Tuesday, July 28, 2009

THANK YOU! Now teacher needs a rest...

I just wanted to say a big 'thank you' to all the students - and  now my art friends - who turned up at Graphaids in CA last week for a mini cheese and wine moment late afternoon battling hellish LA freeways.

It has been my privilege to get to know and teach you over the last three years at various art spots, from my own early teaching venue at Graphaids, to The California Art Institute and then The Los Angeles Figurative Academy of Art, alongside my own private workshops.

It was wonderful to catch up with old friends and new news. As any of you know who have studied with me for a bit, I like to know the story behind the art lover/student who shows up in my class on any given day.  It is important to me...and I feel an 'art spirit' privilege to teach.

I am also proud that many of my students are now winning and entering competitions, getting portrait commissions,  in their own right. 

It is now final....I will be taking an extended teaching break after this current semester at LAAFA ends in September to go to France until year's end on an international painting grant award for quite a few weeks. The thought of not having to prepare a still life each week, or a portrait pose, after three years of doing  so, week in, week out,  around my personal commission painting/travel workload, is dare I say quite delicious. Forgive me...shhh...

Ahh.. to wake up in France for a few weeks, thinking of only myself, painting, and what croissant I should eat???  You get the picture...

But really, heartfelt thanks to all who showed up.  It was special as has been the teaching journey. That journey has made me a better person and artist. And I am still working on that!

Special thanks are also due to the lovely Nicole Festa at Graphaids who did ALL the hard work for the show and the wine and cheese moment.

THANK YOU! It was special for me.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Paint it all?

Just got home late last night from a fabulous trip landscape painting with friends in New York. Mostly quick sketches, about an hour or so each, up to four a day, which I will post later. Some I quite liked..some just plain 'off'. But I had a ball. 

On return to my studio this morning, the benefit of a weekend away, has made me re-look at the portrait demo I did last week at LAAFA just before I left. 18x 24. 

In the hurry to pack and get on an early morning plane after a late teaching class,  I thought I had got something I liked. But my husband said it wasn't that good. Not one of my best. He never comments on anything so when he does, I usually listen.

However, I really like this one today seeing it with new eyes. I like the color harmony, red and green, I like the skin tones, and I like how thick I got the brushwork in parts, and soft in others. I like the fact that I caught her essence. A very interesting face, not cookie-cutter predictable.

Which brings me back to the weekend. Landscape painting is not my first love. All that green. I always joke that I don't really do green.  I return with sunburn, mosquito bites, ratty hair but with a profound respect for those that do it well and an excitement that I want to do it MORE and MORE. Make it a regular part of what I do.

There is SOMETHING quite marvelous and profound about painting in the great outdoors. Just you with nature. And the odd whacko bird-watcher, handsome policeman checking permit,  or wandering deer that show up. Yes, we had all three this weekend.

But there is also SOMETHING quite marvelous about a model/sitter before your eyes, cup of warm coffee in hand, sturdy ground and restroom with running water nearby. A chance to work at a leisurely pace in controlled environment.

I guess that is why we have to paint it ALL. One discipline feeds the other. One discipline gives you a respect for the other...and painting it ALL makes one a better artist.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Do you need gallery/studio space?

This is the building my new studio is in and I am loving it!

Quaint adobe building right in the middle of picturesque Heritage Square in Oxnard, the Carnegie Art Museum our neighbor.

The good news is the owner just opened up a new studio space there. Great light, great price. Not huge but very workable.

There are also two small GALLERY spaces for rental in the building, available on a month to month basis. Great price too.

Let me know if you are interested and I will give you more info...

Saturday, July 11, 2009

My Student Show - Wine and Cheese Moment!

I was thrilled to see so many great artists put in their work for my student show at Graphaids in Agoura Hills, CA. THANK YOU. 

I love the diversity of the work and individual style of each artist.  That has always been important to me as a teacher, that a person develops his/her own individual style and voice. Ones' own personal art voice IS the most important thing and the hardest thing, I find, to develop. It is what separates the men from the boys!

This show showcases  students of mine from the last three years from various venues where I have taught in L.A. many of them now enjoying success in their own well-deserved right. I have learned as much from my students as I have taught them, for sure!!! They push me just as I push them. That for me is the point of teaching. I am also thrilled I remain in contact with so many and count them among my good  friends.

 I think the work looks great on the wall. This pix shows a small sample of what's up there. Thank you to ALL.

We will have a Wine and Cheese moment:

Graphaids,  30135 Agoura Road,Agoura Hills, Ca.

Thursday July 23rd, from 4 to 6pm.

Thanks also to Nicole at Graphaids for all her hard work and support. She is a delight!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Darling Dixie..

One of my favorite students, and a talented painter herself, Dixie, is returning home to Texas after a year studying at The Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art in Van Nuys

DIXIE, now a grandma,  had a life-long dream after a long graphic design career, world travels,  and raising kids, to immerse herself for a whole year in fine art instruction at the best school she could find.

She did her research from afar and LAAFA was her chosen school. No small wonder as the faculty is great and I am proud to be part of it. So she packed up her home, rented an apartment here and came out west with her cat.

She signed up for as many classes as she could fit into a week studying with many teachers at the school. See her journey on her blog at...

Dixie is one reason I like to teach. Gracious as a student, patient with herself, and always thoughtful about the process... and very fun! 

I got to paint her at my studio this week in Oxnard, a three hour head sketch,  as a kind of 'farewell 'til we meet again' moment. 

It sure was fun. 

Dixie said while I was painting her, she is going to hang my head sketch 'pride of place' at her memorial. NO PRESSURE or anything. See, I told you she was funny!

Safe travels dear Dixie and PAINT PAINT PAINT every moment to delay getting to your memorial! 

Monday, July 6, 2009

Apres Gnat Bite...

Yes, this little girl really did climb into that boat and sit and look at the waterfall in the middle of  howling winds.

What are the chances of that? Catch it while you can - and quickly.

The benefits of a regular life painting discipline meeting the huge challenges of en plein air painting. One has to work quickly and not under the best of circumstances.

This sketch was done amid heavy winds, I had to hold down my sun hat and pochade box to continue, and swarms of gnats which stuck like molasses to my sun-screened arms.

A crowd also gathered to watch in those quiet mountains. There were a lot of distractions one way and another including the amazing mountain waterfall vista which seemed just too magnificent to even contemplate painting.

I was glad for those boats in the foreground. Almost like a still life. I just kept saying to myself "Just put down what you see"....and then you can go for a nice lunch! Which I did..splattered gnats and all. Washed them off with a nice Rose wine.

Mountain Shorthand...

I think I like painting in the mountains... wow...

Pix are from my weekend painting trip to Mamouth, with some lovely non-painting moments with dear friends in their amazing log cabin which I SHOULD have painted.

It was pure bliss...and immediate painting satisfaction unlike painting something, say, a portrait,  for six weeks or so,  in your comfortable air-conditioned studio. Your only real personal worry (NOT ARTISTIC) ...what's for lunch? Eat out? Order in? Is the sandwich  already wilted from home?

In two short hours, in front of those majestic mountains, sun blazing down, wind blowing, getting thirsty and hot, you  artistically have to put it down in a painting 'shorthand' writing kind of way...your own personal vision of them...good or bad.

And that is what make it fun. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

It's A Dog's Life...Snooky

I am thrilled to present my most recent sitter...Snooky. Top I wish it was the one below!

Sadly, Snooky passed away a while ago, the dear pooch pal of a dear friend of mine in NYC and her family.

He was as much the part of her family as the husband, and kids. And had SUCH a personality. The loss of Snooky was painful for all who knew him. And I knew my dear friend was crushed. We all were.

I started this portrait just after his sad passing promising my dear girlfriend I would try and paint him for  her - during her grief.

I am not a dog painter. Look to Terry Stanley,, for how it should be done. Terry is doing some amazing dog portraits for an unbelievable price along with helping dog charities. She is a wow. So I put Snookie to one side...for a long while feeling a bit embarrassed that I hadn't delivered to my friend.

It was in my studio for close to two years.  I didn't think it was good enough. For many months I was wondering if I should go back in or start all over again. So once again it was turned against the wall.

Somehow today, in my new studio,  with a new energy that a new studio provides, I picked up my painting of Snooky and realized I had caught Snooky. And I really realized I liked what I done. Not perfect but I liked it. Just a few strokes more,,, and I knew I was done.

Funny how that happens after a long passing of time. My original plan was to paint him in a very classical way and that is what held me back.

The two days I painted this from my heart, I did it with a palette knife, orange and blue color harmony, just trying to go for the shapes of his head, not details....painting is all about the shapes, values, color vibration and losing detail. A dog, a tree, an apple, a human face. All the same really. 

But my rendition of Snooky wasn't classical. It wasn't like those incredible Victorian dog paintings, (like Sir Edwin Landseer, 1802 -1873, see above painting) I had seen in her husband's yummy art collection. 

I think I got intimidated. But as my mentor, Everett Raymond Kinstler, N.A., says, it IS important to paint in YOUR own time period. That is also of the reasons I like Terry Stanley's current dog portraits. They are fresh and modern. And who should even try and paint like Landseer? It has been done and DONE well.

Anyhow, I am glad the passage of time helped me see that a painting done from the heart on a certain day with a certain contemporary vigor, has value. And I am glad I didn't mess it up today when I added those few last touches. I was mindful of that!!!

Hope you like Snooky! My friend has yet to see it.

He was a darn good pooch!

This is 12" x 12".