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Updated 3/29/12

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

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May 2006

1 "Buffalo Sunset"  I so enjoy painting sunsets and sunrises.  They signify the change of mode from action to rest, and from rest to action--a totally normal part of daily living.  The clarity of the change of pace is such a pleasure to depict on canvas.  This one is 8 x 10 original, in oils.
  I need the rest right now, for I don't mind sharing with you that grief for my mother's passing hit me like a ton of bricks yesterday and today.  I have been crying off and on all day, and finding memories and sadness at every moment, every turn in the house, and even in such mundane chores as laundry.  I thought I'd dodged that grief bullet, since I'd been so "normal" for the past three weeks.  Tain't so.  I've been told that this would happen, just didn't think it would.  But optimist that I am, I know this will pass as well.  
  So the sunset and the buffalo truly represent the passing of time, and I paint them with bittersweet joy.  It feels so good to be back in my home studio, surrounded by my "friends" -- the other paintings I have done.  I take great comfort from them. $200
2 "Today, Tomorrow and Always" Interesting how we are sandwiched in between that which is our future, and that which was our past. Today I picked up my Mom's ashes, and together we went and looked at property.  Mom always loved real estate.  Now before you think I've gone off the deep end, know that there was a lot of humor in the day's ride.  She (in her box) on the passenger seat, and I even put one of her floppy-brimmed hats on her box.  Now she is in the cedar chest with my dad's ashes, awaiting October and the trip for our final farewell.  
  In talking about always, I need to share with you the subject of today's painting--when I came back to the house after feeding the goats, there was this bouquet of salmon mini roses, a card, and a dinner set out on the table, all done by my husband.  He knew I'd had a rough day, so he "rose" to the challenge with this gesture.  Tomorrow is our anniversary, and the first line on the card so poignantly said "Today, Tomorrow and Always".  Today, my Mom, Tomorrow, our anniversary, and Always our future together.   
  Our dinner was toasted with Wilson Creek's Almond Champagne.  Yes, almond.  Wonderful stuff.  Makes the brushes do strange and wonderful things. Original 6 x 4 oil $100
3 "Outstanding, in his Field" Today my beloved and I renewed our wedding vows as we have done for the last eight years, followed by a picnic and an enjoyable afternoon together. It's been a bit cold lately, so I am reminded of another October painting time, and backlit aspens came off the brushes when I returned to the studio. I like to think of how special my spouse is, like that one green pine in the midst of those golden aspens. I bet many of you saw the aspens first? That's because we have each one the unique vision to find the match for ourselves. Aspens for one, a pine tree for another. Original oil, 9 x 12 inches.

to collector Suzanne Winchester of Plano, Texas.

4 "In the Place of Peace" I have done many plein air paintings, and many have been favorites. I still have this one, which hasn't been on display or on the web site for a year or more. Since I spent most of today working on the design of the back cover for Horses in Art's summer issue, I thought you might enjoy a "resurrection" (so to speak!) of an earlier painting. I loved it when I painted it, and I still love it today, most especially for the brushwork and the different values of gray on the statue of Jesus. But unless it speaks to you, it will remain in my personal collection. Original oil on canvas glued to birch backboard, 16 x 12 inches. It was done on location at the Pala Mission, south of Temecula and east of Fallbrook. One of the string of California missions from San Diego northwards. Great place to paint.

to Nina May of McLean, Virginia

5 "Veneration" In the valley below where we live, before the development, there used to be some venerable coastal live oaks growing, like this one. The developers boxed them up and moved them, and now they grow in civilized landscape areas, having lost something of their magnificence for having been moved. Fortunately I took photographs of all of these trees before they were uncerimoniously uprooted, and have taken a moment in time to put them back. Original oil, 9 x 12 inches. $200.
6

"Salvation" Before you say, "Hey, this looks familiar!", I want you to know that this is a commission requested by a collector on the East Coast who saw the tiny 7 x 5 sunset from last month, and requested a 20 x 16 version for her collection. I like to think of all my 8 x 10 and smaller paintings as potential starting points for larger works--quick studies. And I am always available for commission work--I just love the challenges. This week I'm prepping for a one artist showing of at least eight paintings of a western flavor for the Temecula Community Theater complex. Fun!

to the collection of Berta Strulovici of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

7 "Got Goat?" Kiko goat. Things link together in the strangest ways. Today I returned a milk goat and her kids to the lady who has provided all our goats, and am in the same turn contacted by an owner of this buck goat (one doesn't call them "billy" goats) for their marketing. Kiko goats are an unusual breed http://www.theikga.org from New Zealand and are known for their hardiness and large size. Since I have a pack goat, and today was definitely a goats day, this Kiko buck is now on canvas. Original oil, 12 x 9 inches. $220
8 "Herald Tribune" Some days I create art purely for myself.  Today was one of those days.  A major switching of gears, too, as this is neither oil nor acrylic, but Conte crayon on Stonehenge paper (usually used for silk screen printing)!  It depicts my Mom and Dad on one of their many trips, Mom with her crossword puzzle in the newspaper and both with characteristic hats, somewhere where there were glaciers.   I can say that paintings get "into my head" and need to be released to make room for more.  This one came into my head because near our dining room table is a photograph of my folks in a more traditional pose, hanging on the wall by the bookcase.  I've been looking at it during every sit-down meal, and the idea to draw them has surfaced more than once as I glanced at it.  I used to draw all the time, and enjoy it for its quickness and mark making.  Looking at the photograph and also the drawing, I like this more relaxed one much better.  Original drawing,  17 x 16 inches. Staying in the "Collection of the Artist".
9 "Joi de Vivre" Back to painting my beloved horses!  This painting, an original oil, depicts the absolute joy of living that horses, especially young ones, seem to have in great abundance.  I like the cocked head, the feeling as he catches your eye, as he glances back at you, that you and he share the life force of living, and you both know it.  This is a young Clydesdale foal, one of the heavy draft horse breeds, and I really, really enjoyed painting it.  I don't normally do "head shots", as there are so many artists who can do them incredibly well.  But somehow this fellow caught my eye, from part of a photograph I took while at the Draft Horse Classic.  Six by six inches, on gallery wrap (no frame needed).

to the collection of Juliette Harrison in Red Hook, New Jersey

10 "Babysittin' for Better Wages" I used to babysit many years ago (made me realize I really didn't want to have children), and since I have always loved being on the back of a horse to changing diapers, I painted this painting. Now, for artists, this painting used to be on my site in an earlier form, and it was done when I was still working with the color system. This 16 x 12 oil painting still has the Color System in it, but I have a much more subtle hand in using it. See if you can figure out what I changed, and why. I repainted about 75% of it. I hope you enjoy the changes, for here's the old one:

This better version is for sale for $550 unframed

11 "King of the Little Hill" Petting zoos. What can I say? They might be filled with doting parents of tiny tykes running up and hugging the tolerant creatures, but I cannot pass one by without going in and saying "hi" to the residents therein. This guy was about 14 inches tall, but met me at eye level (I think to escape the short people) and so I took his picture. I love goats. Today I spent a few hours in the goat pens cleaning house and setting up a new feeder. Got my exercise, and also a focus for a good Thursday painting. I hope you enjoy him! Original oil, 9 x 12 inches, US $125
12 "Catching the Warmth" Basking in the sunshine, the old dog, called "Reddog" rested just this way, dozing in the sunshine. Reddog was a rescue I saved from Long Beach and he lived to be a good old boy for seven years until his heart gave out. Typical of the American Doberman temperament, he was a sheep in Dobie clothes, without a mean bone in him. Lovingly sent to the Rainbow Bridge over ten years ago today. Nine by 12 oil on board backed canvas. Only for sale to someone who'll love him.

to the collection of Melissa Brown, Lexington, Kentucky

13 Tonight's painting is of a Limoges sugar bowl and creamer that has been in the family since my grandmother was married--before 1900.  This dark blue and silver inlaid set has always been visible somewhere in our house as I grew up.  Today was also my mother's memorial service, and my brother put together a fifty minute video of images spanning over seventy years of my mother's life and marriage to my dad.  Their three kids, and extended grandkids and great grandkids gathered today to celebrate and remember.  I'm drained from the emotional content--brought to tears by so many things I'd never seen and achingly missing the past.  Poignantly sad at the finality of the images I've seen, I'm still filled with the wonderfulness of the legacy my parents created.  
  Happy Mother's Day tomorrow.
  Original oil, 9 x 12 inches on canvas, available for $175
14 "Watching the Parade"  An original oil on board, this 24 x 30 is one I had planned on showing at the opening this week (with delivery tomorrow), but when I went to look for a frame, I found none, having used up the other frames of that size already on other work.  I have 24 paintings to deliver tomorrow to the gallery space with 54 linear feet of wall space--I wonder how they will manage to hang them all?  Not my problem, which is good, since I have a full plate this coming week with other things.
  This painting wouldn't have made it into the shown pieces anyway, because I got it on the easel and went after it, after studying it for a while.  In the image I've attached, you can see the new areas because of their sheen and my bad photograph.  I like working over pieces, as I have a certain amount of confidence that they are not finished until I have a gut feeling that they are.  Comes with time and practice, I imagine.  I especially like the design of this one, and the brushwork.  Each of the parade watchers is done with as minimal of brush strokes as possible.  Offered at $650).
15 "Adjustments"  I just went into the studio tonight and lost total track of time. Here it is after midnight and I'm looking at a 16 x 12 oil coming from the archives of a fellow artist with camera, who graciously said, "Use waht you like, I love your work!" This is the first of perhaps many draft horse paintings that will result from this collaboration! $350 from the artist (the one with the brushes). 

to new collector Donna Swajeski of New York City.

16 I painted a large commission a half dozen years ago (you can see it on the commissions page) of six horses that belonged to a lady who was moving to Washington state. I traded that work for one of her young Foxtrotter colts. I later sold that colt as an almost two year old to a nice gal in Riverside.
Today I go to a trainers to look at a horse to buy, which didn't work out (too young, too tall). The trainer's wife mentions a horse that her mother has that might come up for sale in August. We go see her, I ride her, and am swept away by everything about her. After our ride, she looks at me and says, "I know you." Turns out that this gal is the one I sold the colt to, and this horse of her mother's is one of the six in the painting. The colt now belongs to her best friend, who also wanted to buy the mare.
Here's a quick study of the mare I'm buying, from one of the reference photos for the painting from so many years ago. Amazing that this horse is going to come into my life in living form.
Original oil, 9 x 12 inches. Keeping this one.
17 "Early Light" I picked up this oval canvas that has been sitting around for what seems like forever, and painted this early morning light on clouds , not thinking practically. Photographing this puppy for the web site and for this email has been a real "pickle." Oh, the photography was fine, it was manipulating it so I could make it easy for you to see its oval shape that stretched those Photoshop abilities.
Regardless, here it is for your pleasure, camera shenanigans notwithstanding. Original Oil, 5 x 7 inches, $100.
18 "Study in Tans" Brown goats, brown hay, brown day. What a challenge to depict both space and value when faced with source material that is...well... "bland". A fun challenge, and one that stretches the color knowledge to its zenith. Tomorrow night is the gallery opening, so I'm getting some butterflies. Wonder if they'll stay still enough to paint? Original oil on canvas, 8 x 10 inches. $150
19 "Spirit of the Sport" Every year I paint at least two originals for the Harness Tracks of America Auction ( harnesstracks.com ) to assist in both the development of my equine art and also to support a worthy cause. Although harness racing is not a sport I can even see where I live, I do have many reference photos from my time at the Red Mile in Lexington. This non-traditional realistic painting I hope will raise good funds for their cause. Original oil on canvas, 12 x 16 inches. Available only through their web site or the auction this fall.
20 "Greased Lightning" The second in the paintings I am doing for the Harness Tracks of American auction. This year I'm sendng three 12 x 16 oils, and all three will be similar. I'm not sure why, but I enjoy painting skies and horses! Original oil on canvas, 12 x 16 inches. Available only through their web site this fall.
21 "California Coast" Tiny little painting, with tons of paint! It's just 6 x 4 inches, and a careful study of the soft coloration of our state's edge, so powerfullly' affected by the moisture in the air. I did a trip up the coast a few years back, and took many 35 mm color prints of the coastal area. But photographs just cannot capture the color and light, not from ordinary cameras. So paint does a good job. $100
22 "California Coast #2" Tiny little painting again, another 4 x 6 canvas. These are such fun! Little blobs of color become mountains, water and shadows. I'm resurrecting some older material from my files and revisiting similar subjects (without prior refreshing) to see where my artistic muse takes me. I like these little ones! Reminds me also, to get busy and list some of these on ebay. I've just been a bit too busy. Available for $100
23 Ha!  What fun... to take a digital image that you didn't even take, and make a decent painting from it.  Actually what happened today was that my artist-students came to the studio after a long hiatus, and we were working on solving some issues.  Joan had an on-location piece of her friend and fellow painter Terry on the easel.   Struggling with abstract structure, she knew I wanted to help.  Rather than paint on her work , I decided to teach by doing one from scratch.  So, using her digital source material, I painted the artist painting on location, sharing with the student the process and why I did what I did.  This painting is the result, a 12 x 9 oil, quickly laid in to show strong abstract structure and making changes to the composition to make a better design.    Still learning to leave out the junque and get only the essentials.  AVailable for $275
24 "Cross Country" This six by six inch canvas is a quick painting of a really quick horse--one of the competitors in the three-day event in Kentucky (and other places, including our local Galway Downs).  Horse and riders compete in three disciplines for three days, doing dressage (tightly controlled movements), cross country (flat out racing with HUGE obstacles) and then show jumping in an arena with time and perfection being the goal.  It is an incredible experience to be beside the marked track and have one of these magnificent pairs go thundering by!  I may tweak this one a bit more once the initial lay in hardens a bit.  You can always check back on the site to see some that have been "polished". Available for $175
25 I thought you'd like to see the painting from the plein air hike today. I met up with several local painters, and headed out to paint the commission for the two docents at the Santa Rosa Plateau. This is a commission that was raffled off last September to raise funds for the transportation of the third graders who visit the Plateau and learn about California's habitats and animals. This program changes children's lives. Thousands of kids hike the plateau on guided tours and receive lessons at the Visitor's Center. The bus transportation is provided with help from the Foundation, as districts are strapped for money, and there are always more third graders.
The hike in and out was four miles, and I pulled my golf cart easel over rocks and along narrow trails to get to this viewpoint. Well worth it, because I know you'll be able to get the "feel" for what this place means to me, and to the docents in looking at this vista. Now, the lower right section is finished, as they asked me to add eight people (six grand children and themselves) in the lower right. But this 15 x 30 canvas was a pure pleasure to paint in the afternoon light!
26 "Foggy Workout" The third in the series for the Harness Tracks of America auction (due date mid June for image submission).  This is a 9 x 12 exercise in depicting a foggy and mist-shrouded day.  Now, getting the values believable is the biggest challenge in painting overcast days, so that when you look at it, you say, "Yes, it must be overcast."  One has to deal with a narrower middle range of values (light to dark) to get it right.  And all colors are muted as well.  The source-horse for this one was brightly lit in sunshine, so in addition to getting the atmospheric feeling in the background, I had to make sure the horse wasn't screaming "SUNLIGHT".  Fun to do, of course.  A puzzle to solve!
27 "Conservatism" Where do titles come from? I was looking at the position of this subject after I painted it, and the title just came out. Perhaps it is because the apple leans to the right and is on the right side. However, when I positioned it, I wanted to include the shadow shape. These Gala apples are so scrumptious, before and AFTER being painted! I hope everyone has a safe and quiet weekend. The party animals are out in force, with no mind for the reason for the holiday--to remember those who have died for freedom. May yours be peaceful. Original oil, 5 x 7 inches. $100
28 "Reworking" When you grow as an artist, it is always a good idea to look over your work and see if your new layers of knowledge can take your work to new levels. I did what's under this painting over two years ago, and came back into it tonight with more color sense. This 5 x 7 oil was originally done on location while suffering jet lag. You can see the original here. I like it much better now.

to Nina May of McLean, Virginia

29 "Remembering" Today is Memorial Day, and after a visit to the March Air Museum yesterday with my beloved husband--a Viet Nam Air Force Vet, and watching a movie on Viet Nam last night, and knowing my uncle and aunt are buried in the National Cemetary in Florida, and because I lost a friend whose name is on Maya Lin's wall in Washington, D. C., and because of my mother's recent passing....this painting came out of me. Original oil, 7 x 5 inches, for all of those serving so that we may remember, too.

to the collection of Nina May of McLean, Virginia

30 "Vet Check" Tomorrow I'm having my other horse vet checked for the peace of mind of the new buyers.  So I thought I'd share a quick study done today of a similar experience at Del Mar (note the turquoise green accents--really a trademark!).  It's a five by seven oil.  I spent a good part of today in the studio finishing the commission of the landscape with the eight people (are they multiplying?  I wonder...) and I signed it later.  Plus I also finished the painting of my beloved husband, and will post both of these tomorrow.  It is eleven pm now, I think I'm tottering off to check my eyes for light leaks.
  I need to get out my acrylics again, as I just got the notification from Walter Foster that the book I'm in "Acrylic References for Artists" is heading for the presses and distribution.  And an email from Nita Leland that her revised "Creative Artist" is also due for distribution.  I have work in that one, too.
  Hmmmm.  Better update the resume.

to Nina May of McLean, Virginia

31 "Looking Back" When I was about this kid's age, I lived in Virginia on the edge of Lake Barcroft. The forests and sunlight that came through the trees seemed magical to me, and of course there was much to be explored in the lake itself. Never one for dolls, I spent most of my kid time outdoors. This was a grand painting for me today, as it just fell off my brushes, full of the joy of the memories. Tomorrow I go on location again, this time back to the Santa Rosa Plateau. I'll be delivering the commission done on May 25, posted with the eight people in it. Check the archives!

to Heidi Hurley of Tokyo, Japan