Saturday, December 24, 2011

Painting in the Snow!

Steve and I have been in our home state of Wisconsin for the last couple of days, enjoying the Christmas season with family and friends. We checked up on the local weather before leaving Texas, and there hadn't been any snow on the forecast. In fact, it really looked like it would be a "brown Christmas". I REALLY hoped for at least a little bit of snow... and it turns out, my wish came true sooner than I thought it would! When I woke up on Thursday morning and looked out the window, there it was: a fresh, beautiful dusting of white fluffy stuff covering the trees and fields of my in-laws' surrounding country land. I got outside as soon as I could! Now, I've never painted out in the snow. There was one early-morning painting session in Switzerland that had me a littl… Read more »


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Painting and Drawing from Life, Part II

Once again, it's been WAY too long in between posts! I'm not really sure what happened; November just flew by. I find that I am becoming more and more protective of my studio time -- it really is precious. And, with Christmas less than two weeks away, I am scrambling to get as many hours of painting time in before my husband and I make the drive to Wisconsin to spend the holidays with family. I don't think I'll be able to go nine days straight without painting, so I'll bring my pochade box along just in case the overload of food and fellowship gets to be too much for this hermit. :-) Now, as promised, I'd like to talk a little bit more about the aesthetic side of working from life. Excitement and focus of the artist Some go sky-diving for the adrenaline rush; others… Read more »


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Life Painting + Photography + Photoshop...The Technical Side of it All

For the past year and a half, in my spare time (which I have very little of!) I have been slowly chipping away at a project that I am passionate about because I think it will help a lot of people. I am working on a "Photoshop Handbook for Traditional Artists". This project will cover a lot of the basics of photo-editing, whether it be for reference photos or photos of artwork. But I am also going to discuss why I use both photo references AND life studies in my work. It is a fine line to walk, as I believe in working from life as MUCH as possible, but... have chosen to write a book on how to edit reference photos!  My hope is that with a good understanding of both, we can become more excellent and well-rounded artists, without compromising our standards. That being said, I am go… Read more »


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Figurative Painting, Ballet, and... Photoshop

Thanks to a client who is interested in ballet, I have several new paintings of classical ballerinas in the works! This is especially exciting for me, since I have been wanting to expand my figurative portfolio and study the human form more carefully. Recently, I was humbled when another artist pointed out that one of my pieces had some anatomical errors. I realized that the human figure is truly the most challenging, yet exciting, thing to paint, and that I need to study it diligently in order to avoid such errors in future paintings. If I am going to do it justice, I must know how each body part moves, connects, and relates to the rest of the whole. I began some "research" a couple of weeks ago when my sister and I went to see a ballet, and I realized I hadn't been to one… Read more »


Saturday, October 22, 2011

A Trip out to California

Last week, Steve and I went on a five-day trip to Napa, Yosemite, and San Francisco (and everything in between!). Our original excuse to go was that I had a painting accepted into the OPA Western Regional Exhibition in Calistoga (Napa Valley), so we were going to the opening reception. But that ended up being a very small part of the trip. Having never been to California before, I was in complete awe of the diversity in the landscape and climate. I knew the landscape would be beautiful, but it was more than that... it was a breathtaking display of God's creation which offered unlimited opportunities for painting! We did it right as soon as we arrived by renting a red Camero convertible and driving down Hwy 1 from San Francisco to Monterey and Carmel. That afternoon, I had the wonderfu… Read more »


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Challenges of Self Portraits (from a mirror, or course!)

American Artist magazine is currently running a cover competition featuring self portraits, so that gave me some incentive to try my hand at, once again, the ever-intimidating self portrait done completely from a mirror. Some things I learned from the experience this time around: You have to cope with the model moving all the time. You'd think that since I look at myself in the mirror everyday, I'd have my features memorized. But this time it felt like I had to learn them all over again, in this specific lighting, under these specific circumstances. The lighting changes everything! I asked myself the question: "Do I want to idealize myself or paint me the way I look, in this moment?" True to my classical-realist tendencies, I answered with both. The idealization was uninte… Read more »


Saturday, October 1, 2011

New Plein Air Sketches

I have been doing more plein air painting, now that the weather is finally cooling down. Here are a few little studies, the first three of which are from the nature preserve that is within walking distance of my house. Because the rocky stream curves and bends so often, there are countless potential paintings waiting to be created just in this one small area. I went out with my painting students on a couple different occasions and created these sketches. 8" x 6" study - 1.25 hrs 7" x 9" study - 1.25 hrs 12" x 9"study - 3 hours This last one was painted at Lake Lavon in Wylie, Texas. It was about 95 degrees, with mid-day lighting, so all in all, VERY uninspiring. However, I decided to give it a shot. At least I had fun! Read more »


Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Finishing Touch: When a Painting Finds a Home

As promised in an earlier newsletter, I thought I'd share a couple pictures of paintings in their owners' homes. This is what truly finishes a work of art... when it finds a home, the picture is complete! Commissioned portraits, especially, are often designed with a specific wall or space in mind. It's very gratifying to see the finished painting in its frame, hanging in the space that it was meant for. If you own one of my paintings and would like to share a snapshot of it in the room where it's hanging, please send me a picture! I would absolutely love to see the art in its home and share it here on my blog! Please send pictures to: , and thanks in advance! :-) The first picture features a 30" x 24" painting called, "The Young Explore… Read more »


Saturday, September 24, 2011

New Painting: "A Venetian Spectator"

Today I finally finished one of my paintings from this summer's trip to Italy. I enjoyed working on this one from start to finish, and found myself continually imagining up stories about this old woman's life, and what she might have to say if I were to sit down and have a conversation with her. Her expression could read any number of ways, from sour and grumpy (i.e., "Those damned tourists!") to thoughtful and lonely or simply enjoying the fresh air. Either way, I purposefully juxtaposed the old woman with a very cheerful scene at her window: brightly blooming flower pots, topped off with a rainbow-colored pinwheel. Of course, flowers, green shutters and pinwheels are familiar sights in Venice and other Italian cities, but I felt that this image had something special ab… Read more »


Friday, September 16, 2011

A Studio Filled with Potential!

Taking a look around my studio today, I counted twelve works in progress, or paintings that I've started within the past two months or so, and have yet to finish. Three of them were started just this week, and two of  those were started yesterday! I'm not going to share pictures of every single unfinished painting; some have more potential than others. Some will be finished very soon because I'm excited about them; others may never see completion but will instead get sanded off and painted over. As a 20-something, my life is in a stage of constant change. During this decade, there are so many things that happen: we graduate college, get married, buy a house, have kids, change jobs once or more, and essentially leave all of our childhood familiarities for the new and different.… Read more »


Friday, September 9, 2011

Preparing a Linen Canvas: How To

I've been getting a lot of e-mails lately asking me how I prepare a linen canvas, and also why I prefer it over cotton canvas. So, from now on I hope to simply refer these requests to this blog post. Hopefully this helps! If you are gluing linen to panel, that is a different thing ( see my post here ). For our purposes today, I am referring to stretching, sizing, and priming a linen canvas on stretcher bars, not panel. My reasons for using linen: linen is very different from canvas, not only in its texture and weave, but also in the way it is prepared and how it feels to paint on. Linen is much smoother, especially if prepared properly with a size such as rabbit skin glue or PVA glue, and an oil-based gesso rather than acrylic. The oil primer really makes for a smooth working surface, w… Read more »


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Clayton J. Beck, III Workshop at the Woodlands Art League

My head is still spinning from the overload of information I received at last week's three-day portrait and figure workshop with Clayton J. Beck, III  at the Woodlands Art League. I felt extremely privileged to be there and grateful for the instruction, as it was a totally new way of thinking and painting for me. Clayton Beck is, as my friend Michael would say, a "Schmidling," meaning that he studied under Richard Schmid once upon a time during the "golden age" of Schmid's teaching at the Palette and Chisel in Chicago. Beck now teaches there, and through his classes and workshops, he carries on the methods used by the 19th-century American artist John Singer Sargent as well as several of Sargent's contemporaries such as Anders Zorn and Joaquin Sorolla. Rich… Read more »


Friday, August 19, 2011

Skin Tones and New Colors

Whether showing my work in my studio, in a gallery, at an art festival, or--if I'm really lucky--in a national publication or competition--my portrait and figure work has consistently received more attention than my landscapes or still lives. While I'm really okay with that, it still makes me think about the quality of my work and wonder where I could improve. I'll be the first to tell you that I'm relatively new to landscape painting; the freshness of it and the required quick reaction time when on location are things one can perfect only with hours of practice. Still life, like landscape, is a genre that's been done time and again and there's nothing new under the sun. For both landscape and still life, only the  very best  will stand out. Portraits and figures, ho… Read more »

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