Archive for March, 2009

Another Painting Workshop

March 29, 2009

Friday ended a week long painting workshop here with artist, teacher Bruce Williamson, a painter from Texas who repeated his visit last year with another one this past week.

Bruce treats every subject as a recipient of light, whether it’s a landscape, a still life or a portrait.


Bruce doing a portrait demo outside.

Some of his starting concepts:

Have a goal – what do you want the painting to be about

Shape- placement of lights, shadows, shapes

Values or tones ( urghhhh, values….)



In that order, using that outline, a painting ought to be successful even if you paint waves in pinks or a face in blues.

onbeachblogA fellow workshop painter

I bow the very deepest bow I can take without falling on my head to every plein air painter. The town dogcatcher has an easier time retrieving feral beasts with a lasso than I do, painting outside in the shifting sun.

To achieve an accurate painting and not just a sweet little drawing  requires constant checking, thinking, evaluating, measuring and that seems to thwart the process of even getting the brush to the canvas. It helped me to think of this as strictly an exercise of embarrassed learning and forego the idea that these would be finished pieces.



Just the initial block in of the above scene ( minus the horizontal volleyball net ) which I’m going to work towards completion.

I took a palette knife and scraped off the first few attempts until I got a few bones I thought I could work with.

Better to have painted and scraped than never to have painted at all- words to live by as invoked by the fellow below:


I’ll be away for a week and eager to get back to the easel so I don’t lose the lessons.

There were three lovely awards sent my way this week which I’m so pleased to have received. Thank you Theresa, Nava and Marian!


March 24, 2009

…………whoever tires of it?……


I’m not posting a painting today, just catching up looking at everyone elses’. I’m taking another plein air workshop this week and today was the first day. We’ll be going to a different location on the island every day this week.

What looks good will get posted, what doesn’t, gets scraped and sent to the corner.

It’s been a year since my last workshop so along with sunscreen, I’ll bring a can of WD40 for my rusty landscape joints.

But not to deprive anyone of an artistic submission,


A last minute invite to a birthday party. Cookies, the food group that stands alone, were the right idea but I didn’t have tray big enough to transport 60 of them across bumpy roads. And one that I could leave there.

Finally a use for that heavy corrugated cardboard lurking in the closet since before forever. A few coats of acrylic paint on both sides and then the scavenging began outside. Dried palm fronds- cut off the leaves, hot melt glue gun ( love that thing ), and there are the two lengths. Dried banana leaves shore up the shorter sides.  One giant monstera leaf for drama and a tray is born.

If you were going to toss your cookies, wouldn’t you want to toss them HERE?


Fill up on these, as the next posting might be a while. I’ll also be away for a week after the workshop.

A New Painting using a Limited Palette

March 16, 2009


Solo 8X10 oil on linen panel

Limited palette consisting of : Yellow Ochre, Cad Red Lt., Phtalo Blue, Titanium White and Mars Black ( didn’t have Ivory Black but living on an island, you learn to substitute ). Minimizing colors is good practice to force yourself to see in a simple way, warm/cool, light/dark. I’m not fond of using black and perhaps Ivory would have been softer than Mars. This was a slight variation of the Zorn Palette which you can read more about on another blog I found here and see what Anders Zorn produced with a minimal use of color here at their website.

What was also limited was the amount of time I gave myself to finish this piece. I toned the canvas first in a drippy wash and went right to work with placing darks and mass- no drawing. Drawing with charcoal first is something I’m used to doing to get the figure in proportion. It also encourages the undesired characteristic of painting by ” filling in the lines ” rather than seeing shapes in relation to each other.

I’m taking another workshop next week, here on St. Croix, and wanted to loosen up before the class begins. I’m pleased with what looks like essence and gesture. Not including the wonky bend in the neck of the guitar. I promised myself that I wasn’t ” going in ” to re-do or do-over or fix it a little. This is it.

I also promised I would wash the cat by hand next time……


Capable Hands- A New Painting

March 3, 2009


12X16 oil on linen stretch canvas

Third times’ the charm. Or it’s the final number of times I can paint the same thing after doing studies of them. I did two versions of this one before I got to this larger format.

The most elusive element for me on this one was finding the right balance of values, given the high contrast of dark skin tones against the  bleached out light of her dress and the sky/water behind.

Chasing values is like corralling mercury sometimes. If you’re wrong to start, you can’t get darker/lighter without losing the truthfulness of the subject. Instead of going for light lights, I balanced the dark skin tones with brighter colors in the clothing.

( with deference to wordpress, the clarity of color here is quite filmy looking compared to the painting- even after compensating in photoshop )

Some more capable hands- belonging to a few of the farmers’ on St.Croix.




Hand of bananas

We now have a viable Farmers Cooperative – V.I.F.C. comprised of many dedicated growers on the island.

St. Croix had been known as the breadbasket of the Caribbean but agriculture took a dive in popularity and was associated with sugar, cotton and indentured workers.

Much of that perception is changing back again as the desire to be more self sustaining as an island community creates the market for local, fresh and affordable produce. Ninety percent of what we eat here, is shipped in by boat, old and void of nutritional content having lost it in styrofoam and plastic wrap somewhere between the port in Miami and the Puerto Rico trench.

It’s heartening to see the increasing numbers of shoppers returning to the market every Saturday, so appreciative of real vegetables. I’m happy to volunteer every weekend and be one of the conduits of a real cucumber to a really happy diner.

My other car is a shiny blue Bush Hog.


I don’t think these hands are really capable of rolling one of these monsters across a field.