Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Force That Through The Green Fuse

...Drives the Flower. 
I love that first line by Dylan Thomas.
Another large painting resulting after lots of painting sessions from the day that I was given so many  fresh  irises at the Waco Iris Show. 
This one is in the private collection of some art lovers here in Wheaton.
Acrylic on canvas 30" by 36"

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sacred Blue Windows

That's the title I gave to this painting.
I painted this in while in Texas in the days following the famous Waco Iris Show.
The painting now resides in the home of a private collector in Waco where it rightly belongs.
Acrylic on canvas. 36x48"

Monday, May 25, 2009

A story about myself, Texas, and some iris flower paintings

A few years ago I lived  briefly in Waco, Texas. The winter was mild and lovely compared to Chicago. 
And  springtime was incredible, everything is bigger in Texas as they say, including the masses of wildflowers on hillsides, roadways, and even empty corner lots. 
One Saturday morning I was looking at the local newspaper and saw an announcement about the Waco Iris Society having the annual flower show. This called for a spontaneous change of plans, I found the address and lots of dedicated iris lovers showing off their amazing blooms. 
They had all the flowers displayed in vases, and there was judging with ribbons and prizes. 
People are friendly in Texas (to a shy person from the north) so I told a few that I am an artist and really love to paint irises. 
"Oh well, come on back in an hour or two- you all can have all you want. Because these are cut blooms for the show judges, we are going to throw them away." 
So I returned, this time with every bucket, jar, and bottle I could grab. For a few days,  I drew and painted all the fresh irises I could have ever dreamed of having in my studio. I now have a number of large finished paintings from those sessions.
Here is one, I ended up giving it away as a wedding gift. Acrylic on canvas, 24" by 24"

Friday, May 22, 2009

A whole lot of blue, and pink, and yellow, and green... Oh My!

It is spring! 
So much going on out of doors, every day is bursting with a new color that I haven't seen before.
One of my all time time favorite painting subjects is the iris flower. They are just beginning to show up around my neighborhood.  Here is  a detail from a larger painting. I have lots more to share on this subject.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Bluebells are all over the yard this week, it has been rainy and cool to keep them happy.
These are the wild flower variety, Virginia Bluebell, they only last a few days. 
I have been down with the flu myself this past week, and yet felt just good enough to get a sketch made before the flowers wither with the brighter sunny days of spring.
I am in love with cobalt blue. (again if you click on the image you will see it larger)

Monday, May 18, 2009

She wore her yellow sun-bonnet,

She wore her yellow sun-bonnet,
She wore her greenest gown;
She turned to the south wind
And curtsied up and down.
She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbour;
"Winter is dead."

 by A. A. Milne

Thursday, May 7, 2009

A Portrait of a Young Woman

This sketch was started two months ago as a portrait to celebrate her twenty-first birthday.
However, my model was restless and impatient to pose for long. I coerced her into reading a magazine while she sat but even that wasn't enough. She has so much to do! And she is always in a hurry!  
I  almost threw the drawing away because I wasn't happy with the likeness and found too many compositional problems with the pose.  Yesterday while thinking of her, I took the paper out and played with some washes and light and dark effects. Fortunately this is on very heavy watercolor paper and can take some scrubbing and mess.
Today I think I like some parts of this and even more I like how the demure pose, crossed hands, and light across the face echo some of the great Italian Renaissance art that I admire.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Le Grand Louvre and the Italians

The Italian painting collection in the Louvre was my favorite and above all I love the artists from Florence. This figure of an angel is from a fragment of a Fra Angelico altarpiece. I also loved Giotto, Fra Filipo Lippi, and  most of all Botticelli.
Maybe my next trip (in my dreams) will be to Italy? Florence?

Monday, May 4, 2009

Madonna with the Green Cushion

I gave up trying to sketch the Da Vinci and another painting nearby caught my eye. I drew it quickly at first and then another time  to enjoy the shapes, lights, and darks. 
I didn't know anything about this artist and have just now looked him up on the internet to educate myself. He is called Solario from Milan and he is considered to be very close stylistically to Da Vinci. Do you suppose that this is because he lived in France too like Da Vinci and painted this in about the same few years as the "Virgin and Saint Anne"? (alas this isn't an art history blog).
What moved me about this painting is more of a personal story. As a mother myself who has spent plenty of time nursing an infant, I was taken by the natural details. First, the green cushion, a woman must position a cushion like this to support her arm around the child. My heart went out to the way she is holding the baby in the most common nursing pose. And then, notice that the baby is playing with his foot while he nurses.  The Christ Child and His Chubby little Toes!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Louvre all to myself

A friend has asked me "what artwork moved you the most in the Louvre?" How to summarize  centuries and miles of art?
If I could pick anything for now, my theme  would be the Madonna and Child.
 I really loved all that I saw by Raphael ( the sketch above is from "The Virgin and Child with Saint John the Baptist", but I left out the John figure) (also called "La Belle Jardiniere) and of course, the incredible faces of women by Botticelli. 
There were two masterpieces by Leonardo Da Vinci of  the Madonna and Child. 
"The Virgin, the Child Jesus and Saint Anne" was really dark and sort of weird, and I mean that both literally and figuratively. 
Next to it was the even more famous, "The Virgin of the Rocks".
This was so  beautiful, I was moved.  I wanted to stand and sketch it and give it concentrated attention but it was one of the stops on the official tour guide route. You know what that means, every few minutes, like trains pulling into a busy terminal, a huge group of tourists rushed over to crowd themselves about, listen briefly to a tour guide, snap photos, and stand in front of it to document themselves with this work of art.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

We call him the beast

This is my dog, my studio companion, my athletic trainer, and many other job descriptions. He is also  a Guide dog for the Directionally Challenged and a proven Mood Stabilizer.
I did this quick sketch to warm up today. In addition to his other responsibilities, he is also an artist's model.
I drew this in pencil, scanned it into my computer and added the color notes with the digital program Corel Painter. I then saved in Photoshop.

Friday, May 1, 2009

The missing sketch

People in Paris love artists. I received more smiles, more kind glances, and space was made for me wherever I stood when I was sketching. (Except for the guide in the Sainte-Chapelle, but admittedly I did offend him).
We had a lunch at a place on Rue Mouffetard, old and charming as can possible be. The sign over the doorway read "Ernest Hemingway lived in this building from 1921 to 1925" and if that isn't enough , "in this house died on 8 January 1896 the poet Paul Verlaine".
The restaurant was named La Maison de Verlaine. My great moment came when the owner walked by my table and looked at my sketches. He then brought me a guestbook that he presumably keeps for more famous people to sign.  And he asked me to draw in his book and sign it. So I sketched the scene from where I sat, tables, wine bottles, plant growing in the window, random memorabilia on the wall.  I left that sketch there!  I was so flattered.