Almost June

Spring has gotten away from me! I’ve missed painting apple blossoms, lilacs, dogwoods, bluebells, daffodils, violets, tulips…the list goes on and on. So today, I’m happy for quince.

Burst of Yellow

The forsythia is in bloom once again– a glorious burst of yellow– which led me to pull this from the archives. You have to click on it to view it larger for the full effect. Enjoy!

Fast and Loose

Short on time but long on patience, I often need to quickly put pen to paper in my journal, get a first wash of color down, and then come back to finish later. The result is a journal full of sketches that took five minutes to start but five days to finish. I don’t really mind—working fast and loose has its merits. For one, my sketchbook would be empty if I waited until I had a big block of time for art. It has improved my hand-eye coordination. And it has kept… Read More

Imperfect

What is the value of imperfection? I’ve been mulling over that question as it pertains to artwork for a few years and still, I don’t have a clear answer. I love the work of natural science illustrators, for whom accuracy, precision, and beauty are paramount. Yet each time my own artwork approaches that kind of perfection, it somehow seems to be missing something. Embracing imperfection, which, after all, is what so much of life is about, increasingly appeals to me. Letting go, accepting, and finding beauty are good lessons to learn on… Read More

Runner Beans

The last garden vegetables left to harvest include a few scarlet runner beans that I’ve had my eye on since their red flowers bloomed in August. I didn’t make time to paint them then, but didn’t want to miss them altogether. I sketched directly in ink and then added watercolor to the foreground layer. I went back in and painted an additional layer of light watercolor vines and beans to add more depth. The shadows are really important to making this work because they create the illusion of light and depth. Done… Read More

Lessons from a Carrot

At the recent workshop I led in Anacortes, Washington, we started off with some back-to-basics drawing and painting techniques. Participants practiced blind contour and gesture drawings; did short, timed sketches; worked in ink to keep a drawing flow going without erasures; and put a number of concepts together while painting vegetables. Here’s my demo painting, which I went back to later to add tips from the lesson. Isn’t it great that we can learn so much from a carrot?

Poetry of Onions

“…Let me keep my mind on what matters, which is my work, which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished…” – Mary Oliver, Messenger I spent a recent rainy morning with two artist friends at Walker Farm in Brattleboro, Vermont. The sunflowers and peaches, carrots and tomatoes, and a riot of bright-colored petunias in the greenhouse were a painter’s dream. But somehow I found myself drawn to an old shed, where several bushels of onions caught the dim light. If you haven’t read Mary Oliver’s poem, Messenger, I recommend it… Read More

Season of Abundance

It is the season of abundance. Farm stands and farmer’s markets overflow with luscious color and variety. Gardens are ripening toward their fullest beauty. I am utterly drawn in. Forgive me if you are a lover of cabbage. Aside from when it is disguised in coleslaw or egg rolls, I find cabbage hard to enjoy…except when painting it. Then the lovely blending of purples and greens and blues, of leaf shapes and of the spaces between them reveal the cabbage’s true beauty. I got down on the ground for this perspective of… Read More

Outdoor Canvas

I’ve been creating a new perennial garden this week, which has left little time (or energy) for painting. Still, I had to sneak in a page of plants to record what’s going in the ground. I love taking the plants out of their containers and seeing the roots all wound round or tangled. I could get lost sketching them in detail, but then my garden would still be sitting in pots. So I am content (for now) to use my yard as an outdoor canvas, and to sketch with soil and plants… Read More

Why Sketchbooks Work

“The reason that sketchbooks work is that they don’t count.” –Craig Frazier, illustrator The beauty of a sketchbook is that it is simply that: a sketchbook. It’s a place to do what you want as an artist. It is ideas and experience and creativity and experimentation crammed between two covers. One blank page after another, it becomes something extraordinary when filled earnestly and honestly. Yet, in the end, it doesn’t really count. And that is a beautiful thing, too. There is no price tag, no commission, no gallery wall waiting for it…. Read More