Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Three Little Birds

Mama Cardinal, 6"x6", Oil on Board
Baby Jay, 6"x6", Oil on Board
Gold Finch, 6"x6", Oil on Board
These little bird studies began through photography.  I was experimenting with a new camera's zoom and capturing birds in an almost fluid manner.  I was intrigued by both the amount of expression that was able to come through the eyes and the movement of the space.  From there I approached the idea of painting them quickly, expressively with the goal of creating a space that also appeared as fast and energetic as the photo.  I wanted the space around the birds to have an air of movement and time.  

Saturday, December 6, 2014


Alberto Giacometti, “Head of Diego on ‘La Psychanalyse'” 
There is a very good online 'zine, Hyperallergic, which published a piece today on The New 
York Studio School's exhibit of Alberto Giacometti's drawings.  I've always enjoyed Giacometti's works.  They are so dense, yet clear.  Once, when touring a cave and observing the stalagmites, I commented on their Giacometti-like appearance.  A man near me misunderstood, laughed and said to his wife, "she thinks they look like chocolate bunnies."  I guess not all cave visitors are culturally literate.  Now, every time I see a Giacometti, I say, "Look. There is a chocolate bunnie."  There is a quote from Giacometti, “The more one works on a picture the more impossible it becomes to finish it.” that I relate to.  This phenomenon is becoming self evident with Lilacs. More of Giacometti's work can be seen at Artsy.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Lilacs in the Mist

Lilacs in Mist, 17" x 24.5", Oil on Board

I'm still not convinced the lilacs are prominent enough.  I added some details to the background to clarify the space.  Slow, slow, slow going.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


Lilacs,  17" x 24.5", Oil on Board

I've returned to this painting after spending time on a smaller lilac painting and 3 small bird paintings.  It is tedious work on the leaves.  They are small and complexly interlocked.

Friday, August 29, 2014


Lilacs, Oil on Board, 12x12"
Well, here it is the end of August, and I've finished the small paintings.  Even with that, I may need to refine some areas.  The very center leaf may be too bright and undefined.  Also, need to oil out to enrich the colors.

Thursday, August 14, 2014


Lilacs, Oil on Board, 12" x12"
I see from the last posting that I haven't been keeping a running account of daily progress.  When I first began strictly using Dioxin purple it looked very gray juxtaposed next to the magenta.  Now that the magenta is completely covered, the purple appears more chromatic.   There is more to be done with the blossoms before returning to the leaves.  

Sunday, July 27, 2014


Lilacs, Oil on Board, 12" x12"

Lilacs, Morning Mist, Oil on Board, 
I'm working between both these.  

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Lilac Blossoms

Lilac Blossoms, Oil on Board, 14"x14"
I began this small intimate painting while waiting for my larger and more expansive lilac painting to dry a bit.  This is the wash only but already I can see that cooler green is preferable choices in the larger piece.  And, the very frontal nature of the composition creates more spaces, i.e., near, middle and far grounds. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Addison Grace

Perfect Game, 10.5" x 6.5", Mixed Media
Sweet Addison Grace, my 11 year old great niece, pitched a perfect game this week in the Arkansas state softball tournament.  Now state champs, they are off to Regionals in Dumas, TX.  Go Firecrackers!

Monday, June 23, 2014


Lilacs,  24.5" x 17", Oil on Board 
Everything is basically in place.  Now I can refine and determine the colors and values.  There are currently 3 different hues on the blossoms.  I will probably use the color from the bottom left blossom.  The top blossom is too violet and the other are too magenta.  I also need to take out the area in the sky to the left.  It looks dirty rather than like foliage.  I still haven't decided if I will stay with the yellow green leaves.  I may simply use a silver tone.  

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


Lilacs, 24.5" x 17", Oil on Board 
Today I began to see how some of the leaves will be in the foreground and act as a compositional tool to lead the viewer toward the blossoms.  I also realize that I prefer a really deep, dark ground against the plants, creating an unknown and ambiguous space, a sort of push and pull between what is leaf and what is ground. Also, not so sure about the diagonal created by the bush and the ground against the sky.

Monday, June 16, 2014


Lilacs,  24.5" x 17", Oil on Board
I'm still struggling with determining the proper greens to use.  The lilac leaves are a cool blue green. But when the sun shines through them they take on a yellow tint.  Two problems arise, 1) mixing a green that is yellow without being murky and 2) seeing if that color rings true for a lilac in the painting.  

Saturday, June 14, 2014


Lilacs, 24.5" x 17", Oil on Board

I lightened the sky today.  Still not certain if that will be the end of it.  Other than continuing refining the leaves, I also tried a new color base for the lilacs.  It will be hard to know until more area is covered if this color will pop enough.  

Friday, June 13, 2014


Lilacs, 24.5" x 17", Oil on Board
The sky is much too gray and dark.  I'm after a spring morning mist.  What once appeared violet now looks murky and gray.  I saw an excellent online video from the World Science Festival and sponsored by of the Alan Alta Flame Project.  All About Color  features 3 neuroscientists, one of whom is also a painter, explaining how the eye and brain process color.  One of the lectures addresses how color is relevant to its surroundings.  This is what happened to the once beautiful misty violet that became a murky gray once the green leaves pronounced themselves.

Sunday, June 8, 2014


Lilacs, Oil on Board
All the white is covered and the violet seems too dark now.  I keep thinking of Lincoln and Whitman.
When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom’d,
And the great star early droop’d in the western sky in the night,
I mourn’d, and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring.

Ever-returning spring, trinity sure to me you bring,
Lilac blooming perennial and drooping star in the west,
And thought of him I love.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


Lilacs, Oil on Board
The lilacs have yet to make their appearance here.  They are in full bloom in the garden.  

Geraniums Redux

Geraniums, 2014, 16 3/4" x 24 1/2", Oil on Board

Geraniums, 2013, 16 3/4" x 24 1/2", Oil on Board
This is the second painting I have recently revamped.  This time I redid the composition, completely eliminating the marsh and am not sure it is better. I keep imagining just cutting the entire thing into separate paintings.  You may see this again.  

Monday, May 26, 2014

Highbush Blueberry in Winter

Highbush Blueberry, Winter, 2011, 34" x 24", Oil on Board

Highbush Blue Berry in Winter, 2014, 34"x24", Oil on Board

Blue is not necessarily the coolest color.  After recently seeing Childe Hassam's painting of Boston Common at Twilight I realized that I was going about this painting all wrong.  The blue just simply wasn't making the orange tree pop like it should.  

Cherry Blossoms

Cherry Blossoms, 10"x10", Oil on Board
The cherry blossoms have now all fallen to the ground, replaced by tender green leaves.  The lilacs are in full bloom as are the Kousa dogwood.  And I have a blank canvas waiting for my decision.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Cherry Blossoms

Cherry Blossoms, 12" x 12", Oil on Board
I've opened up the composition by adding some sky.  The lower left seemed a bit heavy and pulled the eye too much.  

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Cherry Tree

Cherry Blossoms, 12" x 12", Oil on Board

I've been thinking a lot about Vermeer; how he had an assistant to grind his paints.  I found an old tube of Rose Madder which was complete dried out.  With a little linseed oil and palette knife work, I've been able to use it.  

Friday, April 11, 2014

Cherry Blossoms

Cherry Blossoms, 12" x 12", Oil on Board
In a nod to spring and the Cherry Blossom Festival of DC, today I began a small painting of cherry blossoms.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Geraniums Redux

I've chosen once more to revisit a finished painting.  When I completed this last fall, I asked several people if they understood the context of the geraniums.  Or, if they were bothered by not knowing where the viewer was.  Since there were no objections to the composition or point of view, I considered it complete.  When I checked later at the gallery, the feed back had been that viewers questioned the setting asking why the landscape was behind the geraniums.  With it sitting in the gallery unsold for over 6 months, I brought it home to reconsider.  

Monday, March 31, 2014

Highbush Blueberry, Winter

Highbush Blueberry, 34"x24", Oil on Board
I worked a lot on the small stems and snow in the sky,  My next decision is to determine how dense to make the small bushes in the bottom.  

Friday, March 28, 2014

Back in the Studio with Highbush Blueberry

Highbush Blueberry Winter, 34" x 24" Oil on Board (2011)
Highbush Blueberry Winter, 34" x 24", Oil on Board

I returned to my studio this week after 2 months away.  I found myself completely dry of ideas and decided to rework High Bush Blueberry, Winter.  This was the 3rd in the series of the high bush that I see on my walk through the woods.  I've been dissatisfied with this painting since calling it finished.  I could never get the bush to glow against the blue like I thought it should.  Recently, I was at the Boston MFA and looked again at Childe Hassam's Boston Common.  His use of oranges and yellows on a snowy day inspired me to rethink my palette.  I'm so surprised how much more the burnt sienna and umber of the bush actually pop against the oranges and reds than against their compliments.  I will continue along with this change, and post the results when done.
Meanwhile, I checked in at Roger's Gallery to discover that my Hydrangeas had just sold.  I brain-stormed with Ruthie and Carol about future paintings and came away with a refreshed enthusiasm.  As my teacher, Reginna Granne always advised, "just go into the studio 20 minutes a day and work will come."

Friday, February 7, 2014


Coleus, Watercolor on Arches, 10"x10"
This piece was begun in a watercolor class I'm taking at the Anna Maria Island Art League.  The first class was so disappointing I almost didn't return to the second.  The teacher is, well, no teacher.  For a 2 hour class he was 15 minutes late, took another 30 to arrange the most ridiculous items for painting, then moved them well into the drawing period, and spent the final 40 MINUTES circling the class showing pictures of his own work from his cell phone.  He did not demonstrate one thing, did not assign any exercised, talked over anyone who began to express a goal.  
When I returned this week I encountered 2 women from the class hastily arranging tables and setting up some control over the class.  They, too, had complained and had similar problems with the class.  The teacher moved the plant to a totally different view point and then told each person their view of the leaves was off.  OY!  We all kept saying, "but you moved the plant."  
I just searched for color and value.  But what I wanted was to learn techniques that would leave the painting translucent, sparkling, wet looking.  He was no help at all.  So, I'm ending up with a very opaque rather boring painting.  I actually have found more help on youtube.  

Monday, January 27, 2014

Anna Maria Hibiscus

Anna Maria Hibiscus, Gouache on Arches, 7"x6"

Other than quick washes in a sketchbook, I have not worked in watercolor for years.  I'm interested in developing wc skills because I want to work in color when we travel.  This piece is done with gouache, though, because I thought it might suit my oil painting habits.  Tomorrow I am taking a class in watercolor to understand better how to maintain a palette, how to develop color with washes without turning the paper to rubbish and how to maintain that wet, glistening quality.  Recently I saw Sargent's watercolors at the MFA.  They were so similar in both technique and surface that I thought gouache might just be the medium for me.  

Friday, January 3, 2014


Hydrangeas, Oil on Board, 12"x12"
I've been bothered for some time with the two blossoms that sit directly above the center and a little to the right.  They just feel too big, too close to the center blossom.  They seem to throw off the balance and unity of the piece.  To address that a bit I added leaves around them.  I'm still not sure they should belong. Below is a version edited in PhotoShop to see other options.