Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Artful Garden

Spring weather and the recouping from Studio Tour have found me wanting to be outside rather than in the studio. Sooooo.......

I've been wanting an herb garden right outside my kitchen door, but the layout of our house and parking don't give me a nice sunny spot. There is, however, a spot on the porch outside the kitchen door that gets nice sun.

Two old galvanized tubs with holes drilled in their bottoms + one small galvanized planter + potting soil + plants = a handy and movable herb garden. When the weather turns cold months from now, I can take each pot separately into my greenhouse for herbs over the winter. How cool is that?

For those who follow my art here, not to worry. Heat will soon have me outside only for very brief early AM hours, then in the studio for lots of work.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


I wanted to paint this for Studio Tour but all the cleaning and framing and prep for Studio Tour took me away from the act of painting.

Anyway, I must be fascinated with Eagles' Nest these days as I keep taking photos of it. This is drawn from a photo taken after one of our wonderful overnight storms. It's pastel on sanded paper.

I know, I know, I said I was into my mixed media stuff; but this just needed to be a pastel to catch the drifty, dreamy, moody sky.

I finished it this morning after getting some sad family news yesterday evening & it may have taken on a bit more of that quality than I originally intended. There is, however, the dawn, the sunlight breaking through. Seems that's always there if I'm willing to look.

Monday, March 22, 2010

A style of my own

Every time I've moved geographically - and boy, I've done that a lot - it affects my art. This move, 5 years ago, is finally settling in. When we came to Three Rivers we lived in about 800 square feet of dilapidated cabin while we were building our house. With 2 big dogs and 2 cats, well, I couldn't find space to paint that didn't involve pet hair. And, with the process of building, I couldn't find creative energy.

Then, we moved into the house. We had barren soil around us from new construction, and much of my energy went into getting the outside in some sort of shape. That, of course, will be a lifetime process; but it's at an acceptable level now. And, that has allowed my creative energies to finally move into the realm of my art in a more dramatic way.

All this leads up to what I'm doing now:

This triptych represents Eagles' Nest peak, which I can see from the east window of my studio. What I've done is start with three 16 x 20 inch canvases. Each of those has about 8 different papers adhered with matte medium - rice paper, various tissue papers, etc. They are scrunched, one of those technical terms I love, and twisted and mounded, to give texture in places I want. Of course, the papers have a character of their own, and I have only partial control of the texture results. I like that. I want my paintings to tell me what they want to be.

After lots of paper application and drying, I can begin to paint. That's when the textures start to come alive. This one is all acrylic; some also have watercolor and/or pastel. So, it's paint, let dry, paint, let dry, and on and on. Finally comes the application of a varnish so the piece can hang without glass. I've chosen a gloss varnish because I like how it highlights the texture.

As a postscript, I'm so glad Studio Tour is over! It's utterly exhausting for me and takes my energy away from my creativity and puts it on the eternal "will it sell" - which I don't like. I'm happier making my art and letting it be appreciated or not. So there.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Isn't that the noise cartoonists used to use to signify indignation, etc.? Well, here's me going HARUMP!

I really like working with a painting, having it indicate to me where it wants to go - - but, this one has become really opinionated! And, I'm not too happy about it all!

Anyway, I've added quite a bit more paint, still acrylic, but thinned out some now. The parts that insisted on being fallen trees look suspiciously like shadows of standing trees. So, I'll be needing to work on that. And, I simply can't catch in a photograph how the different papers and paints play together. The piece does look much better in person than when photo'd, something to do with how some of the papers reflect. More work to do.

When I'm taking a break from that particular frustration, I turn to what I'm calling "the little guys" - a series of 4 x 6 pastels in museum type matting but w/o frames. For reasons unknown to me they all want to be organic. These two, an extreme close up of leaf veining, and a sprig of manzanita are joined by one depicting lichen on a chunk of granite. Lots of greens running around in my brain. Hmmmm. . . could that mean lots of money on its way? Could be!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Changes in Edges

One of the things I like about mixed media, especially working with mixed papers, is that it reminds me to allow the painting to have a say in where it wants to go. In watercolor, surprisingly, I can be too controlled.

Anyway, I went in to this painting and added quite a bit of heavy bodied acrylic on top of the various papers. Then I stepped back and looked at it. . . .

Well, I lost too much of the effect I wanted from the paper. And those scrunchy areas that I had in mind to be brush seemed to want to be roots. And, when you get to know the Sequoias you learn that some must die in order that others may live (hmmm, kinda like humanity) and that fallen trees always exist in an undisturbed areas of Sequoias.

So, I went back with more paper on top of the paint. I added some golden browns for the fallen trees and part of the tree trunks. The center tree reminded me that older Sequoias nearly always have long, long trunks with the branches toward the top. The really ancient ones have only a top knot.

We'll see where this takes me tomorrow!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Another Edge happenin'

OK, I started yesterday with a bunch of tissue paper and rice paper adhered to a canvas. I'll be going for Edge of the Trees (thinking of the big Sequoias near us). So, blue papers, green papers, tree shapes, a bit of cloud. And then some drying time. . . .

I'm not ready for paint yet. So, I went in and added more paper, crumbled shapes for brush, spikey shapes for grasses, highlights and lowlights on trees, etc. A bit of darkening areas of sky. All still with paper.

Once this dries, I'll be ready for paint. I don't think I want any watercolor in this one. I'm going for a heavier look so I'll probably use undiluted acrylics. Of course, I change my mind all the time, so who knows. . . . Check back later.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Finished Edge of the Lake

OK, I just couldn't help myself. I did go in with just a few touches of pastel - can you find them?
I love how the purity of pastel adds a touch of brightness here and there.

So, it's time to move on. Maybe Edge of the Forest will be next. . . .

Saturday, February 13, 2010

And Then. . . .

Today found me adding acrylic on top of the watercolor on top of the mixed papers. I'm liking the way it's shaping up. Now, I need to let it sit, let both the image and my mind gel, before I decide about adding pastels too.
See ya later.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Continuing. . . .

Today I've been adding in watercolors and a tiny bit of gesso. It's always interesting how the different papers take the watercolor - some absorb a lot, some don't; with some the base color really shows through, in others not so much.
Tomorrow will probably be acrylics. With their heavier body and more dense color, I'll be able to refine areas I'm not happy with - especially the three canoes pulled up on their sides. They look way too flat. Once the acrylic goes on and has time to dry and allow me to see what the colors really plan to do I'll know if I want to add some pastels. I like the look of pastel as a finishing touch 'cuz their colors are so pure. We'll see. Still a work in progress.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Work in Progress

I'm working on a new mixed media piece done with the type of process that I used for Splish. So far I've put down layers upon layers of tissue papers to create shapes and textures. Tomorrow I'll go in with paint to refine shapes, etc.

This will be Edge of the Lake. Yet to come:
Edge of the Forest
Edge of the Storm
Fountain's Edge
Petal's Edge
Edge of the Road
And. . . various other edges.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Edge of Dawn

Living where I do, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, I wake up to beautiful sunrises. My studio window looks up toward peaks and a bit of a bowl shape. When the sun comes up behind the peaks some areas glow while others remain in deep shadow; big old oaks, naked of their leaves for winter, take on a ghostly look with branches appearing silver; distances are confused; and the sky has a brief moment of appearing to have been painted. Then, blink, it's gone, and the light eases toward daylight.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Edge of Sunset

You might ask, "why edges?" Aaaahhh. The answer lies in the complexity. In the middle of the river, at its greatest depth, well, it's water, flowing, moving, powerful, yes, but still water. Where the river touches the shore they join in a dance. Where exactly does the river end and the shore begin? In the heart of the forest, at least a deep forest, it's trees, but at its edge lives smaller brush, more wildflowers. And the animals, oh they love the edges. They can dart out to eat and rush back in for shelter. Or sit at the tip of a tree, the raptors that is, and watch who dares dart out thinking they will eat only to become their lunch. Yes, edges are more complex.

And, there is more challenge, danger even, at the edges. Birth. Death. Standing at the edge of an airplane door with parachute strapped on. Living at the edge of a failing marriage - to stay, to leave, what about the kids, the debt. Yes, the edges hold the challenge. And in the risk, the danger, the complexity, I find my growth. Like the outer ring of a tree. That is where the life force is.

I know of course that there is a time and place for middles. Days I need peace, stability, comfort. But not all my days. For some, I choose edges.

So, the latest in the Edgy series is Edge of Sunset. You know the ones. Those rare times that day doesn't just melt into night but goes down in flames. A brief time, especially at the shore or in the desert, when it's hard to tell where sky, land, water end, where the edges really are. And, is it real? Did I really see this, that brief glimpse of red and pink and purple melting into a haze of colors; or did I only dream it. Perhaps it came at the edge of sleep and wakefulness. Still, it is an Edge.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Ocean's Edge

OK, folks, I couldn't get this photo really right. In person, the blending of colors from sea to foam to mist to clouds to cliffs, well all of it, is much more subtle.

Anyway, this is the second in the series about edginess and edges. No, they won't all be water scenes. There are things like Edge of Darkness in the works. But, please feel free to offer any ideas for edges you'd like to see.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Feelin' Edgy

It's almost time for the bi-annual Studio Tour, and as always, I'm very late in getting prepared. So, my theme for the year will be "Feelin' Edgy". I'm doing a series of small pastels that I can afford to offer at a reasonable price. This first is River's Edge. I've got several more edges in mind or in process, but feel free to leave a comment with your suggestion of edges I might try. I'm also working on a larger mixed media piece, also with an edge theme, that will be my major offering for the Tour.

If you aren't familiar with this event, check out It's a not to be missed happening!

Monday, January 25, 2010

I'm baaaaack

OK, if been missing in action on the blogging world, but I'm back.

Just started a new painting & I'll put a pic up tomorrow.