Garden Ingredients

There are very few dishes that do not benefit from a tomato and a green bell-pepper. I love to use them in omelets, on pizza, in spaghetti sauce, soups, stews, and, of course, salads. In the Summer, they are prized picks out of a backyard garden.

They also appear often in paintings. They have round and oval shapes, along with, as many deviations in shapes as there are tomatoes and green peppers. I took an art class in 11th grade in high school, and the tomato was our first “model” on the first page of everyone’s drawing tablet, drawn with a freshly sharpened #2 pencil. I was surprised at the large tomato’s complexity, its need to be shaded so that the lumps at the top were well defined. I swear, that our 4-foot 10-inch art teacher was wearing a smug smile as we hunkered down to find a way to get it all represented on paper. Because, I know, I was one of the students that took out my pencil with total confidence and put away a pencil that was equally worn at the point, and the eraser end. And, the paper? Dreadfully thin!

Enlightened and humbled. Art class was a place to receive a critique that was breathtakingly positive one week, and fall to the bottom of the pile the next week. And, yes, in that respect, life still imitates art!!

“Garden Ingredients” is an 8×10 oil on canvas-board and part of the “Painting Today” series.

Thanks for stopping by to see what’s cooking at Artsprings!

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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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Prom Dress

I was already smitten with this dress, when the model walked on the stage last night. The dress looked like it was straight out of Vogue, with a fan-folded front, a form-fitting bodice, and a hem that hit the floor. Behind the fan-front is a one-shoulder-strap bodice, which is hidden behind the “fan”.

Wow! And the veil, with the white flower, and the very short hair and delicate features, was a lovely combination to send all the artists in the room into Painting Nirvana.

During one of the breaks, the model was talking to one of the other artists sitting near me. She was explaining to the other gal that this was her Prom dress from just a few short weeks ago!

So this IS a very special dress! Today, as I was finishing the background, I found my thoughts floating back to my own senior prom. I didn’t have a clue what life outside of high school would look like. I could feel the forward motion, but I had no idea where this magical thing called “future” would lead.

So I added clouds to the background (wispy, hazy clouds of becoming an adult, looking for dreams, finding and losing love, making mistakes and winning when it was least expected). So much to look forward to, and yet, not being able to see it, through a cloud of childhood and family security.

With grace, beauty and a good share of confidence, here comes another candidate to seize her dreams and make them come true, in her “Prom Dress”.

“Prom Dress” is an 11×14 oil on canvas-board. It is part of a “Painting Today” series. Thanks for stopping by to wish our new graduate a happily successful life!

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The Zen of the Navajo Pottery

While I was still showing my work at First Friday, I came upon an older Native American man, and his grandson, setting up their display tent for First Friday. They were selling Navajo pottery, and the older gentleman was busy scoring the circle decoration on a pot he was finishing for the event.

The pot was big and beautiful, the feather decorations, all in a row, were the same size, and it occurred to me that he had no markings to go by! The feathers were being put into the pot freehand. His body rocked to the movement of the instrument he was carving with. He was humming softly, and I was bursting at the seams to talk to him about his work. How do you? Why do you? Aren’t you afraid?

Finally, he looked up, smiled, and said, “Hello”. I barraged him with all my questions, along with some well-deserved complements for his work. He simply told me that he enters a state of trust, that his hand will be guided by forces inside him, and that the feather pattern will meet up and match where he started. “It takes patience,” he added gently, but pointedly!

Every time I look at a Navajo pot, I think of that wise man, his concentration and skill that he claimed came from an inner source. I have come to refer to this force as the “Zen of Navajo Pottery”.

In order to illustrate my point I have placed one of my Navajo pots with my Buddha Light. Patience and giving up the conscious mind for inner guidance seems to be the wisdom of more than one culture.

The “Zen of Navajo Pottery” is a 9×12 oil on canvas-board and is part of the “Painting Today” series.

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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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Cheers to Cherries

If the hot weather, or the kids being home from school, has not convinced you that it is Summer, the grocery store also says that it is Summer and has the cherries to prove it.

I love the deep reds and the shiny skin that throws happy twinkles of light everywhere. It’s no surprise that someone came up with the saying that, “Life is a bowl of cherries”! And, yes, there will be pits, but the taste of cherries is worth it.

I think that stopping along Summer’s path to paint the cherries was worth it, too. It gave me a chance to showcase my rose-colored wineglass, full of lively little cherries!

A toast to Summer and all the adventures we can pack into it!

“Cheers to Cherries” is an 8×10 oil on canvas-board and is part of the “Painting Today” series. “Like” my Artsprings page on Facebook and you will be entered into my painting giveaway, when my Artsprings Facebook page gets 50 subscribed “Likers”. If you win, you get your favorite painting from the “Painting Today” series. Even if you live out of the Phoenix area, shipping will be free! Yes, it’s my first shameless advertising promotion and it won’t be my last. So, start clicking that “like” button today.

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Annie considers me to be her human. I am well-trained, I come when I am called and she has taught me how to pet her even when I’m doing something “human”.

She was one of two newborn kittens, we found in our front yard, with no mama fending for them. So, we increased the cat population in our household by two, and bought animal baby bottles, kitten formula and fed them for about 5 weeks until they were on kitten chow. We had deluded ourselves into thinking we would give them away when they were weaned. We must have weaned ourselves off of that idea!

Now, we have them both and I was casting about for Today’s Painting, and I made Annie my victim for today. The things that a human, even a well-trained human, will do to their cat!

“Annie” (in this case, the name of the oil painting, not the cat) is an 8×10 oil on canvas-board and is part of the “Painting Today” series.

Thanks for looking and we hope to see you back real soon.

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Baby’s Toes

“Baby’s Toes” are a child’s first toy, their first big discovery. They are the first thing in baby’s life that they can control all by themselves.

Mama captured the moment on film, and gave me a copy to paint someday. Well, today’s the day!

So sweet to be able to lie on her back and curl her fingers around her toes, and make a face at the camera.

“Baby’s Toes” is an 8×10 oil on canvas-board, part of the “Painting Today” series.

Thanks for coming over to play peek-a-boo with the brand new baby.

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I had an unusual night at Scottsdale Artist School last night. I got there on time (that means early), I had all my stuff (including paper towels), and I painted the model well enough that I’m going to share my painting here on Artsprings.

That is a fantastic night for me, which I celebrated with a stop at “Filiberto’s” Mexican restaurant on my way home! Yeah, “Fiesta”, baby!

But, back to Nick! It was his first time modeling, ever. He did very well. I was mentally flipping the coin of “portrait” or “full figure”. I stopped at somewhere between 3/4 and 4/5, just so I could draw a big enough head to get in some detail, still do the torso, try to have a good perspective on the knees and elbows, and fold this tall, lanky body into a chair. Mission accomplished! Practice does not always make perfect, but it does allow for improvement.

I hope Nick had a fun night and that I will see him again in studio somewhere?

This is an 11×14 oil on canvas-board and is a part of the “Painting Today” series. Thanks for stopping by.

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