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

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Ballerina Three

Oil on canvas panel 20x18. I see one or two areas I want to work on a little more. My challenge is to make her seriously elegant and still retain a bit of whimsy.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Ballerina Two

Oh this was such fun to paint - such glorious color and light! The painting is 14 x 18 oil on canvas. The bottom photo is the start and the top photo is the finish. A good painting day today and I am happy!

A Vagary of Happenstance - finished

A few final tweaks and highlights and I will call this done. The color in this piece is somewhat unusual and was foremost in my mind once I captured the gesture of horse and rider in my initial oil sketch and then connected them to their spot in the landscape. I wanted the painting to be mostly high key and developed a palette of soft warm whites surrounding the cool, crisper whites of the horse. The orange and lavenders in the landscape and the lowering blue of the sky suggested themselves as I moved forward. Thank you to Susan Roux http://susanroux.blogspot.com/ for her comment in the previous post concerning color - I do love color and am constantly fascinated how color, value, form all play their role in translating the artistist vision in the mind to the final observable rendition. I think oil paint is a purely magical medium that allows me to place on canvas a glimpse into otherwise unobservable realities. Art and creativity is such a joy!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Quick Study and a Request

Quick study today of a large ballerina - oil on canvas paper 16x12.
I received an email from a friend earlier today with this request:
When sending out Christmas cards this year, please take a moment and send one to a wounded warrior at the following address:
A Recovering American Soldier
c/o Walter Reed Army Medical Center
6900 Georgia Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20307-5001
Please feel free to copy this and post it on your own blog and Facebook wall. Thanks so much.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Workshop Efforts

You may have wondered why there are 3 separate pieces of one painting - I wanted to post the life figure painting I did today in my evening class but did not want to put the nudity warning on my blog as I rarely post nude paintings. I was pleased with this one and wanted to post it - I wonder if it was worthwhile editing it like this - lol! The painting took about 3 hours and is 18 x 24 linen board. The instructor, Alison Harris, had to assure me that the model really was green in the shadow areas and once I allowed myself to see that, I did okay. The pose was difficult as she faced me fairly directly but I do believe that I caught the way her weight was balanced on her left hand and arm - if you could see the whole painting you might agree with me! The other pieces are pencil drawings of our previous model Ron - each one about 25 minutes. I am thoroughly enjoying this workshop and am sorry that it will be over next week - it zipped by so quickly.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Christmas Elves

I wanted to paint some of Santa's helpers as if they were very real but not quite of the same dimensions we humans inhabit! I did not want them to appear cartoonish but I did want to keep a bit of whimsy. In any case, it turned out to be a rather ambitious undertaking and here is where I am now with this - almost but not quite done. Its 24x18 oil on linen.
Please check out Gina Brown's blog - she has posted a very touching story of the painting exchange between her daughter Blaire and myself. http://ginabrownart.blogspot.com/

Monday, November 28, 2011

Deer in the Backyard and a Thank You Gift

I am so thrilled to be surrounded by wildlife in my new home. So far I have seen several coyote, a blue fox, red tailed hawks and smaller hawks, bunnies, magpies and now, tonight, a family of deer! Wow - this is heaven to me!

And I received such a delighful surprise in the mail today. Blaire Brown, the young daughter of my artist friend Gina Brown http://ginabrownart.blogspot.com/ painted a picture of a horse for me - it is so creative and so charming - we both share a love of horses and the one she painted for me is so special.

I love the pink sky streaked with silver, the bright red halter and, of coure, the violet butterfly sitting on the white muzzle! I think we have an artistic genius in the making! Thank you, Blaire - you have touched my heart!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Another Portrait

Practice, practice, practice - and I am starting to feel the return of my own painter's voice as I put more and more paint on the canvas.That is very exciting to me as I was so afraid I had lost more than I could recover. But, thankfully, it seems to come back with practice and persistence. This is today's effort - 20x16 oil on linen along with a close up..

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Portrait Practice

Alla prima today 20x16 oil on linen. Done from a photo of artist Peter Leventhal. I saw the photo and was compelled to try and paint him. Earlier this week Iwas studying portraits by Paul Cezanne, Camille Pissaro and Corot and noticed how fearlessly they used big value shifts. I attempted to do that in this portrait.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Christmas 2011

Having painted some wildebeests earlier this year, I decided to try one in a Christmas theme. I am calling this Can You Teach a Wildebeest to Fly? - Christmas 2011. There are a few little things I will refine once this sets up a bit but it is mostly done. Poor Santa - he certainly has his hands full with this wild beast! I wonder what happened to Rudolph - it could be that he retired this year! :) 18 x 24 oil on linen

Friday, November 18, 2011

Life Class Oil Portrait

I struggled in life portrait class today. I like the upper half of Ron's face but the value structure in the neck and lower jaw eluded me. I need much much more practise in observing from life and interpreting observation into color and value. The instructor Alison Harris advises me to push my darks and I quite agree with her. I actually felt more comfortable painting today than I have in along time so there is hope yet! And I am quite happy with the likeness as well. No class next week because of the holiday and then figure drawing the following week. I can't wait!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Santa-With Observable Quantum Jitters

My daughter took a photo in Paris of an elderly man with a bottle of wine in his hand and the definite look of a homeless person. In this universe, anything is possible so I transformed him into a Santa Claus and changed any alcoholic effects into quantum jitters! Don't ask where all this came from - I just wanted to have some fun this morning and not worry about outcomes. That goal was achieved! 16x12 oil on canvas.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Alla Prima Oil Portrait Study

Doing quick alla prima portrait studies to try and get back my skills. This one is from the book on direct painting techniques by Al Gury called "Alla Prima".

Monday, November 14, 2011

Art Workshop with Alison Harris

As most of my blogging friends know, I have been away from serious painting at my easel for several months and have been feeling very rusty. My problem is that I am having a very hard time feeling connected to the paint. It just doesn't feel comfortable coming off my brush. I have spent long hours doing study after study resulting in miles of wipe offs. So frustrating but I intend to push through this until I remember how to paint again. In an effort to jump start myself, I signed up for a Portrait/Figure Drawing/Painting Workshop with instructor Alison Harris at the NV Museum of Art. I am so grateful to have found this workshop. Its 3 hours on Friday afternoons and I am free to attend as I am now retired from my full time job! That is very good news indeed!

The first class consisted of drawing a medium gray scale cast of a well proportioned male head. The instructions were to draw the planes of the anatomical structure without any regard for light and shadow. The following 2 drawings are 2 of my efforts - each one was about 30 minutes.

The second Friday we had a wonderful (live) male model - Ron. He was very intense and held the poses well. He had remarkable facial anatomy - a long, thin face with prominent cheekbones, thin uppper lip, dark eyebreows with long well trimmed side burns, a pony tail and an earring. A lot going on! Each of these drawings was also about 30 minutes except the final one which was an hour.

Sorry for the poor quality of the photos. This workshop is only my second experience with life drawing and I just LOVE it. There is nothing like a live model, intense lighting and a kind but honest instructor. I know I am learning a lot and enjoying every minute. Thank you, Alison! Here is a link to her site - be warned there are drawings of nude models:

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Young Girl With Magpie

I am seeing lots of Magpies with lots of personality on our mountainside lately and was inspired to put one into a painting. This piece is 20 x 10 oil on cnavas. And here is a close up:

I am officially retired from my full time, high stress day job now and am way too happy to express in words! I think this little painting may show some of my joy. I am most happy with the color and that I had such a good time painting it. I did not have much of a preconcieved idea and just watched where the painting took me.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Fan Mail!

Mailed off yesterday to Alabama as a gift for an admiring fan. Thank you for your support, Blaire!

And a short family update - had a visit from Adam (my shockingly handsome genius paramedic son!) here in Reno a few weekends ago. Here he is with his girlfriend Tera. He loved Reno - we had spectacular weather for his visit and showed him some of the local sights. It was great fun and I hope he comes back soon. 

Kimberly (my gorgeous, brilliant, ambitious CPA Senior Manager daughter!) is currently on a two week vacation trekking throughout Europe with her husband Ted (brilliant, handsome genius District Attorney in San Diego!).They have been to Amsterdam, Paris, Rome - headed to Prague next and having a wonderful time!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Thinking Big - 30 x 30

A new start today and a glimpse into another corner of my new studio.  My next project is to get some kind of lighting system. I have wonderful consistent northern light all day but need to be able to paint after the sun goes down!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Toulouse Complete

I thought I would warm up today by placing a few well considered strokes on  my Toulouse Lautrec painting - and ended up spending several hours refining and finishing! I consider it done now and will move on to my next subject. I have posted the finished piece and a close up of the figures. Each brushstroke gave me so much pleasure today - just concnetrating hard on shape, color and value without concern for the subject. This canvas may be too raw but I feel I am on my way again - and its a good feeling!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Two Starts - Toulouse Lautrec and a Portrait

Sunday's effort - done using an old black and white photo as reference. It's a start and allowed me to tentatively feel my way around the canvas. I am still very unsure and am begining to realize that i will need to paint a lot in order to get back some of my lost confidence. My intent, at the end of October, will be to paint everyday - while working full time I have never been able to do that consistently and it is one of my goals. This weekend I made an effort to consciously paint shape, color and value - trying to keep those things foremost in my mind as I placed paint on the canvas. I plan to try and go back to refine and finish this after it sets up a bit.

Saturdays effort - started a portrait of my mother in law on her 95th birthday. I captured her likeness but was not happy with the progression and ended up wiping it off. It seems like I am going to be doing lots of starts!
Also, I am having serious trouble with my Blog - it all started after I undated my email address. It is acting very fickle and at times will no tlet me comment on other blogs or even update this one. I have been unable to find the problem but wil lkeep trying. I still stop by my favorite blog sites and find it so frustrating to be unable to leave a comment. I am trying to get some help with this issue and hope to have it fixed soon.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

New Studio

It has taken a very long time to move and settle into the new house in Reno - much longer than I anticipated - mostly because we are doing some major renovation work. But the worst is over (I hope) and I found some time to enjoy my new studio. It has wonderful natural light all day long. I dont have overhead lights installed yet and when the sun goes down, the light is quickly lost - within a matter of minutes it seems and that is the end of painting for the day! I am looking into some track lighting but have not decided what to do yet. This painting was like trying to ride a bicycle after years of driving a car! I was so eager to begin something new and to feel the pant gliding onto the canvas that I did not think out the composition fully. Nonetheless, the act of painting was such a joy - a pure and complete joy! I have a lot of catching up to do and this painting makes that painfully clear to me! But I feel like today was a new beginning and I can't wait to see where I go from here!
 In addition to showing you my awkward painting, I have posted a photo of a corner of the studio and then one of me in the mirror! I had a lovely day today - and some very good news. My employer is offering early retirement to long term employees and, having been with my company for almost 16 years, I meet the requirments1 I have decided that I will leave the work force and devote myself to trying to attain some artistic goals that I have set for myself. My last day of full time employment will be October 28th - I day I am really looking forward to!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Finally Painting Again

I am feeling very tight and unsure of myself after a long hiatus. I have been thinking about working on this piece as I left it unfinished when we moved - so decided  to see if I could re-energize and finish it. As you can see, my brushwork is suffering as well as my use of color. I felt a lot of  hesitation and loss of confidence as I painted today so will have to work on these things. Its like starting all over again after  almost a month away from the easel. In any case, I hope to be posting more frequently although there is still a lot of renovation work going on in the new house, But my home office and my studio are up and running and I intend to find the time to paint. Oil on linen panel 36x24.  And a close up below.......

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Place Holder

The new house is still undergoing renovation - cherry hardwoodflooring being installed in the art studio as we speak. I am so eager to get back to painting.  This older piece caught my eye as I was packing to move - please consider it a place holder until I can get back to the easel and show some new work. I have a feeling I may be very rusty at first! 12x16 Woman with Water Bottle - oil on canvas panel.