Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Years Eve

Oregon sunset

At this point in my life, I'm thankful to stay put tonight in a warm home and celebrate with people I love.   We'll be ringing in the new year with renewed hope for family, friends and our country.

Have a safe and abundantly blessed 2014.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Merry Christmas

Oil - 6 X 6

I thought I'd be farther along with a group of portrait studies but I'm six days into a cold and just starting to feel better.   I know I'm feeling better because I'm losing my patience trying to color correct the skin tones on this computer.

And then... I look at the date.  I stop in my tracks.

 House organized?  Not.   Groceries bought?  Not.   Gifts purchased?  Not.   Decorations up?  Not.  Christmas cards?  Of course not.

Time to sign off the blog till the end of the holiday season.

Wishing everyone a safe and happy, happy Christmas and New Year!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Taking a Bath

Remains of the Day - Sold
Watercolor Batik - 18 X 24

Hoping the worst of this nasty cold is gone.  I was able to sleep last night.

I haven't been painting, so the next best thing is looking through art books and art scrapbooks.  I came across this older batik which was based on a reference photo and happy memory of a family trip to London, England many years ago.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Let it Snow

Let it Snow - Sold
Oil - 6 X 6

Since moving to the Pacific Northwest, I have to admit I miss the snow.

I can see snow capped Mt. Hood every time I leave my house.  Still, there's nothing like bundling up and going for walk on a beautiful silent snowy night...

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Monday, December 9, 2013

Le Pastel

Look Into My Lips
Pastel - 12 X 12

This pastel was done on hot press watercolor paper.  After I worked on it for a while, an artist friend came to the rescue and educated me on layering color over a "more suitable" toothy paper.

I'll put her on the pile and try it again someday soon.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Katie Wilson

Oil - 11 X 14

This is not part of the new portrait series, but
I actually got the idea of doing the series after looking at Katie Wilson's blog ( http://katiewilson-paintings.blogspot.com/ ).   Katie is a skillful painter who has done some incredible collage and oil paintings.  She offers a free download of this technique on her blog, so I signed on.

This is my first attempt at Katie's technique.  I glued a variety of scrapbook-type printed paper on a board and covered it with clear gesso.   Then I grabbed the biggest clean brush I could find and slapped on the paint with reckless abandon (not actually part of the directions).  When dry, the painting was tightened up a bit so it resembled something recognizable.  I was ready to work on the eyes, but stood back for another look.

Not liking it too much, I  re-read the directions before "fixing" it.   Of course, I discovered I had applied the first layer of paint too thickly, so there's really no fixing...

So much for this painting, but I'll try it again soon.  Experimenting with new things always leads to new ideas.  Thanks, Katie.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

For the Love of a Horse

Working Girl
Oil - 12 X 12 

One of the nicest memories I have of growing up in my blue collar neighborhood in Detroit was spending my "tween" and teen summers at the Michigan State Fairgrounds stables.

My friend Bonnie (still my BFF) and I would jump over the railroad tracks, shimmy under a particular length of fence surrounding the rear of the property and head over to the tack room.  After we checked in, we ran over to the barn to shovel you- know- what and do general freshening up.  

Our "payment" for doing this job was to saddle up and exercise the horses.  The BEST part was that we were allowed to exercise the horses by riding them around the racetrack grandstands!  Needless to say, many times I found myself limping home, but I never missed a day of

Fortunately, my daughter has inherited the "love of the horse" gene.  Unfortunately, she has also inherited the "fall off the horse" gene.  Still, she's always managed to get up and dust herself off.

One of my hopes for my daughter was for her to feel the timeless connection between horses and humans; to view horses as not only servants in war and peace, but as friends and teachers.
Thankfully she has felt that connection since the first time she rubbed her cheek against the velvet muzzle of a sweet horse.

What a gift.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Out of the Blue

Elephant Walk - Sold

Oil - 12 X 12 on birch cradle board

Elephants are the largest of all land mammals.  They are playful and mischievous,  self- aware and compassionate.  And I absolutely love painting them.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Christmas Candles

The Christmas Candles
Oil - 6 X 6

There's a sweet story about a town that receives a wish-giving Christmas candle
every 25 years from an angel.  I figured we could use two - just in case.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

What Shall I Paint Today?

 Oil - 6 X 6

When I feel like painting but don't know what to paint, I've learned to start painting in a series.  I think its great to focus on one subject or theme and do several paintings of that subject.   Some really prolific artists have even had a couple of series going at the same time.

This is the beginning of a series of paintings of women; not necessarily "femme fatales,"  but those that have kind of an elegance or mystery about them.  I'm keeping them small for now so I can explore crops and color and then will grid them up to larger pieces. 

For those of us who are all over the place with artwork, this is a great way to get a cohesive body of work.  But, as importantly,  the "What shall I paint today?" blues will become a thing of the past.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Wreath 2

 Wreath 2 - Sold
Oil - 6 X 6

Last night, I put on some Christmas music,  poured a small glass of red wine, and wound up with another happy wreath.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Wreaths Unlimited

Wreath 1 - Sold
Oil - 6 X 6

Over the years, I've hung Christmas wreaths on doors, windows, mirrors, walls, and bookshelves.  They've even been used as centerpieces around the house.

This year, I thought I'd paint a few for the magical Christmas season.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Three Persimmons

Three Persimmons - Sold
Oil - 6 X 6

 I always wondered why persimmons seemed to glow until I cut one open.  It's as if the fruit carries sunshine inside of it.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Three's a Crowd

Oil - 6 X 6 - Sold

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas when these beauties make their appearance at the fruit market.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Be a Statue

Oil sketch - 6 X 6

Statue from Biltmore Estate

Sometimes I really like painting from photographs.  And for some reason, I love painting from pictures of statues.

It's fun to imagine the what the sculptor's human model was like, and even more fun to try to bring him or her back to life.

This was done with oil paint thinned with turps.  Maybe it will become a larger painting some day, but I'm happy with this little sketch for now.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Under the Sea

Under the Sea - #1
Alcohol Ink on Yupo - 3.5 X 5.5

Under the Sea - #2
Alcohol Ink on Yupo - 3.5 X 5.5

Although oil painting rules, I love experimenting with different media on unusual surfaces.    Alcohol inks are lots of fun to do.

  Sometimes the brilliance of the color is not for the faint of heart,  but the inks offer a freshness and looseness that's pretty nice.

I'm back to oil painting today.

Monday, November 25, 2013


Watercolor - 14 X 10

Watercolor - 14 X 10

Something good happened:  my dear friend Jo from Michigan came to stay with us for a while.  Then something bad happened:  the retaining wall in the back of our house (and I mean what keeps our house from tumbling into our neighbor's house) started to collapse.  An emergency crew has worked ONE MONTH on rebuilding the wall.  They finished it yesterday.

I didn't feel like doing artwork, but discovered once I forced myself to begin,  it was pretty relaxing.  That's a good lesson right there.

Tim and I have also slipped out for a couple of mental health breaks with our art group.  These notan paintings were done a couple of weeks ago when the topic of discussion was notan / patterns of light and dark.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Put in Proper Perspective

Value Study - 10 X 8

I forgot this was only a value study and caught myself starting to put in detail.  Practicing brushwork is still on the menu today.

Several years ago, Tim encouraged me to study a book on perspective.  Of course, I didn't do that.  I was happy painting a still life or an animal.   Now I wonder how much better my artwork would look if I had taken his advice. 

Please don't tell him I said that...  I got the book today.

Friday, September 6, 2013

The Morning After

Oil - 10 X 8

Here's one I started at the workshop yesterday.  

After several years in watercolor classes, my watercolor style has followed me into oil painting.   It's tough breaking old habits.

I'm going to take Becky Joy's advice and focus on brushwork.   Next week will be spent just doing monochromatic big brush block-ins along with brushwork exercises.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Becky Joy Workshop

When I learned artist Becky Joy was offering a workshop in nearby Hood River, Oregon, I jumped at the chance and signed up.  She is an incredible artist and is reputed to be one of the finest instructors around.  Plus, Becky came highly recommended by artist Celeste Bergin.  


After a sunrise drive through the Columbia River Gorge, 

I arrived at the Columbia Art Center in Hood River just in time to watch dozens of artists drop off their paintings from the previous five-day plein air competition that Becky will be judging. 

After drooling over these beautiful paintings, I joined the rest of the class to meet Becky.  Instead of providing us with a handout, Becky gifted each workshop participant with her latest e-book, "How to Create Better Paintings" a few days before the workshop began.

We enjoyed an orientation at the art center and then drove off to our destination:  Rasmussen Farms in Hood River.  

The workshop began with a demo by Becky.

She painted deliberately, emphasizing the importance of understanding how color works in the landscape; warms, cools, how light and shadow affect color, ...   And, if you've seen her work, you'll understand when I say it was a thrill to watch her brushwork and to hear her explain how she uses her brushes.  

After lunch, we set up our easels for painting.  Becky told those of us who were relatively new to plein air to stick around in the same general area so we could all benefit from suggestions she made to each of us.

   Becky also approached every student and asked what we hoped to get out of the workshop.  That was a first for me.

Then it was time for us to dive in.  I wound up with two wipe-outs and two almost finished paintings.  Unlike other workshops, I even experienced that special moment when the lightbulb went on.  That was worth the trip.

And suddenly, it was over.

So, what did I learn?

1.  Practice brushwork.  Practice brushwork everyday.  Don't worry about doing a finished painting everyday.  Just make sure you paint everyday.

2.  Texture - put some paint on your painting.  She discussed foregrounds / backgrounds / focal points & how to use texture effectively.

3.  Provide color and value gauges for yourself somewhere on the painting and use these gauges to guide you through the process.

4.   Integrate color throughout your painting.

5.  Incorporate hard and soft edges effectively.

6.  And much, much more...

  What did I like about the workshop?

1.  I liked Becky - a lot.  She is genuine.  She is encouraging.  She loves painting, is incredibly knowledgeable, and wants her students to succeed.  As a communicator, Becky is really effective.

2.  I liked that Becky continually talks about her strategy as she demos.

3.  I liked the amount of attention I received in the workshop.  I'm not sure how many participants there were (maybe 11), but I never felt neglected.  Becky was always accessible and everyone got her undivided attention.

4.  I like that she's coming back to Oregon because I'm gonna take another workshop from her!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The "Joy" of Plein Air

Oil on loose canvas - 9.5 x 10.5

I approached this summer of painting with the attitude that it would be one big experiment in art.   This is one of those experiments done with oil paint thinned with lots of turps.

 Tim surprised me with a one day plein-air workshop in Hood River with Becky Joy.      Wish I could spend a whole summer with her, but I'll gladly settle for a day.

  Becky is conducting the workshop TODAY.  Looking forward to posting about it tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


To the Ends of the Earth
Oil on Ampersand - 6 X 6

On days when I don't paint outside or just don't know what to paint, I'll pull out a small panel and try something from my imagination.

An even less expensive way to practice is to tape a loose piece of canvas to a sturdy support such as a wooden board or foam core.  The masking tape can be removed from the finished painting while the painting is still wet.  Once the paint has finally dried, you can plop the practice painting on top of the last one - great for storing in a studio where space is limited.

Regarding practice, it's taken a few years to finally accept that every painting I make does not have to be framed.  What a relief... 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Flower Girl

Flower Girl
Oil on Ampersand - 6 X 6

Lavender is so popular here in Oregon that many locations are featured as "lavender destinations."   A few even offer art paint-outs.  

I saw this young woman picking lavender at the Mountainside Lavender Farm in Scholls, Oregon this summer.   The colors of the day were so beautiful, I couldn't resist.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


The sunshine has officially returned.

We'll be plein-air painting as often as we can, and out of state company will be coming and going the next few months.

 I won't be back to the blog till the end of the season.

 Have a great summer!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Impression of Laurelhurst Pond

Laurelhurst Sketch - Oil 8 X 10 on panel

This is the oil that got blasted with rainwater last week in Laurelhurst Park.
Although I took some photos there, I went back into the painting relying only on my memory. I finished it outside on my back porch though I don't think that qualifies as "plein air."

We're planning on getting outside to paint a few times this week.  Can't wait. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day

Thank you, Dad, for giving me the childhood you never had.

Thank you, Tim, for showing Alexis how a real man treats his wife.   May she never settle for less.

Thank you, God, for bringing these two loving, decent men into my life.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

City Chicken

I've been working on a few oil paintings as well as inks, and lots of new ideas have been emerging. We've got a small stockpile of canvas boards and larger standard sized stretched canvasses, but nothing too unusual in size. 

  During our weekly romp about town, Tim and I stopped at Muse Art & Design in the Hawthorne neighborhood. 

 Although I was only just looking, I couldn't let go of a 12 X 36 stretched canvas and cha-chinged myself out of there.

Then we headed over to the Lake Oswego Library to pick up this book.  It's gotten glowing reviews by some artist friends.

Before leaving the library, we took a closer look at a presentation being given in the lobby.

Do you know Portlanders are allowed to keep three chickens in their yards?  In the city?!  Growing up in Detroit, the only chickens I saw were at Popeyes and KFC.

I don't know...  Somehow I'm not surprised. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Plein Air - 2

Tim, Joanne, and I packed up and ventured out to Sauvie Island yesterday.  Just north of Portland, Sauvie is home to a wildlife sanctuary and a variety of fruit, veggie and flower farms.  It even hosts a clothing-optional beach (hey, it's Portland).

We met artist David McBride and his wife Char at the general store, and then headed out to a spot selected by Dave.  My camera could not capture the beauty of the landscape.

It had been threatening rain all day, but we knew it wouldn't rain.

Joanne and Tim in the landscape

The cows were relaxed.  This means it isn't going to rain.

Oh, no...  The cows suddenly turned around and headed back to the barn.  They seemed to be in a hurry.  I think this means it WILL rain.

And, boy, did it rain.

Dave McBride held his ground.

Joanne, Tim and I held our ground.

Our art boxes were a puddled mess and our oil paints mixed with water.  The paint would not stick to the canvas.

We packed up.  Our supplies were wet, our easels and art boxes were starting to warp, and we were soaked to the skin.

But Dave McBride held his ground.  I looked at his painting.  If mine looked that good, I would have stuck around a little longer, too.

Then, of course, the sky started to clear.

Sauvie Island asked us not to leave.  Too late!

Well, okay.  I guess we could come back.