Thursday, June 21, 2007

Violet Pepper

Violet seemed pleased with the results. Don't worry...the painting was dry.

This is Violet Pepper my granddaughter. I did this painting when she was 17 months old. When you paint little need a team to entertain, distract and comfort them, so that they will keep looking in the right direction. Both parents took turns having her sit on their laps, reading her stories and singing her songs. Painting fast definitely helps!

More Children

Every artist wants to do something really good...some big "important" piece...something to wow the crowds. But, in truth, some of our best paintings are the ones closest to our hearts. They may be small, but they will always make us smile. The struggle to paint a self-portrait while holding a baby is actually quite a challenge, but to actually do, that is an accomplishment! This little painting will always rank among my all-time favorites. The baby is my youngest daughter, Annie.
"Oh, you're left-handed," someone remarked when they saw this painting. I was very puzzled for a moment. Then, I realized that because I work from life, I had painted this while looking in a mirror.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


Here is another interior of Becky and Lizzie in the studio. Studio props, casts and supplies are all around. The cast behind Becky's head is Nike tying her Sandal, and since Rebekah is tying her Nike, the title of the painting is Nikes. The studio walls are now much darker, and the girls are much bigger!


Rather than give up painting when I had children....they became the inspirtations and subjects of many of my paintings. We did home school, too, and here is a little interior of our "school" with Becky, Lizzie and Dan. This is an oil on panel.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

One more watercolor

OK. One more watercolor...this one is a still life. This, too, was painted as a demo in one of my workshops.

More Watercolors

I use watercolor for all subjects, too. This is a little interior that I did of Priscilla when she was little. Watercolors are easy to set up, as well as clean up, and I usually use them when I cannot use my oils. Hmmm, it is beginning to look like I only painted one of my children. Trust me. They've all posed.

More Watercolors

This is a watercolor interior. I did this while I was teaching a Walk & Watercolor class. I do a lot of demos when I teach. Compare this watercolor to the oil interior that I did on Monhegan. The same artistic principles are used...just the medium is different.

More Watercolors

Watercolors are really handy in the winter. I keep a little set in the car, so if I see something that inspires me, I can pull over and paint looking out the window, in the comfort and warmth of the car. Doing oils outdoors in the winter is really really cold, and the paint gets extremely difficult to move around. This little one was done from the car.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Helpful Hints

Helpful hints? You bet! When I teach, I try to get students to simplify what they are looking at into masses, or shapes of values. The easiest way to do this is to squint. Squinting is great, and it is the cheapest aid to learning to mass. Next to squinting, though, a reducing glass is wonderful! Thanks to another nice picture from Jim Comly (taken May 27, 2007 at the Southern Vermont Art Center demo), you can see that a reducing glass....well....reduces. It is just the opposite of a magnifying glass. By making things smaller, you do not see too many details, and seeing too many details, before seeing the general masses and underlying structure, is what holds beginners back. So, a reducing glass helps to simplify...very important! In addition to this, I use a reducing glass to view my painting, if I can't actually step back from my work. It gives the illusion of standing really far away.


In case you were wondering about my watercolors....they are very small. The ones that I just showed from Monhegan are about the same size as the ones taped to the clipboard in this photo. This is a picture (courtesy of Jim Comly), of a demo (well, 2) that I did recently for the Southern Vermont Art Center (, in Manchester, VT, where I am teaching a class called, Walk & Watercolor in July. Different colored paper will give me a different effect, and it is fun to experiment.

Monhegan Revisited

Here is another watercolor from 16 years ago, which was the only other time that I painted on Monhegan. Comparing this one to the oil I did on June 10th, Monhegan looks pretty much the same. Even the artists are standing in the same spots.

A Look Back ~ Monhegan Revisited

Before my recent painting trip to Monhegan (June 4-10, 2007), I painted there 16 years ago. At that time, I was there with Jack (my husband & fellow artist) and our 5 children. After a few days of lugging my French easel around and doing oils, I turned to my other medium...watercolors. They are much lighter, so hence, much easier to transport. In addition, they dry quickly, and they are easier to store, with little or no damage. This is a quick little study of my daughter, Priscilla, sitting on the rocks by the harbor in morning light. It is 16 years old! It is funny to see how little Monhegan has changed. Priscilla, on the other hand, now has children of her own. Time flies!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Still life - Peonies

I've added more foliage and more lilies on the right. My daughter, her husband and my wonderful grandchildren showed up for Father's Day dinner, so this is as far as I can go today. I am off to a good start, and I will try to keep the painting fresh and moving towards a unified light effect. By tomorrow, the flowers in the set-up will be very different. Some will be full blown, and some will probably be a pile of petals on the table. I will need to replace the flower in the set-up that I had originally placed on the table, as it has now collasped. In case you were wondering, I am doing this painting on a panel.

Painting a still life

I worked on the pink peonies first. Trying to hold onto the illusion of space, by keeping that foremost peony projecting out towards me, was my goal. Then, I began adding the Lemon Liles. Although, they are bright yellow, the main peony still hangs out in front. This will remain the battle in this painting. I step back often. Viewing my work from a distance is very important. If it doesn't "read" from across the room, something is wrong.

Painting a still life

As anyone who paints from life knows, if you paint real flowers....they move towards the light, continue to open, or just droop after a while. So, you need to paint the most important flowers quickly....before they change. After establishing my background and pitching the tones to get the relative effect, I begin to mass my lights and darks. I use large brushes and try to simplify my design into basic shapes and patterns, looking for connections and rhythms.

Starting a still life

The peonies in my garden are at their height, and if I didn't paint them today, I would miss my opportunity for this year. I usually like them when they are in a tight ball, but with the heat and humidity, they were opening very fast. So, I cut a bunch of flowers and set up this still life in my studio. The light comes from a north facing window that starts about 8' off the ground. I put a board behind the set up to give myself a light background. I always stand when I paint, so this is about eye level.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Still More from Monhegan

Here is one from Lobster Cove. The little figure on the left is Ann painting on the rocks. The surf, as you can see, was pretty flat, but the sky and the sparkles on the waves were exciting. This painting, too, was scraped up a bit. Transporting wet paintings is always a project. I guess I should have used a faster drying medium, because all of my paintings remained wet, which is why I had problems getting them home safefly. I will try to touch up the scrapes that you can see on the right. All of my paintings from this trip were done on panels.

More Paintings from Monhegan

OK. So, here is another midday painting. It is up by the lighthouse. Lizzie and Ann were painting along the path in "town", and I decided to look around. I kept looking further and further down the path, and nothing really called to me. Then, I took a skinny trail, which wound up going all the way around the marsh, and somehow, I ended up at the lighthouse. So, I painted...I did enough hiking. From my perch on the hill, I could see the path where my buddies were painting, but a building blocked my actually seeing them. I kept checking to see if they were heading back to the Trailing Yew, but EVERYONE walking seemed to have backpacks, easels and wide brimmed sunhats. I painted until the light was way too different, then, I headed down. Lizzie & Ann were just cleaning up, and we all headed back to get ready for the next painting. This one got pretty messy, but I'll try to fix that roofline soon.

More Paintings of Monhegan

Painting midday is often a drag because the light comes down harsh and the shadows hide as though they are trying to stay out of the sun. Artists prefer to paint early or late in the day, when the shadows are long and inviting. Midday is also usually hot too, and you will wind up with a massive sunburn, which at my age, doesn't help with the wrinkles. So, since we were here to paint, we all decided to paint midday anyhow and an interior in the forest was was cool and the light filtering down was magical. To my surprise, the bugs weren't biting, yet.

More Paintings from Monhegan

This is the first painting I did on Monhegan. We hiked out to White Head, and huge waves were crashing against the rocks. The fog and mists made it a spectacular site, and Ann, Lizzie and I were really stoked! We were really wishing for a repeat for the rest of the week, but the fogs cleared and the seas flatten :( I am glad that we decided to paint here first! It was really special.

Painting Trip ~ Monhegan

Here is the painting I was working on. It is at Fish Beach, and Lizzie is doing a painting looking towards the harbor. As I was working on this, a fisherman kept taking away the various I had to paint extra fast! All of my paintings were wet when we left the island, and the container I had to cradle them, was flipped over and turned on its side, so most of my paintings were smeared and scratched. You can see this on the top of the buildings. I will try to restore them when I have time.

Painting Trip ~ Monhegan

I recently took a painting trip to Monhegan in Maine. It is a little island about 12 miles out to sea from Port Clyde. Monhegan has been attracking artists since the early 1900s, and the lure is still strong today. High cliffs with pounding surf form the east side of the island, while cute fish shanties, quaint houses and a snug harbor line the west side. An enchanted forest lies in between, and hiking trails run east and west, as well as around the island. Artists abound, and it is fun to meet new friends. No cars are allowed on the island. I went with 2 painting buddies, Ann and Lizzie, who also studied at the Art Students League with Frank Mason. We hiked and painted like maniacs from Tuesday to Saturday, and I managed to do 13 oils, 2 watercolors and a couple of drawings in those 5 days. Like I first said...I paint a lot... This was the last oil I did on Saturday. Lizzie has a really good blog (actually 2), and you can see the paintings she did on her blog: This painting has a little figure in it. The figure is Lizzie painting and looking out towards the harbor with a guy rowing (you can see it on her site).

Thursday, June 14, 2007


I have a website:, and it shows my work as well as that of my husband, Jack. We have been married for over 36 years, and we have been painting side by side for most of our married life. The paintings are divided into categories: Landscape, Still Life, Floral and Portrait/Interior. Most are oils (some watercolor), and all are from life. We both studied at the Art Students League, apprenticeship-style, with Master artist, Frank Mason (


In addition to painting, I teach. I love teaching, and I think that it is my duty to pass on what I have learned. Learning to paint is a lifelong journey, and every fresh canvas is a new adventure. I heard a great quote that goes something like this...."Live like you are going to die tomorrow, but learn like you are never going to die."

In this picture, I am doing a demo for one of my landscape painting workshops in CT. I give many workshops in landscape, still life, portrait, and figure for Sylvan Gallery ( ; Lyme Art Association (; and Southern Vermont Art Center (

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Priscilla is posing by a north facing window in the storefront that I rented and used as my Studio/ Gallery. People could come in and watch as I painted. I always had several set-ups (mostly still life) at different stations throughout the storefront. More details and specific colors and features were added as the painting developed. The finished painting, Stylin' , sold at Sylvan Gallery, where I am also represented.

I always paint directly from life, and I always paint from the general shapes, or masses, to the specific details. This is how I was trained, so that I am drawing and painting at the same time. It forces me to draw with the brush, which in turn, keeps the painting fresh and exciting, and it gives me ultimate freedom. This is the "start" of the portrait. I used large brushes and broad, general shapes to indicate form and light.

No Excuses

I paint....a lot.
If you want to be an artist, you have to be willing to work hard, which means that you have to paint...a lot, too. There are no excuses and no short cuts. Producing good paintings involves a great deal of multi-tasking. It involves thinking outside the box, a "Just do it" attitude, and perseverance.
I love this photograph. I am holding my granddaughter, Violet, and painting an alla prima (done in one session) oil portrait of my daughter, Priscilla. It sums up the way a working artist (who happens to be a mother & grandmother) paints.