Practice, practice, practice

img_0498This is a section of my floor to ceiling bulletin board, which has many drawings in charcoal, colored pencil, marker, pastel, crayon and any other medium my teacher could think of for me to use as I practiced, practiced (and practiced some more) my drawing skills on the challenging still life tableaux she prepared each week. She encouraged me to draw every day, which I did — and still do.  My ability to draw improved dramatically in a relatively short time — it’s made such a difference in my work ….

I hope the sunflower painting by my grandson Jack (he was 4 at the time) makes you smile.   We’d just spent the morning at a sunflower farm in Kansas and his interpretation captures the mood.  I’m always inspired by the delight that’s so obvious here — and how about that signature?!

So glad to be back in my studio

After a few weeks of  travelling, which took me to both coasts, I am happy to be back in my Milwaukee studio (which is a very sunny corner of my loft) and am ready for the cooler weather.   This vegetable still life came to be as a result of my farmers’ market haul over the weekend.  I am so thankful to my wonderful teacher, Pat Hidson, for introducing me to the incandescent delight that is gouache.  I don’t work in this medium often, but every time I do, I fall in love again.

Small Works

You can see here how I jerry-rig my table top easel in order to paint a small canvas.  One of the aspects of creating small works that I particularly enjoy is the ability to complete a painting fairly quickly and then be able to do another painting of that same scene to capture it in a different light, at a different time of the day, while the paint’s still wet on my palette.  My sketchbook color studies are especially helpful here, recording the changing light at different hours of the day.  At present I prefer to create plein air watercolor color studies and then to complete the finished oil painting in the studio, but that may change.

Since a good part of my time is occupied with my “day job” (my specialty baking business), it’s encouraging to be able to sit down for a few hours and actually complete a painting, which in turn inspires me to paint often.  I also find that just about everyone can find a spot for a small painting — 6″ square, 5″ x 7″ or 8″ x 10″ at most.  It’s a good size for a gift, souvenir or a thoughtful design element for your own personal space.

The first time …

That first time I offered my paintings for sale was one of the most petrifying, vulnerable moments I can remember (second only to having a teen aged son with a brand new driver’s license steer my car out of the driveway for the first time).   The reaction to my work was wonderful and I genuinely enjoyed my conversations with interested customers.  I particularly loved that the persons who purchased the paintings of water saw in these small works bodies of water that had special meaning for them — lake, ocean, Atlantic,  Pacific etc.  I was delighted to realize that my work evoked memories that made these folks smile.  That day, even more than usual, I headed home with a full and grateful heart.

Here goes …

In this, my very first post, I want tell you a little about what I love to paint.  I have dozens of sketchbooks and many of them are filled with color studies of the water — the harbor on a cloudy summer afternoon, the lake shore on a sunny winter morning and so on  ….  My sketchbook, paints and water brush are always in my car and ready to go whenever the mood (I should say whenever the scene, because the mood is always there!) finds me.

I work from these color studies to create small oil paintings — many of these canvases are water scenes.  My time on coastlines — Cape Cod, Ireland and Lake Michigan — inspires me every day.

I am also drawn to and inspired by the garden and everything in it — many of my paintings are of flowers, fruits or vegetables.  Living in the North where the grey winter lingers, the need for color is an unrelenting force….