Personal Art Blog

Sharing the lessons I teach at the Artist Guild and the personal discoveries in my art.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Approaching the Sandias

Approaching the Sandias

6x8in  oil on canvas board   100.

Another piece painted in the car. Unlike the one yesterday, which was painted at the beginning of the trip, this one was done towards the end of the journey. These are the distant Sandia Mountains in Albuquerque, N.M.  painted approaching from the south.

Artist Note:

I had several emails asking what type of easel I showed in yesterdays blog.
It is a small paint box with an easel top. Size 10x13in. Perfect with the little drawer to hold the knife and paints. My daughter bought it for me from Barnes and Nobel a couple of years ago.
(She always picks the best gifts!)

I use the Raymar panels when painting with a palette knife.
It is impossible for me to paint exactly what I see in a car because it changes so quickly, but the colors and distance stay pretty well the same for some time. The distant sky is also easy to focus on. As I said yesterday, the whole point is to simply enjoy the process.

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Monday, January 30, 2012

Riding the Desert

Riding the Desert

6x8in  oil on canvas board  Not for sale

Riding in a car and not on a horse...

I have set up a system so I can paint in oils in the car when we take a trip.
Long trips are never quite as boring when you are the driver because the mind is occupied by doing something. Hubby prefers to drive so I paint. Easy to do with my small watercolor set up but I wanted to try oils. I decided to use the water soluble oils - best having no solvents in the car and using mainly a palette knife - easy to wipe clean  - I have a set up shown below. I prop the little easel in the open glove compartment and hang a plastic bag off it too.

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I start off with a view that captures a feeling in me and to rapidly try and capture as much of the image as possible. From then on, I use my memory plus colors I am seeing along the way as inspiration.
In the view below, the tint on the window made this photo a lot bluer than the closer mesa actually was, but does it matter? The point is to occupy myself with my favorite thing to do while riding with my favorite person who is occupying himself with...the road and my fav thing!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

There is No Blue Without Yellow, Without Orange.

There is no Blue Without Yellow, Without Orange.

8x6in   oil on canvas board    100.

I was thinking of Vincent van Gogh's famous quote taken from a letter he wrote to Emile Bernard, June 1888. The painting was quite lifeless until I punched up the blue.  Brighter than what I usually do when painting from life, but the leaves have gone from this favorite tree so this is from a photo.

Artist Note:

I am not comfortable painting with a strong color and green come to mind but orange and blue has always been a favorite combination but I usually I go for a softer and grayed value of the blue.

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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Clouds over the Desert.

Clouds over the Desert

8x6in oil on canvas board     SOLD

It was a pleasure to reminisce over this beautiful spot while I was painting this. It is a view on the drive to Sedona, AZ. and the beginning of those amazing, coral colored clifts.

Sedona was where Jim, my husband and I spent our honeymoon so it is a very special place to us.
Jim was actually born near Sedona in Jerome, AZ.  A true western man...but one who has never owned a pair of cowboy boots in his life.

Artist Note:

I wanted to play a bit more with color so I started with the sky. Mixing a lavender for the top, moving into a cerulean at the base. The clouds went in the same direction of cool to warm color by making the top clouds pinkier than the lower creamy ones. The warmth is continued into the clifts but then into cool colors for the shadow.
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Friday, January 27, 2012

Caught Napping!

Caught Napping

7x5in  oil on canvas board  Not for Sale

This is for the Daily Paintwork challenge of a seated figure. It was from a photo taken in Mexico. The poor woman sat and fell asleep in the blink of an eye. I miss the days we could go over to Juarez for a meal or shopping.

Artist Note:

I was about to throw in the towel but decided to just go with it. I am going to work on this some more in a different technique. I have to give it some space/time to see it clearly.

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Purple Mountain Majesties

Purple Mountain Majesty

6x8in oil in canvas SOLD

This is another beautiful sky over the Organ Mountains, here in Las Cruces, NM.
I love the song,  "America The Beautiful"   It says it all.

Artist Note:

I spent another day struggling over the same painting as yesterday. Still not right. The fourth, I repeat...the fourth wipe off! Imagine, all this angst on a painting only 7x5in.
You may wonder why am I still persisting?  It is because I am learning so much with all these errors.
Any pressure? You betcha!
Feelings of not being a worthy artist? Yep - throw in the towel. Nah.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Waiting Passenger

Waiting Passenger

Watercolor sketch Not for sale.

This is from one of my travel sketch books.
I have worked for quite a few hours today on a seated figure for the
Daily Paintworks Challenge. Wiped it off twice and started again...nash ...nash...
I was not able to finish it and as I do not want to break my daily posting,
I thought I would use this.
It was painted several years ago using my trusty, hand held watercolor box, while at the airport during a two hour delay.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Sunflowers in Socorro, N.M.

Sunflowers in Socorro, N.M.

8x6in oil on canvas board   100.

Last year in the fall, a group of the Plein Air Painters of Southern New Mexico, traveled north from Las Cruces to Socorro, for the PAPNM paint out. They have some fabulous painters so we went to observe.

This adobe house had already attracted three artists. They were busy painting the sunflowers in the front of the  house, which was an artists dream. Imagine an adobe having a traditional tin roof plus purple and turquoise trim. Obviously the owner of the house was not scared of color and had a fun personality.

The thing I liked best (and no one painted) was the outer front gate with a cut-out heart shape under the PEACE sign. When I bent to peer through it look what I found on the front door

A Halloween skull!  Did I already say the owner obviously had personality?

Artist Note:

The challenge was to manage to get the sunflowers to come forward but still show the bright colors of the trim. I managed that by placing the sunflowers in front of the trim, higher up than they actually were. 
The tin roof reflected the bright early light of the sun. Hard to get that in the correct value. Brush and knife were used.

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Monday, January 23, 2012

The Alfalfa Fields

The Alfalfa Fields

6x8in oil on canvas  100.

The brilliant emerald greens of the Alfalfa fields never ceases to amaze me. Imagine the contrast next to the soft, neutral colors of the desert.

The Mesilla Valley supports a large and growing dairy industry and they need lots of alfalfa.  It has been successfully grown here for over 150 years.

A downside to the dairy industry comes when you have to drive the several miles past them on Rt 10.  I admit to burying my nose into a handkerchief!

Artist Note:

I cheated with this painting because there was not any water in the Rio Grande today. I have painted it enough to know it always reflects the color of the sky and clouds from this vantage point.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Old School Bus

The Old School Bus

5x7  Oil on canvas Board    90.

This is down by the Rio Grande River. The building appears to be a repair shop as several old vehicles were parked there. My interest was captured by the yellow roof of the bus and the tin roof of the building, reflecting so brightly in the mid-day sun.

I painted this plein air during the late summer when there was still water in the river.
The mighty Rio Grande is reduced to a thin, winding, ribbon of silver during the winter, courtesy of the Elephant Butte/Cabillo dam, further upstream. Water is a real issue here in the Mesilla Valley because of the drought. We are hoping for heavy snows in Colorado.

Artist Note:

Bright, overhead sunlight means the verticals carry the shadow patterns and only the top areas catch the light. Even something in a very light color has to move towards a middle value in its own shade.

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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Gold in the Mountains

Gold in the Mountains.

7x5in  oil on canvas board  90.

The most popular viewing time for aspens is in the fall. My hubby, Jim, and I were visiting our friends the Hons, in Frisco, near Lake Dillon, and the day was glorious with a deep blue sky making a breathtaking vibration next to the golden aspens. I was in heaven and determined to paint them the next day. Wrong! Our host, Bud, woke us up telling us we had slept through the fall. Sure enough a blanket of snow covered everything in sight and it continued all day, creating an incredible, muted beauty. Amazing it could change that fast.
Lesson learned. In the mountains...paint it when you see it!

Artist Note:

This was a demo painted with the knife, from my imagination.
I lived in Denver, Colorado, for 8 years and was able to paint aspens a lot, so I feel comfortable painting them from memory.
I deliberately made one aspen angled to provide some movement among the strong verticals and linked the main area of leaves at different angle. I was careful to mass the leaves and not to do the polka dot effect and remembered to place shadows under them. Courtesy of tips from Kim English the fabulous artist I studied anatomy under in the late 80's.

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Friday, January 20, 2012

Path behind Sandia

Path behind Sandia

5x7in   oil on canvas board      90.

The stunning Sandia Mountains in Albuquerque, N.M. have many walking and hiking areas. This path leads to the handicap area on the east side of the mountain. It is a beautifully maintained area with paved paths for wheelchair access. I love this place because I feel very strongly about how important it is to have outdoor wheelchair access in as many places as possible. This is from personal experience because my aunt, who lived with us was in a wheelchair, and on our walks we found many places we had to turn around because it would be inaccessible. She would be so disappointed and I would feel soooo inadequate and frustrated.

Artist Note:

A palette knife was used for most of this.  I used my wonderful Holbein -  series S. I have several sizes and shapes but on a small piece like this I use #33. It is perfect, very flexible and I can mush flat areas or get texture and curved thin lines.

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Stormy Clouds at Sunset.

Stormy Clouds at Sunset

6x6in  oil on canvas   85.

Rain is always welcome in the desert.  This storm looked so dark and promising, but this time it fell on the other side of the mountain and we did not get a drop.  These are the Organ Mountains, here in Las Cruces, N.M. They are situated on the east side of the city so the sun rises behind them and sunset casts its glow on them. On this particular evening, a small amount of color hit for a only a brief moment. I had been so sure I was going to get a brilliant, golden cloud. Sigh!

Artist Note:

This was done with a palette knife. I scraped and mushed with the back of the knife to try and capture the soft, vapor quality of the clouds. I left texture in the foreground

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Path to Nowhere

Path to Nowhere

6x6in  oil on canvas    85.

A person can go three miles on this path and still never get to a building or anything else but a stream.  The path continues through the water and on into the distance. The cottonwood tree and line of salt cedars in the painting follow the stream.
I was with a painting buddy and knowing we had to walk back we decided to turn around.
The path must go somewhere and I looked on a map but nothing shows. Maybe it goes to a ranch, way, way out there?

Artist Note:

This was painted in the early summer last year. I was trying to see simple masses, shapes and shadow areas. It was a cloudy day so the light was diffused most of the time. I painted the ground the sun flooded color I remembered and waited for the sun to appear again so I could quickly place the shadow areas in.
I used a #4 round synthetic brush only on this.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Fluer- de -Lis.


7x5in  oil on canvas board   SOLD

Iris are fun to paint. They have a long and interesting background and I thought I would share a couple of bits of info here.

The flower was named after the Greek goddess, Iris, who was the messenger of the Gods. She would ride on the rainbow to and from earth in her beautiful, multicolored robe acting as a link between heaven and earth.

During the Middle Ages, Irises became linked to the French Monarchy, eventually becoming the French national symbol, the fleur-de-lis.
According to french historian Georges Duby, the three leaves represent medieval social class:
Those who worked.
Those who fought.
Those who prayed.

All neat stuff!

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Monday, January 16, 2012

Demo of White Tulips

Demo of White Tulips

6x6in  oil on canvas board    85.

One of the wonderful things about bulbs is that we can get beautiful, spring flowers in the dead of winter.

Artist Note:

This demo was done for the Artists Guild of Southern New Mexico, this morning.

The inspiration began last Thursday in the egg tempera class when
 another artist brought in some beautiful white and yellow tulips.

The artist raised the question of wanting to try a more contemporary approach using the egg tempera so I did the quick wash sketch below to show how cropping could simplify it.

There was something I liked about the egg tempera sketch so I thought I would try and see how it translated into oil. Keeping the lower, right area in a warm color and an upside-down 'L' shape for the dark pattern I blocked in the basic shapes with more fluid paint - adding an extra tulip, knowing it could easily be re-sized or removed. I was careful not to refer to the photo so I would not get caught up in detail.

For the final finish (at top) I used a #6 bright with short blocky strokes and slightly thicker paint, working all over each area to finish it off.
Making sure to vary the whites and open up the focal tulip so they would not all look too similar, I then made the third tulip smaller and added light and shadows on the leaves, followed by some small adjustments with warm and cool touches. Compare the top one with the one above to see what I mean.

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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Glass and Pansies

Glass and Pansies

6x6in oil on canvas board 85.

The pansy presents a lovely spot of color in my garden pots and a natural
for when I go roaming looking for inspiration.
They always remind me of Puck, the fairy spirit from Midsummer Night's Dream, who used their juice to make a brew to have "Man or Woman madly dote upon the next, live creature that it sees."!!!!!

The glass pieces are very old Murano pieces.

Artist Note:
I started off painting this entirely with a palette knife but some parts just didn't
work so I went over most of it with a brush.
This is the last of the ancient glass series, for now.
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Saturday, January 14, 2012


Study of Peacock Feathers

  6x6in     oil on canvas        not for sale

I checked to see if there was any information about peacock feather symbolism and found quite a few stories. My favorite goes all the way back to ancient Greece. The peacock was the patron bird of the goddess Hera. According to myth she paced "eyes" on its feathers, symbolizing all-seeing knowledge and the wisdom of the heavens.
I also read that most religions of the world include symbolic meanings to peacock feathers and they were all quite interesting.

As an artist I find them beautiful in color harmony and graceful fronds.

Artist Note:

Today I kept to transparent colors in thin washes where I could. I noticed significant color changes in the feathers themselves so I think an artist could just let loose with color and follow the shapes.
Of the two methods I think I prefer the more painterly application I did yesterday.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Ancient Glass with Peacock Feathers

Ancient Glass with Peacock Feathers

7X5in  oil on canvas board      90.

On one of my trips to visit my sister, Jenny, in England, she took me to Leeds Castle, Kent. Quite rightly claiming to be The Loveliest Castle in the World . One of the visual memories I treasure was of the magnificent peacocks allowing us to walk right past them on the moat bridge. The sun was shinning on the opened tails and I could not believe the purity and beauty of the colors. Truly amazing.

Artist Note:

The mission was to try and capture the iridescence of the peacock feathers. Hard to do on the first try. I like what I did but also want to try a glazing method where I would use the white of the canvas as a base for transparent colors. It would have been easier to do that to start, but I wanted to see if I could get the effect with opaque colors first as I prefer a more painterly quality.
It will be a good exercise to try again to see which method turns out the best.

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Breakfast of Choice!

Breakfast of Choice

6x6in oil on canvas 85.

Not exactly an ancient Roman vessel!
This weeks daily paintworks challenge sounded interesting and I thought I would enjoy participating, especially when I saw all the healthy breakfasts other artist eat. I cannot tell a lie... my breakfast of choice is a Cappuccino Delight...Slim-Fast!
It gets me in the studio faster, has vitamins and tastes very good.
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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Ancient Roman Vessel with Orchids

Ancient Roman Vessel with Orchids.

6x6in  oil on canvas board   85.

This piece is a gem. Roman 3rd Century AD.
The burial conditions causes alkali to leach out and leave the layers with a beautiful iridescence. This is what attracts me to these amazing old vessels. This piece is a pale blue green with solid aqua base, handle and bands. The body is lovely, although slightly misshaped, with  green, pink, mauve and yellow areas.
Did you know that glass blowing started back in the 1st Century AD?  Before that  it was limited to  core-forming and casting. Once the glass blowing began it became more affordable and popular, becoming part of everyday life.

I know about the glass, but I have no idea what type of orchid this is. Tiny flowers with spotted finger shapes. Rather funky and that is why I like it.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Ancient Glass with Three Roses

Ancient Glass With Three Roses

6x8in oil on canvas board   SOLD

This is the same vessel as a previous post but done in a horizontal format.
I used a LED bulb this time and the colors in the glass became more pronounced.
I have a multi-colored Roman piece I will try with this type of bulb and see what happens. Stay tuned.....

Monday, January 9, 2012

Ancient Glass with Berries

Ancient Glass with Berries

6x6in  oil on canvas  SOLD

Another sweet little ancient glass piece from my collection. This was purchased as Roman, but an authority later told me it was very old Murano and most likely from the 13th century.
The colors in this glass are so contemporary. The narrow little band winding around the neck is matching the two pink bumps on the sides. The aqua blue has iridescent shades of other blues and pinks especially where it has crusted. Copper and cobalt are used to make the Aqua shades and for ruby red a gold solution but I am not sure about the pink.

I love these yellow berries and paint them quite often. They are the aftermath from a purple flower.
I wonder how long this type of plant has existed. Could be as long as the glass...maybe?

Artist Note:
I wanted to paint with a palette knife today but found the brush easier with this particular subject. I followed the same technique as yesterday.
Several people have asked how I do the fringe. I make my paint pretty fluid and use a rigger type of brush. If the brush is too short then it doesn't have the paint flowing off the tip.

Sorry abut the glare on the image.
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