Still Life with Pascal’s Pensees by Henri Matisse

It's in the VMFA flower exhibit.

It’s in the VMFA flower exhibit.

Photography isn’t allowed in the show. I lifted this off
This show is a great inspiration! They have Van Gogh, Manet, Matisse and a lot of other artists.

I got a sketch of a Manet painting, Vase of White Lilacs and Roses, which is one of my favorites. The museum limits you to graphite pencils only in the galleries with the paintings. They have a room with colored pencils and paper and a giant arrangement of flowers in the center for people to do their own drawing, but if you want to copy a masterpiece it’s graphite only! hahahahahha. Oh well, They’re scared, or so they say. As if a pencil might fly out of your hand and hit one of the paintings, only a graphite pencil won’t hurt it but a pastel pencil would? I don’t get it. You can get special permission to bring in pencils other than graphite but they make you jump through hoops for a permission paper, which is a little off putting for artists. I guess other artists don’t care because they don’t want to draw in the museum. But maybe if the museum would relax a little, artists would feel more comfortable drawing there.

Anyway, you should go see this show because you will want to paint flowers too!

Are You That Woman?

Strong Women

Strong Women Collage – Tag

On March 8th every year we celebrate International Women’s Day. With this event in mind, the March Tag Swap I joined was a celebration of women…in all our glory!

“Make it Happen” is the 2015 theme, encouraging effective action for the advancement and recognition of women in all walks of life. I am delighted to see that purple is the official colour…in commemoration of the Women’s Suffrage Movement for which I have a deep appreciation.

In my life, the strongest women I know are the ones who elevate other women to be the best they can be.  They are the supportive, nurturing souls who are there to catch you when you fall and lift you up to greater heights in celebration of your victories. I am sure you have them in your life as well.

As I started working on the Tag I came across a photo two women seated together. I wondered…could they have been as enamoured of the Suffragettes as I am?

The substrate for the Tag is illustration board. The background is Citra-Solv paper from a magazine article about women. I added the vintage photo, a doily, a blossoming flower, wax infused paper, text clipped from a magazine, and finished off with sponged and stencilled metallic acrylic paint in various colours. It is now on its way to a new home in California.

As artists, we can “make it happen”…not only through our work, but by being that strong woman we adore having in our lives. So, my question is…Are you “that” woman?

The Poe Museum / photo

one of my favorite places to hang around and paint

one of my favorite places to hang around and paint

It’s at 20th and Main in Richmond VA.

They have a call to artists to paint for a show opening in the end of April titled “Poe’s Enchanted Garden”. They’ll have “unhappy hour” on opening night.  It’s great for me because they let me in free to paint! hahaha I wonder why more plein air artists aren’t taking advantage of it.

This is the scene I’m working on. I drew it without the use of a photo. Now, looking at this photo compared to the painting, I can see my perspective is way off. Maybe it’s the camera perspective that’s off. Or even scarier is, maybe neither my perspective or the camera is correct, and true perspective is something else. How’s that for philosophy?

I still need another week to finish the painting because of the weather.

If You Are Still…

Traveling Journal JOURNEY

JOURNEY –  Carpe Diem

I recently join a group of very talented women in a circle round-robin Journal exchange.

Each of us assigned a theme to a Journal and sent it to a person on our list. By the end of the year, our Journal should return to us packed to the brim with the thoughts and art of the women taking part.

The first Journal to arrive to me was from Australia. The theme was “Journey”. It thrilled me to open the box and see all the beautiful papers and art. But where to begin!

Looking through my folders  I spotted the portrait of a young girl holding a seashell to her ear. What could she be hearing? And how often have we all mimicked her during our youth? What a romantic notion…our future whispering to us from the curved surfaces of a shell. Are we listening to the Ocean..or more?

Our Journey, I feel, is best experienced when we are still and mindful of this moment. Working on the Journal allowed me the time to enjoy the stillness, to pluck the ripeness of the day, to be fully aware.

The substrate for the Journal page is heavy white paper. I covered the background with Distress Ink, fluid and metallic acrylics. In addition to the Victorian girl with the seashell, I added maps, wax infused paper, and telephone book paper. Stenciling completed the page. The pocket on the front is the perfect place for the supplied tag I decorated. I continued the collage on the back of the piece as well.

I hope when the Journal box comes home again its owner will be pleased. I loved working on the page knowing that the Journey continues with each and every moment.

Is your stillness surrounding you?  Are you able to hear the gentle whispers of your future?

Make Your Art Roar!

Botanical Life

BOTANICAL LIFE – Digital Collage

Cold, ice, snow. Are you, like me, so tired of hearing these words in the weather forecasts?

When the Fruits and Flowers Lunagirl Moonbeam Challenge was announced I was more than ready to begin! And who could resist the beautiful images Lunagirl provided as inspiration?

The woman is one from in a CD collection I’ve owned for some time. I always loved her nonchalant  pose and lovely Spring inspired attire. With Daylight Savings Time on the horizon, and looking out of my studio window at the falling snow, I wanted the collage to have a warm and sunny ambiance. My heart and soul needed it! In addition to the Lunagirl Botanical images, I added backgrounds and ephemera from my collection.

The long-standing  idiom about March coming in like a lion certainly is true this year. Most of the East coast of the United States is weather weary…and dreaming of warmer, sunlit days.

As artists, we are fortunate that we can create our own little place in the sun through our work. And like March, we can come in with a roar…if we want to. How do you make your Art roar?

Orange Gerbera in Purple Pot / underpainting and finished oil painting

underpainting in grisaille

underpainting in grisaille

One way to get depth into an oil painting is to do the underpainting in grisaille. (gray) I wanted this one to POP! because I’m getting tired of the dreary weather, so I did my underpainting this way. My orange color would look brighter on a cool gray underpainting and my purple would look cooler on a warm gray underpainting. Grisaille is used in different ways to get different results, but it adds to a 3D effect.


I shopped all over town when the weather stayed bad for weeks. I wanted something bright to do a still life and the artificial flowers looked fake to me. I thought they’d look fake in my painting too, so I was excited when I found this bright flower at Stranges’ in Short Pump! I thought it looked good in the purple pot. It picked up my mood when I brought it home and worked on this painting on those long dreary days.

paintings by Esther Mahlangy, artist from South Africa

New at the VMFA!

New at the VMFA!


This might make the Winter Blues go away! When I walked into the room and saw these big bright paintings, I said WOW! The plaque isn’t up yet so I don’t know the titles or any info, except a guard told me the artist is from South Africa. The designs reminded me of Native American art.

The lettering on the paintings is “Esther Mahlangy 2014″

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