Tuesday, June 09, 2020

Fishing Floats

I'm really reaching for it here, LOL. This is a small 6x8 inch painting on a gessoed piece of wood. My granddaughter was over the other day and wanted to paint a "fairy house" (small decorative birdhouse). She loves to paint these little birdhouses so I buy some periodically from Michael's. 

They are painted with acrylics, student grade - not my expensive acrylics! But I still tell her to try not to waste the paint. However she tends to put big blobs on the palette. So I sat with her and picked up my board, and began streaking paints across it to use up her extra colors. 

"Oh, are you painting the ocean?" she asked me? Well the colors were mostly ocean-like and I was sort of streaking in a wavy pattern, so I decided it WAS the ocean, We also have a lot "jewels" - which come from Michael's also and can be glued onto craft projects. My granddaughter loves to attach jewels to her fairy houses and she felt my painting needed jewels too,

So I used the smooth ones rather than faceted ones, and decided they looked like old blown-glass fishing floats that used to be used, primarily in Japan, in the early 20th century. My mom used to have a collection of these that I remember from my childhood. 

So for fun I created "Fishing Floats". Hey, at least I did something! 

And here is my granddaughter's Fairy House. I didn't use the pink in my ocean but did use all her other color choices. 

Sunday, June 07, 2020

Strange Days - Part II

Strange days continued on into May. I did slow down some in May, not even sketching as much, as even quicker wonky sketches, but something at least. 

 Three minutes sketching mug and French press while the decaf brewed.

Our challenge was to draw a hat. Another three minutes while the decaf brewed.

Challenge was to draw your favorite mug. I like this mug because it shows my passion for birding!

My avocado plant again. It's grown quite a bit since the last time I sketched it.

A rainy day, sitting out on my back porch watching the few hardy birds at the feeders and water splashing into the pond. Just a sketch looking out at my back yard.

Saturday, June 06, 2020

Life is Strange

Life became very strange after my previous post and suddenly I've been mostly home and self-isolating since the advent of the Covid19 Coronavirus. Being home seems like it would give me lots of time to paint but that hasn't actually been the case. I've been stressed and freaked out. However I do belong to a couple Facebook groups encouraging sketching as good practice. I should really do it every day and started out with good intentions but that hasn't worked out either. But I HAVE done some sketching. All very quick. 3-8 minutes max. It seems about all I can manage, but it's something, so here are sketches I did during the month of April.

Our challenge for this day was to draw shoes, so I did one attached to my own foot.

I'm an avid birder. These are the binoculars I use to watch the birds in my yard.

I'm also an avid reader. This is a stack of bird references however.

A little avocado plant I started from a pit way back at Christmastime, but it seems to be growing.

Our challenge here was to draw some of our art supplies. I drew some but I'm not exactly using them much!

My "big" camera. I use my iPhone more than anything, but this is the one with the 60X optical zoom that I use to get bird photos.

A little watering can  for the plants I try to grow though I have such a black thumb it's usually useless.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Pastel Juried Show

In addition to the big Thrasher-Horne show we have our big First Coast Pastel Society annual juried show, held at the Cultural Center at Ponte Vedra Beach, and entries have to be in before March 2. Like Thrasher-Horne we can enter up to three pieces. This year we'll be in the more "prestigious" front gallery rather than the usual back gallery! I've been struggling to paint since my house fire and my son's death in 2018, but I really wanted to have entries for this show.

In addition to my art activities I'm also on the board of the St. Johns Audubon and back in the fall the President asked me if I could possibly do a painting of our chapter logo, a pileated woodpecker. I was a little confused and said, well our logo is very graphic, but if I did a painting it would be more like a painting and not graphic. I wasn't sure what she wanted. But she insisted she would love a painting, so in the end I did this painting - 9x12 pastel on Canson paper. She really loved it but no clue what they play to do with the jpg image I sent her so in the meantime I still have the original and can enter that in the show.

In the meantime I'm also a member now of the First Coast Plein Air Painters and while I'm generally never very happy with my plein air work I do enjoy getting out in the fresh air if the weather is nice, and a couple months ago we had a paint-out at Walter Jones Historical Park across the river in Mandarin and I did this little pastel which I was fairly pleased with. It's only a tiny 5x7 but a good size for plein air, done on Ampersand Pastelbord which is my fave plein air surface. Too bad it's so darned expensive.

And I still loved the photo of my dog and my sister's dog, and the acrylic failed to make it into the Thrasher-Horne show, so I decided a pastel version of it might have another chance with our pastel show, so this is my third entry for the pastel juried show. It's 11x14 which is actually pretty large for me when it comes to pastels.

Now a lot of waiting around until April sometime to see what entries the judge has juried in or out. Our Juror/Judge this year is Aline Ordman. Her work is awesome!

Monday, February 24, 2020


Our big annual juried show at the Thrasher-Horne Gallery in Orange Park is coming up, with the opening reception on March. 12. Each member was allowed to enter up to three pieces in the show, with a minimum image size of 11x14. I tend to work fairly small, especially with pastel, so I decided to use acrylics for this show. I entered three and two got accepted so that was pretty good.

The theme is "relationships" and I felt this painting of two bald eagles clearly fit the theme.

Also accepted was this painting of hayrolls in a field where the "realationship" was perhaps a bit more subtle but I still thought it fit.

This was my reject, my dog Flo along with my sister's beagle, Bosco. Maybe not my best work but I still get a kick out of it and my sister does too. :-)

Friday, January 24, 2020

Happy New Year

It's been a long time since I've been here, hasn't it? I just haven't managed for one reason or other. I had two tragedies happen that knocked a lot of the stuffing out of me and I didn't really do much painting for a couple years. I'm not sure I'm totally back yet but I'm trying to get there and figure January is a good time to start.

I'm still active in various art groups and have been getting out and doing a little plein air. I'll kick off here with stuff that's new for the year, and then maybe backtrack a bit to add in a few things I did work on in the past couple years.

The painting above is done in soft pastels while I was out with the First Coast Pastel Society painting along the beautiful salt marshes in St. Augustine. It's only a little 5x7 done on Ampersand Pastelboard which is a lovely surface to work on. Wish it weren't so expensive!

This one is from the following week at Walter Jones Historic Park in Jacksonville, with the First Coast Plein Air Painters. Also pastel, and also 5x7 Pastelboard,

I've been playing a lot with acrylics also, and enjoying using oil pastel for plein air, so you may be seeing more of this here too.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

The Bait Shop

Whenever I go to St. Augustine I try to stop at the Vilano Boat Ramp to look for birds. I've always loved this little building at the ramp and its wonderful colors. I've thought of painting it but buildings scare me, LOL. However I was there a couple weeks ago for an Audubon meeting and stopped at the boat ramp. It was a dark and stormy day with clouds gathering, and the bait shack looked lonely. I took a few photos and decided I had to paint it this time. It felt like it would be cramped in my usual 8x10, so this is much more a panorama at 10x20. Done in acrylic.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Scott's House

My nephew Scott and his girlfriend Tara just became proud homeowners last week. In fact the closing occurred on Scott's 30th birthday. What a birthday present. 😀 I decided to paint their house as a gift, but the real estate listing showed the house in winter snow. So then I checked it out on google earth, and used the springy image there as my reference photo. This is acrylic, my fairly standard 8x10.!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

St. Augustine water oils

Today was experiment day. I've been loving my acrylics, but have heard a lot about the newer water-based oil paints as well. I was curious about them, and when I was at Michael's yesterday they had a small introductory set for 40% the regular $24.99, so I decided to splurge! Only six paint tubes and not necessarily the colors I would have chosen. If you are going to provide only six paints do you really need both a yellow and a yellow ocher!

I would have chosen a slightly warmer blue and green as well, and maybe a Payne's gray rather than the yellow ocher. Of course I could have bought the colors individually to get exactly what I wanted, but that would have cost about $40 rather than $14. :-)

And this is just an experiment. I tried them today and created the above, 8x10 on canvas. Definitely just a quickie and tomorrow I may make changes, but an interesting experiment.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Leftover Beach

Last night I spent the evening painting a violin top for an Art Guild project. I finally got as far as I could go but still had some wet paints on my palette. I also had a small 8x10 canvas with me, so I got it out to just paint on it to use up some paint.

So the painting above is what I wound up with. Just a quick 20-minute effort using what I had on my palette. Not anything special, but I love beachy scenes.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Great Horned Owls

Thanks again to my friend Leslie for inviting me to her studio, forcing me to try to paint! This is the image from last night, another 8x10 acrylic. I started these owls two weeks ago on an 11x14, and they were so awful I just painted over them and did the painting just before this one instead.

The reference is from a photo I look at Fort Mose in 2015. I had heard through the birding grapevine that a pair of great horned owls had been spotted there. When I got to the park I could hear them hooting, but while I looked high and low I could not see them anywhere. What I did see was a man with binoculars and a camera with a giant foot-long lens hunting around also.

He was looking for the owls too! Since everyone spots birds better than I do I asked if I could tag along. Sure enough, he was the one who finally spotted the owls. :)

My lucky day I guess as he said he'd been coming every day for over a month looking for the owls, and this was the first day he'd seen them. I've been wanting to paint them ever since but only now got around to it.

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Beach Morning

Wednesday I went to my friend Leslie's studio again, which is always fun, and makes me get out and do some sort of artwork even if I'm not feeling overly inspired. I started on a different painting which I hated more and more as I went on, so I finally took the colors on my palette and just wiped them back and forth all over the canvas. As I did it seemed a scene began to appear so I just pushed to emphasize it a little further. And that's how I wound up with this painting - not great art but something that felt very theraputic to work on. Acrylic, and slightly larger than I have been working lately, at 11x14.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Pelican Repast

I love the photo I took of this pelican, and even painted it once before as small oil pastel, as you can see here:

But more and more lately I'm spending time with my acrylics, so gave him another go. This is acrylic, as I said, done on an 8x10 canvas - a size I seem to gravitate to. Not too big and not too small. For me it's "just right" - though 9x12 works as a "just right" size also, but I can't seem to find pre-prepared canvases in that size.

Sunday, June 11, 2017


This was the second painting I did at my friend Leslie's house the other evening - another small 8x10 acrylic. I've decided I like this size. Small enough that you can finish something up in a reasonable amount of  time, but big enough to be able to get in a big of detail if you want. The bird looks a tad portly, even after slimming it down quite a bit! Still, came out better than I had hoped.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Cape May Morning

Thanks to my friend Leslie for inviting me to her studio, helping me get out of the rut I've been in. I actually did TWO paintings at her studio, both smallish 8x10 acrylics. This is the first of them, done from a reference photo I took some years back of the beach shortly after sunrise in Cape May, New Jersey.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Dolphin Dance

This is a little acrylic I did tonight, trying to use some of the things I learned a couple weeks ago in the Gloria Clifford workshop. That one was based on sea turtles of course, but I have no pictures of sea turtles! I do have a few of dolphins however, so decided I would paint a dolphin. This is just an 8x10 on stretched canvas.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Sea Turtle close-up

I had such fun at my workshop yesterday. I finished my sea turtle painting with over two hours to go, but had forgotten to bring a second canvas. My friend Kay, though, graciously gave me an extra 8x8 small square canvas that she had and it seemed perfect for a close-up portrait.

Of course I didn't realize how hard it would be when:
1) I was working from a very small reference photo without strong facial details.
2) I've never painted a sea turtle before so have no clear mental image of what they should look like.

So this was actually a bit of the struggle. As the instructor said "He looks a bit like an alien". But it was really more the water I cared about than the turtle anyway, so it was still fun.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Sea Turtle

What a fun day today. I took a one-day workshop on painting sea turtles and water with Gloria Clifford, who specializes in tropical and sea creature art. I've never painted a sea turtle before, but I do love water although I struggle with it, and I'm always happy to learn more about it.

Gloria was wonderful, and very much an intuitive painter, as I tend to be also, rather than one following all the classic "rules" of painting. She made the day a lot of fun, even for those of us struggling with the water and turtles. This was my first painting, done on 11x14 stretched canvas.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

A Walk on the Beach

Another 8x10 acrylic, done from a photo I took during a walk on the beach. I never get tired of the beach and could easily do beach scene paintings all the time! I need to sort through all my (thousands) of photos and see if I find other references I like.

This is actually a mirror image of one I did a few years ago in pastel here.  I like the pastel better in most ways, but it did have a couple things I wanted to change:
1) The horizon line was too harsh and dark. This is easily correctable if I choose to do it.
2) The lines of incoming wavelets are too perfectly straight, as if I'd drawn them with a ruler; not quite the way they are in real life.

I tried to correct both of those things with my acrylic, but I'm still less than happy with how it turned out. Still, as they say, you can't hit a home run every time. It was still fun to do.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Gold Head in the Morning

LOL, I had a reference photo all picked out and sitting on my table - with oranges and golds, that I was going to paint for my next project, as a change from the cool colors I'd been doing. Then, the morning I sat down to paint, the reference photo was gone! I looked everywhere. It had been sitting on top of the table and I had not touched a thing, but there was no photo there. As I scrabbled around I did pull up a reference for the scene about, always one of my favorite scenes, so I painted this instead, another 8x10 acrylic.

The funny thing is that this is the third time I have painted from this exact same reference, all small. I first did it as a small 6x9 pastel here, and then again I tried it as an 8x10 acrylic here. That was one of my very first acrylics when I was just beginning to dabble in them. Well I still feel like a dabbler since I've had no formal training in acrylic, but I'm enjoying them a bit more now.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Chalupa - Foubtain of Youth

This is also from the reference photos I took at the Fountain of Youth last week. I took a bunch of photos of this boat - a "chalupa" or replica of the sort of work boats they built here in the 16th century when the colony at St, Augustine was first founded. 8x10 acrylic/

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Early Morning - Calico Creek

This is a scene down the road from my sister's house in coastal North Carolina.  Whenever I visit her I walk my dog down here in the morning. My dog is an early riser so I usually get to see the pinks and violets of the soft early morning light.

This is another 8x10 acrylic.

I love this spot so much I've even done a couple pastels from this same location, namely here and here. If you stand on the path for those two paintings and turn to face left you will see the scene in the acrylic painting above. 

Friday, February 10, 2017

Peacock - Fountain of Youth

This is another 4x12 acrylic. This is sort of a fun size to work with. I was at the Fountain of Youth last Saturday with the First Coast Pastel Society, and it was a chilly, windy, blustery day. Not really good for plein air, and the lighting was not so great, but I enjoyed all the peacocks strutting around, took a variety of photos, and enjoyed the 16th century reenactment going on for the weekend.

So now I'm looking at the photos for references and could not resist starting with a peacock. :-)

Saturday, February 04, 2017

The Wave

Another small 8x10 acrylic. I admit that pastel will always be my first love, but I've been having fun with these small acrylics, and they are great to take to the Starving Artist Gallery since they don't need framing under glass. In fact don't need framing at all since I paint the sides of the canvas too and just present them as gallery-wrapped and helps keep my costs down, LOL.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Small dunes

Well I had time for another small 8x10 acrylic this morning. Pastels are my first love, but I've been having a lot of fun with acrylics lately. They go much faster than pastels, especially when you are trying to keep things really loose and impressionistic. When a small painting only takes 20-30 minutes it's not too hard to keep up with a one-a-day schedule. A few days I've even done 2-3!