Friday, April 30, 2010

Deborah Glazing

This is a closeup of Deborah Paris glazing. It's been a treat to watch her at work, from the underpainting through to the glazing. This is a beautiful painting and she's working on the grasses at the bottom.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Deborah Paris' Brushes

Deborah Paris is known for her soft, luminous surfaces. You can see her beautiful work here on her website. Her brushes are fascinating.

The one on the left is a newer one, a Winsor Newton One Stroke Sable (Dick Blick) and she uses this for glazing. The crazy looking one on the right was once as lovely and new as the one on the left. Sad little sable hairs are sticking out in every direction like a seriously bad perm. Once it's worn down like a stiff little mop, she uses it for underpaintings.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

At Deborah Paris' Workshop

This is artist Sara Lubinski at work. In the background you can see
the reading corner of Deborah's studio. Very inviting.

The light in Texas is remarkable and tonight we plan to view and
sketch the full moon.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Goodbye Bellingham, Hello Paris. Texas. Or Clarksville, near Paris, Texas. (Paris just sounds good.)

I'm on my way to Clarksville Texas where I'll be painting for a week with Deborah Paris! It's a workshop with 4 other artists and I'm super excited.

For months now I've been telling friends I'm going to Texas and nearly everyone says this: "Texas?!? Why are you going to Texas?" :) Well, I'm going to study indirect painting with an artist who practices and teaches indirect painting. I love her work, you can see it here.

Plus I think I'll find the countryside there to be exactly my cup of tea. A little stark, but with subtle detail. I checked the weather yesterday and there are tornado warnings for today. My husband says to 'find my safe place.' Will do Dan.

I've been thinking about how to pack my art supplies and gathering my things for a few weeks now. The photo above is of my panel carrier. I'm taking 10 paintings in progress to finish there. I'm also taking a few blank linen panels, some lovely drawing paper, drawing supplies and brushes. Tuesday I packed up my favorite paints and mailed them to Deborah. She has an easel I can use and one of the other artists is bringing the Gamsol and another, the Liquin.

So I'm excited. I'm excited to see the Texas hill country and thrilled to work with such an exceptional artist.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Rattlesnake & River - in progress. Oil on Linen Panel. 12" x 16".

This is just the first sketch for the underpainting, along with a wash of rose at the skyline and on the mountain. Tomorrow I'll continue to detail the underpainting, and put in the first layers of the sky and river.

The river is the Yakima and along here, it's extraordinarily scenic. Over the years it's been fascinating to watch the orchards and then the vineyards cover this area.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Rattlesnake Badlands in Progress

Rattlesnake Badlands - in progress. Oil on Canvas. 22" x 36".

I started 7 paintings yesterday! Yes, 7. I was inspired by my trip to Walla Walla last week and all are of eastern Washington. Of particular interest to me, and from all angles, is Rattlesnake Mountain along the Yakima River, south of the Columbia. This one depicts badlands and interesting geologic features in the foreground. In some areas, the foothills are lined with vineyards.

On the Columbia side Rattlesnake Mountain is very dry and last weekend had patches of purple phlox. And by patches, I mean a sea of purple phlox. We drove home via the Hanford Reservation and stopped for Dan to look at phlox and for me to sketch the mountain. More later on all that.

Yesterday was a busy day: I also stretched 3 large paintings and then sized them: 2 linen, one cotton canvas. I'll be putting an oil ground (Gamblin's) on them the next few days. I'll be gone for a week and a half and it will be nice to have them drying and off-gassing while I'm gone.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Syzygy Wines: a great space for my paintings!

Joy (super fun friend of the owner), Zach Brettler (Syzygy Owner & Winemaker), and Dan McShane (yes, that's my husband!)

Road and 3 Trees, Palouse, on display at the winery.

Wall with Columbia County Hayfields, Monterey Pines and Alder Grove, Cherry Point.

Last Thursday my husband and I made the beautiful drive diagonally across the state to Walla Walla with 18 paintings to hang at Syzygy Wines. The weather was perfect and of course I spent a fair amount of time thinking about my next ten or so paintings.

Syzygy Wines is at the airport where Walla Walla has established an economic incubator for the wine industry. It's a fantastic area, with small buildings converted into wineries. I loved it. As you can see the space was perfect for my art! The walls are hand painted and are a warm orange color. As Zach said: it's a good thing my paintings have frames, otherwise they'd look like part of the wall. So true. Clearly my work was destined for an orange wall.

Also, as you can see in the middle painting, there's a blank wall down the hallway. Can't have that, so I'm working as fast as I can on more paintings to hang at Szygy.

P.S.: the 2006 Syrah. If you can get your hands on that, get it. How to get your hands on it? Well for starters, the Artists Reception is scheduled for Saturday, July 10th, at the winery. Join us! Buy wine AND art.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Canoe 2 Finished!

Canoe 2. Oil on Linen. 30" x 22".

After weeks of glazing, Canoe 2 is now complete. As you may be able to tell in a glance looking at this jpeg, the final photo isn't complete. Something this large and this glazed is really, really hard to photograph. I'll try again tomorrow morning.

This is of a canoe on Lake Padden at dusk in the late winter. When the painting began the trees are bare. I was just at Lake Padden. It was 70 degrees and everything was leafed out. I miss the winter light already.

As I wrote about here, here and here, Canoe 2 was inspired by a number of canoe paintings by Peter Doig and by my evening walks at Lake Padden.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Walla Walla is lovely & I'm in the Whatcom Artists' Studio Tour!

Road, 3 Trees in the Palouse. Oil on Canvas. 30" x 40".

This is one of my top fav paintings that I'm hanging in Walla Walla at Syzygy Wines today. I love this painting! It's been hanging in my office for the past year and looking at it just makes me happy.

Why? Well, it's got a road, so there's that. If you've seen my work, you know there's something about roads... And not just any road but a black, smooth and perfect road. (Mars Black.) I love the composition with a sliver of blue at the top, the simple forms and abstracted fields. The three trees at the highway intersection with all the wonderful symbolism that they bring to mind. The colors. These are the things that I enjoy about this painting. And yes, it's for sale :). Syzygy Wines - it will be there from May through July. Stop by!
And - bonus - I just got word that the jury accepted my application to the Whatcom Artists Studio Tour. This is the first two weekends of October. I'm excited to participate. I look forward to welcoming folks to my studio! More on this later.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Show Announcement: Syzygy Winery, May through July

Quick announcement as I'm off to Walla Walla with paintings. I'll have paintings on display at Syzygy Wines in Walla Walla from May through July!

I'm very excited for several reasons:

1. I love to hang (and sell!) my paintings.

2. Walla Walla is one of my favorite towns anywhere.

3. I really like good red wine. Syzygy makes really good red wine.

When I first saw the tweet last week about Syzygy looking for northwest art I thought perfect! I'd LOVE a show in Walla Walla in the fall! :) As it turns out, they were looking for art for the Spring opening and more. But this is one of those lucky times when preparation meets opportunity: I have just the right amount of work, ready to hang, that I feel really good about showing. Several of them are my absolute favorites that I've not shown before.

It's perfect!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Summer Trees

Kittitas Tree. Oil on Linen Panel. 8" x 6".

I had decided in January that for me, this is the 'Year of the Tree'. I'm spending time sketching and painting trees.

This was painted with blue, yellow and that lovely shale color. No green. For me, a palette for trees that excludes green better captures what I see when I look at the tree. Without all that crazy over the top greenness that can plague a painting. Well, bad greens have plagued my paintings. Those are the ones I don't share with you.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Frozen Lake before dawn

Samish Alders, Frozen Lake. Oil on Canvas. 16 x 20.

This is part of the Northern Lakes series. I've been keenly interested in the view you catch quickly, through a scrim of trees. Like this. Especially before dawn when it's very hard to see what it is you're seeing.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Work in Progress: Canoe (getting darker)

Work in Progress: Canoe

Back and back I go to Lake Padden at dusk trying to capture the quality of the light. Darker and darker with the painting, yet with a light sky. Happier and happier is Sam, my dog, from all the trips to Lake Padden.

Work in Progress - After Tryon: Skagit Dike

Underpainting for After Tryon: Skagit Dike. 9" x 12". Oil on Linen Panel.

Dwight Tryon. Dawn, 1893, Collection of the Smithsonian

In March I drove south on I-5 through the Skagit Flats south of Mt. Vernon and was struck at a gorgeous scene to the southeast: yellow sky, gray clouds and a row of trees. It looked like a Dwight Tryon painting.

I'd been studying Tonalism and reading the extraordinary book, Like Breath on Glass, about Whistler and the Tonalists. While the book has but one Tryon painting reproduced, I looked others up online.

Then a day or two later Lorian Signori had several posts about Tryon on her blog here and here and also here.

Last Friday the weather was lovely and my husband and I went to Skagit so I could look again at the row of trees. They're lined up on the Skagit River dike, which is why it's just one row with so much light coming through them. Gorgeous. Then to Edison for Fish and Chips and beer. Tasty.

Monday, April 12, 2010


2 big crashes in the studio this weekend!

1st Crash: Blue screen of death on the laptop I use for my art business! While I was looking into whether or not I wanted to switch to Apple, sell my Microsoft stock and spend the next two years trash talking Dell, my next door neighbor came over for dinner and well, he has a computer repair business. I think it's now fixed! Disclaimer: the dinner was planned before the nasty blue screen business happened.
2nd Crash: My brand new (delivered in March) Dick Blick easel broke! And by broke, it really broke, fell apart, pieces flying around. Luckily I was behind it and nothing was in front of it when it crashed forward. I stood there like a cartoon character, eyebrows raised, hands up in wonder. My son was in the house and came running out to see if I was OK. Yep, just stunned.

How did it break? The metal piece that hooked the cable to the painting tray fell off, the painting tray crashed down, the force of that broke the wood at the base so that the big bolt attaching the wood, well, see the photos below:

Here's the bolt and below it, you can see the wood that split open where the bolt is supposed to go. Sheesh! The horizontal piece that's split is part of the base that holds the easel together.
And next to the hinge you can see the offending metal piece that somehow came off.

Luckily the painting on the easel at the time was small and wasn't damaged. I pulled it from beneath the wreckage. And now I know why my dog has declined to be in the studio with me since the new easel arrived: she had a bad feeling about the new easel and probably could hear the cable straining.

I do buy lots from Dick Blick and I'm optimistic it will all be made right.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Horse Heaven Hills 2 Study

Horse Heaven Hills 2 Study. Oil on Linen Panel. 6" x 8".
This is another of my studies to try to nail the colors and style I want to use in the upcoming series of Eastern Washington Landscapes. This small painting has the benefit of the poplar trees, which I now love. I remember when there were very few, just the occasional windbreak, back before the orchards and long before the grapevines. Today the landscape has the look of Italy, only without the charming towns but with a more rugged, somewhat more starkly beautiful landscape.

Back when Poplar trees were more rare, I found them to be ominous. Probably because I'd once memorized a poem about them. To this day I think of this poem when I see Poplars.

Southern Mansions
by Arna Bontemps

Poplars are standing there still as death
And ghosts of dead men
Meet their ladies walking
Two by two beneath the shade
And standing on the marble steps.

There is a sound of music echoing
Through the open door
And in the field there is
Another sound tinkling in the cotton:
Chains of bondmen dragging on the ground.

The years go back with an iron clank,
A hand is on the gate,
A dry leaf trembles on the wall.
Ghosts are walking.
They have broken roses down
And poplars stand there still as death.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Horse Heaven Hills 1 Study

Horse Heaven Hills 1 Study. Oil on Linen Panel. 6" x 8".

This past couple of weeks I've worked on a number of studies of eastern Washington landscapes. I'm preparing for a large and interesting series of paintings over there and thinking through how to merge the quality of the landscape and light with indirect painting. Many of the yellow paints I like best are opaque and thus, not suitable for glazing.

This was painted with an underpainting of Vasari Shale and Gamblin Transparent Earth Yellow. Over that I layered Vasari Naples Yellow (I have a really big, to-die-for tube of the stuff) and Transparent Earth Yellow mixed with a translucent Holbein gray. Some layers were toned down with the Shale to add a dusty quality. After all, what we remember as 'yellow' is often a brown. Oh, and I used a bit of that gritty Williamsburg Brown Ochre in this too.

The sky is a mix of Williamsburg T-Z White, Gamblin Indanthrone Blue, Gamblin Manganese Blue Hue (sadly the real stuff is too toxic), the Naples Yellow and Holbein Cad Yellow Lt. Over that I glazed w/ a bit of Hansa Yellow light, to blur the edges.

Yes, the edges are blurred: my camera refused to focus, try as I might and I had to switch to manual.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Canoe in the Alders: Underpainting

Canoe in the Alders: Underpainting, part 2

This is the third in my series of canoes at Lake Padden. Lately everytime I'm there so are the canoes. My husband tells me it's all the same guy, named Wallace or something but that's just silly.

These canoes do move fast and I love the wake they leave behind. This painting is 16" x 12" and is a linen panel (350DP from Wind River Arts - their heaviest thread with an alkyd priming. I like it so far.) The paint is Vasari Shale and what you see here is the second, more detailed underpainting. The first one was a light turp wash to roughly establish the layout on the panel. Next I'll let this dry and then begin adding the transparent color over the underpainting, probably adding in a little more detail with shale after I see a couple layers of color.

Right now I'm excited about the old tree on the left: it will have a chartreuse moss on the right side. Cool!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Canoe 2 painting in progress

Canoe 2 - in progress and on the easel on the left and a closeup of the texture on the right.

I've been back out at Lake Padden in the afternoon and towards dusk lately to capture the irregular and somewhat obscure pattern of alders in winter.

The texture is notable to me because it's linen, hand primed with an oil ground. As  much as I disliked using an oil ground, I love painting on it so it's a surface that's here to stay. Because I primed it, the surface is a bit like a smooth plaster: slightly irregular but polished and lovely.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Meet the neighbors: the Chickadees

Last winter I cleaned out the basement and found an old bird house that had been stored away for several years. So I hung it on a low branch of the paperbark maple just outside my studio door.

Today I noticed a pair of chickadees flying in and out with grasses and sticks so it looks like there will be some nesting action. They don't seem bothered that I'm nearby.

I've always valued these little birds. I have an organic ornamental garden with extensive roses: shrubs, climbers, china, hybrid musks, polyanthas, the works. These little brown guys seem to eat the aphids. Plus, they managed to always escape our blood-thirsty cat Chester. Brilliant little things and I'm excited they're using the bird house!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Yellow Tulip

Yellow Tulip. Oil on Gessobord. 5" x 7".

This is a quick study of a yellow tulip from my garden. I was experimenting with my new and fabulous Rosemary & Co. brushes to see how they'll do with direct painting and heavy paint. They were perfect.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Works in Progress: Canoe Glazing

Canoe with glazing

This is the smaller version of my two Canoe paintings, in progress. After the underpainting was completed and dry, I began to apply layers of resin mixed with transparent oil paints to start adding the color. Since this is a painting of a canoe on Lake Padden in the early evening, there will be many more layers before it achieves the dark quality I'm looking for.