Sunday, December 29, 2013

Giverny Progression

I'm playing catch-up for the next couple of days with my blog.
This one had been languishing in drafts for a while.

I took a photo of the bridge at Giverney last April.
The wisteria vines were NOT in bloom.
But I added them.
I love being an artist.

I started with the darks, then built up the lights
and paint layers.
Et Voila!

"Pleasure Garden"
oil on panel
9  x 12

Friday, December 27, 2013

2014 Calendar

Here is my pen and ink for the 2014 Community First Bank Calendar. 
 I have always been intrigued by the 
Italianate belfry on the Methodist Church in Birmingham, Iowa.  

The bank has a branch office there so I decided to "branch out" beyond Keosauqua this year.
Some people have called the facade "the Alamo" style.  

Monday, November 25, 2013

Along the River

I just dropped this painting off at the Fairfield Art Association Member Show in Fairfield, Iowa.

In October Carlene Dingman Atwater and I went out to paint for a few hours along the Des Moines River in Farmington, Iowa.  
We set up undercover at the picnic shelter "just in case".  
The sun came out from beneath the clouds for a moment before the storm hit.

Lightening, thunder and wind challenged us but we persevered.  
And then I went back to the studio and "fixed" my painting.

                                  "Autumn Finale".  12" x 12". Oil on Canvas

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Quiet Corner

The little pond in the corner of the 
Bentonsport Rose Garden
is quite charming and is
a lovely place for an artist to paint.

"Quiet Corner"
9" x 12"  oil on panel

The Rose Garden is planted and maintained by
local volunteers.  
They do a great job in a challenging location.

The Rose Garden is planted within the stone walls 
of a historic mill pond that is
 subject to periodic flooding from the Des Moines River.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Beautiful Crested Butte

I am so thankful that I had the opportunity
 to paint in beautiful
 Crested Butte, Colorado this summer.

Even more thank you's to Kim and Bryce and their girls for 
being such wonderful hosts.

Now this is the way to walk the dogs!

The painting workshop with Don Sahli was an exceptional experience.
He encourages spontaneity, passion and teaches his students to 
"see the relationship of color, form and design in nature". 

Don was one of the last students of Russian School master painter Segei Bongart.
He carries on this legacy by teaching others the essentials of painting.

Don stresses that learning to paint better involves miles of canvas
 and the discipline to paint.  
He also stresses that painting is about enjoying the journey
without thinking about a style or what might sell.
(I might add that his paintings sell pretty darn well.)

He asked us to start with a quick wash
and a minimal sketch on the canvas.

Then we blocked in the shapes with color
 as if we were working on
an abstract painting.  

This is the view from the highway from the road that
runs past the Crested Butte Ski Area.
The wildflowers were in full bloom. 

I had a lot of fun painting this one on the last day.
I tried to keep the values lighter and the colors brighter than
my usual plein air paintings.  
With some gentle suggestions from my teacher 
concerning over-thinking...

On the last afternoon Don did his demo painting after lunch.
Some of us stayed to paint in the afternoon for a couple more hours.
By the time I found the view that I wanted to paint
I only had about an hour to complete my painting.

It is really a block in I suppose.
But I felt that I was finally finding my way around in the new palette.

Don's palette for you artists out there is:

Phtalo blue, Ultramarine blue, Cobalt blue, Cerulean blue
Viridian green, Cadmium yellow light, Cad yellow medium
Cad yellow deep, Cad orange, Cad red light
Alizarin crimson, Transparent red oxide, Yellow Ochre
Titanium white and Ivory/Carbon black.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Work, Work, Workshop!

I attended a challenging workshop in Crested Butte, Colorado in July.
The instructor was Denver artist Don Sahli.
 His colorful and energetic landscape and still life paintings
 are inspirational.

After a few years of hoping to find a Sahli workshop
that fit our schedule the stars finally aligned

and we were able to combine the workshop with a visit
 to our niece Kim and her charming and active family.

They kept Uncle Rick and the dogs happy with lots of
 hiking, picnicking and laughter.

So the timing was right, the locations were spectacular and
the instructor is talented.
He uses a full range palette, this is where the challenge begins for me.

I have been using a limited palette for many years
 so the idea of painting with a palette of 15 colors
 was a bit daunting!
But, being one who enjoys a new challenge
 combined with some palette boredom, I just jumped right in.

Oh, I need to add that we were required to use canvases that were
 16" by 20"or larger....for plein air!
For those readers who are not painters, this is a huge size.
Most plein air paintings are 9" x 12" or smaller!

Oh, yes, in addition to the expanded palette and the increased size,
we only had two hours to complete the paintings
 before leaving for a new painting location.

Those of you who paint with me know that I can paint pretty quickly
but this was just a wild ride.

 Don's advice was invaluable, he sees ones strengths and weaknesses
 and helps guide you to greater understanding of
your painting process.

The group that gathered for this workshop was 
up for the challenge as well.
Most were experienced artists looking to improve their painting
 and many of them were repeat offenders at Don's workshops.

All of them were great fun although, we worked so hard and so quickly,
our socializing time was at a minimum.

Don did a demonstration painting at each location too.
You learn so much by just watching him paint.
These were very full days.

The paintings in this blog post are 
from the first two days of Don's workshop.

I have the urge to go back and "improve" them a little
particularly the first one.  
The little barn doesn't integrate fully into the landscape.
Oh well.... 

More on the final day of painting, the colors in Don's palette 
and his process in my next post.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Bonaparte's Bridge

I really haven't done much plein air painting this summer
for various reasons.

This little painting was actually done in my studio.

 I went to Bonaparte (Iowa) to paint 
with my Fort Madison artist friend Carlene Atwater in May.

"Bonaparte's Bridge"
4" x 8" - Oil on canvas

I did a plein air painting using the old Glove Factory building as my subject.  It is now a lovely Inn and has a wonderful facade.  I wasn't happy with that painting so....

I had taken a photo of the Bonaparte Bridge
 because I've always loved it's
faded green paint.

And...I had this wee little canvas.
So I cut my losses and had fun painting this little darling.

Here is a not very good photo of the Bonaparte Inn.
I hear it is for sale.
It has been very sensitively remodeled
 and has a ballroom on the top floor.
Any takers?

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Soft Song of the River

Here is another painting from this summer.
I am still working on catching up with my blog posts....

"Soft Song of the River"
9 x 12 - Oil on panel

Gin Lammert and I went to the Bentonsport Rose Garden
on a gentle June morning to paint for a couple of hours.

The sky was overcast and
we had just missed a little early morning river fog (darn it).
The sun never did break through to give us a little contrast.

Every time I look at this little painting I have the urge to go back
and paint in some stronger highlights and darks.
What do others do when all the values are in the middle of the scale?

Sometimes "improvements" are not for the best.....

Monday, September 23, 2013

Excuses, Excuses!

 I have so many excuses for not posting
for the last 3 months.
Most of them are pretty lame.

The hardest part of starting to blog again is
 determining where to pick up the thread of what I have painted
since my last post in June.

It has been a wonderful summer, after a spring full of rainy days.

Here is an early spring view up the Des Moines River
from Lacey-Keosauqua State Park.

 "Up River"  
9 x 12 - oil on board

I photographed the finished painting on May 18th!

No regrets....Onward!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Great Evening!

Thank you to all the friends who joined us at Burns Gallery and Tea Emporium
 for the opening of our group show

"All Together"

Thank you as well to Sue and Ken Burns for your support
for our local artists!

(and thanks for the great selection of frames that you have)

And thank you to Carlene Dingman Atwater 
and Gin Lammert for your friendship, support and inspiration.
Click on the links above and check out their respective blogs!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Take Flight

I have been having fun painting planes this year.
I tried to stay loose with this Fairchild 22.
It is more about the feeling of flight than an airplane illustration.

Take Flight
10" x 20" oil on panel

Now it has flown off to be framed
 by Ken at Burns Gallery and Tea Emporium
 in Bonaparte, Iowa.

I will be including this and other paintings
 in a group show with my painting buddies
 Carlene Dingman Atwater and Gin Lammert 
at the gallery in June.

This painting was inspired by yet another photo 
in Eric Presten's book Vintage Flyers.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

A Visit to Monet's Garden

I was in Paris a couple of weeks ago
 and made another visit to Giverney to see Monet's Garden.

The cherries were in bloom in front of Monet's iconic pink and green house.

I walked to the other side of the garden
 and sat for a while on a bench near the pond.

My sister Mary was with me.
She sat alongside me and read while I did a little painted sketch.

Here is the sepia drawing I did with my new waterproof sepia sharpie.
Thanks Dawn, for the gift of the soon to be discontinued color!

Here is my finished sketch.
Well it's not mine anymore, I gave it to Mary as a keepsake of an absolutely perfect day.
It was all too short a visit as always.

I took lots of photos so I hope to do a few more paintings
in the coming months.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Something Fishy

This little fish swam up through the wet weather
 to the Clear Lake Art Center 
for their May fundraiser. 

Arty Fish Al
5 x 7 Watercolor

I haven't had much time to paint lately.
I've painted a few watercolors
 including several versions of this one.

I'm sure hoping that it warms up and I can get outside to paint.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Bright Prairie

A little summer.

Bright Prairie
14" x 18" - oil on canvas

This is one of a series based on a plein air painting I did
 out in the tall grass of my friend Jeanette's prairie two summers ago.
Has it been that long?  Wow!
(You can see that painting on my September 3, 2012 blog post)

From the first study I did a 24" x 36" painting.
That painting won the top award
 at the Fort Madison Art Center Member's Show in 2012.
More on that in a future post.

These paintings have been fun to do with the palette knife.
I tried to paint this one a little brighter and higher key than the others.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Moon-ish River

I took a picture of the moon rising over the 
Des Moines River this winter.

I played around with it in watercolor this week at art class.
Bill Teeple kept encouraging me to simplify.
This is always hard for me.
I'm a wordy/detail kinda gal.

I did various versions and struggled with my usual inability to take
the image dark enough without losing luminosity.

I like this one best although it has more color than I intended.

Bill thought that the backlighting from the iPad
 helped to enhance the glow.

A runny one.
Now if I can do one that is runny/watery and dark?
Next time.

Isn't this one great?
It is..... the PHOTO!
I really should try this in oil but love the challenge of watercolor.

Friday, March 1, 2013


I realized yesterday when I was taking down my show 
at the Keokuk Art Center
 that I had never posted some of the larger
 non - "30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge" paintings.

Arbor Dance  

12 x 20 - oil on panel

I did a pastel of these redbuds at a Doug Dawson workshop in St. Louis
a number of years ago.  
I have shown that painting but have never offered it for sale. 
It was a "mile marker " of a sort and I have kept it
 as a reminder of the benefits of simplification.

I have always wanted to see if I could reproduce the freshness 
of that pastel in oil paint.
It is similar but altogether a different beast.
The colors are more powerful in oil, 
the pastel has a more ephemeral quality.

These little redbuds are now in the gallery 
at the Fort Madison Art Center
where I hope they will inspire spring to come a little more quickly.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Cedar Snow

I love the way the heavy snow weighs down the branches
 on the cedar trees outside my studio.

Cedar Snow
Watercolor - 6 x 8

I did this last week at my Art Class with Bill Teeple
at ICON Gallery in Fairfield.
I am only allowed to do watercolor under supervision.

This is the second version.
The first one was fussier and Bill encouraged me to simplify 
and then told me to STOP.
Which is always helpful advice and he was right.

This one is another contender for our 2013 Christmas card.

Friday, February 8, 2013

30 in 30 - One Week After

It has been one week since the end of the 
30 Paintings in 30 Days experiment.

My show at the Keokuk Art Center with my friend 
opened last Friday and runs through the end of February.

Don't I look happy?

I finished 30 paintings in 30 days and had more than enough paintings for the show.

Many thanks to Ken Burns at Burns Gallery and Tea Emporium
 in Bonaparte, Iowa for finishing the framing in time.

I spent the rest of the week catching up on everything that I had ignored in January.

Bentonsport Gazebo
6" x 12" Watercolor on paper

The little watercolor above will be included
 in the Keosauqua Lions Club Soup Supper and auction tonight.

I usually donate an oil painting
but decided to give my friends something different this year. 

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Quiet Day - Day # 30

This was my back-up painting.
It was painted on New Years Day looking out my studio window.

Quiet Day
8" x 8" oil on panel

Today is Day 30 of the 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge.
I'm a little sad that the Challenge is over.
But only a little.

I will reflect on it tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Lily Pond - Day #29

Maybe you recognize this Lily Pond?

Lily Pond 
10" x 10" oil on panel

It is intimidating to paint something that has been painted so many times.
Monet gave the world many wonderful gifts
including this pond.

The tulips were in bloom when I visited 
with some other garden loving ladies last spring.

The sun was in and out.
It sprinkled.
And it hailed a bit.

Can't wait to go back again.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

True Blue - Day # 28

A little still life of an oft painted pitcher.
It was a gift from a friend (Thanks Eva).

True Blue
6" x 6" oil on panel

Took a trip to Keokuk, Iowa today to help hang the February show at the Keokuk Art Center.
Carlene Dingman Atwater and I are sharing the show.
We shared a show in Fort Madison last August.

We have both been painting for Leslie Saeta's 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge.
While we don't each have 30 paintings in the show we managed to fill up their large gallery.

At the opening on Friday we plan to have a slide show of
all 60 of our combined paintings
 on a large photo frame.

In addition we would like everyone to be able to take a look at our blogs.
 We plan to have 2 iPads going so they can see what we did in January 2013. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Loopy - Day #27

I'm feeling a little loopy keeping up with painting every day
 for the 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge.

In addition I am getting ready for a show at the Keokuk, Iowa Art Center that I am sharing with my artist friend 
Carlene Dingman Atwater.

We will be showing quite a few of our 30 Day paintings.
The ones that are DRY!

5" x 7" - Oil on Panel

The reference photo was taken at a Canadian airshow 
 by Prince Edward Island Photographer Stephan DesRoches
who was kind enough to give me permission to use it for this painting.

This is quite a small painting and was done wet over dry.
I painted the blue background the night before 
with a low toxicity M. Graham Alkyd/Walnut Oil medium.

I think I will do a larger version in the future 
and paint it wet into wet.
This should create more of an atmospheric effect
which should be fun.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Relax and Paint - Day #26

I haven't been to Figure Drawing in Fairfield
 for a long time.
So I decided that I should go and paint 
my Day #26 painting there.

5" x 5" Watercolor

I think that I need to attend more often and a big   
to Jim for his encouragement.

I always seem to elongate the bodies of the models.
I must have "Mannerist" tendencies.

It was fun to relax and draw.


Saturday, January 26, 2013

Hollyhocks - Day #25

Hollyhocks from my garden last summer.

10" x 10" oil on panel

These were growing in front of a rough weathered wood wall
 and caught my eye because the wood had
 a purplish cast behind the pale lemon yellow hollyhocks.

I did the rough-in for the painting and quit for the day.
When I came back I liked it so much that I gave it a touch-up and left it alone.

And you know that this is no easy task for any artist
 but especially for me!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Widgeon - The Plane - Day #24

It's airplane day today.

5" x 7" oil on panel

I love this plane.
It is amphibious, it lands on water and your local runway.
A girl can dream.
(and paint planes for fun)

Jimmy Buffett owned one of these planes 
and he put it into the sea off of Nantucket.

Then he bought the larger version - 
I think that was a Grumman Otter?
I loaned out my copy of "A Pirate Looks at 50" and it wasn't returned so I guess that I will just guess.

The reference photo is from Eric Presten's book 
"Vintage Flyers III" and is used with his permission 
and well wishes.
Thanks Eric!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Spring Green - Day #23

The light was coming through the clouds 
and it hit the neighbor's field just perfectly.

Spring Green
5" x 7" oil on panel

I'm glad I stopped and took the reference photo for this painting, one never knows what will be planted in that field next year. 

I tried to keep this subject very soft and diffused to reflect the warm, hazy, cloudy atmosphere of the spring day.

I didn't push the really bright intense green that you see
 in an Iowa spring.  It just isn't quite believable in paint.
Those of you from the midwest know what I mean.

Maybe next time....

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Field Day - Day #22

Red grain carts out in the field 
look like agricultural sculptures.

Field Day
8" x 10" - oil on panel

If they are another color I really don't like them as much.
Something about the red and gold.