Saturday, September 26, 2015

A Reminder of Things Seen

45x45 acrylic on canvas

Cliff Face
acrylic on canvas board

Sometimes I see things that just make an immediate impression on me.  Things hit me over the head and they are hard to miss.  These paintings are the result of that first immediate impression.  They were also an excuse for me to play with new Charvin acrylic paints - which I love!

I created several sketches while in Maine this summer.  They were impact sketches.  Sketches from memory of what I saw and felt when looking at the rocky shoreline from a boat on a nature cruise.  The boat pulled close to shore on the way back and the colors, shapes, lines of the rocks just made me say "wow"  to myself many times.  I clicked away with my cell phone camera as much as I could.  I knew there was a lot of abstrction to mine from the rocky shore.  This is a real departure from my current garden series but both are inspired by an impression on me of something seen.  I will continue to play with this in the coming months.  I dream of going back and drawing on the spot.  Maybe a kayak with a sketch pad?  

Salvia is based on the bright red plant that is in my garden.  I stood there looking at the red flowers last week and a hummingbird came by and fed on the flowers for a long time ignoring me in the process.  It was a magical moment for me. They are a brilliant red right now and are surrounded by other flowers which are fading in the autumn.  I do enjoy my garden series and will also play with various color schemes throughout the fall and winter.  Most of what I do now is based on sketches and not photos.  Drawing has become very important to me.  I may revert back to some photo references but I never draw from the photograph exclusively.  It is only a reminder of things seen.  

Saturday, September 19, 2015


50 x 50
acrylic on canvas

I began this painting this morning.  I had some vague ideas in mind and that was a dark area and some more neutral "fall like" colors.  I did several garden inspired paintings with pinks and reds and want to get away from those for awhile.  I am keeping with the same process of using my plant contour drawings for the basis of line work.  I will finish this one up tomorrow and probably lighten and brighten some areas a little.  I do enjoy working large.  It is enjoyable getting lost in the surface and process.  I also like being able to create interesting spaces in different areas.  

Friday, September 4, 2015

Acadia Garden

Acadia Garden
24x30 acrylic on canvas

I spent a lot of time drawing from flowers both at home and in Maine at a wonderful garden.  Pictures of the garden are on my previous post.  Time drawing and looking at flowers come back to me when I am painting.  I remember the colors of flowers, their lines, the sun and spaces between leaves.  Those memories come back and inspire my choices while painting.  I do hope these memories will stay with me as I continue to paint throughout the fall and winter.  I have used some different colors this summer in my paintings.  I have used some light and medium magenta, orange and reds along with yellow greens, gray and white.  I will continue to explore the garden theme with new sizes and formats.  My next one may be a deeper red on a square format.  

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Images from Maine Workshop

Drawing from nature in a Maine garden

Developing beginning compositions

Working larger

Creating diptychs

Lobster boats


Here are some images from my workshop at Acadia Workshop Center in Maine.  Ten artists from various parts of the U.S. came to Maine to vacation and work abstractly for the week.  It was a wonderful group of artists who really all produced unique, individual visions in both pastel and acrylic works.  Two artists had not worked with pastel previously but I think went home as pastel enthusiasts.  It is always exciting to me to see the direction people take their works.  I also love the energy of a group and the way people learn as much from each other as they do from the instructor (me).  I always learn new things from artists when I teach a workshop as well.  I discover new materials and ways of working.  And all of the personal sharing and funny stories are great!  I'll be returning to Acadia Workshop Center in 2017 to teach another workshop.  I'll be there much the same time during August.  

It has also been a very busy summer for me in other ways.  I just shipped three paintings to Cortile Gallery in Provincetown, Massachusetts for an invitational exhibit during September.  I have an upcoming show at Quad City Arts Center with good friend Larry Jon Davis that runs from September to end of October.  I have a painting in a showcase home in Atlanta for This Old House.  It was chosen from Ugallery.  I will also be sending a few works to John Brown University in Arkansas for a special invitational exhibit as well.  Whew!  Lots going on.  And I've gotten a lot of painting in both pastel and acrylics done this summer.  Excited about the direction they are both taking now.  

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Be Okay with Not Knowing

22x17 pastel on paper

Several years ago a friend gave me a necklace with the quote  "Not all who wander are lost."  This was significant to me and I know it is an important quote for others.  What does it have to do with art and working abstractly?  Many times I don't know where I'm going with what I am doing.  It can be uncomfortable but I guess I'm used to it now.  In the beginning I wanted some idea of how to do things and what to do next.  Now I question and try to search without knowing where I am going to end up.  I think it is a good thing.  I ask myself often "what would happen if I do this" and then I try it to see what will happen.  Sometimes it goes in the garbage.  Sometimes it helps me find something new but it may take ten experiments.  I reach a plateau where I think I have a handle on a process and then I get dissatisfied.  I want to go somewhere else but I'm not sure where so I begin this experimentation and try to enter into a frame of mind where I don't care about outcomes.  That is where I've been this summer.  I've taken to covering up old pastel paintings with clear gesso.  I didn't learn this from anyone but just wanted to try it.  I had never used clear gesso before but I had heard someone mention it online or elsewhere that it had as much tooth as pastel ground.  So I took a big brush loaded with clear gesso and covered up one of my pastel paintings.  It created a really dull neutral ground when all of the pastels were mixed together but I really liked the texture and feel.  One experiment led to another and another and now I am at work covering up a lot of older works.  So my wandering around has been important lately.  I am discovering new ways of working - again.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Create with No End in Mind

pastel on paper

pastel on paper

21.5 x 21.5 inches

Right now I am in a period of experimentation with my pastels.  I am creating with no end in mind.  I am not working towards a show, competition or gallery right now.  I only want to work to discover and uncover.  I am trying out different gessos.  I have been using the pastel ground for quite some time and I do like it very much.  Right now I am looking at using different gessos with my pastels so I have been experimenting with white, black and clear gesso.  I am also applying gesso on top of previously completed pastels to see what will happen.  I find it is really important to take the time to just "do" with no expected outcomes.  If it doesn't work it goes in the garbage.  I may discover a new way of working.  

I am preparing for my first workshop at the Acadia Workshop Center in Bernard, Maine.  I am really looking forward to this workshop.  So far there are 9 artists attending.  It is a wonderful location that should be very inspiring.  The setting will influence all that takes place during the week.  It will be nice for people to have four days of working and it will be a relaxing environment for myself and everyone else.  

Sunday, June 21, 2015


Coneflower in the Garden
acrylic painting
Inspired by the Garden
acrylic painting

Summer is here!  I love summer.  I spend a lot of time outside after being cooped up during the winter.  I get a lot of ideas at this time of the year.  Its great to feel the energy of nature.  I sit on my porch every morning, listen to the birds and wind chimes.  I journal and I record ideas in sketch books.  I do a lot of pondering.  I also buy flowers, plant them and then draw from them.  I use these drawings later and maybe even into the winter months.  I get ideas when I am riding my bike or playing golf which are totally separate from my art but important activities.  These other activities bring balance, relaxation and fun into my life.  I'm enjoying this down time before heading off to my next teaching workshop.  It took me several days to wind down from IAPS!  It was a whirlwind trip for me with a lot of activity.  I hope that I can attend the next convention in 2017 and spend more time being a volunteer, attending workshops and visiting with my pastel friends.  It has been an honor for me to teach the past two conventions.  So happy to meet many other pastel artists, have a chance to talk with a few and see such amazing pastel paintings.  I encourage you to attend the IAPS convention if you have not done so.  If you are a pastel artist it is where you need to be.

Next on my travels is the Acadia Workshop Center in Maine!  Maybe I will see you there.