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Thursday, December 14, 2017

An Art Expedition!

I am so excited to be flying to California this week despite flying right in the heart of the Thomas fire. It is so sad that California has been hit with so many devastating fires. My sister says the Thomas fire is only 20% contained. It is unfortunately taking the path we were planning on driving so alternative plans will most likely be implemented. ie the interstate vs Hwy 101 along the coast. I so wanted to drive up along the coast, but the fire got there first. We will see where it is on Friday, our expected day to head north.

My son and I are going to see family and art exhibitions. We are flying into LAX; from there we will go directly to the Pasadena Museum of California Art to see The Colorful Spirit: E. Charlton Fortune. I am so excited to see her work. I only found out about her last Spring when I first went to the PMCA. A book in the gift shop of all things. That time there was two great exhibits Joseph Kleitsch and much to my surprise, Gustave Baumann was also there. PMCA does not have its own collection so these are one of kind, borrowed from all over, exhibitions. This time the other two shows look good too. Exciting!

We will stay in Ventura for 2 days where my sister lives. Fortunately in an area that was never evacuated. From Ventura we will rent a car and drive north. We are not sure exactly what we do along the way but our first for sure destination (based on fire...or no fire) will be Monterrey. We have only heard good things about the aquarium there.  From there we will head to San Fransisco. We only have one Museum on our schedule there but it is a big one. Gustave Klimt and Auguste Rodin! I have been to the Rodin Museum in Paris a number of times but I have not seen much Klimt in person, so that is going to be a treat. I hear it has content not suitable for children. I am thinking photos will not be allowed in that case...

Our time in SF is only 2 days, but then we will spend time with family in the area for 2 nights as well. Our last museum stop will be at the Crocker Museum in Sacramento. This will be Richard Diebenkorn's early works. From art school, through being in the Marines and early in his career.  What a fitting end to our road trip. We will fly out from SAC after that. I expect to come back inspired and ready to jump back into my painting.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Small works - a wee commission

A friend of mine from high school commissioned this little scene from the shores of Lake Michigan where she recently purchased a summer home . She bought 2 6x6 beach scenes from my website and wanted a third to round them out to hang in the cottage. The third one she liked from my website had already sold. I do believe she rents out this place when she is not using it.
She told me that this is the scene after a 1.5 mile hike through the dunes that she always welcomes.
Lake Michigan, oil on linen panel, 6x6

Friday, December 1, 2017

Red as theme

One of the local galleries here does themed shows every two months. The next show will be Red. I do not normally paint to the show but submit what I already have on hand. But I needed something to get me going so I decided to paint with red in mind. Here is the first little painting I did.

One Red Rose, 10x8, oil
 It was painted over an existing painting dated 2004. I can't even remember what it was now and I just painted this last weekend. No title on the back. I do enjoy painting over old paintings and letting the original layer come through. One of my neighbors had brought over a beautiful bouquet of flowers and a bottle of wine for me on Thanksgiving. I am their Local Grandmother replacement and I babysit when they need help and I am available as they have no family in town and have two little ones. I am happy to help. Fortunately for me, there were red roses included in the bouquet so I had a ready target. I do not normally paint roses, but what the heck? I used my trusty Japanese gold screen as a backdrop, and a new brass vase I recently added to my collection, and voila! Something fun to get me painting.
So, in addition to that little gem, I had set up these three stemmed clems, thinking of doing one still life with all the elements. But instead, I divided them into 2 separate paintings. In this 2nd painting, I did not include the base of the brass vase with the clementines reflected in the base of the vase, which I had intended to do. I decided it wasn't needed and would only confuse. I used some red rice paper as the surface to set the whole still life on.
Red Clems, 6x9, oil over old painting
This one, too, was painted over an existing painting from 10 years ago. A plein air painting I did on a rafting trip on the Yampa River. It was the only surface I could find that was the right size I wanted to use and the painting was expendable. I really don't paint this small anymore so I don't keep clean panels handy. Yet, after so long not being at my easel, small is what I needed to get myself going. Simple shapes and small.

Friday, November 24, 2017

To have Thanksgiving or Drat! My Dog Ate the Painting I just bought!

There are many things to be thankful for. This year it is that I have never heard of "the dog ate my painting" until now. That isn't quite the correct assessment, but the dog did chew this painting. A friend of mine's husband came to my art open house a few weeks ago and found a little plein air I did one spring day at Rocky Mountain National Park about 10 years ago. I had carpooled with an artist friend as we delivered art to a gallery in Estes Park. Why waste a trip to Estes Park when you can paint in the park?? What does it matter that it is frigid cold and snow is fast approaching? This particular friend never lets such trifles stop her. So we hauled our gear out into a field and went to work. So that is the back story on the painting...
Now here is the story of the dog chewing this painting. It has to be shared just because it is a unique story. So, my friend was having an acupuncture appointment in her home, when the acupuncturist remarked that it looked like her dog had gotten into something and was chewing on it; maybe a piece of paper? except it didn't sound like a piece of a paper. She replied nonchalantly would he mind checking on the dog to see what it was? He remarked "it is a painting, I think" She jumped up off the table, needled like a porcupine to find that indeed it was a painting, the one her husband loves so much. She is so upset about this that she took it back to the frame shop where we had been the day before to see if they could fix it. She didn't even want to tell me! Of course they can, but to pay to remove the canvas remount it and repaint was not worth the cost of paying for that conservation. So I told her I would repaint it.
The back, so you can see the damage
The front
I don't know. I think it is a fun story. In fact, yesterday I had the thought to see what I could do to make the original painting work without the conservation costs as the dog chewing the painting adds to the story in such a unique way. I own a book press, so I soaked the board, which is a soft particle board of some kind, and put it in the book press last night. It made a difference to the 3D teeth marks on top. The surface is now flat which softens the puncture holes. This morning when I took it out of the press, I noticed that some of the fiber board was above the line, so to speak, or sticking up above the straightness of the canvas. I just rewet it and pushed the fibers down to be aligned with the canvas edge and stuck it back in the press. I am thinking this painting should be framed as is. But I think it might also be possible to rebuild the corners and match the sky if required.
My new painting is almost done as well, so there will be a choice.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

more Art hanging in their new homes

Morning Glory, 36x36
One of my first large paintings has found a new home, and doesn't it look wonderful lit up at night. It's new owner hung it right away and could not wait to share it with my son who happened to be walking my dog by her house at the time. The dog was a bit discombobulated by all the people invading his space and needed a wee bit of distraction. She is one happy neighbor. Since this is the view driving west on our shared street, she even knows who owns which car in the painting! Now that is a true painting bought for the person's relationship to the scene! I just love this photo, too.

This second painting, also 36x36, also went to a very good home. My friend, Victoria, whom I used to work with and we shared a wall at the office, was one of my best helpers. I would bring in my paintings as I worked on them, struggled with them or just needed to see a piece in a different light. We would stand together and critique, or compliment as the case may be. Often other co-workers would join us as if we were in a gallery or art show. Quite fun, really, and I do miss this interaction. And Victoria remembers my struggles with this painting. How many times I changed the color of the over arching shadow vs the pavement in the sun. She also hung the painting up as soon as they got it home and her comment was, how it makes the room seem larger as you walk right into the scene.

Oh, how I love my friends and collectors!
Cherry Blossom Promenade, 36x36

Thursday, November 9, 2017

After Effects - art open house

 My art open house last weekend was quite the success. There were a few glitches I would need to address if I were going to do two days again. The Evite did not work so well for that I found out. Still, both days were busy and I think that the two days took pressure off the one evening concept. Last year there was a crush for almost 2 hours and that made it hard to see everyone and the art. Yet, I sold about the same amount of work. I am still recuperating, but feeling my self more each day.
I had asked people whom I knew bought paintings to send me a photo once they had found a spot for them in their home. I did not get a great response to that request but I had a few. This painting, called "Back Alley" was the surprise hit of the evening. Every year brings surprises in that arena. This year, it was my alley series, and this painting in particular. Who knew? I have hardly sold any alley paintings relative to my body of work so I gave up on them years ago and moved on. One of my artist friends said he still believes my alleys are my best work. Hmmm. Something to ponder.
Two alley paintings sold this year as compared to none last year, both to neighbors. Fitting since most all of them are in this neighborhood.
Back Alley in the larger context, 20x30, oil on linen
The painting below warms my heart. Yes, it is a bit small for the space where it is hung, but it was this person's first ever invitation to an art open house and her first ever purchase of an original work of art. I had a number of those this year. What a great feeling that is for me. This painting "til the Cows Come Home" reminded her of home, which is Wyoming. And this painting is of Wyoming. Art is relative...

Here is the house lit up in all its glory. Courtesy of my friend, Jeannie.
As I get more images of work hanging in homes, I will share. Thanks to all who came!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Finishing up - Art Open House

The 'Galley Gallery'
The last of the work to hang the show at my upcoming Art Open House happening today, this Friday evening and Saturday afternoon. It is not as easy as I remember it, hanging art on blank walls. Last Spring we finally took down the old wallpaper in this hallway and painted the walls. For a change, I liked the feel of it devoid of paintings so I left the walls blank until the other day. Now, I am down to my last two or three decisions and final clearing up.

If you are reading this and have not received an invitation, I am so sorry. I did not review my existing email list on evite. Just have had too much on my mind and I have been a bit scattered. Please know you are welcome to come.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Loving Vincent - the movie

I went to see the full feature length animated painted movie of Loving Vincent yesterday afternoon. I was not sure what to expect when I saw it was listed as a murder mystery, but actually the film correlated with what I know about Vincent Van Gogh. The latest information surrounding his untimely death and the facts not lending themselves to suicide. I read many books on Vincent in my younger days, including reading all his letters available to his brother Theo. I was very happy to learn of the buried and closed information coming to light in the past few years verifying what I had already come to believe. That he did not kill himself.

But on to the movie. I have an artist friend who lives here in Colorado and she applied for and was taken on as one of the 100 artists from around the world to work on this labor of love. Since I had talked to her about this project, I knew how much work went into it and how all the paintings were accomplished. What is not common knowledge is how each and every artist had to give up their own style and try to meld with Vincent's style. It becomes obvious in certain parts of the film the different 'hands' working on the scenes, but probably because I was looking for it. Some accomplished this transition better than others. And then again, after days and weeks and months as painting as someone else, one must go back to one's own easel and their own style. It is not easy. So I admire all those artists from around the world who gave much to be a part of this effort.

I did enjoy the film and the story. I recommend it for many reasons. It is the first of its kind and due to what it took to do may not be done again. The imagination that went into animating paintings of a single scene was incredible and believable. The movie brought out the love and attention to detail of Vincent and his work.

Do go and see it if you have the chance. Loving Vincent We need to support films of such quality and vision.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Crossroads - in process

Crossroads, 36x48, oil on canvas
I am still working on this painting, the largest to date that I have attempted. This year has been one of great transition and I feel like I have been at the crossroads for quite some time now. Once I pick a direction another crossroads is before me. My 'plan' for this piece is to keep it very abstract. It was also to be another attempt for me to allow the under-painting show through for a layered effect. My intention was to document each layer to track myself. However, as is often the case, once I get working I do not think to stop and take a photo. I am very pleased with the fact I still have some of the original under painting showing through as I fight my tendency to cover it all up with the new layer. The left side is a bit more complete than the right at this juncture.
Here we have my first layer which took on a rainbow theme. IF truth be told, I was cleaning off my palette, but who needs to know that? I still thought it would create a nice color transition going across the canvas. This next image shows my beginnings of blocking in and placement of the crossroads. How high, how wide, how thick, how thin. You would not think something so simple would require much thought, but as I work on this piece, it has a mind of its own and I find myself going in directions I had not initially even considered. It has been a wonderful journey thus far despite many roadblocks. One of self-discovery. A road trip without ever getting into the car...

As I write this, it is drawing me back and into it.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Orchids evolve

Studio Orchids II, oil on panel, 20x16
Here is an oldie but goodie. This piece originated in 2002 when I was very interested in orchids in particular, and plants in general. I liked doing what I considered 'plant portraits.' Not so much in the botanical illustration mode, although I did take a class in that at the Denver Botanic Gardens at the time. For me, being what some consider a detail-oriented person, botanical illustration did not appeal to me.

I had orchids lining every windowsill in my home. This scene was in my studio. I was even a member of the Denver Orchid Society so I would have access to more varieties of orchids. I still like having an orchid or two around the house, but I no longer have them in every window that was feasible. Working on this painting has made me realize that I miss the color and the jauntiness of orchids in my life.

Not sure I should show the original version, but here it is, painted from life. Oh, the things that I have learned over the years! What is 'wrong' with this version, as if I need to point them out, they are so obvious. No, instead I will focus on why I thought it worth saving: It shows the character of the plants coming through which was my goal at the time.

The window faces north. So the light coming through the blinds would not be warm. First thing that had to change. Second, the perspective has every thing falling off the canvas to the lower right. Can't have that. Funky Orchids was the title of the painting as I tried to take a lighter, less serious approach to my work, but there are still some things that need to be considered, even going for a less formal format. The Moses in the Cradle leaf coming into the painting from the lower right had corner was supposed to help with the tilt of the blinds and board and it does, but not enough. Luckily the drawing of the plants themselves was good, and only required a little tweaking, the blinds and putting the plant stand in where it belonged took a bit more brain power. Unifying the shadow shape was helpful too as I tried to be more true to the light source. I can't believe now that I put all the shadows into black but back then I thought it would help the flowers be more colorful.

I was reading in "American Art Review" earlier this week an article on an upcoming Richard Diebenkorn show opening next month on his early years. I was heartened to read this about him and his process:
"Many have described this process as one of trial and error-even Diebenkorn himself-but it was not so much that he was creating and correcting 'errors' as he was attempting to find a better way, the extended journey being relevant to his final result.".. then finishing with "He kept working until he believed the painting was not wrong anymore, feeling his way until, in his mind, the painting had somehow become "miraculously right."

This idea has been floating around in my head for awhile now, and I liked that the journey was the important thing for Diebenkorn. And the idea of not correcting errors but finding the rightness.

I do hope I can get to Sacramento's Crocker Museum to see the show this fall.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

A book that is giving me pause to reflect

The Little Free Library program is big in the neighborhood where I live. It is a great way to find new reads. It is convenient to stop while walking my dog, Fritz. A recent acquisition that I just started reading is called "Contrition." This book intrigued me for a number of reasons. First, being an artist and this has 2 artists, father and daughter; Second, I am Catholic and I am usually interested in seeing how this topic is handled in current fiction. That the daughter artist is also a cloistered nun had me hooked. That this nun paints amazingly moving and thought provoking images is even better.

It is written for the point of view of a writer, a twin separated as an infant and given up for adoption. Her mother had died in childbirth. She believes she was given up for adoption because of a deformed hand and other health issues she was born with that her biological father, an artist and an alcoholic, could not handle with two babies to care for. She has only recently discovered that she is a twin when her father's estate lawyer contacted her after his death. She is now on a quest to meet her sister but she finds out she is a cloistered nun who also is an artist. While doing some reconnaissance at the convent where she has been told her sister lives, she sees on the wall a Madonna and Child that moves her in ways she did not think she could be moved. She finds out that it was painted by her sister. She is now determined to write about her sister and her art so on her return trip to the convent to again try to talk to her sister, the painting is gone. Here are a few things that struck me.; one is  finding out her sister has taken this Madonna and Child to paint over it. A new painting. Because of lack of funds for fresh canvas but also because the artist nun has no intention for her work to be known to the outside world.
An excerpt:
"From what I can figure, Sister Catherine values the act of painting, not the outcome. The creation process is her method of prayer, a direct appeal to God, who replies in colors and shapes. Once their conversation is over, Catherine considers the finished piece incidental."

"Sister Catherine doesn't show or sell her paintings because she doesn't want to be given credit for them. In order to keep the channel clear for God to work through her, she paints as often as possible, even, and sometimes especially, if that means recycling canvases."

My thoughts on this have been that I like that the works being painted are a conversation with God. That really struck me as to how I should be approaching my own work. That she paints over them, I understand too, but the pieces I paint over are not usually my best.

Which brings me to an exhibit held last year about this time where an abstract artist here in town came up with the idea to exchange paintings with 12 other artists. He received one painting each from the 12 artists and reworked them in his way, and the 12 artists each picked out one of his abstract works and painted on them. There was a lot of hue and cry over this exhibit; ie how can you paint over a Quang Ho or a Ron Hicks painting?? Sacrilege!  I thought it a very interesting concept and liked what some of the artists came up with when making something new out of what came before.

Sometimes the process is where you need to be rather than the outcome. It is a good thing to not be attached.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Cutaway - Quilted landscape

The Cutaway, 12x24, oil on linen panel Original as painted plein air
I knew when I painted this that it was not done. I was wanting to play around with exaggerating the lines and colors of the landscape with the intention to add subtlety and cohesion later.  I have been working on it in bits and pieces the past few weeks adding texture and unifying big shapes. Leaving some of the underlying colors to come through. Let's see how I did on that. Below is the 'finished' painting.
The Cutaway, 12x24, oil on linen panel

I realized this is not a normal thing to paint. For some reason I am drawn to cutaways and how roads intersect the flow of the landscape. I love the underlying rhythms of the earth and the flora that grows with it. I also prefer to include how man puts his mark on the land. The parking lot where I stood to paint this was very busy with bikers. This road seems to be a destination to go riding along for the locals and visitors alike. It had the added benefit of a port-a-potty which is a must have for artists and bikers alike!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Lake Catamount Ranch Barns

Lake Catamount, Pleasant Valley, Steamboat Springs - 14x11
It has been a busy summer for me this year so easel time has been few and far between. This is the last painting to post from Destination Steamboat Springs. It seems a long time but it has only been a month ago now that I spent a week with Plein Air Artists of Colorado painting in and around Steamboat. These buildings were on a private gated community. They have all been beautifully restored and/or maintained. The cabin that goes with these barns is beautiful inside and the people who live in this community can use it for entertaining or events. One of the PAAC hostesses for the Steamboat paint out had permission for us to paint in this private reserve for the day.

I was here in the afternoon only. It was an afternoon where the sun played peak-a-boo that ended in rained. I opted to originally paint it local tone, or flat. But once I got it home I was not that happy with the flatness so I turned it into light and shadow. Hence the wait for it to be posted.
The cabin's dining room set up for a dinner party

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Save the Date!

PAAC Annual Juried Show
The annual Plein Air Artists of Colorado juried show will open Friday, September 8, 2017 at the Mary Williams Fine Arts in Boulder CO. The Gallery is located at 5311 Western Avenue, Suite 112, 80301. The phone number is 303-938-1588. I have two paintings juried into this show from my joining the group again this past January. I had taken a long hiatus from painting plein air with PAAC but I am happy to be back at it and then getting two paintings accepted. The show will be up through the first week of October so come on down and check it out. Although the majority of work will represent the fine state of Colorado, know that there will be work from other states as well. You do not have to live in Colorado to be a member!
One of the pieces juried in I painted on a lovely day in March at Wynetka Park.

Hope to see you at the opening! Next year I heard that the annual PAAC show will be in Durango in conjunction with the annual Destination Paintout. I think that will be a blast!

Yesterday I had the pleasure of assisting in unwrapping the works that have been shipped to the gallery...the preview shows some real winners...

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Destination Steamboat Springs

Last Tuesday I drove up to Steamboat Springs for the annual destination paint out put on by the Plein Air Artists of Colorado (PAAC). The event started with a welcome dinner that evening. It is hard to talk to many people when you are so many seated at a long table, but it is always fun to sit with people you don't know. At least half of those artists that evening I had never seen or met before. Who knew my dining partner that evening would be the husband of a fellow artist from the Springs. A Methodist minister to boot! Now that was fun! I love to talk religion and politics at dinner...really.

Wednesday was the start of the scheduled events and we had permission to go onto a private development and club house in Pleasant Valley to paint for the day. I chose to paint in the morning along the main road on the way to the Club. Here is painting number one:
Stables and Barn, 9x12, oil on panel
I was so happy that I got one done and under my belt I was ready to go and try another for the afternoon. I am saving that for another time.

Thursday I went out on my own as I was less than thrilled with that days painting location. The artists that did stay and paint aspens turned out some nice work, but I was so taken with the vistas of the Yampa Valley that painting in a densely treed location was not going to work. In this next painting I was specifically looking for color and patterns and playing with the cutaways shapes. I have thoughts of playing around with this more but for right now I am letting it sit. I was standing in the shadows of a big display board for the areas recreation of fly fishing and biking. This parking lot was very active for bikers and so I was never alone, so to speak. I met one fly fisherman whom I went down to the river to talk to after I was finished for the day. You meet such interesting people when you paint outdoors. Most are interested and curious in what you are doing.
the Cutaway, 12x24, oil on linen
Friday found me back on road 131 not far from the stables and barn above. That road was so scenic it was hard to not stop and at least take photos the whole length of it. The problem for the most part is having a place to pull over and paint. Two of us set up to paint hay bales and before we knew it, we were joined by 4 more artists. Here are a few of my painting buddies:
and my hay bale painting:
Hay Bale  Harvest, 9x12, oil
A number of cars actually stopped and came by to see what we were doing and the truckers honked their appreciation as they flew on down the road. It really is a kick to be outside painting.

As I am not used to standing out in the sun and the wind and the rain days in a row, I headed home on our last day instead of painting. It was another private ranch we were allowed access to in the Mt Zirkle wilderness area so I am sure it was fabulous. I heard tell that next years' paint out will be in Durango. I had not been on a destination paint out in years. I had forgotten what a blast it can be and so good to reconnect with your buddies you don't see unless you participate in the weekly calendar paint outs. Note to self...get your gear and get out doors!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Road Home - CR 519

The Road Home-CR 519, 9x12, oil on panel
Last week was spent up in Fraser, CO. A dear friend of mine offered me his home while he and his wife attended a conference. It was rather last minute, but who can resist a place to stay at the peak of wildflower season? With the added bonus of cooler temperatures and the home in question being brand new with a view over the valley below it?

For whatever reason, roads still attract me as subject matter, so here is the straight and narrow, well graded road off which I stayed. I painted this scene last fall after my last stay up at this house, but in that painting played it a bit more abstractly. In case you missed that post, here is the painting as comparison from a slightly different angle.

I wish I could say I painted this plein air, but alas, no. I had ventured out to paint the wildflowers but realized rather quickly that without bug spray this was a losing proposition. I came home with a number of mosquito and horse fly bites and no painting to show for it. In a few weeks I will join PAAC for their annual paint out trip which this year is in Steamboat Springs. I have already made sure bug spray is included. I will also try a homemade chemical free recipe I found on Facebook but will take the chemical weapons as back up. I do not like being eaten alive.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Winter Still Life -revisited

Winter Still Life, 16x20, oil on panel
This painting below that was posted this past winter needed to be reworked. I did this painting from an old slide I found from decades ago. I always liked this image so I was happy to find it after years of being packed away in the basement.

I wanted to put it in so you can see the difference as I explain what I did. the most obvious is that I lightened up (or added atmosphere to) the trees across the way. then I added more color and warmth to the overall painting. More reflected light gave the overall structure less heaviness and the birds now are more interesting.

Here is an interesting note. In my spring cleaning I came across a photo I had had made from the slide. I had forgotten all about it, but then remembered having framed it to hang on my wall. The photo was much better visually but it was also a mirror image to that of the slide! So though I had this improved image, I had to switch it visually from the photo to the painting. A mind bender to be sure.

Let me know your thoughts.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Racked Sea Kayaks

Racked, 20x30, oil on linen
Here is a painting recently uncovered in my basement as I continue to cull through my life's work. It is not that old in the scope of things and for some reason I did not give much credence to it when I painted it. But now, looking at it, I am trying to figure out what it was that made me dismiss it out of hand. I showed it to a few people yesterday to see what they thought and it met with very positive responses. Who knew? Just goes to show we can be our own worst enemies. I have not shown this painting since I painted it and now it is up and on display at Gallery 1505 on South Pearl Street. It is very different subject matter for me. But here is why I was attracted to consider painting kayaks.

Italy's Adriatic coast was on my agenda when I went to Italy 4 years ago after not having been there in decades. We were in Venice and I wanted to go to the beach to give myself a few days away from the crowds of tourists that we were a part of in Paris, Venice and next, Rome. I was interested in Ravenna, the mosaic capital of the world, which is a 3 hour train ride south of Venice. We stopped there for a night and then down to Pescara from there. Pescara is a very popular beach resort area in the summer, but we were there in October so the season was over. The weather was still warm enough to walk the surf, if not swim. I walked that beach each morning and evening. The locals are bundled up in coats and us foreigners in t-shirts. I consider mid-70's perfect! I saw these sea kayaks on one of long walks (the coast line extends 12 miles at this particular area) and saw great abstract patterns. There were a number of these racks lined up but I liked that this particular rack had the cabanas behind them adding to the pattern and throwing in that yellow.

A side note; in hind sight, this stop to decompress was pure genius. When we arrived in Rome, not only was it the day of the Rome Marathon, but it was also a day the Pope beatified 13 saints from around the world and there were pilgrims from every corner of the globe that day!! Took us over an hour from the train station to our lodgings by the Vatican because the roads were blocked for the marathon and then the papal dismissal came as we were trying to get to where we were staying. Just goes to show, check out what is happening in the big cities when planning your itinerary especially when going to Rome! Lesson learned.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

From Here to Eternity II

From Here to Eternity II, 12x24, oil on linen panel
As a movie I was watching was beginning recently, I noticed the beautiful abstract landscapes of the intro with the credits. The images were so abstract that they did not at first read as a real place in any landscape. I had to go back a number of times to really note what these photographs were saying. They so impressed me I decided to translate them in my own way. Here is the first of these images that so captured my imagination. I call it From Here to Eternity II for, I think, obvious reasons. The road is straight for miles without end. The film took place in Australia. The II is because I named another painting recently the same title, also of a road. In the blogpost it did not have that title yet.

It is a good vehicle for me to keep things simple; to try and add visual interest to very basic shapes.

I think it does beg the viewer to ask themselves some questions. For me, I was thinking about the road I am on. It isn't really as straight and narrow as I would like. In fact, the next painting from this movie inspiration is more like the road I believe I am on which is full of circles which I hope I can break out of soon to get on this road in the twilight of my life. Much calmer and straight forward.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Rolling Tundra

Rolling Tundra - Guanella Pass, oil on panel, 15x30
Last fall on a beautiful day, a friend and I went up to hike on Guanella Pass. We headed the opposite direction of most hikers who stop here. The more 'usual' hike is to go to Mount Bierstadt. There is no cover from the sun and as you continue to wander up the path there seems no end. Around every bend the path goes around some willows or another roll in the landscape. And then you stop to catch your breath and there lies before you these glorious colors. It was incredibly beautiful and this particular scene off to our left was a marvel to me. The fall colors of the willows looked like polka dots as they tumbled down the hillside in oranges, reds and purples. It was one of those clear blue, not a cloud in the sky, Colorado days.

I started this painting right after the hike itself, but so much has been going on. Finally finishing it just recently. I did saturate the colors just a little bit but not as much as you might think!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Growth and Renewal

untitled, 30x20, oil on linen
“It is with art as it is with trees, constant growth and renewal. Seeking new forms of expression is a vital necessity for art. When art doesn’t put out new shoots, it is dead.” Birger Sandzen, 1913

With this quote in mind, here is a piece that shows something different for me. I have been digging through my old works lately and I am surprised by what I am finding. Lots of good work hidden below. It energized me. My roots are more graphic and flat before I opted to move to the more representational arena.

For this painting I used a photo my son had taken of some old buildings downtown Denver. Since the same rules apply in abstraction as they do in any other painting, I was not only thinking what colors to use but also what colors were in which value group. I was also thinking about repeating patterns using the 'windows' and architectural details to break up the bigger shapes whether they were there or not. The light group is used to help move the eye around.

Here is the image in B and W to illustrate the values and how the colors group.
untitled in B&W
If anyone has a brilliant idea for a title for this piece, I would be happy to hear it. I am stumped. Thank you in advance.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Kicked off Vans

Vans, 16x12, oil on panel
I have been doing some major spring cleaning the past month or so and one of the projects led me to stored paintings of questionable value. Here is one I pulled out from that pile. I am seeing it with fresh eyes and thinking, 'now what is so very wrong with this little piece?' It is not so bad after all. I must not have thought it awful, as those get wiped off or painted over.

So, here is a study I did of a pair of Vans sneakers I inherited from my then teen-aged daughter. I had wanted to document them before I threw them out after miles of walking the dog in them. Oh good and faithful servants that they were.

What is it about shoes that I get so attached to? I sure enjoy painting my shoes. I have a very hard foot to find comfortable shoes for so when I find a pair that doesn't give me blisters or great pain. I am then so overjoyed, no matter how homely they may be.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

A Beach Trinity

Beach Trinity, 6x6, oil on panel
I liked this little vignette I saw on a beach in Florida. That it included the dog was a bonus. I am glad that he was somewhat connected to the sea grasses as I did like the family group of three.

This being a simple little composition, I tried to maintain that without getting too involved in details.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Critique

Critique, 30x24, oil on linen panel
 I don't believe I have posted this painting before. It is really hard to put out there a portrait of sorts of someone so well known in the local art community here in Denver. This is from the Master Painting class I took a few years ago with Kevin Weckbach. I am very grateful for the time I was able to spend under his tutelage so the last thing I want to do is put a bad painting of him out in public.That happens to be my easel behind him with my nifty tennis ball tube turned brush holder hanging on the wall. People who have seen this painting ask if that is me sitting on the left, but alas, no; I took the reference photo and then used it as a class project for dark/light pattern.

I have explained dark/light pattern before so to briefly review what that means it is to find a pattern either in the light or the dark values and then push the medium values either to the light pattern or the dark pattern. This one I used the darks to carve out the light. The dark values marry to one another to create a circle that moves the eye around. To do the assignment, for instance, the brown hair highlights of Tomiko on the left were toned down so as to not be disrupted by her highlights and to blend from Kevin's black shirt to his navy pants to her brown hair, etc. Her sweatshirt was overall a darker gray to unify with the darker areas of her hood folds. Kevin's blue cargo pants were overall darker and flatter too. I brought the mediums back out after the critique but still keeping the pattern in mind.

The other things I liked about this composition were the repeating square shapes and the angles both in the painting being critiqued and the easel and the brush holder. That is what we call the "abstract quality" and in this case, help guide the eye as well.

Here is Kevin critiquing the start of the painting where you can see what I was talking about marrying the values.

Friday, May 12, 2017


Lilacs, 14x11, oil on panel
Another recent plein air piece painted in our backyard. As I mentioned in a past post on painting tulips, this year has been particularly beautiful for flowering trees, shrubs and bulbs here in Denver.  I managed to remember to take a photo of my block in (it is in the shade which is why it looks a bit dull). In the block in below I was looking for the dark pattern within the bush to give shape and structure to it. I wanted to block in the lilacs themselves with a unifying mid value so that I could then have fun putting the lilacs in on top in a lighter value as well as adding texture. Because at the end of the hour (I started about noon) the light was shifting and where I was sitting was now getting sun in my face, I stopped to come back the next day. Painting on your own premises allows for that more easily than going out to another location and I enjoy taking my time that way. I like that the block in is mostly dry and you can layer more easily than when painting wet into wet in one sitting.
Day One first hour

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Spring in my back yard

Tulips springing forth, 14x11, oil over an old painting on canvas/board
This spring in Denver has been particularly beautiful. Not only for the blooms that come out most every year, but for the length of time the blooms have stayed out. Denver can have snow and or hail up and through June so from year to year we may or may not have blossoms around for very long. In an effort to get outside during this amazing time, but also fighting allergies big time, I opted to stay close to home and sit outside in my own backyard to paint.

For this painting, I set my chair atop my hostas that were peeping out against the fence. There was not much room between the fence and the tulips but I managed to squeeze in the chair so I could be a bit closer to the subject. I reused a panel that had an old plein air on it as I try to keep my inventory to something manageable. And some pieces are just not worth keeping after a few years. I do like the way these tulips were snaking around, all in different phases of development. The sun was coming from across the fence over my shoulder so this view had the best light too.

Because of the lighting situation, on the first day I figured out my composition and got it blocked in before the light was too different. I had plans to go back the next day but it ended up I could not get back out for another 2 days. Not good in the life-cycle of bulbs. In 2 days, so many changes have taken place. With my composition and block in already to go, it wasn't too bad and I just worked on getting my values put in.

I do enjoy painting outdoors!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Gustave Baumann at the Pasadena Museum of California Art

Gustave Baumann, long a favorite of mine, just 'happened' to have an exhibit at the Pasadena Museum of Art where I had gone to see the Joseph Kleitsch show that I had read about in American Art Review. If you don't subscribe to this magazine (artists in particular) I highly recommend it for learning about not just American Artists, but the history of American Art through our founding. It is a magazine that compiles shows going on all across the US. I have learned so much over the years from this well written magazine. For instance, there was another article in this latest issue on Maynard Dixon and a show in Reno, NV of all places, currently going on. Since we were driving, I had hoped to get to that show as well, but I am grateful that I got to Pasadena, so I knew two stops, out or our way,would be pushing it.

For those who do not know Gustave Baumann's work a brief introduction. He was born (1881-1971) and raised in Germany. His family moved to the USA when he was 10, but he studied art and wood block print making back in Munich, Germany. He settled in Santa Fe, NM in 1918 thinking Taos was too crowded! His color wood block prints from NM are perhaps his best known. He also built marionettes.
Gustave's printing press.
There were a few of his gouache studies included. I had not realized that he did these studies for future block prints. The simple graphic shapes show that he is thinking all the time about how it will work in a block print.
I took this photo of one of his blocks (the finished print is below the tools) to show not only the size but the 'yellow' denoting the color of the block. Good reminder! Some of his prints had, and I am guessing, 8 individual blocks for color per print. I can only image having to register that many blocks on however many prints he was making! I struggled with 4 and my foray into block printing was nowhere near the level he took it to.
The tools of the trade. I liked the turquoise handles...
Gustave did love to do trees. I had not seen the mighty redwood print before. They showed this particular composition in each of its separate colors. I can't remember now if it was 6 or 7.
One of his early works from Germany. Simple, with only a few colors (3?) but I liked it.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Reading on a Jet Plane

Reading On A Jet Plane, 20x16, oil on panel

Sung to the tune of "Leaving on a Jet Plane, Don't know when I'll be back again..." I could not help myself with this particular title.

Another more challenging painting for me as it is back lit which makes the figure a silhouette. And most importantly, painted from a 4x6 photograph as this image was taken BEFORE digital photography!  I just never got around to painting it before, being spoiled with technology. It doesn't seem that long ago but counting back, it has been 16 years since our family went to Germany. This is my son, with his sister by the window. It was to be part of a series I wanted to do on people reading. I think I have done a number of pieces on this theme but never have they been shown together as they do span 20 years now.
Lost in a Good Book, 18x24, oil on canvas, 1996ish with a few updates along the way
For giggles and grins, I will add a few others from this drawn out series. The above painting is of my daughter at 7 or 8 years old. I originally painted it sometime in the late 90's. I did work on it again after that.
@ The Metropolis, 20x16, oil on canvas, 2009
Another one of my daughter. She had agreed to be my model so I could paint her plein air for the Denver Plein Air Event back in 2009. I did a 9x12 while she patiently read a Charles Dickens novel (Great Expectations?) all for a cup of coffee. I did this larger piece in the studio and it won Best of Show at the 'Own an Original' juried show at the Littleton Museum. It also sold at that show, which is always a wonderful thing for an artist. The gentleman who bought her said she looks like his daughter.
The Butcher's Son, 6x6, oil on panel, 2012
To throw in a non-family member, here is a young boy reading at the Dijon, France Saturday market. His parents had a butcher shop and he was perched between to cases of prime meats of all kinds.
Liz Reading, 20x16, oil on canvas, 2009?
Here is another one of my daughter when she was in college. It may be 2009 as well (no date on the back). I did this one from life sitting on the couch opposite her in our living room.