Friday, December 24, 2010

happy holidays

Happy Holidays to you all. I hope they're merry and bright.
I'll be away on vacation for a bit. See you, with new paintings, I hope, when I get back!

An excerpt from one of my favorite songs from the 1970 musical version of A Christmas Carol, Scrooge, starring Albert Finney as Scrooge and Kenneth Moore as the fabulous larger-than-life Ghost of Christmas Present, who sings this song:

I like life
Life likes me
Life and I fairly fully agree
Life is fine
Life is good
'Specially mine, which is just as it should be
I like pouring the wine and why not?
Life's a pleasure that I deny not

I like life
Here and now
Life and I made a mutual vow
'Till I die
Life and I
We'll both try to be better somehow
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Friday, December 17, 2010


An unfinished painting of Peter's daughter, Melyssa. I kept fussing and fussing with the eyes, especially her right eye, until the paper had become quite exhausted with it: me too.
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Monday, December 13, 2010

"the darkling thrush"

County Mayo scene for this month's Virtual Paintout. I found a few lovely scenes that I'd like to paint, though, like others, I wandered further afield than the locale chosen for the paintout, Galway, into Clare and Mayo too.

Below is another poinsettia; the final version of one of the ones started in class.
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And a poem emailed to me by that seemed just right for this cold, windy, gray day:

The Darkling Thrush
by Thomas Hardy

I leant upon a coppice gate
    When Frost was spectre-gray,
And Winter's dregs made desolate
    The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
    Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
    Had sought their household fires.

The land's sharp features seemed to be
    The Century's corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
    The wind his death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
    Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
    Seemed fervourless as I.

At once a voice arose among
    The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
    Of joy illimited;
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
    In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
    Upon the growing gloom.

So little cause for carolings
    Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
    Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
    His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
    And I was unaware.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

poinsettias in the making

In out last class of the season, our teacher Marie encouraged us to try another method to paint our poinsettias. We started with loose (as loose as we could manage) wet washes of poinsettia shapes (below); when that dried, we started to pick out the shapes with negative painting (above).
I haven't finished mine yet, but I'm finding the method very relaxing!

(12x16, detail)
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Wednesday, December 08, 2010

"lonely, or if you prefer, self-sufficient"

I find myself always admiring grays in other people's paintings, but can never seem to get to gray in my own. This seemed like a good subject for trying out some neutrals.
I also used watercolor pencils for the twigs in the foreground and bleed-proof white for the snow.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010



I started this portrait of my friend Shelby's eldest, Dejda, from a photo taken when she was a little girl. The features are all off, but in the photo I like the backlighting and Dejda's expression, which I have not come near to capturing here and can't even really think of words for, so I think I'll try again, being more careful with the initial drawing.

Here's a poem I found in my inbox:

Billy Collins

All we need is fourteen lines, well, thirteen now.
and after this one just a dozen
to launch a little ship on love's storm-tossed seas,
then only ten more left like rows of beans,
How easily it goes unless you get Elizabethan
and insist the iambic bongos must be played
and rhymes positioned at the end of lines,
one for every station of the cross.
But hang on here while we make the turn
into the final six where all will be resolved,
where longing and heartache will find an end,
where Laura will tell Petrarch to put down his pen,
take off those crazy medieval tights,
blow out the lights, and come at last to bed.
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Sunday, December 05, 2010

those who wait


I visited with my dear friends Lisa and Mike this weekend: there's no one like the friends who love you and who you love for getting you back to yourself.
I haven't painted, except for a little very unsatisfying mushing about, for nearly three months, but Mike insisted we paint. So this morning we set up this little still life, clementines and a ceramic pitcher with a gorgeous coppery glaze and a wonderful shape.
Mike's limited-palette painting, below, has imbued the objects with a beautiful humility and earthy sensuality that makes me think of Chinese brush painting.


Fortuitously, the day before I went on my visit, Rhonda kindly sent me a great link, which really helped me think about what was keeping me from painting and how to get back to it: Thank you again, Rhonda!

by Walt Whitman

Nothing is ever really lost, or can be lost,
No birth, identity, form—no object of the world.
Nor life, nor force, nor any visible thing;
Appearance must not foil, nor shifted sphere confuse thy brain.
Ample are time and space—ample the fields of Nature.
The body, sluggish, aged, cold—the embers left from earlier fires,
The light in the eye grown dim, shall duly flame again;
The sun now low in the west rises for mornings and for noons continual;
To frozen clods ever the spring's invisible law returns,
With grass and flowers and summer fruits and corn.
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