Saturday, August 18, 2018

Fun with color

It was summer and so hot and humid...I really didn't feel like doing any painting. But, I knew I needed to stop staring at a blank sheet of paper. In class that morning a classmate and I just decided to start playing with color.

We did some wet on wet, dropped color, splashed paint...blowing paint around with a straw. Barbara, our teacher suggested that we try some small paintings. I don't think she was too excited about what we were up to. Camille and I were having fun and loosening up!

When I got home, I continued to 'play.' Everything looks better with a mat, so I matted some of these little experiments and found that I really liked them!

 It's fun for me to experiment with some abstract art. One problem I encountered, however, was that some of these could be viewed from different directions! So, where do I sign them?

I made up some screwy titles... and signed them in pencil. If someone wants them upside down, that's OK!

"That's the point"
"Reach out and touch someone"

"Surprise package"

"Blue and Green Sparklers"
"Drips from 4 sides"

We have our annual Labor Day Show and Sale coming up in a couple of weeks. I'll have these and more for sale. Drop by St. Luke's Church in St. Michaels on Saturday, September 1 from 10-5 and Sunday, September 2 from 12:30-5.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Vermont Birches and more

Yikes - it's mid-August did that happen? We have had a busy summer with family visits nearby and in Vermont - then back home with other grandchildren visiting... and now to catch up on everything that was not attended this blog site!

So, today is just a short post with a small painting and a few simple sketches from our trip north. When we head to Vermont, I take a small 'kit' (it's actually a 6-pack soft cooler) with a few paint brushes, a sketchbook, a 4x6 block of watercolor paper and a travel watercolor set.

I love birch trees. There is just something special about their bark, the texture and color (not just white, but a myriad of color depending upon light and where they are). This is a quick painting that I did one morning.

For the past two years we have rented a small farmhouse  - built in the 1800s. The owners of the property have worked hard to keep as much of its original charm as possible. I am taken with the uneven floors, door hardware, wood-burning stove and the wonderful rock/stone walls surrounding the property.  Just gotta put a few things in the sketchbook...

It'a a comfortable, cozy spot!

Friday, July 6, 2018

At the French door...

Several weeks ago I was visiting my daughter. At the time, the family had only two dogs. (now a third has been added - a story for another post) The dog in this post has been part of the family for ten years or so.

Uncle Wally is a Cavapoo (a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel/Poodle). He has some idiosyncrasies - he likes to lick the painted walls - but he is adorable. When they brought him home he was just a little ball of curly hair. So cute.

I am a dog person and I have wondered for years why a dog is always on the wrong side of the door. He wants to go out. You let him out. Then he wants to come back in, you let him in... and so it goes.

That afternoon my granddaughter and I were in the kitchen. We had let Wally out... Of course, he saw us in the kitchen and wanted to come back in. He looked so cute peering in the window of the French door. I grabbed my camera and my granddaughter tried to get him to pose!  Gotta paint this!

I began with a pencil sketch. Then just a little pastel.

I wasn't sure what to do with the background and how to get all that curly hair looking good so I put it aside for a few days.

The background in the photo was very busy with lawn furniture, the grill, etc. I needed to simplify and make the painting about the dog, not the backyard. I also wanted to suggest the frame around the window in the French door without making it too complicated.

The background became various shades of 'green grass,' the curly hair was softened and the French door window fell into place. A few light streaks in the glass... voila!

I may work on the window frame a little more, but I need to be careful. I tend to 'over-tweak.' The picture frame is waiting...

Sunday, June 24, 2018

"Reflections" follow-up...'I feel pretty...'

This past week, I took my painting - now titled "I feel pretty...' to the Academy Art Museum in Easton, Maryland. The following day I was notified that it has been juried into the show!

The show will run from July 21 until August 19.

Stop by and take a look - "Reflections: Natural and Imagined"

Sunday, June 17, 2018

"Reflections" - Part Two

Thank you to those of you who gave suggestions for the background of "I feel pretty..." Here's the process from where I left off until it was framed.

As a reminder, this is where I left off...

In the original photo, the background was dark. One of the suggestions was, 'Make it dark. The child will pop.'

Since I was experimenting with this, I decided to mask the mirror with black construction paper and get a sense of it.

I wasn't sure about including the mirror frame in the upper righthand corner, so I masked it also.

I think it needs the frame so your eye doesn't slide off the paper.

Then I took it to class...  everyone agreed that the figure does indeed 'pop', but there was also the feeling that the black was too severe for this young child.

I had anticipated this and had also tried several other possibilities. I did a very dark blue-green and added even more color to it with some pastels - swatch on the left. I also tried lighter watercolor mixes.

These are my swatches:

In the end, I chose a light blue-green - sort of a mix of the colors on top. I was thinking that the painting is very pink/rose and leans toward orangey/beige/brown. The basic compliments would be green and blue. I also thought it might show up more as a glass mirror.

I tweaked the face and hands some more, added some light streaks and made myself put it in a frame...knowing that I could 'tweak it to death' if I didn't get it behind glass pretty soon.

It goes to be juried later this week. Fingers crossed that it is accepted into the show.

Saturday, June 9, 2018


I usually don't post unfinished artwork, but thought I would put this out there and ask for critique.

The St Michaels Art League has a show coming up in late summer with the theme "Reflections." I went looking in my picture file for some old photos of granddaughters who had discovered the freestanding mirror in our bedroom.

The girls has decorated some old straw hats with flowers and stickers - they were very proud of their creations. They were wearing their princess nightgowns and fancy hats when they found the mirror. What a show they put on! This one was particularly fascinated. She picked up another flower which became her microphone and began singing "I feel pretty..." (Her mother used to sing that to them, so she knew the words!)

As I looked through the old photos, I couldn't find just what I wanted so I decided to try to combine three different shots. There was Leighton singing, another with part of the mirror (so you would know it was a reflection), and another of her back. I sketched these separately and then tried to put them into one.

I began with a sketch.

The hat is the wrong angle. So I began taking pictures of the hat to get the right perspective.

Here's the next sketch.

I played with that for awhile and then did a watercolor underpainting. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of that. I was too excited and wanted to get on with my pastels!

I have been working on this more and have gotten this far. 

I need to 'pink up' her face a little and tweak here and there...and then decide what to do about the background in the mirror. In the original photos, the background is very dark. I am leaning toward a very neutral lighter color - not what was in the original photos...  I have said this before, but the wonderful thing about painting from a photograph is that I can change anything I want to. As one of my painting teachers has said many times "You do what the painting needs."

I welcome suggestions! Will post a final in a few weeks...

Saturday, June 2, 2018

The wedding

Several months ago, a longtime friend of ours told us that one of her grandsons was getting married and she wanted me to do a painting for the couple. Andrew and Jen are to be married at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels and Shirley wanted to painting to show a local scene.

We talked about what should be in the painting: Andrew and Jen, the Hooper Straight Lighthouse (icon of the museum), the small boat shed (where the reception is to be held), my crabs, water, a flag, the date...the list grew longer.

I had to start somewhere...  What works well for me is to put all this in my head and 'sleep on it.' The next day I had the idea of bride and groom crabs on the lighthouse.

Here is a first sketch done on drawing paper.

We talked about this some and decided to make the lighthouse more prominent and put their names underneath.

Next sketch - again on drawing paper

The lighthouse has more detail and a light source. Crabs are too big...

Next sketch is on watercolor paper - going for the real thing.

It is going to look OK in a mat. Needs a little tweaking here and there.

The weather forecast for wedding day continues to be iffy. The mother of the groom told me that if it rains, the wedding will be under the lighthouse! I'm going tp put more clouds in the sky... and sign it.

Painting is framed.

They are now all off to the wedding - our fingers are crossed - everyone is taking an umbrella...