Wednesday, January 23, 2013

White Pitcher, Grapes and St. Michael the Archangel

Had to take some time away from daily painting to work on another study for my commission, St. Michael the archangel killing the dragon. But I managed to fit this little one in today--it's a 5 x 7, in acrylics.
       Now back to St. Michael:  below is the study I did--it's pretty rough.  I did quite a bit of research but most of the paintings depicting St. Michael made him look very feminine and unrealistic in the sense that he looked more like he was posing rather than about to unload on a 7-headed beast.  So I ended up using a baseball stance combined with sort of a samurai warrior pose to get what I've depicted here.  I've still got a lot of fine-tuning to do, and I've asked the client to determine hair color.  I may end up changing the outfit too--depends on what the client wants.

 But I feel I've made progress.  I will have to work on both paintings simultaneously so there's a smooth transition from one panel to the other.

So now it's back to the 30/30 challenge until I get the go ahead from my client.  I'm now 12 paintings behind. Oh well....I'm still having fun.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Rollin' on the River

So this is the end of week two of my "retirement" and it's taking a little getting used to. I keep thinking I have to rush through things because I have to go to work the next day, but then I realize I don't, and so I stay up until 2 or 3 in the morning, and then I sleep late.  It's not the best cycle to be on and I imagine I'll settle into a routine that works.  But here I am at 2 a.m., wide awake and posting artwork online. 

The painting on the left is from a photograph I took back in 1991.  We'd just moved to Kentucky and were lucky to attend the riverboat race--one of many pre-Derby events.  This is the "River Queen" and we were on the Belle of Louisville.  I don't think the "River Queen" was in the race--but she looked pretty! This painting is #11 in the 30/30 challenge, 5 x 7 acrylics on clayboard. I've fallen behind on the challenge, but still chugging away!

This next painting,  "Milo," is an 8 x 10 acrylics. I started it the other day in the gallery, but didn't quite finish it.  Then I was lazy for the next two days and only got back to it this afternoon.  But hey, I completed two paintings in one day, so that's kind of a record for me.

I'll still be working on the daily challenge, but now I have to devote my time to a large commission: St. Michael the archangel fighting the 7-headed dragon.  I posted a study of the dragon a few days ago. I'm working up a study of Michael next, and if the client approves it, I'll be focusing on those two pieces over the next couple of weeks. They're large canvases, giving me a little break from the small artworks. Time to loosen up and paint LARGE!

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Walking Stick -- Daily Painting #9

Yesterday  was day #9 (for me, anyway) in the Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days challenge.  The "rules" don't say, specifically, that you have to paint 30 paintings in JANUARY, just 30 paintings in 30 days. So...I've fallen behind the group's schedule, but I'm not alone in that, and I think the idea is to paint daily--or frequently, if you can.  So that's pretty much what I'm doing.  Yesterday's painting was a real challenge for me.  I've had a wooden panel laying around in the studio for several months and I decided to paint on that. Eeks! I've never painted on wood before, but I figured, in keeping with my word-of-the-year "explore" I would give it a go.  I gessoed the wood first, then when it was dry began painting. I quickly realized that even with 2 coats of gesso, the wood was soaking up the acrylics. They were drying too fast.  The acrylic medium helped--but I still found it difficult to blend and smooth edges--so this painting has a more painterly, maybe even plein-air look to it--which isn't necessarily a bad thing.  I think the colors ended up more dull than I'd hoped.  Since I don't know much about painting on wood, maybe that is typical.

Overall, it was --well, not so much fun as informative and I doubt I'll paint on wood panels again. But hey, if I hadn't, then I wouldn't know, right?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Somebody Stole My Crown!

First, I woke up this morning convinced that it was Sunday, not Saturday. Once I realized my mistake, I felt relieved, because I wasn't 2 days behind on the daily painting challenge--only one. So after breakfast, I schlepped down to the studio to paint. But I got sidetracked when I realized that my crown--one I got a long time ago from Burger King or some such place--was missing. Now I haven't even thought about that thing for quite awhile, but I am, after all, Queen of my studio--and today I wanted my crown. Hmmph...

Anyway....I gave up searching for my crown and concentrated on painting. I managed to complete two small ones, both 5 x 7, and both in acrylics on clayboard.  The one on the left is of Buddy Sue--a cute little spaniel mix that crossed to the Rainbow Bridge several years ago. She was a goofy little thing but as sweet as could be.

Next, because my word for this year is "explore," I decided to play around with my palette knives.  I still don't quite have the hang of it, but here's the end result: "Maui on My Mind."  I did end up fine-tuning it with a couple of brushes and my fingers. But the goal was to explore, and I think that's exactly what I did.
One thing I struggled with today was a very curious little kitty.  This is Gracie.  She is my studio cat, although she used to be a prison cat until I sprung her from her life of crime. She has decided that she needs a front row seat to everything I do in the studio--and today she was particularly persistent. She jumped right in the middle of my palette--leaving a trail of paw prints across the table and floor. She hopped into my paint box, scattering brushes everywhere.  And then she climbed all over me and my keyboard--making it a real challenge to get anything done.  But I love her--and given her rough beginnings, you know, being born in a prison--hey, wait a minute.... maybe she stole my crown!! 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Pulling an All Nighter -- Am I Crazy?

Came up from the studio at 5:00 a.m. this morning--boy, was that a surprise as I was so absorbed in painting I had no clue what time it was! Hubby and all the fur critters were fast asleep, and when I looked at the clock (I don't have a working clock in the studio, except for the computer) I remembered how I used to pull all nighters in the good ol' days--back when I was young enough that it didn't matter what time I went to bed. It felt good, but I suppose I'll pay for it later. But, I finished this little piece--from a photo taken awhile back, when we were doing the horse show circuit.  This was at the Lawrenceburg horse show. We used to plan our summers based on the saddlebred horse show schedule--if it's May, we're in Asheville; June at Rock Creek, July in Lexington, etc.  It was fun and I miss those days!

So this is painting #6 of the 30/30 challenge. I may have to take a break today, as it's already noon and I am just now waking up!
As always, if you'd like me to capture one of your fond memories or a loved one on canvas, give me a holla' and let's talk! Have a good one!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Many moons ago I went back home to Fulton, New York and went to a Renaissance Faire that was held in Sterling, I think.  Anyway,  I took a bunch of photographs thinking that one day I might actually paint from one of them.  Well, today I did.  The photograph was actually not very good--too dark, a little out of focus. But looking at it, I remembered why I'd taken the photo in the first place--I loved the woman's face!  She really "looked" the part of a musician (actually,I was thinking more of a milk-maid type, but what do I know?).  So, since I'm still hanging in on the 30/30 challenge (although I'm technically 4 paintings behind), I decided to paint this lady. 
     My word for the new year is "explore," and that's what I did with this painting.  I have a really difficult time with flesh tones. Maybe that's because I've started thinking more about them than I used to. I'm one of those painters who doesn't really plan out a painting: I just jump right in. And that can lead to problems--as in getting the right color flesh tones, or running out of room because I didn't think about spacing....Well,  I've got a ton of books on color and portrait painting, and they all have basic formulas for flesh tones, but somewhere in the middle of making puddles of flesh colors, I forget what I'm doing (because I'm so caught up in the actually PAINTING), that I end up just slapping on color.  But this time, even though I was deviating from the formulas, I figured why not "explore" and see what happens.  And that's what you see above--an exploration of color in flesh tones.  I used yellow ochre, burnt umber, raw sienna,  alizarin crimson, veridian, cad red light, cad red medium--even threw in some ultramarine blue and thalo green....oh, and a little bit of violet too.  Probably not the best way to do a portrait, but I'm pretty pleased with the result.  Might even do a larger version of this one day.  Check back tomorrow for painting #6!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Ahhh...Retirement: Day 4 of the 30/30 Challenge

I thought "Ahhh...Retirement" would be a good title for this little painting.  Still hanging in on the 30/30 challenge:  this is #4 for me.  I'm not quite sure about the sun spots on the left of the canvas...seemed like a good idea at first, but now I don't know. What do you think?  Comment below, or email. I'd appreciate it!

Day #3 -- Pig Smack

This is my first official day of retirement--so I was able to spend the entire day in the studio, painting.  First I did my daily painting--that makes #3 in the 30/30 challenge.  This is an 8 x 10, acrylics, painted on the edges.  
Next, I did a study piece for a commission that involves 2 large paintings depicting the archangel Michael slaying the 7 headed dragon.  It's been awhile since I painted any type of dragon, and I've never tried to paint anything from the Bible--so it's quite a challenge. The client wants the dragon on one canvas and Michael on the other, which will be another challenge for me because I need the two pieces to work together. This study is very rough--no details on the dragon other than base color and shape, placement of eyes, etc.  The background I borrowed from Raphael's painting although I'll be adding my own little spin to it in the final piece.  If you're familiar with the story of Michael and the dragon, the dragon has 7 heads, 10 horns and 3 crowns--and is red.  Each head represents one of the seven deadly sins.  I decided not to make each head different--but the client may decide later  that's what she wants.

So, that's it for me! Check back tomorrow for the next daily piece and maybe an update on the commission. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

30 in 30 - Day #2 (for me, that is)

This is Day #2 for me in the 30/30 challenge.  This is a small painting, 4 x 5, in acrylics.  I've got another painting on the easel right now--I am hoping to catch up with the rest of the group, who are on Day #6.  But even if I don't catch up, I'll still try to complete 30 paintings in 30 days.  It's a great way to loosen up and zero in on the important details.  This one is available on my website,

Saturday, January 5, 2013

30 Paintings in 30 Days--Oh My!

Well, that's the plan anyway. I signed up to participate in a new year's project started by Leslie Saeta.  The goal is to paint one painting a day for thirty days.  I've tried similar projects before and didn't get very far, but now that I'm no longer employed (my choice), I'm going to get back into the studio full time, and this seems like a good way to get started. 

Besides the daily painting, I have started work on a big commission:  2 large panels depicting Michael the archangel slaying the 7-headed dragon from the Book of Revelation.  This is quite a challenge for me--I'm excited about it, but also a little intimidated--it's been quite awhile since I painted LARGE and even longer since I created any dragons!  I'm working on a study of the dragon right now--will post photos when I get a little further along on it.

The other project is for a book, "Pawsome Patriots."  I will be painting images of service men/women and their pets.  I'll post more details later, so check back, especially if you or someone you know would like to be included in the book.

Here's another small painting I completed this week:  it's called "Lucretia's Snake." This little girl's family ran a small zoo near Puerto Vallarta, and I couldn't resist photographing her.  I've had the photograph in my desk for years, knowing I would paint it one day--and I finally did it!  So...that's all for now folks!