Thursday, December 31, 2009

dawn is the friend of the muses: versions one and two

10x12 pastel on BFK

Sunrise is quick, impressive and different every time. Ever think of that... different every time... how can that be??? I must admit the doing of this painting took me by surprise. I was awakened by this gem-like sight. There was no plan, except to see if I could create that ethereal feeling. It wasn't easy to paint so I had to rely quite a bit on memory and work in the studio. It is the view out my window into the back yard. The land at dawn has very little definition, more a glow of color. How much definition to use in the trees that touch the sky was the most challenging. They shouldn't be drawn....I still am not satisfied even after doing two takes and two days (this sunrise was yesterday.) Still I don't want to perseverate; time to move on to the vertical I posted yesterday.

 I read this recently: "A sunrise may indicate that the dreamer is about to embark on a new adventure in the dreamer's work or personal life. This symbol is about new beginnings, renewal of life and energy, and fulfillment of one's purpose in life. " I can feel it 2010 will be just that.

It begins with another award from Katherine at Making a Mark- the awesome Painting a Day Stickability Shield. how cool is that? I love it! Thank you Katherine! I am delighted, honored and just plain amazed! Be sure to check out her site and read all about her awards

A big thank you to PB, alias Doug Daniels, who nominated me. Doug is an accomplished artist and blogger who has become a good friend of mine through blogging. Not only is he an accomplished artist, a retired illustrator, and grandpa, but he is also just an amazing friend who gives insightful critiques. Thank you Doug, PB, for everything. Do yourself and treat and check out Doug's blog.

Thank you also to Casey and Astrid who nominated me for the Plein Air Plus Prize. Check out their inspiring blogs as well. I wrote about that fine moment yesterday, just scroll down.

One more thank you... to my good friend, Domi.
Long ago, in October of 2007,  Domi  helped me set up this blog. A neophyte to blogging I needed ALOT of help to learn the tricks. She has  helped me through all my blogging crises! They used to be numerous... now less:-)  What would I do without you Domi??????

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

uncompleted dream

This is a studio piece that I have been working on from a plein air painting in November.
Letting the idea sit and take shape in your head is very helpful. All the while I am thinking of Hans Hoffman's push pull theory. Warm /cool.
I want a softness to the air. Still it needs a vibration. Hmmmmmmmm.

On another note, I have been living in a dream ever since I learned that I received the 2009 Painting Plein Air Painting Plus Prize. To learn that I shared the award with Marc Hanson was a double honor! Making a Mark, #3 art blog in the UK, is the forum . If you haven't bookmarked Katherine's blog already, you must. She blogs from across the pond. Her topics include artists, exhibitions, art blogs;art history; art techniques and tips; art business and marketing; and the art name a few. Yearly she gives awards to blogs she finds deserving. This week she is slowly revealing the honors.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


10 x12 pastel on BFK

As I said in my last post, this is the San Luis Rey Mission: the place where my Dad and Mae devote a good portion of their time to help others.  The color was added in the studio on top of the value painting which worked as a grisaille. I tried to show not just a place but a feeling.

Dad and Mae this is dedicated to you. Thank you for everything you do.

Monday, December 28, 2009

value study- san luis rey mission at sunset

10x12 pastel on BFK
My Dad and Mae are amazing people.  After working hard their whole lives, they now use their retirement  to volunteer at the San Luis Rey Mission. Others may golf, but Dad and Mae work almost full time helping others at the mission and its school. It blows me away.
So before leaving I knew I had to do a painting of this important place in their lives. Here is the value study. We were racing to get to their home in time for dinner and the sun was setting fast. Tomorrow I will post the color version.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Top Ten Artist Blog Post Award: Thank you!!!!!!

I wanted to thank Casey for honoring me with the top ten artist blog post of 2009 award! I was stunned and delighted to say the least. Please check out Casey's blog, The Colorist, to see mine and  the other nine artists' posts. If you haven't been to his blog, The Colorist, before be sure to spend a long time viewing his gorgeous art and reading his posts. Very interesting, thought provoking stuff.

I am writing this late at night since I need to pack and leave California in the morning. I may get time to paint... I might not.  We will see...... either way I'll see you back on the East Coast on Monday.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

mountain view

9x10 (about) pastel on BFK

The layers of distance are made up of similar colors with changes in value and temperature. California has such interesting color so different from the East Coast. A beautiful place.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009

First Blush at Christmas Eve

 10 x10 pastel on BFK

Twilight, Sunrise, Dawn.

Twilight- The diffused light from the sky during the early evening or early morning when the sun is below the horizon and its light is refracted by the earth's atmosphere.
Dawn - the point where the sky begins to lighten, the time before the sun comes over the horizon which ends twilight
Sunrise- the instant the sun comes over the horizon in the east.

Sam and Doug raised this point in the comments section on another post. It made me curious enough to investigate. So there are the basic definitions. I  have always loved twilight: the light, the feel, and the fact that it comes twice. If you miss it you have a second chance.

Christmas Eve and its magic comes once...enjoy it.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

December Rising / making neutrals

10x 12 pastel on BFK
The only time I have today would be at twilight again...a wonderful time to paint. (The whole family is going to the San Diego Wild Animal Park.) So I drove down the road at 5:30 and pulled into a dark parking lot, facing east, with hopes of a view. As the sun began to give light to the hills I painted. My goal was to only use a handful of pastels, no neutrals. I needed to make more interesting neutrals with pures.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

finding the song

Didn't have much time this morning and it was raining at sunrise. So I drove down the street and parked the car  in the first spot off the road. My challenge was "to make something of it." There was a billboard right in front of me and a interstate 15 over the hill. Hmmmmm. We artists are supposed to be able to make it sing right???? Yes I have had much better paintings, but this was a good exercise. Now back to the family;-)

Monday, December 21, 2009

twilight in gold and silver

10 x10 pastel on BFK
It was a silvery winter solstice twilight. The sun was still below the distant mountains, yet it peeked through with hues of gold. The clouds seemd to glow silver. It was my friends warm and cool at play again.
Happy Winter Solstice! The light is on its way....tomorrow we gain one minute of light.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

push and pull

Push and pull with color.  Long ago I studied the work and writings of Hans Hoffman's work.  He influenced many artists of his time including Wolf Kahn. Hans Hoffman was not only a great artist but a tireless, much loved teacher.  He had a theory about the tension between space, form and color that he called the push/ pull theory. The basic premise is that warm and cool colors work to create a push pull which creates depth, space and above all feeling. I was thinking about Hans Hoffman when I looked at this piece in the mirror.
Long ago, in order to learn from him, I created still lives based on his abstract paintings.
For a little fun check out PBS site for the push pull painting activity. Sam, this is for you, I think it may help your recovery form your broken arm and lonely unisons.  Check out Sam's blog for the story about the break.

I wrote this post as a draft before I left home and I am posting it from sunny California! All I can say is wow am I lucky!  It was a surreal drive to BWI airport with no real plowed interstate, trucks jackknifed on the side, cars strewn here and there and abandoned.  My little Honda FIT slowly inched to the airport.  Yay!  Only 12 flights made it out of BWI and mine was one. They had delayed it first, then announced "hurry , the window for leaving is now...or never." The airplane was de-iced and then up we went to the sunshine above the clouds! We didn't even miss our connecting flight. It was a long very hairy travel day that finally ended happily about 24 hours later. Yay!!!!!

PS More more on the field will continue upon my return. I still haven't figured it out.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

sunrise/ plein air study

10x10 pastel on BFK
I knew I wanted to study the color more since I didn't seem to be getting it. So I returned to the field site at twilight (Thursday morning) and waited for the sun to rise just above the horizon. Then, early Friday  morning  I went back to the studio to do another painting but this time by memory...of course I always had the reference available this time. I will post that later.
I am writing this late Friday evening/early Saturday morning. We are in our first major snowstorm (in years) and I  am scheduled  to leave from the airport this morning. Keep in mind that in Washington DC 4 inches of snow closes down the city and we are expecting 1-2 feet!  Everyone will go insane!  I hope to be off to visit my Daddio and his wife Mae in California. My whole family goes. It's a fun time. I love spending time with everyone... but of course I will paint. It is beautiful out there. If the airport shuts down you will be seeing a snow painting.

Friday, December 18, 2009

two trees, search for color

both 10x10 pastel on BFK
I continue to search for two trees and their color. Morning color, especially early morning is so neutralized (the land lacks light)..except the sky which glows pink, yellow orange with a touch of green depending on time and weather. I keep trying to work with purer colors and make my neutrals.  It's more the feel of the light...but how much local color is needed? How much intuitive color? How much warm color and how much cool? I posted both the doomed one from yesterday for Nika (left) and today's equally doomed.
Meanwhile I play with the shapes. I think I need to go back to the site to study.
Today I looked at my studio wall of small works and I realized how my recent work stood out (at least to me.)  My recent use of higher chroma hues grabs attention. I just need to learn to harness it.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

value, color and concept...why not to rush

Hmmmmm, so we have established that value is most important. For a good read check out Karen's post about value. So now I will move onto color.
This painting was done from a sketch created on my morning walk at the lake. The light was very low still near ground level, but off in the distance.

Then in the studio I impulsively ran ahead - right into a small color painting, without doing the value painting. Whoops. The value painting shows me what is important, the reason why I am doing the painting. The quick sketch determines the basic shapes and idea.  Long way of saying the first painting failed, even though the colors were good.

So now with the value painting done I will begin again. Now I realize that the choices will be all about how to express the beautiful, melancholy soft light of the dawn and the cycle of life and death. Light and dark are much closer.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

waiting at the light

10x10 pastel on BFK
Not color shy, yet restricting some for full feeling and effect. The question is always..what do I need to include to make the right shapes and create the feeling I envision? Less is more and mystery is king...or queen.
Using a photo can make me a little crazy. So of course I did sketches and my value painting. Doing those showed me what was essential. The lines, polls and signs are gone, as is a house.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

waiting at the light 1 and 2

10x10 pastel on BFK
So there I was in a line waiting at the light. There was a fog that made an orange- pink cottony glow. The sun was just beginning to come up between the trees.  I was one my way into school. I teach 2 classes this morning. No time to stop and paint. I whip the camera from my glove compartment (it's always with me) and fling my hand out the window and snip the picture just as the light turns green.
I did the value painting at night. Now I am ready to go onto color.

Monday, December 14, 2009

december blue twilight/memory painting

I am seriously on a roll. Same field in December twilight. Memory painting.
Warm next to cool... my goal is to internalize, not represent.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

cresent moon twilight/ making neutrals

10x10 pastel on BFK
Couldn't sleep so I left home before sunrise to paint the twilight. I stayed in the car because it was freezing and it was hard to see even with the inside light on. (I will have to get a caving head lamp.) It's funny I didn't touch my neutrals because their colors are not visible in the darkness instead I layered to make neutrals. I think I like that better.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

it finally makes sense...epiphany

10x10 pastel on BFK
Well, it finally makes sense. What you ask? The answer is to trust. It is the intuition that has the answers. I  have been studying the light forever, now I just need to trust that I know or can find  the answers and go with it. Search inside...look at nothing.
This is a memory painting. I saw it, verbalized the colors on the spot then ran home and painted. The glow was there! The BFK helped because it's smooth and the glazes just flowed like paint.

Friday, December 11, 2009

explorations-new ways to glaze

18.5 x 20 on BFK
I have thought about this one for a long time. I have also been experimenting with a new way to glaze my pastels that can match the way I am trying to glaze with oils. I am somewhat "indelicate with color." (to say the least) When I want a pink/ orange glow I go full speed much for neutrals, eh? This was painted on top of the sepia grisaille. I may go back into it after the fixative firmly dries...but I think I will let it sit till tonight.
The diva is the glow at the edge, where tree, water and background mass case you can't tell.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

color, divas and other things

Color...oh color, probably the most complicated aspect of any painting. How to make light and the same time.We all have color tendencies. The ways of we like to look at color. My plein air friend, Christine, loves her neutrals. In fact she will use her Girault 50 gray box almost exclusively when we paint outdoors.  Think about your color tendencies.... hmm, what are they? Try to describe them.
In Raymond Logan's description of my work in his Daily Painter Review he wrote, "Rather, she (me) guides your eye through her pieces by using shapes – often nebulous, values, and last, but certainly not least, gorgeous hues. Yes, she is not shy with her palette, but nor is she heavy handed. She applies the full spectrum or just the right section of the spectrum that suits the ambience of the piece, making the landscape comfortable, yet dynamic." 
I was delighted that he saw my work that way. Because for me I feel that I am always trying to control my  tendency to an over-zealous palette. I know in my brain there can be only one diva if the painting is to sing. Quiet colors need to be placed near the diva or else she has a tantrum and walks off. Does that make sense?. 
Neutrals are key and divas like to be warm. So begin with neutrals and make your center of interest warmer (comparatively).
That's what was on my mind as I drove out to my painting site to battle the winds and freezing cold.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

fog series and love of exploration

pastel and watercolor on Uart

large value painting 20.5x21.5 on BFK

Monet  Branch of the Seine Near Giverny

As a child Monet was my favorite. Still he is one of my top twenty artists (dead ones)... especially his water paintings of the Seine and the waterlilies. When creating the top painting on location I couldn't help but think of him. This is a site where I have painted frequently in the past 4 years.  The paintings are large and small.  A few of them will be in my solo show in May (I need 32 paintings so I have saved a few special ones)
I love the way the fog sits on the water with the trees. On site I was able to get it. With the value painting I was not as successful. Temperature of color made to color version succeed .Warm near cool.  I think I will use the value painting as a grisaille, fix it and then paint on top. 
Later......After seeing it here and then posting it I can't stop thinking that I should work on it more before using the fixative. Did I ever say how much I love to paint and explore???...never a dull moment!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

welcome to my studio

Welcome to my studio!  I always love seeing other artists' studios so I am sharing mine today.
I am a  slightly messy, somewhat chaotic painter who is fortunate to have a studio of her own. About four years ago, as I outgrew my other studio I took over what was the master bedroom. Yay!  (what a husband, eh?) I have outgrown that by now and long for the reconstruction of the entire attic.  (yeah, right!)
Let me walk you through my space. The first photo was taken as you walk into the studio. I have placed my easel so that I can step back far (through the door and down the hallway) and I can still see the painting. I like to sneak up on my work. On the right side top is looking from the north windows. I keep the small paintings that are inspiring my current work on the wall. Below  you see into two of my flat file drawers.  These things saved me from myself and my messy tendencies. Four  drawers have just pastels (unison, schminke, diane townsend, girault, great american,  and sennelier), one  has paints and palettes (watercolor and oil) and the rest  of the drawers store paper and finished work. The bottom photo is my watercolor palette, it's my plein air one, I was using it today so it's out. I have a bigger one as well. The lights are full spectrum.
I must say there are pluses and minuses for having your studio in your home. At this point in my life the pluses outweigh any minuses. I love painting at any time of day and night without having to leave home. As long as I keep a daily schedule all the extra hours I put in are just gravy. I love being around my kitties as well. Long ago I insisted on a separate space... no longer. I finally realized that my strong work habits were the backbone, not the space.

My other studio is the back of my car. I will show you that on another day.

OK, anyone else want to show their space?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Ice Crusted Sunrise

Sunday morning, on ice covered streets, I drove back to my muse and painted the moments after sunrise. Boy it was cold.
The underpainting was done fairly dark and  purposely changing temperature. For instance, while the morning sky has a cooler light (typically) I first made the sky a warm yellow orange. When I painted the pastel on top I went towards the cooler side- a more lemony yellow with green. I wanted to see what would happen. It's funny I was thoughtful about that, but my favorite part is the left shadow mass of trees and its reflection. That is where I painted simply by instinct. hah! What does that tell me??????

Sunday, December 6, 2009


With the memory of Wednesday and Thursday night's full moon firmly in my mind I painted this in the studio.
This one is for my best friend in the world, Leah.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

let it snow!!!!!!

both are 5x11 pastel and watercolor on Uart

They said it would snow later this morning I had no idea it would begin when I was out at the lake...lucky me!
 The top one was painted as the snow mixed with rain. By the time I painted the second the snow was so heavy it was like the landscape was wearing a thick, fuzzy veil.
Again, at the risk at sounding redundant, it's all about value. It's truly amazing how many color are present in the white of the snow.

Friday, December 4, 2009

full moon rising

9x9 pastel on BFK

18x24 pastel on oil on marble dust board
The full moon was Wednesday night. Both Tuesday and last night were equally dramatic. The moonrise happened immediately after sunset. The sky was that wonderful green blue that it only can be in December when we near the winter solstice. A little sliver of pink appears like a surprise guest. I guess it's time to work on those December twilight scenes I wait all year to do. There's something different about it and I can only paint this special twilight in December/January when it is present...even when I work in the studio. Last year I created  the one on the bottom ...let's see what this year will bring.
It's my birthday today and I can't wait to go outside to paint. Sometimes morning is a long wait.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

orange, orange, tangerine

Just watercolor. I finally did it. Knowing that in its raw state it would serve as a great color study I resisted placing even one stroke of pastel. Let's see how long that lasts:-)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

as the sky continues to weep

4x10 pastel and watercolor on Uart
I was thinking about temperature of color as I painted inside my dry car. The drizzle that began light turned to a downpour later. I stuck to the overcast drizzle feel of the painting. The sky has been weeping for weeks....if only this rain was snow.
I can't wait for my first snow plein air landscape.