Monday, October 4, 2010

Whiskey Basin Revisited

Whiskey Basin is a wind tunnel and this day was very, very windy. We almost didn't set up it was so ridiculous, but instead of leaving, we hid in the bushes! My easel was crooked (I had to keep my head crooked) and I was sitting on the legs to keep it from sliding into the drink. My view was into the sun so I made another tunnel for my vision: visor above, glasses beneath. I haven't photographed trip's paintings yet but I do have shots of the trip itself to share. I hope you like them.  

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Back from Wyoming!

I've been gone for a little while, painting lots and lots. I've just returned from Wyoming, where I go to paint in the fall. Every year, I ride the jack-a-lope in town; it's a tradition. In years past, Jack's been sans antlers. He looks very, very proud this year so I thought I'd honor him by posting his pic for my first blog entry in several months. Next, I'll start sharing shots of the trip and works in progress on site. Please feel free to leave comments.

Welcome back!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Jacob Study

This is Jacob, our Monday model last Monday.
He is the son of one of our Monday Morning Portrait Painters (M2P2) and was sitting for us on his birthday. 
There's something funny about being a gift, on your birthday. I'm not going to look too closely; instead, I will just be thankful for the blessing of Jacob... and his mom!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Chinese Running Horse, 5x7. sold

Almost 30 years ago, my husband and I went to Hong Kong and one of the things we came home with was this little running horse. It's bronze and heavy and sits on his desk, reminding him that, above all the paperwork, there's a powerful adventure called LIFE; all you have to do is jump on a bird (barely discernible in the shadows, under his right rear hoof), and you'll be above it all!
My bird of choice: 767.

Still Life Corner

I thought you might enjoy seeing my still life set up. For these tiny paintings, I have to tape the canvas to a board to paint securely, so it ends up with tidy little borders.
I have a neat table that I can crank up or down for my set-ups, but here, I'm using that table for my palette holder so I used an end table + a box + a board to get the set-up to the height I wanted for the painting.
To lend a hint of context, I put him in a box under a spotlight and used a folded cummerbund for the background "dark."

Friday, March 12, 2010

Waiting For the Light

This is a context shot to illustrate part of the story below. Several bus loads of people came by, and in between, it was so hushed and momentous-seeming.
When they'd arrive, in a burst of noise and exhaust, they would disembark, mosey on over and commence to chat. It was like a commercial break from the Main Show. They'd pet the dog and tell me I missed a spot, talk about where they were from and then jump on the bus and ride away.
This shot was taken right before I put in the shadow of Mexico on the American canyon wall. I had to wait till it was juuuuuuust right.

Santa Elena Canyon, 10x8. sold

This is another painting from our Big Bend trip. We had seen Santa Elena Canyon before this day but always with the sun behind it. We resolved to spend a morning with it to try to capture its grandeur fully lit. The right side of the canyon is the US, the left side of the canyon is Mexico, and between them is the Rio Grande. The river was unusually high, as Mexico had just released a huge amount of water, raising the level up to 10 feet higer than normal, we were told. The color of the water was milky green and even looking right down into it, it had no discernible transparency. We were visited a lot while painting, having picked such a nice perch. The day before this, while viewing it at sunset, we shared the perch with a Disney film crew! They were doing a documentary on Big Bend. They got some fantastic shots but all of their work captured successive moments. This painting is trying to capture a morning. I hope you like it.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Split Rock

One time, while I was in the art school at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, we had an assignment: illustrate grandeur. That took some thought. The way I met my challenge was to draw soaring cathedral arches in juxtaposition with very tiny figures. It worked.
Does this work? I have no context; just this split rock. It was massive, like a minor mountain.
In order to communicate is monumental size, I think I might have put some trees or figures, for comparison.
I surrendered the story about it's ponderous mass for the subtle and tender story of the light. I love the light.
It's risky to cover a painting in mostly the same value pigment but the rock had mineral deposits or something that made rusty reds, iridescent blues, hints of greens, all in the shadow on its back. It's front was in full, late-day sun.
I felt like I was backstage watching a major actor accepting applause in the spotlight of his fame, getting to see the quiet, private, subtle part at the expense of the light-splashed, sparkly, flattened out part that everyone gets to see.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Cartero Pass

Cartero Pass is a 6x8 inch painting that was originally a 10x8. The top part of the painting virtually painted itself and was sheer joy.
The bottom half-ish was a rock river bed that shadows were quickly creeping across and I was struggling with. At a certain point, I realized that I had over-worked it and lost the freshness. In a fit of impulsive problem-solving, I hacked off the bottom half of the panel and all my problems were solved!
We found this pass near a dirt road in Big Bend. It was beautiful and hauntingly quiet. All afternoon, only 2 cars passed. Their dust is in this painting.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Contrabando Mission

Well, I've already pretty much told you about this scene in the previous post but there are some things that I haven't told you.
For instance, sometimes when you see my plein air paintings, you might see scratches and teeth marks on the ends or some odd circles in the corners. Have you ever wondered about that?
In the last post, you can see me attaching a device to the bottom of the painting. It's a clamp to hold wet paintings, and it holds them with sharp teeth, which leave marks.
The corner marks are from little sticky felt pads that I use for my panels when I travel: I stack them about 6 at a time with wax paper in between, then bind them with masking tape and stick them in a bag. They can then be carried right in my suitcase, even wet! Once they're framed, all the road scars are hidden forever and it stays just our little secret.

Monday, March 1, 2010


I have been gone for a week of fabulous plein air painting with the Outdoor Painters Society at Big Bend.
On our first day there, it was in the 80's and we set up on the Rio Grande, right outside of Lajitas in the Texas State Park.
Our subject was Contrabando, a 25 year old movie set that's been featured in 9 movies, and that was under water last year during a flood! There was a building about where we were set up that was washed away and the remaining structures were very damaged, adding to their authenticity.
The Rio Grande is just feet behind us, 6 feet higher than normal level because Mexico was releasing water. It made the river milky green and ferocious; scared my doggie!
The buildings that I chose to paint were the church and a small casa that was half buried in sand. Right behind them was an odd hill of the brightest red. The satellite view shows a red streak coming right through town, like someone painted it! We had to catch that local color by painting Terlingua red later that evening.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


You are not going to believe this.
This is not a model. Our M2P2 model didn't show up on Monday; this is one of the artists I paint with! Not bad for a last minute stand-in, huh?
I still want to add a couple of touches to this to tie it together some more. I hate to tell you what because then, that's all you'll see when you look at it. I want you to look at Catey instead!
I have been wonderfully busy with commission work, preparing for some really neat shows, and a little plein air on the side.
I didn't want you to think I was slacking just because I wasn't posting.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Chanel No 1

This is the sketch from our Monday portrait group. I did finish it on Monday but didn't photograph it till today.
This beauty works behind a cosmetics counter in a department store. Her job is to see the beauty in people and pick a strategy for capitalizing on it to their advantage. When she finishes, they are more able to see their own loveliness.
This is the job of an artist, I believe.
Chanel said that often, her clients do not feel beautiful, comparing themselves to her. She confessed that when she looks in the mirror, she doesn't always see the beauty that they see. Tall, willowy, lithe, with flaxen hair down to there... it would be easy to argue with her, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
When you have a mix of Scandinavian and American Indian blood, beauty would be almost impossible to escape, methinks.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Little Lone Ranger

This is a painting that I started more than a year ago, of a ranch where we paint in Wyoming. It's a beautiful place and on this day, the clouds were rolling over us, creating killer shadow patterns.
I quit painting on it because I was bored with it; it's 16x20, so I'd invested a lot in it but the scene wasn't enough.
Then, the other night, got the idea of putting a pathway down the mid-ground and placing a figure on it, to add a narrative element to it and a focal point.
The fellow on the path is a little cowboy in red, white and blue. He's on his way home for supper.
I'll tell you how he knew it was suppertime in another painting, coming soon to a blog near you.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Start

My plan today was to go to my Monday portrait group, stop by the post office afterward and ship some paintings, then finish this one in time to photograph and post it for you.
Alas, I didn't finish crating last night so I had to do that as soon as I finished painting this afternoon. Then, alack, the Post Office was closed today!
Long story short: paintings still not shipped, The Start still not finished.
The good news: I DID blog today!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Whiskey Basin

Just to the left of these trees was Whiskey Creek, which I've already posted, and this is one of the paintings I promised in that post.
There was not a bad view anywhere in this canyon and a lucky painter could have spent the whole week there and never been bored painting it.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Stone Maiden

The Stone Maiden is a 20x16" painting, still wet, done for a Black and White show at the Salmagundi Club in New York.
For so many years, I was a pencil artist and saw the world in terms of its values. Since becoming a painter, I have employed that knowledge but added hue and chroma. I still draw a lot but it's not often that I paint in black and white. It was a lesson in restraint. The stone statue that I was painting was white, but the color in the pits and moss shadows was so enticing, it was all I could do to keep myself from dipping my brush into the colors, just to tell you how beautiful it was!
Anyway, Black and White, by definition, restricted such indulgence.
Still, both my black and my white have colors in them.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Still Life with Winchester

Honorable Mention, Salon International 2010
This still life was orchestrated by my husband and also included a cigar box with 7 red and green shotgun shells, which (shockingly!) I could not fit into the 16x20"canvas. He set it up in our kitchen and set the easel up for me in the breakfast room. We had to squeeze around it for the duration of the painting process. By the time it was finished, the concord grapes were concord raisins, the rose petals had gone from wilty to crispy, and the squash was growing something greenish blue. The really fun thing though, was that I had to drink that wine every night while I was cleaning up.
Never waste a good glass of wine.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Fred Shed

I am so proud of this painting. It was started very late in the afternoon during the OPA paint out, really too late for a sane person to start a painting and expect to catch anything worthwhile. For that reason, I grabbed a tiny panel and a large brush, thinking about how prominently math figures into art.
I had begun to paint it a certain way while the sun was a little higher, and then deviated from the sage teaching, "Never chase the light!" because the shadows that were stretching out before me were just too irresistible.
I was the very, very last painter to finish that day, so I guess that makes me the winner!


Our Monday Model.
I am working on three things right now: brevity, color-value planes, and light. Actually, I'm always working on light; seeing it, understanding it, painting it. But as it hits an object, it bounces a certain way into the eye based on the planes of the object, the color of the object and, of course, the color of the light.
When one is working to record something like this, the mind is processing massive amounts of information but the artist has to simplify it, organize it and reproduce it in such a way as to render it recognizable using spots of color, brushed onto a piece of cloth with some hair on a stick! In that process, I think the beauty and the power are unleashed by brevity.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

OPA Paint Out

Welcome to the new year!
2009 was full of travel and adventure, the last trip being this one: the Oil Painters of America regional paint out in Fredericksburg.
This coming year, the Artist in Residence will be in residence a lot more, which should make blogging easier.
Happy New Year!