We Learn by Taking Risks

‘A Box of Beauty’   16″x 16″
Oil on panel – May 9, 2017


This painting reflects my current struggle to balance loosening up vs. attending to necessary detail. Each painting has its own learning curve. It took three sittings to create this one and at each stage I wanted to stop and say it’s good enough (for fear of really screwing up the next time). But I was determined to fully pursue the learning process, so forged ahead.  When mixing colors for white roses in the reference photo didn’t work out as planned, creative license was a convenient excuse—ha! Maybe somehow it worked. What do you think? I’ve decided to go with this recent affinity for purples and oranges.

Learning Comes in Bursts

‘Feeling Frisky’   9″x 12″
Oil on panel – April 13, 2017

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I was delighted by the photo that inspired this painting. It captured Dasher, one of my favorite cats, in a playful catnip mood. This one took three sittings over the period of about a month. It was difficult to keep continuity with my original inspiration when the span between each sitting was so long. This confirms my conclusion that painting more is better! I enjoyed painting the decorative background. It adds interest to just another cat painting.

Here’s a quote paraphrased from Art and Fear, by David Bayles & Ted Orlando

“The painting teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality. Come grading time, a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the quantity group was busily  churning out piles of work—and learning from their mistakes—the quality group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of blank canvases.”

A Spontaneous Explosion of Color

‘A Riot of Roses’   10″x 10″
Oil on panel – April 28, 2017

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I really wanted to capture the bright and cheerful pinks of these roses. Didn’t do much careful drawing or planning for this composition—just started applying paint and letting my creativity flow. Instead of striving for realism, I played with brush strokes and the balance of hues and tones. Although I see room for improvement, this one makes me smile.

Fresh and Sweet

‘Mountains of Orange’   12″x 9″
Oil on panel – April 27, 2017

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In this painting, I strove to portray the translucency and moisture of these orange wedges. I pretended they were enormous mountains as I was painting them, which added to the fun. Can you imagine somebody rappelling down the side or climbing up the ridge of one of these? Perhaps I’ll play with this idea a bit more. Loved working with these orange and purple colors!

It’s Okay to Play

‘Purple Play’   5″x 5″
Oil on canvas panel – March 24, 2017

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I decided to just play with leftover paint from the previous session. Using a small canvas panel and a big brush, I applied the paint thickly and boldly… and then did not fuss with it! It took about five minutes from start to finish and was a freeing feeling. I chose the colors quickly, trying to stick with purples—my favorite color. The yellow and whites were added to balance the composition.

The whole experience inspired me to resolve to use fewer brushstrokes going forward and to make each one count. I believe the viewer can feel either your exuberance or your tedious labor by observing the brushstrokes.


Itching for Spring

‘Posing Poseys’   12″x 12″
Oil on masonite panel – March 24, 2017

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I felt like painting brightly colored flowers in the hopes that Spring weather will arrive soon. The reference photo came from an Instagram floral designer @lavendersflowers. As I worked on this one, it struck me that I’ve not really painted many floral arrangements. My initial session started out fresh and colorful. The second session got dull and difficult. I was finally able to brighten it all up on the third session, spending about six hours in all. It was a good lesson in composition and mixing colors with the desired dark or light tone.

For some reason it seems as if these flowers are posing for a formal event. The painting style seems more traditional as well. I’ll try to present a fresher interpretation next time!

Brilliant Winter Sunset

‘Twilight at the Lake’   5″ x 5″
Acrylic on panel – March 17, 2017


Here’s another one with strong colors. It’s been so cold and gray here lately that I just wanted to feel some warmth. Working with these pinks and oranges was such fun. This is from a friend’s photo of the view from their lake house in Michigan. I strove to capture the serenity of the moment.

Finally Back to Painting Again

‘Winter at the Arboretum’   5″ x 5″
Acrylic on panel – March 13, 2017

It’s been a couple of weeks since I last painted, so just wanted to play a bit—this time with acrylics instead of oil paints. With this small painting, I tried to stay loose and let the orange under painting show through. The colors are also much more intense than the reference image.

It’s difficult to get back in the groove after not painting for so long, so I’ve vowed to paint more often from now on!

Sunlight and Shadows

‘Pacific Blue’   12″ x 24″
Oil on panel – February 18, 2017


I was fascinated with how the color of the water changed in sunlight vs. shadow, far away vs. near, deep vs. shallow, as well as when it washed up on the sand.

Decatur, Illinois

‘Staley Processing Plant’   2″ x 2.5″
Oil on panel – February 11, 2017


Grey day in a gray town in a gray mood. I probably should’ve mixed the colors even duller. Wanted to try this one to prove to myself that there is rich fodder for painting subjects, no matter where you are. Had a fun time doing it, though! Interestingly, a security guard came over to find out what I was up to (suspicious painter in the parking lot).