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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.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Block ins!

After a dearth of inspiration, the new year has brought me back to life! It is my favorite part of the whole creative process for me and that is, The Block In phase. In the first week of January I started not one, not two, but FOUR new paintings. It is my habit to have multiple canvas's going at any one time and as it has been so long since I have felt any motivation to work, the ideas kept flowing out of me. I still have 2-3 unfinished pieces from when I left off but I needed a fresh start for the new year. They will find their place in the queue as the spirit moves me. One of them I am thinking will just have to start over a new life just as I am endeavoring to do. I have moved on and it just doesn't work for me anymore.
The first one of the new year is local. Walking Washington Park for the past three decades still brings new things to light. Our winter has been so warm, that fall extended way into December if not early January. I took numerous photos of this one particular view and many of the images clamored to be done until I settled on one that is a challenge for me. It is half graphic and half soft edges. I do not normally share the photograph, but I will this time.
What attracted me to this scene was the symmetry and the very, almost blocky shapes of the houses interspersed with the softening effect of the trees in winter.  But I can also just keep those trees very graphic as well. This stumped me initially, as to what to do, which approach did I want to follow? You will have to stay tuned to discover how the story ends. Here is a foretaste but no necessarily a clue.
Looking for the dark shapes

Working out the rhythms and patterns
In this bottom version I noticed that the cloud in the reflection is a bit too angled, so that will be rectified. A tree does go in front of it but that does not alleviate the need for adjustment. 

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Women in Paris Exhibit at The Denver Art Museum

I have been remiss in not writing this amazing show up before it closed on Monday. Everyone I know who went has only good things to say about it. Denver Art Museum has done itself proud with this exhibit. It seems we have one good show after another so I want to extend kudos to the curators of this world class exhibition. One of the reasons I really liked about Women In Paris is that there were enough well known artists and their works to feel worth it yet there were lots of new artists to most of us, that were so worth discovering!

I went twice. Both times it was well attended.  As you entered, you were met with self-portraits or portraits of many of the artists in the exhibit. One large painting that took center stage in this area was of an all woman's art class at the Atelier. The male model was discreetly covered.

Cecilia Beaux, one of my favorites; the black kitten is a stroke of genius.
a lovely detail

I loved this little scene with the warm light leaking out under the door; the archway to the right aids and abets

Sometimes a good scream is just what is called for!

A German artist whose graphic style really caught my eye
Mary Cassatt did this lovely jewel of her sister, Lydia
It wasn't all sweetness and light.

And last but not least, I loved this painting because it is so real.