Sunday, May 6, 2018

Local Artist article

This past week I was honored by being featured in a regional magazine - "Metropolitan" which is published in Salisbury, MD! Very exciting for me - it makes me look like I sometimes really know what I am doing...

For the online version click

Now, I guess I'll have to start painting again! 

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Late afternoon sunlight

We have lots of windows in our house. It's an issue when it comes time to wash them. But, at all other times, it is wonderful to have the sunlight streaming in...especially in the late afternoon.

This was particularly true when some grandchildren visited about 15 years ago. I had my camera ready and recently rediscovered a few of the pictures. This little girl (now 16 years old) had just had a bath and was standing next to the windows. There is something about that afternoon light on a child...

I had planned to do this as a watercolor. I sketched it out on watercolor paper and did a first layer in my watercolor class. I brought it home and put in the background. Unfortunately, I did not take a picture before I put the in the dark background. It's amazing how that changed everything!

However, once the background had dried, I knew I needed to use my pastels. I would not be able to get the soft look I wanted with just watercolor. Using the watercolor underpainting as my base, I began with various pastels. Watercolor paper does not have the same 'tooth' as the sanded pastel paper I normally use. I can't build up too many layers on this paper.

I took it back to class for a critique. They thought the shadow lines were too prominent. I also knew that she was too pink and I needed to work on her hair.

Hair and skin are softened. Shadow lines are still there but no longer 'shouting' at me.

In the original photo, she was holding a phone in her hand. I wanted the focal point to be her face - even though she is looking at something, I did not want to concentrate on the phone and have you looking at it, too. So I cropped off the bottom. Now you can just imagine what she is doing...

The watercolor underpainting worked well. It gave me shapes - but the pastels made this happen!

It is now in a gold frame which makes it glow... and waiting to be hung in a show at the St Michaels Library during the month of May. Stop by and see the original!

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Bringing back a memory

For many years my parish has offered a weekly service of Holy Communion at a retirement facility in our community. I volunteer there and am scheduled to help on the fourth Thursday of each month. I look forward to this time - I love being there. There is something very special about being a part of this ministry that I treasure.

This past Thursday we were celebrating Palm Sunday (which is really today, but each Thursday we use the readings for the upcoming Sunday). Of course, we had palms to give to everyone.

Marianne, the Chaplain at Bayleigh Chase, took a palm and said, "Remember how as kids we always made crosses with the palms?" We started recalling the different kinds of crosses we all made.

Yes, I remembered making crosses! The ones I made were done with knives...they were cut in precise ways and then a crossbar was slid into the center part. Unfortunately (or fortunately) I do not carry a knife with me so I couldn't make 'my' crosses.

However, Marianne had made hers by folding the palm branches. She began making crosses, the memories came flooding back and before long ... she had all these lying on the table!

I know, it's not something I painted, but I love the image ... maybe someday, I will paint it!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Sir Arthur Chadsworth

Many years ago, that is - back in the 1970's, I was teaching preschool. The mother of one of my 3 year old students told me that their family was moving to Hawaii. That sounded exciting, except that they would be unable to take their dog with them. Apparently, household pets brought to the island would be quarantined for 6 months before they could rejoin their family. This family did not want to do that to their dog so she was looking for a new home for him.

She explained that the dog was about a year and a half old, well behaved and loved children. My children were 3 and 5 years old at the time so I thought it might be fun take the dog. We went to meet him...

His name was Sir Arthur Chadsworth. He was an Old English Sheepdog and he was enormous! We put him in the back seat to bring him home and he took up the whole seat.

As I looked through old photographs recently, I found several of Arthur - this was one of my favorites.

I began with a graphite sketch, just to get a beginning idea.

Yeah, he is a BIG dog!

I transferred the sketch to watercolor paper, did a watercolor underpainting and added some pastel.

We always wondered how he could see - and yes, his tongue really was that big.

Arthur became a special part of our family. Just seeing him sitting on the porch - his bottom on the top step and front feet on the step below - was comical and intimating. We felt very safe and comfortable with this loving friend.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Puerto Rico...After Maria

We have recently returned from five weeks in Puerto Rico. As it says on their license plates - Isla Del Encanto - it is an island of charm and enchantment. It is also an island of resilient people and plants!

The island was hit with category 5 winds last September as Hurricane Maria stuck and devastated trees, plants, houses, bridges, businesses and the electric power grid. Many months later, about a third of the island is still without power, The stories we heard were of concrete buildings shaking, windows blowing out, the frightening noise of the hurricane winds and the many hours duration.

We also heard stories of communities coming together and helping one another - of hundreds of 'helpers' from other places who arrived (and are still coming) bringing aid of various kinds.

We spoke to FEMA workers, Army Corps pf Engineers workers, and electric workers - all of them tell stories of being thanked by the people of Puerto Rico.

In past years I have posted sketches of the graceful palm trees and lovely scenery. Here are just a couple from my sketchbook for 2018.

The palm trees that withstood the storm are coming back. There are new fronds atop those tall spindly trunks. The larger trees of various kinds lost all their leaves and many of the smaller branches, but their resilience shows as clumps of new leaves appear!  The island is becoming green again...

Puerto Rico's economy depends in part on tourists. Go and see for yourself - new life and energy on this amazing island!

Monday, January 29, 2018

"Newest Member of SMAL"

WOW, where has the time gone? We are almost at the end of January and this is my first post of 2018! 

It's St Michaels Art League banner time again. Every year for the past 8 or so years members of SMAL have painted banners which will be hung along Talbot Street (that's our 'Main Street'). The theme has always been "Celebrate St Michaels."

For those of you who may not know, St Michaels is a small village on Maryland's Eastern Shore. For many years it's 'industry' revolved around the waters of the Chesapeake Bay. Crabbing, fishing, oystering - our watermen thrived here. More recently, we have become a tourist destination - shopping, good restaurants, lovely places to stay and interesting things to see and do. There are many ways to go with "Celebrate St Michaels."

However, I have stuck with the crab theme and have had some kind of crab in every banner. I began a series several years ago with "Mikey" - so named by a friend because he was from St Michaels.

Over the years, Mikey has been busy doing a lot of St Michaels activities including holding an anchor (last year), eating an ice cream cone, steering a boat, fooling the British, holding a mug of get the idea.

So, what to do this year... I decided that Mikey needed to join the St Michaels Art League. He would become a painter. I did a beginning pencil sketch and added a little color.

Little did I know how frustrating this would become! Have you ever thought about how a crab might hold a painter's palette? Is the claw on top? Does it go through a hole? How would I twist it to have Mikey holding it correctly? I did several sketches  - working the claw this way and that.

Was I making this too difficult? YES... This is supposed to be fun. I painted it several times - each time getting a little different look. Unfortunately (or maybe not) I do not have photos of all the attempts. And strangely enough, I was not careful to get a good photo of the final painting. This is the last one that I found in my file.

The original banner art work will be hanging in the St Michaels Library during the month of March and the banners will be hung along the street in mid-April. It will be interesting for me to see if this is really the final version!

Friday, December 29, 2017

Welcoming the new year

A few months ago I was talking to my youngest granddaughter, Hildry,  about the upcoming holidays and I asked her what she wanted for Christmas. Without hesitating, she answered, "I want you to paint me a pineapple!"

Why a pineapple? She just likes them...

I forgot about her request and thought maybe she would, too.  Then more recently she asked me if I had painted the pineapple yet. I knew I needed to get busy.

It is interesting to me that once someone mentions something, I see it everywhere. It is amazing how many pineapples there are on posts, wallpaper, clothing, lunchboxes, t-shirts - you get the idea. Hildry's family will be moving to a new house in the next few months...and yes, there will be pineapples in her room.

So, I got started...  I sketched it out in pencil and began to paint. Sometimes a painting just paints itself.  After a very few minutes, this is what I saw on the paper!

 I decided I'd better back away from it and take a good look. I put it on an easel across the room. Another one of my 'tricks' is to photograph a painting in progress. It helps me to really see what the painting needs. I did both these things and left it alone to dry. I didn't want to mess with wet watercolor at this point.

The next day I went back to it and tweaked it a bit. I darkened the shadow sides of each section of the fruit - giving it a rounded effect. Then I added darks to the leaves. I finished by highlighting some streaks on the leaves. That is done by wetting a brush, touching the part I want lighter and gently wiping the area with a paper towel. I also erased some of the pencil lines...not all of them. I think it's fun to see some of the original drawing.

Christmas morning, unwrapping gifts...she loved it!

As I thought more and more about pineapples, I remembered that they are a symbol of hospitality and welcome. The end of December is the perfect time to share this - let us welcome a new year. May you all have many experiences of hospitality in 2018 - of giving this gift to others and allowing others to give hospitality to you.

Happy New Year!