Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Rapt Romance, 24x18. sold

Rapt Romance, which was selected to show in the 85th Grand National Exhibition in NYC by the American Artists' Professional League and just won the Dianne Rudy Memorial Award, is also the 7th painting from the Power & Peace show that has sold. 
When I met the new owners of the work, I was deeply touched by how the painting affected them, especially the woman, Julie.  She felt a kinship with the girl in the painting, curled up with a book.  The painting officially became hers today and I wrote the poem below to go with the painting, into her life. 
Rapt Romance:

Rapt Romance

On her stone bench, face aglow
What she's thinking, who can know?
Within thin pages lives the beau
Who stole her heart away.

The rapt romance developed so
Her heart beat fast, time seemed to slow
All earthly loves she would forgo
To spend her life with him.

But creeping o'er her shoulder lo!
The sun's alarm, like a cock's crow
The worldly hour its light doth throw
A shadow o'er her dream.

But in her heart, love's seed did sow
A romance that would ever grow
Like sunflowers painted by Van Gogh
Are Julie's books to her.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Call to Muster, 20x16

Monday, December 2, 2013

Westward Vision

This is a detail of Westward Vision, an older painting that I posted when I first started blogging.

There has been a natural evolution of style that even I can see when I look at all my paintings together.  When I painted Esther, I was very new to oil painting but very experienced with drawing.  I entered two portraits in the Richeson 75 competition and they were both selected for the show, which was judged by Everett Raymond Kinstler.  I asked him to help me understand how I could grow as a painter; he revealed to me the fact that I was drawing with paint, not painting.  Painting is a way of seeing and thinking that I did not completely understand yet, but he actually helped my mind learn how to think differently.  That's amazing to me.

I am going to have a few older paintings in the Power & Peace show that opens this Friday and there will be two of this model, Esther.  Here is Esther's story, taken from the original post:

One day, I was at the grocery store and I met a vision that took my breath away. Literally. Her name was Esther and she was behind the deli counter. Her mysterious hair was hidden in a paper wrap and her lilting accent mesmerized me. I wanted to paint her immediately but did not have the courage to freak her out by asking, so I asked for some baby Swiss instead. Our paths would serendipitously cross again, giving me another chance.  She would become the subject of more than one painting and a friend for life. In this one, I am depicting her story, which she told me during a long sitting. She said that when she was a preschooler in Nigeria, she told her mother that she would one day go to America. She could not recall how she knew of America, but she looked westward from Africa from her earliest memory. I'm so thankful that she came all the way to Texas. Westward Vision was in the Richeson's first Top 75 Portraits international competition.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Fill Your Hand, 16x20

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Cowgirl and Child, 16x12

This is one of the paintings that will be in the Power & Peace show in a couple of weeks.  It's also featured in the "Small-Scale Masterpieces" article in this month's issue of American Art Collector magazine, along with the landscape from the last post and a still life from another post.
Mother and Child, the universal and iconic image, does not lose its power with a Texas accent!  The women who came out west were of such strong stuff, but still so gentle.  I think mothers exemplify Power & Peace.  This tiny prairie girl is wearing a bonnet and boots with her flour sack dress, which her mother has bent down to adjust.  The tender moment is made strong for me by the clothing that the two are wearing.  The mother is dressed for riding, not darning, but you know she made the clothes that little girl is wearing.  The mothers of our own generation are equally able and versatile, strong and gentle: powerful purveyors of peace. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Outdoor Painter Magazine

I wish there were a way to just give you the Outdoor Painter Magazine so you could see what the wonderful writer/editor Bob Bahr wrote up about my favorite place to paint.  I don't know how I would do that though so instead, I will post a link to his article along with a painting that was not actually included in the article but is linked to it in geography and spirit.

And here is the painting; it was one of three featured recently in a small works article in American Art Collector magazine (current issue, on the stands at this very moment!) called San Luis Pass, oil on linen, 9x12.  It will be available at the opening of my solo show at Cloisters Gallery in downtown Houston on 6 December from 6-8 pm on a special Small Works table:

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Something Found

I made stuff up in my imagination about this woman as I painted her and when I was finished with the painting, I thought that it would be fun to write a story to go with her. 
My challenge was to fit the story into the little space beside the image that pops up on the website when you click on it: not a great deal of room!  So instead of a whole long story written out, I tried to allow a story to be created in your mind as you read a poem that gives some context to her and the tents and the thing she's picking up, while leaving much to your own imagination to fill in.  Here it is: 

Something Found

A Spanish lady, beauty so,
About her throat a cameo,
One sunny day the fairground went
She, looking for her beau.

Her treasure bound up in the sack
She’d sewn to hold all she could pack:
Her jewels and money, every cent,
So she could bring him back.

She thought she spied him over there,
His towering form and golden hair,
Yonder near the merchant’s tent,
Her lover oh so fair.

Her heart did throb, her breath abate;
She prayed that it was not too late.
Of everything she did repent;
Beloved, oh please wait!

But as she neared, it was not he
Her heart believed the man to be.
And now her fears and passions rent:
Her purse she could not see!

Retracing steps across the ground,
Her heart now raced and leapt and bound;
Could all be lost with nothing spent?
Ah praise! T’was lost, now found!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Footlit Flapper

My model from Monday became a flapper on Friday.
Tesa did a marvelous job this week posing for artists.  Modeling for artists is much different than modeling for photographers.  Much harder, would be my guess.  The model and artist work together to find a pose that is a good design and also is thought to be natural and comfortable enough to hold without moving for long periods of time.  In real life, no pose is really that comfortable if the person is conscious.  Tesa was perched high on a hard chair with a bright light shining right into her eyes.  As the morning wore on, the artists found out that she had been quietly enduring a constant pressure on her ribcage from the position of the chair; she never let on.  In our group, every artist member has served as a model for the group in order to feel what the model feels.  That experience makes this particular group very empathetic toward its models. 
I don't know if you will ever see a finished painting of Tesa the Footlit Flapper.  I am so very busy right now trying to finish the paintings for the show: painting, varnishing, framing, and even writing about each painting.  We are going to try to have a book to go along with the show. 
Don't forget, 6 December from 6-8 will be our opening in Houston!  Here's your invitation:

Saturday, October 26, 2013

An Invitation to Power & Peace

This is the ad in American Art Collector magazine, the November issue, which just came out.  They also included our show in a section called "The Savvy Collector's Guide to Upcoming Shows," under Texas (link below) and wrote about it in "Small-Scale Masterpieces," with three more paintings!  We're having invitations made but if you want to come, please come!  Don't wait for an invitation; we will have the reception on 6 December from 6-8 pm and would love to see you there.

The link to the Savvy Collector's Guide is:

Come and let your soul be recharged by an evening of wine and cheese and original oil paintings. There should be something for everyone: figurative, landscape and still life paintings, all united under the common light of “Power and Peace.” The paintings in this show reflect a high idea of action and energy within calm and peace. The changing light, the ephemeral quality of nature, the transitory yet purposeful presence of man: the subjects that have drawn artists and art lovers throughout all of history can draw us together this December in downtown Houston. Be there or be square!

Cloister Gallery is a downtown institution and one of the city’s most cherished lunchtime destinations. Jamie Mize and Dan Tidwell have been feeding Houstonians out of Reynolds Hall (the Great Hall, the Cloister) since 1981, and the famous Treebeard’s fare brings hundreds to their campus every weekday. Be one of them!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

North Shore Nymph

The weather is perfect right now.  In Houston, the weather is always a little on the perfect side for some people: never too cold in the winter and a friendly, "close" kind of humid heat in the summer that makes your skin stay young.  But in the spring and autumn, the weather is absolutely perfect, no matter who you are.  It was very hard to stay in the studio and teach today, with the cool air and the flirty sun calling from outside!  But I did already get to paint out this week, with my new model, Tesa.

I met Tesa when I was registering students for the fall semester.  She was interested in being an artist's model and had already read three books on modeling!  She did an outstanding job as a plein air model for me.  She will model again on Friday in the studio for our Market Street Painters group, only then she will be a flapper from the 1920's.  For our day though, at a nearby lake, she dressed as a water nymph.
Here she is, taking a picture of the painting of herself:

 The fun and challenge of painting at a park like this is all that goes on around you while you are working.  The in-and-out clouds, the busy ducks and geese, the bugs and boaters and children (and parents) all conspire to pull your focus away from your job.  Tesa stayed focused on my face and I tried to stay focused on her face and my canvas. 
This painting was done with four colors (plus white): transparent oxide brown, ultramarine blue deep, cadmium red and cadmium yellow pale; the same palette we are using in Oil Painting 101 this semester.  The wonderful thing about a limited palette is the automatic harmony that you have.  No matter what you paint, you are drawing from such a limited source, all your resulting choices are related and so go well together.  My mind is always a little blown that so much can be done with so little.  Yet our printers only have a few colors and our television sets only have a few colors so it shouldn't be quite so surprising. 
Well, here is the sketch of Tesa, the North Shore Nymph:

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Scout Arriving, 24x30

Some works call for reverie, others invite revelry.  This painting was the latter sort.  It was large for me and required standing and sometimes a little dancing to execute.  The subject matter also was the opposite of quiet and even my brush found a new dance step on this one.  Here's a close up of the scout's accoutrements, which I was hoping would catch the movement and action: 
I am doing several paintings in response to a Civil War reenactment that I got to see recently.  This scout, sword at the ready and pistol drawn, came bounding into my view right as the participants were preparing for battle in the background:

The attitude of the horse and rider together created such a beautiful mark against the smoke and sky, an abstract movement of forward momentum and back-straining to stop, only one foot touching the ground… it had to be painted.  My hat’s off to the Third Texas Cavalry Regiment of Civil War Reenactors!  An inspiration on so many levels. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Little Gypsy Girl, 14x11

Maybe you recognize this little girl from Follies & Foibles, published in July. She suffered some insult but was not permanently injured in the process.I wish you could see the painting in real life instead of seeing the digital image of it. Digitizing these soft and subtle passages makes them so harsh and vivid, adjusting the temperature and values just enough to remove the romance, it seems. The joy of this painting is in the very delicate cool tones in her face, juxtaposed against the bright warm sparkling bangles of her headband. The bedecked little gypsy composes her look and is set for the day, having just been dropped off by the wagon that is disappearing in the distance. 
This silhouetting with only the rim lighting of the figure reminds me of calligraphy, the old-fashioned kind with the large Chinese characters done with big round brushes in black ink on white parchment. I have a couple of those and even though I don’t know what they mean, I appreciate their stark beauty. Maybe from across the room the abstract character of the little gypsy girl reads, Freedom.   

Monday, September 16, 2013

Oil Painting 101-The Foundations, fall 2013

Oil Painting 101, The Foundations has just begun. This class will cover materials and procedures, drawing and design, the practice and philosophy of oil painting. During the class, there will be presentations and demonstrations, actual painting time with personal instruction and critique, designed to bring the student from their present level to the next level.  In short, it’s the class that I tried to find when I was starting out in oils but could not find. We have a great group again this time and I am really looking forward to the fall semester. 
For our first day, I brought all the supplies that members will need to paint with oils, plus lots and lots of optional things (canvas choices, many palettes, every kind of brush, even easels!) that they might want, to make their life easier as they paint in and out of the studio.  Here they are, all packed into 10 easy-to-fit-into-the-Mini Cooper pieces!

I like this show-and-tell day because it allows everyone to see and touch and ask about things that they may have only heard about or seen in pictures. There aren’t many artists who don’t have a collection of things they thought they needed but didn’t. How much better to use someone else’s experience and save some time and money!
So, as we begin, our palette will be the most limited in history: one color + white. Starting like this will allow us to understand value as the most important foundational element in painting. Do you know that the human eye has 120 million rods, which interpret value, and only 6 million cones, which interpret color? Well it’s true and that is one of the reasons that it’s critical to be able to express a visual idea with value.

Our color is Transparent Oxide Brown, which is a very deep transparent partner for the opaque white. We will study why these characteristics are even important. In addition to value and temperature, we will explore line and edges using this pair and, when the time is right, we’ll add the three primaries: red, yellow and blue. By the end of the semester, we will have at least an understanding of the infinite capabilities of these few colors. Each class could easily be expanded into years of training, as it has been in the ateliers throughout art history. But we only have 4 months so I promise: we will only just scratch the surface!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Real Life

I am just emerging from the studio and seeing that it is going on 2 in the morning.

One of the things that I'm trying to do in my life right now is go to bed at "a reasonable hour." This goal has eluded me for my entire life but I will not give up because I keep reading about how good it is for you to have regular sleep habits and to let the sun wake you up. As a painter, I should be highly motivated to be up with the sun, but as a modern woman with really great studio lighting and really bad habits, I burn the midnight oil; I simply lose track of time. My theory/excuse is that, when you are doing the thing that God designed you to do, you have one foot on earth, one foot in heaven. Well, in heaven, as everyone knows, there are no clocks. Time is irrelevant. One is never late in heaven.
So I have a very lofty excuse for not being in bed at this time.
Now, to blog.

Someone recently said in my hearing that still lifes were boring. I asked him why he thought so and he replied that they always look staged, fake. Well, as a genre I suppose still lifes are long on still, short on life, but one of the fabulous things about still life painting is: YOU CAN CHANGE THAT. You are the master of everything when you paint still lifes. Clayton Beck once told me that if you don't like what you see in a still life, change your set up, change your position, or change your lighting. That is not possible for the landscape painter and it has only limited application for the portrait painter. (I might also add, when comparing still lifes as a subject to a model as a subject, that still lifes are free, you don't have to give them breaks every 20 minutes, and they stay up all night if you need them to. But I digress...)

These conversations were floating around in my head and my thinking was, just observe real things. Boring still lifes are just overly-orchestrated. Do what the landscape painters do and capture something from REAL LIFE and make a work of art out of it. Then BAM! I had the opportunity to practice what my mind was beginning to preach. My husband and I came home the other evening and when we turned on the kitchen light, he said, "Wow, that's a painting!" Looking at the produce on the counter I said, "Yeah, that would be a good painting!" Then he said, "Paint it! Now! I'll help you set up your gear."
Ha! Bluff called! My mind was saying, "But I'm tired! I'll take a picture of it and paint it later. It needs better lighting than the stove hood light anyway..." Immediately I was thwarting myself, but before anyone knew what was going on in my head, I said, "Okay, I will!"
So here you have my set up, my gear, my block-in:

And here you have a zoom of the produce because I'm not sure I like the composition, after all the work of painting it "as is." But the experience was very liberating; it was fun to explore something so close, so spontaneously. Perhaps I have a painting from it... we'll see: 


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Lone Star Color Guard

One of my favorite painter peeps and I went to a Civil War reenactment by the 3rd Texas Cavalry Regiment last fall. What an exciting and wonderful experience! All the reenactors were required to be true to the time period. Even the children had their Ozarka water in authentic period bottles. Nary a cell phone nor digital camera was to be seen and I was beside myself with glee!
I have been working on paintings from the experience ever since then and many of them will be in the show coming up. I will shuffle them into the blog line-up but will save some until the opening, too.

This is a painting of the Texas Color Guard. I don't know why he was alone but the image was poignant: The Lone Guard of the Lone Star. One of my friends said the painting makes him feel sad but it makes me feel very proud. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Life Painting of a Tree

It’s hot. Even when it’s only 95-100 degrees, the heat index has been up to the 120’s here during the day and it’s a challenge to paint out. I’ve discovered though, that if I go against the natural orientation of every atom in my body and set my alarm for 5 a.m. I can get out there and paint a couple of quick ones before it’s too unbearable. Also, if anyone else is going, we can have lunch afterwards, wax philosophical about our profession over some sweet tea, and leave much the richer for it!
Such was the case recently, two weeks in a row! This painting was the only one I caught on the second outing because, shocking, we were stopped by rain! Our drought has been so severe for so very long that I really don’t expect it anymore, regardless of the forecast. But, happily, rain it did.

Before the rain, there was a high, light overcast as the sun came up and most of this painting was laid in during that gray time. About a half an hour before the sky let loose, the sun peeked out a couple of times and I knocked in the spots that it caused and brightened the grass. When we were forced to throw in the towel, we huddled under a hatchback talking about our morning before dashing off to lunch. It was fun to be soaked and cold in July in south Texas.
Driving back to my studio afterwards I was thinking about how very much I love what I do. How many people can say that? I love every part of it, and just being allowed to do it makes me profoundly grateful.
One question we ask ourselves as painters is, “Is painting about painting, or is it about the painting?” Is it the experience of producing, or is it all about the product? My answer is, “Yes!” If you’re painting your experience, your product transcends the materials and conveys a time and a place, an experience, to someone else through the filter of a human being. It’s the beauty of 3 again: time, space, artist. I was the only one in that exact spot at that exact time and I had a skill that allowed me to create a unique record of it. Richard Schmid once said that fine art is the only form of communication that goes directly from mind to mind, no translation. I need to think about that some more but for now, here’s a painting of my experience and joy one recent morning, from me to you, with love.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Risky Business

Two big challenges face us when we work. Tackling them requires a pre-existing plan, wisdom and courage.
Many, many things are happening when you paint. As you endeavor to convert 3 dimensions into 2 so that it looks like 3, your mind has to be both in the present and the future. You must be totally in the moment as you process the information and translate light into pigment, but you can’t lose sight of the final painting. The final painting will stand alone. If it doesn’t work, you have to deep six it, even if you’ve spent a LOT of time and effort on it.

So the pre-existing plan: to go for the most excellent product possible. Wisdom is required to remain objective in your judgment, and courage, to do something rash if the work does not meet your pre-existing plan. If you aim for nothing, as they say, you will be sure to hit it.

The two challenges then are, do not let any work become too precious to you, and do not over-work a piece. These are both lethal to good painting. If you grow fond of a passage that is holding the rest of the painting back, you will be reluctant to sacrifice it for the good of the painting. If the painting is not working, over-working is not necessarily the best solution. Sometimes you have to just scrape a painting. If there's a question, answer it honestly. I tell my own self, "When in doubt, scrape it out." 

Dan Gerhartz tells a story about painting with a friend for an afternoon. When it was time to wrap it up, he could hear, scriiiitch, scraaaatch, scriiiitch… He realized that his friend was scraping his painting off, and asked, “Hey, what are you doing?” His friend replied, “Well, my palette knife isn’t sharp enough to slash my wrists so…” It makes me laugh because I know exactly what that’s like.
Last Friday, our group had a lovely girl in a Greek costume posing for us. At the end of a very engaging 3 hours, I had a painting that maybe I should have left alone; it was only an exercise after all. But since I had a reference photo, I decided to use it and fix her crossed eyes. Once I started, I saw that really, she was all wrong, and Richard Schmid’s voice was whispering in my mind, “Never knowingly leave anything wrong on your canvas.” So I wiped from her eyebrows down and started over. The photos show the original work in progress, then the re-entry as I began the make-over (you can see how terrifying this step is, haha!), and finally the painting as it was when my time ran out. My favorite way to work when I'm doing portraits is to start from life, spend some time with reference work, then finish from life... but since this is only an exercise, I'm stopping now.


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Follies and Foibles

I have a painting that I'm getting ready to sell and several paintings that are being prepared for a big solo show that I have coming up toward the end of the year, so I've been varnishing. I learned from Daniel Greene that the best and safest place to do that is in the bathroom. It can be closed off, there's a vent and probably a window, it can be made lint-free by removing the towels, rugs and curtains, and if you lay the paintings across the tub, there is total ventilation all around the painting as it dries.
I have been varnishing like this for many years without incident but today, disaster struck:

There were 3 paintings in there drying and when I went in to check on them, I was shocked and chagrined to see debris covering the paintings! Somehow (still a mystery), a large quantity of I-don't-know-what, including dead wasps, was spontaneously dumped from the vent on to the paintings. I am very thankful that the varnish was all but dry and I'm almost certain that I will be able to remove it from the paintings. Follies and foibles!
I will post a blog on varnishing in the not-too-distant future, and one on tubing your own paint. These are skills that are not really covered anywhere that I can find, so I have had to learn them in The School of Hard Knocks. I now feel totally free to share these kinds of things with you, not being locked in to the smaller mission of my past blog. The "old" blog tried to be very brief and to stick to one thing, directly related to a painting or a show, with very little comment. I know I scared some of you with my "Rededication" post, because I got lots of emails! I left the impression that perhaps I was going to retire from painting and take up preaching, which I am neither qualified nor inclined to do! I just wanted to break out of the tight little blog template and be free to share all kinds of things with you.

Finally, an administrative note. I believe I've received all of your emails but I know for sure I've not seen comments. We've readjusted some settings in hopes of making commenting easier, so if you want others to hear you here, leave a comment below. And subscribers, instead of being delivered to your inbox at 5 p.m., PYJ will now arrive in the morning, between 7 and 9.

Now, I'm off to the attic to see if I can find out how the vent "vented" on my paintings!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Beauty of Three

Today, my husband and I were studying Dark Matter and Dark Energy, which together make up 95% of our universe ( 25% and 70% respectively), and about which very little is known.  Everything we actually know about is called Ordinary Matter (atoms, people, galaxies), which makes up only 5% of what is known to exist. These 3 things make up our universe.  

          Equally interesting is that there are only a few things comprising all that we are able to see (ordinary matter). Particle physics tells us that the atom, thought to be the smallest particle, actually has three parts to it: protons, neutrons and electrons. Further division reveals that protons and neutrons each have within them teeny tiny things called quarks, which appear in divisions of 3. There are 3 quarks in a proton and 3 quarks in a neutron. The string theories are even more interesting…

          When we were looking at matter that emits or absorbs light, of course I thought about painting. Light emits, pigments absorb. This is the science of painting! In the spectrum, there are 3 primaries and 3 secondaries, made up of 3 “warm” colors (red, orange and yellow) and 3 “cool” colors (green, blue and violet). And when I am painting, I follow John Singer Sargent’s value-compression strategy of pushing my values down to 3: light, mid-tone and dark. Even composition theory suggests divisions of 3 for finding the sweet spot and keeping things from being too static. I’m always thinking “3” when I work without really being conscious of it.

          We ourselves are said to be made up of body, soul and spirit; the soul being further divided into mind, will and emotions. When I’m working on the figure, I’m thinking, “eyes, nose, mouth… head, torso, legs… upper arm, lower arm, hand…” The way we’re made reminds me that we were made, and according to the Bible, we were made in God’s image. Artists deal in images. Images are products of the imagination that reflect the maker in some way. This finally reminds me of the Trinity: Father, Son, Holy Spirit; God in three persons. The Father reminds me of the soul. You can’t see the soul but it’s what “makes” a person that person: his mind, his will and his emotions. The Son reminds me of the body: the physical manifestation of the person and the Holy Spirit is the most mysterious of all. Not to make any grand theological statement; just to say that, thinking about life (birth, life, death) (past, present, future), I’m struck by the beauty of three.   

          This is part of a painting that I cropped to show an experiment that I did awhile back in spectral sequencing (laying out colored objects according to their order in the spectrum). The colors were red, blue and yellow (the primaries), with purple, orange and green (the secondaries) between:

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Nigerian Gele

I met Chelsea at the Salon International a couple of years ago and have been so very fortunate to have had her as a regular model all this time. She modeled for our Friday painting group, The Market Street Painters, a week ago, wearing an outfit that she wore to a Nigerian wedding this spring.
The elaborate headwrap is called a gele. My first-ever model was actually from Nigeria and taught me all the different ways to wrap one, and what each one meant. One way said, "I'm nubile," another said, "I'm a married," and some said things that, well, that embarrassed the model. I'm not sure but I think that these days the gele is more of a fashion statement; the more elaborate the better. I saw one once that was 3 feet tall with enormous yellow butterflies.
My original plan was to have much of the gele showing but Chelsea's eyes are just so wonderful that her face grew on my canvas until I could work with them. 20x16 is 20x16 so something had to give. It was the gele that gave.
Here's a promise though: I will soon paint another painting of Chelsea in this costume on a larger canvas and include the gele. When you see how voluminous and sculpturally interesting this thing is, your socks will roll up and down.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

THE NEW BLOG, PAINT YOUR JOY! A Rededication of the old blog, Paint Your Joy!

This is the first post of the new Paint Your Joy!
I just finished a book by Dr RC Sproul: The Holiness of God. The last chapter was called, Holy Space and Holy Time, and opened with this quote by CS Lewis: “Where, except in the present, can the Eternal be met?” I want to share an excerpt from it, as it was part of the reason for my rededication of this blog:

(Regarding the holy space where Moses saw the burning bush)…The sacred character of this spot was not intrinsic but extrinsic… made sacred by a super-added presence.  The event that occurred there loaned an extraordinary dimension to the ordinary… not only a theophany but also a hierophany… [Historian, Mircea] Eliade comments, “Every sacred space implies a hierophany, an irruption of the sacred that results in detaching a territory from the surrounding cosmic milieu and making it qualitatively different.”

(Regarding the holy space where Jacob dreamed of the ladder to heaven, awoke and was afraid and cried out: “How dreadful is this place: this is none other but… the gate of heaven.” He then took the stone he’d used as a pillow, set it on end, and he anointed it with oil. He named the place Bethel…) Eliade notes:…”The symbolism implicit in the expression “gate of heaven” is rich and complex; the theophany that occurs in a place consecrates it by the very fact that it makes it open above—that is, in communication with heaven, the paradoxical point of passage from one mode of being to another.”

Dr Sproul continues, Several significant images are connected in the interplay of this event. The first is the image of the ladder with the ascending and descending angels… the ladder serves as a connecting link between heaven and earth, the sacred and the profane. The second, this holy space receives a new name, Beth-el, precisely because it is deemed not only the “house of God” but also… a door that provides access to heaven. The third… is the image of the stone. Originally the stone was a common piece of rock used for a common purpose in antiquity, namely to serve as a pillow… After the hierophany, the stone is assigned a different purpose. It is transformed from its common purpose to an uncommon purpose.

So I was thinking about the purpose of this blog. Since its inception, its purpose has been common and small. I’ve even tried to limit my plain vanilla text to the space of one image! As a Christian though, my work should not be common or small but should somehow be material evidence of a creature who is madly in love with the Creator. Jesus, in John 1:51, said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” His visit to the planet was both a theophany and a hierophany, and the people who follow Him, who do see heaven opened, are supposed to point to Him in every aspect of their lives. Well, there are many more aspects to my life and art, and much more thought behind what I’m doing with them than what has shown here. I read the Bible every day. I write every day. I paint almost every day. I read a lot and think a lot, not just about painting but about physics and history and psychology; they all influence my art! And all the things I do and think are “open above.” I'm not going to preach but I do want to share.

So I now take this common stone that you’ve been using as a pillow to fall asleep, and I rededicate it, turning it on its side,so that it now points upward toward heaven.  

Monday, April 29, 2013

April Showers

 The first day of the Clarksville residency, Denise and I were forced to stay indoors because of the freezing cold rain. And by "forced to," I mean "got to." It was a wonderful day of music and laughter, hard work and joy. 
There are only two windows in the studio; she painted a scene out of hers (left) and I painted some flowers on mine (right) that I cut from the garden and taped to the sill.
The flowering quince, or japonica, was in full bloom, so I thought that a painting of them would mark the exact time on the calendar that we were there. I liked that they harmonized with the bricks and that they seemed to be trying to peek out the window at the other buds, just like Denise was doing.

This is my donation painting for the Red River Historical Society. It is 9x12 inches and called Japonica on the Windowsill
They are going to restore the old jail in town and convert it into a museum, the last we heard, and eventually have all the residents' contributions on display there. For the immediate term though, they will hang in the Lennox house, along with Martha Lennox's own paintings. I am honored to have my work hang alongside the work of such a woman as Martha.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Color Wheel

The Color Wheel. Different from the charts in that it is not a value study at all, but a look at the spectral sequence that results from the three primary colors. At left, some of the OP-101 members are seeing how math and color collide as they measure out secondary and tertiary colors from the primaries. Isaac Newton was the first one to note the spectrum within a beam of light, and that the end of the sequence resembled the beginning; and voila! the color wheel was born. In addition to laying out neighboring colors, the artists are adding the complements in the inner ring, to see how quickly a color can be desaturated, and to learn the vast color potential of just three colors.
I'm off now, to paint the Spring! Thanks for stopping by.    

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

4 Color Charts

We are more than half-way into our adventure in the Oil Painting Foundations at the Woodlands Art League. We've gone from a concentration on the study of values, with only one color + white, into a full but limited primary palette. We are using brown, blue, red and yellow +white.
At left is our last assignment: Color Charts.
Each set of color squares represents one of our colors and how it relates to every other color (rows) and how those mixtures look in a 5-point value scale (columns).
I brought this chart with me on my residency trip and could see why Richard Schmid is so enthusiastic about having these done and with you in the field. It's useful in note-taking in your sketchbook and my resident partner used it on the first full-moon night for her sketches, noting that she would have remembered a much higher key had she not had the actual color-values in her hand to refer to. And as just an exercise, every single square requires skill, discipline and much consideration. The OP-101 members made me so happy with their excitement and efforts. I have a completely different plan for our color safari tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Residence

The Lennox House is "the residence" of the Artists in Residence program, sponsored by the Red River Historical Society in Clarksville, TX. It is still filled with the furnishings and effects of the family, and you feel very much the visitor while there. There is an artist's bedroom and studio, but even in those rooms there is the feeling of being in someone else's place. The last Lennox to live here was Martha Washington Lennox, an artist herself, who studied at the Art Students League in New York City and the Corcoran School of Art in Washington DC. That was pretty cool for a woman in the 30's. Many of her paintings hang in the home and I have grown very fond of her. I started painting her house the last time I was there and have been working very hard on it between then and now.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Chimney of the Charles DeMorse Home

 Colonel Charles DeMorse is known as the Father of Texas Journalism, having established and run The Northern Standard (later called The Standard) from 1842 until his death in 1887. His home is the oldest building in Clarksville, built in 1833, three years before Texas independence. It was a 2-room log cabin and the logs can still be seen in cut-outs on either side.
The thing that is most beautiful and intriguing to me is the odd chimney. It is unique and fairly beaten up. It appears to be made of pieces of ceramic tile, eight around, stacked four high with a metal cap on top. Like Texas, it stands proud atop its rough and tumble history: a survivor. The Historical Society is planning to restore this home, which bears national and state historic markers and is well worth preserving.

Monday, April 1, 2013

North Texas Residency

We had a wonderful eight days in North Texas but it was very, very cold. Still, we managed to get in about one painting a day; I'll post pics of the week as well as paintings from the residency in the coming days.
For today, I have a short video filmed by Steve Whalen who, with his wife Deborah Paris, conceived the Artist in Residence program. The video was taken on the day that this painting was done. I will leave both the video link and the residency link at the end of this post for you.
The sun was high when we set up, but as the barn faced west, the key shadows stayed relatively constant. I've learned that when you're cold, you paint smarter because you want to hurry up and get warm. We were promised a bonfire that evening and the thought of it gave us anticipatory warmth, but then, about midway through the afternoon, Steve came out with a box of piping hot tea! The box had lidded china tea cups, choices of tea, mason jars full of cream and sugar, and a thermos of hot water. Not at all uncivilized! 
Here are your links and I hope you enjoy them:

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Karlee as Victorian Woman

I'm almost ready to leave on another trip: my second stay as one of the Artists in Residence, sponsored by the Clarksville Historical Society. My partner in residence is the wonderful pastel landscape artist, D.LaRue Mahlke:, who is prominently featured in the current issue of Southwest Art magazine:
The last time we were there, we did a public demonstration on the veranda of the historic Lennox House. Our model was a local girl, posing in a lace dress that belonged to the original owner of the house.
It was a wonderful thing to be inserted into the timeline of Clarksville, known as the Gateway to Texas. To meet the people who descended from the original settlers and hear their stories, to stay in the home of a family who has been so influential in the history of the area, and to become part of its legacy is a wonderful thing to me. The last time there, we witnessed the changing of the seasons, from summer to fall. Now it's time to catch the first blossoms of spring! 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Showgirl Backstage

 Here is a double post with a double meaning-title. 
The first picture is a backstage glimpse of a painting in progress of a showgirl, which is the second picture: a painting of a showgirl backstage.
The artwork taped behind the model is from a children's art class that took place earlier in the week. I never did put those into my painting, choosing to work exclusively on the girl while I had her in front of me. This is a lesson I learned from a master painter, who humiliated a couple of painters in his class that were working on the background first, while the model was fresh. More important for me, on these painting days when a group of us hires a model, is the awareness that we only have 3 hours with the model, including breaks. PAINT FAST.
Once I got back to my own studio, I made up posters to go behind her from my imagination. Then I set up a mirror to counterbalance the composition, which was heavy on the left. The model and the mask are looking toward the right; the mirror is sitting in the sweet spot, looking toward the left. The unicorn is also facing the left and that helps. Overall, I think it works.
This week I'm finishing paintings started on my trip last week to the Gulf Coast of Alabama. I'm also doing color charts for my class, and I'm finishing paintings that will be part of my upcoming Artist in Residency in north Texas. In short, I'm busier than a one-armed paper-hanger, to quote my dad. Thanks a lot for visiting and come back soon! 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Oil Painting 101~The Foundations

Some of the OP-101 students are seen here working to capture the likeness of Skully, my skull model. Half the class chose to work on Plane Jane, who models the planes of the head. The students are studying drawing, paint-handling, edges and especially value, with only one color on their palette, plus white. We are learning that there is wonderful freedom in boundaries, and there is great beauty to be found in values. If an artist can control the value, the color will control itself.

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Conservatory

A few of my painter peeps went to the Conservatory here in our town, to paint small portrait sketches of its residents about a week ago. I had only gotten a couple hours of sleep the night before and from 8:30 till noon this day, we had been painting a hired model. We went from that to the Conservatory where we painted till 3. I have to tell you, I was pretty tromped by the time I got home, but the afternoon was such a delight, I would have been sorry to miss out. The residents were so entertaining and engaged in what we were doing, regaling us with tales of yesteryear that would make your socks roll up and down :-) I am reminded: You can NOT judge a book by its cover. (photo by Lewis B)

Monday, February 18, 2013

Little Liza

M2P2=Monday Morning Portrait Painters
There are a million people in the room on Mondays and if you are late getting there, you get what you get. And by "late," I mean "not early." The early bird gets to sit, and gets to see the model without binoculars (although one early-bird sitter often uses binoculars anyway, no kidding). This Monday, there wasn't even room against the far wall, so I took the extreme oblique position. My grandmother used to play semi-pro basketball and she was famous for her ability to sink swishers from such an angle: the corner of the court, under duress. I try to tap that same spirit of courage and determination, attempting the shot in spite of the silly position and no backboard.
If there were a ref and a scoreboard, I would know for sure how I did. I would like that. But it's probably better this way.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Miriam the Tamborine Girl. 14x11

I have been very busy painting and teaching this year. It promises to be a very good year in the world of Art. It is certainly off to an excellent start at any rate!
Thank you for stopping by and I wish you the best this new year.
I dedicate this post to the Art Collectors.
Thank you.