Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Fowl Play

I painted this for the “Ripped Off” show on EBSQ but didn’t get it finished in time, so now it’s in the “Better Late Than Never” show. The object is to pair up with another artist and rip off their work.
I paired up with Lauren Abrams, whose still life paintings are awesome. I particularly enjoy her toy paintings. She arranges the toys to create a story, then gives the paintings clever titles. After looking through her work, I took a few of her toys and created my own story.

"Fowl Play"
8" x 10"
Soft Pastel on Suede Matboard

Saturday, December 19, 2009

DSFDF Portrait

This is my painting for the current Different Strokes From Different Folks challenge. The reference photo I received showed a pretty woman with dramatic back light.

Portrait of Dyanne Parker
10" x 8"
Soft Pastel on Suede Matboard
I've been planning for quite a while to make movies for YouTube, and I finally made my first one with this painting. Check it out!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Still Life in Soft Pastel

My friend Pat Meras (an extraordinarily talented pastel artist - check out her blog!) gave me a little white box lined with newspaper and filled with pears from her tree. I don't know whether Pat consciously tried to make this box of pears look so appealing, or if everything she touches turns out to be a work of art, but I knew I had to paint it. The pears were delicious, too. Thanks, Pat!

9.5" x 12.5"

Soft Pastel on La Carte

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Portrait of My Uncle

In the last two years, I've lost three people who were important to me. When I was a kid and first realized that we were all going to die some day, I felt gypped. And afraid. I didn't want to lose everyone I loved. I still don't. But that's part of life, isn't it? We will lose people we love until they lose us. I suppose the only positive aspect is that it teaches you to appreciate what you have while you have it. There was a line about life in a comic strip that has stuck with me: "It ain't nohow permanent."

I painted this portrait of my uncle, who passed away last year, as a gift for my aunt. He was a great man. I hope he knew we all thought so.

10" x 8"
Soft Pastel on Suede Matboard

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Traveler

I've just finished a very difficult commission which has taken up all my painting time over the last few weeks. I know, you thought I was sitting around eating bonbons and not working, and I can't even show you proof until after Christmas (the client is giving the painting as a Christmas gift). You'll just have to take my word for it that I was slaving away at my easel.

I was able to squeeze in some time to paint the current Different Strokes From Different Folks challenge, though, so I can show you that. I had intended to paint all three figures from the reference photo, but given the time crunch I decided I should make the composition easier. All those lost edges were fun to paint, and fun and easy was just what I needed after that commission!

The Traveler
6" x 6"
Soft Pastel on Suede Matboard
A couple of miscellaneous items:
Since I last posted, I have a new web site. My soft pastel demo is on my site, so those of you who were waiting for it can now access the demo at
Also, many people have tried to add me as a friend on Facebook over the last few months. I created an artist page on Facebook, so you can now join me there. Either click here, or in the blog sidebar. Thanks!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Cupcakes and More Cupcakes

I didn’t get a chance to participate in the Different Strokes From Different Folks challenge for week 46-48 when everyone painted cupcakes. It looked like it would be a fun subject to paint, so when I had the time I took a crack at it.

8” x 10”
Soft Pastel on Suede Matboard

I had so much fun painting them, but I really wanted to try the same subject on a different support. I heard about a new cupcake shop in Tacoma, so I drove over there looking for good references. I got them!

The shop is called “Sweet Things Cupcakes,” and is full of the most beautiful cupcakes I’ve ever seen. I didn’t get to try any of them because they weren’t gluten free, although the owner said they were planning on serving a gluten free cupcake eventually. The staff was very friendly and very kindly let me take some photos for references.

“Sweet Things”
9.5” x 12.5”
Soft Pastel on La Carte

If I could have eaten one, I’d have picked the Lemon Meringue (which I haven't painted yet). It looked fabulous! If you’re in the Proctor area of Tacoma, please stop by and try one so you can tell me all about it. I want to hear every yummy detail!

Saturday, October 10, 2009


Last night was the artists’ reception for the 7th Annual Peninsula Art League Open Juried Art Exhibition. I entered three pieces to the show, but only one got in, so I was feeling lucky to be included. Imagine my surprise when I found my painting had won Best in Show!

"Sunny Spot"
10" x 20"
Soft Pastel on Suede Matboard

My dog got a huge, well-deserved helping of turkey when I got home last night!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Pastel Dog Portrait

I painted this pooch for EBSQ’s Pet Portrait Swap ‘09. This year I paired up with one of my favorite EBSQ artists, Lauren Cole Abrams. Lauren doesn’t have a pet, so I painted her mother’s dog, Rocky.

10” x 8”
Soft Pastel on Suede Matboard

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Hawaii Bound

I’m off to Hawaii with my family for some serious relaxation, and hopefully lots of drinks with little umbrellas in them. Lest you think I’ve been slacking before vacation, I thought I’d post my most recently finished painting.

“Lunch Break”
11” x 14”
Soft Pastel on Suede Matboard
See you in a few weeks. Aloha!

My Paintings on Exhibit

My painting “Idle Moments” was juried into the Northwest Pastel Society’s 23rd Annual International Open Exhibit. You can see the exhibit at American Art Company in Tacoma through August 15, 2009, or view it online. Check out the gallery’s web site for info.

The artists participating in the Gig Harbor Open Studio Tour have art on display until August 28th, 2009 at the library in Gig Harbor. I have included a couple of my paintings (one of which won 3rd place at the Peninsula Art League’s Summer Show last weekend).

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Dog Painting From my Live Presentation Last Night

I’d like to thank all of you who attended my EBSQ Live! Presentation last night. It was great to meet some new people, and overall a very fun experience. Here is the painting I used for the demonstration. It is my dog, in one of her favorite sunny spots in the house. If you missed the demo, you can see it on my web site here.

"Sunny Spot"
10” x 20”
Soft Pastel on Suede Matboard

Saturday, July 11, 2009

A Live Presentation on Soft Pastels at EBSQ!

I have been asked by EBSQ to give a Live Presentation on soft pastels this Monday, 7/13/09 at 6:00 p.m. Pacific. Anyone can attend, and you’re all invited! The presentation will be held in EBSQ’s chat room. If you’re not a member of EBSQ, you’ll need to register as a patron (it’s free!) in order to attend. Then at 6:00 p.m. Pacific (look up the equivalent in your time zone) log into the chat room.

I’ll be talking about the materials I use, then going through a painting from start to finish, step by step. I’m using my dog as a subject.

I’d love to see you there!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Summer Bounty

This was painted for the Different Strokes From Different Folks blog. I started it last Thursday, thinking I’d whip it out really quick instead of waiting until the last minute. I was very impressed with myself for not procrastinating. Unfortunately, I only got it about half finished and didn’t have a chance to paint until now (no procrastination involved, honestly, just super busy). Still, I’m a week early, so that’s an improvement!

7" x 5"
Soft Pastel on Suede Matboard

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Here's one I just finished. It will be available this weekend, along with some of my other paintings, at the Peninsula Art League's sale during the Maritime Gig Festival, June 6 & 7. The sale will be set up in the old Ship to Shore building by the new museum. If you're close to Gig Harbor, make sure you stop by and see all the great original art!

3.25" x 5.25"
Soft Pastel on Suede Matboard

Thursday, May 21, 2009

New York Street

I painted this picture for the Different Strokes blog. Even though I had three weeks, I waited until the last day to paint this and got it in just under the wire. It’s not that I was procrastinating, I’ve just been really busy. Okay, I was procrastinating. I hate painting buildings. And I actually have been very busy, so it was easy to put off. It was just as well that I waited until the last day, because I didn’t have time to overwork it.

7" x 5"
Soft Pastel on Suede Matboard

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Springer Spaniel Portrait

This is a portrait of a beautiful tri-color Springer Spaniel named Cassidy. I donated a pet portrait to English Springer Rescue America (ESRA) for a fundraising auction, and Cassidy's parents were the winning bidders.

10" x 8"
Soft Pastel on Suede Matboard

Friday, April 17, 2009

Diana’s Companion

7" x 5"
Soft Pastels on Suede Matboard

People have been asking me lately about my process. Unfortunately, I don’t have an easy answer because I don't have a set approach to painting. I may do things differently based on subject, size, purpose of the painting, my mood, whatever. I decided to turn this Different Strokes challenge into a WIP, so those people who are interested could see one of my methods for tackling a painting.

Unless my painting has to be perfect, I prefer to skip measuring. It makes things tedious and takes the fun out of it. For this particular subject, I’m not concerned with perfection. Close is good enough, because no one will likely know if it isn’t perfect. Which means I’m not measuring (hooray!).

Step 1: I cut a 7” x 5” piece of suede matboard and tape it to a piece of cardboard. I then crop and print the reference photo to the same size, taping it next to the board. This will allow me to check size, values, and shapes, and is particularly useful to check accuracy when standing five or six feet back.

Next, I pick out pastels in a light, medium, and dark value. Not the lightest light, or darkest dark, of course – that’s like dessert for me, so I save it for later. I use the light pastel, making marks where the lights are in the ref photo, then do the same with the middle and then the dark values. Now I have a basic sketch.

Step 2: Obviously, I’m going to be using some pastel pencils with this piece. Her face is only ½” big. There’s no way I’ll get enough detail with these fat pastels. Using a gray pastel pencil, I define the figures.

Step 3: Going back with the pastels again, I work on the values.

Step 4: I alternate between pastel pencils and pastels, refining the drawing.

With the finished painting next to the ref photo, it’s very obvious where I’m off. But since no one is going to see the ref photo next to the painting in real life, I think it’s close enough.
Here is the finished piece again, larger. Lots of fun, and no tedious measuring. My favorite way to paint!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Hot Off The Easel

My first few attempts at painting in oil were small (5”x7”) paintings of my daughter reading. When I painted them last year, I decided it would be a good subject for a large painting. Of course, at the time I was planning on doing it in oil, but I never got around to it. Since I recently got a full set of Mount Visions pastels, I’ve been playing large. I thought it would be fun to see if I could paint this in pastels instead of oils. Turns out, it really was fun.

"Idle Moments"
24” x 28”
Soft Pastels on Suede Matboard

Monday, April 6, 2009

Twice Tapped

I’ve been given the “Passion for Painting” award by two of my online artist friends, James Parker and Edward Burton. I am supposed to list seven things that I love, and then pass the award on to seven other artists.

The seven things I love are:
  1. My family
  2. My friends
  3. Painting
  4. Sitting on my deck in the summer with wine and good friends, or a good book
  5. Being able to watch hummingbirds, bald eagles, the occasional deer, or even seals while I do the dishes or lounge on the deck
  6. The sound of my kids laughing
  7. The smell of the air in summer, when the sun heats up the pines

Here are seven very talented artists whose work I particularly enjoy:

Jennifer McChristian
Jason DeGraaf
Alvin Richard
Nathan Fowkes
Todd Ford
Justin Taylor
Edward B. Gordon

Thank you, James & Edward!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


I took a quick break from the painting I’m working on to paint this for the Different Strokes From Different Folks blog. I debated doing several different things with it, but in the end left it pretty much as is.

I've decided I like eating sushi more than painting it. I really wanted sushi the whole time I was working on this. Although truthfully, I’m a wimpy sushi eater. California rolls are about as adventurous as I get, but I love them. My kids and I make them occasionally, and they are so addictive!

3.25" x 5.25"
Soft Pastels on Suede Matboard

First Place!

My “Moored” painting won first place in the Peninsula Art League small works show. If you’re local to Gig Harbor, stop by the library and see the show!

Monday, March 2, 2009


This painting is part of a small works show at the Peninsula Library in Gig Harbor. I wanted to paint something with a bit of local flavor for this show, and this little dinghy seemed just right. It will be on display until March 30.

5" x 7"
Soft Pastels on Suede Matboard

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


This is a painting of my favorite statue at the Hilton Waikoloa Village on the big island of Hawaii. I suppose because of the cold and snow I’ve been daydreaming about the summer vacation we’ve planned, which includes another visit to the Hilton Waikoloa. We had such a fabulous time there, and I am so looking forward to going back. This statue was by our hotel tower, so we saw it every day as we boated in from or out to another part of the resort. For some reason, just looking at it made me happy.

8" x 10"
Soft Pastels on Suede Matboard

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Victorian Rooftop

This is my submission for the current Different Strokes From Different Folks blog. As is often the case with the DSFDF challenge, this is something I would never have chosen to paint (if you ever see me painting a building, you can assume it wasn’t my idea). I dread painting windows, columns, staircases, etc., so it was with a fair amount of reluctance that I approached this painting. Luckily, I was able to paint it fairly quickly.

2.75" x 5.5"
Soft Pastels on Paper

I had a tiny piece of La Carte paper (a sample that came in the box with my Sennelier pastels) which I decided to use for this piece. I cropped the photo reference to minimize the number of windows I would have to paint. I started out drawing with a pastel pencil, but quickly realized I was going to have to use a regular drawing pencil and a ruler if I were to achieve a decent level of accuracy. Once the drawing was completed, the painting part was actually fun.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


This one was really fun to paint. I wanted to keep it somewhat loose, so I tried very hard not to obsess about detail. It took me quite a while to get the results I wanted, but it was worth it. I'm so happy with the way it turned out!

10" x 8"
Soft Pastel on Suede Matboard

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Jefferson Memorial

Our current challenge on the Different Strokes From Different Folks blog is painting the Jefferson Memorial at night. I was happy to try my hand at this, as I think pastels are perfect for this sort of painting. I blocked in the shapes and refined from there, finishing the painting relatively quickly. Unfortunately, I've spent many more hours photographing and playing with it in Photoshop than I did painting it, and I still can't seem to get the colors to show up accurately. It is more vibrant in person, but this is as close as I can get to the original.

Soft Pastels on Suede Matboard