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Paintings by Craig Pursley

The Circle of Inspiration: Two-Man-Show

My paintings inspired by the incredible film scores of

Mark McKenzie

at The Tirage Art Gallery

One California West

Pasadena, California

The show runs from February 7th to March 7th

Meet Mark and me at the opening night reception from 5 to 7 p.m.

Also, I will be painting a portrait sketch of Mark

earlier that day from 2 to 5 p.m.

Hope to see you there!

"Daybreak in Warms and Cools"

I'm not sure I have ever been more inspired than the last eight months of 2014! In April I first heard a film score by Mark McKenzie and loved it; so melodic, embued with emotion without being saccarine and for me, SO visual! After hearing several of them, I was so impressed that I wrote him what amounted to a fan letter,  And I was surprised when he wrote back. After several exchanged emails, I asked if he would be interested in a joint show- his music that inspired my paintings and he agreed. The result was 38 paintings in total. All of these can be seen by hitting the "What's New" button above. 

I am so honored to share this stage with him at the Tirage Art Gallery!


I have been listening to soundtracks while I paint for more than 25

 years, so I thought I knew all the great ones from Korngold to Zimmer

 so I was surprised when I first heard the score to "The Ultimate

 Gift". So melodic and interesting. I bought a couple more and soon owned 17 of Mark's scores.

 Quickly I felt like he was the Tchaikovsky of film score composers.

 While this may sound over the top, those who know me understand that I

 do NOT speak in hyperbole. Like Tchaikovsky, he is great at simple and

 beautiful melody like Romeo and Juliet (or Saving Sarah Cain for Mark)

 and great with power like the 1812 Overture (or The Greatest Miracle).

 He is capable of expressing the widest range of deep emotions of any

 composer alive now or ever! The fact that his films are lesser known

 than some for whom other film score composers have written does not diminish his personal excellence.

 Speaking as one who has a library of soundtracks building for decades,

 he should, in my opinion, have a row of Oscars on his mantel already.

 Hopefully, he will get his due and they will start lining up soon!

"Dark Horizon, Distant Thunder" (Power Source)

One of the many things I love about Mark's music is that it can convey

 joy, sadness, hurt, loss, celebration, as well as immeasurable power.

 One which states the latter so well is "Angels, Demons and Prayer"

 from "The Greatest Miracle". On first hearing it, and ever since, I

 could "see" a great storm building, dark clouds amassing in the low

 French horns alternating with the wind picking up in the violins. Near

 the end, four distinct lightning strikes can be hears as the rain

 pelts down with the whole orchestra. I found an old photo I had taken

years ago of a threatening cloud and added the lightning to it.

"Entering the Cathdral"

 "Entering the Cathedral" from "The Greatest Miracle" just sounds so

 expansive and grand to me. It reminded me of a dawn I watched by

 myself in Winter Park, Colorado years ago. I felt like I had the whole

world to myself and God was showing me this magnificent landscape for

my pleasure alone. And so I named the painting "Entering the Cathedral" as well.

"The Circle of Inspiration"

One of my absolute favorites of Mark's themes is that from "Saving

 Sarah Cain" as heard in "Those Were Our Tears".  I felt it

 expressed a sense of loss and in this case, I decided to do it a bit

differently. I have a friend who still has her grandfather's violin

 which he played ages ago in a major city's orchestra. But then while

 playing with a grandchild, he slightly injured his thumb but the

 injury was such that he could never play the violin again.

Something he had done and loved for so long was now gone.

 I set up this still life with him in mind and put his violin on a

 piece of sheet music with "Those Were Our Tears" at the top.

Mark was nice enough to make some short suites of his music that I could pair with images of my work for this show. To get a little of the flavor of this project you might enjoy clicking on these links










I feel like many of the paintings for this show are among the very best I have ever done and so I am very happy to show them and grateful to the Tirage Art Gallery for hosting this event. And I am extremely proud to have it associated with the composer I consider to be the best ever at his trade. Thank you, Mark McKenzie!!





The Good Life

I am so fortunate to be able to do what I love in one of the most beautiful places on earth. Who would have thought that even in the midst of a long, nasty winter there would be so much opportunity for inspiration?


Recently while snowshoeing with my wife Julie and some friends, we came upon a spot with almost a mystical beauty. Unfortunately, the ideal angle from which to shoot a reference photo was out standing on the ledge of a very short waterfall. But nothing else would do, so I scooted out and crouched down so the offending tree trunk would not be covering what might be the center of interest.

Finding just the right spot can be challenging sometimes but often it is worth it!

Though I teetered on the edge a bit, I was able to get what I needed and head back to the shore where I fell through the ice and went into the river (only up to mid-calf). But walking back the rest of the way with ice water in both boots was a bit chilly. Still getting this shot and the excitement over getting to paint it was well worth it. Thanks to Nancy Lusby for taking the first photo above.

Here's a link to the Mission Gallery


Continuing Education

"The Wounded Heart"

The more you learn, the more you realize you have to learn. Certainly true in the case of portraits and I feel I have been learning about the subtleties of painting flesh. Such was the case with this one where blues, greens and violets play heavily in the mix while trying to set a melancholy mood. The photo from which I worked in this case came from someone whom I taught in middle school art about 35 years ago. She posted a photo of her daughter wearing a Christmas ornament as an earring. Her careful pose looked so subdued to me; as if she had just gotten in trouble.

It's Always Good Hearing from Customers

Gina and Rodney with "Ben and Jazz"

Often I will hear from a client after they get their painting home and sometimes they'll even send a photo of how it looks on their wall. I love seeing where my work ends up and even more, I love that these people took the time to send these. I really means a lot. Very recently I got a couple great notes from Gina who commissioned a portrait of two of her horses. It sure feels good making people happy doing what I love to do.




We are overwhelmed with what you have done.  With each phase we have watched as our boys have come to life.  All along my hope for this portrait has been to capture Ben and Jazz and not just be any two horses.


To be able to look into their eyes and see them looking back at me has filled my eyes with tears. 


This portrait shows their souls and having them together again means everything.

Rodney and I can’t put words to how much this portrait means. 


You have been very patient with us (me) through this process and are clearly a very gifted artist.  Jazz would have been 33 on February 14th and thanks to you we will be able to see a painting that truly captures his beauty and soul. 



As with every commission, I sent regular updates explaining what I was doing and why with accompanying photos of the process. I feel it helps the client to be involved and promotes a better understanding of the piece and hopefully, a greater appreciation of it.


 Thank you, Gina for that terrific note and for the opportunity to work with you. I really enjoyed it.

Continuing More Portrait and Figural Work

The End of a Quiet Winter

There is so much to learn with any form of painting but lately I have really enjoyed working on the subtleties of skin tones. There are so many colors within from greens to violets and blues. I don't think there is anything I've found more satfying than getting that right (or at least close). I hope to expand and grow in that regard druing the upcoming year.

A Portrait for the NH Statehouse

Three years ago I painted a portrait of Executive Councilor, Raymon Burton. Ray served his constituents for nearly 40 years and did so as the greatest example of a public servant I have ever known. Unfortunately, Ray passed away recently after battling cancer. Last week I found that he had willed this portrait to the state and after a legislative vote, it was confirmed that it would be displayed permanently in the Governor's Council Chambers in the State House right behind the chair he occupied for so long. I am very honored to have this displayed there and sincerely wish it could have been many more years before this would have happened. In a memorial service in mid-December at Plymouth State University it will be my pleasure to present this portrait Governor Maggie Hassan. It will be the second portrait I will have hanging in the Capitol Building, joining one of former Gov. Henry W. Keyes on the second floor.

In June 2010, I presented Ray's portrait to him at his annual gathering at his home in Bath, NH.

Portrait Demo at the Athenaeum

Between those who attended and the artists whose work surrounded me, I was in very good company.

On September 12th I was very honored to execute a portrait sketch in oil at the Saint Johnsbury Athenaeum. For a little over two hours I painted and talked to a nice crowd who came out to brave the rainstorm. All the while, behind my canvas loomed a giant painting by Albert Bierstadt (10x15 feet!!) and at the same time on my left, a small Bouguereau painting. I really enjoyed the evening and am thankful to those who attended as well as the Athenaeum staff for organizing it and hosting my one-man show which was on the second floor.

Here's how the final turned out.

A New Gallery in New Hampshire

I was recently been given representation in Art3 Gallery in Manchester, NH. They have been in business for 28 years and I am very happy to join them there. If you're in Manchester, I hope you'll look them up. They have a wide variety of styles and artists whom they represent there and are good people too!

In Other News

If you are interested in having a portrait done or commissioning a landscape, please don't hesitate to call or email me. It may surprise you how affordable it is. And with all commissions I send email updates with photos describing the entire process and usually include a CD with a time lapse movie of your painting. Past clients have been very happy with these and they will greatly increase your understanding and appreciation of the process. And they are free!


Here's what one client had to say about it.

"......and every time you correspond I learn something new.....Julie and I have talked quite a bit about the processes you used in painting our "Carney Barn" and we have come to the conclusion that there is so much more to painting that we had ever imagined......thanks for sharing what amounts to only a very small part of your knowledge... even though it is not much to you it is enormous to us....very very interesting and always send me anything about the process you want because I know it will be interesting and informative..." - Mike Carney

The Good Life in Bath, New Hampshire

For anyone who has not visited our little village of Bath, New Hampshire, I sure recommend it. It is quintessentially New England and yet very unique at the same time. Though it is so small it has a lot to offer someone looking to relax a while in a place that is a slice out of another time. In just the space of 100 yards you will find America's oldest general store, chock full of goodies (wonderful smoked meats and cheeses and the best home-made fudge you've ever tasted), a nearly 400-foot-long covered bridge built in 1832 and waterfall right beneath it, a church (1873) that was the location of the nation's first Sunday School, an ice cream shop (1844) that is also a virtual rock and roll museum, and our art gallery (1833) with more than 125 paintings displaying the beauty of our area. The painting above shows Bath from just upstream. I hope to see you here someday. If you like rural America, you will love it here. My wife and I found it on a fall foliage bus tour in 1993 and she said that day "I want to live here!" We are so fortunate to have made a home here since 2002. If you are able to visit, please keep in mind the gallery (and the ice cream shop) are only open from May to October each year.

And I feel so blessed to be able to sit in the gallery and paint for a living. I work in a very comfortable old buggy without wheels into which I built an easel. I recall my dad having to get up at 5:30 a.m. and go to a job he hated in order to provide for his family and it just doesn't seem fair. Then to put the icing on the cake, I have the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people who come through the shop and chat about art or Bath or New England or life in general.

Painting Update List

I have a list of people to whom I send out regular updates on new paintings. These are generally a couple of times a month and include descriptions and/or inspiration for doing it. These are not to pressure anyone into a sale but at the same time they are offered here before going to any other galleries so anyone interested may have first crack at them. If you would like to be included on this list, please let me know at craigpursley@roadrunner.com and I will add you right away. Your email address will not be given or sold to anyone else.

Thanks for visiting!

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© Craig Pursley, Artist