Saturday, October 15, 2011

Saul Tepper

The great yet mostly unknown Saul Tepper. I’ve always been a fan.
 From the Society of Illustrators:–Saul-Tepper.aspx
By 19, he was working full time in his own lettering studio while studying art at night and on weekends. He found William DeLeftwich Dodge’s composition classes at Cooper Union and George Bridgeman’s “ideas in drawing” at the Art Students League, were important influences. But his most important influence came later, under Harvey Dunn at the Grand Central Art School and at Dunn’s Tenafly, New Jersey, studio.
After graduating from Cooper Union, Saul acquired a job in a studio as a lettering man. There, he had his first chance to do some figure work in oil. In 1920, he married Beatrice Lindenburg. They had two children, Albert and Joan. In 1925, at the Van Dyke Studios he branched out as an illustrator. For the next few years, his work developed under the guidance of Harvey Dunn. Saul’s first sample from his new studio was purchased by Liberty magazine, who created a story around it. Collier’s followed shortly thereafter, as did the Curtis Publishing group (Ladies Home Journal, Saturday Evening Post and Country Gentleman) then came Woman’s Home Companion, The American, Cosmopolitan and Good Housekeeping. By the mid 1930’s, Saul’s style had become recognizable and commanded top dollar. His advertising campaigns for Chesterfield cigarettes and General Electric and his WW II posters, commissioned by the United States government and by Stetson Hats, are most notable.
Saul moved his work to the Lincoln Square Studios and then, for thirteen of his most productive years, to the Hotel Des Artistes.
As a lecturer, Saul has spoken often to groups of students and professionals at Cooper Union, Pratt Institute, the Society of Illustrators and Art Directors Clubs.
Because Saul knows the importance of the patient help one artist will lend another, he has given of his time to many. Al Dorne apprenticed to Saul at his first lettering studio and later Harry Beckoff and others. We will never know how many would have put down the pen for a shovel without Saul’s help. He tells about one young man, Arthur DeKuh, an ex-boxer and bathhouse bouncer, who, through hard work and Saul’s critiques, established a career in art.
Saul, having grown up during the Golden Age of American Illustration, was influenced by it. The period between World War I and II was Saul’s “Golden Age,” an era of romance and adventure in which he, Cornwell and Rockwell played an important part. Reproduced in the major magazines for four decades, Saul’s work became a source of inspiration for many artists of that period.
In the 1950’s, still an active artist for the new adventure magazines (True, Argosy and Real), Saul reached a point of dissatisfaction. He became TV art director for J. Walter Thompson and BBD&O, creating images for TV commercials. He also continued with his music, composing the Red Cross theme song for 1960-1961.Saul passed away in 1987.

Strata (Oil on board)

Finished another painting of my New York series today.
Kim and I went for a beautiful Sunday morning bike ride into Manhattan. This was the scene from the corner of Pearl and Coenties. I had to lay on my back to get this view. I loved the way the architecture from multiple time periods mixed to create the scene.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Finished portrait of Opal

After a few more hours of work, I’ve finished the portrait of Opal. I’m very happy with the final outcome of the painting, and a big thanks goes to Kimberly for making a few last minute suggestions. Always good to have a fresh eye. Opal on the other hand seems very disinterested in her portrait.

Opal portrait - Round 2

The portrait of Opal continues. Round 2 was about an hour and a half. I felt it was important to capture the thickness of her coat. I’ve also made some adjustments to the drawing. And no, she did not sit for the portrait. She actually spent most of the afternoon hiding behind the toilet. One more round and it should be complete.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Portrait of Opal in-progress

A few weeks ago, Opal was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Knowing we may lose her soon, it’s more important than ever that I capture her in a painting. She still enjoys sitting in the sun as it streams through any window, and that’s how I’ll always remember her. Here’s the painting about one hour in. More to come.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Dog Stare

Painting at home all afternoon is a rewarding experience, but at the same time, there's always a feeling of guilt. Here's why:
It's that constant look the dogs give me of "What are we gonna do now?" I have no idea what they're actually thinking, but I do get the sense that it's along the lines of "I'm bored, and you're just standing there."

Jamie Wyeth captured the look perfectly. I can only imagine that his dog was thinking the same thing.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Oil sketches say a lot with a little.

I was painting this image of Betty as a demo. I only had minutes, but I liked how it started and kept it, intending to take it further at a later date.
Kimberly convinced me to let it stand as is, and I have to say I like it. Sometimes the best paintings are the quick impressions. The paint has captured Betty's stance and expression with a minimum of rendering.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Lucian Freud, the painter's painter, is dead at 88

Lucian Freud, a grandson of Sigmund Freud, died last Wednesday at his London home following a brief illness. Viewed by many (including myself) as the world's greatest living painter, he worked until the very end, almost completing a portrait of his assistant David Dawson a few days prior to his death.

His focus was painting what was before him, and in painting from life, Freud was apt to spend a great deal of time with one subject, and demanded the model's presence even while working on subsidiary elements. A nude completed in 2007 required sixteen months of work, with the model posing all but four evenings during that time; with each session averaging five hours, the painting took approximately 2,400 hours to complete. A rapport with his models was necessary, and while at work, Freud was characterised as "an outstanding raconteur and mimic".Regarding the difficulty in deciding when a painting is completed, Freud said that "he feels he's finished when he gets the impression he's working on somebody else's painting".

It was Freud's practice to begin a painting by first drawing in charcoal on the canvas. He then applied paint to a small area of the canvas, and gradually worked outward from that point. For a new sitter, he often started with the head as a means of "getting to know" the person, then painted the rest of the figure, eventually returning to the head as his comprehension of the model deepens. A section of canvas was intentionally left bare until the painting is finished, as a reminder that the work was in progress. The finished painting is an accumulation of richly worked layers of pigment, as well as months of intense observation.

"I paint people," Freud said, "not because of what they are like, not exactly in spite of what they are like, but how they happen to be." Freud painted fellow artists, including Frank Auerbach and Francis Bacon. He produced a series of portraits of the performance artist Leigh Bowery, and also painted Henrietta Moraes, a muse to many Soho artists. Towards the end of his life he did a nude portrait of model Kate Moss. Freud was one of the best known British artists working in a representational style, and was shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 1989.

In May 2008, his 1995 portrait Benefits Supervisor Sleeping was sold at auction by Christie's in New York City for $33.6 million, setting a world record for sale value of a painting by a living artist.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

A good day of painting.

The Central Park scene is progressing nicely.

Another favorite painting.

There are many truly great landscape painters, but out of all of them Willard Metcalf (American, 1858-1925)stands apart for me. 

Of  the many landscapes he painted, one speaks to me more than any other - Giverny (1887, Oil on canvas, 26 x 32 in.). 

It's a simple scene, but somehow he's captured not only the visual representation, but I can feel the warmth of the sun and almost smell the grass. No color is more difficult to work with than green, and yet Metcalf makes it look completely natural in both the light and the shadows. Every leaf and blade of grass is there, and yet nothing is over painted. It's a simple scene, no figures, nothing of specific interest, and yet I can't look away.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

John Peter Russell

I came across this painting by John Peter Russell (1858-1930) in a book on Australian painters years ago, and I've always been drawn to it. The composition, color and texture are stunning. It becomes almost a tapestry of brushstrokes. I tend to pull out this piece for reference on almost every piece I create. John Peter Russell is not to be confused with John Russell, the English painter from a century earlier.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Filipp Malyavin

Filipp Malyavin (Russian, 1869-1940) studied under the great Ilya Repin, and you can see his influence on the work of Nicolai Fechin. He’s known for his portrayal of Russian peasants and a brilliant use of color. The varying patterns of the peasants clothing convey an abstract sense.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Hugh Ramsay

Found a nice cache of Hugh Ramsay (Australian, 1877-1906) paintings online. I've always been drawn to his nudes and portraits. Amazing work for one who died so young.

Ramsay was born in Glasgow, Scotland, son of John Ramsay. He moved with his family to Melbourne in 1878. He was educated at Essendon Grammar School, and joined classes at the National Gallery of Victoria at age 16 under Lindsay Bernard Hall and became one of the most brilliant students ever trained there. He won several first prizes, and at the competition for the traveling scholarship held in 1899 was narrowly beaten by Max Meldrum, another student of unusual ability.
Ramsay went to Europe in September 1900 and was fortunate in finding a kindred spirit, George Washington Lambert, on the same vessel. Arriving at Paris, he entered Academie Colarossi and was soon recognized as a student of great potential. He sent five pictures to the 1902 exhibition of the Societe Nationale des Beaux-Arts and four of these were accepted and hung together. No greater compliment could have been paid to a young student. Another Australian student whose studio was in the same building, Ambrose McCarthy Patterson  (brother-in-law of Nellie Melba, then at the height of her fame). Ramsay was introduced to Melba, who gave him a commission for a portrait and would no doubt have been able to help him in his career. Unfortunately Ramsay became ill in Paris, and it became necessary for him to return to the warmer climate of Australia and the opportunity to paint Melba was missed. Before leaving Europe, he had exhibited four pictures at the British Colonial Art Exhibition held in London at the Royal Institute galleries.
Returning to Australia, in spite of failing health, Ramsay succeeded in doing some remarkable work including The Sisters, now in the Sydney gallery, the Lady with a Fan (possibly his most famous painting), the portrait of David Scott Mitchell, and his own portrait, now in the Melbourne gallery. He gradually became weaker and died on 5 March 1906 a few weeks before completing his twenty-ninth year.
 Self-portrait with glasses, c. 1905, oil on canvas, 30.5 x 23.0 cm, Private collection

 Self- portrait, half-length with pointing finger, c. 1905, oil on canvas, 76.0 x 60.5 cm, Private collection

Monday, July 4, 2011

New paintings in progress

Two new paintings for the urban series in progress. One on canvas and one on board. The scene of the skyscrapers is well underway, while the figurative scene is in the earliest of stages. I have to say that perspective is a bitch.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Winslow Homer's Apple Picking

I love this painting. It's my favorite Winslow Homer out of everything he ever created. I first viewed it at the Terra Museum in Chicago years ago. It's a small watercolor, only 7x8 inches, but Homer uses the medium effortlessly and creates an amazing sense of light that suggests the warmth of the morning sun. There's no detail at all, and yet it all appears to be there. There's no dramatic story, only the simple emotion and the sense that you're there as well. You can almost feel the sun yourself.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Another Carolyn Anderson Painting Demonstration

Here's another short video made up of photographs I took of Carolyn Anderson painting a demonstration.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Portrait Featured on the Cover of Leawood Magazine

My portrait of the Reynolds family is featured on the cover of the Leawood, KS magazine Pavilions Life. The magazine also features an interview with Eva Reynolds of Eva Reynolds Fine Art.

"One particular artist that I enjoy working with is Patrick Saunders. He specializes in painting family portraits. He involves the entire family in the process. He comes to the home to get to know the family members, and takes photos of the family. He will then create a few sketches for the family to pick from to create the final oil painting." - Eva Reynolds

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Olivia and Emma - Portrait Demonstration

Here's one from way back (notice the hair I still have).

After the sketch is approved and the canvas stretched and primed to size, it's time for the real fun to begin. I let the girls start the painting for me. This served a double purpose of involving Olivia and Emma in the process as much as possible, and setting up unexpected areas of color, some of which would show through in the final painting.

Painting with the girls.
The final underpainting. Thanks to my two assistants.
I next dive right into painting on top of the girls work.  I decided to start with Emma. Her head is smaller than Olivia’s, due to her standing farther back in space, so I realize that she must have the most detail to achieve a balance between the two figures.  I always try to start where the painting requires the most detail, so I can set up my boundaries which the remainder of the painting must relate to.  I’ll also draw more attention to Olivia by placing a dark behind her head which contrasts well with her blonde hair.
Detail of Emma following the first painting session. Emma’s face is by no means at a finished point, but I don’t want to spend too much time and overwork it.  
Next, it’s time to start on Olivia.  In order to correctly measure the distance between the two figures, I feel it’s necessary to rough in the rocks of the waterfall between them. Once this space is established correctly, I can rough in Olivia’s face.
At this point I also rough in the shapes of the tulips in the foreground, knowing that these will be the most vibrant of all the colors in the painting.  These colors also help set up a comparison point for color throughout the remainder of the painting.

A detail of Olivia in progress.
The third element that requires precision drawing is the dog, Priscilla.  Again, in order to establish the correct position of her head, I must rough in the elements between Emma’s face and Priscilla’s face. I also feel that at this point I have enough spontaneous paint on the canvas that I can do some “drawing” with a thin brush to establish some of the secondary elements positions.  Notice the blue lines in the image below.
Detail of Prissy.
Now that all of the elements are correctly placed, it’s a matter of refinement and balance.  By balance, I’m refering to how much contrast should appear in each area, where hard and soft edges should appear, and how vibrant colors should be.
I paint and scrape down Emma’s face several times until I feel that I have captured the correct balance of drawing, spontaneity, and color. Scraping the paint off is never a waste of the previous painting session, because each time some of the color remains behind shaping the final result.
Detail of Olivia.
The final painting. Olivia and Emma, Oil on Canvas.

Mrs. Walter Rathbone Bacon by Anders Zorn

Another great painting from the New York Metropolitan Museum of art. An absolutely effortless (or so it appears) portrait of Mrs. Bacon and her dog. The dog is the real star of the painting. The fluid nature of the brushwork gives the impression that the dog could jump right out of the scene at any moment and shows a true mastery of the medium. According to Walter himself, both Sargent and Whistler admired this portrait when it was exhibited in 1897.
I've been searching for a better reproduction of this piece, but have yet to find one. It's difficult to photograph in the museum in the way it's currently displayed.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Carolyn Anderson Portrait Demonstration

A few years back, I was lucky enough to attend a workshop given by Carolyn Anderson in Logan Utah. I captured a step by step portrait demonstration in photos and have pieced it together in the movie below. Check out more of Carolyn's paintings at

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Lifestyle Illustration of the 60s

Fantastic book. Makes me wonder what life would have been like during the pre-stock age when illustration was still king. This book is filled with a variety of great work showcasing amazing technical skill, beautiful compositions, and interesting stylizations. I'm anticipating the next in the series.

Here's the description from
The 1960s was an optimistic era of unprecedented change, and its heady zeitgeist was captured in the amazing range of artwork that adorned the magazines of the time. Lifestyle Illustration of the 60s is a colossal survey of magazine artwork from the Swinging Sixties. It not only provides revelatory insight into the extraordinary artistic talents of the illustrators featured--such as Austin Briggs, Lynn Buckham, Antonio Lopez and Coby Whitmore--but also tellingly elucidates the social aspirations of this era of political optimism and sexual freedom. Featuring over 1,000 gloriously inventive and stylistically diverse illustrations, Lifestyle Illustration of the 60s traces the decade's dizzyingly swift evolution from the homemaking ethos of romantic coupledom to the stylish liberation of mini-skirted Chelsea girls and the psychedelic palette that evolved towards the decade's close, conjuring a fabulous and euphoric pageant of 1960s pop culture from rediscovered artworks by the very best illustrators of the day. An inspirational sourcebook for contemporary designers and fans of 1960s culture, Lifestyle Illustration of the 60s provides a wonderful, nostalgic adventure into an aspirational world of stylishly sophisticated living, revealing just how much life has changed in the intervening decades.

Joan of Arc by Jules Bastien-Lepage

Yet another gem at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. Located in a busy hallway, most visitors rush by this piece to view work by Degas, Van Gogh and Monet. The painting is large enough that it's difficult to take in without standing across the hall much to the annoyance of everyone moving through the space. The tapestry effect of the composition and paint application is amazing and truly worth viewing in person.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Nana by Lovis Corinth

Of all the work in the St. Louis Art Museum, this stands out above the rest. A painting that must be experienced first hand, as no photograph can reproduce the quality of the brushstrokes and the thickness of the paint. The entire image has a movement that is rarely matched. The unfortunate part of it is that this is not always on display, and I was denied a viewing on my last visit.