Another one-hour oil from sitting. 8"x10"

This is Dot Danielson, the organist for the Little Church of La Villita, who sometimes plays for 7 weddings in a day! She had a gap of time between weddings today and I asked if she'd sit for me. Hallelujah! She agreed. I'm not sure how well it turned out, but I had a blast painting Dot. She's 86 and has the figure of a teenager. Grrr. She's all giggles and big heart, too, so I'm always happy when she walks in.

Now I'm looking for a man to paint and maybe a high school aged girl or boy to round out my array of samples. Anybody have a bright idea for packaging for a wet 8 x 10 panel so a tourist could get one home?

A one-hour oil portrait from a sitting. 8" x 10"

As I was getting things set up at the gallery this morning, a woman walked in. I told her how much fun it had been to do the one-hour portrait of Sharon on Thursday and playfully asked if she might sit for one, too. She said yes! Lisa is an attorney, mother of two, here in San Antonio for the wedding of a friend and had some time before she had to be somewhere. So I plunked a chair up on the platform, arranged a light, pulled my easel over, squeezed on some fresh paint and off we went! We chatted with each other and with the various folks who wandered in and out as I worked. We watched the clock and at the hour we stopped. I took some photos and will email them to her, and make her a print for her 'trouble' of sitting for me.

Now I've got Sharon's and Lisa's and want maybe two or three more to frame for samples, then I'll be able to tell people I can paint their portraits in oil and in an hour for $100. The trick I still need to figure out is packing them simply but efficiently so they can take them with them if they want. I'd prefer to ship them once they're dry and varnished.
The rest of my day I'm finishing up some things- varnished 5 paintings, repainted the tail on Pattie Wall's dog, Chaco, and am going to attempt to fix the *%$&@!!! water in the scene of Cafe Ole on the Riverwalk. I appreciate all your suggestions about that, and will try to follow some of them, at least.

Finish of 12 x 16 commissioned oil portrait

This is being shipped tomorrow... still wet... to Oregon to be a graduation gift. Packing will be interesting! At least it will be framed and the frame can be the structure around which the packing will be formed.
A last minute ring change was requested, so a photo of a different ring was emailed this afternoon. I'm very pleased with this painting. It's super tight and smooth, but there are some sweet brushstrokes tucked here and there that I got to leave.
I'll sleep well tonight.

Small portrait from sitting, Larger one from a photo.

Sharon Woody is a student of mine who graciously agreed to sit for a small, 8x10 oil one-hour portrait this morning before starting to work on her own portrait project. For a fast, interrupted-several-times portrait, I'm very pleased with it. I think it might've worked better as a vignette, vs. painted up to the top and down to the bottom.

Wonderful Sharon
The following are some progress images of a commissioned painting I began today. I hope to work all day on it tomorrow and have it finished at the end of the day. Several things need to change, but I'm pleased with the beginning. It's a 12"x16" oil on Yes! stretched canvas. Smooth, wonderful surface.

Pattie and Patty and Stella

Last night I saw Pattie Wall's regular Sunday post where she photographs her feet. It's called "Where I stand Sunday". I loved this week's photo of her feet in flipflops and her trusty dog by her side, waiting at a gate, so I asked if I might use it as a reference for a painting. She gave her permission, so I started off my day painting Pattie's feet. I like it. I wonder about so much blue shadow, but I like it.

Then I decided to paint my sister Patty and her daughter, Stella. I took this photo on their back porch Saturday night after dinner. I imagine Patty will get this one. It was fun to do.

Blog Workshop was wonderful!

Twelve wonderful artists spent the day with me, taking notes, asking questions, adding terrific asides and making plans for their own blogs. Three or four already have theirs started and want to really use them well. Most were starting from scratch, but I could see the wheels a-turning in their minds about their blogs-to-be. It's hard to believe we actually finished at 3:30, since there was so much to cover. I think there was the slight scent in the air of overcooked cerebrum toward the last. I can't wait to see the baby blogs as they emerge!

The artists who attended were: Sherrie Allyn, Donna Bland, Ann Seago, Marilyn Moore, Chris Armes, Beckah Krahula, Brigitte Tuttle, Jay Lauver, Bonnie Mann Eddleton, Susan Raine, Judy Korge and Mary Shepard. I was showing them the little video camera- Flip Video- that I used for the videos on my blog and just turned it on and swung it around toward their faces. Everyone went suddenly silent except Mary, who was the grande finale of the 14 seconds it was recording. Love that Mary.

Thank you all for making this such a great day!

"Jazz Man"

Click here to bid
"Jazz Man"
Oil on gessoed panel (Gessobord), 6" x 6".
Varnished and signed. Signed with gold paint pen.
This fellow plays at Jim Cullum's Landing on the Riverwalk in San Antonio and I took some reference photos of him on a stroll recently. I was playing around with my new Flip video camera soon after that and decided to record the process of painting this one. The video is on here on my blog on the May 6 posts, if you'd like to watch it.
This is my first painting on eBay in two and a half years! It's scheduled to go on this evening at 9 p.m. Pacific Time.
Click here to view listing

A finish... and another finish.

I think the bit of decoration on the umbrella helped. I fiddled with her nose and the background a bit, too. Oil on panel 6" x 6"

I had to make up the duck on this one. All the images I had were the backs of ducks. Hope this feels plausible. Oil on panel 6" x 6"

Not quite finished- New Umbrella

While Karen and I were out walking along the Riverwalk last Friday, we came up to street level from the Hyatt's great waterfall walkway and this woman was playing with her new umbrella/parasol, sitting on a planter's edge in direct line with the Alamo behind her. I pulled out my camera and snapped a couple of photos. So this painting is from one of those references. I think I'll have to develop the umbrella a bit more to balance more with the detail in the woman's face, but I do like how it's developing.
A couple from Magnolia, Texas, northwest of Houston, came in this afternoon and decided to take the cowboy paintings home with them. They were still wet, but I put them in gold frames and then faced the frames toward each other and bubblewrapped them tightly, so nothing could touch the surfaces of the paintings. They said the cowboy looked like a relative of theirs named Bubba. Love that, don't you?
I'm off tomorrow and will spend the time finishing up my 'handouts' to send to the Blog Workshop for Artists participants. I'm getting excited to show folks how to have all the fun I'm having with their own blogs. I'm also working on creating an online blog workshop for those who can't get away when and where I do an in-person one. I honestly think that having the blog is the single most effective thing I've done to show folks my work. I've had a website for years, but as everyone knows, it's more difficult to update and it's certainly not interactive as a blog is. Anyway, I probably won't post anything tomorrow unless I just have a compelling thought to share.
Happy painting, ya'll!

Jazz Players at Jim Cullum's on the Riverwalk

Some of you may know the Jim Cullum Jazz Band from National Public Radio. It broadcasts from the Riverwalk here in San Antonio. I was walking with Karen after work the other night and took some photos of these fellows as we passed by and painted them today. The sax player is the one I painted with the blue hat a couple of weeks ago from a different photo.
This is an oil on gessobord, 6" x 6". While I was painting it, I got to have several magical conversations with people who walked in the gallery. The woman of one couple may be a distant cousin of mine- her mother's maiden name was Carlin and hailed from the same part of the country my Carlins are from. I had several other coincidental connections with them, too.
I love my work! (You've probably figured that out already, right?)

Another Cowboy- "When She Walked In" 6"x6"

Well, I had just enough time to try to paint another from the cowboy photos.
This one was just as fun. And the benefit to painting a character... if you paint his face a wee bit longer than it is... who cares? Kind of added to the character, I think.
Ok, it's ten minutes past closing time... guess I'd better close....

Cowboy 6"x6"

This fellow was the model for C. Michael Dudash yesterday at the Coppini Academy here in San Antonio for a demonstration he did for the monthly meeting. I snapped some photos from various angles and thought I'd try a small oil from them today. This portrait was super fun to do and makes me want to go out looking for great faces to paint. I've been waiting for other people to initiate the portrait painting process for me lately in the form of commissions. I'll enjoy leading the way some of the time with seeking out the faces and people I want to paint. The times I've done that have been very satisfying.

I'm going to go through the process of adding a PayPal button here so I'll have it fresh in my mind for the blog workshop participants this Saturday. $90. includes shipping. - May 20: painting sold at gallery, so am removing PayPal button.

Second Riverwalk painting 11 x 14

Riverwalk's Cafe Ole in San Antonio Ok, I may have to stick to portraits. I did enjoy the Cafe Ole part, but the water ate my lunch. And the trees. What should I have done? Can this be fixed? It seems to be jumbled and a mish mosh of colors, which is what the reference photo is, of course. Simplify? I would someday like to feel as though any subject matter is possible for me to paint. Feeling shut out of landscapes by my as-yet-inadequate methods is frustrating. I wondered whether to post this, but truth is truth and maybe someone has advice for me that will penetrate the fog around my head on this subject.

Better version of Riverwalk

Ok, well, I fiddled a bit more on this and like it better now.
I wonder about the values being a bit too contrasty on the boat, but you have to stop somewhere and here's the place I'm stopping.

Small Riverwalk painting

This is a 6" x 8" oil on canvas panel that I thought I finished..... and now that it's a small photo on my monitor, I see that I still have a few things to change. The walking man's calf is too pasty and the tree too prominant, and the blue railing sloping. Drat! I've already spent maybe 5 hours on this painting so there's no way to get my time back out of it unless I make prints. Am I the only one who thinks like that? I'll go ahead and push publish and then see what I can do to improve the oddities and will post it again later. My dad took the reference photo when he was visiting. I took a couple of boats out and moved the walking couple further back into the painting. I'll post the photo with the improved version in a bit.


Listed on eBay- Go HERE to see listing.

This was a fun little painting to do. 6x6 on gessobord. The polka-dots were a bit of a challenge, but I like how they look now. I'm working on a 6x8 on canvas panel of the Riverwalk. Talk about challenge! I'm way out of my comfort zone. I'll let you know how I manage.

The Artist Formerly Known as Dr. Carlin

I've been a chiropractor for 22 years. And this month I ended my practice in favor of a life of (and a living made by) painting. I feel some sort of need to publicly acknowledge the transition I'm undergoing, and this blog is my "public." So, let me try to tell you what's happening.
Committed artist at 12
I decided to be a portrait artist when I was twelve when I met two men making their livings painting portraits. That told me that the well-meant 'wisdom' asserting that one could NOT make a living as an artist was hooey. I began practicing drawing faces from photographs and from life and by age 14 or 15 I could get a reliable likeness each time I drew someone's face. But I didn't know I was ready to rely on that skill for my living at the end of high school. So, circumstances being limited, I joined the Army. Not good. Not good for me, anyway. But as awful experiences often hold gifts in their horrible hands, I did start doing portrait sketches in the officers' clubs and enlisted men's clubs in Frankfurt, West Germany while I was stationed there.

97th General Hospital, and Officer's Club, Frankfurt, W. Germany

Within a couple of weeks I realized I was making more drawing faces than by working for the Army. I got out and moved to Santa Cruz, California and got a contract with the military to provide pastel portraits at the PXs at Ft. Ord in Monterey and at the Presidio in San Francisco. I did that for about six months and then stepped away from the military altogether. For 10 years I made my living painting pastel portraits in malls from Thanksgiving to Christmas and then, later, I added summers in resort towns to my year. Eureka Springs, AR for two summers, Estes Park, CO for one, and three summers on Cape Cod in Provincetown, MA.

That's where I derailed. I'd had my daughter by then and couldn't figure out how do portraiture any other way than the way I'd always done it: in public from sittings for long hours in concentrated seasons. I went home to Kansas City from Ptown the end of the summer of 1982 and fell in with a persuasive group of chiropractic student friends who felt sure I should become one of them. Don't we always want our friends to be just like us? I protested that I wasn't that kind of smart, but they disagreed and before I knew it, I'd enrolled. Like chiropractic school wasn't the most grueling experience possible for a mother of a baby! But pretty soon I discovered I was that kind of smart and came out on the other end of those years a doctor. I sold my house in K.C. and moved to San Antonio to escape harsh winters, then opened my practice.

Behind the scenes, even in school, I did portraits when people discovered I could paint. In San Antonio, in 199o, I submitted the winning design for the official Fiesta poster and enjoyed a little flash of local fame.
But I was isolated as an artist. I'd never joined an art group of any sort and so my art and my skill progression languished in the shadow of making my living in another way. I can't explain it fully, but in 2002 I started to 'wake up' and remember who I was at my very core. A patient, a new pastel painter, invited me to drive up to Austin with her for a meeting of the
OH. MY. GOD. My people were there! People who could speak Pastel and Art and Portrait! Since that time I've driven that 70+ miles to Austin monthly to go to meetings and be with my people. I'd discovered the magic and motivation of OTHER ARTISTS!
I joined other groups, I started demonstrating at some of them, when asked. I began giving workshops. I taught classes. I took some workshops given by the jurors of our annual exhibitions. I won awards. Omigosh, that is heady stuff! I traveled to Raleigh for the Int'l Assoc. of Pastel Societies' biannual convention. I traveled to Boston for the Portrait Society of America's annual convention. In 2005, I taught myself to paint in oils by painting 5 paintings a week for that year. I sold most of them on eBay and by the end of the year I felt a lot more confident with oils as well as my beloved pastels. I was immersed in the life I'd always dreamed, but hadn't thought really existed.

But I was still treating patients. Now, I love them. Some I've treated for over 20 years and have watched their children grow up and become patients. They became friends. But I knew my new life was outshining my old life. And when I was sure my art sales were able to support me, I submitted a proposal to the city for a small gallery space in La Villita, the Historic Arts District in downtown San Antonio right by the Riverwalk. And in November I found out my proposal had been accepted! Susan Carlin Art Studio and Gallery has been open since the beginning of February this year.

Until a couple of weeks ago, I'd been trying to see patients on my day off, one day a week. I was completely insane. I had to finally let go of my ties to my old life and start having those conversations with people that begin, "I'm so sorry, I'm not treating patients any longer. You see, I'm an artist..." It's been hard letting go. I've been responsible for these people for so long. But there are other chiropractors (right?) and I've earned my artist life again. (Right??)
Hard or not, I've closed that door.
Now, in the Gallery, I can't tell you how many people come in and get this wistful, longing look in their eyes and mention, sadly, that they "used to do art," "used to paint before I had kids," or something similar. It seems that part of my new life is to be a voice of encouragement, a beacon for the artists who've been interrupted. I was interrupted. I take full responsibility for that now. Not everyone who claims their artist self (for the first time or after a long time) has to make a living at it to be a "real" artist. They just have to do some art. Whatever that is. Music, arranging furniture, putting food on a plate in a beautiful way, writing, drawing, painting, crafting, knitting, singing.....
When you "do art" you are an artist. And your soul smiles. My soul is smiling.
At least, that's the way I see it. What do you think?

Small figure painting, "Samantha"

This is a 5x7 painting I set out to complete quickly yesterday. Ha! First of all, painting landscapes or florals or vegetation in any of its forms is still a bit foreign to me. Add to that the starting and stopping due to several visitors and phone calls while I painted. I must've spent two hours on this.

I found the photo reference on Angela Fehr's Painting Simplicity blog and boldly (ok, timidly) asked if I might be allowed to use it for a painting reference. Angela graciously agreed. Thank you, Angela! The only real change to the reference I made was painting a picket gate instead of a chain link one.

Today I took my laptop and projector to Coppini Academy and tested out the wireless connection and the lighting for the projector. All works great. I'm getting excited about the blog workshop coming up- two weeks from today!

Finish of fellow with pipe

I'm pleased with my finish on this painting, an 11"x 14" oil on stretched canvas. I had said something on Tuesday about perhaps keeping this version and painting another for the client who might prefer a tighter/smoother rendition. What I realized today, AGAIN, is that I didn't need to keep the painting-I had the experience and the breakthrough. My finish here is a blend of both- some of the pure strokes left alone, some tamed to a previous standard.
I had to return the composition closer to the original photo references- with the light coming over his shoulder on the viewer's right. Dark there didn't make sense with the light on his face. I also replaced his hand with one from another reference and kept some foreshortening with it.
I got to meet this man and his wife, visitors to the gallery on their trip to San Antonio a few days ago, and have exchanged a few emails with him in the preparation for this painting. I think the "feel" is right now. He's a physics professor with a quick, lively mind, and very, very observant. I love that he was concerned that I show his wedding ring. I hope he'll be pleased.

Art Collecting...A benefit of blogging

The paintings in my house used to be all ones I painted myself. Ok, well, maybe they still are.... mostly. But I've discovered another benefit to blogging- Exposure to great art. Completely affordable art. Art that is made by artists you get to know. Art that shows up in your mailbox and makes your whole day happy when you see it on your wall. Wonderful!

In the last few weeks I've become the proud recipient of four beautiful paintings. All small. Each a jewel. Let me introduce you to the paintings and the artists who made them:

Carol Marine painted this as a demo at the great workshop she did in March in Round Rock, TX, and I got to watch:

Luscious. It's a 6" x 6" oil on canvas panel. Go check out her wonderful small, daily paintings HERE, but come back when you're done. I have more to show you!

This is (I'm not kidding you) a 2" x 2" oil on paper by Sarah Sedwick. Stunning. By some trick of fate I got to be her first buyer of her small, daily paintings. Go see her work HERE, but do come back, there's more!

Kathryn Law painted this in oil on a 6"x 6" stretched, gallery-wrapped canvas just days before she found out she's getting to move to Italy to paint. My heart rate zoomed when I saw it. You can go see her work HERE. Again, come back! The painting arrived today, packed oh-so-well, and it went right up in my dining room. Beautiful! (No, I didn't paint the one of the back of the girl's head. Karen's mother painted that as her self portrait. Cool, yes?)

This is a cool pastel painting (4" x 5") of a cropped-in-close Weimaraner's face. You can go HERE to see her work. I got to meet Pattie at Carol Marine's workshop in March. She's a fun and versatile artist in Kansas.

Now, I'll bet if you follow a few links on a few artists' blogs, you'll find something you'll want to see every day in your home or your office or to give a good friend. Some artists will have a link to their eBay auction, or a handy PayPal button for an easy transaction , but most artists will appreciate you asking "Is it for sale? How much?" either through the email link on their profile or by leaving the question in a comment. I don't know any artist who isn't thrilled that someone sees value in the work they do.

A Finish and a Start

I saved a little time at the end of my day to give this painting some last touches. Didn't want to overwork it, and that's so easy for me to do... I'm happy with it.

I started this 11x14 oil on stretched canvas today and was so pleased with the fact that (so far) I've left the brushstrokes alone and the colors cleaner. The yellow seems to be emphasized in this photo (on my monitor, anyway) when it's not so dominate in reality. I may keep this version for myself and paint the portrait again for the client, who may prefer my more usual tighter style.

30 Minute Painting of Riverwalk Saxophone Player

I'm starting a new commission today, but I'll try to leave some time to finish this little painting, too, and will post it tonight.

New video... still cooking..

Well, I'll post the video here when it's done.

I'm trying to post an entry each day this month.... a small challenge I've given myself... and I made a 30 minute painting video today, called (oddly enough) 30 Minute Oil Painting, that I'm attempting to process at Google Video. It seems a bit hung up somewhere in the process. Let me tell you it was a small idea that has taken over the remainder of my day and evening. Thirty minutes of painting and 4-5 hours of work at the computer. Hmmm. Of course, it would help if I knew what I was doing. The painting isn't done, but it's as much as I could do in the time I allotted myself. Someone might want to see the video, so I'm posting it, but you won't hurt my feelings if you skip it. If you do watch it, know that you'll probably have to turn your sound up all the way to hear what I'm saying. There are all sorts of odd noises are in the background, too, since I was at the gallery and the door was wide open.
I'm looking forward to finishing up the painting tomorrow.

Sunday, May 4th

Today was a sweet Sunday full of ordinary pleasures with my little family. Although I didn't paint today, my mind was busy with art-related things.

Karen and I drove to Austin to pick up three of my paintings from the APS exhibition this year, and was introduced to a member I hadn't met before who plans the program for the Central Texas Pastel Society. She asked if I might demonstrate for their group this year sometime. Being asked to demo always feels good and I'm already planning out in my mind what I'll do for them.

On the way up and back I did some brainstorming on the Blog Workshop I'm giving on the 24th and also the one I'm planning to offer online to those for whom time and distance would prevent them from coming. I'm going to learn so much in the process of packaging the information for others!

Have a good week, ya'll!

Tabby oil painting on 5"x7" canvas panel

I painted this right at the end of my day today. The backlighting was in an interesting pattern, I thought, skimming across the hair between the ears like that, and I liked the way the light lit up the ears all pink, too. I also sold two small paintings I did in the Marine/Jurick workshop in March. All in all, a satisfying way to wind up the week. Tomorrow I go to Austin to pick up the three paintings I had in the Austin Pastel Society Exhibition. It's always good to see the other APS members. Even picking up paintings feels like a party with those folks.
The band we saw last night was The Belleville Outfit. Great fun Texas Swing done by six musicians who look about 14 years old. Have a good Saturday evening, ya'll!

Small Landscape, Palm Trees and Magic

Ok. I was answering an email at the gallery. Out of the corner of my eye I caught a news item on Live Messenger Today- "Woman lies under dead husband for days." Huh? So I had to click on it, right? Wouldn't you? I mean, really. So, it's one of those video news stories. Groan. I wait through an advertisement for insurance and up pops this farmhouse and the voice over telling the story. But something visceral happens when I see the farmhouse. I hit Ctrl Prt Scrn and then paste it into Paint in my Accessories. I cut the farmhouse image out of the whole news page and paste it onto a new blank image. I go back to the video and when it pans to the right I repeat the process to get the far right of the image and then cut and paste the two together. The narrator shows the man who got the woman out from under her husband, saving her life. No explanation as to why she couldn't get out herself. Leaves one to wonder.
So I have this farmhouse photo and wonder what I'm supposed to do with THAT. I thought about the exercise Carol Marine had us do in her workshop six weeks ago.... set a time limit and paint quickly. Of course her exercise involved one object in burnt umber, but I set a limit of thirty minutes to paint this 5x7 canvas panel, and then told myself "GO!" In walks one couple, the woman introduces herself as an artist so I'm painting and talking as fast as I can, I stop and print my workshop information off for her, then jump back in front of the easel and continue. They leave and in walks another couple, fun and conversational as all get out.... and I chat and paint, chat and paint and keep looking at my watch and then "TIME'S UP!" I grabbed a curtain hook and scratched my signature in the wet paint and take some photos. Here's the painting. I kind of like it.
My day started off great. I visited some of my favorite blogs and got hit in the face with a painting of palm trees by Kathryn Law that so wowed me that I posted a comment and asked if the painting might be for sale. She wrote back with yes and the amount and within moments and via PayPal I became the excited owner of a still wet painting in Kathryn's studio. Only then did I go back and read what she'd written about the trees... that they were an example of bending and not breaking. Life is so good.
Otherwise, I did computer chores and talked with really cool people visiting the gallery today. Karen had packed me a fabulous lunch and I really HEARD some of the songs on my iPod today that were just background music before. Some days are pure magic. On the way home I narrowly escaped getting creamed by a driver who pulled out in front of me from the right lane, sending me skidding way out onto the shoulder of the fast lane at high speed. I arrived home a little shaky, but my little family put it all right again in moments. I heard a fun band play on our local college radio station on the way home and it was announced they were playing at a place in our neck of San Antonio tonight, so we're going to go hear some music and tap our feet and maybe sing along.
Happy Friday everyone!