Friday, December 14, 2012

Is this a 'C' design? Or an 'H'?

 11 x 14 oil on canvas panel

I 'd like to think I have a natural eye for good composition, in that I can recognize it when I see it, but trying to create it?  That's another story altogether.  This was painted down the road from where I live and the big round tree was the initial attraction.  But I quickly realized the road and telephone poles had a lot to do with the appeal too.  First try, I painted what I saw.  I could see there were design problems, so I made some changes, and re-read my favorite book on composition by Ian Roberts.   

Monday, August 13, 2012

Alder Stand

 8 x 10" Oil on canvas panel

Plein Aire #1 - sort of...  I did my first painting outdoors about a month ago when I hauled my French easel out the back door and painted my gate.  This one is with the pochade box I made. The lot next door to me is heavily populated with alders, and the light coming through in late afternoon was what I was after. I stayed close to home again because there's no shortage of gorgeousness right outside my door, and I wanted to be able to dash back into the house if I needed something.  All went quite well until I tried to pick up the tripod and carry it back to the house and the panel fell forward into the paint.  See the blobs on the bottom?  I smeared them around, but I was done - and wanted this first genuine plein aire painting to reflect what really happened in 2 hours, and give me info on what needs to change.   

A way to hold the panel in place would be helpful, but that gets way outside the cheap and easy department, so I'll simply wipe the sides of my finished panel with my rag (Tip #1: painting outdoors is far messier.  Wear an apron and have extra rags), and place it somewhere safe. Like a box in the back seat of the car. I will NOT be making a panel carrier, because more than one painting per outing is so outside the realm of possibility....well you know.  

Know something else? People who do this well, and in all sorts of weather deserve our admiration.  Lots of it.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Homemade Pochade Box

I wanted to put this together with items I already had around the house because I didn't know if I really wanted to spend a lot of time painting outdoors.  There are a lot of homemade pochade box videos and instructions around the web, but I wanted something super easy and inexpensive, that anyone could put together.  I already had a $20 photo tripod, so I'd been looking for an appropriate box. I spotted the unfinished wood cradled painting panels at Michael's.  They're surprisingly sturdy, so I bought two 9 x 12 x 7/8" with a 50% off coupon in hand.  $4.00 each.  I'd purchased the clip-on solvent cups earlier (again at Michael's with a 40 or 50% off coupon) and it fits inside just perfectly.  

Then I researched how to attach the box to the tripod, and found a nifty little item called a tee-nut at the hardware store for .45 cents. You'll need the 1/4-20 x 5/16 size, and a 1/4" drill bit for the hole in the bottom to hold the tee nut.  I also picked up two pretty little hinges for the back that would allow the box to open completely flat. Center them directly over the opening, so the box will lay completely flat should you decide to use it on a shelf.

I had the stain and the polyurethane for the exterior, but craft paint would work fine too.  Finding a hinge that would support the lid and attach to the outside without creating bulk and getting in the way, was almost impossible.  So I used a bit of chain to keep the lid at the right angle, cut a metal coat hanger for the brace, and used some screw eyes for hanging framed pictures, and started tinkering.  For a place to rest the painting panel, I used two tiny L screws, but the screw eyes I used to hold the chain would work fine too.  Here's the result.  I cut a piece of sturdy cardboard to fit in the bottom, and wrapped a disposable palette paper around it and taped it on the back.  I put my paints on before I leave the house. It slips right under the screw eyes.

The coat hanger lays flat diagonally across the palette area, or if I've got paints on the palette, I'll slip it under the ribbon with velcro I'll use to keep this puppy closed.  Funky? Sure, but the total cost was $10.99.  I've used it once indoors for a trial run and it feels plenty sturdy enough to take outdoors.

Postscript  4/27/144: This was fun to make and I like the way mine balances,  but I spied a dandy little $20 item on eBay that might make a good little box with the addition of a well placed T nut on the bottom. 

Type in 'Art Alternatives Marquis Desk Easel with drawer', or go to Amazon and type in the same: $25.00!

I've used up to a 12 x 16 panel on my little box with no problems, and with a suggestion by the wonderful Julie Ford Oliver, hold it in place with mounting putty. If you haven't already discovered her blog, click on the link above. She's a wonderful artist and generous teacher.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Seventh Street at Dusk

11 x 14 acrylic on canvas panel

I long for landscapes! So I'll shove my fear in a box and dive in. Living at the coast provides amazing opportunities for light and form. I caught this at dusk just a block from the ocean.

 I've also been painting outdoors and making a simple inexpensive little pochade box.  I'll post photos and directions if it's everything I hope it to be.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


10 x 10 oil on Baltic Birch panel

Another contribution to the fundraiser for Col. Potter's Cairn Rescue Network.  I volunteer to edit posts and trade off photo editing with another volunteer living in New York state.  If you love dogs, most rescues are looking for volunteers for computer work, foster homes, transport, etc.
Totally worthwhile, you'll work with wonderful people and help the dog who isn't lucky enough to have found a committed loving forever home,
or was born in a puppy mill and handed off to rescue, or seized by the ASPCA and found it's way to rescue.

This is Connor in Pennsylvania, one of the lucky ones!  Such a handsome boy and pure joy to paint! 

Saturday, April 21, 2012


10x10" oil on archival canvas board

Another little darling who is waiting at the Rainbow Bridge.  A surprise for his Mom - from a very good friend.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Into the Light

8 x 10" oil on stretched canvas

After this third foray into finding 'Free to use' photos online,  I've learned to resist, and use that resource for reference and clarification only.  At the very least, we owe acknowledgement to the person who was kind enough to share that photo, and most of us do, but find a 'spectacular' free photo online - and you'll see it pop up on any Google search of the subject matter and 'painting'.  This from a photo posted on WetCanvas and generously shared by Lin Goodwin, a British artist.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Saving oil paint

I borrowed the idea of a 'holding' palette for unused paint at the end of a painting session.  I started by putting my glass palette in a box, then a plastic bag stored in the freezer.  Worked okay, but I found I really enjoyed starting with a clean palette. So I started storing leftover paint on a white salad size plate, put it in a sealed plastic plate holder in the freezer. But the plate is hard to clean, so I went the ultra easy/lazy route, and save any usable paints on a piece of disposable palette paper, plop that into the bottom of a standard Ziploc sandwich container, pop the lid on, and throw it in the freezer. No clean up when the paint is used up, colors not being used can go right back into the freezer so the faster drying organics don't dry out, and it doesn't take up as much room in the freezer.

Postscript 4/3/14:  Nothing stays the same here, so I ended up using a rectangular plain white tile (3x6") to store leftover paint.  I made a little box with a fold over lid out of plain old cardboard, put that in a ziploc bag and it holds well for up to a couple of weeks.  The organics will dry out no matter what, so I only save the mixes I might need again and the colors I know won't dry out. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012


10 x 10 Oil on archival canvas panel

I finally managed to get a painting done in the same week the DPW Challenge was posted!  Who doesn't love to paint a horsey! And as usual, I learned something new. In this case, check the finished painting next to the challenge/reference photo.  (This is an easy thing to do with a computer, but you have to remember to do it!)  I had no idea I wasn't using the right value for the horse until I saw it posted with the others.  Very valuable exercise these challenges!  Thank you to David and Carol Marine for providing such a valuable and helpful website.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Cool Tool!

I thought I'd share a handy tool I just discovered via Jim Otto's blog here: .   Jim is highly accomplished, but he's down to earth and his blog is a joy to follow.  It's kind of like talking over the fence with a friendly neighbor who knows a bunch of helpful stuff.

The tool he mentions is a proportional divider made by Accurasee, which is linked below.  For anyone who's struggled with proportion (don't all put your hands up at once!) this thing is bound to be a handy tool, as are all the items in their 'Measurement Kit' which is very reasonably priced compared to other proportional dividers out there.  Check out their products here: