Horse VS Candy / oil

The horse won this standoff because I ate the candy.

The horse won this standoff because I ate the candy.

This is color theory experiment #3 on a violet ground, and using complimentary colors for my underpainting.

The scary part was the reflections. I had to fake it. I worked on this painting for weeks and had to do the reflections last. So I was nervous I might mess it up at the end after spending all that time on it. I just had to challenge myself and if it didn’t work out, try again.

horse vs candy, glazes

You can see the layers of paint stripped off all the way down to my underpainting in the photos below. And a photo of my actual still life.

This pic shows the candy dish underpainted in complimentary colors. The M&Ms I wanted to be orange are blue here, and the M’s I wanted to finish blue are orange here, etc. You can see the underpainting for the horse in this shot too. I wanted him to be a reddish brown, so I blocked in his shape with greeninsh black. Green and red being vs candy, more glazes

In this photo you can see the underpainting of the checkered tablecloth in green, because I wanted it to be red check. After I painted those diamonds in, I thought they should be on more of an angle. So when it was dry, I drew new lines on top of this with charcoal and painted my red checks on top.

This also shows my Begonia and background finished.

The flower pot is underpainted in a cool gray because I planned on using warm colors in the reflections.

horse vs candy underpainting

Here you see the underpainting of the Begonia in the complimentary colors of the leaves directly on the violet tint. And you can see the underpainted warm gray background, because I wanted the background to be cool gray when it was finished. Even gray has a complimentary gray. If you want your grays to vibrate, or if you want your grays to be pearly, this is the way to do it. Practice mixing warm and cool grays and use them on different background colors.still life set up

A lot of the violet lifted at this stage, even though it was dry to the touch.

It seems like the violet tint makes all the colors lift through the glazes more. I think I can see the violet right through 5 layers of glazes, but I’m not sure if other people see the violet tint in the finished painting.


Here’s a shot of my still life set up in my living room. (good thing I don’t paint from photos, cause this wouldn’t work hahahah)

That’s my cheat sheet tablecloth with the red checks. I wanted to do a red checkered tablecloth under my still life, but the fabric has small checks, and I wanted to make larger checks so it would be easier. Then I could see I needed the cheat sheet tablecloth because the curved pot makes the lines of the reflections curve too. I couldn’t imagine how to draw it without painting a section of it on a scrap board and putting it under the pot.


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.

Mare and Filly / charcoal

mare and fillymare and filly crackerbarrel

The weather is ungood for drawing in plein air outside, so I’ve been planning a still life. I’ve always loved horses and looked for nice models. Finally I found these at Cracker Barrel for $40.

It took me a few hours to get this far, which is fast for me!  I’ll work on it more tomorrow. I drew them life size because it’s easier than drawing small. For my still life I’ll scale them down by making a grid.

This is what they told us at York Academy of Art: It’s ok to make a grid to scale up or down a drawing if it’s your own drawing. Taking the time to try to match the proportions of the horse strengthened it in my mind. There is a file in my head for horses. If I took a photo and traced it for my drawing, that file would not grow. The act of drawing it freehand burns it into your mind with volume and proportion in a way that tracing a photo can’t do. The mind is basically lazy, and if it can save time and effort by relying on a photo it will, but then drawing skill doesn’t improve.

Drawing isn’t something you’re born with. If you are born with some dexterity, you can work with your hands on any number of different types of art. Like playing a musical instrument, drawing takes hours of practice.

So, remember, making a grid from your own sketch – OK

Making a grid from a photo – not OK

Are You Consumed by the Ecstasy of Wandering?


As the year comes rapidly to a close, I look ahead with joyful anticipation. It is comforting to wistfully look back on 2015. But the dream of an unbounded new year stirs my soul and elevates my imagination. Oh the curiosities to be discovered! All I need to do is take that first step!

Rather than making resolutions, I chose a mantra for 2016. It is WANDERLUST.

Wanderlust. Noun. A very strong or irresistible impulse to travel. But doesn’t this definition just scratch the surface of what Wanderlust really means?

I am captivated by the mellifluous flow of the word. Each syllable rolls on to the next in flawless synchronization. Wanderlust. I visualize vast panoramas of exquisite beauty. Wanderlust. I visualize dreaming beneath the open sky with new friends and old, all with fresh tales to share. But above all, I hear the voice of my spirit yearning to experience the ecstasy of wandering…of exploring my inner reality and rediscovering the essence of the story of my soul.

I thank you for traveling with me via this Blog. While wishing you all you wish for yourselves in the New Year, I hope you will take that first step and join me in 2016. Allow yourself to be consumed by the ecstasy of wandering.

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 )

Japanese Garden at Maymont / charcoal

This is my 2nd try sketching the pagoda and pond.

This is my 2nd try sketching the pagoda and pond.

I love the Japanese garden at Maymont and wanted to paint there for a few years. The thing that stopped me is the long hill to climb in and out of there. I guess the exercise won’t hurt me. I’m going to get a workout lugging my gear.

When I was down there drawing today, I met a few other artists drawing. It wasn’t a class, they are friends out casually drawing. One lady told me, “They tell you to draw without erasing.” That sounds funny to me because I erase all the time. They looked like VCU students., so I thought, maybe their teacher doesn’t know how to draw. hahahhahahah Drawing without erasing wasn’t on our list of drawing exercises from York Academy of Art. YAA was a school that pushed the students to try to draw and paint in the classical tradition. They don’t follow that path in art school these days.

Wait a minute. Is that a pagoda or a gazebo?

Chicken Coop, Wheat, Crepe Myrtles / oil

chicken coop wheat crepe myrtlesIt was over a month ago when I went out to Cold Harbor and saw the wheat looked beautiful. I wanted to hurry and paint it before it got mowed.  I thought, this will be easy, then I had to go over it 3 times to get it to come out ok. The texture across the top looks velvety and soft. The 1st time I tried to paint the wheat, it was too spotty. So I tried again. The 2nd time I tried to paint it, The texture looked better but the color was off. Finally on my 3rd try, I liked the color and texture. I was a little concerned about finishing the wheat before it got mowed, but Barbara told me the man mowing the wheat was working his way down Cold Harbor Rd. mowing fields on the other side. She said her field would get mowed last when he came back mowing fields on her side of the road. So, even though I had some difficulty with painting the wheat, I got it in before it was mowed.

Then this painting was on hold for a month because I wanted to put the Crepe Myrtles in but they were late blooming. The Crepe Myrtles started blooming in Richmond about a month ago and these are still opening up.

I’m happy to finally see this painting finished.

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