Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Orange Ribbon

"The Orange Ribbon" 
10 x 20 inches, oil on canvas

I love painting ribbon! It's basically a custom-made tool for creating movement in a still life - and lots of fun little shapes to paint. 

I'm in Louisiana teaching two workshops this week - still life AND portrait painting. To follow my adventures, check out my Instagram page. It's really the best way to keep track of me these days!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Green Teapot, and a chance to watch me paint it - live!

 "The Green Teapot"
10 x 10 inches, oil on canvas

As an artist, I don't often feel that I'm in a "helping" profession. Yes, the arts benefit society hugely, and I'm proud to be a part of that. And yes, when I'm teaching painting, it's incredibly rewarding to be able to pass on my experience to my students. Donating my work to charitable organizations is a different kind of difference-making. I'll never be a social worker, but I truly know how important social work is to my community. So! This Thursday, I'll be participating in a great benefit for Sheltercare, here in Eugene.

I say it's a great benefit, because it really is - it's at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art on the U of O campus, there's live music, great food, a silent auction of local art, and this year, my talented friend Heather and I will be making art, live, during the event. AND our paintings will be part of the raffle - along with our subject, this lovely green teapot.

So, today's painting was just a warmup, you could say!

Click on the image above for more info about the event - and click here to read an interview with yours truly, on the Sheltercare blog!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Swedish Ivy: A Painting and a Video

 houseplant painting swedish ivy oil on canvas
 "Swedish Ivy"
12 x 16 inches, oil on canvas

This painting began as a demo for my online students - unbelievably, my art mentorship program is almost one year old! Time flies. And time certainly flew while I was doing this demo - in over two hours, I only got as far as the image on the left. As usual, the group and I covered a wide range of topics - and I DID edit the recording down to about 90 minutes, so you just get the good stuff!

 art work in progress oil painting work-in-progress

Watch this painting come together! If you're reading this in your email, click here for the video.

Interested in studying with me in person? I've got a list of upcoming workshops in the right-hand sidebar of the blog -----> including this weekend, Intro to Oil Painting, in Eugene.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Rogue Valley Honey

 "Rogue Valley Honey"
12 x 12 inches, oil on canvas

I went South last weekend to spend a couple of days hanging out by a large, beautiful river. It rained the entire time, which kept me from even attempting to paint plein air. To be honest, that was more than OK with me, since there was a Camellia bush in full bloom right outside our front door - and this gorgeous, glowing jar of honey, calling out to be painted from the moment I spied it on the kitchen shelf. So this still life is the product of true serendipity; my artistic journey is like a never-ending scavenger hunt with so many precious treasures hidden along the path, absolutely guaranteed to be found by me if I just keep looking. It's still exciting every time I find one.


When I did eventually brave the rainy outdoors, I was rewarded with visual treasures of another sort:

Oregon is amazing! After ten years of living here, I'm still in awe.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Green Olives and Tea

 "Green Olives and Tea"
12 x 12 inches, oil on canvas

Here is my thumbnail sketch for this painting:

And here is a studio shot with my work-in-progress - the still life, my thumbnail sketch on the floor, for reference, and my easel cuddled up close to all of it, for a bird's eye view. In the background, by the window, you can see the still life setup for "The Pattern Beneath All Things," which I was painting at the same time as this one, in the afternoons, with the blinds open.  I had tape marks on the floor, and I just shifted the easel over.  

The thumbnail sketch for this piece snuck into this random shot of my studio desk as well - along with some objects from the painting - the garlic, the blue-rimmed plate. The olives are even hiding in this shot. (Hint: they're in their jar.) I think my motive for taking this picture was to document the excessive number of sketchbooks in play at once. Or maybe I just found the overall scene pleasing. I do love a good jumble of objects.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Teaching the Figure in OKC

 "Adrian in April"
14 x 18 inches, oil on canvas

I just returned from a fantastic workshop at The Conservatory for Classical Art in Oklahoma City. We were doing alla prima figure painting - three days of live models, plenty of paint mixing, and value studies. It all resulted in some gorgeous work by my students!

I'm always so impressed with the drawing skills and dedication shown by the students at the CCA, across a wide range of ages and backgrounds.  

What a great group! I'm already looking forward to my next visit, "Painting the Dynamic Still Life," in October. 


And if you're interested in painting the figure with me in Oregon, I have a workshop coming up in June. Email me for details on that!

Friday, April 14, 2017


10 x 10 inches, oil on canvas

Learning to see a complete spectrum of colors in an arrangement that at first seems to only contain yellow, blue, and white - and showing it to you! Just one tiny part of my answer to the big question: "Why paint?"

Friday, April 7, 2017

The Pattern Beneath All Things

 "The Pattern Beneath All Things"
10 x 20 inches, oil on canvas
I am amazed that I have no work-in-progress pictures of this one. It just kind of snuck out while I wasn't looking. 

So, here's a picture of a cow:


I passed this girl and her buddies every day on my post-studio decompression run. Running by the side of the highway sounds pretty dismal, but as you can see, it was anything but. And pretty peaceful - not much traffic - just me and the cows and the huge changing sky. 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Bright Breakfast

 "Bright Breakfast"
10 x 20 inches, oil on canvas

A couple of weeks into my residency at Playa, it suddenly felt like my studio was full of paintings. How did that happen? It was the elves. I came into the studio every morning excited to see what they'd been working on overnight....

....and stopped on the way to snap heartbreaking sunrise pictures like this one! 


Monday, April 3, 2017

Garlic-Stuffed Olives

"Garlic-Stuffed Olives"
8 x 8 inches, oil on canvas

I may have forgotten certain things when packing for my artist's residency last month, but the powers that be saw fit to sneak some random items into my luggage that came in very handy - like a jar of olives. Olives? Not exactly one of my go-to studio snacks, though I like them. 
 And I like them as painting subjects even more.   

Here's my setup, with some preparatory sketches. All three of these sketches became paintings. So you're actually getting a preview of my next two posts - click on the image to scrutinize at close range!

A time-lapse video of my underpainting. If you're reading this in your email, you may need to click this link to watch it:


Friday, March 31, 2017

Go Green... and Yellow!

 "A Dish of Green Olives"
10 x 10 inches, oil on canvas

Interrupting my stream of residency paintings to post a piece from one of March's Still Life Open Studio sessions. Is it a coincidence that I'm posting this very green-and-yellow painting on the eve of the big Oregon Ducks final four basketball game (green and yellow being the U of O's school colors)? 
 Yes, it is. 😉

These two daffodils took a turn as daily sketch subjects the next morning, looking fresh and rested, even after their rigorous evening modeling session. The lemons, too. Troopers!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

In Which I Make A Ruler...And a Time-Lapse Video

"Six Inches"
10 x 10 inches, oil on canvas

Although I felt like I brought about half of my possessions to Playa, I somehow left my ruler at home. And, of course, I needed it - so I made one out of a piece of paper. And it found its way into this still life somehow....
If you had been there, you'd agree - this composition was just crying out for a tiny touch of white. Which was perfectly supplied by my homemade ruler. Touch of white, title inspiration, semi-accurate measurement - what a useful life!

I made a time-lapse video of this one - about four hours of painting condensed into two minutes. I like watching that plate pattern emerge in the last 30 seconds. Painless in hindsight.... Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Two and Two....and Two!

12 x 12 inches, oil on canvas

At first, I thought this was a painting of two couples - the oranges and the pitchers, but no, there's a third pair in there: the colored papers. Ha! I even slipped that one by myself. Let's hear it for my subconscious; making artistic decisions, doing its thing.

Here's a work-in-progress:

And here's a mirror selfie that just happens to have this painting in the background - I won't lie to you and say that I snapped this pic to check my work in the mirror. I was taking a selfie to document the stunning fact that I actually took a shower and put on makeup that day. Because, you know, artist's residency. 


(Though I do actually find having a mirror in my studio helpful for checking my work - when I get that nagging feeling that something's not quite right with a painting, I look at it in a mirror. The problem will leap out at me. And bonus: I get reminded about personal hygiene.)

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Change and Experimentation

 "Two Oranges (Blue Scrap)"
8 x 8 inches, oil on canvas

The last of my 8x8 orange paintings from Playa, and the only piece I made there that I'll be auctioning online. 
It felt good to have familiar subject matter to fall back on during my first week at the residency - in an unfamiliar studio, in an unfamiliar unfamiliar landscape with schizophrenic weather, I might add! One morning, I wake up to a rainbow, the next, SNOW! These pictures were taken from the same spot - I was just reluctant to venture all the way out to the railing to take the second one. Can you blame me? (By the way, both shots were taken between 7 and 8 am.)

With nature in such a blatantly experimental mood, I felt inspired to try some new things myself. Here's a pencil sketch on Arches oil paper that I painted over - from memory. It's amazing how having the sketch underneath helped my recall of color details, even with the still life itself dismantled. 

I did spray-fix the graphite before painting on top. 

"Playa Vessels"
6 x 12 inches, graphite and oil paint on Arches oil paper
collection of the artist ;)

Friday, March 17, 2017

Three Oranges, One Video, One Self-Portrait Sketch, and Some Words

 "Three Oranges no. 3 (Pattern)"
8 x 8 inches, oil on canvas

Another orange painting from Playa - and a time-lapse video of my underpainting. You can see how I tweak the position of everything just a bit at the very beginning - the best time to make changes like that, for sure! 

(If you're an email subscriber, you may need to click on this link to watch.)


Here's another of my daily sketchbook self-portraits - this one done in oils on a ground of gray gesso. When I'm using oil paint in my sketchbook, I actually prefer to paint right on the paper. Gesso, being water-based, makes the paper buckle. Paint thinners like Gamsol don't have the same effect. And, because I get a lot of questions about whether I use a special kind of sketchbook to paint in - the answer is no - it's just your garden variety sketchbook. Pentalic - this one, I think.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Figure Painting Workshop Announcement!

 "In the Gray"
16 x 20 inches, oil on canvas

I'm taking a break from my slew of Playa residency blog posts to let you all know about a master class workshop I'll be teaching next month at the Conservatory for Classical Art in Edmond, Oklahoma.

It's called "The Alla Prima Figure." Three days of painting from live models, demos, and lots of talk about mixing gorgeous flesh tones. There are several spaces still available, so if you - or someone you know - are in the Oklahoma City area, please consider joining us! 

 This will be my fourth visit to the CCA. I love the energy there, and am really looking forward to it! 

Here I am demonstrating for a class last year:

 ...And another limited palette figure painting - done in one sitting, about three hours. Alla prima! 

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Back To Basics

 "Three Oranges no. 2 (Yellow Scrap)"
8 x 8 inches, oil on canvas

After my initial surge of residency-ambition, I had a bit of an 'OMG, what now?' moment. We all have those, right? Well, when I have mine, I usually try to go back to basics. (Sometimes, I go shopping, but at Playa... um, not an option). And the basics for me are shapes and colors - and artificial lighting - with the added bonus that I could work on paintings like this before the sun came up...

and then step outside and take a sunrise shot like this!

 Getting up so early (ugh, yes, I'm a morning person)  has many advantages, but it tends to leave me looking like this by evening self-portrait sketch time. Looking like this - or seeing like this. Tired eyes do some crazy things!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Painting by Window Light

 "Playa Tea"
12 x 16 inches, oil on canvas

As I mentioned yesterday, in the first post about my Playa residency, one of my goals was to paint with natural light on my still lives. For the past two years, I've been in a studio with very little window light - which has its advantages, but is limiting as well. Although I really enjoy composing with the dramatic shadows cast by clip-lamps, and exploring all the warm glowing colors created by halogen light bulbs, there's just something so serene about sunlight. So window light vs. artificial light is not an either-or proposition for me - I enjoy both - but having the choice? Love it! 

 Here's my setup, on a nice little ledge built above the studio heater, next to a north-facing window. I painted this one in morning light, switching to the feather painting I posted yesterday in the afternoons - an A.M. and a P.M. painting! How very impressionist of me.

Here's how this painting got started. See those gridlines on the canvas? It's a product from Masterpiece I've been trying out, and I like it! 

Of course, I was also moving onward with my daily self-portrait sketches, in the evenings when I was too tired to do much else. This one was done in a combo of water-soluble graphite and white gouache. 

 In between my morning and afternoon painting sessions, I hiked! The weather at Playa changed constantly - and rainbows were an almost-daily occurrence - though not all of them as glorious as this one. Nothing makes me feel like I'm right where I'm supposed to be than seeing something like this:

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Artist Returns!

 "The Owl Feather"
12 x 16 inches, oil on canvas

Wow! Well - I am home from an amazing sojourn at the Playa Fellowship Residency Program, in Southeastern Oregon - and how to even begin describing the experience? The shortest possible way would be to say I made as much work in four weeks there as I would have in four months at home. But luckily, we don't have to settle for the shortest possible way - I'm planning to spend the next few weeks posting my new paintings, and writing about my time there.

So, I'll begin at the beginning - packing! Playa is in a pretty remote location - 60 miles from the nearest grocery store - so in addition to my art supplies and warmest winter-weather sweaters, I had to pack a lot of food. My car was full!

 Playa isn't all that far from my home in Eugene, Oregon - a 3.5 hour drive in good weather. I had a much shorter journey than many of the other residents. Here's a photo from near Willamette Pass, crossing over the Cascades

I watched the landscape slowly change, from deep snow and tall pine trees to more open vistas of scrublands and chilly blue sky.

I arrived at my destination at last - after driving right past it. This place seriously flies under the radar. Aside from being in the middle of breathtaking nowhere, it doesn't announce itself. There's a small sign, a rustic gate made of tree branches, and group of unassuming, red-roofed cottages on the edge of a huge, shallow, half-iced-over lake. The atmosphere is down-to-earth and unpretentious - the focus is on quiet, and work- time, space, introspection. And, after unpacking my many provisions with a wheel barrow between car and studio, I attempted to settle in. 

I am a relatively quiet person, used to working alone, used to structuring my own days - but when you can do absolutely anything you want to do - where do you start? I actually showed up without a clearly defined plan of what to paint - on purpose - hoping to use natural light on my setups, paint whatever I found around the place - just see what happened. 

And, in the absence of anything happening, fall back on self-portraits. From life - not photos, as I usually do.

 I made a plan to do a self-portrait sketch every day - and I did it. Here's number one, the night I arrived. I still have that glimmer of civilization in my eyes....

 And soon, still life subjects started showing up. I found this beautiful owl feather practically on my front lawn, just out for a walk in the wind and mud.

In this studio shot, I'm just about to begin the painting; you can see my still life on the table, in afternoon light from that west-facing window:

 And so it began....