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At Work

Sketching on the North Shore of Lake Superior, using a portable watercolor kit.

In the studio are hundreds of sketches, the short-hand notes on light-effects, clouds, trees, compositional thoughts, etc; all done on location. Most of these works on paper measure no larger than 7x10”, some as small as 2x3”. Sketches and sketch-books line the shelf, watercolors, pencil drawings - a veritable archive. I use these precious sketches and notes as reference when composing and developing studio-works.

In the studio, over time, the elements of a composition are fine tuned. I work in numerous media, and each medium promotes a unique view into the composition, a stage of it’s development, and so by the time a piece reaches it’s full expression it may have travelled through several stages of mediums and sizes. When working in the studio I am not so interested in the factual or the “honest,” but more so the best way to view the scenery, with my own artificial and whimsical injections. In this sense, photographs are of only so much help in achieving the final goal, and rarely does Nature alone satisfy my whims. A loose sketch will incite my imagination, and that’s the aim.

My sketches are an act of creation free from pecuniary thought. Nonetheless, and reluctantly, these sketches are sometimes released for purchase. But studio-made oil paintings, watercolors, and prints are happily sold at the marketplace. I am significantly more attached to a 2x3” pencil drawing made on one of my cherished walks along the river bank than I am to an exceptional 3x4 foot oil painting that took me 4 years to create.

2021 - Finishing touches on a large studio-canvas, which was created from a small pencil sketch, which is not pictured. The frame was handcrafted in my studio.

2021 - Finishing touches on a large studio-canvas, which was created from a small pencil sketch, which is not pictured. The frame was handcrafted in my studio.


Etching (from the Dutch “etzen,” meaning “to eat”) is my primary form of print-making. Lines are scratched into a protective rosin that coats a copper plate. A Ferric Chloride salt bath cleanly “eats” these lines into the exposed copper, after which the rosin is removed before printing. The finished plate is coated in ink and wiped clean, the ink-filled lines are transferred to paper using a high-pressure press. Drafting skills are laid bare with only line to express composition; this denudation fuels my devotion to the craft. Prints are pulled on a Rembrandt Graphic Art Etching Press, which carries a 24x36” bed.

Etchings are also created from the archive of sketches. When time and budget permit, I create serigraphs, or commonly known as silkscreens, which are featured here the website.

I love drawing and painting portraits from life. I accept commissions, ranging from a one-hour sitting direct from life, loose and lively, to extensively finished works in color, done from numerous sketches or a photograph. When traveling I’ll work in pencil, ink and watercolor and try to get the local faces to sit still for me. In the comforts of the studio I might gravitate to oil.

Portraits from life,
a sketch,
or a photograph.

Watercolor Sketching in Delhi, India

Final oil painting on the left, a preparatory oil painting on the right, both done from a 7x10” watercolor (not pictured).

The frame shop, where I build the frames for most of my pieces.

Published November 22, 2013 on MN Original, tpt's weekly arts series celebrating Minnesota's creative community.

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