Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008: End of the Year Thoughts

"Still to the Max," 18 x 24, pastel

This painting, "Still to the Max," was my first painting for 2008. It hung at O'Connor's as part of a show where eight artists painted their personal versions of the same group of objects. Mine was an homage to the artist Peter Max (sometimes spelled "Maxx").

Satisfied. I feel satisfied with my art progress this last year. I met the goals I set for myself, and I am ready to set new goals for 2009.

More than anything, I want to approach art with boldness. Paint what I love. Paint with passion and confidence. Create new things. Try new things. Play. Make mistakes. Shun anxieties that hold me back. Pay less attention to critics. JUST DO IT!

176 paintings after "Still to the Max," I painted "Turn Point Lighthouse." And, the painting posted December 17 will hang at O'Connor's beginning in January. Things progress. Things seem the same.

Thank you for sharing this journey with me. More to come in 2009.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Turn Point Lighthouse

Lighthouses and buildings for their keepers always interest me.

This building, on Stuart Island, is boarded up but still brings to mind a gentler time. Built in the 1890s, Turn Point Lighthouse made a nice subject for today's painting.

Turn Point Lighthouse, 18 x 24, watercolor on 140# Arches Rough

Monday, December 29, 2008

Self Portrait in Watercolor

I didn't expect to feel unsettled by painting self portraits.

Even more than any other painting subject, in painting myself I am forced to determine how much I will reveal about myself. Will I strip down to my least hidden self? And, if I do, will anyone notice or care?

"If you could say it in words there would be no reason to paint." Edward Hopper

Self Portrait 3, 18 x 24, watercolor on Arches 140# Rough

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Self Portrait

I mentioned the Portrait Project in the previous blog about Kimberly, my portrait partner.

A self portrait is the second part of the Portrait Project. I have done some self portraits in the past, but all of them have failed to do more than capture a likeness. And I want to do more.

Among artists, self portraits have a long tradition. Probably because model fees can add up and an artist needs only a mirror to paint him or herself. You can see many examples of self portraits by clicking here. Or here.

I will do a little more studying and try this again.

One big frustration I have as an artist is that my skills always lag far behind my vision. Maybe one day ...

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Faces of Kimberly

I admit it. I love faces. I love to study faces, and to paint a face gives me lots of pleasure.

Some artists in the PPASP group are working on a Portrait Project. We are partnered with another artist and part of the project is to paint portraits of one another. It is up to each artist to paint either from life or from photos or from a combination of both.

Kimberly is my partner. Here are two portraits I have painted of her. It is curious to me how each one reveals a different aspect of how I experience her. These are not intended to be photo realistic, but to be expressions of her. In a way, they are visual representations of my feelings about being with her. Hard to put words to that exactly, but I hope you understand what I mean.

Both are pastel on Wallis Sanded Paper, 18 x 24.

Friday, December 26, 2008


Finally some time in the studio to think and paint. I have been thinking a lot about two trips I've taken to see giant California redwoods. Words cannot describe their majesty and my painting is an attempt to capture that dizzying moment of trying to see their tops.

I like the trees as a painting subject. Even painting them reminds me of the quiet, the cool mists rising from loamy ground and curled fronds of ferns. Reminds me of times spent there with friends. A subject worth pursuing again, I think.

Redwoods, 24 x 18, pastel

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Snow days

Temperatures in the 20s and steadily falling snow today. A good reason to stay snug indoors. I think that writers who go on and on about the beauty of snow are plunking away at their laptops by a pool somewhere in Florida.

This snow is lovely, but enough is enough.

I have never said that I personally am dreaming of a white Christmas, but it seems that I'll have one just the same.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Sneak peek at O'Connor's painting

For the last two years, I have been driving to Multnomah Village to O'Connor's Restaurant to have breakfast and art conversation with a group of fine artists, the Portland Plein Air and Studio Painters.

A small group within the PPASP, "Eight+", hung a show at O'Connor's earlier this year. The owner heard good feedback from his customers and staff about how our paintings added positively to his space, so he invited us to continue to show our artwork.

In October, we took down our show and Kaye Synoground, long time Multnomah Village artist, hung her cheerful watercolor paintings at O'Connor's. Now, beginning in January, Eight+ will hang paintings that relate to O'Connor's.

"Morning Coffee at O'Connor's", 18 x 24, pastel

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Noodling around with jewelry

Christmas time and I'm trying to make some gifts for some special people. I've always been interested in making things and my friends tease that I often say, about jewelry, "I think we could make that."

So, Czech fire polish glass beads, 4 pound line, #12 needles, Charlottes, and my reading glasses. Mix well, and maybe something beautiful will happen.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Drawing the figure

Drawing is a personal journey. This week I felt something inside me shift as I worked on applying the principles Kitty taught based on her study with Nicolas Carone at Cooper Union.

I had an extreme angle on this pose. The challenge was to see it, to fill my paper with the image, to put things in their right proportions and perspective. I was very pleased with this drawing.

And I'm excited to practice and learn more.

Kari, 24 x 18, charcoal on newsprint

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Natural Way to Draw

Last week I started what will be a one year adventure in drawing. Kitty Wallis is teaching from the Nicolaides book "The Natural Way to Draw" and her many years of experience drawing and learning to draw.

We began with gesture drawings and (blind) contour drawings. Vine charcoal on newsprint. Drawings made and then wiped away. New drawings made. The point is the experience, not the result.

Adventures are exciting!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Serene, 24 x 18, watercolor

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Pullman Fall Storm

This small landscape gave me an opportunity to play with watercolor in a different way. It didn't matter quite so much if colors bled into one another. Not the way it matters in a face.

Pullman, Washington, home of Washington State University (go Cougs!) is in the eastern part of the state. Rolling hills with lots of wheat farms, fewer houses, more sunshine. And a place I visited often when my sons were in college there. Not much reason go there now, except in my mental trip through precious memories.

Pullman Fall Storm, 6 x 9, watercolor

Monday, December 1, 2008

Dreaming in Watercolor

Watercolor continues to sing its sweet siren song and I follow the sound, only to be frequently dashed on the rocks of disappointment. No kidding, watercolor is tough. Mostly because I either get it right the first time, or I get it wrong and have more scrap paper. Not much room for corrections with watercolor.

I won't trouble you with the many mistakes I have made lately.

This painting went pretty smoothly. I had a strong idea for the painting before I started, my young friend (now a college student), with eyes closed and a serene look on her face. I used clean colors, changed my water frequently, and let the magic of wet into wet kind of melt together.

I was tempted to leave the painting as is (or as was, so to speak) but some edges needed a little more defining and I wanted a little more value variance in her hair. So, I went back in. Sharpened the line between her cheek and hair, darkened the upper lip, a little more shadow on the cheek/neck. I stopped before I did too much.

There's still so much of this painting that is soft and dreamy looking, I've called it:

"Dreaming." 24 x 18, watercolor.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

In a Ditch

In a Ditch, 18 x 24, pastel

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Edward Hopper at Seattle Art Museum

"Hopper's Women" at the Seattle Art Museum is great! Next time I'll go on a weekday to avoid the crowds blocking my view of the artwork.

Hopper creates a sad and lonely view of humanity and it was a thrill to look at the many paintings in the exhibit.

Also at the SAM were landscapes by Bierstadt and Church, portraits by Sargent and Chase and Henri, and a Rothko and de Kooning. It's worth a second trip. I'll make one soon.

Chop Suey, Edward Hopper, oil, 1929

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving Travels

Today was a day of fixing and baking and packing and traveling. We'll be in the Seattle area with our kids this long weekend with lots to celebrate. Thanksgiving, an engagement, a birthday, and the joy of just being together.

Of course, a big, three layer chocolate cake helps make it a delicious time. Maybe some time for sketching, but mostly a restorative time with family.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Oysterville Trees

For me, no trip to the beach is complete without a run out to Oysterville, WA. This quiet town sits overlooking Willapa Bay and boasts of many historic homes and buildings and giant Monterey Cypress trees along the old streets.

I caught this stand of birch in a patch of sunlight, looking across undeveloped land toward the bay. Undeveloped land makes me happy. Trees make me happy. The beach makes me happy.

Oysterville Trees, 6 x 10, watercolor

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Aaron at Hipbone 2

Aaron Standing, 24 x 18, pastel on Belgian Mist Wallis sanded paper.

Aaron at Hipbone

Aaron Reclining, 12 x 18, pastel on Belgian Mist Wallis paper.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Nothing better

No matter the weather, I love to be at the beach! The storms rolled in with gusty winds, stretches of brilliant sunshine, and fierce clouds that dumped buckets of rain.

It made no sense to set up an easel in that, so I sat at the window and watched. And painted with a small watercolor set up.

Life is good, especially at the beach!

Out the Window, 6 x 10, watercolor

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Clearwater River, Idaho

Back to watercolor for today. My hope is that if I put more miles on my brush, I will improve.

The Clearwater River runs along the Idaho-Montana border and is well known for good fly fishing.

September 26, 1805, Lewis and Clark were in this same place. They had other things on their minds than a watercolor painting.

Clearwater River, Idaho, 22 x 29, watercolor

Monday, November 17, 2008

A Mindful Day

Much on my mind today, so a drive through the Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge to clear my head. Although more and more are on the ground, the Autumn Leaves are glorious.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Closing Reception

Fall Reflections on the Lewis River

The cool tones of the rocks and the warmth of the fall colors reflected in the water interested me. I started this painting before our last bit of rain. The water, once quiet and still, is raging now and offers no reflections. Time is critical sometimes when I don't realize it. I'm glad I seized this moment.

Fall Reflections, 18 x 24, pastel

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Figure Drawing at Hipbone -- Part Three: 30 Minute Poses

The last poses of the session are 30 minutes each. It gives the artist a chance to develop the drawing (or painting) more completely than the shorter poses.

Here I started with a piece of Wallis paper that I had previously experimented on with washes of watercolor, pastel with Turpenoid, and just water. I decided to just focus on the model's head and hand in this drawing.

I have been away from Hipbone for a long time and it felt great to be back. The human form is endlessly fascinating to me.

Moses, 14 x 14, pastel on Wallis paper

Figure Drawing at Hipbone -- Part Two: Longer Poses

After the gestures, next the model holds several poses for 5 - 15 minutes each. This one was done in 15 minutes. At this point in a session, I try to begin with a gestural sketch and then modify it for accuracy in the proportions.

This drawing was done in 15 minutes. I was especially interested in how the model's feet were placed.

Moses, 24 x 18, pastel on newsprint

Figure Drawing at Hipbone -- Part One: Gestures

Figure drawing usually starts with about 10-15 minutes of gestural drawings. The poses are dynamic and are held for one or two minutes. With my gesture drawings I try to capture the feel of the pose, the movement, what attracts my eye, where is the weight, the tension, the drama.

I work on a standard 24 X 18 pad of newsprint with charcoal. I think that this is my favorite part of figure drawing. Gestures.

Moses Gesture, 24 x 18, charcoal on newsprint

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Finished one month of daily painting!

It has been a great month of daily painting! I've learned to concentrate on artwork in a new way, that is, waking every day with the thought, "What will I paint today?" I've practiced with simple subjects and more complex ones, each painting has been a step on the journey and a delight.

But, I am also realistic. I won't be able to keep up this level of focus. Not with the holidays coming. Not with social obligations coming. Not with helping a friend work on her book. Not with a new possibility of making music with some different folks.

So, if I'm not posting photos of new paintings, you'll have an idea of what I'm up to. Life is good!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Friday, November 7, 2008

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Just watercolor this time

Beachcomber, 21 x 21, watercolor

This time I just left the watercolor alone. No pastel on top. This older man walked the beach after a big storm, bundled against the cold morning wind. I'll keep working with watercolor. I'm hoping to do better next time.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Watercolor with pastel is cheating

After I established my light pattern, I painted from a photograph the wetlands near Willapa Bay, at Ocean Park, WA. Watercolor is a tricky medium. I am so out of practice it did not go very easily.

I felt like I was juggling odd objects. A bowling pin, a kitchen knife, and a baby.

Water. How much water? Pick up the paint, don't over mix, confident stroke. Wait a minute, I didn't mean it to be so red! Aaak! Go over it with more blue. Now it's too dark. Blot it with a paper towel. Don't lose the light pattern. It was a frantic bit of time. Finally, I decided to let it dry and see how it looked.

Well, it didn't look that great. So, I grabbed my pastels and mucked it up a bit.

The best thing I can say about it is that I didn't lose the light pattern. I'll do better next time.

Willapa Bay Wetlands, 22 x 30, watercolor on 140# Rough

A sometimes silly girl

I've been talking about it for a while, and finally today I pulled out a sheet of watercolor paper, got out my palette, wet my brushes, squeezed out paint and did a watercolor painting.

But first, I had to throw out my sponge. I've had this sponge since I bought it to fulfill the supplies list for my first ever watercolor class with Eric Wiegardt in 2005. I've dragged it with me on many trips, dropped it in the dirt, in the sand, on the grass, in a parking lot, and in a puddle. I've cleaned it with bleach I don't know how many times. It has seen better days. And it used to be smell-free. No more.

It's silly, I guess, to feel pangs of loss over a bit of cellulose. Maybe so. Just call me silly. Today.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Monday, November 3, 2008

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Pumpkin

Halloween Pumpkin, 6 x 9, watercolor on Arches 140#

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Beavercreek Wetlands

It was a beautiful day to enjoy the fall colors.

I had the fun of painting at Beavercreek Wetlands with a group of fine artists, there must have been 25 of us. Then we went to the Kingstad Gallery for a reception and Kitty Wallis gave an impromptu critique of many of the paintings.

It was a great day!

Beavercreek Wetlands, 8 X 10, pastel on Belgian Mist Wallis

An Invitation

Monday, October 27, 2008

Friday, October 24, 2008


Gourd IV, 6 x 9, pastel on Wallis paper

Thursday, October 23, 2008


How do you fill up your tank? I fill mine at the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. This red wing blackbird sang his song so sweetly into my heart and filled me to overflowing.

Take a chance and listen to these renditions of the song made famous by the Beatles... you'll be glad you did.

Leaded glass

I enjoyed the challenge yesterday of painting a glass with water, I wanted to try it with a crystal glass. I had trouble with the ellipse at the rim of the glass, but overall, I'm pleased. It looks like a glass. With water.

When my sons still lived at home, they would wet their index fingers and run them over the rims of these glasses to make a beautiful bell sound. Then, they would drink their water to change the tone. What can I say? It was a musical kind of family.

Leaded Glass, 11 X 6, pastel on Wallis paper