Sunday, December 26, 2010

Winter Wicker

This is my offering for the monthly challenge for
Some Texas Artists Like to Paint. I wrote my commentary/
excuses there . . .

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Feeling a shift in the way I approach a painting now . . . no longer
concerned with details or outlines. It may be time to tackle some
larger canvases and see if I can carry what I've learned toward work
that's more concepted/intentional/realized? (I don't know). And, of
course, continue with small pieces as well, but possibly, see them from
a different perspective (which will also take a brain shift).

Happy Holidays everyone!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Heart to Heart

This is an older painting I'd done a few months ago but it was too literal 
to live. I saw it out of the corner of my eye on Saturday and thought 
what if I messed it up or just messed with it? I had already deemed it 
a lost cause so I wasn't attached . . . Sometimes it seems that playing 
a psychological mind game with myself is the solution, but I've been 
doing this now long enough to know that tomorrow, it won't be. I had 
done another like this earlier in the year and called it "Rescue" and 
wonder now if the title has evolved from a noun then to a verb now?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Gossip 4

And yet another panel that endured much scraping and wiping. 
The mush that was left from wiping turned out to be helpful --- 
suddenly I saw the painting as not 3 distinct pears, saw what 
should disappear into darkness, what could just be hinted at and that 
the pear on the right needed to dissolve into the background. I'm trying 
to "be b-b-b-brave," as Susan Nally says on her blog and work differently 
than I normally do. The goal was to lay in color and value without delineating 
and see if I could make the forms recognizable.
Claire Christinel wrote some bullet points on her site from a workshop 
she took, one of which was to turn away from the setup periodically. 
I used to feel like I was cheating when I did, but if I don't, I tend to be 
too literal and not notice what's happening on the canvas, the flow of 
light and dark, color relationships, where I want to direct the eye, ie.,
the "art" part. I learn so much from visiting fellow bloggers' sites . . . 
you give me so much more to think about and practice.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Liaison Sold

This little painting was scraped off four times, each time because it 
was getting too precious. The goal was to be conscious about 
"coloring outside of the lines." With each scraping, I felt the point 
was no longer to get a decent painting to post, but to just keep 
practicing. I stopped with this attempt because it seemed . . .
decent enough to post. :-)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Broken Poinsettia

I've had such a hard time painting after doing the last two tangerines. 
I always seem to start out well, then somewhere along the way, I 
find myself spelling everything out.  Tried to avoid that here but may 
have gone overboard. I'm not sure anyone would know what this is 
without the title. 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Tangerine 2

I painted again at the crack of dawn. It took a lot of fortitude to 
neglect household stuff yet another day but I held my ground. My 
mother is horrified by all that I leave undone. I realized a couple of 
months ago that she loves folding laundry and that she's agitated 
when she has nothing to do. So now, when there isn't a new load, 
I unfold what she has so carefully folded and bring her the same 
clothes, sheets and towels and she's happy for awhile . . . long 
enough for me to be in the studio for a few hours. It's ironic, our 
personal relationships with time: some of us have too little and some, 
too much. 

I can see that I've used brush and paint differently again . . . the way I 
painted yesterday and today are not necessarily what I envisioned 
or aspired to, but they document where I was yesterday and today.

Tangerine 1

This tangerine tree is two blocks from my house . . . I asked the 
owner at a neighborhood Halloween party if I could clip a few. It's 
almost a month later and I finally got to it . . . story of my life lately. 
There's all the daily maintenance and then there are disasters. I 
awoke 2 days before Thanksgiving to find a flood in my kitchen. 
My beloved refrigerator had died in the night. If I took care of everything 
that needs attention, I would never paint. So I wave to the dust bunnies 
and mounds of cat hair and shrug at the dishes in the sink. 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

He Ain't Heavy . . .

Had to try this set-up one more time . . . Happy Thanksgiving! 
And many thanks to all of you who check in with this work-in-progress 
and comment and critique! 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Lean on Me

This is a departure from my usual. It follows two "wasted" 
painting sessions trying to paint an amaryllis blossom--just
could not get the values right however much I squinted; they 
were quite pronounced as shapes but so delicate, getting their 
relationships right was too much at this point. But, trying to 
achieve that delicacy meant holding the brush differently, which 
got carried over to these more solid forms. There's a burnt umber 
value study underneath, something I usually avoided because 
of time, but now find so helpful---like bones for the forms and 
structure for the overall painting. It also offers a map of the 
composition in terms of value that can easily be corrected before 
color enters and confuses. My composition struggles in the 
last post have also led to a realization with this one that composition 
is also as simple as relationship between lights and darks. The good 
thing about trying and failing is that the process itself transforms 
your brain so it's less obsessed with capturing likenesses of objects. 
Bottom line: time spent painting is never wasted!
I plan on painting this again, but not before I attempt "Sky" the current 
challenge for Some Texas Artists Like To Paint

Friday, November 19, 2010

Pears and Little Bottle

This turned into an epic effort over 3 sessions. I wanted to try a different 
composition where I didn't cluster all the objects together. I threw myself 
a curve by setting beautiful red pears toward the left side of the panel 
then needed something interesting to the right. Started with a white 
napkin which was too weak, then a pink napkin and red cup in the right 
back corner. I felt I'd painted everything well enough but the composition 
just didn't work so, being the ruthless person I am, wiped off the right side 
again and tried out different things. I'm withholding judgment on its overall 
success, but feel good about sacrificing things painted pretty well to push 
for a better painting.

My art store had its annal sale and I treated myself to a tube of cerulean . . . 
had forgotten what lovely grays are made when it's mixed with burnt sienna 
or burnt umber.  

Friday, November 12, 2010

Green Onions

No self-torment or suffering went into making this painting . . . I actually 
had fun! I got lost in the concentration, that meditative experience I recall 
from the past that has eluded me in the last couple of years. When I set 
it up, it seemed so complicated that I did a full value study in burnt 
umber over a transparent red oxide ground to paint over. It forced me to 
compare values from the start without color complicating the process. 
The only moments of angst were when I "came to" and thought, "oh please, 
don't let me screw this up." I photographed it and slapped it up here before 
I could start picking it apart. I feel like I'm on the right road. Thanks every-
body for your encouraging comments . . . the answer, as you said, is 
simple: just keep on painting . . . 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Red-lined Cup

I'll confess . . . I felt desperate to post today. Too many days had passed 
since the last post, too many wipers, too much struggle. I needed to 
redeem myself. I had started this yesterday and felt it was true to the 
set-up but still had a nagging thought: "so what?" I've given that a lot of 
thought lately . . . I spend time looking at paintings online every morning
and most are competent, good paintings. But what makes a painting 
really really good, or even great? Attacking it again, it seemed the answer 
was "risk." I didn't push far enough, could have done some areas better 
but, there's also the danger of thinking nothing is good enough and the 
risk of getting too insular and putting nothing out there. There's risk in the 
doing and risk in the exposing . . . all part of the process.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Pears (rear view)

I spent my painting time over the past 3 days trying to paint peaches 
and had a devil of a time! Jean Townsend mentioned the difficulty of 
including color and value changes in the same 2 inches in her current 
post . . . I also find it very difficult. Over the days of trying, however, 
I did notice a brain shift (caused by sheer frustration!) ---I stopped being 
conscious of the object and, instead, began to zero in on shapes of color 
and value and how they related to each other. I wasn't able to rescue 
the dang peaches, but then found it effortless to cram in color and value 
in these pears, but they don't have the extreme dimples and cleavage 
that peaches do. It's funny, but as I painted these pears, I thought I was 
seeing their backs as though they were in a "time-out." :-)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Red Plastic Bowl

Every morning I spend a little time looking at painting blogs and then 
go try out what I think I've learned. I believe I have learned a lot, 
especially with alla prima. I'm not suffering as I paint anymore, anyway. 
I hadn't done much with transparency or translucency . . . this bowl is 
another 49¢ "find" at the Salvation Army. Working with something that 
you're unfamiliar with really forces observation. My observational powers 
need lots more refining, but at least, I know I don't know what this 
object looks like and can't fool myself into thinking I do. I have also 
noticed one terrible painting habit: once I load the brush with color, I'm 
not content with just putting that color in the one spot where it's required. 
carry it into another area where the value has clearly changed. So, 
another thing to be mindful of . . .

Monday, October 25, 2010

Lone Apple 2

The companion apple to Lone Apple 1 . . . which, I guess 
keeps them from being "lone." Digging them out this past week 
and framing them made me stop and consider how I best like 
to work. Both were done with an underpainting that wasn't just 
a value study . . . one-color value first, then dark areas of color 
and the complement of whatever the final background was going 
to be. I let that first layer dry before tackling the finish of the painting. 
There's a dried chromium oxide green layer under those red strokes 
in the background. I could not have painted a red over chromium oxide 
green and have it retain its red-integrity and have it recede. 

I've also loved learning the immediacy of alla prima. 

So I'll work both ways. As a former printmaker, I relied on surprise: 
working in a mirror image, not knowing how it would translate backwards 
on paper, how a quantity of ink would squish and what I might do with it next. 
I had given up on oils years ago because of the predictability of what 
my hand would do in front of my eyes in any given moment. The process 
excited me more than having me be the author. Carol Marine quoted an 
Irish artist in a recent commentary where she said, "instead of asking how 
do I do that?, ask what will happen if I try this?" In retrospect, I must have 
wanted to give up control. Tonight, I'm thinking that kind of limbo is close 
to who I am.

Lone Apple 1

This wasn't my intended post for today. I'm posting 2 paintings 
from early this year, before the Carol Marine workshop and the 
subsequent struggle with alla prima. These are from a former era 
of not always knowing what I was doing as opposed to my current 
era. I liked both well enough to not sand them off and now that 
time has passed, I feel like, uh, well . . . I still like them! 

They are stand-ins for the painting I hoped to post . . . a self-portrait. 
Having to confront my own visage in a mirror, which, of course, I lit 
dramatically, was kind of a horrifying experience. I've tried to avoid 
having to look closely at my face, have very dim light in my bathroom . . . 
just enough to not poke my eye out with the mascara thing. All I wanted 
to do was to get out of any kind of comfort zone, to have a subject I would 
really, really have to look at and it turned out to be really, really uncomfortable. 
I should go with that, instead of my usual quest to make something beautiful. 
It got too dark in the day to photograph and it gives me another day to stall. 
Maybe tomorrow . . . 

Friday, October 22, 2010


My time in the studio is still haphazard . . . still boxes to deal with and 
tarp-covered furniture on my porch, left-overs from a yard sale. All this 
exterior clutter also makes my brain a mess.  

I realized I hardly ever paint blue things, so I went to the Salvation Army 
on a quest for a blue object, and lo! a blue cup! I plunked down 
my 54 cents. I had high hopes for it but now, on the screen, it looks 
frizzy. This panel is the double-primed cotton from Raymar and takes paint 
differently from the oil primed linen I usually work on. The apple in the cup 
has very few strokes so I'm pleased with it. Reflections are difficult . . . 
hats off to Carol Marine who does them so naturally. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Going Their Separate Ways

I'll be switching to different subject matter for a bit but know there's 
so much more to learn about these amazing forms.

What's Wrong?

(I tweaked this and am re-posting.) Still struggling with these beautiful 
bell peppers—it's hard to mix the various reds without making pink or 
orange or too much purple. And it's not really easy to make red recede. 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Run For It!

I painted this about a month ago and was fairly pleased with the cherries 
but unhappy with the way I painted the cups (except for the handle). I 
couldn't stand looking at the mud I'd created on the shadow sides one 
minute longer, so I repainted the darks and darkened the background 
while stalling on starting a new painting. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Two Bells

I thought my head would explode trying to paint these bell peppers!
The curves and turns are so complex and challenging. They're great 
models because you have to abandon any preconceived belief that 
you "know" what they look like. I had to keep returning my mind to 
just looking at shapes of value and color and hoping the objects would 
become recognizable on their own. I also handled the ground differently 
by using a red where the bells would roughly be and a brownish-green 
under the back "wall" to see if the light background would recede 
more easily.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Ghost Apples 2 Sold

I was actually able to hold two things in my mind simultaneously: don't 
blend and stick to the light-value-dominant scheme I set out to do. There 
was a lot more color in these "alabaster" apples than the greenish-white 
I originally saw. The first pale green stroke on the warm ground vibrated 
so beautifully, I tried to not disturb it, thinking I could lay in small blocks of 
color next to each other and build the painting that way---totally different 
from my usual automaton way of working. That third intention flew out the 
window about 10 minutes in. 

Friday, October 8, 2010

Ghost Apples

I popped into the studio briefly yesterday (had to paint!) and picked up 
a panel I'd begun before my hiatus, was unhappy with and scraped off 
except for a ghost image. Luckily, I still had the same apples for models 
but they'd developed a ghostly pallor in my absence. I haven't really done 
them justice---they look more like alabaster than this. I hope to try again on 
Sunday and push the value-dominance thing to be mostly light. 

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I haven't disappeared . . .

Oh you, my handful of followers whom I so greatly appreciate:

I haven't been able to paint because I've been schlepping furniture and boxing 
up my mother's life. I have been so fearful that I might be erasing her life by 
dealing with her possessions, that now my entire house is filled with boxes of 
her chatchkes! (sp?) It's been a slow painstaking process of going through each 
box and having her decide which things she will part with. She's pretty ruthless---
she loves only the very worst (in my opinion :-) ). She divested herself of all of her 
furniture and a few of her good things: 2 oriental rugs, a few antiques and ancient 
silverware (and not to me) at 62 convinced she wouldn't live much longer. At one 
point, she had 2 forks in her kitchen drawer so when my daughter and I visited, 
I had to resort to a plastic fork. When I moved her from Boston to San Antonio, I 
built up a new little empire for her so she would be comfortable and have nice 
surroundings. I'm not sure she ever cared, and now I'm the one dealing with all 
of it. My mom turned 94 on August 1 so she's way outlived her own prognostication!

I can't stress enough how I long to be in my little hovel of a studio comparing 
relative values and smelling paint, mixing colors and whining about my shortcomings! 
Soon . . .

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Tried to be more mindful about painting with relatively thick paint but 
less densely . . . I thought, at first, it was a matter of edges and to some 
extent, it is. But I think it may have more to do with not building up the 
entire surface to the same thickness. It seems where thinner areas are 
allowed to be visible, the surface seems to breathe. I tried to talk to 
myself differently while painting this . . . told myself to not be fussy, if a 
stroke contributed to the object being recognizable, that was good enough. 
have blind spots when looking at my own work and I think it's going to 
take re-training to view it differently, maybe set up a different standard, 
and that means, being willing to change and start doing things differently, 
like stopping short of my idea of "finished."


This was an attempt to fit more objects onto this little surface and to 
explore fairly dark values. I could have done more to give it more 
drama. I love thick paint but want to find a way to use it so that it doesn't 
look "dense" or so opaque. It may seem like I'm working toward opposing 
ends but I see that quality in others' work. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


I have been painting but each time I go to to photograph, it's started 
raining---which Texas needs! I spend some time each day looking at other 
artists' work whether contemporary daily painters or past artists hoping 
whatever it is I like about their work will rub off on me. And then as I try 
to channel them while painting, I fear I will copy them. The antidote to 
that fear is to go ahead and copy . . . just trying to emulate someone 
else's style doesn't result in a work that could be mistaken for the 
actual artist's. 

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Rockin' Out

I thought it would be hard to see plane changes in these very pale golden 
apples but it was easier than the red apples. I really enjoyed doing this 
one, tried to keep the strokes to a minimum. I visited Laurel Daniel's 
blog yesterday and was impressed with her 
value studies . . . wonderful drama without color! 

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Critic

Several people have commented over the past few months that I need 
to ignore/silence the too-critical voices in my head. In 2001, I did a series 
called Persona giving 15 of them form. They are monotypes (one-of-a-kind 
prints) done on an etching press with lithography ink and mixed media. 
They were also set up for giclee printing (reproductions). Anyone interested 
in seeing more "voices," can visit my website:
I had tried for awhile to carry this style into oil on canvas but was less 
than impressed at the time (yes, I know :-) ). It may have had more to do 
with lack of a new compelling idea to work out and too little time . . . hours 
sitting in the studio with not much to show for the time spent. Deciding to 
try the little still-lifes felt more productive and learning to paint form is a 
rewarding challenge to my left brain. It's all process. I feel so lucky to have 
this interest in art and drive to learn.

Eve on a Plate Sold

Depending on the angle, these apples have a Mae West "bosom" 
which seem impossible and they're very hard to paint. Something in 
me is still resisting exaggerating it enough to capture its true personality. 
I was going to abandon apples for a bit and paint something like glass 
which I have no preconceived notions about and no experience with . . . 
I would have to really look at shapes and values. My compulsiveness, 
however, continues to be drawn to apples. Sometimes that tenacity is 
good and sometimes it's good to take a hiatus and return with fresh eyes. 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Eve 1

I don't think I've captured Eve's likeness here . . . I tend to idealize things: 
people & objects into my idea of them rather than how they are. I'm working 
on that but it does bring to mind all the other things in other facets of my 
life that I probably endowed with qualities that weren't really there. Can 
I even be a judge of what is really "there?" As a painter or any kind of artist, 
are we creating or observing? More than likely, both, but I've listened to 
instructors say "paint what you see." I believe they're being honest but 
suspect they "see" with more than just their eyes. They've developed a 
faculty that the rest of us are just beginning to comprehend. I heard a piece 
on NPR about the deaf . . . that they "hear" through vibrations in their bones 
and even cells, that hearing isn't just a matter of functioning ears. Laurie 
Anderson experimented with this in the eighties.

As a junior in college, I volunteered to shepherd a freshman art student who 
was blind. She wanted to paint and I wanted her to sculpt, where I thought I 
could actually help in developing her artistic abilities. She insisted on painting 
which I thought was a waste of her time and mine. I think of her often---Naomi. 
I wish I had a clue then about "seeing" without eyes. I might have done a better 
job at helping her visualize the marks and colors she made on the canvas and 
helped her to organize them in her own realm of visualization. She was blind from 
birth, and it strikes me now that Naomi could "see" in her mind. Her 
stubbornness about painting had a wisdom I couldn't understand at the time.