Still Making Art

Life Gets Better as I Get Older

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New Day 29 – A Little Humor

Or…what to do when you don’t have a big enough vase.


I am always on the lookout for interesting greens to use in a still life. Yesterday I was meeting a friend in Peterborough for coffee, and parked in front of a public building of some sort – perhaps private, I’m not sure. I really wasn’t looking at the building. What I saw was two large piles of greenery. The two bushes that had been growing on the front lawn had been cut down to the ground. Their beautiful limbs lay in two heaps. For a moment I was a bit stunned at the butchery. And then I was attracted to the beautiful gnarly branches and budding greens. I went over and helped myself. They seemed so alive and healthy, I couldn’t imagine why anyone would have cut them down.

I’m not sure what it is, but I think it’s boxwood, or a relative.

I popped it in my car and went off to meet my friend.

It’s funny how the size of things is dwarfed by the big outdoors. When I got the branch home I needed to put it in water because I’m not ready to set up a still life yet and I want it to stay as alive looking as possible. I dug out my biggest vase, but as you can imagine, it was not going to do. So…after considering my canning pot (still too small), the light bulb went off.

The trick now is to remember, before I point a visitor to the bathroom, that it’s occupied.

But don’t you agree that it’s a really lovely branch?

I’m not sure how I’m going to incorporate it into a still life – it being so tall and all. I suppose I could just paint it all by itself. I can see a nice tall painting.

Of course I could paint it as it is, residing in its current receptacle. But that doesn’t really appeal to me, though given the way art is these days, it might sell well! When I sent the above photo to my daughter, her fiance remarked, “It’s art!”




New Day 28 – Now To Sit With It

Well, I’m pretty much done except for the sitting with it to see if it needs some more tweaking. I don’t sign my paintings until I’ve sat with it for a day or two.

I’m pretty happy with the results.

I’m thinking of naming it “Two by Two by Two”. Guess why. [Note to self: Do NOT call it that!]

Progress 2-15-18

Now I go into the planning of my next painting. It’s all FUN!

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New Day 27 – It’s Coming Along

I seem to be able to paint a little faster these days. Plus, not having a day job helps!

Here’s my current progress.

Progress 2-14-18

You’ll notice that the “white” table cloth so far has not a spot of plain old white. There’s a mix here of blues, yellows, greens, off whites, purples etc. It’s just magic. I have always loved snow scenes where this amazing mix of colors say “snow”. If I were a landscape painter, I’d be doing snow scenes all the time.

I still do struggle though, and these mushrooms got wiped off in full before I finally trusted the process and kept on putting colors down in the hopes that they’d start looking like mushrooms eventually.

Here’s a closeup of what I see when I’m perched close to the canvas. You can imagine how one can only see a mess, and have doubts that one has got it right.

close up

Getting the right colors can be a real challenge as well. Just look at all the different colors in that one mushroom. If you painted the whole thing just one or two colors or tones, it would never look like a real mushroom. One has to fight all the time with the mind that says something is green when it’s more grey and purple and many different tones to boot.

I’m working with the limited drawmixpaint palette, which really teaches you to see. When I started out, and before I found Mark Carder, I had tubes of just about every color there is – well at least twenty or so. Because I wasn’t able at first to really see the color properly, I wasted so much paint mixing and mixing trying to get what I thought I saw. [Anyone want a lot of oil paints? (Mostly Windsor&Newton artist’s oils.) Let me know! I’ll give you a good deal.]

I should be done in a day or two.





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New Day 25 – After Several More Days

Moving right along. I am so enjoying being back to painting. Here’s my progress so far. I’m getting to the stage where I begin to be impatient to see it all done. Not because I’m not enjoying the process, but because I feel this may end up being one of my favorites.

2-11-2018 progress


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New Day 22 – Back to Oil Painting – YAY!

I can barely believe it has been eight – that’s right, EIGHT months, since I painted in oils. I’ve been making art of one kind and another, so at least I’ve been doing creative things. BUT…I had no idea what a void there was until I finally cleaned up from my last project, put up the canvas I had prepared months ago, sat down and began mixing colors. WOW! I felt this enormous peaceful wave much like the joy I feel when I return home after being away. This certainly makes me feel that this is what I should be doing – even though I have enjoyed the other activities.

Making a start

Making a Start

I took the photo (actually 4 prints put together) months ago. It’s been pinned to the board collecting dust. The fact that I had already prepared my canvas and made my sketch made it very easy to get stuck in again.

I’m starting with the most difficult (for me) section – the greenery. I am trying to paint at a distance and to be more suggestive than exact. I’m hoping I don’t have to wipe it all off and start again. We will see.

My set up

My setup

This is my small studio. That black cloth gets lowered across the window when the sun is pouring in (south facing), otherwise it’s half open for the plants.

I perch on that child’s wooden high chair while I paint which makes it easy to stand and move away to asses what I’ve done.

On the right I have all my tools. That black thing is my color checker built using the drawmixpaint design video. If you’ve followed this blog you’ll know that I now use laminate to check most of my colors. But every once in a while I find I need to use the old checker.


Tools of the trade

See – when I start out my palette isn’t to bad. It will only take a few days for it to become a mess.

Those small round jars contain my brush dip (see genevafineart). The dip comes in a large bottle from which I dispense a small amount into these little artichoke jars. If you have not yet discovered drawmixpaint and their products at genevafineart, I very heartily recommend them. The brush dip allows you to walk away from painting without having to clean the brushes. I’m not sure if it works for all oil paints, but it does with the Geneva oils which I use, and for which the dip was designed.

Today when I was putting dabs of my Geneva paints on my palette, I made a discovery.  I can’t believe it took me this long to figure it out. The paint tubes have two ways of opening them, one using the flip top, and the other unscrewing the whole top to reveal a tiny hole through which the paint is squeezed. I will confess that I had not been really happy with the tubes because the caps and my fingers were always getting paint covered when squeezing the paint out. BUT today I was using a new tube, and had to unscrew the top to peel off the seal. DUH…I said to myself, I should be unscrewing the whole top to squeeze out the paint rather than using the flip open method. Instant clean process! I pass this on just in case there are others a little slow to make this discovery!

My palette is a Masterson palette box. I originally purchased one for acrylic painting which was fabulous – for those of you using acrylics.  It keeps your paints moist for days! Then I purchased one for oils. What I then did was have a piece of glass cut to fit the box, and under the glass I placed brown paper from a paper bag. I now use both boxes for oils. One is too small for most paintings. The glass, naturally, makes cleanup with a razor blade extremely easy. I just put the air tight lid on after painting, dip my brushes, and walk away. So easy!

One more note: I often recommend sites or products – NOT from any affiliation, personal relationship, or for financial gain. I do so simply to spread the word on places and things which I think are excellent.



New Day 21 – Playing With Paint-Pouring

I got bitten by the flow-paint bug. If you haven’t yet discovered the hundreds of videos of flow painting, don’t go looking unless you are ready for a great distraction. I can’t remember just how I came upon this craze, but one video and I was eager to try my hand at it. There is a quality about it that reminds me of blown glass.

Basically it just what it sound like – pouring paint over a canvas/board/whatever, and seeing what happens. Much of it is quite magical.

There’s an artist out there who pours on ceramic tiles, and since I happen to have two boxes of  tiles in my attic that were here when I bought the house, that’s what I decided to use. Later I moved on to preparing wood and pouring on that. Most of ones time is spent making frames, preparing wood etc. The paint pouring (which is really FUN) takes only a few minutes. But the excitement of seeing what happens is irresistible.

Here are a few results. I’m planning to sell these on ETSY as everyone who has seen them, loves them.

Sample framed tiles copy


IMG_8292 small           Round #2 - terrible lighting small



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New Day 20 – “Nana’s Cookie Jar” Finished

Well – I’m done!

I’m calling this “Nana’s Cookie Jar” because the cookie jar was the item around which I created the still life. And, of course, this is my grandmother’s cookie jar. This sat on a small bureau in the dining room of my grandmother’s summer house at Merrymount on Lake Winnipesaukee. My sister, brother, and I spent our entire summers there throughout most of our childhood. Nana made cookies often, and we would sneak into the dining room when she was napping to steal cookies. There was an art to getting the lid off this cookie jar without the lid making its very tell-tale grating noise. Fortunately Nana also had a larger cookie jar on the same bureau that had a lid more quietly removed.

This cookie jar is one of the few things I have that belonged to Nana. I treasure it.

Here’s the finished product. It’s 24″ x 16″ – oil on linen. [Note: This is a pre-varnish photo, so the blacks may have matte areas that vanish when varnished.]

IMG_7857 - Nana's Cookie Jar - pre varnish