Saturday, December 6, 2014

Germanton Gallery Annual Miniature Show

Last night I attended the opening reception for this wonderful exhibit of small works by talented artists from across the country. It is a collection of realism at its finest and smallest.
4" x 4" painting by Jeff Legg
The opening event is always a fun time because artists from around the country as well as North Carolina get to reconnect with each other and share the news of the past several months. Everyone has tales to tell of traveling, taking workshops, teaching workshops, new things they are working on and all things art related.

Each year David Simpson, owner of the gallery, features one artist who will show a body of work in larger sizes while each of the other artists who have been invited to exhibit will show 2 miniature pieces which must be 9"x12" or smaller. Everyone comes to the show with amazing art work.

This year my friend Patty Bailey Sheets was the featured artist and she also won best in show! Below are two of her pieces.

Jue: Two Pieces of Joined Jade

Peonies in Pottery Jug

Here are my two 8" x 8" pieces.
"Warm and Rosey" 

Bird Neighbors

 Although all work is realistic, the variety is wide. Here is a sampling from the show; works (top to bottom) by Dan Beck, Cecelia Cox and Paul Cheng.
 Click here to see more but to see it all you gotta go to the gallery at 3530 Germanton Road (Rte 8 at Rte 65) in Germanton, North Carolina! The show will hang through the holidays.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Plein Air Painting is to Golf as .....

I recently read an article declaring that Plein Air painting was the new golf.

I played golf before I had children-when I had free time. It was a good way to spend time with my husband, family and friends. I even got my Dad, who swore he would never play, addicted to the game.

Our best golf buddy, Mort.

Other things I liked about golf included being outdoors in a beautiful place, striving to improve, enjoying the satisfaction of small improvements over time, learning from more experienced golfers and stopping for a beverage afterward.
Based on this, I'd say these activities have a lot in common and Plein Air may just be the new golf.

Time spent painting outdoors is magical. Getting away from electronic gadgets and being close to nature is so refreshing. Taking in the beauty of the outdoors and getting lost in you work is a meditation like no other.

Painting in a dream garden.

Where you let it take you is your choice. Some paint for pure enjoyment, some like to share their work online or in exhibits, some love competition and a few go on to be pros and superstars. We all become frustrated from time to time when our work isn't our best but we also know the thrill of the day when you let go and a painting is created effortlessly.

This was one of those good days!

I say go out and buy the cheap clubs ... I mean easel ..  and a beginner's book or DVD and try it. If you love it, take a workshop and get some better equipment. Paint without fear and judgement and let it take you where it will.  As in all things, baby steps and repetition are required for learning.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Down East

A couple of weeks ago my friend and I headed "down east" North Carolina to collect photographic reference for paintings. Much of our time was spent in Beaufort and on Harker's Island, specifically at Core Sound Seafood, a family business that supplies fresh local seafood.

Fishing boats at marina on Harker's Island

What's so interesting about this place? It is beautiful, but what's more important are the people. They are so friendly and open, and they treat you like they've known you forever – just good people!  Many of them make their living from the sea, just as their families have for generations, working at fishing, clamming, shrimping, selling seafood, building boats and all things related.

Willis Boat Builders on Island Road make custom
hand built wooden boats the old fashioned way.

I had already been to this area in April to paint, but this time I was specifically interested in taking photos of these people. I wanted to capture their hard-working spirit, close ties to one another and love for Down East North Carolina.

Shrimper prepares to go out on his boat. He explained that the net catches the shrimp, but
a turtle excluder device allows turtles and other sea creatures to escape the net.

At Core Sound Seafood, they were shedding crabs. This is the process that takes place when it's time for the crabs to shed their shells. The crabs back out of their shells on their own, but the people have to keep a close eye on them 24 hours a days to make sure all goes well. The crabs have to be put on ice before the new shell begins to form so they can be sold as soft shell crabs.

Crabs who are done shedding their shells are vulnerable to attack so are
contained in this ring to keep them safe from the other crabs.

Now I know a little about soft shell crabs. I always wondered how they got those things! I also have a lot of great photos to work from. Back at the studio, I made some large drawings from the photos and hope to take some or all of them to the next stage as an oil or pastel painting.

Drawing of one of the family members at work. In addition to the task of bustering crabs,
she is the brains behind their innovative seafood marketing.
Go online at to learn about their products.

Drawing of crabs being cleaned

Drawing of crab shedding. Notice the crab at the bottom right – he is in the process of shedding his shell.

Three generations of family members at Core Sound Seafood: Dad is
heading shrimp while Grandma takes care of the next generation.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Plein Air Marathon

These past 5 days have been a painting marathon for artists participating in Germanton Gallery's Annual "Painting North Carolina" paint out.

I spent Friday through Monday in the Beaufort, NC, area painting and got very lucky with the weather. Friday when I arrived it was perfect and stayed that way through Saturday. Here are some of the pieces I did during the two sunny days I had.
Up On Stilts

Don's Green Boat

 The boats in this yard was being stored or repaired. This green boat was just taking a rest in the yard for awhile.  A couple I met have been working on and living in their boat for 2+ years. They began in Maine and then had sailed to the Bahamas. They came to Beaufort and their boat was in need of a lot of repair so there they sit until it's finished!  They told us that the owner of the green boat was an 80-something guy named Don and that he, along with some help, had built this boat. Pretty amazing people.

Marshallberg Cottage

Marshallberg Harbor  12x12 Oil

Marshallberg is an old harbor and town with a lot of history. I met a fisherman who sails a 90 foot boat catching fish and shrimp for a living. He told me that this big orange boat in the harbor had been a sister ship to the Presidential yacht. It has been sitting there for twenty years; two different men invested $1,000,000 each to restore it but neither succeeded. His best guest was that it would eventually be scrapped.

Germanton Art Gallery will host the opening of the show this Friday 5:00 - 8:00 pm. It is open to the public so hope to see you there. Saturday there will be artists painting around the outdoor area of the gallery from 10-4:00 as well.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

What can you paint in twenty minutes?

I decided to do small oil paintings instead of drawing this past week at our drawing circle. I took some water soluble oils, my small Open M pochade box, which I can hold on my lap, along with some 5x7 and 6x8 panels.
At our circle, we take turns posing. We have 4 poses that last 20 minutes each, with a break after the first 15 to give the model a chance to say "enough". This worked out just right for me - I concentrated on the face for those 15 minutes and then used the last 5 to put in as much of the hair, bkgd etc as I could.

Here are my results. I loved the freedom of doing this quickly and moving on to the next one, eliminating my usual urge to "fix" things - which often results in ruining them.

Some folks in the drawing circle were curious about the water soluble oils and panels I was using so here is some info.  The best brand I've tried is Duo, made by Holbein.   I rarely thin them, they work pretty well straight out of the tube but, if you do want to thin them, use the water based linseed oil Duo offers. Use water only for clean-up.

The panels are called Multi Media Art Boards. They are thin, rigid and very lightweight. Suitable for all media, they even sell some with a sanded finish for pastels. I was not thrilled with the pastel ones because I prefer more tooth on my pastel paper, but the regular ones worked really well with the water soluble oils. For more info go to

Friday morning I am off to the NC coast to paint for the annual Painting North Carolina plein air event hosted by Germanton Gallery in Germanton, NC. The opening reception will be held Friday, August 11 from 5-8 pm. For details go to

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

There's Nothing Quite Like Art Friends

I love having artists as friends. For one thing we always have something to talk about and, for another, we understand each other pretty well. We are all addicted to art! This year I have already enjoyed two fun events with my art friends.

I am member of the Piedmont Outdoor Painting Society which is officially 11 years old, but I was painting with these guys before they gave their group a name. To prepare for this exhibit, we worked in our studios last year to paint larger paintings from some of our plein air work. On January 23 we attended the artists' reception for our show, From the Outside In.

We met for dinner beforehand and had a lot of good conversation and laughs.

POPS members Judy Meyler and Arlene Daniel

POPS members Kathy Phillips, Judy McGinn, Addren Doss

Me and Marsha Thrift, POPS members

This past weekend Hampton House Art and Framing held an opening reception for their annual Small Art Big Heart miniature exhibit, in conjunction with Dining with Friends. Both of these benefit Aids Care Services of Winston-Salem.

The art was great and included some 3-D items as well as paintings and drawings.

My painting on the left alongside a piece by my painting buddy, Arlene Daniel.

Lots of work on this wall was done by friends that I paint with.

Fun 3-D Dolls - sorry I don't know this artist but I love the work!
Both of these shows will be on display for a while longer.
For details on Small Art Big Heart visit Hampton House Art and Framing on Facebook.
For detail on From the Outside In visit the Alamance Arts Council website.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Focus for 2014

Sometimes we get so involved in doing what we do, that we forget to stop and asses what is really going on. This morning I awoke with the idea that I should spend some time reflecting on what happened this past year and what that means for my art during 2014.

I made some notes about what I want to focus on this year and what I would like to change. Then I reviewed which of my paintings sold well this past year. I was pleased to see that many of the ones I sold, where the ones I enjoyed painting the most!

Plein Air Landscape with Architecture

There was a clear truth - I paint a lot better from life than I do from a photo. My plein air landscapes sold, the studio ones did not. The studio paintings that sold were still life, painted from life not a photo. My best studio work done from photos is figurative because I really love to paint people in everyday situations and you just can't get them to stand still in the situation long enough to do much more that a quick sketch.

Still Life painted from Hydrangeas picked in my garden

Pastel done from photo

What does that mean for 2014?  I plan to make these choices based on what I now know:
  • Paint outdoors as much as I can.
  • Reread  Hawthorne on Painting by Mrs. Charles W. Hawthorne (Compiler).
  • Focus on still life and figurative pieces in the studio.
  • Stop over-working a painting when I lose focus by setting time limits and taking breaks. 
  • Paint less and thinking more - step back and assessing often. 
 Wish me luck and I wish you luck with your plans for 2014!!