"Milo and Molly" 16x20" [SOLD]
This was a commission done for one of my close friends from college. This is the place inside the JMU Arboretum where Milo asked Molly to be his girlfriend, and I painted it for them to commemorate four years together.
"Hooker's Lake, New Zealand" 10x14"
I painted this from a reference photo of Hooker's Lake found on Unsplash.com by Andy Kerr (link to the original photo). I originally had just one guy like in the photo, but then I thought he looked lonely so I painted a friend and a dog to keep him company.
"Revisited: Red Cabin in the Mountains" 8.5x11" [SOLD]
I painted this a year after the original "Red Cabin in the Mountains," and I made it into a project to paint the same thing from a different perspective. Instead of the aerial shot, I moved the viewer to ground level. I aimed to keep almost all the details the same, from the mountains to the chicken coupe left of the house. Putting these side by side and comparing was an incredibly gratifying experience as I saw how much I had grown in one year of painting.
"Red Cabin in the Mountains" 8.5x11" [SOLD]
One of my earlier paintings, and one of the first ones painted from my imagination without a reference photo.
"Theron and Bailey" 11x14" [SOLD]
I worked with a friend to paint this commission of a cabin in the Blue Ridge mountains. You can read more about the making of this commission in an episode of Passion Projects that I wrote in January of 2018 (link to that episode).
"Adventures with Magenta" 3x3"
I was painting on a giant sheet of paper divided into mini boxes and experimenting with different colors and effects. In one of the boxes, I took a second look at how the purples and magentas dried and thought "That looks like a cave!" So I painted a border and added some explorers.
"Storm Breaking" 14x11" [SOLD]
"Ocean Point 3" 16x20" [SOLD]
To the right is the cottage in Boothbay Harbor, Maine where we grew up going to in the summers. It's now been in the family for four generations. I still have the memories of hopping on the rocks and catching baby lobsters and crabs with my dad.
"Colibrí" 11x8.5" [SOLD]
I painted this as an exercise in minimalist strokes. After looking at what were the most essential parts of the reference photo, I tried to paint as little of the original as possible.
"Hipster Abe Lincoln" 11x8.5"
I posted an episode of Passion Projects about how this painting came to be (link to that episode here). It was the first time I painted a portrait, and I chose a black and white reference photo from the internet at random. In the end, it turned out to look like a younger, more hip Abraham Lincoln, and it's still one of my favorite paintings for how it came from such a happy accident.
"Hobson's Cardinal" 14x11.5"
Aside Nitin's Cardinal, I painted this one from an instructional video by Ken Hobson (YouTube link) (website link). It was a great exercise to see how two different artists approached the same subject.
"Nitin's Cardinal" 14x11.5"
One of the painters I enjoy watching is Nitin Singh (link to his YouTube channel), and this is an exercise I took from one of his videos.
"View from Lyon - France" 8.5x11
Reference photo came from Umberto Rossini's painting of the same name. Find more of Umberto's work on his YouTube Channel.
"Aqua Revisited" 8.5x11 [SOLD]
The original eference photo was an oil painting called "Aqua and Ulua" by Brad Burns. I fell in love with the dramatic sky and complicated water. Though it was originally oil , I saw it was the perfect opportunity to turn it into a watercolor painting.
You can see more of Brad's art on his website http://brad-burns-art.mysupadupa.com/
"Mr. Blue" 8x8
Growing up my grandmother used to raise parakeets. I still remember "Mr. Blue" was the only one that would let me pet him, and since then I've always loved small, colorful birds. As she's nearing the end of her life, I've been thinking about her more and more lately. Even though this was one of the first paintings I ever did, it still means a lot to me.
"Lever du Soleil" 8x12
This is my interpretation of a piece by a French artist, Umberto Rossini. What fascinated me most about this piece is the process of painting the light. In oil painting or other media it's possible to paint on the yellow light last. It make intuitive sense that the light is cast on something, therefore painted on top. However in watercolor, you have to paint the darks last, so the process is backwards. I painted the sun and the light half of the mountains first, then painted the rest of the picture around them.
You can see more of Umberto's art on his YouTube channel.
"New York, Revisited" 11x14
As I was learning to paint watercolor, I began to follow a French watercolorist named Umberto Rossini. He makes videos of step-by-step paintings, and from seeing the first video I instantly fell in love with his style. This is my interpretation of his painting "NYC."
You can see more from Umberto Rossini on his YouTube channel.
"NYC Morning" 20x16
I painted this along with a watercolor demo by an artist named Iain Stewart. I noticed that he mainly painted with just three colors - blue, orange, and yellow - and I tried to keep to the spirit of the limited palate throughout the painting.
You can see more of Iain's art on his Youtube channel, as well as his website.
"Raining Color" 8x12
This was one of the very first paintings I did with my Crayola watercolor set. I did a series of watercolor animals I found online, where the goal was to simply paint what I saw. I chose this giraffe because the crayola colors were so wild and bright that I knew they wouldn't look natural in any kind of landscape. So I picked a painting where I could break the rules a little. Not to mention I loved the original idea (credit to Phillip Grein at boredpanda.com).
"Coming Home" 16x20
After a point, my brother who is also an artist encouraged me to buy some giant paper. "You do weird things when you have a lot of space to fill." This was the first time I'd ever painted something larger than a piece of printer paper. I spent an entire day doing nothing but painting, laboring over details such as the texture of the roof or the shadows on the mountains. "Coming Home" helped me appreciate the work that goes into such large pieces.
I found the reference photo on the web initially, and try as I might, haven't managed to find it again to give credit to the artist. If you've seen this before, feel free to write me on the CONTACT page.
"Beija-Flor" 8x8 [SOLD]
When I lived to Brazil, one of the things that surprised me was the abundance of colorful birds. In Brazil, the cities live in communion with nature, so you can see some of the most beautiful animals in your day to day. I've always loved hummingbirds, and they always make me think of my time in that country.
This is my interpretation of an original piece by Dean Crouser (www.crouserart.com).
When first learning to paint, I found a Chinese watercolorist by the name of Lian Quan Zhen. He uses a technique in his paintings where he pools a variety of colors, holds the paper up to his mouth, and blows them in all random directions. I love the chaos of this method, how beautiful and natural it ends up looking with no brush strokes.
This piece was inspired by a painting by Marc Allante (www.marcallante.com).
This was a rare experiment that turned out right. I laid a lot of color onto the page with mostly rough shapes, then came back with a dark brown to harden the edges and add contours. The beauty of this to me is that even though many of the lines are random, you take a step back and look at it, and your mind connects the dots for you. Random patches become shadows and rifts automatically.
Among the things I really like about this painting, I think the best one is the granulated texture in the aurora. That's a very unique quality of watercolor paints, and I think it fits the mood of this scene well. I also loved this particular palette of pinks, indigos, and greens working together. It's based off of an original painting, "Midnight on the Ice" by Colleen Newport Stevens.
"Lessons from Seoul" 8.5x11" [SOLD]
This piece was inspired by the Korean artist zazac namoo. He paints fantasy and pop culture pieces, and he has some really phenomenal work on his YouTube channel and on Facebook. I really admire his control of opaque watercolors, while many watercolorists stay true to traditional transparent paints.
"Endless Night" 8.5x11 [SOLD]
My take on a piece by the artist and author, Judd Mercer. He paints lots of fantasy pieces, and he inspired me to experiment with a new palette of violets, magentas, and indigos. The sky was especially fun as I would pour the pigment onto the wet page, then tilt the page around until I found the shape of the aurora. I'd encourage you to check out more of Judd Mercer's work on https://juddmercer.artstation.com/, as well as take a look at his illustrated novel, All That Will Burn.
"Ways from Mossy Creek" 5x12
I took up fly fishing as a hobby going to school in the middle of the Shenandoah Valley. Outside of Harrisonburg, VA, there's a small but famous trout stream called Mossy Creek winding its way through farms and hills. Some of my favorite memories are feeling stressed at school and deciding to drop everything and go to Mossy, back to nature. I'd leave class early, drive through the valley, and by the time I was on the water, I'd feel that same feeling of calm set in again.
This was inspired by the Shenandoah Valley where I spent so many hours exploring. Maybe one day I'll put my own red cabin on a hill, just a ways from Mossy Creek.
"Banksy's Crane" 8x8 [SOLD]
One of the things I do when looking for inspiration for new paintings is look to other artists. Reading a book on street art and graffiti, I came across a mural by Banksy of this paper crane. I loved the idea, so decided to take my interpretation and use some of the unique techniques of watercolor to give it more flavor. I masked the crane with tape initially, washed the wall with reds and browns, then used a dry-brush technique to give the wall texture. After removing the tape and painting the fish, I added some grass to look like a real wall you might encounter in a run-down part of the city.
"Lian's Crane" 8x8
I watched a master class by one of my favorite artists, Lian Quan Zhen. In it, he taught this unique technique of pooling several colors on the page, then blowing them sharply at a horizontal angle. The effect was an explosion of color, which he then painted around to make a crane standing in the water. In Chinese watercolor, a main stylistic difference is that it uses fewer, more intentional brush strokes. Therefore this technique blowing paint looks very natural since it produces a smooth, uniform layer of feathers.
"The Only Dock" 5x12
"Bayou" 10x14 [SOLD]
Steven Cronin was another formative painter for me as I was learning about watercolors. He has a very unique style where he uses a Japanese hake brush, a tool that's essentially the opposite of traditional small, soft watercolor brushes. He also uses a palette of earth tones, which mimic the climate and less-than-vibrant weather of his hometown of Birmingham, UK. The results are some really fantastic, dramatic landscapes and a style that's instantly recognizable.
You can see more of Steven's art at http://www.steven-cronin-art.com/
"Great Falls" 8x12
There's a certain technique in watercolor where you wet an entire page and pour color directly onto the page. You tilt the page, let the colors mix together naturally, and let it dry. From there, you take a damp brush and scrub off color in certain spots until you have a finished painting.
When I tried this, my first impression was that there were waterfalls hiding behind the color. I began picking out streaks of water and small trees between the cliffs. Last, I smoothed out the basin to give the impression of a reflection of a lake.
"What Lies Ahead" 12x12
This was one of the very first paintings I did with Crayola watercolors, and it was the first one I did where I realized I should push this hobby further. I look back at this one and think, "I'm just happy to be painting, to be doing something I love."
"Koi Painting" 8.5x11
I fell in love with this style of watercolor where you find just enough of the animal's framework to make it recognizable, then let the rest of the color explode in any direction it wants. This and the painting to the left were painted nearly one year apart to the day.
"Ocean Point" 8x8"
Outside of Boothbay Harbor, Maine there's a little town called Ocean Point. In the summers we used to go to the old family cottage, now five generations in the family. Some of my favorite memories growing up are from Ocean Point, playing on the rocks or catching crabs and lobsters. From the cottage, you can walk right onto the rocks on a morning like this.
"Ocean Point 2" 5x12
In this piece I tried to capture how the rocky coastline changes at sunset and how the rocks seem to come alive with a different palette of colors.
Click here to buy original artwork, or contact Zac to commission a piece.