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Showing posts from 2015

Skies of Inspiration

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It's hard not to be inspired by the skies here in Southern California-- particularly at this time of year, with storms moving in and out throughout the days.

At the risk of sounding like a mommy-blogger, I've fallen behind in my artwork and posting since summer ended for a couple of reasons (they rhyme with "mildren").  I've also fallen into a bit of a painting slump, but the sunsets and sunrises here in Fallbrook have drawn me back into making more time for artwork.

We're having a particularly vibrant winter, as the frequent rain invigorates the contrasting colors in the landscape here.  We've also had some noisy horned owls, who like to announce their imminent departure each morning just before the sun begins to rise.  This means I'm usually up early to get a peek at the silhouette of our vocal visitors before they fly off to hide and sleep-- and if I can keep my eyes open, I get to see the occasional glorious sunrise.  I'd love to paint the owl…

Flower Mania: An Inherited Obsession

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I paint flowers, I'm trying to grow flowers, I take pictures of flowers... I guess it's a healthier habit than collecting kittens that turn into full-grown, demanding cats ( which was my previous habit).


Flowers were a favorite subject for my late grandmother, who was my first art teacher.  All the women on my mother's side had prolific green thumbs.  My dad loves to grow flowers too.  I didn't inherit the green thumb, but I've been working diligently on growing my own flowers.  It started as a fun project with my daughter, and now it's become an obsessive hobby.  Maybe in twenty years I'll actually have a decent garden.
Like painting, I'm learning that gardening is intuitive.  I spend a lot of time observing and experimenting, figuring out what works and what doesn't for the soil we have (and all the little monsters that try to eat my plants).  There are plenty of failures-- it was pretty disheartening to see entire bunches of flowers disappear over…

Painting Cats

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After many years of painting cats, I've learned a few things.  Every time I start a new cat painting, it follows its own unique path, bringing challenges that I don't seem to face when I paint my more traditional material (landscapes, birds, floral and botanical pieces, etc.)
For example, cats don't stay put for too long (unless they're asleep, and even then they'll often stretch and change positions when you're least expecting it).  To combat this challenge, I end up working mostly from photographs.  That means adjusting the proportions, since the camera angle causes some distortion depending on the position and location of the cat.
 One of the reasons cats are enjoyable to paint is that they have strong facial expressions.  When I'm painting a cat, I get so focused on rendering the cat's facial features and expression, I forget to make sure I'm paying attention to the overall shape of the cat.  It helps to focus on the shape and values of the hea…

Artists and the Internet: A Double-Edged Sword

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Where would artists be without the internet?  It's allowed us to express ourselves, connect with each other, present ourselves to the general public, and done away with a lot of the "gate keeping" that used to separate the majority of artists from the art buying public.  
I've received many benefits as an artist thanks to the internet.  It drew me into the practice of daily painting, and helped me feel connected as I shared my artworks with other artists-- particularly during times of isolation, when I couldn't get to art classes or events.  If I need a little pick-me-up, a scroll through Pinterest gives me plenty of inspiring art to view.  I've learned so much about contemporary artists by interacting with them and seeing their latest works!  When I consider my favorite artists, names that spring to my mind include many artists who are living, thriving, and posting their works on thoughts for the world to see.  I still love my favorite old masters, but I fin…

The Problem with Restraint

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The problem with restraint, in my view, is that it begets more restraint.



There are times when restraint is important, even for artists.  I remember the first pastel class where I had successfully been careful with my color choices and pastel strokes, and was amazed out the outcome when the painting was finished.  I learned that restraint paid off if used in a strategic manner.

Some of my favorite paintings are by the Fauves, because I love color.  One of the reasons I'm so fond of pastels is because their colors are hard to resist.  Once I had been painting for a few years though, I wanted to develop what I saw as a more mature style.  This meant I had to start exercising some restraint, and make choices that took my paintings in a clear direction, rather than abandoning them to the use of wild colors.

Years later, I'm struggling with the opposite problem.  Lately I've caught myself shying away from the bright colors, worried that they'll take over my paintings.  The…

Battling Nature

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Having taken up gardening as a bit of a hobby, I've become quite conscious of those elements of nature that cause trouble: weather, animals, and bugs.

With moths, I'm still not sure which ones are harmless and which ones are going to cause me headaches.  The moth in the painting above arrived on a sunny afternoon, and sat perched against the outside of the house, periodically flexing its wings.  I took plenty of close-up pictures, fascinated by the textures and markings on the wings and body.

I knew I wanted to paint this creature in a work using sand, so I felt confident enough to use a palette knife to slap down some paint with decorative sand mixed into it.  Of course, that confidence disappeared over the next few weeks, as I realized I had forgotten how difficult it can be to use sand as a texture in a painting.  I grew to dislike "the moth."  My son also seemed to dislike it.  Every time I turned my attention to the painting, he came in with some sort of crisis,…