Native American Paintings

And The Painting Process - Oils, Pastels, Watercolors, and Charcoals

Love Story - The painting used in the The National Western Art Show & Auction national advertising promotional campaign. Using full blood Native American models, my painting process always starts with a photo shoot. I appreciate the beauty of the Native American regalia and strive for authenticity as well as accuracy. The models generally are well seasoned and never require posing, including the children. Indians are perfectionist when it comes to their regalia, the braids need to be wrapped correctly, the medallion must hang 'just so' Nothing is accidental, not even the way a braid falls. When I am painting I insist on the same perfection in my work.

Humor and generosity accompany these sessions, and, sometimes, if the moment allows there will be a captivating lesson in the form of a story. It is a spiritual exchange between model and artist.

During the photo shoot, I take eighty to a hundred pictures. I see everything already complete as a painting. I compose in the camera's viewfinder as I go. The model and artist work as one, anticipating the other's need. Photographs work well for me, as there are times I don't wish to restrict the model, however, I do not always use photographs.

From the photos I make my choices. I look for drama and mystery that will translate into a painting. The subject determines if it will be pastel, oil or something else. I stretch and prepare the canvas if it is to be oil. Sometimes I start working directly on canvas or paper, other times I might make a value or color study. Each approach is as individual as the painting itself. I like white paper or canvas and think it is a good support. I lay the under painting on using either watercolor or thinned oils. I use the same procedure for pastels. Wallace pastel paper is almost indestructible and will handle any media. Again, there are no hard fast rules.

In the beginning I am in control of the painting process, but there is a point where the painting takes on a direction of its own and will lead you. It is wise to listen and follow. I find it helpful from time to time to set the painting in a frame to view it. I also paint with a large mirror behind me as it clearly shows errors.

When I feel the work is finished I like to keep it around for a few months if possible. There are always things to find with a fresh eye