Friday, July 6, 2012

I have been painting! Now I'm showing my work in a website.

If you get a minute, check it out:

Also, I have a new exhibit at

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Finished piece

Final work after drawing, color poster study, drawing on canvas, ink-in, wash-in, and form painting. Struggled with background as the red had a tendancy to take over. oil on linen

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Alternating very detailed with studies

I'm still working on the commissioned piece, but also working some from life. Here is a 3 hour portrait done of a friend of mine. 10"x10" oil on canvas. A whole different look.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Been Busy

Started a new commission and have been photographing the progress. Trying to spend a bit let time on the computer and more time at the easel, but need to update some.  The official mentoring program for 2011 is probably complete, but Jennifer and I have built a relationship that will last beyond. She has been asked to take on another protege, but has decided it would be best to alternate the years. So look for her next year!

About the piece; it is a 20 x 24. I'd started with 18"x24" but realized it would not allow the subjects any room to breath. I'm including photos of the concept drawing and poster study which were presented to the client for approval. Then there is the drawing in charcoal on canvas; I tried toning the canvas but it proved challenging with the wash in later. Then the ink in and progress from wash in to form painting. I put in the background and as soon as it was "done" I realized what I really wanted to do there. So that will change. I've also still got a lot to do with the faces, features and skin tones, as well as the shirts. But here they far.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


It takes daring, with a dash of courage, to attempt a self-portrait. It takes a lot of nerve to display it! So there you have it. I dared myself and now I'll put it out there. 12x12 oil on canvas.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Sometimes you just "gotta".....

After finishing the commission and still working on my mentoring project, I felt the need to play in some colors. It was fun to do a quick painting...not quite a poster study, but not quite as developed as my "serious" work.

My mentor is off duty for a couple of weeks, but I thought I'd recall a few things;

She mentioned putting together a "Vision" book. This is basically a file of photos of paintings that inspire you. Whether you want to paint like the artist, you like the composition or even just color use, include it in your file. This book can be used as ideas for work, can be a tool to refocus you, or just reminders of what qualities you like in other works. It really makes sense! Especially with commissioned groups, you can get ideas for posing the clients, or even lighting ideas.

More later....

Monday, May 30, 2011

After the Framing

Phew! Delivered the painting. Because this blog is for following the mentoring process, I'll let you in on the process. Jennifer told me a bit about how she orchestrates her unveilling and I followed a few of the tips.

We brought a display easel and a piece of black velvet to the residence. We had champagne ready but were thrilled to find that they were ready to celebrate themselves and had chilled some bubbly, too! We had them out of the room to set up the painting. When they returned, I toasted the client and the process and then dropped the velvet covering the framed piece.

I think they were very happy. She was surprised at the likeness and he was thrilled that I was able to put in the spurs and his brand. They are a lovely couple and I'm a bit disappointed that she doesn't want her own portrait...she is beautiful! Ah well.

Now I will follow-up with a thank you note!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Last Photo of least unframed

I know you readers are probably growing weary of the tiny changes to this piece. But I wanted to show the last/latest. I worked on the leather/spurs area a bit and now it is with the framer. Photographing the painting has been a challenge. I've tried outside and that works, but then I was getting glare and tiny reflections off of the canvas texture. This one was taken sideways! Then I found the printer was very different than the image on my screen. So many variables.
But this is it, tho I may let you know how the client feels....if he likes it!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Week 32 - Time is flying!

I've been working on "Antiques" this week; adding more of the stuff/junk/antiques to the background. A bit surprised at how much it seems to add a sense of space.

Still talking to my mentor each week and I've been given good advice about my portfolio as well as help with planning and dealing with clients.

Need to be in touch with my next commission client and set up a photo shoot. Really excited about the work I have coming up!

Next week or later in June we will deliver the framed painting of the rancher. Really enjoyed painting that one!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Not sure what happened.

Hmmm. All of my May posting has disappeared! Not sure where it all went. Have you seen any around lately?

I'm reposting the latest and maybe last photo of my most recent portrait. I'm going to wait a few days before delivering, just to make sure I don't want to make any more changes.

"Professor, Rancher, Grandfather" oil on linen 16"x20"

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Week 31 - Fine tuning

Phew, it has been ages since last posting. In the meantime, I've attended part of the Portrait Society Conference in Atlanta, the Hunting Art Prize Gala in Houston, judged a show in Odessa, TX, finished teaching the pastel class at the museum and evacuated due to wildfires around our town. Can't say I've painted a lot, but am certainly learning! About painting, competitions, and life in general.

Yesterday I had almost a whole day of painting in the studio and I feel like much was accomplished! Thought I might have finished the commission piece. However, this morning when I photographed it outside I saw some areas that need touching up. But overall, I'm content. There was a lot of back and forth on the background, trying lighter, darker, softer, or more distinct. And at the moment, I like this the best. I'll touch it up and then let it sit a few days before thinking about getting it to the customer.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Week 28 - Remembering the "Vision"

While working on this portrait, I realized it just wasn't where I'd wanted it to go. I kept trying different things, but I wasn't happy with the results. My mentor had once told me to keep the initial vision I'd had for the piece in my mind. Well, I didn't think I'd had a "vision" for the work. But then I remembered the poster study I'd done at the beginning. And I realized that IT was a thumbnail of my "vision"!. So I pulled it back out (don't know why I'd put it aside in the first place) and went back into the painting with a renewed enthusiasm. I am much happier with the results. I still need to work on the leather and spurs area...but I'm more optimistic.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Week 27 - Pushing back the background

Latest work includes 1) cooling, lighting and blurring the background 2) adding sparkle to the spurs 3) adding glasses 4) refining some of the face. Getting closer, but sometimes it seems like every time I work on it, I find more to change. I do love working on this piece, tho. I will be working on putting together a more professional portfolio with information from Jennifer-mentor. This will include photos with larger margins, nicely printed labels for the photos, having sections such as "drawings", "paintings" instead of just all together.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Week 26 (2) - In the meantime

I've been working very methodically and carefully on the portrait of the rancher. But another bit of wisdom from Jennifer (mentor) that she heard from her mentor is to keep two easels up at a time. When you get stuck on one piece you can turn to the other and work there. I've got my easels set up and altogether too many projects. This one is another commissioned portrait. The client has asked for a softened more atmospheric look, giving the subject a more ethereal/romantic look. This is not easy for me! And I needed some gentle guidance/critiquing from Jennifer to achieve this look. The client is thrilled! The subject, however, doesn't know anything about it (and it is very unlikely that she will read this blog).

Week 26 - Catching up some

Still working on my rancher portrait. Added a lot more foliage and trees in the distant background, painted then repainted the jacket to hang more like it was buttoned in the front. Moving the bolo tie around a bit and reshaped the hat some.

Jennifer's voice is reminding me that "you need paint to paint". This advice sounds a bit obvious, but isn't a lot of advice? The point is; I need to remember to mix larger amounts of colors and actually get some paint on the brush. More paint, bigger brushes, soften edges, punch the darks and lights. A painter's job is never done and I need to fight the urge to be wishy-washy.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Week 25 - Back to work!

Luckily, while in CA, we found a camel hair coat. I was able to photograph it in a similar pose and lighting for use in this piece. A big part of the time with Jennifer was spent seeing how she used her photos for references. When she goes on a photo shoot, she takes hundreds of shots and then saves all of them on CDs and a back up hard drive. She doesn't delete ANY! Sure there will be a few that have the best poses, or expressions. But sometimes she'll need a hand or foot or background from a lesser shot to complete the image. When she is using a photo for direct reference, she has it on an extra large monitor that she connects to her laptop. The image on the screen has better/truer colors than a printed image. We also spent time talking about this piece and she offered some ideas; I had the trees to both sides of the hat, looking oddly manufactured. So yesterday I worked at adding some more behind the hat. I am also planning to add greenery to the trees, softening the look a bit. I am also planning to add more shine, etc, to the spurs and such behind the subject. Plenty more to do!


This is the still life I completed while at Jennifer's place. A lovely day spent! Trying to recall some of what I learned while there, some new, some remembered; - Pay attention to edges. Some need to be more solid and some need to be softened. Softening can be done with a mixture of the two colors or with a brush stroke while both colors are still wet, or even using a tissue to "knock" the edge, or a finger to blend. - Don't forget to punch the dark accents. - Brush strokes; this was a topic that we explored numberous times. Discussing Sargent's single strokes to represent a highlight, etc. And creating a textured more painterly background. Even intensional stray brush strokes to pull a color from the background over the edge of the subject. We've both noticed that music choices when painting are variable; the same song can be inspirational or immensely irritating at times. Audio books work sometimes. And other times I cannot remember at all what was playing.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Jennifer and I spent one rainy day inside painting and it was wonderful! A fire in the fireplace and sparkly silver on the beautiful wood table. I did a close up of the flowers and candlesticks, she did an interior of the dining room. (a beautiful painting, but washed out by the flash photo). It was a perfect way to complete the visit. It is a treat to see another's palette, color mixing, brushstrokes and just plain notice the different points of view.
One of the discussions we had was about values and working to keep the bright spots bright; relative values and using a toned surface or white canvas. Also challenges in seeing our paints in the reduced lighting we had.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Our Meeting

I am just on my way home after a wonderful meeting with Jennifer, my mentor. We spent many hours talking about portrait painting, the business of commission work, visiting studios and painting!
I watched her work on a piece and it was magical. We went through my portfolio, discussing the updates I need to consider if I'm going to send it to an agent. We went through my photos to discuss how my work is progressing. We visited other portrait painters and talked about how they work and set up their studios. And we spent a rainy day painting together.

A terrific visit! I feel like I've learned so much. More will come out in future posts.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Week 22 - Commission work

Switched back to my commission work for a bit. They are the clients!
I move the drawing on the canvas to the left some, changed out the saddlehorn and will be painting some spurs wrapped around the saddle horn. Did a very rough wash-in with diluted oil paint.
Now I'm working on the "form painting". And loving it. Working very intimately with turning the small forms. I'll certainly need to get a bit more color into the skin, but I'm pleased with how it is taking shape.
Still need a camel hair jacket for some photo work.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Week 21 - Fabric and such

Worked hard this week. Painting like crazy. Was hoping to get it finished for a March 1st deadline, but not even close. So I'm going to take a break and work on another piece for a bit.

I'm trying to strike the balance with the background, where it is detailed enough to be there, but not over detailed and seeping into the foreground.

Worked on Wayne's clothing, too. Like I said, though, there is still a lot of work to be done.

Part of the mentoring process is actually taking the time to sit with the mentor and we are planning that trip now. Around the middle of the month we are heading to her studio in CA for a few days of painting, etc. Nervous and excited! We've been talking about once a week since October and have established a very comfortable relationship. She is getting better about "tough love" and I'm getting better about using the information. Yesterday we discussed a new commission I'm getting and looking at various compositions - traditional and a much more dramatic cropping of the image. Looking for that "magic". It has been so helpful having a different set of eyes and vision.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Week 20 (3) - Pushing Back the background

I am learning so much! I was realizing that the background was a bit too bright, too evident. But as I was painting it, the items each became quite important. So in my weekly conversation with my mentor, we discussed an interesting technique of mixing a transparent "black" made of ultramarine and transparent brown oxide, thinning with solvent and brushing it on the dry parts of the background. (DO NOT do this on areas that are not dry!)
Ha! You go ahead and take a big brush of black and paint it over hours of work! See if you don't suffer the heart racing, light headed sensations.
Then you wipe it down. It leaves something like an antiquing stain to the surface. Not really glazing with medium. But a way of taking it down a bit. Looks like I'll have to do it again to some of the brighter areas on the left. But in person, it makes a huge difference in how the subject, Wayne, reads.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Week 20 (2) - Shifting gears

Worked some on Wayne's face and redid the hat. An odd hat, it is a real cowboy straw hat and quite large. Not used to seeing it on Wayne and so I'd been trimming it down. This time I went in and did it the right size. Still having photography issues with glare.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Week 20 - Building more detail in background

Still working on the background and refining angles and shapes. The perspective of the space has its challenges.
Unrelated news - though related to the mentoring part! I have had my painting "Jan" accepted into the Hunting Art Prize 2nd jurying. This is usually about 130 pieces out of about 1300 entries. There is only one prize that is awarded at their gala, April 30th. I've entered before, but never been selected to the final group.
Part of the advise given by my mentor and many others is to submit work for competitions and shows. So I've been trying to...

Friday, February 18, 2011

Week 19 (6) - Working on background

A big part of the mentoring goals for me was to have backgrounds in my work, so this project is a perfect exercise! I worked on the left side after straightening up the window on the right a bit. Trying to find the idea balance between realistic shapes and objects without over detailing them. I'm putting in two photos, one straight on and the other from the side. I'm finding it difficult to photograph in the studio because of glare...even with a polarizing lens. I did adjust Wayne's shoulder...I noticed it was too low, giving him a distorted look.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Week 19 (5) Bigger Brushes!

A good day painting, but now that I'm looking at the photo, I don't see it. I'm going to have to get better at taking pictures, too. I had to straighten some verticals. Worked on the background mostly on the top and hats. I'm enjoying the size more and more. I had some good brushes that I've finally broken out and I love them...they are soft bristles and not scratchy at all.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Week 19 (4) - Getting paint on the whole canvas

Blocking in the major shapes and lights and darks. My palette is set up for lots of little blobs of colors for use with little bitty brushes. So this is a real change.
Thing about taking photos along the way, it is a good record for me. But it also allows me to see some of the changes that I'll need to make. A bit like going to the door in my bathrobe, please excuse the mess.

Week 19 (3) And more

Roughed in body. Shown in studio with a few of the photo references.

Week 19 (2) - Bit by bit

Changed the lighting and added hat.

Week 19 - Progress on major project

Wayne is peeking from the canvas. Thought I'd show the canvas in context.
I'd transfered the lines from the drawing and started working the face. Pretty quickly, the face took over and grew beyond the body size. I'm working from a number of photos and I started with just one taped to the canvas. Good expression, lousy lighting.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Week 18 (2) - Continuing the Learning Project

To prepare for the large piece, I've done a poster study (small , 5x7, oil study exploring the color of the light). I have a lot of fun with these abstract-ish pieces. And it is a good reminder of the early impact of the scene which can be easily lost when getting into the detail.

Week 18 - Learning Project

It has taken me a while to get into the swing of things, but I've finally started making progress on the main mentoring project. I took lots of photos of my very favorite model (my husband) in different poses and locations. It was a good learning tool, just to review the photos. What makes a good portrait photo? Lighting, expression, stance...etc. And it may take a number of photos together to create the best portrait.

So after a number of sessions, it looks like a standing pose in the antique shop is the best. So I've done an 18 x 24 drawing, loosely exploring the values etc. Then, through the magic of computers, I've enlarged it to the 36x48 size I will be attempting. If I am still happy with it at that size, I will transfer the main elements to the toned canvas.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Week 15 - Charcoal drawing

Finally! I'm back on canvas! Did the charcoal drawing using the earlier drawings and the reference photos. The client is considering adding some detail to the left side with the saddle horn (which changed, as did the bolo tie). I'll get those in later. Canvas is 16"x 20". I am looking for someone with a camel hair jacket to model a bit as the photos I have are in different light and direction. So far, no luck finding one in town.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Recovering the Sanity

Ok, maybe I was too honest in my last post. It was a crisis of confidence and a bit of self pity and now I'm fine. The client rejection wasn't so much a rejection as wanting some changes. And the other stuff is working out fine.
So, the life of an over-sensitive and downs.
This week, I will start working on the canvas. I will continue with teaching my classes. And I will work on taking my time to react so that I don't get all panicky.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


I've decided to be honest. This is a blog to explore the process of being mentored in portraiture, as well as the journey of being a painter of people. So it should track some of the personal stuff, too.

I fear rejection. And I am being rejected. On a number of fronts. A number of art related rejections, including the sketches sent to the client. No details, yet. And it doesn't sound like a complete rejection, but a rejection none the less. Some of the others are complete and there are some personal rejections going on in my life, too.

I don't deal with criticism well. Not a completely new discovery, but becoming more and more apparent. Even when I agree! Or maybe even more when I agree with the criticism. I know it is useful in making me a better painter and a better person. But I feel it right in my gut. And isn't it interesting how we can hear 3 good things and brush them off, but we'll listen to the 1 negative comment and take it personally.

There has been enough criticism and down right rejection lately to make me consider tossing in the brushes, but I am bull-headed and stubborn. And I've put too much into this to give up now. I will try to realize that this period is just a bump in the road...ok a very deep pothole. But still...

Ah, how we torture ourselves!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Week 13 - Starting on another piece

This commission came during the November ArtWalk celebration here in Alpine. I've already posted a couple of drawings done from the client sitting for me. Now I've done a couple of drawings from reference photos as well as a poster study. The horizontal compostion didn't work, so the vertical compostion is what I will be basing the painting on. I finished that drawing yesterday and have done the poster study today.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Week 12 - Finished Commission work to go with the earlier companion pieces.

Michael is the brother of two sisters I painted 10 years ago! My work has really changed since then, so this was a challenge; to make this piece compatible with the others and yet keeping the quality higher. Both of the others were done in this size, in a vignette style with a yellow ochre under painting and blue-ish, green-ish background. This doesn't match exactly, but is similar enough to work.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Week 11 - Color boost

Yesterday, a friend brought me a tiny bouquet of pansies and itty bitty roses. I was smitten! Put aside the commission I was working on and dove right into the rich colors of the flowers. So this is a bit of a poster study. Mostly it was fun for me to sample some of the pure tones instead of subtle nuances.

And how wonderful to have this lovely "gift" of fresh flowers at Christmas!