Thursday, May 14, 2015

Art and Influence

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Work in Progress
20x16 Oil on linen
Image reference: Randal Holt Photography
Last week, a friend and I traveled to St. Augustine for the 24th Oil Painters of America (OPA) National Juried Exhibition, now on display at the Brilliance in Color Gallery on King Street. (It is less than a 2 hour drive from Gainesville.) Before entering the gallery, we viewed several amazing paintings behind glass of the entryway, some with ribbons hanging next to them. Needless to say, the artwork inside was just as impressive.

The collection of 250 oil paintings spanned a full range of subjects including portraits, animals, landscapes, and still life. Selecting a favorite was nearly impossible, but I was most intrigued by the scenes with leading roads and trails. The last day of the show is May 25th, so there is still time to see it in person. You will also enjoy talking with the friendly and informative Cutter & Cutter staff.

Before leaving the gallery, we purchased the catalog of works. On the inside cover, there is a message from the current OPA president, Ken Cadwallader, outlining the mission of the organization. It is both moving and motivating. This experience caused a shift in my thoughts, with a renewed sense of pride and direction that I will strive for in the future.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Painting Values

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12x12x1.5" Oil on canvas
Prints & Original Available
During the 70’s and 80’s art and music were essential scholastic courses. They were graded and taken as seriously as any other. To me, creating art was fun and interesting. It held value in my life and greatly impacted the way I viewed my surroundings.

Camilla Armstrong was my art teacher during the 9th – 11th grades. During those two years, Camilla never seemed to run out of fresh ideas. I recall an assignment where she required us to paint a monochromatic color scheme from an object in her still-life “junk pile”, as she called it.  We could only use one color, plus adding white, and I selected dark blue. Without fully realizing it, this was a lesson in values.

Among the myriad of glass jars, silk flowers, and clay pots, Camilla suggested I use the large animal bone for this project. She said it was from a cow.  I was intrigued by the irregular shape, smooth surface, variety of edges and grooves. It also reminded me of the artwork I saw while touring museums and other historical sites in South Dakota, years earlier.

When I completed the assignment, the painting resembled a mountainous landscape. Camilla mentioned how similar it appeared to a famous artist’s work. The next day, she brought an art book to the classroom and discussed the life and paintings by Georgia O’Keeffe. I recognized the similarity between our works and felt even more inspired.
This teacher left a lasting impression on me and forever changed the way I viewed the creation of art.

“I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn't say any other way - things I had no words for." -Georgia O’Keeffe (source:
 Learn more about her life >

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Painting a Mood

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12x12x1.5” Cradled Canvas
Prints & Original Available

This seascape sends a new message, as compared to the last three paintings. The mood is quiet, relaxing, and rather uneventful…

In an effort to create a feeling of serenity, I chose cool colors that are side by side on the color wheel. The specific shades of blue and green are closer to the gray tones. There is a small bit of purple above and below the horizon line. Contrast is low in color combinations and values.

The width of brush strokes and their application was also important. With the extensive blending and thin washes of paint, the water appears smooth.  Had I selected a palette knife, the textural effects would have taken the painting in yet another direction. (hmm…now there’s another idea)

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Brother Sunspot

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Fiesta Sunset
9x12 Oil on canvas
Original Sold – Prints available

This is a commissioned painting, based on my last post Solar Reflections. It came along as an unanticipated request and delightful surprise, while I was plugging along, doing what I do...

I am showing this work, so that you can see the progression from the initial study, larger version and custom design. Each has its own unique visual properties. I would encourage you to attempt a similar painting trio (or more), and record the things you would change in consecutive pieces. It is also important to avoid waiting too long in between them.

I have been doing custom artwork for individuals and decorators since early 2000. Along with these creations are stories that profess a deeper meaning behind the “work”.   Sure, I have simply matched couch patterns and paint swatches. Then there are the painted pets, legacy portraits, and vacation landscapes… musical instruments, wide-eyed dolls, and even a bottle of hot sauce! In each case, clients may have felt a little vulnerable. Not only did they have to make the initial contact and ask questions, they also had to explain their vision.
Sometimes as the artist, you can get consumed by the ‘why’ of painting, rather than enjoying the process and outcomes. If this thought has occurred to you, consider shifting your focus from production… to the recipient. You may not even know who that individual is yet, but when you do, try to uncover the meaning that the image holds for them and you will never look at your artwork the same way again.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Sister Sunspot

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12 x 12 x 1.5”
Original & Prints Available

This is the follow-up version of “Sunspot”, the small painting in my last post.  I used a cradled cotton canvas, with a wider range of colors and brushstrokes. I worked slower to make adjustments for what I hoped would be a dramatic sunset reflecting on the water. Although the final image may appear as if the paint was randomly placed, the reality is that the top layers were gradually applied and evaluated over several days.

Whenever I am hesitant about a painting’s outcome, I consider doing a study first. Studies can help to determine the ground work and elements of a larger piece.  Each painting presents an opportunity for growth and observation!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Back to the Beach

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5x5 Oil on panel 
Available at

This painting is a study for a larger work. I had a lot of fun with the quick brushwork and placement of colors. I am surprised by how bright the sun and reflection appear from a distance.

Smaller originals like this one are listed in my Etsy shop, rather than main website. They are a great size for cubicles, wall groupings, and housewarming gifts!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Painting Cat Eyes

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11x14 Oil on linen

Her cat painting is now complete. Areas around the face were darkened and I have received approval from the client. Yeah!

Another artist kindly complimented the eyes, so here’s a close-up and a little explanation.
I consider the shapes and variety of colors within the eyes significant, dissecting them from the pupil to the outer boundaries. I look for the subtle changes in the lines and edges. There is black, gray, white, yellow and light to dark blue. The more you examine the individual parts of a subject, the higher your chance of resemblance, which is always my goal with portraits.
My secret formula is this unlimited palette, which goes against most of “The Rules”. Here is one example, finished and framed. (It's easy to get lost, so I don't recommend using this method )
Paletteus Maximus
16x20 Oil on glass
The most fulfilling part of commissions is when the recipient is delighted with their painting. I love to create art and cats your way!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

WIP Cat Painting

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I received a request for a commissioned cat painting, so the beach scenes will just have to wait. Besides, I enjoy shifting back and forth from one subject to another. There’s never a dull moment!
The canvas is an 11x14 fine woven linen, which is my favorite to use for portraits. The surface is smooth and it dries much quicker than cotton. The base coat is (oil) burnt sienna and the outline is burnt umber. A red background was selected.
She chose a close-up of the cat’s face - a nice choice for highlighting those beautiful blue eyes.
My process for building the fur along the neckline is painting streaks of lighter colors over the darker layers. The facial colors are mostly gray, black, and dark brown.  
We’re nearing the end of completion. The next step is to email the client, get feedback, and make adjustments as necessary.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Painting on a Small Scale

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5x5 Oil on panel
Original available at Etsy

Here's another small seascape inspired by a sunset I witnessed on Marco Island several years ago. The array of colors and bouncing light off the clouds was incredible. Moments like this truly take your breath away!

My painting process was similar to the last, starting with a pink base coat. I applied a variety of colors, as I do with larger works. The main difference was in the size of the brushes.

Whether art is your hobby or profession, there comes a point in most artists’ careers when storage space becomes an issue. Downsizing does not necessarily mean you need to sacrifice your palette or details. Accept it as a challenge and create the best work you can, every square inch of the way!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Longing for Summer

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Boysenberry Beach
5x5 Oil on Panel
Available soon at Etsy

Using a pink-toned Ampersand panel and one layer of thick oils, the bright colors offer a completely different view, as compared to the last painting. I am considering a larger version of this one, but feel eager to paint sunsets with radiant rays of light and a higher value contrast.

-Suppose you could say… I’m ready for the summer warmth and sunshine!