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.