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.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

study the possibilities

There really is nothing that can replace being there, just studying the possibilities.
Exploring and experimenting. It makes me understand so that when I am in the studio I don't need a reference photo to tell me what to do.
I have been traveling to new and old paint spots this summer. No matter how far I go I always look for the same thing. Fields. Not a cultivated field, but one left to sit with long grass. When on my way to Asheville I saw many. In Shepherdstown  I found a new favorite- old apple trees and long grass.  Last week, in Prince Edward Island I was blown away by the flower fields and I can't wait to go back. That could be a full summer destination. On Friday I am off to my old favorite, Washington State. There is a field there I have loved for over ten years.  I see my fields in my dreams. I mix and match attributes of each to make a painting work.
Nothing can replace being there.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The only technique to learn

"It's taken me years to come to the conclusion, or to the belief, that probably the only thing one can really learn, the only technique to learn, is the capacity to be able to change. And it's a very difficult thing. But as modern artists that's our fate, constant change. I don't mean novelty or anything like that. What I mean is serious play, which we call art, can't be stamped. I mean you have to keep learning to play in different ways all of the time. It's always good for the first time. There's a popular Italian song, "Per la Prima" - "For the First Time"  It's about a love affair, but it's the same thing. It's always good for the first time, then somehow that has to be recaptured constantly."
Philip Guston in a talk to Yale Summer students

Words to live by. Constant change and play.

I finished this painting after a weekend trip to Chincoteague. It was stormy and we had a splendid show. The idea came from a small moment of or two seconds...just to watch and describe to myself. Like an amazing blessing.

Monday, June 27, 2016

abstraction and the landscape

36x376 oil
My recent work is about abstraction. I was fortunate to take a workshop with Rebecca Crowell. Her work is all about beautiful ethereal abstraction. While I don't see myself taking the full dive to abstraction I do know that I work abstractly as I alternately decompose and compose a scene. In the end I finish  with "compose" and the essence of the scene is hopefully the strongest part.
A painting is simply the arrangement of lights and darks. My focus is on the quality of the edges.
3x5 oil
One of my small abstracts.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Mountain Maryland Plein Air 2016

8x8 pastel
Wow! What a beautiful place and this year it was coupled with amazing weather. These week long plein air competitions are exhausting and wonderful at the same time. It's always nice to hang out with folks from your "tribe." It's the only place you can talk art 24/7 and not bore your friends. And best of all, your only job is to paint continuously.
The painting above, titled, sunrise in the valley, captured the feel of the moment. It has a watercolor underpainting and light pastel on top.
18x18 pastel
This one, titled exquisite stillness was a 4 day struggle. Finally the feeling I wanted to create evolved. I had to treat it like a studio painting and finish it with the back turned to the scene.  It was a good reminder to me to stop looking for the answers out there. They are in the painting.

One morning as I was painting and I heard a rustle in the grasses near my feet. Look what popped out not 6 feet away! I stayed as still as I could till he was far enough away to snap this photo. Plein air painting will always surprise you!
By the way........
Boy, was I happy!
Thanks you to my wonderful host family, the arts council of Cumberland, the many kind artists in the group that I got to know and to the judge Jason Sacran for seeing beauty in my work!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Monday, May 9, 2016

the refusal to be habit-ridden

“To be creative,....may mean nothing more than the refusal to be habit-ridden.”
Wolf Kahn
Think about it. To me, and I see WK agreed, to be a painter means that you are an explorer. Never satisfied with what you can do, you are forever searching. That said, you if you are genuinely searching you can't have a technique you rely on to create a certain effect. Even if you paint the same thing every day, the concept is different. 
I learned this long ago. When I was studying for my MFA I spent two full years painting a pot of yellow mums. Yes, I did have to keep buying new yellow mums when the fresh pot withered away completely, but it was always the same size yellow mums.  I can tell you I learned more in those two years painting those mums. I learned about painting and endless possibilities. I continue that work now as I paint the same block of trees, or the same soccer field near my house. Sometimes I feel like Magellan as he rounded Cape Horn and discovered the other side. 
What happens if I do this? 
I wonder......?

Monday, April 11, 2016

getting to the danger point

Like a homing pigeon I return to the beauty of trees, in particular, red trees. I am tempting fate with my new series. How far can I push the beauty of the color and not allow to get too garish or quiet? How close can it come before the tipping point yet stay there and entrance the viewer?  How much light , dark, intense or neutral does a painting need?  This is why I paint.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

when you are uninspired and new show!

pastel, oil paint, gold leaf, marble dust
Do you feel uninspired to paint?
I was recently talking with a close friend, an excellent painter, who expressed this feeling. She explained that house work needed to be done first, saving the tired parts of the day for her creative self.
If I can give you one piece of advice, and only one, it is take care of your creative spirit and feed her regularly. She is an important part of yourself. Schedule her time each day. If you have a full time job, get up at least an hour earlier and do a small piece. (I did this for a years.)
If it is that you feel uninspired by cranking out painting after painting without joy, make joy. Take an old painting that has no hope wash it or scrape it down and then see what you have. It's one of my most fun things to do. You can have no fear and live by, "what happens if I do......?" Use different materials. This painting was a scrape down and add piece. Gold leaf, oil glazes and pastels were part of its recipes.
Change format. I usually love the square. When I need a jump start I go to an elongated rectangle...once even a circle!
And last a technique I learned from Elizabeth Mowry- Have a sit-down talk with 5 paintings that are in your studio that you like. Rank them in order of appeal and then articulate why. This should give you food for thought.

Enjoy the spring! And if you are looking for something to do this weekend come to DC. Flowering trees, warmish temperatures and my new show at the Waverly Street Gallery in Bethesda. Its a couple of miles outside of DC right at the Bethesda Metro stop on the red line.  The reception is April 8th 6-9pm.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

black and white opens up possibilities for color

Planning some cherry tree/apple tree paintings. I'm doing my on location small sketches in black and white only. That way when I am back in the studio I can play with the color, rather than being locked into only pink.
All of my paintings for my next show Intimate Landscapes are at the framer. Now I am just enjoying paintings without pressure. Sweeeeet.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

From plein air study to large oil

Moonset, oil on wood, 36x36
 Plein air and memory studies are exquisite food for thought. They spark ideas. Copying the study rarely, if ever, makes a satisfying large painting. A painting needs its own concept, it's own brand new life. So I share two photos. One is an 8x8" plein air study (below) done at the Sedona plein air festival in October. The Mesa where the small airport sits was a perfect place for me to paint each morning. Quiet. With rabbits skittering every which way and coyotes howling. Planes do not depart till later in the morning so no one is there except the occasional security guard who became used to my presence.
The large painting that found its way from that piece is above. This one titled Moonset started with the Arizona piece but continued with my fascination of the full moon setting at sunrise. Similar, yet different in feel, both share the blue and the trees, but the larger one is full of atmospheric subtlest. I hope you can see them. 
I am preparing for my next show Intimate Landscapes that opens the first week of April. More about that later.
Arizona Blues pastel,8x8

Monday, February 29, 2016

the gray beauty of late winter

After the snow comes the rains and then more rains. The fields are overflowing and it leaves a gray beauty.
Question- how reduced can it be and still create the magic?

Monday, February 22, 2016

distractions and solutions

I am now finishing those last pieces for my upcoming show titled Intimate Landscapes (opening the week of  April 5th.) The problem is I get distracted...distracted by new ideas.
How do I manage this? Solution- I always allow myself time to do more small paintings, just to satisfy those cravings. This small pastel is one I did in the studio when the ground was covered with ice and snow. Heh! So much for winter! Now back to work on a big one.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Plein Air Magazine article

Hi blogger friends,

I have had many requests to show the whole article. Here are pages 2, 3, and 4(see my last post for page one). Once again they are screen shots. If you want to read the article I think you either have to buy the printed form or get it online line. I received the printed magazine today.

Here is a snippet of the article.

“I often work from memory. I will sit and watch what happens in a landscape, record the information in my head and later in my sketchbook.  Sometimes I return to the location a day later to paint the scene,” Signori reveals. “More often I just work from the memory alone. I find that my work from memory is more evocative. The key for me is to remember the moment that made me stop there, and then I paint from that. I grew up in the woods so being part of the outdoors has always influenced my creative work.”

“It is important to begin my work with a clear intention,” Signori emphasizes. “I have to ask myself what I am trying to say with the painting I am about to create. If the message is not clear to me, how will the viewer be able to understand my work? Part of the way I convey the message is to have a clear focal point and a strong understanding of the color relationships I chose to use.

Till later,

Saturday, February 6, 2016

woohoo! Plein Air Magazine article about my work is now available!

Great news! Plein Air Magazine has found my work worthy of notice and inclusion in their February/March Issue. Woohoo!!
Thank you Steve Doherty for your wonderful interview ! He was so patient. I learned I need to be more succinct when I speak.
The magazine should be appearing on the news stand any moment now. Get your copy or order the online version.
Thank you Astrid for alerting me of its appearance and sending me screen shots! I have included one here. There are a few other pages.....