Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Holiday Plannin' Sale

Now a belated Cyber Week Sale. On sale today through Dec. 9th 2013. 
New Coupon Code: ADASHOFSPICE 
More items will be posted today and tomorrow 
that I was unable to get up during my 
Black Friday and Cyber Monday sale due to illness etc..


The holidays are sneaking up on me. I thought for a moment that I should hide from them, and get through them with the simplest gifts and plans possible. That didn't last long as gift project ideas would force their way into my hibernation. Instead I have plunged into several gift projects from knitting to quilting to painting to jewelry making. (I know, jeez louise, I'm crazy.) You see in my mind creating + giving = festive.

Gifty Things

And I've made plans to improve my gift offerings available for sale. I have some new jewelry styles I'm hoping to add shortly after Thanksgiving. I even plan to share several paintings. In the mean time I decided to share this token towards gift shopping.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

"Why, Hello There..."

"Why, Hello There..."

8" by 8"

Oils on Panel

Ms. Jack-o-Lantern

I carved this pithy lady too soon to be out on Halloween (She rotted dramatically about a week ago, with long harry white mold coming out of her eyes and her whole interior fuzzily black.). She is my favorite attempt I have ever made at a jack-o-lantern. Her face was inspired by the pumpkin that I intentionally picked with a dent skewed upwards that made a great start for a crooked smile. My favorite halloween styles come out of the 1930s so I kept that in mind as I styled her eyes to look up and her eyelashes to be dramatic. Finally I realized she must be looking at something and added a friendly mouse.

'Tis a happy halloween thing I am sharing!


I must do a Whole Piece series painting. If you'd like to add your facial feature to my series, read about it here.

Monday, October 28, 2013

"Humble Blush," Daily Painting # 49

"Humble Blush," Available (click here)

8" by 8"

Oils on Panel

Pink Pumpkin (Well, sort of...)

When I was told there was a pink pumpkin variety I have to admit I wasn't sure I'd like the looks of it. I was imaging a sort of Cinderella Barbie pale fuchsia perfectly round pumpkin, what I found seems much more suitable to an earthy version where Cinderella might have to carve a door for herself and sit below dangling pumpkin seed ornaments. 'Tis my kind of pink pumpkin.

Now the reason I actually bought this was because I have been told it is the best pumpkin eats around. I actually bought another pumpkin to paint and a colorful squash. But the longer I had this pumpkin the more it's pink blush spread over it's lumpy-cream surface and I saw it's imperfect shape from different angles the more it was drawing me in. So I painted it first. :P (There is a jack-o-lantern painting waiting to be posted.)


I chose to closely crop the composition around the pumpkin to emphasize it's uneven base and allow our eyes to scan the color shifts across the surface of the pumpkin. Enjoying it's imperfection, even glorifying it seems very much in keeping with Halloween where we can try out oddity and villainy with no regrets.


My favorite jack-o-lantern ever painted up. I've got a new pet portrait to share and I'm antsy to start up on the Whole Piece series again. I'm hoping to get many more daily paintings in soon. That's the scoop for now.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

"Murdoch," Pet Portrait


9" by 13"

Mixed Media

All Scruff

My friendship with Murdoch made the process of working on this piece more meaningful. For me Murdoch is all scruff. His unusual wiry mane of neck and back hair gets fuller as he gets older and emphasizes he isn't like other dogs, he is wilder, more independent, and just stubborn. With all that comes a lively spirit that bounds through the outdoors and hunts with vigor and less than precision. He is a small dog, but you wouldn't imagine him with a sweater on. But when he wears a sweater what is exposed of his mane just looks bolder stand up straighter. I pushed color and allowed the surface texture of the canvas to show through to give the whole piece a slightly rough and textured look befitting Murdoch's strong personality.


Currently I am working on another pet portrait and I am near completion. I'm looking forward to more daily paintings next week. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

"His Home," Daily Painting # 48

"His Home," Available (Click Here)

5" by 7"

Oils on Panel

A Galapagos Tortoise

I decided I had to catch the quiet giants (they are the oldest creatures at the zoo) before my Mom and I left the San Diego Zoo on our latest visit. It was twilight and a bit cool. It seemed all the tortoise's had just bedded down for the night, and in such an odd way. At the back of their exhibit is a cave like area with heat lamps and hay that looked perfectly cozy for tortoises to rest in, but none of them were in there despite the cooler night. They were all pulled into their shells, a few of them had wedged between a plant and the edge of their exhibit huddled together, another was just pressed against another wall, a couple were pushed up against each other, but this guy was in the middle of the exhibit just tucked in his shell all alone. He seemed the least tucked in.

We were chatting about their surprising arrangement and to our embarrassment we woke this guy up. He looked confidently at us, like he knew we were there on his time and in his space. We hushed ourselves, duly reprimanded. My camera was out to take pics of them sleeping so I snapped a couple of quick pics and we left this guy and his friends to sleep.


I think I'll do a portrait of one of the apes I photographed on a recent field trip with my husband's Anthropology class. The apes were absorbing, we got lucky. :)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

30 Paintings in 30 Days Achieved!

Here is a rough compilation of my last thirty days of painting! Today has been joyous because it was full of the moments and activities I had been missing in order to get those paintings done. I still found myself wanting to paint by the end of the day, just too tired to do it. I will be back to painting and posting, but perhaps for more like five days a week. ;) 

Monday, September 30, 2013

"Whole Piece 12," Daily Painting # 47

"Whole Piece 12," Available (click here)

5" by 7"

Oils on Panel

I made it! Thirty paintings in thirty days! 'Tis a relief to have accomplished my goal with a last marathon of three paintings in one day! Squeeeee!

If your interested in knowing more about this series visit here. Find out how you can get your facial feature painted here.

"Whole Piece 11," Daily Painting # 46

"Whole Piece 11," Available (click here)
4" by 4"
Oils on Panel
If your interested in knowing more about this series visit here. Find out how you can get your facial feature painted here.

"Whole Piece 10," Daily Painting # 45

"Whole Piece 10," Available (click here)

4" by 4"

Oils on Panel

If your interested in knowing more about this series visit here. Find out how you can get your facial feature painted here.)

"Whole Piece 9," Daily Painting # 44

"Whole Piece 9," Available (click here)

4" by 4"

Oils on Panel

I'm in the last throes of a 30 day painting marathon. In order to reach my gaol I must complete 3 small paintings today. More will be said about this painting in my catch up period. Wish me luck!

(If your interested in knowing more about this series visit here. Find out how you can get your facial feature painted here.)

Sunday, September 29, 2013

"Whole Piece 8," Daily Painting # 43

"Whole Piece 8," Available (click here)

4" by 4"

Oils on Panel

Even a Smile Isn't Straightforward

Have you ever been digging through a box of ancient family photos and found a picture of someone without a label that nobody in your immediate family is old enough to remember them? Did it give you a dull sad feeling in the pit of your stomach that made you search their face to understand them? For me it is as if I owe that long past relative some sort of personal understanding, some recognition. I've stared at eyebrows, at which side of a mouth sits higher in a smile, at the softness of flesh around eyes and tried to have a moment where it feels like we are looking at each other face to face in the present.  Often I latch on to one aspect of their expression and waffle as to what it means. Ultimately I make a decision to be certain of what it means. But I can't help knowing in the back of my mind it isn't real enough. I can't complete the self deception.

I find myself with a similar feeling when studying a facial feature. There is so much that can be seen in the pull of muscles and flesh that makes up a facial expression, but there is also so much that can be read into that expression that isn't there.

(If your interested in knowing more about this series visit here. Find out how you can get your facial feature painted here.)


I am excited to delve into some wrinkles. Amorphous and playful curvilinear lines that I can accentuate with emotional color.

"Whole Piece 7," Daily Painting # 42

"Whole Piece 7," Available (click here)

4" by 4"

Oils on Panel

Whole Piece Series

Here is the much hyped second nose painting (It was completed yesterday, but the photo disappeared! :P). The relative of the first nose painting. Today you will be seeing at least one more Whole Piece painting of the corner of a mouth(It's almost done! :)). It is exciting to see how my own impression of the facial feature and expression it shares shifts the longer I look at the feature in isolation.  (Read about the Whole Piece Series here. Join the Whole Piece series here.)


For this painting I played a lot with texture. I wanted to capture the feel of the skin texture and wrinkling without going into photo realism which could be tempting when focusing on one small area for awhile. I'm happy with the mood that texture conveys here.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

"Whole Piece 6," Daily Painting # 41

"Whole Piece 6," Available (click here)

4" by 4"

Oils on Panel

30 Paintings in 30 Days! Yeeps.

I'm in the final stretch of the 30 paintings in 30 days challenge I joined. I had a total of three days off over the last month which means I have to finish 5 paintings in the next three days. I've done one and a half paintings these last two days. Something has come up both days that has kept me just short of two paintings a day. This is the last push! I do not intend to be beaten. So there.

The Series

I have finally gotten to a new feature! So far for my Whole Piece series I had only done mouths and eyes, but I fully intend to show off every facial feature including important wrinkles and creases. (The Whole Piece series is explained here. To get involved read more here.) This is yesterday's painting and since then I've completed another nose. These two noses were a great opportunity to show similarity and difference between generations as they are of a mother and daughter with the same facial expression.


Another nose as I mentioned. Then a corner of a mouth (Currently in progress!). Then, some forehead wrinkles. That's the plan. I think I shall close out this 30 days challenge with the Whole Piece series.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

"Whole Piece 5," Daily Painting # 40

"Whole Piece 5," Available (click here)

5" by 7"

Oils on Panel

A Shadow Cast

Whole Piece 5 Side View
(Without as much glare! I must take some
 time to redo the photographs
 of so many of my paintings that
are tainted with the glare from
bright lights in night photographs.)
The moody gloriously shifting shadows in the reference for this painting drew me to more subtle brushwork than usual. I am intrigued by how subtle an eye can be. In interactions between people we focus so much on other's eyes. It is natural to spend a lot of time understanding the other person through what their eyes tell us, so we think of them as bright and full of contrast and liveliness. Here the shadows cast across the skin and over the eye are much more dramatic in contrast than the eye itself. Because this eye is in shadow I feel it draws my eye to it more, trying to understand it's subtly, trying to read the expression.

Whole Piece Series

I have gotten a few volunteers for my Whole Piece series! ( You can read about the idea and how you can join in here and here.) I believe my next piece in this series will explore a new feature. I'm interested in a few photos I have of noses and forehead wrinkles.

Adventures that Lead to Paintings

I have a trip to the zoo planned for tomorrow! I'm hoping for some splendid new reference. I must spend some time with the monkeys I think, and perhaps some colorful birds. Hopefully something will surprise and inspire me. I will not be able to paint, so I'll be playing catch up for a few days. Wish me luck. :)

Monday, September 23, 2013

"Attentiveness," Daily Painting # 39

"Attentive," Available (click here)

6" by 6"

Oils on Panel

Ornate Hawk-Eagle

When I have some time to myself at the San Diego Zoo I usually find myself late in the afternoon standing at the far back of the zoo in front of one of the raptor outdoor aviaries. (I often pull anyone I'm with there too, but other people don't seem quite as intent on staring at these birds.) Once I found myself with a churro in hand tearing mouthfuls and chewing at about the same pace as the giant Harpy Eagle was consuming what appeared to be a rat. The bird's focus and careful dexterous movement felt familiar, gruesome, and beautiful.

This  Eagle's sharp outline and quite present patterning are eye catching, but its beauty is not what kept me watching it. Whenever I am there it seems to be a bit removed from the viewing area and fascinated by one place or another on the low ground of its soaring aviary. This time I actually saw the low growing plants rustle as a creature moved under them. Because of the eagle's interest I watched everything more closely. I watched the ground for what seemed like minutes (it was probably just a minute) and then watched the eagle for minutes as it made small shifts, seeming always to move so that it could eye the ground more carefully.


I believe another bit of a face will be captured. If you'd like to see your eye, nose, or mouth painted visit this post. And if you'd like to know why I am painting individual paintings of eyes, wrinkles, and mouths visit this post

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Saturday, September 21, 2013

"Sisters," Daily Painting # 37

"Sisters," Available (click here) 

5" by 7" 

Oils on Panel

More on this painting tomorrow! It is time for bed. See you all tomorrow.

"Commingled," Daily Painting # 36

"Commingled," Available (click here)

5" by 7"

Oils on Panel

Subtle Color

Out of the bouquet of flowers that my husband brought me I singled this simple one out for an unusual reason, at least for the way my mind works. (A mind drawn to brilliant colors like a magpie to shiny objects.) I picked this flower for its subtle but present color. Then, of course, I couldn't just have it sit in a lovely vase. I went around the house with the flower in mind. I spotted the abalone shell, a shell thought to be gloriously colorful, and liked the idea of showing how similar they are to one another. I wanted the idea and colors of the two organic things to commingle.


Today's painting is begun, I'll leave the rest for a surprise later today. ;)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

"Whole Piece 4," Daily Painting # 35

"Whole Piece 4," Available (click here)
5" by 7"
Oils on Panel

Oh the mustache! That unruly bugger was a load of fun to paint. Capturing the abstract qualities and personality of the coarse facial hair was a new experience. I've never painted facial hair this close up, so I played with deep purple shadows and green highlights to give it playfulness. Also, what better way to spend a day than to gaze at a smile! Painting this today perked me up.

For the Whole Piece painting series I want capture how much we read from just one facial feature. I look forward to painting the wrinkles in a brow and the subtleties of how the rest of a facial expression shift the shape of a nose. Looking at just one piece of an expression makes the viewer consider what the feature expresses in a new way, or at least that is what I hope it will do.


Perhaps a lovely little flower. I have the most beautiful bouquet to inspire me. (My absolutely sweet husband brought me home flowers tonight! I am all smiles about it.)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

"Whole Piece 3," Daily Painting # 34

"Whole Piece 3," Available (click here)
Oils on Panel
4" by 4"

I'm excited to do more of these individual feature portraits. (See this post about the Whole Piece series.) My new panels that came in give me a perfect variety of shapes and sizes to play with different feature compositions. This was the first time I've painted on a tiny 4" by 4" panel which gave this painting an intimate feeling of interaction. The subtly of lighting in this piece was a challenge to capture while still including enough value shifts to maintain an interesting compositional flow.

Whole Piece Series Plans

I want to create a large body of these pieces and I'm interested in getting as much variety of features as possible. It would be exciting to get people from around the world to contribute their photos for this series. (*crossing my fingers*) If you are interested in getting a portrait of just one of your features please send me a very clear photo of your face or that feature and if the photo works for me I'll use it for one of these paintings. There is no obligation to buy the painting.

Please email me about the Whole Piece series photographs by email at ambergoulet@yahoo.com.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Daily Painting # 33

8" by 8"
Oils on Panel

One of Those Days

Today was filled with distractions and not feeling well, but I was determined not to break my daily painting challenge. I pushed through, and got a decently worked out painting as a result, but it isn't to the quality that I feel comfortable with selling. I am happy with some aspects of this painting, mostly the color choices and brushwork in the koala's arm. I'm proud I didn't break the challenge. 


A productive day! I'm hoping for some bright color again. The search will begin in the morning. For now rest, so I will do better tomorrow!

Monday, September 16, 2013

"Light Sliver," Daily Painting # 32

"Light Sliver," Available (click here)

Oils on Panel

8" by 8"


Today is a day when I had to accept that the process is important to go through to a finish even if the outcome is less than in our control. I've been feeling out of it all day. Perhaps I'm coming down with something. I was determined to work this painting out and so I did rather slowly. I'm most happy with the contrast between the mostly shadowed cooler space and the glory of warm last light on autumn leaves, which often stick around in CA into early winter. I think ultimately this painting could use simplification from the point of view of a clear head. Perhaps I'll be tempted to tweak it tomorrow. ;)

(Hopefully I can put up a better photo tomorrow too!)


This is another painting from a photo I took on a hike on the Julian end of the Santa Ysabel Open Space Preserve. We went on a short hike there on a nippy early winter day. We were determined to go out even if we could only make it right before dark. It was still and sharply cold. We ventured off the path to explore an enormous oak tree. It was a moment that brought me clarity. The graphic quality of the clean line of color through the muted shadows fit that mood perfectly for me.


An animal, I think. I'm hoping tomorrow will be a focused day. I'm excited that more panels in different sizes and shapes are arriving! I've only had 8" by 8" panels left for a little while now and I've been itching for a rectangular composition.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

"Observer," Daily Painting # 31

"Observer," Available (click here)
Oils on Panel
8" by 8"
Always Shifting

Whenever I see these jewel like birds in the aviary near the entrance of the Wild Animal Park they perch briefly, maybe peck and forage briefly, cock their head about and fly off to investigate the intriguing place they spotted. This bird perched a bit longer than usual studying the canopy overhead before flying off with another of her species following. I wanted to capture that focused thoughtful gaze in this painting, as I don't often see paintings of birds that are more than displays of beauty. I hope I achieved that aim.

Sadly I'm unsure of this bird's species. I'm gonna have to start writing these down as I take reference photos! Next time I'm at the Wild Animal Park I'll check, but in the meantime if you recognize the species I'd love to know.


I believe I will do another landscape. I have some lovely moody photos to take advantage of. If not then another addition to my Whole Piece series. I hope to get two paintings done in one day sometime this week as I missed yesterday for a very happy family event. Wish me luck.

Friday, September 13, 2013

"Lightly Perched," Daily Painting # 30

"Lightly Perched," Available (click here)
Oils on Panel
8" by 8"
Something pretty and peaceful was painted in the end! :) This will be a short post as it is coming in under the wire after a much awaited dinner out with my hubby at a new restaurant with scrumptious food!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

"Whole Piece 2," Daily Painting # 29

"Whole Piece 2," Available (click here)Oils on Panel8" by 8"

Abstract Familiarity

I'm fascinated by the way that our understanding of the visual world when taken out of context can provoke a shift in our emotional response. Images that are familiar, friendly, or comforting become ambiguous. Exploring the concept of seeing faces as individual parts, that are whole on their own and aren't seen together as a whole, has taken me back to my interest in presenting images representationally while shifting the way the image is presented so that it is not familiar. I'm pursuing the idea that an image becomes somewhat abstract when its context is changed and because of that it does not allow the viewer to have a straightforward response. (See my face blindness post to further explore this topic.)


Something... straightforward? Something pretty? Maybe. :) I certainly want to stay on the expressive color kick that these last two pieces have displayed. (I think I will do more individual facial feature paintings, but I'll take a break for now.)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

"Whole Piece 1," Daily Painting # 28

"Whole Piece," Available (click here)Oils on Panel8" by 8"

Face Blindness

Yesterday I listened to Strangers in the Mirror, Radiolab (a podcast and radio show from NPR) while painting and it led me to ponder painting something inspired by people with face blindness. This morning I woke up at "the crack of dawn" determined to take photo reference of my early rising Dad before he got too busy with his day. Then I went onto to the errands of the day and finally towards the end of the day I was able to paint! I've managed to finish it just under the wire.

The podcast featured Chuck Close and Oliver Sacks, two people that inspire me and two people who have face blindness. My impressions is that for them faces are disparate elements, an expressive eye, a twitching mouth, a scrunched nose all dart through their minds but can't be seen as a whole. I wanted to give a sense of how each feature can seem odd but engaging when we concentrate on it in isolation from the rest of the face. I may do more of these individual feature paintings overtime.


I should be able to post a more accurate photo tomorrow. I pushed the color in this painting more than came out in this late night photo. But I've made it with no gaps through the first eleven days of Leslie Saeta's 30 paintings in 30 days! I feel accomplished, though a bit tired. :P :) 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

"Golden Pasture," Daily Painting # 27

"Golden Pasture," Available (click here)
8" by 8"
Oils on Panel
Santa Ysabel in Bloom (last Spring)

I didn't end up focusing on the clouds themselves again, but I have been in love with the mood that clouds can imbue on a landscape. Perhaps that is because I'm already wishing for Fall in this heat and I know that I have months to go before Southern California will give in to cooler weather.

In the same valley as yesterday's painting this low spot always has the most blooms. I love the contrast between the overcast sky and cool distant field to the golden glow of the afternoon light on the wild mustard blooms. This valley is one of my favorite places in the world. It changes from month to month, holding onto blooms then greenery in this low spot longer than anywhere around in the dry season.

Hike Through the Painting

Just to the left of this painting on the higher ground of this vast field is the entrance to the Santa Ysabel Open Space Preserve where I have ventured into spaces like this rather than reveling in their views from the side lines. You can even meet the cattle that graze there in person, though I haven't gotten too close as I am the kind of person that recognizes their girth as powerful and respects it. :P ;) It is definitely worthy of a visit and a hike (It is steeper around this area than you might expect.).


Something not a landscape I think. Though don't trust me, I'm in the mood to follow a whim.

Monday, September 9, 2013

"Diffuse Calm," Daily Painting # 26

"Diffuse Calm," Available (Click Here)
Oils on Panel
8" by 8"
Santa Ysabel in the Spring

On the lead up to my wedding last Spring I was making the drive through Santa Ysabel often in the most beautiful time of year. It was gloriously green with cool moist air and piles of clouds. On this day I let myself get distracted from wedding prep and pulled off the road to glory in the leisurely moving air and the quite around me.


I played with a scraping technique to give the textured feel of the grass in the field. I also used a softer brush than the usual stiff bristol brushes that I prefer to capture some of the soft transitions in the clouds.


Clouds! (I think?)

Sunday, September 8, 2013

"Betwixt," Daily Painting # 25

"Betwixt," Available (click here)
8" by 8"
Oils on Panel
Coulter Ridge

These golden clouds were hovering over the the gap between the desert well below and the distant mountains. The air was without moisture and air was rapidly cooling from the hot day as the light was already below the mountains behind me. It was so still, in a place that usually constantly whips wind with violence over the ridge to or from the desert. It felt as if I was so high that I was level with the clouds in peace.


I focused on creating the dark cool mood. I kept my brushwork simple on the lower portion of the painting, so that the added texture and detail in the cloud's brushwork could sing.


I would love to revel in some more glorious clouds. I'll see what I can come up with. :)

Saturday, September 7, 2013

"Unworried," Daily Painting # 24

"Unworried," Available (click here)

Oils on Panel

6" by 6"

Young Bighorn

Most times when I visit the bighorn sheep exhibit at the Wild Animal Park up on Condor Ridge I find a group of snoozing bighorns of various ages. They have the usual poses of many hoofed creatures resting, bodies relatively upright and necks curved to rest. I captured this image on a hot day, most of the animals were beating the heat by resting, some of the bighorns were even flaked out on their sides legs sprawled. But right in the middle of the enclosure, closer to us gawkers, was a juvenile bighorn carefully laying with legs tucked in and just his chin touching the boulder beneath him, his face was serene almost smiling and the heat did not seem to be stressing him at all. I'm happy to have witnessed this telling pose and to have studied it further in paint.


All I can say is color! I focused on pushing color to enliven this subject. Okay, and I wanted to control the texture and quality o brushstrokes carefully, which I believe I achieved in the end after a bit of readjusting.


Something boldly colorful I hope!

Friday, September 6, 2013

"Unabashed," Daily Painting # 23

"Unabashed," Available (click here)

Oils on Panel

8" by 8"

As I am not feeling well presently I'll save further description of this painting for a later edit of this post. For now I managed to finish the painting! See you tomorrow.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

"Lookout" Daily Painting # 22

"Lookout," Available (Click Here)

6" by 6"

Oils on Panel

Brilliant Blue Bird


Side View

What captured my attention in this bird was that his coloring was bold and gorgeously chromatic and with that seemed to come a boldly stubborn personality. I remember he sat on that branch staring over his shoulder watching people watch him in the large open aviary much longer than he had to before flying away. He was beautiful, but not in a placid gaze in awe sort of way. No, he was beautiful and had personality. He wasn't a bauble. I didn't hear anybody else that was staring at him mention that aspect of his presence so I thought I'd show him respect here.

(Hopefully I'll have a better photo, without glare, for you all to see tomorrow.)

P.S. Does anybody know what kind of bird he is? I've seen him and others of his species before at the large aviary at the San Diego Zoo, but I've never learned their name. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

"It Glows!" Daily Painting # 21

"It Glows!" Available (click here)
5" by 7"
Oils on Panel

Grover Returns

"It Glows!"
Side View for Texture

I said today's painting was going in to the unknown. What I didn't realize was that baby Grover was really the one going into the unknown. I've gone a bit potty over Grover and I couldn't help thinking of the adventures he might next pursue around my house. Here he has discovered how beautiful a candle can be. I imagine he climbed up like one might a palm tree, legs and arms wrapped around it gripping tightly and inching up to finally reach the top and feel the warmth on his nose as he used his nose to help him balance on the wax rim. (Of course, I warned him about not touching the flame or hot wax. Don't you worry.)


The biggest challenge for this piece was the live flame wavering and melting the wax baby Grover was balancing on. I enjoying embellishing the melting wax portions of the candle with gobs of paint on the panel.


Perhaps a face (human or otherwise)? I'm thinking Grover may have more adventures in the future as well. We shall all find out tomorrow. ;-)

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

"Flying Practice," Daily Painting #20

"Flying Practice," Available (Click Here)

8" by 8"

Oils on Panel


I found a way to paint a muppet! I believe Grover rounds out my fuzzy trio nicely (pink lion, moth, and muppet). I had completely forgotten about my husband's old tiny stuffed Grover. He was up sitting on a shelf clutching a shriveled pumpkin (The story behind Grover and the pumpkin's relationship is convoluted and will be saved for later.) His proportions are a bit different than we usually see on Sesame Street (not to mention this guy is tiny) so with his big head, short limbs, and more rounded body I believe he is a younger Grover. Here he is still daydreaming about becoming Super Grover. The only thing I missed was that amazing nubbly fur that Grover has on Sesame Street. Oh well.

Here is a favorite Grover clip of mine, I watched it earlier to get inspiration.


The unknown...

Monday, September 2, 2013

"Green Sphinx," Daily Painting #19

"Green Sphinx," Available (Click Here)

 5" by 7" 

Oils on Panel

Pacific Green Sphinx Moth

I find myself at a loss to explain why moths are both beautiful and fuzzy but alien and creepy. I think we may all feel tricked by the fuzziness. Most of the time we associate the word fuzzy with kit rabbits, kittens, puppies, chicks, and teddy bears (especially teddy bears featured in fabric softener ads – click only if you dare). It is uncomfortable for us to face that creatures other than mammals can have that cuddly feature we call fuzz, like tarantulas, wolf spiders, and moths.

Unlike butterflies their bodies are big enough that we can't just look at them as colorful floating baubles. We see their insect eyes. 

I find myself drawn to their alien qualities. Because I don't instinctually understand them I can't stop staring, so I paint. 


In this painting I wanted to capture the different surface textures. I like the differences between the brushwork on the surface the moth is perching on, the moth's fuzzy body, and the moth's wings. I also wanted the moth's unreadable face to be clearly noticeable, so that the viewer can't help but be drawn in to trying to understand it. Finally, I pushed the color for mood and visual interest.


I do wish I had met a muppet at some point in my life. If I had taken a photo of a muppet I'm sure I would have painted it tomorrow. I like the idea of a large lion puppet, a moth, and a muppet being the subject of three consecutive paintings. 

As it stands I have no idea what is coming next, but I'm excited to start.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

"Pink Lion," Daily Painting #18

"Pink Lion," Available (click here)

7" by 5"

Oils on Panel

The Lion Dance

The reference photo I used for this painting was taken at the first lion dance I have witnessed in person at this past Chinese New Year in front of the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum. These giant puppets always looked strange and playful to me in photographs with so much texture and detail to take in, but they feel much more like a bizarre animal interaction in person. The giant blank eyes that occasionally blink and the mixture of loping movement and athletic moves are impressive but the true disorientation occurs when the face is so close to you that you can't take it all in. That feeling of being confronted by an uncanny alien is what I was interested in conveying.


The alien features of this fuzzy mask remind me of a particularly fuzzy moth, which then reminded me that I have a lovely photo of a fuzzy green moth. This green moth I have a photo of isn't extremely fuzzy or that alien looking but he's up next!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

"Expectant," Daily Painting #17

Expectant Available (click here) 

6" by 6" 

Oils on Panel

Koi Fish

I enjoy the vibrant colors that koi fish display and I've occasionally thought of painting them. I'm drawn to the swirls of color and water that are usually displayed in paintings of koi fish, but I always think there is more to them than decorative elements in a painting. I wanted to show a facial expression, something relatable like the interactions we have with mammals. Of all the decorative photos I've taken of koi I found this photo (from the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum) with this fish asserting its need to receive food from us.


I've only painted fish for one previous project.  I find them both challenging and fun to capture. The smooth edges yet clearly structured bodies sit somewhere strangely between the more obvious structure displayed by many mammals and the obviously fur obscured mammals. A fully open fish mouth I have to say was I think the trickiest mouth I've ever painted. The way their eyes and mouth sit on their faces are so different than a mammal, yet it is just as important to me to capture a fish's facial expression as it would be for me to capture a dog's facial expression.


I have quite a bold painting up next. I painted a large mask from the Chinese New Year celebration today. It is like a giant boldly pink muppet. But, you'll have to wait until Saturday to see it because tomorrow is all errands. :P See you soon!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

"Trepidatious," Daily Painting #16

"Trepidatious," Available (click here)

8" by 8" 

oils on panel

"Trepidatious"Side View for Texture
Wild Rabbit

This little one was hiding in plain sight on a relatively quiet day at the Wild Animal Park. Right next to
a more secluded but still busy pathway there is a small field of grass. There she sat right in the middle the most cover she had was incredibly tall palm trees above her. Every time someone happened pause on their way to the prominent elephants just 20 feet beyond her to look over at her she would freeze as if that made her invisible. I watched her for a few minutes and slowly she began nibbling again despite my stare.


The two main goals in this piece were to capture how much her small body stood out against the vivid green around her and her expression that conveyed more than worry but also a stubbornness that allowed her to hold her ground in that field.


I found my colorful reference photo! A bold koi fish is up next.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

"Vamoose," Daily Painting #15

"Vamoose," Available (Click Here)

6" by 6" 

Oils on Panel

Young Jake
I love the proud upright posture a wild turkey takes on as he or she retreats. There is no ducking for cover, but instead an alert charge for cover. I wholly agree with Benjamin Franklin that a wild turkey would have made an ideal national bird. Oh well.

Often on evening walks in Julian we would see a group of them across a small field and watch them peck and move through the field slowly, their heads parallel to the ground making small chirps, and then see them go silent from a threatening sound and commence a most elegant race. This young male (jake) looked barely full grown and was sparring a bit with his small group of other jakes before beating the retreat. (Here's a good video of a wary turkey hen chirping.)


With this piece I was exploring how to portray a sense of motion while still capturing that upright posture that conveys so much personality. There are just so few animals that move at speed in a vertical position. I softened the background details and the jake's legs to help the eye recognize the look of movement. Apart from that I focused on getting the body stance to have a loose natural quality. 

On to More Painting

I've been missing some highly colorful subject matter. Hmmmmm....

Monday, August 26, 2013

"Perseverance," Daily Painting #14

"Perseverance," Available in Auction (click here)

8" by 8" Oils on Panel

 An Unusual Giraffe

"Perseverance," side view for texture
  I've been noticing this giraffe at the San Diego Zoo   for years now. At first the nobs on her head were the only distinguishing feature about her, then over time I noticed she was the only giraffe I had ever seen that had wrinkles, and lately I've noticed that her coat seems lighter on her face almost as if white is creeping into it.

  I don't know how old she is, but her face seems to bely a long and storied life. Her face makes me want to get to know her, so I painted her to know her better through the study and challenge.


To really explore the odd textures that are involved in this giraffe's countenance I wanted to not only work texture in with my brushwork and a thicker application of paint, but also push the color range in her face to emphasize the overall variety in surface.


At the San Diego Wild Animal Park I often see native animals that fascinate me as much as the exotic animals. Mule deer cross through at sunset and engender some hushed excitement, but even native lizards and rabbits draw me in. One of my favorite recent images that I caught at the Wild Animal Park was of a timid rabbit. I must paint her soon.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

"Yeah, I'm a Capybara," Daily Painting #12

"Yeah, I'm a Capybara," Available in Auction (click here) 

5" by 7" Oil on Panel

Thinking About Capybaras

I've always enjoyed capybaras. I was quite impressed the first time I learned the world's largest rodent with its rounded sloping body, the capybara, was on average between 75 and 150 pounds. And then of course they reminded me of one of my favorite children's book creatures from my childhood the Wumps of The Wump World.

In recent years they put in an exhibit for capybaras at the San Diego Zoo and I could get a full dose every visit. They have such relaxed confidence with their solid bodies taking up space without any qualms. The goal of this painting and the fun of it was to try to capture that attitude. I'm guessing I'll be painting some of these guys again. (BTW, their profiles are wholly amusing in shape, I must paint a profile in the future.)


I didn't manage to paint this guy in just one day as this was the one painting I managed to get done during the move, but instead in two short sessions that equaled the amount of time I usually spend on a daily painting. That bit of drying time allowed me to have two layers of palette knife work, and to layer brushwork and texture throughout. It was gratifying to play with my interest in surface texture further on a daily painting as I have been focusing on texture in my larger long term pieces.

Perhaps I'll share some angled photos of this painting and others soon so that you all can see the physical texture as if you were seeing the paintings in person.

In the Plans

An old giraffe, another bird, and something colorful.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

"Cascading Moment," Daily Painting #13 (Number 12 will be shared soon.)

"Cascading Moment," Available (Click Here) 

5" by 7" Oil on Panel

The Peacock

I've always been reticent to paint a peacock. I'm in love with their cool range of brilliant colors. Their proud walk has it's comical self aggrandizing qualities. Their slightly nasal calls both feel exotic and a bit like a weird clearing of a very stuffy nasal passage (Felix Unger comes to mind.). I think it is because they are just beautiful and that seems too straightforward, not thoughtful enough.

At the same time I have no problem trying to get the most glorious colorful photos of a displaying peacock every time I meet up with one. On one of my recent trips to the San Diego Zoo I heard that distinctive cry and saw a crowd gathered and rushed ahead of my patient husband to catch the perfect photo. I had sadly arrived too late for the full display, but I realized in that moment that this inbetween moment before he quietly went back to banal pecking or slowly dragged away his heavy plumage was  something not as straightforward. This was a moment that made sense for me to paint. As he turned away from the crowd his plumage half down became a swirl around him and I caught an image to paint from.


I wasn't quite sure how to approach painting this bird without the different parts of his body seeming disconnected. My strategy was to focus on the soft edges that were created by the fine ends of the display feathers and the more downy feathers on the underside of the display. I enjoyed capturing how ordinary a peacock's body looks shaded by their bold plumage.


I'm happy I finally painted a grand peacock. I'm back to painting daily again. Weeee...the adventure resumes.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Not a Fair-Weather Painter

You may have noticed that my "daily" paintings have not been coming everyday.  The reality is that I am moving in less than two weeks. My dreams of painting a new painting everyday, while finishing a large plein air piece, and packing things up just isn't jiving. (I only have access to paint the plein air piece from this property. But! Woohoo I am almost finished with the plein air piece!)

I do plan to try to squeeze these small paintings in, but they won't be everyday for the next couple of weeks. I'll be back at it soon enough with full gusto.

See you soon.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

"Taiko Elation," Daily Painting #11

"Taiko Elation," Available (Click Here) 6" by 6," oils on panel

Taiko Drumming

This is the taiko group associated with the
 Vista Buddahist Temple where I attended
this year's Obon Festival.
One of the impressive things about the Taiko players is their radiant smiles as they perform quite physical music pieces with precision. Though I know they are consciously making an effort to smile throughout I can imagine that the drumming itself, the physical sensation, may give them a sense of well being that would bring a smile to their faces. I love feeling the sound emanate off the drums and vibrate my ribcage, it is soothing like the vibrations made when humming or singing with the whole of a choir.

I have been going to this small Obon festival for years and now, although I have never spoken with many of the performers of the Taiko group, I do recognize their faces.  This man's face has always intrigued me and I decided I couldn't go without doing a quick painting featuring him.


I wouldn't recommend painting while feeling nauseous! :P The oil paint smelled horrid to me and usually I quite like it's rounded warm smell. (My studio is well ventilated, so I wasn't dying of fume intoxication. :P) I made a nice simple value drawing in one color of oils and then began painting directly, pushing the color more than I usually do when I use oils for a "portrait." Because this was a quick painting I felt freer in my portrayal a person's countenance.


I think I'll take a nice fuzzy break from Obon in my next painting. (I do think I will get back to more Obon paintings.) I'm thinking a confident capybara proudly situated on panel will be a nice change.