Two more flower beds and one more Painting...done.

Aqua Vase with Daffodils, 24x24, oil on gessobord

Last evening, since the restaurant wasn't overly busy and we had staff-o-plenty, I decided to get into my studio to finish up the painting above that I started last Sunday. The weather was going to be perfect today (sunday) for working in our gardens, like just around 60 degrees or so. I don't mind manual labor if sweat isn't involved!

As I finished up the painting, I decided to do a small series of work with this same vase but with different seasonal flowers. Today while gardening, I cut several branches of lilacs to compose a similar still life set up in the same vase. Lilacs...are one of my favorite flowers and fragrances. Lilies of the Valley run a close second...both of which are now in full bloom. In the early evening the scent just wafts through my open windows. Looking forward to starting the next painting.

Busy week coming up this week. Jack, my web boss, is back in Illinois for the week and we're meeting with both potential and current clients throughout the next few days. Very busy these days. Hoping to land a chocolatier's account. Now, that will be a nice change from the 3 cancer treatment sites. A bit more uplifting! Although, I didn't think I could ever learn so much about the different options in treating cancer. Never want to have to use that knowledge, if you know what I mean!

Also, hope to get one day in for a canoe ride. The river seems to be going down a bit and the weather is perfect for it. Do you hear me little Debbie?!!!

until later

A sunny side to a rainy Mother's Day

1st stage of still life, oil, 24x24

2nd stage of still life, oil, 24x24

Yesterday I woke up to a windy, cold, rainy and dark Mother's Day. Now, you may think this is weird, but those kind of days are some of my favorites. You know, snuggling in a warm bed, with a cup of coffee.... But, being in the restaurant biz, Mother's Day is a big deal and an appearance there was necessary. My youngest daughter, Morgan, took the train home from Chicago for the weekend. We did the sushi thing, bought some popcorn, came home and watched a dorky comedy together. Really nice.

On Saturday, my sisters, some nieces, nephews, and one brother-in-law (he'll get his reward in heaven), went to Mendota to my mom's to get her flower gardens in order. Laurie, my sister, was the project foreman and all went well, but we were pooped! During a work break, 5 of the worker bees decided to make reservations at the restaurant. So, now I really had to make an appearance! That was fine. We had a great dinner, lots of laughs, and they all went home by 3!

So, with their early dismissal, and the day still dark, I surprised myself by getting to the studio for the afternoon.

Above, you will see a start of a 24" x 24" floral still life. I haven't done a floral in a long time. These daffodils are from my garden. The vase was from a birthday bouquet from my oldest daughter. As soon as I saw the bouquet, the vase is what caught my eye...the cool aqua color and I knew that it would be a part of still lifes to come.

Normally, the first stage I will put values (shadows) in before adding the color. But, this time, I started adding color once the sketch was set down. Don't know why....guess I didn't want to waste another hour. It's been awhile painting something for me.

Must have been enjoying myself, because before I knew it was after 8 p.m.! With sunset coming so much later, the afternoon flew by. So, the painting will be done the next time.

Today is a Y day and a hair appointment day and a weeding day. The rototiller is all primed up and the sun is supposed to be out most of the day...woot. Jeff's Monday golf league has officially started. He is taking Morgan back to Chicago before that. Time for some bonding. You know what that means? I have the day to myself ... completely. Yeah baby.

until later

Insomnia 101

In progress ... no title yet. 16" x 20" oil on gessobord.

Finally, a Monday I can work in my studio. I was messing around at first because deciding on my next subject to paint was proving rather daunting. So, little things were accomplished. First, the painting below, "Crossroads," was done last week but it didn't feel finished. So I went back in and changed the sky color and hit the lightest lights a bit more.

Feeling better about it's a different style for experiment.

16" x 20", oil on gessobord

Then all those paintings that haven't been varnished, got varnished. Maybe that's why I can't sleep...all those fumes. Of course, having a husband fall asleep while watching the basketball game finals last night with the tv going full blast and every light on didn't help. Our bedroom has french doors off that room (small cottage). He came to bed around 2 a.m. and guess who woke up and never went back to sleep? Don't you hate that when that happens? So, at 4 a.m. I just got up, put on a pot of coffee, and decided to update my blog.

After varnishing 4 paintings, I went through my digital images reserved for future paintings and decided to do the apples at the top of the blog. This photo was actually created for the 3 day workshop with the middle school kids. I think I had 6 photos of different still lifes for those classes. So, this time I decided to do one of these in oil (the classes were in acrylic) and take a bit of time and finish it all the way.

This is about 3 hours of work. One more half day should do it. Just got to find that half day.


The SLUG is back.

Step 1. Toning with acrylic over my pencil sketch.

Step 2. Orangey acrylic wash applied over top of sketch. No more white.

Step 3. First level of oil color blocked in.

The Slug is back. That has been me for over 2 days. Friday, I didn't even get out of my pajamas, or bed, for that matter. Kind of a flu/cold thingy. Nature's way of saying that burning the candle at both ends never works. I'm in clothes (not very cute clothes, but clothes nevertheless) and needing to do something but watch the food channel and taped episodes of American Idol.

I'm posting the acrylic part of this lily still life. Once it's dry, I will start working in oil. It's on (as usual) gessobord. The size is 18" x 24". I like working with glass reflections and lately the itch to do one or two has been getting the better of me.

So, stay tuned while I'm busy scratching that itch!

Landscape, Evil Weather, and unexpected Honor

"Passing By"
24" x 18", oil on gessobord

Didn't get into the studio until after 1 p.m. today. My youngest came home from Chicago Saturday and I drove her to the train this morning to catch the 8:49. The weather, as usual, was unbelievably disgusting. We got another 5" of snow yesterday evening...which by the way wasn't even in the forecast. Imagine the surprise of people leaving their super bowl parties with all that snow. We were smart and stayed home.

By the amount of cars in the ditch on the way to the train, the roads must have been pure evil.

Today, it's foggy and we're having thunderstorms. Spring seems so far away!

The landscape above was done in one studio session today. My ease with landscapes is getting greater, but this one, although I like it, seems a tad off. It's signed, but we'll just let this little puppy sit for a couple of days and maybe the reason it seems off will become evident. If it's just me being a bit on the whacked side, then I'll just leave it be. Just below is the painting with the first stages of painting.

Okay...a bit of bragging is about to happen. Last Thursday I came home from work and found a letter from the Illinois Alliance for Arts Education (IAAE). It announced that I am being awarded the IAAE Artist Award for my work with the Authentic Artist program with 5th & 6th graders of Reagan Middle School and mural work with the Juvenile Probation Program (both of Dixon, IL). I was nominated by teacher and bff, Debbie Thompson. Awards will be presented at the IL state capitol on March 11. Pretty cool.

Back to landscapes

"Anterior Road"
12" x 16", oil on board

As promised yesterday, here is picture of the 2nd painting I did yesterday. This piece went faster than the smaller painting I did yesterday (6" x 8", King of the Hill). Landscapes, for me, are much looser in style.

With still lifes, I still tend to tighten up. Need to work on that.

Going small

"King of the Hill"
6" x 8", oil on board

I didn't get in the studio until 1:00 today. My youngest daughter came home from Chicago for the weekend and I had to get her to the train by 8:45 a.m. in Mendota, IL. That's about 40 minutes away. Then I had to get myself back home for a 10:00 meeting. Made it with flying colors. The meeting took two hours and hopefully, I will be able to report some good news on that in the near future. Gotcha curious didn't I?

So the first painting I did today....did I mention that I completed TWO paintings today? Well, I did! While I was painting, it started to snow and it was so peaceful, that I got into a real zone. Couldn't stop.

The second one is a 12 x 16 landscape. I'll post the picture tomorrow, because the light for photography had deteriorated.

Ice Jam at the dam in Dixon, IL

On Sunday, yesterday, my daughter, Debbie, and I thought it would be fun to go to an open house. I had my eye on this one home, and was curious to see it. Oh, the agreement on this adventure was unanimous. So, we get to the house, and ring the bell, when a sinking feeling came over me. Where is the "open house" sign? The homeowner answered the door and said the open house was the day before. Duh

Well, we brushed that moment of stupid off and just did what any 3 healthy American women would do. Lunch.

Just before going back home, we stopped to take a picture of the ice dam on the river. You can't see the real dam anymore because of the ice. Flooding is starting to occur to the north.
Today it warmed up quite a bit, 20 degrees. I was wearing my tank top. heh

Gotta love friends

"Oranges over Dots", 16" x 20", oil on gessobord

As an exhibiting artist member at The Next Picture Show gallery in Dixon, IL, we are given at least 2 weeks each year to be the featured artist. This means we can show our work at the front of the gallery. My 2 weeks start on Jan. 15 through 31, 2008.

My work featured until Jan. 31, 2008 at The Next Picture Show

This past Sunday, my friends Debbie & John Thompson, and my husband, Jeff, and I went to the gallery to take Debbie's featured artist show down (she sold FOUR paintings) and then they proceeded to help me get my show up. Two birds with one stone you know. We did all that and packed the cars up within one hour's time. Not bad at all. Gotta love friends.

We then walked down to Books On First, a wonderful independent books store, for a coffee and general chit chat. We were killing time before a 3:15 movie. We went to see "Juno." Everyone enjoyed the show, which is saying something when going with 4 people who all have different movie tastes! Then a quick supper at a local eatery and then home. I was pooped. It didn't help that it got really cold and blustery. Seems when it gets that way, I use a lot more energy just keeping warm. Heater car seats are a beautiful thing.

Today, I did a quick still life of oranges on a polka-dot cloth. SEE TOP of post. Did this in one afternoon. Blue and orange seem to go well together...really pop against each other.

My studio dog, Annie, was lonely and did a rare climb to my 2nd floor studio and plopped herself down between my easel and stool. I didn't have the heart to move her, so I painted the oranges straddling an old fat, farty, black lab.

Multi-tasking is a good thing.

What's next, locust?

"Order Up," 24" x 36", oil on gessobord

Last Wednesday the weather was zero. Today it's 65. It's thundering and hailing. Tornado warnings are being announced now. My snow is all gone. It now looks like Beruit outside. Keep an eye out for locust.

Finished up the painting above and named it "Order Up." The kitchen staff in our restaurant were plating up a dinner party of around 50 ppl when this was taken. My husband is in the white ball cap.

Just cleaned up my studio so I can start dinner. Hopefully, I can run back up to the studio to set up some still lifes. Knowing me however, that might just fizzle after supper. You know, full stomach and all. But I hear there's ANOTHER football game on tonight. Boredom may get me back to work.

I am featured exhibiting artist member (for the local gallery) from Jan. 16-31. I want to get a couple more new pieces ready for the show. We'll see.

Another weather alert just came over the radio. I will never have a house without a full basement. Oh, I just husband left a couple of hours ago to go hit some balls at the golf course. It's been raining. Where the heck is he? geez

It's coming along....

untitled, 36" x 24", oil on gessobord
2nd day's work

After a really snowy weekend, the sun came out and I got an early start in my studio today. This is my second day of work on the painting above. There isn't a name for this piece yet...just can't seem to get a title to pop into my head. It will come.

I mainly tried to finish covering the surface and didn't touch the faces this week. Mainly, I was concerned with the values and blocking in the objects. I took a lot of the smaller objects out...too much detail. However, the bottle looks a bit on the lean-y side. Need to straighten it up a bit. Hopefully, I'll get this done in one more session.

When that session takes place will be the unknown factor. Both kids (and boyfriend) will be home for Christmas and my studio will turn into a bedroom. I purchased the Aero bed last week. Can't wait to see that puppy inflate all by itself. It's a full size bed and that will take up all my floor space.

Today, I'm finished doing studio work a bit early because I have a committee meeting at the gallery in Dixon at 3 p.m. It's 2:30 now, so it's time to get my rear in gear and on the road.

Happy holidays to everyone.

Ice Storm vs. Snow Storm

the sketch

2nd stage...that's it for today, 36" x 24", oil on board

I vote for snow storm. Much easier to drive in! Last Thursday, Jeff and I catered a local Chamber of Commerce Christmas party at the director's house and it started snowing just as we left our place with all the food to go to their place. By the time we got there it was almost whiteout conditions and we started, what if no one comes?

There we all were -- the 5 of us -- sitting there with all this great food and cases and cases of wine and beer. I think we would have been fine if no one came...heh heh. But, almost everyone came and a good time was had by all.

Today we're in the midst of an ice storm that's supposed to get really snarky tomorrow. So, I'll spend another day at the easel instead of driving into Dixon to work.

Speaking of easel, I started on a figurative study (above). It's Jeff (in white baseball hat) and some of our staff plating up a private party in our restaurant kitchen. I don't do too many figurative paintings, but do them occasionally to keep me from getting rusty. I would have gotten farther along, but I decided to make my Italian gravy today and that takes a bit of's called procrastinating about going into my studio.

"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.

Quite day in the studio

"Pine Creek Autumn"
24" x 30", oil on gessobord

It's been two weeks since I've been in the studio and it was productive. Finished the landscape above. Wish I could get more studio time but since it is autumn, the bed & breakfast and restaurant business is in super busy mode. We've had 2 weddings, big baby shower (wish I had one of those when I was in pregnant mode!), and a big birthday party, along with rooms, and busy public restaurant dining.

The fall colors have been slow in coming this season. Normally by the end of the 2nd week of October colors are hitting their peak. This year, colors are just slowly appearing. It has been warmer than average, but who knows? It really is never quite the same every year. Or else my memory is fading faster than I thought!

Until next...

Jumpin' into Autumn

"Rock River Sunset," 24 x 48, acrylic on canvas

Even though it's 90 degrees today (that truly sucks), I was in the mood to start an autumn landscape. But before starting the landscape, I went back to the "Rock River Sunset" painting I started (and thought was finished) last week and gave the large tree on the right some more value adjustments (and in other little places). Now I feel it's finished.

First stage...underpainting

I still have lots of photos I took last year of fields in early autumn along the highways of Illinois and Wisconsin. The reason I'm using last year's photos is because there are hardly any soy bean fields around this year. They always turn a beautiful yellowy-orange before the trees start turning. Due to ethanol demands, the farmers cashed in and planted almost every field with corn. Don't blame them, but it sure isn't as pretty.

Second stage

This photo was taken on a famous trip (see last year in October) a bunch of us took the "rock star party bus" to Wisconsin for Monroe Cheese Days. I got some great highway shots, but the better pictures (or should I say "more fun" pictures) are staying off of this blog! Let's just say that we were asked to LEAVE a brewery tour. Shameful.

3rd Stage....almost done. One more day's work to go!
"Autumn Layers," 24 x 30, oil on board

Well it's time to clean up and make supper. Call me crazy, but I'm turning on the oven to make chicken enchiladas. Have had a taste for them for 2 days.

Getting ready for an outdoor show

"Three Amigos," 24"x 24", oil board

Finished this painting today. I renamed it from "Flower Power 2" to "Three Amigos." Don't know why, but it seemed to fit better.

I have one more in this series to start. It will be smaller, 20" x 16" and it will be acrylic. I want to do something that I can finish in a sitting and have it ready for an outdoor show this weekend. This is the only outdoor show I do because it's only 2 blocks from my house and it's just so much work. It's the 59th Grand Detour Arts Festival. Hopefully, the weather will be good.

Pretty tired today. My daughters and I threw a surprise 50th birthday party for my husband. Almost 50 people came. It was just to be immediate family and a couple close friends, and, in truth, that's what it was. The numbers got large because we both have rather large families and Jeff is a twin, so we had Julie's inlaws too. Catered everything...played bocci ball and bags, lots of beer and wine, incredibly rich chocolate strawberry Bavarian cake, and even an impromptu cake fight between my oldest and her cousin. Laughed our butts off. Weather was in the mid 80s, sunny, and low humidity.

I learned how to play "flippy cup." The twenty somethings say it's a TEAM sport. Well we won, but my head paid the price this morning. Gotta love Advil. Feel good now, especially since I got to paint uninterrupted for 4.5 hours.

Flower Power

All in a day's work...much work to be done
24"x 24" oil on board

Started three new still lifes featuring zinnias, cosmos, and different containers. Last night I underpainted 3 boards and sketched out the paintings.

I only put in around 4 hours of work because the weather is being tempermental with the light changing so rapidly with every passing thunderstorm. Thought I was going to go blind at one point.

The painting above is just the beginning. It's an oil on 24" x 24" gessobord. I hit the "this is the ugliest piece of crap" in record time....maybe an hour. Trying to keep the oranges, fuscias and pinks brilliant is a true challenge. By the end of this session, I started to see a progression from the "crap" stange. hee

Dogs day of summer!

Still Life with Copper Bowl
16" x 20", oil on board

I finished the above painting this past Monday morning. In a previous post, I learned about the use of the medium, Liquin, from Tracy Helgeson's blog. So this is my first piece of work done with Liquin and I have to say I really like it and will continue to use it. Once the Liquin is added, even my stiffest, driest paints are buttery smooth. It's especially nice when working on gessobord.

This week has been chuck full with activities away from the easel. Three days were spent working at Affinity AV. Learning a lot about website development and production. Mural work on Monday evening, and our restaurant and B&B has been very busy. Summer, you know. The weather has been in the 90s seems like forever and people don't even like to think about cooking--indoors or out.

Once everyone checks out on Sunday, I hope to run up to my studio and get some boards prepped for my next set of paintings!

Still Life with Copper

I got back to a still life of a copper bowl with apples and asparagus on a silver tray that was started a couple of weeks ago.

The picture below is the 2nd day's work. One more day, about an hour, will do it. It got a bit wet and I got tired of looking at I'm still dragging my butt like an alligator from whatever ailment I picked up last week. Don't get me wrong...I feel MUCH better, just a tad punky...can't explain it exactly.

I am a fan of Tracy Helgeson's work and read her blog almost every day. We definitely have different styles, but she has been very forthcoming in her painting techniques whenever anyone asks her about them. Be sure to check out her blog soon! The reason I mention Tracy is that she told me that to finish her oils quickly and then send them to her various galleries, she uses Liquin as a medium with her oils. It makes the paint a bit translucent, very spreadable, and helps the paint dry much more quickly. the 2nd picture I gave Liquin a try. Oh...she also mentioned that Liquin gives the paint a nice even sheen, making it possible to not have to varnish! Now, that is a time saver!

Well, I just fed my dog, Annie, and now I must start getting prepared for a children's acrylic painting class Tuesday and Thursday. It starts at 9 a.m. for 2 hours. Not bad. The last I heard there will be 8 kids. Hopefully, I'll have enough paint and supplies. I took some pics of my zinnias to do large simple closeup paintings of. Three of the choices are just below.

Holiday over...back to reality

16" x 20" oil/gessobord, still thinking on the title
unfinished...will try to finish another day...when the oil sets up a bit.

All in a day's work here. Peonies and a Japanese Iris in a glass vase were started today, along with another still life of apples, asparagus, and a copper bowl below. Both are 16" x 20", oil on gessobord.
The copper bowl one should be a challenge. I don't think I've done that yet, and it will have the added challege of a silver tray near the bottom.

All my holiday company left yesterday morning. It was fun having them, but they really pooped me out! It wasn't just them, but also canoing all afternoon on the 4th with 5 canoes and a kayak, unknown quantities of beer, cooking massive quantities of food at the cabin afterwards, 3 dogs having fun in the water....and laughing, laughing, laughing. It was almost better than art.
I also worked at the gallery's outdoor show on Saturday (90 degrees) all day. Got there at 6:30 a.m. to help set up the information booth, make coffee, help checkin artists and answer questions. Busy day, but it seemed rather successful for the artists. Lots of customers walking around with purchased art work!

Near the end of the canoing/eat fest at the cabin. Chris and poor Guiness.
That dog will never be the same. Don't worry, the cigarette was never lit.

The restaurant was also open Thurs through Saturday, Dixon had their yearly Petunia Festival, the kids would party all evening, sleep all day, schedules and plans were changed so often, I gave up and did what I had to do.

But that's what summer and family is all about...with a good mix of friends.

Yesterday evening we catered a fundraiser at the gallery which finished up with Dixon's fireworks. I made it to 9 p.m., but was so tired, I just headed home and was asleep on the couch by 10 pm. Totally wonderful sleep know the kind that you drool uncontrolably...? heh

A barn a week

Farm on Sink Hollow Road, 12" x 12"
Oil on Panel....almost finished

Barn on Cedar St., 12" x 12"
Oil on Panel

Thank goodness prom season and Mother's Day is over. It's hard to concentrate on painting when the restaurant is so crazy.

I finished up my barn from last week and started on another one, same size and medium, today. My picture (2nd one) for this finished barn is a bit more muted than the actual painting, but that's the breaks! The second one just needs another hour of work, but I'll probably have to wait another week to finish it because we have b&b guests most of the week. My frustration level is so high right now, it's unbelievable.


Okay, better now.

I am enjoying the barns, although working this small is not natural for me. I plan on doing some larger ones soon. While working bigger, I can just throw the paint around in a more relaxed way. Working small makes me tense up a bit. Heh. That's what I want...more tension!