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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Ahhh, the good feeling of finishing things!

"Autumn Sage" 9 x 12 oil
The following were plein air paintings that were very close to being finished.  Today I did the finishing touches on all three!!!!  I love that feeling.

"Light Through the Cottonwoods" 8 x 10 oil
"Shimmering Light" 9 x 12 oil

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Plein Air Watercolor Sketches - My Solution To Traveling By Air

We recently went to Florida.  I find that traveling by air with limited luggage has encouraged me to use watercolor as my medium for plein air painting.  I have a 5x7 sketchbook that takes a little bit of watercolor, and I have an Arches watercolor block cut in half - 5x7 size - which can take a lot of watercolor without warping.

These two above were done on the Arches block.  I start with Sakura fine tip micron 05 ink pens.  I can get a light whispy line as well as go over it more to get it darker.  I lightly draw in my shapes and then use watercolor.  If it needs a little more texture or definition, I use the pen some more after the paint is dry.  I have a mini pocket knife (that travels in the check-in bag) that trims the painting off the block when done.
This one was done in the sketch book.  the same method - with pen first, then a few swipes with watercolor to suggest color.  I stopped using pencil because it smudges so bad and I don't want to bring any spray fixative.
Same here - I left white paper as much as possible.  Even though I have fancy tubes of watercolor paint I put in a travel watercolor palette, if I am limited on space, I take an 8-color student grade watercolor box (looks like the kind in grammar school).  Amazingly, I can get some rich colors from this $6.00 box!  All of these paintings were done with this box!

I take an empty plastic snapple juice bottle with me on the plane, along with an empty mini craft sprayer bottle.  Somewhere along the way I grab a plastic disposable drink cup that is just large enough to clean the brush.  I fill the bottles with water when I'm ready to paint and take a small tote bag and a mini camera.

I don't use a cheap brush.  I take only one brush along - a medium size one - a Daniel Smith sable mix #6 round.  It has a little bit of a point for finer lines, and broad enough for large coverage areas on a 5x7 paper.  I like to store my brush and pens in one of those zippered cases to prevent the brush tip from getting bent.

Because everything is so small, you don't need too much furniture.  You can do the sketching part standing up if you have to, and paint on your lap with the palette on your knee and the water nearby.  Very easy, very quick since you are working 5x7 and not messy and easy to transport.  Makes a fun momento of your trip too!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Private Invitation Open Studio

Last week I had a private by invitation Open Studio - wine and cheese event.  About 11 people came and it was fun to visit with everyone.  Everyone had a good time and stayed until the end.  It was a great excuse for a social get-together!  I sold a couple of paintings and gave one away in a drawing.  Above all, it was good to stay in touch.  I will have another one in the Spring.

Unfortunately, my camera didn't focus right and I only have one photo of my arrangement.  I had new works on the wall, and unframed works on the table.  All of the works on the wall were done en plein air.  Since I have started the Reno Tahoe Plein Air Painters, I have been painting out on location every week....and all those paintings add up!!!!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Correction to previous post

I just received notification that two of the three paintings I submitted to Randy Higbee's Show were not accepted after all.  I am sure that the jury process takes a long time and they were not able to meet the due date to notify us.  So, I received this notification two days later.  

So, to correct my announcement:

I am pleased to announce that ONE of my three paintings were accepted into the Randy Higbee 6 Squared Show!  That painting was "Estuary Grasses"!  

The other two paintings will be added to my own personal show this Friday nite at my studio!  I am having an Open Studio from 5pm to 8pm with wine and cheese and snacks!  Invitations went out to my email list.  

If you are a local Reno or Carson City, Nevada resident and would like to come, please contact me at for specifics.

Randy Higbee's 4th Annual 6-inch Squared Exhibit and Sale

I'm delighted to announce that three of my plein air oil paintings have been accepted into this show!
"Morning Reflections" 6 x 6 oil
This painting was done on location in Newport Beach, California - in the Back Bay Estuary Preserve.  It was a gorgeous morning and the tide was in.  After painting this, I drove to nearby Randy Higbee KingofFrames shop to purchase some 6 x 6 frames and canvas panels.  Randy was there and wanted to see my painting!  He made sure to ask me if I was entering his show.  This is the first time I have entered this show.  A few years ago we were vacationing in Newport Beach and I visited one of his shows.  I was so impressed with the beauty of the little paintings.  Many were done by nationally acclaimed artists!  So I am thrilled to be a part of this event.

All paintings are beautifully framed by Randy Higbee Frames

Date:  December 7 to December 20, 2013
Artists Gala Reception:  Saturday December 7th from 5pm to 9pm
Location:  Randy Higbee Gallery, 102 Kalmus, Costa Mesa, CA  92626
phone:  800-506-7624

"Estuary Grasses" 6 x 6 oil
This painting was done on the following day from another location along the Back Bay Estuary.
"Alpine Lapis Blue" 6 x 6 oil
This painting was painted on location last week at Sand Harbor, Lake Tahoe.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Two More Paintings...

I am continuing to clean up some plein air paintings.  I am reminded of how difficult it is to do paintings of aspens and cottonwoods in fall color.  It is forever a challenge.  How to capture the "glow".... well, as you can see, I keep trying...

I'm also new to photographing oil painting hot off the easel.  If the room is not light enough, the flash goes off and reflects on the glossy paint.  If I take it outside and photograph it in the sun, I have to try for an angle so the paint doesn't reflect.... So I'm in the learning curve here....

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Touching Up Previous Plein Air Paintings

"Ridgetop Lake" 8 x 16 oil

It is encouraging to know that a well-known and successful plein air painter warns in his book that only about one in ten plein air paintings come out frameable as is and to not worry about it.

So far that is the case with me.  Lately, I've had some wonderful time in the studio and I have been touching up some of these paintings.  It has been great to have time and a controlled environment to work out the problems with these paintings.  In the field we just don't have time because the light changes.

Some needed to be lightened up.  Some needed more contrast.  Some needed the focal area developed with edges and brighter colors.  The lake was a real problem because it was not lying flat and looking believable.  I printed the reference photos taken at the time the painting was done and it helped me a lot to see the lake in detail.  By the time I had finished this painting in the field, a breeze had changed the surface of the water, so I couldn't remember what it looked like when I began to paint.  
"Dusting of Snow" 6 x 6 oil
"Fall at the Creek"  8 x 10 oil
"At the Edge of the Park" 6 x 6 oil

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Recent trip to the coast

I just got back from a week getaway with hubby to the coast - Newport Beach Coast, California.  Did some paintings:
Fall Beach Day 6x6 oil

Estuary Grasses 6x6 oil

Morning Reflections 6x6 oil
I had a lot of fun and the weather was gorgeous!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Been Busy Making Art!

I've been painting a lot, but I haven't posted to this blog for a while!  So Sorry!!!  Here is a little bit of my recent sketches and quick paintings:
"Aspen Road" 8 x 10 oil plein air
"Canadian Rocky Mountain Train Ride"  5 x 7 watercolor

"First Day of Autumn" 8 x 16 oil plein air
"Genoa Cottonwood" 8 x 10 oil plein air
"Meadow at Sky Tavern" 8 x 10 oil plein air
"Sunset From the Mountain Top" 6 x 6 oil plein air
"Truckee River in October" 9 x 10 oil plein air
As you can see, I am getting out and experiencing the gorgeous colors of fall - yellow and orange aspen trees and cottonwoods.  All of these paintings were done in under 2 hours, and some of them I intend to do more work on them..... but I thought I'd share them anyway.

We recently went on a train ride through the Canadian Rockies - stopping and staying at Jasper, Lake Louise and Banff.  Wow!  What incredibly gorgeous country!  I only had time to do little watercolor sketches - either while on the train or on a tour bus, or standing on a bridge looking at a glacial river gorge during a 20-minute tour stop!  Our flight home had problems and we had to wait in the airport for hours.  So I took out a larger watercolor pad and started a larger version of the little river sketch.  I am wishing I had time to continue working on is out on my drafting table waiting patiently....and then, I want to try doing a pastel painting from these studies....and then maybe an oil painting after that.... many paintings to little time to do them all.....  (sigh!)

Friday, September 13, 2013

My First Open Studio

Last weekend I held my first open studio - through a group of artists called "Reno Open Studios".  I spent one day setting up my courtyard:
The entrance to the courtyard is on the right

I had a table with unframed works in bins and my portfolio and books, and notecards in a basket for sale.
oil paintings are on the right and pastel paintings on the left
In between the two set-ups of panels I had a small table with a guest sign-in and drawing for a 6x6 painting.
More pastels in the shade on the right and oil paintings that got sun on the left
At the other end, I had an easel to work and demonstrate pastel painting, and a seating area if anyone wanted to chat.
We were blessed with gorgeous weather.  I little hot in the afternoon, but with the umbrellas grape vines above, fountain and a couple of fans, it was pleasant.  I also had music.

I had about 60 people over the 3-day period and I believe that is pretty good since I am unknown and do not have a following.  I got one commission and made very good contacts for a possible future commission and some interested students who would like a class.  I sold quite a few cards (which I made myself - with photo images of my work on them).

Now I am taking little naps each day!  It was a lot of work to prepare for it - I worked on this for a month - and it really caught up to me!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

I am doing an Open Studio this week

"Tahoe Blue"  pastel

I've been soooo busy for a month, preparing for my Open Studios.  I joined "Reno Open Studios" this year.  We (40 local artists) will open our studios to the public for Friday, Saturday and Sunday (Sept. 6, 7, 8) from 10am to 5pm.

Above is a new pastel painting in the show.  Below is an older painting that I "touched up" and changed.  I even changed the name to "Return to Zion":
"Return to Zion"  pastel
We have had a month of smokey air from the Yosemite Fire.  It has kept us indoors.  We have missed painting out doors en plein air!  But, it has helped me get ready for the open studios event.  I have about 30 framed oils and pastels, and about 30 unframed pieces as well.  I will be having a drawing for a free painting.  I made up some note cards with images of my art on them for sale - seems like everyone likes those.

I will be setting up in our courtyard with panels to hang my work.  I'll be painting and demonstrating in there as well.  Several friends have said they will drop by.  It should be fun.

This is the first time I have ever done anything like have no expectations, so maybe that is good.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Recent paint-outs

6 x 6 plein air at Eagle Falls, Lake Tahoe
I recently hiked up to Eagle Falls and painted this little painting.  I only went 1/3 mile, but it was straight up and many granite steps and stairs to climb.  This was the vista point - a view I chose that did not peek at Emerald Bay below.  If I continued another 2/3 mile I could have seen Eagle Lake.  I've seen photos of it on the internet and it looks gorgeous!  Want to go someday!

6 x 6 plein air of Silver Saddle Ranch
Yesterday I painted at Silver Saddle Ranch.  I stood in the shade of the cottonwood trees and painted this view looking toward Carson River.  The cattle were not in the pasture.  They were off somewhere across the street.

You can see more of my paint-outs at

Friday, August 2, 2013

Little 6 x 6 paintings in oil - so fun to do!

Below are some little paintings I did recently out in the field.  I am getting ready for an open studio and am adding a little "umph" to my paintings in the studio.  Sometimes when you get home, you notice that your values don't have enough punch, or the painting needs just a little tweeking.  Here they are - in all their "tweeked look":
"Summer Pond" 6 x 6 oil
"Blue Asters" 6 x 6 oil
"Backyard Boats"  6 x 6 oil

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Painting in the studio from a plein air study

After painting Watson Lake in oil en plein air, I wanted to try painting it in the studio, using the plein air as a guide, and do a larger painting.  This is 14 x 18 on a stretched canvas.  I haven't painted on a surface like this in a very, very long time.  Painting large was different too.  I  had to allow more time and mix bigger piles of paint and use bigger brushes.  I only worked on it two days.  I now realize I was using my plein air Alkyd medium.  I don't have a regular medium right now.  So, it dried overnight.  So, it was a little different.  But, it was fun, and I'll do it again.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

How to hike back to your car with wet oil paintings you did in the field

Someone asked this question today and it is so good, I went out and took pictures of the carrier I use and will talk about it and two other methods.
I use Panel Pak.  I paint on boards (panels about 1/8" thick) in 8 x 10 and 9 x 12.  I also like to paint in 6 x 6 and occasionally a panarama 8 x 16.  PanelPak offers pre-made popular frame sizes.  They will make up a special size for an additional cost - like my 6x6 and 8x16 sizes.  I use them constantly.  You can either put one of their false panels on one side and only bring one panel for painting on - OR - bring two panels and have them both face inward - so you can carry two wet paintings.  The panels do not touch each other, and you rubberband them together.  The panels fit snugly in the wooden frame and slide right into your backpack.  The picture below shows how the rubberbands go around the complete package.
Some of my friends use RayMar Wet Panel Carriers:

These light-weight carriers have slots for putting multiple panels in, and comes with a shoulder strap for carrying.  They come in different sizes.

Some people use a small pizza box and use push-pins to secure the corners of a painting inside.  This might work for walking short distances, but would not work for hiking because you would have to have to carry it by hand and carry it level so the painting doesn't flop onto the inside of the lid of the box.

There are other small wet panel carriers out on the market, but they are usually made of wood and can be heavy and take up a lot of room.  The first two methods above are the best I have heard of so far.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Summertime Paint-Outs - Staying Cool!

"Connie's Garden"  12 x 9 pastel
Today I went with a painting friend to our local arboretum and we found a cool shady spot and enjoyed painting the flowers.  The employed gardener (or was she a volunteer?) was happy I was painting an area she planted this year.  So I named it after her!

"Summer Cove Escape" 10 x 8 oil
Yesterday I hiked down a path to a quiet cove beach with a painting friend, Monika, and we painted and then dipped in the cool waters of Lake Tahoe.  What a great day!
"Summertime at the Lake"
Before I met up with my friend, I was close to Sand Harbor.  I took a painting I had done previously and did more work on it at the exact same spot.  I like it better now.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Final Day and Reception for Markleeville Plein Air Event

"Whirlygig" 12 x 9 oil

This morning we artists were supposed to paint the town - and be in the town where the public could see us and talk to us.  I will admit, city and townscapes and anything to do with buildings is a challenge for me....but I want to learn and I guess learning by doing is the answer here.  A couple of days ago I scoped out the town and really loved a little cottage with a cute garden.  There were always cars and trucks parked in front, so I did some sketches of the house one day, and a couple of value sketches another day.  I finally settled on a section of the house and the side yard.  I had to eliminate potted plants and things on the porch - it was just too much for a little painting.

So this morning, I was so tired from commuting ever day for 4 days, that I was running late.  I took a little extra time to print the photos I took of the cottage before I left.  Good thing I did, because today they had that area blocked off because they had tree trimmers cutting down large limbs in front of the cottage!  So, I parked somewhere else in town and set up in the shade (at 10:00 it was already very hot!).

I had some people come by and chat, and I would have liked to have more time to work on this, but at noon I had to pack up and frame this little wet painting and bring it in.  It was hung inside the canopy.

We had a very good turn-out and by 10:00 4 paintings were sold, including my wildflower painting!!!!!