Friday, December 27, 2013

...the beginning

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18"x24" oil on stretched canvas
Mmmmmmmmmmmm.......I haven't had my oils out for awhile and absolutely Love the smell of fresh paint.

This is the beginning of a commission I'm doing for a man that loves the outdoors.  He gave me a photo he took of geese flying over a patch of water and grass plain.  The ground area is almost black and is darker here then I've painted it. 
First step was to lay in a red wash over the entire canvas. After drying...I've mixed blues, white,  naples yellow, and violet in the sky.  Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber, and black in the ground. 
Now it's time to let the paint set up a bit, then add the geese that are flying and blades of grass that are in the foreground.  I don't know....I may not wait :D  I love painting wet on wet and Alla Prima.  
Sigh.....I just looked at the clock and realize, there's a reason I'm s-l-o-w-i-n-g down.  Creativity really has no timeline.  My body is telling me something else.  It's used to a regular schedule of going to bed by 10pm. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Eyes done in Pastel

~ Soft Pastel on Belgium Mist Wallis Paper ~

I thought I'd share something I'm currently working on.  The top picture shows where I've started to pay attention to the eyes on this portrait. 

The bottom picture  shows the finished touches of this part of the painting.  I tend to do the eyes early on in a portrait painting.  For me......If I can't get the eyes right, then the rest of the picture doesn't fall into place as it should.  

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Mom's Christmas bulbs

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6 individual paintings on stretched canvas measuring 2 3/4" square.
I haven't painted with acrylics for quite some time.  I found this to be a bit of challenge after painting with oils.  The challenge is.....they set up fast and dry on the palette in no time at all.  I'm used to working where I can put brush or pastel stick down and go do laundry, start get the idea I hope.
My mom decided to "gift" me with some of her old glass bulbs when I had my first Christmas tree in 1974.  Yep, it's been awhile and they are still around.  I say a prayer of gratitude when I hang these on my tree every year.  I love the memories and traditions we shared so long ago.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

November 16th Pastel Class

This was the first class held in the newly renovated "Stone House" in Bentonsport, IA.  There's still some work being done to the building but we had Fantastic lighting to work from and everyone seemed to have a good time.

Paintings were created by doing a watercolor underpainting and layered pastels over it. I look forward to hosting more pastel workshops at this location.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Something I've been working on......

12"x9" Soft Pastel

I thought it would be nice to share  what I've been working on lately.  Commissions....Yea :D  They support my need for visually creating  & love for buying art supplies. ( When I think "shopping" it's not for's brushes, paint, pastels, oh my!   .....oh....can't forget Chocolate :D)

  This is #3 out of 3 in a series of pastel portraits I've been creating for a couple that live in the Central part of Iowa. 

There are still a few small tweaks (strokes - blending) that need to be done to this work before I call it finished.  Overall, I'm pleased with the likeness. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Something on the side.....

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There's a gentleman I used to work with in the Stained Glass Industry that is an antiques collector.  He is also known as the "Bottle man" expert at vintage bottles and has written a couple of books about them. 
So, I was approached to do some "touch up" work on a favorite tin platter of his.  This was not meant to be a complete redo....just fill in where obvious scratches are and where the color had completely rubbed off.
I'm real pleased in how this turned out.  Even when the platter is tilted sideways (where the light reflects off the surface) it's hard to see touch up work.  Hmmmmmm maybe this will turn out to be a new sideline business for me? 
Yes.....I'm very pleased....and I think he will be too.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

2013 Iowa Nouveau Poster for Tassel Ridge Winery - the Progression

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Finished Pastel is 24"x18"  
Property of Tassel Ridge Winery and posters this size will be available this fall when they introduce this years Iowa Nouveau wine. 

For more information about Tassel Ridge and the release of their wines, go to:

I loved this project and have to give a BIG THANK YOU to my model Chris. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Last page of book illustration

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Image size: 8.25" x 16.75"- Soft Pastel on MiTentes Canson paper.

Well....I feel happy with the end result of this, the first book illustration I've ever done.  What a challenge!  The story is Wonderful!  The title is "Why We Run" -written by Libby Samples of Danville, IA.
Each page has a large area for the storyline and an image of a stream filled with muddy water.  I'll post contact information for purchase when the book becomes available.  The 16 panels (32 pages of the book) will be picked up by the author today.
Now....clean up time before I start the next project.  

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Sneak Pick at What's on the Easel

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I've been doing my best to finish up the book illustration I've been commissioned to do.  I thought I'd give everyone a look at what the easel designated for pastel works (home studio) looks like while working on this project.
I have two separate areas at home that have easels set up.  Where I work with pastels is a room that I can close the door from the rest of the keep our cat "Obie" out of mischief.

He doesn't seem to mess with the easel I paint with oils on.  It's located in a general area of our home.  I can easily cover the paints there so he doesn't track through them.  Pastel sticks are a whole different issue.  I could see him take one and RUN!!!!!!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

VFS Demo

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Here's the demo I did at the June 15th Villages Folk School workshop.  Yes....another PEAR !  What can I say......I think this shape and fruit is becoming my favorite subject for a "one item still life".
I wish I had written down the symbolism of the Pear a friend sent me.  Something to do with representing friendship, abundance, etc.  All positive connections.  I'll look for the message and make sure I post it here.
Meantime.....if you're interested about more information on  workshops through the folk school, go to:   for all kinds of fun and inspiring things to do.

Monday, June 17, 2013

At the Rose Garden

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8"x10" Soft Pastel on board
Had the chance to paint again in the rose garden in Bentonsport on Sunday morning.  Walking around with fellow artist Carroll Michalek, we found inspiration everywhere we turned.  So, don't be surprised to see more plein air paintings created from the rose garden.

Monday, June 3, 2013

"Single & Blue"

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7"x5"  Soft Pastel on board  SOLD BLUE!  Cool as Ice!  Well.....I'm having fun with this oh so familiar subject matter. 
Saturday evening (June 1st) was the artist's reception at the Burns Gallery & Tea Emporium in Bonaparte, IA.  Seeing ones work in a gallery setting puts a whole different perspective on the art created.  This little jewel sold the night of the show opening.
Carroll Michalek   and Carlene Dingman Atwater  are the two other artists in this trio show titled "All Together".  The exhibit and sale of small works is open to the public during the galleries business hours 12:00noon - 6pm on Mon., Thurs., Fri., Sat.  1:30pm-6pm on Tues., and closed on Sun., Weds.  Show ends June 30th.
Burns Gallery & Tea Emporium is a wonderful small business that offers specialty teas, whimsical gifts, a state-of-the-art showroom for national and local artists, and custom framing.

Monday, May 27, 2013

3 of a Kind

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7.5"x10"  Soft Pastel on board
"You said What?"  That was my first thought when setting these guys in place.  One is eavesdropping on the other two's conversation.
For these small pastels, I've been using the AS Colourfix primer on archival foamboard.  I like seeing the texture of the brush strokes showing up through the pastels applied on the surface.  

Sunday, May 26, 2013

A Lovely Single Pear!

Click on image to enlarge
7"x5"  Soft Pastel on board
I'm back to painting pears (did my 30 Days/30 Paintings challenge in January using this subject).  This time using Soft Pastels....(did the challenge all as 6x6 Oils.)
I am joining fellow artists Carlene Dingman Atwater and Carroll Michalek in showing small works we've done so far this year.  All will be on display/for sale the month of June at the Burns Gallery & Tea Emporium, Bonaparte, IA.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Experimenting with palette knife painting...

It was an interesting experiment having students try something out of there "comfort zone" in class last night.  The LAST picture above shows the use of a limited palette.....nothing of what the color of the actual pear set up was showing this student.  She had to focus on the "values" she saw before her and match her color scheme accordingly.

The other student for the evening (at TOP) easily became agitated  working with so much paint on her canvas....pushing things around with a knife.  Her style of painting is conservative, thin layers of color applied by brush to canvas. 

Keeping the "simple-single still life" set up allowed us to finish a work in a very short time.

Next week we're talking about how color "temperature" affects our mood in creating, along with the viewers reaction to a finished work.  The subject focus will be the Landscape!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Working on Wine Still life

I have a small oil painting class that is held on a regular basis  Thursday evenings.  We have fun creating at the studio in the Courtyard Gallery & Studio, located on the business square of Bloomfield, IA.

Above shows us finishing up a wine still life set up.  These ladies improve and gain confidence with each painting they create.  It's exciting for me to witness their growth.

Thanks so much Jeane Dixon for the use of your studio.  The lighting is Wonderful and there is plenty of space for several people to create...Create...CREATE! 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

My Ash Tray Sculpture

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Here is my solution to having an open ash tray at our entrance door.  My husband had painted an old metal coffee can black, put sand in it, and places his finished cigarettes there.  It's been sitting at our back door for awhile now. 
All visitors to our home that smoke go outside and hopefully, place there cigarette butts here.
Here is my solution to seeing and smelling the "ash tray" every time someone walks in/out of the door (which is to the left of the sculpture).  I found all items to build this at our local (Ottumwa) Menards store. 
My husband drilled two holes in the "bottom" of this metal bird bath.  We flipped it, placed this yard art wind mill  through one hole. The other is for throwing butts into can that is hidden inside the clay pot that is sitting on top of the clay cylinder.
I attached magnets under the outside edge of the "lid" which keeps it from sliding on the pot.  We had strong winds this morning with the Thunderstorm that just passed thru.  The lid remained in place.  I checked while the storm was going on and the windmill part of the sculpture was a blur from spinning so fast.   Most the time it gently rocks or goes full circle.  

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Pastel Demos at SE Conference Workshops

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Both images 9.5"x7" on board
Here are the finished soft pastel demonstrations I did for high school students on Tuesday for the SE Iowa Art Conference held in Mt. Pleasant, IA.
I've actually downloaded these images backwards.....the pear was done during the morning session and the apple was the demo for the afternoon group.
After showing the students how I approach a simple still life, they picked objects to create paintings of their own.  In the 2 1/2 hour workshop time span, all students finished their works and took them home with mat, ready to frame. 
I really enjoyed the day sharing creative energy with like minded people.  Even the teachers that stopped to see how the students were doing seemed caught up in the positive vibes of the room.  I hope I'll be asked to do this again.  It was a lot of fun!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Colourfix Primer Experiments

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"Sunshine through the Window" 9.5"x 7"  soft pastel on primed canvas
So, here's the painting from working at my home computer monitor .  I'm experimenting with Art Spectrum Colourfix Primer and this picture was created on Master Touch primed canvas. 
One coat of the colourfix primer applied.....and there's enough "tooth" that I easily layered colors here.  When done, turned over the work and tapped the back to knock off any loose pigment.  Very little came off.  Yes, I'm very pleased!  I think the only time I'll ever have to use fixative spray will be when creating on Mi Tentes Canson paper. 
So the next surface I've applied this primer to is 140 lb. watercolor paper. 
~ Click image to enlarge ~
"Bowl of Freshness"  7"x9.5"  soft pastel
The texture of the cold press watercolor paper dominates here.  You can barely see brush strokes made from applying the colourfix primer.

Now.....on foamboard.......
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"Immortalized"  9.5"x7"  soft pastel on board
Brush strokes applying the primer are very clear on this smooth surface.  I really like the affect.  You can clearly see this in the highlighted area of the bowl.

These were objects at a fellow artists home (Marybeth Heikes, watercolorist )  These were sitting back in a corner of her studio bookshelves...drawing me in to their mystery.  The pottery piece with brushes were almost all hidden in shadow.  It was a
"What's this" moment when looking around for something to paint.  (I believe they were placed there so the Heikes's indoor cats wouldn't mess with the brushes....they have 4 BIG and curious place is sacred.)

Marybeth says the cats try and help her paint almost every time she's at her watercolor table.  If she walks away for a second...they'll be laying on  fresh paint or licking from the water brush container.

Thursday, March 21, 2013


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Just had to share.....I have 2 Wonderful workspaces set up with floor easels in our home.  Usually pastels at one and oils at the other.  So, here I am using one of my table easels I usually reserve for students at workshops.... 
I spent this morning looking through photos I've taken and the short of it....they look better on the computer monitor.  Gotta love the versatility of setting up pastels ANYWHERE....covered the keyboard and here we go.  I have Pandora playing my dance club music and I'm in my zone.
Happy~ Happy~Happy!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Finished commission

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Here is the final work "Mason House Inn" Bentonsport, IA.  24"x36"  Oil
I left the image here on the easel instead of cropping.....otherwise the sides would've looked off.  I shot the picture at a bit of an angle to cut down the glare of the oil paint.  The center of the painting  is lighter then the sides as well.  It's just not my best at taking a picture of a picture.  That's something for me to work on.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

#5 - Mason House Inn

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Here I've darkened the road and started working on the shadow side of the main building. The toned canvas really pops out here.   Yes, there's quite a bit to do yet on the front of the brick ....shutters to add and fine tune the windows.    I have some tweaking to do in the road as well.  I think the foreground is done.  I added strokes here and there that look like blades of grass.
The next image will be the final work.  I'm anxious to see it all pulled together.

Friday, March 8, 2013

#4 Mason House Inn

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I've established the road out front of the Inn and created a grassy area on the other side.  Also added more in the treeline and Caboose area.  Deeper grays and light brown will be added to the road.  It is currently a gravel road, but I imagine back in the day, it was all packed dirt.
I'm saving what I consider the hard part for last....the brick and windows.  I'm not using a ruler to create straight lines...this is all freehand.  To me, it makes for a more interesting piece, not a duplicate of a photograph. 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

#3 of Mason House Inn

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Added some shadows here and there and working more darks in.  I take several breaks from having brush on canvas.  I step back and study the composition/color/value often as I progress on a work.  More tomorrow..........

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

#2 of art commission

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Here I'm progressing in the treeline behind the building. The time of year is Fall and there are so many lush colors in the trees.  I've also added the hotest highlighted area in the work.
Tomorrow #3

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Here's the beginning....

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Oil 24"x36"
This is the beginning of a commission I'm working on.  I started this a month ago.  I thought I'd share each step along the way .  Here's Day #1.  Check back tomorrow for #2.
As you can see here....I usually tone my canvas instead of painting directly on a fresh white surface.  I tend to like using light red too.  Just something about red to me.  It's gotta be somewhere in my work.
Next step is transfering a light drawing from a sheet of paper where I work out details.  Most the time I like to just us oils and place contour lines to start.  When working on a project like this, I need to have a more precise placement of objects in the image.

Friday, February 15, 2013

"On Fire"

Oil -16"x20" canvas in frame

Not as happy with this version of the sunflower.  I painted the frame along with the canvas and had to take a picture of it slanted to keep the "glare" of the wet paint down. 

I LOVE flowers, and I've come to the conclusion, they are the MOST challenging thing for me to paint.  I'm much more confident at doing portraits and landscapes.  It's crazy right?

So stating this, I think this work was a good practice on to other things.

Monday, February 11, 2013

"Southern Light"

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18"x24"  Oil on stretched canvas
These flowers are but a few I have for students to draw and/or paint from.  As I was putting things away after a class, I was mesmerized by the light shining on these two and the sharp shadows to the left of where they were sitting.
I grabbed my camera and started shooting away....hoping it would capture the intense lighting I was witnessing in front of me.  (I didn't have time to break out brush and paints.)  I was happy when I got home and downloaded the images, printed them off and's one composition of the scene I plan to paint several versions of.
The paint was still wet when I took this picture.  I tried my best to not get reflected light bouncing off the canvas.  Where there's a will, there's a way right? Rigbt!   

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Final Canvas titled "Rainbow Mix"

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Here's the final group of 6"x6" squares for the "30 Paintings/ 30 Days Challenge" that was given by artist Leslie Saeta  in January. 
I marked off three 24"x18" canvases into 6"x6" blocks.  Each canvas held 12 squares.  "Rainbow Mix" was created using a full palette of "Warm & Cool" colors.  I also used a wide variety of brushes I own (some I forgot I had) and painted one square totally with a narrow palette knife.
You can see all the squares, along with the finished canvases, together on my website Artwork pages.  ( I didn't start posting the very first works...but there are plenty squares  side-by-side to enjoy the view.)
This challenge was a GREAT way for me to start the new year.  I would recommend doing this exercise anytime if one feels in a creative slump.  Just trying to make the same subject matter interesting over and over...and over .....makes for a challenge in itself.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Square #30

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Here's the last square for the 30 Paintings/30 Days Challenge by artist Leslie Saeta   I used a 1/4" flat brush to apply the oil to canvas.
The color combination her is Permanent Green Light /Thio Violet mix as the dominate color, Thio Violet, & Naples Yellow.   A Triad combination on the color wheel.
As you can see, the green/violet mix creates a blue-green color.  There's a few touches here and there where it's the pure green.  Otherwise, it is mixed into the other two colors.
I have 3 more squares left on my 24"x18" canvas.  So I hope to finish it by tomorrow and will post the entire set titled: "Rainbow Mix".

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Square #29

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I used 3 colors and white in this 6"x6" square.  The dominate color is Thio Violet with Permanent Green light and Cadmium Yellow Light as the other two.  Titanium White was used to mix into the other colors to create a lighter value.  I used a 3/8" Flat brush to apply the paint.
I've been reading "Mastering Color - The essentials of color illustrated with oils" by Vicki McMurry.  She writes about "Mother Colors" on pages 54/55 of the book (dominate color blended in all the other colors used in a piece will harmonize the work.)
She also shares on these pages examples of two color wheel mixes she created and talks about temperature and value of colors. 
Under a beautiful painting example on p.55 titled "Golden Hills", she has this brief insert......"Every color leans toward one of the primary colors. As you begin mixing colors, ask yourself if the mixture leans to the yellow, red or blue part of the color spectrum.  Understanding this concept, developing your observations and applying this knowledge will save you hours of struggling to find the right color.  A majority of the time, the solution to a problem  to adjust either the temperature or the value of color."
I have to admit, there are so many times I pick up a book and what draws me to it is the illustrations inside and seeing the writing is concise, to the point in a few paragraphs - not pages to read.  This book is filled with beautiful painting examples and  the information is precise, to the point.
The book is published through North Light Books

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Square #28 - 30 Paintings/30 Days Challenge

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I'm a day behind....bad girl....yes, I scold myself from time to time.  Yesterday the house demanded attention.  Clothes too :D
Here is #28 where I used a fan brush to smooth out the brush strokes that I applied paint with.  I also wanted this square to be on the "cool" side and used Pthalo blue in the mix.  And, if you're following, you'll see I change positions of the two fruit in almost each square.......the apple still wants to be in front.  Again, I think it's something about being Red.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Square #27 30Paintings/30 Days Challenge

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Oil on canvas....getting so close to the end of this challenge.  This square was painted with a 1/4" bristle brush. 
I liked laying on the paint with this brush, but it was difficult to create sharp edges.  Maybe if the work was larger than 6"x6" I could accomplish having more control with edge work.
Now on to finishing my 24"x18" canvas of squares.  There are 7 left to paint. A valuable lesson I'm learning about my painting's very difficult for me not to go for detail. Simplifying an object by using one stroke of color and it's value is harder for me then dissecting an area with all the reflections and different hues I see or imagine I do.  
I would recommend this challenge to anyone to try at least once.  Who knows? may discover a technique and/or more about composition by doing this.  So many ideas in my head....not enough time................does this sound like most artists you may know?  Maybe yourself? 
Share with me... 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Squares #25 & #26

Square #26

Square Square #25
#26 shown above is Oil on canvas created using a narrow palette knife.  With #25, I used 2 brushes.  First applied paint with small #4 bright brush - then blended with 1" bristle brush.