August Update

After a hot summer here in Chicago, August finally got me back painting after a few weeks of lying low. I decided to work on a series of alla prima paintings of my friend Mikaila von Merr. I wanted to play with looseness, simplification, design and controlled color in these pieces. I wanted to use less to make more.

Mikaila - 8x10" - oil - Anthony Cramer
Mikaila – 8×10″ – oil – Anthony Cramer

Here are some of the alla primas.

Progress: Mikaila - 8x10" - oil - Anthony Cramer
Progress: Mikaila – 8×10″ – oil – Anthony Cramer

April Update

Lately I have been spending most of my studio time working on a new series that I hope to begin sharing in the very near future. While working on this new series I have also done several more small pieces. This portrait study was done for fun while experimenting with some new ideas.

"Black and Red" Study, 8x10", oil on linen
“Black and Red” Study, 8×10″, oil on linen

Here are two new skull pieces as well. Both are 8×10″. More of a natural study, the first was done in normal daylight. I wanted to paint the piece as it appeared by the light of the window. The morning daylight out so many unexpected beautiful hues. It was a pleasure to be able to capture the impression in the early morning. Well, early for me anyway.

Anthony Cramer - "Window Skull" - 8x10", oil on linen panel
“Window Skull” – 8×10″, oil on linen panel

This blue skull began with the acidic reds and I wanted to use a strong blue to conceal some of, but not all the reds beneath. The thick strokes of cools and alizarin add even more vibrancy.

Anthony Cramer - "Night Skull - Blue" - 8x10", oil on linen panel
“Night Skull – Blue” – 8×10″, oil on linen panel

Next time I hope to share some progress on a new series of pieces I have started.


Skulls and Moths

 This year I want to share more from inside my studio and life around art. I’ll start with some of the pieces I have recently finished. In addition to skulls, lately I have been painting some moths after receiving a beautiful gift of a framed Ornithoptera Goliath Samson put together by Josh Hydler.

Death's Head Moth - Anthony Cramer, 2015


The first was a death’s head moth.  After enjoying the experience I then I wanted to play with more color, and did this one with reds, greys, and dashes of pink. Both of these pieces are 4×6 inches. The patterned wings remind me of the looseness and brushwork of one of my favorite painters Edouard Vuillard.

Pink Moth - Anthony Cramer, 2016

I have also continued to use skulls as a way to experiment with different aspects on painting that I am curious about. Both of these skulls are 8×10’s. The first is done to capture a more neutral and natural lighting situation, the second was less restrained and I played up the turquoise and blue’s of my lighting setup. Both skulls are for sale through the shop link.

Night Skull, Anthony Cramer, 2016

Night Skull, Blue - Anthony Cramer, 2016


Hannah in White and Purple Pt. 3

Hannah “Purple” – Anthony Cramer

The second painting I did of Hannah, was completed in a much quicker time period. I finished the head, with the exception of a few final touches in one afternoon. The thick paint, practice sketches and painting the previous portrait of Hannah all helped me to prepare for this one.

Initial block in wit charcoal to place shapes, and paint to get value and color.

Again I used thick paint, with a very small amount of medium for the block in. From the block in, I brushed more paint into the fluid wet paint, which allowed me to work the edges and push the values once I had the basic drawing down.

Tightening up the drawing and color.

Once the head was completed I loosely worked the coat, hand and background. I had to do several studies of the cherry blossoms color and value, eventually going back and doing one from life again. As I finished, I tried not to over refine sections of the painting. I wanted to keep some sections loose and the face to remain the tightest section. And just to show I was done, I put a gold frame on it.

Hannah in White and Purple Pt. 2

In my last post I showed the color studies I painted prior to tackling the finished paintings. Additionally, I worked out some drawing and composition problems before I began a very loose charcoal drawing in which I placed my big shapes on the canvas. From there I blocked in the head first trying to get the right values.

The very beginning strokes of the block in.

Loading my brushes with a lot of paint and just a touch of medium allowed the paint to stay wet for a long time, so I could work out my edges and drawing.

Refining the block in.

From here, I felt I had a good start and wanted to begin working out how the color of the blouse, hat and landscape would harmonize. Once I had those colors and values loosely blocked in, I was able to go in and refine the head to completion. It took a lot of tweaking, blending and refining.

Detail of “Hannah in White” by Anthony Cramer

Hannah in White and Purple

Last spring I did two larger paintings of the same subject for my recent show. I thought it would be fun to share some work in progress shots and a little about how I used photographs for reference. I knew that I wanted to do an outdoor portrait of the subject and we decided to meet before hand to pick out the clothing that I thought would best fit the painting. One thing that made this particularly easy was that I  had seen a picture of her in the big white floppy hat and I loved the way it changed the way the light fell on her face, so I had a starting point.

Color Studies for “Hannah in White”

After picking out the costume we went to Humboldt Park, a sprawling quiet park away from the noise of downtown Chicago. We tried several poses while I shot some photos. Eventually we decided on a simple straight forward look as she turned slightly away. Once the pose was chosen I set up and did a few couple of quick color-sketches in oil on an 11×14 panel (each took between10-20 minutes). After I had done the sketches, we began to walk toward the car, but I found a cherry blossom tree in bloom and asked if she wouldn’t mind posing for a few more shots . With a minor change of wardrobe, we tried some more poses, finally agreeing on her pulling her hair off her face.

Color Study for “Hannah – Purple”

These color sketches became invaluable in painting the two finished portraits. They allowed me to work out the fleeting color’s of the season and time of day without having to worry over drawing or getting too stuck on the idea of creating a finished sketch. The color that I captured in oil was both richer and more accurate to what I saw than any of the photos that I had taken. The two types of reference materials together helped to create  more vibrant and convincing paintings in the end. I will post more about these two paintings in the next few days.

Tetra Opening

Last night was the opening of “Tetra.” It was a really great show and lot’s of people came by to check it out. I was really happy to be able to show with three artist’s who are currently attending the American Academy of Art in Chicago. The show took place at the Palette and Chisel Art Club, where I originally met the other artist’s in the show: Adam Nowak, Hanna Amer and Lucas Bianchi.

Small Gallery – Palette and Chisel

Large Gallery – Palette and Chisel

Adam and Lucas at Tetra Opening