Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Big vs. Small

I have always been attracted to big paintings. While perusing the masterpieces at the Louvre, I gravitated towards the huge, dramatic pieces - I spent a lot of time gazing at 'The Raft of the Medusa' with my son, and was not really impressed by the Mona Lisa (I know, that is blasphemy, but I do understand and agree with her significance in art history). Yet, when we travel, I like to buy the smaller  stuff - easier to pack? More affordable? I feel like I have a collection of small jewels hanging on my walls at home, reminding me of the great places we have visited.

When I am working in the studio, the bigger, the better! I love the feeling of painting from the shoulder, and the sheer physicality of moving pigment around on a large surface. I have a four foot by six foot work table that I can walk around as I work, and that makes it easier to create large pieces. The largest watercolor I have created is a piece entitled "Chalice"  on two pieces of cradled Aquabord measuring 48 by 72 inches. When I look at it, I feel like I am at the lake where the lotuses bloomed. 

I am, however, beginning to challenge myself to paint small pieces. They are finished faster and can be transported more easily both while traveling and to shows. I have less time and energy invested in a small piece; if it fails, I simply start another one. And, on the practical side, small works sell! 

What are your thoughts on large vs. small paintings? 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Being the Juror, For Once...

"Going with the Flow" Watermedia on Paper, 29" x 29"
This piece was juried into the Tri State Juried Watermedia Exhibit in 2013
I was recently asked to be on the jury of a regional exhibition hosted by the Council on Culture and Arts (COCA). I jumped at the chance, because I have always wanted to be on the other side of the jurying process. As chairperson of the TaWS Tri State Juried Watermedia Exhibition for many years, it intrigued me how the juror chose a show - what artwork 'spoke' to that juror and why select painting "a" rather than painting "b"? I always kept a list of my top picks and compared my choices to those of the juror. I usually matched 75-80% of the paintings picked by the juror. 

The COCA jurying task was really difficult! And, we had no time for review. The images came fast and furious, so any hesitation cut into the next image and the next decision. We rated over 160 works, and our answers were compiled and used to create the final list.  
I would love to jury a show sometime where I could take my time and review each piece on its own merits.  If you have ever juried an exhibit, what were your most favorite and least favorite aspects of the job? 



Thursday, July 19, 2012

Work in Progress: Pretty in Pink

I have been working on a new piece this week inspired by my daily walks on the verdant grounds of the Marriott Ocean Club on Maui. We traveled to Hawaii in May, returning for the first time since we moved back to Florida seven years ago, and it felt like we never left. One of my favorite tropical plants is the Ti plant, a showy specimen that grows in any temperate climate, but seems to be everywhere in Hawaii. The vividly colored leaves silhouetted against the clear blue sky always make me smile. I read an interesting article in the airline magazine about the many uses of this plant. It is used to make ropes, hats, shelter, and medicine. Hawaiians utilize the Ti plant in their spiritual practice as well.
"Pretty in Pink" (36" x 24" watercolor on Aquabord) - in progress, day 2
This new painting is on Aquabord, a clay coated surface made by Ampersand Art Supply in Austin, Texas. I started using Aquabord several years ago when I was introduced to it by Karen Vernon, a fantastic painter from Texas. I really got into it once we lived in Kauai, where a lack of air conditioning meant that my Arches paper never really dried due to the humidity. I love it because it acts like watercolor paper (most of the time) can take repeated washes and lifting of color, and be sealed and displayed without glazing. That is the very best part!

Monday, July 16, 2012

An Artistic Encounter in Paris

I emerged from the Rennes Metro stop and looked around, trying to orient myself to the bustling neighborhood of the 6th Arrondisement in Paris. I was on a quest to find the apartment of two American artists living in Paris whom I had met through their blog on the internet. Laurie and Blair Pessemier are living their dream as artists in the City of Light, and I wanted to see what their life and art were really like. I arranged to visit their home studio and perhaps take home a treasure or two.
The top floor apartment was very easy to find, and the Pessemiers were so warm and welcoming. The place is tiny, painted bright yellow, and filled with paintings – on the walls, on the floor, stacked against the fireplace.  I knew it would be difficult to choose only one. As we drank café au lait and chatted about their artistic life in Paris and beyond, I realized that it not easy to pick up and move to a new country. Dealing with a new language and different cultural expectations, not to mention the impossibly illogical French way of doing business would stress out anyone, especially when you have the added pressure of supporting yourselves with your artwork.  Laurie and Blair manage to pull it off with flair. I left feeling so inspired, and hope to paint with them the next time I am in Paris. Oh, and yes, I bought two small paintings. 

To read their blog and see their work, please visit

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

It's Hot in the Tropics

So, it’s hot in North Florida – just like most everywhere else, and all I can think about is tropical breezes, lush and verdant jungles and bright flowers. That is where the art is headed this week. I am working on two bird of paradise pieces, one of which focuses on a gorgeous dying leaf above the bird. The tentative title is ‘Seeing Red’ – not sure if it will stick.

I also have a commission to start. It will be the largest painting I’ve ever done (39 x 50 on cradled Aquabord – scary) and I can’t wait to start!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Jungle Blossom Completed (finally)

After several days in the cool mountain air in North Carolina, I finally finished one of those pesky banana blossoms. Hope you like it. I took this photo in the Allerton Botanical Gardens on Kauai, a magical place if there ever was one. Remember the huge rooted trees in Juriasic Park where the dinosaur eggs were? Those trees are in the Garden.

I am having trouble deciding on backgrounds, and want to try doing a botanical piece on a white ground - no details behind it. I saw a British artist named Sarah Graham's work and this is how she depicts her subjects. It is very clean and bold.

I have several other pieces to add to the blog...more in a bit.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Blue Iris

I wanted to paint a quick piece - so here is 'Bill's Blue'. I have an artist friend, Bill McKeown, who has a wonderful garden full of irises, which as my favorite non-tropical flower to paint. This was done quickly on 11 x 14 Aquabord with 2" birch supports - no need for a frame!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Reworking the Roses

I have been revisiting two works that I abandoned a few months ago to see if they could be rescued, and I think I have accomplished that. The first one, 'Dancer's Hands', reminds me of the graceful hand gestures made by ballarinas. I break a basic rule with this one: don't put your subject in the center! What the heck, it is my painting and I think it works ;) The background probably needs one more glazing of a dark neutral, and it will be complete.....

The second piece, Golden Afternoon', bugged me because the two roses were competing for attention. I glazed back the upper one and added white highlights to the main rose by gently scrubbing off paint and adding a bit of white goache where necessary. I love the background on this one!

The banana blossoms will rise back to the top of my work list.....sometimes I have to leave paintings to their own devices for a few days and go back to them with a fresh eye.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Back to Work

After a wonderful mini vacation over the Fourth of July weekend, I am back in the studio. I am working on the banana blossoms - still in that tropical vibe. The larger one is on hold for a few days, while I stare at it and figure out what it needs. This smaller one (16 x 20) is coming together rapidly, and I should be done with it tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


I have made some progress, but I still have a loonnnngggg way to go! This is the stage in the painting process where I absolutely HATE what I am working on, and and want to throw it away and start over. But, I have to get over my frustrations and make it work!