Monday, December 19, 2011

Aspen Grove

Aspen are the weed tree here in the Colorado mountains. They grow like crazy anywhere you don't want them to be. like in my garden. However, we love them for their color and their ability to fill empty hillsides very quickly. Pine Beetle have devastated our pine forests but it is amazing how quickly aspen are providing cover for the wildflowers and wildlife. This Aspen stand was in Rico Colorado, but it could have been in my backyard in Summit County. This photo of the oil painting was taken with my new iphone and I was amazed at what a good job it did picking up the color. It may be just a touch light, and the blue in the shadows isn't really quite that bright, but I was really surprised at the quality of the photo. This painting is 18x24 and available at the River's Edge Gallery in Alma Colorado, a little town between Breckenridge and Fairplay.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

There really is a South Park, Colorado

A "park" is a high mountain valley, and Colorado has three of them; North Park, Middle Park and the famous South Park. It isn't really famous for anything except the cartoon series named after it, but it is home to several small Colorado towns. The largest is Fairplay, and just north of there is a little town called Alma. An artist friend of mine, Cat Roberts, is opening a new gallery in Alma, and I will have some work hanging there. The River's Edge gallery is in a little historic building in a town where the largest store (if you don't count bars) is called Al-Mart. Alma is most known for having a cop car with a dummy sitting in it postitioned in different places in town during the summer, trying to get the tourists to slow down as they whiz through on their way to Breckenridge. Now it will be known for having a wonderful gallery too!

I thought it might be apt to have some river and fishing paintings in a gallery called River's Edge, so this will be one that goes there on Friday. It is 9x12, and an oil painting.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Breckenridge poster entry

This painting (18x24) was done this summer as my entry into the Bach, Beethoven and Breckenridge poster contest. These poppies are found growing everywhere in Breckenridge in the summertime. Many are in gardens and I suspect others are escapees that naturalized. I did not win this year (I did have a painting selected a couple of years ago) but it was fun doing it and I enjoyed hearing the comments about it. Most people seemed to like it. The one that was selected was also flowers, but it was columbine in front of aspen tree trunks, and was a great painting. I actually voted for it myself :)

I don't have this piece in a gallery yet, but am waiting for summer to come back so that people will see it while the flowers are blooming. We have a long wait yet as winter has not yet really taken hold here in the mountains of Colorado.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Stalking fly fishermen

I spent the fall trying to photograph fly fishermen so that I would have reference to use for paintings during the winter. I think some of the guys were wondering what I was up to as I photographed them over and over. Every so often I had to turn the camera away and get a shot up the river so they wouldn't think I was stalking them (I was!). No one called the police on me and I got lots of photos. This is the first painting I did from this year's crop of photos. It is 16x20 and I enjoyed working a little larger than I usually do. I have just started experimenting with adding figures to my landscapes and I am having a great time doing it!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A dog commission

I loved painting this little guy. A friend of mine sent me a photo of her dog and asked me to paint him. Unfortunately, the photo was not very good. It was really hard to see his eyes. I an told that is a common problem with commissions, and my sister suggested I go online and find a photo of the same breed of dog and use his eyes, which I did. The owner of the dog was pleased with it, and so was I. It was a good solution, without violating any copyright issues.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


I have had the photo reference for this for some time, and finally painted it. The dog belongs to a friend of mine that we hike with sometimes. He likes nothing more than to roll in the snow banks that are left under trees in the spring time as we hike. A lab through and through; he even likes frozen water!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

My favorite of the summer plein air paintings

Winter has arrived in my part of Colorado, and it is nice to have a little fall color hanging on the wall! We are supposed to get 4 to 10" of snow tonight. I know that is a large amount for many of you, but I live in ski country and we like it. Some of the ski areas are already open and others open later this week. Copper Mountain and Keystone both open on November 4th, although terrain will be limited to where they have snowmaking for a while. We need a lot more snow before there will be enough to ski on without any man made snow added to it. It will come; we don't have to worry about that!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Painting with the Plein Air Artists of Colorado

I was invited to paint with this group when they came up to Summit County this September, and I took them up on it. Now that I feel more comfortable painting outside, I will be joining them more often I hope!

Monday, October 24, 2011

The studio piece from the last plein air

I will admit, I didn't use the plein air piece much as a reference, but it did help with colors. I wanted to get more of the water in this one. This is 11x14. The scene was in Westcliffe, Colorado, just as colors were beginning to turn.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Another in my plein air series

I had a couple of afternoons to paint while in Westcliffe this summer, and this is another that I did while I was there. The leaves were changing in front of our eyes, and it was amazing how much more color there would be in the afternoon than there had been that morning! I did a little larger studio piece from this study plus the reference I took while there. I will post it in a couple of days.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

I have been away too long....time to start posting again!

Somehow time flew this summer and I managed to ignore my blog. We did a plein air event as a benefit for the local Land Trust. My sister Adele was in town as Artist in Residence in Breckenridge for a month, and I spent more time painting than I thought I might be able to. I went to Westcliffe CO in September for another Plein air event that Adele and our friend Joe Garcia were involved in. In the process I managed to get better at painting outside and even did a few plein air pieces I don't mind showing other people. I have taken two workshops with Jill Carver, trying to improve my outdoor painting skills and perhaps something stuck. But then again, next time I go outside to paint, I might have to wipe every attempt off!

Joe, his wife Anne, Adele, and my husband and I also managed to set up a business doing painting workshops in New Zealand. The first one that Joe and Adele will be teaching is full, and we have scheduled Michael Chesley Johnson and Barrett Edwards to teach two in February and March in 2013. See if you would like more information. I also was juried in to Women Artists of the West and will be joining Plein Air Artists of Colorado in January. My goal is to paint even more next year and will start by joining PAAC in Taos in May for a paintout.

So do I have an excuse for not posting? Not really, but I will do better this fall and into the winter.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Breckenridge poppies

Because of the huge amount of snow we had this winter, followed by more than adequate summer showers, the flowers have been phenomenal! Both garden flowers and wildflowers have been the best I have ever seen.

Breckenridge is covered in poppies, which inspired both my sister and I to paint them. This is just a little 8x10 but I have an 18x24 in me, just waiting to get out. I am going to start on it tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Painting workshop in Southern Colorado with Jill Carver

It sure is green here! The aspen are just leafing out and what was gold and yellow when I was here last fall is now just as green as can be! It is challenging to get the greens right, with the right amount of warmth or coolness so that each area can be seen as different from the one next to it that may be the same value!

We have been working hard on values. Yesterday we did three value studies, going from a simple black and white painting showing just the light and shadow patterns, then adding one grey to the next one, then two on the next, for a total of four values.

Today we did another value study using five values, and then painted the same scene in color. Jill photographed the color paintings in black and white and we will compare our color paintings to the value study via the black and white photo. The goal is to learn to see value comparisons within and between the different hues. That is a challenge for me, as I know I have a tendency to use color when I should be using value. Hopefully my painting I did today achieved that, although I think I could have used temperature better to give more of a feeling of distance. But we will see when we critque on Thursday.

Tomorrow we head to a local ranch to paint, with lunch catered by a person who I am told is a fabulous cook! A treat after my cheese quesdillas I have had for lunch every day so far this week.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Summer time in Colorado

There is no better time than Summer in the Colorado high country. (except maybe winter if you are a skier!) The real estate office where I have my real job is just across the street from this scene in Frisco. I love the activity in the summer, as people walk, ride bikes and sight see. We also have fabulous flowers. Our season is so short (at most, three months) that everything blooms at once. The light at this altitude is clear and bright too.

This painting is a 12 x24 and I painted it for a show that I have coming up at the Buffalo Mountain Gallery in July.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A touch of summer when it is still white outside!

It may not be white where you are, but it is still snowing in the mountains of Colorado! Here is is May 19th, almost Memorial Day, and summer still seems far away. Our winter is never ending! This painting is a little 6x8 oil. My reference photo was taken at the beach in New Zealand when I was there in March. New Zealand is in the southern hemisphere and the seasons are reversed, so it was late summer there. The North Island is a very temperate climate, so they never have snow and the gardens grow like crazy. Every time I go there, I have to get used to the sub-tropical look all over again.

My sister, Adele Earnshaw and I were there for three weeks preparing for the water color workshop she and Joe Garcia will be doing in February/March 2012. We just had a cancellation so we have an opening if you know anyone that would like to go. Send them to our blog for more information. Actually it has lots of info about New Zealand, and we are adding more every week or so, if you would like to go there just to see what my home country is like. I love it there!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Up on the Ridge

This is just a little 6x8 done with a synthetic brush instead of natural bristle. I have always used Robert Simmons bristle brushes, and when I first tried the Ruby Silver Synthetic, I didn't care for it as I thought it took as much paint off the canvas as it put on. However, I did like finishing with it as it really lays the paint down and looks like a definite brush stroke, which I have trouble getting the bristle brushes to do. The edges always seem to be softer with natural bristles.

This was done from the start with the synthetic, and I am beginning to like it. It just takes a lighter touch and a little practice to get used to it. The lighter touch lets you lay the paint over the top of the underneath wet paint and not drag it up to the top or take it off. Actually I used the fact that it takes paint off too to delineate edges and cut in where I wanted to. Maybe I will order a few more!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Fly fishing on the lower Blue

I wish summer would come back! Here it is May 1st and it is snowing where I live, at 9,000 feet in the Colorado Rockies. Painting these types of scenes are fun when it is white outside, but during a long winter, I run out of reference photos. We always have fishermen on the Blue River, winter and summer,(it is Gold Medal fishing), but the best scenery is summer and fall. Perhaps in another month I will be able to get more photos again. I had lots of fun painting this one. I have not painted people very much before, so it was a good experience, and something new. I did a little study from this same reference photo a while ago and it sold as soon as I took it into the gallery, so I changed the composition a little and did this larger 24x28. The study was so small that the people were nothing more than a couple of dabs of paint. The larger version needed a lot more accuracy, but I still tried very hard not to noodle them. I really like the way Ken Valastro paints people, and while I didn't get anywhere near as loose as Ken gets, it was a good start in that direction.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Artists of Colorado show in Denver next week

This painting, an 11x14 titled "The Trail West" was accepted into a show at Brushstrokes Gallery in Denver. It is part of a show by a group called Artists of Colorado, of which I am a member. I have to deliver the painting Tuesday and the show opens Friday, May 6th with a reception between 5 and 8pm. I am looking forward to touring some of the galleries in the area on South Gaylord St. I understand it is becoming quite the art district.

This landscape is right in my backyard, looking west toward Buffalo Mountain. My house backs to the Mesa Cortina trail and forest service land, so we have a big backyard!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Aspen color in April

I live in the mountains of Colorado, and it is still snowing here! While it is great for the ski areas, by April I am ready for flowers and green grass. I am so tired of white! Our landscapes are still under a couple of feet of snow and I am ready for some color.

Little pieces (6x8) always sell well in the gallery, and aspen with fall color do especially well. My biggest issue is to try to vary them somewhat and not get bored with painting them. The photo I used for this reference had more orange and green than others I have done, so it is a little different than others I have done. Will it sell as well? We will see I guess!

My goal this month is three a week, but this one doesn't count as I did it about a month ago. I was hoping this month would be a little quieter at work so I would have more time to paint, but so far it isn't looking like it will be. I will just have to make the painting time. I put it on my calendar first and schedule around it when I have to, and this month will be one of those times.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Gone to the dogs

I haven't had a chance to paint much since I got back from New Zealand, but I just got another painting finished yesterday. One of the first paintings I ever did was a dog, but I have concentrated on landscapes the last four or five years. I am now trying to expand my horizons a little bit by adding some people and animals to my repertoire.

A couple of weeks ago I posted my last painting of a couple of puppies chowing down their dinner, and today it is a retriever ready for his owner to throw a stick out into the water again. I am at my sister's house in Arizona this week, helping her get her house ready to put on the market so that she can move to New Zealand. She needs to paint too, as she has a show coming up and several galleries to supply, so we had agreed we would spend every morning painting. We were not able to paint this morning as we supplies to pick up and some shopping to do, so tomorrow we have to get back at it. She has an entry to finish for Birds in Art and I have some prep work to do for a larger painting I will work on for the painting class I am taking this semester at the local junior college.

Once I get home again, my goal will be to turn out about three paintings a week, so hopefully they will be worth posting and won't be wiped off! I have got to paint in order to improve my skills. As they say, practice makes perfect.....

Monday, March 28, 2011

A new blog, and a good one!

I take art classes through our local community college. Most of the classes I take are taught by Kate Kiesler, whose work I admire a lot. The above image is hers, not mine. I am getting better, but not that fast! This is titled Western Landscape, and is north of where we both live.

I go to Kate's website frequently to see what she has been doing, and now I find that she has a blog. In it, she talks about her process of painting and the challenges and rewards she finds in using art to make a living. I found it very beneficial and think that you might too. She puts a lot of thought into it and has a really good art history background that comes through as she writes.

She also filled me in on how to get directly to my blog from my Fine Art Studio Online website, which I hadn't known how to do. I had just posted the link and people had to click twice instead of once to find it from the website. So if you need to know how to do that, let me know and I will forward the instructions to you. It is easy to do!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Back in town and painting again

After two and a half weeks in New Zealand preparing for our Watercolor Holiday, I spent a couple of days in Arizona getting over jet lag and painted this 11x14 oil while there. I took some acrylics to NZ with me, but never did use them. I thought they would be easier to travel with than oils, (they were) but I really don't like painting with acrylics. I did get them out once, but wasn't motived enough to look for a subject to paint. By the time I got back to the US, I was itching to get back into the oil paint. I have decided that if I ever want to hang in any galleries outside of Colorado, I am going to have to vary my subject matter as Colorado landscapes won't have much appeal in other states. My sister had this reference photo of these two puppies wolfing down their dinner and I decided to try dogs for a change. I got some wonderful sailboat and marine reference in New Zealand, and I need to get more fly fishing paintings done, plus I have a request for another mountain goat, so I guess it is time to work on a little variety in my subject matter. I am hopeful that I can get some more painting time in this week, but catching up after being away is never easy!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

If art sales are coming back, is the economy better?

I have heard, from many different artists, that art sales seem to be coming back. The Southeastern Wildlife Exhibit in Charleston, SC had some good sales, and several galleries I am familiar with have had some recent success. I sold two small paintings today myself, and I see the ability of people to buy things other than necessities as a good indicator of comfort with the economy. People are seeming to not be so concerned with buying things that truly are optional purchases.
As I sell real estate in a resort market, (buying a second home really means you have confidence in your ability to pay for it!) I am glad to see it. I also love the fact that perhaps the many artists I know that are self supporting, will be able to eat something other than rice and beans or Ramen noodles!
Are the rest of you seeing the same thing in your area? Hopefully it is a national trend.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Getting ready to go to New Zealand

This painting sold this week....yaay! It seems that art sales are picking up again. I have heard good things from a lot of different artists.
I have been too long delayed in posting something new, but I haven't had much time to paint. My sister Adele and I leave in two weeks for New Zealand and I have been on full speed trying to get everything done before I go. We are doing our scouting trip for the watercolor holiday that she and Joe Garcia will be conducting a year from now, in February/March 2012. I get to go along as chief cook and bottlewasher :)

The trip this year is to make sure that we like the cabins we have selected for our lodging and want to be certain we have alternative places to paint if (or when) it rains. We also want to check out the restaurants and bakeries that we are planning on using, to make sure that they are still in business and still serving good food. Yum! We have to check on transportation as we think that we will hire a small bus rather than driving two vans ourselves when we do our daily trips. That is undetermined until we talk to the bus company. It seems that New Zealand businesses just haven't got the hang of doing business on the internet. They are bad at answering emails and websites often are pretty sketchy. But that is ok, I don't mind checking it out in person!
We will have 18 to 20 people on the holiday; just over half being painters and the rest spouses and partners wanting to also see New Zealand. Deposits are due in by the end of the month and we have a waiting list, so if some drop off, it looks like it will still be full. We will probably do another workshop the following year, in 2013, and may bring in guest instructors too, so we can cover both oil and watercolor. New Zealand is a fabulous country, and so paintable!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Finding another gallery

The willows are amazing colors this time of year. Today is just this kind of day. Snow on the ground, abundant sunshine and blue skies. We call it a bluebird day.

I would really love to find another Colorado Gallery in which to hang my work. I know most galleries really aren't looking for more artists, but this spring I am going to make a concerted effort to send some portfolios to a few and see if I can't get into another one. I am painting enough these days that the work is beginning to stack up and I need another outlet. Any suggestions anyone? Any thoughts on making the best presentation possible?

Thanks for your help!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Painting from a photograph

I am taking another art class at our local junior college. This six weeks the name of the class is "Painting from a Photograph." I was curious about exactly how our instructor would treat it, and she started out giving us all the same photo, and telling us to try to paint it exactly. This will all lead up to editing the photo to make a better painting, but I was happy with the photo she gave us to paint, and didn't mind painting it exactly. It was interesting to see 14 different versions of the same photo.
If I had a choice, I would have passed over this one as it has a lot going on, and it is complicated. The mountain I can handle, but the ski runs on it, the sign, buildings and cars are a lot of detail. I don't usually paint cars! I paint bushes and trees because it doesn't matter if you get the shape exactly right or not, but when painting a car, you had better know how to draw a car to look like a car. The good news is that if you just paint the shapes you see and don't worry about painting a car, somehow it magically comes out looking like a car!
Sorry about the quality of the photo. The paint was still wet when I took the photo and it made for glare. After it dries I think I will repaint the back of the red car a little longer so it doesn't look squished into the edge of the painting, but for now I am happy with how this turned out.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Winter can be colorful

Willows are so gorgeous with no leaves on them! They change color as the season progresses and seem to be the darkest red, almost burgundy, in the early winter. As time goes on they get brighter, until they end up almost orange by spring. I love to watch them. Of course, they like wet feet, so you always see water around them. The title of this piece is "Thawing" as the creek is beginning to show up again and is not snow covered. It is hanging in our "Winter lights" show at the Arts Alive Gallery in Breckenridge.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Getting adventurous!

My last post was a painting of an animal and in this one, I have people! This painting is only 6x8, so they are actually just a couple of brushstrokes, but I don't often put people in my landscapes. This painting is a study to work out the composition for a larger piece, and yes, I know the fishermen are right in the middle! Does it bother you? I look at the people, the yellow bushes to their left and the colorful tall tree behind them as a triangle that is the focal point, rather than just the fishermen. I may change my mind when I do it larger and I might move them over a little bit, but why not break the rules?

I see other artists who do it all the time, and it works, so hopefully this will too.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Working out problems in paintings

I seem to have a three step process for fixing a painting. First, I have to figure out what is wrong with it. Often, I don't know what the problem is, but just have a nagging feeling that it isn't quite right.

I usually will leave it for a few days and let it dry while I look at it occasionally to see if it hits me. I can always see what is wrong with other people's paintings! I should be able to see it just as easily on my own. With a few days space between actually painting it and looking at it again, it often does jump out at me. I also find that photographing it makes it more obvious, looking at it on the computer screen. Looking at it in the mirror sometimes does it, but for me, a photograph is better.

Once I realize what the issue is, I have to decide how to fix it. That often takes me time. I am a relative newbie to painting, and still have lots to learn. I often work it out at night, thinking about the painting when I should be sleeping. The problem I had with the painting above is that the mountain goat and the background were the same value, and they blended in with each other. I could have lightened the goat, but on his shady side, he really was quite dark, even though he was white. I could have darkened the grasses around him, but then it wouldn't have looked like the summer tundra he was munching on. I finally realized at about 2am one night that color temperature rather than value was the way to do it. The grasses had been yellow green and I had used an orange toned board so some of the background warmth was coming through. All I needed to do was cool down the green by adding blue to it and suddenly the warmer, sunny side of the mountain goat popped out. Where he was shaded, I had to still keep the green warmer.

This whole painting was an experiment and was just done as a study to see if I could paint an animal and get the drawing right (not my strong point) and it was nice to be able to work out some of the other issues as well. I still wonder if the pile of rocks isn't too strong, but there aren't many darks in this painting, so I left them.