Wednesday, November 07, 2007

African Queen Two

Hurray, finally Blogger let me upload. This is from last week's class, though more an open studio session since Alex was still out. Only a few students showed up. Because it was Halloween? I don't know, but got to move to an easel at the other side of the room for a different view.

I hope he'll be back tonight. We need to plan for the reception for the student art show opening this Sunday. Maybe that will console me for getting "juried out" of the PSNJ show which opens this Saturday.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

African Queen

This is from art class tonight - the same model's pose as last week, but definitely a different viewpoint on my part. This one was fun tonight and I had a great time painting it. As usual done in class on 12x16 Canson, smooth side, so about 90 minutes worth of work. I always love it when I have fun colors to work with.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Potted Plant

Hurray! I finally made it to art class tonight! It's actually the 4th week of class, but the first week I had to work, the second week I had a stomach virus, the third week I was on vacation. But finally tonight I made it there. My sweet teacher Alex knew, from my grumblings, that I was sick of drawing the figure and wished we could do something else sometimes - so he added a plant to the composition just with me in mind. So what else could I do but try to do the plant, - though it sure did have a lot of leaves!

But he was so busy getting ready for an upcoming student show that it took forever for him to finally get the model in position so we could start, so I only had a tad over an hour to work on this!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Bran the Blessed

I just added a new member to my household this past weekend, a rescue collie I drove down to Virginia to get. I grew up with collies and was always a collie owner for many years. My last collie died in 1991, and I have had two shelties and a mixed breed since then - but decided I needed a new collie in my life to keep me and Willow (my remaining sheltie) company. So we began investigating collie rescue a few months ago.
And I ended up getting a guy from Virginia after the NJ rescue folks referred me there, as they had no suitable dogs available. His name there was 'Ben' which is a nice strong name, but just did not totally appeal to me, so I have renamed him 'Bran'. I've always liked names that have Scottish/Celtic/Arthurian connections - and Bran fits the bill without changing his name too drastically.
Bran means "raven" - a good name for a black dog. Bran was one of the dogs of legedary Irish hero Finn MacCool. Bran the Blessed was also a legendary hero of Welsh/Irish/early British tales, and part of the Arthurian legends too. Bran is also a character in Susan Cooper's wonderful "The Dark is Rising" series.
Though of course all I seem to get from people are quizzical looks, and jokes about bran muffins, bran flakes and oat bran! But I like the name, and I did this portrait of Bran, based on his photo from the Petfinder page, on this past Saturday, the day before I went down to adopt him.

Monday, September 03, 2007

The Old Shed Wall

This is the last of my farm series from this summer, though I do have a few photos I may use to add to the series as I go. I had fun with the shed, and the wonderful lighting, and the history of all the old and odd things hung up on the walls from summers past.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

The Farm - Front Porch in the Afternoon

Here is the fourth in my series of farm paintings from this summer. We had lovely weather just about the entire week, so lots of great light and shadows for trying to paint plein air. I loved the light and shadows on the porch here but, sadly, the mosquitoes were terribly fierce! I'm not sure I managed more than about 30 minutes on this one, and then I had to get inside because the itchies were just too bad.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Sewing Table

My next farm picture was a still life attempt. Lots of things wrong with this one - the way the curtains drape, the ellipse on the teacup, but it was still fun to do, and I enjoyed the light and shadows.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Morning in the Shed

This is my second pastel from my farm vacation. I just loved how the light looked in the back shed at certain times of day, and thought it would be fun to capture. In fact you'll see the shed again later on! A bit of wonkiness here too, but I still had such fun with these.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Afternoon at the small barn

I'm just back from my annual Canadian vacation to my family's farm in New Brunswick, Canada. Last year I started a series of pastels done at the farm. It was such fun that I decided I had to continue again this year. Even though the trip was shorter than usual this year I managed to get some pastels done.

All were done from life, and done pretty quickly. That *does* lead to some wonky angles and ellipses. That's one disadvantage of working from life (at least for those like me, whose drawing skills always need work), and you also want to capture the beautiful light of a certain scene, but if you take too long the light shifts so much. So maybe 40 minutes max spent on any of these four, but I'll post them one-by-one in the order I did them.

Those that were done outdoors (two of the four) also had the disadvantage of much mosquito presence so were even more quickly done than the two interior scenes! But this was my first attempt, trying to capture a bit of our small barn behind the back edge of the farmhouse. I loved the long shadows of the afternoon sun.

Friday, August 10, 2007

New Beach Houses

"Beach Houses" was a picture I did back in early 2005 when I was brand-new to pastels, and had only been using them a couple weeks. I knew nothing about them! I had no clue about layering or blending or overlaying of colors. I used them the way a child uses crayons.

But these beach houses down in Atlantic Beach, NC always fascinated me with their gorgeous pastel colors. And early in my pastel life I decided to try to produce a picture of them from a reference photo I had taken. The photo was taken on a drear day in flat light, not the best reference, and the picture was clearly beyond my level of ability. But I struggled on to try to produce an image. I spent 5-6 hours on the picture which was about triple what I would normally spend, yet I still was not happy.

So I put the picture in a drawer and went on to learn more about pastels. But I always loved the Beach Houses. So today I pulled out that old picture and wondered if there was any way to add to it and improve it. The pastel was laid on lightly and sketchily, only a single layer of color really. But I had made the beginner's mistake of using the wrong paper, just standard drawing paper. It has little tooth and can't hold many layers of pastel. But it was what I had to work with short of starting from scratch, and I was not about to draw all those houses again!

I know the houses look rickety-rackety, with stairs and balconies leaning every which way. That's what I get for drawing freehand, but no way was I going to use a straight-edge or ruler. It's just so not "me". So rickety-rackety is what I get, but I still love the houses. This is now at a "sit back and think about it" stage, so I might tweak a bit more here or there. The tooth is almost all gone so not too much more I'll be able to add.

But just preliminarily I like it better than my maiden effort 2 1/2 years ago.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Crowded Classroom Nude

Between having pneumonia, and ongoing gallbladder problems, I missed the last few weeks of spring art class, and had no energy to even work at home. But Alex, my wonderful teacher, called and invited me to sit in on a few summer sessions to make up what I missed. This week I finally got to go.

It was a full class, and I had no easel to use, but had to balance a masonite board on the edge of a stool! This made it tough for getting proportions right. But I was just trying to get back into the swing of things after 6 dry weeks at least, and this is what I managed to produce.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Man in Black

Our model tonight was actually another instructor at the museum and I have taken some classes with him. He works strictly in black and white. And he showed up for the class dressed entirely in black! . I am known as the class colorist. I use pastels and love to use bright and vibrant colors. He actually said he thought of me when he was getting dressed for the class, and thought of wearing something bright, but then decided to dress all in black and drive me crazy.

They all said they *knew* I would just do his torso too, and cut off his head, as I'm also known for doing that too. So I decided to fool everyone and did his head! I told him I was going to change the black and dress him in wild hot pink or something, but I decided to go with the black anyway, but as everyone said I managed to work some color in anyway, heh heh.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Hand on Knee

Finally back to work in art class! Two weeks ago we only did a series of 5-15 minute sketches and no time for a full drawing or painting. Last week I missed class for personal reasons. But finally this week I got to work with the model's long pose. The paper I usually work with in class is 12x16. I can't do the entire body on a sheet that small. Everything would have to be too small, and therefore too finicky for my tastes.
As a result I have to choose a crop of which part of the model to draw. It's always fun to make that choice, as well as the color choices.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Blue Jay

I've been yearning to do a pastel series of birds I've seen, and keep trying to get lots of nice photos with my camera. But with the shutter-speed lag time, and the speed of birds, they always seem to fly off or move before I get that perfect pose. I may have to spring for a DSLR camera next to replace my trusty 3-year-old Kodak DX6490.
But I did love this sassy blue jay who came to visit my feeders over the winter and often perched in the dogwood tree. Of course it was not in bloom then, but it's blooming beautifully now, so I took some blossom photos and have had a try at combining things.
I've been experimenting with pastel surfaces, and I'm not sure this one is a success. I usually use Canson paper as it's cheap and plentiful, but also flimsy - and I've been wanting something more sturdy. Of course sturdy also tends to mean "expensive". This was done on one of those canvas-on-cardboard supports readily available in art stores, and then coated with several coats of pastel primer.
But it was awful to work with. I felt like a sidewalk artist, as if I was laying my pastel down on concrete - very rough and gritty. Several times I was ready to toss this out the window. I'm not sure it's a favorite but I'm glad I persevered, though the quests for the perfect support (sturdy AND cheap AND easy to work with) continues.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Dashiki Too

Tonight I was running late, and felt like a cold was coming on, so I stopped at Whole Foods to buy some chicken soup, and that made me later yet! But it was nice and hot and hit the spot. I still felt achy and sore-throaty though, and left class 30 minutes early. I just could not concentrate tonight. But this was the last week of the model in the wonderful dashiki, and I just had to capture some of those cool vibrant colors. So this was what I managed to do during the time I did spend in class.

No class next week as the museum is gussying up for "Art in Bloom" so I need to make myself work on something if I can get the discipline.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Bird Watching

One of my other hobbies is birding. I'm no expert by any means as it's another one of those hobbies I took up after turning 50, like singing and painting. But I'm here in coastal North Carolina for a week visiting family. Yesterday I took a hike on the Theodore Roosevelt Nature Trail by the NC aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores. It was a lovely walk, and I've had several good walks on the beach at Fort Macon too.

But today I figured I'd better do something to make me not regret dragging all my pastels down to NC with me! So I figured I would "combine" my two hobbies and do a picture of some of the items that came along with me on my hike yesterday, and this is the result.

Friday, April 20, 2007


The model wore a really colorful African shirt this week in class. The details were so intricate there was no way to actually draw or paint it! I only attempted a bit of it anyway, but it was fun to use some of my brightest colors to catch a little of the spirit of the shirt.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Hurray for art class!

It was "back to school" for me tonight. First art class again since December. My dear teacher Alex was back, and I hope back on the road to good health. A small class though, only 8 students, and Alex's classes usually have waiting lists! A lot of new people too, with John being the only familiar face. We started with a bunch of 5 and 10 minute quick charcoal sketches, then graduated to a 20-minute pose. Then the final pose which lasted about an hour.

So I don't really call this a finished picture, just where I was when the hour was up. I see a few things I might have worked on if I'd had a little more time. But next week, while we do have the same model, she will be in different clothes and a different pose, so this is as far as this picture will get.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Vicki's Eagle

One of my other hobbies is bird watching, and one of the members of a bird-watching list I belong to lives in Alaska. I guess bald eagles are as common to her as pigeons are to me! But she has taken some great photos, and I loved one so much I asked her if I could do a pastel of it. She graciously agreed and this is the result. I took a little artistic license here - moving the eagle a bit so he's flying into the picture rather than out of it, and making him a mature bald eagle rather than a juvenile.

But this was fun to do. Perhaps another tweak here or there but I think it's mostly done. I had special fun using one of the Art Spectrum Plein Air boards for this, which I've been yearning for for a long time, and my sister bought me a couple for my birthday which was Friday. Thanks Patty! An absolutely perfect gift as I've been wanting these for so long. I guess I'll just have to break down and buy some for myself. :-)

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Last goodbye to Maggie

This is a portrait I did of Maggie last year when I had the idea of doing portraits of my pets. But I never posted it on my blog as I received several criticisms of it on Wetcanvas, and I kept thinking maybe I would make changes. I was told:
1) The eyes were too "human" looking.
2) I should blend and smooth the fur more.

But I was thinking of Maggie today, and pulled it out, and decided:
1) Well there was something very "human" about Maggie, and I don't really want to change the eyes.
2) Smoothing the fur more or not is really an artistic call, not a technical one. And I was happy with how her fur turned out. So why should I change it to suit someone's else's opinion?

So I decided to leave her 'as is' and at long last her portrait gets its place on my blog too.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Maggie RIP (1991-2007)

This has been a hard week for me as my dog Maggie suddenly got so much worse. She was 15 1/2 and diagnosed with cancer a couple months ago, but she was still her indomitable old self, full of bounce and pep, so I was taking her for weekly treatments and giving her pills. I felt that as long as she was happy and bouncy I wanted to give her a chance.But suddenly this week all the bounce and happiness left her. Her appetite had been off and she had lost a lot of weight (from 57 to 40 pounds) but the last week she had seemed better, eaten better and gone back up to 42.

But this week she just stopped eating entirely. None even her favorites like cheese or ham or peanut butter could tempt her. She was down to skin and bones, and was getting weak and wobbly, so this morning I took her to see the vet.

So Maggie went to sleep at the vet's office this morning about 9:30. The vet could tell from his exam that just since last Monday all of a sudden the cancer had dramatically spread, and he felt that additional treatment would not buy her anything, but would be more for *me* than for her - but that this option was the best one for her. They gave her valium first so she was calm and relaxed, and I got to be with her and hold her and pet her the whole time.

It was fifteen years ago this month, March of 1992, when she came into my life as a wiggly puppy. She was a little terror, full of bounce and spunk. She was probably one of the smartest dogs I've ever had, and one of the most stubborn. Everyone laughed that she had *me* well-trained. She was always quite firm in letting me know when it was time to go out, when it was time to eat. And she never took no for an answer if she had decided it was time!

My folks have a summer place in Canada and Maggie went there every summer for fifteen years. She loved to run on the beach. She had the best fun chasing seagulls. This past summer she didn't run as much, but she still had a good time. She also loved the beach in North Carolina when I visited my dad and sister down there.

She was my "Energizer bunny" dog who kept going and going. Or I used to joke that I should have named her Molly instead of Maggie because she was like the Unsinkable Molly Brown, but eventually the cancer got too strong for even Maggie to keep fighting.

Here is a picture of her at one of her favorite activities from the summer of 2005 when she was still a spritely, energetic and active 13 1/2. I did this when I was still very new to pastels. Maybe I'll have to try it again now that I think I'm a little better than I was back then. Maggie was a good old girl.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Hands and Feet Workshop

I was back at Montclair Art Museum today for another workshop - this one on hands and feet. Hands and feet are a beastly struggle most of the time, and especially the hands!

This was tough too as poses were only 20 minutes long - we had three hand poses followed by three foot poses. 20 minutes is not enough! And I'm a generally speedy sketcher as well. But this was a bit stressful as no time to get all the proportions right.

But it was still a fun workshop, and a bit exciting as they were filming an episode of Law and Order: SVU while we were there today. Anyway, here are my 6 sketches in order:

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Foreshortening workshop

Today I went to the Montclair Art Museum for a 4-hour workshop on foreshortening, which is always a huge struggle for me. It was good to be drawing again, and we did a series of short 20-30 minute poses which is good for my attention span. :-) This one was first:

And then the rest followed in the order shown. Drawing the figure is always a struggle as it's far less forgiving than drawing a leaf or a tree, LOL. But it's always good experience, and next week I go back for another workshop on hands and feet.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Carolina Wren

Hmmm. today I decided I had to do a picture of a bird, but trying to look through all my bird photos could take me days! They are scattered all through thousands of pictures in hundreds of albums. Some day I need to organize them. It would be great to be able to tag them with multiple tags as I can with emails sent to gmail. Something to look into ...

But I do love this little Carolina Wren who showed up a few weeks running early in the mild winter. I have not seen him in the last few weeks since it turned bitter cold, and hope he has just winged southward to warmer climes.

Gee, I was perfectly happy with this background when I saw it on my easel, but looking at it here online I'm itching to make some changes to it. We shall see.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Tea Leaves Two

I've been in a bit of an artistic slump lately, and have done nothing since my autumn art classes ended in December. The holidays were busy and January was dark. But this month I was inspired by the reference photo for the February challenge at wetcanvas and had to give it a try.

Yesterday the weather was nasty, and my boss let me leave work a couple hours early, so after I had shoveled the snow I had some free time, and decided to try some art! The above is the product of about 45 minutes worth of work, and then I had to take a break and let it set for a bit. I may still work on it a bit more. But it's been so long since I have had something new to post here I figured I would just go do it. :-)

Saturday, January 20, 2007

The Last Accordian

I've been getting lazy with my art and need to find something to paint that will capture my interest. This is from the last art class for the fall back in December. December was too busy for painting after that, and I have not gotten inspired to start again ye!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Twisty Fingers

Wow, I see I've really been neglecting my blog lately! So much so that I came here to look, and found there was a whole new google blogger I had to sign up for! Luckily I already have a google gmail ID so that part of the conversion was easy. Anyway, November and December were just plain crazy months so blogging and artwork sort of fell by the wayside.

This is a picture I did in November in art class. I kept thinking eventually I'd get back to it and try to fix the hand and fingers, which are driving me crazy. However the time just has not manifested itself yet, so I'll just post "as is". Maybe having to look at it here will inspire me to drag it back out and see if I can perform hand surgery. :-)