I was very honored to be asked to do a portrait demo alongside John Traynor at Tilting at Windmills Gallery in Manchester Center, Vermont. John is my favorite living New England painter and it was a real pleasure getting to meet and paint with him. Also, I consider Tilting at Windmills to be the best gallery in Vermont. I couldn't believe how much he got done in four hours!
The model that I had scheduled to pose wasn't able to make it so I worked from an old photo I took years ago. I generally paint from photos so this was no problem.
I love it when the subjects of paintings come in to see themselves on canvas. I just met Amelia less than two months ago and have already painted her eight times. That red hair is so much fun to paint and when backlit, looks like fire!
Terrific artist and friend, TJ Cunningham stopped in the gallery for a while. I picked up a couple good tips from him and sure enjoyed the visit. If you are unaware of his work you should check it out.
Recently, I have been painting barns again and looking at them in a slightly different way. To read more, check out the "What's New" section of the website.
I don't often post photos of the process here so I thought I'd ive you a glimpse of what I do. It starts with a simple drawing done with a brush and is critical to get proportions right before moving on to the second step. Then I work in the darker medium tones, filling in gradually and ending with the lightest and darkest parts along with details in the eyes and mouth. I try to use as big a brush as I can (about three-fourths of an inch wide) for as long as I can, only switching to a small brush at the very end.
Please click on the "What's New" button above to see the best of July's work.
Every two years the Alumni Hall in Haverhill, NH hosts a show of portraits I've done recently. In June, this show opened to a good crowd (maybe the best ever) with several of the models/subjects on hand. I discussed many of the paintings in terms of the inspiration, meaning, technique and/or the models. Thank you to director, Keisha and my wife, Julie, for helping put it all together.
Earlier this year I was forunate enough to win the Fine Art Connoisseur Award at a competition at the Scottsdale Artists School. The prize for this was a full page ad in their magazine. I consider this magazine to be one of the absolute best in the business and was very happy about this. The ad is in the current issue.
As mentioned last month, I am still pushing the edges of my comfort zone. It is a work in progress, learning as I go what works and what doesn't. THis example is my favorite of the lot so far. See more in the "What's New" area of the website.
While at the Celebration of Fine Art in Arizona earlier this year, I slowly walked around the venue looking closely at the work of the 100 other artists there. When I returned to my booth, I realized how traditional my work was and frankly, it looked a little boring to me. That was part of the reason I knew it was time to expand a bit and try for a fresher, more colorful look. Since then, I have been working on a series of figurative pieces with a looser, more abstract backgrounds while using a lot more paint. I am excited about these and more that will follow and feel they have pushed me to a greater understanding of what makes a good painting. Specifically, in terms of color theory. Before I painted whatever was in the background of the photo from which I worked. But with these, I have to consider what will best work with the existing colors of the subject. Other things have changed too. I an experimenting with different surfaces on which to paint and applying the paint with anything from rags to ceramics tools to palette knives which I have almost never used before. I realize that some people who have followed my work may not like this new direction and honestly, I don't think I would have liked the difference even 10 years ago. Hopefully, this is another step in my maturation as an artist.
To see more of this new style, please check out the "What's New" area of the website.
I was shocked to hear of the passing of my great friend, Bill. He started out as a collector who really intimidated me at first. He was very opinionated and outspoken and so tough. Before long, I found that, other than they outspoken part, we were very much alike. We were the same age and had the same thoughts on politics, religion, ethics and especially art. He had THE best collection I have ever seen and was an admitted art addict. Over time, I began to see that the tough exterior was an act as he was just jelly on the inside. Eventually he told me he had to adopt this fascade or people would take advantage of his good nature. An example of that good nature- on seeing his collection, which must have been close to 1,000 pieces, I told him the one that stuck most in my head was a small, beautiful sculpture. I tried to get one from the artist but found they were just way out of my range to afford. When Bill found this out, he mailed me his with a note that only read, "Happy Birthday" (which was months away). I have really struggled with his passing and am sure I will for a long time.
When we opened the American Heritage Gallery of Art, we knew that most business fail in the first three years. So it was not without some nervousness that we started this business. It seemed like a perfect opportunity as it would only be open six months, rent was low and the spot was so terrific. Located next to the oldest general store in America and just around the corner from one of the oldest and longest covered bridges in the nation, it was a draw for tourists, especially in the fall. And fall foliage tour buses stopped by the hundreds! In fact, we were on one of them in 1993 when we discovered the town. That day, I looked at that little 1833 building and thought, "What a great spot for a gallery." And since it was so old, it had no heat or insulation which meant it would be closed for the winter when no tourist were coming. Also, the first couple years, we shared the space with an antique book seller, which meant I could also have time off for my other 30 hour a week job with the newspaper. Everything fell into place and business has gotten better virtually every year. I am very thankful for the amazing opportunity God dropped in our lap to live and work here! I'm also thankful to Julie for all she does to make this possible! The photo above was taken on our first day open.
This was the fifth conference I have attended and second only to the first (that one will never be beaten) in my opinion. It is always great to renew old acquaintences with other artists and make new friends while seeing some of the best portrait artists in the world demonstrate their gifts. See the "What's New" area of the website for more information and pictures on the conference.
As I was about to watch two of them do a two-hour demo, a staff member asked if I would model as the regular model was a no show. I had never done this before but was honored to gice it a try as these were two of my favorite living artists in the world! Suchitra Bhosle, above, had been a Facebook friend but I had never met her. She was one of the nicest people I had ever met, with or without a big name. As proof of this, she GAVE me her painting when finished!
Because there were a few hundred people watching this demo, cameras were set up and the canvases displayed on huge screens in the ballroom where this was being done. The point of this specific demo was getting the quick impression down of a face. They both would have preferred another hour to get it to a point where they were more happy with it. The painting on the right was done by Casey Childs, another of my favorite artists. We had met before and got to renew that acquaintence. He is a terrific guy as well as an amazing painter. To see more on him and some other photos from the conference, please visit the "What's New" area of the websire.
The Gibson House Bed and Breakfast will be hosting a plein air workshop for me June 25-27 where the participants will be painting the covered bridges in our area. We'll not only be painting them but also getting a little history on each we visit from a local historian (me). And one person will take home a small piece of that history. Please contact www.gibsonhousebb.com for more information. Hope to see some of you there!
We ended this year's event on a high note with 5 paintings sold in the last two days! New friends made and new clients too. I love the chance to rub shoulders with so many other artists (100 for the 3 months). And I learn from them also.
I love it when collectors become friends! And that is the case with this couple who bought three of my paintings recently, including "Strike One" behind them here. Carrie-Anne and Mike are terrific people who we got a chance to spend some time with away from the show. Also, she has taken up painting after a two-decade hiatus and is doing amazingly well. So well that I made a trade for her 4th oil painting and am proud to have it.
And this made my day. A year ago, Sienna (left) came in with her dad and talked with me about her love of art. So I gave her a little painting. This year they came back with her sister, Gianna, and brought a painting that she, Sienna, did for me. This really touched my heart that it meant so much to her and that she would take the time.
Great artist and my neighbor, Keith Bond asked to trade his work for mine and I was thrilled to do it. I got an incredible painting that will be proudly displayed in our home!
Last year at the Celebration of Fine Art, I met incredible 16-year-old artist, Livia. Since then we have become friends with her and her mom also and I have been mentoring this amazing young lady. She came in and painted with me at the show and in a few hours knocked out this wonderful painting of Ringo Starr. If you are interested in an orginal painting of a rock star, whe is taking commissions. She has a great future and I advise you to take advantage of her low prices while they exist!
At this year's Best & Brightest Show at the Scottsdale Artists School, my painting, "The Blue Kimono" was given the Fine Art Connoiseur Magazine's Award of Merit. The prize is a full page ad in their magazine which I consider to be one of the top two in the world. As a result, this is more valuable to me than had it won Best of Show!
We are still at the Celebration of Fine Art in Scottsdale where I and 100 other artists are working every day at our craft and talking to patrons. Every once in a while I am surprised by a person walking into my booth out of my past. For example, Terry Delp came in to say hi after a 48 year absence! We went to school together and were on the same basketball team. Several others have come in as well from my boyhood days in Lexington, Nebraska.
Working every day for three months means a lot of painting can be accomplished. Landscapes, portraits and western themes have all been on the easel lately. And I am very excited about a Native American series after finding a great model. Three of the artists spent a morning photographing a Sioux man in authentic outfits of all kinds which have already led to four paintings for me, including "Sky Chief" below. Please see the "What's New" category of my website for more.
When I joined the Portrait Society of America in 2010, I gavc myself 10 years to make it to the winners circle of their annual competition. Each year I enter with high hopes and each year get a letter of rejection. But I try, tray again and this year am hoping for better results with three entries including this one just done this month and finished the day of the deadline.
As much as I love New Hampshire, it is very nice to have a break from the cold and shoveling. I am at the Celebration of Fine Art in Scottsdale; a terrific event showcasing 100 artists and their work. We are all here for three months painting, drawing, sculpting or doing whatever we do as the public comes through by the thousands. I am very fortunate to be a part of this and am back for my third year. I generally am able to get a lot done as I am working seven days a week for the whole time. So there is much to show from the first month of the show. That's my booth above.
A major project finished recently was a four foot square painting done on 64 individual panels and then assembled to create the work above. Some may recall a simialr piece being done of a draft horse last year. This one was done with the assistance of Livia Hamel, a 17-year-old, exceptionally talented girl who I met last year at the show. Since that first meeting, I have been mentoring her and we have become good friends with her family. She did half of the panels which creates some interesting variety from mine.
Livia is an old soul who LOVES rock music from the 60s - 80s and knows more trivia about TV westerns from my childhood than anyone I've ever met. Her favorite is "Rawhide" and that kind of became a nickname for her. So the title, "The Old Man and Rawhide" is about the two who did this painting rather than the rider and horse as I suspect people will assume.
In addition to the usual landscapes and portraits I often do, this year I'm working on a series of Native Americans. Three of the artists had a terrific photo shoot with a local model who came with all the authentic gear we could have hoped for. Above, is the first of several I'm planning.
Please see the "What's New" area of the website for more new work and details.
The month started out great with another terrific workshop at the Landgrove Inn of Landgrove, Vermont. We had twice as many attendees as usual and some wonderful painters who made my job easier and more fun. One of them has a weekly podcast called, "Artists Helping Artists" and she interviewed me a week later on her show. if you would like to hear that hour-long interview, just follow this link.
I strive to improve my painting so I am very happy when I can say "This is the best I've done." And in the case of "Deep in the Canyon", I feel this, out of hundreds, is the best California landscape I have ever done. Please see more details on this and other new work by clicking the "What's New" tab above.
Also last month- As a result of an effort to acquire the two paintings by Jeremy Lipking and Scott Burdick (see the note for October below) I offered many of my paintings to a broad group of Facebook friends and those who get the monthly updates through email. The result was the sale of more than 30 paintings, making it by far the best November ever!!
A big thank you goes out to all who helped make 2018 a very good year for the American Heritage Gallery of Art including our best October ever!. It is hard to ever figure what "normal" is as it always seems to change from one year to the other. This year, for example, was greatly aided by the number of commissions recieved. The gallery is now closed for the season and will reopen in May, 2019. Hope to see you there and then!
I have become aware recently that artists are now collecting the work of other artists that they admire. It has certainly become true with me over recent years. though my collection is small, it is wonderful as well as inspiring to be able to closely examine paintings that push me to become better. This month I was able to realize a dream that seemed unreasonable even a month earlier. And I have friend and gallery owner, Vanessa Rothe to thank for this. My favorite living artists for years have been Jeremy Lipking and Scott Burdick, both who have actually painted her! One of these she offered for sale recently and though it meant selling quite a few of my own paintings at greatly reduced rates (and in a hurry) I was able to do it! Her terms to me were incredibly reasonable; almost unbelievable! Thank you, Vanessa!
And my "quick sale" went so well that I was also able to get my favorite painting ever by Scott Burdick! I am thrilled to have these two beautiful works and can't wait to have them inour home to beautify and inspire!
I recently heard that my painting, "Letting Go" was selected to be among the paintings shown at the Oil Painters of America Eastern Regional Show in Maryland. I was very excited to hear this and consider myself very fortunate to be in the select group who will be shown there. Coincidentally, this painting is from the same photo session that resulted in larger painting which was also recently selected in another competition last month. See below.
I was VERY happy to hear recently that "The Secret Life of Swans" was chosen as a winner in a Painting Competition.org contest. What made this so sweet was the other winners which were often people whose work I really admire and all were tremendous paintings!
In addition to this, I continue to feel like my work is improving over the last couple months and that really feels good too. Much of the time artists feel like they are stuck, if not on a rut, a plateau and rising above it is difficult. When it happens is just feels especially sweet and the process of painting is a greater pleasure than ever.
I've always liked atmospheric paintings but have rarely painted rainy day ones. So when we had a good day of rain after a long dry stretch, I took advantage and went out with a camera to see what I could record. I have so far been able to do several from those pictures including the one above which I consider one of the two or three best that I have ever done. To see the others, please check out the "What's New" area of the website.
I just found out that my painting "Canyon Oaks" was given an Award of Merit in the Oil Painters of America 2018 Salon Show in Traverse City. Other winners included several people whose work I have admired for years and I am VERY honored to me among that group!
During the month of June I did a lot of small head studies and enjoyed lossening up. See more of these in the "What's New" page of the website.
I love painting clouds, especially the big cumulous ones we see here in the summer. Add some extra color from a setting sun and you've got a little magic.
I always appreciate worling on portrait commissions and meeting those involved. In this case, a man came in the gallery last year and discussed having his daughters painted as a gift to his wife. He even brought one of the dresses to help me get the colors right. Not only the dresses were significant to the piece, but also the location. Even more important was what I learned about the personalities of these young ladies as a good portrait shows something of who they are and not just what they look like. It was especially gratifying to have it so well received. Below are some very kind comments from the proud owner.
"Kristin LOVED the portrait of the girls. She CRIED and declared it the best gift EVER. "
"The commission of the portrait of my daughters Brooke K. and Kendall S. Ford was expertly executed by Artist Craig Pursley of Bath, New Hampshire. The painting was a surprise gift for my wife Kristin for our 10th wedding anniversary. I had never before commissioned art and I was in search of an artist that had the talent to bring my vision to canvas but also someone that was easy to work with who would share the progress of the project to better make certain my expectations were fulfilled.
I found Craig's website on a random search and the images of his completed works appealed to me. We commenced an initial online dialog and then I set an appointment to drive the three hours to his Studio in Bath. I was at once taken by the depth and quality of his paintings, particularly the portraiture which to a canvas featured not just the physical characteristics of the subjects but a very distinctive portrayal of the individual's expressions. You could readily "see" the emotions of the person within the painting. Craig let me take my time around his studio and I asked my full compliment of questions. I was pleased that he had as many questions for me as I did of him. We engaged in back in forth on everything from size of work to personal questions about my daughters, the clothing to be depicted to where I might display the completed painting. My two hour visit made it apparent that I had found the right artist and I was pleased to make arrangements.
Over the six weeks he worked I was provided e-mail photographs about every 3 or 4 days with photos of the canvass and detailed descriptions of the techniques he was employing. The first number of images looked nothing like I expected and at least once I wondered if things were going to work out but then other colors came into play and I began to understand the progression and I eagerly anticipated my next e-mail. Also, from start to finish, Craig would frequently ask my opinion on his work and offer to change or improve anything I wanted. Additionally, there was an open invitation to come back to his studio whenever I chose to inspect the painting. I did this just once and was pleased with everything I saw. Because of this open collaboration the end product was everything I wanted.
My daughters painting is now a family heirloom. The enthusiastic comments of those that know Brooke and Kendall can't believe how life-like the painting is and how accurately Craig captured their fun loving spirits. Needless to say this portrait is the centerpiece of the room it hangs in.
I was lucky to randomly find Craig Pursley and I wrote these few words to assist the reader in narrowing their search for the right artist.
Sincerely, Paul S. Ford, Portsmouth New Hampshire December 2017
For years, I have been comfortable painting rather small works, rarely going over 24x30. But in the near future, I will be expanding those numbers and self-imposed restrictions in hopes that there will be an appeal to a wider group of clientele. Here is the first of these at four feet square. Other than a couple murals, it is the largest I have ever done. I expect soon to do some even larger. A special thank you to Allie (shown here) for providing the inspiration for this piece which you can read about, as well as, see better in the "What's New" section.
In the space of a couple days I got two pieces of great news. One, "The Blue Kimono" was given an "Award of Excellence" at the National Oil and Acrylic Painters Society "Best of America" show in Indiana. It was a terrific honor just to get into the show and I am over the moon about this recognition. Earlier in the month I learned that the Celebration of Fine Art (Scottsdale) used this image to promote the 2018 show in a full page ad in Fine Art Connoiseur Magazine. I was deeply honored by this as well.
I paint autumn scenes of our area year round but I step it up in the fall as so many are coming from all over the world to our door and occasionally, they want to take something home with them to remind them of the trip. Here's a recent one that is one of my favorites I've ever done of our beautiful village. To see lots more, please click on the "What's New" button above.
In late August, Julie and I took a drive in Central Vermont on roads we'd never before traveled. It turned out to be the most beautiful drive we've ever taken. Maybe the best scene was this one that looked so appealing to me. However, it was not exactly like this. Click the "What's New" button above to see a bit on what I did to hopefully, make it a better painting than the photo showed.
I've had several artist friends tell me that they have had paintings sell before they were finished. While I haven't done that, this is the first case I've had where one sold before it was dry. Thank you and congratulations to Craig and Mary Ann in Idaho for snatching this one up quickly.
And this couple called ahead and told me to mark "Circus Girl" as sold until they could come pick it up. Before they left, they took two more! They are very excited to hang them in their new home in Florida and I was very excited to help them do that. With this sale it made the best August we've ever had in the gallery after 13 years! A big thank to the Katzs'. AND it started some floodgates to be opened where ten paintings sold in a span of three days!
About once or twice a year I will dedicate more time and effort into an old style painting done in a method that the Old Masters used. (More on this in the "What's New" area of the website where you'll also see her family's reaction to the painting). It is much more invloved and often tedious but I always like the results. I used this method for the painting above of Allie and consider it one of the best portraits I have ever done.
This particular painting has a soundtrack. This is explained in the 2+ minute video I made of the process accompanied by the beautiful music of my friend, film score composer, Mark McKenzie. I hope you'll watch and listen as it enhances one's appreciation of the work, I believe. Please click the link below to see it.
I just found out that "The Blue Kimono" was accepted into the "Best of America" show sponsered by The National Oil and Acrylic Painters Society. This show will be in Indiana in the fall. I am very honored to be among those chosen to hang on the walls.
Recently I got a commission to paint a local farm and the idea came up to show it from the air. So the client got me a ticket for a helicopter ride to shoot reference photos. What a great exerience and I loved every second of it!
This marks the 13th year we've had the American Heritage Gallery of Art in Bath, NH. At the start of each season I clear out some old work, put new ones up and clean extensively. Here's what it looks like today.
While in the gallery, I'm nearly always painting and doing so while sitting in a century-old buggy without wheels. I built an easel into it and with the original upholstery, it is very comfortable. Here's a photo of me at work taken by friend, Stephen Restelli that looks remarkably like a Norman Rockwell painting in itself!
As a former art teacher, I have long seen the value of instructing others. Besides the improvement and edification of the student, it also has great benefits for the one doing the instruction as well. In order to not be embarassed as a teacher one must know what one is talking about and that requires much learning and thought. It helps focus on what you're doing rather than just continuing in a rut without consideration. It helps one consistently improve I believe. I ahve always enjoyed the interaction with students, some of whom remain friends 40 years later. I have certainly benefitted from the other side of this as well and continue to do so.
Here's a case in point. This photo taken two years ago at the Portrait Society of America Annual Conference shows l to r, Everett Raymond Kinstler, Michael Shane Neal, myself and Nicole Vargas Santiago. This is a significant chain of mentors of which I am very proud to be a link. While I have mentored Nicole, I was and am mentored by Shane, who was and is mentored by Ray Kinstler. Among Kinstler's teachers was Gordon Stevenson who was taught by John Singer Sargent! Sargent is the #1 hero for most people who paint portraits realistically so you can imagine how proud I am to be linked. And everyone I teach in my workshops become more links in that chain.
A fewyears ago I painted a portrait of Executive Councilor, Raymond 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.
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.
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
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.
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 email@example.com and I will add you right away. Your email address will not be given or sold to anyone else.
Thanks for visiting!