Tinkerbell and Puff

I’m forever looking for ideas…especially ideas with great lighting!   So, here I go again!

I came across this photo by Natasha at nnova.com. “How cute is THAT?” I asked myself.


However, that site no longer is active, so I could not reach her for permission to use her photo.  So I decided to change it up, which I would have done anyway!  Just like to have permission whenever possible.

First of all, I wanted to go with a format which was not so tall.  I cropped it to work on a 20″x24″ canvas size.  THEN I decided to see if I could find a different face that I would prefer.  I DID, and superimposed that using Photoshop, blending and lightening to make it work.  Came up with this:


As I painted I got another idea.  Her little toe sticking up was cute, but I thought I’d like her looking at something more captivating.  How about a little fairy, perched on her toe?  I played around with that idea, deciding to curl the toe back down.  The fairy is holding something up to the little girl, but just what it is, is up to the viewer to decide!  Here’s a detail of that part:


While I was painting this one, I thought “Wouldn’t it be cute to have a matching ‘bookend’ painting, of a little BOY in the window?”  Hmmmm!  Rather than a fairy, perhaps he could be looking at a little dragon!  The search was on, which would prove more challenging than I thought!!  I had a difficult time finding any little boy sitting on a shelf or ledge (let alone a sunlit window!) but I kept looking.

I finally found a little boy leaning over to pet a dog.  The lighting was great, but he wasn’t sitting on a ledge, so had to find the legs from somewhere else.  I finally found an older boy on a window ledge.  So I played with that idea, making his legs shorter to match the younger boy.  Here are the sources for that:

Flicker-4-edit Legs-source

Of course, I had to reverse the little boy image as well, to put him on the other side of the window, giving the “bookend” look I wanted.

Then to find a baby dragon!  I found the perfect image, even though he was rather “mean-looking” and I wanted more cute.  But I’d work with that.  (My sister said “Well, he IS a dragon after all!  Aren’t they supposed to be mean?”  I thought…”Not THIS dragon!  I want cute and innocent!  :))


After a lot of manipulation in Photoshop, I came up with a painting plan:


Not perfect, but not too bad.  I could work with it.  One of the biggest issues was the lighting.  The sunlight is obviously coming in from the right of the image, yet the little boy is lit from the left.  That wouldn’t work!!  So I created the light coming from behind him and to the right.  Had to use my MSU on that one.  (“Make Stuff Up!”)  I tell my students that ALL artists have an “MSU” in Art!  🙂

I also liked the “turned up toe” idea, which I eliminated from the little girl’s foot, but decided to use here.  I changed the hoodie color to gray, and added a touch of red in a shirt tail.  Here are some details, including face details of both paintings:


 Face-Detail Face-det

…and here are the “Bookend Paintings” together.  I had to make some structural changes in order to incorporate all the features I wanted, so the windows aren’t exactly the same.  The little boy is a little smaller, since his feet are hanging off the edge, and I had to make him smaller to “fit”. Even with those inconsistencies, I still think they make a cute pair!

I plan to make giclées of “Tinkerbell” and “Puff” soon.

Here are the final paintings:

Tinkerbell   PUFF

As I painted, I got the idea for a name for each of them.
“Tinkerbell” and “Puff!”  Cool!  🙂


Painting Ron

Painting Progressions for Advanced Class

I decided to paint this photo I had of Ron, taken a few years ago in Fairhope, AL. I chose it because of its clarity and especially the interesting play of light. I was also fond of the subject matter!   🙂


Here are some progressions:

Brown tone: 5-28-14:


This stage helps set the values.  Although many of my students would like to skip it and jump right into the painting, this is a very important step.  For one thing, the toned background will help you to see the true value of the paint when you begin, rather than getting it too light (a strong tendency when applying paint next to white.)

Painting start: Day 1

That said, it can STILL be scary!  (Now, it wouldn’t have appeared so drastic if I had done a detailed value study on the face as well. But it does show that you shouldn’t be “afraid of the dark”!  🙂

sorry face_2


First Scary Strokes…


 By the end of the first day’s Demo, it looked better.  He still looked pretty dark though!  But if you have very carefully matched colors, and you like what you are working from, then just go with it, rather than second guess yourself.  As the painting develops, the initial effect will be altered by the painted surroundings.

Left side of face painted, initial coat:

Left side of face painted-initial coat

Day 2: Other side of face—first coat


Now, my students tell me they want to watch every stroke!  (That’s GOT to be B-O-R-I-N-G!)  But they say not!  So I try to move along as quickly as possible.

They also tell me they WANT to see any mistakes I make…well, trust me, I make them!  But I’m sure it is helpful to see that, and to know that if they go astray, then with diligent effort (and perhaps a little help here and there) they can succeed!

Still, it was difficult looking at this “detached head” all week!  I was antsy to move on!

Painting-Day 3:

I finally added the neck!  Still a ways to go. I did a bit of tweaking on the face, but it will not receive a true second coat until after the background is established.


Painting-Day 4:

My plan this day was to paint the jacket, and to demonstrate that even with a complex subject, like plaid, the idea could be suggested with minimal effort.  I started by blocking in the darkest areas, and then added some lighter areas.  Painting wet-on-wet is important at this stage, as I wanted it to “blur together” somewhat.  I finally threw in some of the smaller woven lines of the plaid, and added shadows representing folds of the fabric. It will receive more attention during the final painting stage, but is sufficient to establish the initial effect.  And the final stage will not be a LOT more detailed.  Just cleaned up a bit.

Detail section from the first coat on the jacket :


Now, this was very quickly done.  It’s really easy to get bogged down in the details, but try to avoid that…and stand BACK to see where it is…frequently!

Having done the plaid, I moved onto the shirt, and having done that decided “Well, I might as well throw in some of this background stuff, to see the overall look of it!”

And guess what!!  His face then appeared a bit washed out!!!   I saw now that the following week I would need to darken it a bit.

Day 4-End of Demo:


Painting-Day 5:

This day I spent revisiting the face.  I wanted to pull it together a little more with the overall values (i.e. darken and brighten it some) so it would pull your attention more than the background.

While doing that (repainting the face), I am always watching for little details that will better capture the likeness.  I saw that the top edge of his left eye might need to be raised a bit…things like that.

Day 5-Revisiting Face


Painting-Day 6:

This day I continued with small corrections I saw, as well as worked more on the hair.  There were interesting lavender lights cast onto it, as well as on the face.

Day 6-Revisiting Face-Painting Hair:


Hair Detail:



Painting-Day 7:

I continued to work on the little details.  Worked more on the mouth, and the important shadows in the corners.  Also brought up more of the cooler colors on the face.

Day 7-Face Detail:


Day 7-Overall Painting:


Painting-Day 8:

Mostly just tweaked things I could see on the face.  Added some more Magenta/Lavender highlights, and worked on the mouth and the neck, as well as feathered edges on some of the light transitions, especially on the chin and neck areas.


And Finally……….here is the final version.

Ron (Completed Painting)  8-26-14


Ron-Face detail (Completed Painting)  8-26-14


Pope John Paul II


Pope John Paul II has been very special to me.  After his death, I had prayed to him to assist me with some situations in my life which had been highly stressful.  He has always come through for me, in ways which, to me, were often miraculous.  I have been ever thankful to him for his intercession, and decided to create a painting of him.

My research for the painting started with many photos which were in the public domain.  I found a photo of the Vatican with the Tiber River in the foreground, and another photo of the pope in his later years, clutching the crooked crucifix which he always carried.  I took the dove image from an interior window of St Peter’s Basilica and superimposed it in the exterior cupola of the dome.  I painted the pope somewhat transparent, especially from the shoulders down.  This was painted on a 28×22 linen canvas.

When people come into the gallery and comment on it, I can tell the story of how it is my way of saying “Thank You” for prayers answered.  I am hopeful that this painting will move others to be touched by his gentle spirit, and perhaps give hope in a world which seems so much in need of that.

I have various sizes of giclées of the painting so that it can be more easily acquired by anyone who may wish to have it.

Memories of His Own

Memories-of-His-Own-for Blog

This portrait was created in 2012. A gentleman and his wife came into the gallery and I was intrigued by his face. He had a certain presence, and seemed both intelligent and distant at the same time. His gaze was intense as he viewed the paintings, and when looking at me, he seemed to look into me. He was simply dressed, with long scraggly hair. He had politely removed his tam when he came inside.

I asked if I could take his photo, feeling that I HAD to paint him. His wife was delighted at the idea, but took me aside and said “You know, he has Alzheimer’s; but he used to be very intelligent.” I replied that I could see that in his face. The gentleman was very accommodating with my requests as he posed. He was a great model! The light was pouring in from one side, and I was able to capture just the look I wanted.

Once home, I began my photo editing. I darkened the surroundings, keeping the suggestion of the bouquet of flowers which were on the table, and added a partial oval painting behind him of a young woman, but faded it out greatly. I decided on a 24×30 format. After a few months I achieved this painting.

There is so much we don’t know about the illness of Alzheimer’s. It is common knowledge that the mind loses its ability to remember things which have occurred, whether recently or long ago. But what ARE their thoughts? Can they relay them? Perhaps these are questions which will never be answered. Thus my title: “Memories of His Own.”

D. Arthur McBride Portrait Studio and Gallery

D. Arthur McBride-for blog


This site is being created for lovers of traditional art, whether you enjoy viewing it, or are a student, or a professional artist.

I have taught art classes to small groups since 1979. I currently have my own gallery in Havana, FL, where I teach 6 classes per week (four morning and two evening classes).  Some of my students are also professional artists, receiving commissions or selling their own creations.

In addition to teaching, I accept commissions and work on whatever may intrigue me at the moment. Some of my favorite themes are portraiture, equestrian art, Native American subjects, landscape scenes, and more.

I will be sharing what I have been working on, or perhaps a new idea, or an old trick which may be new to you.

By the way, Arthur is my maiden name.  My friends call me Darlene.