topiary cats

topiary cats

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

George The Pencil Pirate

This year I participated again in the annual portrait swap over at wetcanvas.

When George sent me his picture, my first thought was "he has stubble!"
My second thought was "He is wearing glasses, too!"

I spent a few minutes feeling sorry for myself. Not because George doesn't have a nice face, he does for sure, but stubble AND glasses...I thought I was in trouble.

Then George did that knockout portrait of me in ONE weekend. I didn't think I was in trouble anymore, I knew I was toast. There was just no possible way I could follow that act.

So I had to come up with something that could have a redeeming quality if it ended up being frisbee status. In one of the reference pictures George sent me (not the one I painted), well, I thought he looked kind of like a pirate. It got me thinking. Also, George likes colored pencils a lot. I thought maybe if I did something clever it would conceal my faulty portrait skillz, and I wouldn't mind so much if everyone laughed at my painting.

Here is George the Pencil Pirate.

11x14 Oil on Panel (click image for a larger view)


Monday, November 28, 2011


Tonight I challenged myself to paint a portrait in exactly 1 hour.

Maimeri Natural Earth Pigments
8x10 oil on panel

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

2011 Swap Paintings

This year I participated in another painting swap.  I did a series and used some really cool metallic and interference paints paints to enhance the colors ad add a little zing.

All are 5x7 on panel

And here is the very fun paint:

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Becca's Magic Garden

I started this painting last December, and it took almost a year to evolve.  This is my dear friend Becca, who is an expert gardener and also an excellent painter.  The reference is an image she took of herself in her beautiful garden.  The plants in the background are based on plants from a medieval herbal.  I also got to use my gold paint.

When it is dry enough, I will send this to Becca.

12x16 oil on panel

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Self Portrait

I decided to do a self portrait this year.  This has been on the easel since July.
18x24 oil on canvas

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Ratfest Portraits 2011

For those of you interested in Ratfest portraits this year, please email me with your questions (my email is in my Blogger profile).  While I greatly appreciate your comments on my blog, sometimes there is no way to email you back directly if you do not have an email listed in your profile.

Please bring printouts of your photos.  Work space is very small, very sorry but I cannot work from your computer monitor.

Portraits are 9x12 on archival vellum.

Special Prices Only for Ratfest!
$10 for color
$7 for black and white

*Prices are for 1 rat only.  Additional rats in the same photo are $2 extra each.

Portraits from previous years can be viewed here.

Thanks for your interest!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

How PRT Really Works

The whole east coast should have joined me in PRT instead of August,.  Then, hurricane Irene would have just drifted out to sea.

I was in Charlotte since last Wednesday.  My stepmom and I were laughing at the hurricane hype on Wednesday.  On Thursday, we thought it might be a good idea to seek alternate flights, just in case.   My Sunday nite flight was cancelled.  We got it moved to Saturday night.  Then, just in case, we changed it again to Saturday morning.  Everything got cancelled, with re-bookings stretching through September 8th.  Both my parents were going out of town for work, so staying there was not an option since I don't drive and getting anywhere would be a problem.

I was so  bummed about leaving early...but then the Saturday morning flight got cancelled, which was a problem.  We did finally manage to get a flight out first thing this morning at 6am. The return flight cost $15 less than my round trip ticket.

I ended up missing the storm completely, got to spend extra time with my family, and Jet Blue refunded my entire flight both ways, and I made $15 in the whole deal.   Not too shabby.  Everyone should join me in PRT, it does provide a great buffer for Bad August Things.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Gamblin Paint PRT

I like Gamblin paint very much.  I also like the company.  They are environmentally conscious, make high quality products right here in the USA, are committed to conservation, make the best varnish ever, and they have a great website with lots of info. 

Truly, I want to love all things Gamblin.  But sadly, that has not been the case.  Back in 2006 I had terrible problems with their titanium white yellowing.  Noticeably, within a week.  It was awful.  Side by side tests with WN really showcased the yellowing.  I contacted Gamblin, they sent me another tube which also yellowed in a week. Since then, I have remained a huge fan of their colors but have avoided their white like the plague.

A few months ago I picked up a can of their oil primer.  A canvas I primed yellowed after a few weeks, which was very noticeable after I put on the second coat.  So I called Gamblin and told them the situation.  They said they had reformulated their whites and I should try them.  They even sent me two huge tubes of their radiant white and the titanium zinc, plus a new can of oil primer.   That was pretty nice, I only expected and asked for small sample tubes. I told them I would try them, test them out, and if they are ok I will switch over to Gamblin for all my whites except lead, because they do not make lead white.

(I LOVE lead. )

The jury is still out on the primer...the second coat so far seems ok but I need to give it more time before I am comfortable.

Gamblin's customer service, however, is excellent...yet another reason to love them.  I hope their whites are up to standard, because I really would like to give them my business.  And I do go through a lot of white paint.  :)

What they sent:

And here is a pretty pic I took for the website I am building: (click to enlarge)

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Color Chart PRT

Here is a little color chart...they are very relaxing to do.  :)  Click for a larger image.

Left to right top:
Vasari caput mortuum
Vasari red umber
Maimeri terra rosa
Rembrandt raw sienna
Vasari capucine red light
Gamblin venetian red
Vasari burnt sienna
Gamblin brown pink ----> I LOVE this color it is fiery!!
Vasari transp red oxide
Gamblin Transp red earth

Bottom left to right
Maimeri verona green earth
Maimeri antique green earth
OH green umber
OH Green earth (natural pigment only)
WN terre verte
Lukas 1862 Bohemian green earth
Gamblin terre verte

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

#52, The Pool, Central Park PRT

I had a little time yesterday to paint.  This time I used a slightly different approach and worked on a white oil primed panel, instead of a reddish toned panel over gesso.  (I primed with Gamblin's oil primer over gesso)

Over the white oil primed surface, I made a very detailed underpainting.  This approach worked well and forced me to handle all my problems at the start.  Next time though, I will use burnt sienna instead of red umber.  The oil primed surface was nice for this, as it can be wiped back to white unlike gesso, which stains.
I also used real turps and put copal resin in the underpainting so it would tack up quickly and not interfere as much in the color layers.

Palette was the Vasari proprietary greys from Scott Christiansen...I didn't want to deal with color as much as drawing and composition.  Time was limited and I worked large, so this enabled me to not have to mix colors so much.

!4x18 oil on panel

Sunday, July 31, 2011

PRT 2011

It's almost Pigeon Risk Time again.  *sigh*  Since it's gone from awful to non-eventful, I am inclined to hope things can swing towards positive?

Monday, July 04, 2011

Plein Air #51

At the beach was really misty and beautiful early in the day, but it cleared up and got sunny later on.  I was looking forward to painting the mist, guess I'll have to do it in my studio.

Here is my little sunny painting, 8x10 on panel

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Prozac Kitty

I actually made an appointment last month to put my cat down, and I couldn't go through with it.  She's been pretty good lately, although that could be because she does not have access to the laundry anymore.

A few weeks ago she peed on a bag of onions.  Last night she peed on a bag of apples.


So I called the vet again, and we are putting her on Prozac, and it's only going to cost me $6 a month! I hope it works to calm whatever crazy anxiety she has.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Ocean (#49 and #50)

FINALLY I have made it to 50 plein air paintings.  After 120 I won't consider myself a total newbie anymore, I'll be a beginner.  :)

We went to the beach today, it was so wonderful and relaxing.  I can't wait to do more ocean paintings.  This was my fiorst time painting at the beach, and my first time painting the ocean.

Both are 6x8 oil on panel


Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Stapleton Kearns

Today I met Stapleton Kearns!  He posted that he was painting in Central Park today, so I took a slightly long lunch and went to say hello.

Stape is a very friendly person, and he talked to me for a long time.  He has a pink camera and I tried on his eyeglasses.  Perhaps now I can say I have seen through the eyes of a master painter?

I deeply appreciate people who are true masters of their craft yet remain not only friendly, but truly strive to share their knowledge.  If I ever become so proficient, I want to be like that too.  Admittedly, it isn't every day one gets to meet such an accomplished painter- next to Stape I really feel like I know nothing, but not meaning that in a negative way.  It doesn't make me feel bad, it makes me want to take one of his workshops.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

46 & 47

Last Friday and Tuesday I attended two painting workshops in Central Park with Danielle Hatherley, who is an excellent teacher.  Both days were very productive and educational.  I got to work a little larger than normal with my new paint box.

From Friday May 7th, Shakespeare Garden:
11x14 oil on panel

Tuesday May 10, Conservatory Water
11x14 oil on panel

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sid's Vicious Dogwood

I had leftover paint from Thursday, so I panted Sid's dogwood tree because he posted such pretty pictures of it.  Sid is an excellent painter who lives in Maryland.

This painting was particularly good practice to find masses in very lacy areas.

8x10 oil on panel, hour and a half

Friday, April 22, 2011


I went up to the Cloisters yesterday and did a little painting in the park, spent about an hour on this one.

The palette is from Kevin McPherson's recommendation....Cad yellow light, cad red light, alizarin, viridian, ultramarine, black and white.  I might try this one again but without the black.

8x10 oil on panel

I was in very low spirits yesterday.  There are some not-nice things I have to think about concerning my cat.  She has become a real problem, and it is more than I have the capacity to deal with.  Basically, she pees on laundry.  In fact, she will go out of her way to pee on laundry.  I am extremely short on living space, time, and stress capacity. There is nowhere to isolate her, and nowhere to isolate  the laundry.  Otherwise I would do it.

Also, she does not get along with my daughter and considers her a rival.

As far as I know, my cat is 14 years old; she has been with me for 13 years.  She got a recent clean bill of health from the vet, nothing in the household has changed, I tried Feliway spray, odor deterrents, keeping her litterbox fastidiously clean, and finally an animal communicator who I met through a friend in Connecticut.  The animal communicator actually worked- perfectly- for six months. After our first chat my cat even stopped peeing in front of her litterbox-a habitual behavior she had been doing for a year and a half straight.

Then a couple of weeks ago she started up again, in the laundry.  I had another talk with the animal communicator. She said my cat has some pretty deep mental issues. (Which has always been true)  Apparently my cat just got tired of being good.  She has no sense of caring for anything beyond herself- well, she does love me but she is so high above herself nothing else really matters.  She simply doesn't care that she is causing hardship and unsanitary conditions.  Sleeping in the laundry she just peed on doesn't bother her either.

The bottom line is that I can't live like this.  If, after a first talk with an animal communicator my cat's long-term habitual behavior changed drastically and immediately, it is pretty obvious evidence of comprehension and self-control. I don't want to live with anyone (person or animal) that has such a basic disregard for everyone else in the household.

So I have some terrible options:  keep the cat in a cage overnights and when I can't supervise her, re-home her if possible (but who wants an old, mean cat that pees everywhere?), or take her on a one-way trip to the vet.

I'm pretty devastated about the whole thing.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Watch Out! There's Some Nudity About!

Friday night was the Draw-a-Thon at Pratt, and I went this year, and I made it through the whole night!

I don't have a whole lot to show for it work-wise, mostly a bunch of drawings like these below, which are between 3 and 10 minutes.  I prefer 5 minutes or less for figure drawing.  It's better to go fast, and it was so nice to work with live models again.  All the figure drawing is one of the things I miss most about being in school.

These are all 18x24 conte on newsprint, click for larger view:

It's such a different world, Pratt and the art environment in general.  I really miss it.  Being back in that space, in that zone was literally like being on vacation.  And I saw a old friend from my college years, which was really great.

I also did one ink wash drawing which is not finished, a pastel drawing which is not finished, and a really terrible painting with a bad pose and terrible lighting.  It was so crowded- very difficult to find space.  I even had to drink coffee...nasty stuff!  But all in all it was a great time and I am definitely going back next year.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Really Cool Central Park Tree

There is a tree in Central Park that I particularly love.  It lives right by the zoo.  This tree reminds me of one of my most favorite genius artists of all time, Eyvind Earle.

Eyvind Earle used to live here in NYC.  He ran laps around Central Park a lot.  I like to think that he, too, saw and loved this particular tree, and that he also found inspiration in it.

This painting was very much an experiment, mostly to see if I could pull it off alla prima, meaning all in one session.  It took a little over 2 hours.

8x10 oil on linen panel

Thursday, April 07, 2011


Three hours, magenta, yellow, cyan, black, white.  The reference is from a pic I took in Brooklyn last June.
8x10 oil on linen panel

Here are the paints.  They were on sale at Jerry's Artarama.  They are really cool and fun to work with.  I want to try them with optical mixing in glazes.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

My Sweet Rose (after Waterhouse)

I have been working on this painting since January.  It's big, and it was difficult and frustrating, but was a great learning experience.   This painting also prompted me to get my new easel, which was a long-overdue upgrade.

24x36  (61x91cm)  oil on canvas
(click image for larger view)

I have also been studying like mad.
Finished these 2 books cover to cover:

And have made serious progress reading these:

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Plein Air #42 & #44

I went out painting on Friday, then yesterday did another little painting while Daya was playing.
All weekend I have been feeling so discouraged with plein air...but will keep at it.

#42 6x8 oil on panel

I did a color version of the same scene but it turned out pretty awful.  The weather was colder than expected, I got tired, and my mind was just not clear.

Here is #43, 6x8 oil on panel, a quick tree study from the playground.  The sky needs another layer, because the venetian red tone was lifting and came through.  That's what happens from toning panels last-minute.

I will probably start tweaking my paintings at home from now far once the outdoor session is done, so is the painting.  Perhaps now I will try and focus on both the mechanics of outdoor painting and also getting a good end result even if that means going back into the painting at home.  Most plein air painters do this.  Perhaps I am being too ambitious to try and get it all done in one session.

This plein air stuff is really difficult.  It is frustrating that I can do a decent alla prima still life in the same time and size as plein air, the the plein air is hit or miss... more often a miss.  I need to keep reminding myself...plein are really is a lot more difficult, and I am still very much a newbie to it.  Also, I never did any landscape before I started plein air.  First 120 paintings before you *begin* to pregress... that's where it starts........ I'll get there eventually, given my time restrictions it just takes me longer than most.  But this is something I *really* want to get good at, and every single available chance I get, I go out to practice and i take local workshops.

It just seems like not enough sometimes.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

From the Sketchbook

I need to draw more and spend more quality time with my sketchbook.
Here is a little graphite drawing from tonight...this is a portrait of Nichole from the January portrait challenge over at WC.

Notarized Lunch

I took a walk this afternoon and encountered this Indian food truck on the corner of 39th and 6th...which is also, apparently, a Notary Public.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Sandra's Painting

My friend Sandra painted a picture of me!  This is a photo taken by Drusilla from this past December.  I'm painting in the snow in Central Park.  It was really cold that day!  The painting was never finished, I really should do that.

Sandra's painting (posted with permission):

 Dru's photo:

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Tea for One: White

My white porcelain teapot.
8x10 oil on canvas panel

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Tea for One: Black

Tea for One
8x10 oil on canvas panel

New Easel and Some Torrit Trees (#41)

I got a new easel!  It's about time too, my largest easel has been a full size Julian, it is extremely rickety and I had to fold in the legs and put it on top of my drawing table.  It was all right for small work but... since I started the Waterhouse painting in January, which is quite large, well let's just say things have been uncomfortable.  It's just not fun to stand on a chair just to reach the top of the painting.

Here is my beautiful new easel!

On Tuesday I went out painting in Central Park again.  It was COLD, even my snow-loving self got chilly after one painting.  I'm going to be doing tonal studies for plein air for a while- no color. I need the practice with values, and they are fun to do.  It's actually nice to not have to worry about color.

Torrit Trees (because I used  Gamblin's Torrit Grey)
6x8 oil on panel

For some reason I can't paint skinny trees no matter how hard I try....

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

The Record-Breaking Dentist Appointment

I got my teeth cleaned today-and I was in and out of the dentist's office in a half hour!  Including x-rays!

Monday, January 31, 2011

I Love Oil Paint

(Not shown: 4 more tubes in transit from Blick.)