Peanut Butter & Jelly from 2014

I finally finished a painting I started in 2014. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich to add to a collection of huge still lifes I’d started that year. I was inspired by a huge painting of a tooth brush that I saw on a bedroom wall during a random soiree in high school, and I don’t know why, but I fell in love with the work and never forgot about it. In 2014, I attempted to create my own large paintings of random objects. Funny, they all turned out to be food. As they were meant for practice, they are all painted on a roll of white paper. My mom keeps telling me to stop painting on surfaces that will eventually deteriorate; I should probably start taking her advice. 

The first huge still life I completed was of apples.

The next big painting I made was of a cracked egg. I was inspired by the eggs in the Mr. and Mrs. Smith film, and thought it would be a fun challenge to try to paint the clear yolk. 

Eggs in a carton

Here is the photo of the cracked egg. My sister Hope deserves thanks for letting me crack an egg on her kitchen table.

The painting:

My sister says it looks like there is a finger nail clipping in the yolk and I see what she means. I made the little white debris too defined. Maybe I will fix that one day.

Finally, there was the PB & J:

I worked on this painting for a long time…For some reason, it fell by the wayside that year. It was rolled up, and I never completed the work.

I’ve lived in at least three different places with this painting rolled up in my closet.

Finally, after a couple of chocolate martinis, I took out the painting this past weekend, and finished it.

I know it’s hard to see just how big the painting is; I’ve been a terrible photographer and I apologize. I’m very happy with how the table and shadows have turned out. This is one of my favorite big still lifes. I added depth with thicker layers of paint, which is different from the thin strokes of the previous paintings. I’m really happy in my post-masters years; I’m not so poor anymore that I have to worry about running out of colors and not being able to buy more. 

Another one of my favorite big still lifes is this one of bananas that I painted before the apples, and have since gifted to my dear friend, Matt.  

I’m not sure why, but I enjoy painting bananas. In fact, my first painting ever- in 2003- was of bananas:

Inspired by Van Gogh

While I was studying for one of the more rigorous exams of my medical career, I began painting a vase full of flowers. I’ve been deeply inspired by Vincent Van Gogh for the past few years, and just having purchased more paint, I decided to try a thicker painting style.

This is one of my favorite paintings of flowers by Van Gogh:


Here are the flowers I purchased.

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I first sketched the flowers with a pencil. I am straying away from measuring proportions or tracing; that is, I’m not using a ruler to make sure that each leaf is the right size in comparison to each other leaf. I don’t want my paintings to look like photographs these days, but rather colorful depictions of how objects/subjects make me feel when I look at them. It is much better to not measure. It’s more representative of my perception rather than reality.

I began to layer paint, and decided on blues and browns as the color scheme. Van Gogh has a way of using blues and yellows in delicate balance, but I strayed away from yellow and perhaps this was a mistake, as the painting is quite subdued in hue.




I had additional troubles getting the leaves to jump out of the painting, but I found that using very small traces of black about their edges helped bring them out from the background. The background seemed boring to be with simple beige, so I added more browns that I pulled from the table and just a little bit of blue for some movement. Here is the finished painting:


I’ve learned that laying on thicker paint gives dimension and texture to a painting that is not replaceable by other techniques. The shadows from thickened layers add colors that move as the viewer changes his position to the painting. They become alive. In all these years I’ve been painting, I’ve always shied away from using thick paint- only so that I could save money. But it is well worth the price to be able to create effects like these. I want to try using scrapers and knife edges next time to create even more dimension with thicker paint.


I decided to try a self portrait using the same technique.


In this portrait, I used more yellow than I did with the flowers.

Portrait Project #7 Stefunny

I have a beautiful friend who goes by Stefunny. I decided to attempt her painting during an army training I had to complete. It was a great way to ease the stress from perilous outdoor adventures and overthinking my future.

I actually bought an acrylics painting set and some very inexpensive sketching paper to complete the work.

I’ve been very taken with Van Gogh in recent years, reading everything I could about him one night for no particular reason at all. Having worked at a psychiatric hospital, I feel that I can see him more clearly with my mind’s eye; I can feel who he was, and it grants me more meaning when absorbing his art. One of my favorite paintings of his is of a physician who treated him, Dr. Gachet:


Inspired by blues, I began to paint Stefunny. Here’s the reference picture:


Unlike some of my other paintings, I did not measure scale; the idea is to create more of an impression instead of an exact copy. What do I see when I look at the photo, instead of what is exactly in the photo.

I added more oranges to lighten the mood of the painting. This is the final result.