Friday, December 31, 2010

Taking Stock

Edge of the Field
8 x 10
Available at Huff Harrington Fine Art

I was going to write a post today about what I thought I had accomplished this year. It has been a very productive year for me in the studio, teaching and writing, showing and selling my work. But, I found myself much more interested in looking forward today than in the rear view mirror. And while I have laid out a whole list of goals for 2011 for the business and marketing side of my work, I am more focused right now on the actual work. I set some things in motion this year that I mean to build on in the coming year-more drawing, printmaking, bigger paintings and a renewed dedication to explore every field and woods, pond and stream here in my little corner of the world.

Happy New Year everyone!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Drypoint -The Pond

The Pond
Drypoint 4 3/4 x 4
(Copper plate, burnt umber etching ink, Arches paper)
Available at Deborah Paris Fine Art

I've been working on drypoints over the last week. I talked a bit about that process here and here. The copper plates I ordered finally came and I've enjoyed working on them. They are harder than zinc so the burr stands up better to repeated printing and holds the ink better. Plus they look absolutely gorgeous when they are inked. One of the things I am finding fascinating (and unexpected) is how much pleasure I get from both the technical and artistic parts of the process. In fact, I've come to realize that it's hard to make a distinction between the two. My goal is to find a vocabulary in this medium which reflects my aesthetic and makes the most of its special properties.

I'm offering this one in an edition of 10. Because the plate is re-inked and hand wiped each time, there are slight variations in each print (Whistler did it so I guess I can too!). You can click on the image and get a better idea of what the surface looks like. You can click here for purchase information.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Dawn Spills Over the Hill (2009)
10 x 10
Private Collection

As we celebrate this blessed season with family and friends, its also a time to be grateful for the blessings we've received over the past year. I want to thank all those who take the time to read this blog, my students and artist friends for their friendship, inspiration and camaraderie this year. And, as always, I am grateful to my collectors and galleries that represent my work for making it possible for me to make a living doing what I love.

My very best wishes to you all for a Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Memory Incarnate

Christmas Moon (2007)
6 x 6
Private Collection

Here's another small painting from the archives, this one done just a few months after I started this blog.

So, this week I've been reading A History of American Tonalism 1880-1920 by David Cleveland (which I mentioned here) . It's over 600 pages, a feast of scholarship and discussion which I've been devouring course by course. The author's attempt to not only provide new insights into the art and artists, but to create an entirely new lens through which to view Tonalism is impressive. I feel certain that when I am done I will have an even clearer understanding of how my own work fits within this rich tradition of landscape painting.

One of the things I stress to my more advanced students is the importance of working from memory. So, when I read these lines last night, all I could think was "Yes, exactly."

"Tonalist light is memory incarnate, memory filtered, memory infused, while the use of memory, the perfection of memory to render specific qualities of light was considered both a practical skill ... and a necessary discipline of the professional artist."

A History of American Tonalism 1880-1920
David Cleveland

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Morning Fog at the Pond (2008)
11 x 14

Here's another painting from the archives. The image is a bit larger than usual so if you click on it you can get a good idea of the what the surface layers of glazes and scumbles look like. My aim here-other than to exploit the luscious, subtle color harmonies-was to create an envelope of air, atmosphere and mood.

These are very much the color harmonies I am looking at these days- bits of warmth from dried grasses and leaves still hanging on, coupled with winter fogs or heavy leaden skies. So, I plan to revisit these motifs in the coming weeks.

I've finally posted my materials information over on my new site for online classes and workshops. In the next week or so, I'll begin posting some rather extensive reading lists on different topics too.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

It's finally here!

Exciting news for fans of Tonalism! The long awaited History of American Tonalism finally became available this week. This 500+ page tome has been in the works for years (I preordered it from Amazon in April 2009!) and the publication date has been pushed back numerous times. So when it arrived yesterday I was thrilled. Christmas comes early!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A Wayside Sacrament

November Sky
9 x 16

Never lose an opportunity to see anything that is beautiful.
It is God's handwriting - a wayside sacrament.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

A few weeks ago I was driving home from the post office and saw this.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

drypoint-4th state
6 x 4

This is one of my drypoint efforts this past week, mostly just experimental to learn about making marks on the plate and how inking the plate in certain ways could result in different effects. I printed the plate a number of times and reworked it with the needle as well as varying the way I inked and wiped the plate.

I like the tonal qualities you can get by leaving some ink on the plate rather than just in the lines. Also, as I mentioned before, drypoint makes a more painterly line than etching because its composed of the line itself plus the burr that is made from the needle plowing through the plate. The ink actually catches in that burr, so it produces a less linear result when printed. I like that.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

March Snow (2008)
6 x 6
Private Collection

Although this small painting from the archives is entitled March Snow, it seemed appropriate for the weather forecast- snow likely's chilly here in northeast Texas!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sky Study (2009)
6 x 8
Private Collection

There are just a few spots left in the January online class The Painted Sky. Its all about learning to paint and compose beautiful atmospheric skies. Here's the class description:

The Painted Sky

For landscape painters, painting a believable sky means creating a sense of distance, atmosphere, light, and mood. This course is designed to give students the knowledge and techniques to paint beautiful atmospheric skies. In this course we will cover:
~ gradation of colors in the sky at various times of day
~ gradation of values in the sky
~ types of cloud formations and how to depict them
~ use of atmospheric and linear perspective to create believable skies
~ glazes and scumbling techniques
~ using a variety of edges in painting skies
~ composing skies for maximum effect

And here's the link to register.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Winter Field (2008)
6 x 6
Private Collection

Another small piece from the blog archives.

I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape. Something waits beneath it; the whole story doesn't show.

Andrew Wyeth

Like Wyeth, I prefer this season too. But, it seems to me the landscape actually reveals more this time of year. At least that's what I see. The landscape strips itself bare, things feel closer to the surface, raw, achingly beautiful. As artists we can use that.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Adventures in Drypoint

Winter Greys #1 (2007)
6 x 6
Private Collection

Here is another small painting from the archives- a scene I see everyday in winter driving into town. So, I've been working away on a drypoint this past week. Drypoint is a form of intaglio printmaking where the artist works directly on the plate. No acid is used in this process so what is printed are the lines scratched into the surface of the plate and the resulting burr thrown up on either side of the line by the needle. Because of that, drypoint has a darker richer line than etching. It is also more fragile because the burr gradually wears away with each printing. Drypoint can be combined with etching (where marks are made in a ground covering the plate then acid used to "bite" those lines). Rembrandt did this with some stunning results.

The gradual wear on the burr, reworking of the plate, and variations in the way the plate is inked can produce a different version of the image with each printing. It's fascinating and the learning curve is steep! I'll try to get organized and show some process shots on the next one. In the meantime, enjoy Rembrandt!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Winter Greys #2 (2007)
6 x6
Private Collection

Here's another small painting plucked from the archives that suits the season I think. This week, with my painting deadlines met, I've been concentrating on drawing and doing a test drypoint plate to get the feel of my new little press. Just "playing around"!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Winter at the Pond (2007)
6 x 6

Private Collection

We had the first of our lovely winter fogs yesterday morning which reminded me of this little painting from almost two years ago. I wrote about the challenges of painting fog and mist here.

I came across a quote this week which I think beautifully sums up the value of art and beauty in our lives and as an underpinning of civilization. Thanks to Matthew Innis and his excellent blog Underpaintings for finding this.
The following sensible reflections on the permanent value and enjoyment of true works of art are taken from the columns of the New York Nation:

"Is art a luxury, like wine or silks or laces? Does it minister only to the pleasure or ostentation of the rich, without benefiting the community at large? Decidedly we say no. The first great distinction between a work of art and those luxuries with which it is falsely classed is, that it is not consumed by the man who buys it. If I buy a bottle of wine and drink it, it has pleased my palate, given me an hour of pleasant exhilaration, and it is gone. The money or the labor it cost is destroyed absolutely in procuring me that hour of pleasure. If I buy a silk dress for my wife the pleasure lasts a little longer, and, if she is a handsome woman, spreads a little further, but the dress wears out, and there is an end of it. But if I bring into the country a beautiful picture or a noble statue, I have brought something that will last for hundreds of years after I am dead, and will contribute to the higher pleasures of generations yet unborn. So far from destroying the labors of others for my personal and temporary gratification, I have paid for the enjoyment of thousands, and in so far am a public benefactor. We all recognize the public spirit of him who erects a fountain or gives a garden to the people, and doubtless we are not called upon to admire in the same way the generosity of him who puts a picture in his parlor. Doubtless he puts It there for his own pleasure. Yet, as far as the public is concerned, the benefit is but deferred. Be he as selfish as he may, he cannot keep it shut up forever; he will die, and the picture will live. Even in his lifetime many will see it, and a work of art truly belongs to him who enjoys it, not to him who owns it. Sooner or later it will change hands, it will be seen in public exhibitions, it will be sold, and the history of all great works of art is, that at last they become the property of the public, and are placed in museums for the pleasure of all. Luxuries are for the moment, but "a thing of beauty is a joy forever." The first quality in which a work of art differs from a luxury is its permanence; the second is its productiveness. It not only gives pleasure to thousands and for ages, but it gives much more than pleasure—it gives education. The history of art is the history of civilization. Art, in one form or another, is the great beautifier and ennobler of life, and a nation without art—without poetry or painting, architecture or sculpture or music— is a nation of barbarians, though it possess the steam-engine and electricity."¹
¹"Art No Luxury", The Deseret Weekly, Vol. 39, June 29, 1889,

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Holiday Shows

Autumn Moon
8 x 12
Available at Whistle Pik Galleries, Christmas Miniatures

The holidays are approaching and I've been busy sending out new work for Christmas shows. The annual Christmas Miniatures show at Whistle Pik Galleries, Fredericksburg, TX opens on November 22. Huff Harrington Fine Art in Atlanta will kick off their holiday festivities with their Little Jewels show on November 27. Finally, Galerie Kornye West in Ft. Worth will celebrate the season at an opening on December 2. I'll be in Ft. Worth for that one, so if you are in the Metro area come by and say "hi"!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

More Backyard Magic
36 x 30
Available at Galerie Kornye West, Ft. Worth, TX

I'm happy to say I've just published a book called Studio & Business Practices for Successful Artists. It's 76 pages chock full of no nonsense information about building a career as an artist.

Success can mean many different things- so this book is designed to help both professional artists as well as those who don’t want or need to make a living from their art, but do want to be better artists, sell more work and achieve more recognition. I share what has worked for me- and what didn’t, and why- over the last fifteen years of building a career in art.

You can read more about it (and order) here.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Thank you, Hollis.

Evening Sentinels
40 x 36

Back in 2004 I spent a weekend in the studio of my friend and mentor Hollis Williford (1940-2007) learning a new medium-etching. Hollis was mostly known as a Prix de West winning sculptor, but he was also a painter (in oil, watercolor and pastel), and etcher. He generously spent a few days showing me the basics of this fascinating medium, one I had been enthralled with since college. After that weekend, my best laid plans to add this medium to my studio were foiled for a variety of reasons. But, the desire remained. I keep a "studio wish list" pinned to the wall in my studio and an etching press has always been on it. Today, I finally marked it off the list!

I've pulled out all my notes from that weekend long ago and am excited to get started. And I have to say- again- thank you, Hollis.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Dusk Pool

Dusk Pool
30 x 30

When I Am Among the Trees

When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness,
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, "Stay awhile."
The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, "It's simple," they say,
"and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine."

Mary Oliver

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Rest of the Story

Evening Trees
12 x 10
Available at Albuquerque Museum Miniatures & More


So, I wrote about my wayward, mysterious disappearing paintings here. A couple of days after hearing that the paintings had been found, we were told they had been found in Salt Lake City!

Despite continued questions, Fed Ex has never been able to explain what happened. In fact, they originally took the position that the crate had not been delivered without a top. Meaning I guess that the paintings somehow jumped out, the top replaced itself and the paintings migrated to Utah. Really?

The good news is that one of them has already found a home with a collector in Atlanta and the other awaits adoption at Huff Harrington Fine Art.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

New Site

Autumn Evening
8 x 12
Available at Albuquerque Museum Miniatures & More

I've just launched a new site devoted to my online classes and workshops. It includes not only class descriptions and schedules, but examples of the demos and instructional videos I use in the classes, resources, and much more. Click on over and take a look!

Friday, October 8, 2010

What Was Lost Is Found

Several weeks ago I posted images of two small paintings that were headed off to Atlanta to Huff Harrington Fine Art. These paintings had some special significance to me because they depicted the western edge of our property line and also because my husband had created some beautiful little tabernacle frames for them. It was a successful collaboration.

And the gallery had already had some interest in them based on the images I had sent them. So, it was a complete kick in the gut when I received a call from the gallery saying they had received this:

How an empty half of a crate could be delivered by Fed Ex was beyond everyone's comprehension. I was devastated. The idea that they were just gone was hard to accept.

My local Fed Ex ship center, a small office supply business here in Clarksville, is luckily owned by my friend Laurie who was determined to find the lost paintings. I was not optimistic, based on other dealings I have had with Fed Ex. A trace was put on the paintings, but Fed Ex was more interested in trying to get us to accept a $100 check than looking for the paintings. Laurie persevered, getting her sales rep involved. Today, the paintings were found! They were still wrapped in bubble wrap so we have our fingers crossed that they are in good shape. Soon, I hope they will be headed back to Atlanta.

Update: The paintings were found in Salt Lake City! I have not been able to confirm their condition but they are in transit to Atlanta and should arrive there on 10/14.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

John Constable
Fir Tree Study

Just a quick reminder that the online class Drawing and Painting Trees starts in just a little over two weeks. 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. Through drawing and observation, we will learn to paint not only their anatomy, but their line, character, and the emotions they can inspire.

There are just a couple of spots left in the class. You can go here for more information and to register (scroll down).

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

New 2011 Workshop!

OK, here they are in their sweet little tabernacle frames. They really ought to be switched around to be hung, but you get the idea.

I am really pleased to announce I'll be teaching a five day workshop in Taos, New Mexico next fall, September 19-23, 2011. The class will be held in a beautiful private home with two spacious studios that can accommodate up to ten students. You can go here for more information or to register. This is going to be fun!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Backyard Magic II
12 x 10
Available at Huff Harrington Fine Art, Atlanta

This is the second piece of a pair of small paintings which will be framed in elegant little tabernacle frames, and available soon at Huff Harrington Fine Art in Atlanta.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Backyard Magic

Backyard Magic
12 x 10

When we first moved here three years ago, the first thing I noticed was the light in the late afternoon and evening on our west property line. Every day was a changing show of light and color. After having had huge views of gorgeous mesas and mountains from our home in New Mexico, I was astonished that such a simple row of trees, a little hill and a field could produce such wondrous results. I still am. Every day.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Autumn Afternoon
24 x 30
Available at Hildt Galleries, Chicago

It seems I am usually painting one or two seasons behind the calendar, but with this piece I leaped ahead to late October- a time when the fleeting sensual feeling of Fall is palpable.

Sunday, August 29, 2010


30 x 40
Available at Hildt Galleries, Chicago

I made a video of a series of photos I took while painting this piece. Some of the photos were taken in less than perfect conditions and so have some glare and other issues, but I think its a fair representation of the process.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

So, here at last is the cover of my new book. There are images of drawings and paintings, as well as some short essays on painting, inspiration and Nature. After a few false starts, I am very pleased with how it came out.

You can click on the badge below for a preview of the book and to purchase it. However, if you would prefer to have a signed copy, click here.

Moments of Reflection
By Deborah Paris

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Long Goodbye
24 x 30

Available at Whistle Pik Galleries

I don't know why this film noir reference came to mind for a title while I was painting this, but I think it fits. This is one of three new pieces I will have at Whistle Pik in September.

Friday, August 6, 2010

September Evening
24 x 30
Available at Heritage Auction Gallery, Dallas

My work is included in a beautiful new book called Texas Traditions, which contains essays and images of historic Texas artists as well as living contemporary ones. The publication is being kicked off on August 21 with an exhibition and sale at Heritage Auction Gallery in Dallas, and includes a barbecue (this is Texas, after all) book signing and an artist's discussion panel which I have been asked to participate in. If you are in the Metro area, please come by and say hello!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Summer Reading

Despite the horrendous heat (102 today!), my zinnias continue to show their happy faces to the sun. When I am not in the studio with the little window AC cranked up, I'm enjoying rereading Asher B. Durand's Letters on Landscape, first published in 1855.

Here's a sample:

"Go first to Nature to learn to paint landscape...take pencil and paper, not the palette and brushes, and draw with scrupulous fidelity...I know you will regard this at first thought as an unnecessary restriction, and become impatient to use the brush, under the persuasion that you can with it make out your forms, and at the same time produce colour, and light and shade. In this you deceive yourself, as many others have done, till the evil has become irremediable; for slovenly and imperfect drawing finds but a miserable compensation in the evident efforts to disguise or atone for it, by the blandishments of color and effect..."

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Summer-Rick's Pool

Summer-Rick's Pool
Vine charcoal on Strathmore paper
5 1/2" x 8 1/4"

Rick’s Pool

In spring its surface is inscribed
With trails of water bugs
Across the water’s answer to the sky

On August nights the moon dips low into its darkness
While heavy breathing frogs chant
Their shimmering songs

In late October while birds make haste
Brittle pieces of color float,
Then sink, as autumn’s moment dies.

Muffled and bare at last,
And wrapped in December’s shroud
It waits in silence for what comes next

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Summer Evening

Summer Evening
36 x 30

Our big cumulus clouds have created some big storms this summer and also some lovely evening light the last few weeks. I am working on ten good sized pieces for fall shows and to restock galleries with new work. This is the first to be completed.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Summer Woods
7 3/4 x 8 1/4
Vine Charcoal on Canson paper

This week it was hot in Texas with big well developed cumulus clouds forming in the afternoons. When we moved here a few years ago, I really missed those clouds. We seemed to just get high cirrus clouds. But, this summer we've had the big boys! Yesterday I saw some really large ones, all stacked up to the north as I was walking back from the studio to the house in late afternoon. Soon after, a ferocious storm blew in and our power was knocked out for a few hours. This morning I noticed one of the huge old white oaks across the road had come down.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Drawing My Way Back

Whenever I am out of the studio for a while - as I have been for the last few weeks- it takes me a while to get back into the rhythm of long days spent at the easel. When I leave there are usually works in progress and plenty of ideas for new pieces that languish in my absence. Starting on those immediately would feel like jumping into the deep end of the pool, so I stick my toe in and wade out to the deeper waters slowly. Usually, I do this by drawing-nothing serious in the way of finished drawings, but simply reacquainting myself with visual ideas by doing pages and pages of thumbnail sketches. This always builds excitement and within a day or so I am ready to start.

Southwest Corner
Vine Charcoal on Strathmore paper

I have just announced a new online course- Studio & Business Practices for Successful Artists. I am really excited about this class. There are lots of courses on the business side of art, but I think what I have to offer is unique-the straight scoop from a working artist-from the trenches so to speak. There is a direct connection between what happens in the studio and the business side of art, particularly sales, and this course is designed to explore that connection. As a working artist with a business background (my former life) I think I have a valuable perspective and wealth of knowledge and information which can save years of trial and error. This course is for professional artists as well as those who don't want or need to make a living from their art, but want to be better artists, sell more work and gain more recognition. Go here for more information and to register.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Back Home

We got home late Thursday after a quick trip to Denver to visit family. On the way back we stopped at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City which is the site of the prestigious Prix de West annual show and also home to a fabulous collection of art. As I have mentioned before, my friend and mentor Hollis Willford (1940-2007) was a two time Prix de West winner. His monumental Welcome Sundown stands outside the entrance to the museum.

Although seeing the current Prix de West show on exhibit was a treat, the most moving part of the visit for me was to see, once again, Wilson Hurley's gigantic triptychs which are installed in a special room. I have written about Hurley here and why he and his work have influenced me. Here are a few very poor shots taken with a cell phone camera. You can't see much about the art but you can get a sense of the scale. Makes my little triptych efforts look very puny! For more about Wilson Hurley's triptych project for the museum you can go here.

That's me standing across the room and also in front of the New Mexico triptych (below).

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Telluride Plein Air- Day Six

The Hidden Pond
12 x 24 triptych

Last year as we were driving out of Telluride I noticed a small pond set back from the road and screened by a stand of aspens. I managed to get Steve to stop and find a small turn off which took us back behind the pond. That was the photo I posted earlier this week. Here is the piece I completed this year at that spot. Although it hasn't found a home yet (several others did today though!) , there has been a good deal of interest. Tomorrow is the second and last day of the public sale.

Tomorrow is the big 4th of July bash in Telluride. For a tiny town, Telluride does the 4th right. Almost every house in town is festooned with flags as are all the street lamps. About 8,000 visitors will crowd into this small town nestled at the end of a box canyon for a good old fashioned home grown parade. All veterans whether residents or visitors are invited to walk in the parade (Steve will walk in the parade again this year, USMC 1967-69). Right as the parade gets underway, two F-16s come screaming down the valley from the west , flying right over Main Street and then bank up and away over the San Juans. Later, the fire department hosts a huge barbeque and spectacular fireworks at the town park. Its a great place to spend the 4th and to say Happy Birthday America!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Telluride Plein Air-Day Five continued

Despite pouring rain, there was a good turnout for the silent auction tonight. Bidding seemed to be light but happily Evening on the San Miguel did find a new home. I want to thank everyone who has left comments this week- your encouragement means so much to me.

The public sale starts tomorrow and the forecast is improving. I'm dead tired but since I didn't deliver on that Sublime view I'd thought I'd leave you with a few images that fill that bill.

Trout Lake

Lizard Head Pass (elevation 10,000+)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Telluride Plein Air- Day Five

This morning we turn in our "artist choice" piece for tonight's silent auction. Immediately after that, the 90 minute quick draw will be held on Main Street. Tonight from 5-8 a silent auction and cocktail party for collectors will kick off the weekend's events. A public sale follows on Saturday and Sunday.

So here is the piece I chose. As you might notice, its not a "big view" after all. I painted two pieces this size, and pretty much all week thought I would choose the other one. But, today I decided on this one. Let's hope I'm right!

Evening on the San Miguel
16 x 24

P.S. It was pouring rain at 6 AM this morning but now the sun is out. Whew! That's Steve holding the painting up-sorry for the on the fly photography!

Telluride Plein Air- Day Four

Twilight at Leopard Creek
8 x 16
Private Collection

Yikes! How did it get to be Thursday!!? Here are a few more pieces I have finished (maybe?). Leopard Creek is a small creek down valley from Telluride. I've painted it several times and knew I would want to again. Its well away from all that Marilyn Monroe glamor of the landscape in and around Telluride and I like that.

Woods Lake Aspen
12 x 12
Private Collection

The elusive "big view" may have eluded me- as of this morning I am not happy with it and have been looking with more favor on a more intimate evening scene on the San Miguel river. Sometimes, a girl just has to follow her heart.