Thursday, June 30, 2016

806 Sunflower

It has been a long time since I last painted with watercolor, probably during my feather/nest series.  The reference photo begged for watercolor interpretation, so I listened.  It was more difficult  than I thought it would be, but I am happy with the result.

"806 Sunflower"
watercolor -

Sunday, June 26, 2016

805 Inspired by Nature

As an artist, it is very worthwhile to take time off to "play" and try new things--new media, new techniques, subjects, etc.  This certainly has been a week where variety played a big part.

I  broke out the water-soluble oil paints and made a big mess.  I played around with alcohol inks and have dyed fingers I hope will come clean by the weekend.  Lastly, I hosted my Garden Club friends two days for rock painting, which was loads of fun.  I love encouraging others to discover how much fun being creative is!

The above painting was an experiment.  I photographed mushrooms in my front lawn and thought they were very interesting and pretty and, again, "had" to paint them.  A Canadian artist, Sandrine Pelissier, has been very inspiring to me to try new media and techniques.  There are so many different inks/paints/other products in this painting and while I am not sure they are all compatible, it was indeed a learning experience.

"805 Inspired by Nature"
mixed - 8x10 in

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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Portrait Revisions

I had never really painted portraits prior to November 1, 2015 when I began Chantel Barber's online portrait class.  Chantel has a very unique style and I was eager to learn.  Although I have been unsuccessful in adapting to her style (which is beautiful !)  I did learn so much from her and with practice, practice and more practice, I feel like I am making progress.  Here is my very first assignment,  which I think was a timed assignment in which we were to study a photograph and then paint it without referencing the photo in a short time, but no's awful.  Pretty scary, eh? (I am divulging my vulnerable side!)

If you follow my blog, you know that I wanted to learn to paint portraits so that I could paint the refugee children of Lebanon and Palestine in what I am calling "The Innocents Project."  I have painted six portraits of refugee children so far, and will continue for as long as I am able.  I hope to raise awareness of the dire situations thes  innocent children face, and to bring focus and attention to the great work that ANERA (American Near East Refugee Aid) does to help them and their families.  Someday, somehow, I hope these paintings will not only raise awareness, but will raise money for ANERA's valiant efforts to serve these children and their families.  Please visit their website:
 and make a donation if you are so inclined. 

Today, I spent the day rearranging facial features and skin tones to reflect my current level of ability.  It is a very powerful (and rewarding)  kind of feeling that an artist can move eyes closer or further apart, and adjust noses, lips, etc.   I also changed all the backgrounds of the paintings to reflect a more optimistic and hopeful color.  After much thought, I decided that I want to present the children playing outside on a sunny, blue-skied day, imagining a beautiful playground with real swings and slides and sandboxes.  The previous background was rather depressing, so I am much happier with this choice.  Here is a photo of all six revised paintings.  I hope you will provide feedback.

Aren't they beautiful children?  They deserve so much better!

Thank you for reading my blog. 


Friday, June 17, 2016

804 Summer, Finally!

I really enjoyed painting this after a rocky start.  It's been a few months since I painted with the oil paints and a subject so unprecise.  I was inspired to paint by so many beautiful works of art that were part of the Cedarburg Cultural Center's Plein Air show.  I did not participate in the plein air painting (next year!), but enjoyed helping to hang the paintings with artist Chuck Eaton.  I couldn't wait to get home to paint! 

"804 Summer, Finally!"
oil - 9x12 in!/485221

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Czech Republic "Very Cool" Juggling Pins

I saw these juggling pins, which are also called clubs at a salvage house in Chicago.  The title of the painting is exactly as the sign was written.  Each pin's cost is $85.  I thought they were very cool, aged and beat up by presumably many years of practice and entertainment.

As an artist and curious person, one fact I am constantly reminded of is that no matter what subject I paint, there is always so much to learn.  In this case, there are all sorts of different juggling clubs/pins.  I learned that juggling is much more popular and prevalent in Europe than in the United States.

I have fond memories of our local village's Fourth of July parade.  Present and popular every year was a team of two local jugglers, Heads Up Jugglers, comprised of beloved Ken Head and his juggling partner (I'm sorry I don't know his name) who entertained everyone each and every year.  Ken was a local "celebrity" whose real job was to be a real estate professional.  He and his wife worked together in their real estate business and their slogan was "Two Heads are better than one."  Sadly, this very active man died of ALS recently and I know he will be honored and missed every day, but especially each Fourth of July.

"Czech Republic Very Cool Juggling Pins"
acrylic -

Friday, June 10, 2016

803 I Deserve More

 From all outward appearances, this darling little girl looks normal, right?  She's clean,  her hair is combed and she is wearing a nice big smile on a sunny day (not that all of that makes "normal).  But her life is far from normal.  She is one of too many refugees living in makeshift camps devised from tents or old barracks in Lebanon and Palestine.  In the many photos I have seen of the camps, they appear to be cement walls with a tarp used as a "roof" to connect them.  It's very sad for me to think that this is how this little girl lives and it is the only way she knows to live.   Her family has to beg for clean water to cook, drink and bathe in a bucket.  

ANERA is working very hard to help these children who have faced war and displacement in their very short lives.  They have renovated schools, improved on water systems, and provide shelter, medical supplies, clean clothes, blankets, playgrounds and done everything within their power to make the lives of the displaced Syrians and Palestinians more comfortable and "normal."  

This painting is part of my series of refugee children that I am calling "The Innocents Project."  I am very committed to try to raise awareness of the horrific situations that the children face, with the hope that you will check out the good work that ANERA does (American Near East Refugee Assistance) and consider making a donation to help these children.   This project came about for me because I wasn't satisfied with just sending donations to this worthy cause.  I felt I needed to do more.  I sincerely hope you will go to ANERA's web site to see the reality that these people face and will make a donation. 

"803 I Deserve More"
acrylic - 12x12 in

Saturday, June 4, 2016

802. Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church, a.k.a. "The Rached Church"

Today was the third and last day of my painting class with Milwaukee based artist, Shelby Keefe and lots of other really cool painters at The Peninsula School of Art.    Yesterday, Shelby's demonstration was of an architectural scene from her recent plein air painting trip to Cuba, and so I thought I should try to paint something in that genre.  Yikes.  I am far from a technical drawer and this was really difficult.  I learned so much from these three days that will carry me forward, most notably that I should take more time with my rendering and be much more purposeful with my brush strokes.  And that I need a bunch of new paintbrushes.    

This is a Catholic church in the south of Lebanon in my ancestors' village of Marjeyoun.  We still have family who live there--the most generous and hospitable people I've ever known.  The church is affectionately called "the Rached/Rashid Church" because the Rached/Rashid Family has helped maintain it throughout the war years and beyond.  It is quite beautiful and is a symbol of our family's connection to our heritage.  This painting will be donated to our 88th annual family reunion for their

"802. Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church, a.k.a. The Rached Church"
acrylic - 20x16 in

Thursday, June 2, 2016

801 View From Cottage Row

I am taking a class from a favorite artist, Milwaukee's own Shelby Keefe, who is a very thoughtful and delightful instructor.  Her technique is so different from what I know that I had a very slow start after her demo (which I loved).  The original photo reference had a beautiful sailboat, which wasn't so beautiful after I painted it, so I eliminated it.  I'm sure I will want to make some adjustments after fresh eyes have examined it.

We'll see what tomorrow brings.
"801 View From Cottage Row"
acrylic - 11x14 in