Happy Holidays

My family and friends tend to make requests for art. I have learned to barter with them. If they shell out for a workshop or class, they'll get a painting, but they must wait until I exhibit it at least once. It's a pretty good system. They get a lot of added value for their expenditure and I get a lot of new experience.

This piece is for my mother, who gave it up for the framing costs of other pieces. Sincere thanks to stephie20at WetCanvas for the image.

Wet Boots
Soft pastel on white Pastelboard


Long Shadows

As I drove home from an event this summer, I took the long way home. Have camera, will detour. This day, I wound up seeking vistas of the Potomac from the Prince William County section of Virginia. The drive reminded me of how rural Virginia is, even a few dozen miles from DC.

This painting is from a picture that day. It's a park named Patawomeck, which was hosting little athletes and large family reunions.

I sought to paint big shapes in the vein of that style of landscape artists. Of course, I got in some extra details, but I primarily stayed true to my initial goal.

Oil on canvas


Evening Flame

This painting is from a series of pictures I took near Nokesville, VA after I'd wrapped up painting in Aden. It was one of the most beautiful sunsets I'd ever seen. In part due to its elaborate, stepped golden frame, this painting looks both classical and abstract in approaches. Lines are blurred. The fact that I do not like hard lines or boundaries is especially evident in this piece.

Oil on canvas


Small Works at the Workhouse

Check out the Small Works Exhibit until December 24. Artists were offered the opportunity to submit five pieces each for the show, each smaller than 8x10 and available for $200 or less.

Talk about cute! They look great hanging on the walls of the gallery, just as they would on your own walls.

Poppies in the Rough

Soft pastel on prepared surface


For the Season

To help with a fundraiser for both Springfield Art Guild and Homeward Trails Animal Rescue, I have been painting Nutcrackers for raffling beginning tomorrow at Springfield Mall. They began at Yard Art, but given the personalities involved they quickly evolved into Fine Yard Art.

I helped on Dolly and did Desert Nutcracker on my own. Please come by and support these fine organizations.


An Honored Day

I was the only person at the recent Workhouse ceremony who was a member of both cherished organizations involved: National Society Daughters of the American Revolution and Workhouse Arts Center. They came together in a marking to celebrate the suffragettes who were imprisoned on the grounds ninety years ago. A plaque now marks their history, which closely preceeded American women's right to vote, and is located on the buildings where the women were kept in solitary confinement for a period, a building that will house a museum dedicated to their bravery and fortitude.

It was a grand occassion attended by both a Congressman and the Secretary of the Commonwealth.


I can't wait for the Collector's Showcase!

There are still some tickets left, so join us for an evening of art, food, and jazz!

See a slideshow of the donated paintings and photography here.

Attend the event and you'll go home with one of these. Guaranteed.


Workhouse Small Works Exhibit

The WorkhouseAnnual Small Works exhibit will include all Guild, Associate, and Studio artists combined in W-16. We will offer up to five works each with a framed size of 8x10" or less and a value well above the cost. Fine art will number in the hundreds!

Black Friday has special hours and deals, but the exhibit runs through December 24 for you last minute shoppers.

Consider attending this exhibit and simultaneously buying your ticket for the Collector's Showcase on December 12:
1 couple
1 evening out
1 lottery
1 fantastic work of art

Get ready for the holidays. Give fine art.


Skyline Backbone

I volunteered recently as a studio sitter at Workhouse artist Eileen Olson's place in #505 and took the opportunity to work on an oil. The chunky nature of deep gallery wraps interests me and I'd only done one in the past. They're so much fun, I see more in my future.

This piece used a reference photo I'd taken along Skyline Drive not far from the Blueridge Parkway. Given the chance, I pull off the winding road at every opportunity to take a plethora of photographs. And I'm so happy when I pull one out to paint.

Skyline Backbone
oil on deep gallery wrap, painted sides


Workhouse Collector's Showcase & Designer's Showcase

Hear! Hear! The Workhouse makes art for a steal legal!

My contribution is the 12x16 oil entitled, Tanner's Ridge at Big Meadow. With a value of $525, it's quite a bargain as part of this fundraiser. I'll see you there!



This is about the funnest award I could receive. Just the other evening evening in a talk to elementary-aged PTA Reflections winners and their families, I enjoyed what Bronia Ichel, fellow Workhouse Artist and retired school art teacher, had to say about creativity. She stressed for the children to keep their creative spark alive, but also emphasized that having a creative spark exercised at all will make them a better auto mechanic, engineer, or doctor, if they choose not to pursue art directly. As you will see, being creative and applying it is a hallmark of my life, even during the years of biochemistry lab work.

I received this Kreativ Blogger Award from Janice Warriner, who creates beautiful soft, impressionistic oils. Thank you.

First, I must tell seven things about myself (non-art, but I fudged) and then I will select seven creative bloggers to honor.

1)  I have lived in Virginia for 21 years; of them, 12 have been in Northern Virginia. I love it here.

2) I have four cats. They are stair-stepped in age, oldest is four and youngest is five months, although I didn't rescue them in that order. They are each black and/or tuxie.

3) I first learned to sew the month I turned five. I made a sleeping bag for my Barbie and I still have it.

4) I learned to crochet and knit when I was six. Crocheting stuck, knitting did not, although I have tried many times since. When I was little, I used to follow complicated patterns and make shawls for my great grandmother.

5) I loved coloring books and rarely drew. My son loathes coloring books and draws all the time.

6) My first pastels were a large set of Yarka and I purchased them as my marriage was ending, me optimistically hoping they'd help me with income as a new divorcee as I transitioned away from watercolor. Several years after outgrowing them and adding other varieties, plus a bunch of training, I am very happy with the choice.

7) I am so passionate about art that, in addition to talking about it all the time, I dream about it, too. All aspects. Often, it keeps me awake, so I don't even have the chance to dream. I am an art geek, but I guess that part is no secret.

Now for the seven bloggers whose sites I would like to select for the Creative Blogger Award. After you have received your award, do the same. You will need to copy the above award and put it on your blog. Tell seven non-art related things about yourself and then choose seven bloggers to give the award to.

 1) Ariel Freeman is a fellow Workhouse Artist and has a studio at Libertytown in Fredericksburg, VA, where she teaches. She works in both pastel and watercolor, often with a boldness that defies her quiet personality. However, I know her innards defy her outtards, as any trauma RN in the ER must have the boldness that Ariel depicts in her work! Now if only I could get her painting en plein air. She is a member of MPS.

2) Lesly Finn paints in pastels and oils in New Zealand. I have read her blog for many years; her work is quite varied. She maintains an art blog list at artblogs4u and I enjoy the hits I get from it.

3) I've read another blogger for years as well. Steven Givler is an Air Force Officer who does watercolors of his assignments across the globe, often including deserts and combat environments, but often changing with his lifestyle. I was an Army Officer's Wife for many years, exposed to more structure and rules than not, but his (laid back Air Force) sensitivity as an artist and a person is shown in his paintings as well as his adopted cats in Saudi.

4) Another relatively local artist, Jennifer Young, is a fellow member of MAPAPA. She does oils en plein air, both around the world and right at home in Richmond VA. We are going to span the distance and hook up one day to paint, so help me! (Jennifer, come to the MAPAPA Annual Meeting at the end of January!)

5) A pal of Ariel's, Elizabeth W. Seaver, also works at Liberytown in Fredericksburg and is an appreciated reader. A printmaker and painter, her pieces are festive and uplifting. And yummy.

6) With several incarnations and side blogs, I have read Sarah Wimperis' muddyredshoes for years. Her treatment of light is incredible and I wish I showed her drive in keeping up her sketch book. Funny, fellow MAPAPA member, Jane Ramsey, featured a link to muddyredshoes on her Facebook wall. I couldn't type, "Me, too!" fast enough.

7) Seeking out a new blog just for this purpose, here's Mike Beeman, an accomplished pastelist who is a daily painter. Check out his blog, too, for his great blog roll in the sidebar. And now he's in my sidebar.

Other Examples
Daily Campello Art News - Lenny Campello is even more of an art geek than I am.
Artist Point of View - Barbara Nuss is the consumate artist and teacher featured in my Red Awning post.
Pastel Pointers - Beyond popular!

René PleinAir - I first saw his work on Wetcanvas and marveled at how many shades of gray he could work into a cold Dutch landscape.
Postsecret - It'll make you laugh and cry, probably at the same time.

If I subscribe to your blog, consider yourself awarded, please. I only read the best! Or if you have a blog to suggest, please do.


Shiny! New!

Check out the new widget, below, from LinkWithin.

I absolutely love it uncovering these paintings and demos again! I hope it's good blog clutter...



As I prepare for the Workhouse's Small Works Show beginning at Thanksgiving and concluding at year's end, I am finishing up some of my own small works to display. One is Bountiful, a soft pastel I created from a photograph I took at Three Foxes Vineyard at Delaplane, VA. What drew me to the scene is how the rows of the laden vineyard intersect, coming from up on the hill down to the plain.

This piece was painted on tan Art Spectrum paper. It was taped down to a board and wet a la Stan Sperlak. After I laid in a hard pastel base, I soaked it with water. It did bubble up with the moisture, because it wasn't heavy Pastelboard, but it laid down nicely again. Although there is pastel on the paper at this stage, it seems integrated with the tooth using this method, making the sanded paper seem even rougher.

soft pastel on Art Spectrum


Pastel Underpainting

With the recent change of leaves, our weekly plein air tutorial with Carol Iglesias sought out the landscape artist's forgotten shade: red! However, there's a twist.

Carol typically sketches her composition on acrylic, creates a thumbnail and notan, and then carefully transfers her work to her paper, typically Wallis.

Carol divides her small Heilman Box into a hard side and a soft side. She doesn't want to use too much of her softs doing underpaintings.

Because Carol often has architectural elements in her work, the drawing process is specific and exacting. Her next step is to fill in large shapes as relating to her value drawing. This day at Occoquan Regional Park, she went with a complimentary scheme, choosing colors on the opposite end of the color wheel. Beautiful red trees had a typical green underpainting and green grasses were pink in the distance and red up close.

To liquify the hard pastel, she uses alcohol, be it isopropyl or even gin.

Notice that Carol keeps some areas of pastel thicker and some thinner to maintain the feel she wants for the piece.

I'll be sure to post when she finishes this one up. Carol usually starts her pieces in the field and finishes them in her studio.


Mark Isaacs Oil and Acrylic Demo

Yesterday, I attended the general meeting of the Fairfax Art League, a well established and well funded local art organization with two locations that are staffed for sales in the City of Fairfax. The Artist of the Month was Mark A. Isaacs, a self-described Impressionistic painter, who I'd describe more as a Fauvist. Mark likes color. Mark is color. He's an entertaining guy who defies what I would expect from his architectural background.

The three large paintings he brought to demo (actually dabble!) on were of Three Foxes Vineyard in Delaplane, Virginia, one of my favorite vineyards to paint in the area.

He often begins en plein air and finishes up later, sometimes returning to the same site over a period of time. Sometimes he works from pictures or even puts together panoramas as references.

Sometimes he begins with a pastel study done on site.

He likes to establish the flow and puts in sublte contour lines to guide his future painting. He doesn't do thumbnail sketches, instead composing intuitively in his head.

When doing oils, he prefers Griffin alkyds along with a fast-drying Gamblin white. He doesn't use OSM. Instead, he uses canola oil to clean brushes and poppy seed oil to dilute color. He prefers portrait grade, i.e. smooth, canvas and linen.

Many of his acrylics were Golden. He uses both acrylics and oils in the field, slow drying acrylics and fast drying oils. He enjoys going for contrasts in warm/cool or complimentary colors, plus values. Mark enjoys layering warm and cool colors for added affect. "It might look like a swale, " Mark observes of the foreground, "but it's just someplace I wanted to put blue."

So as to not take his painting too seriously or commercially, he considers any current painting to merely be the underpainting basis for another painting. He quipped about a recent sale, "I think they bought the one underneath!"


Local Color

I will readily admit to a few passions, aka obsessions: painting outside, buying art supplies, and watching movies. When they collide, it is pure bliss.

Local Color is a coming of age story, one of my favorite genres. Based on real life circumstances and his autobiography of the same name, George Gallo comes of age as both a young man and as a painter, a plein air painter, even. He learns that hard work is, by definition, not easy and how sometimes that process and life in general can made one jaded, as in the case of his reluctant teacher played by Armin Muehller Stahl, a painter himself who came out of acting retirement for the role.

Although I waited for the movie to open locally at an independent theater, I resorted to Netflix instead. It's an affirming movie about the various struggles of a young creative sort and I recommend it highly.



I'm at the library, the hideaway for people whose computers have been stamped FAIL. I hope to be back here soon.


Happy Halloween

In honor of perhaps the silliest day of the year, I present the ultimate in decoration...

The Bob Ross Tattoo

This piece was created by Shane O'Neill of Wilmington, DE; he definitely has mad portrait skillz.

And he turned that boring piece of flesh into a happy, little limb.


Andrew McDermott

I first learned of Andrew McDermott in a 2003 Pastel Journal article. He stuck in my head.

Several years later, I sought out one of his rainy, urban pastels to do in colored pencils. He inspired me to do more rainy and night scenes of my own.

Okay, to my point...check out the progression on the opening page of his website. It's something like stop motion photography on his street scene painting from an early stage to finishing. It's quite a learning experience. And very cool.


Still Life in Oil by Trisha Adams

Lucky in demos once again, I was able to catch Leesburg artist Trisha Adams in action at the Ayr Hill Gallery in Vienna, VA recently.

Trisha has only been painting seven years, but she has received much acclaim since moving from graphic to fine art. She credits it in part to her daily commitment to paint. Her painting daily is like someone painting weekly for 20 years, or the like. She also readily admits they are not all successes. I like how she takes risks.

For the demo, she set up a still life with freesia (silk, but looked absolutely real), apples, Oriental pot, and vase. The cloth was golden and the gallery wall was purple.

She said she prefers smoother canvases, but not one brand over another. She chose a pale yellow ground because it was what she had on hand. Same goes for the square format.

Midway through, she added in a blue cotton towel. Just because. She was talking about folds and creases.

She is definitely a spontaneous and whimsical painter.

I asked her at the end of the two hour demo how far along she thought she might be and she replied 65%. I hope to watch her website to see the finished painting.


KAAA Show and Sale on Saturday

I had a lot of fun at the Kingstowne Area Artists Show and Sale. A bit partial I guess, but I think my paintings really shown on this rainy day. The continued positive feedback I received was priceless, as was the helpful brawn in hauling in so many pieces and easels.

Seeing art in person is leaps and bounds better than any photographed art! It makes a huge difference to the viewer and their level of appreciation. I also enjoyed hearing that my variety of frames was pleasing and they all wind up going well together, too. I understand from others that I have an eye for frames and I would definitely agree.

You might notice my jewelry pieces to the left, above. I love to wear silver and beads are just so addicting. I primarily created earrings with a few bracelets, all with glass, crystal, stones, and/or silver.

My next foray into showing my art will be on Wednesday, October 28 with several other Workhouse artists at the opening of the new Marriott Residence Inn at 641 Backlick Road in Springfield, VA from 11:30 to 1:30. I will also bring materials to demo, but I'm still deciding just what that will be.
Hope to see you there!