Sunday, December 30, 2012

Apple 1

Apple 1, 6x6 oil on canvas.  Click to bid.

Whew!  I dont know about you but the holidays can sometimes feel a bit like a marathon at times!  I'm feeling like I just finished a race and I'm back in the locker room for decompression.  :)

I am putting the finishing touches on a painting I am doing for a Daniel Edmondson online painting workshop and will post it soon.  I have only taken 3 workshops (two of them were out of state and this one being online) and one of the biggest lessons I've learned is that painting is like handwriting.  We paint like we paint.  We can learn a great deal of helpful technical information to get us past difficulties but at the end of the day and away from the instructor, my paintings are a Lori Twiggs.  I see what I see and translate it as such.  That said, I'm learning how to use warm and cool colors to their advantage, light and shadow, hard and soft edges, composition...  and so forth.  I refer to my notes periodically for refreshers.  But, it's still a Lori Twiggs.  Fortunately, I'm okay with that.

The lesson now is being completely satisfied with NOT being Richard Schmid, David Leffel and a myriad of other high level painters that I've studied.  BUT I have learned a great deal from them and by comparing some of my earlier works to my more recent works, I believe I've been able to apply much of what I've learned and enhanced, albeit  improved, my painting.  See examples below:

The differences being a better use of all of the a fore mentioned issues.  At first glance the biggest differences I see here are composition (spacial), warms vs. cools and edge control.   I wonder if, in a couple of years, I'll be using my 'More Recent' painting here as an example of my 'Early Stuff'  that I will have then learned and grown from.   But until then I will continue to read my books and magazines, watch my DVD's and attend a workshop or two then wander to my studio for practical application.  I suppose only time will tell.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Pear 2

Pear 2,  6x6 oil on canvas.  Click here to bid

I lied.  Here is the third painting up for grabs.  I decided not to wait until after the holidays (as I mentioned in my last post) to post again.  So here is number 3 of the 4 shown below:
The top apple is also currently being auctioned.  

I've become a serial painting killer in my studio.  Lately, I find myself picking up 'finished' paintings to re-work or make changes just for the heck of it.  Just yesterday, I had a cute little painting but I just couldnt leave it alone.  I wonder what would happen if I took out the green leaf and put in red grapes??  Well, you dont know if you dont try, right?  And so it goes.  More on that later...    :)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Apple 2 Auction

Apple 2, 6x6 oil on canvas.  click here to bid

Second painting up for grabs, so to speak.  I think I will wait until after Christmas to post the others.  I dont know about you but get a little taxed about now with the upcoming holidays. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Black Grapes

Black Grapes 10x8, oil on canvas.

Now I have a dilemma.  I wanted to begin posting my paintings to the Daily Paintworks auctions as I finish them but I'm back logged ...  and it's the Christmas season.  Both are good things but experience tells me not to start an auction that will end on a holiday - or the Super Bowl Game.  Yeah, I didnt really think that through last year.   :(

At any rate, this painting was an attempt to paint a little more atmospheric than I usually do.  I think the image may be a bit darker than the painting.  For future paintings I think I will just sit and look at the set up for a while and work out the problems BEFORE dipping into paint!

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Pear Auction

Pear 1, 6x6 oil on canvas.  Click here to bid in DailyPaintworks Auction!

I'm back from my workshop and I'm back in the game! After a several month sabbatical following my mothers passing I have regrouped and I'm re-directed!  I'm back in the auction game but this time around I'm not starting at one cent or one dollar.  I've upped the starting bid to $29 and I'm hoping for the best.

I also have a few other plans for 2013 simmering on the back burner that I am excited about.  It appears that the new theme for 2013 is taking risks!  I have a solo show in the works but no details to share at the moment.   But I can say that I'm stepping out of my comfort zone and taking a leap of faith! 

The workshop I attended was with Qiang Huang in Sedona AZ.  It was an amazing experience. He was organized, informative and very approachable and a bit of a comedian!  I'm really looking forward to getting into my studio tomorrow to begin applying my new found knowledge!  Thank you Qiang!

Monday, December 03, 2012

Apple Pear Quad, 4 6x6's oil on canvas.
So I had this idea.  Do something small.  Something easy.  Something with instant gratification.  Well, I got the small part right.  It started with a single pear on a 6x6.  But in truth, nothing is ever easy.  If it were I would get horribly bored, almost immediately, and go eat soup.

My last painting, which I refuse to post online, was a good idea in the beginning but grew into the incredible Hulk.  I got lost in the zone and my pears grew to abnormally large proportions and thus the whole painting took on an Amazon, grotesque, disfigurement.  So I thought, lets start over. This time in baby steps.  And thus, my little quad.

My newest epiphany:  never go larger than life. :(

The easy part got lost in translation.  Sure, it's just a pear.  But it's a pear with several colorations each in light and shadow.  Meaning each coloration must have a light, shadow, and varying degrees of each in order to produce the orbital or pearish shape.  The leaves I veered from reality and pushed the color from blue-greens towards orange-green.  And then I set it all back, hopefully giving it some depth on a little 6x6, by using a darker version of the foreground in the background. 

Then the small part was sacrificed when I decided to do a tiny series.  Yikes.  One of the apples originally had apple blossoms which were executed beautifully but looked horrible in context so I scraped and re-painted.  Thus, the instant gratification was sacrificed altogether.

So my idea morphed.   Happily, into a better idea!  :)

Oh well, so much for that.  Now I have another idea...

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Another Geranium Painting

Red Geraniums 2.

Last Geranium painting, I promise... maybe.  I'm preparing for my workshop by painting hot and dirty all week.  Something I should be doing every week but continually found myself distracted by errands and tasks that, for whatever reason, came first.  Not so this week though.  I'm out in the studio early and take few breaks.

I had a goal. Have a goal.  My goal is to have a goal.  That is, I've allowed myself to tread water until the end of Dec but by the end of Dec I will have a plan.  I have several pots simmering on the stove but only for a little while longer.  Then I will have to choose one and go with it. 

Funny thing about goals.  They resemble ambition.  And ambition is only a faint memory to me these days.  It's easy to be ambitious in my big comfy chair curled up with a Seth Godin book but putting it into action means taking risks and I'm plum out of risk.  But that doesnt matter anymore because I'm also plum out of status quo.   So this is kind of an exciting time for me.  I'll be turning  a corner, trying something new, taking risks, so on and so forth.

Remember the definition of insanity:  Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

ERGO - I'll be jumping off the insanity swing.  It's entirely possible I'll fall a few times.  Scratch my knees or whatever but having a goal will mean getting back up and trying it again - differently.  Hopefully with fewer falls.  But whatever, the falls are part of the ride, right?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Red Geraniums 16x12, oil on canvas.
Flowers can be a daunting subject for me.  I always seem to start off painting every petal then, after stepping back, I realize I've just sabotaged my entire concept by doing so.  

But enough red geraniums.  I picked the last of the wilted blooms and the final brown leaf.  My "Pink Room" is beginning to look like a retirement home for half dead potted plants.  :(  
( Pink Room - acquired the name when we laid pink carpet 18 years ago but has long since been replaced by laminate flooring.  Still goes by the name Pink Room though.  It's what we do.)

Onward and forward.  Something small today so I can feel good about myself before I leave for my workshop this weekend!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Rose Spray

 Clay Pot #, 9x12 oil on canvas.
Like I said in the last post, I'm all about flowers now.  I've been painting so much that my studio wall is full and I'm running out of room to hang wet paintings.  I'm also getting a little stingy with my canvas so I'm painting over old paintings for my studies.  This painting was done on a matte board scrap.  I have no idea what will happen to it over time since I didnt even take the time to gesso it!  However, it served it's purpose.  I got to practice roses in various blooming stages and determine what needs changing before using up a good canvas!  :)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Geraniums And Grapes

Geraniums And Grapes 18x18 oil on canvas.

I'm "branching out" now into florals (pun intended!).  Bear with me while I get a feel for these multifaceted props.    I've toyed with flowers in the past but this time I'm approaching them from a different perspective, so to speak; or better said, a different concept.  The painting above is clearly a light and shadow or chiaroscuro painting.  My idea was to have the light drift up from the table, travel up the planter and splash the geraniums on the left with the right side almost fully engulfed in shadow.  Lost edges with only a very few crisp and light edges against darks for contrast.  It's a quiet dance.  May I go so far as to say "sexy"?

Friday, September 28, 2012

12x16 oil on canvas.I'm pretty sure I'm supposed to be an artist.  Just in case there was any question about it.  I've always seen the world a little differently.  That is - different from those who would not consider themselves artistically inclined.  Perhaps not so different from other "artists" though.  I'm not sure I'm extraordinarily unique in any approach, technique or vision but I can say for sure that it's a big part of who I am and always has been.

So what does one do with that information??  Once you can finally say, 'yep, I'm an artist', what's next?  Had I made this revelation 10 years ago, I may have had an easier time at gallery representation.  I was younger with more ambition and there were more galleries around.  Unfortunately, my conclusion came just after an economy collapse affecting galleries nationally and causing many to shut their doors.   As well as the death of both of my parents and a SLEW of to many life changing events to mention here.  I'm a little fried in the ambition department.   :( 

So now what?  There are still a bazillion galleries out there toughing out the economic climate.  I've been through many of them myself and my conclusion is, the economy is not to blame for my lack of representation.  There are still avid collectors out there purchasing art.   If representation is what I want then I have to go out and get it.  Do I want it?

What I really need to do is have some concrete goals in mind that I can focus on and take the appropriate paths to get there.  The hard part is determining those goals.  Where do I really want to go with my artwork?  And how much energy am I willing to spend to get there?

I realize I've been in survival mode for some time now and getting off that carousel can be daunting indeed.  In fact, when I stop to analyze my future, I end up exhausted, pick up one of my art magazines and float into my happy place.  It may be time for a heart to heart with a good friend who can help me get on track. 

In a perfect world I would paint to my hearts content, ship my painting to a gallery who would then sell the painting and request another which would be standing by in my studio.  Lather, rinse, repeat. 

That sounds good, doesn't it?  It's not fame and fortune I'm after but identity, purpose, contentment.  And let's face it... legacy.    It would be nice if my boys had something other than sloppy peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and peanut butter banana milkshakes to remember me for.  I am, after all, more than a mom, wife and sister.  I am much more complex than that.   I am an artist. 

Monday, August 06, 2012

Clay Pot #2

Clay Pot #2, 9x12, oil on canvas.

Ever feel inadequate? says:


not adequate  or sufficient; inept or unsuitable.
If I had a dime for every time I felt inadequate as a painter I'd certainly be a rich woman by now.  What's odd is that when I finish a painting (usually) I am quite satisfied as an artist. I feel fulfilled, happy, productive.  In fact, the finish of a painting is defined by how satisfied I am.  In other words.  I know it's done when I can step back and say, "now that's what I'm talking about!" 
But, from time to time, I get into a painting only to step back and say, "?".   So I'm looking at the painting and I'm wondering what's it going to take to make this work? Then I realize that I've strayed so far off my concept that the only way to make it work is to start over.  It's a WIPER.

*Wipers - paintings unworthy of a canvas and wiped off before drying.  

I have a few more wipers than I'd care to admit.  And I'll also admit that when that happens, I begin to feel inadequate. 

On the brighter side, I believe I've wiped a few in recent months that in years past would have made it into a frame.  I've set the bar higher.  And that means growth.  I expect more from myself now.  I self critique more frequently through out the painting process.  I am tough on details like edges, color temperature, tangent lines and so forth.

A problem with regularly setting the bar higher is that it becomes difficult to impossible to ever catch up.  I'm never good enough for myself.  That's a problem.  That leaves me with feelings of inadequacy quite often.  What I do with those feelings is really what it's all about.  Do I give up?  No.  I do not.  Sometimes I drag my feet a little.  Fear of failure can do that.  But eventually, I 'pull myself up by my bootstraps' so to speak and get on with the show.  After all, it's supposed to be fun, right?  

Okay, so I have a few wipers now and then.  But when I look back I see a lot of growth.  That's what I'm after.  I know that I am in the process of achieving my goals!  Because I am improving, in my opinion.  And that's what matters!

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Garlic 1

Garlic 1, 6x6, oil on canvas.

I read David Leffels book "An Artist Teaches" and I can truthfully say, he does.    It was inspiring and educational.  What more could I ask for?

Mr. Leffel shares a life of painting experiences and knowledge.  The only thing better would be attending one of his workshops.  Which I may.  The book was that good.  I actually received it as a birthday gift as part of a 3 book set:

David A Leffel's Self- Portraits
An Artist Teaches 
Sherrie McGraw's The Language of Drawing

I have not put a lot of time into sketching and drawing until I read Sherrie McGraws book, The Language of Drawing.  That too was so inspiring that I picked up my drawing supplies and began my first self portrait series (pretty funny looking portraits!).  Self portraits are great because the model is cheap.  Hopefully, I can work out the kinks before I sit down in front of an actual, real model! 

It seems as though there is a never ending supply of information on painting and drawing.  When I think I've read all there is to read on the subjects I end up learning something new.  And then I have to escape to the studio to see how it pans out.  I have two new books coming this week - possibly today!

Oil Painting Secrets From a Master Linda Cateura (Author), David A. Leffel (Contributor)

Ancient Wisdom: Emerging Artist: The Business Plan (not just) for the Mature Artist by Sue Favinger Smith

Monday, July 30, 2012

Blueberries #2

Blueberries #2, 6x6 oil on canvas.
I used to be on the board of a local non profit art organization.  My original interest in it was purely selfish.  I had a new found interest (or rather a re discovered interest following my youngest child entering school) in painting and wanted to meet others of like mind.  It was very effective.  At the first meeting I attended I met several artists of various mediums.  I was truly inspired and motivated. 

I enjoyed being around them all.  We discussed art in a multitude of arenas including the fundraising for the organization which included an annual auction, an art show/festival and a few miscellaneous other ploys.  It was creativity the way I remembered it.  I began using the right side of my brain again.  Thinking outside the box.  Problem solving.  It was great!   Plus, I had the added luxury of gleaning from my new artist friends everything they knew about their mediums along with stimulating conversations revolving around art.

Last January I resigned from the board, not because of any ill feelings.  Quite the opposite.  But because I had to make a decision as to how to spend my time.  Being on the board meant volunteering once a week (for me anyway) at the gallery, meetings at least once a month and then any grunt work that was needed for our activities.  That really bit into my personal painting time.  I felt that if I wanted to continue to grow as an artist, I had to dedicate more time to painting.  Cant get better just thinking about it, can I?  So I turned in my resignation, vowed to keep in touch and parted to my studio.  My lonely studio.  Love it but it's quiet.  Turns out, I'm a people person.

I think most of us are people persons (people people??).  I was just discussing with a friend who was frustrated that her husband isnt giving her the support/inspiration she needs.  I  am lucky that my husband is starting to see the mystery and excitement in art but I realize that we dont all have that support system at home.  My advice to her is to seek out others that relate to her passion.  Find someone she wants to emulate.  A role model.  We all need role models.  We all have them whether we realize  it or not.  Some are not great role models yet we spend so much time with them.   Then we take their advice wonder why we seem to be spinning our wheels.    Seek out your superheros.  The people who are living the life you want to live.  Or at least pursuing the life you want to live. Whether it's a comfortable pace of Sunday painting just for grins or an intense passion to absorb every last bit of info on your medium and for each new painting to outshine the last, find a like minded companion.  Or two.  Treat them well.  They are your friends, mentors, colleagues.  You have the same goals or at least similar goals.  Chances are good that they will appreciate having you around as well!  :)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Bowl of Blueberries

Bowl O' Berries, 6x6 oil on canvas.
This is the painting I was working on for the studio tour in May.  In reality the bowl had some detail that I left out due to time constraints.   As it turns out, I think it was for the best.  The extra texture may have competed with the blueberries and reflections.

Occasionally, I forget about the big picture and get caught up in the details.  I was just having this discussion with another artist yesterday.  He was saying how, after doing an impressionism piece, how much more difficult it is than realism.  I agree.  Keeping your focus on your original concept in the spirit of impressionism means eliminating many unnecessary details.  Which ones do we keep?  The ones that enhance our concept of course!  The others are implied or eliminated all together.  Sounds simple enough yet when in the zone I tend to see every little nuance and detail and begin to mindlessly transfer them to the canvas - ARG!  Fortunately, I am catching myself more often now and relating only what needs to be said.  Finally!  Growth!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Papaya #2, 6x6 oil on canvas.
So this little painting has even more movement than the last one illustrated, in my opinion, by the vertical brushstrokes.  I like it.  The first challenge was getting the variations of colors without muddying.  Mission accomplished.  :)   I'm happy too with the background and foreground color.  That is an never ending challenge for me. 

 And that's what it's about, right?  The push and pull of challenges?  So today I will be approaching a a painting that has been sitting on the easel since Friday.  My challenge is to pull it together with the concept I had originally intended for it.  Or is it???  

I had somehow strayed from that original concept and fell into what seems to be my norm.  My signature.  I pushed the light instinctively into familiar areas and backed off in particular areas and the end result was one of familiarity.  How did that happen?  I had an idea.  I pursued it.  I spent time laying out the composition.  Adjusting the light.  Saying mantras like, " the quiet surf rolled gently onto the shore..".  But apparently, whatever was being said in the back corners of my mind seized control of the whole afternoon's work and re defined the warms & cools, lights & darks,  the concept.  I didnt see that coming. 

But that's what day 2 is for.  So my choice is:
1)    Re-establish my original concept or
2)    Go with it and let the painting paint itself

The painting above painted itself.  I'm inclined to go there.  Because it's easier.  And fun.  That's not to say it lacks challenges.  But instinct has  a way of, well, taking charge.  So I can sit back and think I'm working out problems when, in fact, there is a background Lori actually calling all the shots. 

So for the painting on the easel, I have some choices to make.  But I cant dismiss all the info I've gleaned from the last few books and DVD's I've studied and now have the curiosity to explore.  Falling back into my comfort zone will not promote growth.  That said, the painting on the easel may not be the place for that growth.  I'm expecting a 20 pack of canvas to arrive today via UPS.  Perhaps the growth will happen on one of those.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Papaya #1 6x6 oil on canvas.  
Static?  Can a 6x6 or any square canvas have movement?  This is a more recent observation of mine. Not that static is a bad thing, I guess, just an observation.  Creating a sense of movement on a 6x6 may prove challenging however, after spending some time looking over some of my favorite painters works I see it's not only possible but an integral part of many great compositions.  Besides, what's the point of locking myself in my studio if I dont have a challenge to consider?  
In this painting I do see movement in the edges and reflections.  Also the way the grapes come slightly forward.  I think I could have added even more movement by giving a slight turn to the papaya or even setting it farther back. But I'm happy with this result.  I think it's both somber and punchy if that's even possible.  I'm also particularly happy with the edges and brushwork.  I must have been in a rare mood when I painted it. 

 Moods are iffy for me these days.  I've tried a variety of genres of music while painting but I think what it boils down to is what seems to be always pressing in the back of my mind.  Some days I can distract myself but some days it simply lingers and there's no escaping -- I have the honor of acting as executrix of my mothers estate.  She died in March.  I was with her.  Sadly, those images are the ones I remember the most.

My responsibilities in that matter will be winding up soon and once again I will be reinventing Lori Twiggs.  Whoever that is.  I've had alot of reinventing to do in the last few years.  Anyone who has had to parent their parents can relate - you know who you are.  This should wind up that era.  Put it behind me.  Move forward.  Be productive.  I know it can be done since I've seen so many others do it.  Lose some one close to them and then go on with their lives. 

There is a secret they dont want you to know:  It's a lot harder than it looks.  How can I go on with my life when my life will never be the same? I had a job.. with a title:  Power of Attorney.  I complained a lot but the fact remains, it defined me for the last 6 years.  It was my job to see to it that my mother was cared for.  That her needs were met, physically and emotionally. I ran her errands, bought her clothes, toiletries, ensures.  I paid her visits and told her I loved her.  I gave her hugs and rubbed her delicate little arm.  I answered calls from the facility where she lived and I came in to be with her as she died.   But afterwords,  I was informed, rather coolly by the funeral home, that I was relieved of my duties at the time of death.  Little did they know I was promoted to Executrix.  Mooo haaa haaa!  Jokes on me.

But that title wont last either.  Sometime before fall I will be relieved of that duty as well. 
Who will I be after that? 

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Clem & Grapes, 6x6 oil on canvas.  Bid on eBay.

My little creamer is once again starring a role in this little 6x6.  Getting a little crazy with my edges these days and lovin' it!  Finally feeling independent enough to really let go and get into that part of the brain that takes over -- commonly referred to as " THE ZONE".   What a great place to be.  Sure, I've been there before.  But it's becoming a regular hang out for me these days.  My stompin' grounds, if you will.  My "high".   Some of you know what I'm talking about...

I am learning so much that I will reiterate what I'm sure I've said before: The more I know, the more I know I dont know.

I may also paraphrase a quote from the movie Bagger Vance regarding golf but also applies to painting:  It is not a game to be won but a game to be played.  
Now that pretty much sums it up.   You'll have to see the move to actually hear the quote.  I'm sure I miss phrased it but the essence is true.  

I think that is the best part of this game.   It's not about winning although there are contests.  It's more about the doing.  Getting there.  And what happens in that block of time.  It's about the focus or lack there of.  Confidence - or lack there of..  Sensitivity... or lack there of... 

I dont know much (anything) about golf but I get the feeling it's a similar dance to painting.   We have a goal (idea, vision, concept) , get our heads in the game, block out the world and become the vision.  If we lose site of our idea or concept, everything falls apart.  The very definition of not staying focused. 

Sometimes the ball ends up int he sand trap.  Now it's a game of problem solving.  I may ask, why isnt this painting working?  I can draw from the vast info I've gained from the vast books I've read  and vast instructional DVD's I've watched and hopefully see where I've veered off.  Select the correct club to swish myself back onto the green and viola!  I'm back in the game!  A metaphor, of course.  

Keeping my head in the game IS the game.   It's not a game to be won... it's a game to be played.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Bings & Blooms

Bings & Blooms, 6x8 oil on canvas.  Bid on eBay
Warmer colors and warmer shadows seems to be the theme here.  I've fallen in love with warm shadows.  I used to subscribe to the "rule" of cool light, warm shadows, and vise versa but I've  since realized there is a lot more to painting than rules and technique.  At any rate, I DID chill up the light but only slightly.  Enough to say it is merely cooler than the shadows.  Most importantly, I'm happy with the result.  

How often can we say that?  Can anyone honestly say, "no regrets".. ever?  Doubtful.  And I certainly have mine.  I am working daily on that.  I recently read that painting with sensitivity requires living with sensitivity so it seems my painting will (hopefully) reflect more, much more, sensitivity in these current days and years to come. 

My experiences of caring for my mother these last 6 years have taught me a lifetime of lessons.  I only wish I had the "good fortune" to have learned them sooner in my own life and not have waited until I was nearly 50. 

I learned that my mother was a person.  Who knew?  She began as a little girl with a mother and father just like I did only in a hugely different culture.  She was raised in the Mid West in the 1930's, an only child in a town hardly big enough for a post office and one brick school housed k-12.  She was a fun loving teen and a beautiful young woman who married a handsome veteran of the Korean War.  Sadly, his new government job transferred them to the Pacific Northwest away from everything she knew.  Friends and family were a long distance call or snail mail away.  Every couple of years warranted a flight back for a visit.   A fleeting grasp on an otherwise lonely day to day existence. 

My mom had 3 kids in 4 years.  And she raised them without help from hardly anyone as everyone she knew and loved was 1500 miles away.  My dad was a good provider and her soul mate.  They subscribed to the early Midwest  culture as I saw it - Dad brings home the bacon and Mom fries it up in the pan.  If you know what I mean.  Mom did the bulk of the child rearing.  She did that out of respect and consideration for her hard working husband.  After all, we 3 kids were not planned and so a bit of a cog in the gears.  3 babies in 4 years would be a cog in anyone's gears.

I could blame all my woes on my mom.  A lot of us do.  I watch a lot of cop shows and that seems to be the cause for most of the serial killers.  Bad parenting.  I suspect my own children will carry some resentment towards my choices and parenting skills or lack there of.  And rightly so as I was a very young parent with little help myself and struggled from day to day like so many.  But I dont blame my mom for any of my faux pas.  I take full responsibility for my choices.  Apparently, I am a slow learner but the good news is that I eventually do learn. 

I have learned to look inside other people and not just at them.  I have learned discernment is more than simply analyzing behavior.  It's a sensitivity to why the behavior.  I've learned that we are molded by our past, what others have said and done to us and also by our hopes and dreams and how they pan out.  Not just me but everyone around me.  You and your neighbor too.  And the mailman.  And the annoying phone solicitors at 5 PM when you're trying to put dinner together.   We all have a history.  Good or bad it's our story.  How we read it is a whole 'nother animal.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Pitcher & Blueberries

Pitcher & Blueberries, 8x8 Oil on canvas.   Bid on eBay

This is from my stash.  I painted this in December and was saving it while I accumulated a body of work suitable for gallery representation.  I particularly liked the background in this one and the sexy, lost edges on my Longaberger pitcher.   I also love the arrangement of the blueberries; the way they pile then softly spill and gently roll away.  Some to the floor.  One was stepped on. Fruiticide is not uncommon in my studio.  :(  

This painting, as I said, is from December, my otherwise past life.  An era gone by.  A time forgotten.  This was a time when I was dodging visits to mom or else running her errands.  Buying her Ensures, taking her to dr appointments.  My husband took care of her bills while I did all the follow up calls to the incompetent billing departments who could never get the billing vs. payments straight.  That was then.  It seemed as though it could go on forever.  No end in sight.  Were it not for her Alzheimer's mom was in fairly good health and in her 70's.  I could see at least 10, maybe 20 more years of this.  So I settled in.  Got comfortable in my role.  Learned to love this new person and new responsibility to me.

And I did love her.  She was fragile and getting more so week by week.  She began losing weight.  Gradually but steadily.  She developed a bed sore.  No matter the care she received from her caregivers at the facility, it worsened.  In fact, became so bad it seemed to become the focus of attention.  Morphine was given and dressings were changed regularly but it persisted and worsened regardless.

I purchased a canister of protein supplement powder, the kind athletes use, to help her body repair the damage but it wasnt enough.  Especially since she began to refuse nourishment.  I was asked to consider hospice.  Hospice?  For my mom?  I could hardly believe what I was hearing.  Hospice always meant to me that a person was in the last days of their life.  I didnt see that as a reality.  What I saw was my mother degenerating but I accepted that it would likely go on for an inconceivably long time.

I spoke to hospice who did, in fact, admit her but I was told that many, many people will stabilize and "graduate" off of hospice. Some go off and on hospice several times.  So it was my new perception that mom just needed a little extra help to get her through this bed sore issue then she would probably, most likely, definitely "graduate back to her current status.

Hospice became a new era for me.  In this era I educated.  Sadly, we so often learn our valuable lessons far to late in life.  I wish I had be wiser sooner.  Here I was, 48 years old and only now realizing, really realizing, who my mother was.  I began to see her, not through the eyes of her child but as an individual watches another individual.  As her child, I couldnt see the forest for the trees.  But during the hospice interview, questions were asked which planted seeds in my thoughts.  Questions.  I evaluated mom from a whole new perspective.

Hospice changes things.  Mortality for one.  And if you will go there: retrospective.  The possibility of moms death was a springboard to the reality of her life.  And how the reality of her life molded mine. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Pears And Grapes #2,  Oil on Canvas. 

I have taken on a looser brush it seems.  It's interesting that as I write  the events of my past I see my painting techniques unfold in new patterns.  It has always been a goal of mine to paint looser.  Actually, I find that is a goal of many artists.  Not that painting photo-realistic is easier, but it seems the way of the beginner most of the time.  We learn to paint an apple by looking at the apple and then we paint what we see.  Loosening up requires a shift in the thought process.  For me anyway.  It would be unreasonable for me to assume how other artists approach their techniques.

I'm not sure if I can explain my process yet as I'm not sure I completely understand it myself.  It's like a place I go to when I'm painting where I dont have so many restrictions.  It's like no one is looking over my shoulder anymore and it's just for me.  I cant say for sure that I felt restricted before just that I feel less restricted now.  I dont know how long I will be able to achieve this technique or if it was accidental.  Only time will tell for sure.

If you will indulge me for a moment once again I'd like to explore another experience with mom.  When I first put her in assisted living, I had hoped that would solve much of my chaos.  In fact, it did not.  She called me daily.  Several times daily. Sometimes every 15 minutes.  She fell into a deep depression and I was told she needed a "more structured environment" aka: an Alzheimer's facility.  That was the last time she used my name.

I was told that moms dementia had escalated and the assisted living facility she was in gave her to much freedom and hence to many decisions to make thus causing her frustration and ultimately, fear and depression.  Dad was no longer there to call the shots and direct her.  Of course, I see that now.

The new facility was great.  The staff was loving and considerate to the residents.  Their aim was preserving dignity.  I saw that.  I also saw mom living amongst people nearly catatonic in some cases and 'delightfully addled" in others.  That worried me but mom never questioned any decisions I made.  She never argued with me.  In fact, she rarely talked anymore.  A few words at a time was all she could manage and often they were random words not relating to anything.  She was declining. 

I dont know if she remembered who I was and I was afraid to ask.  Visitation was harder and harder as I was the only one talking and I would run out of things to say quickly.  I learned to never ask questions.  It caused pain and frustration when she tried to answer.   I was responsible for her well being and I had no idea what I was doing.  I feared I was not doing enough.

It wasnt until several years later that I finally figured out the key.  Several years.  The things that went through my head in that time.  My mom was healthy were it not for her Alzheimer's.   Healthy enough anyway.  I didnt see an end in sight.  I didnt know if that was good or bad.  I had guilt.  I began to consider my own arrangements should I be diagnosed with the same disease.  I would not want it to drag out like this.  My mother was not thriving.  She was barely surviving.  I had no idea if she even remembered her faith.  She quit asking about dad.  She quit talking period.  She slept most of the time.  She ate only when the staff reminded her to.  Then she would sleep again.

My visits went from daily to weekly to every two weeks.  What difference did it make?  Everyday I'd count down the days until my next visit until I couldnt put it off anymore.  Then, after I left, a brief feeling of relief that I was okay for another two weeks.  I dreaded it.  Dont get me wrong, I loved my mom.   I hated what what happening to her.  I was an orphan in the making - or was I one already?

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Super Red Apple, 6x6 oil on canvas.  Bid on eBay.

This is a new palette for me.  I suppose it is analogous as the colors are side by side on the color wheel: red, orange and purple but with the added interest of reds compliment - green.  I think it gives the painting a dreamy appeal.  Subdued to a degree.  I see my palette coming down these days.  Gone are the chiaroscuro dramas or the high key explosively happy little pieces.   This painting is soft, romantic and, like I mentioned, dreamy.  In my opinion anyway.

I painted this about two weeks ago.   It was just before my husband whisked me away on a two week road trip to New Mexico.  I needed a vacation.  Or better said, I needed a distraction.

As I've mentioned in previous posts, my father passed away and I found myself in the position of caring for my mother who, it turned out, had Alzheimer's.  HAD.  As it turns out, when the primary caretaker of an Alzheimer's patient passes away (and they generally do when they are the spouse, it seems) the patient loses the one thing that keeps them grounded and can spiral downhill rapidly.  This was explained to me by the local Alz facility.   And spiral she did.  Within one week after dads death, it was clear mom was no longer who I thought she was.  Keep in mind, dad had never mentioned moms illness nor did he mention she was diagnosed by a neurologist several years previously.  But the elephant was in the room none the less.

So there I was with some hard choices to make without the backup of a diagnosis.  Sure, I took her to the dr.  The nurse said it was normal for her to have these lapses following the death of a spouse.   But I felt the nurse was not seeing the big picture.  The dr gave her a 10 min memory test - which she somehow passed and sent us home.   My life became pure chaos at that point.  Mom was definitely not fine.  I saw it and so did moms neighbor who eventually convinced me to do the unthinkable.  Put her in a home.  But even that wasnt enough.  

My life became a series of dr visits, facility visits.  Phone calls with lawyers, drs, nurses, CPA's, brokers, insurance agents.. you name it.  Every flat surface in my house was covered with moms paperwork in an effort to settle dads estate and care for mom.  Every day I had projects to deal with regarding moms health, well being and estate.  I had her home to clean (48 years of marriage) and prepare to sell, not to mention my own home and small farm to keep up.   I was taxed.  My brain was turning to mush.  I was unprepared for this and unqualified.  I do not do details.  I wanted things to go back to the way they were.  I wanted dad back and I wanted to pretend mom was fine, just fine.  I wanted to be selfish again.

Things were crazy but I knew they were not unique.  I was one in a hundred million other folks in the same desperate scenario.  And who was I to feel sorry for myself?  It was my mother who needed compassion.  She was the one who was losing her mind.  And she knew it.  She didnt understand what was happening and it scared her.  I knew what was happening and it really scared me.  I had a pretty good idea what lay ahead but I had no idea how long it would take.  All I could do was watch and wait.  I never told her she had Alzheimer's.   

Those were desperate times.  Keeping it together was a full time job.  Painting was a drug.  Once the brush was wet with paint the world could stop spinning and I would be none the wiser.  Those were my chiaroscuro days.   Thankfully (?), those days are behind me.



Monday, June 04, 2012

BluePearry #2

BluePearry #2, 6x6 oil on canvas.  Bid on eBay

This is a painting over a painting.  That's not unusual I'm told.  Many, many artists have done so.  Some to save on materials.  This wasnt a green project though.  I have an armory of canvas and back up of paint.  The only thing I ever lack would be subjects since I'm not a huge fruit eater just a fruit painter.

I painted over part of this painting because it wasnt right.  I had 2 pears.  And the background was light.  Bright.  I couldnt live with it and actually had it in the burn pile.  Generally, once a painting is dry, it's done.  I dont like painting on a dry surface. But if I was going to make this painting 'right' I was going to have to get over it and work it.  This was going to be a challenge for me and possibly take the fun out of it.   Yet, for whatever reason, I went for it.

I repainted the background taking out a pear.  I scraped off the new background leaving a mess.  I repainted again.  Nope.  Again - this time darker.  I stepped back.  Really?  Why so much effort for a 6x6?  Why not? I like the darker.  It works for me.  I like the way some of the blueberries disappear in the dark.  And I really like the pot bellied pear and the way it pops against the blues.  More paint.  Gotta see those brush strokes.  Just a tad of light in the upper right.  In order to do this right I had to remix blueberry and  pear colors  and repaint edges. 

At the end of the day, I was happy with my new painting, re-signed and put it aside to dry.

I put more effort into things these days.  Someone once told me, "if it's worth doing, it's worth doing right".  I've given that a lot of thought, believe it or not. Folding clothes, loading the dishwasher, day to day whatevers and most definitely - painting.  That saying creeps into my thoughts at the most inconvenient times it seems.  No more eeking by. No more scurrying through.  If I'm going to do it, I better do it right.  And once again I ask, "why not?"  What else am I going to do?  What's the hurry? 

I have the rest of my life to accomplish the rest of my life.  But what if I didnt?  What if the rest of my life was imprisoned in an uncooperative body unwilling and unable to accomplish - anything?  What if I have the Alzheimer's gene and lose my mind - literally?  Once the mind is gone, so is the body.  And then what?  I know what. I saw it.  I saw it from the beginning and when I questioned it I was told I was "making mountains out of mole hills".  But I had red flags.  I didnt brush off the indications that something was wrong.  After all, nobody asks the same question, word for word, with the same inflections, 3 times, only seconds apart when it's been answered each time.  I saw and I knew but buried it because dad was taking care of it.  He never mentioned it or asked for help so we could go about our selfish little lives none the wiser, even if we were. 

So I repainted Bluepearry #2.  Might as well get it right.  And I'm glad I did.  Who knows what tomorrow brings?

Monday, May 28, 2012

Bluepearry, 6x6 oil on canvas.  Bid on eBay

A little more on my history:  My artist friends can attest that my earliest work was, to say the least, ēmo.   A small sampling below:

 I played tenaciously with chiaroscuro.  At times losing the the lit edges entirely in the light and the shadow edges in the shadows.  I used to joke it was because there was no drama in my mundane life that I felt a need to interject it into my art.  ...?  Who can say that??  Certainly not me.  Not at the time anyway.  My father had died around that time and I had learned that he had covered for my mothers Alzheimer's like a pro.  I was left to care for her and that, boys and girls, was not mundane.  It was maddening, horrifying, and a multitude of other feelings I'd rather not explore right now.  

So as I progress through this retrospective period and analyze the daylight out of my work, I ask you, what is said about an artist through his/her work?  Look at Edvard Munch and The Scream.  On the other hand, consider Georgia O'Keeffe's work.    Is it color that we first respond to?  What do  brush strokes, choice of brush, or subject matter have to say?  What can be said about how we interpret and relate shadow and light?  How much can really be said without saying it at all?  

I've certainly traveled a few miles from my ēmo (short for emotional, by the way. An older buzz word for those who prefer to wear all black including black fingernail polish, black eyeshadow and so forth - as I understand it)  fruit.  I, myself, was never ēmo.  Not even close.  I was a soccer mom.  With a perm.  And a station wagon.  Actually, no.  By then the station wagon had evolved into an Acura I'm happy to say.  All in all I was, by and large, the average American homemaker, caring for her elderly mother.  One of many. One in a crowd.  A army of housewives, invisible to the world, caring for their elderly mothers dieing in care facilities. Dieing on the inside and the outside.  Losing touch with the world and themselves.  But I digress.

I was never ēmo.  Certainly not when I painted Bluepearry.  Nope.  By then I had come to terms with my reality.  I had bonded with the congregation of housewives across the world crushed with the reality of losing reality.  I had bonded to my reality and accepted it for what it was. I was now able to paint happy, rich, colorful little worlds on my little 6x6 canvases in the privacy of my 10x12 studio just behind my yellow house.   I could paint the same pear until it was worthy of the compost pile yet you would never see a scar or a bruise on one of my little pear paintings.  You would never know it was getting to the melting stages.  Decaying.  I would paint the heck out of that thing.

I still like chiaroscuro.  It no longer comes naturally for me though.  Or maybe I should say, I'm not drawn to it like I used to be.  That was an era.  A moment.  That was then.  

Today I list my Bluepearry.  The background is warm which is fairly odd to me.  And the foreground is cooler.  Even odder.  I've begun painting warm shadows and cool light.  I prefer that now, actually.  It's happy, I think.  And I think the pear is in charge - if you want to go there.  Or maybe it just looked right to place it as such and randomly scatter the little blueberries about.  It is what it is.   But I wonder what, if anything, it has to say..

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Crisp Trio, 6x6 Oil on canvas. Bid on eBay
After a much needed sabbatical from mid March through April I am happy to say I am back in the saddle, so to speak,  inspired and energized. 

Much has transpired since then.

I've been giving a lot of thought to my paintings and what others see.  I've heard many comments on various aspects such as "beautiful work!" and "juicy brushwork" as well as " full of color!".  All of which are much appreciated! :)  Who wouldn't want their ego stroked from time to time?  I wonder though, after a rather riveting conversation with a local gallery manager, what people feel when they see my work.  Granted, this is a painting of 3 apples.  What are you supposed to feel?  Hungry?  Maybe..  I glanced back through my digital files in the day view (that is - the most current upload listed at the top and descending by date to the first upload at the bottom of the file) what, if anything, is said about me through my paintings ~  Too deep??  Get used to it, I'm reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Repair and it's inspired an introspective approach to my own work ~Wikipedia says, "..Introspection (or internal perception) is the self-examination of one's conscious thoughts and feelings.[1]"

This particular painting is happy.  Satisfied.  Non threatening.  Maybe even sunny - cheerful.  The composition is non chaotic.  Simple, if you will, yet the apples are snuggled together.  Whatever that means. 

When I painted this, all was well.  My future was perhaps not defined but secure enough.  I had a degree of routine but not boring.   You see, at the time I painted this I was caring for my mother who had Alzheimer's.  Not by myself but with the help of a wonderful facility about 4 miles away.  My responsibilities were to love and visit her, pay her bills and the occasional trip to the doctor.  The easy part.  Sounds easy enough.  Visiting got harder as the disease progressed.  More can be said but at another time.  The point is - I knew my role and I performed it to the best of my ability. 

When I painted, I was alone in my studio and zoned in entirely on these three apples and their little nuances of color.  Everything else - gone.  Dissolved.  My Bose radio repeated the same 4 discs over and over yet I wouldn't even be aware of the discs changing.  In the zone.  You artists know what I'm talking about. 

I dont know what others see in this painting but I see someone who had come to know who she is/was.  Satisfied with that.  Maybe even happy with it.  Definitely comfortable.  It had taken a while to get there but I had arrived.  These apples are a testimony to that. 

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Blueberry Spill

Blueberry Spill, 6x8 oil on canvas. Bid on eBay.
My cup, she runneth over. Again with the blueberries and likely more coming. Love the mystery in the darks and the hazy blues in the lights.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Blueberry Mound

Blueberry Mound, 4x6 oil on canvas. Bid on eBay
These are the ones that didn't roll off onto the floor. Sometimes I lose a few when I'm working with blueberries as they want to scatter rather than mound like I have them in this painting.

But when it's all said and done, we have the rich, deep purples that are blueberries.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Crisp Quartet

Crisp Quartet, 6x8 oil on canvas. Bid on eBay
I found my self painting these little beauties several times in preparation for a larger painting. These multi colored apples provide a certain challenge that I wanted to get right.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Cherry Chaos

Cherry Chaos, 6x8 oil on canvas. Bid on eBay
I love cherries. What can I say. So here we are again with cherry spillage this time flirting with a complementary green background. I'm also lovin' my ceramic and china creamers. I may have to get a collection going. Or maybe I already have one... :)

Monday, February 27, 2012

Blueberry Cream

Blueberry Cream, 6x8 oil on canvas. Bid on eBay
This particular creamer came from my maternal grandmothers set that I inadvertently ended up with when my paternal aunt passed away. My cousin was gracious enough to pack up the entire 12 piece setting along with several miscellaneous items and ship it three quarters of the way across the US. All I had to do was pay shipping! Of course once it arrived, I had to go shopping for a cabinet to hold and display it all... bummer, huh? :)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Cherry Spill

Cherry Spill 6x8 oil on canvas. Bid on eBay
Again, mass chaos on the counter/shadow box that is my still life set up. Cherries across the board. And some tumbling onto the floor because as I dump them into the cup and allow them to spill - spill they do.
On a sad note, these cherries died a natural death in the fridge after a high-spirited and vigorous modeling career for a devoted, albeit, obsessive artist. :)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Pinks & Bronze

Pinks & Bronze Tin, 8x6 oil on canvas. Bid on eBay
This little bronze urn used to hold my chapstick tubes by the front door but was recently upgraded to a studio prop. Such is the way of many odds and ends around here. Husband and I just got back from the Home Show in Seattle where we gawked at the little cottage like sheds. Many with storage attics which now look really good to me as my prop pile begins to take over my studio...

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Pinks & Cherries

Pinks & Cherries, 8x8 oil on canvas. Bid on eBay.
A few free spirited cherries and a small bouquet. Quietly romantic. :)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Cherries & Heirloom Creamer

Cherries & Heirloom Creamer, 8x10 oil on canvas. Bid on eBay.
Once again, it appears cherries are having recess all over my counter top. The creamer is from my grandmother and was passed on to me several years ago. Grandmas can have cool things.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Pop Of Red

Pop Of Red, 4x6 oil on canvas. Bid on eBay.
A happy little painting of one of my favorite subjects - cherries! A nice break from the eye-crossing roses I had been working on which, while challenging at first, I now have a better understanding of their complex shapes. Clearly, cherry shapes are less complex but can still say so much in a small space! :)

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Red Rose Keepsake

Red Rose Keepsake, 8x10 oil on canvas, bid on eBay
Again, another attempt at roses. This time I got smart and purchased some beautiful silk flowers at the local florist shop. My last red roses didnt even open so I had to find a more economical solution if I'm going to perfect these. These silks are fabulous! The buds and flowers are really lifelike. The leaves, not so much. I have to do some improvising there but as I like to say, " How do we eat an elephant? One bite at a time..." :)

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Rose Impressions

Rose Impressions, 6x6 oil on canvas. Bid on eBay
I think this little bouquet of pink roses is just about bloomed out. An impressionistic and energetic version of my three pinks fully bloomed. Time to find a new bouquet.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Cup O' Roses

Cup O' Roses, 6x6 oil on canvas. Bid on eBay
As I said in an earlier post, I'm working on roses. Trying to achieve the general shape and feel of the layers while maintaining a fresh, impressionistic look. I think I'm beginning to get a feel for the the general shape now. It is still a bit overwhelming but I'm confident that with time and effort I'll get more comfortable with them.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Three Minis

Three Minis, 4x6 oil on canvas. Bid on eBay. I'm not sure how many more paintings I can squeeze out of this little bouquet of pinks. Not exactly quality flowers from the grocery store so I have touse a bit of artistic license here.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Cherries Overboard 2

Cherries Overboard 2, 8x8 oil on canvas. A second but slightly different version of my first Cherries Overboard.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Electric Plums

Electric Plums, 6x8 oil on canvas. Bid on eBay
I heisted the plums from a photo used for a workshop painting then inserted my teapot and grapes. Generally, I like to work from life but veered off the path today for this little electric painting. I'll be back to painting roses tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Cup O' Cherries

Cup O' Cherries 6x6 oil on canvas. Bid on eBay
A minor break from roses today as I console myself with the familiar.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Heirloom Bouquet

Heirloom Bouquet, 8x8 oil on canvas. Bid on eBay
Another attempt at a floral arrangement. I particularly like the warm shadows used in the pitcher/vase and the energy in the background. This is one of those little "Bliss Bouquets" you can pick up at Safeway so I dont know how long it will last in the studio. I'm going to try to squeeze as many paintings out of it as I can before the flowers are completely 'done'.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Rose Tea

Rose Tea 6x6 oil on canvas. Bid on eBay
Weeeelllll, I'm giving roses another go around. We are approaching February so why not (Valentines Day, right?)? I'll tell you why not. They are a real challenge! So many layers and petals that my eyes blur trying to get it all straight. But, I figure, after doing a hundred or so, I might get the hang of it. So if you'll just have a little patience and bear with me for a few posts (or a hundred) I'm sure I'll get the hang of it.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Clems & Lems

Clems & Lems, 4x6 oil on canvas. Bid on eBay
Clementines & a lemon cluster around this little tin. Another great exercise in painting brass. These little babies are always fun to paint. I love working with orange and red and my newest paint color: cad yellow deep. A BEAUTIFUL addition to my palette!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Orange & Ladle

Orange & Ladle 4x6 oil on canvas. Bid on eBay
This rather impressionistic painting was fun and I believe successful. The ladle, for whatever reason, was the biggest challenge but I'm happy with the results. Overall, it's the looseness and subtle color and value changes that give me the greatest pleasure with this painting.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Cherries Overboard

Cherries Overboard, 8x8 oil on canvas. Bid on eBay
This is the first of 2 paintings with this arrangement. I don't usually add table cloths and linens mostly because I don't use them in my home so it doesn't come naturally. I thought it would be a good exercise to explore folds and see how far I can push the highlights before it going to far. I think I may have to incorporate this in some of my larger paintings as it is a great tool for adding a degree of rhythm and of course guiding the eye to the focal point.