Saturday, February 28, 2009

Thai hot 2

Man, it's so annoying when your computer's in the "hospital" for a "disc operation."  I'm having to use The Husband's computer to do the photo editing and the blogging, and he has all these obnoxious setups where if you accidentally let the cursor go into a corner of the screen, all these things pop up and everything sort of rearranges itself and you don't know where your stuff went. I hate it.

I went to set up something new for last night's still life, but the peppers didn't want to be ignored. "Paint us again!" they cried. I decided on this one to go one small step closer to abstraction. There are many ways to make something look more abstract (and this is something I'm obsessed with learning about). In this case, things that were deliberate were: little or no variation in the background, shadows lighter value than in real life and less variation in them, fewer brush strokes on each pepper, slightly unrealistic colors, simplified forms with straighter lines, funky format.

I feel like I can do good realism and I can do good abstraction (and I love them both), but I don't know how to meld them and come up with semi-abstract (semi-realism), like O'Keeffe or Euan Uglow or Diebenkorn or Stuart Shils or Casey Klahn or Wolf Kahn (notice how those last two rhyme--huh--hi, Casey!) or many others who know or knew so well. I hope to someday learn to do it. 

More art on my website:

Friday, February 27, 2009

Thai hot

Every time we go to a Thai restaurant, I order regular (i.e., fairly hot) and The Husband orders "Thai hot," which comes with slices of fresh hot chilies piled high.

More art on my website:

Thursday, February 26, 2009


Yesterday's lovely alla prima model.

More art on my website:

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Master lock

Aaaahh... and sometimes the art gods are kind. I thought this was going to be really hard, because it's a "mechanical" object and therefore more precision would be required than for, e.g., a piece of fruit. But it turned out to be surprisingly easy and fun to do. My favorite parts are the U-shape of the metal in front, and also the little loop in the shadow in the very back--which is the shadow of the key that's in the lock.

More art on my website:

Monday, February 23, 2009

Bosc study

Wow, the art gods are seriously whacking me over the head with going back to learn the basics again and again! This one (you may notice it looks different than my usual stuff) started out as a second attempt at a realistic treatment of a Bosc pear. It began great and was basically finished really fast...but I was so enjoying the feel of painting and of the brush and the oils that I...uh, kept going. And going. And pretty soon I'd ruined it and it was just a great big pile o' mush. Kind of pretty-colored mush, but a ball o' mush nonetheless. And also I'd been getting hungrier and hungrier and hadn't wanted to stop for a snack.

I was going to toss it but I got so angry at the time I'd wasted and the fact that I hadn't responded appropriately (i.e, stopped) when it was perfectly finished...mad at it, mad at myself, mad at painting in general...that I just took a deep breath finally, and wiped it. 

And then (another lesson ignored) instead of getting a snack and coming back, I decided to redo it. Aaaghhh!! No wonder the gods are desperate to get me to hear them, eh? I wiped that too, then was so hungry I went and got a quick snack (at midnight), then came back and FORCED myself to take a good, objective look at where I'd gone wrong. And in this better frame of mind, it turned out to be pretty simple: in the enjoyment of pushing around the paint, I'd forgotten my original mission of keeping shadows more transparent and lights more opaque. 

So I decided to do a super-fast study of the pear to remind myself of these things and only these things. Ten minutes later, this is what I had (overlayed on the wiped linen). I kinda like it.

Moral (one of them, anyway): don't paint while hungry.

More art on my website:

Sunday, February 22, 2009


Bosc is surely one of the more elegant pear varieties that I know, and I couldn't resist trying to paint one. (The computer/camera combo just isn't showing this off the way it should, unfortunately. The colors in life are richer and more varied.)

Why must we learn the same lessons over and over again? (When) will they ever stick? I was trying for straight realistic, and this pear wanted to be painted more stylized, more abstracted, just to show off its colors and perfect shape. It simply didn't care much about looking absolutely realistic. I fought for the longest time before I finally (once again) learned the lesson to let it be the way it wanted to be. I wasn't being very zen about it. But when I finally gave in and let go of the resistance, it emerged to shine in all its glory.

I was realizing lately that in spite of the bad paintings that still happen and still will happen, I have learned so very much since last summer when I decided to follow in the illustrious (sorry, bad pun) footsteps of all the wonderful Daily Painter bloggers. As my art teacher says, Hm, amazing how painting can teach you about painting.

I also wanted to say how great this art blogging experience has proved to be for me. I had been wary of adding yet one more thing to my to-do list every day, but the virtual art community I have found is so welcoming, receptive, and encouraging. It's the next best thing to all of us sharing one big studio (and while fun, that would get really messy...). The other day I was thinking, Geez, what are we, just a bunch of cheerleaders for each other?  Yeah, well, what's wrong with that? Rah rah rah, people!

More art on my website:

Saturday, February 21, 2009


A marvelous ripening plantain. I like how sturdy they are.


More art on my website:

Thursday, February 19, 2009


This is Sarah, a lovely young model and also an artist. She had great poise. This is from yesterday's alla prima class.

More art on my website:

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Intermission with Cats

No art posting today--did a portrait in alla prima class today which will have to wait 'till tomorrow for daylight to take the photo.

In the meantime, here's a Kitty Interlude. 

(That's Jellyroll, my upside-down boy, on the top of the couch...he's upside-down a lot of the time...really...he's kind of bizarre; my beloved Halfie in my arms whom we had to put to sleep not that long ago; Random the big black ornery cat; and Miss Lemon the sandy-colored one. The only one missing in that pic is little Cleo, who must've been off hunting spiders when The Husband took the pic a few months ago.)

More art on my website:

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Small copper pot with pins

This is a miniature pot that is from India, I believe. I have painted it twice before. I picked it up to consider using it as a subject last night, then thought I might like to use it on its side, and when I turned it, some pins slid out (who knows why they were stored there). I thought that was just perfect, and didn't move a single pin, just righted the little copper vessel and painted.

You know how in every painting, there's a point where you think there's no way the painting is going to work...well, this time it was more like, throughout the first 90% of the painting time, I was pretty sure it wasn't going to work at all. I then got truly frustrated and figured what the heck, it's not working anyway, and kind of lightly but somewhat wildly swiped at the pins and top edges of the vessel, and boom!, all of a sudden it was clear that the whole thing would pull together. Sometimes it pays to get so frustrated that you start doing radical things, like scraping part of it, or swiping at part of it, or otherwise mutilating it. Good things may be born of this frustration/desperation.

More art on my website:

Monday, February 16, 2009

Yellow pear 3

Pears make great subjects. A single pear subtly changes color every day, looks different from every angle, smells good, and you can eat it when you're tired of painting it.

More art on my website:

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Red clogs

My old, beaten-up clogs. This was a much rougher surface than I usually use, and I didn't like it much. (I usually use Yarka extra-fine linen. This was "fine," as opposed to "extra fine," and the difference was laughable. It was like the difference between the texture of silk vs. burlap. Okay, that's a little exaggerated, but it was close! They need at least one step in between.)

More art on my website:

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Untitled 34

A small pastel abstract from a few days ago (last night instead of painting, I went to a documentary showing about the Dalai Lama.) I was really pleased with how this turned out. It's more vibrant in person (as are all pastels...sigh).

More art on my website:

Friday, February 13, 2009

Leaf 4

Well, there was one more old leaf I found in my pile of objets. I was glad to see it, but painting it was extremely frustrating. It's hard to determine, in a translucent subject, what exactly is light vs. shadow vs. reflected light. Like so many things in painting, it's something that seems like it should be pretty much straightforward, but once you start doing it, you realize that in fact it is not so cut-and-dried. In the end I was happy with it, though.

More art on my website:

Thursday, February 12, 2009


A lovely young guy, Robbie. I'd seen him at a restaurant where he's a busboy and asked him if he might want to model for our alla prima class. Lucky for us--he said yes.  Buoyed by this, I will considering "pimping" some more alla prima models in the future for my art teacher. :)

More art on my website:

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Yellow pear 2

A nice, plump, friendly pear that called my name at the grocery store.

More art on my website:

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


A little pastel sketch which started out as a pure abstract and ended up evolving into a small mountain.

More art on my website:

Monday, February 9, 2009

Small scissors

Back to the painting knife, here. This one was less hair-pullingly-tortuous than the last knife painting. Dare I even say fun? No, I daren't.

More art on my website:

Tagged / Loriann's Vista

I've been tagged by wonderful artist Loriann Signori, who paints this scene or one like it every day, come snow, sunshine, or frozen fingers. With her permission I borrowed a photo of one of her typical vistas and did my own take on it, hence the title of this work, Loriann's Vista.

By the rules of tagging, I tell you who tagged me, then I will tell you 5-7 things about myself...and then tag 5-7 more artists and let them know about it in a comment I leave on their blog. It's a fun way to get more blog traffic love spread around. :)

Here goes: 

1. I can't tolerate closed shoes. I wear clogs or sandals 95% of the time. (When it's cold, I add socks to the clogs scenario.)

2. I have severe arachnophobia. Although it's not really fear per se, but a primal disgust that I feel upon glimpsing a spider. My youngest cat, my little Cleo, EATS spiders when I call her, making her by the far the most specialized and appreciated cat I've ever had.

3. I'm the author of the novel Seducing the Rabbi, as well as another novel about orchids which is still looking for a publisher.

4. I used to do capoeira.

5. I watch science and nature documentaries far more than Hollywood movies.

6. I was born with black hair, then that fell out and I had auburn hair as a toddler, which gradually turned blond for childhood, which then gradually turned brown, and is now turning gray.

7. When I was little I'd always say, "I'm never going to have kids. I'd rather have kittens!" which of course would amuse adults to no end, who would always say the same thing: "You'll change your mind, dear."   I have four cats and zero children. Now who was right?

Artists I'm tagging (I'm trying to choose different ones than last time):

S.P. Goodman
Sherrie York
Trevor Lingard
Kathy Weber

More art on my website:

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Trees for Casey

Those of you who know Casey Klahn's work (and in his case, to know is definitely to admire) will get a kick out of this little work and its title. He's been doing what he calls Tree School, and I think I had some "tree school" wandering around my subconscious as I did this--not specific guidelines like he offers, but perhaps just the idea of trees... This was really fun, especially as I often do my own abstract work quite geometrically, and this was about curves and movement.

More art on my website:

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Oh my darling...



More art on my website:

Friday, February 6, 2009

Red pear 2

A lovely reddish pear The Husband brought home from the store.

More art on my website:

Thursday, February 5, 2009

James the Snake Hunter redux

Here's our favorite Ozzie model, James the snake hunter (really, that's his profession) again, this time avec chapeau. What a great model he is, and I was really thrilled with the way this turned out.

More art on my website:

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A little cloud

...on this marvelously sunny day we've had here.

More art on my website:

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Garlic...and shadow box setup

Tried out a new surface last night, a double-oil-primed linen panel from Ray-Mar. I liked it in some ways, didn't in others (as is typical of everything, from painting surfaces to life in general).

Wonderful artists and blogger-friends Loriann Signori and Casey Klahn asked me about my still life setup. A picture is worth... so here's a photo rather than a detailed and confusing explanation.

The silvery thing in the right-corner foreground is the metal spotlight (cheap adjustable artist's spotlight into which I put a daylight-simulation bulb). The shadow box is, as you can see, the essence of low-tech: just cardboard with a couple of sides ripped off. A lot of people use cloth for their backdrops; I use paper, because it gives me a cleaner shadow shape and simply because I tend to enjoy painting just the object without any other subject matter (e.g., cloth folds) to distract the eye. I ordered a bunch of cardstock paper in tons of different colors for the backdrop colors. I also really enjoy changing the color of the paper on the sides to give interesting colors in the reflected light (wish I could claim this idea, but it's extrapolated from the marvelous book How To See Color and Paint It by Arthur Stern, which I believe is out of print; it cost me $60 a few years ago on Amazon and I just checked and it's now about $90. I only ever did a few of the exercises in the book--it's nearly all exercises--but the concepts are so exciting and become ingrained after even just a couple of exercises. If you're curious and don't want to buy it, try to have your public library order it from an interlibrary loan. I get to borrow TONS of painting books that way!).

The single light source is extremely important in order to produce unambiguous shadows, both form and cast. I'd love to someday try painting with only north light, but my studio has skylights and windows on every side--!--which is a lovely thing, but bad for painting. Because of this, I only paint at night so that I can control the direction of the light source.

To the right of my shadow box, you can see how I impatiently just shove potential subject-matter objects and already-painted objects over on the countertop. Recognize any of those? :) I also love how the little wooden guy has ended up sort of saluting the clay models over there.

More art on my website:

Monday, February 2, 2009

What color is your parachute, er, avocado?

What color is an avocado?

This was challenging and really interesting; under the spotlight, all kinds of colors were present, though very little green, to my surprise (this was the "black" kind of avocado, not the greener variety).

More art on my website:

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Lemon that was not "a lemon"

I live for painting experiences like this one (in fact, it may be the very first one). I looked at the subject, thought about what I wanted to do, concentrated on keeping the shadows transparent and warm and the lights opaque, and swoosh swoosh swoosh, in half an hour it was done. I stood there in front of the easel, so startled and disbelieving that it could have gone so easily and smoothly.

And then, of course, I decided it couldn't possibly be true, and so I had to go and mess with some of the shadow that had been perfect, and then it took me 15 or 20 minutes to get things back to good again. 

It was a fantastic painting experience. I'm not naive enough (not anymore, anyway) to think it'll go that way "from now on," but it was like a glimmer of hope that at least sometimes it can go well and feel so satisfying.

I read somewhere about a famous artist and art teacher (maybe someone out there will remember who) who "distrusted anything that came too easily." I feel exactly the opposite way. At least in my experience, what comes most easily and intuitively tends to be the best work, and the more one messes with it and fusses with it and thinks about it too much, the less true and powerful a statement it becomes.

More art on my website: