Monday, December 31, 2012

big-deal news

I have big-deal news to end 2012 and to start 2013.

To my amazement, I just learned that my painting, "Heartbreak Morning" received enough votes on Katherine Tyrrell's Making a Mark blog to be declared Best Portrayal of a Place 2012!

But wait...there's more. By SEVEN, votes I also received the award titled Best Picture on an Art Blog in 2012! I can't begin to explain all that went into the process of these awards. To learn more, please take a moment to visit Making a Mark by clicking the link in the previous paragraph.

Thank you Katherine Tyrrell for nominating my painting.  I also want to thank all who voted for me - especially those special SEVEN!

Being an artist is a solitary occupation, especially now that I no longer teach. Sometimes I just need to connect with others and I do that primarily through this Art Journal blog and Facebook. Thanks to all who read my blog and take a moment to send me a word of support or a 'like'  or comment on Facebook. Hearing from you helps make my day. Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

happy new year

As we end 2012, I am honored that my painting, "Heartbreak Morning," has been nominated for The Making a Mark Prize for Best Portrayal of a Place 2012. Click on the link to see art in all categories. I wish you a peaceful and happy 2013!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

my top 10 of 2012

Casey Klahn selected his top 12 paintings of 2012 and recommended other artists do the same with their year of work. I tried it... I highlighted my favorite 10 pieces listed in my 2012 pastel folder on my computer. Images are posted below.

Heartbreak Morning



Edge of Winter

Golden Gardens Pond





Sweet Creek

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Thursday, December 20, 2012


Preparations for Christmas have kept me from painting for almost a week. I needed some studio-time to keep my sanity and finally managed to paint for a while today. "Sweet Creek" is a scene from a road-trip to California a couple years ago and will be my last painting (and probably my last post) until after Christmas Day. This painting is a rework. To see all recent reworks as they are now and how they appeared before the rework, click on the Reworked Paintings link at the top right of this page. Wishing each of you Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

wc paper experiment

When I unframed an old painting for rework I was surprised to find that I had painted on 140 lb Arches hot press watercolor paper. I'm not sure what I was thinking in choosing to work on that surface so I decided to try watercolor paper again. This time I used 140 lb Fabriano Classico cold press just because that is the first sheet of wc paper I came to in my flat file. The scene is from my Hometown Marshland photo shoot last weekend.

It was a challenge to paint with such minimal paper tooth. I left some areas lightly colored so the texture of the paper would show (see the enlarged section below). I'm not sure this painting will leave my studio but it was an interesting experiment.

Monday, December 10, 2012

stuck in the middle

I've been working on a pastel project since August that I'll be able to tell you about soon. At the same time, I was painting in pastel for several upcoming shows, preparing images for my web designer and I just started posting small work on Daily Paintworks again. I was feeling productive... until last week. It was then that I started again on two oil paintings that have been in the works for months because I just can't seem to pull them together. I am stuck in the middle on them.

When I get stuck, I'm sure every other artist I know is just painting away, knocking out gorgeous work with ease. This would be especially true when I think of Marla Baggetta but it is because of her post today that I am talking about my own painting difficulties. See Marla's post HERE.

Yesterday I went back to my hometown and shot 90 reference photos of a marshy area for another round of 'Hometown Marshland' paintings - this may become an annual theme. Nothing motivates me like new reference photos. I started three small oils and I am hopeful that I'm coming out of my 'stuckness', at least for the three new paintings. As far as the two others, I may just paint them black and start over!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

a not so bright idea

At this time of year, I begin to think about the future direction my work. I had this bright idea: what about creating still life images from my many years of colored pencil still life work but this time in pastel?

It sounded interesting and here is my first experiment - Cherries, pastel, 8.5x13 inches. This composition was originally painted as a commission in 1998 and titled "For Every Thing There is a Season."

I don't believe this idea is going to work because somewhere within me is the memory of painting these cherries before - in precise colored pencil - and when painting them this time, I had difficulty finding my pastel-voice. I think the answer is to work from new still life set-ups and reference photos. But, it was good to once again make marks to form the fruit I already know so well. You can see some of my colored pencil cherry examples HERE.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

color study for Where the Heart Is

The painting I posted several days ago, "Where the Heart Is," 11x8.5 inch pastel, received a warm welcome. It will be going to Attic Gallery, Portland, Oregon for a show early next year.

This post is the 7x5 inch color study for that painting. I have also posted three steps of the process. This color study is available at the Daily Paintworks auction. (sold)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

looser strokes

Looser strokes and less detail in this one, "Where the Heart Is," 11 x 8.5 inches. I'm happy to be in my studio these rainy days, letting the vegetable and flower gardens go wild. I'm sure I'll be sorry in the spring.

Saturday, November 24, 2012


This is the finished painting (10.5 x 15 inches) that started with the 5x7 color study in my last post. I was thinking: forgotten orchard, abandoned orchard, orchard memory and oops, a different scene emerged with more focus on the orchard and less focus on the road leading to it.

But, I love the little color study so I'll try again to paint a larger version of that one and will call it "Meadow Road."

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Color study for Orchard Memory

This is the 5x7 inch color study for my next painting, It is available for purchase at the DPW Auction. (sold) "Meadow Road" is the title of this one.

 Below are the four steps for this painting:
1. Black acrylic on tan Ampersand Pastelbord.
2. Light lavender to block in the lightest areas.
3. Trying out a few colors
4. The finished color study.

If this scene looks familiar, it is because earlier this month I posted "Glory Days," a 13x17 inch version of the same scene but in a warmer palette.

Monday, November 19, 2012

a change of focus

When I painted this 7x5 inch color study for a larger painting, my focus was on the hits of sunlight on the path. Because it is small, I work the whole scene at the same time, moving from area to area and perhaps because of this process, my color studies are always more spontaneous and lively than larger work.

For the bigger painting (18x12 inches), I started at the top and by the time I finished the sunlight on the tree trunks and the grass, I began to feel a change of focus. I wanted to keep the viewer's attention further back in the scene and a dappled path would compete with that. But, I went ahead anyway and made a dappled path. Then I removed the dappled path and opted for warmer path color instead. That way, the path comes forward but doesn't compete with the other sun detail.

The 7x5 inch study is currently on auction at Daily Paintworks (sold) and the larger painting, "Sunfall" will be at Cole Gallery, Edmonds, Washington, in February 2013.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

two tips

I finally figured out how to paint from a reference photo on my ipad and still keep it clean. I hang it from the top of my easel and cover the screen with plastic wrap.
When I near the completion of a painting, the pastels and tools I'm using are a dusty, dirty mess. I take a moment to clean pastels and tidy up my work area before putting the finishing touches on a painting.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

four steps

These are the four steps for my 7x5 inch color study for a larger work tentatively titled "Dappled Path."
1. Black acrylic on green Ampersand Pastelbord.
2. Light blue to block in the lightest areas.
3. Trying out a few colors
4. The finished color study.
This is the first step of the larger work (18 x 12 inches) on white Wallis: black Nupastel and a muted purple pastel. I keep the small color study beside me for reference.  If you click to enlarge this image and the value foundation looks very blurry, it is because it really is - there are only a few hard edges or fully saturated areas of color at this stage.

Monday, November 12, 2012

color vs detail

Final value check. In my last post, I spoke of doing something to the "busy" color in the foreground but after looking at this painting for a day, I decided to let the color stay and instead, cut back on the amount of detail I added to the foreground. I also lightened the upper right pasture at the horizon line. I think I'm done with this for now but will look at it for a few days before I frame it.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

90% Value Check

This pastel painting will be 22 x 17 inches. I'm working an extra inch all the way to give me the option of moving it slightly left, right, up or down - however it looks best in the mat.

I'm painting from a gray scale reference photo and am 90% done but the colors in the painting are too busy so I took a photo of the painting and turned it into a gray scale to check the value range. Value looks good to me but I'll lighten the horizon at the right and do something about the busy colors in the foreground (which of course, you can't see in this photo). The last 5% will be detail.

Monday, November 5, 2012

fall glory days

I guess my change of studio wall color is working to help me warm up my painting palette. This is "Glory Days," painted from a gray scale reference photo. I loved the road and the tree but the real subject is the glorious fall color we've been having this year. The surface is Wallis paper, pastel over an oil-wash foundation. 13 x 17 inches.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

cornmeal, plums and violets

Plums and Violets is a colored pencil drawing that was created for my students as an example of working on black paper. It is time to let go of the past so I have posted this on the Daily Paintworks auction along with the white reverse grisaille (underpainting in white pencil) necessary to keep colored pencil bright on a black ground. If you are familiar with my colored pencil work through my book, Colored Pencil Solution Book, or if you work in colored pencil yourself, you will recognize this as my precise work in that medium and the TIME involved in even a small drawing in this technique.

Today we will change our clocks per daylight savings time and replace the batteries in our smoke detectors. For those who work in pastel, it is a good time to change the cornmeal you use to clean your pastels.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


When I started this painting, I printed color and grayscale copies of the reference photo (see my previous post). The color print seems to have disappeared somewhere in this studio so the painting was done without color references. I know the photo was much greener than the colors I chose but I'm happy with the painting. I wonder where that photo went? Wildwood, 14 x 14 inches on white Wallis paper.

Monday, October 29, 2012

a good idea

I'm painting over an old painting that was painted plein air at Kubota Garden. For this new painting, I'm using a reference photo taken that day of another scene.

Yesterday I received a nice email from an artist asking how I stay focused and motivated to paint everyday when sometimes it is hard to even get started. It prompted the following response from me. I thought of this good idea (doesn't everyone love their own advice?) and I like it so much, I decided to post it here.

I can see that you are taking your painting seriously - something I can relate to but also something that may hold us back. Before pastel, I worked many years exclusively in colored pencil. I gained some recognition in that medium (Colored Pencil Solution Book, etc.) and when I moved on to pastel it was very important to me to "succeed." In hindsight, I know I could have benefited from not taking myself so seriously and instead, try harder to play instead of work at my art.

I suggest you cut five 8x10 inch  pieces of Wallis paper, label them Monday through Friday. Work on each day's painting for no more than an hour that day and by the end of the week, you'll have five paintings in progress. By the third week, you'll have 3 hours (or less) into each painting and you'll decide whether to continue on that painting or wash it off (yes, let go of those precious areas you are loving if you can't make the whole work) and begin again.

1. Work only Monday on Monday's painting and so on. During the week hang the paintings on the wall and ponder them…make notes but don't actually work on the painting until that painting's day comes around. OR, put the paintings away and don't look at them until their assigned day arrives. For some, pondering and making notes works best, for others, the surprise of seeing the painting with "fresh eyes" works better.

2. Paint an hour every day! This is so important to increasing skill and confidence. Look at it this way: review your paintings of 5 years ago  - see how far you've come in 5 years? Did you paint EVERY day of those 5 years? How many hours did you actually paint in the 5 years? If you painted an hour a day, that would be 1,825 hours of practice. If you painted only an hour a week during the five years, it would take you 35 years to acquire the same skills and insight. Life is short, paint every day!

3. Give yourself permission to fail. This is hard for me! The best I can do at this task is a review of my paintings each year end and at that time, admit to myself that some of them are mediocre and destined for rework. Then, rework them during the coming year.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

october at the dog park

I finished my latest painting of our dog park, this one is titled "October." I guess I'm doing a dog park series without meaning to but that is where I am each day and can't resist taking reference photos while Annie plays. See several previous posts to see the in-progress stages of this painting.

Friday, October 26, 2012

dog walk in progress

The top third of this painting is 95% complete. I want the focus to be on the water and foreground so I may have to go in and reduce the detail in this top part but I won't know that until I work the water and grasses.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

dog walk

On our dog-walk yesterday, I took this photo and printed it out in color and in grayscale. The grayscale print has a large X corner-to-corner as a guide for transferring the sketch onto my pastel surface (which also has a large X). The surface for this new painting is a 2009 painting that I spray-washed the pastel off of in the laundry tub, then laid it face down to dry overnight.
When I unframed the old painting, there was enough Wallis paper (coated with ochre gesso) to make the new painting 1" larger all the way around. Here you can see a charcoal sketch (click on the image to enlarge it) over the top of the old painting.
For the first step, I used four pastels to block in the shapes: my darkest value, my lightest value and two other colors. See the pastel sticks lined up along the bottom.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

studio corner

In looking at my last post, I realize I left out one corner of the studio.

Monday, October 22, 2012

studio photos

Here are more shots of the studio - taken while it is still clean.