Sunday, March 23, 2014

First Shot at Plein Air

Today I met some friends at Cook's Butte in Lake Oswego for some painting. What an incredible day it was! Today was one of those day's that we're soooo very glad to live in Oregon. The trees were just magnificent; true majesty and a feast for the eye. I really didn't give much attention to my painting to be honest, I was completely distracted by  the sun, the breeze the overwhelming visual display before me. So, I sort of dove into my piece with no planning whatsoever, which wasn't too very wise given that this was my first plein air painting outing in months. I ended up with the my composition being very centered and my barn being too big. I wanted the trees to have more dominance and height because they were primarily what I was interested in.

All that being said, I didn't care too much. I was so enjoying simply being outdoors, mixing the colors, smelling the paint, the trees, the grass. The fact that my painting wasn't all that it might have been was really fine.

So sweet was the day....One of my friends painted nearby. He got totally frustrated with his painting to the point were expletives were flying, brushes were thrown to the ground. I was laughing! Finally after a cool down, he asked me to work on it. Reluctant to put on my teacher hat, I spent just a couple minutes simplifying shapes and adjusting values, all with a big smile on my face and my music pouring into my head. His painting was still a mess, when I packed up and headed home. I needed to call it a day on the early side. This evening I received a message from my friend with a pic of the BEAUTIFUL piece that he'd transformed his F*@!IN painting into. Wow. So nice. Just goes to show what a little refocus can do for you.

The other email I received this evening as a result of the painting day was from Rick. He'd stopped by to chat with us. Telling us that he owned the property the barn I was painting sat on and he liked to come over and take pictures of us whenever he happened to see painters capturing the barn. He was charming!

So, lackluster painting aside, it was a fantastic day. I'm excited for much more of the same in the coming months!

Happy Painting!!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Awareness of Wholeness

Painting is an amazing endeavor that I learn all my life's lesson from. When painting, if you focus attention on the details, you quickly get stuck and lose site of the whole. You can't rest your attention in a particular spot, you have to be scanning the whole, taking it all in, developing the entire painting as you go. Awareness, not attention to detail. Awareness is a gift; attention to a given spot gets you stuck. Don't get stuck on a seeming mistake, let your paintings develop organically, holistically. If one spot isn't quite right, leave it be and turn to another area of the piece, then return to the unresolved area and see if it has indeed resolved itself. More often than not, it will have.

 Paintings, like everything else, are a series of relationships; color, shapes, elements in relationship to one another. Nothing in your painting exists on it's own. Not one thing. So, making a judgement on one element makes absolutely no sense. All of it must be seen as a whole. There are no clouds without the sky, no shadows without the light.

Summer Walk available thru DPW $150.
Ok, now for the shameless self promotion part of this post. Not only do I have a new website:, I also have a new Etsy Store called SpiritforArt This shop is featuring my florals, goddesses new explorations.  I'm also posting demos and small works on Daily Paint Works; It's about time I got this going!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Art Extravaganza and Trees, Skies & Water

Another very fun and full workshop was concluded on Sunday afternoon. We made the most of a quick two days; lots of information, demos and PROGRESS!! What a wonderful group right here in Portland! I was impressed by the painters and by how quickly they processed the rapid fire concepts that I was throwing at them! We took a breather after the first day and visited one of Milwaukie's "hot spots", Wine 30 after class. Fifteen of my variations are hanging there. It was great to chat with my students outside of class. On Sunday morning, I thought sure I was coming down with a cold and doubted my ability to get out of bed for a few moments! Luckily it didn't amount to anything but a horse voice. Whew!!

Day two went by even more quickly than day one and before you knew it, we were doing the closing critique and a group photo! Wow!! Thank you so much to everyone who attended. It was a super group!

Yesterday was Art extravaganza; Tools and Materials show hosted by Clackamas County Arts Action Alliance! I was invited to do a demo which was super fun. Not only did I get to catch up with lots of artist friends and meet new ones, I got to spend three full leisurely hours on a demo. I'm usually feeling a bit rushed during my demos, so I can get my students to work! Here is the result. I like it! This piece is available for sale on Daily Paintworks! It was done on green Colorfix paper, built with lots of thin layers.

Happy Painting!!

Thursday, March 6, 2014


Signing a piece is a gesture of approval and an acknowledgement of finishing. It's important. A good signature can enhance a painting and a bad one, really, really detract. So it's something to give some thought to. My signature has evolved over time. When I started painting, I signed my whole name and signed pretty much like I signed my checks. Over time, I've dropped my first name and sign with only my last. This is not because I'm trying to disguise the fact that I'm a women, but because it's more pleasing to me.
How I sign pastels

Placement in lower right corner

Here are a few things to consider when signing your pieces

  1. Design - Give thought to what your signature is made up of. My signature now is more of a "mark" a logotype than my legal signature. The letters are always canted to the left and simple strokes stand in for the letters. This has really evolved over time.
  2. Size - I give some consideration to the size of the signature. It of course depends on the size of the piece. I make the scale of the signature appropriate to the size of the painting. 
  3. Media - I usually sign my pastels with a Nupastel, but will sometimes use a regular pencil or a Carb Othello pastel pencil. I sign my paintings in whatever medium I'm using and try to do it before they are varnished so the signature doesn't have a mat finish that is different from the rest of the piece.
  4. Color and Value - I want my signature to be visible, but I don't want it to stick out like a sore thumb. I usually avoid black and pick something middle value. Lately, I've found a middle red to be satisfying. 
  5. Placement - Again, I want the signature to be visible, but not first read, so I'm not hiding it and I'm not letting it scream either. I usually place it in either the lower left or right corner. I place mine on a horizontal, I don't place it on an angle. This is personal preference.

I also don't put all the letters I've earned after my name, like PSA, MC etc. I really don't think most buyers really care and it messes up the look of my signature. Again, this is just my personal preference!

Happy Painting!!