Here is my prop setup for my next painting, "Greetings From Laguna". The painting will tell a story of a young couple who has traveled by car to Laguna, taking a number of photos to document their stay.

The photographs are from a 1963 Kodak Instamatic 100 (sitting on the two newspapers), noted for their square format film. I've 'push pinned' them to the wall which will be my sky in the painting.

The couple arrived in Laguna in style, with their two toned convertible.

I'm using some old lettering off of a vintage postcard for the wording across the sky.

Here I am working on one of the photographs. Notice the rough layout (created in Photoshop) that I have taped to the canvas.

I took advantage of certain colors when I mixed them, applying the sky blue on all the photos that had a sky. I also painted the cast shadows, starting to give some dimension to the painting.

Here is a snapshot of the gazebo in Heisler Park.

The Hotel Laguna.

Bird Rock.

The City Hall/Firehouse.

Lawnbowlers in Heisler.

The Victoria Beach Tower.

Here is the grouping of the five photos, each pinned to the sky with a color push pin.

Here's a look at the entire canvas.

The Coke bottle is next. I've photographed it with a painted background, giving me a better idea of what the boardwalk and ocean look like through the glass.

Here's the bottle, sketched with its first coat of paint.

I've just added the preliminary washes for the Pottery Shack postcard, probably one of the most popular Laguna Beach postcards of its time. Notice The Laguna Greeter, Eiler Larsen in the upper right corner of the card. This is the statue of Larsen which still graces the corner of Brooks Street and Pacific Coast Highway, the original location of the Pottery Shack.

I've begun to paint in some of the lettering on the two local newspapers, the Laguna Beach Independent and the Laguna Beach Coastline. Since the lettering influences the reflection on the face of the camera, I've indicated it first.

The Kodak Instamatic 100 used the 126 film (Kodapak) cartridge. The image was 26x26mm giving the name 126 to the film. I've roughed in most of the black detail...

...and now the gray of the reflective metallic front.

With the camera done, the two newspapers could be finished, using shades of warm grays to show the curves of the paper surfaces. Their cast shadows are also defined.

Here's a photo of the entire grouping which, besides helping to tell the story, it serves as a design element on the left of the canvas, steering the viewer's eyes back to the focal point of the painting.

This photo is of the entire bottom of the canvas where I've just scrubbed in the street color.

The convertible is next. I keep my eye out for cool looking tin cars for use in my paintings. This one is by far one of the coolest. It still had the plastic windshield in place. The reds are defined first, along with the fine black detail lines.

Notice that I've added a wind up key on the trunk of the car. I want my audience to quickly realize that this is a toy. Using toys instead of the real thing allows me to have fun with my story telling and gives the viewer another element to reflect on.

Here are my models for the painting, Mr. and Mrs. Steven Beaupré (my daughter Hayley and her husband). They are posing out in the street in front of our house, just as Hayley has since she was a little girl... aaahhh, the time flies.

The clear blue sky is now blocked in, using a mixture of Thalo Blue, Cadmium Yellow and Permalba White. This medium light value defines the white borders of the photos.

Here's a closer look.

With the same color mixture, but darker, I've rendered in the ocean, defining the beach umbrellas and sun worshipers.

Here's the whole canvas.

A closer look at the lawn area...

...and the entire canvas.

The Laguna Beach Lifeguard Tower is one of Laguna Beach's historical icons. Originally part of a gas station built in 1926, the tower was moved to Main Beach in the 1930's. Although it has gone through a couple of major renovations, its architectural integrity has been maintained and it is probably the most photographed and painted structure on the Southern California coast. It will serve as the backdrop for my couple's photo session at Main Beach.

Next is the Laguna Beach Trolley. No one has made a toy of the Laguna Beach Trolley, so I used a vintage tin trolley from San Francisco. With the Art Festivals signage, I made it Laguna. I love the old graphics on tin toys. Notice that this trolley is full of real gentlemen, as they are all standing and the ladies occupy the seats.

This detail shows the beach umbrellas and beachgoers on the left side of the painting...

...and here's the right side.

Hayley is holding a bottle of Coke in her right hand and clutching both of the local newspapers in her left. Her blouse (alizaron crimson + cadmium red) and pants are beginning to be rendered along with some details defining her profile and neck.

With a few delicate strokes with a 00 sable bright brush, I've put in the flesh tones. The sunglasses gain their transparent look with the proper placement of small slightly contrasting values.

Look closely and you can see the grass reflecting into the shaded area on the back of her pants.

Steve's shirt is getting its definition with grays composed of French Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Sienna. I use a number 1 bright bristle brush for these coarse passages. His flesh tones (varying combinations of Burnt Sienna, Cadmium Red, Cadmium Yellow and Permalba White) are blocked in as well.

I felt a yellow hat worked better than the blue one he posed in, and I've made sure that I've reflected the warm of the grass up into his shirt shadows.

Here they are together!

The entire painting has been given its first coat of paint. Time to evaluate all the hues and values and begin the second half of the work.

I've applied the final 'thick coat' of paint to the grass, giving it a more horizontal movement. The ocean is also finished with the blue on the horizon transitioning to a lighter, greener cast close to the shoreline.

Here's a view of the entire canvas at this point.

You can compare this photo with the one just above, as it shows the change in the asphalt in the street, where I deliniated the darker oil stained right lane from the lighter parking areas.

The trolley is finished except for its cast shadow on the street.

Each photograph's white border has a lighter edge highlight, along with the rendering of each push pin and their cast shadows...

Here are the finished photos. The sky will be darkened slightly to make the lighter highlighted edges of each photo stand out.

The paint is applied with enough thickness to show the direction of the strokes. Although I am striving for something that looks very real, I enjoy showing where the brush has traveled.

The crispness of the shadow lines make them look convincing.

Even though the photos are relatively small, I've put in details to make them real, like the sky in the Victoria Tower. It lightens as it moves towards the horizon.

The Lifeguard Tower is finished. Not many waves today so the green flag is out.

I never tire of rendering Coke bottles. They provide an artist with light, shadow and transparent features that are all fun to paint.

The lighting in my studio is from above, so the top edge of each brush stroke catches a highlight and says "I'm paint, not a photograph!"

The paint on the postcard is also complete. Notice the slim highlight on the top edge of the card. Painting newspapers are a little tricky because the edges of the pages provide a network of small shadows and light passing through the paper. The light passing through the paper edges is painted in warm tones, just like a lampshade lit up a night.

Here's the finished grouping of objects on the left side of the painting. The woman is holding most of the objects in her hands while the man is using the camera to take their photographs. I enlarge these things to help tell a story. In this case, a story told every day in beautiful Laguna Beach.

I spent over a week just rendering this car and it was worth every minute. I decided to tint the windshield of the car with a greenish cast. The car was already very cool, but I thought it should have its own pair of sunglasses...

Here's a look at the lower part of the canvas with everything in the street completed.

This close-up shows the parking meter. Although most of these have been replaced with newer credit card meters, I've put in the old style which are more fun to paint and they help to portray the 1950's - 1960's slant that I have given the painting.

Painting figures on a small scale is always my biggest challenge. One slip of the brush and he or she has six fingers or a nose like Pinocchio. The final area to paint was the sky and with that done, here is...

....."Greetings From Laguna"