Wednesday, April 29, 2009

"A Companion of Diana"

vine charcoal on sanded illustration board, 11x14

This is my entry for Karin Jurick's Different Strokes from Different Folks challenge.  I decided to try this in vine charcoal on sanded board, and after too much rubbing out, my fingers were bleeding.  I started drawing the head, thinking I had lots of space to fit the figure, and lo and behold, had no space for her beautiful feet.  I used to tell students: block in, adjust, re-measure, fit the whole figure in.  In my rush to finish the assignment, I didn't do it! Please visit the DSDF site to see the beautiful entries from dozens of talented artists, and to see Diana's companion's feet.

On another note, a special shout-out and thank you to R. Garriott, an amazing artist, and one of the truly good folks in the world.  If you want a visual treat, visit R.'s painting blog.  Need some digital photo editing tips? Check out R.'s Photoshop Tips for Artists.  Best explanation of "lossy" versus "non-lossy" formats I've heard.  Thanks, R! 

Saturday, April 25, 2009


16 x 20 o/c
Another week with little productive painting time, so I'm posting an older painting.  The copper pot is Mom's, the conch belonged to my grandmother. In retrospect, I'd take out the wood stand, but at the time I was more interested in the colors, and the light bouncing around.  

Sunday, April 19, 2009


Trixie, o/c, 8 x 10"
I've heard the definition of insanity is endlessly repeating the same action while expecting a different result.  Every day I'd darken Trixie, and then lighten her up. Then darken, then lighten.  I'm not sure I've got it yet, but I've got to stop.  My hope is that in the time it's taken me to paint this, sweet Trixie has been adopted!  This painting is a donation for the the Prince George's County SPCA/Humane Society, and my first submission to The Art for Animals Project.

Thank you to Sara Winters for sending me the Passionate Painting Award.  Please check out Sara's blog and see the magic she creates with a limited palette of 4 colors.  She is an inspiration. 
My 7 loves and passionate painting rules are listed on my March 25th post. I will name a few additional artists who inspire me:

As always, if you've just received this, or are "tagged out," no worries!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Seeing Red

 I've been working for a week and 1/2 on my first portrait (no not this one!) for Sheila and Carrie's Art for Animals Project. I thought I was close with my painting of Trixie, who's being fostered by the great folks at the Prince George's County SPCA/Humane Society in Maryland. I sent a jpeg to my friend who volunteers there, and she gently pointed out that Trixie is a dark brindle, and not the pale grey I seemed to have her.  Today I darkened her, lost the shape of things, made mud, tried to "fix" the background to help poor Trixie, and generally botched it up.  Which brings me to today's post of another stalled painting.  

In Progress: Oil on gessoed watercolor paper

This young model was trying her best to stay alert to no avail.  I tried my best to get some spark, but no luck.  No matter what I did,  the heavy-lidded bored expression crept back onto my canvas.  I brought the portrait back to my studio to finish, and started to think of her as a contemporary Turandot.  Do you know the famous opera poster of Puccini's mysterious, dark-eyed princess?  I decided I'd give my subject one of those knit hats with the ear flaps and tassles that teens wear, give her a nose ring, and intensify the red.  On a whim,  I blocked in the changes, and came to a roaring stop. I have no reference for the hat, and I'm thinking she looks more Ed Norton from the Honeymooners than Princess Turandot.  She's now holding court in a corner of my studio with the rest of my Where do I Go From Here stack, which sits next to the What on Earth was I Thinking pile. Tomorrow I'll tackle Trixie the foster pup again. (Wasn't Norton's wife named Trixie?)

Thanks so much to all of you who have been leaving such kind comments.  You galvanize me to keep painting.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


22 x 28"
Charcoal on BFK Rives

When I left the corporate publishing world to paint and sail, I hadn't anticipated the initial isolation of  the freelancer's life, or the pitfalls of my naive lack of a plan.  I still had my friends at National Geographic, but, heck, they were working! I'd divorced, moved farther from the bustle of D.C. to the relatively quiet town of Frederick, Maryland, and wondered if I hadn't made the biggest mistake of my life. In a scramble to make ends meet, I painted murals, did faux finishing, worked for a florist, served for a catering company, sold art at local fairs, cleaned houses, and delivered a sailboat from Grenada. One of the first artists I met in Frederick was Andrea Burchette.  I signed up for her watercolor class, expecting to brush up on my skills, and perhaps make a few pretty paintings.  We started out painting dead bugs in sumi-e ink, and ended with Itten, and full color theory.  Concepts I had learned in college finally made sense. Inspirational, spiritual, thoughtful, intensely present, Andrea has that gift of empowering people to be better. I've been through many critique sessions over the years, and hers were revelatory-- always respectful, and astute. When she was unable to continue teaching her classes at Montgomery College, and Frederick Community College, she recommended my name, and bolstered me through my new instructor jitters when I was hired.   I would not have made it through some of the challenges of the past 10 years without her friendship and mentorship.  I snapped reference photos for the portrait in her Church Street studio just before she and her husband packed up and retired to Southport, N.C. 
Do you have, or did you have a mentor who's helped you in your painting career?

Saturday, April 4, 2009


22" x 28"
Soft pastel

 In 2002-3 I spent an intensive year in the Post Baccalaureate program at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in Baltimore.  The post bacc candidates had studio space in a converted warehouse on the outskirts of campus.  The lighting was poor, the air circulation nonexistent, and the neighborhood none too safe.  None of that mattered because we were painting, and dogs were welcome!  This is Broadway, whom one of my studio mates, Dana, had rescued from life on the streets.  Broadway was a frequent visitor, and often kept me company into the wee hours.  True to her border collie roots, she would stare at me with intense focus until I put down my brushes to come play.