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Saturday, July 30, 2016

Dad's White Petunias - a painting

The color white has always eluded me in paint. It's just white, right? NOT! Ever since I watched my last teacher, Helen Van Wyk, paint a still life in white, I've been struggling with every attempt ever since.

First off, white is not a color and neither is black, by the way. And neither is black and white mixed together. The blacks and whites we find in tubes are essentially flat and dead until they are mixed with other colors. To me, white is the essence of light and light is created by our sun.

Therefore it is warm and we must use a warm color to add life to our white. Warm colors would be yellow, orange or red. I chose yellow to warm my white.

I worked this painting starting with a black and white (no color) underpainting in acrylic to make my application of color easier. Also, it's a great way to set up the composition. Unfortunately, Dad's flowers are in Vermont and I live in Massachusetts so a photo is necessary. Besides, I'm not fond of working out in the hot sun with the bugs. This was something I wanted to study and take my time with.

Over the course of two months I slowly worked with the shapes and the values, establishing those wonderful shadows. Eventually I plopped in the greenery and continued to edit the shapes. This was done by turning the canvas upside down
and sideways at times. Really helps to see what's off.

Eventually, the bitty white flowers were added, more tweaking. At the end I was simply using a #1 round and #1 filbert brush.

I'm thinking - maybe a really large canvas of white petunias? I am very happy with this painting and feel I have finally accomplished the feeling of "white." Thank-you, Helen, wherever you are, for your on-going inspiration. And, thank-you, Dad for having such a beautiful garden.

And the title is "Dad's White Petunias." You can see this painting on my website......

Happy painting!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Woodpecker on My House

For two years now my house has been chosen as a favorite tapping place for woodpeckers. I've hung out shiny things, a plastic owl, things that twirl - but nothing seems to deter them. Last year my house was under constant assault. This year there is only one bird.

He sits at the corner of the house tapping at my fascia board, watching out for me and my trusty hose which hangs ever ready on the deck. A few gentle taps. I try to shush him off and wave my arms as if I am making some spastic attempt to fly. But he laughs (I know he does) and taps some more. Does he understand I cannot fly? Does he get some kind of evil woodpecker joy from annoying me. Is there some special sound my house, and my house alone, makes to attract mates for him? Should I feel honored that my house is the chosen one?

I go to terrorize him with my hose but I have unhooked it from the faucet to redirect water to my veggie garden. A few drips come out. Pretty sure I look like a damned fool to him. His eye twinkles. He laughs. He does his woodpecker shriek and off he flies. Gotcha' again!

Friday, July 15, 2016


Write? But I'm a painter. Exactly.

With lots going on in my head and my life. There's the yard work, the taxes, buying groceries, aging parents, two cats that have issues with each other. And the car, the computers, the iPad, the internet. Students, classes, dentist and other doctors. Get's really busy in my head. Add a new woodchuck to my long list of critters finding my garden Eden itself. Oops! I have to clean the pond filter. Where are all these flies coming from?! Don't forget getting gas, getting groceries (yes, I know I've already said this) all over the state of Massachusetts because the ones I need are never in the same stores. Why is this not working (add any number of things here - lawnmower, snowblower, iPhone....)! What does it mean, Google, that I have blocked URLs?!!!! Can I inject my computer with an unblocker? WHAT?!!!!!

And I don't have kids like most of you do! Can't imagine having to deal with one more thing. And I know there will always be one more thing.

So I write. Every morning with my cup of coffee. A half hour to 45 minutes every single day for the last 10 years. Can't start a day without writing. What do I write about? Absolute, completely mindless dribble. No, really! In my "morning pages" I can threaten to annihilate my neighbors who allow their dog to bark for an hour at 5 in the morning (of course I would never annihilate them but I do get an evil sense of pleasure writing about it). I can report on the list of groceries I bought at Trader Joe's. How many rabbits were in the garden; what marvelous or hilariously stupid thing I did yesterday (oh boy do these take up a lot of my writing space); rant about insurance, the internet......everything! What I write is of no importance or consequence. I can write "I" as many times as I want without being self-conscious of being narcissistic. I can write blah blah blah blah blah a million times across 3 pages of my college ruled notebook. Completely, totally, mindless dribble (or is that drivel? or drizzle?)! Hell! I can even make words up! What is important is simply the act of writing. It never has to be read - by anyone including me.

It all started with Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way. Julia sets up assignments that contribute to opening, discovering our artistic selves. Those selves that always seem to end up on the back burner while we take care of our jobs, our spouses, our children, our pets, our cars, our homes, our parents, etc., etc., etc. Have to, Have to, Have to takes the place of creating, resting, reading, slowing down long enough to replenish our psyches. Once our day starts it's like being sucked up into a tornado. 'Round and 'round we go until we crash down at the end of the day empty and depleted.

So, the very first assignment in Julia Cameron's book is to write 3 pages every single morning. Not to be read by anyone, nor criticized, nor thought about. Just write. Well! 3 pages was a hell of a lot of writing at first! And there were mornings I did write blah blah blah blah......for most of my pages. But after awhile I started to look forward to the writing. Sometimes ideas would present themselves, sometimes the past would poke its creepy head into my pages. But it didn't matter because no one was ever going to see these thoughts. No one would be pulling my writing apart because I miss-spelled a word or didn't organize my thoughts so someone else could understand them.

And that's the point. I can be as crazy insane, dopey, duh, pissed off, or a rage maniac. It's not all bouncing around in my head like the balls in a Bingo machine. OO! there's a thought! OO! there's a though!! OO! there's another thought! Or - holy crap! where did that come from!!!!!! My head is calmed down, opened up and emptied leaving room to paint a painting! or write a book! or solve an simple day to day problem.

It's a weight off. I can bitch, moan, scream, swear, drop f bombs all over my pages and it's all OK. I shut off my inner critic and say "screw it!! (insert f bomb here)."

Sometimes, when I hear how overburdened some of you are, feeling trapped and alone, I think how maybe writing your thoughts, horrors, anxieties, humor, darkness and light might help ease your paths somewhat. Get yourselves a fat, college ruled notebook (the 10 subject kind) and a box of your favorite pens. Give yourselves, your creative spirits permission to be creative. You might find that masterpiece or that book you've always dreamed of.

And so, thank-you Julia Cameron for giving me permission to write, no talent required.  Happy painting!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

It's like making a cake

Painting. It's like making a cake. Patience in our ADD world is something sorely needed but difficult to achieve in the process of painting.
Think of painting as making a cake. The frosting is really what we are looking forward to. It's the first thing we see. But we have to buy the ingredients. We have to take out all our gadgets to put the cake together. And then we have to bake it, let it cool and all that tedious stuff that is no fun. Once we have applied all those hours, we can now play with the color and designs of our cake's frosting. But it's all worth it because the cake looks (and tastes) awesome.
And so goes painting. Big Big Big shapes first. Then Big Big Shapes. Then Big Shapes. Then Big Medium Shapes, etc. Yup. All very tedious. But - miss a step and your painting falls flat just like our cake. It's all part of the process.
Any project will require some kind of price on our part. There's always prep. Stuff we hate to do. With more experience we learn that cutting corners just doesn't work. I know! I've tried. Enjoy the ride, solve the problems then put on the frosting - which is about the last few minutes of a painting. Happy painting!!

Friday, July 8, 2016

The Jester

This doll was given to me so many years I go I can't begin to remember. But lately I've been into sparkles so why not give this a try! Started with the bigger shapes and colors. Deathly afraid of the sparkles and folds in the collar. Saved that for later.

Played with the background, shadows, changed some of the colors. Face placement.

Time for the sequins.  An overwhelming ADD problem - meaning I can't see them. Too many dots! So I put in a few here and there to help me figure out what to do. Left the figuring out to my right brain.  Always a good plan.

Played with the gold color. Seems I've used this term "played" before. I think "play" is a substitute word for "I don't know what I'm doing so I'll try this and see if it works." All the things that don't work make a nice base for all the things that work eventually. Little brushes forever tweaking.

And then......the "TA DA." Of course you don't get to see all the bitty changes that got to here. I did love working on this. Happy with the result. On to the next exciting adventure. Happy painting!
"The Jester"
11 x 14 
oil on canvas
on my website