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Friday, May 11, 2018


I figured out why I was so stuck on one of the paintings I started in January this year. It seems to always be the area one is attached to that is holding up progress and/or one's unwillingness to let go of said area. So even though I haven't finished this piece yet, I wanted to post it to show how attachments you need to let go of, hold you up.

Last Saturday I had dinner with a writer friend of mine. She was talking about a new essay she had written for her online newsletter. She was lamenting that she had to cut the best line out of her latest work to make the rest of the article pull together. How her attachment to that one line was keeping it from being a cohesive whole. But that maybe she could work that cut line in some not yet unwritten piece in the future. I then proceeded to tell her I had the exact same thing happen to me! Except in paint. Her first response was oh how sad! I could not ever reuse it. Which isn't exactly true. I feel that every time this happens there is always a takeaway from it.

This first image is where I had finally roughed in the sky really liking the energy of it. Unfortunately, I put it in after I had already begun painting atop the block-in of the rest of the painting. I remember being intimidated by the sky in the reference, so I was in avoidance mode. Leave it until I am ready or can't ignore it anymore.

When not done in proper order, confusion results
If I had added the sky when the rest of the painting was in the same state (below), who knows where it might have gone, right? My aim is always to keep some of that block-in brushwork but it is so rare, not sure why I keep thinking that will happen.

block in as I figure out shapes and proportions
Here is the painting with the new sky that better fits the rest of the piece. The new sky actually helps the piece overall so much it almost seems like a new painting and yet I feel I was able to keep some of the brushwork I had become so attached to. I can finally go back to the rest of it now that it doesn't feel like two separate paintings. I don't think it will take much to finish. To be continued.
Starting to pull together finally

Thursday, May 3, 2018


Welcome back Me!

A perfect swimming 'hole'
I spent two weeks on a Greek island in the Aegean Sea. The water is every bit as beautiful as you see in all the promotional photos, and more. This will not so much be a travelogue as on Icons. One thing I found out is that there are little chapels all over the island of Milos. I doubt it is unique in this quality, but I don't know. Churches too. Most of them were unlocked and you could stop in for a quick prayer any time of day.

Typical screened front. The alter is behind the doors
I have been contemplating taking an Iconography class this summer from a Greek Iconographer who is coming to do this workshop. It is an intense program, lasting 5 days I think it is, and full days. 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. And only finishing one smallish icon.

With this in mind, I was paying attention to the icons. My first impression is that so many of Jesus and especially the saints, looked so dour. The overall images could be beautiful but still not something that would inspire me. I realize showing a peaceful or holy continence is not necessarily easy. The ones I tended to gravitate towards mostly had an enigmatic smile.

Here is one that I found on a book cover of all places, but really felt an affinity towards. It is called the Blue Angel. The artist has a shop on Oia, Santorini which we did visit. He was there the two times we stopped in to see his shop and studio and he never once said a word to us!
I wish I knew more about who the saints were. This saint above I started to recognize by his robes, his white hair and beard and always holding a book. He never 'looked' the same twice but by these symbols I learned to recognize him as he was in many of the churches and chapels I stepped into.

When in Athens at the end of my trip, I went to the Byzantium and Christianity Museum hoping to see some amazing Icons. This museum took you through the history of the Orthodox Church in Greece so it was a large collection dating back to the 2nd or 3rd century AD. Icons came rather later on that timeline. I did like the cartoons that the museum had on display and these were for large icons. Here is one of Mary and baby Jesus that had color added so it is easier to see. The tracing paper had thousands of tiny holes to transfer to the panels.

One of my favorite icons in this museum is not a typical one, if it is even an icon. It shows St Peter mourning his betrayal of Christ. It may be a painting on a panel from a church. I think I assumed it was an icon so really did not read the tag. He is more life like than is typical of iconography now that I am writing about it!

I am glad I went to this museum. It was well laid out and had not only religious artifacts but also how the early Christians lived, so included household items, jewelry, clothing, etc. I did not realize that hooks and eyes were in use as early as the 9th century, for instance. It was also like a little oasis in the sea of tourists that descended onto Athens everyday I was there from the cruise ships. There were people there but not many!

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.