Only in Scottsdale

The other day in open studio I heard talk of a painting demonstration at the new Scottsdale Museum of the West. I was taken back when I found out who the artist was. This was a stroke of luck, one of my favorite painters, Scott Burdick was to be the featured artist, in town because his wife, Sue Lyon was giving a workshop at the school.

Scott Burdick
Scott Burdick

We arrived early enough to grab a seat in the second row of the auditorium. Scott was there in his usual ball cap and jeans, so unassuming for the master painter that he is. After introductions he began his painting of a dramatic black model.

Scott and his Model at the Western Heritage Museum Demonstration
Scott and his Model at the Western Heritage Museum Demonstration

He began drawing with burnt sienna on a white canvas, stressing how important it was, even at this stage, to be accurate with placement. Next he blocked in all the darks with one tone of burnt sienna. Instead of mixing a violet on his palette, for the head scarf, he layed in a red tone than a blue on top of this, mixing them together on the canvas which created a lively effect.

Scott Burdick demonstration

His next goal was to cover all the white canvas as he painted carefully  around the edge of her face with the background blue.

Building up to a thicker and thicker paint layer, it was amazing to watch him massage the heavy paint in order to get interesting edges as all the elements registered more and more dimensional.

Scott Burdick Demo
Scott Burdick Demo

In the above image the painting was 80% completed, I wish I had a photo of the finish painting, but the crowd rushed down and enveloped Scott and his painting. Many patrons wanted to get their names in the hat to purchase it for $1,200., a great discount for one of his paintings.


Scott Burdick painting

He also sold two others he had brought, again, more buyers than paintings, so they drew names.

It was a great afternoon of watching a master work and listening to his entertaining stories.

Final Day of David Shevlino Workshop

Summing up the last 5 days of a wonderful experience attending the David Shevlino Figure Painting Workshop at the Scottsdale Artist’s School, I’ll say fabulous!!!!!

The three main things I have taken away from this experience-

Using the mixing surface on my palette in a much more integrated way. Creating new tones out of one central mix, making them all off shoots, provides wonderful nuances and harmony among colors.

Paint handling; laying wet paint layers on top of each other with just the right speed and touch creates luminous effects.

And the most important, how to see an entire subject as 5 to 7 angled lines. Perceiving like this helps to build strong compositions and render subjects correctly.

And of course all the nice people I met, the memory of a great Italian dinner with them at Gramali’s on Main Street, and all the stories we shared about painting techniques. There’s something about spending 30 hours painting the same subjects with a group of other artists that reassures you, that you are not alone in your struggles…. now on to open studio time to practice what I’ve learned!



First Workshop While in Scottsdale

Monday was a day I had been looking forward to for months, my one week painting workshop with artist David Shevlino.

David’s work intrigued me because of the fluid way he uses paint. His active subjects have life and motion, with simplified backgrounds.

This class has twenty students from all over the country, a very friendly and diverse group. On the first day David did a demo to show us his unique approach to painting.

David Shevlino workshop demo

This was the first stage of his demo. He started on a dark grey toned canvas, which was a reverse of what I usually do.

I have always used a white canvas, sometimes with a light grey wash, but never this dark. The problem this presents is judging the light values against a light canvas is hard. I usually go too light with my flesh tones, which makes it hard to model the form before I’ve run out of light values. But starting on a dark grey surface made a medium value flesh tone appear very bright so I still had four solid lighter tones to work with which was awesome.

Second Stare of David Shelving's workshop demo
Second Stare of David Shevlino’s workshop demo

In this second stage of the demo he added warm tones in the shadows which really started to bring the painting to life. He does all this with a 2″- 3″ brush.

David Shevlino's demo
David Shevlino’s demo

At this stage David put in some of the lighter tones as well as some half tones in the light areas. Between answering our questions (of which there were many), and model breaks he didn’t get to finish before we begin our afternoon painting session, with our choice of two models for the rest of the afternoon.

Using the dark grey canvas, the large brushes and lots of oil medium, I was out of my usual comfort zone for the afternoon, but loved it! Tomorrow one model, one pose all day, see what happens …

Going Backwards to Move Forwards

One of my goals while being in Scottsdale is to get back to basics. So many times I find myself moving ahead to quickly.

The most fundamental part of painting is the drawing. Eighty percent of the issues that occur while painting are drawing problems. It’s like building a house and not spending the necessary time to get the framing correct. Putting on the textures and colors are the fun part, put will never be successful if the first foundations are not laid down correctly. The Scottsdale Artists School has many daily opportunities to draw from live model, which I plan to take full advantage of.

Wednesday night we had a wonderful model, here are some of my quick sketches.

These were using a sepia conte crayon on newsprint-IMG_1328

-using a charcoal pencil  on newsprint-

IMG_1326using a white Nupastel and charcoal pencil on grey Canson paper. Can’t wait until the next session!

We’re headed off to the Best and Brightest Opening tonight, featuring the top paintings by SAS students!

Getting “Normal”

It’s been one week since we arrived in Scottsdale and our days are starting to get somewhat “normal”.

John found his bench for carving picture frames was too high when placed on the apartment floor carpeting, so he went out on the patio and sawed the legs down-

IMG_1320Can you get kicked out of an apartment complex for that?

Have organized my studio area in a way that I feel comfortable with. The lighting needs some tweaking but it will do for now.


In the evening, my first night at the Scottsdale Artists School open studio. The first thing I learned…leaving at 6pm for the 6:30 session was going to get me a place in the third row toward the back of the room, note to self….leave much earlier next time.

I found a group of all ages and skill levels. During the breaks everyone walked around the room to see what was being done by other artists, a very stimulating atmosphere.

We had a good model but it took me some time to get adjusted. By the end of the first hour I was getting in the flow. By the end of the second hour I was tired and very tempted to call it a night, but I reminded myself, these longer poses were a great thing to take advantage of. The last hour was really worth staying for as I was able to pull the portrait sketch together and iron out some of the problem areas. A good session, looking forward to many more, Wednesday is figure gestures!

Tuesday night Portrait Open Session

Recovered and Repurposed We’re Finally Here!


Six o’clock, Tuesday morning, loaded up and ready to go. John thought the trailer would be too big, but we used every inch of it!

The drive, which would normally take 5 hours, took 7 because of the added weight and of course several stops for the dog to stretch her legs.

Packing for this trip we took three things into consideration;

  1. It’s only for 6 months, so don’t get carried away
  2. John and I had to unload all this stuff ourselves, so keep it light
  3. Our apartment is on the second floor with a narrow staircase to navigate.

Here are a few of the furniture modifications we made;


Our game table repainted and recovered is working  as our dining table.

IMG_1311bench1This bench started out life as a swing set which John built 20 years ago. When the kids were gone he repurposed the wood to make a southwest bench for the backyard, it sat outside this way for twelve years, I’ve used it in many photo shoots.

I thought it would make a good “sofa”, so I sanded the old paint off, put a sealer on it and recovered the cushions.

Making use of everything, including the boxes which carried items, John and I made a “coffee table” from four wine crates and a piece of plexiglas that use to be on one of my watercolor paintings.

IMG_1312Our light weight rattan patio chairs with a new coat of paint and cushions covered to match the “sofa” worked out well.



Screen Shot 2016-01-01 at 1.41.11 PMHere’s my Ikea hack. I bought this screen a few years ago and never liked it. This is what it originally looked like. Black wrought iron with white sheared fabric.







This is what it looked like after I painted it a sage green and wrapped it with 3000′ of jute twine.

It’s been fun getting here, now to start some art classes!








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