Monday, March 29, 2010

Costa Brava Palms

This is a wall mural that I did in acrylic. I started working on it back in November and I'm calling it finished but it's probably not. Originally I had drawn in a hammock between the palm trees but ended up leaving it out. That decision was made more because I was tired of working on it than because I thought it looked better without it.

The only other mural I have done was on the side of our house in an enclosed patio area. The total area was about 3' tall by about 60'. The walls were stucco and I used house paint. That really used a lot because the texture of the stucco used up so much paint. I painted the patio mural about 3 years ago and it looks exactly the same as it did then and doesn't look like it has faded at all. One wall gets sun all day and it looks no different than the walls in the shade. Since that was painted, I've been told that artist acrylics are very different than acrylic house paint because there is much more pigment and acrylic binder in the artist acrylics which should make them a better quality paint.

I bought some cheap acrylics (artist acrylic) to use on this mural because I thought I was going to use a lot of paint like I did in my first mural and I didn't want to waste my Golden acrylics. I figured even cheap artist acrylic would be better than using house paint. That old adage "you get what you pay for" was really true in this case. The new acrylics had the same pasty texture as my 20 year old acrylics had. I threw those old ones away and the same will probably happen with the new ones. There was so much drag, even when I was using matte medium to thin them, and that was making me curse. If you are thinking of buying acrylics and want to know what NOT to buy, send me an e-mail and I will tell you the brand name.

I've posted the work in progress photos below. You can probably see the hammock drawn in the first and second photos. Let me know if you think I should add it or not. Also, I had originally intended to have bougainvillea in the foreground. What do you think?

Costa Brava Palms
Image size 44" x 57"

Monday, March 22, 2010


It looks like the fish on the left is telling tales, the fish in the middle is shocked and the fish on the right is coming closer to see what he is missing. That is why I titled this one "Gossip".
This is a round piece of paper and is handmade. I love the deckle edge all the way around. I got it in Santa Monica at Hiromi Paper Co. They have so many beautiful handmade papers and rice papers. I have 4 more of these to play with in the future. I was told that there wasn't any sizing on the paper so I painted a 50/50 mixture of matte medium and water to seal the paper before I started painting. That made painting it so much fun because the paint sat on the surface and did all kinds of interesting things. I was also able to lift paint. I can't wait to try another painting on this paper.

Image size 21.5" diameter

Friday, March 19, 2010

Abstract Still Life

If you've been to my blog before, you are probably checking to see if you are in the right place. Yes, this is very different from my usual style. This was a really fun exercise. I was at the Tustin Art League's monthly meeting and they had watercolor artist Victoria Templeton leading a quick workshop for us. I was apprehensive about participating because I usually over-think everything and spontaneous isn't a word people usually use to describe me. By looking at it as an exercise where I would create a mess and then throw it away, I was able to loosen up a bit. I don't know why I have such a hard time throwing anything away. I keep telling myself "It's only paper" but it doesn't seem to help.

There were 2 still life set ups. For the first painting, we wet the paper, drew the composition with charcoal and then added color. I was having a lot of fun with it and thought it was coming out okay but after it dried, it looked very muddy to me. My friend Beverly, who is an encaustic artist, took it to use as a jumping off point for an encaustic painting. I'm sure she will make it into something incredible.

The one pictured above is the second painting. I liked this set-up better. The first still life had some flowers in it that weren't particularly inspiring and I made them look even worse! For this exercise, we wet the paper (this one was Fabriano), dropped in color where we thought it should be and then, while the paper was still wet, we drew our composition in charcoal. Wow, this took me WAY outside of my comfort level. I had ONE try to get it drawn right because there's no way you can erase charcoal from wet paper without getting a muddy mess. That is why this is titled 'Abstract Still Life' so people will think I planned to draw it so wacky! Anyway, I am pretty happy with it even though the drawing is really out of perspective. I thought about adding more paint and noodling it to death once it had dried but decided that I liked its simplistic look. Oh, by the way, the reason my greens look so dead is because I was using a limited palette for this. Only three primary colors and I obviously didn't have the right blue (or maybe it was my yellow) to make a clear green. I will definitely try this technique again. I think it would be a great warm up exercise for every painting.

Abstract Still Life
Image Size 14" x 21"
Mixed Media

Monday, March 15, 2010

Drifting Dunes

Well, this is very different for me. I've done a pastel two weeks in a row. I really do enjoy working with pastels but I don't think to use it that often. This was done for the March virtual paintout challenge. This month the location is Stavanger, Norway. It really is a beautiful place. These sand dunes look like they should be in a much more southern locale, don't they? I used Canson Mi-Teintes paper as the support for this. I hadn't used that paper for quite awhile. I used the back side because I don't like the texture of the front side. It's hard to get the pastel down into the little squares that the texture creates. It is a nice surface and uses a lot less pastel that the sanded surfaces. Of course, it won't hold as much pastel as the sanded surfaces but that wasn't an issue with this painting because there's not an extreme amount much layering.

Stavanger, Norway
Image size 8" x 11"

Monday, March 8, 2010


This is my best friend, Sampson. We got him from the pound almost 9 years ago when he was 10 months old. This doesn't do him justice. He's not really this scruffy looking but I was having so much fun with his fur I got carried away with the texture. I think I gave him Terrier fur. Also, he's only got grey on his muzzle, toes and in his ears. I used a blue to give the highlights on the black but in this photo it reads more as grey fur. I'll fix that later. There are a couple of other things that don't look quite right so I'll look at it for a week or so and figure out where to take it.
Sampson is a German Shepherd/Rottweiler mix. We refer to him as our Shepweiler muttagree so that he doesn't have self-esteem issues. :-) Two breed mixes are the in thing right now so even though a Shepweiler isn't one of the recognized designer mixes, I don't think there could be a better mix. He is super smart, mellow, not an alpha dog, and he looks and sounds scary even though he is very sweet and would never hurt anyone. (Lizards and rabbits being the exception.) Actually, I think mutts from the pound make the BEST pets. I can't imagine finding a better dog than Sam anywhere.
I have been wanting to try painting his portrait for a long time. I even started one about a year ago using acrylic but I left the studio door open one day and a bird got in and pooped on it. It's not ruined but I guess I saw that as a sign that maybe it wasn't a successful painting. Everyone's a critic!

It took awhile to get a reference picture of Sam. Every time I pointed the camera at him he looked this way,
then that way. He refused to look at the camera.
I swear he was doing it on purpose. He's either extremely camera shy or just getting cantankerous in his old age. Anyway, after two days, he finally gave up and I got the picture I wanted.
This painting is done in pastels and I probably will try to do another one in acrylic or oil in the future.

Image Size 13" x 18"

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Sunshine Award

I am so happy to have received the Sunshine Award from my blogging friend Deborah Younglao. She paints on silk and her paintings are beautiful and very creative. I hope you take the time to visit her blog.

I'm not really playing by the rules because I'm supposed to pick 12 blogs that are inspiring to me and pass this on but I can't seem to pick between all of the blogs that I follow and the bloggers that follow me soooooo, this goes out to all of you bloggers that use your blog to encourage and enlighten other artists - you know who you are!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Picture Perfect

This is a painting that I did about 4 months ago to enter into a juried contest. At the time, I was getting ready to go out of town and was rushing - never a good way to get a successful painting. My original idea was to show how we focus on flowers when looking at a plant. I wanted the three flowers to be three snapshots that brought your eyes to the beauty of the flowers. My plan was to have the background very faded and the snapshots much brighter to show how we really don't usually pay attention to the other parts of the plant. (Of course we, as artists, probably do notice the whole plant.)

I thought it was a good idea but it didn't come across as I wanted for two main reasons. First, choosing yellow flowers was a mistake because yellow has such a light value intensity even at it's brightest so by also having the background light, my flowers didn't really pop. I did make the blue more intense in the snapshot area too but it wasn't enough. Secondly, there was too much background that was faded looking and the whole painting was too washed out. I've cropped out about 3 inches from the bottom because there was still too much background. It may be too bottom heavy now. I only cropped it in the photo so I can change my mind on that part.

I wasn't sure how to fix it without losing my original idea. I looked at it for months with no idea. Finally, I decided to darken the background but use muted, more drab colors to bring the attention to the snapshots. The finished painting is actually a bit brighter than this photo shows it to be. Below is the original painting before I "fixed" it. I'm still not sure it really gets my idea across as strongly as I would like but I do think the value contrasts are better in the above painting. I would love to hear your comments or ideas to make it better. I may do a series using this idea. I think that would be fun. By the way, no, the painting didn't get juried into the show. I didn't think it would and in fact I would have been embarrassed if it had. I only entered it because I plan to enter as many contests as I can as a way to push myself and didn't have any other paintings I wanted to enter.

If you like this original painting better - too bad. It's forever altered. Although if you do feel that way I would like to know.
Picture Perfect
Image Size 22" x 15"

March 2nd post script: I took a new picture of the re-done painting that shows the color better and I "uncropped" the bottom so if you are looking at this post for the first time, don't be confused. The bottom painting is cropped, the top painting isn't.
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