Wednesday, August 26, 2009


The new dahlia Touché is looking great with one of the last tall poppies and some fragrant nicotiana. This is a large (16 x 16) plein air piece for me to attempt in one day. I only added a few touches in the studio. It is vibrant & wild & oh, so summery.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Barbara's Garden

Last Monday my friend and I painted in her garden. Hot, humid, stinging bugs of all sizes, but beautiful. I feel I did not do justice to the lovely sunlit corner of her garden with two tall lilies, some bronze fennel, clethra and dazzling glancing morning sunlight. To say it was sultry is a definite of us dripped sweat all over her painting. Therefore I am calling my little pastel a "sketch". I hope to re-visit this same lntriguing scene later...maybe even during the winter with my photographs and my plein air sketch to make a larger studio painting

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Williams Pond

August 9th I wrote:
This morning the haze & mist hung heavy over Williams Pond. It is a location that I have been painting and drawing for 30 years. It is, so far, quite unchanged. This is the initial lay-in; defining shapes, values and suggesting colors. It was too wet outside today for pastel painters so I worked on this inside. I like the way mist & haze transforms space and distance and makes my familiar surroundings look alien.

Today I have almost finished the painting of Wiliams Pond 10 x 15 inch image size.

Monday, August 17, 2009

My Hummingbird Garden

This is a bright corner that I planted with all sorts of vivid plants; huge gleam nasturtiums, thai basil, portulacas, sparkler geranium, salvias, daylilies. Only problem for the hummers is the cat likes to sleep there, but the birds are way smarter than this particular large grey doofus of a cat and they are frequenting the tall red beebalm on the other side of the garden.

The drawing is my partial sketch using a pastel pencil on colourfix paper.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


That's the name of the short (but loud) dahlia in the lower left - Wowie! It's a lovely bright section of my garden and this is what I got done in a couple of hours this afternoon...dodging rain drops...even a few drops are cause for umbrellas & plastic when working outside with pastels. I will add a few foreground flowers before it's done. And it is too weighted on the left right now. I'll fix it tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Birthday Bouquet


This watercolor of a bouquet that my daughter picked from her garden in Scranton took me forever! I'm glad I didn't count the hours. This is the second day I worked on it and it's only 4" square! This happens to me with watercolor. I get hung up in the details and that's not where I want to be right now. It's on Fabriano paper. I used the complimentary colors of the zinnias & ageratum. Can't wait to get back to some larger pastels.

Saturday, August 08, 2009


Never say never. Watercolor is not a choice I ever make for plein air work...except for yesterday. Seated at the patio table facing my new Stargazer lily in a pot, I was tired. It was late and I felt I could probably manage a small watercolor. I painted it while my husband grilled up some burgers and corn. (Thank you, dear.) It's on rough Arches w/c paper and I did most of it with a 1/2" flat chisel brush (ran in the studio for a small pointed round for the masking fluid.) It has good contrast & movement and great color! It was worth it's while and it'll be in a 10" maple box frame and on the studio wall soon. I'm pretty sure it will outlast the one in the pot I'm about to feed to some delighted critter in my garden.

Friday, August 07, 2009

"Arena" Lily

Maybe I will feel better about this painting when I don't still have the real lily blooming in my garden. Right now I'm a little lukewarm about it. I was battling with a paper I haven't used much lately...Sabretooth from Canada...salmon colored. I loved the old paper and then it was discontinued and then the new one came out. I don't like it as much. OK, I'll stop whining now.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Bella's Garden- done?

Finished...for now anyway. What a fun painting this has been. Today I added a few more flowers & leaves and made sure that your eye would travel all around the garden. The reflecting ball is very compelling and I may make some adjustments to the painting if that seems to be a problem. Paintings need to settle for awhile before they are declared finished.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Day 2 of Bella's Garden

I told you yesterday it was going to be strong & wild & chaotic, didn't I? Today I added the colors. I started with the blooms and suggested foliage. I spread the colors all over, not just in one spot. I maintained the vibrant action in the painting and I had a great deal of fun doing it. Can you tell? I have quite a few layers of pastel in places, so I have had to resort to removing some of it with a #4 bristle flat brush, just in the places I needed to use a light color and didn't have enough tooth left to make it stick. Now I am reaching for my softer brands...Senneliers & Unisons. I need a day to look at it and analyze. A well-behaved painting will tell me what it needs. I think this is one. Check in tomorrow and leave comments, please.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Bella's Garden

OK, I said I was going to paint every day in August, which is not the same thing as creating a new painting every day. There are intrepid painters who have been making "a Painting a Day" for years now. I intend to paint on all days in this month and today I've started a new studio pastel of a delightful garden near Brackney, PA. It's wild and it's bold and it's strong. And it has a blue reflecting ball...something I never felt the desire to have in my own garden...but it is perfect in Bella's. I'm not even going to change the color.

I've been thinking about this painting for about a week. Today I worked out the overall structure in my sketchbook. No need for detail now.

When I felt comfortable with the shapes & patterns, I started working with black & blue Nupastels on my 20 x 24 piece of rose gray Colourfix paper. This painting will be framed with a mat so the paper is actually 6'' larger than that to allow a full border under the mat.

Next, I chose 2 warm and 2 cool medium value colors (orange, blue) and proceeded to energetically develop my abstract "underpainting". There will be quite a bit of chaotic color coming next so I want to have a painting underneath that holds it all together. Hope I've done that.

I am excited about this painting, and I want to keep right on going, but today is my birthday (Barack Obama's, too) and I'm going to a French Restaurant for dinner. So...more tomorrow.

(Still having trouble making my images mind! They 'sit' and 'lie down' wherever they want. Yikes, they are in the reverse order of what I thought I had done. If you know how to control where and in what order images appear, please comment and tell me.)

Monday, August 03, 2009

Third of August

Look what I found in the garden today. This 14 x 11 is just fresh off the easel...might get a few small changes here in the studio. Might not. Also done with a selection of soft pastels; Unison, DianeTownsend and Senneliers by and large with a few miscellaneous others on UArt paper mounted on board.

Most of these August paintings will be framed shortly and offered for sale either at my studio or by one of the galleries I am represented by: Butternut Gallery in Montrose, PA; Orazio Salati in Binghamton NY or The Portal Institute Gallery of Fine Art near Susquehanna, PA.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Albuquerque Hollyhocks

This is a larger studio piece done using my photos from May as source material. It's not quite finished, but this will give a pretty good idea of how it's shaping up. And, in the spirit of a Garden Painting Each Day in August, this is what I worked on August 2.

The image size is 34" x 14" and it is done using a variety of soft pastels on Belgian mist Wallis paper mounted on board.

There are many wonderful things about New Mexico, not the least of which is the healthy condition of the hollyhock and rose foliage. If water is available to the roots and not the leaves, they both thrive. As my husband and I were having a patio breakfast and I was admiring the gorgeous healthy clumps of hollyhocks across the street...a man came out of the cafe kitchen with a basin of water for them. In the desert folks have learned to conserve...water that has washed the greens at the sink is greatly appreciated by the roots of the dooryard flowers & trees. They thrive. The loving attention may be partly responsible.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Afternoon Delight

This is a lovely bright corner of my garden which I painted on the afternoon of August 1. It is a 9 x 12 plein air pastel done in one sitting with no studio work at all.

It's about time I got to paint instead of weed, weed, weed, deadhead, move plants,weed some more. I plan to capitalize on all my back-breaking garden work, by standing at my easel most every August day right in the midst of the weeds and Japanese Beetles...and assorted fungus spores & despicable plant diseases. I'm going to edit all that out and only bring the lovely parts to my palette of pastels.

Stay tuned.

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