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Monday, December 22, 2014

All That Glistens

All That Glistens   mixed on canvas   24 x 18
I was the student whose reports the teachers hated.  I simply couldn't resist using glitter on the covers of all my book reports.  There was just something magical about the glistening and sparkling that tickled my fancy.  I was too young to think about that glitter that ended us on their coats and in their vehicles.  These days, I use glitter with more discretion....but I still love it.

The dark season needs the glitter of metallic surfaces and the reflections of brilliance off of glass surfaces.  It makes me happy.  And given the number of friends who have a hard time dismantling their Christmas trees, I don't think that I am alone.

The true brilliance, however, comes from the conviviality and love  of all the dear ones coming together to celebrate good food, conversation both serious and silly, enjoyment of nature, hugs and kisses.....from children, grandchildren, friends and the friends of friends.  Our home has glistened brightly....I am replenished with the goodness and love that it takes to begin another year of work and exploration through paint.

Glory be!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Christmas Chaos

Christmas Chaos   watercolor on Yupo   8 x 8
Like it or not, the heightened festivities also come with more to do, more to make, more to feel.  And, yes, I send too many cards, put up too many ornies and bake too many cookies.  Untangling strings of lights and following unfamiliar recipes can be frustrating, for sure.  But when all is said and done, chaos gives way to the altered experience of the holiday season, and, briefly, takes us out of the mundane.

How fitting that this work was painted on Yupo paper, a synthetic paper with a surface not unlike wax paper....control is forgone.  Accidents rule.

Relish the chaos.  Relish the glitter.

Oh yeah.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Three Lads

Three Lads   conte/charcoal/relief ink on paper   19 x 14
was inspired in part by a vintage photograph in our family archives which features my father-in-law Luther and two companions on a boat ride on the Hudson River sometime in the 30's.  By subtracting detail and color, the three gestural shapes are emphasized and empowered.  White values start at the top and work their way down.  Just the opposite with the darks.  Ties were printed on later using relief ink, erasers and tracing paper templates.

This drawing was begun in a workshop "Using Value to Punctuate and Strengthen Drawings and Paintings".  I joyfully finished it at home.

Friday, November 21, 2014


Remnants   mixed on paper   11 x 16.75
is a mixed media drawing utilizing some of nature's creations left behind in autumn.  This drawing was begun as a workshop demonstration on value.  In this case, the darks move from left to right helping to explain the objects in the drawing...a tiny unhatched blue egg within a twiggy nest, some sweet gum seeds in a jar and a pie pumpkin.  The objects themselves require planning and fairly good draftsmanship in the rendering.  I like to think, however, that there is something bigger, more important, than each of the chosen is the rhythm between them that, for me, simultaneously simplifies and empowers.  So be it.  My final answer.

I used:  charcoal pencils, conte crayon, watercolor, powdered charcoal and gouache....quite the concoction!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Drawing Trees

Hawthorne Tree   charcoal on paper   8 x 10
is harder than one might think....and it was at the top of the list for further study in our drawing class.  Some common mistakes:  a too-dark value when relying on a photo reference; not considering the "counter-spaces" between the limbs; and using organic line to describe the limbs, making the tree appear to be weak and rubbery.  I believe that the best resolve for study would be an up-close-and personal sketching session of the joint between a tree trunk and its limb, revealing the play of light and shadow, the roundness and the structure that occurs during branching.  Trees are not created equally.  Each genus has a characteristic rhythm of branching and its own particular height:width ratio.  Of course, background trees can be treated more generally, but a tree portrait must have a likeness, akin to a portrait work.

This hawthorne tree in my neighborhood caught my eye.  We used to have one in our yard as well.  It branches low and sprouts long dangerous needles everywhere.  We also called it a "witch's tree".  My husband couldn't come close on his riding mower without fear of being spiked.  Still....I think the hawthorne is a beautiful and wild-looking tree.  Perhaps a metaphor for...............................

Friday, November 7, 2014


Elsie's Winter Coat   charcoal/pastel   17 x 10.75
is a simple drawing.  My challenge:  using toned paper.  Using toned paper is something that appeals to many adds a twist to the usual black and white.  What we must keep in mind is that its inherent value must be considered as part of the drawing itself.  I started with a light midtone....values went up and down from there.  A band of ruptured color was added for excitement.  I tried to understate the spots while concentrating on the form of the cow.

Also a plus:  using a piece of paper that I had been hoarding for many years...its original intention completely forgotten.  That added some excitement to the mix.

Friday, October 31, 2014


Annie   watercolor/relief ink   9.75 x 9.25
is an enthusiastic volunteer at "our" art center who posed for our watercolor class a few weeks back.  It was a two-week pose, the first week relegated to drawing and familiarizing; the second to the actual painting.  My "spot" was way off to the side where I saw only the shadow side of Annie's face.  I decided to use only monochromatic cool washes for the rendering, partially because that told the story of her pose relative to my easel, and also to oppose her colorful floral scarf with the simplicity of the face. In the end, I decided to cut a template and print the background area with relief ink, again to oppose:  the light airy watercolor strokes with an opaque and solid rest area.  This is certainly unlike anything I have previously done....and, I can honestly say, I like it...this was the story that presented itself to me.

Thanks, Annie!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Words Can Hurt As Well

Words Can Hurt As Well   charcoal and watercolor   16 x 10.75
is the result of a class drawing project.  I find that drawing things inside a glass jar helps to be able to draw what you see, rather than what you know to be there.  The paper:  an unknown specimen from my stash....always a risk.  (Note to self: remember to label paper.....there is nothing worse than investing creative time and energy using a support that doesn't jive with your intent)  I chose sticks and stones.  It was rendered with a Derwent charcoal pencil.  The color:  slate.  These pencils allow for a softer rendering than pure black....and come in several earthtone flavors.  When getting my setup ready, I was disappointed that my Ball jar was a turquoise one....thought I would have preferred clear.  However, while completing the work at home, I added a light watercolor wash in a turquoise mix and was pleasantly surprised....and quite happy that the paper held up.

My usual process is so much more complicated.  This simple project allowed me to get back to basics...drawing from observation.  Discipline before freedom.  Here.  Here.

Thursday, October 16, 2014


Jig   watercolor/relief ink   14 x 28
is the result of openness.  A conflict has arisen in my artistic pursuits.  My favorite subject:  the human figure.  However, posed models are usually at rest, and often the result of someone else's idea of a terrific pose....the artist providing for and arranging the model session.  A group session, of course, has the advantage of the shared expense of the model.  My own studio is rather small and cannot provide the distance I need for my own "big picture".  So, more and more, I am relying on photographs which, for me, do provide that distance, as well as the ability to be altered and pushed into my own vision.  This young woman was playing the fiddle in the middle of the gazebo in my small town during our Wednesday Farmers Market.  She was back-lit, unfortunately, so I had to cull out information from the darkness provided.  I love her active one to be sure. in all meaningful rhythms, runs counter to the direction of her bow.  In order to give more power to the gesture, my task was to combine shapes where possible and eliminate unnecessary detail.  I am happy to have kept my eyes open to possibility and to accept what which was given to me.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Pumpkin and Pediment

Pumpkin and Pediment   watercolor   12.5 x 20
is the result of a challenge that I offered to myself...that of painting only from a sketch.  In years past (decades, actually) I found myself married to the reality of the subject.  We are then, I think, subject to the reality of the objects in terms of "getting it right".  I am hoping that "getting it right" in the future includes much more of my personal the strokes and in the paint quality itself.  I have found that the more I remove myself from the objects themselves, the more I rely on my personal observations and feelings...the result is less emotional, less trite, I guess.  Two favorite objects are the subject:  a pie pumpkin and the broken back of a former patio bench that is saved in our garage.  I cannot resist hand-carved things.  Shapes are polar opposites:  organic and geometric.  Patterning which I adore.  Textures opposed as well.  A limited color palette featuring complements and the resultant green.  I am quite happy with the result and plan to continue working from sketches.

Friday, September 26, 2014


Medium   oil on canvas   30 x 24 z .5
was painted from life.  The subject:  my friend Mo.  We ran into each other last week for the first time in months...we are both busy, busy artists.  This is a prime example of commitment, I think...when your love for the subject reveals itself in your strokes.  I have always loved this work...the symmetry of the pose supports the theme, I think.  Only the hands break the concentration, with the right pinkie finger lifted revealing a sense of motion, of life. 

Quite frankly, I am surprised by this work, its patterns, its feel.  The muse must have been on my shoulder during this one.

Thank you, Mo.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Nurse Jackie and Anna Deavere Smith and Uncertainty

Kevin   oil on canvas   14 x 11 x 1.5 hits like a bolt of lightning! My current read is Letters to a Young Artist by Anna Deavere Smith, which is a spin-off of Letters to a Young Poet by Rilke, a profound work with creatives in mind.  Smith's work is more geared toward  actors, musicians and visual artists of all kinds.  Smith states that while confidence and certainty are the preferred states-of-being for most careers, questions and uncertainty are the stuff of artists.  I have recently been floundering.  Realism becomes stagnant, boring.  My alterations are sometimes scary and always risky.  Being reminded of the value of uncertainty, I felt completed renewed and at one with my work. Standing alone is difficult at times.

AND THEN..........imagine my surprise to see Anna Deavere Smith appearing at hospital administrator Gloria Akalitus on Nurse Jackie!
All coming together.

As far as Nurse Jackie.....she is definitely in a profession that values confidence and certainty.  She is tenuous on both counts.....lots of gray area.....lots of flaws....perhaps that is why she is so very interesting.

Kevin represents a new spin on "portrait"....a interesting turn of events.  For me.

Sunday, September 7, 2014


Cathy   oil on canvas   12 x 9 x .5
is an amazing woman who posed for our class....and also the wife of one of the group artists.  She is and has been a teacher, a wife, a mother. an ardent supporter of her husband's work and a minister.  Her open and inquisitive nature provided a bond for me that allowed for a tender interpretation.  Before we painted, a genuine and positive observation was made by Sharon, another artist in the class.  Her observation:  Cathy is rosy.  That simple statement led my process.  Generalizations can be good...they take us away from the mass of detail before us and lead the way to the "gestalt".  After all, detail + detail = just more detail....and often too much.  I am grateful for Sharon's simple observation and also to have met this wonderful woman.

And....she reminded me of the inspirational book I read when my children were small about Alva Myrdal who postponed her career until later in life, after child-rearing responsibilities were somewhat lessened..  She was a Swedish sociologist and politician who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1982. You go girls.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Architectural Delights

Fenn  Corn Crib   oil on canvas   20 x 20 x 1.5
abound here in Northeast Ohio...and they never cease to interest me.  Yin Yang.  My figurative work is composed of organic forms, organic line.  Perhaps the geometric forms of old buildings help my sense of aesthetic balance.  The Fenn Corn Crib is on the grounds of The Kelso House and Museum in Brimfield Ohio.  I chose to accentuate its symmetry by choosing a square format and by placing it plop in the middle.  The uneven hand cut boards, the seen-better-days lumber and the peeling paint thrilled me almost as much as the Gothic window on top, which, by the way, has a mirror window on the other side.  No drive-through corn farms for the Fenns.  Painting such a building fills me with respect for the folks of earlier times whose life was certainly no walk in the park.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Fixit! (please)

Fixit   oil on canvas   12 x 9 x 1.5
is a still life painting done for and in our summer oil painting class.  The still life genre is perfect for study as one can incorporate not only objects that are personally pleasing, but a melange of shapes and sizes that can teach us about composition and design.  This time I perused objects from the garage, as kitchen objects have had their fair share of play time in my work.  This one was difficult, as my style, which is usually quite soft, had to be altered in order to interpret the solidity, strength and linear qualities which can be alien to me.  The color palette was also a challenge as I wished for strength and neutrality.  Brights inappropriate.  After several sessions, I am satisfied.

I also realize how many times I say to my husband, "Fixit, please!"

Saturday, August 9, 2014

African Daisies

African Daisies   oil on canvas   5.5 x 12 x 1.5
are the subject of this small painting.  Although flowers are not my usual subject matter, I do appreciate all they have to offer in terms of learning:  complexity, rhythm, intense as well as subtle hues, and those darned ellipses!  Most of my work requires much contemplation, much deliberation, and many changes.  These small florals offer a bit of a break in the opportunity to paint what is before me.  This arrangement is a small cropping from a large plant on our patio.  I also enjoyed a variance in the usual format.  My goal was to allow patterns of both darks and lights to weave through the work in a rhythmic way.  I am pleased...for now.  (Pleasure in painting, I'm afraid, is fleeting)

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Farmer Brown

Farmer Brown   mixed on paper   26.75 x 12
was an experimental work....then aren't they all?  The reference was an old family photo.  I have always been taking with white shirts and, in this case, on watercolor paper, the shirt, with very little description, is the cherished white of the paper.  I have been so very interested of late in simple shapes, so that the pants, shoes and hat are flatly rendered.  Details, which  support the three-dimensional aspect, have been used sparingly in order to achieve a greater simplicity.  The ground was achieved by printing with relief ink onto the surface and scraped upwards while still tacky.  Mediums used:  pastel, conte, watercolor and relief ink.  It took all of that to achieve the feel that I was after. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

West End,

West End (NC)   watercolor   25.5 x 15
North Carolina is a sleepy little town we pass through on the way to visit my husband's parents.  Usually the weather is sunny, hot and humid.  But the day I ventured into the town with my camera moodiness prevailed...the feel was impending storminess.  Water tanks dotting the skies in various towns throughout our country.  Attention demanded and attention paid.

This month The Water Tank Project will wrap more than 100 of the city's iconic rooftop water tanks in artists' canvases, versions of which will be auctioned to raise funds for projects in Tanzania and other places facing dire water shortages.  Each American uses about 100 gallons of water per day, as compared with two to five gallons used by the average person in sub-Saharan Africa.

Water....a most precious resource.  Attention must be paid.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Tucked Away

Tucked Away   Watercolor   14 x 11
is the title.  And this work was indeed tucked away for several years.  When we artists look at previous work, I believe that we cannot help but think that with our current level of experience, the work would be vastly improved.  Sometimes this is achievable...sometimes not.  If the entire work suffers from the pieces/parts syndrome (no cohesion), the work is probably best left alone....allowing for, at the very least, a recognition of what went wrong and the application of that knowledge in future work.  In this case, the fix was a bit simpler.  The cropping was wrong, in my opinion.  Too many midtones....not enough dark passages. 

 One must be aware, however, that in gains, there are also losses.  In looking at the original file, now, I see a freshness of color that was eradicated.  OK, then.

Note to self:  let sleeping paintings lie.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Stacks of Things

Clay Pots   watercolor/paper   19.5 x 11
intrigue me...they are vertical, yet precarious, perhaps a symbol, for me, of the human condition.  One artist in my painting class, in a search for self-definition, has declared her love of the effects of light.  That is, for most artists, the common, yet difficult, quest.  Light creates beautiful patterns on our subjects, as well as transient warm to cool transitions.  I, too, love those patterns as they help to define the planes of my subject matter.  But there I must draw the line, as my love of the more simple shapes and the abstract-ness of my picture plane takes precedence.  For this work, I photographed my subject matter in strong light on my patio from several angles, then selected the one that thrilled me the most.  Clay pots hold great interest for me...we use them.  They crack and break.  We use bits and pieces of them in the bottoms of new plants.  They are weathered and imperfect.

Ah, yes, a metaphor for the human condition.

Clay Pots.

Monday, June 23, 2014

While I'm in the neighborhood...

Cow (on yellow ground)   watercolor/mixed on paper   10.75 x 15

Rooster (on orange ground)  watercolor/mixed on paper   11.5 x 14
I thought I would try a couple more.  Actually, there was a pig as well that I attempted before a trip.  Alack and alas, I was far too distracted with details....tried to hurry....and, as we all know, ART can never be hurried!  Creative minds yearn for novelty...that is what keeps our engagement so focused.  Yet, there is nothing like the first attempt into the unknown, where disaster is at our heels each minute, to make the experience explosive.  I read somewhere sometime, that the death of all art forms comes from becomes too perfect, too polished.  I am satisfied for now and will come home to my paintings with renewed energy.

My current read:  Rapt:  Attention and the Focused Life by Winifred Gallagher.  Wonderful!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Road Trip - Sheep (on green ground)

Sheep (on green ground)   charcoal, watercolor and relief ink on paper   10.75 x 15
Road trips take one off of the beaten path and add discovery and excitement to our lives.  Every so often, I feel the need to enlighten my studio experience.  For some time, I had been craving a drawing experience, as most of my time is spent painting, a more complex experience.  Charcoal conte pencils were used to render the sheep on a sheet of unknown paper (when will I learn to be a better labeler?).  Watercolor was added here and there, as was a sprinkling of powdered charcoal and some blasts of water spray from a bottle.  No method to my madness at all.  Just a trusting of design elements and my hard-won experience of failure and success at creating images that hold my interest and express my personal sense of visual aesthetic.  Relief ink was printed on top...that being the most unreliable of the processes.  Water, pressure and placement are all unreliable variables.  I am thrilled by the layering of pigments and yet, at the same time, am striving for simpler shapes...a combining, of sorts, of traditional realism with a more modern simplicity, where details are highly edited and discarded.

I am pleased.  Road trip....yeah!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Happy Father's Day...N and S

N and S   conte crayon, charcoal and watercolor on paper    10 x 10
This is a mixed media work on paper of my son and his infant daughter.  Nothing beats subject matter from the heart!  While the reference itself provided a diagonal movement, I strove for a horizontal melding of the two subjects by manipulation of the pigment.  Horizontal=Status=Restfulness=All is Right with the World.  Patterning within patterning.  Two become one. 

Friday, May 30, 2014


Memory (K and S)   oil on canvas   9 x 12 x .5
provides sweetness as we age. The birth of a child is monumental.  And the birth of a granddaughter is right up there as well.  Sometimes the responsibilities are trying.  Time alters situations as quickly they occur.  The heaviness of responsibility turns to the sweetness of memory. seems like just yesterday.

Here's to a new generation of Hutchinsons.  Welcome little S.  We adore you.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


Marlowe Looking for Yellow   watercolor and relief ink on paper   13 x 10.5
the clown keeps showing up in my life's rhythm.  First Night Akron.  Mostly Weathervane Playhouse where we both frequent.  I was lucky enough to run into Marlowe (a.k.a. Irv Korman) a month or so ago at the theater where he was selling his two current books (also available through Amazon).  He volunteered to model for our watercolor class at Cuyahoga Valley Art Center.

Painting a clown has some distinct advantages, the most apparent being the dreaded difficulty of painting the human face made a bit easier, I think, by the cariactured features.  Two sessions.  And, in keeping with his clown alter ego, Marlowe broke the seriousness of the sessions every now and again with a bit of whimsy from his clown book of tricks. Most artists chose the full figure.  One creative chose just the splayed legs with the gigantic clown shoes as the focal area.  I chose a portrait.  The portrait was rendered in watercolor.  Although the transparent yellow background was "just fine", I chose to use relief ink in the background finally as I felt it's white chalkiness complemented the white grease paint on the face.

Painting Marlowe the clown.  Serious business.

The teardrops painted on his eye helped with the title "Marlowe Looking for Yellow".

Thursday, May 22, 2014


Strawberry Basket   oil on canvas   12 x 5.5 x 1.25
needs to be included in the process of painting, I think.  Too often, for myself as well, painting takes on an active role just as one paints a wall, a house.  Cut in the edges.  Use a roller.  Any spots left?  Passive painting includes the time that one spends without a brush in hand in consideration of what needs done, what will improve the work.  The most dreaded question for me in class is, "What do I do next?", for that implies my own sense of aesthetic, rather than the aesthetic of the artist whose work is being considered. 

Strawberry Basket was originally painted from life in my studio in a back-lit situation.  I have never fared well in that situation as the reality of the scene (the play of light) needs to define the work, rather than my own design-based approach.  I am at odds.  Originally this work had a dark background, a kind of old masters take on the subject.  I just couldn't live with it.  After much consideration, the project was reinvented with my own sense of correctness.  I am happy.

We must, in my opinion, hone our own aesthetic sensibility, a personal sense of correctness.  Therein lies our style, that which we are seeking.

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Red Onion Gang

The Red Onion Gang   oil on canvas   5.5 x 5.5 x 1.5
is a small ditty...painted between projects...using the onion left over from a watercolor still life.  I use these small paintings as practice, for combining colors, for switching from a large format to small, and for using smaller tools and less sweeping brushwork.  In essence, I paint these small works to stay in touch with reality, for observation of what is directly in front of my nose.  My larger works tend to spin off from these goals into my create::destroy mode where I create new and larger problems to solve, where an altered reality becomes a desired state.

While never easy, painting sometimes needs to be, for me, just a simple exercise.  Not every meal needs to be gourmet.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Nude Leaning

Nude Leaning   watercolor/mixed   12.25 x 9.5

We hired a life model a couple of weeks ago for class painting.  My painting was fairly regular in its description...but the work lacked pizazz.  First I experimented with painting a loose, mid-value background.  Still pleasing.  Still boring.  I wanted texture to oppose the smoothness of the model's skin.  I wanted opacity to oppose the transparency of the figure.  After cutting a template to cover the figure, I used relief ink to print onto the background area.  The small dots were actually happy accidents....bits of dried ink that stuck to block and prevented total coverage.  What a hoot!

Experimentation doesn't always work out well.  But it always provides a thrill!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Young Man

Young Man   oil on canvas   36 x 24 x 1.5
For years and years, I painted and drew from live models.  As I look back, there are only a few that stirred my soul.  Mostly, I did not know them personally.  Sometimes their attitudes and demeanor did not invite me inward.  I need to be somewhat inspired by the person in front of me in some way....I need to feel a connection of sorts in order to invest my emotions in the work.  And this process is mostly non-verbal.  (I don't need to chat, go for coffee, or even verbally relate.....I just need to be inspired)  In many cases, for me, at least, the take-a-break personality interferes with my investment....breaks the mood.  OK.  So I'm picky.  For me, art is so very pure and my work reflects who I am, so, yes, there is an investment, a collaboration of the genuine.  This was one such model.  The young man.  The laborer.  Perhaps my affection has to do with the fact that I have three sons.  This is their look.  Their uniform.

"Young Man" is currently on exhibit at Group Ten Gallery.  Our opening is tonight in Kent, Ohio and features the work of Jeff Fauser (Reconfigurations) and Jance Lentz (Trees and Barns).  Come on in.

Friday, May 2, 2014

We are what we eat...

Cabbage, Carrots, Garlic and Red Onion   watercolor   9 x 13
and we paint what we are....yes....I believe that to be true.  Every stroke reflects the maker.  Every stroke reflects a decision made by the maker that, in actuality, could probably not be repeated by another.  So, for the most part, my paintings become somewhat predictable in that they reflect my own problem solving skills that repeat themselves over time.  And yet, this one surprised me!  It is tighter than usual.  Normally I paint the background in one or two layers with perceivable strokes.  This time I tried something different....a background comprised of multitudinal washes of transparent hues..rose madder, raw sienna and raw no particular order except what directional I perceived as a lack.  (it needs to be warmer.....etc......add sienna)  Normally, I am not that patient.  In this case, I feel that the flat reflective background plays against the textural painting of the vegetables and even plays up the power of that element.

I love to eat vegetables.  I love to paint vegetables.  I am satisfied with this work.

And yet....I am surprised!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Early Morning

White April Morning Daffodils   oil/canvas   12 x 24

Yellow April Morning Daffodils   oil/canvas   12 x 24
Daffodil paintings are presented here as a kind of "blast from the past".  I had a comment recently from a fellow artist congratulating me on these new works.  Actually, these paintings were done in 2005 and no longer in my least in the material sense.  The feelings I have when I look out into the yard to see these glowing clusters surfaced again this week.  While I enjoy this work from nearly a decade ago, I understand that this work can no longer be repeated.  My work has evolved.  I have evolved.  I can appreciate them but celebrate the self-examination and changing process that has occurred in my artistic endeavor.  The work of a lifetime is very much like a diary.

I am different now.  But I still get a charge out of early morning daffodils.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Royal Egg

Royal Egg   watercolor   13.75 x 6
is a second attempt at painting an egg on a silk scarf, the first being many years ago.  I wanted the egg to rest center stage.  I wanted to oppose the hard shell with the gossamer feel of cloth.  I am pleased with this result, especially with the paint quality.  While the paper was still damp and the support laying flat, I drizzled and dipped into raw umber in the area around the egg.  The resultant granulation excites me.  The difficulty was the lay of the scarf, which, despite my best attempts, positioned itself differently in each of four sessions...twice during two different class sessions and twice during two separate sessions at home.

An homage to the humble egg...isn't that where everything begins?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Aging Beauty Queen

Aging Beauty Queen  watercolor & gouache   20.25 x 12
On trips to see our family, I never include huge plans for art-making.  So many loved ones to visit.  So many new things to see.  On this recent trip, my one teeny weeny goal was to sketch our new granddaughter....and then maybe to turn it into a small watercolor.  The sketch is dear but unfinished.  Walking through the streets of the Mission district in San Francisco has its rewards, however.  The top half of this aging Victorian home became my first subject back in the studio.  Much detail was distilled and subdued in order to put focus on the fire escape and its shadow.  I used body color in the sky and a few strokes within the structure in order to contrast with the remaining transparency.  I believe that this process makes the transparent passages even more so...even more powerful. 

While urban life within can, at times, seem romantic and magical, I can honestly say that I am quite satisfied with life inside my quiet studio.  I have become a curious onlooker.

Friday, April 4, 2014

A Gift

S...   a sketchbook drawing
is far too often measured in material terms, especially these days....a thing along with a $5 card to go along with.  A more precious gift is that of time, which is more difficult than ever to come by.  Our recent gift, a lovely new granddaughter, was magnified by two weeks holding, caressing and welcoming her into the world.  Our son and lovely wife live far from us, so the gift was doubly appreciated.  Time spent sketching.  Time spent adoring.  Time to just be.

Although this sketch was never quite finished, I will cherish the moments spent in the doing, in the observation, with her tucked between my legs on the couch.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Boots and Socks.....again?

Boots and Socks   watercolor   10.5 x 19
"In Like a Lion" is how March began here in northeast Ohio....snowstorms continue to surprise and schools still calling off a day now and then. Spring is in the air.  The light quality is enlightening.  But we are still wearing boots.  I have always found studies of boots and shoes to be interesting...reflecting the taste and the daily habits of the wearer.  I thought that this painting was done, although I continued to ruminate about the long horizontal format and the lack of rhythm between the two boots.  So, on a very brave day, I pulled the work out of the mat and added the vertical cad red stripe on the left and a couple of touches of orange.  Ahhhhhh........much better.

Spring sometimes comes does resolution.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Chinoiserie Eggs

Chinoiserie Eggs   watercolor   12.5 x 9
was one of the RARE RARE watercolors that happened easily.  It is currently on view at our "Group Ten and Friends" exhibit at Group Ten Gallery in Kent, Ohio.  Currently being exhibited is the work of:

Debrah Butler
John Sharp
Brant Gebhart
Ben Bassham
Tom Webb
John Pavlicek
Judy Gaiser
Larry Walker
Judith Carducci
Jance Lentz
Geoff Mowery
A.D. Peters
John Smolko
Zach Smolko
.........................................and your truly.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Winter in the Adirondack

Winter in the Adirondack   watercolor   18.75 x 11
Our assignment:  a snow scene.  And that is good.  Because we, here in Northeast Ohio, have been looking at it for several months now.  (And being a winter-lover, I, for one, am not complaining at all).  While winter landscapes are often fairly easily rendered in watercolor, the genre doesn't excite me much.  Too many little shapes.  I decided to paint one of our patio chairs.  This painting took layers and layers to complete....the snow in the center of the chair with very few, the background and chair surround with more.  While I really like to get to the point as soon as possible, that notion goes out the door until the desired atmosphere is achieved.  I wanted a gauzy feel, yet solid....a sort of richness that occurs when pigment is layered.  Although I spent a good amount of time on the drawing, it took meandering in paint to work my way into a rhythm that suited me.

The walls at Rockne's restaurant in Kent are covered with movie press photos.  This one reminds me of the one for The Shining....Jack Nicholson seated in a snowy Adirondack chair looking like his usual crazy self.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Sinkside...a tribute to Marc Folly

Sinkside   watercolor   10.5 x 8
Our challenge in class was dishes and kitchen utensils in an arrangement of sorts...we dove head-first into ellipses broken up by the straight linear qualities of the utensils.  We, in our class, have been quite taken with the work of French watercolorist Marc Folly.  Ah.........the glories of the internet.  I am no exception.  His work has a fresh abstract quality that is easily admired.  He works at creating paths of light through the work....real light as well as patterned light that functions as a beautiful rhythm, leading the eye as well as the imagination.  Interestingly, an artist friend dropped off a few older copies of The French-publication The Art of Watercolour.  This lovely magazine is beefy and chock full of information minus the advertising.  As luck would have it, I happened on an article about Marc Folly and his complete surprise!  He spends lots of time on the pre-painting drawing; he begins with strong darks; and he is not afraid to scrub out!  As an oil painter as well, I saw the art-making possibilities for any medium.  "Sinkside" is my tribute to Marc Folly...and a way for me to channel his methodology.

Our chapeaux are off to Marc Folly!  (And let us not forget the "u" in watercolour!)

P.S. Please visit the work of Helen Strom of Paris who responded to this post.

Thursday, February 13, 2014


Tapper   oil on canvas   48 x 24 x 1.5
Tapper is what I hope to be the beginning of a series of vertical figure paintings of people....just people....those who inspire and who "do the daily" in an interesting way.  One of my favorite artists of all times is Tyrone Geter who, in a former life, taught at The University of Akron.  Clippings of his work still hang on my inspiration bulletin board.  For me, the work goes beyond the visual.  His telling is big...very very big.  My own stories will probably not be like his.  The soulfulness of his work is built in, the African heritage with its strong values and intense patterning.  But I hope to achieve a strong feeling of the stories I have yet to tell...that is my wish.

Tapper was inspired by some photos in our family album.  I see a hesitancy in her stance.  

Wish me luck.  Wish me hard but good work.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Enigma of the Candy Cane

Canes in a Jam Jar   watercolor   9 x 6
We claim to love candy canes.  Pre-holiday treat displays feature stacks and stacks of canes, all manner of flavors, sizes and shapes.  They make a beautiful statement on the buffet or on the tree.  It seems, however, that we really don't eat them.  The post-holiday reduced section at all retail stores features the same stacks and stacks.  Long after all the goodies at our house have been consumed, crumbs of cookies gobbled up to the finish, the lone jar of canes remains.  When our watercolor class started up at the art center, treats that no one eats at home start to show up in the kitchenette.....PLEASE, PLEASE, won't someone eat these canes?  So when we grabbed up objects to paint that first evening, I went for the canes...they are visually interesting, lovely really.  This work was completed in watercolor.  A whitish gouache wash was put in the covered errant strokes that I found distracting and added to the feel of the season.  The lovely pattern on the jar lid was underplayed to shift attention to the canes themselves.

So....what's up with candy canes?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


Vintage Vinegar Jar   watercolor   11.5 x 8
as an artist is difficult to come by.  Long ago, I read somewhere that it takes 500 + paintings in order to find one's style, one's place in the painting spectrum.  In the beginning, we are just trying to "get it right".  It takes plenty of brush yielding to attain the freedom to own your make it your own.  Contemporary galleries often desire work that is incredibly specialized....the painter repeating the same forms over and over with slight variances, in order for collectors to be able to recognize THE WORK.  I am a naysayer.  While I enjoy figurative work immensely, I also enjoy painting all kinds of things...even a landscape or two now and then.  In this case, I found this vintage vinegar jar at our local art center where shelves are filled with all manner of interesting objets, all ripe for the painting.  I enjoyed this little exercise.  I like to think that it is my manner of application, my stroke-making, my individual hand, that defines my work.  My life.  My decision.  My self-definition. 

I can paint whatever stirs something in me.  Yeah!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Winter Naps

Winter Nap   charcoal/pastel   28 x 18
come easily in the dark season....even if you don't wish it.  It must relate somehow to a kind of hibernation...layers of  warm clothing, the warmth of an engaging fire and an early sunset all collaborate to induce sleep.  Drawing a napping person has always been one of my favorite things to do.  The model is happy and relaxed.  Weight is suspended.  I enjoy the articulation of the intersections of person and pillow, of person and support.  "Winter Nap" was drawn from a model at Summit Artspace as a poorly-attended demonstration one winter afternoon.  I so enjoyed this undertaking!  The green was added later - to merge, to liven and to soften.  That year my son was married in San Francisco.  Their wedding photos were shot by a pair of Portland twins who journeyed south for the event.  All of the photos seemed to have a greenish cast which conveyed an earthiness as well as visual mystery.  I decided to try it myself and was pleasantly please with the results.

Thursday, January 23, 2014


is one of the many many models whom I have drawn or painted over the past many years.  While I do strive for a likeness of sorts, I most often use these sessions for experimentation.  As I recall, I was disappointed that I had rendered her face too long from hairline to chin.  However, this is one of my favorite portraits in its "feel" and its expressiveness. 

We have a new "print" rack at Group Ten Gallery.  Amanda is wrapped all in cellophane and is offered as an unframed work. 

Amanda?  I'm afraid that I don't even recall her last name....but I thank her nonetheless.
Amanda   charcoal   16.5 x 11

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Letting Go

The Letting Go   oil on canvas   40 x 30 x 1.5
of all kinds of things is scary...letting go of habits, of crutches, of perfectionism.  And yet, letting go allows for many more opportunities, more confidence, and an increasingly greater realm of creativity.  When I was a child, I took swimming lessons.  As a below-average swimmer, I always took care to choose the lane in the pool that was on the edge, just in case I needed to hang on to the wall as a security device.  After a few sessions, my instructor caught on to my trick and told me to take the center lane.  That was when I learned to swim.  By increasing our drawing skills, and by letting go of photographs we are able to achieve more freedom in our paintings.  And that is indeed the most difficult thing to do.  As children, we are able to doodle all over the page without terror.  As adults, we somehow become mired in reality and glued to details that are actually unimportant.  In the long run, I believe that we will only achieve freedom when we let go of our visual crutches.

My actress friend calls this "being off book".  Essentially, this means that it is only when you have memorized the script, and can put it down, that you are able to be creative with your own interpretation of your character.

My current read is The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.  On page 578, (for those of you with an investigative inclination), is a description of paintings that illustrate my point....and a lengthy discussion at that.  Too much perfectionism deadens.  The masters are indeed masters at the creating the illusion of the subject, while using the paint, the strokes and their hands, as well as the subject.

Let go..............if only one hand at a time.

"Letting Go" is currently on exhibit at Group Ten Gallery in Kent, Ohio.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


Eleanor enjoying Thanksgiving Day...from my sketchbook
is one of the most pleasurable of winter pastimes.  We are, after all, animals who respond to temperature and activity changes.  Sketching nappers is just as pleasurable for me.  The unmoving model (for the most part).  The way the weight of the figure melds into the cushion, the blanket, the pillow.  Some of my best sketches have been nappers.  Quiet.  Quiet.  A treat for both the napper and the observer.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Precious Hours

were spent over the holidays with our grandson "E".  Of course, as is life with a 16-month-old, our activities were punctuated with naps.  Such was the case when we visited Turtle Run park where one can hand-feed the sparrows which is one of our Christmas pleasures.  As we arrived, E. had slipped into naptime while buckled into his car seat...and so I volunteered to stay in the car with him.  Being ever-so-careful and quiet, I slipped my small book and pencil carrier out of my bag and set to work.  Small sketches such as these provide me with continual pleasure, long after the event is over.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Snow and Frost and Chill...oh my.............

The Birch Brothers   watercolor   20.25 x 13

No, really....just half.  Half a piece of pie.  Half 'n Half.  Half a slice....not the whole.  And, my favorite....half a cookie.  (Never mind that I will retrieve the other half in a relatively short period of time)  There are indeed times when a whole won't do....even a whole stroke.  Such was the case with "The Birch Brothers".  I knew that the counter-spaces between branches at the top would be important in its rendering.  Not being a fan of masking fluid and, I believe, the thick, chunky and clumsy shapes that it leaves behind (ask my students), I knew that this large area would have to be worked in a push and pull fashion.  Lay it in.  Take it away.  I like happenstance.  Surprises.  After a pass or two, the area was far too described....the strokes laid in told too much of the story...not enough ambiguity.  And so I headed for the basement laundry tub.  I used extreme water pressure on the top of the work.  The pigment came off unevenly much to my delight, leaving pocks of white paper.  Further application.  Further destruction ensued.  Back and forth.  More water pressure.  Some scraping.  Until I had achieved the feel that I wanted.  Andrews turquoise became my best friend. Nothing ventured.  Nothing gained.