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Updated 3/29/12

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

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1 "Beginning with a Dawn" What better way to greet the new year than to paint the rising of the sun as it comes up behind the bluffs in wha is called "the Badlands" of Riverside County? I just love theses really steep hills, with the fields off in the distance. It felt so right to imagine the sujnrise playing on the counds off in the distance, and to think what the new year holds. Optomistically, I think the new year will bring exciting new challenges, a ton of fun, and many new friends. First painting of 2007 - Original oi, 12 x 12 inches. $200
2

"New Year's Resolution...Not" This impudent jelly donut sticks its tongue of jelly out at you and me, almost teasing us to break those News Year's resolutions. Jelly donuts with their gooey raspberry centers cannot hold a candle to the holiday goodies just past, but it still makes a wonderful model to the second painting of 2007. I don't buy these things, but bring them home to feed the coyotes instead of having them go to waste (waist!?) in the trash bin. Original acrylic, 4 x 6 inches.

through Riverside Art Museum's annual "Off the Wall" exhibit.

3

"Another Fat Pill" Oh Dear! This is just awful! That box of donuts is still in the studio, and another one slipped out to show up near my easel. I just had to paint it, because I CANNOT eat it! Goal setting for 2007 includes making better food choices, and you and I both know donuts are nowhere near the list! Yet I have to tell you about glazed donuts. When I was a kid back in Falls Church, Virginia, and went to church, and sang in the junior choir, after the service there was always a time for conversation and socializing. Always there were these oh-so-fresh glazed donuts in boxes for the parish to eat, coffee for the grownups and punch for the children. And they always had a lot of sugary glaze, and droplets on the wax paper. I remember those still-warm donuts to this day, and when I eat one (not this one!), I try to recapture that sense of community and those memories. Original acrylic on gallery wrap canvas, 5 x 7 inches.

through Riverside Art Museum's annual "Off the Wall" exhibit.

4

I sure wish these donuts would get out of my studio, but I've had such fun without even delayed gratification after the painting session. Oh, you see that there's a bite out of this one? No, I didn't do that. It happened before it was placed on the taboret. And you see the model, a chocolate cake donut with peanut sprinkles! This 4 x 6 oil is propped up behind that tasty little model, so you can see the source material, and the finished painting. It is fun to paint from life, even if the wafting odor of warm chocolate permeates the air as I paint, caused by the heat of the lamp. Oh, such will power!!

I'm still waiting for input for the next commission--until I hear, I cannot begin that one. It will be a lesson painting, if it comes to fruition. If not, perhaps I'll do a horse painting to fill the time and give more pointers about painting.

through Riverside Art Museum's annual "Off the Wall" exhibit.

5

OK, you overwhelmed me with the comments about donuts and New Year's resolutions! I get it, and won't paint the cruller...well, I'll wait a while. There are three donuts left (the rest, all 20 or so, went to the coyotes tonight).  Our power keeps going out with the high winds, so I may not be able to get this to you before midnight. I'll try, though.  The winds are incredibly strong, with gusts up to 80 miles per hour. We're sheltered here in the new place a bit, but our neighbors out on the slope below us are really getting hit. And the power lines come up from there.

The commission for the boats came through with the details I needed, and here is the quote from the originator: "My vision of the scene is the Soulmate in a tropical setting (light blue/turquoise water and palm trees) then the scene morphing to the Absolute with a Northwestern type landscape (dark blue water and possibly Mt. Rainier).  The Southern Cross I envision in the starry sky - as a 'ghost' ship - sailing away so you see the back of the boat with the outriggers extended.  And sailing toward the constellation of the Southern Cross.  The Soulmate and Absolute can be facing whatever direction makes sense to you."

I suggested a slight horizontal format (ocean water tending to seek a certain level!) and will have no problem depicting the night view of the lost Southern Cross (she was taken in a hurricane).  The images of the boats are adequate, although I'm going to have to really do some drawing to get the Southern Cross in position going away from the viewer, because that source material shows a view looking down toward the stern (back) instead of equal or above the horizon. Just another knot in the anchor rope!

6

Here's the 24 x 36 inch canvas, prepped with white gesso tinted with cadmium orange and burnt umber gesso thrown in. I made some changes to the original sketch as I thought about the relationship of the boats. The larger one in the foreground is the current boat for this recipient. The second boat is further away, in Florida I believe, and sailed into the Caribbean, I don't know if the recipient still owns this one. Now that shape in the upper left is going to become a "ghost ship" in the night sky (a vignette) because it was lost in one of the Florida hurricanes. There will be stars there, and the Southern Cross in the night sky (and the name of the boat). 
  Mount Ranier will be behind the largest boat as its location is within view of it.  I've seen the Southern Cross in my travels, I've been to tropical locations, and also to Seattle. Actually being in a place you're asked to paint certainly helps!  
  Challenges for me right now are in designing the clouds over Mt. Ranier and transitioning that to the night sky and ghost ship. Ought to be a fun day tomorrow!

7

The day's work on this commission has ended up with me covering about 75% of the canvas, with the general colors that will be in each location. this part of the painting process is cerebral and intuitive, as I make decisions as the brush goes to the surface. Where to end a cloud, sight lines of shapes and edges, and keeping the viewer's eye going where I need it to go. As I may have mentioned, this pass is just getting the larger shapes in place, and doing those areas about which I have a good deal of certainty. 
 The decision to make the "Southern Cross" into an ephemeral shape will make its position in the sky more believable. People want to see things where they would normally be, and to put a boat in the sky is good in concept, yet to convey it in a rather traditional painting would be a challenge. I think I can do it, keeping that boat "there, but not". I have left the dark upper left for the constellation of the Southern Cross. The change in sky from one side to the other is handled by the clouds in both locations, Seattle and the Caribbean. 
 I can hardly wait to do the water and reflections! I love painting water.

Still more changes to come!!

8

Now I'm purely having FUN! It is so enjoyable to go in familiar territory, bringing this commission up to this stage. I'm connecting the dots so to speak, making changes to the shapes of the obats, integrating the whole composition before I start with the details, the calligraphy and areas of high contrast that will hold the viewer's eye. I'm quite pleased with it at this stage. I think a day to let these layers set up, so I can do the details without picking up the underlayment.

You can see that I've cleaned up a lot of the edges, losing some, and I added the palm trees and beach (oh to be there now) behind the Soulmate. The Absolute is definitely closer to the viewer, and turned slightly this way. I still have much more to do on the Southern Cross in the night sky, and to add the stellar constellation of that same name. Such fun!

Next will be the details!!

9

I needed to set aside the boat painting for the pigments to set up for a day, so this dog commission came off the brushes for a family in Fallon, Nevada. Last October I donated a commissioned portrait to the CAPS Art Auction for the Dogs and Cats in their shelter, and was sent some "really bad" photographs of this heeler mix. He was the constant companion of the buyer's grandchild, and the dog passed away at age 13. I'm doing my best to capture the pose and head expression in the three photographs they provided, to create a complete image of the lost pet. I'll end up doing more work on it when the light of the morrow comes, especially around the face.

10

Three days of work on this one (mostly) and I can comfortably say it is 99 percent finished. I really am pleased with the way this slight fantasy/mostly real painting came out. The work has an interesting balance of values and division of space. Squint your eyes and look at the interesting light/dark that shows up! 

Putting visuals to the words of people who so much want to have a memory made into something tangible is truly rewarding. I do hope the individual who has commissioned this painting will be pleased with the way it has turned out. 

I also worked on yesterday's commission of the dog, completely wiping out and scraping much of his face off, repainting it in with an accuracy that was missing on the first go. AS artists, we cannot have fear about correcting our images, because if it has been painted once, it can be done again. Our brushes continue to move over new canvases, and each mark making is building on those that went before. Retracing our steps to correct is similar to practicing what we are learning--it can only contribute to growth. So I have a great deal of certainty that any corrections I make will only make me a better artist in my journey.

11

I knew I'd have to make changes to the dog to get the right "look", and boy! There were some major ones.  I ended up scraping out the entire nose and eye area, and repainting much of the structure of the head. I'm just happier with it. Below are both paintings, before and after, so you can see the changes wrought. They look like two different dogs! But that's the way of a commission for me. I tend to paint the majority of it in the first pass--OH OH!!! Major teaching moment ahead!

Hesitancy in painting limits your choices. I am reminded of cleaning a closet--the first thing that has to be done is to get everything OUT of the closet. So when I paint like this, I'm putting a lot of paint out there, and doing a lot of things on the canvas so I have something to work with later. Imagine if you will a restaurant with only two items on the menu. You'd stop going there, wouldn't you, after tasting just those two items every time? Your canvas can be a menu. The more you have OUT on it, the more choices you are likely to make. For example, say I put some blue in the lower left corner. That blue is out there where I can see it, and I can make additional choices in my work based upon seeing it. Had I not put the blue there, options and choices related to that blue wouldn't be possible! 

So the dog commission was done in the first pass to give me something to work with later. I had the head painted, it just wasn't RIGHT. I had the dog painted, and a lot of it IS right. A headless dog is a dog with nothing to work with. So my advice to you all is, "Do something, ANYthing, so you have something to work with."

12

Another commission, this time from a great collector in Florida, for whom I've painted her other lovely granddaughter Molly with Daisy, done last year. Now I'm returning with Allie and Spunky. Spunky has been painted before, and I do so love his soulful eyes. Allie is a beauty as well, with incredible skin that will tax my abilities to capture the translucent beauty there. I do so love a challenge! Here is the first lay in, placing the figures on the canvas without any intent to capture likeness. That will come perhaps tomorrow. I was sent some really good images from which to work, so this ought to go smoothly (famous last words!) It is a 20 x 16 oil. For you, Kim!.

13

Now I have to say, this is tough to show to so many discriminating eyes, but you need to see every stage that paintings go through to better understand each of those stages. There are places in one painting's development that cannot be described any other way than "the uglies". This one is knee-deep in it right now! That's because the human eye and mind wants to see things a certain way, and when denied that by the level of completion of the work, the reaction is not one of acceptance, but more of surprise, and dismay. I call this stage the ugly stage for each painting I do. I know the folks commissioning a painting ought not see this stage, but they're subscribed to the list, so alas!

Fortunately for all, this painting will escape from that region and move toward a finished state tomorrow.  Today's focus was to set some edges and to start on the likeness of both the dog and young lady.

14

Whew. The painting has left the "uglies" now and is heading toward completion. I've made changes to start achieving likenesses in both faces, and still building interest in those areas not the focal point. Note that I have not yet painted eyes, nor done details on the dog's paw (lower right). I will be flicking my brushes over the entire surface, continuing to make corrections from this point forward, and bringing to a finish the painting of Allie and Spunky. 

Today with two hours of team water volleyball and filling a three-yard dumpster with cactus and brush, I'm kinda tired out tonight. However I still have computer work to do, sitting here by the wood fire, listening to Prairie Home Companion ( http://www.prairiehome.org ) with Garrison Keillor. Hmmm, I see I need another walk to the woodpile.

15

Looking at the painting now is a lot easier on the eyes than a couple days ago. I spent a lot of knuckle-busting hours getting the likeness of the young lady today, and putting the finishing touches on Spunky D. There are still some details that need work, and I will spend tomorrow doing that before calling it a finished work. I need to get away from it for a while, to come back to see it with clarity.  
  I call that "putting it under the bed for the night". Many artists get to this point in a work, and put it away for a while. Out of sight, the painting sits, allowing the synapses in the artist's mind to connect to the subconscious, creating a fertile arena for those "AHA!" moments upon seeing it again. For an artist to push to work on a painting when the muse has left the building almost certainly sets up a scenario for questioning and groping for the answers to visual problems. Leaving it alone for a while will magically solve most of them!

16

Taking a break from the commission (need to clear the cobwebs!), I rummaged around and found this red onion, and one of the specialty canvas sizees for smaller paintings. The canvas is 5 x 5 inches, and this is an acrylic, applied thickly. Nice to take a break from the oils for a day or so. In ohter news, I finished the Plein Air DVD, and will be sending it off for duplication this week. Next is to see the acrylic one on a DVD master as well!

17

Time to clean out the pill boxes! This action generated a painting today that is more what I'd like to do with the texture of the paint adding a distinct lusciousness I crave to see. There's a lot of palette knife instead of brushwork in this one. Hmmm, may have to get into the mindset of cleaning out pill boxes more often! This 5 x 7 inch oil is called "Close Friends" and joins the ranks of breakout paintings. I love it when creativity burps and these little gems appear.

18

More thick paint! Applying the paint this way is as if I'm frosting a gooey chocolate cake! I love the tactile feeling of the marks of paint as they come off the brush and palette knife. Since this is a quick study, the parts that I really like are the eyes and the texture of the canvas showing through on parts of the cat's head, even though there are some really thick passages of paint in the area. Like van Gogh's work, the actual texture of the paint is part of the story within the painting. I get the feeling of looking at a mosaic when I see these, and that brings to mind the rich history of the Byzantine churches.

to Jacob Cohen of Rockville, Maryland.


19

I had such an amazing time painting this view that is from our front yard, looking west. The sunsets that have been delighting my eyes for the past few weeks finally manifested themselves in this painting. The Italian cypress of the neighbor's house always frame the last intense glow as I head out to feed the horse and goats. This is again thickly applied paint, and my paint boxes are still being emptied. This could portend great things! Oil, 8 x 10 for $250


20

"Fairmont Park Afternoon" What a great time today! I received an email inviting me to join about 15 other plein air (on locations) artists for a pot luck lunch and an afternoon of painting at a local park, complete with lake. This 9 x 12 oil if my first canvas, and it was fun to keep "cleaning out the boxes" and using a lot of paint to get the feeling I was after. The fishing folk on the pier were compliant enough to stay put and the palm trees on the right were fun to do with palette knife and lots of paint! Oil, 9 x 12 for $250 after I sign it!

21

Another plein air painting, this time a 7 x 5 inch oil, and I really, really like this one. Why? Because it is one type of lighting I have been trying to "get" ever since I discovered it while painting on the Santa Rosa Plateau many years ago. Here's an experiment for you--af the sun is heading well toward the horizon today, take a moment and look toward it. (Not into the sun--bad for your eyes, and I don't want anyone without eyeballs!) Then turn yourself 90 degrees and look in that direction. Then look back at the setting sun. Do you notice anything different? How about colors? As your eye moves away from where the sun is setting, you'll start to see more colors in objects. Looking toward the sun, you get almost a black and white image! Amazing.
So today's little gem is how I FINALLY captured that light! OK, so all I had to do was paint grays. Big deal. Definitely a big deal when it has eluded you for years! And of course you can see the paint on this one, too! Oops, forgot to sign it.!

22

How did it get to be after midnight? I was just reading this National Geographic and now it's after the witching hour. Ah well, the painting today went swiftly--finding some improvement on an "oldie but goodie" that has been sitting on the shelf, reminding me of a wallflower at a dance. Now she has on her party dress and is ready to go out for the night! 
A before image (the smaller one) shows you how the values were too close and mid-range, plus there was no "oomph" in the color to keep the viewer interested. The lack of strong value structure makes for a weak, confused painting. We don't want confused! So by repainting a good deal of the background, I was able to calm down the chaos and help you focus on the flowers. If I can, I will continue to improve the flowers in another pass. This is a 16 x 12 inch oil.

23

Here's a bit of a pickle for your entertainment today! This is an on-location painting that I started over a year ago, and found while looking for another piece that had been bought. This 12 x 16 inch oil has some really nice things going on in it, and some unfinished areas (like the palomino horse) that still need work. I know what I'm going to do to finish this piece, and I'm wondering if you have some ideas as to what I've decided to do, and more importantly...WHY. If you'll write back, I'll compile a list of suggestions to go out in tomorrow's email with the finished painting. So please share in your thinking about what YOU would do if this was one you needed to finish up.

24 What a surprise to receive SO many email suggestions about what to do with the painting! I sent all the quotes out to the list, and hope that many will come to see the end result. Elin, you lost the horse? Yes, but there's a reason--on location, there was no horse. I imagineered him into the scene, and never felt comfortable with the end result. I loved the gate, which also was not open when I painted it. So the solution was to partially open the gate (the horse left, of course) and create a pathway and a brighter field beyond the opening. I added brighter, more pure hues to the area where the center of interest lies, and "rebuilt" the wall on the left. Adding the large oak tree was a natural extension of the concept, creating shadowed areas on this side of the wall, and also metaphorically hiding the unknown future beyond the gate. It looks good from here. 12 x 16 oil, $250.
25

On to something simple, yet truly representative of the artist's life--what better to do than the design and color of a tube of paint? I realy like the way the tail of the tube curls up, and gets that blue flash of color. These Shiva paints have been with me for over two decades. I used to like several of their colors, especially ice blue. I used to buy them from the old Standard Brands--the only art supply store around at the time! 5 x 5 Oil for $100

26

What a day today! The day was so incredibly different for me I just had to paint it. Behind our studio is the large mountain called Box Springs. Most of it is a regional park, and it separates the cities of Riverside and Moreno Valley. Today riding buddies Ed Wetter and Don Kobs met me (with Raindance) at the trailhead for this park in Moreno Valley. We were doing what's called a "pre-ride" for the riding club I belong to. The ride took over five hours, up and down some incredibly steep trails that are mostly used by the wild burros. We were in areas of the mountain that didn't really have trails. My plucky little mare led us up a few white-knuckle "non-trails" in our attempt to circumvent a newly installed fenceline. The painting shows us high above the city of Moreno Valley, heading up a ridge as we try to find a trail connection. I'll remember THIS day for a long time! 5 x 5 Acrylic for $100

27

A quick color study to capture the light of an evening's sunset, reinforcing the arrangement of values to make a believable scene in two dimensions. The sunset tonight wasn't as spectacular, but we do have gray skies--hopefully some rain in the forecast. And I woke up this morning discovering some muscles I hadn't used in a while being quite sore from yesterday's ride. The mare was mighty quiet today, too! 5 x 5 Acrylic for $100

28

A painting that focuses on the softer, gray colors that make a painting sing, today's painting is focusing on those ever subtle grays. I've had a fascination with gray and neutral colors for a short while, and with the interest in keeping values correct, I can really enjoy the process of making a nice painting. Every color of the spectrum is in here, but there is not a shred of conflict! The source for this was a photograph I'd taken near Menifee about 25 years ago. This field is no more as the area is now under tract homes. Original oil, 11 x 14 inches

to the collection of Linda McFadden of Murrieta, California.

29

Since I am still working on the capturing the subtle grays that are permeating our drought-stricken landscape, I headed out today with Vincent van (Pack) Goat for an afternoon of plein air painting. Going about a mile up the canyon behind my studio, I stopped, turned around and painted the view back toward the city. Hard to believe a city of over 150,000 people is just down beyond those trees. Original oil, 12 x 16 inches, complete with goat hair! $200

Just for fun, here's an image of Vincent van Goat and I on our way out to the valley behind us to paint the image above. Vince carries everything--there's a tripod, Open Box M, stool, water, carrots (for Vince) and all supplies in his red carry bags (called panniers).
The setup with Vincent critiquing the location wearing his packing "clothes". It's deceptive, but there's a long downhill hike behind him to the trail in, showing above his noggin. He ate for about 30 minutes, and then just lay down until I was ready to pack up. Follows me like a good dog! We didn't get back to the house until about 4:30, and it was getting on toward sunset, and a lot cooler.
30

Time to go to the equine art again, and also time to incorporate some of that earlier experimentation with the thick paint on this 12 x 12 inch oil!  I'm bringing you the start drawing, and also the source material, so you can see what inspired my starting this one.

Perhaps the passing of Barbaro (the race horse) brought this out, but the reference is of a vet or trainer doing a flexion test on the left foreleg of a race horse. The groom and perhaps the owner or assistant or trainer are looking on. The background in the source is booooring, so I'll have to spiff that up a bit, and I am moving the left-most figure so the "action" in the middle is more easily depicted. I also do subtle relocations of shapes to make better design. Lots of loose drawing at this stage, no value issues, no color issues ... YET!

31 Learning time again!  Major changes to bring to you in today's painting, continuing the 12 x 12 oil from yesterday. Some very important things have happened, and I hope I have enough "room" in the message to share it with you! Note how I changed the packground, dividing up the rear space and more effectively placing the figures on a stage with a backdrop. Viewers are more comfortable when  given the illusion that the scene is "contained" for their intimate perusal. The shadowed wall behind, and the openings create that illusion. I cobbled together the new packground from other source photos taken at Del Mar Race Track. Love that tourquoise which is their color!
I have attached another image as an extremely important aspect of painting, demonstrated for you in taking this stage of the painting and manipulating it in my photo editing program. I took out all the color, and flipped it over, with the prime purpose of showing you how important abstract structure is (created in values). Structure is the skeleton of the artwork. Look at the placement and the relationships of the darkest values to the lightest values. And also note that although the background has openings in the wall, they are very close in value to the wall itself to convey the illusion that the wall and openings are further back in the picture. When you look at the upright, colored one, the values don't look that close back there!  I share this with you because one thing I find with many artists is a lack of understanding of how crucially important creating a strong value structure is to the end painting.