Sunday, December 14, 2014

"Charlie Bear," A Portrait (Mixed Media play #2)

"Charlie Bear"
Mixed Media
9" by 12"

A Surprise

This is the second mixed media play project I started a couple of weeks ago. I didn't share it right away, as I decided that it worked out well enough to be a belated birthday gift, and, of course, the birthday girl got the first look. ;-)


I found the layering of the colored pencil, india ink, and paint paints to be freeing. I'd like to try making an image like this again of a person or animal a bit more abstractly, but with the same varied surfaces, from implied textures, to somewhat flattened patterning, and soft colored pencil color transitions.

Detail: "Charlie Bear" 
Detail: "Charlie Bear" This is a nice point to show how the different mediums and implied textures came together.


I have a couple of abstract mixed media test pieces to share with you all. I just pulled out the papers, pens, and acrylic paints and had at it. I was more pleased with the process when I started the second piece with collaging paper rather than swishes of paint. 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Mixed Media Play #3: Details

Layers of Paper Added to the Process

For this piece I decided to see if I could incorporate collage with the colored pencil, india ink brush pen work, and paint pen work that I have been playing with. Usually collage has been a major part of my mixed media work in the past. I'm quite interested in the physical texture and interest it can bring to a piece of art, rather than the implied texture that can be created with crosshatching or other patterning. I hope that the physical texture will absorb those who see the work.


I learned a lot. Using matte medium to adhere the papers really changed how I could use the materials. I was greatly suspicious it would do just that. I ended up using colored pencil and paint pens sparingly because they just didn't like to sit on top of that matte medium. Instead I used the india ink brush pens and acrylic washes.

Next Adventure

I may try laying in the paper later in the process next time to see if I can get a more similar effect to Charlie Bear's portrait my last Mixed Media experiment (He'll be the subject of my next post. :-)). The piece is close to being finished, but not quite there yet (and I'm trying to keep it under wraps until it reaches its recipient), so I'm sharing some exciting surface and color details today.

This has also reminded me of how much I need to do some abstract mixed media work. There is something meaningful and meditative about the mixed media process and I think that is something the viewer gets to experience too.

Detail: This is an early part of the process. All the papers had been adhered with Matte Medium
and I had started to layer in india ink brush pen work and paint pens.

The colors and texture in this part of the piece were so much fun, but the piece as a whole was not
cohesive yet. I need to pursue this kind of energy in a mixed media abstract work.

Detail: Here you can see a couple of different ways I tried out feathers in the collage
 process. I'm interested in the versatility of effects that can be created and that they are
more of a textural element than an obvious feather on the surface of the art.

In the little brown patch the very soft feather took on a wavy surface that reminds
me of hair and water while up higher in the various shades of white, cream, yellow,
 etc. the feathers have a much more bold effect prominently stepping off the surface.

Detail: A close up of one of the feathers worked in to the paint, paper, and pen work.

P.S. You may have forgotten the Whole Piece Series by now, but I haven't. :D  It has been too long since I posted about it! :-P That shall be remedied. So, keep an eye out!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Scribble Drawing Joy

9" by 12"
Mixed Media

This started out the other day, when I decided it had been too long since I just played when creating. I started out with a few squiggles, just expressive marks I made with an india ink brush pen and a colored pencil and from there I just kept going. I wanted to try paint pens and colored pencils together. Slowly a story created itself and time lost me. I'm really happy with the playful image that I ended up creating. I think it gave me ideas about mixed media play and free drawing from my head. In short, I must make this a regular habit.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

My ArtPrize Adventure: Part 1

All Waiting and Art to Come

The first day of my ArtPrize adventure was full of painting hanging prep, including some basic supplies shopping, and rest. The evening was a fun jaunt to the artist's party where I got my swag bag and met other artists. The whole time I felt a bit fluttery with my anticipation of hanging 101 paintings on a brick wall the following two days. 

A less glamorous perhaps a bit industrial little piece of Gran Rapids
downtown where we parked before going to the Artist's
 party. I love the soft stillness that the early evening cool aqua sky
brought to the world in that moment. 

It was good silly fun to get "red carpet" photo in front of the
ArtPrize wall with my swag bag, artist's badge, and freshly made pipe cleaner bug.

The chalkboard wall in the artist's clubhouse. Sadly,
 I never contributed, though it looked enticing. I was busy waiting in
 line for my swag bag. ;-)

Another view of the artist's clubhouse. Do you see all those colorful squiggles on that divider? Those are pipe cleaners. The line for swag bags took quite awhile, and though chatting was happening it would have definitely dragged without those pipe cleaners. I made an imaginary bug with several different colors, and my Mom made a wand sprouting with magic. The other artist we were with was content to watch our progress.

After all the hubbub over getting swag bags and chatting we had gotten very little food, so on the way
back we stopped here. I'm sure this is quite an ordinary sight in this part of the country, but the vintage look of
this fast food chain made it more appealing than other late night fast food options. A good munch was had
and the day was ended on an expectant note.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

One Day My Computer Just Snapped


I am dying to share all my recent art adventures. There are a pile of photos on my camera and memories in my mind. But right before my trip my computer could no longer take the heavy workload I had been giving it. It literally snapped. I like to think that the way the bezel around the screen suddenly divided near the base was a kind of swoon, but others around me see a similarity to a wilted plant. The result is quite ridiculous. I have a laptop that still functions perfectly well though laying supine, and can not be moved or viewed from any other position but standing above it awkwardly.  We were told it would be a costly repair. The long and short of it is that it was cheaper to get a newer model of a macbook pro from eBay than fix the one I have loved. I am not trashing the old one yet...

ArtPrize is Coming

So, photos of my old standby fainted, my newish macbook pro, AND all that lovely art I saw at ArtPrize (including the full Whole Piece Series in its current home) are coming in just a few days and from my new home in LA. Exciting stuff is afoot.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A P.S. of Sorts: Whole Piece #101

Whole Piece #101
5" by 7"
Oils on Panel


This is the subject that I couldn't resist adding to the series before ArtPrize. There was something so very interesting in the roundness of the forms, the warmth of the colors, and the subtly of that small frown that was wholly different and needed in the series.

Must Do and Do Some More

It is now time to deal with all the crazy last minute details in prep for ArtPrize. The final layout, fine tune hanging technique, the creation of many many bubblewrap pockets, the final decision on the shipping container/method with several options still viable, getting good photos of every painting.... and the list goes on. Wish me luck in these last 10 days before I fly to Grand Rapids for ArtPrize. (Can you sense the nervous energy?)

Also, the official vote code is on my ArtPrize page! 'Tis exciting for it to be so concrete. If you'll be in the area or are thinking about visiting ArtPrize I hope you think of me and this series.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Whole Piece #100!

I did it! I made it to Whole Piece #100 just yesterday. Now to prep everything for the big journey to Grand Rapids  (In just under 2 weeks!) for ArtPrize. I hope you can visit my series during ArtPrize 2014 at its venue Westminster Presbyterian Church.

"Whole Piece #100"
5" by 7"
Oils on Panel
P.S. I couldn't hold myself to just 100 paintings in the series, so today I completed #101 and I can't wait to share it.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Photo Journal: Almost to ArtPrize 2014!

Last week was a bit of a ride. As ArtPrize (a city wide art experience and competition with visitors from around the world in Grand Rapids Michigan) approaches quickly (I'll be leaving for Grand Rapids in less than 30 days!) I have a few more paintings to complete and much prepping for getting 100 paintings over 2000 miles away. 

91 paintings on a single shelf

At the beginning of last week I got out all the paintings from the series I had stored away and stacked the panels at a slant in just one shelf of my bookcase. My plan was to do the first big layout of the paintings and even possibly complete the series. The next day I had planned on completing a painting in the morning and doing to the layout in the afternoon, but strange viruses strike at any moment and this virus struck. 

Underpainting of Whole Piece #92 started the next day.
lively progress
Whole piece #92 was finished the day before the first big layout was to commence.
Still with many breaks I was enjoying painting Whole Piece #92 and by midday the following day I had completed the painting. With most of the series done and dry this was my first chance to see them all together and I was too excited about it to wait until I felt better.  I packed up my paintings and carried them out to the barn. From there the process was slow with many breaks but thanks to my father-in-law who had set up the surface to lay the paintings out on and my husband who helped me in the layout, as I needed to rest a bunch, I got a pretty happy result that helped me make the final decisions for the paintings that need to be added to the series. And thankfully I didn't even kill myself climbing a ladder while dizzy to the barn loft to get a good look at the paintings. 

All 91 dry small paintings are laid out first on three separated boards that are each 4' by 6.'
When the arrangement of the paintings was looking good my husband and father-in-law
scooched the boards together for me.
It was the best light I had seen a grouping of this series in yet. Natural light diffused from
cloud cover coming in through open barn doors.
My view of the series from the barn loft, about 15' up.

The week went on from there and I was too weak to get much done, but I wanted to paint so I completed #93 and started #94 with copious breaks. All in all not too shabby of a week after all. :-)

Evening tea (green tea with almond milk and a bit of honey) after my afternoon tea, and a couple
of cups of morning tea to keep the painting going. Lots of tea was consumed in this exhausted week. 
Whole Piece #93 done after several days working on it for short periods while I was sick.
A detail from Whole Piece #94 in process.

P.S. As of today Whole Piece #94 & #95 are completed and #96 is today's work. This is the final count down. I'm aiming at pushing through to the completion of The Whole Piece Series this week.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

"Whole Piece #80"

"Whole Piece #80"
5" by 7"
Oils on Panel

Oh, this was a bundle of fun to paint! There is not much I want to say about this one because I'd rather have you just take it in. I am quite happy with the expressive brushwork emphasizing a sense of movement in this piece and with how I controlled the effect that afternoon light has on color yet kept it vibrant. The expression was quite fun to play with, as it is bold yet not obvious in meaning when focused on only the eyes.

P.S. To read more about this series visit the series profile on ArtPrize's website.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

"Whole Piece #41"

"Whole Piece #41"
5" by 7"
Oils on Panel

This feels like quite the throw back at the moment, though really it wasn't that long ago that I painted it. Today I finished Whole Piece #79 and got well into #80. I wanted to dash off this quick post with a painting I already had photographed before taking a holiday from painting for the 4th with family. It shall be lovely to relax, but all the while I'll be yearning to get back to #80 as it has been great fun so far. I'll be back soon. :-)

P.S. If your new here visit this post to read about the Whole Piece Series.
"Whole Piece #41"
Side View

Friday, June 27, 2014

Whole Piece #72

"Whole Piece #72"
Oils on Panel
5" by 7"
This Particular Painting

In this painting I was most interested in capturing a softness in the expression.  I'm quite pleased with the result. This painting deserves a better photo, but I just couldn't wait to share it.

The Series

I'm in the final stretch of the series now, I finished Whole Piece #76 yesterday so that means just 24 more paintings to go! I've got a schedule marked down with no exceptions in my planner. Wish me luck! I've been reflecting a lot on the series of late and I have more ideas to share in my upcoming posts.

Exercising My Muse

I take photographs almost daily as well as paint. Often times those photographs capture some quality that gets me wanting to explore an idea in my art, whether it be a pose, expression, emotion, mood, color palette, pattern, or textures. I've decided to share some of these photos on a linked blog called The Muse's Routine. You can find the blog on one of the tabs at the top of this page.  Right now they are all nature photography (I live in the mountains.) but there are triggers for my art in man made objects and buildings as well, it just depends on the spot of this Earth I occupy that day. ;-)


Mad, simply mad times...simply the madness of painting my days away. ;-)

Sunday, May 18, 2014

"Whole Piece #64"

"Whole Piece #64"
6" by 6"
Oils on Panel
Blue Toned Surface &
Basic Under-sketch
Cool Skin

When I decided to paint from this reference photo I was in love with the palette of color for the painting I could imagine evolving from the colors in the photo. One aspect of the photo that struck me as an opportunity was the overall cool cast to the light. Since I knew I wanted to play up skin-admiring cool colors I decided to start the painting off with an overall blue toned surface. With blue as the color which the initial layer of paint was up against I was better able to see the warmth in the relatively cool colors I would lay-in on top of the blue to start building skin tone. With a cool blue starting point I was able to find my way to portraying blonde hair with blue-greens in the shadows and a skin surface with muted greens and blues.

First Layer of Painting 
Color Abundance

For the Whole Piece Series I am striving for much variety in palette from painting to painting while maintaining visual cohesion between all the paintings when they are displayed together. A good contrast to this painting's cool palette is in my last post. Look particularly at the relatively cool highlights on the nose in "Whole Piece #36," that color would appear warm on this cheek.

P.S. I want offer a hearty thanks to the Grossmont College student who let me take this picture for reference!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

"Whole Piece #36"

"Whole Piece #36"
4" by 4"
Oils on Panel
"Oh, I do love to extemporize with color..."

This is a bit of a throwback by now in the series, but I felt it was a good time to share it now. The skin tone in this painting was a joy to play with. All the warm analogous colors from varying shades of orange to deep muted red brown (and, of course, I snuck in some bits of other color to help show off in contrast the orange family). I wish I had taken a picture of my palette as it was rich vibrant and inviting. Today's painting was such a contrast to this one, with a focus on a cool palette. I'll be sharing "Whole Piece #64" tomorrow and it'll be nice to see these two paintings next to one another to see how much variety in hue from warm to cool can be shown in human skin (and hair).

For now I'm stopping myself from writing anymore. I'm too tired to share my mental rambling any further.  More painting and blogging tomorrow. 'Tis an exciting prospect. Night.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

"Whole Piece #62"

"Whole Piece #62"
5" by 7"
Oils on Panel
The Pout

While painting this small baby's lips, and thinking about their unaware owner I couldn't help but ponder where the idea of a pout stands. Has it ever struck you as odd that a "pout" is as easily associated with a baby, or a young sullen child, and a quite adult sexy woman? I thought it might just be me with this perception. So, I googled just the word pout and clicked on the images tab, and I found both small children and adult women and the further I scrolled the more adult women there were with lipsticked lips and alluring expressions. What at one time seems to have been a word associated with childhood (my Mom remembers a time when no one called a woman's lips a pout), and often cranky childhood at that, is now a facial expression women widely adopt to look sexier.

Is it just the fact that it makes woman's lips look bigger, or are we enjoying seeing an adult woman as much like a petulant helpless child? I'm not sure I've made up my mind as how these two meanings of the word came about, but I certainly want to pay attention to how they affect our perceptions.


This painting became focused on balance. Though there was a definite boldness to the way these lips sat there was a soft calmness that I wanted to convey as well. To portray the calm mood I kept the value shifts subtle. Though I wanted this to be quieter in my application of techniques I didn't want to miss out on portraying the cool colors that can be pushed a bit beyond what we can easily perceive and I still made sure the brushwork was varied in texture.


As I now have more paintings completed in the Whole Piece Series than ahead of me I am focusing on finding bits of faces I haven't portrayed or have yet to portray with a particular expression. I'm looking for the way the skin between eyebrows wrinkles, the skew of the outside corner of an eye, and any other peculiarity of angle or line. I'm carefully rounding out this series, so that the viewer has much to think about.

P.S. You can get involved in the Whole Piece Series too. Read about that here.

Friday, May 9, 2014

"Whole Piece #56"

"Whole Piece #56"
4" by 4"
Oils on Panel


Okay, I knew everybody had unique ears. From my long time enjoyment of British mystery series I believe I once heard that ear prints are as unique as thumb prints. But, I had never thought much about the form of the ears of each person I met, unless of course they were yelling at me to get attention with multitudes of earrings, a humongous plug or large hole where a plug usually lived, were rather over-sized, or stood out more than usual, etc.. But in sifting through photo reference for this series I find myself curious if anybody has a boring or "normal" ear, there is so much variety, many more people have elfish ears than I expected and the lobes go from smooth and pillowy to mountainous. So, if you ever meet me and you catch me staring at the side of your head, you'll know why.

P.S. I just finished my third infant feature for the Whole Piece Series. I'm excited to share the pout soon. 

Monday, May 5, 2014

"Whole Piece #60"

"Whole Piece #60"
4" by 4"
Oils on Panel
I made it to 60 with so many distractions in recent weeks! *happy dance*


I'm pleased with how the color worked out in this painting. A good portion of the skin tone is completely green, and yet there is a subtly to the end result. The painting doesn't become about that choice of green, but that green does make the painting's mood what it is.

Odd Gaze

There are so many moments of thought or interaction that we often don't portray in a painting or at least they defer to the focal point. Here I enjoy that this is the eye that, were the whole face portrayed, would be viewed secondarily to the eye that would sit closer to the viewer and that this facial expression seems more a reaction to internal thoughts rather than the result of an interaction with the person/people present.


One simple attraction for me to this particular reference photo choice was the particular roundness that we can see when looking at the eye from this angle and how the shape of the iris is distorted from the angle because we are partly looking through as well as at it.


I plan to paint like a mad woman for the next couple of days. Perhaps I can even sneak in a surprise gift painting. AND, I should really make time to get back to my book art project before I lose my sense of connection with it. Then an outing or two to get more reference for the Whole Piece Series. 

Friday, May 2, 2014

"Whole Piece #57"

"Whole Piece #57"
6" by 6"
Oils on Panel

First Phase:
The gessoed surfaced is toned and
a simple layout is worked out
with rough line and a bit of value.
Second Phase:
Darkest darks are roughly laid in and the
lights are placed though lightest lights are
reserved for later. Attention is placed on these
early steps to the angle and character of the
brushwork that sets the painting going.
Third Phase:
Adding subtly in value and brushwork and
bringing lights and darks to meet directly.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Whole Piece Series Cluster

Whole Piece Series Cluster of 32 Paintings
All together these are about 3' by 4.'  
Yesterday's Bumbling

I must have been a sight yesterday! I kept climbing up on chairs and step ladders craning my head around the dining room light fixture to try to get a straight on shot of these painting that were laid out on the dining room table. Finally I ended up moving the table and holding the camera up to the ceiling and taking the photos blind. Still I had to combine three photos to get all the paintings in and make it seemless in Photoshop. Hopefully next time I can hang them on a wall to get a photo (That would be sooo much easier)! :-P

This is just 32 of the current 54 total (I'm still shooting for 100). I'll have to wait for more to dry before I can get a larger grouping together. I'm excited to get some of the newer paintings in as soon as they dry because there are lots of lovely shadows, more ears, and simply more unexpected views of a face. This is the kind of layout I'm aiming for (with groupings of like features roughly where they might sit on a large face), though with a bit more space between the paintings and with more finesse.


Artprize is open to proposals! I've got my proposal started for the Whole Piece Series. Taking this photo was one piece of it. I need to complete my artist's profile and finish writing the project description. All this Artprize prep has meant I'm not painting as much, but I'm getting some in today. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

"Whole Piece #43"

"Whole Piece #43"
4" by 4"
Oils On Panel
Subtle Shadows

I've been trying my hand at more diffused low contrast shadows in a few of the more recent additions to the Whole Piece Series. In this case this face was back lit so that the whole face was similarly set in shadow with very little value contrast.

When I was at art college and we had a live model set up for the students to paint or draw, that model was almost always lit with high contrast between light and shadow (basically a spotlight was on them). That kind of set up is good for getting basic ideas about drawing and painting down, but there is so much more subtle experiences of light in real life that are meaningful to express in art. Another basic rule often taught is to have a full range of values in a piece of art, from the lightest light (Something similar in value to white.) to the darkest dark (Something similar in value to black.). I find myself more and more drawn to lighting that has to be expressed by breaking those formulas.

"Whole Piece #43"
Side View
So much of what we do see around us we can not fully see because of lighting and that forces us to use conjecture to create much of our understanding of the visual world and much of our understanding of our experiences. I'd like to think on that more.


I'm doing a little jig, as it looks like I have a taker for the bunny portrait! I can't wait to stare at a bunny face for hours and try to suss out its mysteries. I've also got Whole Piece #53 well underway and #54's reference ready, AND I've been able to get back to the landscape on my roof as the weather has finally been cooperating! Perhaps I'll even manage some book art this evening.

Monday, April 14, 2014

"Whole Piece #47"

"Whole Piece #47"
4" by 4"
Oils on Panel
Side View

Looking Close

Painting these closely cropped images of a most familiar subject matter, the human face, has allowed me to think about and revel in the varied form of any face. I immerse myself in the curves and plains, then carefully reproduce the vault of a nostril or overhang of an eyelid. When else would I allow myself to stare so unabashedly? Here there was so much a sense of rounded volume at play. I couldn't help but be reminded of desert landscapes and Georgia O'Keefe paintings.

"Whole Piece #47"
In Process
Initial Oil Sketch


I've managed to speed my process again of late by being strict with myself at the beginning of a painting. I had sometimes fallen away from good foundation habits in painting as I was producing so many small pieces, and while sometimes that goes off without a hitch it can also lead to more backtracking to fix what wasn't laid out well in the underpainting. So I have been consistent of late about toning the surface before painting and I've been a bit more careful about my quick line or value sketch I make with thinned oil paint.


I'm starting to run low on my Whole Piece Series reference again. So perhaps another trip to Grossmont to find some generous souls willing to support my painting with their faces. Also! I would dearly love to paint a pet bunny for free to include in my pet portrait portfolio! If you know someone with a rabbit, or you have one let me know! 

"Whole Piece #47"
4" by 4"
Oils on Panel
(Sadly I fought with glare and lost. Perhaps after this dries
further I can get a good picture of is straight on to share.)