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Monday, April 2, 2018

Southwest Hydrangeas

20x16, oil on canvas, available
This painting is from a time before time. It is dated 2002 so I know it has never been published or put online. Isn't that before the internet?? It has been hanging on a wall on the back porch all these years. I brought it upstairs to fill a spot where a painting sold during my last home show. Since I now see it while seated on the throne, I have had time to appreciate it more and I realized that I still like this painting so I thought I would post it and see if anyone has any bright ideas for a title other than "Blue Hydrangeas." It is local tone although this was painted before I knew that term.

I remember planting these blue hydrangeas in my garden hoping for a bush to grow but it never did. I eventually planted an Anna Belle Hydrangea which is hardy enough to survive Denver's low temperatures. I know that since then, there are now hybrids bred in blues and pinks for our climate, but they are still not as hardy as my Anna Belle.  Here is a painting I did of that bush, plein air, in 2005. I still like this painting too! This was and still is the largest painting I have ever painted plein air. I remember how fast it went together, although I did go out two days in a row to get it all in. It is light and shadow but with a very subtle shift from light to dark. I believe I was outside around noon or 1 pm with just enough shade from my house for my setup.

Lavender Hydrangeas, 24x30, oil on linen, available
My next post will be from an exotic island, if there is internet, that is.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Friends - a journey back in time

Friends - A Journey Back in Time, 20x30, oil on canvas
Friends, here is a painting I did just for me. Another one from my slides I went through that were my mothers from the 1960's when we lived in Europe. I had a bunch of them turned into digital images. This is the second one in the series I have done from her collection. My mom is on the left and her French friend, Beatrice is on the right. This old farmhouse had been in Beatrice's family for generations. I am not sure who took the image, possibly the caretaker or family member who lived there. Since I was a snot nosed brat, I never took my mother up on the invitation to go with them. We lived in Orleans, France at the time, and my mother had met Beatrice at the Franco American Women's Club. They remained friends even after we moved to Germany, up until the time Beatrice died. I visited her when in my 20's and home to visit my parents who still lived in Germany. My mom and I took a road trip to visit Orleans, her friends still there and then on to Paris!

I really picked this image not so much for my mom and her friend, as I had actually thought to leave them out. I thought the composition was well suited for a painting. I liked that it was basically local tone but with a bit of light and shadow. A very diffused light source. I kept the background diffused; I know it is 'not done' to pick out bricks and stones, but that is what I liked about this image. I wanted to highlight how it was built and survived for centuries.

Here is the link to the previous post on the progress of this painting.

Friday, March 16, 2018


Nothing to see here. It has been weeks (maybe even a month!) since I have been able to get to my easel. I am not used to having so much down time. I know that this too shall pass. I think the issue is more about settling down and being home long enough to make it worth it then lack of inspiration, though there is some of that as well. I am taking this time to be with friends and family. When someone asks me to do something I have been saying 'yes' when I used to say 'maybe' or 'no.' It has come to me that I heard the word 'no' so much in my life I got tired of it. So now I am saying 'no' to thinking I have to work all the time. There is something a bit unsettling about it, but not enough to stop what I am doing.

I have been asked quite frequently as to how I have settled into retirement, and you know, I have yet to feel like I have. Having so much time to do as I please is freeing but also a bit intimidating too. A sense of responsibility for my time whereas before my life had a structure to it. I worked 4 full days at my job, and 3 days pretty much at my easel. Now that I can 'get to my easel' any time, I don't! I was very motivated at the beginning of the year, and then I got hit with bad allergies that left me sick and tired. I am over that bout but still lack motivation.

Even though I still have a few block ins I have not yet posted, I am going to wait on those for now. So a wee break for all concerned.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Degas at Denver Art Museum

Monday I met a friend at the Denver Art Museum to see the Degas show. I had heard already from others who had already been to see it that it wasn't that great in their opinions. I went with an open mind, because often times, the artist has a different takeaway than they average person, but I did respect both of these people's opinions. One studied art history in college and the  other works as a volunteer at DAM.
Both me and the friend I went with had the same assessment, though. As artists, we felt that if this was our work, we would not want it on public display! It was like an attempt to show 'unseen' work of a master, as in scrapping the bottom of the barrel. That is not to say there weren't some good pieces by Degas in this show. But it is an extensive exhibit which meant going through a lot of chaff to get to the wheat.
Here is one that looked great from across the room. The graphic shapes and abstract quality were what drew me into it. However, it wasn't something you thought attractive up close. The woman's face on the right especially her nose and right eye were a sickly gray and even in this photo I think it shows up as a bit weird. The painting below it is one of the few in the show of his more recognizable ballerina paintings.

In the following pieces are the two of horses that were worth noting. I liked the top one for the same reasons I liked the three women above. The simple shapes and the abstract quality of the composition.

This second one is more a typical finished racing painting.
This is probably my favorite: very simple but a great composition. Nothing more needs to be said.

This exhibit is on view through May 20, 2018

Saturday, February 24, 2018

What? Finished?

Just so you know, I can post a finished painting. Here are two little gems that got lost in all the new larger pieces I have been working on. They gave me a sense of accomplishment among all their larger brethren.
This first one is from Prospect Park. I did a plein air painting there a number of years ago which was very successful. Not always does a painting work with one pass on site for me! This is only 6x8 but it was on purpose so I would keep it simple.
Tree in Winter, 6x8, oil on panel
The second one is actually an old plein air painting of which I have painted over. I felt the need to loosen up one day and finalize it once and for all!
Harvard Gulch in Winter, 6x8, oil on linen
If I feel I am tightening up when working on my larger pieces, it helps me to to play on a smaller scale to remind myself to not get too caught up in the details.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

A Journey Back in Time

Earlier I had mentioned that I was on a roll and had started all these new pieces. So here is another one of those starts from early January.

Last year about this time, I went through all the old slides my sister had pulled out of our mother's closest when she died 10 years previously. They had been in my basement all these years as I did not quite know what to do with them. Should I just toss or should I take the time to go through them all? Our mother was a traveler and I knew if I took the time to look at what was there I would find some treasures. They were still in the trays from her old slide projector and meticulously documented where they were taken and when.

So, after going through her slides, I also went through MY slide collection. I had quite a collection as well. Once I sorted through both collections, I picked 50 or so to take to Costco and turned into digital images. This is the second image from my mom's slides that I have picked to paint. This one is from France in the mid 60's. She is in the painting with her close French friend, Beatrice at Beatrice's family farm in the countryside outside Orleans, France, where we lived for 5 years. I picked this image to do for a number of reasons. One, it is my mother as I remember her as a preteen. Beatrice was a woman she met at the Franco American Club, a place for women to meet and cross the cultural divide in new friendships formed. Beatrice became part of our family and after we left France and moved to Germany, my mom often went back to visit Beatrice. I know, because I went with her once.

I was asking myself this question the other day? Is it strange to paint from old photos? Are they dated somehow? I am betting this farm house is still standing and hasn't changed all that much. I wish I knew exactly where it was located.

Here is the progression to date:
Peg and Beatrice, 20x30, block in stage
Peg and Beatrice, 20x30, oil, coming together
The slide made digital image is overly purple. I tried putting different filters over it to see what if any improved it or made it more natural looking, but none of them improved it enough for me to want to go that direction. I am enhancing the warm oranges that are already present and graying down the overall purple color. Believe it or not, that is what I have done here and it still appears purple, but I am okay with it.

Thursday, February 1, 2018


Crossroads, 36x48, oil on canvas
This painting has passed the waiting test for now. At this point in time, it is done, and I am ready to move on. A friend of mine and I were talking the other day, so what we were each working on came up. She asked me to share an image of this painting with her. She responded, "I can't wait to see it in person as I can see the layers are very rich and the that there are many layers of meaning, too."

This image is showing a bit dark overall here. And as I look at it here on the screen my old tendencies are rising within me! Even it out! It isn't balanced! AARGH! But no. It is not meant to be evenly balanced and the road is not necessarily straight, either. This was a good painting for me. I am debating whether I want to stare into the layers of thought and emotion that went into it. It is enough to say that it got me through a rough patch and I am on the road again!

I shared the block in and initial stages on this blog post from October.