About Me

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I have been creating things since I was old enough to hold a pencil, a crayon or a needle. You may be surprised what you find here.

Monday, June 28, 2010


My dad is getting older. Although that's true for all of us, he is getting to the point in his life where his quality of life is impacted. Since his stroke several years ago, and a recent diagnosis of a neurodegenerative disorder his health issues have multiplied. I'm 100% certain that this is not the old age and retirement that he envisioned as he worked so hard for all those years.

I decided that I needed to paint him while I could it with joy and not sadness. He looks younger in the painting than he actually is, but when I showed the painting to my uncle last weekend, he knew exactly who I had painted. So at least he is recognizable to more than just me.

Painting his hair was hard. He was a blonde as a youth, and like most natural blondes, his hair darkened into a dingy dishwater color as he got older. Although now it is streaked with grey, it's still retains a lot of that color. Add to that it's both receding and thinning and it was problematic. I did however, capture the shape of his face, nose and jaw and his beautiful blue eyes which I was fortunate enough to inherit.

This is how I'll remember my dad long after he is gone. Quietly chuckling over something he's heard or seen...not missing anything that is happening around him. My brother and I saw this expression and pose a lot while we were growing up.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Spooky Tuesday

Spooky Tuesday came from a shelter at just eight weeks old. He was part of a litter of five kittens named after the days of the work week. Because it was October he was renamed Spooky Tuesday in honor of Halloween.

I have always been partial to black cats. They are elegant and Spooky is no exception. He is the king in our household and it shows in nearly every move. His pose is nearly always regal.

This was my first painting of Spooky, and even though it was created in oils, it looks more like a watercolor. He is one of my favorite subjects to paint. I think to date I have created four Spooky paintings. Burka Kitty was the first, painted from a photo taken when he was a kitten.

Looking at this image today, for the first time I can see areas where I could improve this painting. Will I go back and do it? I don't know. If I try to fix all my old paintings, I will not get to work on any new ones, and I'll run out of things to post here in short order.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Baby Gremi

A couple of years ago some friends of ours had to make a very hard choice with one of their cats. It was devastating for them. They had this cat since he was a cute little kitten.

I had only recently started painting again, but I did have a couple of paintings of cats under my belt so I offered to paint Gremi if they supplied a photo.

The photo they came up with was one of him buried in a basket of clean towels as a kitten. I knew I could manage the towels, was reasonably comfortable with the kitten image but the basket absolutely terrified me. Even though it's just a small part of the painting and not something you focus on, to me getting it right was as important as everything else.

Our friends were moving to England and I had the painting completed and framed before they left. It is a small 8"x10" panel, nothing too big to pack or that would take up too much room in their new home. I believe they were pleased with the result.

I also have a photo of Gremi all grown up, him mom is a great photographer. One of these days I may also tackle that. It's a bit more fun to paint an animal with more than one color on it's fur. Although when I am painting a one color cat or dog, I don't have to worry about getting the stripes or spots in the right places.

Friday, June 11, 2010

A still life from scratch

A few days ago, I made a public comment, that I was going to devote the month of June to finishing paintings before I started any new ones. There is something about making a public statement that practically guarantees you will have to eat your words.

Not even 24 hours had passed before I was itching to start a new painting. Going back a bit, I had recently received two of my art magazines and had read a couple of interesting articles and had been inspired by some of the paintings. I really wanted to do a still life, and I wanted to do it from the beginning and do it right.

This meant playing with the objects until I found a pleasing arrangement. The above reference photo does not have the lighting I plan to use in the painting but I wanted to show what I was doing.

I plan to paint this slightly larger than life. I have been told and have read, that if you work out all your problems in a drawing it will be easier to paint. I love to paint large, but I hate to draw large, so my solution was to make a small scale drawing, roughly 8"x10" to work on proportions and the like. Once the drawing was done to my satisfaction, I had it enlarged so that I could transfer it onto my 18"x24" canvas. The canvas was treated with an additional layer of gesso, and the under painted with a mixture of yellow ochre and titanium white acrylic so that it would dry quickly. Then I could transfer the image. Once the image was on the canvas, I roughed in all the shapes with burnt sienna and am ready to set up my lights and begin painting tomorrow.

I don't feel bad or guilty about doing it this way, after all, I have done all the work myself and will still need to paint it. Although my husband occasionally refers to this method as 'paint by number' he has no concept of what is involved in mixing the paint or the challenges of getting the paint on the canvas the way you want it to look.

This is a painting I plan to take my time with. I think I have the skill set to get what I want when I am done. At some point in the future, you will find the finished painting here. But for now, future posts will continue to feature work done in the past.

I'd love to hear from you so please don't be shy.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

My parent's dog

I created this painting for my step mom's birthday a few years back. It was one of my first painting of dogs. I had been visiting and had my camera with me. Mindy, which is the dog's name is very active, and it was hard to capture her as she rarely stood still. This shot, had her looking down the driveway with her mouth slightly open and her tail curled over her back. She was happy.

The challenges of painting this were numerous. A white dog is almost as much fun to paint as a black dog or black cat. And then there was all that grass and the stone path behind her. Up until that point, all my paintings had simple backgrounds. The painting was all foreground. When I was done, I was truly pleased with the result, although I think the pot of geraniums was not as good as I would have liked.

My stepmom was pleased to have the painting and hung it in the main hallway where everyone could see it when they arrived. A place of honor. I was glad that she liked it and wanted to have it.

There is a bit of a back story about the dog Mindy, however. For nearly 30 years there has always been a white American Eskimo dog at my dad's place and it has always been a female named Mindy. I don't know why they all get the same name, probably because it's easier to remember one name, but it get's confusing as well. When you remember back to a specific time, you don't know which Mindy it was that you are talking about. I don't even know at this point, how many Mindy's there have been.

In any case, this is the painting where I learned to paint a grassy lawn, and so far it has been my best looking effort in doing so. I have a few photographs of pets of friends and family, and one of these days, I may yet again paint a dog or a cat for someone. No requests, please. It's hard enough when I am trying to please only myself.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Doe a Deer. a female deer....

I started this painting nearly a year ago. It's from a photo I took at my friends farm. I was going up her long driveway when a doe crossed in front of me. Over to one side there was another doe. Both stopped to look at the car.

I stopped to look at the deer. Fortunately for me, I had the windows down in my car and the radio was off. Actually the radio doesn't work, but that's another story. I also had my camera in my backpack. Very slowly I reached over, unzipped the backpack and took the camera out. Equally slowly, I removed the lense cap, moved the viewfinder up to my face and focused. I was able to get off three or four shots before they spooked and took off across the field.

Although my husband and probably my artist friends will tell me there is a lot more I can do to improve this painting, it's done - at least for now. This is the skill level I am at, continuing to work on making the face of the doe more lifelike will result in frustration. Painting is my way of relaxing and having fun...frustration will ruin it.

I know that if I continue to paint on a regular basis, I will get better. I am out of practice. From painting nearly every day when I came home from work and every weekend, I am now painting once or twice a month, and that is up from going a few months without touching a brush. My plan for the summer is to spend more time painting.

Why the title of this post? Well, that little song kept running through my head, so I decided to give in and go with it.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Painting from life

In the early days, when I first started painting again I was painting from photographs exclusively. I still do a lot of painting from photos, but have come to realize the value in trying to paint what you actually see.

One evening at a regular painting session with a friend, she decided that we needed to paint a still life. She had gone to the store and purchased fruit and carefully set up a still life for us to paint. The pitcher and plate were chosen for their ability to reflect light and she used additional lighting to create shadows on the scene.

Talk about scary! This was intimidating. She is an excellent artist and painting what I see before me eliminated all my little tricks. But what can you do when faced with a challenge? Your choices are to jump in and do it or run for the hills. The latter was not really an option, after all, what was the worst that was going to happen?
I might fail. Okay, what does failing look like? A painting that doesn't reflect what I see before me? Well it could be modern art-that isn't purely representational. I think it might be wasted time, paint and a canvas...but how can any of that be wasted if I learn something. Even if I paint something I wouldn't even show the dog, Ihave have gained some experience with using brushes and playing with how the paints go together.

I have yet to ever throw away a canvas, although I have a few I probably should, but each canvas, even the bad ones are part of the experience. Now I will admit to occasionally sanding one down and covering everything under it with Gesso so that I can use it again to paint something else (those are the ones I wouldn't show the dog, and I'll show almost anything I have painted to anyone who will look!).

The point is, don't agonize over the end result. It will work or it won't, but in the process you will get better and the next time you will come closer to your goal. Like they say on the sneaker commercial - just do it! And when your non artist friends and relatives tell you what's wrong with your painting just offer them a canvas and brush and encourage them to try for themselves. If nothing else, you might gain a painting companion.