Monday, December 27, 2010

Bringing the Outside In

I haven't posted much lately.  My method of oil painting requires drying times between layers.  This year I plan on painting several paintings at once.  I'll post on the progress of my paintings.

I've also decided to expand the topics on my blog to what inspires me to paint.  What is it that inspires an artist to pick up the paint brush and create on canvas what is experienced on the inside?  I've found that bringing nature inside nurtures the soul.  A few years back all of my windows were covered with shades and curtains.  I cringe when I think of it now.  My brother encouraged me to appreciate the beautiful Craftman style windows in our home and remove what was covering them up.

Now the outside scenery is part of the house.  How many times do I stop and stare outside now when something catches my eyes, such as a beautiful sunset or the fall colors.  Even Leo, our cat, enjoys the view.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Nostalgic Time of Year

Every year as we go into the holiday season, I think of the To Do lists.  There is so much to be done.  Decorating the house is just one of the things on that list.  What surprises me every year is that I get caught up in the emotions of unwrapping all the treasures in tissue paper from well worn boxes.  Ghosts from Christmases Past.  Like the sleeping angel along with all the other angels in my collection.  So people know how much I love angels so I'm always receiving them as gifts.  I think of every person who picked one out for me and how much it meant.

My daughter Jessica made this ornament in first grade.  I can just picture her tiny hands gluing the macaroni on this one.
Mr. Goober - I named him that when I was four years old.

Eric made this ornament in first grade.  I love his sweet smile.  

My Dad decided to make paper ornaments one year.  I can remember him practicing on magazine paper to get the folds just right before moving on to construction paper.

This is truly a time when we're all drawn into a conspiracy of love.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Almost Done and Dreams Delayed

Lambert Lake Twilight
Oil on Linen

This painting is almost done.  I don't want to insert any more details, yet there are a couple more glazes that need to be put on.  It's at the point where I'm almost afraid to touch it.  There is more time spent at the easel gazing at it, than painting.  I look at it from across the room to see what else might need to be done.  I've spent three weeks on this painting so we're very good friends by now.

On another note, I need to mention that our move out to the country has been put on hold indefinitely.  When I found this out, it was very disappointing.  I felt like gnashing my teeth and throwing something.  After feeling sad for about a week, I've come to realize that my glass really is half full.  My husband and I have a beautiful, comfortable, yet small, home.  Our loved ones are healthy and happy.  There are too many blessings to count, yet if I were to write them down, they would fill volumes.  

Something to keep in mind this Thanksgiving season.  Abundance is all around us.  So Happy Thanksgiving and Blessings to You All.

Friday, November 5, 2010

My Sun Room Studio

I love painting in my little sun room at this time of year.  It's not too warm, not too cold.  It's just right.  This 24x30 linen panel is as big as my french easel will take.  Any larger, and I'll have to bring my big monster easel up from the basement.  And I do plan on painting larger soon.

For now I can paint, comfortably seated.  Once in a while I get up and  move way back to study the canvas from a distance.  That's when I can see the overall picture and where to go next.

Usually I close the French doors to listen to music.  My husband installed speakers that are programed to go to different rooms.  So I'll shut the speakers off that go to the living room and kitchen.  And I listen to the speakers in the sun room.  This also comes in handy if I get the urge to paint in the middle of the night.  

Monday, October 18, 2010

Marion Street Gallery

Last month I attended an art opening at Marion Street Gallery where Susan Hong-Sammons was displaying her art.  Susan has been a blogger friend of mine for quite a while.  I've always admired the fact that she and Karen Phipps brave the elements and paint plein air in all kinds of weather, including our freezing cold Chicago winters.  

Susan's paintings are stunningly beautiful in person and they give off a kind of energy in the room.  I was encouraged to join this charming gallery with my own work and this month (last Friday) I put up six of my own paintings.  Thank you, Susan!

If you're in the Chicago area, please stop by the Marion Street Gallery.  The next artist's opening will be December 10th and should be quite the holiday gala!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Time to Declutter

This is a corner of my basement that's been making me nuts for quite a while.  I'm in  the process of organizing my basement studio.  But before I could even get at my paintings, I had to convince my husband and son to drag a bulky loveseat out.  That's where we finally found the Scrabble game, underneath the sofa:)  My space used to be organized.  Until my college age kids decided to move back home for a while.  My son no longer lives here but some of his stuff does.  Like the weights on the floor.

What to do with some pieces that are too good to give away or throw out?  Like my daughter's old wardrobe next to the painting trolley?  Don't know.  But I'll figure it out.  (And maybe start sneaking things into the garbage.)

After all the clutter space makes a cluttered mind.  Does anyone else have decluttering rules that work?  I would love to know.  

Friday, September 17, 2010

Golden Light

Golden Light
Oil on Linen

I love the light at this time of year.  During the summer months the light can be hazy or bright, depending on the cloud cover.  But at this time of year the light is either golden or silvery.  To me there is a deep feeling of contentment and connection to the earth as we go toward the cooler months.

It's time to turn on the oven to make roasts.  And I love making soups and stews accompanied by crisp loaves of bread.  We all gather by the fire when the sun goes down.  It's a time of renewed energy.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Farm Field Sunset

Farm Field Sunset
Oil on Linen

This painting has been in the back of my mind for the last five years.  I took the photo of this scene at the farm years ago and have always considered painting it.  Guess I just couldn't find the words.  Until now. When I decided to finally paint it, the painting just spilled out and over the canvas.  

That's probably why some artists say that even when they're not painting, they're still painting.  Some ideas just need to percolate.

Monday, August 30, 2010

One Perfect Pumpkin

My husband brought this sweet pumpkin into the house yesterday.  Just looking at it makes me happy knowing that autumn is on the way.  Since it was so hot this summer, no one thought to turn the compost heap in the back of the garage.  And since we always recycle our pumpkins there every year, that's where a new batch of pumpkins decided to grow.

We'll try to bring more pumpkins indoors as they mature, because if left outside the greedy squirrels will start chomping on them.

Autumn....asks that we prepare for the future-
that we be wise in the ways of garnering and keeping.
But it also asks that we learn to let go - to acknowledge
the beauty of sparseness.

- B. W. Overstreet (1947)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Lambert Lake

 Lambert Lake
Oil on Linen

About a month ago, I went for a walk with my daughter.  She never cares how hot it is.  She always manages to get me to go.  We went in a different direction from our usual walks.  She took me to an area right near our house where I had never been.  I couldn't believe it!  Here was a beautiful landscape area called Lambert Lake.  I had never been tempted to go to this area because it's right behind an ugly water treatment facility.  

Two weeks later my husband and I went back for a little picnic with wine and appetizers.  We walked around the lake at dusk and I found the inspiration I needed.  Funny what gifts are available when we least expect it.

Friday, August 13, 2010


Oil on Linen

In between painting, I enjoy reading in the summer months.  I've been avoiding long books at this time because if a good book grabs me, I can't put it down until I'm finished.  I'm not a chapter a day person.  So I read books that don't have a story sequence.  I'll save the epic novels for the cold weather months.

I came across this quote by Eric Maisel.  It made quite an impression since it has to do with why we create, whether it's baking, writing, woodworking, gardening or whatever drives one's passion to create.  

Love is the spirit that motivates the artist's journey.  The love may be sublime, raw, obsessive, passionate, awful, or thrilling, but whatever it's quality, it's a powerful motive in the artist's life.

Sometimes I'm in the obsessive catagory.  Other times I'm in the thrilling catagory.  But I've definitely experienced them all.  

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Evening's Call
Oil on Linen

Where does the inspiration that goes into a painting come from?  Sometimes the artist doesn't even know.  I think we all have subconscious memories of landscapes witnessed from years back.  There may have been a moment in time that was so vivid that it was stored as a precious sensory experience.  

I know we all do this with scents and foods we've tasted from our childhood and beyond.  Just a whiff of vanilla brings me back to when my mother was baking in the kitchen when I was a child.  Biting into a juicy hamburger reminds me of when my dad would make them on the charcoal grill.  I imagine the same is true with inspiring skies we've seen over the course of our lifetime.  

Skies are always so fleeting.  If a photo isn't taken right then and there, the moment is gone for good.  Sometimes I don't know where the inspiration comes from.  But I think that a lot of inspiration comes from some moment that was so poignant that it was locked away.  Until imagination sets it free.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Summer Projects

The porch is almost done

My husband's little side project

Jessica's farm produce - canned
Busy, busy summer.  I have two 18x24 paintings almost done.  They're at the stage where I need to do some final tweaking - you know, the scariest part.  The make or break part.  We're having a special guest for dinner tonight.  My son's girlfriends's mother from China.  So there's no time to paint.  

I thought you might like to see what's been going on around here for the last two weeks.  My husband has been working on finishing the back porch.  You can see some of the boards yet to be put up on the decking.  The powder room is all torn up and will be remodeled.  It's a bathroom that's 80 years old and SO needs it.  And my daughter decided to get into canning.  She works in the garden at the farm one day a week and brings home tons of vegetables.  

Hopefully, things will calm down a little soon.  Hope you're all having a wonderful summer!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

July Respite

July Respite
Oil on Linen

It's that time of year again.  My husband goes on his annual fishing trip with 15 other guys (including his brothers, my brother and son) up in Rainy Lake, Minnesota.  They've been doing this for years.  It's also the time of year when my schedule is completely free, up for grabs, whatever.  Last night I craved a Big Mac.  Haven't had one of those in ages, ha!  And I rented The Lovely Bones.  Great movie, by the way!

In between painting sessions, my daughter and I are planning pedicures and maybe a Mystic Tan (fake spray tan).  It's that time of year when leisure is an art in itself.  I hope you have time for some self-indulgent leisure this summer.  We need time to do whatever strikes our fancy!

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Oil on Linen

This painting has been keeping me company at my easel for the last two weeks.  I listen to music while painting and if there are others around, I close the french doors to my studio.  I love painting in my own little world.  In fact, I need to be alone when I paint and find it difficult to concentrate when there are others around.  But that's just me.

When my kids were young,  I didn't have the luxury of solitude while painting.  Even if they were at school, I always answered the phone.  What if it were the school nurse or something else popped up concerning the kids?  Now that they're adults (and my son no longer lives at home), I have the peace required to create.  I envy other people who can multi-task.  Some people can write, read or paint no matter what is going on around them.  

Are you one of those people or do you need solitude?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


A few months ago, my brother was over and showed me this photo on his iPhone. He told me it was a painting by a fantastic new artist, and wasn't it cool? I looked at it and agreed. Now there was something different in the abstract art world. Almost like a Pollack painting.

He laughed when I said that. It's the panel from your french easel! That's where I lay my wet brushes as I'm painting. I never noticed it before. But in a different context it looks completely different. It makes me wonder if we create art without even knowing it!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Following the Muse

I'm getting ready for a big lifestyle change. Over the next months and coming year, my husband and I will be preparing to move out to the country on 200 acres of property. I can't go into the details, since that would involve privacy issues concerning other family members, but ... there's no way I can continue this blog without mentioning it.

After all, I'm a landscape painter. So I'm thrilled that I'll finally be in touch with daily reference material. Open skies and land. Yes!
Here's a little gravel road leading in to where we'll be living. Is that sunlight shining on dust? Or maybe a woods faerie?
The deer decided they should run for cover after staring at us for a full two minutes. I need to be quicker with the camera.

So I imagine that I'll be posting my paintings as they come off the easel from now on. But you'll also be hearing about painting walls and all kinds of projects that come with getting an old house ready for sale. Our target is to move next year. But there are so many projects to get ready in the meantime!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Silver Springs Sunset - Final Painting

This painting is finally done after two weeks of working on it. The trees and reflections in the water are painted with transparent paints. The sky and reflections of the sky are opaque paints. In the above image, the trees are glazed with various shades of hansa yellow, olive green, sienna, sap green and shale.
In the above image here, I went back over the trees (after the initial glazing dried) and further defined the tree masses and reflections with thicker transparent paint - the same colors as above. But I also painted the darkest shadows with thin paint. The tree edges are also glazed in a warmer color than the sky - brown pink, hansa yellow and a touch of alizarin crimson.
Finally I added more glazes and made a few more adjustments to the background trees and water. This post is just a general overview of how I work. It's taken me quite a while to feel comfortable with this process, but I feel the time spent was well worth the effort.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Moving Right Along

Last week I showed the start of this painting done with a transparent underpainting. I wiped out the lights with a Viva paper towel. Since then, I've added a thin layer of indiathrone blue/white mixed with liquin. After that dried, I added a thin layer of naples yellow/white.
Here's yet another thin layer of brown pink/hansa yellow/white scumbled in various places on the painting. I'm building the layers of opaque paint in the sky and water first before I begin to touch the trees and reflections.
The above painting is a 12x12 study. It's almost finished, but not quite. There still needs to be some additional layers in the sky and water. But I thought I'd try to work on the study first, since it's more comfortable for me to work out the kinks on a smaller scale before moving larger to the 24x24.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

New Beginnings

I started this underpainting for a fairly large square format painting this week. It's 24x24. I've never painted a large square before. I think I'm going to like it. Starting a painting always gives the feeling of excitement. Kind of like going on a new adventure. I used Shale by Vasari, which is a rich, warm color with purple undertones. Anyone who has taken a class with Deborah Paris is familiar with this color because it's the workhorse of her color palette.

Here's the reference photo I'm using. I took this shot last summer while my husband, dog and I were walking the trails of Silver Springs Park. Of course, I manipulated the composition (artistic license). As I lay in various layers of opaque and transparent paint, I'll post my progress. But that might take a while, since every layer needs to dry before the next is applied.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Another Artist's Date

Every once in a while I'm pulled out of my everyday routine to go on a day of inspiration. Usually I'm not the one who plans these outings. My daughter does. Last Friday was one of those days. Jessica has an internship at the School of the Art Institute. She's almost done with her Master of Library Science degree and has a curatorial project on display. So, of course I needed to see it! While walking around the streets of Chicago, we came across the newly restored iron grillwork of Louis Sullivan. Seeing this masterpiece up close made my jaw drop.

Even though I don't like the traffic in Chicago, it's worth the trip because there are cultural surprises at every turn. And I come away from these artist's dates with a feeling that my inspiration well has been filled. Of course we needed to have a very sophisticated lunch at Atwoods. My daughter picked the place. After all, moms always pay the bill!

Friday, April 16, 2010


Oil on Linen

This painting is another departure from my usual warm skies. I'm not sure about the lack of drama. There is just something about warm, glowing skies. This sky is actually blue-green although on my monitor it shows up as blue.

But Mother Nature gives us time to rest and reflect. If we had dramatic beauty all of the time, we would never have time to rejuvenate. So here's my sleepy time painting.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Memory of the Day

Memory of the Day
Oil on Linen

My husband and I have an evening ritual. We sit in our living room facing the western sky with a glass of wine and watch the sun go down. Some nights there is brilliance and drama in the sky. Other nights, the sun is obscured by cloud patterns. But no two skies are ever alike.

I incorporated this sky into the composition from a different painting. I just had to try and record what I really saw. Nature is never stingy. She is always a source of inspiration. Anyway, sky watching is always cheap entertainment.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Edge of Day

Edge of Day
Oil on Linen

This is a larger painting I did from my smaller study that I showed two weeks ago here. I've found that it's almost impossible to do a painting exactly like another. There are always variables such as my mood, weather and what music I'm listening to that day. I think of each painting as "what was happening at that time".

A wonderful blogger, Catherine Jeffrey asked what kind of music I listen to. If you haven't had a chance to check out her blog, you're in for a treat. I swear I can hear what's going on in her paintings. Anyway, that got me to thinking that I'm all over the place when listening to painting music. Rock, alternative, classical, country, new age. It goes on and on. Lately, I've become addicted to Josh Groban. I resisted listening to him for years and now love his voice. I try to start out each painting with a little Josh.

What kind of music inspires you when you paint? I would love to know!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Moment in Time

Moment in Time
Oil on Linen

Last night my husband and I went to the symphony. I love classical music, so we usually go about once a year. There was a solo violinist who was so amazing. He knocked everyone's socks off. He was only seventeen years old, but had the talent of someone much older.

So this got me to thinking, ... are there some people who are just born with talent? What made this young man light years ahead of the rest?

I think some people discover their artistic voice very young in life and soar with it. Some people live in the moment. So I decided to call this small painting Moment in Time, in honor of that inspiring young violinist.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Oil on Linen

I haven't posted anything for a week and a half. That's because I've been working on four paintings at once and I'm still not done with the other three (but I'm close). As I've said many times before, the tonalist process takes time because of the many layers that need drying before another is applied. But that's okay. Because it's like a meditation for me.

My husband made an observation about my painting last night. He saw an artist on TV who painted a big painting in under an hour. He wasn't trying to be critical, but couldn't understand why I sit and stare and paint for hours on end. What the outside observer doesn't understand is that's when I'm in the zone. With the music cranked up in my own little world, I'm completely happy.

Art is contemplation. It is the pleasure of the mind which searches into nature and which there divines the spirit of which nature herself is animated.

- Auguste Rodin

Ha, now there's a guy who gets it.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Living in a 1924 Sears House

Since I have several underpaintings started right now, I have nothing of interest to post. Maybe some other time, I'll show my entire painting process. But for right now I thought I would share where I paint from everyday. I've shown my indoor studio before. So here is the outside. We live in a 1924 Sears bungalow. It's the Crescent model and we still have the original blueprints. Since we are only the fourth owners, we're lucky that people always left the plans.

Mr. Swanson built this house along with his brother in 1924. Some of our neighbors knew him from when they moved into the neighborhood in the 1960's. They say that he would put a smoke lamp in the window at cocktail hour. That meant everyone was invited over for one hour to imbibe before dinner. Mr. Swanson died in the front bedroom in 1970. The mailman noticed mail piling up.

But there are no ghosts here, only feelings of warmth. My guests never want to leave!
The coal chute
Original birdbath
Unfinished porch. Maybe in the spring (ha)
The sunroom. Where I paint.
Original pumps behind the garage. Yes, they still work!