Saturday, December 21, 2013

Hannah's First Haircut

This painting was a gift to my boss for Christmas. His wife took it as their little girl was getting her very first haircut at age three. Right away he showed it to me and asked didn't I think this was a great photo and wouldn't it make a great painting? He was right. Something about the composition and the angle it was taken at seemed to make the child almost iconic. Her wispy blond hair and brave little face were a great subject. I cropped the photo and made Hannah the center of attention literally and figuratively.

I used an ultramarine blue wash under the paint and the Andres Zorn palette of red, black, yellow ochre and white.

8" x 8" oil on canvas
Hannah's First Haircut

Friday, December 20, 2013

Two Small Still Life Paintings

Just a couple small still life paintings done from life. The first explores the relationship between yellow and violet. The second is a more colorful painting that looks at analogous reds and violets on the warm end of the color wheel.
8x10 oil on canvas

6x6 oil on gessoed masonite

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Lake House, 11" x 14" oil on canvas

Vacation homes always hold good memories so they are good subjects to paint. This is a modern lakefront cottage and the client specifically asked for a sliver of lake to show in front- even though it would not show in reality because the house is too far away in the photo provided. She also asked if I could paint the house olive green because her parents were in the process of doing just that. I added some flowers pots with brilliant blooms at the base of the stairs too. Good painting is all about pushing the boundaries of reality I guess.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The "Big House" at The University of Michigan

I finished this piece over the weekend and just in time. They will give the pair of paintings to their boss on Thursday and they need to get them framed yet. I am pretty sure I would NOT like to be an illustrator, working under these tight deadlines. I would much rather leisurely paint the things I want to paint.

16 x 20 oil on canvas

The Big House - University of Michigan Stadium

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Painting A Memory

These two paintings were a joint effort between the client and myself. She had a little money and a cool idea and I have an imagination and a hand that has painted many similar scenes from life. :) Her idea was to present each of her parents with a painting representing their childhood home. They are going to be so surprised when they open these on Christmas! I have asked for a picture of them with the paintings and I never do that. But that's how much effort we both put into making their gifts perfect.

Her mom grew up on a farm and the client had a few pictures of a milk shed on the property and a detailed description of what it looked like in the 1960's, when her mother lived there: the flowers, her yellow tabby, the woods and the cow paddy in back etc.  Today there is a huge building behind the milk shed, but in this painting the building is gone.

These are small paintings at 8" x 10", but I managed to fit everything in using my no. 1 and 2 flat bristle brushes.

Her dad also lived in a rural area and enjoyed fishing in their pond with his dad. I had three pictures of a pond and a detailed description of what her dad and grandpa would have looked like in the 1960's. This one was a bit more difficult to get right because the figures are so tiny, yet needed to represent the "character" of the people they were supposed to be. The client knew grandpa had a paunch, wore suspenders and always wore a red and white hat. These were fun pieces to do, allowing a bit of creativity and helping someone give a gift that they will treasure forever. That's another reason I love doing the pet portraits. They will be well loved.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Riva, A German Shepherd Dog, oil painting

My final painting in the 2013 Canine Parade of Christmas Pet Portraits: Riva!!

Riva will be a Christmas gift for Kira's parents. Their German Shepherd passed away this year and they miss her greatly so hopefully this painting will provide some comfort and a nice remembrance of her. When your children are grown and out of the home your pets can become almost like children. I know mine are very close to my heart.

The reference photo had some problems. You know how the animals look in the road at night right before you slam on your brakes to avoid hitting them? They have this unholy gleam in their eyes. Well, Riva's picture had that too and this was the best reference I was offered. Once again, Google to the rescue! I found a dog at L.A. German Shepherd Rescue that looked almost identical to Riva and I used her as the reference for the eys and a few other details that simply were not clear in the low res blurry photo I was given.

People- I can't stress enough how important a good reference is if you want a good painting. I could never produce a head and shoulders painting of Riva from the photo provided but I was able to make a pretty good painting of her guarding the door to her home. This was her parent's favorite picture so I really tried to work that door into it. And the red does look wonderful against the black fur and accented by her red collar.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


Someone asked me to bid on a couple paintings of downtown cities. They didn't want detail, just something suggestive of the city. It's for a gift for their boss, who is expanding the company's market to Ann Arbor. I had never done anything like that before but I am willing to try anything.

Needless to say, this took a lot longer than I imagined it would and I was doing it at the same time I was painting a lot of other commissions.

One thing I learned: You can't just suggest buildings very well if they are close the viewing angle. Ipainted the Toledo version first because there is a lot more detail in it and I wanted to get it out of the way. I was happy with it in the end but after painting so many angles and perspectives that change and curve, I am not looking forward to the Ann Arbor scene.I started it last night and I'm showing the underpainting here so you can get an idea of how little I think about where things are until I actually begin to paint them. It's a matter of putting something in and then correcting it until it is right. I would never be a watercolorist.

Yes, these are a rush- they are a Christmas gift and need to be dry by next Wednesday.

16x20 oil on canvas 
Downtown Toledo

The Beginning of MSU Stadium 16x20

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Pretty Pair of Westies

Another pet portrait! These two belong to an Atlanta couple and their son commissioned a painting from a really bad photo. Once again, Google comes to the rescue. It seems like all hair on Westies looks about the same, so if you can find a good reference image and just use the photo for the basics, like size and shape of eyes you can get a pretty good painting. Well, that's what I tell myself every time I accept one of these less than perfect pictures. I will share the picture just in case you doubt me. :)

They really are darling I want some of these too.

12" x 16" oil on canvas

Monday, December 09, 2013

Black Lab painting, stopped in the water

I am producing plenty of pet portraits this Holiday Season! (No cats this year- only dogs.) Four down and three to go-- by Dec. 17. This is Joey, a champion UKC Lab who has won lots of ribbons for retrieving stuff in the water. Here he is stopped in the water waiting for a hand signal. Joey's owner will receive this as a gift from his daughter, and I think he will be happily surprised.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Baltimore Fan

I have done quite a few of these hat and glove paintings, most of them for people who make a request. The very first one was a painting of my husband's short stop glove, Cardinals hat and baseball. He loved that painting and told me I should do some more. I did a Cleveland painting and I still have that one but I've sold a lot of prints of it. Someone contacted me about doing a Yankees version, which I did and I've done the Cubs, the Tigers and a Bluffton after the bus crash.

My friend's husband loves Baltimore so she mailed me her husband's hat and glove after confirming I could get it done by Christmas. I am so glad it's a new glove. Usually I paint my husband's glove and it gets boring after awhile. This is a catcher's mitt and I loved painting the weathered leather. I am not a baseball fan but perhaps I will eventually memorize all these logos if I keep painting the hats. Baltimore has a cute little Oriole on it. Reminds me of the Mudhens version I painted a few years ago. No one bought that either so I donated it to a charity auction. I hope someone bid on it.

11" x 14" Baltimore Fan