Search This Blog

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Well, I bought more pottery!

Yep, you guessed it. It was windy again. Can't paint and hold your hat on at the same time. So I bought more pottery and set up my mini shells found on the (mini) beach here in Cancun on hotel row. Added a wine from the mini bar and sat inside this morning. I tried a little tool Terry Ludwig gave us students last year at Kim Lordier's workshop. Terry gave us little pieces of pipe insulation (the closed foam grey stuff you wrap around pipes to prevent them from freezing) for a blending tool. Some of the folks there wanted very much to blend with their fingers, but with the sanded paper required to take the course, they were tearing their fingers up. Terry, by the way, makes his own pastels by hand and sells them. is his website if you are interested. He was there giving us samples!!!! Very nice! I really like them a lot. Anyway, back to the tool. This is more of that Canson paper that doesn't hold much pastel. So, I thought I'd do a painting kinda "charcoal drawing" style. It was fun to try it with a still life. I admire the master pastellists of today that do magnificent life-like porcelain and shiny pots in their still-life paintings. I think I got a little bit of a feel for it using this blending tool. Thanks Terry!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Another Day at the Pool...

My husband came back from his meeting earlier today. I was almost done with this, so decided to quit anyway. It probably could use a little finishing touches...oh well. Blending with fingers is a no-no. I actually did this in the bar area (indoors) this morning. Canson paper doesn't hold very much pastel. I couldn't exactly tap it anywhere or blow I pushed it in with my finger. Then I took it back to my room when I had a build-up of loose pastel that just had to go away. Thanks to the balcony, it just goes away. Now that I look at this painting here, I see the lounge chairs are out of proportion. Heee Hee, must be for little children!!! I did capture the blues and aquas. I might do a "real" painting from this at home. So, this is where we hang out every afternoon!!! Not too shabby. Are you jealous?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Last Resort - A Still Life

At 11am the sun comes out. But this morning was like every morning so far: dark, cloudy, windy...nobody outside...So! I wanted to buy some Mexican pottery anyway, so I bought this little plate at the hotel, and found an apple in our room, put it on a red chair, and there you go, a very simple still life. I don't do still lifes, so, this is good practise for me. We did not sign up for our snorkeling adventures. The ocean seems too rough and stirring things up. That's OK. Just being away from snow and freezing temps is a treat for us.

Monday, February 23, 2009

View from our room in Cancun

We finally made it to Cancun. It was a little questionable there for a while. First, they didn't have enough people checking people in, it was the longest we ever had to wait for that. Then, they had to de-ice the plane, then we barely made our connecting flight in LA, then, we sat in LA because of air traffic control in Cancun was busy, so we had to wait 30 minutes to take off. Then, we were only in the air 15 minutes when something smelled kinda smokey-burned-coffee we turned around and went back, de-planed and waited about 3 hours while they checked the A/C or whatever it was that made that smell. Then we re-boarded and got here. Whew! I don't normally drink much, but 2 margaritas were highly desireable. It was a long day. Yesterday, we baked in the sun by the pool. And we walked all around, checking the place out. We could see how the hurricane several years ago must have erroded the beach away...not much there. And the landscaping hadn't really grown in. So, consequently, there wasn't much to inspire me to paint. Add to that, the breeze. Today was windier than yesterday. Today there were no parasailing folks cruising around in their parachutes. Umbrellas were folded. So, I spent the morning on our balcony which was protected by the breeze, and painted this scene. The color of the water is amazing. Turquoise greenish-blue and where the reef drops off it is dark lapis lazuli color. My pastels I brought don't quite capture the vibrant color of the water, but I tried!

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Yesterday I drove post-snow storm to class. Not a bad drive. Some areas still being cleared and slow, but I only left 10 minutes earlier and still had plenty of time. I finished "Geranium" in class, but added finishing touches this morning at home. I'm very happy with it. I learned more about cast shadows and the patterns they make. Gotta quit before I kill it. I always get jazzed after a class. I wanted to paint when I got home....but my car was a mess from the splatter, so I had to wash it. I want to paint some more today, but I really have to start packing for our trip to Cancun on Saturday. My husband has a course to attend there, but gets off at noon. So I have mornings to paint. I have a mini pastel box (really a craft bead box) and will tape La Carte and Kitty Wallis paper to pages in a sketch book with a layer of glassine paper stuck in for protection against smearing. I'm taking the laptop and my digital camera. If all works well there, I'll post my pictures each day. In the afternoon we have a couple of snorkel excursions. One is to snorkel in a shoreline cave. The picture in the brochure looked like something from Pirates of the Caribbean. Looks like fun.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Upcoming Classes and Workshops

Sorry, I have no picture posts today. I did a preliminary value sketch of a garden scene for my next pastel, but time flew by, I had my Christmas present massage at the Spa, and then we had to pack up the pets (the bunnies and birdies), clean the house up and drive back home to Reno. Funny, it was snowing in Reno when we got there. But not very much. NOTHING like Truckee. So, I thought I'd just get myself all hyped up, talking about my upcoming classes and workshops. In March, Kim Lordier ( is giving a one-day class in Redwood City, California. And the next two days, another pastellist (Terri Ford - is giving a two-day workshop in the same vicinity. I get to stay at my Mom's house nearby and attend the classes with my girlfriend from that area. We grew up on the same street, went to kindergarten all the way up to highschool together. We used to color in our colorbooks together as little girls. And here we are now - in our 50's, and we will be "coloring" together again! Cracks me up. Next, in May, I am going to the IAPS (International Association of Pastel Societies - biannual convention in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I am sooooo excited. I asked my husband why we can't go there for a medical meeting for him....and...per my wish, a flyer came in the mail advertising a CME (Continuing Medical Education) course called Wilderness Medicine - one hour's drive from the art convention. While he is learning about viper, spider, and scorpion bites, I can take an all-day workshop with Lorenzo Chavez , and watch a demonstration by Michael Chesley Johnson !

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Geraniums in a Window Grill

I haven't painted for a couple of days. Sick one day, traveled one day - to Truckee for the long weekend. Our house there is doing fine. We haven't been there in a while. It is snowing all weekend. I brought my materials and worked on this painting with Margot's suggestions in mind. I needed to extend the bench out a little bit so I could add the leg. In order to add on to it, I thought I would try the canned air that she uses to blow away sections of pastel. So I took the can and painting outside on the front porch. Snow was blowing in. The can said to point and shoot away from anything until only air comes out of the can, and not the white powder that is in there. So, with the little red straw stuck in the nozzle, I pointed the can out into the yard and pressed....The air shot out with good force and the straw shot like an arrow 20 feet into a 2 foot snow drift! I guess I won't find it till next May! Anyway, I used it without the straw, and it still worked OK since I didn't have any detail work nearby that would be lost. I added the bench length and leg, and worked on the plant and shadows and pot. Now, I think I'll take it to class next week and ask for help with finishing. Hopefully, this storm will be over by then.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

This bird is not working out so well...

I have worked on this bird off and on, but I haven't shown it lately .... because .... well .... I discovered I didn't pay enough attention to the original drawing.....and...uh...the bird's body is kinda shaped like....a torpedo. Oops. And the composition was pretty stiff looking. But, I get so stubborn and keep working on it, because, well, watercolor is fun and addictive. SO, I am cropping it like this. I think design-wise, it is much more interesting. I think I'll do a little more work on it, and then let this bird fly away....

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Geranium Painting

Snow Day - no class for me! Well, yesterday the weather reports upped their prediction to Winter Storm Warning, and then Winter Storm Advisory...predicting as much as a foot of snow on the pass and gusty winds blowing it around in areas, making visibility dangerous. So, I stayed home, and, wouldn't you know it - it didn't hit as early as they thought. Oh well. Better safe than sorry, right? I might have had trouble getting home. I've done the Highway 80 trip in a blizzard before and it is no picnic...and I have a dinner to go to tonight...
Margot is helping me out via e-mail. I sent her a picture of what I did today and she will critique it for me.
This is the first layer of color blocked in with darks and lights. Funny, now that I see it on screen I can see my window grill is sagging under the weight of the pot! I didn't intend that - I think I better straighten it out on my next go-around.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Geranium Painting Begins

This stage never looks like much. I blocked in my darks and used turpenoid to work it into the paper surface. Tomorrow in class I'll start with the first layer of color. I haven't been doing much art these last two days because I've been doing assignments for class and also some reading. I got Margot's book in the mail yesterday "A Painter's Guide to Design and Composition" by Margot Schulzke. I'm hoping to improve my compositions by taking her classes, and I am very impressed with her - she is a great teacher. I'm also picking subject matter with architectural elements since I am weak in that area, and Margot is very talented there. You can see her work at

Sunday, February 8, 2009

New Drawing

Yesterday and today I worked on the sketch for my next pastel painting. I did a lot of changes in the process. I think I'll settle with this. It may not show up in this sketch, but there is a shadow pattern from the plant and grill on the wall. I was charmed by the geraniums in the window grills when I visited Allied Arts Guild in Menlo Park, CA. ( In fact, the whole place is wonderful. These Spanish Colonial buildings amid beautiful courtyards and gardens were created in 1929 specifically to be an arts guild. The proceeds go to support the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Something is Coming...

I was close to finishing this yesterday, but decided to wait until today to post it as a finished work. This is my first "mixed media". It was an experiment. I'm pleased with how it came out. When I take risks and work outside my comfort zone, it is fun. I feel a sense of freedom from my own expectations, because...I don't know what to expect!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Lake Castle is Done!

I am happy how this painting came out. I finished it in class. It is really great having a teacher give pointers at the end so I don't overwork it. A little history on this location: Back in the early 1930's George Whittell built this estate called "Thunderbird Lodge" ( right on Lake Tahoe. He was an eccentric millionaire and would hold parties here for the rich and famous. He had a pet elephant and lion which he kept on the premises and paraded out for guests. This picture is of a separate little house called the Card House, where he and his friends could play cards. If he didn't like the company, there was a secret passageway from this house to an underground tunnel to the boathouse, where he would escape in his "woody".

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Lake Castle in the works

I had fun working on this today, listening to opera. I've done Lake Tahoe rocky shores before. Sometimes those rocks move around and change shape on my paper!!!! How do they do that?? *?##!! Tomorrow is my class, and again I am so fortunate the weather is clear to go over the pass. I am such a wimp! To think I commuted to a job from Truckee to South Lake Tahoe for 3 years, year round. It was a gorgeous drive all along the lake....but I'm glad I don't have to do it anymore!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Something's Coming

This leopard (our guide referred to him as "the fat boy") was enjoying an all-day nap in the grass not far from his tree where his unfinished feast was on a branch. We waited and waited while he just rolled over, napped som more, got up, took two steps, plopped down again....Then, something caught his attention. This picture was that moment. We didn't know it, but the leopard did; a hyena was skulking around the brush, headed toward the leopard's kill tree. I'm still building up the watercolor. I'm almost ready to start the pastel over it. His head needs a little darker color first.

Lake Castle

Today I worked on Lake Castle. I'm building up the darks and putting highlight notes in so I can work within that range to keep everything in balance. I like this composition so much more than the original plein air quick painting I did last summer.