Let's Tackle Uncle Bob

Painting: Let’s Tackle Uncle Bob


Painting loosely is a long-time goal and a continuing struggle.  Although I am proud of paintings that are fairly precise, none of my paintings would ever be confused for a photograph.  Nor would I want them to be.  But, since most of my paintings begin from photos I have taken, they exert a strong pull to reproduce them in some or all of the detail.  Perhaps if I had the skill and patience to paint highly detailed images, I would feel differently, but I doubt it. The artists I admire most are those that suggest an image so cleverly that I, the viewer, complete the image in my own mind. My goal is to draw accurately, but paint loosely, with lots of color.  Sometimes a very limited palette can be a wonderful challenge.


I have a list of art goals.  Here are the first four:

  1. To suggest, not to make explicit
  2. To be accurate, but loose
  3. To intrigue, and never quite answer all the questions
  4. To delight, but not surfeit
Photograph Serving As Reference for Uncle Bob Painting

Photograph: Reference for Uncle Bob Painting

The painting seen above at the left — titled Let’s Tackle Uncle Bob — is based on the photo at the right, which is one of a series of photos I took from a great distance several years ago of four children playing with their father and uncle at a wedding reception at an Orange County farm.  All are wearing their Sunday best, which explains a little of the mystery of this rough-house.

Let me evaluate. I think these kids and the man look plausible. The faces and hands are definitely not explicit, but are accurate. The idea of the painting intrigues me, and there is a suspended feeling about what came before and what comes next. The background is only suggested roughly—enough to get a feeling where the horizon line is, and the viewer may wonder if the blue and green mounds are trees or clouds.

See more of my work at my website.