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.

Monday, June 9, 2014

moving water and student show

Moving water is always a huge challenge. It's always changing and it has reflections from the land and bouncy mirror-like parts on the white water. To me it helps to divide it into warm and cool: what is in shadow and what is in sun?
The rocks are a perfect resting point from the greens. The oranges and violets make it sing better.

BTW Three of my most talented young students had their first show at my studio yesterday. They have been working for 3 years and their dedication is obvious in their work quality. For this show they not only created the work but they learned how to frame it and wrote their first artist's statement.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

tricky greens

Recently when my teenage class was outdoors painting the common cry was, "There are too many greens!" Or, "Greens are boring, what do I do?"  Greens are incredibly tricky. In order to make a painting full of warm and cool greens to work you have to search for the other secondary colors that will complement green. That brings us to violet and orange. The famous Richard McKinley says, "The secret to green is orange and violet is its friend." So when looking at those endless greens out there now, think...where can I  see violet? How can pieces of orange in my greens and around enhance the green?

Sunday, June 1, 2014

more buttercups, revisit

This one is pastel on a gesso and marble dust board. It also has a thick watercolor underpainting. I am going through older paintings that need resolve.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

study of waves

Intimacy with your subject is most important.  Therefore last week I began my wave study in earnest. I love calming effect of the ocean waves. She has both beauty and repetition.  She is perfect and still moody, different each day. My infatuation with this beauty began long ago. I am sorry to say I have played with her feelings yet never settled into a pattern of constant adoration. I hope this past week began this journey.

Monday, May 26, 2014


I am enjoying revisiting paintings that were never resolved. Free of the scene I experiment with methods and ideas.

Friday, May 23, 2014

pastel and liquin

Finding new ways to layer can mean studio time. This pastel has an underpainting with watercolor on Uart paper done on location. Pastel was added then brought to the studio. Unsatisfied with the results I decided to use Liquin on the bottom half of the painting. I didn't know what would happen as normally I would use Gamsol. The Liquin worked like a thick  juicy liquid fixative. When the Liquin had dried (a day or so) I took the painting back to location. Then I added more pastel. I don't know if the Liquin helped or the time lapse helped.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

important words to remember

I was looking through my sketchbook yesterday and found one message I had written.
"We make paintings not see them."
Remember that when you go  out to paint. As artists we move parts of the landscape, erase others, heighten color, and subdue color. We are in charge.
It helps to turn away from your scene part way during your painting time to simply work with the painting not the scene.

So many buttercup scenes in the last week. Same scene many for the next post for more.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

spring fog- study of color

Someone asked me what is my method for painting landscape. Hmmm. Method, there ready is no method, I really do not aim to have a series of steps I do in order to make a plein air painting. I could answer instead, "what was today's method?"
Today I used sanded down watercolor paper and chose different  colors  to mass in the shapes. I hoped it would help a foggy painting read space. Next I softened all of the edges, only because I want to choose my edges later. Then I began layering color.
On this one you can see the stickiness of the pastel. Fog has so much moisture in the air.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

pollen and painting

Some of us are like homing pigeons. I am. That means I return to my handful of spots regularly, without question.  In May, the water in this area is covered with a thin layer of pollen. You might think-ick... but no. The good thing about it is pollen, like any other particle, it reflects color. (think fog, dust, smog, smoke) So I sneeze and paint. It's a beautiful time.
Happy Mother's Day!

Monday, April 28, 2014

cloud study-

Tumultuous skies of late April make for exciting plein air studies.