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

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!

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Experimenting on Paper

Oil on brown paper / 22 x 28

Wanting to do a large figure painting, I found a roll of brown wrapping paper in my closet and decided to try it out as all of my linen panels were much smaller. I have not painted in oil on paper for such along time that I forgot how absorbent it is and struggled mightily with this figure. I do love how the paper grabs the paint and just won't let go - it is quite a different experience than painting on a prepared canvas or linen. 

This next portrait of Chloe was done on gessoed watercolor paper. Each painting is such a learning experience!

Chloe / oil on watercolor paper / 15 x 11

Friday, February 22, 2019

The Lovely Lynn and Another Rabbit Dream

Lynn was such a great subject to paint with her mass of elegantly unruly hair and her slight smile. And I love doing profiles!

Lynn / oil on linen panel / 18x14

And another rabbit dream painting.......

Dignity of the Hare / oil on linen panel / 14 x 18
Yesterday was another snowy day - we ended up having to shovel the snow off the driveway twice in hopes of keeping it clear. I was exhausted at days end - but today is clear and crisp with not a single snowflake in sight! 

This photo is of two small plants in my front walkway that were blooming merrily right before our last big storm. Now they are buried in snow about 8 inches deep - I wonder how they are doing? My girlfriend in the UK told me they are called Christmas Roses and they generally bloom all winter long! What a miracle!

Monday, February 11, 2019

Having some Figure Fun

Oil on cardboard / 16 x x12

This morning we were treated to the additional delight of a small herd of deer in our valley. We have seen them several times this winter. They are mule deer and I never get tired of watching them!

Sunday, February 10, 2019

From Portrait to Figure-and LOTS of Snow!

 Decided to take a break from portraits and do a figure painting yesterday.

Oil on linen / 12x16

A closer look....
It began snowing as I was painting - just a delicate beautiful snowfall. But the storm continued throughout the night and when we awoke this morning we were greeted by a winter wonderland!

Early morning view from the front walkway.

My husband and the snowblower - both getting a real workout!  

Afternoon delight in Reno, Nevada!

Monday, February 4, 2019

Morgan and Picasso

Morgan, almost 8 / oil on linen board, 12 x 12
Morgan is the very beautiful and accomplished 8 year old granddaughter of my cousin Audre. I painted this casual portrait of her as a surprise  Christmas gift. Morgans parents were very happy and rewarded  me with this photo of the painting nestled atop their mantle on Christmas day.

Generally speaking (and after seeing numerous cubist paintings at various museums), I am not a big fan of cubism but I am a big fan of Picasso's early work - he was such a talented and unique painter even then. Recently, after watching the Genius  television series on the life of Picasso, I purchased a used copy of the 1980 catalogue from the Picasso retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC. It is a very comprehensive chronology of his work and I have spent many long hours pouring through it and learning from him. Many of the photos are in black and white but there are some fascinating color plates as well.

Pablo Picasso A Retrospective 1980

Child Holding a Dove 1901 and Self Portrait 1901

Woman in Blue 1901

Trying my hand at a Picasso and attempting to understand and emulate his fearless brushwork, I painted this little copy of a vibrant portrait he did in Paris in 1901

Portrait of Bibi la Puree after Picasso / oil on cardboard 12 x 9