Dec 10, 2010

Sculpture class nearing end

I finished my head today (afraid to do anything else to it).  Next week we cut the top off and take out the newspaper stuffing prior to drying and firing it.  I had so much fun I am going to do another head.  I already have the pictures taken of one of our caregivers, Marian.  She has great cheekbones so it will be fun to do.  I haven't given up painting.  Just caught up in holiday madness.  After Jan. 1 I can get back to the easel.

Dec 3, 2010

Two more sculpture classes to go.

We are hurrying to get our clay heads done so they can dry over the holidays.  Then firing in the kiln. Pretty exciting.  Our model has been so patient and accomadating.

Dec 2, 2010

The struggle to sell a pig...

 The painting I started 10 years ago in oil has vexed me after I unearthed it from storage,  I struggled to correct the perspective and wasn't successful.  If it wasn't such a big canvas I would have pitched the thing in the ditch.  My momma said "finish what you start" so I finished it with acrylics and am done with the @#$%& thing for a while!  I'll pretend it is an abstract and enjoy the colors until I can face it again.

Nov 27, 2010

Re-working old paintings

Still sorting the storage cage I found the biggest canvas I have ever worked on (30x48).  I laughed at the size of it with so little on it! I think I was afraid to put things in it I didn't yet know how to paint.   I also realized the sun was coming from the opposite direction of how I had painted the pig.  So the pig has been repainted, and now I am deciding how to make the painting more interesting.  At some point I will post the finished (?) product.

Nov 24, 2010


I ran across some cow photos by Frans Roes in Woophy (Woophy stands for WOrld Of PHotographY, a website founded by a Dutch collective of photo aficionados and internet designers who believe navigation on internet can be more visual, logical and associative.)  With Roes' permission I combined two of the photos into a painting, "Moo".

Nov 18, 2010

TV Skull

Often I will watch something on TV that my husband likes, just to be with him.  During several sessions I took a magic marker to a model skull and just had fun with it. Next I think I'll do a coyote skull.

Nov 15, 2010

Sculpture Continued

It is amazing how different the head I am working on looks six feet away from me.  And just when I think I have each side of her face just right, I look at her head on and it is wacko. Sigh.  No wonder my instructor says it will probably take 13 weeks instead of ten.

Nov 11, 2010


I have two storage rooms full of paintings.  Some will have to go.  I sorted and chose several that were from early learning time and am painting over those.  Some paintings I had forgotten about.  One was from when my book club was reading about the great influenza epidemic of 1918.  This one is titled "Flu" from the marker put on the house by city officials to warn others to stay away.  Since people were afraid to go into those homes, if the patient died, he/she was propped up in the window for viewing before burial. Funerals were not held as it would spread the sickness.  There is a painting to be done there!  I may be inspired to do it at some point.

Nov 5, 2010

ADLs (Activities of Daily Living) Interfere with Painting Time. GRRR

It has been one of those weeks each of you has had at some time--car trouble, tooth trouble, friends sick, funerals!  If I didn't love the people involved I might be resentful.  But I am grateful that I have a community that acts like a community should.  I haven't had time to paint for 7 days.

I did manage to make it to my sculpture class.  I was embarrassed at how awful my "head"  looked when I unwrapped it.  I even decided not to show it full-face on this blog.  Our teacher said all our head's eyes looked like they had worms in them and he was right!   I forgot my anatomy.  An eyeball is round.  It is just tucked into the head a lot. And the eyelid that covers a round eyeball must be round as well.  Missing that part is what made it look like worms. 

We have learned much in 10 hours, but teacher predicts we will need at least 10 more before we can quit and let the  clay dry.  It is fun to get lost in the process.  I wasn't sure it would work for me like painting, but it does.  Painting is more rewarding, faster, though.

Nov 1, 2010

Back in the Saddle Again!

I hadn't realized how much I use my computer until it had to go to Apple Hospital for a week.  Then some weird virus hit my body and I spent two days in bed.  I do much of my art composition in my head as I drift off to sleep so I am now full of ideas.

The first is a mixed media pop-art style with my favorite colors.  I am trying some picture transfers on it using glazing material.  Since it is unlikely to be requested by the Louvre, it is on a failed 24x30 canvas. It includes DNA, sperm, a human egg, and a baby's footprint and hand print (the two latter are the transfers).

My sculpture class continues to fascinate me.  The virus made me miss one session.  Yesterday during class a nearby elementary school had their Halloween costumed pupils walk through our building.  Besides being adorable, I was pleased by their remarks.  One little boy solemnly studied my clay head and said "That looks like a real human nose!"  We have seven more weeks of instruction.  Our teacher says after this class we will find sculpting a human head easy. Hah!  (He has been at it for forty years.)

Oct 24, 2010

The beachball of death...

Both computers were spinning the-beachball-of-death (frozen computer) so they have been at the Apple Store being fixed.  Threw my schedule all to crazy.  I'll be blogging again soon I hope when I get them back.

Oct 21, 2010

Kona Sunset

The "vlog", or volcano smog has cleared so that Kona, Hawaii again has visible sunsets.  This is from a still photo by Scott Ogle, a well known sports videographer, taken while he was covering the Ironman competition.  Thanks to Scott for permission to paint this.

Oct 19, 2010


The talented photographer, Tony Bezsylko (redbubble.com/people/photosbytony) graciously gave me permission to base a painting on one of his photos that is a finalist in an Outdoor Photographer contest.

The Universe

NASA's photographs from the Hubbell telescope are my screen saver.  I particularly like the Orion Nebula.  Lesson learned= My Higher Power creates much better than the human hand.

Oct 16, 2010


A little pyromania must lurk within me as I love to strike a kitchen match. The flare, the momentary blindness, the blue, the smoke, and the charcoal all speak to the artist. I painted a series of six 2x3 acrylics "Life and Death of a Match" and framed them on a black background.  Now if I could just incorporate that smell...

Oct 15, 2010

Seond Class

     I whipped the wire closure, plastic cover, and wet towel off my "head" and began to add more clay, eager to get the facial features on the "egg".  John, our teacher, said "Hold it, there is something we must all do first. When I checked your heads last week I felt some wires coming through.  If they do, your head will crack when fired and I will cry,"  He grabbed the handles of the cutting wire and did a craniotomy on my head!

     My wires WERE all awry and there were holes in my head  that would also cause it to crack (hold your remarks).  Good thing we looked.  I bent the wires inward again, picked out the dislodged scraps of newspaper (another cracker) and plopped my skull back on.  Uh, oh!  I never have learned to wait!

     John said to FIRST score the edges of the skull with a comb and then wet the patterns with water before putting the skull back together.  I had a h----of a time getting the skull back off.  Had to cut it off again. And the comb gets full of clay very quickly so it has to be washed several times before the job is done. I wanted to get to work on the chin!

     Skull back on, it was satisfying to make the egg look more human.  It didn't look like our model yet, but this is the second week of a 10 week class.  There is still a possibility of success. 

Surprise Craniotomy

Back to the beginning:  I had my first sculpture class last week.  We began with a pipe screwed to a wood board.  In that we inserted four twisted wire that we stuffed with tightly crushed newspaper.  On this we layered wet clay. Our goal was to make an "egg" with the small part the chin area of the head we were modeling.  I got this far in two hours.

Oct 14, 2010

Jewelry Commission

In one of my other lives I design jewelry.  This commission presented a real challenge.  A friend brought back several small matryoshka type dolls  from Russia and wanted earrings and a necklace made from them.  This client is always color coordinated, even to her tennis shoes when she wears them. And she usually prefers very simple jewelry.  What to do!?  I finally decided simplicity wouldn't work with these. The dolls themselves are ornate and incorporate many colors. I chose to add colors and textures.  The client loves the set and wears them with plain colored sweaters.

Oct 13, 2010

Still Abstract

I have been working on two paintings.  One is of the Orion Nebula, so it is abstract while still realism. The other is an interpretation of a photo of a sunset in Kona, Hawaii. Because of where the sun set in the photo, I had to move it to improve the composition. I am using glazes on both, so it will be drying time before they are finished. Meanwhile, here is an older painting done last year.  I guess I am still abstract.

Oct 11, 2010


Ronan Peacock (http://www.ronanpeacock.com/) graciously gave me permission last year to paint one of his Kerry photographs.  I used glazes on this one, but it doesn't seem to glow as much in my photo.

Oct 10, 2010

Painting Again

During my painting recess I received two comments on my paintings from other artists.  It provided such a moral booster I am resolved to write my thoughts to creators when I admire their work.

Today I tackled the second part of the Calypso Movement challenge, to create a painting without a brush.  The good part is=no brushes to clean!  It was hard to do for me.  I really missed my brushes. Besides these restrictions I have a familial tremor where the tighter I hold an object, the more I shake.   I used many, many cotton-tipped swabs, my fingers, toothpicks and a medical syringe. (I am a nurse, after all.)  That was a disaster!  By the time I got the syringe loaded by squirting paint from the tube, the part near where a needle would attach had begun to dry.  When I put pressure on the handle, it balked with the dried acrylic but gave way all at once.  Instead of a snake I had a big blob of green on her head.  I just left it.  Who knows what a ghoul has growing on her head?  It was fun letting her be ugly.

The sculpture class went wonderfully and I am thinking of posting some photos of our work.  And maybe painting the classroom set-up?

Oct 7, 2010

Painting Pause

It just irks me to have tasks interfere with painting time, but being a grown up means being responsible.  My storage cage here at the wrinkle-ranch is overflowing with paintings. (Daily painting=at least 300 a year!)  I have been sorting into piles of "sell", "paint-over", and "rotate-to-apartment-wall". That means at least a day away from the easel.

Part of the time I will be paused is my predilection for trying something new.  I found I liked french-fried grass hoppers during a visit to Oaxaca, Mexico. (Hint, pull the legs off first, they get between your teeth otherwise.) Living in Boulder lets me occasionally interact with Colorado University faculty.   John Wilson, professor emeritus of sculpture, recently moved into our facility and he is offering a 2 hour per week 10 week class with a live model. How generous is that?  John shares my sense of humor so it should be lots of fun,  He has a parrot that often yells "help" and had to put a sign on his door saying he was in no danger after his elderly neighbors called our emergency number.

Oct 3, 2010

Painting All Day

Wow!  I usually paint until 1pm and then rest.  Besides transforming the Hated Painting into "Circus Elephant"  I accepted the challenge of the Cayspso Moon Artist Movement, hosted by Alice Thompson.  Each month a challenge is offered that tends to stretch our talents and help us to introduce new methods and ideas into our art.  This month is a double challenge.  The first is a Halloween theme, and the second is to do a painting without using a brush.  Paint was flying and I didn't want to stop.

The October theme was a no-brainer, but the no-brush painting was a test of ingenuity.  I ended up painting with my fingers, cotton swabs cut on an angle, and dental floss.  I am waiting on permission from the photographer before I publish that one.  The skull is the entry for Halloween.


Oct 2, 2010

Hated Painting being transfomed.

I spent some time looking at Linda Monfort's abstracts.  Her paintings appeal to me especially in her use of color.  I am working on the Hated Painting and soon will be re-naming it and giving you a look.

Sep 29, 2010

I plan, God laughs...

The Italian dinner painting bears no resemblance to the bountiful spread we devoured.  Instead, it is an "Homage to Peter Max".  That is what happens when the right brain takes over.

I have been working several days on a deep, 24"x30" painting of Boulder's flat irons, a lovely geographical uprising along the Rockie's front range.  I photographed, I measured, I sketched.  I laid out the colors I planned to use.  Not to be!  The more paint, time and planning invested the more I desperately didn't like it. Finally I realized I really, really, hated that painting.  So I took all my supply of left-over mixtures from previous paintings (I never throw away paint,  $$$) and decided to see if I could change it from realism to abstract.  All my frustration went onto that revision. The result was that I not only wasted leftover paint, I shocked my husband and his caregiver.  Looking at it when they thought I couldn't hear, they whispered their suspicion that I had "lost it".  It will be gessoed after all.  

Last year I did a 6'x6" impressionistic flat irons, "Pink Time", that I liked.

My lesson is this:  "Hello, right brain, you are now in charge of art.  Left brain, you work the computer and repair husband's wheelchair."

Sep 27, 2010

Abstract inspiration...

Out with friends to an Italian restaurant that serves family-style meals.  With the calamari, veal saltimbocca, chicken cacciatore, fried mozzarella, stuffed mushrooms and spaghetti bolognese spread over the checkered table cloth I just knew I had to paint it! (Hungry yet?) Should be dry by tomorrow.

Sep 25, 2010

Getting a little perspective...

I took a day off painting to go to a funeral.  Sometimes tears help me see better...
To continue with the aspen painting I added branches and then smaller branches.  Last came the leaves.  I used Hansa yellow light, Cadmium yellow medium, nickel azo yellow, yellow oxide, and Indian yellow.  It still didn't look as if the sun was shining on them as in Nederland so I added a tiny bit of interference gold and metallic gold at the golden mean. This was for those of you who asked about my process.  It is much more fun to just load the brush and apply it to canvas, but I like my final product better if I plan more.   Off to the next painting!

Sep 23, 2010

Aspen Glow

A drive to Nederland, CO for lunch inspired an aspen painting.  Nederland is home of the frozen-dead-guy (Google it) , a fabulous carousel, and offers aspen views along the highway. The aspen are turning yellow and gold in the sunlight this time of year.

I had thought to use gold leaf (pun intended) but the dang stuff is so fragile!  And it stuck to my fingers with static electricity.  I tried putting it between two sheets of tissue paper and cutting out leaf shapes. Now I know why they sell  foil "flakes".  Plan B is to use metallic paint.  

I started with an 8"x16" canvas, covering half with Cobalt Titanic Green and the other half with iridescent gold.  I sketched a single aspen.

The gold I covered with thinned cobalt blue and removed some with a sea sponge. The trunk/branches were painted with shades of permanent violet dark.  Lunch time! To be continued another painting day.

Sep 22, 2010

Fielding Questions

To answer some queries, here goes.  I paint with acrylics and use water soluble pencils for the preliminary sketches. I like short brushes and can't get along without cotton tipped applicators.   I have a familial tremor that exhibits itself in a head tic  (plays H--- with doing a self-portrait by mirror) and an intention-tremor.  That diagnosis means the harder I grip something the more my hand shakes (used to scare the bejusus out of patients when I came at them with a syringe to draw their blood.)   When I make a little mistake painting I dip a cotton swab in soapy water and remove it.  When I make a big mistake I get out the gesso.  My grand daughter, Ginny, mimics my tremor so perfectly it cracks me up every time.

I get up at 7AM if Max, the 7 lb. junk-yard dog, lets us sleep that long.  I feed Max and the two sibling cats (Xen=Siamese, Noir=black).  My husband's caregiver arrives at 7:30AM so I can paint until 1pm.  I carry my chocolate milk/coffee drink and whatever my breakfast is to the computer and answer email. Then I apply Glove in a Bottle to my hands and don nitrile gloves. I have clothes I only wear when painting.  My favorite is a wholy, huge, soft navy tee shirt and baggy rayon pants.   I try to paint daily.
Some days I take a deep breath and try again to do an abstract.

I have a coyote skull I have planned to decorate.  Today instead I painted a canvas of it, "Coyote".  Someday I will tackle the skull itself.  Bone, skeletons and skulls fascinate me, so our trips to Mexico usually included the purchase of something to do with Day  of the Dead.

Sep 21, 2010

Delightful Discovery

Just found that a young lady I have watched grow up for the last ten years has a blog.  She not only is talented, but is lovely as a person. http://jessherzanek.blogspot.com

Fooling around with plastic wrap.

Since I am abstract challenged I decided to stop struggling and just have fun.  I put the napthol red light on and took it off with plastic wrap.  Those wicked little squiggles looked like they needed some cobalt teal and it appeared finished to me.  Who knew it could be so easy and fun! I called it Red #1 so I could do more later.

Sep 20, 2010

A reliable critic...

My husband, a physician, is a truth-teller.  When I show him a finished painting he tells it like it is.  I read that painters should do periodic self-portaits both as an exercise and as a painted record through the years.  It is a weird experience, painting something you think you know intimately.  I found I didn't know my features as well as I thought.  My mirror time is just enough to ensure that I don't frighten those I meet.  To devote many minutes to, say, one's left nostril is unsettling.  I showed the completed portrait to Truth-man.  He studied it a few moments and said "Who is this?"  Back to the easel!

Sep 19, 2010

more thoughts...9/19/2010

Since I am mostly self-taught I thought I would give you a laugh and post the first oil painting I ever did, done about 15 years ago. I knew nothing about perspective. So when the brush reached what should have been the corner of the table I just had to extend that table all the way to the edge of the painting!

Hello out there!

This is my first post on my first blog. I have blogged on trips and shared it with those who asked ahead of time so writing comes easily. The reason this blog exists is that I wanted to join a painting challenge and the rules said one must have a blog. Wow, what a lot of work. At least Google makes it easier than some.

Today I said goodbye to my painting of the flatirons of Boulder. Did you ever have a painting that just wouldn't jell? Some days I can finish a painting in one day and it comes together like magic. But once in a while, oh man! Nothing works. And I refuse to end up with mud, so I just move on to something else and hide the failed painting away.

Recently someone sent photos of soldiers in Afghanistan to me. They moved me to paint a helicopter gunner shooting at people he couldn't see, and I called it "Anonymous Death."

I admire Linda Montfort's abstract paintings but fail miserably when I try to do an abstract. My efforts look stilted or childish to me. Any tips?