Sunday, December 8, 2013

I Believe I Can Fly II

This post may look similar to my last post
but this week the turtle dreams are even bigger :)

After completing the 8x8 version of I Believe I Can Fly, I set to work on a 20x20 canvas, using the smaller painting as my study.  
Here's my initial sketch:
I used basically the same steps as with the smaller painting, but I had to work harder to achieve some of the effects that require laying wet paint into wet paint because it started to dry before I got to the second layer.

The smaller painting is now sold, but here's a bigger turtle with a bigger dream:
I Believe I Can Fly II, 20x20 Oil (available)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

I Believe I Can Fly

Walking around my favorite lake on a recent autumn day as the leaves gently drifted on the breeze, I came across this small turtle who seemed to have big plans.  Balanced precariously on the tip of a submerged log, he stretched out his legs with aerodynamic precision and lifted his head toward the sky.  With his eyes closed tightly, I could imagine him repeating to himself, "I believe I can fly ... I believe I can fly."  We can dream, can't we?
I wanted a close-up of Mr. Turtle on his inaugural flight, but when I cropped the photo I could tell that the surface of the water would look vertical without some visual clues.  So I decided it would be important to move some floating leaves into the foreground and have them overlap the turtle's reflection.
In my under-painting I worked out the composition with the leaves and added some hints of leaves floating on the surface behind the turtle to indicate distance.  At this point I was excited to begin capturing the turtle's character, as well as the smoothness of the water, while the under-painting was still wet.
In the final painting, you can see the important role that the leaves play in defining the surface of the water and in leading your eye into and around the canvas.  Of course the turtle doesn't care about all the things I did to properly compose him ... he's too busy launching his dream :)
8x8 oil

Here he is framed:

Sunday, November 17, 2013


I found this week's flower at the Raleigh Rose Garden.  What a beautiful place for the senses!

As with the other flowers I've been sending to you, the Rose is part of a series of 4x4 mini paintings that are being offered to my blog, newsletter, and facebook readers for only $40.  This one has sold, but just send a note to me to find out if others are available (or maybe I can be convinced to paint one just for you!)

Here's the photo I took in the Raleigh Rose Garden.  I painted this as a 6x6 and it is framed and currently available (see Time to Smell the Roses).
For the 4x4 mini, I focused on this one amazing rose that seemed to have light emanating from within.  It truly glowed.
Here's my painted version, with fun, lively colors:
Rose, 4x4 Oil, SOLD

Sunday, November 10, 2013


This week's flower is one that graces my window boxes from October to April every year.  The purple and yellow pansy is my favorite because of the great complementary colors and because they always look like they are smiling (squint your eyes and you'll see!)

As with the flowers of the past two weeks, Pansy 1 and Pansy 2 are part of a series of 4x4 mini paintings that are being offered to my blog, newsletter, and facebook readers for only $40.  Add a smile to any room by placing your wilt-free flower on a little easel.  Just send a note to me if you'd like to start a bouquet for yourself or for a special someone :)

Here's the photo I took of pansies in my window box:
And here's one of the smiling faces I focused on:
Pansy I, 4x4 Oil, Available for $40

And here's the companion piece.  See if you can find this one in the original photo above :)
Pansy 2, 4x4 Oil, Available for $40

Sunday, November 3, 2013


This week's flower is one of my personal favorites... the iris.

As with last week's amaryllis, it is part of a series of 4x4 mini paintings that are being offered to my blog, newsletter, and facebook readers for only $40.  They make perfect gifts and add cheer to any room when placed on a little easel.  Just send a note to me if you'd like to start your wilt-free bouquet!

Here's the photo I took of irises at my mailbox:
I cropped the photo to emphasize the shape of this lovely blossom:
I had so much fun with this particular flower that I painted it twice:
Iris 2, 4x4 Oil, Available for $40
Iris 1, 4x4 Oil, SOLD

Sunday, October 27, 2013


For the next few weeks, I am going to send you flowers because, well, you deserve it!  As a new collector recently told me, "These are nicer than a dozen roses because they never wilt!"  

These flowers are part of a series of 4x4 mini paintings that are being offered for only $40.  They make perfect gifts (for you or someone special) and can be placed on a little easel to add cheer to any room.  This offer is reserved just for you and my newsletter and facebook readers, so send a note to me if you'd like to start your wilt-free bouquet!
This week's flower is a brilliant red Amaryllis.  I found these in Raleigh's JC Raulston Arboretum, which is a beautiful place and definitely worth many visits.  I started with this photograph from an earlier painting (see Amaryllis at the Arboretum), but for the 4x4 mini panels I've found that it's important to focus on just one or two flowers that have an interesting silhouette.  
I chose to zoom in on this graceful Amaryllis...
... and then I made it the star of the show:
Amaryllis, 4x4 Oil, Available for $40 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Azalea Glow VII

Azalea Glow VII is actually my tenth (and largest!) white azalea painting.  Each time I paint a white azalea I think, "Okay, that about does it for me."  And then something draws me back again.  

This time, it was the desire to create drama on a large scale, so I challenged myself to express the glow of the delicate blossoms on a 2' x 4' canvas.  Not an easy task, but It turned out just how I had hoped (which definitely doesn't always happen!)  I'm especially happy with how the strength of the values and shapes work equally well with either bright or low lighting.

Here are some of the steps in my process, starting with the original photo,
which I cropped to create interesting shapes around the flowers ("negative space").
I sketched a simple 4x4 grid to help with my placement of major shapes.  I usually use a soft pastel pencil for this stage because it wipes off easily.
Using transparent paints, I established my shapes.
After the paint dried, I covered the background greenery with a transparent blue/yellow mixture.
After the first layer dried, I added another layer and this time painted the areas of my flowers that would be shadowed.
At this point, I started in with opaque paints, keeping layers thin and adding nuances of warm and cool colors.  And, voila!  After a mere two weeks my painting is complete!  
Here's Azalea Glow VII, 24x48 Oil:
For size comparison, here it hangs at Waverly Artists Group next to two 18x24 paintings and several framed 6x6 minis.   Please stop by if you're in town!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Two Views: Safe Harbor and Red Boat Reflections

Often, there are several different paintings that can come from one photograph.  This particular view of Vernazza, Italy, inspired two paintings for me, focusing on different aspects of the same scene.
In Safe Harbor, I cropped the original photograph to emphasize movement.  I liked the diagonal lines that start with the reflection near the bottom right and zigzag through the boats, up to the walkway on the top right, and across the plaza to the left.
My challenge with this composition was to gently bring the viewer's eye back to the foreground.  My solution was to emphasize the reflections of the buildings and umbrellas to vertically connect back to the boats.  Here is Safe Harbor, 20x20 Oil:
After the first painting, I decided I liked the reflections so much that I wanted to paint the scene again, but with the focus primarily on the boat reflections.  I chose a long, horizontal format and cropped the image for my 18x36 canvas like this:
Here's the result ...another point of view.  Red Boat Reflections, 18x36 Oil

Both of these paintings are currently available at The Little Art Gallery.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Blossoms in Italy

Yesterday, my husband and I joined my wonderful family in the celebration of my cousin Nancy's wedding day.  And so, in honor of Nancy and Vinny, I am posting the wedding gift they received from us.

Knowing that their Italian lineage is pretty strong (yes, I know the Irish is strong too, Mom :), I chose one of my favorite new little pieces that was painted from a photo taken during our 25th anniversary trip to Italy.  This doorway in Asciano was so enticing with its shadows, flowers, and texture that I couldn't resist painting it (twice!)  For this little painting I chose to crop the scene and focus on the doorway and the flowers to the left. 
I moved the flowers a bit to the right so that they connected and overlapped the door because I loved the contrast of soft and strong with the flowers and doorway.  There is so much symbolism here for a marriage, but what speaks to me most is how our differences can complement in a way that makes the "whole" more beautiful ...  blossoms and brick ... sunlight and shadow ... soft and strong.  The door is ready to be opened to possibilities and also represents our God, who makes all things possible.  I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.  Jn 10:9

Blossoms in Italy, 7x5 Oil

Here it is, framed:
And here is the happy couple, Vinny and Nancy.  Congratulations!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Lake Lynn Morning

In honor of Labor Day, what could be a more relaxing way to start the day than with a morning walk around a peaceful lake?  

I usually walk around Lake Lynn at the "magic hour" when the evening sun makes the shadows and colors crisp and dramatic, but on this rare early stroll I was rewarded with delicate veils of a misty morning as the backdrop to the peak of autumn colors.

I painted Lake Lynn Morning as I remembered it, not as the camera captured it.  To me, the orange leaves of the maples danced in dramatic contrast to the distant neutral blue.  It took my breath away.  Have a relaxing Labor Day ...


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Ewe Too?

Thick with a winter coat and ready for sheering, these two ewes on Parrish Place Farm seemed happy to show off their fluffy wool in the soft glow of the morning sun.  I really wanted to wiggle my fingers into their deep wool!

I loved the composition of my original photograph -- the overlapping sheep (one grazing and one gazing), the slight incline of the field, and the delicate lifting of the front sheep's leg.  But the thing I was most eager to capture was the soft morning light that caressed their form.

To achieve the warm glow, I first painted the whole scene with varying values of transparent orange, mixed with transparent blue for the darker areas.  You can see the orange peeking through, even in the grass, to unify the scene.  The wool is more thickly painted with opaque paints, saving the lightest value for the glowing wool around the front sheep's face.  

She seemed a bit quizzical, so I decided she must be asking, "Ewe too?" :)
 Ewe Too?  Sold
8x10 Oil

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Azalea Glow II

On my easel right now is one of my favorite subjects - white azaleas.  It's been on my easel since before my week-long vacation and yet the paint fairy still hasn't finished painting it.  Must I do everything??  :)

Below is a photo I took that inspired a white azalea painting that did get finished.  One of the things I enjoy with these large blossoms is the "negative" space that is formed around the azaleas.  In this photo I was drawn to the shapes made by the two flowers at the lower right. 

I chose a square canvas because it allowed me to crop the image in a way that emphasized the blossoms and the interesting shapes that surrounded them.

In my painting, I stayed faithful to the composition of the cropped photograph because it had a wonderful drama to it.  Where I diverged was in my palette, allowing the glow of nearby colors to spill through the translucent petals with more intensity than the camera captured.  The subtle color shifts are what give these white flowers such a soft feel.

20x20 Oil

Now back to the blossoms on my easel....

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Meeting at Elbow Beach

In honor of our family reunion "Beach Week", which starts today (yay!), I am featuring one of my favorite scenes of the beach.  Okay, Bermuda isn't exactly where we go for our family reunion, but it is the right theme :) 
This view is on Elbow Beach in the early evening.  I love the long shafts of light that drape the soft sand and then highlight the ocean foam.  The foam, in turn, seems to point towards the beach walkers, which can make for a romantic story...
Here's the original photo:

And here I have cropped the photo to emphasize the long shadows and to better balance the composition.  Cropping the top of the tallest palm tree was important to stop your eye from following the sky off the canvas and to decrease the attention the palm trees were commanding.

My goal in translating this scene was to capture the glow of the pink coral sand that so often defines the colors of Bermuda.  Add to that a bevy of backlit palm trees and the intrigue of two lovers yet to meet and you have the perfect end to a leisurely beach day.

18x36 Oil
Available at  The Little Art Gallery

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Yes Sir, That's My Baby

I fell in love with this baby Galloway cow on one of my trips to Fearrington Village in North Carolina.  The calf posed perfectly for me ... showing off its spindly-legged silhouette in the shadows and its fluffy juvenile coat in the sunlight while dining on grasses.  I also loved the dynamic "Z" composition of the scene that connects the calf and its proud mother.
This is the original photo:

Since the mother was not quite as cooperative with her posing, I performed a little digital magic to create the story I wanted to tell.  Here's the original photo I took of her:

After "flipping" her photo, I inserted the mother's face into the scene with her baby.  Voila!  I think she'd be much happier with this picture :)   I also cropped the image for a better composition.

My favorite part of painting "Yes Sir, That's My Baby" was capturing the subtle warm and cool colors in the shadowed side of the calf's white fur.  I think that means I'm becoming an art nerd.  
Here's my completed 12x16 painting.  It was juried in to the 2012 North Ridge Country Club Annual Art Gala and won Honorable Mention :)

Yes Sir, That's My Baby,  SOLD
12x16 Oil

Here's the small study I painted first (Available!)

Yes Sir, That's My BabyAvailable
6x8 Oil, framed