Monday, December 20, 2010


Done! Color version of Walkers on the Beach:

Weekend Wonders

Wonders - as in amazing.

An amazing dinner:

An amazingly bad shot - (but fortunately this allows me to show it on this very public site):

An amazingly beautiful hotel lobby:

An amazing gingerbread house that makes me want to visit Disneyland: (those of you who have visited can sing along - "In the tiki tiki tiki tiki tiki room, in the tiki tiki tiki tiki tiki room"):

I wish I had shots of the amazingly graceful ballet we attended, particularly the last scene before the intermission of the land of the snowflakes - just breathtakingly lovely.

On tap for this week: completing the color version of the walkers on the beach painting and preparing for Christmas VIV's (VERY IMPORTANT VISITORS!!!). Can't wait for Friday when they all arrive.

Have a wonderful week.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Gray is such a beautiful color

I'm lovin' those gray tones!

Black, white, and everything in between. I never would have thought that doing a value painting would be so helpful to me. It doesn't just help me to define my tones throughout the painting. It also helps me to discover problems I'm going to encounter throughout the painting.

Most important I think, is that it helps me to approach the painting more confidently. The value study is less intimidating. Not having to worry about color reduces the anxiety I feel when I begin a painting. When I'm not sure what to do, I just start painting what I know, either the very light tones or the blackest black. This information then leads me to figuring out more difficult areas.

This little painting is a commissioned piece that is quite small. I was a little nervous about it but after doing the value study, I'm excited to begin the color version.

Oh, and here is the color version of the last value study that I shared. It is a Centennial Trail piece, "The Three Islands Trailhead".

I'm also so excited about my week-end. I'm going downtown for dinner and fun with a couple of girlfriends tonight. Saturday, I'm being treated to the ballet! Life is good! I hope you have a wonderful weekend too.

Monday, December 13, 2010

A visit from my cookie weekend

Twas two weeks before Christmas
the kitchen was calling
I assembled utensils
as snow came a falling
(actually, it was a mild day with no snow)

The bowls were lined up
and the Kitchen Aid whirring
The dogs licked the floor
and the kitten was purring
(actually, the kitten is a cat and was upstairs hiding - but the
dogs helpfully licked the floor whenever needed)

The cookies like soldiers
were ready to go
my stomach was bloated
from sampling the dough
(actually, it was more like sampling whole cookies as they came
out of the oven, tasting the frosting, tasting a frosted cookie,
eating the ugly ones)

The crock pot was cooking
a wonderful dinner
after that much sugar
chili's always a winner

(the foil is there because my crock pot spits - very rude behavior for a crock pot. Crock pots are one of life's frustrations for me. When Norm and I were married, my brother David, gave us a little unassuming crock pot. I happily used it for a couple of years but then succumbed to the siren song of better, bigger, fancier crock pots. After acquiring my crock pot upgrade I gave away my first little crock pot and have forever regretted it. I didn't realize that my first crock pot was the best crock pot I would ever have. It even had the ability to go straight from being able to brown on the stove top to being plugged in. In 20+ years I have never been able to find that feature again. Every crock pot since has been adequate but has never measured up to that first crock pot. It's a lesson in life, I guess. Be happy and appreciate what you have. That grass that looks greener can't go from the stove top to the plug in and you will always regret trading it in. On the other hand, maybe the analogy isn't so good. There are some things in life that simply aren't working - so get rid of it and don't look back!)

Now the cookies are finished
and ready on plates
so how do I get rid of them?!!!!!!
they simply won't wait

(OK so I couldn't finish my poem properly to convey my ambivalence towards the rows and rows of cookies that are now on my counter. I want someone else to deliver them to people for me. Isn't that pathetic? Maybe I could just send an email to the intended recipients letting them know
their cookies are ready for pick up)

With that generous thought
I'll leave you so bright
Merry Christmas to all
and to all a good night

(OK, it was a silly rhyme. I DO hope you're feeling bright. Enjoy your week. If you're in the neighborhood, stop by for some cookies!)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Defining my values

As promised, the focus in the studio this week was values.

I am coming to greatly appreciate how important it is to have your values straight. I thought I would share some of my work for the week.

This Centennial Trail painting greatly benefited from my doing a value study. I had tried to paint it last week before my week-end workshop and had been displeased overall. There were things that worked, but the overall impression was that it was a muddy mess. I am not going to show it to you because I cut it up for scrap paper. (Great excuse, yes?) After the workshop I did a value study and then painted it again.

I was much more pleased with the results:

This is my value study of a photo I took on the trail in October. It was a somewhat blah photo. I really never intended to paint it. But after the workshop, I came to appreciate the complexity of the reflections and decided to give it a go:

If the painting is worth sharing, I will post it next week. Regardless, I have found my greater focus on values to be very helpful.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Reflecting on water

I took a watercolor workshop this weekend from an incredible watercolor artist, Stan Miller, who fortunately for me, lives in our area. The workshop focused on the visual properties of water and how to render them believably through the medium of watercolor.

The entire workshop was a validation of some of my thinking throughout the last several months. First of all, art is all about vision. What do I REALLY see? Not what do I think I see. Then, how do I reproduce that on paper? I have to be able to master my craft before I can manipulate it to use it as a tool to say anything.

Values, the lights and darks of a subject are critical. I know this so well, but it was good to have it hammered home throughout the weekend. We painted six paintings in two days. Only one, the last, was in color. This forced us to think only about values. Color and technique are the big seducers. It's so easy to be sidetracked by them. A good piece must be designed well, and the values must be correct. It's like building a house. Without a good foundations, it doesn't matter how many beautiful finishes you add. The thing still falls apart. Values are part of the foundation.

Where do I go from here? Back to the studio to practice what I learned. I know I need to do more value studies of each of my paintings. I need to practice, practice my craft and not be so worried about having something to frame every time I sit down to paint.

Old ideas. Thoughts I've considered many times before. But some ideas are worth repeating and reflecting on.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Seeing old friends

I started decorating for Christmas today.

As I went through each box, I was struck with a feeling of connection - a linking of the past years and the dear people in my life.

Like this old guy. Actually he's part of a pair that I swear is from my grandparents, and Norm swears is from his. Maybe it doesn't matter. One of them leaks sawdust but neither Norm nor I would ever think of throwing it away.

These make me think of my best bud, Judi, who gave me the cottage and my godparents who gave me the little santa/snowmen bingo carvings a long, long time ago.

This slightly bedraggled angel connects me to my mom, who created it and this Christmas tree many years ago.

These snowmen represent our family. Kate, Jeff, and I created the tall snowmen on sticks several years ago. I especially like Jeff's snowman because of his expression. Jeff created the large snowman in the middle, and Kate created the small snow people family, each of which represents one of us. This display always warms my heart.

When I see these stockings I think of my babies. I created them both while I was pregnant so they are very dear to me. Cy's has become an important addition.

This handsome fellow was hand carved by my sweetheart and painted by me. He always gazes out from our mantel.

And this is my Christmas Table, a tradition started by the aforementioned sweetheart several years ago. Incredibly, every day during December, I wake up to a new present on this table. I can't begin to say how blessed I feel to have someone treat me with such love and care, even after he has had to live with me for 27 plus years!

During this season I am so thankful for these memories and the precious relationships they represent. I am not worthy of the gift of the love of all of these people. Much like how we are not worthy of the gift of love of our Lord. But we have it and I am so thankful.

I hope that your holiday season is filled with joy.