Commission finished.... almost?

This painting's deadline was the 25th, but we all got an intestinal virus that flattened first Morgan, then Karen and me, so I just got it done tonight. Actually, I may work a bit more on it tomorrow after I have a chance to see it fresh in the morning. The reference photos were several years old and not one of them was right in itself, so the painting is a compilation of bits from each of them. It's an oil, 16"x 20" on stretched canvas.

In spite of the flu, Christmas was one of the nicest ever. I'm told that the La Villita gallery contract is taking longer than they planned, so I'll get it closer to the middle of January than the beginning. So we're going to work on some home improvement projects here at home until then. I've gotten to talk with two other artists who I hope will be involved in the gallery down the line. There are some wickedly talented women in this part of Texas, let me tell you.

So how are you all spending your holidays? I'm going to sing Karaoke with my friends and generally get silly. The older I get, the more fun it is to play. I was SO serious in my 20s and 30s.

Have a great New Year's Eve, Ya'll!

Sample finished

This is an oil, 16"x20" on stretched canvas, I recently finished as a sample. I actually bought publication rights to the reference photo... something new to me. I liked that the faces of the woman and her dog were right up next to each other, unlike most 'me and my pet' photos. And I loved the expressions on their faces. I'm going to need samples of all sorts of portraits for the new studio and thought this addressed one category well.
This is the barest start of a commissioned oil portrait, 16"x20" on stretched canvas, of an eight-month-old boy. I'm using several photos and doing a composite of information from them. It makes me a little nervous to post these beginnings because they're in the prolonged ugly stage and some people will think that's how it's going to look when they're done. But take heart... they get better as I go along. My first interest is just get the canvas covered. I haven't even finished that stage yet. I'll post the progress images along the way.
I teach a painting class tonight and another tomorrow. Then Morgan has her 26th birthday on Friday. I was 26 when she was born. It's all going by so quickly. When I stop to see how good everything is here and now, I want to go back in time to the 26-year-old me and whisper in her ear, "Hang in there. It gets really wonderful later on."
Helen Van Wyk says in one of her painting videos that her teacher insisted that you weren't painting until you were painting on paint. "...first cover the canvas..." I guess at 26 I was just covering the canvas. Now I'm starting to paint on paint. So go ahead... take chances, make mistakes, do the best you can. Later you can make corrections, deepen the shadows, add some highlights, rethink the composition entirely. You're the artist here.

In the midst of Christmas commissions

This is a pastel, 11x14, on Pastelbord, started as a demo from a photo for one of my classes and finished up later. I took it for our annual Austin Pastel Society Christmas show n' tell Thursday evening and got such enthusiastic feedback for it that I had to look more closely to see what I did "right." One member, our past president Kathy Gray, even asked me to email an image of it to her so she could 'study' it. She wrote back and cited my bravery in leaving strokes unblended and in using such saturated color in places. I had to agree with her about the bravery. It does take some bravery and some bit of bravado (probably from the same root word, right?) to trust and then emphasize those flashes of color and then to leave the strokes as they are and not rub them away. Every time I manage bravery of that sort, I feel rewarded, so I do it more and more.
I'm in the middle of two commissions, both oil, with looming deadlines. One is actually overdue and the commissioner is being very patient. But there's emergency shopping to do today and I'm being my sister's 'date' to her company Christmas party tonight, so I don't know how much painting I'm going to be able to squeeze in today.
I'm being helped in the sanity department by the emails I get several times daily from Flylady and her helpers. If you haven't discovered Flylady, you might want to take a look at It's a system for decluttering, keeping house by way of routines and baby steps, and FLYing : Finally Loving Yourself. I learned about Flylady from someone who was also participating in National Novel Writing Month two years ago, and have been grateful for her daily influence since.
Ok, I'm off to find festive clothes for tonight that I can wear in 70+ degree weather. It's warm and humid today.

Have a fun weekend, Ya'll!

Pastel portrait demo

This is a small (9x12) pastel portrait on a sanded ground (Colourfix) which I started on Tuesday as a demo in my class, but finished today. The photo is from which has copyright-free images for artists to use. I print some of them for my portrait students. Now that I have the photo and the portrait side-by-side, I see all sorts of discrepancies, but like it anyway, I think.
Mary Shepard came over today and painted with me so we could brainstorm about the new studio. I got clearer about some things in the process. Thank you, Mary! Here's Mary's website: She paints beautiful landscapes and still life in watercolors and oil. Mary paints a mean portrait, too, but doesn't quite admit it.
Tomorrow we're putting up Christmas decorations. I resist every year and then find myself just silly with Christmas spirit once the tree is decorated. I expect to give myself over to carols and the wearing of Santa hats very soon.
Here's to the lifting of your own seasonal spirts, ya'll.

In case you haven't heard enough about the mural...

Karen and Morgan and Mo's friend Linda and I went to Bellacino's for dinner tonight. GREAT pizza and ice cream. They make everything in house. All the breads and ice creams made right there. I got to finally get a picture with the wonderful Fran Matthews who owns the restaurant. Sweet woman.
This afternoon was painting class and a new artist joined us- Lesta Frank. She's already quite accomplished in watercolor and most other subjects, but wants to feel more confident with her portraiture and wants to learn to use pastels. She was a pleasure. Marion and Mary break new ground each time they work in class. I couldn't be more proud of them. I'll try to remember to take photos of their work to share here.
I've spent many hours over the last couple of days working on building a website for the new La Villita studio and gallery. Ok. I've been suffering over a name for this place. Right now, today, this is what I'm thinking:

Susan Carlin
Art Studio and Gallery

Not flashy, but covers the bases.

I get the space January first. In the meantime, I have to figure out a counter, frames, flooring, wall covering, new ceiling and lights. A model platform, receipts, credit card processing, finding other artists (good artists) willing to be there, phone, internet, printer, grid walls for the porch outside..... my head swims. All this with a crashed computer. I'm on a new one without benefit of all my images, documents, contacts. My sister keeps saying, "starting FRESH!" Okey dokey.


Well, ok, I still need to varnish it, and sign it. But I say it's done. I had lots of input from the family who commissioned it, so they must be feeling some authorship of it, as well. I'm looking forward to the opening. Bellacino's is at 6044 FM 3009, Suite 290, Schertz, TX. It's at the corner of 3009 and Four Oaks Lane, just west of I-35. The restaurant is in the elbow of the new shopping center there. It's a "Fast, Casual Italian" restaurant with pizzas and 'grinders' (subs) and a full creamery... fabulous ice creams with all the toppings. The Matthews family has been working hard to create a classy place to have a great lunch or dinner at an attractive price. I hope you'll check it out. They open November 26th- a week from today, the Monday following Thanksgiving.

This image is good for viewing the midground gondola. The next one is better for the foreground one.

All mural, all the time....

Every bit of the original wall is now covered except for the foreground gondola's innards. I'll be painting the gondolier and produce and bread and sausages and the like inside there. Today I put the daughter in the balcony on the left and the two granddaughters in the central gondola, finished the building on the right, complete with two balconies overrun with flowers, and a flower box in the same condition. I went over the sky with more color and did a lot of detail clean up all around. I've appreciated friends dropping in to encourage me along. Thank you! I really am going to try to finish up tomorrow. Then I'll go shopping for polyurethane.... or maybe it's verithane I want? Will ask the folks at Lowes. Thank you for the kind comments, ya'll.
Nighty night.

More mural...of course!

I've got 30 hours of painting time in on this project now. That's not counting interviewing, sketching, photo and computer time, time at the art supply store, or driving time. I'm guessing another 10 to go. Maybe 15? I keep thinking of new details to add. Once it's done, I'll coat it with polyurethane. The family starting the restaurant is working very hard to get everything just right for the grand opening on November 26th. I'm enjoying getting to know them. When the mural is completed, I have one portrait waiting for its finishing touches and another that came in today. Life is good.

Faces and details on the mural

These faces are one inch high. It's been a challenge to get the likenesses of the restaurant's owners in such a small space. Two grandchildren and a daughter to go. What was I thinking?
My daughter took this picture of me while I was painting. I thought it turned out well. Today I made up a balcony and tried to make it look like carved stone. And I started in on the people in the gondolas.
I now have 24 and a half hours in on this. I have some (vain) hope I can be done and happy with it by the end of the weekend.
This evening I got the contract for the portrait studio to look over and sign. Had a great conversation with the woman who brought it to me. I find myself looking forward to the whole experience... in between the moments of abject terror.
Tonight Karen and I went to see Love In The Time Of Cholera. Beautiful and meaningful, if one suspends the need for plausibility. Morgan saw Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium. Then we went to Taco Cabana for margaritas. Nice. I have a funny, sweet family. Have a good weekend, Ya'll.

Mural Progress

Six hours on the scaffold today. Turned the gondola on the right so that it's directed into the opening, painted arches and walls and brick and geraniums and a lemon tree and lettered the tiny sign with "Bellacino's".
My feet hurt but I'm happy with the progress. More hours tomorrow!

All Sorts of NEWS

Well, well. Life's direction can turn on a dime. These particular changes fall in the category of 'be careful what you wish for, as it will surely come to be'. I submitted a proposal to the City of San Antonio in mid-October for the lease of a space to open a portrait art studio in La Villita (the artsy, historic area in downtown San Antonio adjacent to the Riverwalk). Friday was a day to remember. I was getting ready to go to Justin's for the reception for my show with Donna and Kim when I got a call saying my proposal was accepted. Omigosh! Fifteen minutes later I got a call from a woman who wanted a mural for her new restaurant, deciding that I was the one to do it. So I went to my reception with two new projects swimming in my head.

I won't get possession of the shop until late December, so that relieves me of the dreaded rush to get it up and operational in time to be profitable before Christmas. But it's still happening pretty fast. I started the mural on Sunday, so have been painting on it each day since. I'll post the latest image from that. It's an arched space framed by bricks, on a wall above a four foot wainscotting and ledge. Nine feet across, five feet high, so I'm working on a scaffold. I'll post more photos as I go.

The novel has slowed up considerably. I'm pretty darned sure I won't have 50000 words written by November 30th. But I like my premise and I'm inching along on it. In the midst of all this, my desktop computer threw its little electronic hands in the air and died. So I'm working on my laptop without the benefit of many a needed file and program, waiting for a bright young fellow named Cody to build me a new machine.
The mural will be a Venice canal with three gondolas. The center gondola will be carrying the members of the family opening the restaurant, the gondolier being the co-manager son. The mom is the other manager. I'm admiring this family's ability to work hard. They impress me. So far I have a bit of brick wall and the water and the scene at the end of the canal. There will be a little cafe on the left past the bridge. Bellacino's is the name of the restaurant and the name will be on the little white sign on the pink building. The foreground gondola will have produce as cargo. At least, that's the plan.
Nighty night, all.

I'll be back....

Ok, I'm staggering under the load of all the things I'm doing right now and will try to get back to blogging as soon as I can take a deep breath. Thanks for coming by..Leave me a comment and I'll respond specifically, ok?

Another Eleventh Hour post

Today has been a wild mix of airport runs, errands, the death of a cell phone and purchase of another, making dinner, adjusting my nephew, Amazing Race (didn't see the end because it interfered with...) The Amazing Mrs. Pritchard on PBS, and finally seeing Joni Mitchell on Tivo from this morning's CBS Sunday Morning. In between I talked with my parents in Idaho, and my friend Karen about the novel's start and tried to figure out my new phone. It does email and instant messaging, and I still don't know my way around it, even after studying up. Didn't actually work on the novel today, so tomorrow will be tough catching up. Tomorrow is also the day to enter work in the portrait show at the Coppini, but I'm ill prepared, having just hung the show at Justin's.
No photo to add to today's post right now. I'll have to see what I can do tomorrow.
Nighty night, All.

November 3, Saturday

I spent the day at the River Art Gallery selling art to happy people visiting San Antonio from all over the country. I got to work with two very nice women, Abigail and Alice, and I got to work on my novel just a little. I'm still about 1600 words behind, but I'm going to try to put a dent in that number before going to bed. 50,000 words divvied up between the thirty days of November is 1667 words a day. About two and a half pages in Microsoft Word in 12 pt. type. Completely possible, right? That's what I keep telling myself.
Ok, it's back to work.....

National Novel Writing Month kickoff

But will I participate this year? I did participate for the first time two years ago, and learned so much about myself writing those 50,000 words over the course of November. Last year I had good intentions and started off all right and then let life nudge me off the path. I've been reluctant to state any intentions for this year. But here it is. Two hours are left of November 1st. If you fall behind the 1667 words a day quota, it's tricky to try to catch up. So, ok, I'm going over to the NaNoWriMo site and sign in. I'm going to give it a shot. I could use a little self knowledge right about now. Several aspects of my life are in limbo, so doing something positive and incremental should be helpful. Painting always helps in that way, too. So: painting and writing. Writing and painting. That's the plan.

Second and last day of Artisans Fair

Well, I'm bushed. I forgot my visor and my apron today so my nose is burnt and I had to scrub oil paint out of my clothes when I got home. But, again, I loved the questions the kids asked today. If I could spend the next year just painting those eight and nine-year-old faces, I'd be in heaven. I promised I'd post the finished painting of the dogs on my blog so the kids could see them done. I'll try to finish them up by the weekend. In the meantime, here's how the second one looks at the moment.
Tomorrow we hang our show at Justin's On Main. I'll put the reception information here again. Do try to come next Friday! Good eats and good art. Can't beat that.

Three Points of View
Three painters, three ways of looking at the world.
Paintings by
Susan Carlin, Donna Bland and Kim Roberti
Please Come to the Reception
November 9, 2007
Friday 5:00– 8:30 p.m.

Justin’s On Main
2512 N. Main Avenue
San Antonio, Texas

Refreshments, Art
and Scintillating Company

The Show will be in place all of November 2007

First day of Artisans Fair

This is the second year I've participated in Artisans Fair. This year I'm there for both days. I'm making a rough guess, but over the two days I get to talk with about 700 third graders, 30 at a time. For eighteen minutes with each group I paint and talk and answer questions. The questions were great. I loved all those wonderful, young faces asking them, too.
Last year I set up a still life consisting of a teddy bear, a basketball and a toy car and painted that. This year I'm painting dogs. One per day. Today was Jack, my brother's dog, . You'd think Jack was my mom's dog, though. He spends a lot of time on her lap. So when this is done, I'll send it to her. The photos above are of what it looked like at 30 minutes, and then at 3 hours. I think I painted less than an hour of those three hours, though. Mostly I talked and answered questions. The most interesting question: Was there ever a painting you regretted painting? Wow. I'll have to think about that one. Mostly the kids wanted to know how long it takes to paint a painting and what painting was my favorite and when did I start painting.
Tomorrow I 'm going to paint a different dog; I think it's a Jack Russell. I'll work on both of them more afterward and post the finishes here soon. Thanks, Third Graders of SCUCID!

Halfway through the demo

This is a photo taken as we were returning from a 10 minute break about thirty minutes into the painting. I'm glad Carol sent me this, so you could see HER!
Thank you, Jo, for your suggestion about answering some "why" questions while I'm demonstrating. The reasoning behind. I like that, too. I'll put some thought into my whys and see how I can weave them into my presentation. Thanks!

Demo today at Coppini Academy

Well, that was fun. What a difference between the Fredericksburg group and this one, though. F'burg folks asked lots of questions and there was a lot of laughing and clear interest. My home folks here were more subdued and reserved for some reason. But I got several thank yous afterwards which seemed happy and sincere.
Carol Hatch offered to be the model and did a nice job of it. This was just a 50-60 minute oil sketch, but I like it. If she decides she wants it I'll refine it more from the photos I took there.

I have a question- I like to do demos. When you go to a demo, what do you want the artist to talk about and show? I'd like to work up a program to offer to groups of non-artists, too, so any ideas about what to address? I have my own ideas, but would love to hear yours. Thanks!
I got to use my new palette today and liked it a lot. Here it is in its virgin state:
I also got the "Artist of the Month" award today with my "Evening Comfort" painting. Felt good.
Tomorrow I'm going back to work on the commission of the bathing beauty at Lake Michigan.

Tiny Dancer... maybe done?

Thank you, Karen, for the title suggestion. Love it.
This one was fun.
Oil 16"x20" on canvas panel.
Now, off to Coppini to do the portrait demo......!

Demo and new painting starts

I got a call yesterday from Donna B. asking if I'd demo for the Coppini membership on Sunday (tomorrow). I'd been telling everyone to go to the meeting because John Michael Carter was going to demo. Well, his workshop didn't get enough takers, so he's not coming. Let me tell you, tomorrow people will be expecting to see a much more accomplished painter and it'll be lil' ol' me. But heck, I'll do the best I can. Anyone want to come? 2:00 at Coppini Academy, 115 Melrose Place.

Yesterday I drove up to New Braunfels to collect my friend Diane Manousos and we went downtown San Antonio to go to Herweck's big annual art sale/product show. I think I showed remarkable restraint. I got some of Ampersand's Claybords as surfaces for oil paintings. They're very smooth, so I'm curious about them. Also a a couple of Pastelbords and Art Spectrum's Colorfix sanded pastel papers. I ordered a package of the color I prefer, too. Pastel pencils, always. And I couldn't resist a case of new synthetic brushes. Short handled, but I do have to admit that I rarely move back to the end of a long-handled brush, anyway. I also got a wooden handheld paint palette and I've been applying several coats of waterbased polyurethane on it, hoping it'll be ready for tomorrow's demo. Diane gave me one of her Rembrandt white oils and I stopped and used her coupon for a new cobalt blue at Hobby Lobby on the way home. I get so excited over new supplies.

I've started a couple of new paintings and moved forward on another. The ballerina might work out for an entry to the portrait show at Coppini in a couple of weeks. The woman on the grass is a commission I'm doing from a black and white photo. May still have to shorten her forshortened legs... The woman and dog is something I've dawdled on, but think will be cute as heck when I'm done.

Mark Your Calendars!

Please come to our SHOW in November!

Three Points of View
Three painters, three ways of looking at the world.
Paintings by
Susan Carlin, Donna Bland and Kim Roberti
All of November 2007 at
Justin’s On Main
2512 N. Main Avenue
San Antonio, Texas

Please Come to the Reception
November 9, 2007
Friday 5:00– 8:30 p.m.

Refreshments, Art
and Scintillating Company

AFTERNOON TEA, 11 x 14 oil still life.

This was such a pleasure to paint. Karen's dishes, a napkin, knife and apple. Love that fat little teapot.

Alamo painting, "Remember", Auctioned at Gala

This is Bill Sartor, the nice man who won the painting I donated to the Daughters of the Republic of Texas for their Gala which was held on Saturday. I got to meet him and his wife, Barbara, before the dinner and the auction and then see them again afterward. I'm so glad the Sartors won. They were so delighted! So was I.

Karen went with me to the Gala and boy, did we sparkle up for the occasion! I teetered around on silly shoes all night and was really glad to step out of them in the car. We had a wonderful dinner, terrific entertainment and got to hear the author of The Gates Of The Alamo speak, and hear the director of the movie The Alamo speak, as well.

I signed posters and talked with a lot of other sparkly people. Good evening all around.

Demo portrait of Steve Talley

Boy, there's nothing that forces you to "stay loose" like too short a time to complete a painting. This is the very loose result of the demonstration for Die Kunstler last night. An hour of talking more than I painted, I'm afraid. Steve's a good looking fellow, so don't hold this portrait against him. He was a very good sport to sit for me last night. Here's a link to his website:

Thanks, Steve!

Two demos this week .... and an award!

This has been a fun week. Two demos, two classes, two awards, and a new commission.
The first demo was set up by one of my students this summer, an art teacher at Brauchle Elementary School. They have an annual "Art Walk" evening where artists of all sorts are invited to come and demonstrate their work. I loved painting and talking with all the great kids and their parents.
The second demo was for Die Kunstler, an art league in Fredericksburg. ('Die Kunstler Von Fredericksburg' means The Artists Of Fredericksburg.) That was tonight. Oh my! Were they fun! Forty-five artists watching me do a quick oil portrait. No pressure. The president, Steve Talley, was gracious enough to sit for me. Nine artists signed up for a portrait workshop with me.... now we just need to find a place to have it!
I called on the way back from Fredericksburg to find I'd won "Second Place Oil" at Coppini with my painting of the little girl holding her dad's hand. That made me feel nice... and bit richer. It's the first oil of mine which has been accepted into a show, so it's nice that it won something.
The portrait commission is from a woman my age here in San Antonio who's having a painting done of herself at 18 in a bathing suit. Lake Michigan in the background. Very sweet, actually. The photo is black and white, but I'm told the suit should be baby blue. That'll be fun.
The DRT Gala is Saturday evening and I still need to buy shoes to go with my outfit. I'll be signing Alamo posters that night. It should be a wonderful evening. I can't wait to see what the painting goes for in the auction!
Sunday I'm volunteering at the River Art Show in La Villita. Last year I had a booth at the show, but this year the Gala prevented participating. I'll just go and help the other artists on Sunday. My friend Mary Shepard has a booth again this year. I love her work.
Nighty night, All.

Print of Alamo painting, "Remember" available

I had really nice 16" x 20" prints made of this painting (on good matte finish cover stock with a lithographic printing process) and will happily send one to you! I'll put a PayPal button on this post for anyone who wants to use their credit card, or you can mail me check. $20. plus $4. shipping. (Mailed in a sturdy tube.)

FYI: This image is of the painting, so you can see the light catching the palette knife strokes in the upper right corner. That isn't visible on the prints, of course.
The figures of the women in the painting are Adina De Zavala and Clara Driscoll, the two most passionate and dedicated of those who managed to save the Alamo. Here are some articles about them. Fascinating!

My Alamo painting on TV

As a portrait artist in San Antonio, this project was a bit off my beaten track, but very rewarding.
This morning the painting of the Alamo I did for the Daughters of the Republic of Texas' 2007 Gala was on KENS TV (CBS) on the local "Great Day S.A." show. Until yesterday I was supposed to have been on the show with the painting and the spokeswoman for DRT, Joan Headley, but they had to shorten the segment to make room for something that had been added to the show. I didn't know whether to feel sad or relieved. The painting looked GREAT on its easel there, though, and Joan said some terrific things about me and the painting, and it was very flattering to be on the same bill as the director of the movie "Alamo" and the author Steven Harrigan, who wrote "The Gates of the Alamo," San Antonio's 'one book, one San Antonio' this year.

My class was last night. Everyone's working on portraiture. I'm so proud of their efforts.
Tonight is the first meeting of the Austin Pastel Society after our summer break. I'm driving up with Sherrie Allyn, another member, and am looking forward to seeing everyone again. Jeannette Cuevas is doing the demonstration tonight. Should be good.
Oh! The daughter who commissioned the painting of her dad, sister and herself came on Tuesday and declared it wonderful. I even got a big hug. So now it dries until Saturday when I'll varnish it. She's going to have prints made for her sister and dad, so she can keep the original.

Possible finish of Dad N' Daughters

I got up at 3 a.m. and worked on this until 7:30 or so. I think it might be done. I've sent the image on to the client and will have a final session with her making any last minute revisions.

Went back to bed at 7:30 and woke again a couple of minutes ago. Today I need to frame the wedding painting in order to enter it in the Coppini Show. I found a great frame on sale at Hobby Lobby yesterday- just right for that painting. I'll try to remember to take a photo later.

Now back to my coffee and taped CBS Sunday Morning.