Thursday, December 8, 2011

Transformation of the landscape

 Joshua Tree
graphite and colored pencil

Tree Line
colored pencil

Golden Leaves

Oh, the many ways to paint a landscape. As you know I've recently gotten back to painting landscapes again. I love them, always have. In the early years of painting most of my work looks similar in technique to the way the Joshua Tree piece is done - very controlled, precise, smooth tones, careful pencil strokes. After many years of working in colored pencil and graphite I got to a point where I felt the need to loosen up a bit, and speed it up too. I just don't have the patience I did back then. I started working with colored pencil and mineral spirits, using the spirits with a brush to transform the pencil strokes into paint strokes. Then I discovered heat as a tool for making the colored pencil soft and creamy. That's what I did for the Tree Line painting in the middle. It's a fun way to work the pencils but working with a heat gun or griddle can get uncomfortable, and warm.... I live in Florida so for most of the year, adding more heat to my studio is not a good thing.

So now, as you've seen in the previous posts, I'm using acrylic - I love it. I love the juiciness, the layering, the texture, the ability to change things on a whim. I love using a contrasting color for an underpainting. I love being able to adjust and change what I'm doing. I love getting bolder with color. I just plain love the look and feel of working this way. 

Sometimes I get comments from people about my older work and how much they love it compared to the newer work. My older work was more realistic and photographic looking. That may appeal to a lot of people but for me I prefer seeing the loose brushwork, the uneven edges, the soft edges, the impressionistic feel. To me the newer work is more "me". That's the transformation. In the beginning there was learning and  precise copying of images. In the middle there was the confidence building and exploration of techniques. Now, in this phase (no, it's not the end. It won't be the end until I die - maybe it's just another part of the middle.) it's all about the vision and part of the vision is expressing my feeling about the landscape. Aren't we supposed to get more comfortable in our own skins as we get older? I think we get more comfortable on the canvas too. There's still so much to learn about painting but I think getting more comfortable makes it easier to express not only what I've learned but allows me to put more of "me" in the painting.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What time is it?

 Into the Forest
Acrylic on canvas

Light Through the Leaves
Acrylic on canvas

"Totally agree. Painting is a cumulative learning and doing experience. I've been asked the question about how long it took me to paint something and I usually reply with my age. The latest painting took me 52 years. In real time it may have taken me just a day or two but it took the years of experience in painting to be able to accomplish that in just a day or two."   

The above paragraph was my response to this blog post that I saw on Google+. How long did it take you to paint that? I've been asked that question many times. For a long time I didn't know what to say. I don't usually keep track of the time I spend at the easel on individual pieces. It's a little different than punching a time clock when you work a "regular" job. For me, painting is a calling. You might even consider it a religious experience if you're so inclined. It's kind of hard to put minutes and hours on that experience. Painting as a career is a mix of hard work, long hours, wearing many different hats, and spiritual experience. Giving such a reply as my age may seem to be rude to some people, but it's the most honest answer I can give. Creating art takes many past experiences building upon new experiences. Every painting we paint teaches us something new. If we challenge ourselves as we should then we continuously learn from what we create. These experiences then continue to inform our new creations. What appears to be a simple landscape didn't just happen with taking one or two art classes. A lot of life experience went into that canvas. A successful painting that looks simple may actually be incredibly complex and time intensive in it's building.

Hopefully, what I'm doing now will lead to better work down the road - work that takes 53, 54..... 60 or more years to paint.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Little Paintings from the Prairie

These are the 2 latest landscape paintings from this new group of works. I'm having such a good time painting these! The one above is Paynes Prairie. I did this from a photo I took while standing on the lookout tower. The one below is also from Paynes Prairie, but a different area. It's amazing to me how much variety there is in the scenery of the prairie. You can see open prairie to swamp to piney woods. It's just beautiful.

Both of these paintings, along with the landscapes from previous posts and a very large abstract too, are currently hanging at Brick City Center for the Arts in downtown Ocala. They'll be there through the rest of November so if you're in the area, stop by and check it out.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Prairie Walk
acrylic on canvas

Blue Sky
acrylic on canvas
 These are the 2 latest landscapes. Blue Sky is just off the easel this morning. I'm really getting into doing these scenes. I have a little 8x10 started and a 16x16 canvas that I prepped today. I added both of these new ones to the Etsy shop. I love being on a roll in the studio. Now if I could just figure out how to clone myself so I can send the other me to teach the classes, run the shop, mail the packages, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.......

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

From Jersey to Florida

Today was stay in the studio and paint day. I needed a day to create with no interruptions. It's been difficult lately to have a span of time to really focus so since Kelli was able to open the studio for us today I was able to stay home where it's peaceful and quiet. Well.... quiet except for the Sopranos. I've got all the seasons on DVD so Tony and Carmela keep me company when I work. 

While the tv was taking me back to my state of origin (thankfully location is the only thing I have in common with the characters on the Sopranos) I was making a landscape from FL, the state I've called home for the last 39 years. Years ago I did a series of colored pencil paintings of Paynes Prairie. I felt like revisiting those scenes in a different way so I pulled out my references and my acrylics. My first step was to texture the canvas with Super Heavy Gesso and then I toned it with orange acrylic.

 After sketching in the basic shapes with a white charcoal pencil I started blocking in color on the background trees and foreground grasses. I love, love, love, painting landscapes on hot color backgrounds.

Adding sky and more foliage. I used some of the sky color to soften the greens.

Time for tree trunks and branches.

Finishing.... warming up some of the greens in the foreground, adding highlights on the trees and punching up the yellow in the foreground where the sunlight is coming through the trees. The icing on the cake is pushing the values in the darks and lights.

Overall, I'd say it was a good productive day. I'm ready to start on the next one.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Paper Party

Say Something
Mixed media on canvas

This painting is part of a series I've been working on called Body of Work. The reason I'm posting this particular piece tonight is I just got back from Gainesville where I attended a party for the 25th Anniversary celebration of the magazine Hand Papermaking. Amy Richard was kind enough to throw this little bash and I loved it! There was fun, hands on papermaking going on outside, great food inside (black beans, yellow rice and empanadas - what's not to love!) and a fabulous presentation by Steve Miller from the University of Alabama about a handmade book project he did in collaboration with the artists in Havana Cuba.

Ok, so what does that have to do with the painting above? The section of blue to the left of the face is paper made from denim. An artist here in Ocala made this paper from jeans that my mother gave her. It was so soft and wonderful that I knew I had to use it somewhere in my work.

I'm one of those people who loves paper. I love to feel it, smell it, hold it, buy it, paint and draw on it, tear it, cut it up and glue it in collages, attach it to canvases. I want stacks and stacks of all varieties of paper at my disposal at all times so that it can satisfy whatever creative whim is smacking me upside the head at that moment. Being one of those people you'd think I would be a paper maker by now but I've never actually done it. I've always been interested in it but there's only so many hours in the day and only so much square footage in the studio. 

Kelli is the one who invited me to this shindig (she actually has made paper) and on the way home we got to reminiscing about our college days in the art programs of our respective schools. That trip down memory lane reminded us of our need to get back to the fun of art again. Back then our main responsibilities were making sure our student loans came through and making it to class on time (she was dealing with the Michigan winters and I went to the Art Institute of Ft. Lauderdale and back then it was right on the beach - she may have more paper making experience but hey.... I went to art school in my bathing suit!) When we got to our art classes we were totally absorbed in the work. We could sink into the experience fully and really be creative from the core without thinking about paying studio overhead, making the commission deadline or paying the mortgage. How long has it been since we created simply for the joy of it without worrying about whether or not there was a market for what we were creating? I've had snippets of that feeling here and there but not for any real extended period of time. Since we opened our studio last May we've been very focused on teaching and selling - nothing wrong with that and that is what's necessary to make it but sometimes we need reminders about why we do what we do. We need to get back to the joy of the process and remember to spend some time playing. Just as children learn to live through play, artists learn to paint through play. Being in another artist's studio tonight, seeing another person's process in an art form that I don't work in but I do have a desire to learn, really gets the creative juices flowing again. Even if I don't get to make paper any time soon, I still feel energized by tonight and am excited about the potential of what's waiting to happen in the studio.

Wherever you are, whatever you create, take the time to enjoy it.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Art Speaking?

 It should be added that the reductive quality of the facture notates the accessibility of the work. 
 I'm surprised that no one's mentioned yet that the iconicity of the purity of line brings within the realm of discourse the inherent overspecificity. 
As an advocate of the Big Mac Aesthetic, I feel that the disjunctive perturbation of the sexual signifier visually and conceptually activates the substructure of critical thinking.
It should be added that the subaqueous qualities of the sexy fish spatially undermines the larger carcass. 

I just couldn't resist. I had to generate some "art speak" for these mini abstracts I did this week. I was in the process of making new work to add to the Etsy shop when I came across this blog post by Eric Armusik. I love what he had to say about what he calls ABS ~

"If you haven't heard me before on the subject, I have a big problem with art speak.  I've even given it an acronym: ABS - Artist Bull Sh*tting.  I hate it, and it is rampant in our profession.  In the 19th Century and before, artists spent their time honing their technical skills.  Today artists spend their time reading theory and looking for inanimate objects to trick everyone into believing they are art."

Many times when I see some of the ridiculous paragraphs that accompany artwork I just shake my head and wonder who comes up with this crap? Sometimes it's the artist but sometimes I think it's the critics who write about the artists and their work. Of course this is seen much more often next to abstract or non-objective work. Why does it always have to have an explanation? I paint in realism and also enjoy painting mixed media abstracts. Do I feel like I have to explain my abstract work? No. Sometimes the reason behind the work is simply that I love texture. I love design. I love certain color combinations. It really is that simple. No ABS needed.

How did I come up with the ABS that I added under each of these little abstracts? By using The Instant Art Critique Phrase Generator. A friend of mine shared this gem with me and I found it quite amusing. The numbers under each painting are the numbers used to generate the CRAP - Critical Response to the Art Product. Give this a try for a good chuckle. 

Thanks Eric for sharing your insights on the ABS. The rest of us who feel the same way appreciate it.

PS: the CRAP that generated for the last little piece with the fish was complete coincidence! I was amazed when I plugged in those numbers at random it came up with a line about a fish.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


The day is here. Tonight is the official unveiling of the Horse Fever II horses. Be on the square in downtown Ocala from 6 to 8 this evening to see 5 of the horses. The rest will be at their locations by Saturday morning. Check out the interactive map to find them. When you click on the horse it takes you to their page and you can see more info about them and the artists. Now I can finally share photos of what I've been up to this summer. Here's some progress pics. I painted Sunny at the studio I share with Kelli (see her horse here). My husband Mark also did a horse for the project. I say 'did' because he did a lot more than paint it. If you're in the area I hope you can see it in person. There's so much more to it than you see in the photo.

 So.... I started with gold leaf. Everyone wondered what I was doing starting with the gold. I don't know why people thought it strange. As far as the painting process it made no difference where I started. I worked with the gold first because it was fun and I was excited to see something shiny!

 Getting into the paint I worked from the top down blocking in the bands of color. I used traditional acrylics for the first layers.
 Once I got into the final layers I started using Open Acrylic to make the blending easier. I added Open medium to the paint to give me even more blending time. I could also do some detail work by doing glazes of color and then lifting out bands with a wet brush to reveal the color underneath.

In the last 2 pics Sunny has his final clear coat and is hanging out at the warehouse waiting to go to his new location. The clear coat really makes the colors pop. I can't wait to see him outside, standing in the sun all bright and shiny. Be sure to go to the map link at the top of the post to find Sunny and all the other horses.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Yesterday, today and crooked signatures

 Pumpkin 5
acrylic and gold leaf on canvas panel

Pumpkin 6
acrylic and gold leaf on canvas panel

Yesterday was all about the pumpkins. Here's 2 of the 3 I painted. I just love doing these lush, round, plump pumpkins. I use gold leaf for the background and Golden's Open acrylic for the fruit. It gives me a little more blending time than traditional acrylics. I do a tiny bit of glazing with color over the gold to give it a little more variety.

 Dusty Pink
oil on stretched canvas

This was today's painting. I didn't have any pieces with this soft pink color in the series of oil florals I've been doing so I took care of that. The collection is growing. I'll add this one to the Etsy shop soon. It needs a little drying time first. Do you see my signature? Why can't I ever sign my name straight? What is that..... I'm an artist, I can paint. You'd think I could handle putting my name on something so it doesn't look like it's falling off the edge. Maybe that's why I was destined to paint nature and abstracts. If I had a great desire to paint architecture I'd really be in trouble.

Notice there's no signature on the pumpkins. That's because I was too hasty in shooting the photos. I forgot to sign them first and I didn't feel like re-shooting. I'm obviously having identity issues today.

Passage 32
mixed media on stretched canvas

And now for something completely different, yet continuing in the warm color scheme. This little non-representational piece is made up of layer upon layer of acrylic gels and color washes. I left the brush strokes in the gel layers for texture. I used alcohol on the acrylic layers for yes, more texture. And.... when I wrapped a piece of sea glass in wire and attached it to the canvas I was intrigued by the shadow that the wire cast upon the surface so I painted the shadow in a bright turquoise color as an accent. More fun, I just can't help myself. This one is signed on the side.......

Thursday, September 1, 2011

 Passage 18
mixed media on canvas

close up

Ok, so here's a departure from my last post. I do love painting those sweet close up florals in oil. I love finding the right composition, just the right way to crop the flower to create an interesting design. I love the blending in oil and the smooth brush stroke. I love nature.

Now here's my other love ~ texture. I love the way the cracks surprise me. I love the thick raised areas and the fine lines of the smaller crackle. I love the spatter of color. I love the contrast of smooth against rough. I love to run my hands over the surface and feel the difference. I love the way color seeps into crevices and deepens. I love the way a color will suddenly run and spread, taking on a life of it's own. I love using natural stones to accent the composition. I love layering and building a painting until I can't find anything else that I would change about it. I love talking to the painting and hearing it answer me back.

I think these painting styles may look different but they're really not that different. The mixed media abstracts are still my vision of natural forms. The shapes still remind me of raindrops splattering on the sidewalk or mud drying and making pieces of earth that look as if they could be plucked right off the canvas. I'm still living in the natural world creating paintings from an abstract perspective.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Today's projects

 Canna Lily
oil on canvas
oil on canvas

These are the two little paintings I finished today. The top one I did from a photo I took of the Canna in my yard. The second one is from a photo I took quite a while ago and I don't remember where I took it or what kind of flower it is. I was told today that it looks like Clematis. Since the picture was taken from the backside of the flower I have no idea what the center looks like or even what color it is. So apparently I'd better take better reference shots or at least take notes when I do them so years later when I use the pics for a painting I'm not clueless.

Anyway, it's still fun to play with cropping on florals and focus more on the abstract quality of the composition. I'll be adding these to the Etsy shop soon.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I painted it again?

oil on canvas
These are a couple of the pieces I've been able to finish in the last week. The flower above is the seventh one I've done in the little floral oil group. It's now available in the Etsy shop along with most of the others.

Trinity River
acrylic on canvas
I should actually call this little landscape Trinity River Again? I can't even count how many times I've painted this scene. I just don't get tired of it. I'm not usually one to paint the same thing over and over again but for some reason this particular landscape just won't leave me alone. I figure if I can't stop painting it then I'll make some students paint it too. I'm going to use this painting for the workshop project when we do our painting party at the end of Oct. I'll post the details about it on the H & H Studios blog soon so check there to keep updated.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Remember the tree?

You saw this one in an earlier post - I just had the tree blocked in. This was my focus for most of the weekend. I really felt the need to get back to work on the oil painting and something that has a lot of personal meaning for me. Once I figured out how I wanted to proceed I jumped back in. I'm not finished with the tree yet and I still might add some more stars in the area surrounding the egg and nest. When I'm done I'll shoot a better photo (one that doesn't include bands of light coming in from the blinds) Overall I'm happy with the progress.  Comments?

Friday, August 12, 2011

A kick in the ass

I read a blog post today that really resonated with me. I don't know the author personally but we're Facebook friends. He's an excellent artist, holds himself to quite a high standard and it shows in his work. His post was about just that - standards. In it he mentions Gordon Ramsay of Hell's Kitchen fame. I haven't really been a fan of Ramsay's because I just couldn't take all the yelling and screaming he was doing at the people on the show. I don't know how much of that was really him or just for ratings - maybe it's both and the producers really know what they're doing.

"Ramsay is a rare example of an individual who can bring out the passion and the very best in someone. He's like a drill sergeant, a mentor, your high school principal and you're best friend all in one. The guy is a genius. What I appreciate more than anything is his strict adherence to standards."

Ok, to be fair I haven't watched much of Ramsay's shows but if he's all that maybe I should give him a bit more time and give his show another watch. I do have to say that since I have a son in the restaurant biz and people have suggested that he try to get on to that show, the thought just makes me cringe. It's just the momma bear in me wanting to protect my cub from such treatment (although my son can certainly take care of himself).

So anyway, back to the point.... the post was about standards in art.

"Hold your art to these same standards. Gordon doesn't sugar coat it. When he sees laziness and low self-esteem in people, he kicks them square in the arse and gets them to believe in themselves. Summon your inner Gordon, dammit, and whip yourself into the person you should be! Great people are not created, they are made. Stop acting like a pathetic version of yourself."

There it is.... the line that got me - "Stop acting like a pathetic version of yourself." It's so easy to fall into that. It's so easy to fall into a pattern of our work being good enough to just pass muster. When our students do it Kelli and I fight it and try to get them to push beyond that point. When we teach we work at getting them to realize their potential. We get them to work harder. We're especially hard on the people who have the most to give. They may not always like it. Many times we hear - am I done yet? Many times the answer is no. We work at getting them to move beyond the point where they feel they can stop and get away with it. Good enough just isn't good enough.

Then I have to go to the studio and face my own work. This is where I look at what I do and wonder - am I doing all I can do? Am I taking my own advice when I walk into the studio? Can I go that extra inch or mile? What can I do to make my work better? We can all step back and take a look at what we're doing. Evaluate. See where we can improve. Take the steps to make that happen. Stop with the excuses. Own it and make it.

Sometimes we all need a kick in the ass.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

I've just added a new page to this blog - Reproductions. I'm excited about being able to offer reproductions of my work! So far I have 2 paintings listed and I will have more available soon so check out that tab at the top of the page.

Paynes Prairie Floater
A reproduction from my original watercolor and colored pencil painting. This piece was originally done for the book Creative Colored Pencil Workshop. The reproduction is on glossy paper with a 1 inch white border.
Image size: 7x10
Paper size: 9x12
Shipping is included in the price.

Friday, July 29, 2011

So many projects......

 Sharpes Ferry Bridge
oil on canvas

I'm delivering this painting to the Marion County Museum of History today. The museum is getting revamped and will be opening again soon. I'm happy to be included in the first art display.

 I included this close up so I could show you the peeling paint. Do you see to the right of the number 2 where it looks like the paint is curled completely back to show the white underneath? I actually attached 2 small pieces of canvas to the canvas so those 2 bits of paint would literally curl away from the surface. I thought it would be fun to have that little touch of added dimension on the smooth surface. Getting this painting out again makes me want to do some more realism in oil.... so many projects..... not enough hours :)

And..... here's another little sneak peak at Sunny. He's almost done! Every inch of him is now covered with paint so I'm down to the details and cleaning up edges. I hope to be finished in the next week but you still have to wait until September to see the whole thing, unless of course you want to come see him at the studio. You can do that!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

My hubcap is in there somewhere.....

 Check out the video I just added to the left - the Landfill Art Project. My hubcap is there somewhere. The photo above is of the hubcap when I got it in the mail. Down below you can see what I did with it. I painted both sides with a different abstract image. I saw the one hole at the edge of it and thought it could hang freely and be seen from both sides. Definitely a fun project!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

More projects.....

 This is just another sneak peak at the project to be unveiled in September. I'm getting into some detail stuff now and it's a lot of fun. I wish I could show you more.
 This is the beginning of an oil on canvas 48x36. It's part of the adoption series. I haven't quite worked out all the elements yet.
You can see the red coming through in places. I love toning my canvases red. For me it gives a certain glow to the finished work.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Progress Report

 Well, here's an update on a canvas from last post. Remember the crazy one with the straw glued to it and gesso over that? This is where it is now. I decided to apply copper leaf to most of the canvas.
And now there are layers and dribbles of phthalo blue and cobalt teal acrylic. I can blame this part on Eddie Izzard While I was painting (just staring at the canvas actually) I was watching his show Dress to Kill and there on the stage behind him was this gorgeous backdrop that looked like gold, copper and blue. I looked at the tv, looked at the white mess of a canvas, looked at the tv again and said AHA! So there we have it. Where does it go from here? I have no idea, I wonder who else I have on DVD.

PS: LOVE THIS PART..... Engelbert Humperdink