The Last Hollow Men:

R-The Last Hollow Men

The History: Here’s my part of the story. Tell me what you see and write the next chapter…

Back in the 80s, following the release of Pink Floyd the Wall, I started seeing these images repeating in literature, film, and painting… oddly I found these nihilistic sentiments repeated in earlier works going back centuries… I drew and painted dozens of such images, trying to deconstruct a common thread… they remain to this day, a mystery I have every intention of revisiting…

In the late 90s, I tried to reproduce in acrylic paint, what I had previously done in dry pastel on paper. Th add a layer of challenge, I made the canvas myself. It was a tough painting to complete.

The Technique: How I did this awesomeness!

Let’s start with the canvas. It’s actually many layers of jute, pulled over a wood frame, then gessoed way too many times. I use a piece of charcoal to draw the main images and then added layer upon layer of paint… it took loads of paint to fill in the very loose and holey jute.

I finished the shadows and highlights with a dry brushing… lot’s of dry brushing for anything to show.

In retrospect, I strongly suggest pulling the jute over a pre-gessoed canvas. You’ll still get the folksy texture and use much less paint.

The Influence: Confessions of a Plagiarist, sort of

Mainly it was too close a door on my Hollow Men. I tried to get some closure and realized I am still not done with these. The second influence was the American Folk Art that kept popping-up on the Antique Roadshow. I loved the stories and the look of them. I started getting books on the subject and trying to imitate the aged finishes. For the most part, I succeeded much more with my pottery, than my paintings.

This is my other brother Daryl… so buy The Artist’s Stuff: Prints, Mugs, T-Shirts, Pillow, Shower Curtains, and other awesome stuff.

Please Support The Book Project based on this feature: “The Creative Process” with a minimum donation of $1 / month and I’ll send you a free e-book copy when it’s published. 

What inspires an artist?

“All they see” is the first and most literal answer.

For me, that is literally hundreds of gallery & museum exhibits, thousands of books, and tens of thousands of images online. 

When asked where to start a book collection, I almost always recommend these art bibles: Janson’s “History of ArtOR Phaidon’s “The Art BookBoth give a nice overview with good pictures. Once you’ve discovered what you are attracted to there most, you can then dig deeper into that area.

If I had to pick only a few of my major influences, which is a very difficult task, it would be Modigliani, Picasso, Van Gogh, & Andrew Wyeth. Here are a few of the best books I recommend from them.


Modigliani: Drawings 102 Colour Plates

Picasso: Man & His Work Part 1

Picasso: The Man and His Work – Part 2

The Mystery of Picasso

Picasso Line Drawings and Prints 

Picasso Portraits

Picasso Sculpture

Picasso in The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Vincent van Gogh: The Lost Arles Sketchbook:   

Van Gogh: Complete Works

Andrew Wyeth: Looking Out, Looking In

Andrew Wyeth: Memory & Magic

Here are a few others from my personal library, I return to over and over again.

Léger: Modern Art and the Metropolis

SHAG: The Collected Works:

Original Sin: The Visionary Art Of Joe Coleman



Vilallonga: les lieux du rêve =: Vilallonga: cloister of dreams



Diego Rivera: Complete Murals 

If you have the time, you are free to visit my GoodReads library to see a fraction of the books I’ve read. The ones I remember, that is. Or you can visit the ever growing collection of images on my Pinterest account.

The Materials: Quick! Order this stuff right now, AND You too can make masterpieces!

Liquitex Basics Gesso Surface Prep Medium: The Review: I’ve tried all sorts of gesso and almost all work the same for me. This is an economical format and has been the best bang for my buck when I need it. I don’t suggest you mix it with paints or tints, but if I’m honest, I haven’t played with that technique enough to tell you it won’t work. The dusty finish is lots of fun to play with and could potentially add effects you may want to your paintings. My suggestion is to play with it and find what you like about it. nb: I put a sample of a different size as a link to buy some and you can get these in almost any size!

Burlap Fabric 60” Wide X 5 Yards: The Review: I’m not sure I’d recommend this for the application I applied it to. I used it for canvas to stretch over a stretcher… several times, in fact. It soaks up the Gesso in industrial quantities and then does the same to the acrylic paint. The material itself is amazingly robust and it was fun to paint on. If you are going to texture or a rustic look, then use it over a pre-gessoed canvas to save on materials and time.

Stretcher Strips Stretching Bars for Art Canvas Frames: The Review: At the start, I was making my own stretchers from pretty much anything I could. Some were, well let’s say less elegant than others. I found these bars and the process became much easier and sturdier. If you aren’t buying pre-made canvases, then this is the route to go, along with Cotton Canvas.

Amsterdam Acrylic Paints: The Review: I’ve chosen Amsterdam because the colors tend to be sharper and more vibrant. Also, it is relatively easy to find them in the more economical tubs, instead of the tubes. When I’m mixing or diluting the paint I’ve often gone for the less expensive Pebeo brand for its better viscosity. If you are working in a style that resembles impasto or using a pallet knife approach, then I strongly recommend using the Windsor & Newton brand in tubes, for the thicker and richest colors.

Nylon Paint Brushes: Here’s a great starter kit from Hero Neo, but Windsor & Newton make my favorites. The Review: There are many to choose from and lots of cheap ones out there, but you will want to aim for a little more when you see how fast the glue holding in the hairs fails with cheap brushes. I tend to have a fan, several flat heads, a large round head, and a fine tip for the lining. Play with them and see what works best for you. Make sure to stick with nylon to start and always be fastidious about keeping your brushes clean. It makes the difference between having a brush for only a week and having some for close to 30 years, like mine.

Varathane Diamond Exterior Finish, Water-Based Gloss:The Review: There are several reasons I love this product, and the interior finish equivalent: It’s relatively low cost, covers lots of surface area, allows for clean and super clear coatings, dries well to a diamond coat that doesn’t feel sticky to touch like most acrylic varnishes do, can be mixed easily with acrylic colours to make super thin hue coats, and cleans easily. It’s allowed me to achieve greater depth in my paintings and even resembling oily brilliance of using oils.

Photoshop for Mac:  The Review: You could use the free “ MAC Photos” program or Picassa and get similar results, but Photoshop offers you the flexibility of presenting yourself as a pro photographer, like no other program. There’s a reason it’s considered the best of the best, after all. So, this allows you the possibility of selling this service to others and funding more of your creativity

Apple MacBook Pro 15.4″ Laptop: The Review: You may choose to get an iMac for the bigger screen, and I couldn’t disagree with the beauty of working with the 24” screen. I picked the laptop, because of the need to be mobile and the flexibility of multi-purposing it to use for client demos. As an alternative to the weight of this model, I would suggest the MacBook Air 13”. Most of us have become accustomed to mobile device size screens and it is much easier to carry around.

Camera: Canon EOS Rebel T6 DSLR: The Review: My first DSLR camera was the EOS Rebel T3. This one is vastly superior to the old model. Canon has a well-deserved reputation of having top rated cameras. It requires a little play time to master it, and that time will be lessened by defining a clear idea of what you want to do with it, then jumping on YouTube for the multitude of How To videos. If you want a smaller camera to carry around, try Canon EOS M10 Mirrorless Digital Camera OR go small & powerful with the Canon PowerShot Digital Camera with 3-Inch LCD & built in wifi.

Canon PIXMA MX492 Inkjet Printer: The Review: For me, this has been the easiest to us for cleaning and cartridge replacement. It works reasonably well with recycled inks and the wireless is easy to set-up. The Canon has worked best for me on ink usage. When purchasing printers, always consider the cost of ink replacement… for the most part, this is the big difference right now in printers. For big reproduction lines, it is better to outsource. For scanning, they are as good as the camera in them… this is one reason I’m a fan of Canon products. It does do a nice job on printing photos on good photo paper, and the black print is crisp and clean, provided you do regular cleanings and keep it dust free.

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