Saturday, January 30, 2010

Did you wash your hands?

On Bus 38 to Union Square
18 x 18

Last May I spent a weekend in San Francisco with girlfriends. We did all kinds of things: cable cars to Fisherman's Wharf, the Legion of Honor Museum, "Beach Blanket Babylon," walks, shopping, sitting in the sunshine, it was the best kind of fun.

We took a cab out to the Legion of Honor Museum, but took the bus back to our hotel on Union Square. All kinds of folks take the bus and I had my sketchbook out and tried to sketch as many faces as I could. This Italian woman was not happy that I was sketching her. No, she was mad! She charmed me with her lined face, fierce expression, dark eyebrows, and wobbly ear lobes. I'm only glad that she didn't curse me with some ancient Italian curse!

From the sketch, this painting. Which I just had framed. And now it hangs in my bathroom.

Her wary face makes me use lots of soap when I wash up! I love it!!

Friday, January 29, 2010


The start of an exploration of these last weeks.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Catch the glimmer

18 x 12
Dakota Board

The Eight+ have a new show hanging at O'Connor's Restaurant in Multnomah Village. Come in for the art, stay for the food. Or come for the food and stay for the art.

You'll see new by Celeste Bergin, Mary Luzinski, Marge Rood, Eileen Nelson, Carrie Holst, Kitty Wallis, Carolyn Rondthaler, Michael Fisher, Kimberly Kent, and me.

I used some iridescent paints in the underpainting for "Wader." You can get up close and see the shimmer along the bird's belly and head and in the water. It's a subtle look and not one I would want to overdo, lest my painting start to resemble a glitter-laden Valentine. Let me know what you think when you see it!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

IAPS 15th Annual Exhibit!

It was great to drive out to Brea today to see the International Association of Pastel Societies 15th Annual juried exhibition. A beautifully hung show with many pastel artists' work I recognized!

I have been following Barbara Benedetti Newton's blog (see blog list to the right) and today I got to see her entry in person. Beautiful!

The paintings were beautifully hung and I was thrilled to see the work of artists whose work I've admired, face to face, for as long as I like. Sally Strand. Maggie Price. Diana De Santis. Guoyue Dou.

An artful day. Life is good.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


Some days there was nothing to do but sit by Dad's bedside. Here's one of the sketches I did during those first days of his illness. His health has improved and he is out of the hospital, but life continues to provide challenges and surprises.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Music and thinking of Dad

I was seven years old when I fell in love with the piano. I heard a friend's sister practicing "Fur Elise" and I knew I wanted to be able to make sounds like she did. I begged my parents to rent a piano and start me with a piano teacher. They did. I have played ever since.

Piano lessons led to piano recitals. Then competitions. Then more recitals. Finally, serious concerts (where people even paid real money to hear me play!). Later, I had a band, then played in various bands. Now I just play with my kids at Christmas. But it's all been fun.

Though there are a few musicians on Mom's side of the family (cousins who played banjo and accordion), I got my musical ability from my Dad. Dad's father could play any horn that was ever made, plus guitar, piano, and ukulele. I inherited all of Grandpa's sheet music, marked with his notes, including the piece below, "Yes, We Have No Bananas."

Dad played the cornet. Somewhere in his house sits a black leather case with college stickers on its ragged surface. Inside is his horn, tarnished from age and disuse. And medals. Dad played horn through college and was proud of his "great lips." All horn players say that.

As I make my way south, the music in my mind is sad. I go to see my father in the hospital, where he is very ill and confused. But tonight, as I rest from travel, it is sweet to remember this tune and the sound of Grandpa playing his ukulele and Dad singing along in his one note kind of way.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Light on Water

18 x 24

The more I considered it, the more I realized that the under painting I did yesterday could work for a painting for "Subject to Interpretations." This is #5 for the Portland Plein Air and Studio Painters' Winter Project. The Subject was sunrise on Willapa Bay, one of my favorite spots.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Unfinished but promising

36 x 48 WIP

18 x 24 under painting

It takes quite a bit of space to get distance on my big painting (top photo). Before I turned out the lights in the studio yesterday, I positioned the painting on my big easel and turned it to face the door. That way, as soon as I turned on lights and entered the studio, I would have that delicious experience of a first impression with it.

As soon as I saw it, I knew that I needed to do something with the background trees. They were coming forward and too detailed for the recession I desired. I brushed pastel off first with a 4" Hake and then wet the brush and wiped it around to flatten the color and pull out the definition. I don't know if it's the right value yet, but it's better and it's going back a little more. I'm slowly working my way down the painting. The land forms are folding and curving the way they should. I like working BIG!

The bottom photo shows the under painting for my next beach scene. No pastel yet, just Guerra pigments in water dispersion, painted onto Wallis Museum paper. It has some nice movement that I hope to keep when I begin applying pastel tomorrow. It will dry on my board overnight.

Any day with time spent painting is a good day. Today was a good day, indeed.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Fully watered

As I walk across the dune grass, I can hear the wet surf just over the ridge. The wind carries the salty smell of the beach onto my clothes, in my hair, across my skin and I am refreshed. I take a deep breath. And another. And again and again.

Restored. Renewed. Calm. Filled to the brim with fresh air from the ocean. And my soul fully watered.

Tomorrow I paint. Before anything else. I paint!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Soul Sipping

View from the driver's seat of my car. Look, up in the tree! What is it?
It's too big to be a hawk ... is that an eagle up there?

He's huge! Oh, wait! I didn't mean to frighten you!

Bald eagles don't get their white feathers until they are 5 years old.

Mom comes to the rescue!

I can actually hear the wind riffling through the feathers on her wings!

I've been feeling dry lately. Working on Kitty's book puts me into an analytical part of my mind. I'm sorting, writing, editing, cutting, pasting, and working from a disciplined, critical mindset. Stepping into the studio is a joke. There is absolutely no room for creativity. Yesterday I even questioned whether I was a painter or not.

Lucky for me, I have some solutions for this dry feeling. I call it "Soul Sipping." It's like a cool cup of water for my thirsty soul. A break in the rain allowed me to go to the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge.

How do you Soul Sip?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Work in Progress

Three feet by four feet! This is by far the largest painting I have attempted! It's still early, but you can see the first steps of the underpainting (bottom photo) and the beginnings of pastel application.

Elizabeth Steinbaugh at Aurora Gallery mounted the Wallis paper onto Gatorboard for me (thank you, Elizabeth!) so that the wet underpainting would not cause any warping or distortions. It's the perfect solution!!

Stay tuned for more progress on this work!

Monday, January 4, 2010


Kitty Wallis has been writing a book on color for many years. It will be amazing when it's finally put together. She has a personal history with art that goes back at least fifty years and her use of color is unique and brilliant.

I have some skills with organization and writing and I am putting those to excellent use in helping her with the final push to make the book an in print reality.

With any big project, the first step is often sorting through what you have to work with. I've made piles of papers according to their chapters and subjects. It was a good 3" of paper, so it took me a while. I had to steel myself to keep from reading the material as I organized it. Wait, wait! I want to know what she has to say about light and glare! Wait! What was that about mist?

I'll get to it all in time. But first the piles. Oooh! This is going to be really good. Read Kitty's interview with Susan Gallacher-Turner and get a taste for what is to come in her book!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Canada Geese

18 x 24

The water was choppy and a little wind-disturbed, but the light was bright as the birds glided quietly past me. Their sunlit white feathers were oddly reflected in the water, in the dip here and on the crest there.

I used a few of my new Crumble Colors: in the midtones on the feathers and in the lights on the birds. In places it seemed like I got a streak of unwelcome yellow, but overall I liked the results and look forward to using them in less subtle ways with my next painting.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Crumble Colors!

My test sheet for the new Crumble Colors I made with Kitty last week. I love how the colors are mixed but still separate. Wow! I'm excited!! Now, to paint!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Measuring 2009

January 1, 2010. The beginning of a new year. I love beginnings. Anything and everything is possible. It's a giant blank journal, waiting for me to write what I will in it.

But first, a brief look back at 2009. The best goals are those with clear terms and easily measured results.

2009 Goals
  • Attend Kitty Wallis' weekly Figure Drawing Class for the year, whenever I am in town.
  • Paint at least 200 paintings.
  • Enter at least five juried shows or contests.
I am pleased to say that I accomplished or exceeded all three goals.

Kitty's figure drawing class was a challenge and I think that I have a long way to go before I assimilate the learning from her class into my paintings.

I painted 207 paintings this year, about four paintings per week. (Above you see my final painting of the year, from the reference on the blog Subject to Interpretations.)

I entered nine juried shows or contests.

Now, looking ahead to 2010, I think that maybe I need to be less of a taskmistress with myself. It seems that I will paint regularly without the pressure of a goal driving me to paint. So, this year, I will paint as often as I want to paint.

My special goal for this year is to take at least two art workshops. It will be a particular challenge this year because of a rigorous travel schedule, but I have already scheduled the first workshop for February 2010.

In addition, I will continue to work with Kitty Wallis and to pay attention to her mentoring comments. I am fortunate to be in this position and I don't want to miss anything she passes on to me.

Thank you for following my journey of art and music. I appreciate you and wish you all a very Happy New Year! Katherine