Monday, December 12, 2011


The purpose of this painting was to study the light on the model and mix the exact value, temperature and color spot, then apply it in a stroke. No blending, no "licking" (a term used to describe repeated strokes in the same area). If a color spot is wrong, it must be scraped and repainted, but the goal was to make any mistakes on the palette. By the time the brush was touching the canvas, all the guesswork should have been done.
There is such an energy between the model and the artist when this kind of work is going on. The model is working to keep the pose and the artist is working to capture the pose, so they're unified in their purpose and exerting great electric fields of concentration. The main difference in their experience, having sat in both seats myself, is that time passes very slowly for the model and unbelievably quickly for the artist. That's why the model should be the time-keeper. 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Madame G

Madame G reminds me of John Singer Sargent's Madame X.
She's one of my favorite models and I painted her all day recently, studying the non-linear approach to portrait painting.
In the top shot, you see her on the model stand in the background. In the foreground, you see my stage-2 effort to capture her. Stage-2 is the light and shadow shapes, plus the next dark and next light shapes. For the most part, the color on her cheeks and lids is the same value and temperature as the light.

Beneath that is a canvas that I used half of in the morning and half of in the afternoon. The morning work is the upsidedown image on the left, showing my first stage-1 effort. My purpose at this stage was to show only the shape of the light as it bathed her face and dark value shape surrounding that. Rightside-up-side is a shot of stage-3 from later that same day. The details were just beginning to reach expression: more value and color were added to the light shape, letting the contours of her face emerge. Had I continued, I would have next blocked in the light of her hair and then the background. I only hope that this beautiful woman would have become more and more beautiful on the linen, that I might return the honor of her posing. Thanks for your visit. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Go Figure

I promised you I'd cover the Clayton Beck workshop and all I learned there. This was my favorite: paint small, quick studies working up from the darkest light and the lightest dark on the model. It required the most strict concentration and restraint on my part but it forced my brain to actually understand some things that it only thought it understood until now. These flanking paintings were the most successful, in my opinion. The more detail I added in these paintings, the weaker they got and the less I liked them. Food for thought.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Longpool Window

I did 2 paintings at Longpool in Arkansas; this is the afternoon painting. The morning painting was weaker and my excuse is that I was suffering from motion sickness after the windy backseat ride to this primo spot. This was my "window of well," as the trip back was worse and that evening was the only time that I didn't go out on the town with my peeps after painting :-(  But that was the night that I got to paint the cooling tower so it was not a total loss. This 8x10 was done in the shade on top of a cliff, looking through an opening to the longpool below. I was mostly in love with the sinewy arm of the tree trunk, twining down to the determined fingers of the roots that grabbed and clung to the side of the cliff. It reminded me of a strong old man.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Arkansas Nuclear One By Night

I have a hat. It's a ballcap that has flashlights in the bill. I'm not trying to make you jealous but there are 3 of them: click once and 2 crossbeams light up and point at your palette; click twice and a super beam points straight out in front of you, at your canvas; three times and all 3 are lit and you look like a real goober :-) I found out that the front beam is too bright to use for painting in the dark, it wrecks your night vision. Also, you need to really know your palette and what your colors will do when you mix them because the eye (at least my eye) is not very color-discerning in the dark. It's kind of funny, when you think of the subject matter, that only the rods are working. Get it? It's funny on a subatomic level. This painting is also very small: 5x7. With it, I've tried to show the beauty of that cooling tower at night.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Arkansas Nuclear One by Day

On our painting trip, we camped in the state park on Lake Dardanelle, directly across from the only nuclear power plant in the state. This is the view of the cooling tower from our site. It was endlessly fascinating to watch: sometimes the plume was small and acted like the vapor that pours from dry ice; sometimes it was a beautiful thick column of white that drifted to a graceful end at the top; other times it seemed to make its own clouds. It sort of reminded me of a vase that was filled with different flowers and every time I looked at it, I wanted to paint it. I got 2 very small (5x7) paintings done and a larger painting started, this being one of the small works.
The reflection of the plume was so clear in the foreground water but the more distant water was blown by the wind and did not offer the same clarity. I debated whether to show it as a constant reflection but elected to depict it as it actually was that day. I'll post the other one next~ thanks for visiting!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Pontoon Pier

I painted this in Arkansas one afternoon, standing on the shores of Lake Dardanelle. For awhile, two of my favorite peeps were with me but they finished up and took off. Soon after that, a group of people arrived, consisting of two couples and someones mom. They sashayed past the "No Fishing From Pier" sign with their fishing gear and proceeded to fish off the pier, right across from Arkansas Nuclear One cooling tower. I tell you, it made a great poster. Their colorful lawn chairs and the big red "no fishing" sign would have made a very nice painting. I hope you'll accept this painting as a suitable substitute, since it was nearing completion when the new painting arrived.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Rainy Petit Jean

One of our paint days in Arkansas was rainy. We were caravanning up to Petit Jean State Park, hoping for clearing, but twas not to be.
Protection was found in a great pavilion that had a rope across the entrance; very easy to step over. We set up our gear and had been painting for about 30-40 minutes when a park ranger happened by to see if we'd paid to be there. Not really good public relations. I won't tell you about how they charged us $50 for an hour and a half (by-the-half-day). I'll focus on the positive: it was truly beautiful, in a moody, meditative way. I tried to depict the feeling of the many trees, the changing season, and the water down below, without getting too busy with the forty-two billion leaves. I stood in the doorway of the building, listening to the rain on one side and the people I love talking on the other, my dog by my feet and a brush in my hand. It does not get much better than this.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Piney Point, Lake Dardanelle

I'm back from New York and ready to get to work, starting with this blog!
As far as I know, this piney point has no name, so I'm giving it one for free.
The painting is from our trip to Arkansas. Our vantage point was the headquarters of Dardanelle State Park; this is my morning painting. I was with 3 of my favorite people, 2 of whom painted nearly identical paintings from slightly different perspectives, and we weren't even cheating! The captivating thing for me was the way the early sun was lighting the sides of the trees on the point and the fall colors on the distant shore, while the actual point still rested in the shadows.   

Monday, October 24, 2011

Sol Mates, 8x10. sold

Oh my dears, what a fantastic time I have been having. I spent a week painting in San Antonio with the fabulous Kathryn Stats, turned right around and went to Arkansas on a campout/paintout trip with some of my favorite peeps.
This was the very first painting that I did, as the sun was setting on our first day, of some boats at the marina across from our campground on Lake Dardanelle. It sold to another painter and very dear friend who was also there for the week.
I surely would have spent another couple of hours playing with this but here's my new MO: quit while you're ahead. *sold     

Thursday, September 29, 2011


I'm leaving for San Antonio for a week to paint once more with landscape painter, Kathryn Stats. My focus for the rest of the year will be toward the outdoors but I still have a lot of figure work to share with you. I chose Anita to be the perfect bookmark till I get back; she just looks like San Antonio to me. 
My intent with this study was to paint in a fairly high key and yet still show that the light was cool and bright, leaving distinct warm shadows.
I was nearly done with the painting when I left the portrait group so I finished up when I got back to my studio, with no model. Because of that, I quit thinking "Anita" and just focused on my goals for the painting. I do like the look that ended up in her eye; I think she's remembering the Alamo. I just saw Pee Wee's Big Adventure, so now I know there's no basement at the Alamo. To be honest, I don't know if I'll even have time to visit the Alamo while I'm gone, so I might have to just remember it my own self! See you soon :-)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Pretty in Pink

This is Chelsea, the same Chelsea from a couple of posts ago. She has naturally curly hair that also looks very natural straight, so when she came to the studio one day with curly hair, I was taken aback for a moment! I very much love the curls.
This may look like all my other studies but the approach is so different that the whole thing feels different to me.
I spent a week painting with Clayton Beck and he really pushed me to see the darkest lights and the lightest darks in my subject. That's what I was concentrating on while painting Chelsea.
They should hook an artist up to a brain machine while he's working and look at the activity. Choosing and mixing paint, listening and talking, seeing really hard and translating very quickly... it's a 3-ring circus between my ears when I'm working!
There's more to come, I've been learning a lot. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Grand National Exhibition 2011

James' Game of Risk has been selected for the Grand National Exhibition in New York City, sponsored by the American Artists Professional League. This organization has existed since the 1920's and was founded "to advance the cause of the fine arts in America through the promotion of high standards of beauty, integrity and craftsmanship in painting, sculpture and the graphic arts (and) to emphasize the importance of order and coherent communication as prime requisites of works of art through exhibitions and publications."
The exhibition opens in November.
I'm so thankful to organizations like this who have kept representational art alive long enough to see a real revival. There are a few who have held the torch all by themselves for a long time. I wish I'd known them all along but I'm glad that I know them now. Thanks for visiting :-)


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Chelsea Study

Chelsea and I worked very hard our first day together.  We had many plans but our plans were altered when the studio was invaded by college men who evidently are very interested in the creation of art. There can be no other explanation for their hovering and hanging around.
The canvas is 20x16 and the image is larger than life. I did not intend to make the face so large but I think that my subconscious wanted to study this lovely face. Sargent says to begin the head smaller than life since the tendency is to enlarge it as you work. I think this is an interesting psychological phenomenon.
I met Chelsea recently at an art show and was simply struck by her enchanting eyes. I feel fortunate that she is available to model and I hope that I will be able to do her beauty justice as I become more familiar with her lines.
Well anyway, I appreciate your stopping by to visit :-)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Blue Tutu

I haven't been posting much because I've been working on larger paintings and have been very focused on that~ I hope you'll forgive me.
I'm in 4 groups that meet together to paint the figure: Mondays and Fridays are 3-hour poses, Tuesdays are ballerinas, Saturdays are nudes. I am also in a group with my friends who plein air paint when possible. These groups generate lots of sketches and a few finished paintings.
This is one sketch, from last Tuesday, that I brought back and finished. The model was in front of a white wall but when I got to my studio, I hung a paisley pillowcase on the wall with thumbtacks and loosely used it's pattern for my background. My studio light and our group's light are exactly the same so it was an easy insertion. The model actually held multiple short poses and this "long pose" I believe was only 60 minutes long. She was quite lovely and I think she inspired everyone there. Thanks for visiting! 

Friday, May 20, 2011

Fine Art Connoisseur Magazine

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Greenhouse Gallery

Here's another very cool thing that I discovered by accident: out of the 415 paintings juried into the show, they picked 3 to represent it on the banner for Greenhouse Gallery's homepage. I had to access the site to verify the price of one of my paintings and when it opened, VOILA! there was James!
It was a moment when, I was so surprised and thrilled that I just spontaneously yelled, "HEY!" to no one, and only scared the dog and the bird. But HEY! I still showed them! I don't know if it will stay up but so far, it's been the only banner, and it's been up since February.
I know I have some show week to go but it's going to be really, really hard to top what's already happened.
Thank you for stopping by and hopefully sharing my joy. You can view the whole show on line by clicking here:  but if you find yourself anywhere near Greenhouse Gallery in San Antonio, it's much, much better to see it in real life. They did a fantastic job of hanging and lighting all those very different paintings. It's a delight to walk from room to room and see what's coming in from all over the world (15 countries represented) in representational art. I'm so proud of us!  

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

American Art Collector

The current issue of American Art Collector magazine features an article about the Salon International at Greenhouse Gallery, including a quarter page image of the other portrait that was in the Salon: Rainy (top right). I can't tell you how cool something like this is.
I wanted to buy a magazine ad but just couldn't $wing it, if you know what I mean. Then, a couple weeks ago, a friend texted me and said, "Congratulations for being in American Art Collector!" and I said, "I'm not in American Art Collector." She said, "Yes, you are!" so I had to run out to the mailbox to get my copy and VOILA! Rainy was on page 123! I hope you can read the column. There were a couple more pages so if you want to read more, you'll just have to buy a copy!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Salon International 2011

This is the best start of Show Week EVER! On the left, Daniel Greene, the KING of portraits is holding my painting of James and saying something that I didn't hear because of the rush of something in my ears. He liked the Rainy painting as much as James but said that he couldn't give more than one award to any artist, so he gave the Merit Award for Portrait to James. Then, in the photo on the right, he said something right to my face but I don't remember what it was. 
The reason that this means so very much to me, winning an award for a portrait from Mr Greene, is that I first learned how to pose and light and drape a model from watching his instructional VHS tapes back in the 90's. He was my teacher without ever knowing it!
And further, as I've developed, I've moved away from the more tight and linear style that he practices and prefers, so I was pretty sure he was not going to like what I brought. I am so happy and so honored that this great man looked at, touched and then awarded my work. Thank you for visiting the blog of the most grateful artist on earth!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Untitled Nude III

Here's the last of my NanoNudes.
This one was accepted into the 6" Squared show in California and is presently being framed for that show. If you want to see the show when it starts, I'll attach a link on my blog for it. It is Show Week, after all!
Tomorrow is the awards banquet for the Salon International; Saturday's the opening. It will be judged by the respected Daniel Greene, whom I've been studying since I started. Just having my work scrutinized by him is an honor, I have to tell you. There are only a few "Bigs" in our generation and he is one of them. Last year's show was judged by Everett Raymond Kinstler, another "Big." 
Boy is my life blessed! Thank you for visiting my blog~ see you next week~ wish me luck! 

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Untitled Nude II

Regina the Reject. She even looks a little miffed! I need some critiquing on this one. I don't have any answers but I think I do see two areas of weakness in this shot of the painting: along her back it looks like her body has a force field around it; and where her leg meets the foreground, I think it could be a stronger transition. Those would be pretty easy fixes. Maybe there's more I could do.
There's something about digital photography that just brings out the worst in a painting~ or at least my digital photography! It's like all the nuances are gone. On all these figures, there is the most subtle play of temperatures and hues in the skin but from here it just looks all one color: paste white.
On the other hand, digital photos would be good for seeing the flaws in a painting before it's posted. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Untitled Nude I

I entered three paintings in the Randy Higbee "Six Inch Squared" show in California. They all go together but only two of them made the cut; one was rejected. They had 1200 entries but only accepted 400 so I guess there are a lot of artists out there right now feeling my pain.
These 6x6 inch paintings are a real challenge! This little figure is less than 4 inches tall. Faces and toes are a chore to not over-work. I really love to look at the mere suggestion of a face but I haven't been able to pull that off yet; I cannot leave it alone until I see something real. I think that if I do enough of these, the sheer volume will force me to simplify. And hopefully make shorter work of them! Anyway, I hope you like getting back to comfy canvas after so many days on perilous paper!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tired Lady

Look how tired she is. She's been waiting all this time. This lady is the last of the lasses on paper, but the figure theme will continue till the end of the week, as we transition into Show Week, aka: the Week I Lived to See. There was some question about whether or not I'd be here for it, after pulling several all-nighters (a feat for springy-er spring chickens than myself) :-). But I got paintings for 3 shows delivered in 3 days, I slept 12 hours last night and still had a nice 2 hour nap a little earlier today when I logged in to blog. Sleeping sitting up is another activity that isn't for older people. Which again brings me to our lounging lass...

Monday, March 28, 2011

Brush with Disaster

Hahaha, the disaster is only on paper, though.
I've never actually received complaints on my blog before this but I've had more than one request to drop the nudes on paper posts and resume the comfy canvas collection. But the whole point of a blog is to record, like a diary, passages and growth as it happens, right? Isn't "blog" a "web log"? And I know from being in the military, you have to put the good, the bad, AND THE UGLY in the log!
So, courageously, I present yet another nude on vellum. It's small and I don't care, I like it. It's really, really hard to do and to have it turn out looking like the person is an accomplishment that I am not ashamed of.
And there are only a couple more to go now because this is Show Week. I have been pulling all-nighters and varnishing and framing and I drove to San Antonio and back yesterday to deliver the first paintings to one of 3 shows that are due within a 3 day period. Tomorrow, I'll be shipping 2 paintings to California and delivering my own and another artist's paintings to our show in downtown Houston. If you're in the area, shoot me an email and I'll let you know about the show dates and the evening reception; I want to see you there!

Friday, March 25, 2011


Very often, I make up names for my paintings and this is such a time. I named this one "Jasmine" because it looks like maybe she's in midair on a magic carpet or cushion. Jasmine is the name of Aladdin's girlfriend and I think they might make a very nice couple.

This is another painting done on vellum and as you can see, I don't really know how to work it yet; she looks like a cut-out. My normal plunge into a painting involves dousing the canvas with paint to get started, but on this paper I can't do what I normally do.  
I've got a couple more paintings on paper that I'll show you before I start really experimenting with this.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Another Nude

Uh oh, she messed up and posted the same thing two days in a row! 
No, here's the story: It was a long pose. I was painting on paper (vellum). I finished the one I posted yesterday and there was no time nor room in the studio for me to move to another vantage point so I painted another, slightly different painting. Same day, same model, same pose, same colors, different angle and crop. I know, my creativity is making your socks roll up and down.
My goals this day were simple: see whether I could even paint on vellum and see if I could do a convincing figure using only 4 colors. That's all. The colors I was using were all I used for 6 or 8 months after I painted with Scott Burdick: Ultramarine Blue deep,  Transparent Oxide Brown, Cadmium Red and Cadmium Yellow pale. He uses Transparent Oxide Red but I find the brown to be more neutral and a bit cooler, which I want because it gives me greater control of temperature. He also uses a full pallete but did a demo in 4 and gave me a mental challenge. 
The big deal with using the vellum was this: one stroke, that's all she wrote. There was absolutely no mercy. It was super absorbent and there was no "lifting" or moving, so it required care.
You may be wondering what the dots are for. Well, this being a sketch and my studio being small, I had thoughtlessly left this sitting very close to my easel and those are splash marks. I saw it when it happened and tried to get them off right away, but it was still vellum. It was still without mercy.
I hope you like this odd angel of Patricia and I do thank you for stopping by and for anything you have to say.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Nervous Nude

This is the very same model as yesterday and she's wonderful; one of my favorites! And it's not she who is nervous, it's the artist.
I'm not nervous about seeing or painting the nude, but I am a little nervous about posting. Most of my artistic social networking takes place in real life and on FaceBook. The latter is very ticklish about the nude and will summarily delete your whole account if you post something that "they" deem "inappropriate." I know that it's different in the bloggasphere but I have residual perspiration from a recent occurrence on FaceBook.
However, this and next week are Figure Weeks so, if you are not too offended, I shall proceed.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Saturday is figure lab for me: a group of artists meets in a studio/metal warehouse to paint the figure in the lovely north light. Not too long ago, there were just a handful of us who faithfully showed up, but now there are so many artists, it's hard to find a good vantage point from which to paint!
The morning of this painting, it was absolutely freezing cold; the poor model had space heaters all around her, at one point scorching her leg.
Meanwhile, the artists, with coats and gloves, were frozen solid. We had worked from short poses in the round but when it came time for the long pose, we put the model in a comfortable chair, forcing half of the room to come around to the other side in order to see. As a result, there were a few of us who were pushed back into a corner that was quite dark. Looking at the lit model, then at my dark canvas was a challenge for my eyes. I mixed my colors in a large part from knowledge, not visual color. I was very surprised to see it when I came into the light. I sorta liked it! I hope you like it too.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Anderson's Troupe

This painting is named after the person who took the photograph of the ballerinas, master painter Carolyn Anderson, with whom I've studied. 
Sometimes painters can get backstage or into the chef's kitchen, but they cannot actually set up their easel and paint a whole painting.  In these cases, sketches, notes and photos are invaluable.  I never actually saw these dancers, but I practiced ballet intermittently from age 4 to age 21 and I do remember this room and how it sounds and smells.  The reference photo was small but it was good enough to read into it and pull out this painting.
I think that with the arts, the more you explain, the less impact the object of explanation has to another person. Part of their experience must be independent of the explanation. This is one of the things that separates ART from other things. It's a dialogue. I was nervous about working from the small photo and about leaving things undone. I think it works okay though. I need you to dialogue it into a work of art. Thanks.  

Friday, March 18, 2011

Hey Cupcake!

Hey Cupcake! I thought I'd finish off the week by sharing a little 6x6 of the coolest little cupcake vendor in Austin. Actually, the airstream is much bigger than this one but I couldn't fit it on a 6x6 so I had to chop it down to size.
To the left of the trailer was a guy playing guitar and singing, and his beautiful little two year old girl was merrily dancing around the big pickle jar that was collecting tips from passers-by. I was there with my friend Annie and the whole memory is as sweet as a cupcake in my mind, and so it must be spread, like icing on a cupcake!
I keep doing one more thing to this painting and as I look now, I do think it needs at least two more things. Or do you think enough's enough?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Spring Break at Mercer

Ahhh, spring break, and as duty-bound as I am to the studio trying to get ready for the shows in April (you're invited!), I could not resist Mercer Arboretum on spring break. It's only partly the painting, if I might confess. It's also a good chunk of joy just being with my painter peeps. There's something transcendent about being in a place of such beauty with people who not only see it but who try to understand it, and who try to share it in your same language.
I guess no matter what you do, you'll like being with people who share your passion, but artists are largely social creatures whose job requires long stretches of solitude and isolation. Just like knowing that this first burst of spring is going to pass quickly, I treasure time with these people all the more, knowing that it's going to pass fast too.
This is a mid-morning shot of the one lily in the entrance fountain (the painting did get better). I did another lily painting in the afternoon of the only other lily, at a different pond farther into the gardens. Happy spring to you! 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Baby Dread

This threatening-looking, tough young man was disarmingly kind and funny.  An artist himself, he posed for us in open studio and during the breaks, he would offer encouraging critiques to the artists.  He looked to be in his 20's but was in fact, still a teen.  He had only just gotten the dread locks and was anticipating how they would grow out.  The title is a reflection on both his own persona, and on the hair style. 
In painting him, I tried to limit my hues to blue and brown, making all the highs and lows some value of those two colors.  I wanted to post this near the other dread head posts from a few days ago. 

Thank you for stopping by and visiting my blog.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tammy O'Shanter

Tammy O'Shanter, so named for the hat the model's wearing~ but you know that. She's the same model from yesterday's post. This is one of my favorite studies ever, perhaps because it was so hard to capture. Sometimes it's easy, sometimes it's a real struggle. I'm including a picture of the work in progress so you can see for yourself how far from whence I came.
I'll tell you what happened. I was with Carolyn Anderson and she saw my block-in and said, "Oh you're going to have a heck of a time with that brown!" Well, just between you and me, I block in with brown most of the time. I like it. So I said, "What would you have used?" and she said, "Violet." I never want to disregard anything that a master would suggest, so I started violeting up the block-in. This was the process by which I learned that you can't use two color theory strategies at the same time and come out with anything lovely. However, I did really like the violet with the orange. It was just an all out fight to get all the colors to get along on one canvas.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Eighty-Five Degrees

This is a Houston model who was sitting under a very bright light almost ninety degrees overhead, minus about five degrees. Since the painting was only about that light, I thought I maybe should call it by the light number, like "3400 Kelvin."  I kind of like that. But I went with it's direction instead.
I was painting with Sue Lyon and Scott Burdick when I did this and minutes before I got to this point, Sue said, "Oh you should stop!" I said I wanted to do a couple more things and was just doing them when Scott came by and put his hand on my shoulder and said, "Stop." So I did. It was two against one.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Essence of Isaiah

Sometimes, when you are just in the familiarization stage of a painting, its strength tells you to stop.  It seems too soon; all the rest of you wants to keep painting and painting until it's just a weak sister of the original image, but sometimes a person can be stopped from ruining a good start. In this case, it was Clayton Beck who stopped me, and I trust his judgment over mine.
This is Isaiah, the same model from yesterday's posted painting. Both paintings were done on the same day, same lighting, clothing, background; only his position had changed.
His disposition remained very pleasant.
Tell me if you can think of a better title than this or if you like it as it is. 
Thanks and have a great weekend! 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Dreaded Isaiah

Isaiah is a student of music and a bagger at the grocery store. Like most artists these days, he has to support his passion with a day job. A little modeling on the side can't hurt too much either.
Painting this portrait of Isaiah was a study in restraint.  The temptation to paint his beautiful features and his fascinating dreadlocks was almost irresistible.  However, I resisted.  What I wanted to do in this painting was to tell of Isaiah as much as I could with as little actual information as possible.  For example, almost all of his face is just the toned canvas with very little paint at all.  The scantily described dreadlocks possess only two color-values.  I am amazed at how bright our brains are to fill in information, but the same brains feel compelled to over-describe details!  The older I get, the more I appreciate brevity.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Peach, Preserves and Promises

This was a huge birthday bouquet that I started painting a year and a half ago. I blocked in the whole thing and had completed the peach and the preserves when some things happened that made me stop work. Now I'm back to finish things. 
The title reflects two levels of meaning:
On the more superficial level, I recorded the two dead flowers to symbolize broken promises and the death of earth-bound things. The flower nearest the light is still open, symbolizing truth and love, which do survive the real relationships.
On a deeper level, the peach represents life and the preserves represent death (the sweet by-and-by); the flowers reflect the same sentiment.
I love fruit and I love flowers but they come into my home already cut from life. It could be depressing but in real life, that is life! Made more beautiful by the knowledge that, as we know it, it's got an expiration date. So live your life with joy! Fill it with truth and love and with those who truly love you!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Double Joy Forever

A little antique Chinese porcelain box was once given to my father-in-law as a gift from a grateful patient. It was called a 17th century paint pot but my searching has only turned up "box," not paint pot. It has a sachet inside, filled with potpourri and tied with white ribbon. The old wooden box, the red ribbon, the white box with the sachet, all of these things are symbolic and very meaningful to me spiritually and they are telling a story.
I worry that I'll turn into The Sermonator, so I'll just let you find your own meaning in the painting.
I'll tell you this though: there are two words on the top of the box, side by side, that spell "Joy" (shuang) and that they're double (xi) means "Double Joy" (shuangxi) and it usually refers to wedded bliss. The vines are sweet pea and are symbols of eternity. And you know what red, white and blue stand for! Thanks so much for visiting this blog; I wish you double joy forever! 

Monday, March 7, 2011

Peter's Fish

Since 1994, I've been reading through the Bible every year, so every year I read the incredible story of Peter's fish and the coin. There is a fish called "Peter's Fish," that is by tradition a tilapia, although which of the hundreds of tilapia varieties it may have been is a guess. Our own Gulf Red Snapper bears a remarkable resemblance to some of them and, luckily for me, was in the local market when this painting was conceived.
I wanted to do a painting like this because I am so moved by the Biblical story. Here's an excerpt from Matthew 17, so you can see it: When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax went up to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the tax?”  He said, “Yes.” And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tax? From their sons or from others?” And when he said, “From others,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free. However, not to give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook and take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth you will find a shekel.  Take that and give it to them for me and for yourself.”
Here's what hits me: Jesus told his disciples that he would make them "fishers of men" and the fish became the symbol of the first church. Peter often got himself in trouble by speaking too quickly, as he did here, but later he would become the spokesman for the first church. The shekel was 4 drachmas, to pay for both Jesus and Peter. Jesus, who did not have to pay, being the Son, still paid. And he paid for Peter. This is a picture of the Gospel. Peter, the first one who would publicly speak the Christian message, draws the payment, miraculously provided by God, from the mouth of the symbol of the church, which is the Body of Christ.
This painting is going to be in a show at Christ Church Cathedral in Houston. It looks better in person so come to the show with me!   

Friday, March 4, 2011

Something Fishy

A work in progress going on in our kitchen. Oh the price we have to pay to make art!!! I had to light a candle to lend an aromatic counterpoint to the ever-blooming stench coming from my pal, Snappy.
The things around the cutting board are mostly articles used to catch, gut, and eat a fish, and a brass fisherman stands watch from the windowsill.
I got the fish fresh from the market and began working on the painting immediately. At the end of each session, I'd carefully wrap him and tuck him into the refrigerator. You know that saying that two days is the limit for houseguests and fish in your home? That speeds up considerably when the fish is raw and room-temperature.
Once I got the candle idea, I really thought it improved the situation. Then I went into the other room to tell my husband something and he let me know that the Essence of Snappy was very much on me, and I guess had almost killed my sense of smell! 
Anyway, this is a significant scene and I'll tell you more about it when I post the finished piece.  Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Hamlet and the Remains of the Day

Thanksgiving was over and all that was left of the spiral-cut ham was the bone and the memory.  I thought I'd do a portrait of the remains after I was done with the dishes.  My family didn't understand.  To them, it was a piece of garbage.  To my dog, it was a mouthwatering temptation.  To me, it was a sculpture, a monument, a work of art! 
My hands were washing dishes but my mind was combining cadmium red and terra rosa, with maybe a drop of mauve blue shade... 
Over the days that it took to paint, the countenance of the ham bone changed; it seemed to get thinner and darker.  Hamlet, on the other hand, maintained the exact same expression during the vigil, never even blinking.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Eve's Decision

 Eve's decision was whether to eat the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, or obey God and get to live in the Garden of Eden.  This painting tries to capture the very moment that she has decided and begins to turn away from God.   I wanted to include every flower that I would miss, and I tried to make it look like the flowers would miss Eve, too.  I'm so glad that there are flowers outside of the Garden of Eden!  Of course we have to tend them and protect them and pull the weeds that want to choke them.  I imagine that there were no weeds in Eden and that the light was soft and filtered, and I tried to paint it so.  I believe that at this moment, Eve thought she had made a good decision.