Oil Painting People Photos Sketchbook Pages

Woman at the museum

Museum woman

Oil on canvas board, 12 x 16″
To enlarge, click images, select All Sizes


Thumbnail sketch (1.75×2.5″) in sketchbook for painting


Ink in small Moleskine notebook
(original sketch at SF Museum of Modern Art cafe)

A few weeks ago I went to see the Picasso and American Art exhibit at SFMOMA and was inspired by this woman’s thick, grey hair in a giant clip and the way the teeth of the clip separated her her hair. I also took a photo of her while I was there (below) but the view was different from my drawing so I didn’t end up referring to it when I made the painting. I’m still struggling with oils and acrylics but this one was a little easier because I stuck to black, white and 3 grays. I had intended this to be an underpainting and was going to glaze over it with the colors of eggplant and chocolate but decided to leave it because I like it the way it is.

I used Gamblin Chromatic Black for the darkest darks which is not a dead black pigment like most. From the Gamblin website: “Chromatic Black is black, but it has no black pigment in it. It is made from two perfect complements: Quinacridone Red and Phthalo Emerald.” For the grays I used Gamblin’s Portland Greys in light, medium and deep. So there was no color mixing, just a value study and an attempt to get some control with applying and blending oil paints.


Life in general Other Art Blogs I Read Photos

Always doing

In trying to catch up with email and blog visiting, I discovered Suresh Gundappa‘s site with some of the most amazing photos I’ve seen, especially the one linked here that so brilliantly illustrates his powerful essay on how Westerners are so busy and in a hurry all the time that they are “driving themselves mad with their activity…” which really hit home.

I often complain that there’s never enough time to do everything I want to do, and make long lists of things to accomplish on days off and vacations. I’m so glad that when I go to Mexico in two weeks, I will be disconnected from all activity except relaxing and painting and that it will be goal-less painting. A week of just being. I haven’t done that in years.

Sorry…no pictures here today, but I hope you’ll scroll through Suresh’s images and words…there are some really thrilling photos there.

Drawing Flower Art Photos Sketchbook Pages Still Life

Starting Over

Roses in bottle - value sketch

Graphite in 6×9 Aquabee sketchbook
(To enlarge, click images, select All Sizes)

I’ve been struggling with an oil painting of this image …

Roses in bottle

and finally realized that it wasn’t working because I hadn’t first done a value study and compositional sketches. So tonight I set aside the painting and started over with this sketch to simplify the image and study the values. I took the photo on a rainy day in December when the sun suddenly broke through and lit up these roses I’d just clipped from the garden that were still blooming despite the December storm.

As much as I love to draw, sometimes I’m impatient to get to the fun, juicy painting and so I skip the preliminary studies. Once in a while that approach works, but more often it ends up feeling like I’m wandering and lost in a maze, with no end in sight.

But if I start with a study or two first to determine what really interests me about the image, how I can simplify it, where I want the focus to be, where the lights and darks are, what I want to exaggerate or de-emphasize, and what colors I’m REALLY seeing,  then I have a much better chance of success and hence a lot more fun with the paint. I might still get lost along the way, but I know my destination and how to get there.

I wonder if I should have one leaf overlapping the front of the bottle. If you see any compositional problems or have suggestions, I’d be happy to hear them. Sometimes I find it so hard to see the problems in my own work. Just looking at now in the post I can see I need to lengthen the stem on the top left rose as it looks a little too short to me.

I’m going to start over, using my new sketch as a reference so I can focus on the light, and the colors in the bottle which was what interested me in the first place. If I don’t get tired of it, I might try it in oil, acrylic (bought some acrylics today) and watercolor, just for fun.

Animals Photos

While I was online tonight….

Fiona's Q-Tips

I set aside tonight to try to catch up on visiting blogs, responding to email and reading this week’s Everyday Matters posts. While I was visiting Andrea and Andrea‘s blogs I noticed through the slightly open door to the bathroom that Fiona (my calico cat) was playing in the bathroom sink. I didn’t think that was too odd since she slept in the sink all the time as a kitten. When I got up to make some tea I discovered she had somehow opened the medicine cabinet door and pulled all the q-tips out of their little container and scattered them about in the sink. She loves to chew on q-tips and her other favorite bad thing is to get on my drawing table and pull pushpins out of my bulletin board and then play with them which really scares me.

This little mess was a perfect metaphor for my day, which was all about little frustrations and annoyances. I spent way too much time standing in line at the post office to mail a CD with files of some paintings to a London publisher who’d requested some images for a book on flower painting. Once I reached the counter and waited for the incompetent postal employee to sort out how it’s done, she determined I’d have to start all over with their packaging, not mine, a contact phone number and a form to fill out, which meant a trip upstairs to my office for the phone number and another wait in line.

Stupidly I had no pen or paper so couldn’t even sketch while waiting and instead just stood their anxiously since I should have been in my office working. Oh well. It eventually got sent and I stayed way late at work to make up the time. I would have sketched the Q-tips, but I really want to get caught up with computer stuff tonight.

Animals Photos Sketchbook Pages

Photos from my world

My tall shadow

Hi, welcome to my tall world. This is a picture of me taking a picture of my shadow. I am so easily amused…I guess that’s why I enjoy my own company so much.

Today was a long and busy day and now I’m too tired to draw so I thought I’d post some photos I’ve shot in the past week or so.

Brilliant web

A lovely spider and her sparkly web.

Plump Spider

A nice plump spider building her web–not quite so well organized as Spider Number One.

Neighbor's Garden

A neighbor’s garden.


Alcatraz as viewed from the sailboat, er…yacht last weekend.

And now it’s off to get some rest. Tomorrow I’m hoping will be a fun day of drawing, painting, and experimenting with monoprints.