Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Home Alone (Trixie)

This is an older painting, but since Trixie is the reason I couldn't paint today, I thought I would post it. Trixie (the sheltie you see here) gives me this look everytime I leave her home to go out somewhere...hence the title.

Today, Trixie had to go to the vet unexpectedly, due to an injury to her paw. She will be fine, but I was so preoccupied with my little dog and her bandaged foot, I couldn't get anything done!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Maestro - 7" x 7" Pastel

After painting lots of flowers and dogs lately, I was really in the mood to do a figure today. I really enjoyed painting this, which is based on a photo of Zubin Mehta of the Israel Philharmonic. Without rights to the photo, I cannot offer it for sale, and am probably breaking some law just by displaying it here.

The reason I chose this photo(other than the fact that it is a very cool image) is that I was intrigued by the idea of doing a figure clothed in black against a black background, I wanted the challenge of doing hands (uggh!) and his facial expression, and thought it was a good opportunity to play with lost edges. The overall gesture came out well I think, but I couldn't quite get the facial expression I was after. However, it was a good exercise.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Wildflowers - 12" x 15" Pastel

Spent a few hours finishing this painting, trying not to overwork it and to maintain the freshness that it had the other day. I am happy with it.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Wildflowers - Lisa's Daisies - Pastel WIP

I started this today and just completed the initial block-in; I hope to finish tomorrow, stating the flowers a little more definitively yet keeping the overall feeling loose.
The inspiration for this painting was the fence at my neighbor's house, specifically the yellow daisies against the blue shadows on the fence. Love that color contrast, hope it comes through on the finished painting.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Sun on Celadon Vase - 9.5" x 9.5" Pastel

I really like the way the afternoon sun hits this vase that I have in my living room, it makes such pretty reflections and a great shadow pattern on the wall, too. This is a study for a larger painting I am planning. It was fun to paint quickly today, which I had to do since I was pressed for time. Also, to get a painterly look I tried something new...I used styrofoam packing peanuts as little "brushes", to smear the pastel every so often. I had read about this technique but never tried it, and will most likely use it again. It worked great. Overall, the colors are a bit more intense than I had planned, but I kind of like it!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Little Moe (Poodle) - 11" x 14" Pastel Pet Portrait

This was a recently commissioned portrait of a little miniature poodle mix named Moe. I actually painted him twice...first in a more formal pose, and then in a pose which I felt captured his personality better. The owner liked both, while I was more partial to the version with Moe leaning on his paws.

I also got to try a new paper for this painting, Hannemuhle velour. I read about it on another artist's website; it has a very velvety surface, kind on like the paint on velvet paintings from way back when. I liked the surface very held the pastel nicely, and had a softness that I think lends itself to creating the soft look of fur. I will definitely use it again for similar subjects...although I don't think you could get the hard edges you might want for other subjects.

Friday, June 15, 2007

House on Dune Road ( 17" x 22" Pastel, by Commission)

It has been a long time since I last posted; but in the spirit of the Daily Painters challenge for the next month, I am committing to doing a daily painting four days out of seven over the next month, keeping the remaining days for commissions and life in general. It will be challenge with kids home, but we'll see how it goes!

I painted quite a bit this past week, completing two commissions. This painting is of a beautiful beach house in Westhampton, which will be a Father's Day gift to the owner from his family. I loved doing this painting...I guess painting the beach is the next best thing to being there:)

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Biker in Florence WIP - 8" x 10" Pastel

Working on this little vignette of a small street in the shadow of the Duomo.

Tuscan Alley

Worked more on this scene, not sure which is the best view, close in (posted yesterday) or further back. Depending on how it is cropped, the painting can be 11"x14", or 14"x18". Decisions, decisions!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Tuscan Alleyway - WIP (11" x 14" Pastel)

A scene I am currently reworking. May make scene a little taller to show more of the buildings on each side; figure proportions will be tweaked. Sky will be developed for some interest, and highlights will be added to enliven the scene.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Landscape Attempt

For the life of me, I can't do a satisfactory landscape. I tried to do a scene with a dramatic sky reflected in water; that was the easy part. The backlit trees and rocky islands were(and are) the problem. I think the problem is that there is an interesting pattern of shapes in the sky and water, but the shapes of the land and trees are kind of clumsy. Unfortunately, I couldn't figure out a more appealing design. So, after a ridiculous number of hours, I gave up! Incidentally the two photos are due to the fading light in my studio(top), supplemented by very unnatural lighting(bottom).

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Chianti Classico II (Rooftop in Tuscany) - 12" x 15" Pastel

Today was a day for fixing up a few older paintings prior to framing them for an upcoming show. This one needed the lights brought up a bit.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Girl with Flower WIP - 11 x 14" Pastel

I saw a little girl enjoying the flowers at my local flower and vegetable market, but at the time I didn't have my camera handy to capture the image. Then coincidentally, I found this photo in the Wet Canvas Reference Image Library, which reminded me of that original moment. The top one is the finished painting, the bottom is the version I posted originally. Not sure if I improved it, but I do like her sweetness.

Friday, March 30, 2007


Six months ago, when I started this blog, creating a complete new painting everyday was my original goal. I was inspired by the daily painters I encountered online, and I still admire this group immensely. Becoming a member of an online artist community has also been extremely rewarding. I really enjoy our exchange of ideas about painting and life.

For me, however, it is time to change and redefine my goals and the purpose of this blog. Painting everyday, or as close to it as I can manage, has been a good discipline, and is still my goal. But I have not enjoyed the rush to finish a painting by the stroke of midnight,like some artistic Cindarella, and I need to start creating some larger works for shows and the like.

I do enjoy keeping the blog, as a visual record and written diary of my efforts, and so I will continue to update it when I have something new to post.

Onions, Garlic and Scallions - 18 x 24" Pastel

Today I spent my painting time finishing the Bar Mitzvah portrait(see below), so I am posting an older still life that I like alot. Had trouble taking the photo, since it is under glass and I couldn't eliminate the reflections, but it gives the general idea.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Bar Mitzvah Portrait - Done!

Finished the portrait exercise I set out to do. I had forgotton how painstaking portraiture is...unlike painting landscapes, stillifes or even pets, there is no room for error. Unless you're Picasso, the nose, eyes and ears, etc. have to end up exactly where they should be, and that requires a level of precision I just don't enjoy. Bottom line - I learned that I really don't want to make a business of doing people portraits. Despite the problems, however, this was a useful exercise.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Portrait WIP

First day painting in almost three weeks, and boy am I rusty! Anyway, I began this portrait as an experiment. I wanted to see if the idea of a a Bar Mitzvah portrait would have appeal as a silent auction fundraiser for my synagogue. More time is needed to bring this to completion, however I am really struggling with the overall likeness, the skintones, and the background. (Have I left anything out?)To me, besides a good likeness, a successful painted portrait must have a beauty and character that the photo reference does not have. At this point, this attempt is still pretty rough, and it is unclear to me how it will turn out. However, usually by this stage I feel pretty excited ...let's just say with this one, unless I get very lucky, I am not optimistic.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Clancy and Chloe (Two Schnauzers)

I had posted this previously and then taken it off my blog, so as not to spoil the surprise, but now it is safe to post. This was commissioned as a gift for a couple of doglovers. I recently learned that they were both surprised by the gift and happy with the likeness, which made me happy.

After about three weeks of not painting, I am very happy to be back!

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Still Life in Blue and Orange - 18" x 24" Pastel

Today I went to my Sunday sketch class, where we had an incredible model whose body was a cross between the Venus de Milo and the ancient Venus of Willendorf. It's funny how by today's standards, no one would consider this ample, voluptuous woman beautiful, but in a different time she would have been a goddess. Anyway, for some reason, my efforts at sketching her just got worse with each pose, so I don't have anything worth posting, although I wish I did, because her curves were amazing. Instead, I am posting a still life that I did a while ago, which I have always liked. The complementary colors really pop.

On another note, I am putting a freeze on my feed to the Daily Painters site for the next three weeks. With several projects to work on, and some travel plans, doing a daily just won't happen with any frequency. I will update my site with WIP instead, as things progress.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Pasture (Horses in Mist) - 11" x 14" Pastel

This is another painting based on a photo from the Wet Canvas Reference Image Library. It is really a painting about mist and fog, which is what captured me about this scene.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Spring Foal - 7" x 11" Pastel

I walked this morning with a neighbor whose daughter rides horses...well, one thing led to another, and I was in a horsey mood! This little spring foal was done from an image I found in the Wet Canvas Reference Image Library.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Sailing (Red and White Sailboat) - 18" x 24" Pastel

No time for a I thought I'd post a larger painting today. This scene was a composite of several different reference photos; one with a really cool sea/sky, another with this very beautiful red and white sail catching the wind, and yet another with the people on the boat deck. The sea/sky reference was in black and white, which freed me up to be very inventive with color, yet still maintain the values in the original photo, and that part of it was pretty successful, I think. I named my little invented boat the "Trixie", after my dog...which is as close as I'll ever come to naming a boat. I'm strictly a landlubber.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Equal Time (Cat Portrait ) - 9 x 12" Pastel

This portrait of my cat Mooshie was sitting in the unframed pile; today I added some finishing touches and framed it, for another silent auction I am donating to. I hope that participating in these charity events leads to some new commissions.. time will tell!
Also, with this painting, I figured out how to photograph something under glass without getting reflections, which is nice to know when you need a photo of something already framed. All I did was position the light source off to the side at a 45 degree angle--I can't remember where I read that, but I tried it and it worked!

Peeled Orange (Study in Pastel) - 8" x 10" Pastel

Just a quick study to try to use up some pastel paper samples I have...second time using it, and it is so toothy, I can't stand it. For instance, note the difference in the grain of the paper between this painting and the cat(above). I guess some pastel artists like when the paper grain is so rough, but I prefer a smoother surface. The great thing about the Wallis paper is despite having a finer texture, it holds lots of layers. Well, I have a bunch more of this sample paper to use up...but I have a feeling it will be three strikes for the the new Richeson paper, and back to Wallis. Loved doing the peeled orange subject, may not be original, but it sure was fun.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Springtime Rider- 16" x 20" Pastel (Plus detail view of Rider)

It was a warm spring day, trees in bloom, when horse and rider come ambling down this path towards me in lovely Bedford, N.Y...A Kodak moment if there ever was one! I painted this a while ago, but a few things had always bothered me about it. I needed to borrow it's frame for something else, and once out of the frame, I decided to fix it up today. Hope you like it!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Winter Landscape

I tried out some new paper today (a free sample of some new Richeson pastel paper, but it was so "toothy" that I really didn't like it). I also tried to do a winter scene from my recent trip out West. I know that when you want to improve at something you must keep practicing...but these landscapes are going to do me in. Now that I see this scene posted, I see that I should really have made the more distant mountains lighter in value, to try and get an atmospheric effect...but I hate the paper so much, I think I will just quit.

Sunday Sketch Class - 25 minute pose

Did a life drawing sketch class today. This is the only sketch that had any "life " to it (what a bad pun!);I wish I had had more time to develop it, but it was only a 25 minute pose.

NOTE:  there appears to be a broken link to the image and it is appears to be gone forever:(

Friday, February 23, 2007

Jeme's Bench - 10" x 12" Pastel

My friend has a lovely little bench tucked away in a clearing under some trees in her yard...the perfect little place to curl up with a book on a lazy summer morning. This is how it would look if she decided to plant an English Garden around it. During our neighborhood "powerwalks", Jeme and I often talk about what other people could to make their property prettier; today I decided to style her little bench.
About the painting itself, I tried something new...I did four thumbnails of different layouts, and I think that really did help me correct some design issues before starting. Landscapes are still not my forte, but this one was fun!

Trixie - Pastel (NFS)

I had done this painting of my dog Trixie a while ago, but had never finished or framed it. Today I added some finishing touches, and then framed it to display at an upcoming silent auction/fundraiser in my community. I am donating a customized pet portrait for the winning bidder's pet, all for a good cause. This one will be displayed as an example, alongside the reference photo that I used. Hope it bids up to a nice amount of money for the Horace Greeley Scholarship Fund!

Better Than Botox (Self-Portrait)

I was away skiing for a week or so--or rather, my family did the ski/snowboard thing, and I brought my sketchbook and pencils. This little self-portrait was so much fun...mainly because whatever nature and the past 50 years etched onto my face, my little kneaded eraser was able to take away! No frown lines, a firmer jawline...cheaper, better, and easier than botox!

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Empanada Lady (with Red Hat) - 5" x 7" Pastel

Saw this lady in a farmer's market on a recent trip to Florida. With this painting I feel like I finally broke out of a rut I've been in; I was going for more color and contrast than was actually in the reference photo, and I am pleased with the way it turned out. I hope to do a few more scenes from that market. By the way, it was 80 degrees and sunny last week down there (as opposed to 20 degrees and chilly up here)--no wonder so many of us Yankees move South!

Friday, February 09, 2007

Fisherman Statue - 7" x 10" Pastel

I had limited time to paint today, which called for a quick painting with little or no set-up...probably a good thing, after the overworked painting I posted yesterday. This is the result, not a masterpiece but good practice and more satisfying than yesterday's effort.

This statue has an interesting history. I bought it about 25 years ago, while wandering some antique shops in Hong Kong. This little figure caught my eye, and I decided that such an interesting and unique statue would be the perfect keepsake from my trip, so I bought it. Turns out, I saw that very same statue in every other "antique" store I went into! It is the Chinese equivalent of a Hallmark store figurine, and there are thousands of them out there...for all I know, you might even have one (but I still like it).

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


I did what I said I wouldn't, the look I liked so much yesterday is sadly gone. Well, as Scarlet famously said, "I shan't think about that today, I'll think about that tomorrow." On that note, I will attempt to fix it...tomorrow.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Landscape Commission WIP

Today I started work on a landscape that I have been commissioned to do. The place is an island in Northern Canada, and specifically a particular rock and tree on that island, that has deep meaning to an individual that I know. The plaques visable on the rock are tributes to this person's grandparents, whose ashes were scattered there. I love the wildness of the place, especially the way the trees grow; they are so windblown but somehow resilient enough to cling to the rocks and root themselves in this unforgiving environment.

I only blocked in the painting and worked a few hours on it today, but I had forgotten how much I like the result when I do an underpainting in complementary colors. I think the key here will be to give an impression of the wildness of the environment, without overworking it. We'll see how it ends up! I plan to finish it this week.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Le Jardin de Roi (Cafe Scene), Tuscan Sunflowers, etc., Giclee Prints

Well, I'm going on a short trip, and won't be able to paint for a while. Just thought I'd post a couple of larger paintings of mine, which are available in giclee prints and were painted in a warmer season, to warm up those cold February days in the Northeast!(Incidentally, the scans all seem to have a blue cast to them...not sure why. I'll have to figure this out on my return.)

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Hilly - Australian Shepherd Pastel Pet Portrait

This experiment in painting a black dog was so difficult! After my initial block in, I started to feel like she was looking a little like "Blue" from Blue's Clues...that is to say, too blue/violet. I decided to regroup, warm up the darkest shadows, treat the highlights as a pale grey/blue, and use shades of gray/navy and a little siena for the midtones. Finally, made the background a more neutral taupe. And I was so worried about color, I realized rather late in the game that I wasn't getting a great likeness. Anyway, not a very satisfying outcome, but the best I can do. Lisa, hope you like it!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Black Dog (Work In Process - Pastel)

I decided to try painting a black dog today, to see the range of colors that could be used without looking garish and without it looking, well, just too black. I only worked on this a short while -- plan to finish it tomorrow. Hopefully it will turn out to be a nice portrait.

There are several unanswered questions at this stage...least of which is background color, but also color of the fur, highlights, etc. This dog is certainly more of a challenge than my Sheltie, with her colorful coat of brown, tan, black, grey and white--there are so many colors, figuring out a palette is a no brainer. Well, they say every painting is a learning experience...ain't it the truth!

Incidentally, this is my friend Lisa's dog Hilly (short for Hillary, named after Hillary Clinton, I think), an Australian Shepherd who is a big, sweet mush of a dog, except for her habit of hunting small animals. More than one little creature met their untimely end due to Hilly's hunting prowess. But her greeting is the best...wagging her little stub of a tail like crazy, and rolling over for a belly rub. And notice her distinctive ears; one up, one down. She's one of my faves.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Blood Oranges - 8" x 11" Pastel

Saw these pretty blood oranges in the market today. They look like oranges on the outside, except the peel is slightly redder. When you cut them open, they are a bright, deep red. With a name so full of drama, who could resist?

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Flowers Pots in Tuscany - 12" x 18" Pastel

I started this painting last Tuesday and worked on it a few hours here and there over the past week, so technically this is not a daily painting. I just haven't had the time to paint for long stretches with any consistency, and this turned out to be a more ambitious undertaking than I thought. I think I learned that I really don't like such a busy subject, but it was a good exercise anyway.

David Darrow in his daily blog says to paint what you are not good at (in order to improve at whatever that is); well, flowers and landscapes are are a particular challenge for me...give me a figure to paint anyday!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Nothing But Net (Basketball) - 11 x 12" Pastel

Well, it's been a while...but I'm back on track. I can't believe that it's been a month since I've posted here. I painted on Tuesday for the first time in several weeks, and did my first daily of the New Year today. It felt so good to be painting again!

I decided that since I was a bit rusty, I would do a simple subject, and a basketball fit that bill. The skin tones in the hands were a bit of a challenge, and still look a little grotesque to me, so I may go back in and noodle with that a bit.

As far as subject, today's painting was the third painting of a group that I did for my husband's office. They all have a sports theme, and will look great hanging together. Since my hubby still plays basketball(at age 50), I knew he would like this one. (These days, however, you don't see a basketball in my house without hearing "Honey, where's the Advil?", so maybe I should have included a bottle of Advil in the composition!) Also, to be perfectly honest, I didn't take this picture, I found it on the internet in Google Images. Hopefully my interpretation makes it unique.