Sunday, August 24, 2014

Spending Time With Julie Ford Oliver

watercolor on Yupo

I met Julie Ford Oliver through blogging two years ago and if memory serves me right, we had an instant connection.  I fell in love with her exquisite and highly technical paintings and she seemed to really like the stories in my art.  She often offered praise and insight that fed my desire to continue to paint.  Like any artist, I sometimes question my skills, my subjects, all of it really, and it has been the seasoned and experienced artists like Julie who come along and lift me up and help me push forward.  Through our numerous emails, I not only had come to appreciate having a mentor, but had made a dear friend.

So long story short, last Spring Julie invited me to come to New Mexico to paint with her at her studio. After losing my mother in early July, this invitation became something I felt I really had to do. So I packed my bags and my paints and headed to Las Cruces. 

The week was FULL of happy moments.

New Mexico
Like walks in the desert.

White Sands National Monument

Riding down the sand dunes on a sled!  Wee!

Pasture in Lincoln Forest

Visiting Julie's friends in the mountains.

New Mexico skies

Marveling at the frequent changes in the sky.

Stormy New Mexico sky

Sunset in New Mexico

 Watching the sunrise and sunset.  Each one was different.

Old building in Mesilla, New Mexico

Walking around looking at blue doors and wonderful New Mexico architecture.  

Blue garden gate
It was like walking into a Julie Ford Oliver Painting!

Julie Ford Oliver in front of her studio
Then we headed for Julie's studio where she teaches.  

oil on 8 x 8 inch canvas

I painted on black canvas for the first time.  It makes it so easy to outline the seemed to really help with the drawing  The little blue vase is one of Julie's still life objects...I just had to paint it. 

oil on 10 x 10 inch canvas

Julie talked a lot about design and use of color...I tried to think about both in the above piece.  The above drippy marks are from a wash with oil and mineral spirits.  I let them be, so the white is raw canvas showing through.  We thought it looked neat, so I left it that way.

oil on 9 x 12 inch oil primed linen

All the vibrant colors of New Mexico obviously inspired the above piece.  I didn't have time to finish it, but I was happy with where it was going.  Oil primed linen is nice to paint on.  It seemed to grab the colors off the brush more easily than gesso primed canvas.

I had two other paintings, a pear and a cityscape, but the photos are too blurry.  In those I visited the use of color again and did some negative painting which was pretty fun to do.

Julie Ford Oliver and me

The week was amazing.  It was so full of beauty....the landscape...the incredible people I met...the food...the art...the sunsets...the warm sun...the rain.

But the best part was Julie.  Hands down.  Julie.  A gem of a lady.

 Julie is a mega-talented artist and a sought-after teacher.  Her paintings have been published in books and magazines and have sold world wide.  She won't tell you any of this though...she is quite humble about it all. If you don't know her art, do yourself a favor and  visit her here. I highly recommend her very inexpensive fracturing technique video.  It is what gives her art that special it's been broken and put back together.  Kind of like this past week did for me...I was broken...and now I am a little more together.

Thank you, thank you Julie.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Searchers for a Place Called Home

Searchers for a Place Called Home
mixed media on 16 x 20 inch hard hoard
available on Etsy next week

The layers helped me paint this painting.  I caked on the layers with acrylic paint using a palette knife, then brushes, then sponges, then palette knife again and so on.  I kept layering until it looked good to me and little by little the figures appeared...and then the houses.  

 The title came after.  As I was painting the words seeking and finding and searching kept coming...thus the title.  They looked like they were looking for something or someone to me.


It felt so easy...this painting...because the colors were making me so happy from the start.  Often this is not the is usually more of a battle.


It went a little lighter and cooler from the starting place (see it a couple of posts back), but this was necessary to give the whole thing some unity.  I could have warmed it up again, but I just felt like letting it be, signing my name and moving on.  It seemed done as is, though it was one of those pieces where you could just keep going...keep adding...keep changing.  I am so glad I listened to my instincts and stopped.


Because now I can finish my other piece....soon.  But first I must go somewhere special.  

 I will explain about a week.

I love that you stopped by.
See you soon!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

City Alley

City Alley
23 x 11 inch oil on cedar board

Would you believe this painting was actually completed back in May?  I had every intention of showing it at the gallery, but I liked it so much that it never made it there.  The happy yellow buildings hang in a high traffic area of our home and every time I look at it I want to book a flight to New York City. There is something about that city...the way the trees grow in the middle of pavement...the window boxes full of flowers on apartment buildings...the charming brownstone buildings with their inviting stone steps...little green parks practically every few blocks...aesthetic pleasures in abundance.  If forced to chose, the quiet country suits me best, however the city holds a special place in my heart.

Saturday, August 9, 2014


Mint Green Dress
4 x 6  inch mixed media on paper
available here

Hello there everyone...not much to say...but wanted to share a couple of things that I have not shared before.  The above little painting I did just last week.  It was something I did in between the two larger paintings that are in progress.  I have joked with some of you about having ADD, but I am serious.  There are times when I just go off the trail, but in my book, there are no rules in art.  Right?  The world is free.

Sketchbook 8 1/2 x 11
mixed media

The above is a sketch I did from an old photo a while back.  Would you believe I paid $4 for that photo at an antique shop?!?!  It spoke to me and I had to have it.  It will be a "painting painting" (aka - a real painting) some day, rather than a sketch.  I used to have a deep LOVE for baby strollers like this one when I was a child.  If memory serves me right, I had one that was bright orange with BIG 1970's-like flowers on the cover or shade.  I loved it and my dolls went everywhere in that thing.  I may have even tried to put my toy poodle in there.  :)

FYI:  the 8 1/2 x 11 inch sketchbooks are a great way to have some space to "try out" potential paintings.  So if you don't have a large sketchbook, you may want to consider it.  Mine is a Moleskin, but any large sketchbook will do. 

Happy weekend!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Textured Oil Painting.

in progress
oil on 9 x 12 inch panel

In my last post I mentioned an oil painting I had started  during a class I am taking that was all about building texture first.  Here it is at its current stage.  This is definitely a different way to work for me and creates a challenge because I mostly paint with my gut and this way of painting seems to require a lot more thinking ahead than I am used to.  Big bumps and lines can really make a face or an arm look bizarre.

Below is how it started out. I  smeared thick goopy gobs of paint mixed with Gamlin Solvent-Free Gel onto the panel with a palette knife.  The gel helps speed the drying time and adds texture.  The emphasis in this initial layer was all about texture and interesting brush strokes in various places.

Once my background was pleasing, I drew the figures into the paint.  It didn't take long to do all of this and then I had to let it dry...all week...before it was ready to be worked on again without messing up the texture I had created.  That is why I ended up beginning the 16 x 20 inch mixed media piece in the last post.  I needed something to do while this was drying!  So this may be my new do an oil painting in layers and either acrylic, mixed media or drawing in between.

in progress (initial stage)

 Everything done today (the first photo) was in a thin layer so it will dry quickly allowing me to move forward anytime. I just painted details on faces and added some thin strokes of color to the background and clothing. All this was done under the instruction of our teacher in the class Brian Hinkle.  He is an encyclopedia in all things art and has all kinds of different ideas on technique.  Everyone in the class is just doing their own thing and Brian helps us when we need it.  It is a great environment to work in and learn in.

Thank you all for your visits and comments.  I so appreciate it!
See you soon!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Work in Progress: Building up Layers

work in progress
mixed media 16 x 20 inch panel

This past week in the art class I am attending, we talked about building up textures before painting in any subjects or figures.  I started two new in in mostly acrylic.  These photos are the acrylic work.

detail of WIP

I used this new-to-me build the texture and interesting strokes first, and then paint in the story.

detail of WIP

It is a bit difficult for me to just think about colors and texture first because I want to see the story come alive right away.  

detail of WIP

A problem that can occur with adding the texture first is that bumps and lines can appear where you may not want them.  On the face, for example.  However, that can be fixed easily with sandpaper.  I just have to learn to not get attached to things in the painting too quickly.  For example, this droopy sad face below.  I love it, but there are areas that need help, so it will likely have to change. 

detail of WIP

I started this painting using a palette knife.  That is the best way to get the thick layers immediately.  There are also several acrylic washes done with brushes, sponges and washcloth.  I love how every little tool makes a different mark.

You can click on the photos to see the details more clearly.

Have a great weekend.  Thanks for your visit!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Hattie's Rake Makes the Flowers Happy: The Inspiration and Process

Hattie's Rake Makes the Flowers Happy
oil on 16 x 20 inch paper

The Inspiration

This past Spring I did a lot of yard work.  I raked every inch of our backyard hoping to aerate the lawn and of course clean out the flowerbeds.  The hard work paid off because the grass became lush and green, and the flowers perked up with joy.  And as if all that raking wasn't enough, I went crazy and performed a brick patio facelift...pulling every brick up and replacing them in a more pleasing way.  Of course all this backyard activity sparked  a sketch in my sketchbook sweetie Moleskin and then ultimately this painting.  A self portrait?  Not really.  But it was very inspired by my own backyard.

 I wish we really could grow sunflowers just off the patio, but it's too shady to do so.
Below are some up-close pictures for you.  I plan to mount this painting to a hard board once it is dry and then it will go to Tessera Fine Art Gallery to hopefully find a new home.




The Process

This has been in the works for quite some time.  It went through many phases and then all of a sudden it looked done.  Just like that.  I had planned to experiment with texture, but somehow getting the composition just right took over my process.  At one point there was a large tree trunk along the left side of the painting, but I painted it out and things just seemed to work from there.   Also, the sunflowers were at first just three circular shapes in a row (very boring), so I changed those to give them various heights and ultimately some movement.

 I used Daler-Rowney Georgian Oil Paper, which comes in pads. It stayed nice and flat the whole time I painted which surprised me because this is not a top-of-the-line brand.  I did not tape the edges down, I just held it in place with a clip at the top of a large wood board. I thought the edges would curl and was pleasantly surprised when they didn't.

Color Palette (various brands):
Ivory Black
Titanium White
Titan Buff
Prussian Blue
Cerulean Blue
Naples Yellow
Yellow Ochre
Burnt Sienna
Vermilion (Hue)

Favorite color combos in this piece:
 Cerulean, titan buff and a touch of ivory black for the sky...I love a moody sky.
Vermilion and titan buff makes the prettiest soft pinks.
Burnt Sienna makes everything look like the earth.

walnut oil
mineral spirits
Gamlin Solvent-Free Gel

Have a beautiful rest of the week.