December 30, 2008

Amaryllis in progress

Here is another project currently on the easel. This was tricky because the subject changed drastically as the blossoms opened. Now my job is to go back and fine tune the lighting all over the plant.

December 28, 2008

Works in progress

These are all painting in progress in the studio at the moment. It helps me stay inspired to be able to hop between imagery. In addition, I paint in layers so as a layer dries on one painting I can work on another. This means there is little time lost waiting for things to dry.

December 26, 2008

Latest Painting

I finished this painting a little before Christmas and promptly sold it. What a nice feeling. It's probably my best still life so far. Seeing progress in my work is a great reward for the time and energy spent.

December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays

Best Wishes to all and Hope for the new year to bring peace and prosperity.

December 15, 2008

Winter Morning

We've had a bit of snow already this year. It's unusual this early in winter but lovely! Preparations for Christmas are ongoing. After this week I'll have two weeks off to spend with the kids and hubby. Since I wake up so early in the morning I'll spend the first three or four hours of the day in the studio. Hopefully I'll get some photos taken of paintings so I can post my latest projects.

December 12, 2008

photo reference

This is a photo I took on a winter trek in Eastern Washington. It will serve as inspiration for the next landscape painting. It's relatively flat compared to images I usually choose but I love the subtle color and pattern. In order to give it more depth I'll open up a space that invites the viewer further in to see the layers in the background.

December 4, 2008

The Bear Family at Home

There's a nook just to the right of my fireplace where every Christmas I set up a little tableau. This year it is the little log cabin I built from a kit for my kids when they were little. The cabin is getting decked out for the holidays by the bear family. I still need to build a bed for Mama and Papa bear and sew up some little stockings, should be fun!

December 2, 2008

Warm glow...

There is something so comforting about the warm interior light when it is cold, wet, and gray outside.
We are in our darkest days of the year at this time, when the holiday lights come up on the neighborhood houses it's lovely to see.

November 30, 2008

A trip to Leavenworth WA...

Ken and I drove to Leavenworth WA, an old fashioned german themed town, with our friends the Gundersons on Friday. I was expecting the highlight of the adventure to be roaming the shops but it turned out the best part of the trip was talking with good friends, stopping to take photos along the way and looking at the town lit up when the sun went down.

November 24, 2008

Fall Berries

I'm actually getting excited to prepare for the holidays. It will be fun to set everything up and have my folks come to stay.

November 20, 2008

The weather outside is frightful...

It's raining buckets full today, makes me feel fortunate to be warm and dry in my home. Wishing we lived on a planet where everyone could count on a warm dry place to be out of the weather.
I've noticed something in my painting lately, as the last layers are applied I am not in such a hurry to finish. I'm taking a little more care not to rush and say good enough.
I'm also continuing to read up on composition. Juliette Aristides new book on classical painting has quite a good section on the subject. It's fascinating, analyzing painting based on geometry. Don't ask me to repeat the idea, because while I understand it well enough when I read it, just barely, trying to teach it to someone else at this point is not gonna happen!

November 18, 2008

On the shelf

As I finish small paintings I often put them on the bookshelf to dry. This little guy was fun to do, although the glitter on the star was baffling!
The painting for the show is going very well. As usual I would love to spend twice as much time in the studio but that would mean cloning myself and since that's not gonna happen I'll just have to be patient.

November 14, 2008

Winter is coming...

It's time to settle in for the winter. I know it's still fall but around here when it's wet and cold it might as well be winter. Don't forget to take your vitamin D!

October 29, 2008

More on composition

After reading the Greg Albert book on composition I cringe at the paintings I post knowing that they could have been so much better with a little work on the composition. To help me plan paintings I keep a notebook where I do a number of thumbnails before coming up with a satifying image. It's at this stage that it becomes obvious how important it is to really know my subject. For instance if I'm working on a landscape I choose only scenes of places I visit often so I can imagine myself on site. This allows me to use photos just as inspirations and not depend on the photo for the arrangement of elements.

October 28, 2008


One of the teachers at the private studio where I teach brought apples from his tree to share with all of us. They were sweet and crisp and reminded me of my Grandma's place in Oregon. Even though her home was tucked in to the suburbs she had an acre of land where there were apple and cherry trees, black and raspberry bushes, and a beautiful vegetable garden. My brother and I would graze all summer long. If you have never picked an apple from the tree and bit into it warm and sweet you're missing a real experience!

October 27, 2008

This little still life was fun to do. Especially the lighting. I love gourds and squash because they last forever in a set up and I don't have to rush the painting. Working with flowers and foliage the strategy is to work on the objects that wilt the quickest. This can be problematic at times, but I'm getting better at it as I go.

October 17, 2008


I finished reading a book called something like "One Simple Rule for Composition". It was recommended to me by Liana Bennett. The basic idea is no two intervals the same. Although it reads as one simple rule, after reading the book I came up with a list of questions to ask. So the very next painting I'm planning will hopefully benefit from a better composition

October 10, 2008

Single pumpkin

My garden went crazy this year and I have tiny pumpkins all over my house.
I've been experimenting with backgrounds a lot lately. In the past they have been dense and flat, so the goal is to keep it dynamic and in the shadows more transparent. This is something that has been recommended to me by my instructors but until recently I didn't quite know what they meant, now i get it!
Fellow artists may have noticed this phenomenon; a concept has been taught in different formats with different instructors but until the student has refinforced the idea with lots of trial and error, it may never sink in.

September 19, 2008

That time of year...

Well we're back to pumpkins... I can hardly believe we'll be heading in to October soon. We've had two weeks of glorious late summer weather, now the clouds are rolling in. I have this incredible urge to redecorate! One of the fringe benefits of being a painter is there's always something new on your walls. My latest grand idea is to sew a slip cover for my living room sofa, inspired by the sewing gurus on Project Runway. So now my living room has fabric scraps tossed all over and a cover is slowly emerging.

September 18, 2008

Bailey Farm Wetlands

Just got back from a five day painting retreat with my critique buddies. All I can say is HEAVEN!!!
Working from photo and plein air studies to create a studio painting is very challenging. There is a tendency to rely on the photo too much so I try to look at the photo for a while then put it away and work from memory and the study.

September 7, 2008

Lura's Pin Cushion

Painting is extremely satisfying these days. It's been around four years since I started oil painting in earnest. I look back at the earliest attempts and cringe; but it is a wonderful record of progression. There is still a long way to go. My technique is acceptable but now I need to concentrate on composition and meaning.

September 6, 2008

Painting the Seasons

This time of year I am usually busy working on still life of pumpkins and gourds, all things fall. Unfortunately we had such a mild and somewhat wet summer things we'd normally see at the farmers market are almost a month behind. So... I've been working on my timeless subjects and looking for decent imitation decorative fruits and vegies for subject matter, not an easy task!

September 2, 2008

It's September!

Wow, first day back to school. I always love September. It's my birthday month, evenings are cool and crisp, days are bright and colorful, new school supplies are in all of the stores and there's a flury of activity.

August 29, 2008


I went to my critique group meeting last night. I always come home feeling inspired to paint! It would be so easy to spend 8 hours a day in the studio, but my house would fall to ruin and the kids would be eating out of cans, so I'll have to do with 4 hours.

August 28, 2008

I had a discussion with a fellow teacher and artist recently about some artists' need for solitude in order to create. This is certainly true for me. The trick is finding a healthy balance of time spent alone and time with family and friends. Both are absolutely necessary!

August 20, 2008

Photo reference

I'm in the process of studying my photographs, choosing which are good reference for paintings and which aren't. There are a number of questions that need to be asked in order to make that decision.
Such as:
Is there a center of interest, main subject or "star" of the composition?
What do I want to say with this image, what is the main idea or message?
Is the lighting interesting or is there a full range of values?
What is the palette?
Do I have a good understanding of the space and forms?
If the answers are mostly yes then I will take the time to do thumbnails and color studies to further work out the composition, colors and values.

I find this exercise a good gage of how far I have come in my ability to communicate visually. One very good indicator is how dependent am I on the photo to develop the image. Essentially it's necessary for me to truly understand the subject matter so that I am not a slave to the photograph. Without that understanding the photo becomes a crutch and the resulting painting is often quite mediocre.

July 21, 2008

Struggles with light

This painting appeals to me for it's composition but the light is rather dull so the challenge is to tweak it so there is more direction and strength in the light and shadows. Also I'll need to break up the two earth colored areas of land so they don't lead us right off of the canvas.
I'm off to paint this morning, it's a beautiful day so I anticipate good things!

July 20, 2008

Summer fruit

During the winter I forget how intense the colors of summer are. We've had beautiful weather going on two weeks now, it's glorious!
This week I'm taking a small group of students around area parks for plein air painting. The forecast is good so we should have some lovely painting conditions.

July 19, 2008

Studio painting

Here is a painting done in the studio using photo reference from a visit to the Applegate Valley. As always there are things that I like about the painted version, such as the soft forms and interesting division of space, but there are things that are lacking, like the richness in the shadow areas and a more dramatic sense of depth. More to strive for in the next painting!

July 16, 2008

Heading for the mountains

I'm off with my daughter for a short camping trip. We'll be seeing some pretty amazing forest and mountain scenery. It will be a great opportunity to do some field studies and shoot some photos for inspiration this winter. I find that I really enjoy the process of gathering info in the field then working on a larger oil in the studio. Plein air is fabulous but the time restrictions can be very frustrating.

The painting with the tress shown is in progress. So far I'm happy with the sense of depth I'm achieving. I look forward to working on it this weekend when I get back to the studio.

July 15, 2008

Edges Edges Edges !!! I finally get it...

Well I've been away for a while waiting for my hubby to fix the computer problems. In the meantime I got a lot of painting done.

During this hemit like existance in my studio I finally felt something click in my brain regarding the idea of paying careful attention to edges. My art instructors for years have been telling this to we students and while I thought I knew what they were talking about I wasn't really getting it. One of them said "get the edges right, the interiors not as crucial. What to look for where an edge occurs is crisp or soft edges, color relationships, and value relationships. I'm sure there is much more but this is as far as I've gotten so far

June 29, 2008

In the Garden

I've been working in the garden almost everyday and love to see the colors change. Every year I plant new things mostly perennials, sometimes I lable them and most times not, so the following year is like christmas because there is always new things popping up that I've forgotten about.

Very Fun!!!

June 27, 2008

color study

Simplify Simplify Simplify! That is the key to most of my problems. It's hard to describe in words but the idea is to pay close attention to simple form and how the light moves across it. Moving away from fussy little strokes to broad statements of color, value, and form. This applies to all subject matter.

June 26, 2008

Skagit Valley

I've been reworking this painting since last summer and I am almost there. The barn needs more light on the right side and that should do it.
The clouds rolled in last night so it will be a good day to get through some domestic chores. I'd forgotten what having teens home for the summer does to the house! Their bedrooms are nightmarish. Since it's their space I mostly leave it up to them to decide to clean.

June 25, 2008

New images

I'm really enjoying the flexibility of summer. My kids are around but have no set schedule so our time is pretty loose.
My goal this summer is to get out as much as possible to photograph inspiring landscapes and do some onsite studies. Winter in the NW can be pretty dismal and have good reference and memories of favorite places is invaluable. So in the summer I live outside!
I am particularly attracted to landscape which shows the influence of humanity without the figure included.
And of course the farmers market is all I need to find inspiration and subject matter for my still life painting.

June 18, 2008


A quiet morning to get my thoughts in order and plan the day. It's cloudy and gray so I think I'll paint in the studio.
There is one more class left to teach and my kids are finished with Jr. and High School for the summer. They will be footloose until September. I'm preparing myself for interruptions in the studio and hopefully some day trips to paint outside.

June 13, 2008

Making progress

I'm always very excited after completing a class or workshop. It never fails that the instructor explains an idea in just the right way that my brain exclaims "Ah Ha! Now I understand!" With a list of new skills and ideas to implement I am in the process of reevaluating my painting process. Terry Miura's workshop has me seriously studying composition. The idea of the artist composing a piece instead of copying what they see is paramount. When I'm out with my sketch book or camera gathering reference and inspiration I will have a new set of eyes to see the world.

June 10, 2008

Terry Miura Landscape Workshop

This is Terry demonstrating the proces of plein air landscape painting. He's a very knowledgable teacher and generous with his information and experience.

I particularly liked his description of composition, using the idea of a star and supporting cast in a story.

Some other tid bits:

Put a brush stroke down and leave it don't mush it around.

Use big brushes to elimnate the fussy little stuff.

Start simple and build experience.

Do a thumbnail before you paint!

June 4, 2008

Flowers from the Garden

We've had nothing but rain, rain, and more rain. As a result, the garden is incredibly lush, everything is covered in new growth, buds and blossoms.
Tomorrow I leave for a 3 day plein air workshop in southern Oregon with Terry Miura. I am so jazzed I can hardly stand it.

June 3, 2008

more works in progress

Mid stage on the bridge scene. It's actuall going well so I'm excited.
the top view of the sailboat is the latest phase on this painting. It still needs work but at least is getting closer to finished.