Saturday, January 31, 2009


Saw these at the grocery store and although I don't know how to cook them, I couldn't resist their colors.

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Not slacking off!

I have been doing some oil painting and pastels lately, but (here comes the excuse, right) I'm having trouble photographing stuff. I don't know if The Husband inadvertently (or otherwise, ha ha) changed some setting on the camera, but if so, I don't have much chance of getting it back the way it was set, because neither one of us understand the damned complicated camera. Yes, it's true, even The Computer-Geek Husband doesn't understand it and all its millions of possible settings, the digital beast. All the art I've been trying to photograph is coming out weird...colors really off and coming out way too saturated. Hopefully a miracle will happen soon and somehow we'll figure it out.

In the meantime, here's a pastel from this past fall, one of my favorites in its simplicity, called, not surprisingly, Hazy Day.

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Landscapes 3 and 4

The quality of these photographs...sigh. I wish you could see them in person! Pastels will never, ever be captured by a camera, and they lose all their sparkle and a lot of the subtlety of their color shifts on a computer screen too.
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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Landscape 2

I'm absolutely fascinated by how much or how little is needed to interpret an abstract image as a landscape (or, sometimes, a seascape). I think our human brains just need a horizon line and maybe nothing more, or very little more (like the tiniest hint of "trees" here). Playing with this idea intrigues me to no end.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009


A little abstract landscape in pastel.

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Cold but colorful

Well, I know some of you are actually going OUT IN THE SNOW to paint, which makes me feel quite wimpy. So last night, while it was 2 degrees F, I figured the least I could do was crank up a few hundred dollars' worth of regular and space heaters in the art studio...and do something colorful to counteract winter.


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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Leaf 3

I think this is the last of the leaves I had picked up in the fall and brought to the studio for later painting (or at least one of the last, and there may be some crumbled to dust, too, amidst the other still life props, which admittedly are always just shoved in a hurried jumble off to the side of the shadow box).

I changed palettes for this, since I've been feeling like I tend to go overly saturated with a lot of things. So this was, befitting a dried leaf, all earth colors (plus ultramarine and white).

It's funny, I was just remembering that I've never really (gasp! don't shoot!) LIKED realism in painting. I've always been more drawn to abstracts. Everyone is always asking me, Then why do you keep painting realism? And why did you go to a classical art academy for two years? And the answer is, it's all about training, whether formal classes or by myself; I want to be able to do whatever style I want. And I may change tactics radically down the road, but right now I am so drawn to the challenge of representing objects realistically. It still seems like magic to me, how light and shadow and color create a 3-D illusion. I may never tire of that feeling. Also perhaps that I've never been attracted to the easy way to do ANYTHING. (I love abstract? Okay, then I think I'll go suffer the torture of years of realism work...)  To assuage some of you who may still be in shock at my admission, I must say that through doing it and learning about it and looking at it, I HAVE learned to enjoy and appreciate realism painting a great deal...or I probably wouldn't still be doing it!

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Winter squash 2

I had painted this squash once before, and in the meantime, since I hadn't eaten it (I'm not a big fan of winter squash), it obliged me by turning from mostly dark green to this marvelous color. I'm not sure if that means it can't be eaten anymore, but it is gorgeous to look at.

This was a really frustrating painting. I kept re-doing stuff, and it got later and later, and pretty soon I had spent 3 hours on it and was hungry and tired and utterly sick of it all. I had actually decided to do some blending for a change, not sure yet how I feel about that either. Anyway, I'm really glad it's done.

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Leftover rooibos

I'm convinced that there is a special section in hell for [fill in whomever you want here] where they're forced to do knife-paintings all day for the rest of eternity. Aaaaaggghhhh! I think I won't do any more knife least not 'till I recover some of my sanity, and all my torn-out hair grows back (kidding on that last part, fortunately).

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Thursday, January 22, 2009


Stephen is a great model (this was from yesterday's alla prima class). He doesn't move; in fact, he's so professional about it that when a bug crawled over his forehead, he politely asked someone what was on his face and could it please be removed. (When *I* even slightly suspect that some INSECT might be on me, I go into hysterical flailing and screaming.)

He also has a wonderfully textbook masculine face: square jaw, strong neck muscles, low brow, all nice paintable angles.  Back in art school, we once had him for a figure model, and he is amazing: he's in excellent shape and has pretty much no body fat, so you can see not only every muscle, but even every tendon.  I remember that painting his shoulder area was like an anatomy lesson. (Don't get too excited, girlz, he's gay.)

Though I'm pleased with how the portrait turned out, nevertheless I didn't get a likeness, and it was the mouth that missed the likeness. Drat!

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Leftover mate'

Today I painted a portrait in alla prima class, but can't photograph it 'till tomorrow in daylight, so instead I present here one from the summer, The Husband's leftover mate. This one was challenging but fun; it felt like doing a jigsaw puzzle of colors.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Leaf no.2

As you can see, I just couldn't "face the knife" last night, so it was back to Brushes (Business) As Usual. Tonight I may have the courage, however (well, I think I do feel the courage tonight, but do I have the time, is the question). Thank you all for your lovely comments about the painting-knife experiment!

The colors look much better in real life, especially the red on the inside of the leaf. This was one of the handful of fall leaves that I saved for painting.

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Painting with a knife

In the spirit of continual experimentation, I decided to try painting without any brushes whatsoever, just a painting knife (not a palette knife, which is perfectly flat for mixing, but the kind of knife with the little metal bend between the painting surface and the handle...also confusingly often referred to as a palette knife, and I may myself call it that out of habit, so beware).

Can I just say that five minutes into it, I was so frustrated I wanted to scream and tear my hair out? And that ten minutes into it, I REALLY wanted to scream and tear my hair out? And that fifteen minutes into it, I wanted to tear out the hair of the person who invented the painting knife? And that twenty minutes into it, I wanted to also tear out the hair of the person who invented the very CONCEPT?

I wanted SO badly to grab one of my (tantalizingly near) brushes--A brush! Give me a brush! Any brush! Pleeeease!--and just make the damn mark I wanted to make. Painting with a knife is like trying to paint with some kind of severe physical handicap. The mark you try to make doesn't do what you thought it would, and then you go to fix it and completely mess up some other part that looked halfway decent, and then you go to fix that and...

I had to make a deal with myself, that if I could just do one painting from start to finish, I would never have to do it again. And it was even hard getting myself to agree to that.

...And an hour into it, nearing the end of the painting, I thought it was so totally cool.

The results are so fascinatingly different from painting with a brush. The result looks so sparkling and jewel-like, I suppose because there are all these subtle different physical levels so you're getting light reflecting off all these little edges. And the color seems somehow more remarkable, much more intense, than when painting with a brush.

Of course, when the Roma tomato was finished, all high on the experience, I decided to try another painting-knife painting, the white onion. I naively expected it to go better, since I now had "experience," but, huh! Whaddaya know!, it was just as hard and frustrating if not even more so since I was mentally fried from the first one.

Will I suffer through this experience again? You bet.

P.S. Best part = no brushes to wash! Worst part = see all of the above.
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Saturday, January 17, 2009

A few Unisons

What do you do when you can't decide if you feel like oil painting or pasteling (pastelling?) ? This painting is the was quite fun to do, just concentrating on color and basic "tube" shape representation. I may do more of these.

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Friday, January 16, 2009

The end of Titanium White

A lot of Daily Painters have done this subject matter, so I thought I'd try my hand at it. It was fun, but also frustrating at times. The folds in the metal tube are like painting very stiff fabric pleats--interesting, subtle, sometimes hard to pull off. In any case, it was an interesting experiment. I may try another one sometime, but on linen; I keep forgetting how annoying I lately find it to paint on a slick panel. There was a period when I really loved it, but at the moment I prefer linen. I'm sure my tastes may change yet again at some point; that's part of what keeps it all interesting.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Abby from Zimbabwe

From yesterday's alla prima class. This was tough for several reasons. First, that there was even less time than usual for this portrait, just a little over two hours' painting time, as the model was late (brought by her rather obnoxious boyfriend).

Second, I painted way too big. I've realized that, for whatever reason, my alla prima portraits have gotten incrementally larger every week...weird. Perhaps it's because I find portraiture--a real live human being's utterly individual face--so awesome. I'm going to really concentrate on whittling the size back down to something more manageable, starting next week!

Third, this was our first non-Caucasian model, so the entire palette was switched to something that none of us students had ever used before (but which was sooooo fun and colorful!): all earth colors, plus ultramarine, alizarin, and white.

So, all in all, a real shock to the painting mind--it was good for us, I'm sure, to shake things up, though my brain felt completely fried afterward, for the rest of the day. Amazing how tiring that much concentration is.  I hope to be able to experiment more with painting dark skin. If only I could get The Husband (he's from India) to sit still for more than 15 seconds!

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Satsuma too/two, deja vu

Well, this was a fun experiment. About five posts ago (post title: Exciting Evening), I painted a satsuma tangerine. I liked the result a lot. Then today I was checking out one of my favorite realist painters, Jonathan Koch, and saw he'd painted a satsuma too (he has painted them before, I believe; he seems to favor fruits and such, like I often do). Of course, I liked his better than mine...

Tonight when I went in to the studio to paint, I didn't have a firm idea in mind for subject matter. I set something up but didn't feel too excited about it. I tried something else--not much motivation there, either.  I then started eyeing the satsuma that was still sitting near my shadow box, looking none the worse for wear after being ignored for 5 days (except that the leaves were more shriveled). Of course, I just had to...

But to make things more interesting, I didn't look at all at the satsuma painting I did the other day. I did use the same palette (only because it's one I've been trying out for a few weeks to see if it suits my needs or not [jury's still out]), but didn't look at anything except the live, lighted tangerine in front of me.  I was extremely curious to know if I would come up with a similar result to what I did before; I'm always intrigued/dismayed/curious as to that elusive thing called "painting style." My art teacher Michelle Philip said she likes to "throw the die again and again and see if the same number (style) comes up."  I guess that's what I was trying to discern in this experiment. I sometimes don't even LIKE my "style," but it does seem to be something like one's handwriting or the way one walks, etc.--it's the way you do something and though you can learn to perhaps change specifics, your "style" will come out, like it or not. (Though hopefully, it will naturally continually evolve on its own, via experience.)

Interesting lesson/experiment tonight. I can't believe how similar this satsuma #2 is to the first one!

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Seen a lotta marinara, baby

This old wooden spoon has seen perhaps at least ten years of spaghetti sauce, stir-fry, and sauté.  It must be tired.

It's also another of those unwitting, painful painting lessons about deciding to try to paint something "simple."

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Monday, January 12, 2009


Am feeling better today, but not quite up to an actual oil painting, no matter how small. So I thought to ease back into the studio, I'd just mess around with some abstraction in pastels. I'm always so amazed by how much time has passed. I mess around with a couple of abstracts, and assume maybe an hour has gone by, and it's more like 2 or 3 hours. This is true for me in art in general, but perhaps even more so with abstracts...perhaps the mind really does work differently when doing things with "pure" abstraction than with forms of realism.  Just a hypothesis.

Reflection is the title because it reminded me of a watery reflection, and also because for whatever reason(s), I've been doing a lot of it lately.

(As always, the photo doesn't do it justice...the reddish color is more red in real life, less orange, and the painting has more vibrancy.)

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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Malade comme un chien

As suggested by my neighbor and fellow new blogger, SamArtDog, this is my official Pity Post. Temporarily belying the subtitle of my blog ("Art Every Day"), I have not painted for (gasp!) two days. Someone turn me in to the Daily Painters police! ...But, see, I have an excuse (however flimsy): I'm sick! I've been reallllllly tired for the last couple of days (the kind of tired where the goal of getting up and changing the dogs' water bowl requires drawing on huge reserves of willpower), and then today woke up with the kind of head cold where you have to walk around holding a kleenex box all day. Sigh. Je suis malade, et c'est la vie.
P.S. Said neighbor suggested that I may have contracted the illness at my last alla prima class on Wednesday. I will have to give everyone a stern talking-to next week, to be sure.

Thursday, January 8, 2009


I was just doing a quick color experiment last night (I haven't liked the palettes I've tried so far for alla prima portraits, so I'm going to start experimenting in future ones), and I did a really quick oil sketch of an eye, which I just loved and thought I'd share here. The colors in real life are extremely varied and interesting looking.

P.S. The wildfire is still burning, but fortunately for my neighborhood, it hasn't moved south at all.

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A young model

This is actually the youngest model we've had in our weekly alla prima class, so I did a lot smoother brushwork than I normally do, in order to capture that youthful skin. She was a very good model, barely moved, but by the end of it, I think she was regretting doing it, as she looked more and more uncomfortable. It's so hard to sit still for so long.

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Exciting evening

Well, in spite of the excitement (and fear) of a large wildfire burning all day (and still burning as I write this) just a couple of miles north of my Boulder, Colorado neighborhood, nevertheless, artistic-type things got done today: I went to alla prima class and painted a lovely young woman's portrait (to be posted on my next post), and photographed last night's still life: this Satsuma tangerine. Oh, and washed a whooooole lot of brushes...ugh.

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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Not a tool user

Needlenose pliers...I think that's what these are. Though I do have opposable thumbs, I'm maybe not fully Homo sapiens, as I am not so good with tools. These were lying around in the studio (The Husband is not at all the Handyman type, either) where most of our (mostly unused) tools end up. We occasionally go in there looking for "some sort of tool" to fix some sort of house problem. The end result of this is usually giving up (on finding such a tool, or being able to fix the problem, or both).

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Monday, January 5, 2009

Thinking of O'Keeffe

I wasn't actually thinking about O'Keeffe when I painted this last night, but looking at it once it was done, I think I remembered her using a similar feather in at least one of her paintings. Anyone know what bird this was from? I found the feather in the park, and the pieces of sandstone I brought back from a hike.

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Saturday, January 3, 2009

Art show

I found out a few days ago that these three pieces (out of six submitted) were juried into the upcoming Boulder Art Association show. (I think the other three were just as nice, if I do say so.) I currently also have a solo exhibition up in pastels at the Solstice Center (here in Boulder, CO).

I'd been away in Mexico and got the snail-mail news about these 3 pieces getting in to the show only upon returning, and I was like, Cool!  Then about three seconds later I thought, Oh, right, uh, shit, they have to get framed. Of course, it was then the holidays, and everything was shut down or on half-day hours, etc.... which meant I had to go in to the framer yesterday and beg sheepishly, because these suckers have to be hung this Mon.a.m. (Yes, I will have to get up at some ungodly [for me] hour to schlep my artworks to the library, site of the exhibition.)  Anyway, it's all good (I hate that expression. It is NOT all good. Getting up early, for example, is bad).

Feeling rather under the weather (another weird expression) today, so am not painting. Rather, contenting myself with salivating over other people's art online, in mags, etc.

The two sunflowers are oils: one 6" x 6", the other 5" x 7".  The pastel is 6" x 9" (not including the mat). 
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Thursday, January 1, 2009

First painting of 2009

I just did this one yesterday evening, and came very close to signing it '08. (I'm sure it will happen at some point, likely repeatedly, for the next few months at least...)  The photo is a little glare-y. 

These were some kind of seed pods I found in the park yesterday. Not sure what kind of tree they're from (I don't think they could've come from the evergreen they were near), but they're beautiful things. When I'm out walking the dogs and picking up gorgeous little bits of nature to take back to the studio, I always figure that all those "normal" people out there (who are doing "normal" stuff, like pushing their kids on the swingset or riding their bikes) are thinking: There goes that crazy lady again who always walks looking with great concentration down at the grass, picking through the leaves and debris.

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