Friday, December 16, 2011

Nuturing Creativity

After being away from the easel for more than a week, I know I need to get back or some how I will loose my "muse."  Serendipitously at this time  I was told about TED talks and found this great video that spoke to me.  Have you every created a painting that when finished you wondered if your hand was governed by someone other than yourself?   Maybe this could explain what is really happening when we create.  Elizabeth Gilbert of the book, Eat, Pray, Love, gives one possibility of this idea of genius and creativity.  Weigh in on your thoughts.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Season's Greetings

Thanksgiving is over, the dishes are washed, and there are lots of leftovers in the fridge.  The studio has been left abandoned for almost a week and I am looking forward to getting back at the easel.  As I reflect on this year, I want to thank all of you who took the time to read my blog and especially those of you who made comments.  It lets me know that I am contributing in some small way.  Although this year has not been a stellar year as far as sales, my productivity has been great and I am grateful.  For all of my readers, I wish you a happy holiday season and a prosperous new year.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Demo Booklet

Just finished publishing my first booklet demonstrating the process of painting my last painting, "Italian Repast."  Documenting the process with images and writing about each major step was enlightening for me and I hope for those of you who want to see my process.  I share many techniques, products, and tips, as well as, color recipes for this 16 X 32 inch painting.  Check it out on the right side of the blog.  I would love to have any comments or feedback on it if you decide to  purchase it.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Painter's Tip

I have had specific questions from Twitter fans over the last few months prompting the idea that I would post a painting tip on my blog in addition to my regular blog posts.  It's easy to think that most people know this or that but not necessarily so I will give it a try.

Painting tip:  One of the first lessons I ever learned that has served me well over the many years is the colors black and umbers are substitute blues.  Black mixed with white will look blue especially against orange and warm colors.  Burnt and raw umber mixed with yellow will give you some great greens.  Why is this good to know.  Blue is a strong color and can overpower your painting.  Use a substitute blue in place of a pure blue for sky and water and other blues.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Threads of My Life

My last few weeks have been filled with the other side of art in order to be ready for last week's Halifax Outdoor Art Festival.  For all of my friends, students, and collectors I thank you for coming down and giving me such wonderful feedback on my new series--"Threads of My Life."  I'm still working on still life paintings that incorporate fabric and handmade textiles from family heirlooms.  My grandmother crocheted her entire life and I have inherited doilies, tablecloths, and runners with hand crocheted edge work.  The more I paint these beautiful fabrics and lace, the more I'm drawn to their individual beauty.  This piece is entitled Pomegranate and Crocheted Lace and was not as much of a challenge as I originally thought.  Squinting and massing in the light shapes and shadow shapes made it fairly simple.  Once the overall shape has been established then I painted in the negative shapes.  Can't wait to try a bigger piece!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Voice - A Journey Worth Taking-Cont.

Back from a road trip to North Carolina and the changing of the leaves.  Road trips always foster interesting conversations with my husband.  It's great; he's a captive listener!  After a quick stop in Charleston, SC, we headed toward Asheville. Somewhere on I-26  I brought up the topic of Voice and asked David. . .  Was voice something that could be identified by the viewer or did the viewer need the artist to provide words of explanation?  This was prompted after seeing a collection of work by an artist at the Robert Lange Studio in Charleston.  We both agreed we could identify some artists because of their brushwork, color palette, subject matter, and unique elements such as backgrounds.  Is this voice?  Or is voice something deeper in the concept or meaning the artists is trying to convey?  The more we talked, the more I wasn't sure I could describe voice or would even  know it if I saw it.  As a reader of literature, I can usually tell who an author is after a few chapters without looking at his or her name as long as I have read three or four of their works.  So maybe voice is just that , a definable style.  Maybe it doesn't have anything to do with a message you are trying to convey?

The above image is a closeup of a painting I just finished called Italian Repast.  Below is the full 32"X16" canvas.  People always tell me they can tell my work without seeing the signature.  Is that style or voice?  Your thoughts on this topic would be greatly appreciated.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

VOICE - A Journey Worth Taking con't.

     As I prepared for a pilgrimage back to my early roots in North Carolina, I checked out my favorite galleries in the area to see who is showing their work.  One of my favorites in Asheville is 16 Patton Fine Art Gallery.  What does this have to do with voice?  In reading artists statements of work that I am drawn to, I found an artists who describes what I am alluding to when it comes to emotions and connections.  The artist is Mase Lucas and I have taken an excerpt from her artists statement to show what I am trying to describe.
       "Notwithstanding an occasional portrayal of horses in
        action, most of the paintings are quiet and reflective …
        herbivores at peace … as they are here in my fields.
       The thing about horses that makes them compelling
       art subjects is the same thing that makes them
       compelling to me in their own right. My heart melts
       at their beauty and kindness and my adrenalin rises
       at their power … a power so often restrained to
       accommodate us humans."

When your subject matter can cause a welling up of these kinds of emotions then you know you have to share them in some artistic form; now you are beginning to speak in VOICE.  Is communication through subject matter all there is to artistic voice?  Not necessarily so, but you are coming closer to the meaning of your art and your voice.  More to say about voice in the near future as I continue this series.  How do you speak your artistic voice?  Have you found it yet?  Your comments are welcomed!

Friday, October 14, 2011

VOICE - A Journey Worth Taking

Something magical and mysterious has recently happened in the creation of the last few paintings that have come off my easel. So magical and so mysterious that it has caused me to step back and ask . . . have I found my “voice?” In asking comes the decision to explore the journey that has led up to this eureka. My logical brain has known for years that finding your voice is the key to an artist's expression. It's what distinguishes your art from the rest of the herd. I also know that it comes from somewhere deep inside and is not easily reached. And last I know that when I see this type of expression be it the written word, dance, music, or art, it can bring tears to your eyes or make a lump in your throat. Words like emotion, spirit, connections, and even no words will be on the map for this journey. My road map begins with an inner journey.

Accessing it requires a personal decision to do the work. It requires time set aside away from distractions on a regular basis. My suggestion would be to set aside about 10 to 15 minutes each day and revisits old memories. Write memories of events that have given you the greatest highs or the lowest lows. Feel the moments and write down your thoughts about what you felt back then. These moments will well up and drive the need to put them somehow and in some special way on canvas. This solitary exploration will allow you to pull it apart and make sense of it. It will drive the artistic expression. This is VOICE. Also pay attention to those objects, place, and people that make you not only take notice but resonates with your emotions. Keep a discovery journal either in written or visual form or both. Add pictures from various sources.

Voice for me is an emotion that is aligned with my life experiences that are remembered.  It reflects my story; the good and the bad. It is told with the utmost desire to tell it truthfully without ego putting in its two cents worth. It requires detaching from the outcome and just go where it leads you. Now that I am older and in my crone stage of life, I am free to tell it like it is or was. Painting with voice must somehow connect to this inner journey. I will add more about my journey in the next blog. In the meantime, please share with my readers how you discovered your VOICE.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Butt Pain from Sitting on the Learning Curve

    Is it just me or is this technology explosion causing you to ask . . . WHY?  This past week Robert Genn's s newsletter broached the subject of the lack of sales in this weak economy.  He stated that in a conversation with five artist, one being a technology guru (my words not his) sales were almost non existent.  Obviously if their work is not up to par all the advertising in the world won't help.  And during this same week I pulled up a site that I had bookmarked some months ago called ARTIST HELPING ARTIST.  This particular radio broadcast was about blogging effectively and all the strategies to have a bigger following.  I was overwhelmed with all the techno information.  I've tried staying current but new information and marketing information to promote my art has overwhelmed me.  I know that if you do the work you will increase your community of readers but is that enough?  Do you have to have a store with books and prints of your work to make it pay?  Why do a few artists (daily painters) seem to sell everything they paint on ebay.    What is the real goal for putting all this information out there?  I would love to hear your personal experience with being internet savvy.  I have included the broadcast at the bottom for those interested.  This broadcast is only one of many that are great and I recommend checking this site out.  Just be sure to have a pencil and lots of paper to make notes.  Looking forward to all comments on this topic.

Listen to internet radio with Artists Helping Artists on Blog Talk Radio

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I'm wild for White

Carolina Blue  20X28, oil on linen

Though I am a native born Floridian, North Carolina near Chapel Hill is a major part of my life and family history.  So painting with themes related to my NC roots is major for me.  "Carolina Blue", the fourth painting in my new series of paintings featuring my favorite NC pots and old white fabric family heirlooms is my latest testimony to my heritage. But, something is happening here that I didn't expect when I began.  The nuances of color and temperature changes with white fabric have made me understand grays in a way I have never thought possible.  Now, when I lay out my palette at the beginning of each day, I can mix puddles of white with ease and understanding of what I am seeing.  The "air" of the background colors becomes part of the shadows of the whites of the fabric.  Now when someone asks me what colors you mix to make white, my answer is . . . "depends on what you are seeing."  The teaching advise of  "... if the light shapes are cool, then the shadow colors will be warm and visa-versa"  isn't necessarily so.  Judging value gradations is the other skill that painting white fabric promotes.   The folds, turns, hills, and valleys are much like painting a landscape.   Learning to "see" takes time and painting white can really move that process along--just a suggestion.  I love painting white to the point that I think I am addicted.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Business Planning for Artists - Part 2

Business Planning for Artists – Part 2
In my previous Blog Post on the subject of business planning we reviewed some basic per-planning elements that should be answered by all of us. These elements included your Vision Statement, Mission Statement, and answering the ultimate question of what business you are in. I suggest that you revisit the basic elements reviewed before moving on. That said, here is a basic outline for a general business plan beginning with the Executive Statement (which, by the way, should be written last as it summarizes the whole of you business plan).
  1. Executive Summery
    What business am I in?
    My Vision
    My Mission
    Keys to my success
  2. Business Summary
    My Strengths and Weaknesses
    My Experience
    My Education
    My Business History --- an on-going business or start-up
    My Location and Facilities
  3. Products and Services (or both)
    What do I create (e.g. Custom Fine Art)
    What services to I provide (e.g. Commissioned Work)
    Competitive Comparison
    Source Materials Used
    Technologies Used
    Promotional Materials/Literature
    Future Products possible
  4. Market Analysis Summary
    My Market Segment
    Target Market Strategy
    Market Needs
    Market Trends
    Market Growth
    External Opportunities and Threats
    Market Participants
    Distribution Patterns
    Competitive Factors
    Main Competitors
  5. Strategy and Implementation summary
    Value Position
    Competitive Edge
    Marketing Strategy
    Pricing Strategy
    Promotional Strategy
    Marketing Programs
  6. Financial Plan (there is a whole list of items that can go here, but I need to start making this post a little shorter!)
  7. Personal Plan
Okay, this looks pretty daunting and is why most artists do little if any real business planning. I should also say that this outline is not chiseled in stone, so it is a starting point/suggestion not an absolute! The purpose of a business plan is to focus your attention to the grunt work of business. So if you were to work through even half of the elements of a general business plan outline, you would be in a better position business wise than the average artist. In addition, there are many business planning programs available for both the Mac and PC that will walk you through the planning process. None are all that easy to use in my opinion, but are still worth the effort to learn to use or master. I personally use Business Plan Pro and QuickBooks Pro to help me to better understand my art business and where I stand financially. I will have more to say about art business planning as others ask questions. Until then, please feel free to make comments, or ask your art related question using the comments area. I welcome and appreciate questions and input.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Business Planning for Artists - Part 1

As artists we do not normally think of ourselves as business people. However, if we plan to make a living as artists we are indeed also business people. Recently, through direct E-mail and Twitter, I have been asked about business planning for artists. Business planning in general is a topic that could fill a completely independent blog or website. Here, I will attempt to be brief but still provide some basic information and direction so that you can begin to think about writing your own artist’s business plan.  Sorry, no pictures on this one.

For starters, there are a few fundamental elements that you must think about in order to begin to develop your written business plan for your art businesses. Carefully consider the following points; in a brief paragraph or two you should be able to describe for yourself and have a good basic feel for each of these basic elements:
  • What business are you in? Describe in seven words or less
  • Your Basic Values & Beliefs --- who are you really
  • Vision --- where do you see yourself in two, five or more years
  • Mission --- why do you paint (sculpt or draw) in the first place
  • Internal Strengths and Weaknesses --- what makes you different; make you less competitive
  • External Opportunities and Threats --- gallery or museum invitations; the economy
  • Competition (like it or not we all have competitors!) --- who are you compared to
  • Your Products and Services, Customers, and Markets --- quality matters; who are your clients/collectors; what markets do you play in---sidewalk art shows, galleries
Let me say this right from the get-go: I know as artists that it is difficult to think of our works of art as products, but to the art show art buyer or the gallery owner/dealer that is what our art represents. If you or the gallery can’t sell your work, you are out of business plain and simple! Take a good look at your work or have an unbiased person take a hard look for you. Is the quality of your work equal to or better than others already in the market place you want to play in? Are your artistic skills and standards as high as or higher than those you compete against? Your work represents and speaks for you and you are judged as an artist accordingly. So what does your work say about you?

I will have more to say about art business planning in Business Planning for Artists - Part 2, or as others ask questions. Until then, please feel free to make comments, or ask your art related question using the comments area. I welcome and appreciate questions and input.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Painting White-cont.

It's been weeks since I began "French Lace."  The challenge was painting the white cloth with a focus on value, edges and temperature.  The only way to paint the antique tablecloth was to squint and squint often.  The first go round of squinting was to determine the light shapes and dark shapes.  Light shapes were in the value range from 1 to 4 (some value charts have 10 as white but not mine).  Darks were 5 to 9.  I forced myself to ignore any of the details.  Once the form of the cloth was established and the clay pot blocked in, then and only then, did I focus on the small areas with an eye to color/temperature.  Details were still ignored.

When working this large-36X48 inches, I had to add clove oil to keep the paint wet for a long period of time.  Because the tablecloth was bought in Paris around 1912, the white had a yellowish warm cast.  The only cool blue white was in the area where the light burned out the color and details.

If you have any specific questions about any part of this process, please contact me or ask in the comment section.

Monday, September 5, 2011

M Gallery-Charleston SC


I am so pleased to know that the M Gallery in Charleston did not experience bad weather from hurricane Irene last week.  In fact, they had a well attended opening for Michelle Dunaway with over 200 attending.  There was a lot of interest in the OPA Petite Salon and now you can view it on Facebook.  Check out these images of the Salon

Monday, August 29, 2011

Beauty in Art

Oil Painters of America (OPA) is one of my favorite organizations to blog about because OPA promotes traditional representational oil painting.  Why do we need a group like this?  Simple; to defend ourselves as traditional artist from the cult of ugliness and to restore the value, purpose, and need for traditional art and artists!

With the onset of the 20th Century, art took a turn away from beauty and the spiritual, toward what some historians call the period of "What is Truth?"  Truth being raw, ugly, and its subjects objects of utilitarian purpose or minimalists images of a single shape or color.  If you were "creative" with something that hadn't been done before you were singled out as brilliant---example, a bottle of urine with an inverted crucifix in it! I could go on and name countless "masterpieces" but you know them when you see them.  If what the artist created assaulted the viewer it was considered great art and the creator of the assaulting piece a master artist.  Never mind words of explanation, or a printed message had to accompany a piece of art in order to appreciate it or even understand it.  For more information about this, read Thomas Wolfe's, "The Painted Word."

Currently, there is a movement on the West Coast of the U.S. attempting to bring back the romantic, classical style of art where academic training counts for something.   As I read about this small band of artists calling themselves Novorealists,  I came across a blog by Alexey Steele , one of these novorealists, where he posted a fantastic one hour video entitled Why Beauty Matters.,   It is worth the time to watch and it encapsulates all that I believe.

Year after year while I participated in the sidewalk art show circuit I encounter judges who would choose images that were anything but classical or beautiful.  They seemed to go out of their way to choose work that was anything but accomplished, and if the art was traditional and representational they would even just pass by and ignore the work all together.  I've been told that judges don't want to be labeled old fashioned in their preferences and believe that they must keep up an appearance of being contemporary and avaunt guard. As one judge told me privately, "If I choose something on the fringe, who is going to argue with me, and who am I to assume that I know better then other good judges who have acknowledged so called fringe artists. So judges frequently choose what is safe and not buck the trends."

So what is my point?  It is simply this: I don't know that Novorealism is or will become a real modern art movement perhaps similar to the Pre Raphaelites Brotherhood of the mid 19th century ( John Millais,  Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and William Hunt)---I really don't care!

Ophelia, by John Millais


I do appreciate and defend what the Novorealists are attempting to do, and I applaud them for their efforts!  Point number two: Judges, pull your collective arrogant heads out of the sands dunes.  You may think that you are intellectually elite with your fringe choices, but instead I think you display your collective ignorance at best, or your bigotry at worst!   

Saturday, August 27, 2011

About Shapes

From time to time I Twitter what I call Artist Tips.  Twitter, as you may know, limits a Tweet to 140 characters, so the necessary brevity can cause confusion!   Sometimes, from these little notes I receive questions from Followers and requests for additional information and explanation.  Recently, I received a question from one of my Twitter faithful followers regarding shapes and lightness and darkness of shapes in a painting. I offer the following explanation with the hope that a more detailed explanation will help.  However, should I fall short, please feel free to ask additional questions to clarify your understanding this or any of the subjects I discuss here in my Blog or Twitter about.

In reference to "a dominate shape being determined by its lightness or darkness," here is a more detailed explanation:  All paintings are made up of shapes, large and small, representing the objects, or subject matter of the painting.  For a shape to have an identity, it must have contrast in value or hue, or an outline (edges, soft and/or hard), to distinguish it from its background.  Otherwise, we can't see it.  A large shape does not necessarily make that shape dominant; dominance is determined by the qualities mentioned earlier with lightness and darkness being two of them.  For any shape to stand out from its surroundings it has to be darker, lighter, more colorful, or difference in texture (example, use of brush strokes or palette knife) otherwise the intended shape is just part of the mass of all that is around it.  Keep in mind that I am talking about representational art here, not abstract art.  Things are very different in the world of abstract art.

Take a look at some of the images I have posted of my paintings; Simply Ming for example (to find it, scroll down to the Aug. 11, 2011 blog post entitled “Announcing a New Gallery”), is a good example of what I am trying to describe.  Simply Ming has a variety of shapes, sizes, color, and textures, all working together to create a complete idea and image.

Your questions are always welcome!  The only “dumb” question is the question never asked.  How else do we learn if not by doing and asking questions!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Painting White

Sometimes I wonder about my sanity when it comes to what motivates me to pick up the paint brush.  I know I get bored easily with simple set ups so I look for challenges that capture light, fabric, and objects of white.  Last week a friend loaned me this antique white tablecloth that had been in her family for years and she's 85, so it has all that I love.  It also has a lot of hand-made lace, cutouts, and embroidery.  It brings back long ago memories of my grandmother crocheting beautiful tablecloths and bedspreads.  Did I mention that I chose a 36 X 48 inch canvas to add to the challenge?  Here is a partial picture of the set up with a clay pot.  Sorry for the fuzziness.

 Although I am not finished, I have it all blocked in and some of the lace partially finished.  Besides rendering the lace which in of itself is a major challenge, determining all the values of white both warm (in the light side) and cool (in the shadow side)  are causing me to loose what sanity I have left.  At one point I went back to a book on Sargent and looked at his beautiful whites in shadow. It did the trick.  I think I will make a T shirt that says . . . . What would Sargent do?  After the initial block-in of what I thought was correct, I have had to adjust and readjust the values.  Keeping edges soft is a must for it to look lacy and soft.  I'm doing a lot of talking to myself in the form of pep talks.  I work on a section a day for three or four hours at a time so I don't get too tired and start making mistakes.  It's important not to try to render every stitch and every detail of the lace.  Constantly squinting keeps out extraneous information but does cause wrinkles.

I see another week or two of daily work to finish this piece.  If I pull it off, it will be a painting that I don't think I will be able to part with unless the price is right.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Below is a close up of some of the lace work I have laid in.  I'll post a picture of the finished piece in a couple of weeks

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Painting Workshop Oct. 17-21, 2011

Through The Glass, 16X20, oil on linen

There is still a few spaces available for my workshop "Painting Like a Master" beginning Oct. 17th through Oct. 21st, 2011.  If you are a budding Classical-Realist or Novorealist painter, this is the workshop for you! You will learn the techniques of the new and Old Master's using the indirect painting method creating    a painting with multiple layers of paint, and the use of various mediums and glazes to achieve the deep and    rich luminosity of the painted surface as experienced in the works of Titian, Rembrandt and Rubens.

    Each workshop day will focus on a technique used by the Masters.  Day one will focus on how to create     strong compositions including value studies, lighting, and color harmony.  During following days, you will come to a better understanding of your color wheel to achieve color hues, tints, and shades and how to achieve beautiful grays for use in your art works.

 A demonstration of the skills needed for that day's work begins at 9.  Shapes, edges and values will be emphasized, as well as the creation of a middle layer painting made from opaque colors to establish the lightest and darkest values of your paining. Finally, you will practice various glazing and scumbling techniques used by New and Old Masters including a final glaze layer that modifies the opaque colors to finish your art peace making the surface very rich and luminous.  And there will be ample time for discussion, questions and answers during and after workshop hours.

Don't miss this opportunity to become an active artist community member of the Resurgence of Beauty and Excellence in Art movement and oil painting in particular.  Call the studio today (386-756-3068), or E-mail the artist and master teacher today ( to reserve your workshop place!  A complete Information Packet will be mailed to you by Express Mail. For detail information check out the July 11, 2011 blog or just scroll down. 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Oil Painters of America-Addison Gallery

Just a short note to all about the Eastern Exhibition of the Oil Painters of America.  Check out the website for Addison Art Gallery, Orleans, MA and all the beautiful paintings being exhibited this September.  Scroll down on the home page to the bottom and click on the painting labeled OPA.  I was surprised when I saw my painting used for the link. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Announcing a New Gallery

I am so very pleased to tell you that I will be represented by M Gallery  of Fine Art, SE in Charleston, SC beginning Aug. 16th, 2011!  Maggie Kruger, the gallery owner, has created a Petite Salon of OPA artists; I am blessed to be part of this prestigious group.  Check out the M Gallery website for more information and take a look at some of the fantastic works of art at the gallery and on line too. Make a point to visit the gallery while in this great city; the gallery is a charming space right in the heart of Gallery Row there on Broad Street.  And the gallery staff is the very best; I can't say enough positives about Maggie and her staff, particularly the gallery manager, Carlen. Be sure to make an opportunity to meet her; you will be impressed!

I continue to be hard at work every day (except for my teaching days; that's a different type of hard work indeed!) creating new works to fill my "pipeline." Here is an example of what I am working on and just finished; I call this one "Simply Ming.".  This painting is about textures and how light plays off of the surfaces of these  different objects.  The 24 X 30 size presented its own challenge and gave me quite a workout!  I love working in a larger format for they give me lots of space to arrange my objects.  As always, shapes---both positive and negative---are the underlying name of the game along with light shapes and shadow shapes, color, and brush strokes. While I appreciate artists who paint with in-your-face social messages in mind, there is still a place in the art world for quality and beauty (e.g. Art Renewal Center); the message may be less obvious, but it is just as real and just as important.  And while I am thinking about it, I might add that I strongly believe artists who paint   representational art have to understand the abstract structure that underlines each arrangement.  As mature artists working in the representational genre, our art is not a "photograph" of our setup!  Our art is heavily edited as we interpret the artistic scene we create, not just paint what is there.   I will now step down off my soapbox and go back to my easel.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

How to Paint Silver

I love painting metal, especially pieces that are highly reflective and polished.  This small silver cup reflected everything around it including me.  To paint silver you have to remember to look at the colors.  Usually you will see grays, blacks, and whites.  Anything around it will also be present in the metal.  Paint what you see and forget what you think silver looks like.  On one of the days, my shirt was a dark pink and that reflected right down the middle so I put it in.  The next day I wore a black shirt and the pink wasn't there.  Lesson learned:   wear black if you don't want to put your reflection in the metal.  Look closely at the long striations of color and determine if the edges are soft or hard.  Blend according to how diffused the edges appear.  Reflected objects are never as clear and bright as the real objects.  The reflected lemon was bright and very clear in the metal but I took down the intensity to make it read correctly. 
If you have painted silver before please share your experience and any words of wisdom for my readers.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Oil Painters of America

More exciting news.  Apple Harvest was accepted into the Eastern Regional Oil Painters of America Exhibition being held in Orleans, Mass. Sept.17.  I will be posting four or five new paintings that I have in the pipeline as soon as I put on the finishing touches.  Hard work everyday is paying off.

Monday, July 11, 2011

5 Day Workshop

I am pleased to announce a 5-day workshop to be held at my studio in Port Orange, Florida, October 17-21, 2011.  Mark your calendars and make your plans now!

Port Orange is a small community just a few miles south of Daytona Beach and about 5 miles from white, sandy beaches of the Atlantic Ocean.  The workshop opens with a meet-and-greet Sunday evening for early arrivals. Q&A's and open discussions scheduled workshop evenings for those wanting a little more info. Lunch is provided each workshop day, with coffee and tea available anytime during the workshop hours.

The focus of the workshop is painting the still life incorporating the indirect method and techniques of the old masters.  Demonstrations and lectures will be given each morning focusing on a skill(s) needed for each day's work.  My workshop features a small group setting of no more than eight students so that I can give one-on-one instruction to better meet your individual needs.  Some painting experience is required. You will be provided with a printed manual with information to cut down on note taking during class.  More information on the curriculum is forthcoming.

Please join me for this great opportunity learning to paint in the indirect method and spend time in a unique and historic area of Florida.  One evening will be spent at Cracker Creek on a wine cruise down the waters of Spruce Creek.  Check out their website here.

Lodging is available within three miles of my studio, as well as, ample motels on the beach which is approximately five miles away. The Daytona International Airport is just ten mile from the studio.   Contact me for information at .

Workshop Fee:  $500
A deposit of $150 holds your place; remainder of fee due by Oct 1.  No refunds after Oct. 12, 2011.

Early Bird Special!
Register before August 31, 2011 and pay only $450 (a 10% discount)!

Travel and Lodging:  Workshop participants are responsible for their own travel and lodging arrangements. Port Orange is located about 10 miles south of Daytona Beach, so the Daytona airport is the closest. Lots of lodging alternatives from B&Bs to reasonably priced chain hotels are available within the greater Halifax area and just a few miles from the studio. Lodging suggestions are provided in your registration packet. Limited transportation assistance is also available upon request; call the studio for details.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Oil Painters of America

It's been a few weeks since my last post.  My only excuse is that I have been behind the easel painting, painting, painting.  My goal is to increase my portfolio which means painting daily up to eight hours a day.  Almost forgot to share information about the National Oil Painters of America's exhibition at the Devon Gallery  in Couer' d Alene, Idaho.  Check out all the great paintings being shown this month.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Hard At Work

These last few weeks have been extremely productive.  After a trip to N. and S. Carolina to visit family and friends, we stopped in our favorite cities of Charleston and Beaufort South Carolina.  My heart skips a beat in the presents of these southern beauties and I marinate in charm and history of the old south.   If you haven't been to Beaufort and taken a carriage ride through this storied town, put it on your bucket list.  Our carriage horse and guide were a show stopper and worth the ride.

Now back to the art scene.  I just discovered a great little book that I believe all professional artists need to have in their quiver of informational gems.  Deborah Paris  has written a straight forward, no holds barred book on how to grow in the profession of being a self sustaining painter.  It's entitled Studio & Business Practices for Successful Artists.  My experiences confirm that she knows what she is suggesting in every chapter.  Some of the topics include:  Studio Practices, Pricing Your Work, Approaching Galleries, and Self Promotion.  Check it out on her website, it's well worth the nominal price.

As my title suggests, I have been hard at work with a daily routine of six to eight hours a day in the studio. With classes canceled for the summer, I am using this time to put brush to canvas.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Four Stages of Learning

As a teacher and painter for more than thirty-five years, I have come to know many things.  The process of learning any and everything holds great interest to me.  More than ever before, I have focused on the learning process for myself and others in the area of painting.  Because of my experience as teacher and painter, my adult students have said that they have learned more about how to paint from me than any other teacher they have had.

Now mind you, I'm aware that there are many people who are good painters, are masters of their craft BUT can't get it across to others.  Having taught children and adults from the elementary to the college level my entire adult life, I can say that teaching is one of the most difficult things to do well.  Just the other day, I was in the studio with one of my adult ladies working on painting light shapes and shadow shapes.  We were both failing miserably using just a limited amount of colors on the palette.  After she left, I felt like I had failed (sorry, good teachers have a tendency to internalize the failure of their students taking it personally).  As they say, back to the drawing board.  What exercise could I give her to help her see what I was talking about?  What step(s) did I not give her? Was it not enough practice in the early stages, or something else?  All questions a good teacher asks when a student doesn't "get it."  Remember those days in school when you said, " I just don't get it."

Remembering some of the basics I had practiced as a student using plaster casts, I went to the local hardware store and bought a couple of wooden finials that go on top of fence posts.  After a little sanding, I painted them with a coat of white paint.  One finial had an egg shaped top (the halftones were a slow wide turn before going into shadow.  The other was an obelisk that tapered toward the top but the sides were somewhat of a right angle (no halftones with light shape touching the dark shape).  For her next class session, we set up both shapes and painted them in tones of gray.  This exercise did the trick; she got it!  She now understands the concepts, but may not be able to fully operationalize the concepts learned; that will take more practice.

The last statement reminded me of something I learned years ago in an education course and has served me well over the years.  I would like to pass it on to you.  There are four stages of learning:
  • Unconsciously unaware
    You're unaware that there is a skill to be learned, and that you don't have mastery of it.
  • Consciously unaware
    You're aware that there is a skill to be learned, and that you currently don't have mastery of it. You know just how bad you are and have some idea of how far you've got to go.
  • Consciously aware
    Through practice, you've become competent at the skill, but you have to think about it to make it happen.
  • Unconsciously aware
    You've practiced so much that your competence has become unconscious, you can do it automatically without having to think about it. You've completely internalized said skill.

    With so many skills needed in painting for mastery (if there every is a time you have really gained mastery), you can be in more than one stage during the painting process.  That's why I love the indirect method of painting because you break down, or separate the major steps, to lessen the challenges they present.

    Those steps look something like this:
    1.  Draw the image out first on paper.
    2.  Paint quick color poster studies, as well as, a couple of notan value studies
    3.  Transfer complete drawing to the canvas
    4.  With tones of gray, block in light shapes and shadow shapes
    5.  Complete your grasaille with halftones--keep the values to a minimum of 3 or 4.
    6.  Add color with thin transparent glazes.
    7.  Adjust colors and continue with more opaque colors on top.

    Painters like Richard Schmid are masters and for a good reason.  They go right to color and can see everything together-value, hue, and intensity .  Mr. Schmid truly exemplifies a person who is "unconsciously aware."  Here is an example of his work.                      


Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Warm vs. Cool Palette

My still life 'Pears and Peach' is for me another labor of love.  As simple as it looks, the painting took probably about thirty plus hours to bring it to this point.  And for me the joy in creating the painting comes from the fact that it was painted in layers of glazes.  I used Liquin as the medium so each layer dried in less than twenty-four hours so the painting was ready for a new next layer the next day instead of weeks.

I also experimented with color.  Usually my palette is warm (as in the previous post), but I realized that I had gotten into a rut so I tried using a cooler palette.  Here my underpainting is created with raw umber and terre verte.  I also lightened my background to a medium (5) value moving away from my usual near black backgrounds.  I really like the feel and mood of the painting since the values are closer together and much lighter.  What was really fun for me was using a semi opaque white in a soupy, milky consistency to scumble over the white fabric.  The photo doesn't do it justice but the white glows with light.

I know that many painters avoid the layering technique because of the time it takes, and I understand that reasoning. But, (there is always a "but") it is nearly impossible to get the "look" and "depth" of layered glazes without using this technique.  As always, your comments are welcome.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Painting a Grisaille/Underpainting

When teaching my weekly classes, I am again focusing a great deal on having my students work on blocking in light shapes and shadow shapes first.  This is not an easy thing for students with their yet "untrained eye" when looking at a still life setup. So, I have returned to the basics--having each student paint in a five value gray scale.  For a novice painter, removing color helps them focus on value first and foremost, and this method is also consistent with the traditional method.  I even have them put a piece of tape down the center of their palette and mix their grays with the light values on one side of the line and the shadow values on the other.  I am pleased to say, I am seeing real progress and so are they.  Here is an image of an under-painting I did using raw umber and white creating a five value gray scale.  I began with only two values, 2 and 7, and blended to create the halftones. When the under-painting dries, I will be working on the "dead" layer and adding the milky glaze of white to the objects.  Later the color glazes will be added to bring the image back to life, followed by thicker impasto paint in the highlights as part of a finishing layer before varnishing.  Did I say that this method is a tried and true one used by the Old Masters? I love it! It does take time and patience though, but it's worth the wait time (drying time, that is).  I've played a little fast and loose here with terminology, but will tighten up here so that my process can more easily be followed. Questions . . . please comment and I will reply with hopefully good answers.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Portrait of Larry

Although I'm not totally finished with my portrait "Larry," I'm posting images of what I have completed so far to share with you my efforts of last weekend while at the ACA retreat.  One issue yet to be resolved is the railing that Larry is leaning on.  The railing is white, but I didn't want the railing color to compete with Larry's white shirt.  The background is also a bit of a problem since it is composed of a lot of trees and foliage with light peaking through.   I'm thinking that just an indication of the background should be enough, but the "jury" is still out on this one.  More to come!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Workshop at the Atlantic Center for the Arts

Friday and Saturday I ventured out of my comfort zone.  I was invited to join a group of accomplished women artists for a weekend retreat at the Atlantic Center for the Arts in New Smyrna Beach, FL.  So why was that a comfort zone issue? I am a Classical-Realism still-life and portrait painter. So picture this---Classical-Realism and abstract taking residence in the same room; two different worlds coming together side by side.

These lovely ladies create images so big they required an entire wall to paint on.  And there I was with my little 12 x 16 inch canvas and my little easel in the midst of huge canvases as the abstract ladies made sweeping strokes of vibrant colors all around me.  At the end of the "work" day before having dinner together we critiqued each other's work and found that we had more in common that I at first thought.  Note to self. Good design and composition are universal.

As the adage says, "A good time was had by all" as well as a greater appreciation for abstract art created!

Here are a few of the images of Saturday's efforts.

My sincere thanks to Beau Wild for organizing this fantastic experience, and to the Abstract ladies, Sarah, Carol, Diana, Betty, Jean, and Gretchen for making me feel so welcome and one of the girls.

I will be posting my retreat portrait in a few days when it's finished.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Getting Ready for Northlight Gallery

It's that time of year again! Getting work together for the Northlight Gallery of Kennebunkport, Maine.  I can finally stop and take a look at nearly a year's work after framing and reframing, installing hanger wires and creating an inventory sheet for each of my "babies." My living room looks strangely like organized  chaos. With all pieces finished and ready for shipping, I must start the process all over again! Like another blogger said, "What am I going to do next?"  Should I break away from my comfort zone? Should I venture out into totally new territory? Questions like these circle around my mind like leaves in the wind . . . .  I'm a storyteller by nature; the narrative is my comfort zone.  But, putting stories to canvas is not necessarily an easy thing, or appreciated by critics for that matter---all that kind of "stuff" is but passe they frequently tell me. For me though the narrative is the "stuff" of life, the "it" that draws us into a picture, but in the language of form, value, and color. What is at the root of your picture making?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Portrait Demo by Louis Smith

As I checked out the blog posts that I belong to, I came across a teacher and portrait painter, Louis Smith,  that was noteworthy. Painting in a gray scale is difficult but a valuable exercise in learning about values.   I have been on a quest these past couple of weeks to understand the word halftone and understand how to use it with skill.  After much reading and a reference about John Singer Sargent's paintings having basically two values, I plowed into anything to do with halftones.  I can't say that I totally understand but I know more now than I did before.  I do know that too many values in a painting is, as C.W. Mundy said, like fingernails on a chalkboard.  More than that, too many values make for a weaker painting.  Value studies and notans help in preplanning a painting and to control the values.  Looking at Smith's demonstration, I see at least five different values in the face and hair.  My struggle is in understanding this concept---how should I collapse these values into two or three stronger values?  I am tempted to use all five! Your comments are welcome.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Teaching, Showing, and Painting

The last two months have been very busy including two outdoor art shows--which is always exciting--in addition to my own work and weekly art classes too.  Outdoor art shows are not only great for showing my work and meeting  possible clients, but also to promote my art classes.  The two shows did exactly that plus an added bonus---winning an award at each of the two shows!   It's always nice to get the extra recognition and the money goes along with the award.

Last weekend at the DeLand Outdoor Festival I met a lovely lady who makes quilts.  After talking with her about using one of her pieces in a painting, I found a small table runner with beautiful cool colors of blue teal and lavenders and arrange to purchase the quilt.  To my surprise at the end of the show, she brought it over to me as a gift and asked only that I send her a picture of the painting (which will include her quilt) when finished.   Her quilting business is called Unique Design by Linda K.  I love getting something new and with it the challenge of seeing what I can do with it in a painting.  So here is the still life arrangement I am currently working with.  The multifaceted pitcher along with the luscious colors of the quilt is going to be a challenge but well worth it.

Teaching is going very well and my classes are growing with new students.  Now I am trying to make room for everybody in the studio so we are not tripping over each other. The Saturday class is full and the Tuesday class is filling too;  I am thinking of adding another class day.  In addition, I would like to add a couple of workshops to my teaching schedule during the fall of this year.   So, if your art league or art group would like to schedule me for a workshop please contact me for more information.  

Thursday, March 24, 2011

OPA National Exhibition

I am pleased to announce that my painting, Country Morning, was accepted into the 20th Annual National Juried Exhibition of Traditional Oils for Oil Painters of America.  The exhibit will be held at the Devin Galleries in Coeurd d' Alene, Idaho, June 10 - July 9, 2011.  I'm not sure that I will be able to attend the opening but for anybody who can attend, it is worth the trip.  In the past approximately 2,000 entries are viewed and juried for a national show and this year only about 170 were accepted.  I am deeply honored to be one of the few. For all my local friends, please come to the DeLand Art Fesitival and enjoy not only the art but the beautiful 80's weather.

Sunday, March 6, 2011



                         After transferring the initial drawing onto canvas, I decided to execute the image of a white porcelain vase and a deep ruby red strawberry into values of gray--a grisaille.  The white vase was fairly straight forward but the strawberry was a different matter.  The bright green translucent leaves made me really compare the different areas to a gray scale that I borrowed from my husband's photography paraphernalia.  The shape of the vase looks off but it's because I shot the image on an angle to reduce the glare.  The exercise was powerful and I will use it with my students.  Try creating your own complete gray scale under-painting.  Then tell me all about YOUR experience.  I would really like to know what you found. If you E-mail me a photo of your grisaille, I will post it here with your credit line.  Comments are open and welcomed!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

More Beginnings

I feel like I dropped the topic of the different techniques that artists use to begin a painting without writing about the indirect method.  It takes many forms but has one thing in common.  It is done in layers and stages so as to deal with each challenge separately. Most indirect painters begin with a drawing, either directly on the canvas or on a sheet of paper then transferred onto canvas.  After fixing the image, thin layers are applied and allowed to dry before another layer is applied.  This is a simplified explanation.  If you would like more details, there are many sites that demo this type of beginning.  I am attaching a sample from Sadie Valeri' s blog of a painting done in this method.  Her work is magnificent and she is truly a talented artist.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Eye Path part 2

James Gurney's,  Marketplace of Ideas, and the  computer research performed on his image.  From the     book Dinotopia:  Journey to Chandra.
The first comment posted by Mary Byrom took me to some interesting research on eye tracking.  The information was posted on the blog of James Gurney.
The research is found under the index of composition and is extremely revealing about how we look at images.  I have attached below the six conclusions drawn from the research.  We know the brain is a pattern seeking organ and wants to make recognizable sense out of what it sees.  The more obscure the image  is the harder the brain works to detect something recognizable.  When painting a still life, having a "mystery" that makes the viewer's eye linger to understand what something is, is a great technique. 

These experiments force us to question a few of our cherished notions about composition and picture-gazing.
1. The eye does not flow in smooth curves or circles, nor does it follow contours. It leaps from one point of interest to another. Curving lines or other devices may be "felt" in some way peripherally, but the eye doesn't move along them.

2. Placing an element on a golden section grid line doesn’t automatically attract attention. If an attention-getting element such as a face is placed in the scene, it will gather attention wherever you place it.

3. Two people don’t scan the same picture along the same route. But they do behave according to an overall strategy that alternates between establishing context and studying detail.

4. The viewer is not a passive player continuously controlled by a composition. Each person confronts an image actively, driven by a combination of conscious and unconscious impulses, which are influenced, but not determined, by the design of the picture.

5. The unconscious impulses seem to include the establishment of hierarchies of interest based on normal expectations or schema of a scene. For example, highly contrasting patterns of foliage or branches will not directly draw the gaze unless they are perceived as anomalous in the peripheral vision.

6. As pictorial designers we shouldn’t think in abstract terms alone. Abstract design elements do play a role in influencing where viewers look in a picture, but in pictures that include people or animals or a suggestion of a story, the human and narrative elements are what direct our exploration of a picture.

As Dr. Edwards succinctly puts it, “abstract design gets trumped by human stories.” The job of the artist, then, in composing pictures about people is to use abstract tools to reinforce the viewer’s natural desire to seek out a face and a story.
           Because a still life doesn't usually have a face in it (some do have photos, etc.), we have to think        differently about what draws the eye in.  If you are a still life painter, how do you plan your compositions?  Once again my thanks to Mary Byrom who brought this research to my attention.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Eye Path

               Memories of Key West    11"X14"
Blogging about beginnings provided much needed insight on the process of starting.  Was there one right way?  From all of you who gave me insight into your beginnings coupled with what the master artists said, the answer is a resounding No.  I do know that the beginning you choose plays a large part on how it will look in the end.  Consequently, have the end in mind before you begin.
Now I have another issue that has plagued me for a long time.  The idea of composition and the placement of the elements that create an eye path for the viewer.  Countless books demonstrate how your eye moves throughout  a painting.  Arrows are drawn showing the movement around the elements.  Although academically it makes sense, my eye doesn't move around the way the arrows show.  Usually it goes directly to the most interesting aspect of the work and it stays there.  Only then do I look around at the other elements.   Then last week I read in an excerpt from a book on composition that said,   "One enters a painting from neither the left nor right, but from the front, going straight to that element of greatest contrast nearest the center."  BINGO!  That's what happens to me.  Someone had finally described my experience.  So my question to you is--am I not understanding eye path?  Are these eye path arrows more about good composition and not so much about how the viewer looks at a painting?  Or is this movement so quick that our brain only registers the final stopping point (focal point) in the painting?   Memories of Key West (above and with the top cut off) seems to have an eye path but it's the shell where my eye goes to first and lingers.  It's only after going to the shell  that I look at the glass lantern and crinkled paper.  Another thought might be that painters look at paintings differently than the general public. In your experience, do you compose your composition with eye movement in mind?  How do you view a painting?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Beginnings-More of Richard Schmid

Richard Schmid's beginning

After a short “sick” break, I continue now with two more ‘beginnings.’ These are from Richard Schmid’s book Alla Prima.

The first three methods I blogged about earlier provides much more support for the novice painter. These two methods below require a greater skill in judging correct value, color, and shape. I would not recommend them for the beginner. The Full Color Accurate Block-In begins with a tonal wash applied over the entire canvas. Pick a large mass/shape and lay it in with correct colors and values. Schmid reminds the reader to paint it as correctly and as completely as possible with its true value, color, and edges. The adjoining shape is done next in the same way, and continues connecting each shape that borders the previous one. He cautions that excessive modeling with value changes in the lights and shadows will undermine the design structure. Use color changes instead. I also find temperature changes work as well.

The last method is called Selective Start. This is Schmid’s favorite way of beginning. Although it sounds like the previous method, the difference is he begins with a point, not the largest mass. Begin by painting each little shape as carefully as you can from the start. Do it in as finished a way as possible, and use each correct color shape to guide you in painting all adjoining shapes. Build your picture in this way from a single accurate point, painting outward from that center, until you have the painting you want before you. He calls the final stage “mopping up.” Here Schmid checks for drawing errors, eliminates any unnecessary value changes and checks the overall design for simplicity.

As you can see, this is not for a beginner but it does sound like a goal to move toward. I’ve seen him demo portraits this way and he begins with the eye and works out from that point.  Looking at all the previous methods for starting a painting, do you have a different method that you find to be as valid as the ones featured here?  Please let me know so I can share with my readers.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Beginnings-More Richard Schmid

 by Richard Schmid

The second of Richard Schmid's "beginning" methods (he has six in total) is similar to his first and is called a Transparent (oil) Monochrome Block-In ( I'll call it TMBn to shorten it a bit)The TMBn is basically a value study done in one color on a white support.  This method is a good one because you work out all the problems of values, drawing, and edges without worrying about color.  Schmid suggests using a warm red, a mixture of transparent oxide red, burnt sienna, and with a touch of ultramarine blue.  Other colors can be substituted to create a warm paint color such as red brown and terra rosa with a little of the ultramarine blue.  However, stay away from Vandyke brown or burnt umber because of their cracking potential.  Brush on the block-in paint for dark values and wipe away paint to get light values.  

Schmid's third "beginning" method is similar to but just a little different than methods one and two.  Schmid calls method three The Transparent Monochrome As a Finished Painting.  Method three is like method two but carries the process further by adding transparent color and/or add opaque whites in the last stages.  Texture may be added too by a light rubbing of sandpaper, or steel wool, or palet knife scraping.

There are three more ways to begin a painting according to Schmid. I will review these in future blog posts.  I must say, however, that I love the monochromatic studies—they stand alone very well.  Try these methods for yourself and let me know what you experienced.  What did you like about each? Which beginnings method do you use most of the time?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Beginnings-Richard Schmid

In my reading, I came across a wealth of information on beginnings in Richard Schmid's book--"Alla Prima-Everything I Know About Painting."   He lists six different beginnings, starting with the most supportive, where elements of drawing shape and color are rendered separately, and ending with the the most difficult method, where you begin with the correct shape and color.   I love what he says about starting methods.  "It is hard to exaggerate the advantages of having a variety of starting techniques at your disposal.  Unquestionably, a flexible response to the demands of subject matter and conditions 
is better than having a single individualistic style of working ."                                                                                                                                                                  

Schmid calls the first method "Line and Mass Block-In."  This method is good for organizing complex compositions, or large paintings with numerous figures or object. First the canvas is toned, then draw and mass in tones by scumbling, or using an oil wash.   Finally, cover with opaque pigment.  Lines should define borders between shapes without adding volume.  Two drawbacks to this method is that is that it is time consuming and the quality of edges may suffer when finishing paint is applied because of a tendency to paint up to the "lines" but not into them.  If you are interested in learning from this master artist, check out the monthly on-line lessons called Learning From Richard Schmid  presented by Katie Swatland. She has created a marvelous opportunity to watch and learn to paint as if you were right there in Schmid's class. In my next blog post, I will share more of Schmid's starting methods. Until then ... Peace & Love

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Beginnings-No Toner Results

After doing the charcoal oil sketch on an oil primed white canvas with no toner, painting on the white canvas had some surprising results for me.  First, painting on a white primed canvas without a toner seems ideal for high key portraits---especially for portraits of children.  Why?  It's easier to keep it in a high key.  Kendal, who is extremely fair haired with almost ivory white skin lent itself to a high key image process.  Having said that, I'm thinking that value relationships are keyed to the white easier than with a canvas toned with a darker value because I'm making a lighter dark side of the image.  Does that make sense?

As I looked for support for my developing opinion, I observed that artists like Jeremy Lipking demonstrate on a white/light canvas .  At the Weekend with the Masters (2009) for example, Lipking demonstrated on a white canvas whereas  David Leffel began his demonstration using a darker pretoned canvas.  Second thought;  knowing what you want to achieve in the finished work is essential to how you begin the work.

In my next blog post I will focus on "beginnings" using the alla prima method on a pretoned canvas. Again, thanks to all who have taken the time to give me input on your method.  Your comments, pro or con, are welcomed and encouraged!
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