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Updated 3/29/12

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

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December 2007



7 OK, it has been toooooo long! Lesson time! I've been thinking about each one of you this holiday season, and want to gift you at least two lessons before the new year...

This is an interesting canvas size--it is 16 x 24, not your usual 16 x 20. I had a couple of frames of this size made up some time ago, and I'm doing a painting for myself.... imagine that! This size is the 2 x 3 ratio that one usually sees in 24 x 36 canvases.

Ratios in canvases are interesting in any event... we have the square 1:1 ratio, the 3:4 and 2:3 ratio, and the 1:3 that results in really looong canvases (or tall ones if it is 3:1). Finding the right ratio for the subject matter is important to me as an artist, because when I design within that space, I am influenced by the initial concept, and I then grab a canvas that mostly works with that structure. Trying to fit a concept into a canvas that isn't conducive to it is a scenario for frustration. Thus the guidance of a sketchbook to work through the best design before beginning! If you're interested, you might go back in the blog to see the whippet painting that is on a 1:3 canvas (12 x 36) which lends itself to the long, running stride of that dog breed.

Now this lesson canvas is destined to hang above the towel rack in my guest bathroom, and the subject is the coast of Maine. I've been thinking about this painting for a while--most of the past month--and so it is almost finished in my head before I lift a brush. I'm curtailed in my colors to match the bathroom (oh dear!) but that won't affect me until later in the painting. I may have to soften somewhat the concept to fit with the gentleness of the (ulp!) deep pink and gray-green and gray-blue of the colors there. But that's later.

For now, I started this acrylic with an underpainting of Quinacradone Burnt Orange and Cadmium Orange to get rid of that white canvas. Then I sketched in the design with burnt umber and ultramarine blue. I have a high horizon line to focus the viewer on the foreground, where I'm going to be having a riot of fun with acrylic texture to create the vegetation on the coast of Maine. Tomorrow the lay-in of the sky, sea and clouds.....

Other news, the two puppies are deeply entrenched in my heart, and have adjusted to the routines around here. They bring me such joy at their lively puppiness! (Now, just as a note, can you see the DESIGN in this photograph???
9 Oops! A day slipped away from me, but it was certainly a busy one! We opened our home and studio for a holiday gathering of friends, family and artists on Saturday, and I'm now recovered enough to write again. All the guests who were strangers mostly to one another wore name tags with their first name, their affiliation to Ron and I (Aikido, Artist, or something else) and some added an interesting fact below that. Conversations abounded as folks asked questions upon viewing the name tags. "Oh, you're a gardener! Where is your garden and how big is it?" "Endurance riding? Can you tell me about that?"

I cooked for two full days prior, and most of the food disappeared! Bruschetta, cookies, tropical fruit cake, fudge, meatballs in sauce, deviled eggs... whew. We still have beer, though.

So, on to this painting! The 16 x 24 inch format is clearly visible now with the sky, water and distant headlands painted in. Those of you boot campers (prior workshop attendees) know that this entire section was done with the cool palette, using mostly the "big three" for the sky and water. I used burnt umber and ultramarine mixed into the sky mix to create the headlands/islands out in the sea. The entire area "lays down" because of the use of the cools.
Although the canvas looks almost divided in thirds at this point (Ack! Bad design!) the weight and angulation of the lower area for the vegetation will carry the painting when I get to it. And that will be very soon!
13

I'm off and running on a 24 x 18 commission to be delivered on the 16th. It is a German Shorthair named Robi, who was co-owned by a father and son, and who was tragically killed this past year.
I've owned German Shorthair Pointers, and know how loving and silly they can be, and how very "birdy". So it is fun to revisit the breed in this acrylic painting.
Here you see the rough lay-in of the structure and position of the dog, in a characteristic pose, over the underpainting which is composed mostly of Quinacradone Burnt Orange and Ultramarine Blue.
I did a small sketch from images provided by the son, and read his words on how the dog behaved. I haven't decided yet whether or not to put the dog on a familiar couch, or put smaller composite pictures in the negative space of aspects of this bird dog's life. The painting will tell me what to do when the time is ripe.
I'm also working on another commission, which needs to be sent out Monday. Busy! I'll share that one with you soon, in a couple of stages, so you can see the mountain landscape come together. I love making paintings for people that bring moments back to them! I don't think there is a better way to depict a moment in time than through a well-executed painting...so much of the artist's hand and the "life" of the moment comes through that is difficult to capture in ordinary snap shots or digital imagery.

On the Maine painting, I had several wonderful suggestions, and will be working on that one after these two commissions are put to bed. But no boats on the water...sorry!

18

A marathon couple of days in the studio this week... two commissions to finish up, and this is the first. The second is done, too, but I'm waiting for feedback from the folks before posting it.

This is the finished 24 x 18 inch acrylic portrait of "Robi" and I am going to quote for you some of the writings that her former owner wrote:
This pup was singularly responsible for bringing my dad and I back together. Dogs work a sort of magic with him--soften him up. Sounds a bit silly I guess, but my dad accepted the pup and put our troubles behind him. At any rate, his young dog and my young pup became fast friends, so close, so inseparable in fact that even though Robi was my dog, she was happiest with Tarn and my dad. I could never have moved her to Southern California--it would have been unfair to all three.

She was, without a doubt, the oddest dog we've ever had. Until about four years of age, she would not gain much weight. She grew and always had an incredibly shiny coat and healthy gleam to her eye, but her ribs and hip bones always stuck out (despite eating large quantities of food). She was very active (not hyper or yippy or a bit crazy--none of our shorthairs have been as they are sterotyped).

Robi was our only digger. She did dig a few holes in the lawn, but stopped that quickly on her own. Instead, she was prone to burrying things in the couch. The two dogs got a selection of milk bones and pig ears in the evening time. Robi would take each one and run off to one of the couches, where she would wedge it down between the cushions with her nose. If there were blankets in the way, she'd dig at them with her paws until she could shove the treat where she wanted it. She'd then dig up her little hidden treasures later that evening or the next day for a snack.

Robi was a good hunter with a good nose. She was keen to retrieve and a good swimmer. Although, she was always far more content to hunt very close to my dad, while Tarn would range out farther and cover a lot more ground. Tarn was often the first dog to find a bird. Robi would honor Tarn's point every time. She did this instinctively without ever being trained or taught to do so.

In terms of dimensions, Robi was small for a shorthair. She was about 35-40 pounds at her normal weight and around 28" at her shoulder. She often wore a guilty look, though she was very rarely in trouble.

In her last year she had moved with my dad and Tarn to the Isle of Man and then to Alaska, my dad's permanent residence. In August, my dad was entertaining some company that wanted to do a lot of salmon fishing. On a scouting expedition, my dad let both dogs out on the side of a country road. Both dogs have been around their fare share of traffic and cars--they are traffic safe. It was one of those fluke things where Robi just got out on the wrong side at the wrong time and a car just happened to be right there, coming out of a blind turn. The car hit her without having time to break. My dad was just crushed. He performed CPR on her for 10 minutes, but to no avail--she passed away quickly from massive internal injuries. (End of quote)

I'm sure you can see why I had to paint Robi. Stories like this one make my painting journey such a poignant one. The painting is now in the hands of Summer and Shawn, and it will travel north to Alaska next week, as a present to his dad. Here's a photograph of the painting when they picked it up today. Yes, these two also shoe my horse!

21

I LOVE last-minute commissions! I am so pleased that I can deliver a painting in a week or less when other artists take months. It has been especially wonderful this year, as my contact list and word of mouth has brought some wonderful folks to my email "door" with requests for paintings for gift giving.
Here is an example of the one I just shipped--a 16 x 20 acrylic of a place that is so very special to the person receiving the present--his favorite place for camping and in the high country with that distinct peak. His wife sent me images, and I pulled the view together (and you know how much I love to paint water!). She was very pleased, and so am I.

And two paintings as last minute Christmas gifts were sold from my ebay store, one shipped to arrive Tuesday, and another to be hand delivered by me this weekend.

So my holidays are busy and full of the real pleasure of bringing visual joy to so many people, while doing what I love, (and must do) to be who I am.

To all my collectors and friends, I wish you a very safe and loving holiday season filled with your most treasured wishes. For me, it will be a quiet season, reflecting on all the wonderful friends I have made through my artwork. Well, as quiet as it can be with two new puppies!
Here's an image of them when it truly IS quiet....

24

With this message are images of the new construction on the studio, almost finished now, and ready to share as my gift to you this Christmas Eve. The old entrance to the studio was narrow and dark, and there was a four foot wall right by the door, making getting in and out difficult. All the excavation resulted in this more pleasant welcome. I took these pictures this morning. ..temperature about 58 degrees.

This first image is the new walkway and lamp post, going to the stairs that drop down to the recessed patio. All concrete was stamped and stained to look like the natural granite boulders on the right. The outer studio is the green part, the main house is above that. Yes, those are the puppies!

This is the view looking up the new stairs toward the parking area. We added the used brick trim to continue the look of the house. Before, it was pink cinder block (think prison walls, and they matched the pink paint--arrgh). The stairs curve, and the railing is the same color as our driveway gate. I'm already planting and hanging baskets!
In all the construction, I wanted to keep the natural boulders and enjoy their sheltering presence and the wildlife they harbor.

This next image is looking down into the patio at the eight-foot sliding door that replaced a small window. Great north light coming in now. Installed into the wall next to the soon-to-be-painted door is a lovely mosaic by artist Judy Wood. I have two of her pieces and love each one. I will add more sculptures to the yard and gardens in the years to come.

Here is the view you'd get if you were coming to a workshop, bringing your supplies. The patio opens off the two doors, and the seating walls on the planters will be great for breaks and for lunches outdoors. They'll be full of plants by February's workshop, and we'll have a table and umbrella out there, too. The metal sign near the top of the door reads "Welcome" on one side... and "Go Away" on the other... just a joke!
Between Ron's Honda and the pond, I'm working on a rose garden. There will be between 8 and 12 bushes in it, and by this spring, we ought to have some very fragrant roses growing there. Right now, the fall foliage is reflected in the koi pond on the front patio of the house. (The sand bags are only there because of the recent rains. )
So the upgrading of the yard and studio continues, and all will be finished by the workshops next year. I'm so pleased that this will be ready, and I couldn't share it until it was.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and all the best in 2008!

25

One of my favorite songs, sung in two languages. May each one of us work for "Peace on Earth" and I'll be back to the easel tomorrow.

Merry Christmas!