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!