Friday, December 21, 2012

Busy and Big

I haven't fallen off the face of the earth.  Silence here means I've been in the studio.  Lots going on in addition to painting so let's get caught up.  Next month's issue of The American Art Collecotr magazine features still life painters and samples of their work.  I am honored to be part of that feature and can't wait to get my hands on a copy. 

In addition, a couple of my galleries are really working hard and asking for more of my "Threads of My Life" paintings.  Consequently, back to the lace and painting big.  The first painting has a tapestry rug under the delicate lace tablecloth.  Kind of a ying and yang, soft/rugged feel.  Also wanted to give it an environment that reflects a light filled room.  Images were made with my phone camera but are pretty clear.

 Moving on, I had a call for another Carolina Blue painting but I don't do exact repeats.  I used a different hand thrown pot (same artist) and of course, the cloth arranged in a more challenge drape. 
Another big canvas (30x40).  This will be sent to Lagerquist Gallery in Atlanta.

Our newsletter winner this is is Linda Oesterreich and recipient of a print of one of my paintings.  If I don't post before the year's end, wishing all a happy holiday and a prosperous new year.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Value Suppression/Compression

     As we all know as artist, we are always learning.  Sometimes a little tidbit and sometimes a huge Aha!  Yesterday was somewhere in between.  A few years back I came across the idea of compressing values into value groups so as to strengthen one's composition.  I remember the example given was about viewing a Sargent painting from a distance and how one could see three, no more than four value groups.  Only upon closer inspection can one see the subtle value changes within the value groups. Then this pass year at the national Oil Painters of America exhibition, Quang Ho shared his idea of the different intentions in painting with "Local Tone" being one of them.  Essentially, local tone is value compressing.  I think you get the idea.

     Having said that, I read this week on Stapleton Kearn's blog post about his students not using the full value range in their paintings.  Now I was confused.  Which was best and which of the two ways of seeing should I teach my students.  I'm attaching the original blog post first and only the first point he makes.  For the entire post check out his blog on my Blog List.  Mr. Kearns writes:

      There seem to be common problems that many students have, and recently I have been aware of how most of the students have the same things to learn. I get a broad range of students in terms of ability and experience, from beginners to semi-professional, so some of them don't have these shortcomings. Most of them do. Remember, I am not talking about you, or anyone you know, I am  talking about those "other" people who are far away. The common problems are these: (let me chamber a few bullets here)

  • Failure to express the full range of values in the scene before them. Most of the students seem to paint in a few middle tones. I always seem to be telling them, "when you look out there, you see a dark and paint it a dark value. When I look out there, I see a dark and ask myself, which dark is it? I have several to choose from." The students use a single generic dark and a single generic middle tone, etc. They command too few values to explain that at which they are looking. I have been telling them this ;:" Did you learn to read from the Dick and Jane books? " (for you younger readers, Dick and Jane were drab children who said things like "look Jane! see Spot run! Run,run run. See Dick run!!" Spot was a dog. Dick was once a common male name. Jane was a girl's name then, much  like Krystle or  Brittney might be today). he teacher went up to the blackboard and wrote a list of about ten words on the board before she even handed out the book. You had to know about ten words to read even this simple story. The authors of this sorry tome couldn't tell even its banal story without at least ten words. They couldn't write the book with only say... five words, they needed at least ten. If you imagine your value scale to be words you will need about 10 or at least six or seven anyway, to tell the story that is in front of you in the landscape. You students don't have enough words (i.e. values) to tell the story of the landscape in front of you. I suspect that the best cure for this problem would be cast drawing under the eye of a master, but that is atelier training and most people just can't leave their real life behind and do that. I am trying to come up with a systematic approach to curing this problem, I do have an idea. I will get back to you on that.
So I asked the question in the comment section and he responded yesterday and his words were very insightful.  Mr Kearns states my question and responds this way:

     A reader on the comments page recently asked me:
Please help my confusion on values. I have read and been taught to not use the full spectrum of values because it weakens the painting. Their instruction has been to narrow your values to three no more than four value groups by compressing the values together. By doing this you make a stronger pattern of shapes that holds together, especially from a distance. Please clarify. Looking forward to your response.

This is a big question and I may need more than a single post to answer it.

1)  There is the appearance of nature in light as it sits before you. I think I can readily discern and express about ten different values outside. Before the cast, as an atelier student I was taught with ten values. In practice I use maybe one or two less than that if I am trying to the the look of nature. When I teach, I generally try to point out the difference between nature and the students work. Most of the students I meet in workshops are struggling to get the image successfully and halfway accurately onto the canvas. That is the first skill that a student needs, transcription. This is not necessarily art, it is a skill and anyone can acquire it with some hard work.

Until a student has this ability it seems important to me, to help them "see" nature more clearly. I talk a lot about design, arrangement, color etc. but if I neglect to steer students closer to the look of nature I run the risk of teaching them "how I do things" rather than broader skills they can use themselves. So when I teach I would only suggest to the most advanced students that they paint their values any differently than they see them.

That artists who work in reduced numbers of values agree there are more values than they use seems clear, as they speak of compressing or limiting their values.

2) It is possible, perhaps desirable, to reduce the values in a design to get more unity of effect, a broader look and a clearer assembly of shapes. Usually the effect is one of a stronger, simpler arrangement. But, this is a lens  through which painter looks at nature, and not the appearance of nature itself. Compressing values, means to change them to something else, hopefully more desirable artistically.

This is a design method, and as such, a convention, a personal choice. That's OK, it is art after all, and the art lies in the choices we make about how  the painting will look more than in cold transcription. Below is a sphere with the parts of the light labeled on it.
The sphere above has five separate lights. A tree in light or a head or figure will generally need five separate values to explain itself. Where these five different values come from on the value scale, whatever size (but ten for the sake of this explanation) can be chosen and they could be derived from the middle of the scale or one end or even spread across its length from Stygian darkness to unalloyed white. I find it difficult to work effectively with fewer than five values. I  sometimes will design pictures using three premixed values, but when  I make that into a picture I feel the need to add a few more values here and there. Even this five value system precludes the representation of halftones. Each halftone (modeling in the lights) would add a separate value to the list. I don't present all of this to discourage the practice of suppressing or compressing values. This topic arose out of my listing problems that plague workshop students. I would suggest that the artist should first be able to render in  a full and not a truncated panoply of values before reducing their number.

4) I didn't hear the idea of compressing values until perhaps fifteen years ago, no doubt because of the enormous and beneficial influence of Richard Schmid. I learned something similar in the Gammell Studios though. It was  called the "BIG LOOK". The idea was this....Not to  cut up your big shapes with lots of varying values or details within them. One was to keep their shapes big, or uncluttered. Shapes of similar value would be  conjoined and darks or lights deliberately linked. All of these plus suppression of  detail gave a broader simpler look. Gammell often derided what he  called "looking into the shadows" that is allowing yourself  to refocus your vision  and examine separately from  the lights   the value  changes and detail within the shadows. That is the shadows  would be mistakenly painted as they appeared when examined individually and not as seen  in relationship to the entire scene including the  lights. This was seen as the enemy of the big  look.

     From the comments that followed this post, it appears that his explanation was very valuable and I hope that it will help you.  As a teacher, I have to remember not to teach what I do personally but to teach them to transcribe first in full values.  Later they can choose their own artistic interpretation.

Thanks Stapleton.  Don't forget to check out his blog.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Historically Illiterate

The last few weeks I have been on a tirade on the subject of standards.  Particularly due to Stapleton Kearn's blog about workshop students not knowing the masters in art of the past and somehow tied in with all the election chatter on Facebook.  To make this connection clear as mud, it's about elevating  oneself above the "chatter among the stumps" and choose to soar above the trees.   And if so inclined, fly even higher.  Okay now I know I have totally lost you but hopefully intrigued you to keep reading.  Here are the points I am trying to make done so much more clearly by David McCullough, learned historian and author, on a 14 min. interview on 60 minutes.  Unfortunately there are a few commercials peppered throughout this interview but well worth the viewing.  His  comments about our youth being historically illiterate is profound.

So many interesting talking points can come from this interview.  In defense to all teachers, your job is very difficult given the students of today's culture(s).  Just yesterday, a friend and teacher at the college level shared the story of a young woman in her class. She teaches writing/English and most of her students are in their first year funded by Pell Grants.  After presenting information on why writers write and the four purposes of writing, she asked for understanding by calling on a young lady sitting in the front row.  Even with the four purposes written on the board, the woman responded with "I don't know."  Asking for further information about what she didn't understand, the young woman shouted at her saying, "I told you I don't know," and grabbed her books and walked out.  REALLY?

This kind of event shouldn't happen in any of colleges or universities, but it seems that our smaller (local) schools in particular draw from communities of students who apparently are not truly interested in learning, so teachers deal with attitudes like this every day of the week.  And this is also true in our high schools and even at the elementary level as well.  I know because I was in the classroom myself for many years. 

Okay, I feel better now getting this off my chest.  What can I do to stem the cultural tied that is eroding our country as the great nation that it has been?  Truly, nothing!  All I can do is keep my personal standards high and my moral underpinnings in place.  All comments are welcomed, but know I'm trying to speak from the vantage point of the clouds and not the stumps on the floor of the forest.  In my opinion, we need solutions, not more mud slinging and static getting us nowhere.  As one of my professors once said, "Our values are not what we profess, but what we actually live."

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Art Extravaganza in Charleston

Last Thursday night (November first) in Charleston, SC was an event that was beyond fantastic.  Maggie Kruger of M Gallery of Fine Art SE sponsored the Star Studded Art Extravaganza and Painting Demonstration with five great nationally known painters.  These five painters with five great models painted for nearly four straight hours among patrons watching and even talking to the artists as they worked.  Each artist had not only a great model but the setting was enhanced with valuable antiques and props provided by Burke Antiques LLC of Sarasota, Fl.

I walked around through the crowded room for awhile watching each artist begin his or her painting, which was, I must say, a lesson in of itself.  No two artist began the same way.   Out of the five, I was able to get to four of them and watch their process.

Here is Kevin Beilfuss in action with his reclining nude (no photo allowed).  His colors were vibrant with linear drawing placing the subject in the proper place on the canvas.

Next was Bryce Cameron Liston painting an elegant lady in a black gown with an antique mirror reflecting back the image.

Across the room was Michelle Dunaway painting a gorgeous red-head reading a book on an antique table.  She began by painting the eyes and working out from that point.  Very dramatic!

The fourth artist was Lynn Sanguedolce painting a male nude juxtaposed against antique Chinese double doors.  She is the recipient of this years First Honor Award at the Portrait Society of America's International Competition. In addition, she was a finalist in the Art Renewal Center Figurative category  Unfortunately I couldn't get close enough to get a good image without including the nude.  Check out her paintings and her awards.

And finally, Thomas Reis the Best of Show winner this year from the Art Renewal Center.  His model was wearing an antique silver wedding headpiece from China. An amazing image! And his imagery drew me in and held me transfixed! He began by sketching with charcoal his vision of his painting establishing the proper proportions of the piece before apply paint.  I have a few images because I finally planted myself at a table next to him.  Watching him was like watching a rhythmic dance where his brush moved in a way that was lyrical.

Then at 10:30 sharp all painting stopped; time was up!  Each painting was framed right there on the spot and displayed on stage. Patrons who bought tickets for a raffle of each painting then found out who was the lucky one to take a painting home.  There were the disappointed and there were others with great joy; all in the suspense of the drawing process. 

Here Maggie Kruger of M Gallery and Joshua Rose editor of The American Art Collector Magazine are giving away the paintings.  The painting on the left is the new free painting "Within the Forest" by Albert Handel that will be given away next year to some lucky winner if they register on line at M Gallery.  Check it out for more information.

This night of the Star Studded Art Extravaganza was indeed a night to be remembered! And in addition, the evening was a masterful experience for any artist to have had! I look forward to next years Art Extravaganza!  Thank you Maggie!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


I've been thinking a lot about workshops recently; not only my own, but those I've taken in the past.  I always held the idea that if I could learn one unmastered skill, or have just one good aha moment, it would be worth the cost.  But really being practical during these tight economic times, is one skill in a three day workshop worth the total cost? That's point one!

Thinking back, I wish I could say that every workshop I took made a big difference in my painting skills, but sadly I can't. Most of the time the workshop consisted of a demo, personal anecdotes, a few questions asked by the audience, followed by the artist dobbing some paint on my canvas, saying very little if anything significant or helpful.  In one case, I had to ask the teacher to stop by and give me advice.  I have to admit though that workshops are my kind of fun. Being with other artists and sharing a common interest is rewarding.  Maybe just the experience is justification enough; that's one way to look at it!  That's point two!

So lets take a deeper look into the idea of taking a workshop away from home.

There are some really good master artists offering workshops these days at various locations all across the United States. But be prepared to pay big money for big names. Such workshops can run as much as $600.00 to $1,200.00 for a three day workshop and sometimes more. Then there is the cost of travel, lodging, and food costs to consider in addition to the cost of the workshop bumping the daily cost to nearly a $1,000 per day sometimes. If you can afford it, a workshop with a big name can be lots of fun and you get the bragging rights to say that you have taken art lessons form Master Artist (put your favorite artist's name here). In addition, your get to rub shoulders with the big name and the people that the big name attracts.

With regards to my point two; don't be offended if you don't get one-on-one attention by the workshop presenter! Most, if not all, workshop presenters know very well that many of their attendees are there for the experience and to have a good time (I'll have more to say about that a bit later in this post).  They don't know whom might be a budding new discovery artist and in some cases they may not even care. I have found that if the presenter is a Big name often times there are other big names attending the workshop too, and the big names tend to associate with one another; certainly not the novice painter.  It can be very difficult to break in to the inner circle unless of course you are an attractive young thing.  Sorry if this offends some of the male instructors but it comes from personal observations. The other way to be ignored is to be over a certain age.  Some instructors view you as a "Sunday painter" and are treated as such.  You know what I am talking about so I won't say any more.

So what's my point? A workshop may not be what you need.  First, if you are going to take a workshop know why you want to take the workshop in the first place.  For the novice, this might be to get a good start, to have that great experience, or to rub shoulders with a big name.  If any of these is your goal, fine! But, before you spend lots of dollars on the workshop find out if the artist you admire for their style of work has a book or books and/or DVDs that you can learn from, and then do your homework.  Next, sit down and practice, practice, practice.  You should have your basic skills down pat or you will embarrass yourself!  Until you have gained command of the basic skill sets that allows you to put paint to canvas with some assurance you are wasting your time and money with most workshops. Better still, find a good local artist and teacher that will critique your work and offer advice.  And better yet, find a local teacher that you can take classes from on a weekly basis.  With all the great books and instructional DVDs available, you can master quite a few skills in the privacy of your own studio. And nothing is better than long term learning with a good instructor for real progress.

At this point you might be wondering why I am giving this advice since it would seem I am shooting myself in my own foot.  Here's the honest truth.  I gave my first workshop (after teaching weekly classes for years) this summer and I was really excited about giving my students the best instruction I could.  As I planned out the five days, I asked a couple of seasoned instructors for their advice.  And guess what? Their advice was don't go to all that work and trouble.  Just give them an experience that is entertaining, and paint a little on their canvas and they will be happy.  They won't use what you give them anyway when they get back home, I was told.  Really?  That's not my style and never has been as a professional educator for more than 25 years.  Needless to say, I gave it all I had and it was a success (and I was exhausted too). 

So my advice, if I may, is to ask around before signing up for any workshop.  Check with others whom you know who have taken from this teacher or that to see if the workshop is going to give you what you are wanting.  Do your research; read everything you can find about the artist and their style of painting, and then see if they offer something more than just workshops. 

Weekly classes as I said earlier is the best way to go since it gives you time in between to let the information soak in and time to practice at home.  I'm posting here a painting from one of my weekly students who began her study back in February.  She has been coming regularly and works very hard.  Great work Shayna!

Why did I write this?  I have wanted to take a workshop to strengthen my portrait skills from an instructor that would elevate me to the next level.  Each time I start to register all of the above ideas have stopped me.  So, I have decided to take my own advise; that is to practice, read, watch DVDs, and practice, practice, practice. And I mean every day; not just when I feel inspired!  No still life painting for me has taken place for many weeks now.  And here is some of the results --- one of four portraits that I have completed.  And when I am ready I will look for an artist with whom I can study not for a weekend, but for weeks and months --- just as the Old Masters did with their inspirational master artist teachers.

I would like to hear about your experiences (no instructor names please) with workshops.  If you disagree, please let me know.  I would like to be convinced otherwise.

Monday, October 8, 2012


Yesterday's post with the image of the portrait I was working on was met with very positive comments.  Today I finished it and am pleased.  The hair was a challenge due to the fuzziness of the curls and the light that glowed from behind.  My vision for the painting was to capture the light in the hair and to give a light airy magical feel like a fairytale princess.    Here is a close up and the finished piece.  My efforts now will be to spend more time on the figure and the portrait.

By the way, this was painted on a panel which I haven't used for a few years.  I don't know why I got away from using this smooth surface. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

So What?

This week as usual, I read my semi-weekly newsletter "Painter's Keys from Robert Genn.  This one was entitled--So What?  Boy did it hit the mark for me.  A writer asked Robert how to elevate their work beyond the "so what" level.  She stated she could draw and paint well but she knew there had to be something more.  Robert said that in the literary and theatrical world they had a French term deus ex machina which means "God from the  machine"  or roughly translated, "God made it happen."  This device is used to solve an unsolvable problem or when an author paints himself into a corner.

Here is the gem of advice.  "Ask yourself what extraordinary thing could be made to happen in your picture.  Examples would be, among many things, a burst of light or an unlikely inclusion.  You need to think of something just a bit magical.  An engagement of imagination brings a shot of emotion, drama or surprise."   Wow, did that make me see things in a new way.  It gave me permission to be a little unorthodox.  Thank you Robert Glenn.  To read this newsletter just click here.
My still life paintings from now on will be influenced by the "so what?" question.

This week I decided to paint a portrait just for the fun of it.  A few months back a friend of mine posted a picture of her daughter on Facebook that just captured my imagination.  Her pensive look and flowing golden hair was right out of a fairytale.   After getting permission to paint her using the photo, I finally got around to put image to canvas.  It's not finished but I'm off to a good start (I think).  Her hair is light and golden yellow but with the light coming from the top, it glows with an angelic softness. 

I've finished the top portion of the hair but the lower part is fine curly, almost fuzzy, ringlets.  The challenge is to capture that softness without breaking up the lights and darks and loosing the form.  There is a reddish cast to the yellow ochre and gray green cascade of strands so I laid in the darks first.  Tomorrow I will pull out the lights where necessary to the right of the ear and below.  Her entire left should is covered with soft, fuzzy, single strands.  Not sure how to tackle this just yet.  I am keeping the background high key and light filled.  When finished, I will post a better image.  Wish me luck!

Friday, September 28, 2012

And the Winner Is . ..

Just had the drawing for the giclee from the list of newsletter subscribers.  Congratulations goes to Debbie MacDonald.  Please contact me with your address so I can mail you your print.

I was asked recently how the 5 day workshop I gave two months ago went.  My hats off to all artist who do this on a regular basis.  There is a big difference in weekly classes and a workshop format.  I was exhausted but the students did great, learned a lot, and felt it was well worth the time and expense.  Here is the finished demo I did for them during the first two sessions. 

Some of the elements that were discussed in doing this piece was painting white fabric, the use of grays and the beauty they bring to your painting, painting translucent surfaces like the tangerines, and a composition element I call mass, line, and dot.  Any questions, please don't hesitate to ask.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Exploring the Power of Grays

Sometimes it takes a while to find your way in the world of color as a painter especially when living in Florida. The Sunshine state brings out the colorist in most painters I know who live here.  Homes are open design with big windows, and with beautiful sunlight days the sunshine flows in abundantly.  Most people love big, bright colorful paintings on their walls, what walls they do have because of so much glass.

I've tried painting the intense colors but they are just not for me.  My first art teacher told me that neutral grays are easier to live with over a long period of time and that bright, intense colors aren't.  I think he was right.  The delicate warm and cool grays of the color wheel make me tingle with delight.  Intense color for me, used sparingly, and supported by an abundance of grays is my re-found friend as I explore my color interests. In fact, the more I explore color the more I am convinced this will be my palette for a very long time.  "My name is Debbie and I am a Tonalist."  Saying it is half the battle.

Below are photos of the painting I just finished along with a photo of the actual still life, and the first pass of color, the finished (I think) piece and some close ups.

The photos aren't the best as far as the lighting but you get the idea.  The beaded tassel and the brandy in the overturned snifter are the only intense colors.  Just enough!  The fur piece is my grandmother's muskrat collar.  I remember her wearing it and was fascinated with the beady eyes looking at me.  There is an actual head and dangling legs on this thing which I carefully tucked toward the back.  I truly don't see how ladies of the day wore this gruesome looking creature but it was fun to paint.  Chime in on your feelings about using grays in your paintings.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

New Teaching Studio

My husband David and I have been busy renovating the area where I teach painting.  I think that it is now finished.  Some of the changes include wall mounted electrical outlets for each individual mini painting studio; a great safety feature - no more extension cords on the floor.  I sewed black curtains that hang from ceiling to near the floor.  These curtains help to keep the lights from one student's still life station and easel from contaminating the still life station and easel-palette light of the next student to the left or right.

Each student also has their own still life pedestal with internal storage, an easel, palette table, and chair - if one does not want to stand. The wall and floor is painting in a neutral gray or green making each area very comfortable and conducive for color management when mixing paints and applying to canvas. In addition, each lamp fixture is equipped with a color balanced bulb. And even the ambient lights are color balanced too. This 'system' seems to be working out well, and my students really seem to love it too. One of my students who has lived and studied in Italy exclaimed that the new teaching studio now looks and feels like an atelier that she experienced in Florence. 
We have room for six students which is just the right number for me.  A six students cap allows me to give everyone quality individual instruction.  We also have a learning area with a flat screen monitor to show images and videos.  And of course, music.  With my new iPad3 and speaker system, and with Pandora or my iTunes playing in the background, it all makes for a very pleasant atmosphere.  All we need now is a coffee bar.  Oh, we have that in the kitchen just down the hall. Okay, what can we do next? I'll have to think about that.  Any suggestions?

Monday, September 3, 2012

One More Time

I said I wouldn't paint the French lace tablecloth again but I lied.  There is something about the fabric and intricate pattern of beautiful grays that calls me back time and time again.  When I was in Denver for the OPA National Exhibition, I discovered an interesting ceramic pot in an art gallery that I just had to have.  Put the two together and magic happened.  This pot offered the challenge I was looking for.  The pattern is more of a three dimensional relief that reminds me of the stratus of earth sections when you view a cross section.  The siennas and oxide reds are beautiful and very dramatic.  I've been asked just how I paint the lace and this intricate cloth.  That's not a simple question to answer but I do have some basic advice for the beginning pass that I can share.

First, it is critical to look at the cloth and see two values, light and shadow.  Ignore the small light catching lace that is dark all around but because it is raised, its surface catches small spots of light.  Mass in the lights with a value of about a two and a half to three and the darks with a value of around five.  In my earlier paintings I made the dark shapes too dark because when you squint they do appear darker but now I know not to be deceived by this dark value.  Open lace work like the left side and at the bottom is massed in loosely.  The left side is in the light and the bottom is mostly in the dark.  I'm not concerned in the first pass of the subtle value and temperature shifts.  That comes later.  My two values are made with raw umber and zinc white.  Zinc white is more transparent and mixes with less chalkiness.  Keep edges soft even if they appear hard.  A hard edge where needed can be added later.  The other important decision and part of the first pass is to decide on your background air color.  Here I have chosen a dark, almost value 9, of my black mixture with a heavy amount of transparent red oxide.  This is applied with lots of turpentine and applied thinly.  Mix a lot of air color to be used in the next layer when the first layer has dried.

The next pass is more complicated but know that it takes a lot of squinting and adjusting of values within the light and shadow value. These white values  have slight temperature changes that I don't always see but I paint them nevertheless to give it the lace feel of dimensionality and tonality.  Directions at this point is almost impossible.  I go on autopilot and work on sections at a time usually top to bottom, right side to left side.  I think it's a brain dominance thing.  One thing at this point is to let the painting tell you what it needs and what looks bests as opposed to what the actual white fabric looks like in front of you.  I don't know if any of this helps but this tablecloth has taught me more than any workshop or class I have ever taken.  If you have any specific questions about this process, I will be happy to try to answer them.

My newsletter will be published by the end of this week so if you haven't signed up yet, please do so.  Your name will be added to those already receiving the newsletter for a giclee print.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Michael Klein Video

Michael Klein is a superb painter and on my top ten list of favorite painters.  His flowers are so deftly painted that they make you want to drool.  He has created an on line collection of artists that are of his caliber and worth noting called American Painting Video Magazine, I would strongly suggest you check it out.  Here is a video clip of Michael in his studio and a sample of the fabulous magazine (Spring 02).

                                                                    Michael Klein

Friday, July 27, 2012

Life Is Good

Just sold from True North Gallery in Kennebunkport, Maine, one of my personal favorites, "Carolina Blue".  I always enjoy painting subject that have special meaning for me; that tell my story and describe  my heritage in some way.  And it's always heartening too when an art buyer connects with my story in fine art and lays out the cash to purchase one of my creations.  There is a lot of discussion these days in art circles about the value of brick and mortar art galleries in this digital age when artist's can and do sell their own work online.  While I offer my work directly to buyers online too, my sales come primarily from the hard work that my gallery owners do for me as my agent. I extend my personal expressions of appreciation and thanks to Jill and Harry of True North Gallery and Northlight Gallery; keep up the good work you do.  And I extend my special thank yous too to Mary Katherine of the Fredericksburg Good Art Company, Maggie of M Gallery of Fine Art, S. E., and Kay of the Lagerquist Gallery; I appreciate you all.  Thank you for all that you do for me and the other artist's that you represent.

When you go to the True North website using the link above, you will see "Carolina Blue" another of my paintings that recently sold hanging on the wall to the left.  Here it is close up.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Gallery Guilt

Isn't it great when someone reveals a feeling or thought that you can relate to and agree with at some level.  Well this one hits the mark in that department.  When I go to an outdoor art show or to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY, after about a half an hour, I'm ready to walk out.  This Ted Talk speaks to this.  Check it out.  Author of Girl with a Pearl Earring is right on.

Monday, July 23, 2012

New Work

Posting has been non-existent because I have been at the easel.  After returning from the OPA Exhibition in Colorado and the infusion of so much information from master artists, I feel I'm on fire.  New ideas and the purchase of some new brushes have given me a burst of energy that is better than caffeine.  This painting, Wine Decanter with Cherries and Clementines (24x30) is now finished.

The glass decanter is an heirloom treasure that was used for the storage of wine back in North Carolina.  This one will be going to the M Gallery of Fine Art in Charleston, SC.  Another painting is one the easel;  I'm on a roll!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

And the Winner Is . . .

As promised today was the drawing for one of my lucky newsletter subscribers.  Congratulations goes to . . . Julie Ford Oliver.  She will receive a print of one of my paintings.  And to all the rest of you fine folks, there's more drawings coming up. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012


Just found out my painting, French Lace, shown at the OPA National Exhibition at the Evergreen Fine Art Gallery in Colorado French Lace was sold.  It is so rewarding to know that my passion for fabrics and painting the heirlooms of my family resonate with others.

Maggie Kruger owner of M Gallery of Fine Art, Charleston SC was there in Evergreen and wrote about this great event, including pictures.  Read her blog and the exciting adventure she had including bears, oh my!
Just a reminder that if you haven't signed up for my newsletter, do so now.  You can view the past issues and catch up on information worth noting.  The drawing will be held on the 15th and the winner will be posted here on the blog at that time.  

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Quang Ho and What I Learned

This month I attended the National Exhibition of Oil Painters of America in Evergreen, Colorado.  One of the many highlights of this weekend was a three hour demonstration by Quang Ho. His alla prima approach was extremely informative both in what he looks for when judging--that info can be found in his DVD, Nuts and Bolts--and his thinking/approach to painting.  What was new to me was a brush called an Egbert (it sounds like a cartoon character doesn't it) and in Quang's hand was amazing.  Here is what it looks like.  It's an extremely long filbert.

This one is a Robert Simmons Signet but other companies make them.  It gives you the ability to make bold beautiful sweeping strokes like a Japanese calligraphy brush and can twist on its edge for expressive thin/thick lines.  As soon as I got home I ordered two.  I had to condition the bristles before I used them in order to get rid of the stiffness.  Quang used this brush to apply the initial layer of paint in a soft, loose manner and continued to use it throughout the entire painting.  If you want to see him in action, check out his DVD, Painting the Still Life.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

What's Up

As an artist, I try to keep my finger on the pulse of what's going on with my fellow artists.  A big thata boy goes to David Gluck for his award from ARC for the William Bouguereau Award for his portrait, The Trapper.  He is a master of the portrait and the still life.  Check out all the other award winners.  As a side note, I'm pleased to announce that my painting, "Study in White" sold from my gallery, The Good Art Co. in Fredericksburg, Texas.   

Selling a major piece is a bitter sweet experience and there is a moment of feeling like you want to say, " I've changed my mind."  Luckily that feeling passes quickly.  I'm glad it has a good home.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

OPA National Exhibition and Quang Ho

Just got back from Evergreen, Colorado and the best experience a painter can have without painting.  Quang Ho was the master judge and also gave a great still life demonstrations.

 I met some wonderful people, ate great food, visited an old friend, and learned so much.  If you are an oil painter, the Oil Painters of America is an organization that has many benefits.  Daniel Green did a portrait demonstrations and Neil Patterson, president of OPA, was the model.

We drove out of the area passing through Colorado Springs just before the fires began to spread.  Between fires in Colorado and Tropical Storm Debby in Florida, Mother Nature has been very busy and a real challenge driving back.  One of the presentations that was worth the trip itself was by Lori Woodward about the state of the art market.  Check out her blog and the valuable information she shared with us. 

My next newsletter will be out the first of July, so sign up to receive your personal newsletter delivered directly into your e-mail box.  This month's gift will be a giclee of one of my paintings.  Click the Eiffel Tower and sign up today.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Great News

Validation for  one's work is always a welcomed experience.  This year my husband David has been entering my work in several competitions.  Now for the great news.  I just found out that one of my paintings was chosen to be a finalist in the RayMar Art Contest for the month of June.  I would like to thank Warren Chang for his kind comments.  Here is the direct link to my painting and Warren's description of why he chose it. 

"Roots" has special meaning for me since the meat grinder and milk pail come from the farm back in North Carolina.  I've been lugging them around with me all these years and never gave them a second thought until I began this journey of capturing my "roots" on canvas.  The root vegetables were fun to paint, hence the title.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Oil Painters of America

Next week, June 22, the Oil Painters of America 21st Annual National Exhibition will be held at the Evergreen Fine Art Gallery, in Evergreen Colorado.  My bags are packed and I can't wait.  After looking at all the paintings that will be on exhibition, I'm as excited as mouse in a cheese factory (minus the traps).  One of my Threads of Life paintings will be on display, French Lace II.

To see all of the paintings in this series, go to my website.  Denver here I come!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Sweet Pear

I'm having a great time painting pears.  This golden colored Bosc pear is as luscious to look at as it is to eat.  Check it out.  It comes framed and price includes shipping and handling.

  Click here for Pear Study 1

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Newsletter Drawing

This month's newsletter drawing winner is Ellen Finch.  Congratulations Ellen and you will receive six notecards with the image Florida Tangerines.  This image can be seen on a previous blog,
so check it out.  We would have done this live but David is still learning how to use our new camera.  Gee how I miss the old days when you just turned something on with a click, it worked. 

I would also like to thank everybody who has signed up for the newsletter and if you haven't, do so. You don't want to miss out on my "thoughts."  Somebody said after reading my last Thoughts From the Crone's Nest, "It's a great place to visit but I wouldn't want to live there." I guess I spend too much time thinking about how we learn.  It's a professional hazard resulting from teaching for over thirty years and understanding that deer in the headlights look.  Keep painting and keep reading.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Newest Painting

Busy, busy, busy and I know I'm not alone.  Everyday on Facebook it appears a lot is going on with my fellow artists.  For me, I'm moving at full speed.  Well it feels like full speed.  I just finished a new painting with all the things I love--kitchen stuff.  This one I'm calling "Baked in Tradition."  Remember the metal flour sifter used before our bags of flour were presifted.   Also included is one of three of my cast iron skillets.  The glass milk bottle comes from my great aunt's dairy farm from years past.   Those that have already have seen this painting have asked how I painted the red checked fabric.  I would love to tell you but I will save that for my workshop in the fall (Oct. 22-26). 

                                                                   Baked in Tradition
                                                                   16X20 oil on linen

Information for this workshop is on my teaching website and click on workshops.  If you have any particular questions, don't hesitate to contact me.  If you have signed up for my newsletter, you should have received it yesterday.  For those of you who signed up today, I will send you a copy.  Drawing for the special gift will be Saturday around 2 o'clock.  So if you haven't signed up, be sure to do so.  The gift this month is one of my original Small Gem oil paintings. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Newest Painting

The drawing posted earlier is now a finished painting.  This image is showing on the warm side because of the lighting but in real life is much cooler.  These items come from my great aunt's dairy farm.  The meat grinder is like new but is as old as the milk container.  Lots of fun with painting metal.  Amazing how ordinary objects can be so captivating. 


Monday, May 7, 2012

Just Thinking

I had an aha moment the other days after a written conversation on FB with a fellow artist.  The topic was about method.  For me method has been an issue because for a time I was trying to discover the "right way."  Then, as you can read in earlier blog posts, I researched different methods for beginning a painting.  I was again looking for the best method.  As in life, I discovered I was asking the wrong question.  What did my FB friend say when asked why he painted in the method he did?  His response was, "my method supports my strengths AND my weaknesses."  He didn't elaborate further but since he has many videos on line, I was able to see his strengths.  I can only guess at his weaknesses.  I can't detect any.  So the question, in my opinion, should be. . . what method best takes advantage of my strengths and helps any weaknesses?

Now here is where a discussion, if one can be truly honest, could really be helpful.  Do most artists paint in a method because of this strength/weakness issue?  For example, if you love drawing and are really good at it, will you choose traditional images over painting non-representational?  And the opposite . . . if you can't draw well but have a talent for color and color harmonies, will you gravitate toward strong color possibly with a more impressionistic style?  There are many more examples I could come up with but you get the idea.  Besides strengths and weaknesses, do we as artist gravitate toward a particular style or method based on our personality when it comes to the time it may take to complete a painting.  I heard one painter say, "if I can't finish it in three hours, I'm not interested."  Couple this with an artist who takes three months to finish a small painting.  Maybe the statement that art is an expression of self is really about our personality, strengths, and weaknesses.

My strength is drawing.  I love not just sketching in the underdrawing but bringing it to a very finished rendering.  The drawing insures that my painting will be accurate (another thing I love).  Here is an example.

Weigh in with your thoughts.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Still Teaching

This week has been invigorating for me and I think my students.  My curriculum emphasizes the basic skills including form-light and dark, value, and edges.  Their progress is amazing and I celebrate all that they are doing.  Here a pics of them hard at work.  You go girls!

As you can see, they are all working on individual skills depending on their level of ability.  One size does not fit all.  Check out the information for my upcoming workshop in October.  Would love to see you here.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Teaching, My Other Day Job

Good news.  My weekly classes have filed to capacity.  Bad news.  I'm getting less personal painting done.  It was the best of time and the worst of times.  So I grab time wherever to write and blog .  This morning came early for me and at 5 am, I began writing the second installment for my newsletter.  Teaching and learning will be the subject.  If you haven't signed up for the Newsletter, be sure to do so.
Some of my students are now ready for color and the challenges color brings.  Wish me luck.  I truly want them to understand more than just slapping color on the canvas and calling it pretty.  We will be doing color studies and thumbnail value studies.  It's critical to work these elements out before beginning the actual painting.  My students agree.  Here is Shanna who has never painted until six weeks ago.  Way to go girl!

I've scheduled the fall workshop for Oct. 22-26--click here for more information.  Besides five days of intense instruction on classical painting, including thumbnail sketches, color studies, color harmonies, compositional tools, we have a fantastic evening cruise on Spruce Creek with wine and cheese.  After the cruise, a catered dinner outdoors in the old Florida tradition, bond fire included.  I promise an experience you will be talking about for a long time.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Great Book

Great art books are few and far between so when I find one that is fantastic, I just can't help but share the news.  A student brought it into the studio and shared it with the class.  Juliette Aristides has written a concise book on classical drawing with so many examples and illustrations . The best part is the DVD.  Scenes from Florence and Venice make you want to grab your sketchbook, pencil, and buy a plane ticket for Italy.  Her demonstrations are extremely informative and doable. 

I've added this book to my list on the right side.  Just scroll down and you can order it directly.  It's affordable; less than $20 and the DVD is worth the price alone.
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