Saturday, March 27, 2010

Antiquity, 8x10, abstract floral, palette knife floral

"Antiquity", 8x 10, oil on linen panel

I was really pleased with the way this came out. It started out as a landscape and turned into this! So it was one of those nice accidents!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Nadia, 14x18, oil on linen, portrait of Nadia, women with earrings, impressionist portrait

"Nadia", 14x 18, oil on linen

I started this portrait over a year ago, and once again I have found that it's best to never give up on a painting, just give it some time to percolate a bit as your skills and courage improve.

I have gained some confidence recently , thanks to painting workshops with David Leffel and Jon Greeley, so I decided to take Nadia out of the closet and finish her last night, in an attempt to relax after what was truly a trying day that had nothing to do with art!

Last spring I took a three day portrait workshop with Julie Hanson. In addition to being a fabulous colorist, Julie was once a sculptor and her relief sculpture, "Morning", won the prestigious Salmagundi Club award from the Pen & Brush in New York City. In that workshop, Julie taught me a great deal about the structure of a face, and afterwards invited me to paint for a few weeks along with a small group of portrait painters who would meet at a home in Sarasota once a week. Nadia was one of the models we painted from, and although she was new to modeling and changed position quite a bit as we struggled to paint her, she made a striking figure with her distinctive Spanish and Romanian features, which included abundant lips and Mediterranean skin coloring.

Here are the steps that I went through to get to the finished product:

This was the initial rough-in.

This was as far as I got before I decided to put her in the closet.

The final version. Don't be surprised if I put her in the closet and take her out again a year from now!

Sunlit Courtyard, 12x16, oil on board


"Sunlit Courtyard", 12x16, oil on board

I remember doing this painting about three years ago when I was pretty much a novice painter. It was done with a palette knife only and has passages of colorful texture throughout. Subtle but impressionistic, I pitted purple against yellow when I painted it.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Lake of The Woods, 16x12, palette knife exhibit coming up in Atlanta

"Lake of the Woods", 16x12, oil on masonite

Some of you may remember this painting from last fall. It has been juried into an exhibit of Southeastern palette knife painters, to be held in Atlanta from April 2nd to April 30th. Juror of the exhibit is Angela Nesbitt, a talented palette knife painter who creates wonderful figurative work with an abstract quality, using a palette knife. The exhibit will be at The Gallery at Paper Mill Village, and the reception will be Friday April 9th from 6 to 8:30. Please stop by to see the exhibit if you are in the area!

To see Angela's work, please go here.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

St. Augustine- "Bottom of Bridge Street", 20x16, oil on linen

"St. Augustine, Bottom of Bridge Street"- 16x20 , oil on linen

This is a view of the doorway into the courtyard of The Sanchez House, in St. Augustine, a lovely old historic house that was built by Jose Simeon Sanchez, one of the Spanish colony of Florida's first and foremost statesmen. Crafted of coquina stone, the house hosted the prosperous and distinguished Sanchez family until the 1950's.

The gesture of the bougainvillea (which is the focal point of the painting) directs the eye towards the palm tree, which leads the eye to the little sailboat. Hence the viewer's eye is led through the composition in a circular fashion.

Bridge Street in St. Augustine is one of my favorite streets. It has a couple of real old quirky homes on it with wooden doors that just seem to scream out, "Paint Me! Paint Me!"

So I did just that. I painted this old wooden door, set in stone at the bottom of Bridge Street on the site of the old Sanchez House, and crowned with a garland of bougainvillea for good measure. I happened upon this gorgeous scene while out for an early morning bike ride while visiting St. Augustine. The camera was set on some sort of weird setting, but no matter. I was determined to paint the scene regardless of my lousy photography!

Thanks so much for visiting my art blog. Please visit my official website here.

If you would like to purchase this painting, please contact Leah at Collector's Gallery and Framery at 941-488-3029 for purchase information, or send me and email at

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Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Girl in the Blue Dress, 16x20, oil on linen

"The Girl in the Blue Dress, 16x20, oil on linen

I really think I could get hooked on painting portraiture. There is something so very satisfying about painting flesh and blood! It's not the skintones or the hair color and the sparkle in the eyes that's so intriguing- it is the intrinsic quality of the person- his or her unique characteristics translated into pieces of paint that makes portraiture such a challenging and deeply satisfying craft.

During my David Leffel workshop a couple weeks ago I started a painting of the workshop model, on the third day of the workshop. I worked on her for two days straight and discovered on Friday morning (the last day of the workshop) that the model would not be sitting for us until the afternoon session. So rather than waste time, I started another still life in the morning and worked on it throughout the day, and was very happy with the end result. That left an uncompleted painting of our model and a very unsatisfying photograph of her in which to work from.

In the past, I have had the wonderful opportunity to study with talented artist and friend Jon Greeley. Jon is a fantastic figurative artist and although I am sometimes overwhelmed by his talent and knowledge, I recently decided to begin studying with him again to hopefully increase my own ability to successfully paint figurative work. This past Friday was a real treat for me! I took my unfinished painting of Claudia to Jon's studio and we worked on it throughout the afternoon. Jon studied at the American Academy of Art in Chicago and has been painting portraits for many years, rigorously studying the techniques of both the Old and contemporary Masters. He has been showing me different palettes of the Old Masters and how to apply paint so as to sculpt, rather than just render, people and objects. When Jon applies a piece of paint, it is carefully thought out and applied with a sensitivity to the subject matter, much as David Leffel demonstrated in his workshop. Jon has won numerous awards for his figurative work, and I feel very fortunate to be able to study with him again.

In the painting above, Jon reworked the skin tones and model's features somewhat, and demonstrated how to apply pieces of paint with the same lovely abstract quality and sensitivity to the subject that I so enjoyed during David's self-portrait and still life demonstration. Today, I made a few minor adjustments to the painting but in the end I cannot truly take credit for the overall beauty and sensitivity of the model's face. I do hope that one day, I'll be able to apply paint with similar finesse!

"Artist colony- Balboa Park", 20x16, San Diego painting palette knife painting, Balboa Park street scene

"Artist Colony- Balboa Park", 20x16, oil on wrapped canvas

This painting seemed to be screaming out for a focal point, so today I made a couple subtle changes to the painting- most importantly, I changed the balding guy's shirt color from green to red and softened the tree in the distance. You can compare it with the photo of the painting below to see the changes.

"Artist Colony- Balboa Park", 20x16, oil on wrapped canvas-$550

Can you believe that I started this painting last summer while I was visiting my son in San Diego? I had brought my new Mabef French easel on the plane and I was determined to do some plein air painting while I was in beautiful southern California. So while my hubby visited the space museum, I sat down and started to paint this colorful scene in the little artist's community in Balboa Park.

The place is so colorful that it's hard to explain. Bougainvillea greets you at every corner,and there are colorful umbrellas and potted plants that adorn each of the brightly painted buildings. I chose this scene because I loved the perspective looking up the street (and all the colored umbrellas, of course).

Well, since it was a large canvas, I had promised myself I would go back every day that we were there to continue to paint the scene. (Hmmmmm... guess what didn't happen?)

Anyhow, this painting has been sitting in my closet for months, and truth be known I think I was unable to finish it because I was pretty intimidated by those colored tiles in the sidewalk. I had read that when you are painting even roof tiles and sidewalk tiles that you need to maintain the perspective in the scene. Well, as if it isn't hard enough to figure out how to paint the tiles without overwhelming the viewer, I was pretty intimidated about trying to keep the danged things in perspective as well!

This week, I said, "What the heck. Just do it and get it done with!" So I worked on it a couple nights this week and finally finished it! Yay! I even put my hubby in the scene! (Psst! He's the one with the bald head!) Here's my reference photo:

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Maggies' Roses, 8x10, -roses grapes, yellow and salmon colored roses and red grapes in silver decanter

"Maggie's Roses", 8x10, oil on wrapped linen

This was fun to do for a change!

Tough Night in the Hen House, 5x7, ugly roosters, hung-over roosters, big, ugly cocks with feathers, bad hair day

"Tough Night in the Hen House", 7x5, oil on linen panel

This rooster's appearance epitomizes the way I felt yesterday. Tough Night in the Hen House actually equates to Tough Day in the Art Studio because that's pretty much the way it's been going for me lately, and for quite some time.

One of my issues is that I am struggling to find myself again. As of last month I have been officially painting for four whole years! My four year journey into painting has been accompanied by many joys and successes overall. On the other hand, the amount of frustration has been rather agonizing for me, a perfectionist, and yesterday was a culmination of about six to eight months of misery.

Yes, over the past 8 months I have had some nice success with awards and shows- being juried into The American Impressionist Society this past summer was a huge accomplishment for me, and one that I am proud of. Recently one of my paintings was also juried into Paint America, Top 100, another prestigious competition and little feather in my cap to be proud of. There have been smaller successes as well, like merit awards at local shows and a couple second and third place ribbons as well. But do any of these things tell me that I am actually GROWING as an artist? Not really.

I recently took a workshop with acclaimed artist and teacher David Leffel. I enjoyed the workshop tremendously but was left wondering which direction I should follow in terms of overall style and technique. I frankly do not like representational realism at all- as beautiful as it can be, I find it frankly boring in terms of passion and overall expression. Please do not get me wrong- I have the utmost respect for painters of realism and can only imagine how many hours they have put into honing their drawing skills and brushwork in order to achieve such realistic-looking subjects. I consider Leffel to be more of an abstract realist whose objects are painted with an intrigue and mystery that superceeds the boredom that I usually feel when looking at a perfectly rendered still life or portrait. That is why I wanted to take his workshop in the first place.

ON the other hand, after taking it, I realize that it would be very hard for me to go in that direction, even if I were willing to take the time to hone my drawing skills and learn the ins and outs of a much more tonalist palette. As someone that started painting pretty late in life (54), I was already quite myopic at the age of 8 after a nasty bout with chicken pox or measles (can't remember which) that ruined my perfect eyesight, and truth be known, there are days when I feel almost blind while painting, what with being ultra sensitive to light, very near-sighted and very far-sighted at the same time, and having astigmatism as well. So for me to paint in a realistic style is pretty darned near impossible for me with my limiting eyesight. So I have gravitated towards impressionism and painting with a palette knife in order to compensate for poor eyesight and very unpolished drawing skills. It has worked to a point, but has also been limiting me in my own mind, since I do want to render more expressively than a palette knife allows me to do.

So I have been experimenting with different color palettes and a brush over the last 6 to 8 months with mixed emotions and totally underwhelmed by the results achieved. But I definitely need to stop focusing on my shortcomings and just go back to what I once enjoyed- which was to paint just for me! And with color! Beautiful, luscious color!

I look at some of the other daily painters whose work I admire and I sometimes wonder if they ever go through the same kind of angst that I seem to constantly have lately. One of my favorite painters is Robin Cheers and I was delighted to read her post today about perfectionism. That helped me a lot, so today I am going to try the same approach that Robin did, and see what happens. And no more comparing myself to painters like Dreama Tolle Perry, either, who has that same passion for color and impressionism that I have, but is quite successful at expressing it. By her own admission, Dreama has been swinging a paintbrush for 20 years, which gives her an 18 year head start on me! I'm betting Robin has had some very fine atelier type training, too, so I'd best not ever try to compare myself to her-ever!

So I said to myself "Self, just be you, and have fun and stop trying so hard!" That is the advice I am giving myself today, so we'll see if it helps.

Back to my rooster- he started out as a sunflower bouquet that went terribly wrong, then became an abstract landscape and finally evolved into a rooster. Although I generally enjoy painting roosters during the rare occasions that I do them, I was in such a bad mood while painting this one, that it just naturally translated into this guy's expression!

The painting easily has about two hundred dollars worth of thick, expensive and totally wasted paint in it, so I hope the person that buys him will realize that they got him for a bargain because he had a tough night in the hen house and I had a tough day in the art studio!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

"Solitude"-12x9, oil on Raymar panel-paintings of boats, sunrise, atmospheric paintings


"Solitude", 12x9, oil on Raymar panel

I have been struggling for quite some time now to get comfortable with myself as my art has been evolving into a less colorful and more sedate style of representational art. My recent studies with David Leffel have convinced me that I don't want to just be known as a palette knife artist whose style borders on fauvism. Having not had the luxury of a formal art education, I often have questioned the validity of my art.

So as I struggle to find my voice- my NEW voice- please bear with me.

This painting was done with a brush in colors that were very deliberately muted. I had toned the canvas first with_wait- you won't believe this- dark muddy gray!My goal was to create an atmospheric effect- the kind one feels at the end of an old day or at the promise of a new one. Please tell me if I have achieved a semblance of what I set out to do here as it was much harder for me than smashing a palette knife laden with thick pure paint in a haphazard way across the surface of a support.

Monday, March 08, 2010

The Dog Beach, 10x8, oil on wrapped linen paintings of beaches, dog beach, Venice Florida Dog Beach

SOLD"The Dog Beach", 10x8, oil on wrapped linen

Here in Venice Florida, we are fortunate to have a beach that is made exclusively for dogs! Dog lovers from far and about come here to just indulge their dogs, and as a dog lover myself, it is quite a feast for the eyes to observe these dogs in total freedom of movement!

For the past few months, I have had the honor of dog-sitting my son's
Vizsla, a type of hound-dog that is sleek and muscular and cries all the time....

At any rate, I took the dog to the beach near my home a couple of times and he absolutely was in his glory! He made friends with other dogs that were there, had a dog park that was fenced in where he could run around and be totally free, and then at last there was the lovely beach.... I just wish my golden retriever had had a chance to run around on this beautiful Gulf beach before she'd passed away! Many dogs like retrievers swim in the warm Gulf waters, some don't swim at all, but regardless of their nautical expertise, a good time is had by all the dogs that come to this lovely beach in Venice, Florida!

I grabbed a few pictures recently while I was at the dog beach, and today I decided to use one for a reference for the above painting. The colorful beach umbrella added a heightened sense of FUN to the scene, so please enjoy!

Sunday, March 07, 2010

High Tide, Brohard Beach-plein air, Venice, Paint-out in paradise

"High Tide, Brohard Beach", 14x11, oil on linen

This was the other painting that I submitted for the plein air exhibit at the Venice Art Center's 5th annual Paint-Out in Paradise. This was done exclusively with a palette knife and is being sold framed. I was delighted that my other painting, "Hazy Morning, Higel Park" sold at Friday nights opening reception to a past collector, and I received some very nice compliments from judge Jane Chapin about that piece. Jane's work is amazing, by the way, and she has three incredible pieces on display at the exhibit!

Overall, it was a very lovely opening event, in spite of a week of lousy plein air weather, and all of the paintings in the exhibit are just wonderful to behold! The exhibit runs until March 18th, so if you are in the Southwest Florida area, be sure to come by the lovely Venice Art Center and see works of the area's finest plein air artists, including my friends and past teachers Hodges Soileau and Julie Hanson, both of whom won major awards at the exhibit!

Thursday, March 04, 2010

"Hazy Morning-Higel Park", plein air, 14x11


"Hazy Morning-Higel Park", plein air, 12x9, oil on linen

It's been a rather monstrous week for a Paint-Out, but maybe that's just my opinion.

Monday- the first day of the paint-out was a drop-dead gorgeous Florida day, by any standard other than this years! I had a bunch of things to do in the morning, and didn't get around to having my canvas stamped until after lunch. Then I started driving around and looking for that perfect painting spot. Turns out, every Floridian and snow bird that has been fed up by the Sunshine State's dismal last 4 months of frigid temperatures, decided to head out to the same perfect spots that I was in pursuit of!

There was no parking at any of the beaches to be found, and driving at 15 miles an hour along the Gulf while the hours are ticking away was torturous for an impatient person like me! I finally decided to go to Red Lake, off Casperson Beach, where I figured there would be some parking and a good scene to paint. There was. I started the painting around 3 in the afternoon and although I had a nice start and thought it would be decent enough for the exhibition, I couldn't finish it on site, which is a requirement of the competition. None of the weather conditions over the next couple days allowed me the chance to finish it either, unfortunately.

The next day,Tuesday- the bright sunny skies were totally displaced with a heavy haze and the early morning painting hours brought torential rains. I was out and about by 11 when the skies cleared, and although I hate to paint around noon, when there are no shadows, it didn't much matter on a hazy day. So I set up at the boat ramp at Higel Park's Marina and got comfortable with the beautiful, cool, dreamy light conditions. The hull of the sailboat in the distance kept changing course as it drifted, but other than that the scene seemed a good choice in terms of composition.

I'll discuss more about the "Paint-Out in Paradise" in future posts, but this much was for sure- with the exception of Monday, it certainly twasn't paradise in these here parts! Yesterday's gale force winds about knocked the socks off 'ya, let alone allowed a person to paint a decent picture!

Okay, that's enough whining for now.

If you live in Venice Florida, I would like to invite you to the opening reception of the paint-out, which is tomorrow night from 5 to 7 at the Venice Art Center. I saw a preview of the artwork when I dropped my paintings off this afternoon, and I guarantee that it will be a visual treat!

Hope to see you there!

By the way, if you wish to purchase this painting, you'll either need to contact the Venice Art Center, or else wait until the exhibit was over, and hope it doesn't sell. I've sold paintings in the past two years of the exhibit, so if in doubt, just call the art center at 941-485-7136 , to purchase by credit card.