Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Cattails Number Two

Cattails No. 2, 6 x 12" oil on canvas.
On that note, I am going into the studio, but the first thing on the agenda is: put a big sheet of newsprint paper on the wall and write down all my pending projects so I can pick one and do that one, instead of flailing around going AUGH SO MANY THINGS TO DO I DON'T KNOW WHERE TO START.

I do not suffer from a lack of creative ideas. I have so many that I drown in them unless I throw myself a lifeline.

Sunday, July 29, 2012


Little Phlox, 7 x 5" oil on panel
This was today at Derek Davis' class. A little experiment in loosening up and in leaving some areas really thinly painted.

I'm having such a good time.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Done! Now I can make that BLT.

In It Together, 10 x 10" oil on canvas, $275
Apparently, as a still life painter, I'm nocturnal: this was finished around 2:45 this morning.

It has about a dozen titles. I'm only telling you one of them because I want to see what people come up with on their own for what it could mean and what might be happening in the little narrative, here. Everyone's answer will be right; that's what I love about these little paintings.

Here's where I have to credit my inspiration: this painting would never have happened if I weren't friends with Jennifer Lowery. <3

This does get my "living less safely" classification, mainly because it's never "safe" to make art. But I was also challenging myself. Those background greens and violets? All looked like mud on my palette. And I think painting deep red objects is about the trickiest thing there is. It's even harder than getting landscape-greens to work, and that's saying something. I knew that, and chose to paint tomatoes anyway.

So I'm happy. And drinking a lot of coffee.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Day Four, outside

Cattails, 6 x 12" oil on canvas, at Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary today. $145
 This was today at Derek Davis' class. It rained on us for a while, but we were undaunted.

Making art rarely if ever feels "safe" to me. Particularly if I'm making art of a kind I don't usually make, such as a painting of reflections on water. So this was today's first challenge, and the second one will be going back out to meet Derek and the Outdoor Painters of Minnesota at Murphy's Landing (I've gotta Google it; I have no idea where this is) and go for round two.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Day Three

of my mission to Live Less Safely, i.e. outside the comfort zone. Fortunately, I can still have beer there (this is relevant; see below).

Here's where I'm going this afternoon:

Bonsai by Josephine Geiger, leaded glass. Courtesy
Josie is a real friend, the kind who's willing to help figure out submission paperwork for a big commission proposal AND give me a beer so I don't melt down my brain in the process. She's done this before (successfully -- she's won bids); this will be my first go.

Wish me luck, and have a look at the awesome stained glass work.

Friday, July 20, 2012

On with the Dog & Pony Show

My works are all in progress, but I like to put nice pictures on my blog, so I'm borrowing one from my ridiculously talented friend, Kelly Williams.

Art Deco Ring by Kelly Williams. Sterling, amethyst, tourmaline, fired glass enamel. I want this. A lot.
Kelly has a newly redesigned website: -- full of beautiful things. Like most Serious Creative People I know, Kelly also has a great sense of humor, which is why she chose this for the portrait of her horse:

Cocoa Wants a Cookie, 9 x 6" pastel on paper
Today is Day Two of the Year of Living Less Safely, and the agenda includes: Schedule myself to attend one dog and one horse show, with sketch book, camera, iPad, and business cards on hand.

That's in addition to maybe-finishing In This Together before I go to work at three today.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Painting: In This Together, in progress

Scroll down to watch the work develop.

As I began, I decided that I didn't like the yellow tone of the wood beneath my still life. So I put grey velvet under it, to make the red and yellow colors more vibrant-looking in the finished piece.

 I started by drawing my arrangement with a brush with a thin wash of green. I chose green because it would help balance the intense red of the tomatoes; this is the same reason I use a red iron oxide wash under my primarily-green landscape paintings.

The green I used for the drawing/wash is viridian with quinacridone gold added to warm it up some.

 I then mixed some greys. Even the white teacup is, from a painting standpoint, primarily grey. The background and table will be greys with varying shades of green, pink, and violet -- and some reflected hints of yellow and red from the fruit. Above, you can see where I was beginning to block in my green-grey backdrop.

And here's how things looked at the point when I went for sushi tonight. Still quite unfinished but starting to feel solidly three-dimensional.

About the colors: every red you see was mixed with some green to render it more natural (my camera, unfortunately, oversaturates reds so that subtlety is lost). The shadows on the tomatoes are done by blending dark green into my red paint; the shadow on the lemon is done by adding cobalt violet to my yellow.

Anyone who wants to know exactly which pigments I am using for which parts is welcome to ask in the comments here. I love talking about what I'm doing, and this, for me, is a bit of an experiment. For one thing, I'm not in the habit of using grey this way. I like it a lot so far, though.

Look for more updates tomorrow!

My Year of Living Less-Safely

So here's where I am. In my little home studio with this still life setup, for a painting called In This Together. I'm in the process of blocking it in at the moment, and figuring out color combinations.

I'm using new-to-me pigments, new ways of thinking about and mixing my colors, new ways of thinking about my light, shadow, and focal point. This simple little painting is a challenge -- and that's exactly why I'm doing it.

Today I am 40 years old, and I have chosen this as my Year of Living Less Safely. Not dangerously, not foolishly, but less safely.

That means: Each day, a new thing I'm not entirely comfy with. That could be a piece of art -- as it is today. Or a lesson on my horse. Any number of things in this huge, wonderful world. But each day, I have promised myself I will do something that will expand my sphere, something that feels a little risky, uncertain, outside the comfort zone.

And then I'll blog it, briefly.

If you feel like joining me, I'd love to have some companionship on the ride.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Dog Day

Mr. Brady, 8 x 10" pastel pencils, carbon pencil, watercolor, and soft pastel on cotton paper.
These kinds of portraits are pretty involved. There's a process I use of layering pastel pencils and watercolor over each other repeatedly before adding the final touches of soft pastel and doing the last bits of refining of the eyes, which are the most important element for getting the animal's real character.

The whole process takes an average of five hours' work for a drawing of this size and style. Here's what it looks like at about an hour in, when I'm still carefully checking proportions against my source photo and making sure I've got it right before I start with the watercolor:

When the finished drawing is to be looser, less precise, they take far less time; those of you who were at Art Crawl this spring may have seen me produce sketches in twenty minutes, even. Those are a very different thing, great fun and worth doing, just not anywhere near the level of precision or "finish" of this kind of portrait.  

Below, the snapshot I had for reference. I'd have liked it to be larger and a bit sharper and better lit, but Brady was no longer with us and so I used what we had.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A Forbidden Romance!

Don't Tell Your Family, Darling. 5 x 7" oil on canvas board, $50.
I had so much fun with Snobs that I decided to do a little more with my bunch of models. I thought about what would happen if one of the Snobs fell for the Lemon. Whoops!

This little piece will be available for $50 at Maple Grove Arts Center, at the opening of the Art & Food Show on the evening of 7/13. I'll be there, making a little painting or two on site, just for fun, so come out, see the art, and watch the demo.