Sunday, August 31, 2008

I was interviewed!

Read the "10 Questions" interview on the Portland Plein Air and Studio Painters blog below. What fun!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Plein air at the beach -- take 2

This time I was interested in the shadows cast by the patches of dune grass.

Every plein air painting is an opportunity to learn something.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

At the beach -- plein air

I feel myself searching to make my plein air paintings more ... something. I'm just not sure what. More substantive. More complete. More satisfying. I don't know. Not sure I got it with this one. (Of course it's hard to know if you got "it" when you haven't adequately defined what "it" is!)

But I am pleased with the sky. Yep. That morning it was all about the sky.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

What kind of person are you?

Some people are desert people. They love the dry air, the smell of sage, the stark beauty of the desert. They feel great in the dry heat. More alive. When they are in the desert.

Other people are mountain people. They love the feel of air at altitudes, the sharp contrast of snowy peaks against cobalt blue skies. They are energized by the rugged beauty. The feel of challenge in the mountains.

I am not a desert person. Nor a mountain person. But I enjoy visiting both and I can appreciate them like a tourist who doesn't quite speak the language.

I am a beach person. I can't get enough of being at the coast. The smell of the fresh air straight off the miles of ocean fills my lungs more deeply than any other air. As I walk across the dunes, through the sea grasses, I realize that I hold my breath in anticipation of my first view of the ocean. When I'm upset or confused, lost or sad, I would rather be at the beach than any place else.

So, what are you? Desert? Mountain? Beach? Something else? I'd really like to know.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Artists' Choice II at O'Connor's

Hope you'll come and see the current show hanging at O'Connor's and my big bouquet painting on the wall. Hey, if you come on Tuesday or Thursday morning, you can even join us for breakfast and art talk. You won't be disappointed!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Warm Up

It's only been about 10 days since I painted but I feel like I'm out of shape. Like when I would take a vacation from practicing the piano. It always took a while before my fingers remembered how to nail the Chopin Etudes. But, the first attempts after a break were usually pretty bad.

Now I'm back painting and the first attempt was pretty bad. That's okay. I'll nail it the next time.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Giving Up

I'm sure every artist experiences it. So don't expect some flash of brilliance in insight or practice here. No heady words of wisdom.

It started out as a good idea. The model was beautiful and she held her head turned just so, in a way that spoke to classic beauty. I loved the pose. I sketched her. I even photographed her. And, I've tried to paint her in this pose. Several times.

But something happens to ruin the painting. I probably think too hard and feel too little. I'm sure I do that. This is the third time I have given up on an attempt at this painting. I've tried it small (9 X 12), medium (18 X 24) and now large (30 X 36). I've tried it in different styles. Realistic. Tonal. Expressionistic.

Maybe the next time I try, I will take all of the good things from my previous attempts, and paint what I know is there. It's beauty. The kind that speaks to truth and justice and peace.

But, this time, I'm giving up. I'm calling this painting attempt "The Girl Who Refused to be Painted."


I love gesture drawing. It's a great way to warm up before painting or trying to focus on a bigger project. When I have only seconds to capture something, I get out of my way. Or, maybe I bypass my over-thinking brain and just let my eye and my hand figure it out. Sometimes it feels like magic.

I often practice drawing moving people. When I'm sitting still and others are moving around me, I can often get a quick gesture drawing that captures the feeling and shape of what I see.

In figure drawing sessions, we usually begin with gesture drawings for the first 10-15 minutes of our three hours. The model often strikes dramatic poses that are possible to hold for a minute or less but would be too taxing to hold for longer. Here's an example of one of my gestures. It's a crazy scribble (I was experimenting with not lifting my graphite stick while drawing) but there's something there that's definitely human and interesting to me.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


Sunflowers were the perfect subject for getting back to some studio art time. It was great to be on the boat. But, it's good to be home. I think that I will paint more landscapes from our Vancouver Island adventure based on the many sketches and plein air pieces I did while we were gone.

But today was for sunflowers. I wanted to try to get a vibration from the yellow/purple and orange/blue combinations.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

New Show Hanging!

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Gesture Sailboat

Sometimes a quick sketch captures the feeling and the subject at the same time. I like this sketch, done in just seconds. When a sailboat is motoring toward you, it's good to be quick!
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Thursday, August 7, 2008

Copying a Master -- Wolf Kahn

Copying a painting sounds like a boring exercise, but it was anything but boring when I copied Wolf Kahn's "Sun Drenched Barn." I learned how he layered color, handled line, created texture, placed the subject on the paper. It was an experience I won't soon forget and hope to repeat.

Click on the underlined painting title above and you should be directed to Mr Kahn's original piece.