Archive for the ‘drawing’ Category

St.Croix This Week – A Magazine Cover

October 7, 2009

So what if it’s published once every two months and calls itself St. Croix This Week.

Everyone knows time takes its time here.


A week can seem like two months when you’re trying to schedule a phone repair. Or tracking down the last ream of laser printer paper until the ship ” literally ” comes in. But I’ll not pick the nit of ceremony being stood on about it’s title.

It’s a great publication, generously heaped around the island at hotels, shops, offices, public places and our only airport. It’s free, glossy, informative and a favorite of tourists and residents.

Nice exposure, half a page on the inside for a personal blurb and photos of some of my current work. When the November issue comes out, it will have the same inside content but the cover will be the second one I did.

So follow along: this month you’re seeing the one I did for October, at the end of October the one I did for November will be out and at this rate, 2 months = 8 weeks=2 covers.

The theme for this cover was our Sunset Jazz Concerts one Friday of every month. I used gouache and pen and ink. Gouache has the best properties of water color and tempera. Thin or thick. Water-y or opaque. Was great fun and whimsy.

Any busier, and I’d be a…….


They’re busy too.


It’s called How to Conduct Successful Negotiations as a Domesticated House Pet.

I think the pup has more reading to do. The cat has long embraced ennui.

Work in Progress, But a Different Sort

August 16, 2009

I was invited to do the cover art for a Virgin Islands-centric publication that’s widely circulated in the territory. Two separate covers- one for October, one for November.

The editor had a general topic in mind  and left the execution to me. The subject incorporates our amazing stilt dancers called “ Mocko Jumbies ” known as our Guardians of Culture.

B&W jumbie

Pencil sketch for the angular poses and foreshortening I was looking for.

They loom 12 feet over the crowds on 5-6 foot stilts and parade down cobbled streets with agility the rest of us couldn’t know of in sneakers.

I’ll post the finished piece and the official cover after it goes to publication.

But I enjoyed the process of sketching out ideas, working out color placements, and experimenting with mediums and techniques that I haven’t used in years.

jumbie watercolor study

Watercolor sketch for color and perspective ideas…

B&W cover with headingWorking out some scale and composition ideas. Exaggeration is good for eye appeal.

jumbie gouache color

Gouache on canvas- a new combination of effects. Lots of experimenting on cotton canvas panels before going for the finished piece.

Now I’m starting on the second cover- different theme.

Aiming for productivity despite the cutest damn puppy ever:

belly up

AND, the looming threat of Tropical Storm Bill, churning up the Eastern Atlantic, moving towards, we hope, not us.

The Details are a Bit Sketchy: Life Drawings

July 9, 2009


Being away for a month without picking up a brush reminds me that my next cocktail should be Rust-o-leum on the rocks and not a Cosmo. How best to re-enter the atmosphere of painting than to sketch.

It’s been decades since I’ve had a life drawing class and was thrilled to find one here when I got back home.

Through a grant from the Virgin Islands Council on the Arts, a fellow local artist, Cindy, applied for and recieved a VICA grant to open her studio to anyone wanting to draw from live models at a ridiculously low fee for two hours.

She’s providing the space, the advertising to keep the word out, and live models in all stages of dress, period and regional costume and no stages of dress too.

Photos remove a critical dimension that flattens your perception. The flesh and muscle of a live model moves your pencil without trickery or shortcuts.

It’s hot, didn’t want to dally around details so I tried drawing from the feet up, to think of the model as a landscape of body parts and not a head on a neck on shoulders.

After 40 years of not doing life drawings, and feeling like a rust bucket, I wasn’t stretchbloghorrified.

It’s an exercise of stretching before doing a race.

And it makes you see what’s really there, not what you think you see is there.

And while mentioning buckets, how could I leave without some organic reminder of where I live.

This is another kind of bucket and although not of a rusty nature, it was a surprise from my husband who brought it home with the same pride your 4 year old would have shown in handing you roadkill.

5galsof It’s bat guano. The best darn fertilizer an urban transplant gal like myself could ever wish for after, perhaps a gift certificate to Bergdorfs’.

He really, really missed me.

Eat your hearts out ladies…………and you men, take notes.

It’s good to be home.

Now I’m going to open a tube of Ultramarine and see what a sniff of oils will do to get me motivated again.

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……


The Swearing in of, and not at, The Muse

January 21, 2009

Maybe it took the not so subtle shift of 180 million people leaning towards the  hopeful, optimistic, proud and unified. But the days’ and weeks events have put me back in step.


A seminal shift it was. As the oath was taken, the oaf was taken- away by helicopter.

Don’t look back, you’re not going there, as my favorite needlepoint pillow used to say.  Yesterday, there was a sense of a  fresh start, the feeling that we’re in very capable hands.  No matter how many times the blackboard got erased in 3rd grade, it never looked right until, at the end of the week, it was washed. New. Clean. Ready for the clear absorption of the next lessons.


Her capable hands are a work in progress. This might even become a study for the next one.

New Years this year, fell on January 20th.  Hello Muse.

I’ll be away from the studio and home for a week to spend time with my mother. I’m leaving a plate of cookies for the muse so she doesn’t run off. I think this time, she’s here for all of us.

Early Holiday Present is Making A Mark

December 21, 2008

Making A Mark– authored by Katherine Tyrrell. Her stamp appears on many blogrolls that I scour and is often accompanied by high words of praise for her dedication to her art and the business of marketing art. She’s thorough, extremely knowledgeable and ( so unfair ) very talented. Generous with her readers too. You should have her bookmarked if you don’t already.

I’m a little late in responding to  this wonderful recognition on her blog which she posted last week ( See HERE ).

I was nominated twice for her year end “Best of ” Contest. She called for art bloggers to send in nominations for ” The Best Female Portraitist “, and best all around Portfolio.

Sue Smith of Ancient Artist ( in my blogroll at right ) nominated this one of mine for Portfolio:

From this previous post.

August Sun


Look into Sue’s blog for great motivational musings on keeping all the facets of an artists’ life on good speaking terms with each other. She’s not ancient at all. She’s open eyed wise.

The second surprise for me was a nomination by Paulette ( also in my roll ) of Becoming a Renaissance Woman.

Paulette’s use of colored pencil is wonderful. It was a search for roosters on the web that brought her to my blog where she found:

CaptuREDFrom this previous post and the goose bump story that was its’ narrative.

Thanks Sue, Paulette and Katherine. Really, the mention was  present  enough. The ribbons and bells of the outcome are secondary. What carries heft here is the exposure to fellow artists, and the daily gifts of shared information, support and the variety of creative expression that makes this format  as vital as it is to all of us.

Maybe another post before the new year, maybe just time enough to eat too much cake.

Happy Holidays.

The Gatekeeper- New Painting

December 4, 2008

What good is 4 gigs of memory in a camera card, when you can’t persuade any of your devices to consider a detente and actually perform together?

The card didn’t like the reader, the reader didn’t like the computer. It’s now been reconciled so here are some of the images that were hostages in a 1 inch blue plastic card for two weeks.

The Gatekeeper- Oil on Linen Panel 9″X 12″


Knowing there was going to be lots of green in this ( the dreaded green..) I thought I’d neutralize it by toning the canvas with red- mostly a wash of alizarin and burnt sienna. Here’s part of the process in reverse.

gatekeeper-phase-2-blogI moved around on this one, didn’t concentrate too much on any one area and working it to death by hovering. A recent quote said ” A painting isn’t finished, it’s abandoned.” It takes effort to know when to walk away.

The sketch and photo preceded these and you can see them here.

The colors on the finished one were significantly sharper after Photoshop but some feature of downloading on to the blog seems to have left them looking a little chalky. At least to me.

More than paintings, I know it’s Larry you’re all coming back to see. So not to disappoint…..( Pat, avert your eyes! )

larry-and-banana-blogThat’s a banana slice with some skin still on it.

He waits every morning. Tomorrow, maybe french toast.

St. Croix-nicity’s One Year Anniversary

November 10, 2008

Almost to the day, one year ago, friends came to visit. They both had blogs- one a photographic blog, the other a politically focused one. I’d read theirs and enjoy them but never thought of authoring one myself.

I didn’t even like the WORD blog. I knew it was an acronym for web log but to my ear it sounded more like a blending of ” blah and gag “. Not an attractive imagery, wouldn’t you agree?

My laptop was seized over breakfast one morning and the birth of St. Croix-nicity began.

Apparently friends don’t let friends go without blogs.

Mary Schwalm, a great photographer, set up the banner photo at the header. Her blog is a quick study- just great images, little text and very sharp, hip titles for her photos.

Judy Wolfe– whose movie reviews, photos and art pages and political insights I’ve loved for years, manned the keyboard and I had the pleasure of just answering yes or no to questions of layout, structure, gizmos, widgets and links.

I’ve been visited by people in:

Islamic Republic of Iran


The Green Zone- Iraq

Viet Nam






Five thousand eight hundred sixty two visits and 33,972 page views.

Brilliant outreach for someone who dislikes flying.

Amidst those 5,000s’ have been some wonderful exchanges of information, encouragement, tips, and generous sharing among and between other artists. The feedback, the teeth gnashing frustrations of scraping yet another surface, the light-bulb of an a-ha moment, and the connection to people otherwise unknown to you is the joy of this blog and the exoneration of those two kitchen witches who started me on this journey a year ago.

Am I ever grateful.

Two days from today those same two harbingers of fall visits and blog hostage taking, are coming back. I’d hoped to finish another painting before they got here but got only as far as the drawing:

on-the-fence-drawing-canvas-blogTaken from a photo I took last weekend at one of our farmers’ markets.


Another Work in Progress, he’s got great shadows and lines but the painting will have to wait until these two conspirators leave.

This years visit will be the G7and G9 summit- Canon Camera owners all of us. They know how to use them, I’m just learning. I’m expecting 6 days of de-briefing in the kitchen but thankfully, no Katie Couric interview…….

Locally Grown- Finished Painting

October 28, 2008

” Locally Grown ” 11X14 oil on panel

Mr. Carter has now got a face and a proper identity. I took the advice of Frank Gardner, who can nail the essence of a subject with minimum fussiness, and did a loose rendering of the features. It was good advice. ” Squint “, he said. Little did he know that’s my usual state of vision anyway.

Working backwards now, and so you don’t have to scroll back to an older post, here’s what preceded this finished piece:

Got more detail and warm tones in the left side foreground and aimed to set what is behind him, into the background with bigger blocks of color, cooler tones.

The beginning:

Sometimes I like the whole painting and other times, I like parts. I like the knees down in this one. Hands down.

A lot of farmers took a big hit after Hurricane Omar- it’s going to be some time before regeneration and re-planting yields viable crops again. We almost bought our way out of another season, but almost wasn’t cause for celebration.

I’m going to show this painting and some others at The Good Hope School Art Show in February, a repeat of the one I did last year.

Locally Grown- New Painting in Progress

October 13, 2008

When I first moved here from NYC 7 years ago, I was in for an awakening in the produce department of our supermarket. Everything is shipped in from the states ( so you pay for food AND fuel ), and the produce is old by the time you get it.

I was introduced to Mr. Carter, above, a farmer, living here for the past 50 years and a strong believer in organic farming. Using a quarter acre of his land, my husband and I grew: lettuce, watermelon, peppers, squash, basil, chard, and fennel. And sold it at our local farmers’ market. We no longer grow, but still shop at the market to support the farmers who still do. We’re a fairly dry island and water is unpredictable.

It’s easier to paint a farmer than to be one.

I started the sketch on a toned canvas using vine charcoal- I love its’ softness. Then I washed in some tones to get composition.

Mr. Carter does have a face- I’m having some trouble getting it right so in the name of patience, I’ll get on it tomorrow after it dries a little more. The pants and the boots are NOT giving me trouble.

Works in progress remind me of the bride in curlers, no makeup, old clothes and sneakers. Then the stages of makeover, and layers, and magic, and good lighting and a loving congregation, and presto! She’s a beauty. I’m hoping some of that happens here.

Mr. Carter and Miss Bonnie as St. Croix Gothic.

Traded a pitchfork for a palette knife- neither job is easy.

I’m going to Florida to see my mother for a week – leave me some comments to come home to. Even constructive ones on finishing this piece.