Saturday, December 1, 2012

Drastic Measures had to be taken

New Beginnings and New Beginnings II
You may remember this picture of two of my paintings at the Birmingham Art Association juried show from this post and I told you here of some of the struggles I had with New Beginnings. However, I don't think I ever shared with you the kinda scary measures I had to take to complete New Beginnings II.  

I was having a REALLY hard time getting the shape of the egg right. It was turned at a sort of awkward angle and I just couldn't quite get the curve. One of the things I love about painting is that pretty much everything is fixable. Just paint over it! This time, though, more extreme measures had to be taken. I felt the need for a clean start in that area (a "new beginning," Ha!). So, I sanded it down. Yep! It was a little scary. Look below-

Sorry for the kinda awful photos. My husband had the good camera with him. Do you see the really shiny halo around the egg? That's where I sanded it back down to the bare aluminum. Then I turned both the painting and my reference photo upside down (a good little trick to turn off that voice in your head that says, "An egg looks like this,").
I've written a lot about letting your paintings go through their ugly stage and not giving up on them prematurely (see this post and this post, for example). In this case, it just took a little more extreme parental involvement!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


A current painting in its "adolescent" phase
You remember that age- the awkward tween years when suddenly your body didn't fit you right, your skin started doing weird things, and you forgot how to talk to anyone over the age of 12 or any member of the opposite sex of any age. It was rough. It was embarrassing. But you got through it, and look at you now! Wearing clothes that fit, understanding how makeup works, and talking to bank tellers and grocery store clerks without stuttering or blushing. 

Well this is just a reminder that brain children go through the same awkward phase. They start out as beautiful, pristine canvases (or lumps of clay, or in my case, sheets of metal) full of potential. Then, as they develop you may reach a point where you say, "Is this really going to work?" and you fear that your poor little creation is destined to forever be an ugly duckling. See it through. Nurture and love it for what it could and will be. Like I've said before, you gotta work past the ugly (click the link for other works in progress and the source of that quote)! 

Any of you ever given up on a project because you just couldn't stand the ugly phase? It happens. Any of you ever pick that abandoned project back up and see it through? I'd love to see the results and hear your stories!

Stay tuned for follow-up pictures in the development of the painting above.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Brain Child Wins a Prize!

New Beginnings at the Birmingham Art Association juried show
Guess what! My painting, New Beginnings won Best in Show at the Birmingham Art Association's annual juried show. I was very excited just to be involved the show. I felt that the work this year was especially beautiful, so I'm all the more honored by the award.
Mary Liz Ingram and Dariana Dervis with Dariana's lovely
 mixed-media collages (and second place ribbon).

My dear friends (and fellow members of the art group, Eclectic Art Social Club) Mary Liz Ingram and Dariana Dervis also each received second place ribbons in (respectively) "drawing/printmaking" and "mixed-media" for their work in the show! Way to represent!!

Dariana Dervis, Mary Liz Ingram, and Chi Roach with
Mary Liz's beautiful pastel
 (her second place ribbon is behind Chi's head :)
A pretty awful picture of me,
but pretty good of my paintings.
You may remember New Beginnings (and my struggles completing it) from this post. Just goes to show, the brain child is worth the labor pains. So proud :).

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Sweet Little Feet

Sweet Little Feet
There is no making a 1 year-old sit still for a portrait, however I did manage to catch her little crossed feet at she sat in her high chair. Ah, the magic of graham crackers to keep a toddler still!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

This Thursday!

The Birmingham Art Association's annual juried show will be held at Christopher House Antiques this Thursday night from 5-8. Come out to see fantastic local art in a very cool locale. Nearby Pepper Place will also being having an open house for the evening. Come see me!!

Monday, November 12, 2012

What's catching my attention

I'm sure my neighbors (and my dogs) thought I was nuts yesterday when I stopped every 1 1/2 feet to pick up fall leaves.

But how could I resist? They're all different! When such beauty is throwing itself at your feet, you have to accept.

And enjoy.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The art of lying fallow

Whew! Y'all. This last month has been crazy! Good crazy, but still, crazy! With the Eclectic Art Social Club show at Parkside October 19th, my daughter's (kind of big) first birthday party October 28th, and Moss Rock Festival this past weekend (which I realize I didn't even TELL y'all about!), I feel like I've hardly caught my breath. Throw in normal, everyday life and needless to say, things like home-cooked meals have taken a backseat.
I'm aware that not everyone feels this way, but I actually like to cook. Especially if I can take the time. So that's what I'm doing- taking some time. Slowing down. Getting my house back in order. Spending time with my husband, baby, and dogs. And making chili.
I have some new projects on the horizon. Ideas are simmering in the back of my head for new subjects, new techniques, new formats and I know I'll be back in my studio in just a couple of days. But for the time being, like my tiny summer herb garden, I'm lying fallow and regaining my strength.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

New Beginnings

 Hi all! I was excited to see some of you at the show the other night at Parkside. It was a really fun night- good turnout, relaxing evening. All in all I'd call it a success!

A couple of posts ago I showed you an area of a painting that I had to just leave alone for a while. However, I never did show you the finished painting! Here it is!
New Beginnings I

And here is a companion piece:
New Beginnings II

These are actually kind of big paintings for me. I typically work rather small (around 10"x10" size). These are both 20"x24" inches. I really enjoyed doing some bigger work, however, and I think I'm going to continue experimenting with size and scale.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Upcoming events!

Wow, everyone! Sorry I've been m.i.a. lately! I feel like life has gotten crazy! Ironically, it is art related things keeping me from art and all of you. I have two shows coming up. This Friday, for one night only, Eclectic Art Social Club (that's me, Mary Liz Ingram, Dariana Dervis, Chi Roach, Cecily Hill Lowe, and Sunny Carvalho) presents "Eclectic Cool: The Colors of Calm" at Parkside Bar in Avondale, AL. Then, November 3-4 I'll be at Moss Rock Festival in Hoover, AL. I'll post more info on that later. Oh, and in between those 2 shows my sweet baby girl turns 1! Can you believe it's been a year!? I can't!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Put the brush down and step away from the painting!

See the streaks in the rounded part of the white mass?
I'm not perfectionistic in most matters. My house is not spotless; I floss most nights, but not all; and I keep my hair short so that it's allowed to be messy. However, with my art there are times when I get a little too tied up in the details. I'm sure you've all been there- one bit of your painting just won't come out right and the harder you try the more frustrated you feel and the worse it gets. That's when it's time to put it down. I had one of those moments yesterday with this spot here:
It had been an infuriating morning with computer problems and all sorts of other hang-ups so my attitude when I came to the easel was rushed and angry. Not the best mindset for art to flow.
I don't know about you, but I feel like when I look one of my own finished paintings I can tell whether or not it has been forced. So, I put it down... way down (or up, rather)... like on a shelf to dry for a good long while. I'll come back to it in a week or so, but in the meantime I did this:
prepared a new piece of metal for a companion piece to the one above. By the way, I can't wait to show you the finished painting above. I really do love it. It's a very calm piece, which is why working on it in a tense state of mind just won't do. Stay tuned! I'll keep you posted on both these pieces as they come along. 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

To the early birds...

Watery Rocks
Oil on copper
For all of you super responsible people out there who are already preparing for the holidays, I have good news! Prints of my work are now available from Fine Art America. Here's the link. The images are available in different sizes and formats including greeting cards, canvas prints, and prints on metal (which I find particularly cool since the originals are done on metal). Not only will these make great gifts, but this will also give you a chance to own a copy of a painting like Watery Rocks that has already sold to a collector. Happy shopping!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Nesting 10"x10"
Oil on metal
At long last here it is, my latest painting depicting a tiny speckled egg nestled in a what I imagined I would use for a nest if I were a mama bird held, of course, in a silver bowl.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Because of a ducky...

So this morning I was cleaning the bathtub and I noticed my baby's rubber ducky sitting on the side of the tub. Inspiration struck. I would write a song about a rubber ducky! Just kidding. But, I would take some PICTURES of a rubber ducky! So I got the tub as clean and shiny as I could manage and started my bath toy photo shoot. I was having so much fun I decided to move the party to the sink, which meant I needed the sink clean and shiny. Then I moved on to the kitchen sink. When it was all said and done I had cleaned two bathrooms and the kitchen, all for the sake of pictures of a rubber ducky. Hey! Whatever works! It may be silly way to clean, but it was definitely a lot more fun!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


A freshly prepared sheet of aluminum, awaiting a painting.
I've had a sort of interesting experience with the last couple of paintings I've started. I've cut, prepared, and mounted my copper or aluminum, I know what I'm going to paint, however when I pick up my brush I'm struck with a sense of, "Wait... how do I do this again?" You may think that the idea that it's not all automatic would scare me, but it doesn't. Instead it sort of thrills me. I love that even after all this time and all the paintings I've done, nothing is rote. Despite the fact that I'm confident in my ability to face any challenge there's still a little spark of, "Will it work this time?" that makes painting feel a little like magic.
I have a newly finished painting I can't wait to show y'all. Stay tuned! All it needs is some drying time before its big debut.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Bi-State Art Competition

Oil on Brass
I am excited to announce that two of my paintings, Bright Idea and Shine have been accepted to the 39th annual Bi-State Art Competition at the Meridian Museum of Art.
Bright Idea
Oil on Copper
Currently they are on their way to Meridian. Please join me in wishing them good luck, God speed, and safe travels!
You may remember Bright Idea from my series of "work-in-progress" posts. You were a part of its birth and development! Now don't you feel proud of our little painting going out on its own? ;-)

Friday, July 27, 2012

Rock Garden?

My latest painting. I'm still working on a title, but I'm thinking "Rock Garden." 
What do you think?

I was reminded with this painting how much I really love realism. I love looking at something like a brown rock and seeing not just brown, but all the myriad of colors that make it appear brown. If you look closely, nothing is ever just the color it immediately seems. I'm not sure I'm ever more content than when I'm gazing at something beautiful and teasing out the unexpected colors that make up its highlights, shadows, and contours.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The capacity for delight

Sometimes the most random things catch my a canister of cheerios (always handy to have close by for a snacky 9-month-old).

Ooh, sparkly and shiny. Plus that turquoise makes me happy!

 "The quality of life is in proportion, always, to the capacity for delight. The capacity for delight is the gift of paying attention."  Julia Cameron

Life's much more fun when you can notice the little things.

I like how the edge of the platter echoes the weave of  basket

Now you try! Anything "silly" inspire you lately?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


My parents were visiting and look what my dad found in the yard- a perfect, tiny little egg. Isn't it lovely? I don't use that word often, but it just seems like the best word for it. Who knows, maybe you'll see it in a painting by yours truly sometime soon...

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Something borrowed

As I was attempting to organize my studio the other day (is this an ongoing battle for anyone else?) I ran across this super cool... thing (not sure what to call it) that I borrowed a year ago from my dear friend (and awesome artist) Mary Liz Ingram with the intention of painting it.

Sorry Mary Liz! I will return it as soon as possible. But first, doesn't this just HAVE to be immortalized in a work of art? Look at those reflections! Here for your viewing pleasure (and because I couldn't help myself) are a few more shots of that delicious shine. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

Emerging talent

My eight-month-old Fiona's first masterpiece. She kept wanting to eat the crayon, but who can question the eccentricities of an artistic genius? *wink*

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Everyday Beauty: Cup of tea

What caught my eye today:

 And my quick study interpretation of it (from a slightly different angle).

I especially love the reflections in the spoon, of course. You know me!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Common Mistakes of the New Artist and How to Avoid Them; Part II

Disclaimer: As I said in Part I of this post, there are no hard and fast rules to art. At some point you may purposefully choose to commit one of these "mistakes" to achieve a specific goal. The important thing is that you choose to do do it, rather than doing one of these things because of lack of knowledge. Ok, let's carry on!

Mistake #6: Bad Composition. Composition is one of those details that can truly make or break a painting. You might have an absolutely beautiful subject that you've painted wonderfully, but if your composition is wrong it may leave the viewer unsettled or bored. Here are some examples of bad composition and why they are bad. 

Exhibit A:
What's happening here?

The image above almost achieves an L shaped composition, which can be used to sort of "frame" an object of interest. However, there is nothing of interest in that vast expanse of blue so the picture is just boring and a little confusing. To improve the composition I may add a red balloon or some other point of interest to that space of blue.

Exhibit B1:
The edges of the subject just barely
 fit inside the picture, appearing forced.
The above painting of an apple is not great composition for a couple of reasons. Problem #1 is that it feels forced. The apple comes right to the edges of the painting, making it appear that the artist (me) was trying too hard to get all of the subject into the frame. To fix this problem, I would either need to zoom in closer on my subject, or back up enough that there is comfortable space between the edges of the apple and the border of the picture. Problem #2 is that the stem is pointing out of the picture. However, it is far enough away from the edge of the picture that it's not a serious problem. The picture below shows a similar problem.

Exhibit B2:
The beetle is walking out of the picture, possibly
leading the viewer's interest out of the picture as well.
Exhibit B3:
This is a better composition than B3
because of the position of the subject.

Exhibit C1:
There is no clear center of interest, making the picture boring.

Again, there are a couple of problems with this picture. Problem #1 is that the center of interest is not clear. Problem # 2 has to do with color and balance of light and dark. Most of the colors in the picture are of the same value (level of light or dark). If we zoom in like so:

Exhibit C2:
It greatly improves the picture, however it would still benefit from greater contrast between lights and darks, and perhaps in the colors themselves, as well (for example, a purple butterfly instead of one that matches the flowers). 

Once again, these are only guidelines. Don't let rules dictate your art (or worse, intimidate you from creating art all together). If you feel that your pictures are missing the mark somehow, however, a look at these tips may help you put your finger on the problem. Remember, experience is the best teacher and with time you'll develop a sense of what works and what doesn't. 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Common mistakes of the new artist and how to avoid them; Part I

I'm trying to provide plenty of visual examples, therefore this will be a 2 part post.
I've been looking at some of my older paintings and noticing the mistakes I made as a newbie artist. About 6 years ago when I started painting, I had no formal training. I just bought some acrylic paints and sorta went to town. Over the years I have gained some knowledge (both from mentors and formal training, and from experience) and the quality of my work (as well as my style) has WILDLY changed. I won't say that one style is better than the other, but my techniques have definitely improved. Below are some mistakes I made and that other rookie painters  tend to make and how to avoid or fix them.

Note: There are exceptions to every rule and you may choose at some point to commit one of these "mistakes" in order to achieve a specific effect.  However, the important word there is "choose." What I have listed here are mistakes people often unconsciously make when getting started painting. 

Mistakes to avoid:
Mistake #1: Making brush strokes go in all one direction. Check it out: 
Brush strokes should not go all one direction

Vary the directions of the strokes
It is especially tempting to make your strokes go in one direction when you're trying to fill a large space like an empty background. Varying your strokes looks much more natural. While we're on the subject of backgrounds...

Mistake # 2: Making the background an after-thought. Ideally you want to paint the background before the main subject. Especially on the last coat (or, of you work with one thick coat instead of many thin coats, you probably want to add to the edges of the items in the foreground of the picture at the end).  If you completely finish the subject and then try to paint the background, the edges will have a forced feel to them. I usually try to paint from back to front. For example, in the painting below, I painted the yellow and red marbles before the blue, since the blue one is in front.

Mistake #3: Finishing one area of the painting at a time. I know that you don't have endless time to paint and painting a layer over the entire painting at each sitting may not be doable. That's not what this is about. The mistake many new artists make is completely finishing one part of the picture before starting on another part. The result is usually a very disjointed final picture. Below are some examples of working on the whole painting rather than one bit at a time. These pictures show one of my paintings in progress.

See how the entire painting progresses from less detail to more detailed rather than filling in all the details of one part while neglecting the rest of the painting? If you find yourself getting too caught up in one little part of the picture, walk away for a few minutes and view it from a distance as a whole.

Mistake #4: Not using a reference or model (if you're doing a representational painting rather than a non-representational abstract).

Mistake #5: Painting what you think you should see instead of what you actually see.

Mistakes #4 and #5 go hand in hand. Say you're painting a picture of an apple. Your brain will probably say, "I know what an apple looks like," so you either attempt to paint without an apple as a model, or you don't look at your model and you paint a roundish thing with a stem. Even if your goal is not realism, having the subject in front of you and truly looking at the qualities of the model will improve and vitalize your picture. Try to turn off that little voice in your head that applies symbols to objects (example: "Apples are round, doors are rectangles, etc."). If you're working from a photograph rather than from life, it might help to turn the picture (and your painting) upside down so that it is less recognizable to your brain. If something seems off with your picture and you can't figure out what it is, it helps to hold the painting (and reference photo, if using) up to a mirror. By reversing the image, you can often see what is and isn't working.

Stay tuned for part II of this post! Are you having any painting problems that you'd like me to address? I love hearing from you!