Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Monday, December 21, 2009

Branches Bare

Branches Bare, 6 x 6

Today is the Winter Solstice - the first day of winter and the shortest day of the year (at least in the Northern Hemisphere.) It all has to do with the fact that the "top" half of Earth is tilted away from the sun at its most extreme angle. Trees are baring and plants are going dormant... all part of the cycle.

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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Limestone Ledges

Limestone Ledges, 9 x 12

Today I met up with my buddy, Randi Knight, to take a little painting break from the "holidays". I think that word is supposed to be synonymous with rest and vacation, but at this time of year it feels more like the opposite! It was so nice to slow down, listen to the lake lapping, and take a deep breath!

We painted at Hippie Hollow on Lake Travis, which is a beach park known for nude sunbathing. Being that the temperature was in the 50's, we figured no one would be out, at least not in THAT respect. Hmmm, not the case, as it turns out... there were several brave, bare souls. I know I have said this before but... it's always an adventure!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Winter Roadside

Winter Roadside, 6 x 12 diptych, (6 x 6 each), SOLD
I love how the "bones" of the landscape emerge in winter, revealing its infra-structure in muted tones of grays and golds. These bare trees on the roadside offered me a great opportunity to study those neutrals.

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Friday, December 11, 2009

Farm Day

Farm Day, 6 x 6, SOLD
There is something about the tidy rows of produce on a farm. Maybe it's the rhythmic pattern and geometry of it all. Maybe it's that they are so orderly in a chaotic season. (Probably!) Whatever it is, they do have a peaceful lure for me.
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Monday, December 7, 2009

Hidden Farm Shed

Hidden Farm Shed, 9 x 12
Last Thursday, our painting group met at a local farm to paint. It was such a cold morning that the farm hands were covering all the crops to save them from an expected freeze. Let's just say that my fingers and toes were stiff from the arctic air in spite of all the layers I had on. I was determined to stay till I finished, but it took me quite awhile to warm back up!
Side note: Many thanks to Charley Parker for featuring my work on the December 6 post of his very cool blog, Lines and Colors. Please check it out, and thank you Charley!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Honorable Mention - Woo Hoo!

Lost Canyon, 16 x 12

Please pardon my re-posting of this painting, but I had to share my excitement about winning an Honorable Mention ribbon at the Outdoor Painters Society's Plein Air Southwest 2009 show in Dallas! Hearing my own name announced was a thrilling moment and I am still pinching myself! Thanks to all of you for your kind words and good wishes!

Happy me!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Dallas Show - Plein Air Southwest 2009

Lost Canyon, 16 x 12

If you live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, please come to one of the opening receptions this weekend for Plein Air Southwest 2009, the Outdoor Painters Society's annual juried show. It's at the Southwest Gallery in Dallas and includes an amazing group of paintings by some fabulous artists. I am very pleased to be a part of it all and hope to see some of you there!

Plein Air Southwest 2009
Friday, December 4th - Artist's Reception & Award Ceremony
Saturday, December 5th - Opening Reception & Artist Demonstrations
Southwest Gallery, 4500 Sigma Road, Dallas, TX, 800-272-9910
(These four paintings of mine are in the exhibit,
and available to purchase through the gallery.)

Winter Light at the Creek, 12 x 16

Upper Falls, 12 x 12

Blue Barn, 12 x 12

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Demo - Conscience Point

Conscience Point, 6.5 x 8.5

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your loved ones! Ours was great but it sure went fast!!! And isn't it amazing how holidays can interrupt our routines?? Before I get back to my regular posting, I would like to share this demo that I did for my most recent class. This comes to you by special request of one of my readers who asked me to show a little bit about my process. It also includes a lesson about value planes in the landscape...

In Carlson's Guide to Landscape Painting by John Carlson (a "must have" for any landscape painter) he talks about the 4 basic value planes in the landscape: Sky (lightest light), ground (second lightest), slants (third lightest), uprights (darkest darks). Above: example of 4 planes in grey tones (this is NOT a part of the actual painting process which starts below).

I begin all paintings with an underdrawing using a dark neutral mixed of alizarin crimson, french ultramarine, and raw umber. At this drawing stage, I establish my composition, block in shapes and lay in my darkest darks. I don't let this get too thick o that I can avoid "mud" when painting back into it.

Next, I lay in large areas of color to each of the "value planes". I try to use an average best for each, paying close attention to the value and temperature relationships between the planes. (Remember, warm advances and cool recedes.) It's important to get these relationships working altogether before adding any major detail. Now is the time to tweak overall values if necessary.

Once the value planes are working, details can be added using intermediate values. As Carlson says, "All intermediate values are subserviant to the main values." This means that shifts within each value plane need to be pretty subtle. At this point I am painting wet paint over and into wet paint. To avoid mud - load your brush, keep a light touch, and lightly wipe brush tip where paint has been picked up. AND, practice, practice, practice!
Of course, nature never leaves anything that simple. Light changes everything, and we still have to closely observe what nature presents. I will say that understanding this basic framework helps me break things down when I am out in the field; and it helps me establish a foundation for capturing whatever the fickle light is up to.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Blazing Canyon

Blazing Canyon, 6 x 8, SOLD
I drive by this canyon often in my travels around town. It's always a pretty view, but it's especially breathtaking in the fall and spring when the seasonal colors emerge. It sure sets the mood for Thanksgiving!!
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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Silent Partners

Silent Partners, 6 x 6, SOLD

Today was one of those on-the-verge-of-raining, cold, damp days. My painting group was scheduled to meet and paint at a beautiful church, but no one else was crazy enough to come out. Go figure. :) Since I was there and had all my stuff, I decided to stay. Plus, I spotted some fall color and couldn't resist. It never did rain, and I had a deliciously quiet and peaceful morning!

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Golden Splendor

Golden Splendor, 6 x 8, SOLD
This small island in Ladybird Lake is brilliant right now with it's yellows, reds and oranges. When the sunlight hits them, the illuminated trees seem to glow.
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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Fall Reflections

Fall Reflections, 6 x 8, SOLD

I love everthing about autumn - the cool crisp air, the changing colors and the emerging bare branches - there is a wonderful coziness about it all. This is Ladybird Lake just below the dam. The color around the lake is spectacular right now.

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sky Dazzle

Sky Dazzle, 7 x 5, SOLD
The sparkle of the sun on the clouds truly dazzles the eye. Seeing it never gets old!
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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Lake Road

Lake Road, 9 x 12
Another beautiful fall day here in Texas!!! Some dear friends and fabulous painters, Carole and Charles Sikes were so kind to invite Plein Air Austin to come out and paint their gorgeous view of Lake Travis with them today. This property has been in their family for four generations... it's a very special place. (Thanks guys, for sharing it with us!)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Autumn Glory

Autumn Glory, 12 x 9

Today was an unbelievably gorgeous day - clear, blue sky and fall color on display everywhere. I was fortunate to pull off a spontaneous painting day with my painting buddy, Julie Davis (she claims I highjacked her day, but what better excuse for playing hooky?) ;) The trees have been turning at this oft-driven-by-location for the last week or so, but you never know how long it will last. One big wind and it will all be gone... I'm happy we got down there!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Lake Travis at Sunset

Lake Travis at Sunset, 8 x 6, SOLD

Last Thursday night Plein Air Austin gathered at the home of Lynn Cohagan to paint the sunset over Lake Travis. We all had to paint fast and furiously as the sun slipped down on the horizon; and believe me, it moves really fast. It was a beautiful evening and when the light was gone we ordered up some pizza. How great is that???

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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Moving On

Moving On, 6 x 6, SOLD
Texas skies can be so dramatic. Sometimes the clouds appear to be on tracks as they race through the sky. And they move on so fast... (Happy Halloween!)
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Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Place in Between

The Place in Between, 6 x 6, SOLD

We've had some great cloudy skies that have actually ushered in some rain for our dry ground! I loved the way the light beamed between these clouds and backlit the row of trees.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Hovering, 6 x 6, SOLD

The opening reception for my show was a wonderfully fun night!! Lots of great friends came, a few pieces sold and I'm not going to lie - I had such a great time! :) If you are in Austin, the show will be up through Thanksgiving weekend! Thanks to all!

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Friday, October 23, 2009

Blue Skies (smilin' at me)

Blue Skies (smilin' at me), 6 x 8
Last Saturday I attempted to paint out with our Plein Air Austin group. It was a beautiful day and a really great location, but I was just too distracted to paint (I had a few show details hanging over my head, and probably shouldn't have even tried it!) After many starts followed by as many wipedowns, my friend Kathleen made me stop and keep the sketch that is below. Yesterday, I was finally able to catch my breath, revisit the little sketch, and paint the one that is above. Must remember to breathe... :)
My show opens tomorrow night and I am very excited! Thanks for all your good wishes and support!
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Lago Vista plein air sketch, 6 x 8

Monday, October 19, 2009

Delivery Day!!!

Rocky Outcropping, 36 x 24, (reworked - original was posted on 10/5)

Morning Harvest, 24 x 36 (reworked - orginal was posted on 10/15)

Today I delivered 20 new paintings to Davis Gallery for my upcoming show. The opening reception is Saturday, October 24, from 7-9pm here in Austin. It's always so exciting to reach this point, where the work is done and the celebration is still ahead. Bill Davis has an incredible knack for putting it all together... I love going back and seeing how it's all been hung! If you are in town this weekend, please come by!!!
PS - The two paintings above called for a little last minute "fixing" before they could go to the gallery. :)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Morning Harvest

Morning Harvest, 24 x 36

This is an enlargement of my last post - a scene from one of our local organic farms. One thing I loved about this scene was the haze in the distance fields juxtaposed to the lit foreground. I tried to push that relationship a little bit in this larger version.

Side-note: A sweet surprise came my way yesterday - I was the featured artist on Eric Cator's "PaintBlog" site! Please go there and take a look. Eric presents a different artist each day and his blog is a great place to see a variety of wonderful work. Thank you, Eric!!!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Johnson's Backyard Garden

Johnson's Backyard Garden, 9 x 12

This month one of our brilliant Plein Air Austin members, Kate Merriman, came up with the idea of painting local farms. She researched and connected with a number of small, organic farmers who were most happy to have us come visit. (Thank you, Kate!) Unfortunately, on the day we scheduled this farm, it rained. Not to be deterred, two of us actually stayed and painted from our cars. Mind you, I have a tailgate to seek shelter under, but my unwavering (equally crazy?) friend, Stephen Parker, literally used his steering wheel as an easel! Always an adventure!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

American Women Artists 2009 National Show

Poolhouse Morning, 12 x 12
I am very pleased to share that this painting was juried into the American Women Artists 2009 National Show. This year the exhibit will be hosted by the South Street Art Gallery in Easton, MD from October 10 - November 8, 2009. The opening reception is this Saturday, October 10, from 5-8pm. Unfortunately, I won't be able to be there for the festivities, but if anyone is in or near Easton, please stop by. It is a wonderful group of artists and I am honored to be among them!!
Contact gallery to purchase this piece:

Monday, October 5, 2009

Rocky Outcropping

Rocky Outcropping, 36 x 24

Rocky Outcropping (original study), 8 x 6

This jagged wall of rock provided such an interesting contrast to the soft, billowy, big-sky clouds that hovered above it. My original study was a quick response to the dropping light at the end of the day. Back in the studio, I found the re-creation of that feeling to be far more difficult. The larger piece needed more information and the silhouetted rocks just misbehaved... but there you have it. Some births are harder than others.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Ocean Dunes - Enlargement

Ocean Dunes, 18 x 18

This is my last studio piece painted from my Long Island plein air studies... for now anyway. Being there this summer pushed me in some different (and sometimes scary) ways... all you creatives out there know what I mean. Sometimes art and fear go hand in hand. And fear can be good if it's the kind that makes you take a risk and try something new.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Morning Vapors - Enlargement

Morning Vapors, 18 x 18
Here again, I worked from my small plein air study to paint a larger painting in the studio. Revisiting my field paintings takes me right back to the original moment in time - complete with sights and sounds. On this particular early and foggy morning, a very cute couple came speed walking past. When they saw what I was doing, they slowed down and asked if they could take a look. (Most people actually don't stop.) It was really satisfying to me when they agreed that the subject was worthy of painting. "And it's right here in front of our very eyes!" they said. As if, maybe, they were seeing it for the first time. I felt like I had done my job that day.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Dissolving to Mist - Enlargement

Dissolving to Mist, 18 x 18

This foggy peninsula, coming and going from sight in the mist, reminded me of the Brigadoon legend. Remember the old musical classic about the village in Scotland that would wake up for just one day every hundred years? At the end of the day, they would all disappear into the mist for another century. (The enchantment kept Brigadoon from being changed by a progressing world.) Okay, this homestead does have electricity and probably even wireless internet access... but still. We can pretend.

Painted from plein air study done on Long Island - Mecox Bay.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Silent Fog - Enlargement

Silent Fog, 18 x 18

So you thought I was done with all that fog? Nope! After doing the small color studies, I returned to my plein air pieces and painted them onto larger canvases. This revisiting process allowed me to solidify in my mind how I got there and to understand it better. I also just really fell in love with the soft subtle gradations in value and couldn't leave them alone. :)

I am a little behind in posting, so this one and the next three are from a couple weeks ago. I have a show coming up on October 24 here in Austin at the Davis Gallery, so I have been busy trying to get all of that together... well, and travelling to the workshop... must slow down...

Monday, September 21, 2009

Tree & Sky Studies

Tree & Sky Studies, 6 x 8 each
In Scott Christensen's half day workshop, we were encouraged to go out and do as many "starts" as we could. We were to focus on the elements that puzzle us: trees against sky, how the light makes some things warm and some things cool, how the values help to establish important horizontal, vertical and diagonal planes... but not worry about finished paintings.
He pointed out that we would all become much better painters if we would stop trying to make "completed, perfect paintings" while in the field. We should be out there observing, learning and experimenting. No wonder he's so good! :) These are my three studies from that morning.
I wish I could share every detail of my "Weekend with the Masters", but it would be way too much to talk about every demo I saw and panel discussion I heard. The teachers were gracious and engaging and there was a spirit of comraderie among all the participants. It was pretty fabulous in every way.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Rocks & Ridges

Distant Ridges, 6 x 8

Rocky Outcropping (workshop study), 8 x 6

I painted these two studies in a daylong workshop with Skip Whitcomb at Weekend with the Masters in CO. He did a fabulous demo for us in which he also shared bits of his outlook and philosophy. One of the participants got it right when she dubbed him a "cowboy poet".
Skip's focus was to get us to really "see" and celebrate the large abstract patterns in nature. He encouraged us to step back and observe the dramatic shapes created by light and shadow crossing the forms in the land. His sketchbook is full of expressive thumbnail drawings that simplify everything into shapes and values. The above studies were my response to his challenge. (I confess, there was a third one that didn't make the cut!) :)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Mountain Road Studies

Mountain Road Study 1, 12 x 9
using Diazonine Purple, Thalo Green and Cadmium Orange

When I last posted, I was in Colorado Springs at the Weekend with the Masters Workshop. I am home now, and finally got some pictures taken...

I had a half-day workshop with Kevin Macpherson (not enough time with such a master but oh, so instructive). He gave us an assignment to paint the landscape using only three colors - Cadmium Orange, Diazonine Purple and Thalo Green (plus white). We were to mix these colors to find the best representative hues and values for our subjects. Removing the obvious colors from our palettes forced us to "see" the relative values and to be creative with assigning color to shapes.

We were also invited to try a second one - this time using only yellow ochre, burnt sienna and black (plus white). Same idea, remove color dependence and just see everything as value tones. It was hard and really stretching!

Mountain Road Study 2, 8 x 6

using Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna and Black

A huge highlight of the week was meeting up with blogging friend, Pam Holnback and having a fabulous grand finale dinner in her home! Isn't that the greatest? I love it when the world gets smaller. Thanks again, Pam!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Foggy Treetops

Foggy Treetops, 7 x 5

This is the last of four color studies in which I took two colors, mixed them for a variety of muted neutrals, and added white for value shifts. In this piece I used red and green (yes, Christmas Red and Green.) What I enjoyed most about these little experiments was discovering many ways to say "grey day", without using the obvious black and white.

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Note from Colorado: Workshops, demos and panel discussions have been unbelievably fabulous; and each day is jam-packed. Best of all, there is a wonderful spirit of generosity and support both from instructors and other students.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Foggy Dunes

Foggy Dunes, 7 x 5, SOLD

This is my third study in finding color-based neutrals. For this piece I used combinations of indigo and yellow plus white to establish a range of foggy grays. This excercise was really helpful before embarking on some larger fog and mist paintings! Can we ever experiment enough?
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Personal side note: I am now off at a four day workshop with some incredible painters in Colorado Springs! Kevin Macpherson, Scott Christensen, Skip Whitcomb... I am pinching myself. It's like being at the most fun camp. I always loved camp. :)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Foggy Field

Foggy Field, 7 x 5
This is the second of four small "color studies" I did to experiment with muted, foggy tones. As explained in my last post, for these experiments I limited myself to two colors (plus white), and mixed them together to find interesting greyish blends. In this one, I used green and violet. (Okay technically, both of those colors were mixed first out of primaries, but I limited myself from that point on.)
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