Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Norman Rockwell Exhibit and Miniatures Exhibit

I just got in from seeing the Norman Rockwell exhibit at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art. It was fantastic. All of the paintings and drawings are from the collections of Steven Spielberg and George Lukas. I grew up loving Rockwell even when the art world told me he was not a serious artist, just an illustrator. No one on this planet has ever held a candle to him when it comes to conveying an expression on a face and telling a story in one picture. I would rather own one drawing by Rockwell, than 100 paintings by Picasso or any other abstract expressionist artist.

From there, we drove to the Strathmore Mansion to see the Miniture Painters, Sculptors and Gravers Society of Wash DC annual international show. Another fantastic show. A perfect Art Day!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Day 2 - The Presidents

This is day two. I am very happy with the way John Adams is coming along. I have darkened the background more....will probably take it down much further in value in the next painting session. James Madison is coming along nicely also. Getting the dark values painted in early on, really helps me to see where to go with the shadows on their faces. Until I have the darkest darks in, I am afraid of taking the facial shadows too far for fear of getting the values wrong.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Day One Close Ups

These are photos of day one of the Presidents. I did not get very far with Jamse Madison this day, but am very happy with John Adams and President Monroe. I will work on them today and post results tomorrow.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

I wish you all peace, family and modest prosperity. Obscene prosperity is now out of fashion thanks to the banking industry and Wall Street.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Presidents Miniatures

I recently sold another of my George Washington miniatures at the MPSGS show at Strathmore Mansion. It sold for $500. I think I may have found my niche in the art world. I love painting portraits, painting copies of old masters, and now I have found I love painting miniatures.

I really enjoy painting these tiny portraits and have decided to paint all the presidents and a few of my favorite patriots. This is my next three portraits from top to bottom, John Adams, James Monroe, and James Madison. I have laid a Kodak color seperation guide beside them thinking I would use them later in a publication. On the left is a tiny photo of the president and on the right is my humble beginning. I don't trace. I start with a very pale sketch using the sight size method. I then scumble in a background, soften it with a mop type brush and then do the same with all the large mass areas. I do this also on the flesh in the dark areas and leave the light areas untouched, soften these areas and then leave the painting to dry up for a day or two before proceding.

This photo is at the end of the first painting day. Adams and Monroe are further along than Madison on this first day's work.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Why I Paint

I received the letter below, from the owner of the yellow lab I had just finished a pastel for. This is the reason I paint. Yes the money I earn is nice and keeps the rent paid, but the real paycheck is the feeling I get when I deliver a piece of art and hear the following.

"Linda, Wanted to let you know that the picture arrived yesterday at my mom's house. I am so happy with how it turned looks just like him! The woman at the framing store thought it was beautiful, too. She asked where I found the artist. I'm disappointed that it won't be framed in time for Christmas, but that's just makes Christmas last a little longer. And, I was too afraid not to put it in a frame right away....I didn't want to ruin it by rolling and unrolling it too often.

Thank you so much for your quick turn around and endless patience with all my questions. I am so pleased and can't wait to see it once it's framed!

Hope you have a Merry Christmas and your husband makes a speedy recovery from his surgery."

AC, Cleveland Ohio

Gem and Bead Show

I went to the big gem and bead show at the Chantilly Expo Center on Monday afternoon. I had never been before and had no idea what to expect. It was amazing! There were jewelers, gemologists, every kind of bead you can image and wall to wall vendors of every possible thing a jewelry maker could want. I was in beadaholic heaven.

My poor husband eventually had to go and sit in the snack bar for two hours. He is now walking with a cane after having hip replacement surgery and it was too much for him.

I was broke after three hours and my eyes were popping out of my skull from bead overload.
I hope to go again next year and will be better prepared with better shoes and a fatter wallet.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Yellow Lab Portrait

This double portrait of a lab as a puppy and older dog is now on it's way to Cleveland for Christmas.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Artistic Christmas

I spent yesterday creating my gingerbread house with good friends Jeanne and Monica. Jeanne hosted the art extravaganza, provided the pre baked and assembled houses for us to decorate, and the luncheon at her home in Manassas. Wine flowed as well as talk about our artwork and careers. Scrumpteous curried chicken salad on greens with assorted cheeses and crackers was enjoyed. Monica shared with us a wonderful sunset at the ocean she has just completed. It was a perfect art day!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Portrait of Betsy

Betsy has such beautiful and soulfull eyes. She is the companion piece to Belle. I used pastels on Canson paper for the portraits of the two dogs. In my oil portraits I try to be sure there are lots of soft edges, so the eye does not try to focus every area at the same time. I did a deliberate smudging of edges on the outside edges of the dog and I left the sharp edges around the eyes and nose so that your eye will automatically land on these spots.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Peaceable Kingdom

Ok, I realize this is not art related, but I could not resist posting this picture.
This is Molly and two of her five cats. We don't own these cats, Molly our boxer does. We recently had to purchase two more dog beds, so that Molly could find a place to sleep at night. Most of the time, all of the beds have one or two cats on them. Molly is so gentle, she won't bark at the cats. She just stands by the beds and wimpers for the cats to move. Of course, being cats, they won't move. I end up removing a cat or two so that dear sweet gentle Molly can lay down. The big cat on the right was a ferel cat that we inadvertantly captured in a Hav A Hart trap years ago. Once we had him, we neutered him, cleaned him up, got his shots and then released him. But, he had had a taste of civilization and was hooked. He began showing up for meals and sitting in the living room window watching us. After about six months, I was able to pet him, and 9 months later he was coming inside to look around. We have now had him for 5 years. We decided that since a car has four tires and a spare, we would call him Spare Kitty, since we already had four cats.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Not a Miniature

This is the little bluebird miniature I had started some time back and abandoned it when my very observant husband informed me that the birds were not 1/6th lifesize. This means that they are not true miniatures in the strictest sense.
I came back to the painting and finished it just before my husband's surgery. They are painted on a 2 1/4 x 3 inches piece of ivorine. I think they have a cutesy appeal to them, unfortunately I was going for very realistic look. Even so, they will make an adorable greeting card down the road.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Portrait of Belle

I never tire of doing pet portraits. This is Belle, a recent commission I completed. It is actually part one of a two part commission and I am currently working on the companion piece, Betsy. I will post Besty shortly.

Friday, November 26, 2010

I Am Back

I am back, finally. Its been a long recovery period for my husband and he still has two more weeks before he can be left alone. I will be right here with him, so may not open the gallery before Dec. 10th. I am feeling the effects of Art Withdrawl.......becoming very bummed over the forced confinement. I am catching up on my art reading, but that just makes me crave the studio even more. I go into the studio here at our home, but can't get motivated like when I am at the Ice House. No sooner do I start something, than I have to stop and help the hubby. Oh well, thats the price we pay for true love.
I thought I would share this drawing in charcoal on blue Canson paper and heightened with white conte. I did it for a competition for a chance to do a posthemous portrait of the Colonel. I did not win, but actually I did. I think just the act of getting a good likeness was a fair prize for me.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Gallery and Blog Downtime

I will not be updating my blog for a while and I am closing the Ice House Gallery from Nov. 16 til Dec. 10th. My husband is having surgery and I will be focused totally on his recovery during this time.

So for my parting new granddaughter, Izzy. Thats our nickname for her. You can see her father is one proud papa.

I hope you have a very delicious and peaceful Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

My New Friend Daffy

This beautiful Sharp Shinned Hawk has flown into my dinning room window twice now. The first time, I ran out and picked him up out of the bushes before the cats could get to him. I then remembered my husband telling me how much damage this type hawk can inflict on a human. The beak alone would disable me, imagine what the talons would do. So before he regained consciousness, I placed him on top of my flower pot tower and watched as he revived and flew off. About half an hour. Guess what? I was so excited, I forgot to get pictures.
So yesterday, Daffy was at it again. Flew into the window and landed as you see here in the bush below. This time, I grabbed the camera and turned him over onto his feet, soothingly whispered to him and kept guard until he could fly off again. He did not seem to mind my touching him a bit, but all the same I was careful to not excite him. In the photo of my hand, remember that whatever is closer to the camera is going to look larger. My hand is actually about half as large as the bird and it took two hands to totally surround and hold him. I think he is probably a bit larger than the crows we have around here and much larger than a blue jay.
We now leave the dinning room light on when it is overcast or dawn. At those times of day, the trees across the road reflect into the window of the dark dinning roon and appears like sky that the birds can fly into.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Mini Show Ends

The miniatures show has officially ended as of yesterday. I will spend the next week, boxing and shipping artwork back to artists and to our clients who purchased artworks. I am pleased to report that even in this bad economy the sales at our gallery were still strong. We hung 149 paintings this year. Last year we hung 183. This year we sold 22 paintings as opposed to 28 last year.

I have the Rappahannock Artists' Studio Tour coming up on November 6 & 7 and must have all the miniatures out of the gallery and a new show hung for this show weekend. Its a huge amount of work and a very long weekend with long hours. Because of the limited space at the gallery, I can't store artwork there and must transport my work from home for each new show.

I am always dreaming of a larger gallery/studio. How about you?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

We are Grandparents

This morning at around 4:30, my first grandchild was born. A little girl who weighed in at 8lbs. 15 oz. No name as of yet. Both mother and daugther are doing fine, the dad survived also. We are on top of the world today.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Focus or Fail

My new slogan is "Focus or Fail". I find that when I am distracted by life going on outside of the studio, ie family, e-mails, or non art errands, my work fails to be worthwhile. I just spent the weekend, totally immersed in my miniatures work at the gallery. I do not and will not have a computer there and I was surrounded by beautiful miniatures, talking to clients about miniatures, selling miniatures (9 this weekend) and working on a miniature. It turned out beautiful and I am so pleased with it. I was focused and it showed in my work.

Photos will follow shortly.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Northern Virginia Magazine Article about the Ice House Gallery

On page 16 of the October issue of Northern Virginia Magazine is an article about the miniatures show at Ice House Gallery, complete with a tiny image of my fawn miniature. I still have not been able to locate the article that Virginia Living Magazine had called and interviewed me for. I also gave them an image. Guess I got bumped on that one. The Piedmont Virginian Magazine also did a very nice piece about the show with an image. All three magazines a found on line, but I have not checked to see if the stories are in the online versions.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Ultimate Stink Bug Story

This morning I stumbled to the kitchen for eye opening coffee as usual. Filled the carafe, poured water into the maker, added a filter and then coffee for six cups. I went about the business of fixing breakfast and a lunch for my husband while my own personal drug of choice brewed. Finally, I poured a cup and took a sip. HMMMMMMM Something tasted off. Oh well, I have fall alergies and this morning my nose was runny and stuffy. So I set the coffee aside and rushed to get the lunch and breakfast. I did not return to the cup of coffee until I was sitting down to eat with my husband. I took another big mouthful and immediately smelled stink bugs. I told my husband about the odd way my coffee smelled and he suggested I check out the coffeemaker. He laughed and said they can get into anything and anyplace. You can imagine my horror and disgust when I lifted out the basket of grounds to find a bug, belly up in the basket holder.

Before you go judging me on my cleanliness I will just say this.....I have been accused of being OCD with regards to housekeeping and my husband often calls me Brie (The Red Head Desperate Housewife on TV), when I am scolding him for sloppiness. I always clean the coffee pot and basket after each morning use and have everything ready for the next morning when I am like a zombie waking up.

I will now add checking out the entire coffee pot under a strong light before I make coffee from now on.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Daily Campello Art News

F. Lennox Campello, Artist, Writer and Critic has a blogspot that may be of interest to you. Go to for all sorts of news and commentary. Mr. Campello is often a juror at The Art League and also writes for the Old Town Crier. His Gallery Beat article this month is about "The Prickly Issue of Labels" and refers to the lumping of artists into catagories in order to define or judge their works. Of special note is the new appointment of E. Carmen Ramos as the first curator for Latino art at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Rather than review his article, I will direct you to the October issue, page 14 and just say this about his commentary. "Mr. Campello is right on target with his thinking. Why must we judge and catagorize artists this way? I am a female, but I don't wish my gender to be a factor when viewing my artworks. Just hold my painting next to another artist's works and judge it on its merit, not my gender or ethnic ancestry. I am descended from Irish immigrants, but that should have no bearing on whether or not my art is valid or better than another persons works." I suppose I am politically incorrect in my thinking, but I can't understand why the Smithsonian would even need a Latino curator, just put all the paintings into a room and forget about these ridiculous labels.

Todays Slogan - Fortune Favors The Brave

I have always enjoyed Inspirational Slogans, Sayings and Words of Wisdom. So much so, I post one in the home studio above my Goals Board where I see it daily. Since 2001, when I quit my secure job at the US Postal Service, my inspirational slogan has been "Fortune Favors the Brave". That actually came out of a fortune cookie the week I finally decided to pack it in with the Post Office.

I will try to post a new slogan occasionally for my readers......sometimes we all need a little slogan when we are feeling lost or down.

The Apple Tree Tole and Decorative Arts Supplies

The greatest thing about having a small gallery and studio open to the public is, I get to meet so many wonderful artists and lovers of art. This weekend I met Susan, the owner of The Apple Tree. Her shop is located at 5240 Port Royal Rd. in Springfield Virginia. Go to to see her website and all that she offers at the shop. You can always spot the real art lovers, they linger over every piece on the walls. Susan refered her friends the Grimsteads who came out the next day with their daughters and I finally found out the artist who sings Hey Soul Sister, from their beautiful daughter. Thank you, now I can add that to my ipod. Later in the day, Chuck Hunter, came by and was amazed at the miniatures. Chuck lives in town and stops in occasionally. I am very impressed with his knowledge of art and antiques and enjoy our conversations about art.

I hope that if you come to Virginia, you will make time to visit with me in Little Washington.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Ice House Gallery Website Problems

I have noted a few problems with the Ice House Gallery website and have asked the web guru to try and clear them up. Please have patience!

Also, it was suggested that we place every painting in the exhibit on the site and not just the winning entries. Oh how I wish I could. Unfortunately, we have 153 paintings on display and it took the webmaster two hours just to put on nine pictures. As we all know, webmasters are paid by the hour and my webmaster is no exception. We are still too small an enterprise to be able to do this.

Miniatures Show Opens Today

The 2nd Annual Little Washington Miniatures Painting Exhibition opens today and we have153 tiny little masterpieces hung in the gallery. The show is absolutely beautiful.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Show is Hung - View Winners on the Website

I spent the day yesterday, hanging the miniatures show at the Ice House Gallery in Little Washington until late afternoon. It looks absolutely magical. All those wonderful little paintings are simply incredible. Today I will head up to the gallery, do some cleaning and do some more labeling. The weatherman has stated that we will have nice weather on Saturday for the reception. I am holding him to that!!!! Again this year, we will have our friends Jeanne and Mitch pouring wine for our guests under our white tent. The leaves have started to show some color and the mountains are beautiful. See you on Saturday!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Venus Continues

I am managing to get some time in on Venus and Saint Alice even though I am extremely busy with the miniatures show.
I firmly believe in scheduling time just to create and I shut out all distractions when working at the Ice House studio.

One of my shortcomings that I am trying to overcome is my inability to get my darks right the first time. I often here artists like Everett Raymond Kinstler say "Get the values right, if you get the values correct, the colors can be off". Venus is an example of that. Her arms are in deep shadow and a brilliant light is striking her face and arms. As I look at this, I think my darks could go darker in value. I love the dark of her eyes and hair, but seem to be too light in the flesh darks. I am pretty happy with the fabric, since painting it in greys and white just to get the form and structure. Thank you Robert Liberace for that piece of advice when I was struggling with the fabric on Adonis.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Miniatures Show

Piedmont Virginian magazine had a very nice write up and image about the miniatures show in this issue, Fall Issue. I also placed a nice advertisement for the show in this issue.

I am literally eating on the run right now, trying to get everything done. I actually got in last night at 11:00. My mother who is in an assisted living home has been sick with a bad chest cold and I am visiting her daily along with running the gallery and getting the miniatures show up and running. Add Lupus to the recipe and I am just one tired cupcake these days.

Once I get the show hung and the reception is over, I am taking a few mid week days to relax and chill. No phones, no e-mails, no blog, no leaving the house, just sitting around in my jeans and t-shirt with coffee, art magazines and sketchbooks.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Old Art or Wine Tasting????

While in Chicago, a day at the Art Museum was planned and my son, a very skilled artist, was going to accompany me. Unfortunately, the plans fell through, due to the moving company arriving and rain preventing a short loading time. So instead, I went on a walking tour of Geneva's shopping and arts district, while my son and daughter in law delt with the move back to Virginia.
Geneva is a suburb of Chicago and has an adorable old town shopping and arts district. My second stop was in a wine shop where I did a tasting of Illinois wines with these two adorable young men. They were kind enough to give me a downtown map and pointed out the galleries I should visit. I met some fantastic gallery owners that day, sampled wonderful wines and had a "Perfect Art Day".
Now I ask you, What would you rather see....500 year old art or 20-ish Illinois Hunks??????
"I may be old, but I am not dead yet"

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Miniatures Show Judging

On September 14, the judging for the 2nd Annual Little Washington Miniatures Painting Exhibition took place at Western View Studio. Our esteemed judge this year was Nancy Still, owner of Mini Art Supply and board member of the Miniature Painters, Sculptors &Gravers Society of Washington DC. Good friend and fellow miniatures painter, Jeanne Mitchell assisted the judge and took notes. You only see a tiny portion of the artworks in this years show as the artworks were grouped by medium in five different rooms at my home and studio. It was a long but exciting day. I was not present for the judging, off busy in the kitchen preparing the judges' luncheon, but at the end of the day I was thrilled to see that the judge had picked most of my favorites. I suppose this means I have a good eye if not a trained hand.
I am now off to Chicago for a baby shower for my first grandchild. I will be out of touch for a week.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Barney Returns & Miniatures Exhibition

This is as good as it gets with my photography skills. I am definitely taking a class this winter! Barney paid us a visit last night just about dusk. He was right in our backyard, munching on some pear remains we put out to entice the deer closer to our house for my camera. My son and I both stepped out to follow him and snap pictures as he headed for the woods across the small lane we live on.
I will be on the blog less and less now. The miniatures exhibition is taking up all my time. I am in the process of receiving entries, putting together the show catalog and publicity for the show. Northern Virginia Magazine and Virginia Living Magazine have both requested images and interviewed me and there should be more articles in various publications in the area.
I will update as often as I can for the next two months. Ciao!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

26th Anniversary

Yesterday, I spent the entire day with my husband and we celebrated our 26th wedding anniversary by driving to Fort Washington Maryland and checking out the old fort on the Potomac. We both love history and seafood. After seeing the fort we drove up to Lanham Maryland for a seafood dinner that my husband was told would be the best he ever ate. It was almost as good as the best we have had and it cost us a lot more. All in all it was a great day. It was just wonderful to explore with him all day and not think about work or mundane normal stuff.

I started my second George Washington miniature this morning. Pictures coming shortly.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

My Normal Day

The usual routine for this artist begins at 5:30 and looks like this.
Fix breakfast and pack lunch for husband. Grab a sip of my coffee which I made while feeding the dog and five cats. Oh, also put in eye drops and take Lupus meds. Next, push husband out the door and finally get to sit by my fishpond with a cup of coffee for 10 minutes. Run and take a shower, dress for the day, turn on computer and download a bazillion e-mails. Read and answer the really immediate e-mails with my second cup of coffee. Now, because my fruit tree was abundant this year and the husband picked way too many pears....peel and slice and process 5 pints of pear preserves. Now try to squeeze in two hours of painting on the little 2 x 3 inch miniature of George Washington. I used a googled image of George to work from. The whole mini took five hours stretched out over a four day period.
Back into the kitchen to peel, slice and process more pears. While pears were in the canner, I took a small pumpkin from my garden and made a fabulous crock pot pumpkin bisque for our dinner tonight. OK, done with the pears and dinner is on the table....Brett announces that I should can some more pears, since he is going to spend the evening mowing our four acres.
HELP!!! After peeling, slicing and processing three more quarts of pears, my wrists were screaming and I headed to the sofa with a big glass of wine. I fell into bed at 10:00.
Thats my typical day when I don't go to the gallery. On those days my gallery is open, I am out the door at 9:00 am and in heaven at the easel by 10:30. I actually get to paint all day and come home to an easy meal made by the husband or myself at 6:30. We watch some tv after dinner or answer e-mails before bed at 10:00.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

More Venus

I have progressed a bit and you can see that I am placing the lights on the arms. I also wanted to establish the white dress with what I had squeezed out onto the palette for the day. Rather than waste it, I slapped it onto the canvas and used it to start getting a better idea of the body, since I am not using the previous body of the previous model.
My well meaning husband picked two bushel baskets of pears from our tree, thinking he was doing me a service by getting the fruit before the bear, crows and deer did. Guess how many quart jars of pears that will end up being? No way on earth I am doing all that fruit. I have already made 6 pints of preserves and three quarts of pears in syrup, and that was only one sixth of a basket. Oh my poor arthritic wrists!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The New Venus

This is my new Venus model. She works at the Inn and lives very close to my studio in Washington. Originally, I asked her to pose for simply a head study. During a conversation I mentioned I needed someone for a Medusa portrait and she jumped at the opportunity to pose for my Gods and Goddesses series. On the first day that she came in for photographs and sketching, it became abundantly apparent that she was no Medusa and I felt Venus more closely suited her personality. I have the initial face blocked in on top of the previous model's body and background. Notice that the new head is larger than the previous model. I fully intend to redo the body in a larger matching size from the new model also.

This young lady has eyes that just draw you in and her upward gaze also makes me think she would be an excellent irgin Mary or some other religious person....maybe an angel.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Orlean Fire Dept. Sign

We have some guys out here in the Free State with a real sense of humor. The fire department at Orlean is just 5 miles from my home. I don't usually drive this way, but I pass by to and from the gallery if I take the scenic route. This was their safety message yesterday evening. A few weeks back I passed by and the sign said, Drive Carefully Watch for Bears, or so I thought. I did not have my camera and when I went back by two days later with my camera, the sign said Watch for Bikes. Well, Bikes are no big deal out here. We have regular routes the hard core bikers in training use all the time as well as the guys who do the crotch rocket runs. It can get a bit annoying following bikers who refuse to share the road, ride four abreast and then are stupid enough to wave you around them on a blind curve or double yellow line. Both of which are dangerous and illegal. The crotch rockets are the guys who will pass me on a double yellow or on a blind curve and I cringe at what I might see happen to them. Oh well, you can't legislate good sense.
If you are in the area, be sure to check out the Orlean Fire Dept. sign. I can't wait to see what the next message will be.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

More Saint Alice

I got some more time in working on Saint Alice. I have added the little hummingbirds holding her halo. I actually took a picture two days ago, of 7 hummingbirds all at my feeder at the same time. Four were sitting and feeding and three were hovering a few inches away. I mailed a copy of the picture to my Aunt Judy who took the goldfinch pictures for me last year.
I also have blocked in Timmy the cat.
I now must tackle the dress and I hate to admit it, but I hate painting drapery. Cloth befuddles me. I just can't make convincing folds. But there was a time, I could not paint hands. So I am going to spend this winter focusing on drapery at least three mornings a week until I can paint the most exquisite cloth ever seen.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Michael J. Fox visited Lil Washington

Last Thursday, Actor, Michael J. Fox visited Little Washington. Guess who is not open on Thursdays?

I have decided to start opening on Thursday afternoons when I can. This is the second actor to visit town when I was not open.

Barney is back

Barney paid us another visit and this time he tore down our bluebird nestbox which was on a 4x4 pressure treated post. He was after whatever was in the box...ants or mice, since the bluebirds were not there anymore. The box is a total loss. Still no pictures of Barney.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Saint Alice Progress

Yesterday, I resumed work on Saint Alice along with other projects in the works. I finished up the Great Falls commission and it is being framed now. I hope to work on Saint Alice some more today.

No bears this morning and I actually had my camera ready.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Barney the Bear Visits

This morning while I was enjoying my morning coffee by the fishpond, I spotted Barney the Bear walking around the parimeter of my garden which is fenced with plastic mesh fencing. Although the fencing will keep deer out, bears are another story. I fear that as soon as Barney figures out he is stronger than the fence, all my garden will become his feast. Barney is a male that I spotted a few weeks back crossing the road just 2/10s of a mile from my driveway. He is probably the same bear that destroyed our bird feeder last year. This year we took down the feeder as soon as flowers started blooming. As usual, my camera was in the house and I was in my slippers and bathrobe. My first impulse was to get Molly my boxer back into the house. She would certainly think that Barney was a big black dog and I shudder at the thought of Molly trying to chase the bear the way she chases off the deer.

Speaking of deer, I just looked out the studio window to the garden and saw Bambi with two spotted babies munching on the pear tree beside the garden.

That's all tonight from the garden of Eden.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Laying around with Lupus

Today is not a normal gallery day for me and I usually use Wednesdays to catch up in the home office. I am not getting as much accomplished as I had intended today, my Lupus has flared up terribly and I am spending too much time with the sofa. My whole body aches today, especially my neck, back and wrists. To my credit, I did manage to clear all the paperwork from my desk and answer every e-mail. I have even worked on a small commission piece. I am pleased at the organization and neatness I now have in my home studio/office.

For the next three months most of my focus will be on the 2nd Annual Little Washington Miniatures Exhibition and I need everything organized. I won't have a minute to breath and very little time to paint once that competition is under way.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Great Falls Finished

I finished the Great Falls painting on Monday. I spent the entire weekend assessing it and looking for flaws or areas to rework. First thing on Monday morning, I reworked the foreground rocks, the value was fine, but I felt they needed more diversity in size and shapes. I also added some warm lights on them, to make sure they were tied to the colors of the mid area rocks. I also used some very dark green along the left side of the painting to tie the trees to the rocky edge of the waters. This helped to anchor the tree line to the land. The painting should be dry enough to frame next week.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Great Falls - Half Way Mark

Here is the picture I promised of the mid way point of the painting. I am currently replacing some of the green water with a bluer color and then will continue on the rocks. I am very satisfied with the falls and rocks in the middle of the painting where the water falls over them. But I am bothered by the foreground rocks. I am not sure if it is the overall value or the actual arrangement of the rocks. I will look at them for a day or two while working in another area of the painting. I am usually able to spot the needed change after leaving and returning with fresh eyes.
A visitor to the gallery on Monday was very complimentary about this painting and stated that they loved the flow and movement in the painting, particularly the graceful movement in the water.
I must admit that I am influenced by the painting of Niagra Falls by Frederick Edwin Church which is on display at the Corcoran in DC. It brings tears to my eyes every time I see it. I suppose this is my Niagra on a smaller scale, since Church's painting is tremendous in size and would cover the entire wall of my livingroom.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Great Falls at the half way mark

The Great Falls painting is now at the halfway mark and the clients visited the gallery on Saturday to take a look and give me feedback. They were pleased with the painting and only had one minor change to be made. The waters were a bit too muddy and green for their taste and they asked that I make parts of the waters a little bluer. I wholeheartedly agree. I have no problem making reasonable changes to my art, if it will please the client and not harm the integrity of the painting. I may have gone a bit too green and muddy, since I rely on photos and field sketches and I also tend to gravitate towards warm and earth tone colors. I worked on that yesterday and I will take some pictures today for this blog. As always, I forgot my camera.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Quilt Commission

I have debated long and hard over posting this on my blog, but felt it my duty to discuss this for the benefit of the novice artist.

In every artist's career there comes a commission that was just never meant to be and must be abandoned. After receiving a request by a client that sought me out to the point of after seeing my work at a show years ago, and asking other galleries where they could find me, I started a painting for them. I received almost half of the commission price, had an initial painting over 1/2 finished and had at least 45 hours work into the project. At this point the client saw the painting on the blog and came out to visit and tell me it was not what they wanted. I could see they were wanting to ask for the money back, but I felt I could satisfy them and we agreed that I would start the commission over. I did an initial sketch on a new canvas and sent photos to them for approval. After waiting a week to hear back and continue, the client called very upset and wanted out and their money back. After trying to reason for a long time on the phone, I finally decided that nothing I could do would ever please this client so I said I wanted out also, but would discuss the money situation with my attorney. After speaking with my attorney, I informed the client they could have all but the initial deposit back and that money would remain mine for compensation for the time and travel I had already put into the project.

I share this with you because, every artist encounters just such a situation and you must never let it destroy your confidence in your abilities. My artwork receives numerous awards each year. My painting Adonis-My Son just received an award and cash. Never let one unreasonable individual shake your confidence or stall your progress forward. Just remember, the novel Gone With The Wind was rejected 54 times before it was finally published. And if you sell more than one painting in your lifetime, you are doing better than Van Gogh did.


At 5:04 this morning I was awakened by a rumble and slight shaking. I immediately grabbed my husbands arm thinking he had fallen. As I became awake I realized he was still beside me and the rumbling was continuing. My next thought was train, but we don't live near trains. Then I thought thunderstorm and decided it was ok to return to sleep. By this time Brett was up investigating and he also came to the conclusion that it was thunder. But, WTOP informed us later this morning that we had an earthquake that shook furniture in Maryland (the epicenter) and was felt all the way out to West Virginia.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Great Falls Commission Continues

Boy Oh Boy! There are a lot of rocks at Great Falls. I started really working on them and the falls today. I am pleased so far, but will be relieved when I have painted the last rock. It is mindboggling to try and keep track of what rock I am working on. I really like the falls I painted in today and think that when I get the water in the foreground in, it will be beautiful. Visitors to the gallery all recognized the spot and were quick to tell me it was Great Falls. That means I have done a good job and captured it correctly.

Adonis is a winner

My painting, "Adonis - My Son" has received the Judges' Choice award and $100 in prize money at the 2010 King George Art Show. I received my ribbon and award on July 4th. That day was also the day of my aunt's passing.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Quilt Commission - New Start

If you have ever seen the movie The Agony and The Ecstasy, you will understand. At one point in the movie, Michealangelo says, "When the wine is bad, throw it out." He is refering to his work on the Sistine Chapel ceiling which he is very dissatisfied with. And so he tears down all the plaster murals he has already done and starts fresh.

My progress with the quilt commission was not to my liking or the clients wishes. We both agreed it was best if I started it again. I was really having a hard time with the background and the client wanted more quilt and less everything else. On my easel I have stenciled the motto "Is this my Best?" I only want my best work to be seen and if I must throw out the bad wine, then so be it.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Passing of Barbara Brown

My beloved aunt, Barbara Brown died Sunday morning, July 4th. Her husband, son and daughter were with her at their home.

In every womans life, there is one other female who impacts their life and serves as a role model. My aunt Barbara was the woman I most wanted to be like. She was refined, sophisticated and a devout Christian woman. I will miss her and her delightful chuckle and smile.

Passing of Barbara Brown

Thursday, July 1, 2010

More Great Falls

Here is my progress after another day of work. Although, I did not stay the entire day. Dental appointments for mom and I, so I had to knock off early.

I have added most all of the trees now and started working on the water in the distance.

My next step when I return to the painting will be to block in the rock formations. I usually work from left to right and top to bottom.

I am liking this painting so much already, I think I will do a variation of this scene for myself. Heck, I am so inspired I just may do a whole series from every possible angle and in various sizes. I never seem to have a day without more ideas than time to paint them.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Day 2-Great Falls Commission

On day two, I have made lots of progress on this painting. I laid in the sky, a nice hot summery type of sky. At the same time I am working on the sky, I start laying in the water. Just colors from the sky brushed seamlessly together in a horizontal direction. I am careful to make sure the water is darker than the sky. These water colors will undergo lots of changes when I get to that part of the painting, but for now, I just need a value to keep me on track. Next I moved into the trees in the distance and placed some strokes of green where I want to remember there is dark shady areas along the waterline.

By the way, it was unbearably hot in the gallery/studio today and the air conditioner could not keep up. I think that the window needs some sort of curtain or awning to keep the sun from heating up the gallery. I will look for a solution this week.

Great Falls Commission Begun

I took some panoramic shots of Great Falls and made some field sketches and notes. When I printed out the panoramic shots and pieced them together I made a decision to eliminate a portion that was just uninteresting shoreline oposite where I was standing. Now the view fits the canvas perfectly. I had stretched a 20" x 40" canvas. I don't normally use the grid system to get my drawing on the canvas, but the complexity of this subject, with all its small waterfalls and bazillion rocks made it necessary for me to start with a grid. I purposely kept the grid very simple, four blocks across and two down. Starting at the center of the photograph, I repeated the grid on the photos. What you see here is a very simple charcoal drawing of the rock formations and waterfalls. I am now ready and psyced to begin.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Bear Sighting

As I drive the 20 minute drive from Little Washington to my house in Marshall each evening, I am reminded of how blessed I am to live in such a beautiful area. Yesterday I had an extra blessing. As I passed through a wooded area of Cresthill Road I came upon a momma bear and her three cubs walking down the center of the road. They quickly became excited about my being there and started running down the road instead of off into the brush. I was awestruck at how tiny the cubs were. I had the misconception that they would be large. At one point, one of the cubs started to climb a tree, but quickly came back down when his momma went to the opposite side of the road. I reached for my camera and suddenly realized it was in the back of my car with all my other paraphenalia. Another lost opportunity.

New Rule.....never leave the camera where you can't grab it at a moments notice.

The bears were in the road in front of me for at least 10 minutes, enough time to have gotten six or seven great photos if I had my camera.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Decision Made

As I worked on the quilt yesterday, I finally made the decision to take out some of the flowers and lighten the background a bit by adding more of the house siding. I am already happier with the nice arrangements of light and dark value shapes.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Quilt Commission Progress

I have pretty much laid in the basic structure of the settee and have really gotten into the quilt itself. I am still not sure about eliminating some of the camelias. I want to live with the painting a bit longer before I make a major decision on the background. I am pretty happy with how this painting is going.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Schlepping Art Today

In just a few minutes I will be driving some entries down to the King George Art Show. I love this show. I usually sell something there or better yet, receive an award with cash money along with the ribbon. Two years ago, my painting "The Artist's Mother as Gaea" received Best of Show and $500. Its a long drive down there, but its a beautiful drive. I don't mind it at all and make a day of it. Ciao

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Jewelry for Sale at Ice House Gallery

I now have jewelry for sale at the Ice House Gallery and you can view the items at Although I don't have an online store, you can see the item and price and contact me via the telephone (540-675-3039) or e-mail ( to purchase an item. Coming soon will be the Little Washington notecards. Series 1 and Series 2 have four different images. Each box contains two of each image, eight notecards and envelopes per box for $15.00.

Quilt Commission

I worked on the quilt commission some more this past week. I have made a critical decision about the background. It was much too dark and seemed to isolate the wicker settee and quilt. So I have added the siding on the house behind the camelias and taken out some of the camelia greenery. I also am thinking I should remove a few of the camelias. They may be just too much of a distraction and since the painting is about the quilt, I don't want the camelias to upstage the quilt. I will work some more on the quilt before I make a final decision about removing some of the flowers.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Amazing Hummingbird

This little hummingbird has a piece of thread or string wrapped around her leg. Believe it or not, this little female has been coming to our feeder for the last four summers. I don't know how long these little birds live on average, but this one is at least four years old. I can't imagine there could be more than one bird with string around it's left foot and leg. I was amazed last summer when she showed up for the third time, now I am in awe of her strength and tenacity. I hope to get a good close up of her shortly.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Hummingbirds & Sarah Thibodeaux

I am taking a day to try and finally get over the bad back. I just finished looking at and I must say, this is one of the better sites that I frequently visit. If you are a fan of traditional portraiture, you will love this site.
This picture of hummingbirds was taken this morning at dawn while I was having my coffee and trying to shake off the fuzzy head I get from taking the back pain medicines. My intention is to use two hummingbirds in the Saint Alice painting. I will paint them bringing down a halo for Alice. I have many more reference photos of the hummingbirds and none of them show good color because of the angle and lighting. I will try again later in the day for more colorful shots. That's if the medicines don't interfer.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Alice's Dog, Saint Alice of Assisi Painting

I worked on the dog in the painting, "Saint Alice of Assisi". I was thinking he looked pretty good, but now I am not as happy with it as before. I will give him a little more attention next time I work on this painting.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Silver Brush site

Check out the Silver Brush website and you will see one of my paintings among the works of some of todays most famous living master artists at their online gallery. Go to At the site, click on the 1000 Grand Prix B image block and it takes you to a page with those brushes and a gallery of paintings done using the grand prix brushes. Scroll way down the gallery until you see my painting, Vanitas #3

Tell all your friends to check this out. Silver Brush has some wonderful miniature artist's brushes also.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Great Falls painting

I took a trip over to Great Falls with my husband this week to gather information and reference photos for a painting I will be doing shortly. Even with the back hurting, I really enjoyed climbing on the rocks and watching the herons on the rocks below us and flying over the falls looking for fish. We spent a long time over there, it has been years since I visited the Falls. You didn't think I would let a little thing like a sore back keep me down, did you?
Oh, by the way, I did finally go see a doctor and got some medicines which helped me overnight. I actually had a fairly good day today at the gallery.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Mary Ann and Ginger

This is Mary Ann and Ginger, my most recent pet portrait commission.
The person who commissioned me to do this portrait was very moved by my work. Emotion and praise are the greatest form of payment. The cash helps, but the look of love on the pet owners face is worth millions to me.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Pet Portrait

This is step one of the double portrait of Mary Ann and Ginger.

Monday, June 7, 2010

My First Grandchild

I am still nursing the bad back, sitting alot and laying down more than sitting.
Here is the first ever picture of my grandchild. I am so amazed at technology. This is at the halfway mark of my daughter in laws pregnancy. Our grandchild is due Oct. 6.
When I was expecting, the doctors were doing good to hear a heartbeat with ultrasound and stethascopes. The baby's face bears a remarkable resemblance to my son's first picture taken at 2 hours old.
We feel blessed and are so excited.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Bad Back

Well I overdid it again, cleaning up the carpets and painting the gallery. My back is spasming and all I can do is sit or lay on my stomach. I managed to finish up the dog commission I was working on and I will get photos today and post shortly. I plan to sit quietly today and read or maybe sit at the easel and work on something not requiring me to stand.
Getting old stinks!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Alice's Llama

This is only one of the many Llamas my friend Alice raises. I am showing this close up because I have just spent the last three days painting the gallery and cleaning the carpets. I am so tired from the maintenance work that I may not get around to blogging again for a few days and I am too tired today to be more creative.
Hope you like this cop-out entry.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Saint Alice update

Here is Saint Alice at the beginning with a washed in background and then again on the second and third days of work. The background is now well developed, foliage is becoming evident, but not overly detailed. The Llama is looking real good thus far and he is looking at Alice's halo which eventually will have two hummingbirds placing it on her head.
Alice has the ugliest geese I have ever seen. At first I thought of using them and then decided against it. I now realize the composition will be much better with them at her side, helping to tie the Llama to the scene.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Quilt Commission Day 2

I have laid in a background color using sap green and alizarin crimson. These two colors mixed together can give you a very nice grayed green or in equal parts you get a rich brown. The white spots you see are where I plan to place camelias. I added some cadmium yellow light to the green and some yellow ochre to another glob of the green mixture and have used these two new greens to start laying in the individual leaves in the background. I am just suggesting the leaves at this point and trying to not get too detailed in the background.....after all, the quilt is the subject and will be very detailed.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Quilt Commission

This is day one of the quilt commission. I have sketched the composition onto the canvas and begun a turpentine (orderless thinner) and color wash. I hate starting on a white canvas a feel some accomplishment when the white is gone.
I usually tone my canvases when doing a portrait or figural piece. Why I don't tone all my canvases is a mystery to me. Guess I am just in a hurry.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Quilt Painting Begun

I have been commissioned to do a painting of a very special quilt. I visited with the client to get a sense of their desires and ideas and took thousands of photos. After reviewing the photos, I did three sketches in color of three ideas I had for the composition and mailed them to the client. I have received back the client's choice of composition and size desired. Yesterday I began the painting by sketching it onto the canvas with charcoal. I began to wash in the background using a very thin mixture of color and turp. I will continue on the painting today and take some photos for the next blog.

Also, got an hour in the yard this morning. Planting some dwarf Alberta Spruces in pots around the fishpond. Swept a bazillion ants into the pond and the fish went crazy.......I am their favorite human.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Gardening Again

I can't believe that it has been three years since I had a veggie garden. My last garden was the summer I found out I had Lupus. At that point, I would work at anything for an hour and then need a two hour nap, my hair was falling out and I simply could not function like a normal 50 ish person. It was the last time that I did any canning and I had canned 40 quarts of tomatoes that year. Also I was exhausted all the time. Well, those tomatoes ran out this winter and I am putting in 18 or so tomatoe plants so I can stock up on my home canned tomatoes. I know this looks like a small plot, but I have 18 tomatoes, 16 various squash plants, 10 peppers, rouquet, swiss chard, beets, peas, basil, fennel and a few mystery plants......we did not label the row and I can't remember. I put in collards this morning. This is just half my normal garden. The other half out of the picture is filled with cut brush to be burned, but we did not get it burned before putting up the deer fence. Another fall task I suppose.
I feel really good today! I have worked in the garden an hour for the last three mornings and it has made such a difference in my mental and physical health. I know today will be a great day at the studio.