Wednesday, June 24, 2009



I got the idea to do setups like the one with the cantaloupe and lime, but using other objects that would reverse the color relationships: instead of an orange wedge, a green wedge of iceberg lettuce; instead of a teal plate, and orange plate.
The result, in these two, is a more high-key painting (the actual lettuce is even more blah than it looks here!). I'm timid/uncertain with yellow, and with making a cast shadow on an orange object: I want to keep some pure color, and not end up with a gray mass.
In the next two I think I'll try to make more of the orange plate.

Here're the first two green-on-orange studies against the first two orange-on-green ones.

So far this summer has very wet--it rains nearly every day!--and that has triggered my asthma (I had to miss yoga last night--wah!); now I seem to be coming down with flu. Trying to keep painting--the idea for these little studies came along just in time. Thanks Annelein!
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Sunday, June 21, 2009


I had company and it rained all weekend--a nightmare when you have a house at the shore (happily, they all played cards) and I didn't get any painting done.
Annelein's recent post on small, quick setups had me looking in my vegetable bins all weekend ... but I made fruit salad for my houseguests and didn't paint the ingredients beforehand, but I did have a slice of cantaloupe left, and finally had a chance this evening to try it myself.
Here are four 2x3's I did tonight after everyone went home. I tried to vary my color choices, as Annelein suggested, but it's hard: I'm so used to dipping into the colors I feel comfortable with.

Here I chose a complimentary blue for the background behind the cantaloupe, but I like the analogous pink, below, much better--maybe because it has more intensity than the blue, which got a little grayed when the orange ran into it. And pink and orange is just one of those color combinations ... you can't go wrong.

The last is my favorite composition, and so I was going to go with the pink background again, because I knew I liked it, but I forced myself to make another choice.
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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

"yes I said yes I will yes"


Happy Bloom's Day. Someday I hope to be saying that from Dublin!

From Molly Bloom's speech:

...the sun shines for you he said the day we were lying among the rhododendrons on Howth head in the grey tweed suit and his straw hat the day I got him to propose to me yes like now yes 16 years ago my God after that long kiss I near lost my breath yes he said I was a flower of the mountains yes so we are flowers all a womans body yes that was one true thing he said in his life and the sun shines for you today yes...
...I was a Flower of the mountains yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him and yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will yes.

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Monday, June 15, 2009

"And one by one..."

Three more W. B. Yeats pictures, from photos I found on Google photos ...

For some reason, I couldn't be as free and easy with Yeats as I was with Whitman--maybe it was just the hats or that wonderful face hair that made Whitman so much easier to let go with. And Whitman's image is somewhat iconic, I guess; I don't think I'd ever looked at Yeats so much.
This photo of an older Yeats, which you may be familiar with, is really wonderful and I didn't do it justice here: I didn't get the beauty in his face. Amazing what a few small "misses" can do to the overall effect--I made the face too wide, I think, or maybe it's not long enough, but, worse, I lost that lovely pouty lower lip. I really like the way his lower juts out: sensuous or just pugnacious? It appeals to me either way!
It's a great photo though, and no doubt I'll try it again sometime.

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

HEARD the old, old men say,
'Everything alters,
And one by one we drop away.'
They had hands like claws, and their knees
Were twisted like the old thorn-trees
By the waters.
'All that's beautiful drifts away
Like the waters.'
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Saturday, June 13, 2009

pilgrim soul

Today is William Butler Yeats's birthday; he was born 6/13/1865.
I planned to do four studies of Yeats at different ages, but we went fishing, and this is as far as I got--sorry W.B.--a young Yeats, serious and pouty-lipped.
Tomorrow, a day late, I'll paint the older handsome sad (or is it chagrin?) Yeats.

When You Are Old

When you are old and grey and full of sleep
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

A Coat

I made my song a coat
Covered with embroideries
Out of old mythologies
From heel to throat;
But the fools caught it,
Wore it in the world's eyes
As though they'd wrought it.
Song, let them take it,
For there's more enterprise
In walking naked.
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Friday, June 12, 2009


So much rain, so much work to finish ... but I did get up and out on the bike early (for me!) this morning. It was sunny when I set out, but became increasingly cloudy.
It was low tide, so I decided to park the bike and walk on the beach, since low tide's the optimum time to find beach glass.
I was all alone as far as I could see in either direction, and decided to slow my usual brisk pace to a meander.
I started these two watercolor sketches before it began to rain ... I packed up my little kit, but continued walking on the beach in the warm rain--it felt so elemental.

Added a little when I got home. I have to work on my depiction of the wrack left behind by the outgoing tide.

(This post's title is from a typo in the first version of this post--which I typed and then read without my glasses! Amazingly only two typos found; just like this: becaming.)
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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A rare sunny day

A colored pencil sketch of the Delaware Bay from one of the streets near my house.
Last night's yoga was invigorating--I woke up two hours earlier than usual, and since it was nice and sunny, went out on my bike for a ride and some sketching.
Another stretch of beach was covered with seagulls, so I stopped to try to draw some ... Very tricky business.

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Tuesday, June 09, 2009

sketchercise 2


My day 2 Sketchercise plans were called on account of rain. (It seems to me that since my resolve to get out and bike more, we have been having an inordinate number of rainy days!) The sun's just come out--but, today, it's too late for me!
To keep it from being a total bust, I went out and weeded the tomato patch and straightened up the yard a bit ... until the mosquitoes drove me in.
On the bright side, I'm starting back with yoga tonight! My yoga pants just barely fit, so it's not a moment too soon.

I made the little sketch above of a pink around my birdbath using the Sai Japanese brush pens I read about at Laurelines and that I've only used once before (in my August 3, 2008 post).
I'd like to explore different sketching media--I have all sorts of things in my closet that I never use; sketchercising's a good excuse to bring them out.
I did the little pink on the left first and was totally unsatisfied with it, so I thought, Why am I being so careful, and did another trying to just get down the general idea.

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Monday, June 08, 2009

sketchercise 1

My inaugural Sketchercise post. I just joined Sketchercise, a network started by Katherine Tyrrell, of the always fabulous, thought-provoking and informative blog Making a Mark, to promote sketching done on-site while walking, biking, kayaking or doing some other physical activity.
I first read about Sketchercise on Cathy's blog, A Sketch in Time, where she beautifully chronicles life in Johannesburg with really stunning drawings and paintings of the landscape and vibrant street life.

I want very much to develop the habit of drawing regularly; most of the drawing I do is preliminary to watercolor painting, though I do enjoy making little watercolors sketches with no drawing. I'd like to do more drawing for its own sake.

Fishing, I think, kind of stretches the idea of "exercise," unless you count lugging all the equipment to the boat and cleaning it all afterward. But, fishing is what I did yesterday, so ...

Bijou box, water brush, and 3x5 Moleskine watercolor sketchbook. I keep this little kit in the tote I bring fishing, which also contains sunscreen, bug spray, hats, sunglasses, lip balm, a sweatshirt, reading glasses and a book.
I have another watercolor kit I keep in my bike's handlebar bag; I think I'd like to add pencils and ink pens too.

Two versions of the view from our little boat while flounder fishing in the back bays off Wildwood on Sunday.
It was a lovely day for fishing and we caught two good-sized flounder--next time I catch one I'll sketch it!
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Friday, June 05, 2009

prior to the cacciatore


Okay, even I'm getting sick of this setup!
I didn't learn how to paint a green pepper--what was that Hawthorne quote, "Don't learn how to do things, keep inquiring how"?--but I did learn, and it's a good lesson, that even when I think I don't have time or energy or ideas, I can still do some painting. Waiting for the time or an idea is like waiting for "inspiration," which I gave up waiting for long ago.
It's good to just throw a few items together and explore.

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Thursday, June 04, 2009

Vegetable bin still life #2.
I keep trying to define the green pepper more--some people never learn!--but in my indecisiveness let it get too wet.
I'm hoping these pepppers will hold up for a couple more days: painting them day after day should, in theory, lead to ... something.
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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Vegetable bin still life.
Green peppers, which look so simple to paint with their fluted forms, always confound me. I tried too hard on the green pepper to get every little light and dark I saw--usually a mistake, no matter the subject. Then I went in and tried to "fix" and get it right. (Contrary to my advice to others!)
On the other hand, the red pepper, which I felt was not going so well--and so left alone!--turned out much better.
Painter, heal thyself!
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Monday, June 01, 2009

This weekend cleaning out the shed I found a blue and white striped tablecloth. It was densely striped, so I left a lot out here. I wanted just enough to make the cloth make sense. even so, there may be too many!

Just as a follow-up to Walt Whitman, I wanted to share with you this poem by one of my other early favorite poets, Langston Hughes.

I, Too, Sing America
by Langston Hughes

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

I'll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody'll dare
Say to me,
"Eat in the kitchen,"

They'll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed--

I, too, am America.

And a Hughes poem I memorized some years back
(so I'm not sure I have the line breaks right!):

I play it cool
And dig all jive
And that's the reason
I stay alive

My motto as I live
And learn is
Dig and be dug
in return.

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