Wednesday, October 21, 2020

The birds

Next up, the birds.


Friday, October 16, 2020

New paints!

 I've had the good fortune to win some paints at a couple of competitions. While I have been extremely pleased with my Rembrandt oil paints, some free fun colors are hard to pass up.

My newer Michael Harding hand ground paints out of London have added some nice bursts of color to my work. More recently, I received my Richeson paints. It was time to open and start using them.

For both of these companies, I chose paints in the red, yellows and blues.


For the thistle flowers I thought I'd start with the Richeson quinacridone rose. Oooh, such a rich color! Mixed with a little of the Michael Harding cadmium orange, I had a good base for the inside of the middle bottom flower. Other mixing I did included titanium white for lightening and Rembrandt ultramarine for cooling.

Rembrandt paints are still my go-to paints, but it is fun to experiment with new colors!

Wednesday, October 14, 2020




For painting the thistle, I mixed four greens, darkest to lightest. The darkest one is sap green with some ultramarine blue, paynes gray, and a little raw umber. The lightest are two greens mixed with radiant yellow and cadmium lemon yellow (to give a bright pop of color.)

I find painting the darkest color first and then moving to the next lightest allows for easy blending. And, having the darkest section in first helps create the structure of the plant.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

A special bird

 When I was about 6, my younger brother and I spent a couple of nights with our grandmother at her summer cottage. I remember shucking fresh island peas at a wooden table next to a large picture window. This window looked out to a natural yard and beyond was a large island pond (which we would row across), and further out was a barrier beach and then the Atlantic Ocean.

In the lightly mowed natural yard were several very tall (at least for a 6-year-old) thistles. As I looked out the window, a flash of color dove in to one of the thistles. Looking carefully, I could see that it was a yellow bird. What delicate and fragile bird could dive in to something so prickly? Nana answered that the bird was a goldfinch. This bird instantly became my favorite, and remains so.

Surprisingly, I have only done one painting with a goldfinch over the years, so, I am eager to work on this next piece.

Blocking in the sky


The background and thistle for this painting are from the Hudson Valley area in New York State.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Best Wildlife Award

 Ice Bear just won the Best Wildlife Award at the International Guild of Realism 15th Annual Exhibition held at the Principle Gallery in Charleston, South Carolina.

I understand it took the judges days to decide on the 13 awards for the 111 paintings. With all the competition, I am particularly excited my painting was acknowledged.

To see all the paintings in this show, click here.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

International Guild of Realism 15th Annual Exhibition

The International Guild of Realism show is now open!

Accepted in to the show is my painting Ice Bear. For a preview, click here.


 To see all the works, click here.


Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Sometimes Life Requires a 4-inch brush

Yes, sometimes life requires a 4-inch brush. Literally.

After I painted a barn quilt for our shed in the summer of 2019, I knew that I wanted one for the studio. My studio is above a 3-car garage and gives me approximately 760 square feet to work. Overlooking a ravine with a year-round creek, its cathedral ceiling and skylights are an artist's dream.

My husband and I designed it and he built it. The studio came out even better than I envisioned.

And, after 19 years, it was time for an exterior paint job and new stairs. AND, a barn quilt.

my barn quilt on the shed July 2019

For the new barn quilt, I am using the same materials. Pressure-treated plywood, 4' X 4'

The studio barn quilt is the other half of the original 4' x 8' sheet of pressure-treated plywood. To create consistency, I decided to use some of the same colors from the shed quilt for the studio quilt.

Step one: Two coats of quality exterior paint on the plywood. I like to use the building's color. Some of my design uses the building's color giving the design a more airy look. You can fill in the imperfections of the board before painting, but I like the rough look. Feels more like barn wood to me.

Step two: Layout the design. For drawing lines at an angle across a 4' section, I use a 6' level's edge as a guide.


Step three: Start in the center and paint all of one color. All the colors are premium exterior paint.

Now that the barn quilt was done, the studio had to get painted. 

Sometimes life requires a 4-inch brush and a 45' lift. My husband rented a lift so he was not moving a ladder three feet at a time.

Step four: Install the barn quilt. We used 2.5" and 1.25" exterior grade cabinet screws rated for pressure-treated products.

View from our kitchen deck


And there are times when life requires a 4-inch brush, figuratively. Times when we should be looking at the broader picture and not be mired in details which will not matter next week, or even tomorrow. When life seems to be filled with crevasses, maybe a four-inch brush can smooth our path.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020



Spooked     Original Oil     24" X 36"


Friday, September 11, 2020

Zebra painting cont'd

Back to the zebra painting.

 The reflection is complete. Now it is time to "make moonlight." This will take numerous layers of glazing. With a little bit of paint mixed with Liquin, I am starting with a more teal base for the zebra and will move into a softer blue.

Below you can see the background being glazed with a mixture of ultramarine blue and paynes gray. This is about the 4th layer.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020


There are times when the world and life seem beyond our control.

And then there is the other kind.

This past Monday, Labor Day, a strong north wind blew through Spokane, knocking down trees, power lines, and sparking fires. At one point more than 60,000 customers in the Inland Northwest had lost electricity.

We lost ours Monday at 10am. We were power-less.

Fortunately, the temperatures outside were neither scorching hot, nor really cold (though it did get down in to the 40's Monday night.) Our biggest inconvenience was that we had no water. Without electricity, our well pump cannot function. 

Our power company kept us well-informed. With power poles down all over the county and consistently high winds, they explained their linemen could not safely begin repairs. By Tuesday midday, they had assessed the damage in our area and determined we would have our power back by 6 pm Wednesday.

You start to think about your frig, your freezers, your hair you wanted to shampoo, the lights for the painting sitting on your easel. All the little things.

Then I stopped and looked at one of our faucets. When was the last time I was thankful for the water which comes out of it every time I turn the lever? Or, when was the last time I was grateful that the lights come on when I flick a little switch on the wall? Or, hot water? When was the last time I was thankful for hot water coming out of my shower head?

Or, the linemen who fix the power lines? I can't begin to imagine if I had to go and find a broken line and fix it myself.  Thanks to the good work from the power company, we had our electricity restored 23 hours earlier than they had promised. 

This short interval without electricity was good for us in several ways. We found that our existing compressor either needs repairs or replacement because we couldn't get it to work. Finding this out now is important in case we lose power for a longer duration, especially during the colder months.

We know we have an adequate supply of backup drinking water. The Coleman stove works.

But, maybe the best part for me is that, for a while, I might appreciate the power of turning a lever and having water come out of a faucet and therefore, how truly fortunate we are.


My heart goes out to those who have lost their homes this fire season. There are thousands of us thinking of you right now.

Friday, September 4, 2020

Splish, Splash

 For splashing muddy water, I started with the coolest and darkest colors first.


The brightest part of the splash is phthalocyanine blue lake with titanium white.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020


 Here I am just starting to play around with what is causing all the commotion. 

Monday, August 31, 2020



After the reflection zebra were blocked in, it was time to mix the water color.

Usually I have the color in my mind before I started mixing. Here, I didn't. I wanted a moonlit muddy water. Surprisingly, the mix came quickly. Two blues (ultramarine blue, phthalocyanine blue lake), yellow ochre, paynes gray (to tone it down,) and a little titanium white.

Friday, August 28, 2020


I wanted a feeling of moonlit muddy water so the reflections needed to be soft and a bit warm. Using larger brushes than I used for the upper zebra, the stripes have less contrast with bluer and lighter dark stripes and "dirty" blue darker light stripes.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020


As an alla prima painter, I am not used to waiting for paint to dry. I mix directly from my paint tubes and go for it. 

However, there are some pieces which require patience and a different approach. For instance, the brilliance of the pinks on the throat of a calliope hummingbird is a good example. If you paint those feathers titanium white and once dry glaze over them with brilliant rosy reds, the pink will be striking. That iridescence is almost impossible to achieve directly from the tube.

This painting is another example. I will be glazing the two foreground left zebra and am starting differently on the painting's middle zebra and the one on its right. I would like the "white" of these two zebra to have the strongest moonlit hue. Their whites are painted using just Titanium White. Once that is dry, I will glaze over the white of the zebra with a blue-green color.

I can see the finished color in my mind, but I will have to be patient to get it.


I am tempted to adjust the color of the grass but will wait until the rest of the painting is done to see what kind (or if) a color shift is needed.                       Patience.

Saturday, August 22, 2020


These colors may seem a bit bizarre at first. I am pushing the envelope so when I rein in the color it will be more dramatic than I would have started painting.

Not quite getting the hue I want in the two most foreground zebra so I have really lightened their coats in preparation for a glaze once the paint has dried. My Michael Harding Phthalocyanine Blue Lake paint will be perfect in a Liquin glaze to energize the color.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

On my easel

After a number of smaller paintings, it is time for an ambitious larger one. Of course, half or even a quarter of the way through, I will wonder what I was thinking with all these zebra! 

My first step was to think "nighttime." Here is the beginning.

Kind of dull so far, but next up........COLOR!

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

                    Water's Edge                                                           Original Oil         9" X 12"                 

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Alla prima

I really like my alla prima painting technique for rendering water. There is something about working wet-on-wet which translates well into making something look wet.
I like to mix several colors on my palette in preparation. This enables me to easily grab the color when needed. Using my flat angled brushes, I'll lay in lines of color gently blending the edges.
Once a section looks wet, I'll move to the next section.

In painting water, I like to have a large block of time. Working with the paint while it is fresh and juicy helps with seamless blending.

For the bird's reflection, I painted some muted, some bright colors and gently blended them in to the surrounding water colors. Note: I paid particular attention to how the water was interacting with the reflection so I have a variety of soft edges.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020


My favorite element to incorporate in my wildlife paintings is water. There are so many different moods one can paint and the colors run the gamut of the rainbow.
This piece is set on the eastern barrier beaches of Martha's Vineyard though it could be anywhere that Ruddy Turnstones frequent during the summer months.

I am trying something new (for me) with the treatment of the background wave. In creating a soft out-of-focus look, I hope to further draw attention to the bird.

Friday, July 31, 2020

Summer Reading

Summer Reading
20" X 16"
Original Oil

As I said at the beginning of this painting, I wanted to create a new story. This painting focuses more on what you do with beach umbrellas than just their colors and placement in sand.
I've always found reading during the summer engrossing. It is a time of year when we can grab a book and take it outside, and if one can read it on a beach with the soft sound of waves lapping the shore, perfect. 

Monday, July 27, 2020

More with umbrellas

Now that all the umbrellas' colors are in place, I feel good about my choices. The bright lime green in the foremost umbrella gives a nod to the background green umbrella. And like I was hoping, the yellow/orange umbrella brightens up the painting.

Below is the start of working with what is underneath the umbrellas.

Friday, July 24, 2020


One of the things I really like about painting beach umbrellas are their bright colors.

In this piece, which will have dominant blues and greens, I knew a fun yellow would be important. Seeing a different orangey/rose to deep red umbrella in one of my reference photos, I thought switching it to yellow and oranges would work. I placed this umbrella in the mid-distance to play off the two foreground ones and bring attention to the distant rainbow umbrella to its right.

The green umbrella to the yellow umbrella's left will tie in nicely to the foreground umbrellas. I spent some time mixing the greens because I wanted them bright but not so bright to distract from the two dominant umbrellas.

The blue/teal/stripe umbrella is definitely the most complicated beach umbrella I have painted so far.

My usual palette is a 12" X 16" disposable one. Once I had the sky, water, sand, and sand dune painted, the palette was mostly covered with mid-tone natural colors. I decided to grab one of my smaller disposable palettes, a 9" X 12 so I could build the bright umbrella colors. Surely this size would be plenty large enough for a few umbrellas. Well, take a look!

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Same subject, new story

In these times with art shows going virtual, a gallery sale for many artists is to be treasured. Well, any sale can make an artist's day.
I've painted two beach umbrella pieces for a gallery on the east coast. Last year's piece sold on opening night of my group show. This year's piece just sold 2 weeks before the opening.
Obviously, the gallery would like another beach umbrella piece ... now. For a "new" painting, I could just change a couple of scenery elements and change the color of a few umbrellas and call it "good." But, I wouldn't be telling a new story.

I'd rather run the risk of not selling than "selling out." I want all my collectors to have a unique piece and I don't want to cheat myself. How will I grow as an artist if I essentially paint the same painting?

However, there is no reason why I can't paint the same subject with a new story. I don't know if the new story will resonate with any collector, but isn't that the chance we take with any painting?

Summer Bouquet, 2019

 Stripes and Solids, 2020

I've decided to make this new piece vertical.

Fortunately, I am really enjoying using these bright colors. My palette has been greatly expanded with Michael Harding's handmade oil paints. I have been able to achieve new, more vivid colors.
Some of them may continue to translate into interesting color explorations in my wildlife pieces.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

The Song

The Song
16" X 12"
Original Oil 

The colors look a bit different from my works in progress. Today the painting is dry enough to place on my flatbed scanner which gives more accurate colors than quick photos on my cell phone.
I couldn't think of a title until the very end. Yellow-headed blackbird...... cattails..... singing bird......
The Song. 

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Painting Continued

The whole painting was lightened by adding the "white" of the cottony heads of the seed pods.

This painting was all about the bird but I learned that indigenous peoples of North America, Europe and Asia used all parts of the cattails. The shoots and other sections were cooked and eaten, the leaves used for furniture and baskets, the cottony inside for insulation and bedding, and even the pollen was collected and used as flour.

And I was just thinking the cattails made a handy perch for a bird.

Starting on the yellow-headed blackbird