Arcadia Iris

When I was living in downtown Phoenix, I lived in a small apartment complex, called “Arcadia Apartments”, off of Central Avenue and Camelback Road. It was hidden away in an old, mid-century building from the “boom era” of high-style 1950′s Phoenix architecture. A quiet, retro neighborhood, where you could still hear the “clang clang” of the Metro Light Rail Trolley, as it pulled up to the 7th Avenue Station.

In the Spring, one year, I noticed that there were some flower stalks rising up from in front of the building next to mine, by the main entrance. They looked like tulips, at first, with the divided spear-like flat leaves, but when the flowers came up and rose above the height that tulips get, with buds that were definitely Not tulips buds, I knew this was going to be an interesting flower.

Finally, came the morning — (I’m out there every morning walking the dog!) — when it bloomed. I ran back for my camera (and my film!) and shot half a roll of film on this Iris. I took the photos that I got back and finally chose the shot I liked best.

When I laid out the flower on canvas, I realized that painting a flower this close up was very much like doing an abstract painting. It was easy to look at the parts of the flower separately and not assimilate them all into one integrated whole. At least, not until you backed up about 5 to 10 feet!

This is why I liken doing a floral as the same as doing a portrait. Every flower, at close range, is unique. Iris’ are very different with all the lumps, bumps and ridges, which makes them intricate, as well.

So, here she is, in all her abstract glory. “Arcadia Iris” is an 11×14 oil on canvas, and is part of the “Previous Works” series. Thanks for indulging my inner “Georgia O’Keefe”!

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Josefina Maria

It’s been almost 3 years since we welcomed a new puppy into our lives! I decided that any puppy with such a proud Mexican heritage deserves a name big enough to grow into. Here’s a breed named after a whole State in Mexico, the “Estado” of Chihuahua. So after thinking about all the possibilities, I chose “Josefina Maria” and gave her the nickname of “Josi”. She was adorable, with just the tips of her ears bent over at 6 weeks, and fitting comfortably in the palm of my hand with her tiny front paws folded around my finger as she laid there, taking in her new world.

By 8 weeks, her ears stood up all the way, she was trying to make friends with the cats, and she would roll on her back to get my attention. With her paws flailing in all directions, she would use all of her “appeal” to get attention. Then, one day, I sketched her in her little ruse to get attention, and then made a painting from the sketch.

Josi is still quite the “attention hound” and loves everybody (making friends with new people easily). She is quite outgoing for a Chihuahua, and we just love to take her places. One of her favorite places is First Friday Art Walk in downtown Phoenix. She happily rides on Daddy’s arm watching the crowd for that special person who will stop to pet her. What a ham!

So, here is Josi, caught in mid roll as the happy puppy.

“Josefina Maria” is a 12×12 oil on canvas and is part of the “Previous Works” series.

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Three Pears

These pears were painted on a prepared Masonite board. It was my first board painting, and it will not be the last.

The technique is to smoothly sand the board to a polished surface and use Acrylic Gesso to bond to the surface and provide the “bed” for the oil paint to adhere to.

Did you know that the Mona Lisa was painted on a board made of Poplar wood and not canvas? It is painted on a 30×21 board and is housed in The Louvre, an art museum, in Paris, France. The painting hangs in a glass case that has it’s own “atmosphere”, in order to preserve it.

This is my first experience painting with “oil on board”. Oils glide over the smooth surface and offer hardly any resistance to the brush. Canvas, being fabric, has, what is known as, “tooth”. “Tooth” refers to the weave and it’s ability to “catch” the paint in the woven fabric. Canvas has tooth, while board has hardly any.

So, painting the Three Pears almost had the feel of finger painting, with the swirl of paints gliding over a resistance-free surface. I’ve got to do more with this medium, it was very enjoyable.

Hope you enjoyed the pears and reading about board paintings. These fellows are fat, colorful and fun to paint.

See you soon with more paintings on Artsprings! “Three Pears” is a 6×8 oil on board. It is part of the “Previous Works” series.

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Colorado Golden Girl

Remember in the movie, “Dirty Dancing“, when Patrick Swayze catches the girl? Did you catch your breath? Did your heart skip a beat? Then the music starts with “I had the time of my life …”.

Well, I did have the time of my life. It was American Artist’s, “Weekend with the Masters“. Three days of classes with the likes of Sherri McGraw, Mary Whyte, Jeremy Lipking, David Leffel, Scott Christensen and more than that!

I decided that this was my bucket list of instructors, and I was going! It was the first annual event, held at the foothills of Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in 2009. I signed up for two classes with David Leffel, a lecture with Scott Burdick and another demonstration with Scott Christensen.

I spent a whole day with Kevin MacPherson plein air painting in the Garden of the Gods, and an afternoon painting class with Sherri McGraw. I walked on air. I was given “hands on” instruction.

With every breath, I was more inspired by the immersion into such talent and skill! If only one could improve their abilities by an osmotic process, this would be it. Even Richard Schmid graced the 7:00 PM lectern to welcome us and tell his stories of paintings, family and teaching. I could not believe I was actually here, and there were moments I just wanted to pinch myself.

One of my afternoons was taken up with a class by Sherri McGraw. She trotted out three different models, all dressed very interestingly. She then placed one on each wall of the room and told the class to paint or draw the model nearest to them. This is the model that I painted. I was trying to assimilate new techniques, advice on shading, shadow and light. Although the effort did not live up to my expectations, I still could see where practice could bring my paintings to a new level. Sherri McGraw is not only an accomplished artist, but she shines as a teacher, as well.

This painting is a cherished memento of my “Weekend with the Masters”. Meet the “Colorado Golden Girl” an 11×14 oil on canvas painted in the Great State of Colorado. Thanks for stopping by today!

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Turned Away

One of my faults, that annoys me the most, is my undeniable skill at being late. I am going to write it into my Will that my casket must be rolled in at least 15 minutes after the service gets started. That better get a laugh!

This painting is a fine example of my being late. The only easel left at The Loft that day was the one she was completely faced away from. I remember staring at her figure and mentally yelling at myself for not getting here 10 minutes early, for once!

Then, I noticed something about the model. How delicate she looked! How almost shy the gesture made her seem from my point of view. All of a sudden, I felt like I had the best seat in the house! Porcelain skin, delicate curves and grace. That is what I want to draw!

“Turned Away” is an 11×14 oil on canvas-board. It’s my “Happy I was Late” painting. Thanks for stopping by.

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Sydney

For awhile my husband and I raised and kept a small flock of chickens in our backyard. We kept only hens because roosters are way too noisy for a residential area. Roosters crow at dawn. They crow at 2am or 1am or any other time a noise wakes them up! The neighbors need their sleep, and so did we!

So, we had 4 to 5 hens, and they laid eggs at a rate of about 1 egg every day each. They had a “chicken barn” in the backyard with perches about 4 feet off the ground and nesting boxes on the one end, chicken feed and water on the other end.

Sydney was an Australorp, a breed of chicken developed in Australia, hence, the name – Sydney. She was a big chicken with Jet Black feathers that shimmered green and blue in the sun.

Friendly and smart, she was used to food and cuddles in the morning. Chickens really get used to attention and will even come when they are called.

Anyway, I had some pictures of my chickens, and I choose Sydney’s picture because I really wanted to depict Sydney’s beautiful iridescent feathers.

“Sydney” is an 11×14 oil on canvas. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to say, “Look! There’s a chicken!”, a phrase common around here because I’m a little bit Attention Deficit.

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Sign of Water

“Sign of Water” is an 8×10 oil on canvas-board. I painted this piece in Estrella Mountain Park, a natural desert preserve West of Phoenix, off of Interstate 10.

Painting outdoors is known in the painting world as “plein air” painting. This is French, meaning “outdoors”. Claude Monet, a french impressionist painter from the late 1800′s & early 1900′s, painted with the portable wooden easel with fold out legs and pullout drawer to stow paints and brushes. It is known today as a “french easel”. Monet believed that the way the light fell on a subject was the way it should be represented in a painting, and the only way to do this accurately was … “en plein air”!

Plein air is just as popular today. There are organized paint outs all over Arizona, two of the best are the annual paint outs in Sedona and the Grand Canyon.

I love to paint plein air, and I am amazed at all the different terrain we have in Arizona from the Sonoran Desert to the pine-topped San Francisco Peaks!

The next time I go plein air painting, I want to document the adventure for Art Springs (Facebook), so I can share it with you.

I’m thinking it will be up North because the Valley will soon be heating up in the June sun!

Thanks for stopping by to see what I have been doing. Don’t be afraid to leave a comment. I would love to hear from you!

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Girl on the Bus

I was riding on the bus one cold afternoon in downtown Phoenix, and I saw this girl across from me; I wanted to draw her. Broaching the subject of becoming a model is not my forte … on a bus … in Phoenix … without a business card that says: “Yes, she paints paintings, she is not perverted!” So, I did the next best thing. I stared at her all the way to my stop, so I could memorize her features and, at least, try to do the portrait I saw in my mind.

Staring works well, if you can do it without being noticed. When she did notice, I was happy to think I could go ahead and stop looking. Gosh, artists are weird people! Especially, the ones on the bus! This is a 6×6 oil on canvas.

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Jeremiah

In honor of Memorial Day, I’m posting the painting I did as a gift for Jeremiah’s mother. I hope my painting reflects my respect for all our soldiers and the service they give to our country. Thank you, one and all for your service and your sacrifice.

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Purple Orchid Line Dance

I wanted an orchid to paint as a project last spring. One of the supermarkets close to me had potted orchids for sale in their floral department. One day, I walked in and noticed that they had dropped the price. So, I bought one!

About a week later, I started this painting. Orchids have many beautiful varying shapes. The shape of this one seems to be the most common, but I loved the purple color.

I still have the orchid, and maybe next year when she blooms again, she will sit for another portrait! This painting is a 16×20 oil on canvas. Enjoy!

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