Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Day's End, Bass Harbor
Oil on Linen
Image 12 x 18 - Framed 17 x 23

I tried my best, I really did. It was a lovely scene, sun setting, boats resting in the distant harbor, the clouds creating a bit of drama. I started to paint, then wiped it out. A second attempt yielded the same result. Then on the third try I got something, but it was uninspired. I went to a nearby playground and shot some hoops while Elizabeth finished her painting. A few years later I pulled it out of the racks and went at it again. This time it came easily to my hand. I imagined myself back at the scene, I kept painting until the sun set, there was no time for basketball.....

The Painting of the Month is a special offer to my blog readers (click on the image for a larger view). This month Day's end, Bass Harbor, which retails for $2600, is being made available for $1500 (includes shipping, VT residents add 6% sales tax). To purchase this piece contact me at thomastorak@gmail.com. Payment is by check only please, no credit cards. If you prefer you may make 3 monthly payments. This offer is available for 30 days from the date of this post.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Everyone in the classroom seemed very anxious when I arrived to teach last Thursday. The model they had been painting for the past three days called in sick. He was about 60 years old and took a pose looking down, reading from a large book. The replacement the office sent up for the day was a young woman in her twenties. “What should I do?” one of them asked, “Should I start a new painting?” “Nonsense” I replied. “You've been looking at that model for three days, you should be able to work without a model. Fortunately you have someone taking the same pose. The light falls the same way on a young woman as it does on an older man. The planes are essentially the same, the underlying structure of the head is the same. Let's use the model we have to finish the painting.” So for the next twenty minutes or so I reworked the head in the painting pointing out the similarities of the two models and creating the original character from memory. I knew the shape of his head, the receding hairline and wavy wisps of hair. I remembered his pouting lower lip and the white whiskers below it. Add the glasses with the peculiar amber colored plastic frame and there he is.....

Friday, October 9, 2009

A Day at the Quarry
24 x 30 Oil on Linen

Chapter 4. Tom was now ready to put the finishing touches on his painting. One concern that he had had in the back of his mind all along was where the painting was going to hang. Francis and Clare had a wonderful house, but being an old house it had very uneven lighting. The place where the painting was to hang was a rather dark spot over the fireplace. Tom was aware of this problem and painted the painting a bit brighter than he normally would. Now it was his main concern. He brought as much sunlight and sparkle into the trees as he could and picked up the light on the marble and figures wherever possible. He knew, of course, that a painting cannot illuminate a dark space but he worked hard to keep it from looking dark on the wall. Francis and Clare are coming up this weekend, the painting is finished, varnished and in the frame.....

Epilogue. Francis and Clare loved the painting and they all lived happily ever after.....

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Chapter 3. When Tom was at Francis and Clare's house measuring the space for the painting he noticed that one of their children was looking at some photos the family had taken on a day at the quarry. A few days later he asked if they could email him a few of those photos. He was hoping he might find something that would allow him to put the children in the painting. There was a great photo of all 3 children diving off the marble ledge together. Perfect, that would become the focus of the scene. The figures were less than 2 inches high in the painting but that was enough to suggest their characters. At the beginning of the next day's work he went right after this focal point. The figures had been well drawn the first day but now he increased the weight and form and worked on the illusion of them floating in space. Then, of course, he reworked all the other figures and brought more structure and solidity to the marble.

Now the trees and bushes had to be developed. They are not the main focus of the painting but they do occupy more the half of the space. Tom had painted this mass of trees before and knew their general shapes and patterns quite well. The trick here is to paint them fully and beautifully but not distract from the activity of the figures.....