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.

Finished 1 - Starting another

"Leaving Peoria," 18" x 36", oil on gessobord

I finished the lanscape I started a couple of weeks ago. The holiday really cut into studio time. Last week was my last week of working at the hotels. So, I guess I now have some time for painting. People keep telling me that. Only problem is that they have to sell to pay the rent!!!

This piece is titled "Leaving Peoria" because I was driving back home from a food show in Peoria at the end of September this year. There's mostly country highways on the way back to Dixon and the sun was just starting to get low. This painting is definitely more illustration in style and I don't know how I feel about it yet. Kinda like working with the oranges and bold blues. They do bounce off each other.

in progress

Getting back into still life too. After finishing "Leaving Peoria," I started on a floral still life. Haven't done this in ages. This photo I shot over a year ago...almost two! So far I have just the blocking in stages started. I'm enjoying a bit of spring while winter is starting to gain foothold here in the midwest!

2009 will bring big life changes

"Living behind a Glass House," 18" x 24", oil on 2" cradled gessobord

Guess what? A bug got up my butt and I actually forced myself to get back to my easel yesterday. We have closed our restaurant and inn for a bit (we have a contract, but it may take awhile for the sale to go through) and I have officially resigned from that part of my life.

So, the first week after the holidays was rather surreal for me. My girls are gone now. The oldest is in Sweden/Bosnia with her fiance. It's his home(s) and he hasn't been there in years. My youngest is starting her last year at University of IL at Chicago. That's not so far away, but she doesn't get home much. As I said in a previous post, my dog passed away this fall, and now my employees (which I used to complain about) are gone. Be careful what you wish for.

The web work I've been doing for a company out of South Dakota has cut my hours way back. Crap. Sorry about the pity party. I'll snap out of it. So, anyway, I did sell a painting the other day and it made me realize that I can't depend on other people for my livelihood. So, it's back to the easel.

I do love still lifes and for some reason had gotten away from them. This still life is from a photo I took a few months ago. I love the challenge of glass and reflections.

The main lesson here is to not look at the glass as a glass, but as an abstract and to paint it as I SEE it, bit by bit. All of a sudden it becomes real. I paint most of my paintings over red cad medium. This one I painted rather quickly (for oils) and left a bit of the red peeking through.

Phoenix, Cubbies, and Betty

Chicago Cubs Spring Training Still Life

Our trip has been a blast with a capital "b" so far. We left on Sunday from O'Hare. The flight and the connecting flight in Salt Lake City went off flawlessly. Everything has been as smooth as silk so far.

Yesterday, Monday, we went to Mesa to see the Cubs play the Texas Rangers. Earlier that morning we had the BEST BREAKFAST ever and then when the husbands (the boys) went to the golf shop to do boy stuff, we wandered over to a day spa and had the BEST PEDICURES ever. Mine was a Chocolate pedicure. Yep...that is what vacations are all about. As you can see in the photo above, I composed a still life of our lovely feet on the GREEN grass of our lawn seats at the game and of course, the beverage of choice.

Young Cheerleader

This little girl was the hit of our section of lawn seats. Not a peep out of her, just running up and down the small hill where we were sitting and chasing a rubber ball. Simple joy.

The new, other woman in our lives, "BETTY."

This past Christmas I bought this Garmin GPS unit for my husband. Debbie and I named her Betty. She has been a real trooper getting us everywhere since arriving in Phoenix. She got us turned around once during rush hour, but she "recalculated" quickly and we were right back on track.

We be lovin' our Betty.


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 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.

Draggin' my Ass like an Aligator.....

The finished mural.

Boy am I pooped. What a week!

We finished the mural with the kids from the probation office. What a great way to work off your community service, right?

Yesterday we painted with the kids and today (a.m.) Debbie, Arin and I went in and did the final touches like outlining, adding flourishes, and playing with the copper and gold metallic paints. People have been spreading the word and our url link to this project and we have received very positive comments.

About 1 p.m. we finished today and then I went to work with Jack at AAV (web design) until around 5 p.m. I went home and created the 'Now Showing" slide show on the gallery I volunteer with (and show with), The Next Picture Show. A new show opened TONIGHT called "She." An all women's show. Fatigue had set in, but I knew I should show up since I had two pieces juried into the show. I got there just as the last 3 crackers on the tray were ready to be snatched up and of course, a fine plastic cup of "Winking Owl" Chardonnay was waiting for me!

At that very moment, they were announcing Best of Show. Guess who won that puppy? yep. me. Who woulda thunk it? It's the pear picture in this post. I accepted the check, another cup of fine wine, called home to order a pasta special (at our restaurant) and drove my tired butt home.

Tomorrow starts off early. We have b&b guests tonight. Take care.

We just had a cool front come in. It's going down to 50 F tonight. Yeah baby.

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.

Weird week

"Peonies Showing Off"
20" x 16", oil on board

You know what happens when you burn the candle at both ends for too long? The aching flu happens, that's what! Sunday night was the crash and burn night and I've been battling since then. I did manage to finish the Peony painting above on Monday. Turned out better than I thought it would. The background has a lot of gloss in it, so taking the picture was a real challenge. I was going to start on the second still life that was started last week, but my medication wore off and I got too pooped to pop!

My friend, Debbie, also came down with the same illness ... we burned that same candle together....but she added another illness on top of it -- LYME DISEASE. She has always been an overachiever. She called me yesterday and is finally feeling better. Good thing. The entire town of Dixon, Illinois is probably wondering where in the heck are the Dynamic Duo!

Next week I am scheduled to teach a children's art class for two days and I just finally decided on what to do with them. My gardens this year are really looking great. We've had a good rainy summer (so far) and my tall garden zinnias are the brightest fuschias, oranges, magentas, and pinks. I think we'll do close-ups of the flower heads in acrylics.

The week after that Debbie, her daughter Arin, and I will be starting a 10' H x 20' W mural with 6 teenagers from the probation services. The Lee County Probation office picked the kids that would seem a good fit for this kind of project. It will take care of their public service. It's the first time anything like this has been done and so we are all very excited, but kind of nervous at the same time.

Our subject is going to be trees. Not a typical boring landscape, but each kid's interpretation of a tree. In earlier posts, Debbie and I did murals with her art students at the local hospital. This spring we finished our 3rd one. They were all kids' interpretations of: happy houses, cats, then dogs.

We will take their paintings a tree and put it into an interesting composition and then sketch it out on the wall and everyone will work on painting their trees on the wall. They'll each help each other and learn something. I will be starting a new blog just for this project. Arin is a wonderful writer also and she will be journeling this whole process. It really is cool. Keep an eye out for the new blog address. I have to see if I want to use wordpress or blogger. Wordpress has much nicer templates, but we'll see.

Until later.

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

Eggplant done! Now it's time for a movie and pie.

"Laying Down on the Job", 30" x 30"
Oil on Board

Another still life done. First time for eggplants. Kinda pears. My light fluctuated quite a bit today. We had some pretty powerful thunderstorms come through with periods of sun breaking through. Glad for the rain. It's been well over a week since the last rain and the weather has been in the 90s for the last few days. I'm not big on heat...nope. I'm definitely a fall and winter kind of gal.

Well, it's time to clean up the studio and me. Going to Debbie's with a goofy romance comedy, "Music & Lyrics," (thank you Netflix) and we had a whole pie left over from our restaurant. It's called Aunt Gurley Mae's Key Lime Pie. It's a recipe of Jeff's great aunt and it is a thing of beauty. Maybe I should paint it. heh

There would be world peace if everyone canoed

"Pears on Blue Cloth," oil on gessobord
30" x 30"

What a busy couple of days! Lots of gardening, weeding, working, and now the hamstrings are barking! I finished the pear painting (above). In April, I did this painting for an Alzheimer's benefit in acrylic. Since that was auctioned off, I wanted to do one in oil for an upcoming show. I'm still working on the same size eggplant painting. That one is almost done also, just another couple of hours. I hope to get a whole 2 days this week at the easel. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Yesterday (Sunday), Jeff and I joined John & Debbie Thompson in canoing the Waukerusha River (or creek). This creek rises and falls with every rain. It rained hard on Friday, so the creek was just starting to get low by Sunday. It has lots of small rapids, tubes, and stuff. It took us 4 1/2 hours. There's a rip cord to ride. Of course, Debbie and I did that a couple of times. Only thing is to get a person back across the water, the other one has to pull them in by the attached rope. I think my arms are 3 inches longer!

The creek is so beautiful in its lushness and bluffs. One of the bluffs looks like the face of a lion. It startled me when we came around the bend and saw it. You could see the fish swimming beneath us. Hard to believe that only 40 minutes away from acres and acres of corn fields is this Illinois paradise.
Debbie and I broke in her new canoe. The seats in this one are teak slats and now we have very sore butts! We laughed so hard at times we almost tipped over. Of course, we had a couple beers to keep our spirits up.

This was Jeff's first canoe adventure since, I believe, 7th grade! He and John had a harder time with the shallower water. They are a tad heavier that Debbie and I...heh heh.

I hope to get a lot more of this kind of activity in this year. Last year my schedule didn't allow me to enjoy canoing. We live on the Rock River and the Thompson's are renting a cabin farther up this River this summer. It's a perfect place to stop while canoing down the river. I think I'm going to totally dig this summer.

Jeff and I got home arond 8 pm. It was a "2 Aleve" night. This morning was my first class with a real gung-ho instructor at the Y. It's a body sculpting class and we did a lot of lunges and triceps. I'm taking that 3 mornings a week. I hope I make it through. It took a lot of will power afterwards to go into my studio and paint. I just wanted a nap, but I'm one of those people who can't sleep very well at night when a nap is taken.

Well....time to watch some crappy television and order postcards for the Grand Detour Art Show. We send some to all the artists juried into the show.

Still life heaven

I started two 30" x 30" still lifes on gessobord. My last post I couldn't decide on what I was going to use...acrylic or oils. I decided on oils. Don't know why, just did. Just below is the start of an eggplant still life and a pear still life. I got farther along on the eggplant painting then the pear one. My dog, Annie needed a walk and a swim in the river. Beautiful night. She just loves the river. During our walk, we picked up another stroller, Theo, a Chesapeake retriever. He's a bit of a wildman, but he seems to like me. He tends to snarl at other dogs, but he minds me. Strange. Met another sweet dog, Patches. Her owner, Ray, is a sweet guy too. I should take walks more often!

phase 1: eggplant

phase 2: eggplant

phase 1: pears

phase 2: pears

You might recognize the pear still life. I did this for the Alzheimers benefit in April in acrylics. I had to finish it in one day. This one is for me. In oils.

I'm trying to type this while watching "Babel." Not easy. Kind of intense.

I really digging the gessobord. Said before. Will keep saying it. They are great to paint on. I normally ge tthe best price from Jerry's Artarama. A couple of weeks ago I ordered some 18 x 36, 24 x 24, and 16 x 20. The 16 x 20s were out of stock. The others came in, but the 24 x 24s came in as 30 x 30s. Luckily I wasn't charged more.

Got tired of waiting for the 16 x 20s, so I ordered them from Cheap Joes. A bit more, but at least they have them!

Whew! Lot's of painting this weekend.

Well the Alzheimer's benefit is over. Debbie and I arrived there about 12:30 p.m. on Saturday and started our paintings. This is the 4th year for this event and each year it gets better with the way it is run. I took a picture of pears (of course...I just love 'em) and printed it out to paint. The painting ended up being 30" x 30". Came out pretty well for doing it all in a day. Debbie did a beautiful sky scene. My painting went for $675 and Debbie's went for $325 (give or take $25).

We got home a bit after 11 p.m. Our legs were aching from standing on a cement floor all day. You know what the best part was? They fed us! Oh yeah...a well fed artist is a friend for life.

Sunday the Thompsons and the Roses went to the 5:00 movie, "Blades of Glory." Just wanted something mindless and hopefully, funny. Well, mindless and funny pretty much covered this movie. I almost spit up at one point.

Today, I started a 24" x 48" apple orchard still life. I sketched it out two weeks ago and finally decided to go with acrylics instead of oils. This size can really deplete my supply of oils! Here is the painting in three stages.

What...Snow in the South?

Beginning of Storm...view from Spa level to the top of
resort (our room is at the top)

This is getting silly. My husband and I traveled to Asheville, NC this past Sunday. We left EARLY from O'Hare in Chicago (through Detroit) and had a lovely hard landing due to the wind of that huge storm that was starting up on the East Coast.

We got our rental car, drove straight to the Grove Park Inn (an historic mountain resort). Believe it or not, we didn't get lost once! As we were driving, it started getting windier and then rainier, and finally snowier! By the time we checked in the area was in a full blown blizzard with hurricane like winds. So, we decided to stay in and eat at one of the inn's restaurants. My mother didn't raise no dummy.

By 9:20 p.m. the power for the whole place went out...all 500+ rooms...even the auxiliary lights. Didn't scare me, but makes a rather dull evening...well kinda.

Monday the sun came out, but the wind was a real skirt blower-upper! The inn had problems with power all day. Oh ... well, time for a glass or two of wine! We've had some really nice food at some really nice restaurants because it was better than being outside! Tuesday has been better and Jeff just got back after 18 holes of golf. His legs are tired. Poor baby.

Asheville Still Life
(I make a still life whenever I travel somewhere new!)

We'll be heading home (which, by the way, Illinois is enjoying 72 degree weather...hmmph) on Thursday to another fine weekend of restaurant work.

Asheville is a beautiful mountain town, full of galleries, outdoor activities, the Biltmore Estate, Arts & Craft architecture everywhere, and very nice people. Visit sometime.

Good News and Bad News

First, the good news. Yesterday evening was the 60th Phidian Art Show in Dixon, Illinois. As mentioned in previous posts, this Art Club (which I am a member) is over 100 years old, founded by the women of Dixon and surrounding areas to support and advocate all forms for the fine arts. Last evening I received the Best of Show for an oil still life titled, "Venetian Shadows."(above). This is the 2nd time I have been honored with this award. My friend Debbie received the Creativity Award. In fact, we both won the same award two years running. So with award checks in hand, we and the husbands went out for a late dinner and couple of brews!

Good news #2: I sold another painting last night. The customer is from Atlanta. She has purchased from me before. She was dining at our restaurant on Easter and saw "Pears on a Silver Tray"(above) hanging there. So, she called yesterday and said to bring it to the Phidian Show.

Good news #3: Jeff and I are leaving on a 4 day vacation this Sunday to Ashville, NC. Our daughters gave us this trip for our 25th wedding anniversary. Didn't we raise 'em right?

The bad news, you ask? Well as I type now, it is snowing and actually sticking to the ground. This is so wrong on so many levels. The Cubs game has been canceled. That's okay, they just break my heart on a yearly basis anyway.

Both Easter and Apples are done

Cut Apples on Glass Plate
12" x 12", oil on gessobord

Apples on Blue Plate
12" x 12", oil on gessobord

Well, another holiday is over. We had a nice crowd at the restaurant. A lot of my family came to the last seating, so both my daughter and I could sit and enjoy a nice meal, good wine, and my sister Jean's fabulous homemade banana cream pie. Maybe I should paint that! That was made impossible, because it was consumed before anyone could grab a camera.

So today I finished the two apple still lifes I started last week. These were both done on the Ampersand gessoboard. They are both on a 2" deep birch cradle. ..making framing totally unnecessary. Wooo hooo.

I ordered a bunch more gessobord panels and a couple of boxes of 24" x 48" creative edge canvases. The latter size canvases will be used for my next painting...another landscape with some of the soy fields in the background, but featuring a beautiful apple orchard in Dixon, IL. Maybe tonight I'll sketch one out.

But now it's time to start dinner. Don't know where my husband disappeared to. He left hours ago to "get more corn." We have a corn burner in the lounge of our restaurant and we ran out before the weather warmed up. Easter was colder than last Christmas. We have a few more days of cold weather and, then hopefully, things will start to improve.

Back to oils today

After being away from my studio for over a week, my attitude was not in a good place.

Last evening, I toned and sketched out three, yes three, new oil paintings. Two are 12 x 12 still lifes on gessobord, and one is 30 x 30 fall landscape on gessobord. All the panels are 2" deep cradled gessobords. I really enjoy working on this kind of material better than canvas.

Here are all three paintings in stages. I am working on the smaller (apples) ones at the same time on the same easel. It's much easier to keep the color constant that way. Tomorrow, I hope to put a dent into finishing them. It will depend on if the paint will be dry enough to continue on.

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!

Figurative study is almost done

I think I'm near finishing this figurative study. It's coming along pretty well. It's 20 x 24, but now I wish I had done it on a larger canvas. Oh well, the framing will cost less! Also I worked a bit more on the pear still life on gessoboard. I found a picture I took last summer during a silent auction at the gallery. It should make a great figurative/human study and I will start that painting on a larger canvas. Stay tuned on that one.