Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Making of "The Adjustment"

The Adjustment
16 x 20
Oil on Raymar Panel


I recently posted this little ballerina adjusting her straps before a performance.  While going over my notes I realized I had taken pictures of each stage of my painting process.  I don't paint all my paintings this way but I would say a majority of them begin very similarly.  

Here I picked out the support that I thought would best suit the composition.  I knew I wanted the arms, body and part of the legs to be in the painting.  I blocked in the approximate composition for placement purposes.  I couldn't resist putting some darks and lights on the arms and that wonderful shadow on her back indicating the shoulder blade.  

I wanted to play with the tutu next.  I blocked in the darks and lights here.  I tried to mix a color of paint...then lay it down and leave it.  I am just indicating folds.  

The hair block in was next.  Again, I just concentrated on laying down color and leaving it.  No blending or noodling with the paint.  Strong, bold brush strokes.  Notice on my final version of this painting the hair is exactly as it is now.  I didn't touch it after my block in of lights and darks.  

While working on each section I have been revisiting the arms and making sure they are placed properly and the hands tugging on the straps of her tutu.  I lightly indicated the legs here.  My decision was...should I try to make the tights fit her legs properly...or make them oversized and a bit wrinkled.  The challenge is to make them interesting without making them a focal point.  

You can see I decided to go with slightly wrinkled tights.  I adjusted the hands some more and made sure the straps were raised to emphasize the adjustment.  I wanted the background to be subtle so I use a complimentary gray/green.  I also added a bit more detail to the dress.  

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Adjustment - Ballerina adjusting her straps

The Adjustment
16 x 20
Oil on Raymar Panel


One of the reasons I love to paint ballerinas so much is because of the freedom painting tutu gives me.  I begin by laying in darks and letting the skirt take shape.  Once the darks are all in I lay the medium colors in...adjusting as I go.  I never try to exactly mimic the tutu I am looking at...I take artistic license to let the paint flow and form the skirt.  Once I get a good shape I add some highlights to show off the shape of the skirt.  

In this particular painting the girl was not really playing with her straps.  When I started painting I thought it would tell a good story.  I imagine a little girl just getting her outfit on ready for her recital.  She nervously adjusts her straps while walking towards the stage.  I love that her tights were loose and baggy.  

It was just a fun piece to paint.  

Thursday, May 7, 2015


This is a small 11 x 14 sketch of Kaitlyn.  She and her mom were kind enough to visit my studio and pose for me.  Stormy, Kaitlyn's mom, is in the Army...a 1st Sergeant.  I asked them to pose for my ongoing military life series.  Stormy brought her uniform so I could depict typical military scenes that were parts of my everyday life.  I expected Stormy to be easy to direct because she is a beauty pageant winner and very poised.  Kaitlyn was a delightful surprise.  She took direction well and has such thoughtful, soulful features.  I did this quick sketch to warm up for some larger pieces I am working on.  

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Military Life Series

I have an ongoing series depicting scenes from military life.  As a military brat (which is the term lovingly used for children of military parents), military spouse and military mom I have extensive exposure to the military lifestyle…its trials and tribulations…its joys and adventures.  I have been compiling memories and stories from friends and family to capture these memories on canvas.  I paint from my heart and express emotion in my work.  I have the ideas, the memories, and the stories…what I lack are the models to depict these scenes.  Have a small group of neighbors that will pose for me setting up scenarios and portraying my memories.  Some I can paint from life and some I must photograph to work on my own.  I am always on the lookout for appropriate models to come and pose for me.  

I painted this as a representation of a family getting ready for deployment.  The father is going overseas for a number of months...up to a year.  It is not easy for families to endure these separations...but military families are tough.  

This piece shows a young child with his hand over his heart as they play taps at the end of the day.  At sundown, on a military installation, music is piped through a loudspeaker.  As soon as the music starts activity stops.  Everyone stands and either salutes or places their hand over their heart and faces the flag...if they can't see the flag they face the general direction... as a sign of respect for the lowering of the flag.  As soon as the music stops activity resumes.  

This is a fun piece.  I did that portrait of my son when he was deployed to Afghanistan.  It was shown at a local gallery. when my daughter in law visited she leaned over to give him a kiss.  I thought it was a perfect moment.  I did a painting of it that I gifted to my daughter in law.  

And now a favor!  If you have any stories of military experiences that you think will add to my series I would love to hear from you!  Please send stories and or pictures by commenting on this blog.  Of course if anyone lives nearby and would be kind enough to model...my door is always open and my schedule is flexible!  

Monday, April 20, 2015


20 x 30
Oil on Canvas

Painting is all about shadows and light and there is nothing more interesting (to me) than painting light.  I am always on the lookout for a white dress or white accessories...something light to challenge myself.  A few weeks ago while at a local flea market I found this fabulous white kimono.  

The conversation went something like this...
me:  May I see that kimono (which was up on a mannequin on a high shelf)
vendor:  I only want to take it down if you really think you want to buy it. (grousing)
me: (trying to contain my excitement) I am seriously considering it (game face on)
vendor...takes the kimono down
me...whipped out cash and paid him so fast his head spun!  

I called one of my favorite models to come over and decided to put my coromandel screen in the background and began painting.  What fun! 

I am sure I will use this kimono often...and I am constantly on the lookout for other props!  

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Getting Ready - A mother's encouraging hand

"Getting Ready"
6 x 6
Oil on Raymar panel


Pablo Picasso said "painting is just another way of keeping a diary."  Truer words were never spoken.  I love telling stories with my paintings...but it is not always my story.  This particular painting is a mother fixing her daughter's hair before a ballet performance.  The girl looks a little worried...the mother is calm and reassuring her daughter.  Who doesn't appreciate the confident, calm voice of reason telling you that everything will be all right...that you will be fabulous...and that the audience will love you.  It is a classic moment.  

Though this particular moment is not my story...it is representative of my mom's encouragement.  She would always tell me that everything would be all right...that I can accomplish anything I put my mind to...that the sky is the limit.  

Because of my family's belief in me I have always set high goals.  I aim high...I believe I can...

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Pink Boots

Pink Boots
Oil on Canvas


Recently I was visited by a beautiful ballerina wearing pink cowgirl boots!  How fun is that?  Can you imagine how excited I was when she walked into my own home???  I was so excited!  I was able to get a few snapshots before she twirled off into the sunset!