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Showing posts from 2013


It is going to be close as to whether or not this little guy will be the last 2013 picture.  Worked with him today to get the hair mostly in, still some finishing touches as I see it up on the screen here.  Am thinking of trying the second pose I have of him and change it up with more color, not trying to be traditional and then post to see which one gets the most votes - that might be my first 2014 challenge.
Have a Happy and safe New Year 2014.  A toast to you all my friends.

When it has been a while since you have done a portrait, you tend to skip and jump right in, especially if you are excited about the subject.  Guilty.  But, alas, there is a reason that it is taught to measure, drop diagonals, remeasure and check and recheck.  One of my nemesis in portraits is that I tend not always to get all the angles of the eyes, nose and mouth going in the same plane.  So after doing, erasing, repositioning line drawing, and erasing, well you get my drift, I think I have finally got the nose and mouth foreshortened and things back in sync.  If anyone sees something else, please let me know - thankfully pastel is pretty forgiving at this point.
The other important thing is to remember you can always reestablish the drawing - when you are blocking in color many times your guideline drawing gets colored over, you can either erase to your original lines or better to restablish with either very light pencil line or maybe a different color pastel that would blend easi…


Dipping my feet back in the pastel pool with this one.  When last in DC I took the opportunity to take some reference pictures of some of the cutest kids.  This little boy being one of the cutest - reminded me of a cherub, oh that curly hair!!  Got two nice shots of him - he just posed for me and then smiled shyly while hanging by his grandmother.  Goals here are keeping the complexion light and working the blonde hair. 
To me this is a funny shot as while I am looking down at him, he is looking up so I expect a big foreshortening challenge on the cheeks, nose and mouth because it appears kind of flat to me in the ref pic  - Hilda, might be coming to you asking for some advice here.  Both those areas can be problematic for me.  But I just had to paint him, so .... he may be my first finished piece of the new year, or if he really wants to come out, be the last piece of the year - who knows.
Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and are having a great painting week, thanks for stop…
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
Wishing you all the happiest holiday season.  Hoping this puts a little bling in your New Year.  Thanks to all for stopping by and offering encouragement over this past year.  Your work, your comments and most of all your friendship mean so much and inspire me.  The goodness of strangers, who have become friends says there is nothing wrong with the art world that we live in.  Celebrate, Enjoy and stay Safe.
Here are my experiments for this week.  When we were in DC last week we saw an exhibit of silhouette portraits which was a popular art form in the 1700-1800s.  Looking at photos of sunrise or sunset, most cameras make all back lit shadows look solid black.  Thought that would look dramatic against a colorful sky.  Little did I know when I wanted to try to capture the spirit of Africa it would turn out to be so timely with the passing of Nelson Mandela.  I  hope you all saw REnate's portrait of the man, it was really an awesome picture of an unusual human being and someone who changed our world for the better. I have a couple more of these in mind and hope to create a little series.  These are acrylic and ink on 5x7 watercolor paper.  Know there are a couple more coming, antelope with their classic horns, an elephant and monkey at least. thanks for stopping by and hope you are having a great painting week.

Finally, I am calling the Grand Canyon done - whew!!  Glad that I went through and got it completely finished, did lean a lot.  Know that mere mortals can't capture the grandeur of this wonder of the world.  Am definitely going to try to do another moment from our visit there several years ago and see if I can improve on getting less detailed.  But for the moment need to take a break and pick another theme for a bit.
Thanks for stopping by, please leave me a note on what you like, don't like and think could be improved.  We all appreciate learning from each other and only grow by objective input.

Getting this whittled down to finally finish.  Still have a left bottom section that needs to be fine tuned, more highlights, need to do some research on really how bright do they need to be, on the left side mountains and then need to add in the scrubby looking bushes that dot the plateaus.  Then voila, it will be done.  Am going to set it aside to see if I need to adjust more shadows in the mountains, think I do on the last mountain I put in, but might be able to darken it by just doing washes.
Going to be a busy week next week, and want to wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving in the States.  We get to eat plenty of turkey and stuffing - tough day for us all  :)
Thanks for stopping by and hope you have have a great painting week.

While I am still working on the Grand Canyon I am doing these ATCs. they are so much fun and because of the small size, 2.5"x 3.5" they go quickly and give you the ability to work on different papers and with different styles.
The sunflower is because Renate got me thinking about them, her picture was so fresh and sunny that it made me want to put some lights into a dreary day.  The little bull dog makes me think of Christmas - wouldn't it be wonderful to open your mail box and get that bundle of joy (and other things).
Thanks for stopping by and have a great painting week.

Well here is my fun and colorful 5"x7" cone flowers.  This is acrylic on a canvas paper and it did allow for the acrylic paint to slide around a bit on the coating.  Have made the rest of the sheet into ATC sized cards so I can continue to experiment on it.  Loved the bright pinks and played with twisting the brush, double loading and floating. For you that do watercolor all the time am sure you do these naturally.  So I am enjoying this pop of color in my frame by the computer on this rainy day.  Thinking about trying some sunflowers, Renate, you got me started to add more sunshine and less drizzle to the last three days. 
Thanks for stopping by and hope you have a great painting week.

Well put some hours into this over the weekend and here is where I stand today, it isn't getting faster for me unfortunately.  I had to take a day away so reviewed some Youtube tutorials on acrylics and started the cone flowers below.  I will try get back on the Grand Canyon tomorrow.  First off, I want to thank all of you who have left me a comment, it truly helps so much.  The more I live with a picture I have a tendency to lose my objectivity and because it's not coming down the way I wish I get too critical.  Know this is really detailed, and wish I could get looser but always seem to end up not leaving much to anyone's imagination.  Well, maybe next picture I can edit out and get the effect, not the details.  I pretty much have a plan in place now on how to finish this and hoping that by end of week I will pretty much be there. 
 Like I said I thought I needed to do something else for a break from rocks and really like cone flowers.  I thought these were interesting…
Here is an update on my Grand Canyon - we are battling it out.  It is taking so much time because I keep redoing it to try to get what I see onto the paper.  Still much to go, but I am getting happier and think I am finally developing a technique to do these stratas of different colors.  It will and has required that I redo some of the other plateaus though.  I realize even in shadows I need to put color to reflect the truly uniqueness of this wonder of the world.  So far am getting much better at mixing colors as I have kept a limited palette, am employing and using a painting knife, and learning to be more confident with a larger brush and the softer stokes you get, and learning that what's sweet about acrylics is that you can glaze. 
Well am back working on the Grand Canyon which is acrylic on paper and for me is a pretty large piece, 16x23.   It is pretty slow and tedious and I realized I really am doing the same thing over and over so am trying to use some larger brushes. However, I need to stay within the tightness of the original painting, hope some painting later to get looser.  Am getting to some ridges now where it is smoother rock and will have the final ridge come in cutting across the front, the pine tree and then the ledge we are standing on overlooking the canyon floor.  When I successfully complete this (how is that for positive thinking) I have some additional photos I am going to try.  The majesty of this place, the awesome large expanse of just rock and ridges that go on for 30-40 miles, nothing can really do it justice I think.  Am looking at the planes and will probably adjust the big mountain in the middle for more shadows.  I am working from multiple photos so you can see I am having to adjust…
This week in addition to trying to figure out how to make rocks under water here are my experimental ACEOs.  First is just a quick pencil sketch, middle is pen and ink, done with Staedtler Triplus fine markers, and third is a dragon fly done with pen and ink and color pencil on a colored paper.  Need to do some more work on next dragon fly to really try to capture the delicacy of the wings. 
Thanks for stopping by and hope you are having a great week.

Today has been a working day in the studio.  Trying to figure out how to make rocks look submerged under water.  Watched some Youtube videos first, although, never could find one that went the complete process, at least in acrylic.  Then did a rough trial ACEO, wasn't terribly excited, so rather than throw it out, marked that far away shallow water is blue tone, mid water is green toned, and closer water is red or yellow toned because the earth colors rocks are showing through clearer. 
So tried again, the first try on the left top ACEO and ended up overworking it terribly.  So tried another larger 4x6 piece and you see the under work, then on the top pic you see the finished piece with the leaves floating on top of the water and floating with the current. 
Not sure I got the effect quite yet, but tomorrow is another day and will try try again.  As I look more I am thinking the shadow area looks ok, but the close area the rocks don't look that much different in color than t…
Ok,  not sure if this is too crazy, but wanted to try color in pointillism.  This certainly isn't as refined as it could become with more practice and better dot placements, but I kind of like the effect.  The color ink pens I have, well to me the color seems to intense and bold, not subtle.  While there are other mediums I want to work in, will definitely continue to dabble here as it is unique and there are so many ways to differentiate the strokes and color patterns with inks. Might have to try more with markers and also some different color inks so I can mix my own colors, that might be more satisfying.  It is a drizzling rainy day here but we can use the rain, not real cold yet, but it is coming.  Was an inside working day, but slowly the house is getting squeaky clean.  No reason I can't get to work in the art room and try my hand at getting restarted on another one of my unfinished paintings.  Thanks for stopping by and feel free to leave your reaction to the painting,…
Here is another pen ink study that I had mostly completed, but guess I got tired as I didn't get it all the way completed.  We are having absolutely spectacular weather so it is tough to get into the art room.  Good thing the pen and ink is portable and can easily happen on my lap.  Got another nice pencil drawing book at the library so hoping to get some good tips and ideas out of it as well and already have tried some exercises on my ACEOs, so will post them as a group later.  This pencil book focuses kind of on nature and landscapes which would be good and carry over into my pastel work too, I am sure.  Thanks for stopping by and hope you have or had a great weekend.
Ah, Fall is in the air and our trees are starting their color changes.  The Maples are a rainbow of oranges and reds and all colors in between.  So for the last two days thought I would try drawing from life.  I experimented with markers, first one is pretty flat with just a few shadows, then started again but added some ink and color pencil dabbles.  Did the ACEOs first and liked the second one so much I tried a larger format of 4x6 with a variety of leaves.  Again this is mostly a marker base with ink dots and some color pencils.  Can you tell which is the real leaves group and which is the drawing?  Pathetically easy I guess, but will keep practicing and maybe by the time all the leaves have fallen you won't be able to tell.  Thanks for stopping by and have a great remainder of the week.
Well my hubby has been replaced with a new love, the Puffin above. I love to read Smithsonian magazines and I have lots of copies I have never gotten through, so am doing so now.  The little Puffins' reintroduction into Maine barrier islands caught my eye and they are soooo cute.  So here is the first of what I think may be a couple Puffin ACEOs. 
Ok, so now I am getting fancy, trying to make an ACEO collage of what I've done so far.  The Puffin is a combination of marker and color pencil, and the bottom, pebbles, is mostly color pencil with marker as the dark in between the rocks.  Just love doing these as you can get such a lot of practice in such a short space of time.  Know many of you do lovely works and hoping that as the assortment grows we can do what these were originally designed for, and that is trade. Would be lovely to get these miniature works from so many of you who do such outstanding artwork.  Thanks for stopping by and have a great week.
Well if you have been reading my thoughts this week you know I am cleaning my studio and trying to find things I haven't finished (like I have to look hard) and slowly get them completed.  I am pretty capivated with pointalism and enjoy doing it, however it takes time and is a slower process.  This is a study I had started and just had a little left to complete, so did so and revisited trying to learn the tonality to get likeness.  Debating whether or not to add anything more to the clothing or just leave it as I really don't want to detract from the face.   Black and white is hard though, so I have another piece where I did colored ink to see if it was still so stark that I will post later this week which is a totally different effect, but not sure it is softer.
I kind of feel like the recording artist who finally gets to do an album, all those good songs been in their head for so long.  I had a head full of stuff too and hard for me to focus on just one thing - hoping it will get better.  Top picture is Mountain Zen update, amazing thing about posting is I saw immediately that I had extended the mountain line too far and it made a hard straight line with the lowest group of berries.  While I want it point to the berries and move the eye into the right side of the picture it was way too hard so need to work on that a bit and hope that I can cover that boo boo.  But overall am liking the pop of the berries and softness of the clouds and fog. Kind of tedious as I am putting in the branches, then putting in the clouds and coming in after to erase out the branch and retouch so it appears on top of the clouds and not in them.  Hubby, biggest critic, likes it and isn't concerned that there will be minimal pastel on the top portion, just really…

Current projects

Well here are this week's projects.  The top is Mountain Zen a picture from Craggy Gardens on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  It has an Oiental feeling to me.   We were higher than most other mountains peaks, the morning cloud deck curtained the valley, you felt you could step off and walk on top of the clouds, and the mountain Ashe berries were vivid reddish-orange against the blue skies above the cloud deck.   This hopefully will be the start of a new series I have had running around my mind now for many years.  It is a deceptive picture in that it looks simple, but as I started laying it out and had to plan color and material lay down I am finishing it as a mixed media piece.  Color pencil for mountains which are covered with trees, both hard woods and evergreens like hemlocks or firs and branches and berries are going to be pencil too I think.   Pastel however for the cloud work as only it can be wispy.  And when you do fluid clouds don't cover up all the branch detail as I don…
Well the battle has been fought for the second time and still not sure who won.  Again this is acrylic on watercolor canvas, size is big for me at 16"x20".   But think this is it for this picture, am going to let it sit on the board for a while and maybe if I have a frame that fits, will put it in my bathroom, as grooming appears to be in order.  Not exactly what I had hoped.  Maybe someone who can really paint give me some suggestions on how to connect with the brush. 
I am going to go back and concentrate on pencils and pastels, but am going to keep throwing in some acrylic in the hope that I can learn how the heck to do it.
Hope everyone is having a great weekend.  Thanks for stopping by and any comments would be appreciated.

Ok, here is today's ACEO, from my photo - Rainbow over Pisgah.  These have a dual effort, one to do something freehand from my photo or from life each day for the foreseeable future and loosen up and simplify pallet, strokes and subjects.  Sure got a long way to go. 
Read the best quote this morning off of Karen Marguiles site, she quoted (and I read so many posts of hers that I don't recall the gentleman's name) but doing 100 of these small paintings is worth doing 1000 big paintings. The learning curve is faster as you are doing smaller paintings but working out issues.  You should see improvement quicker as you can whip through 100 of these much faster than larger paintings.

Today's drawing - WHOOOO

Here is today's drawing, an ACEO, size 2.5" x 3.5"

Egret 2

Well here is an update from last weekend as I have been under the weather not much happening.  But finally feeling better, nasty bug has been around for three weeks.  Still have more modeling to do and then need to get additional feather references and then it will be on to the fun stuff to do the back lighting which is what drew to the reference initially.  Going to try to work with the fan brush and see if I can figure out the technique.  Challenge to myself is to figure out how to master the brushes, as I just don't connect as my painter friends do. Since we just got a few days in the mountains in I have to do a piece for my Blue Ridge series that I have been thinking on, love th zen feel of the first piece I am going to work on while I figure out how to get my Egret finished.  Got the best pic of a restored 1930s Cadillac that I hope to do either in black and white or sepia for this series, at the high point of the parkway, make it olde time as that is why the road was original…
Ok, it's been a while because new life changes have taken precedence.  Got a summer cold that I've been trying to fight off too.  So wanted to get back in the swing of things, but not in the most creative of mindsets.
So I dug out something that I started quite some time ago and didn't like the way it was progressing, so thought I'm going to finish it.  Yes, I know you all have at least one of these hanging around your art space.  So time to dust it off and learn from it even if it doesn't turn out to be the "masterpiece".
This is in acrylic and am doing this on watercolor canvas.  Size of this piece is 16"x20" which is a good size for me.  Was going to go for the dramatic green-black background but decided to mottle it somewhat to give it more life and sort of make a leaf-like feeling as they do nest in tree tops.  Not sure if you are really seeing it in the second shot, but maybe with more outside light it will appear as it does in real life…
Struggling with how to learn GIMP, trying the tutorials and I am just hopeless I guess.  Anyway, here is Tomboy, Rachael, I think it's a girl, at least in my mind.  Anyway, think she is pretty much complete, may do additional in the neck area. But she is going to stay on the board for a few days and then I'll see what I want to do with her.
Thanks for stopping by and hope all have a great week.

Well here is my little tomboy this morning.  Have to go out and trim bushes in the front yard - ugh!!  But have her shadow side pretty roughed in and now will have to go to the sharp point and then smooth the color layers on that side, IRL you can see the board and it gives her a rough skin texture.  I reworked the mouth area and am hoping it will look more like the reference, but see right now that I have it a bit lopsided and too much mass to the right bottom, glad I posted as it makes me more objective.  I really don't like the light shape on her shadowed eye, so got to work that a bit more too.  Did lift some color out of her right eye, actually got to looking dull and had great mud going there as I was reworking and tweaking too much - got to stop that.  I am hoping to get her neck area in and her mostly completed by tonight.  Know it is going to get hot this afternoon and the humidity after 3" of rain is not pleasant outside sitting, so will try to work on her between …

Rachael 4

Sorry for posting so much but when I get excited .......  Rachael is coming on now at a pretty good clip and am hoping I can get the rest of the face in tomorrow.  Got to rework one of her eyes and not sure how that will go.  Still have the bottom lip and know that is going to,be very pivotal in this painting.  Since I have been working on her gave myself a drawing break this week.  Try tomorrow to get one done for next week.  Thanks for stopping by and looking, sure appreciate it. Raining now so cools down the hot, porch time with a glass of well deserved wine.  :)


Well am happy that I actually got some work in this before work and bed and am hoping to have some uninterrupted hours and think she will come more together.  Thanks to all who stopped by and if you see something don't hesitate to tell me.  Sometimes you lose the objectivity. Hope all have a great weekend

Rachael 2

Sometimes these pictures just want to be on paper so bad you just have to get out of the way and let them come so here is an update

Tomboy -Racheal

Oh boy, sorry but took a side adventure as I still have much more prep work for my next painting, I don't know that much about horse heads and musculature so got to find some better references so I can make up what I can't see.  I have had her drawn for a while now and wanted to do her on this green mat board but thought it would be in graphite.  But just love her rosey skin tones and those sleepy eyes and knew it had to be color, so off to the races with color pencil.  Not a lot of layers available here so got to get it nailed in about 3-4 swipes and then I am locked out.  Know already I am going to have a fight with the eyes and the lips, sooooo... Not sure will make it or not but will try to go all the way to the end on this one. Hope everyone has a great week and paint like it means something!!

Running Horse -Spirit

Here is this weeks drawing.  Decided to combine my next piece work with this one, so this is part of what I hope will become the first painting of the "Spirit" series of paintings.   Had this idea in my head for many years but never could get it to paper, so now is the time to try.  Glad I drew this first because as always see things I definitely want to change.  Still debating whether this will be pastel or color pencil, but it will be on dark paper again as it will be a night scene Busy morning already as got my run in, rescued the hummer feeder from the ant invasion and now the day is just beginning at only 8:30.  Just me the hawks calling in the sky and all my garden critters from the birds to the chipmunks.   Got plenty of yard work to keep me busy today, the down side of the garden. Challenge today is learn how to resize photos on GIMP -oh joy as tech skills I ain't got. Thanks for stopping by and hope you are doing lots of painting this weekend.

This week's sketches

Sometimes you are happy and sometimes you aren't - some times the experiment is ok and other time should have left it alone.  Both are graphite drawings, sprayed with workable fixative and then color pencil over it, with a little ink accent on the wheel hub.   Have to give my kudos to both Renate and Rita who do the flowers.  Did a bit of the hydrangea from life and boy is it a little bugger.  But that is the purpose of my commitment for a drawing a week.  Now it's Sunday, got last week's done, and got to start another - looking for the subject now and got to start later today as I know the week will fly by.  Mulling over the next project, got to get it started and then hope it will kick into gear.
Appreciate your stopping by and have a great painting week.

7/4/13 sketch. Wheel axel

Ok I have challenged myself to try to do at least a weekly, between now and December, drawing or painting with emphasis of doing from life work or from our photos.   Hope at some point I get to challenge myself to once a day, but no way I could achieve that now.  Am putting them in a separate sketchbook so I can evaluate the progress.  They say "practice makes perfect" or "the more you practice the more talented you become".  This is a small half page size, probably 6"x8" with 3 graphite pencils, H, F and 2B.  Didn't allow myself to use a tortilion, my crutch, just cross hatching and pencil strokes, not much erasing allowed either.  Since close to weekend, might spray with fixative and then add color pencil just to make my heart happy.
Well here is Lyrae, just finished her today as I am back from Florida and way too sore from building the show standing all day of the show to do much else physically.  got the grass cut and some weeds pulld, but that's it.  Getting to old for this.   Darn already Sunday night and almost time to go to work again, short week though for us as it is the 4th of July and my favorite guy has a birthday this week.
David keeps saying she is going to be my masterpiece and I hope this doesn't disappoint him.  Pretty much believe she is done but will keep her hanging to make adjustments for pops and shadows for better form.  Not sure I am Liking the cloak hairs here and need to refine them I think for finer texture.  David will see tomorrow and give me his input. Stephanie, if you see this, why you decided to check in, still a surprise but months early.  I am hoping you are pleased and we will get her framed, thinking black mat in  black frame, very close crop so this regal lady is the spot…
Well it's that time on Sunday that I hate because I know the weekend is almost over and tomorrow it's back to work and this is going to be a very busy week.  Seems like you wait for the weekend to come and then it is gone in a flash.  Made some progress on Lyrae today, didn't get in all that I needed to but was concerned that I was losing the likeness so needed to start to build out her snout.  Just keep working the layers and adding colors and rebrightening the hilights.  Biggest hurdle now is to see if David still sees his dog and is as excited about where she is now as when he saw her last.  Keeping my fingers crossed.  Thanks for stopping by and hoping you have a great painting week.
Well here is Lyrae update for my work this week.   She is coming out quite quickly and have to think it is the black paper.  Really gives you ahead start as you don't have to cover the white of the paper.  Have more colored pastel paper and might need to get into it again, but most are mid tones.  Would like to try the color pencil on them, have seen the most beautiful cats on samon paper.   Anyway back to Lyrae, i have most of our right slide blocked in with colors and am hoping to get refined through her muzzle.  As you can see i have the lay in colors on and am starting to refine and work in other colors to get fur texture, do this by laying in layers and working it and adding another color layer and editing.   I am using pastel pencils for this refining, they are harder and cut thru the softer pastel and leave stroke work visible.  i have a busy schedule next week so won't have much work time and want to stay consistent on most of her so the time difference won't show.  …