Wednesday, December 16, 2009

blogging through this year

And one more page from my people-watching sketchbook.

I have had this blog as sort of a visual notebook for one year now. I have found the practice to be everything I hoped for at the beginning. I have been able to show my current work process to various people who are interested. My friends in locations all over, my family, (especially my mother-in-law and greatest fan!) and new acquaintances. I was also hoping to make some new friends, among other artists who blog and have so generously shared with me across the digital world. I appreciate all who have commented and made my life so much richer.
Thank you all, and may the next year to come be even more happily blessed.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

people watching at the show

I enjoyed my time at the art show more than I expected.

(The larger figure on this page is my husband reading a philosophy book while minding my booth)
Talking to people about my own work is always enjoyable. And I can sit and people-watch for hours and not get restless. Here are some of my quick people-watching sketches.

Monday, December 14, 2009

a statement

My process begins in brief, domestic moments; flowers from life, quietly gracing my home. As a painting evolves, contour, line, color, and shape grow to explore the depth of those moments; the floral subjects expand and intensify--tiny details in petals and leaves become valleys, mountains. A floral landscape emerges, bursting. The domestic moment is no longer quiet. Whether returning to an original, wild energy or reveling in refined cultivation, on canvas the flowers sing.

This is just one of several statements that I have prepared. The whole business of "artist's statements" seems sort of contrived, and I have a hard time with articulating a statement. And that is partly why I have been working at this blog, to get some of those difficult artist thoughts out and written.

I have benefited from the help of a few good friends who are more experienced writers, among them one is a poet, and one an actor, a Phd in Literature helps too. I had some suggestions for titles to my paintings, this one is titled "My Heart Tonight".

Saturday, December 12, 2009

post-mortem about the show

What a busy last couple of weeks with the art show and then a week of teaching, including taking 27 upper-school students to the Art Institute of Chicago on the train. Lots of bad weather to complicate matters, trekking through blowing snow and bitter winds to the museum with high spirited 6th graders (they did not mind the weather).
I am finally starting to relax and clean out the rubble in my studio. Art shows are such a huge amount of work for the artists.
At this time, my feelings about the One of a Kind Show are mostly disappointment. I did not make much in sales and lost money on the endeavor. On the positive side, I have many new contacts which I intend to follow up. And I did have a very good time interacting with all the visitors who came by.
Above, one of my paintings, titled "Moonlight Rose" 40x30 acrylic on canvas, framed.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

visitors to my show

I had many visitors from the private classical school where I have been teaching. This adorable little girl is one of my best students. What fun to see her and the family.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The show ends

The dust has just barely settled. Photos from the installation days last week.
Loading the trusty van.
Getting the big pieces to line up!
Finished booth set up.
Ready for visitors to arrive.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The show begins

Today is the first of four days that I will be exhibiting at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago. The show is called The One of a Kind Show and Sale and it is on the 8th floor of the Mart overlooking the Chicago River in one of the busiest parts of the city.
I have been carrying artwork down city blocks, pounding nails, and hanging paintings for the past two days. Now I am going to be in my booth meeting people (I hope) for the next nine hours.
Here is my booth yesterday afternoon in the midst of the assembly stage.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

pigs are still here

This pig book project stayed around for a long time and I have used it a lot for promotion. I have not had another whimsical illustration project like it in a while. I have often used the dancing girl pig as an icon. I have a thought that it would be fun to put her on a coffee mug using one of those online services like Cafe Press.

Friday, November 27, 2009

not all pigs

Other animals appeared in the pig's world. There was a musical competition which, of course, the pigs won. Three siamese cats and a baboon had a song and dance number.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Free Pigs in town

Here are the Free Pigs in town, enjoying lemonade and sandwiches. I had always wanted to create a imaginary world. I did portray a few people from my life in this painting. My husband the great philosopher expounding at the table, wearing a yellow suit. And my mother-in-law in the center pushing her new grandchild in the stroller. You can see she is happily bragging to anyone who will listen about her grandchildren.
Another great thing about being a free pig is that one can eat all they want of anything that pleases. These pigs are indulging in a child's dream, cavorting in an endless supply of jellybeans.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

pigs that are free

For my Thanksgiving post I will visit a book illustration project that was published some time ago.
I am thankful for this imaginative opportunity that came my way. "The Free Pigs" was published by a small company in Wisconsin. I do not know if it is still available, it never had a large printing or publicity.
The fine fellow pictured here is Polonius the pig, He was the invention of the author, I did not write this book. But I gave him life, visually, borrowing from a painting of one of the Kings of France to pose him.
I used watercolor, over a fine pen line, and some pencil shading. This is just one of the techniques that I have used in illustration, I have changed mediums sometimes just to give a different feel to the project. This was a joyful, exuberant humorous project. It took me most of a year to complete with other jobs going on, and a pregnancy and new baby too.
So I had a good time with this. Here are pigs dancing for joy. I am especially fond of the lady pig in her yellow dress. Maybe she is myself.
And here are pigs eating popcorn and drinking apple cider. Good times.
And some pigs reading in the library. Lots of fun making up the book titles.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

still painting sunflowers

And really enjoying it. Someone said to me, "Aren't you worried that you will only be known for the sunflowers?" Well, for the big show at the Merchandise Mart in December, I will be happy if someone remembers me for anything.
I think that they are very eye-catching. And I have put all my personal joy and hope into them, so I feel good about showing these.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Why do we take the time

To make value studies and color sketches?
As I teach about the art process to young people, I must constantly explain about the need to plan, to sketch and make studies ahead of the finish.
And also that they must slow down,
take their time and not rush to get the final project done.
I have often watched a student prepare a fairly nice watercolor wash and then ruin it with a hasty blobby brushstroke, just because they wanted to finish fast.
Here are my color studies of the sunflower series that I am working on now.

Monday, November 16, 2009

more sun

Definitely needed now that we are halfway through November.
Still working on the five sunflower paintings.
I work on them simultaneously, because I like going from one to the other surrounded by these big bright faces.
I can correct shapes or edges that look wrong, when I glance back over my shoulder at the work from yesterday.
And part of the fun is the variations I am playing with in the color combinations and backgrounds.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Thinking about giclee prints

I have been thinking about having some of my watercolors made into giclee prints.
I have found a very good company that scans original art and makes very fine prints. I looked at their work made from a friend's monoprint and could not tell which was the original.
This is a new venture for me, I have not sold in the fine art market much.
I can't get over the big financial investment I will have to make out of pocket to have the prints made, and then to sell them.
I really hope it is worth it.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

red paint

Allow me to explain a little bit about how I work with acrylic paint. This is my method for working on big canvases, I wouldn't use it for everything. I also work with acrylics in a more traditional watercolor approach.
I love red paint. Well, I just love big color anyway. But, to satisfy the love for the red paint, I always start on a background of bright red.
I like to draw these large flower compositions from life, right on the raw canvas, using my contour line method. I'll draw with ink, or paint or a fat marker. This gives me a looseness, a gestural quality, and fresh immediacy.
I often then go over the line with a bolder painted line, here you can see, in a cobalt sort of bright blue. Next step, a coat of bright red.
I like the emotional jolt I get when starting out with the bright red. And then, because acrylics are mostly transparent, I can use the red base to get a depth to my colors. I do a lot of glazing, and scumbling switching back and forth from thin to fat brush strokes.
By the time I move into a final stage of painting, the fresh flower that I started with is long gone, at this point something else switches on in my artist's mind. My final vision for the color and tone of the piece is not usually bright colors. The painting becomes something else, no longer the subject of flowers, but a statement of shapes, flowing forms, more like a landscape from my mind.

Monday, November 9, 2009

working in the sun

I am feeling very warm and sunny in spite of the clocks turned back and the early dark gloomy afternoons.
I am finishing five canvases, 30"by 40" composed of huge sunflowers.
I intend these for my upcoming show in December at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago.
Until I have the entire painting finished, I can only post my scan of a bit and a corner.
When I am finished with all five, I will have them photographed to show the entirety.

Monday, November 2, 2009

marigold yellow

All Soul's Day is traditionally November 2. Also celebrated as El Dia de los Muertos when one of the customs is to decorate graves with lots of marigolds.
My offering today is a bit of a scan of my much larger painting. I am working on a series of sunflowers, with lots of yellows of all varieties.
This painting is in process, lots of work still going into the finish.

ginkgo yellow

Such a gorgeous fall day today. I went for 5 mile run with my faithful studio companion (mentioned in my previous post).

The Ginkgo tree has dropped all,
leaving a pool of melted butter on the ground.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

the artist's dog

My faithful studio companion got too close to my palette and stuck his head into a pool of cadmium red light.
It doesn't show up much in this photo, but it looks like he has a bleeding ear.
Could this be his halloween costume this year?
He is posing for us in front of one of my sunflower paintings in progress.

Monday, October 26, 2009

warmer yet

My front yard looks as though giant paint tubes of cadmium red and cadmium yellow have exploded and splattered everywhere. I have a wonderful maple tree that is giving me so much pleasure this week. I gathered leaves today just to marvel at the colors, nothing I can paint will capture this complexity and brilliance. I scanned some of my leaves just to save this moment and share.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


A very large, very warm canvas of a huge hibiscus flower.
(Maybe I should wait and post this painting in the middle of January, when I will really need the heat.)
I intend to display this one at my big show in December.
48"x48" acrylic on canvas

Thursday, October 22, 2009


The fall colors in the Chicago area where I live are just now peaking. It doesn't matter if the sky is clear and blue or overcast and murky gray, the colors are really intense. I can enjoy the effect of a brilliant red maple on a rainy dark day even more. Or, the thrill of nearly black wet tree trunks that contrast with yellow and gold foliage along the roadside.
Another detail that I scanned off a much larger painting of another hibiscus flower. And this is really how brilliant the colors are that I can see from my studio window today.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Lovely October days make you happy to feel the warmth of the sun and to see the red and gold colors. This is a plus factor about living in the Northern Illinois area.
I am painting a series for my big show in December. Lots of sunflowers, which I will show as I finish.
And this is a detail from a very warm tone painting of a hibiscus flower. I didn't get a photo of the whole thing, but I like this snippet of the texture and edges.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The new design

I redesigned my website. My family calls this effort my "hobby". It is true that I am frequently working on it and months go by without anything to show for it. Isn't it also true that it is hardest to design something (like promotional material) for yourself?
A wise friend finally said to me "Think of it as just one of many websites you will do, not your ONLY one" Good advice. That does take the pressure off somewhat.
I thought about that advice when I ran the Chicago Marathon, (I have finished 3 times now) and it helped to think "this isn't my only chance, I can try again". So enjoy the race while you are out there, don't think of it as the only time you'll ever run it. (Pardon me for bragging on my own blog.)
So there it is, another attempt to show my stuff on my website and naturally as soon as it is up and running I will want to change it all again.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Summer is Over

Is Summer already over and gone? This is the last of these Rose of Sharon from life then.
I post this painting to the memory of Rosasharn Joad.

Monday, August 31, 2009

stand and stare

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
-from "Leisure," by W.H. Davies 1911

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Rose of Sharon

I love that name. I say it over to myself as I am drawing, it sounds so poetic. I am not as happy with the painting of this one. But, happy for me, there are a hundred new blossoms waiting out there just for me today.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

my own backyard

I have some bountiful Rose of Sharon bushes blooming in the August heat. Everyday I walk past the bushes on my way to do errands and stop and wonder how I will paint them. No more wondering, I will "just do it" as the advertisements say. Here is a first warm up.

Friday, July 31, 2009

More detail about the Fourth Question

As this is my favorite book project so far I am going to take the opportunity to show more about what made the storytelling part of the project so much fun. I used a visual device of inserting a circle within each spread to explain the action ahead or tell more of the story than what was on each page. Did I mention that this is a wordless book? It is meant to be used in a series as classroom aids in various language programs. Here is the circle where I describe a

conversation between the young man and
his poor aged mother as she urges him
to seek help by asking a question of
the wisest man in the kingdom.

In this circle,the young man is sitting on a rock beside a huge river that he cannot cross.
I put a tortoise next to him, it is symbol in Chinese art of wisdom and divining the future.
I enjoyed adding details to the art that were a result of my research into Chinese art history and the symbolic meanings of animals in art.
Here is a spread showing the palace of the wisest man in the kingdom, this is where the young man must gain entry to ask his questions. I used my own photos from my trip to China for this. I had seen the Forbidden City in Beijing and it is full of marble lions and dragons. Also there is the famous Nine Dragon Wall made of glazed ceramic tile where I got my idea for the bright blue and gold dragon that is a main character in this story.
The wisest man in the kingdom is styled after a painting of a Chinese Emperor. I forget now which dynasty, but this emperor looked so genial and wise in his real portrait.

As we end the story the young man has to travel all the way back the way he came, disappointed that he could not get the answer to his own question, but helping all the others that he promised, the dragon, the man with nine cats, and the woman with a beautiful but handicapped daughter. The dragon gives him a magic healing pearl, the man with cats gives him gold, and the beautiful daughter regains her voice and marries him. Here I tell the part about when the beautiful girl sees the young man and they fall in love. Notice the rabbits in the corner, they symbolize happy marriage and, of course fertility.
And now the last page, a spread with all the elements of a happy ending. The aged mother is enjoying prosperity with her grandchildren, the young man has a beautiful wife, they live in the same little house but it is fixed up nicely, and all is well, even the family pig has babies.