Monday, September 14, 2015

All Creatures Great and Small

I have been spending time in Jordan these past few years teaching art and craft design to farm women near the Dead Sea for UNESCO. I love the landscape of rocks and sand that can seem empty - until I take a closer look.

I haven't titled this yet but I was thinking about the wonder I feel when looking at the world from a different angle. The small child is vulnerable and alone but safe on the back of the mule...the desert is empty but full of life... I have seen all the small creatures and plants while by myself in the desert in Jordan.

This painting is about solitude I guess. But we are never isolated from our connection with nature if we take the time to look down at the ground that supports us. Am I saying that some of my best friends are bugs? (-:
This is oil on canvas and measures 30x24 inches.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Poppies and Peonies

This commission was a dream - peonies and poppies in shades of salmon pink. Everything is so pretty - I couldn't go wrong. But the challenge was to bring interest, texture and strength of shapes. I also kept the brush work spontaneous for a light hearted and expressive feeling. For variety I used both silver (aluminum) leaf and gold composite leaf and the canvas is a lightweight wrinkled cotton that adds texture too. This painting is four feet across. Thanks Katherine for asking for this fun painting.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Olive Dreams of Paris

Some wonderful clients supported my desire to paint an unstretched canvas that hangs in folds like a curtain. This emphasizes the silver leaf in a more fun way that a flat surface. The request was for a painting of cherry blossom and the Eiffel Tower so I created an environment that looks like my client's dog, Olive, is dreaming of walking the streets of Paris in spring. This curtain will hang in a young girl's bedroom and she visited the studio several times to help me paint the piece. 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Vegetable Garden with Tomatoes, Brussels Sprouts and Fennel

I usually photograph my pieces outside on a cloudy day. Huckleberry watched. 

I showed this painting at the Ballard Farmer's Market on a cold winter day in 2013. It had a gold leaf background - and was part of a series of organic farms and food. It was a celebration of the weird and wonderfulness of the Brussels Sprout plant. I remember thinking that the white stems looked like rib bones. 

I haven't shown my work in public much lately as I have been taking commissions for large pieces instead. So this painting sat in my studio for a couple of years - looking kind of serious. Eventually I decided to lighten it up by layering silver leaf over the gold.

And then a fennel plant appeared. 

The fennel is based on a series of paintings I made in the farm fields of the Snoqualmie Valley. This photos was taken at Full Circle Farm, near Carnation.

And these are from a different painting that I later painted over. 

And then I added some tomatoes.

And here it is. 

That's a basil plant at the bottom. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Nancy's Magpies

This painting practically painted itself. The inspired choice of magpies and daisies requested by my client for her new residence worked very well with the 'silver' leaf. 


I love Chrysanthemum leaves, though it is foolish to set myself up in comparison with the incomparable William Morris. 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Carol's Summer Produce

This commission was so much fun. Carol gave me a list of summer produce and then let me experiment with my painting techniques. The result is a rich 'silver' and color filled garden that brings summer inside - even in February. 

The 'silver', which is aluminum leaf, reflects light differently depending on the angle of the viewer and the angle of the light. You can compare the painting above and below to see this lively effect. 

This is the original sketch for the client. This is about as detailed as I ever get with sketches - and often I don't use them at all.

Herbs arranged along the bottom of the painting are, from left to right, thyme, rosemary, basil, sage and chives.

I began by drawing in charcoal and pencil. Then I used a watercolor technique for color - nice and loose and fun.

Then I applied glue and leaf. And thicker paint. I used sand paper and more charcoal and more paint and loved building up the layers that show the 'history' of the piece. Carol was supportive as I pushed this visible process further than my previous work.

I like working on commissioned pieces and find client's feedback helpful. Sometimes the opinions of my cats, my usual collaborators, are not enough.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Clover Creek: A Bug's Eye View

I was honored to be chosen by the Bethel School District to make a painting for the new school in Frederickson, WA - Clover Creek Elementary. The commission was managed and paid for by the Washington State Arts Commission. After meeting with the State people and the school people we decided to engage the children with an oil on canvas dream-scape representing the native plants and animals of nearby Clover Creek. I contacted local experts to put together a list of flora and fauna that are truly native to that very specific place. From the list I then chose things that would be fun to paint and fun for the kids to look at. 

I started last spring (see the cherry blossom?) with my pal Barry who helped me devise a way to paint a twelve foot tall canvas in a seven foot tall studio. 

First I had to prime it in the only space large enough to fit an 8x12 canvas - the street in front of my house.

And we're done.

Next Barry installed his ingenious invention of a two roller system with a breaking mechanism in the studio. 

I started by color washing the canvas with a lovely purple grey and then began to paint a couple of Fringe cup flowers - looking at both photos and the actual flowers which were blooming in my garden at the time. 

Since the painting is a "bug's eye view" I looked at plants from below to get the right perspective. 

I had to look at this little Inside Out Flower with a magnifying glass.

The studio felt pretty small for such a large piece. 

Painting the Salal berries. Who knew they were such sculptures? 

Here are the Salal berries finished and photographed from the top of the canvas as it lay flat on the floor waiting to be stretched. 

I stretched the painting at Clover Creek Elementary School with the expertise of conservator Peter Malarkey. He put the stretcher together easily and then stretched the canvas onto it by lying underneath. (The expansion bolt stretcher was manufactured by Museum Services in Minnesota.)

Then he checked for wrinkles with a flashlight. 

The painting was installed by Tim Purtill of Atomic Art Services with some very tall ladders and steady nerves. 

 My heart was pounding during the installation. I look a little freaked out.

Thank you to Mike Sweney of the Washington State Arts Commission for his patience guiding me through all the paperwork. 

The plants and animals of Clover Creek: A Bug's Eye View are -

Vancouveria hexandra
 inside-out flower
Lonicera involucrata

Gaultheria shallon
Maianthemum dilatatum 

false lily-of–the-valley

Rubus spectabilis


Maianthemum stellatum

starry false solomon’s seal
Tellima grandiflora

Fringe cup 

Horse Tail

Lipstick Cladonia

Dicentra formosa

Pacific Bleeding heart
Rhytidiadelphus triquetrus

Cladonia chlorophaea

Pixie Cup Lichen
Misumena vatia

Goldenrod Crab Spider

Monadenia fidelis
Pacific Sideband Snail

Pseudacris regilla

Pacific Tree Frog

Papilio rutulus
Swallowtail Butterfly