Monday, March 31, 2008


(15x22, detail)


I always get so caught up in the fascinating shapes of magnolia petals--they change hour by hour too!--and the shadows thereon, that I lose sight of the whole picture, figuratively and literally.
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Saturday, March 29, 2008

After posting this morning, I decided to go back and add another lily to this painting. Still more to be done; not much, just finishing up some of the leaves ...
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Peter and I went to Lowe's to buy windows yesterday and I grabbed a half-price Easter lily, even though it's not in the budget!
At the moment I have a wealth of (perishable!) things to paint: these lilies, pale yellow tulips and daffodils with orange trumpets, and my magnolia, which is in bloom now. Of course, I also have a lot of work, which I'm not getting done because the desire to paint instead is so distracting!
This is as far as I can, with deadlines on the horizon and many pages to go, get with these today. It's a start anyway.
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Friday, March 28, 2008


I haven't used hot press paper in awhile (it used to be my favorite) but it was what I had to hand when these PJM rhododenron cuttings opened.
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Wednesday, March 26, 2008



Rhododendron and forsythia twigs I brought in to force, and root, I hope.
Now I have to force myself to go back to work: deadlines loom, but it's so nice out that spring fever is distracting me!
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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

monday's class

(8x12) (6x8)
Two unfinished pansy studies from yesterday's class. You'd think pansies would be one of the easier flowers to paint--such a simple shape and brilliant colors, but I think I go at them a little heavyhandedly. In the second one, I'm getting the foliage better (masses of little leaves are difficult); and my teacher, Marie Natale, suggested adding a little umber under the lemon to warm up the shadow--I think it really works! I'll have to add raw umber to my palette.
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hopper copies, II

The other two drawings from photographs of Hopper places, painted. These turned out, for me, just the opposite of how I expected: before I painted them, I thought Captain Strout's house (top) would be besr; Lighthouse Hill (below) seemed to me the less interesting.
In Hopper's painting of Captain Strout's house, the light is very dramatic, coming from the back right ... it looks as if it's very early morning and the sun is low. The house is much darker with strong, large shadows on the lawn; my painting was done using a photograph of the house taken at a time of day without dramatic light.
The same is true for Lighthouse Hill: the light in Hopper's is almost theatrical.
Realizing this handicap of the photos (and of my "vision"), I put the shadow wash on the front of the building (not as dark as Hopper's, but all one shape, like his). For me, that makes it.
I hope I can remember and apply this when I do my own paintings!
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Sunday, March 23, 2008


I felt lazy posting just photos today, so I snipped a little forsythia to paint. Forsythia was always the first thing to bloom in our yard when I was a kid, and now that first touch of color is so brilliant against all the muted tones of winter.
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search for subjects, one

I always thought that if only I could look out my window and see palm trees or distant islands, or rooftops and alleyways, that I could be a great painter. I look out and see my neighbor's shed--and it's keeping me from greatness! (Actually, I have sympahty for neighbor, who is in the same bind: she looks out and sees me!) I am going to undertake to alter this mindset and set out to find "my" subject right here where I live. I'm not saying I'll paint all this--I would if I could, but time is limited; this is about devoting some little bit of time to looking around me for subjects, hopefully venturing further out and also developing my notion of what a subject is. Making paintings that please me can't be about going to the Caribbean or New Mexico or New Hampshire or wherever, because the painting isn't about those places, or shouldn't be, it has to be about the reactions and insight and abilities I can pull out myself. I'm feeling very Dorothyish: what I'm looking for is right here.
For this first day, I didn't go far, just to the dunes and beach near the Cape May-Lewes ferry. During the week, I'll see if can make something of one of these.
And next week, I want to go to Cape May Point and see if I can locate the Flora Dune.
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Saturday, March 22, 2008

This house in Cape May Point, called the Flora Dune, was my favorite for some unknown reason; I was drawn to it, though there were, even then, certainly more interesting houses on the Point. Flora's rather plain. I suspect it had something to do with the way the house is situated; more than other houses, it seemed to me to be wholly oriented out toward the bay. I kind of remember that I thought someday I'd have this house ... I'll have to go see if it's still there!
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Looking at Hopper's paintings of New England shore towns inspired me to dig up these pencil drawings done in 1980, my sophomore year of college, for a drawing class. The professor insisted we draw something everyday, which had me casting about for subjects when at school--like a pan of leftover stringbeans on the stove--and out wandering around Cape May and Cape May Point when I was home for a visit.
I took art in HS (where I drew mostly Arthurian-inspired fantasy landscapes in pen and ink) and this one class in college and I didn't save any of it, except these 6 drawings (and a pen and ink of pigeons done outside that I had to tear in half after a pigeon "commmented" on it). There are drawing and perspective problems in these, but I guess I held on to them because the subjects continue to appeal to me.

Lots of summer people are down for the holiday weekend, and anyway I have raking to do!, but starting next week I'm going to devote half a day once a week to exploring the Jersey Cape in search of subjects.
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Friday, March 21, 2008

Hopper's places studies

Here are two of yesterday's sketches painted: did these last night, while watching Once, trying as hard as I could to not care about the outcome (of the paintings, that is; I did care about the movie's outcome and was satisfied) ...
I'm never sure which would work better for me when I want to make a break from my usual method of painting: to attempt to paint unself-consciously (like automatic writing!) or to very consciously plan to approach a painting in a new way. They're both hard! Mostly I keep doing the same thing.
These are based on photographs of places Hopper painted from the Gail Levin book Hopper's Places (a very good book; though I should also recommend Virginia Mecklenburg's Edward Hopper: The Watercolors). The Hopper paintings, especially of Monhegan Lighthouse, are different ... I'd post them here but I'm sure that'd be some kind of copyright infringement; instead I'll look for them on the web and post links here if I find them.
In Near the Back Shore, that's an electric pole splitting the picture in two; Hopper seemed to always include the poles! There's a photograph of Hopper sitting in his studio in Truro where the pipe from the woodstove splits the picture in half ... I wonder if the photographer was aware of it?
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Thursday, March 20, 2008

These pencil sketches are from photographs in the book Hopper's Places of places Hopper painted; you may recognize the scenes though they differ from Hopper's paintings, either by his design or by time's.
These are not drawings for drawing's sake, but to paint; while doing them I was struck by Hopper's use of the space between things--all clumped together or as far apart as they can be. There's tension and repose both.
Also I realized, a la Dorothy, there's no place like home: I have these very same subjects here where I am--I just have to go out and see them (... and then of course, and here's the hard part, apply the intelligence and discernment that Hopper did!).
It's insanely windy and chilly here today, so no painting in the car, as Hopper and Jo did, and besides, I have work to do, to finish.
Refilling my depleted palette today and, I hope, painting tonight.
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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Shouldn't have, but I did. (What a familiar-sounding refrain!) I added a little more to this painting first posted on Feb 28, then a little more ... I think I will add some of the darker, purple color from the upper right to the lower left, and try to straighten out the left edge of the jar.
Haven't found a comfortable alternative to painting at home, so not doing much ... But last night I was looking at a great book, Hopper's Places, which shows Hopper paintings next to photos of the locations they're based on. I think while I'm still in limbo I can do a few drawing from these photos to paint when possible.
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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

triad plus one

This is from my Monday class: a chart of colors and garys made from aureolin, permanent rose, cobalt blue, and sap green. (The bar on the lower right is mineral violet mixed with each of those four and then as a gray made from the puddle on the palette.)
The orchids below were painted using this triad-plus-one.

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Very quick, very slushy winter scenes done hunched over my Moleskine late last night: my farewell to winter 08 (though I may revisit/refine the first scene).
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