Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Angel on High

Soft Pastel
22 x 26"

This is Angel. He was part of a feral litter born to a neighborhood cat that no one could catch.  One day I heard a kitten screaming, searched the yard, checked under the deck, but saw nothing. After an agonizing day searching, I finally crawled under the deck and looked down a slender standing pipe with a flashlight.  A tiny screaming face looked back. A fallen Angel.  He was only a few weeks old, and had wedged himself so he couldn't move his paws. In desperation, I lowered a rope with a rag tied to the end. He grabbed onto the rag with his teeth, and I pulled him out.  He was one wet, stinking, screaming kitten: scared but otherwise unharmed.  From that day on Angel was my constant companion until he passed away at age 14 in 2006.   

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Art for Animals, Lemonade and more Passion!

 Sheila Tajima and Carrie Jacobson, the talented and generous women who have launched the Art for Shelter Animals Project , sent this lovely thank you for my donation of a few dollars to help the cause. They have a unique spin on linking visual artists with local shelters. Sheila and Carrie are energetic in their support of animals in need of homes, and in their support of their fellow artists. Thank you both!

Speaking of energy and drive, the indomitable Cathyann Burgess, has sent along the Lemonade Award given to bloggers who show gratitude and a positive attitude.  Cathyann is a prolific and talented painter from Virginia whose site has some of the most lovely springtime daffodils, not to mention my favorite e.e. cummings quote.  I'm honored, Cathyann.  Thank you.

Phenomenal father and painter Tom Pohlman zapped the Passionate Painting Award back my way this weekend.  One look at Tom's work, and you know this man is passionate about life. He is the brushwork king, and always has a light-hearted word of support for his fellow painters. Thank you, Tom.  You are a shining light.
(please see previous post for my passionate painting award list....)

The Lemonade Award rules:
1. Post the logo on your blog
2. Nominate at least 7 blogs that show great gratitude and/or attitude
3. List and link your nominator in your post
4. List and link your nominees in your post, and let them know they're recipients

The Lemonade Award goes to the following artists with generous spirits:

Dear recipients: again - no worries if you are "tagged out."  : -)

This just in !  Also received the Passionate Painting Award from the fantastic painter Douglas Hoover !  Am humbled. Thank you so much.  Doug's glowing paintings of life on the N. Carolina coast are superb. His harbor, boat and beach scenes are a vacation for the soul. 

 I'd also like to say if you love cats, and great photography, please visit Doug's friend Teressa Williams' site and see her cats of Ocracoke Island.  They are stunning.  

Friday, March 27, 2009

Live Sketch 2

Oil on gessoed paper
11" x 14"

I lucked out, and was actually close enough to the model for this studio session to see into the shadows.  My goal was to develop an orange/green/violet triad, and to paint the air around her as much as the features.  She was the most pleasant woman.  Her eyes shut by the end of the session, but she was still smiling.  She seemed to radiate light.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Thank you!

Wow!  I've gotten my first blog award thanks to the very supportive and excellent painter Dean H. at Deano's Den ( Gallery).   Dean's great passion for paint and for depicting animals, landscape, still life, and the figure in glowing, sculptural brushstrokes is only surpassed by his great heart. Thanks, Dean!  The award, created by Kim Ratigan, requires the recipient to list 7 things we love, and to pass the award along to another 7 passionate painters.

Addendum: Thank you to dear Irit Bourla for also sending me this award. Irit is a self-taught painter and travel agent who paints colorful people and animals.  I am honored, Irit.

In addition to a current affair with Winsor Newton Deep Turqouise, I love:
  1. laughing till my sides hurt.  It makes everything else feel better;
  2. sailing, or any activity on, near, or in salt water;
  3. the cool hush of cathedrals, libraries and deep forests;
  4. the excitement of busy airports; exploring new places;
  5. time with friends;
  6. animals, and cuddling with my 4-legged pals;
  7. flowers, books, clean sheets and summer melon.

I'm sending the Passionate Painting Award on to:
(and if you're "tagged out," no worries! )

Monday, March 23, 2009

Fading Light

18 x 22"
soft pastel

Rough day.  I eventually got to the studio, painted for two hours, and wiped it out.  I know it happens, but I still find it distressing.  My hat's off to all of the daily painters who paint so beautifully, and so quickly.  I'm posting a pastel study that's preparatory for a larger oil.  This is my mom, who lives with me.  She was diagnosed with Alzheimer's three years ago.  I've finally taken leave from teaching art at the community college to care for her full time. Each day brings a new challenge. Some days I just feel flattened. And at a loss for words.  : -)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Nana Richards

Annie Richards
Soft Pastel
22" x 28"

This is my Nana Richards, my mother's grandmother.  She was Welsh, and moved to the U.S. as a young woman with my great-grandfather.  I based this on an old tinted photo from my mother's stash of keepsakes.  I've heard she came to visit when I was a newborn, and insisted on taking me out for an "airing in the pram" in a blinding snowstorm.  I was also told that she had a strong personality, and consequently great-granddad spoke little, and drank a lot of gin.  Some hat, huh!  

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Live Sketch

Live Model
oil sketch
11" x 14"

Moving models are a particular challenge to paint.  And by moving, I mean anyone breathing. Too often, I'm chasing subtle shifts in light and expression all over my canvas, forgetting the lesson to simplify and grab hold of the essence. The frustrating thing about sketching live is the time limit.  The great thing about sketching live is the time limit.  I can only "tweak" things for so long before the sitting's over.  Usually, I just pray I've learned something to take to the next painting.  It was heartening to read that Sargent would pace back and forth in front of his easel swearing, and that Degas' family would wrestle paintings away from him because he never thought they were done.  


"Tandem Leap"
14" x 17"

These were white daffodils from the garden last spring.  The two flowers were swaying in the breeze, and reminded me of sky divers linking arms for a jump, or dancers swaying to a private song.  I've had a bad case of wanderlust today--a warning sign that a major case of Spring Fever is about to hit.    
Happy St. Patrick's Day!   

Monday, March 16, 2009


15" x 11" 

The great friend to bloggers, and wonderful painter, Edward Burton, mentioned in a recent post that he and his wife are rosarians--serious cultivators and admirers of the rose.  I love painting roses, and struggle to do them justice. The transparent petals, velvety soft and sharp-edged all at once. They really are a miraculous flower.  The Burton's garden with 45 rose bushes must be a sight to behold.  Imagine!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Studio Pals

photos: Devlin (top) poodle 
         Callie, shitzu mix

I've been busy today with family, and with letting my studio pals in and out, and in and out, and...well, anyone who shares their lives with active pups knows what I mean.  Devlin (top) came from the wonderful no-kill shelter Hearts United in Nebraska.  I'm not sure where he got his unusual name, but since he was 3 when I adopted him, I didn't think it would be right to change it.  The shelter docs had amputated one of his hind legs because of an injury.  He gets around like gang-busters anyway.  Happy guy that he is, I probably could have called him Tripod, and he wouldn't mind.  

Callie came to join the family a year later from the Prince George's County SPCA.  A friend of mine is a volunteer there, and was fostering Callie for the weekend.  The rescue group  labeled her a shitzu mix.  After two years of her joyous company, I can confidently say the other part of the mix is: kamakazi/squirrel stalker/bird catcher/biscuit thief/snuggle monster. 

Friday, March 13, 2009

Look Up

Study: features
5" x 5"
oil on gessoed paper

The eyes at an angle, looking into light, posed a challenge. How to keep them properly shadowed and in the socket, yet feel illuminated and wet, all within a relatively narrow value range. Like most painters I know, I've spent a good deal of my life studying the works of others - past masters like John Singer Sargent and John White Alexander, or contemporary painters like Burton Silverman or Jeremy Lipking --wondering about paint handling and mediums, light direction, the colors in shadows, and what gives a particular painting life. In the end, it isn't until I tuck the mental analysis away and just paint that things begin to come together.
Thanks to my first blog followers, things are looking up!

Thursday, March 12, 2009


study: features
5" x 5"
oil on gessoed paper

The wonderful painter and instructor Ed Ahlstrom recommends that painting students continue the practice of close-focus studies of features beyond the classroom. Excellent advice.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Up Close

5" x 5"
oil on gessoed paper

I had lunch with a good friend today who asked if the last post was cropped or the full image. Good question! These studies of facial features are the full image. I was zeroing in on the parts of the face I wanted to practice painting. Keeping the format small and intimate, I could concentrate on developing skin tones and color mixing without worrying about the dreaded "rest of the picture." Thanks, Clare!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


study: features
5 x 5"
Oil on Gessoed Paper

I've been wrestling all day with understanding the technical side of blogging and search engines. Whew, do I have a lot of catching up to do. So I'm posting a study that I did a while ago to remind myself to smile.

Monday, March 9, 2009


Oil on gessoed paper

This is Darla who was a foster pup at PGSPCA. She was hanging out with the Townsend pack until she went to her forever home. Pam Townsend took some amazing photos that she graciously let me use for reference. Thanks, Pam!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

"Bloom Where You Are"

White Rose in Window
7" x 10"
oil on gessoed paper

This is my first post.  I'm a life-long painter, but I'm new to the blog party.  I'm trained as a classical realist, and decamped the corporate publishing world to paint full time fourteen years ago. Life, death and health intruded, as they do, and I'm now finding my way again.  Have been studying with Ed Ramsburg for the past year, and having great fun painting abstracts in acrylic.  Ed's critiques coupled with the freedom and challenge I've found in non-objective painting have informed my representational painting.  At least I like to think so.  Thank you for stopping in!