Monday, April 24, 2017

Monday, April 17, 2017

The horizon line and red buds

The horizon line is a tyrant that demands you find a way to manage its particular demands. How do you bridge the two completely different and unrelated elements (sky and land) in the landscape? How to deal with " the line?" Each situation is different and requires a new way of adapting.
I have been painting by the red buds since their arrival this spring. The silvery beauty of the naked trees contrast to the golden greens of the bud leaves...and then you add the pow! of the red buds and wowza!!!! Fun! I just can't stop.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Visual kiss

Painting is like a visual kiss.  Touching you deep inside. It's not our job as artists to simply take inventory of what we see. We are not describers of what we see.

Remember how you see is different than what you see. 

I'm on Sanibel Island enjoying the warmth. The feel is so obviously sultry and yet exciting.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Value always does the work

The master Jean-Francois Millet wrote in a letter, "If a sketch seen in the dim half light at the end of the day has the requisite balance- ponderation- it is a picture: if not, no clever arrangement of color, no skill in drawing our elaborate finish, can ever make our a picture."
That said- as one surfs the slippery tide of color vibration one can easily get lost. My solution is to also spent time making large value pastels. It's one of those catch 22s. The abstract of the painting is always the mos important..if that doesn't work it will never work. We want to be free to answer to the painting rather than impose the "scene." Therefore I make these and then put them aside.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Be still

8x8 pastel

Be still and alone. In your silence the world will offer itself up to you.
This painting had to sit for two years. I had to learn to listen to what it needed rather than force my agenda.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Vincent van Gogh and mistakes

In a particularly impassioned letter to Theo from October 2, 1884, Vincent writes:
If one wants to be active, one mustn’t be afraid to do something wrong sometimes, not afraid to lapse into some mistakes. To be good — many people think that they’ll achieve it by doing no harm — and that’s a lie… That leads to stagnation, to mediocrity. Just slap something on it when you see a blank canvas staring at you with a sort of imbecility.
You don’t know how paralyzing it is, that stare from a blank canvas that says to the painter you can’t do anything. The canvas has an idiotic stare, and mesmerizes some painters so that they turn into idiots themselves.
Many painters are afraid of the blank canvas, but the blank canvas IS AFRAID of the truly passionate painter who dares — and who has once broken the spell of “you can’t.”
Life itself likewise always turns towards one an infinitely meaningless, discouraging, dispiriting blank side on which there is nothing, any more than on a blank canvas.
But however meaningless and vain, however dead life appears, the man of faith, of energy, of warmth, and who knows something, doesn’t let himself be fobbed off like that. He steps in and does something, and hangs on to that, in short, breaks, “violates”…
Think about it. Working on old pieces that you long ago gave up on is a great way to feel some freedom. You no longer have the inspiration in front of you. If you began from a photo you hopefully no longer have that...and bingo you are completely free to make a beautiful song with the painting.
Ever since I have been in my walking boot (8 weeks and counting) it has been difficult to stand for a long time to work on my super large paintings.  During these weeks I have taken time to review my plethora of unfinished or unloved works stored in my tracing pads. This was one I did in plein air (last summer) and later gamsoled down in places. I had that reduced piece on my shelf for weeks. Looking to see the secrets that lay inside. When I finally returned to work on it, it was easy.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Doing smalls

Here are four small paintings done by the roadside. They are done quickly, without thought. I simply respond.
It's funny how if you just allow yourself to  react without making a color plan, the light even feels better.  I love these little Haikus!
Try it sometime and let me know how it goes. I think you will love the spontaneity.
BTW I will exhibit some of these little jewels in the Waverly Street Gallery's show -Process and Inspiration. Here is a link to the show.

Monday, January 16, 2017

memory continued and making magic

Here are two versions of the same snow scene. The scene is inside me so now I just explore color options. Question to ask self......Yes, it's snow...but how can I make it a bit more magical?

Friday, January 13, 2017


Memory is a wonderful potent yet very open tool.  You see it. Absorb its essence. Then you distill it to its most important part. That is the reason why I like to create these small paintings. Even though the memory is there I need to play with the layers of color to see how it feels. The vibration of colors is important and there, are so many options to combine.  I hope this grows to a super large format...but for now I am still figuring it out.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Home and Design Magazine

Happy New Year everyone! I am delighted to begin 2017 with great news. Home and Design Magazine has an article about my work in their January/February issue.
A big thank you to Jeanne Blackburn for noticing my work.
Because you are my blogger friends I will give you a small story from the interview process. My interviewer and writer, Jeanne Blackburn, and I spoke often by phone. One day she came to my studio and we talked a long time. You may not know this but my studio assistant, Miss Poochers, was left in the house to attend to duties there. She was extremely unhappy about this situation and began to sing an aria to bring the attention back to her. Jeanne suggested that I allow Miss Poochers to join us.
Miss Poochers is an extreme extrovert and athlete...or should I say cathlete? Jeanne was very polite. She pet and oohed and ahhed over Miss Poochers, but in time our attention faded to the talk of art. Needless to say Miss Poochers was dismayed at this new situation. She decided to regain control.
She proceeded to climb the french door screens to the top of the doors. then she jumped 4 more feet to the sill of the arched window. From there she began to sing.
Miss Poochers walks the door, a normal activity
Of course she received more attention for her performance, but once again we moved on to the task at hand, the interview. You could just see the think bubble in her little head. "What can I do next?" After that Miss Poochers promptly flew off the sill straight down to the rug with a loud PLOP! Yipes! The flying cat scared both of us! This was a first for my cathlete! That was when Miss Poochers politely (or not so politely) returned to the house.

Here is the link to the article.

Miss Poochers since that day she likes to be up in the window.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Toni Morrison and the job of an artist in turbulent times

pastel from Whidbey field, re-done. Peace.
That task of the artist as a grounding and elevating force in turbulent times is what Toni Morrison (b. February 18, 1931) explores in a stunning essay titled “No Place for Self-Pity, No Room for Fear,” included in the 150th anniversary issue of The Nation.

Toni Morrison (Courtesy  Alfred A. Knopf)
Toni Morrison (Courtesy Alfred A. Knopf)
Morrison writes:
Christmas, the day after, in 2004, following the presidential re-election of George W. Bush.
I am staring out of the window in an extremely dark mood, feeling helpless. Then a friend, a fellow artist, calls to wish me happy holidays. He asks, “How are you?” And instead of “Oh, fine — and you?”, I blurt out the truth: “Not well. Not only am I depressed, I can’t seem to work, to write; it’s as though I am paralyzed, unable to write anything more in the novel I’ve begun. I’ve never felt this way before, but the election….” I am about to explain with further detail when he interrupts, shouting: “No! No, no, no! This is precisely the time when artists go to work — not when everything is fine, but in times of dread. That’s our job!”
I felt foolish the rest of the morning, especially when I recalled the artists who had done their work in gulags, prison cells, hospital beds; who did their work while hounded, exiled, reviled, pilloried. And those who were executed.
With an eye to the various brokennesses of the world, past and present, Morrison writes:
This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.
I know the world is bruised and bleeding, and though it is important not to ignore its pain, it is also critical to refuse to succumb to its malevolence. Like failure, chaos contains information that can lead to knowledge — even wisdom. Like art.

I found that piece in the site called Brain Pickings. Love that site! So no matter from which side you look - go back to work. Complaining never finished a painting. It is our job as artists to help society heal.
Happy New Year friends.

Monday, December 19, 2016

painting and relationships- how they are the same

 You need to have an idea and hold onto it. From there it is almost the exact same dance as a relationship. You speak and the painting speaks. You need to listen.... not just think of what you are going to say next. Feel and respond. Painting is passion.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

my new paintings at the Merritt Gallery

Hi everyone!
Here's my new spread at The Merritt Gallery. I am honored to be chosen to be one of their artists. Here's a link to the gallery so you may check out all of their artwork.
On another note, I am part of the Holiday Show at the Waverly Street Gallery. The reception is on Friday, December 9th , 5:00-9:00. It would be lovely to see you.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Sedona Apricot Copse

I found another infatuation when I was in Sedona this year. I still think about it. It was a small grouping of trees that had an apricot gold color.  To make it even better they were in a field of long naples yellow grasses. My heart was on fire!!!!!

While the paintings from that trip have already found their forever homes, I look at the photos I took of them and dream of new ideas. I thought I would share a couple of my favorites. Be on the look out you may see more new works soon.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

making great paintings


Think about it......A great painting rises above and has something that makes the viewer want to look and think. There are many many excellent painters, but it is not technique that makes a painting great. We all admire and well crafted painting, but it is the painting that stops you in your tracks that stays in your soul. It's something that brings it out of the norm...sometimes it surprises you. The painter that "surprises us" paints from inside his/her soul. They didn't rely on reference material. They develop a relationship with the painting and the relationship leads the way. 
When you read about the life of George Inness you can see he was obsessed with painting. His son talks about beautiful paintings that changed overnight. George Inness would go to his studio and work through the night. He would say that he was "trying to get the right tone." Often the painting would "be destroyed" in his son's eyes. But Inness had no fear...instead he was lead by desire. The desire to create a kind of beauty that is indescribable.  George Inness' early work show none of the amazing beauty that the soulful late work show. They were simply technically well done.  Granted, this is just my opinion...but I am soul struck when I see the late works. I constantly analyze why they work as they do. What do you think?

Friday, November 18, 2016

new business cards and tips

Hi everyone!

Business cards...often times we have a pile of them in our purse, car or back pocket. But have you realized that your business card is your one of your strongest marketing tools? So now let's think...dowe your business card represent you in the way you want it to?
I did some research and I am happy timeshare. Here are some tips about what to consider when making a business card.
1. Make a card that people want to keep and look at...spend the money to make it beautiful.
2. Add your best contact information on the back- simply, on white(or light) - website, phone number, social media.
3. Make the card simple. Leave some room for your collector to write on the card (think name of painting, price, etc.)
4. Use only one image on front and if you want another on back. I chose a plain back with just contact info. 
5.Make it memorable. I chose a square because I normally work square. They are different than everyone else's cards.
6. Use strong paper. You want your collector to keep it and not have it fall apart in his/her wallet.

These were printed at MOO. I love MOO!!!! If you would like me to send you a discount coupon just email me.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Plein Air work for a large painting- the River

11x18 pastel
For me the process of starting a large work (64x48) takes a lot of think time. Even before touching the board I have to first develop a concept. That means painting numerous plein air pieces before something finally "calls me." The Potomac River is a frequent source of inspiration and I spend hours painting and walking in the early morning through dusk. After painting this particular view for a couple of weeks I finally had my idea.
How can something be so grand and imposing yet, soft, inviting and ethereal?

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Sedona Plein Air 2016

I am fortunate to be invited to return to this marvelous event. I just love the lacey trees, soft grasses and wildlife. The people are really nice too. You can check out our schedule at
Yesterday morning was magical. I walked down to Oak Creek and had a wonderful show. Three otters were frollicking in the creek. Like kittens they were tugging each other and running in all directions. They took time to roll in the sand and then dive back in. Cool. 

I did this painting later.

Monday, October 3, 2016

a pastel and a quote from James McNeil Whistler

Today I have a good quote for you and one of my recent pastels.

Whistler proclaimed in his famous “Ten O’Clock” lecture:
Nature contains the elements, in colour and form, of all pictures, as the keyboard contains the notes of all music.
But the artist is born to pick, and choose, and group with science, these elements, that the result may be beautiful—as the musician gathers his notes, and forms his chords, until he bring forth from chaos glorious harmony.
To say to the painter, that Nature is to be taken as she is, is to say to the player, that he may sit on the piano.
That Nature is always right, is an assertion, artistically, as untrue, as it is one whose truth is universally taken for granted. Nature is very rarely right, to such an extent even, that it might almost be said that Nature is usually wrong: that is to say, the condition of things that shall bring about the perfection of harmony worthy a picture is rare, and not common at all.

Monday, September 26, 2016

New Work for a new gallery

I am happy to say that Merritt Gallery and the Renaissance Fine Arts will now be representing my large oils. This is a photo from Tuesday morning, right before they picked up the work. YAY!

Monday, September 19, 2016

New type of sketchbook -the terraskin

terraskin paper with a watercolor pencil and spit!!!
You are probably wondering why this sketchbook is worth writing about, right? Well, the reason is the paper. The TerraSkin Multimedia art paper is so cool and it is made of stone! It is an eco-friendly choice for oil, acrylic, pen and ink, marker, pastel and colored pencil applications. Not only that, bit it's also water resistant, tear resistant and acid-free. Love it!
Here's the link that will take you to buy your own sketchbook. (By the way, I am not being paid to say this)
terraskin and taped in pastel studies

more work with watercolor pencil and moisture

the terraskin front cover

Monday, September 5, 2016

small paintings- why do them?

I have learned that making these tiny paintings when I am in the field is much more helpful. They are just small ideas which are so much easier to respond to in the studio because of their open nature. There is still so much to say.
Doing completed paintings serves another purpose, but these ignite me!

Above see some of the smalls from my recent trip to Washington State. I love Washington's fields and light!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Making a series

One of the most satisfying ways to work is to develop a series. Working in a series is about enlightenment. If you are struggling with how to go deeper in your work try a series. If you want to push yourself to a new understanding of your intention try a series.

A series can begin without planning. Sometimes it's an infatuation with a place or a study of light.That is exactly what has happened to me. For about 7 years I painted the river. Everyday, no matter what the weather, I did a "vitamin" of the river. Still I love the river, but for the past 5 years my infatuation has been the vibration of the colors in the grasses of an untended field.  I simply can't stop myself when I see one!

When you engage in a series you open up.  Like a brand new relationship, you want to be there all of the time. Seeing your new love in different lights thrills you. Soon after completing many paintings you start to look at your new love a little differently. You get more comfortable and begin to change small things. You start manipulating the colors, size of format and point of view. You try a diptych or an elongated vertical.

I know I have mentioned before but my series that changed my life was when I was in graduate school. I painted a pot of yellow mums for two years!
Staying with a series (or a relationship for that matter) teaches you about painting, and yourself.

Below and above see a sampling of paintings from my years on Whidbey Island.

If you want great ideas about the making of a series do look at Richard McKinley's book Pastel Pointers.  It doesn't matter if you paint in pastel or oil, Richard's book will help you get to a new level.
In brief Richard recommends 6 ways for discovering a series.
1.Try a new surface size.
2. Alter the value or key of your painting
3.Explore different dominance and harmony.
4.Paint in a different format.
5. Change you angle of vision and relationship to the subject.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

concept and the best tool

Recently I have received two emails asking me how my painting process works. (Thank you Cris and Randall) They have prompted me to write a brief explanation.

First for me, when creating a painting, it is rarely about a specific place. Instead it can be the idea, the emotional response to that place or simply an idea and then I allow the painting to direct me. There is a trust with the painting. It knows what I should do. I just need to slow down and listen...then respond (rather than think). I try not to direct, those are my less successful paintings.  For someone who is a little hyper this has been a serious learning curve in my life.

That's why I am not someone who leans on photographs to guide me. Yes, I take photographs.... but they are to remind me of the beauty I once saw. They spark an idea. I also do numerous plein air paintings and studies. The teach me about the possibilities of light.

The biggest tool in my toolbox is a walk. I paint then when I come to a stopping place I walk for a half hour.  (I take several walks a day.)The walk is a quiet processing time. I don't talk, listen to music or have any other input... just the landscape around me. It's amazing how it can all come together without even "thinking" about the painting.

This particular painting began last year. I was in Skagit County Washington, where the light at sunset can be like  a big cantaloupe filter. I returned home and did drawings that were inspired by my river, the Potomac and the Skagit. Now last week I was back in Skagit County and it was easy to feel what I was missing in the light.