When life gives you lemons, draw them, 11 x 14 inches dry pastels, graphite on paper

"When life gives you lemons, draw them". (Nikki)

"...the painting has a life of its own. My mission is to bring forth this life". (Jackson Pollock)

"Trust your intuition, it's just like goin' fishin'; you cast your line 'til you get a bite." (Paul Simon)


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Flowers series: Hydrangea

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

Blue Hydrangea, 18 x 24 inches graphite on 80 lb premium

Blue Hydrangea, 18 x 24 inches graphite on 80 lb premium

The flower gardens have really filled in this year, so there’s a lot of subject matter to work with. Earlier this week:

Blue Flag Iris, 24 x 18 inches graphite on paper     Gladiolas, 24 x 18 inches graphite on paper

Blue Flag Iris

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

Blue Flag Iris, 10 x 10 x 1 inches  oil stick on canvas

Blue Flag Iris, 10 x 10 x 1 inches  oil stick on canvas

Spring Garden Mix

Saturday, April 27th, 2013

Spring Garden Mix, 18H x 24 inches Oil Pastels on 80 lb acid free

Spring Garden Mix, 18H x 24 inches Oil Pastels on 80 lb acid free


Thursday, April 25th, 2013

BlossoMania, 12H x 16W Oil Pastels, using Oil Blending and Glazing Medium on paper

BlossoMania, 12H x 16W inches Oil Pastels on 80 lb acid free, painted with Oil Blending and Glazing Medium.

I’ve been admiring the round masses clumped on the Plum tree branches in our neighbor’s back yard for a week or so now. Yesterday and today, pink swirls in the wind…

Petals are falling, the sky is blue
They cover everything, old and new
If I sit too long, I’ll be covered too!

Plum Blossom Mania, Original size 18H x 24 inches Oil Pastels on 80lb

Above: the finished piece, which was cropped from the original size (left), 18H x 24 inches. Blogging always reveals a different perspective. If I had not cropped the original (left image)  in order to post details here, I might never have recognized that the cropped portion is quite complete, and I’m satisfied with it after only a few hours of work.

I still recommend taking work past  its prime once in a while, a decision best made when there’s a lingering sense dissatisfaction with it. In order to  push a painting’s boundaries and your own to see what’s possible, honesty is key, and making the call is different each and every time. Have a look at work from afar or from photos or blogging, and take breaks often!


Celosia – work in progress

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

Celosia, April 19th in progress, 18H x 24W inches Oil pastels on 100% cotton paper

Celosia, April 19th in progress, 18H x 24W inches Oil pastels on 100% cotton paper

I felt as dissatisfied with this piece today as when it was tucked away a month ago, so with nothing to lose, I jumped back in and threw more color around. I splurged today and bought about 40 new oil sticks, and highly recommend the ”Sennelier” brand. Wow, they are so intensely colorful and creamy-beautiful to work with! There is no contest as far as quality, compared to any of the other brands I’ve been using. Tomorrow: the plan is to continue building and removing colors, but not so much that they become muddled. I’m loving the colors – an unusual palette for me.

Celosia, 18H x 24W inches Oil pastels on 100% cotton paper, in progress

Left, March 22nd, 2013, Day 4 in progress

Reminiscent of retro sofa fabric, now that I see it on-screen! Usually leaving page space showing through to create light and brightness, this time I colored the entire page yellow before starting. Adding white did not help brighten areas much, but did muddle colors, helping some flowers recede. Much of the pure color as seen in the early versions has been covered up or removed, but will be re-added cautiously. The style has also gradually changed to more of a Representational/Impressionistic one. To finish, there will be more scrutiny, and fewer emotional responses before adding or removing anything else.

Celosia, 18H x 24W inches Oil pastels on paper, Stage 02 in progress   Celosia, 18H x 24W inches Oil pastels on paper, Stage 04 in progress   Celosia, 18H x 24W inches Oil pastels on paper, Stage 06 in progress

March 20th through 22nd; Days 1, 2, and 3


Thursday, December 20th, 2012

Zinnias, 24 x 36 inches graphite on paper, finished

Zinnias, 24 x 36 inches graphite on paper. Using an eraser just as much as the graphite, marks are initially roughed in to fill the page with enough smudges and dark tones to work with; some removed, some detailed. Initial plans were to create a drawing with about 4 inches of grey tones bleeding into a colorful central square to be drawn and painted with watercolor pencils, similar to Chrysanthemums,with borders more defined. However, I got lost in the fun of drawing, and too much graphite would muddle colors. In future I would simply outline the subject lightly first, then add colors, gradually filling in tonal details afterward. Back to the drawing board!

Flamboyant Tree flowers and seed pods

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

Flamboyant Tree flowers and seed pods, 9 x 12 inches oil pastels on paper

Flamboyant Tree flowers and seed pods (Chapala, Mexico), 9 x 12 inches oil pastels on paper. I started this before ‘Deciduous Forest’, posted previously, so finished it while the resist medium dried.

Fields of Flax – Rowley, Alberta Canada

Monday, November 12th, 2012

Fields of Flax, 12 x 16 inches watercolors on paper and digital painting

Fields of Flax

Rowley, Alberta Canada, 12 x 16 inches watercolors on paper and digital painting, preliminary study for larger acrylics painting

Missing routine

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

The Campsite, watercolors, total size 24 x 30 inches professionally framed The Campsite, watercolors, 24 x 30 inches watercolors on 140 lb cold pressed paper
I finally brought my watercolor paints back from my son’s place in Canada, where I left them so they wouldn’t freeze on the 5-day drive back west last November. Driving again, I’ve just returned from this year’s visit, when I gave my grandson a one-of-a-kind fabric book hand-made for his first birthday (details posted next). I plan to make him something special every year.

So, a couple of new brushes and 12 x 16″ paper block, and now with the rainy season upon us back in Oregon, I look forward to establishing a routine of painting again. Invigorated by a summer full of gardening and flowers, the stunning scenery across America this time of year, plus reviewing archives of work I haven’t seen for ages, I’m all set to splash out some new watercolors. Our Portland house is a renovator’s dream (nightmare?), and we’re not out of the woods yet, so to speak. Attempting to gain back the focus more on art than house, smaller paintings are more manageable, and less of a production than my typically large canvas paintings…however, I’m curious to see how watercolors dis-behave on primed canvas at some point!

Adding Color: the point of no return

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

Chrysanthemums, color, May30th, upper left detail Chrysanthemums, color detail, May30th, upper central Chrysanthemums, color detail, May30th, upper right

Chrysanthemums, color detail, May30th, left central Chrysanthemums, central color detail Chrysanthemums, central right color detail

Chrysanthemums, work in progress; see previous post. Above: color details of 85W x 45L inches graphite, colored charcoal / dry pastels on white 100% cotton

When working with a large format, it’s easy to overwork the smaller areas. They’re like little compositions on their own. The trouble is, they may seem successful close up, but may not contribute to the overall balance and flow of the larger piece. Above are some examples, where I’m now reluctant to change what needs to be changed…but I will. Back to Art 101: It’s absolutely necessary to stand back often and study the entire composition from afar.

When you throw in a factor like color, there’s no turning back. I had a specific purpose for this drawing though; to fill a wall space in an otherwise fairly monotone, contemporary room. After much deliberation I kept with the original plan, which was to create a look similar to a black and white photo where one color highlights the main subject only. It was time to dive into the unknown.

It’s obvious that introducing color has compromised some of the original spontaneity, so to recapture some of that energy, I carefully try not to disturb what’s left of those livelier marks, and enhance some with little sparks of color. Isolating red, and only red to the central main flower sapped all the attention, so I’ve added more colors to it and the surrounding elements than initially planned. To continue risks ruining what is working, but there is no satisfaction in quitting, especially when the leaves on each side of the main flower look like wings! Back to the drawing board…(but not for much longer).

June 26th update: Hopefully those leaf-wings are no longer dominant! Now, after a period of study,  just a few more strokes of primer in the right places may bring out more depth around the main flower.

June 26th, left detail June 26th, central detail June 26th, right detail

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