Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Graphite Portraits (Almost Always) In Progress

I always seem to see drawing or painting parts that need revision when I am readying photos to upload to my blog or website. Below you will find photos of the three drawings (portrait commissions) I am currently working on. First you will see a new photo of Reilly, with very very minor, but necessary, changes to his right eye and his mouth. I will post the first photo next to it so that you can detect the changes I made. Next will be Monica, almost finished. When I looked at the photos in photoshop, I realized that Monica's upper lip on her right side has too hard a top edge; it definitely needs softening ans transitioning into the fleshy area above it. I also want to deepen the value of the inset on her shirt - it is too light and too close in value to the skin tone right above it. I will post this again once I have made those and any other revisions I determine are necessary.
The last drawing is of Clara, and as you can see it is still underway. Perhaps you can tell that the values are heightened or deepened in stages. Right now, her eyes look very dark and hard edged. I will be softening them but also adjusting other values which will make the eyes appear not quite so dark in comparison. This drawing is not complete in any area. It is a work in progress and I work back and forth into and out of areas of the face, adjusting one value in relationship to another.
These drawings are done in graphite on a Strathmore plate finish paper - one I have never used but wanted to try. The plate finish is much harder than the medium textured drawing paper I usually use, so I have to work harder at keeping pencil lines in tonal areas from "looking like lines."
Click on a photo to enlarge it. Please feel free to post comments or questions!

Reilly, Revised at left

As originally posted on 11/15/07 below

Monica, In Progress

Clara, In Progress

Monday, November 19, 2007

"First Painting After Surgery"

Golden Field, copyright Pat Aube Gray

I put the title of this post in quotation marks because that is the name employees gave this painting when I put it in for framing!
And then they called the next one I completed, not surprisingly, "Second Painting After Surgery."

"Golden Field," the correct name of this first watercolor, was completed as a demonstration of a foreground treatment in a watercolor workshop in late October. I sprayed water and used salt for texture in this piece. It was painted out of my head (aren't they all?) but certainly based on the recent local landscape I get to see every day in these beautiful North Georgia mountains. It is approximately 14" wide x 21" high and is painted on Arches 140# cold pressed paper. The painting is SOLD.

"Scenic Highway in Autumn" was also begun in the above mentioned workshop as an exercise in contrasting very strong darks and intense lights to achieve drama and
I completed it after the workshop was over. A spray bottle helped me keep the painting wet as I worked it and I employed spattering toward the finish. I used a photograph I had taken several years ago as a reference for this 21" x 14" watercolor also
on Arches 140# cold pressed paper. This painting has been beautifully framed and is available for sale at Carriage House Framing & Gallery in Blairsville.

Scenic Highway in Autumn copyright Pat Aube Gray

My shoulder is no longer hurting when I draw or paint on a table or in my lap. I have done two small oils, one also a demo in a class, and find that I still have difficulty holding my arm up while painting at the easel. But I am in physical therapy now and hope that it won't be long before I can paint with less pain and more agility.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Back to the Drawing Board

Reilly, graphite on paper, 11 x 14

While recovering from shoulder surgery that I had in August, I found I could draw in my lap. I completed this drawing of Reilly over a 3-4 week period, doing as much as I could at one sitting. I have since completed a couple of watercolors and in the past ten days have done a couple of small, loosely rendered oils. Hopefully I will be back to blogging soon. I am in physical therapy right now and assume that will speed up the use of my painting arm.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


Kerry Aube Lingle
February 7, 1965 - July 11, 2007

It is with incredible sadness and great anguish that I resume posting to my blog with the news that, Kerry Aube Lingle, my cherished daughter, passed away on July 11th. You may recall from my last post on July 2nd that she had broken her ankle. On July 5th she developed a blood clot which went to her lungs (pulmonary embolism) and stopped her heart for 27 minutes. She was on life support for six days.

Kerry is a very talented and creative graphic designer and was thrilled when I started this blog. From this day forward, I dedicate this blog to her, as she was very often the wind beneath my wings. I may not post too often for a while, but I am trying to resume some aspects of my former life, though it is with tremendous difficulty.

My sincere thanks to those of you who have offered expessions of sympathy.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Finally, a New Post!

I can't believe that my last post was on June 12th and it is now July 2nd! MUCH has happened since then and I have been very busy. I have had several diagnostic tests and have found that I have a very significant tear in my right rotator cuff and must have surgery. And yes, that is my painting arm. My son has been staying with us for the past several weeks and is probably staying on a semi-permanent basis. His three teen-age kids were also with us for a week during this time. My sister arrived while all of them were still here and Tom was out of town for 2 weeks! I have a new employee at the frame shop/gallery and my talented student, Alexandria, is with me three days a week. I have just completed my portrait of Jonathan (photo below) and am now working on the next. And then last week, my wonderful daughter, Kerry, who wears an artificial right leg, fell and broke her left ankle! Need I say more?

Now back to Art Matters! Below is the completed painting of Jonathan, the early stages of which I have posted before. His mother and sister love it and the father will be surprised! Click on images to view a larger version.

Copyright Pat Aube Gray, Oil on Linen, 32 x 48

Next I want to do a little bragging about Alexandria, who will be a senior in high school come September. When she first came to me last year, her drawings were very typical of almost any sixteen year old. Her interest was in drawing faces, but those she had previously produced were flat and cartoonish, lacking form and antomical accuracy. After only one three hour lecture, with little thumbnail demos in explanation of form and values, dimension and structure, etc., Alexandria's true ability was immediately apparent. She was instantly able to grasp the concepts and apply them to her work. In a rush to paint, her first painting was actually a portrait and she did a very good job. Then on to a still life from a setup, which is now framed and hanging in her parents' home - it was that good! We are now back to the basics, using the atelier concept of drawing first, painting later, as drawing is the foundation for all two-dimensional art. In addition to drawing from life, I have Alexandria copying from Charles Bargue plates, the same as those used in French Academies during the mid nineteenth century.
When you see the photo below, I think you will agree that she is making great progress!

Graphite on Toned Paper, highlighted with white charcoal, 18 x 24

I have a couple of small paintings completed and will most likely post them tomorrow. Until then, have a great evening and remember that Art Matters!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Reclining Nude, Backlit

copyright Pat Aube Gray

It has only been in the last couple of years that I have done any life drawing from a nude model to speak of. While I love to do figurative works, my concentration has always been on the clothed figure, finding challenge and interest in the selected clothing and folds, and textures of the materials. But I do enjoy the challenge of the human form, with all its subtle tonal and temperature variations. This one is graphite on a grey paper, with the backlighting heightened with white charcoal.

Click HERE to bid on this painting

Saturday, June 09, 2007


copyright 2007 Pat Aube Gray

This is one of the students in my Thursday morning class painting a fantasy image on a pretty large canvas! The dinosaur is hidden by the artist, Sharon Mullings. It was a small class of painters who don't need minute to minute instruction, so I decided to paint along with them, parking myself behind Sharon and painting her without her knowledge at first! When her husband came to pick her up at the end of the class, he said, "Everybody will know who that is! Those are your legs!"

5 x 7 on Ultra Panel


Thursday, June 07, 2007

Silk Amaryllis - Oil on Sanded Wallis Paper

Copyright Pat Aube Gray

Jessica was painted at a weekly life painting session held at my teaching studio, where several artists come to draw or paint from models. I don't teach at these sessions; I get to paint like everyone else! I loved this set-up with the large silk amaryllis, which adds interest to the composition and inspired the red and green complementary color scheme. I really enjoyed painting this one, which I did on 11 x 14 sanded paper made by Kitty Wallis. Though the paper was developed for pastel work, it is wonderful for oils as well. The paint is absorbed into the paper and dries quickly, but does not sink in as one might expect. The finished painting has a wonderful surface, almost like moleskin. You have to use old brushes, though, because this paper chews them down to nothing in no time!

Click HERE to bid on this painting SOLD

More Portrait Parts

I'm making some good progress, though not as quickly as I'd like. Life seems to get in the way of painting time way too often!
In case you don't know, if you click on the photos you can see an enlarged image!
The hand is still only roughed in and while the head is more than roughed in, it is certainly not complete. I glazed over the too-red hair underpainting with its complement, green, to dull down the red some because I find it way too distracting and throws off my choices for other areas. But it is still far from done as well.
I opted for a green shirt instead of the blue he actually was wearing for three reasons: it is more compatible with what his sister is wearing, it is more harmonious with the painting, and knowing where it will hang makes this the better color. Shirts are still not complete, but made a giant leap here.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Working on the Boy

I've worked now on the face as I don't want to put a ton more effort into the clothing and the background until I am comfortable that I have a good likeness going. This is only the first round of working on the head. That will continue throughout the painting process until it all fits together well and the boy looks like he could turn and talk to you. His hair is merely blocked in with mixtures of burnt sienna, burnt umber and some yellow ochre. But his hair, though it has some red in it, is not nearly as red as it is in this underpainting. I will work next on his hand and get the clothing going and also start to put some of the detail in the background, a few more trees between him and the distant hedgerow. In case you can't tell, that's a skateboard he's holding onto. Most important thing in his life right now!

With the exception of modifying the background as I work on the boy's painting (to keep them well harmonized), I won't begin the girl's head and body, etc. until I feel the boy is 99% complete.
See the last post for the last pics I posted of the two paintings.

Your comments are welcome - click on the word comments below.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Portraits in Progress

Each canvas is 48"x32"

I haven't posted in a couple of days because I have been working diligently on my portrait commissions. As you can see, they are basically roughed in, with the background suggested but by no means finished. This isn't a stage normally shown to anyone, as it might scare people off, especially the client! I like working this way when working from a photo as it is similar to the method I use when working from life. I have done studies of these kids from life and photos prior to beginning these paintings.

Because these portraits are going to hang side by side, I am painting the backgrounds so that they look like one is a continuation of the other. They can, of course, always be hung in separate areas of the home.

I would love to squeeze in a couple of small ones, but can't do it right now. Be sure to comment or ask questions below. Thanks!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Game Over - Original Oil by Pat Aube Gray

What could be better after a great game of golf than a tall glass of cold beer?

8 x 10 Oil on Canvas
copyright 2007 Pat Aube Gray

SOLD See my other paintings at auction at

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Boiled Egg & Salt - Oil on Canvas

What fun I had painting this wonderful ceramic set I found at an antiques/old stuff shop! With my love for painting eggs, the dainty little set found a perfect home in my studio! Painted on a 6" x 6" gallery wrapped canvas (sides are painted), you have the choice of hanging it as is or you can frame it for maximum enhancement.

I almost want to keep this one!

Click HERE to bid on this painting

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Here's My Bargue Arm!

Note: If you haven't read my previous post, you might want to do that before reading this one so it will make more sense to you.
Once I scanned this drawing into Photoshop and brought it up right next to the Bargue Plate image, I could see several errors immediately! It is easier to judge when looking at two images, identically sized, right next to one another than it is with two different size images, one from a book and one in your drawing pad! Have a look for yourself, compare it to the one below, and feel free to "critique" me in the comment section at the end of this post. Just click on the little envelope and tell me what you see!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

I didn't do any painting today; instead I spent most of the day drawing the head to toe "cartoons" I will transfer to two canvasses for the portraits of siblings, a boy of 12 and a girl of 17. "Cartoon" is the word used to indicate a line drawing, one with little or no shading to indicate form. I draw on tracing paper, where it is very easy to erase and correct, and when I feel I have the drawing the way I want it, I transfer it to the canvas by applying graphite to the back of the paper in the areas where my lines are. Then I lay the paper right side up on my canvas and redraw over the original lines, pressing fairly hard, so that the graphite on the back of the tracing paper will transfer to the canvas. This gives me a very light line drawing on my canvas. I then go over that in thinned paint, usually burnt umber. When I work from life, I eliminate this step and draw with a brush, again with thinned paint, but I lay in masses in the appropriate values, light middle and dark. Tomorrow I hope to begin painting using my "cartoon" as my guide, but I will immediately lay in my dark values with thinned paint (monochrome)just as I would if I had drawn in paint.

Last night and earlier tonight I worked on a drawing from a book of plates (lithographs)by Charles Bargue. Bargue's original drawings and their reproductions, from life and/or plaster casts, were used in academies and ateliers in Europe as a mainstay in the drawing education of thousands of art students when actual plaster casts might not have been available. (A plaster cast is merely a sculpture made of plaster, sometimes of individual body parts, sometimes of heads, busts, etc.) I was recently fortunate enough to find a book of these reproduced plates and have been using them for drawing practice for myself as well as for students.

The particular plate I am attempting to replicate is that of a man's arm, shown above, with the muscular form very much in evidence. (Note that the top image, the line drawing, is a "cartoon", as described above.) I belong to an online group of artists in which one artist challenged another to a "Bargue-off" ( a competition between the two to see who draws the best Bargue reproduction), with a third well known artist and art educator to do the judging. The plate chosen was the one of the arm I am now drawing. Though I am not in the competition, I decided to see how well I do in comparison to the contestants, as their finished drawings will be posted on the group site.

The drawings are to be done in graphite (my favorite) with no mechanical aids whatsoever, no grids, no tracing, etc. One may use a pencil or knitting needle or ruler as a plumb line or to gauge distances, but that's about it. The only other tool will be an eraser. The drawings in the competition must be completed within 10 hours.

I opted to draw my Bargue arm with a single pencil (not with a range of say H and B pencils) and an eraser, using nothing more to guide me than my eyes. I chose to do this because I always strive to see better and gauge lengths and spaces by sight as well as I can. That helps tremendously when working from life. I have worked on this drawing for approximately 4 hours thus far and should have no trouble completing it within the prescribed time frame. Tomorrow I will photograph my completed drawing for comparison to the Bargue plate! NOW I am really challenging myself!

Back to the drawing board! Good night!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Kissin' Cousins Original Oil on 6 x 6 Canvas

Copyright 2007 Pat Aube Gray

A still life with fruit seems so mundane, but it is not as easy as it looks! And making an interesting composition can be challenging. I broke a "rule" by having two objects "kissing" instead of one being in front of the other. But I decided I liked it this way and went for it! I like this painting not only for its composition but also for the complementary color scheme of yellow and all those violets!

Click HERE to bid on this painting

Monday, May 14, 2007

Almost Deserted - Original Watercolor by Pat Aube Gray

This was something new for me - a watercolor on the recently issued watercolor canvas board! It was certainly different than painting watercolor on paper, which I usually do, but it offered its own benefits and shortcomings. It is more difficult to glaze on the board as the underlying passage easily lifts when glazing over it; alternatively, it is easy to lift color and therefore change or correct a passage you already painted with no unsightly residue of what was there before. It is difficult to get rich darks; I managed to get dark accents, but not in the richness I generally like to see them.
This 9 x 12 sunlit watercolor is varnished and can be framed without glass!

Click HERE to bid on this painting

Sunday, May 13, 2007

New Painting Today - Enamel Pot & Eggs

Today's painting is on a 6 x 6 gallery wrapped canvas. I just loved this old little enamel pot when I saw it in an antiques shop! I often look for interesting objects in thrift stores as well. And eggs are one of my favorite subjects to paint!
The cerulean blue color of the pot was perfect to set against an orange-colored tablecloth. Hope you like it!


Thursday, May 10, 2007

Back from Portrait Society of America Conference

Wow! What a great conference in Reston, VA! I drove up on Thursday of last week and returned on Monday full of inspiration and motivation to do the best work I can! There was an oil portrait demonstration by the preeminent Everett Raymond Kinstler, 80 years old and as witty, talented and skillful as ever! (His portraits in the National Portrait Gallery of Tom Wolfe, Gerald Ford, and others are some of the best offered there!) Scott Burdick, the young and talented artist who, together with his wife, Sue Lyon, travel extensively, particularly to places like Tibet and Nepal and come back with fabulous paintings we see in all the art magazines, did an alla prima painting that was wonderful. Something very different for the Society was a watercolor portrait demo by the renowned Charles Reid, which was really interesting to watch. Robert Liberace, the young and oh, so talented young man whose drawings are reminiscent of DaVinci and Reubens, gave a marvelous slide show presentation.
Between seminars and presentations there were portfolio critiques, book signings, vendor exhibitions with great deals on supplies. After hours found many members, yours truly among them til the wee hours, talking and talking and talking about art! Everyone is so willing to talk about techniques and ideas and suggestions to improve your work. It is invigorating and exciting all at once. And certainly rubbing elbows and being on a first name basis with many of the world's great contemporary masters pumps you up so that you can't wait to paint and then come back again next year!
Each year the Society has a portrait painting competition that yields incredibly beautiful work. Of 1600 entries, only ELEVEN (11) finalists are chosen. This year's finalists' works were superb! They aren't posted yet, but they will be soon at if you would like to see them.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The Odd Couple - Now Available at Auction

I completed this 12" x 12" painting in Mid-March and wrote about it in a March, 2007 post to this blog called "Freedom of Expression." Scroll down to the archives and click on March to read about the joy I experienced while painting it! I believe it is dry enough to varnish and can now put it out for bid.
I find still life painting to be very rewarding. It is almost like painting a portrait because there is such a concentration on depicting form and the magical effects of light. I also believe still life is really a reflection of the artist more so than in portraits, figuratives or landscapes. The artist personally selects the elements of the painting and arranges them in a composition that pleases her. The objects selected and the mood, lighting, and positioning all reflect the artist's tastes and aesthetics. Self expression in realism!
I hope you enjoy this painting! Feel free to comment!


Tuesday, May 01, 2007

New Painting For Sale - "Ripe Red Tomato"

Photo: Ripe Red Tomato, Oil on Canvas, 6" x 6"

This is, I hope, the first small painting of many to be sold online as a daily (or almost daily!) painting in an auction environment! SO many artists are producing paintings on a daily basis and selling on ebay and also through their blogs, which is what I certainly hope to be able to do. Tonight I listed this happy little painting on Ebay. SOLD

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Today's Happenings

Today I took new photos of two portraits, Corporal William G. Taylor, seen below in my post of March 30th titled "Art From the Heart", and Katie. Both of these photos have been updated here tonight.
I spent a good part of today cleaning up my home studio, having just finished two new commissions, these not exactly fine art, more of a commercial nature. But the one with all those little portraits was quite time consuming! Worked in acrylic on this project. It was fun! The other resulted from a client seeing the sign I painted of our Carriage House logo, a realistic horse and carriage, complete with riders. You can see the nature of the client's business in this oil painting on wood. (Images above.)
I am ready now to do some really small oil paintings with the idea of selling them at auction, perhaps on Ebay. These will be good buys for anyone interested in bidding! I plan to begin tomorrow. See you then!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Getting a Likeness Versus Capturing Emotion

Photo: Alexandria, graphite on paper, 8 x 10
After years of drawing and painting faces, since I was a child, in fact, I find it relatively easy to achieve a likeness of the person I'm "doing." Not as simple, however, is capturing the emotion I believe I see in that person. In the first place, my interpretation of what I see may be erroneous. A subject may appear to me to be serene and at peace when, in fact, melancholy may be the source of a still and quiet stare. Secondly, subjects holding a pose for an extended period tend to lose themselves in an emotionless limbo, one in which the brain seems to power down to a mindless state.
A physical likeness is essential in executing commissioned portraits, but when one is able to reflect some of the subject's inner vision, strength, or soulfulness, there is a vitality and reality to it that does not otherwise exist. There are several facets inherent in achieving this, including the pose, the lighting, the medium used, the tilt of the head, the direction of the eyes (up, down, askance, looking straight at the artist), how open or closed the eyes are, the posture of the model, the body language, the set of the mouth and the open or closed lips, how relaxed the model appears, etc. Sometimes the outcome looks mechanical; other times I feel I've captured what I was after.
The head study above, which I just completed about a week or so ago, is one in which I was satisfied that I had gotten not only a good likeness, but also a sense of the serious intelligence of this young girl as well as her sensitive romanticism. I hope to express in paint what I feel I found in graphite. I would love for this to be my version of the Girl with the Pearl Earring, after Vermeer!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Administrative Arts

Photo: My students in a recent workshop in palette knife painting at my studio

If you are reading this and/or enjoying my blog, then I assume you might be interested in receiving updates as I post them. Even if you have been notified before or asked to join the Patzart Group, please now just use the simple subscription form to the right and you will be notified via email when an update has been posted. And I thank you!
It would seem, at first glance, such a simple thing. Create a blog, email your friends, your students, your family, your patrons, your collectors et al and share with them your latest paintings, your thoughts on art, your painting or drawing tips, etc. Another one of those half-day jobs that turns into days of trial and error and, in the trials, causing those on your email list to never want to hear from you again! First, email lists that contain a large number of email addresses, as mine do, don't get past my outbox (on several different mail services, e.g., aol and gmail) because the mail police are afraid they might be spam. So I spent hours of entering email addresses into address book "groups", which "they" told me to do, only to then have the whole group rejected as a security risk.
Google then said to create a google group (not within the mail service) and I would then be able to email everyone in the group with one email. They have a system wherein you can either add email addresses or you can invite people to join the group. I tried to add my list and the numbers were too high. So I had to let them invite the people on my list, which then causes these people to have to join, and fill out paperwork, etc. I am so sorry!
So now I have been researching ways to make this simpler, to communicate with those who have shown an interest in my work, in my writing, in my teaching, in my thoughts, to market to those who may be future collectors, to share with other artists. And I found Feedblitz, a subscription management tool that will make all this manageable. I welcome your subscription in the upper right corner and you won't have to join any groups or go to any further trouble. And if you wish to unsubscribe at any time, they make it simple for you to do that, too.
Being an artist is not only about making art, but also about public relations, marketing, advertising, selling, branding, getting your name out in the public eye, giving back to the community through donations, teaching, maintaining your professional relationships, etc. All of the latter takes time away from the former, but one without the other is fruitless. So there is art and there is business, and better the twain shall meet.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Art From the Heart

Following the events of September 11, 2001, friend and fellow artist, Lisa Gleim, participated in a project in which artists painted portraits of firefighters killed on that horrific day and donated them to their families. Later, she proposed the idea of painting soldiers from Georgia who had died in service of their country in either Iraq or Afghanistan to four friends, Geraldine Zaki, Leah Henry, Fran Milner and me. Together we formed the Atlanta Fine Arts League (AFAL) in 2005 to spearhead this noble project, which we call Art From the Heart. While the AFAL has taken on a life of its own in the past year which I will discuss in another post, Art From the Heart remains our primary current objective. Approximately seventy Georgia soldiers have died thus far while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. Portrait artists have been ready and willing to step up to the plate to do their part and many portraits are either complete or in the works. The paintings are being donated to the families of our fallen heroes. We will paint two in cases where there is, say, a surviving spouse and parent(s). We are having a little more difficulty finding ways to contact all of the families. If anyone reading this knows such a family, please ask them to email and tell us of their interest.
We ask the family to provide us with photos, details about their loved one, and to describe the soldier's personality to us. Since we are unable to meet the person, knowing something about him or her is helpful. Paintings are being given to the families as they are completed and, if they so choose, they will be included in a special exhibition of all these portraits to be held at the Patriots' Museum in Atlanta in the fall of 2007.
There is a great deal of emotion for the artist in painting these commemorative portraits. Talking to the family and becoming involved in their pain as well as their pride gives us just a small sampling of what they have endured and the loss they have suffered. There is also, however, a tremendous feeling of satisfaction in being able to give something that you hope will be treasured for decades to come by those who have endured such pain.
So now it is time for you to meet "my soldier," United States Marine Corporal William (Billy) G. Taylor, killed in action November 30, 2005 at the age of 26 in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. Fellow marines with whom Billy served have left messages for his family on the Fallen Heroes website, and they remember the great love Billy had for his little daughter, Leah. Billy's mother, Catherine Krattli, has told me of his Indian heritage; she is Aztec and Yaqi and his father was Cherokee. Billy joined the Marines after 9/11 feeling it his duty to protect his daughter and his country. He served for two and a half years in Washington, DC, standing guard at the funeral of Ronald Reagan when Former President George H. W. Bush and his wife Barbara paid their respects. He was a member of the Marine firing squad for funerals and, as he participated in the 21 gun salute at one, he became the focus of the eye of a National Geographics camera for a special on how each branch of the military bury their dead. Billy was known for his contagious smile. His mother misses him every day.

It is now Sunday, April 1, 2007, and I am adding to this story. Yesterday I met Cathy Krattli and Leah in person for the first time. Though the painting was still wet and I couldn't give it to her, I did bring the completed portrait (finished the night before) for her and Leah to see. It was a very emotional event for me and what an amazing story I have to tell.
Cathy and Leah were in Blairsville to perform with their native American group, The Drum, at a newly opened store here selling native crafts. When I arrived, they were already performing, the men sitting and the women standing in a circle around a large drum playing and singing Indian songs. There was a chief in full native regalia who spoke, sang and danced around the group. Between songs, I met Cathy for the first time and we hugged and I spoke to beautiful five year old Leah, Billy's daughter. I told them that I had the painting with me if they would like to see it. Of course they did and I retrieved it. At the next break in their performance, Cathy and another woman in The Drum, herself a veteran, Leah and her stepfather, Mike, came over to see the painting. Cathy's response was astonishment, saying that it was Billy, that it looked just like him, and tears came to her eyes. I asked Leah if she knew who was in the painting and she answered, "Daddy." That's when I started to cry. Cathy, a Gold Star Mother, said she wanted to show the painting to the other members in the group, most of whom were veterans, and asked if I could wait for the next break in the performance. I waited, of course, and the next thing I knew the chief handed Cathy the microphone, the painting was shown to the band members and the audience, the project was explained and I was told they wanted to give me a special blessing. Cathy explained that this is done by only the women in the group and is usually reserved for other women. (Little did I know what was coming.) I had to stand in the middle of a circle formed by the ladies and the painting was placed right side up atop the drum, facing the sky. The women then beat on hand held leather drums with sticks with padded leather ends on them and sang, in beautiful melodic voices, a lovely song in a language I didn't understand. I was facing Cathy and could not help but say as she was singing that Billy had her eyes, which I knew well from painting them. She choked up a little during the song. It was a very emotional event.
Billy's step-dad, Mike, commented on Billy's mustache in the painting. "He was always working on that," he said. It is amazing how a little thing can bring back a flood of memories.
I am very thankful that now I,too, have a wonderful memory to cherish.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Freedom of Expression

I had just completed my latest of five portrait commissions last week, feeling relief from the stress of months of painting with the hope of my clients' happiness. It is amazing how the final analysis that there is no more you can do to make the painting better, that it is now time to sign the painting and call it complete, and that all your current deadlines have been met lift a major weight from your shoulders. One would expect that a day or two away from the studio would be welcome, but instead, a couple of lemons on my kitchen counter, brought home by my husband for lemonade, provided the inspiration for a small still life painting. I have been itching to paint some still life paintings for quite some time and I immediately grabbed the two lemons, an orange from the refrigerator, and two over-sized marbles I purchased for just such a purpose. I knew the blue marbles would be a perfect complementary color foil for the orange. I returned to my studio, set up the tablecloth, the subjects and the lighting and painted for hours. I had to make myself stop painting to make dinner, although I'd have kept on painting if not for a hungry husband. (I'm the cook, he's the dishwasher - that's the deal!) Next day I was back at it, just as eager as I had been the day before!
One can love the process of painting regardless of subject, and one can prefer certain subjects to others. But the process of painting to please no one but yourself, to produce an effect you envisioned with no other opinion or outside influence, with no approval necessary save your own, allows for a freedom of expression without equal. It felt great after so many recent commissions, especially knowing there are currently four plus one pending ahead of me.
I have titled this still life painting The Odd Couple, referring to the marbles. I hope you like it as much as I do! And if you don't that is perfectly okay, too!

Friday, February 09, 2007

Learning by Teaching

It is still early in 2007 and already I have taught a six-day workshop in oil portraits in North Carolina, five three-hour sessions of my weekly classes in my teaching studio, and I have attended one four-day workshop! I have six more painting or drawing workshops and those weekly classes scheduled to teach for the remainder of the year.
A schedule like this is very time consuming, not to mention that it seriously cuts into what might otherwise be painting time. So I often question why I keep doing it!
The first answer is, of course, the most obvious. It helps pay the bills. There are times when painting sales and commissions may be slow in coming, and teaching helps fill those gaps. While I keep my class and workshop prices as low as possible, the income is still a necessary addition to the income stream. The other reasons I continue to teach are far less tangible. I have given much thought to this and have found that I have really learned by teaching. I have learned about my own philosophical and analytical thinking every time I have to explain a particular aspect of painting to a student. I must think, question and explore while I am painting and read constantly to stay abreast of other artists, their art, their methods and their styles. I have to understand color and composition well enough that I can explain them to students in ways that will be meaningful to their progress as painters.
I love learning so this is wonderful for me. And I truly love imparting what I know to others hungry to know it! There is nothing as gratifying as seeing a student in an A-Ha! moment only to go on to improve their work with his or her newfound knowledge.
The last, but certainly not least, aspect of teaching is the forging of wonderful friendships with those whose interests are well aligned with mine. There are a good number of students who have taken my classes or workshops for years and my life would not be the same without them. I thank them all.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

On Painting Snow

Note: I started this post on February 1, 2007 and am just finishing it on April 15th!

my weekly painting class cancelled this morning due to snow and ice that fell overnight, blanketing these mountain roads and fields with both beauty and treachery, I thought I would take advantage of the time and write about painting snow. I am looking out the window behind my computer desk as I type. If it weren't for the icy cold rain and sleet that is still falling, not to mention the warm and comforting fire in the fireplace, I would be out painting or, at the very least, photographing the snow-covered hills, trees and pastures. I LOVE painting snowy winter scenes complete with the leafless skeletons of the deciduous trees, the snow laden evergreens, snow drifts and white topped fences, houses and barns!
In all of my drawing and painting classes and workshops, I stress the importance of value. In the language of visual art the term refers to how light or dark any color is as well as to the all the greys (neutrals) in the range from black to white. Painting snow, in light and in shadow, provides ample opportunity to maximize the effects of value for greatest impact.
Using color with white to add interest to the snow, cooler tones in the shadows, warmer tones in the light; pinks, greens, blues, yellows mixed with white add interest and intensify the effects of light on the snow.

Monday, January 29, 2007

2007 Class & Workshop Scedule

My schedule of art classes and workshops has been released for 2007 and can be found at

In Praise of Those Who Do

It is embarassing to say that I have not come remotely close to fulfilling the promise I made to myself three months ago to post daily to my blog site. Yeah, sure, I have been incredibly busy, trying to do the work that keeps the light bill paid, but I am sure I could have eeked some time out for this, too. I can only promise to try to do better.
Fortunately, I can say that I have completed a number of paintings, including the 15 foot by 6 1/2 foot pastoral landscape mural on an interior wall and several commissioned portraits, have taught a couple of workshops and attended one, and even managed to spend some time with my sister over the holidays.
My inspiration to post today comes from visiting the website and blog of another Georgia artist who is putting out a painting almost each day and who is really taking her career in a wonderful direction. I admire not only her work, but also her strong work ethic and energetic marketing, not to mention her productivity. I must owe my shortcomings to a lack of diligence and/or procrastination, though I would protest that I work too hard to be guilty of that. I may, however, be insufficiently focused! I will work on that!