seashell in pastel

seashell pastel updated aug 27 (3)

I made an earlier version of this motif using oil pastel (Neopastel by Caran d’Ache) but this one above uses traditional dry pastel.  It’s on a dark sanded paper.

What can I say, seashells are my favorite landscape subject with their beautiful rolling hills formed deep in the sea.

the in-between-times project

fish teapot creamer frog painting

I have this little 14 x 11 inch still life that I pulled out of the stack.  I’ve already altered it a little to conform to the new drawings that I’ve been making of the motif.  Like The Big Painting, I am painting this from drawings.  The objects are set up in a still life right here in the studio, but the light has been variable — plus I cannot commit to being in the studio at the right times since The Big Painting is the priority.

But it’s nice to have something else toward which I can turn my thoughts.  So here’s the side project.  Small, fun, no worries.

Here’s some of the studies so far — all the studies except one are made using Neopastels on various pastel papers:

fish teapot creamer frog painting study 2

This one needs some adjustment to the size of the compotier bowl, just visible, that hangs above the frog’s head.  Yes, again, frogs!

fish teapot creamer frog painting study 1a

I love dealing with the edges around things and the spaces between things.  I like the “things that are not things” in a picture.

koi teapot drawing2 (2)

The above drawing proves that I can draw a motif that has no frog in it .   See, no frog.

koi teapot with shell in pastel 3

This pastel above (traditional dry pastel) is from an earlier suite of drawings.  I found it among some dry pastels and was surprised to encounter my current subject.

frog progressions

And here’s yet another recent drawing that I started and haven’t as yet finished.  Then again, does it really need to be finished?  I mean, hey, the frog is there …

winding paths

large curtain with flowers (2)

Thinking ahead to future projects, I have begun making studies of drapery.  This drawing above is the largest one of a group.  It measures 35 x 23.5 inches.  I drew it using oil pastels on a dark paper.  Below is another earlier iteration.

curtain in pastel (2)

I got an inexpensive garment rack on wheels that holds the drapery so I can move it anywhere in the room that I like and can turn it around. The heavy cloth has beautiful patterns on each side so it makes you want to draw both sides, first one then the other.  The drawing above is made using traditional pastel on a sanded paper.  It measures 24 x 15.5  inches.  Layers of colors are stacked up upon each other.  I noticed when I was drawing that the folds of the cloth remind me of the ridges of the seashell.

The two pastel drawings below are both drawn using oil pastels. To the far right is a photo of the cloth.


I lose my bearings drawing the cloth.  I get tangled inside the folds, and sometimes I have to count to keep track of the different paths.  Sometimes the tangle grows large and the drawing diverges from the cloth itself, but I just keep drawing.  I learn the cloth.  I like learning a motif.

The drapery is my new toy and a new fascination.  I have wanted to begin while the idea of it is still new, and I have the other projects calling me too.  I have reorganized the room again to make transitions from one picture to another easier.

blast from the past

early pastel from book

I’ve been away from wordpress because I’ve been busy housekeeping.  Housekeeping is a humongous big job when you don’t manage it well, and since I spent decades ignoring the task, it has come back to bite me big time.  But bit by bit, I bring the situation under control (thank you Marie Kondo).  During my excavations, I have found some rather amazing things — amazing to me, naturally, since these things of which I speak are emblematic in my life.

So, for instance, I found the drawing above.  It’s the earliest pastel drawing of mine that still exists.  Not much in itself, but it’s something I made when I was still a kid.  More significantly I realized that the drawing is actually a copy of another artists’ work and now I know who that artist was.  It was Leonard Richmond who was author of a little pamphlet called “Landscape Painting in Oils” published by Grosset & Dunlap who put out a series of how-to books on art.  Either I bought it or my father’s younger sister gave it to me (my Aunt Mary encouraged me to paint early on).  Now I discover that Grosset & Dunlap “is a United States publishing house founded in 1898. The company was purchased by G. P. Putnam’s Sons in 1982 and today is part of Penguin Random House through its subsidiary Penguin Group.”

Here’s the image I copied:

early pastel from book source Leonard Richmond

Until my house cleaning, I would never have identified Leonard Richmond as one of my teachers — but I suppose he was not only my teacher but perhaps my first teacher.  Thanks to the internet, I learn this about him:

“Leonard Richmond (AKA: Leonard “Slim” Richmond) was a British painter, graphic artist, illustrator, poster designer, educator, author, art critic and a Canadian war artist.

He was born in Somerset county (south west England). When not traveling, he lived most of his life in London, England and its environs.”



My guess, looking at more of his landscapes online, is that he liked the same artists that I like — Cezanne, Bonnard, Matisse, Corot, the Impressionists and similar painters.  Since he died in 1965, he was probably already deceased by the time I encountered his art.  The slim booklet is copyrighted 1962, but I wouldn’t have owned it then (I was only 7 years old).

So far as I know, I never actually read the book though it’s only 30 pages long including illustrations.  I just learned from the pictures.

It amazes me how well the pastel held up.  They were student grade pastels. The paper looks like newsprint but surely must be something else because though it’s yellowed, it’s not brittle.  And the texture of the pastel surface suggests that I used a spray fixative which evidently didn’t yellow excessively.  And the picture has been stored in an attic for decades so it’s amazing that it hasn’t been eaten by silverfish or completely disintegrated by heat and cold!  Who knew that student grade stuff could be so durable … all the same for future work I think I’ll stick to my richer professional grade artists’ materials ….



a brand new year


It’s a good time for making plans, for setting goals, for dreaming big dreams.  A whole beautiful year lies ahead — a huge expanse of time waits to be filled, to be lived.

I hope that your 2017 was good and brings you many rich memories.  I hope that your 2018 will be wonderful.

Happy New Year!

on the wall: Pickle Jar of Flowers


I just learned that my pastel “Pickle Jar of Flowers” has been selected for inclusion in the upcoming “Mark” exhibit at the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria, Virginia.

Here’s how the gallery describes the exhibit:

Pencil marks, painting strokes, woodcuts, or a dynamic editorial eye are all marks artists use to create their works. Mark-making has been associated with conventional pen, pencil, and paper, but artists make marks on ceramics, plates, fabric, and film, with tools ranging from sticks to scrapers to pixels. Artists can also be marked with memories, conditions, or experiences that shape how their artwork is made. Specific tools, techniques, and the artist’s physicality are embedded in every work of art. This exhibit will show the viewer how the artist’s mark can be the most important element in transforming the ‘blank canvas’ into an image. Artists are also encouraged to provide a brief statement about their ‘mark’.  The curator is Charles Jean-Pierre.

The exhibit will be on view from September 5th through October 1st with a reception taking place on Thursday September 14th from 6:30-9:30 pm.

A print of the painting is available for purchase here:

when you need flowers …


When you need flowers, remember that you can find reproductions of my pictures on Fine Art America.  (Got to plug my own site — this is an advertisement!)

I have put many of the flower pictures there, some koi, some landscapes.  And there’ll be more coming.

So if you need something red, please think of me.  And when you need flowers.  And koi.  And so on.   Think of me!

featured work: Celestial Koi

celestial koi 54 x 40 smaller

I like to work large, and this pastel called “Celestial Koi” is large.  The seam that’s visible in the photograph is there because I put two sheets of pastel paper together to create the picture.  Overall it measures 54 x 40 inches. Because I used sanded paper I couldn’t use a single sheet — unless I had applied a sanded ground to watercolor paper myself.  This drawing is made on UArt paper — which is wonderful.  It looks just like sandpaper — it basically is just like sandpaper, but is a form of sandpaper made to the exacting conservation standards required for an artists’ material.

So the visible seam is a fundamental part of the picture, part of its form.

Anyway, one of the joys of presenting artwork at the Fine Arts America site is that they offer reproductions at fairly large sizes.  This image can be purchased as large as “48 x 35.8.”  So it’s not as large as the original, but it’s still pretty large.

The original pastel on the easel appears below.  Some of the interior objects, the bookcases and whatnot, give a hint at the scale.  I had just gotten the UArt paper and I was going crazy drawing kois.

studio 4 (2)

Some background: like many visitors to the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, I have long admired the many banners hanging from the building that advertise visiting exhibitions.  And like many visitors I have wondered what happens to the banner when the exhibit concludes?  They are of course too large to hang inside someone’s home — but some of the banners could be cut down in interesting ways and adapted for interior decoration ….

nga banner

Seeing those banners instilled a longing in me to create large versions of some of my pictures for not only do I enjoy making large pictures, I also particularly like making large drawings.  A large drawing is one that you can get inside of — all the whimsy and freedom of a drawing can be there — only LARGE. Thus one of the hopes I have for my Fine Art America site is that it can feature more and more large drawings, some that are in small drawings blown up and others that are real-live large drawings.  We’ll see what happens with that.  I’ll keep you posted.

I imagine the Celestial Koi in a room with a lot of yellow.  It could make a wonderful contrast in an airy, buttery, yellow colored room.  I found this room on the internet.  (I like to search for images of beautiful rooms on the internet!)

This is someone’s gorgeous room.  But if you take down those prints — lovely as they are — and replace them with my large blue koi pastel — wouldn’t that be wonderful?!

Just like that!  Kois over here, imagine them over there. Or in any similarly airy, gracious room in need of a large company of fish ….

Here’s a link to “Celestial Koi” —

Little Bouquet of Flowers


The Little Bouquet is little not because the flowers were small, but because the image is small.  Scale in art offers an often uncelebrated emotional factor to an image.  Small things affect us differently than large ones do. Small pictures sometimes convey a greater sense of intimacy that comes from the way that small things can be held in our hands, are seen in miniature, are made more jewel-like perhaps or more precious-seeming.

In this picture the smallness of things seemed to suggest a philosophical idea — that the small, though often over-looked thing, can be a receptacle and a source of great meaning.  A simple vase of flowers reminds us of the ever flowing passage of time.  The beauty of all transience can call us back to reverence for life, can remind us of our need to savor the present.  These lovely flowers might have been connected to any of life’s celebrations as they sit in quietude upon a table gleaming in the light.

I saw it as a microcosm of time, a moment when Nature and humanity gathered together. The passage of all loved things was once like this, a glimmering moment of light and life.

Little Bouquet of Flowers is a pastel painting on textured paper measuring 11 1/2 x 10 1/4 inches.

Glass Jar with Flowers


If a simple glass pickle jar gives you joy, you know you are a joyful person. I found the pickle jar in my mother’s cabinet.  It was one of those things my parents kept out of a desire to give all possessions a second life. Emptied of pickles it became a flower vase.  I cleaned it up after its years of disuse and marveled at how lovely the light is that passes through simple clear glass.  The flower stems randomly distributed in the jar offer beautiful abstractions of dark green.  The glass also reflects and intensifies colors in adjacent objects — the table cloth, the backdrop cloth.  It catches highlights of daylight entering the windows.  It is in short a light catcher.  Whoever wishes to meditate on the meaning of the present tense can gaze into its interior and find passages of beauty to inspect.

The flowers are the heroes of any flower still life: comprised in this instance of carnations and a single large yellow tea rose.  But a clear glass jar also brings strong poetry to the scene.

Glass Jar with Flowers is a small pastel painting on textured paper measuring 14 x 18 inches.