Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Horizontal Wispiness

Winter, Part I

16" x 40" x 1.5" acrylic on gallery wrapped canvas
(My goodness, the blues aren't this blue, though. More subdued.)

This is the first of a four part series of abstract paintings I'm doing for our new house/art show. This style of painting I learned while trying my hand at learning abstract "vertical wispiness". When I first started selling my art and taking commissions, I had a friend who trusted me to paint her a triptych with these instructions: "Vertical wispiness".

Um, what?

She found a painting, actually from the set of the movie "Twilight: New Moon", that she wanted me to try and duplicate using her color palette. I had never painted anything abstract. I had never painted anything that was supposed to be free and wispy, yet organized and "finished".

I have just used a whole lot of """" in this post. I don't know the real "artsy" terms for "wispiness", "finished", or any thing else so please forgive my """"'s.

Anyway. I tried a thousand different techniques and finally came up with one that blended the colors gradually yet retained the deep values of each tone. I tried to make them airy and light, though I think the final product was a tad too heavy and not cloud-like enough.

A few months ago, I painted a triptych for my mom using the same technique using greens, browns, and gold. This time, I used a modeling paste to lay down a scroll pattern on the canvas (using a stencil), that I painted over. When the wispy colors were dry, I touched up the raised scroll design with gold paint, varnished the whole thing, and BAM! awesomeness was achieved.

(I lost all of the pictures I took of those paintings or else I would share them.)

For our new house, I wanted a wall of "horizontal wispy" paintings that could be a focal point in our government beige appointed house. I have chosen to do four paintings of equal size, one for each season, and hang them one atop the other.

I also am doing the 3D effect in each painting. Winter has "snowflake" shapes (shh! Don't remind me that snowflakes are supposed to be different from each other. I couldn't find any snowflake patterns!) Spring will be pastels with a few flowers; summer will be bright colors and a sun; fall will be, well, fall colors and 3D leaves.

I'm hoping for a Wow! wow factor in our low-ceiling-ed base house.

Here are a few close-ups of the snowflake and the wispy color application.

Seeing it one the computer, I don't really like how the white and black looks like clouds. I meant for it to be more stripey.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Bold Butterfly

Paige's last day of public school was last week, and while in the school un-enrolling her, I noticed how wonderful the art projects were hanging up and down the hallways.

I remember elementary school art class as being the best thing ever. Better than Santa. Better than popcorn. Better than ANYTHING. Like Paige, my art was always the one by the front door of the school, usually with a blue ribbon attached to it.

Then I grew up just enough to stop doing art except when absolutely necessary. Sure, I always got 100's on the projects I made for class, and yeah, you need an exact replica of this drawing? Sure, I can do that, too. But I never thought anything of it. Yes, I'm a good at art. So what?

Fast forward too many years and I add to my very, very short list of regrets the fact that I missed so many opportunities to take art classes. My high school had a nationally recognized art program. Did I take a single art class? Nope.

I graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill (Go Heels!), which is as liberally "art"sy as they come. Did I take one measly little art class? Nope. Not one. Not one in four years plus three summers of continual higher education.

I took advanced evolutionary mechanics, embryology, and genetic diversity classes instead.

Those were awesome classes, don't get me wrong. But had I known, had I had one inkling of what my adult life would really be like, I would have dropped organic chemistry level 401 and taken Drawing 101.

What's the point? I've lost my train of thought......

Oh, yes. Elementary art education.

Because I took so little art instruction classes, my mind is limited to what I can come up with as new art projects for my children and myself. I will be homeschooling in the spring so I need ideas for cool art projects. I will be, amongst many other things, the art teacher.

While waiting for the paperwork at the school, I walked up and down the hallway snapping pictures of the many art projects the kids had done. I won't put any online because I don't have permission, but this butterfly I did is an example of one the projects they did. Each child drew an animal and then filled in the open areas with blocks of patterns using many bright and wonderful colors. Paige made a snake that I'll post here soon.

Point of my ramblings: If you have the opportunity, whether young or old, to take an art class, do it! Life is short, art is precious, and evo devo is limited in potential applications.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Gift for Grandma

I painted this orange half for my grandmother for Christmas. Every summer of my youth my sister and I would spend a month or so living the sweet life in the care of this wonderful woman.

A daily routine during these summer days was to enjoy an orange, eaten with one of her tiny collecting spoons of which she has hundreds. My sister and I would stand on tip toes and stare into her spoon cabinet, searching, searching for the perfect spoon to eat our perfect orange. One day it would be the New Zealand spoon, another day a spoon from D. C. No matter your mood she would have a spoon to match.

My grandmother is 88 now and just this past summer my kids enjoyed selecting "their" spoon from her collection to eat their orange halves. As did I.

When someone is 88, they don't need more stuff, more things to decide what to do with. So I painted her something I hope will mean something a little bit more. A thank you, in acrylics, for all of the love, memories, and oranges she has given me over the years.

I don't think she reads this blog, but if you do, Grandma, Merry Christmas! I love you!

(Oh, and I couldn't find an image of any spoon that I know for sure she has, so I made one up, using the Connecticut flag as my inspiration.)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Snow Globe Christmas

"Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow Globe!"

6" x 9" acrylic on canvas

This is my submission to the December Calypso Moon Artist Movement challenge. We were to paint a Christmas/Holiday card with the option of exchanging our cards with another artist from the challenge. This assignment worked out well as I was planning on doing a painting for our Christmas card this year anyway.

I got the idea to paint a snow globe from another contributor at CMAM. I loved the bright colors and simplicity of this snow globe I found for a buck at the Dollar Store.

I left the background white to make the painting stand out, but now it looks too washed out for a Christmas card. I may try to add a background if I can find time before the Christmas cards will need to go out.

My problem is that I do not have a very good camera or location to photograph my art so the images never come out nearly as well as the real thing. I always photograph my art outside in a neutral shaded spot or wait for an overcast day (kind of hard sometimes here in San Antonio), but even then the true feeling of the painting is lost.

I don't know how well this image will translate to paper. I'll take it to Kinko's later and see what they can do.

Any suggestions?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Mrs. Starkers it is!!!

I had to. I just had to paint her. Me. Whomever. A half-crazy, cooped up housewife running nekid through a field on her way to the blissful land of insanity!

Thanks to all who voted!!!

(Don't worry. The beauty of acrylics is that Mrs. Starkers will be covered over with a barn tomorrow, with only you and I the wiser for what's inside!!!!!)

Gosh, I love to paint.

***Notice the red fingernail/toenail polish. At least crazy Mom has a good mani/pedi going on!

The Missing Subject

This landscape needs something. There is a perfect spot, right there in the middle of the hill in the foreground. A perfect spot for..............something.

I need suggestions!!!

My original brainstorm was a red barn or school house type building.

But I don't know.

Maybe a windmill? A grazing horse? A burned out housewife running starkers through the grass screaming?

Please, PLEASE, pretty please with clouds on top give me a suggestion!!!!

I'd be much obliged.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

"One for the Road"

"One for the Road"

18" x 24" x 1 5/8" acrylic on gallery wrapped canvas

This is my next completed piece for my art gallery exhibit scheduled for May 2011. I'm really enjoying doing these cloud paintings. I love how you get the details of the close-up object with the huge puffy clouds in the background.

I chose a Monarch butterfly because Del Rio is one stop of many in the great yearly Monarch migration. Del Rio is kind of on the edge of their migratory channel so we don't get overrun with them, but when they're coming through the front of your car will be redecorated with orange and red smears.

It's gross. And sad. But mostly gross.

My next few paintings will be different in style and application. I will be doing some abstract art that I have learned and enjoy to do for it's freehand styling.

And use of a spray bottle.

One can't flourish a spray bottle with enough flair. It's fantastically fun!

I'm happy with the end result of the butterfly, especially the three dimenionality of the wings. I'm not even sure I meant to do that.

I'm finding that shading lighting is getting easier and easier. I don't have to think about what to paint or how to paint something to get the shadows or highlights I want. My hand just seems to know what to do. Maybe it's the brush. But whatever it is I like it!

Isn't this color just luscious? I could swim in it, or eat it. Maybe both!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

"Dog Walker"

"Dog Walker"

9" x 12" acrylic on paper

This is my submission for this months Calypso Moon Artist Movement. Our assignment was to paint a scene from our life that included people. Since I've already painted Paige, I thought I would get going on painting each of the other children.

Phoebe, pictured here, is 2 1/2 and full of herself like most toddlers. She likes what she likes, hates what she hates, and gets what she wants. Mostly. She is one of those people that have "it", whatever that "it" is that attracts people to them like moths to a flame. Kids at the park fight to see who will play with her. Kids in preschool punch each other to sit next to her. Her brother sneaks into her bed every night so he can sleep with her. Why? As he says because he loves her so much.

We all do.

Especially Belly, our 10 year old Great Dane. Belly is meek and passive so it's no problem letting Phoebe walk her which she does often. To and from the park, the garbage bin, the "ditch", Phoebe pulls on Belly to get to her going.

Its a great thing, really. It keeps Phoebe moving in the right direction and makes Belly feel loved.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

"Northern Lights"

"Northern Lights"

14" x 14" x 2" acrylic on canvas

This is the next completed painting for my art show in May. I am looking for more free-flying objects to paint so if you have any ideas let me know!

I entitled it "Northern Lights" because we don't see a lot of fireflies here in the deep South. I know they are common up North so I decided to name it as such.

Fireflies? Lightning bugs?

Whatever you want to call them they add so much to the interest of a dusk sky!

Up next: Monarch Butterfly!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

"Be Free, Dandelion"

"Be Free, Dandelion!"

12" x 36" x 2" acrylic on canvas

Now that I've sorta kinda gotten the hang of painting sorta kinda decent clouds, I've decided to use them as my central theme for my art show in May. You see, in Del Rio the sky is vast, an immense blue blanket thrown over the top of your everyday life. It's stunning in it's depth of color, immense space, and limitless freedom.

And don't forget the clouds! Though Del Rio is a desert, the sky holds a lot of moisture in these spectacular cloud formations that seem to go on forever.

"Look, Mom! A starfish! Look! A hippo! Over there! A Parasaurolophus!"

I'm also going with the freedom thing as another side theme. I love the idea of flying; flying away, flying towards...

"I'll fly away Old Glory,
I'll fly away,
When I die, hallelujah by and by,
I'll fly away!"

Here's a closer look of the dandelion. (There is a strange yellow hue on the bottom of this shot that does not exist on the actually painting.)


...and closest!

It's really hard to get the scope of this painting from these cropped images. The color washes out, the subject goes out of focus, and the whole thing looks kind of blah.

So I included a picture of the painting on my sad, yellow wall. I painted the edge of the canvas an espresso brown that acts as a kind of frame.

1 down, 6554 to go!

Next up, lightning bugs!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

An American Songbird

"Free to Fly"

20" x 24" acrylic on canvas

The first blog I wrote, The Parent Trapped, was a fun journey of self-expression, family hilarity, and embarrassing anecdotes. I have since switched over to writing The Desert Chronicles which is less edgy, maybe, and more travel and locale specific, kind of.

My point....I am running out of photo space on Blogger so I have to delete The Parent Trapped soon. It spanned a year and has some real gems of humor, pearls of wisdom, and fool's gold of crap. I don't want to lose it, nor see it languor on a hard-drive collecting dust on the shelf.

So I am in the process of turning it into a hard backed book to languor on a shelf collecting dust. You know, Blog to Book. As I was editing it, I realized there was no one single picture that captured the essence of The Parent Trapped. I didn't want to use a family photo because even though it was mostly involving stories about my family, it was more about ME, and I am more than just my family.

That's one of the good things about being an artist. If you need something and can't find it, paint it for yourself!

I really liked how the clouds came out for my nephews C-17 painting, and since I really love clouds anyway, I decided to do another giant cloud painting.

Next I needed a subject. Symbolism.....symbolism.....Trapped....trapped by what? What traps us? A fence. A barbed wire fence! What is the opposite of trapped? FREE! What is free? A bird! An American Robin! Free! An American songbird, perched on a freedom denying barbed wire fence, but ready to take off for the great wide sky of liberation!

How's that for symbolism?

(I know. It's a male robin and I am a girl. Shhh! Don't tell anyone!

Here's a detail of the robin. I scrimped on the details of the fence but I liked the simplicity of it and didn't want the fence taking too much focus from the bird, er, me, or the clouds.

Here's a detail of the detail of the bird.

I am very satisfied at the overall outcome of this painting. Of course we artists are never fully satisfied but I am happy to say that I received the message loud and clear:


I hear you. Loud and clear.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Pie; Tomorrow

This month for Calypso Moon, we were assigned a Halloween themed painting. Well, two paintings. Both of Halloween, one without using a paintbrush/palette knife.

I only have time to do one this month, so here is my recipe for:

Halloween Pumpkin Non-Painting

9 x 12 piece of canvas paper
acrylic paints
painters tape
homemade stencil of pumpkin, cut into strips for form pumpkin sections
paper plates for palettes
plastic shopping bags

Draw the pumpkin on a stiff piece of paper, cut out pumpkin form. Cut pumpkin into strips. Cut out a stem shaped stencil. Using a plastic shopping bag balled up, bounce the colors together to achieve desired values. Pounce the the colors on the canvas, background first. When dry, tape off a straight edge for the table top. Apply table top colors. Let dry.

Using stencil, apply pumpkin colors with plastic bag. When dry, use pumpkin section strips to create high and low-lighted areas of the pumpkin.

Pounce in stem color.


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Monday, October 4, 2010

Rollin On the River

"Rollin' On the River"

11" x 14" watercolor and ink on paper

This is my submission to the Rookie Painter art assignment. The reference photo was of four leaves that were on a flat white background with shadows. The other submissions for this assignment have been spectacular in the originality and license each artist took for the project. I decided to make mine more a mix of abstract realism.

I am completely making up that term. Can realism be abstract?

Check out the other submissions over at The Rookie Painter. I never knew browning leaves could be so artistic and stunning!

(Funny story. Paige who is in first grade, came home with an assignment from school to collect "fall things" from our yard. Um, we live in an apartment in San Antonio. It's 85 degrees. We have non-desiduous oak trees. And purple sage.

Those poor teachers trying to do fall crafts without any fall things! We did the best we could by collecting acorns, though they were still green and on the trees, and picking a few of the mature red leaves from the red tip shrub outside our door.

Welcome to fall in San Antonio!)

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010



16" x 20" acrylic

This is a painting I completed for my nine year old nephew. When my niece asked for a dog park painting, my nephew piped up requesting an Air Force plane painting. An F-16, F-15, F-22 maybe?

Nope. He wanted a painting of a giant transport plane flying midair. I was surprised. Cargo planes normally don't get a lot of attention from nine year old boys when there are things like F-22's flying around the US.

This plane is a C-17 Globemaster. It can carry tanks, helicopters, troops, just about anything in it's gaping cargo hold. It is the second biggest plane in the Air Force, behind the C-5 Galaxy, aka Fat Fred.

Get it? Fat Fred and Barney.

I had to do some research on how to paint realistic clouds. I found an artist on youtube whose style I love. His website is if you want to check him out. I will be purchasing online classes from him sometime in the near future.

I'm satisfied how my clouds came out though there is definite room for improvement. They are viewed looking down on them like lucky duck pilots get to see them, unlike us Earthbound fools who can only look up or across at the clouds' beauty.

That's why I want to learn to fly. So I can watch my clouds from ABOVE instead of BELOW.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


I'm posting this painting I did ten years ago for you, my blogging painter friends. If you have a thumbnail of my blog on your blog, you may be terribly tired of looking at my horrible self-portrait that has been the lead post for WAY too long.

I know I'm tired of it! It really is quite bad.

But this watercolor is at least bright and cheery and not of some random weird looking woman's head staring at you while floating around inside an ethereal dark cloud.

That painting makes me want to cringe.

This painting makes me want a margarita.

THAT is something worth looking at!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Mystery Me

This is my second attempt at a self-portrait for the Calypso Moon Artist Movement. The first one bugged me to no end. So much so that I HAD to try and make it not quite so awful.

I raised my hair line, lengthened my hair length, added some maroon streaks like I'm prone to do, made my nose less defined, darkened the whites of my eyes, and most importantly gave my floating head a body.

Of course my typical V-neck t-shirt.

It's still not me but at least this mystery woman doesn't give me the heebie-jeebies.

Whatcha think?

"Anyone But Me"

9"x 12" acrylic on paper

This is supposed to be me. I was supposed to draw or paint me for this months Calypso Moon Artist Movement assignment. I was supposed to use ROY G. BIV to give myself the whole spectrum of color.

I used all seven colors but used them to paint someone who is SO not me.

I tried. I really, really, really tried. I have been drawing and tweaking and correcting and erasing and going brain dead trying to get this woman to look like me. Apparently she is determined to be her own person.

Her mouth is mine, all small and narrow. Her nose is more narrow and not crooked like mine, but as the artist I am allowed certain licenses with my art and correcting my slightly crooked nose is one I will fight for. Her eyes are too small and weird but she has my eyebrows. The hair is weird, too but her roots are showing like me always do. Sorry, lady.

I did my best. I at least added all seven colors. Red in the lips and cheeks, inner corners of the eyes; orange in the skin and hair; yellow in the hair and surrounding the pupils; green above the eyes as shadow; blue in the eyes; indigo in the eyes; violet in the dark circles under the eyes from trying to get this assignment perfected.

Painting people and making them look just like their model is seriously hard, at least for me, the untrained. I'm sure there is some technique, or seven, that would help me but I don't know of any so I can only do what I can do.

Oh, and this mystery woman should thank me for deleting all of my wrinkles and age spots. I should be so lucky in the flesh....

Thursday, September 9, 2010


"Give Me the Cookie"

9" x 12" acrylic

This is my submission for the current assignment at Paint and Draw Together. We were to use layering of a single color, in this case black, to achieve depth. And we were to try to achieve realistic fur.

I'm happy with the depth of color and the layering of white, gray, and black. Using undercoats of black was interesting and fun to do. The fur is too straight though for a poodle.

Or whatever type of dog this is.

When I tried to make the fur more curly is just came out like a bunch of snakes writhing around on a poor sweet puppy. So I decided to save the dog some wormy embarrassment and leave his fur straight.

I think he's still pretty durn cute, even without all of the kink.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010



9" x 12" acrylic on paper

This is my submission to the current assignment over at the Rookie Painter.

I think it came out pretty well. I tried a new technique with acrylics and I like the realistic yet "artsy" feel to these lemons.

Ahh, acrylics. How I have missed you!

Until a week ago we, as in my husband, three kids, one dog, and myself, have been living in a tiny RV. The only paint I took with me in the non-existent space in the camper was a palette of dried watercolors. That's why all of my submissions lately have been watercolors.

I like painting with watercolors, I really do. They are fast, usually, and there are lots of options for technique and application.

But I love my acrylics. My $1 a tube "crafters" acrylics I buy at the craft store. I don't know how to use the good stuff and am intimidated to buy the expensive stuff and not know what to do with it.

Ceramcoat will have to do for now!!

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Sunday, August 29, 2010


"I Loved You First"

6" x 9" watercolor on Yupo paper

This is Bob.

Say hello!

You can call him Santana, too, if you want. But his name is Bob.

This is my husbands horse. If it's true that what is yours is mine and mine is yours then this is my horse. Mine because as the title suggests I loved him first.

Bob is an 8 year old Tennessee Walker. When he first made it to my in-laws farm he was just a young thing, all spindly and weird looking with legs all over the place. I nicknamed him Stilts.

Or Giraffe.

I'm an unapologetic nicknamer.

No one had very high aspirations for Santana. He had papers, sure, but also a luxating patella that guaranteed him a cush life of grass eating and little work.

From day one he was the most friendly horse I had ever met and since I'm scared of horses that's saying something. While everyone else thought he was cute or weird or whatever, I was falling in love with Santana Bob.

Finally, after a year or so, my husband began to love him, too. In fact, while visiting his parents on their farm, Jerry began working Bob, introducing him to the saddle and bit, arena and ring. Bob was a natural. He never caused trouble, never kicked or fought, and within two days Jerry had him saddled and was riding him around the arena teaching him left and right leg leads.

This is about the time when everyone else started loving Bob, too.

One Christmas Jerry's parents surprised him by giving him Bob. Now it's official! Bob is MINE!!! Oh, I mean, he's ours!

We don't live near the farm so we don't get to see Bob very often but when we are there we try to spoil him, ride him, and give him lots of love.

He's not lonely, though. My father-in-law is a fantastic horseman and in his retirement has been staying busy teaching horse riding lessons to skiddish women both young and old. He rides one of their horses, usually Scooterbug or Lacey, while the student rides, you guessed it, BOB.

Bob is a tall horse. Very tall. It's very intimidating to be up on his back thousands of feet in the air. But he's so calm, so sure of himself, so wonderful that Jim trusts his students up there on his back in the clouds.

He's Bob of LOVE!!!

(Oh, we got his knee fixed so now he's even more perfect.)

This painting was done on YUPO paper, achieving the funky texture by squirting the still wet watercolor with rubbing alcohol.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


This is my submission for the current Paint and Draw Together blog. What with all of the moving and craziness, it feels like I haven't painted or submitted in ages when in fact it's only been a few weeks!

Isn't it funny how at the moment time seems to go so slow but in retrospect time really zooms past like a speeding train?


This is a small painting, only 4.5" x 9", done with watercolor on Yupo paper. I stumbled across this type of paper while web surfing a few weeks ago, and ever since my online purchased pad arrived I have been having fun experimenting with what it can and can't do.

Yupo is a fully synthetic watercolor paper. It's plastic, well, polypropylene. You can't paint on it like regular paper because the brush strokes will stick out like a finger painting. But it's really good for applying different types of mediums and techniques.

This painting was done by applying a medium thick wash on one section at a time and then spraying the section with straight rubbing alcohol. It stinks to high heaven but leaves a really unique texture to the painting.

You can also add table salt to a wet painting and when it dries there will be tons of little "dots" left on the painting.

There are other techniques you can do with Yupo, like dripping, freezing, splattering, etc, but I've only tried the rubbing alcohol to mixed reaction.

How ya gonna know if you don't give it a try?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Santa Fe

This is an archive picture of one of my first ever large scale canvas paintings. I did it ten years ago or so as a Christmas present. It was hard, new, and time consuming but I was, and still am, thrilled with the end result.

I didn't have any kids then.

I'm trying to come up with some ideas for themes for my art show in May. It may seem like a long way away but as fast as life is it will be here in no time.

I'm waiting for that Ah-HA! moment to hit me. When you know suddenly what the answer to your problem is, the solution you've been waiting for.

So far I have lots of little ideas, some good, most fleeting.

Do you have any suggestions for me? Any good ideas or themes you've seen at an art show or museum?

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Art Show

After moving back to Del Rio a few weeks ago, I set two goals for myself to accomplish over the next four years we'll be here.

One is to learn to fly an airplane. That is doable, being married to an instructor pilot and all. That one will take time.

The second one was to have my own art show.

When we lived here ten years ago, I taught a handful of children's art classes at The Firehouse, home of the Del Rio Council for the Arts. It's a really neat place, offering art classes, music, dance, pottery, cooking, photography, and other classes all for a reasonable fee or even free!

At the front of The Firehouse there are two show rooms. The largest is for traveling or group exhibits while the smaller one off to the side is reserved for local artists.

I took the kids down to see the current exhibit and while we were there I talked to the director and told her about my art, my history at The Firehouse, and my desire to have my own show. When I finished my spiel, she reached over, grabbed a clipboard and asked, "When do you want to have one? I have November, March, or May available."


Yes, it was that easy to get your own show. Wow.

I signed up for May knowing that I would need the time to put a show together.

The show will last the entire month, I can display any type of art be it paintings, paper art, sculpture, anything that is handmade by me. I can sell my items and the Firehouse will take a 30% commission. I don't know if that is a competitive commission rate of not.

On the first Friday night of every month, Del Rio has what is called an art walk. An average of 150 people walk from Casa de la Cultura, another art museum and workshop that focuses mostly on Mexican culture, to the Lee-Bunch Studio Gallery, and ends at the Firehouse where the new exhibits are formerly opened to the public. There is wine and cheese, hobnobbing and schmoozing, and *scary* meeting the artists.

I have to meet the people, introduced as an artist!

Am I an artist? I've been painting for 12 years and have sold a few dozen pieces or so. Does that make me an artist? I don't do it full-time. I can't even really say I do it part-time. I do it as often as I can, which is to say, not enough.

And if I am an artist, what the heck am I going to show? I paint this that and the other with no matching pieces or sets or themes. I can't even decide on a medium, wavering between acrylics, gouache, watercolor, and pen!

I know I'll have to paint all new pieces specifically for the show and that's great. I love a plan, an activity, and a goal. But what do I paint? Do the pieces have to have the same theme, the same medium? Should I stick with desert stuff or mix and match?

Truly I know that I can do whatever the heck I want to do with my show. I can paint purple circles and call it a day. But I want to do it right. I want to do it well.

I don't want to have a homemaker shows off her hobby kind of show. I want to have an artists' art show.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Fur is Fun

"Tennis Ball Heaven"
16" x 20" acrylic on canvas paper

A few months ago while in NC visiting my family, my niece asked me to paint her a scene she has stuck in her head of a bunch of dogs playing at a dog park.

She reminisced about taking my mom's poodle to the dog park, and upon entering seeing a gorgeous site; dogs running here and there, playing, jumping, and wrestling on green green grass with tall tall trees behind them.

I told her of course I would paint it for her. Whatever she wants from me she gets. Period.

The painting I had envisioned for her looked nothing like this in my head. It's funny how that happens when you paint with no reference. I originally planned on having traditionally shaped trees way in the background with the chain link fence coming to a point in the center (as her memory saw it). The dogs would be more prominent than they turned out.

When I finally got my dogs in a row and began this painting, for some reason, these round abstract "ball" trees came out of my paintbrush. My initial reaction was to paint over them but I slept on it for one, two, three nights and over that time I fell in love with the odd trees.

Then I painted the fence. Chain-link fences are complex pieces of architecture, I can tell you that. Luckily in our new temporary house we have that type of fence in the backyard, so one afternoon I was out there with sketch pad and pencil taking notes on how a chain-link fence is put together. Each strand is attached vertically and with each turn wraps around the strand next to it. Quite beautiful, really.

When I painted it, my original plan to make it all perfect went straight out the window. It came out crooked and crazy but somehow matched the trees; abstract and spunky.

When it was done and ready for the dogs, I figured my niece is spunky enough and can handle it.

She requested a German Shepard Dog, a pug, a pit bull, and a Doberman. Done. (The pug is on the extreme right of the painting. Just an E. T. head poking in.) I used a reference book from the library for the images of the dogs and filled in the rest with other breeds I like. (I ran out of room for my breed of choice; the Great Dane.)

So, that's it. Dogs running through a dog park having fun chasing balls and each other.

It wasn't until it was done and I was sitting looking at it checking it over for corrections did I realize that the trees actually look like giant tennis balls.

Oh, baby, would dogs be in puppy heaven if trees were tennis balls!

Play on my four-legged friends!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Here's my submission to the Paint and Draw Together artist group. My life has finally settled by increments enough for me to be able to sit down and paint for six point two minutes.

This is not a photograph I would ever have chosen to paint on my own. I typically shy away, like running and screaming away, from water and reflections as I have no experience or skill at doing them well, or evenly poorly. But that's what's so great about these online challenges. Even though I technically don't have to paint any of these challenges that I find, er, challenging, something about my kind of obsessive personality won't let me rest until I face my challenge head on.

So I painted the dang duck.

Duckling. Whatever.

I think it came out OK. Not bad for someone who has painted water exactly three times in her ten year painting career. Now I'm referring to myself in the third person. I must need a nap.

Whatchya'll think of my duck? Please give me any and all suggestions, tips, techniques, and pointers to painting water and reflections.

Thanks. Swim on.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Big 'Ol Jet Airliner

This is a painting I'm considering for the Calypso Moon Artist Movement FREEDOM assignment. We were issued the challenge to paint what we think of as "freedom". What makes us feel free, what we think of as freedom, maybe what keeps us from being free.

Before having children, my husband and I traveled all of the time. We had a little pop-up RV that we pulled with us all over the country on one adventure after another. Obviously after having one, two, three children, traveling is harder and a gazillion times more stressful.

I long for the days of stress-free travel, no babies to keep quiet, no bottoms to wipe, just scenery to see, souvenirs to buy, and new foods to eat.

My husband, among many other things, is an airline pilot on military leave for the next few years. Being a pilot would be an awesome thing, if nothing else than the travel! I've had the opportunity to go on a few international trips with him, sans children, and have had so much fun and adventure it drives me crazy.

Another perk of working for the airlines is free airfare. Yes, go ahead, hate me. I don't blame you. We fly stand-by so we often don't get where we're going when we want to go, but with enough flexibility we can usually make our trip work.

On the way to the airport, to drop him off or pick up a visiting relative, we have to drive directly under one of the runways. Every times I see a plane taking off for some unknown locale, I get a wave of longing to travel. A wave of envy that those people are off on an adventure and I'm not.

My adventure is driving three children through bumper to bumper traffic doing 75 mph in an old and falling apart Suburban.

(Don't get me wrong. I love my kids, my "job", and my life. I just wish.......)

So my idea of "Freedom" is an airplane. An airplane taking off, bringing it's passengers to some exotic location, like Hawaii, Fiji, or Cleveland. I'm not picky. I want to see it all, go everywhere, experience all life has to offer.

And an airplane can take me there.

(I'm not sure whether I should submit this, though. It's a quick watercolor and the other artists over at Calypso Moon are sooooo good that I feel like an unworthy newbie sullying an otherwise gorgeous collection of art.

But then again, I have zero time for painting since we're moving in six days and I'm up to my eyeballs in boxes and tape. Oh, and trying to keep things clean so our house can show well. And keep the kids from hurting each other. I drew this and painted it in about 3 non-consecutive hours. I think it's the best I can do with the time I don't have. But I still want to participate even if it's not my best work.)

What to do........what to do........

Monday, July 5, 2010

Au Natural

My children are very interested in why I drew a naked lady. "Because the human body is a work of art! Look at the lines, the curves, the symmetry!" I explained excitedly.

"But her boobies are showing."

Yes, her boobies are showing.

I drew this lounging woman one afternoon while I was lounging lazily. My agent in LA said they were looking for "modern" pieces, and to me that meant nudes.

Everybody is nude, or mostly nude now-a-day. Just go to the mall and look at all of the teenage girls walking around.

So I sketched this woman, thinking I would do an abstract charcoal form on a big piece of white paper. Put her in a silver frame and hang her on the bathroom wall and she would be all, like, modern and stuff.

Then I sketched a male form, also hiding his face and "parts". I gave him lots of muscles. Yum. It took me about six minutes to draw the man, about sixty to draw the woman. I guess I've had more practice looking at the male form, thanks to my yummy husband.

I decided to play around with some painting techniques with the naked chick so I just did a watercolor splatter thing on this first version. The male I will do in gray, black, and blues.

Unintentional gender stereotyping, I assure you.

I'm not sure I like the splattered red. Too violent or something. And her calves are too narrow.

What do you think??

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Cherries Jubilee

8" x 10" watercolor and pen on paper

This is my first entry for the Rookie Painter online art assignment. The reference photo was of four bing cherries looking all mouthwateringly juicy.

Maybe you can see the four cherries in my painting. Unless you're color-blind and then you may be in trouble.

For these online artist assignments, I've been trying to paint subjects that are out of my comfort zone. Since cherries aren't too far from my typical subject matter, I decided to paint these lovelies in a more abstract manner.

I like it. Maybe. When you've been painting in one style for ten years, and have never been taught to paint in any other style, it's hard to let go and do something different.

I feel a little "out there" with this painting.

But you never know. Sometimes when you step away from the norm you can find yourself in a whole better place.

Eating cherries, perhaps?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Finger Paint

~ 10" x 13" abstract acrylic

This was my first attempt at abstract art.

Kind of.

I found this "painting" today while going through all of my art stuff from up in the attic. I made this years and years and so many years ago I had forgotten all about it.

The truth is, I remember making this and it did not start out as art. It started out as a piece of waxed cardboard that I was using as a palette. When I finished the other piece I was painting, I had so much paint left on the palette but it was too mixed up to put back in the bottles. So I decided to add some more colors and see what happened.

I added the last few squirts of some almost empty acrylic paint bottles. Then I mixed and swirled with my finger until that voice artist's have said, "STOP!"

I stopped. And stared. And even though it really is just five minutes worth of grown up finger painting I just fell in love with it. I love the texture and the colors and the whoopee-ness of it.

Who knew?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Coconut Palms

This is a painting I completed for The Virtual Paintout, another online artist group. I'm loving all of these great groups and challenges to participate in!

This particular challenge uses Google Streetview to help you find a great image to paint. Each month a different location is given and by going to Google Maps, you can explore that location using their new Streetview angle. It's this little yellow dude you can hover over the areal map and when you drop him in a location you get to "see" what he sees! Pretty cool!

You can follow this link to see what I "saw" with the help of my little Google guy in Hawaii:,-156.97506&spn=0.081694,0.363579&z=12&layer=c&cbll=21.070763,-156.975151&cbp=11,0,,0,5&photoid=po-8503495

This is a pen and watercolor painting measuring 11" x 14" painted on tracing paper.

If you've never watercolored on tracing paper you should try it! The paint does not adhere very well so you can blend and remove paint easily. The paint dries quickly but removes easily making blending and washes really fast. The texture of the tracing paper once it gets wet instantly adds depth to any painting.

I chose this image because I love coconut palms and because I liked it. It sang to me.

Wish I was there!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Lake Aquitaine, Part Deux

After receiving some great suggestions from other artists at Paint and Draw Together, and after staring at the original painting for the past 24 hours obsessing a little, I decided to update the painting and add some more color, some more *pop*.

I like this version better. With the more yellowy green, instead of gray/green, one less annoying cloud, and a few more water lines, I think this painting is more pleasing to the eye.

I already see six things I want to fix. Again.

But that's why I love painting with acrylics. Mess up and just paint right over that puppy!

What do you think?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Canada, Aye?

"Canada, Aye?"

11" x 14" acrylic on canvas board

This is my version of Lake Aquitaine in Canada, painted for the most recent painting assignment over at Paint and Draw Together.

I am not a landscape artist. I do not know how to paint clouds. Or water. Or trees. But this was the assignment, and part of the challenge of doing these online artist assignments it to get out of your comfort zone and paint things you would normally never in a million year paint; like Lake Aquitaine. Not that it's not gorgeous, it is, it's just that I usually shy away from landscapes.

The photo I was copying was that of a stunning lake, full of reflective glory and surrounding peacefulness. I want to go there. Right. Now.

As far as the painting goes, I know there must be some "trick" to painting clouds. Some flick of the wrist, splaying of the brush, to make clouds quick and easy.

There also must be some "trick" to water. I avoid water like a plague because as a self-taught artist, I have tried to invent a water/cloud trick of my own mostly to disastrous results. I think this one came out pretty well considering my extremely limited experience with landscapes.

When and if there is a beach assignment, I will be up a current without a lifeguard!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Paint and Draw Together

"Last Berry Standing"

Here is a recent submission for Paint and Draw Together, an online artist group. I've been finding more and more groups to participate in; if only I had more time to paint!

This 9" x 12" gouache is entitled "Last Berry Standing" and was painted on watercolor paper.

I typically lose myself in the details when I paint. But since I don't have as much, or any, time lately but still have that need down in my bones to paint regularly, I've been trying to let some of the details go.

The photograph this painting is taken from is rich with details. You can see it by clicking here. I knew I wanted to paint for this group but also knew I would never have the time to get all the details right.

A great time to let go.

This berry reminds me of the times my children and I have binged on strawberries. The juice starts flying around, our fingers and mouths stained red, and tummies full. By the last strawberry, we're all too full to finish so there's always one lonely berry left.

But don't feel to bad for the berry. It only has minutes remaining.

Can't wait to see what's next on the agenda over at Paint and Draw Together.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Calypso Moon for June

This month for the Calypso Moon Artist Movement assignment, we were to paint light from darkness:

"There is something mystical and inviting about the illumination of light in darkness. I’m sure many of you already have a favorite night scene image in your mind. This month’s challenge will be about capturing the glow that appeals to your senses. Be dramatic. Use whatever light source(s) you desire.Sometimes what your eye sees is not what's directly in front, but behind. Backlighting can be dramatic and surreal."

Without the shadows there can be no light. Without the dark how would we know what is light?

This is a 10" x 13" gouache on watercolor paper.

Two of my favorite people with some of my favorite animals.

(I think it's awesome how it looks like the dolphin is giving my husband, Jerry, a kiss and a high five! Totally unintentional as my photography skills are so poor!)

Texture Daisy

This was my first attempt at adding texture to my acrylic paintings. Or, my first four attempts.

For my kids' teacher appreciation gifts, we parents were to choose something from their lists of favorite things. All four teachers had "daisy" as their favorite flower so instead of buying them flowers like everybody else, I decided to paint them a flower.

I think they came out pretty well.

It was fun and exciting to try something different.

What do you think?

Assignment #2

The May painting assignment for the Calypso Moon Artist Movement was to paint a "Secret Garden". A place outside, full of natures beauty, where you find serenity, peace, and rejuvenation.

I borrowed this "secret garden" from my mother-in-law. She is a fantastic gardener, growing gorgeous flowers and shrubbery. Her roses are thrilled with the slow and wet coming of spring at her home in North Carolina. Her chives were excited, too, reaching for the sky and daring you to pick them and put them in a soup.

This is an 11" x 14" acrylic painting on canvas board.

I just want to sit on the bench, prop my feet on the mouth of the chiminea, and enjoy the day!