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Viewing Blog: Raymond Thornton Artwork, Most Recent at Top
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A forum posted by Raymond Thornton discussing fine art painting and illustration.
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1. Recent Portraits

A little while ago I finished a couple of portraits for the Craig family. The above painting is of Dr. Jim Craig from Knoxville, TN. It is an oil on canvas and the size is 32" X 44".

Here is the second painting in the set of Mrs. LaVerne Craig and her dog Piper. This is the same size as the one of her husband 32" X 44". Both these paintings will be hanging on the same wall with a window between them. I was thinking of them as if they were a set. Since there are two fire places in their house we decided to use them as the background. I tried to keep the compositions basically the same thinking that it would make them feel more connected.

This is a portrait of Mr. Robert Taylor. Mr. Taylor is a CEO of two technology companies. One of the main things that he wanted in his portrait was to have a relaxed atmosphere and his watercolor painting of the old basket weaver that hangs above his desk. He told me that he has had that painting for years and whenever he is having a bad day he looks at that painting and it makes him feel better. The power of art.

This is a 18" X 24" head study entitled Dianne.

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2. My Painting is in the Art Renewal Center's 2013 International Salon Show

My painting, Lady of the Emerald Forest was selected as a finalist the the figurative section of the Art Renewal Center's 2013 Salon Show. This is the third year in a row that I have gotten it. The ARC Salon Show is an online exhibition with some of the top realist/representational artist of today. Here is the link to the show:

Here is a picture of my painting:

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3. 2012 Portrait Society of America's Members Only Competition

Last week I was on Facebook and I went to my timeline. I came across a post by the Portrait Society of America displaying the award winners of their Members Only Competition. I clicked on it and started going through the different images of all the winners. All of a sudden one of my paintings popped up. It was my painting called Natasha Waiting tha won an honorable mention. I was a bit surprised to see it. My first thought was, how did this get in there! I had forgotten that I entered it in the show. Then I remembered that I had also entered another painting in the Out of the Box category. So I found the post for those winners and started going through them; then that painting popped up too. I got a ninth place award for my painting, Pandora and the Tree of Knowledge, another happy surprise. I think in the future I'll have to pay a little more attention to the shows I enter. Here is the link to the PSA Members Only Competition page:


And here is their Facebook posts:



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4. Happy Halloween From Upir and the Monster Gang

Here is an illustration I made celebrating Halloween with some of the characters from my book, Upir and the Monster Gang. Upir and the Monster Gang is an illustrated novel written by my mother, Sharron Thornton and illustrated by me. If you would like to see more you can visit the Upir website:
Or the Upir Facebook Page:

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5. Oil Painters of America Eastern Regional Show 2012

Pandora and the Tree of Knowledge

I just got back from the opening of the Oil Painters of America’s Eastern Regional Exhibition which is being held at the Bennington Center for the Arts located in Bennington, Vermont. The show runs from September 29th through October 28, 2012. The goal of the Oil Painters of America is to display some of the very best representational oil paintings. Their shows are always very good and this one was no exception.  I was fortunate enough to have one of my paintings, Pandora and the Tree of Knowledge, in the show. I even got a nicer surprise when I won the Award of Excellence, one of nine awards given out for the show.

The juror was renowned Master Signature member Ken Backhaus. One of the many events was a three hour painting demonstration by Mr. Backhaus. He began by showing us two studies of a waterfall scene that he did on location. With a blank canvas, the studies in hand and a photographic reference, he was able to bring the waterfall scene to life in oils. Along with the demonstration he talked about his painting techniques which included subject, placement, lighting, and even the tools he used.

Later that evening was the opening reception and award ceremony. Here is a picture of me with Ken in front of my painting.

Here are pictures of the all the award winners:

First Place Masters Division
Charles Movalli 
Vermont Winter

First Place
Marci Oleszkiewicz
Aubrey's Red Flower

Second Place
Christopher Groves
At a Peaceful Place

Third Place
Paul Wyse

Award of Excellence
Charles Cox
Venetian Nocturne

Award of Excellence
David McLeod

Award of Excellence
Neal Hughes
July Air, Monhegan Island

Award of Excellence
Susan Ploughe
Potted Pansies

Award of Excellence
Raymond Thornton
Pandora and the Tree of Knowledge

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6. 1928 Video Demonstration by Philip de Laszlo

Here is an interesting video that I found while rummaging through YouTube, a painting demonstration by Philip de Laszlo. This silent, black and white movie was made in 1928. It has no sound, not even the old fashioned piano music they played during the Charlie Chaplin shorts.This may be one of the first filmed painting demonstrations.

Here is a little information on the history of the film archives made by Laszlo that I got from http://www.delaszloarchivetrust.com:
In 1926, when de László painted the portrait of George Eastman he was given out of gratitude one of the first motion picture cameras, the Ciné-Kodak model B, introduced in 1925. From then until de László’s death in 1937, the artist, his sons and his studio assistant, Mr. Harwood, filmed a unique record of his life and work on 16mm film, which was eventually sent to America to be processed. About twenty hours of film have survived. It was first rescued and put onto VHS tape by one of the artist’s grandsons, Martin de Laszlo, who spent many hours with his uncle Paul and father John recording their commentaries. The VHS versions have since been digitized and two DVDs have been created, produced by Tim Gates & Georgie Grandy:

When you click on the link, make sure that you click on the Film Archive on the right side of the home page in order to watch samples these old movies.

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7. Painting Demo of Shadowland by Raymond Thornton

My new painting Shadowland was initially intended to be a quick head study as I planned to use this same model in a larger narrative piece and this was going to be kind of a warm up painting. As I started thinking about the composition and what I wanted to do with it, I had this idea to add an abstract background. I wanted it to be in a greenish hue to counter the auburn jacket she was wearing. With that in mind, I decided to do a little bit larger painting. Now I will say that this isn’t really a demonstration, but it's more of my stopping points as I was painting. The seven pictures will give you an idea how I put a painting together.

 I started off  by brushing in a thin neutral wash onto the canvas. I do this just to get some paint on the canvas and also to get rid of all that glaring white. I then figure out where I want to place the figure to fit into my composition. Once that is realized and I know the size of the head, so as it is not too big or too small, I then begin to paint the block in. I start with one point of interest and then begin building out from there keeping everything in proportion. I try to keep my drawing accurate and start building my color pallet for the painting.

With the head blocked in I moved on down to the rest of her body. I’m trying to paint as quickly as possible while keeping the drawing as accurate as I can. I’m comparing the horizontal and vertical shapes to the parts I’ve already painted so I can put all the elements into their proper place. 

 With the body complete, I can quickly block in the background. I had a pretty good idea want I wanted to do with it in my head. I knew I wanted a simple forest that was more loosely painted than she was and a cooler hue with more greens and blues

With the block in complete and feeling that the drawing of her was pretty good, I now can go back in and clean up and refine the painting as a whole. I started with her face and just simply moved on from there.  

 The final bit was the background. I left this part for last because I wanted to play around with it a little. I was trying to use some thicker brush strokes and even used the palette knife some, which I don’t really use at all. I was looking for some interesting texture. After I had finished the background I decided to add the dead flowers. It seemed to me the painting needed something more where her hands were. The reason I picked dead flowers is because this model loves vampires and vampire books. With  the outfit I gave her to wear, adding the dead flowers seemed to give her that Gothic feeling. I kept thinking maybe she could be some kind of vampire that whatever she touches, she absorbs the life or essence from it. It’s a bit ambiguous, I know, but that was what was going through my mind and I painted in the dead flowers and it seemed to enhance the painting.

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8. Art Renewal Center’s 2011-2012 International Salon Show

My painting, Pandora and the Tree of Knowledge, has been accepted in the Art Renewal Center’s 2011-2012 International Salon Show.  

 The meaning behind the painting is a combination of the similarities of the myth of Pandora and the Biblical story of Eve. The girl in the painting represents Pandora who, like Eve, was the first woman on Earth. She was created as a punishment to man as Zeus wanted to punish people because Prometheus stole fire to give it to them. She was made from a lump of clay and life was breathed into her by the gods. She was then placed on Earth and told not to open the box. Her curiosity got the best of her and she opened it releasing all the evils in the world which were held inside. She closed it quickly with only one thing left in the box, hope.  In a sense the opening of the box was the first sin, just as in the book of Genesis God tells Eve not to take a bite of the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge, but being tempted by the snake, she does dooming mankind and getting expelled from paradise. I wanted to bring the two stories together. Pandora is opening the box with the Tree of Knowledge behind her. She has also already taken a bite from the fruit while the snake rests next to it. The Greek jar is there because originally in the Pandora myth she didn’t open a box, she opened a jar. It was changed in the sixteenth century when it was mistranslated to a box. I don't know if the story would have caught on so well if it was called Pandora's Jar.
The painting is in the figurative section of the ARC’s Salon Show website page. Here is the link:

If you go to check it out you may notice a few differences on how the painting looks here on my site. That’s because I changed a few things after I entered it into the show. I completely changed the box as I felt it needed to be more ornate and special looking for a mysterious magical box. I then added more vines and the bitten apple. I only wish I had made the changes before I entered it into the show, oh well that's the way things go sometimes..

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