Sunday, January 22, 2017

On the Way: Painting the Camino de Santiago

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On the Way: Painting the Camino de Santiago

At this time last year, I was totally focused on being a pilgrim.  My husband and I were preparing for a two-week, 150 mile pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago with some dear friends and I had begun to realize that our true pilgrimage actually began long before the first step would be taken. 
To prepare for the Camino, I researched, purchased, and returned more "hiking" items than I care to remember.  Why is it so hard to keep things simple??  We joined the local "American Pilgrims on the Camino" (APOC) group and attended many meetings as well as hiking adventures (which is how I learned that my backpack was definitely not going to work for me).  And, most importantly, I read and reread several deeply inspiring books on the spiritual side of being a pilgrim.  I love being a pilgrim. 
And now I get to relive our adventure as an artist!  As I prepare for my next solo show, "On the Way: Painting the Camino de Santiago", I will be walking our pilgrimage one brushstroke at a time.  This journey begins with small studies (before I pull out the bigger canvases) and the very first memory relived is this incredible view, from our very first day, hiking up the Pyrenees from St. Jean Pied de Port to Orisson:
One of the things that I love about the reference photo is the way the lines of trees move the eye in a lively zigzag fashion throughout the scene.  As I began my painting, I focused on capturing that movement before getting caught up in any details.  At this point it looks like our Camino was in winter snow :)
Ta Da, now it's summer!  This small study (titled "On the Way", of course!) will be used to create a larger piece for my show.
Here's the reference photo again so that you can see the artistic liberties I took:

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Morning Gratitude

In Celebration of Easter:  Sun Rise

This is the view at sunrise from the house we rent in Nags Head NC each year.  Often, as I look out our bedroom door (with bleary eyes), I see my early-rising-mother already walking the beach for her quiet time of morning gratitude.  There's no better way to start the day.

Knowing that I wanted the sea oats to greet the sun with a rim of its radiance, I intentionally intensified the colors of the warm morning glow in my first layer of paint.

I then moved to the sun, sea, and sky and found myself almost having to squint at the sun's brilliance as it came to life.

In this final step, I worked on the cool sandy areas of the dune, providing an entrance for the viewer to step to the beach and quietly enjoy a moment of morning gratitude.
Morning Gratitude, 16x20 Oil, available 

(Here's the reference photo again for comparison)

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Poppies Dancing

Ahh... what an inspiring photograph to thrill my paint brushes.  Thank you to photographer Mark Osborne for capturing such beauty!

I chose an 18x36in canvas to emphasize the landscape nature of this scene and cropped the sky so that the largest poppy would be above the mid-point, allowing the eye to move around more easily.  As usual, all of my first layer is created with three transparent colors (permanent rose, ultramarine blue, and Indian yellow).

I left the sky unpainted for awhile because I wanted to start working some opaque paints into the first layer while it was still a bit wet.  This is a big canvas for me, though, so I didn't get far before it tacked up!

Several days later (okay, more than a week) and, ta-da, these poppies are ready to dance!
Poppies Dancing, 18x36 Oil, on hold for my solo show, "Flowers of Italy".

Here's the photo again for comparison:

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Receiving the Day

 Each morning as I rise I try to remember that this day is a gift, not to be taken but to be gratefully received.  This sunflower seems to have that same understanding -- gently opening its petals and receiving the day. 

 I chose a 20x20in canvas and decided to focus on the sunflower's happy back-lit "face" :)

This is halfway through my loose, transparent layer.  I really like the abstract shape at this point and almost wish I had stopped right there!

I continued until the whole canvas was covered

and then gradually began thicker paint application, using the under-painting as my guide.
Ready to greet you!
Receiving the Day, 20x20 Oil, available

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Lavender and Gold

After painting several small studies for my upcoming "Flowers of Italy" show, today's blog post is the first of the larger paintings I plan to paint.  The inspiration came from a gorgeous reference photo (left) that I cropped to a square format (right).  Thank you to talented photographer Robyn Lovelock!

Here's my 20x20in canvas with the landscape elements lightly sketched.

I decided to start from the top and work my way down to the brightly colored field of lavender.  I also decided to include the peaks of the mountains, rather than shroud them in cloud cover, because I felt it made the background shape more interesting.   

This image shows the set-up that I used to guide my painting.  On the left you can see the reference photo on my i-pad (attached to an old watercolor easel) with my little 6x6 study beneath it. The band of golden hue beneath the tree line is a field of sunflowers :)  

For the field of lavender, I covered the rest of the canvas with a thin layer of transparent oil paint ...

... and then I painted a second layer with thicker opaque paint.  I really enjoyed painting the vibrant colors of this scene!
"Lavender and Gold", 20x20 Oil, on hold (until my show)

Here's the reference photo again for comparison:

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Tuscan Hills

Shapes, texture, color, and layer upon layer of mountain vistas ... there's so much to love about the Tuscan countryside!  This is a photo from our visit to Tuscany several years ago.  My painting goal was to capture the zigzag movement from foreground to background using the elements of hills, road, olive trees, and cypress.
Here is my painted sketch on the 20x40in canvas.
And here is my wild color stage -- a thin layer of transparent oil paints.  At this point I was having second thoughts about how I was going to resolve the the foreground fence and hill with the road at the bottom right.  Not sure if they were helpful or hindering.
Ultimately, I decided to remove those elements, opting for the simpler, less cluttered hill to move the eye through the scene.  Enjoy a bit of Italy!
"Tuscan Hills", 20x40 Oil, available

Sunday, November 15, 2015


Following up on my last post which featured small studies of sunflowers, this week I am featuring small studies of lavender fields.  My goal is to use them to help me create larger paintings that will be exhibited in a solo show that I'm having next year, themed "Flowers of Italy".  I'm really enjoying all of this color!  

Here are the completed studies next to their reference photos (thanks to the generosity of some very talented photographers).