Monday, November 24, 2008


Ok this is a foray into design. I've been doing mandalas as well as painting, and for what ever reason they have been coming out quite nicely So I opened a shop on Zazzle. This is me:  I make the designs and they print them and then they put them up for sale I am thinking that some of my other art work would fit in well too as cards or posters. They also have stamps and shoes, which are so much fun to design. 
I have gotten interested in mandalas and also in labrynths, which I don't think I spelled correctly. 
Anyway I walked a labrynth that is located on the bluffs above Lake Michigan last week. It was an interesting experience, very soothing I couldn't help but think that it was very much like life. You think you are headed in one direction and suddenly you are headed in another, only to switch back again. I think that is the where the phrase going around in circles comes from.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Cast drawing and Values

So even if cast drawing is really, really difficult it really, really pays off in the end, hopefully. It helps train your eye to all the details and nuances of the form. It also helps you see the lights and darks, the values, in your subject. It is seeing these lights and darks that is the backbone of all picture making. It isn't color that is vitally important, unless you're looking at a stoplight and then its really important, but it's value, the lights and darks, that make things recognisable to the human eye. To see what I mean look at the three pictures. One is the picture as it was originally with both value and color, one is the picture with color and no value, and one with value and no color. The one without value is almost unrecognisable. The one with value, the black and white one, looks exactly like a tree and water. Even though we see in color, the fact that we also see in values is much more important.  A good way to begin  to see values in your subject is to squint as you are looking at it. Scrunch up your eyes, look through your lashes, and the color is reduced while the relative values remain. This actually works, although people will look at you funny. I was taught this technique by a very good artist as we were standing in a *very* upscale art museum. There we both stood like a couple of fools, smack dab in front of the Rodin statue our eyes reduced to slits, looking for values, while the other patrons made a wide detour around us. I've never felt so much like an artist in my life.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Drawing Project

I've been working on something called a "cast drawing" which is drawing pictures of white plaster casts and making them as exact as possible. Its really hard. I've done it before, but it doesn't get any easier, apparently. It's a good way to sharpen your perception  and accuracy in seeing. It's also really hard .....  did I mention that before?  Right. I thought I did. Anyway this is a picture of my set up, with the casts on the left and the drawing in the first stages on the right. The method involves moving a couple of feet away from the drawing, looking at the casts, and then moving up to the paper and drawing what you saw. Then you move back to the previous place and check if the marks you made are correct. And repeat and repeat. And repeat until the drawing is finished. It is how all artists were trained, right up to the 20th century. Even Picasso had to do this and I think its why he invented cubism. He just decided that he wasn't ever going to do that again. Because it's really hard.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Today is Armistice Day. It was created after WWI to commerate the end of that terrible war and to honor the 20 million people who died in it. My mom said she never forgot seeing one of the boys from her little village in Wisconsin coming home after fighting in the trenches of France. She said he was in full uniform and he marched up the road as straight as a ramrod until he reached the turn in road that would lead him to his home. There he stopped at the top of the hill and stood for the longest time, just gazing out over at the beautiful landscape below.  Then he turned and walked down the hill to his house and family. I remember him as a wizened old man, living with only his dog in a tiny cabin. The image below is one I found years ago. I don't know the names of the men, or where it was taken. In a way, its anonymity makes it a tribute to all the soldiers from so very long ago who sacrificed so much. But having said that, this one is for August Wellnitz.  ten-HUT!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Summer into Fall

 Summer is gone, fall is here and it's more beautiful than ever on the Rock River. The trees are mainly Silver Maples and so lovely. The temperature was 70F+ (21C+)all week, very rare for us at this time of year. I took advantage by walking in the dog park. The dog thought that was a good plan, too.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Crafty Stuff

And now for something completely different. I've been fooling around with a graphics program called "Illustrator" and came up with a bunch of designs for scrap booking or maybe scrabble tile jewelry. I put a small sample on the left to show you. Its fun for me to do something really the complete opposite of what I normally do. Gives you a better perspective on where you are going for one thing and I didn't have to wash out any brushes for another. If anyone is interested in a .pdf file, let me know. I think I'll have these up at Etsy

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Black-Eyed Susans

Black-eyed susan daisies done in gouache. They are a mid summer flower, and very reliable. These are growing by my garage door. This is a link to Jungs Seed company, a Wisconsin seed firm that my family has been going to since my Granddads' time. They are celebrating "100 years of growing", but that is two years less than my aunt who is 102.(So we win!!) She was a good customer and this year helped me pick out some CherryBelle radishes to plant.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Old Barn

I went out painting last week and came back with this. It's one of those plein aire paintings, also known as 'painted all-at-once
outside, don't worry I brushed off most of the bugs' paintings.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Parrot and Roses

She loves to be outside, and I think she likes the color red. A few years ago she flew away out of an open door and was gone for four days.
Unbelievably, I found her and she was a very hungry bird. Now she is clipped, no more adventures for her. There are Cooper's Hawks here and Great Horned Owls, too, so it's a dangerous world for little parrots.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Ribbon Work

A ribbon embroidery pendant, with beads and cameo. I think I am going to try more of these. I haven't done much embroidery as of late, for which I am very sorry. I was taught to embroider when I was four, by our neighbor. She grew up as an orphan in pre-WWI Hungary, and was taught to embroider by the nuns as a means to support herself. After she came to America, she was widowed, and in fact supported her four children by doing embroidery for specialty stores. She was a very interesting woman, and would talk about hearing the wonderful gypsy violinists playing on the street corners of Budapest.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Summer roses

It's rose time. Most of my roses only bloom once a year, so I have to hurry if I want to do a picture of them. This is gouache on illustration board. P.S. It's finally stopped raining!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008


Ahhh, the weather is gloomy, its rainy and cold, it's time to take a picture of a beautiful cow. It's got horns, too.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Ginger Jar and Peaches

This is a ginger jar I bought for $15.00 at a local antique store. It turns out to be from the 18th or very early 19th century. I don't know if that makes it more valuable, but it makes it more interesting than it already is. The peaches are early 21st century.


I'm not sure that scarecrows really work. I think the crows are too savvy by now to pay them much attention. I'm trying to think of what medieval Book of Days showed one in a farmer's field. It wasn't working too well way back then, either, as I remember.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Peaches and bowl

Another peach picture. I like peaches.
It's gouache about 8"x10".(20x25 centimeters) I have another I want to do with a ginger jar.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Lost Parrot

What do you do when your parrot disappears and you can't find her anywhere?
You look in the cupboard, of course!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Spring at the Park

Spring is really here. The golfers across from the park are in full force today. Meanwhile this side of the park stays on the less groomed, but still on the pretty side.(like some dogs I could mention)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Pear Tree II

The same pear tree as in an earlier post. It got more beautiful!

Ghost #2

Yup. Another *ghost* picture. Same place as the last one. On the one hand, I think its just a combination of light and branches, on the other hand, I dunno. I've taken pictures there before and since, and I haven't found anything even remotely spooky in any of them. And the place doesn't feel spooky either, at least to me it doesn't.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Louie at the park

Too nice to stay in today( are you noticing a trend here?). So Louie and me went to the park to see what we could see. I took some pictures, and Louie did a little swimming. This him on the upper path to the meadow.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Peach Study

This is a fast gouache study for a new still life I want to try, but I think I'm going to change the composition a little for the final painting. The bottle is still too central for my liking and the background too warm. Move everything a little to the right, cool down the background and it'll look much better. ( I hope.) I was using the golden section to determine the proportions, or trying to anyway. I need more practice with that, I think. It took about 90 minutes to paint, and it'll help to determine the final picture that I want to do in oil. If I ever get it all working together, I think it'll be a nice painting.
The problem with using fresh fruit is that it never stays fresh for long, and I don't always want to work that fast. On the other hand, it was really tasty. Next time I'll bake a shortcake to go with it.

Sunday, May 18, 2008


OK. This is my ghost picture. It's taken at a cemetery for nuns and priests. I didn't notice anything until I downloaded to my computer. To the left of the arrow, it looks like there is a nun hovering over the headstones. She has what appears to be a traditional habit, with a long dark veil and seems to be looking a little to the right side of the picture. All I can say there was no one around when I took the picture. Besides I think she'd be about 15 feet tall, if she was real, that is. I think that it is partly a trick of the eye. I think that the light and branches combined to create the illusion of a nun. On the other hand, what are the odds that this particular illusion would occur in a nun's cemetery? In the end,I don't quite know what to make of it.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Fallen tree

Today was just one of those perfect Spring days. Warm, but not too warm. Sunny but with a few nifty clouds to keep it interesting. So the dog and me went to the park to paint. This is a different park from the dog park, but dogs are allowed anyway. It's located on the St. Francis Seminary grounds. Its a lovely little woods with bridges and a stream running through it. The buildings on the grounds include the Archbishops palace, a seminary, a former girls school that has been turned into a really interesting collection of non-profit businesses and a nun's retirement home. It's also supposedly haunted.
I sat down, used water from the stream for the paint, and painted this picture. Louie the dog helped by being cute, laying next to me and offering an occasional comment. He did a good job, I think.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Pear tree

It's spring and the trees are blooming. I went to the Bridge Between because I had to get out into the real country, and there it was, a real live blooming pear tree. It'll make a great drawing. The Bridge is getting ready for the growing season, mulching and planting seeds. Everything they grow is organic, including the homegrown eggs. It's all wonderfully tasty, too.
I personally am at war with the weed called Creeping Charlie or Gill Over the Ground. Since all's fair in love and war, chemicals are shortly going to make an appearance. If anyone can tell me how to kill off this stuff, please, I'm begging you. It's everywhere.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

More Gouache

This is titled "Hall of the Mountain King", and it is an imaginary scene done in more of the that glurpy gouache. I'm starting to like painting with it more and more. This was an exercise in composition for a class I'm taking, I was supposed to get the viewers eye to move around the picture. Maybe I did and maybe I didn't, but I'll tell you a secret, I'm really really happy with the way this turned out. I hope it shows well on other monitors, the colors are rich but not garish.

Saturday, March 15, 2008


This is a drawing of the Root River in my beloved dog park. It was done for a class I'm taking to work on my painting technique. For everyone wondering about the procedure, first you find a subject( in this case, the river), then you draw thumbnail pictures, which are little pictures about 2 inches(50mm.)or so, square. When you have one you like, you make a comprehensive drawing, which is what this is. It's a little more finished than it has to be, but it is basically a blueprint for the painting. Next comes the painting itself, and in this case it will be a class assignment. I liked the drawing so much I thought I'd put it up and I may make another on better paper, but extend the lighter reflective part of the river more to the left.

Sunday, February 17, 2008


This is painted with gouache, a kind of opaque watercolor. The word gouache comes from the Italian word "guazzo", which means either splash, puddle or muddy pool, depending on your source. I'm voting for something connected with the concept of mud. Its really hard to use. This is a picture of three geese waiting for their dinner.

Thursday, January 03, 2008


I've been practicing my drawing more. Drawing is supposed to be the basis of all painting, and so I thought I would see if I could improve my paintings by making portraits of fruits and vegetables. I met this very personable squash last month at a farmers market and I think I've captured his stoic, yet charming, nature. I've been using graphite and white chalk on Canson Mi Teinte paper. I think I need to coat it with something, the graphite gets slippery and smeary really fast and that makes it hard to work with.

Its Spring!

I found these in a garden center, nestled in the Astilbe.