I could have been outside enjoying the weather....

"216 W. First St.," 30" x 40", acrylic on canvas

Beeeaaaautttifulll day in Dixon, IL today!

So what do I do with this day? Stay inside and finish this painting. It was a tough one folks. Went out of my comfort zone. I like painting fast and not worrying about the little details. In most landscapes and still lifes, artists can get away with playing around a bit with the details...like ignoring them altogether!

This painting of a building in Dixon needed me to stay on point. Now...for the engineers and architects out there, don't get your undies in a bunch if all the details aren't perfect...like straight lines. This is a painting after all.

I still wanted my touches of saturated color and the play of shadow and light to be the main stars of this work. I have a bunch of photos of buildings in town that I took when the shadows and light were at their peak.

I hope to have one more painting of this type for my show that opens on May 8 at the Crystal Cork in dixon.

Acrylic Workshop #1: DONE!

Starting out. Laying in the first layer of colors. I made them all cover the canvas in cad red. I do that a lot and since I was the teacher...I got to be the boss! (Notice that Santa stopped by ... in the back)

They're getting into it now.

Dawn is getting near the finish line. Looking very good.

The class and me with our works of art! Not bad, eh?

Well, another milestone for me today. I thought I would never teach a class or workshop. Basically I just paint and really don't know how I do it, I just paint for goodness sake!

But, times change and it was time to conquer another fear. And as most fears go, once the fear is faced, it really not as big a deal as you think it was. Weird huh?

Anyway, the class was full to capacity. Only wanted 8 maximum students. It's hard for me to concentrate on too many questions at once. Also, I decided that a still life in beginning acrylics would be easy to sketch out with simple forms. So, the whole class and I worked on the same photo that I took. Some folks teach class with everyone doing something differently. To avoid my head from exploding, I chose to work on one simple subject.

The class ran from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and almost everyone finished their painting!!! They taught me more than the other way around. Pretty cool, huh?

Next workshops: Jan. 16 and Jan. 23. Will probably be in oils. Stay tuned.

It's gonna be 50 degrees tomorrow!

In Her Shoes, 18" x 36," acrylic on gessobord

It's Friday evening and there is absolutely nothing on television after 9 p.m. (U.S. Central time). As my dad used to say, "Television is a VAST wasteland."

Got up early this morning all rested and refreshed and had every intention to dive right in to finish my shoe painting. But first I wrote out bills, went through 3 different email inboxes, and in general, pissed away most of my day.

Well, there was a bit of personal drama, but thanks to some very good friends and family (sister and mom), I managed to get by without shedding a tear, well almost anyway. You all know who you are and I will never forget you guys.

After that little bit of strife, I actually finished the shoe painting. The photo is just okay, since the sun had set already and I had to take the photo in less than ideal lighting. I don't use flash when photographing my art ... glare - ugh. So it may be a bit blurry. I will retake the photo tomorrow and will post that pic to my Etsy Shop and my website.

Tomorrow is errand day in Dixon and then to my bff's for a great dinner. We love cooking and laughing together. Her husband's pretty funny too! He had better be, cuz we never hang with Negative Nellies.

Yep, "shoes" are still in progress

Well, the shoes are slowing taking on lives of their own. Got to my easel again and did my water shoes (for canoeing and kayaking), the blue ones, and got a good jump on the black sling backs. My sexy fun heels.

It's harder than I thought working in acrylics again. since this is 36" wide, the color dries before I can get back and mix and blend. But, I am adjusting. heh

Well, have to run. I heading back to the Y for my kickboxing class. Did the body sculpting this morning. After eating way too much crap at a super bowl party yesterday, I felt a bit of disgust everytime my "muffin top" pushed over the top of my jeans.

Until later...

"In her Shoes," in progress

Step 1: All sketched in and intial toning blocked in.

Step 2: Initial colors

Step 3: One pair down, four to go.

I started this painting on Saturday and got back to it today. Above are the first three steps of this painting. It is 18" x 36" on ampersand gessobord in acrylic.

There is a women's exhibition coming up in a couple of months at The Next Picture Show in Dixon called "Dos: Equis." This is one of the paintings I plan to enter into the jurying.

Lots going on besides the art stuff. There are several committees I'm on, plus family stuff starting to rear its inconvenient head right now. Makes me dizzy. Literally. I've been really dizzy the last couple of days. Probably just stress. Funny, but if I have a glass of wine the dizziness seems to right itself. hmmmmm...interesting.

After a long hiatus, I'm back

"Summer Home," 20" x 24", acrylic on canvas

Well, the summer/fall of 2008 has been a trying one to say the least. I haven't picked up a brush in almost 6 months.

Personal life issues, professional issues, and worst of all....my beautiful black lab, Annie, died. My heart just wasn't into being creative.

Fortunately, a painting customer of mine, commissioned me to do his mother's place with flower gardens and to have it done before Thanksgiving. This project finally got me in front of an easel again. Finished painting is above.

This past July, I did manage to get a small painting done for my best friend, Debbie. It was a birthday gift and is a study of her viewing a painting at an art gallery in Phoenix. Sure is easy to paint subjects ya love, isn't it.

A weekend of art obligations

"Auction Apples," 24"x36"? (a guess), acrylic on canvas

Step One....

Step Two...

This past Saturday, Debbie Thompson, Todd Lorenc, and I participated in a charity benefit for Alzheimers in Rockford, Illinois. Fifty artists painted on site from start to finish. The paintings were then auctioned off. It's a long day of standing on cement and trying to pull off a completed painting in such a short time. But, it's also a fun day of networking with lots of artists of all different styles. Doesn't hurt when the wine starts flowing when the public arrives. Oh...there was a chocolate vendor that made the sore legs all worth it!

My finished (?) piece is the top picture. Really could have used a bit longer, but that's the way it goes. I've also included the beginning/middle stages of the apples.

There's Todd just above working on his funky guy. It was fun watching him bring this piece to life.

Debbie did an impressionistic fall landscape. Thought we were going to lose her to panic for awhile. Todd and I had to talk her down. The piece came out great...as we knew it would.

We left around 10 p.m. to drive back to Dixon. Got home around 11 and visited with Debbie's houseguest, Katie (in from Florida). Katie was in town and she helped out at The Next Picture Show by announcing the winners for the "Sculpture, Clay, and Fiber" show opening.

So, we sat and talked (they drank more wine...I was a good monkey) until almost 2 a.m. Crap. I was pooped. But a good pooped, so to speak.

I was going to work in my studio today. Even went out and picked some daffodils to set up a still life. But, I have 3 pm meeting at the courthouse today. Debbie, Arin, and I are doing another mural with some of the juvenile offenders again. This mural will be larger and more complex. It's our first meeting with the kids, their parents, and the probation department.

I'll report more on that in the near future.

"Last Blooms of Summer"
20" x 16", acrylic on board

Wooo hooo! Made it into the studio today and actually got to paint. I had about 4 finished paintings that needed their sides painted (they are all 2" cradled gessobords) a nice rich dark color. It really sets off the painting from the wall.

Painting the sides of these things is something I tend to put off, like getting them wired for hanging. My cordless screwdriver bit the dust and now I have to use an old-fashioned screwdriver! I know....crazy, right?

Today I finally got around to painting the featured piece. I sketched it out at the end of September. Its an acrylic instead of my usual oils. Needed a change and it was fun to do a painting in one session. Although I think I'll need to work on the background transition a bit more.

Don't know when I will be able to get back in the studio. Christmas parties in the restaurant start full swing this week.

Guest Artist Program -- Day 3

Student getting expert instruction from art teacher, Debbie Thompson.

Wooo hoooo! The paintings are signed, brushes cleaned and paper palettes thrown out. Canvases are everywhere (almost 150 of them).

Today was the easiest and most relaxed of the project. Mostly because the kids were very used to the system and we just really needed to do some minor detail work and sign the paintings. I have the kids just initial the paintings because, as most kids do, if they signed their whole name, most of them would use most of the lower half of the canvas to accomplish this task. So, we did the 3 initial system. Only one child signed it kind of in the middle. I just looked away and kept my mouth shut. heh

Wrapping those stripes around the canvas sides.

They really accomplished a lot for 11-12 year olds. Each class is around 42 minutes, then subtract initial set up, teacher talk, artist talk, paint .... paint .... paint....questions...answers, refill paints, paint... paint...clean your brushes...empty your water, clean your space...bell rings AND OFF THEY GO.

Another honor awaits some of the young artists. Five to six paintings will be selected from each class to be displayed at The Next Picture Show gallery in Dixon. The gallery has a lower level that showcases student artwork throughout the 4 county area. When the gallery has an opening (juried adult art exhibitions) every 6 weeks or so, the student gallery also has their opening to the public. This brings in the students' family and friends who might otherwise not ever come into the gallery. It becomes a way of life to the general public.

Just adding her intials!

I believe the next opening is next Friday, (Oct. 19) for the Color Shots 2 (a color photography show). It will be fun.

The local paper sent a photographer and reporter today to interview the kids. Thanks for stopping by Melinda and Alex.

Well, it's time to get ready for the Y. I'm kinda beat and would like to skip this part of the evening, but a good set of crunches never hurt anyone, right?

Almost finished with the last minute touches.

Line up of artists and canvases.

These are my "as finished as they can be" demo paintings.

Guest Artist Program -- Day 2

Two down, one to go! Enjoy the pics of the classes below.

After finishing up yesterday, I was really pooped. When I got home around 3 p.m., I did some minor (and I mean minor) housework, online banking, emails, updated this blog, and then did some serious talking to myself about making sure I went to the Y for my workout. I view workouts like a visit to the dentist. Never, ever look forward to it, but feel good once it's over with. Also, Debbie is a Y fanatic and she would be just as tired or more after today's art challenge!

So what's my excuse, right?

Well, Jeff wanted me to pick up an Italian beef for him and Gyro for me at Benny's in Dixon after my workout. Which is VERY conveniently located across for the Y (and McDonald's come to think of it). It's a freakin' conspirancy. So, I figure it's better to eat that kind of stuff AFTER a workout.

Okay, okay....on to DAY 2 with the kids.

A row of paintings of the still life with Anaheim peppers.

The second day is always a bit easier than the first. For one thing, both the kids and myself are more comfortable and familiar with each other. Second, they have picked up some skills, like handling a brush, mixing paint and overcoming the fear of covering a canvas quickly. Which is what we need to do with so little time between classes.

I came in just 15 minutes earlier to help Debbie get the paint palettes loaded for the kids. It's just 15 minutes, but it sure makes a difference. We even had time for a cup of tea! How civilized.

The first day, we only had ONE absence out of 6 classes (and that was after 4 days off for these kids--Columbus Day). Today, almost each class had an absence. Weird, huh? The weather has really cooled also. Monday it was 88 degrees, today it topped out at 54. Kids get sick so easy...today a bunch of them had on shorts, tshirts, and flip flops.

But, I digress.

5 of the 6 paintings that I started the demo's with after one day. Hard to do a lot and teach at the same time. That's really, really hard.

Today was also extra special because Debbie's daughter, Arin (beautiful, brilliant, an artist in both the visual and writing arts) stopped by after lunch to just sit and paint along with the kids. Nice to have another adult...sometimes it feels like it's us against them just by sheer numbers!

The second day on the Oranges on blue-dotted cloth. Kinda fun.

Later, Jenny Bubrick (sp?) a friend, substitute teacher, and quick wit stopped by to help Debbie and I with refilling palettes, cleaning brushes, assisting in the shhhushing, etc. By the end of the day, we were all getting a bit punchy and little comments & jokes, puns (whatever) started to fly amongst all of us, just to see if any of the kids got it. Ninety-nine percent of it flew over their heads (we could tell by the way were met with complete silence) and it just made us laugh even harder. We were getting so goofy.

Cut Apples on Striped (soon to be ) Cloth, 2nd day

In each class, we got to about 75 percent completion. Which is good, because we have to be done by tomorrow. We started putting in the darkest darks and the lightest lights and the kids were amazed when some of their paintings started looking like what they were actually painting!

That is such a cool thing.

Paint mixing...and getting those apples just right.

Time out for middle school silliness!

An updated shot of my work on the second day.

2nd day of the kids' work. Some started adding their stripes. Love the abstractness of it.

Last class of day 2...discussing technique. I hope.

Pears all lined up at the end of the day.

Art Demo

"Polka Dot Pears"
16" x 20", acrylic on board

Last evening I was invited to speak and demo for a lively art group called The Eagle's Nest Artist Club from Oregon, Illinois. The above is about an hour and a half's worth of painting. It should be done with another 1.5 hours worth of work. So sorry for the lousy quality of the picture. It's so blurry. When it's completed, I'll take the time to take a better shot.

When the evening was over, I was presented with a hand painted card (with payment inside--oh yeah) by Oregon watercolorist, Alice Conrad. I love her loose, colorful way with a brush. Her card is below.

What to do next....

Just finished a painting I started last week. It's a 36"x24" acrylic on gessobord. It puts me in a bit of a spring frame of mind. The color is a bit over-exposed at the bottom of the painting, but professional photographer I am not!

My dog, Annie, was whining just as I was finishing up. Spring fever must have been on her mind (mine too) as the weather warmed up by 1 p.m. to around 58 degrees. Now, that may be chilly to some of you, but it's darn nice when the sun is shining. Although, only 6 days ago it was 75. It's a wonder no one around me has pneumonia.

So I took the dog on a quick walk while trying to think of what should be my next subject. Probably a still life. Still lifes seem to come natually to me and more landscapey things are out of my element a bit. Don't know why. I seem to struggle a bit with landscapes, but seem to sell them all right.

Well, I must get back to my studio and get some sketching done...then I think I'll roast a chicken!

Back in the saddle, so to speak

After a couple of false starts this morning, I started another painting. It's a floral landscape border, 36" x 24", acrylic on ampersand gessobord (2" deep cradle). We have about 3 acres of property and have many perrenial flower beds. This particular one, lines a sidewalk that leads to our restaurant entrance. Last summer was a nice rainy season and the flowers seemed to bloom with no attention.

I started with a magenta-ish base. Sorry for the glare...it was impossibly sunny when I started, then dropped 20 degrees and became very gray out. Spring in Illinois........

I blocked in the darkest darks and started with some of the lighter lights

Getting more values in.

Starting to get near the end. I need to correct the background values. Kinda weird right now. Also, I had a spotlight on for this last picture because the weather caused my natural light to disappear...so the color has a bit of a yellow cast to it.

Our trip to Chicago was so nice yesterday. It hit 73 degrees, sun was out, the Art Institute was cool...Millenium Park was bustling...and there was lots of green beer available. Jacob received his award for winning the state art poster contest. Look how proud he is (below) with his teacher, Debbie Thompson, my buddy.

Trying to get back at the easel today

It's Sunday morning in Grand Detour, Illinois and it is a mess outside today. A blizzard started yesterday afternoon, dumped 6 inches of snow, forced many of our restaurant reservations to cancel, and then turned to rain in the middle of the night....ick. At least with a slower restaurant, I didn't have to work...just visit the braves souls who did come in to eat.

So, this morning, I'm working up the ambition to finish my human study that I'm doing in acrylics. The two paintings inside this painting are by John Nolf from the 30s or 40s. It's been a bit of a stretch trying to duplicate his technique, but not overdoing it.

I'll post the completed painting as soon as I finish it! I also have to make a plan on what is next. Jeff and I are leaving next Sunday, 3/4, for a week to visit my oldest daughter in Savannah, GA. She graduated in '05 with a BA in Illustration and she now works for a large civil engineering firm providing design work and such. Being that we own a restaurant and bed & breakfast, we very rarely visit as a couple....one at a time...to keep the business going. But, now we have a really great staff and we trust them to run the restaurant.

I plan on getting lots of good Savannah pics for future paintings....so, now I've procrastinated enough. Time to get off my couch and get painting!

Still working on it!

Here is the same figurative study I started this past Monday. These pics are still from Monday, but I got my camera back (don't even ask where I found it) and took a couple more shots of the work I did after the intial uploading. One is kind of full size, but I didn't bother with skewing it before cropping...the other is a closeup. This scene was from the gallery in Dixon last summer. There was a silent art auction fundraiser going on when I took some pics and just found them on my PC. Maybe the title will be "The Auction." Still thinking on it.
Last night was another art show opening at the gallery (The Next Picture Show), a one woman show, for Fran Swarbrick. It also was the 3rd year anniversary for the gallery. The turn out was great. It also was snowing...again. Same as the opening night 3 years ago. Weird. The gallery is non-profit and allows looking for new members. Our board is really great. So nice to have people on board who GET IT and show enthusiasm and positive energy.

Well....I've hung around too long at home. Need to get to the inn and get some restaurant/inn work done before staff start popping up. If you're ever in the Dixon, Illinois or Grand Detour area of the world, check out our place for a great dining experience (Colonial Rose Inn). Yep, just had to plug the main business. Haven't done it in quite awhile.

Painting, laundry, vacuuming....

Another cold day, although it's warmed up to 24 degrees. I guess that's more of a heat wave. We had a bit of snow last night and are forecast for more tonight.

Still, it's better than upstate NY!
Can you say, "Spring!"?

This past Sunday, Jeff and I went to Chicago to see my youngest daughter. I ordered a MacBook Pro laptop from Apple and she picked it up for me. I've never had a Mac before. This little puppy is beautiful, but not much is on it yet.

Last Thursday, I left my digital camera at my friend's house and it's still there. So the picture of the painting above is from the camera built into the laptop.
Today I worked on the figurative study again. Decided to go with acrylics this time. I use fluid acrylics. They just seem to work better when doing larger areas quickly. The painting is actually further along than showing because I worked for another hour or so. It shouldn't take me more than another day at the easel, unless I get distracted. That happens a lot.

In fact, I just cleaned up, put in a load of laundry, vacuumed the place, and planned tonight's dinner....anything but paint. Why I feel guilty spending the whole day painting is beyond me. But if Jayne doesn't make a plan (especially about food)...then nobody eats. And I tell ya, right now my dog is looking appetizing!!