Monday, November 28, 2011

Ancient Majesty

Begin: Artist Morton Kaish recalls reading philosopher William James on how motivation allowed  a person to "transcend the obstacles of exhaustion. " By "pushing through", he said, you could "locate new pools of energy".  They key was to begin.  So artist Kaish posted one word in his studio: "BEGIN."  So true!  It is only once you begin to work that the ideas come and time evaporates!
Ancient Majesty is 8x8" acrylic media and collage on panel.

Ancient Grandeur

Ancient Grandeur is 8x8" acrylic media and collage on panel.

Moonlit Fences

Moonlit Fences is 8x8" acrylic media and collage on panel.

Shady Harbor

Shady Harbor is 8x8" acrylic media and collage on panel.

Red Roof Harbor

Red Roof Harbor is 8x8" acrylic media and collage on panel.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

In the Cove

In the Cove: I think mixing some representational elements to an abstracted design is nice.  Or is it adding abstraction to a representational design? Another in my Harborside series.
In the Cove is 8x8" Acrylic media and collage on panel.

On the Ridge

On the Ridge:  I'm still working on my Hillside series, too!
On the Ridge is 6x6" Acrylic media and collage on panel.


Antique:  Continuing to Design by Grid.  I'm getting the sense of red lacquer and worn leather.  Remembrances of ancestors and their journeys.  
Antique is 8x8" Acrylic media and collage on panel.


Affiche: I'm still experimenting with designing in a grid, working with analogous warm colors. Also trying for some interesting texture. As in Graffiti, I'm seeing a wall with traces of old posters, peeled and worn by weather and the passage of time. 
Affiche is 6x6" Acrylic media and collage on panel.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


How to start a collage: When our class asked Carrie Burns Brown how she begins a collage, she responded wryly: " There is no way to begin a collage.  You just start gluing things down." This may be sage advice about starting any painting. I find sometimes it is not until the hand begins to move that  the ideas begin to come!
Graffiti is 8x8" acrylic and collage on panel.  


Limited palette: With collage, I've used fluid acrylics for the first time.  Also new colors: raw umber, thalo turquoise, nickel azo yellow.  As I discovered in oil, limiting your palette can really strengthen your design.  And limiting your palette is not just putting out a few colors to paint with.  It means limiting the colors that actually end up on the canvas!  Big difference! This involves a lot of restraint.
Harvest is  6x6" acrylic and collage mounted on 8x8" matte board.

Forest Texture

Color Design: By limiting your colors, you can make lovely combinations. Here I've stuck to yellow-greens and blue-greens, evoking summer foliage and bark-like texture.
Forest Texture is 6x6" acrylic and collage, mounted on 8x8" matte board.


Simple composition, complex surface: The wonderful gouache artist Donna Zagotta once said that she aspires to "simple compositions with complex surface treatments."  I think that is a great way to try and harness all the delicious papers I've been making!
Autumn is 7x7" acrylic and collage, mounted on 10x10" matte board.


Designing in a Grid:  I like working in a grid.  You have to be careful to vary distances and textures.  And in the end  I think your value scheme decides whether or not  the composition is intriguing.
Summer is 6x6" acrylic and collage mounted on 8x8" matte board.

Monday, September 5, 2011


Designing in a Grid: Carrie Burns Brown mentioned in her recent collage workshop that she often designs in a grid.  Other artists I admire do this, too.  (George James is a master.) I realized that my women-at-the-bar paintings were somewhat painted in a grid.   So I continue to riff on the dining and quaffing at the beach, and am focusing on a grid-based design.  It's really interesting to work this way.
Margarita is 8x8" acrylic media and collage on panel.

Cuba Libre

Layers: Another thing we did in our collage workshop was to make an "underpainting"  of collage papers, and then collage even more on top.  Layers add mystery.  Many of the papers used were papers we made by painting tissue paper and then texturing with even more paint.  Layers made of layers!
Cuba Libre is 8x8" acrylic media and collage on panel.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Path to the Dock

Path to the Dock: Toward the end of the day, the sunset slants so beautifully onto the path from the dock.  I painted outside in the Adirondacks every day I was there.  I also used oil, which  I haven't done  since December of 2010.  I changed to acrylic and collage in January 2011 for the Daily Painters Project challenge.  But oil is so luscious when you're painting en plein air.  Design-wise, I took a mosaic approach.
Path to the Dock is 12x16", oil on canvas.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Lakeside Rhythm

Lakeside Rhythm : I wanted to focus on design, even en plein air.  This is always tricky, because time is limited.  So I tried to  simplify.  A strip of sunset across the path becomes  a strip of yellow.  The riot of trees through which the water sparkles becomes  one or two shapes.   To do this in limited time, it is so important to get your value sketch working before you get into the paint. 
Lakeside Rhythm is 12x16", oil on canvas.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Shoreline Rhythm

Shoreline Rhythm : Again, I'm trying to focus more on the "rhythm" than on the "shoreline".  Don't paint stuff.  Paint shapes and values.  For fun, I've posted the photo of this scene here, too.  Did I simplify enough?
Shoreline Rhythm is 12x16", oil on canvas.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Photo of Shoreline

Shoreline Photo:  For fun, here is where I was standing when I painted the two "rhythm" paintings.  

Friday, July 15, 2011

Near Green Bridge

Near Green Bridge: I paint here every year.  I think it might be the most gorgeous place in the Adirondacks.  
Near Green Bridge is 12x12", oil on canvas.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Summer at Moose River

Summer at Moose River: The day was hot, humid and glorious.  It was almost too hot to paint outside.  But my daughter and I set up near the bridge and painted the river valley anyway.  I think the intense heat nearly splintered the light!   I was painting here one summer when my friend in her tomato-soup-colored  VW Bug stopped mid-span, and shouted out her window: "Betsy, look who's watching you!"  I turned, and gazing thoughtfully over my shoulder at my canvas  was a deer.  She pondered my work for a while, then ambled away.
Summer at Moose River is 9x12" oil on canvas.

Monday, June 27, 2011


Try, try again: This is another reborn painting.  Again, my disappointment in the first attempt was gradually replaced by delight as I incorporated the under layer  into this composition!  I'm still focused on geometry.  I think  this woman has some history, like the piece itself.  Perhaps the destiny of some paintings is to be the fertile soil from which a new painting bursts to life!  I get to be the gardener.  What fun!
Interlude is 8x8" acrylic media and collage on panel.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Scotch on the Rocks

Lots of Starts II :  Further to this topic, I recently read an article about a man named Scott Kim who is a "puzzle master".  He actually makes a living by designing logical mazes and brain teasers.  The way he describes it, creating a puzzle is a lot like solving one.  His creative process is helped by taking walks and changing where he sits.  But in the end, he says, "I often find that the amount of progress I make is proportional to the number of times I start."  Timeless advice.  This painting is yet another rebirth.

Scotch on the Rocks is 8x8" acrylic media and collage on panel.   


 Lots of Starts:  I once heard an audio tape of Charles Hawthorne's advice to his painting students.  One thing he counseled  was "Make many starts."  I took that advice this week.  Days of painting were going by and nothing was really clicking.  So I made some new starts by  painting over a few old pieces.  This turned out to be great!  The previous paint and collage made very  intricate surfaces, and I adapted some of the old shapes into the new pictures.  It was great fun!
Sultry is 8x8" acrylic media and collage on panel.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


The pictures I found of Marie Antoinette have her in  magnificent millinery.  In one version, she wears a silk turban with feathers cascading down one side of her face.  So, this is my attempt to capture her, elaborately mid-flourish.
Enchantment is 6x6" acrylic on gessoboard.


Bewitched is 6x6" acrylic on gessoboard.


Another picture I found of Marie Antoinette shows her in a wide-brimmed hat, possibly setting out for  a garden party with all her courtiers.  Something new I tried on this series was painting on gessoboard.  It's very absorbent, and has a completely different feel from painting on canvas.  It takes some getting used to, but I like it.
Chapeau is 6x6" acrylic on gessoboard.   

A la Mode

A la Mode is 6x6" acrylic on gessoboard.

Monday, June 20, 2011


Bedazzled: For our show this Friday at Detour Salon, we are exploring the themes of Marie Antionette!, big hair, hats, and confection. Yum.

Bedazzled is 6x6" acrylic on panel.


Ringlets is 6x6" acrylic on panel.

Emerald Moonlight

Emerald Moonlight is 8x8" acrylic media and collage on panel.   

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Orchard Morning

 Geometry of Orchards:  Why is an orchard endlessly fascinating to look at?  Maybe it's the dynamic combination of organic and geometric elements.  As we know, contrast rocks.  I've been trying for that vibration as I put together orchard-y compositions.  I'm still focused on texture and warmth in high-horizon "hillside" composition. 
Orchard Morning is 8x8" acrylic media and collage on panel.

Monday, May 30, 2011


Keep your appointment with the muse -  In her book "Art at the Speed of Life",  Pam Carriker talks about putting boundaries around your creative time.  "You need to give yourself permission to keep your appointment with your muse, " she says.   I love that.  I fight off dragons every day to keep that appointment!
Summer is 8x8" acrylic media and collage on panel.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Orchard Afternoon

May 27, 2011  Memories of Trequanda:  Eight years ago this month, fifteen of  us rented a farmhouse in Italy and settled in to paint. It was magnificent; there were views in every direction!  Across the valley of rolling olive groves and vineyards we could see the hilltown of Trequanda.   On the farm, after a day of painting in the sun,  we were well fed!   The farm's "fattoria" produced wine and olive oil, but I'd never had olive oil like this.  It tasted like grass, with a bite.  As I think of Savoring the Flavor, I remember the beauty and pungence of that setting, and I had to paint the hills and olive groves again!
In the evenings, we'd set our day's paintings on the hearth, gather around the fireplace, and see what everyone had painted.  Some artists painted 5-7 paintings a day!  It was amid this breathtaking work ethic that  several of us cut our plein air "teeth. "  A heady time it was.
Orchard Afternoon is 8x8" acrylic media and collage on panel.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


Well, with a juicy apple like that, anything could happen. 
Temptation is 6x6"acrylic media and collage on panel.


This was fun.  I'm still feeling warm and antic.
Bubbly is 6x6"acrylic media and collage on panel.

Monday, May 23, 2011


Savory Thoughts:  Outside it was raining and chilly.  Inside the studio was warm conversation and hot cappucino.  And on the easels - gorgeous still lifes!  All savory.  So I took a stab at some still lifes, too.  I haven't done any in a while.  I decided to try simplified compositions on complex surfaces.
Nectar is 6x6" acrylic media and collage on panel.


Simplify: I tend toward the baroque.  So restraint is always a challenge.  I tried to pare back even more, with more geometric shapes and a limited palette.  I do like warm and cool violets with red-orange. 
Ambrosia is 6x6" acrylic media and collage on panel.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Toward Home I

Geometry Swallowed my Metaphysics - This was said by abstract expressionist Barnett Newman about Piet Mondrian.   No, I won't be comparing myself to the rectangle-loving Mondrian!  But I confess I'm interested in experimenting with some geometry inside the organic-scape.  It's that contrast that's sneakily captivating.  Metaphysics, move aside!
Toward Home is 6x6" acrylic media and collage on panel.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Moon Spilled Rubies

Like Pulling a Piano Out of a Swamp - I'm still trying to get back into the groove after too many vacations.  We've got a luscious new challenge, Savor the Flavor.  I've now got lots of intriguing starts in the studio.  Finishing is the challenge.  Struggling toward the finishes,   I must focus on:  a)  crafting good shapes, b) constantly reclaiming the light/dark pattern, c) rigorously staying on-composition.  In the famous  literary publication Southwest  Airlines Magazine (April 2011) actress, singer and musician Zoey Deschanel  talks about creating something where nothing existed before.  "Sometimes being creative" she says, " is like pulling a piano out of a swamp. "  That girl knows what she's talking about.
The Moon Spilled Rubies is 8x8" acrylic media and collage on panel.  

Monday, May 2, 2011

At the Edge of the Fields

Live, Laugh, Love - and Clean Your Room This weekend as we put together a teenager-sleepover, one of the kids texted home: "Dad, what's the plan for tomorrow?"  Dad texted back "Live, laugh, love - and clean your room."  Isn't this exactly right?  We had a lovely time displaying our Daily Painters Project work at the Encinitas Garden Festival this Saturday.  We lived, we laughed, we loved.   Now it's time to Clean our Room/Studio and begin to paint for our next challenge; Olive oil, Italian bread, rolling vineyards, sunbaked olive groves.  I've begun to warm up my palette after the Blues and Greens of the past two challenges.  Here I am remembering  Italian vistas and Savoring the Flavor.  I'll be focusing more on reds and yellows this month, lots of warmth.  
At the Edge of the Fields  is 8x8" acrylic on canvas.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Fallbrook Spring

Not knowing?   Many artists discuss the importance of knowing what you want your painting to look like before you start painting it.  Do the value sketch and stick to it.  Other artists say they have no idea how the painting will look when they're done.  They just get started and see what happens.  About planning paintings, Richard Diebenkorn is quoted as saying  "If I already knew how the painting was going to look, I wouldn't bother to paint it."  Some would just prefer the excitement of finding the painting as they go along.  Some have no choice in the matter. Like me!  I start out with an idea, but as I go along I get other ideas and pretty soon...well, something else emerges.  It's a constant state of discovery!  So I embrace the suspense of the process.  Let the magic creep in.
This is another in my Fallbrook series.  I've used a cooler palette to evoke the freshness of spring. 
Fallbrook, Spring is 6x6" acrylic media and collage on panel.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Across the Meadow - Aqua Mist

Deja Vu All Over Again!  A further effort in my series, Across the Meadow.  A continued study of texture and simplicity of composition.  
P.S. Today is Patriot's Day in Boston!  Longfellow echoes in my ear: "Listen my children and you shall hear/of the Midnight Ride of Paul Revere..."
Across the Meadow-Aqua Mist is 8x8", acrylic media and collage on panel.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Forest Garden

"Go often to the house of thy friend.  Weeds choke the unused path."  I rediscovered this wisdom from Ralph Waldo Emerson upon returning from vacation.  (I golfed and did not paint one stroke. )  You know where this story is going.  Upon re-entering the studio, it was just as if I had never painted before!    Ah, well.  Time to hack away some weeds, as we do in the garden, to find our friend.  
Forest Garden is 6x6" acrylic media and collage on panel.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Fallbrook Summer

 If not you, who?   Do you have those days when it's so hard to walk away from Life and get into the studio? The demands are urgent!  The tasks are important!  Yes, they are.  But.  At the same time, I think you have to remind yourself that when you paint, you create something - where nothing existed before.  You're making something out of the ether.  And if you don't do it, who will?   And if not now, when?  The family is never fed, the house is never clean.  You feed them, they're hungry again.  So forget it.  Go create something which will at least outlive the car repairs.

Fallbrook Summer is 6x6" acrylic media and collage on panel.