How [NOT] to write an artist statement

According to my beautiful wife, I shouldn’t craft an artist statement that reads:

“I paint whatever-the-hell I feel like.”

I do not understand why :).

Writing is not one of my favorite past-times.  Which is why I often neglect this blog.

I finished the artistic statement for my solo exhibition at Wake Med Hospital (New Bern campus).  It drove me bonkers.  My wife said there was one sentence that didn’t suck.  ONE.

I know a lot of artists have problems writing statements.  Last night I looked at online examples to get inspired. Wow.

The good.  The bad.  And the ugly.

My first draft wasn’t good.  It was just ugly.  And bad.

Luckily my wife’s a great editor.  She helped me craft a short piece to use in my upcoming show.  Normally, I can put together a decent statement that, after a few edits, is passable.  Not this time.

Watercolor painting of Duomo- Florence, Italy

This is one of the framed pieces on display from March 7th-April 18th.

It does not read:

“I paint whatever-the-hell I feel like.”

Because there is more to the paintings..




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Solo show at Wake Med Hospital

Next month, I have my first solo exhibition at Wake Med Hospital in Raleigh (the New Bern location). I have been busy finishing paintings, framing, and cutting mat boards the past two weeks.

if you driving by Wake Med (hopefully not in an ambulance), or have a craving for hospital food- my watercolors will be in the long hallway leading to the cafeteria on the ground floor.

All the paintings will be for sale.

Can’t afford an original?  Luckily, I also offer affordable high-quality giclee proofs of the watercolors thru my etsy website:

Thanks to Jen at the United Arts Council for this exciting opportunity.

Now that the framing is finished, I have to paint (at least) ten new works in the next month for a slew of national show entries: including the Illinois Watercolor Society, Carolina’s Got Art, Texas Watercolor Society, Adirondacks National Exhibition of American Watercolors, and others.  Whew.


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Recent watercolor paintings

In October I had the pleasure of attending a workshop led by John Salminen, a well-known and nationally recognized watercolor painter.  During the workshop, I completed this painting:

Watercolor painting of the Arch of Santa Catarina in the UNESCO World Heritage town of Antigua- Guatemala


The Antigua painting was my first experience with painting on full sheets of watercolor paper (32×40 inch).  After a 13 year hiatus from painting, I made the mistake of painting on quarter-sheets of paper (but you have to start somewhere, right?)

While I produced more finished paintings, I learned the hard way that my small paintings were easily overlooked in art shows.  John accepted my painting of a North Carolina lighthouse into the 67th North Carolina Watercolor Society show.

Watercolor painting of Cape Lookout- North Carolina


Lately, I have been painting on half-sized sheets of Arches watercolor paper.  Full sheets are more difficult since my kitchen table isn’t very large and my five year old son, who insists on being an artist like his Dad, usually leaves bins of crayons and pencils on it- limiting my space.

I would describe my style as “abstract representationalism”.  I want the viewer to know what my subject matter is, but I hate painting super detailed works.

John’s teachings gave me a new insight into painting slow and methodically.  The opposite of what I generally do.

Watercolor painting of Monastery in Old Town Quito, Ecuador

Using some of the tips and techniques I learned in John’s workshop, I produced my next “methodical” painting- a half-sheet watercolor painting of the Monastery in Old Town Quito, Ecuador.  The painting was based off several photographs I shot years ago.  The background was invented on the right-hand side- the colors of the original images were changed dramatically- and I added several figures and pigeons to the foreground.

In the end, I was very happy with this painting (available for purchase or as a giclee proof at my etsy store).

Based on the success of my last piece, I have decided that my next two paintings (one full-sheet watercolor and another full-sheet rice paper wax batik of Raleigh) will be large.

Guess I’ll have to make my son clean his mess off the kitchen table!


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Pittsburgh Watercolor Society Show- 66th Aqueous International Exhibition

A few months ago I entered the Pittsburgh Watercolor’s Annual Watercolor Exhibition- the 66th Aqueous Exhibition.  To my delight, my watercolor painting was accepted in the show.

I was happy enough with being in the show.  Unfortunately, I could not attend the reception due to my brother’s wedding in Colorado.  Judging by the catalog, there were a lot of amazing paintings, and talented artists in the show.  Hopefully I will have the opportunity to meet these people in the upcoming years (fingers crossed :).

The awards were announced, but my work did not win.

Imagine my surprise when I receive a phone call from a reporter at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Kurt Shaw-who interviewed me and asked about the background of my painting.  Kurt wanted to include my painting in a newspaper article in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review.

I was just returning from a week-long painting workshop with John Salminen when I received Kurt’s call.

John’s workshop was attended by a group of fantastic painters who completely humbled me. The workshop was held at the Arts of the Albemarle in Elizabeth City, NC, the site of the Watercolor Society of North Carolina 2012 show.

Kurt’s phone call made my day.

I responded to Kurt’s questions and the article was published.

I could order a copy of the paper a few days later.  The article was published Sunday, and I called Tuesday morning at 9am to order.  The Tribune was sold out.  What?  Really?  Who buys old newspapers?  Except me?…

Luckily, I surfed the facebook page of the Pittsburgh Watercolor Society, and kindly asked anyone with a copy of the paper to send it to me.  I offered a king’s ransom for a copy which of course is a joke since no artist has a king’s ransom.

Thanks, kudos, and karma for Marie Lint for sending a copy of the article.

Below are scanned copies of the article:

(My painting is the red & blue dominate scene of the fishermen near the middle-right).

The pictures are distorted until you click the images- then they appear large enough for reading.

Guess this validates the late-night painting sessions.  Right?



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John Salminen watercolor workshop- finished painting

Last month I attended the John Salminen watercolor workshop at the Arts of the Albemarle in historic Elizabeth City, NC.  It was a great workshop led by the renowned watercolor painter.  I, and the other participants in the workshop, spent the entire week working on one painting.

Generally, I paint loose and fast.  Working in a slow and methodical manner is, well, not me.  That is why I chose to take John’s class.  Stepping out of my comfort zone would be a learning experience.

We first began with a detailed drawing on full size Arches 300 lb watercolor paper (not a paper nor size I typically use).  I had problems finishing the painting when I returned from the workshop because my kitchen table is barely big enough to hold the paper, much less my water bowl and palette.

The subject matter of the painting is the Arch of Santa Catarina in the UNESCO World Heritage town of Antigua, Guatemala.  My photo reference was a slide I shot years ago.

Once the initial drawing was completed, we used masking tape to cover protected areas.  Cutting around the tape protects the area from paint, though most of these areas would have paint applied eventually.  It just prevents mud from happening by covering areas with too many glazes.

My first washes on the paper were applied with assistance from John, expertly talking me through blending wet colors with the use of a hake brush.

My watercolor palette at the end of the third day of painting:

I am cheap.  I use the lid and palette bottom for mixing colors.  I just have to make sure the top is dry before putting it on.

Unfortunately, I did not take more progression shots of my painting.  Wish I had, but I was busy concentrating and talking (face it, I can’t be quiet for more than 10 minutes, it’s how I relieve stress). 🙂

The finished watercolor:

I darkened the sky and mountain, finished the right-hand side, and slightly modified the shadow being cast by the foreground light.

Materials used:

water (duh)

Arches 300 lb paper

mouth atomizer

Winsor Newton watercolor paints

Mr. Clean Magic Eraser

Snap knifes

Crappy masking tape that left a residue on the paper that made it really, really hard to apply paint once removed (don’t buy the cheap stuff)

Hake brush

Regular brushes

What a fun week.  Check out Eng Pua’s blog about the workshop.  Eng was gracious enough  to photograph the final critique of the participants’ paintings.


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