Friday, October 4, 2013


EEK! This newbie pastelist has just dropped off three paintings for consideration in an exhibit ... a first for me! I've officially dipped my big toe in the water! Here are the paintings framed and ready to leave my studio. I'll keep you posted on what happens!

On another note, the former interior designer in me has bubbled to the surface in my paintings. Lately I've been painting interiors and, duh! ... I've always been passionate about rooms and how they speak to me, so why wasn't I focusing on interiors before? I even learned to do artist's renderings when I was in interior design school in San Francisco ... er, a thousand years ago. I don't remember everything about perspective drawing but enough to limp along. Here are a couple I did last week ... just some practice paintings. The bedroom reminds me of a bedroom one might see in a lovely apartment on the Upper East Side, which ... for those of you who know me well know that is where I dream of living!

The chair painting below is one of two matching chairs in a bay window in our bedroom in Austin, which makes a cozy reading and writing vignette. In, shall we say ... the Lower South Side.

Stay tuned ... more to come now that I've got my bum wing working a little better!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

My Lame Excuse

What's my excuse for not posting or painting for a month?
It's a lame excuse, actually.
No, I mean really. It's a lame excuse.

I have been out of commission with frozen shoulder. Right shoulder. Painting arm.  #!&%*!#*!

It started with a minor injury while zip lining in Costa Rica last March. Then it all went downhill from there.

Just so ya know... shoulder injury + no doctor visit + 3 months go by + still no doctor visit = frozen shoulder.

And if you DO zip line, don't go inverted, like this. Unless you're like 26 years old. Which I am not.
Yup. That's yours truly.
So because I can't raise my arm to the easel without making yelping sounds, I've been down in the dumps. Yesterday however, my little pastel group met up at Katherine's wonderful studio in Wimberley and I picked up a pastel for the first time in a month. But with my left hand, not with my gimpy right arm. Still, it was interesting and fun to see what came from painting with the non-dominate hand. Nothing masterful by any means, but really loosey-goosey, kind of abstract-y and fun.

AND, our pastelist friend Vicki, whom we met at the IAPS convention in Albuquerque last month, was able to join us yesterday. And she's lame too! Exciting! (No.) Vicki had a very bad frozen shoulder condition and had surgery as soon as the convention was over. The recovery for this surgery is especially long, difficult and painful and Vicki is now in the throes of it. Here we are showing you our bum wings.

Here's a little photo journal of our pastel day.

Jane and Vicki creating masterpieces .....

This is an underpainting that Katherine started yesterday. The final painting will be magnificent, I promise you.

Nancy's doing research .........

Jane's lovely work in progress. And I wish I could tell you that Katherine is demonstrating some interesting pastel technique but she's really just describing how long her (other) dachshund's toe nails are getting. That's Fox, the doxie in the photo. Her nails aren't too bad, but her brother's ... daggers! 

I swear Nancy really didn't just flip through books all day .... she's already finished a gorgeous painting; it's there on the table. 

Vicki works on her art board at a slant as her shoulder recovers from surgery. But still, OW!

My lefty painting in progress. Meh. But it sure felt good to get messy with pastels again! (hint: it's a landscape.)

Sooooo, notes to self:

At this point in your life (i.e. old) stop doing things that you could effortlessly do when you were younger but you only hurt yourself when you attempt them now! Like .....

No more skateboarding (remember the cracked elbow?)
No more cartwheels (another inversion that causes serious back pain the next day) 
No more pack trips on horses (remember the 3 broken ribs after being thrown? Search & Rescue had to come take you out ... remember?) 
And no more zip-lining. Especially inverted!

But painting is always okay.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

So cool ... and warm.

Oh, how I love Margaret Dyer's work and how I loved her talk and demo at IAPS in Albuquerque earlier this month. Her methods clicked with me, especially the layering of warm and cool colors of the same value. As she said, this gives your painting energy and vibration. I've done a little practicing with that, from photos we were all lucky to shoot of a model she had there.

Here is the demo Margaret did of the model ... in a little over an hour! (Sorry they aren't more in focus.)
She builds the painting by starting with the darkest darks and layering the warms and cools.  Look at that purple and blue in the shadows on the arms!

I love all the colors she uses in the skin especially. She says the color is arbitrary, it's the value she reaches for. You can see the energy coming through the layers of temperatures. Well, maybe not so much in MY photos of her painting, but trust me.

Now I try. Same model but this is from photos I took of her.

The deep red shadows are my darkest darks.

At this point the skin shows cool colors.

I layered some warm colors onto the cool colors in the skin here, trying to choose the same values. But I do have trouble with value! 
Then I layered cool colors on again ....
Margaret suggested about four layers I think, but did I do four? No. In my usual style I got carried away and did about eight! I think the painting started to get away from me and I felt like I was losing control of it. I began to get confused about my values!

So here (below) is what I ended up with at quittin' time. It's okay but I think I liked it better about two layers ago. Bearing that in mind, I may try this one again sometime. I like the model's pose and the lighting.

And here is another one I did using the Margaret Method. I didn't take photos of it in stages but I kind of like this one a little better because of the stronger colors in the skin. (And yes, the model was pretty muscular.)

Still so much to learn and refine but this layering of temperatures really resonates with me. Thank you Margaret Dyer! (Aw hell, she won't see this.) A real break-through! I'll keep at it.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A Colorful Experience

Okay, could I even BE more inspired???

Having just returned from the IAPS Convention (Int'l Assoc. of Pastel Societies) in Albuquerque, I am bursting with new ideas and inspiration! Pastel buddies Katherine and Jane joined me for 4 days of bliss.

We attended demos and learned amazing techniques from fabulous artists like ....
Margaret Dyer & her demo ......
.... and Marla Baggetta.
Marla's demo ... painted in about an hour!
We made new friends .....

We met Vicki (on the right) on the airport shuttle the 1st day and she quickly became our new buddy. AND, she's from New Braunfels, a town near us back home in Texas!

We spent lots of time amongst beautiful paintings in the gallery .....

.... and we spent lots of time (and money) at the trade show. Also known as The Candy Store.
This is the Terry Ludwig booth. A visual experience!
We enjoyed the restaurants and local color in Old Town.

It was an inspiring time and now we're all home painting. Thanks IAPS ... we'll be back!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Convention time!

Tomorrow morning I'm off to Albuquerque to attend the International Association of Pastel Societies (IAPS) Convention with two of my pastel buddies, Katherine and Jane. Very exciting! It will be three days of mingling with and learning from fabulous pastel artists whose work I've come to admire since my passion for pastels began a couple of years ago. Just to name a few, I'm thrilled to be registered to attend demos given by Desmond O'Hagan, Lorenzo Chavez, Margaret Dyer and Marla Bagetta.

I will take pictures and report back upon return!

In the meantime, I've discovered a new favorite pastel surface to work on ... Ampersand Pastelbord. So smooth and creamy with lots of tooth and I'm loving the board instead of paper. So of course I had to order a good supply which arrived today! Here is one I just did on the Ampersand. Adding to my apparent series of stuff on a blue and white napkin.

Monday, May 13, 2013

A Quick Study

Last week when my pastel group met for our weekly painting hangout we did a fun exercise. One of our members Katherine, suggested that we do a series of quick studies from a photo that we'd like to paint, each in a different color scheme, i.e monochromatic, complementary, analogous, etc. As she pointed out, these studies allow you to become so familiar with your subject that when you go to do your final painting it's sort of already embedded in your brain and you can just ...  do it! You'll have a better idea about the color values, how the shapes feel, and how you might want to edit and crop the painting.

Here is the still life reference photo I took to work from:

And here are the four studies of it:

We set a timer for the top two, just 10 minutes each. I gave myself a little more time on the bottom two and chose the colors I wanted for the final painting.

And here is the final painting:

I still ended up with cropping issues but of course I can fix that if I ever want to frame it. Actually I kinda sorta like the bottom left study better than the final! I tend to over-think and over-work my paintings and this is a good example of that. I also have problems with shapes and that's evident in the creamer ... it was better when I did it quickly. Soooo, note to self; rough in quickly in order to get the shapes right!

This was an especially great exercise for me since I'm usually impatient and jump right into a painting without giving it a lick of thought or a bit of preliminary sketching ... with hopes that I will turn out a masterpiece, of course. NOT. I'm usually flying by the seat of my pants and I can certainly benefit from more prep. I learned something and this was fun!

Thanks to Katherine for suggesting this. And might I mention that Katherine is an artist extraordinaire and also happens to be my cousin-in-law. She is the one who introduced me to pastels a couple of years ago and to that I also say, "Thank yeeeeeew!"

Monday, May 6, 2013


I had a bit of a bumblebee jag awhile back. Their sheer, wispy wings and fuzzy-wuzzy bodies lend themselves so nicely to pastels.

I like the way their knees are bent and their little legs just dangle when they're flying. I also love their fluffy white bottoms like bunny cottontails. These are the Bombus Lorcorum bumblebees, the white-tailed ones.

I am especially in love with the fact that bumblebees apparently defy gravity because their bodies are supposedly too heavy to fly, given the rather slow beat of their wings per second. Or some aerodynamic theory like that. But they are determined to fly and so .... they do. Love that.

I even have a special tiny pale blue Sennelier stub of a pastel that is reserved just for doing wispy wings. Only one brief stroke allowed. I think there might bee just a few more wings left in it.

And after painting a few bumblebees, I've discovered that my favorite ones are the most loose and barely suggested. This is the one I like the best... the most scribbly one!


Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Seems I often have trouble beginning.

Beginning to exercise.
Beginning to write.
Beginning the yard work.

Take this art blog, for example. I've been meaning to launch it for the longest time.
I intended to begin at the very beginning, with my first experience with pastels over two years ago. The plan was to document my (hopeful!) progress and development as a pastelist. Because there are a lot of wonderful and inspiring professional artists' blogs out there, but not many amateur ones. And I was thinking that it might be fun as well as helpful to other aspiring artists to watch the progress of a fledgling one.

But two years later I suppose I've graduated from fledgling to ... well, a birdie who's left the nest but still has a lot to learn. My ultimate goal is to soar but in the meantime there is plenty of growing to do and progress to watch. So that's the plan.

And so I begin here ... today. 

For starters, here is a sampling of some pastel paintings I've done in the past year. As you can see, I'm all over the place ... I especially love still life, portraits, a bit of landscape, and my latest interest ... figures.

My husband, Mike
My daughter in NYC
The Widower
Mom and sister walking the dog at Sea Ranch

Thanks so much for stopping by! I hope that you'll sign on as a follower and also click the "follow by email" button so that you'll receive notifications of new posts. I plan to have some fun with this ... talking about pastel supplies, tips and methods I learn as I go along, mistakes and successes, and happenings at conferences and workshops (I have 2 scheduled!) And if they let me, I'll give you a glimpse into the weekly pastel sessions I have with my little pastel group called The FRUPS (I'll explain later). It's hilarious, productive and uncensored.

But that's another story.

Creatively yours,