Saturday, December 27, 2008

Portrait of an Artist

Portrait of an Artist | 5"x7" | oil on hardboard

This is a painting I just completed of a total stranger. Who is this woman with the lovely smile?

I was paired up with her on the Different Strokes from Different Folks blog. 130 artists submitted a photograph of themselves and in doing so, agreed to paint a portrait of one of the other artists. So this fine lady has been given my photo to create a portrait of me as well. I'm anxious to see it.

What is she thinking about as she studies the colors, curves and lines of my face? As I painted her, I tried to bring out the lively artistic spirit I sensed in her photo. I painted this on the standard 5x7" panel that I have been using for most of my blog postings. In hindsight, it may have been easier to paint this on a slightly larger size. I hope she likes it.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Star of the East

Star of the East | 4'x8' | oil on Upson board

Something a little different this week. This is a Christmas scene that my grandfather, John Vander Stelt Sr., painted over 50 years ago. It was originally painted as a Christmas decoration for our church here in Maurice. After many advent seasons in the church, followed by many years in storage, I acquired this painting.

It is 4'x8' and painted on a heavyweight cardboard type of material called Upson board. It is framed in a shadowbox frame and lit from below with a fluorescent light. Then trimmed in garland and adorned with blue lights. The star is a single clear bulb. This is now on display in front of our house. Amazingly, it is in good (not great) condition for its age.

I love the fact that he painted this so many years ago and it is still proclaiming the good news of the Christmas story all these years later.

I'd like to thank all of you who have been viewing my work this year and for your words of encouragement. Your comments are appreciated and motivate me greatly.

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him." - Matthew 2:1-2

Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Blue Bully

The Blue Bully | 5"x7" | oil on hardboard

The cardinal posting last week inspired me to paint another bird this week. While it's tough to beat the striking red color of a cardinal, one of my favorite birds is the Blue Jay. Granted, the Blue Jay is a bit of a bully around the bird feeder, but I have always thought they were a great looking bird. They were one of my first subjects to draw when I was a kid.

I enjoyed painting a bird again. It was surprisingly easy as far as subjects go, and I'm not sure why. Maybe I just got lucky with this one. Sometimes the paint just flows out of the brush and things come together. While I like the blue in this piece, I really like the whites and shades of gray in the bird's breast feathers the best.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Cardinal Red

Cardinal Red | 5"x7" | oil on hardboard

It's been a busy week and I haven't had any time to paint, so I'm posting a small painting that I did last year and gave to my Mom for her birthday. Or was it Mothers Day? I don't remember.

Her favorite bird is the cardinal and they are few and far between here. It is really a treat when you see one outside your window. What a beautiful creature. This hangs in my parent's kitchen, so with this painting she gets to see a cardinal every day.

I'm not a wildlife painter, but I do like the way this turned out; especially the abstract shapes and patterns of the background twigs and blurry gray day.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Mickey's Diner - No. 2

Breakfast at Mickeys | 5"x7" | oil on hardboard

Eggs, toast and a good cup of joe. A great way to start the day. Hopefully you can tell these are cooked just the way I like 'em. Sunny side up. This is a breakfast I ate some time ago at Mickey's Diner.

I think the angle and the tight cropping adds to the visual interest. It creates some nice shapes.

And for some reason, there are few things that are as good looking or feeling as a thick. heavy, curvy diner mug.

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Friday, November 21, 2008

A Walk on the Road

A Walk on the Road | 5"x7" | oil on hardboard

When you live in a small town, you think nothing of walking down the middle of the road. The definition of a small town here in Iowa is probably something under 500 people. Going to a bigger town for groceries (we don't have a grocery store in Maurice anymore) or to make a WalMart run means going to a town of 5,000-10,000 people. Going to the "city" is considered a population of 80,000-100,000+. Enough about that.

So walking down the street here in Maurice is one of the simple treasures we take for granted. Something I'm thankful for this week of Thanksgiving.

This is south of our house, about 3 blocks south of here...on the other side of town.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Three Kernels

Three Kernels | 5"x7" | oil on hardboard

This one's a little corny. I couldn't resist. I found these on the road, bright and yellow on the black asphalt. They jumped out at me. I took them home and photographed them on white in bright sunlight.

When you take something seemingly ordinary like a kernel of corn, and begin to study it closely you begin to appreciate its' attributes. Nothing else in the world that I can think of has this shape, and the shades of yellow range from rich deep golds to lemony bright.

I've included an extra detail image of one of the kernels to give you an extra close look. Click on the photo to see it even larger.

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Stoplight Bags

Stoplight Bags | 5"x7" | oil on hardboard

Here's a painting I did for a blog called Different Strokes from Different Folks. A photo is posted weekly and it is then painted by a wide variety of artists. I'm posting the original photo below. Check out that blog to see a wide array of styles and interpretations.

I liked the positive and negative space created by the three figures and changed the handbags a bit to add some interest and to echo the stoplight across the street.

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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Red Berries

Red Berries | 5"x7" | oil on hardboard

Another result of my treks westward out of Maurice. I was walking out there on a particularly gorgeous late Sunday afternoon a couple weeks ago. The sun was illuminating everything with that warm golden color that is so wonderful. I noticed these berries growing in the ditch and decided I needed to run back to the house to grab my camera to capture these beauties.

I'm calling them red berries, only because I don't know their proper name. They were plump, red and looked good enough to eat (although I doubt they were). This week the plants are dark brown and the berries have shriveled up to nothing.

Beauty is fleeting.

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Thursday, October 30, 2008


Reeses | 5"x7" | oil on hardboard

Well, what did you expect today? It wouldn't be Halloween without some candy. I picked one of my favorites, the peanut butter cup. For the record, I'm also a fan of Snickers and M&Ms (plain or peanut).

Have a safe and happy Halloween.


Sunday, October 26, 2008

Chuck, Frank and Joe

Chuck, Frank and Joe | 5"x7" | oil on hardboard

Here's a painting based on a photo from our trip to Minneapolis last month. While there, I dragged my family to the art museum. The Minneapolis Institute of Art. The painting on the wall in this painting is titled "Frank" and is by my favorite Photo-Realist painter, Chuck Close. It's my oldest son, Joe who is inspecting the painting. Thus the title.

It is my favorite painting in the museum's collection and I always look forward to seeing it when we go there. If you go, make sure you check it out.

I also need to give credit where credit is due. One of my favorite artist bloggers is Karin Jurick and she has painted many, many great museum paintings similar in a style to the one I created here. Thanks, Karin.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge | 5"x7" | oil on hardboard

It's exactly a year ago today that my wife and I arrived in New York City to celebrate our wedding anniversary, so I thought I'd paint something from that trip. We had such a great time. Saw all the sites and took in a couple Broadway shows.

I love life in small town Iowa, but the action and excitement of the world's greatest city is truly something to behold. I loved it.

This painting is based on a photo shot from the Chelsea Pier in Manhattan, looking toward Brooklyn. We ate pizza at Grimaldis under the Brooklyn Bridge and then had ice cream at the place with the red roof on the far right hand side of the painting. Then walked back into Manhattan on the Brooklyn bridge with the skyline stretched out before us.

It makes me want to go back.


Saturday, October 11, 2008

Carnes Elevator

Carnes Elevator | 5"x7" | oil on hardboard

The harvest is in full swing and so another elevator painting seems to be in order. As I look back, it is exactly a month ago today that I posted Shades of Gray, which features this same elevator from a different angle.

I think my favorite part of this one is the rusty roof.

Thanks to all of you who signed up this past week to receive e-mail updates. I appreciate it.


Sunday, October 5, 2008

Golden Arches

So, in my last posting I mentioned my daily walks west of town and the "oblivious sheep". Well, I was walking the other day and saw this empty McDonald's french fry container lying along side the road. (Ironically not far from the grazing sheep) So I picked it up, carried it home and decided it might make an interesting subject to paint.

My family questioned my choice of subject matter, but upon completion it has received positive reviews from my in-house critics. I kinda like it too.

Remember when fries use to be served in a simple little white paper bag at McDonalds? This container is certainly more dramatic and beautiful I suppose... and your fries can stand up now.


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Sunday, September 28, 2008


I painted this yesterday. In fragments of the day actually. Painted a little. Went to my Mom for coffee (a Saturday morning ritual). Painted a little more. Had lunch. Went to the college homecoming football game. Painted...

This is a scene west of town. I have been walking out there almost daily and it has been great. This is the most beautiful season of the year in my opinion and harvest time is gorgeous here in Iowa. These sheep graze and seem oblivious to any of the beauty. That can be said for us all I suppose.

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Monday, September 22, 2008

Adrian Peterson

Well, it was a great weekend in Minneapolis. I love exploring the Twin Cities and we found a couple of great new spots to eat. One in particular, the Band Box Diner will be the subject of an upcoming painting.

I love the visual stimulation of the city. Lots of things to take in and so many things to do. A great variety of people to watch and such diverse neighborhoods of which we've only scratched the surface. Also since I work in graphic design too, I find I'm inspired by the bombardment of advertising I see throughout the city. Everything you look at is begging for your attention.

The painting I'm posting is one I did this past year. My youngest son, Jack has a Minnesota Vikings themed bedroom. (Yes, it has purple paint) I did this painting of Adrian Peterson the Vike's hot-shot running back and it now hangs prominently in Jack's bedroom. Jack likes the painting (it's the start of his art collection). I hope you do too.

We went to see Peterson and the rest of the Vikings yesterday and they beat the Carolina Panthers by a score of 20-10.

Not for sale

Monday, September 15, 2008

Mickey's Diner - No. 1

We're making plans to go to Minneapolis this upcoming weekend. One of our favorite places to eat while in the Twin Cities, is Mickey's Diner in St. Paul. The food is outstanding, the waitresses are ornery and the atmosphere is classic. I've got bunches of photos I've taken there, and will likely do paintings from a number of them.

If you know anything about me, you know I've got a soft spot for days gone by and old stuff in general. The beauty and simplicity of this old diner is right up my alley.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Shades of Gray

I painted this last night and thought I'd get it posted tonight. This is the Carnes elevator. Carnes is a couple houses, and the elevator. My original thought was that I liked the composition of the photo, but that the shot was gray and dismal. I figured I'd punch up the color. Then as I began painting, I began to change my mind.

I have an affection for gray. I think it comes from my Grandfather. He was a gray lover. An oil painter too, but when he'd paint objects (like for instance a chair, bench or a shelf) he often used gray. His favorite color.

So anyway, I decided that I'd use the shades of gray, increase the contrast in the values of gray and then punched up just the green at the bottom. I think I like that.

It's going to be tough to post some of the things I paint for this. In my mind I want to work at it, refine it. Fuss over it. That's not what I want to do here. Well, at least not all the time.

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Monday, September 8, 2008

Gravel Road at Dusk

I don't particularly think of myself as a landscape artist, but I plan on painting things for this blog that I otherwise typically might not paint. That seems like part of the fun to me.

This is a scene just a couple of miles South of Maurice, where I live. We are blessed with some wonderful sunsets here in the midwest.


Saturday, September 6, 2008

Birthday Cake

This is a 5x7" oil painting on hard board. I plan on posting mostly smaller paintings that I can do somewhat quickly. It's good for me to loosen up my brush a bit since I tend to gravitate toward painting in a detailed style.

My Mom almost always bakes this cake for all of our family birthdays. We all love it and she loves making them for everyone. She loves spending her days in the kitchen and we are the lucky ones who have gotten to eat all her masterpieces all these years. I know I'm partial, but she is an artist in her kitchen creations.

I don't have the whole e-bay thing figured out for this blog, so until that happens just click here to contact me with questions or if you're interested in this piece (pun intended).