Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wheat Field (revisited) 9x12" -Sold

While looking for framed artwork for an upcoming show in January, I found and oldie that needed fixing.

The original (here) was done on location two years ago, and at the time, I felt compelled to paint just what I saw. Because back then I needed some work for a show on plein air, the painting was framed almost right away. As it often happens after I frame something, I became more aware of the mistakes I did, so I simply stored it in a closed. Every time I took it out I would add one more thing to my mental list of the things that needed fixing: the repeated shapes of the hills and the stands of trees, the strong colors, the barrier formed by the wheat field and tree stand.

I think I have addressed all those issues, and for the time being, I also think that this version speaks more of fall.Link

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Almost Gone, 7x5"--SOLD

Another small painting I had in last weekend show.
It's loosely based on a photo I took last year. Fall colors were not as spectacular this year, very likely because of so much rain.

Some good news: I'll have a show in September next year at the Edgewood Gallery here in Syracuse. I'll be sharing the show with another pastel artist who paints mostly flowers, and a woodcarver. I'm already thinking of a theme...

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Willow in Fall, 7x5" -SOLD

The Plowshares Festival went very well: I sold 6 paintings on Saturday and 3 on Sunday (which in previous years have been a dud). Of course, it helped that there was no snow. Thank you to all the locals who came and stopped by!

This painting is a rework of one I did in April. I liked the mood in the original one but the bare tree trunk looked so menacing, more like a big spider, so I took a brush and removed pastel from some areas. Most willows from around here still had their green leaves on a few weeks ago, so that was my inspiration for the colors. The mood is not quite the same but still gives the idea of a rainy, and somewhat cold, fall day.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Blue Fence, 7x5"

I've been on painting frenzy because this coming weekend is the Plowshares Festival here in Syracuse. With so many things going on lately, I thought I still had two weeks to prepare for the show, so imagine my shock when I learned I only had one week to get things ready!

Anyway, things are coming along better than I expected. I have created some new paintings (like the one here, from the Phoenix Flower Farm), finished others, and have also resurrected and improved old ones. Right now, I'm working on three small paintings at the same time. This might sound weird but it's working just fine for me: when I get stuck on one I move to the next and so on, and because I have them on a shelf where I can see them, it's not likely that I'll forget to finished any of them.

On another note, Thank You to all my followers! This blog is three years old, and I probably wouldn't have continued it if it weren't for you. I started it as a way of forcing myself to work in my studio during the cold winter months-- and it worked! Now, if I do not post something at least every two weeks, I feel guilty. I'll try to post more often though.

Below is the way Phoenix Sunset (sold)-which was in last post, looks now:

Friday, November 11, 2011

Workshop with Marc Hanson in Arizona

For several years I have been wanting to take a workshop with Marc Hanson and finally, two weeks ago I had the chance and headed to the Scottsdale Artist's School in Arizona.
The emphasis of the workshop was painting from field to studio and the main issues related to both situations.

B&W Study 1-Getting acquainted with the flora

Day 1.
After introductions and a demo by Marc on how to do black and white studies, we went to Papago Park to find subjects to paint. That first day outdoors was tough mostly because of the the heat and my not being familiar with the plants and colors of the desert. I worked from a shelter all day and at the end I had 4 small studies, all done on 4.5 x 6" Canson paper. I had left my white and black pastels at home so I had to work with a range of purples. After struggling with the first one, I decided to work on the smooth side of the paper and the going got easier.

B&W Study 2

B&W Study 3, Saguaro

B&W Study 4, Papago Buttes

Day 2 . Color study day.

Color Study 1, 12x9"
We arrived very early at the park in order to avoid the heat. I looked around for something really appealing to paint and found a pond surrounded by palm trees --an oasis!

In the afternoon I did a color study of some bushes. One thing that called my attention were the shadows: right under them they were reddish, becoming bluish as they came closer to sunlit areas. I have never seen this so clearly before.

Color Study 2, 9x12"

Later on I did a panoramic view of the mountains beyond the buttes. The colors of the mountains kept on switching from warm earths to cool blues because of clouds to the south and the problem was that I liked both colors!

Color Study 3, 9x12"

That day we stayed late at the park to try capturing the sunset colors. It was very hard as in my eagerness to work fast it didn't occur to me to use my hand to keep the sun from blinding me. My sunset wasn't that great but I knew that with some work it could look better.

Day 3. In the morning, two other participants and I decided to go back to the park very early and do more painting before class.

Saguaro Color Study, 9x6"
I worked some more on my pond painting but got quite frustrated with the changing reflections on the water and my going after them instead of sticking with what I originally had.

Back in the classroom, Marc did a large color demo. It was so enlightening! He basically finished the whole thing in a few hours. He said that one needs to visualize the finished painting before starting it. This came as an epiphany! I think this is a key point: once you have your composition and color scheme worked out and you have a mental painting, it's probably easier not to get side-tracked with unimportant things.

In the afternoon I did a color study based on my black and white study of the saguaro. I found this exercise very valuable as sometimes I tend to get carried away with color, forgetting to match the correct values.

Day 4, I started my large painting on a 16x20" Ampersand Pastelbord. I thought the mountain view of my previous color study was more interesting for a large painting.

Things were going well at the beginning but somewhere I got lost. I do remember fussing about color intensity from background to foreground. Also, comparing it now to the color study, there is so much deviation in color... I definitely need to rework it.

Large painting, unfinished, 16x20"

After my frustration with the large painting, I worked on the sunset from day 2.

Phoenix Sunset, 7x9"

Day 5 In the morning I worked on my pond painting.

Pond at Papago Park, 12x9"
For critique we had to select two pieces of work. I chose the large painting (the one that had given me so much grief) and the one of the pond.

He said for me to work on being more suggestive or expressive with shape (especially with trees) and not to give much detail to areas that aren't important. Something else he suggested was to work on the substrate that was right for me. He thought my pond painting was the better one (and I agreed with him on that). He said that I seemed to be struggling with the Ampersand board because of its texture, so he suggested I redo that scene on a different support. Having worked on Ampersand boards before and with good results, I think the real problem for me was not having imagined the painting finished beforehand thus not having a clear idea of where I was going with it. I do not like to leave things unfinished so I'm hoping to resolve those issues soon.

Coming home after a 5-day workshop with only two finished paintings would have seemed ridiculous to me before, but not this time. Even if I had come home with no finished paintings at all, I wouldn't have been totally disappointed. I enjoyed every minute of the workshop and feel that I learned very important things, which if applied to my work, might yield better results.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Adirondack Shack, 12x9"

Two weeks ago a friend and I went to Old Forge to catch the fall colors that were supposed to be at their peak there.
We weren't disappointed at all and came back with lots of reference material.

This little shack is next to View, the new arts center at Old Forge. I don't know if it was a cabin or some kind of station, but it's been abandoned for several years now. I like to imagine it as a summer cottage with the bare necessities.

This was supposed to be a quick study but it took longer than I expected because I had to make several value adjustments between the background trees and the sunlit areas of the foreground trees.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Rural Twilight, 11x14"

This house, located near Ansonia, Pennsylvania, has intrigued me ever since I saw it for the first time. Perhaps is the spruces behind it that frame it so well and make it look imposing from the road.

Anyway, for several years I have been wanting to paint it but did not like the thought of just painting the photo reference. I wanted the painting to tell a story. Then, a few months ago, the idea of something happening inside the house in late evening came to me while I was painting sunsets, and this is the result.

Monday, October 3, 2011


Moon at Dusk, 5x7"--SOLD
I was making some progress cleaning my studio when suddenly came down with a cold that made me useless for two days. On day three, I was feeling a little bit better and celebrated it by doing some painting.

The first one is based on a photo I took from the highway. Since the foreground in the photo was a blurry mass, I decided to make one up.

Utica Sunset, 8x10"
The second one was a serendipity painting--I looked at some reference photos I had in a file and this one, which at the time I though I would never paint, jumped at me. I'm not sure this is the final version. I'm toying with the idea of adding some red lights from a car going towards the area of interest.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Gerry Lake, en plein air, 16x12"

This painting was done over a year ago at Gerry Lake near Oxford, NY, when another friend an I joined the Colorscape Chenango Plein Air Painters of Central New York for a day of painting.

I have recently reworked some areas that were bothering me, and lightened the color of the trees. Because this was done on a coarsely prepared board, toned with red, I had to be careful of not clogging the tooth too much. This kind of surface gives the work an unfinished quality that I like.

On a different note, I have to confess that I did not paint at all this past week simply because my studio has become a mess. It's bad when you can't find colors you know you have. I wish I was the kind of person who uses a pastel stick and puts it back where it belongs after each use. But no; mine end up in an dirty pile and now I'm paying for it. It's a very bad habit that I need to get under control. This coming week my goal is to neaten my working area and rearrange my pastels in a way that should make it easier to keep clean and organized.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Miniature paintings, 5x7"

Storm Cloud near Tully -SOLD
I have been accepted once again to participate at the Plowshares Craftsfair and Peace Festival in December. For shows of this kind small paintings sell better than large ones, so I have begun preparing for it.

I painted these two this weekend. The more detail there is, the harder it is to cram it all in, as it happened in the second one.

Meadowbrook Pond -SOLD
I don't consider them studies, as many artists do when working in this size. I see them as paintings in their own right, and I frame them only when they look right to me. If I feel inclined to make a larger version of any of them, I already have the advantage of being familiar with the scene and color scheme, and very often the second version turns out better.

My husband call them "postage stamp paintings", but framed in a wide frame they look nice.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Leetonia Road, en plein air, 12x9"

As we had done in other years, my family and I spent Labor Day weekend at a friend's camp in Leetonia, in northern Pennsylvania. This area is close to the Great Canyon of the East.

There was so much green everywhere that I did not feel like painting; after some thinking I realized I was afraid of failing even before starting. So basically, I forced myself to paint. This in turn forced me to look more carefully at the possibilities I had before me, and this partially sunlit road offered the most interesting subject.

I think the correct name of the road is Painter Leetonia Rd.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Old Forge Plein Air Paintout

Adirondack Cottage, 9x12"

This past weekend was the Plein Air Paintout at Old Forge, NY, that culminated in the auctioning of donated artwork to benefit the new art center, View.

This first scene is one that I have been studying since I took a workshop with Susan Ogilvie in May of last year. It's a private entrance seen from the parking lot of the old arts center. It seems that having all this time to ruminate on the scene helped me immensely because the painting went very smooth.

After checking several places for painting potential I decided to go to the Moose River. This area is one that everyone sees when entering the town.

Moose River by Rt 28th, 9x12"

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Madison Windmills, 8x10"-Sold

My plan was to start another painting based on the previous one, but this photo from the same area begged me to paint it first.

For several years I had seen the windmills in the distance and was very curious as to what they looked like up close, so last year my daughter and I went to Madison county in search of them. Not only did we take lots of pictures but also fell in love with the countryside.

As a believer in renewable energy, I plan to include windmills in some future paintings. The ones here are barely visible on the left.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Cumulus Cloud, 8x10" -Sold

The variable weather we've been having has gotten me in the mood to paint skies.

This small painting took me longer to finish than I had expected. Somehow, clouds always look so inviting and easy to paint but once I start painting them I realize that it's not so easy after all to represent their three dimensionality.

I've just got another idea for a different version of this... I'll better get to work on it!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Fast Moving Front, 11" x 17"

This painting is based on the same reference photo that I used for Distant Pond.
While a larger format allows for more detail, it can also make things more difficult if you want to keep it loose. Perhaps that's why it took me over three weeks to finish it. Several times I thought it was done only to come next day and erase the previous day's work. I even added a dirt road -and still think it would have been a good idea, but it did not come out the way I wanted, so maybe another time, another painting.

I'm becoming more aware of how much one can learn from painting different versions of a particular scene. To avoid repetition you are always asking yourself what to add or remove to make the painting work.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Rock Garden, en plein air, 9" x 12"

My friend MaryBeth and I went painting this morning to her next-door neighbor's garden. She had told me about this garden before but I didn't imagine it had so much to offer!

This scene with black-eyed Susan, mullein, and globe thistle, was the first one that caught my attention, so after scouting for a while I figured I needed some practice painting foregrounds and this one offered the perfect setting.

From the very beginning my goal was to practice, not to produce a finished painting; that took so much pressure off and I'm happy with the results.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Orchard - en plein air paintings

The Orchard, 9"x12"
Beats me what made me do it , but I painted this last Thursday at midday when the temperature was in the 90's. I placed my box under a mulberry tree and once I started painting I wasn't that aware of the heat. It was done in about an hour--thus the level of detail, but one of the advantages I see on working fast on location is that one is forced to make decisions on the spot about placement of objects and values.

This year the orchard will be remembered as the year of fallow because besides the perennial bed, garlic, a tomato plant and a few herbs the rest is weeds and more weeds due to the work we are doing on the house.

The following are the previous paintings I've done from the same spot:

The Apple Trees - 2009, 9"x12"

The Scarlet Runner - 2008, 11"x11"

The Garden - 2008, 13"x17"

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Old Barn, 10" x 10"

I wanted to have this piece finished and framed for the Lavender Festival last week but I had reached a point where careful consideration was needed, so very reluctantly I decided to let it rest for a little while.
Even today, after having taken a few final shots I impulsively added some blue green to the background tree, and that had the effect of tying things together.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Nick Lake and Moose River, 5" x 7"--SOLD

The 4th Finger Lakes Lavender Festival at Lockwood Farm was great, and from what I heard it's getting better each year.

Nine of my small paintings found new homes, including these two from the Adirondacks, and the one from the previous post. I loved this event because I had the chance to talk to lots of people, meet other artists, and even educate people about the pastel medium.

From my booth I had the opportunity to take lots of pictures of people picking lavender, and I have already been editing some for future paintings. I rarely include people in my landscapes so this project will be interesting.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Distant Pond, 8" x 10"-Sold

This little one was finished last night in preparation for the Finger Lakes Lavender Festival in Skaneateles next month.

I have been on a slump of sorts with respect to painting simply because I've been painting with a wide brush: my house facade is finally getting the TLC it needed and my husband, daughter, and I are doing all the work. It's not easy to stand up in front of your easel when you are physically tired from the morning chores.

The house is looking nice and I'm starting to feel that I can produce new paintings again.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Fall Reflections (reworked) 8"x10" - Sold

Sometimes a blurry photo is the perfect beginning for art exploration. Over a year ago I painted two very different fall scenes based on such a reference (see Two from One). The main objects in the photo that triggered my interest were a pond, a pasture right behind it, and a hill.

When the other objects that compose the landscape are not clearly defined you just make some up! Sometimes this works, but other times the made up objects look too out of place.
This was the case with my first version of this painting which I'm posting here so you can compare it to the newer version:

I had it framed for a local group exhibit because I did not have anything else that was new, but when I brought it back home something about it kept on nagging me. So I took it out of the frame and reworked it. It has gone through so many changes but I think this is it. I feel that this newer version is more poetic or romantic and certainly less static than the first.

Now I'm letting my paintings rest for while before framing them.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Spring Flow, 10" x 9"

Rocks have never been my favorite subject to paint but at a recent workshop with Robert Carsten, one of his paintings inspired me to challenge myself on this subject; after all, what's the point of taking a workshop and paint easy things?

This was my second workshop with him, but this time I spent most of the two days working on a single scene with a rocky wall. Robert kept me going at it when I would have given up or would have considered the painting done. His point was that I need to learn to go the extra mile! I also learned that you reach a point in the painting when you need to stop, think, and make decisions that sometimes deviate from what you originally wanted.

Most of this scene, was done during the last hour of the workshop, by then, rocks did not seem so scary a subject anymore.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Redbuds, en plein air, 9" x12"

This is my 3rd plein air painting this year, and so far, the only one I'm happy with.

One thing my 1st one taught me was to paint the center of interest right away. I wanted a blooming peach tree among the delicate green of leafing apple trees, but the painting ended up being about the old, tall house behind my orchard because that's where I started!

I'm not sure exactly what my 2nd has taught me... Everything came out being too colorful, so perhaps to beware of painting under complete shade when your subject is in full sun? I just hope to get the chance to practice some more this year.

This wonderful garden in the middle of a city block belongs to my friend Parmalee and her husband. The garden is the setting for her photographs.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Old Painting, New Look: Seagulls at Dusk, 13" x 18"

The latest version

I decided to take a closer look at old paintings that are still with me despite having been shown over and over, and now are taking precious space on my walls or in the studio.

I started with Seagulls at Dusk, a painting I did in 2007, based on a photo from the Wet Canvas reference library. At the time, I was very happy that I had used the photo reference in a minimal way (see photo at the bottom) and had let my creativity take over.

Lately, all I was seeing where repetitious and boring forms, so I gave myself two choices, to improve it or to trash it. As soon as the wall of conifers in the distance were removed I started seeing new possibilities. For now, I'm happy with the way it turned out as I feel it has some soul, but who knows what will happen in four years...

First version, 2007

photo reference

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Marina on the Salmon River, 18"x24"

This is one of the large pieces I had in the show last month.

It was a tricky piece from the very beginning because the photo reference was taken during late afternoon on a cloudy day and I wanted to experiment representing midday light and temperature.

Also, I had to get rid of foreground trees and reeds in order to create a more pleasing composition, and later on, I had to subdue the orange tree in the background because it was detracting attention from the boathouse. All in all, I think it works, but it left me with the need to learn more about the colors during midday hours.