Friday, May 29, 2009

Going with the flow....

Yesterday I did not get any painting to speak of done. For Mother's Day, my husband got me a new cookbook. In his defense, it is the first cookbook he's ever gotten me, and he got it because we had watched the author's TV show on Create! and everything she made looked wonderful! It is a 'Latin Flavors' cookbook, and we had watched her make flan, which I especially wanted to try. So at about 1:00 I started to make the caramel for the flan. I was to go paint with the Alzheimer's patients at 3:00, and figured I'd have plenty of time, even though the cookbook said to 'be patient' in making the caramel. It didn't say that 'patient' meant that it would take an hour-and-a-half for it to go from sugar to caramel!!!!! (Constant attention and stirring required.) If you click on the photo above, you can see that Bugs Bunny on my teakettle is finding my frustration very amusing! Needless to say, I threw the flan in the oven just in time to grab my bag and run out the door to paint - without make-up or combed hair. The flan turned out fine, though, and was even better for breakfast this morning.

I also made the Garlic Chicken, which, if you like garlic (and we do!) was delicious! And easy.... though it used 10 cloves of garlic for 4 servings, so I had to put the fan on to air out the house later.

After dinner, we went again to JUCO. It was finally baseball weather! Clear skies, we had a view of reflected sunset on the Grand Mesa from our seats, the crowd was great, and 'our team' won!

Today, I need to finish framing the gallery pieces, and paint a bit. After all, we have leftovers, so no slaving over the stove for the day!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Today I did an under-painting for a piece that will be of a flower seller in Pike Market in Seattle. I don't usually do under-paintings. I usually paint directly, either over a wet wash or over a dry solid color of acrylic. When I do a larger piece, like this one will be, I generally have drawn the piece up, and paint from the upper left corner, downwards to the lower right corner, trying to complete the part of the image I'm working on to completion in one go. But today I felt that this image would work better with an under-painting. So, using a big brush, I blocked in the areas and general shapes of color all over the canvas. I spent just about an hour on it. It is 12 x 16". I'm pretty happy with the under-painting. The trick will be to add just enough details to enhance it, and not too many, to keep from destroying these fresh colors that will be underneath.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Under pressure....

Today's effort... an 8x10" oil on masonite painting of boats, taken at Rockport, MA at the same time and place as I took the picture I worked from on the "Rockport Skiffs" tapestry (which is the one that was stolen.) I don't like this image as much as the other one, but didn't want to do the same one again.

I am starting to feel the 'pressure' of being a full-time artist. For the most part, I have always chosen when and if to take on deadlines. And of course, that is also true this time, but, having signed a year's contract to keep a gallery space filled, I feel the need to keep working. One reason is that, being a relatively new painter, I do not have a stockpile of paintings to draw from. Most of what I have done that is 'good enough' will be hung on June 1st. But the contarct says that, if a piece sells, I am to fill it's spot with another one immediately. Since oils take awhile to dry (several weeks, minimum) I need to be creating a bit of a reserve, 'just in case'... I suspect that if any sell over the summer, with the huge number of tourists that will be coming and going through there, it will be the small ones. So I am working to get a bit ahead on those. But I definately do not have a reserve of larger pieces, so I need to work a bit on those, too. They take longer to paint, and they also seem to take longer to dry, for some reason (I must pile more paint on them.)

Anyway, it is interesting to be in this position. The only time I have felt this kind of pressure to produce in tapestry was when working on a commission. But even that is different, because the design is already chosen before the work begins, and I am only creating one 'thing.' This pressure to create something new and different pretty much every day is wild! It is making me use creative muscles that are somewhat sore from disuse!

And we still have company, and are going to one JUCO game daily, too. Life... and baseball... must go on.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Moving ahead...

I have turned my back on yesterday's horror, and have moved on to today's little painting. It is of some flowers (Gerberas, I believe?) that my lovely niece, Megan, gave my mother and me on Mother's Day when I was in California. She gave us each a handful, and we put them in a little green vase when we got back to Mom's house. I set them outside on the porch rail the next morning and shot a few photos of them, as their bright red was irresistible.

The painting, which I am calling "Meggie's Flowers," is 5x7" and is an oil on gessoed masonite. I gessoed the board myself this time, and left a lot of texture in it. There is also a lot of texture from the palette knife that I used while painting a good deal of the piece. (Click on it to see an overload of texture!) I like the texture. I like the color. I think I'm happier with my work today. Sigh... what a relief! Even though you expect to create some disasters, when you do such a spectacular one as I did yesterday, it is almost frightening to go back into the studio! Can't have that!! Must move on.....

Saturday, May 23, 2009


I don't think I have ever struggled so hard on a painting as I have on this one, and it shows. I normally would have given up on it, but I really wanted this one to work - maybe because I spent so much money (and time) on this piece of canvas! (I am a bit 'cheap.') I am quitting on it for now... will let it dry and then reassess it. But I'm not happy with it, and I'm not sure why. Oh, well. You're supposed to create an awful lot of failures for each 'success,' so I guess this one leads me closer to my next good one! (And it does fit into that awful lot...)

I do know that I have been liking the quick little pieces better lately than I have liked the larger ones. It is hard for me to paint quickly and loosely with bigger pieces. But I need to figure it out. I may just have to chalk this one up as a learning experience.

Little Frog...

As I'm working hard to get things gallery-ready, and am even trying to finish up some work (which probably won't be dry in time to hang), I don't have time this week to do a separate Illustration Friday sketch. (I also have company, and we are at the beginning of JUCO week today.) So I'm going to post this piece, which I think I posted for IF before while it was in progress. It is 12x12"and is on a deeper gallery edged canvas, so I won't frame it. I have just painted the edges black with some bits of color here and there (see the photo below.) I'm doing another one that way now, as well. I like not framing them. Saves me money, and I also like the informal look it gives. I think it's appropriate for this piece. The title is "Little Frog in the Fountain."

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Where will this take me?

Today I contracted to provide oil paintings to a local gallery for a year's time. It is a very good gallery, and I am a bit intimidated by it. The other thing that intimidates me a bit, is that I will be, locally at least, changing the definition of who I am. When people ask me what I do, I have always said that I am a tapestry designer and weaver. Now, I am expected to attend and participate in gallery events as a painter. I have known some wonderful tapestry artists who took up painting, as I have done, mainly to enhance the design process, and who have over time drifted completely away from the loom, becoming 'only' painters. The decision was always an economic one. Their paintings sold, and their tapestries did not.

As I have signed a year's contract, I will be painting more, and that means I will probably be weaving less. I don't know what that will mean for my future as a tapestry artist, but it did seem the right time for me to take this step. I do not have galleries clamoring for my tapestries, and there are fewer and fewer exhibits for me to enter them in, and the process is becoming more and more expensive. With my husband's retirement coming around a very close corner, these things need to be considered.

I didn't get a chance to paint much today or yesterday. I'm still working on the bakery piece, and, since I can't see the goodies in the photo I've been working from, I searched these two images out to pull a few yummy things from. The top image is a photo I took in a p√Ętisserie booth at a Farmer's market in Quebec. I took the lower one in a bakery in San Jose last week when I was there with my folks for the Connections opening. I thought I'd share them, so you could drool over them, too! I'm having a hard time not jumping up from the easel and running to the kitchen to bake!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Spike weaves...

I found this yellowed, tattered cartoon when I cleaned my studio yesterday, so decided to share it with you. (Click on it to see it larger.)

I got notification that the three pieces I entered in IWC's Fiber Celebration exhibit were all accepted. So I had to scrounge through my files to find what I had entered. I'd entered three small tapestries: Wooster, All Passion Spent, and September. The exhibit will be in Durango, CO through most of the summer. Let me know if you see them there!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Daily summer painting #3...

Another 5x7" oil on gessoed masonite. Lilacs from my garden in a small lilac vase I splurged on for small bouquets. I used the palette knives for lots of texture again (which you can see better if you click on the photo to enlarge it- but then you'll be viewing it larger than life. Remember, it's only 5"x7".) ... Fun to do!

I spent most of the day cleaning my studio, as it had reached the point where the clutter was sapping my creativity. Enough was enough. Tomorrow I must attack the rest of the house, as it is doing the same to me, and we have company coming on Thursday. I will still try to do some painting each day, though.

An early morning Twilight rant...

OK, I'm going to admit from the beginning of this rant that I obsess. I am listening to Twilight as I work ... and, as I get further into it, I am deciding that it is not only not great literature, but I think it is one I would not want the young girls I care about to read. When I was an adolescent, I read everything I could get my hands on, including my mother's christian romance novels. They were also 'not great literature' but at least the message to girls was a good one: that you shouldn't settle for just any sleezebag that comes along to romance you, but should set high standards for someone you are going to build a lasting relationship with. (And setting high standards has worked well for me, by the way!)

The messages I am getting from Twilight are things like "No matter what the outcome is, I can no longer stay away from him" and "I know he's bad for me, and even dangerous, but I no longer care." Really! - in today's world, where there are men out there wanting to 'bite their pretty necks' and more, is this 'it's-OK-to-become-a-victim-for-true-love' attitude one that I want my grand-daughter's to get from what they read? What surprises the heck out of me are the number of adults who have read these books with their 11-year old daughters, and have seen the movie several times, and have told me they love it! Hey, you people, find smarter role models for your daughters! Hermione Granger may be a know-it-all, but she's nobody's willing victim! The world is a hard enough place for young girls, without them thinking they need to be victims. And to also lie to their parents to go be with this dangerous person - think about it... how is this something you want girls to read? Of course, I do admit that I haven't read the whole series - I doubt that I will. Listening to the romance scenes makes me gag. I can't keep from occasionally yelling at the dumb 'heroine' in a Transylvanian movie accent, "He vants to drink your blood, you dummy!"

OK, enough already of this morning's rant. I started the painting above yesterday, and will work a bit more on it today, in between laundry and house and garden work, which has been neglected much too long. I'm working from a very bad photo of a bakery, but I can see enough to paint by, and the lack of distracting details is actually helpful. So, back to the easel, and to yelling at this silly girl in the audiobook to stay away from vampires, or at least to stay away from horrible, poorly written books about them!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Today's experiment...

This morning, I have been drawing up a larger painting, which I need to begin, but I also took the time to do this small 5x7" oil on a piece of gesso board - which I LOVE! (The gesso board, not necessarily the painting.) I love it because I want the paint to have more texture than what I have been able to do on canvas, even when I gesso and prep the canvas. On this board the paint sits as I put it, so there is a lot of texture... very juicy! I have been too cheap to invest in much of the board, as it's expensive when you buy it pre-prepped, as this piece was. So I need to get out the gesso and begin coating my own board. The other drawback is that I will use more paint, putting it on a gessoed board... and it will take longer to dry. But I think it will be worth it! I may not go very large with it, though. Maybe I'll try an 8x10" one next. (Click on the painting to see it larger, if you want to see the texture better.)

I am happy with my painting-a-day for the summer plan so far... clear into day 2 now. HA! But it has taken me the whole morning to do this small painting, prep a canvas and begin drawing up a large painting. Maybe I will get more efficient as I get more experience.

I also must add a brag... my youngest son has just completed his nursing education to become an RN. He will be a wonderful one, as he has a generous and compassionate heart, as well as a photographic memory! Way to go, Andy!! Needless to say, we are proud of his choice to work in a service profession, and of his accomplishment to make it a reality.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Illustration Friday: Contagious

There is nothing more contagious than the giggle of a little girl!

I am using the IF topic as a prompt to do small oil sketches, as I am hoping to be able to paint daily through the summer to challenge myself to improve.

This little sketch is about 6x6", painted wet without any drawing. It is a very loose intrepretation of a photo of my youngest grand-daughter, who will be 3 in several weeks.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Back home... and gone away for good...

I am home again from a week with my parents, which included a quick trip to San Jose to the Connections opening. While I was gone, two of my early tapestries sold at the local Art Auction, to benefit the Western Colorado Center for the Arts. With times so difficult for Art organizations right now, I couldn't say 'no' to their plea this year. It is an auction to benefit the center, but it benefits the artists as well, as 60% of the sale comes back to the artist. The tapestries were beyond exhibition age, and I decided I would rather have them on someone's wall, than rolled up in my storage closet for who-knows-how-many years, so I was willing to risk a bit of a loss on them. They did OK for themselves in the auction, though they did not, of course, sell for full value.

They are "The Hunt" (above), which I wove after a series of work that was so colorful, I just couldn't deal with color for a bit. So this was a 'de-sensitizing' piece for me, I guess. I also was playing with using lazy lines (un-sewn slits) as a design element in this piece.

This piece is "The Yellow Canoe." It is from a camping trip with my brother's family at Kentla Lake in Glacier National Park, in Montana, where he lives. My husband and my brother are in the canoe, so now, in addition to selling my son, my parents, my siblings, myself, and my daughter-in-law, I have sold them too! In my house, pretty much everyone makes it to the marketplace.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Packing and shipping....

I am leaving tomorrow for the opening of the Connections: Small Tapestry International exhibit in San Jose, CA. So today I'm getting my things ready to go, and the house ready for me to be gone a for week, as I'll be visiting my parents as well.

Before I can go, I also have to get the tapestries shipped to the Fiber Celebration exhibit. Shipping is not a small job, as I've mentioned before. One of the pieces that is going is flat and is mounted, and the other is large, but can be rolled up, so they will probably be in separate crates, which is best for insurance anyway.

When I get home, I must begin a flurry of studio work. I will be showing, beginning June 1st, in the Blue Pig Gallery in Palisade, CO. It is the nicest gallery in this area, so I am excited to have been invited to show there. The summer season is very active in Palisade, beginning with a huge Bluegrass Festival, then a Peach festival (Palisade is where the wonderful Colorado fruit orchards are), a Wine festival (ditto for Colorado vineyards, which are becoming legend), and with concerts along the Colorado River and Farmer's Markets several times a week just across from the gallery all summer long. So I'm hoping the summer will find me in the business of keeping my space stocked, in spite of the poor economy. But today, I must pack and ship....

I do hope to see that some of you find your way to San Jose.... la, la, la, la la la la la la la! (And if you know what that refers to, you're probably as old as I am!)

Friday, May 1, 2009

Illustration Friday: Hierarchy

In my experience, there is nothing and nobody that has a higher rank in the world's hierarcy than a naked baby.... Especially in terms of being able to have your demands immediately met by all the underlings in attendance (and isn't that everybody who is there?)!

This is a watercolor sketch (from back in the days when I did watercolors) of my first grandchild after her bath.