this clear hierarchy, the painting would not have such a powerful composition and hold our interest within it.


Painting photos by Saunders Fine Arts.

© Patrick and Kimberly Saunders, Patrick Saunders Fine Arts, 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s authors/owners is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Patrick Saunders for painted works, or to Kimberly Saunders for photographs and/or videos, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

"A Window on Bentley's Backyard" - Plein Air Richmond

Here's a little story for #TakeMeBackTuesday about why it's never a bad idea to revisit an old subject. Even if you've failed the first time, every painting is a new adventure, and the unexpected can always happen.

For three years in a row, Kimberly and I would spend a week participating in Plein Air Richmond. We were lucky enough to have the most fabulous hosts, and I was always drawn to the beauty of their home, especially the staircase on the back of the house. For me, it represented some of the essence of Richmond, Virginia. Every house we visited had a beautiful backyard space that felt both intimate and welcoming. 

In 2016, I decided that I was going to paint that staircase. It was a complete disaster. I was overwhelmed by the complicated scene, and I ended up over painting the architecture, making it a cold and sterile piece. It just didn't capture the feeling of the space.

A year later, we were back. I decided to attempt the scene again, and this time fate was on my side. I was just a short while into the painting, and even though it was going well, it wasn't anything special. There were two dogs at the residence then, Bentley and Dudley. Their alpha had just passed away recently, and Bentley, the larger of the two, was still unsure of his role as the new alpha. As I painted, Dudley came outside and fell asleep at my feet. Bentley then descended the stairs and came to rest in a perfect spot, wanting to keep and eye on his brother, but still too afraid of me to come any closer. 

This was it. This was exactly what the painting needed. Bentley became the focal point of the piece. He stayed in place for about 20 minutes, which was all the time I needed to add him in. Once I had painted Bentley, everything else fell into place. Bentley added the perfect sense of a relaxed home to the painting. It went on to win Best In Show at Plein Air Richmond, and was then featured on the cover of Southwest Art Magazine and in Plein Air Magazine.

So, if at first you don't succeed, try, try again.

“A Window On Bentley's Backyard” • Oil on Linen • 18"x24” • Private Collection
Painting photo by Saunders Fine Arts.

© Patrick and Kimberly Saunders, Patrick Saunders Fine Arts, 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s authors/owners is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Patrick Saunders for painted works, or to Kimberly Saunders for photographs and/or videos, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

March 2020 Newsletter - Better Brushwork

I'm often asked how to improve brushwork in a painting. 

Sign up for my latest newsletter, and read about some very simple things you can do to improve the quality of brushstrokes in your work.

Click here for my newsletter:
http://bit.ly/PSFA-Newsletter-Sign-up





© Patrick and Kimberly Saunders, Patrick Saunders Fine Arts, 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s authors/owners is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Patrick Saunders for painted works, or to Kimberly Saunders for photographs and/or videos, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Plein Air Interior Paintings

As many of us are currently spending our days indoors, here are a few more interior paintings for inspiration. Some of these are public places, but the first one is from a friend's kitchen in Christoval, Texas. There's a lot to paint right in our own homes.

These paintings were all created during plein air competitions, and each event included interiors within their rules. I've caught heat from some who insist that "plein air" has be outdoors, but who needs rules when it comes painting? Just do what you love and don't be phased by those who need to label it.

"Heart of a Home" • Oil on Linen • 18"x24" • Private Collection

"Dining At the Swan" • Oil on Linen • 18"x24" • Private Collection

"Lounge At the Jefferson" • Oil on Linen • 16"x20" • Private Collection
Painting photos by Saunders Fine Arts.

© Patrick and Kimberly Saunders, Patrick Saunders Fine Arts, 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s authors/owners is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Patrick Saunders for painted works, or to Kimberly Saunders for photographs and/or videos, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

"Petal Puzzle" - First Day of Spring

First day of spring!

Growing up in the Midwest, I always found the winters to be oppressive. We could go for weeks with cold, grey days and no sign of the sun. Sometimes, it seemed like it would go on forever. 

The first day of spring was always a welcome one. Even though we might still get some freezing weather, or even snow, it always gave me a sense of hope that sunny days are right around the corner. We could all use a bit of that sense of hope for better days ahead right now.

“Petal Puzzle” • Oil on Linen • 6"x8” • Private Collection
Painting photo by Saunders Fine Arts

© Patrick and Kimberly Saunders, Patrick Saunders Fine Arts, 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s authors/owners is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Patrick Saunders for painted works, or to Kimberly Saunders for photographs and/or videos, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

"Betty" - Dog Portrait Painting

Hey everyone, as a precaution due to our recent travel, Kimberly and I are social distancing. Now is a great time to paint just for yourself, and I'm looking forward to that. In that spirit, I'll be sharing some pieces I created simply out of love for my subject.

First up is a 2010 portrait of our dog Betty. This is one of the few paintings I did while living in Park Slope (working in advertising left me almost no time to paint). Betty always made us feel loved, and we miss her every day. She wanted nothing more than to be with us, no matter if we were at home or at the park.

"Betty" • Oil on Canvas • 30"x40"

Painting photo by Saunders Fine Arts

© Patrick and Kimberly Saunders, Patrick Saunders Fine Arts, 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s authors/owners is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Patrick Saunders for painted works, or to Kimberly Saunders for photographs and/or videos, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

First Place & Artists Choice Awards - 2020 Lighthouse ArtCenter Plein Air Festival

I am so honored to have received First Place and the Artist Choice awards at the Lighthouse ArtCenter's 2020 Lighthouse ArtCenter Plein Air Festival

My thanks to event judge Barbara Stella, of Stella Art Conservation, and to all of my fellow artists who voted for me. My thanks also to Nancy Politsch, and everyone at Lighthouse, for all of your hard work to make this great event happen every year. I'm already looking forward to my workshop next year at the Lighthouse Artcenter Museum and School of Art.

Every year, I find a new spot to paint at the Blowing Rocks Nature Preserve in Jupiter Island, Florida, my favorite location in the entire state. This year, I was drawn to a massive sea grape tree along Maggy's path. The sunlight reflected off of the ground created a beautiful warm glow on the trunk of the tree. 

"Maggy's Path, Blowing Rocks" • Oil on Linen • 16"x20" • Available at Lighthouse ArtCenter

Painting photo by Saunders Fine Arts.

© Patrick and Kimberly Saunders, Patrick Saunders Fine Arts, 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s authors/owners is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Patrick Saunders for painted works, or to Kimberly Saunders for photographs and/or videos, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Friday, March 13, 2020

"Dockside at Guanabanas" Plein Air Nocturne Painting - 2020 Lighthouse ArtCenter Plein Air Festival

I'm a big fan of Tiki bars on the water, especially on a perfect evening. Just give me my paints, and of course a cold beer.

This was painted from the docks of Guanabanas Island Restaurant and Bar in Jupiter, Florida and is available this evening at the Lighthouse ArtCenter's 2020 Lighthouse ArtCenter Plein Air Festival.

"Dockside At Guanabanas" • Oil on Linen • 16"x20" • Available at Lighthouse ArtCenter

Painting photo by Saunders Fine Arts.

© Patrick and Kimberly Saunders, Patrick Saunders Fine Arts, 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s authors/owners is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Patrick Saunders for painted works, or to Kimberly Saunders for photographs and/or videos, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

"Mangroves Dipping Their Toes In the Water" - 2020 Lighthouse Art Center Plein Air Festival

A few weeks ago, I wrote about John Singer Sargent's painting "Portrait of Ralph Curtis on the Beach at Scheveningen" having sand particles embedded in its surface. Yesterday, a similar fate befell my own painting.

As I painted these mangroves at the Nature Conservancy Blowing Rocks Preserve on Jupiter Island, Florida, I was sitting just five feet away from the water's edge, and I kept a close eye on the rising tide. What I didn't expect was the huge yacht that came speeding past me just yards away. The resulting wave came ten feet up the beach, sending my easel and the painting face down into the sand. Thankfully, it only adds to the authenticity, and sand is completely archival.

"Mangroves Dipping Their Toes In the Water" • Oil on Linen • 14"x18"  
• Available this evening at the Lighthouse ArtCenter 

© Patrick and Kimberly Saunders, Patrick Saunders Fine Arts, 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s authors/owners is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Patrick Saunders for painted works, or to Kimberly Saunders for photographs and/or videos, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.