Monday, April 30, 2012

honey and yellow saturation

I am trying to understand how the proportions of color in abstraction work or don't work. How much yellow is too much? And, when the blue and violet are also in play, how do the colors fit? Pulled through, the blue/violets turn neutral and yet they still vibrate in those shades of warm yellow.

Reminds me of my cup of tea today. Earl Grey, with just  "A Taste of Honey."

Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass reminds me of my father. Dad played cornet in high school and college, and when I was growing up, it was this kind of music that played on the family hi-fi!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

you are invited!

image "Give and Take" by Katherine van Schoonhoven

Thursday, April 26, 2012


Finding the essence, paring down all of the unnecessary details to what matters, that was my goal this time around. I did the sketches below at my favorite Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge to get my juices flowing. Then, back at the studio, I dove in. 

Maybe that's the answer, when in doubt, take out what's extraneous, and find the bones.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


gesture drawing, 90 seconds
The energy and action of this drawing tells me something: don't work so hard! In 90 seconds, my charcoal and I described the model's pose and attitude (and very long neck!) but nothing is finished. Poor girl, she's missing her face, feet, arms and more. But, somehow, she's there. With attitude. 

I LOVE figure drawing!

Monday, April 23, 2012

strangeness and beauty

"There is no excellent beauty that hath not 
some strangeness in its proportion." Francis Bacon

It started with a figure drawing from last week. I really enjoyed how the figure turned out here, even if I got a bit carried away with the watercolor. I liked how her hips formed a bowl above her legs and the way the feet seemed to be turned in a natural way. 

I've been thinking and thinking about how I might use my figure drawings to extend their usefulness to me. There's plenty of road ahead in experimenting down this avenue of thought, but here you see one of my early explorations.

First, a translation of the figure into an acrylic abstract. I really liked the vibrancy of this stage. But, after a few days of looking at it, I decided that I could do more.

I have more ideas about what I might do with this drawing. I'll be working on them in the studio tomorrow!

Friday, April 20, 2012


Color, texture, shape, line. Familiar words. When used in abstract painting, perhaps nuanced differently. Exploration and adventure. I'm all in!

Here's Virginia Cobb's suggestion for one way of starting an abstract painting. Now, where's my squeegee?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

return to the figure

He moved like a dancer and held each pose like a still life. It felt great to be back at figure drawing yesterday, at Hipbone Studio in Portland. Jeff Burke, owner of the studio and facilitator of the sessions, greeted me by name and commented on how long it had been since my last time there. Ah. Good to be back! Back among friends, models, and the feel of charcoal dust on the old wooden floor.

When the model took this pose, I instantly fell in love with the angles and the lean of his torso and weight supported by the back of the chair. How elegant!

I did a few stick figure sketches to locate the lines of the shoulders, back, hips, and limbs. It's all too easy to straighten up a leaning figure and the stick figure drawings are a help to me.

It doesn't happen every time, but most times when I am at figure drawing, I am overcome by the sense of honor I feel at being able to draw from the live human figure. What a great tradition in art practice! And I am participating in it, too! The more I think about it, I am struck by how it's not just about the bones and skin of the model, but I am in awe of the beauty of the human being in front of me. It gets to me!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

what adds up

7 x 7, pastel and gouache on paper
7 x 7, charcoal and gouache on paper
working out an idea
There are many roads that lead to successful abstract paintings. I have been playing with some shapes and ideas, some colors and designs to move things out of a literal place in my mind. It's like an inchworm who no longer needs to measure marigolds, don't you think?

And, it's like I think I know the song, "Inchworm," and then Patricia Barber shows me I know nothing! What do you think?

Friday, April 13, 2012


12 x 12, pastel on Wallis Museum
Pink Floyd. Of course.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


"Solitude -- being alone with thoughts and feelings -- contributes to productivity in creative work."

Richard Shiff in Van Gogh Up Close, Edited by Cornelia Homburg, Yale University Press
Solitude in the studio. I am in complete control of the sounds, the temperature, the light, the mood, the subject. I allow no interruptions and I feel my focus narrow to what is right in front of me. In this case, my beloved beach path, but this time with Looking Glass colors. More to come with this palette. I feel its zest on my tongue!

I am reading the book "Van Gogh Up Close" from the Van Gogh exhibit of the same name I saw at the Philadelphia Museum of Art earlier this year. You can learn more about that show and see some of the paintings in this Charlie Rose interview with the curators of the show here.

Some days solitude is one of those "Precious Things" Tori Amos sings about.

Monday, April 9, 2012


things are stacking up!
Working out some new ideas in the studio.When I am in a working phase, I don't spent any time deciphering what is strong and what is not. I just go from piece to piece and paint. It doesn't take long before the pieces start to stack up.

I just had the piano tuned and I've been at work there, too. A friend urged me to start writing down my original pieces and put lyrics to them. A good idea comes when you are almost ready for it. So, I'm at the piano, too. Working. Getting a few things to stack up there, too.

It won't be too long before I'm able to share some finished work. In the meantime, I hope that you'll "Stand By Me."

Thursday, April 5, 2012

settling back in at home

After a long trip, it takes a while for me to get settled in at home again. With all of the spring rains we've had (a record breaking wet March in Portland!), the wetlands at the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge were ... wet!

Red Wing Blackbirds were trying to outdo one another in the vocal part of the contest to win the females.

The geese were paired up, mostly in sets of two but every so often I saw a group of three and had to wonder about those guys. Wouldn't you?

Baby animals are always cute, even this little baby nutria. He was munching on the tender shoots that were just up after a few sunny days. Cute, yes, but destructive as all get out!

It seems that everywhere I look, beautiful abstract compositions call out to me. No wonder I love this place so much.

Even though I've been home now for a couple of weeks, I feel more settled now that I have been to the refuge. Ahh.

Monday, April 2, 2012


10 x 8, oil on gessoboard
Whether a shell or a Bach Prelude, some days are perfect for admiring what is elegant.