Sunday, July 31, 2011


Red Fox

I painted this Red Fox on a 2"X3" canvas...amazing that I actually found a frame to fit the tiny thing.  Normally I get obsessed with the tiny details of things, and this time I chose to go more abstract with my painting.   I tried to get the essence of the fox without overwhelming the piece.  I deliberately went small so that I would NOT get overly detailed.  I am actually quite pleased with how it came out, though I think that my hubby is not too fond of it.  It gives the feeling of a delicate structure built for speed, and a curious and alert stance.  The ears are perked high to hear something in the distance and the stance shows a possibility of a quick retreat.


Carousel Study

We lived in Biloxi, MS for 3 years and left just before Katrina hit the coast hard.  Every week I would go down to the beaches and do sketches of the laughing gulls (my favorite shorebird!) and the various buildings and people.  The Family Fun Center on the main beach had a wonderful old carousel, and on especially windy or rainy days, I would park my car near it and draw the horses.  I am sad to say that my trip to Biloxi this year showed how little was left after the big hurricane and the carousel is long gone, along with the house I lived in back then.  As nature does, the land is healing itself, and the beaches are clean and full of wildlife.  They aren't building tourist traps as close to the beach as they were.  I do miss the horses, though.


Bird studies

I do a great deal of paintings of birds, and am working on a painting of an eagle right now.  Because of this, I do a lot of bird studies, trying to get the attitude down.  If you do a lot of bird watching, you will notice that birds DO have attitudes.  I had a run-in with a mockingbird once that bordered on psychotic!  I happened to live in her territory, and she took great pride in defending it by dive-bombing my head every time I came home.  She took a few tufts of hair out of my cat with strafing missions designed to scare off the enemy. 

Hummingbirds have a lot of personality as well.  The ones I feed this year are very demanding, and if they run out of nectar they let me know by hovering at my back window and peering in.  I have a Carolina Wren who has consistently taunted me with her flippy little tail, bouncing about me like a ball when I go outside.

So you can see that it takes a lot of work to discover the attitude of the bird you are about to paint or draw.  I do dozens of sketches to get to know them, and try to show that attitude in my finished piece.  Whether it is a dignified stance or a defensive one, all birds have 'personality'.

Yellow-headed Blackbird

Friday, July 29, 2011


Outdoor Picnic Still Life

I am trying to get back into my painting by finishing a few that got left behind for various reasons.  With 'Outdoor Picnic', I was in the middle of painting this piece in my backyard, when we got unexpected orders to move.  It has been packed away for quite a long time, and I rediscovered it when sorting through my studio this week.  It is acrylic on prepared masonite board, and I am rethinking the size and shape of the piece, as well as trying to figure out why I got so obsessed with the apple and didn't work on any of the rest of the still life.  I have a few issues...the leaves are from an ancient sycamore tree that I no longer can see.  I took no photos for reference.  We have no sycamores around here...should I add oak leaves to the piece?  Should I continue with the photorealism?  Or maybe go a bit more abstract with the background....?  Should I cut the painting down to a smaller size?  I would LOVE to hear your thoughts on this!!!  Humor me and take a risk....comment button is below.

Outdoor Picnic, detail

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Hand study in conte

I am still enjoying the book "Draw Like Da Vinci", and have been doing some hand studies in terracotta conte sticks.  It is amazing how a straight line can indicate shape and form!  And yes, I am still avoiding doing painting right research into other artists' blogs has shown me that I am not the only one struggling with creative blocks right now.  Thank you to all the vocal people in cyberworld who comment and encourage all over the internet.  It is always appreciated and well recieved by the artist!

Hand study, detail

Sunday, July 24, 2011


Onion Studies

I bought a huge bag of onions this week, and became fascinated by the layered skins, the papery thin, fragile stuff that looks a lot like rice paper.  So I sketched them in sepia ink....and then I sketched them in black ink.  Then I crushed the skins into boiling water and made a dye to dip handmade rag paper into.  It came out a beautiful mottled golden color!  Then I made dinner.  Amazing what will inspire you....

Saturday, July 23, 2011


Zen Meditation Chimes

My wise mother gave me these Zen Meditation Chimes.  You hold them in one hand, and rotate them while emptying your mind of all bad thoughts.  They have a tiny chime in each one, and when they knock together, they ring.  I loved the reflective qualities of them as well, so had to draw them.  I chose conte pencil, which is a kind of compressed charcoal.  It usually comes in terracotta, black and white.  I love the feel of the block of conte when I use it.  It flows, builds up, and is a joy. 

Friday, July 22, 2011


Summer's End

I know that summer's heat will eventually end and autumn, my favorite time of the year, will come. This charcoal sketch is my metaphoric ode to that probability!  The dried out skeleton of a cow skull signifies summer, and the pumpkin is, of course, the autumn's arrival.  Just thinking ahead...

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Sitting on the Docks

As you can see, I have a definite theme going this month.  I am hibernating indoors due to the heat and humidity, and wishing for chilly walks along the beach.  I am also missing my daughter, who is living by the ocean thousands of miles away.  Drawing a bit of that ocean helps tremendously.  What a good, therapeutic session!



I decided to once again try my hand at drawing water.  Just a little sketch, but it brought back memories of kayaking in Morro Bay, in California.  We went in tiny kayaks,a big ocean, and humongous sea lions!  I nearly capsized mine when one seal came up beside me to investigate.  I was sure I was going to be Great White Shark food!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011



I don't know if this is a real Hummel figurine or not, but I was bored, bored, bored today and grabbed this off my shelf to draw.  I liked all of the curved edges on it and wanted to do something with depth today to keep up my skills with light and shadow.  It is a charcoal drawing that I did on tinted paper.  I put in my darkest values first to get my contrast going and identified my lightest areas, then chose the values from there.  It was a good exercise and I felt a bit virtuous because I had accomplished SOMETHING on this icky, sticky, hot, muggy summer day. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A Walk at Bear Lake

I am always in the mood to use watercolor when I am around lakes and oceans.  I suppose it is because I have never quite figured out how to draw liquid in a believable way.  As you can see, I am definitely NOT a watercolor artist, but I do love the way the color swirls into each other and dries into details of grass, sky and  water.  I took a photo of Bear Lake in Utah when we lived there.  The water in this particular lake is incredibly blue and Carribean in feeling!  I was amazed at it, and of course there is a Bear Lake monster that has been sighted over the years.  They have rigged up a tourist boat as a Monster Ship, and take interested groups out to catch a glimpse.  The beaches were wonderfully sandy.  Hubby and I did a bit of beach combing and metal detecting occassionally.  It was a great place to weekend, and my little watercolor does not do it justice, but it reminds me when I look at it of the serenity of the place, and the Huckleberry milk shakes at the concession stands!

Monday, July 18, 2011


Roses from Michael

Detail of Roses...
My hubby is always sending me flowers, not just for anniversaries and birthdays, but to surprise me.  These roses came while he was TDY (Temporary Duty) for several weeks to somewhere (classified or something) for his job.  Such a sweet and thoughtful hubby!  I wanted to keep them forever, so I did a sketch.  I especially love this rendering, as it is full of movement and emotion.  THAT is what drawing is all about!  Getting the essence of your subject, not so much the photographic details.  I drew this with sepia felt tip pen on colored paper.  I wonder if I can get an interesting, scratchboard effect if I use white gel pen on dark paper?  Hmm........

Sunday, July 17, 2011


Kitty in the Boot

I tried something new.  Scratchboard is just ink layered over a base such as paper, clayboard, etc.  I discovered very quickly that it is just the reverse of pen and ink drawing.  You are just drawing the lights instead of the darks.  It really messes with your mind at first!  After a few false starts, and a lot of mistakes, I really got to liking it.  Note:  Mistakes can NOT be inked over!  They show up REALLY WELL.  I did this "Kitty in the Boot"  from a photo of one of my earliest kittens who loved to put her toys in hubby's boot to surprise him.  She would then dive into the boot to retrieve the toy, and play with the shoelaces just to look cute and get away with it!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Cool-color photo

I always like to browse the slick art magazines when I go to the book store, and the Southwestern Art mag caught my eye this  week.  Have you noticed that the new western artists are using wild bright colors in their wildlife art? I saw a buffalo done in thick primary colors, and a blue horse!  They had impact!  They were slightly abstract and just amazing!  Enough exclamation points, though. I realize every time I pick up a new art mag that it is important to keep up with the young artists, the contemporary choices.  It reminds me not to get stale, and to look at the world with new eyes.  A children's art teacher that I know is always coming up with innovative lessons for her students.  One of those lesson plans was to take a basic landscape and switch the cool colors to warm colors.  The children came up with exciting results.  Red skies and orange grass.  Purple suns.  Interesting idea, hmm?  Keeping it fresh.

Oh, some of my favorite picks for contemporary art magazines:  'Blue Canvas',  'High Fructose', and American Artist 'Drawing' Magazine.


New England Whelk

New Zealand Ostrich Foot
Mediterranean Prickly Helmet

I spent a few days at the casinos this week doing a bit of that gambling and losing thing.  My, oh my!  The frustration level was HIGH!  I had a few small wins (I only play the penny slots, as I am a low risk person), but on the whole came out in the red.  Gambling is risking.  In casinos you are risking money.  If I would put as much of a risk into my art, I might fail often, but I might occasionally come up with a win.  These days, getting your art out there into the world is a big gamble.  Heart and money are on a plate for people to break and take.  Selling your 'heart and art' in this economy isn't easy.  Probably why I am on two depression medications.  But occasionally I win a little, and that encourages me to continue to create my own view of the world.  I sold an art print of my 'Chickadee in Autumn' this week.  Hurray! This encourages me to start working harder on a website to sell my originals and prints (again, scared to risk!) You've got to take encouragement where you can get it and hang in there!  By the way, a big thanks to hubby for saying "Wow!" to my shell sketch series!  My ultimate vacation choice would be to the beaches, and I was inspired to draw these intricate works of nature's art.

Monday, July 11, 2011


Photo by Michael Altom

My butterfly bush is attracting the most beautiful butterflies! 

Friday, July 8, 2011


One of my blocks to finishing a painting is 'atychiphobia', or fear of failure.  (I also have decidophobia, the fear of making decisions, where I can't make up my mind what to paint at ALL!!)  The fear of failing is in all of us, but a high self-esteem can be a big help in knocking down that particular block.  If you are confident that you will do a perfect job, or that you can do everything well - you are probably fairly abnormal and need psychological help.  For the rest of us, there is going to be self-doubt, nerves, and general worry that our mommies won't like our work.  For me, confidence can be found through loads and loads of practice, deep breathing, and keeping the eye on the prize---expressing yourself!  I would LOVE to hear what works for you! 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


The hummingbirds have been especially aggressive this year.  They dive bomb me when I go outside if the feeders are low in sugar water.  Funniest...they tease my 2 cats mercilessly!  They hover in front of them on the other side of the window glass, and I swear they are laughing at them.  It drives the kitties nuts, and I learned a valuable lesson from those hummers....if you really want to get back at your adversaries, just laugh.  Be happy.  It drives them wacko!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


We all grow up needing a bit of therapy due to family issues...My daughter became a vegetarian when her grandfather let her play with the pretty rabbit before he killed it for dinner.  My friend cannot drive without a GPS because as a child she got lost and has a fear of being disoriented.  With me, it was frogs.  As a 4 year old I discovered the tiniest frogs, and was fascinated.  I loved them.  I adored them.  I played with them.  Until Gram Rosie took them away from me to use as catfish bait.  Devastating!!!! I have been obsessed ever since, and continue to go back and draw studies, paint them, and leave water and overturned pots in the yard for them to shelter in.

Saturday, July 2, 2011


I got brave and submitted an article and photos of an art doll I made to the magazine, 'ClothPaperScissors'!  They needed essays on the subject of 'Follow your Art'.  I will find out in 12 weeks whether it will be accepted, but either way, it felt good to do something productive, and I am very proud of that article!  I love the textile magazine, and support it by subscribing.  I am inspired by all of the collage artists that they feature.