Monday, July 24, 2017

A miniature painting

Miniature paintings can be almost any "smallish" size. I've seen amazing work by Wes and Rachelle Siegrist as tiny as 1 inch by 1 inch. (they are world-renowned artists specializing in miniature paintings.)
Fortunately, the next two miniatures I am painting are substantially larger. Requirements for this upcoming exhibit and sale have the size set at 108 square inches or less (the equivalent of a 9" X 12".)
 It would be easiest to do a simple animal portrait and call it good. Guess what I am going to do .... yes, let's paint a full reclining leopard in the shadow of African vegetation.
The painting is 8" X 13" (104 square inches.)

Below I have the background roughed in and some base color for the foreground grass. I like to paint the spots first to give me a feeling of the cat's muscle structure. Once I paint the other colors of the fur, I will repaint the spots and blend the spots' edges into the rest of the fur.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Finished - updated July 20th

The painting is now dry and I've scanned it. Thought you might like to see the difference between the photo of the piece and the scan.
Scanned painting (before varnishing)

 Poppet and Kiera
Original Oil
14" X 31"
Detailed grass has been added since the last post. I've also dry brushed in a bit more gray/blue throughout the grass. 
Another important change is a softening of the background trees. In an earlier post I mentioned that they may be too dark. To push them more into the background so they do not compete with the dark browns in the dogs, I glazed over them using the sky color and liquin. Liquin gave me the flexibility to keep the structure of the trees and soften them to different degrees depending on how much paint was mixed with the medium.

Thanks for following. An additional note on this commission. Each of these in progress photos was sent to my client. It was a nice way to keep him involved in the creation. To one set of in progress photos he replied, "Coolest project ever!"

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Almost There

With both dogs completed, now it is time to turn my attention to the painting as a whole. Since the last post I have lightened the breast of the closest bird and enhanced the oranges on his face.
The brush by the birds now has some reds and a touch of yellows (not so much as to distract from the birds.)
Before I begin on the detail grass, I've added some more texture as a base around the dogs. My primary color is yellow ochre darkened with some paynes grey and raw umber.
I've also taken a gray-blue mixture (paynes grey, titanium white, cerulean blue, and ultramarine blue) and dry brushed it into various passages that needed a lift from all the browns.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

The Two Dogs

The position of the dog in the foreground is classic example of the German Shorthaired Pointer's bird hunting strength. The ability to find the birds and then hold is what these dogs are prized for - in addition to their affectionate companionship.

Some of my best photos of this dog were taken with this dog pointing the other way. My vision for the composition had her pointing to the left. So I reversed some of the images and then used my reference photos of her left side to change her right side coat pattern into her left. The main saddle brown spot is smaller on her right side and does not have a notch, the brown spot on her rump is a different shape, and there is more brown on her neck on her left side. If this was not a commission, these details would not matter, but a loving owner will know the difference.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

German Shorthaired Pointer

German Shorthair coats come in a variety of patterns. Fortunately for me, these two dogs' coats are distinctive and together make a perfect pairing. Artistically I wouldn't change a thing. My client had the right idea to put both of them in the same painting.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Hungarian Partridge

As the name implies, these upland game birds were imported to the United States from Hungary. In the late 19th century this bird, also called the gray partridge, was released in Washington and California. It now is found in many states and also in Canada.

The patterns on the Hungarian partridge are stunning. To realistically depict them I reached for my small brushes and the magnifying glass! In the painting each bird is between 3 and 4 inches across.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Trees and Grass

For the trees and bushes I used the background of my photo shoot for inspiration. The bushes had a reddish tint which I magnified. Once the dogs are painted I'll know if some of the tree trunks need to be lightened for balance.

In the above photo you can see I've added more texture to grassy area. This will form the framework for my grass.

 Here I have roughed in the grass. The upper area is cool with naples yellow, titanium white and blues. As I moved down the painting more yellow ochre was incorporated. Further grass details will be added after the dogs are painted.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Sporting Dog Commission

     At a show this February one of the attendees saw my painting Chukar Hunt and found that I do custom sporting dog commissions (in addition to other commissions.) It so happens that he has two German Shorthairs. In early March after the Natureworks show in Tulsa Oklahoma, I had the chance to swing by his house on my drive home and take my own reference photos in anticipation of a painting. Five hundred photos later, and time watching the dogs' movements in the field, I had what I needed.
     Once I finished other painting commitments into early June, I created a mock-up idea and 3 other examples to present to the client to see if I was on the right track. I was, and after some minor modifications, it was time to start.

     For this piece I am using a Jack Richeson Umber toned hardboard gesso panel. I found they make a 24" X 36" which was cut to 14" X 31" for this painting. After drawing on the panel, I decided to use a classical approach and do a tonal wash using turpentine and raw sienna. (For years I used this approach on a white gessoed board but this is my first time on a toned gesso board.)

Saturday, June 24, 2017

New Painting

When I return from a reference gathering trip, my thoughts are often fixated on the wildlife I saw. Before I start on an upcoming commission, this piece begged to be painted.

Dancing with Waves
Original Oil
6" X 6"

Friday, June 16, 2017

A nice treat

My trip to the barrier beaches of Martha's Vineyard these past three weeks did not disappoint.
Once again I saw Black skimmers, piping plovers, willets, black-bellied plovers, ruddy turnstones, American oystercatchers, nesting black-backed gulls with fluffy babies, common terns, least terns, roseate terns, sanderlings, and osprey. Baby seals were also on the beach - so cute!

But this year I had a special treat. I was there at the perfect time to see mating horseshoe crabs. In a remote stretch of beach it was fascinating to watch this species older than dinosaurs. The females, about 1/3 larger than the males, would move toward the shallow water and attract numerous males. Some females had at least five males in attendance and she would bury herself in the sand beneath the water. Often the only way I would know she was there was her tail protruding above the sand.

As I child I remember seeing numerous horseshoe crabs during the summer but for decades since there have been so few. It was gratifying to see dozens in 60 yards of beach.
Here is one of my photos.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017


The World is my Oyster
9" X 12"
Original Oil

Friday, May 26, 2017

The Wave

Notice the bluish teal spots in the the breaking wave. I am using the color to give a sense that the sky is reflected in the delicate bubbles.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

A new painting

As promised, I am back to a wildlife piece.
The last oystercatcher piece I did (see blog post March 20th) is slated to for the
Wildlife Treasures Show
Nature in Art Museum
Wallsworth Hall, Sandhurst, Gloucester
which runs July 25th - September 3rd, 2017.

In this rendering, I wanted to show not only a different position for the bird but also paint a different treatment for the water. Rather than blues and greens, here is a chance to play with browns and golds.

For the crest of the wave I grabbed one of my least used tubes of paint, Rembrandt Deep Gold. Not sure when mixing it with burnt sienna, yellow ochre, and naples yellow if the metallic will read, but at least while working on the piece it has a nice effect. And, something I haven't tried before.

Saturday, May 20, 2017


14" X 18"
Original Oil

This and more of my new original oil paintings will be at the Louisa Gould Gallery, Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts starting May 24th.
There will be a special artist reception with live music Sunday, May 28th from 5 - 8 pm. 
I'll be there to show you my completed work.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The warm colors

Up to this point, I have been using cooler colors for the pink & green house and the pink & blue house. The reason I wanted to paint this piece was the contrast of the warm colors of the sunlit near house with the two other houses.

I am really enjoying these yellow and oranges.

Almost there. This has taken a lot of hours, but painting that lower left orange rocking chair made it all worthwhile.

In case you are wondering where these gingerbread houses are, they are in Cottage City, Oak Bluffs on Martha's Vineyard. You can find out the history of this place with this link
and this link:

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Tiny brush work

The upper pink balcony took a lot of tiny brush work. On my palette I have three main pinks mixed, starting with a base of rose madder, and am using them throughout the piece.

Some roof detail completes the upper right section.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


One of the tricky things of this piece is the colors. I spent a bit of time figuring out how to make this green.

Don't find too many fancy teal/green balusters in nature. I mixed several shades from dark to light in this color range to give the posts depth.

Monday, May 8, 2017

A Challenge

Usually after experimenting with a technique, my next piece will use some of my more usual methods and subject matter.
Not this time. With this upcoming show at the Louisa Gould Gallery, Martha's Vineyard, MA, I wanted to really challenge myself with a very complicated scene. (for those of you who would like to see more wildlife paintings, thanks for your patience. I'll get back to them after this one.)

Here goes.
The drawing gave me an idea of just how long this piece will take.

I am starting with the shake siding. It acts as a foundation and doing it first helps unify the piece.
This painting is 14" X 18" and I am using a Jack Richeson Toned gessoed hardboard panel with an umber wash.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017


24" X 36"
Original Oil

When I completed the white of the broken wave, the foreground seemed too cool. Since the last post I added some warmth (yellow ochre, van dyke brown, titanium white, and a little paynes gray) to the sand showing through the foam. I left some of the darker green/blue color around the edges of the circles and ovals to give the white foam a feeling of height.
Some of that same warm color was brushed into the cool areas of the broken wave.

I hope you enjoyed this journey with me. Can't say I didn't struggle with this new palette but I believe the painting and I are better for it.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Breaking Wave

This is the part I have been waiting for. I love the feel of power, elegance, spontaneity, and movement in a breaking wave.

I just came back from lunch and took a hard look at the painting. The wave is too blue. Yes, it is the ocean but it needs to be warmer. The last aqua section could be throwing me off, but I am going to warm up the breaking wave.
Looking over my greens (sap green is my go-to green and I occasionally use viridian), it is time to break out my rarely touched greens. Grabbing another disposable palette sheet (my original is a mess), I squeeze out some chromium oxide green and some permanent green medium. Mixing each with some naples yellow and liquin, I begin to brush the underside of the wave. The brightest mixture, permanent green medium and naples yellow I save for the "see-through" section of the crest.

I've also added more warm green to the foam of the breaking wave, its reflection, and the flat areas.

It appears to be working. OK. I admit it. I don't believe I could have achieved these colors without the aqua tinted gesso.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Painting Water

There are so many moods to water so I do not tire painting it.
What captured my attention with this scene was the different treatments I could play with in one painting.
There is the distant blue ocean, the crest of the breaking wave, the smooth underneath of the wave, the flat surface between the breaking wave and the broken wave, the foamy broken wave, and the foam remainder from a previous wave which shows sand underneath.

Above is the start of the closest foam section.

The closest section is completed for now. Once I have the rest of the painting blocked in, I'll take a look at this again.

The aqua tinted gesso is still driving me nuts. I can't decide whether to try and work with it (which is the whole point) or ignore it and mix colors like I usually do. Maybe I'll have a better sense of the painting once I move back to the breaking wave.

Sunday, April 23, 2017


Several blog posts back, artist Peter Brown inquired about my reasoning for choosing a particular color of gesso for a piece.
This got me thinking about the color of gesso for this next painting.
What if I tinted the gesso an aqua? How would that influence my palette?

Rather than trying the idea on a small piece, figured I'd just go for it. The painting is 24" X 36".
For the tinting I used Turquoise Green and Lake Blue (a little bluer than cerulean blue) and then did a ultramarine blue - paynes gray turpentine wash over my drawing.
Here is the start.

Right now I am at the point of "what was I thinking???!!!!"
This color is throwing me completely off. Usually one sheet of my disposable palette lasts an entire painting. I am only this far and almost the entire sheet is filled with trying this blue combination, then that one.

I am not ready to concede this gesso color was a mistake. The painting will probably take longer but I may find some good surprises with my choice. When I first used the Venetian Red gesso I had no idea that it would push my palette to be more dynamic.
This experiment is going to be a challenge. Stay tuned.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Almost There

This painting is almost there. I am going to let it sit for a while. Taking a step back will give me a chance to assess the details which will give it that extra something and finish the piece.

With an upcoming gallery show on Martha's Vineyard, my next oil painting will be a departure. Stay tuned.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Wednesday, April 12, 2017


Since my last post I couldn't help playing around a little with the grasses. There is still more to do but I am ready to move on to the birds.

For me, painting pheasants is a balancing act. There needs to be enough detail so they read as pheasants, but I am not interested in doing a scientific illustration depicting each feather. Often a perfect rendering can leave birds feeling static and this is a painting designed with movement.
Once the feathers are painted, I may even soften their edges by dragging the wet tips into the background.

The red for their heads is a challenge. Cadmium red, cadmium orange, rose madder, and cadmium yellow mixtures are a start.
For the iridescence of their necks I am using several colors which rarely make it to my palette (cobalt violet, cobalt turquoise blue, chromium oxide green) along with ultramarine blue and cerulean blue  To fully accomplish the effect I may need to glaze on some brilliant color once this layer is dry.

Monday, April 10, 2017


With my background blocked in, I work alla prima on the grasses. Alla Prima is Italian for "first attempt." For painting purposes, it defines the method of applying wet paint on top of wet paint rather than waiting for each layer to dry.
I find this method gives me a sense of freedom along with the ease of blending each stroke. My brushes are wiped with a paper towel often so a fresh clean stroke of paint can be applied, avoiding a muddy look.
Not all of the grass will be done this way. Once the birds are painted, I will go back into the grasses and add finishing touches. Some parts of the grasses (the darkest areas) may already be dry.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

New Painting in progress

This next piece is not from my Florida trip but is one I have wanted to do for a while.
After drawing in my subject I start blocking in the background.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Florida reference trip

When I have the opportunity to spend time with animals in their natural habitat, I take it. There is no substitute.
I just returned from a trip to Florida and the main species I wanted to see there was the Roseate spoonbill. Knowing one of the best spots is Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island, that was my first stop. It has been 15 years since I have been to Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge and this trip certainly exceeded my expectations!
Below is one of the more than 600 reference photos I took of Roseate spoonbills. The other 1400 reference photos are of various wading birds, herons, cranes, and two baby alligators.

Monday, March 20, 2017

American Oystercatcher

American Oystercatcher
12" X 9"
Original Oil

Painting water is such fun. It has so many different moods that it is easy not to repeat oneself.

One of my favorite spots in late May is the barrier beach on the southeast shore of Martha's Vineyard. Nesting birds fill the beach. In one particular place on the inside shore, I can almost always spot oystercatchers. Each year I look forward to seeing them. 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Quick Finish

A quick finish is a painting completed within a set period of time. Usually this is in front of a crowd and then the painting is auctioned.
Next week I will be painting a quick finish at the invitation of the C.M. Russell Museum in Great Falls, Montana. This coincides with their main fund-raiser, The Russell Event. The Quick Finish is Friday morning, March 17th, and I will have a another piece, Morning Mist, auctioned at the Friday First Strike Event.

I believe I'll have about 2.5 hours to work on my piece, then put it in the frame. The quick finish auction will take place once the 20 of us have our framed paintings ready to go.
Things I need to prepare for:
the absence of my handy-dandy hand rest on my big easel since I'll be bringing a small free-standing metal easel
chatting during my 2.5 hours with all the wonderful, enthusiastic patrons who attend
unpredictable lighting
 ...and time will pass much faster than I think!

This is the piece I am bringing. It is 20" X 16". The elk's body is not completed and I haven't started on the grass. I'll also add the bull's breath in the night air. An artist can bring a piece which just needs a signature but what is the challenge in that. Wish me luck!

Morning Mist
Original Oil
37" X 23"
Friday Night First Strike Auction, C.M. Russell Museum

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

On the Road Again

It seems I just returned from my last show and am on the road again for my next one.
This upcoming show is NatureWorks at the Renaissance Tulsa Hotel and Convention Center, Tulsa, OK. It is open to the public February 25th & 26th with a VIP reception Friday evening the 24th.

Below are two of the new pieces I will be unveiling:

Reticulated     Original Oil    5" X 7"  

Tandem          Original Oil       11" X 15"

Saturday, February 11, 2017


This piece I unveiled at Safari Club International. Though many of the art patrons prefer paintings of male lions, this is a painting I really wanted to do. (My first piece to sell at the show was a male lion.)

When I think about what to paint for a show, there is consideration for the crowd. But, some pieces I do because they move me and tell a story. I spent lunch on the Serengeti with three lioness one day and they were so comfortable with us, they napped. When I can be with wildlife and observe their natural behavior, that is always a special moment.

Cat Naps
10" X 17"
Original Oil

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Anatomy of a Show

You've seen pieces I have painted in the last several months and I thought I would give you a "behind the scenes" look at my latest show.

Once the paintings are completed, varnished, and framed, the packing begins. My husband and I put together a floor plan of my booth area. The island booth is 20 feet by 20 feet and both the inside and outside walls are filled with my original oil paintings save a small interior corner for giclee canvas prints. I have a total of 135 linear feet of wall space. With this kind of space, a lot of time is saved with a floor plan which ensures I bring enough to fill the space and not too much.

Packing involves lots of lists: booth parts, lights, electrical cords, light bulbs, desks, panels, shelves, step stool, dolly, and the black box. The black box is my catch-all box: utility knife, electrical tape, scissors, description cards, pens, flyers, tape, drapery hooks, velcro, and lots of other stuff. Then there are the paintings and prints. It generally takes 5- 6 hours to pack, all carefully accounted for in layers.

The next day, Friday, we are off on a two-day drive to Las Vegas, Nevada. We have two mountain passes and fortunately the driving was good both ways. Sunday morning we are up at 5 am so we can get to the staging area with the trailer by 5:45 am to stand in line and get a number to drive into the building. (we were #8 but were the 3rd in the building at 7:30 am.) Unload approximately 1800 pounds and it is time to start.

First we lay the carpet and then erect the walls. By 3pm, we quit for the day after finishing all the electrical.

Second day.  We start around 8am and by 3 pm, all the paintings are hung with description cards. Errands include picking up more light bulbs, extra extension cords, new guest book, and another table cloth. On Tuesday, I have a lunch meeting and spend the afternoon with finishing touches.

 Final touches, husband Jim vacuuming

The show (Safari Club International) opens on Wednesday morning.

When the show finishes at 5 pm Saturday, our crew of 7 dismantles the booth and carefully packs all the paintings (including all the sold ones for shipping) in 90 minutes. Many thanks to Jim V., Jeremy, Cody, Sariah, and Kevin, and of course my husband Jim, who all made the packing a fun experience.

Sunday morning we bring our truck and trailer into the building at 6:15 am, use our carefully constructed packing list and my husband and I load the truck and trailer. We are on the road home before 8 am.

Of course once home, we unpack and I begin ordering custom boxes for all the shipments.
It was a great show and I broke all my previous records for sales.

In the next few posts, I'll show a few of the paintings I finished just before the show.

NatureWorks in Tulsa, Oklahoma is my next show. February 24th and 25th at the Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center.