Thursday, November 5, 2009

Hello Again...

Johnson Lake / 12x36 / Oil on Panel

Gosh, it's easy to get stuck in the real world. I've been away from this blog for awhile but hardly away from painting. I was fortunate enough to attend the Weekend with the Masters in September and work with Quang Ho, Jeremy Lipking, and Kevin MacPherson. It was an amazing event--every minute was filled with opportunities to learn. Richard Schmid gave a slide-show presentation, and David Leffel and Jeremy Lipking did simultaneous demos of the same model. Panel discussions highlighted some of today's hotest art topics. And then there were the workshops! If you can swing the time and $$$ for next year, I would highly recommend this event. (Save up, though, it's not cheap...) Next year's location hasn't been published yet, but rumor has it that it's going to be back East somewhere.
The painting above (Johnson Lake) is where I go to walk most days. It's usually filled with people and their kids/dogs--not empty like I painted it above. After 2+ feet of snow last week--no kidding!--it's supposed to be in the mid 70's today. It's definitely time to get out for a walk, so I'm headed out the door.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Time Away

I can't believe it's been this long since I've posted something new. I think all my years of teaching make me feel like summer is time away, but that's not probably true in the blogging world. Several things have kept me busy and away from posting and commenting.

First, I had a booth at the Summer Art Market in Denver on June 13-14th. The weather had been quite stormy but we were lucky the first day--the hail missed us by five blocks. The second day ended early with funnel clouds appearing overhead around 2:30. I wasn't sure what to expect in the way of sales due to the economy--not to mention the weather--but I was pleasantly surprised and had a very successful show.

Second, my computer died. What a pain! Configuring a new computer is like trying to make a best friend overnight. It doesn't work. It simply takes time and I'm still not finished.

Third, I've been entertaining family, trying to get some painting accomplished, and doing a bit of traveling. I'm headed out of town again tomorrow for the next 10 days to Glacier National Park, and I'm looking forward to spending quite a bit of time plein air painting.

I hope you are all having a wonderful summer full of great painting. I'll be gone for a few more weeks. Until then, take care.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Inventing, and Different Strokes from Different Folks

Pennsylvania Country / 6x9 / Oil on Canvas Panel

This is my latest entry for Different Strokes from Different Folks. I struggled with this one. Not only is it difficult to invent color, it's difficult to invent a foreground and/or background. Often we wind up doing more inventing than we should. I think you have to be careful with that, but in almost every painting I wind up inventing something. Hey, it's painting, not photography. When I decided to turn this into a 6x9 I knew I would have to invent some sort of foreground in addition to the color. There are several things to think about when you do this.

First, knowledge of your subject helps. What do farms typically look like? From the air we often refer to them as "patchwork quilts," so I decided to divide up the space with rows of shrubs/trees. As I was creating "trees" on my little painting, my husband walked into the studio. "No way would a farmer do that," he said. "How would you get your tractor into the field?" He grew up on a farm in South Dakota, and I grew up near San Francisco. What did I know?

The non-existent farmer in me knew nothing, but the artist in me knew that I needed those trees not only to divide up the foreground into unequal parcels, but also to lead your eye to the focal point. So another method of inventing is to use all those rules of composition, etc. you've been learning. My husband's tractor movement comment was compelling, though, so I scraped and "planted" trees at least six different times. It's best if you can use your knowledge of your subject and art rules, but this time the art rules won and I came back to my original design. Sometimes art just isn't logical, or probably I didn't have enough knowledge of the subject to be able to create an artistically logical solution to the problem.

Inventing some color for the scene was a bit easier since the values were in the black and white photo. But once again, it's art. Do you want a high key painting? Do you want to make it more dramatic and use the entire value scale? What's the mood that you're trying to convey?

It's hard work making all of these decisions, but every time you make a decision and try it out you learn something new to add to your painter's tool kit. Artists refer to this as "problem solving." Typically your non-painter friends refer to this as how much fun you must have getting to paint all day. I usually judge my fun-level by how the painting turns out and today was not too much fun. But I must have learned something, right???

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Daniel Sprick and Backlighting

The Artist / 8x8 / Oil on Panel

I was quite fortunate to attend a two day workshop last weekend with Daniel Sprick. The first morning was spent with a slideshow and lecture as well as a drawing demo, and the rest of the time was spent painting from the model. In addition to helping people with their paintings, Daniel also began a painting of our model with backlighting. This was just beautiful, and I learned so much not only watching him paint but also seeing how he mixed his colors and used various mediums. When he put the rim light on the figure I knew I had to try my own backlit painting. The 8x8 painting above is a study for a larger version I hope to finish soon.

Hope you are having a wonderful Memorial Day weekend!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Ken Caryl Valley 8x10

Ken Caryl Valley 8x10

I am fortunate to live quite near this lovely valley in Colorado, and this painting is the result of an early summer morning's plein air experience. The spring green created by the sunlight shining on those distant trees is hard to imagine.

This valley is full of beautiful red rock outcroppings and has been inhabited for a very long time. In fact, if you started digging on the southwest side of any of the larger rock formations, you would be amazed at what you would find. For many years I taught anthropology to high school Seniors, and I always brought my classes to a dig site very near here that was being worked by the Colorado Archeological Society. We'd spend several Saturdays carefully
digging in the dirt, learning all the ins and outs of what it meant to be an archeologist.

The students never failed to find artifacts, and over the years as the digging got lower and lower the objects got older and older. The look on their faces as they held their newly-found object was full of pride and amazement, and I remember one student saying of his artifact, "I'm the first person to hold this in 1500 years." Many of my students became hooked by this experience and went on to study anthropology and archeology in college.

So this is a very special place to me for many reasons--lots of good memories, beautiful scenery, and much pondering about the people who lived here so very long ago. You should come and visit sometime.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Spring Bulbs and Quang Ho's Still Life DVD

Spring Bulbs / 9x12 / Oil on Linen Panel

OK, I know in my last post I said I was going to do more landscapes and cityscapes, but I guess I lied. I spent lots of $$ and several hours last fall planting new spring bulbs, and they finally started blooming about a week ago. I simply couldn't resist painting them. I'm not sure if this is finished or not--I always have to look at it a few days later--but for now I think it's done.

If any of you are interested in learning how to set-up, light and paint still life, I would highly recommend purchasing Quang Ho's latest DVD "Painting the Still Life." I just got my copy on Saturday and have already watched it a couple of times. I'm a sucker for art instruction DVDs and I own a lot of them. This one has lots of good information and is appropriate for beginner through advanced. It is well worth the price.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Windmills at Kinderdijk, the Netherlands

Windmills at Kinderdijk / 6x9 / Oil on Panel

Yesterday I tried to channel my inner Ken Auster and paint the New York Taxi challenge for Different Strokes from Different Folks. Today I was "working" on Mike Workman and trying to create more of a tonal landscape. Even though the sky is overcast, I wanted a feeling of warmth and light coming up through that grass, so this one has a yellow ochre underpainting.

When I started this blog I was getting a little tired of painting traditional still life, and so my original purpose was to give myself a chance to experiment with different subjects and styles of painting in order to choose the one I liked best. So far what I've found is that I like them all, but for right now I've decided to focus more on landscape/cityscape paintings.

For the past two years I've been doing a lot of plein air painting, and although I think that's the hardest kind of painting there is--think bugs, quick moving light, wind, people looking over your shoulder, etc.--I also think that's the best way to learn. You're painting from life and you have to move quick. No slow-pokes in that arena! You're constantly trying to judge values and mix color, pick it up on your brush and plop it in the correct place. Not an easy feat, and when I went out last week I actually had someone standing behind me snapping photos while I painted. At first it really bothered me, but then I decided that it was forcing me to focus only on the painting. Yet another learning experience...

So my current goal is to continue to paint looser and work on landscape/cityscape paintings that convey a sense of place and (hopefully) a definite mood or emotion. Stay tuned, though, because I'm also taking a bunch of figurative workshops in the next few months.

Finally, I truly appreciate all your positive and kind comments about my art work. You are all so talented that it means a lot to me that you even look at my work, let alone take the time to comment. But if there's something you notice that you think could be better, please don't hesitate to make a suggestion or two for improvement. I'm all ears, and I'm here to learn.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

New York Taxis

New York Taxis / 8x6 / Oil on Cradled Panel

I missed the last two challenges for Different Strokes from Different Folks--just too busy getting the new studio together and catching up on some of my own paintings. I love the photo that Karin Jurick posted for this new one, so I decided to get it done now rather than wait. The buildings were a bit of a struggle, but painting the taxis was great fun.

I painted this on black gesso, and the black really helped with the shadows under the taxis, etc. Because I started with a black surface, I found myself painting the lights first and then working into the shadows. Very different for me, but something I'm sure all you watercolor folks are used to doing.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Narcissus and Green Vase

Narcissus and Green Vase / 8x10 / Oil on Linen Panel

Here's yesterday's attempt at narcissus. I always get the edges too hard and then have to go in and soften everything. It's much better to do it the other way around!
I received the "Passion for Painting" award from several wonderful artists over the past few weeks. I apologize for not getting to this sooner, but here goes:

First of all, go to Gwen Bell's blog and read her latest--it's guaranteed to make you laugh! Scroll down to see all of her amazing paintings and sketches--especially her latest entry into Different Strokes from Different Folks. (I must admit, Gwen, I decided to take a pass on that one. Good for you!)

Next, please visit Liz Holm's blog to see her beautiful work. She is currently showing "Trixie," her latest painting in the Art for Animals Project. It's such an amazing painting that you think you could reach right out and give Trixie a hug. Don't forget to scroll down to see all of her beautiful portraits!

Finally, visit Arthur Simo's blog. Arthur is a teenager with autism who creates some of the most amazing artwork I've seen in a long time.
Arthur's work has a folk art look, and we can all take lessons from Arthur on color, composition and simplicity. His mom writes the blog for him, and I'm sure we could take a few lessons from her as well.

Seven things I love:

1. My family. I don't know what I would do without them.
2. Painting. I'm not sure what I would do without that, either.
3. Chocolate. Ditto on the can't live without part, although I periodically try...
4. A good book. Novels, non-fiction, whatever. I'm a life-long learner.
5. Travel. Kinda goes with the life-long learner part.
6. Good food. Especially if someone else cooks it.
7. Warm weather. Gosh, it's still getting down to the 30's tonight. Where is spring???

I'll post my seven blogs to award tomorrow.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Road Home

The Road Home / 8x16 / Oil on Linen Panel

I spent the morning working on a still life of narcissus in a glass vase with chiaroscuro lighting. Although I love narcissus, I should know by now not to paint them. I become obsessed with all the ins and outs of the petals, and before you know it the painting is tighter than a rubber band on a pony tail. Accuracy is good, but more and more I'm finding that it's much better to be interesting--perhaps even mysterious--than accurate.

To compensate for all that intensity, I decided to have some fun and play with an old unfinished painting. The first version of "The Road Home" was a light and shadow landscape with okay shapes but not enough light and shadow to make it work. I put away all my reference material and focused only on shapes, values, composition and color. My goal was to create an emotional response instead of a photocopy. I'm really happy with this tonal version. More importantly, I had fun doing it!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tea Party and New Studio Photos

Tea Party and Hydrangeas / 18x24 / Oil on Linen Panel

This is my first painting in my new studio--finally! :-) I'm trying to create a softer look but am still tempted to go back into the flowers a bit. I want this painting to be about the tea pot, though--and not the flowers--so I've decided to leave it the way it is for a few days. I'll probably find a few things to touch up, but I think it's mostly finished at this point.

This is my new studio. It's 14x28, and this is the west end. I'm in the basement, but the good news is that the previous owner installed 9 ft. ceilings. What a bonus! There's a 9x4 storage closet with shelves for panels and frames beyond the sink.

I've got three fluorescent fixtures in the studio with a mixture of warm and cool bulbs in each. Each fixture is on a separate switch, as is this bank of four recessed lights. There is another bank of four recessed lights at the other end of the studio, plus an additional three over my desk. I'm sure the contractor thought I was a bit wacko with all the lights and switches--you might, too--but since I'm in the basement I wanted as much flexible lighting as possible. The under cabinet lights are also on a separate switch.

One of the things I did in my old studio area was rip apart a cardboard box and nail it around the lights over my easel. That way I could have plenty of light to paint with and still keep it off the still life set-up. I've purchased some black-out roller shades and am planning to install them in the new studio on the ceiling around my easel--the idea is that I can raise and lower them as needed. The first painting worked okay with the spotlight on the set-up, the east end lights on and the west end lights off, but I know it will be better with the shades. I'll post a photo when I get that accomplished!

This is a good view of my painting and set-up area. In the far corner (hidden by the easel) are a couple of old bookcases full of still life props.

Several years ago I purchased a couple of hospital bed tables and have used them for a variety of things. They are really versatile since they raise and lower plus roll. I've used them for still life set-ups as well as my palette, as you can see here.

I plan to put a couple of 8 ft. long ledges (1"x3") on the back wall so that I can get wet paintings out of the way. I'll post a photo when I've got that finished so you can see. Also, for those of you who gave me all your wonderful flooring suggestions, it's hard to tell what I wound up with from this photo but this is the garage flooring from Lowe's. It comes in 20"x20" tiles that interlock, so it was easy to install (no glue) and added some comfort plus warmth to the cement floor. Best of all is that I'm not worried about messing it up. If worse comes to worse, I can easily replace a tile.

This is the east end of the studio with my desk, file cabinets, etc.

This is the other corner of the east end. I plan to install a hanging system on this wall so that I can showcase framed paintings.

Thanks for taking the "tour." This studio has taken fourteen years of dreaming, three months of construction, and way longer than I thought to actually make the move. I've been busy!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Bluff, Utah

Bluff Sunrise / 8x8 / Oil on panel (sold)

Our basement/studio remodel is still not 100% complete. I guess that's just the reality of construction. My studio is about 98% finished. Still a little flooring to do and some lighting issues to resolve. I've moved in but haven't painted in it yet. My husband and I decided to get away from it all for a few days and go someplace warm, so we drove to Phoenix on Thursday-Friday.

We spent the night in Bluff, Utah, and as we walked across the street to a little coffee shop for breakfast the sun was coming up.
High fog, and lots of dust in the sky created the scene above. I quickly snapped a bunch of photos and yes, I finally got to paint today. Phew! I'm better now.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Apricots and Brass

Apricots and Brass / 10x20 / Oil on Linen Panel

Where does the time go? I thought a week would be ample time to get my studio moved and get back into my everyday routine (I like to think I have a routine...) I was wrong. It's been ten days and I'm still not quite settled, but sometimes I guess you just have to let the birthing go at it's own pace. Right? Unfortunately, this attitude seems to be going head-to-head with my control issues.

The problem is that I haven't painted in over two weeks. Do you get cranky when you can't paint? Do you feel just plain "weird" when you can't paint? Do you get a strange, achy feeling inside when you can't paint? Do you feel disconnected to the universe when you can't paint? Do you want to tell everyone to get lost and spend the next 72 hours alone in front of your easel?

Tomorrow, I'm going to paint. Come hell or high water, last minute taxes, bills to pay, family needs, meals to cook, laundry, etc., I'm going to paint. And I've also been tagged by a couple of wonderful artists. I will get to that as well.

What happens to you when you can't paint? How do you feel? What's your strategy to get through those times and still be sane? I'd love to hear from you.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Moving Days/Daze

Copper and Oranges / 8x16 / Oil on Linen Panel

I finally began the moving process into my new studio yesterday. I've been painting in an extra bedroom on the second floor of our home, so moving everything down two flights of stairs is great exercise. I've still got to address the floor issue, but for now I've decided to use a porch and floor paint to make it look a bit more finished and add a few mats to make it more comfortable. I think I need to live in the space awhile before I make any final decisions.

I really appreciate everyone who took the time to share their studio suggestions and experiences with me. When I get everything moved in I will post some pictures and share how I deal with lighting (which is a much bigger issue than the floor!) Until then I'm going to take a few days off from blogging so that I can get everything done and get over my end-of-construction head cold.

Have a great week!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Studio Flooring Options--One Last Plea for Help...

Peonies and Pitcher / 9x15 / Oil on Linen--private collection

My new studio is almost complete. It's 14x28 plus an additional 9x4 storage closet. The last inspection should be on Thursday, and at that point I'll have to make a final decision on the flooring. If you've been following my blog for awhile, you know how tormented I've been about this decision. I'd like to get it right the first time, and my studio is in the basement so I'm more than a tad concerned that it (and especially the concrete floor) will be quite cold during much of the year.

I tweeted and facebooked and got lots of input from artists all over the world--everything from horse trailer mats to laminate, tile, stained or painted concrete, commercial vinyl flooring, epoxy and garage flooring products. No one suggested carpet, which didn't surprise me.

Interestingly, most people who chose tile wished they hadn't, although no one really said why. The artist with horse trailer mats said they were really comfy and easy to keep clean. This sounded good to me, but they are not cheap and are either gray or black. Laminate either got great reviews or poor ones. Some people just loved it, but others said it chipped and dented.

I was tempted by one of the commercial vinyl products I saw at Home Depot. It required little or no floor prep, came in 1'x3' strips and looked like tile. I could install this myself, and it would be easy to clean--but not much warmer than the concrete and certainly no softer. (Armstrong Traffic Master--$2.09 sq. ft)

I found some interlocking garage floor tiles that looked promising. These were about 3/8" thick, (not the squishy ones for exercising,) and would have been the easiest to install, a bit warmer and more comfy than concrete. Only gray and black, though--or special orders colors that were way too bright. ($6.50 for a 20" sq. at Lowes)

My niece suggested sticking with the concrete and getting an electric fireplace as an additional hear source. Ah, ambience... Not a bad idea. Today I found out that you can put heating mats under laminate. This is very tempting, but also very expensive--$10-$15 a sq. ft. for the heating mat, plus laminate. Even though you don't put the heating mat under the entire floor, this would add up quick!!!

So, I'm still stuck, and I either have to make a decision very soon or move into the space and move out if I want to add flooring later. If you've been brave enough to read to the end of this post and have any final suggestions, I would love hearing from you!!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Three Pears

Three Pears / 9x12 / Oil on Linen (sold)

I haven't gotten to my easel in a couple of days so the painting above is one I did about a year ago. I am still dealing with the studio construction which I thought would be complete by now. If you've lived through construction, you know how frustrating the last few weeks can be...

I got tagged a couple of days ago by Cathyann Burgess. She has great work and tips on her blog, and also a beautiful portrait that she posted yesterday. You can check it all out at Cathyann's Studio.

According to the rules of the tag, I'm supposed to post five random things about myself and then tag other artists, so here goes:

1. My Washington, DC gallery just bit the economic slow-down dust. Consequently, my house now has additional paintings floating around and I need to find another gallery. I've decided to take a bit of time before I do that, though, because my paintings seem to be changing a bit. I used to paint very realistic still life, and now I'm finding that my work is looser and I'm paying more attention to the abstraction of the painting as a whole. (See March 9th post.) I like this new trend and I'm excited about where it might lead me, so I want to give myself some time to create a newer body of work.

2. Gosh, that last one was wordy, so here's a short one: I had a tooth pulled recently. Ouch!!

3. Not only am I obsessed with painting, I'm obsessed with the color teal. In the olden days before the name "teal," my favorite crayon was blue-green. Cinderella's dress was always colored blue-green, and now it's all over my house (tastefully done, I hope...) I find this color to be very peaceful.

4. I have a wonderful recipe for brownies and I've made it so many times that I have it memorized. Wait, I'll be back in a few minutes...

5. OK, I'm back and the brownies are wonderful. Wish you were here to share one, but since you're not I guess that means I get to eat yours.

If you're interested in more random facts about me, you can check out my Feb. 10th post. Now, on to the "tagees."

The two artists I would like to tag are Sandy Sandy (yes, that's her real name,) and Deborah Paris. Sandy is multi-talented--watercolor, sketching, photography, and more. She actually has several blogs, so make sure you look at her list of links--especially her Art for the Animals project. She's a busy lady!!!

Deborah creates some of the most beautiful landscapes I've ever seen. They are very soft and a little more on the impressionistic side. Deborah is also a busy lady and has a framing business as well as her art work. (Mountains Edge Frames) These are high quality, closed-corner frames at very competitive prices.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Tiffen Black and White Viewing Filter

I know it's best to keep my plein air paintings to five values--or fewer if possible--but
if you're like me you're overwhelmed by the value range you see outdoors. A helpful tool I've found is this "Tiffen Black and White Viewing Filter." Looking through the viewer eliminates the color in your scene, so consequently the values are much easier to see and combine. The viewer has a little handle and you put it up to your eye like a monocle. It is attached to a cord, so you can hang it around your neck and easily grab it whenever you want to check those pesky values. It's small, lightweight, and also comes with the nifty pouch you see in the photo. The cost is around $30 and it's available online through several outlets--just google "Tiffen Black and White Viewing Filter."

Hey, the weather is getting warmer and you know you're going to do some plein air painting soon. It's the hardest (in my opinion) kind of painting, so why not make it a bit easier?

PS Don't forget the bug spray!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Sushi and Black Mirrors

Sushi / 5x5 / Oil on Cradled Panel (sold)

Here's my entry for Karin Jurick's latest challenge on "Different Strokes from Different Folks." I love sushi, and this makes me hungry just looking at it.

Yesterday I promised that I would share another mistake-finding tool that I use. Have you ever heard of a black mirror? Neither had I until I took a workshop from Laura Robb. This was back in the mid-90's in Aspen and it was my very first "away from home" art workshop. Needless to say, I was a bit over my head. Laura had set up about ten small still-lifes with different lighting on each one, and we were to paint as many as we could. I nailed the first one and was so proud, but then I got to the second one (which was back-lit) and I simply could not see the values. I can't remember if she showed me a black mirror or just described it, but I dutifully made my own when I got home and it really helped me during those first years of painting.

I made mine with an 8x10 piece of glass from an old photo frame, but you could also use plexiglass. Paint one side of the glass with black acrylic paint so that the glass is completely covered. Let that dry and cover the painted side with a piece of cardboard. Wrap the edges of the glass and cardboard with duct tape and you've got your own black mirror. If you look in the "mirror" at your set-up and your painting, it's easy to compare the value relationships and see where your painting has gone astray. It's also useful as a drawing tool, because reversing the image fools your brain and the mistakes just pop right out at you.

Tomorrow I'll share a helpful plein air painting tool.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Abstract Shapes, and Finding Mistakes

Yellow Vase and Oranges / 6x6 / Oil on Cradled Panel (sold)

I try to get together with a couple of painting friends every Sunday for some camaraderie, art conversation and a quick still life or plein air session. A couple of weeks ago we painted this yellow vase and oranges, but when I got home I immediately wiped everything off. The drawing was wrong, and I had gotten way too fussy with a pattern on the cloth.

Courtesy of Don Gray's post on Friday, (March 6th,) I decided to give it another go today and spend more time thinking about the abstract pattern of the shapes and values. After messing around a bit, I said good-bye to the pattern and added the horizontal dark strip to balance the strong vertical of the vase, orange and peel. It may be hard to tell from the photo, but I also played around with my palette knife and did some scraping and blending. I often forget to use the palette knife as a painting knife, but when I do I'm always pleased with the result, so I intend to do that more of that in the future.

When I think I'm close to being done with a painting I take a photo of it.
For me, it's like looking at the painting with fresh eyes. In the photo above I can see that the value of the reflection of the orange and the peel on the vase is too light. I also noticed that the highlight on the handle could be a bit more curved to match the curve of the handle.

I have to be a bit careful in using the photo, though, because sometimes the photo is wrong. For example, the highlight on the right hand orange looks too light, but in reality the camera has read the light value of the orange as darker and the highlight is fine. In short, the camera is one tool for finding mistakes--just like using a mirror, turning the painting upside down, or putting it aside for a few days.

Tomorrow I'll share another tool that I've found helpful.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Gray Day on the Slopes

Gray Day on the Slopes / 6x6 / Oil on Cradled Panel

March is supposed to go in like a lion and out like a lamb, but you never know when you're in Colorado. It's normally our snowiest month, but Wednesday was 76 and we set record highs for three days last week. Today we're back to winter, and as I look out my window I can see big flakes falling from the sky. Winter's grasp is short at this point, so I decided to pay homage by painting this tonal ski slope. I was tempted to add a few skiers, but thought the lonely feeling matched the gray skies.

PS Don't forget to set your clocks ahead tonight!

Monday, March 2, 2009

One Step at a Time

One Step at a Time / 5x7 / Oil on panel (sold)

I thought I would be able to post photos of my new studio by today, but the finishing touches are taking a bit longer than I expected. I still haven't decided on the flooring, but I have decided to give myself more time to decide. Phew! That said, I feel better. I'm just going to take everything "one step at a time!"

It's lovely here in Denver today--in the 70's. If you're in the Northeast US, I hope you're enjoying your snowfall. If you want to be inspired by some beautiful snow photos, visit Sandy Sandy's Web Log.

Finally, thanks to all the new visitors to my blog. I appreciate all your comments and feedback!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Aspen Grove

Aspen Grove / 4x4 / Oil on Cradled Panel (sold)

I spent yesterday trying to decide what type of flooring to put in my new studio, and consequently did a fair amount of driving back and forth between Home Depot and Lowes. Late in the afternoon I noticed some sure signs of Spring--green grass has started to pop up, the tops of the aspen trees have some serious buds starting to grow, and the tulip and iris leaves on the east side of my house are visible. Yahoo--I love Spring! (Although it's a bit early--global warming, anyone???)

Those aspen buds reminded me of a photo I took last fall in Rocky Mountain National Park. Since I didn't have much time to paint, I decided to do the little 4x4 above.

Many of you have been kind enough to share your flooring thoughts and experiences via email, Facebook, and Twitter. I've narrowed it down to two choices, but I'm still having commitment issues so I'll share my flooring thoughts and decision tomorrow. For now, I'm going to try to get back to my easel and paint. Hope you're having a great, almost Spring day out there!

PS Any thoughts about the font size in a blog? This size seems small to me but allows more posts to be seen on a page. Compared to yesterday's post, which is better: small or large?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Grisaille Experiment, Stage Two

This is the original photo I used for yesterday's grisaille. It was a gray day, and I took this shot through the tinted window of a small tourist boat. Consequently, there was no hope for accurate color, but I really liked this composition so I had to try it.

One of the reasons I decided to do a grisaille was so I could play around with the color without the commitment of an alla prima approach. I wanted to warm up the scene a bit, and if the colors I glazed in looked "wrong" I could easily wipe them off and try again. I'd like to eventually do a larger painting of this, and if I can come up with a more colorful version I am happy with I can use that as my model.

Using mostly transparent colors and lots of Liquin, here's where I ended the first stage of glazing:

I can see that there are areas that need to be cleaned up in the sky, and the reflection of the tree trunk in the water is a bit off. This will take opaque paint to fix, but since this is a study for a larger painting I'm not too worried about it. I don't want the colors to get too bright because that's not typical of this place, but I do think I'll try another day of glazing before I add a few final opaque touches.

Any suggestions?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Another Experiment--Grisaille

Kinderdijk Windmill / 6x8 / Oil on Cradled Panel / 1st stage

About ten days ago I woke up in the middle of the night with a toothache--a former root canal had decided to go to the dark side. The strongest pain killer in the house was Extra Strength Excedrin, and only after popping a couple did I remember it's full of caffeine. The bad news (there was no good news) was that it didn't cut the pain and now I was seriously awake. What to do? Well, I don't know about you, but when I paint I forget about everything else, so I grabbed a panel and started to go through old photos to find a suitable 2 AM subject--hoping I would forget about the tooth.

I chose a photo from a cruise my husband and I had taken on the Rhine and Mosel Rivers. One of our stops was Kinderdijk in the Netherlands. After doing my usual cropping routine with Photoshop, I came up with a composition that I liked and thought would work.

By this time it was 3 AM. I decided to take the easy way out and do a value study with one color--a grisaille. A grisaille is usually done in grays and in a little higher key than how you want the final painting to look. When the first layer is dry, the artist, using transparent paints and a some type of medium, glazes color onto the painting. These glazes are then built up in successive layers to achieve the desired color. This layering process took the Old Masters quite a while to accomplish due to the drying time involved between layers, and if you've seen paintings done with this technique you know what a beautiful and unique glow they have. We, however, have the magic over-night drying potion known as Liquin. I'll post this again when I get to the glazing process.

By the way, as long as I was painting I forgot about the toothache. Art cures many ills.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Academy Awards Meets "Different Strokes from Different Folks"

Starlets / 6x8 / Oil on Linen Panel

I decided to try the latest challenge from Karin Jurick's blog "Different Strokes from Different Folks." This week's photo is from the window of a wig shop:

There were lots of choices here, but I certainly wasn't about to paint all those heads at once. I decided to put the image into Photoshop and play around with the cropping tool. It was tempting to do the pale head on the lower left because it's such a classic angle, but I kept coming back to the middle two in the top row. Between the hair, the sunglasses and the turned-up nose, they reminded me of starlets with attitude. I added "Oscar" as a nod to their future goal.

By the way, I haven't seen any of the Oscar nominated movies yet, so if you have a favorite let me know.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Cherries and Black-eyed Susans

Cherries and Black-eyed Susans / 6x9 / Oil on Linen Panel

Finally got back to the easel today after a mid-week visit to the oral surgeon. Ouch! The only good part of the experience was my discovery of Kozy Shack pudding. If you're ever stuck on a liquid/jello diet, I highly recommend it. (Chocolate, of course...)

My new studio is moving right along. It's getting painted on Monday, and the cabinets and sink should be in by the end of next week. Then it's moving day--or perhaps "days." Between all the art supplies and the still life props, I've got a lot of stuff! I'll post some photos when it's completed.

I've been looking at a lot of artist websites lately, and I promised in the last post I would list some of my favorites. Some of these are old favorites, and some are new ones I just discovered. There are too many wonderful artists out there to name them all, so I'll post more from time to time. Enjoy!

Scott Christiansen
Ignat Ignatov
Scott Tallman Powers
Kathleen Dunphy
Dan Schultz
Aaron Westerberg
Elizabeth Pruitt

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Next Seven

Cobalt Pot with Lemons / 9x9 / Oil on Linen Panel

I am fairly new to blogging, so when R. Garriott tagged me I decided to take some time choosing my "tagees." There are so many wonderful artists out there, but the seven I've chosen excel at their craft. It's possible that they've been tagged so many times they won't want to play, but I guarantee if you spend some time studying their work, you will learn something you can add to your artistic tool kit.

Alphabetically, they are:

1. The Daily Paintings of Don Gray
2. The Art of Wayne Haag (Ankaris)
3. Mona Paints Moving Figures (Mona Jones)
4. Works by J. Kelly (Jared Kelly)
5. Carol Marine's Painting a Day
6. Studio Notes (Terry Miura)
7. The Poetry of Paint (Lani Vlaanderen)

Tomorrow I'll post some favorite artist websites.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I've Been Tagged...

Single Serving / 5x7 / Oil on Panel

My thanks go out to R. Garriott for tagging my blog. I'm honored. If you are reading this and you are not R. Garriott, you need to check out her blog "Painting Every Day and Photoshop Tips for Artists." Not only will you see beautiful, colorful artwork, you will learn tons about composition/design quality (she's great at that,) and then there are all those wonderful little mini tutorials on Photoshop.

So here goes.
Seven "Unusual" Things About Me:

1. When I was very young, long before people were worried about saturated fats and red dye, the only thing I would eat for lunch was a mayonnaise sandwich. My mother used to spice things up a bit by adding food coloring to the mayo. One day I would have a red sandwich, the next blue, and so forth. The first time I used oil paints it was like deja vu. I was home again. So I thank--and sometimes blame--my obsession with oil painting on my mom and her colorful mayo sandwiches.

2. I have always loved technology, and I'd have a hard time counting how many computers I've owned. Eight years ago, when I was still teaching, I had the opportunity to create and teach online high school classes. It was tons of work with a huge learning curve, but so very creative! Every web page was like a blank canvas.

3. When I began painting I had two cats--Colors and Shadow. The cats were named independently and long before my artistic endeavors took flight, but as I painted I often thought about the completeness of their names. All paintings are just that--colors and shadow, yin and yang. It's really all you need. That, and getting them in the correct place, which is often like herding cats...

4. I don't color coordinate the clothes in my closet like R. Garriott, but I do insist they are all facing the same direction.

5. I'm spending the next two days insulating the walls of my new studio. I still can't believe this is happening, and I'll post some photos when there's more to see.

6. I'm very good at tiling floors, bathrooms, kitchen backsplashes, etc. Now that you know this, I'll be a little suspect the next time you invite me to dinner.

7. And finally, Yoko Ono is following me on Twitter. It's my claim to fame.

OK, enough self-indulgence. It's Valentine's Day on Saturday. Don't forget to buy your sweetheart some chocolates. I'll post my seven "tagees" tomorrow.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Learn What You Really Want

Red Teapot and Lemons / 6x6 / Oil on Cradled Panel (sold)

Do you ever have difficulty deciding what you really want? There's a wonderful little online tool to help you figure it all out at (Thanks to Catherine Jo Morgan for sharing this.)

You simply type in a list of all your possibilities and the site generates a series of choices between two of the items on your list. It asks, "Which do you prefer?" or, "Which would you rather have?" You make the choice and the tool generates another pair. After working through all the possible combinations, it gives you a prioritized list.

Since you get to make up the list, this can be as general as deciding upon yearly goals--or it can be as specific as a prioritized to-do list for Monday. Give it a try sometime when you need clarity on an issue.

Today what I really wanted was another attempt at painting looser. I got together with a couple of artist friends at Mary Beacon's studio (Tumbleweed Studio) and we gave this little red teapot a go. I'm not 100% thrilled with this, but decided to post it anyway since one of my goals for this blog is experimentation.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Media Coverage Opportunities

Chocolate Covered Strawberries / 5x5 / Oil on Linen Panel (sold)

Are you looking for media coverage? Then visit and sign up for Peter Shankman's thrice daily email detailing all sorts of stories in need of a person to make them come alive. You might be just the person they're looking for, and "they" include everything from major TV networks to national magazines, newspapers, websites and radio shows.

My most recent email listed 33 stories posted by reporters (including their contact information) just waiting for YOU. Granted, these are not all art-related stories (I'm offering you opportunity, not nirvana) but several had possiblities. A few days ago they wanted someone who was successfully using YouTube, etc. to promote their business. This could have applied to any number of artists.

It's free and easy, and you never know when the shoe might fit.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Tax Tips for Artists

Lake Weeds / 6x6 / Oil on Cradled Panel (sold)

I'm still processing everything I learned from the smARTist telesummit and trying to synthesize all that information into a more cohesive marketing plan. I will be sharing more of what I learned here on this blog, but since tax season is upon us I thought that you might be able to put this tidbit to immediate use.

Peter Riley is a CPA who specializes in working with artists. There's a wealth of applicable tax info on his website In fact, I picked up a couple of tax tips that will more than cover my cost of the telesummit. You can also check out the "special articles" on his main website. I found the one on home offices (studios) very helpful.

There are only 69 days left till April 15th...

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Purple Vase and Oranges

Purple Vase and Oranges / 6x6 / Oil on Cradled Panel (sold)

Another attempt at painting looser, but I allowed myself too much time and of course I saw every little value change in that vase. The light was from above and behind, and the white cloth caused a million reflections in the vase--some quite intense. Next time I'll raise the set-up so that the light is behind (but not above.)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Experimentation, Take Two

Green Pitcher and Peppers / 6x6 / Oil on Cradled Panel

One of my main goals for writing this blog was to give myself permission to experiment. Today's experiment was to paint looser and faster, (a real stretch for me.) I'm pretty happy with my results above, and it only took an hour! :-)

I finished the smARTist telesummit on Friday, and besides learning more than I can get my head around at the moment, everyone was friending each other on Facebook and Tweeting away all day long. I'm just getting started on those two sites, and am already finding them worthwhile for the connections with other artists. We'll see if it leads to increased sales, but my goal right now is to learn how to use it and build relationships.

I'll go through all my notes and handouts and pick out some juicy tidbits for a later post this week, so stay tuned.

Monday, January 19, 2009

A Busy Week!

Chinese Water Pot and Peonies / Oil on Linen Panel / 16x20

I've decided to work on two important art goals for this year.

The first is doing a better job of promoting my art work. In that vein, I've started this blog (which I have found to be way more fun than I ever thought,) and I signed up for the
smARTist telesummit. The telesummit started last Thursday and goes through this Friday. I really cannot recommend this enough. One of today's speakers was Peter Riley ( and I picked up some very valuable tax tips. Upcoming speakers are sharing ideas/techniques on using social media for marketing, writing marketing plans, creating a portfolio, etc. If you don't connect with this resource this year, it will come again in 2010, so bookmark the website for future use.

My other goal is building a new studio space. Construction is starting tomorrow, and I'm more excited than the Christmas Eve when you're five. I've spent lots of time this past week making final decisions on cabinets, lighting, work surfaces, etc.,
so consequently I haven't posted in a few days. (I've also spent time drooling over the Hughes easels website--I'm keeping my fingers crossed that there's enough $$ at the end of construction for one of those...)

I'll keep you posted on the studio progress, and if anyone out there has suggestions for creating a great space I'd love to hear them!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

smARTIST Telesummit Starts Tomorrow

One of my goals this year is to increase the exposure of my artwork, so in addition to beginning this blog on January 1st, I also signed up for the smARTIST online Telesummit.

This seven day online (or over the phone) telesummit is chocked full of speakers with expertise on various topics that all relate to marketing your art. So stay tuned and I'll pass along any gems that I pick up over the next week and a half.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Staying with Summer...Sunflowers

Sunflowers / 4x4 / Oil on Cradled Panel (sold)

Our new furnace is finally in place, along with an new air purifier and humidifier. Life is definitely better with heat!

This painting is from a photo of sunflowers I took last summer. Our grocery store had them on sale, and I remember that they had all these beautifully
different, happy-face centers. I couldn't choose between them, so of course I had to buy a bunch of each kind. (I love flowers almost as much as I love painting.) The sun was coming in my studio window as I snapped several photos, and this painting is from a detail of one of those photos.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Forget Spring, Let's Do Summer

South Platte Kayaker / 4x4 / Oil on Cradled Panel

South Platte River rapids

Confluence Park in Downtown Denver

Our furnace is dying a rather sudden death. We've had three repairman visits this week to get it started, and with temps getting down to the 10-20 degree range the past few nights I was motivated to forget about yesterday's post concerning Spring and move right on down to SUMMER! Yes, Summer! Summer in Colorado means comfortable plein air painting, biking, hiking, river rafting, golf--you name it and you can do it here. (Well, surfing is tough, but there's always wind sailing.)

This painting is from a photo I took last summer at Confluence Park in Denver. These are man-mad rapids, and people come from all over to practice their kayaking skills. The park sits at the confluence of the South Platte River and Cherry Creek, and it's next to a flagship REI and Six Flags at Elitch Gardens. There's free jazz in the summer and lots of great shops and restaurants in this area of downtown. I probably sound more like a travel guide than an artist, but the thought of summer gets me going. (We gained one minute of daylight today.)

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Original Oil Painting of Red Tulips...A Need for Spring!

Red Tulips / 4x4 / Oil on cradled panel (sold)

Photo showing painted edges. (Yes, I even painted the bottom!)

Five inches of snow here today, and even though this winter has been relatively mild--so far--I needed a reminder that spring is on the way. I've lived in Colorado for 30+ years and I love having four distinct seasons, but after the first few snowfalls my heart reverts to my early California upbringing and I start a mental countdown to longer days and warmer weather.

I dug through my photo archives and found this tulip photo from last May. Deer Creek Golf Course always plants beautiful fields of tulips, so it's a great place to snap a few photos every year.

I'm really getting hooked on these little panels. To me, one of the most exciting things about painting is being able to create three dimensions on a flat surface, and the opportunity to paint the edges on these cradled panels makes the illusion seem even more real. What fun!

Saturday, January 3, 2009


Poppies / 8x8 / Oil on Panel

Painted Sides

Cradled Back of Panels

One of my goals for this blog is to have a venue for experimentation and feedback. While I'm sending my larger paintings to the gallery, I'm planning on painting smaller "experiments" and showcasing them on this blog--and eventually on eBay. Hey, I'm a Gemini, and I hate the thought of getting stuck doing one type of painting forever, so stay tuned for a variety of styles and subjects.

My usual choice of painting surface is oil-primed linen panels, but I've found these wonderful little panels (and you can buy big ones, too) at Cheap Joe's that are great for experimenting. They're inexpensive and have a thicker cradle than gessobords, so you can paint the sides and attach strap ring hangers and wire to the back and forget the frame--perfect for today's economy. You do have to gesso them yourself, but that's not a big deal. Where I live in Colorado they dry almost immediately.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

A New Beginning

California Valley / 12x18/ Oil

It's January 1st--a day of new beginnings, resolutions, and a perfect day to begin this blog. Painting is truly an obsession for me. Almost every thought I have is never more than two steps removed from painting, and since you are reading this I'll assume you are "similarly afflicted." So join the discussion and we'll see where this leads us.