Painting From Life at a Coffee House

I painted this beautiful man from life at Spider House Coffee here in Austin, TX.  I loved his dreadlocks.  Painting from life is always tricky, because you don’t know how long people will stay, or stay put!   As an artist,  I never rely on photography, but paint the figure “live”.

A Beautiful Man on a Beautiful Day at the Spider House

A Beautiful Man on a Beautiful Day at the Spider House

Here is another painting of the “Gentle Geek” that I did on a different day.  I painted him because of his delicate coloring and slender body. Also because he had  good cell phone manners.   He must be telecommuting.  He needs to know about Conjunctured!

I Painted this computer geek at Epoch Coffee.  The music is so loud at this coffee house (when my daughter is there she exclaims, “No Move Nirvana”) that it is difficult to concentrate.  However, I have done some of my best artwork here.

The Gentle Geek telecommuting at Epoch Coffee

The Gentle Geek telecommuting at Epoch Coffee


  1. ekwerkwe
    Posted October 9, 2008 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful indeed.
    I can’t figure how you get enough time to paint “the figure live”, as you say!

    Why do you prefer not to rely on a picture? I think I know the answer, but if you could develop (just à few words!) on your reasons? Please?

  2. Posted October 9, 2008 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    Hi, Ekwerkwe.

    I work really fast. The longest that I have painted on location at one time averages about 3 1/2 hours. If you think about it, that is about the length of time for a figure drawing class.

    In regards to the photograph, let’s apply one of the hippietastic tenants of Macrobiotics: “What has a front has a back”. When you work from a photograph, are not looking at the subject in its three-dimensional form. You are trying to do a rendering of a rendering, one step away from what you are trying to represent.

    A photograph drops out most of the mid-tones and transitional passages in a subject. Unless you have hours of painting the actual figure, it is hard to fake this part.

    Lastly, there is a grace and spontaneity when you paint from life.

    Thank you~Lavanna Martin

  3. Posted October 9, 2008 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

    compliments, is a nice blog…

  4. Posted October 9, 2008 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    Hi, Vincenzo.

    Thank you. Where are you located?

  5. Posted October 10, 2008 at 12:09 am | Permalink

    Wonderful work – or play – well, both. Wonderful.

  6. Posted October 10, 2008 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    Hi, Owen.

    Thank you. I’m having fun and working hard, too!

  7. Posted October 11, 2008 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    To lavanna :

    I’m italian(and my english is very bad 🙂 )

  8. Posted October 11, 2008 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    Oh, Vincenze.

    You could cause a lot of trouble in America. We find that endearing!


  9. ekwerkwe
    Posted October 11, 2008 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    Thanks for your response!
    Your reasons are quite what I had in mind, much clearer though!

  10. Posted October 11, 2008 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    Hi, Ekwerke.

    I hope to communicate the small bits of information that I gleaned in regards to painting the unposed figure in a public setting. It will give you courage;classes are expensive and staged. You might try your hand at drawing first. Or, I started out for years just tracing them with my finger.

    I talk about my progression on my “About” page.

    please keep visiting. You have very direct questions that make me think.

  11. Posted January 12, 2009 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    Lavanna, you are an inspiration. You get so much feeling in your paintings, and so quickly. But… how do you carry those fresh paintings back to your house/studio/whatever? I’ve seen your bicycle-pack organization, which is great, but wet oils?

    • Posted January 12, 2009 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

      Hi, Leroy.

      If I go by bike, I just closed up the canvas pad with the sheets still attached in the pad. Sometimes, I will have a friend with me, and they will take the wet canvas sheets home in their car. if I go by car and I’m by myself, I just toss them in the floor board, and the trunk – I attach them with bull clips to cardboard, canvas boards, etc. I hope that helps. The worst way to carry them is to close them up in the canvas pad. If I’ve done some particularly good paintings, I will call and friend to come and fetch them. Luckily, I have some very supportive friends!

      Thank you,


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