Thursday, January 31, 2008


A quick study using Opera (Holbein; Winsor & Newton also makes it now), a beautiful, pure pink recommended to me by Mineke . In the petals I also used aureolin and ultramarine violet. I love the peachy oranges the yellow-pink mix makes.

And here's the second version of last Friday's still life (first version on left). Naturally, now I prefer neither one nor the other, but like and dislike some things about each!

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Another Moleskine sketch of the Villas Wildlife Area. Began this yesterday too, but abandoned it because I wasn't happy with the distant trees: I had wanted a dark, but kept changing my mind about the colors. Went back to it this a.m. to salvage it, but maybe it was too late! I should have taken more care with the tress, regardless. Anyway, it's interesting to me that I approached this one and yesterday's sketch in the same way, but one is so much more pleasing than the other. Is there something intrinsic in the subject, or something in my reaction?
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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

enchantment of villas

The title's a joke (a nod to my brother Dan) because this is a departure from the brown-gray reality--not that there aren't some very lovely browns and grays there; it's just that I can't seem to make them.
I did this in my Moleskine this afternoon: walked Itchy in the wildlife area and made some pencil lines for trees; then went home and painted wetly and as freely as I could. The stand of trees on the left has some lines made with a great water-soluable lead pencil called Sketch & Wash--always thought it would be useful for twigs etc. Will try to do more of it in the next. But for now, click on the image to enlarge it and see the pencil (and please don't mind the cat hair in the sky!).
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more pink ladies

Sunday I went back to the first go, trying to minimize what seems, more and more, to be the almost comic dominance of the pink and black flower on the left. Not really enjoying fixer-uppers, that night I took a spontaneous approach, painting pretty wet and without drawing. For the third, and to me most successful, try, yesterday, I got out my hot press paper, hoping it'd help with the apples. I'm not sure the apples are all I hoped for, but, standing back, I was surprised to see how I'd altered the composition and made the painting so much better by a serendipitous repositioning of the fabric. To me now the subject's not the apples but the movement of red and white.
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Sunday, January 27, 2008

pink ladies

After photographing this, the dark at the upper left seemed too prominent, so I added another, but my camera battery died, so I'll have to post the revision later. Off to the christening of Avery Grace Tyrrell.
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recommended blog

I want to recommend a blog that I visited last night--many, if not most of you, already know about it: it's Katherine Tyrrell's She has put together a lot of resources for artists, but I especially enjoyed following the links about Art Resources for Artists to sites about David Hockney. Thank you, Katherine!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Flush with yesterday's "success," I decided to try a while bowl on a striped dishcloth ... Not so successful! It's hard for me to paint whites; I lean too heavily on blue ... Will try again (someday!). (It's excuse making, but, nonetheless, I was trying out a sheet of Winsor & Newton paper here and have to say I really did not like it: the surface is very "scratchy"--I felt like I had to force the paint onto it, and then the paint didn't flow or run, something which I count on!)

Turning from this frustrating effort I saw Smilla sitting on the windowsill and did these quick "Smillouettes."
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Friday, January 25, 2008

still life group

Today was my first day with a still life group that meets Fridays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., in Wallingford, Pa., at the beautiful old Community Arts Center. Everyone brings their own setup to work on. For my first day I wanted something simple: a cup and napkin; the artist I shared the setup with, Merle, an oil painter, added the vase of daisies. I had this view where the vase was directly behind the cup; I wouldn't have set it up this way, but decided to go with it anyway because I'm usually not happy with my too-predictable still life setups. I like that this kind of breaks the rules!
I probably won't do much else here ...maybe a bit of green in the background?

Started on a second version with the objects more to the left so I could make more of the shadow ... Want to finish this at home and start a new one next Friday.
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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Two pages torn from my Moleskine watercolor notebook. I did these last spring when I first got the notebook and wasn't happy with them, so I tossed the notebook to back of the closet. I'm thinking now maybe it wasn't the notebook's fault! I wasn't painting a lot then and may have been trying too hard--a sure way to disappointment. But I'm going to give Moleskine another try.

(These are two of my cats: Nanda, who looks considerably slimmer here than in real life, and Smilla, who looks considerably more sedate. Carlos wasn't attempted because he's striped!) If you want to see some truly lovely, amazing paintings of cats, you should go directly to and look at her 2008 cat calendar. I ordered one from her site so I can look at these paintings every day.
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Found this drawing I did last summer but never got around to painting; thought I'd make a start on it and see how it went, though I usually don't go back to things once I've put them down ... seems to increase my trepidation to reapproach; that seems evident in this too-careful start. Note how I've avoided the sycamore tree, which was what made the scene appeal to me. Also, I've tried several houses with this color scheme--yellow, teal, and maroon--but always feel myself resisting it! But, it's just a start ... maybe in a day or two it'll please me more.
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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Cyclamen again today. The first with no drawing; the second with a drawing. I think I waited too late to paint today--started around 7:30 p.m.; these look a little exhausted to me! Or anyway certainly not as fresh as the ones I did, early in the day, yesterday.
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Monday, January 21, 2008


Couldn't resist this little pot of cyclamen at the supermarket last night, though I haven't had any luck keeping cyclamen alive since I moved from my brightly lit apartment to my dark house. (Reading up on their proper care though and have guarded hopes.)
A Cape May watercolorist, Alice Steer Wilson, did the most beautiful paintings of cyclamen. You can see some of her paintings at, but, alas, no cyclamen!
The leaves present the difficulty, I think, both singly--how much detail to include? how to do it?--and as a cluster--they're so tightly packed! But the flowers are a joy to practice.
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Sunday, January 20, 2008

pine cones again

Still exploring the pine cone! It's a great subject ... complex and pleasing, and ready to hand!
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Saturday, January 19, 2008

Another quick try at a palm.
And here's a bit of cheating--working on the format of my blog today, rather than on its content: a card and envelope I painted of an idealized, simplified view from Peter's window after the snowstorm last Valentine's day. So these are about a year old. What a beautiful snowfall it was--absolutely sparkling and pristine. (I did a few of these; this one's going out as a thank-you card to Dan and Krisi ...). Snowing again tonight--always looks magical.
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Friday, January 18, 2008

Worked on this a bit today--as you see, it didn't turn out to be a snowscene, though I may try another ... Here, I was just trying to make different color choices than I normally would, more warm neutrals. Some strengthening up of the darks may be to come. (PS, if you double-click on the painting, you'll get, or should get, a blown-up version, in which you can see the "messy" and unresolved nature of the brushstrokes--something that it really pleases me to see, since I often think I am too careful, having first learned to make watercolors by applying controlled washes.)

Joining a new studio group next week; we'll meet and work on still lifes. I bought a new palette--40 wells!--and am now consumed with thinking of what colors to fill it with!
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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

villas wildlife management area

A few photos taken today of the Villas Wildlife area, which was once an estate, then a golf course, and has now been reclaimed for nature and the public. Yay!
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a start

This is a start on my first try at a subject that I've been wanting to paint for a long time: a house at an intersection near Malvern, Pa. The photo I'm working from is late fall--no leaves on the trees, but the grass is still somewhat green; at this stage I'm thinking maybe I'll make it a snowscene!

And here's another postcard of palm trees, done on some very stiff handmade paper I dug up from the back of my art-supply closet!
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Monday, January 14, 2008


Postcards painted from photos of one of my favorite Keys, Pigeon Key, where the workers on the Seven Mile Bridge stayed. These are little quickies, with some liberties taken--trees and roads and outbuildings left out.
(A head cold has been reducing my waking hours to around ten a day, considerably cutting into painting time--bah! Recovery, and more painting, is on the horizon though.)
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