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.

Plein Air in the snow

Just saw this video from artist, Michael Chesley Johnson, doing a winter scene en plein air, outside....brrrr. The video is very nice compared to some artist videos. Found it on Artist's Magazine's blog.

Well...time to get off this laptop and on to the real world. Jeff just handed me a grocery shopping list for the restaurant and instructions to pick up his sous chef on the way back (that's what happens when you get too many dui's...bosses have to pick you up for work----ahhhh, the restaurant business...).

This afternoon, I have a meeting at the Lee County Courthouse (with Debbie and Arin) to find out about a new mural project! Post later on that job.

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.

Thanksgiving done...Christmas well on its way.

Well, trying to do any painting is certainly becoming impossible. I was hoping to do some today, but I had to finish the xmas decorating.

Front parlor...the tree skirt is somewhere in the house!

Saturday I did our restaurant's bar/lounge, and 2 public dining rooms. Three trees, 2 fireplace mantles, lots of window pictures of that though. After the last bit was done, I just poured a glass of wine and walked out the door to go home! The day before, my husband, and 2 daughters (both home for the holiday) went to a local tree place and purchased an 11' Frazier Fir for the front room of our bed & breakfast. The ceilings are 12' in there.

Front parlor mantle...the Santa collection is actually put to good use.

So, today I did that tree (almost 900 lights!) and the mantles of both the front parlor and formal dining room. The dining room is where we serve breakfast to our guests.

Looking into the dining room.

We have the whole place (restaurant and all) up for sale and I hope and pray with all my heart that this is the last time I have to do this. Shall we say that the joy is gone and when that happens it's time to get out.

Might be moving this blog!

I've been working most of the evening in redesigning my website. I'm using SiteKreator and so far it's working out pretty well. As with any new process, there are bumps along the way.

I figured out the gallery slideshow and customizing the header banners to reflect my work. The email forms are giving me fits. They have a forum and that may be my next avenue to get help with.

The new site gives me the option of including a blog within the site, which means I have to eventually transfer all my stuff over...if I can. Keep an eye out!

My husband and I are hosting both sides of the family for Thanksgiving. So, this week will have not painting for me. Grocery shopping, cleaning, and my hair color could use a touch up!

Old Boys Club Wannabee

"Old Boys Club" 16" x 20" oil on board

On Saturday, I attended a "free paint" one day oil painting workshop by Michael Gerry at The Next Picture Show gallery in Dixon.

It was the first time I could attend one of these because Saturdays are not normally available for me. But this time, I disregarded that and decided to take my art life back and actually put it on the front burner!

The class was a lot of fun where I got to meet some new people and get reaquainted with Mike. Mike used to be a neighbor of mine here in Grand Detour. He is very well know for his large, detailed closeups of flowers. Click to go to one of his galleries to see some of his work.

There were five of us in class with a wide range of experience levels. We got to paint what we wanted, which is what I really wanted to do. I picked an onion still life on a 16" x 20" board.

My challege was to do an oil in one sitting. The challenge was met and accomplished. Debbie attended the class with me and she did her first ever color oil portrait (of her son Chris). The finished piece is fabulous. She caught the likeness of Chris amazingly well.

This is (I think) a 36" x 36" oil of a peony by Michael Gerry. Cool huh?

The other 3 students did landscapes and they all managed to finish (well mostly) and their pieces are excellent.

We gabbed and laughed a lot. At lunch we ducked out the back door to the Alley Loop...a local bar/deli. We got to know each other over Crazy Cuban sandwiches....mmmmmmmm.

By 4:00 we pretty much wound things up. All in all a great day. I look forward to other workshops.

Her Majesty completed

"Her Majesty," 24 x 24, oil on board

She's all done. Worked on her today. This one was harder than I planned on. I don't like to use small brushes very often and this painting forced me to do that. Painting more loosely is my goal and the during the last half of working on this piece I was married to keeping things crisp and tight. But, the composition pushed me to do that. If I had not cropped into the subject so tightly, I could have painted more loosely. I still like her though. She's one of the fine old farmhouses just outside of Dixon, Illinois (northwestern illinois). Debbie and I took a farm hunting/picture taking drive around May this year and snapped a bunch of images just as the sun started to get low in the early evening sky.

Debbie and my daughter showing joy over free sample beverage.

Jeff and I met my sisters (3 of the 5), my beautiful daughter, my mom, brother-in-law, and of course my bff Debbie in Chicago to see Wicked yesterday afternoon. My sister, Judy, was the ticket getter and we met at her place and went to a nice lunch at an Italian place not far from her and then we caught a couple of cabs to the Ford Oriental Theatre. The play was wonderful. I wish I could hold a note that long.

My sister, Judy, showing joy over Pinot Grigio at lunch.

The evening was beautiful and we decided to take the el instead of cabs because my mom said she had never taken the el before. So we did. It was fun...yeah, it was! We got back to Judy's and had a little wine, watched the end of the Indiana/New England football game, and raided Judy's shoe closet. She was cleaning it out to make room for more! We're helpful that way.

Then we hit the road back to Dixon. Home by 9 p.m. A really nice day. Slept late this morning and got into the studio a bit late, but who's watching?

This weekend I'm attending an "open" oil painting one day workshop with Michael Gerry. We can bring our own subject to work on and not be in a more traditional class. I haven't done one of these in a long time because Saturdays are normally out for me because of the inn and restaurant. Nov. is slower in that area and I'm taking advantage of it! I'll probably do a still life.

Studio time scarce these days

"Her Majesty," 24" x 24" oil on gessobord (unfinished)

Getting into my studio these days has been a problem. Fall brings on more activities that pull me away from the easel unfortunately.

This past Sunday, while the Bears were being absolutely pitiful, I did get into my studio to work for a couple of hours on the painting above. Adjusted some values, and tightened up some of the lines. Although I noticed as I was prepping this photo for today's post, that the window on the lower far right is still not right. That's why I love oils. Once it dries a bit, I'll go in and adjust it a bit. Really don't want to spend a lifetime on this and make it too fussy. It's not meant to be an architectural study.

Today, I'm getting packed to go to on an overnight to Galena, IL for an IEZA (Illinois Enterprise Zone Assoc.) event. I helped with the development of their website earlier this year (and continue to maintain and update it), so one of their members invited me to this function. Doesn't hurt that the member is my best friend's husband. Thanks John.

So, we'll be back in Dixon VERY EARLY due to Debbie's a teacher and I am supposed ot be assisting in a video shoot for a local client. It's my first time doing that, so we'll all have to be good monkies tonight in Galena. Just in case, I'm taking my BIG jar of Advil. heh heh

Oh yeah, almost forgot. Heard through a little birdie that Debbie, Arin, and I might be getting another mural project. Will hear for sure in a couple of weeks. Lots of work, but very rewarding!

Starting on Her Majesty

Step cad underpainting with quick sketch painted in.

Next step and end of day 2...blocking in colors. Where there is red showing is where I need to paint.

Started a 24" x 24" oil on board with red cad underpainting. This farm house is somewhere out in the country around here. Debbie and I took a drive in the early spring during the evening looking for interesting barns/buildings/landscapes. My memory doesn't allow me to remember where exactly this was. The painting right now is about half done. The windows are all cock-eyed and stuff, but accuracy wasn't my main goal today. That will come later.

I only got in a couple of hours of work today. This past August Debbie, her daughter, Arin, and I participated in "The Mural Project" with 4 kids in the juvenile probation system. They were looking for new ways for juvenile offenders to work off their community service in more productive ways. We all created a 10' x 20' long mural of "magical trees."

Today we were invited to a reception honoring all of us and the kids. It was very nice. Rumor has it that there are more murals in our future. Cool.

Then Debbie and I and our husbands went to Kelly's in Sterling for some tasty food and a couple of beers. Hit the spot.

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...

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 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.

Childrens' Guest Artist Program -- Day 1

Today was the first day of the 3-day "Guest Artist" program at Reagan Middle School in Dixon, Illinois. This is my 3rd year doing the painting program. We are doing fun fruit/vegetable still lifes. There are 6 classes of kids every day doing 6 paintings.

The first day of painting for each class was blocking in the painting by starting the background first and maybe some shadow blocking in. If the class was a quieter class, we moved on to starting the actual fruit/vegetable. Boy, does listening make a world of difference. Kids that talk too much, or daydream a bit are a lot farther behind. AND if the class has more of the chatty Kathys than the quieter ones, the whole class stays behind.

Debbie Thompson is their teacher (and my best friend). She has the patience of a saint. We've done this so often, that we have a real system down now.

I'll post more as the week goes on. I started out taking pictures, but as the day wore on, with all the brush cleaning, palette reloading, and spill clean ups, I forgot about grabbing a camera.

Stay tuned for more kid art this week.

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.

Painting, Demo's, Classes....

"Autumn Layers"
24" x 30" oil on gessobord

Got in my studio a bit earlier than I normally do on a Monday. That's because my butt is behind the eight ball on several projects coming up. So, the painting above was completed first. I hung it in the hall outside my studio and it looks like it always belonged there. Until I sell it!

On Wednesday, 10/3, I am speaking and demonstrating for an artists' group in Oregon, Illinois. I've picked to demo in acrylics because I can probably finish it in the one sitting. It will be a fun simple fruit still life. I went to (sorry) Walmart yesterday to pick up some fun fabrics and fruit for a bunch of still lifes. The demo still life will also be one of 5 that will be used next week for the "Guest Artist" program at Reagan Middle School in Dixon. Each class of kids will be doing one of them. So the still life will be doing double duty! This is just sketched and underpainted to get a head start.

Just below are two stages of the next landscape. It will also be an oil on gessobord, same size. The subject is a waterway (Pine Creek), with some Angus cows at dusk. I got pretty far along before I realized that I was hungry. Supper awaits! Homemade garlic mashed potatoes, Swiss steak, and biscuits. How's that for a fall supper?

You'll have to wait for my cows to appear more fully. 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.

In one day...a world record.

Started a new piece today. It is a 24" x 48" acrylic on canvas. Had my fill of oils for just a bit. Wanted to do something that moves along a bit faster. I love Golden Liquid acrylics because I don't have to add water and the colors are SO brilliant. Also, It forces me to stay loose because with a painting this size, I can't be screwing around making it perfect. The bigger the brush the better.

Step 1: Layed in the painting with a brown/purple acyrlic.

Step 2: Layed in the values to see if I was any where near the mark. This painting is from a digital photo I took in mid-spring of the Rock River in Dixon, Illinois. My friend, Debbie, and I were doing drive-by photo shots of barns earlier and once the sun started setting we headed into Dixon (looking for food like any 2 all-american, mid-western girls would do) and saw the still sunset reflections of the river looking north, just before the old ComEd building and dam. Kinda purty, isn't it?

The world record part? Me finishing something in one day...and the size. This photo (or the one before this really doesn't do it justice, since the glare was obstructing a bit of detail. I tried to minimize the glare with the burn tool in photoshop...but it looks like a trip to my local photographer for a quality scan.

Well...we had a great cool autumn weekend and I got a taste for chicken-fried steak. But unfortunately, the weather spiked to 85 degrees today. The steak was thawed, what's a girl to do? Well, put on the a/c and make chicken fried steak! Tomorrow, cold tuna salad.

What would you eat?

A/ of life's few miracles.

Farms & Barns Show kickoff

"Apple Orchard on Brinton," 24" x 48", acrylic on canvas

This past Friday evening, September 14, the opening reception at The Next Picture Show gallery (in Dixon, IL) for the juried, all media show "Farms & Barns 2" was kicked off. This show will run through October 16, 2007.

As in the last show at the gallery, I had run out of time and paintings and decided not to enter either show. My friend Debbie would have none of it (she's so bossy). She pretty much took me and my paintings by the hand and got me signed up for both shows. Did I say she was bossy?

Anyhooo...I received Best of Show for the last show and was honored Friday with 3rd place on the painting above. I looked over at Debbie and she grinned that "I told you so" grin. Ah well...let's toast with a glass of wine. We did and then we were good girls and went home.

.....we were scheduled to judge the 36th Rockford Guild of Artists show at Beatty Park in Rockford, Illinois at 10 a.m. the next day. Yep, we were there early! Good thing they had hot coffee available. We had our first freeze that morning and it remained rather cool under the big shade trees. It got to maybe 65 degrees. Not complaining and neither were the artists, knowing that it could easily have been 90 and humid as in past years' shows. There were almost 70 artists and Debbie and I think we nailed the winners pretty well. Judging's hard. Thanks to Penny Cash of the Rockford Art Guild for her generous support.