Wednesday, December 16, 2009

So Nice To Sign A Work

The title does not bely exactly the feelings I have when I sign a work. It's actually more like panic, haha! Like, am I sure I have no more to say with this painting? The panic usually gives way to a sense of completion but rarely is it one of glee or a state of celebration. I don't know why that is. When you finish a project, don't you immediately want to go out and celebrate? The signed piece is the "360 Bridge", 30x48" impasto oil on canvas. It was a commissioned piece and I keep wondering why he's content with the title since this bridge has been named Pennybacker Bridge. Perhaps, like me, he's used to calling it the 360 Bridge. Just like Town Lake is Town Lake and not Lady Bird Lake and MoPac is rarely referred to as Loop 1. Gotta love Austin for its ambiguity. I thought I'd include a photo of a work STILL in progress. "Storm Wave" is going slowly, but I don't mind since I'm enjoying painting large swaths of color with my palette knife and scraping off areas to reveal the color underneath. It's been nearly pure pleasure to do this one and I think I'll miss it most of all when it's done. When I sign it, I will KNOW that it's done because the canvas won't accept another bit of paint, haha! No, seriously, for some reason I just know that the next time I pick up a palette knife and work on this painting will be the last time as well. Time to move on and I can't wait to tackle the next one!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Updates on Work

I am still working on the 360 Bridge, but this week is its last in my possession. I will add one more car to the bridge because it is bugging me to have all the focus on just the two. I'll paint the sides and then it's wiring and varnishing time and off to its new home. "Pond" is in its new home. It sold at the Maranda Pleasant Gallery Holiday Art Box Show on Saturday, December 5th. "Potholes" is hanging in the juried 12 Buy 12 Show at Austin Art Space and was used in the ad in the arts section of the December issue of Austin Monthly. It's the "Cool" issue, and that was my reaction when I saw that my piece was one of only 4 used in that ad. I have started and finished another painting in the 12x12 format. It's from my hubby's hike to Devil's Hole at Inks Lake State Park. There are tons of rocks, big boulders, so I didn't make the trek this year.The water was running like crazy after some great rainstorms this past Fall, which has been a rarity the past few years. Made for some great inspirational photos for me!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

360 Bridge and Pond Update

Here's the latest on the 360 Bridge. I'm nearly ready to include cars...if I decide that that is what it needs. It could also have a boat being loaded on a trailer. We shall see. I don't think I'll work on this until I get back from visiting my mom. It's good to let paintings sit and percolate without the daily viewing that mine get, sitting in the dining room. This second one is a 12x12" that I started yesterday. It's of a small body of water, like a pond, near the waterfall at Devil's Watering Hole at Inks Lake State Park. I didn't get tight and define the rocks underneath the water, even though I was gaining my inspiration for the subject from a John Singer Sargent painting of a pond with underwater rocks. The format is too small for much detail with a knife.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Potholes and 360 Bridge

A friend of mine reminded me that I've been lax in posting, so here's the latest on my work in progress, 360 Bridge, and my finished one, Potholes. We just got back from 4 days of camping, so I don't have much time to go back and find earlier versions of the bridge in its progress. But there will be plenty more, I can assure you! I was so inspired by the light on the trees at Inks Lake, that I think there will be a painting that takes precedence over the storm wave. I would have painted out there, but people all arrived at different times, so there was really no alone time. I may have to go back if I can't remember that tree well enough with the photos I took. I took them from shore and from my boat.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


I just looked at my last post and realize just how much I loved the initial sketching in of the storm wave. It looks nothing like that now, because I'd gotten ahead of myself and brought the values up too soon. What I have now is nearly all middle values and the process will be to slowly bring up the values so that the light looks like stormy weather is approaching. I hope I'll love it. I worked on the Potholes with my new paints and am in love with them! They're nearly all translucent which makes for some lovely layers of paint. This piece is becoming a favorite of mine, but is destined for a show at Austin Artspace, which means it will probably sell if it makes it through the jury process. People buy at those shows and 12x12 is a reasonable size for most folks. I'm learning to not get too attached to what I'm working on. I should just enjoy the process. I also have finished the painted sketch of the 360 Bridge. That is going to be one really fun painting! Can't wait! I finally had some sun today, so I got a better photo of "Vieux Lyon" and a final photo of "S. Padre Sand Dune II", since that is also finished. Hooray! My very talented brother, Ski, is thinking of creating an artist's website for me. I'm looking forward to that and hope that him hitching his wagon to my "star" will be profitable for him (and me). Enough for a good bottle of wine at least!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Updated Photos To Come

We've had rain and overcast skies for days, so it's not all that easy to get photos of what I've been working on. I think Wednesday is supposed to be nice, so I'll try again. I will just do a short update on the S. Padre Sand Dune II (30x40), since I've worked on it since this photo and consider it done. Just need to sign it and photograph it. I've started 3 new paintings since my last post: The 360 Bridge (a commissioned piece), a small (12x12) abstract painting of an area in S. Africa called the Potholes, and a huge storm wave (30x40)! They're all fun, all compelling and all exhausting to work on. I'm in my element!

Friday, September 25, 2009

What's Goin' On!

We had over a week of cloudy days and some rain, so this was the first that I've been able to photograph anything I've been working on. No great loss, I'm sure, but I like to document the changes. And have there been changes! The Lyon painting now is sporting some windows when originally I wanted to make that aspect of the buildings very understated. I'm not totally happy with them and know there's more to do to get precise on the perspective. Probably why I'm exhausted at painting studio sessions. I don't like Geometry. The S. Padre Sand Dune II is coming along. I'm being very playful with the hues of the sand and wonder if it's a little too outrageous against the more traditional colors of the foliage and sky. I'm sure it is. Enjoy anyway!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009


My sister-in-law's brother is coming to Austin this weekend to visit friends, so I invited him to drop by and check out my studio gallery and, if they have room, take a painting back home to my brother. Don't know if the latter will happen, but it's okay because I often go visit in November and can take it then. I am happy that he's coming to see my cool new space, though, and am also happy that I'm finally making good on my intention to paint his two long haired Daschunds. I think they turned out okay. I made the mistake of signing the painting instead of letting it sit a day, so had to go back today and do a red-violet glaze over all the lights so that they pop instead of looking chalky. That's the mistake of using white to lighten a color instead of just making a more intense lighter shade. The background was another issue because I had used white to lighten my yellow ochre and it looked awful and pastel-y today. I spent more time than I'd planned, putting in a few greens and browns, then scraped most of it off. Went over that with a cad red light and yellow ochre, scraped most of that off and pretty soon, I had a nice texture happening because of all the scrapings, so I did a glaze of cad red light, yellow ochre and a touch of white and feel like it can stand as a background now. [Update: the next day, the background and foreground looked too similar and lacked depth, so I worked on it again!] Having seen the error of my ways, when it comes to trying to match colors exactly to photos, I decided to mix Alizarin Crimson with a touch of black and used that where the darkest darks you can see the definition in the eye area! Such a simple thing, but so effective. [NP]I am also still working on the Lyon street scene in painting studio night. It's been such a big lesson on light and reflections. And using colors that I sure wouldn't have chosen on my own for interpreting atmosphere and light. It is a lot more magical than if I'd been left to my own devices, which makes me happy and yet sad. I thought I was moving ahead, but realize that what I would have chosen to do with this subject is so much less fantastic than what my teacher has guided me with his suggestions to do. So much less.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Painting Light

I have my painting teacher to thank for this looking okay. He reminded me that what I'm trying to paint is LIGHT and not things, so painting the local color was taking me down the wrong path. The sand dune one is what I'm working on at home and again, painting the light is what I'm about.

Monday, August 24, 2009

"S. Padre Sand Dune II"

I had a wonderful party of very creative people at my house last Thursday night. The next morning I woke up with an unbearable urge to go to S. Padre. I knew that wasn't feasible, because they expect you to pay for your hotel room and food, so I started a new painting...S. Padre Sand Dune II. When we were down at Padre this summer, I took a whole range of pictures of the sand dune I stared at every day. So, rather than do the same exact composition (I just don't think that's right), I looked through all my shots and settled on another composition that pleases me and worked on blocking it in on Friday. All the lessons learned from the earlier painting will be helpful this time and maybe the painting will flow easily and much quicker than the 17 hours the first one took. At any rate, I know it will be fun.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Lyon is started

S. Padre Sand Dune is in a new home as of yesterday, so last night it was good to start a new painting that I already am enamoured of. It's from my daughter's visit to Lyon, France last summer. The photo has been calling to me all this time and finally I feel ready to do this painting. It's only 24x30", which is a nice relief from the big pieces I've been lugging up and down the stairs. I'm not terribly fond of the canvas, though. It's a gallery wrap, but the edges are rounded so a palette knife goes off into nothingness instead of hitting the curved edge which leaves a bit of white along the edges. Learned my lesson and won't use this canvas with palette knives again. I like how the blocking in is shaping up. It's my plan to keep doing paintings with a long block in time so that I don't get hung up on details (hard to do with a palette knife anyway). I have just finished reading "Julie and Julia" and saw the movie last week. My husband and I typically go to our favorite little French bistro for our anniversary, so my life lately is tinged with French, buttered with Francais, bubbling with the feeling of champagne in my anticipation of this painting and more paintings to come. Au Revoir, Constance

Friday, August 07, 2009

The Sand Dune is Done!

"S. Padre Sand Dune" 2009 oil on canvas 30x40 I've enjoyed every second of this painting. Maybe it's because I chose a composition of something that I enjoyed looking at for an entire week and it reminds me of the lovely time I had there. I do think that good paintings come from that enjoyment. I think one can become more immersed in work that is compelling and the Muse tends to stick around longer when one is having a good time.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

How I Miss The Beach!

This painting is a nice reminder of our time at the beach. The beach is on the Gulf of Mexico side of the island, which means that it faces east. Most of the time, my chair was facing the water, but if I wanted sun on my face in the late afternoon, I'd turn my chair around and this would be my view. Well, nearly. I need to work on the grasses, which are just blocked in right now, and warm up the beach a little more from where I toned it down Tuesday night. It's a lovely dance, keeping all the tones and values in relation to one another.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

2nd Night

I knew the sky color was wrong and shouldn't have left it, but working on it last night was a lesson on getting things right. I grayed it up quite a bit and now it looks like a more natural atmospheric sky for the beach. I also grayed up the shadows and beach, adding warms where the sun hits it the most. It was a magical night of palette knifing, with most of it spent mixing piles of paint!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Loving the Blocking In

I started a new painting last night of a sand dune I watched all week long at S. Padre. In the late afternoon, the sun was low enough to make some great shadows and entice me into thinking I could paint them. I spent almost 3 hours last night at studio painting session, blocking it in. Not finished with the block in, but it already has a nice feel to it. And I love that it's another big canvas, 30x40", which works so well for using a palette knife. I've got a friend wanting to commission a really big painting of the Pennybacker Bridge. The subject matter sounds like fun; I just don't know what size to go for. My idea of big may not be his idea, so there will be some sorting out of the format and size. He's not been known to stay anywhere more than a couple of years, so a really large painting becomes a bit of an albatross when you have to pack it and haul it wherever you go. Which had me thinking that I might suggest doing it as a triptych so it's 1)easier to move and 2) can be hung seperately in different spaces if he moves to a place with smaller wall space. That would just be more challenging for me to do three complete paintings that can stand on their own. I might need another easel to keep all the works together. This is sure sounding like fun!!!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Getting Behinder and Behinder

June seems to be a month of catching up, but I got a little painting done in there. I had a nice three days to concentrate on the Hibiscus and then had to let it sit. Am still not convinced that I like the background; wish I had Photoshop so I could see what it looks like with a very out of focus background. I think that has to be my next art related purchase. I have been working on West Cave Preserve, during my studio sessions at Noel Robbins' studio, and I believe that I'm done! I don't even think that I'll compare it to earlier versions for fear that I'll second guess myself on bringing in all the warm tones that I did last night. I just feel the light better now that it's warmer.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Yeah, Yeah, I Know

I was sitting in the hot tub today, squinting at the trees in my yard and way across the street, and knew that the problem with my background is that I've not gotten it light enough. But, since I tend to work in layers, dark to light, maybe that was my intent more than three weeks ago when I last painted on it. I should make notes.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

West Cave Preserve

This is slowly getting the depth of field that I wanted. The main thing that inspired me to do this painting was the light, so I have to work at getting the light on the ground brighter and lighter. I think the contrast is okay elsewhere, but am willing to work as slowly as I have to to really see what's going on with the composition.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Hibiscus Sure Is Colorful!

I worked on this for a few hours (palette knife) and may not get to it again for a while. My daughter is moving to Brownsville for 10 weeks and I am caught up in her preparations. In the late afternoon sun, in my dining room, the colors in this are soooo vibrant! It's definite eye candy.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Hibiscus is Bloomin' Fun!

The blocking in of this painting is still a lot of fun. I'm trying very hard not to get into detail yet, but sometimes it appears just from the change in value/color on some of the leaves. I already changed the composition by getting rid of a big patch of white sky on the upper right. The pool might be next, or maybe just the patio whiteness that is so distracting. I have so much green in this painting that it is nice to have a little bit of something breaking it up, but right now it's battling with the hibiscus for viewers' attention. The West Cave Preserve painting is also slow going, but I'm okay with that. As long as there is positive direction each week, I consider that important progress. Both paintings are being done with palette knife and fun! What's not fun is the pain in my hip which will start to limit my painting sessions in the next year or two, until I get another hip replacement. I bet you thought only big dogs had Hip Displasia...little women can have it, too, as I found out. It eventually causes arthritis in the joint because it has too much pressure hitting too little area. It's not life threatening, but does impinge on my quality of life when it gets to the bone on bone stage.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Studio Painting and Finished Painting

I just realized that I haven't put up the finished version of Aloe Flowers. And, I started a new painting for working at Noel Robbins' studio (West Cave Preserve) from a photo of trees that my daughter, Sami, took. She takes some lovely dramatic shots that I appreciate so much!

Starting A Fun One

Last week, my brother Ski sent me a few photos of an hibiscus in his yard that I could use for inspiration. I absolutely loved how open and lush this bloom was and felt it needed a big canvas to express how fun it was. Fortunately, I had taken advantage of a sale at Aaron Bros. a while back and had a 36x36x2" canvas just waiting for something this strong and vibrant. I'm still blocking in, but of course can't help but use my paintbrush to describe the shapes and lines within the shapes, so it's developing form already. Fun!!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Mother's Day Painting

Howdy Fellow Painters! Just thought I'd share this little painting I did for my mother for Mother's Day. It's actually from a photo she took of some tulips last year. I was going through some old emails and came upon the photo and the light just spoke to me, so I figured it would be a wonderful tribute to her artistic photo if I were to paint it for her. My back-up plan, if the painting refused to cooperate with me in time for Mother's Day, was to do a really good print of her photo and mat and frame it for her. That would actually be a better tribute to her work, but this painting needed to be painted. You know how that is? Sometimes the subject just won't let you alone until you do something with it. I'm a little surprised at how it turned out. I've been working with a palette knife so much that I expect something rather painterly with everything I do. This has much more the look of something by Andrew Wyeth (out the window) and "I don't know who" in the foreground, but I don't hate it.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

New Rendition...Hope You're Not Disappointed

I gotta be meeee! I realized that is what was bothering me so much about this painting. When I have a paintbrush in hand, I tend to get into details that aren't important to what I'm trying to express. So, out came the palette knife and I got started on the background. Then, I blocked out the flowers with cad. light and came back in with all the colors you see now. And it was fun! Not a struggle anymore. It's not done, but getting much closer and then I can frame it in my new black Illusions frame from Jerry's Artarama. I am so freaking stoked to have these frames for nearly all my paintings. I hit their online sale and ordered as many of the black ones as I could fit to the paintings I've done in the past year. Illusions look like floating frames and I love that look. I already have one painting framed that way, that Davis Gallery charged me $199 for. I feel like such a chump because none of these frames cost more than $40 and I know they're not that hard to install a painting in and wire the back. Live and learn, I always say.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Catching Up

I have totally enjoyed the past 13 months that I've been studying with Noel Robbins. His teaching methods work well for me and I've gotten so much better as a result of listening to what he has to teach. I still need to test what he's taught me, though, and will often work on something at home that I don't bring to work on at studio time. It's not that I'm ashamed of it or afraid of his criticism. I work on it away from studio time to prove to myself that I have truly learned enough to stand on my own. And when I no longer feel like I need the training wheels that his guidance provides, then I can paint at home all the time. So far, I have not accomplished any magic at home. I've done some "fun" stuff, but I don't stretch myself with my home projects as much as I do with what I do in Noel's studio. I work hard, nonetheless, and every day look for a sign that I've figured out how to make the magic happen. It happened the other night at studio, but I've yet to see it with this current work at home. I think the only way I'm going to be happy with it is to give up the photo and go with my memory and with the knowledge of how I know things must look to have the atmosphere and distance and light that I feel in the photo. Crossing fingers that I can get this piece where I will be satisfied instead of confused.

Monday, April 13, 2009

More on Aloe Painting

Due to some issues with my AOL, I have spent way too much time being frustrated and dealt with it mainly by painting and staying off the computer. So, here's an update of the process with this painting. I worked hard to get the contrasts true to the photo and then began to realize that the photo wasn't true to nature, so then I tried to get the flowers to come forward and become more 3D. I don't know why that should be so difficult, but I'm just not getting it yet. One more try today and then I'm going to let it "sit" for a bit. You may also notice that I kept messing with the lower background, unsure as to whether or not I wanted that much detail. In the end, I think the changes in light help to convey the bright sunny day. And, because it was such a bright day, I may have to come back and lose some of the intense color. Boo hoo! I was really enjoying it for a change. But then this whole painting has been a departure from my usual toned down palette and knife style of late, so maybe I ought to let the brilliant coral tones stand as they are. We'll see.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Aloe Flowers

After visiting the San Antonio Botanical Gardens, I came home thinking that the first painting I'd do would be the very cool poppies, but I was totally drawn to a photo I took of an Aloe plant's flowers. I love the brilliant corals topped with very cool greenish gray. So here are a few pics of the start. I'm so messy in the blocking in stages. Hopefully I will finish soon and have something fun to look at in my dining room until it finds a show or a new home.