Friday, December 31, 2010

My Latest Commission and Happy New Year!

This last day of 2010, I’d like to thank all of you who have followed my blog and supported me and my work throughout the year.  I appreciate you more than you can possibly know.  
Since Christmas has passed, I can now share a painting which was commissioned for a Christmas gift.  This is a little Westie named Morgan.  He’s an old dog (14, if I remember correctly) and I had the opportunity to meet him once during the painting process.  I hope I was able to capture his sweet personality in his portrait.
White dogs are challenging to paint, particularly when they have long, wavy fur.  Despite this challenge, I really enjoyed painting Morgan.  I absolutely loved his over-the-shoulder pose.  I chose a square format, which I thought complimented the pose, and made it slightly larger than life to make it more contemporary.  I was very pleased with the results!

15 x 15”
Soft Pastel on Suede Matboard
I wish all of you good health, happiness, and prosperity in 2011!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

NPS President's Award

I'm happy to report that my painting "Retired" won the President's Award (1st Place) in the Northwest Pastel Society's 24th International Open Exhibition!  The reception was very well attended, and the show is very impressive.  I was really looking forward to meeting Duane Wakeham, the juror, but unfortunately he was sick and unable to attend.  I was able to meet some other artists whose work I particularly like, though, so overall it was quite a fun afternoon.

If you aren't local, but want to see the exhibit, go to the American Art Company's web site.  You'll see the show under "Current Exhibits."  The gallery did a great job hanging the show, so if you are able to see it in person, do try.  It is so much more impressive in person than online.

19.5 x 27.5"

Also, I'll be doing a pastel demo for the Rainier League of Arts on Tuesday, November 16, at 7:00 pm.  The meeting will be held at the Pierce County Library Processing and Administrative Center, 3005 112th Street East, Tacoma, WA 98446.  All are welcome to attend.  Hope to see you there!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Northwest Pastel Society Exhibition

If you're anywhere around Tacoma, WA on Saturday, please join me at the artists' reception for the Northwest Pastel Society's 24th Annual International Open Exhibition.  The show is at the American Art Company in Tacoma, and I'll be at the reception from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.

American Art Company
1126 Broadway Plaza
Tacoma, WA 98402

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I'm back at the easel!

I had a wonderful vacation and now I'm back at the easel working on commissions.  These commissions are going to be Christmas presents, and I don't want to be the one to spoil the surprise, so I won't share them with you until after Christmas (if I remember).

Speaking of commissions, portraits and pet portraits make excellent gifts.  If you're thinking of a painting as a unique holiday gift, now is the time to get moving on it!  Whether you use me or another artist, you want to make sure you order soon enough to get your painting done on time.

Now for some news since I last posted:

I had two paintings accepted into the Peninsula Art League's 8th Annual Open Juried Exhibition.  One of my paintings won first place.  You can see the winning pieces here.  The exhibition is being held at the Gig Harbor Civic Center until November 22.

One of my paintings was accepted into the IAPS's 2010 Web Exhibition.  There were over 850 images entered and only 72 were accepted, so I was very fortunate to get in.

And lastly, I had two paintings accepted into the Northwest Pastel Society's 24th Open International Exhibit.  The show starts November 13th and is being held at the American Art Company in Tacoma, WA.  The artist reception is also November 13, from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Drawing Practice

I'm taking some time off from painting.  It feels really strange, but I need some vacation time.  And I want to hang out with the kids before school starts, I have a lot of paintings to frame, and I need to get things done around the house that I've been neglecting.  I'm forcing myself to stay away from the easel for a while, because otherwise I won't get anything done.

Since I don't have any new paintings to show, and likely won't for another month or so, I thought I'd show you a quick one I did a while ago just for drawing practice.  Of course, it's not perfect, but that's the beauty of doing something just for practice.  I don't have to try to make it perfect.  I take it as far as my mood allows, then it gets thrown into a box.

10" x 8"
Soft Pastel on Suede Matboard

I hope the remainder of your summer is excellent, and I will see you in the fall.  

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Trying Pan Pastels

To tell you the truth, I've never been tempted to buy Pan Pastels.  Part of what I like about soft pastels is a tactile thing - being able to hold them and blend with my hand, painting with nothing between me and the paint.  I didn't think I would like Pan Pastels (if you don't know what Pan Pastels are, click here to find out).  However, since I recently received them for free (my award for the Pastels USA show) I took the opportunity to experiment with them.

I started with a sheet of Pastelmat paper.  This support seems perfect for the Pans.  There were lots of tools included, so I pulled out a large oval sponge and spread green all over the paper.  It was awesome!  It took just a few minutes and didn't require the blending that my other pastels would have needed.  Using the other tools took a bit of getting used to, and was a bit awkward for me.  Sometimes I liked the results, sometimes not.  Of course, I had to supplement colors from my existing pastel stock.  I found I could use the tools with softer pastels (like Terry Ludwigs) in the same manner as the Pans, but it didn't work with my Mount Visions.  However, the tools blended the Mount Visions just fine on the paper.

Turns out, I liked the Pans much more than I thought I would.  I particularly liked being able to cover a large area so quickly and easily.  I wouldn't want to use them exclusively, but I think they are a nice addition to my existing stock of pastels.

19.5" x 27.5"
Soft Pastel on Pastelmat

Monday, August 9, 2010

Pastel Society of America Exhibition

My painting “Sweet” was accepted into the Pastel Society of America’s 38th Annual Open Juried Exhibition for “Pastels Only.”  This was my first time entering the competition, and I’m thrilled to be among those who were accepted for the exhibition.  I understand there were well over 1200 entries and only 160 paintings were chosen, so this is a huge honor.  I have seen some of the quality work that was declined, and feel incredibly fortunate to be included.
The exhibition is being held at The National Arts Club in New York, NY from September 7 through October 2, 2010.  Please see the Pastel Society of America’s web site for details.

9.5 x 12.5"
Soft Pastel on La Carte

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Another Guitar Player in Pastel

I finally finished the pastel I've been working on.  This one was uncooperative and a bit of a struggle to paint, but overall I'm happy with the results.

27.5" x 19.5"
Soft Pastel on Pastelmat

Friday, July 30, 2010

"And Now For Something Completely Different"

I'm working on a painting right now, but it's going pretty slow.  Since it's not ready to post, I thought I'd show you something I did last month, when I started playing with oils again.  My goal with this painting was to stay loose and colorful, and try not to blend.  It takes a lot of concentration for me to paint like this.  Normally I paint on autopilot, but I have to be completely conscious and aware the whole time in order to stay loose.  Even so, it was quite a fun project.

12" x 12"
Oil on Canvas

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A few miscellaneous things...

1.  There was a very nice article about me in the Peninsula Gateway.

2.  I have an entire wall of paintings at the Kimball Gallery in Gig Harbor until August 9.  If you're local, stop by and check it out!

3.  I will be painting this afternoon at the Gig Harbor Art Festival on Judson St. in Gig Harbor.  Local folks can find me by Key Bank in the artists' tent until around 5:00 pm.

Monday, July 12, 2010

New Oil Painting

I  recently started playing with oils again.  The idea for this painting just popped into my head.  I don't know why, but some people think it really happened.   My daughter was my willing model for this painting, and she wasn't actually stood up.  It's just something I made up for fun.

"Stood Up"
36" x 48"
Oil on Canvas

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Figurative Painting in Soft Pastel

This is something I started last month.  It's one of those paintings that requires thousands of decisions (well, they all do, but this one seemed to require more than usual).  Before I start painting something this labor intensive, I work out the major decisions in Photoshop; move things around, take things out, change colors, etc.  As I painted this, I found myself wishing I'd considered a few more options.  I'll have to try out those ideas on another painting, though, because I'm ready to call this one finished.

24" x 18"
Soft Pastel on Pastelmat

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Pastels USA Award

I had two paintings accepted into Pastels USA, the 24th annual international open exhibition for the Pastel Society of the West Coast.  The exhibit is being held at the Art Museum of Los Gatos from June 3 to July 9, 2010, and was juried by Richard McKinley.

I found out this morning that my painting "Old Friend" received the Colorfin LCC award!

"Old Friend"
12" x 19.5"
Soft Pastel on Pastelmat

See more of my work:

My blog

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Yellow Lab Portrait in Soft Pastel

I just finished this commissioned portrait of a yellow lab named Henry.  Water can be difficult to paint, and I've never painted a wet dog before, so this was a bit of a challenge.  Overall, though, I'm happy with the result.

16" x 20"
Soft Pastel on Suede Matboard

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Northwest Pastel Society Members' Exhibition Results

It was so fun to see the NPS exhibition in person!  My daughter and I were staying at a hotel in Burlington (we were having a girls weekend, shopping at all the outlets north of Seattle) and made the half hour drive up to the Blue Horse Gallery for the reception.  It's such a beautiful area up there, it's totally worth a visit.  Anyway, the reception was great.  The gallery is large, and all the art looked wonderful on the walls.  I went assuming I didn't win an award because I hadn't been notified ahead of time, but when I arrived I found out they had decided to let it be a surprise this time.  My painting "Sun Kissed" won second place in the miniatures category.  If you'd like to see the show online and check out the winning pieces, go here and here (the entries are divided alphabetically).

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Northwest Pastel Society Exhibit at the Blue Horse Gallery, April 23 - May 28, 2010

All three of the paintings I submitted (Sweet, Addiction, and Sun Kissed) were accepted into the Northwest Pastel Society’s Members’ Exhibition.  The Artists’ Reception is tomorrow night, April 23, from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm at the Blue Horse Gallery in Bellingham, WA.  I will be at the reception and would like to invite everyone close enough to attend.  Check out the Blue Horse Gallery’s web site for address and directions.  Hope to see you there!

An Experiment in Painting Loose

An artist friend (who would probably prefer to remain anonymous in this instance!) shared with me her secret of painting loose: wine.  She said drinking wine while she painted loosened her up.  “How much do I have to drink?” I asked (never let it be said that I’m not willing to make sacrifices for my art!).  I was intrigued by the idea and thought I’d make an experiment of it sometime.  
A couple of days ago I poured myself a glass of wine before dinner.  I hadn’t had a drink in so long, I was feeling quite tipsy.  Then I remembered the experiment, and thought it would be a perfect time to try it.  I quickly pulled up a picture from my files and started painting.  I took some pics along the way to document the experiment.

I started with a loose sketch.

Yep, one glass of wine and I can't even tell the picture isn't in focus.  What a lightweight.

Fleshing him out a bit, unfortunately still out of focus.

Apparently I was starting to sober up because he's back in focus.

Getting too sober, starting to lose my looseness.

Soft Pastel on Suede Matboard

I wouldn’t exactly call it a masterpiece, but it’s not particularly horrible either.  I think this experiment deserves further exploration.  Maybe I'll try it again when the weather warms up and I’m in the mood for margaritas.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Guitar Player

I've been working fairly small for quite a while, so I decided to paint something big.  I totally enjoyed painting this one.

27.5" x 19.5"
Soft Pastel on Pastelmat

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Pencil Sharpeners for Pastel Pencils

When I first started working in pastel, I ruined a couple of electric sharpeners.  The pastel would break off and get stuck, and I either couldn’t access the blades to dig it out, or I couldn’t get it out completely.  I searched for a pencil sharpener that would work well and settled on the Creative Mark MultiPoint.  After a year and a half, though, the blades are dull and don’t work well.  Obviously, I needed a new sharpener.  I was planning on ordering another MultiPoint, but then I saw Roby Baer’s videos on YouTube (if you haven’t seen them, check them out!).  She had such a nice point on her pastel pencils, I had to ask her about her sharpener.  She uses the X-Acto Powerhouse.  I bought one yesterday, and thought I’d share the pros and cons of each sharpener for those who are interested.
First, the MultiPoint:  I bought this sharpener at Jerry’s Artarama for around $25.

  1. It accepts pencils of different sizes and shapes
  2. It gives a decently sharp result
  3. If a pastel breaks off, you can open the shavings receptacle and poke it out with something sharp (I use an unbent paper clip)
  4. It is fairly rare that a pencil would break off 
  1. The clamp is annoying.  I couldn’t get it to stay on anything.  I usually put the sharpener on my knee to use it.  
  2. Their claim of “one hand operation” is, IMO, a joke.  The automatic feeding clutch does work (most of the time), but since the clamp doesn’t, one hand has to hold the sharpener in place.
  3. The pencil clutch chews up the outside of the pencil, which may or may not bother you
  4. It stops sharpening automatically, they say to avoid waste, but you can't get a sharper result than it is programmed to give
  5. No warranty - plan on replacing it every year, sooner if you're a heavy user
Next, the X-Acto Powerhouse:  Purchased from Office Max for $33.
  1.   It gives amazingly sharp results  
  2.   It has suction feet that make it stay put very nicely on my desk
  3.   It comes with a 2 year warranty
  1.   It doesn’t accept different sizes of pencils
  2.   Nothing else, but I’ve only had it a day
I have full sets of CarbOthellos and Derwents, plus a few pencils of different brands I bought just to try (you never know when you might want to get another set, right?).
  1. CarbOthellos fit very nicely
  2. Derwents are very snug, but they’ll go in with some pressure (and it takes pressure to get them out as well)
  3. Pitts go in slightly easier than Derwents, but not as easy as CarbOthellos
  4. Creatacolors go in very easily
  5. General’s go in very easily
  6. Contes will not go in at all
I’m excited about the sharp tip the X-Acto Powerhouse delivers, and the warranty is attractive.  I may buy another MultiPoint for backup, and for the Conte pencils if I buy a set (I really like those pencils!).

Update:  After using the X-Acto Powerhouse for a while, I'm back to the MultiPoint.  The Powerhouse worked well for a bit, but soon pencils were breaking off, and it is difficult to get the pastel tips out when they break in the sharpener.  I tried pulling out the shavings receptacle, but there is no way to poke out the pastel.  I had to use something very thin and sharp (I use a stainless steel BBQ skewer - I asked Roby and she uses an awl) and poke it directly into where the pencil feeds, stabbing the stuck pastel to break it up.  It got to where every pencil was breaking every time, and I just got tired of it.  It's not worth the hassle.  I bought myself another MultiPoint (actually, I bought two because Jerry's had them on sale) and almost cried with relief when I started using the new one.  I was able to get a sharper point on the new MultiPoint sharpener than I did with the last one, easily equal to the Powerhouse.  With nice, sharp points and very little hassle, the MultiPoint remains the best sharpener for me.  

See my review of The Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Black Cat Portrait in Pastel

Here's a quick one I painted as a gift for my daughter.  This is her baby, Snickers.

4.5" x 4.5"
Soft Pastel on La Carte

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Sushi Chef - Painting on Pastelmat with WIP pics

Here is my second painting on Pastelmat.  It's still trial and error for me at this point, but I'm getting used to the paper, and I like it very much.

Sushi Chef
19.5" x 15.5"
Soft Pastel on Pastelmat

People keep asking me for WIPs, so I tried to remember to take some pictures along the way so I could show you my process.

First, I started out with a grid.  I laugh at myself when I try to grid, because I can never get the grid even, or to accurately match the reference photo grid.  And even if I had everything accurate, I don't have the patience to copy the boxes exactly.  So for me, a grid is more of a tool I use for the initial placement of the image, and then I draw the picture from the computer monitor.  I also correct and redraw as necessary when I'm painting.

For the grid, I took a few drawing pencils and made small marks on the paper.  Then I erased the marks with a kneaded eraser.  I used the pencil that erased the best.  I drew the painting with a pastel pencil, and lost parts of my drawing when the pastel pencil rubbed off, so next time I'm just going to use the drawing pencil. 

A note about pastel removal:  A kneaded eraser pulls up pastel very nicely on this paper, particularly if you're not trying to pull up a lot.  I found Q-tips effective when I wanted to remove a lot of pastel (meaning many layers).  A soft paintbrush is also effective.  I actually tried the vacuum, and was surprised at how ineffective it was (and my vacuum has a lot of suction!).

Here is my initial drawing:

I started painting the hat and face first.

Then the hair and shirt.

Then I finished the shirt and started the background.

Next I have a gap in the photos (sorry).  When I got to the hands, I realized you might like to see how I paint skin (I used the same method for the face, just didn't get pics of it), and thought to get a photo.  First, I redrew the hands with a pastel pencil (the drawing had faded by the time I was ready to paint the hands).  Next, I painted the local color of the skin, using probably six different pastel colors. 

Next, I blended that, then applied more pastel in the same manner, then blended again.  After that, I touched up with pastels and pastel pencils to define the hands a bit better (sorry, I got so into my painting I forgot to take pics!).


After that, I made corrections, removed things that weren't necessary, etc.  Here's the finished painting once again.

I am really getting to like the Pastelmat.  I like the fact that it is so soft, but I can get a nice sharp line on it.  It takes a lot of pastel, though not nearly as much as suede matboard.  This paper will probably replace La Carte for me.  I get similar results, but a bit better coverage, and blending is much easier on the fingertips.  As far as dust goes, I'd say I get less dust than La Carte, but much more than suede matboard.  I would use this paper for anything I would normally use La Carte for, and probably suede matboard and velour paper as well, with the exception of animals.  Once I get used to the paper, I may try fur again and reevaluate.

I hope this was interesting for you, despite the gaps in my photos!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

My Painting in The Pastel Journal Magazine

My Painting “Sunny Spot” won an honorable mention in the Pastel 100.  A picture of the painting is in the April 2010 edition of The Pastel Journal magazine.
The Pastel 100 is an annual competition where jurors pick the top 100 paintings.  The paintings are chosen from five categories: landscape/interior, still life/floral, abstract/non-objective, portrait/figure, and animal/wildlife.  There are thousands of entries every year, and I couldn’t be happier that my painting was chosen as one of the top 100.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Painting on Pastelmat

This is my first attempt painting on a new paper called Pastelmat.  Since I often paint animals, I thought I’d first test how suitable the paper is for fur.  I used my dog as the subject.  My usual method of painting fur didn’t work on this paper, so unless I figure out a way to get the results I want, I won’t be using this paper for animals in the future.  I can see great possibilities with other subjects, though.

"Old Friend"
12” x 19.5”
Soft Pastel on Pastelmat
Pastelmat is an amazing surface.  It is so smooth, you wouldn’t expect it to grab onto the pastel, but that’s exactly what it does.  I’m looking forward to experimenting with different subjects and discovering what I can do with it.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Sun Kissed

I hate to waste good paper, so I painted this little picture of my daughter enjoying the sunlight to use up a small scrap piece of La Carte.  As you can see, I didn't do a whole lot of blending on this one.  Just quick and fun.

Sun Kissed
3.5" x 4.25"
Soft Pastel on La Carte

Friday, February 26, 2010

M&M Addiction

I can't help it, I'm addicted.  These are so fun to paint, I just had to try them larger.  But this will be the last one.  Probably.  Maybe.  Well, for right now, anyway.

9.5" x 12.5"
Soft Pastel on La Carte

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Sunshine Award

I was recently given the Sunshine Award by three wonderful artists:  Gwen Bell, Pat Burns, and Faith Te.

The rules for this award are:

1.  Put the logo on your blog or within your post
2.  Pass the award on to 12 bloggers
3.  Link the nominees within your post
4.  Let the nominees know they have received this award
5.  Link to the person from whom you received this award

I'm passing the award off to these artists, whose work I admire:

Amanda Carder - I always enjoy her blog updates, her work is fabulous!

Aimee Dingman - An acrylic artist (love those Tootsie Pops!)

Todd Ford - I love looking at his unique still life paintings.  Amazing talent!

Edward Gordon - An extremely prolific artist.  I look forward to reading his blog every day.  I like everything he does, but I particularly enjoy his figurative work.

Marti Green - So talented with watercolor, and now venturing into acrylic.

Vicky Knowles - Vicky's work is just plain fun.

Pat Meras - Soft pastel paintings that will knock your socks off!

Sophie Ploeg - Portrait and figurative work in oil.  Check out my personal favorite "Checks and Sand."  Love it!

Pierre Raby - I just love everything he does.  I could look at his work for hours.  He has two blogs, so make sure to visit both.

Alvin Richard - I love still life paintings that look uncontrived, and Alvin is a master at it.

Colette Thierault - Excellent animal artist.

This last blog is all about soft pastel artists, a review of their web sites.  I enjoy scrolling through it and looking at all the great pastel art.  Check out Artists in Pastel.

Special thanks to Gwen, Pat, and Faith for thinking of me!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Tribute to Karin Jurick

Karin Jurick
10" x 8"
Soft Pastel on Suede Matboard

Along with 117 other artists, I painted Karin Jurick’s portrait as a “thank you” for all her efforts with the Different Strokes From Different Folks blog.  The DSFDF blog has been an inspiration to many artists, and I’ve enjoyed the benefits of participating in the challenges.  In addition to stretching my skills by painting things I might not normally choose to paint, I’ve met many great people through the blog.  I have appreciated the time and effort Karin devotes to the blog, and I’m happy to be able to participate in this tribute to her.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


M&Ms are just as addictive to paint as they are to eat. It's just too fun. I had to do it again.

5" x 5"
Soft Pastel on La Carte

Friday, February 5, 2010


I was in the mood for something fun and colorful, so I bought some M&Ms to paint a still life. I debated painting the candy dish in various crops, but finally decided it would be more fun to do a really close crop of just the candy.

When you aren’t used to eating a lot of sugar, M&Ms are unbelievably sweet! I was amazed at how quickly I went from being nauseous to addicted. I had so much fun painting this, but found it is difficult to paint candy without wanting to eat it. Now I need to paint something healthy to get over my sugar high.


5” x 5”

Soft Pastel on La Carte

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Abstract in Soft Pastel

For quite a while now, I’ve been thinking it would be fun to paint an abstract of a city street at night. It has been so long since I’ve painted an abstract, and I’ve never done one in pastel, so I decided to start the new year off with something new and different. It was fun to paint, but it was also a challenge. I kept fighting my inclination to make it look like something more detailed.

Night Lights
6" x 6"
Soft Pastel on Suede Matboard