Tuesday, December 30, 2014

About that Christmas Special...

8" x 10" oil painting
Can foreshortening take the blame for the too-small bottom-of-nose-to-chin? Um, no. That was me. I have a propensity to lengthen faces from the eyes to the bottom of the nose. 

Maybe I'm channeling Modigliani.

This year's Christmas special was a good one (aren't they usually?) and for once, I think that I understood a good 95% of what was going on! On an average Dr Who episode, I'm 50% in the dark.  

Monday, December 1, 2014

It Isn't Fitting

...on the scanner.
Also, it scanned in blurry. I'm glad I'm not selling this as a jpeg.
most of a 11" x 14" watercolor
Commissioned family portrait: Kids and dogs in New Zealand look just like kids and dogs here in Greenwich, New York. Except they crouch in front of yellow-er foliage.

Friday, November 14, 2014


watercolor on paper, 10" x 15"

Actually, I've never read James Fenimore Cooper's The Deerslayer, but The Last of The Mohicans is on my bookshelf. Several copies--I collect vintage versions. I hadn't read it until after I'd read Mark Twain's essay/review, and then the classic novel read more like a comedy (which it definitely wasn't meant to be.) 

Enjoyable, nonetheless.

This post is a tribute to my man, and his favorite day of the year, bar none. The first day of Rifle Season.

Go get 'em, Deerie.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Rock Climber Final

watercolor on paper, 8" x 8"
I need to paint more blue/orange compositions
(and more youthful, fresh faces.)
They make my paintbrush hand happy!

While on the topic of fresh: I'll probably post her as another example of my work on Etsy, and pull one of my staler pieces.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Rock Climber Progress Shot

watercolor on paper, 8" x 8"
On the Rocks*!
This is a progress shot--but I like where it's headed. Putting an unfinished work (or actually, one that I think is finished) on the computer screen is always a help to me. Things that looked alright on the drafting table pop right out as mistakes things that need further attention.

Some mouth adjustments, a bit of eyeball reworking, and a full head of hair ought to make this girl glow.


* The reference photo was taken by my son, on a rock climbing expedition at Minnewaska State Park Preserve in the beautiful Shawangunks (/SHON-gums/.  Really.) of Upstate New York. The "Gunks" are popular with rock climbers and throughout the summer and fall, if you look up in the right direction, you are apt to see a line of people clinging to the rock face.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Little Figurative Watercolor

watercolor on paper, about 7" x 10"
Right off the top: I painted this from someone else's photograph--which was in Yankee Magazine and is the work of Corey Hendrickson. It's wrong, I know. But it's just a study; I'm not signing it and peddling it for sale, and heck--only a couple of you ever see my work anyway, so I figure that I'm safe, even though I may be dastardly.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Sjogren's Syndrome and Pneumonia

painting by Anders Zorn

Funny title for an art blog posting, right?!? However, I'm thinking about my just-now-removed picc line, and how much more healthy I'm feeling these days.

Turns out I have had pneumonia--a weirder form than the usual, and most definitely a complication of Sjogren's Syndrome--for a long time. Like...years. And I still have a little bit of it in one lung that the daily infusions of antibiotics had nearly wiped it out. The doctor thinks that a few months of oral antibiotics will knock it out completely. Yay!

For me though, the real hip hooray has been the total and complete elimination of my debilitating, near-daily headaches! Life has been DIFFERENT these past 6 weeks.

I would urge anyone with Sjogren's Syndrome, and with tremendous headaches that their doctor does not believe to be sinus infection-related to press their case. Or find another doctor. I knew that I was having sinus headaches, but because my temperature was not as high as they thought it should be, and because I had very little (how shall I put this?) booger discharge (as would be expected of a person without juice-making capacity) several doctors did not accept my self-diagnosis.

To celebrate my picc line removal and headache elimination, I'm offering my entertaining (and yes, possibly idiotic. But entertaining, nonetheless) novel Kismet free from Amazon through 10-25-2014. Click and download and read and tell your book-loving friends! The cover of Kismet is a detail from an Anders Zorn painting. Love him. And I love life without a headache!

early Anders Zorn watercolor

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

New Selfie Watercolor Fright

9" x 12" watercolor on paper
Smirky McScewedface

Not exactly a mirror image (Incidentally, it's not a mirror image, because I painted myself from a photo. Next time I'll take the legitimate route.) but it kind of looks like me. I don't know where those eyebrows came from though. They didn't look so weird on the drafting table.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Watercolor Bad Hair Day

watercolor, about 7" x 9"
Eh. Funny how a piece that looked OK on the drafting board can look so wacked out on the screen. There's a roasted turkey drumstick tacked on her head, for sure! I swear that wasn't there before.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Mr. Moustache Watercolor Man

7" x 9" watercolor watercolor, cold press paper, based on a photograph by the incomparable Wilson Freeman*
I'm always trying for that perfect balance between carefree and careful. He's my satisfaction. 

*Drifting Focus, Wilson Freeman's photography blog, full of beautiful work.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Two New

In an effort to get some edumacation, I signed up for Robert O'Brien's one day landscape watercolor painting workshop in Vermont. It was a 2 hour drive from home, and Ron and I treated it as a little vacation--me and paint, and he and fishing. Or panning for gold?! I had a great time at the workshop, and I felt that it confirmed that my technique was valid. 

So I came home and started a watercolor landscape, from a photo I'd taken at the farm.

But I am really, really, not hepped up about painting landscapes, as much as I admire painted landscapes. This thing is dull, dull, dull and uninspired. Maybe it needs a red canoe.

Today, after tweaking the dull landscape, I pulled up a photographic portrait from Wilson Freeman's beautiful blog, and I set out to paint it a la Citizen Sketcher's annual Edgar Allen Poe experiment. Here's a progress shot.
Loose and easy, no initial pencil sketch. I am way more interested in portraiture than landscapture, it seems. Stay tuned to see how this guy comes out!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Freckle Face

5" x 8" watercolor in sketchbook
Yep, freckles are fun.
At least--they are when you're flicking them off a 
stiff fan brush onto a cute face.

One day I'll learn to line up the eyes. 
All of my painted portraits seem to be holding the top of their 
heads at an angle while their mouths are on the level. Bendyheads. 
I never notice it until I scan the work and see it on screen.
Yikes! The longer I stare at her, the higher her eye rises!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Hay "Fever"

There is some painting in progress at the moment, but it's oil and it's a struggle at every stage, and hopefully, I'll scan it in and show it in the not-too-distant future. However, it's summer, and summer means HAY opportunities at every three day stretch of rain-less weather.
my ride

Ron's ride. Can you spot some inequity here!?
(Extra points if you spot Ron.)

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Another Little Gouache Experiment

paper size about 5" x 7"
Just another random face--with LOTS of textured paper showing through. There is definitely a Happy Medium for the "texture showing through" thing. A little too much in the top half of his face, I'd say.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Pulling Back to Plunge Ahead

9" x 12" watercolor on paper

Although I'm still excited about the little gouache faces on handmade, colorful paper scraps, and still planing a few more to the series (mainly, because I have a few more scraps left. When they're gone, I might make more,) I took a time out. Here's the result. 

It's not just a face!  

Instead of zeroing in on the face, I pulled back my sights, drew, and then painted this scene from a photo I'd taken of Ron in the barn. Really--he does stick out his tongue and kind of bite on it when he's concentrating.

And HEY! This is my 250th post. I've stuck with this practicing program for a while now.
For my reward, I am taking a one day workshop with Robert O'Brien at the end of August.

Friday, July 25, 2014

And One More

about 5" x 7" gouache on handmade paper
Today's gouache experiment is from a self portrait of and by Anders Zorn, the Swedish watercolorist and oil painter. (Coincidentally, James Gurney posted about Zorn and his incredible self-confidence or...boastful pride? today. Also coincidentally, I chose an Anders Zorn painting for the cover of my quirky, funny, comic drama "Kismet," photo and link to Amazon up there on the left.)

Again, I started with a piece of the wrinkly, highly textured handmade/homemade recycled paper. The color made me think of this Zorn portrait and I set out to paint my take on it, super-limited "Zorn palette" of el cheapo gouache paints at the ready. Not that he used bottom of the line materials, but he did use a very limited palette of colors.

As the paper color was already the color of Zorn's jacket, I used the surface a la Coles Phillips, the fashion illustrator, who's "fade away girls" decorated countless ads and magazine covers of the early 1900's. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Hey! This is fun!

gouache on paper, paper about 5" x 7" 
Here's another quick and dirty little gouache sketch, done from a reference photo, on paper that I made out of other paper, my kitchen blender, some old window screens, some wooden framing bits, and a couple of dish pans. It's very wrinkly; I don't know why I decided to paint on it. Probably because...color.

Anyway, I do like the quirky result.

And I'm having fun with the gouache! Gouache that I swore I'd never use again, several times over. I wonder how much of a difference better materials would make in the process and in the outcome--the paints used here were a set of Reeves that I picked up for under $100. And that was for 24 tubes!

Without a doubt, smooth paper would make for better results, too, Maybe some nice, richly-colored pastel paper? And if I really wanted to get serious, I could use more than the one brush.

More gouache to come....

Friday, July 18, 2014


Gouache has been my Kryptonite.
I couldn't get a handle on it, and couldn't understand 
why anyone would or could, after having some very unhappy attempts with the medium.

But...Robert Moylan
I must try again.
So in a real "What Have I Got To Lose" attitude, 
I got out some scraps of handmade recycled paper I made with the first graders, and let loose. 
each scrap roughly 5" x 7"
"Why the handmade paper instead of something smooth?" 
you might ask? "Something normal?"

obviously, (or maybe not so) from online photo refs

I have no idea. 

and in this case, from a selfie.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Little Departure

watercolor on paper, 9" x 8"
A couple of sweet teacups came into my possession 
after Liz's baby shower. 
(They were pretty little favors, 
each holding a tiny herb or flower.) 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Another Old Lady

watercolor, about 7" x 8"
Another "imagined color" watercolor based on a vintage photograph. See the drippy tendrils and also the blue "river" that leads from her shoulder to the bottom of the page? I was trying to make drips because I like the way they look on paintings that I admire by painters who have that wonderful way of marrying free-wheeling-whimsical and masterful representational technique. I didn't do it very well. There's always next time.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Granny Time

7" x 8" watercolor
Granny or Auntie? I don't know. The hazy old photo reference for this was amongst the bunch in my "Family" file, and it was fun to add color (and a slightly more pleasant expression) to this ancestor.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

But This Came First

9" x 12" watercolor on paper

She's been on the floor for a few days (I'm neither very organized or very neat.) and sort of half kicked under the easel. I had started her before deciding to scrap it and work up a second painting of Cassidy at her graduation from FIT(The second version being my last post, the hot press disappointment/lesson in art materials.)

This one happened quickly and messily and you know what? It's a lot fresher and nicer than the belabored one. I think I may go back into it for a few small fixes and try to KEEP IT to a few small fixes to keep it light and snappy.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Hot Press Hot Mess

10" x 10" watercolor on paper
This was an experiment in frustration: shiny smooth hot press paper! Never again. (Of course, times in the past I've said "never again," and again has come, and it hasn't been all bad.) But...

The paint didn't want to stay on the paper. When it did, it pooled in the "wrong" places. Argh. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

portrait practice

Because if I'm going to be staring intently at a face
in order to make a portrait study,
it might as well be a face that's easy on the eyes.

Yes--a bit of fanart. Watercolor, 8" x 10"

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Game of Logos

I've been working up a logo for our farm, which was instigated by my step-son's auction "win" of a website setup. The woodcut look has always been a favorite of mine, so I sketched out some ideas and carved this one from a couple of small Soft Cut blocks. 

It was not the consensus of those involved that this was a winner, but I like it (the cleaned-up version, which this is not) and I can imagine printing it on a T shirt, maybe. Someday.

Here's the version of the barn that I actually prefer, and subbed in at one point. It's lighter, so color could be layered under the black.

I started watching Game of Thrones.

I watch very, very little TV, to the point that I have been seriously considering dropping the super-basic TV package from my internet-phone-television package to save money. (More on this topic in a "coming soon" post!) I did read the first book of this series a long time ago, and I've been hearing about it for ages, and it turned out I could request it, a season at a time through inter-library loan...

It's not really a waste of time if I keep my sketchbook on my lap and use it as a reason to practice drawing, is it!?

Monday, May 19, 2014

Edible Art Distraction

Photo: Mom's cake, the cake Mom made.

Squirting icing is fun, but I can't wait to get back to that unfinished painting of Owen that's been on my easel for over a week now.

Photo: At the baby shower. We're all in blue!
Scene from the baby shower (not MINE! OH NO!) that has nothing to do with art. (Well, I did knit my sweater.)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

40's High School Hairdo

photo of my 8" x 10" oil  from an old family photo
The colors are invented, because the photo ref was in 
black and white, but I kept them soft and sweet 
because Mom's that kind of a gal.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

That's an....Interesting Frame

5" x 7" oil on unprimed canvas
from a photo reference
When the self portrait became so depressing that face-down was the only thing I could do to save my sanity, I painted someone else on the back. Strange stuff--unprimed, coarse canvas! Several times during the process, I wiped her out. A rather beautiful, subtle, soft portrait would appear after each rub-out, as the residue paint was forced into the weave of the canvas*. 

...which I then repainted into this maybe not-so-subtle and soft woman. 

*This might be worthy of some further experimentation.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

From a Vintage Photo

9" x 12" watercolor on paper

I painted this lady from a sepia toned reference photo. Rather than start right in with color, as I usually do, I painted a light grisaille with just the black, much watered down, then added veils of color. I'm thinking about adding some Victorian?Edwardian wallpaper patterning to the background before I call her done.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Portrait Practice

oil portrait from reference photo, 8" x 10"
Not much to say, other than I'm practicing whenever I can. I keep flipping between oil paint and watercolors, depending on my mood, and the light, and how many afternoons I can devote to it. If I know I'll have a couple or three afternoons in a row, I'll start an oil sketch; if I think I'm headed down to the farm the next day, I might set out to sketch and paint with watercolors.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Simultaneous Switching

Oil Paints.
Lots of differences in the way they're used, and lots of similarities.

Liz, 8" x 10" watercolor on vellum bristol
I'm going to go back and extend her black clothing a bit so this looks more like shoulders and less like a couple of random triangles.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

I Do Love Color

8" x 10" oil 
I've fit a few small portrait sketches into my afternoons of late. Definitely more fun than dusting, doing the taxes or the grocery shopping, or chipping the ice off the driveway!

I had been using water-mixable oil paints until this sketch, when I unearthed some oil paints that had been socked away a long time ago. This guy was done with oil colors and water-mixable white. The two paints seemed to work together alright.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Rare Progress Shot!

Yes! I don't often post progress shots, but it's been a not-normal day. In the midst of my high school Sculpture class, in the midst of my undoubtedly fascinating demo of how to sculpt ears in clay, word got out that our school was closing early. Snow, sleet, ice and all that.
The resulting student enthusiasm might not have been for my ear demo.
So here I am with an afternoon and a picture that needs some paint. All good! 

Friday, March 7, 2014

Just One More on That Theme

7" x 10" watercolor on paper
Funny how just a teeny little mistake (or, OK, a few such) can make a likeness not a likeness. I call her Lady SomewhatlikeMary.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Season Finales and Their Heros

9" x 12" watercolor on vellum bristol
I'd meant to finish and post The Hero of Highclere right after the final Downton of the season, but then my mind got hijacked by Wendy's suggestion that we go down to the city on Sunday to see the winter season finale performance of the New York City Ballet
It was a great day--cold, but Wendy's superior city driving and navigational abilities meant that we gracefully slid right in to a parking spot below Lincoln Center, and didn't spend much time freezing on the streets. 
To top it off, my fantasy spare husband, Ask, had a lead role. (Maybe in the ballet world they are not called "lead roles," but for all intents and purposes, that's what it was. And he was magnificent.)

Friday, February 28, 2014

A Sketch in the Corner

Owen Bedraggled

This is just about the size that it is, on a corner of paper that is a portrait of someone else. For fun, I eschewed the small, round brushes until the very end and the irises, choosing to render 99% of this guy with a quarter inch flat. It can be done!

The gray shadows aren't really there, but some light must have sneaked by the scanner.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Colorization of Uncle Abner

The old photo of Uncle Abner
(AKA: The photo of Old Uncle Abner)

The 9" x 12" watercolor on paper, creative color

Sunday, February 23, 2014

a Better, Better Benedict

It's funny, how a painting on the drafting table looks one way, and then, on the screen, after scanning, it can look so different. 
Seeing the last post's "Benedict" (and OH how I hate to show this again!)...
 ...washed out and pale, blaaaaah...

prompted me to throw some more paint at him.
(Maybe too much, in the hair. I ought to try for more transparency.)
about 10" x 14", watercolor on an old, textured, ivory mat board
Still not great, but Better.
Thanks for reading.

Friday, February 14, 2014

A Better Benedict--for Juli

watercolor on a scrap of mat board, 10" x 14"

While this looks even less like the actual subject than my last post's pencil sketch, it is a little more lively! (And I couldn't bear for that last sketch to be the thing that pops up on my blog.)

One of those quick & dirty, fun watercolor works--
as usual, with too much chin.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Fighting Lighting

drawn with my hunky, don't-even-try-to-add-details, graphite crayon
I've had some success in painting oil sketches based on the works of artists that I admire. I haven't posted any, because it just wouldn't be right. I have attempted to translate that success into painting friends and family members, using available photos as reference. 

The translation has been a fail. 

But as I was watching Sherlock the other night, as usual, thinking about the portrait sketches I might make, later, from paused scenes, it hit me that--Dramatic Lighting!--is important. My photo references, taken with a cheap camera that refuses NOT to flash with every exposure, is thwarting my efforts!

Most of his face hit the paper almost magically, very quickly and without much effort. However, that eye had to be erased and repositioned, and as you can see, the magic had timed out.

Maybe, with concerted effort, I can learn to turn off the flash.