Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Hellebore prayers and Palm Desert solution

Ink and watercolor sketch

 Even the Hellebore are praying for sunshine for Portland.
The wood duck doesn't mind the rain ... but I do! We have had a dismal March with few sunny days and lots of gray and rain.

What a great excuse to travel south to visit my mom in Palm Desert! Ahhh. Sunshine and temperatures in the 80s. More sketches to come -- from Mom's place!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Far Away Nearby

9 x 12 on recycled Pastelmat
"Well, my kids decided that it was a good idea for me to live near one of them," my father told me today on the phone from Florida. We have had this conversation many times before. I am one of his kids. He forgets that sometimes. I helped him move last year from Southern California to an assisted living facility in Tampa Bay, to be near my brother and his family.

Dad forgets a lot of things. It's a sad part of dementia. Some days I can laugh off the absurdities. Some days I just feel sad. Today was one of those days. When my tears start, I try to end the conversation quickly.

"I love you, Dad. I'll talk to you soon."

"I love you, too, honey. I always love to hear the sound of your voice." He is completely sincere. But, he will not remember that I called when he talks to my brother just a few minutes later.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Vibrant cobalt sky is queen!

9 x 12 on recycled Wallis Museum paper

In the winter, the grasses are stripped of their color and the vibrant cobalt sky is the queen looking in her water mirror to ask who is the fairest of all.

Friday, March 25, 2011

A bench is an invitation

An invitation to rest and look out at Willapa Bay, Oysterville has many benches located along the bay. If you are even a little curious about Oysterville, Sydney Stevens' book Oysterville is worth looking at (Google Books allows a lot of good browsing of the book here). 

But, near and dear to my heart is Willard R. Espy's book, Oysterville: Roads to Grandpa's Village. Oysterville was founded by R.H. Espy and I.A. Clark back in the mid-1800s to capitalize on the oyster trade. Today, I find and am charmed by the picket fences and historic homes of many of the town founders and early residents. They are under the lofty umbrella of the towering Monterey Cypress trees that line the main road.

I sat on a welcoming bench to sketch the bay. On the bench were inscribed these words from Willard Espy:

"I can watch the slow breathing of the bay,
six hours in, six hours out." 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Rx: The Private Life of a Masterpiece

It was a Christmas gift and I have continued to enjoy watching these dvds about famous artwork. Van Gogh's "The Sunflowers," Seurat's "A Sunday on La Grande Jatte 1884," Picasso's "Les Desmoiselles d'Avignon" are among some of the paintings discussed in this top notch series.

Sometimes, when I'm tired of the rain or want a pick me up, I watch an episode and feel excited again about making art.  I enjoy learning about the history of these famous pieces, how they fit in to the context of their time, what effects they had on the future of art, the technicalities of the painting, and everything else the BBC throws into the discussions. Plenty to chew on.

I think you might enjoy these, too. Check them out at Amazon here.

Note: I do not get a commission or any benefit from recommending these to you, only the joy of sharing a good resource with fellow artists. What do you use for a pick me up?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Oysterville Sketch

out of my sketchbook in Oysterville, WA

Oysterville Church ... open


A trip to the beach is like gallons of water for my parched soul. Sometimes I don't even realize that I'm parched until I arrive. Sunshine helped make it idyllic, but it's not required.

whimsy at the beach

Monday, March 21, 2011

Somerset Paper experimentation

pastel rubbed in for underpainting with pastel on top

pastel brushed with Turpenoid under pastel painting
Today I experimented with Somerset paper. I did four paintings, using different techniques to see what I thought about this pastel surface.

Per Loriann Signori's suggestion, I tried using a light pastel application washed over with Turpenoid for my under painting and then added more pastel on top. I liked the melting effect of the pastel into the paper, but the Turpenoid dried or absorbed so quickly into the paper, I did not achieve any washy, watery movement of color. Judging from the white paper showing through, I may have not applied enough pastel with my under painting to get the full effect of this technique. I will try it again.
Somerset is a hardy paper and seemed to handle my scrubbing and rubbing on it, as I did in the example at the top of this post. I did not observe any felting of the paper and I was able to put on many pastel layers (8 or more in some places). 

My least successful experiment involved a light pastel application washed with rubbing alcohol. I had a lot of warping and buckling of the paper from the alcohol and that made the dry pastel application later much more difficult to control. 

A good day for experimenting. I have some Twinrocker paper waiting some experiments next time!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A boating weekend!

ink sketch of crew teams after workout

ink sketch on the dock at Shilshole

going through the Chittenden Locks in the rain

on our way south, we saw lots of sailing groups out on the water

our new boat at her home port in Olympia ... sweet!

Some rain, some sun, and a weekend aboard our new boat. Finally, the work was done and we were able to move the boat from Seattle to Olympia. Lake Union, in downtown Seattle near the University of Washington campus, is about 25 feet higher than Puget Sound. To navigate out of the lake, we had to go through the Hiram M. Chittenden locks. Lucky for us, it was a dreary week day with no boat traffic and we were the only ones in the lock. We tied our lines to moving cleats and held fast as the water was evacuated to let us leave the lock on flat water into Puget Sound.

Overnight at Shilshole Marina on the guest dock. We woke up the next day to blue sky and lots of people getting their sailboats ready for the race just outside the breakwater. I couldn't resist pulling out my sketchbook to scribble down their personalities. Gestures, done when the people don't stay still, it's an aerobic art activity! 

Our trip south was sunny and on flat water and truly a delight. Fun to take our first cruise with our new boat. You see her in the last photo, safely tied up at the dock in Olympia. She's a beauty! And she has two great art areas for painting. One, the enclosed fly bridge. Two, the enclosed stern cockpit. The windows can come off completely when the weather is fine. How great is that?!

More boating adventures ahead! I'm excited!

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Last night I dreamed that a cloud of radioactive air moved across the ocean to my Refuge, poisoning the water, the air, and the birds. I woke up with a terrible headache that has stayed with me. I am thankful that I can wake up from a nightmare. Thinking today of those who can not.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Savage Dance

Duck Pond, Refuge 3, 9 x 12, pastel on BFK

When my sons were little, my serious piano practice time was right after I put them to bed. On special nights, I would let them call out requests. "Play the Mozart!" And I would play the Sonata or Fantasy, perhaps part of the Concerto. Sometimes I would only hear silence when I finished, meaning that they had fallen asleep. But, sometimes I would hear the sound of their little hands clapping. And then, "Play the Gershwin!" I would play the Preludes

But, when they called out "Play the Bartok!" I would answer "No, no! I am sorry but your request is denied!" They would giggle and try to cajole me into playing the Bartok, but I knew that if I did, they would jump from their beds and dance to the compelling rhythms.

Bartok was saved for daytime practice only. And when I played, no matter what the boys were doing, they would run to the piano and dance wildly, what we called the "Savage Dance." One of our favorites, the Dance No. 6 in Bulgarian Rhythm, had a time signature of "3+3+2 over 8" which means that every measure is organized in pulses that go like this: 1-2-3,1-2-3,1-2. Say it out loud, without pausing at the commas. Now, say it again with a little emphasis or accent on the "1"s. 1-2-3,1-2-3,1-2. Again and again. Savage Dance.
On days when I am unsettled, when I feel wild inside, on these days I feel the Savage Dance. And I go to the Refuge.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Seasonal Pond at the Refuge

9 x 12, pastel on BFK
"Let us consider the way in which we spend our lives." 

Henry David Thoreau in Life Without Principle, 1863

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Beginnings are MAGIC!

49 color sketches, each 3 x 4, on BFK
Notan done from life at the Refuge
At the beginning of something new, everything is possible. Anything can happen. Giddy optimism and buckets full of energy to throw at paper and paint and see where it goes. In my own mind goes the phrase, "Once upon a time ..." and I am rapt. Poised on the fringe between reality and imagination that could go anywhere, I am fishing for stars with a feather boa, riding a giraffe who sings baritone and it is all possible.

Yes, beginnings are magic!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Thistle and Blackbirds

thistle sketch with watercolor
Red Wing Blackbird on thistle

Beginnings are always powerful! A little sunshine today was all the excuse I needed to visit the Refuge. I love the shape of the thistles, they remind me of Elizabethan collars. A delight to sketch their beauty. And the blackbirds, a treat any day.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


24 x 24
pastel on prepared panel

Seeking. An active pursuit of something that is desired or prized. Those who seek often find. I'll let you you know on that.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Cattail Meditation, new project in development phase

photo credit: R.C. Clingman
cattail meditation
Tundra Swans

I have been thinking about a project centered on my favorite Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. Enya's music always stirs me to think more, feel more, consider differently. The perfect accompaniment for a day of pondering a new project.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


starting something new
An artful day today starting with a great meeting of the Portland Plein Air and Studio Painters. We talked about art shows, art technique, art inspiration, art ideas. It was wonderful and inspiring! After the meeting, several of us went back to Carolyn's place for more sketching and what has been teasingly called "the meeting after the meeting." It is good to keep drawing skills sharp and I always enjoy sketching. See what the others sketched here.

When I got back to my own studio, I tore apart the fading flowers from my big bouquets, created smaller arrangements, and started a new painting. It's looking like spring over here with these lovely flowers!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Abstracting Water Slideshow

In the six months since I have returned home from Alaska, water has been on my mind. Here is a slide show of some of my new thoughts and explorations about water. More to come, I am sure of it. More to come.


24 x 24
pastel on prepared panel

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Flowers and Gram

20 x 16, oil on canvas board

 Flowers and lemons again. This time I tried to keep the shapes big and the details few until the very end and then I only added what I thought was needed. 

I love flowers and often think of my grandmother when I buy, arrange, and paint flowers. My grandmother had a knack for growing them, something that she inherited from her mother who was famous for her rose beds and flower gardens back in the little Missouri town she lived. My grandmother could make a flower grow in any kind of soil, and she did. Even at the very end of her life, she had pots of African violets in her room, and she would still stick her fingers into the soil to see if they needed water.

I was a tough study about flowers when I was little. My problem was that I thought dandelions were beautiful. They were yellow and so pretty, or they were "blow wishes flowers" and if I saw one, I had to blow. I recently found this old photo of me with Gram. I can just imagine Gram patiently explaining to me again about dandelions and how weeds were not flowers. But, you know what? Every so often, she would blow wishes with me. I miss her!
Gram and Katherine, age 3

Friday, March 4, 2011

Daisy Love

14 x 11
oil and cold wax on Ray Mar panel

Whenever I am at a museum or art gallery, I enjoy looking at floral paintings. I look for composition, texture, and a sense of beauty and poetry in the fragile tissue of the petals. Fechin, Van Gogh, Renoir, they all do a great job with flowers, but it is Manet who steals the show every time.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Henk Pander at the Hallie Ford Art Museum

sketch of Henk Pander 3.4.11
I had a great day today. A day of fun and laughter and art and energy. I drove down to Salem for the Henk Pander retrospective at the Hallie Ford Art Museum. 

It was a surprise and a delight to discover that a class of Linn-Benton art students with their professor Gary Westford were at the show.  Even better, Henk Pander was there to give an impromptu talk about his work and art. I couldn't take photographs of the artwork, but nothing stopped me from sketching Pander while he talked.
Listening to Henk Pander's talk
 The crowd was very attentive to Pander's description of living in Nazi-occupied Holland during WWII and the effects of that experience on his work. All around us were huge murals of bright color and conflict. My notes in my sketchbook: "gruesome oils of disaster and mayhem."

My favorite painting was a quiet portrait of his father.

If you can get there before its close March 29, I highly recommend this show. You can find details of this exhibit and the schedule here.
Left: portrait of Mayor John Kitzhaber by Henk Pander in the Capitol Building

Looking straight up to the rotunda in the Capitol Building

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Pick your favorite!

9 x 9
pastel on Bristol

successful project!

I have loved this self-imposed project, but it feels like I have taken it as far as I want to for now. Pastels are cleaned and put away. Time to look over the group of completed paintings and pick out my favorites. What do you think? 

Do you have a favorite painting from the group of 18?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Three Four the Spanish Dance

Three Four
15 x 15
pastel on BFK

I think my color choices today were influenced by my morning piano practice time. Now that I have my new piano music reading glasses (helping my eyes focus at 27" and allowing me to make sense of what were becoming crazed ants on blurry lined pages) I was able to play through Granados' Spanish Dances. My favorite today is Opus 37 Number 2. I love the slow sensuality of it. Many recordings take it too fast for my taste, but this one is sweet. These pieces were written for piano but are often transcribed and arranged for classical guitar and other instruments.

You'll notice that I have added a link to the music in the text of this blog, as well as providing an embedded video. Many subscribers to this blog have commented that they are unable to see or listen to the videos when they view the posts in their email accounts. I hope that this extra link helps those readers (and thank you so much for telling me about the problem) and adds to their enjoyment of the "music" part of this blog, "Art and Music."