Thursday, May 2, 2019

Saving paint between painting sessions

I have been reading a lot of posts, comments, and questions on social media about how to save your paints from one session to the next.  This is especially important for those of us who don't paint everyday. Putting unused paint in the freezer works very well for me, but how to do it easily and conveniently is another matter entirely.  I have tried scraping my paints off my palette and placing them on palette paper and then folding the paper in half and putting it in a ziploc bag.  It worked, but I always lost a lot of paint in the process and it took time to take it off my palette and then put it back on before the next session.  I have tried numerous palette keepers on the market, all with the same issue. 

Palette Garage
Then I bought a palette garage.  You can get them at I would clip the plastic paint tray to my glass palette in the studio and stacked them on my strada easel for plein air painting, (go to their FAQs & Hints). When I was done I would place them in their housing and store them in the freezer.  That worked for a while but eventually the plastic tube that houses the paint tray cracked and became unusable.  My husband tried making me more durable housings but they were all too bulky and heavy. 

Bacon Keeper under 12$ on amazon
Finally we came up with a wonderful solution.  I found a plastic container called a bacon keeper on amazon. My husband cut a thin piece of wood so that it just fit into the bacon keeper and then glued little blocks of wood onto it for the paint trays to sit on, (as detailed in the palette garage FAQS and Hints).  He then cut the palette garage paint trays to the same length.  We glued the trays to the wood.  He cut another piece of wood and notched a groove into it so it works as a stand for the palette when I work in my studio.  When painting plein air I clip it to my strada with towel clips.

Palette on stand
Palette on Strada easel

The palette fits perfectly into the bacon keeper that I put into the freezer between sessions.  There is no paint or time wasted and the bacon keeper can sit upright in my backpack or paint bag so paint doesn't slide around.  There is room for 20 colors.  That is enough for my whole palette with room leftover for mixed colors I may need to finish a painting.
Palette in Bacon Keeper

So far this has worked out great!  There really is no need to buy a palette garage.  All you need to do is glue a thin piece of wood, (maybe cut from an old wooden palette), onto the little wood block shelves. You do need to have the tools to cut the wood, but other than that it is a very simple DIY project that should cost under 20$.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Tangier Island, VA

      Tangier Island, VA., located in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay, will most likely be gone in the next twenty years.  Climate change and sea erosion have doomed this truly unique place, displacing a people and wiping out a culture that has been there for over four centuries.  The entire island is less than 740 acres, with barely 83 habitable.  It is only 4 feet above sea level at its highest point, and that is changing rapidly.  The only way to get on or off the island is by boat or plane.  There are approximately 450 residents, most of whom can trace their lineage back to the 1700's.  Primarily watermen, crab and oysters, are their bread and butter.
"Tangier Island #1", Oil on Panel, 11"x 14"
"Tangier Island #2", Oil on Panel, 9"x 12"

 We visited the island this past September and it made a lasting impression on me. The roads are very narrow and most people get around on golf carts, bicycles, motorcycles, boats, or foot.  There are very few cars or trucks.  The town has one main street that runs past quaint old houses, a couple of restaurants, a gift shop, a museum, a grocery store, and an ice cream parlor.  There are a few cemeteries, a church, a marina, and one K-12 school. When we were there a good portion of the yards were flooded.  The island is so low that it is mostly marshland with bridges connecting the higher land masses.  We went for one day and I only brought my camera, but I hope to produce a series of paintings from my photographs and my memories.  These are the first two of my series.  Stay tuned for more!

Sunday, March 10, 2019

More Roses

"Red-Yellow Roses", Oil on Panel, 12"x 16"

I am a little behind in posting.  I finished this one few weeks ago. 

"Roses with Lemons", Oil on Panel, 11'x 14" 

"One Perfect Rose", Oil on Panel, 6"x 8"

And lastly I painted the perfect single red rose my valentine brought me on Valentine's Day.

Roses look very complicated and can be very intimidating.  But the trick is not to see the petals as petals but as shapes.  I start by putting in just a few large shapes.  Shadowed areas first and then go into each of those shapes and break them into smaller and smaller shapes with varying degrees of shadow.  Then add the shapes in the light.  I use cadmium red light , cadmium red medium, cadmium red deep, alizarin crimson, and ultramarine blue.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Roses, Roses, Roses

"Garden Roses", Oil on Panel, 9"x 12"
Just in time for Valentine's Day!
These past few weeks I have been painting roses in class.  Each week I am determined to paint something else but my instructor keeps bringing in the most beautiful bouquets.  I just can't resist!  I was inspired by a fellow student to paint just the flowers rather than the whole setup with the vase and tabletop.  "Garden Roses" depicts a small section of a large bouquet.  It was so much fun to be able to really concentrate on just the roses.  A friend of mine told me he was amazed at the detail in the roses.  I told him to look closer, because in reality, it is not detailed at all.  It is just masses of color and shape. 

"Pink Roses", Oil on Panel, 6"x 8"
"Pink Roses" was painted the week before "Garden Roses".  I am working at loosening up and I feel this painting was definitely a  success in that regard.  It was sort of a break through for me.  I am so excited to be going in this direction.  It is amazing how the most  intricate roses can be depicted with just the proper shape and shadow.

Work in Progress, Oil on Panel, 12"x 16"
This is a work in progress.  I started it in last Wednesday's class and I hope to finish it this week.  It is by far the most challenging of all these rose paintings.  The open petals are a beautiful yellow-green rimmed in red, while the inside is a stunning crimson. 

I wish I had taken photos of the process from the beginning.  I find myself concentrating so intensely that I keep forgetting to take photos along the way.  The process is so important and it's so interesting how masses and shapes morph into recognizable subjects. 

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Reworking an Old Painting

"Roses & Clementines", Oil on Panel, 12"x 16"

I frame most of my paintings and hang them all over my house.  I spend a lot of time studying them, deciding what I like and what I don't like.  I think we can learn a lot when we take stock of where we were and where we are now in our journey.  One of the things I love about working in oils is the ability to go back and rework a painting even years later.  I just reworked this painting for the second time. The first time I had a very flat background and decided to go wild on it with a palette knife and lighter color.  (See Below).  After a year of looking at it I realized the background was just way to busy and took away from the subject of the painting.  I also saw that the inside of the roses on the right were too large of a mass of one color.  I have done many more roses since I did these and I knew just how to fix them.  While I was at it I figured I might as well fix the the leaves on the left.  They were so stiff and artificial looking. 

Which one do you like better?

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Gerbera Daisies

"Gerbera Daisies", Oil on Panel, 16"x 12"

Happy New Year!!  I have been very busy with the holidays and my daughter moving into a new apartment.  So I had very little time to blog.  I did find some time to paint though!

This particular one was a struggle, but I am very pleased with the outcome.  Since the light on the petals was coming from behind some of the flowers, I finally figured out that I should paint the light in the petals first and then the dark over them, (instead of painting from dark to light).  It made all the difference!  Sometimes you have to break the rules.

The tablecloth was just a quick underpainting that I intended to go back and paint properly.  But everyone who saw the work in progress commented on how much they loved my tablecloth.  So I left it alone.
Sometimes less is more.
This is for sale on my website.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Study from the Dock

"Study from the Dock", Oil on Panel, 9"x 12"
This was our last week on the boat.  Time to winterize and haul out for the winter.  I hate this time of year, not because of all the work that has to be done, (and there is a lot), but because it is the end of the sailing season.  We did get in two final glorious days of sailing though, and I got a chance to do one more painting from the dock.  I tried this same view last year.  Maybe if I keep doing it over and over again I might get it right one day.  I am still struggling with boats.  The bright blue in the sky is Williamsburg King's Blue.  I bought it for a workshop with Howard Rose and I am determined to use it.  Might need to tone it down just a bit next time.  The sun was so bright and just an hour into the session it was right in my eyes. I couldn't really see my colors until I packed it in and brought it inside.  It is a little intense.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Revisiting an Old Painting

"Carnations", 6"x 8", Oil on Panel
I was reorganizing my studio storage closet and came upon a few paintings I had stashed away thinking they were worth revisiting someday.  I really liked this one but I had never actually finished it.  I painted it about a year ago when I had just an hour left in class and didn't want to overwork the painting I had just finished.  So I grabbed some leftover flowers and quickly did a palette knife painting.  I never thought much about it until I came upon it again this week.  It looked to me like I just needed to establish the shadows and define the stems and leaves a little more. I have to try this again soon.  I think the fact that I really didn't care about making a great painting helped me make a pretty good one!
P.S. I just sold the painting "Clementines" that I posted here two weeks ago.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Art in the Park

The Annual Bergen County Art in the Park was held yesterday in Van Saun Park, Paramus, NJ.  The event is free and open to any Bergen County, NJ artist.  Although there is no jury to enter, the works are juried and monetary prizes are awarded. Generally there are around 100 artists.  It was a good day but much colder than I expected.  Still lots of people came out and many were buying.  I sold three paintings!  I really enjoyed talking to other artists and potential collectors.
Congratulations to all the winners!

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Back to my Wednesday Class

"Clementines", 6"x 8", Oil on Cradled Panel
Yesterday was my first class after being away sailing on and off for the last 5 months.  I am very rusty, so I set up a very simple composition.  I really enjoyed being back and I think the painting was successful.
I take classes every Wednesday at the Ridgewood Art Institute in Ridgewood, NJ.  It is affectionately called 'The Barn', since it is actually in an old barn.  There are so many amazingly talented teachers and students there.  I highly recommend the school if you live in the area.  Check it out here.
My teacher, Patty Nebbeling, is without a doubt once of their best artists and teachers.  Check her out here.  Our class is a particularly wonderful group.  I love coming back after such a long absence and witness how much they have all grown as artists.  They are all so inspiring!

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Cloud Studies

Labor Day weekend I had an opportunity to do some cloud studies from the back of the boat.  I was inspired by Mary Gilkerson and her 31 day cloud study project. 
It was a very busy weekend on Battle Creek in the Patuxent River, MD.  We had anchored out right in the middle of the creek so we could catch some breeze.  It was brutally hot and we have no air conditioning when anchored out.  The residents there were, for the most part, very considerate and slowed down while passing us.  But there were three groups of water skiers and tubers that buzzed us all day Saturday. To be fair we were right in the middle of the creek.  So it was a challenge just standing upright yet alone painting!

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Workshop with Howard Rose

After my workshop with Patti I stayed on at the Greenville Arms for the next workshop.  Howard Rose is an extraordinary landscape and still life artist.  I particularly like his seascapes and beach and dune paintings.  He lives and works in Long Island, NY, and about six of his students from his regular classes came to the workshop.  One in particular, Joan Stevens, is quite talented and assisted him when necessary.  It was a pretty large class, so it was nice having an assistant making the rounds as well. 

Howard went above and beyond the regular class time of 9-4.  He would begin critiques of everyone's work at 4:30.  We barely got done in time for dinner!  He did a presentation after dinner every night.  The first night he highlighted all the various things we need to ask ourselves when critiquing or troubleshooting our work.  The second night's presentation was about all of his favorite contemporary artists. The third night he taught us about all the various phone apps he uses to manipulate his photos. On the last night, Joan treated us to the film "Loving Vincent"!

The first day of the workshop Howard did a short plein air demonstration on how to start a painting.  He identifies the major shapes and is insistent on making sure the drawing is correct before moving on.  Next he fills in the big shapes with an average color in the right value for each shape.  Half the class painted plein air in the morning, but all of us ended up in the studio by the afternoon, taking shelter from the oppressive heat and humidity.  And then the thunderstorms came.  I didn't finish this one yet. Still a work in progress
"The Shed",  Oil on Panel, 6"x 8", Work in Progress
The next morning we went on a field trip to Coxsackie, NY., a little picturesque town on the Hudson River.  There we took iPhone and iPad photos while Howard pointed out subjects and compositions that most people might overlook.  That afternoon we went back and painted from our photos.  As picturesque as the town was I really liked the photo I snapped of the truck bearing down on me.  I didn't finish this one either.
"Dump Truck", Oil on Panel, 6"x 8", work in Progress 
The last morning Howard did a demo painting of dunes.  He had a large photo album filled with small photos of seascapes and dunes.  I was inspired to do one myself.  At least this one is finished!
This was one of the best workshops I ever had!  Howard was able to pinpoint exactly what needed to be done at each stage of my painting.  He is also a lot of fun and a really nice guy.  I would post a link to his website but it is currently unavailable.  Joan Stevens can be found  here.   Lately she has been working on black canvas with wonderful results

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Workshop With Patti Mollica

I just came back from a three-day workshop with Patti Mollica.  She is primarily an acrylic painter and has published quite a few books and you tube videos on both color theory and her technique of painting fast, loose, and bold.  You can check her out at
3 tone value study
Patti has a unique way of teaching how to loosen up in both style and color.  She began by having us break down complicated compositions into large defined value shapes using only white, black, and a middle grey. 

3 tone value study
Then she showed us how to match those values with color, encouraging us to use a variety of colors within each value range.  The idea was to apply color directly onto the value studies.  Patti works in acrylics, and her method works better in that medium.  I worked in oils, so my value studies were not dry enough to apply color on top.  I used my studies as references instead of under paintings.

30 minute painting
She taught us how to use large brushes to apply brushstrokes in a vast array of shapes and sizes.  We practiced her loose painting style with 30-minute paintings and 15 brushstroke paintings. 

Patti is an attentive teacher and very good at getting around to everyone.  Her technique is easy to understand, very well presented, and a lot of fun!  I really enjoyed her workshop as did my daughter, who is a graphic designer but a complete novice at painting.  I highly recommend attending any of her classes or workshops!