Saturday, February 27, 2010

Landscape with a Bare Tree

Landscape with a Bare Tree. Oil on Canvas. 14" x 30".

This scene near Edison, Washington caught my attention because it reminded me so vividly of a painting I saw this summer in the Getty. You can see the 19th century image here.

This is a place I'll be returning to for future paintings.

Friday, February 26, 2010

My new BFF brush!

When I was 8 I got a new pair of shoes, black patent leather. Yes, they were wonderful. I slept with them next to me so that if our house caught on fire I could grab my new shoes and jump out the window. I had my priorities.

This week, I have a new brush: mongoose. It's Raphael, Kevrin, size 14 filbert. It has a lovely taper with just the right amount of hairs extending up past the tip of the brush to feather edges just so. Just right. It has a good weight, nice length. OMG I love this new brush.

I also bought a fitch brush, a flat size 10. It seems fine, not as stiff as the mongoose, but a little more so than sable.

I've got the usual (large) assortment of bristle brushes. Some hold up well, others look like they've been electrocuted, with bristles sticking out every which way. I've got a few sable but they wear out very quickly. For example, I bought two at Utrecht in mid-January and already I believe the bristles look shorter.

I did read an interesting post on brushes on Matthew Innis' blog, Underpaintings (right here) about a company in England that still makes brushes by hand. Rosemary brushes, right here. Worth trying, the prices are good, and they have sable, chungking bristles, various synthetic and yes, mongoose.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

1 White Hellebore

1 White Hellebore. Oil on Linen Panel. 4" x 6".

I've been looking at the loveliest hellebore outside my studio for a month now. It's huge, with perhaps a hundred blossoms. This may not be my definitive work on the white hellebore but it's a start. I'll return to this again.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Alger Fog

Alger Fog. Oil on Linen Panel. 9" x 12". SOLD.
Still love the fog. This time I approached the painting as if it was fog. I painted the landscape and then glazed over a number of times with transparent gray fog. Denser fog over the hill, less fog over the wetlands.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Early Dawn, Lake Samish

Early Dawn, Lake Samish. Oil on Canvas. 16" x 20". SOLD.

When you head south from Bellingham you drive through the Chuckanut range and nestled in the mountains is this spectacular lake. It's always beautiful but I love it best in the early dawn.

For an earlier post with an earlier iteration of the painting, just one glaze on it, click here. I've been going to see Lake Samish at dawn and have several more paintings in progress. Dawn was a little easier to catch a month ago!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Lake Padden Mini-Series Part 3!

Padden Reflections 3. Oil on Linen Panel. 6" x 8".

This is the last of my 3 on Lake Padden. This is near where I park my car to walk the dog around the lake. I was there Saturday morning at 7 to watch the dawn sky over Lake Padden and observe the colors and reflections. There was just a trace of fog and a few hardy runners and dog walkers. What a great place.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Two Trees, Fog

Two Trees, Fog. Oil on Lead Primed Linen Panel. 12" x 9". SOLD.

Winter shadows and fog. Those are currently my favorite things to paint. Oh, and nocturnes.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Cherry Point, Christmas Day 2

Cherry Point, Christmas Day 2. Oil on Canvas. 20" x 16".

What can I say about this painting? I love it.

It's been through several iterations, and I'll post an earlier version below so you can see the changes. I started it shortly after Christmas along with Cherry Point, Christmas Day 1 (love that too!) and Alder Grove, Cherry Point. The one above was challenging at first. I showed it to Ruthie V and she noticed that I'd placed a band along the back, to convey the top of the trees. Great catch, so I brought the sky down over that visual barrier and softened the trees in the background. I painted the sky again and repainted the trees over the sky, softening all the edges (that's the stage it was at below.) Then Deborah Paris in our Luminous Landscape class suggested I darken the path substantially and I did. That made all the deep shadows lay down and pop.

This painting is more saturated in deep color than a jpeg can convey. So saturated that I've been lost in the layers. I wake up at 4:30 picturing it, excited about painting it. At the same time, when I paint it I get disoriented. While the surface is one skin, it looks 3 dimensional up close and gives me the sensation of walking up stairs, and thinking there's one more stair at the top. The shadows are so deep I believe they're real.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Anacortes Gap: a tale of 2 underpaintings.

Original sketch for Anacortes Gap. I visited the area in December in preparation for the painting. The other sketches looked like they'd work as paintings but didn't.

Underpainting for Anacortes Gap. It was very dark and so I sanded it down aggressively and chunks of paint came off. I decided to start a second to experiment with the same glazing, only with different values in the underpainting. (Values are the relative lights and dark.) This is now the one I call Anacortes Gap 1 and it's 14" x 11" on stretched canvas with 3 coats of acrylic gesso.

Underpainting for Anacortes Gap 2. As you can see, it's much lighter. This one is painted on a lead primed fine linen panel which posed it's own set of challenges as the painting went on.

This is Anacortes Gap 2 after about 3 or 4 layers of glaze. You can see it's darkening quickly despite the light underpainting!

This is Anacortes Gap 2 today. Dark and mysterious.

Anacortes Gap 1, after several initial glaze layers. Right away the areas of no paint disappeared and the surface became uniformly dark.

Anacortes Gap 1, nearly finished, very dark but with good lights in the trees on the right. Since this photo I've softened the tree line on the left. You can see the majority of work from the early glazes to the end is in feathering the trees on the right. Since these are thin glazes, that took several weeks, one glaze per day.

At this point, I'm not sure whether I prefer Anacortes Gap 1 or 2. Both successfully captured the sense of mystery in a road through an old cedar forest.

Alder Grove at Cherry Point

Cherry Point, Alder Grove. Oil on Canvas. 11" x 14".

This is the third painting of Cherry Point this month. I do love the long shadows of the winter sun. When summer comes, that's one thing I'll miss.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Nocturne in progress

This is the second glaze of Lake Samish, early morning. I have a lot of history with Lake Samish and think about some of that when I paint it. For 5 years I directed a Girl Scout Day Camp at Lake Samish. That was crazy fun and probably the most challenging and rewarding job I've ever had. I loved every moment of that. And by job, I mean I was a volunteer. Every Thursday night at Day Camp the oldest girls would stay the night in tents. When everything was sort of quiet, I'd walk around the camp to make sure all was well and look at the lights across the lake.

Then 9 years ago, when my husband was on the County Council, there were plans in the works to develop the hillside on the west side of Lake Samish with two or three houses per acre. He led the way to change the zoning so that it would always remain forested. I'm very proud of the work he did to right the past wrongs of intensive zoning in our most sensitive rural areas.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Lake Padden Mini-Series Part 2!

Padden Reflections 2. Oil on Linen Panel. 8" x 6".

This is the second in my 3 part series of Lake Padden, exploring the same image but with different temperatures in the underpaintings. Part 1 was Indathrone Blue underpainting, this one is both Transparent Yellow Earth and Transparent Orange Earth. I found the blue underpainting hard to adjust to as I've always used warm tones beneath my paintings.

But I was inspired by one of my new landscape books, Mitchell Albala's Landscape Painting, to try a blue undertone. It is winter in the far north.

I also favor a wide horizontal in my paintings and enjoyed the vertical of this. It enabled the tree to shine a little better.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Fountain Brioche

Fountain Brioche. Oil on Gessobord. 5" x 5"

Note to self: if you paint pastries every day, you'll be bigger. Just saying. Back to landscapes, where there's a little walking involved.

This is the second pastry I bought at The Fountain Bistro during the Great Road Trip to Blaine yesterday. Difference is, my son's not home and I ate this one. Yum.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Road Trip! Loomis Hall and Fountain

Fountain Cinnamon Roll. Oil on Gessobord. 5" x 5".

Yesterday I took a road trip with 3 very fun friends. First stop: Loomis Hall. This is a newly recreated building in Blaine, Washington and it's fantastic. It's an old 3 or 4 story building that's been totally refurbished, all creative, all green, all wonderful. The third floor has art studios, the most remarkable dance studio and an incredible kitchen/living room space. The entire building is an art gallery currently showing a great sculpture exhibit featuring, among many treasures, a bronze boat by Ann Morris. I meant to take photos and notes but forgot, so I'll go back up there this month before the show is over and report back.

So back to the road trip. On our return to Bellingham we stopped by The Fountain, a new bistro in Bellingham's Fountain District. This was recently a KFC and is now a French Bistro. Yes! It works! I had quiche and salad and we all had wine. I bought a cinnamon roll to take home and paint. I did, here it is, my son said it was delicious (he ate it after I painted it.)

I'm tossing this one up on eBay with a 99cent reserve. Yes, 99 cents! Check it out and bid here.

Next up: cinnamon brioche. Yum, I mean lovely.

Trees in the Fog

Trees in the Fog. Oil on Lead Primed Linen Panel. 12" x 9".
Why emphasize the priming of my substrate? Because it's had an extraordinary influence in the direction of this painting.

Lead primed portrait linen is somewhat unforgiving: it's slick-smooth and hard. Every touch shows and it's hard to soften the edges. Exactly the challenge I need in my quest to learn a softer touch in my edge work.

This is one I shared weeks ago on the blog right here and yes, I've worked on it every single day since then. More transparent glazes, more semi-opaque areas of sky, back and forth between the sky and the branches, back and forth between the lit leaves on the forest floor and then the lovely transparent glazes that darken them too much.

I'm not sure why I shared my sketches and underpainting of this painting last month. At the time, I was certain this wouldn't turn out. At all. A warm, deep forest floor, the small rise with the trees, the thicket of forest behind them dissolving in the fog: I had no confidence that I could convey this sense of mystery.

Now I'm starting to rethink that. I'm beginning to like the atmosphere. This is exactly why I'm learning Tonalism: to convey a mood and a sense of place that I couldn't do with direct painting. It's exactly that search for expression that drives artists in new directions.
BTW, this is still a work in progress, but it's nearing the end.

Art Websites: what do you use?

Once I made a decision to pursue art full-time, I needed a website.

Why a website?

I know some artists here locally are tempted to use just a blog. After all, it's free. But there are good reasons why you'd want a website. Your website allows clients or galleries to see your work, presented at it's best, all in one place. A blog has an entirely different look from the 'portfolio' style of a well-designed website. Your blog is a fun place for talking about your art, posting new paintings, and interacting with other online artists. But there's no substitute for an amazing website. If you don't have a good website with your latest, greatest paintings in an easy to navigate format - read on!

I have google analytics on both my website and blog so I can track traffic and see how to improve. My blog gets more visitors but when someone is looking for a painting to buy, they go to my website. And who wouldn't? It's like a gallery, check it out here.

In figuring out how to put together a website it helps to know what you want it to look like. I spent a fair amount of time checking out artists' websites to see what I liked and wanted to avoid.

Your list might be different but here's what I was looking for:

- Beautiful with a clean, clear and crisp look
- Easy to navigate
- Looks good on my 14" laptop, my 17" laptop and my tiny iPhone
- Easy for me to update constantly. Like daily or weekly. Sometimes I add a painting every day!
- Allows me to have many, many images
- Affordable and easy to set up

So I jumped browser first into research. I decided early on not to hire a web designer. I wanted to update and add paintings frequently but can't afford to pay for that to be done and didn't want to get, learn and maintain software for that.

Turns out there are a number of good online art template companies at a variety of prices. They all looked good. I spent time with, and even downloaded the free trial version of several to testdrive and upload my paintings: ($240/yr plus set-up fee) (variable pricing, about $180/yr, no set-up fee) (starts at $15/month. It looks like it comes with lots of great help) ($240/yr) ($360 yr, no set-up)

Yes, those are the prices. If you've been putting off your website it's probably because you're concerned about the cost. Your new website would be roughly 20 bucks a month. That's all. And that's for a nice one that you can easily update all by yourself as often as you like.

In the end the one that worked best for me was When I tried it out, I was really happy with how it looked. The staff were very helpful on the phone when I set up my website and, bonus! it's truly iPhone compatible. Now that it's up I can update it every day if I want. Sometimes I do. If I want to really shake things up I can change the entire look with just a click. I don't but I could. You can see my website here and tell me what you think!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Skagit Morning

Skagit Morning. Oil on Linen Panel. 8" x 10".

This is another painting that is part of my exploration into Tonalism. Simple painting, soft and indistinct edges.

One of the important qualities about Tonalism is soft edges. This is a style that followed a hard edged period in art and in contrast, the artists used an exceptional softness in their paint application.

I've always used hard edges. Early on in my painting I was most influenced by Wayne Thiebaud and I love his built-up edges, often highlighted with bright colors. Cadmium red! Cobalt blue! I was attracted to the emphasis and lack of subtlety.

But this past couple of years, when I visited museums what I photographed most were the lovely, interesting edges. The depth of the soft transitions between planes. So I'm thinking about my edges now and experimenting with a softer approach.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Works in Progress 7, Anacortes Gap 1 & 2

These are two paintings I've been working on for 4 weeks. They began the same week in early January as underpaintings for my Luminous Landscape class with Deborah Paris (great class BTW!) The top one is 14" x 11 and is on canvas. The first underpainting was way too dark. So I sanded it down. The bottom on is 12" x 9" and is on Wind River Art's lead primed portrait linen. The underpainting was quite light. I've continued to glaze these each day and now they're nearly identical!

Of late the glazing has focused on the right side, on conveying the quality of light filtered through the cedar boughs.

One of these will be in the upcoming show: 4 Women, 4 Seasons, at the Blue Horse Gallery. I don't know which one yet. Although neither one is finished yet, I'd love your thoughts on which one is more succesful!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Lake Padden Mini-Series Part 1!

Padden Reflections 1. Oil on Linen Panel. 6" x 8".

Last night I finished watching the PBS mini-series 'Emma'. Fabulous! So this is my version of a mini-series. There are 3. In this mini-series I'm experimenting with different temperatures of underpainting. No doubt, you'll see little difference!

This also began as an underpainting for a thinly glazed painting. But...since it's nearly all water and sky, who can tell? Just the hills in the background are glazed. Everything else is directly painted.

Of note, this is number 29 for the year. I'm a fan of numbers, deliverables, accountability, all that, so I'll keep you posted throughout the year. 29! Yay!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Art Inventory Systems: here's what I've tried

2014 Update
Since the post below was first published it's had over 8,000 hits. I have been glad to know that artists are looking for information on how to track their art! Many of you arrived here from Alyson Stanfield's Art Biz classes (thank you Alyson!)

And every once in awhile one of you will contact me and ask what I finally decided on. It's this: Artwork Archive.

You can read my new write-up about it here.

Also - and I receive no compensation for this or for my blog write-ups -  click here to receive 20% off Artwork Archive. I want you to get organized; I want the good people running Artwork Archive to do well. They are offering you a discount and I think this is good all around.

P.S. My original post from 2010 follows. Note that I no longer have a Dell. It crashed and died right after I wrote this post. The Dell was barely 2 years old. I'm writing this 4 years later on the iMac that replaced it.

What Art Inventory system do you use?

Now I'm an organized person. Secretly, I love office supply stores. Pens! Notebooks! File folders! They whisper sweet promises that life will be easy with them in my home and I'm a believer.

About a year ago I started painting full time. My first goal was to paint 50 paintings and do a brutal assessment of where I was and whether or not I could make a living at this (eventually!).

I painted 50 by March and called up Wade Marlow, the owner of our local Blue Horse Gallery for a critical assessment. He was encouraging.

By May there were about 60 paintings and I was quickly losing track. How many had I painted and where the heck did I put them? I needed a system.

First I tried excel and that wasn't going to make me happy. So I started researching inventory databases and discovered helpful blog posts about them. Alyson Stanfield had written about this subject here and here over at Since then she's added follow-up posts here and here. I also googled to see what I could see.

I started downloading them and trying them out, like a modern day Goldilocks. This one? Don't like the font. How about this one? The color...

I narrowed down my database needs to this:
- one entry per painting that enables me to include the image, inventory number, size, price, location, provenance and status
- can easily print invoices for paintings being purchased
- tracls those sales
- good, easy to use system to keep my mailing list
- good tracking for shows, consignments, portfolio submittals w/ an easy ability to print out lists of what I need w/ images

My computer is a Dell Vostro 1400 w/ Windows XP Service Pack 2. Not all databases work easily with all computers. Based on that system, here's my experience with the databases:

Flick!: Filemaker based software. Isn't this lovely? It looks appealing but it won't turn off on my computer. It's simply incompatible. I tried it 3 times to be sure. Nope, not that one.

Gyst: Filemaker based software. I like this (although the font is unattractive) but found the indexing a little awkward for me. It does have great advice for my art career but that advice sometimes gets in the way of the parts I need every single day. Literally. I want the inventory database front and center.

Artists Butler: Filemaker based. I liked this, but not as much as the others in part because of the clip art and logo used. However, it's just $30. You can find it here.

Working Artist: Access based software. I bought this and used it for 9 months. It works great for many things. It's fine and quick for entering my paintings, and I like the number inventory system, but once I started to sell paintings, things changed. It took me over an hour to sync a painting up with a sale and then print out the invoice. Yikes! That's a lot of time! And then the invoice had italicized fonts! Yikes again! My largest difficulty though, and why I decided to switch, was when I had to select a list of paintings for a show. There are all kinds of steps involved and it's not easy to remove a painting from the list. You seem to have to click 'selected, accepted and shipped' before it will put your show list together. But sometimes, if you're pulling more than a few paintings, you might change your mind. Aaaargh! I also found it difficult to bulk import my personal database. Other troubles I had with this one is the inability to customize the look of printouts, from invoices to painting lists. On the plus side, the new owner is responsive and helpful. It's good to have a caring person behind the database.

Artlook Software: a British company, it's 99 pounds Sterling. I tried it, but it seemed awkward to me as it's really for galleries.

Archer Artist: at $195 it was more expensive than others while doing pretty much the same thing. It says it will sync with your own website to update information but I wasn't sure how well that would work. It may even come with website hosting, but that's not completely clear on their website.

Vam-P: filemaker based. This works OK but it doesn't appear to allow me to enter an inventory number for a painting. Given how many paintings I create, I name AND number them to keep track. You also have to put in the Artist's Name for each painting you enter which is a little weird for a database for artists (really, trust me, each one is always by me...) It was inexpensive though, at $30 and other than the no number, seemed to work fine.

eArtist: Filemaker based. This is the one I've settled on and I'm currently switching 135 paintings from Working Artist to this. The person was responsive to a question I emailed. I like the internal navigation. What I really like though are what I missed in Working Artist: I can bulk import my peeps in seconds and I can quickly link up the sale and invoice with the buyer. Yay! Downside: selecting paintings for an exhibit is still a little awkward...

There's one more that google shared with me that I haven't tried:

Art Tracker is a Filemaker database for $55. It does look good.

I'd love to know what you've tried and what you find works. Do you keep an inventory of your work? If not, why not? If you do, what works for you?

2011 Update
Please click here on my blog for my 2011 update. Be sure to share your database experiences in the 2011 udpate comment section so we can all learn from you!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

1 month down, 11 to go!

Skagit Fields. Oil on Linen Panel. 6" x 8".

Yay! Ruthie V and I made it past our first month of daily paintings. I say past because I forgot to mark the red letter day when we achieved this major milestone, just as I almost forgot to start the project. It was only when I received Ruthie's email with her first Daily Painting on January 1st that I scrambled, grabbed a slice of pie, and painted it. But yes, today is February 4th so yay! We both have had some hiccups/angst/exhaustion along the way as a Daily Painting Challenge is, well, challenging, but it's a good discipline.

Two evenings ago I was walking home from the library with my husband and he said 'Well you made it, your month of Daily Paintings is over, that's great!" I said, "yes....but it's a year-long challenge. There are 11 more months." He was shocked. "But I don't want 365 small paintings in our house". LOL -clearly I need to get busy with finding homes for my Daily Paintings.

I'll be posting them on ebay more often, with a very low - 99cent! - reserve. What a deal!
In fact, bid on this one! Right here. Original art makes a great gift for Valentine's Day and my husband will be very grateful.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Another Place I Almost Lived

Another Place I Almost Lived. Oil on Linen Panel. 6" x 8".

The west is littered with places and houses my husband and I considered living in. There's an old stone house in Torrey, Utah on 1 acre, with apple trees. It was vacant in 1989 and cost just $19,000. We still drive by to see our house when we visit Capital Reef.

Near where I live there are many, oh so many houses we went to see and talk about later. We looked at dozens in Whatcom and Skagit counties. Then we considered Walla Walla of course. Who wouldn't? It's lovely. And Waterville. I think my husband has an additional and lengthy list of houses in Jefferson County, including at least one in a crazy place called Quilcene. I refuse to discuss this place with him: I'm not moving to Quilcene.

It's odd, but I have company in this pursuit. One of my best friends and I spend a lot of time driving around looking at houses and talking about houses. We consider with great care which house we want. The difference is, she actually moves and moves often. Her list contains 'the brick Grandma house' she lived in a few years ago, a house in Bellingham where she lived when I met her, and 2 cottages near Anacortes. Me? I've lived in the same home for almost 22 years. Nonetheless, these houses we considered are part of our mental map of our world. I can say: Hey! Remember that blue house at the base of Blanchard, just north of Edison that I thought about moving to? And she'll know exactly which farmhouse surrounded by 5 acres of blueberry fields I'm talking about.

So here's the view from that farmhouse I never bought, but almost lived in.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Welcome crazy early spring; here's my first daffodil

First Daffodil. Oil on Canvas. 5" x 7"

As the local news told us yesterday, this is the warmest January in recorded history in western Washington.

As of this weekend, here's what's in bloom in my garden: the earliest daffodils (a variety called Rijnveld's Early Sensation), the glorious white hellebores and all the lovely pink hellebores, the yellow forsythia shrub that normally blooms in March and Cardamine trifolia, also a March bloomer.

Of course Sarcoccoa has been blooming since the new year but it always blooms right after the winter solstice. The neighbor's flowering plum is blooming. Hummingbirds stayed here all winter and Saturday a bee tried to get into my studio.

Naturally, you'll see a progression of these blooms from me over the next few weeks. I'm fascinated by the confusion of my plants.