Thursday, December 12, 2013

My Kind of Man

My Kind of Man                                                         6x8 inch oil

I've had this Pillsbury Doughboy in my still life props collection for years now, but lost track of him for awhile.  When I stumbled upon him, I put him on a shelf and didn't even notice him for the longest time.  One day,  he winked and smiled at me, and I knew it was time for his portrait.

He's currently hanging in Abend Gallery's Holiday Miniature Show in Denver.  If you can't make it up there in person, call the gallery to purchase him.  Just mention my name, and the title of the painting.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


Hambone                                      6x6 inch oil          $150

Another painting of my pig friend, still splashing around in his puddle.  He is currently at Poor Richard's Restaurant in Downtown Colorado Springs.  Hanging along with him are many other small animal paintings, and my famous donuts.  You can purchase him through the Pay Pal link above, or by visiting the restaurant. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Happier Than a Pig in Mud

Happier Than a Pig in Mud                    6x6 inch oil Sold

I'm in love with this guy. It was a hot day and he was luxuriating in his puddle. He actually had that smile on his face!

This painting is hanging in Costa Mesa, CA for the month of December, along with two other of my pieces.  Here's the physical address, date and time.  For prices and to purchase, contact Randy Higbee Gallery.  Mention my name, and the name of the painting that you are interested in.

Also in the show are:
Strawberries                   6x6 inch oil

Glory                        6x6 inch oil

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Painting Sunflowers

Since my sunflower paintings are very popular, I thought you might be interested in how many of them come about. 

I like to work from life, but every time that I've bought a bunch of sunflowers this summer, I've made sure to photograph them as well. Sunflowers seem to disappear from my local markets in late fall, and I want to be sure to have photos to work from through the winter if I want. Here's a photo of the setup I worked from for this particular piece. Actually, I've used this photo for several different paintings recently and each is very different, as you will soon see.

Reference Photo

Following the Sun, 4 x 6 inch oil  SOLD

Red Warms My Heart 5 x 5 inch oil

The Yellow Rose of Kansas   6x6 inch oil

Now you know!  Don't be surprised to see more versions from this same photo!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

No Particular Place to Go

No Particular Place to Go                 6x6in. Oil   $150

You can tell by looking at these two, that they are always together.  You also get the idea that the dog is often in charge....

This painting is hanging at Colorado Expressions in downtown Colorado Springs.  Stop by the gallery on Friday evening, Dec. 6th or on Saturday, Dec. 7th as part of the Downtown Holiday Stroll.  

Red Warms My Heart

Red Warms My Heart                         5x5"  $200

I must say, red paintings are tough to photograph, and my camera is malfunctioning, so this photo doesn't do the painting justice.  Good thing Santa is bringing me a new camera! (I've been very, very good this year).   You can see the original painting, along with two other sunflowers, at Abend Gallery in Denver as part of their Holidays Miniature Show.  I'll have 5 pieces for you to check out.  The reception is Sat. December 7th from 5 to 9pm and the show runs through Dec. 31.

Monday, October 28, 2013

A Touch of Gold

A Touch of Gold         8x8inch oil on panel, framed      $310

I'm beginning to think that either my monitor is going kapoot, or that my camera is losing it (it has shown other signs), because for the last few months, I'm had trouble getting the color right in my painting photographs...the color tends to be too saturated and I haven't be able to correct in Photoshop.

  I'd love for you to visit me during Art Walk on November 1st to see this painting in person.  It was something new for me in that the majority of the subject was in shadow, so essentially, that was where the most interesting color was.  I struggled with it for awhile, not going dark enough in the shadow area, and although I started painting with a brush, I switched to the palette knife about 3/4ths through.  In the end, it's now one of my favorite paintings. 

Any thoughts on my photo problems?

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


Rumors of me being lost in an absinthe fog are greatly exaggerated! I have had a lot of family activity, but have managed to keep painting as well.  I've had several dog portrait commissions, and thought that you might enjoy seeing one of those in process.

My subject for this portrait is Chip, a beloved pet who grew up with his college age owner, and quietly passed away last year.  I received some text messages with reference photos, and the quality of the one I wanted to work from wasn't optimal.  The pose was wonderful, but I couldn't tell if he was tan or grey.

I did have two other photos, but Chip's color was washed out by the camera flash.  They seemed to indicate that there was a lot of tan in his coat, but I asked some questions to make sure that was the case.

The finished painting would be 6 x 6 inches. You can see that I first toned my canvas with orange and then did the drawing, putting in most of my values as I drew.

Then, I began to paint.....

At this point, I sent a photo to my client to check on his color.  The photo was passed onto one of Chip's family members who observed that Chip was actually very grey.  I just corrected the color I'd created so far to reflect his grey coat.  After a check on his eye color, I completed the piece.

6x6 inch oil commission                    $85 unframed

Actually, I think I tweaked some edges and his ear shapes after this, and now I can see that I need to carve the sides of his face out a little (when the owner brings it in for varnishing, I'll have a chance to do that), but otherwise, you get the idea! I hope that you enjoyed this little demo!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Family Time

If you haven't seen blog posts by me for awhile, it's because I'm visiting my family in Northern California (Arcata.) I'll be back in my studio next Monday standing at the easel!

One of the pleasures of being here is the time I get to spend with my nieces, Emma and Abby.  The most fun that we've had so far has been playing with a photo program on my iPad.  I thought I'd treat you to a few of our self-portraits.

I can't move photos around on my iPad blog like I can with my laptop, so the format might remind you of your early computer days when everything was left justified!

Me of course.

Emma (doesn't she look like a Picasso painting?)

And Abby

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

With Compliments

With Compliments                                           6x6 inch oil Sold

As promised, I've experimented with a background color other than red and have decided to explore the compliments of purple and yellow a little more. I'm enjoying mixing yellows that give the impression of petals in shadow.

The starting bid for this painting in my online auction is $45. If you are interested in my "Buy It Now" option, the price is $85 unframed or $125 framed. Just contact me directly, and if no one has yet bid on the painting, I can stop the auction and guarantee that "With Compliments" is yours. Email me at

Monday, July 15, 2013

Turning Toward the Sun

Turning Toward the Sun                            6 x 6 inch oil

I can't promise that this will be the last sunflower on red, but I am moving on to a different background color tomorrow.  In this painting, I'm particularly fond of how abstract I got the background flowers.  I also love the light on the petal that drips into the flower's center.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Plenty of Sunshine

Plenty of Sunshine                         6 x 6 inch, oil

A few years ago, I discovered an artist online who painted thirty different compositions of three plums, and for some reason, that made a great impression on me.  I'm thinking of her as I work with my sunflower series, wondering if I won't lose interest before red phase is drawing to a close, and soon I'll turn to some other background colors!  With each piece, I learn something new that I can do with the palette knife...

Berry Hunting

Berry Hunting                             8 x 10 inch oil, $390

A mother bear and her three cubs occasionally stroll through my yard looking for something tasty. On this particular day, they hung around long enough for me to get a lot of photos. They were actually very obliging as they modeled just 6 feet away from my sliding glass door. In particular, this young guy struck several classic bear poses for me.  

This painting is available for purchase at Colorado Expressions Gallery, 122 Kiowa Ave, Colorado Springs, (719) 258-9168.


Sunday, July 7, 2013

Sunny Faces

Sunny Faces                5x5 inch oil         Sold

 So far, this little piece is one of my favorites in the sunflower series.  I got really loose with it and love the  purple/yellow color scheme.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Sunflower on Red

Sunflower on Red                                    5x5 inch oil

I'm committed to my series on Sunflowers and am learning more and more about using the palette knife.  I'm also learning to quit sooner than a do.  I often leave the studio vowing to give up painting altogether given the "mess" I've made on the canvas, but am almost always surprised to walk in the next morning with a fresh eye and find that what looked disastrous the night before is actually quite exciting.  It's the "just let me add one more stroke" that leads me to reworking the whole thing, and in doing that I often end up with something more generic looking.  Luckily, that didn't happen with this piece!  Current auction bid is $40.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Red Makes Me Happy

Red Makes Me Happy                   6x6 inch oil

This sunflower was painted entirely with a palette knife and I've decided that is my favorite method of painting these flowers.  The strokes give the petals such energy and expression.

Currently not available for sale.  Please let me know if you'd be interested in purchasing this piece when it becomes available.

Monday, June 24, 2013


Radiant                                                      6x6 inch oil

Summer is here, and sunflowers are back!  I'm doing a series of them with thick paint, using a brush and/or a palette knife, and experimenting with different background colors.  I find it much easier to be more expressive with sunflowers than I am with many other flowers.  I think that it's because their petals are so pleasantly unruly.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Nesting Instinct

Nesting Instinct                              6x8 inches  oil

A while ago, I asked for some "creative input" on what to put in this crow's beak.  He needed to be holding something to balance the composition.  I had been thinking that an earring would be clever, but decided that the painting's style was a little too rustic for a shiny bauble.  Someone suggested that he carry a bit of nesting material, which seemed like the perfect solution.

Copying a Master: Edgar Payne Part 3

Eucalypti, after Edgar Payne                        20x 24 inches

And here is the completed painting.  This was a terrific experience that I will be sure to repeat.  I learned SO much.  My next step will be to paint a landscape of my own using the same methods I employed while copying this piece.  I hope you enjoyed the process as much as I did.  I'd love to answer any questions you may have.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Summer Mowing

Summer Mowing                                          8x10 in.  oil    $360 

Painting outdoors is my most pleasurable activity.  I love being out in warm weather enjoying the sites, smells and sounds of nature.  Painting "plein air" is challenging.  The light changes quickly, and in this case, my model didn't stay still very long.  I consider my plein air pieces to be studies of light and color to take back to the studio, along with a photograph of the scene, with the possibility of creating from it.  But occasionally (and in this case) I'm happy with the painting as it is.  If I repainted it, I'm sure I'd lose the looseness and immediacy of the piece.  My strategy here was pretty simple: get my model in before she moved and then paint the scene around her. She happens to be "Patches,"  Rock Ledge Ranch's resident jersey.  It was a perfect morning of painting in the company of some favorite artist friends.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Simple Pleasures

Simple Pleasures                                          6 x 6" oil

Click here to bid in my online auction

With this painting, I focused on creating a very simplified interpretation of the vase and flowers.   When I painted it about one year ago, it didn't turn out at all like I had wanted and I tossed it into my "reject pile."  Last week, I was cleaning up in my studio and ran across it.  My first reaction was "Where did I get this great painting?"  It wasn't until I looked at the signature that I remembered painting it.  When I judged the work on its own merit, versus what I had wanted it to look like, I realized that it worked very well.  Lesson learned: don't scrape off every painting that doesn't please me.    I need to put it in my reject pile and look at it again down the road.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Copying a Master: Edgar Payne Part 2

It turns out that this blog post is my 100th!  I'm not sure how that happened so quickly.

The Edgar Payne exhibit blew my socks off!  I found the Eucalypti painting and was stunned to see that none of the values (lights and darks) in the painting were as dark as those in the photo from which I was working.  The darkest foreground trees were no darker than the tree on the left that you see below.  I took six pages of notes such as: "the trees are entirely blue green with only a small amount of yellow greens where the light hits,"  "dark warm brown underpainting for the trees and ground, even under the lightest values,"  "paint is as thick in the sky and background as it is in the foreground," "the grass green is the awful yellowy pea green that is popular in women's clothing right now."  Anything that would give me total recall of what I'd seen!

When I got back to my studio, I began lightening all the values in my painting starting in the background and continued correcting shapes as I went.   As I moved forward, I decided that I really liked having the contrast and depth of the range of light values in the back to the dark values in front and decided to stick with the more contrasty version that I had created...

Another very helpful tip came from an artist friend smarter than I, she suggested that I would be able to see the brushwork in the original more clearly if I blew up sections of the photo, like this:

Such an obvious solution, but it hadn't occurred to me!  I decided that I was happy with the brushwork I'd already done in the sky, but continued from there paying close attention to Edgar's techniques.  At this point, I was unable to continue painting for over a month, but when I resumed, I began making real progress.

Please forgive any difference in lighting and color in my photographs.  I shot the photos on different days with different weather outside the window and at different times of day, so there is naturally some discrepancy. This last progress shot is a little anemic, despite my editing attempts.

The painting is nearly completed, but still needs some tweaking here and there, and some additional work in the foreground.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Copying a Master: Edgar Payne

A couple of months ago, I mentioned in a post that I went through my first spell of artist's block this winter.  I tried everything I could think of to pop myself out of it:  painting a different subject matter, using a different palette of colors, a different style, etc. and finally decided that since nothing seemed to coming out of me that I was happy with, I should take a break from trying to come up with something on my own and use the time to learn something by copying a master painting.  I've never tried this before and the idea was very intimidating!

The painting I picked was one of Edgar Payne's landscapes, "Eucalypti."  I'd always loved this painting because it reminded me of the eucalyptus trees that I grew up near.  I was also planning to see the Edgar Payne exhibit and knew that I'd see the original when it arrived in Tulsa.  Before I saw the original, I started working from a photo of the painting I found in a collection of Payne's work.

I began by deciding that he had basically started with a white canvas and drew directly on the canvas with a brush and burnt sienna.  The canvas is 20 x 24," the same size as the original painting and I did color that canvas (toning it) with a pale wash of the burnt sienna to prevent any unpainted slivers of the glaring white canvas from showing.

After drawing it, I could see that my shapes were "off."  I took a photo of my canvas, and then drew on it in Photoshop to make corrections.  

Having drawn out the necessary changes on the photograph, it was much easier for me to make the corrections in the studio the next day.  You can see that I also starting indicating where the darks and lights would be in the painting.

Then, it was time to start painting!  I had done some research online to learn what colors Edgar generally used on his palette.  Most of them are the basics that most artists use, but there was one that I wasn't familiar with, Van Dyke Brown, and one that I didn't want to run out and buy (Hooker's Green), so I did some research to figure out how to mix those colors using paint that I already had in the studio.  After that, I read that Payne made grays that he mixed in with all his colors and that the grays consisted of different proportions of Ultramarine Blue and Indian Red, with a little Cadmium Yellow added.  

With everything laid out on my palette, I started by blocking in the shapes with the colors and values that I saw peeking out from the paint strokes applied over them.  I discovered that I wasn't able to really see Edgar's brushwork in the photo I was working from, so I was kind of on my own with the sky.  I just did the best I could to get the colors, values and cloud shapes correct.

It was at this point that I was able to see the original painting, and came back from Tulsa with all kinds of information that I needed.  I'll start with that in my next post.

 If you attended the April Art Walk, you may have seen the painting in my studio at just about this stage.  I'll have the completed piece on display at my next open studio, Friday June 7th, from 5 to 8 pm.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Le Danse Study

Nymph Study, 6 x 6 Inches                         Oil

Starting Bid $40

I visited Paris in 2009 and came down with an awful virus on our second day there.  Seven days in Paris eating saltine crackers and chicken broth. I was sick as a dog, and my wonderful husband dragged me (at my insistence) to all of the art museums that I had dreamed of visiting.  Every museum twice.  My vision was bleary and my mind was mush and I knew at the time it would be a miracle if I remembered anything I saw at all, so I took hundreds of pictures.  I've been sorting through them recently and found some that I took of the sculpture "La Danse" the Musee d'Orsay. 

One of my photos that I'd like to paint includes a grouping of the dancers' faces.  Here is a monochromatic study of one dancer's face.  I'm picturing the future painting as a study in whites.