Sunday, December 23, 2012

"Awe" 12-23-12

Today I worked mostly on the right side of the table.

I had a zany conversation last night, with my friend Kit, who was on the road to Vermont and I was in Zephyrhills, at home. She has been following my progress on this painting, and many times in the past she has been invaluable as a gentle critical eye for problems in my work. She tried to explain what she saw as a problem with the table, perhaps being flipped up, which is an error in foreshortening....a common problem with artists of all calibers. She couldn't really explain what she saw, and of course didn't have my blog in front of her, so the conversation went back and forth across about 1400 miles which was interrupted by several disconnects due to mountains being in the way, and distant cell phone towers. I could not figure out how to fix what she saw...everything checked out with the photograph, and my measurements were right on. How to deal with this....?

Fortunately, anticipating all sorts of problems with this painting, I made a large scale photograph of it, (using the real flowers) which I transferred to my canvas via an acetate overlay. I knew the cat might mess around with the drapery, and the big problem came when I had to dismantle the still life when tropical storm Debby threatened to flood my house. I got it back, more or less, but still it isn't quite the same with those plastic flowers and a messed up drapery! But I didn't move the table and I was fretting about that perspective. I have had moments when I thought that the table top was flipping up too. I think it was hard to see in my photograph, on this blog, what I had in mind for that area, as I had not worked there at all, and it was pretty foggy. In fact there was hardly any paint there at all, only my initial tonal scumble.

Is it better now, Kit?

Friday, December 21, 2012

"Awe" 12-21-12

Today I worked on the lower half of the painting, reconstructing the violin, flowers on the table, the drapery and the carvings of the table. Here is a detail photo of that effort.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

"Awe" 12-20-12

Today I worked on that subtle transition between the yellow sunset and the blue-green of the sky. It needs more work, but that's for later. It was essential to reconstruct the whole painting, and since I was working more on the upper half of the painting, both yesterday and today, that's where I began. See the detail photo below to see what I mean by reconstruction. Some people call these "outlines" but it is much more than that...really it is a restatement of the solid forms in the painting, much like bones in a body. Without a skeleton we are pretty floppy, and so it is with paintings. Tomorrow I will begin on the lower half and reconstruct the drapery and the violin. As I go I redefine the shapes and add and improve on what I saw the first time around. I do this throughout the process of the painting, reconstructing whenever there is a trouble spot, or when I need to have a line to paint against. In the end, if the black lines are out of value I can minimize them, or paint them over, but for the most part they will disappear into the painting as I work back and forth between subject and background.

"Awe" 12-19-12

Fianlly, I am on "vacation" until January 2nd and this time has been labeled, painting time, by me! I was able to paint for 4 hours yesterday before the sun made me move my easel into the opposite corner of my studio. It is so low in the sky these days and comes in my west windows and throws light and shadows over my painting. I worked for a bit more in the opposite corner of the room satisfactorily until I actually felt tired.

I quit to spend some time doing a photo editing project and to decide if I really wanted to lower the tree line in the painting. I painted the change on a clear plastic overlay and after viewing the change and photographing both versions I decided it was better to keep the original. It actually didn't make that much difference and painting sky over that black tree line seemed counterproductive, so I decided to leave it as is, even if it cuts the canvas in a bad place. There actually is no better place and I tried to lower it and the only place turned out to be exactly at the halfway I scrapped that idea.

Most of the work I did yesterday was on the upper half of the painting....the flowers and the sky. More shall be revealed!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

"Awe" 11-11-12

Sunday...a painting day projected....finally at 3pm I get to my easel but the afternoon sun was blazing through the west windows of my studio and blinding me so by 4pm I had to quit. But I was able to knock down the white areas on the flowers which has been bothering me since August. I am so busy at work, and other stuff, and other paintings have intervened, and to tell the truth this painting is very overwhelming and I am procrastinating about getting busy on it again. My days are full to the brim with what my ex-husband called "peedle-weedle".

Upcoming New Year's resolution....fight "peedle-weedle"!

Sunday, October 28, 2012


Sunflowers         Oil on Canvas        18 x 24       $450
You can't see it in this photograph but this is a very rough weave canvas, like jute or burlap. I have had it for so long I don't know where I got it, or why. I unearthed it from the canvas pile when I last cleaned up my studio and decided it would be fun to try working on this kind of canvas again. So when I saw those sunflowers in Sam's Club one day, I bought them for this painting. When I brought them home I had them on my work table and Miss Puss had to investigate and she was so cute I did the photography that resulted in "Miss Puss and the Sunflowers" which is in a previous post. The Miss Puss and the Flowers series was kicked off and I'm now back on that track, having completed this single painting which I finished yesterday. It was different working on that heavy canvas, but it was not easy and the canvas was not very well in fact, so there are ruffles in the corners which I tried unsuccessfully to remove with the wooden pegs. Because of that flaw I have lowered my price from what would be the usual $500 for a painting of this size and complexity. But that is a minor problem that I will continue to try to figure out in the coming days. For today I'm hunting for a suitable frame so I can put it in a show that is due tomorrow. I don't like to submit wet paintings to a show, but since I am the Art Curator I am taking on special privileges for myself and I hope it will be dry enough so it doesn't smell up the Gallery too much.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

My Idyllic Week at Sanibel Island

My dear old friend Betsy, with whom I have been friends for 65 years, asked me to go with her to Key West. Hummm, I said "I think you won't like Key West". I know Betsy. Well, she said, suggest something else. So I said, "How about Sanibel Island?"
I spent every spring vacation at Sanibel Island from the time I was about 8 years old to my Junior year in College. It was a fantastic place, filled with wonderful things to do, as I was obsessed with shells even before my grandmother took me to this wondrous place. I have been back to the Island, several times since 1958, just to drive through and try out the "Ding" Darling wildlife refuge with my mother and husband but not to stay. This time I suggested that we try to stay at the Island Inn which was where my grandmother had us stay every year. Our original plan was to spend two nights there and go further south to the Everglades south of Naples for the rest of the week, but once there that plan was hastily scrapped in favor of our daily runs through the Ding Darling Refuge, and the lazy hours spent on the beach watching pelicans and terns dive bomb the water.
So much...dolphins, pelicans, herons, an aligator, a racoon, tangled mangrove trees with their eery roots, Queenie's Ice Cream, The Shell Museum, beautiful skies and gorgeous sunsets. It was hypnotic sitting on our balcony watching the palm fronds waving in the breeze. Nothing much more to do than that...that was enough.

Because of Sanibel's unique position in the Gulf of Mexico, and the currents and prevailing winds shells get stirred up from the deep ocean and flung up on the beaches in huge piles, sometimes. Shelling on Sanibel is a hobby for some, an obsession for others, and a casual pastime for most visitors. The photo above is so typical of the high tide line with the daily spewing forth from the ocean depths. Very, very lucky people can find the rarities, a Junonia, or perfect Scotch Bonnet or Murex with all her spines intact.
For awhile during the day it looked like we might have clear atmosphere to see the "green flash" but as the sun went down clouds appeared and prevented us from seeing that rare occurrence, which I have seen several times. It was not to be this time either, but the sunsets were amazing.
Looking East

Looking West

I was slowly being restored to some kind of sanity by watching all this hypnotic activity...sandpipers running frantically along the edge of the surf, never to be knocked down, and the surf sounds, making me feel drugged with relaxation.
On the north side of Sanibel there is a totally different habitat than the southern beach side. Most of it is mangrove swamp and it is here that many people have made efforts to conserve these wild lands. Sanibel has seen progress, no doubt about that, from the late 1940s when I first arrived there to find only one small paved road, and a ferry to get there. Now there is a bridge and shops and food places and shell shops and T-Shirt places, but it is tackful and no building can be higher than 3 stories, so you have modest development along the beaches and no development for most of the Island's interior and mangrove edges. It is amazing, and wonderful, not pretentious like some places, and there is obviously money there, lots of it, but they do things like require you to be off the beaches after 9:00pm and you are not allowed to have even a flash light on the beach at night because it will disorient the sea turtles who nest there. No wild beach parties here!
This is what a mangrove swamp forest looks like. If I was a critter this would be a place I'd choose to live!
 The mangrove trees put tangled roots down into the water.
On the bay side is the entrance to The J.R. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge. We bought a pass that allowed us lifetime access to all the Federal protected lands. This is bird watching at its easiest....from the front seat of your car! You drive about 4 miles through this swamp, scanning right and left to see whatever is out feeding, preening, or roosting. It is a mecca for photographers, and birders, and especially birders who, like me, are not hikers! We made daily runs through the sanctuary in the early morning and again in the late afternoon. The photo above is of a flock of Roseate Spoonbills. In my early days of Sanibel, spoonbills were so rare a sighting of one of them would bring applause in the dining room of Island Inn at dinner, as well as finding a Junonia or catching a rare fish. It was that kind of place!
"Ding" Darling was a political cartoonist and he was syndicated all over the nation's newspapers, having a huge following and his ability to visually poke at the politicians and get things done in Washington was legendary. He was a friend to both Roosevelt presidents, and was for a time involved in setting up federal programs for conservation. He love to come to Sanibel and after his death this sanctuary was set up to honor him.


We could not have asked for better accommodations. We had a continental breakfast at the Inn, and we had a kitchen with refrigerator, stove, and microwave in our rooms. It was quite nice to shop in the two Island supermarkets for our lunches and dinners, and we discovered the locally made Queenie's Ice Cream which was so addictive we had to have a pint each night.
I'm slowly trying to get back into my regular life, which is very difficult to do! It has been so long since I spent 5 days doing nothing I can not remember when it was. Vacations should always be this way!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Miss Puss and the Sunflowers      Oil        20 x 20
This is the second painting of Miss Puss and the Flowers. The first painting is here.
This is also another series with different size paintings. The next two paintings will be on 18 x 24 canvases. My cat is so much fun and she seems to be a willing model.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

"Awe" 8-14-12

I worked on Awe all afternoon and feel as if I didn't get much work done at all! The flower on the table and parts of the scrollwork of the table were areas I painted, and I did a little blending of the sky where the blue goes into the yellow, just to get that harsh line out. The whole sky will be painted again, several times, probably, but for now I'm leaving it alone while I go after the flowers.

Friday, August 10, 2012

"Awe" 8-10-12

I have worked on this painting for about 12 hours since my last post. It does seem like an overwhelming amount of work, and I'm projecting ending the painting around Thanksgiving! Maybe. I was at my easel for 8 hours today, and things are becoming clearer. I felt as if I was "fighting white" for quite awhile with so much of the painting with a light scrub in and so much of it out of value. Now I have a good base on which to lay the paint and the layer work begins soon. I will be painting the entire sky background again, and hopefully resolving that "stripe" of yellow that doesn't meld into the blue above it too well....that will be a real trick to get that right. I will need to mix my colors carefully and work wet into wet as I go, so that work will be done on a day with nothing scheduled!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

"Awe" 7-26-12

Gone are the window edges, the bar that went across the painting in the dead middle, and the pink billowy curtains. None of that added a thing to the painting and it looked strained and confined, not to mention cut off at the sides and in the center of the painting. Moon and stars are moved over but they may be moved again tomorrow. It works better now. At least that's my take on this one!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

"Awe" 7-23-12

I am having annoying problems with my shoulder (chiropractor thinks it is inflamation of rotator cuff) and also tendon problems in my forearm. Of course all this is in my right arm and I'm not thrilled with working with my left arm. I can only do a little each day, and doing chores that seem totally benign will kick off the shoulder big time! I'm icing, using the TENS unit, putting on every spray and cream I can find. We shall see what develops with this one. I'm annoyed especially because I have the time to work on it, but can't.

Friday, July 20, 2012

"Awe" 7-20-12

Each day a little more gets done. It is beginning to take shape and look like what is in my head.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Miss Puss and the Fallen Flower

Miss Puss and the Fallen Flower      Oil on Canvas    20 x 20
I had not planned to do a painting of my cat with this flower arrangement. The flowers were given to me after the reception for the Pastel Society show at Carrollwood Cultural Center and I had them in my studio for decoration. Miss Puss seemed to like them and constantly jumped up on the table to examine them, sniff them, and pose with them, and I thought she was very cute, so I grabbed a new container, a white cloth, my camera, tripod and a long metal ruler. I could slide the ruler under the drapery and she focused on the wiggle just perfectly. The result of that photo session was this painting. Stay turns out that I now have a live model willing to pose, more or less, as I place her, and a new series of paintings have been birthed. I am working on Miss Puss and the Sunflowers, which will be followed by Miss Puss and the Stargazer Lilies, and then Miss Puss and the Roses (maybe). The lily flowers are the fake ones I bought a long time ago for the Awe Painting, but found out that the real ones I was going to have her pose with turned out to be deadly toxic to cats, and so that idea was scrapped in favor of the fake flowers. But it will be OK, as I have lots of photo references to the real thing.

"Awe" 7-13-12

Progress after the second day of work. My shoulder hurts (rotator cuff problems, we think) and so I knocked off to give it a rest for a bit.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Feeling Series #10 "Awe"

It has begun, after much angst, thinking, rethinking, searching for flowers and the right container, procrastinating, having art shows to hang, and so on and on.

I ran into an old friend in the supermarket who is a painter living in my area. We chatted and I told her about "Awe" and my hunt for Stargazer Lilies which were abundant around Easter but a hard find until a few days ago in a New Tampa Publix market. I laughed about how my house smelled like a funeral home with all those lilies. About half an hour later she called me to tell me that all parts of the lily plant is totally toxic to cats and if they get the pollen on them and lick it they can die, rather quickly. Who knew? So, the upshot of all that was to cut off the private parts of those beautiful lilies and put the flowers in the guest bathroom with the door shut, so Miss Puss could not frolic with the lilies. Prior to that I knew I would have to work from photographs. I have a good assortment of fake Stargazers, but I like to work with the real thing, at least for a short time in the beginning, and then often at the end. So I had to photograph the still life, and the blown up version is on the floor next to my easel. It helps to have that as a guide, especially when I have to put the real flowers in the guest bathroom when I'm not working. The canvas size of this painting is 48 x 30. I will keep you posted on my progress.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Genesis: Passion Fruit

I think this painting is the most difficult one I've done in this series. I am still not quite sure it reads right, but I'm done with it, after many hours of labor. I'm at the finished point, where I don't have the slightest clue as to how to improve, or add to what I already have except for starting over, and that idea doesn't enthrall me at all! That shiny, wrinkly, dark purple skin nearly killed me, and the slimy part on the left is still not quite slimy enough, but it works reasonably well. Painting slime is a challenge I love! By the way, did you know that "passion" comes from the flower of this fruit where some person with lots of imagination saw a cross and nails, and named it after the Passion of Jesus on the Cross? Too bad...I thought of aphrodisiacs which shows you where my brains are!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Tropical Storm Debby

For those of you who have been to my house you know that I have waterfront property at times. Since the area drainage was improved about 5 years ago our little retention pond drains really fast, but today it wasn't fast enough for me, and as I write this at 8:00pm on Sunday night I wonder if my house will float away. I'm not sure I want to be in it when that happenes either. I'm reluctant to will be a trauma for both me and Miss Puss.

The torrential rains stopped just enough to allow a slight reduction in the water, which is now about 10 feet from my foundation, and it is coming down in buckets again. It is supposed to do this for two days!

I am sorry this is such an awful photo out my studio window, but those white things are ibis feeding at the edge of the water. It is somewhat disconcerting, and this was several hours ago.

Wish me luck!

Genesis: Passion Fruit

This is a work in progress. I'm not sure I have the left hand part of this quite right. It doesn't read quite slimy enough. The right side was so much work, and I'm tired of it! What was I thinking when I took on dark purple, shiny, wrinkles?

Genesis: Passion Fruit        Egg Tempera      6 x 8

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Genesis: Habanero Pepper

Genesis: Habanero Pepper     Egg Tempera     $450

I am about to start the next one of this series...number 27. Yikes! You are welcome to say things like "OCD" or "screwy" in connection with this madness. I'm not finished with the Genesis series yet.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Black and White 2012

I am particularly proud of the June, 2012 Black and White Art Show at Carrollwood Cultural Center. We have about 140 entries in painting, photography, ceramics and sculpture. One sculpture was sent from Paris, France and a picture from Lincoln, Nebraska. We are definitely getting "out there".

I took some photographs last night before I went home, dog weary with the amount of work involved in this show. I had a remarkable turnout of help to hang the show, which was done in record time...two hours on Tuesday afternoon, but it was impossible to keep track of what was happening with teams of hangers putting up the work as fast as possible, so I had to do a lot of reshuffling on Wednesday afternoon while more helpers put up the labels.

The Theater Gallery is very difficult to photograph, since it is a very large venue and often is set up for cabaret style events, and at other times a formal theater with row seating for 225 people. Sometimes a small dance floor is put down, while at other times this space is used for private parties, weddings and civic events. These photos show the theater being set up for a rehearsal for a music production. Please excuse the trash can and other accessories that will be put away when our reception gets underway!

Theater West
 Theater West lower level

 Theater West Balcony
Theater West Balcony (2nd View)
Theater East
Theater East Lower Level View 1

Theater East Lower Level View 2

West Entrance - Sculpture and Ceramics

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Star Spangled Art Show

I was presented this beautiful engraved wood plaque last Saturday afternoon at the Reception fo the Star Spangled Art Show at Carrollwood Cultural Center. I was so blown away I could only babble into the microphone. I had to finally stop and leave the stage. It was a very difficult show to manage, but I did not think it was such a trial that I deserved such an accolade. Many others had a share of this plaque and I hope I have thanked all of them. Without that help the show would not have been the success it was.
Before the show ends on Monday, June 4th I made this composite photo showing our Theater Gallery with the addition of the lovely logo Stuart Dwork gave for us to use for this show. This is the view from our stage where I was standing when I could not pull myself together when Mary Donovan and Cathy Williams handed me this amazing gift.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Have You Ever Tried to Get Your Cat to Pose?

This is MY Game and YOU are my PAWN
Oil             20 x 20             $650

The title of this painting popped into my head one day, as I was probably doing my cat's bidding, or fetching something for her. The next day I went out to search for a chess set and came up with this pretty glass one for about $5 at the local dollar store...only problem was the queen and king were missing. I probably should have taken it back, but you know about OCD people like me. Telling her just how to pose for this painting was a little tricky but she was good about it! Miss Puss is a very smart cat, all cats she has a variable IQ. This painting was done for the Carrollwood Cultural Center's Annual Black & White show next week...June 8th will be the reception.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Genesis: Spaghetti Squash

Genesis: Spaghetti Squash     Egg Tempera    6 x 8      $450

All the other Genesis Series paintings show fruits and vegetables in their raw condition, but Spaghetti Squash doesn't turn into "spaghetti" until it is cooked, so I had to cook it before painting this one. By the way...this vegetable doesn't taste at all like spaghetti. This reminds me of the childhood days when all weird food was compared to the taste of chicken. Parents were so dumb!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Virtual Frame

Well, what do you think? I have tried many styles and colors of frames but this one on really was the only one that looked good. I haven't bought it yet. I can upload a photo to their website and try out most of their frames in their virtual frame shop. Pretty neat!

I think this is the one I'll go with. Black killed it, silver was worse, woods in all the brown flavors looked terrible. Really, this was the only one that worked, at least for me....and it was the last one I tried, thinking that a green frame would be worse than all the others, combined. Go figure.