Have You Found Your Universe?


What warms your heart on a blustery wet weekend?

The weather here in the Eastern part of the US certainly is reminding us that a seasonal change has taken place. The leaves are slowly adding vivid hues of gold and orange to their pallet. The constant rain of the last several days has added a bone chilling dampness that is difficult to shake off.

This feeling of restlessness and foreboding was just what I needed for our next Lunagirl Moonbeam Challenge: Gothic. The selection of images available are bewitching…dark, moody, and brooding. It was hard to choose, but I decided on a lovely woman wrapped in a cloak clutching letters close to her heart.

Instantly I was transported back to “The Dark Arches” of Granary Wharf in Leeds, England when eclectic shops and restaurants were part of the underground life in the tunnels beneath the Leeds railway station. In a small shop window I saw a wonderful black hooded cloak…with a story even more fantastic. A man had it made to order for his wife as a surprise gift. The lining was a deep violet satin embossed with roses, her favourite flower. Near the hem of the lining was hand embroidery intertwining their initials caressing a single rose. The cloak closed with an antique rose silver clasp and a single silver rose bead graced the tassel. The ardent gent was going to bring his wife down to the Arches later than evening and casually stroll past the window, knowing her heart would do back flips when she saw it. His plan was to get her to try it on and then say…”It’s yours!”. She was his universe.

I often wonder about the couple and their life after the cloak. Seeing the Lunagirl image made all the romance of their story warm my heart.

The collage used several Lunagirl images: the woman, the background, and the letter I added to the papers in her hands. The remaining images are from my conventional and digital collection.

What does warm your heart? Is it a letter, a gift, a kind word, or knowing that you are the Universe in someone’s life?

Bridge With Waterfall / oil

bridge with waterfall

I started working on this painting a few weeks ago. I think I have about 30 hours in it but I didn’t keep track of time. I can concentrate for 2 or 3 hours a day, so I just have to keep going back. It’s a slow process, but it has it’s advantages working like this.

1st and most important is, I have a good excuse to go there every day and hang around in the beauty. It’s good for your health.

The other thing that I like about this way of painting by building up layers of glazes is that I can make corrections easily for different painting problems. If I get home and look at it and think, it’s not good, I have 2 choices.  I can use a little turp on a paper towel and wipe it right off without destroying my layers underneath, because when you paint in the couch with Maroger Medium it dries enough overnight that it is only tacky the next day. The medium makes the paint slide so nicely on the canvas. Painting in the couch is when you 1st paint a layer of medium over your dry glaze from the day before. Then, paint into the layer of plain medium with your color. You can go thick or thin.

The other way to fix a mistake is to wait till it dries a little and paint on top with the color you want. That’s the great thing about oil paint. It’s very forgiving. So why not take advantage of the nature of the medium? This is how they taught us to paint at York Academy of Art. I remember they told us NOT to even try to paint wet in wet, as they called it back then. Now they call it “ala prima”.  So I guess I’ll stick to my academic classical training.

Painting water is always a challenge. I never know exactly how to do it, so I just give it a try and if I don’t like it, I’ll try again and go over it again and again. This time I only painted the water once. First I had to paint the rock wall and then I went back the next day and thinned down white and light gray to paint my skinny lines of water. When you paint in the couch with Maroger Medium, it’s easy to paint detail because the paint flows better than painting on a dry canvas, or painting on top of wet paint. The medium is the exact right texture to paint on. I hope you can see what I’m saying.

The Mummy’s Missing Penis / charcoal

This is a subject of concern for many of our readers.

This is a subject of concern for many of our readers.

I need a bigger sketchbook.

People are asking for more info about the mummy’s missing penis, and I don’t know. I’m not going back to the Museum of Natural History in Washington DC.  And I’m not looking it up either.

Can someone tell me if that mutilated horror is still there frightening ladies, children and our foreign visitors?

This is what I heard. There’s a penis museum in Iceland. And the mummy’s penis might be there. I hope they get it back on the dead guy because I feel sorry for him. And maybe they can find his missing fingers too.

What do you think of this sketch for a large scale postmodern minimalist painting? I could do it 4′ x 8′. I bet the jurors would love it! Because that’s the kind of crap that wins the prize money. Then I’d have to think up a statement that sounds intellectual but is really meaningless. Did you ever notice with postmodern art, the pomposity of the art statement is inversely proportional to the quality of the work?

Japanese Garden at Maymont / oil

I took this painting to a critique .....

I took this painting to a critique …..

I like that gallery in Mechanicsville, the Windemere. They have a nice place out there. The critique thing, I wasn’t so sure about, but I thought if I want to show my art there I should give it a try. And it was better than I anticipated.

When Shelby and I were young chicks in art school at York Academy of Art, we had to endure some harsh critiques from teachers that didn’t care if they hurt the student’s feelings. Fortunately for that experience, it’s impossible for an art critic to hurt my feelings.  But you learn so much from a real critique, and I think modern art students never hear it from their teachers these days. I still think no one outside of the academy can critique beyond, “I like it.” or “I don’t like it.”  OK. Everyone’s a critic including me.

What I was glad to learn today is that piece of architecture I painted in the foreground is a Japanese Lantern! I always imagined they were duck houses! hahahah I know if I was a duck, I’d move in to it.

Also, I got an idea of how to paint another duck house so it might come out a little better next time. ( I mean lantern )

Do You Believe In Mermaids?

Le Chanson de la Mer

Le Chanson de la Mer

Did you ever stand at the edge of the ocean silently hoping to hear the call of Mermaids?

With Summer officially ending for us in the U.S. this weekend, I thought it was the perfect time for the latest Lunagirl Moonbeams challenge: mermaids. All of the images in the Lunagirl catalogue are beautiful, but I finally decided to use the wistful maiden who appeared deep in thought.

I have always loved the elusive quality that surrounds Mermaids. Like a moon beam slipping across crystal, there is something beautiful and intangible about them. To me they are the all-knowing creatures sensitive to the Moon and the ebb and flow of the tides. In my heart Mermaids dive to the part of my soul waiting to be unrestrained…to be free to explore and discover all that life, and Art, has to offer. They are my guides, my Muse, and I happily follow.

The digital collage incorporates the Lunagirl mermaid as the focal point. Images, purchased and from my collection, are layered to complete the background.

Do you believe in Mermaids? Or are “Mermaids” just the echo of the distant part of our souls, yet to be discovered?

June by Violet Oakley / oil, charcoal, graphite on board

This was the cover of

This was the cover of “Everybody’s Magazine” in 1902.

It’s at The Chrysler Museum in Norfolk VA. They have a really great show of American Impressionists. It’s worth the drive from Richmond!  The show is titled “The Artist’s Garden”.

One thing I love about the Chrysler Museum besides the great art exhibits is that it’s FREE! Free parking! Free entry to the art! YEA!!

The show is a real inspiration! Now I want to paint like an Impressionist! But not a contemporary Impressionist, because these old dead artists beat out the live ones!  It’s too much writing for me to go into all the painting technique I observed in this show, but I think I can do it! I’ll post more pix from the show soon.

Today was a good day to go to Norfolk. The show ends Sept. 4. If you’re interested, you should probably go this week, because traffic will be worse next week. (end of Summer and Labor Day traffic jams coming to your tunnel soon!)

I’m giving you this one 1st because I want Shelby to see it. She’s a fan of Violet Oakley.

What Do You Censor…Even To Yourself?


“What We Censor, What We Don’t” – Collage

With numerous magazine spread out before me, I searched the pages fruitlessly for the sentiment expressed in the words of Edgar Allan Poe: “There is no exquisite beauty… without some strangeness in the proportion.”

I have searched through quite a few vintage magazines lately. Seventy-seven years have yellowed the pages, but the ads have a message that today still ring out loud and clear. As women so much of our worth is tied to our appearance. The ads confirm this, marketing one product or another to make us thinner, younger, beautiful, and ultimately happier. And over seven decades, nothing has changed.

While I have no qualms with anyone trying to look their best, where does the obsession for unattainable perfection become just that…an obsession…splitting us into fragments of ourselves.

As artists, we are visual beings. Do you find yourself contemplating these ads? Do they influence your work, or your life? Is the search for beauty and perfection tempered with self censorship?

The substrate for the collage is a stretched canvas. It is covered in metallic gold acrylic paint. I built the collage from a fashion photo from the 1950’s, vintage magazine ads, excerpts from a 1938 diary, and handmade paper.

What do you censor…even to yourself?

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