Monday, August 29, 2011

Clean Up and Catch Up

Winter Morning, Key Bridge 12x24 oil on board (plein air)

Key Bridge, Winter Morning, 8x10 oil on panel

Well, the storm is over, the power is back on and it has been a busy day!  During Irene I managed to finish painting "Morning in Washington Square Park" but I haven't posted it because it needs a little tweak first.  I thought I would get to it today but by the time I finished cleaning up the yard, checking in with friends, family and my horse I wasn't in the right frame of mind.  Instead I used what was left of the afternoon to varnish some paintings from the winter.  The painting on the left was my second painting of Key Bridge that particular February morning and I got it well underway before finishing it later that day at home.  I used a satin varnish on it and it looks great. On the right is the first painting that day by the same name and I sold it in May.  I will contact the buyers, who do not live far away, and ask if they would like me to also varnish their painting.
      Also, I received a shipment of plein air frames today so I will be busy framing some of the pieces sitting around my studio.  It is good to have them ready to show but once they are framed they take up more space.  One of the nice things about small works on panels is that I can just stack them.
      We were lucky here in terms of the hurricane but I know so many other places were not.  To all of you affected by Irene I wish you better days ahead!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

On the Easel: "Morning, Washington Square Park" (aka, the earthquake painting)

Morning, Washington Square Park, 20x16 oil on panel
(in progress)
Yesterday morning I started this painting that was inspired by my recent trip to New York.  Washington Square Park was a surprisingly quiet place that Saturday morning particularly given its history.  I loved the fact that the city buildings were shrouded in haze and the focus was on the lovely park setting.  The serenity was unexpected .
      I was well into the painting and just working in the lamp post in the foreground when the earthquake struck.  You will notice the post is somewhat leaning to the left.  Blame it on my hand smearing through it.  I will work on correcting it in the next session.  The painting has a short way to go.  The long bench following the curve of the walk is just roughed in and the foreground on the left is unfinished.  I need to put this aside for a couple of days since we are having family arriving for the weekend.  At least I think we are.  Hurricane Irene may change those plans since everyone is flying up from Atlanta.  I don't think they will have a problem getting here but getting home could be trouble.  We shall see. 
      I will always remember this painting as having been painted during both an earthquake and a hurricane. I hope it turns out well!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

A Wonderful Time! NYC and the Salmagundi Club

Our Hotel, a short walk from the Club

Where Harry Met Sally

Outside the Salmagundi Club

The Club Entrance

The packed reception

Vicki Vidal Blum in front of her lovely "Parrot Tulips"

Me in front of my "Heading to the Falls"

Dick trying to snare a cab in the thunderstorm
 The first time I heard the word Salmagundi it was at Christina Campbell's Tavern in the historic district of Williamsburg Virginia.  It was the 18th century name for a salad that we now refer to as Chef's Salad.  A little of this and a little of that.  I would say that sums up this years juried non member show at the Salmagundi Club in NYC.  All styles and genres were represented and all were quality works. I am so proud to have been included!  Vicki Vidal Blum who lives not far from me (and is also a member of the Art League and paints plein air with me) had a beautiful still life in the show. It was fun to be there together and to meet the other artists.  After the reception Vicki, Dick and I went out into the pouring rain with everyone else (how I wish I had taken that umbrella!) and we tried to stay dry while Dick hailed a cab.  Back at the Washington Square Hotel where we were staying the three of us went into the bar for drinks, dessert and good conversation.  About art of course!

     Earlier in the day, after dropping our bags at the hotel, Dick and I decided we wanted to indulge in some good New York deli so we cabbed it over to Houston and Katz's Deli.  If you saw the movie "When Harry Met Sally" you will recognize the place as where the memorable "I'll have what she's having" scene was filmed.  Each of us tried to consume an impossibly huge sandwich of the best pastrami in New York but failed miserably.  There went our dinner plans!  Dessert and drinks were all we wanted later that evening.

     Earlier this week I received an email from my cousins Kathi and Helen who had attended the show when they were in NYC.  They said they found the Club to be very warm and welcoming.  That was also my impression.  It is a very comfortable place.  The night of the reception we were elbow to elbow in the rooms so it was hard to see all there was to see. Besides the painting and sculpture show there was the non member drawings and photography show as well as the Club's many paintings from their permanent collection.  I did manage to see a number of works from the early 20th century and some of the framed wooden palettes that belonged to early members.  I look foward to visiting during a quieter time in the future.  If you ever find yourself in NYC the Salmagundi Club is worth a visit!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

August Morning at River Bend

August Morning at River Bend, 12x16 oil on panel
Here is the painting from yesterday.  I am trying to keep my hands off my plein air work once I get  back to the studio as there is always the temptation to try to make the paintings better.  A little tweak here and there is fine but I don't think I gain anything by reworking them.  It takes the freshness out of the work.The best ones I consider finished paintings ready to frame.  Others line up against the wall as studies or reminders of what not to do next time.  This one works.  At the very end I put a little yellow in the sky and water on the right where the sun was coming from and that was the touch I wanted.  This one I'll frame and sell.
     Tomorrow my husband Dick and I are heading to NYC  and the Salmagundi Club for the closing reception for the juried non member show that I am participating in.  We are looking forward to it!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Morning at River Bend Park on the Potomac

Comfortable spot and a Great View!

Just About Finished
 Today was a beautiful day to be painting along the Potomac at River Bend Park.  Thank you Margaret Huddy for thinking of this and inviting me to join you and your friend!  I chose this lovely and comfortable spot where I enjoyed a constant, soft, cooling breeze.  We started at 9:00 and the only sounds we could hear were the cicadas, occasional splashes in the water and the ever present Canadian Geese and ducks. I think the bugs must have declared a holiday because I didn't encounter ANY!  I came prepared for an onslaught which is usual for this time of year and was pleasantly surprised.  Later in the morning some children from a summer camp came through on their nature walk with counselors and were really hoping to see some water snakes.  I was just as well pleased that none made an appearance!  I didn't get a decent photo of the finished piece because by the time I got home the skies had darkened and we had some rain.  I'll take it outside tomorrow and photograph it. 
      By the way, for those of you not familiar with this area of the Potomac that tall stick you see that looks like a ruler next to my set up is in fact a measuring stick.  It is fairly common in early spring for the Potomac to flood.  River Bend is just upriver from Great Falls Park and you can image the force of water over the falls if you can picture where I am painting as being completely under water.  The high water mark for last spring would have had the river over my head at this point.  If you go to my website you can see some early spring paintings of the Great Falls when the river is really churning!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Erik's Pond 30x40 oil on linen
Here is the final version of Erik's Pond.  I am very happy with it!  You will have to click on it to see an enlargement that will show you the details added that are of personal significance for Erik.  I added the heron in flight with the waterlillies that you saw from an earlier post but now also have Erik's son with his fishing pole on the dock.  I got him on the fourth attempt.  I kept painting him out and letting the area dry before the next try.  I was finally successful after I purchased a very fine sable brush.  Minute as they are they do make the painting stronger for me.  I really got invested in this one!  After it is good and dry I will apply a thin spray of retouch varnish to even out the surface and give it some temporary protection.  Sometime after six or eight months I would like to go back and apply a final varnish.  Probably matte or satin.  The gloss would make light reflect too much off the dark areas and make the painting harder to see.

      Tomorrow it is back to plein air.  I will be joining some members of the Art League Plein Air Painters (ALPAPs) at River Bend Park in Great Falls to paint for the morning.  I am always happy to paint the Potomac!

Monday, August 15, 2011


"Breaking Through" (morning on the Torpedo Factory Dock)
14x11 oil on panel
     The only adjustment I made to yesterday's painting was to add a couple more splashes of sunlight hitting the deck.  It is interesting how many beautiful grays can be mixed from just a few colors.  I don't often work with a palette like this but each time I do I wonder why I don't more often.  It really appeals to me!  I think I will have to revisit Whistler, he was a master at it.
     Also interesting is the difference between today's image taken earlier in the day in natural light compared to yesterday's late in the day under studio lights. 

      Today all I did was put the final touches on Erik's Pond, add the splashes of sun to the plein air painting and then rearrange the studio.  It is time for some serious cleanup.  I think I will have quite a lot out on the curb for trash pick up.  I am talking about "stuff" not paintings although there are a couple I am tempted to add to the pile.
What's next?  I think more plein air:)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

I'm Getting Hooked on the Torpedo Factory Marina!

"Breaking Through" 14x11 oil on panel

When I was first asked to paint out on the Torpedo Factory Dock I said sure, no problem but I have to admit I wasn't really looking forward to it.  This was not a place I was eager to paint.  Now I have no idea why I felt that way.  Maybe it was a matter of familiarity breeding contempt. I spend so much time here at the Torpedo Factory but  never stopped on the dock long enough to ponder the possibilities for a painting.  Also there was the matter of all those boats!  Who knew I would find I really like painting boats.  Besides the boats there is so much interesting architecture, lots of people and frankly just so many choices.  I can't wait to come back down to paint!

This morning started out dark and stormy.  When I arrived on the dock it was hard to see my canvas in the light under the arcade but it was that or get wet.  Three other intrepid souls braved the elements with me.  We were soon to be rewarded!  The sky started doing some pretty amazing things as the sun tried and tried to break through.  It was hard to commit to the moment to work the painting from but I settled on the pearly light that started to win the battle with the clouds.  We had quite a cloud show for the rest of the morning. Some moments there was brilliant sunshine and then the sky would darken again for another brief shower.  The colors became more intense as the morning wore on and I was often tempted to change my plan.  The puddles that I left an expanse of deck for dried up before I could paint them in which left me with a dilemma. Shoulda, coulda, woulda.  I wish I had at least indicated them in the beginning. I tried a couple of things like adding the large shadow that appeared thanks to the nearby tree but it didn't work with the time and lighting I had committed to.  I settled for the splash of light hitting the edge of the dock near the bench and might add a little more at the bottom edge of the painting.  I'll see.  Anyway this is the painting a la sushi before I start meddling with it.  I like this one.  I painted next to Tricia Ratliff and we kept up a lively conversation in between posing for photos with tourists:)

I also returned to the scene of the crime.  I have no idea why it took so long for me to see such an obvious mistake in my painting from last week, "Gray Day".  One of my flaws is that I am very literal.  That is not good when creating a painting.  Yes, the roof was that brick red, yes that piling was that tall and looked like it was part of the roof support.  Were those things good for the painting? NO!  I have been told time and again, remember the eye loves an edge.  My mistake brought the eye immediately to the weakest part of the painting and away from the area I wanted you to be drawn into.  I corrected it by softening the roof edge, lightening it and shortening the piling.  I may even shorten it more.  Now at least the painting works better.
I think I will try to get back down to the dock during the week!
(Problem Solved?)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

"Little No Name" Has a Name

Gray Day at the Marina 9x12 oil on panel
I almost gessoed over this unfinished painting from last weeks plein air outing at the Torpedo Factory Dock but I changed my mind because I rather liked the sky.  I didn't spend much time because I wanted to keep it fresh and I am still considering this one a learning experience.  I can see the things wrong with it but that is why I am keeping it.  I have discovered that I want to learn to paint boats.  this is only the second time I have painted them and they present a challenge for me.  Happily they exist in an environment that appeals to me which includes big skies and water.  Plenty of opportunity for reflections.  As forms I find the boats and the architecture of the marinas complex.  I have to remember to think of them as forms and not get too hung up on the details of which there are plenty!  The riggings and ropes present a particular difficulty and my painting knives only go so far.  I will search for different brushes and perhaps the hardware store will have something that will work.  I often find good painting stuff there.  The good news is there are lots of marinas nearby to visit and while the weather is warm I think I shall do that.
      Tomorrow it is back to Old Town for another paint out and it looks like this one will be in the rain.  I am actually looking forward to that as that too is something I have not experienced.  I will look for some cover and see what happens.  If it is really windy I may just have to wrap up and go home.  Check in tomorrow to see how it went!


Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Devil is in the Details

Detail of "Erik's Pond" lower right corner
All the major elements of "Erik's Pond are complete and today it was time to add features that are of personal interest to Erik.  I painted the white heron that feeds at the pond in flight against the dark trees.  I had originally planned to paint him more to the center with the water behind him but he is such a small form that I felt I needed the contrast.  I also added some of the much loved waterlillies on the right side to see if they would work and at this scale I think they do.  If I make them smaller they will look like tiny polka dots so I will keep them in the foreground on both sides and maybe just put a couple of dots further back.  The left side of the painting comes forward more so I can give the lillies a little more detail there.  I have also begun adding some of the light colored tree trunks and branches that help break up the wall of green.  The big question right now is whether or not to reduce the size of the dock.  You will have to refer to the last post to see it.  Smaller would be more correct in regards to scale but it will not be very good for adding the figure of his son with his fishing pole.  I will let Erik make that call.  I can work it either way.  You will have to wait for the next post to see what was decided!

     I took "Jesse Waiting" out of the closet.  I guess that was a weak joke.  Anyway, I realized I had forgotten to finish one of the legs on the teapot so I did so.  I added some more wisps of hair where the light really catches it and declared the painting finished.  I like it! I signed it and entered an image of it in a national show.  I shall keep my fingers crossed and let you know in a month or so whether it was accepted.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Almost Finished!

Erik's Pond 30x40 oil on linen (nearing completion)
This one is just rolling off the brush and is almost complete!  Tomorrow I will work the foreground just a little more and I will add the heron.  I want it in flight low against the water.  That way if it turns out to be a mistake I can more easily paint it out in that location.  I really don't want to rework the sky as it is just where I want it right now.  Having to paint out the heron could make a mess of it.  I am really liking this painting!  Of course the important thing is that Erik really like it too.  Further back in my posts you can see the location whre the painting will hang.  I think the light in this painting will have the desired effect and I am looking forward to seeing it framed.
     Well, I am taking a dinner break and then I want to spend a short time on that little boat painting from Sunday before calling it quits for the day.  It will be quite a gear shift from this piece.  I plan to take "Jesse"out of the closet tomorrow and see what I think of the painting and decide whether or not to enter it in a national show.  What will be next on the easel I don't know yet.  I think I will spend some more time painting out and seeing where those paintings lead.  I would love to do another along the lines of Erik's Pond because I enjoy working with those colors and that kind of light.  We shall see.......

Monday, August 8, 2011

Focused on Erik's Pond

Erik's Pond, 30x40 oil on linen  ( In Progress)
Today I have turned my attention full time to the pond painting.  Up until now all you have seen has been underpainting.  First the toning of the linen with burnt umber and then a sketchy looking ring of trees to show what the perspective would be.  Then I added some bright sky colors so when dry they could peak through the subsequent layers.  Today I started laying on the paint, working all around the canvas. I am beginning to give the shore line some push pull and will continue with that tomorrow.  The trees are beginning to be defined and I want to add some trunks and perhaps some dead branches to break up the really thick foliage.  I have decided where the heron will be taking off from and will have to cause some rippling in the water from where he disturbed it. The dock will get more definition and a splash of light hitting it.  The sky needs more refining and I want to pull in some of the lily pads on the surface of the water. This is the fun part of painting!  Things will start to move quickly now. As usual I worked beyond the optimum light and finished the afternoon under warm studio lights.  The images I took with the lights on would not have needed any cropping but the colors were too yellowed.  This photo was taken in natural light but I had to crop all around so you didn't end up seeing a crooked painting but at the same time some nice passages of color were kept from view.

Looking at "Little No Name" from yesterday's paint out with fresh eyes today I have decided I might be able to salvage it and want to give it a go.  I do like the sky and the silvery tone that dominates the painting because of the overcast day.  It's not a big deal, I just want to see if I can make it work and if I can't I can't.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

August 7th Paint Out on the Old Town Alexandria waterfront

"Little No Name" 9x12 oil on panel
As posted earlier, today was the second ALPAP paintout.  I just came up with that.  I like it.  It stands for Art League Plein Air Painters, so now I shall refer to us as the Alpaps.
      The morning was hot and humid but mercifully overcast.  Last evening I had picked out the spot I wanted to paint but I was there at 4:30 just before a thunderstorm and didn't realize that in the morning I would be standing in full sun.  Even with the haze tree cover was desirable so I moved to a spot left of the scene I really wanted to paint. I didn't finish my painting as you can see from the underpainting that shows.  I am referring to the burnt umber color of the gazebo and parts of the building on the right. I will work on it during the week when I take breaks from the pond.  I am not wild about what I have here.  I think I should paint shark teeth on the front of the boat.  That boat really needs to be anchored:)  I get punchy when I am tired or to borrow a word from a friend in the UK, I am feeling knackered.  I think that puts it better.  Seriously though, the boat looks like it is going to leap out of the water.  I need the ropes and rigging but at this tiny size don't want to overdo it.  It just might be one of those that will never work and I will write it off as a learning experience.
      There were eight of us today and we were a great group.  We had a brief critique and headed for the air conditioning.  I will say we are serving our purpose as many people stop to talk and seem very interested in what we are doing.  We wear our Art League aprons so we are good advertising!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Watching Marty Paint

in the beginning

somewhere in the middle

Today's post isn't about me, at least in the sense of something I am working on.  Today I watched and learned .

Martin Poole is one of my favorite painters and this is the second Poole painting demonstration I have attended at the Principle Gallery in Old Town Alexandria.  He started at 11:00 and worked straight through until 4:00 sharing his thoughts and engaging his onlookers throughout the process.  He is a patient and generous teacher and I was impressed with his ability to concentrate, problem solve, field questions and politely listen to comments all day.
I was interested to see how he develops a painting from photographs and his approach today was very similar to plein air.  He wants to take the painting home and develop it further and mentioned glazing after it had dried.  He said something very interesting in response to a question as to why photo and not on site.  Like me he has a preferance for those very ephemeral times of day.  As the sun goes down you may have 15 minutes to get things done.  When you are working in the middle of the day there is more time to develop a painting.  Having the experience of place, plus photo references and the memory of the moment makes it possible.  Not to mention his skill and ability to keep it spontaneous. 
     Someone made the comment that they felt they had been to a two day workshop.  I have to agree. I came away with lots of information and inspiration.  I look forward to his return!

       Tomorrow it is back to the waterfront for plein air.  After I left the demonstration I walked down to the river and picked my place for tomorrow morning.  I hope the rain holds off long enough to at least get something started.  If it pours I'll head to the arcade and do some wet pavement studies.  Maybe.

Friday, August 5, 2011

"Closet Finished"

Jesse Waiting, 20x16 oil on panel
I call this closet finished because at this point I feel like I have worked it enough and for the sake of the painting I need to banish it from site so I don't pick away at it.  Even as I took this final photo I spotted some tiny things that I would like to improve.  I fought the urge because some days from now when I look at the painting again I may not feel that way.  I will, however, need a better photo.  I had to crop too much from the right and left so you wouldn't see air behind the painting. 

Starting Monday I will be devoting myself full time to the completion of the pond painting.  I would like to have it finished by next weekend.  I say Monday and not tomorrow because I will be attending a painting demonstration by one of my favorite artists, Martin Poole, at the Principle Gallery in Old Town.  He will be painting from 11:00 to 4:00 and I am really looking forward to watching him develop a painting.  Sunday is back to Old Town for our next Art League Plein Air painters paint out from 9:00 to 12:00.  After that I think I will rest!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Time Flies When You Are Painting!

Heading to the Falls, 40x30 oil on canvas

     I can't believe it is already August and Heading to the Falls will be on view at the Salmagundi Club annual juried show starting on Monday! If you check my very first post back in July you can find more information on the club, show dates and times.
West View, Sugar Loaf Mt. 11x14 oil on linen panel
  Check the link to read the history of the club and take a virtual tour of this beautiful, historic building with it's lovely gallery space.  Briefly, the club was founded in 1871 in the studio of Jonathan Scott Hartley.  In 1917 the members purchased the mid 19th century brownstone on lower 5th Ave. near Washington Square where the club is still located.  Many famous artists enjoyed membership in the club such as William Merritt Chase, Childe Hassam and N.C. Wyeth just to name a few.  Winston Churchill was an honorary member.  I'll bet many of you did not know that Churchill was a wonderful painter with a preference for plein air work.

Speaking of plein air work.....Here is the finished image of the painting I did on Sugar Loaf Mountain in Maryland this last Sunday.  I told the story of the tumble to the ground and the needed repairs in my last post.  I added paint where it had been rubbed off and made the changes suggested and I am pleased with the result.  Frankly, scenes with lots of green are a bit of a bore for me to paint but thanks to the fact that I forgot to pack any tubes of green I think I was able to create a more lively painting. Mixing a variety of greens from different blues,yellows and reds made the work more interesting for me.

The painting of Jesse is just about complete and I hope to have the finished painting posted by Friday.  The pond painting is drying after it's last session and should be ready for the next layer tomorrow.  Paint, paint, paint!

Coming up this week......Sunday August 7th paint out with the Art League Plein Air Painters in Alexandria on the waterfront.  Look for us from 9:00 to 12:00 spread from Founders Park to the far side of the dock.  I had no idea I was creating a plein air group when the director of the Art League Gallery asked if I would paint on the Torpedo Factory Dock the first Sunday of July and August.  A simple request from me for other interested painters opened the flood gates.  I hear from at least one person a day wanting to be added to the list and we are sure to be an active group visiting many interesting sites in the future!

Monday, August 8th, Show opens at the Salmagundi Club, 47 5th Ave. NYC and runs until Friday, August 19th.

Monday, August 1, 2011

On Top of Sugar Loaf Mountain

West View, Sugar Loaf Mt., 11x14 oil on linen panel
 It was an art filled weekend.  I spent most of Saturday working on the pond painting and worked until evening when it was once again too late to get a decent photo.  I have now covered the entire canvas and spent most of the time working on the water and trees.  The dock has been roughed in and I am trying to decide where to place the heron.  I will write more after my next session with it when I will be sure to take a photo earlier in the day. 

Most of Sunday was spent on Sugar Loaf Mountain for a paintout with the Washington Society of Landscape Painters. I am now a candidate for the society and as such am able to attend all their paint outs which I really enjoy!  We started around 9:00 and worked until 12:30 when we broke for lunch and then critique at 1:00.  I stopped painting maybe a half hour after I took this photo as I felt I had taken things as far as I cared to.
      I have often said that working with Mother Nature is a humbling experience. As I turned to start stowing my gear a gust of wind came up and I turned back just in time to keep my painting from landing face down on the wet palette.  Unfortunately I didn't catch it and it just ricocheted off the palette and hit the ground face down.  Thank you Muthah!  I suppose I should consider myself lucky since I had my umbrella up and the whole thing could easily have flipped over.  Geez, I even thought to tape down my panel, you can see the blue tape sticking up from the top of the painting.  Well, it was a mountain top. Not a very high mountain but humbling never the less.  I had enough time before the critique to patch the scrape through the sky and pick out most of the grit and bugs. I received some good advice from the other painters and will make some minor, but I think important, revisions this week.  I'll post the painting after I have done that.
     I am really itching to get back to the painting of Jesse and would like to have it finished to enter into a juried show the middle of this month.  I will just have to start getting up earlier.  It would be wonderful to be able to just get up each day and head to the studio or out to paint and work as long as I wished.  Life just isn't like that is it?