Thursday, April 30, 2009

Lilac sprig

...And sometimes it just works. We know not why. All that recent bellyaching, and this one came out nice and painterly, very few brushstrokes, no blending at all, in less than an hour. It was so weird to be washing up the brushes an hour after starting. It's only happened a couple of times like that.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Pastel limes

The same two limes as done recently in oil, but here in pastel (also from life, actually done the day before the oil).

In real life (as opposed to the photo here), the shadow is a bit lighter value and more colorful.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009


I picked out this pear for its funky shape...then when I got it home I realized it didn't stand up on its own, that's how funky it was. At first I was almost mad, then I thought, what is my problem? So it's a laying-down pear, no big deal! And then I was happy with it again.

I'm having a bit of a process quandary again with these realism paintings. The more real I'm able to make them look, the less painterly they are. They look good, but they're getting tighter and tighter, more blend-y, less loose... which is not what I want, in the grand scheme of things. Oh well, we'll see where the journey takes me...

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Postscript to Cat Contours post

Forgot to mention in yesterday's post that if you love cats and you love good pastels, do check out the book Painting Cats by Deborah Dewit Marchant. Besides the wonderful art (I just double-checked and it's actually pastels and oils; they're virtually indistinguishable), there's some very good writing by the author, some very moving stories of cats in her life, and an intro and poetry by Marge Piercy, one of my favorite contemporary poets who often writes about cats. I just stumbled upon this book by accident, and found it really lovely.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Cat contours

These are contour drawings, where you look at the subject but not at your paper. It feels like you're drawing blind in a way, even though you're staring at your subject. If you've never tried it, I highly recommend it (Nicolaides has a very good description of how to do it; I think it's one of his first lessons, maybe even the very first one; sorry, I don't own the book), if for nothing else than for the amazing revelation that lines drawn this way are somehow more alive. These four I've posted here were from a set of perhaps twenty that I did within half an hour or so. It was great, because the cats on my bed shifted slightly every five minutes or so. To me, there's something of the Chinese elegance of line that often happens with contour drawing, and especially with cats!

The Husband and I also got into the habit of doing quick contour drawings while waiting at restaurants, etc., for the sheer entertainment value of it (when a drawing comes out looking really funny, which is very often!). It takes a lot of willpower not to look until you decide you're done (which can be in 15 seconds or an hour or whatever), but when you see the fascinating results, you realize it's worth it. (In Nicolaides' method, you are allowed to look back at the paper when you're done drawing a given curve, etc., only in order to put the pencil back onto the page in a different spot, then it's back to looking only at the subject. It's also fun to do it without ever looking back at the paper until you're totally done; this leads to extremely weird but cool drawings. Read up on it in Nicolaides' book or another book or online for a better description.)

These are actually just very light, thin pencil sketches in a sketchbook done late one evening. For them to show up at all on the computer after I scanned them, I had to do a pretty extreme contrast adjustment. They're now nicely visible on the monitor, but you can see right through the page to sketches on the other side. It also makes it look like they were done in ink, which upon seeing them, I wish I had.  Oh well.

The photo is Cleo (all black) and Miss Lemon. They are two girls (ages 1 and 3) who are often caught in compromising positions around the house.

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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Two limes

Tried out Prussian Blue for these. What a gorgeous color that is! but how easily it gets out of control (it's a VERY powerful pigment). I was very happy with how this turned out.

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Untitled 2

This one is from a couple of months ago, one of the multi-layered oil paintings I described in a previous post. I experimented with Cold Wax Medium on this one. It gives a very matte effect. I also had great fun using a thick wooden comb for some of the texture.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Copying Richard miniature

For fun, I tried copying Richard Schmid's portrait Sapphire...but in miniature. The head in this is only 2.5 inches high! Click on it for a bigger (approximately life-size) view.


He's my favorite contemporary portraitist. I highly recommend his book Alla Prima: Everything I Know About Painting.

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Monday, April 20, 2009


Future's so bright...

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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Copying Sargent's The Artist in his Studio

1-hour study.

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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Copying Sargent's Emily Sargent

From last night, copy of Sargent's Emily Sargent. Done in about 1 hour with the space heater running...we've been in the midst of a slush blizzard (that's the only thing to call it) for about 3 days. You'd think "great painting weather," but it's very cold in our home studio. AND the roof sprung a leak. Not happy.

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Friday, April 17, 2009

Portrait of Dee (Clayboard)

Here's a change of pace: I did this Clayboard portrait (by scratching into the black with sharp metal, for those of you not familiar with the medium) last year, during one of the last few art-school classes. Sorry the photo is slightly blurry; the portrait is actually crisp.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Boulder sunset

Today was alla prima portrait class, but a variety of factors conspired to make my painting suck: I had a migraine, class was a little shorter than normal, and there was some awful loud music playing in the place...which wasn't helping the migraine any. Anyway, it sucked and is being wiped this evening., for your viewing pleasure (:D), is a piece done last summer after observing one of our (actually rare) sunsets. We normally don't get much color here, but that late afternoon was really nice.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Red pear 3

The Husband brought me this marvelously weird-shaped pear to paint. It was a really enjoyable painting experience (it's nice to have a non-teeth-gnashing session once in a while).

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Copying Sargent's Vernon Lee

2.5-hour study of Sargent's portrait Vernon Lee. This is showing up really grayed out on the monitor; the skin tones are nice and vibrant in real life. 

I was exhausted after doing this!

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Master lock 2 and I Love Your Art Blog award

There's something really fun about painting these locks. Search around your house, find one, try it. I highly recommend it. (This one has a combination instead of a key. Who knows what the combination was. Guess it'll never open again.)

In other news, Casey Klahn recently gave me the I Love Your Art Blog award. Thank you so much, Casey, and you know how much I love your blogs as well. If I were rich, I think I'd buy up every pastel that Casey does. Seriously.

In the spirit of "things I love" about blogging, I want to say that one thing I really do love about this art blogging experience is how it brings together those who not only practice different art media and styles, but even different politics and different religions. (And how apropos to say this on Easter.) Not many things can accomplish that.

Following are some art blogs I love, that I'm tagging. (If you're tagged and would like to participate, tell in your post that I tagged you and put a link to my site [the way I did with Casey here], and then tag some more people.)

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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Golden apple

The Husband's sister and niece are visiting this weekend. A 9-year-old girl who likes abstract art--how cool is that?!

Here's a small oil from two days ago.

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Thursday, April 9, 2009

Dan 4

Our stolid Dan, from yesterday's alla prima class. Doesn't he look movie-star handsome?

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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Untitled 35

A small pastel.

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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Copying Sargent's Lady Agnew

This is a 1.5-hr. copy of Sargent's famous Lady Agnew. I'm sure this could have benefited from some drawing/sketching out in order to get the proportions right, but I just launched right in without doing that (don't do that, people; do as I say, not as I do). I got tired at this point and stopped. This is on an old, previously-wiped masonite panel. 

His paintings are soooo luscious. It's a joy just copying him.

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Monday, April 6, 2009

Two pears and Radiator insulator

Two pears that seemed to belong together. Through thick and thin.


Thank you all for your kind birthday wishes!

In a completely unrelated note, you must try this new-fangled radiator insulator! Furry, velvet-like to the touch, in colors that match your decor! Simply place one on top of your warm radiator and it will help with expensive heat loss! (Happy customer blurb: "Ours is 3 years old and still works great!")

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Sunday, April 5, 2009

Birthday tulip

I'm 44 today (oh my god, how fast the time goes). A couple of years ago, a friend brought me some purple tulips (in a little pot from the grocery store kind of thing) which I loved. When they were done blooming, I planted them in the yard. The next year I was so excited to see the leaves coming up. I eagerly awaited the day I would have my purple blooms to admire once more.

The leaves came up beautifully. There they stood proudly, full of promise. Alas, however, not full of buds. None whatsoever. Very bizarre. The year after that, nothing came up at all. Sigh.

So yesterday, I bought myself a few of those grocery store cut tulips. I've always wanted to paint them, for some reason. I couldn't find any of those really dark ones that I love, so settled for a lighter purple. It was hard to decide how MUCH of the flowers/leaves to paint--the whole bouquet? Three flowers? As you can see, I (as usual) settled for simplicity.

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Saturday, April 4, 2009

Banana peppers

The other night, after having already set up the subject matter, I was tired and felt like I didn't have the energy/time to paint (with oils). So, thinking I was very clever, I decided to do it in pastel instead. Ha! It took me as long or even longer than it would've with oils.

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Friday, April 3, 2009


Our model Scarlett, sporting her "biker" cap and sexy tank top. From Wed.'s alla prima class.

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Thursday, April 2, 2009

Untitled (oil on linen)

Been starting to experiment with (semi-)transparent oils rather than opaque, for my abstracts. I'm enjoying the effects so far. I love how this one turned out. It has a very "glow-y" look to it, especially beautiful when the sun is on it or behind it, since it's coming through the linen and (semi-)transparent colors.

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