Tag Archives: oil portraits

American Women Artists

#AWA25 Show at the Bonner David Gallery in Scottsdale, 2015.

#AWA25 Show at the Bonner David Gallery in Scottsdale, 2015.

This has been an amazing year for me and American Women Artists has played a significant role in that for me.  This photo was taken by my sweet daughter, Katie, who flew in to help me celebrate having a painting in the AWA National Juried Show in Scottsdale.  I was thrilled that my painting garnered an “Award of Merit” from the judge, the curator of the Scottsdale Museum of the West.  Adding to the excitement our paintings were shown at the Bonner David Gallery!  Very happy to be in the same gallery with Michael Carson and Max Hammond, among others, even if it’s only for a short time!!

This was also the American Women Artists’ 25th year so there were lots of events concurrent with the show.  Workshops and a symposium addressing all those myriad of marketing issues we face as artists.  I am so impressed with this organization.  American Women Artists is a non-profit organization dedicated to the inspiration, celebration, and encouragement of women in the visual fine arts. I had no idea it existed until an artist friend, Lesley Powell, encouraged me to join.  I encourage all my female artist friends to join.  To quote their website:

“Since its inception, American Women Artists has worked diligently to bring women to the attention of the art world through museum shows, juried competitions in leading galleries around the country, festivals, symposiums, workshops and an international exchange.  Our goal is to increase the number of professional opportunities for women in the visual fine arts by creating the kind of opportunities that lead to greater inclusion.”

I was so impressed that Bonner David Gallery deliberately focuses on including women artists as part of their gallery.  It’s a beautiful gallery, with a warm personable staff — and incredible artwork!

And to add to the fun, AWA had one day workshops all week prior to the show at the Scottsdale Artists School.  I had a wonderful day with Jane Barton, who taught a plein air workshop.  Loved her approach and the opportunity to learn some more craft while I was there.  The colors there are amazing — red rocks, incredible sky.  Can’t wait to go back and paint!

All and all I feel honored and humbled to have been included.  Thank you American Women Artists for providing such a wonderful opportunity for us.  Looking forward to participating in the future!!

Happy Painting!  All the best!! R






The Little Voices in My Head

oil portrait young black woman“Lucci” 12×16, Oil on Linen

I am thrilled that this painting was such a successful entry in a recent show.  I entered it in the Matthews Art Guild’s Fall Show, which is part of the Matthews Alive Festival.  Happily it garnered an honorable mention from the judge, “Colton’s Choice” from the town manager of Matthews and “People’s Choice” from the viewers who saw the show.  Of course I love the accolades — but it also brings up some other things that I’ve been ruminating on lately. Hence the title of this blog post “The Little Voices in My Head”.

This whole business of art is just that — a business.  Yes I love it and would do it no matter what, but hopefully it will provide financial support as well.  And in the pursuit of making that happen we have to, like any other business person, try to get the word out about our product.  That product just happens to be the result of sweat, tears, elation, frustration and a piece of our souls.  We are told repeatedly by all the “experts” in marketing to: put it on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, your website, email, newsletters, etc. etc.  Basically put it out in as many ways as you can.  But it’s weird and strange to do that with a “piece of your soul”.

Everyone is so kind and gracious — and of course I love the compliments.  In a way too much!  It sometimes feels like my self-esteem is tied into it.  You get that “high” from hearing those words.  Which lasts for a short while then you’re looking for your next “fix”.  It’s a weird thing.  Puts a lot of your evaluation of yourself in the hands of your followers — which can be really self defeating.  And then there’s the concern that people will think you’re “bragging”.  I’m embarrassed by all the attention, and yet it’s a piece of the puzzle in moving my career to a bigger level.

Just read an article in Charlotte Magazine called “The Last Tweet” by Matt Crossman.  He deliberately took a break from all the social media for a month.  He is a journalist so he also uses social media to promote his work. To quote him: “…social media has turned every story into a contest entry.   I ‘win’ if my story generates Tweets or retweets or likes or shares or comments on Facebook. I ‘lose’ when social media ignores my story.”

“People with Twitter and Facebook accounts have become the authoritative arbiters of what’s good, and I spend way too much time hoping they will express their pleasure because, I think, that praise will make me happy.  Which it does.  Only it never lasts.  Because it’s never enough.”

Matt’s story rang so true to me.  Been there done that!  Keeping in touch with my own sense of who I am and my self -worth independent of anyone else’s evaluation is a constant struggle! Of course I think this is true no matter what — whether you’re an artist, journalist …whatever!!!  To simply look for your own guidance and what fulfills you is not always an easy path.  Don’t get me wrong — I love my people.  And I love hearing their kind words!  But, it is a catch 22 on an emotional level.

This has a been an amazing year for me.  I deliberately set out to enter as many shows and contests as I could.  And I’ve had great success — which is very affirming as an artist.  And a great resume builder.  Also a bit daunting — what’s next?  Can I continue this level of reward?  And getting the acclaim is one thing — what about the financial payoff.

On and on go the little voices in my head…


Richeson75 Portrait/Figure Show 2015

Harmonica Mark

Harmonica Mark

Excited that this piece is a finalist in the Richeson75 Portrait/Figure Show 2015.  It also recently received an honorable mention in a local show for the Guild of Charlotte Artists.  I’m thrilled of course.  Most of the RIcheson75 shows are online only, but in this case they ask that you ship your painting to their gallery in Wisconsin for a final judging.  So cross your fingers!  I’ll ship it the beginning of October.

Many of you have asked why I named this piece “Harmonica Mark” — since he’s playing a drum.  Mark plays music with my husband and a group wonderful musicians, who jam at our house on a regular basis.  He plays harmonica, but also some percussion.  When he posed for this painting it just felt right to include this drum.

I’m in process of producing a whole series of musicians pieces.  I’ve done color studies of several and taken photos, but commissions have slowed me down getting back to the larger paintings.  Hope to begin them again soon.

All the best to you and yours!  And to those who it applies “Happy Painting!!”


Beyond Realism

Flowers Aren't Enough Oil 16x20

Flowers Aren’t Enough Oil 16×20

I love to paint people and portraits, but recently I’m trying to push it a bit beyond realism.  I love paintings that have undefined boundaries like the work of Terry Muira, Mia Bergeron and Carolyn Anderson.  There are many others who’s work I admire —but I love the “atmosphere” that’s created.  A likeness for a portrait is essential, but some of the most wonderful people paintings have little to do with that.

So I’m experimenting.  I was pleased with this painting before — when it was a bit crisper, but felt compelled to try to take it somewhere else.  So I started “mushing” and scratching at it.  The image underneath the most recent layers held true so only the last layer could be moved around.  But I like it.  I think it adds to her pensive, sullen mood —hence the name “Flowers Aren’t Enough”.  Our model had good reason to be sad, having recently lost her brother.  She’s one of my favorite models for that very reason.  She doesn’t hide what’s going on with her and as a result we get so much more as painters.

The other way I’m trying to push myself is with a palette knife.  I do quite a bit of my plein air with the knife and more recently pushed into portraits.  It’s a mixed bag. Very frustrating when you do want a likeness. Not sure how that will all pan out. It’s all an attempt to push my paintings beyond realism and hopefully in a direction that is impactful.

All the best!  Happy Painting!


American Women Artists 2015 National Juried Show

Kalvin, Portrait of a Young Man

Kalvin, Portrait of a Young Man

Recently I got an email announcing that my painting “Kalvin, Portrait of a Young Man” had been juried into the American Women Artists 2015 National Juried Show.  Needless to say I was excited, humbled, overwhelmed and even a bit weepy.  Being an artist is such an emotional roller coaster.  Constantly painting and working… trying to improve. Trying to create something that feels right, conveys some emotion, is visually compelling in some way.  It’s a huge challenge, one that I don’t think you ever “reach”, but so compelling for me that I can’t stop.  And then on top of that, if you want to make a living at it, you have to put it out there for the world to see and hope and pray that some like it — hopefully love it.

So I’m thrilled that this painting will be part of the AWA25 show at the Bonner David Gallery in Scottsdale, AZ, November 12-30, 2015. There were close to 1000 entries from 400 artists and 60 paintings were chosen to be in this show.  There will be a week of festivities since this is also the American Women Artists Organization’s 25th year.  American Women Artists is a non-profit organization dedicated to the inspiration, celebration, and encouragement of women in the visual fine arts. I so appreciate their mission and am grateful to get to be a part of their celebration!


Always Something to Learn!

web_Dawn's-workshopAlways something to learn!  That’s what I tell my husband when he wonders why I keep going to workshops.  If I walk away with one thing that inspires me, points me in a new direction, solves a problem I’ve been wrestling with, it’s so worth the time and money.  You see I’m old.  I didn’t keep at this painting thing after college.  I studied painting in school but I had that idea that I could never make a living at it so I tried everything else.  Everything else always seemed to be somehow related to art though.  Stained glass —there may still be some restaurants in Kankakee, Illinois with some of my windows.  Handpainted and silkscreened clothing — children’s line and an adult beachwear line.  Graphic design — did titles for Marty Stouffer’s wildlife series.  Faux finishing and murals—painted lots of houses here in the Charlotte area.  I’ve finally come back to strictly art for art’s sake.  I love to paint!  I am passionate about it — plein air, people, dogs….

This portrait was done in Dawn Whitelaw’s portrait workshop.  I’ve always admired Dawn’s work.  It has a loose freshness that I really enjoy.  And I was pleasantly surprised at what an incredible teacher she is.  She obviously takes it very seriously and puts lots of time and energy into preparing her workshops.  One of the things she stressed was to really look at your subject and decide what to focus on.  What’s compelling about that face?  She also asked that we really address our whole canvas as we go.  How to handle the background, etc.  It’s so easy to just focus on the portrait and fill in the background later — but they all relate.  We studied lots of successful portraits to see what worked and didn’t.

I’m pleased with the results of this painting of Don.  He was an incredible model.  Typically the model sits for 20 minutes, takes a break, sits again, etc.  Don was happy to keep sitting despite our efforts for him to take a break.  He has such a strong face with so much character — I think that makes it easier.  This is one of the few paintings that I have not touched since that session— frequently I will rework them once I get them back to the studio.

This painting thing is a never-ending source of joy and frustration!  I’m happy to say I’m completely addicted.  Always challenging and always something to learn!   Happy painting!



Painting from a Computer Monitor

Monitor-setupI just recently started painting from a computer monitor when working from a photo reference.  I love to paint from life, but sometimes that’s not a option; or, I’ve started a painting from life and I want to work on it some more to complete it.  That was the case here.  I have gotten frustrated with trying to work from photo prints.  First of all the ink is really expensive. And typically I have to do many prints to arrive at one that I’m happy with — right color, contrast, size, etc.






Here are the advantages to painting from a computer monitor as I see them:

  • Closer to real life than print
  • I can resize the photo at will at any time.  Choose a part of the photo and blow it up if need be.
  • Adjust color right then and there
  • No ink costs


  • Initial outlay of cash for monitor and the rest of the setup
  • When measuring I’ve managed to get some paint on the monitor! LOL! Cleans off with Alcohol usually.  I may put some clear acetate over it to protect it.

It took some research to find the articulated arm to mount the monitor on.  The next challenge was finding a way to mount the whole thing and make it flexible enough to take down if necessary.  My husband came up with the brilliant idea to get a wooden ladder.  It’s stable enough to handle the weight and it’s easy to take apart if need be.

The only other consideration I might mention is that I went with a cheap monitor to start out.  To make sure this whole concept was going to work.  It doesn’t have the greatest resolution particularly for color — especially compared to my Macbook’s resolution.  So eventually I’ll probably upgrade to a better monitor.  In the meantime I’ve found if I use my photo editing program I can boost the colors so that they look better on the big monitor.

Here’s the result from the painting you see in the photos.


I would say that my painting from a computer monitor experiment has been a success.  Now I’ll be keeping my eye out for a monitor with better resolution.  Happy painting!!  All the best!!



Palette Knife Painting

Palette knife painting has become my new obsession.  In my desire to loosen up my style, it seempalette knife portraits a natural choice.  You can only get so detailed with the knife.  It’s frustrating at times — when I’m trying to get some little area done and I desperately want to pick up the brush.  I’ve done a fair amount of knifing during plein air, but recently I decided to try it with portraits. This is from a photo of my beautiful daughter Katie.  It’s interesting.  Not my best painting but interesting enough that now I’ve started a large portrait/figure piece using that technique.  Part of it my desire to “make a painting” not just a picture of someone.  We’ll see how it all pans out.  I definitely haven’t forsaken the brush, but intrigued.


Painting from Life 2

Once a week at least I try to paint from life.  There is nothing quite like it for seeing all the colors that are really inoil portrait young black woman skin or anything else for that matter.  Often I end up refining the painting later from the photo.  If I do it soon enough I can usually remember the colors and values.  I get so caught up in the painting at the time that sometimes I don’t see some of the proportion problems.  Hopefully I catch those when I review it later in the studio.

This beautiful young woman was a wonderful model.  I don’t get to paint African Americans as often as I’d like.  Their skin presents a whole new set of values and colors.  I got to use oranges and ed oxides in a way that I would not normally.  But I would never see some of these were I not painting from life.