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Updated 3/29/12

The Daily Paintings and Postcard-Sized Sketches in Oils and Acrylics

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1 "Tired of Red and Green?" Today I unpacked the glass ornaments for our small tree, and even though I cannot hang them due to the cats, it was so poignant to see these vintage glass orbs and shapes come to light for this time of year. So instead of putting them away, I brought the box down to the studio. This particular one is from the 50s, used to be on my aunt's tree, and they didn't do red and green, but this one in gold and turquoise. Such fifties colors! It will be tough to paint the ones I inherited from my folks, but I think I will do it. Great exercise for the painter with this subject! Original oil, 7 x 5 inches.

to the collection of Jeffrey Weisman of East Hampton, New York.

2

"Golden Globe" Oh the weather outside is frightful, but inside the fire's delightful...or something like that! Here's another of the vintage ornaments, this one being part of a set that my mother modified with the year, my name and where we were living. I have a handful of these 2" round ones left, this is the gold one. Interesting in doing it, I managed to paint my reflection, too. I like the old fashioned hangers on these as well--fun to paint those shadows! $100

3

"Vintage Ornament #3, Flocked" The weather has been dry, cold and windy, the only warm spots in sheltered corners of sunshine and the house cats are seeking indoor quadrants of warmth in the morning. The dry air is hard on my sinuses, but I was out with the machete cutting more cactus as I continue to clear out an area for a rock garden with succulents. 

And as I think about these ornaments coming to light, I am finally ready to paint this one--It has a special meaning. This one's a tree-shaped flocked glass with those colored bands again, this time they are red and blue. My earliest memory of this one was back in the late 50's when we lived near Washington, D.C. My dad worked in the Pentagon, and I was about six years old. I can remember lying under the natural spruce tree looking up at the lights and this ornament, and pretending I was out west somewhere. Although none of these ornaments are expensive, they are fun to paint and are precious to me. I heard from another list member who suggested that they be put on display on a spring rod in a window, high enough to be out of the range of the cats. It's a good idea! 5 x 7 Oil for $100 

4

"California Ridge" Today I took a break from working in the studio to make a new hiking trail on the mountain behind our place. It was about 3 p.m. and entailed the following steps: I took the machete out and sharpened it on the grinder. I led Vincent van Goat out of the pen and put his pack saddle and red pack bags on, loaded with water and my sweatshirt, and off we went. The mare (who thinks Vincent is her foal) went crazy neighing and running back and forth most of the time we were up on the mountain, creating quite a dust storm as she galloped back and forth in the corral. Using the machete, I cut about three-tenths of a mile of new trail through the brush until the sun was gone and it started to turn cold. Trail cutting is both hard work and euphoric, and I do enjoy it. A new hiking area is opened up, I can let the terrain guide the location and direction of the trail, and working in the company of a friendly white goat is very much in touch with nature. 

Of course, since I was looking at those rocks up behind the studio, I needed to switch gears when I returned and paint some! So here's today's painting, a 12 x 12 oil, of rocks and possible trail locations, so very characteristic of California hillsides. One ought to paint the things that are close to your heart, and I was very close to the brush and rocks as the trail opened up due to my effort. $250

5

"Persimmons" From life, a gift from the student living in our guest house, these delicious persimmons first found their way to this still life, before being sliced and consumed! Original oil, 6 x 12 inches $250

6

"Lesson on Sara" Time to do another lesson painting!  This time a commission, and I'll share with you the photographs that were provided by the individual.  This one will really be pulling out all my reserves as I work from material that isn't exactly what the client wants. I have to "cut and paste" and rely on core knowledge to depict the horse effectively. "Sara" is now an aged mare, and the owner is wanting me to paint her in her prime. She's also jet black, always a challenge, since you don't have a wide range of values between shadow and reflected light to play with. But like Jack Nicklaus, I envision the successful painting before I begin, so have in place the necessary confidence to begin. Attached is the position wanted for this painting. Hold on to it to see how it changes!
As you may know, I first prime the canvas with a color to get rid of the white. This comes from the "old days" of drawing when we were told to work on value 5 gray paper, and use black and white Conte crayons to discover your values above and below this midpoint. It is always a good exercise! Having a mid-value ground on which to start keeps me sane when I am also considering color, shape, line, mass, and texture. Wouldn't you at least want one thing easier? 
The initial drawing is not detailed at all, but merely finding edges, placement of the form, and leaving enough room for the horse to move into. Her forward direction makes it essential to have "space" for her to move. The reference photo doesn't have this, and although a nice square composition, it becomes quite static. My drawing is just suggestions at this point. To do details here would be paying too much attention too soon while ignoring the entire painting, edge-to-edge. Corrections to the anatomy and thrust will be made later. Oh, this is a 9 x 12 oil.

7

"Lesson on Sara" Now this is going about as expected, but I haven't had a lot of time to put in on it. So what you see today is not as major a change as might be, however there are important things going on that need to be explored/explained. Yesterday I focused on the position of the horse, and today, I filled in the horse and rider with the major color notes and major value to set them apart (on the darker side) from the middle ground of the background. Here's where the head takes over what is visually there: choosing to keep the horse and rider backlit, and then make the rest of the painting in the middle value range, I can assure that the subject will "pop" when I add the highlights and backlit warms on the final pass. Horse = dark, background area = middle values, leg wraps and shirt and shine on the horse = highest value notes. Ka-POW. 
As I work through this stage, I am correcting the horse and rider as I fill in these areas. Rest assured that they will undergo even more "tweaking" as I search for the correct pose and action.

I am planning the background with a few light brush marks as well, note that none of the to-be-dark trees will be directly behind the horse's head. We want that to be the major area of focus, so having similar values in that area would negate that goal.

8

"Lesson on Sara" Wow, what a change! I've spent the time painting the background and wokring more on the anatomy of the mare at this point, bringing and reinforcing where I want your eye to go (the head of the horse). The rider is secondary to the message of this work, so I will downplay all but her jacket/covering.

Again, at this point I am not overly concerned with the exact outline of the horse, but rather am taking care of the "rest of the story"--the background, the values and the forward motion. Most of you know I don't do those special details until the entire canvas is covered--well, here it is almost 97% covered. Now I can "kick back" and start picking out the details, making corrections, embellishing the larger shapes. Will you be patient until tomorrow?  And yes, this painting is still in the "uglies".

9

"Sara on Her Way" I've started to put in the details, but have decided that I'm going to go back in and fix some things that don't sit right with me, so please hang on to your comments until after tomorrow. This has gone on for more days than I wanted, just because I'm sorting out a lot of "stuff" outside the studio. Tomorrow promises some much needed rain (it is beginning right now as I type this, close to midnight) and I will be able to get studio time dedicated in a large swath during the day tomorrow.

I've heard from the originator who has kindly provided me with a head study without helmet so I can bring a more relaxed pose on the rider.

 Although not finished yet, I have made some good progress on it, with the embelliishment of the larger areas of color to make them more interesting.

10

"Sara Finished" Sometimes a painting just won't rest until it pesters you to work on it. I knew even though I had signed the painting yesterday, it wasn't going to rest until I'd come in and fixed all those "little things" that kept coming into my head since leaving the studio. So if you'll take the time to look at yesterday's work, you'll see what just wouldn't sit down and keep quiet.

I like it now, and feel far better about the light and the lift in the horse. So let's put a fork in it, because it's done!

The rainy weather kept me indoors for most of the day, and I worked on the cat tower exit to the "safe zone" for the kitties outside. I'll take a picture of it tomorrow when it's light. This is in the student area/gallery, where I'll finally be able to re-open my studio for artists one day a week, planned for January. I can hardly wait, because when artists come up to the studio, I also learn a great deal. I paint with them, we share stories and hints, and it is one of the rewarding moments in my week. I hope to see returning students/artists, and add new ones in this locale.

to the collection of Paula Worstell of Carlsbad, California.

11

"Snow Country" Today's painting is a major change for an earlier daily painting. You can see the earlier version of this 10 x 20 inch oil on the dailypaintings.com web site, under the date of June 30 of this year. When I first painted it, the temperature outside was 90 degrees! Tonight I bring it to a different finished state, and change it tremendously--from summer to winter! Why do artists go after work they've done and change it so drastically? One reason is growth of the artist's knowledge. We learn something new, and we want to practice the new knowledge because we see what we didn't know manifest in our earlier work. Another reason is a deep dissatisfaction with the work as it stood before, and a great desire to take on the challenge to see if it is possible to produce an evolution of sorts. And then there's just my reason--having run out of small canvases, I'm painting over bigger ones! (The order is in, they'll be here any day now.) 

It is fun to change the colors so drastically, and enjoy the finished result. Oh, I could work more on it if I was of a mind to, but for now, this one still remains in a new finished state! $375

12

More snow!  One of the bigger canvases!  Egad... (I hear the rest of the big canvases shuffling in the racks like the owls asleep at Hogwarts--I wonder whether they are shuffling away from me, or making movement to be chosen next?) This is a 16 x 20 inch canvas, with handmade papers under the paint, completely sealed for archival quality. The acrylics make a ton of texture, and the details are always easy to pick out--a branch here, a pile of snow there, a deer... wait?!! Look what walked into an otherwise interesting textured woodland! Yes, the eye goes directly to whatever has a heartbeat. Note that the deer is in the "Golden Mean" and not poking around in a corner somewhere. Good design can be simple or complex, but it ought to follow the rules of good design! And the common blue/orange complementary color scheme is pleasant, too. to the collection of Fay Bohlayer of Dawsonville, Georgia.

13

Hmmm, texture again, and Bats the Studio Cat!  Of course, Bats has never seen snow, but he will always model for me, and I can then have a wonderfully fun time making the snow and shadows behind him in this fanciful landscape, comvered in rime and icicles. Entitled, "Will You Feed Me?" Bats might play the role of a feral cat looking for a handout. Original acrylic, 8 x 10 inches available for $250

14

Anyone who has been to Riverside has probably passed by the Mission Inn, famous for a thousand different things, not the least of which are the holiday light displays. I met up with another painting friend (Hi, Joan!) this afternoon for a quick session before the light disappeared. However I didn't capture the holiday lights on the building, as they clicked on two minutes after I left (and it was too dark to see my palette!) The palm tree on the right is actually much darker--the lights tonight washed out that upper right corner.
  So this 10 x 8 acrylic came to a quick stage of almost finished while the sun set and the lights of the town blinked on. I like it because of the warm sunshine colors and the more somber colors found in the shadows. Fun to paint on location with the pill box setup, and using acrylics. They are still in the car, and I rest assured that they won't dry overnight, unlike the painting, which is completely dry! $200

15

How I love revisiting some quickly-done painting from "long ago and far away" (heh heh...) This one never made it in its original form to my Santa Rosa Plateau paintings page . Now this 8 x 10 oil is much better in design and value, and pleases me because of the fresh brushwork and interesting feel of evening distance. Something good is happening as I continue to paint every darned day--figuring out what's important is getting a bit easier, and I have no hesitation in revisiting older work with a certainty that hasn't been part of me prior to this regime of every-day working. $125

Holiday plans are crimping my planning time for some commission work coming my way, but I'll get to them by Sunday and all next week. My beloved siblings and a few friends are coming over tomorrow for dinner, so I'm chasing dust bunnies as I wish you a good day! $125

16

I've been formulating a design for a designer creating images for a hotel in Costa Rica. Different from my thick, painterly style, these "sketches" are done in acrylics, and are more linear in design and execution. They wanted a lighter touch for the hotel on the ocean. I show you only one tonight because the triptych is 27" wide--hard to put in an email! This is the leftmost of a trio of three. Makes me want to go there---the rain is coming down tonight! It measures 5" tall by 9.25" wide. We'll have to see what the designer says tomorrow...

The paper is Stonehenge, and works really well for smooth paint application.  And the stuff wears like iron! 

17

From the back of a horse, I tend to find perspective in a lot of things. Today I was on the back of a horse for about four hours (on Raindance), singing Christmas carols on the streets of Norco with a bunch of friends from my riding club. The horses were decked out in garlands, bells and tree skirts made into rump blankets, and we were all dressed in red and green. My camera's still out in the trailer, so I don't know if there are any good pictures for you. But riding the horse seems to keep me sane. There's always a lot on one's plate during the holidays, and so I find it quite easy to combine the horse experience with escaping, and that's the reason for this painting. A rider with a pack horse, heading off through the high aspen country, in the middle of summer, sounds like a good escape to me. I'm waiting for a few decisions on commission work, so that's why painting something as nice as this little 5 x 7 acrylic is a true escape! $95 which includes the 20% December discount

18

This commission (one of three on my plate this month) is of a lovely woman and child who live in Hawaii. It is a larger painting, measuring 24 x 18 inches, and is to be stylized to be a strong suggestion of the two, but not an exact likeness. I like this idea! Here is the earliest phase of the painting, with the underpainting of the warm burnt orange and the drawing placement of the heads done loosely the way I normally do. I haven't decided if this will be finished in oil or acrylics, but at this stage, I'm working in acrylic. I spritzed the wet orange paint with alcohol to create additional texture. Although most of this will be gone in the final layers, it is always intriguing to having this on the "ground floor", so to speak.

Isn't it appropriate to be doing a portrait of a mother and baby just before Christmas? Life moves in funny and profound ways....

19

I'm not sure if it was a senior moment, a mischievous cat, a moving box problem, or just general disorganization, but I lost a painting. I lost one that had sold, and I distinctly remember removing it from the shelves, and saying to myself, "This needs a varnish before I ship it out." Then it somehow ran away--went missing--for lack of a better explanation. I have turned the studio inside out, and it isn't here. Perhaps it went a-missing in a shipping box to some lucky person who received an extra. Maybe it slipped down behind the bookcases. Or perhaps I toted it outside to get a shovel and set it up on a shelf in the tool shed. Yeah, that's possible around here, too. Who knows, but it is gone. So what to do? Well, ethically I need to provide the buyer a painting, but cannot duplicate the same thing in the same size, because that compromises the originality for the second or subsequent one. Many artists have done paintings of similar imagery, and have called them a series, or painted them different sizes. Since the buyer loved the scene, it was the choice to make a larger painting and hope for a gracious positive reply to my email revealing the foibles of having so much going on, and having drunk a large glass of senior stupid.
 So out came the brushes, and I painted the second image, which I attach for your perusal. This is an 8 x 10 acrylic, and is called "Pasture Light #2". Back to the portrait tomorrow.

20

My goodness, I'm having a profoundly enjoyable time with the progress of this commission! It must be the proximity of the season's day approaching, as this one is just flowing off my brushes. The source material is clipped on the right, so you can get a peek at the (ack!) flash photograph from which I'm working. I went on line and started looking at all the art from the middle ages dealing with the Madonna and Child, and found that they, too, must have used flash photography, because all of the features are flattened, just like a flash photo! Ya think? What fun to paint as if I were in the Middle Ages. But women (except for Artemisia Gentileschi) weren't much for painting back then.  (Now there's one to google!)
 Following the suggested color scheme, keeping the feel of the painting less of a portrait and more of an experience, I'm bringing this along with oils. Yes, oils, because I love the ease of correction, and the ... wait. Acrylics do that, too! Hmmm, maybe it is just the Middle Ages thing. They didn't have acrylics. Or flash photography. 

21

I spent a goodly number of hours working on this 24 x 18 oil commission, bringing it up to a state where I'd not be shy about showing it to the general public. I really enjoy looking at this painting now. It has a feeling of reverence with the suggestion of gold in the upper right (but no halos!), and the sweet cleanliness of the small, helpless baby caressed in its mother's arm. Her peaceful smile completes the image. There may be a little more work on it, but I would call it 90 percent finished at this after-midnight hour! 

May all your times spent with loved ones be as peaceful as this scene. I LOVE doing commissions!  I have to tell you, that if he doesn't want it, I'm keeping it for myself, to enjoy and have on the web site. In searching for similar portraits, I've not found one that is in any way similar. So I kinda like it. A lot. Do you?

to the collection of Kimo Kockelman of Honolulu, Hawaii.

22

"Holiday Lights" On our way home from dinner with aikido and horsey friends, my husband and I saw this lighted tree on the lawn of a house in our neighborhood. I commented that I wish I had my camera, as the lights were so interesting with their illumination of the wall of the house and the lawn. I don't think I've seen one of these stick trees lit up this way. So I looked long and hard at it as we drove by, and then carried the memory of it to this 6 x 4 canvas. What I think I was trying to capture was the light of the season, the light of human activity, against the solstice of winter, knowing that the days become longer, and the lights will be put away for another year. Acrylic, $80

23

"Cut Persimmons" Lesson time, while the chaos of the holiday comes thru, and takes a lot of valuable time from the studio. I'm waiting for more information on one commission I need to do tomorrow, and so I'll hold off and do this still life in two steps while I wait. This one's an acrylic 4 x 6 from a live setup of some cut persimmons on a cutting board. I love the temperature changes from the lit sides to the shadow sides. You can see I paint in the larger shapes, similar to a Matisse later style. The lights are opaque and the shadows are transparent (not on the fruit, but definitely on the cutting board and background. You can see the canvas texture easily through those areas. The background and shadows are done with burnt umber and ultramarine blue. I work up to the cadmiums in the lights on these beauties. Here's a digital of the fruit, which you can see I've changed a bit.

24

Almost midnight, and time to send out the daily painting for Christmas. Well, not really, as persimmons aren't what the season is all about, however, it was "on the plate" so to speak.
This is a quickly done second pass on these fellows, and I learned something really important.  If you use fresh fruit, did you know you have a limited amount of time to capture their essence before dehydration or a curious cat comes in to change things? I do, however, have more persimmons, so after the holiday tomorrow, I'll cut and set out another set and see if I can't find my way again. Cat decided they were more interesting if put on the floor. That's Pesto, one of two studio cats. I've painted her a couple of times

25

"Border Collie Commission, First Pass" Doing a commissioned painting turns into a very emotional event for me, expecially when the animal or person I'm painting has met a tragic end. I know that pain of losing something you love so much, having been through a similar situation so awful that it's still seared on my soul. This Border Collie is being painted as a gift to help ease the pain of his owner. The dog was killed suddenly, and having a painting will hopefully ease some of that grief. I know painting them is like running my fingers over the scar tissue of my own memories. Sometimes I cry when I paint these subjects, in kinship with knowing that pain.

I have a handful of photos to work from, none of which said what I think I needed to say in designing this memorial. I wanted his distinctive markings to show up, and his funny left-sided tilt to his tail, but I also want him to be looking in your direction. So in putting him in this position, I imply that he is leaving/has left, and yet would be here still if he could. The background will happen tomorrow, and the details on the dog will occur then, too, on this 12 x 16 oil.

26

A full day, painting this commission to its completion. I placed Jake on the edge of a pasture, near the line of trees that borders many green areas in Kentucky. I put the opening in front of him, showing a lighter pasture on the other side of the trees, symbolic of the hope of so many of us that our pets will have a place in Heaven where we'll meet them later on. And now you can see him looking back withe the sunlight on the forest floor ready for his footfalls.

This is an an analogous painting in color, with the dominant hue being green. You'll find the blues and violets scattered amongst the fur of the dog, and the shadowed whites. The discords are in the trees as well, can you name them? If you have Hal Reed's color wheel, you can spin it and see exactly why this painting is so easy on the eyes. I learned a lot from that wheel, which is not your usual color mixing red-is-opposite-green wheel. You can order one by googling it, although Hal is gone now. I'm quite pleased with this commission, and I hope that the folks who've watched it unfold will be as well.

Tomorrow I'm shipping paintings and DVDs, and will begin yet one more commission--this time boats! I do so love the dog, cat, people and horse paintings, tho'.

27

"Idyllwild Evening" I decided to take a detour from the commissions list and paint something just for my own pleasure--without any outside direction. (I need to do that...You know, the "artistic free spirit" thing.) I have been to Idyllwild many times, first back in 1977 when I'd returned to California from Europe. It was as if I had returned to Germany, to go up to the alpine latitudes and spend time in the pines and snow. It was solace for my soul, as I missed Europe, having lived there for seven continuous years. So Idyllwild served a wonderful purpose to transit me to California, and I love it still. The town is surrounded by national forest, and the desert of Palm Springs on the north, and semi-desert on the other three sides. Truly an oasis. This is Lily Rock, a favorite climbing destination, and the local landmark, and as a vertical format painting, would find many places to be hung in a home. This 12 x 9 oil to the collection of Anna Leffler of
Santa Monica, California.

28

"Lattice Top Apple Pie" I brought home an apple pie today, because when I'm tired, I make shopping decisions with my sweet tooth instead of common sense. After a discussion with my beloved husband, this dietary madness is now just a model for the daily painting for today. So instead of wasting it or giving it away, here is the pie in a calorie-free format, and the expense of buying it is no longer a burden. It will be recycled. This 8 x 10 acrylic is available for $175 .

29

"Color Study, 1996" I was riffling through a box of photographs and show catalogues this afternoon and came across this piece of canvas, which has an interesting history. The notes on the margin say it was painted in 1996. It was done as a quick color rough prior to a demonstration at the San Pedro Art Association (near Long Beach, California). Turns out I didn't do the demonstration because os a conflict with two people being scheduled, so this one became a larger painting down the road, which has now sold. If you look at this critically, you will see I didn't know enough about color to make good choices that are effective in conveying the time of day. For example, notice the use of blue and the oranges. A nice decade's space between this one and the ones in this month.I know a lot more now, yet this small work has a charm of its own. This 5,75 x 7 inch acrylic is available for $95.

30

"Vertical Pear" Working on still life subjects always presents problems of seeing and accurately depicting what's there, while still enhancing what you see to make a creditable two-dimensional image. You see, painting from life is all about processing three dimensions down to two, and if you depict it exactly the way you see it, you'll just have a flat painting. Painting from life is the ONLY way to train your eyes to see nuance of color, reflections and translate the reality of depth of field to the illusion of it on a flat surface. So keep painting, but remember that from life is the best way to sharpen your knives! This 7 x 5 inch oil is available for $100.

31

"Last Glimpse" The end of the year...here is the last glimpse of 2006, and a last glimpse of a small rabbit in a snowstorm. Also the last painting of 2006 for the Daily Paintings! Snow flies and the colors are greyed, yet there are flashes of blue, light and snow-covered trees. I tucked a small rabbit under the branches, hunkered down thinking perhaps of warmer weather? This 12 x 9 inch acrylic is available for $100.

to the collection of Elizabeth Tierney of Holyoak, Massachusetts.