Wednesday, December 30, 2009

new inspiration

A friend sent me this web site: for the Italian watercolor society and I've been studying the paintings posted there. Lots of paintings, wonderful loose styles. It's inspired me to fool around with painting as loosely as I can and leave as much white of the paper as possible while still telling my story. It's been fun and the painting goes quickly. For the tree trunk, I used only three colors: ultramarine blue, gold and magenta. They're not the standard red/yellow/blue primary colors but they are a good triad for landscapes. As usual, they paintings will look better if you click on them to see the larger version, and as usual, I always welcome critiques.

I gave Bruce, my son whose license plate is a couple of posts earlier, a print of that painting for Christmas. He laughed, then hung it on the wall. He told me that he's saved that plate.

Monday, November 30, 2009


One of the neat things about working with pastels, especially on sanded paper that takes lots of layers, is that I can work and work and work. One of the difficult things about working with pastels is that there's no obvious stopping point. I've been working on this painting for days and days. The water was hard enough to get like water, but the leaf was even harder. I must have wiped off and redone the leaf eight or ten times. I still think it looks like a flower, but I've decided to put the glassine over this for storage and tape it down so I don't keep looking and twiddling and smearing pastel all over my hands and clothes. I have no idea where I took the photo of the water; the leaf was done with a couple of real maple leaves that escaped the raking. As usual, this will look better if you click on the picture for the larger and brighter version.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Browsing through some photos the other day, I was struck with the composition of this. Never mind that it's the bumper of my son's truck after an inattentive driver plowed into it, or that I was driving, or that he was on his honeymoon. No damage to me but the truck was totaled. It's all watercolor and a big change from the autumn woods I've been painting . . . and painting . . . and painting.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Amari under a white blanket

I think this pastel is finished. Amari is our female American Eskimo dog and loves to be under things. I managed to snap a photo some time ago. I love the way the blanket swirls around her. As always, it will look better if you click on the photo here to see the larger, and brighter, version.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

color wheel

I've been asked to teach a watercolor class in the winter term at our local art center. I'm a bit adamant about learning to mix colors, maybe because I don't want to spend the money on heaps of tubes of different colors. So yesterday I worked on creating a color wheel using only three colors: rose, cobalt blue and yellow. I used the complementary color (the color opposite on the color wheel) for the shadows on and of the balls. I may do this again, varying the red, blue and yellow, to see which combination I like best.

Dune Fence

We spent last week at the New Jersey shore with friends. For four days we watched 2 nor'easters pounding at the wonderful, huge windows at the place we were staying. We could see lots of huge waves in the distance. There were a couple of nice days when I got out to walk . . . with my camera, of course. Yesterday in my studio group I painted this watercolor from one of my photos.

Here's a photo from the house and my painting:

Thursday, October 8, 2009

More autumn in the woods

Back to pastels again. It's easier to carry watercolor supplies to the art center for our Tuesday painting group and easier not to put all the pastels away at home for any other painting, so I may just do watercolors on Tuesdays. Today we had our small painting group here. As I was looking for reference photos, I came upon this one and knew immediately that's what I wanted to paint. It was the purple in the foreground that drew me, and all those red leaves. It wasn't clear in the photo, but I must have been standing on a bridge spanning a creek because it sure looks like water in the left foreground. As usual, any of these have better color if you click on the picture to get the larger size.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

water and rocks

I went back to watercolor today, to paint for a project on rocks and woods for the online watercolor group I help moderate. It was fun and I'm reasonably happy with the painting which is a combination of a photograph I took in Scotland several years ago (the top), and a creek mostly from my head. I like rocks and water almost as much as I love woods and have painted them enough that I don't need much of a reference. There are a couple of tweaks to be done but basically it's finished, I think.

more little pastels

I painted these last Thursday when our little painting group met at our house. I love being in the woods where the dogs can run free, without leashes, and I can walk the trails without holding leashes. I love the woods. And so I love to paint woods.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Red Leaves

This is a fairly small (for me) pastel, about 9" x 7". Am I finished? If not, why not? It's also the first thing I've done is a long while that I've not wanted to wash off immediately. We're trying to eliminate stuff in the house and that's been using my energy.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Woodland Stream

After that mixed media workshop, I found myself looking at photos this morning with a much more keen eye for composition. I printed out a bunch about 1 1/2" x 2" so I would not be seduced by the details. I could feel that my touch with the pastels was different today, maybe lighter, putting them down more transparently. As a challenge, I kept my green pastels out of sight and mixed the greens with various blues and yellows. Right now, having just finished this, I'm really pleased with it. We'll see how it ages.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Mixed Media Workshop

I've just been to a 5-day, mixed media workshop at our local art center. It's something I've taken many times before and I always learn a lot. The last two workshops, I've finally felt that I am "getting" it. Anything that be painted, smeared, glued to paper or board is grist for the mill. Basically it's non-objective work which is fun but much harder for me because I have to dig deep and listen carefully for what to do next.

Here's a slideshow of everything I did, in the order it was done.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Long Beach Island

So many photos, so little time! I have no idea when I took this photo but the light on the fence just begged me to paint it yesterday. It's a good way to remember many wonderful weekends spent there with our group of Quaker women.

Woods' Light

I love the woods. We have a couple of places nearby that are township parks and are woods with trails. I take the dogs there sometimes because we can get away with dogs off-leash. Needless to say, they love the woods, too, and the creeks or streams therein and come home tired, wet, muddy and happy. (Fortunately they have the sort of fur that sheds the wet and mud when it dries.) Sometimes I go and just tramp and look. Sometimes I take my camera and come home with gazillions of photos. So I paint woods fairly often. This painting was done from a photo that I must have taken at a county park, because the road is paved. I chose it because of the light. Since it's pastel, and since it's still sitting on my painting table, I have made some minor changes since this photo was taken, but not so's anyone but me would notice.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Late Day Light - finished

You may have seen the work in process version here; now I think it's finished. I didn't do much, just some tweaking where folks suggested. It's probably much brighter in the larger version you get if you click on the picture.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Stuck with Pastels

A couple more pastels. The flower arrangement was brought to our painting group after the bridal shower for the daughter of one of our members. The background is the color of the Wallis paper. The garden, done on an underpainting of dark, dark green, is from a photo I took at a garden where we were painting last summer.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Keeping Cool

I painted this with pastels from a photo I took while we were in Jamaica a year ago January. It might be finished and I invite critiques.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Pennsylvania Watercolor Society

This painting was accepted into the Pennsylvania Watercolor Society's annual juried exhibition which this year will be in Reading, PA. This is my second acceptance which means I'll be a signature member of PWS and can append those initials when I sign a painting. It's painted with watercolor on illustration board coated with gesso and it's of Amari, our female dog. I call it "Rub My Tummy."

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Vera's Barns

I used to live close to this particular landscape. This is a painting that just sort of "fell" off my hands (pastels?) and was finished in a short time. Those are often ones that endure in my favorites category. It's a painting from one of the thousands of slides I've scanned . . . more to come. As usual, clicking on the picture here will give you a larger one more true to the original color.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Thursday, June 4, 2009


What's working in this painting? Is it finished? If it's not finished, why not?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Still working in pastel

I keep being drawn to working in pastel. It's such fun! The flowers may not be done because my painting and critique group thought I should have more defined stems. I'm still thinking on that. Thoughts?

I once lived with the view that's the landscape. I've been scanning old slides and found the reference photo there. It's 14" x 20" and I started with an underpainting of orange under the lower part and light blue under the sky. I deliberately painted it with saturated colors, my favorites, and if you click on the photo here to see the larger view you'll see how saturated the colors really are. I thought it would take a long time to paint, but it went very quickly. Critiques, please!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Anticipating Adulthood

I made some revisions on this today and I think I'm done now. One of my painting friends suggested the title.


Here's that same cute, blond son again, a bit older here. Pastel again. Am I finished? If not, what's to be done?

Monday, May 4, 2009

What's In Here?

Inspired by a photo I took of my youngest son in 1973. It's pastel and I don't know whether it's finished . . . critiques invited. As usual, the colors are brighter if you click on the one here to see the larger version.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Spring Fields

A pastel from a slide taken somewhere in England in 1984. If this was the US, these fields would probably be growing houses now, 25 years later. I got to use some of the pastels I'd ordered which came today. New colors and new pastels are so exciting! This painting is 14" x 20" or thereabout.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


. . . or are they rhododendrons? I took the photo inspiration for this pastel at a Philadelphia-area arboretum a couple of years ago at a paint-out. It's pastel. Complicated and large (14" x 20") and less than half way through I wondered if I was crazy even to try it. I don't know how to do a very specific drawing on sanded, pastel paper, so I kept getting lost in all the petals. I invite critiques. As usual, you can see a larger, more vibrant version by clicking on the one here.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Philadelphia Water Color Society Members' Exhibition

Each of the last few years PWCS has had a members' show in addition to the large, prestigious, hard-to-get-into Anniversary Exhibition. The members' show is juried from the painting itself rather than from slides (or digital starting this year) so only those close enough to the venue are able to enter. Nevertheless, this year the members' show had almost 120 entries of which only slightly more than half could fit in the gallery where it's being shown. AND I GOT IN. As always with PWCS, the show is "works on paper" which includes all watermedia, collage (with some restrictions) and pastel. I entered this collage, made of paper I made myself from shredded paper waiting to be recycled. When I first did the collage, I used string, which you see here, but later I made more paper and rolled it to be the "string" because one of the collage restrictions is that all elements must be of paper. The collage itself is 22" x 30"; a full sheet of watercolor paper. Now, if only I could get into the Anniversary Exhibition! It's coming up this summer.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Daffodils . . . again

As I painted the pastel version, I wanted to do the blossoms large, so this is on a half sheet, rather than the quarter sheet sizes of the other versions. I painted the background blue with watercolors, then did the flowers over the blue, so maybe this is technically a mixed media painting. I think the center of the bottom trumpet needs to be a bit darker. This is the last pastel for a while because I started a watercolor today.

Monday, April 6, 2009


After those snowy paintings, I decided it was time for spring to arrive, so I dug out a photo of daffodils for inspiration. The daffodils in my garden are not quite blooming. I did it first in watercolor and then pastel. making no attempt to make the drawings identical to each other or the photo. As I worked on the watercolor version, I kept thinking of an AAMilne poem from When We Were Very Young entitled Daffydowndilly. So you don't have to look it up, here it is:
She wore her yellow sun-bonnet,
She wore her greenest gown;
She turned to the south wind
And curtsied up and down.
She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
"Winter is dead."
As always, I invite critiques . . . and you can see better versions by clicking on the small ones here.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Front Gate

Or "Winter Series No. 2." Another pastel I did today. I had the same sort of underpainting as the one yesterday. It's fun to see the whole mood and temperature shift as I apply the pastel over the hot oranges and reds. There is a point, however, where the underpainting is distracting and I have to hurry to at least block in the colors I want.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Morning Walk

We have crocuses and early daffodils blooming and I decided to paint winter today. Go figure; usually I want to anticipate a season. I needed to do something entirely different after all my versions of Nonna, so I got out my pastels and printed a photo I'd taken one snowy morning this winter while I was walking the dogs. I love my new iPhone, with its included camera! Before I put on pastels, I did an underpainting on the Wallis, sanded paper with liquid watercolors. I love the way underpaintings sneak a bit of themselves through the pastel and enliven the final painting.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


Well, obviously I didn't finish writing about the Don Anderson workshop, and I won't now.

A few years ago, I painted this grandmother whose photo I'd taken at the Saturday market in Buonconvento, Tuscany. It was bought by a man who wanted to know how I'd known his mother to paint her picture. It isn't his mother. For the workshop, I went through old photos looking for ones with high contrast and connected darks. I painted her in the workshop but there were too many things wrong with the paint application, mostly caused by time pressure and not letting layers, especially the dark ones, dry long enough (or at all!). After the workshop, I painted her again, a half-sheet (14" x 20") and liked it much better. Then I decided that I would try painting it a full sheet: it seems like it might make it into some juried show and full sheets are more arresting, at least for the viewers if not for the juror. This is the full sheet version. It took a long time to paint, both because of the drying time and because for the darkest portions I had to work up my nerve. The darks have a lot of odd areas to cover and keep from dripping.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Don Andrews Workshop, day 2

I did this barn today, from a photo I took at Winterthur Gardens last summer. The critique suggested that I darken the top of the lefthand tree, somehow connect the window on the front of the barn with the shadow, and one other thing that I've forgotten but have written down in my sketchbook which is at the art center. Don talked today about making these juicy, multicolored washes, about making good neutrals (gray: ultramarine blue and burnt siena, for one), and making mud. We all thought we could teach the last subject! I'm a bit pooped, but this is lots of fun. Do click on the smaller version here to see the larger, more colorful one.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Don Andrews Workshop, day 1

Our local art center is sponsoring a 5-day workshop with Don Andrews. Even after only one day . . . a long one . . . I can recommend him as a teacher.

His painting style is not mine, at all, but it's interesting to try his method. He paints in lots of layers, but I wouldn't call it glazing. He starts with the lightest value (leaving some white of the paper) and works toward the darkest, not necessarily waiting for things to dry but using the same color(s) over each other to build up the value. I tend to be a direct, slap-it-on painter so this takes some restraint on my part. On the other hand, he uses lots of colors, often letting them mingle on the paper which is on an easel set quite steeply. He also talks a lot about various elements of composition such as value, hue, value, placement of elements, value, focal area, etc. So this is what I did today (at the bottom). It's from my head and I see I have a nice, dark worm moving through the middle ground, not an unusual occurrence for me when I make something up. Basically I'm happy with what I did.

Here are a couple of photos I took during Don's demo. The right one is when he has put on a couple of layers of light value and the left is where the painting was when we left today. I assume it's finished, but only he knows.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Rub My Tummy

This was painted on gesso-coated board with the lighter tones lifted. It's Amari in a very familiar position. The title says it all!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


I didn't feel too inspired to paint today in our painting studio. I had a bunch of photos of people and my sketchbook, watercolors and Caran d'Ache crayons. I sketched the other three there (snowing today, we we are the intrepid ones) in charcoal in my sketchbook first. There was no effort to make these portraits, just to make them look like people, lol. I also transferred a pencil sketch I'd done previously onto wc paper. For that one, I used the two liquid watercolors I'd taken, an orange and a turquoise and some charcoal. On another paper, I pencilled in the others, washed in some wc paint in a pattern I liked with little reference to the sketch, then used a single crayon to draw the people. Finally, I loosely painted the shapes of the figures in two photos, then used crayons to draw in, or accent, the figure. My goal here was to get the gesture. I could correct a bit with the crayon, too, since the painting was done without lines and loosely. I need to put more obvious wheels on the skateboard. With the kid on the wave board (I don't know the name of this, but it's used at the beach where the water is only a few inches deep), I did the drawing first with orange crayon and it wasn't right, so I just did the drawing again with blue.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Mixed Media Workshop

Last week I took a 3-day, mixed media workshop at our local art center. I've taken these regularly over the last several years and this time something suddenly clicked and I got paintings that I like, or can at least look at for a while. Usually I either make mud or an all-over pattern with no center of interest and no place for the eye to travel. Rather than put all that I did, and have continued to do this week, I'll offer you a slideshow. You can see larger versions by clicking on the little Picasa icon at the bottom right of the slideshow. Any of these paintings is subject to change!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Purple Sky

Done with pastels on black paper. It may or may not be finished, depending on what feedback I get (hint!). It's from an ordinary photo I took, then changed the colors in Photoshop.