Their mozzarella sticks are the best

“Their mozzarella sticks are the best” – 24ʺ ✕ 24ʺ – Acrylic, inkjet, and mixed media on canvas mounted on wood panel

One of the nicest parts about beginning a painting digitally - or with a printer - is that it’s easy to make two of something. This painting uses the same iPad painting from “French Toast” layered onto a different background (trees from my backyard, over a blue sky), but with a different approach.

“French Toast” obscures the portrait but here I let him free to be the center of attention.

I struggled to get this print mounted onto a canvas. The canvas, per usual, was just a little smaller than 24ʺ ✕ 24ʺ and I had to wrestle it into place. This particular canvas (pre-stretched, purchased from Blick) was a little bit slack - not tight enough. So when I tried to trowel it into place it was impossible to get all the air bubbles out from under the canvas. Ultimately I had to perform a little surgery, cutting through the print and reapplying glue to flatten out the bubbles. While the seam was nearly invisible, I was thankful to find that my overpainting covered it up entirely.

This problem has motivated to only do this kind of painting on wood panels from now on.

I didn’t have a fully baked idea for completing this painting. He lurked on my easel for a long while. Over the Christmas holiday I had the time to paint so I muscled through, knowing that once I got moving ideas would start flowing. I began with the background - revisiting easter-bunny-sunrise colors again, trying to leave behind just a little bit of the blue backdrop and some of the blobs of color I left behind.

When I’m working on one of these portrait studies - or anything really - I tend to paint a palette off to one side - it’s easier to adjust the colors (I can manually blend them if I want) and I can just grab them with the eyedropper tool instead of creating a custom palette on a tool bar. Usually these colors live on a layer by themselves, and they get deleted at the end. But sometimes I keep them around. I like seeing the “bones” of a painting.

Years ago, while commuting to Seattle from Tacoma by train, I painted a series of desktop background images. Mostly concentric shapes, circles, stars, etc, in alternating colors with hard edges and brushy colors. These images are the background of my browser or sometimes my iPhone and iPad wallpaper.

I’m very fond of those little wallpaper paintings and I that’s where I drew my inspiration for a big brushy star.

I learned how to create a 5 pointed star with a compass and a ruler. Thanks internet. I realized while researching how to create a big star, that the same technique is used to create a pentagon.

I flubbed the size on my first try, but I decided to leave the original pencil marks in place. I like seeing the bones of a painting. Once I had the inner border of the star inscribed I just added 2 inches to the width all the way around to create my second border. Then it was time for blue tape and paint


Now I just needed some visual interest, something that was incongruous but fun. What if I put a bird on it?

This was a fun painting exercise. Never in art school or my mural painting days did I have to figure out how to paint a bird. This little robin and his plump football shaped body was a treat. I especially liked how the colors move from bright blue to grey brown in no time at all.

And the title? Well I was painting a robin and thinking about the Red Robin chain of restaurants and that led me to mozzarella sticks.

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