Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

The Sounding Joy

The Sounding Joy is the last angel in the series and my last post in 2008. I would begin working on these at the start of the holidays because that time of year wasn't hectic enough. The cards were numbered according to the date they were submitted to the printers. This one was submitted on 21 December 1999. They still had to be written in and mailed after that, and back then, we were sending out over 200 cards for Christmas. My life is more sane now, she confided with aplomb. When I found out people were collecting and framing our annual cards, I made these so that they would go together. The angels, if they are placed side-by-side in chronological order, are faced as though over the manger. They are color-coordinated and the clouds line up in a continuous line. I'll post the 3 together and wish you a most blessed Christmas. I will be with my family for the next week, celebrating with sounding joy. God bless you in the new year.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Praise of the Bow

This was my Christmas offering in 1998. I ended up painting 3 musical angels which were all made into cards. Music and art go together as soul-expressions, so joining them figuratively to commemorate the birth of Christ seems appropriate. I especially love stained glass as the symbolic medium: light (God) passing beautifully through multicolored glass (us) to bless the world with its loveliness. That's the soul that is doing what its creator designed it to do, and it is a thing of beauty. I chose watercolor because, like glass, it's transparent and the light passes through it to the white paper and reflects the color back. So much to say, so little space...

Joyful and Triumphant

It is now Christmas week and I hope yours is joyful and triumphant. This is a watercolor painting that I made for Christmas in 1997. It took forever to paint all the little pieces of stained glass. This angel is blowing a shofar, a horn sounded by the Hebrews to announce important events; in this case, the birth of Christ Jesus. As I was painting it, my husband came in to see. I asked him, "What do you think?" He responded, "Shofar, sho good!"

Friday, December 19, 2008

Arrangement with Flow Blue

My friend Judy Crowe set this up for us to paint using her lovely Flow Blue sugar bowl. We were in her studio with the arrangement just in front and to the right of a big window. There were 2 orange slices but I painted one of them out: too many players on the field. My favorite player was the little carnation that connects the orange slice to the fruit hiding behind the bowl. That one had the most opportunity to show off the light effects.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Portrait Progress

Many, many hours; still so far to go! But here is my progress thus far. She is moving from meek and mild to wild child, don't you think? It's the hair. When I first met her, she was sitting with a window behind her and her hair was aglow around her head, like a golden aura or halo. I wanted to have some of that here, even though the light is from the side. I've had to start on the necklace because the hair's in front of it. I was trying to finish the face in one day so I started early and worked feverishly till 4 a.m. I got to a good stopping place but it's not finished. Now I work somewhere else while this face dries enough to come back to it.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Boat Yard

I am blessed with such a great group of painter friends, whom I call my Painter Peeps. One of them has a house on Lake Livingston and when he has us up, we paint all morning while his beautiful bride makes us a wonderful feast. We come in at lunchtime and scarf it up, then set out for an afternoon painting. This is my afternoon painting. There were many boats in the marina right next to us but these little boats seemed like kids in time out. We happened to get there right as they were peeking out from under the canopy of trees and they asked us to paint them. A few of us obliged.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


This is our model from yesterday. I named her Rose but I don't think that's what her mother named her. I forgot to ask her name; she seems like a Rose to me. And you know, a rose by any other name... In the cruel digital photo, she looks much more haggard than she does on the canvas. My concept for Rose was "light." I wanted to depict the light washing over just her hair and the small part of the face that it happened to catch, but show the ambient light still bouncing around, as ambient light is so wont to do. Also, I created the image without a single drawing line. I'm getting better at that and I'm liking the speed of it.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Patricia's Pitcher

This still life set up was a group effort and the items belong to painter Pat Meyer. We had just finished watching Qiang Huang do a magical demo and were totally psyched to paint our own magic. The real set up had some sort of branch in the little bottle. I hadn't quite finished when it was time to pack it in so I brought the painting back to my own studio and faked a set up with a peacock feather there instead. That will just be our little secret.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Water Lilies

There's an arboretum a little south of where I live that has something going (growing) all year long. If you can't find just the right tree or bloom, there's always the water! I painted this with my friend and painter pal, Judy Crowe. She has a wonderful blog that you can view just by clicking on my link list. When I paint water lilies, I feel very calm and contemplative on the surface, but underneath I have a nervousness, hurrying to catch certain fleeting effects right after I see them. There were koi under the lilies that would have been a good illustration of this but they wouldn't hold still. I'll show you those in another painting.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Paperwhite #1

I was given a gift from the woman whose portrait was posted yesterday. It's a bloembox of Paperwhites that she wants me to have in my studio over the holidays. I am very excited about getting them growing but I thought I should share them with you as they do. As time permits, I will paint small dailies of these flowers as they bloom. I have them in front of a northwest window in the studio and I will only paint them in the light of the given day. It snowed yesterday and our light was very different from what we're used to! I originally had an angel in the foreground but it was taking too much time; the whole thing took much longer than it should have. I would like to play and play with the folds of the drape, which were quite intricate compared to my version. My lesson right now is: learn to abbreviate.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Portrait in Progress

Letting someone see your work in progress... it's not for sissies. It's like letting someone see your closet. I'm posting it because this is a blog about my work and this portrait is my consuming work right now. It was commissioned in September, right before Ike hit us and right before I went on a painting trip to Wyoming, so I didn't start it till October. I did 3 small paintings in preparation: 2 were done in one long day with the model posing and 1 was done from reference photos to nail the composition. This one is 60x42" and while it is covered with paint, everything you see will be painted over almost entirely; her face has just a very thin layer of paint and her hair has much canvas showing. I love painting directly but when there's so much canvas, it's not practical to expect the paint to stay juicy. For this reason, I paint wet in wet, one section at a time. When it's dry, I'll apply retouch varnish and do the same thing again. I really can't wait to get back to the face. This woman is so pretty and happy, but at this stage she looks a mere melancholy shadow of her true self. I'll keep you posted on my progress.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


This is my sketch of the model who sat for us yesterday. I thought of a dozen titles but in the end, I thought they would influence the impression too much so I just called it by her name. No one else in our group included her tattoo in their sketch and I almost left it out as well, but then I decided: it is something that she wants to show so, it is a part of her image. She wore her hat so pushed back as to be almost off her head; one painter commented that it was hard to keep it from looking like a halo. I really liked the idea of that: a dark halo. I played it up a tad by making the cut-outs look a little like stained glass. The tattoo, in the shadow of her hand, was a pentagram and said, "I love Satan." The symbolism is irresistible. I'd be interested in your ideas on including tattoos and also your suggestions on titles for this painting.

Monday, December 8, 2008


Today, I painted with some old friends who paint together every Monday. Among them is Sherwin, who was a student of Bill Mosby's at the same time that Richard Schmid was. A summer ago, Sherwin and I painted each other painting each other; this is him with my effort. You can see it up-close on my website. I used a very limited palette and tried to capture his likeness without using any drawing lines. That is not easy for a linear thinker. It was a fun day but there was no air conditioner in the studio so it was very, very hot work.
I have heard from many of you via email that you are unable to leave comments here; we're working to find out why. Thank you for writing anyway, and for your enthusiasm! My plan is to post a blog every weekday so that we can stay connected. Some days it looks like I miss a day but that's just because the clock doesn't understand that it's still the same day, even if it's after midnight.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Lemon and Grapes

My chief inspiration to begin blogging was Qiang Huang, a marvelous painter from China/Austin. He's a doctor of physics and able to communicate great thoughts regarding light and painting, using English, his second language. He paints still lifes after he gets home from work every day: super work ethic! I saw him demonstrate the way he paints, and went home that night and painted this, just like Qiang! I still need to tidy up the shadow area of the grapes, but I did this much in one sitting, which is a challenge for me. Please go visit Qiang Huang's Blog; spend some time and be amazed. He will do a demo for you, too, if you watch his YouTube clip. He's encouraged me to be bolder in this cyber-age and not to stay holed-up in my studio. I encourage you, in turn~

Friday, December 5, 2008

Parrot Tulips

100% of you mentioned the lack of art in my debut post, so I thought I'd show you Parrot Tulips and tell you something about it. This painting is on a museum tour till December '09 and was done to illustrate the Susan K. Black Foundation (go to SKBF's website and click on Blossom Exhibition). Kathleen was a wonderful floral and wildlife painter; the tulips represent her, unique among other tulips. The baby cup (mine) and antique saucer (my husband's) were passed down to us and will be passed down by us. They are vessels for nourishment and symbolize Legacy. The flowers, reaching over these things, are Promise for the future. The fruit is Promise Kept and holds within it the seed of the next generation while feeding this one. In the background is a floral pashmina, which represents Kathleen's husband, Jim Parkman: behind everything, out of the spotlight, unifying, harmonizing, supporting. To learn about Kathleen, this remarkable foundation and their work for the next gen, visit their website! And thanks for visiting me.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

New Blogger

Check out my website:

Thank you for visiting my brand new blog. One of my goals for 2008 was to start blogging and even though I hardly know what I'm doing, it's the eleventh hour (or 12th month), so I'm jumping in after an all-day tutorial, conducted by my very dear friend, Tracy Ference. I create art and plan to blog my work as a way to hold myself accountable and to have a dialog with people who like to talk about art. That's me, above, painting Wyoming recently with the Susan K. Black Foundation. (Photo by Ric Helstrom)