Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Expressive Figure

I'm continuing to enjoy the figure class at Andy's.  Above is a pastel sketch I did a couple of weeks ago.

At the right is an expressive painting that was done on gold gessoed paper.  It was really a fun exercise!

And below is Green Nude - a sketch I did from Pose 3.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Figure Sketch

I am having so much fun in Andy Braitman's Creative Figure classes on Mondays.  Having the opportunity to sketch (or paint) from a live model is wonderful, and even better is the fact that Andy and Charlotte provide great input, modeling, and feedback.  The sketch on the left took about 20 minutes.  Now, some of you may be thinking that it's not that great!  My challenge to you, try it!  It's a fun and humbling experience.  I remember going to galleries and even museums and sometimes thinking, "I could do that."  Well, in most cases I was speaking out of ignorance.  In the past three years since I have been working on my art, I have come a long way AND I have a long way to go.  In the new book about Stephen Jobs, he is quoted as saying,  "The journey is the reward."  How true!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Back to Painting

Well, I'm finally BACK to painting on a regular basis.  This summer was wonderful with trips to the mountains, to see my dad in Mississippi, to San Francisco, and to Alaska on a cruise.  However, with all of the going AND going to water aerobics and playing golf and bridge, I let my painting take a back seat.

Yesterday, I started a Creative Figure class at Andy Braitman's Studio.  Andy is so great!  He's a wonderful teacher and cheerleader.  He is also good about giving content-specific feedback.  He's encouraging us to try new techniques and to be creative.  I think I'm ready for this!

The painting above is one I finished today at my studio.  I have a new strategy.  I am going to try to finish a painting a day - either one that I started previously or a new one.  I've been reading a lot about learning through making mistakes.  I also read an article where an art teacher said that she encourages her newer (like me) students to finish a painting in three hours - to work on quantity as much or more than on quality.  This sounds like a good idea for me right now.  I tend to work and work and overwork and overwork paintings.  So, I'll blog about how this goes!  

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Still Painting

I'm embarrassed by the fact that I haven't posted in almost two months.  The summer has been great, and I have even done a little painting.  I spent another week in the mountains painting scarves with my sister.  It was cool enough that we could paint outdoors on the porch beside the creek.  I'll post some of our creations soon.

My studio was broken into and the thief stole all of my paints and many brushes.  What, pray tell, would someone other than an artist want with oil paints?  I was surprised that it was very depressing for me - sort of took the wind out of my artist's sails for almost a month.  My landlady has been great, and we now have a new alarm system.  I've replaced about half of the tubes of paint and several brushes.  I should be ready to paint again in September.

My plan for the fall is to get back to regular (at least two days a week) painting.  I'm taking a figure class from Andy Braitman on Mondays beginning mid-September.  I'm really looking forward to this!  During the summer, I've let golf, water aerobics, bridge, taking care of others (not a burden, but a joy), and travel fill most of my time.  Art is back on the  priority list for the fall and winter! 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Nell's Scarf

My sister Nell painted this scarf!  Isn't it a beauty!  We worked together on the background (each of us starting on opposite ends and meeting in the middle) to change the color from blue to green.  Won't it be pretty when it is tied!

Another scarf!

Here's another one of the scarves that I painted while at the John C. Campbell Folk School in Murphy.  We hung our scarves on the windows and doors for the "show-and-tell"session and for our teacher's demonstration. 

For some reason, I got "into" twin figures and panels of colors.  I think the double ladies will be a lot prettier once they are cleaned, ironed, and worn - and not hanging on a glass, classroom door!  

Monday, June 6, 2011

Silk Painting

My sister Nell and I just spent a week in a silk painting class at John C. Campbell Folk School in Murphy, NC.  We stayed at the Franklin guest cabin that we love which is fifty-minutes away.  We had so much fun - painting, visiting, sitting by the creek, and relaxing.  At left is one of my scarves.  It will of course look better after it is taken off the rack, steamed, dry cleaned, and pressed. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Wayah Waters Guest Cabin

Last year, a friend of ours told us about a great little cabin outside of Franklin, North Carolina.  Chuck and I went and stayed there for his birthday, and I have been there twice by myself while Chuck was on business trips.  Over spring break, my sister and I went and stayed for almost a week.  It was great!  The cabin is right beside a rushing creek!  I took a photograph of the front and have spent the last couple of mornings working on this painting.  Hope it will give you an idea of what a neat little place it is. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011


I painted this about a year and a half ago.  I had seen a photo in a local state magazine of a young man serving coffee.  I loved his vest, the cup and saucer, and the dishes behind him.  So, off I went!  UNTIL I got to the face.  In the photo, the man was nerdy looking with glasses and a cone shaped hat.  I decided to substitute my son Kirk's face.  The photo I used for the painting was his senior picture.  You can see from the inset that he has changed quite a bit in eight years.  (It was also one of my first portrait attempts, and I made his face a little too dark.) When I finished the painting, I gave it to him.  Now, he has it out each time I visit him in Raleigh.  (Not sure if he gets it out only for my visits - ha! ha!)  He is, and always has been, one of my biggest supporters with my art.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Roughing it up!

I had a great time with this painting!  In one of the workshops I attended, I learned how to prepare canvases with different types of textures.   This painting was done on a very roughly textured canvas which was developed with a base of gesso and then a sprinkling of a sandy substance used by ceramic artists.  I loved this exercise because it gave me a chance to experiment with, not only the rough texture, but also with a soft wash and blending of the background.  I also had the opportunity to work on facial features and hands and to practice value and shading.  

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries

The quotes below are from Robert Genn's Twice-Weekly newsletter.  I found them especially appropriate since that is exactly what I have been doing this past week or so.  The older lady at the left is one of my "small bets."  I only spent a few hours on her - decided I had learned all I could learn from it and moved on.  

"In Peter Sims' book, Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries, we see the value of making lots of small failures as a way to get to large successes. While Peter's book is mainly aimed at entrepreneurs, it's also of real value to us regular creative types. These days, cutting-edge gurus are passing the word around: "Fail often in order to succeed sooner."

When students are encouraged to do volumes of small items they become accepting-- even proud--of their failures and are more readily able to move on to ideas that work better for them. Simply put and perhaps surprisingly, less commitment widens opportunity. In a hundred small bets, a dozen or so often ring the bells. With this shotgun effect, even beginners are seen to produce gems. As the lady said, "It's better to have a small diamond than a large piece of glass."

PS: "Life is an experiment where failure teaches as much as success." (
Peter Sims)"

Friday, April 22, 2011

Still Playing Around

I spent five hours at the studio today. First, I revised the picture below. The difference from last week's posting is that I cropped it by cutting off the right side. (The blank right side is no longer part of the painting - sorry the photo is not better.) I also added the indication of a face. I used pastels to make some of the highlights and shadows more pronounced


Then, I finished the picture at the right. When I started with this one, the photo reference I used was of a model from the Springmaid workshop. She was a very, very heavy woman. I decided to put her on a diet. Last week, I had painted her in gouache. I was just not very happy with the flat look of the medium - so, today, I added highlights on her hair, shoulder, and arm, and put in darker shadows on her back. I used pastels - lots more fun


Next, I did the picture above.  It has a water-color base with pastels on top.  I can tell that I am getting a little more comfortable with making lights lighter and darks darker.  The overall painting is not as light as the photograph looks.

Finally, I started a new pastel painting of an older woman.  Hopefully,  I'll finish it on Monday - just in time for another post before heading to Atlanta for the National Portrait Society's Annual Convention.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Importance of Play

Lately, I have been "playing around" with the new medium gouache and some new techniques (dripping, color mixing, and less realism).  SO, I found this paragraph in Robert Genn's Twice-Weekly Letter interesting.

Practically all the "great ones" have mentioned the value of play. "Play is the exultation of the possible," said Martin Buber. "Play is the essential feature in productive thought," said Albert Einstein. The American conceptual artist and minimalist Sol LeWitt declared, "Your work isn't a high stakes, nail-biting professional challenge. It's a form of play. Lighten up and have fun with it."

Above is one of my starts from playing around last Friday.
SO, today, I'm off to my studio to once again PLAY!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Experiments with Gouache

I spent all day yesterday and today at my studio experimenting with gouache.  It's sort of like water color, but opaque rather than transparent.....sort of like acrylic.  (I think I have this right.)   The picture at the right is one that I drew while at the Carla O'Connor workshop in Myrtle Beach.  Yesterday I painted it.  I'm sure some of you think it is really weird.....but it was fun!
 This was another one that I sketched in MB.  In this one, I did more experimenting - the gouache certainly doesn't go on the paper like anything else I've ever used.  I'm also using some cold-pressed paper which is very slick.  Next week, I'll try hot-pressed.  I think I'll like it better. 

Don't think that I don't realize that this is not that great!  However, when I started the blog I said that I would share successes and failures.  I actually started painting this one at the workshop.  The class was huge and the teacher only got to each student once during a three-hour period.  (Not a good guided practice situation.) SO, after three hours of my being frustrated with a new medium and a new technique, the teacher came over and painted a bunch of red all over it.....I will admit that it looked better than what I had done, but......anyway, I made some changes yesterday and LEARNED a lot. 

I started another painting today - we'll see!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Studio Pictures

I thought some of you might like to see where I spend a good bit of my "free" time.  Here are pictures of the studio.  I have two rooms that open into each other and a little alcove for storage and cooking.  There are a couple of empty studios available.  If you know of anyone who is interested, I believe Jack and Ruth Pentes, the owners, are listed in the phone directory! 

Thursday, March 31, 2011


Here's a picture of my good friend, Nancy Beasley, and my landlady, Ruth Pentes, at my studio!  Nancy and Ruth happen to be neighbors.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Studio Visitors

On Tuesday, friends from our dinner group came to visit my studio.  I thought it would be fun to take their pictures with one or two of their favorite paintings.  Friends shown are Cindy Holley who is holding a painting I started in Angela Nesbit's workshop, Tammy Brown who is holding sketches of my son Kirk who she taught in first grade twenty years ago, Guyla Vardell, and Nancy Beasley!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

More sketchbook examples

The class sketchbook assignments provided by some students were very interesting.  Since there are fifty sketches due from each student, I'd better get busy!  Here are a few more that I've completed - or almost completed.  Again, they are just sketches!

Sketchbook assignments

Draw what you would see if you looked through a keyhole

Something mechanical

Someone who is boxed in

Your favorite shoe

Being out of town for over a week resulted in no blog posts and only a little "artwork."  My time has been filled with working on sketchbook assignments for my drawing class at Queens.  The teacher asked that each student submit two assignments.  She then added several of her own to complete the semester assignment.   I'm attaching a couple of my sketches.  These are very simplistic (not very good) and some are direct "copies" of photographs.  However, they are very good learning experiences. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Haven't had much time to post.  I've been spending most of my time either in drawing class or working on sketchbook assignment items.  I'll try to post some of these as soon as I get my car back from the shop (camera's in the trunk) and get back from San Francisco.   We did a really neat activity yesterday in class.  It was called the Exquisite Corpse - based on a parlor game that Surrealist artists used to play with both words and artwork.  We listened to the reading of a poem.  Then, we drew a detailed ink picture to fill the top one-third of the page.  We covered this third except for about an inch at the bottom.  Then, we moved to another drawing board, listened to a poem, filled in the next third, etc.  At the end of the class, we posted the drawings - very, very interesting.  My sister who is a teacher says that she has done this with students (first person writes an adjective, passes the paper, next person writes a noun, passes the paper, next person writes a verb.....etc.   or one person begins a story, next person adds an event, etc.) 

Friday, February 4, 2011

Drawing class at Queens

I'm taking Drawing I at Queens University.  It meets twice a week - Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:40 until 4:20.  I'm amazed at how challenging it is for me.  I, of course, am the oldest person (by about forty years) in the class.  It's fun to see the young people and to hear their comments!  Great!  Jayne Johnson is our teacher, and she is very good.  She gives some really helpful content-specific feedback.  The picture above is a drawing of a piece of canvas.    Hard to believe that it took me two class periods to complete this.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Twice a week goal

I'm trying to write and publish a picture on my blog twice a week.  That means sometimes I have to pull from older paintings.  This painting is one that I started while in France with Connie Winters in 2009.  I then finished it a few months ago from the photograph.  The building is across the street from the hotel where we stayed! (Based on the crookedness of the photo (frame), maybe I need to take a photography class, too.)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Portrait Struggles

I had an old portrait sketch from a class practice.  I decided to try and make it more "complete."  This has proved to be such a challenge.  I'm posting my progress - still can't get the eyes and side of the face.  Maybe by posting it, I will be inspired to finish it.  I'm using  a wig stand with upper left lighting to try to get the values of the light and shadow.....quite a challenge!  However, it is really a good learning exercise!

Snow week

Well, I totally frittered away Monday through Wednesday.  They would have been great days to paint, but I was stuck inside due to the snow.  It just reinforced to me how much I "need" my studio. 

Yesterday, I went over to Tony Griffith's studio to sketch from the live model he hires each week.  I'm posting a couple of my sketches - just remember, these are twenty-minute poses.  I also started my drawing class at Queens.  I'm really excited about it, and I will try to post some drawings as the semester progresses.