Friday, July 3, 2015

Picture Frames

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One of the things I hope to do this summer is to organize my artwork into collections and frame most of the small and medium pieces. It is interesting to view the impact that a picture frame can have on a work of art.
Although I am mostly drawn to simple black frames, I try to separate my personal taste from what I think best suits the painting. While some images call for ornate gold, others may display well with a contemporary silver border. If your work is similar in style and colors, it is much easier to create a cohesive collection for a single wall.

Picture frames can also help define the environment. For example, when I use white frames, I tend to think of coastal or tropical d├ęcor. Brown and black can be perceived as contemporary, modern, or traditional. Bright gold and plein air styles tend to show well in traditional or Victorian settings. On the opposite end, wide and colorful frames may be best suited for a child’s room or patio, etc. (Just my opinion, of course!)
To save on product costs, and still have a finished appearance, many artists are opting for canvases or panels with gallery-wrapped, staple free edges. With wider widths, the artist determines whether to continue the painting around the edges or use a solid color. These paintings can be displayed unframed; however, I think they look best when placed in shadow-boxes, called “floater frames”. 
There are many choices when it comes to finishing artwork and essentially, the proper frame can make all of the difference.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Painting Flowers

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Summertime Zinnia
14x11 Oil on canvas
Original Available Soon
Painting this Zinnia was one of those care free moments, where the placement of colors flowed.  It began differently from my normal routine. Instead of using a toned canvas, I started with a plain white surface and drew a loose outline... (admittedly, I couldn't wait to paint). It was completed in two sessions, with one overnight stay.
Flowers are definitely the way to go, on those days when you just need something fun and simple to create.

Impasto Zinnia
8x8 Oil on Panel
Original Available Soon!
Here’s another version done by applying thick layers with a palette knife.
**Never stop experimenting with techniques**
This is a great time to photograph the flowers in your area for future references. And if you prefer painting indoors from life, consider setting up a fresh bouquet under a studio light, for hours of enjoyment!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Phalaenopsis Infusion

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Phalaenopsis Infusion
20 x 24 x .75 Oil on Linen
Prints & Original Available  

This is a painting from last year’s collection. It is one of my favorite florals because of the bright colors, shadows, and energy. Orchids also make me think of the summer warmth and tropical climates... the best time of the year, in my book.

Things are busy here in the studio, even though they tend to settle down after the New Year. Most of it stems from my desire to start new projects and set some goals… otherwise known as stirring the pot :).  I’m not certain if November is enough to complete the tasks, but either way, I feel more productive and can always push them back a few months. Besides, what’s the hurry?

Additionally, I received another commissioned portrait request, so I started working on that several weeks ago. We selected a 16x20 stretched linen canvas for the faces of three beautiful children. I am painting 2-4 hours, every day available. It is true what they say about Rosemary brushes. They are simply amazing tools and make painting details so much easier. I hope to share the work-in-progress images with you soon, pending their parent’s approval. 

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Eastern Bluebird Painting

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20x16 Oil on Linen
Image Reference: Randal Holt

This is the completed oil painting of an Eastern Bluebird. I used a linen canvas because it easier to obtain details with the smoothness of the surface. The previous post shows the work-in-progress, where you can see parts of the base coat and subsequent layers.

I attempted to bring into focus the bird’s eye and soften the edges around the head. Softening edges is important to prevent a cut and paste appearance. I’m not sure if they are quite soft enough, but at some point you have to stop and go with it!

I would like to thank Maryland photographer, Randal Holt, for the use of his reference image. When painting birds from photographs, it is ideal when you can clearly examine the feathers and subtle shifts in colors, as in his beautiful images. Visit to see more!

So now you might be wondering the significance of the bluebird? Well, the painting is a trial run for a smaller version and a blog post for another day… Please stay tuned ;)

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!