Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Marigolds, Acrylic Demo on 11 x 9 canvas paper
Day 28 of Leslie Saeta's 30 in 30 challenge

Find Simplicity...

“Three Rules of Work:
Out of clutter find simplicity.
From discord find harmony.
In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”

Albert Einstein

I've read this quote many times. I'm told it comes from Einstein - figures. Whatever the case, it always seems a good fit for my daily life. Today is no different. 

The attached painting is my demonstration from this past Thursday night's acrylic class. I'm working to learn things about acrylics that I might share with a class of seven. Although I don't know much about this medium, it's teaching me so much - for example, how to find harmony from the disconnect I feel between oil painting that I'm familiar with, and acrylic painting which I know very little about. I am relying on my knowledge of drawing and application of paint. The beauty of acrylics is they dry quickly, that said, the drawback to acrylics is they dry quickly. :)

I'm accustomed to working with paint plus odorless Gamsol in stages of wet in wet. Of course we can work with oils in layers but the processes are still different. Whatever the case, in this time of learning to teach, I find myself identifying even more with the final line of this quote"...In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity." Isn't everyday this way?

Here's another small work in acrylic. Thanks for stopping by and please visit me at

Acrylic on canvas paper, 6 x 9

Peace and Health all -

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

 Last of the Marigolds...

Marigolds and Grape, 8 x 10 oil on canvas panel

I picked flowers this morning for a small study. The set up is basic - leftover matboard serves as a dark background for the bright petals which I showcase in a little oil bottle from the kitchen counter. My grandmother's tablecloth offers a bright value to the surface of my dresser. The grape gives a nice dark value. I'm keeping to my idea of minimal brushstrokes or painting knife marks with these little paintings. FuN!

Off camera to the left I have a window with northern light. I like this lighting effect for the soft quality it offers the subject matter. It's constant in terms of the color and does not burn out areas of the composition. Some days I place subject matter in a shadow box made from a larger cardboard box. I cut a hole in the box just large enough for my light source to illuminate the darkened area and cast raking light over whatever I'm painting. This morning I placed things out this way because I only expected to work for a hour and fifteen. Sometimes the set up can take me a good hour to work out what with decisions on set up. It's good to just throw some things out at times and see what I get as a result - a less is more kind of thing.

This small work gets me ready for the day, and is my post for Day 21 of Leslie Saeta's 30 in 30 challenge. 

Enjoy the day all and thanks for stopping by. Please visit me at 

Peace and Health

Set up with marigolds

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Cone detail

Shape and Color...


I put together a study this morning for an acrylic class I'm teaching the next eight weeks. We're looking at basic forms, sphere, cone, cylinder and pyramid as they appear in everyday objects. We're using them to break down complex forms. Color theory is part of our discussion too, hence the color chart on the full panel pictured below.

My knowledge of acrylics is limited. In fact, I went into this class thinking I would be sharing information about oil painting. It's been enlightening... ;)



Cone made up of newsprint and color chart, acrylic on
8 x 10 canvas panel

 The cone image to the right is charcoal - a demo for a class in charcoal. It gave me the idea to
use this object as what I hope will be a fun exercise in acrylic.

I do a value study in charcoal before beginning a painting in oil. This set up for my charcoal class was about the economy of mark making - how to interpret the light and shadow, plus print with a direct light source using minimal marks.

Of course, this is still a cone and the light behaves in the same way it would with a regular cone shape. We have light and shadow that follows the shape: including the brightest bright, areas of mid-tone, the deeper core shadow and cast shadow with dark affects where the cone displaces space, a softening of the shadow as it moves away from the cone, and reflected light that shows up as a result of the surface of the table top the cone rests upon. I enjoyed the exercise - and I'm happy to say my charcoal students liked it very much. Good things. :)

Thanks for stopping by and be well...

Peace and Health,

Monday, September 19, 2016

Using Up Leftover Paint...

Mountain City using leftover paint, 6 x 6 oil on canvas panel

So I'm done with painting for the day and am left with a bit of color on my palette. It's seldom very much, but I don't want to waste the product. It's too costly for that, so I usually do one of two things with leftover paint. With knife in hand I might scrap up the remains of the day and store it in an empty tube purchased at the art store. These metal tubes are great for this and I can seal up the open end with pliers. The combination of all colors makes various warm and cool gray tones for future paintings. 

The other option is to pick up a small canvas  and do something minimal with the limited palette that remains. Here is one of these for today and my post for Leslie Saeta's 30 in 30 challenge, Day 19. I had folks visiting last week, and my teaching has started back after the summer months, so it's been several days since I posted. There are loads of great artists participating. Fun things....check it out here

Value sketch in charcoal - preparation for oil painting
Want to share this lovely toned tan paper by Strathmore. I get these pads pretty often and enjoy the quality of the mark made against the paper. The tone is nice and would be great with a bit of white chalk to accent the brightest areas of highlight.

Thanks for stopping by and please visit me at

Peace and Health all -  :)

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Loading Up With Paint...

Lemon with Cherries, oil on 5 x 7 canvas
The painting knife is pretty great for loading up the paint to a surface. It often makes me think me think of the juicy texture involved with the process of icing a cake. While both are wonderful, of course we eat cake and paint a canvas. That said, there is a certain excitement that naturally goes with loading my painting knife with buttery paint, and moving it about the surface of my panel or canvas. It takes me to another place where control sort of goes hand in hand with a level of abandonment. :)
I look for shapes, light and dark patterns, keeping values in mind as they work with painterly applications of color. Once I get past the initial layer or two, there is a point where the acceptance of more paint just comes into play. Lemon with Cherries is an example of painting knife work and is my post for Day 14 of Leslie Saeta's 30 in 30 challenge.
Along with brushes, rags and medium, I have a good supply of knives equipped with pointed tips, or shapes; some for spreading, and others that I use just because they help me cover large areas of canvas quickly with a mother color - like those I might use for greens in a landscape. My favorite knives have great flexibility and give nicely so I can apply paint, scrap it away in places, and push it into the surface to model or sculpt at will. Fun things...

Painting with knives offers various techniques. The following images show a few paintings I've worked using knives. Thanks for stopping by and Happy Painting! 

Being, Rocks and Water, Plein Air, oil on 8 x 10 canvas

November Morning, Plein Air, oil on 8 x 8 canvas
Grapes with Sunlight, oil on 7 x 5 canvas

Tuesday, September 13, 2016


Aspects of Daily Life...

Study with Oranges, detail from 24 x 18 - looking at vertical space
Today's post shows practice pieces - the first is detail from a 24 x 18 study with oranges, next is a sketch for my weekend charcoal class, and then a practice landscape sketch in acrylic for a painting class. Study with Oranges is my post for Day 13 of Leslie Saeta's 30 in 30 challenge. For more information on this event, here's the link


I found this small coffee pot at our local thrift store. It look so nice with a single lemon that I worked up a charcoal study as preparation for my Saturday class this week. We always refer back to basic shapes, cone, cube, cylinder, pyramid and sphere when working a still life with direct light source. The facets on the side of the metal pot can be broken down as basic shapes within the basic shape of the pot - great! They also offer shading which helps define the structure of the object.
Coffee Pot with Lemon, study for an upcoming class in charcoal    

Cartersville pasture, 6 x 8 acrylic on canvas paper
This small landscape is a practice acrylic work using the very few acrylic paints I own to date - a blue, yellow, umber and white. Two weeks ago I was asked to teach a painting class. I understood it would be a session in oil, but to my surprise everyone had purchased acrylics. It turns out this is an either or class and the students get to choose. Oil and Acrylic painting processes are similar and very, very different at the same time.

This said, I appreciate the opportunity to share what I do know and learn new things. It's a make it work time for me, and practice is my ally. Acrylic is a medium that I know very little about, so in order to create a class that people can learn from - including myself - I'm working to figure some things out with the very few acrylic paints I have on about a limited palette, this is it.   :) 

Thanks for stopping by and enjoy the day all. Please visit me at

Peace and Health

Monday, September 12, 2016

Asking Questions...

Morning Study - Coffee Press with Citrus, 10 x 8  
I work to paint every day. This does not mean I complete every painting I begin. Some are wiped away and never seen again. A daily routine does give me time for practice with color, brushstrokes and thought process. I work toward completing paintings for sales, commissions and exhibitions. I ask myself questions because oil painting, like all things, takes time to work out.

Questions often start with "how do I paint this or that object?" "What is the mother color of that tree line?" "Does the color or value I'm looking at seem warm or cool?" And a big one..."How is it the world looks the way it does?" There are others but these come to mind.

Time restraints involved with daily paintings prevent me from overthinking. I work on the larger picture, form, shape, space, value. This process translates to painting outdoors when I must make the most of each brushstroke - painting economically to communicate a scene before the light shifts. I rely on small surfaces in these instances, working in 90 minute intervals. After this time frame, lighting changes are too great and I move on. I can return on a similar day and pick up the painting process, or begin a new painting.

So keeping in mind my idea to limit brushstrokes with these daily works, Coffee my post for Day 12 of Leslie Saeta's 30 in 30 challenge. This work was painted using brush and knife. The composition is based on the small letter j.

Antique Jug - color chart on 11 x 14 canvas paper
This photo shows how I might approach a subject in terms of color. I made up a color chart to better determine how to paint this large old jug. Love the character of this object so I did multiple charts. This is one example.

Thanks for stopping by and have a great day.

Please visit me at

Peace and Health all -

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Playing with Background & Like Values...

Study for White Bowl, oil on 10 x 10 primed wood panel
It's a teaching day for me, but I have these really lovely maple wood panels and have wanted to try an oil primer on them to see how well they will accept paint. Painting the background on this panel was fun. I prepped the wood by sanding and giving it two applications of oil primer. The surface accepted paint pretty well, but it took three layers to build up the surface paint.

The best fun to me was playing with transparent colors when painting the background. I enjoyed using rags and brushstrokes to push the Burnt Sienna and Umber about the surface. Some wood shows through and that's okay with me for this piece.

I'm using this one for Day 10 of Leslie Saeta's 30 in 30 challenge - time to pack up and head out. I hope you all have a good day and thanks for stopping by.

Please visit me at

Peace and Health all - :)

Friday, September 9, 2016

Water's Edge, 6 x 6 canvas panel

Practice to Learn...

Studies help me to learn so much; those things that work and also what does not. These practice paintings are not always the strongest work, but they allow me to examine subject matter with no preconceived notion - other than the learning involved. In this case, I can practice the figure and go forward with a working knowledge of what to improve upon. I've put together several smaller paintings this summer as prep for a series of larger pieces, 24 x 24 size paintings. I got out yesterday and did a few others. Here is Day 9 for Leslie Saeta's 30 in 30 challenge and a few of my finds...

Thanks for looking - I welcome you to visit me at 

Peace and Health all - 

Beach Accessories, 8 x 8 oil on canvas panel   SOLD

Perfect Onesie, 6 x 6 oil on canvas panel   SOLD

Active Wear, 6 x 6 oil on canvas panel  SOLD

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Sparkling Water with Green Apple & Grapes, 8 x 8 oil on canvas

Cylinder & Spheres...

This sparkling water can has interesting color. I have put it together with orange and grapes previously and enjoyed the process. See the attached photo below.

This time I chose a different setting and focused on the capture of light across the composition. It was fun and allowed me to vary brushstrokes and painting knife marks.

My daily sketch from last evening, these objects were great to consider in terms of minimal brushstrokes and limited color. Sparkling Water with Green Apple & Grapes is my post for Day 8 of Leslie Saeta's 30 in 30 challenge. I start a new painting class tonight and hope to get a good demo for tomorrow's post. Until then, Happy Painting all and thanks for stopping by.

Peace and Health -
Sparkling Water Can with Orange Slice & Grapes, 10 x 8 oil on canvas

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Breaking Down  Information...

Study for Waiting, 6 x 6 oil on canvas panel


Study for Waiting is my post for Day 7 of Leslie Saeta's 30 in 30 challenge. I'm working each of these smaller studies with the mindset of economy; a minimal number of marks and brushstrokes to complete the image. A limited palette is helpful.

I enjoy working the figure so I practice often. It's great fun and learn or refine things with every attempt. Simplification helps me. In the beginning stages of any work I rely upon directional lines and shapes to help me break down still life, landscape or the figure.

A simple curved line can be the first step in creating a figure. Whether I'm working with vine charcoal or brush, I begin the mark and use the whole of my arm and shoulder to create the flow of this line. It's one swift motion.

Additional lines indicate limbs. A sphere works for the basic shape of the head, oval for the torso, cylinder for the pelvis, and smaller spheres make up the joints. These last indications go a long way toward helping me gauge proportion.

Here is the breakdown of a gestural work and the resulting refined sketch for Practice in charcoal. I may do three or four of these, with various poses before starting a refined sketch.

Thanks for stopping by...Happy Drawing, Happy Painting. I welcome you to visit me at

Peace and Health - :)

Breaking Down the Figure, charcoal on 9 x 12 newsprint

Practice, charcoal on paper, 18 x 12

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Shallots with Bowl, 8 x 8 oil on canvas panel

Red, Blue, Yellow & White...

These shallots were sitting at my desk yesterday. I love their coloring. I'd been working on a drawing for a while. Switching gears keeps me sane...most of the time, so I picked out my size 8 or 10 angled brush, a smaller palette knife and my glass palette of red, blue, yellow and white. I can't be positive of the size anymore of my brushes, the print wears away quickly; I guess most of the time.

The set up for this was very quick. I placed the items on a cloth just under a lamp with a daylight bulb and started painting. Light across the objects was my goal, so I kept things brief; lights first then mid tones and the addition of darker values to ground things.

This is my post for Day 6 of Leslie Saeta's 30 in 30 challenge. Thanks for taking a moment to look and I hope your day is good. Please visit me at and be well.

Peace and Health all - :)

Monday, September 5, 2016

 Keeping It Simple...

Blue Bowls, Red Apples, oil on 8 x 10 canvas

Simple them and learn from them every day. They provide familiar shapes that I can refine, push and abstract. I enjoy the freedom and the boundaries.

Keeping with limited palette and brushstrokes, this is my post for Day 5 of Leslie Saeta's 30 in 30 challenge. I've also included a charcoal on wood from my studies about the art of dance. Our daughter is a wonderful muse.

Thanks for stopping by. I invite you to visit me at

Peace and Health all - :)

Dance study, charcoal on wood panel, 12 x 12

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Mountain Village, oil on 8 x 8 gallery wrapped canvas

Reliance on my Painting Knife...

The painting portion of a session is always more fun than the clean up. Does anyone
else feel this way?

This is one of many reasons I often choose a painting knife - the ease of clean up. A wipe of my rag, and it's done. :) It also gives me choice concerning the mark I make. I can get movement and unique color combinations. I enjoy the way paint moves with a knife. It's behaves much differently than it does with brush. Hidden somewhere within the blade I may discover grayed down red or blue hues that comes forth with great abandonment. I love that...

Still keeping the economy of paint in mind for this study, I choose it for Day 4 of Leslie Saeta's 30 in 30 challenge. Please visit me at

Below are photos that show some of my process with a Blind Contour Drawing Exercise. These are fun and meant to be super fast. I place a hole through a sheet of paper to block my view of the paper I draw on. I look only at the subject when I draw. The idea is to look at the subject matter and really focus for seconds at a time on the edges of the object, and even the surrounding space. I number these and look at progress in just five minutes time. As I said, they are super fast and great fun. They really work to inform me as I take a closer more refined look at these same objects.

Thanks for stopping by - Peace and Health all...

Placing charcoal pencil through newsprint

Side view

Blind Contour Drawing with charcoal - I worked with a skull and oil lamp

Blind Contour Drawing with graphite - drill, apple, travel cup, milk carton

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Light and Dark...

Dark Grapes with Lemon, 8 x 10 oil on canvas

Today was a full day of teaching and meeting with a client. I'm as I stick to my idea of working pieces with limited palette and brushstrokes, I put together this set up of lemon and grapes. The light and dark nature of this work appeals to me - patterns give me guidance every time and I can always use that. :) It's my pick for Day 3 of Leslie Saeta's 30 in 30 challenge.

Thanks for looking and please visit me at 

Peace and Health all -

Friday, September 2, 2016


Limited Palette and Brushstrokes...

Watering Can and Bowl
  This watering can belonged to my grandmother and it seems the perfect object for Day 2 of Leslie Saeta's 30 in 30 challenge. I continue my focus of economy in palette and brushstrokes with this fun study.

  I called my grandmother Abby, short for Abigail. She preferred this because, in her words, she was "too young to have a grandchild." I think of her whenever I use this can in a still life or to carry water to plants. I think of pulling weeds alongside her in the garden, or how we'd tie up tomato plants and the conversation in between all that.

  Shape and coloring draw me to this can. I appreciate the deception of this simple vessel, which is anything but easy. It makes me think about perspective, value and how to push color theory. Not unlike moments with my grandmother...all good stuff.

Thanks for stopping in and enjoy the day. I welcome you to visit me at
Peace and Health - :)

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Counting Brushstrokes...

Last of the Toms, oil on 8 x 8 primed paper
One...Two...Three.....and so on... :)

I've been cleaning out the garden the past two days, ten minutes here, twenty minutes there helps me take breaks and enjoy time outside the studio in the afternoon.  Our limited number of tomatoes made me think of restricting the number of brushstrokes in a tomato study.

So I started Day 1 of Leslie Saeta's 30 in 30 painting challenge with the idea of using no more than 50 brushstrokes. These are fun and I learn so much. Limiting my palette and the number of times I move brush or knife across the surface of a painting helps me stay mindful of the economy in painting. I work to make the most of the time I have and take in the broader shapes.

Thanks for looking and enjoy the day all. Visit me at

Peace and Health -