Friday, January 27, 2012


I switched back to my favorite Pitt brush pens in grey tones to draw one of my favorite birds.  This is the state bird of Tennessee, and an amazing little creature!  I have heard these birds mock alarm clocks, robins, cell phones, and one territorial mockingbird even tried emulating my cat's meow! For this drawing, I went old-school, and listened to my mothers' your posture!  I found that I had gotten lazy and was not sitting in a well lit upright chair, with the paper at the right height.  Because of this, my sketches have felt a bit off lately due to my perspective.  Always listen to your mother!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


We get a lot of dark eyed juncos this time of year in Tennessee.  They are a bright, active little bird with a lot of personality!  I have enjoyed many hours of watching this bird as it hunts for seeds on the ground, and actually tunnels under the fallen leaves looking for it's meal.  This sketch is done with a fine point Pilot pen, and it tended to skip on the slick surface of the textbook paper.  I am definitely ready to switch back to my heavier tooth sketch pad for the next drawing!

Monday, January 23, 2012


I was able to visit a Raptor's Rescue Facility this month and take dozens of reference photos for several paintings coming up this year.  I am especially happy with this Great Horned Owl.  The last time I had been out to visit him, (6 months ago) he was looking pretty beat up.  He had broken a wing and was brought in by a concerned rescuer.  He was refusing to eat and the odds were against him.  He is looking so much better now!  I love the 'looking down your nose' attitude he has and his startling ears.  I hope I can do him justice in my painting!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Pen and Ink Belted Kingfisher Sketch

I found an old textbook from the 1950's with the most wonderful paper...the perfect paper to work pen and ink!  I was excited to be able to bring a bit of the graphic element to my bird sketch.  I find that the habits of the birds have a bit of the recycling about them, as well, so I thought that would be a good statement for this piece.  Hope you like it!


Friday, January 20, 2012


I am trying to get my rusty drawing skills back after too long away from it...lesson learned!  This cedar waxwing was posing outside on a branch, and he was fluffed up against the cold.  I am not too happy with this rendering, but I did do a bit of experimentation, using color Sharpees and a white gel pen for texture.  I definitely will try this again!

Thursday, January 19, 2012


These days, an artist needs to be a photographer as well as a sculptor/painter.  If you work at all from photos, it had better be your own.  Photography has been getting a slow but steady acceptance into the art world since Ansel Adams burst onto the scene with his artistic renderings.  I don't know why it took so long, but it is now widely accepted as an art form.  To use another's photo is tantamount to stealing, or forgery.

There are a couple of ways to get photos for reference..........

1. Take your own.  With digital all but taking over the film development, you can take unlimited photos for a relatively small investment.  Better yet, there are computer programs out there that can help you to crop and zero in on a good possible composition.  I use an Olympus 2 digital with multiple lenses, but I always carry a tiny Sony compact camera with me at all times for those unexpected and exciting opportunities (a camera on your phone works as well, if it has decent pixilation) .

2. Buy your reference photos.  There are lots of computer discs sold commercially just for this purpose.  You can utilize any of these copyright free photos with no legal problems.  Just check for them online, or look in the advertising section of most art technique magazines.

3.  Buy from photographers.  There are plenty of photographers out there who don't mind selling their 'less than perfect' photos.  Just be sure to get permission in writing for legal reasons.

Working from magazines and their slick, professional photos is good for practice, but you should not sell your art from them.  They are good as studies and practice only, unless you get permission from the photographer.  There are legal ways to get around this, such as using the photo for only a percentage of the painting (ex: the painting is rendered with 10% of the image, while the rest of the painting is from your own sources.)  I am still trying to find out the exact percentage acceptable legally...however, to avoid all problems, just don't use it! 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


This is a series of sketches that I did to try and catch the attitude of several domesticated geese at a city park.  Animals are so expressive!  Geese have an almost comical way about them, and they are full of attitude.  One of these geese was being teased by a little boy, and rather than running away, it chased the boy back to his mommy.

Sunday, January 15, 2012


I am trying to get better at drawing architecture, but it isn't going too well.  I can't seem to see the angles right, or maybe it is a mental block.  I know that this is a major hole in my art education!  I did read somewhere that artists have a terrible time drawing a straight line...

Friday, January 13, 2012


This is a sketch of one of my favorite beaches in California.  I like the footprints wandering off in a peaceful manner!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Unfinished Painting--Mountain Majesty or Monster?

Unfinished Painting--Mountain Majesty or Monster?

This final painting in the series of unfinished disasters is this mountain scene.  I have no idea what I had in mind when I started this, but it became increasingly dark and broody.  I think that I was trying to emulate one of my early art heroes, Charles Rhinehart.  He was exceptional at the art of the landscape, and followed along the steps of the masters.  I, unfortunately, do not have the knack of doing a landscape without a lot of angst and hair pulling.  I can't seem to make it come alive.  Does this painting deserve a bit of extra time to make it work?  I am REALLY not sure!  Something rather unexpected about this particular changes with the light in the studio!  When a sunbeam hits it, it becomes interesting and glorious.   When a dim light hits it, it becomes mystery-laden and scary.  I am not sure how that happened.  Or what to do with it.  Got any ideas?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Unfinished Painting---Two Awful Landscapes!

Unfinished Painting---Two Completely Awful Landscapes!

These two paintings are almost completely unusable.  The landscape with mountains and a cabin is part of a demonstration for a beginner's landscape painting class that I taught.  While it was O.K. for a demo, it has nothing in it that is special, sparks an emotion, or is interesting at all.  Now, I could scrap this with no regrets, or I could try to salvage it by reworking the composition, the color, and the mood.  What do you think I should do?

The deer in the woods painting has a bit more going for it.  Keep in mind that it has only been based in, and no detail or rework on the deer has been done.  The abstract qualities of the trees are workable.  The color palette is a challenge.  What do you do with a winter scene if it is, in reality, brown and white?  You take artistic license and look for color in the shadows and light!  This is where working from a photo is a definite disadvantage.  I took this photo in Wyoming 18 years ago.  Not only was the camera quality a problem, the photo itself tends to flatten, to sap color from the landscape.  If I decide to finish this painting, several things will have to be worked on.  Adding a more painterly, less detailed finish would be an option.  Adding blue or purple in the shadows, warming up the sunlight is another.  It would definitely be a challenge.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Unfinished paintings...Sea Shells in Oils

As I am still not feeling great (my coughing interferes with my drawing a straight line) I have decided to share with you a few of my unfinished paintings that are still in limbo.  I haven't decided whether to finish them or scrap the whole project.  Some of the paintings are a mystery to me.  I can't remember if I used oil or acrylic to paint them.  This is a big problem, as painting acrylic over oil seldom works out well.  The way that I choose to determine the medium is to get a bit of paint thinner on a rag, and rub it across an area of the painting that won't show, or needs more work.  If paint comes off, it is oil.  Acrylic won't immediately react to the thinner.

Today's painting-in-limbo is sea shells in oils.  I think that I have a good start on this one, and the composition is workable.  What could be a potential problem is that I used oils with morager medium.  I no longer work with that medium because of the toxicity of it (and a possible allergy), so I must do a bit of research to find out if I can finish it off with another medium, such as linseed oil.  New Year's Resolution #150--finish this.

Monday, January 9, 2012

I am, unfortunately, struck down this week with the 'creeping cruds'.  That illness that makes you feel crappy and sniffly with no hope of a cure.  I managed a pathetic little sketch, and hope to do better tomorrow!  Happy New Year....

Thursday, January 5, 2012


I took a lot of photos this month, getting in touch with nature again to gain perspective in my life.  I have a lot of questions dealing with the meaning of life, spirituality and why it is the littlest things in life that are the biggest.  When I took this photo, I considered gaining perspective and what my perspective of life would look like in nature.  I am feeling very small, and the world very big at the moment.  I think that this photo illustrates that.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


This is a photo I took of a stained glass walkway at the MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) in San Francisco, CA.
I was visiting that wonderful and picturesque city a few years ago, and wanted desperately to visit the museum.  What amazed me most was some wonderful paintings by Magritte and Picasso, and this tunnel of color!

Monday, January 2, 2012

The holidays are finally done, and around my house, it isn't just the holidays that are busy!  It seems like all of our birthdays are at the same time, as well as hubby and my 35th anniversary.  Now that it is settling down a bit, my thoughts return to art and creativity, and how much I have missed doing something every day to nurture that!  While on a drive New Years' Eve, I happened across this well-worn gazebo with a frame set up against it.  I was immediately drawn to it, and my thoughts went to what they had in mind when they 'posed' the scene.  Of course, I then thought about what I would like to put in the frame (being self-minded).  And in a broader sense, what was I going to paint this upcoming year?  Did I have goals in mind?  Where did I want to grow creatively?  I am mulling all of these questions over this week, as I return to my easel and sketchbooks.  I have a vague idea of posting some challenges this year....paint your favorite veggie, or something like that, if those of you keeping track of this blog are interested in getting some of your own paintings posted here.  I would certainly like to get to know you better.  It gets kind of lonely in this computer monitor in a small town.  Meanwhile, expect the art to fly in the next few days!  I have in mind some pyrography art pieces, some still life studies and maybe something wild and abstract to shake up things!