Sketchbook drawings

A pair of small drawings from my sketchbook.  I usually do a value/composition drawing before I start a painting.  First is the house across the street in the glow of a streetlamp.  Second is a prep drawing for my last painting.

House in Streetlight : Pencil 3"x4" 2013

House in Streetlight : Pencil 3″x4″ 2013

















Farm Drawing : Pencil.  3"x4" 2013

Farm Drawing : Pencil. 3″x4″ 2013



I haven’t been able to beat the heatwave we’ve been in for the past couple of weeks.  Its tough painting when it’s 95 degrees.  I paint in rubber gloves, and after about twenty minutes the sweat is trickling from the gloves down my arms.  Nice, huh?

Despite the oppressive temperatures I did eek out this painting.  I spent a lot of time mixing the base colors for the greens, the greys, and the blues ahead of time. I think that definitely clarified a lot of the forms.

It’s one of the small size paintings at 9″x12″ but it feels much more finished than a sketch.  I may come back and revisit this idea on a larger scale.  Hopefully the heat will have broken by Friday when I get some free time again.

Road and Farm : 9"x12" Oil on board.  2013

Road and Farm : 9″x12″ Oil on board. 2013

A tale of two paintings.

So…how do I fix a painting that I don’t like?  Easy!  I just took the original painting and repainted over every single aspect of it.

The first round (top) was too muddy in the tree forms along the middle of the painting.  The mountains, by contrast, were too flat.  The greens in the field alternated between frosty mint and pure yellow ochre – only one of which was actually correct.  And then there was the sky…the crisp blue sky that served as a reminder to me: unless I am in the Caribbean I am never, ever, ever allowed to use Pthalo blue in the sky.

Road and Mountains : Oil on board. 9"x12" 2013

Road and Mountains : Oil on board. 9″x12″ 2013

The second time around I used a series of pre-mixed greens (really only slightly dulled down yellow ochre) and slowly blocked in the form of the trees.  The field was flattened to get rid of the annoying random chatter.  Then the sky was pushed back with a mix of Ti white, cobalt blue, and a bit of a home-made grey to give it that summer hazy feel that I was going for in the first place.  There are still some issues with the painting – but miles better than the first time.  (also, once again my camera is pulling the greens into the orange family)

Road and Mountains : Oil on Board, 9"x12" 2013

Road and Mountains : Oil on Board, 9″x12″ 2013

Five Free Paintings!

Bring a little art into your life today with a free painting!

The first person to email me (adamMLeveille at gmail)  with the painting number they want gets it.  Totally free of charge.  I will mail it anywhere in the US*, or you can pick it up locally in Boston.

#1. Skull and Teddy.  Admittedly this is a weird little painting, but being weird has never stopped any of my friends.  9″x12″ Oil on board.


#2. Field in Lincoln.  This is a little experiment with acrylics from last summer when I was out biking. It’s 9″x12″ Acrylic on canvas over wood stretchers.

Acrylic on canvas. 9"x12" Painted from a photograph.

Acrylic on canvas. 9″x12″ Painted from a photograph.

#3.  Fluffy Clouds.  Earlier in the spring we were subjected to some crazy thunderstorms and I observed the gorgeous cloud formations in the aftermath.  This is a big painting at 16″x20″.  Oil on board. (*because of the size this one is pick-up only)

20130607-163142.jpg#4. Tree Roots at Jordan Pond.  Trying to capture the dappled light coming through the trees.  9″x12″ Oil on Board

Walking around Jordan Pond.  Oil on board. 9"x12" Painted from a photograph

Walking around Jordan Pond. Oil on board. 9″x12″ Painted from a photograph

#5.  Teddy Solo.  This is the most recent painting – a quick study using the Zorn palette of black, white, red, and yellow ochre. 8″x 10.25″ Oil on unmounted canvas.

Zorn Palette Teddy : Oil on unmounted canvas. 2013

Zorn Palette Teddy : Oil on unmounted canvas. 2013

Zorn Palette Experiment

This painting is a 1 hour sketch of my little suede teddy bear using the Zorn palette.

Anders Zorn was a Swedish landscape and portrait painter – a contemporary and competitor of John Singer Sargent and Joaquin Sarolla y Bastida.  Zorn often (but not always) limited his palette to just four colors: ivory black, flake white, yellow ochre, and vermillion red (I swapped in Cad Red Med.)

Limiting a palette is always an interesting challenge because you are forced to work less on perceived colors and more from value, form, and color temperature.  The Zorn palette actually gives you a great range of tones, both warm and cool.

I painted teddy after doing the color chart.  My palette was full of all of the mixtures and I think I probably should have limited them even further.  Also – canvas paper sucks.  Literally.  I would put down a brushstroke and it would get sucked into the tooth of the canvas almost immediately. For the next experiments I have added extra gesso to the paper to help seal it up.

Zorn Palette Teddy : Oil on unmounted canvas. 2013

Zorn Palette Teddy : Oil on unmounted canvas. 2013

Zorn Palette.  Colors are mixed 3/1 approx.

Zorn Palette. Colors are mixed 3/1 approx.


Summer Fields

A couple weeks ago I went back to NH to get some reference photos for new paintings.  It was a helpful trip – the one downside being that I was photographing at mid-day under a blazing summer sun with virtually no clouds.  That translates into a lot of flatness because shadows are dropped directly below things.

This is a small sketch and I’m not particularly thrilled.  Something is definitely off with the mountains in the background and I can’t figure out what.  The foreground is a little muddy in the use of greens, as are the 3-4 big trees in the front. Probably doesn’t help that I’m red/green color blind.  Also – the camera is turning the greens orange again.

Road and Mountains : Oil on board. 9"x12" 2013

Road and Mountains : Oil on board. 9″x12″ 2013

Weekend Work

It’s been all quiet on the artistic front for a few weeks.  One reason is that I’ve been reading and practicing some color theory techniques – more on that in a few days.  But mostly I’ve been away from painting because I was out of source material.

On Friday I went back to my childhood home and spent several hours biking around the fields and farms where I grew up taking tons of photos to work from.  It was an interesting experience that tugged at a few memories, which is exactly the reason why I’m painting this subject matter to start with.

Below is one sketch from the weekend – a mirror to Field in Winter (same location) and also the finished photo of A Path from earlier this year. It’s been finished for a while, I just hadn’t got around to photographing it.

Field in Summer : Oil on board, 9"x12"  2013

Field in Summer : Oil on board, 9″x12″ 2013

A Path : Oil on Board, 14"x18"  2013

A Path : Oil on Board, 14″x18″ 2013

Another Rainy Friday

Another Skull

Another Skull : Oil on board. 9″x12″ 2013

So I’m not crazy morbid.  I just happen to have a plastic anatomical skull laying around and it makes for an easy prop for paintings. (that’s also the reason the teeth look very fake…they are.)

It’s been another rainy Friday finishing up some pieces, including this little piece.  I’ve been playing with Liquin as a medium and trying to get a handle on transparent layers and building up a painting rather than the alla-prima style I’m used to.  It is definitely interesting, allowing for a lot more control, but a lot less expression.  I can’t say I love it just yet.

Liquin is an alkyd medium, similar to the walnut alkyd medium I normally use. While the walnut is non-toxic and shortens drying times it cannot be added in bulk to the paints or it will screw with the adhesion.  Liquin can be added and added and added, allowing for lots of transparencies and layers, but it also is a petroleum based product with a definite model-glue type smell.  Not my favorite.


Rainy weekend = getting stuff done

The cold and rainy Memorial day weekend turned out to be a great prompt to get some work done.  I spent most of Friday and Saturday in the studio and the results aren’t bad.

I was able to finish up the last details on an Echoes painting and add in several new layers on another. I still need to finish up some of the details on the first painting below, as well as think up titles; perhaps the hardest part of the whole process.

Then on Saturday afternoon I went in a different direction by using photos after a recent thunderstorm as inspiration (and an an excuse to play around with Liquin painting medium.)  I’m definitely not thrilled with the smell of the Liquin, which is something akin to model glue.  But the effects were interesting: a much more fluid painting body, paint that was a tad bit slippery at times, and a greater extension of the paint than I’ve experienced with the walnut alkyd medium.

I’m planning on going back in with the Liquin to explore some glazing techniques.  And I picked up a new tube of titanium white because I’ve been getting really annoyed with the transparency of the Permalba (titanium/zinc mixture)

Echoes A Path Echoes Lines WEB Light Painting

New easel

Just got a new easel set up in my studio! Much sturdier than the aluminum travel easel I was using.

And I’ve almost finished a new painting! Part of the Echoes series. Mostly happy with the result, but as always I can see areas where I’d improve it.




Feeling energized from Open Studios, I spent this whole weekend painting. And a little bit of it working on a chair. But mostly painting.

I finished “A road #2”, and made a lot of headway on two new paintings. I’m very happy with the one below, other than that its a little happy and sunny and I think it needs a wee bit more melancholy to it.


Open Studios Take Away

Just finished up Somerville Open Studios and an outstanding weekend!  I had about 200 people come through my space. I sold five pieces: two “When These Are Gone” watercolors, one of the “Echoes” oil paintings, and two figure drawings!  I gave away dozens of my postcards and business cards.  It was a significantly better event than last year.

Probably most important thing I took away from the weekend: incredible perspective on my work.  Repeatedly trying to explain my process or ideas in 30 seconds or less really helps crystallize them for me.  It’s also interesting to see what types of work people respond to.  I put one idea into a piece and that is what makes it interesting for me, but viewers bring their own attachments and responses and will get something completely different from it.

I’ve got a lot of notes to make while the weekend is still fresh in my mind, and then a lot of work to make in the coming months.

When I am Gone (number 17)

When I am Gone (number 17)


I finally finished adding the actual power lines into “A Distance” – just in time for Somerville Open Studios.

A Distance. Oil on board. 14"x18"  2013

A Distance. Oil on board. 14″x18″ 2013

Pownal & Powerlines

Two medium scale (18″x14″) paintings brought much closer to completion this weekend.  I grew up playing around the powerlines near my father’s house.

The Pownal landscape was done from a few photos taken on Easter at my brother’s house. I was very excited when I started it.  I have grown considerably less excited as it progressed.  Painting trees with no leaves on them is hard.

I need to let some elements dry before going back in and adding some details, like the actual power lines.


Pownal : Oil on board, 14″x18″ 2013

Power Lines

Power Lines : Oil on Board : 14″x18″ 2013

10 Landscape Sketches

These are little thumbnails I do as warmups before actual painting.  I usually work from photos on my phone and the corresponding sketch is about the same size – usually in the 3-4″ range.

Kinda, sorta finished & a new experiment

I’m still using my dad’s barn as inspiration for some paintings, but I’ve moved outside this time.  I took some photos when I was visiting before Christmas. The low winter sun caught the barn just as we were returning from a walk.   I keep thinking it’s finished, but I still want to go into the painting and fix things. The left side of the painting feels a little empty, but I didn’t want to paint in the teal Subaru thats parked there in real life.  (and yes, the barn actually is red on two sides, raw barnboard on the others)


Untitled 18″x14″ Oil on board. 2013.


Also, this weekend I did a little experiment with drawing/painting.  I used another photo from New Hampshire for reference.  The medium is oil thinned out with a ton of turpentine so as to give it a real washy, watercolory feel.  Good lord you need some real ventilation when working with that stuff!   I’m overall happy with the result, but completely not sure what its about or where it’s going.  It feels a little like the ink drawings I did in Fables, so maybe it will lead back in that direction soon enough.

Stream Painting

Stream Painting : Oil on gessoed paper. 18″x24″ 2013



Another quick study

Worked on another barn painting today, and whipped this out after to use up the leftover paint. Not bad. Kinda random. I might go back once everything has dried.  This was all gobbed on there so it might be a few weeks.  Sorry for the glare bouncing off the paint – its tricky to find good photo light in the studio.

Skull and Teddy

Skull and Teddy. Oil on masonite. 9″x12″


Some random old sketches.

Every now and then I flip through my past sketchbooks and discover things I like that I had forgotten about.

Box Drawings

Box Drawings. Colored pencil on colored paper. 6″x9″ each page. 2005 ish.

Fisher Skull Drawing

Fisher Skull Drawing. Colored pencil on colored paper. 6″x9″ 2005

Stairs and Snow

Stairs and Snow. Silverpoint on colored paper washed with gouache. 6″x9″ 2005 ish.

The Old Barn

The old barn at my dad’s house – where I grew up – has always been a place of mystery and exploration for me.  There is something very evocative of the geometry of the beams, the varying levels of height, the walls perforated by shafts of sunlight, which bounce around and illuminate.

I’ve been working on this imagery for a little while, and while I’m not sure if these paintings are exactly what I’m looking for I plan on spending more time with the subject matter.

Nod to Vincent

I spent all day working on one of my barn paintings.  After I had reached a stopping point I still had a bunch of paint left on my palette and I had been wanting to do this painting for a while.

I have an anatomical skull on my credenza and put my leftover cash in the mouth after work. Its a little nod to Van Gogh’s Skeleton With a Cigarette.

I tried to work quickly and loosely with a limited palette and larger brushes. I’m fairly happy with the results, although my colors are a bit muddy.

Geld shedel

Geld shedel – Oil on canvas 9″x12″

New Sketchbook…almost

When I get busy or lazy I use Moleskine sketchbooks.  When I get bored with those I make my own.  This is one that I had folded the pages down ages ago, but never got around to actually sewing until a just a couple weeks back.  Here it is glued up before I stick it in the press for a few days to dry out.

The construction is a hybrid Bradel binding that I developed and love.  The covers are a folded thick watercolor paper that is edged along the spine with thin red leather.  The covers are sewn onto the text block – as though they are signatures – with a double-needle coptic stitch.  Then the cover is glued shut on itself which creates a fairly stiff, but thin board, and all of the knots from the sewing are hidden inside.  I cover thin boards with a material and past them onto the thin boards, and then turn in the edges over both.
This was constructed with Strathmore 400 drawing paper, waxed linen thread, and red leather, with boards covered in a re-purposed vellum document from 1822 and red french-marbled paste downs.

In a week when its good and dry I’ll pull it out of the press and start using it.

Finished, Fixed (maybe?), and New

Worked on three paintings today. The first was finishing up the telephone pole in the painting of the road on Swan’s Island. The second was tweaking the tree and the roots painting.  I’m still not thrilled with it, but I think it’s gone beyond the point of being fixable and should just be a lesson learned.  And finally I did actually make new work – this is from a photo a couple years back when I hiked the Precipice trail on Mt. Pimetic, and ended up with an awesome view of Cadillac Mt.

New Paintings

I’ve been working on oil paintings lately just as a kind of exercise.  The paintings are mostly done from photos taken during my vacation up in Maine.  These are the two newest.  I really like the painting of a road on Swan’s Island.  The second is from a walk around Jordan Pond.  I really liked the way the roots were twisted and overlapping. Neither one is finished just yet.

Painting v. Photo

I took the photo in the post below back in July when I was training for a century (it was great) I painted this from the photo.  Its in acrylic on canvas and its okay.  Some of the colors are a bit off in the clouds.  I’d like to try again in oils when I get the chance.


Acrylic on canvas. 9″x12″ Painted from a photograph.

Out biking

So I’ve been training for a 125 mile bike ride in September. Training eats up a lot of spare time: basically an entire weekend day, plus 4-6 hours during the week. I haven’t had much time to work on art, but I have seen some inspirational things on the rides. This one was too beautiful to pass- I had to stop and take a picture.



Usually when my doorbell rings, I ignore it.  Most likely it’s takeout food for my upstairs or downstairs neighbors. So last night my doorbell rang shortly after I got home.  I did answer the door this time and HOLY CRAP – it was a guy who had seen my work at Open Studios and tried to email me, but the email went into the spam folder and this guy came back to my house to ring the doorbell to buy FOUR of the “When I Am Gone” series.

I have been walking on air since then.



I’ve been lax in getting anything remotely interesting done lately. Lots of false starts and distractions. So here’s a photo of Ed holding an umbrella.


Open Studios in Two Weeks!

Open Studios is just around the corner: May 5th and 6th.   I am # A 36 on the map, with a shuttle stop less than a block away.   I suppose now is the time to start making my space a little more presentable!

Here is a link to my Somerville Open Studios page.

Early Self Portraits

The first real time I have a memory of making a painting was when I was 9 or 10, using a combination of house paint, tempera, watercolors, and pencil…basically anything I could get my hands on in the garage.

However, my mom just gave me a box of old papers she saved from when I was a kid, and it turns out I started my artistic journey much much younger.   Below are three self portraits – the first of which was done when I was FOUR (and 1 month, thanks to my mom’s note keeping)

As you can see I wasn’t really big on accurate representation at the time…

More Pigeons

We see ‘pigeon’ as a mass. Each one is so similar to the other that it may as well BE the other. When we look at pigeons we rarely see individuality. For some reason I am drawn to pigeons (aesthetically speaking, I don’t want to have one as a pet or raise them.)

On these two occasions I saw pigeons huddled in the rain, feathers fluffed to stay warm and as dry as possible.  I snapped quick photos with my cell phone and did the drawings from them.  They are silverpoint on paper, from some time in 2006.  Approx. 5″x9″

Somerville Open Studios!

Despite being clueless that registration ended on January 31 I was still able to finagle a way into participating in Somerville Open Studios!  Hooray!
On Saturday and Sunday May 5+6 I will be showing work.  Still not sure if it will be at my house, or at a shared studio space, so stay tuned.
The link to my profile page is here.

Photos on a dreary day

Normally I use Fridays to work in the studio and clean up the house. Today I had family in town and we ended up going to the newly added-on-to Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. It was lovely but you can’t take photos.

I did manage snap these three during different parts of the day, and thanks to Instagram they look semi decent.




More old stuff

It’s 9:30 on a Thursday and I’m having a glass of wine and listening to some music (The Album Leaf) and sifting through some old drawings I had scanned to see what’s worth posting.  I have dozens and dozens of sketchbooks filled with old figure drawings but I feel like throwing some naked men up on the screen is a cheap way to drive traffic.

So cheap it is!

I used to attend a figure drawing session nearby that was borderline legit.  Which was fine, some of the sketchiness (no pun intended) appealed to me, and the models were generally very good.  Unfortunately the host of the group let it devolve into a shit-show, so I ended up not returning.  However, I did get some good drawings, including one of my favorite models: Edward.  I have some sketch pages of him, and a nice finished drawing that is very reminiscent of the Barberini Faun.

Fence Progress

As some of my friends know I’m rather enamored with the idea of fences.  They pop up in lots of my work – from physical sculptures, to drawings, to photographs.  Sometimes they are metaphorical, sometimes they are just plain real.

I’ve been working on a large drawing for the Lost series which incorporates one of my favorites: chain link.  I love the durability, the industrial aesthetic, and the airy perforations which all combine to say “you can see through, but you can’t get through.”
A snippet of the larger drawing which is going ever so slowly.

Fence Progress detail

And a page from my sketchbook with a test run of the fencing:

Fence Test Run

Old Figure Drawings

These are a few old figure drawings I found while digging through some old sketchbooks.  As you can see there are definitely some proportion issues to be worked through.  Most of these are from 2005-2006. When you click a thumbnail it will pop up a carousel.  Click the ‘permalink’ button for more details about the image.


Sketch-blog lift off!



2006 : Silverpoint on prepared paper. 9" x 9"

My plan is to update the sketchblog periodically through the week and make major updates as larger pieces are finished.   I was digging through some old sketch-books and found this drawing from 2006.  It seemed apropos for the first posting.   It’s one of the first finished drawings I did in silver-point.  I had a thing for pigeons at the time.