Progress on Pee Wee

My camera jammed right as I was leaving the gallery tonight, so I used my phone to take this:

This is how it looked a short time before...
I made some progress, but will need to really think about the landscape when I see it again in the morning. It's pretty fun to work on such a large painting for a change.
This one below is what my student, Wanda, is working on. It's from a photo of her daughter in the bathroom sink 35 years ago. I think she's got a great start going.


Finish of Grampy and Kaiden, Beginning of Pee Wee

Depending on the light, this is how the finish of Grampy and Kaiden looks:


I'm very happy with it. It was a pleasure to work on such a sweet image.

I started this next painting today- 24"x36" oil on stretched canvas- of a dignified fellow with the fun name of "Pee Wee" who's been gone 30 years. The photos I've been given of him are all faded and, well, bad. But this pose is good, and until I know what they might want me to do with the background, I've given him a horizon line and some kind of sky. I've roughed in his suit and face and really kind of like his face the way it is. Monday I'll look at the other photos more carefully and see if I can infuse some more information into his face.
(Photo reference looks like someone was "cloned" out...)
I carried the canvas to work on the bus, and since it was a windy morning, I felt like I was walking more with a sail! I enjoyed sketching out such a large painting. The gallery is tiny, but I used its full length in stepping back many times to check my work.

Video of Demo Portrait of Suzanne

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This is the video of a piece of the demo portrait (11x14 on canvas panel) that I did at the workshop this week. It just shows the participants and the last little bit when I painted some highlights, I think. They, of course, were NOT a motley crew as I so rudely said. They were really great and worked their collective and individual butts off in the workshop. Suzanne was the instigating force behind the workshop and hosted the workshop and me. Thank you, Suzanne!

Progress on Grampy and Kaiden


I got to work on this 11 x 14 (oil on stretched canvas) portrait today and feel really good about the progress. I see a few things to refine tomorrow, but basically like how it looks. I want to work on Grampy's forehead and whiskers some. I simplified the blanket and am not sure about the stripes since they echo the pattern that the boy's collar makes. I'll look at it again tomorrow.
This is where I'd left off before the workshop.

The workshop went really well, I think. I've heard from three of the participants since I got home and they say their heads are about to burst, but that it was good. The paint-along was a good idea and helped quite a lot.

Thank you for all your birthday wishes for my mom. I'll pass the rest of them on when we talk in a bit.

Mid-workshop report...

I'm in Magnolia, Texas with a fun bunch of artists who are working on their portraiture skills. I painted a demonstration portrait of our host, Suzanne Canter and pieced a bit of those 43 minutes into less than 4 and a half for a little video, but the internet speed is preventing uploading it. Maybe later. Today we're going to have a "paint-along" and will all work from the same photo reference so they can follow my lead.

Today is my mom's 80th birthday. I wish I could be in Idaho with her and with my dad today to celebrate. I'm even away from my webcam so I can't see her and will have to make do with the phone, and maybe a little message here: Happy Birthday, Mom!

Video of Vanessa Painted From Life

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"Vanessa Painted From Life" 11" x 14" oil
When I was editing this video, I decided one part of our conversation was perhaps too personal and not pertinent to its intent, so I searched my iTunes library for a song to fit that time segment. If you're my age, this song played incessantly when you were 16. The video is a bit over 30 minutes long. My voice is akin to Minnie Mouse's, it turns out, and it seems I can't resist making sound effects when the camera zooms in. Odd.


I got a wonderful commission today for an 11" x 14" oil of a sweet teddy bear of a Grandpa and his precious Grandboy, both asleep on the sofa. I just had time to start a sketch before it was time to leave...


This is Grampy (John) and Nadine. I liked them immediately.

Another fun day at the gallery today, followed by waiting over an hour for the bus. Some sort of traffic snarl out at Six Flags caused our bus to be VERY late, so I focussed on the Pollyanna credo: "There's always something to be glad about." I got to know a couple of the other riders while we waited and I was grateful for the cooling air and the breeze and the vantage point from which to watch the endless parade of tourists emerging upstairs from the Riverwalk, swiveling their heads and trying to get their bearings now that they were on street level. Some looked lost enough for me to offer help. Some still had drinks in their hands from a party on the river. I'm loving my city after all these years living here.

Oh Happy Day


Vanessa, 11"x14" oil on stretched canvas
Today was one of those amazingly wonderful days. Little miracles everywhere.

  • Really nice people on vacation spent some of it talking with me.
  • A happy couple bought the Cafe Ole Riverwalk painting (that some of you helped me improve with your suggestions).
  • The woman in the hat painting bought the painting of the woman in the hat! She saw it on my blog and wanted it. Isn't that great? She lives in Canada with her very sweet husband so I'll ship that to her tomorrow.
  • I got to meet a shy 15 year old artist named Amber, along with her mother, who came in to inquire about personal instruction days.
  • I started a painting for an almost-too-good-to-be-true fellow in Ireland.
  • I got to paint Vanessa from life. Vanessa came in the other day and I couldn't help but ask her if she might sit for a portrait sometime. We agreed on this afternoon. I budgeted two and a half hours but really felt it was done at an hour and 45 minutes. Of course, now I see a couple of things I might address tomorrow using the photograph I took of her. The transition of light to shadow in her left cheek (viewer's right) is too sharp and could use an intermediate value there. Tiny other things. But for the very most part I just love this portrait. We talked and laughed and I actually recorded 30 minutes of it. So tomorrow evening I'll see what of it might be worth sharing. Can you tell I'm being more successful in resisting smoothing out my brushstrokes? I really like the effect. I have to be more careful with the ones I do, but it does seem to pay off.
  • Karen and I went out to dinner for very good Mexican food at Rosario's. Mmmm.

Hope you had a happy day, too! Sweet Dreams...........

Video of Acrylic Cowgirl, 8" x 10" on panel


Ok, I suffered all the way through this. I'd mixed some of the Liquitex Matte Super Heavy Gel into my little piles of acrylics with a palette knife, had a photo on the monitor and a cup of water at the ready, then dove in. Nothing behaved as I thought it might. I whined and complained all the way through the painting of it, so I decided to speed the video up and replace the audio with music. Trust me. Be glad I did.

(The little blob of paint I point out is black. On Tuesday I couldn't seem to make a decent black with the colors I had.)

I actually kind of like the odd little painting in an odd sort of way. Now, I mean. I left her glasses off. It was busy enough, I thought.

This video is less than two minutes long. Oh, I forgot to put the music in the credits: Joe Weed- Eastern Meadowlark.

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The Acrylic Portrait and Portrait of Alicia


This is the 9" x 12" acrylic portrait from the video... after fussing with it a bit more last night.
This evening I picked up some goop that is supposed to slow the drying time of acrylics, so I'll let you know how it works...

11" x 14" oil on canvas Yes! panel.
Alicia's a student who spent the day with me today. She wasn't really feeling like working on her super-sized pastel double figure painting, so was willing to sit for an oil portrait. Oh happy me! Doesn't Alicia look regal?

Video of First Acrylic Portrait

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Tonight I wanted to try out a new gadget my dad made for me- it holds my video camera closer to my easel so my big ol' hair doesn't get in the way. My oils are at the gallery, so I thought I'd give painting in acrylics a whirl. I had seven tubes of acrylic paint, a glass of water, some old brushes and a 9x12 canvas panel. What could I lose? I lost a lot of patience and some pride! I rattled on and on and the thing took almost an hour! So I replaced the audio with some music and compressed the time to about eight minutes. It still may be too long- you'll have to judge. Anyway, here is the result of my effort to paint with acrylics.

'La Villita Day To Remember' ...reworked.

This is a 24"x36" oil painting I painted last September. I liked parts of it. Hated the 'white' dress and the horrid basket... well, I just couldn't like anything about the little girl, and she was the FOCAL point! Yikes. I hung it at the gallery, but when asked about it, I always felt compelled to say I didn't like it. (?!?) So today, I pulled it off the wall and reworked it. Then I realized I didn't have my camera. So I took these photos with my camera phone. Hence: lousy photos. The pink of her dress isn't quite that pink, I promise. Anyway, I had to show you how I spent part of my day...








Finish of Libbi and Suzy Q


I just finished! I think it's sweet as heck, and I hope the family will like it. No, I hope the family will love it.
My youngest nephew just turned 19 so we're going to my sister's house and celebrating tonight. I had my daughter with a home birth, and my sister birthed her three children at home. I was privileged to get to "catch" Jake, as I caught his older brother, Lyle. Lyle has just headed off to California for his first tour as the drummer for a heavy metal rock band. They're going to over 50 cities in the span of two months! Jake is working through the summer and starting college in the fall. Time flies, my friends.
My daughter is 26 and she has the intellectual age of 9 or 10 due to a reaction at age one to her immunization. So I haven't had to go through the "letting go" that most moms go through. Mo is happily and intently focused on Hannah Montana and her cohorts. She calls me when she reaches her friend's house two blocks away to let me know she got there safely. She can't wait to see Kung Fu Panda when it comes out. She holds my hand or arm when we're out shopping. We're getting to enjoy a very prolonged pre-adolescence. Not such a bad thing, yes?
Well, I'm not sure all that belongs in my "Art Journal" but I'm an artist the whole time I'm being a mom, and a mom the whole time I'm an artist. One informs the other, one impacts the other. Don't you think?
Have a wonderful Saturday evening!

Another painting of Libbi, this time with SuzyQ




You might remember that I painted this special woman with her sister in April this year for their mother's Mother's Day gift. Now, thanks to her sister, Patti, I get to paint her with her Maltese, Suzy Q. I took my time today and painted from 1 p.m until 6 p.m. today. It's pretty rough still, but I think it's coming along well. Her dog is pure white, and in the reference photo for this painting, unlike the one for the painting of her mother with their dog I painted in April, there isn't much in the way of shadow, so it will be a bit of a challenge to portray Suzy Q well. I'll be working on this painting again tomorrow. I'll post progress images again then. Now I'm going out to fellow and sister artists' blogs to see what they/you painted today.... Always a favorite time of day!

Two paintings on eBay right now...

"Cafe Ole at the Riverwalk"

Click HERE to visit listing in eBay...

"New Umbrella"

Click HERE to visit listing in eBay... This one ends June 13 in the evening.

I had a real day off today. Morgan and I went to the movies, I had an afternoon NAP, I made dinner in a leisurely way and watched TV while answering emails and leaving comments on blogs. Wonderful. Back to the gallery tomorrow and to the reception of the first All-Members show of the Texas Pastel Society in the evening. See you there?

Full exciting day- 16x20 oil portrait of couple from sittings


At four o'clock today this wonderful couple, Don and Camille, walked into the gallery and within a few minutes had decided to sit for an oil portrait NOW. I set up the light and easel, refreshed some paint on my palette and off we went! I sketched in Don with thinned burnt umber and then asked Camille to take the portrait stand and got her sketched in as well. They swapped places again and I painted Don while we all got to know each other. Camille has excellent interview skills, so they now know my whole life story. But when it was time to paint her, Don used my computer to check his email and tables were turned- I got to hear one remarkable story after another. One or two were jaw-droppers. I got Don back for a while to paint his shirt, then Camille again for collar and necklace details. It was 8:45 when we declared it finished. Wow. I know they found it hard to understand, but I told them that when I start a painting from life, I feel as though I just walked off the top of a 20 story building out into thin air. I always just hope I remember how to do this and then paint like crazy.
Thursday, when I go back to the gallery, I'll look at it with fresh eyes and see what needs what. When it's dry and then varnished and then dry again, I'll ship it off to them where they live near Seattle.
I caught the last bus out of downtown and have eaten a very late supper. Now I need sleep in a desperate sort of way....

Finished demo from workshop


11" x 14" oil on canvas panel (made by Yes!)
I'm riding the bus to work these days. I drive three miles to the Park And Ride and take an express bus into town and back. It's great! It's just as fast and I'm saving over a hundred dollars a month in gas and parking to do that and the stops are as close or closer than the parking lot I was using. Today was the first day I used a little rolling cart to transport more things than I could carry. Just as I turned into La Villita, this still-wet painting slipped off the top and I rolled right over it. The girl had a tire track right through her forehead. If that isn't motivation to get busy right away and finish the painting, I don't know what is!
I had two great conversations today with two artists from Magnolia, northwest of Houston, and a photographer from St. Louis, and a few short, sweet ones.

Workshop complete... weary and happy

Left to right: Sharon, Mary, Peggy, Me, Julie and Joanne. What a great group of artists!

We had another good day today. Got to work from a model- the lovely Alicia, who'd never modeled before, but was Superb. No drifting or shifting and looked relaxed the entire time. We loved her. She sat for six hours.
I did do a rudimentary demo before we got started, but it's really not viewable...yet. I'll try to spruce it up and post it another time, ok? Ok!

Halfway through workshop.. oil demo portrait

This has been a good day. Five dynamic, enthusiastic artists moving their portrait skills along. Six, including me. We worked from photos today. Tomorrow we'll have a model. This is the demo I did today. Maybe I'll finish it up sometime for the gallery...

I don't sleep well before a workshop. LastMinuteitis has me gathering supplies and tools until late, and then I'm so excited I wake up several times during the few hours left. I'll sleep well tonight. Tomorrow's going to be so much fun. I'll try to get a group photo to post. Happy Saturday, everyone!

Two one-hour portraits today


Oil on RayMar panel, 8" x 10"
I'd completely forgotten that I'd been asked to do a portrait from a sitting and be interviewed for a public access tv show an acquaintance is making. So when he showed up today with two camera people, I ran next door and asked if any of the artists at River Art Gallery might come sit for me. Jeanne Allen offered, so I grabbed her and plunked her in a chair on the platform, squeezed out some new paint and started slapping on paint as I was being asked questions. Yikes! I'm sure I sounded a little odd. Who knows? But I kind of like the portrait that came of it.
I told Jeanne that at first she looked a little like Golda Meir. Then later, Ronald Reagan. But in the end, I think she looked mostly like Jeanne.

Just as I was finishing up Jeanne's shirt, this very nice man, an architect from Miami, came in and decided he wanted to sit for a portrait, too. We had the most pleasant conversation as I painted. I usually paint folks regarding the viewer -me- directly. Looking straight at me. But I really liked this view of him as we were going through the slow turn that I ask models to do in order to find a nice position. He had such interesting planes in his cheek and jawline.

Oil on RayMar panel, 8" x 10"

I'm all ready for the workshop tomorrow now... I just love seeing those lightbulbs going on over artists' heads as they learn something new. I always learn something, too. Always.

"Braids" painting on eBay, and new Riverwalk painting

Go HERE to see listing. Ends late Saturday evening.
6" x 6" oil painting on panel, frame available.

This is a start of another painting of the San Antonio Riverwalk. Oil on stretched canvas, 11 x 14. I'm truly trying to loosen up here... will post my progress or finish soon.
Tomorrow begins the two day portraiture workshop I'm giving at the Hill Country Arts Foundation, so I'm busy getting last minute details together... and you know how I like to do things at the last minute!

Last minute 16 x 20 pastel


Why do I do this? I paint the night before to enter in the show the next day. Can I be the only silly one to do this? San Antonio has a new pastel society. Texas Pastel Society. And there's an all-member show next weekend. Because I can't bring my paintings this weekend because of the portrait workshop I'm giving in Ingram, TX, the president, Mary Lopez, offered to pick mine up tomorrow. I, of course, waited until this evening to paint this one. The reference photo is of a woman who walked into the gallery wearing this great hat. I asked if I could take some photos. She struck this pose and three others
. I decided to close her mouth, and no, it wasn't just to avoid painting her teeth. Ok, maybe it was, but it also was to have the look I preferred. (Are you buying this?) I wanted to post this entry on my blog before midnight, but ended up reworking a pastel I painted in Judith Carducci's workshop in March, and also framing another painting.
I painted this one on gatorboard prepared with Art Spectrum's Colourfix fine pumice gel mixed with a little quinacradone gold. So the brush strokes of the Colourfix show through the layers of pastel. It prevents much detail, but adds some movement under the pastel.

Live your own dream


Anyone who's read even a few of my posts has figured out I'm doing something I've wanted to do. It's just one of the dreams I've had for myself. Some I've already done, some I've yet to do, but this is a dream I'm living now. I'm savoring the moments. I confess I'm pretty giddy much of the time. People probably wonder who the grinning fool is. It's me. (It is I?) I'm the grinning fool.

But this isn't every artist's dream. Not every artist wants to paint in public and speak with dozens of strangers a day. Not every artist wants to make a living with her art. Not every artist even wants to sell her art at all. I get the feeling sometimes that there are artists who are measuring themselves and each other with some sort of yardstick- finding some worthy and others not. There's a hint of disdain toward "Sunday painters," and honor for those who paint daily and therefore take their art "more seriously." Consider the disdain toward crafters vs. "real artists." Sometimes the disdain is toward those who sell their work, vs. doing it strictly for the love of it. Oh, the list of reasons to dismiss each other's work, and our own, is long.

Consider some of the reasons we make art: Some people just love being in the company of other artists, so they make art, too. Some want to improve their skills as a personal quest. Some want to enter competitions. Some want to make their livings at it. Some want to give their work away. Some want to learn to paint in order to paint their grandchildren and have no further motivation. Some want an outlet that's nothing like their "real job" as a sort of antidote. Some just want to look at color and move it around.

I submit to you that any way and any reason we "do art" is good. Is enough. Is vital. Is honorable. For artists, making art is important to our souls and our minds and our lives. It would be good if we let ourselves off the hook to do it differently than we want to. We don't need to measure ourselves against anyone else. And we need to stop measuring others that way, too.

We could wallow in regret about having put our art aside for so long that now it's "too late" to be the artist we think we would have been otherwise. We could look at someone else's life and be envious. OR we could give ourselves what we really want now. No less and no more. Some dreams take years of work, and some dreams just take our own permission to spend an afternoon being an artist in our own home. Just remember, you're allowed to have lots of dreams. You can do them all at once... it's just a little easier doing them one or two at a time.

I'm living this dream now. But believe me, I have a few other dreams waiting in the wings for their turn on the stage. All in good time....

I'd love to hear what you think.

Great site with David Darrow painting LIVE

I've stumbled upon a great, fun, informative LIVE site where David Darrow paints and you can watch in real time. In fact, I'm watching right now! Come on over and see Dave paint. Tonight's in acrylic.. a small portrait from a photo reference.. but usually he paints in oil. http://www.ustream.tv/channel/dave-the-painting-guy

This is his main site: http://www.darrowart.com/index.html

I want to do the live broadcasting, too! I'm going to watch and learn.......

Riverwalk Cafe Ole, Part 2


Thank you to those of you who gave suggestions of how to "fix" the water in this painting. I've darkened and simplified the patterns somewhat and tidied up a couple of umbrellas and added a bulb or two to the string of lights on the right. What thinketh thee now, O landscape artists Supreme? Is it still too busy in the water area?