Castle with Lake Painting

Here is some recent mostly finished work for a new book I am working on:


castle painting butterflies pic

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Visual Arts Fundamental Skills List

Visual Art fundamentalsThese are the fundamental skills and foundations of realistic visual art.

Any realistic art can be analyzed through these foundational skills and the process of  learning art is an endless rotation of deepening understanding and skill in all of these  categories.

This list is also a good way to analyze one’s art and specify which areas need strengthening.

For me at least. I have this on my wall.

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BMG Israel Raffle 2013 Art

bmg 2I was privileged to create the art this year for the annual Beth Medrash Govoha fly to Israel raffle campaign.

Beth Medrash Govoha is the largest Rabbinical Seminary in the world outside of Israel, with over 6,500 students. I am a graduate of BMG.

The cartoon “family” that appears in the ad was originally created by the renowned Israeli artist Gadi Pollack.

Some of the art in this illustration is based on my memories of studying at the Mir Yeshiva in Israel.

In particular I remember a cleaners called “Whitesheep” next to the Mir Yeshiva. In this illustration I changed it to “Whitefish” which is the word sheep backward in Hebrew. There are some other references as well if you look closely.

I choose the theme of a Meah Shearim Hachnasas Sefer Torah because it encapsulates for me the experience of Israel.

The sky turns  shades of pink and gold and the torches glow light up the smiling faces of the children. The music rises and falls, winding through the narrow streets ahead  of the swaying dancers – there is a deep sense of peace and joyous closeness with G-d.

* Trivia Question: What time of the year does this must this picture depict?


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Painting Value Study – A Fantasy Jet Plane

value studydetailI did these imaginary jet planes as value studies.

There are 3 questions I  try to ask and answer when painting a value (shade of light or dark)

1) Where is this plane/surface I am now painting in relation to the light source/s and reflected light?

Is it directly facing the light source? Directly facing away from the light source? Or somewhere in between.

2) What generally happens to the shade/value of a surface in that position relative to the light source/s? How does light generally act on a surface in that position relative to the source? Is it in shadow, half-light, no light..

To help  answer this question there are  general rules to how light acts on a surface as it turns away from the light source including:

Highlight, Center Light, Midtone, Terminator, Core of Shadow, Reflected light (in shadow) Occlusion shadow, and Cast shadow – see this great tutorial

3) How much?- Or now that we have clarified where this surface is relative to the light source and we know the general rule for a surface in this position – now we can ask – how much?

To what extent does it get darker or lighter relative to the planes or surfaces in the rest of this painting?

I have found this last question to be the  most difficult part for me to answer.

For example in the above  Jet Plane picture let’s analyze the back vertical fin facing us:

Where: The back vertical fin of the jet plane is facing away from the light source – which is above and behind the plane.

What happens to a surface in that position?  It is in the form shadow with a little cast shadow on top from the fin overhang – it will be darker than surfaces facing direct light.

On the other hand it is vertical, exposed to reflected light from the upper part of the jets body and surrounding clouds and mist/atmosphere maybe even earth, ocean, or mountains below- so it will be lighter than the dark cast shadows that have little reflected light and certainly much lighter than the occlusion shadows (cracks or squishy spots) that have no light penetrating.

How Much? – The fin must be darker than the direct light surfaces, and lighter than the cast shadows, but how much in the middle is it? Where on a scale of values from the darkest value in the picture to the lightest value would it go?

I have a hard time answering that question.

One helpful general rule I have heard is that “nothing in shadow (out of the direct light) is ever as light as even the darkest part of  anything in direct light” or “The whole shadow family is darker than the light family” – even when reflected light is taken into account.

So now we know that every part of the fin must be darker than any part of the plane facing direct light- no matter what value scale we use.  If you squint at the picture you can see that.

Other than that helpful hint I just wing it – pun intended

The only other thing I can think of is whatever value you pick for that angled surface – somewhere between direct light and cast shadow-  be consistent in the rest of the picture for planes/surfaces in similar positions.


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