Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

Morning Fog- 8 1/4 x 10 1/4
Vine charcoal on Twinrocker handmade paper
Available at Deborah Paris Fine Art

I'm about 24 hours behind on this post but I did not want the day to end before wishing you all Merry Christmas. After a lovely Christmas Eve with family we woke to a dusting of snow here in northeast Texas. Tonight was cold and starry. God bless us, everyone.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas Comes Early

Stream Study -7 1/2 x 6 3/4
Vine Charcoal on Strathmore paper
Available at Deborah Paris Fine Art

For artists there are few things that can match the excitement of new materials. A trip to the art supply store is like a pilgrimage. Living in a very rural area has curtailed that particular pleasure for me, as my supplies these days arrive in bundles from the UPS guy. Still, one of the first things I do when a new roll of canvas arrives is unwrap it and unroll just a little so I can feel and smell it.

A few weeks ago artist Brian McGurgan mentioned on his blog a source for paper-Twinrocker Handmade Paper. As I am teaching an online class on drawing and painting trees soon, Ive been trying out different papers for pencil and charcoal. So, I ordered their sample swatch set and a few small sheets of one of their papers. What pure delight to open that package and find such beautiful papers! That day the UPS guy looked a lot like Santa.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Why Draw?

Tree Study 5 1/4 x 9 1/4
Vine charcoal on Twinrocker handmade paper


Landscape painters often think they don't need to draw. Or, if they do, they study life drawing but leave the drawing materials in the studio rather than taking them to the field. In the 19th century artists often used drawing as a way to record information which would later be used in studio paintings. Although we think of the 19th century as the time when droves of landscape painters headed outdoors, often they brought their sketchbooks rather than their paints.

Drawing lends itself to both the sketch -what John Constable called "that which you were at the time" -and the more considered study. In both cases the economical time and materials invested in a drawing can bear much fruit.

Study of Mangrove Trees
7 1/2 x 9 3/4
Vine charcoal on Strathmore paper

Thumbnail sketches help us explore compositional ideas, sketches can quickly record a fleeting effect, and studies provide raw material for studio work. I've also come to see recently that my drawings often help me work out the visual shorthand I need to describe something in a painterly way.

My new online class- Drawing & Painting Trees- filled so quickly that I've opened up a second section for those who missed out. Information and registration is here.
Update: 5 spots left!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Autumn- Rick's Pool
8 x 12
Vine charcoal on Strathmore paper


Every once in a while you have to shut down and reboot your artistic energy . I've just come off an intense three months in which I completed almost 40 paintings for various shows and events. Although I have a solo show coming up in February at M Gallery in Sarasota, this week I just couldn't pick up a brush. Instead, I made a series of charcoal drawings- some studies for paintings I have in mind to do for the show and some simply for pleasure. I feel better already!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Drawing & Painting Trees

Southwest Corner
7 1/4 x 8 7/8
Vine charcoal on Strathmore 500 paper

For landscape artists, trees are arguably the most important raw material of our craft and art. Their very individual character, their attitude as living beings within the landscape make them a source of endless fascination and challenge for the artist. Artists in the 19th century routinely sketched and painted studies of these sentinels of nature in order to understand their structure as well as their artistic bearing. These drawings and studies were then used to create larger studio works.

I have a new online class scheduled- Drawing and Painting Trees. I plan to structure it as an online atelier for the study of this most important subject. You can go HERE (scroll down) to read more and to register. Class is limited to 10 students - 3 spots left!

More Inspiration

I was walking back to the house from the studio a few days ago, watching the late light flicker through the trees on the southwest corner of our property. I turned around and saw this- the rising moon. The white oak still holding onto its autumn color provided a beautiful warm note. Of course what the photo didn't pick up was that lovely pinkish hue at the bottom of the sky. And that, of course, is why you have to get out there and see it for yourself.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Finding Inspiration

As I've written here and here, for many years I painted all over the West and routinely sought inspiration in the big views it affords from the Rockies, to the high desert of New Mexico , to the splendor of Big Sur in California. When we moved to northeast Texas in May 2007, the landscape here felt comfortable, much like the north Florida and Georgia landscapes where I spent my early years. What I never expected was to be so utterly and completely captivated by its ordinary charms. As I've described before, this part of Texas is where the prairies of north central Texas meet the piney woods of the South. Its also a very rural, agricultural area which was once dominated by cotton and logging, now by a variety of crops and ranching. There are wide expanses of ranch land, cultivated fields, woods full of pines and oaks, streams and ponds- scattered around gently rolling hills, all in a distinct four season climate. While there is nothing dramatic or majestic about any of it, it is a constant source of inspiration for my work.

Perhaps most surprising of all is how close to home my favorite painting grounds are. In fact, the southwest corner of our property is my favorite place of all-particularly at this time of year. The sun has migrated far enough south that it streams through these trees in late afternoon. Every evening is different and often different minute to minute. I sometimes think I could paint this- just this- forever.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Sunset Pines

Sunset Pines
11 x 14
Available at Galerie Kornye West, Ft. Worth, TX

This is one of several smaller pieces in the Little Gems holiday show at Galerie Kornye West on December 4. If you are in the Metro area, stop in and see me!

Just 4 spots left in Section II of the Painting the Luminous Landscape online class in January. Info and registration here.

Update: Class is FULL

Friday, November 20, 2009

Online Classes & Workshops

Although my online class Painting the Luminous Landscape starting in January is full, I'm opening up a second section of the class (each section is limited to 10 students) because I've got a number of people on a waiting list and others who have expressed interest. The dates are the same as Section I. So, here is the link for information and registration - 6 spots left!
Update: FULL

There is also one spot left in the Advanced Workshop at my studio in April. Here is the link for information and registration (scroll down past info on Florida workshop).

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Evening Pines

Evening Pines
24 x 20
Available at Galerie Kornye, Dallas

As I've mentioned before here, this part of Texas is called the Piney Woods. I think its one of the reasons the landscape here resonates with me. There is a pleasing combination of open fields and pastures, ponds and creeks and these tall, elegant pines.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Autumn Light

Autumn Light
24 x 30
Available at Galerie Kornye, Dallas

Every year this time, I have to adjust to the changing light. The thing I notice most is that the light is "harder" - a result of less moisture (humidity) in the air. We've had so much rain this fall, this hasn't really been noticeable until this week. Soon, the moisture returns in the form of lovely winter fog. But, for now, the clarity of the light is striking.

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Gift

Evening's Approach
24 x 48
Private Collection

This week a gallery director called me a mid-career artist. I had to laugh considering that my upcoming birthday on Sunday (it has a big zero on the end and that's all I'm saying!) might not qualify me for being "mid" anything. Needless to say, I've been reflecting a lot this week about my life and my work. I most definitely feel a sense of urgency that didn't exist even a few years ago. But, I am choosing to focus on something else right now. Despite the frustrations and uncertainties of an artist's life, I would not want any other life. Its greatest gift is a sense of perpetual becoming- that there are always new things to learn, new ways to see, and new work to be done.

Friday, October 30, 2009


12 x 12
Available at Blackheath Gallery, London

I took this image using a tripod but it looks like a Halloween poltergeist got into my studio and was shaking the camera. Really, I don't know why its so blurry! The bad news is I didn't get around to checking it until after the piece had left the studio. Lesson learned.

As of this morning I have one spot left in the online Luminous Landscape class for January. Information and registration here Update :Class is now full. Email me if you would like to be notified about upcoming classes.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Blackheath Gallery Christmas Show & New Galleries

Remains of the Day
10 x 10

This painting and a half dozen others are on their way across the Big Pond to the Christmas show at Blackheath Gallery in London. The show opens November 7.

I am very pleased to say that I am now represented by Galerie Kornye in Dallas and Galerie Kornye West in Ft. Worth. I'll have work in the Holiday open house at the Dallas gallery on November 19 and the Miniatures Show in Ft. Worth which opens December 4.

Also very happy to say that Evening Embers sold at the Albuquerque Museum Miniatures & More gala on October 24!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Tabernacle Frame Revisited

Tabernacle frames have been around for a long time. I didn't realize just how long until recently. Many of us are familiar with the Renaissance versions of this frame and even later 18th century and early 20th century styles. But in researching the history of this frame design, I discovered that its development formed the basis of the modern frame. Its a little like the "missing link" between architecture and the modern fine art frame.

Its proper name is an aedicule which means loosely "little house". It has its origins in the 4th century cathedrals which sprung up all over the Roman Empire once Christianity had been sanctioned. Its purpose was to house sacred altarpieces and it was designed to be attached to and part of the architecture surrounding it. Its basic elements- two columns topped with an entablature or pediment- would become the standard design concept of framing. Byzantine and Gothic examples abound. Much later, in the 16th century, the idea of portability was introduced and the form was used to "house" non religious subjects. The detached frame was born. But, craftsman instinctively used the "little house" design concepts when making the earliest frames for easel paintings. Over the centuries, the aedicule form came in and out of fashion and echoed the architectural and design components of the day.

The frame shown above on Twilight Moon is our contemporary version of the tabernacle frame. Its proportion and design echoes the traditional elements but gives a more contemporary, though still traditional look to the frame. The panel is a matte dark maroon surrounded by a distressed gold outer molding with a distressed gold inner lip.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Mood Makers

Twilight Moon
10 x 10

I just finished teaching the last week of the Magic Hours online class. One of the things I tell students wanting to learn about the Tonalist aesthetic is that mood is an important component of this painting style. And although it might seem difficult to quantify or analyze the elusive concept of mood, it can be translated into the language of painting. Very close values and tightly focused color harmonies are what I call "the mood makers".

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Evening Pool

Evening Pool
10 x 12

This is one of the three smaller pieces I am exhibiting at the Albuquerque Museum Miniatures & More show. The gala opening is on October 24 and I am looking forward to a road trip over to New Mexico. I'll spend a few extra days in Santa Fe after the show.

Shortly after I started this blog over two years ago now, I did a series of small paintings called Rick's Pool. As I explained back then, the word "pool" is used in northeast Texas to describe a pond, which is mostly used to water livestock but often serves as a fishing hole as well. They are a constant source of inspiration for my work.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Harvest Moon

Early Moonrise II
36 x 30

We had a spectacular early moonrise this evening ahead of Sunday's Harvest Moon. As a confirmed moon watcher, I'm looking forward to a weekend of moon gazing. Moon set should be terrific too. Must. Get. Up..for that!

BTW, I've three spots left in the online class and two spots left in the Workshop/Mini Mentorship. Info and registration is here.

Start your engines, moon watchers!

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Sunset Sentinels
20 x 16

The hummingbirds left yesterday...well, most of them. The chubby little rufus who guards two of the feeders is still here and a few of his buddies. And we've had the most spectacular few days of sunsets-each day a new and different color harmony, as if summer is putting on a final show with a few extra curtain calls.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Morning Haze

10 x 10
We've had constant rains and thunderstorms for about two weeks now. A day of sun yesterday and back to thunder and lightening last night. So far, a very odd fall.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

New Classes & Workshops & Solo Show

I've just scheduled an online class -Painting the Luminous Landscape for January 8-February 5 , 2010. The class is limited to 10 students and usually fills quickly.
Here's the link for all the details about the class and registration (scroll down to Virtual Classes).
I have also scheduled an Advanced Class/Mini Mentorship to be held in April 2010 at my studio. I am very excited about this class! This program is limited to 5 artists (3 spots left) and attendance at a prior class is a prerequisite (or permission from me). You may register to reserve your spot if you have taken or will have taken a prior online class or workshop by April of next year.
Follow the link above for information and registration.

I am also happy to say that I'll be having a solo show in February 2010 at M Gallery of Fine Art in Sarasota, Florida. In connection with that I'll be teaching a five day workshop. The show opens on February 5 and the workshop runs from February 8-12. Contact M Gallery to register.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Evening Glow

Evening Glow
30 x 37.5

No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace
As I have seen in one Autumnal face.

John Donne

Friday, September 11, 2009

Dawn Spills over the Hill

Dawn Spills Over the Hill
10 x 10

Summer is waning. Every morning this week its been a little cooler and the day a bit shorter. The morning sun rises a few degrees farther to the south. I love the change of seasons- when everything in nature-from the mighty Sun to the lowly hummingbird- obeys its destiny.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

And The Winner Is....

Evening Embers
24 x 48

Thanks to everyone who left comments and emailed me with suggestions for a title! I finally decided to use a title suggested by Brenda Boylan, but there were so many really good ones, I'm sure I'll be using many of them in the future. So here is newly named Evening Embers in its frame ready for delivery to Ft. Worth next week.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Suggestions, please

24 x 48
This piece will be shown at the Fall Gallery Night show at Galerie Kornye West in Ft. Worth next month. Usually, I get an idea for a painting and the title is part of that idea. Or, the title comes to me while I am painting it. Maybe its because I have a studio full of pieces that I am trying to finish for upcoming shows, but I can't seem to conjure up a title for this one. Suggestions, please?

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Summer of Santa Fe

In the summer of 2001 Steve and I rented a house in Santa Fe. Although we had been spending a few months a year in northern New Mexico since 1998, this was the first time we spent much time in Santa Fe. The old adobe house was located a block off Canyon Road and had a beautiful walled garden. We settled in and started to make friends, entertain, explore and generally have a lovely time. It was also the summer I painted this little pastel. It turned out to be a breakthrough piece in a number of ways. It won some awards and ended up being published in several magazines and a book. As a result of that, I received some attention from galleries and eventually had feature articles in American Artist and The Pastel Journal, and an"Artist to Watch" in Southwest Art Magazine.

Big Tesuque Aspens
12 x 16 Pastel 2001

(this was so long ago I don't even have a digital image of it!)

So, in addition to enjoying an idyllic couple of months, I made some big progress in my work that summer- both at the easel and in my career. We were blissfully and mercifully ignorant of the events that were about to over take us over the next months and years- 9/11, the deaths of my parents, Steve's heart surgery, and the financial hardships that brought. That summer, all seemed right with the world.

Last year, I was contacted by New Mexico Magazine - they wanted to use an image of Big Tesuque Aspens in their 2010 calendar. This week my complementary copies arrived. We have moved on, as has my work, but it was a nice reminder of the Summer of Santa Fe.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Lost Art of Observation

Against the Sky
10 x 10

I spend a lot of time looking. I believe that first hand observation is one of the most important tools that landscape painters have at their disposal. There are many reasons for this. Obviously, the more familiar we are with our subject matter the more authenticity we bring to its depiction. But, I think there are others reasons, just as important, as well. I am constantly surprised at how many landscape painters have only a passing acquaintance with nature in general and the scenes they paint in particular. Observation is the way we form an intimate relationship with our subject and understand the way things work in the natural world. Its also the way we form visual memories. Memory has become an increasingly important aspect of my working process. It distills and intensifies experiences, filtering out the insignificant details and leaving a lasting reminder of our most intense response.

While I still think that painting outdoors is essential training for landscape painters, I've come to believe it can be a hindrance is some cases too. We can get so wrapped up in the effort to make a painting that we forget to just be, to simply experience our surroundings. Using a camera can have the same effect- how many times have you snapped a picture of something only to discover later you can't remember a single thing about where you were or why you took it?

Walking and looking- it worked for many of the great 19th century landscape painters, as well as writers like Emerson and Thoreau and more recently Andrew Wyeth, Annie Dillard and Mary Oliver. Its so simple, so old school, its positively revolutionary.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Twilight Moon 3
10 x 10

One of the pieces I've done for an upcoming show...more to come.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Summer Skies #7

Summer Skies #7
6 x 8

Who can resist a summer sunset?

It may seem I am just drifting along with the clouds this summer, but nothing could be further from the truth. I have a full schedule of shows coming up this fall and holiday season and into the new year (most of which are listed here over on the sidebar). So, I'm in the studio each day for long hours at the easel. But, I still make time to watch the sky every afternoon.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Vault of the Sky

Summer Skies #6
6 x 8

When I first began to paint landscapes many years ago, one of the most helpful ideas I came across was the description of the sky as a vault, arching up over us as well as out into the distance ahead. As a child, I often lay on my back in the grass watching clouds or stars at night. But, somehow, as adults we lose that sense of wonder at the thin little envelope of air and light that surrounds and protects us. About the same time I read that description, I started laying down on the grass in our garden and looking up again. Very edifying. I highly recommend it.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Friday, July 31, 2009

Summer Skies #4

Summer Skies #4
6 x 8

Continuing on with the Summer Skies project....last evening when the skies began to clear, there was still much evidence of the stormy weather we've had all week.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Triptych-Work in Progress

I'm taking a posting break from my Summer Skies project to post a work in progress. Again this year I've been asked to exhibit a large piece at the Albuquerque Museum Miniatures & More show. I'm painting a large triptych piece- it will be approximately 3' x 5' framed!Here's the sketch.

Here's a series of images of the underpainting. At this stage I like to put the panels in the frame (which is raw and unfinished at this stage too!) because it helps to insure that the image flows seamlessly from panel to panel.

Next, I'll take the panels out of the frame, tweak the underpainting, and start the finish.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Summer Skies #3

Summer Skies #3
7 x 5

It's no surprise that the evening sky is my favorite. There is something poignant, even sensual about the close of the day.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Summer Skies #2

Summer Skies #2
5 x 5
A storm came through a few days ago just at sunset, and thankfully cooled things off a bit. I love how dark the sky can get right before the rain starts.

Friday, July 17, 2009


Summer Skies
4 x 12

"I have done a good deal of skying, for I am determined to conquer all difficulties, and that among the rest."

John Constable, October 1821

As regular readers of this blog know, John Constable, the great 19th century English landscape painter, is a major source of inspiration to me. I've written about him here , and even named a storage area in my studio for large canvases the Constable Closet. Constable was one of the first artists to make plein air sketching part of his regular working process. During the summer months, he would leave his studio in London and roam the Suffolk countryside. He had a particular interest in skies and today his on the spot sketches (annotated on the back with date, time and weather conditions) are among his most compelling works.

So, in homage to Constable and the season, for the next little while, I'll be painting and posting sky studies. These small works are not meant to be finished pieces, just research and development (R&D). Like Constable, I hope they will bring greater power, authenticity and feeling to the work I do in the studio.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


The Boys of Summer
(our neighbors)

This week its been beastly hot- a 30 degree + about face from the cool mountain weather in Telluride. But, it seems right. Puts me in mind of all those hot summer days when summer vacation meant three whole months of swimming, riding bikes from morning until dusk, and catching fireflies in glass jars until the mosquitoes chased you inside.

These guys belong to our rancher neighbor. They are all two and three year old geldings- none in regular work yet. This maybe their last summer before they start their careers as ranch horses. For now, though, they spend their days grazing, playing the occasional game of grab-ass and retreating to the shade when the afternoon sun gets too hot. Seems about right.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Home Again

We're home. July 4th in Telluride was terrific as usual. I wrote a bit about the celebration in the last post. One of the things I didn't mention, is that in addition to the fun funky part of the parade and festivities, this little town goes all out to honor Veterans. Every year, all Vets present on the 4th, whether from Telluride or visitors, are invited to march in the parade. This year my husband Steve (USMC 1967-1970) marched with about 25 others (including several artists from the show). The crowd cheers, small children shout "thank you", the band plays- it was very moving-especially since Steve and his comrades never got a parade or thank you when they came home. I was very proud.

The show ended on a positive note with another sale, and we headed home on Sunday morning. Driving through New Mexico, we were treated to what we used to call "Maynard Dixon skies" all day...

Then, a big storm rolled in and we saw this:

And, finally a moonrise through the storm clouds

Quite a show.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Telluride Plein Air Day 5

Evening Aspens
12 x 12

The day started out wet and cloudy -not auspicious for the first day of the public sale. However, by lunch the sun was out and so were the people. There was a steady stream of traffic pretty much all day- some artists did well, others not so much. I made some sales and felt like it was a very good day for me. Steve and I felt we'd received very positive feedback on both the work and the framing. Yea! Tonight is the Artist Party, then the second and last sale day tomorrow.

The 4th of July in Telluride is really special. Its a quintessential small town America celebration with a funky local parade, big barbeque in the town park followed by fireworks against the backdrop of the mountains. In addition every year there is a fly over right before the parade starts of two F-16s that come screaming down the box canyon, fly right over Main Street and bank up and away over the mountains. I've seen it three times and every time I get goosebumps. Happy 4th everyone!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Telluride Plein Air Day 4

Last Light on the Valley Floor
12 x 8 -12 x 12 -12 x 8

This is the piece I finally selected for the silent auction (again, sorry for the horrible image!). It turned out to be the right choice. The triptych format garnered a lot of attention and bids! The event was well attended- Jill Carver won Artists Choice. Congrats Jill! The public sale starts this morning...gotta run!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Telluride Plein Air Day 3

Twilight Moon
18 x 15

The moon won't actually be full until next Monday but I've taken the liberty of showing it about two thirds full here- a little artistic license! Tomorrow morning we have to deliver our pick for the silent auction tomorrow night- this one is in contention, but I'm still working on a larger triptych that might win out.

Tomorrow is also the quick draw on Main Street and then we vote for Artists Choice, which will be announced at the silent auction. The public sale starts Friday and continues through the 4th. Crunch time!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Telluride Plein Air Day 2

Aspen Trio
Triptych- each panel 8 x 6

OK, so first-I am sorry about the quality of images I'll be posting this week. Trying to do this on the go doesn't always yield great results. Here's my fist effort- a trio of aspen paintings at afternoon, evening and night.

Last night's artist orientation was thankfully a bit shorter than previous years. It was great to see everyone returning and also to meet the new artists who are here for the first time. For a list of the participating artists and more info about the event click here.

Although everyone has told us about how much rain and cool weather Telluride has had this summer, today was sunny and warm. I've got the aspen triptych finished and most everything else in various stages- from underpaintings to first glazes. I'm using a bit more opaque paint than I usually do just so I can get the work done in time. This year we have one less day to paint (only three full days plus two partial days) so there is more pressure than ever.

Time to head out for evening light......