Early on a summer morning (in Bellflower, California), when I was a kid, I'd hop on my bike and pedal a few miles down Rosecrans Avenue. I'd cross over the San Gabriel river bridge and into Norwalk, and roll up to the window of a donut shop. It was still dark outside, so I'd press my face and hands up against the window, and watch a baker work his magic. His donut cutter (attached to the palm of his hand) would go down into the dough and with a flip of his wrist the donut would leap out of the cutter and onto his thumb, knocking the center out of the circle. When his thumb was full, he'd drop them into the hot oil and then back to punching out more donuts, never missing a beat. It was like watching "cirque du soleil"... at least it seemed that way in 1959.

The glazed donut was my favorite, with the maple bar (we called them 'Long Johns') a close second. Coffee and donuts are as American as baseball and apple pie, and in this painting, I'm striving to evoke the feeling of nostalgia and the warmth of coffee and donuts in the morning.

I took this photo many years ago in San Franscisco because the vintage signage was very close to those I remembered as a kid. I will show the outside of the donut shop (at least the sign and surrounding building tops) through the window in the painting.

My image will show a businessman, before work in the morning (not unlike Starbuck's many visitors), enjoying coffee and donuts at his local shop while he reads the daily newspaper. The photo above shows the cardboard wall I made to simulate a window in the donut shop. It also shows me where the shadows would land if a wall or window was there. The man will be sitting on the end of the chocolate 'Long John'.

I've decided to put a clock on the wall above the sugar dispenser and stainless creamer, not only to show the time of day, but to act as a needed design element.

Here I've begun by painting in the scene that will be outside the window. The photo I'm working from is taped to the side of the painting area for reference.

Here is the view out the window and...

Here's a close-up, showing the thin layer (reduced with turpentine) of oil paint in the first application.

Up in the left corner of the painting is this bakelite 'Techron' clock. I've painted it in with the 7:23 a.m. 'coffee and donut' time... You might notice the cutout circle below the '12' and above where the hands connect. In the photo of the clock (four photos above) this cutout is red. This red dot would appear when the power to the clock was interrupted, letting you know that the time on the clock probably was not correct.

I gave the paper coffee cup a warm yellowish hue. I like the way the 'stir stick' reflects in the coffee.

The newspaper is roughed in along with the cast shadow from the coffee cup.

Here's a look at the entire canvas up to this point. It measures 33"x40". I haven't drawn the man reading the newspaper into the painting just yet. My son, Brady will be posing for me when he flies in from Dallas a little later this month. I should have everything but the chocolate long John and the back wall painted before he arrives. These two items will touch the figure, so I'll wait to paint them after I draw Brady into the scene.

I've painted in the pink cake donut with a #1 bright, combination hog hair/synthetic hair brush. I made a 'prop holder' out of a hand clamp that attaches to my easel with a 'squeeze'. That way I can have the 'real' donut close at hand.

Here's a close-up of the donut.

The glazed donut is 'blocked in' next to the pink donut, and without their cast shadows, they look as if they are floating on the canvas.

Another close-up. Glazed this time...

And now with their cast shadows, the two donuts stop 'floating in space' and settle down on the bag and napkin.

The sugar shaker has been roughed in. Notice the uphill slant of the sugar in the container. It slants up to the opening, showing that it is a 'working container' and not just a 'prop'.

I just finished the creamer. Without the dark background of the wall, both the sugar dispenser and the creamer look rather stark. They'll both blend into and pop off of the wall (visually) when I put paint on the canvas behind them.

My model (Brady) arrived from Dallas on schedule and jumped into his 'model clothes' just in time to catch the last few minutes of sunshine out on our driveway. I've used this spot for 30 years and it's gotten a little tougher to time the sunlight as it passes between a couple of trees that have gotten a lot taller over the years.

You can see where I've drawn the figure on the edge of the 'unpainted' donut. This allowed me to paint the back wall and window trim. If I decide to keep the wall this dark, I'll have to make some value adjustments in the wall clock, which now has 'jumped' off the wall with its strong contrast.

Peter Moehrle (an excellent artist and Assistant Professor of Art at Digipen Institute of Technology) emailed me and pointed out that my perspective outside the window was less than accurate when compared to the angle of viewing that I have created on this side of the window.

Well, I made a handful of adjustments outside the window so you can compare this photo with the one above. Two scales in one painting is enough for the viewer to deal with, let alone two perspectives... thanks Peter.

The counter top (floor for the man) has been painted in with a warm greenish hue, along with the chocolate 'Long John' and the man's cast shadows.

Here's an overall view of the canvas. Now to paint the man and the paper bag and napkins on which he and the donuts are resting.

This detail shows the man reading his paper and...

Here's a look at the painting completely blocked in and ready for the final paint application.

The scene outside the window is finished.

I've completed the painting of the wall and the window sill. The clock will be next.

I've darkened all areas of the clock to get it to 'sit down' against the dark wall behind it.

I just completed the sugar dispenser. Lots of nice thick paint.

Creamer is also painted.

While the creamer and sugar dispenser were drying, I moved over to the right side of the canvas and finished off the cup of coffee.

The Los Angeles Times is also finished.

All the cast shadows on the counter top and the greenish hue of the counter top are painted. Only the 3 donuts, napkins/paper bag, and the man are left.

Donuts are done. Just need to paint the napkins/paper bag and the man.

I completed the figure today. I always enjoy this part. Just a few shadows and some varying degrees of white for the napkins/bag and I will be done!

I've finished the painting and after letting it dry for a week, I coated the surface with a thin layer of retouch varnish to bring back the correct values in the dark areas that dried dull and lighter.

I hope you enjoyed the process!