I’ve been going through my sketchbooks to get ideas for a series. I keep noticing that my sketchbooks are filed with images of people. I’m beginning to explore emotion through figures and faces. I don’t know why it took me so long to see that that is what interests me. But here we go! 

My drawing skills are more developed than my painting skills. I a going to be trying to turn some of my more captivating drawings into paintings. This is a tonal sketch of my drawing. I may use it as reference for a larger painting or use it as a beginning of a grisaille. 



This has come along nicely. It’s not quite finished. I still need to model the clothes a bit more and tweak a few things. But I don’t want to over work it. It captures something of the essence of the person.

It’s ironic… today, I took my half French easel into the yard. I really struggled with the landscape and made such a muddy mess. Then I came inside and was able to make something I like. Hmmm. 

April painting – update


This month, my drawing group got back together for 3 Saturday sessions with the same three hour pose each week. There was just enough interest for it to fly, which amazes me because it is only $20/session. That’s such a good price because there is no instructor fee. 

I brought a really big canvas because… live model… 9 hours… I don’t want to be constricted with a small canvas. Plus, I’d had a 24×36 tucked away for several years. I couldn’t use it in my small studio. I couldn’t get far enough away to see it. It seemed to be the right proportion for a figure, so I thought I’d try it.

This is what I got from the first session.

The second session it was important to correct some of the figure imbalances and focus on coverage. Coverage was huge for me this session. By the end, I was working hard enough that my heart was pumping. I haven’t worked this large for a long time.

By the end of the second session, this is where I am.

These are the issues I’m thinking about for the final session on Saturday: 

Mostly it’s the background. (But the figure isn’t complete either.)

The upper portion is too dead. I think I need to find a way to incorporate some green reflected light from the stool cloth.

The shadow of the model on the right side is too dark, but I like that it causes her left leg in shadow to come forward. I think it needs to be lighter though.

I feel that the entire background is too close in tone to her flesh. I may want to change the key. Up or down? I can see the rationale for either.

Also I think I want to cool down the color either way. That should help the background recede. I’m using a warm/cool purple/yellow palette…

I’d really like to finish it on Saturday since that’s our last session. It will help maximize time to have a plan. I’d appreciate any feedback on these issues.

This is what I wound up with. There wasn’t enough time to do much to the figure after dealing with the background issues. I sincerely appreciate the feedback as it helped confirm what I was thinking.

Life drawing 3/12


It’s been a rough winter. My regular drawing group stopped meeting every week. I’m out if practice and have a lot going on. But I did join the Woodstock School of Art and have started life drawing sessions there. I’m still out of practice, but I got something I liked a bit today. 

Animal project

becoming, biology, Oil, Painting

The next show at the art society is a collaborative one. Members need to ask a non-member to either do a collaboration or to hang their pieces side by side.

I asked a woman that teaches on my team at the school because I know she’s an artist too. It turned out that her daughter is also an artist so we are all working on a piece together. 

She picked animals/kindness and animal rights as the topic. I don’t frequently paint animals except for my dogs, but I thought it would be fun to try. I had the idea that we should work on individual canvases and fasten then together at the end because it would allow us to each work at our own pace. 

At this point, I have 4 6×6 paintings of animals that are either being farmed or losing habitat. I also have a heart canvas to go in the middle. The other artists should each be supplying 2 6×6 animal paintings for a total of 9 canvases. They will be fastened into a 3 canvas by 3canvas square. The final dimensions should be 18×18. 

Here are my paintings. 

I’m excited to see this thing come together!

Tulips, lilies and a banana 

becoming, biology, Oil, Painting, Still Life

I’ve been working on a more subtle color palette. Purples and yellows are difficult.

I went to the store and was able to get reduced price tulips. The clerk told me she couldn’t sell them for someone as a gift, but since they were for artwork she could give me a really good deal. I wanted yellow so that was great. The white lilies make the yellow pop a bit sound got those too…

First I did a 5×7 black and white study.

Then a color one. I completely lost the color in the background. It is the right tone, but too grey.

Then I scaled it up paying special attention to the background colors. The size is 11×17. 

My work has been taking longer due to the new process, but the pieces are more fleshed out. It’s a lot less stressful to know what I’m doing when I’m looking at  the bigger the blank canvas. I’m able to be freer with the work because I am more confident in my vision too.

This isn’t quite done yet. The background darks need to be deepened and the lights need more brushwork. I don’t want to over cook it, but it’s pretty far along… I’ll repost when it’s finished.

Three flowers 

becoming, biology, Oil, Painting, Still Life

This piece is close to finished. I have been working on studies from thumbnails in order to get the composition and colors the way I wanted them.

This piece was really designed to test the process. I found that I got to paint almost as much. I have several small studies and a large finished piece as a result. I think the finished piece is stronger than it would have been otherwise. The studies allowed me to try different things with minimal risk. This allowed me to be bolder in the finished piece. 

I still might like to sit down and paint from scratch, but this process is valuable and I’m glad to be using it again.


becoming, Sketches

So I am starting a new piece. Rather than jump right into the painting, I decided to follow my plan to do thumbnails sketches first. This will be followed by a color study and then I will work the final piece. 

I’m so glad I did this. Even just from the thumbnails I can tell the piece will be better. 

This is the first one. It is what I would have painted. 

There were a few I tossed out, but here’s the third.

And the fifth.

I was pushing myself to do six. I had planned for a 14×18 canvas, but after doing the thumbnails I thought I should try a square. 

This one is the sixth.

I may do studies for #2, 5 & 6. 

Maybe even #1. It’s not so bad, and a good reference point to go with the series. I am so excited about this. This new process has already blown my work out of the water and I haven’t even set brush to canvas. Sure there will be challenges, but the composition of these pieces is stronger, so no matter what happens with the rest of it, the pieces will be stronger too.

Plus, I won’t have to be struggling to find a subject for a while… I’ll post updates as the work comes along…

Tree in field 

becoming, Drawing, Landscape, Oil, Painting, trees

This is entirely from my imagination. Here’s my sketch

I wanted to keep this light. Kind of like the paper but I hadn’t planned my color scheme before I started painting.

At this point I like it, but it was not finished. That was more obvious in person than from the photo. I do need to step away from my work more and earlier. That’s a challenge in a studio as small as mine…

This version was too much the same tone. I worked it a lot from here. Scraped off the tree.. Did a bunch. It didn’t improve it much considering all the work I put in.

I learned a ton from this piece even though it didn’t come together that easily for me. I really should have done a color study after the sketch and had a better handle on my intended palette. I gained somethings and lost some as I finished it. 

Maybe if I do the color studies to bridge between the sketch and the final piece, I’ll be able to keep it looser and it will actually be finished. I’m excited to try a new workflow process. I definitely need to be doing more before jumping into the painting. And I think I have some ideas.

Next I’ll be working on a cooperative piece relating to animal rights with another artist I know. I’m excited to try my new workflow on the joint piece to see how it goes. Good habits go a long way! Now to clean my brushes…