“A Touch of Home” – oil on canvas – 12″ x 16″
First of all, welcome to all the new readers that I’ve told about my blog in the past few days – gentle folk who have passed through our gallery and left me with wonderful memories and stories. I hope that you’ll find the artwork displayed here enjoyable to see – and maybe you’ll even find something you’d like to give a home to. Each of these paintings are very special to me – and most have a story to go along with them.
I worked on this still life for two days in the gallery, and then took it home to have a second look and to put on some finishing touches. Soon it will be signed and framed. In my living room I have a place where I can set up still life setups and they are illuminated by western light. When the afternoon sun comes streaming in, it touches everything with a wonderful golden radiance. Fresh flowers are always a favorite component of these arrangements, but I also include fresh fruit and some of the decorative cobalt blue bottles I’ve collected through the years. I like the cut glass vase not only for its faceted design but also the way it picks up the color of adjacent objects.
“Desert Hills” – 5″ x 7″ pastel
The colors of the desert near Palm Springs provided the inspiration for this small pastel painting, which I worked on today. It was quite gray and drizzly today at the show, but it didn’t seem to dampen the spirits of our visitors.
Just to give you an idea of what a difference a frame can make, here’s an example of how this little painting might look with a simple gold frame
“Under Autumn Skies” – 11 x 14 oil on canvas
This was the painting I worked on yesterday at Descanso Gardens’ Carriage House Gallery. I did a good part of it during the day while I gallery-sat, then finished the rest at home in the evening.
The place is the upper Arroyo Seco, north of Devil’s Gate Dam – AKA “Hahamongna Park.” When the weather starts to turn the river-loving willow trees turn yellow and big puffy clouds billow over the San Gabriel Mountains, as they did a few days ago. But the graceful eucalyptuses continue to provide a gray-green accent, year round.
Today I worked on a still life painting, which I will try to finish up this evening or in the next few days.
Although I am used to painting every day, the experience of demonstrating for the public every day has been good for me. The response has been positive and people really seem to enjoy seeing art as it is being made. If you’re in Southern California, I hope you can come up for a visit before the show ends at 4 pm October 11!
“Azalea Spring” 5×7 oil on board
Today I enjoyed visits from Ginny L. and Louisa M. of our Wednesday morning paint out group, as well as from Nan and her friend Barbara, two other art buddies. One of our son’s friend’s mother dropped by as well, so I had a wonderful time socializing and painting all day today. Having good friends visit just makes the day fly by!
This small painting represents a shady glen at Descanso when the azaleas are in full bloom.
“Onion and Peppers” – 5″ x 7″ oil
Yesterday, my “Blackberry Summer” still life painting found a home with a collector, so I painted another little vignette in the same still life genre. It’s soaking wet, which is why the top of the painting is glistening from the light shining on it. When this is dry it will go to the gallery, unless it gets nabbed from the blog first.
Today I think I might paint some cut flowers as part of my demonstration today. When we arrived on Sunday morning to get ready for our reception, we saw that some beautiful flowers were being removed from the manor house nearby – there had been a wedding the night before. I inquired about the destination for the flowers and rescued them from a fate in a landfill. There was plumeria, bells of Ireland, lisiatris, roses, hydrangea and many other beauties. If they’re still a few fresh ones this morning I think it might be interesting to turn into a watercolor or small oil painting. I’m going to play it by ear.
I have been remiss in responding to all the lovely comments and good wishes you’ve left here and sent to me privately in the past few weeks. I want you to know that I appreciate each and every one of them and I am not ignoring you. I’m just very short on sleep and have to stay focused on painting and prepping each night for the day to come. I promise to make the rounds of seeing what you all are doing, and answering questions, just as soon as I can. Karen
“Winging Home” 16 x 20 oil on canvas (Zuma Beach – Malibu)
Today was a wonderful day in so many ways. The reception took place as planned and I had the opportunity to visit for awhile with friends old and new. My college roommate, Bobbi, came with her husband and mom and we have vowed to set aside some time to catch up on all our lives. Some of our clients came to join in the fun as did new friends like Holly the creekhiker who I’ve been enjoying through her blog. Our son Michael came up to spend the day with us and that was great, too. Labelle Kel is in Chicago at Northwestern, but she was with us in spirit. We had a very good turnout and I think that everyone had a good time, too. I know I sure did.
I didn’t paint today since we were busy meeting and greeting everyone, so tonight I pulled out a reference photo of Zuma Beach generously offered by my good friend Wendee who is designer and teacher at Art Center. I am indeed blessed to have so many talented and creative friends. My roommate Bobbi, mentioned above, is an outstanding writer and PR consultant; Holly is a marvelously talented glassworker and TV producer, and our friend Jeannie Poole, who also visited today, is a wonderful musician who has composed and conducted symphonies.
And I am eagerly looking forward to Wednesday when a group of my paint out friends will be having their weekly paint out at Descanso and making the trek up the hill to visit our little gallery.
Now, about this painting.
I confess that the last time I painted a seascape in oil I was about 14-15 years old and in high school. I took oil painting lessons for a few summers and occasionally painted on Saturdays until the academic schedule got too tough, and then I gave it up. I have often wondered what would have happened if I had rigorous training back then, rather than casual hobby type lessons. The road not taken, sigh. College came, and marriage and work and a family and so many good things. And there have been many summers between then and now. But I have rediscovered my bliss and intend to follow it all the rest of my days. Who is “winging home?” I am. Back to what did and always will bring me joy – painting.
Are you following your bliss? (as Joseph Campbell would have said.) If not, what are you waiting for?
“On Descanso Pond” 5 x 7″ oil on gessoed board
There is a large pond (or a small lake) at Descanso Gardens where migrating birds stop to rest. Turtles swim in the water and herons are commonly seen wading in the distance along the far shore. A large white goose seems to be the king of the roost. Today I painted this small landscape while visitors passed by the gallery.
I’m very happy with how it turned out, and at the suggestion of my co-exhibitor Laura, I think I will use it as a basis for a much larger painting. If this dries quickly I might even bring it back to our reception on Sunday – party time – noon to four!
We had many pleasant talks, and I especially enjoyed my time with a very precocious young lady of 3 or 4 who was very interested in mixing colors. We discussed the names of everything on my palette and I mixed a few colors to show her how it all worked. At the end she picked out a sunflower from my cards to put in her room. I like the idea of that sunflower greeting her every morning when she wakes up.
I was delighted also to meet a lovely betrothed couple who are going to have their wedding in Greece. I am quickly discovering that one of the very best things about doing the show is all the interesting new and friendly people I get to meet. Painting and good conversation – could there be any better way to spend a day?
“September Clouds” – 11 x 15 watercolor on paper – plein air
I couldn’t imagine a more picture perfect day than the one I had today. Although there was the suggestion of a weather front on the way, the cumulus clouds merely circled our little valley, putting on one of the grandest display of cloudage that I’d ever seen. So I set up my easel outside of our gallery and devoted the day to cloud studies. The colors and patterns changed literally by the moment and sometimes I’d start painting one cloud and finish with details from another. Overall, it was an excellent opportunity to explore the many shapes and hues that clouds provide in a landscape. Creating soft edges and hard edges, painting wet in wet, charging pigment into semi-wet paint, doing dry brush, utilizing oozles and glazing, lifting pigment and creating texture with sponges, clouds give you the opportunity to try it all. These clouds were painted around noontime.
Also, one of the real joys of being at the Descanso Gallery is meeting all of the nice people who come by to chat about art and the gardens. I can’t think of anything I’d rather do on a crisp pre-fall day.
Golden Days – a highway near Lompoc – 12 x 16 oil on canvas
This painting will be used in the movie “So We Bought a Zoo,” starring Scarlet Johansen and Matt Damon – Christmas 2011
“Windswept” 18 x 24 oil on canvas
This new painting was finished just a few days ago, and will be in the show at Descanso Gardens, now just two days away. It’s my favorite painting, so far, for a few reasons. For one, it’s the largest oil painting I’ve attempted and probably represents the most dynamic design. The larger size meant using larger brushes and standing back farther. Although I did the block in part sitting down, all the finishing was done standing, which was a different experience for studio painting. I almost always stand when painting en plein air, but not in studio.
The best part was the inspiration for this piece. A month or so ago we visited our daughter in San Francisco where she was doing her summer internship between the two years of her MBA program. We went up to Mt. Tamalpais for the day and had great time wandering through a redwood grove. On the way back we got caught up in the traffic returning over the Golden Gate bridge, and our movement came to a standstill. When I’m a passenger in a car, I almost always have my camera at the ready, and this time, I happened to see a tree clinging to a cliffside we passed. The light was striking it in a particularly dramatic way and I was immediately started thinking of creative possibilities. (It was not a cloudy day – I made that part up.) So because we were frustrated and inconvenienced, this shot became a possibility. Speeding by at 60 mph, it wouldn’t have been.
This incident reminds me of the value of acceptance. Acceptance of things the way they are, rather than how we would like them to be. Possibilities are all around us if we are not fixated on achieving specific results.
For example, you run out of the color of paint you want as you are beginning a painting. Use a different color and see what happens. Water dribbles in the wrong place on your watercolor. Is it an error or a doorway to a new shape that you might not have tried? You leave your pencil sharpener at home and have to sharpen a tool with an exacto knife instead – creating a different sort of edge. I’ve heard stories of artists who suddenly develop an allergy to their medium of choice, and have to switch to another, leading to breakthroughs in their careers. These stories are abundant in art and other endeavors.
Have you had this happen to you? How did it change your art or, even more so, your life? How did acceptance of something unexpected or even unwelcome make a difference for you?