Paint Schoodic

We had another successful painting workshop at the Schoodic Institute in beautiful Acadia National Park. Join us in 2018!

Saturday, December 31, 2011

A more formal figure painting


This commissioned work is a formal portrait of a mature woman who desired a nude painting reflecting her Central American heritage. The client wanted an impression of the beauty of a woman not matching the cliché of the commercialized American ideal of willowy, leggy and fair female imagery.

The composition features an S-curve created by the background and gold lace mantilla and subtly reinforced by the rim lighting bathing the model’s knees and leg.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Figure Sketch


(Michelle reading, 24X36" oil sketch on canvas.)

I have been doing fewer 3 hour figure studies, because my pal Marilyn has blown down to Florida. This is from Saturday’s session. I love the pose.

Three hours for the figure, about another half hour for the background.

Excuse the reflections; at this time of year, paint dries really slowly.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Join me at the Irondequoit Inn this weekend

Piseco Outlet 12X9 Oil

(click for a larger view)


Irondequoit Inn's 2011 featured artist

Mark your calendars for a meet the artist reception on 7/29 from 6pm to 8 pm and a roundtable discussion on "Why Art Matters" on 7/31 at 1:00pm (click to sign up).

Carol Douglas is a well-known Rochester artist and teacher whose work has been shown in solo and group exhibitions throughout the East Coast including several Chautauqua National Exhibitions.

View from Irondequoit Inn

Sunny Day 11X14 Oil

(click for a larger view)

She studied figure, anatomy for artists and painting at the Art Students League in New York with Joseph Peller, Cornelia Foss and Nicki Orbach, among others.

She is a former state chairperson of New York Plein Air Painters and a signature member of that group. She is a member of Oil Painters of American and Landscape Artists International.

She teaches studio and figure painting in her Brighton studio and plein air in the Rochester area and in workshops. Her work is primarily in oil and pastel and is in public and private collections nationwide.

Crossing Big Bay on Route 10 14X18 Oil

(click for a larger view)


Friday, July 15, 2011

Today’s little exercise, a one hour sketch after my class.



West breakwall at Irondequoit Bay, some smallish size or another, oil on canvasboard

Kamillah Ramos was game to paint another hour with me after class so I did a quick study. The problem I'm finding is that the paint hasn’t the gamut for the water color. (It's rare in WNY to have that insane saturated aquamarine, but we’re having strangely clear skies). On top of that, my camera hasn’t the range to record the color in the painting very accurately, but I’ve given it my best shot. Ahem.

I see this scene as a Maxfield Parrish kind of thing, in unearthly light. I think it’s worth repainting in a more studied format; do you?

Here’s the set-up… again for benefit of my students. Laid down darks first, then midtones, then lights; then refined the shapes.


Thursday, July 14, 2011

How to set up a field sketch, for my students' edification

Cottage at Sea Breeze, 12X16" oil sketch

This is for my students... a primer in setting up a painting. This is not a finished painting, and it's probably a bit on the "tight" side since I was doing it solely to demonstrate how I want them to work tomorrow, but so be it.

My goal was to finish this in three hours, including set-up and tear down, since that's what I expect of them.

  1. I did a sketch in watercolour pencil; then followed that by blocking in the darks.

  2. Then I blocked in the major shapes, working from dark to light, in the right values and hues.

  3. Then I added such details as I was able to finish in the time allotted.
Done in 2 hours, 45 minutes, actually. Would have put the fence details in with a rigger brush but I forgot to bring it. And it was time to go canoeing with my kids.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Painting on a dock on the bay...

I spent a few hours on Irondequoit Bay this morning, painting Mayer's Marina, across the swing bridge in Webster (a hundred feet by water, miles away by car until the bay closes to marine traffic and the swing bridge is moved back into place). Nothing brilliant, just an exploratory oil sketch. A more finished picture would have more room to the right, but it's the road behind the old building that interests me most.


Mayer's Marine from the Swing Bridge, oil on canvas, 16X20


And I did this fast (five minute) oil sketch of a fisherman for Zoe Clark. Took a photo and gave it to him... he wasn't catching anything, so at least he came away with a 'snapshot' of his day!

Fisherman at Irondequoit Bay, oil on canvas, 6X8

Friday, May 6, 2011

Travels with Friends: Recent landscape paintings of Carol L. Douglas

I called this show "Travels with Friends" because most of these paintings were done with either Marilyn Feinberg or Kristin Zimmermann. A great plein air partner is a true treasure.

Erie Canal, 40X30, oil on canvas

Saturday, May 7 · 11:00am - 4:00pm

Cobblestone Gallery

The Mendon Academy of Arts & Moveme

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16 Mendon Ionia Road, Route 64 South, Mendon, NY 14506

See Carol Douglas’ new plein air work from the 2010 summer season, painted across New York from Niagara to the Adirondacks to Manhattan.

Ms. Douglas will be demoing painting during part of the Grand Opening, and there will tours of the facility and other artisans on premises.

The show will hang until May 24, 2011. Hours are:

Monday: 9:30-11:30 AM; 4-7:30 PM

Tuesday: 9:30 AM-12:30 PM; 4-7:30 PM

Wednesday: 9:30-11:30 AM; 4-7:30 PM

Thursday: 9:30 AM-12:30 PM; 4-7:30 PM

Saturday: 8 AM-noon

For more information: (585) 315-2300

The Mendon Academy of Arts and Music is located in this cool cobblestone schoolhouse in Mendon Center, NY. Neat place, and it's great to see the Cobblestone Gallery up and looking fabulous.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Skelly in love (bloom where you are planted)

If I could get painting students to do one thing, it would be to draw every day. It’s cheap—$5 will buy you a sketchbook, graphite pencil and eraser—convenient, and portable, and the fastest way to see progress. But so few people take me up on that suggestion.

This hasn’t been a productive year, art-wise. I’ve spent the better part of it loitering in waiting rooms. Tough on the schedule, but with an elderly mom, four bio kids and a few spares, I’m used to waiting.

One can either read bad magazines or use the time for something useful. This skeleton is at the office of physical therapist Joanne Panzarella. I started off drawing detailed studies of the bones—the vertebra (very tough to understand), pelvis, skull, the fascinating details of toe bones and how they attach to two different heel bones.

One day Skelly showed up in a blonde wig and pirate scarf and I knew I ‘knew’ him. It was simple to draw him in all his bony splendor without worrying overmuch about how many ribs he has or where his vertebra attach to his pelvis.

Today he was cuddling with his Easter Bunny. A quick sketch—perhaps 25 minutes—but it gets to the heart of Skelly. Who says that a man without soft tissue is without feelings?

Friday, February 4, 2011

Meme of the Day—Kim Jong Il Looking at Things

Abi's stuffed opossum and green wine glasses, 8X6", oil on canvas

Kim Jong-Il Looking at Things is my current favorite blog. I suppose it amuses me because it reduces a frightening, insane tyrant to an object of ridicule. (I sure hope he doesn’t see it and melt half of Asia in response.)

Much of the time, he’s wearing a grey-and-lavender parka similar to one my dad used to wear. I assume they have no heat in North Korea and his factotums freeze during these photo ops, but, hey, he’s the dictator.

It dawned on me that in his parka he looks just like the opossum who was camping out in our basement, so that’s how I painted him. Used Abi’s “pet” opossum because the live one has been relocated to public housing elsewhere in the county.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Meme of the day--I'll catch a grenade for you! (Right.)

Rag doll and GI Joe, 8X6", oil on canvas

Sometimes this business of painting catches you by surprise. I was all set for the GI Joe toy to give me fits, but it was the rag doll that was hard to paint—all shades of creamy browns, highlights both warm and cool.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Meme of the day--Back it up!

My new hard drive that just arrived in the mail, 6X8, oil on canvas

A note about these still lives: they’re exercises before my “real work”, a sort of a meme-inside-a-meme, considering how popular the painting-a-day movement is. They take an hour, more or less. And I do them because I find the classic still life boring to paint, but it’s too cold for me outside to paint plein air.

I figure by the time spring comes, water reflections will seem awfully simple in comparison to all this plastic wrap, tinfoil and bubble wrap.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Meme of the day--Statement Jewelry (OK, OK, it's not a meme, it's a trend.)

Jennifer Jones' statement jewelry, 8X5", oil on canvas

Still life set up by my student, jewelry designer Jennifer Jones. If you're interested in seeing her work (which really looks better than my still life) see it here.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Neko-nabe, or fat cat in a dish (with notes about how to draw the ellipse of the dish)

Neko-nabe, or fat cat in a dish, 8X6 oil on canvas

An ellipse is a plane curve with two foci which is symmetrical on both the vertical and positive axes, and intersects with these axes perpendicularly.

I recently heard a student tell another one, “She means not a racetrack and not a football.” Works for me, as long as it’s symmetrical both ways, as below.

Use that boring old method, a pencil held up in space, to measure the distances above the bowl's ellipse and below it. You'll be surprised at how often the bowl has very little showing below the rim, and a lot above the rim.

There is nothing like a contour drawing to check your composition. This is not time consuming, but the most important work you can do. The mantra of my studio is, "draw slow, paint fast" (and thank you to Rhea Horowitz for coining that). It's a lot easier to correct mistakes in a pencil drawing than in a mush of paint.


Monday, January 24, 2011

Meme of the day--Ginger is so last year, but so's this purse!

Sandy's ginger purse, which I found lying on the floor, 6X8, oil on canvas

These memes of the day are tiny (6X8) still life paintings, warm-ups for my "real" paintings, and if they take me more than an hour, I get quite grumpy. (Girls, can I send this purse away now, or should it kick around your bedrooms for another few years before being properly buried?)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Internet meme of the day--girl falls into fountain while texting


Girl falls into fountain while texting, 6X8", oil on canvas

And the steps to do it, in about an hour:

I start with either a watercolor pencil drawing. Easily erasable with a wet paper towel, allows me to fiddle endlessly with composition.


Then I block in colors and values, very roughly.

Then these shapes are gradually refined until I have to go pick up my son or yell at the dog or answer the phone..

The water reflections were added last. After I raised my phone up on a small support, I poured a pitcher of water over the rest of the stuff.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Winter evening at Twelve Corners

Winter evening at Twelve Corners, sketch, 12X16 or thereabouts, oil on canvas

I was waiting for my son at Brighton High School and amusing myself by taking photos of the streetlights with a handheld camera. Never thought of the photos as a painting until it was suggested by my friend Pilan. Here it is in an expanded sketch.

Internet meme of the day--that's just crazy talk.


Tinfoil hat, 6X8" oil on canvas

Tinfoil is just not that easy to paint alla prima. This was my second try.

But check out this tinfoil, done with a rather more careful approach, in colored pencil:


(BTW, I can make the tinfoil hat itself in less than a minute.)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Unicorn with double rainbow (for my kids)


"Unicorn reindeer visiting my front garden with a double rainbow in the background" 8X6, oil on board.

Today for my one-hour still life I returned to an old idea, painting an internet meme. I could find only half the props needed for “baby monkey riding on a pig,” so I fell back on that old standard, “unicorn” and added a newer element, the “double rainbow.” The unicorn is, of course, disguised as a florescent reindeer because I’ve been dying to paint this fellow.

My palette doesn’t have the gamut for his lovely pink mane. Carmine, naphthol red, quinacridone violet, quinacridone rose—none comes close to sufficient saturation. The blacks are much easier—two lights and two darks, warm and cool, covering the various lighting situations in my studio.

I flipped through my landscape sketches intending to use the first one with sky as the setting. It’s my own front-yard—well, what could be more appropriate? I decided to make it winter, however.


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Pretty in Purple


A student left some carbazole violet behind; I did two small sketches in the holiday spirit.

"Mary's shoes,*" 6X8 oil on board


"Happy New Year,"
6X8 oil on board

*To answer your questions: Mootsie Tootsies; silk; for a prom; yes, they were on sale at Kohls; they came in black too; no, you can’t borrow them.

Monday, January 3, 2011

A Still Life

Two peppers snagged from pizza-making, oil on canvas, 8X6

For several years I asked myself when would be a good time to take a sabbatical from career development, to focus only on painting. Economic malaise presents the perfect opportunity, so I took 2010 as a year to pursue intentional isolation. My plan was simple: no marketing, only one show, even less blogging. Instead, I would spend my time in my studio painting and working with those students who were at hand.

The year of stillness is now done, and I am glad of it—both that I did it and that it’s finished.

Some of the risks proved real—for instance, when you stop showing, you stop selling. Students wander off, and if you aren’t looking for new ones, you eventually find yourself pretty lonely. On the other hand, you’re able to look at your own work independent of others’ opinions, and you become very invested in the students you retain.

I’d like to be able to recount some sort of spiritual journey which resulted not only in enlightenment but also in a tidy little book deal, but if that happened, I missed it. On the other hand, I did get much better at sketching every day—especially in church.

I also got into the habit of doing a daily small still life (6”X8”). These are “gesture paintings.” With rare exceptions, they take me 1:20 or less to finish. This is from New Year's Day, 2011—a new year, a new decade, and back to engaging with the world.

Five plein air sketches by a student and friend

Students do wonderful things. Here are five landscape paintings recently entered by Marilyn Feinberg in the GVPAP show at Barnes & Noble—all five were accepted.


Expressway entrance at South Winton Road, about 12.5X10, oil. (These are not titles, but descriptions, since I don't know the titles.)

My backyard when the roses were in bloom, about 12X12, oil.

Adirondack swamp, about 8X8, oil.

Marilyn's backyard, about 8X10, oil.

Our grill, about 8X10, oil.

These paintings will be on display in the community room at Barnes & Noble, 3349 Monroe Avenue, Rochester, through January 27. The reception and awards ceremony will be on Saturday, January 8 from 4 - 6 pm.

Marilyn is certainly talented—no doubt about that. But she brings to mind that famous Thomas Edison quote: “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine per cent perspiration. Accordingly, a ‘genius’ is often merely a talented person who has done all of his or her homework.”

And on that note, I’m getting to work.