Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Prodigal Cat and Progress on My Cow Painting

I'm enclosing a photo of my "prodigal" cat tonight. She's been gone for two months (since 1 Nov) and we found her at the old house site by the bay tonight. This is the 14th time (if I've counted right) that she has disappeared from the house we are living in now and returned to our old house on Bay Front Road. Our bay house was damaged during Hurricane Katrina. We immediately moved to a house approximately 2 miles away, with the intention initially of repairing the bay house. Although the bay house was repairable, due to the uncertainties of building permits, FEMA rules and high insurance, and we ended up selling the house. However, our cat Abbie apparently continues to want to go back home by the bay. She has repeatedly disappeared, sometimes for several months at a time - and we always eventually find her back at the old bayhouse. One time she was gone for 7 months! Anyway, we found her again tonight after going there to call for her. She seems quite comfortably back at home with us tonight. Thinner but not too much the worse for wear.

I'm also including some "teaser" previews of the cow/bull painting I've been working on. I'm still working to finish this painting hopefully by the new year. I have another one I need to start and finish prior to the end of February to be ready for the upcoming cow show.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Eve Bonfires on the Mississippi River

I hope y'all had a good Christmas so far. We spent a couple of days in New Orleans so we could see them light the bonfires on the Mississippi River levees. During a visit to New Orleans last year a week before Christmas, my husband and I drove up River Road north of New Orleans and saw them building the bonfire structures on the river levees. We decided this year we would go back and watch them actually light the bonfires. This is a tradition practiced every Christmas Eve by several small towns along the river, and legend has it that the lighted bonfires were meant to guide Santa safely down the river with his Christmas loot. Anyway, we settled in at a small town called Gramercy -really there are three towns in a row - Gramercy, Lutcher and Paulina - that all have a concentration of bonfires. The locals also set off fireworks during the event, which makes it very festive. Some of the bonfire structures were also laced with firecrackers for additional sound effects. One was built to resemble a bulldozer. Here are a couple of photos before the lighting, during the lighting, and showing off some of the fireworks. You might want to catch these festivities next Christmas Eve.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Man with a Chainsaw

I've let the Christmas holidays distract me - what with shopping for gifts, addressing christmas cards, christmas parties, etc. I've also been trying to work more on my large cow painting, trying to finish it before the end of the month so I can start another one and complete it in time for the cow show in March and April (I'm organizing a cow show called "Divine Bovines", with 8-10 artists showing their artwork on a cow theme). Anyway, in order to not let this blog be dormant for too long, I thought I'd post an older painting. I've said I like to paint people, so here is one of the "portraits" I painted of my husband in his favorite venue - chain-sawing! He loves to work in the woods sawing down dead timber or making up firewood. Lately he's been clearing an area on some property we own down by the bay for a potential house site. This painting is called "A Man and His Chainsaw" (2001), acrylic on canvas, 24" x 30" (one of my favorite size formats). I loved painting the squinting expression on his face, the denim for the overalls, and the shadow on the storage shed in our back yard. I named this after a painting in the Mobile Museum of Art, that I've admired for some time, of a depression era farmer/woodmen in his overalls and straw hat titled "A Man and His Saw". But this painting is sans hat.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Figure Group Display at Space 301!

Last night (Friday) was the December LODA Artwalk, where the galleries on and about Lower Dauphin Street stay open late for a communal reception. Thursday night was also our last session of Figure Group for this term. Space 301 asked us to display artwork generated during this fall term for the LODA reception, and most of us participated. We set the room up similar to one of our sessions, and mounted samples of our work in various creative (and not so creative) ways. Here's a photo of the layout of the room, and some samples of our artwork. Artists whose work is displayed below include myself, Gail Bramer, Kathy Friedline, Mark Johnson, Mary Elizabeth Kimbrough, Claire Noojin, and Missy Patrick (I did not get photos of all the artists' work - but Lydia Host's work is displayed on Mary Elizabeth's blog). As you can see, we have so many different styles. Our sessions start back up in early January.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Nostalgic Chair and Pear

Nothing newly completed to post tonight, but I thought I'd post the painting I entered in the Chairs and Pears exhibit this spring at the Mobile Regional Library. This was a themed exhibit organized/curated by Kathy Friedline. Kathy asked many of the artists in the community to prepare artwork including either chairs or pears (or both). Kathy had done quite a few delightful paintings of pears, and a recent one of several pears cavorting and hiding around a stuffed armchair, quite amusing and fun. It sounded like it would be a fun theme for an exhibit. Anyway, the art community responded royally and we had a lively and fun show. I did this painting of one of the adirondak chairs my husband made for me when we lived in the bayhouse on Mobile Bay. I named it "Nostalgic Chair and Pear" because this chair was washed away by Hurricane Katrina, along with most of the yard and the back of our house. He had sized the chair to my body, and prepared the slant of the back to be most comfortable for me. I really miss that chair. The pear was to add a bit of spunk. This is 24" x 30" acrylic on canvas.

I used a quick and loose painting technique over a sienna underpainting, similar to the technique taught by Bill Harrison in Fairhope, based on a workshop I took with several of my Mama Lisa friends). Oh - the Mama Lisas is our group of "seasoned" ladies who decided to paint together on a regular basis. We usually meet monthly at one of our homes, and paint whatever strikes our fancy. We provide motivation and inspiration to each other to keep on working to improve our artwork. Kathy Friedline is one of our Mamas. Jami Buck, Gail Bramer and Thayer Dodd, who I've been plein air painting with, are also Mamas. I'll also mention the other Mamas from time to time in this blog.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Dodd Nursery and some recent Figure Drawings

Last Wednesday we met for plein air painting at Thayer's nursery (Dodd and Dodd Nursery). Thayer and Tom Dodd specialize in native plants and we were treated then to a tour of the greenhouses and some of Thayer's stock plants. Here is the painting I did of several of the greenhouses and rows of vegetation stacked in front. Not much was blooming this time of year, but it was amazing all the different colors in the vegetation and the different textures - more challenges for the plein air painter! This is oil on 9" x 12" gesso board.

I also promised to post a couple of recent figure drawings - here are two from last Thursday's group session. These are in watercolor - I really love painting with Quinacridone Gold, since you can produce such a wide range of tones. This is our volunteer model, who did a great job on the spur of the moment. She seemed very relaxed and was also very talkative, we all had a great chat while drawing! We decided she should indeed keep her glasses on, and that was fun to draw as well. This Thursday will be our last session until after the first of the year. We've had alot of fun this time.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Miniature Art Show Closes, Plein Air and Figure Group

Dr. Java Coffeehouse was so good to sponsor the first annual miniature art show for the State of Alabama, called the Spanish Moss Juried Miniature Art Show of the Southeast. This was a wonderful show of small and miniature art, all pieces to be 8" x 10" or less, with many truly high quality miniature art pieces from all over the U.S. and several other countries. I hope you had a chance to take in the show and a cup of java. The Dr. Java folks should be thanked for taking the initiative and their special efforts to sponsor this show - which was of great benefit to the local arts community. The show closed on Dec 2nd, and I picked up my artwork on Wednesday afternoon. This is just a simple little pen and ink (image size is approx. 4.5" x 4.0"), but I thought it looked like the pears were having a conversation just between the two of them. Sorry about the quality of the photo, which was taken with the paper under glass, but you can get the impression of the piece.

Wednesday morning I also met with Jami Buck, Missy Patrick and Thayer Dodd at Thayer's nursery in Semmes (Dodd and Dodd Nursery) to do some plein air painting. We painted the green houses, rows of plant stock, and surrounding landscapes under cool and partly cloudy conditions. I'll post my oil sketch after I do a little touchup on it.

Thursday night was our weekly figure group session and I'll post some sketches from our session in my next blog posting. We had a great session, even though our official model did not show up. One of our artists who had shown up for the first time last night agreed to pose for us, and she did a great job of modeling. I think some of our artists were truly inspired last night! Also, Devlin Wilson, who serves as our group moderator, announced last night that Space 301 wants our figure group to display samples of our work during the LODA Art Walk next weekend. So we will be on display! We have a good time and accomplish some good work during these sessions. Check out Mary Elizabeth's blog to see some photos of our group and sample artwork from the sessions.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


This is Thanksgiving week, and no plein air painting and no figure group this week. I am working on my large white cow painting, trying to finish it this month! So nothing new this week to post. Instead, I thought I'd post a painting I did of my hairdresser's koi fish that I entered into the People's Art Exhibition at Space 301 this summer (July-September). The fish were fun to paint, but the water was a bit challenging for me. This is acrylic on canvas, titled "Connie's Koi No. 1". I love Connie's wonderful little garden with lots of beautiful flowers and exotic plants, and two small koi ponds. This is a composite of the fish from the two separate ponds. We can recognize the individual koi fish in this painting. Shortly after this painting was finished, the koi in the lower right corner died - so this is sort of a memorium.

I also did a quick little pen and ink of Connie's koi for one of the Mobile Art Association meeting announcement postcards earlier this year. Here it is as well.

I have taken a slew of photos of Connie's koi fish and hope to eventually start a series of koi paintings. They are so colorful and lively - you can't help but show movement in your paintings.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Plein Air Painting on Dauphin Street, ETC....

Yesterday was Thursday and a busy day. In the morning I met downtown on Dauphin Street with two of my plein air buddies: Missy Patrick and Lydia Host. We met at Cathedral Square Gallery, and painted from the nearby street corner. Lydia and Missy did small oil paintings looking east up Dauphin Street. I had a great view of the opposite street corner including Cafe 615 and the new Bull Restaurant, both in the same block as Winzell's. It was a cool but sunny and clear day - good light for plein air. I almost finished my watercolor onsite. Had to make it to Figure Group last night; so I finished the watercolor tonight. I was pleased with the finished product, mostly because it has some nice colors in it - yellow building, green vines, green door, yellow sign, red sign.... Made for a fun painting. The biggest challenge was painting in the reflections in all the windows. Here is the finished product.

Once I finished this, it made me want to finish another previous plein air watercolor I started last month but never completed. Here is my watercolor of the Mobile Harbor waterfront from the last time Missy, Lydia, Thayer Dodd and I got together. I was able to finish it because Thayer was good enough to email me a photo of the ship dock she had taken that day. Tonight I added some color to the water in the river, and worked on adding further contrast to the shadows and a couple more details. It is still a little rough, but I think it captures the bustle of the port activity that day.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Figure Group and Miniature Art

Well I promised to post some figure drawings from our Figure Group sessions. We meet on Thursday nights at Space 301 studio space. We usually have 8 or 10 sessions in the spring and again in the fall. This is a great opportunity for drawing or painting the figure, and experiencing comraderie with fellow artists. Here are some recent drawings from the last 3 sessions - most of these are around 20 minute poses. I finished off the last 2 drawings when I got home.

Also, on Saturday this weekend was the opening reception for the Spanish Moss Miniature Art Show sponsored by Dr. Java Coffeehouse. I entered a small pen & ink of two pears, and was very pleased that it got juried into the show. The show will hang at Dr. Java's until 2 December. It is a great "little" show - lots of amazingly done miniature art. Check it out - this is a great excuse to enjoy artwork over a hot cup of latte. My drawing is around 4" x 4", so it is not really miniature, but it met the requirements for this show (all work 8" x 10" or smaller). Will post photo of the drawing when I bring it back home.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Plein Air, Reception and Figure Group!

Tuesday was Veteran's Day and was a day that several of us finally got to do some plein air painting. Lydia Host and Mary Elizabeth Kimbrough painted in the morning, and Jami Buck, Gail Bramer and I painted in the afternoon (all due to conflicting schedules). But we all painted at Langan Park and the weather was beautiful - kind of an Indian Summer type of day with the trees showing alot of color not necessarily typical of the southern Gulf coast.

Here is my plein air painting attempt from Tuesday at the park. This is oil on board. I had trouble at first preventing the paint from sliding right off the board, but finally got the knack of it and tried to make it work for me by scratching off paint for effect. It is interesting to compare what others did with this beautiful day in the park. I checked Lydia's and Mary Elizabeth's blogs and they were apparently able to focus in a little closer. But this was a learning experience for me to capture all the different textures for the different vegetation, as well as the reflections in the lake.

Tonight is Missy Patrick's reception for her solo show at Gallery 54. Will go straight from there to our Figure Group session, which is held at Space 301 downtown. We have a really good group and have had some great models so far. Will have to post some figure drawings next time. I'm so happy that I have time for all these art activities, and grateful for the art community in Mobile that has so much to offer if you will search it out.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Vision Outside Fellini's

This is only my second posting to this blog. I wanted to include a painting that had hung in the Mobile Art Association Fall Juried Exhibition, which we just took down on Halloween Day. My painting won the Alabama Art Supply Merchandise Award ($100), which I was very pleased with since this is the first art award I have ever won. Here is a photo of the painting, which I titled "Vision Outside Fellini's".

There is, of course, a story behind this painting. My husband and I had just eaten lunch at one of our favorite neighborhood restaurants on Carrollton Avenue in New Orleans called Fellini's. This restaurant used to project old Fellini movies on their walls before Katrina. As we exited the restaurant to the street we saw a woman walking with her pitbull along the sidewalk. After they passed us we turned around and noticed that the dog had a pet chicken riding in his backpack! This was such an absurd sight, I thought I just had to go home and paint it. I had no camera, but the image was pretty well registered in my mind. When I got back to Mobile, I checked out some books from the library about pitbulls and also researched the web for images of dogs walking, doggie backpacks, chickens, etc. - and even found a webpage that had a photo of the Fellini's restaurant sign. I then composed this painting. I had great fun in composing and painting the details on the dog's face and feet. The judge who juried the show had some constructive criticism on this painting, mainly regarding the background (realism vs. illusion?); but I decided to learn from the painting and not try to adjust it - especially since I had already varnished and sealed the painting. (The difficulty with the background reinforces my desire to learn more from my plein air painting so I'll be more comfortable painting grass, trees, architectural details, etc.) This is acrylic on canvas, 24" x 36".

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My First Blog!

I was out plein air painting last week with several fellow enthusiasts when my artist friend Lydia Host asked each of us for the URL of our websites or blogs so she could create a link from her blog. Lydia is an amazingly disciplined and skilled artist, who has created a blog to display her "painting a day" series. She completes a painting each day (usually 6"x 6" in oil). We all tune in to her blog regularly to become inspired and hope some of her energy and discipline will wear off onto us. At any rate, she shamed me into creating my first blog - so here we begin.

My fellow plein air painters on last Thursday included Lydia, Missy Patrick, and Thayer Dodd. We painted on the Mobile River waterfront, capturing big ships, barges, tour cruise boats, loading docks and cranes. Others that could not make it that day were Jami Buck and Gail Bramer.

Missy Patrick and I started this group up a few weeks ago - it is really a resurrection of a group Missy was involved with a few years ago. We are hoping to include other interested artists as well. This is the perfect time of year for plein air painting in the deep Gulf south since the temperatures are cooler, the air is drier, and the fall light is so clear. So far we have painted wetlands on the Mobile Bay causeway, rural farm scenes in Baldwin County, marinas and wetlands at McNally Park along Mobile Bay, and the Mobile River Harbor waterfront. More to come...

Here's a few photos of us plein air painting over the past few weeks, and a couple of my early attempts at plein air painting.