Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Shenandoah Valley Art Center 2017

Brower Rd. & Hermitage (Rt. 254) Waynesboro 24"X24" acrylic on birch board

Submitted for the Waynesboro LOCAL Exhibit, Waynesboro, VA 2017.
Each member assigned a local landmark or location.

Smokehouse #4 14x22 oil pastel on paper


Thursday, January 5, 2017

Winter Printmaking Exhibit

Four of my monotypes are currently exhibited in the Shenandoah Valley Art Center, Waynesboro, VA "Winter Printmaking Show" December 3 - January 20, 2017.

Monotype  Image 6x8  "Assembly"

Monotype  Image: 6x8  "Traveler"

Monotype  Image: 6x8  "Slipping Down" 

Monotype  Image: 6x8 "Shatter" 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016


Some paintings are HARD WORK. They seemingly just will not show themselves and evolve into something I am satisfied with. This is one such painting, but I'm done with it-- time to move on.

Sentinel  24x24  acrylic on birch panel

(click on image to enlarge)

Friday, September 9, 2016

Absent but not idle . . .

It's been too long since my last post, but my time away has been well spent.

Two month ago I completed Karen Rosasco's 5-day Workshop in Waynesboro, VA. I owe Karen a debt of gratitude for all she taught me over the course of her instruction. She saw my struggle and my need for more information and a clear process. She knew she could help me and she did.

I've been very busy since, more confident, more productive, and finding abstract painting easier and more satisfying. I have learned that I do need "a process" for what I'm trying to do.

I'll finish today's post with pictures--selected work I've completed over the last two months.

"Climb" 11x10 Acrylic

"Indication" 11x10 Acrylic

"Inlet" 24x24 Acrylic

"Whirl" 11x10 Acrylic

"Cold Passage" 12x12 Acrylic

"Strike" 11x10 Acrylic

"Tidal" 10x11 Acrylic

"Tombstone" 10x11 Acrylic

"Blue Pool" 24x24 Acrylic

"Waterway" 22x30 Acrylic

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Conscious Color

Entry  24 x 24 mixed media

Cradle  24 x 24 mixed media

(click on image to enlarge)

You can see that the track I’m on now excludes color, beyond of course black, white, and shades of grey. “What color should I use?” is the question I keep asking myself. But, if a specific color keeps creeping into my consciousness in a compelling way during the process, I’m going to try it out—It did and I did here in painting #2—Cradle.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016


Outfoxed  24 x 24 mixed media

(click on image to enlarge)
Have you noticed? There is a new conversational "fad" perpetrating the English language wherein the first word in a sentence is So. I hear it over and over again on the news.

So, I completed a 3-day mid-week workshop last week, instructor Janly Jaggard. Janly, an inspired artist and endlessly patient teacher, set up our room such that her five students each had their own art studio. Throughout the 3-day workshop, Janly dropped in, as it were, to visit each artist and talked about our works-in-progress, gently guiding/consulting, and tug-boating us toward our individual port-o-call.

So, I learned a lot. The most curious lesson learned was the realization, no let's call it revelation, that I have an unconscious compulsion to see realistic forms where none exist--at least not seen by teacher and fellow classmates. Cows, chickens scotty dogs, teapots, trees, mountains--you get the idea.

So, near the end of day three, I was working on the above painting, when Janly dropped by, looked at the painting, and shouted, "STOP", which I interpreted to mean STOP. Conversation followed, and we both agreed that this one was finished and truly an abstraction. Success!

So, I should not be surprised that I discovered a curious little fox with cute whiskers in the white character on the left. Oh well.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Grace behind form

Placeholder   24 x 24 mixed media

Downhill  24 x 24 mixed media

(click on images to enlarge)

As I continue to explore the process of abstracting form, I'm discovering that there is a particular beauty in an illusory rendering, particularly in greyscale where there are no color clues. It feels a little like that occasional inspired painting you discover that brings forth the negative and allows positive forms to recede--those beautiful passages that feel like grace behind form. 

Sunday, February 28, 2016

"You have to paint the bad ones first" -- Frank Hobbs

Swim  30 x 30 mixed media

Landscape  12 x 36 mixed media

(click on images for larger view)

On the path toward abstraction, I was recently reminded of a quote by artist and teacher, Frank Hobbs . . .  "You have to paint the bad ones first". Although I don't like to think in terms of good and bad, his succinct point is taken and understood in a way that calms me down. We can't expect to reach our ultimate goal of accomplishment and satisfaction at the beginning. He reminds us of that obvious reality.

Today's paintings will be hung today at Co-Art Gallery in Staunton as new work. What's mostly new here is my approach. A sweetheart of a teacher and a remarkable abstract painter, Nicholas Wilton recommends we "make mindless marks and then respond to them" in one of his video tutorials, The end is found by the beginning. 

Both of these paintings in their earliest iterations were simply many random marks in charcoal for blacks and gesso for whites--images akin to what you might expect from a Jackson Pollack painting--black and white field paintings essentially. And then, at some point I switched my process and began to pull out forms, lines, images that somehow resonated with me--responding to my earlier marks. Although the finished works are too representational for my goals, I see progress.

Another friend, incredible teacher, artist, and fellow Co-Art member, Karen Rosasco assured me that in time and with practice, the literal representational forms will begin to melt away and I'll find my own inner abstractions. So, I'm quite encouraged and interested in this approach.

Do you struggle with abstraction? What's your approach?

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Baby steps . . .

And Beyond the Goat Shed   14x22   oil pastel on paper

Outbuilding Abstract   14x22   oil pastel on paper

(click on images for larger view)

Not much new to say about these other than I'm working toward a vision I'm not yet able to express. An abstract composition that has more to do with design and essential form than reality and detail.

My current thinking is that perhaps I just can't be rushed along this path, and that I should just enjoy what I'm producing now, with the knowledge that one day soon I can reflect and enjoy my baby steps along the way.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

The path to abstraction . . .

Smokehouse #3  14 x 22  oil pastel on paper

Smokehouse #4  14 x 22  oil pastel on paper

As artists, the pursuit of art, as we think it is or should be: 

 . . . honest, satisfying, true, unsentimental or sentimental, direct and clear, strong, powerful, well-executed, good or bad or ugly, important, visionary, banal, old school, new school, trite, Kinkadian, amateur, sweet, sour, relevant —words for the weary painter. 

It’s very often true that artists hate their work, or at the very least question if it is . . . whatever—fill in your own word.

This week for me has been a mind-numbing exploration of

What is Abstraction, and how do I achieve it?

In the abstract (haha), the answer to both questions is not that difficult, but in application, I’m struggling over issues regarding procedure.

Smokehouse #3 and Smokehouse #4, both oil pastels, are examples of my efforts this week to cross over to abstraction.

My dilemma:

If I start a painting with a given subject as my reference, in this case “smokehouse”, I end up with a clear, non-abstracted, hard-edged image of, yup a smokehouse, regardless of my intention to abstract this subject into a nearly unrecognizable form.

If I start a painting without a given subject as my reference, I can and do happily achieve abstractions, but I am NOT able to express my IDEA of a smokehouse in any satisfying way.

In short, I’m stuck.

I consider both of these paintings okay as paintings, but utter failures on the thorny path to abstraction, although I think #4 has better abstracted elements in it.

Who ever said painting was easy?

Friday, November 27, 2015

Co-Art Mini Canvas Sale

It's a 2-day PARTY!  Don't miss it!

Mini samples from a previous year

Co- Art's Annual Mini Canvas Sale is coming to Staunton, VA on Saturday December 5, with a Preview Party the Friday evening before.

Look at all that original artwork - just a few of the total framed minis - previous year
I completed 18 mini canvases for this year's event, and based on last year's big sale, I can tell this is going to be an awesome happening for all involved, especially the Preview Party, Friday December 4th from 5:30 - 7:30 p.m., plus a giveaway drawing at 7:00 p.m.

Be sure to bring your up-close spectacles--these minis measure only 4" x 5".

Look for me--I'll be there both days, enjoying giggles, grog, and holiday sweets.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Thinking small is a big idea!

SOLD   Intersection #11  24" x 28"  Oil and wax on canvas
(click on image for larger view)

I'm back with renewed enthusiasm for oil and cold wax medium in this latest addition to my Intersection series.

I recently completed 18 mini canvases for Co-Art Gallery's Annual Mini Canvas Sale coming up next month. The exercise taught me tons in the loosening up department and in the make-fewer-marks school of abstraction. The mini canvases I did measured 4" x 5", and think about it--you can only apply so many strokes in that small space, which practically forces one into abstraction. I worked the minis in oil and wax, and I used only oil sticks and palette knife--no brushes, to apply rough, larger marks in paint. The work was extremely liberating, fun, fast, and satisfying. I turned some of the minis into printed greeting cards, and I took photos, which I'll share with you around Christmas time.

Well, I've been noodling around the studio for weeks since the minis, doing watercolors and drawing and experimenting with oil pastels, working small and tight, and feeling anything but inspired.

Completed this week, Intersection 11 (above) felt great to paint! Finally! It is larger than I've worked in years at 24" x 28". It's painted entirely with oil sticks, palette knives, and old credit cards for scrapers. I used lots and lots of Dorlands Cold Wax medium with my oils, and I'm thinkin' this is the way I should feel about painting. 

I highly recommend this exercise for painters whose work is too tight and hard edged. Try creating big images and big impact on a tiny canvas and see what happens.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Waynesboro Blue

Waynesboro Blue  7"x9"  Watercolor

Another work resulting from my recent rainy-day outing into Waynesboro, Va. A combination of memory and a photo was enough to complete this image.

I recently joined Co-Art Gallery in Staunton, Virginia, and there is a niche display within the gallery for smaller, unframed works in a browsing file where all member artists contribute paintings and drawings. My watercolors will fit nicely into this niche.

Over my painting career I've not done many watercolors. Generally, watercolors are worked light to dark, whereas oils and pastels are painted differently, and pastels are definitely worked dark to light, so watercolors are a challenge of process. Although I'm more at home in oils and pastels, I welcome the challenge. 


Thursday, October 1, 2015

Beverley to Baja

Beverley to Baja   7.5x10  Watercolor

Here is a small watercolor I finished this morning, from a reference photo I took on a rainy day last week. The large black canopy shapes give it an element of abstraction. We see a local approaching the entrance to Baja Cantina in Downtown Staunton on the left.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Train Alley - Enjoy the Ride

Train Alley - Waynesboro East 5x11 gouache 
No. Commerce Ave, Waynesboro East

I have been promising myself that the next time it rains I will take a drive around east Waynesboro and take a few reference photos to draw from. The rain makes surfaces crisp, clean, and reflective. It rained a good bit Monday and I kept my promise.

The above painting is a rainy-day gouache on Strathmore 500 Bristol—Plate Surface. I used mostly black with minimal additions of blue, violet, and green. In hindsight, I wish I had used more restraint and limited my palette to just black, or maybe a blended raw umber and black. I’ve included the reference photo.

My mantra has always been render less, suggest more, and it’s the goal I work toward. 

I love to look at monotypes. I believe it is because a black and white image offers less absolutes/fewer clues to us viewers who automatically strive to define what it is we are looking at. Over a grayscale painting or drawing, I think our eyes wander just a little longer and our right-brain enjoys the journey—I know mine does.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Mermaid in the Room

Mermaid in the Room 12x12 pastel on panel

I've been trying to work models and other people into my paintings. Here is one such effort.

We recently added a second model to our Monday night drawing session--a kind of experiment and a way to train our new model.

Note to self: Must work in bigger format so I don't have to labor and stress over tiny facial detail with big fat pastel stick.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Philip Geiger and Titles

3rd-Place Award  "Sailors" 18x24 oil and wax

I took home a 3rd Place award last night for this painting. The Beverley Street Studio School Juried Show in Staunton, VA was well attended. All the entries were very good and prize worthy which makes a win all the more unexpected and appreciated.

Artist Philip Geiger was the juror and to win his favor is meaningful to me. Here is a painter and teacher worth noticing. His talent is universally acknowledged. He's enjoyed a long career of excellence as an artist and as a University of Virginia professor, with an extensive list of noteworthy collectors. I found a terrific YouTube video wherein Mr. Geiger discusses his work, his process, and his thoughts. It's well worth watching . . . Philip Geiger's video.

I was asked a number of times last night how I arrived at the title of my piece--more on that in a minute. If you Google the idea of titling, you'll get lots of ideas on how to, and my way certainly is not the definitive way to do it. But I will share with you how I title. As in painting itself we are often after an impression of an image rather than depicting the literal image. The above painting, Sailors, started as an abstract painting of canning day--strawberry jam, and so I could have titled it Canning Strawberry Jam, but as I worked, the objects soon appeared to me as sailors at the bow of their boat weaving to-and-fro in an effort to keep their balance lest they be cast overboard. This was my impression, and I referenced it in my title. What's also the case is I often take a devilish delight in testing the viewer to see if his/her impression matches mine. Am I being obtuse? How do you title your work?

Monday, September 14, 2015

Pie and Pastels

Pie Watchers 9x11 pastel

The last couple of weeks I've been working through some ideas in pastel with new tools and techniques. Although this kind of segue slows down productivity (quantity), it's a worthwhile practice (quality). 

This pastel painting is an abstracted version of shoppers gazing at seasonal sweet treats. It’s a reminder that I once sold mini fruit pies at our local farmers’ market.

On a related note, I purchased my first set of Schmincke soft pastels this week, creating a marked dent in my wallet. Schmincke pastels are in another class of pastel--upper class. They are noticeably buttery and rich on the paper, nearly 100% pure pigment, and they crumble easily, so note, apply a light touch if and when you first try them. They are the “fat over lean” cadillac of pastels and the last layer you’ll use in your painting. Schmincke's colors are vibrant and beautiful, and it’s a joy to work with them. The best deal I could find on Schmincke this week was Dakota Art Pastels out west. Prices can vary quite a bit.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Blues and Contours

Blues    9"x12"   mixed media

Completed another pastel-over-carborundum print today.

I am especially pleased with the effect of the marble powder (carborundum) process on the mountain in the background, and found it does make a difference using an old flat brush and applying directional strokes. Notice how my directional strokes make the mountain appear to have a rounded mountain-like shape (the black and white bits are all ink and non-inked paper). And then I did apply a little blue pastel on the mountain peaks, providing a little foggy appearance. 

As you experiment be aware that the higher the ratio of carborundum to glue or acrylic gloss medium, the darker the print and the more likely you'll get variation in black and white, like what I experienced in this print.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Colored Inks

Observance  9"x12" mixed media

I set out today to create a 9"x12" multi-colored print. There are some beautiful examples out there in Google-land to drool over, and I thought I'd give it a try.

In the first pass I applied raw umber to the plate in an all-over application, wiping out all but what was captured in the drypoint scribes and that held throughout over carborundum areas which I painted on with a thin mix of fine pumice powder and pva glue. So far, so good.

I then did a second pass through the press with other colors applied to the same plate: a blended blood red, a dulled-down yellow ochre, and a mossy gray-green, each color in its selected area.

The result wasn't what I hoped for--weak coloration, patchy colored areas. I wasn't happy, and I ended up completing the piece with soft pastels on top of the print. I'm new to printmaking. I have a lot of techniques to try and a long way to go, but at least I'm enjoying the ride.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

How do you get there?

Intersection 9   6"x8"  mixed media

I sometimes wonder if we are on a mysterious but well articulated path, thinking, believing, making decisions, solving problems according to a plan and a path that awaits and anticipates our future steps.

Too cosmic and incredible! Who's to say, but I never feel the existence of a phenomenon more than when I'm resolving a painting. How do I get from choosing a photo, to a sketch, to a changed sketch, to deciding on hundreds of available materials and techniques, to applying endlessly specific formulas, to selecting a myriad of printing methods, to applying other mediums, to reviewing, to deciding, deciding, endlessly deciding, and ending, knowing somehow that I'm done. And look at it. It is the sum total of me and no one else. We are all different and have a visual signature.

How do you get there? Ever wonder?

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Technique and Inspiration

SOLD   Intersection #8   8"x12"  mixed media

A couple of weeks ago I took a workshop with artist/instructor Jan Olsson at Beverley Street Studio School (BSSS) in Staunton, VA. The course title is Modernizing the Techniques of the Masters. I had heard what a terrific teacher and artist Jan is, and yet this is the first opportunity I’ve had to take her class. She lives and teaches in both Paris, France and Staunton, Virginia so you have to catch her when she is in town. 

Jan’s technique involves a two-step approach and acrylic paints, a monochrome umber-like underpainting, followed by colored glazing layers, and finally and optionally light opaque details.

I loved the class, learned a lot, and produced something that I was satisfied with as a first effort.

So here I am. It’s August—a new month, and me enamored with printmaking processes. I have in front of me a less-than-successful shades of gray drypoint carborundum print experiment, and I’m about to dispose of it when I realize that perhaps all that is standing between me and true happiness is my soft pastels readily available and within reach. An hour later plus an added layer of pastels, I have a mixed media piece I’m happy with, Intersection #8, and thank you Jan Olsson.

Take a look at Jan’s website. Her paintings are inspiring as was her class.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Black and White

. . . and shades of gray.

I'm finding printmaking processes very compelling, and I anticipate a long stay in this medium. As I write many ideas are rumbling around in my head. It feels like I've jumped off a tall building, eyes wide open into a new world, and I like it.

Here are two first proofs I completed yesterday. If I decided to edition either print, there would be more copies of these with slight variations. I could even add color in a number of ways if I want.

703 Reference  6"x8" carborundum drypoint on plexiglass  1/

Corner Hupman  9"x12" carborundum drypoint on acrylic  1/

A couple of Intaglio subset techniques I tried in these first efforts are.

Carborundum: A rock hard mineral ground down to various grits (fine, medium, course) used to achieve texture, detail, and darker darks. The tiny spaces between pieces of the grit hold onto ink and create darker textured areas. I've used here fine grade marble powder as an alternative because it is what I had in the studio. I mixed the powder with a PVA glue and diluted the mix slightly with water to ease the flow onto my acrylic plate in one case and plexiglass in the case of my smaller print, 703 Reference.

Drypoint: A method of Intaglio printing where lines are scribed with cutting tools into metal, plexi, or other surfaces (even mat board), creating gullies with furrows where ink rests and is subsequently pressed into paper with hand tools or by using an etching press. Scribing lines can be seen more readily in 703 Reference in the house roof and in various other clearly lined areas.

Let me step back a moment for anyone who does not know or has forgotten. There are basically two printmaking systems, RELIEF and INTAGLIO (pronounced intalio, tal like pal). A relief print receives the ink placed on a raised surface of a plate, as in a woodblock print. An Intaglio print receives the ink from the carved out areas, recessed areas, or etched areas. That said it is not entirely that simple, and a combination of methods can be applied to a print.

More to come from my new home print shop in the coming days.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Shifting Seats

First of all . . . happy news for me. My two entries into the BSSS Juried Exhibition: Interiors and Still Lifes were accepted--both of them. That show will take place in mid September, and I will post more information and photos on that event when it takes place. You can see my two entries if you take a look at my last post, Love is Blind.

Shifting Seats  6" x 8"  drypoint and pastel on BFK Rives 

I'm teaching myself printmaking, specifically, Intaglio drypoint, using a water based Akua Intaglio ink and Akua plexiglass printmaking plates. I have a small etching press I purchased from Dick Blick and a couple of scribing tools. And off I go into a whole other world of image making. Like so many art forms or life's ventures in general, there's more to it and more to know than is initially apparent. It's safe to say I'm working my way along a huge learning curve. But I have wanted to learn printmaking for some time and there have been no classes available locally. A first effort, above, marks a start. Technically this is a mixed media work as it includes both a print and soft pastels applied over the print.

As a general aside, history has taught me beyond a doubt that when I want to learn to do something bad enough, I can and I do--especially these days with internet and YouTube it gets easier and easier. Never short change yourself or your ability to accomplish a difficult task. In my life it's been raising dairy goats and other livestock, hand spinning yarn from my own sheep and llamas, building fences and pergolas, growing lettuce hydroponically (and this from a then 50+ year old city girl.)

I could go on and on with more examples of nailing that learning curve, but for now I have much more to learn and do in printmaking before I can produce satisfactory work.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Love is blind

Sailors  18"x 24"  oil and cold wax on canvas

The deadline for submissions to the BSSS Annual Juried Art Exhibition - Interiors and Still Lifes here in Staunton, VA was today. My abstract still life was completed and submitted in the nick of time.

There is this thing painters do to themselves all too often--they fall in love. They fall in love with their painting, and like falling in love with another human being or a pet, or a new couch, love often blinds us to an important overlooked truth. Like, this painting isn't really all that successful. or I can't keep a cat--I'm allergic to cats. or I don't need a new couch nor can I afford one.

Is this a successful still life or is love blind? We'll see. There is also one other overriding truth in the art-competing-with-other-art arena . . . the jury, or in this case, the judge. And in every case humans, like it or not, naturally harbor preferences, biases, likes, dislikes.

I submitted a second, smaller pastel in addition to the oil.

Light Reading  10.5 x 10.5 pastel on sanded paper

Updates on the competition will follow in early July. Wish me luck.

Friday, June 19, 2015

More than the sum of its parts

Jackson Art Supply has published a terrific article about repurposing a painting that just isn't performing as hoped. You can create something surprisingly successful using this technique.

Read Jackson's article on how to revive your painting

I'm just now finishing up an abstract still life using this technique. The BSSS Gallery is conducting their 2015 Annual Juried Exhibition: Interiors and Still Lifes, and I'll be submitting this oil and cold wax painting for consideration. More on the painting soon.

Mary Echols -- a gifted friend

If you are in the vicinity of Staunton, Virginia between now and July 19, 2015 be sure and visit the Beverley Street Studio School Gallery for Mary Echols' current exhibition of recent works. The show is titled Mary Echols and Friends.

Mary has a gift for capturing the human form like no other artist. She sees the human landscape foremost as light and shadow and captures each in curious, magical relationships to other forms and additional figures. Mary's spirit is light and playful and is realized in her finished work, fully sublime.

Read more about Mary . . .

Fortunate to be one of Mary's Friends and fellow students, I was invited to exhibit one of my Intersection pastels along with other friends. Thank you Mary.

Intersection #4  10.5"x10.5" pastel