Friday, August 29, 2014

paint paintings

"I don't illustrate travel guide books Madame, I paint paintings." George Inness

I am finally back in my studio after over a month of travel. One of my stops was Washington State.  The fields in Washington always enchant me. I painted just studies for 10 days then moved into the studio at Dakota. This painting is an experimentation using watercolor and gesso with pastel in several layers, most importantly the last layer. I did not like it one bit when I was there...but now as I unpack the box full of paintings that i shipped back I am giving it new though. It's interesting how a little distance can change your mind.

The George Inness quote is one of my long time faves. Doesn't he just say it all?

I will post more studies and paintings as the weeks go forward.

Monday, August 18, 2014

super moon in La Conner

pastel, 11x12- above and below- two version, different methods
Saturday night was the super moon. Even though I had to pack and clean my little apartment (I was departed La Conner early the next morning) I couldn't resist making a sketch (below) and stuffing it in my sketchbook. Now back home, in the studio, I made 2 -11"x12" paintings from it.
5x6 pastel

I am working in a slightly different method. Richard suggested a light application of gesso on my paper.The different versions use the gesso at different times.

Friday, August 15, 2014

value does the work

After spending six days with Richard McKinley, my annual visit (to the doctor of pastels) I am left once again pondering the most important phrase he shares. "Value does the work and color gets the glory." If you can't make it read in just value it will never work. Plus, I think that the mood of the painting should work in b/w. This is a study from my favorite slough.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

memory painting on new surface

I tried a new surface... new for me that is. This a is memory painting done on multi-purpose board- a surface that is hard, white, slightly sanded and takes watercolor beautifully. Here's the link to buy it from Dakota.
Dakota Art is an amazing place. If you haven't been there and you paint in pastels, it's a destination to add to your list. I love my annual trip to stock up on pastels and work with Richard.
PS It feels good to get back to watercolor underpainting.

Monday, August 11, 2014

new dusk paintings from Washignton State

I have been away for the past two weeks in Washington State. It's the place of beautiful quiet landscape and wonderful fields. Here's a few dusk paintings from one evening. I will post many more paintings when they arrive. I shipped the paintings and all the extra pastels I bought at Dakota Pastels. More later.
PS Sorry for the bad photos. I held the small paintings on the window of the car. All paintings are 6"x6."




Saturday, August 2, 2014

The lake, again

Same view of the lake, yet I am treating the pastel a little differently.

Friday, August 1, 2014

dusk-a-thon continues

I can only say I am learning a tremendous amount. Each small study makes me work super quickly, with snap color judgements. Meanwhile I listen to the songs of the cicadas and geese. Nice.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

new view, old field

8x24 pastel
I am going to only my 3 regular places, same views....every day. My question is what can I do today with the same view? How can I treat it differently?

Monday, July 28, 2014

Queen Anne's Lace

My favorite, Queen Anne's Lace was situated in a tiny grassy area next to Wheaton Mall.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Back to Queen Anne's Lace

Back to the Queen Anne's Lace. This time I not only played with the lace work of the horizon where the  flowers meet the sky, but I also used flowers to lead you through the field. My question little do I need to paint and still read field?

Friday, July 25, 2014

dusk-a-thon continues with 4 in a row

Monday night I did four quick studies in a row. I like doing it this way, recording the changes in a stop action clips. The top one is the last one. Each study is only 6"x6." This size makes it easier to just move along and not perseverate.



Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Monday, July 21, 2014

Maine Fields

I disappeared for a wee bit. I met my bestfriend in the world, Leah, in Maine. We stayed in a cottage that we picked because of the wonderful field across from it.  There was a path through the field that led to a small beach. Sweet. This is one of my pastel studies done one sunny afternoon. I will post more this week, including a super moon study.

Monday, July 14, 2014

plein air stroller

Last year I met up with my friend Mike McMullin in Washington state. He was sporting a new plein air painting machine, the Cadillac of transports. The magician that he is, Mike took a used baby jogging stroller and turned it into an easel and transport system on the go. Check it out!

He added:

1. a BestBrella #196AB-Z

2. A clamping device for a spotting scope -for attaching the painting box

3. painting box- your choice

4. another clamp- holds the bar that is used to attach the spotting scope

5. cloth bag with rocks if needed for counter balance

This system will transport your pastel or oil box, umbrella, extra easel, camp chair, water, food, and supplies, best of all you can push it with one hand.

Mike's work is beautiful. Here are a couple he created when he was in Washington.
pastel painting by Mike McMullin

pastel painting by Mike McMullin
My friend Christine(right) made her version and we used when we were painting on Whidbey Island. Nice.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

dusk-a-thon continues


My dusk-a thon continues. I am considering this to be simply a learning process, not expecting anything from each small painting. At most I may spent 20 minutes on a single one, usually going on to do another (since the light changes so quickly at dusk.) This was done at 9:00pm at the train station.
This one was done at 8:30pm. Amazing how quickly and deliberately the light changes!

Monday, July 7, 2014


pastel on Uart
 Recently I was reading about the color purple (my favorite color.)
Did you know that police worldwide quell rioting mobs with water cannons enriched with purple dye?  The semi-permanent  purple "tags" protesters for later retribution by the police.  In the last twenty years, protestors in Hungary, Indonesia, Israel, and (most recently) Uganda have all been purple soaked.
It seems to be a shrewd move by police, but as Slate's Explainer's column explains the tactic can backfire. In 1989 , a group of anti-apartheid protestors marching on Cape Town's Parliament were ordered to stop, then soaked in purple dye. A protestor seized control of the purple dye cannon and turned in on the reigning National Party headquarters and the historic, whitewashed Old Town House nearby. "What about the purple people?" implored a Cape Town editorial the day after the "Purple Rain Protest." Graffiti on the Old Town House provided an answer that became the rallying cry of the ant-apartheid movement: "The Purple Shall Govern!"
If you want more stories and mini factoids about color check out the book,
ROY G. BIV -an exceedingly surprising book about color by Jude Stewart

Wednesday, July 2, 2014


pastel on uart

"For a painter gray is the richest color, the one that makes all the others speak." Paul Klee
You see is when you look at the great beauties in art (my bias) In the later part of his life George Inness was the master of grays. He uses only a small piece of pure chroma surrounded by neutralized color (grays.)

Monday, June 30, 2014


Here's one from the dusk-a-thon series this summer. Pastel, 6x6"

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

poison ivy island: study to large

The top image is a large oil (30x40) and the bottom image is the pastel that started the idea. The making of this painting has inspired my dusk-a thon. I need to understand more about dusk therefore I am going to the field every evening at dusk to paint a 6x6" study. Three done so far, maybe a summer's worth to go! More about that later.

Monday, June 23, 2014

river love continues

River love ... painted on different surfaces. The top one is Rives BFK and the bottom is Uart 400. Lots of exciting things happening in the studio as well. more about those later.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

great time for a summer road trip to DC

Ahhh, summertime. It is the perfect time for a road trip. So how about DC as your destination? So much is happening, the major crowds are long gone and it's all free(your tax dollars at work). Here is a list of some of my faves.
1. Kiyochika, Master of the Night- Freer/Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian- free
The gallery displays master printmaker, Kobayashi Kiyochika beautiful woodblocks. Dawn, dusk and night are the focus of his woodblock prints.

2. An American in London, Whistler and the Thames, Freer /Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian -free What could be better than Whistler's amazing, nearly abstract, nocturnes of the river Thames? Maybe adding on his prints and sketches and watercolors that give you a view inside his thinking. Included also are some of the Japanese prints that influenced him. Wow!

3. Life keeps getting better with a exhibition of Degas and Cassatt, National Gallery of Art - Smithsonian, free! This exhibition demonstrates the affinity between both artists. A perfect friendship Degas and Cassatt, engaged in intense dialogues, challenged each other and  shared their many experiments with new techniques. The show includes sketches, paintings and prints.

4. Andrew Wyeth: Looking out, Looking in, National Gallery of Art- Smithsonian- free! Spare and elegant, these paintings are free of the narrative element associated with the artist’s better-known figural compositions. The abstract qualities of his work are therefore more readily apparent, and Wyeth emerges as an artist deeply concerned with the visual complexities posed by the transparency, symbolism, and geometric structure of windows.
5. And last in between exhibitions be sure to visit the Smithsonian's Folklife Festival- June 25-July 6. It's free as well and right on the mall smack between the Freer and the NGA. Art, performances, hands-on demonstrations and great ethnic food.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

poison ivy island

I am now working on a long overdue commission. The problem - I could never wrap my mind around a good concept. I think I simply needed to be far removed from the place and only live with the idea. Commissions are difficult. Most people have their own vision and feelings of the much loved spot they want in the commission. They see it already.
Trouble is, my work is normally not place specific. Instead it's more about the feeling and the vibration of colors makes the feeling. So here I have my first satisfactory study of "poison ivy island." It's a pastel, about 9"x12". Wish me luck!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

later afternoon glow, distilled

Trying to find ways to create the late afternoon glow from the marshlands at Chincoteague. I want a distilled landscape, without fluff and details.

using marks and smooth

This river series is my true love. Therefore at 5:30 in the morning I was walking down the path just to see her. A beaver greeted me, they were waiting.
My idea this time was to see the layers. Make it more about the surface. The watercolor below with thin layers of pastel is topped by marks of pastel.

Friday, June 13, 2014

working in a series

Working in a series is one of the most important tools we artists have to nourish growth. Most times artists build series around a theme: river paintings, window paintings, still life with waxed paper, or cityscapes, just to name a few.  Sometimes it's around a format, like all squares. The one thing that binds these ideas is that each painting in a series builds on the next painting. The process takes the artist down a path of discovery.
Series can just shout out to us, others whisper, some you have to find. My river series has been ongoing for many years. I love that river and have still not exhausted its possibilities.

Here are four ways to find your next series.
1. Line up your ten favorite paintings. Analyze them. What did you do in those ten that was so successful. Write it down and be ready to build on those ideas.
2. Choose a new format and stick to it. Do you want a more peaceful painting? Choose an elongated rectangle. Look at the Japanese woodcuts. Try diptych or more.
3. Find a new surface. If you normally work with a sanded paper try making your own surface. If you paint on smooth canvas try wood with a vibrant surface pattern. Take yourself out of your comfort zone.
4. Make an exploration of color. Limit your palette to certain color harmonies.Make many small studies (3x4) before moving into bigger work. take yourself out of your color rut. 

When you have a series begun make certain to keep all of them out to view each day. Number them on the back. Look and grow with the previous work.

One of the most exciting and inspirational series I have seen is Marla Baggetta's Variations. Here is a link to the book she made about it. Wow!

The most important thing about a series is the fact that it drives you and you can't wait to get back to it.