Thursday, October 15, 2009


8" x 10", oil

Just got this done in time, I wanted to paint this while my son is still 13. Another mighty struggle with pretty much everything in this one, but it's done and he likes it.

It's from a vacation photo taken in Arizona along the original Route 66. All that's left are the telephone poles to show where the road was.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Autumn Edge

Autumn Edge
6 x 8, oil

Mom and I went out to Kettle Moraine Forest today for some plein aire painting. It was a beautiful drive out, the fall leaves and colors are just starting to come out. After a long summer it feels like we're finally on the edge of autumn. It was fun to throw some red sumac colors on the canvas, along with the (probably over the top) yellows.

This is what I was looking at...

Friday, September 18, 2009

September Marsh

September Marsh
6 x 8, oil

Southern Wisconsin has had an endless summer this month, so I finally took advantage of the perfect plein aire weather. I was able to sit on a log right IN the marsh behind our house. It has been so dry that meadow flowers have replaced the reeds and are taking over the drying muck. The colors were beautiful and the best part was NO BUGS! This must be what it's like to live in California : )

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Ready For Take Off

Ready For Take Off
10" x 10", oil

This one was a real humbling experience, I struggled mightily. I snapped this pix while on vacation months ago and have been thinking about painting it since. As often happens when I "think" too much on a painting it just turns into a mess. After much scraping I've just gotta call it done.

I do love painting ravens tho, I'm glad I went crazy and took lots of photos of the "friendly" ravens at Petrified National Forest this past spring.

Friday, September 4, 2009

I'm back, with cupcakes!

Sprinkles Please
6 x 8, oil

Karin's cupcake challenge (for DSFDF) felt perfect for sliding back into painting mode. I haven't painted since last April (what can I say... work happened, then summer happened). This one was really fun. I wasn't sure how I'd handle the sprinkles, so I ignored them til the end. I ended up using a small nail and dipping the nail head into the paint to sorta stamp them on. Too fun!!

The pink background is magenta acrylic paint that I used as an underpainting.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Diana Diversion

11" x 14", charcoal

Diana pestered me until I did this sketch last night. I gave her some finishing touches this morning so I probably spent about 1-2 hours on her, she could use more time (that I don't have!). My box of charcoals had not been opened for at least a decade, it brought back memories of a figure drawing class I had about 20+ years ago! 

I did this from a poor quality laser print out of nothing other than laziness, which I was kicking myself for later. I suppose it kept me from getting caught up in details tho. I had to cheat a bit by putting a few little marks on the paper for her arms, head and feet from a rough tracing I did. I put it away after that so I wouldn't be tempted to use it again. My drawing skills are rusty and I really need to do more.

I had no business even doing this since I've got a couple of design projects that REALLY need my attention right now, but I didn't want to miss out on another DSFDF!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A Superior Day

A Superior Day
6" x 8", oil

After looking at all those beautiful beach scenes on DSFDF I had to look thru my photos for my own beach scene. This one is from my favorite place to be on sweltering day, the beach near Pictured Rocks on Lake Superior. My daughter was playing while watching mom or dad? in the kayak and her brother and grandpa snorkeling, grandma took the picture.

This was another big challenge for me, my second try at painting a figure. As usually the parts I thought would be easy (rocks) were difficult and the parts I thought would be hard (figures) went pretty easy.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Tagged with Random Passion

Its late Weds. and I was unable to do the latest DSFDF (which I was really looking forward to). After a spring break trip last week and being a "single mom" this week I couldn't make it happen : (

So instead of sulking about it I'll send a belated thank you out to a number of amazing folks who have been kind enough to "award" me over the last couple months.

As fun as the awards and tagging are, in my book they qualify as a "chain". I just can't bear to break my lifelong streak of never participating in chain mail of any kind. So instead I will list the wonderful artists who have tagged me, please check them out if you don't already know them, or even if you do!

1. Sheila Tajima - Sheila's new project Art for the Animals is truly inspirational, she's just a dynamo!
2. Tom Pohlman - This guys just blows me away (get this--he thought I was inspirational?!?)
3. Lauren - Wonderful watercolor artist, I especially love her landscapes.
4. James Parker - His blogs can't be missed, he is a HOOT. His paintings are darn good too!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Masago Munchies

Masago Munchies
4-1/2" x 4-1/2", oil

This is my painting for the latest DSFDF challenge. I'm a big time sushi fan, but I had to look up the name for the bright orange roe on these California rolls. In the process I learned that masago is the cheap stuff, what you really want is something called tobikko. Personally I don't think I'd like either... I'm not much for seafood in general.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Marsh in March

Marsh in March
6" x 8"

On Friday I abandoned housework to head down to the marsh for some plein air painting. I haven't used my pochade box much so this was a good shakedown run. I had packed a small tube of zinc white since my big tube of titanium wouldn't fit. That was a near disaster. That stuff would just NOT cover the canvas. Because of this I ended up spending about half the time painting outside and half in the studio. Here's how it looked at the half way point...

Here's the spot where I was painting. I had planned to sit on the crate, but I need my knees up higher so I just sat on a canoe pad instead.

Somewhere in that snow and weeds is my rigger brush. It was the only one I had so that forced me to use a palette knife for some of the details.

This is a photo of my new toy. I picked up a digital photo frame marked way down at a Circuit City. To my utter amazement, Kodak actually thought to put a screw thingy on the bottom so (with a little rigging) it can be attached to a tripod. I wanted to try this because I basically hate dealing with trying to get decent prints from either my printer or a photo processor. My studio isn't setup to view my monitor, so this seemed like a decent compromise. I've only used it with these last two paintings, but overall I'm fairly happy with it. BTW--that IS a stuffed Totoro in the background. If you don't recognize him, google "My Neighbor Totoro". I'm generally not much of an anime fan, but the art in that movie is amazing, not to mention a really cool story.


6" x 6", oil

Stop this thing, I want to get off!!! That's all I could think while painting this. I've never painted a human figure before so like an idiot I chose about the most difficult photo I could find. I spent way too much time on it until finally washing my hands of it. I wasn't going to post it, but in the effort of full disclosure... here it is. 

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Alpha Chicken

Alpha Chicken
8" x 6", oil

My first chicken painting. This one taunted me for several weeks before I was ready to give it a try. It was actually really fun to paint and I'm looking forward to doing more. This is our "Alpha" chicken, she's the meanest of the bunch. It's her duty to protect her sisters, seeing as we have no rooster. We've had these lovely layers for about a year and a half now, and they definitely pay their rent. I'm so sold on backyard chickens, I can blather on about then forever.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Mud Lake

Mud Lake 1
6" x 8", oil

Mom and I drove around last Sunday taking photos. It was perfect weather and I fell in love with this frozen entry point on Mud Lake. I'd love do some plein air painting here if I get a chance.

After painting this late last night I thought it was a total disaster, but with a fresh eye in the morning it didn't look too bad.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Bale 'em, Bale 'em...

Bale 'em, Bail 'em
6" x 8", oil

...hay! hay! Now I have that Saw Doctors song in my head when I look at this painting. I had fun with this one even tho naked trees against the sky usually scare me. It gets easier to tackle them each time. I love painting snow patches and the weather has been perfect for it this weekend. I wasn't able to get outside to paint, but I did take lots of photos. 

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Pugnacious Pines

Pugnacious Pines
6" x 8", oil

After two paintings of subjects I had never attempted before I thought it would be nice to go back to a soothing, simple (ha!) landscape. Well, this landscape seems anything but soothing to me, every part seems to be fighting for attention. The pine woods in the back was the worst offender, they did not want to retreat!

Friday, January 30, 2009

San Francisco Victorian
6" x 8", oil

Another painting for DSFDF. This time I tried painting on an all black background, at first I thought never again, but I think I'll give it another try. This one was a huge challenge for me. Several times I was ready to wipe the whole thing off, but Mom gave me some helpful advice and saved it from the garbage can. Thanks mom!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Technicolor Jefferson

Jefferson Memorial
8" x 8", oil

My first submission to DSFDF.

OK, I went a little nuts with the colors. I think I tend to do that when I haven't painted for awhile, in a addition to painting from a photo. I'm still working out some sort of method to the madness. I've been using Shelby Keefe's underpainting method for awhile now, but I'd like to try the all black canvas method that Karin Jurick uses, or maybe a hybrid of the two??

Two steps forward, one step back? Seems more like one forward, two back right now... but at least I painted something!!

Photography & Retouching Help

I was going bonkers yesterday trying to photograph my Jefferson Memorial painting for DSFDF. The outside shots washed out my highlights completely and my indoor shots were speckled with tiny bits of glare from the lighting.

Putting my painting in my homemade light diffuser helped somewhat but I still had glare speckles. I found a nice way to save those speckled photos tho. Here's how I did it in photoshop:

Under FILTER go to NOISE > DUST AND SCRATCHES. By setting the Radius at 1 or 2 and the Threshold between 15 and 25 I was able to make the speckles disappear. Be sure to zoom in and make sure you aren't losing any brush detail tho. The number I used may be different for different resolution photos also.

Some tips on adjusting photos:

After cropping my painting in photoshop I start with the overall values. The first step is checking the levels:


I usually move the black arrow in to the right just to the point where histogram levels start to climb, I do this with the white arrow on the right side also. This cleans up any haziness and gives you nicer contrast. Then on the midrange arrow I try to match the values of my actual painting moving it to the right or left:

Next I work on color. I mostly use this tool to make color adjustments:

If the colors in your photo just don't seem to match the intensity of your actual painting try using this:
Try boosting the saturation a bit to match your painting.

There are probably 10 different way to achieve the same results in Photoshop, so here's my method to add to the pile!

Sunday, January 11, 2009


6" x 8"

This is our border collie/blue heeler mix, Gypsy. Its extremely difficult to get her to sit still and pose, especially outside, but she laid down long enough for me to get a couple photos. This is the first time I've ever painted a dog, it turned out better than the chickens attempted once before, but I still have a lot to learn...

Back to the studio

This past fall my freelance biz dropped off a bit so I finally got back to painting a little bit before the holidays took over. Here are my first three attempts:

Rust Remover
6" x 8"

Beware of Thalo Blue
6" x 8"

Getting There
6" x 8"