November 26, 2009


(8 x 8, oil on canvas)
For each new morning with its light,

For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food,
For love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends"... Ralph Waldo Emerson

November 19, 2009

Winter White

(8x10) oil on canvas
I love poinsettias, especially the ivory ones. My southern neighbors have the advantage of growing them in their own flower gardens. Unfortunately, some folks feel the need to "dress them up" at Christmas by adding glitter or dying them different colors (yikes!); but aren't they most lovely just as nature made them?
"In seed time learn
in harvest teach,
in winter enjoy"...William Blake

November 14, 2009

At Large

"You will understand that I limited myself to simple colors, ocher, cobalt and Prussian blue, Naples yellow, sienna, black and white...I refrained from choosing 'nice' colors"...Vincent Van Gogh

I had never read this quote before, but I love learning what colors other artists "can't do without" and I immediately wanted to try his palette in order to see what he saw. Used to mixing with my lively orange-red, cad red light, my first thought is "where is his red?" but then I see sienna (a sad substitute for red in my world), and I realize that "red" is actually in several of his muted opaque colors as well...I know that pigments have changed over the years so I did a little research and discovered that the ochers and siennas were even more opaque when Van Gogh used them in the 1800s. Cobalt blue came into existence in 1804 and, along with Prussian blue (a warmer blue that was accidentally discovered), both are semi-transparent colors. Naples yellow is and was a warm yellow (meaning that it also has red in it), but was formally heavily (and dangerously) leaded. And because they can be warm, cool, transparent, semi-transparent or opaque, I'm left to ponder "which black" did he use?...and don't even get me started on the different whites. Oh! and the Cadmiums were not even introduced until the 20th century, giving way to transparencies 19th century painters could only have dreamt about as they attempted to thin down their opaques. Personally I think Vincent would have loved my cad red light...or would he have dismissed it as too 'nice'? Sigh...yes, folks, THIS is just the sort of thing that keeps me awake at night as I attempt to solve this splendid puzzle and mix his colors in my head. Hopeless, I know.

November 9, 2009

Brisk November

(346) More irresistible fall colors on every many paintings-to-be, and so little time before the leaves are gone...
“Change is as inevitable as rain in the spring. Some of us just put on our raincoats and splash forward.”... Amy Bloom

November 5, 2009

quick studies

I just returned from a figure painting workshop with Kim English. Unfortunately, he does not have a website, but you can see his paintings here. I have studied with Kim before; absolutely LOVE his work. His method of teaching is quite different from most instructors: no formal lectures, no lengthy demos. Instead, he asks students to paint quick studies where the model changes poses every 5-10 minutes. At first it seems impossible, but with premixed colors, you get into a rhythm of painting that allows you to move into a comfort zone where details and noodling are not allowed. Heck, THINKING isn't even allowed. No time! Just lay it down, wipe it off, do another one.. .or another ten as the case may be... Kim believes that the best poses are the natural ones that models fall into when they are comfortable, so he avoids formally posing them, explaining that it is more interesting for them to "tell their story" not his. And when there are two models, he encourages them to interact with each other instead of remaining perfectly still. It is quite different from the static poses most life drawing classes require--and tons more fun. While I wiped dozens of studies off, there were a few (included here) that he felt captured the essence of the assignment, and so he instructed me to save them for reference. In other words, about 99% of the studies were not worthy of saving in my case, but that's not the point. It is the process of seeing and capturing fleeting moments that you are after--if you have never tried it, challenge yourself! Set a timer. Better yet, set up your easel at a park, a university, an outdoor restaurant-anywhere that you can observe people being themselves coming and going, and practice painting quick gestures. Sure your models may get up and walk away right in the middle of your "perfect" painting, but that's okay. Another will soon take her is great practice if you need to get out of your comfort zone, get out of your head, and loosen up your brushstrokes. The only "rule" is to avoid details; instead look for shapes, values and gesture. Oh and, make the painting be about what the people are doing instead of striving for an exact likeness. It is guaranteed to energize your work! And you!
"Painting the moment is like stopping the clock at the split second of truth. It's out of time, fleeting, yet eternal. That's why I paint quickly, to capture the essence of a moment before it disappears"...Kim English

November 2, 2009

through the trees

8 x 10 oil on canvas
“The artist is not a different kind of person, but every person is a different kind of artist"...Eric Gill