Thursday, September 20, 2018

901 Bumper Crop

I have a rooftop garden at my new home, and it has brought me so much joy as well as an abundance of tomatoes and other fresh vegetables.  This is an heirloom tomato (I think Purple Prudence)  that was given to me as a tiny plant and now it is so heavy I fear it will uproot.

I normally work in acrylic paint, but this one is in oil, as I am trying to improve my skill.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

900 Just Do It

It feels like forever since I've sent a blog with a new painting.  My husband and I recently moved to Chicago after 29 years of living in the Milwaukee area, and along with a move like that comes a lot of stress and logistical details, all of which involve the left brain, not leaving much room or time for creative right brain activity, such as painting.  It has been very difficult for me, as painting has been such a healthy and enjoyable habit for me for so long, and without it, I fell into that funk that artists and writers sometimes fall into, a void if you will.  I never wanted to acknowledge that void, to give it validity,  but to describe it to you, I would say it's like an aversion to exercise.  You think of any reason not to exercise/ paint--washing windows, cleaning out closets--you get the point.  This was compounded by the fact that I have a new studio which is very different from my previous studio work space.  It's difficult to get things arranged so that my supplies are convenient for me to paint, and to get the light just right.

So what happened to propel me to paint?  A couple of things lined up simultaneously that are significant.  Mary Gilkerson is an artist from South Carolina I follow online.  She started a five day, 20 minute painting challenge beginning yesterday, Monday and I thought this would be a good idea.  But I think what really spurred me to paint was a dream I had in which two artists played an important role. 

Nancy Mertz King is a fabulous local Chicago artist who is proficient in oil and pastels and internationally recognized.  She owns a beautiful gallery to display her work and she also has a thriving framing business. Her work is beautiful.

Diane Arenburg is a Wisconsin artist who now lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  She, also, is an amazing oil, pastel and jewelry artist who has overcome cancer and is living life to the fullest. 

My dream involved both artists, morphing from one face to another, switching from Diane to Nancy and back again, encouraging me to just pick up the snippets of pastel chalk and move it around the paper.  "Just do it" she said, and I hesitantly picked up a nub of chalk and applied it to paper.  It seemed so simple, but I did it in my dream, even though it has been many years since I worked with pastels.  I can visualize so vividly the size and color of the chalk, and yesterday decided that it was THE day to end this absence of painting, what I love and need so much to do. 

"Just Do It."  That's the message on the t-shirt I wore in 1996 when I ran my first and only marathon.  It was an important message for me then, and it is now.  Just Do It, just like in my dream.  Don't labor over why you can't paint.  Just pick up the damn brush and push the paint around.  It will feel good and will break the silence.

And that's what I did.  I intended to paint for 20 minutes at Mary Gilkerson's suggestion, but indeed that was not enough time to produce something I could be happy with.  I painted and painted, and painted 3 different paintings on this one little 6 x 6" canvas, one over the other.  It took me all day, far beyond the 20 minutes I was supposed to assign to this project.  But you know what?  It felt so good to hold the brush in my hand and to mix the colors on my palette.  I didn't stop all day long, and I made great progress on this and other paintings.  I have gessoed several canvases with intentions and can't wait to get back to work.

I know it sounds hokey that a dream catapulted me back to the studio.  I don't care why or how it happened.  I'm just grateful that it did.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

899 Call to Action

Portrait painting is so difficult, and this one was particularly challenging for me for some reason.  The tiniest change in the angle of any of the facial lines can turn a smile into a smirk,  calm expression into worry or anger, etc.  Even the age of the person is too easily altered by the slightest mistake.  Rearranging facial features--moving an eye up or down, etc---always makes me think of my kids mixing up the features of Mr. Potato Head.

This beautiful little girl's portrait was the 31st painted as part of The Innocents Project, and is my effort to bring awareness of the innocent children we call refugees in the Middle East, and to the wonderful humanitarian work ANERA (American Near East Refugee Aid) does.  I have been closely following the situation in Gaza and the torment the people there have experienced in recent weeks, and even though this young girl is smiling, I'm sure there isn't much to smile about in Gaza.

ANERA's words are much more powerful than any of mine could be, so I will shamelessly copy and paste from their website.  They are the people on the ground in Gaza and can report the situation much more accurately than I can.  I am a supporter of ANERA and partner with them to show you the real children who benefit from their work.

If you would like to learn more about ANERA's work, please visit their website at
and donate if you can.

"Once again, the world is looking at tiny Gaza as it copes with more bloodshed and anguish. For Anera’s community of supporters, the news is a call to action to do something for the Palestinians of Gaza who are caught up in a situation that is hard for most people to fathom. With generous donor funds, Anera’s on-the-ground Gaza staff has responded with versatility and resourcefulness to get help where it is most needed."

Thursday, May 31, 2018

898 Crazy for Cherries

Cherries are a very big part of Door County's image and certainly its economy.  Door County is a peninsula and its unique climate and soil conditions make it perfect for cherries to grow.  The Door County website features a cherry report, tracking the progression of blossoms to the various stages of cherry growth. I borrowed the title of the painting from this website.

Here are a few health benefits of eating cherries, according to

Tart cherries offer these potential health benefits:
• Relieve the pain of arthritis, gout and headaches
• Up to 10 times more effective in fighting joint and
muscle inflammation than aspirin
• High in natural melatonin to improve sleep patterns
• Helps lower cholesterol
• Protect heart against disease, attacks or strokes
• Helps lower blood pressure
• Protect brain and neuromuscular systems
• Inhibit the growth of colon cancer tumors
• Helps fight and prevent certain chronic diseases
• Supports your immune system

Saturday, March 31, 2018

897 Confetti Blooms

This bunch of flowers was the only multi colored bunch of ranunculas available, so I  had to buy them.  I find them to be such an intriguing flower, so rose-like, yet with wandering stems.  I painted this from life and had to move relatively quickly because the flowers kept changing, fading in color and "wandering."  I purchased the little pitcher from Good Will and it was a challenge to paint because its tarnished finish has so many colors.

The more I look at this happy painting, the more I like it.  I hope you do too.  Happy Easter and Happy Passover to all of you.

Friday, March 23, 2018

895 Missing a Piece and 896 Margarita

895 Missing a Piece 

896 Margarita, acrylic on 6 x 8" museum hardbord

I enjoyed painting this still life so much that I painted it twice.  Limes last a long time, unlike flowers.  Both are headed to Edgewood Orchard Gallery in Door County this Spring.

Monday, March 12, 2018

894 Upstaged

Setting up a still life is harder than it looks.  Sometimes what you envision in your mind just doesn't work in reality.  There are so many possible variations for positioning the actors and many, many photographs taken.  The right set up usually lets me know which one to pick.