Japanese toys from the 1950's always catch my eye.  This fire engine is no exception.  Three tin lithoed firemen are at the ready, speeding to whatever challenge is ahead of them.  This being a ladder truck made my day.

This vintage hot sauce label came from a 6 ounce bottle, but I'm going to redesign it to go on a large can.

I also purchased this Couch fire alarm box to help tell my story in this painting. This is the type of unit that I would see most often at school.

Here is the sketch for "Canned Heat." After climbing the ladder to the top of this can of hot sauce, this fireman wields his axe to the 'roof' of the can, letting the heat and smoke escape.

My long time good friend, John, agreed to pose for this painting. John's not only a friend and great golfer, he's an engineer with the Orange County Fire Authority.  He suited up in the station parking lot in between calls and we got a great pose for the top of the can. Thanks Johnny!

I am starting this painting on the background. Here I've painted in the fire alarm. The high lighting provides this object with some interesting shadows.

With a mixture of thalo green, burnt sienna and cadmium yellow, I applied a thin wash (mixed with turpentine) into the cast shadow on the wall.

Next, I scrubbed in the wall color.

I've applied the first layer of pigment onto John, detailing his uniform from top to bottom.

In this photo, you can see that I've modeled the smoke and detailed the metal top of the can.

Now, I'm working on the hot sauce can label. At this point, I've blocked in all the colors except the black.  Notice that I've altered each color from dark (left side) to light (right side).

The black areas make all the other colors pop. It creates the contrast in the label design that the artist intended to help catch the eye of grocery shoppers long ago.

Here is the can completed with its first passage of thinned down oil paint. It's hard to see the difference in light and dark within the black areas, so the lighter colors define this on their own.

Here's a look at the entire canvas to this point.

I've rendered the toy fire truck. It's a little rough, but I'll tighten it up with the final layer of paint.

Here's a closer look at the fire truck. Notice that I changed the number on the truck to reflect the fire station that John has on his helmet.

I mixed burnt sienna, yellow and a little ultramarine blue to get the hue for the ground.

You can see the entire canvas so far. Just the peppers need to painted before applying the final coat of paint.

Here's the yellow pepper. It's nice to have something organic in an image and the peppers provide that.

One more pepper done.

This closeup shows the peppers with the thin layer of oil pigment.

I'm halfway through the painting. All areas of the canvas have one layer of paint. Some areas are a little rough, but will tighten up with the final layer of paint.

I'm recovering from shoulder surgery and unable to lift my left arm to the canvas to assist my painting hand, so I devised this simple support to help steady my right hand when painting delicate detail. I didn't realize how much I used my left hand when I painted.

This photo shows the support that is attached to my canvas stretcher bar. I used a wooden stir stick from the paint store and cut a notch in it.

This angle shows the clamp that I have on both sides of the canvas to hold the notched wooden piece securely.

With the help of the support rod, I was able to continue painting the detail needed with this second and final layer of oil paint on the wall fire alarm.

This next step is one of the most important steps in this image. When looking at the overall painting up to this point, I've determined that the back wall isn't dark enough to help highlight the light struck areas of the fireman and the fire alarm. In the photo above, I've mixed a darker green (#2) and placed it along side of the fire alarm and see that this is just dark enough to make the right edge of the alarm pop with the increased value of the darker green. It's quite a bit darker than the first layer of paint, and it will force me to darken other areas to make this painting read correctly.

This photo shows the drastic difference in values between the first layer (#1) and the second layer (#2).

This photo of the overall painting now shows that the sun struck area of the wall is approximately the same value of the cast shadow from the fire alarm, telling me that I need to darken the cast shadow a great deal so that it reads as a shadow.

I've painted the cast shadow from the fire alarm, darkening it so that it makes the light struck areas of the wall look like they are in the sun.  Compare this photo to the one above for the radical change this shadow makes.

The fireman and smoke is finished.

Here's a closer look at the fireman. With the back wall darkened, the highlights on the fireman's helmet and his suit really stand out.

I've started painting the black part of the label, after completing the yellow and red areas. I painted those two colors first to help me determine how dark the black needed to be to give me the value difference necessary to make the yellow and black look lighter. You can see how much darker I've made the black as I've started in the upper left area of the label.

Here is the can with the black completed. The only thing left will be to paint the white lettering, which is glowing now because of the increased values of the areas around it.

Here is a shot of the lettering, darkened on the left and blended to a lighter gray/white as it turns to the light.

With the alarm, fireman and the can finished, I'll now turn to the toy ladder fire truck. I'll work from top to bottom, starting on the extension part of the ladder first. Here is is completed. Now on to the lower section of the ladder.

I've moved down the ladder and completed the entire fire engine, which took many days to get all the detail done with all the colorful parts of the truck.

This closeup shows the engine and the shadow under the truck.  Notice how the shadow goes from almost black to a lighter shade as it moves away from the toy truck. Light has the ability to bounce into the shadow in the open areas and is blocked out of the areas closer to the underside of the engine, causing those shadows to be much darker.

Here is a detail of the fireman that is holding onto the rope that rings the bell.

Although I ignored all the scuffed areas of the toy fire truck and made them look shiny and new, I decided to render the patina on the bell, with its rust and weathered finish.

The final grouping of objects has been given its second layer of paint. One more day of painting the ground under all the objects and "Canned Heat" will be finished.

This photo shows the final coat of paint on the ground.

Here is a "Canned Heat." Thanks for watching!