Capable Hands- A New Painting


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.

30 Responses to “Capable Hands- A New Painting”

  1. ted Says:

    The light you’ve captured is beautiful!

  2. Carol King Says:

    She’s a real beauty Bonnie. The 3rd time is most certainly the charm, though I’m guessing that numbers 1 & 2 are pretty good too.

  3. w1kkp Says:

    Oh, my my. This is a 3rd time beauty. Truly. I’m equally taken with her AND her large pot. Given the size of the pot, it had to be worthy of the space. It was.

    Having focused properly on the painting, imagine my hilarious surprise at you in your blue Bush hog!! C’mon, I was drinking while reading. Not now. Liquid everywhere. You look like Helen Mirren after a few cocktails. O, you, you.

  4. judylobo Says:

    ‘Yes, we have no bananas’, would be an inappropriate, but funny comment. I love, love, love the photo of you on the Blue tractor type thingy. The painting is terrific – as are you.

  5. Bonnie Luria Says:

    Carol- Numbers one and two are like the less attractive siblings of a set of triplets. They remain in the closet. ( with airholes to breathe )

    Pat- Helen Mirren after a few cocktails!! That last cocktail exited my nose and we are now even. So funny, you, you.

    Judy- ahhh, clearly the NY contingent, referring to that machine as a “tractor thingy”.
    We love the word ” thingy “.

  6. JoAnn Sanborn Says:

    Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful! She has beautiful softenss and grace with the bucket and perfect balance of values. It’s a charming painting. Love to see the others. I had a brush hog once and it takes down almost anything that’s giving you trouble. Go for it! Your posts are a delight and there’s always a bonus surprise! Thanks, Bonnie

  7. Marian Fortunati Says:

    I love the greyed out blues and pinks and yellows in her blouse and how they are woven together in that sleeve!! WOW!!

    Also such fun to see you sitting on that big colorful farm machine!!!

  8. Donald Diddams Says:

    A graceful lady. I love the shape created by her arms and long slim fingers. Just perfect!
    Now, careful with that bush hog, or you’ll cut down the cherry tree.

  9. nathaliewithanh Says:

    Lovely, lovely, lovely! The colors are fantastic, and the pot is phenomenal. Isn’t it crazy that I like the pot so much?! It’s just the way you rendered the metal with the shadows seems so realistic in a non-realistic way.
    I like how she looks at you. Just great work. One of my favorites!

  10. Bonnie Luria Says:

    JoAnn- thank you for the meaningful sentiment expressed in your comment. Every piece we do, shows something more to learn and that bucket became familiar to me after 3 times.
    Always glad to hear from you.

    Marian- I really tried to get the bleached out look of fabric here that’s been too long in the sun or the salt water.
    The greys seemed a good way to tone it down and let that bucket shine.

    Don- if I cut down that cherry tree, I swear, I’d fess up. I know who the father of our country was.
    I liked that negative shape too- it’s what enabled me to focus on the composition.

    Nathalie- no, really not crazy unless we ALL are. To me, that bucket screams ” galvanized steel “. I did a lot of squinting when I painted it this last time- it helps show the brush where to put the lights, mediums and darks.
    I’m so glad she appeals to you. Thank you, really.

  11. Jala Pfaff Says:

    Fabulous painting, and the values are perfect. The blue of the dress around her waist is awesome.

    A lot of my photos come out a little washed out once they go up on the blog. If anyone ever figures out the problem, let me know! (even compensating in Photoshop, as you do too)

    Sounds great about growing food!

  12. Dar Says:

    I hardly know what to say, it is just so beautiful. It was only after staring for 10 minutes, that I began to search it as a painter, and notice the reflected light on her face, the brush strokes that shape her neck, the glow created on the pot by judicious placement of values. But that first reaction, the one beyond words or analysis, that’s the one I want to share but can’t. It’s something like…radiant, grace, dance, glorious, shape, humanity, balance, peace, provide, determination. I am engaged visually and emotionally. Yay!!

  13. Joanne Says:

    “Capable Hands” is lovely! She glows with soft color and beauty! There is a freshness about the painting.. really very beautiful.

  14. wrjones Says:

    Beautiful painting – Great contradictory sense of movement and stillness at the same time. Lovely color.

    Also you look so good on that big blue machine. I expect you would look very hot on a riding lawn mower. I don’t really see you on a skate board but I could be wrong.

  15. Nava Says:

    Definitely a charm. This is wonderful, Bonnie!

    You’ve got a such great sense of movement in it. I fell as if I’m looking at her on a very hot day when the sun’s in your eyes.

    The touches of blue on the sides of her face is a brilliant move – they echo so beautifully the blues in her dress and connect her to the background.

  16. Bill Guffey Says:

    Beautiful painting, Bonnie. Very accomplished. One of my favorites of yours for sure.

  17. planetross Says:

    Nice ride! Cool bananas! Excellent painting!

  18. Bonnie Luria Says:

    Jala-I really appreciate your response to this painting since I admire your portraits and how you paint skin planes and tones.

    Photoshop has a ” sharpen ” feature – I found it late but will use it in the future. I seem to remember that you find it under the filter heading in the toolbar ( at least in my version ).Other bloggers bemoan the same loss in electronic translation.

    Dar- now, Dar, for someone only painting a year, and painting so well, you offer sentiments of someone who’s painted for a lifetime. I’m really touched by your generous comments. Now I hardly know what to say.
    Thank you so much.

    Joanne- thanks for visiting and leaving such a lovely comment. Hope you’ll come back. This way, if I expect company, I”ll HAVE to paint more!

    Bill- I really appreciate the ” contradictory sense of movement and stillness at the same time “. Her expression was serene and that galvanized bucket has heft.

    I gave up skateboarding when I learned that the best doctor to see here for accidents is the vet…..

    Nava- you read her right. And it did take 3 times to get it that way. Of course, I want to sit at an easel, take out a canvas, pick up two brushes, walk away after 4 hours with a masterpiece. And do it every time.
    OK so I’m nuts.
    But still, that’s what I’d like.
    But sometimes it takes 3 or more.

    Bill Guffey- that means a lot to me. Sometimes it’s the ones that give you trouble that teach you the most.
    I really like the new series you’re doing of painting every state. And your use of the palette knife.

    PR- 1-Thanks ( just a prop for a photo op )
    2- Bananas are splendid in their entirety stalk and all
    3- Thank you, Arigato.

  19. Paulette Says:

    I have no doubt that your hands are quite capable, but …..the vet!….do be careful!
    Beautiful work! Washing out your dress colours and bringing them up to meet the lovely colour of her skin, wonderful.
    I had great fun going back and forth seeing the different things that each commenter pointed out.

  20. Bonnie Luria Says:

    Hi Paulette- I noticed the same principle in photos as in painting: if the whites are too bright, as in full sun, the contrast to the darks is unnaturally severe.
    So I compensated for that bright sun washout.

    You’re right- some of the comments are quite good/funny/dead on/and usually very entertaining! Quite a community we all share, don’t you think?

  21. Sue Says:

    Wow. So when will you start selling from your blog?

  22. razzbuffnik Says:

    I like the pose, colours and the lighting. One thing though, the hand on the tub looks a little too big…… or is it perspective?

  23. Paz Says:

    I love your new painting. Love everything about it, from the subject to the colors, to the brush strokes. Lovely!

    You know, I still don’t know how to drive, so I’m impressed with you in the last photo.


  24. Anthony Says:

    I’ve missed your blogs…Great catching up, love the school girl photo of you at the gallery and the not so capable hands on the big blue tractor…Very shiny!

  25. kullaf Says:

    your painting is lovely, very expressive, nice work

  26. Bonnie Luria Says:

    Sue- I hadn’t considered it but why shouldn’t I consider it!
    I’m open for inquiries.

    Razz- I do like your comments for their honesty and perception. You’re right in that her hand is larger than would seem proportionate and I was really emphasizing the heaviness of the weight being carried by making the hands more substantial and massive.

    Paz- thanks so much. It took a while to get her but it’s always worth the wait.
    Now that tractor on a 60 acre field is a lot less terrifying than being a cab driver going up Park Avenue at 5:05!

    Anthony- hard to resist a brand new, shiny blue tractor with 2 miles on the odometer.
    Nevermind a mechanical bull- this thing is powerful.

    Kullaf- thanks for visiting and leaving such a kind comment.

  27. Theresa Rankin Says:

    What a wonderful painting….But then all your work is…You are a delight to read. That big blue tractor!!! Wow! And congrats on selling those three paintings…fantastic and well deserved!

  28. Bonnie Luria Says:

    Theresa, oooh thanks for the good words. I know how busy you’ve been the past month ( I’ve been checking …) and really appreciate your taking the time to visit here and leave another lovely comment.

  29. Joanne Says:

    Great painting! I like the way you handled the values.

  30. Jon Says:

    Wishing you a very happy and prosperous new year !

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