Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year

Happy New Year 

Wishing you and your family a year of peace and joy.
Thank you for your support and friendship.  It is truly appreciated.  

Tomorrow is the start of the 30/30 Challenge.  I hope you will join me.  And I hope you will paint along with me.  I think it will be a great learning experience and a lot of fun.  See you tomorrow..............

Thanks for visiting with me.


Saturday, December 28, 2013

Challenging myself in January 2014

Golden Morning, 9x12, oil, framed.
Available on my Ebay page.
I’m looking forward to utilizing Leslie Saeta’s January2014 Challenge of 30 Paintings in 30 Days as a chance to improve my focus and discipline. 

My personal challenge will be to choose a different reference photo or subject each day and set a specific goal for that painting.  I will set a time limit of 2 hours or less and after the time is up, I will not allow myself to work on the painting again.  These constraints should force me to stay focused and work deliberately.  I will then post photos of the subject and the finished painting on my Blog and on Facebook.  I hope to be able to complete all 30 paintings - if life doesn’t get in the way.

I will post the paintings – good or bad – and tell you what my goal was, what problems I encountered and what I learned.  I hope you will join me in this challenge.  Maybe you might want to officially join, or maybe just paint whenever you can.  Whatever you choose, this can only lead to better paintings.

After that, I will add my successful paintings to my Ebay page – (Fixed price format with best offer - no auction, no bidding.  Free US shipping.  All major credit cards accepted through Paypal Checkout).

Unsuccessful paintings will never see the light of day again.

Thanks for visiting.



Monday, December 23, 2013

Our Charlie Brown Christmas Tree

The other day my 10-year-old granddaughter came into the house all excited.  “Come and look at the Christmas tree that I cut for you and Papa,” she said.  “ I picked it out special for you and cut it all by myself and dragged it home - just for you!  Isn't it beautiful!”  She was just beaming with pride and love.

 “It’s a perfect little tree!  We love it!” we both said.  The happy look on this sweet child’s face truly made this little tree something very special.

We have had “Charlie Brown Christmas Trees” at our house ever since our boys were old enough to go with their dad to cut a tree from our woods.  The tradition has continued with our grandchildren.  We are a close family and very fortunate to have both our sons live near by.  This little Christmas tree might not have many branches and it may be a little sparse, but the love that radiates from it fills our house with joy.

Merry Christmas to you all – from our house to yours.


Saturday, December 21, 2013

Organizing the Old Fashioned Way

I have been frustrated with all the time I spend on the computer keeping records of my finished paintings.  My inventory of paintings was kept on Excel spreadsheets and updating the information was a chore.  Last night I printed out all my Excel spreadsheets and, while watching television, I transferred all that information onto old-fashioned index cards.  One card for each painting, listing title, size, inventory number and price, leaving the rest of the card for present location and comments.  Now I can update the information quickly without going to the computer.  Cards listing sold paintings are filed in a separate section.  If available, the customer’s information is added to the card along with any personal comments.  This gives me quick access to my customer list. 

I've always kept a physical logbook of my paintings.  Each finished painting is entered, with title and size and given an inventory number that includes the date.  This book has always worked well and so should my new index card system.  The convenience of instant access without going to the computer will save me time and aggravation.  How do you handle your inventory records?  Your comments and questions are always welcome.

The next problem to solve will be working with all the digital photographs I take and the hours needed to crop, re-size and file.  Any suggestions?

Thanks for visiting,


Friday, December 20, 2013

My New Ebay Page

View from the Park, Belfast, Maine 5x7, oil.

We have been selling on Ebay for a number of years.  Mostly old truck parts from my husband’s hobby of restoring vintage trucks, and other stuff we have picked up during our antiquing days.  Cleaning out my studio one day, I realized that I had a lot of studies and small, fun paintings from over the years.  I decided to add them to our Ebay page.  They sold.  So I decided to start my own page to separate my work from old truck parts and other old stuff.  In addition to specially priced studies and small, fun paintings, I have added a few new originals. 

I use Ebay's 30-day Fixed Price format with Best Offer instead of the auction format.  This allows for immediate purchase – no bidding, no waiting for the auction to end.  All major credit cards accepted through Paypal Check-out. The response has been very good and I have sold work across the country and beyond.  I will be adding the successful paintings from the January 30/30 Challenge as they are completed.  I hope you will take a look.

Thank you for visiting. 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

30 paintings in 30 days

I signed up for a "30 paintings in 30 days challenge" from artist, Leslie Saeta. Below is an excerpt from her blog.  It sounds like a fun challenge and a great way to stay motivated in cold, snowy January.  I've attached her link below. She will allow you to post your paintings on her blog, add a selling price and a link back to you so you could possibly sell from her blog.  Your paintings can also be shared on Facebook.  This is a great offer from a generous artist.  I hope my students will consider participating.

From Leslie - 

"I know you are all swamped with the holidays.  But you need to take a moment and consider joining me for the 30 in 30 Challenge in January. I did it twice last year and it changed my art career.  You should too.

It's really easy to join the Challenge.  The January 2014, 30 in 30 Challenge is very simple and easy.  All you need to do is paint 30 paintings in 30 days.  You can post your paintings daily here on my blog to share and I hope my blog will offer encouragement for those of you who might fall behind, need inspiration or have no idea what to paint! I am doing this challenge for a lot of reasons,  Personally, I need to paint more so I know this challenge will get me in my studio every day.  I also firmly believe that if you paint more regularly you will improve your painting skills dramatically,  I am sharing this with you because the 30-Day Challenge last January and September were awesome."

Click here to register.   Leslie Saeta, Blog, 30 in 30 January 2014

Thank you for visiting,


Friday, December 13, 2013

Computer Time

I spent the whole day updating my website and putting my paintings on Pinterest. 
Now it's time for a big glass of wine! 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Understanding the Color Wheel

My Tuesday class was a review on color theory.  Painting is like a balancing act.  One weak point and it all comes tumbling down.  As you learn new aspects of painting, some of the earlier ones are overlooked or ignored.  So it was requested that I explain color from the beginning again.

Whether you use the standard color wheel or the Munsell wheel, the basic theories apply.  The only difference I can see between the two color wheels is that the Munsell wheel limits orange and expands the blue range.  Adding a bit more blue to all your color mixes would satisfy the Munsell theory.  It pays to study the color wheel to learn the relationships of dominant color and complement and their discords.  I use the standard color wheel in my classes.

Okay, back to the basics – For successful color mixing you need to understand the three properties of color.  First, decide what basic color the object in question is.  It can only be one of six colors – yellow, orange, red, violet, blue or green.  Don’t think in terms of brown, gold, peach, aqua, etc.  Then the questions –

  1. What is its Hue?  Looking at the color wheel, determine which immediate neighbor the color leans toward.  If your color is yellow – does it lean toward orange or toward green?  Another aspect of hue is temperature.  As the color leans toward its cooler neighbor, it becomes cooler; as it leans the other way toward its warmer neighbor, it becomes warmer.  (So now you know how you can easily adjust the temperature of a color.)

  1. What is its Tone?  I ask my students to think in terms of black and white.  Is it light, medium or dark?

  1. What is its Intensity?  How bright or saturated is the color?  If the color is yellow, is it the intensity of a lemon, or dull like tarnished brass, or somewhere in between?

And now the role of the complement.  Because light is composed of the three primary colors – yellow, red and blue, all three colors are needed to reproduce colors in a natural way.  These three primaries are the base for all colors.  Looking at the color wheel, we see that the color’s complement is directly opposite the color.  Interestingly, a color and its complement contain all three primaries.  Without the introduction of the complement, colors look raw and garish. The complement will calm a color that is too bright.  A bit of the complement is added to the shadow side of an object to darken and slightly neutralize the color.  And the complement is the opposite color temperature and gives you a nice play of warm and cool.  Fascinating stuff.

Neutrals.  Mixing a color with its complement produces colorful and very useful neutrals.  They can be either warm or cool, depending on the proportion of colors used.  This mixture can be further adjusted with white to make soft, colorful grays. The use of neutral or subdued colors is very important in your painting as most colors straight from the tube are too intense to be used alone.

And the discords.  They are the small bits of spice that adds excitement and balance to your painting. They are most effective in the focal area. The discords form an equilateral triangle on the color wheel with the dominant color at one of the three points.  Together these three points contain all three primary colors. As an example, if your dominant color is green, then orange and purple are your discords.

Taking the time to understand color theory will give you a good starting point. I believe color harmony in a painting is more important than exactly replicating the colors you see.  Once you understand the theory of color, you will be able to make proper artistic choices.  This is just the beginning of the fascinating world of color theory. You will learn more as you continue painting, experimenting and studying.

Thank you for visiting,



Monday, December 9, 2013

Goodbye, Sophie Dog


Today we lost our twelve year old Golden Retriever to canine lymphoma. She will be laid to rest under the Dog Tree.  Four dogs will now be sleeping under that tall pine tree in our back field and she will rest in good company. We will miss her terribly. She was a wonderful dog and our constant companion.  I know that when we look across the fields, we will still see her running through the tall grass.  And when we get in the car and look in the rear view mirror, she will be sitting on the back seat.  Sleep well, Sophie Dog.  We love you.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Sorrento, Maine

Sorrento, Maine

Brenda is ready to set up her easel.

Sorrento, Maine.  Warm summer memories on this cold and dreary December day.

Brenda Haley and I are both members of The Plein Air Painters of Maine. Sorrento is about 2 hours from home and a few miles up the coast from Bar Harbor. Maine.

Now our summer gear is packed away and soon it will be snowing. Time to light the woodstove, turn on the music, set up a still-life and settle down for some studio time.

Thanks for visiting.




Thursday, December 5, 2013

Little Brass Horse, oil 12x16

Little Brass Horse, oil, 12x16
Finished painting and setup.

Composition and Discipline

The painting is placed in a frame and set aside to dry in my studio.  As I glance at it in the days to come, I’ll look for passages that bother me.  I also took a photo and viewed it on my computer screen.  When I did that, I noticed the horse’s right leg looked odd and made a note to correct the highlight.  The correction will be made after the paint dries to avoid smudging the paint and creating a major repair.

When the painting is dry, some colors will be dull; others may appear faded.  I will apply a coat of a medium, such as Liquin, to bring back the shine.  I’ll then decide if I need to strengthen any areas with a glaze of transparent color or intensify the highlights with opaque paint.  This is not the time to make major corrections.  My composition should have been correctly established at the beginning.  Any major corrections at this time would require scraping and repainting.  The spontaneous effect would be lost and the painting could have a labored appearance.  

Most of us are so eager to begin applying paint that we neglect the composition, which is the foundation of our painting.  A good composition

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Leaving Gertrude Home

I want to continue with my thoughts from my last post.  “My thoughts”, because as I tell my students, I can only teach you what I believe and if my thoughts and techniques are not working for you, you need a different teacher.  No hard feelings.  We all see things differently and I can only teach what I believe.

The last post was about Gertrude.  The untrained student believes their painting should look exactly like the setup.  These paintings often look stiff and can actually feel uncomfortable to look at.  You know something is wrong – but what is it?

A good painting has the qualities of rich color, simplicity, strong values and mystery.  The richness of color and color harmony can be achieved by working with a limited palette.  Simplicity is another important quality.  Too many objects with too much detail diminish the strength of the focal point.  Mystery is found in strong tonal contrasts and in the play of lost and found edges and unexplained passages.  Looking at a fully detailed, hard-edged painting can be as exciting as reading a technical manual.  The answers are all there.  You have told the whole story, leaving no room for the viewer to enter his feelings into the painting. 

When I set up a still life, I begin at the focal point - the object or area that is the star of the show.  I then add objects that compliment but not detract from the star.  I can diminish the strength of these supporting players by losing their edges into shadows and by subduing their tonal contrast and color intensity, saving the strongest values and color for my star.  Anything that detracts from the focal point becomes a Gertrude.  I modify the colors and shapes to fit my concept.  To put emotion into your painting, you must have a feeling for your setup.  In class, we often have multiple setups.  It is very hard to paint something that doesn't appeal to you. 

There is a difference between being a painter and being an artist.  A painter paints the subject.  An artist paints his response to the subject.  An artist knows there is more to painting than merely replicating an object.  It is learning how concept, composition, shape, value, color, edges and the technical skills of paint application and brushstrokes all work together in harmony.  As you study you will begin to see the world through the eyes of an artist.  You will lose your preconceived notions of what things look like.  Try it – really look at the objects around you, notice the subtle color shifts in light and shadow and how edges appear and disappear.  It is a long and fascinating journey.  Enjoy yourself – and leave poor Gertrude home.

Thanks for visiting,