Thursday, October 28, 2010

Using Photoshop to compose a painting

I am at the nail biting stage of this painting. It is almost finished so I am scared of ruining it. Because of the clean background on this one (it took a couple of weeks and six or eight coats of paint to get the smooth gradient) I can't paint over any mistakes. So Photoshop comes in handy for trying new ideas. I want to add more branches to the tree.

Maybe some more branches on the top.

Or some branches on the sides.

The animal is a mountain beaver which is native to Washington State. It is about cat sized and has a stubby furry tail, not a beaver tail. I'll post more about it later but for now I have to choose how to position the branches and then get to the studio. Each twig takes such a long time to paint.

This painting is four feet wide. I love all the empty space.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


This is a portrait of my friend's dog Luna. I feel very clever to have paired her with Lunaria seed pods, which grow as weeds in my garden. There is also a day time moon.

I copied the sky from this 1670 painting by Jacob van Ruisdael.

My daughter pointed out to me recently that many of my favorite painters are dutch. I love the Seventeenth Century landscapes with their flat friendly land and huge skies. There is Van Gogh of course. And Willem de Kooning. Fabulous. And recently I have been enjoying some local shows by Dutch painter Chris Berens, who paints two of my favorite things - clouds and white animals. He has a show here in Seattle at Roq la Rue of his more colorful recent work. You can see it here.

"Luna" is oil on canvas and measures about two feet across.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Watcher

This painting is six inches square and is oil on birch panel.

Don't forget that you can see this and many of my new paintings at Cafe Fiore in Queen Anne until the end of October. They are for sale! This one is $190.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Friends We Make

Usually I paint images of solitude. I spend a lot of time alone and often the presence of others can feel invasive. There are other times, though, when I need company.

This painting is about my desire for connection and the subjectivity of relationships. I love this poem by Billy Collins.

Le Chien

I remember late one night in Paris
speaking at length to a dog in English
about the future of American culture

No wonder she kept cocking her head
as I went on about "summer movies"
and the intolerable poetry of my compatriots.

I was standing and she was sitting
on a dim street in front of a butcher shop,
and come to think of it, she could have been waiting

for the early morning return of the lambs
and the bleeding sides of beef
to their hooks in the window.

For my part, I had mixed my drinks,
trading in the tulip of wine
for the sharp nettles of whiskey.

Why else would I be wasting my time
and hers trying to explain "corn dog,"
"white walls," and "the March of Dimes"?

She showed such patience for a dog
without breeding while I went on-
in a whisper now after shouts from a window-

about "helmet laws" and "tag sale"
wishing I only had my camera
so I could carry a picture of her home with me.

On the loopy way back to my hotel-
after some long and formal goodbyes-
I kept thinking how I would have loved

to hang her picture over the mantel
where my maternal grandmother
now looks down from her height as always,

silently complaining about the choice of frame.
Then, before dinner each evening
I could stand before the image of that very dog,

a glass of wine in hand,
submitting all of my troubles and petitions
to the court of her dark-brown, adoring eyes.

I could throw a lot of words at this painting. Validation (which always makes me think of parking). Stimulation. Shelter. Witnessed. There is also something beautiful in the shiny purple seed heads of this giant lily. Maybe that is enough, for now.

This painting is oil on clayboard and measures 18"x48".