The Mystery & Magic Surrounding You


Clandestine. Surreptitious. Hush-hush. Cloak-and-dagger. Mysterious. Secret. The words…and the feeling connected with them… encircled me when looking through the Gecko Galz Pretty Portraits collage sheets.  There she was. Right in the middle of the sheet…the beautiful woman in a turban.

Who could she be? I imagined a magician’s “lovely assistant”. I adore the art of magic. The oddities are so wondrous they draw you into a web of mystery. Sleight of hand to palatial stage shows, I am totally intrigued. And to me, the world of magic and mystery is summed up in one name: Houdini. Harry created his own reality which he shared with his audiences. He was a seeker, always looking for the next illusion, the next sensational escape.

The central image of my digital work is from the Gecko Galz Pretty Portraits collage sheet. The starry background is from their Moonbeams 2 sheet. The image of the Moon is from my collection.

Working on the image allowed me to realise that we are all part of the magic that surrounds us. As artists we seek, and we create a world filled with wonders. All we need is our lovely assistant called Creativity.

the Dark Horse Unfettered / oil

color theory experiment #2

color theory experiment #2

If you’d like to see the process of layering oildarkhorse glazes paint in glazes, see the photos below, stripping off the layers all the way back to my underpainting.

This step shows the horse’s head moved higher on his neck than my model. And he’s now underpainted in reddish brown.

I’m calling the foreground grass finished at this point. I had a devil of a time with it.  It was difficult to mix the right color, and one day I put a glaze over the grass of a more yellowish tan and later, wasn’t sure if it looked ok.  So I left it overnight to decide the next morning. When I got up the next day, that color looked sooooo bad on there, I almost went back to bed. hahahahahhaha So I used turp on a paper towel and wiped the offending tan color off before it was too dry, and tried shades of green again, which looked better. That’s one thing I like about painting this way. You have time to make corrections, and you can totally redo a large area.darkhorse, glazes

This photo shows the sky and background vegetation finished.

The foreground grass is still too choppy, but ok in the showing of depth, because I grayed it up a little behind the horse, and didn’t gray the green in the foreground.

I don’t know how much you can see on your computer, but that paint is on there thick.

This is my 2nd layer of glazes on the sky. I painted it on with brushes, then went back in with my palette knife to blend the edges between the colors a little. The palette knife made a texture like icing a cake. I left the texture in it.

Then for the background vegetation, I mixed up a neutral medium gray. a tan with gray, and reddish gray, and painted on blobs of each color. Then came back in with my palette knife and scratched lines through the colors to make a grassy or tree like texture. Some of the violet ground shows through.

I went to green on the foreground  from the reddish brown at this stage. Totally flopping the spectrum on the grass. Hoping that makes the green nice and bright.

darkhorse, glazes

This photo shows one layer of glazes in pink and blue on the sky, and one layer of glazes in reddish brown on the foreground. You can see a stripe of gray behind  the horse.

When I did the glazes on the sky, I painted into the horse’s head with my sky colors. I almost obliterated the whole head. Also I cut into the horse’s body with sky colors. Not a problem. I wiped off some of the paint so I could estimate where his head should be. It took the green off all the way back to the violet tint.

So, at this point, I have a green horse, that I want to finish as reddish. And a reddish brown ground that I want to finish green. Both the horse and the ground are painted in the complimentary colors of the finished colors I wanted.

The violet tint on the canvas shows through a lot at this point. Even when I’m finished, and the paint is thick layers, I still think the violet is influencing the way the colors show up.darkhorse, glazes

This photo shows my horse underpainted in green. After I finished the underpainting, I decided to move the horse’s head up to a more natural position, which means, this is going to get painted over. You can see the violet tint on my canvas. I couldn’t wait to kill the violet, so I went over the sky area with a neutral gray. Some violet is showing through. And it makes the neutral gray look greenish.

I think this color experiment came out better than my 1st try with the horses I called Wild and Free. I’m going to try the violet tinted canvas for one more painting.

Wild and Free / oil

on the open range

on the open range

This is my first color theory experiment.  The post from last week shows my canvas with the violet tint and violet underpainting of the horses. If the color theory works, and I make my horses palominos, they should visually pop off the canvas, because violet and yellow are complimentary colors. I tried mixing yellow ochre tints and shades to get the right color. Then I wiped it off and tried a glaze of cadmium yellow tints and shades. That didn’t look right either. So I went back to the yellow ochre with brown and gray tints and shades. Mixing colors seemed more complicated than usual on the violet.

That’s one good thing about painting” in the couch”. You paint the medium on the dry canvas and paint the color on top of the medium. The medium “couches” the paint. If I mix a color and think it’s ok, then look at it after working on it, and say, oh no, I can just wipe off the bad color without destroying my dry layer underneath, which wasn’t too far off.

About the violet paint under it all, strange painting experience. It takes for ever to dry. The violet lifts when you put the next glazes on top of it. I like the color showing through in the sky and background.

Another thing about this painting that made it seem weird to me was that I primed the canvas first by putting layers of Gesso and sanding in between. I didn’t prime a canvas since leaving YAA. The canvases you buy have one layer of Gesso and there is tooth from the canvas causing drag on the paintbrush. When you prime the canvas, it’s so smooth. I’m used to the drag from the weave of the canvas. When I painted this, the paint peaked like a soft serve ice cream cone. The Alvi’s Maroger Medium holds that peak. I wanted to flatten it with a dry brush, but it still came out with more texture in the paint.

Results from my experiment:

Mixing yellow was difficult for the violet ground.

Priming the canvas makes the paint come off the brush in a different way.

It takes forever to dry, and seems like the glazes went on thick and heavily textured.

There’s more for me to process with this experiment. I need to try it again with different colors on violet.

The Dark Horse Unfettered / charcoal and chalk

I set him free with the magic of art.

I set him free with the magic of art.

It’s funny the things you learn when doing art. Shelby showed my photos of this horse to a friend of hers who knows horses. That lady said this horse is being trained for Dressage. It’s a practice not used much these days because it hurts the horse. The head is seen as most beautiful at a certain angle. It causes the horse to be tense and other skeletal parts get misaligned. So now the standards are for the more natural position on the head. She also said this model is out of proportion.

I’m planning on trying another color theory experiment for my next painting using this horse as a subject.

What Will You Be When You Grow Up?


When was the last time you let your nocturnal imagination drift, allowing it to go anywhere it pleased? As a child, the night and the Moon enchanted me. Looking out of my bedroom window in Brooklyn, the sounds of the day segued into a hushed, almost reverent, atmosphere conducive to thinking, to dreaming.

And times like this I wondered where my life would take me. I knew the path I wanted to follow…but would it happen? My parents encouraged me to always listen to my heart and to find the best in any situation. Their New York values of  tolerance, generosity, and having an open mind always willing to learn, set me on the right course.

The Lunagirl Moonbeam challenge for January is to design using images from her lovely collection of Babies & Children. Although I’m not especially maternal, I drew from the memories of my childhood for the challenge.

The final image is a digital collage. It was easy for me to pick a photo to work with. I loved the way the two girls looked, as if they were sharing a secret. I added images of famous actresses to their skirts and a Verdi libretto to the bodice. What young girl doesn’t want to be an actress when she grows up? I couldn’t resist adding a benevolent face smiling down at the girls from the Moon.

Childhood can be a magical time of wonder. But it doesn’t have to end there. Each day is another chance to capture the effervescence of discovery. What will you be when you grow up?

Horse Sculpture

Can anyone tell me the story of this horse?

Can anyone tell me the story of this horse?


I bought it yesterday at “Through The Garden Gate” antique mall for $15.

Isn’t it a beautiful animal? I wish I knew more about horses because this puzzles me.

When I got home and polished him up, I said, “OH NO! What’s going on here?! Why is he tied up so tight?!”

It looks like cruelty, but see how fat he is? Could he get that fat in the wild? Or is this a style of art that makes fat horses?  Do you think he’s wild and just got captured? And if he is wild, how did they get the reins on him?

I’d like to know, if any of our readers has the info, who made this sculpture? And does the horse have a story?

I’m trying to decide, when I draw him, should I draw him without the reins, or reined in.

Cracker and Barrel / charcoal and chalk

Got it on the 2nd try.

Got it on the 2nd try.

Drawing horses is a challenge for me. I have to use the 1st piece of paper to get them blocked in the right proportions. Then I transfer that to another paper and try to make corrections on the weak places. For me drawing is constantly correcting. I draw a line. I look at it and it’s not in the right place. So I have to draw another line and erase the 1st line. In the 1st stage, I block in areas and look at my areas and think, that’s not right. so I trim down by erasing, Then move it up or down on the paper and fill in and then erase more.

That’s one reason vine charcoal is the best medium to draw with. It kind of floats on top of the paper, if you can imagine it like that. You can push vine charcoal around so easily with a kneeded eraser.  Then on my 2nd try, when I’ve corrected it  to the point where nothing about it bothers me anymore, I go back in and add darker shadows with my charcoal pencil, which is slightly harder charcoal than the vine charcoal. And last, add highlights with white chalk.

If I work on my drawing for a few hours, that’s enough. I lose my concentration and don’t need to finish the drawing in one day. I look at it later and decide what needs to be worked on next to make it better. It’s not unusual for me to take days on my drawing, because the stronger the drawing is, the stronger the painting will be.craker and barrel underpainting

This is my underpainting. Only a beginning.

I tinted the canvas violet. Normally, I tint my canvases dark gray, but since I’m not looking at nature in plein air, because the weather is too cold or too dreary lately, I decided to use violet as an experiment. I’d like to make my horses Palominos, but my model horses are plastic with a bronze patina, so I’m not sure about mixing colors for this. This is a good opportunity to fool around with color theory.  No need to try to match natural colors, because I’m not outside in natural light. So if the violet shows through, lets see how it affects the painting. And if the violet under my other colors does make a difference, it might make my horses pop off more when I go over them a couple times with shades of gold. since yellow and violet are opposites on the color wheel.

I have one layer of glazes on the sky showing here. I’ll go over it again.

This is the 1st canvas I’ve taken the time to prime with Gesso and sand before painting. I saw another artist priming his canvas, and it reminded me, I should be doing that. This classical “style”, if you want to call it Realism, or whatever, (I’m not really up on all the art isms) goes with a slick finished look. When it’s finished you should varnish it if you want to be true to “style”. It seems to me, there’s way too much emphasis placed on “style” by those in the Ivory Tower, but whatthehell, If I’m going to paint in an unpopular” style”, I might as well go the whole 9 yards and prime my canvases.

And WOW! is this slick! hahahahah Our dear departed teacher at York academy of Art, Ted Fitzkee would love it! I  need very little  turp. The paint slides like my car on ice. You should try it! It’s fun! When I get into the glazing with my Alvi’s Maroger Medium, I’ll be like freaking Rembrandt! Stay tuned.

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