Sunday, January 31, 2016


Yellow Garden Abstraction
oil on stretched canvas
20x20 inches

This small oil painting has a lot of elements that I have been looking for.  I really look forward to painting more in the future.  I turned an acrylic painting upside down and used some of what I had painted as a foundation for this one.  I had been thinking about a yellow painting so I selected a variety of yellows, plus umber, ochre and white.  It can be so hard to synthesize a process.  Seems to take me years and years of trial and error to get where I want to go.  I have finally made some decisions about abstraction and abstract realism.  My bouquets will only be in pastel from now on.  I don't even want to try them in any painting medium as I can't replicate them in paint.  I've had gallery owners tell me they like them but want me to paint them.  I'm done with that.  Can't be done - by me anyway.  The magic, if there is magic, in the bouquets is the pastel medium itself.  My abstracted gardens will be primarily pastel also but I will use them for inspiration in acrylic and oil painting.  My purely abstract paintings will be in a mixed media approach of acrylic and oil.  All will be inspired by my garden drawings which I will continue to do.  I want a flow between all approaches and I think I am finally beginning to get there.  I won't be painting or posting for awhile.  I will be looking at a lot of art, teaching workshops and visiting galleries.  I also hope to do some more drawing from life in my sketchbooks and generating lots of ideas.  

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Striving Day by Day

Garden Impression 
24x36 oil on canvas

Oil or acrylic?  I've been painting on canvas with acrylics for the most part.  I love the speed of working as I really like to work fast.  I also like the luminous appearace of oil paints and the fact that they do not dry as quickly.  I will end up merging the two in the future.  I created a painting recently that I felt was really "dull" and had no sparkle to it so I got out my water miscerable oil paints.  I've used them before but not with a whole lot of success.  I painted over my acrylic painting with some oils.  I have since tried a couple more oil paintings and this is my last one.  This one is closer to what I am hoping to achieve.  Not quite there but closer.  I want a layered appearance, some open and undeveloped areas, lines from my plant drawings and mark making to echo some of my pastels.  I would really like to do with paint what I can do with pastels and that has always been challenging.  I love the pastels.  They really are my domain but I also really enjoy painting.  I keep striving to get somewhere.  Trying to improve day by day.  

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Shadows and Light

Shadows and Light
22x30 pastel on Rives paper

I'm very partial to this pastel painting.  I've left the Maine cliff series for awhile as I just wasn't able to get what I was after and I have returned to my garden memory paintings.  With each one I can explore different colors, compositions, line placement and values.  They are part memory and part total invention for me.  This is what I will stay with for the future however long that is.  Life is a garden.  There are shadows and there is light.  Things are blooming and things are decaying.  Always evolving into something else.   I began this one with just a few thoughts in mind.  I wanted a more monochromatic painting with some more subtle color and I wanted a large dark area. Everything else just evolved as I worked.  I think this one will end up going to France along with a large bouquet and a smaller bouquet.  I'm off next week to travel and teach two workshops.  Looking forward to being warm, experiencing new things and meeting pastel artists at the two workshops in Dunedin and Phoenix.  

Monday, January 11, 2016

Memories of a Garden

Memories of a Garden
22x28 acrylic on canvas panel  (available on Etsy)

I have probably written about this before but I will again.  Drawing is the most fundamental foundation of everything I do.  It all begins and ends with drawing.  My small studio is lined with drawings I have done of plants and flowers.  I would say that the act of drawing is what I enjoy most about creating art.   Drawing informs me, centers me and inspires me.  It takes me out of myself and helps me to transcend and be in the moment.  I remember when I first learned about blind contour drawing in college.  We were sitting outside drawing plants on the hillside.  We were told to not look at our paper but instead to think of the pencil as an extension of our fingers.  Imagine touching what you were looking at.  Let your finger follow the edges and folds slowly.  Really look and touch the subject.  And if you really wanted to learn more about something you should draw it or them.  That has stuck with me over the years.  Touching, drawing and not focusing on what is happening on paper.  So I have returned to making this an important part of what I do.  Those "touching drawings" inspire everyting that I do.  I created them once in nature and now reference their lines and movements in all of my paintings and pastels.  I seldom use photos now.  I have found there is more "life" in my drawings than in a photo.  If I have actually drawn something in life I can reference the photo.  If I depend on a photo it just doesn't have enough life in it for me.  I get too caught up in details.  I look forward to getting outside again and drawing by a garden.  

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Bonne Annee mes amis!

Acadia Cliffs
16x26 pastel on paper

This pastel is very different from the one before.  I enjoyed creating this one and plan to do several more in this series which is inspired by the rocky shoreline of Acadia National Park as seen from a nature tour boat.  I was awestruck when I saw the coast.  I couldn't take enough photos.  I thought it was one of the most beautiful things I have seen.   Sometimes I wonder if it is my Irish heritage that draws me to places like this.  This one piece will inspire additional pastels and maybe even acrylic paintings.  

It is that time of the year where I ponder where I've been and look forward to the year ahead.  I realize again that I have much to be grateful for and I am.  And I also have the thought from a very familiar 12 step program "God is doing for me what I could not do for myself".  Many things I am now doing come from prayers to my higher power many years ago.  It is true.  

So, I look to the future with expectation.  I am painting pastel paintings to be shipped to France.  I am getting ready to begin my workshop travels and really look forward to meeting other artists.  I love being around other artists and sharing in the creative energy of the group.  Every location holds a lot of excitement and potential.  Workshop locations also help me to connect with important people in my life.  I will attend a workshop myself this year in Maine!  I look forward to expanding my vision for my own work and receiving feedback from Steven Aimone and other artists.  This will be the third workshop I have ever attended.  I'm ready for this one and think it is due.  It is important to always keep learning and reaching. I am never satisfied!  I always want more.  

And maybe I will learn French this year.  So, Bonne Annee mes amis!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

France Invitational

Red Bouquet
22x15 pastel on paper

This is one of my most recent pastel bouquets.  I try to create bouquets in acrylic but just can't seem to pull them off - for now.  Pastel just works so well for bouquets.  Those immediate color choices, marks and layering cannot be replicated with acrylics,  And then there is the velvety luminescence of the pastel.  This also cannot be replicated in other mediums.  

I have been invited to send three pastel paintings to International Salon of  Pastels in St, Auylaye, France this summer.  The exhibit is sponsored by Pastels en Perigord.  I was selected by a selection committee of famous international pastel artists.  How cool is that!  I will ship three of my works and they will be framed by the pastel organization for the exhibit.  I will not be able to attend as I will be teaching a workshop in Massachusetts at the same time.  I am thrilled to be included.  I will most likely be sending floral abstractions in pastel.  This next week I plan to devote my time to pastel bouquets.  I do enjoy painting these.  I always begin with blind contour drawing of the bouquet and use the drawing as a loose reference as well as the actual bouquet.  The result ends up being much more expressive than using a photograph.  I have really gotten away from the use of photos in most of my work.  I do rely on them during workshops though as I think they are helpful for artists beginning to work abstractly.  

My Etsy shop has done very well since getting it up and running again.  I will continue to add new works as time goes by.  I have so many older works in my collection!  I would love to find them a new home.  

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

My Etsy Shop

Welcome Bouquet
10x6 pastel on paper

I am having fun with my Etsy shop.  I have such a collection of small works, demos and older pastel paintings.  I decided to put them on Etsy at a reduced price and keep  my larger and more current works on my website.  I have been very happy that people have been purchasing them.  Thank you!  The sales helped me pay for my new sump pump!  The sales will also help me to purchase some of those extra large Art Spectrum pastels which are my new pastel love.  Amazing colors and I love the neutrals.  I will be using some of the Art Spectrum pastels to create some new works to send to France for a special invitational exhibit.  More on that as it gets confirmed and I have more information. 

I will continue to add smaller and medium sized works to the Etsy site.  You can get there by clicking on the link in this blog.