Monday, December 30, 2013

With Heartfelt Thanks

I am so blessed to have a loving and supportive group of friends and family whose encouragement helps me to continue to improve my artistic gifts. As I look back over the years of posts that I have not yet deleted, I do believe that I've shown a positive direction in my work. Thank you to all the people who have helped me to grow as an artist! I have fought with and cried over many of these works, but every one of them was completed with love.

There are many paintings that I haven't shared. Some of them are so personal that I wouldn't share them without permission. I was recently given permission to share this one. Ashley lost her life to suicide, but she continues to touch lives and hearts. The loving memories that her family and friends share can soften the pain of this great loss, but will never replace her. I cried for her family when I painted this. No parent should lose a child, yet I know a number of people who have. God Bless You!

My prayers are with you. I wish you all a very happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

I hope your Christmas was filled with love! After all, it's not the gifts we give or get that is most meaningful, but the love we share with each other. As we usher in the New Year, I'll be thinking of you and wishing you a healthy, happy, and prosperous 2014!

Time to party!!!

Sometimes I Surprise Myself!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Preserving History

I get very emotional when I paint portraits. I cry when painting posthumous portraits, and feel the joy of a newborn child. The emotion I most experienced in doing this painting was the love that this couple has for each other. This was painted on the occasion of a milestone anniversary. I don't always post the portraits that I paint because they are so personal, but I was given permission to post this. The actual size of this painting is 24" x 36."

Portrait artists paint for a variety of reasons, but I think the most important one is that we can preserve an image for "eternity." Sometimes this image is a moment in time, a memory of a loved one, or the "freezing" of a special life experience, like a wedding or the birth of a child. In this case, this couple enjoys experiencing Victorian life, and dresses the part beautifully. They participate in a variety of events, including fashion show fundraisers for various charities. I'm honored to have been asked to preserve this moment in time for them.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Hitting the Wall

My sincere apologies to those who are offended by this. This poor bird flew into my window and left its mark. I was compelled to memorialize it in a painting. I call it Hitting the Wall because I sometimes feel like this. You may call it The Holy Spirit if you prefer.

Hitting The Wall

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Painting People Outdoors

I'm finally catching up on some "house keeping" regarding the many paintings I've done in recent months. This one caught my attention after not looking at it for a while, and I thought I would give my thoughts on the art of painting people outdoors.

This young lady was kind enough to model for a few of us during an outdoor painting session with friends. I don't do as much painting from life outdoors as I do in a studio, but certain things about this painting made me want to analyze it more.

This was a quick study done in about 2 hours, so it doesn't have the refinement of my commissioned portraits. As I recall, it was early August, and the late morning sun was beating down on the small shelter we shared in a park. Green grass, trees, and other vegetation surrounded us.

I must have been "in the zone" while I painted, as my colors in the skin tones are much more pronounced, vibrant, and reflective of outside sources than usual. In the photo below I point out specifics.

1. Note the blue reflection on one side of her face. I would say that this is reflected light from the sky, but the darker color at the top of her forehead (5) is likely the result of shade from the shelter that we were under. This leads me to believe that the blue reflections are coming from the sun shining off a light gray-blue roof that was on a building not too far away.

2 & 3. Her youthful glow reflected the many greens that were prevelant in the area we were in. Because we were sheltered, and the light was diffused, I attribute this to the strong summer sun all around us that didn't hit directly, but instead provided soft, colorful shades to appear.

4. Although she wasn't wearing light colors, there is still a reflected light that appears on her neck. That is probably from the roof reflection as well, but could be from the cement base of the shelter. I see that I captured some of the stronger reds directly under her chin and on her left cheek. I would like to think that this is part of the beauty that comes with youth, but it may be a combination of the sun penetrating her translucent skin, or the warmth of the day.

Because this was a group setting, it's not as easy to "set-up" a model to your exact needs or desires, but this was a good practice in painting from life en plein air. I hope to be able to paint Katie again in a more planned pose and clothing. She was a great model!

The combination of warm and cool colors on her face is quite fascinating to me. Here is a link to a site of Daniel Gerhartz, an artist that I admire, and who is a master at painting the figure outdoors:
He recently launched a new video, The Beginning of Autumn, in which he speaks extensively to the joys and difficulties of painting a figure outdoors.

And finally, here is another link to an artist, Daniel Maidman, who's blog post here tells more about the process of painting outdoors:

Thank you for visiting!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Perils of Plein Air Painting

I've just returned from back-to-back plein air painting events in Shorewood and Plymouth, Wisconsin. I'm not sure yet what drives an artist to participate in these types of events, but it seems to be somewhat of an addiction. Some of the challenges include painting in who-knows-what type of weather there will be when the day arrives, bugs, wind, time limitations, and potentially giving up a freshly painted, and still wet, painting if you are lucky enough to have it sold. I experienced all of these, and more, in my recent events.

The Shorewood event was the first of what many hope will be an annual event there. I am very grateful for the hard work that went into the planning of this event. But you can't plan for the weather. It rained the first two days, and was only about 60 degrees - although it felt a lot colder in wet gear. Yes, I did paint in the rain - you don't have much choice! My painting umbrella came in very handy and I kept large plastic bags close by to cover things as needed. Fortunately, when working with oil paints, the water tends to run right off.

I sold two of the three paintings that I submitted. The one shown here was held back as a thank you to the kind people who provided a place to stay. I hope to post more photos soon. It has been a very busy summer and I haven't been keeping up on posting my work.

The Plymouth event is a week-long painting spree. You can arrive any day that works for you, and paint as long as you want, but you can only submit 3 paintings to the exhibit. It is to your advantage to paint as many paintings as you can in a week, and choose the best 3. Unfortunately, a hornet decided to feast on me on the first day by climbing up the leg of my jeans and biting me at least eight times. I'm not afraid of bees and wasps, but they do put a damper on your enthusiasm when they are aggressive. And you would be surprised how many insects want to fly into a painting, only to find out that once they land, they are stuck in wet oil paint.

It was cold and windy when we were in Plymouth, so I'm not sure why the hornets were so aggressive. I had only completed 3 paintings when I decided that was enough. The event runs through the end of this week, but I'm thankful to be home and able to sleep in my own bed for a few days before going back for the reception on Friday evening. The paintings are only available for one night, so I hope you can make it to the reception at the Plymouth Arts Center from 6-9pm!

Be sure to check out more of my work at!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Brush or Painting Knife?

Yesterday morning I painted at a beautiful local spot that I've been wanting to paint at all summer. It was a warm and windy morning, but that side of this peninsular park was sheltered and shaded. I set up as always, and pulled out my paints and brushes. After working for a couple of hours on this painting, I decided I was trying too hard -- a common problem that I'm aware of, and working to overcome. So I pulled out a new canvas and started over using only a palette knife. In less than an hour I completed my second painting of the morning. So what do you think? Brush or painting knife?


Palette Knife

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Keeping It Real

I can't believe summer is almost over! I've been doing a lot of work behind the scenes, but also attending a number of plein air events. I have always considered myself to be a studio painter for the most part, but plein air painting helps to keep me "honest" about my work. By painting from life, rather than from photos, you experience the true colors, values, lights and shadows that can be digitally altered in a photograph. The more I paint from life, the truer my studio paintings are. I just created a new "Collection" on my website called Plein Air Works. ( The paintings shown there are just a few of the many that I've painted in recent months and years. I wake up every morning asking myself, "What will I paint today?" And I thank God for the gifts he has given me.

This is a painting I did in Door County, WI, recently when we visited during the Plein Air Festival. I've painted this view before, but never completed it entirely "en plein air." It's an inlet on the east side of Door County, just south of the Cana Island Light.

Moonlight Bay, 11"x14"
$400.00, unframed

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Fog is Lifting

Is it wrong to want to re-paint the same painting over again? I always want to continue to improve my work, but this idea of painting over, or re-painting, works that I've already done is fairly new to me. It started when I spoke with the owner of a gallery my work is in, who said "Everyone loves this particular painting that you did, but they want to see it in a larger size." Not long after that, I got a commission from another gallery whose client wanted one of my works in a smaller size.

Mind you, when a work is re-painted, it's never exactly the same. I spoke with one artist who's opinion was that you can never improve on a "first" work. I'm not sure that is true, based on my recent experience. Here is one painting that I sanded down and re-painted over. I liked the first one (shown beneath it) and received some good feedback on it. But this version is the result of 3 different paintings on top of the original. When I first painted over the original, I was very disappointed in the result. It was dark and looked almost like a very old painting that needed cleaning. I thought to myself, "Either I fix it, or burn it," and "If it doesn't work this time, I'll consider it 3 strikes and I'm done with it."

Maybe it's the layering of paint in this work, or the addition of the silhouette of trees in the foreground, but I feel that I finally achieved the ethereal appeal of lifting fog that is so hard to reproduce. I'd love your feedback!

(below is the original painting)

Monday, July 29, 2013

Painting Fast

On Saturday I participated in my third annual Dockside Quick Paint in Fish Creek, WI. This annual event is in conjunction with the week-long Plein Air Festival sponsored by the Peninsula School of Art. The energy is contagious and the joy of painting with other artists is invigorating. Between 100-200 artists each year gather in about a 4-block area, surrounded by curious onlookers. A horn blows at 9am, and the artists must create a painting from a blank canvas in two hours. At 11am, the horn sounds again, and brushes must be put down.

I enjoy talking with people when I paint outdoors, but this competition is nerve-wracking. Most of the observers understand that, and stand back to watch the paintings come together, talking in low tones about the progress. It can be very encouraging to hear whispers of "look at how she did that" and "I love how the light hits there." Because of the size and detail in this work, I chose to work mainly with a pallet (or painting) knife with thick paint. The outcome is a much "looser" work than I normally would do, and it helps me to skip the detail and paint quickly.

I have to admit, I was shaking at the start, and was pretty focused throughout most of my effort. This is the first year that I painted right up to the second horn, and wished I had a little more time. I may have bitten off more than I should have with the complication of this piece in such a short time slot, but all-in-all I was happy with the outcome. And someone else was happy enough with it to buy it at the reception that evening. I hope they realize that oil paints can take a long time to dry!

Here is my painting, "Linger." It depicts a lovely little coffee shop in downtown Fish Creek, WI - in the middle of Door County. Thank you to all the volunteers who help make this event successful!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Creating with Purpose

I apologize for the blatant self promotion, but I'm so excited to have my exhibit further promoted in the University of Michigan Record, a staff and faculty newspaper. For those new to my blog, this is in conjuntion with the Gifts of Art program at the University of Michigan Medical Center. My work is now showing in the main lobby! I'm so honored to be part of this exhibit. My work is viewed by as many as 10,000 people per day in this major medical center. My hope is that it will help to uplift the many people who are there for treatment. I held that thought as I worked on each piece, hoping that my work would be received with that purpose behind it. Beauty and joy are so healing!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A Year In The Making

About one year ago, I received the news that I would have a solo exhibit in the main lobby of the University of Michigan Health Systems in Ann Arbor, MI. I was told that I had a very large space to fill and that they would like it to be filled with large paintings. So I've been painting large! Prior to learning of my acceptance, I hadn't painted many large works. Since learning of my acceptance, I've painted as large as 8-1/2 feet wide! It seems I'm being tested to try new things.

I brought nine paintings with to be included in the exhibit. Six of them fit nicely. The majority of my paintings in the exhibit are 48" x 36" with the largest being 60" x 36". The theme of this exhibit is Fields of Flowers. This photo shows the partially installed exhibit.

When I read that as many as 10,000 people per day would view my works, I thought it was a typo. But when I visited the University of Michigan Health Systems, it was clear that it would be very likely to have that many people pass through the main lobby. If you are in the Ann Arbor area, I encourage you to visit this medical center and view the many exhibits on display there. Fields of Flowers will be on display through August 15.

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Sun Always Rises

This weekend was the installation of my largest painting yet -- an 8-1/2 x 3 ft commission. I'm honored to have been chosen to create this masterpiece, and grateful for the people who helped make it happen.

This painting is of one of the largest working freighters on the Great Lakes - The Lee Tregurtha. My clients told me the story of their adventure taking a cruise on this ship. I will never look at a freighter again without wondering if it is as tastefully appointed as this one. Their photos of the interior showed red velvet, brass, and leather, and a master chef on board. This was no ordinary cruise -- no casino or swimming pool on board -- but plenty of walking room and lots to see along the way. The two smaller boats in the painting are my client's 40-ft cabin cruiser and a sailboat he once owned.

I painted this over the course of about 3-4 months, in 5 or 6 layers. The first layer was a wash of color to indicate where everything would be placed. My set-up in my studio was two large easels supporting this massive custom-made canvas. Standard stretcher bars and lengths of wood only go to 8 feet long. This painting, at 8-1/2 feet, needed an expert to create a frame strong and supported well enough to keep the center from warping. The fine linen canvas covering it had to be re-stretched a couple of times to make it tight and smooth.

Once the initial layer was dry, I sketched and re-sketched the sun and boats to be sure of accurate size and placement.

Another layer or two of paint was added, and then the process of filling in the detail. I didn't want to start this step until I knew I had 3 straight days of nothing to do but focus on this painting.

When it was done, the painting had to dry for about 2 months to be sure the thickness of the paint was cured enough to be able to transport it without damaging it.

I thank God every day for the gifts I have been given, and give glory to His works!

Sunday, May 5, 2013


A dear friend asked if I would paint a portrait of her cats. I love to paint animals but it is very difficult to get them to hold still. So I generally go to the critter, when possible, and get to know it better. Animals, like people, all have personalities. I like to try to capture that in my work. In this case I took quite a number of reference photos because it became apparent that I would not be able to get all of the animals posed in one good shot. I took the photos all in the same room, under the same lighting conditions and then stitched the best ones together in Photoshop to create a composite. The hardest part about doing that is making sure that they are true to size, compared to the others. The other difficulty is that, no matter how good your camera is, the color in the photo is not always what is actually there in front of you. That's why it's so important to take notes and do studies. When it was almost done, my friend came and made a few suggestions, based on her knowledge of her own pets. I love the way the personalities came together.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

University of Michigan Health Systems Gifts of Art

I've been working on a collection of paintings in anticipation of my solo exhibit to be held in the main lobby of the University of Michigan Health Systems in Ann Arbor, MI, from June 17 to August 12 of this year ( The theme of my exhibit is "Fields of Flowers." This theme originated a few years ago when I began to paint fields of flowers that are impressionistic, somewhat abstract, and mesmerizing. The works I'm creating are larger than I normally do, partly because I need to fill a wall that is 35 feet long, and because I want them to make an impact.
I call this painting "The Hills Are Alive" because I was compelled to sing that song from The Sound of Music while I painted it. It is a triptych, with a total size of 60" x 30." It is mainly palette-knife painted with thick textures of paint throughout.

The Gifts of Art program at the University of Michigan comprises a variety of arts, including 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional art, dance, music, and more. It is estimated that 10,000 people PER DAY pass through the lobby of this amazing medical center. Gifts of Art is a year-round program that changes about every 2 months. A formal reception for the artists is not held because of the nature of the venue, but if you plan to go, please let me know and I'll do my best to be there!

My exhibit was chosen for its soothing quality. I hope that the people who view my paintings will feel the healing love and nurturing spirit that I try to put into all of my art. If you will be in the Ann Arbor area this summer, I encourage you to visit this wonderful medical center! A great time to plan a trip there would be during the Ann Arbor Art Fair, which will be July 17-20. It's a fabulous event, which comprises 4 different art fairs that cover most of the University of Michigan's grounds.

I won't be previewing all of the works in my exhibit, but hope to post some photos of the exhibit after it is in place. Thank you, as always, for your support and encouragement!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Let There Be Light

My studio is getting a bit cramped these days. I've been working on a number of large paintings, one of which is an 8-1/2 foot wide commission. Other paintings include a variety of fields of flowers for my upcoming exhibit at the University of Michigan Health Systems in Ann Arbor, MI. For that exhibit I need to fill a wall that is approximately 35 feet wide. The largest of the paintings that I will display there (so far) is one that is 5 ft x 3 ft. So... I apologize for not posting here lately, but I've been busy! And that doesn't include recovery from a year-long battle with an infected tooth that has finally met its doom. After two root canals and 12 weeks (on and off) of antibiotics, it's gone! And I'm finally starting to feel like myself again. My friend, Pam, recently posted a saying: "It's impossible," said pride. "It's risky," said experience. "It's pointless," said reason. "Give it a try," whispered the heart. My heart's whisper is getting louder. Look out, world!

In between larger works, I need to keep in practice with other projects, such as meeting deadlines and achieving goals for other commissions and exhibits. This "little" painting is 14 x 18. It reminds me of a warm summer's day. I call it "The Clearing." I hope it makes you smile!

I'll be teaching a one-day workshop at the Neville Public Museum in Green Bay, WI, on Saturday, April 27. This workshop will focus on painting oil portraits from a photograph. Almost all supplies will be provided. Call the museum for more information at 920-448-4460. Please join me!

And July 22-24 I'll be teaching a 3-day workshop at the Peninsula School of Art in Door County, WI. Now is the time to make your plans to attend! Call the Peninsula School of Art at 920-868-3455 for more information.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


I am constantly challenging myself to try new and different ways of painting. I did a painting similar to this one several years ago. What I liked about it then was the "feeling" that it gave me. Something inside tugged at me to try it again, but in a dramatic, new way. As a representational artist, I need to force myself to be more painterly. I think this painting accomplished that goal. It has been accepted to the 26th Annual Women's Works Exhibit at the Old Courthouse Gallery in Woodstock, IL. The exhibit runs from March 7 to April 28, with a reception on March 16.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Life is Short - Pursue Your Passion

It was about six years ago that I gave up my life as a graphic designer to focus on fine art as a full-time and forever career. The road has not been easy, but I highly recommend it. Here are a few of the things I've learned:

1. It's not about the money. Ok, maybe it was in the beginning, when I was newly off the corporate bandwagon. I've come to realize that the sharing of my gifts is far more important than all the money in the world.

2. Beauty is everywhere. It's amazing when you begin to see the beauty in even the most mundane things.

3. Love what you do, and the rest will fall into place.

4. Be fearless. Continue to press on. Some people will like your work ... some people will not like your work. It doesn't matter as long as you are using the gifts God has given you in the best way you can.

5. Always be open to learning new things.

It was only a couple of months after I gave up my "regular income" as a graphic designer that my father passed away, and I took time out to help care for my ailing mother. It was time well-spent and I will never regret it, but it did cut into my focus on my art. Life is short. Pursue your passion!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Happy New Day!

I just returned from another wonderful adventure in the west. Having friends and family in Phoenix and Santa Fe is such a blessing! But the trip was not without peril. We chose to drive (rather than fly) for a variety of reasons. One is that I want to travel with my art supplies and the airlines have made it very difficult to travel with cadmium, lead, cobalt, and titanium paints. Another reason is that I have developed asthma in the last 15 years and it's much easier on my lungs to slowly climb the mountains rather than arriving at high altitude in an airplane.

On the way, our trusty Yukon (with over 180,000 miles on it) started showing its age and the alternator went. We were lucky to be near a little town in Oklahoma where some very friendly and skilled mechanics put us back on the road in about an hour and a half. While Zack worked on our vehicle, I did a pencil study of him at work and gave it to him as a "tip." We climbed what should have been the final hour of the trip in blinding snow as we ascended the mountains. Many of you have commented how fortunate we are to have family where it's warm, but Santa Fe's weather is very much like it is back in Michigan - only drier - because it is at 7500 ft above sea level.

It was great to see everyone, especially my grandchildren! There is nothing like being surrounded by youth during the holidays. But I was also inspired creatively. This was the first time I've been to Santa Fe at the holidays, and it was magical. We strolled on Canyon Road (famous for the many art galleries in Santa Fe) among what seemed to be a million other people. Luminarias lined the pathways, and beautiful Christmas lights were everywhere. And just about the time when I thought I had seen enough, it started to snow. You could hear the throng of joy build as the flakes got nearer, until everyone was cheering and singing Christmas carols. There were hot chocolate and fajita vendors, and everyone had a marvelous time.

On the way home we stopped in Cedar Rapids to visit the final day of the Alphonse Mucha exhibit at the National Czech and Slovak Museum. I've always loved the fun-loving, art-nouveau style that Mucha has been known for, but I didn't expect to come away with the powerful sense of purpose that he put into his work. I'll be posting some of his quotes from the exhibit on my facebook fan page in the coming weeks. Won't you please follow along?