Category Archives: Painting

Nursery Mural

This 5'X3.5' acrylic on canvas is the decoration for a nursery, populated by storybook and fantasy characters. By Adam Maxwell Townsend
This 5’X3.5′ acrylic on canvas is the decoration for a nursery, populated by storybook and fantasy characters. By Adam Maxwell Townsend

When my wife and I decided to have a baby (a little girl due in August), I knew I had to do something special to decorate the nursery.

That’s why I put together this 5’X3.5′ mural populated with fantasy and children’s book characters. I’ll be filling in the correct constellation and poster on the door in the mirror, depending on when her birth sign is.

The medium is acrylic on canvass, which I tacked to the wall. I drew the sketch at about 1/8th scale, scanned it into the comupter and manipulated it so it was abou 4″X6″, and I then used an opague projector to throw it up on the wall and trace the lines.

See how many characters you recognize!

Two Paintings Mounted…

Two paintings by Adam Maxwell Townsend
Two paintings by Adam Maxwell Townsend; each 4’X’4 acrylic on plywood.

A client of mine recently mounted two of my 4’X4′ paintings on the wall of his home.

The one on the left is a portrait of the painting owner as a WWII soldier about to ambush a Nazi fortress from above as the German soldiers below drink and play cards. (The owner is a huge fan of Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglorius Basterds.”)

The one on the right I was actually going to destroy because I found it depressing. It depicts a bunch of notorious criminals and killers from throughout history, flanked by animated skeletons recognizing each other as if they were old friends. In the bottom corners are portraits from the crowd a famous lynch mob photograph.

I feel like I said what I wanted to say with that painting, but then it started to depress me. The more I thought about it, the more the depiction of these scumbags seemed like glorification, though I didn’t mean it as such.

Before I burned it, though, someone expressed interest and ask if they could have it, so I relented.

Either way, I think they both look cool together, and I haven’t previously posted photos of either of these works.

Preliminary Studies for Nudes Series

Preliminary sketches for a series of life-size nude paintings. By Adam Maxwell Townsend
Preliminary sketches for a series of life-size nude paintings. By Adam Maxwell Townsend

Sometimes the decision to create comes from the materials at hand.

In this case, I have about 125 square feet of extra dark, hardwood flooring left over from redoing my apartment. I can’t seem to get rid of it, so I’m going to assemble it into a series of surfaces for a series of life-sized nudes.

I’m going to let the wood grain show through in the background, and I’m going to be using gold leaf for certain elements.

Once each figure is done, I’ll be applying a coat of clear varnish, and then using a wash to add a patina, so the image looks ancient. Very iconographic. My inspiration for this approach comes from these early Christian portraits from Alexandria.

I’ll post them as I complete them. Right now, I’m assembling sketches during the figure drawing sessions at San Clemente Art Supply held every Wednesday.

I’m drawing the initial sketches in an 11″X14″ notebook, which I will then expand to life-size on the panel using the grid method.

NEW WORK: Stagecoach Robbers

This is a stage coach robbery that takes place in the antebellum South. Oil on canvas. 18"X24" by Adam Maxwell Townsend.
This is a stage coach robbery that takes place in the antebellum South. Oil on canvas. 18″X24″ by Adam Maxwell Townsend.

I came up with this narrative painting of a stagecoach robbery earlier this summer and finally had time to execute it over the last three weeks.

I’ll be displaying this for sale at my space in Five O’Clock Wine Bar in Long Beach starting September 19.

The robbery is taking place in the Antebellum American South. The robbers are an underground coalition of abolitionist terrorists.
They have received intelligence through their slave network that a family is going to be cut in two when the owner sells off the women and children to the plantation owner nearly a full day’s ride away in the neighboring state.

It turns out that this transaction was slated to take place at a cotillion hosted in the manor of the new owners. In addition, thanks to the detailed intelligence from the house slaves, the raiders know the seller will be leaving the estate late at night, likely drunk, with a chest full of bank notes and gold.

The robbers can’t stop the sale, but they can seize the cash to fund their operations.

I’m a sucker for painting action scenes and fire-lit night scenes; I like the way the orange and yellow vibrate against the blue and purple. It’s more dramatic.

I’m working on some commissions going forward, some of which are gifts, so I will not be publicizing them on this site ahead of time.

San Clemente Jr. Women to Auction Townsend Original

16"X20" Acrylic on Illustration board. By Adam Maxwell Townsend.
16″X20″ Acrylic on Illustration board. By Adam Maxwell Townsend.

I’ve donated a painting “Jazz #4” to the San Clemente Junior Woman’s Club to help them raise money for an art scholarship at their March Fire and Ice charity gala event.

(Buy tickets here.)

The money raised will go to help pay for art scholarships for kids at San Clemente High School.

The event is at Bella Collina Towne & Golf Club, San Clemente, 200 Avenida La Pata, San Clemente, California 92673, from 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. Saturday, March 21.

If you come, you’ll see me there — I’ve been recruited to snap photos pro-bono for the club’s website and archives.

Adam M. Townsend gets oily

"Crab 1" 8" X 8" Oil on wood panel. By Adam Maxwell Townsend. This is going to be a gift for the nursery of my friends' new baby due in April 2015. I completed this work in two afternoons.
“Crab 1″ 8″ X 8” Oil on wood panel. By Adam Maxwell Townsend. This is going to be a gift for the nursery of my friends’ new baby due in April 2015. I completed this work in two afternoons.

I have always avoided oil paints in favor of acrylics. I like the richness and instant gratification of acrylics because they dry almost immediately. More importantly, however, is the fact that they require no noxious chemicals are are thinned only by water and acrylic medium. This is a huge practical consideration because I have a small home studio. I live with a lovely, tolerant woman, however; she would put her foot down when her clothes and hair were constantly permeated with the stink of paint thinner and turpentine.

That’s why I was so excited earlier this year when I found out about water-soluble oil paints. These oil paints function exactly like traditional oil paints, but they are thinned with water. They are mixed with a detergent, the molecules of which allow the oil to bind with water droplets. You can thin this paint with water or an oil medium, you can mix the paint with traditional oils, if you choose, and the paint dries exactly the same as traditional oils because the detergent evaporates along with the oil and water. No fumes!

I had been working on an elaborate acrylic commission when I ordered my first set this summer, so I reserved their use as a treat for myself when I finished.

I did the small oil painting reproduced in this post in about two days. I’ve found a huge advantage to oils is that you can achieve the same effects with more fluidity, translucence and veracity than acrylics in just one layer of paint.

Consider the flesh tones of the boxers in the painting pictured: If I had painted this with acrylics, this would have taken me at least four layers to achieve with drying in between. With oils, however, you’re working in a single, three dimensional slick of oil, and you insert the pigments at different points within that medium. With oils, in other words, you can sculpt the form as a whole rather than layering colors in two dimensions.

I have a dozen or so small canvases and panels I’m going to paint in the coming weeks in order to get used to the new medium — including a nine-panel series of 8” X 8” nudes I plan to paint using the models at San Clemente Art Supply’s life drawing sessions.

Once I’ve completed these, I plan to start on a major, 4’ X 8’ work  in oils depicting a huge ancient Roman battle scene, or some similar subject.

For sale at the Holiday RAWk 2014 show…

Some of Adam Maxwell Townsend's paintings, pastels and prints for sale at the 2014 Holidsay RAWk show.
Some of Adam Maxwell Townsend’s paintings, pastels and prints for sale at the 2014 Holidsay RAWk show.

I’m getting all my materials prepared for the Holiday RAWk 2014 art show in Costa Mesa Dec. 14; a great chance to clear out my inventory in preparation for making more intricate and exciting paintings and illustrations.

I’m going to have 600 square feet of wall space, and I’m going to use every last bit to display my artwork and hopefully sell some; it’s been stacking up in my garage and it’s itching to be out in the world.

Most exciting to me are the 10 prints of my painting “Pirate Story” I’ll have for sale. This is one of my most popular works (the original is already sold) and it has been featured in FIND art magazine and gallery. The prints are all full-sized 15”X20” with an additional border, signed and numbered. These are the first 10 of a limited run of 250, and one of them can be yours for $125.

Also available at the show are some 5”x7” greeting/notecards I had printed up featuring my “Day” and “Night” nature illustrations featuring West Coast wildlife. For only $5 a piece, these are great as original Christmas cards, or just to have handy for birthdays or thank-you notes.

I’ve also raided my stash of original pastel nudes, five of which I’ll have on sale with prices ranging from $75 to $125.

My original work will be a little pricier; I spent dozens of hours on each painting and illustration and, well, you’re gonna pay for quality.  For example, “Jazz #5” and “Harem Painting” I’ll be selling for $2,500 and $2,000, respectively.

The “Pursuits of Man” pair are on sale for $1,000 each, or $1,800 for both (they kind of go together — shouldn’t be seperated.)

Remember, don’t forget to visit my profile on the RAW art collective website and purchase your ticket for $15 – buy it here.

See all the other artists, photographers, musicians and fashion designers I’ll be showing with here.

Finally finished with the “BIKER BAR” Commission

24"x36" Acrylic and ink on illustration board. By Adam Maxwell Townsend, Nov. 2014.
24″x36″ Acrylic and ink on illustration board. By Adam Maxwell Townsend, Nov. 2014.

I wrapped up the finishing touches on this painting Sunday. I used an orange art marker to lay the bricks over the blue-washed background of the bar.

See the my full Flickr slideshow of the painting’s progress from conception to completion below. Read my initial post about this painting here.

BIKER BAR in Progress…

Lately I’ve been hard at work on a commission. The assignment was for me to paint 11 figures of the clients friends, himself, his girlfriend and a blues musician in a fictional bar in New Orleans.

For the pictures, he provided me photographs of all the subjects. Needless to say this isn’t ideal, considering they’re all mostly front-facing busts and the composition requires a variety of different poses.

Not only do I have to rotate the heads in my mind and render them on the page based only on a photograph, but I have to create each of the figures mostly out of whole cloth with just a few generic references.

It’s always better to draw from life, of course, but this is a gift and a surprise, so it can’t be helped.

If you view the Flickr slideshow documenting my progress so far, you see I layered the pencil drawing first in primary colored washes. Then, I layer the paint so that a little of the underlying layer shows through.

This is a handy technique for creating atmosphere, and giving flesh a translucence. I use this technique for all my major acrylic paintings and illustrations, like “Jazz Painting #4,” “Harem Painting,” and “Jazz Painting #5

You’ll notice in the background I’ve added a marching band, spectators and a couple of women flashing their tits (these aren’t fully rendered as of this posting.)

If you look close, you can see little clues as to the location of bar, though most of these will be difficult to see until the painting is done.

For instance, the Fleur d’Elise is a motif throughout the image, among other clues.

The slideshow featured in this post will update automatically as I add more images documenting its progress. Shouldn’t be too long — I set a deadline to have it done by the end of the month.

JAZZ PAINTING #5

This painting by Adam Maxwell Townsend depicts a crowded jazz club with a full band and cabaret dancers.
This painting depicts a crowded jazz club with a full band and cabaret dancers.

This painting is the fifth in my Jazz Paintings series, and the most complex, depicting a crowded 1920s-style cabaret show.

Each of the spectators is a portrait of a friend or neighbor I know. If you look closely, you may also recognize the pianist. I slipped myself in there as the band leader and also as a spectator.

The mirrors on either side of the stage reflect the back of the club where you can see the bar and neon signs hanging over it. The light sources are from the stage and the neon signs, to a lesser degree; a difficult lighting situation.

Here’s my Flickr slideshow documenting my progress in this piece from conception to completion. (This painting is from 2012):

Here’s my Flickr slideshow showing all five paintings from the most recent to the oldest: