Archive for the ‘ Small Works ’ Category

Peacock, Complete

All done.

IMG_2078I’ll set it aside to dry for a few days, then varnish. Deliver to my friend. It’s small – 5×7″ – and I think it will do well framed. I’d be tempted to give it a velvet double mat and an ornate and dark bronze-colored frame. Or go the other way, a pencil thin black metal rim. It will be her choice – she’s an interior decorator with an excellent eye. She’ll know exactly how to present it for her maximum pleasure.

Peacocks x 2

Working on a small white peacock painting. It started out as one thing and morphed, as these projects often do. I sanded the first version after the first layer of paint. IMG_2046

The result is something I don’t want to alter, but not what I intended, so I am doing a second one. I’ve been building up a background of blues.

IMG_2029My source is the background of a 1556 portrait by Limosin of Henri D’Albert, King of Navarre. The King had limpid blue eyes, of which he was no doubt quite vain, the mottled cobalt and Paynes grey background is a wonderful setting.

Four Down, Two to Go

Four of the small painting are done, two sets of thematic twins. The photos were taken at the end of the day, making them slightly blue and dim.

First set are elements of hunting, which I was familiar with from childhood. My father and uncles were hunters. We ate dove and quail, and venison was traded for country ham.

These shotgun shells were for my father’s 1958 Browning Sweet Sixteen shotgun. I’ve left the wood panel visible behind the image.

Sixteen Gauge, oil on wood panel, 5×7″

Brace of Doves, oil on canvas, 6×6″


Next, a pair of cupcakes.

Baking Bad, oil on wood panel, 5×7″

My comment on the addictive nature of sugar. Using a 30-06 bullet for the candle tells you what I think of crystal meth.

Make a Wish, oil on wood panel, 5×7″

Two more to go, one of a sliced tomato and another cupcake. Varnishing will work its magic and I think I’ll stain the wooded edges the color of dark honey.

Make a Wish

Today I did the  final round on Doves, including the background. I might add a highlight here and or there, but it’s what I was going for.

Afterwards I had an hour of energy left, so I worked on the sky and place more leaf/masses of green on Target Practice.

Now for a left turn. I am unhappy with the calla lily, though I will soldier on to the bitter end, so I’ve decided to paint a cupcake. The only thing left to decide is what I’m going to substitute for the ubiquitous candle. My candidates are a hollow point bullet, a wishbone, lit fuse, knife, and an artist’s brush. Thanks to invaluable suggestions from Ruth and Robin.

I’ve got the wishbone (we are subsequently eating rotisserie chicken for dinner) and can probably pick up a single bullet from the gun range. The other idea I have is to balance a mini-cupcake on top of the hourglass I use in so many of my paintings.

I auditioned cupcakes this afternoon and brought home a coconut, carrot cake, and red velvet. What they have in common is a variation on white frosting, which I wanted. I can make it as cute as I want to, given the switch out with the candle.


Did the tomato background. Wanted to go light, so I used a little violet, sap and thalo blue in the shadows color. It’s going to take at least one more layer. Did another round on the tomatoes themselves. Maybe two more to go, one that will be all highlights.

Did a second round on the calla lily. I want more of a value contrast between the lily and and the background. I’ll get more layers on the petals before I give up and paint the background. Or maybe a stain?

Small & Smaller

Taking a break from the Browning Shotgun series to work on a few small pieces for the Swan Coach House Gallery’s annual Little Things Mean A Lot holiday show. Everything must be 8×8″ or smaller.  I pulled elements from still lifes – a calla lily from QWERTY, a box of vintage shotgun shells, and a brace of doves from Sweet Sixteen, and a typewriter ribbon from Herald Square. I added a sliced tomato because I like painting them.

Went to Binders and chose a variety of shapes and grounds; three 5×7″ wood panels, a 6×6″canvas on wood and a 6×8″ masonite board. My notion was to paint quick, loose oil sketches, and to leave the wood panel backgrounds unpainted. First reality check – realizing I needed three sanded coats of gesso placed precisely beneath the area to be painted. That was the end of ‘quick.’

First, the vintage box of shotgun shells on basswood panel, 5×7″. I abandoned the idea of loose, though it won’t be to my usual finish. Some edges are wobbly and a couple of ellipses aren’t right yet, but I’ll fix that on the next round. And there is lettering yet to come. Maybe four days in all? Hanging on to the idea of not painting the wood panel background, but that may change. My plan for the wood sides is to rub on a very light coat of stain – thinking a dark honey.

Best time I had today was painting the pair of doves on a 6×6″ canvas on board. Did a faint drawing first, then painted wet on wet. This is what works as a loose oil sketch – feathers, in three tones. Once it dries I’ll do a bit of layering and highlighting, because I cannot resist the textured edges of the feathers.

I’ve done two passes on the tomato on the 6×8″ masonite panel. Need a couple layers on the background, and probably another four rounds on the tomatoes themselves, though they might surprise me.

Tomorrow I’ll start the calla lily on a 5×7′ basswood panel. The panel is gessoed, sanded and ready to go. The lily’s appeal lies in its sensuous curve, subtle variations of pale neutrals, and a tiny flash of green stem. The simplicity of it should work well with the wood panel background.

The fun of this show for me, is trying things out. Plus the near instant gratification of seeing an idea through in the space of a few weeks instead of multiple months.

Maple leaves, letter blocks, and bracelets.

After a week of fever and chills, recovery has been steady enough for me to reopen the studio. Progress feels slow, but nothing tempts me to activity like a beckoning canvas. This morning I dabbed in maple leaves by the score, and heightened some reds and yellows. I keep piling on the detail and find there is so much more I can add.

Thursday I tweaked the letter blocks and the the edges of books. I did a general layer of gray on the feather with the intention of adding a layer of white and scratching through the wet paint to build texture. Also added a glaze to the illuminated manuscript. The drape needs a deepening of scarlet shadow and another round of brights and shadowed edges on embroidery.

Finally, dabbed away at the small jewelry painting. It’s a silver and obsidian bracelet of my mother’s, souvenir of a 1940s trip to Mexico, and a silver bangle from a trip into Morocco I took in the seventies. The earrings are a pair of silver mounted typewriter keys. If I don’t use my own initials, I think I will use A and Z, or possibly Shift and Floating Key.

I have two drawings ready to go, but haven’t decided which one to begin next.




Happy morning in the studio.
Worked long and hard on the grassy hill textures and colors. Hope I’ve finished the clouds painting. Now I only have to decide on a title. Cloudy (working title), Fool On The Hill, or 7:30am. I’m leaning toward the last one. This is not a meteorological piece, it’s about the modest feeling of accomplishment upon reaching the summit of a climb, combined with that glory hallelujah moment just after dawn. A sense that God’s in his heaven, all is right with the world.


I emptied out three drawers full of source photos, sorted them into series, and stuck them in folders. (Good news for my inner organizer; I bought a five-drawer flat file at a yard sale. Robert is going to attach wheels and I am going to fill that puppy up.) I selected another image from the Metamorphosis series, a version of National Geographics, dominoes and a Magic 8-ball.
Here’s the canvas and photo both gridded and ready to draw.


Finally, as I was clearing things out I came across a small canvas with the drawing done that I never got around to. The kind of thing that’s perfect for the Small Works shows in December. Figured why not? and knocked out a start. It’s not exactly the same as the source, (pushed the earrings in on the left and the bracelet in on the right), but that doesn’t intimidate me. Ask me again three passes from now.


Delft, updated

Finished the Delft, Updated group. I’m the one holding the doll. Daughter Emily. a creative geyser, is drawing with sidewalk chalk, son Parker is on the swing, and daughter Robin is blowing bubbles. It’s been interesting to explore something outside my usual interests – like line paintings in classic Delft blue.
Also I started putting together a new a postcard with some of my latest works, this blog address and my gallery contact information.

three shows in three months

Since I last posted, I’ve been working on an unplanned series paintings that have me so juiced up and excited that I hate to waste time sleeping.
Here’s what happened-
I made up my mind last week to throw something into the MOCA GA (Museum of Contemporary Art, Georgia) pin-up show that opens tonight. I took a sheet of papyrus paper and gridded it with chalk and did a small oil painting of Rembrandt’s staircase. It’s all dark earthy reds and honey colored woods rising into the dark, with a thick ship’s rope for a handrail. The limit of size for the show is 12×16,” I left the edge of the papyrus raw. Working on an unfamiliar surface was really freeing. And it’s doing something that’s completely from my heart, and which carries three meanings for me – Rembrandt (art), steps (progress) on Papyrus (writing).

Another small works exhibition is going to be at the Dalton Gallery (a local non- profit college museum) and the deadline to submit work is Monday, Nov 24. Up to ten pieces, but nothing larger than 6×6.” I bought 6 5×5″ panels and am doing a series. These will be tiny, like a pages from a book of prayer. I’ve painted four and have two more to finish, photoshop, burn to a disc and get over to the gallery by Monday. Exhilarating to work this fast and this hard. No time for doubts or second guessing though, so in some ways it’s easier.

Meanwhile my gallery, Huff Harrington Fine Art asked for some ‘smalls, ( 8×8″) for their December show. I am thinking about a wall of Delft tiles I saw in A’dam of children playing games. I’d like to do a set of four and somehow update the central figures while keeping old cracked and mottled 17th century cream background, and the Delft blue. Most of the fun will be in creating the surface textures of a three hundred year old cracked and chipped tile. Due the end of the month or as soon as I can send them over.
So – that’s why I haven’t blogged and that’s why I’m headed into the studio right now.