Thinking of Those Who’ve Gone Before

‘Women of my Past’   11″x 14″
Oil on canvas – May 18, 2018

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I’m grateful that physical objects can elicit such fond memories. The milk glass chicken was my grandmother’s, the spatula was my mom’s and the potato masher was my mother-in-law’s. I loved these women of my past.


Complementary Colors

‘Shadow Play’ #173   8″x 10″
Oil on canvas panel – April 18, 2018

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This time I wanted to focus on the complementary colors of red and green. I loved how the pink surface was reflected back onto the underside of the folds. This drawing took some effort to get right. Hopefully I’m getting better at drawing in preparation for the plein air season.

Purple and Blue

‘Cool Constructs’ #172   8″x 8″
Oil on canvas panel – April 15, 2018

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I used to create these when I was a girl to tell the fortunes of my friends. Today was a fun exercise using some of my favorite colors to better understand the properties of light and shadow.

Yellow, Orange, Blue

‘Fortune Teller’ #169   8″x 8″
Oil on canvas panel – April 10, 2018

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This painting represents a shift in my approach to art-making. When I first started painting four years ago I focused on trying to accurately copy my resource photo. It was a great way to learn about mixing color and handling paint. But after many experiences painting outdoors, I now prefer working from life. The subtleties of color and shadow are more apparent than what can be found in a photo. It also helps me to focus on my drawing, observational and composition skills.

I set up this still life in a designed experiment to explore light and shadow and how colors affect one another. Hopefully, this will deepen my understanding of value (light & dark), chroma (bright & neutral) and hue (warm & cool).

Delving into Color Study

‘Colors in my Palette’   10″x 10″
Oil on panel – April 13, 2018

I’m taking a step back for a bit to really understand the oil paint colors that I currently own. So, I created two grids. Any given square is a combination of the color at the very top and far left. The dot in the middle is those same two colors with white added to better see the resulting hue. This was incredibly painstaking, but also a highly instructive, way to become more familiar with the paints in my possession.

Fresh Off the Easel

‘Austin Rose’   8″x 8″
Oil on canvas panel – April 3, 2018

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I’ve been working lately to develop a personal style. Painting alla prima allows me to directly respond to the chosen subject without the fussy second-guessing and over-working that I tend towards. This one took about 1.5 hours and was sheer joy! Artists who can keep their original intent over many sittings amaze me. But for now, my plan is to focus on developing a visceral response to what I see. Always learning…

Purple Play

‘Polka Dot Crocs’   11″x 14″
Oil on canvas – March 18, 2018

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In an effort to stop working from reference photos, I set up these purple shoes on a sheet of yellow construction paper, with orange as the background. While my drawing skills could use honing, there’s an immediacy and personal interpretation that emerges when painting from life. The shoe shapes were curvy and wonky. The air-holes in the tops of the shoes inspired the polka dot pattern in the background.

It’s good to just have fun and play sometimes. And, no matter how unfashionable they may be, I love my Crocs!

Blue Chocolate?

‘Sprinkles’   8″x 8″
Oil on canvas panel – March 13, 2018

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The donuts looked so enticing when my son brought them over last Sunday. I couldn’t get over how blue the highlights were on the chocolate frosting. It must have been from the indirect light from the window of our north-facing kitchen. Either way, they just made me happy looking at them. Donuts get stale awfully fast, though. I ate the chocolate frosting off of the top!

Branching Out

‘Suffering Grandmas’   6″x 8″
Pencil Sketch – March 8, 2018

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It feels like I am teaching myself to how draw again. I did lots of it long ago but have fallen out of the habit. This grid system is a common way to transfer an image to another, larger surface. I started by overlaying a sheet of cellophane on a photo and dividing it into a grid. I then drew a larger version of the same grid in my sketchbook. When drawing, I simply worked on one box at a time, sometimes even turning it upside down so as to trick my brain into better perception of what was actually there.

The interesting result was that my feelings about these two suffering women somehow emerged in the drawing process and resulting sketch. That’s my husband’s grandmother Cecilia on the right and her mother Louisa on the left on the day of her husband Lawrence’s funeral. They had ten children over a period of 19 years. He was 58 years old when he died and she 49 on that day. I see so much grief and hard times in their faces, but also an abiding love between mother and daughter as they stand shoulder to shoulder.

Working from Life

‘Pepper Party’   8″x 8″
Oil on canvas panel – March 5, 2018

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Things are changing around here. I’ve had a shift in thinking about how I want to paint going forward. I am determined to paint from real life instead of photos. I bought a sketchbook and have been trying to sketch every day as a way to explore subject matter and determine its worthiness as a potential painting.

So, I arranged these peppers on the dining room table on top of a black T-shirt. First, I sketched them in my sketchbook. It helped me to work out the shapes and values, while also think about composition and color. Then I painted it in two sittings. On the second day, I noticed the peppers beginning to decay. The stems curled up and the skin started to pucker.

It was a great exercise in hand-eye coordination. Not only did I feel more engaged with the subject matter, but I also felt freer in playing with colors.