Thursday, March 29, 2012

Finding Joy in a Broken Finger

On Monday night of this past week, I happened to be in the way of a speeding softball. Well... that's not exactly true... I just didn't catch the ball in time. I was playing 2nd base at a church league softball game, and after the batter hit the ball my way, I, being the completely clumsy and inexperienced sports player that I am, couldn't get my gloved hand there in time. Instead I got slammed by the ball on my unprotected hand... my left hand, the hand with which I draw, paint, eat, write, live. Buckled over and gripping my hand in pain, I knew immediately that the middle finger was broken. The ball had peeled the nail back slightly, causing it to bleed, but worse, there was the crooked silhouette of a bone being obviously out of place.

Steve rushed me to a minute clinic; I didn't start to cry until we were in the car... not because it hurt, but because the panic was setting in, about my future as an artist and classical pianist. I couldn't think of a good reason why God would let this happen, and yet, I knew I had to trust that everything would work out okay. Fear and panic should never be allowed to take over - I have learned that from painting! Fighting through the fear and using it to stop and re-focus, always leads to a better painting. Always. I tell that to my students, and now I am finding just how crucial it is in everyday life as well.

When we got to the clinic, the nurses got me in ahead of the line, put an ice pack on my swollen finger, and took x-rays. Then Steve pulled out his iPhone and we watched the Byan Regan skit about the emergency room to keep our spirits up while we waited for the doctor to give us a prognosis. When the doctor finally came in, he told me that the base of the distal phalange had shattered, and that he had counted at least four small pieces, floating around in there. He gave us some recommendations for hand specialists, put a temporary splint on my finger, and wrote me a prescription for pain meds before sending us on our way.

 Pretty sure it's not supposed to look like this...

The next day (Tuesday), Steve managed to get me in right away to see one of the area's best orthopedic specialists, Dr. Lund (all the other specialists were booked solid and wouldn't be available for a consult for an entire week!). After reviewing my x-rays, Dr. Lund confirmed that it was worse that we originally thought: the bone had been compressed by the impact of the ball, shattering the base into at least 6 pieces, maybe more. He said he would schedule me for surgery as soon as possible to try and push the pieces back into place before too much scar tissue develops. I'll have to wear a cast up to my wrist for at least the first week, to ensure absolutely no movement in that finger. Then I'll wear casts on the finger for several weeks after that, followed by several rounds of physical therapy. The doctor said a successful surgery would allow me to bend the joint 35 degrees, but that arthritis in that joint will be a given when I get older.

I took all this news with some degree of sadness, thinking about all the years I had spent practicing piano, and of course the months ahead, where I might not be able to paint at all. And in the back of my mind, I heard my parents telling me over and over again, "Don't play sports - you'll injure your hands!" (such wisdom, and this grown-up twenty-something ignored it...) Then I thought, "No, I'm meant to be an artist and musician! Even if they took my whole hand, that wouldn't stop me from doing what I love!" As one of my friends said, "You'll probably learn how to paint with your teeth or something. You can't NOT paint." She's right. I can't NOT paint.

That being said, I don't really know what the next few weeks will bring, once I've had this surgery. Right now, I am surprisingly okay. I used to worry about something happening to my left hand, and now that it has... I'm discovering that it's all okay, because I truly believe with all my heart that God is in control of this situation. And I'm not just okay... I'm filled with the joy of the Lord.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." - Jeremiah 29:11

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song. - Psalm 28:7

One last thought: just after this happened, I was reading chapter 7 of Ann Voskamp's "One Thousand Gifts," and she described the Old Testament story about Jacob wrestling with God. The angel touched Jacob on the "sinew of his thigh", breaking him at the strongest place in his body. But Jacob struggled on and wouldn't let go until the angel blessed him. “The Lord has to break us down at the strongest part of our self-life before He can have His own way of blessing us.”  ― James H. McConkey  I have a feeling that this incident is going to be a real learning experience for me... I will be forced to slow down and take time for God, family and friends, and me. Maybe putting the art on hold won't be the worst thing in the world... maybe, it's really a blessing in disguise.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Pictures from Weiler House Exhibition, March 24, 2012

First of all, THANK YOU to everyone who came to this event! The reception flew by quickly and I so enjoyed visiting with all of our guests, fellow artists, and collectors. Here are some pictures from the event, with all of my works hanging in one of the rooms. I love the feel of this gallery, as it is very welcoming, and its home-like feel makes it easy for a collector to envision the artwork on their walls at home.

Above doorway: "Four Rows, Napa Valley," "Morning Calm in Texas Summer," "The Canal Less Travelled." Top row, main wall: "Back Study," "Delights of Summer," "Attitude in Green (Sold)," "Arabesque in Blue." Bottom row, main wall: "The Incident," "Paint Horses in Caprock Canyons," "Summertime Stilettos," and "Aurora."

Left: "Sunset Over the Ponte Vecchio," above "Artichoke and Lemons"
Right: "A Venetian Spectator," above "Climbing Roses - Cortona, Italy," "An Open Door," and "Spring Trail"

Above: "Legacy of Elegance;" Below: "Comforts of Old" and "Ballerina with Venetian Mask"

Unfortunately, we didn't catch fellow artist Ann Hardy in time for a group photo, but here I am with wonderful landscape artist, Cecy Turner, in front of "Twin Arts."

Some happy collectors took home "Mountain Man" for their collection of Western art. I'm always thrilled when my work finds a good home! :-)


Friday, March 23, 2012

Opens Tomorrow! 3-Artist Exhibition at Weiler House Fine Art

Weiler House Fine Art

invites you to join us for an opening reception

Three Texas Women

featuring the works of

Anna Rose Bain

Ann Hardy

Cecy Turner

Gallery Night

March 24th
5:00 P.M.- 9:00 P.M.

Meet the artists
Refreshment served

"Climbing Roses, Cortona, Italy"
by Anna Rose Bain
20x12 - oil on linen
Anna Rose Bain, a resident of Garland, is a young talented artist in the classical realist tradition. A specialist in figural and portrait painting, she is the Texas Co-ambassador for the Portrait Society of America.

A resident of Colleyville, Ann Hardy's art has achieved national recognition. A signature member of the Oil Painters of America, Ann fuses realism with impressionism to create masterful still life, floral and landscape paintings.

Dallas native Cecy Turner is a nationally recognized and award winning artist. Her skilled paintings include florals, still life, landscapes and architecture. Adept in both oil and watercolor Cecy is a signature member of the National Watercolor Society and Women Artists of the West. She has been a popular lecturer, teacher, juror and demonstrator since 1976.

Exhibit runs until April 7, 2012
Come join us for a special evening

Weiler House Fine Art
3126 Handley Drive
Fort Worth, Tx, 76112


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Experimenting with New Brushes, and a New Nude Painting

Today at the Society of Figurative Arts we were privileged to paint from a nude model. SOFA's director, Michael Mentler, is a representative for Rembrandt art products, and they are always sending him samples to experiment with. Today he had some new brushes he wanted me to try out. A series of fine red sable brushes (series 240), they are already distributed in Europe, but have yet to be marketed in the United States. Our nude model was the perfect subject for testing the subtleties and nuances of these new brushes. Actually, I wanted to see how they'd compare to Rosemary & Co. brushes. They are my absolutely favorites (series 279, especially), and I've had a hard time finding anything I'd rather use!

I quickly discovered that the Rembrandt brushes were wonderful to work with. I blocked in my painting with Rembrandt Transparent Oxide Brown thinned with medium (5x Gamsol, 1x Damar varnish, 1x stand oil), then picked up the sables instead of using a traditional bristle brush to start pushing paint around. The sables flowed really well, particularly the flats.

Here is the finished painting:

"Seated Nude" - 16x12 - oil on linen

... and some detail shots.

At the hairline and ear in particular, you can see that the Rembrandt brushes produce the same effect that a Rosemary mongoose brush can as far as softening. Nancy Guzik calls it her "Happy Brush." The brush must be clean and dry in order for this effect to work without over-blending or causing the paint to look muddy.

I hope Rembrandt brings these brushes to the U.S. soon. I am eager to use them. I told Michael I wasn't going to give them back to him at the end of the session, but... I did... (reluctantly!) :-)


Friday, March 16, 2012

Recap: Judith Carducci Workshop, January 2012

- Originally posted to the Texas Portrait Network blog for TX members of the Portrait Society of America -

So, it's already been almost two months, but I have been meaning to write about this workshop. Almost immediately following my workshop in Scottsdale with Nancy Guzik, I attended this one with Judith Carducci here in Dallas. Judy is one of the Portrait Society of America's most esteemed faculty members. If you've ever had the opportunity to learn from her, or hear her speak at PSOA conferences, you know that Judy is a firm believer in working exclusively from life. Because of her purist dedication to life drawing and painting, and her passion for her craft, Judy's work is incredibly strong and vibrant. She is also a great storyteller and for every point she makes in her teaching, she can give an example from her wealth of experience. Personally, I have gained a great deal from her instruction and advice, and I hope that if you get a chance to study with her, you will take advantage of the opportunity! She is a great artist and person, but... she won't let you off easy. Prepare to be challenged! The 14 of us who took her January workshop in Dallas, certainly were!

Here are some pictures from the 5-day workshop.

Judy at the beginning of her demo, day 1. The model was WWII veteran, Jim.

Explaining the anatomy of the ear.

Measuring the length of the face.

Judy's finished charcoal demo of Jim (with a sketch of eye - part of her demonstration of the anatomy of facial features)

Our wonderful host was Michael Mentler, head of the Society of Figurative Arts. The workshop took place at his studio (samples of his artwork in the background). I really love this shot of him! :-)

Judy would demo in the morning, and then the students got their shot at it in the afternoon to impliment what they learned. Above: artist Christen Benat, working on a profile view.

The first day was focused primarily on values, so we stuck to black and white, or in my case, brown and white. Here is my little monochromatic sketch of Jim, in oil on canvas. I only used Rembrandt's transparent oxide brown and white.

The model for day #2: Sylett, an artist's model with 30 years of experience! Judith really enjoyed doing this demo for us, and we enjoyed watching! She was working on a brand new line of Canson pastel board, courtesy of Canson via Michael Mentler (Michael represents their brand).

The finished demo. A solid, colorful, and exciting portrait!

The students hard at work.

My little 12x9 profile study of Sylett.

 Michael Mentler posed for Judy on day 4.

She began and finished the portrait in charcoal, realizing early on that it didn't need any color; it was already a strong impression! 

The finished portrait of Michael... or should I say, Gandalf the wizard? (Sorry, Michael, couldn't resist!)

Our afternoon model, Buck, was no less exciting! Here he is posing with a wolf skin hat, turquoise jewelry, and a staff. 

Artist Rebecca McClure off to a very strong start. You could really feel the energy in the room!

An exciting rendition by Ellen Moore.

 Here's mine. I really took Judy's advice to heart: no matter where you are positioned in front of the model, find something you LOVE about the pose and run with it!I loved the backlighting on the furry hat, as well as the mysterious shadow that the rim cast over Buck's eyes.

On the last day of the workshop, Judy did a self-portrait as her demo. 

The progression was very exciting to watch! We all sat riveted and humbled by her masterful execution of the self portrait.  

Here it is finished. One of the students purchased this piece.

Finally, a group photo (sans two of the students, Carole Fadal and Connie Erickson -- we missed you, ladies!), with Judy holding her magnificent portrait.

Here's what Judith herself had to say about the workshop after it was done:

I've just returned from Dallas where I was a guest of Becky and Hank Pearson (Becky is the pert redhead on the right in the group photo) and the workshop was hosted by Michael Mentler of The Society of Figurative Arts. Michael's studio is an ideal place for a workshop, with good lighting, space, easels, materials, and absolutely splendid models with variety of characteristics to challenge the por...traitist. Michael, and his assistant, the artist Anna Bain, were always available to make things work for our comfort.

It was a wonderful group! VERY enthusiastic artists. Three of them had been in my workshop in southern France last summer.

One of them bought the self-portrait I'm holding. She had asked earlier "Why would anybody want to buy a portrait of a person they didn't know?"

I told her that sometimes people are intrigued by the character, or it reminds them of somebody they know and love or a member of their family; I have a painting over my desk of a young man I don't know but he looks like my son and could be an "ancestor" - portraits of one's ancestors being prized where I come from. And sometimes they are bought by artists who are impressed by the work, the composition, the color, the brushwork, the lighting - and want to go to school on it. Or they are just beautiful or wonderful works that the person wants to own and enjoy looking at. Ironically, she then fell in love and couldn't resist mine!

To find out more about Judy's workshops and see more of her amazing portrait work, visit her website at:, or her Facebook page at:

"The Incident"... Based on True Events

Here is a recently completed portrait of my 2-year-old English Springer Spaniel, Bella. I titled it "The Incident," and it is based off of something that happened when she was still a 6-month-old puppy. She actually hasn't gotten into my paints since then, thankfully! (knock on wood...)

"The Incident" - 18x10 - oil on linen

I had several reasons for re-arranging this painting vs. using the original photos of Bella caught in the moment (you can view those pictures here). First of all, the original pictures were blurry. Secondly, I wanted to at least start the painting from life. Now that she is a little older and better trained, she is actually able to sit for a while (she works for treats). Third, the camera distorted the perspective, making anything coming forward in the picture (such as the dog's legs) appear too large. This is something I always have to be very careful about when working from photo references.

Fourth but most importantly: composition. According to my art dictionary (yes, I learn a lot from the web), "Composition is the term used for the arrangements of the elements in a painting. A successful composition draws in the viewer and pulls their eye across the whole painting so that everything is taken in and finally settles on the main subject of the painting" ( The composition of a painting is usually what draws someone in to it in the first place. Even if you don't know much about art, you can usually tell whether or not you like a painting, and composition can be a determining factor. None of the original photos of Bella would work for a strong composition. I wanted to make a painting that is more than just a cute picture; rather, it should be a work of art that stands on its own, regardless of subject matter. To me, that is what makes art stand the test of time. The artist should have a clear vision for the painting, not just in the subject matter but in the way it is executed. This is where I've been learning the most lately -- being absolutely intentional and about each and every step of the painting (like a game of chess, I suppose) -- and I think my work is much better for it. Anyway, I really enjoyed creating this piece. Here is a close-up:


Monday, March 12, 2012

Taking Advantage of Dallas Blooms

This week is spring break, which really doesn't mean anything to me EXCEPT that my twin sister is off from her music teaching all week! So, that means she and I can spend lots of time painting together. Lately she has taken up painting again (she and I had flip-flopped majors and minors in college... I was the art major, music minor, and she was the music major, art minor). This makes me very happy as she is always great to hang out with, and she's a pretty good artist, too, especially for not spending nearly the amount of time at it as I do!

Today the Dallas Arboretum was packed, due to gorgeous weather, spring break picnickers, and various wedding shoots and quinceaƱeras... but Emily and I found a quieter spot and sat down for two solid hours to paint some of the sunlit tulips.

Notice the matching DSW totes... are we twins, or what??

We had a wonderful time and our paintings didn't turn out too bad, either. I may tweak some of the edges and color temperatures on mine back here at the studio, but otherwise, it's a finished sketch.

Aside from my plein air excursions, I am working on a number of new pieces for a fast-approaching group show at Weiler House Fine Art Gallery in Fort Worth. The opening reception is on March 24 from 5-9 p.m. If you are in the area, please stop by! In addition to some other work, I will have 7-8 new pieces. More info at:
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