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.  

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A Box of Spring

I found these beautiful red blossoms at the florist's and rushed them home to paint their portrait.  They had an interesting name and I saved the little description of them but, alas, it has been filed away beyond my reach.  However, the title, "A Box of Spring," reflects their confinement in a brown cardboard box, where they were for the duration of the painting.  I shone a spotlight on them and tried to show how wonderfully the cool of the light and the warm shadows of the box played with each other.  They are in a little fishbowl that used to have Siamese Fighting Fish in it, but now it holds these symbols of peace.