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Sunday, October 6, 2013

New Website!

Thank you for visiting my blog. You may browse and enjoy the postings here, but I have moved my current blog to my new website.

Please visit There you can see not only my blog, but paintings and events.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra (DSSO) Celebration Project

While listening to the Carmina Burana Suite during the earth harp concert at the New Year's Eve DSSO concert, various images went through my mind. There were the lights, the conductor, the musicians, and the hard work put out by the harp player. You could even feel the sound. How was I going to express the feeling in a painting??

While visiting a  friend, I happened to be looking through an art book and noticed a paining that caught my eye. That was it! Something in the painting touched me.

Forest interior, by Gustav Klimt

The copy of the painting in the book inspired me to explore ideas for what was to be the  largest painting in the series so far.

Carmina Burana Suite

Carmina Burana Suite mini
pastel with gold

Listen to a selection from the performance from a concert recorded in 2010:

What do you "see"?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Flowering Hillside

There are certain places that just beg to be painted over and over.  I visited such a park with some painting friends.

There is always the preliminary walk-about, looking for the best spot, then the set up of easels and supplies. 

This day was not too hot, so I didn't need to hide myself in the shade. I chose a spot at the base of a hill.

 I had painted this view before, in pastel. This time I wanted to try oil paint. The clouds were moving quickly that day, so I did two paintings!

Touched by Gold (top)

Time to Dream (bottom)

Each are 6x8, oil

Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra (DSSO) Celebration Project

Two former posts demonstrated the creation of paintings inspired by the Earth Harp performance at the New Year's Eve 2013 performance, and the refrain, "Over the Lake."
As I listened to the Carmina Burana Suite performed on the Earth Harp, the vision of a dense  stand of trees echoed in my mind's eye.

The first painting to come from that inspiration was created while I was at this year's Winter Camp. Winter camp is a plein air painting event that's part of the Grand Marais Winter Festival. Artists gather at a wilderness camp, not accessible by road, and paint, outside, for up to a week. We haul our camping and painting gear across frozen West Bearskin Lake to beautiful Camp Menogyn. Happily there was plenty of snow for our paintings. And so much beauty and quiet. 

Into the Light

Monday, March 18, 2013

Art lessons from a Master Painter - James Whistler Real Thing

When in Chicago, I make it a point to visit the Art Institute of Chicago. It is fabulous, but more about that in another blog!

There is nothing like seeing your favorite paintings in life, they are so much more beautiful than even the finest reproduction. There are my favorites I always look for, and I always see something new. Back in August 2011 I posted about being inspired by a photo of a painting. What a surprise I had when I saw the painting in the museum!

Check out the old post to see the painting and the process. My final painting was an award winner at the competition it was in, and was purchased.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra (DSSO) Celebration Project

"Over the Lake" was a refrain during one of the first songs performed during the New Year's Eve Concert with the DSSO. My first painting for the Music Conductor Artistic Expression Celebration Project was inspired by that music and refrain. When I finished the painting, I felt like I needed to do another....and then....another. 

These were to be in pastel. I keep an assortment of pastels at my easel. I have hundreds in my main inventory, but to keep color harmony under control, I use a limited selection chosen for the particular painting. 

Each painting begins with a rough-in. Sometimes the rough-in resembles the finished piece, and sometimes it doesn't. Here I used the undertones of the sky and water first, so they would glow through in the finished paintings. 

I could do more, but I there were other songs to be inspired by!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra (DSSO) Celebration Project

The DSSO is not just for listening to any more! Now you will be able to see the music!

The DSSO has launched the Music Conductor Artistic Expression Celebration Project.  Visual artists and poets have been asked to create work interpreting conductors Mr. Thakar or Mr. Meyer at work. The finished work will benefit the DSSO on various levels. I am happy to announce that I am a part of it.

The first concert I attended with the project in mind was the spectacular Earth Harp performance with William Close and MASS Ensemble. Immediately, images flashed though my mind! There was the conductor, the lights, the graceful strength of the harp, and the sound all around. The challenge was set.

 One of the first songs had a refrain "over the lake." That's what I decided was my inspiration.  In the studio I began by working my ideas in a sketch book. An image of the sun through the clouds seemed to express the feeling of the music during the concert.

It was planned to be an oil painting, so I selected a painting panel and laid out my oil paints. I don't paint with brushes, but with painting knives.  Laying on the paint with a knife is like putting the frosting on a cake!

                                                       "Over the Lake"  oil
                                                                    6 x 8 in.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Birch Tree Sketch

My first day dawned very cold and overcast at the yearly artists' retreat at the Grand Marais Art Colony. It seemed best to let it get a little "warmer" (I was hoping for it to get to zero) before donning all my gear to venture out. Luckily the views out the windows at the lodge all presented inspiring subjects.

How best to use this block of time? There was a little sketch pad with gray paper in it that I had just gotten and hadn't used yet. Birch tree with snow against a gray sky...looked like the possibility of an exercise in grays! Birch tree trunks are filled with color, and that is what I usually paint - color. Expressing the grace and beauty of the subject in shades of gray seemed like a good way to start the day.

I chose part of a tree that had attractive brand structure and a little snow snuggled in one of the crotches. The drawing was lightly sketched in with graphite pencil, then the darks were added with a black pastel pencil. The lightest parts were added with a white pastel pencil. I also had two shades of gray pastel pencils, and I worked back and forth between light and dark until the tree took form. It turned out surprisingly well, but there was something not quite right about it at first. By then it was time to go outside and paint, so I put the little sketch aside until later.

That evening I looked at it again, changed a few areas, and just like that, it went from an experiment to a lovely little jewel! I was tempted to keep it for myself, but I framed it up and exhibited it in the show at the end of the retreat. It was one of the first pieces to be purchased, and I had the pleasure of meeting its new owners. Thank you, and enjoy!

Birch Tree
4 x 6

Monday, January 28, 2013

Memories of Home

When I was initally consulted about painting a beautiful garden scene, I was torn between portraying the garden and flowers or portraying the garden and the river scene. It was decided between my client and me which painting I would do for her - the flowers. Once the painting of the garden with flowers was finished, I decided that I still had to paint the river scene. Water scapes and clouds are some of my favorite subjects to paint, so I knew I could find a home for the river scene painting.

I decided to make the river scene the same size as the flower scene. The flowers were kept to a minimum to emphasize the clouds and their reflections on the water. I also wanted to give this painting more of a feel of standing on the water's edge, so the flowers were included as a fringe at the viewer's feet.

The woman who originally contacted me to create the first painting purchased this painting. That was a pleasant and unexpected surprise! Now both she and her sister-in-law have memories of home in their own custom painting. I feel blessed and am thankful that I am able to use my skills to create paintings such as these that will stir memories and bring joy to the owners for many years.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Memories of Home

The paper for this garden painting was under-painted with watercolor. The watercolor added a depth and glow to the finished image. When dry, the pastel was stroked over the watercolor.

The pastels are sticks of pure pigment. The pigment is the same pigment used in oil paints, watercolors, and acrylics, except that it does not have oil, water, or acrylic added to it. It is the pure pigment, pressed into sticks, held together with a little binder. The pigments are very small crystals of color, with facets that reflect the light, much like diamonds do. Learn more about pastel at the website of the International Association of Pastel Societies .

Slowly the image emerged as the pastel was added to the paper. Fine tuning happened along the way, changing the shapes of the flowers, adding more sunshine, even moving the plant better, finished!

But was I finished? I felt another painting of this beautiful scene needed to be created. Hmmmmm.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Memories of Home

While preparing to create a commissioned painting for my client, I visited the garden, looked at the client's photos, took photos of my own, and did on-site color studies. Continuing to work in the garden would have been my first choice, but the weather had turned cool and the flowers were long gone. The gardener had already cut many plants back, and she kindly took me around to identify what was where.

Back in the studio, it was time to do some designing: a painting is not just a copy of a photo. It was important to use the reference materials to capture the feeling of the garden as well as the view. In order to do justice to the garden, I decided to down play the view of the river and emphasize the sweep of flowers. There were also considerations such as the type of paper to use, the size it was going to be, and whether it would be horizontal or vertical.

Garden sketch

The final sketch was done on a piece of white pastel paper that has a texture like sandpaper.  The grit of the sanded paper allowed me to add many layers of pastel. For this project I decided to do a watercolor wash to reduce the stark white of the paper.

Watercolor underpainting

When the watercolor dried, it was time to add the pastel!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Memories of Home

This summer I was asked to create a painting of a home, to be given as a gift. The house had been in the family since 1946, and the current owner, the brother and sister-in-law of the person commissioning me, were selling it.

People have many memories connected to their homes, and I have completed paintings for homeowners in the past. Most often the paintings are requested when there is a move pending, but occasionally I have done them much later. Paintings are usually completed from both visits to the home, if possible, and from photographs. For this commission, I was able to both visit the property and use the beautiful photos taken by the owner.

Visiting the home was a real treat - it was a beautiful home situated on grounds with a lush garden overlooking the river. The owner decided that what she would like was a painting of the gardens as they would be on a June morning. This was on a drizzly day in September. Luckily, she had a nice collection of photographs with the flowers in bloom that I could use.

Next step was to visit the home on a more June-like day. During that visit I was able to paint in the garden, getting a feel of the scene, do color studies,  and take some of my own reference photos.

Next, working in the studio.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Plein Air Landscape Painting

Sometimes a painting and the artist need a little time away from each other to make things work.

This painting was started last August. I was driving along the North Shore looking for a painting spot. When I found the place I wanted, it started to rain, not hard, but hard enough to keep me under the hatch of my station wagon. It was a painting day, so I painted. As I painted the sky cleared. I grabbed a piece of pastel paper and worked to portray the beautiful cloud formations. Clouds move quickly, and so did I!

The little painting was put into a box and forgotten until this week when I discovered it while looking through unfinished work. Hmmmmm, not bad. All it needed was a few touches, and it's ready to be framed.

After the Rain II

Very similar to another painting I did from the back of my station wagon, After the Rain.

They will make a nice set hanging on someone's wall.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Pet Portraits

This Christmas I had the opportunity to do a painting of "Gus" for his owner. The painting was commissioned by the owner's wife.

My favorite way to start a commission is to meet the subject, whether it's a person or an animal. I frequently go to meet the pet, or have a visit to my studio. I was unable to meet Gus, but was able to meet with Gus's owner's wife. She provided a photograph I was able to work from.

Gus's owner received the painting for Christmas. He wrote to me, "You have done a terrific job of capturing his soul and spirit. Now Gus is immortal!"

Pet portraits make loving and memorable gifts. Call or email to set up an appointment to discuss your portrait!


Saturday, January 5, 2013

Plein Air Landscape Painting

Not all paintings started on location are finished on the spot. Many factors can keep me from finishing while outside. One of the main ones is a change of the weather, or the simple fact that the sun has moved so far across the sky that the scene is totally different from when I started it. The sun's movement is most noticeable in the winter, dawn, and sunset. Sometimes I'm just not sure what else the painting needs to be declared finished, and I think that's what happened with this little beauty.

It was a beautiful March day, with about a foot of fresh snow. I was painting with a fellow painter, and we had set up by an open stream. Things really heated up! Check us out:

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Plein Air Landscape Painting

The New Year in the studio started with my selecting a painting to be exhibited at the Duluth Art Institute's Membership Show. It is always a dilemma to choose which painting will be best matched with which exhibit. There can be many paintings out at various shows at any one time, and events overlap, so it's important to know which painting is where and for how long.

This little painting was created during the 2012 Plein Air Grand Marais. It had been an overcast day with periods of rain. Part of the day was spent under the overhang of my car's hatch with my pastels, trying to keep them dry. Toward the end of the day, the clouds broke up and the sun shone through, giving me an opportunity to get out from under the hatch and paint standing up!

Clouds are an exciting challenge to paint: their form constantly changes. Look up, paint, look up, different! Repaint, look up, different! And so it goes until the right combo of paint/look up comes together in the completed painting.

After the Rain

For more information about:
Duluth Art Institute's Membership Show
2012 Plein Air Grand Marais