From Veggie Porn to Bad Begonias

Veggie Porn, oil on Gessobord panel, 8x8"

Veggie Porn, oil on Gessobord panel, 8×8″

I’ve developed the goofy habit of storing my leftover cucumber in the bell pepper half when I prepare a salad. It always makes me laugh so I decided to paint it. My sister called it veggie porn. I hope it makes you chuckle too.

I’m trying out a new format for my blog posts, a simple list with images of what I’ve been working on, successes, challenges and what else is going on in the studio and my life. Theoretically it will mean less writing and more frequent posting. So here goes…let me know what you think.

CHALLENGES: I’ve been struggling with composition, discovering half way through a painting that the composition sucks and the painting will never be an enjoyable thing to look at.

SUCCESSES: I finally got the willingness to begin all paintings with some thumbnail sketches. I realized that COMPOSITION is simply the structure that directs the eye around the painting, creates a feeling of action or stillness and (if done well) delights the eye. Two of my favorite painters, Susan Jane Walp and Giorgio Morandi use composition in unexpected ways, and both delight the eye (or at least my eyes) whether they are following or breaking the “rules” of composition or making their own.

LETTING GO OF A BAD PAINTING: This one started off really happily but ended up in the trash, after scraping and redoing it over and over until I killed it so dead it couldn’t be revived. I just felt there was too much red, that it was too “hot” somehow. A friend suggested adding black. That was the final nail in the coffin. I’m not sure why I’m even sharing it at all.

FAIL: Bad Begonias, oil on panel, 10x8"

FAIL: Bad Begonias, oil on panel, 10×8″

SKETCHES: I try to do a sketch from the SKTCHY App at least weekly. Here is a recent one.

Isabel T, from Sktchy photo reference, graphite, 12x9"

Isabel T, from Sktchy photo reference, graphite, 12×9″

WHAT I’M READING: “Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked.” Great book about how our devices and apps are designed to keep us using them. I waste way too much time web-surfing on my phone. This book gave me some tools for changing my habits along with a good talking to! I think it’s a must-read for parents especially.

WHAT I’M LISTENING TO: Ed Sheeran and Alicia Keys on Amazon music, which I like much better than Apple music. (If you’re interested, here’s a link to  Amazon Music Unlimited 30-Day Free Trial)

Winter Begonias

Winter Begonias in Tin Pot, Oil on Linen Panel, 10x8"

Winter Begonias in Tin Pot, Oil on Linen Panel, 10×8″ (Click image for purchase info)

It was time to face something more cheerful than my own face in the studio. This pretty pot of begonias was just what I needed. I worked on them a bit at a time, between visits to my mother in hospice.  My mom passed away very peacefully last week, in no pain and with family at her side. She taught me many things in life; her final and maybe most important lesson was how to let go and fearlessly accept this final passage with grace (and the help of amazing hospice nurses).

This painting is available on DailyPaintworks. Below are the steps in the progress of the painting.

Six Self-Portrait Studies

2017010-Self-Portrait_#6, oil on Arches Oil Paper, 15x11"

Winter Self-Portrait #6 (but really 7), oil on Arches Oil Paper, 15×11″

Painting quick self-portraits seemed like a good way to work through my feelings while supporting my elderly mother in hospice, especially with my limited studio time and energy. The most recent, #6 above, is my favorite so far because I focused on finding light, beauty and strength rather than darkness (and because I omitted my frown lines). I used a limited palette of titanium white, yellow ochre, venetian red, cobalt blue and a little Gamblin Asphaltum and a cool white light bulb.

Studio set-up with mirror

Studio set-up with mirror

Here’s my funky set up with the big mirror  propped up on a dresser drawer. In all six of these self-portraits (above and below) I focused on capturing something of what I was feeling in a short session (3- to 4-hour studies) without worrying too much about getting a true likeness. Read More

Medical Supply Still Life

Medical Still Life #1 Final v2, oil on Gessobord, 8x8"

Medical Still Life #1 Final, oil on Gessobord, 8×8″

My attention, time and energy have been focused on elder care and family needs rather than art for the past couple months. Creating a still life out of medical supplies (plus a couple of caps from used-up tubes of oil paint) made sense on the day I started the project.

I intended this to be a one-afternoon painting but each time I thought it was finished there was one more thing to “fix” or change. Fiddling with it became a way to squeeze in a little painting when time and energy permitted. I finally called it done so I could start something else (a series of rather dark self-portraits, which I’ll be posting soon).

To show you all the fiddling, I thought a slide show might be good. Click on the image or link below to start the slide-show if you receive this post in your email.

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Dillon, a Dog Portrait Commission

Dog Portrait of Dillon, oil on Gessobord panel, 8x8"

Dog Portrait of Dillon, oil on Gessobord panel, 8×8″

Now that Christmas is over I can post this commissioned dog portrait oil painting. The person who requested it had previously been gifted this commissioned dog portrait and asked me to paint their friend’s dog Dillon to give to them as a gift. Below are the steps in the process. Read More

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