Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Horse Sketch

5" x 7"

I can see I don't know much about horses, and that I failed to finish painting under their bellies after I skinnied them up. And, don't be counting the number of legs. Oh, well.

Monday, January 26, 2009

San Marco Square

9" x 13"

Whew -- the more I try to do of these, the worse it gets. "These" being an exercise in trying to make the complex simple. I get bogged down. This is the 3rd or 4th, and still not getting the look I'm after. I will try again tomorrow, maybe repeat one of the ones I've already done so as to force a different approach to an old problem, instead of reinventing the same square wheel all the time.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Table For One

14" x 11" watercolor

Since I spent the day cleaning the studio in preparation for my watercolor class this afternoon, I did not get anything completed. So, this is from the past year and is at present hanging in AOPX show at the Plains Art Museum through February. I think maybe it is the token watercolor of that show. I'll work hard and make sure I post something new tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Duomo (Florence)

3" x 5" watercolor

OK, so you can see by the date that this was not, in fact, done today; it is out of the sketchbook I took to Italy last fall. Today was spent very enjoyably in Minneapolis with my daughter and husband in wedding planning activities, and then returning to Fargo-Moorhead. So sue me.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Ruth's Pitcher

4" x 6" Watercolor

I can see that my value choices on the handle have made it appear at an odd angle. The other big challenge here? How to put yellow in shadow.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Window Dog (Ferrara)

7" x 5" Watercolor

Two Weeks into this blog.....
Still a struggle, still lacking the consistency and look that I had in mind. All over the board. I need to keep in mind what Keiser/ Dillard talked about, to still the chaos while taking time to examine the small things of life:

"We go through our lives with a perpetual cursory glance. We see but we don't notice. We simply aren't used to observing things firsthand, of investigating them, and I think we sense this--that we're missing something; that we have, to some degree, become spectators of our own lives. Cell phones, computers, TV, video, 24 hour news etc-- all of this information forms the visual equivalent of white noise. It is hard to see and appreciate the colors in a candle flame when it is seen against a fireworks display-- and if we are only looking for fireworks in the first place, we will not only not see the subtleties of that single flame, we won't notice the flame at all. In effect, the flame ceases to exist to us. Direct observation and the patience it requires has become less natural to us. "

I have not been taking a close view of small overlooked items, or the quiet pleasure of that investigation. This consistency, the expected sense of purpose, is missing in my daily painting blog. The nickel is slow to drop for me, but eventually it does. I've been painting this and that, telling myself that there is a consistency 1) the act of painting, and 2) in choosing a majority of subjects from my Italy photos. Unfortunately I look for the perfect photo of the perfect subject so that all I have to do is paint it. And here’s the thing: by skipping all the usual artistic decision-making in the interests of time (for daily paintings must by definition be finished paintings), I keep ciming up with paintings that don’t cut it. Huh. Go figure. If I keep on with this approach, I will just be practicing the same bad habits.

I dismissed choosing Keiser-like subjects, because too many people were already painting candy and orange slices and I wanted to be different, to stand out as an individual. Ha. Hubris is its own teacher. Drawing and painting from life has its own built-in set of parameters and accomplishments. If the subject is mundane, the challenge can instead focus more sharply on discipline and technique. And hey, looky here-- wasn' t that my stated purpose? Not to create good paintings--which endeavor is not necessarily excluded by definition, it just can’t drive the car-- but to achieve discipline and growth. I’ve been whining about not making good paintings, instead of focusing on my purpose.

It is time to shut up and try hard. Just do it. Has there ever been a better slogan? I don’t think I’ve ever gotten past this point before except by being lucky, and that was NOT the result of concerted effort to make change. Which is, after all, what this is really about.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


4" x 6" watercolor

Something's got to change. My enthusiasm for doing this is already flagging, in a mere 10 days. It feels like drudgery, a burden. Reasons are that I am not always proud to throw something up on this screen, I want to make more changes, I haven't finished, I don't like it, etc. etc. And then I have to tell myself that the purpose is to develop discipline. Then I answer myself that I'm painting, so what's the big deal? Why post daily? Accountability, I suppose.

I went back and read over Duane Keiser's blog on painting, and noted several things of import. He used his PAD (painting-a-day) as a vehicle for sales, his adoption of the Annie Dillard philosophy of scrutinizing "pennies" (e.g., the small, overlooked things), and his comments on the sometimes perverse effects PAD efforts can have on beginner painters. I'm not trying to sell, I keep thinking each effort has to be a complete artistic thought, and I'm getting all balled up in whether what I am posting is any good.

Which brings us to the 3rd reason why I said I'd be doing this: growth. I just plain need to practice more-- more drawing, more painting, more artistic decision making. Growth. It is a fact that I have been painting more in the last 10 days than I have in several years. And seeing it up there on the screen, while still making my toes curl, does allow me some distance to edit. With this cherub, for instance, a toned wash to the left would've done a better job of emphasizing the lit side. But I like my line and paint quality just fine.

So maybe I will put in a few words here and there, addressing discipline, accountability, or growth as related to a particular post. Sorry, I'll have to use words when the images fall short....

Thursday, January 8, 2009


14" x 11" Watercolor

This is an older painting which I'm posting since I didn't complete what I was working on today. I did paint, I know that I did, I just didn't get it finished and posted. So have I broken my own rule? Not sure; I'll think about it. Hope this doesn't get to be a habit....

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

On the Easel

12" x 8" oil on board
Still trying to get reacquainted with oils; a struggle which will not be continued until after completing a few more watercolors for the inventory. Alas, Lexi and Ann will continue in limbo!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A & L Visit the Studio (Study)

3" x 5" ink and wash

They kindly sat for a small oil study, which did not go so well. Perhaps it will be completed by the studio elves and appear as tomorrow's post.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Val D'Orica Sketch

3" x 2" Watercolor and watersoluble pencil

A (very) little something to stay legal while I contemplate whether Sunday should be a day of rest. Or not.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

ScaryScape (OMG do i have to post this)

This is going to be a lot more difficult than I thought. My initial plan was to almost never include text here, but this one demands explanation. This was the most singularly unpleasant painting experience I can remember. I was excruciatingly bad, and the materials were worse. I used walnut oil for the first time, ostensibly as a solvent, but ended up getting it into almost every mixture and the result was a gooey mess. My brushes were cheap craft store variety because I didn’t want to cut down good brushes to fit into my new little paintbox that I set up to keep a set of paints here at home – my "no excuses" box. My support board had a slippery (plastic?) canvas surface.

So much for materials. Subject matter was even more of a struggle. I am a realistic painter, though you wouldn’t know by this posting. I roamed through the house considering and rejecting subjects as too complex or too much of a cloneof what I see in painting-a-day blogs. After a few hours (!) I set up a salt and pepper shaker still life, and then spent much time trying to make my materials behave. Utlimately my littel still life looked like the most amateur effort of a 6 year old. (That the composition sucked in the first place, we won’t mention.) So I messed it all up and the end result is probably familiar to some. I call it palette-smoosh of leftover paint.

There were ALL of the following challenges:
Unfamiliar and ill-behaved materials
Working small format
Choosing a subject which is historically not my forte
Poor composition (thought this might work itself out mid-painting- ha!)
Pressure of knowing this would be posted, no cheating by substituting
Painting every day

Lesson learned? Try not to tackle everything at once. Only the last two are important at this early stage. I really wanted my first effort here to be something that didn’t make my toes curl, but quality will just have to wait. As it is, at least I have incentive to paint tomorrow if for no other reason than to bump this one off the top of the list...