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)

Figs on a Grey Plate

Figs on a Grey Plate, oil on Arches Oil Paper, 9x11"

Figs on a Grey Plate, oil on Arches Oil Paper, 9×11″

My fig tree is supplying me with figs that are delicious to look at and to eat. I’m working on simplifying my paintings, aiming from strong values and composition, and trying to stop at “good enough for jazz.” This is so much more fun than trying for perfection and ending up with overworked instead. This painting is available on DailyPaintworks here.

Below are the steps in the progress of this painting and below that some bonus fig Read More

Life Drawing: Portrait of Beebe R.

Portrait of Beebe R., Pitt Monochrome pastel pencils , 14x11 inchesWe had the lovely and vivacious model Beebe R. today in figure drawing. She did a fantastic job holding the long pose. I worked for about an hour and a half on this one, trying to stop at the “less is more” stage instead of the “Ugh! Way overworked!” Stage. 

 I can see many things I’d like to adjust (and experimented doing so after class in ProCreate with a photo of the sketch on my iPad (below). 

Portrait of Beebe edited in ProCreate on iPad.

Portrait of Beebe edited in ProCreate on iPad.

Jack London Square Sketch for East Bay SPCA

I was honored when the East Bay SPCA asked to license my sketch of Jack London Square (in the poster below) for their annual Adopt-A-Thon fund-raiser publicity materials. They kindly offered to pay for the use of the image but I was very happy to donate it for their use. As an animal lover I am grateful for the wonderful work the SPCA does to care for and find homes for animals.

You can click the image to get more information about the event. It will be a lot of fun and if you’re looking for a new family member of the furry variety, be sure to visit the Adopt-A-Thon! My original sketch is and info about it is at the bottom of this post.

.Adoptathon2016-BayWoff-Ad.FINAL-2

I sketched the scene below at Jack London Square of London’s old cabin and the wolf statue out front on a gorgeous sunny day and the shadows were in just the right place. It was one of those sketches where everything just worked. In the background are the high-rise office buildings of Downtown Oakland.

Jack London Cabin and Wolf Statue, ink and watercolor, 10x7 in

Jack London Cabin and Wolf Statue, ink and watercolor, 10×7 in

How to Draw Bottles that are Symmetrical

Daily Sketch, bottle-drawing practice, graphite, 8x10 inch

Daily Sketch, bottle-drawing practice, graphite, 8×10 inch


After struggling with a crooked bottle in a still life painting with lopsided shoulders, this morning I figured out how to draw bottles and keep the curves and angles on both sides symmetrical. 

The solution: 

  1. Make a mark for top and bottom and widest point of width on each side and draw a rectangle enclosing the shape. Draw a vertical line down the center of the rectangle.
  2. Next I  lightly drew a rectangle (or enclosing envelope) around each “section” of the bottle, with the bottom of each rectangle at the spot where the exterior of the bottle changes direction from a curve in or out. I left some of those marks in the sketch above.
  3. Then draw straight diagonal lines from section to section and soften them into matching curves. It’s much easier to draw straight lines accurately than curved ones.
  4. Draw the ellipses for each section using the guidance here from Sadie Valerie. 
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