Sunday, December 2, 2012

Portrait practice

I have a friend at church who lent me a photograph of her son requesting a portrait be drawn.  I haven't done this in over a year now, so I am quite a bit rusty.  It took me much longer than I had originally thought, but here it is! The original and the drawing from the photograph.

Portrait of Libby's Son
Pencil and charcoal on acid free drawing paper

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

London, New York, Paris - Painting

London, New York, Paris.
8.5" x 11" acrylic on Canvas
Stephen Lursen
Canvas selected from my "Paint-like-a-pro: preprinted canvases" line


New York
Paint-like-a-pro: Preprinted Canvas
By Stephen Lursen
New York
A finished acrylic painting on canvas
from the "Paint-like-a-pro: Preprinted Canvases" line
8.5" x 11"
By: Stephen Lursen

Before and After pictures are here!

I just finished two paintings today.  I started out with two of my paint like a pro: Pre-printed canvases.    Today I chose the NEW YORK canvas and the THREE CITIES canvas.  I had a lot of fun transforming them into colorful creations!

I am teaching a class this coming Saturday at Donna Downey Studios in Huntersville, NC.  From 10am - 1pm.  The cost for the class is $40.00 and all supplies are included!  You leave with a painting of your very own.  The class is geared for beginner to intermediate level painters.  Someone who wants to learn to use color in an effective and thoughtful way, but enjoys the idea of having pre-printed imagery which takes out the guesswork of getting started.  Having fun and leaving with a beautiful painting is the goal.  When you sign up for the class you get to look over the pre-printed canvases to determine which one you want to paint on.  You then have the option of buying additional canvases afterward for the price of $15.00 each.

So, without any further a-du, here are my before and after images!

Three Cities

New York

Friday, November 9, 2012

Memories of Paris

     I have another image for my upcoming class at Donna Downey studios!

     This image entitled Memories of Paris is available for purchase or as a class.  The date for the class is Nov. 17th from 10am - 1pm.  Cost is $40.00 for the class, all supplies included.  This is one of many images you can choose from and paint to perfection as a stand alone piece or as one of many works that can hang on the wall like a collage of paintings.  The point is that you can have paintings on your wall that were painted by YOU!

     So without any further a-du, here is memories of Paris.  My before and after picture is coming soon!

Memories of Paris
Paint like a pro - print on canvas
By: Stephen Lursen

Thursday, November 8, 2012

London, New York, Paris

Brand New online video workshop!

Below is the old version of mine that inspired the new version and video workshop.

"London Memories"

"London Memories" is the name of a couple start up canvases I created for my Paint like a Pro canvas line.  The purpose is to give you a start, taking the hard part out of the painting, so that you can have fun with the color on top.  Use your creativity to make your own unique finished painting!

Now that I have these images, I can make my own examples of an end painting! I'm excited to show you very soon what I end up with. If you are interested in your very own canvases, please let me know or sign up for my class on Saturday November 17th from 10am - 1pm. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Stencils - before and after

Before - Owl stencil

After - Owl Stencil plus acrylic painting and extra fine glitter

Before - Lamp Stencil

After - Lamp Stencil plus acrylic painting and extra fine glitter

Before - Stack of books stencil

After - Stack of book stencil
I chose to keep this stencil very minimalistic and almost ghost-like in the painting,
to convey the message that mystery and imagination can come from reading.

Glimmering Light Painting

Glimmering Light
Acrylic on canvas with extra fine glitter.
My own hand-cut stencils were used in the production of this work.
18" x 24"

Detail images from my new painting Glimmering Light

Glimmering Light Stencils

I just finished this new painting today.  You might recognize one of these hand cut stencils from earlier in the month.  Well, here are my finished hand cut original stencils:

Monday, October 29, 2012

Dreams of Flying

This work entitled Dreams of Flying began with searching through mary Joe's Fabric store in Gastonia N.C. for a heavy duty fabric with texture and a feeling of age.  I decided upon a fabric, purchased it and brought it home.  The fabric was a light grey, heavy duty, linen with text sown in a dark textured thread.  For my taste the color was all wrong, but I couldn't deny the date 1756 sown in and the over all feel of age from the script.  

The first thing I did was stretch the new fabric over an existing canvas.  Then it was my task to change the color of the fabric.  After layers of thinned out acrylic paints, used more like a stain than a paint, I felt the background color would work.  After painting the background, I covered the entire piece with a layer of acrylic medium to seal the fabric.

I actually cut numerous stencils intending on using them on this work, but after experimenting with them, I learned the fabric was not rigid enough for my stencil process and thought about other ideas.  My wife Cara is a gifted seamstress in addition to her many other talents.  I found she had a collection of fabric scraps and I wanted this French looking red on white patterned fabric for my art. 

I then collected images of flying birds and cut them out to use as stencils for my fabric birds.  Cara helped with this because it was the first time I was cutting fabric to use in a mixed media artwork.  10 birds later and it was time to attach the birds to the canvas.  the first went on very slowly, hand stitched and sealed with acrylic medium.  after it dried I realized the acrylic sealed the fabric well enough that I didn't believe I needed to hand sew the birds on.  the other nine birds were attached by first laying down a layer of acrylic medium onto the canvas, then onto the back of the birds, and then to seal them on, I painted the medium once or twice more on top.  

In addition to attaching the fabric, the acrylic also seals dirt and dust out of the fabric so that the painting could be cleaned much more easily if something were to splash onto it.

I had the birds and I had the back ground, but the birds didn't pop. I painted around every bird with burnt umber acrylic paint to outline each one.  I blended the paint into the background to prevent the appearance of a simple contour line.

I liked it and for an hour or so, I thought I might be finished.  Then I went on and saw that today Google was honoring Bob Ross, the famous painter who painted on P.B.S. in The Joy of Painting.  I clicked on the image and was brought to a page of Bob Ross links.  I clicked onto the youtube tab and found the very first video was Bob Ross painting clouds.  That led me on an extravaganza of watching one video on cloud painting after another.  I moved from one artist to another and found one I liked very much.  He is an artist named Tim Gagnon.  I will embed one of his videos at the bottom.

Ultimately, I painted clouds and found myself very pleased. The last thing I need to do is build a frame and trim the fabric strands hanging off the edge.

I hope you like it.  If you have any questions I would be happy to answer them! 

Tim Gagnon's video:

Friday, October 5, 2012

New Endeavor

Throughout my schooling at Winthrop University, painting had been a variety of things. What started out as paint on a canvas via a paintbrush morphed into slinging watercolor onto paper, then canned spray paint, then painting with spray foam insulation for highly volumed and textured three dimensional wall sculptures.  In February of 2010 I had a solo show of these wall sculptures and I was dissatisfied by the physical response of the 60+ viewers who moved through the gallery.  They stood back from a distance without coming closer to examine the art.  This experience lead to a reactionary move back to drawing to achieve the detail I had forfeited in order to experiment with looser styles and materials.  I learned from my experiences and experimentation, that for me, I need to harness my imagery with detail, in order to say what I want to say.

Now in my painting.  I am thinking of ways to further incorporate students into my work.  Currently at Donna Downey Studios, classes are held multiple times a week and I have noticed that stencils are regularly used to add detail and imagery in a highly efficient way.  Stencils enable anyone to efficiently understand the process of imagery creation, if in fact the original artist incorporated stencils in their exemplified design.  But the problem for me is the limited variety in specific stencil templates that fit the direction I want to take.  Why does this matter?  Because I too want to teach classes on my art as well!

In conversations with Donna's husband Bill, he has encouraged me numerous times to stay true to my own form of art in all that that means.  He says this because he knows of my temptation to conform to how Donna works, for the sake of selling my classes which translates into dollars and sense to pay back the student loans.  Donna has proven her way is successful because it is a perfect combination of necessary opposites, challenge and ease, fun and work,  imagery and text, chaos and control, etc.  All understandable of course except that by changing my direction for a temporary goal, I rob the students themselves to learn anything authentic from me in our classes.  

So as a result of thinking this through I have decided to make a list of what I have learned so far in a very short time.

1. I want to create art recognized as my own.

2. I want to be able to teach others to make similar works in a class environment regardless of artistic backgrounds.

3. Artistic tools make art production more efficient concerning time.  (a digital photographer or videographer is able to achieve a finished product faster than film because no processing time is required.  An acrylic painter has less dry time than an oil painter.  A glass maker can make a work of art in only minutes because of the technology used. etc.)

So my conclusion? 

I have decided to make a series of my own hand cut stencils which will be used in the production of my next series of art.  These stencils will allow me to paint in a way that I clearly understand what I am doing, with the intention of communicating those steps and lessons on to others.  All-the-while, I will make paintings that I find very interesting and original to my own style and vision.

Here is an example of my first hand cut stencil.  This took me about 4 hours to completely cut out with an x-acto blade! Can't wait for a computer to do the job faster! :)

Detail of Stencil

Finished stencil.
Now onto the next stencil! I'll keep you posted.  If you come to my stencil class later in the month or in November, you will have access to using my hand cut stencils in your own works of art!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Watercolor Demonstration!

Watercolor painting – October 6th, 2012
Time: 1pm - 3pm
Where: Donna Downey Studios, Huntersville, NC.
Price: Free!!!

When I think of watercolors, I think “atmospheric, light, bright, vivid and subdued, Asian style, landscape, color fields, natural, and much more!”  Watercolors have been around so long and been used by so many different cultures.  Have you ever loved a watercolor painting and thought you wanted to learn how to do it yourself?

Stop in anytime between 1pm and 3pm, this Saturday October 6th, to get a brief lesson in how to use watercolor paint to achieve the look you want in a watercolor painting!  I’ll show you some cool effects that can be achieved by watercolor paint!

Shining Whimsy

Shining Whimsy – Date: In November 2012
Time: T.B.A. (3 hour class)
Where: Donna Downey Studios
Price: $50.00
All supplies included

Paint directly from the imagination.  Taking inspiration from artists from the past, the stars in the sky, and a love of whimsy, you can create a painting all your own.

Join me, Stephen Lursen, for an evening to paint a work of art reflective of your dreams, thoughts, and feelings without the hard rules of needing to represent something really specific.  I’ll help you express the image you want to make!  What makes this unique?!? In this painting you will actually be able to install a string of lights into the back of the painting. The lights will shine through holes drilled so that the image literally has lights like stars shining. 

This type of artwork is perfect for anyone with an imagination and a passion to light up the night!  In the daytime, while the sun shines, you can hardly even tell there are lights in the painting, but when all the other lights are out, this will glow!

Check out the Class Calendar @

"Nighttime and Dreaming"
Oil on panel with white lights inserted into the stars from the back.
20" x 36"

Paint Like a Pro: Preprinted Canvas Class

Birds, Flowers, and Cities – Select Saturdays @ Donna Downey Studios!
Time: 1pm - 4pm.
Where: Donna Downey Studios
Price: $40.00
All supplies included

When you think about your favorite things in life, can you sum them up in one image?  I can’t! When thinking about how to fill a wall in a way that really expresses who I am, I think of having a series of paintings hung like a collage on the wall.  They each relate to each other visually, but also vary to show my love of life in areas like world travel, wildlife, nature, and more!

Join me, Stephen Lursen, at Donna Downey Studios in Huntersville, NC, on select Saturdays (check the calendar @ to paint a work of art that will begin your love for painting and allow you to see the world around you in a fresh way! 

The goal of this class is to inspire you to make a whole series of paintings that are easy, make you happy, express yourself, and look good while relating to one another.  In this class I have designed a number of canvases that already have images printed on them to accelerate your painting process by taking away the fear of not knowing how to draw or what to do first.  That is already done! What you must draw from are qualities you have had all your life, like what your favorite colors are for instance.

When you reserve your spot for your class, you can pick out your image to start with from the ever growing options.  When you’re finished with your first painting in class or after, and you have a firm grasp on how it’s done, you can pick up more printed canvases from the store at Donna Downey Studios ( to complete your series installation; making your home a more vibrant expression of the life you want to see!

Here are some samples of the "birds" category.  Remember, you are going to paint over the imagery to transform it into a colorful painting of your very own!

Songbird: Preprinted version and my painted version

Songbird (another of my painted versions)

Poetic Bird: Before and After
Dowdy Owl Preprinted Version

Playful Panda (preprinted version)

Playful Panda (my painted version)

Butterfly Chase Preprinted Version

Butterfly Chase - One painted version

Contemplative Owl preprinted version


Vintage London Light

Vintage London Dark

Vintage New York City: Before and After

Vintage Paris