Saturday, August 31, 2013

mess of cosmos

My just-under-the-wire submission to Evhe's August challenge on A Nos Pinceaux.
The reference photo is really nice and contains more lightness and air, which many of the other painters captured ... I feel I got a little heavy-handed here--I perhaps spent too much time on the drawing, leading me to "fill in"--but the photo's so nice, I'm going to try again.
Posted by Picasa

Friday, August 30, 2013

more bird sketches


More sketches for my bird drawing class.
I'm always amazed at how much I enjoy drawing, since I usually go right to the paint. 
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

drawing birds

Three sketchbook pages, lesson 1 of an online class in drawing birds in colored pencil with Val Webb.
I've been wanting to draw birds for quite a while, especially since I live on a major flyway for migrating birds, at the foot of the Delaware Bay: it seems a shame to not take advantage of such serendipity.
I'm also taking another class with Val, watercolor lettering, and I'm enjoying both and learning a lot. Val's lessons--in the form of videos and print-outs--are great; I feel like I'm learning ... which is a great feeling!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


End-of-day sketch of the view from my friends' hammock ... I had brought my paints and was determined to force myself to do something.
There are many lovely views of the river and the sky through the trees, all changing by the hour: a ready, always appealing subject.  

Thursday, August 22, 2013



Drew these on 90 lb. paper because I thought I'd go in with one wash and stop ... Of course, that's not what happened, and the washes got tired looking, which seems to happen quicker on lighter weight papers.
So, I'll consider these preliminaries and redraw them on 140 lb.

A few people asked, in comments on the previous post about too-absorbent paper, what paper I was using. I have a stockpile of paper, most of it Fabriano, some Arches, 140 lb., in sheets and blocks.
I don't know what causes the problem--where the paint sinks in instead of remaining on the surface for a bit ... It's very humid here at the Jersey shore, and I think that's probably the culprit.
I try to keep my papers, even in the block, covered (so I won't take a painting off the block until I'm going to start a new one), and I think that helps.
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

more boats, more reflection problems


Two boat paintings that have been propped up in my studio for too long ... I would pull one out and pick at it a bit, but last time I did so I noticed that the paint sunk right into the paper; you can see the effect of this especially in the lower right-hand corner of the second painting--the paper loses its sparkle entirely.
So, once again, a learning experience: don't procrastinate; summon the energy to push through to the end, or almost the end even.
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, August 18, 2013

with and without


Bought a big mixed bouquet, but decided to tackle only the gladiolas.
 The second one I did first, with no preliminary drawing. I started at the top, and while painting the tops blooms felt I was really struggling against my brush--a very soft pointed round; I could not get crisp edges ... By the bottom blossoms, I was thinking, What's wrong with messy edges?
The top one, I put down a wash, then drew the gladiola over it. I like to draw gladiolas, the overlapping petals arising from the center, and the way the blooms shoot out of the stem.
But I wasted too much energy on trying to get the color of the blooms right--a bright yellow, melding into coral and edged with deep red--when that really doesn't matter. I normally don't care about such precision, but the loveliness of the blooms seduced me.
If I did a portrait of one bloom, I think the color would matter more; these are more about the stem of flowers than the precise color.
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, August 17, 2013

plein air thursday

(7x12 Fabriano Rough)

(7x12 Fabriano Rough)
Thursday we were invited to paint at a house overlooking Cape May Harbor: in one direction, fishing boats; in the other, moored sailboats and kids taking lessons at the Yacht Club.
I decided to paint small(ish) so I wouldn't be too overwhelmed.
The challenge was to paint all that stuff behind the boats! Things that I couldn't really see, a lots of boat masts and rigging that I didn't want to even attempt to paint around ... Next time, I will make the boats bigger and leave out more of what surrounds them.
Our group also talked a lot of John Singer Sargent and the way he depicted water--often with an underpainting with just a few swipes to represent ripples ... I find it's easy to overdo it.
This is my favorite part of what I did:

Posted by Picasa

Friday, August 16, 2013

"sailing friends"

From Kathryn Smith's photo, "Sailing Friends," on Paint My Photo.
I liked this photo because I especially like those days when the sky and the water are all one soft, diffuse color: it's the quintessence of stillness ... (one wonders if these sailors are moving at all).
I painted the sky and sea in one wash, trying to vary the color slightly.
I think I still need to add some strength, and maybe more color, to the refelctions of the girls in the water ... but I hate to keep going back in: I tend to think more is lost than gained by continuing past a certain point. The trick is knowing when you have reached that point ... it's usually clearest in retrospect.
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

chalfonte again

The same scene/view; sketched on location, but painted in the relative comfort (the chair was definitely more comfortable) of home, without the time pressure.
Posted by Picasa

Friday, August 09, 2013


Took a little time off yesterday to join Marie Natale and some other students to paint outdoors in Cape May. Even though I find plein air painting to be more and more of a struggle, it does have wonderful relaxing effects--the whole day just goes by, everything else forgotten.
The front of the building was in shadow, so I washed the whole thing right off in shady colors ... then realized it was mistake. Maybe someday I'll know mistakes before I commit them.
I think the light on the bunting and the awning are the best parts.
Posted by Picasa