Thursday, January 30, 2014

Well I finished the 30 in 30 challenge and most of it was fun.  I like 20 of my paintings and that's a pretty good average.  I tried out new surfaces, new paints and mediums and learned a lot.  My brushwork has gotten looser and my drawing/observation skills have improved immensely. Most importantly, I met my main goal - to get myself through the dark cold days of January and escape the polar vortex.

Now I have to concentrate on larger work and bigger goals. I hope to get juried into the New Hampshire Art Association and attain signature status in the Pastel Society.  I plan to study landscapes and composition.  I also want to figure out just what gives a painting that spark that makes you want to keep on looking.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Pink Tulips

Pink Tulips
6x6 oil on panel $150
I found these tulips at the grocery store, a sure sign that Spring is possible. I have enjoyed them all week by keeping them on my cold window sill.
If anything  looks fresh and easy about this painting it is an illusion!  It took six hours and three wipe-outs!  Fruits and Vegetables are so much easier to paint.

Rock Farm

Rock Farm
8"x8" oil on panel
I've painted this several times and it is getting better but I'm not happy yet.  I'm reading "Carlson's Guide to Landscape Painting", "Mastering Composition" by Ian Roberts and "Brushwork Essentials" by Mark Christopher Weber.
I was going to paint over this one but I think I will save it for a comparison.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Virtual Cape Cod

Chequessett Neck Rd.
Pastel 8x8 $150
I found a Facebook group that does virtual paint-outs from chosen places in Google Street view.  I spent an evening looking for a scene forgetting that most of the Cape roads are heavily tree lined.  The next day it occurred to me to meander along the back roads nearer the ocean and I found this view.  It was fun to do but I would rather paint from my own photos.  I guess you really have to be there.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Oh my Darlin

"Oh my Darlin'"

I am trying to stay ahead.  I set this plant and Clementine up in the evening.  It looked like it could be a painting.  Then I stayed up late making soup and lasagna so I could come home from work the next day and just paint.  Good plan except that I was almost too tired to paint! This one went easy -I thought my center of interest would be the blossoms but this time the clementine wins. 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Yellow Daylily

Yellow Daylily
6x6 oil on hardboard panel $150
This is the first time I painted a flower from a photo.  I find flowers to be the most challenging seconded only by anything yellow!

Both of my paintings in the Minumental exhibit sold yesterday.  It's always fun to see those red dots!

Friday, January 24, 2014


"Tulips" 8x8 oil on Arches paper for oils

This was an experiment.  I heard that Arches put out a paper just for oils and I had to give it a try.  It came in my last Blick order. The surface is very nice, smooth and soft.  The paint handled differently though.  My brush seemed to want to stick wherever I put it down and the paint did not want to move.  It did get easier as I went along especially after I added more OMS. I think I'd like to try this with very thin paint, almost like a watercolor.  Was I supposed to gesso it first?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Blue Willow

Blue Willow
6x6 oil on cradled panel $150

This did not have an auspicious beginning. I had a few clementines and I could not come up with a good composition. I added things, I took things away - they just did not want to be painted.  I looked through my sketch book and I found a composition I liked - one of those sketches that never got painted.  It was my favorite blue willow mug with an orange.  The mug was in the dishwasher and it was running.   The orange in the fridge. was way too big, the clementine was too small. 

I gave it a rest and bought a new orange - just the right size and still things did not go well. I wiped out the painting and continued to struggle.  I was blaming the challenge and thinking that some days just were not meant to be paint days when all of a sudden it all came together. I like it now - I think the muse painted this one.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Apples and Ikat

"Apples and Ikat"
6x6 oil on cradled panel $150
I like this composition. I played around with softening the contours and lost and found edges.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


6"by6" pastel on Canson Paper $100
I visited the farmer's market, it's in a greenhouse at the local garden center.  I really just wanted to be in the greenhouse.  It was worth traipsing through the snow and ice for a few minutes of heat and humidity. I saw this tomato plant acting like it was August and I had to take it home - Tomatoes in January! and then I realized that in many parts of the country it wouldn't be unusual to have tomatoes in winter!
There is a blizzard predicted for tomorrow, not much snow but fierce winds.  SNOW DAY!!! Yes teachers like them as much as kids.  I will be sorry in June when I have to make it up but I'm hoping to be able to stay home and paint.

Monday, January 20, 2014


6x6 oil on cradled panel $150
Rose with Quinacridone Rose, a good match.  I am enjoying my new colors.  This went through several changes and I may change it again.
I liked some of the brushwork but the rose was too centered and the leaves too prominent. So
Wipe - out!
A wipe-out is actually a good thing.  The ghost image often has promise, the layer of paint makes the next go on smoother and the thin left-over color helps to keep edges soft.

Sunday, January 19, 2014


6x6 oil on cradled panel $150
I bought this little spritzer at the garden center.  I don't have anything to spritz.  My only plant is a 30 year old Ficus Benjamin.  Sometimes this time of year I go to the garden center just to walk through the greenhouse.  The warm humidity and all the plants makes me think that Spring is possible.
I use a cardboard box as a still life stage.  I cut mat board to fit so now my set up can have a white or black background as well as medium brown.  This is a little more high key than usual.  I am trying new colors.  Carol Josefiak recommended this "Serves Blue" by Rembradt.  It turns out I already had it from Old Holland called "Schevenings Blue". I like it and I like the way it works with Quinacridone Rose.
I am still in the Challenge except that now I do not even know what day it is!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Stealing the Show

Stealing the Show
6x6 oil on cradled panel $150
I planned to title this "Baby Bok Choy" then I changed the name to "Illusive" - every time I thought I just about had it, a brush stroke or a shape would go wrong and I would wipe out all or part.  It became "Stealing the Show" when the radishes decided they would be the focus.  This happened long before the highlights were added.
This is day 18 of the 30 in 30 challenge.  I am just barely staying ahead.  If it were not for week-ends I would be way behind.  I started this before the sun was up and was hoping to take a decent photo under my skylight.  I finished by 11 but by that time there was a thick layer of snow on the skylight.

I am using the challenge to try different things.  During the first week I realized I was running out of panels and so was Dick Blick. I put in an order that I knew would be back ordered and so I ordered RayMar, some flat panels and some stretched canvas.  I also placed orders with Jerry's Artarama and Cheap Joes.  This painting was done on a wood panel from Cheap Joes.  After 3 coats of gesso it was a pretty nice surface to work with.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Looking After Each Other

"Looking After Each Other"
6x6 oil on cradled panel $150
These two peppers just seemed like friends. Started after supper and finished before bedtime.  I'm tired now but the painting went smoothly.
At artist has to grocery shop a little differently.  You don't want to be seen handling too much but you still need attractive fruits and veggies just in case they want to pose.  Who else cares if a pepper can sit up straight? My husband asks "Are these for eating or are they for painting?" The menu also revolves around the good looking produce.  I have a great recipe for Arroz con Pollo that includes green and red peppers, maybe that's for tomorrow night!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Apples, Mini Still life

oil on canvas paper 2x2
This is for the New Hampshire Institute of Art Annual exhibit called Minumentals.  Everything in the exhibit can be no larger than 2x2 or cost more than $45.
This is one of my "catch-up" paintings that I did on one of the days I managed two, after all it is only 2" square. I have done 4 of these littles and need to choose 2 to be delivered next week.
Maybe tomorrow I will paint two and get caught up again.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


6x6 oil on cradled panel $150
Day 15 of the 30 Day challenge!  I hit the halfway mark with a breakthrough!
It occurred to me that not everyone worked so hard to get the paint on the canvas, that it wasn't peanut butter after all.  I cannot use solvents so I have been trying to move the paint with just a little OMS which only thins and flatten things out.  I discovered Gamblin Solvent Free Gel and what a difference! The paint glides and you just need a little.  Granted now I have to learn how to control it a little better but this little painting was fun from start to finish.
I also bought a tube of Quinacridone Rose.  I was looking for Permanent Rose and this was all I could find.  It was just right for these radishes.
My two new best friends

Monday, January 13, 2014


8x8 pastel $150
I took the reference photo for this on the draw bridge leading to Plum Island. I can fly small planes but I cannot stand on bridges!  The vertigo was terrible but I got my shot and worked on this safely back in the studio.
This is the watercolor underpainting

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Plum Island Field

Plum Island Field
8x8 Pastel on Pastelmat $150
Finished in the morning with a trip to the museum and Blick in the afternoon - a good day!
I saw the Sargent watercolor show at the Boston Museum of Fine Art.  The work was wonderful but the lines were long and the galleries were crowded.  I wish I had all day to stand in front of just a few paintings and really study them.  In retrospect, a rainy day towards the end of an exhibit was probably not the best idea - everyone else had the same thought.
The trip to Dick Blick is always fun.  Some things just need to be seen in person.  I cannot choose mat board or pastels from a monitor color swatch. It took us 1/2 hr. to get from southern NH into Boston and then another hour to inch our way into Boston!  It was worth it and as always we promised ourselves to do it more often.


6x6 oil on stretched canvas $150

Painting everyday is not always easy.  After work I decided to set something up that was simple.  It took me at least an hour to set these lemons in a composition I liked.  My plan was to add something more complex each day, instead I worked on this for three days!

Day 1 - I was out of hardboard panels so I used stretched canvas, my goal for the challenge was to try something new.  Even though I applied fresh gesso, the paint wouldn't glide on, it felt like painting with tar.  I stopped because I was tired and wiped out the canvas.  I really liked the ghost image so I worked another hour.

Day 2 - I continued to refine darkening the darks and lightening the lights for drama.

Day 3 - I looked at it in daylight (if you can call socked-in fog daylight) and laughed at my dark green lemons on a dark brown table.  This time the paint went on smoothly, I added the blue background because the view out my window was gray.  I'm done, I don't know if it is.

I like the canvas but I might try more layers of gesso or linen instead of cotton. The trouble with winter is not just the cold and the ice but the dark.  I will try different ways to light my still life with drama and still light the studio bright enough to see what I'm doing!

I am hoping for a trip to Dick Blick later today.  I am out of ultramarine and I was afraid that if I ordered it through the internet it would freeze on the trip. 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Rock Farm, Pastel

Rock  Farm
8x8 Pastel $150
This was painted a week ago, just after I did the oil version - I like this one better.
I have been working on a painting of lemons for the last two days.  It has gone through several stages and wipe-outs.  I thought it would be ok in the daylight but when I saw it today the color was all wrong.  I will give it another try tomorrow.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Snowy Stream

Snowy Stream
8x8 Pastel $150
I took a walk in the woods to capture this scene.  It was the first snow fall and the stream hadn't iced over yet.
I used soft pastel on Art Spectrum Colorfix Black Suede. I always thought that pastel on black paper was like Elvis on velvet but I liked the contrast with the snow.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014


8x8 oil on cradled panel
I visited the greenhouse to buy this plant, it was so nice inside I wanted to stay all day!
It is starting to look as though my  theme is "red".

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Monday, January 6, 2014


5x5 oil on panel
These are my favorite apples to eat.  I chose this one to paint because of
 it's color and shape and nice looking stem!
It was an experiment, I was trying to:
Paint after a full day at work
Stay loose and painterly
Work with lost and found edges
Remember to soften my edges
Work quickly and have fun
I liked being able to finish a painting in just a few hours. There is more than one reason not to overwork!.
I wanted to work on a toned panel but my typical earth orange bleeds through.  This time I used Acrylic, Nickel Azo Gold.  This is what I sometimes use as a base for pastels.  It worked and gave a nice surface to the panel.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Pear Halves on a Stoneware Plate

Pear Halves on Stoneware
6x6 oil on hard board panel $150
This was a little different, I worked on a MDB panel with 3 coats of gesso. The paint seemed to stick rather than glide.  It was fun to try something new.  I had to work quickly so the pear wouldn't discolor. I've noticed that every painting in the challenge so far has used red.  This is the last of the pear paintings for a while.  It is now lunch!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Pears with White Cloth

Pears on a White Cloth
6x6 oil on cradled panel $150
This one started out differently. I didn't draw first and I didn't tone my panel.  I guess I was used to looking at these pears! 
My goal today was to use primary colors.  I did not use my usual umber to create black but relied on ultramarine, alizarin and a touch of yellow. I did not miss the umber. 
I also kept the edges soft and worked on lost and found edges.  It was a good day!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Pears Again

Pears Again
6x6 oil on cradled panel $150
Sometimes I just like to draw!
Thin wash block-in, I was tempted to leave this just like this!

Red Pears

Red Pears
6x6 oil on cradled panel $150

It has been snowing for the last 6 hours so I have been snug and warm in my studio.  School was cancelled again for tomorrow so I will get to paint all day again.  I thought I was all set for the challenge - I painted a few ahead during school vacation and then  noticed that I was just about out of panels. I spent time on the web with Dick Blick, Jerry's Artarama and Cheap Joes.  I should be all set by next week.

My goal in this one was to stay loose and play with color and brushwork.

I start  with a sketch and overlay a golden section grid to decide on a composition.

I used a multi-colored wash instead of my usual earth orange and sketched with umber.

Block-in with thin washes of basic colors

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Black Pot with Apple

Black Pot with Apple
6x6 oil on cradled panel $150
I've always wanted to include my own pottery in a still life.  I made this pot just for this.  I thought the high shine would be difficult but it actually made it easier to see the shapes.

Rock's Farm

Rock's Farm
8x8 oil on hard board panel $150
This was a triple wipe-out.  I finally gave it (and me) a rest.  In the morning I could see areas that needed adjustment.  Things always look better in the morning.  Too bad it is still dark at 5am.
This is day 1 of Leslie Saeta's 30 in 30 challenge. I planned to choose a focus, oils or pastels, landscapes or still life but all I could settle on (for now anyway) was the format, square!
I am hoping to use the challenge as a learning tool. My goal in this painting was to be more painterly, to have each brushstroke count.  I didn't quite get there.