July 15, 2015

Ants, a Peacock and a Snake

So how does one fit ants, a peacock and a snake all in to one story? Well, if you happen to be a plein air painter, this is fairly easy to do.

Heading off to Skagit Valley (WA) to paint for the day is always a treat. The valley is lush, fertile land and filled with wildlife; from miniature donkeys to graceful Trumpeter swans. Truly, the possibilities for an artist can be overwhelming.

My internal compass usually lands me pretty close to water and this day was no different. I wandered the back roads until I came upon an inviting slough. One of the challenges was getting set up securely. The speed limit on the road is 50 so it seemed a good idea to set up on the "other" side of the guardrail.

The downside of that decision is that it meant I would be standing on an incline on a fairly steep slope but I saw no other option.

I generally toss down a small drop-cloth in case I drop things, or sometimes just to keep the crud and bugs off my feet. I decided not to do that this day; the slope was too steep so I opted not to use the drop-cloth but instead got to work setting up my easel.

All set! I was ready for my first stroke of paint when I realized my feet were on fire!! I looked down and both my feet were covered with ants! I quickly moved, apologized for stepping on their house and got re situated.

Yep, you guessed it; here comes the peacock, wandering down the side of the road. Seriously? I just didn't expect that.

After the distractions, I got some work done and made quick of packing up my gear. It was hot and I was ready to seek some shade. All loaded, I took that one giant step over the guardrail, and was within inches of stepping on a snake!

So there's how you fit an ant, a peacock and snake into a story without telling a bar-room joke. 


June 17, 2015

Breathing the Sea; A Salon Day

Breathing the Sea (18x36 oil)

It feels special (and no doubt my head is already expanding) to be asked by Brackenwood Gallery to be the star of a Salon Day at their lovely gallery in the quaint little town of Langley, WA.

Stoney Beach (16 x 20 oil)

Throughout the day, I will paint demos in both oils and pastels. Toward the end of the day, there will be a quick change and the gallery will put out yummy nibbles and, of course, fine wines. They always do things right there :). Should you be able to attend, we will have an opportunity to chat about art and the ways of life.

In the fashion of a "studio," we will be offering framed pieces, unframed pieces, studies and sketches.

Langley Wave (11 x 14 pastel)

This show is the essence of my love for the sea. I hope you will be able to join us. The event information can be found on Brackenwood Gallery's Website.

March 13, 2015

Boys on the Beach

Beach Boys (11x14 oil on panel)

I love it when the title "works" with the piece and admit I sometimes wonder why artists choose the names they do for paintings. Some are obvious; others, we will never understand. 

Realizing the title to this may be a little obscure; I thought I'd share the meaning behind it. 

I love (did I say love?) LOVE plein air (outdoor) painting and suspect I have as many stories about those adventures as I do paintbrushes. This one is no exception. A friend and I were just setting up our gear on the beach when a couple of young boys ran over to see what we were doing.

I am pretty good at guessing what entertains ten year old boys. If I were a gambling girl, I would have lost a big bet on those two. Those boys quietly entertained themselves looking at rocks and turning over seaweed for more than two hours just so they could see our paintings! Wow, well blow me over. I just smiled out loud about that for days. Hence, the name.


August 29, 2014

Learn, Honor, Create, Play

Learn, Honor, Create, Play (11x14 dry pastel)


Still life paintings need to mean something to me on a very personal level for me to enjoy the process of painting them. This one does. Each piece in this painting represents aspects I think are important in creating a happy and healthy life; Learning, Honoring, Creating and Playing.

It seemed only logical to start with the strong foundation that is required before beginning to build anything. With that in place I added the apple to represent our early stages of learning. 

Next, I placed the lifebowls and it is significant to me that I chose bowls gifted to me by a dear friend to represent the lifebowls. I especially enjoy that they are handmade and not perfectly symmetrical because whose life is?

Balancing one’s lifebowls can be a bit tricky at times.  Mine seemed to stabilized quite nicely once I placed the origami crane smack in the middle of it because, after all, where would we be without honor and loyalty (the traditional meaning of the origami crane)?

With a good foundation (be it family or religion or both), learning underway and loyal friends, creativity has a chance to thrive. Enter the kitty. Having created her from clay (after my own lovely cat), she seemed perfect to represent my idea of creativity for this little play. And, she had the added benefit of exuding relaxation/vacation which I know is part of a good balance in life. 

The mouse is probably quite obvious but after watching my cat for years, I know how important playtime is!

All of this is topped off with a huge, red, apple juicy enough to bite into and it is intended to represent our blessed learning that continues year after year that is so absolutely delicious.

August 18, 2014

More Serendipity

Abundance at Marymere Falls (10x8 oils, SOLD)

Last year I was invited to attend an inaugural plein air event on the Olympic Peninsula (in Washington State). The event is headquartered in Port Angeles, Washington, and is known as "Paint the Peninsula." Since I had recently fallen in love with plein air painting, and anything associated with it, I jumped at the opportunity. 

If you have attended such events, you likely know that the back of the substrates you plan to use during the competition are stamped before painters head out in all directions. This assures that all paintings are, in fact, done within the confines of the event. I got my substrates stamped and headed out to see the world.

My ever-loving husband, Larry, accompanied me for the event and was always willing to be my sherpa (not to be confused with a shar pei :). I don't recall which day it was when we decided to hike in to Marymere Falls. It's not a long hike; just under a mile from the trailhead but Larry was nice enough to carry my gear for me.

When we got to the falls, I unpacked my stuff and realized I had forgotten my stamped panels. Larry, as always, came to my rescue and hoofed it back to the trailhead to get them for me. Now, he had three miles under foot as he returned. I had my panels. Yay! I could paint. I went to retrieve my painting tools and, believe it or not (I am typically a very organized person) I didn't have my painting tools either!! I was not about to ask Larry to go another two miles because of my mistake.

After a few minutes, I thought to pull out my credit card and started painting with that. I rather liked what was happening so I continued until I felt the piece was done. I wiped off my credit card, later hung the piece for the event, and was shocked, thankful and amazed when it won a special "Juror's Award!" 

Since then I have done quite a few more paintings using my credit cards (swiping took on a whole new meaning for me). 

July 22, 2014

Embracing Serendipity

Forest Gypsies (36 x 24 oils, gallery-wrap canvas)

Racing waves in the sea by day
And wind by night
Time captures hoof-prints in the sand
The spirit of the Forest provides

One of the great joys of painting is the connection between my subject matter and my heart. Plein air (outdoor) painting is one of the ways I eliminate interference when applying art to my canvas. 

On this particular adventure, I was on my way to the west side of Whidbey Island because there are a few beaches there where I love to paint. On the way, I thought about which beach I would land on and how I might portray the scene that is so familiar to me. Driving across the island, I took a shortcut through a housing complex that quickly turns into rural area. Just past the houses, I happened to look to my left and my heart jumped to my throat when I spotted a small family of horses drenched in the only sunlight within a mile of where I was!

I made a u-turn in the middle of the road and had my painting gear set up within minutes. My connection with animals is a gift I treasure beyond words. 

Throughout the course of my painting stay, I was visited by each horse in what seemed an organized progression. Each came close enough to see what I was working on, and then gave up its turn for the next one. I felt so privileged.

The painting at the top of the page, Forest Gypsies, is a result of embracing serendipity.

February 23, 2014

Now, Where Was I?

Ah, yes, back to Deception Pass. This time with pastels and a slightly different angle. I love this park! It's no wonder there are over 2 million visitors annually. Let's not even count the number of people who then fall in love with Washington.

I thought I would show you the box I made to carry in my backpack for plein air painting. I wanted something super-light and just the right size to fit in my pack. I found that one of my (saved) Sennelier Pastel boxes worked wonderfully for this project.

 I covered it in scrapbook paper (and couldn't resist some stickers).and then covered the entire top with clear packing tape to give it a little extra protection.
Then I added a few strips of velcro so I could a) velcro the box closed and b) velcro the two halves of the box together to place on my easel butler.

So far, this is working out really well. I'm not sure how long the box will last since it is made out of cardboard but so far, so good.

It's almost time for me to head outdoors to paint and I am more than happy to do some more testing.


October 08, 2013

Fall on the Island

Fall at Deception Pass Park
 (11 x 14 oil on linen panel)
I am proud to say my father served in the Navy for over forty years (thanks, Dad!) and by way of his service, I was a Navy "brat" (probably in more ways than one). On average, I think we moved about every 18 months. I have lived abroad, lived in more states than I can recall, and have traveled through all of them at one point or another in my lifetime. Out of all those places, I feel very blessed to call Whidbey Island, Washington, my home (and to have my parents living right next door and my siblings within spitting distance).
Perhaps I have been a bit swayed by the remarkable Summer we had this year. And, now, a beautiful Fall. I doubt I am celebrating all by myself but I AM celebrating! I am taking every opportunity to be outside and enjoy these glorious days and practice my plein air painting. Ah, what a LIFE!
The painting above is from a day at Deception Pass Park; a most glorious park. A short little hike and, presto; a little piece of heaven. Sun, paint, lunch, paint, sun, paint, sunset.

my plein air set-up (work in progress)

August 19, 2013

Twilight Color Study

Twilight Color Study
 (8x10 pastel)
How many surfaces can an artist be in love with at any given moment? Um, I don't really have the answer to that question but I am adding one more to my list. After reading a recent article in the Pastel Journal about Multimedia Artboards for Pastels, I ordered some. Oh, my! I am love-crazed, yet again. I have every intention of trying this for oils, too. I just haven't gotten there, yet.
The study above is part of the work I am doing for a larger oil painting so it was a perfect opportunity to try the new surface. The pastel went on nicely and stayed where I put it. I also enjoyed that the surface takes multiple layers very well without mooshing (yes, that is a word in pastel-speak) the layers below.
Back to testing...

August 16, 2013

This Way to the Beach

Where does a girl go for the entire summer, you ask? "Why, outside, of course."

Yes, yes, I have been back plein air painting and off on some wild adventures. So many that I have barely been on the computer; it's all I can do to stay in the house. One of my favorite spots is on the west side of Whidbey Island (Washington). There is something so serene about painting the water while listening to the waves rolling onto the shore in the background.   
Last time I mentioned my set up, it was larger. I'm now working so everything fits in my backpack and I've chosen a standard size of 8x10. It makes it easier for me to plan things that way. I may switch out to a 9x12 later but for now I am enjoying this small size.
And, because I wanted to work smaller, Larry built an even smaller Attaché Board (we've nicknamed him "Pierre") - here he is all decked out:
This is my little plein air oil painting for my stint at West Beach:


April 03, 2013

Kitty Kitty

Double Trouble (36 x 24, oil on linen panel) - click for a larger view
Generally, when I approach a painting with this amount of complexity, I have a pretty good plan for executing it. I hope I won't take the magic away by telling you that this kitty (Rosie) was not actually sleeping on that slipper, nor was she actually playing with that string, nor was she actually asleep on that particular floor. Those are all elements I wanted to introduce to tell "my" painting's story. When working through the steps, initially I thought I would paint Rosie and then paint her full reflection on the black tiled floor.
Um, what was I thinking?! As soon as I started painting Rosie, I realized I would need to paint both Rosies at the same time so I could exactly match the color on my brush for both cats and (as accurately as possible) capture the exact opposite stroke/direction for the fur in the reflection. Well, I wasn't using my right hand for much anyway so I turned the canvas horizontally and picked up a second paintbrush.
And this was how I painted most of the painting. There were points where I thought maybe I was headed for the crazy house (or perhaps I was already there) but, like a really good puzzle, I found that concentrating on one section at a time was my only hope for sanity. In the end, I like to think I was able to maintain that :).

March 14, 2013

Love is Love, 18 x 24 pastel on La Carte
Through flight and fields of feathers, true love returns to where it belongs because regardless, Love is Love.
The Trumpeter Swans gather in the fields of Skagit Valley (Washington) every year and every year I dash out with my camera hoping to see them. They cover the fields in the valleys, nearly looking like fields of snow from a distance. It doesn't seem to matter that I saw them last year, I want to see them again this year. I want to meet the new arrivals and watch their spectacular displays (always keeping a respectful distance, of course).
Until one sees them up close, you might not realize how large these birds are. In fact, they are the largest waterfowl of North America with a wingspan (males) of six to eight feet. And you might be able to imagine what a field of trumpets, all playing at the same time, must sound like! It is something to behold.
Another lovely fact; Trumpeter Swans, generally having a lifespan of twenty to thirty years, also mate for life.

November 29, 2012

Stand Beside Her (work in progress)

Stand Beside Her
(24 x 18 dry pastel)
It feels to me that I live in the most blessed place on earth. It doesn't seem to matter what simple chore I am doing, I am surrounded by beauty. Lucky me, lucky, lucky me. I have to stop what I love doing (painting) to dash to the grocery store (which I don't like doing) and am greeted with THIS view on the way. Along my merry way. So, it is an incident as simple as this that renews my living philosophy that God is ever-present and blessings abound in every task.
Following are some images of how she was created. Well, you know, not from the beginning, just my feeble attempt on the easel...

This is the"rough-in" stage on salmon-colored Sennelier La Carte paper.
(click image for larger views) 
Pastels are MADE for painting clouds. I think it's as close as one can get to the feeling of actually making real ones.
After getting the sky pretty much in place, I started working on the land, from the furthest piece forward.

 And, here's the final again - just to complete the WIP series.

Thanks for stopping by

October 26, 2012

Pumpkin (11 x 14 pastel on Sennelier La Carte)
availability info on my website
You know, Pumpkin can hardly WAIT...

October 15, 2012

20 minutes - what's the rush?

14 x 11 value study/quick draw - oil on linen panel
A friend and I hired a lovely model for our value and color exercise. It amazes me how quickly 20 minutes can fly by when one is trying to put eyeballs and noses in the correct place. I can see I did not do that in this piece but I am allowing myself those errors since this was a 20 minute piece with no room nor time for fixes. The purpose of this quickdraw was to warm up to the model's facial structure in increasingly longer poses. We started with a 5 minute pose, then a 10 minute pose, then 20 minutes then an hour+ with breaks for the model every 20 minutes. The time certainly flew by for us artists, especially under these conditions! Now that I have a value study and a color study, I feel confident I can produce a nice piece from the photos I took during the model session. We'll see :).