Thursday, December 27, 2012

Great end of year painting completions & sales!

Recently I completed a commission for a Chiropractor who had agreed to barter services for our daughter when she was eleven.  Our daughter is now 22, so this agreement has been pending for years and years.  At the time our Chiropractor wanted to wait until her youngest son was older before giving me a photo to use for a portrait.  A year ago she sent me a jpg of her two sons, then ages 3 & 5.  They are now 8 & 10, so you can see how this assignment has been pending.  On a positive note, my ability to paint figures & portraits has increased over the years so she did receive a much better painting than I could have produced 11 years ago.

Here is the original photo:

Initially I decided to work from an 8 x 10 print to create a 16 x 20 painting.  That way I could use a 1 inch grid on the reference to a 2 inch grid on the canvas to transfer the image.  I am amazed at how easy it is to create an image if you take the time to use a grid.  You just draw what is in each square and magically the image appears.  Of course, once you start painting the lines disappear so you have to adjust the painting with brushwork, but gridding is a great time saver, in my opinion.  I also used orange paint to prime the canvas to "kill" the white before starting to block it in.  I later found the orange pretty distracting and covered it up. Sometimes having a bright color "peek" out between brushstrokes adds liveliness to the painting.

Working upside down is also a terrific way to lay in an under painting. It keeps you from getting distracted by small details as the painting develops.  I found myself stuck at this point and became distracted by my pastels for a while.  A few months passed...

In November I attended a three day workshop with Dreama Tolle Perry (see previous blog post) that re-energized my commitment to painting in oils.  I came home and used some of the skills developed in that workshop to get cracking on this commission.  I was thrilled to deliver it just before Christmas.

I call the image "Looking for Trouble" because two boys with sticks usually are!

The client was very happy with the painting.  I could have fiddled around with it for a couple of more months, but once she saw the image and loved it I knew it was done.  Artists are rarely DONE when they stop painting!  The important thing is to keep starting new paintings and learning new things, not simply repainting one painting over & over again.

This has been a wonderful fall.  I have been blessed to sell 4 paintings recently plus delivering this commission.  It gives me great pleasure when work goes out into the world to new homes!

Here are the pieces that have been sold:

Last Light, Pastel

I failed to get a good image of this piece before framing it.  This is a bit dark but captures the feel of it.  I love the water just at sun rise or set.

Autumn Up North, Pastel

This piece went to the same collector as a surprise for his wife for Christmas.

Both of the paintings below sold during the December Essex Studios Art Walk.

It is my intention to participate in a painting challenge in January.  I will post here how it goes.  Meanwhile, have a healthy & prosperous 2013.  May you be who you are, love what you have and do what you can do!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Learning a new way of thinking about painting...

Recently I was honored to be able to attend a workshop with Dreama Tolle Perry at the Artists Attic in Lexington, KY. (see

I knew I loved the colorful, juiciness of Dreama's paintings and loved reading her blog posts.  I definitely suggest you sign up to receive them as well.  I have been able to travel vicariously to both France & Italy by getting her posts.  I really admire that her workshops are always full and her paintings sell like hotcakes.  I knew I could learn from her attitude about marketing her work.  The first thing I discovered is that her "secret weapon" is her husband!  He helps her handle the sales aspect of the workshops while she does the inspiration & teaching portion.

The Artists' Attic is located in Victorian Square, a fascinating development near Rupp Arena in downtown Lexington.  Parking was very easy & I loved exploring the galleries and shops during our lunch breaks.  (

Dreama had a great way of leveling the playing field each day by having us all work from the same reference image.  The 12x12 demo painting was also the same image.  I enjoyed not being "attached" to the image.  It allowed me to focus on painting instead.

Unlike many other workshop experiences I have had, Dreama painted the demo in stages rather than paint all morning while we watched.  She showed how she started a painting, then had us go paint.  Then she did the middle layer & we painted it too.  Finally she added the "sparkle".  Her process is "wet in wet" or alla prima (all at once).  No waiting for the oil paint to dry...

The first layer is dark but transparent.  This allows the white of the gessoboard to sparkle through the paint:

underpainting with transparent colors
 Looks pretty rough, eh?

Next layer we start adding some opaque (non transparent) colors and begin defining the shapes more:

 The idea is to let the under painting peek through and influence the new layers.

Final, signed painting

 It was fascinating to let the colors play together and NOT get all hung up on exact portrayal of the image.  Quite frankly I loved it!

Here is a group shot of the images created in the first day of painting:

On the final afternoon we worked with our own images, aka flying without a net:
Transparent underpainting

middle phase.  Dreama helped me define the umbrella

Giverny Tea Shop
All in all the workshop was time well spent.  At one point on the final day I was feeling really whiney about my painting & Dreama said "I've seen your painting & you're fine.  Stop whining!"  With a smile of course!  Sometimes we just need someone to say "have faith, it will turn out just fine..."  I think professional artists just know that every painting goes through the "uglies".

Friday, August 24, 2012

Marion's Print Shop is open!

I have decided to work with ImageKind to offer reproductions of some of my work.  The print shop web address is:

There are many options to choose from and prints offered are archival.  Have fun exploring!

Click here for Marion's Print Shop
You can also order merchandise at
Click here for Marion's CafePress store

HINT: images look better on white tshirts.  I found the fit a bit small so you might want to order one size up as well.  If you are unhappy with your order CafePress will easily accept returns.

It's exciting to be able to offer these options!

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

This is my latest pastel, inspired by a photo I took last May while at Monet's garden in Giverny, France.  It is 16x20, on an Ampersand grey sanded panel.  It is not complete but is coming along nicely.  I have so many photos from this fabulous trip.  Thanks to Verdis Norton & ASEA, Rob & I were able to spend two weeks in Paris with one night in Giverny.  Here we are in Monet's Garden:

Being associated with ASEA is an honor and Rob continues to be supportive, especially after he won this trip at the ASEA 2010 "Launch" convention at the Paris Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, NV.  As an artist, being able to explore Paris was a dream come true.

As you can see, I was less thrilled to be at the top of the Eiffel Tower!  The view outside was amazing though...

Hard to believe this trip was almost a year ago.  It seems like yesterday.  I dream of wandering around Paris & Giverny.  Of the people, food & landscapes.  Travel truly does expand your mind and open your heart.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Thanks to Amy Yosmali of AY Designs ( for helping me create this updated website. Alas the old Creative Catalyst Studio site crashed and burned. Since Microsoft abandoned FrontPage in 2003 I guess it's time for me to embrace blogging! Stay tuned...

The next Essex Studios Art Walk will be March 2 & 3 (6-11 pm). Be sure to stop in to Creative Catalyst Studio (#231) and say hello!