I think I’m in love… with casein

So I had been watching all these videos James Gurney publishes on YouTube. He is a fantastic artist, teacher, and seems like an all around nice guy. Although I was resolved not to buy any more art supplies than I needed, my son surprised me with a James Gurney video, Casein in the Wild, for Christmas. Well I did not need much more encouragement to get a set of tubes. After ordering from Dick Blicks and waiting what seemed forever for the paints to come, I finally got a chance to use them today. 

I began this sketch in watercolor (I’ll explain in another post) and knew it wasn’t going as I liked. I really do not do much watercolor except a quick wash over inked drawings, so I really did not have any skill. You have to think backwards, painting the lights, and progressively getting darker. I did not really plan well, and reached for the casein for its opacity. This stuff not only covers well, it’s smooth, easy to use (watersoluable), intense colors, and easy to clean up. It dries quickly and can be mixed with watercolor. I love it already. I wanted to keep painting but the scene got dark.

Now I have too many toys, so many choices and so little time. Can’t wait til tomorrow…

Practicing doesn’t need an audience

I have been painting a lot less this month due to all the extra things to do around Christmas. So after craving it for so long I decided I just wanted to do something, but nothing really challenging or ambitious. I wanted to practice painting from life, and do a better job of establishing tonal values. I reached for a couple things just laying around, this Asian tea pot and a 6×6 panel. The panel had a reddish black underpainting which was actually an experiment in pouring paint. It was really ugly and I just wanted something to paint, and planned to paint over it. But as I continued with this, the blobby swirly background began to look like smoke emanating. The red and black kinda references the Asian theme. I wished I had considered the color scheme since my pot really was a mixture of a couple different blues that were already on the palette and burnt umber, so really not pulling any harmonious colors here. There comes a point, that you start to like it, and treat it as something precious, but that gets away from the original purpose- practice. What musician expects an audience to appreciate their practicing? So in the same way, I should just appreciate the experience of this practice rather than trying to make everything work out like a showable piece of art. So this is practice today.

Painting from photos of places I’ve never been.

12 x 9 acrylic on canvas

In the last month, I have had a few people ask that I paint specific scenes from photos of places dear to them. Even though I’ve feel far from mastery of such a task, I’ve looked at it as a challenge and an opportunity to learn about painting from photos.  I recognize that at this stage of my life and parenting, that getting out frequently en plein air is not going to happen for a few years.  My research and experience has confirmed the limitations of photography, bleaching out the highlights and making black the dark areas. This leaves a dull appearance to the color scheme. Secondly, the camera brings everything into focus leaving no depth of field, making a very flat picture. In order to make up a better appearance, I’ve taken more liberty with the colors to brighten it up, expand the color palette, and create atmospheric depth with bluing, dulling and blurring the background. Finally, the composition of the photo submitted does not usually fit the canvas or panel proportions and is not necessarily the angle I would have chosen. In any case, I feel that the client “loves” this perspective, which is why they have chosen it for the project, and straying too far from it may not be what the client expects.

So this picture was taken from the back porch of a property along the Washougal River. I would not have the opportunity to travel to this location to get proper colors plein air, which would be ideal. It is a rather flat perspective, and I have tried to create a little more interest in the composition. Also, I’ve introduced more pink and purple to broaden the color scheme. In the end, I think the brightness of the green is a bit much, but overall, I feel that I am done. In the future, I might have tried a warmer palette, and I think I will do some exercises to help with color. Finally, I should have made more of a thumbnail notan sketch as I feel my composition lacks an overall impact.  Well, my client thinks it’s beautiful, and in the end, that is all that matters. I am honored to be asked to handle the scene as a gift to her in laws.

Fall -ing behind in October, growing in other ways


I’ve always stayed incredibly busy, and whenever there is space, I manage to fill that void with more activity and projects. Last month’s daily painting in October was a good example of biting off a bit more than I could chew, but gosh darn it, I am gonna do it.

The result of painting daily was a time of growth in the skill of painting and seeing. I challenged myself to do a portrait of a child, something I swore I would not do. I painted a pet portrait, in plein air, still lifes of everyday items, painted landscapes from screenshots of video someone sent me, from imagination, and even some nontraditional technique and materials, such as splashy gold paint. I was immensely rewarded with encouragement from my facebook and real life friends. I produced 3 larger paintings for an art show. I raised about $1000 by giving away my small paintings for donations to three causes I support. I gained more followers, and I put myself out there with a sign that says, “I want to be an artist.” So #PaintingOctober project was huge to say the least.

But to be honest, there were costs, such as lack of sleep. More than a few times, I was finishing those paintings past midnight. I never updated the etsy shop and tried to sell anything. I completely neglected this blog, which had a good start but has many hiccups to iron out. My kids went to bed saying good night to a preoccupied mother who was intently focussed over some canvas. I gained a couple pounds from sedentary activity. Eh.

So for a season, we all buckle down to do something big, but we may not (at least I can’t) sustain that as a new lifestyle. But for now, I am enjoying a bit of break, getting some other priorities accomplished, allowing myself permission to paint on a less rigorous schedule. Make the main thing the main thing, right? And with Christmas around the corner, there is no time better than now to be focussed on the priorities.

Here is one of three paintings I submitted for the Oregon Society of Artists 200 for under $200 shows this weekend. It was painted from photo reference taken when I participated in a walk to benefit our Oregon Health Sciences University department of Institute on Development and Disability. It was a beautiful October morning walking around the riverfront of downtown Portland Oregon. The painting is 12 x 12 inches acrylic on cradled birch panel board with wood stained sides. The actual painting will be on display 2185 SW Park Pl, Portland, OR 97205 from now until Dec. 1, 2016 along with two other paintings of mine. It is currently for sale for $200, smaller prints available at the RightBrainy.etsy.com shop soon.

Using social media to get second opinions

After staring at my paintings for a few hours, I lose that fresh perspective and any objectivity that inspired the painting in the first place. Again, due to the daily painting challenge, I had to post what I had accomplished before I felt it was ready. This time, I decided to have others weigh in. I used a digital image editing software to paint over the image to try things out before I proceed with paint. Since I’ve been painting on maps, I cannot simply undo or paint over it to regain the map if I end up not liking it. So, the digital software allows me to try out ideas. Love technology!

Sharing the painting is a win-win


Many days have passed since last my last blog post. It’s not that I have had nothing to talk about, on the contrary, there has been too much happening and not enough time to keep up with social media.

A few days ago, I began to donate the proceeds of my paintings to non-profit organizations in which I’ve put my trust. I’m happy to report that to date, I have raised $400 so far. It has been such a happy win-win. Here’s an example of how it goes. Post paintings-> friend refers me to a plein air location -> happy result of painting experience -> sharing on social media deepens this as I hear of stories of weddings that have taken place here.  Someone loves this painting enough to buy it for a Christmas gift with money donated to a the camp for autistic youth. Camp director, donor, painter, and friends of painter can all rejoice in this experience.

This plein air painting 9 x 12 acrylic on canvas is still available for prints for 7 x 9inch image with border, actual size 8.5 x 11 on Epson Fine Art paper with archival inks. It is of the Baker Cabin Pioneer Church in Carver, OR. A local treasure and landmark of this small town, it has been painted by others. I am honored to represent this church to this family who cherishes many special memories of it.



here’s me dressed in two layers with my ikea apron painting it


Day 9 painting a firetruck


Following through with some suggestions from friends, the daughter of a friend suggested a firetruck.  I’ve known this gal since she babysat for my boys. Now she’s grown up and continued to be the responsible person that she is. She’s an EMT and finishing her training to be a paramedic.  Firetrucks are very complicated when you look at them. There’s lots of details, and with the straight lines, you’ve got to get them right or they just look wonky. At this point, I only have 6 x 6 panels left until I get some more, so I wanted to make certain I did not get bogged down on the details, keeping it painterly. I hope I succeeded.  Again this painting is up for “sale by donation,” hopefully someone will benefit from the painting.

Giving to ministry through paintings

As I have amassed a small following of FB friends who view my art daily and encourage me, I have been thinking of how to bless other people through painting. This month, I received a letter of need for a church community in Nigeria that has suffered from flood damage to their homes and their crops. While praying for this community, I was inspired to give away my paintings from the #Paintingoctober challenge to raise money for them. I am personally connected to a key member of Glad Tidings Ministries, and can feel confident the funds are put to prudent use. There are two other non-profits that are currently on my heart (though I could choose so many) that I would also direct funds from paintings to support. These are the Good News Community Health Center (http://goodnewschc.org/) and Camp Odakoda (http://www.asdoregon.org/).  Camp Odakoda is a weeklong summer camp for youth with autism who would not have such an experience outside the trained camp staff who provide a bully-free, be-your-self, medically supportive and super fun camp. Good News Community Health is a non-profit community clinic that serves the under and uninsured in Rockwood, the most economically challenged region of Portland, Oregon. I have been serving as a volunteer for 8 years, and have served on the board for 7 years. More than meeting their medical needs, patients are treated as a whole person to include their social, emotional and spiritual health. As with Glad Tidings, I know the folks who head up these organizations personally and can wholeheartedly endorse their mission and use of funds.

If you’d like to know more about these ministries, please contact me. Know that my other paintings for sale through the http://www.RightBrainy.etsy.com, will come to me personally. I am thrilled that as of posting this painting give-away, I’ve already had two donors for two paintings within a few hours.  Hopefully, more will follow to meet the economic needs of these groups.


Day 7 painting daily in October- unfinished 12×12

I’m really enjoying the opportunity to make a new painting daily with this challenge. However, I’ve obliged myself to submit three 12 X 12 inch paintings by the end of this month, but I only have one done. So today I began the second 12 inch panel, and yes, it definitely takes 4 times as long as a 6 X 6, if not more. But since I have been posting my daily progress so far, I have to include this unfinished painting, even though I’d rather keep it to myself until it looks presentable.  

Meanwhile I am spending the evening running the gate at our local HS football game. I managed a sketch as the sun was setting before it got too dark and the spectators lined up for tickets. This photo was taken from the ticket booth under lamplight 

Day 6 finishing the Alaskan Curlew


Thursdays are my mornings to gather with other artists at Alla Prima Portland. That takes up most of my morning, but does not reduce the usual chore and errands I do before the kids return from school and game practice.  Then it’s picking up and transferring to lessons, dinner, and cleanup. So in the time I had, I finished up one of my endangered species birds I began but left on the back burner. When I left the painting, I was fatigued by painting precisely and so small.  I was also stuck when the texture of the bird feathers blended too much into the map background, causing it to fade without enough contrast. Today, after Annie at the meeting mentioned my birds, I decided to give it another go.  I’ll just post it today but probably won’t have time to list anything in the Etsy shop until the weekend.

This is an Eskimo Curlew, photocredit : https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/08/Curlew_-_natures_pics.jpg