Monday, June 30, 2008

Green Apple Still Life

One Green Apple – 6" x 6" Oil on Canvas Panel SOLD

Sometimes when starting a painting I want to focus only on technique and color combinations. With this painting, a simple, lovely green granny smith apple was my one and only focus. Some granny smith apples have pinkish areas, this apple was only green, a bright luscious green that is almost electric.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sketch of Our Cat, Slim

Strathmore Sketchpad, drawn with compressed Charcoal

Slim, our Abyssinian, loves to take naps (like every cat I know). She typically likes to find a blanket or some other cozy item to cuddle into. In this sketch I worked on depicting depth of field by the variations with the stripes. How some stripes thin and then twist, some go away, while others fold upon themselves.

This exercise involves the theory of Textural Gradient from The Perception of the Visual Worldby the psychologist, James J. Gibson. Gibson asserted that perception is based primarily on the structure of the environment. He identified thirteen varieties of perspective, with nine being of particular use to artists, who are working to capture the sense of space and depth in their work. The nine varieties are:
1. continuity of outline
2. size perspective
3. vertical location in the visual field
4. linear perspective
5. atmospheric perspective
6. perspective of blur
7. textural perspective
8. shift of texture or linear spacing (this is the predominate perspective method I used for the blanket)
9. transitions between light and shade

Gibson's book is available for sale, however as it is out of print and there is a demand for it, the book sales for more than what I feel willing to pay right now. So last year I visited the Library of Congress and read a big chunk of the book while taking notes in the reading room on a Saturday morning.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Summer Likes and Clover in the Lawn

Clover Flowers - June 2008

Alas, no new painting to share. However I have been recently thinking about all the things I like about the Summer and thought it would be a fun topic to post about. Here is a small list of things I like about summer: 1) the quality of light early in the morning and late in the day, 2) the way people change their patterns to walk on the shady side of the street instead of the sunny side which is the preference in winter, 3) the deep blue sky and big puffy clouds, and 4) how each week it seems a new and different plant is flowering. This week the lily blooms are starting to fade and the crepe myrtles are starting to bloom, what will be next weeks new flower?

One item in nature that I really get a kick out of is the clover that populates lawns. I really enjoy seeing the dark blue-green patches in lawns, the white and sometimes pink flowers with the delicate petals popping up randomly over the clover leaves. When sitting outside in the yard as a child I would typically seek out the clover patches, as they were softer and more cushion-y than the carpet grass that is found in Texas. For years I have sought a four-leaf clover, but never have found one yet. Though it does not bother me so, as I really love the symetry and balance found in how the three leaves work together.

Is there anything special that really brings joy to your life in summer, what is it?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Mango and Pears Still Life

Mango & Chinese Fragrant Pears – 6" x 8" Oil on Canvas Panel SOLD

After enjoying painting the mango, I decided to set up another still life with it and some Chinese Fragrant Pears. I love the different shape of these pears compared to the standard Bosc Pear. Again the light gray background is used to heighten the colors of the fruit and the shadow shapes.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Mango Still Life

Mango – 6" x 8" Oil on Canvas Panel SOLD

This mango has been in the refrigerator for awhile not getting eaten because it was intended for a painting. Only when I put a light gray backdrop up did the image click. Previously brighter backdrops had been used, but they always took away some of the vibrancy of the fruit itself.

This painting taught me that sometimes in order for the focus to really sing it needs a subtle and muted background to emphasize the color and variety of the fruit itself.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

A Familiar Motif

There are days when I have the luxury of a full hour lunch break with great weather, everything you want to have an easy sketching experience and all I have to do is find the inspiration – however for some reason it eludes me. Instead my mind is full of doubts, and nothing peaks my interest…

At these times I go back to what I am most comfortable with, something I have focused on before, something familiar. This is helpful, because once I start to focus on the familiar I am then able to be creative and put a pause on indecision. Through drawing and observing, something wonderful happens my mindset goes from focusing on the difficulties and the possible feels so much more plausible.

Slate Roof - 6" x 4" Strathmore W/C Paper

This little watercolor sketch of a slate roof was just familiar enough to get me out of a funk in May. I am pretty familiar with the typical brick rowhouse architecture that is present in a number of DC neighborhoods. For last summer I would spend my early mornings before getting to work sketching and chronicling the LeDroit Park neighborhood. (here is an interesting blog of a rowhouse renovation) Here are some of the sketches that came out of my jaunts into this area of DC. I always seem to go back to observing architecture and/or people when I am at a loss of selecting any other subject to sketch or paint. How and what do you do to get out of a creative funk?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Four Years Ago

Four years ago after practicing architecture for awhile I made a concerted effort to focus more of my free time on the fine arts, with the goal to incorporate it into my life in a more meaningful way.

With always having a creative streak that would surface in various ways in my life it was a fun and easy goal to work toward. I began by taking drawing classes at the Alexandria Art League, first studying with Lisa Semerad, drawing the human figure in charcoal and conte crayon. Then after a few years trying my hand with oil painting, taking classes in figure painting and still life with Ted Reed, Kurt Schwarz, and finally with Danni Dawson(I really admire her as an artist and instructor and I have written about her before).

It has been a wonderful experience incorporating the fine arts into my life, learning to express myself and record my surroundings through sketching, drawing, and painting. This blog has also become a wonderful outlet in building and expressing my love of all forms of art.

As I do not have a painting to share, I thought I would show a preparatory sketch I am working on for a larger scale painting.

Chairs in the Plaza, charcoal on sketch paper.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Tiger Lily Floral Still Life

Tiger Lily – 6" x 8" Oil on Canvas Panel SOLD

I was inspired to paint a complementary color palette painting with this tiger lily. The organic and irregular shapes of the petals were a delight to capture, and it was further emphasized by the shadow shapes cast by the flower.

When opportunities of painting flowers come about I try to seize them and make the most of them. This poor flower was only given one day to exist in our house as our cat, Slim, loves the flavor of flowers and preceded to devour it during the night… lucky for me she did not break the vase it was in as she had succeeded in doing a previous time.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Plein Air Still Life of Two Apples

Two Apples – 6" x 8" Oil on Canvas Panel SOLD

This still life was painted outside on my patio. It was a beautiful day and I wanted to be outside to enjoy the weather, I just was not motivated to paint a landscape, so a still life instead was set up instead. In art instruction books they always talk about the difference in light quality and color temperature between natural light and artificial light, so even with this “book” knowledge it was a surprise to experience how the outside light was much cooler so much so that the colors of the apples seem to have a more cool-red hue than they do when setup inside. The end result of the painting was that the reds were cooler than expected and the shadows were present, however more diffused and subtle. This painting experience was a fun exercise.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

One Crazy Week!


It has been a crazy week! Today I spent most of my time catching up on items and tasks that fell through the cracks during the week. This week, Steve and I were busy everyday with work and every night with various activities, so unfortunately I am behind on paintings and postings. Hopefully tomorrow I will be able to wake up refreshed and ready to paint to my hearts content!

We are also having to bid farewell to our friends Garth and Martha, who are moving from DC this coming Monday. They will be taking time off to travel the North American continent, if you are interested they will blog some about where they visit. I wish them happy trails and adventures on this big trip they are taking.

As I do not have a painting to post, I thought I would share a photo instead. This is a photo of the west side of the Lincoln Memorial, I really love this side when the sun is setting and the light reflects off of the Potomac river...

Monday, June 9, 2008

Cantaloupe Wedges Painting

Cantaloupe Wedges – 6" x 8" Oil on Canvas Panel SOLD

This composition has been floating around in my head for awhile. Cantaloupe is a very interesting fruit, in that the muted rind has such a bright green edge that runs along the orange flesh. The wedges and triangular shadows also add interest. The blue plate was found at a local Goodwill. So with this new prop and a fresh cantaloupe everything came together.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Orange Still Life

Orange – 6" x 6" Oil on Canvas Panel SOLD

Today was a day of working through new exercises and learning when to start over. I scraped down two previous paintings until I came up with this composition and color palette. It is once again the circle within a square motif, a stable image with the interest occurring by the way the shadow of the orange crosses over and merges the two color fields.

Another artist I find inspirational is Colin Page. His work is so dynamic and thoughtful at the same time. The first few images of his website are so interesting, especially the dandelion blooms. He also has a great journal/blog that is full of wonderful information and thoughtful commentary. A few weeks ago he wrote about the importance of beauty, and linked an article covering this topic. It was very interesting, when visiting his website or web-journal I feel as if I learn something new or come away with a new level of excitement that makes me eager to start painting and to try something new!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

A Sense of Being

Being with Oneself – 10" x 8" Oil on Canvas Panel NFS
{completed in class taught by Danni Dawson}

This painting was completed a few months ago. Initially it represented a switch in my sense of skill and mastery of paint handling. However it was not until this morning when I was looking at it on my wall that I realized that it means more to me than just an accomplishment. I feel a sense of understanding and community with the environment that is was created in. In the world where beauty is found in everyone, where life is full of vibrant colors, and the senses are encouraged to be heightened and expressed. Painting is such a wonderful experience for me, even when I go through slumps and wonder why and how to get out of them, it seems that there is always a way to navigate and to soon return to firmer ground where creating art will soon return.

Today I have had difficulty getting the momentum and focus to paint. I have used today to read and contemplate. And when I happened to glance up on the wall I was moved to realize that the ability to move forward and produce is within my grasp. Another painting today that also really captures the joie de vivre I have been thinking about is Karin Jurick's Emanicpation. Wow, I feel the power and confidence in the woman sitting on that beach, the lust for life and enjoyment in the moment.

When motivation is low, I tend to find sources that remind me of the good and wonderful in life. What do you focus on when there is a slump in motivation or focus?

Thursday, June 5, 2008


Today for work I was required to attend a public hearing for proposed building alterations in Georgetown, DC. I had to present a design concept in front of this architectural review board. Even with arriving after lunch and I still had to sit through 7-8 presentations before getting the opportunity to present the project. So while listening to the presenters ahead of me and figuring out how to present our design intent and stand up for its integrity, I whiled the time away sketching fellow architects and public citizens waiting for their turn to present the projects they were working on...

All were completed in my hardbound Cachet sketchbook, using sepia ink in the fountain pen my husband gave me for Christmas 2006.

This guy on the left page was really concerned about the garage addition he was proposing to build, in the end he was required by the board to resubmit his design because they did not like the idea of have a painted CMU (concrete masonry unit) facade in a private alley, because potentially this accessory building may be seen by a person walking down the alley... Sometimes these boards do get very picky about little things, considering that it was presented that 2 other garages are built of the same materials and would be adjacent to this proposed garage, in this very same alley. Poor guy, he has to pay his architect to re-draw and re-submit the design concept to be re-reviewed by this architectural board before he can ever attempt to submit to the city government for a building permit to build his garage...

Here was another thoughtful observer...

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Two Tomatoes Still Life

Two Tomatoes – 6" x 8" Oil on Canvas Panel SOLD

The round forms and the interesting stem really drew me to these tomatoes. I like the reds, each tomato had a slightly different red, one was more orange while the other one seemed to me to have a cool red, and in its shadow there were definitely shades of purple and French Ultramarine Blue.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Onion Still Life

Yellow Onion – 6" x 8" Oil on Canvas Panel SOLD

This is my first onion painting. Onions have a long history of being in still lifes and I had been avoiding painting them just for that very reason, and I to my detriment. However now I know why they are popular subjects. It is the variety of shape, form, shadows that can be created by their skins, their roundness, while also the variations of color in the layers of the skin that make them so appealing. You may start to see them more often in my paintings as they are usually always in the house.

Here is a great still life by Cezanne with many onions in it! Wow, I really like the composition

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Lemon Still Life & This Week's Art Blogger

Lemons and a Bowl – 6" x 8" Oil on Canvas Panel SOLD

I have wanted to paint this bowl for almost two months. It has been in my studio waiting to be painted, however every time I tried to incorporate the bowl, the bowl was the incorrect scale for the composition. Today it happened to be just what I was looking for. While also being a technical challenge. I am fascinated with paintings where different values of white predominate, especially objects of white porcelain or china. This painting was a fun challenge to depict, specifically the subtle shading of the white of this bowl and its shadowed parts. Today I learned that when painting white objects, it is the edge transitions that are so important to imparting the shape and form of the object. I started by using my bristle brushes, then sable (which ended up being too soft), and finally working with a mongoose bristle brush. I think the fun of painting is in the challenge of learning new techniques while also growing with each experience.

Last Monday I decided to start writing about and highlighting art blogs that really make a difference in my life. The entire blog-o-sphere is full of artist from all sorts of different backgrounds that in some way or another provide me with the visual and mental motivation to keep on painting. I plan on focusing on an individual once a week, typically on Sunday, (the beginning of the week for me).

So for this week I would like to highlight the work of Jennifer Bellinger. Her still lifes, especially the ones with stripes and patterns have been a great inspiration to me. It is through seeing her paintings that I have become curious about how to also capture the zeal and energy her paintings have. I like the way all of her paintings seem to tell a story, as if we are getting a glimpse of someone’s daily life, with an action about to take place that will alter the vignette we have just been privileged to witness. Another great thing about Jennifer’s blog is that if you ask a question or make a comment on a painting she will explain her process. She is truly someone interested in helping others out and sharing her knowledge. I always look forward to receiving her blog updates.