Monday, December 5, 2011

Merry Christmas to All

Mr. Claus after Mr. Foster, in Paper
16x20, mixed media on cradled board
(double click on photos for larger views)
This year's Santa!  So, so much fun.  Impossible to see all his little quirks and details in small photos but, be assured, he is full of surprises.   Inspired, in part, by one of last year's Santas - click here to see him - which was in turn inspired by the brilliant Alan Stephens Foster who painted Saturday Evening Post covers back in the day.  Click here to read my take on that.  

Also inspired by the work of "paper painting" artists such as Elizabeth St. Hilaire Nelson and Derek Gores and Nancy Standlee - do click on each name to visit their work.  Very wonderful!

Our stockings are hung and the lights are twinkling, my (shhhhhhh) collectors-only art project is wrapping up, and the little "part-time/temporary" job I started at the kids' school last month is underway. At least I know where they keep the coffeemaker - whew!  I'll probably get things figured out about the time the job wraps up. Truth be told, I really couldn't say no to the opportunity to be with our kids this year.  I look forward to more 'studio time' when it's over.  

In the meantime, many thanks to my friends in the blog-o-sphere for their patience with me and dedication to their work. All best for a lovely holiday season and start to the new year. 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Paper Dolls Continue

11x14, mixed media on cradled panel

My first attempt with acrylics and I was having fun and got carried away.  Her clothing was to be made of paper, as has been the trend with the Paper Dolls.  But, it turns out, her lacy shrug is painted and her top is paper. Oops.
I love it when Lavagirl, my darling daughter, brings me inspiration. Or something that leads me to a muse. I painted this from the website of clothing designer Keiko Lynn...a darling, young girl with a look I just love.  I've tried emailing her but - sheesh - she has 11Kplus followers on her blog (that's 11,000+). Talk about busy.  Go check her out - doesn't she have an amazing flare?

The background is wrapping paper I bought recently on a Twisted Sister field trip to the Container Store... funny, right?  Take care - thanks for looking!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Cooler Temps, Studio Windows Open, Music Turned Up, Artist Dancing

12x12, mixed media on cradled panel
email me for details
The hot weather is finally breaking here in Central Texas and the crisp morning air is invigorating.  For some reason, for me that translates to a yearning to spend more time in the studio. Yeah, like that's gonna happen....  it is definitely not the year for art. There is just too much other fun to have! This is the time for endless football and volleyball games/events and school volunteer jobs. This is the time to enjoy being with Shark Boy as he works towards college and with Lava Girl as she settles into high school.  It's a great time of life and I keep reminding myself that a daily art practice will come back around. Later, when our chicks have flown the nest.

In the meantime, these Paper Dolls are the perfect thing: easy to work a little at a time between commitments. And they feed my love for the energy that pattern and the printed word bring. I continue to be so impressed by the strong-yet-transparent qualities of the Fluid Acrylics and I love Vivian's map dress with the doily collar. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Barbara Jean Goes to School

Barbara Jean
16x20, mixed media
 email for info
I recently purchased a 1934 copy of a book, English for Business Use by Charles
G. Reigner, to use as background for the Paper Dolls series. Turns out it's a textbook well-used by a girl named Barbara Jean Crook. In addition to taking copious notes and recording assignments and test dates, Barbara Jean did a fair amount of
doodling in the margins and she signed almost all 400+ pages. Sometimes she inscribed just her first name, other times her initials, practicing almost as if she was perfecting her signature or autograph. Usually in pencil, occasionally red, and sometimes using a fountain pen. Twice she "auditioned" a different last name... Thornburg. (Wonder who he was?)

As I worked, I mused about Barbara Jean Crook and her life -- what was she studying? did she have a friend in the class?? did she live with her parents??? what was she daydreaming about as she signed her name over and over??? -- and the piece took on a vintage feel. Her signature is here probably 50 different times. Watercolor, fluid acrylics, transfers, inks, and the Chinese characters for friend and good. The cradled board has deep sides and they are finished so framing is optional. Double-click on the images to see larger versions.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

You Gotta Have 'Faith'

16x20, mixed media on canvas
Sold my first Paper Doll this week - Faith has gone to live with a darling collector. Woohoo! Truth be told, stepping out onto this 'mixed media' limb is quite intimidating so the validation of a sale is doubly meaningful. Faith was inspired by a long neck, a strong shadow, and a really great hair-do. She's a mix of pages and ephemera collected from vintage novels and phone books, a Bingo card, a French stamp, some Indian paper, and a handsome Italian man.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Mixing Oil and Water

16x20, mixed media collage on cradled panel
 email for details
To the list of reasons why I love watercolor, please add Plays Well With Others. How friendly the water-based mediums are - watercolors, acrylics, inks, gouache, gels - matte and otherwise. I've fallen in love with Golden's Fluid Acrylics and Liquitex Inks. All products that were designed to be layered and mixed. That said, I used oil for some of the white flowers in the background of this piece and it acted as a 'resist' when I painted Josephine in watercolor. I love the white flowers peeking through on her skin. Lower right are the Chinese characters for 'friend' and 'good'. She looks great in a gold, plein-aire type frame!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

12x16, mixed media
(double click for larger view)
A whole new group of twisted sisters has moved into my studio! Collectively, I think of them as Paper Dolls. What fun I've had this summer making truly messy art - splashing in watercolors and liquid acrylics and ink and matte medium, with bits and scraps of maps and vintage books and telephone directories under my feet. I can't wait to introduce you to these girls!

Friday, August 5, 2011

What Did You Do (for 5 minutes) Over Summer Vacation?

5 minute oil studies on canvas paper
from Jennifer Balkan class
Some things I did? Hmmmm... spent good time with Sharkboy and Lavagirl (Mr. Right has been working waaaay too much!), did a lot of volunteer work and got ready to do a whole bunch more, visited some colleges and the farmer's market. I stayed up late at night and slept late in the morning which isn't at all like me. I played in the studio making art a lot. Different kinds of art. Wildly inspiring, messy and for me, exciting art. More about that later.

A thing to love about this summer was a series of classes I took from one of my all-time favorite artists - and now a favorite person as well - Jennifer Balkan. She welcomed our little group into her studio where she had lovely models and soft samba music and we painted quick, nude studies with only 3 values -- surrounded by her beautiful work. Lovely. Click on her name above to check out her paintings. Even more lovely.

Some things I didn't do: I didn't blog. Please forgive my absence, Gentle Followers. I'll be here when I can and miss you terribly when I can't.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Can You Name this House in Twelve Books or Less?

Shelf Life: Chase Residence, Dining Room
9x12, oil on panel
Could you recognize another person's house by seeing just one small portion of one bookcase in one room? From the books in this painting, I not only know who's house I'm in (Grandpa's) - I can feel how it feels to be there (wonderful!) and remember what the shelves around it hold and conjure what delicious smells are coming from the kitchen right around the corner. I just love that.
Hope everyone is having a great May!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day - Festa Della Mamma Felice

Anna's Kitchen
12x24, oil on panel
Happy Mother's Day to all, especially Anna and her bella daughter who commissioned this piece. I loved listening to Dean Martin sing Mambo Italiano in the studio while painting and dreaming about Anna preparing her famous homemade sauce: tomatoes, garlic, basil, Italian parsley, parmesano, olive oil from her rustic jug - delizioso!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Recipes and Friends

These still lives are in a series called Painting Recipes that I've played with for some time. I'm going to post a new one this weekend -- a Mother's Day gift -- so I've been thinking a lot about them. Here we have recipes for homemade lemonade, hot cocoa with marshmallows, Sharkboy's pumpkin pie, and -- well, the title says it all: Is There a Title That Doesn't Include a Tequila Reference?

Truthfully, I've been in a pickle lately. What time I've set aside for painting has been spent on commissions this spring (Yippee!!!) and that doesn't leave me much to "blog" about. Then a dear friend dropped by the studio and gave me some great ideas. She is the Sarah of Hyacinths for the Soul - click here to visit her beautiful blog - and so, of course, she knows a thing or two or twenty about blogging. So inspirational.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Sister to Sister - A Birthday Commission

Sister to Sister
12x12, oil on panel
A birthday commission for my niece from her sweet husband, these are their beautiful girls watching ducks on a pond. It was a difficult composition for me and I ditched two attempts early on and even changed the size/orientation. What a relief when the figures finally "settled" into the painting... I heard from them over the weekend and she was very pleased - plus he was an absolute joy to work with. Today is her actual birthday - much love, dear girl.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Art for your Easter basket

In case anyone is lucky enough to be Easter-ing on the west coast! Have a great holiday weekend!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sketchbooks and Milestones

Forgive my absence, gentle followers. I've got about a go-zillion reasons why the art I've been working on lately isn't blog-able. Still painting on surprise commissions... tee hee hee. And I find myself compelled to draw - buried in my sketchbooks. Sometimes working out compositions and value patterns and such - sounds really noble, right? - and other times just sketching the sunflowers sitting in front of me. Our kids are growing up fast right now so I'm doing and thinking a lot about them. This week our youngest, Lavagirl, has Freshman Orientation at the high school and our oldest receives his senior ring.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Quick Sketch

An hour's worth of sketching, in between fluffing and folding. And it was really the dots on the scarf that intrigued me - I saw her in a catalog. I don't really want to own the scarf but I did want to paint it.
In other great news, Good Ole' Whatshername is on her way to California. This painting was juried into the Randy Higbee Gallery 6" Squared Spring Art Exhibition in Costa Mesa. Randy's shows are packed with talented artists - be sure to go by if you're in that neighborhood. April 17 - May 6, Randy Higbee Gallery. Woohoo!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Donation to the DPW Help Japan Challenge

6x6, oil on panel
Artists have raised almost $13K this week. In keeping with the "home" theme, I've donated this little piece to the auction and designated the Japanese Red Cross Society to receive all proceeds. Click on this link to see hundreds of donated paintings: The DPW Help Japan Challenge. Please help if you can and many thanks.

Spring Break if officially over - we had a great trip. I'm back in the studio having fun with a few commissions but I just can't share them. Birthday/holiday surprises!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Can't Wait for You to See This!

The Parisienne
13x16, mixed media, framed
Oooh la la. Our darling French girl with a frame painted to match. Fun pictures below - click for larger views. I've always wanted to design a frame and a piece of art together. This is acrylic, inks, oil, and paper on paper; the "floating" frame is wood (thank you, Mr. Right) - painted, antiqued, and finished with several coats of varnish. Plus an Audrey Hepburn quote! She is a kick... so, so much fun to look at. The Parisienne would be a great graduation gift! I'm checking out for Spring Break - everybody have a good week and thanks for looking!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

New Girl in the Studio

Good Ole' Whatshername
6x6, oil on panel
Another in the Little Women series. I left even more background showing on this painting than I usually do and I love it. As an artist, I struggle daily tiptoeing along the fine line between fuss and finesse. When the ground color peeks through, adding tension and interest, I'm a happy girl. She'll look great in a floating frame where the canvas/panel appears suspended and the edges show all around. Aren't I lucky that they are en vogue?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Girl from Totonicapan

Girl from Totonicapan
8x10, oil on panel
Another Guatemalan memory. The people of these tiny villages dress in a riot of pattern and color - truly one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. I edited this image much more than the last - not only removing all detail from the background but even from this little angel's clothing. I'm honored to have been invited to contribute a painting to the Amigas de las Americas annual spring fundraiser - an art auction at Laguna Gloria Art Museum. Through this organization, more than 20,000 youth volunteers are placed in Latin American communities to complete service projects that change the lives of both the high school/college age kids and the communities they serve. I have a precious young friend who will spend this summer in Cusco, Peru and I'm so proud of her work.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Mothers and Sisters and Guatemala

8x10, oil on panel
email for info
My mother loved traveling to Guatemala and I've had reason lately to go back through some photo albums of trips we made together. I'm blessed to have many girlfriends in my life (some related, some not) -- I think of them collectively as my twisted sisters. Wonder what the Spanish, or Mayan, word is for twisted sister? For surely, whether you live in Chichicastenango, Guatemala or Austin, Texas, you need friends who'll help keep your vegetables in the basket you're carry on your head.

Monday, February 28, 2011

The Parisienne

multi-media on paper
work in progress
This girl is destined to become part of a collage but I like how she looks now. She's larger than the ladies in the Little Women series - they've all been 6x6 and this girl is about 6x8 on a 12x14ish piece of canvas paper. I've had so much fun lately treating paper before I paint on it - snips of this and splashes of that - layers that create remarkable depth. I love these artistic detours. Hmmmm... she looks French to me.... cue Maurice Chevalier.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


oil sketch on paper, 5x7
Maybe I should have said, "Some quirky paraphernalia has been swimming onto the blue post-it note stuck to the taboret." Sketched while watching CSI [original version, of course] - the coroner/character Dr. "Ducky" Mallard makes me laugh. Not to mention the {Very}Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs...

Monday, February 21, 2011

Pincushions and Pantone Colors

Pantone No. 18-2120: Honeysuckle
oil sketch on paper, 5x7
Color is a faithful muse. I love doing paintings inspired by Pantone's choice for Color of the Year - click here to see No. 15-5519 {Turquoise} in 2010 and here to see No. 14-0848 {Mimosa} in 2009. Yum-my. I've been playing in the studio lately - exploring some new ideas and techniques. Having a great time. Hard to say what will become of them yet but you'll know when I know. In the meantime, some quirky paraphernalia has been jumping onto that post-it note referenced above... I'm just saying.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Ten-Minute Cheese Spreader Sketches

Timer Set!
These sketches were done in response to a challenge one of my favorite teachers, Carol Marine, issued recently on the Daily Paintworks blog - paint the same thing over and over for no more than 10 minutes. The cheese spreader, the blue post-it note, and the paper primed turquoise for collage-making were handy. I've done this with Carol before - it's a great exercise. Really helps you think about values and colors and quick decision-making. Inspirational - and surprisingly tiring. Whew! Be sure to visit Carol's blog to see her great work and the DPW blog to see lots and lots of 10-minute sketches.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Painting Summer on a Snow Day

Salty Dog
8x10, oil on panel
A recent commission, this grand fella owns a family who takes him to the beach quite often. It feels good to be beach painting - familiar and comfortable.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Back to Painting Port Aransas

Sand Castle
8x8, oil on panel
Painting this Port Aransas beach house had me dreaming of warmer weather. As I post, our thermometer reads a balmy 19 degrees - and for Central Texas, that's saying something. Glad we don't have the ice and snow our northern neighbors are grappling with... but don't tell my kids I said that. Their fingers are crossed for a snow day. This painting is going to Shark Boy's school auction later in the month.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Shelf Life: In Our Kitchen

Shelf Life: Kitchen, Top Right
8x8, oil on panel
A kitchen still life where Italian Renaissance Art and The Cokesbury Stunt Book (1934) mingle with Texas BBQ and Betty Crocker. Add to that some pretty white primroses that sneaked into my grocery cart this week and a can (empty) of Good Luck Blackeyed Peas - an annual holiday gift from friends. I wanted to see a smaller painting in the Shelf Life series but intend to paint this scene larger. I like what sits just to the side of the peas. The Cokesbury book includes chapters on Luncheon Stunts, Group Stunts, Stunts for Leaders, Party Stunts, Stunts for Boys Camps, Mental Stunts, and Conundrums.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

I {heart} San Francisco

The Mayor, Sir Francis Drake
11x14, oil on panel
email for info
The distinguished doormen at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel clearly own the piece of our world at the corner of Sutter & Powell, San Francisco. We spent Christmas week there several years ago and, while Mr. Right and the kiddos slept in each morning, I would sneak down to enjoy a quiet cup, sketch, and watch that intersection come to life. It was always the same routine: the festooned cable cars made their first runs, the corner newspaper man unpacked for the day, the taxis picked up their airport fares, the merchants swept their sidewalks, and the doormen seemed to orchestrate it all... while greeting a steady parade of locals and tourists with handshakes and holiday wishes. This gentleman told me it is the greatest job and that he'd been there 30 years and {I quote}, "put two kids through college in this flowered hat."

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Does "Plein Aire" Include My Dining Room?

Shelf Life: Top Left
10x20, oil on stretched canvas
An old wooden chair upholstered in a re-embroidered fabric with inset mirrors, the Bibles and Books of Common Prayer belonging to at least 3 generations from our children back through our parents, P.G. Woodhouse, Molly Ivins, and an ancient little Texaco Home Lubricant oil can. I think this one is my favorite so far - I enjoyed finding the purple in the shadows. Maybe it's time to switch rooms. Or even houses... I'm starting to dream about the shelves of my family and friends.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Continuing With Shelf Life Series

Shelf Life: Top, Far Right
10x20, oil on stretched canvas
An old and crumbling wooden Santos I brought home from Guatemala, Robert's Rules of Order, Austin's Landmark Art (Vikki Loving), a 45 of Why Can't We Be Friends (S. Allen/H. Brown, Far Out Productions, 1975), and a shallow, black Pre-Columbian bowl leaning in the back (250 a.d.). Plus some other stuff that doesn't mean as much to me... but might to others. I love these still lifes that have been just waiting, patiently, for me in the next room. I got so excited when I did the first one that I forgot to underpaint the panel. I just grabbed it and started drawing and was painting before I realized - yikes - I'm painting on white. It was okay... not difficult but, for me, yawn, uninspiring. Ahhhh, turquoise. Wish I'd thought to paint the walls in our house turquoise before painting them Naples yellow.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Using What's Right in Front of Me

Shelf Life: Two Down, On the Right
6x12, cradled panel
It feels good to be well, technology-friendly, and back in the studio. While [thinking about] de-decorating the house after Christmas, I realized there were some pretty groovy still lifes around here. All set up, lighted, and waiting to be painted. I've used these Stafforshire dogs before, here. The blue and orange box in front holds Mr. Right's grandmother's original "Sun-Pruf Goggles" - she was blind and these were the dark glasses she wore back in the day. We tend to stick all manner of mementos in the walls of bookcases that meander around our house and I'm intrigued by the subject matter. Sorry for the glare in the shadows.