Sunday, May 30, 2010

Palouse Winter Road

Palouse Winter Road. Oil on Linen. 20" x 30".

Late winter/early spring in the wheat fields of the Palouse with the green grasses starting to grow. The trees remain bare.

Since mid-January I've been experimenting with indirect painting - layers of transparent glazes over a complete underpainting. Initially I learned using small linen panels - 9x12 to 12x16 but lately I've been working on a larger scale, still using the transparent paint suspended in many, many layers of alkyd resin. To me they retain the sense of light and mystery of the smaller panels.

Saturday, May 29, 2010


Palouse Hills 2. Oil on Linen Panel. 12 x 16.

In April I delivered one of my all-time favorite eastern Washington landscapes to the show at Syzygy Wines in Walla Walla. That's Palouse Hills and you can see it on my website here. Right away I started a smaller version of it.

There are 3 reasons why I tackled this again:
1. I missed it
2. I wanted to move deeper into my experiments with glazing/indirect painting/yellow fields and this was a good image to work with, and
3. I was curious how it would turn out if I painted it this year. I painted Palouse Hills 1 in the spring of 2009 and since then I've painted perhaps 140 paintings and learned a great many things.

So my question is: are the paintings appreciably different?

Friday, May 28, 2010

Skagit After Tryon

Skagit After Tryon. Oil on Linen Panel. 9 x 12.

Early this spring I was driving a group from the High School Debate Team to a debate in Snohomish County. Driving along at 65 in the giant, rickety high school van I saw an incredible scene to the west that looked exactly like a Dwight Tryon painting. There was a row of bare trees, gray clouds and a band of cold yellow light below the trees.

Given the circumstances, I could only glance but this is what I remember.

I'd been studying the tonalists at that time, which was why the scene hit me with such force. A day or two later I stumbled on this wonderful blog post by Loriann Signori where she discussed the Tryon paintings she'd just seen in D.C.!

Shortly after that I started this painting. You can see an early version of it on my blog here. It's taken quite a while to paint this - adding things, taking things out.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Field of Gold

Field of Gold. Oil on Linen Panel. 12 x 16.

Art is interesting. Sometimes you start something and believe it will be good from the first sketch to the last brush stroke. Then sometimes a painting takes you by surprise and in doing so, takes your breath away.

I've been working on this painting since early April. Well actually, I've been working to paint this simple, simple image since early 2009. This is probably the 5th painting of this same concept - none of the others survived.

So in early April I thought I'd try again. And from the very beginning it again wasn't working. The strokes weren't right, the simple composition was too plain, the colors muddy. So I took it with me to the workshop in Texas so I could talk it over with Deborah Paris. She suggested I lower the horizon. I did. She also suggested I not make horizontal strokes for the grass. She and I walked to the edge of the field to look at the grass and talk about how it looks in the distance. I still was uncertain. She painted a demo of wheat for me (it's in my studio!)

Then I painted, I painted, I painted. Every day.

Yesterday I decided it was finished and brought it into the house. This painting literally took my breath away. I love it.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Canoe and Alders

Canoe Among the Alders. 16 x 12. Oil on Linen Panel.

As you may have noticed, I've spent a lot of time these past few months at my small nearby lake - Lake Padden - watching the canoes and kayaks. Last week it was over 60 degrees and there were a LOT of people and boats at 6 pm. This is in the winter; the alders are bare. I love the mossy one on the left.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Night falls even on canoes

Evening Canoe. 9 x 12. Oil on Linen Panel. SOLD

I varnished 5 paintings yesterday and you know what that means: I finished 5 paintings yesterday! Woot!

You know what else that means: I have room in my studio to start new paintings! Woot! Woot!

So, enough woots. Currently the paintings in progress are 22 x 30 or larger and in my tiny studio, they fall on me from their various precarious perches several times a day. No matter. I'm excited about the ones I'm working on.

Monday, May 24, 2010


Evening at Padden. Oil on Linen Panel. 9 x 12.

This is Lake Padden, where I often walk my dog. It's about 2.7 miles around the lake so a perfect size.

I started this painting while I was in Texas and is one of several that captures what it is I love about this lake.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

New Easel from Dick Blick!

This is my new easel: the Best Santa Fe V ordered from Dick Blick. So far, so good.

It has big cups - I assume for solvent - but I don't keep open containers of solvent around so they work fine for holding my brushes. It also has a little ceramic palette that is much too small for mixing anything but it's a nice place to put my mixing knife.

On the left is my old easel. It served me well for many years but it's a little shaky, and the painting tray is held up with a nail. I drilled a series of holes on the mast and then slide the tray up or down, pushing the nail in to hold it.

I like having 2 easels in my studio now. After this photo was taken I set up 2 similar paintings side by side so that I could work on them at once.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Works in Progress: Spring Comes to the Valley

Spring Comes to the Valley. 22" x 30". In progress.

Last week I took 2 paintings to Loomis Hall Gallery in Blaine for their May show. Barbara, who runs the gallery, had asked for paintings of spring and abundance. Looking around at my paintings I realized that I'm not really about spring and abundance. I thought my recent painting, Walla Walla Fields, spoke to me of abundant promises and spring. My husband thought that was hilarious since, as you can see here, it's bare fields.

I'm from eastern Washington: spring means bare fields. Yes, I do love stark landscapes.

This one (which again, is all about spring, don't you agree?) has the first glaze over the underpainting, and the first layer of sky. Go spring!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Works in Progress: Zillah Stream

Zillah Stream. 12 x 24. In progress.

I may rename this but this is several glazes in. My next steps are to add more color to the sky with glazes and scumbles and then to continue to deepen the values and colors of the grasses.w

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Mitchell Albala in Bellingham

Mitchell Albala, artist and author of 'Landscape Painting'

Last Friday night artists in Bellingham were treated to an art critique by Mitchell Albala, artist and author of the book 'Landscape Painting.' It was terrific.

But before I say more about that, there's a couple of things you need to know.

First, Mitch is an exceptional painter. You can see his work on his website here.

Second, his new book, 'Landscape Painting' is a comprehensive and much needed book on the subject and I highly recommend it. It was published in November. My copy is often open on my studio table, that's how good it is. I like to look at the images of paintings because he put together beautiful art to illustrate his points. I also tried out his exercises in things like underpainting and following his lead, experimented with different temperatures in my underpainting. The book is best described as an updated Carlson's Guide but with more information, more readable and with great pictures.

So on Friday a number of local artists gathered in a classroom at BellinghamArt where Mitch spent 3 hours discussing paintings we'd brought for critique, and walking us through key ideas in his book using our paintings as examples. I was glad I went.

And if you don't have the book: buy it.

Works in Progress: Nocturne, Texas Road

Nocturne: Texas Road. 12" x 24". In Progress.

I'm working on 16 paintings in the studio right now and this is one I'm very excited about. It's to be a nocturne, of a highway in Texas (82, just outside of Clarksville.)

When I was a child we lived in Biloxi Mississippi and when I was 20 I spent the summer in Destin, Florida. These flat horizons, the heavy air and the deeply colored skies at dusk lie deep in my memories.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Crashes Fixed! And now I'm a Mac. Although kudos to Microsoft for the great PC ads.

Friday was a big day: not only did Dick Blick and I figure out a great resolution to my easel issue, but I decided to buy an iMac.

After 2 months of threats and unhappiness, on Thursday my Dell XP laptop decided to magically turn itself into a doorstop. It stopped working and the screen turned itself blue. As if it was holding it's breath.

This was a 2 year old laptop. Boo.

So I bought an iMac and so far, love it. I'm not quite up and running with software so my photos might be a little off but this week, while I get the hang of all this newness, I'll be posting works in progress. Of which there are many.

And if you have suggestions for small biz software and home finance software, send them my way!

Dick Blick Donating an Easel! Help me figure out where!

Dick Blick rocks.
They've decided to donate a Dick Blick Master's H Frame Easel (click here to read about it) to an art school or Arts Organization in our area (NW Washington.) I just need your help in finding the right spot!

Here's the back story: A month or so ago I had a problem with an easel I'd purchased. The cable holding the painting tray suddenly came loose, crashed onto the base and broke the wood below. I spoke with Tracy in Customer Service and within days I received the replacement part from the manufacturer. However, I wasn't confident that I could secure the cable in a way to prevent this from happening again. (The photo is of the easel leaning against the wall of my studio.)

Dick Blick has been very helpful every step of the way. This Friday I called Tracy in Customer Service at Blick to let her know that I'd decided to get a different easel (Best Santa Fe V - so excited!) and she said that Dick Blick would like to donate this one to an art school or organization in our area. That's VERY generous!

Do you live in the Whatcom/Skagit County area of Washington State and have a suggestion? Please let me know in the comments below!

And yes, Dick Blick rocks!

P.S.: the lucky recipient will need to do the repairs!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Red Mountain at Dusk

Red Mountain at Dusk. 9" x 12". Oil on Linen Panel.

Some of the world's best wine grapes are grown on the lower slopes of Red Mountain. To the left is Rattlesnake Mountain. I've always called it Rattlesnake Ridge because it's such a long ridge, but my husband assures me it's a mountain.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Horse Heaven Fog

Horse Heaven Fog. 12" x 16". Oil on Linen Panel. SOLD.

This is the landscape of my heart: the eroded scabland of eastern Washington. It's not just that all my great grandparents settled the area, it's not just that I've been seeing this all my life, but rather, I have a deep passion for the enduring but subtle beauty of the eroded hills, the scabland, the shrub-steppe, the wheat fields, the sweeping skies, the great rivers.

There was a time when it seemed stark and dull to me but that time is long past. Now it takes my breath away.

I'm completely challenged by my desire to take these brown hills and show others the deep beauty. Over the next few months you'll see painting after painting of this land as I continue to push hard to capture what I see.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Walla Walla Fields

Walla Walla Fields. 9" x 12". Oil on Linen Panel.

I finished 4 paintings today which is great as I had 16 I've been working on including 2 large ones. The studio logistics were growing more challenging. Every shelf and every nail has a painting drying on it.

This is a simple one: spring fields in eastern Washington. My eye is always, always caught by these simple arrangements of fields, furrows, trees and mountains. To me they're breathtaking but at the same time I find them exceptionally hard to paint. I so badly want to convey the beauty that I see. Organizing those elements and using light so they convey the sense of visual excitement that I see in my mind's eye is my current challenge.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Daily Painting Stack

I have shelves in my office where I store the small paintings once they're dry. Because I don't see them very often, I don't remember that they're there. I was looking for a painting to send to a gallery and found this stack of small 'Daily Paintings' that I can now put in the June show. Sweet!

Along with the larger ones I've been working on lately.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Post Workshop Line-up

I took a number of paintings in progress with me to Deborah Paris' workshop to work on and also took along some blank linen panels just in case. I used those panels to start several more of my Northern Lakes/ Canoe paintings. I'm still intrigued by those images in part because I walk around the lake several days a week. I love to see the canoes in the water, and I love to depict them at dusk. The lake is always changing. I'm increasingly interested in the way we see lakes - often through a screen of trees and branches that we edit out.

The paintings in progress I took with me were mostly the images I've been working with of the more arid part of Washington. The one on the lower left, of fog and eroded hills, is one of my current favorites. As you can see I lined up all of them, fresh out of their travel box, on my drying shelves to take stock. Including the one of the canoe in yesterday's post, there are 11.

Actually the truth is there were 12. There's one which will never again see the light of day. It's already covered in a fresh application of Gamblin's very white oil ground. That happens.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig

Yesterday was a big day in my studio: not only did I return from my workshop w/ Deborah Paris, but my paintings, brushes, paintings and frames arrived home from their travels too!

Most notably, my canoe painting - above - arrived home framed in a gorgeous hand made frame from Mountains Edge Frames! Check them out here. This one is perfect for my painting. It's a dark, strong and simple presentation. I love it - thank you Steve!

And my apologies for my blog post title: this is what we've said for decades when we return from a trip. I can't help myself.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Sketch: Road into Fog

Road into Fog. Pencil on Arches Paper. 7" x 9".

It's been an interesting week, having neither paints nor brushes. I find myself sketching for hours every day. Trees, landscapes, bits of things I see. And doing thumbnail sketches for paintings. The above is a little larger, somewhat more complex study for a possible painting.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Sketches for Dry Valley

There's a valley in eastern Washington that has arresting geologic features. At the bottom is a dry riverbed, but the hills that surround it vary from tipped table tops to rounded forms with strange patterns of erosion. The scale of it all is huge. You can see the trees at the bottom of the valley in my lower sketch.

I've been sketching this valley now for days, trying to arrange the elements in a way that conveys what catches my eye while still conveying the place itself. And getting the scale right.

I'm still not sure I've nailed it. Here are some initial sketches, I'll be working on more today.

Monday, May 3, 2010

First Sketches for Columbia Basalts

These are the first sketches for a number of paintings I'm thinking about right now. This is an area near Vantage on the Columbia River that I've driven by all my life. Sometimes I've stopped and always, for the past 20 or so years, I've wanted to be in a truck so I could stop and get a pillar of basalt for my garden.

I'm in Fort Collins Colorado right now, checking out the town, visiting my daughter, sketching and planning my next 10 or so paintings. These two will be 22 x 30. I've got the linen stretched, hand primed w/ Gamblin's oil ground, polished and ready to go. With a show coming up in June, I'll be hard at work between now and then to be ready! There is much to do.

My paints and the paintings I started or worked on at Deborah Paris' workshop are all speeding to my home via the nice people at Fedex. (Plus some gorgeous frames I can't wait to use! Thank you Deborah and Steve!) They all arrive home when I do and it will be a happy homecoming all around.