Saturday, November 17, 2012

Vast Dark Forests of Towering Evergreens

The great thing about being a painter is that you can commission yourself to paint whatever you want and you always sometimes, usually, ideally get just what you were hoping for.

One of the things I really miss about the PNW is vast dark forests of towering evergreens, and the soft hazy filtered light that envelops them. So I decided I would have it for myself, every day, in my house.

Somehow I lost some photos from my phone, including the photos of the first stages of this painting. Oh well. Here it is maybe three-fourths finished:

And the finished product:

Trees and Filtered light, oil on canvas, 24"x36"

This one is not for sale, because 1) I want it, and 2) It's based loosely off an image that does not belong to me, so...

Eventually I'll try my hand at a floating frame DIY. I think a thin warm wooden frame would complement this painting nicely. Maybe it will replace the map above our sofa. I used to have this rule about not showing my own work in my own house, because every painting has mistakes, even if no one else can see them, and it's not nice to be reminded of your mistakes on a daily basis. But in this case, trees trump mistakes. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Oregon Painting No. 3

Here's the last painting from our Oregon summer vacation. It was a lazy afternoon near the end of our trip, and I decided to walk around the lake to Gini's dock, straight across from Mom and Dad's beautiful home. Still weird that I can't call it my home, anymore.

This is about where I got before I decided to go back inside due to the late afternoon sun/heat.

Working later on the dining room table from a photo. I don't usually mind working from small grainy photos (such as the ones produced by my lame phone) because even though it's frustrating, it's good practice. It's so much simpler to paint quickly and loosely when you're not bogged down by details.

"Lake House" Oil on canvas board, 8x10
There are still things I'd like to change and fix, per the usual, but I'm loving the various trees, shapes, shades of green. It's a blurry memory of home. 

P.S. Sold a painting this week (!) to a dear friend from church. It's at the framer's now. :)

Monday, October 8, 2012

Oregon Painting No. 2

When I decided to bring my art stuff on our trip, I knew exactly where I would go for one of my paintings: 

This is the view from the Pittock Mansion in the West Hills of Portland. You can see like, four different mountains from the West Hills, but one of the most spectacular views is this one over the city with pristine Mt. Hood in the background.

If you paint Oregon, your hands are going to get green.


Anyway, I worked on this for about an hour. I'm starting to see that while I can paint for long periods of time in a studio setting, an hour is the right amount of time for painting outdoors without an easel.

The mountain was veiled in clouds, so I had to fudge that part. I felt sort of guilty and considered painting exactly what was there, but then I just made like two strokes and it was there and I decided to leave it.

Mt. Hood from Pittock Mansion, oil on canvas board, 9"x12"

I was nervous that the city in the middle ground didn't provide much in the way of interest, but as soon as I was finished I stepped back and liked it a LOT. There's probably too much going on in the middle-right-ish of the painting, where city buildings turn into wildflowers - not enough distinction. I'll change that. Everything else is great, which is good, because this one is for me. I need more Oregon paintings in my life.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Oregon Painting No. 1

Things have been busy, but I haven't left my painting by the wayside, no sir. I present to you exhibit A:

Not quite finished, but evidence nonetheless. It's the first of three small paintings that I worked on this summer when Josh and I headed to Portland for our annual anniversary trip. Since Southwest lets you check free bags, I decided to bring my painting stuff along - a test run for Europe, if you will. 

On the first Wednesday of our trip we headed straight to the Columbia Gorge, Portland's wild, lush backyard. I took lots of pictures that should keep me busy painting for months. It's the most beautiful place in the world.

We took the Eagle Creek Trail about 3 miles in, to Punchbowl Falls, and spent the afternoon there. Here's a portion of my trip log describing the experience:

"We started from the trailhead about 11, I think and it took us maybe an hour to get to Punchbowl Falls, about 3 miles away. The hike is mostly uphill, but the scenery is so beautiful you don't notice you're getting tired.

The day was warm, so more people at the falls than usual. The water was SO COLD!! Josh and I took of our shoes and waded to the little cove across the river and unpacked sandwiches and apples.

"It was just... the best. The best to sit and eat a sweet crisp apple, and squint in the light and listen to the thundering waterfall and watch kids squeal and swim in the cold water. Perfect. After we ate and relaxed, Josh hiked up a small hill overlooking the falls where there were some trees to string up his hammock (...) I hadn't really thought about the logistics of lugging my painting stuff across a river - it was a while before I got settled with a good composition in front of me. Things went pretty well, but I've got to learn to paint faster - to fill in my canvas faster. I was very careful to keep my turpentine close and not let it spill into the stream - more because of the looks I'd get from people and less because of environmental concerns (turps are potent, but all-natural). I painted for about an hour and a half, until my backend was good and numb from sitting on rocks. Then came the distinct challenge of maneuvering across the river with a WET painting... I had really not thought this through."

It was a really perfect day. Like I mentioned above, though, I am really going to have to start painting faster. I'll be pretty disappointed if all the paintings I bring home from Europe look like this. I'm hoping the diffiult logistics of wet paintings and of painting in awkward places will be solved by a good wet panel storage box... I should get on that.

More to come!

Friday, July 20, 2012

David and Michael

"David" Oil on 8x10 canvas

"Michael" Oil on 8x10 canvas
Portraits of loved ones are the absolute worst. These were a combined mothers/fathers day gift for my parents when they came to visit early in the summer. I had painted a self-portrait, as well, but that one is unfit for blogging. I asked Mom and Dad to let me keep them all a little while longer and fix them, but I haven't allowed myself to return to them yet. 

I'm actually really digging Michael's. It's a good caricature.

Sunday, July 1, 2012


I was trying not to think about art for a while, but it's hard to break a habit.

Ah, well.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Lately I've Been Avoiding All The Painting Blogs In My Blogroll

I actually have paintings to post. Three paintings. Don't know if I can, or should, though. I'm displeased with them for various reasons. Will probably start them all over at some point. 

Mostly I want to avoid painting for a little while. 

Then after an appropriate amount of sulking, I might take on these beautiful pointy evergreen treetops that I see out my window every morning. 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Camp Hill Plein-Air 2012

Ok, I know I haven't posted in a while, which makes it seem like I haven't been doing anything, but I have. Seriously you guys.

I've been painting nearly every day this week, just on long-term projects that are secret.

On top of that, today I participated in the 2012 Camp Hill Plein Air Quick Draw. It was awesome! 

I psyched myself out the day before, getting all nervous and even dropping by the neighborhood to stake out some good compositions ahead of time. I found a great spot at the corner of Willow Mill Park that gave me two nice options:


In the 4 pm light, I was sort of leaning toward the house, with the sweet little shadows along the roof and clapboards, and the nice contrast-y shadows and highlights in that big tree. I knew the light would be drastically different in the morning, though, and sure enough when I arrived around 9 am, the house was flat grey-blue. The park, however, was glorious:

The sun was behind clouds for the first half of the morning, but some delicious long shadows were still stretched across the grass. Don't you love long shadows?

I'm so glad I got there early. I had plenty of time to set up and then sit and enjoy my bagel and coffee and just look. I tried to paint it all in my head, since real painting wasn't supposed to begin until ten. 

I was so nervous and excited beforehand - I imagine it's the way runners feel before their races - and my hands were even a little shaky for the first five minutes or so, but after that, things went really well, just like they should - underdrawing, shadows, deeper shadows, sky, fill it all in, and add highlights. 

Passer-bys were inquisitive and friendly, and showered me with encouraging compliments. Two hours was the perfect amount of time to fill up an 8x10 canvas without feeling rushed. And there was a funny sense of relief when noon rolled around and I absolutely was REQUIRED to stop painting.

I didn't take time to photograph my progress along the way, but here's the finished painting:
"Morning Shadows" Oil on canvas, 8x10"

And framed, for the show:

The colors are not very accurate here... I'm going to have to start using Josh's camera. 

Here's a picture of me and Amy, who also participated - in fact, Amy is the friend who first brought this event to my attention!

It was a fantastic morning. I'd guess there were about thirty other paintings in the competition. I didn't win any prizes, or sell my painting, or anything, but it was a really enjoyable experience to be a part of a real live plein air competition and show. And I couldn't help but thrill to notice that my painting fit right in with the rest. I'd even go so far as to say my painting was one of my top five favorites, and I don't say things like that often. 

I think today's victory is that I was able to paint the way I prefer, under pressure. That feels really good.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


A failed painting does not make me a failure.
A failed painting does not make me a failure.
A failed painting does not make me a failure.

I'll probably be repeating that often. Right now I'm repeating it while looking at this:


I dunno. I came back to it today thinking I'd tighten things up. The pitcher wasn't so bad, but when it comes to those darn rose petals I'm stumped. I tried a million ways and scraped off a million layers, and this current way is not looking great, either.

Stylistically, I actually like it as is. If I saw this on Etsy, I'd think it was a cool, interesting painting and I'd pin it in my art folder on Pinterest*. Problem is, this is totally not the style I was going for, and it's a firm belief of mine that a good artist ought to be able to paint exactly how and what she wants.

Anyway, I'm leaving it alone for now. I took Harley on a bike ride and listened to this song on repeat for a while, and I'm feeling significantly better about life in general.

* I mean, no I wouldn't

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Yeah, It's Been A While

"Blooms" oil on canvas, 8"x10"

Tonight I made myself loosen up. I painted with wide, loose strokes, but I found myself weighing each stroke very carefully.

Meanwhile, I am working on a surprise project. It could potentially become really deeply infuriating, so I've been putting it off for a while, but tonight I made myself get started. Progress shots soon to come.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Symmetry is neat.

This is one of my favorite songs to listen to while I paint. Saw the music video today and found it to be exactly how I imagined, only more symmetrical:

In other news, I've been doing a different kind of painting lately. Our main bathroom is now SUPER dark navy... maybe I'll post pictures later.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Sister Bluebird, Flying High Above

Here's something I painted for my father-in-law a few Christmases ago. He's a pilot, and he'd been asking me for a while to paint something aviation-themed. 

"Flight" Oil on Canvas, 24"x36"
Actually, I don't remember if those dimensions are accurate. 

I worked so hard to get those clouds EXACT, and I wish I'd loosened up a bit. I think it would have made for a more pleasing picture... easier to look at. For me, anyway.

Had a fantastic time in Oklahoma City, then worked for two days, then had a nice long Easter weekend! I'm starting to feel a little guilty about my work:vacation ratio as of late. 

Today I'm eating lots of candy and getting my YES on...

Starship Trooper, go sailing on by / Catch my soul, catch the very light 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Coffee Shop Sketches

Easter weekend. No school today, tomorrow, or Monday! I have the greatest job.

Inspired by Rob Rey's coffee shop sketches, I left this morning for Panera, got my favorite mocha + toasted whole wheat bagel combo, and started drawing.

Not my best work. I became impatient with my models (STOP. MOVING. Can't you see I'm DRAWING YOU??), and graphite that got all over my hands and sketchbook. Deep down, though, I knew I was making excuses for myself when the truth is that I'm just out of practice.

I left Panera a few hours later, thoroughly exasperated. 

I'll be back again, though. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Our Street

Here's the small/detailed painting I wrote about in a previous entry. It's ok.

"Streetside" Oil on canvas panel, 6"x8"
When I got home from Oklahoma City, Josh surprised me with a great big canvas!!! I think big blank canvases are the most beautiful things... so clean and empty, and promising. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


A quick, loose sketch one night at the dining room table. I have an entire room dedicated just to painting, but very little actual work ever happens there.

About to go visit my brothers and sister-in-law in OKC! Probably won't get any painting done, but I can't wait to see them!!! 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Painting with Harley

I've never taken Harley painting with me, but a few weeks ago I got home from work and it was so beautiful outside and just I couldn't bear to leave him behind.

We drove over to a nearby park and set up camp.

It took some effort on both our parts, but it worked out. 

 Keeping alert.

Finally he resignedly flopped down and relaxed for the last 20 minutes. Here are some close-ups from the day's work:

And what it looked like when I finished:

"Spring Shadows" Oil on canvas, 9x12"
I might touch it up in some spots, but I'm mostly done. 

Tonight I checked the Camp Hill Plein Air Painting festival site and realized that the deadline for entries was two weeks ago. Somehow I had it in my head that the deadline wasn't until the 28th. I had it written all over all my calendars. 


I'm a teeny bit relieved, because I was nervous to fail (very talented and more experienced painters have entered this competition), but mostly I'm really frustrated with myself. This is a challenge that I had been mentally preparing for for a long while, now. Can't believe I screwed it up. Poor Josh was disappointed, too - he was more excited about all this than I was.

Anyway, I can still be involved in the quick draw that Saturday. And there's always next year.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Fixing Failures

Today I don't have to do ANYTHING. 


I went out and painted for a while. I painted on a very small canvas panel and chose a fairly detailed street scene to paint. Frustration ensued. I've always preferred to paint BIG. Deep, layered expanses of color are my thing. This painting was the opposite of my thing. 

I'm looking at it now, though, and I think I like it. 


No, I probably don't. 

On a different note, here's a painting I worked on a few months ago one day when we finally got some snow. Don't know how I feel about this one, either:

"Snow Day" Oil on canvas, 9x12"

I'm happy with some parts of it, dissatisfied with others. Here's the work in process:

Feeling like I should have stopped about here and kept it all high-contrast and ghostly. (And, yes, I am painting from inside my Jeep. Told you I don't like to be cold.)

I think I need to learn the art of fixing failed paintings. It's a mental thing, you know? To force yourself to return to something that you don't particularly like? That takes discipline. Like running. And like running, it's also usually worth it.

Monday, March 19, 2012


Spring is coming early and little things are starting to bloom all over. The elderly couple who owned this house before us must have been really wonderful gardeners. They left us some beautiful rosebushes. Here are some roses from our garden last year:

I cut them way back this fall. I hope that was the right thing to do - I don't know anything about roses.

Friday, March 16, 2012


Somehow I've been finding bits and pieces of time to paint lately. Here's a plein air painting I started last month:

It was a sunny day, but it was February, so this is as far as I got before my fingers were completely numb:

Snapped a few photos, loaded up my stuff, and got the heck out of there. I don't like to be cold. 

"Treeline" Oil on canvas, 10"x14"
Here it is after working on it more at home. I'd like to tweak it a bit more, but it's pretty much done. You can see how the light changed from the beginning of the painting to the end when I took my photos. 

I love those long shadows that show up around five-ish every evening. I also love those evergreens. I specifically chose this scene because of the evergreens.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Little Houseplant

Painted my little houseplant a few nights ago at my dining room table:

"Little Houseplant" Oil on canvas panel, 6x8" 

Beginning my painting. I painted over an old painting and it left some interesting texture that I like. 

I learned early on in college that painting symmetrical objects (in this case, the white planter, but also wine bottles, candelabras, milk cans, vases, and a whole slew of other still life props) can be difficult. 

I've since learned that what's more difficult is to give the impression of symmetry without creating a perfect image - that is, while still employing a loose brush and keeping that painterly effect.

After a bit of time...

"Little Houseplant" Oil on canvas panel, 6x8"
He's such a friendly-looking houseplant, don't you think?*

We're supposed to be getting some warmish weather later this week. I'll take that as a cue to get outside and start painting. Wish I had some inspiration about where to go, but usually I find that it's more about getting somewhere - anywhere - outside and then finding the inspiration in whatever's in front of you.

*And easy, too. Don't know what he is, but he goes for weeks without water (necessary tactic at our house. Only the strong survive). And what is it with artists personifying their inanimate subjects? At least, I think it's an artist thing. I feel like when I'm painting something, it's very easy to create a personality for that thing and then bring it out in my work. It becomes like a portrait. Weird?