December 31, 2007

(70) Gardener
9 x 12, oil
private collection
This final figurative piece was painted from a photo I took at a local "community garden"-- a place of camaraderie where gardeners rent a space to garden. They can often be heard sharing ideas, tips and discoveries with each other as they work side by side. What a great concept.
"Don't underestimate the therapeutic value of gardening. It's the one area where we can all use our nascent creative talents to make a truly satisfying work of art. Every individual, with thought, patience and a large portion of help from nature, has it in them to create their own private Paradise "... Geoff Hamilton

December 30, 2007

(69) Ah, Summer!
10 x 12, oil
private collection
This is definitely an example of a painting that would be tough to do from life--for some reason that pesky water (and the swimmer) just won't stay still long enough to be immortalized in paint! I loved the shadows that were created at the bottom of the pool, offering depth to the painting--this was one that just fell off the brush, and one of my favorite pieces.
"Don't wait for your ship to come in--swim out to it" unknown

December 29, 2007

(68) Love
8 x 10, oil
private collection
I painted this for one of my favorite couples--she discovered her sweetheart writing her name in the sand, and provided me with the photo. Besides the obvious appeal, I was also smitten by the composition and complimentary color scheme.
"Whatever we lose (like a you or a me)
It's always ourselves we find in a sea"...e.e.cummings

December 28, 2007

(67) Keeneland
12 x 16, oil
This was painted from a photo I took at Keeneland race course in Lexington, KY. There were many striking horses there that day, but this color always catches my eye.
"He's of the colour of the nutmeg. And of the heat of the ginger.... he is pure air and fire; and the dull elements of earth and water never appear in him, but only in patient stillness while his rider mounts him; he is indeed a horse, and all other jades you may call beasts"... William Shakespeare, Henry V

December 27, 2007

(66) Cowboy, low-key study
6 x 8, oil
The goal of this quick-study was to keep the values between 5 and 8 (with 1 being white and 10 black) and divide everything into light or shadow. This model was the perfect cowboy
(I'm pretty sure he has never heard of sunscreen) and I loved hearing his ranching and roping stories. When it was time for a break, he sauntered over to my easel to tell me he had noticed that I was taking this painting stuff way too seriously, and advised that I work less intensely in order to get more done--hmmnn, sage advice indeed.
"If your horse says no, you either asked the wrong question, or asked the question wrong"...cowboy advice

December 26, 2007

(65) Cowboy, high-key study
6 x 8, oil
Since I have posted only still-life paintings so far, I thought I would switch to quick-figure studies I painted at the Scottsdale Artists School. The goal with this one was to maintain a high-key relationship keeping the lightest values at 2 and darkest values at a midtone of 5.
The school has the best models. This cowboy makes his own spurs, chaps, and leather belts (authentic to the way they were made in the 1800s)-- He was such an engaging and enthusiastic character, and lots of fun to paint.
"Courage is being scared to death--and saddling up anyway"...cowboy/actor John Wayne

December 25, 2007

(64) Runaway Rabbit Bunny Slippers
9 x 12, oil
private collection
Wherever you are today, my Christmas wish for you is that you are warm, cozy, safe, and have lots to smile about. If you are wearing your bunny slippers, all the better--mine remind me to not take myself too seriously.
"I offer you peace.
I offer you love.
I offer you friendship.
I see your beauty.
I hear your need.
I feel your feelings.
My wisdom flows from the Highest Source.
I salute that Source in you.
Let us work together for unity and love"... Ghandi's Prayer for Peace

December 24, 2007

(63) Light of the World
16 x 20, oil
private collection
In this larger painting, I was drawn to the beautiful late afternoon light and cast shadows of the crosses. My goal was to keep the shadow side of the church the same value, varying only the relative warmth or coolness of the colors reflecting onto the stone facade. Because the light changes so rapidly at this time of day, I painted this from a photo instead of life. I discovered that photographing upward distorts the image, so it was a learning experience to allow for that in the drawing stage of the painting.
"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of Lights"... James 1:17

December 23, 2007

(62) Hi Ya, Cupcake!
9 x 12, oil
private collection
Some of my painter friends and I set up this still-life and painted together. If you are an artist, you know that painting is such a solitary activity, so having a group of friends to paint with offers valuable feedback, and an opportunity to learn new techniques, ideas, etc. I also find that when I attend a workshop, I learn as much from other students as the teacher. Artists are often enthusiastic about sharing innovative ideas/opinions on paint, canvas, brushes, solvents, easels, teachers. workshops, etc.--and more importantly, how to pack it all up in the most efficient manner (especially if you are flying). If you are an artist who always paints alone, I encourage you to seek out others to paint with occasionally. I love the fact that Monet invited many artists to paint with him in his garden. They painted all morning, stopped for lunch, critiques, and wine during the noon hour, and once the sun was no longer directly overhead, Monet was punctual about getting back to work in the afternoon. I love that he wanted to share his home, time, and beautiful gardens.
"Manet wanted one day to paint my wife and children. Renoir was there. He took up a canvas and began painting them too. After a while, Manet took me aside and whispered, 'You're on very good terms with Renoir and take an interest in his future--do advise him to give up painting! You can see for yourself that it is not his metier at all"....Claude Monet

December 22, 2007

(61) Be the Light
9 x 12, oil
private collection
I have received requests to share commissions and larger paintings on the blog, so I thought the holidays would be the perfect opportunity to take a break from painting, and do just that. This is a piece I painted for a friend who is a high-school English teacher. Like the characters in the books she loves, she is dedicated to making the world a better place.
My hat is off to all teachers who inspire their students by their commitment to excellence each day.
"Be the change you wish to see in the world"...Ghandi

December 21, 2007

(60) Snowflakes
6 x 6, oil
I was drawn by the juxtaposition of the warmth of the red globe against the cool of the background.
"Do not be frivolous with the gift of a day. Right now is all you have, yesterday is history"...Robert Genn

December 20, 2007

(59) Apple of My Eye
6 x 6, oil
I tried to squint and really focus on the subtle value changes with this one. My challenge was to maintain the shadow side of the apples, without allowing the bright colors/light reflecting up from the tablecloth to appear too light--challenging but fun...which brings me to another point. I am stunned by how many artists write about their frustrations and how difficult, agonizing, exhausting, exasperating and utterly painful the painting process is; and, (I'm going out on a limb here) but I'm thinking... really? If you don't love it and it doesn't bring you joy, then I don't get it. If it were all easy, wouldn't it be boring? Do I find it challenging? You bet, but isn't that the fun, the enticement, the joy and the I alone in this? Or, am I hopelessly "missing" something? I have to say that even my "worst day" of painting is a grand day indeed.
"All the sorrows, all the bitterness, all the sadnesses; I forget them and ignore them in the joy of working"...Camille Pisarro

December 19, 2007

(58) 1899
private collection
6 x 8, oil
I apologize for the glare in the photo. It is increasingly more difficult to finish the painting and photograph it before the light changes and it becomes too dark. Or perhaps I'm just getting slower. In any event, I discovered these limited-edition bottles and couldn't resist painting them. The box says the shapes are replicas of those made by Coca Cola in 1899; a time when, as my son so astutely pointed out, the bottlers added a "special ingredient" to the-drink-that-refreshes: cocaine. Where did you think coke got it's name?
"The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place: from the sky, from the earth, from a passing cloud, from a spider's web"...Pablo Picasso (or perhaps from bottles with interesting shapes and colors)

December 18, 2007

(57) Better Half
6 x 8, oil
Not as loosely rendered as yesterday's...Good or bad, I find I vacillate between the two styles.
"Learn from your dreams what you lack"...W.H.Auden

December 17, 2007

(56) Pears, sans Partridge
6 x 6, oil
I love everything about pears: the color, shape, and human-like qualities, the way they can be posed and arranged. My goal with these pears (who appear to be in a huddle) was to avoid overworking the brushstrokes.
Thomas Buechner said it best "I like pears. In spite of their simple geometry, cone on sphere, they seem rather human. Hard or soft, they bruise easily."

December 16, 2007

(55) Candy "Cam"
6 x 6, oil
private collection
"I dream of painting, and then I paint my dream"...Van Gogh

December 15, 2007

(54) Pink Roses
6 x 6, oil
Hey, don't forget to take time to... oh, you know already. Same limited palette here. This was fun.
"It is not the language of the painters but the language of nature which one should listen to, the feeling for the things themselves, for reality, is more important than the feeling for pictures"...Van Gogh

December 14, 2007

(53) Lily of the World
6 x 6, oil
I love the name of this plant. We have state flowers, why not a flower representing the world? It is also very fragrant and lovely, but tougher than I imagined it would be to paint. I "pushed and pulled" paint around for quite some time with this one.
"The things that interest me most about painting are whatever is difficult or unexplored, rather than what I can already do. Following that path results in failures once in a while, but it's much more rewarding when I make a breakthrough'"...Quang Ho

December 13, 2007

(52) Christmas Cactus
6 x 8, oil
I used the same limited palette as yesterday and again focused on looser strokes.
"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams"...Eleanor Roosevelt

December 12, 2007

(51) Red Poinsettia
6 x 6, oil
Okay, so my titles aren't all that grand and original...(sorry) but it is what it is. This is another attempt at looser brushstrokes. For the last two paintings I have experimented using a limited palette of two reds, blues and yellows, plus white for a total of 7 colors (lemon yellow, cad yellow, quinacrodone red, cad red lt, ultra blue, thalo blue, and titanium white).
"Continuous effort, not strength or intelligence, is the key to unlocking our potential"...Winston Churchill

December 11, 2007

(50) Pink Poinsettia
6 x 8, oil
My goal for this painting was to concentrate on looser brushstrokes.
A dear friend once gave me Julia Cameron's book The Artist's Way. One of the "exercises" is something the author referred to as an "artist's date." The concept is that you "pencil in" time for yourself - an activity designed to offer a refreshing break from the norm, and an opportunity to "fill the well" of creativity. Well, 10 years later, my favorite artist's date is to visit a local bookstore, choose a stack of children's books and, peppermint mocha in hand, settle into a big comfy chair to peruse the latest offerings. I am interested in discovering the stories within, but (you guessed it), I am also tuned into the illustrations. There are many delightful offerings, but two outstanding discoveries over the years, include the timeless classic Gift of the Magi by O Henry, beautifully illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger; and a book my son introduced to me: Poetry for Young People,W.B.Yeats; Glenn Harrington, illustrator.
During this busy time of year, consider taking some time to "pencil YOURSELF in."

December 10, 2007

(49) Garland
6 x 6, oil
private collection
The juxtaposition of the reflective garland next to the matte-finish ornament grabbed my attention. I enjoyed painting them, but I should have chosen a more interesting composition.
"Our moments of inspiration are not lost though we have no particular poem to show for them; for those experiences have left an indelible impression, and we are ever and anon reminded of them"...H. D. Thoreau

December 9, 2007

(48) Pink 'n Green
6 x 6, oil
Although these are not considered traditional holiday colors, I find I am drawn to them this week--could it be because they are soothing and calming?
"Men cannot see their reflection in running water, only in still water"...Chuang Tzu (women too, Tzu)

December 8, 2007

(47) All Wrapped Up
6 x 8, oil
The box and the bow were both iridescent, not sure you can see that. An artist who paints lovely bows is Karen Appleton.
"Flow is being completely involved in an activity for its own sake.The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz".... Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

December 7, 2007

(46) Gingerbread Ornament
6 x 6, oil
This is an ornament made of felt, that my mom sewed and embellished with embroidery ( a favorite of mine).
As I painted this, I realized that I am close to posting 50 paintings, and so, I was pondering what I have learned so far, and (drum roll, please) the biggest lesson is that it is easier to let go. Let go, as in, give it your best shot, put down the truth of what you know TODAY, and walk away....detach from the outcome...Ok that is easy for most (maybe too easy for some), but once I take that photo, I am forced to stop tweaking and move choice, the photo writes it in stone.
I know artists who would never consider going back into their work because once you walk away, the chi is gone. The thinking is that you can't correct something because you can't begin at the place where you left off (mentally, emotionally, spiritually), simply because you can't retrieve yesterday--today. Then, there are artists who have things hanging on the walls for years and think nothing of taking them down and making changes once something new is learned. I have always felt that if it isn't exactly as I want it to be, it is never finished, never "good enough"...ouch, I feel like I need to lie down on a sofa and write somebody a check having said that, but, my point is (and there is a point) that the blog is a good thing for reasons I had never even considered. I had hoped to learn about edges, color, value, etc, but I have learned to detach from the outcome because it is the "process" that counts--that zen moment of showing up at the easel every day that I love about it...are you asleep yet? so sorry.
"A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song"...Maya Angelou

December 6, 2007

(45) Seeing Dots
6 x 8, oil
private collection

Gee, am I a glutton for punishment or what?...A glass ornament with dots in the foreground and in the distance, with light bouncing into the shadow, AND circular lines of color thrown in for good measure. What was I thinking? Oh, who am I kidding... I loved every single minute of it, but, the real question is, does it read as glass? I can no longer tell--I'm seeing dots.
"Don't wait for inspiration. It comes when one is working"...Henri Matisse

December 5, 2007

(44) Golden
6 x 6, oil
private collection
This ornament has a matte finish, different from the previous ones, so I wanted to try something new today.
"The lagoon of inspiration may be a material place or it may be a spiritual state of man...the inspiration comes with a spirit of creativity. The creativity comes when is present the moment of investigation and new decisions to investigate"...Yaroslaw Rozputnyak

December 4, 2007

(43) Playin' the Blues (and greens)
6 x 6, oil
private collection
Whew, if this were any more fun, I'd swear it was illegal.
"Muses work all day long and then at night get together and dance"...Edgar Degas

December 3, 2007

(42) Mini-Me
6 x 6, oil
private collection
This was fun--can you tell?
"When you go out to paint, try to forget what object you have before you--a tree, a house, a field or whatever. Merely think, here is a little square of blue, here an oblong of pink, here a streak of yellow; and paint it just as it looks to you, the exact color and shape, until it emerges as your own naive impression of the scene before you"...Claude Monet

December 1, 2007

(41) Pretty in Pink
6 x 8, oil
private collection
My parents gave this piggy bank to me when I was four years old--it is very old and fragile, and evokes favorite memories of childhood--and did I mention it was tons of fun to paint?
"Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up"...Picasso

November 30, 2007

(40) DJ's Elephant
private collection
6 x 8, oil
Today I went back to a wider value range, and (surprise) my subject is a carved wooden toy. My father-in-law brought this one back from a photo safari in Africa. I love all the colors that showed up in the beautifully carved wood-- they were there from the beginning, but I didn't really "see" them until I finished. I just concentrated on painting spots of color and when I stepped back, I realized this one just painted itself --I love it when that happens. It is very much akin to when you are driving down the highway and your mind wanders, and suddenly you realize you are miles closer to your destination without having concentrated on driving. Oh, that never happens to you?, ok, me either.
"Flow is simply the result of shifting from left brain to right brain work"...Steve Hovland

November 29, 2007

(39) Race car
6 x 8, oil
This is another of the wooden cars my dad carved, and another attempt at value organization. And speaking of values, check out my new friend Frank Gardner's blog. Frank is an accomplished artist living in Mexico, who graciously offers insight and tips on painting and will be featured in the Winter issue of Workshop Magazine (on sale Dec. 11th)! I look forward to hearing what he has to say about painting light and shadow.
"For those who know how to read, I have painted my autobiography"...Picasso

November 28, 2007

(38) Choo-Choo
6 x 8, oil
I love these old wooden toys. My goal for this low-key painting was the opposite of what I have done the last two days. I wanted to keep the lightest light no lighter than 5, and the darkest dark no darker than 8 (with 1 being white and 10 being black). I typically do not choose to paint low-key paintings, so it was a good learning exercise.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm"...Winston Churchill (just a little humor for a Wednesday)

November 27, 2007

(37) Wooden Truck
6 x 6, oil
My dad made this little truck for my children. It is the perfect subject for a little study. My goal was to keep the value range between 2 and 5 .
"To somehow let loose the bonds of everyday life, to close off the voices and let the creative spirit flow is the most rewarding side of creativity in any form" Jo-Scott

November 26, 2007

(36) Toys
6 x 6, oil
OK, the thing about taking a few days off is that I tend to have withdrawals. I found myself squinting at the cranberry sauce and asking myself how I would paint it (pathetic, I know). Anyway, it was good to take a break because it allowed me to look at the paintings from last month with a fresh eye, and I concluded that I need to focus more on value relationships (among other things). And, that realization brought me to one of my favorite painters on the planet: Peggi Kroll-Roberts. No one simplifies values as beautifully or eloquently as she does. I had the privilege of taking a workshop with her in Scottsdale, where one of the exercises was to paint a high-key painting allowing yellow ochre ( a midtone value) to be the "darkest dark" in the painting.
"Painting is just another way of keeping a diary"...Pablo Picasso

November 22, 2007

(35) Prince of Wales
6 x 8, oil
private collection
My dad loved gardening much like I love painting. He advised hopeful gardeners to focus on enjoying the process of gardening, and "avoid being discouraged by weeds, insects, grasses and dry weather, as they are a sure thing. As time goes by, you will learn a lot about nature". As I painted this, I realized that the same could be said about painting. There will always be challenges with values, color relationships, drawing, etc; but the best way to learn is by observing nature; that is, painting
directly from life.
"Working outdoors or from life puts you in direct contact with the life force, not just the light and the landscape, but also the vitality of the world around you"...plein-air master painter, George Carlson
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Today is my 30th day of posting a daily painting (woohoo!); I plan to celebrate by stepping away from the easel for a couple of days to enjoy time with family.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

November 21, 2007

(34) Lemon Tea
6 x 8, oil
private collection
When life gives you lemons, paint them. Or at least attempt to paint them, right?
"Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken"...Oscar Wilde

November 20, 2007

(33) Blue Cottage
6 x 8, oil
Continuing my yellow/blue theme, these pieces are part of a favorite "tea for one" set, made by Royal Winton. I really didn't plan to spend four weeks studying ellipses, but the more I study them, the more I realize there is so much more to learn.
This quote came to mind as I painted today: "I know that to paint the sea really well, you need to look at it every hour of every day in the same place so you can understand its way in that particular spot, and that is why I am working on the same motifs over and over again"....Claude Monet

November 19, 2007

(32) Reflections
6 x 8, oil
This was a fun challenge. I used a cool light in combination with a warm one, which makes the shadows more interesting. But it really gets interesting when the butter starts to melt from the heat of the warm light...
"Do not force solutions. Allow solutions to spontaneously emerge. Uncertainty is essential, and your path to freedom"...Deepak Chopra, defining the Law of Detachment.

November 18, 2007

(31) Darjeeling
6 x 8, oil
Early every morning, I make a pot of tea and sit down at the computer to read the day's email- and like many of you, I see the new blog painting with a fresh eye. And very often, I cringe. I find myself wishing areas were painted darker, lighter, warmer, cooler; or perhaps it is the accuracy of the drawing that is off. What was previously unnoticed is suddenly and painfully obvious. When I feel this way, this quote by Philip Guston reminds me that I am not alone: "I am a night painter, so when I come into the studio the next morning, the delirium is over. I come in very fearfully, creeping in to see what happened the night before. And the feeling is one of "My God, did I do that?". (never ceases to crack me up)

November 17, 2007

(30) Yellow Tomatoes
6 x 8, oil
As soon as I spotted these lovely tomatoes, I knew I had to paint them--"One need not travel the world for inspiration. If one is receptive, it meets them on the way"...S. Sandy

November 16, 2007

(29) Tea for Two
6 x 8, oil
private collection
...and two for tea, me for you and you for me...Tea parties are fun for all ages and sizes. And teatime is the perfect time to check out this thoughtful blogspot:
"Among those I like and admire, I can find no common denominator, but among those whom I love, I can: all of them make me laugh" poet W. H. Auden

November 15, 2007

(28) Teapot
6 x 8, oil
private collection
This was a great exercise in really seeing the form. The bounced light reflecting underneath the teapot was so bright, I had to remind myself that it was in shadow. The difference between the bounced light from the tablecloth and the light hitting the top of the teapot was very subtle, so I went back and forth comparing the two. A good rule in this case is to simplify: divide everything in the painting into two categories: light or shadow. Then adjustments to be made have to follow this rule: the lightest value of the shadow side must always remain darker than the darkest value of the light side...say it with me, the lightest get it--Painting is a push-pull adventure in planning, thinking, working, playing! Robert Henri said it best "A work of art is the trace of a magnificent struggle"

November 14, 2007

(27) Joaquin Sorolla
6 x 8, oil
private collection

This painting is of a beautifully illustrated book about the Spanish painter Sorolla, lovingly written by his great granddaughter, Blanca Pons Sorolla. He is known as the Painter of Light.
"There are two ways of spreading light--to be the candle, or the mirror reflecting it" ...Edith Wharton

November 13, 2007

(26) 1952, Baby!
8 x 6, oil
private collection
I love and adore this--it is a fashion advertisement from Charm Magazine, dated 1952. It reminds me of the gorgeous clothes Grace Kelly wore in Hitchcock's "Rear Window"-- back when women took fashion seriously, and would never dream of leaving the house without their hats and gloves....I know, I know...I was born in the wrong era where sweat pants are a fashion epidemic.
"I have two kinds of clothes: those that have paint on them--and those that WILL"...Ken Auster (ouch, so do I)

November 12, 2007

(25) Afternoon Tea
8 x 6, oil
private collection
This teacup and saucer are made by Georgia Pottery, fun to paint because it has a matt finish and the edges are uneven and imperfect. And, I love this shade of green.
"There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea"...Henry James

November 11, 2007

(24) Red Delicious
6 x 8, oil
Red Delicious apples always remind me of my dad. He often recounted fond memories of the fragrant and beautiful orchard where he grew up.
"Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God's handwriting"...R.W.Emerson

November 10, 2007

(23) Today I worked on a larger commissioned piece, so I chose to do this study as a warm-up--it was a suggestion by artist Kenn Backhaus for those of us who tend to overwork our paintings (yes, that's me!) and I decided to share it in case other artists out there want to give it a try. The idea is that you choose a simple object like an apple, paint it as you normally would, and count the number of brushstrokes it takes. Then, you paint it a second time, halving those brushstokes, and repeat the process twice more! Yikes--I started at 124 and ended with 15--it is tougher than it looks, but a great exercise forcing you to be mindful of each stroke. Pretty cool, huh?
By the way, THANK YOU all so much for the wonderful comments and questions I have received. I am humbled that so many of you have chosen to "tune in" to see what I am doing each day. I have been asked if it is okay to share the blog address with friends--yes, I am honored.
And, I have gotten a lot of positive feedback about the quotes I include each day. The truth is, I have collected them in sketchbooks for over a decade--a nerdy admission I know, but very much a part of who I am (and who I aspire to be!) And with that in mind..."Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication"...Leonardo da Vinci (so true, but not easy, as I discovered today)

November 9, 2007

(22) Degas Sketch
6 x 8, oil
private collection
Like most everyone, I adore this artist's paintings of dancers, but it is his sketches that blow me away. They are simple, yet elegant; the best kind of chi.
"Drawing is the artist's most direct and spontaneous expression, a species of writing: it reveals, better than does painting, his true personality"...Edgar Degas

November 8, 2007

(21) Royal Albert
6 x 8, oil
In case it is not obvious, I have enjoyed sticking with the same theme for a week at a time before switching to a new one. It is a fun and challenging way to see the same object from different perspectives. This week the theme is books, but I still managed to slip in a Royal Albert teacup. The values are wrong for this one, more evident now that I see it here... but that is part of the learning process.
Lady Nancy Astor said to Winston Churchill "Winston, if you were my husband, I'd poison your tea." Churchill replied "Nancy, if I were your husband, I'd drink it."