Tuesday, June 30, 2009

on the Greenbrier Trail

OK, here is the painting, step 2. It may be finished, I may tweak it some more.

Yesterday, I wanted to work on this, but did not have any ultramarine blue or cadmium yellow light. Goldilocks came to mind when I first went to the hobby shop in town where I can purchase relatively cheap oil paint - they were closed. On to the "real" art supply store in the historic district where I nearly fainted at the price on the tubes: ultramarine blue - $14.50, cadmium yellow pale - $34.50! I wanted something in between, the price just right.

Came home and dug around in my squirrel pile of old tubes and found nearly squeezed out tubes of both colors. Enough to finish the painting! God provides.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

in progress

I thought I would post a painting in progress today. I started this yesterday - palette knife as tool, old painting underneath. I am using up old canvases to save money, in the spirit of the economic times as well as to keep them out of landfills. The downside to using old paintings is that the texture of old work shows under smooth thin paint. At the moment there is a definite ridge line from the previous horizon. Sometimes I wonder whether to add thicker paint to cover up the "blemish" or just leave it as evidence of change.

Also, some of the color peeking through I will leave. Another reason I like recycling old paintings - I take advantage of the color surprises!

This is a scene from a biking trip we took a few weeks ago in West Virginia, along the beginnings of the Greenbrier River.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Sunset St. Michaels

I took a photo of this scene while biking around a neighborhood in St. Michaels, Maryland. So many scenic views of the bay and boats, but I loved the light pouring over the field and past the trees near a golf course. I used a palette knife over a canvas that had been "texturized" with a previous painting. I continued the texture with lots of thick paint. The canvas is now somewhat heavy! It may not last 100 years without cracking, but I enjoy looking at the play of color, knowing that the light really was that bright on that late afternoon.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

bluemont winery

Life has eased up and I no longer teach math classes. This summer I am teaching two drawing/sketching classes, both on one day. So far, this has made more time for painting. I started this painting two days ago. The scene is Bluemont Virginia, at a winery where I participated in a juried show a few weeks ago.

Two books I would recommend to fellow artists: Landscape Meditations by Elizabeth Mowry, and Starting to Paint Still Life by Bernard Dunstan. Now I'm eager to purchase and read other titles by these authors.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Arizona Moon

New painting! I surely wish to live someday in Arizona. I love the landscapes there. Yes, I love my green Virginia hills and valleys, but there is something about the desert that makes me want to settle down there and just paint, paint, paint, hike a bit, paint, and drink a margarita in the late afternoon.

I added a little crescent moon to this image that I shot from a car, while we were driving to Yuma.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

watercolor trees

As posted previously, watercolor is not my usual medium - I'm not always successful with it. Not only is this a, to me, rather nice watercolor, but it is one of the rarest of the rare artworks that I have done out of my head. The muse visited me while I was dabbling and playing around one afternoon. No other explanation.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

another iris!

This one is loose, very loose. It is painted with watercolor, acrylic, and gouache paints on paper.

Monday, June 15, 2009

another iris

I painted this on paper with acrylic paints. The iris flowers were a lovely white-blue and I experimented with the complementary color orange for background.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

red tail hawk

This is a red-tailed hawk, painted on 33 x 33 board for a sign for our farm which my husband named "Hawksfeather Farm" many years ago. You might notice my website's name: Fawkesfeather, which of course rhymes with the farm name. My kids and I are Harry Potter fans (Dumbledore's phoenix is named Fawkes) and I used to call my studio Phoenix Feather years before I moved out here. Fawkesfeather Studio seemed like a nice synthesis! On the back of this sign, I painted a large feather. People arriving will see the hawk and leaving will see the feather. We are planning to place it well into the property as farm signs are endangered around here. No matter how well they are chained onto signposts, people will find ways to steal them. I hope this one will last for years.

Friday, June 12, 2009

still tweaking

This is our front field. The painting is large, for me, 24 x 36 inches, and I wanted to straddle the line between realism - yes, you know these are trees and grass and shadows - and abstraction, playing with patches of color, letting the viewer stay with it as a painting on canvas. It's about the paint and texture and color interplay, more than an image of the fields and trees. Where should I make a stand? Hyper-realism is amazing when it's done well, but with photos as an option, I don't want to go there. I suppose Diebenkorn and Kahn and Avery are my influences - they start with real world places and images and then have fun with the paint and geometry of the rectangle plain.

When I start musing along these paths, I come up against the question of why paint in the first place. My kids do amazing things with computer programs and video. If I were thirty years younger I wouldn't paint, I don't think - I'd be doing what they're doing. Ah well.

This painting isn't finished. I want to work on the mid-field, the light area. It's too horizontal right now; it needs some vertical strokes, and maybe some striation of color to break it up visually. Maybe the design process is still valid, even though oil paints are so previous millenium.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

apple study

Watercolor is an "iffy" medium for me. For every successful watercolor painting I do, I have about ten absolute muddles. This is a little study that I think is ok - I had some fun painting this and two other paintings which became gifts to a couple we stayed with last summer in Hampton Roads.

Monday, June 8, 2009


This photo was taken from my yard of woods next to our main drive. Our farm has meadows, lawn with shrubs and fruit and flowering trees, woods, and a steep riverbank. I've lived here less than 3 years and haven't walked over most of it -- fear of ticks and two retired race horses that like to be left alone in their paddock area keeps me from some parts of the farm. But even a snapshot of these trees at the edge of the driveway can seem magical in the photo and even more so when transformed by paint onto canvas.

For wonderful paintings of trees, please visit Middle Street Gallery in Little Washington, VA. A friend, Barbara Heile, has a show there for a few weeks titled "My Vision is not 20/20". Her website is listed here on this blog: Happy Woman. We went to her opening on Saturday - her trees are realistic and abstracted both, with beautiful color notes all over. My favorite painting was of a white building without trees in the painting, only the tree shadow shapes ON the building. Gorgeous!

Friday, June 5, 2009

some of my "failures" in watercolor turn out to be images that I like a lot for reasons I can't explain. This is one! Same iris as yesterday's blog entry, different look.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

may flowers

On our farm are little islands of hidden iris bulbs. Each May they come out and delight us. This is a watercolor sketch of an iris from last year's batch.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

worried mom

This image is from a photo of a woman in an African country, worried about cost of food during last year's raise in rice prices. As a mom, I feel her pain. Her head covering is flowing past her to the right, in the wind. I thought of angel wings when I painted this, keeping the strokes loose and abstracted. I pray for all moms everywhere, as they pray for their children.

Monday, June 1, 2009

favorite painting

I loved eating these plums and I enjoyed painting them. This is my favorite painting - it is 8 x 10 inches on a linen covered board, paint applied with palette knife. It is the second in a series of plums on the blue tablecloth. The first painting (see archives) was done on a textured canvas. I may do more of these - I like the combination of alizarin crimson with touches of yellow on the warm light blue ground. Color theory works if you keep it simple - can you see the green and cadmium reds and violets as well?