Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

I hope you are having a wonderful Christmas!

Our household of two has expanded to 13 for a week of Holiday Festivities (Christmas plus two birthdays thrown in, the 23rd and the 24th.) We have family from Massachusetts, Colorado, and Texas enjoying our snow-covered home.

In the past couple days, I have had a chance to get in a few hours on my polar bear piece. The rocks still need more work but I am moving on to some of the shadows with the bear. Once the darker areas are roughed in, I will paint the "white" fur and then head back to the rocks.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Early Stage

The Early Stage. In this case, the "Ugly Stage." Every artist who has a good number of paintings under his belt has been here. It can be in the middle of the painting, near the beginning or on the cusp of completion. Often I know which pieces will have an Ugly Stage. (I knew the rocks were going to be an issue.) It is then I recognize that I need to power through this section and work on the painting even when I don't feel like it.

How did I know the rocks would be a sticky point for me? Well, having a Master of Science degree in geology can have its disadvantages. These Canadian Shield rocks are intermediate banded Precambrian gneisses. They have to look like intermediate banded Precambrian gneisses. Maybe most might not know these grayish brown lumps are intermediate banded Precambrian gneisses, but I do.

At this point, the rocks are a little too blue and need to have more texture and character. (This photo of the painting does make them look a bit bluer than I have painted them.) I think my best way to accomplish the subtlety of color I envision is to do some glazing with Liquin once this stage is dry.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

A second look

Sometimes just when you think you are done with a painting something nags at you. For me it was this leopard's belly. It didn't feel right. So I phoned my artist friend Victoria Wilson-Schultz to get her take on it. She agreed. I needed to change the belly. With some prompting I also got her to say she felt the sharp yellow horizon line a bit distracting. Thank you Vikki!

Revised Prime Spot

Here is Prime Spot with the changes I felt it needed (smaller belly, darker chest, lighter left paw against the chest, slightly darker neck left side of the painting, softer horizon line and a few changes which are too hard to see at this scale). You can also see the fur detail I added after my post of Dec 6th.

Getting another artist's take on a piece or setting a painting aside for a couple days can give you a whole new perspective. It is difficult to paint something out, revise, or add elements when you have worked hard on a piece. But all that hard work is for naught if you don't listen to that inner voice whispering (or screaming) for you to make alterations.

Is this now a successful painting? Who knows. But, I think it is a better painting because of the changes.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Grand Opening!

Pacfic Flyway Gallery & Framing is having their Gallery Holiday Open House and GRAND OPENING in their new location at 409 South Dishman-Mica Rd, Spokane Valley, Washington.
I am honored to be Featured Artist for this event. Pacific Flyway is showing 24 of my originals and a number of my canvas giclee prints.

For this Grand Opening, the gallery is having special events every day Dec 7th - Dec 10th. On December 8th, I will be in the gallery painting from 4 - 7 pm. Saturday, Dec 10th is the Grand Reception from 4 - 7 pm with goodies and free art drawings! (including an original Linda Besse)

Not only does this gallery carry original art, but it is also a Mill Pond and Greenwich dealer and has the most extensive collection of framing samples anywhere in the Inland Northwest. No matter my subject matter, I can find the perfect frame with the help of owner Holly Swanson.

Drop by, have a bite, and take a look at this 26 year old Gallery in their expanded new location.
See you there!!!

Normal Hours- Tues-Wed 10- 5:30 pm
                         Thurs - Fri 10 - 7 pm
                         Sat  11-3 pm

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Prime Spot
30" X 52"
Original Oil

From the previous blog I have made some changes. I removed the straight branch from the far right middle. The shadow under the leopard's chin has been darkened. And, since this photo was taken, I have also added more defined hair around his face, paws, and back and have darkened his chest area in back of his left paw. Still, I hope you can get an idea of the finished painting.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

More leopard

I forgot to take some more in progress photos as I worked on the leopard. I was on a roll. Left to paint are his right front paw, his two back feet, his belly, and his whiskers.
To the rock I have added a few lighter spots. I may make some changes to the right background but I will wait until the leopard is finished before I revisit that area.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Rock and spots

While I have spent time fooling with the background, the painting's success really comes down to the rock and the leopard. I wanted the fig tree shadows on the rock to have some purple and blue tones. I thought they would nicely compliment the colors of the leopard. With the rock blocked in, I will move on to the cat.
For the spots, I have reattached my vertical bars so I can use my handrest. On a large piece like this, the bars can be confining when I am trying to do large spaces, like the background or the rock, but they are essential when I am working in middle of a painting surrounded by wet paint.

Monday, November 28, 2011


As I mentioned in the last blog, the right side of the painting appeared awkward to me. It was time for some editing before I continued. I knew if I didn't make some changes now, it would nag at me until I did.
First, I took out some of the greenery in the lower right and made a more prominent grassy background with a more orange-yellow color. The lower right horizontal branch appeared to be too long so I broke it. In the middle right, the angled branch swooped and I straightened it.

Hmm. Seems better, but I was not sure it was quite right.
Enter Thanksgiving. We had my good friends Selena and Matt Schopfer and artist Krystii Melaine and her husband Michael Cecil over to the house. After our feast, we headed up to the studio to take a peak at the leopard. Selena has seen many of my paintings in progress and I value her opinion. Krystii has a keen eye. The consensus was the broken branch was just not working. It drew the eye. The husbands added that it looked like the soft greenery was growing out of the leopard's tail. Not quite what I was going for!
Time for some work.
Here is the result. I may not be done with this right side, but at least it is not driving me nuts. I'll revisit it once I get a little further in the painting.

Friday, November 25, 2011


One of the challenges I have with a larger painting is seeing all of it on my easel. My custom easel is built with a vertical bar on either side. A horizontal adjustable hand rest is attached to each of the uprights. In order to see the entire painting I have to remove the vertical bars and do without my hand rest.
Once I have the background and rock roughed in, I will reattach the bars for painting the leopard and use my hand rest for details throughout the piece.

Here is the start of the background. I think I'll be playing with the right side of the painting. It appears awkward at this point and I'd like to have an easier flow to the piece.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thinking Big

This summer and early fall I had a wonderful time creating small paintings on a variety of subjects. But every now and then, it is time to go big. This leopard called for a large format. So I gessoed a 30" X 52" piece of untempered hardboard and began drawing. I haven't worked out the background yet but I know I want to go back to some of my Serengeti fig tree references.

After I finished my rough drawing, I used a light turpentine wash of raw sienna and burnt sienna over the entire piece. Once that was dry (about an hour) I added more pigment and painted the deeper wash in those areas which would be darker.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


As a wildlife artist, I look for inspiration in the natural world. Sometimes I find it continents away, sometimes out my back door.
I also am inspired by my fellow artists and eager to return to my easel after a show. The Waterfowl Festival in Maryland was no exception. The quality of the work is some of the best you will find anywhere and this year it seemed as if each artist stepped it up quite a notch.
Matthew Hillier's luminous paintings show how a master handles light. One gull painting in particular was my favorite of the entire show.
What Terry Miller can do with graphite continues to amaze me. Terry's use of negative space and depth makes it impossible for me to choose a favorite as there are so many I find mesmerizing.
From Amy Poor's joyful paintings (her turkey piece was one of my favorites) to Lyn St. Clair's leaping foxes to Mark Eberhart's striking work, they used a strong color palette to really bring their pieces to life.
There are so many more artists I could name. While it is important to spend hours in the studio creating work, I learn so much from my fellow show artists. The three main points I packed in my suitcase and brought home:
1) It's all about light. Use it, push it, play with it.
2) Depth and negative space are critical. Without them the piece can be flat and uninteresting.
3) Don't be afraid of color. It draws the eye and is just plain fun!

Inspiration is all around us.

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I had great polar bear encounters in Manitoba. My husband and I were alone when we had a spectacular experience with this large male bear north of Churchill along Hudson Bay. There are few things like being on the ground with a wild polar bear.Sea Bear
7" X 10"
Original Oil

Monday, November 7, 2011

Waterfowl Festival

It is that wonderful time of year again. The Waterfowl Festival in Easton, Maryland will begin Thursday, November 10th with a VIP reception and continue November 11th -13th open to the general public. The ticket price for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday is only $10. Not only will you see great art from around the continent (paintings, sculpture, carvings), but there are also goose and duck calling contests, dog trials, raptor demonstrations, and much more. Three days of entertainment for less than the price of a 3-D movie!
I will be in The Armory with my fellow painters. (This is the first year all of us will be in one room and we are looking forward to it.) You will be able to see 25 of my original oil paintings..... while they last!
; )

For complete details on the show, see

I hope to see you there!

Sunday, November 6, 2011


Rush Hour
12" X 30"
Original Oil

The last caribou I painted was the big bull. For him I have some slightly warmer tones and sharper lines to give him additional focus. As if with that rack he needs more attention!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Caribou on the Move

The first area I tackled after the sky was the foreground tundra. I opted to paint it with loose broad strokes rather than "noodling" detail. Hints of red pop for the fall colors along with other complimentary notes. I felt for this kind of piece that if the foreground had more definition, it would detract from the caribou. You don't know how tempted I was to go in and paint more detail but I resisted and I think the painting will be better for it.
Next I began with the far right caribou and started working my way left. The lead caribou does not have a discernable eye. I don't think with this loose treatment he needed one.

Editing is a tricky game for artists. How much do we "say" in our paintings and do we let the viewer finish the story? Will the viewer's eye see the movement, feel the story, hear the hooves sweep across the tundra? How much detail do we need in order to have the painting "read" well?

I have come to conclusion that the answer is different for each of my paintings. It depends on the story.


Monday, October 31, 2011

A bit looser

After a number of small paintings (using little brushes) I felt it was time for a bigger looser piece.

Ever since that exciting morning in Labrador when almost one thousand caribou crossed the lake and delighted eight wildlife artists, I have wanted to paint a running herd. It was the second week of October and we had been waiting for a big group for over a week and wondering if we missed the migration. Would we only see small groups? Was there no chance for the thrill of massive numbers crossing our paths? Long hikes over rugged terrain had yielded a few nice reference photos. Still, our small group longed for that one chance to experience thundering hooves and a blur of caribou.

Three of us had left camp early for a long scouting hike. We were on a ridge and Steve Oliver glanced over at the lake. There in the early morning light huge V's of caribou were crossing and heading straight for us. We had just enough time to prepare before that first group left the water, climbed the ridge and passed by us. It didn't stop there. Wave after wave of caribou followed them.

I decided to make this an elongated painting in hopes to enhance the feel of a moving herd. The piece is 12" X 30". As usual, I start with my drawing on a gessoed untempered hardboard which I then "seal" with a raw sienna + burnt sienna wash. After about 15 minutes when that light wash is dry, I add more paint to the turpentine and I wash in a value study. This gives me a feeling of the lights and darks in the painting.

Here I have started with the early morning sky.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Final Touches

Now What?
13" X 18"
Original Oil

As for my decisions from the last posting, I debated on painting grasses on the right side for what seemed the longest time. Once my husband suggested a few more on the left, I knew that was the answer (certainly helps to have a second pair of eyes around.) I did switch to a male green-winged teal and the dog's head is darker.

I guess I didn't fill you in on the story behind this piece. This young retriever had successfully brought his quarry almost all the way to shore. The duck had a different idea and had maneuvered out of the pup's soft hold. Now What? seemed the perfect title.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Fur and Texture

After I played with the duck, I started with the dog's eyes and built out the head from there. For me it is easiest to work with the darker fur first. (And I love throwing on the thicker texture of the sunlit fur at the end.) The splash of color with the collar was great fun.
There are couple of issues I see which I need to think about. The duck is important but I am thinking I should switch the duck from female to male.
The grasses on the left side indicate they are close to shore but I am wondering whether I should also have grasses on the right. This is when a computer can come in handy. I can take this photo of my painting and use the mirror function in my Paint Shop Pro to give me a new look at the painting for balance. Also, I can digitally paint in grasses on the right to see if I like the look before painting them over my water (which I like right now.)
The other issue I want to consider is the dog's head. It may need to go darker.

Stay tuned.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Brahms Requiem

This past weekend the Spokane Symphony Orchestra and the Spokane Symphony Chorale performed Brahms Requiem (in German.) I am an alto in the Spokane Symphony Chorale so it was a busy week. We had rehearsal Monday-Friday nights, Saturday morning and concerts Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.
If you would like to listen to our performance of this beautiful work by Brahms along with the Bach Cantata No. 192 (Nun dunket alle Gott) and a unique orchestral piece which begins the concert, you can listen to the broadcast of the performance on our local public radio channel, KPBX.
The broadcast begins tonight Monday October 24th at 7pm Pacific Daylight Time, (10pm Eastern Daylight Time). First is the orchestral piece, then the Bach Cantata (in German), then the Requiem.
Follow the instructions from

Friday, October 21, 2011


One of my upcoming shows is the Waterfowl Festival in Easton, Maryland November 10th -13th. As I looked around at the pieces I was bringing, I realized I didn't have a huge abundance of water paintings and I did not have a single dog painting.
Hmm. How about a dog in water to fill the gap.
For my "water" paintings, I like to work with the water wet-on-wet. I'll start by mixing all the colors I need on my palette. Next I put down my lightest values and work my way to the darkest values. 
Once all my colors are blocked in, I take my blending brush (a very soft square flat) and begin softening the edges between the colors. Sometimes I'll leave an area with thicker paint for texture.

The next step is to work with the water to make it look wet. This might mean adding different "waves", more light or dark, or introducing a new color. If you look carefully, you can see a swath of cerelean blue I added to the left of the dog's head. I felt the water needed it.

I'll keep looking at the water as I continue the rest of the painting

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


First Base
8" X 15"
Original Oil

Part way through this painting, I was again wondering why I would paint not one but two leopards on this scale. Now that I am finished it is one of my favorite paintings.
You can see I lightened and softened the "hip" shadow on the female. With only slight variations in coat color, getting the right value was critical.  There were a number of times I went back to areas to either lighten or darken them. I saved the male's tongue and whiskers for last.

Saturday, October 15, 2011


Shadows are essential in making this piece read well. With such a limited palette, they make all the difference.
At this stage, rather than work on one cat first, I decide to keep moving between the two. Much of that is because I am working on such a small surface it makes sense to keep the same color on the brush. The belly of the female is darkened, the chest of the male is filled in. The underside of the female's tail and her right back leg are darkened. The male's right leg, behind his left leg and his neck are completed.
I think the deep shadow in front of the female's right back leg might be too strong. I'll have to keep an eye on that as I continue.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Leopards continued

Once all the spots are in, I start with the orange coloring around the necks and inside the spots. Next I move to the darker shaded areas on the female and the fur on her left front and back legs giving it a cooler tone. Filling in the dark area between the male's forelegs starts to give his body some shape.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A Good Reason

There is a good reason why few small paintings of leopards are painted. It is insane! If it isn't bad enough to paint one leopard on an 8" X 15" gessoed board, I am painting two. Yup, I have officially lost my mind.
But, I do have a reason why I am tackling this. Seeing these two leopards in the Masai Mara was really special. It is very unusual to see a mating pair of leopards and I got to spend over an hour watching them interact. Why paint them so small? Good question. I have painted them in a different setting on a very large scale. I thought this would be fun and challenging.
And I am really enjoying myself. Can I capture the moment in such a small format? Guess we will find out.
My first step once I have the grasses roughed in is to start on the spots. I like to do all the spots first because it gives me a better feeling of the cats.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

From the north country

Snow goose family (still working on the title)
6.5" X 11"
Original Oil

On my trip to Manitoba, I was fortunate to be there during the snow goose migration south. Often families would stop to feed along the way. I wonder what the "kids" were thinking of Mom and Dad's  decision to fly so far. How many times did they ask, "Are we there yet?"

Friday, September 23, 2011

An Adventure

I just returned from an almost 3 week trip to Manitoba. And it was an adventure! Northern Manitoba on Hudson Bay is renowed for the congregation of polar bears in late fall. Tourists climb into tundra buggies and ride out to see these magnificent creatures as the ice forms on the Bay.
With Doug and Helen Webber, Webber's Lodges,,
I was able to do one better, be on the ground with these the largest of the ursines.

The photo above is near Seal River Lodge and thanks to Mike Reimer,
 my husband and I were able to spend 6 hours alone with biologist Ian Thorleifson in the company of two polar bears.

These two bears were fat! Contrary to the dire warnings printed about the demise of the polar bear, this species is quite adaptable. During the summer, bears live off the fat they have accumulated during a winter of seal feasting. They would usually be thin by September. But, Hudson Bay bears have learned to hunt beluga whales. And, they are very good at it. With 35,000 beluga whales in Hudson Bay during the summer months, bears have found a way to catch the whales which enjoy coming into as low as four feet of water.

Back to these two females. A whale had either washed up to shore or they had killed it and they were taking advantage of every morsel of whale. You know how you feel when you have eaten a second piece of cheesecake? Think how you would feel if you ate an extra 10 or 20 pounds of whale blubber. ("I knew I should have stopped at 45 pounds!")

The good news is that for these bears, the more weight they put on before they hit the ice, the healthier they are.
Like usual, Ian was a wealth of information since he has worked safely with polar bears for well over 20 years. You don't want to surprise them. You stay upwind of them. (not because they smell bad, but so they can smell you.) And as I practice, with all wild creatures you never invade their personal space or make them move or take any action because of your presence. We were fortunate to witness something Ian has never seen before. One of the bears got up to take a drink from a fresh water stream. Ian surmissed that the metabolizing of the huge amount of whale blubber was making the large female thirsty.

If this wasn't exciting enough, the next morning back at Dymond Lake lodge, my husband and I had an encounter with a large male polar bear. We had polar bear prints covering our tracks for several days with only fleeting glimpses of the bears. This guy was big, healthy, and beautiful. But that is another story.
Note: Polar bears are dangerous large animals. People are mauled or killed every year. Do not try this at home.

Some of the species we saw in Manitoba and on the drive up and back were: bobcat, black bear and cub, sandhill cranes, snow geese, Ross' geese, arctic fox, Canada geese, green-winged teal, cougar, beaver, polar bears, black ducks, eiders, scoters, widgeon, a variety of shore and song birds, tundra swans, and a weasel. With over 2600 reference photos, and lots of stories, you can expect to see from paintings from this trip.... soon.

In case you think I may have made the above bear nervous, here she is a few minutes later.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

By the Seashore

Ruddy Turnstone
7" X 11"
Original Oil painting


A number of years ago we took our 4WD up the spit of land at the far eastern end of Chappaquiddick on Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. The nesting birds the end of May were amazing. One particular bird which captured my attention was the Ruddy Turnstone. It is a standout with its striking plumage.

The Ruddy Turnstone feeds by turning over shells, stones, and seaweed with its strong beak. It eats mollusks, sand fleas (yeah!), and crustaceans.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Oil Painters of America

Art Appreciation
(see this painting posted step-by-step starting on the July 18th blog)

My painting Art Appreciation has been accepted into the Oil Painters of America Western Regional Juried Exhibition of Traditional Oils. More than 700 OPA Members applied and only 85 works were selected. I am honored to be part of this show.

This year the show will be held at the Lee Youngman Galleries in Calistoga, California. The show opens October 8th and concludes October 30th. For more details, see  

Monday, September 12, 2011

Political Season

The Candidate
6.5" x 10"
Original Oil

With our political climate heating up, I thought this title fit the piece.

These are nesting gentoo penguins which I saw on my trip to Antarctica. I would have to say of the four species of penguin which I saw (Magellanic, Gentoo, Adele, Chinstrap), I think the markings of the gentoo are the most striking.

Friday, September 9, 2011

A Leap, a flock, a herd

A Flamboyant of Flamingos
8" X 11.5"
Original Oil

One of the things which gives me the giggles is the group name for a number of animals. Since we were children, we learned a flock of birds, a herd of cattle, and a pack of wolves. Now I don't know who or what group came up with the more inventive names, but I love them!

Here are a sampling: a descent of woodpeckers, a pocketful of kangaroos, an ostentaion of peacocks, a trunkful of elephants, a clowder of cats, a murder of crows, and one of my very favorites, a leap of leopards. (I have also seen a spot of leopards.) It just so happens that flamingos come in flamboyants. How appropriate. And hence, the title.

Painting nature I don't have the chance to use bright pinks, reds, and oranges often. Even though there is a lot of detail in this small piece, the brilliance of the colors makes the time and small brush work fun.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

International Guild of Realism

Birds On Art
24" X 15.5"
Original Oil

I am thrilled my painting Birds On Art has been juried into the 6th Annual International Guild of Realism show. Just this last year I joined IGOR after I saw mention of their show at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Wausau Wisconsin.

This year the show will be held at the Sage Creek Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The Opening Reception is September 30th and runs through October 22nd. If you have a chance to swing by and see the show, I am sure you won't be disappointed. I am looking forward to attending the opening weekend and seeing my colleagues' work from here and countries around the world.

For more details, see

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Will You Be Mine?

The Proposal
6" X 10"
Original Oil

These Common terns on the shore of Martha's Vineyard were a joy to watch. It was early in the season and they were in the "Look at me, I am a good mate" mode. She seemed quite taken with him, so I think she will say yes.

My next several small pieces are birds. I think birds translate well to more modest sizes. Once I finish this group, I will start blogging paintings in progress. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Dry Country

Wild Burros
6" X 9.25"
Original Oil

Just outside Las Vegas, Nevada is Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. There are wild horses and wild burros which roam the Conservation Area and the surrounding hills. Since I only had a couple hours one afternoon, I didn't expect to see either. Fortunately, near there I ran across 1/2 dozen wild burros including this little guy. I thought these two would make good subjects for a little piece.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Now to the Tundra

Tundra Tapestry
8.5" X 11.5"
Original Oil

On one of the last outings during my trip to Labrador, we came across this beautiful bull caribou. It was late in the afternoon and we paused to watch him and his companions before we hiked down the steep slope to Lake Kamistastin. Our climb had been rewarded.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Northern Climes

West Fjords
Original Oil
7" x 6"

From Africa in my last piece, I move to Iceland. Many who have visited this stunning island have only seen Reykjavik or at the most taken the Circle Road. It was our out-of-the-way trip to the West Fjords which made the greatest impression on me.

At Latrabjarg, you can stand on a 1000 foot cliff edge which stretches14 km and see over 100,000 birds at a glance. There were only four of us in this remote place despite the fact you can drive there. Millions of birds nest here and it has the world's largest colony of razorbills. Fortunately, we were there on a brilliantly sunny day and the puffins were choosing their nesting areas in the grassy mounds at the cliff edge.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Starting off the Small Paintings

Walking Tall
Original Oil
6" X 8"

I thought this would be a good subject for the start of my small painting group.
While in Samburu, Kenya, I saw Reticulated Giraffe, the largest and I think most impressive of the giraffe sub-species.
(And yes, I did use some small brushes on this painting!)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Working Smaller

Good things come in little packages....we hope.

As I was thinking about my upcoming Fall shows, I realized I was shy on small paintings. Rather than do what I usually do (think about an idea, explore it, then paint it), I decided I wanted 10 ideas! Reviewing a range of possible painting ideas at the same time would enable me to choose a group to maximize my collectors' selection.

Where to begin. I knew I wanted some African, some other far flung locations, and a good number of North American subjects including water pieces. First I started with the digital photos I have taken. I use a program called iView Media Pro which enables me to view the metafiles with great speed.
(Note: I had no idea what metafiles were and why I wanted them until I started researching for a photo management program. Suffice to say they are reduced files designed for rapid viewing which do not change the original file.)

I believe I looked at slightly over 40,000 of my digital photos. Also, I fingered through the prints which I have referenced and cross-referenced. Since I knew what print references I wanted, I didn't have to look at all 22,000+ prints.

What was I looking for? An interesting subject, good lighting, an inherent story and something which would read well at a small size. Two ideas I decided to make a little bigger with the larger of the two 12" X 16".  In the end I came up with 13 ideas and drew 12 of them starting at 6" X 7".  Also, along the way I saw some images which sparked ideas for larger pieces.

I plan to work on them one at a time and will share them in upcoming blogs.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Three Artists, One Bird

Wave Action
16" X 24"
Original Oil

The middle of May I had a wonderful outing with two of my artist friends, Gary Johnson and Lee Kromschroeder. They thought it would be fun to head to Torrey Pines State National Reserve, a wild stretch of scenic coast just north of San Diego. Never having been, I didn't know what to expect. We climbed the hill and walked among the Torrey Pines, a very interesting and unfortunately now rare conifer.

From the top we watched "squadrons" of brown pelicans fly the cliff edge just above our heads. A winding path lead us down the cliffs to the beach. Within minutes, we spotted a snowy egret moving in and out of the surf zone catching small minnows and snails. The lighting was gorgeous. It wasn't long before the snowy egret had the company of another egret, a great blue heron, and a long-billed curlew. Add to that the pair of peregrine falcons and it was quite the afternoon!

Three artists and one snowy egret. How would each of us paint it? Would we see the same things? What if we each did three paintings of the bird. One no bigger than 6" X 9", another approximately 9" X 12", and the third larger, whatever size we chose. It might be interesting to show all 9 paintings together. I love to paint water so I was eager for the challenge.

Well gentlemen, here is my first painting. Where are yours???

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Summit

Art Appreciation
Original Oil
15.5" x 21.25"

This was a challenging painting. There were a number of times when I knew I was crazy to attempt it. It would have been easier to simplify the gold frames or take out a few pieces or just make the paintings less detailed. I didn't because I wanted to see if I could paint these walls.

The final painting in the upper left is Lion: A Newfoundland Dog by Sir Edwin Henry Landseer. Painted earlier than his two in the bottom left, it was completed in 1824.
This piece I saved for last thinking it is just a dog and would be easier than painting people. Why I saved it for last when it is the most important painting due to its focus and size and could doom my whole painting is beyond me. A risky move, but maybe the additional pressure really pushed me. I can't compare myself to Landseer but I hope I gave a semblance of his work so it reads like a Landseer.

The two art admirers were easier to paint yet are an essential part of what I am trying to say with the piece. I hope they provide the invitation to join them in appreciating the Masters.
For me, I am reminded of the debt each artist owes to those who created before him.

Is this my mountain top? Well, the subject matter was by far my most difficult.
One of the best things about this painting is that the next time I am deciding whether to undertake a painting challenge, I am more likely to take the plunge..... or climb!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Top Row

A glimpse of the summit just came into view now that the East Wall paintings are completed.

The upper left painting on the East wall is Le Malade Imaginaire by Charles Robert Leslie, painted in 1843.
I'd love to tell you the title of the upper right painting, but I don't know it. When I took all my reference shots in the museum, I didn't write down any title or artist and have had to discover the other ones once I returned home. So, if you know, feel free to enlighten me.

If I wan't nervous before, I am now. All of this might be for naught if I can't pull off the large painting in the upper left by Sir Edwin Henry Landseer. Generally when I near the end of a painting, I have a pretty good idea whether the painting is going to work. Not this time.
My push for the top of Everest comes next.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Finishing the Second Row

Now that I am getting to larger paintings, (ooh up to 4" X 4"), my climb is becoming more difficult. The angle on the east wall continues to complicate the paintings.

Another painting by Charles Robert Leslie is Autolycus ca.1836 which is the second row painting second from the left.
To the right of Autolycus is Beneficence by Charles West Cope painted in 1840. I kept coming back to this painting to get the right expression on her face. It is one thing to paint a pleasing face and quite another to match the delicate expression with which Cope endowed her.
Finishing up the second row is the edge of Florizel and Perdita, another painting by Charles Robert Leslie. It was painted in 1837.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

More Paintings in a painting

In case you were wondering, this painting is 15.5" X 21.25". Some of the small paintings are only 2" X 1.75" including frame!

The next paintings I completed were
The Toilette by Charles Robert Leslie, ca. 1849    (bottom right)
Dolly Varden by William Powell Frith, ca. 1842    (second row up, east wall)

In the painting, The Toilette,  also called The Necklace, Leslie depicts a woman known for her "raven black hair and arched eyebrows." He also used her for his painting Griselda.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Quote for the day

In today's paper was a quote from John Cassavetes (1929-1989), actor, screen writer, filmmaker.

"As an artist, I feel that we must try many things - but above all, we must dare to fail. You must have the courage to be bad - to be willing to risk everything to really express it all."

Back to climbing my mountain, this very tricky piece.
Leaving base camp, I start work on the individual paintings. One of the tricky things about this work is these masterpieces need to be painted at an angle.

All of the paintings are oil and painted by British artists. The works are currently hanging in Room 82 (North and East walls) of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.
The first painting in the lower left is There's No Place Like Home by Sir Edwin Henry Landseer. He painted it in 1842. Adjacent to it is another Landseer painting, A Jack in Office, painted in 1833.
Starting on the lower left of the East wall is a Sketch for 'The Derby Day' painted in 1858 by William Powell Frith.
Next from left to right:
A Sailing Match by William Mulready, ca. 1831
Dulcinea del Toboso by Charles Robert Leslie, 1839
Portia by Charles Robert Leslie, ca. 1848

Monday, July 18, 2011

A new painting

Summer is a good season for mountain climbing. Warm and longer days make the challenge more manageable. However, depending on your expertise and the difficulty of the mountain, the climb can still be daunting.

Often I use my summer paintings to tackle new ideas and inspiration. In this painting, I'm climbing Everest! It is so challenging that it is difficult to see the summit.

So strap on your crampons and grab your parka. Up we go.

It was the Victoria & Albert Museum in London which inspired this painting. I was admiring the huge array of masters when I walked into a red room. Not only did the color of the wall thrill me, but the paintings were ones I could stare at all day. I knew I had to paint this room.
It is one thing to paint interiors, but a room full of master paintings? 14 of them? Was I crazy?

I decided to tackle this in stages.
Base camp.
First, paint the wall. It is just a red wall, right? Wrong. It is red, rose, orangey, maroon. I couldn't believe how one color can be so many.

Second, painting the gold frames. One of the unique aspects of this painting is how creative I have to be to pull it off, yet not alter reality. Each of these famous paintings has a particular frame. I couldn't just put on a frame that was easier to paint. I designated a separate palette for just different shades of yellow, yellow ochre and browns. There are also some reds, oranges and blues in the frames for reflections and ornate corners.

Friday, July 15, 2011


In Her Service
14.5" X 20"
Original Oil

It has taken me a while to post the finished painting. Thank you for your patience. I wanted to wait until it was dry and I could get a good scan of it.

After the last blog post, the first thing I painted was faces. Well, sort of faces. All you can see of these guards is their nose and mouth. It was interesting creating different facial expressions without using the men's eyes.
Also, I have "blued-up" the horses. Note my very technical painting term. The horses seemed a little brownish so I applied a glaze with some blues and purples to enhance the feeling of jet black.

The title, In Her Service, came to me near the beginning of the painting. Of course I am referring to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

My trip to London was very inspirational. So, not wanting to leave England just yet in my painting journey, I will next start posting an absolutely crazy painting challenge. I saw it and knew I had to paint it! Stay tuned.