Saturday, December 9, 2017

Ruvati sinks, Mungo Park, Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts


While traveling, I have pretty much given up hauling any paint set along, even the smaller travel sets.  Instead, I try to use the small bits of otherwise-unscheduled time to sketch.  These sketches can be aborted at any time.  Some of the unfinished ones are among my favorites!  Over the years, these sketches have become like small journals, little bites of time, where notes remind me of activities and conversations.  Just before Thanksgiving of this year, we were fortunate to rent a "little house" (a charming A-frame) on the Outer Banks, for a few days of quiet and oneness with nature. 

The top sketch is my loving partner engaged in reading, one of his favorite pastimes.  His book is Travels in the Interior of Africa by Mungo Park, a treasure on loan from one of his friends.

The second sketch is our son while we are watching the movie "While We're Young", starring Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts, a light-hearted movie with some bits of wisdom tucked in.....aren't they all?It was a fun way to spend an evening.

The third sketch is of my husband again, keeping warm with his sweatshirt hood surrounding, laying back in the limited amount of lighting available while we discussed the unusually modern and lovely appliances that made this small rental such a pleasure.  We (maybe just I ) have been considering a kitchen update sometime in the future, so we gather ideas when we can.  Although the sketch is a bit unflattering, the spotty play of light made this sketch exciting to do....It conveys a great mood, I think.

When I look back at these some time in the future, I am sure I will be smiling as I recall these sweet and rare hours spent with my dear ones.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Partial to Peaches

Partial to Peaches   watercolor on Khadi   5.75 x 18
Making something from nothing.  An unusual slice of leftover Khadi paper.  A leftover skinny black frame.  What can I do with these?  This is the way I cook.  This is the way I live.  Making from leftovers.  This all became an elongated work of a basket of peaches...totally wabi sabi.  In fact, the paper wasn't quite long enough, so I stitched on another piece using a zig zag stitch on the sewing machine.  A watery background tone was added.  Even the stitches took on a nice tone.  These unusual pieces make my heart sing.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Bittersweet with Pumpkins

Bittersweet with Pumpkins   watercolor on Khadi   13.75 x 10
is another work done in our watercolor class with autumnal subjects being piled into the center of the tables.  We used our view-finders to crop out a section that we wanted to paint.  While there is much to be said for this method of direct observation, I find, personally, that there is just too much "given" for my mind to creatively react with the subject.  Over the years, I have found my pleasure to reside in the interaction between subject and ground, which, of necessity, needs to be more empty for this exchange to occur. 

O.K.  I like the colors.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Varietal 2

Varietal2   oil/canvas   8 x 24
This is the third of "quick" paintings designed to boost my self-confidence after spending most of the summer on "Equilibrium".  This still life was set up in my studio, and was painted using direct observation.  It took two days.  This small series enabled me to tackle my more complex compositions with a bit more enthusiasm.  Seeing things simply has its advantages.  I wish I could do it more often.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

White Pumpkins and Roadside Purple

White Pumpkins and Roadside Purple   oil   9 x 12

This is the second "quickie" painting done to regain a sense of balance within the bounds of painting exactly what is in front of me through direct observation.  The light source was a studio lamp. The canvas was pre-toned in a warmish neutral.  White pumpkins have always been thrilling to me.  Added to that is a bunch of roadside wildflowers that carry a vibrant purple that can be seen from afar.  They always pop up this time of year much to my delight.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Pumpkin and Nasturtium...Searching for Balance

Pumpkin and Nasturtium   oil   12 x 9
Like most folks, I suspect, I am always searching for balance in my life.  After spending most of the summer trying to resolve the painting challenges that "Equilibrium" presented, I was ready to just paint from life, to paint only the effects of light and shadow on a subject.  I armed myself with some of the bounties of the season, and painted three smaller works, each taking one day. 

This canvas was pre-toned with a warmish mix.  Day 1 left me feeling satisfied...painting only what I see, and foregoing all that I imagine.  It was healing.

Saturday, October 7, 2017


Equilibrium   oil   30 x 42
is the title of this painting of a kayaker.  It also describes what I lost during the very long process of painting it.  Each pass offered some good passages, but was, overall, not acceptable to my sense of correctness.  Again.  Again and again....throughout the long hot summer.  I kept going back to my initial sketch to repaint as that usually does the trick.  My sketches are done so spontaneously...the goal is usually an even distribution of values.  I kept trying to solve the dilemma with color, even though I have never really been a colorist.  Eventually I realized that I had to depart from the initial sketch although, while powerful, destroyed the mood of this enthusiastic boater on a hot summer day.  I am, at long last, pleased. 

I am now realizing that I needed to declare a value dominance of the work, one that supports the mood that I am trying to achieve,  in addition to the playful distribution and linkage of values. 

This lesson was learned the hard way.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

En Plein Air

En Plein Air   oil on canvas   24 x 12 x 1.5
usually implies painting out-of-doors, on the spot, not in the studio, a situation that is more immediate,  more demanding, and one that requires a keen eye that can adapt to the constantly fluctuating movement of the sun.  In this case, it was the musicians who performed on the stage of a magnificent outdoor amphitheater in the botanical gardens in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  The group of musicians were a warm-up group for a fantastical puppet show entitled "Of Wings and Feet" performed by Paperhand Puppet Intervention company.  We have never seen anything quite like it!  (The closest thing I can recall seeing are the performances of the Cirque du Soleil) Creating a painting from this completely magical evening was a no brainer.  But, to me, a painting of the huge puppets and mystical movements would have diminished their power....there were no frozen moments.  But this young musician so in tune with her instrument gave me pause.  Photos were shot at quite a distance.

Some paintings literally paint themselves.  This was one of them.  I still find myself wishing that all communities could be treated to this kind of gentle magic.

Sunday, September 10, 2017


Neighborhood   oil   20 x 60 x 1.5
is a concept that implies shared space, a sense of community...a connectedness to the world around us.  While it is true that I do not live in a strictly defined neighborhood, preferring to live in a rural area, my sense of neighborhood is still in tact, albeit in a more loosely defined way.  My sense of connection is not so defined by geography, but by interest.  My sense of neighborhood includes all those with whom I interact in my chosen field...artists in my classes, artists within my regional art groups, and those involved in the galleries where I do business.  These are the folks who inspire me, enrich my life, and challenge me to do the best I can.  These are folks whose resolve I so admire.  The network is strong and lively.  Ideas are shared.  There is trust.  A sense of dedication.  A sense of doing something greater than yourself.  As a young student in the late 60's, art seemed a totally frivolous way of spending time,  Now, as an older and wiser person, I realize that art, and living artfully, is a way of life, a way of solving problems, of finding joy in the present.  Art is life affirming. This is my neighborhood.

This painting was inspired by reference photos shot in early spring in the Glen Echo neighborhood of Columbus, Ohio.  My goal was to sublimate individual details in each of the homes while creating rhythm that weaves itself between them.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Cherries and Scribbles

Cherries and Scribbles   oil   8 x 24 x .5
Visual people seem to pay attention to what they like...or not.  For me, I feel that there is a perceptual "lift" in my spirits when shapes, colors and rhythms arise to the surface, a bit like a runner's high.  I definitely zone out when there is too much clutter, too many things.  So, rather than a complex still life, I prefer honing in on one particular.  Usually, I would be tempted to paint this small crock of cherries on a square canvas.  In this instance, I used a format that would stretch my imagination...a split screen with a bit of texture.  Simple, yet complex.  The darker layer of red violet was painted over a light ground and scratched into, almost immediately.  The color palette of light blue and burgundy (or oxblood or cordovan) recalls the oxford shirts, penny loafers and madras fabric of my early teenage years, the time of "coming of age", when colors, songs and experiences seem stronger than anything else experience up to that point in time.  It is a palette I have always loved.

So, I guess it would seem that this work satisfies me on so many levels....aesthetically, of course.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Lemons and Merlot

Lemons and Merlot  oil   20 x 10
Banquet   oil   20 x 60 x 1.5
is a slice created from reference photos taken for a larger work created in 2010.  The challenge for this work was a call from a Cleveland cooking school to create works that would be auctioned as a benefit for their school.  We artists were led to believe that our works would bring a fair market profit.  Of course, my imagination ran wild with possibilities.  On a blistering summer day, I created the set-up on my patio, with items purchased and from my cupboards. ( on a hot platter on a hot table on a hot patio)  I photographed the work from left to right in sections.  This work took a couple of months to complete.  And, as artists' luck would have it, the auction was attended only by employees and students of the school.  There were few benefactors and even fewer sales.  "Banquet" was sold at a far lower price that even I had imagined possible.  Love's labor lost.  Unfortunately, I still harbor a bit of resentment.  These memories are quite painful, actually. And, once again, that horrible grown-up lesson that there will always be those who take advantage of artists.  I learned a lot.  Again.

Luckily, I still have all of those reference photos that make my set-up that summer all too real.  There are many possibilities.  I guess that is what I thrive on...possibilities.

Friday, August 4, 2017


Jane   oil   30 x 24
This past month I had the privilege of painting Jane, a woman whose beauty (inner and outer) and strength will put her in my personal trove of women to admire and to model myself after.  She is witty...a coiner-of-words as she herself describes it, personable and enthusiastic.  She has flown planes and piloted boats. She is a photographer who understands composition and visual lingo. She is well-traveled.  As I painted her, I pictured her as a modern-day Amelia Earhart.  Her life has been spent in several parts of the country but is recently transplanted and blooming in northeast Ohio.

Painting a portrait only works out well for me when I am able to feel an emotional connection to the model.  For that to happen, the sitter must be open to the silent visual conversation and intimacy that must take place.  For me, all of the pieces fell into place.

And her name?  Jane is simple, direct and feminine.  Thank you, Jane, for a wonderful experience!

Friday, July 21, 2017

White Peaches

White Peaches   oil   12 x 9 x 1.5
Still life paintings are versatile.  An artist can include as many or as few objects as possible to match his/her aesthetics, to  provide for a design that is pleasing and strong, and, also, to allow for a glimpse into what that artist deems important enough to paint.  While still life paintings are not my focus, I still enjoy the playfulness with color and design that a still life provides.  No exact likeness is required.  Objects can be altered and/or eliminated.  If anything, they are an arena of experimentation and play.

In this case, I chose to give homage to white peaches that my husband brought back from a trip to North Carolina, knowing that their subtle taste is exquisite to me.  I chose to pair them with a bunch of white daisies that we had plucked from the garden.

In most of my previous floral and fruit paintings, I have used a grayed down compliment for the background.  Over the years, I have come to enjoy the earthiness that comes from using browns in floral works.  For me, it is an antidote to the overindulgence of the sweetness inherent in the subject matter, as well as a way to use darker values, which I tend to like.  In this case a mix of violet and brown did the trick.  I am satisfied.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Sunflower Pair Redux

Sunflower Pair

Sunflower Pair Redux
Not often, but every now and then, I go back into an older work, because of the small voice in my head that whispers, "What were you thinking?"  My goal here is not to create an award-winning work, but to try to problem-solve in a completely different way.  Doing this is a bit like dancing while wearing a ball and chain, as there is little continuity, the rhythm being completely disrupted.  The work on the left is color-driven.  While the colors are electric and amiable to me, it lacks the distinction and simplicity that I now look for.  The work on the right was reworked, only from memory while trying to channel a better design.  Doing so simplified the work.  It is more easily "read".  Am I happy?  Well....I enjoy both about the same, to tell the truth.  But I am more satisfied having worked through this issue.

To redux or not to redux.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

V. Mired in Blue

Mired in Blue   watercolor   19 x 7.5
was painted from life and from a sketch done in two subsequent sessions.  The model was a lithe and artsy young woman who managed the goings-on at the desk of our local art center.  The countenance of the relaxed and unposed face is always so appealing to me, its being devoid of a public personna...the model usually drifting quietly into self.

While painting just the figure is an admirable aim, which I so much enjoy in the work of others, is near to impossible to me, as a search for design and color to take the work into more "me-ness".  As I tell the artists in my classes, the search for your personal aesthetic is a long and arduous road, only achieved after the reality of the subject has fully been discovered, achieved, and discovered and achieved again and again.  And, so, while I fully admire the simplicity and beauty of just the reality of the model, I must, at this point, be satisfied with my own way of working. celebrate it.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Lost and Found,

Lost and Found   conte and pastel on Rives BFK   18 x 21.5
picking and sorting, organizing....the stuff of which my life is comprised...constant evaluation:  weeds vs. flowers; healthy relationships vs. the toxic; and that which we deem necessary vs. that which just takes up space.  It is, I think, a perpetual process that helps us find ourselves.

This drawing was referenced from a photo shot last September at a family wedding, where our granddaughter, just two, was given the responsibility of being a flower girl.  During the long wait, she dropped the basket a couple of times, and patiently replaced the petals into the basket.  She took this job quite seriously.

The biggest challenge during this work was to push and pull those hard and soft edges for the purpose of movement throughout the composition.  This is a process that I particularly enjoy, along with a manipulation and shifting of values in an attempt to create work with strong design, while remaining soft.

Initially, I had planned only a light sketch.  The project morphed into a more complete painting-like drawing, in which the Rives BFK (a printmaking paper) was pushed as far as it could go in terms of workability.

I take my job quite seriously as well.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Happy Father's Day

Rick - a sketchbook drawing my husband...patient, kind, supportive...and, above all, a wonderful, wonderful father.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Cherry Pie

Cherry Pie   Watercolor on Khadi paper   12 x 12
seems to be a favorite and pies, in general, seem to be the quintessential American dessert.  I come from a long line of pie makers.  My mom always offered up at least three varieties at each holiday gathering.  Her sister used to stay up all night before family get-togethers rolling and filling and baking.  She even had a large multiple-shelved carrier with a top handle that allowed her to cart at least eight pies to events.  Any uneaten pies were sent home with guests. As a result, I am afraid that I became over-pied....just too much of a good thing, I suppose.

Recently, while having a bit of brunch in Clintonville, we stopped into a wonderful place....Dough Mama.  On the wall was a wonderful pie drawing that inspired my own version.  This painting is more meticulous than usual for me, as I took painstaking care in the overs and unders of the latticework crust.  I attempted to keep sparkling whites, mostly in the cherry filling.  The background was the devil.  Each color seemed wrong...too colorful to compete with the vibrant pie.  I finally layered the background with a pick-type brush (cut out like a comb) using white gouache for a more subtle application.  In this regard, I was inspired by a children's book in which all of the illustrations were painting on wood, with the grain as part of the overall texture.  I am pleased.

Care for a slice?

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Spring in Clintonville

Spring in  Clintonville   watercolor   18.5 x 16
was inspired by few days we spent with my son's family in Columbus.  Clintonville is one of those older inner city neighborhoods that one can see in any mid-size city where young families are moving in and adding a new energy to the old and tired.  I love these neighborhoods.  For me, they exude a charm that is hard to find in newer suburban towns. Frequent walks down the street helped me to understand the light patterns.  Plants and shrubs were blossoming.  The scene seemed to be flooded with light.

My aim here was to merge the home with the surrounding environment.  My sense of aesthetics seems to reject subjects that are too enclosed, too encased, too separate.  And, while I can see some passages that I would improve, this is, after all, watercolor, and "just one more correction" can easily slide into overworked.  I am gradually learning to ease into finish leaving a bit undone.  Overall, I am pleased.  The mood of the work is exactly what I wanted.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Wee Hours

Sophia   Sketchbook Drawing
are, for me, sacrosanct.  I greet the day, coffee by my side, as I take in my book-of-the-moment.  This is a luxury of my age to be sure.  Sometimes opportunities present themselves in a way that are impossible to resist.  While staying at our son's house, I chose a quiet corner to carry on my morning moments while both he and his wife prepared themselves for work.  Their cat Sophia, who is the quintessential lap cat, snuggled close by just beneath the reading lamp.  I had plenty of time to complete the sketch as she slumbered.  Sleeping beings are so relaxed that their weight literally melds into the support surface, in this case a soft hassock.  My day was begun in deep consideration, admiration and love.  Good Morning Sophia!

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Pink Hyacinths

Pink Hyacinths      Watercolor   11 x 14
...lacy bell-shaped blossoms atop thick and leek-like stems...quite the study of opposites.  Slow and steady to paint.  I think that I have finally learned how to suggest those small blossoms by generalization, for the most part, and a bit of detail on the small bell-shapes closest to the viewer. 

I have come to realize that reality and design in painting are often at odds with each other, and yet both have a world to offer.  And, again, as always, the recipe, the balance, between the two must be determined by each individual artist.  I am happiest when design rules...the place where reality becomes a supporting actor.  A growth spurt...another level of perception. 

I am pleased.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Corner Cupboard

Corner Cupboard   Watercolor   19 x 28
is the resulting work from a "market place challenge" offered up to artists in my class.  While it is always good to paint what you know, it is also good to stretch your boundaries, to be able to see beautiful patterns, shapes and values wherever you go.  As I have already done so very many produce stands,  I went on a photo reference adventure for this challenge  to the local antique mall.  While the dark stern nature of so many antique objects depresses me, I often take a trip there to look around, just because the sights are so very different and stimulating compared to the same-same-sameness and plastic overabundance found in big box stores.  The beauty of many of these older objects has stood the test of time...still functional, still simple, still lovely...with the additional qualities of patina and  imprints of past use.  And, for some reason unbeknownst to even me, I have always been attracted to enamelware, with its chippiness, and small bits of rust. A visual feast!

This work was actually fun to paint, as the cherished whites became the story, and my quick, imperfect strokes reinforced my notion of the subject.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Bully Bunny OR A Preconceived Notion Run Amuck

Bully Bunny   watercolor/relief ink   20 x 10
Rabbits are sweet herbivores, right?  Well...this bunny threw me for a loop.  Most often, I have somewhat of a preconceived notion of the way a work will look upon completion.  Oh, yes, it varies SOMEWHAT.  But, in this case, I was completely surprised as the work twisted and turned and evolved in a completely surprising way.  No predictability here.  The rabbit painting in my brain was a bit more watercolory...more botanical...more realistic.  But at each turn, my personal aesthetic was at odds with the realism of the subject.  The realistic bunny morphed into an Easter Bunny!   While I am not a big fan of the start-over, as the do-overs always seem to follow the same path as the original.  In this case, there were two, yes two, do-overs.  My own sense of correctness was stronger than the realistic representation.

All I can say is SURPRISE!  Yes, bunnies are sweet.  But in this case, this bunny was a bully!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Painting Flowers is the test...

Daisy Tumble   watercolor   7.5 x 9.5
...the ultimate test, for me, in the understanding of bending, twirling and complex forms.  Over the years, I have come to discover what I DO NOT like in floral works:  vases of all kinds (they steal the power); symmetry; perfection; and wall to wall paint.  Therefore, I have come to prefer vignettes, spontaneity, pathways of light (mostly) and pathways of dark, kept to a minimum.  While I am a lover of neutrals, I have to work hard to keep them at bay, so that the mood of the work remains sensual and light...a tall order.  I like complete petals as well as some that remain nondescript.  I like a bit of a hard line somewhere in the work that opposes the organic nature of the blooms.  I am happy with this one.  While I did come in for a second pass and some definition, I do think that I stopped in time.  I never enjoy it when the watercolor police come knocking at my door for having taken a work too far into reality and, as a result, too far removed from imagination.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

She Chose Carefully

She Chose Carefully   oil on burlap on canvas   48 x 24
We have been lucky to patronize many corner markets in San Francisco over the years...loads of produce in bins right on the street.  This gentle older woman had no idea that I was trying to take in all of the lusciousness with my camera.  What struck me immediately was the time she took to select her fruit....which is diametrically opposed to my own always-in-a-hurry process.  And, of course, I end up with produce that is often bruised and sometimes rotten.  She was savoring that very was I.

The canvas:  had been gessoed and covered in burlap and gessoed and gessoed some more.  It had been leaning in the studio for at least a couple of years.  My other experiments on burlap were nature-oriented, a more apt application, I think.  But that day, that particular day, I needed some excitement of the art kind.  I grabbed up that canvas and began work.  Layers and layers of raw umber.   The color was added later.  And, while I like the final result (the burlap relating to the bags of grain and beans at the market), the process was made much more difficult by all of the texture.

Too much gesso.  Too much paint.  Too much work.  Was it worth the effort?  YES!!!!!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Excess Baggage

Excess Baggage   Watercolor   25.5 x 16
is the result of our classroom challenge of "beauty in the marketplace", which is an offshoot of an earlier challenge of "beauty in the basement".  For me, design is everywhere.  Paintings do not need to be inspired by grand cathedrals or exotic foreign destinations to be interesting.  And, indeed, setting up an interesting still life incorporating design can be aggravating as well as time consuming.  Our goal here was to snap photos in any marketplace...and subsequently to  crop, eliminate, and simplify in order to create a wonderful composition.  Artists chose locations with remarkable variety....the deli counter, the produce market and, for me, the local antiques mall. 

My own work is the product of a fusion of two stacks of suitcases.  The glove was added upon the suggestion of one of the classroom artists and was painted from my very own globe. 

I enjoy painting stacks of things....perhaps an attempt to maintain an illusion of balance, as well as to implicate the precarious nature of things....of life itself. 

Most of the luggage was painted first with raw umber to indicate dark and light patterns.  Glazes of color were added later.  The use of this color, to me, not only implies leather, but also creates the feel of "all things vintage"  A license plate with my husband's initials had to be included.

And as for the title "Excess Baggage"....don't we all have some?  I am using this work to inspire me to travel more lightly, to maneuver my way with less stuff.

Enough Said.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Winter Wood

Winter Wood   Watercolor   27.5 x 15
is a scene I witness almost weekly this time of year, as hiking is a wonderful way to break the monotony of indoor time.  We are lucky to be close to a reservoir which provides the ultimate in a brisk and crunchy bit of exercise and freedom.  I love this scene and can feel myself immersed in pleasure when I have time to participate.  Winter is my favorite season, as I appreciate immensely the solitude and calm that it exudes....dim lighting, bare bones and clinging snow that oppose the warmth of the hearth and kitchen.

This painting was a daunting task.  Several times within the process I thought all was lost.  I continued to push, pull and scrape.  Part of the endeavor was the maintenance of the cherished white particles which are the white of the paper.  Khadi paper provided the texture and gritty quality that I desired.  I am satisfied. 

I am so happy to have completed this work in January as the unexpected warmth this year has presented a completely different view outside my studio windows....tomorrow's high is expected to be 70 degrees.  It feels wrong.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Young Buck

Young Buck   Oil   20 x 16 x 1.5 an innocent and hopeful young man.  Without going into detail that would do nothing but stir the alienation pot, let's just say that I am hopeful about the direction of his fate in this unusually charged political climate.  While we are often focused on the equality and fair treatment of women, (I'm all in here), I am also concerned and troubled by the cultural expectations for young men...tender young men.  Strength and sensitivity can coexist.

A Boy.  A Man. A Deer.  A Dear.

Friday, January 20, 2017

On the Move...

Sketchbook Study    Maine Coon
Drawing from life involves patience, much patience, and a bit of luck.  Our son and daughter-in-law have two beautiful Maine Coon cats, as well as a beautiful balcony that overlooks a wooded area and stream in their apartment in balmy North Carolina.  One lovely morning, I sat, watching and sketching, while Gus spent his time catching bugs and admiring the woodland activity.  In this sort of endeavor, I try to have three or so sketches going at one time.  Over the years, I have found that beings of all kinds tend to return to comfortable postures time and time again.  If one is lucky, extremely lucky, some sort of artful drawing results....and sometimes I prefer these small works to more calculated paintings and drawings.  There is a freshness from errant lines and the searching of the pencil. 

A morning well spent.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Deb Drawing Me...but not feeling well

Deb Drawing Me   conte crayon and pastel on unknown bumpy paper   10 x 10
There is nothing more exhilarating than drawing and painting from life.  We hone observation skills, editing and quickness.  The relationship between the model and the artist is heightened.  Feelings are there right in front of you to take in and reciprocate.  I find that working from photo references becomes a slavish process...we can easily be mesmerized by the less important details, thinking erroneously that each and every detail should and must be included. Working and overworking these passages leads to a deadening of the overall work.

Strokes made from life are less accurate, but often more expressive...and the search for truth more impulsive.

This small drawing was completed in about an hour.  Deb, who is usually the perkiest artist in class was not feeling well.  While her feeling of malaise was nothing I would ever wish for, I am somewhat satisfied in the truth of this drawing. 

Personally, I can never understand why the viewing public seems to prefer the photo-studio smiles of the sitter.  What are we really after? 

And....Deb was feeling much better the following week.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Holiday Greeting 2016 (PRESENTS::PRESENCE)

In each of my two painting classes we draw least those artists who have the extra time and inclination at this busiest time of the year.  The idea is to send a handmade watercolor greeting to the person whose name you select.  I made two identical cards, worked simultaneously, side by side, on my support board to send to the two names I had drawn.  Gift boxes are a tough subject, as they readily demonstrate your knowledge and skill with two point perspective.  Each artist brought a pre-wrapped box.  We assembled them into a grand pile and used our view-finders to crop and create pleasing compositions.  Over the years I have received some incredibly beautiful cards and this year was no exception. 

While gift boxes are certainly a viable subject, they imply a bit of the shallow commercialism that seizes us this beautiful time of year.  And yet, they are so beautiful, so colorful, so magical, so playful.  While working on them, I considered the notion of presents::presence.  While each of us probably gave a few presents, and even received a few, the notion of PRESENCE is the quality that I aim for.  I have noticed that most of the people I know and love are supremely capable of PRESENCE in the doing of what moves them.  I guess we call it passion.  And to be present in the moment, whether visiting with friends and family, or while pursuing our passions, is the gift I wish for all.....and for myself.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Monday, October 31, 2016

Polish Pottery

Polish Pottery   watercolor   9 x 19
is powerful, eye-catching and comforting in a folksy kind of way.  Each piece is individual, allowing the user to know which cup is his.  It is also full, full, full of detail.  What was I thinking?  A complete battle was waged within me as I worked.  For me, the overall shapes and rhythms are far more important than the detail.  But, isn't Polish pottery all about the detail?  To and Fro.  Push and Pull.  Again and Again.  This is my final answer.

I need some coffee.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Hydrangea Blooms

Hydrangea Blooms   Watercolor   13 x 10
is a painting that equaled the preconceived image in my mind.  That rarely happens, as I usually don't have such a clear image of my goal....I am a wanderer, I'm afraid.  Each autumn, I clip a few of these papery spent blooms for my front door wreath....they are so very beautiful.....they make my heart sing.  I planned to oppose these light papery things with a hard glass jar....polar opposite textures.  Two sessions were spent in painting the image monochromatically with raw umber.  My new tube of this hue is by Daniel Smith.  I have found it to be more brown than the  more yellowy hue by Winsor and Newton that had been on my palette for years.  Whites were held for most of the progress....more than you see here.  The last session was spent in glazing and dropping color onto the forms....lightly, very very lightly.  On the blooms, the color was absorbed off after a few minutes with a paper towel.  The pattern of the darkest darks was laid in last of all, including the small pockets of dark within the blooms.  The painting was then fine-tuned to my liking.  I am pleased.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Sketchbook Skeleton

Skeleton from sketchbook
I rediscovered this sketch while searching for an empty page to work on.  I have many many books.  Some have been destroyed.  But most maintain the status of a treasured classic on my shelf.  These books represent, to me, the realm of possibility...ideas carried through to painting; ideas discarded; tender drawings whose success was totally unexpected.  Even pages with a line or two, brought to a premature ending due to the temperament of the model, or my own impatient mood.  Either way, I love them. 

What would you retrieve from your home in the face of disaster?  For loving mate....and then my sketchbooks.

They represent a playfulness, a lightness of spirit that easily evaporate when met with the rigors of the leap to paint. 

This drawing was done from a live(?) model.....a skeleton housed in the public school art classroom where I teach on Thursday evenings.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

S. and C.

S. and C.   watercolor   7 x 5
is a small monochromatic work in watercolor done on a Strathmore watercolor card.  The card was given to our son S. as a wedding card.  He and his bride C. were married in  September in a remote location near Pisgah National Park in North Carolina.  Family and close friends stayed in cabins near a stream....we hiked, played ball and floated in the tubes in the days previous to the nuptials which were held on a sandy beach.  It was so very lovely!

I have made these cards for each of our sons...and I tend to diddle way too long on them...I guess in search of perfection.  Painting family members is always more restrictive, as they are so much more precious.  This time I chose to use only brown and am satisfied with the result.  The card was taped to the masonite support both to keep it flat and to create a border when complete.  The artists' tape these days is way too sticky.  I have been using painters' tape (the blue or the green kind) instead, and always rub the tape on my clothing to reduce its tack.  Even then, the nap on the paper is roughed up on its removal.  A slight burnishing with a bone folder can smooth it down again.

Congratulations S and C!

Sunday, September 18, 2016


Mo and Farina   conte crayon and pastel   27.5 x2 0
Mo is my friend and a fellow artist.  Farina is her dog.  Both have been attending our Monday night class for some time.

Farina was dropped off at Mo's house a few years back, possibly the victim of some kind of abuse, as she is highly distrustful of men in general.  Mo swears that she is truly the "best dog ever", as she is kind, obeys, doesn't fact, the two of them travel practically everywhere together.  Farina has gradually gotten used to the men in our class, and more than a few artists have been seen giving her a biscuit now and then.  As she is a herding dog, she only rises from her resting position when fellow artists visit the restroom or nab a cup of coffee.  When all have returned to their seats, she is happy again.

What a pair!  They both add richness to our class, and to our lives, especially those of us without pets. As we begin another Monday evening fall session, we all look forward to these very special classmates!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Melon Man

Melon Man   charcoal and conte on Rives BFK   27.5 x 21
Each Wednesday I trudge on up to our township center to the farmers' market.  I use the term loosely, as there are usually only 3 booths...a gal who bakes scrumptious cookies, a guy who sharpens knives......and the melon man whose booth offers up luscious late-summer produce...a vast array of peaches, squash, sweet onions and much much more.  He was less than thrilled when I asked him to pose with one of his melons.  But, despite my trepidation in asking him, I knew that I would be able to invest myself in this project, as we have a shared experience....him as a seller, and me as a hiker with a backpack heavy with produce.

I began by taping off the right hand side of paper, knowing that I want to create a split visual.  I worked on his figure first of all, which, for the most part, is composed of large and simple shapes.  My next step was to turn the support 90 degrees to the right.  In the taped off area, I created a melon patch.  This part happened quite easily, as I was charmed by the rhythms of the leaves...and the counterspaces that occurred as a result.  In the final stage of the work, I removed the tape and began to integrate the two parts into a "oneness" that satisfied  my sense of aesthetic.  I am quite pleased, as this project offered up a satisfying mix of challenge and fun.  I began by using vine charcoal, then threw conte crayon in the mix, as well as some broad swipes of green pastel...just enough for a color suggestion.

This project renewed my love of drawing (as most of my time is spent painting), as well as renewing my love of conte crayon.

Come October, I will miss my Wednesday treks to the township park.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Learning to Ski in Summer

Deb's Gray Wool Coat   mixed media on paper   28 x 21
refers to a dormant learning period in which new ideas and new lessons have an opportunity to gradually "plant" themselves into your being....a way to process new information before putting it to use.  My ideas seems to follow this path.  My friend and fellow artist Debrah Butler has a most amazing embroidered wool winter coat.  From the first moment I saw her in it, I knew that I had to work this idea.  By the time I asked her, Spring was on its way, and the notion of wearing the coat in a pose, felt way too creepy hot.  The following winter, I shot a few very unplanned photos of her at the end of a way-too-long meeting.  We were both anxious to get moving along in the day.  Oh well.  The ideas took hold, and I simply couldn't wait to work with them.  And is Deb in her wool coat...a picture completed just as the thermometer approaches 90 degrees.

The work started out in vine charcoal.  The biggest challenge I faced was the huge gray form of the coat.  My personal approach was that I needed to break up this form, in order to incorporate the background into a "oneness".  The background sold, as well as the patterns were printed onto the paper with relief ink.  I am satisfied. 

I guess we will be learning to swim this winter.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The Mile High Book Club

Mile High Book Club   oil   24 x 12 x 1.5
is the result of study in my summer drawing class, but, in actuality, has been in my brain for a long while.  My husband and I love to read...and, sometimes, more than one at a time.  As a result, books tend to, there, everywhere.  Our shelves can no longer accommodate the overflow.  Our books rest in stacks surrounding our seating area where we coffee-and-read each morning.  One of the first things we do when we are expecting guests is to re-position, hide and file our stacks. 

In addition, precarious stacks of things reoccur in my work...perhaps an indication and constant reminder of the chaos that needs to be sorted (both material and emotional) in order to facilitate the calm and simplicity that we both desire.

My reference photos were shot on my patio....this smaller work represents approximately 1/3 of my arranged pile.  Passes were made top-to-bottom and bottom-to-top with a particular goal each time.  Relationships became super-important as I tried to establish a bit of back-and-forth rhythm that maintained at least a posture of stability. 

While I am happy and satisfied that one of my long-held ideas was realized, I found that a composition including so many objects severely restrained my need for creativity...just too many masters that needed to be obeyed.

There.  Done. 

Monday, August 1, 2016

Linear Perspective Redux

Books and Gourd Drawing   2 point perspective with many vanishing points
Amazon Box drawing   1 point perspective

Amazon Box drawing   2 point perspective

Stack of Books Drawing   multi vanishing points

Cups Drawing   the ellipse

In our summer drawing class, we have been revisiting some of the challenges of drawing to create an illusional three-dimensional reality on a two-dimensional surface.  Redux, again and again. We can all use a refresher!  Fore-shortening creates havoc in the brain.  Sight-sizing produces lots of surprises while our six-year-old child brains still store what we see as a face-on viewpoint.  We "know" the box to be oblong.  Drawing it otherwise, as it obeys the laws of linear perspective is our goal.  Many of the problems I see in painting are actually underlying drawing errors. This week we are tacking transparency.  More to come.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

A Controversial Basket

Controversial Basket   oil on canvas   24 x 18 x 2.5
Like lots of folks, I am attracted to handmade items...those with a bit of quirkiness and imperfections that reveal the hand of the maker.  Being a maker myself, I think about the process of the weaving, the colors, the patterns and the satisfaction of the artist.  And, I like to least look at the myriad of beautiful things that perk up our lives.  At a wonderful look-only upscale boutique next door to one of my galleries, I spotted an amazing basket which could be a potential gift for friend or family.  I approached cautiously, hoping that it might be within my birthday gift range.  The oh-so-lucky sale price was in the high seventies...dollars that is.  Whoa.  Move on.  My trip home involved a stop at a discount store for a few grocery items and a quick spin through the closeout section.  This basket, similar to the boutique beauty, was $9.99.  Yeah!

Two baskets.  Both beautiful.  Very similar.  And yet, I have a sneaking suspicion that the craftsperson's wage was the same in each case.  Probably below the minimum wage standard in our country.  Probably work with no benefits.  Woe is me.