Thursday, December 09, 2010

Fake Fruit

LOL, this is sort of "I did it just to do it" sort of paintings, not one of those I especially love! But I went to art class last night and was feeling blah and uninspired. I've been doing a lot of landscapes from photo references I've taken lately, and I enjoy that - but was also feeling an urge to do something from life, though no special idea of what.

But as I set up my easel I saw Christina had various objects sitting on the ledge running along one side of the room, one being a bowl filled with fake fruit, and behind it a bowl containing a plant of some sort. It was not a formal still life setup by any means. But it was right there in front of me, so for fun I decided to incorporate the two into a picture, and this is what I did, on my usual 9x12 Art Spectrum. Not so exciting a picture, but it was fun to do.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Autumn Glories

It's December now and winter is coming. The trees are mostly bare, but back in October, when I drove home from Canada, the autumn was at its height, with glorious trees in fiery reds, flaming oranges, vibrant yellows... It was a marvelous ride, and a wonderful autumn. I kept seeing vast vistas of trees that I wanted to photograph, but it was not an easy thing to do when you're zooming along a highway. :-)

But I saw this bright red-orange tree beside a little stream in Maine, and just *had* to pull over to the side of the highway to take a picture. I can't even tell you where in Maine this is. Best I can do is to say it's somewhere between Bangor and the Canadian border, LOL.

This was done on 9x12 Art Spectrum.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Glen Ridge Congregational Church in Winter

Winter's coming, LOL. I had such fun painting the church I go to a couple weeks ago that I felt like I wanted to paint it again from a different angle, and found this photo I had taken a few years ago when we had a big blizzard and I took a brief walk around to see how things looked in town. The church looked lovely in the snow, so I decided that would make a great painting too. This was done on 9x12 Art Spectrum.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Blue Heron in the Fall

The fall was so lovely up in Canada last month. I was enchanted by the rich orange and golden colors of the marshes around Baie Verte, compared to their greener colors of the summer. I wanted to be able to paint some pictures showing those colors!

Last night I made an attempt. I got a lucky photo of a Great Blue Heron in the marshes my last day there, and decided to use that as the reference for my painting. As is common for me, this was done on 9x12 Art Spectrum.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Baie Verte marshes

Baie Verte is a small town in New Brunswick, Canada, that I pass through when I'm taking the scenic route to Amherst, Nova Scotia. It's a charming little town, and surrounded by lovely tidal marshes. When the tide is low you often see Great Blue Herons wading in the water. I've taken tons of photos of the marshes, always thinking what lovely paintings they would make. And tonight I decided to actually do one of them! This is from a photo I took last summer, and is done on 9x12 Art Spectrum paper.

I was there back in mid-October, and the marshes were gorgeous with deep orange and gold autumnal colors. I may have to try a painting next of those lovely autumn colors.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Pastel Society of New Jersey

This is a photo from the fall meeting of the Pastel Society of New Jersey, showing the current members of the board. That's me in the aqua shirt there. :-) I'm now the 2nd Vice President of the PSNJ. What fun. We have our annual juried show coming up, with receiving this Saturday. If my painting gets juried in one more time I'll gain "Signature" status with the PSNJ. Keeping fingers crossed.

Update: My painting *did* get accepted into the show so I'm now officially a Signature Member. Our Juror was Rae Smith, currently president of the Pastel Society of America, so it was both a pleasure and an honor to meet her, and have lunch with her on Saturday. She did a great job picking the prize winners for our show.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Glen Ridge Congregational Church

Glen Ridge Congregational Church is the church I grew up in since childhood, and where I currently still sing in the choir, and act as Secretary of the Church Council. They are having a big fundraiser event next month, and have asked parishioners and others to donate items to be auctioned off. I was asked if I could donate a painting, and I found one I decided to donate. But then I got the idea that it might be a very cool idea to also donate a painting of the church itself.

So this morning I did this painting of the church. I'm pretty happy with how it turned out, and it's already been professionally framed. Talk about service! I dropped it off this morning with Ray at Livingston Gallery and he called back this afternoon to say it was finished already. Wow, great prices and great service too. :-)

Anyway, this is my typical 9x12, done on white Wallis, various pastels, but quite a number of them Unisons and Terry Ludwigs.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

To be a Writer you must Write

Well, that's what they say about being a writer at any rate. I'm not a writer. :-) But they say if you want to be one you must write and write, even if you are not feeling inspired. I guess the same is true about being a painter. Sometimes you are not feeling inspired but you should paint something anyway. I was on such a high after I finished my "grandpa" painting, as I was so happy with it, that nothing else appealed to me to even attempt.

So finally I decided I had to be like that writer, and just *do* something - and something totally different. It was my last day up at the farm - so I just grabbed the first three objects that came to hand - without any care about their relationship (if any, LOL). So that included a small pumpkin, my birding binoculars, and the little jar I keep pastel dust in. Took those three, plunked them in an intertwined sort of way down on the kitchen table, and then painted them.

No it's not great art, but it was a good exercise. 9x12 Art Spectrum paper. This one goes into the drawer rather than getting framed, but it was a good exercise. Grandpa is going to a professional framer when I get home though!

Sunday, October 10, 2010


Last weekend I went to a lovely wedding in High Falls, NY - for my daughter-in-law's sister. My grandson John, while only 13 months old, was supposed to be the ring bearer! Well, that didn't exactly work out as planned, LOL, but it's too long a story to tell here.

However the day of the wedding itself was just incredibly lovely and I spent the morning with everyone as they were getting ready for the big event in the afternoon, and just happened to capture a great shot of John walking across the grounds with his grandfather, my daughter-in-law's dad.

The instant I saw the photo I knew I wanted to paint the scene. And I wanted so badly for it to come out well. I was so sure I would screw it up, but I spent most of the day on it, and so far I'm still pretty darn happy with how it turned out!

This was done on a sheet of white 9x12 Wallis, various pastels.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Indian Point

Last night was another painting that was more of a slog than an inspiration, but even slogs are good to work your way through sometime. This is another done from a photo up in Canada this summer - at Indian Point, just outside of Port Elgin, NB, and looking across the waters of Baie Verte to Nova Scotia. Done on 9x12 Art Spectrum.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Point de Bute

It's been a busy month with travel and various Pastel Society of New Jersey activities, so not much time for painting! But yesterday I finally got back to it, and painted this picture from a scene up in New Brunswick, Canada - along the Point de Bute Rd., the back route from our farm to the town of Sackville.

It's done on 9x12 Art Spectrum as usual. I'd hoped to do some plein air while I was up there, but the mosquitoes were so fierce I had to content myself with just some snapshots. :-)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Sentinel

This is one more for my lighthouse series! This is the Portland Head Light in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. The original tower at Portland Head was first lit on January 10, 1791. It's now set in a beautiful 90-acre park along the Maine coast. My dog Bran and I visited the park on my way home from Canada last week and I took a bunch of photos of the light.

Unfortunately my version of the light seems to have come out a bit shorter and sqatter than the actual light, LOL, but I'm still pretty happy with how the painting turned out anyway, as a painting.

It's on my usual 9x12 Art Spectrum. One interesting fact. Portland Head Light is entirely white, yet no white whatsoever was used in the creation of this painting. :-)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Back from Birding

This is another of the paintings I did up at the farm this summer - done from life in our cozy farm kitchen, with my hat tossed unto the farm daybed, just as I would toss it after coming back from birding - something I often did up there. I love my Tilley hat which gives my eyes great sun protection.

As is typical for me these days, this is a 9x12 on Art Spectrum, and a variety of pastels. I love the colors of some of my new Terry Ludwigs - but they are so soft they eat up all the tooth on the Art Spectrum paper, so have to use the sparingly.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Cape Tormentine Light

I only got a few paintings done while up in Canada, and of those I don't think all are fit for public viewing, LOL. But this is one I was pretty happy with. I've been on sort of a lighthouse kick, and you can read about some of my other efforts in this regard starting here.

So this is one I did of the light at Cape Tormentine, which is where the old ferries to Prince Edward Island used to leave from, before the completion of the Confederation Bridge at Cape Jourimain. This is my typical 9x12 on Art Spectrum paper with a variety of pastels.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Southwestern Vista

Last night was my first week back at art class after being up in Canada on vacation for a few weeks. I admit my heart was not in it. My dog Bran died during the night last night. He was not quite seven years old, not an old dog, but he had been battling nasal cancer for the last 14 months, and was slowly losing the battle. I knew I was having to face hard decisions about him in the near future, but sweet Bran took the decision out of my hands.

But I was glad for art class last night as a distraction and a chance to see my friends there again. But I didn't feel totally up to painting either, so wanted to find something not too fussy or detailed to work on. In the end I came across this 40-year-old snapshot that I happened to have with me, taken on a camping trip across the American southwest with my family, when I was a teenager. It was old and sort of faded, Kodak Instamatic snapshot - but it had what I was looking for - simplicity.

So I began fooling around with it just to have something to do with my hands. I hated it initally, looking something like a 5-year-old's crayon coloring. Last I upped my estimate to maybe something a 10-year-old would have done. By the end of the evening I was actually not unhappy with it, and enjoyed the stark simplicity. It suited my mood for last night, and so totally different from the eastern landscapes I normally do.

So I was glad to get back to class. When I get more organized maybe I'll share some of the paintings I did up in Canada. In the meantime I'll close with a portrait I did of Bran in 2007, before he got ill, and so terribly disfigured from his disease.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Ocean Waves

I finished my first painting at the Maggie Price workshop by lunchtime, so after another wonderful lunch I started a second painting. One of the other women was working on a wave painting, and I was a bit envious as I have long yearned to learn how to paint waves - something I'm clueless about!

But as I looked through my reference photos I found I did have a pretty decent shot of a wave I'd taken down in North Carolina, and decided to give it a shot. Some great advice from Maggie, but I'm still not very happy with it. Oh well, it's my first wave ever, and I'm sure I can get better at it with practice. Practice is the key, jsut as in most things. Like all my other workshop paintings this is on 9x12 white Wallis paper with an underpainting.

Today we had to do underpaintings that used only one color, but just 4-6 different values within that color. I chose turquoise for the color of the underpainting for this one, and magenta for my Beach Rocks painting.

Rocky Shores

Today was my second day at the workshop with Maggie Price. She gave a wonderful demo of doing rocks and water, so when it was time to do a painting of our own I wanted to do one with rocks and water too!

So I went through all the photos I had in my bag, and this was really the only one that fit the bill, so I went ahead and did it, even though this very scene is one that I have already painted twice already, both here and here.

But it's sort of interesting doing the same scene twice, to get an idea of how you, or your artistic vision, may have changed. And after the workshop I came home, loaded up the car, and began heading north for Canada. Right now I'm stopped for the night in Auburn, MA. By tomorrow evening I should be right up at the place where this photo was taken!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Misty Maine Morning

This is my second painting from day one of my workshop with Maggie Price. This was just from an old snapshot of an early morning on the coast of Maine. I can't even remember exactly where it was anymore. The snapshot itself is sort of dull looking, but I love taking dull photos and seeing if I can make them into more vibrant paintings. Like the first one this was done on 9x12 white Wallis paper, with a pastel and turpenoid wash underpainting.

Purple Haze

I'm taking a workshop with Maggie Price this week! She is teaching for 5 days, but alas I can only take the class for the first two days, so want to make the most of it. But today was the first day. Maggie was there with her husband Bill Canright. The weather was not conducive to working outdoors, so we worked in the studio using our own photos as references.

It was definitely different for me. We had to use white Wallis paper, and then lay on an underpainting lightly with pastels, and then use turpenoid to make a wash of the colors. I've heard some teachers suggest that for the underpainting you should use complimentary colors to the final layers. But Maggie feels you should use colors similar to the finished layer, but very bright and vibrant versions.

As she puts it - if you use dull or muted colors for the underpainting it's hard to brighten up later. And also she reminded us that one way of making gray is to mix complimentary colors. So that's what she feels you don't want to use compliments for the underpainting. You are setting yourself up for a grayish hue to your painting.

So it was fun to try a painting, with her critiques. I actually did two paintings today, and this is the first of them. This scene is taken from one of my photos from Greece, looking out over the Gulf of Corinth from the seaside hotel I stayed at for a couple of days, just south of the city of Patras.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Ocean Sunrise

This is another painting my March 2010 cruise to the Bahamas yielded. I've been thinking about this one for a while, and finally decided it was time to give it a try. I always woke up very early on the ship when we were at sea. Our cabin was on the starboard side of the ship, so we faced away from the sunrise on the way to the Bahamas. I had to get up early and get dressed and go up to the Sun Deck to watch the sunrise then. But on the way back to port in Jacksonville we faced east, and I woke up early in the morning and captured the sunrise right from our cabin. I'm so glad I sprang the extra $50 or so to get an exterior cabin with a window. Not only did I enjoy the view, but I got a painting out of it too, LOL.

Thursday, July 01, 2010


It's been a while since I did a still life. But last night I had art class, and no real idea of what I wanted to paint. None of the reference photos I had with me really "grabbed" me. But Christina had the most glorious arrangement of hydrangeas set up in one corner of the studio. I loved them because they had so many colors! White, lavender, pink, blue. So I decided they would be my project for the evening. I have been getting lazy about working from life as I've been too enthralled with my landscapes (which I still love), so this was good practice for me.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Straw Market

This is another picture from my Bahamas series, from my trip there in March. The Straw Market is a large open-air tented market in downtown Nassau, and arguably one of the major tourist attractions in Nassau. Apparently it started in order to sell, as its name implies, items crafted from straw. However it now seems to sell everything under the sun, and I found it a very uncomfortable experience to actual wander through the straw market. You are bombarded on all sides by vendors trying to sell you things - and I couldn't get out of there fast enough!

But in appearance it's a unique and colorful experience. I only took one photo of the market, right at the entry to it. Once inside the incessant sales pitches, and the urge to keep moving, kept me from getting any other shots. I thought the one I did manage to capture had a lot of color. I've been staring at it for months, longing to try to paint the scene, yet positive I didn't have the ability to carry it off.

But tonight I finally found myself brave enough to give it a try. I was sure it was going to be an exercise in frustration however, and one destined for some hair-pulling before winding up in the round bin. But as I got into it I had a lot more fun than I expected, and it actually ended up turning out far better than I expected also, so I've decided it's a keeper after all, much to my own surprise! :-)

Friday, June 04, 2010

Beth's House

This is another of my mini-paintings, sized 4x6 inches. I did a bunch of these as gifts at Christmas time, and found it was rather fun doing a tiny painting. Tomorrow I am going out with 2 friends to celebrate the birthday of one of them, so I made this little portrait of her house to give her as a gift. I was out of practice with "tiny" but it was still fun once I got into the swing of it.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Far Tortuga

Well the show at the Clarence Dillon Library in Bedminster, NJ got hung yesterday, so my lighthouses are all up for the next month. Opening reception is tomorrow at the library from 6:30-8:00 PM. I hope people show up!

But that left me free to try something else tonight, and I pulled out this photo from my trip to the Bahamas in March. I just loved the sign and the roofs, and the seagull. And I even bought some rum cakes to bring home to people as gifts. :-)

So one more for my Bahamian series. I got more paintings out of that trip than I ever expected I would. I'll have to scout around my snapshots and see if I might come up with any more. I wish I had a better photo of the Straw Market! I do have one. I'll have to see if I can turn that into a painting somehow.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Fort Monckton Light

I guess you could call this part of my lighthouse series, but it can also be part of my Canadian series. This is from a reference photo I took up near our family summer home in Port Elgin, New Brunswick. It is part of the Fort Gaspareaux National Historic Site and is a small little park overlooking Baie Verte, which is a small arm of the Northumberland Strait.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge

My subject line is the title of a children's book written in 1942 about the Jeffrey's Hook Light, a small red lighthouse at the foot of the massive George Washington Bridge.

Although I've lived in New Jersey most of my life I never even knew about this little lighthouse until five years ago, when I happened to go with my sister and brother-in-law and their kids to the park that runs along the Palisades near the bridge. There I saw the Little Red Lighthouse for the first time, and thought both how cute and incongruous it looked.

Then, when I was trying to think of another lighthouse to paint for my series that will be in the art show next month, I thought of it. My time is short. I had no time to go down to the Jersey shore and capture photos of Twin Lights, or Barnegat Light, or any other NJ shore lighthouses, but I figured I had time to drive up to the bridge and get a photo of the little light to use as a painting reference.

So that's what I did yesterday morning before the Pastel Society of New Jersey's spring meeting. I drove north along the river, following the road that takes you underneath the GW Bridge, and stopped at a couple spots along the way to take photos of the lighthouse. I finally chose one for a reference, and painted this morning while I was on call for an upgrade at work.

That's it. I now have five lighthouse paintings that can go in the show - but I have more lighthouses I want to paint now that I've gotten the lighthouse bug. :-)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sandy Hook Light

I had fun doing the Hog Island Light last week, even if from a distance. And I have always been fascinated by lighthouses. Two weeks ago I was down at New Jersey's Sandy Hook, and took several photos of the lighthouse there. Since I had lighthouses on my mind I decided I wanted to use one of them as a reference also.

Lighthouses are pretty popular, and maybe I can do a lighthouse series. Actually I realize I've already done a few counting the small Hog Island Light from last week. I've also done Maine's West Quoddy Head Light, and the light at Cape Jourimain, New Brunswick. That's four already - I've already almost got a series going here. I wish I had another lighthouse I could do. I'll have to look through my old photos. I may have one somewhere of the light at NC's Cape Lookout, or I could always go down to the Jersey shore to get some reference photos of "Old Barney" or Barnegat Light.

My Hog Island Light painting is the post immediate prior to this one of course. To see my other lighthouse paintings please go here and here.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Hog Island Light

This is another painting from my March trip to the Bahamas. I guess I managed to get enough paintable subjects to be able to call it a "series" now, LOL. This is the lighthouse on Paradise Island at the entrance to Nassau harbor. Paradise Island used to be known as Hog Island, but I guess it acquired a new and more appealing name when big tourist resorts were built on the island. :-)

You can read about the lighthouse here. It says there about it: "This is the oldest and best known lighthouse in the Bahamas and the oldest surviving lighthouse in the West Indies." and also: "Good view from cruise ships entering the harbor." This is true too, as my first view of the light was from the cruise ship. In fact I have another photo of it that I took from the ship which I may also try to turn into a painting.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Bahamian Cottage

Well this is number four in my Bahamian group of paintings. Is that enough to be considered a series? :-) I saw this cute little cottage when I was out sight-seeing, just down the road from Fort Fincastle. I had to walk down the road to take a picture of it because it appealed to me. This was done on 9x12 Wallis paper.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Bahamian Shore

I'm still on my Bahamian theme. I had really hoped that a trip to the Bahamas would give me a chance to get some fabulous reference photos - but it just didn't work out. Between the weather being overcast, with flat lighting, the whole time, and our trip to the Half Moon Cay getting cancelled due to ship problems I wound up with very few decent photos. Mostly just tourist snapshots in and around the city of Nassau.

But heck, I'll never get to the Bahamas again. I have to try to come up with *something*. So I'm trying to use my meager snapshot stock to come up with a series anyway. This painting was based on a snapshot I took from the van I was riding in for the "Historical Highlights" tour I took. Just like my last few works it's done on 9x12 Wallis paper.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Fort Fincastle

I'm still trying to get a few paintings out of my Bahamas cruise earlier in the month, even though I didn't get the landscape photos I had hoped for. But when will I ever get to the Bahamas again? Probably never. So I have to take my tourist snapshots and *try* to get a few paintings from them. LOL. One of the spots I visited was Fort Fincastle in Nassau, up near the highest point on the island of New Providence. This painting is from a photo I took of the entrance to the fort area itself, though there is not a whole lot left of the actual fort!

This was done, like my last few paintings, on a sheet from a 9x12 of Wallis paper. I had not liked Wallis for the longest time because it is such a pastel-eater. But I'm starting to warm to it now. I wonder if it is a bit less toothy these days? When I first tried it my fingers were worn raw and bleeding from trying to use them to blend - but it has never happened on these sheets of Wallis. Could be because I blend less these days too. :-)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Nassau Harbor

It's been weeks since I have been able to get to my art work, but tonight I finally got to to class again for the first time in over a month. I'm just home from a cruise to the Bahamas which is how I managed to miss two classes, LOL. I was hoping to get a bunch of great reference photos to be able to do a Bahamas series of paintings, but for various reasons didn't get many at all. Mainly as I was only in Nassau and I was hoping for more landscapey type shots, not city shots. But our trip to Half Moon Cay, where I had hoped to get the nature shots, got cancelled because of problems with the ship.

But I have a small number of photos that *might* make paintings, so I could still have a small series I suppose. This is the first one I tried to work with. The water truly was that amazing blue color you see in all the travel literature. I loved it.

This was done on a 9x12 sheet of Wallis paper - various pastels.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

The Wine-dark Sea

It was back to art class last week after a few weeks' break. I have not been feeling inspired lately, too busy with dealing with my upcoming job loss, and trying to get my house on the market. I think all my paintings, frames and art supplies will have to go into storage to reduce the "clutter". And I could hardly imagine what I wanted to paint last night, but finally chose a photo with the above scene, taken back in 1994 when I went on a trip to Greece. This shows the pathway to the beach at a hotel outside of Patras that we stayed at for a couple days, right on the edge of the Ionian Sea.

This was done on Wallis paper, an unusual support for me, as I find it too "toothy" for the most part, a real pastel-eater. But I had some remaining sheets from a 9x12 pad and figured I might as well use one.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Rush Hour

I'm finally getting back into the swing of things from an art standpoint. I've been working on this one in dribs and drabs for a few weeks, on and off. But tonight I finally buckled down and got it as done as it will probably get. I loved the reference photo I used for this one.

It was just one of those lucky circumstances for me. I had left my office down in Newark, NJ, and was standing on the street corner in the twilight waiting to catch my bus home. There was still a faint glow in the sky, the streets were wet from rain earlier in the day, and the lights were just starting to come up. So I took out my cell phone and snapped a shot of the scene with the cell phone camera - and that was what I used as a reference paint this painting.

It's on my usual art spectrum paper, but a little larger than most of the paintings I have been working on lately, a 12 x 16.