Pastel portrait broadcast at 5 p.m. tonight

All the Christmas commissions have arrived at their destinations and I'm taking a bit of time to work on something for myself. Above is an about-midway-through progress image of what's on the easel now. I'm calling it Corner Chair as a working title, but a friend has suggested Not Schmid in case anyone were to confuse the model for the famous and amazing artist Richard Schmid, who also wears a Greek fisherman's cap. It has many days of painting to go, but perhaps you can get the idea of it from this shot. If it turns out well enough, I hope to enter it into a competition. I've been doing most of the work online, so there are hours and hours of recordings of it getting to this point at .

Tonight at 5 p.m. Texas/Central time, I'm breaking from working on Corner Chair to begin a commissioned pastel portrait of a beautiful little girl. Perhaps you'd like to drop in at the above link and watch or log in and chat? It's not polite to brag, but the nicest people come hang out with me. It's a party every time I paint! Hope you'll join me.

Winding up 2009 and Looking forward to 2010

I hope you're enjoying the holiday. As you might guess, mine is being full of painting, as well as family and friends and feasting. Heaven!

This is the portrait I did for the portrait exchange on the Different Strokes From Different Strokes blog. The lovely woman is Marilyn King, who also painted my portrait. My colors in this photo seem wonky compared to the original, but close enough, I think. If you'd like to see the broadcast recordings of me painting this portrait, you can go here for Part 1, and here for Part 2.

I raise my portrait prices at the beginning of each year, but always honor the current price if a deposit is placed before the end of the year. If you were thinking you might want a portrait this year, let me know and we'll arrange a deposit to hold this year's prices.

As the new year approaches and you start to think of your New Year's resolutions, or ways you'd like to tune your life a bit closer to your heart's desires, I send my encouragement to live your dreams. The world will be a better place for you and for all of us if you do, I'm certain!

Holiday commissions complete

I finally completed this 10"x8" oil of Kyra above. The reference photo had been taken by a cell phone of her still in the hospital after being born prematurely.

The portraits below were 10"x8" oil commissions I didn't think I'd have time to do before Christmas, but worked many, many hours online and off this week to complete. If all goes well with the drying and the varnish and the post office, the family will have them in time for the big day.

Each of these young people are so beautiful, I know their parents must be proud.

Now I'll be turning my attention to a couple of paintings I hope to enter into competition. I'll let you know how that's going in my next post.

I wish you the happiest of holidays, full of comfort and joy and love.

Latest portraits

I've been busy and loving every minute...

I really enjoyed painting this 12"x12" oil portrait of Ike and Kirby, adorable Jack Russells.

George Davis, 20" x 16" oil. This is the portrait I only had a black and white reference photo to work from. I'm pleased with the outcome.
Next up on my easel are four 8" x 10" oils, portraits of four children, the youngest 17 years old. I'm not sure I'll be able to get them done before Christmas, but I'll give it a good try.
After that, on my portrait schedule, is a 20" x 16" pastel of a beautiful little girl, then a 20" x 24" oil- an epic painting of two boys on the shore of a lake in autumn, Notre Dame is across the lake reflecting in the water, ducks swimming on the surface... quite a project.
Somewhere in there I want to work on a painting or two for myself- to enter into a couple of competitions this next year.
I hope you're enjoying your woolly sweaters and earmuffs and the scent of wood fires in the air. Even here in San Antonio we've begun bundling up. Saturday evening we played tourist and took a boat ride on the Riverwalk. The lights were wonderful and we loved the wry and witty commentary by our guide. The other riders appreciated the big blanket we shared with them. Cuddle up! Share a little spiced cider or eggnog with your favorite people. We're on the eve of new beginnings. Have a warm holiday!

Precious memories and an exciting future

I promised to send the finished (tiny) portrait of Nanny, since I'd included an image of it in progress. This is a 5" x 7" oil that is shipping out today in time for Christmas. Doesn't she have a kind, sweet face?

Below is a series of progress images of a 16" x 20" oil that I'm painting from a black and white reference photo. I'm only a couple of hours in on this one, but thought I'd show you what I see as I go along...

Along with an image of this painting finished, I'll send you an image of the two cute Jack Russells I'm finishing up right now. Both are giving me a steady, expectant gaze from the canvas...

I can hardly believe it, but my house is decked out for Christmas already and it's helped to put me in the holiday spirit in a big, big way. It's working to alleviate some of my shock at finding myself the mother of someone having her 28th birthday next Monday. I was 26 when she was born. The years are flying by and I'm SO grateful to be spending these current ones painting and learning to paint ever better.
Whatever it is that makes you feel alive and engaged and excited to get started... that's what I wish for you this Season.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Since I decided to return to being a professional artist, my gratitude list has grown longer and more enthusiastic. I'm living my dream of painting for my living, which is bounty enough, but I enjoy such a wonderful network of people interested in what I paint -some are other artists, some are friends, many are people who've visited my gallery- I'm thankful beyond explanation for the feeling of connection I have now. As a doctor, I often felt isolated, so I appreciate each reply to my newsletters and I dearly love those wonderful people who come chat with me while I'm painting online. Thank you for letting me share what I paint with you.

Angela and Aurora, oil, 24" x 18"

This is the start of a tiny oil portrait- 7" x 5"- that I got to do yesterday during my Wednesday broadcast, with the family who commissioned the painting in the chat room, talking about the impact the subject had on their lives. I really enjoyed the session. I'll be sure to send an image of the finished portrait when it's completed.
La Villita, where my gallery is located, is having its holiday open house on Saturday, November 28th. I'll be in the Gallery and hope you'll come by to visit and have some refreshments. The annual lighting of the Riverwalk is Friday, November 27th. It's magical to see the Riverwalk all glittery with lights for the holiday season!
If you're near San Antonio December 3rd, you're invited to attend the San Antonio Art League and Museum Gala, 6-10 p.m. FREE to attend. There will be live music and appetizers and hors d'oeuvres and lots of great paintings!
I'm one of 144 artists who donated a 12" x 12" painting (mine is a cowboy's profile) to the silent auction.
San Antonio Downtown Market Square Hotel
(formerly The Radisson next to UT Downtown)
As you can imagine, I'm busy painting portraits that will be gifts for Christmas, all of them honoring and celebrating someone special. Oh, I love my work!
I hope your Thanksgiving was filled with family, friends and much love.

Big smiles and and a tender moment

Angela and Kristy, oil, 11x14 Smiling cousins. It's still on my easel and still wet, but it's close to finished so I thought I'd show you. I painted much of it online yesterday... hours and hours online. Thank you to the sweet folks who kept me company.
These are the artists in my Marble Falls portrait workshop last week. Enthusiastic and hard working, they also kept me laughing and wishing I lived closer to Marble Falls. Thanks, Ya'll!

Midnight Wedding Aboard Ship, 14x11, oil
The way the man in this portrait looked at the painting when he came to the studio to pick it up was equal to getting Best of Show at a prestigious competition. Better. It was a difficult painting to do and from a frankly terrible reference. I struggled and maybe even cursed a few times. Pretty sure I did. But the client's happiness with it made it all worthwhile.
For the remainder of the days before Christmas, I will be glued to my easel working on the several commissions I've promised to be done by then. Except when I'm at dance lessons. I'm a little dangerous on the dance floor yet, but it's so much fun! Old dog. New trick.
Go have some fun today!

Himalayan Kitty and progress on Angela

Maxxy, oil, 14 x 11
This was a fun commission. The client who commissioned it tuned in to watch the finishing touches during my broadcast yesterday and sent this email today:
Morning, Susan thank you so much for yesterday…. I smiled the whole time that I was watching you paint Max…. He’s is perfect, I could be happier ….. I am so glad that I found you!!
Words like those mean the world to me. I love my work.

I worked another few hours on this commission yesterday, also. So much yet to do, so much to change... Portraits are like intricate puzzles where you have to craft each piece yourself. It's challenging and exasperating... and thrilling when you finally get all the pieces to fit. (The background is undetermined yet, so I've covered the white of the canvas with blue and green just as a placeholder.)

Double Vision and Progress

Yesterday these two handsome people walked in and it took me five whole seconds to figure out how I knew them - I'd painted them last year! Here they're standing with the giclee print I had made of their portrait. The larger original was commissioned by Fairmont State University in West Virginia where Dr. Daniel Bradley had been president. He is now president of Indiana State University. Cheri Bradley was the first president's wife to be painted in the official portrait for that university. The Bradleys are a team and preferred that way of being portrayed. Cool, yes?
I painted online last night and made a little progress on the portrait of Angela and Aurora. In case you wonder, I love every part of the process of painting a portrait. Each piece of the puzzle that I get right is a little thrill. And last night I had the additional thrill of getting to talk with those who came to watch the broadcast, and with a friend who was in the studio with me.
I'm completely spoiled now.

Workshops and starting a commission

Last week was chock full: One four-week Painting Workshop had its last session on Monday, the Langley dedication was on Wednesday, and I had a two-day Portrait Workshop on Friday and Saturday. I'm glad not all weeks are so busy, but I did love every minute!
I completely forgot to get a photo of the ten wonderful artists who impressed me greatly with their brave work in the four-week workshop, but let me tell you- Peggy M, Marilyn, Glenda, Dolly, Lorelei and Rhoni drove down from Marble Falls, worked their tushies off and drove that long drive back each Monday. Peggy M, Ruby, Pam, Mary and Gaye didn't have so far to drive, but worked just as hard. I was honored to have each of them in the workshop.

I did manage to get a photo (above) of the Portrait Workshop artists: L-R: Pam, Shelley, Motoe, Nancy, Janet (me) and Sherrie- in New Braunfels, TX. The young blonde woman in the middle is my niece Stella who modeled on the second day. I came away with such respect for how hard these artists worked and for their passion to learn.
This was my demo for the painting workshop- Attempting to show thinking and painting in three main values as a way to begin each painting.
Yesterday, Monday, in a huge rainstorm, three artists still showed up for their first session of a four week workshop. They each pushed themselves past their comfort zones and we were all shocked when it was time to go. I love my work.
There's still room in the two day Portrait Workshop in Marble Falls (just west of Austin) November 3-4, in case you're ready to move your portrait skills forward and have a ton of fun at the same time- contact me for more info.
Angela and Aurora, 24"x18"
Today I began this portrait commission online. I had good company while I painted. It has a long way to go, but I already love the happy feeling it has.
Whatever it is you love to do, I hope you got a good healthy dose of it this week!

Langley Elementary School Dedication

Well, it was marvelous. Last night was the dedication of the new school that was named after Ralph Langley, the subject of the mural painting I finished recently. As I walked in the main entrance of the school, the mural hung facing me above the corridor directly opposite. In other words, you can't miss it! The original oil painting is two feet by 4 feet, and was presented at a luncheon yesterday to the law firm founded by Mr. Langley.
It was borrowed back briefly for the dedication last night, and brought on stage by two adorable children. I was invited up to be introduced as the artist responsible for the mural at the entrance to the school. Very nice.
The whole program was quite moving. It was a loving memorial to Mr Langley who died six years ago but who has left a lasting legacy here in San Antonio.
His daughter, Janis, was the spokesperson for her family at the luncheon and at the dedication, and is responsible for commissioning me to do the painting. I wrote her a thank you this morning and this was part of her reply:
I can't tell you how thrilled we are with your work, at every level. The design was way beyond what I expected (I don't know what I expected, really) but the notion of the print was true brilliance.
I hope and bet you will get further work from this- comments were made by NISD that this sets a new level for these "murals," so wouldn't that be great?
Thanks so much for being part of this effort, going above and beyond just doing a painting!
With deep appreciation,
Those are the kind of words that can keep an artist painting, don't you agree?
I had to document this... me dressed in something other than rumpled, paint-spattered clothes! My fabulous artist friend Laura Jeanne Pitts made the gorgeous jacket I'm wearing. I felt like a million bucks last night.
Now it's time to continue work on my lengthening schedule of commissioned portraits and also try to tuck in a competition painting or two along the way. Thank you to everyone who wished me well and kept me company as I painted the Ralph Langley mural painting!

Langley mural painting finished and other news.

If you check in on my blog or watch my broadcasts, you know that I've been working on this 24" x 48" painting for weeks. Today I finally signed it and got it to the photographer. Ralph Langley's name will be added to the image along the bottom and it will be enlarged to 48" x 96" , framed and hung at the new elementary school that has been named after Mr. Langley. The dedication ceremony and unveiling will be on October 21st. The original painting (without the digitally added name) will be hung at Langley & Banack, the law firm that he founded. I was honored to have been commissioned to make this painting, showing many of the elements of his life and parts of San Antonio that were improved because of his work.
Tonight, during my regular Wednesday evening broadcast at 6 p.m. Central, I'm starting a new, small painting of a very new child- a girl, two weeks old. Perhaps you'll come by?
I've decided to connect my blog posts to my newsletter again, so you'll be getting more frequent emails with my newest work, news of my workshops, and, well, news! I look forward to being in better touch.

Another demo portrait finish- Marilyn

After working on the mural online last night, I had the urge to keep painting so I worked on this one of Marilyn. Boy, my drawing was off! This feels better.
I know I mention it frequently, but I feel so lucky to have the company of the artists who show up during my broadcasts. It's such a mutually supportive, congenial group. Then you add Marilyn Harman and Mark Bridges and we laugh the whole time. Thank you all!
You can watch the recording here. (I forgot to put my mic back on at first, so hang in there, the sound gets better once I'm reminded to put it back on.

Finish of Ron Watkins demo painting

Late last night I realized I was still in the mood to paint, so I started a broadcast (I didn't record it, sorry) and finished this demo painting up. It's one I started at the New Braunfels Art League last Tuesday. There's some shine on the photo in the hair and on his cheek, but you get the idea... I enjoyed using this color combination- purple, blue and orange-- zing!

Coppini demo- Marilyn's portrait start

Marilyn Moore is a wonderful artist who works mainly in watercolor, but paints beautifully in oil, too. She's also a generous friend who modeled for me at the demo that I did at the Coppini Academy yesterday. I worked on it about an hour, but spent so much time talking, I didn't get very far. It's a start, but it's going to require some serious reworking. I took some photos of her so I can finish later. I'll post an image of the completed painting when I get back to it. Thanks, Marilyn!

We made the paper!

Grampy and Kaiden, oil 11x14, commissioned 2008
Yesterday, an article about La Villita, including a nice mention of my gallery was in our local paper, the San Antonio Express News. The writer mentioned the other artists in the gallery- Bonnie Mann, Marilyn Moore and Patty Cooper, and me, and included a photo of one of my paintings (above) and my website and email address in the sidebar. Cool, yes? Check it out!

Marble Falls Drawing Demonstration

My friend Gaye Sekula drove up to Marble Falls with me today for the drawing demo I did for the wonderful Highland Arts Guild. So, of course, she was drafted to be the model for a quick sketch I did at the very end. Thanks, Gaye!

I projected the image of a cowboy in black and white from my computer and showed how to find and compare reference points on the subject in order to be sure of the accuracy of a drawing, and how to use guide lines and grid overlays to check one's work.
I was asked smart questions and really enjoyed talking with the members of the Guild. After the demo they had a tasty lunch for us and time to chat. While I was there, the idea of a workshop in November was brought up, and it was quickly filled to capacity. I'm looking forward to more time with these fun artists!

Demo start and Mural painting start

Last night I demo'd for the wonderful artists at New Braunfels Art League and Ron Watkins volunteered to be my model. Ron is an excellent portrait painter, both in oil and pastel, and sat sweetly still throughout my flailing about while painting and answering questions. I didn't get very far along on his portrait, but I did take a couple of photos and will try to finish it up before the end of the year.

The mural painting got underway during an online broadcast Monday evening. I'm going to continue working on it this evening during another broadcast, in case you want to join the fun gang of artists and well-wishers who keep me and each other company. Tonight at 6 p.m.

Um, I'm experimenting with speeding the drying time of an oil painting by putting it in the oven. I had it at about 150 degrees. The house got a little fumey so I've turned it off and have left it in there. Am I nuts? Has anyone else done this? I know Kathryn Stats has said she has put her paintings in a hot car to speed the drying. Last night I mixed some fancy painting medium I bought from the Windbergs into my white paint before the demo- it's supposed to speed drying. I've been so impatient lately with how long white takes to dry. Anybody have advice for me?

Self portrait

Last night my sister and I were watching a video sent to me by Lindsay in Australia- Forger's Masterclass- in which a convicted art forger shows three artists how to create paintings in the manner of one of the masters. We watched the episode about Van Gogh where the artists were asked to do self portraits using mirrors, then I proposed that we try painting ourselves that way, too. Patty was able to stay and paint for two hours, but I couldn't stop, so I painted about 4 and a half hours last night and another hour or so this morning. I can't claim it has any resemblance to one of Vincent's, but I really liked using the broken strokes of color. It felt a bit like doing a pastel painting. In order to get going without too much delay, I accepted the lighting in my computer room as it was. It was a challenge, for sure.

Stella and Ziggy - progress

Couldn't help myself....

I took this photo at night under fluorescent lights, so it's just a bit skewed toward blue, but it's close enough. Loved looking at these two faces today.

Stella and Ziggy - a start

Stella and Ziggy, oil on 12"x12" canvas panel
Again I offered up three reference possibilites to the viewers of the broadcast who were there as I started, and they chose one of my niece Stella and their dog Ziggy, over a still life of flowers and fruit and a landscape of one of San Antonio's missions- Mission Espada.
My objective while I painted was to get an accurate drawing (with thinned burnt umber), then cover the white of the canvas with as close to the correct values and reasonably close to the colors of my reference. It took about two and a half hours to get this far. I like the simply-painted, poster-like shapes and can envision a version of this painting that wouldn't stray too far from this look. But I want to play in the paint a bit more and try using much thicker, barely mixed paint.
My three paintings-in-progress: the red boat, Stella and Ziggy, and John Pototschnik- may have to wait until I've gotten a good handle on the mural I'm beginning today. Actually, I'll be painting a 24" x 48" canvas, the image of which will be photographically enlarged and installed as a mural at a new elementary school that bears the name of the subject of the mural- Ralph Langley. I so enjoy (and truthfully, depend on) the company of those who attend my broadcasts, that I'll invite folks to drop in on my progress with the mural painting over the next month. If you want an email letting you know when I'm painting online, add your email address to my group at the top of the sidebar on this page. See you there!

Riverwalk Casa Rio -Sold

Riverwalk Casa Rio, 14 x 11, oil on panel
I may have just noodled this painting to a faretheewell since I can't see a single other thing I could do to it. It's growing on me, though. I ride the express bus to and from downtown where the gallery is, I may have mentioned. One of my 'bus friends' is Juana, who has worked at Casa Rio for many years. I always show her what I've painted recently by showing the images on my camera. When she saw the original version, she asked where she was in the painting. So I took a photo of her from the back and tucked her in the scene. Good idea, Juana!
I'm going to try to paint tonight online... come by at 6 Central time if you can.

Therapeutic Riverwalk painting

Riverwalk Vision, 14x11 oil
I wasn't having a very good day. To recount it might be to give additional weight to it, so I'll just say I was in the need of happiness. I usually tell people to only paint when they are happy so they won't anchor anything but joy to the experience of painting. Even so, I risked it today and painted to GET happy. It worked for the very most part. 'Playing in the colors' as my sister calls it, really helped me focus on line and shape and color and removed my focus from the other experiences. I didn't have time to fuss much, so I might go back and rework some things later, but for now, I'm grateful for my therapeutic painting time this afternoon.

Start on landscape with red boat...

My friend Janet emailed on Tuesday asking if she could ever come watch me paint. Could she ever! I emailed right back, asking if that night would be too soon. So I had a special treat during my broadcast - my voice wasn't the only one in the room! I soon realized that I could use an assistant. I kept handing her things and asking for help with this or that... She was very accommodating. Thanks, Janet.
I figured I'd let her help me figure out what to paint that night, too, so when she arrived I had several photographs ready for her to choose among. This scene with the beached red boat was her choice. It's 16" x 12", oil on stretched canvas. Not sure when I'll be able to get back to it, since I'm starting in on the large painting-t0-be-mural project now, but I like that it's blocked in pretty well as a start. I'll enjoy working on it again down the line. Thanks to all who came to chat during the broadcast!