Monday, January 9, 2017

An Illustrated Guide to Where I've Been For the Last Two Years

It's been over two years since I've posted here, and at least a year since I sent out my newsletter! I thought I'd write a little update for those who may wonder what the heck happened to me! 

In short, Aurelia Rose happened to me. She’s almost a year and a half old now, giving me lots of kisses, running around all over the place, and stealing all my stuff. Especially loves to steal pencils and paintbrushes if I get any ideas about making art in her presence. 

She still doesn't like to sleep without me for more than about 20 minutes at a time, so I haven't been painting much aside from a few large commissions I've chipped away at. (Including two identical 4'x4' paintings of this ostrich named Oscar):

I’ve missed painting, but to be honest, I needed the break anyway to get some perspective and decide where I want to go next with my art. I ultimately decided to give myself permission to do something completely different and wander outside the realm of "Fine Art", even if it meant starting from square one. It doesn't mean I won't ever wander back again, but for now I'm just going to do what gets me excited and makes me want to stay up late painting. Lately, it's been illustrations like this: 


I have lots of ideas of things I want to do over the next couple of years, but it may take me awhile to get to them, so I'm going to share that when I have something to show for myself. 

The next big change: my little family is moving from Los Angeles to Portland, Oregon in March to start a new adventure! My husband and I visited a few years ago and fell in love with the area, and I think it will be a great place to raise Aurelia and enjoy the city and gorgeous landscape.

So that's that, for now! 

Before we go, I will be doing an Everything Must Go online auction of my painting inventory, starting at incredibly low prices. (Think car dealership, so low we can't even mention it on the radio prices!) To make it even better, 25% of the proceeds will be donated to the non-profit Drug Free World. Auction goes live FEBRUARY 5th. I'll be posting all the paintings up as soon as I can get them all photographed. For now, save the date!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Plein air painting in Silverlake: Behind the scenes

Last week I found myself painting at the Silverlake reservoir in Los Angeles. I thought it would be fun to take some pictures as I went along and give a little insight into how I went about my painting. 

By no means do I have a standard way of approaching every painting, and especially with plein air I am still figuring things out as I go most of the time. I actually broke away from some of the things I usually do when painting this, so probably the next demo I post here will be a little better!

The Silverlake hills are beautiful but a little overwhelming for a 2 hour painting. I zeroed in to find a composition I liked and settled on the spot below. I was kind of far away and looking through this lovely chain-link fence, so I had to find a basic pattern that was appealing and not worry about the details.

I liked this palm tree at the top and the fact that this spot had a light pattern coming down from that tree, curving down the hill. You can see it a little better in this picture. 

If you compare it to the picture of the finished painting here, you can see that I moved things around and simplified things to suit the composition I wanted. However, I kept this basic light/dark pattern in mind until the finish, and it helped me to stay on track with the basic idea that I started out with.

I'll say now that I almost always paint a neutral wash on the surface to get rid of the white background before I start. And I probably should've done that on this one too. But I decided to jump right in and start. I drew a curved line to remind me of the flow I wanted to keep in this painting, and started placing the darks where I wanted.

I sloped the top of the hill on more of an angle as I didn't like it so flat.

I built this slowly, jotting down notes of darker color to slowly get the placement of my shapes in as well as figuring out what I wanted to do with the color. I made the colors more blue and grayed down as they receded, in order to create a sense of space, and got warmer greens in the front. I tried to keep the paint fairly thin and save the thicker paint for building up the light areas.

Below you can see it developed a little further as I put in the light shapes and figured out a bit more where I wanted to put things. I barely did any detail at this point--for one thing it was very hard for me to see from where I was! So I decided to take it home and finish it in my studio. At this stage, there was not much down, but it was very helpful to start this way instead of doing the whole thing from a picture.

I always take pictures right before I start the painting, and continue taking them as light changes until I'm ready to finish up. I'm really glad I did in this case, because look how much the reflections had changed over the hour or so I had been painting! 

Continuing in the studio:

Now I began building the details, while trying to continue simplifying what I saw and not getting too picky about the details. One thing I really didn't like from the start is how the composition is cut off with the bank of the reservoir.  So I kind of downplayed that area and you can see I ended up just keeping that loose and darkened it up on the sides.

Ta-da! The finished painting!

Reflections - 9"x12" - oil on paper (Arches Oil Paper!)

Hopefully this was interesting and useful in some way! Come back soon. :) 

This painting is available for sale through Art Cricket LA 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Sunset painting: Part Two

A few nights after my first sunset painting extravaganza, my husband and I were about to go out to dinner. He waited out in the living room while I went to the bedroom to get my shoes. Suddenly he hears my squeal: "Wow, look at the sunset! Hold on, sweetie! I just have to take a quick picture of the sunset, and paint it, and then I'll be ready to go." Poor guy.

Once again, it was so liberating to not worry about making a great--or even good--painting, but just getting down as much as I could for a fast study.

After a bunch of these twilight/sunset paintings, I'm a lot better at painting from memory when I need to recreate this light. Here is another twilight painting that I started on site and finished at home, mostly from memory. The actual painting is a little more mellow and less contrasty than you see here.

"Fleeting Light" - oil on board - 8"x10"

Here's the best photograph I was able to get of that sky right when I started the painting. When you compare the two you can really get an idea of the color and subtlety that you lose with the camera.

Here's how much the light had changed by the time I finished my study--somewhere around 10 or 15 minutes. Don't you love that purple light?

Here's a close up so you can see how little painting I actually got down on-site. But it was enough to get down the main elements of color in the sky (which you can't really see here) and jog my memory when I got back to it.  Once dry, I painted right over the existing study.

And here's one more I did for fun, just from my noggin. :)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Painting sunsets: Part One

For awhile when I was driving around and would see an amazing sunset, I would get angry that I couldn't pull over on the freeway that second and paint it. It really kills the natural enjoyment of a sunset, let me tell you!

Well, a months ago I was in my studio working on a painting, and the sun started going down. I saw how pretty the sky was and felt sad that I wasn't outside painting, and I finally decided to do something about it! I don't have the greatest view from my living room window, but enough was enough! I whipped my easel around to face the window and grabbed the first little canvas I could get my hands on, and I painted furiously for about fifteen minutes. When the light changed too much, I grabbed another canvas and had another 15 or so minutes before all the light was gone. Somewhere in there I yelled for my hubby to grab my camera and take a few pictures for me. 

Here's the second painting I did. 

After it dried the next day, I painted over it, using a photo to remind me what it looked like. 

I mostly worked from memory, but the photos were helpful as a reminder. I've since painted several sunset/twilight paintings and I can't get enough. I really feel it's something that can't quite be captured on camera but can be translated so beautifully with paint.

I have to remind myself all the time that painting is all about editing and distilling, not just copying what you see. I don't necessarily get inspiration from this scene with all the distracting details, but there is a lot of good information to grab and use for your own composition.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Anatomy for artists -- écorché with Rey Bustos

An écorché is a painting or sculpture of a human figure with the skin removed to show the musculature.

I had the privilege of taking an écorché class with Rey Bustos last Summer at the Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art (LAAFA).

Over 10 weeks, we built a 16" tall man in Sculpey clay, getting hands on, 3-dimentional knowledge of the human figure. It was a very challenging class for me, but definitely worth it. You can see Rey's website at He's a great teacher--so passionate about what he does, and generous with his time. I hope I'll have the opportunity to do another workshop with him sometime soon.

Week one -- starting with the armature

Starting to come together, lots of blood, sweat and tears later.

Clay has been baked and painted, now starting to lay the muscles on.

Finished ecorche -- front view
Finished ecorche -- side view
Finished ecorche -- back view

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Plein Air in Malibu, El Matador State Beach

"Cormorants Watching the Sunset" - 8"x10" - Oil on linen

I started this little painting at the end of a relaxing day at El Matador beach in Malibu. The sun had just started to set, cuing my favorite time of the day to paint.

At this time of day, I usually spend between 10-20 minutes roughing in the general tones and colors, and finish it with pictures and memory in the studio. I always love the challenge of painting fast and getting an accurate representation of the light, while it changes constantly. You have to learn to stick with your choices, because within a few minutes things will look very different.

FUN FACT: Minutes before the commencement of this painting, Logan bumped into Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, which is one of his favorite bands. Logan is the second person in his family to meet Flea by random circumstance. So, in addition to the good luck this painting will bring to it's collector, it will also make the lucky individual pretty much famous by association.

More cormorants, hanging out. 

Monday, September 30, 2013

Plein Air Painting in Zion

It seems that I have a little theme going of having a great time on my painting trips, despite ridiculous things happening. Well, to be accurate... it is less "things happening" and more "me causing." This time, it was going to Zion, UT, home of the most beautiful red rocks, and forgetting the color red. I don't even know how. Don't think about it too much.

I enjoyed a hearty chuckle about that one and was about to head out on our first painting hike with 7 kinds of brown and almost-reds, when I discovered I also left an important part of my easel at home. I was not quite as good-humored about that one, let me tell you!

So anyway, that's why in the pictures you'll see me painting out of a little cigar box, which I brought as an afterthought,

and painting laughably small canvases on a laughably big French Easel:

(Thank you for letting me borrow your easel, Melissa! I may whine a lot, but you saved my butt, big time!)

So after that fun little surprise, I proceeded to have 4 amazing days of non-stop hiking and painting with my dear friend, who is good at every single thing in the world and made much better paintings than me, even though she hasn't painted in 5 years or something.

It rained on us every day, which in some ways made the trip even better. It kept us cool and made all the colors deep and beautiful. It also helped us greatly in the body odor department, since there were no showers at the campsite.

Stinkiness aside, I was so happy on the last day when that blue sky came out and gave me some shadows to paint!

 "After the Storm" - 6"x6" - oil on linen

"Sun on Their Backs" - 5"x7" - oil on panel

Deer munching on sunflowers by the campsite.

Trying to paint in the car on a particularly rainy day. Still need some practice with this one! Need shorter brush handles or shorter arms.

One thing about the wilderness, is that it has bugs. This gigantic bug with gigantic antennae flew onto my easel and reminded me why I like living in the city. (Melissa, who is good at everything as previously mentioned, was not afraid of the bug.)

Big hat: check. I'm really turning into that dorkiest of plein air painters. And it feels good. Kind of.

I will try and post the rest of my Zion paintings once I get to the finishing touches. I leave you with a couple more pictures which I hope will inspire you to make the trip to this incredible national park! It is probably the most beautiful place I've ever been.