Thursday, December 31, 2009

Monday, December 14, 2009

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A gathering of apples

Apples have replaced pears in my painting affections.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Falling off the table

There's a definite downward slant to these apples.

My favorite color this week? Yellow ochre.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

October still life...

The colors in this painting are actually very different from what appears here, and there wasn't room for the whole painting in the scanner, but you get the idea...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Taco Chip

Abstracting everyday objects...

Monday, November 2, 2009

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Saturday, with pears...

Although I think about painting almost every day, I haven't picked up a paintbrush for several months. These brown pears have been beckoning me all week. Since they are starting to develop mushy spots, today was the day. It felt good to paint again, even if that one pear looks a lot like a piece of fried chicken.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sunday, July 12, 2009


Here are a few tree studies for Vivian Blackburn's tree challenge.

These black oaks are ungainly, with little foliage and often a lot of stringy moss at the top. Not a particularly attractive tree, but I do like watching them sway back and forth wildly on stormy days.

(Watercolor with graphite on smooth Bristol)

There are a lot of these in Oregon...

(Watercolor on Magnani Pescia 100% rag)

I'm not sure what these trees are, but I love the greyish/blue color.

(Watercolor on Magnani Pescia 100% rag)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The best part of summer...

There's a lot that's wonderful about summer, but having garden flowers available for these simple little arrangements is at the top of my list.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Sunday, June 14, 2009

A (very vicarious) trip to France

My daughter is in France for the next five weeks learning about the cuisine of Gascony. She reports six hour lunches, a lot of duck entrees and appetizers, the freshest food she's ever tasted, dinners at 10 p.m., homemade aperitifs, and $6 bottles of excellent wine. She's fallen in love with it all. And I get to enjoy it vicariously via the internet and Skype (a clearer phone connection than I get locally.)

She's staying in this 18th century farmhouse:

Near the town of Nerac:

And enjoying food like this (cured foie gras stuffed duck breast):

Sunday, June 7, 2009


There is something deeply satisfying about creating a journal. It's full of potential, almost a book...

I made this journal, with Japanese stab binding, in a class which ended yesterday. I didn't select my most beautiful paper for the first book, because I figured I would screw it up, but I'm pleased with the way the handmade Japanese paper looks.

On the inside, I used three different papers: a soft Italian printmaking paper called Magnani; Niggedden (Roz Stendahl's favorite paper) and 90 lb. Arches watercolor paper.

I've taken two book making classes in the past few months. In the first class I learned to make simple pamphlet and folding books, which I found equally satisfying.

A few hours very well spent...

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Oil Studies

Here are a few of the studies I painted in my beginning oil painting class which ended last week. There are more, but they're not completely dry yet. I really like painting on gessoed mat board. It eliminates the pressure to produce something "worthwhile" that I experience when using a canvas.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

My new favorite flower...

This is all that's left of a large, beautiful bouquet of peonies which gave me great pleasure every time I passed them this weekend.


This morning the green fists of the peonies are getting ready to break my heart
As the sun rises,
as the sun strokes them with his old, buttery fingers

and they open -
pools of lace,
white and pink -
and all day the black ants climb over them,

boring their deep and mysterious holes
into the curls,
craving the sweet sap,
taking it away

to their dark, underground cities -
and all day
under the shifty wind,
as in a dance to the great wedding,

the flowers bend their bright bodies,
and tip their fragrance to the air,
and rise,
their red stems holding

all that dampness and recklessness
gladly and lightly,
and there it is again -
beauty the brave, the exemplary,

blazing open.
Do you love this world?
Do you cherish your humble and silky life?
Do you adore the green grass, with its terror beneath?

Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden,
and softly,
and exclaiming of their dearness,
fill your arms with the white and pink flowers,

with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling,
their eagerness
to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are
nothing, forever?

- Mary Oliver

Monday, May 18, 2009


The focus in my oil painting glass has been on painting transparent and reflective objects. This is my favorite (of several attempts).

Monday, May 11, 2009

Immersed in poetry...

I received four new poetry books for my birthday last week from my son and daughter-in-law. As I was browsing through them last night, I was reminded of this poem my friend Anne forwarded to me last month:

How to Read a Poem: Beginner’s Manual
by Pamela Spiro Wagner

First, forget everything you have learned,
that poetry is difficult,
that it cannot be appreciated by the likes of you,
with your high school equivalency diploma,
your steel-tipped boots,
or your white-collar misunderstandings.

Do not assume meanings hidden from you:
the best poems mean what they say and say it.

To read poetry requires only courage
enough to leap from the edge
and trust.

Treat a poem like dirt,
humus rich and heavy from the garden.
Later it will become the fat tomatoes
and golden squash piled high upon your kitchen table.

Poetry demands surrender,
language saying what is true,
doing holy things to the ordinary.

Read just one poem a day.
Someday a book of poems may open in your hands
like a daffodil offering its cup
to the sun.

When you can name five poets
without including Bob Dylan,
when you exceed your quota
and don’t even notice,
close this manual.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Eggplant #1

My first attempt at painting an eggplant with oil paints. More to come....

Thursday, April 23, 2009

More yellow...

My oil painting teacher encourages students to copy paintings by old masters as a way of learning about color and technique. When I encountered Claude Monet’s painting “Branch from a lemon tree,” I decided to give it a try since it provided more practice using the color yellow. Monet’s painting had a vertical orientation, but my copy seems to look "better" displayed horizontally, (Sorry, Claude.) I was unable to scan the canvas; the photo does not accurately depict the colors.

I’m really enjoying my class, although I’m a bit bored with painting red, blue and green boxes and cylinders. Yesterday my teacher suggested I move into the next class level now, rather than continue with the current beginning class. I'm thinking about it, although it's kind of nice to feel competent in a class. But it would be more challenging (and interesting) to be with experienced painters.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Oil Painting 101

A few years ago I took an oil painting class at the local community college. The woman who taught the class was a watercolor painter who was assigned the oil painting class a few weeks before the term began. She was a very nice person, but didn’t really know what she was doing. I loved the lusciousness of oil paints, but found the class frustrating and didn’t learn much. Recently I decided to try again. I’ll be driving to Eugene once a week for the next two months for an oil painting class at the local art center. The first class was last week and I’m pleased with the teacher. She obviously knows a lot and has an encouraging and helpful manner in interactions with students.

For the next few classes we will focus on painting still lifes with objects of only one primary color. Last week we painted yellow objects, using a limited palette of alizarin crimson, cad yellow light, French ultramarine, and white.

Next week we will add cad red light to our palette when we paint red objects. By the end of the class our palette will consist of six primary colors - warm/cool versions of each.

This is my painting of a yellow flowerpot and crayon. In the oil painting world I think it’s considered important to cover the canvas completely. But I was still in partial watercolor mode and felt compelled to leave a bit of white canvas showing. I can see that leaving some white doesn't really enhance an oil painting the way it does a watercolor.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

At the bottom of the bin...

I cleaned out my refrigerator today in preparation for company this weekend and discovered these somewhat mushy items at the bottom of the vegetable bin. A quick little painting before they go out for the deer...

I want a flat file...

Paper is everywhere around my house. It gets rolled up, hung up, laid in the corner of rooms, cut up and placed in portfolios. I'm sure it would be happier carefully laid in a flat file - dry, safe, and unwrinkled as it awaits its final expression.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Poetry and rain

On this rainy Oregon day I baked a loaf of lemon bread, thought about painting, organized stuff, drank a lot of coffee, and revisited Raymond Carver.

April is National Poetry month.


I looked into the room a moment ago,
and this is what I saw –
my chair in its place by the window,
the book turned facedown on the table.
and on the sill, the cigarette
left burning in its ashtray.
Malingerer! My uncle yelled at me
so long ago. He was right.
I’ve set aside time today,
same as every day,
for doing nothing at all.

From All of Us: Collected Poems
by Raymond Carver

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Could it be any more symmetrical?

Monday, March 9, 2009

Chicken and dumplings...

When I was a little girl, my favorite dinner was my mother's chicken and dumplings. I tried preparing it once when my children were young, but the dumplings had the texture of glue. When I was leafing through my cookbooks this week, I noticed a recipe for chicken and dumplings and decided to try again. It was delicious! The perfect dinner on a day when the the sky is spitting snow, hail and rain, and the temperatures are in the 20s.

I use this cookbook a lot. It's from the people who publish Cooks Illustrated magazine and the recipes are dependably good.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The buzzards have returned

My husband mentioned this week that the buzzards have returned. Huh? I guess I didn't realize they left in the winter. So I was thinking about buzzards while reading the dismal news in the local paper. Then I read another article about how some of the people deeply involved in the sub-prime mortgage mess are now making a killing buying up the bad assets they helped create, at bargain prices of course. That's the inspiration for this collage. I wasn't sure how to put a suit on a buzzard, but you get the idea...

Yesterday I noticed an increase in my husband's paycheck, the first installment on Obama's $850 a year tax cut for the middle class. Had we received an $850 check from the government, it would have gone directly into savings. Since the goal of the stimulus bill is to get people to spend money, it's probably more effective to spread the tax cut out over 12 months. I know I'm much more likely to spend an extra $60 a month without really noticing. With a 16.5% unemployment rate in the county where I live, I probably should just pass it on to the local food bank.

But all is not doom and gloom. I do have a more positive harbinger of spring than the return of the buzzards. When I stepped outside yesterday evening, I heard the frogs croaking, a sound I always find quite joyful.

Monday, March 2, 2009


These carrots were laying on the table in front of me, but they look like I painted them looking down at them. I think I'm missing the part of the brain that interprets perspective. I'm stumped. Why don't these look like they are coming towards me? I'm sure it's probably obvious to everyone else...

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Darker values

I've had such a difficult time with watercolors recently that I decided to try oil painting again. I took an oil painting class five years ago, but then got busy with other things and never did much with it. I'd like to try again.

These mandarins are my first attempt. The color is too intense and the range of values doesn't include darks, as the gray scale version below clearly illustrates. After reading Laura's suggestion on Jana's blog about darker values through the use of glazes, I decided this painting might benefit from that technique. But I'm not sure what colors to use for the glazes and would welcome suggestions. I choose not to use a blue/orange complimentary mix to contour the mandarins because I didn't like the greenish brown color which resulted, (see under leaf on right mandarin) and adding darker red colors looked too garish.

Any suggestions regarding how to improve this painting would be greatly appreciated.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Blue Pitcher

Watercolor on Winsor & Newton 140 CP paper

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Queen of Hearts

In our family my granddaughter Georgia, who turns four this weekend, is the Queen of Hearts. I'm not sure she really needs a symbol of her power and authority, but just in case, my husband made her this wooden scepter.

Happy Valentine's Day!