Beginning commissioned portrait from life

I had the best time today. This fun couple from Houston spent four hours with me at the gallery while I roughed in the beginning of their 16x20 oil portrait. I took several photos as references for later when I do the work of finishing it. I had them sit separately, taking turns as I painted. Both of them have excellent interviewing skills, so I'm afraid I talked a blue streak all the while. I managed to get the conversation focused on them in return toward the end and wished I'd done that sooner- they're fascinating.
It's unusual that I have so many portraits in the works at one time. I prefer to focus on one until it's finished and then start the next. But right now I have the two children in oil on 8x10 canvases, John Pototschnik on 18 x 24 canvas, the woman from the newspaper clipping on 16x20 and now this new one- all in progress. Next week I take photos for a very large portrait of a 14/15 year old girl, and there's another waiting to begin- a fairly large one of two children. But somewhere in there I need to do my taxes. So, I plan to do my broadcast Tuesday evening -oh! that's tonight!- and then buckle down and figure out the figures for a few days.
Am I the only one who's waited until the last minute to do her taxes?? Send encouragement, send caffeine, send chocolate!

Commission- bound for Ireland

There's such a great story that goes with this painting, but I think I'll need to wait until I deliver it to the wonderful fellow who commissioned it Ireland... to tell you more. I'm giving myself the gift of 12 days in Ireland this June, where I'll take a week's workshop with Robert Liberace. I'll be flying in and out of Dublin, where the man who commissioned this painting lives, so I'll get to hand it to him personally rather than shipping it. He gave me a photocopy of a newspaper clipping from 1961 when this girl was 17. I'm to paint her with hazel eyes, brown hair, blue and white necklace and blue outfit. Since there's no outfit in the photo, and 1961 leads me to think of Jackie Kennedy, I thought I'd put her in a boxy little double-breasted jacket. I think the necklace will have to hang lower. Anyway, this is as much as I was able to get painted in the two hours I got to paint at the end of my day at the gallery today. I see many corrections to make, but thought it was a good start. Three of my framed paintings sold today! Two landscapes- the pastel, "The Perfect Lemon" and the oil, "Italian Door." And my oil still life, "Tea With Sugar And Lemon. " The still life is going to Australia to hang with the buyer can look at it while she has her tea. Ah. The landscapes are going to Atlanta to be enjoyed by a neat couple I spent a nice while talking with this morning. I'm happy today.

Progress on two 8x10 oil portraits

I've worked on these two portraits during my online broadcasts last night and the night before. I'm pretty close to done with the little boy, perhaps. I'll take some fresh looks later. The little girl is just blocked in for now, and I haven't decided what to do about her dress yet. I thought I'd post the progress images especially for those who kept me company as I painted. Bless you!!

Finish of Samy's portrait

I finished the portrait of Samy today at the gallery. It was so good to paint again there. Before yesterday, it seems like it had been weeks.
Today there was a Festival of India in La Villita, in Maverick Plaza next to me. So I got to have a wonderful lunch of sag paneer and rice and was enjoying all the bright saris and the music... when suddenly a very loud rock band started up on the other side of the gallery in the garden of a restaurant there. On top of that, another South American band, complete with those great Pan flutes and xylophone-ish instruments started playing just on the other side of the church on my courtyard. Yikes! It was a great cacophony and I just had to breathe through it and focus on conversation with my visitors.
I know I've mentioned before how much I enjoy talking with the visitors to the gallery, but let me tell you again. This world is just chock full of the nicest people! I learned about Bernese Mountain dogs from a fun woman who is a dog show judge, met a wonderful woman who's a sculptor and lives in a nearby town, talked with several lapsed artists who left the gallery encouraged to practice their arts again in some way, talked with many, many parents who were on a Spring Break vacation with their children and talked with many children about their drawings. On top of that, I got to paint the last three hours of the day! Life is good.

Out of the blue...portrait sitting

Oil, 10 x 8
While at the gallery yesterday, I was setting up to work on the portrait of Samy and a fun couple from Colorado Springs walked in. The fellow immediately got the idea I should paint his wife, Susan. Right now. Susan protested. Her hair, her shirt, no, no, no. But her husband urged, reasoned, sweetly bullied. Somehow, he persuaded us both to cooperate. As I was organizing the easels and chairs for this new plan, he tells me that she's celebrating a milestone birthday and I guessed 50, but it turns out she's turning 60! I then learn that she's recently retired from 35 years of teaching music, and that she's a painter, herself. So we started in on the portrait and had a very nice conversation, with her husband cheering us on with "You've nailed it!" and "You're going to love this!" all the way through. I had to get up a couple of times to handle some card and print sales, but we finished up 90 minutes after we started. Susan declared the painting wonderful. You know, I need a bit more of this in my life. I LOVED having a live model. I'll keep the portrait until it dries, then varnish it and when that's dry, I'll ship it off to Colorado Springs as a reminder of Susan's 60th birthday in beautiful San Antonio. Ah.

Artist- Start Your Blog! Workshop, May 3, 2009

I'm not a "techie" by any means, but I can show you what I know about starting and keeping a blog. It's the single most effective means of marketing/communication/networking/showing of my work that I've experienced. Blogs are free and worth many thousands!

A one-day workshop to give you what you need to-
  1. Start your blog.
  2. Understand the basics, and many of the bells and whistles.
  3. Create a slideshow of your art for your blog.
  4. Start a mailing list with a subscription form on your blog- send to each post or periodic newsletters.
  5. Add PayPal buttons to your work on your blog and be paid directly.
  6. Add a visitor counter to your blog to see details about visitors and who refers them.
  7. Know basic blog ettiquette.
  8. Network and make new friends all over the world!

$50.00, May 3, 2009 at Tres Amigos restaurant- 1801 S. Capitol of Texas Hwy, Austin, Texas

9:30 a.m. -1 p.m., mid-day break (to allow pickup of paintings for end of show), 3:30- 5:30 p.m.

Contact me at for more information and to reserve your spot.

You may bring a wireless laptop if you like, but it's not necessary. Breakfast, lunch and dinner available with notice.

More progress on portrait of Samy

I spent a few hours tonight moving this painting along. There are still things to do, but I'm starting to breath a bit easier. Thank you for holding positive thoughts.

Website Redesigned!

Thank you to my smart and talented sister, Patty Cooper, for turning my ugly duckling website into a thing of pride. Check out and see if you agree. I still need to cull out paintings and put up a few newer ones, and there are some other ideas I hope to add in the future, but I do like it SO much now.

If you could use some expertise with your website, you can talk it over with Patty:

Progress on Samy

Well, it's coming. Thank you to those of you who kept me company tonight while I painted! You're the best.

Revamp of painting from last year

I'm trying to put some new "sample" portraits up in the gallery and thought I'd try to improve this one that I'd started last year, but set aside due to some drawing and temperature issues I had with it. I like it much better now. The image below is the "before":

Cute enough, I suppose, but the hat didn't sit on her head correctly, and her face was warm and warmer, with no ochres or blues.
Below is the reference photo- perhaps an oft-used image from the reference library at

Start on Samy -oil portrait commission

16x12 oil on stretched canvas. Just two and a half hours in, but managed to get it sort of blocked out. I debated whether to delete this image, as I see many many corrections that must be made, now that I've moved back and taken a good look. The high key values and the little contrast of the photo are making me want to put in contrast that isn't there, so I'll have to watch that. Thank you for the good company as I painted!

Reference for online painting at 6 - Samy

I'm starting a commissioned portrait tonight at 6 p.m. CST
Come on by!

Workshop wind-up

Italian Door 8x6 oil This one was fun. I haven't painted much architecture, but this made me want to try more in the future.

Morning Paper 14x11 oil This is the finish of the one I posted before.

In full disclosure, I almost posted the photo of this painting:
Riverwalk 6x8 oil But it's a dog. A small, ugly dog. Will be sailed as a frisbee into the trash. You would've been as horrified as I was. Trust me.

Workshop report

This is the little 6x6 pastel from yesterday. I've painted this scene before in oil somewhat larger and wondered if I could pull it off smaller.

This made me so happy to paint today. 10x8 pastel. It's of my Mom and Dad last May walking through Walmart looking for work gloves. A moment before they were holding hands, but by the time I got my camera out, this is what I saw. I moved them up a bit within the borders of the painting so I could paint the longer reflections of their legs.
This is the beginning of a 14x11 oil I started today. I'm working at simplifying shapes and softening edges, so wish me luck and wisdom in that effort.... I'm glad Desmond doesn't mind me working in oil. He says most of his workshops are offered to both oil and pastel painters, as I do in mine. I'm enjoying the company of the other artists this weekend. Hope you're having a good weekend, too!

Desmond O'Hagan workshop- 1st day

Desmond O'Hagan is a terrific painter and is giving us (the Austin Pastel Society) a three day workshop at the Windberg Art Center.

Jo Castillo took this photo of me working on my first painting of the day.

Perfect Lemon, 9x12 pastel
After the above painting, I did another 6x6 pastel of Casa Rio on the Riverwalk, then started an 8x10 pastel of my parents (from behind) as they walked through Walmart looking for gloves. Desmond has given me his permission to work in oil, too, during the workshop, so I think I will switch to oil after the painting of my folks. Desmond's focus is painting more simply, more loosely, which is always helpful to attempt. I'll let you know how I do.

Spiritart Sarah Skype painting

10x8 oil on canvas panel

Well, that was extra fun. Sarah was a pleasure to paint. I had some sound and other technical glitches, and forgot to record when I finally got things up and running again, but otherwise, things went well. Ha!

Progress on painting of John Pototschnik

I worked on this painting (in the company of the fun artists who showed up to hang out with me) for 3 hours last night. My objective was to correct a problem with proportions in his face and then to see how much of the white canvas I could cover. Helen Van Wyk said that you're not painting until you're painting on paint, so tonight I might get to start painting! Come visit the broadcast at 6 CST tonight... you'll enjoy the company. I know I do!