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Visual Noise

Sergio Lopez aka The Main Loop
Eye-Fap Material

As you can see by the title, this one’s going to be a little different than my usual blog posts. I feel like I have more to say than just recapping events. Don’t worry, plenty of paintings will be in this post as well.

This summer has been a busy one for me. Not only was I working on two major shows for me this year, but I was trying to do a few plein air events at the same time. I had built up in my mind some notions about the outcomes of each show. Not only expectations, but hopes as well. I think it’s ok to let imaginations run wild as far as, you know, having sell-out opening nights, new collectors who wish to whisk you off to their charming French cottages so you can be commissioned to paint their sheep or whatever. If that’s what it takes to stay motivated through non-stop 12 hour days juggling between multiple paintings in order to meet the deadline then so be it. As long as you are able to let it go before it becomes permanently attached to your heart.

My Trip To Charleston

After a long day of plane travel I arrived to the destination of my two-person show with Mia Bergeron. The Langes and company let us use the upstairs apartment in the gallery. It was a charming old room that was more than adequate for our stay. 

The day of the show was one of adjusting to the oppressive humidity of the Southeast Coast in August. The ocean is right there! How about a bit more seabreeze, please?? Ok, minor grumbles aside, Charleston is a lovely place with a lot of old-South buildings, texture and mystery. A great place to visit, not to mention all the great galleries in town. Too many to visit in such a short stay.

I finally got to meet Mia for the first time. As I’ve said before, I’ve been an admirer of her work for a long time, and connected to it in the way a viewer connects to a painter’s work might. So I was glad when I met her it was instantly like we were old friends. When you’re able to talk to someone about something you are both deep and passionate about, there’s no way you could not feel any sort of kinship. Plus her and her boyfriend John are both incredibly sweet people. I’m really glad to have met them both, it was one of the best parts for sure.
"Heart In Hiding" 15x12 in. oil on linen board. $1150.
The night of the show. A bit slow at the time of the opening, but the trickle got larger as the show went on. As more people come in, the more of a chance that different people are going to be more and more demanding of your time. so you sometimes need a place(or person) to retreat to. I was glad to be there to revel in the admiration of our accomplishments, but at the same I am a dyed-in-the-wool introvert. There is only so long I can handle before I need to find a familiar face to relieve some of that pressure. I am so grateful to have had one of my best friends in the world Joella present with me for the night. Not only is she so much better than me at meeting people, she is instantly likeable and an all-around great person to hang with. Had it been a solo show with no old friends there, it would have been an entirely different experience, and probably not for the better. Maybe I would have turtled up emotionally to hide nervousness. Lack of courage, perhaps? Hmm.

"Sorrow In Good Light" 14x14 in. oil on linen board. SOLD.
Opening night’s sales were less than I was expecting. “Expecting.” More on that later, but what were the reasons? There were a lot of shows going on at the same time. If I were a serious collector of art, I would be the type who shops around a lot. Truth is, at this point, I have very few people who are willing and able to follow me around, and buy a painting from me no matter where I exhibit. I’m really grateful for the collectors I have so far. Without them, there’s no way I’m getting to the next phase of the career. I’m still in the early stages of building an ardent collector base, but I have the belief that I will get there one day.
"Over Your Sheltered Nest" 30x40 in. oil on linen. $6500
I had a great time with Joella visiting her part of South Carolina near the mountains. A lot of beautiful places to hike and see. Next time I go out there I’ll plan on taking my oils out there to do some serious study of the area.

Sonoma Plein Air

Speaking of being busy, less than a week after returning from South Carolina, it was time to participate in this year’s Sonoma Plein Air event. The added pressure of being the “reigning champion” of 2013 added some expectations of “What’s he gonna do this year? Will he win again?” Plus it’s a bit of a fun competition with yourself to see if you can outdo your previous output.
"Valley View" 6x8 inches. $425
Overall I think I did better this year comparing paintings to last, but I don’t think I did one that really stood out over the competition this time around.
"Changing Colors" 8x10 inches. $500
Aimee Erickson did a fantastic job on her prize-winning piece this year. I urge you to look up her work and check it out for yourself. She’s been on an award-winning tear; she’s unstoppable!
"Golden Angles" 12x9 inches. $700
Also, look up newcomer Jason Sacran if you’re not familiar with him yet. He was a newcomer to the event but I’ve known him since Telluride last year. He’s been making great leaps in his work since I met him, and did some dynamite work for the show this year.
"A Slice of Yesterday" 9.5x4.5 inches. Sold.
My quick-draw painting of a young girl in a traditional Mexican costume sold at the evening of the quick draw. A decent amount of quick-draws sold, which is usually a good sign for plein air events. They get your hopes up for a good day of sales for the main show.
"Chasing Away The Pestering Fog" 10x8 inches. $500
"Looking Over The Oaks" 6x8 inches. $425
"Castaway" sold at the night of the opening, although it went for the minimum bid at the silent auction so I didn’t get nearly as much for it as I’d hoped. It was my submission for the Artist Choice award. There were a lot of great paintings to choose from for the decision to be made, so I was not expecting a repeat win.

"Castaway" 12x16 inches. Sold.

The Saturday show was pretty lackluster in terms of sales for me. I only sold one $400 painting during the show. From what I could tell, there weren’t a ton of sales from anybody near me. However, they told us that this was their best-selling show yet, which leads me to believe that the sales were all spread out evenly. I don’t think there were any sell-outs, but everyone sold at least one painting, I think. A good amount of people sold 3 or 4 paintings, which is pretty damn respectable. It’s not always pleasing to the individual artist, but for an event organizer, it’s pretty great. Overall, you can’t really complain if you sell 3-4 paintings in a plein air show. I’ve come to expect that.

Press On Me

Cool side note: I was interviewed by Sonoma Discoveries, a local lifestyle magazine, as part of a larger article on plein air painting. They focused on myself and Linda Rosso, another local painter. The photographer came out with me to Spring Lake. As I worked on this painting, he took pictures of me, my setup, and the scene. He did a great job.
"Bright Reflections" 10x8 in. oil on linen. SOLD.
The article is nice. I recommend downloading it and reading it. The Christopher Queen Gallery was very happy with the amount of ink they got in the article, because it helped get the word out about the Traveling Painters show this October. Speaking of which…

The Traveling Painters

This was a great show that I was happy to be a part of. The gallery grouped Bart Walker, Paul Kratter, and myself for the main fall show this year. The October show is the biggest deal of the year at Christopher Queen, so there was a lot of faith in us as artists to deliver the goods.
"Worth The Effort" 20x20 in. oil on linen.
"So Close To The Sea" 16x20 in. oil on linen board.
We had close to a year to prepare for the show. It always feels like way more time than it turns out to be. Especially when you factor in every other painting that you have to do for every other show in between. I prefer to work with a little pressure on me anyway.
A lot of these paintings were started as pieces for plein air events, and then later worked on in the studio.
"Needed Nourishment" 16x20 in. oil on linen board.
Out of the twenty paintings I brought to the gallery for the opening, the ones you see here are the new ones I did for the show. A lot of paintings from my Southwest roadtrip ended up in the show, but with some extra work on them just to make sure they’re spiffy.
"Solace For Seagulls" 16x20 in. oil on linen board.
I did great on the day of the show. Best single day of sales I’ve ever done, in fact. I sold eight paintings that day, and another four paintings since. If all of my shows went this well, I’d be doing fantastic. Once you get a taste of the way things could be, it can change your way of thinking, for better or worse.
"Two Soldiers" 24x20 in. oil on linen board.
I have a thing in my head where, after enough time has passed, I can look at a situation for what it is without being too emotionally wrapped up into it. I can do that for a lot of different things. That’s why I can sell my paintings without feeling like I’m selling my babies. I think this is a requirement for professional gallery artists. The next stage of detaching from ego is detaching from expectation. It’s really hard to do. 
"Pristine Pond" 30x40 in. oil on linen board. $6500
It’s a balance you have to strike in your mind between being realistic and being a dreamer. Not only to survive as an artist but to thrive. Dream too much, and you become disappointed when expectations don’t go your way. Be realistic, aka. safe, and you become a painting robot, constantly calculating A sales - B cost = C money. Where is the spirit in that? Be smart about things like budgeting, just don’t forget the reason you’re a creative person.
"Evergreen Giants" 16x8 in. oil on linen board. SOLD.
The outcome of the shows are pretty different than what I was hoping. Somewhere along the line, hope turned into expectation. I was “expecting” to sell a lot more paintings in Charleston. I was “expecting” to sell more paintings at the Sonoma Plein Air show. I was even expecting to sell more than I already did at the “Traveling Painters” show(but I continue to keep selling paintings from that show). I can think about what happened… “why didn’t I sell more in Charleston/Sonoma/etc… what could I do better…” and those are important questions to ask, and I continue to search for answers. Those expectations will keep you up at night, though. The more you put yourself out there doing shows, and the more people who find your work and love it, the more people will come to you hoping to get into your circle for their own benefit. Part of what they will do is raise your expectations by promising success, even small success is seductive. There are no sure things in this business; we’re not selling widgets. Even commissions fall through all the time. Listen to the nagging voice in your head telling you that “this is too good to be true.” Take some risks in your art but be alert in your dealings with business people.
"Old Friends" 14x18 in. oil on linen board. SOLD.
I think it’s necessary to have some courage to have longevity in the art business. If all I wanted to do was the “Painted Roses” series, I may paint myself into a corner, literally. Even though I still produce them, and they sell quickly even after four years, it’s not the only thing I want to do. I am always looking to find new concepts. If I hit on something inspiring to me, I develop that concept and create paintings for it. Because I feel strongly about it, I want to believe there are people out there who want to own it, and will pay a good amount of money for it. That takes some courage to believe in your ideas enough to put them out there, but having some expectation that your ideas will be well-received is also some sort of courage, right? I am grateful for those people who I can connect with, however.
"Changing Clouds" 8x8 in. oil on linen board. SOLD.
Gratitude could be the antidote to disappointment. There is a lot going in my life that I’m happy for. I would feel like such I whiner if I couldn’t see that and could only talk about what I was hoping would happen. Based on the trend, I can only see things getting better as the years progress. Each step on the ladder gets harder and harder to reach, but I’m happy to make it this far. I’m really grateful for you if you helped me make it here, whether you’ve bought a piece of art, or found the person to make that happen, or helped me find models or props, or gave me a place to stay in my travels, gave encouraging words, or let me complain about whatever negative thing to you. It’s not really talked about much, but I don’t know if you can go far in the art world without some gratitude. People are less likely to help if you lack gratitude, and you need a lot of help to be successful.

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Nicola Samori

MAUDE SHERWOOD JEWETT, American (1873-1953), “Bacchante Flower Holder”, bronze, signed and dated 1924 on the base.

MAUDE SHERWOOD JEWETT, American (1873-1953), “Bacchante Flower Holder”, bronze, signed and dated 1924 on the base.

Daniel Bilmes

Daniel Bilmes



Kiwi on a treadmill.

well you can tell by the way i use my walk i’m a flightless bird
i can only walk

How can I not reblog this



Kiwi on a treadmill.

well you can tell by the way i use my walk i’m a flightless bird

i can only walk

How can I not reblog this

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Bato Dugarzhapov

Bato Dugarzhapov


I’ll be wrapping up my Colorado trip here with the journey back to Santa Rosa. Fair notice: this post is mostly photos, so if it’s not your bag, I’ll see you next time.

I left Telluride in the evening with the expectation that I would reach my destination(Zion National Park)  in the morning. It was about 7 hours of mostly sparse desert to get there so I was hoping to get through the mostly boring parts at night.

I was getting really tired near Page, AZ. I did not see any place to rest anywhere so I stopped at some teeny little town called Kaibito. There was nothing that looked halfway inviting for a quick stop besides a gas station with a little parking lot. I thought I would try to take a cat-nap that would power me until I reached Page. I was there for less than 10 minutes when I saw a truck drive around the lot and come right up to the side of my car, headlights still on. The truck was not moving, and the headlights were staying on, but no one was coming out of the truck either. Who was in the truck and what did they want?? I didn’t know what to do. I did not want to get out of my car, but I didn’t want to pull out because what were they going to do? Would they follow me? Was another truck going to come and box me in? I was starting to get nervous. I tried to look in the truck to see what type of person was in the truck. I couldn’t see much inside, and couldn’t really see the side of the truck either. I didn’t do anything, just tried to wait it out for another 10 minutes or so. They didn’t move, just stayed in their truck and kept their lights on. I thought, OK, I’m just going to pull out, try and leave, and see what happens. So I backed out, and was able to see what kind of truck it was. Arizona State Troopers. So I knew I wasn’t going to die, but still didn’t know why they didn’t question me or tell me to get out of the truck or anything. I left the gas station, then got back on the road and left the town. They didn’t follow me. So I don’t know what that was about, but it scared me enough to get me to drive another half hour to Page.

I slept near a bunch of RV’s in the back of a WalMart parking lot. Apparently this was the de facto rest stop in the area. I can’t sleep for long in airplane seats or car seats, so I only slept long enough to catch the sunrise. By the way, very few skies more beautiful than desert sunrises.
One of the most beautiful drives I’ve ever done! Maybe the sunrise bumped it up a few notches, but the drive between Lake Powell and Kanab, UT was glorious… It goes along the edge of Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. I couldn’t get great shots of that, but here are a couple of photos of what I saw along that drive.
I reached Zion about a couple of hours after stopping in Page. It is quite the amazing site. The park is created in these towering red “temples” of limestone and sandstone and is also carved by rivers that have created beautiful canyons. Here is one of many scenic viewpoints in the park.
I stopped to eat breakfast at a cafe that happened to have an awesome painting by Kevin Macpherson in it. For my money, it’s the best landscape painting in this post :P Good to see some nice art in such a tourist destination.
This a view partway down Zion Canyon that made me nickname it “Desert Yosemite.” The views along the trail are so inspiring. Had I more time and energy I would have trekked up Angel’s Landing but the trail to the “emerald pools” was more than sufficient.
One thing about the wildlife here: The squirrels are VERY friendly. No doubt because of the tourists ignoring the many warnings not to feed them. The squirrels are fatter than I’m used to seeing, and move at about half the speed of your neighborhood guy. This does, however, afford me the chance to take some cool close-up shots of them, like this one here.
My one attempt to paint in the park was thwarted by the sudden onset of rain in the park about midway through this painting. I wasn’t even going to post this, but I think some people like seeing half-done paintings as well. If this is the first painting of mine you’ve ever seen, PLEASE go back in my archive a little bit, I’m much better than this…
It was rainy and gray in the park, so that meant I wasn’t going to get to do much more there unless I waited it out for another few hours or so. I needed to get moving, so I got back in the road. One of my favorite things in nature is watching what happens as the clouds clear after a rain.
These were both taken near St. George. It seems like a pretty cool place on account of its proximity to so many national parks and monuments.
So, between St George and Vegas it was raining. Sometimes it sprinkled, other times it stormed. It didn’t, however, cool down much. It felt like 95 degrees at 9:30 PM in Vegas. How do people live in such a place?? The desert is not a place for me to live. I stayed at a place in Pahrump, which for the price was a million times nicer than the motel I stayed in at Green River.

It was nice to see my beloved California in the distance here. Not sure what those mountains are called, but they have the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, home to the oldest trees in the world.
Some of the beautiful Eastern Sierras, outside of Bishop.
My whole idea for taking the route home was to be able to paint at the June Lake Loop. It’s a relatively easy place to reach by car, and while not as pristine as Lake Ediza, it is still extremely beautiful place to visit. It is an alpine lake with a charming town and the quintessential granite mountains around it(think mini-Tahoe). Again, thwarted by rain halfway through! I finished this one in the studio, where I was able to control the lighting situation in the painting a little better.
It was still another six hours to get home, and the rain was off/on still, so I didn’t paint anymore on my way home. But here are some nice shots that I took of the mountain landscapes.

The meadows in Mono County are very picturesque and highly worthy painting subjects. What else could you need?
A valley view along Monitor Pass. Again, so much to paint in the area.
A cluster of peaks near Markleeville.
Another beautiful scene near Markleeville, close to South Lake Tahoe.
Thanks for hanging along. Until next adventure!

Drawings For Sale
Prints For Sale

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Telluride was a great experience again this year, with perfect weather pretty much the entire time there. I got to dig in to more of the town than last year, and I got to paint in some areas that I saw last year.

This was my first official painting of the event. I had a mis-start the evening before and junked a “wiper.” This was a view from the house I was staying in, which was an amazing multi-million dollar home in the hills above Telluride. Great views of the San Miguel mountain range.
"Wilson Peak After Dawn" 6x8 in. oil on linen board.

I spent most of the day painting around the town of Telluride. This is one of the charming scenes about town that make it so much fun to paint in town.
"Summer In The Shade" 8x6 in. oil on linen board

This is one of those scenes that I didn’t get around to last year. I think I can do a better job with this one especially in the waterfall part. It doesn’t quite feel like a waterfall; it looks more like an actual bridal veil, in fact.

"Bridal Veil Falls" 9x12 in. oil on linen board

This was a painting that I redid. I tried to 
"Wait Right Here"  9x12 in. oil on linen board.

This was a view just down the road from the house I was staying at. See how that whole “house worth millions” thing is starting to make sense?
"Deer’s Haven" 12x16 in. oil on linen board.
This was one of my smallest paintings yet one of my most popular paintings of the ones I did out there. People seem to really enjoy tall narrow paintings for some reason. I believe it is because it’s easier to find a spot to put them on the wall. Especially with a little guy like this one going for $450, people seem to consider them a bargain.
"Fall Creek" 9.5x4.5 in. oil on linen board.
This painting took a couple of days to finish. I started it one day, then I saw a herd of elk behind me in the distance. I don’t know if they were going to make their way over to me, or if they get aggressive, but I sure wasn’t going to find out. I came back the next day a little bit earlier and finished it.
"The Valley Floor" 11x14 in. oil on linen board

This painting I had to paint rapidly because of the sun rapidly vanishing behind me, but the drawing and some of the values suffered because of it. Paintings of the evening are very hard to nail in one shot.
"It’s Magical" 8x8 in. oil on linen board.

This was a view from a vista point near where I was staying. One of the many beautiful parts of Highway 145. Very much worth the drive if you ever find your way out there.
"Her Majesty" 12x9 in. oil on linen board.

I drove down what has to be one of the most scenic roads in the country to Rico, a small town with a lot of western “mining town” legacy still permeating the feel of the place. I painted a large BBQ grill on wheels with some smoke coming out of it. I enjoyed leaving it sketchy-looking with the vignetted look to it.
"What’s Cookin’?" 11x14 in. oil on linen board.

This painting turned out to be way more popular than I ever expected it to be, especially among artists. It was painted at late evening. The diffused golden light that bathes the entire town at evening is incredible. The muted tones made people think I was going for an “old fashioned” look, but it really did look that way to me.
"If You Squint Hard Enough" 6x8 in. oil on linen board.

I didn’t get a better photo of this one because it sold before I was able to take a good picture of it. I’ll take a sale over a good photo of the painting, any day.
"The Clock Tower" 9.5x4.5 in. oil on linen board. Quick Draw, Sold

After a very strangely-handled live auction of the quick-draw paintings(who starts an auction high and goes lower?? :-/ ) it was time for the Artist Choice Award Reception gala. Here are the award winners:

3rd Place: Larry Rudolph. He is good at handling black paint in his work, I don’t see a whole lot of plein air painters blatantly using ivory black in their paintings.
2nd Place: Wayne Mackenzie, who sold out during the outdoor show. Great job!
1st Place: Susiehyer. This was a very impressive and ambitious painting for a plein air event. It was also very well done. It was my second choice behind Nancy McDonald’s awesome street scene.

4th of July in Telluride is always a big deal in town, with the parade, fly-overs, and fireworks. The idea is that the influx of people brings a lot of eyeballs to our tents and sales will follow. That is true for some people, and not as much for others.
Here is a shot of my paintings on the wall.
By day two, I got a little bored of the lack of sales. I did some sketching of the environment.
I left Telluride with more paintings than I hoped to come back with. Sales were awesome for some people and not-as-awesome for others. It’s hard to say whether or not it was because it was a down-year, or what. It didn’t really feel like it. The people who sell well, do well. I guess that leaves the rest of us to step it up and learn how to sell better, or continue to be disappointed. One of these days I’ll see something worth reading here:

Coming soon: The conclusion to my travels…. Part 3: Zion and the Eastern Sierras!

Drawings For Sale
Prints For Sale

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Last week I got to sit in for a couple of days at the "Angels Boot Camp". What is this, you ask? Should I send my bad kids there to learn discipline? Will I lose weight? While I can’t answer those questions, I can tell you that it is a fairly intense 4-day workshop at Ray and Peggi Kroll Roberts’ studio in the Sierra Foothills. 4 different days, with 4 different instructors. The heat was intense, but part of the reason is because of all the friction created with the brushes going across the canvases. The main lessons that were being taught were learning to see simple compositions and using colors and shapes to effectively convey the observed light in your paintings. I took Ray’s “plein air to studio” workshop in 2011 so it was nice to revisit some of the lessons.

Day 1: Peggi Kroll Roberts

I arrived halfway through the first day of the workshop, so I missed the first part of Peggi’s teaching which focused on a strong two-value composition. This painting was a 40-minute study done completely with a palette knife. I never use a palette knife exclusively. I always reach a point where I want more control than what I can get out of a palette knife. The trade-off is interesting texture in the painting, though.
I was still trying to warm up with this painting. Another 40 minute study. I should have taken a picture of Peggi’s painting. She is so good at simplifying things in her painting and nailing the essence of light and color in a scene.
20-minute head study as Peggi demo’ed.
This was a 40-minute study where I was starting to get back into my groove. I can feel how my recent lack of figure painting is affecting my paintings. People liked my teapot though.
There are so many paintings and studies in their studio. It was fun to rifle through them and marvel at them. Here is a really cool portrait study that Ray did.

Day 2: Ray Roberts

The resident cat! She is 16 years old but as spry as a cat 4 times younger.
These were Ray’s demos of the morning. He was imparting interesting basic lessons that can benefit anyone who doesn’t mind getting back to basics, which is just about anyone. One of them being the “1/3rds, 2/3rds, A Little Bit Rule:” 1/3rds of one value, 2/3rds of another value, and a little bit of a third. It’s a good simple rule to keep in mind when designing the light and dark value pattern.
This was a painting I did after watching his first demo. Was trying to apply the “1/3rds, 2/3rds, A Little Bit Rule” to this one. Guess what, it must have worked, because I sold it.
The day was sort of sunny, sort of overcast, and I couldn’t find anything worth painting on the ground. Ray suggested that I try painting the clouds instead. Good idea! Not something I would have thought of doing but I’m glad he suggested it. Ray also had a good critique, which was to be mindful of repetitive shapes. It’s very unnatural to have repeating shapes in nature. This touches on the “controlled chaos” principle, a lesson he was also teaching.
Ray’s afternoon demo! It’s interesting to watch them come together. The overall light effect doesn’t usually show up until late into the painting. You just have to have faith in your decisions and be patient as you’re painting. Another small lesson he shared was a trick for keeping pure color clean where it’s needed (like in the flowers here) by laying down the pure color first and then adding the dark shapes around and into the light pure color.

This was a painting that I got a lot of kudos on as I was painting it. It’s their old chicken coop. I ended up selling this one as well.
My final painting of the day was of their plum tree. I wanted to do a close-up a bundle of fruit on the tree but the sun was way too hot to set up without much shade around it.  This was another exercise in texture.

Day 3: Carole Gray-Weihman

Here is a photo of Carole doing her demo in the morning. Photo courtesy of Al Tofanelli.
This was a painting I did after being inspired by Carole’s demo. I adopted her technique of layering complementary colors with a palette knife. I finished with a brush to refine things that I couldn’t quite finesse with the knife.
Peggi’s stance! Her signature twist.
I had to go back home at this point, but not before snagging a Ray Roberts to add to my collection! What a beauty!
I wasn’t able to get any of my own shots from the 4th day since I wasn’t there, but here are some photos courtesy of Al Tofanelli.
 Sweet marker sketches by Peggi Kroll Roberts!

I think the students gained a lot from the teaching. I believe they will be doing it again in 2015 at the end of July, so if you enjoy painting in a lovely setting with some experienced, expert teachers, mark it in your calendars for next year.

Check out Carole’s Plein Air Liaison website and maybe sign up for the mailing list.

Drawings For Sale
Prints For Sale

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at a short distance

These are fantastic

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Antonio Mancini in glorious hi-res detail:
Arthur Mathews

Arthur Mathews


Fechin Close-ups

Justin Coro Kaufman

Justin Coro Kaufman

James Tissot

James Tissot