"Paintings have a life of their own that derives from the painter's soul." Vincent Van Gogh

Sunday, September 22, 2019

A Dog and his Woman

14 x 18 / oil on linen 
An addition to my dog and human series.  And a close up view of the woman's face.

I have been thinking recently about remarkable moments in my art journey and one that stays with me occurred the first time I visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City as a young girl. I remember having a day all to myself and deciding to visit the museum. Spending a wonderful few hours there, I finally wandered into the European Art of the 19th Century section. Turning a corner heading from one room to the next, I was suddenly confronted by the larger than life Dead Christ with Angels by Edouard Manet. Perhaps it was the subject matter, or the intensely realistic depiction, or the play of light across the body with the face in shadow but, stopping in my tracks, I gasped at the horrible reality of what I was seeing combined with the incredible beauty of the painting. It was a shocking assault on my senses and one I have never forgotten. It was quite a moment - filling me with a rush of powerful emotion that stays with me even today. A piece of painted canvas transforming my whole experience and allowing me to appreciate a vision and a talent through my own senses. This is what great Art is all about.

Dead Christ with/Angels/ Metropolitan Museum of Art NYC/ 1864/ Edouard Manet

Monday, September 16, 2019

A Dog and her Man

A Dog and Her Man - oil on linen / 16 x 20

Still trying to find my way. A while ago I had started a series about people with their dogs and this one fits into that genre.

Two paintings done a short time ago from this same series:

12 x 12 / Oil on linen

14 x 18/ oil on linen

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Never Stop Learning

After about two weeks of daily struggle and disappointment with nearly a dozen wipe off paintings,  I finally let this one stay on the canvas. I don't know what my problem has been. Perhaps lack of inspiration as the hot days of summers end lay heavily upon us and seem to sap both strength and creativity. Or just one of those cycles where the paint brush and the mind of the artist are not in sync. I have found that the best way to get through these down times is not to obsess too much but to just keep on painting. My experience is that eventually you will break through. And so I am hoping this odd little portrait will be my first step on the road back.

HG Wells / oil on chipboard / 12 x 12
 I also treated myself to an hour or so inside Barnes & Noble - still a favorite place - and picked up this little gem of an art book.

I have only just begun to go through it but am discovering that, after a brief introduction, there are lessons and philosophical meandering by many of the instructors at the Art Students League of NY. Each lesson is unique, thoughtful and quite practical. I am thoroughly enjoying this book!

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

A Little Catching Up

My two large ballerina paintings have settled in to their new places in my home. This one in the living room on a wall that was just begging for a painting.

 And this one in the foyer at the top of the stairs.

And to stay cool and out of the heat,  I have spent some time on figurative and portrait practice and some hound dogs!.

Joleen / oil on board, 12x16


Scottish Artist with his Creations / oil on board / 12x12

Hounds at Play Among the Flowers / oil on linen / 12 x 16
Comments and thoughts are greatly appreciated!

Friday, August 2, 2019

Portrait Practice and DIY Framing

78 Years Old / oil on brown paper / 25 x 27 inches

A closer look at the face

After getting in some portrait practice, I tried my hand at framing my two large ballerina at the circus paintings. In an effort to save on the cost of framing such large paintings, I ordered frame pieces from an internet site called Custom Frame Solutions. I am very pleased with the product and the fact that the pieces were cut precisely as I ordered. Putting them together with a little wood glue and small plastic brackets was not too difficult. I chose a narrow silver leaf frame as the background of the paintings are mostly gray and I thought the lighter frame would offset that color well.

The pre-finished pieces as they arrived in the mail - small corner brackets were provided by the manufacturer and, with a little effort, hammered in tightly.

One done and one to go!

And now to find wall space to hang them!

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Magical Mystery Tour

In July, my husband and I got some very good news and decided on the spur of the moment to celebrate with our very own California magical mystery tour – no hotel reservations, no planned sightseeing – just spur of the moment fun!

And so we drove through California farm country and saw massive fields of strawberries, cherry farms and numerous other edible green things. Next we drove through the hilly and very beautiful wine country with grape vines covering almost every hill and vale and a place to stop for wine tastings around each curve in the road. Our next stop was the mountaintop home of William Randolph Hearst, aptly called Hearst’s Castle. It is a gigantic estate home of over 65,000 square feet full of European and ancient Greek and Roman antiquities. It covers over 250,000 acres of breathtaking California land, from mountain to sea. The drive to the top took about 20 minutes and was harrowing on a very narrow and twisty road with no guard rails and cows randomly crossing back and forth along the way! The castle itself was spectacular but it was very hot – making the outdoor pool extremely inviting.  Fortunately that night we found a room in a lovely Inn right on the Pacific Ocean. The wind was blowing and it was chilly seaside but we walked on the beach for a couple of miles and breathed in the wonderful salt air. I had forgotten how much I love the coast and the ocean and this trip was a wonderful reminder. Then we drove along the Pacific Coast Highway to Carmel by the Sea and then on to Monterey. Stopping at Elephant Seal Beach we actually saw two huge males fighting in the water. The deep bellowing sounds they made were  unforgettable – a true National Geographic moment!

Carmel is one of the most beautiful little seaside towns –as there were lush and lovely gardens in full bloom everywhere you turned. The air smelled intoxicating! Staying overnight at the Portola Inn in Monterey, we visited the Aquarium then sauntered around Cannery Row. The weather cooperated fully the entire time! 

Beach at San Simeon

Outdoor pool at San Simeon - the indoor pool was just as large!

Entry to the main castle with tour guide reminding us not to touch anything!

One of many magnificent tapestries lining the walls

Gorgeous ancient Russian icon in the main reception area

View from the drive along Big Sur

Elephant seals in full battle!

My husband strolling along the beach

And me enjoying the salt air!

And now its time to get back to the easel!

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Ruby and Another Sale

Ruby / 10 x 8 / oil om linen panel
Children are such a great challenge to paint - one must try and retain their childish proportions and innocence while still attending to the essence of their personalities. Young Ruby has sparkling eyes, a captivating smile and a wild individualism about her. The portrait will be a surprise birthday gift for a very dear friend (Ruby's grandmother) whom I have known since I was 10 years old - a lifetime friend. I hope both she and Ruby like it.

And more good news from the Roux & Cyr gallery in Maine - another sale. This one of a loose and impressionistic lobster. I loved this one when I sent it off to the gallery and am so happy about the sale. I think it would look great in Maine seaside cottage kitchen!

Double Sojourn / oil on linen / 20 x 16

Monday, May 20, 2019

A Sold Painting and Toulouse Lautrec

Ballerina  #43 recently sold from the Roux and Cyr Gallery in Portland, Maine. Thank you so much, Susan Roux - you are the best! This painting went to the same collector that bought my crab with lemons painting last year. It's so nice  and an honor to have clients  come back to purchase a second piece and I am thrilled.

Here is #43 (and I can hardly believe that I painted this many ballerinas)!

Ballerina #43 /oil on linen panel / 16 x 12

Kathryn Ragan,  a wonderful watercolor artist and one of my long time blog followers, commented to me that my first ballerina at the circus painting reminded her of Toulouse Lautrec's circus themed drawings. So of course, I immediately went to Amazon and found a book originally published in 1953. The book  has very little text but each page showcases in beautiful color one of his 39 circus drawings. The reproductions are high quality and it is a a pure delight to leaf through, each drawing showing his deft and incredible draftsmanship.

The cover

And a peek inside.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Lions! Oh, my!

Oil on cardboard / 53x45

Strangely enough, this piece of cardboard handled oil paint much differently than the first piece. The surface was slightly rougher and much more absorbent. I do like the subject and the composition but I certainly struggled with the paint application. Here are a few photos from the work in progress:

Initial drawing in thinned oil paint and the beginning of color.

Working on the first white lion.

More progress. At this point I decided to delete the trapeze figures in the background as they were too distracting.

The foreground figure.

The lady and her lion

The finished painting.

In between working on this large picture, we had a few spring like days and I was able to get a little gardening done.

A pink flowering succulent called Calandrinia Spectabulis from the mountains of Chile. I hope it is hardy enough for Reno, Nevada!

And my snowball bush with the flowering plum in the background. It was covered with pink flowers just a day or two before I took this photo.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Large Project

Oil and graphite on cardboard / 44 x 53 inches

This painting has been in process on and off for a few weeks and, today, I feel like it is finally finished. What inspired me was that my husband ordered a glass floor mat to put under the chair in his office and it came packaged between two huge and wonderful pieces of cardboard! Of course, with my interest in painting on cardboard, I got very excited and  could not pass up the opportunity to experiment on such a large surface. Mulling over what to paint, it seemed appropriate to place one of my large ballerinas front and center. Once the subject was selected, I decided not to prepare the surface at all but to jump right in and paint directly on the cardboard. I started out with a graphite drawing and, when that was finished to my liking, began with oil thinned with mineral spirits. Thicker paint came later. The surface is 44 inches by 53 inches. It is the largest painting I have ever done and I do admit to really loving the way the surface absorbs the paint.

I will show you the stages of how this painting developed. (Click on each photo to see it larger).... 

First the initial drawing in pencil. I had not added the man's face in the lower left at this point.

Second - defining the drawing in thinned oil paint and delineating the shadowed areas.

Starting to add color.

The finished picture and some close ups. 

I hope you enjoyed seeing the process - and the good thing is - I still have a second gigantic piece of cardboard!

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Eyes Wide Closed!

Male portrait with eyes closed / oil on linen / 14x11
Winter is finally on the run with several days of rain that washed away most of the snow - and my Christmas Roses look like they survived beautifully. And they are still blooming. What a wonder!