Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy holidays

Happy holidays to everyone!

I'll be taking a little hiatus in January, as I usually do. Which doesn't necessarily mean I'm not going to paint, but I like to free myself from the responsibility to update my blog, send weekly emails, etc.

In the meantime, my Etsy paintings are 20% off through the end of the year, and the Giant Sale also runs through December. There are some good deals at my DPW gallery too, and of course the 2013 Calendar is still for sale.

This year I've been sick since December 13. Some sort of horrible flu or cold, I don't know what. A touch of bronchitis... at any rate, it kept me indoors and miserable for 11 straight days. But I'm definitely on the mend and enjoying Christmas with my husband, my insane cat, and our dear friends.

The image on left is from a painting I did a couple years ago. I put some kind of filter on it in Photoshop, I don't remember what. But I like the batik-looking result. Then I turned it into an animated gif using layers and painted in the stars.

I want to thank everyone for your support and encouragement. Your comments and feedback — and purchases! — mean a great deal to me. See you next year!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Meadow, Grove, and Stream - Sold


You can view this painting here.

This is a larger version of Amaranth and Asphodel. Not sure which I like best, but then I suppose I don't have to choose :)  This one shows more of the sun just skimming the top of the far-away trees.

It's named after a line from a Wordsworth poem. There IS a stream in the landscape, but it's pretty much out of view on the right.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Slant of Light

6x6 inches

You can view and purchase this painting here.

 It's still very autumny here in North Carolina, but now that we're a week into December I wanted to paint something wintry.  I could wait a long time for it to snow - some years we have none at all - so I worked from this photo reference. I think it's in the Oakwood area of Raleigh, but don't really remember.

A fun one to paint - barely any warm colors at all, although when I started mixing up paints I realized the snow was really a blue-green, not a blue-purple, so that keeps it from looking icy-cold. Cozy.

I'm not entirely happy with the house. My structures tend to be either too soft and mushroomy, or over-illustrated. I should have changed brushes to do the house - used something with a clean, thin edge, so I could make crisper corners. Oh well, next time... I'm remembering Laurel Daniel's excellent advice, which was: "fix your mistakes on the next painting."  It's good advice indeed - messing around with a painting after it's "done" rarely leads to a good outcome, for me. I usually put my finished paintings on the mantelpiece for a few days, so I can review them and decide if they need more work. Sometimes I'll see that one little thing that needs tweaking, but more often than not I choose to leave it alone. I've ruined more paintings than I've fixed by trying to edit after the fact.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Amaranth and Asphodel

6x6 inches
oil on MDF

You can view and purchase this painting here.

New favorite alert! I'm really liking the slanted sunlight this time of year.  Autumn is the best time to paint in North Carolina, because it's low humidity and the skies are blue instead of white, there are fewer insects getting in your paint, and thank goodness it's not HOT.

This scene is on the walking path through the sculpture garden at the NC Museum of Art.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Pine Grove

6x6 inches
oil on MDF

You can view and purchase this painting here.

Pleasant it was, when woods were green,
And winds were soft and low,
To lie amid some sylvan scene,
Where, the long drooping boughs between
Shadows dark and sunlight sheen
Alternate come and go.
—Voices Of the Night by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

These pine trees at the NC art museum are so soft looking, and filled with different colors in the sunlight and shadows.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Companionable Streams

6x6 inches
Oil on MDF

You can view and purchase this painting here.

The title is from a poem  by William Butler Yeats:

They paddle in the cold
Companionable streams or climb the air;
Their hearts have not grown old;
Passion or conquest, wander where they will,
Attend upon them still.
But now they drift on the still water,
Mysterious, beautiful
—The Wild Swans At Coole

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Cafe Society

6x6 inches
oil on MDF


This is a scene from the shopping/dining district in Manteo - which is about two square blocks. This is a more complicated scene than I usually undertake, and it's always a bear trying to decide what to leave in and what to take out.

I've been using some wonderful reference photos lately - taken by the crew/owners of s/v Ortolan. I found their sailing blog while searching for something or other, and it's packed with great photos of their travels. They were kind enough to let me use all the photos I want. Thanks! 

Thank you!

Thanks for buying my artwork!

You may want to subscribe to my email newsletter to get news about sales, workshops, etc.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Farm Gate

oil on MDF

You can view and purchase this painting here.

This time of year, you get low, slanting sunlight no matter what time of day it is. It's especially dramatic at sunrise and sunset. I've got several more in the pipeline with this light effect. It makes the colors crazy intense!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Against the Sunset

oil on MDF

You can view or purchase this painting here.

Well, I guess I keep having new favorites. This one got a little overworked, because I wasn't getting the sky colors quite where I wanted them, but I still really like the complicated silhouette of the wires.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Idly Floating

oil on MDF
You can view and purchase this painting here.

Here's another favorite in this series. It was fun breaking down the water and reflections into shapes. And I like the way you can just see a little bit of the duck's orange foot.

I just saw on an episode of "Bones" that apparently it's an insult to tell an artist they have great technique! LOL! I tell that to other artists all the time. To me, just figuring out how to work a paintbrush and paint has been a great challenge. I would love to have great technique!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Burst of Red

Oil on MDF

So far this is my favorite of these new paintings. I like the strips of sunlight on the grass.

You can view or purchase this painting on my Etsy shop.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Shrimp Boats

6" x 6"
Oil on MDF

These shrimp boats in South Carolina remind me of all that great Southern food—cheese grits, fried okra, black-eyed peas, and hush puppies.

You can view or purchase this painting at my Etsy shop.

Greenway Path

6" x 6"
Oil on MDF

II always like to cross a bridge on a walk. It brings back memories of fairy tales. A very symbolic threshold, it seems like a different, magical world might be on the other side.

You can view or purchase this painting at my Etsy shop.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Dappled - sold

6" x 6"
Oil on MDF

I'm starting a new "line" of paintings — small landscapes on a 3/4 board — loose and chunky. They're painted on that black gesso I like. I'm having a lot of fun with this!

SOLD. You can view similar paintings at my Etsy shop.

Sunday, November 18, 2012


6" x 6"
Oil on MDF

I'm starting a new "line" of paintings — small landscapes on a 3/4 board — loose and chunky. They're painted on that black gesso I like. I'm having a lot of fun with this!

This one is based on a previous painting—you might think it looks familiar.

You can view or purchase this painting at my Etsy shop.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Summer Hillside

6" x 6"
Oil on MDF

I'm starting a new "line" of paintings — small landscapes on a 3/4 board — loose and chunky. They're painted on that black gesso I like. I'm having a lot of fun with this!

This is the first in the series; my style has developed a bit since this one. They're turning out a little more graphic, which I really like. Stay tuned!

You can view or purchase this painting at my Etsy shop.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Zombie Husband

Oil on board
Not for sale.

Isn't it romantic? We have matching zombie portraits. I suppose I'll have to do one of Igor, too.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Portrait of the Artist. As a Zombie. Ew.

This was my favorite DPW Challenge so far, and my favorite painting ever in my entire life.
Behold: me, zombified.

Oil on board
Not for sale, but you can view it here.

This is based on a photo my husband took of me last summer, with his phone. He's got some kind of app that zombifies your photos. It's actually pretty amazing technology - a free (or maybe 99¢) app that performs the kind of digital effects that IL&M used to have rooms full of computers and programmers to do. My, how times have changed...

I had a wonderful time with it. I employed a bunch of weird paint colors that I rarely use — Gamblin Radiant Green, which is a fabulously beautiful color, but it's very unnatural looking. It looks like the color of Frankenstein's Monster's skin in a cute cartoon version. I mixed that with white for my skin, and with some Cad Orange for the darker (rottier) skin tones. I used it in the background too, with some Lukas Green Umbre, another weird color I've had no use for.

This was a situation where my propensity to over-use Titanium White was a bonus — it really helped me get those chalky, dead colors right.

I haven't painted a self-portrait since high school! This one is a keeper.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Tippy Tuesday: Clean Skies

It's Tippy Tuesday! A collection of tips I've gained through experience or learned from other artists.

Sky Brushes!

I've been meaning to do this for FOREVER.

I hate getting mucky-looking skies because I haven't cleaned my brush enough. That little bit of green or brown or purple leaks out into the nice, fresh, cobalt blue or turquoise I'm using for the sky. Especially if I use any medium or Liquin with the sky color, it wicks the old paint right into the new.

First I tried disciplining myself to take the time to clean the brush thoroughly, but it's not a practical strategy. It just takes too long to get a brush completely clean, and I'm not that patient.

Then I tried dedicating a specific brush to skies, which was a step in the right direction, but of course I kept overlooking which one to use, and used whatever was in my hand. Dirty skies.

Finally, I wrapped some white drafting tape around a couple brand-new brushes, to designate them as sky-only. I can feel the tape when I pick it up, as well as see it (I can't avoid seeing it...) so I have hopes that this time I'll keep them separate, and have clean skies!

The next step is probably designating brushes for light/dark, warm/cool, etc. I don't know if I'll ever be that organized.

Also, I've decided that "Tippy Tuesday" is pretty silly. From here on out, "Tuesday Tips." Much more dignified.

FYI, those are Silver Bristlon Flats, #2 and #6.  

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Giant Year-End Sale

It's time to clear out my inventory of paintings to make way for a new year, so I'm offering ROCK-BOTTOM prices. This is a great opportunity to acquire original artwork inexpensively, for yourself or as a gift.

Click here to view or purchase.

Let me know if you need your purchase delivered before Christmas or other specific date. Prices are good through December 31, 2012.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Start 26 - Experiments

I've been messing around with black gesso — just as I was on the verge of giving up colored grounds entirely, I decided to try a few with the jar of black I've had lying around.

They're just quickies, painted on cardboard, but I really like how they turned out. The paint has a more glossy look to it than usual. I don't see how the gesso itself could have affected that, but possibly I'm putting the paint on thicker in order to be opaque enough over the black.

I think sometimes by trying something as "an experiment" and painting on cardboard or a material that I know I can't sell, it lets me take the pressure off enough to try something new. Letting go of expectations give more room. 

Yesterday I saw an artbyte on DPW about painting on black gesso! There have been too many coincidences in my life lately... apparently the universe is telling me something. Something like, "Hey why not use some black gesso."

Monday, October 15, 2012

2013 Calendar now available


I'm really excited to have 12 of my best paintings displayed in a calendar! 11" by 17" open; spiral-bound. It's available at Lulu Press for $17.49.

Click here to preview or buy.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Register for a chance to win this painting

8" x 6" oil on hardboard
My mailing list is a vital marketing and networking tool—I always like to get new subscribers so I can reach more people. Help me increase my subscriber base, and you get the chance to win this original oil painting.


If you are already a subscriber of my "Painting of the Week" email, encourage your friends to subscribe as well. Follow the instructions below, and you'll have a chance to win the painting.

If you're a new subscriber who found this offer via my blog, I'll enter you in the referral drawing. If you then refer other people, you'll be entered into both drawings.


1. Tell your friends to send me an email with "Subscribe" in the subject line. In the body, they should tell me who referred them (your name).

(You might want to forward them a link to this page so they have the details)

2. Each time you refer a friend, I'll put your name in the hat.
1 referral = 1 chance; 4 referrals = 4 chances; etc.

3. On October 31 at noon, I'll draw a name randomly from the hat to choose the winner!

4. I'll also draw a name from among your friends who subscribed during this time period. So your friends get a chance to win a painting too!  (painting to be determined.)

IMPORTANT: the "subscribe" email must come from your friend—please don't sign anyone up without their knowledge! They should understand that they are subscribing to my weekly email.

PRIVACY POLICY: "Painting of the Week" is a private mailing list. I won't share your email address or other information with anyone else for any reason. Unsubscribe at any time by emailing me with "unsubscribe" in the subject line.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The best plein air paintbox ever

Tippy Tuesday:

If you're in the market for a durable, well-designed paintbox and panel holder, check out the model Mike designed and is selling. A very good price, too.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Definitely better

This composition really needs something on the right; it did look empty when I took out the awful little house. I looked for some photo reference of boatyards, thinking I could maybe put part of another boat in that corner, but I didn't find anything really suitable.

However, I found some photo reference for a very simple building, which was mostly in shade —that's one of the tricky parts of this painting, it's a very low morning light coming from the right.

I had to raise the horizon to allow room for the building to sit farther away and fit into the scene, and also returned to the turquoise color for the water.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Better... or NOT?

I've retouched some old paintings recently— identified where they went wrong, and improved them (hopefully). So the other day I brought out something I painted at the beginning of 2011. This has always been one of my own favorites, and it's been a mystery to me why it didn't sell immediately and garner a bunch of critical acclaim.

The original
It seems to me that the weak spot is that little building on the right. This painting was done in one of Mike Rooney's AOC workshops, and we worked from photo reference. The house was not in the original photo, but Mike painted it in, to improve the composition. And, it worked great for his painting—but I'm not Mike :-)

My version has always looked cartoony and not-real. So I attempted to repaint it with somewhat crisper edges and better-defined shapes, but without over-illustrating it. Didn't work so great; I faced the same problem as the first time I painted—not having any real reference.

I didn't document that step, because it looked about the same as the original. Ultimately I decided to remove the house and trees altogether.

Revised version
Was it an improvement? I don't know. It's good to remove an eyesore, but now there seems to be a hole in the composition. But—is that simply because I know the history of the painting and know that something used to be there? Or does the space now give the boats room to breathe? Would it sit better if I went back to that more turquoisey color for the water?

I suspect I'm not done "fixing" this painting. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Birch Trees

oil on hardboard

Click here to view/purchase

Remember what I wrote yesterday about squinting and not standing too close?


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Chavis Park

oil on hardboard
Click here to view or buy

I'm really happy with the way this one turned out. The other day I was reading S.P. Goodman's painting blog, and he mentioned SQUINTING and NOT STANDING TOO CLOSE.

It's not like I've never heard that advice before—only about ten thousand times. But somehow it really clicked with me, finally, and I did both things. I squinted to see the shapes/colors, and I put a piece of tape on the floor marking where I am allowed to stand when painting. Which is exactly one arm + one paintbrush length away from the canvas.

What a huge difference. It was like everything went right with the painting from the very start. Not that it's perfect; there are some areas* I'm dissatisfied with, but it was such a different experience from the way I start a painting so hopefully and then spend the rest of the painting time trying to fix everything. This approach eliminated most of those problems. Basic value and composition problems, which just aren't fixable later. Much better to not have them to start with.

*Specifically, the sunlit trees behind the little bridge. I couldn't quite get that color how I want it to be—it shouldn't be so green, but I couldn't seem to hit just the right value and color combination**. Another brilliant painter once said "Fix your mistakes on your next painting," so I'm going to leave it alone.

**I'm starting to question why I paint on a colored/toned ground, because it makes it almost impossible to get those bright, light colors. 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Ruakaka Beach

8" x 10" oil on hardboard

This is my painting from Richard Robinson's excellent tutorial DVD. I'll tell you what, it's super-hard painting along with a lesson. I remember years ago when I tried to paint with Bob Ross, and it was infuriating and frustrating—he made it look SO EASY, and I just made a horrible mess.

However, I've learned some things from those days, one of which is that it takes some practice to learn new things. So what I'm doing is: Watch the DVD. Follow along with Richard and try to do what he's doing. Watch the DVD again. Do a new painting, possibly with a different reference photo, on my own.

One of the coolest things in his tutorial is that he mixes ALL the paint beforehand. He fills up his palette with the dark, medium, and light values for each of the main areas of the scene (e.g., sky, clouds, distant hills, water, etc.) There's a lot to be said for that technique: you can evaluate the value and temperature right there next to each other, and see the color scheme for the entire finished painting at once.

Because this is from a tutorial, using someone else's photo reference and technique, I'm starting the bidding very low on the DPW auction.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

On the Patio

9" x 12", oil on canvas panel

This painting has taken me a ridiculous amount of time to complete. It's been on my easel for at least a week, maybe two.

You can view it and bid on it at DPW.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Warmed up

The original. It wasn't quite so purpley in real life,
this is a hard one to get a good scan of.
This is the second painting I've warmed up with a thin glaze, in this case Cad Red and Liquin. Plus some turquoise in the sky and on the distant trees.

One of the reasons the original painting was striking was the cool, if not cold, shadows, and the white sky — not unlike the zombie crape myrtle painting. But ultimately I think it was very unattractive. "Striking" isn't always good.

I think it's a big improvement. You can view/purchase the new improved "Yellow Flowers" on DPW.

And the revised version looks a little
muddier than in real life...
the yellow flowers are as bright as in the original.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

I'm finally in a museum

Yeah, I don't have time to paint, but I had time to do this. I think I stole the idea from Gringo.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Arrrrr, 'tis Talk Like a Pirate Day!

You can google it :)

So, yes I know I haven't posted in forever. I'm taking three classes at once now, and it's definitely eating into my free time, as well as some projects in my "real life" as a web/graphic designer. I'm delighted to have the work; I really enjoy working with small businesses, it's very rewarding. Also a visit from some out-of-state and out-of-the-country friends, which has been delightful.

I have a painting on my easel that's going very slowly. I'm working from some photo reference, and partly just from my imagination, and that's difficult for me. I don't have much imagination :-) I do better painting what's in front of me.  But I've by no means disappeared, just haven't had the opportunity to paint as much as I'd like.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Crape Myrtles revisited, aka Zombie Painting

original, 18" x 11", oil on canvas
There's something I don't quite love about this painting. On the one hand I am/was super thrilled with the way the crape myrtle itself turned out — all that lovely red bark. And I really like the elegant, misty trees in the background.

It's been hanging in my living room for a few months, and finally it struck me that there's just too much white in it. It looks chalky. I know some painters rarely use white, and now I begin to see why. In the 16 months since I painted this, I've come to rely on it less and less. Mostly I use white in shadows now, which may seem a little contradictory, but sometimes I like the way it looks with that smoothed-out color. The white actually grays the shadows.

Anyway, I decided this painting looked lifeless and zombie-like. ZOMBIE PAINTING.

(Which, btw, there's an artist on DPW who does very original zombie paintings, if you're interested).

improved version (same size :-)
Accordingly, I did some warm washes over the few sunlit areas with permanent yellow and yellow ochre — extremely thinned with mineral spirits so it didn't become too opaque — and a wash of alizarin crimson on some of the cooler areas. It almost looks like a different painting, doesn't it? But that's all I did.

That and take a photo that's not blurred :-)

I like it. Perhaps it lacks some of the impact of the original, but it's a more attractive painting overall, and I think the foreground crape myrtles stand out better from the background now.

You can view and buy the new improved Spring Crape Myrtles here.    

Monday, September 10, 2012

Shady Bench

7" x 5"
oil on hardboard
Click here to purchase

A shady spot in the arboretum. You might recognize the bench, I've painted it before. Not this particular spot, but they have these sprinkled throughout the grounds.

It's good to get back to a small format and be able to finish a painting within one day. Not that I'm giving up the larger canvasses! 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Painting Workshops


What to expect:

Plein air workshops run about 5 hours. We'll meet at the location*. You can leave your gear in your car, because I will first do a demo, running about 1 hour. Then you'll scout a location in the area, get your gear, and set up your easel. We'll paint for about an hour, and I'll periodically check in on everyone and answer questions/give advice. We'll take a break and gather to assess progress and critique what we've done so far (and probably eat!). We'll paint for another 45 minutes to an hour, then break again to review our work. With the remaining 30 minutes or so you can make last finishing touches on your painting, and we'll finish up with a brief question/answer session.

*All locations will have restrooms and a parking lot reasonably close to the scenic areas.

What you'll need:

• An easel. There are many varieties of easel at different price ranges.  Jerry's Artarama has a great selection.
Be aware that there isn't much seating available in plein air locations; you will either stand at your easel or you'll need to bring a chair. Just make sure you can carry whatever you bring.
These cost about $20.
Not a good long-term solution,
but it will work in a pinch.
A French easel, designed for plein air.
Very portable and lightweight;
priced between $80 and $400.
My easel / paintbox.
Ask for details if interested.

• A paintbox or palette, it it's not built in to your easel. You can also use the disposable palette pads.

• Paint. These are the paints I use. You don't have to use exactly what I have, but make sure you've got the primary colors plus white. Note that I paint in oils. You can use acrylics if you prefer, because the principles of painting are the same, but I can't offer much guidance for paint-specific issues with acrylic.

• Brushes and palette knives. My favorite brush is Silver Bristlon flat, in sizes #2, #4, and #6. You might also want a liner brush for fine work.

• Medium such as mineral spirits, if you use it. I use Liquin, a fast-drying medium. Make sure they are in plastic or metal containers; most parks don't allow glass.

• Either turpentine or vegetable oil for cleaning your brushes. No glass containers.

• A roll of paper towels (or paint rags).

Pony clip
• A trash bag.

• Two small canvases or panels. I usually paint on a 6"x8" board for plein air. I don't recommend going bigger than 9"x12". I tone them ahead of time with an acrylic wash of yellow ochre or cadmium orange.

• Canvas/panel holders for transporting your wet painting home. This is what I use. You can also just put a box in the backseat or trunk of your car.

• Several small clips—clothespins and/or pony clips.

• A hat, sunscreen, bug spray, and drinking water. Make sure you stay hydrated!

• Snacks/lunch. 
Painter's umbrella


A chair, if you wish to sit.

A painter's umbrella.

Roll of masking tape.

A bungee cord for hanging the paper towels.

A work table, such as a TV tray. I put all my stuff on the ground, on an old towel.


This year, I've been teaching BYOB+ painting workshops. They are so fun! Some of the participants have had a little painting experience, but most have never painted before — the classes are great both for complete beginners and those who want to refresh their skills. Here's an excerpt from the FAQ:

Some of the participants brought their own artist berets.
What is the "+" in BYOB+ ?

It's the value-added experience you'll have in this workshop! Like all BYOB (Bring Your Own Beverage) painting classes, I'll help you step-by-step through creating this painting, and we'll have a lot of fun! Unlike the others, you'll learn real painting techniques and principles — composition, color theory, brushstrokes, and more.

I've never painted before - can I actually paint something like this ?

Absolutely. Ths workshop is more ambitious than the typical BYOB class, so we'll spend more time painting than drinking, but I'll explain and demonstrate each step, from sketching the scene on the canvas to using the paintbrushes. We'll all paint the same scene, but you'll be able to apply your own artistic expression, so your finished painting is one-of-a-kind.

What should I bring ?

Bring the beverage of your choice, I provide glasses and ice. You're welcome to bring snacks as well. Everything else you need is supplied — paint, brushes, canvas, etc.

What should I wear ?

Wear something comfortable you don't mind getting paint on. We'll be using acrylic paints, and they do not wash out of fabrics.

Let me know if you are in the Raleigh area and might be interested in attending. I announce them in my weekly newsletter, so if you subscribe to that you'll get the scoop.

I never realize how short I am until I see
a photo with other people.
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