Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Buzz and Baby

This is a Christmas present for a good friend of mine. Buzz is the sweetest dog you’d ever meet. He’s also my dog’s boyfriend (does she have good taste or what?). They are fun to watch together – she puts up with his kisses, and even shares her bones and toys with him, something she’s never done with any other dog. When the family took in two underage kittens, Buzz was their surrogate dad, allowing them to snuggle with him and even try to nurse. I've painted him with one of the babies as a Christmas gift to his mom. Isn’t he handsome?

Soft Pastels on Suede Matboard

Happy Holidays to you all!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Painting Different Folks

This is my portrait for the current Different Strokes From Different Folks challenge. We were paired anonymously with another artist and given their photo. Since no one was going to see the reference photos, we could free ourselves up and use unusual colors or not even worry about getting a good likeness. Sounded like wild and crazy fun to me.

I had just finished rereading “Harley Brown’s eternal truths for every artist” when I received my photo reference, so I grabbed a piece of suede matboard and smeared pastel over it to “show it who’s boss,” as Harley advised. I was really impressed with myself for a couple of seconds, but I had no idea what to do next (I thought I had learned something reading that book, but it’s so easy to get distracted by the pictures). So I decided to block in the shapes as usual, but do it colorfully with blues, greens, yellows and oranges. Am I wild and crazy or what? It didn’t last long, though.

Here’s what I learned about myself: I have to get a good likeness. I can’t not do it. It makes me crazy. I started layering on normal colors and turned it upside down to check my proportions. Pretty soon my portrait was looking like the original photo. Just to compensate for my boringness, I put some wild color into the background. Plus, I’m slightly off and I’m not even going to correct it. Yep, that’s me, living on the edge.

Soft Pastel on Suede Matboard

One thing that did stick with me from Harley's book was this: "You can't go looking for style."

Thursday, December 11, 2008


I painted this for the current challenge on the Different Strokes From Different Folks blog. Since this was a simple subject, Karin suggested we push ourselves in a different direction. That was truly my intention when I started this painting. I blocked in the basic shapes with the side of a pastel, and everything was going fine. But then my brain took over and by the time I realized it was not going how I’d originally intended, I was having too much fun to stop.

Soft Pastel on Suede Matboard
Speaking of fun, I got a nice surprise when the results for last month's EBSQ shows were tallied. In the Portrait Swap show, my portrait of Frankie won Member’s Choice award, and Tracey & Poe won Patron’s Choice. My portrait of Obama won Member’s Choice in the Campaign Art Show. Thanks to all who voted for my work! It was definitely a fun surprise!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Buddha & Hydrangeas

This is my submission for the latest challenge from Karin Jurick’s Different Strokes From Different Folks blog. I procrastinated on this one, so I painted it in pastel in order to finish it quickly. This time I blocked in the shapes, then refined from there. I originally left out the thin vase directly behind the Buddha, but I wasn’t wild about the empty space. I thought it might look better with the vase and the reflection, so I drew it in. I’m not sure I like it better, but since it’s there now I’m going to pretend I do.

Soft Pastels on Suede Matboard

I used mostly Sennelier soft pastels on this painting because I wanted to see how they work on suede matboard. I’m impressed! There was very little dust, and the color stays put. After using them on velour paper, I was ready to give up the Senneliers, so I’m thrilled they work so well on the suede matboard. They are so nice and soft and creamy, and I love them.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Portrait of Frankie

This is my second and last portrait for EBSQ’s 2008 Portrait Swap, the lovely Frankie Paquin. I had three photos to choose from, but this one appealed to me the most. It was also the most difficult composition. I left the mirror until I was three quarters of the way finished, mostly because I was dreading it. Sometimes when I’m painting things like that I get confused and I can’t really see it correctly. In the end, it was easier than I thought it would be. I just started placing the highlights in the approximate place I thought they should be, then went progressively darker. Of course, it’s not exactly accurate, but I was more concerned with getting the feel of the mirror than an exact replica.

Soft Pastels on Suede Matboard

Friday, November 21, 2008

I'm IT!

Apparently, you’re never too old to play tag. I just got tagged by Vern Schwarz. Here are the rules:

1. Place a link to the person that tagged you
2. List seven unusual things about yourself
3. Tag (and link to) seven other artists at the end of your post, and post on their blogs to let them know they’ve been tagged.

It took me a long time to think up seven things about myself. I don’t know why they feel like confessions, but given the subtitle of my blog I suppose it’s appropriate:

1. I used to draw incessantly when I was a kid (pre-teen/teenager) and then went cold turkey with my art until a couple of years ago. Now I’m even more obsessed than I was back then.

2. I sometimes have a major “ugly stage” where I hate whatever I’m working on, and I seriously consider trashing it. Once in a while I actually do give up and start over, but usually I keep working and it ends up okay. After realizing that this is just part of my process, I have made peace with the ugly stage. I don’t look forward to it, but I don’t have to talk myself off a ledge either.

3. (Okay, here’s a gross one which shows my desperation in thinking up interesting things.) In high school, my best friend and I shared a locker. Just to amuse ourselves, when we were finished with our chewing gum we would stick it inside the door of the locker, especially in the ventilation slots (it stuck better there). People would walk by and comment on how disgusting it was, then ask if they could add their gum to it. It was really a work of art, a sort of community project. Until someone ratted us out, or else one of the teachers noticed gum poking out the slots, and we had to take it all down.

4. I never took art classes because I didn’t think it was possible to have a career in art (the whole “starving artist” thing seemed unappealing). In fact, I wanted to be an architect until I took my first (and last!) architecture class in college. Some of the things they made us do were mind-numbingly tedious.

5. My husband and I both grew up in southern California. It took me a few years, but I finally persuaded him to move to Washington, even though I had never been here before and we didn’t know anyone who lived here. I know it’s strange, but I just knew this was where I was supposed to be. We’ve been here 16 years now and are very happy.

6. I used to go on autopilot whenever I would drive. I’d miss my offramp, or go the wrong way and not know it, until I would all of a sudden become aware that I was completely lost. When I got pregnant with my first child and had gotten lost on the way to my OB/GYN appointment for the third time, I decided I had to change. It’s extremely rare that it happens these days, but my kids think it’s hilarious when it does. I’m just grateful my car has a navigation system.

7. I purposely chose April 15 for my wedding day because I knew it would be impossible for me to forget our anniversary. It worked. And as a bonus, we’re always motivated to get our taxes done early so we don’t ruin our anniversary with tax stress.

Now that you know more about me than you ever wanted to know, here are the artists I’m tagging: Pat Burns, Tracey Allyn Greene, Tif Matthews, Kim Niles, Frankie Paquin, Heather Simms, and Torrie Smiley. It may take them a while, or they may not want to play, and that's okay, too. :)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Upside Down Walker

When I saw this week’s upside down challenge on the Different Strokes From Different Folks blog, I quickly decided I would do it in pastel. I often paint upside down and knew that it would be easiest for me in pastel. My husband pointed out that it was supposed to be a challenge, and this was a perfect opportunity for me to try to paint loose.

He did have a point. Painting it upside down would take my brain out of the process, and maybe I could paint it loose. I decided I would draw it out first. This seems counter-intuitive, but I think when I don’t draw it first I’m so obsessed with getting everything correct that I can’t concentrate on how I’m painting. So I drew out my composition (upside down, of course!) and went to work. I didn’t like how the reference photo made the woman look like she had laser vision or something, so I changed the background a bit, and flipped and cropped the original.

We’re allowed to spruce it up a bit after we turn it right side up, but I decided not to. I didn't want to re-work anything and take away the point of the challenge. It was a good learning experience (even though it would have looked better in pastel!).

Here it is, painted entirely upside down except for my signature.

Oil on Board

Friday, November 14, 2008

Another Portrait on Velour Paper

This is a portrait of artist Tracey Allyn Greene and her cat. I had planned on painting Tracey in oils, but when I saw her photo with Poe, I decided to use soft pastels on velour paper instead. After I was about two hours into the process, I realized that my choice of paper wasn’t a good one. I debated trashing it, but Tracey was already alive on the page, so I decided to persevere. Although I wish I had done it on suede matboard instead, I’m pretty happy with the results.

Tracey & Poe
12” x 9”
Soft Pastels on Velour Paper

Friday, November 7, 2008


Soft Pastel on Suede Matboard

I decided to do this week’s challenge for the Different Strokes From Different Folks blog in pastel, simply as a time saver. My projects are piling up, and I needed to do something quick.

I cropped the original photo to focus mainly on the shadows, used a pastel pencil to sketch out my composition, then layered on the pastel. Simple, quick, and easy! I love it when that happens. Sometimes the struggle is fun, or at least rewarding in some way, but the lack of struggle is always refreshing.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

U.S. Capitol

If anyone wonders why I want to learn to paint loose, last week’s Different Strokes From Different Folks challenge is the perfect example. This is not something that I would normally choose to paint, mostly because of all the detail involved. It would just be too tedious.

When I saw the reference photo, I was determined to paint it loose and expressive. (That actually happens every time, but this time I knew I would do it!) I chose a small board and didn’t sketch it out first, didn’t even allow myself a paint sketch. I just picked up a brush and started blocking it in. A perfect recipe for loose, right? An hour later I had to laugh at myself. Loose and expressive clearly isn’t my thing. And I’m not going to get frustrated anymore because it isn’t. It is what it is.

What I did find, though, is that giving up my expectation of painting it loose and expressive did free me up a bit, so that’s worth something! I didn’t worry so much about it being perfect. If it wasn't smooth enough, too bad. If I accidentally put things in the wrong place (and I did!), I just let it be. And it did turn out pretty loose, for me. Painting it was a liberating experience, even if it wasn’t as loose as I wanted it to be.

Maybe I’ll surprise myself with this week’s challenge and truly paint it loose, and maybe I won’t. Either way, I’m okay with that.

Oil on Board

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

An Alabama Cow

Oil on Canvas

This is my submission for this week’s challenge on Karin Jurick’s “Different Strokes From Different Folks” blog. Once again, my goal was to do something quick and loose. I failed on both counts. It’s somewhat loose, but not quite my goal, and I messed with it way too long.  I thought you might like to see a couple of WIP pics of my process.

I started out fine. I did a loose and sloppy sketch with thinned out paint on a toned canvas:

Then I slopped some paint around:

Then I did too much refining. After my husband looked at it and said, “What happened to loose?” I went back over it and slopped some paint on it again and tried to be messy.

Maybe somewhere between picture 2 and 3 would have been a good stopping point. I’m finding it very frustrating that I can’t seem to do loose well, but I’m not going to give up. Yet.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

New York Stock Exchange

This is my version of Karin Jurick’s photo of the New York Stock Exchange, painted for the Different Strokes From Different Folks blog. This was a good challenge for me. It is something I never would have chosen to paint. The photo is a huge scene of the NYSE, and I had no desire to paint the whole thing! I cropped the original picture a few different ways, and chose the one I liked best. But I really wanted the guy with the red coat, so I changed things around and painted off of two of the crops. I purposely chose a small surface for this painting, so it would be impossible for me to obsess and paint too much detail. It was a bit of a departure for me, but overall I’m happy with the way it turned out.

"Wall Street"
Oil on Board

Monday, October 13, 2008

Another Portrait

This is a small painting of my daughter. My intention when I started was to create something loose and expressive. So I didn’t draw it out first, I just blocked in the shapes and then refined from there. And refined, and refined. I should have stopped earlier, when it was still somewhat loose, but I couldn’t do it. I was obsessed. I finally stuck it in a frame to keep myself away from it. If it wasn’t framed, I’d still be working on it. A little blending here, a little shading there.

Soft Pastel on Suede Matboard

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Bean

I painted this for last week’s challenge on Karin Jurick’s “Different Strokes From Different Folks” blog. For some reason, it hasn’t shown up on the blog, though. Karin asked me if it was a digital painting, which isn’t allowed, so either she didn’t get my answer or she was just busy and it fell through the cracks. It is not a digital painting, though. It’s just me trying to paint loose!

“Cloud Gate”
Oil on canvas

This has to be the strangest thing I’ve ever painted. It messed with my mind. I thought I had shapes painted correctly, but when I’d walk away and come back to it, I would realize I didn’t. After repainting the buildings a couple of times, I had to resort to painting it upside down or sideways, just to get my brain to let go of what it thought was correct. It was a fun challenge, though!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Equality in Art

Do you remember when you were a kid and you thought everything had to be fair? Your sister got a brownie, and even if you didn’t really want one, you had to have one too. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be fair. Well, that’s spilled over into art at my house. My son is complaining that I’ve painted my daughter more than I’ve painted him. He's right, of course. Since I just painted a pastel of her as a baby, I decided to do one of him as a baby. Can’t get more fair than that, right?

This one is on La Carte paper, which is textured similar to sandpaper. It was really hard to get used to, and I made plenty of errors. Fortunately, this paper holds a lot of pastel. Once I figured out where I was off, it was easy enough to correct. One thing I really like about this paper is that it sharpens the pastel as you use it. Nice for details.

Soft Pastel on La Carte Paper

Friday, September 26, 2008


Soft Pastel on Suede Matboard

Fall is my favorite season. I love the crisp air and changing leaves, the smell of wet leaves and pine trees, and, of course, pumpkins! I’ve had pumpkins in mind for a painting, so when I saw Karin Jurick’s “Different Strokes from Different Folks” blog, I quickly decided to participate. What a fun idea! Each artist creates a piece based on the same photograph. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Pastel Portrait on Velour Paper

“New Hat”
Soft Pastels on Velour Paper

This is a portrait I did just for myself. I love the look of pet portraits on velour paper, but hadn’t yet done a people portrait using velour. I chose a picture of my daughter when she was a baby for my reference. Once I got the hang of layering colors to get the skin to look the way I wanted it to look, it was easy. I’m very happy with the results, and I love this velour paper! But I still have more papers to try, so stay tuned…

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Finished Oil Paintings

Oil on board
Untitled at the moment

I didn't get much artwork completed over the summer, with kids around all the time, vacations, and the usual summer distractions. These two paintings were my sole oil painting accomplishments, and it took all summer to complete them. I painted them at the same time so they would look like they belong together. I’m not planning more of these tiny paintings anytime soon! The figures are so small I often had to use a magnifying glass to paint the detail. But overall, I’m pleased with the way they turned out. They are untilted, but hopefully I’ll think up something clever soon (any suggestions?).

On a fun note, my pastel paintings “Annie” and “In Memory of Kacie” just won Member’s Choice and Patron’s Choice, respectively, in EBSQ’s Pet Portrait Swap show!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Annie: A Portrait

Soft Pastels

This is a painting I completed for the Pet Portrait Swap show on EBSQ. I love doing this kind of work. The instant gratification of pastels, the challenge of making the dog come to life, the pleasure I feel when I've accomplished my goal. Well, I suppose I feel that with all artwork, but the instant gratification aspect is what really compels me to use pastels. I just love them. The velour paper is perfect for fur. Not always easy to work on, but once you get the hang of it, the results are lovely.
Check out the Pet Portrait Swap on EBSQ.