Saturday, February 28, 2009

February VSD


This month's Virtual Sketch Date image, of Lake Louise in Banff.
I love this subject--of course, the blues, but mountain shapes are just so fundamentally appealing ... the repetition, the recession.

Links to artists participating in this month's VSD will appear on the VSD blog tomorrow. You can also view the paintings--all in one place!--in the Virtual Sketch Date group on FlickR. How cool is that?

After I finished the painting above, I was sorting through a pile of old paintings, five or more years old, and found this page. They were done without any drawing and I suspect they're copies--of Fairfield Porter probably, but maybe Hopper. I like the casual way they're painted and hope to try the Lake Louise scene again more in this vein.

(4x6 each)
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Friday, February 27, 2009

paoli station

In October, when Robin and I were heading to Chicago, we went down to the train platform and there was this couple waiting for the train: another perfect ready-made subject.
I put off attempting to paint the scene mostly because--and this is usually the case with photos for me (but not when painting plein air)--there were things in the distant middle and background that I couldn't quite make out ... I didn't know what they were or if they were connected.
Not knowing what's back there has the benefit of keeping me from becoming overly focused on nonessentials, after all, it's about the couple waiting for the train.
But then the problem is how to treat that space. I made two decisions: to try to paint general shapes and to keep it neutral.
This is one of those rare paintings of mine that actually looks better from far away: the background ceases to be any kind of an issue and you can't see how I fudged the train tracks. I do wish I had been a bit more careful with the ties ... but it doesn't seem to matter so much if you're farther away.

ps I got an email from art supplier Dick Blick about an online workshop with Nita Leland; I followed the links to ArtistsNetwork.TV where you can view video previews by various art teachers and authors like Charles Reid and Linda Kemp. Here's a link to the Kemp preview where she demonstrates an exercise from her book.
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Thursday, February 26, 2009



Another design element from Marianne Brown's Watercolor by Design. I'm not quite sure this fits the bill, but I've been wanting to try painting this orchid before the blooms disappear.
I'm working my way through Brown's book; earlier elements were pyramid, vertical, and horizontal.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009



Two quick (about 10-15 minutes each) tries at this month's Virtual Sketch Date image. I used Winsor blue (gs), because it's so cool, but I don't usually have it on my palette; it's very strong and staining too.
I like this subject--the strong shadow, the receding shapes, the reflection in the water. I'll probably do a couple more trying out different blues.

I haven't seen any of the films nominated for Academy Awards this year. Movies I want to see like Doubt, The Reader, Milk and Slumdog Millionaire don't make it down here; we're more likely to get Shrek 8 and Batman 12. So last night when The Visitor, with best actor nominee Richard Jenkins, came on Starz at midnight, I had to stay up to watch it. Jenkins must be one of those working actors who's in everything but who you never notice because he's so good; he was superb in this quiet movie about the expansiveness of the human heart.
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Monday, February 23, 2009

thank you

Thank to everyone for the comments on my post about Nanda. Your thoughtfulness and kindness are very touching, and I appreciate it.
A busy weekend--dinner with my brother John for his birthday Saturday, Peter's brother's son's christening Sunday--now back home, where I expect to see Nanda in her favorite spots: in the patch of sun on the deck, curled up in a ball on the loveseat in the loft, and, of course, next to her food bowl. I think Smilla misses her; she seems to want more attention than usual--or maybe she's thinking that about me!
I'll miss her, but she had a good life and a good death too--not too soon, not too late.
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Saturday, February 21, 2009

my nanda-la

It's hard to be the one who decides, but yesterday was the day I had to have Nanda put to sleep. I wish she could have had one more day of lying in the sun, but it was time. She was nearly seventeen, and couldn't walk or eat too well, though she still purred just fine, which made it harder.
Yeats, Cleo, Carlos, and now Nanda-la: all the cats I moved into my house with are gone.
But I have my baby Smilla, only four!, who makes me laugh and is so solid and good to hold.
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Friday, February 20, 2009

bridges and boats

Another version of the Seven Mile Bridge ...

And a cropped fishing boat picture--that is I cropped the reference photo; this is the entire painting!
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Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Two stages of a little painting I worked on last night, trying to apply some of the methods from Monday's class: using a tried and painting very wet, allowing the colors to mingle on the paper.
I'll take a break now to consider how to finish.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

monday class week 2

Today, using a triad--here, ultramarine, quinacridone pink, and new gamboge--we saturated the paper then floated on the paint, moving it around, adding more paint or water to pull out cloud shapes. After we got some clouds in, we were supposed to make some kind of a scene.
I had a difficult time with this. First I couldn't seem to get clouds! I think I was resisting the cumulus shapes--I wanted cirrus.
Too, I'm never good at fanciful or invented landscapes.

This was my second effort; same triad. I decided to leave it as an abstract.

Finally--using cobalt, rose madder genuine, and aureolin--I stopped resisting and got something approximating a cloud! When it was dry I added these Virgin Island like islands.

These are all so candy-colored: I should have allowed the colors to mix more and gotten more neutral tones in them, but I've spent all my time watercolor painting trying to do the opposite: to keep the colors clean and fresh. But, I have to know how, and when, to do both.

At the end of class I made this little sketch of some flowers Marie brought in.
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Monday, February 16, 2009

drapery 2


I think I had resolved, at the beginning of the year, to set myself the task of doing a drapery study every week. My first drapery study was posted 1/12 ... so let's call it a monthly task.
This time, to my white cloth, I added a patterned one from Carolyn's. She had three stacks of cloths taller than I am, and after she died, her sons let us, her students, take them.
I had never painted this cloth, which was a favorite of Jennifer's--she likes bold patterns and yellow-green-red color schemes--but I guess she'd already painted it enough times and left it for me.
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Sunday, February 15, 2009

cyclamen again


Another cyclamen. I could paint these everyday; actually, I think it's the drawing I enjoy--the flowers are such fanciful shapes; they make me think of fairies in Fantasia.
Peter gave me a very pretty and delicate orchid plant for Valentine's. I doubt I'll be able to keep it alive, so I'll probably be painting it soon!
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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's


Last week I posted some lilies I painted freehand; that day I also painted these lilies but this one didn't work as well ... for one thing I painted a bud going off to the left at a weird angle.
I decided to try to salvage it today and painted over the out-of-place bud with bleed-proof white (though as you can see, it did bleed!) and added the red background.
Winsor & Newton wrote a short histopry of their reds that you can read here:

Finally, for Valentine's Day, I want to encourage everyone to read a book I just proofread: Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn's
Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. It's being published by Knopf in September and you can preorder it at Amazon. I want to get two extra copies--one to send to Hillary Clinton and one to Michelle Obama.
I proofread and copyedit a lot of books every year, but this book I wanted to read out loud to every person I know and every person I don't know too!
This book will stun you both with its chronicle of women's suffering in poor rural areas throughout the world--Have you ever heard of fistulas? I hadn't! Do you know that a woman dies every minute in childbirth? I didn't--and with the tales of women, and men, who are doing something on the ground to alleviate suffering, provide education and health care, and generally promote the ideal that a woman is a human being too!
The last section of the book is titled "Four Things you Can Do in the Next Ten Minutes" and is a perfect antidote to despair.
I hope I'm not infringing on any copyright by at least passing on four websites that Kristof and WuDunn recommend here: Women's eNews and World Pulse for news and information and Global Giving and Kiva for information on contributing.

Happy Valentine's Day

Friday, February 13, 2009



Looking around the house for red and/or pink things to paint today. Though My Valentine would rather have a painting of a red boat than red flowers!
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Thursday, February 12, 2009



Lest it begin to look too easy, I thought I'd post these two paintings that I've been halfheartedly dabbing away at the last couple of nights. Both are unfinished, but they're just not working for me: No doubt it's the halfhearted part that doomed them!
I'm inlcined to abandon them and move on: One of the prerogatives of watercolor painting.
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Wednesday, February 11, 2009


(4x6 postcard)
I usually shy away from paintings of sailboats because I don't understand all the rigging.
I have several books on sailing--there's so much terminology to know; it's like learning another language. Rosetta Stone should do a sailing edition.
I only know the name of one line, the dinghy bowline, called the painter.
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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

beached kayaks



Beached kayaks at the Cape May yacht club. I took these pictures in summer 08 and painted them once before. This summer I have to make an effort to get more photos of kayaks, dinghys, and fishing boats.
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Monday, February 09, 2009

ocean city class

Triad: cobalt, rose madder genuine, cadmium yellow light

Triad: ultramarine blue, quinacridone sienna, raw sienna

I signed up for another 6-week session with Marie Natale in Ocean City. Today was our first day. we spent the time practicing making blended washes with triands, trying to achieve an all-over glow to then use as an underpainting. We didn't start out with any particular landscape in mind, but let the washes suggest the subject.
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Saturday, February 07, 2009

an oldie

This is a painting I did in the still life group I belonged to; we broke up two years ago this week when our teacher and mentor, Carolyn Howard, died.
All of the objects pictured here, except the electrical-thingy on the far left, were Carolyn's. I love the fluted vase, second from right, and the curly-topped one.
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Friday, February 06, 2009


(7x11 each)

No time to finish these today. :-(

Please visit Julie's blog to enter in her art giveaway and to see some great mixed-media art and photographs!
This is the second giveaway I've seen this week. It's a nice idea ...
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