Sunday, January 31, 2010


10 x10 oil on linen
After all my work at Lake Needwood at sunrise I am finally feeling like I know it and can paint it from inside me. Trying to get the glow and depth is the challenge. Whistler's idea of very "saucy" paint put on in thin layers is singing in my head.
Casey "the colorist" Klahn wrote a post on Friday that included lots of information on Wolf Kahn. One piece that really struck me was that WK pushed his colors right to the edge. He said “I am always trying to get to the danger point, where color either becomes too sweet or too harsh; too noisy or too quiet”      I love that idea. Thanks for sharing Casey. Here's to pushing the edge.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

underpainting and grisailles

I am experimenting with two different ways of glazing. One begins with a grisaille (either tight or loose) and the other with simply color bands. Each method has it's strengths and weaknesses. For me, I think the bands of color method resonates much more closely with my pastel methods. Still I experiment with both simply to see what I can learn.
Two interesting notes:
I remember reading somewhere that Maxfield Parrish glazed each color separately and varnished it before placing another color on top. That's how he creating his luminosity.
Sanford Gifford stained his white canvas with burnt sienna, drew in white chalk and then glazed more rapidly. He would paint non-stop from sunrise to sunset when he began the color part of his painting. He had already worked out his color idea in his oil sketches. Gifford kept working and blending his glazed layers while they were wet. 
Don't you find it interesting to read about others methods? I sure do. Anyone want to share an interesting tidbit?

Friday, January 29, 2010

step by step, work in progress

8x10 oil on canvas
As you can see recently I have been working with  a lot of oils. Aware of my lung ailments, I am trying to give my lungs a rest from particles floating in the air. At least with oils the particles are stabilized. The principals are the same. Some aspects are harder; some are easier. To work in glazes requires much more planning and lots of patience waiting for them the dry before applying the next layer.
This one is still waiting for another layer...I think.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

backyard sunrise

10x10 pastel on BFK
This is a view out my back window (again). This time decided to remove all of the trees that were close to me. Their spidery branches serve as a distraction to the beautiful light in the sky at sunrise. As you know, the sky reflects down to the land and shares its color with it. The farther away, the more the sky color is in the land. At moments like this there is not much time to think, so adjustments are made in the studio.
the dube and kins
I have been staying close to home lately. My little cat, Stripey, affectionately known as "the Dube" stopped walking on Sunday. His left hind leg stopped working. The ER vet thought it was a blood clot. Stripey's regular vet, Dr. Tom, thinks its a pinched nerve. He received a cortisone shot  on Monday and now I am watching and cajoling him round the clock. I am happy to report he is doing a little better.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

more work with glazes

6x6 oil on board
Different support and this time I used a more analogous palette. Working with glazes...seeing where it will go. The struggle continues.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

still playing with glazes in oil

 8x8 oil on linen
Whistler's landscapes whisper simplicity. He hated what he considered the ostentatious brush-slinging of the virtuoso painter. He said, " In my pictures there is no cleverness, no brush marks, nothing to astonish and bewilder, but simply a gradual, more perfect growth of beauty. It is this beauty my canvases reveal, not the way it was obtained." He worked with what he called "his sauce," which was paint mixed with so much medium it ran. He would actually have to dry his paintings horizontally. Whistler used big house paint brushes. He was said to experiment with ways of drying his paintings. He was rumored to have left his paintings outdoors in all kinds of weathers. Once he said (of his drying methods)," It takes the gloss off them, that objectionable gloss which puts one in mind of a painfully new hat." I wish I could have met him and watched him at work. I admit I love juicy paint and brush strokes. In turn I love quiet surfaces like Whistler's.

On another note: I won't be satisfied till I can create in oil what I do in pastel. I have been described as relentless... tenacious... stubborn.....she won't give up. All are true.

Monday, January 25, 2010

frustration and lemonade

Yesterday I was so frustrated with the bigger pastel on which I was working that I went outside and wiped the entire thing down. As I stood there looking at the after image and I saw a possibility. Up to the studio we went and a brand new landscape evolved completely unplanned. Now I am not going to profess this to be a finished painting, but it was a lesson.
1. listen to the painting, don't force my agenda
2. I prefer to paint distance... not to close. I was painting a landscape that was too close for my liking. I felt SQUEEZED.
Think about your lessons. The painting will always teach you.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Lost field, number? at sunrise

Early morning at another one of the last fields. This is one that will soon become a development of new homes. Sad. The horses grazed nearby on this quiet early morning.
 It really is amazing how much reflected light plays in the whole drama. It was hard to get the land to be dark enough so that space and drama would be made.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

aiming for simplicity

Another early morning trip to Lake Needwood I slept so well I couldn't make twilight.
As I paint this very familiar  scene I try to find the simplicity.

Friday, January 22, 2010

loyal dog walkers

I had to go downtown to the doctor's office. So I decide to use the change of scenery to make a different landscape. While the cold drizzle was falling the morning dog walkers were making their rounds on Rose Park.
On another note; at the doctor's office I learned that I have a version of TB. Good news is it's completely treatable- with 2 years of 3 different antibiotics!!!  I am someone who NEVER takes drugs/medicine in any form if I can avoid it. I guess I can't this time. Anyone have experience with myocobacterium avium complex?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Nocturne of Green

5x12 pastel on BFK (right), detail-left
A nocturne is a musical composition inspired by the beauty of night. It was Whistler who first applied musical terminology to visual art by titling his paintings Harmonies, Nocturnes, or Symphonies. In his essay "The Gentle Art of Making Enemies," he wrote: "As music is the poetry of sound so is painting the poetry of sight." Painting for Whistler was about  arranging colors in beautiful harmony.
Whistler was on my mind as I painted this variation. I am preparing for the color work on the painting I prepared yesterday. What better way than to do another variation based on the color harmony I desire for this painting.
Sometimes painting is about planning, sometimes it's about insight and intuition, and most of all sometimes it's about happy accidents that are recognized before covered!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

unseen possibility and wonder/ grisaille

20.5 x 21.5 pastel on BFK
When creating the grisaille for a bigger work I really notice how much one stroke can make all the difference. It really has to work for its own sake and while a traditional grisaille does not show strokes I need to in order to create the feeling I seek.

George Inness was quoted as saying, "A work of art does not appeal to the intellect--it does not appeal to the moral sense. Its aim is not to instruct, not to edify, but to awaken an emotion.... Its real greatness consists in the duality and force of this emotion." 

And now as I proceed to color, another quote form Mr. Inness, "The arrangement of colours must be kept in harmony because it must reproduce not merely the facts of the landscape, either separately or in mass, but, rather, the effect of the scene upon the painter's feelings, the emotion it evokes. Not alone the grass and the trees, with whatever delicate recognition of gradation of colour, but the mood, of which they are the embodiment and cause, it is to be transferred to the canvas."

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


10x10 pastel on BFK

The lake has begun to melt. The edges by the spring are fully dissolved. This is where the geese and ducks have spent their winter- the warm spot (it's also sheltered from wind.) Now the whole lake has once again become their playground. If we have a few more days like this it will all be liquid.

My focus on this plein air painting was mark making and how to differ: trees to the wetness of water. Attention to where I wanted an edge was also important. My edges were more about color meeting color instead of line.

Monday, January 18, 2010

going from small to big

Going from small to big takes a lot of planning, for me. The concept has been growing in my head for awhile now and it's the right time of year. At this time the "blue twilight" is present. I love those moments before the sun goes over the horizon. The day is full of unseen possibility and wonder. In this painting blue will be the underlying color as the fog waits for day.
I begin with notans, tiny sketches that help me understand the compositional possibilities.  Insights about how the masses and values will relate on an abstract level are beginning.
The next step is a value painting. It needs to make me feel, even before color is there.

For me it, picking the value painting was a "no-brainer." the top one just flowed. The middle painting was a struggle and its idea may need to be saved for another painting and refined. At the bottom you can see the notans. 

Sunday, January 17, 2010


11x13 pastel and watercolor on Uart
As I clean the studio I find abandoned "starts." I decided this one had potential. It's rather freeing to go into a painting with no preconceptions or reference, especially when the painting was begun long ago. First you need to make an idea so that you know where you are heading.
Illumination was the idea.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

almost breakfast time

10x10 pastel on BFK
The morning was very quiet, but not as cold as usual. As I waited for my favorite scone bakery to open I decided that I was up for the challenge of painting the sunrise through the trees. Warm and cool layers of marks was my method on this smooth paper. The leftover bits of snow on the ground added unusual lights in the grass. I love the glazey feel the sun makes over the distant trees and homes.
Now I will eat my scone and tea.

PS Thank you everyone for your input about my lighting issue. I will buy a book light today!

Friday, January 15, 2010

winter twilght at the station

10 x 10 pastel
It was a weird night. Helicopters started circling my neighborhood at about 4am. I couldn't sleep so I ran to the car with a new board for painting. Then I drove out of the spotlight's range. This placed me down at Kensington Station, a small train station about one mile away. It was still dark and I admit I was a little unsure of safety so I painted this one in the car. It's amazing to me how the twilight glazes a colored film over what one might think are dark shadow masses.  The biggest challenge was seeing what color my pastels were in the dark. I think I will buy a caving light. Anyone have any experience with one? (for painting that is)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

snowy veil

10x10 pastel
Like a homing pigeon I return to the same sight over and over. I can't quite seem to get this light, although this painting comes closer. The distance needs to fade back which counters the light drama. The softness of a snowy landscape adds a veil over the whole thing.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

think, thomas cole (variation 9)

I keep thousands of little papers of color notes. Notes that remind me of  the landscapes and skies I see. I try to record them (later) in my sketchbook. This particular note I looked for and found on my studio floor. I had remembered it well. The painting started out well. I should have known when to stop. When finishing my last strokes I couldn't help think of Thomas Cole.
There are many Cole's downtown in the NGA. Dramatic is a word I would use to describe his work. He was the founder of the Hudson River School of painters. Frederic Church (one of my faves) was one of his students.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


5 x12 pastel on BFK

I did this one(left) on Sunday. The lake was mostly frozen with a mix of hard and soft edges, yet I wanted to keep my edges soft.  After I brought it home and lived with it for a day I realized that it didn't feel finished. It needed the feel of a warm touch. Therefore it took a visit to the studio (middle).

I have been working with the idea that magic happens in the place where color meets color. I added a detail that describes it better than my words.

Monday, January 11, 2010

color possesses me

10 x10 pastel on BFK
Sometimes I will begin work in the studio only to return to the outdoors. On this particular painting I have worked many days, frustrated with my ability to say what I wanted to say. Finally I took it to the field that inspired the concept. Warm on top of cool and cool on top of warm. I am finally finding a morsel of it.
Four years ago there was a magnificent show of Paul Klee in the Phillips Collection. It was filled with drawings, watercolors and oils.  Listen to his words, "Color possesses me. I don't have to pursue it. It will possess me always, I know it. That is the meaning of this happy hour: Color and I are one. I am the painter."
Doesn't that say it all?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

sunset on a frosty afternoon/ rothko

10 x10 pastel on BFK
Back outside, and believe me it's freezing out there! I have been noticing how much it's the colors on top of colors and the colors between the colors that make the vibration.  This one has small pieces of success... not completely though.

On another note, have you ever really looked at a Rothko? And notice how the colors vibrate on a deeper level?  Rothko's use of color and vibration was all about emotion. The Phillips Collection, downtown, has the Rothko room, a place where you can just sit and feel. It's pretty amazing. When looking at his work I get this deep down hum in my bones.

Read his words:
"I’m not an abstractionist. I’m not interested in the relationship of color or form or anything else. I’m interested only in expressing basic human emotions: tragedy, ecstasy, doom, and so on."  

"The fact that people break down and cry when confronted with my pictures shows that I can communicate those basic human emotions. The people who weep before my pictures are having the same religious experience I had when painting them. And if you say you are moved only by their color relationships then you miss the point."

What do you think?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

plein air vibrations/ bluebird's daybreak

10x12 pastel on BFK
Now that I am intentionally alternating between plein air and memory I will be trying to interlace the knowledge of both. Haha you say... or was that me??? This is a painting I did yesterday at daybreak. I was thinking about vibrations and lost and found edges. I alternately rubbed out and marked in the edge between the path turn and the trees. In or out? What do you think?

On another note I was surprised by the sight of an iridescent blue of the eastern bluebird. I had thought bluebirds migrated. (Google disagrees, here in the mid-atlantic they just hide.) It was beautiful the way its wings glowed in the sunlight.

Friday, January 8, 2010

variation 7/ snow falling

12x5 pastel on BFK
I woke up during the middle of the night and saw the snow coming down. The sky was a beautiful dusty orange color. I watched for awhile then went to the studio to try a new variation.
the wall of variations

Thursday, January 7, 2010

variation 6 /How do you take charge of your growth as an artist?

Early Morning's Slow Awakening 12 x 5 pastel on BFK
My sunrise frozen walk in the neighborhood inspired this. Oh, do I wish I lived right next to a body of water!  I don't so; I create one:-)
The more I do these, the more I am thinking about the edges. Lost and found, hard and soft it's a rhythm. So few hard edges are ever needed, but if it gets too soft it is fuzzy and out of focus.

Just a little note, prompted by Doug's comment; yes, I will still do plein air. And I will not just post variations. I made a promise to myself this year to come completely out of my comfort zone and take more risks. What that means is I will be alternating plein air and memory work. Plein air is my comfort zone. Memory work is what is really making me grow. 
What do you think about your own growth as an artist? How do you take charge?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

variation 5, turner's sky

5x 12 pastel on BFK

I am already loving doing these variations. Pick a color... let it speak to you.  I am venturing out and  trying different color combinations. Since the sky determines the color of everything I am working with a mostly sky format. This  format was out of my comfort range for a long time- read lots of high horizons. I'm done with that now, time to move on ;-)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

variations, continued

orange variation
I am playing with color trying to create volume and luminosity. No references exist now; I am in no man's land (or make that no woman's land.) Relying only on my color intuition, I place a color down and watch. Change one color and they are all different. That simultaneous contrast is at work again.

Monday, January 4, 2010

leah's moon

Have you seen Marla Baggetta's marvelous 100 variations?  Here's a link. For a real treat check them out now.  WOW! Watching her do those inspired me to work on my own version of variations. Here is another form the long verticals/lake needwood. As per her suggestion, I just began with a color and watched where it took me. I did not know I would be doing the blue moon snow version when I began. I just wanted to meld the idea of calm areas and energetic marked areas.

On another note, my best friend Leah loves the moon, especially the blue moon. So this one is for her. The blue moon only happens every once and awhile. The moon has a cycle of 28 days and a blue moon means the ending of 2 moon cycles in one month, otherwise two full moons in a month. This year it happened on new year's eve. All kinds of celebrations happen on the blue moon.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

mark making and tactile quality

So call me a wimp. 45 mile an hour winds were making my little Honda Fit dance over the road. The winds rocked the car when I parked. That's when I decided to paint "en plein car."
On my way to the location I thought about the marks a pastelist makes are like the brushmarks  of an oil painter. They make the tactile quality of an otherwise flat medium. They are my voice. I will restrain them less. Allow them to dance more and celebrate the medium I love.

Two posts today. Check the one below this as well. I couldn't resist blogging about the Sargent show.

John Singer Sargent

I will post twice today because I couldn't resist talking about this show. Yesterday I went downtown to savor the Sargent show at the Corcoran Gallery of Art for one last time before it leaves for Houston. Check out this link  to see a little video of the show. You could see these paintings and sketches again and again and it will still blow you away.
Sargent sketched incessantly. Lucky for us this show is filled with pages of his sketchbooks. Drawings, watercolors, oils sketches and full finished oils are all there.  I felt as if I was looking inside his brain at his thinking process. Sketching to him was about curiosity and discovery. Some people think of Sargent only as a portrait painter of the elite (yes he did that, think  Madame X). But John Singer Sargent was much more than that. He felt painting deep through his bones. His hand was one of the most powerful ever. I would put his brushwork alongside the other greats like Turner and Titian. His work ethic is admirable as he worked constantly. In brief, Sargent was an amazing artist.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

hints of the diva in gold and silver

10x12 pastel on BFK
This morning as I drove to the lake I was obsessing over the use of  chaotic marks in warm and cool colors, layered. I could see it all. Then I saw the lake-wow!!!!!! The thinking was over when the first pastel hit the paper. It was really one of those intuitive paintings.  The pastel was my master. (sound familiar PB?) Pure joy.
I really like this one. It may not be my best painting but it's a ...ummmm let me say, a stretched epiphany.

PS I reposted the photo... it was blurry..oops. 

up close for PB

Friday, January 1, 2010

influences and a piece of advice

5x12 pastel on BFK  and its grisaille

Hans Hoffman was one of Wolf Kahn's teachers. The exploration of color was the main focus of their work(from my understanding.) It is mine as well. For me it's about simultaneous contrast, how relationships of colors next to each other effect the two colors and the whole. Hoffman talked about using color, not to copy nature, but to construct a relationship; in effect creating luminousity. Rothko did it magnificently. So did Kahn. Richard McKinley, master of simultaneous contrast, preaches it and I listen. I think that it's sinking in....finally! My advice for the new year (rather than resolutions) is for me and anyone that wants to listen. If the painting isn't working look around, it's probably not the part you are looking at.  What's next to it?

Have a wonderful, fruitful, healthy new year!
Hugs, Loriann

P.S. THANK you Richard!