Tuesday, February 26, 2013


I go through phases with my jewelry making... I want to do chainmaille for a while, then I want to play with wire, and sometimes I want to make things out of tiny seed beads.  I am certain that it'll be the same with painting, and I'm currently in a knife painting (impasto) phase.  In some ways it's great because it keeps me from getting too obsessed with details, which is pretty easy for me to do.

I wanted to do a flower with a knife, and decided that the smooth lines of a calla lilly would be fun to paint.  I was right.  You probably can't see the texture from these pictures but there are subtle leaf shapes in the background paint on this, which is why impasto is so much fun for me.  I did this in two phases; I did the background one day and finished it the next.  Have to love quick-drying paint (but not TOO quick...).
I had so much fun doing this... I want to try impasto on Gessoboard to see how this works without the texture of the canvas peeking through. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Age of Aquarius

When the moon is in the seventh house
And Jupiter aligns with Mars
Then peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars
This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius
Work in Progress:  11 x 14 oil on canvas
Something occurred to me today.  I'm fascinated with (among other things) water.  I went through my digital pictures and looked, and in almost every set, every vacation, every memorable event, there is a picture of some form of water.  In one batch of photos, a trip to visit my parents in Cleveland, there's a picture of a water in a Coke glass that I took while we were at a Steak 'N Shake.  Water.  Always.  A lot of times, abstract macro photos of water.  I think I need to paint more water (actually, there's a pretty high proportion of water in my paintings already... either horses or water or sky in almost every one).

I had a busy busy weekend, all my challenges are over (except the Draw 50 Hands & 50 Feet challenge, which I am dragging my feet, haha, on), and I didn't feel well at all, so I was not in the studio the entire weekend.  Which meant that it was calling me this morning.  But, I also have lots and lots of day job to do today and I need to get some jewelry made, so I only had about an hour in the studio.  I did some work on the left side and lower left corner of this one, but I'm not sure you'll see a lot of difference in it. 

Is it possible that my sudden attraction (or me noticing my long-term attraction, and acting on it) to water has to do with the Sun moving into Pisces, and conjoining with Neptune?  I take "horoscopes" with a grain of salt but I also find some value in paying attention to the phases of the moon and the movements of the Sun, stars and planets.

Whatever the reason for the attraction to the abstract shapes water makes, I intend to go with the flow.

See what I did there?  ;)
I'm full of puns today.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Not In The Mood

I woke up this morning with a splitting headache and still pretty grumpy, and I really did not feel like painting, drawing, anything.  So I wrote in my journal, then sat at my studio desk and thumbed through a Jerry's Art-a-Rama catalog and made a wish list of oil and watercolor paints, paper, painting knives... I didn't tally it up but I'm sure it's something like $200. 

And then (heave big sigh) I got a canvas on which I've sketched my dog and intend to paint in oil.  Nah.  The Squire's castle painting is still not 100% dry (whew).  Random henna design?  Nothing inspired me.  Invent new henna designs?   Blah.  Ultimately I just finished what I started yesterday.  The two underripe berries suck and if this wasn't just an exercise out of a book I'd try to fix them, but it is and I'm not.  It's that kind of day.

The good thing is, I didn't feel like it, but I painted.  And it wasn't THAT painful.  Well, the painting wasn't, the headache still is.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Snozzberries

Not done with this. It's another exercise from Step by Step Guide to Painting Realistic Watercolors. Yesterday's oil was not dry so I couldn't mess with it anymore, and I was in a watercolor mood.

Russ was pretty unhappy with the idea of me leaving for a weekend to go to Carrie's workshop... :(   I am hoping I can make another one, but I'm pretty much on my own with watercolor for now. So, I'm working my way through this book. Do my Snozzberries look like Snozzberries?

This is just the first layer but I don't have time for more today. I kind of rushed the leaves, too, which is how I know it's time to quit for the day. That, and I'm grouchy.  Chocolate cake didn't even help much.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Squire's Castle

This is the first painting I laid out from a sketch, roughed in, and then painted entirely with a palette knife.  It isn't 100% finished; there are a few little touches I want to add when it's dry, and straighten up a few lines and add a few highlights here and there.  But all in all, I'm pretty happy with the way it came out :)

In case you missed yesterday's post, this is a structure called Squire's Castle that was built in the 1890s by an oil tycoon named Squire.  It was meant to be just the gatehouse for his estate (can you imagine what he had in mind for the main house?).  He abandoned the project, though, and Cleveland Metroparks acquired the property in the 1920s.  Today it's there for anyone to use.  It's just a shell of a building but there are picnic tables and fireplaces inside that you can use, and of course the imagination of a child runs wild in such a place.  It's also surrounded by wonderful hiking trails.

I moved to Tennessee in 2005 and I have to say that the thing I miss the most about Cleveland (besides family) is the "emerald necklace" of parks that surrounds it.  For me, this is the jewel of the lot, and worth a visit if you're in the area.

Monday, February 11, 2013

On Being a Princess

This is my castle.  Well it's not MY castle.  It belongs to me and the imagination of every other child who has grown up in Cleveland's eastern suburbs. 

I thought that I would do some knife painting today, and I thought perhaps buildings would be nice to paint with a knife (I may be proved wrong on that).  First I thought, streetscape.  Then, I thought castle.  Then it hit me.. my castle.

Squire's Castle is in Cleveland Metroparks' North Chagrin Reservation.  It was built in the 1890s by a guy named Squire and (mind bogglingly... it's huge) was meant to be the gatehouse for his estate.  If I remember the story correctly, his wife died and he gave up on the project, and sold it.  Metroparks later acquired it.  Legend has it that she still haunts the place.

So the rooms are unfinished, rough brick and local sandstone, with huge brick fireplaces that you can build fires in and roast marshmallows.  The front of the building is a huge field that's great for playing frisbee or softball or running with your faithful dog, and behind it are miles and miles of hiking trails for long adventures. 

It's the perfect place to imagine yourself on a grand quest, whether you're 10 or 30.  It's pretty high up there on the list of my favorite places in the world.

So, I sketched it and roughed in a canvas (11x14).  Once the rough dries, I'll try knife painting the shapes here.  Don't be surprised to see a little girl in the foreground, either :)

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Getting Stuff Done

Candlemas, 4 x 4 original oil on canvas, $24
Stop and Smell the Daisies, 3 x 3 original oil on canvas, $22
Crucible, 9 x 12 original oil on canvas, $40
Today was so weird a day that I realized about 1 pm that I'd forgotten to have my coffee this morning.  That just doesn't happen.  I got up, did my journaling at the kitchen table (I usually journal in the studio), started thinking about gardening while I was writing, planned my garden, made sausage gravy and biscuits with scrambled eggs for the guys, and then sat around chatting with my hubby about painting workshops and life for something like an hour. 

Yesterday, I didn't draw or paint at all... I had the urge to get back to my wire wrapping, which I did big time, weaving tiny little wires till my fingers hurt.  It was good.  But it also meant that it was important to get back into the studio today.

When I finally got around to getting into the studio around noon, I decided I'd spend the day wrapping up some almost-finished projects, so I put the finishing touches on these three, and signed a bunch of others that were dry.

Yesterday I was SO HAPPY to discover that my big landscape I started on Friday was dry to the touch, which means, I could have painted on it if I wanted to.  Three cheers for Liquin!  Oil paints that dry overnight is going to change my life!  It means I can work on just a couple of things at a time instead of juggling seven canvases simultaneously :)

Friday, February 8, 2013

Life, the Universe, and Everything

I'm going to be 42 in a week.  I'm wondering if this means I should have solved the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything by now.  (in case I've lost you, it's a Douglas Adams reference).

If so, I'm pretty sure art has something to do with it.  I'm currently reading a book called Dominion by Niles Eldredge, which is a look at humans and how they interact with the world from the perspective of an evolutionary biologist.  I have just gotten to the part where we became Homo sapiens.

While our species anatomically appears to be about 150,000 years old, there is a good deal of debate about when we became the conscious beings we are, acquired speech, etc.  But beginning around 30,000 years ago, not too long after our species left Africa, there is a sudden explosion of artifacts such as bone carved for religious purposes, jewelry, ornamentation, and cave paintings, along with "an exploding array of consciously constructed artifacts designed to deal with an increasingly diverse set of economic tasks in daily life.  Harpoons, fish hooks, needles, knives of all sorts... more arresting is the adornment often found on these implements."

In short, the significance of our sentience is marked by art.  It defines us.  It is who we are.

It is most certainly who I am.  I never thought I was an artistic person.  Good at writing, yes.  Art, no.  Somewhere along the line I decided I "couldn't draw anything but horses," and basically gave up on it, even the horses.  The best advice my painting teacher ever gave me -- maybe the best advice I have ever been given -- was "Don't be afraid."  Make your mark.  What's the worst that could happen?  More of us should live this way too.

It is grey and rainy today.  Punxsatawney Phil promised us only two more weeks of winter, and while it's been an almost disturbingly mild one here in Tennessee, I for one am ready for the greys and browns to give way to blues and greens.  I will go outside and paint, and I will not be afraid.

Carpe diem.  And when you seize this day, let there be art in it.

Tennessee Falls

My friend Chuck Sutherland is a naturalist here in Tennessee, and a brilliant photographer.  He has been gracious enough to tell me that I can use his photos as painting reference.  I was browsing his Flickr this morning and came across this one, and it just grabbed me... this part of Tennessee is full of waterfalls (and caves, both of which Chuck shoots lots of), and I love all of his waterfall photos, but the awesome gnarly tree in the foreground of this one made me choose it to paint.  Plus, I love the green of the pool and the red Tennessee soil.  All sorts of things could be hiding in those roots, too...

Chuck's notes on the photo say this is Greeter Falls in Grundy County, TN, and from another picture he shot this amazing tree is growing right out of the river, sprawled along the rocks in the pool. 
So, since this is paint from a sketch month I sketched it out first (VERY roughly), then transferred my sketch to the canvas, which is 20x24... I have only done one other painting bigger than this one, but since almost everything I did last month was really small, I wanted to do something big.
And below, two hours plus after the sketch... I still don't have much of it roughed in.  Man, where does the time go when you paint? 
This is as far as I got today.  Time for lunch and chainmaille.

Watercolor is definitely spoiling me as far as cleanup goes!  It takes me five times as long to clean up after using bigger brushes on an oil painting.  But, much as I am enjoying watercolor, at least for now I am definitely more comfortable with oils.  This felt kind of like coming home.  I went yesterday to the gallery where my jewelry is sold, and stared at my teacher Karen's paintings for some time, and decided I definitely needed to do some oil painting today. 

I can't decide if I like doing landscapes.  Check back with me after this one ;)

Also, if you've stayed with me this far in this post, do go and check out Chuck's photography.  Then you'll understand why I love Tennessee so much.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Koi Band

$25 plus shipping

This is my largest watercolor to date, about 9x12. When I sat down today I thought I'd paint a carousel horse but this was what happened instead.

The reference photo I used is beautiful and I'm not sure I captured the values I wanted to... I just don't know how to create the dramatic darks in watercolor. So I'm not 100% pleased with the water, but I think the fish came out pretty good.   As you can see, I did several layers for the background.

Carrie Waller is doing a workshop in March that covers exactly that, plus her amazing luminous glass painting technique in watercolor.... I sure would like to go.  Dare I hope I can get to it?  For my birthday maybe? :)

Also, blue painters tape sucks.  Just for the record.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


Today, my sister-in-law stopped over, and I also have a bunch of typing work to do, and I decided I'd skip drawing or painting and make some jewelry.  So I did.  And while I was making jewelry, I finally got a chance to listen to AHA's 30 Paintings in 30 Days:  So What Have We Learned? podcast, and in it she read the email I sent her talking about how I would continue on and sketch with a view to painting and I thought:  "What was I thinking!?  I can't not do art today!"

So I headed to the studio and I thought maybe I'd work on a sketch with a view to painting it, and looked over my list of stuff I wanna paint, and a carousel horse was on it.  I think painting a carousel horse in watercolor would be a ton of fun, so, while I looked at several google images of carousel horses to produce this sketch, I'm proud to say I didn't copy one of them... this is a big deal for me.  (his feet gave me fits... they need work).

I don't know if I'll transfer this one to watercolor paper to paint or try another sketch tomorrow, but I think it'd be enormous fun to produce a series of themed carousel horse paintings, probably in watercolor, because it seems like a good medium for it. 

On with the other stuff I MUST do today, but I'm glad to say I showed up in the studio today despite everything :)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Personal Power

Dragons and flame keep coming up in my art and meditation lately... for me these are potent symbols of raw power.

Women often tend to give away their personal power, taught to remain silent when they are in pain.  I certainly tend that way myself.  Whenever they turn up in my psyche, it's a sure sign that I need to reclaim some of that power for myself... and remind myself that I possess it.

This is a 6 x 9 watercolor painting that you can buy on the For Sale page of this site.
Six more hands today for the 50 Hands/Feet challenge.  I had a good bit of difficulty settling in today; I'm still a bit out of sorts.  I almost didn't fill this page but here they are.  They're still a pain in the butt :)

Monday, February 4, 2013


Another Dreamscapes exercise. I love the meditative quality of it, and I"m really happy with the way the wings came out.  On the other hand, there's lots of room for improvement in my watercolor technique... it's SO different from oil painting.  In watercolor you have to leave the highlights light and build the shadows, whereas when I oil paint I tend to do the opposite, and build highlights on top of shadows.

50 Hands & 50 Feet Challenge

Because one challenge isn't enough this month, (and also because it was my intent to begin with, to improve my drawing skills), I decided to take on a second... SenshiStock's 50 Hands and 50 Feet Challenge.  It's my plan to do 10 hands or feet a day until I make my 100, hopefully by the end of the month, and thereby overcome any hesitance with drawing them, and also the plague of a mind-block I have when it comes to foreshortening (#10, not bad I think, considering I thought it was awful in progress).  I may not get to this every day but I should manage it by March 1.
And today's contribution to One Billion Rising is another henna-inspired watercolor.  At its center is a sort of Triskele.  This particular symbol has a lot of meaning for me; it represents the phases of a woman's life and the maiden, mother and crone aspects.  Juggling these three aspects at any phase of life is part of what it is to be a woman; the maiden represents innocence, the mother nurturing and the crone... well, she can be a bitch sometimes (as is sometimes called for).  Also, as my own life phases out of the motherhood stage -- my son is grown and in college -- there are a lot of lessons for me there, too.  Learning how to be something other than a mom.

Which is kind of what this art thing is all about, when I get right down to it.

Sunday, February 3, 2013


I'm out of sorts today.  I had a heck of a time getting out of bed, and then I procrastinated getting into the studio, couldn't decide what I wanted to paint, or even what media I wanted to play with.  I'd decided that I wanted to get rid of the computer-generated Om graphic on my home page so I thought I'd paint a little Om symbol.

I also decided that I wanted to experiment with Liquin paint medium, which is supposed to make the paint dry faster.  That would be a big deal for me, it'd mean I could work on the same painting several days in a row rather than waiting for five days to let the paint dry and losing my momentum.  It increases transparency, which is good in a way and not in a way.  So this was just partly to play with the medium and see what it does.  Pretty much all of these colors are transparent so it thinned them out quite a bit.
The second mini I worked on today was for Imbolc/Candlemas.  It's one of the pagan festivals and since yesterday (the actual day) was jam-packed and I had a lot of work to cram in, I didn't get to do much in observance. 

Candlemas is the festival of Brighid, the Celtic goddess of fire, spring, poetry, smithing, and childbirth.  As a result the festival is usually celebrated with fire.  I'm not really a rolling flaming wheels down a hill kind of person so I usually just observe with a few candles. 

Brighid was later canonized as a Christian saint and her festival day was turned into a Catholic feast day, and the tradition of divining the weather became our Groundhog Day.

Because the Liquin thinned the paint so much and I was working on a black canvas with transparent paints, I didn't get the effect I wanted here, so hopefully this will dry overnight and I can paint on it some more tomorrow. 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Month In Review

I browsed the collages posted at Leslie's blog.  Most of them have some degree of cohesion but mine is all over the place :)  That's cool though, it's honestly what I was going for.  I wanted to try a little bit of everything.Things I learned this month:

  • A day is incomplete without art.
  • I really like watercolor... for some things.  For others oil seems more appropriate for my style.
  • I want to learn to paint with a knife.
  • I can play and see where my fancy takes me, and if it turns out like crap, it's okay... tomorrow is another day and another piece of art.
  • My calligraphy needs practice.
  • I think I'd like to explore combining traditional henna designs with watercolor and oil.
  • I'm not as interested in the craftsy stuff (i.e. painting on glass) as I'd have thought.
  • It's time to explore making art that doesn't come from photography
  • Sketch and draw more
  • Pastel... meh.  I think there's something I'm missing.  It's on a back burner.
  • People really like dragons.
  • Facebook is great for exposure
  • Horses are still my best subject.
Unfortunately I have piles of "real" work to do today and probably won't get to paint. 

What now?  I posted yesterday but in case you're visiting from Leslie's blog and didn't see it, Janin at Wise Ramblings is hosting a daily painting challenge focused on One Billion Rising, an event aimed at increasing awareness and preventing violence to women.  Check yesterday's post or Janin's blog for more info... join us!

Happy painting.

Friday, February 1, 2013

New Challenges

I kicked around a few different ideas as to what to do with my art now that the 30/30 Challenge is over.  I thought I wanted to narrow my focus a bit (from completely unfocused to... something, lol).  I find that I don't want to restrict myself to one media... I'm enjoying dabbling in oil here, watercolor there, and a little of this and that in between.

What I DID decide is that I want to focus a bit on my drawing and sketching skills, so I was going to do some of that.

But then my friend Janin who did the 30/30 Challenge with me decided to host this One Billion Rising painting challenge, and, well, I am too intrigued to ignore it.  Here's what she has to say about it:

Thoughts and love have the power to bring about change.  For 14 days, beginning February 1, 2013, I invite every artist who comes across this challenge to make one piece of art per day leading up to V day.  It can be drawing, painting, photography, sculpture-- or any medium you wish-- to create a daily piece of beauty that celebrates femininity, women and dancing, as a way to increase awareness, empower women and girls to break the cycle of violence, demonstrate our global solidarity, and positively shift the world energy.
And I am all about that.

So I am going to use this month to explore femininity, and what it means to me to be a woman, and what it means to be a woman in the world in 2013.  Dancing interests me too..

So I started looking for ideas for paintings of women.  I flipped through my reference photos.

But I found this one, and it was perfect.  This is a Fresian mare and foal engaging in mutual grooming... which is the most friendly and intimate thing two horses do together.  This is about a mom teaching her offspring to relate to the world.  How to love.  I loved the photo... the little filly can barely reach mama's withers and her nose is all wrinkled up with trying :)

And for me this is the function of femininity.  This is our first and truest responsibility in how we relate to the world.  Giving of yourself, loving your children, showing them what it is to love and be loved.  I think that if we can do a better job of that across the world, then the violence against women that One Billion Rising is all about, will naturally be lessened.

If you're an artist, and especially if you've just finished your 30/30 challenge and are wondering what to do next, check out Wise Ramblings (Janin's Blog) and also the One Billion Rising website.