soft twilight

landscape painting dec 29

Not only different (warmer!) weather is available to the landscape painter’s imagination, but different times of day also.  I can luxuriate in a never extinguished twilight.  When I go back to it, adding a few more dabs of paint, I get to wander among those trees again and see the pale rose light.

butterfly cloth in black & white

butterfly cloth in b&w

Above, a black and white photograph of the green-yellow-pink butterfly cloth that features in the still life paintings that I’m currently working on.  Got it at Joann Fabrics last year.  In black and white it’s like a drawing and all the wonderful intricate lines stand out.

thinking is the beginning of doing


tree sketch in pen

Idle moment waiting in the car in the rain. I drew a little tree sketch in my pocket notebook.  It was something to do.  I like trees, love observing them in all kinds of weather.  Drawing the tree was helping to keep me awake.  It can be difficult staying alert during long periods of rain.  Letting my eyes wander among the beautiful shapes made by the boughs of the tree was a pleasant venture.

It relates to other projects — even to other kinds of trees.  I have a painting currently on hold that the little sketch helps me think about.  I do paintings in waves of activity.  Usually I start something, take it along a certain degree, then I put it aside.  For me the interlude of separation appears to be a necessary part of the process of completing the picture.  I used to chide myself for not finishing things.  I didn’t realize that I needed the passage of respite from the image. I finish the pictures, but it takes longer than I had supposed. Now that I know this, I have a whole different relationship to the task.

once I made the seashell large

seashell in progress

The drawing sheet was 18 x 24 inches large.  As you can see the shell took up much of that space, but the real shell is not — no queen conch could be — that large.  It would be a monster of a queen conch that was that large.

So what is the shell that’s larger than life size?  It’s like a dream of a seashell.

I had so much fun drawing this shell.  Seeing the photograph brings back the memory so vividly.  It was a blast.  I had to enlarge the thought while I was drawing and I loved it.  I had never drawn any of the shells large before.  I’ve never done it since.

But seeing this drawing now, I cannot wait to draw it large again.  For now, though, I have other tasks because I am reorganizing my life.  And I am tidying my home — just as Marie Kondo said I should.

thrift store haul

haul 5 (2)Every once in a while I hear the siren call of the Thrift Store still life objects.  They start singing my name.  Their lovely sound reaches my ears, I jump in the car and head off to my favorite thrift store.  Following the sound, I usually discover some fun thingy that’s brightly colored, with perhaps mesmerizing patterns, something that would be fun to draw and paint, a thingy with character.  A recent thrift store trip did not disappoint.

I found this lovely little bowl with its fierce cobalt blue glaze and graceful fruit decorations.

haul 7 (2)I also found the bud vase with a beautiful chrysanthemum design featured in several of these photos.   Both came from the Kenilworth Avenue Salvation Army Store in Bladensburg, Maryland.

That wasn’t all.  I had more time on my hands that afternoon, and more siren voices singing me along my journey, so I headed to Joann’s Fabric store, too, where I found another ceramic — on sale —  woo hoo — a lovely butterfly plate seen below.  To go with it. I got an intricately decorated butterfly cloth.

haul 3

Last item I found is this brilliant blue-turquoise cloth decorated in wild rose and tulip bunches, featured in pictures above.  All these items will soon find their way to the still life table and take their turns becoming the subjects of future paintings.  You can see the detail in the flowers of this marvelous blue cloth.

haul 1

With still life cloths, I find that sometimes the reverse side is as lovely as the front.  The softer version of the pattern offers another way of setting up a motif.  The reverse sides of both these cloths proved to be very lovely in pale tones.

haul 2

So there you have it.  Another thrift store trip with happy results!


Random insights

two trees in the gardenI am learning about the ebb and flow of days. There is always something to do, and in art especially one can always draw.

I realized late last night that it doesn’t matter whether I work from a photograph, or from life, or from drawings, or imagination, or memory, or invention, or whatever.

What matters is the sense of conviction — when you feel that each decision is “true” then you put things together using your unconscious skills.  The picture will have cohesion because the ideas in your head will have cohesion.

I like to work from life most of all because in that instance I am least aware of making the choices and am most caught up in the motif so that the unconscious can have complete sway.  It is the very opposite of slavish imitation — it is a complete freedom from imitation that one finds inside imitation.

Ideal Studio

I’d keep it neater.


It’s too cluttered for my taste. What’s the point of having a large studio if you don’t have room to move? I can trip over stuff in a small space.

Maybe it’s the pink surface on the upper left … and the chandelier  … definitely the glass wall, the squares of glass, the high ceilings, the abundance of light — all these features make this a very good candidate for my ideal studio. I have no idea where on the planet this magical room can be found, looks like it might be kind of tropical outside.  That’s a down-side. That means spiders. Big ones. Other creepy crawlies that the big spiders like to munch on.

Maybe not. But it’s pretty to look at.


The one above was actually on the market. In New Hampshire.  Fewer spiders but too cold. But it has wonderful light, lots of space. Big wall to hang stuff on. Charming landscape right outside your door that you can paint en plein air.  Or, from en plein indoors. You can see it just fine from the studio itself.  Who needs en plein air?

The ultimate of large studios is one we’re familiar with already.


It’s big. Airy. Wonderful. But the guy who ran it could be a bit formidable, territorial.

monet  studio

I don’t think I want to mess with him.

If I’m looking for an ideal studio partner, I’m thinking I’d go with this guy instead.

bonnard studio

For now I will content myself with my small, cluttered but productive space. It’s nice to dream though.  Indeed, in dreaming about studios (as in dreaming about other things), I find that it gives me ideas.

If I ask myself in earnest what I really need in a studio, if I’m to do the work that I want to do, I come up with different answers than I get asking the imaginative and acquisitive questions that prompted these various visual delights.

What do I really need from my studio as a tool?


This one’s got great windows! Love the airy splendor of it! I’ll take it — imaginatively — for Saturday mornings like this one.