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Let the Day Begin

Posted by Don Michael, Jr. on October 25th, 2014 in Events, Over the Under-Schmeerings

This past Tuesday night my artwork and I were featured at Grinder’s Pizza Lounge here in Las Vegas. It was a fun night of food, adult beverages, fellowship and painting. I hadn’t done a mask painting in several months and decided that since all of the works featured that night were of masks, I would actually paint one as well. Here I am getting started on my painting for the night…

Don at Work 2

Of course, since I was at a pizza establishment I had to sample their wares. Below, I am proving that I can indeed do two things at once…

Don painting n eating pizza

As the evening went along I made pretty good progress with the painting. I also ended up selling 3 of the paintings from my Eye Candy series, including Jelly Bean which my friend, Ashley (pictured below), bought. (FYI, I am donating 20% of all sales from Tuesday night to Cure 4 the Kids.)

Ashley n Don n Jelly Bean

I was very delighted to have my wife there with me. We had several friends stop by and ended up making several new friends as well. By the end of the night the painting was about 2/3’s of the way complete. Below, my wife and I share a laugh with our friend Erica towards the end of the evening…

Laura Don Erica

The rest of the week was quite busy with other art related adventures (tales for another day), so I wasn’t able to finish the painting until last night. Without further ado, I present Let the Day Begin

Let the Day Begin

Let the Day Begin – 20″x16″ – Acrylic on canvas – Completed 10/24/14

Now it’s time for me to head back into the studio. Until next time…



Posted by Don Michael, Jr. on September 10th, 2014 in Circus Couture, Over the Under-Schmeerings

I have had the good fortune to have access to some beautiful photos of some lovely athletes in action which were originally taken to be used in promotional materials for this year’s Circus Couture event coming up on October 5th. (I wrote more about this year’s event here.) The photos were all taken by the phenomenal photographer, Jerry Metellus. Both Jerry and the president/creative director of Circus Couture gave me permission to use these photos to paint from. So, I took them up on it… and… below is the third painting that has come from these photos…


Exuberant – 10″x10″ – Acrylic on canvas – Completed 9/9/14

(The model featured in this painting is the KA performer Lindsay Kazandjian, who has generously donated her time and talent to this year’s Circus Couture. I am honored that she approved of the painting… Phew!)

As I was painting Exuberant I started thinking about how much I enjoy painting these athletes and how the energy of their movements really play well with the energy of my Over the Under-Schmeerings (OTUS) style of painting. As tends to happen, those thoughts led to others… This time the train of thought took me back to the first time I ever attempted to include an athlete in action in one of my creations. Below is the result…


Bitchin’ – 17″x14″ – Serigraphy(Silkscreen) – Created July 1983

At the time I had just discovered serigraphy(silkscreen) as a creative medium and was having a lot of fun experimenting with how it worked with different subject matter. I’m still happy with the way this composition came out. The energy of the moment comes thru nicely.

Seven years later I was pushing the boundaries on a totally different medium and once again turned to athletes in action. This time the medium was watercolor…


Exhilaration – 14″x21″ – Watercolor – Completed July 1990

I’m not as happy with the results of this one. The energy of the moment is not conveyed very well. It captures the ‘moment in time’ pretty well, but the true drama of the moment gets lost. I was so focussed on the medium that I didn’t spend the time getting the composition right. Everything stops. Nothing keeps your eye moving.

Fast forward nearly two decades. My medium of choice had become acrylic paint. I had created a style of painting that I called Over the Under-Schmeerings (OTUS). My primary subject matter for over a decade had been masks. However, as I was preparing to create my second painting for Circus Couture I didn’t want to only include masks. I wanted to reflect the craft of some of the performers donating their time to generate funding for research and treatment of pediatric cancer. So, I went back to the aerialists…

Dare to Believe

Dare to Believe – 20″x16″ – Acrylic on canvas – Completed May 2011

This time I knew I had gotten it right! I immediately fell in love with how the energy of my Under-Schmeerings worked with the energy of the athletes. The raw nature of the strokes in the schmeerings really helped to add drama to the motion of the performers. At that point, I knew that I would be doing more OTUS paintings involving people in motion.

I have. And, here are a few of them…

Out of the Blue

Out of the Blue – 24″x18″ – Acrylic on canvas – Completed 12/8/11

Killer Instinct

Killer Instinct – 30″x24″ – Acrylic on canvas – Completed 1/30/12

Leap of Faith

Leap of Faith – 10″x10″ – Acrylic on canvas – Completed 7/20/12

Esprit de Corps

Esprit de Corps – 16″x12″ – Acrylic on canvas – Completed 8/18/12


Wherewithal – 20″x24″ – Acrylic on canvas – 4/16/13


Crush – 30″x24″ – Acrylic on canvas – Completed 5/28/14

Happy Creating!


For the 5th year in a row I will be donating a painting to Circus Couture to help raise funds for pediatric cancer treatment and research. I’m really proud of the fact that I’ve donated a painting to this event every year since its inception. I believe strongly in what they do and I know that even my small part can make a difference in children’s lives. I’m honored and humbled that the Circus Couture board has recognized the small part I’ve played over the past few years and has chosen me to be a featured artist this year during the live auction part of the event. Wow.

Each year Circus Couture chooses a theme around which the performances revolve. This year’s theme is “Unlocked”. As I prepared to create the painting to donate I meditated on the poem that they sent me titled, You Hold the Key to Your Own Cage:

A lock to keep it safe, a lock to make it hide
A lock protects the value of what we hold inside.
A key to find success, a key to open doors,
Keys perhaps to set us free toward all we hope and more.

Combining the words to this inspiring poem with my love for my family and my love for my savior, Jesus Christ, I came up with the following painting…


 Unlocked – 40″x30″ – Acrylic on canvas – Completed 8/25/14

The lovely models in Unlocked are Lora Kelsey and Kat Day. They are both Las Vegas performers who have donated their time and skills to Circus Couture. The reference photo that I used of those lovely ladies was taken by the outstanding photographer Jerry Metellus who has also graciously donated his time and skills to this wonderful charity event. The photo of the ladies comes from a promotional piece for this year’s Circus Couture event, which can be seen below…

The Gang-cropped

I loved the reflective nature of the gold makeup on the models and thought they would work really well in this painting. I also LOVED the pose of the ladies with their interlocking arms while looking in two totally different directions. After getting permission from both the photographer and the Circus Couture president/artistic director, Erica Linz, I got busy. I tweaked their coloring quite a bit to give them an ‘ethereal’ look, and then I put them in front of the open doorway with the whole world on display behind them.

But, before I did any of this, I needed to experiment to decide how I wanted to incorporate them in one of my Over the Under-Schmeerings (OTUS) paintings. So, I painted this little study of the effervescent Erica Linz from the same photo… (You may notice that Erica is the performer doing the backflip just to the left of center in the photo above.)


Effervescence – 10″x10″ – Acrylic on canvas – Completed 7/30/14

After painting this study, I decided to ‘tweak’ the coloring of the ladies for the painting Unlocked and make them even more reflective. As much as I liked the way Effervescence turned out, I felt Erica got a little lost in the schmeerings and wanted Lora and Kat to ‘punch’ a little harder visually. Like this…

Da Girls

The inclusion of the little Fisher Price toy has a two-fold purpose for me. Primarily, for this event, it represents the innocence of childhood and its boundless potential. Secondarily, and on a more personal level, it memorializes our son, Donald, who lost his battle with cancer last year. Donald had a green three-wheeled tractor that he rode like a wild man from the time he got it when he was almost 3 until he outgrew it a few years later. Here he is driving it around on the Christmas morning that he received it…

Donald n New Tractor - Christmas 90-lo res

Christmas Morning 1990

Last, and certainly not least, the cross hanging on the wall… I wanted to represent the key to the doorway. The key that unlocks everything. It’s been put to use. It’s job is finished.

The Cross

Unlocked (Cross detail) – approx. 10″x8″

So, if you’re not doing anything on the evening of October 5th, come on out to The Joint inside the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino and be entertained while helping to generate funding to treat children with cancer and other blood-born illnesses. It’s a labor of love put together by an eclectic, beautiful and artistic group of individuals. Click here for more details.

Circus Couture-Save the Date

Circus Couture – Save the Date card

Happy Creating!

Lead By Example

I was recently approached by one of the ladies in my church to create a painting for her to give to her husband on his first Father’s Day. Her husband is a good friend and is also one of the pastors in our church. I love that he has a HUGE heart for families – especially children. He had recently seen a painting titled, Love Over Time, by artist Hannah Jordan, and had fallen in love with it. To him it represented everything he wanted to be for his young son, and he’s even been using it for the masthead on his Facebook page. Below is that painting…

 Love Over Time by Hannah Jordan-lores

Love Over Time – by Artist Hannah Jordan

My client wanted me to create a painting very similar to Love Over Time for her gift to her husband, but in my style. You may think that this would make the process of creating my painting easier in that the concept was already fairly complete. However, this actually made the process quite difficult because I never want to copy another artist’s work outright.

Knowing my friend’s favorite colors I made sure that they were prevalent throughout the ‘schmeerings’ in the background. As for the elephants, I wanted the child to be copying Dad’s stride, but opposite. As anyone with children knows, young minds are a sponge, and they try to emulate what they see mom and dad doing. The results are often not quite right, but are almost always adorable. I also wanted to show the energy of the young guy trying to keep up with Dad by having his tail bouncing behind him while Dad’s tail is gently swaying. Below is what I came up with…

Lead By Example

Lead By Example – 9″x12″ – Acrylic on canvas – Completed 5/21/14

©2014, Don Michael, Jr.

So, you may ask, why am I posting about this Father’s Day gift two weeks before Father’s Day? Funny you should ask… Some people just can’t wait to share the gifts they have for their loved ones. So, this beautiful young family already has this painting hanging in their home. 🙂 Thank you, Martha, for letting me be a part of this fun gift… and, Happy early Father’s Day, Jeremy!

To every one else I say…

Happy Creating!

WindRidge’s Love

If someone had told me just two years ago that I would one day be painting animal portraits I’d have laughed out loud. Not because I don’t like animals, mind you, but because the idea had just not crossed my radar – at all.  Well, the laugh would have been on me, because I just completed my 4th dog portrait… And, I’m having fun doing it.

Windridges Love

WindRidge’s Love – 24″x20″ – Acrylic on canvas – Completed 5/31/14

©2014, Don Michael, Jr.

It is really a fun challenge to make these animal portraits work within the confines of the Over the Under-Schmeerings (OTUS) style of painting that I created a few years ago. Creating the illusion of the real colors of the animal while keeping many of the extraneous colors from the under-schmeerings is a very fun exercise. And, each animal has brought its own unique challenge to the process. Oh, how I love this thing I do!

I would like to thank WindRidge German Shepherds (www.windridgek9.com) for giving me such latitude in creating this portrait. Also, thanks for allowing me to post the daily progress of the painting process on Facebook. I had a lot of fun with it, and I’m really proud of how it turned out.

For those interested, here is how the painting progressed on a daily basis…

Jordan Commission Progression

Happy Creating!


Recently I was approached to create a painting that “includes a waterfall and a cross like your St. Jude sculpture”. The lady commissioning the piece had accepted Jesus Christ as her personal savior a little over a year ago and wanted me to create a piece representing that new birth. We hammered ideas around and I came up with the idea of having the waterfall flowing from the cross. When talking with the client she had mentioned that she had gotten a tattoo of a butterfly to represent rebirth upon accepting Christ. I think that is an excellent symbol for rebirth and wanted to include it in the painting. We then decided to include two butterflies – one inviting the other to follow it to the cross.

Stylistically, we decided that I would use my Over the Under-Schmeerings style. In the process of the painting I found that I needed to use my palette knife to create a gritty, bold and raw energy in the sky, the cross and the waterfall. I then finished up by getting very specific and detailed in painting the butterflies. I love the juxtaposition of the  very realistic elements against the expressionistic background – all in a surreal environment. Oh, how I love this thing I do!


Rebirth (John 4:14) – 12″x9″ – acrylic on canvas – Completed 5/12/14

©2014, Don Michael, Jr.

The verse referenced in the title of the painting, John 4:14, has Jesus saying, “But whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

How refreshing! How enriching! How sustaining! Praise God.

Happy Creating!

The Artist Pauses to Reflect and Consider

Posted by Don Michael, Jr. on May 4th, 2014 in Over the Under-Schmeerings

The first half of this year has involved a lot of intense reflection for me – on many levels. So, as I have a tendency to do, I took my reflections to the canvas. The following auto-biographical self-portrait is what I came up with…

The Artist Pauses to Reflect and Consider

The Artist Pauses to Reflect and Consider – 24″x30″ – Acrylic on canvas

Completed 5/3/14 – ©2014, Don Michael, Jr.

The working title for this one was, “The Artist Pauses as he reflects upon where he’s been and considers where he would like to go next”… I know, very wordy – and for me, a little too descriptive. Even with me ‘stripping’ it down it is still the longest title I have ever assigned to a painting. Anything less just didn’t work.

The lovely eyes that are looking over the Artist’s shoulder belong to a local talent extraordinaire, Nickole Muse. I met her this past December at the Circus Couture Charity Event. She is one of the few women in life that I have had to physically look up to – of course, the 4′ long stilts probably added to that effect. 🙂 Being a giant kid at heart, I took full advantage of the chance to give the lovely lady a low-body-hug. Thankfully, she didn’t slap me down or hit me over the head with that lamp she was carrying…

Don w Nickole Muse 120813a

Don hugs the Magnificent Nickole Muse

Anyway… Nickole and I became Facebook friends and I’ve been admiring her many escapades in costume and performance for the past several months. One day, when going thru some of her photos I found one that felt to me like it belonged in one of my paintings. Those eyes!!! Both Nickole, and the photographer, Robert Lopez, were gracious enough to give me permission to use it, and so I did… Thank you, Nickole and Robert.

Now, you may ask, what has this Artist decided to do next after his extended period of reflection and consideration? Why, paint more, of course!

Happy Creating!

Playing Cards

Posted by Don Michael, Jr. on April 14th, 2014 in Over the Under-Schmeerings

Last week I set myself the challenge of reinterpreting the faces on playing cards using my Over the Under-Schmeerings style. I started with a King…

Sword King

Sword King – 4″x4″ – Acrylic on canvas – Completed 4/11/14

©2014, Don Michael, Jr.

Then I painted a Queen…

Lady of Hearts

Lady of Hearts – 4″x4″ – Acrylic on canvas – Completed 4/12/14

©2014, Don Michael, Jr.

…and then, to finish up the family, I painted a Jack.

Knave of Spade

Knave of Spade – 4″x4″ – Acrylic on canvas – Completed 4/13/14

©2014, Don Michael, Jr.

My wife and daughter were both unsure of where I was going with this at first… until I had a couple completed. Now they can see what I’m up to. My daughter mentioned that she prefers seeing them together as a set as opposed to individually. So, I arranged them in order of ascending rank just for her.

Suddenly, a story started to unfold before me. I think the King had better pay more attention to his lady. Hopefully, it’s just harmless flirtation, but Jack better be careful…

Dysfunctional Family of Cards

Dysfunctional Family?

This was a fun detour. Who knows? I may revisit soon…

Happy Creating!

The Gift Called Grace

Posted by Don Michael, Jr. on April 8th, 2014 in Over the Under-Schmeerings

This painting that I just completed is an expression of my love for the city I live in… No matter the situation, there is hope to be found in the grace freely given by my savior, Jesus Christ. He carried our every sin and shame to the cross upon which He died. Thankfully, He did not stay dead. He arose and conquered death. Now I don’t have to fear it.

He stood in my place.

He stood in your place.

He stands between us and the judgment we deserve.

All you have to do is take that small step to accept His free Gift Called Grace.

The Gift of Grace

The Gift Called Grace – 24″x20″ – Acrylic on canvas – Completed 4/7/14

©2014, Don Michael, Jr.

The following lyrics are from the song A Friend Called Grace by Phillips, Craig & Dean. It was a source of inspiration for this painting. I hope you find it as beautiful and comforting as I do…

Tears dripped off of her crimson face
She covered her head tryin’ to hide her shame
Caught and condemned, now she can’t get away
Just a pawn in the hands of a Pharisee game

The noise and the rage of the frenzied grew
As they struggled for the power in an ageless fued
And as she softly cried, they again reviewed
The obvious fate of this ill-repute

Then a voice of love ended all debate
His words of hope sent the crowd away
The hand that flung the stars in space
Lifted her face and she heard Him say

Let Me introduce you to a friend called Grace
Doesn’t care about your past or your many mistakes
He’ll cover your sins in a warm embrace
Let me introduce you to a friend
A friend called Grace

The courtroom croud grew quiet and still
As the white-robed judge called Truth appeared
And the ring of the gavel brought a fierce debate
As the players of eternity decided my fate

In the light of Truth all could clearly see
The facts made the trial mere formality
And my accusers stood with baited breath
Confident conviction would end in death

But from the blood-stained cross to the witness stand
Walked a man with hope in His nail-scarred hands
The words He spoke brought me sweet release
He whispered “I’ve a friend that you need to meet”

Let Me introduce you to a friend called Grace
Doesn’t care about your past or your many mistakes
He’ll cover your sins in a warm embrace
Let me introduce you to a friend
A friend called Grace

If you’re tired of the guilt and the sleepless nights
And running from the shame of a wasted life
There’s Someone standing with an open hand
Waiting there to give you a second chance

Let Me introduce you to a friend called Grace
Doesn’t care about your past or your many mistakes
He’ll cover your sins in a warm embrace
Let me introduce you to a friend
A friend called Grace

(You can also listen to this beautiful and inspirational song here.)

Happy Creating!

The Way You Do

Most of this week has been spent preparing for this weekend’s Arts, Eats & Beats arts festival which will be held at Village Square here in Las Vegas. I will be one of 15 artists who will be featuring our work there on both Saturday and Sunday from 11am – 5pm. Village Square is at the intersection of Sahara and Ft. Apache.

During all this prep I was still able to get a couple of design projects finished up as well as this new sunflower painting…

The Way You Do

The Way You Do – 8″x10″ – Acrylic on canvas – Completed 3/27/14

©2014, Don Michael, Jr.

This painting will be one of several new ones I will be exhibiting this weekend at Arts, Eats & Beats.

Here is the official poster for the event…

Arts Eats n Beats poster

I hope to see you there.

Happy Creating!

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Copyright © Don Michael, Jr.