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
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.
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
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'.
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
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
is the view out the window and...
a close-up, showing the thin layer (reduced with
turpentine) of oil paint in the first
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.
gave the paper coffee cup a warm yellowish hue. I
like the way the 'stir stick' reflects in the
newspaper is roughed in along with the cast
shadow from the coffee cup.
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
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.
a close-up of the donut.
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.
close-up. Glazed this time...
now with their cast shadows, the two donuts stop
'floating in space' and settle down on the bag
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'.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
detail shows the man reading his paper and...
a look at the painting completely blocked in and
ready for the final paint application.
scene outside the window is finished.
completed the painting of the wall and the window
sill. The clock will be next.
darkened all areas of the clock to get it to 'sit
down' against the dark wall behind it.
just completed the sugar dispenser. Lots of nice
is also painted.
the creamer and sugar dispenser were drying, I
moved over to the right side of the canvas and
finished off the cup of coffee.
Los Angeles Times is also finished.
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
are done. Just need to paint the napkins/paper
bag and the man.
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!
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
hope you enjoyed the process!