Monday, August 29, 2016

Go Figure!

"What we need is more a sense of the wonder of life, and less of the business of making a picture,"  Robert Henri

As we head off to Provence tomorrow, I am planning to emphasize that idea; perhaps some of the wonder and joy of being there will translate to the canvas.   Releasing investment in outcome is difficult at first, but once embraced, will set one free!  Eight painters and I will paint the countryside and enjoy the silky air,  as we share ideas and inspiration in the coming days - what a special privilege and opportunity for a re-boot and welcome respite from the studio!

Les Imberts, 12 x 10

En Plein Air, Painting Mt. Ste. Victoire, 12 x 9

Below are studies from a recent weekly figure painting class (taught by the inspiring Margaret Dyer) which I recently attended; while they are rough, I was able to catch a bit of truth, most likely because I wasn't worried about creating a painting!  

Model in Repose (from a photo reference),  12 x 9

Beach Study (from photo reference), 12 x 9

Speaking of the figure, a few spots have opened in my upcoming Figure Focus workshop on September 22 and 23, at Soulful Art Studio, just north of Atlanta in Cumming, GA.  This is a two day, fun session where we make "soulful" figure studies from photos of kids or any figure in the light.   Check out my website for details or call Jeanne Matey if you want to join us! (404) 403-8334.   

Look at this little French girl in blue shoes, 
full of wonder, as she watches an artist at the easel

Au Revoir!

Monday, August 8, 2016


"Wherever you go, go with all your heart,"  Confucius

Heart and Soul: Victoria, 16 x 12

Or as Robert Henri said, "Do what you do intensely."
Children naturally do this, non?  I keep reminding myself to commit to that painting... perhaps losing some part of it that I wanted to preserve -- in order to make a better overall statement.  That's easy to say, hard to do!

During  a recent workshop at the Bascom Visual Arts Center in Highlands, NC, I noticed several participants using thinned paint and tentative strokes in passages they weren't sure how to handle -- i.e., cast shadows, or perhaps background areas.

How well I know that feeling, when I'm thinking, "What now?"

My advice to myself and to others too:  DECIDE -- decide on something, a shape, color or value, to at least try,  and apply the strokes with generous paint and confidence.   As oil painters we can wipe off, scrape and re-state if it doesn't work.
Take the plunge, for confidence looks good on a painting -- fear does not.
Always, always, I strive for the look of confidence and ease, however I get there!

"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness; boldness has genius, power and magic in it."  William Hutchison Murray

Below are a few recents from my wonderful week in Maine, from my garden, where hydrangeas were abundant,  along with some reminders of Provence (where we happily return in about three weeks)!
This painting life continues to be a most special one ...

Study - Our Cottage, Maine, 12 x 9

Study - Friends' Cottage, Maine, 12 x 9

Dance of Summer, 36 x 36

Aix en Provence, 20 x 16

Coustellet, 12 x 12

Return to Les Murets, 24 x 20

Merci, Mes Amies, 14 x  11

Monday, April 11, 2016

Paint Diet

Dance Music, 40 x 30 - warm and cool color

I have found that it is vexing to many workshop participants to limit their colors - whether to six pigments, a warm and cool of each primary, or even worse to some,  MY everyday palette:
Cadmium Lemon, Cadmium Red Medium, and Ultramarine Blue, plus white.    

Yet, using a limited palette:

1.   Simplifies one's life, especially when traveling.
2.   Automatically creates color harmony, since all colors are derived from the basic three.
3.   Aids in understanding the Warm/Cool dynamic.
4.   And best of all, we can create some very subtle and sophisticated colors!

Any limited palette DOES, however, mean lots of time mixing...but it means less time buying and squeezing out paint too.  Also, my personal tendency is to throw anything on my palette into the pile, which is a likely path to mud. 

To me, the pros are worth the tradeoffs, but each of us has to utimately find her own sweet spot.  
After my workshop two weeks ago, however, I rediscovered true appreciation of the Paint Diet, as its benefits unfolded before my eyes in the wonderful work each participant created (wish I had more images to share).

Below are some of my recent pieces, along with two by Kathleen Smithson, who has come to
embrace the potential of "limits," (offering Unlimited Potential).

 Beach Girl, 18 x 14 - mostly warm color

 Remembering Alaska, 36 x 36 - cool and muted color

Pattern Dance, 30 x 30,  strong and subtle, high-contrast color

Below are two paintings by workshop friend, Kathleen Smithson, who told me she has been on the  PAINT DIET for a year!  Look at the colors she achieves... 
(and again, I regret only having two out of SO many nice paintings done at my last workshop hosted by Jeanne Matey at Soulful Art Studio in Cumming, GA).

 Smithson, Spring Ideas,  45-minute workshop study

 Smithson, Light on Roses,  60-minute workshop study

So, why not practice with a simple set-up and just a few colors?

Warm Up, 9 x 12

  Slim Down and Have some Fun - try the 

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Time Flies

Last Saturday was the 10th Anniversary Celebration at Huff Harrington Fine Art in Atlanta.  I have been lucky enough to be represented by them for the entire 10 years.  When Ann (Huff) and Meg (Harrington) joined forces, they decided to open their venture in a nifty small house, "Your Home for Art." 

Huff Harrington Fine Art
Rickenbacker Drive, Atlanta

Cozy and bright inside

It is not on a main thoroughfare (though just off one), nor located on a "gallery row," nor in a shopping area where walk-ins might happen.  No problem!  They gathered a group of artists, held spunky openings, with titles like "Splash," "Luminosity," and "Bastille Day." They got to know designers, advertised in magazines, held book signings in the gallery, and made it all work in a most splendid way!  Then, five years later they opened Huff Harrington Home, an emporium of good taste in furniture, all things French, cool jewels, and lots of art, bien sur!!  The amazing group of positive people that Ann and Meg have gathered sell loads of paintings and help collectors see the HH-inspired vision of artwork in their homes.  (My special thanks to Linda, Mac and Sam for all you do).
Last Saturday, there were painting demos during the day -- with Millie Gosch, Melissa Payne Baker and me at the easel, followed by a lovely party that night!  All enjoyed yummy wines, food, champagne and lively music by a group featuring the talented Pascal Bouterin, who not only is a long-term Huff Harrington painter, but a top jazz musician.

Below are a few photos of the goings-on!

Here I am painting in the gallery with Sarah, my sweet granddaughter, as model

Oil Sketch of Sarah, 18 x 14

My second demo done that afternoon

Festivities began in earnest at 6:00 p.m.!

Ann Huff and friend at the party

Pascal Bouterin on the drums, in front of cool paintings
by Lorraine Christie and Trip Park

My friend and fellow artist, Helen Farson, who came
from Greensboro, NC for the party.  She also
went to Provence on a painting trip with me in 2014.

A Provence-inspired painting by Helen Farson

Speaking of Provence, Huff Harrington sponsors painting trips to Les Murets, a lovely and charming getaway not far from Gordes.  I have been one of the painters leading these trips since 2011, and what a special experience it is.  Yesterday, I learned that two spaces have opened for the June, 2016, trip led by Bethanne Cople, who has been a gallery artist since the opening of HH as well.  If you are interested, give Linda a call at 404-257-0511, and check out The Artful Lifestyle blog on last year's art trip with Bethanne here -

"Whether you think you can, or you think you can't, you're right," Henry Ford

Ann and Meg thought they could and they DID -- create one of the best galleries in Atlanta, that is --  Bonne Anniversaire!  

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Let Go of Resistance

"Most of the shadows of this life are caused 
by our standing in our own sunshine," 
Henry Ward Beecher

That quote is so true -- as I emphasize at my workshops, relax!  Quit judging your work so harshly. 
Take time to appreciate the day, the cool air, the birds, the camaraderie of other painters and happy friends. 
Now it's time to paint. 
Breathe, appreciate, enjoy the process; fret not about the result.  Free yourself from worry - and let it FLY!

In January, I did a blog post at the request of Kelley Sanford on this very topic, where I discussed a few ideas for getting in the zone. 
(check it out at

"It is hard work and great art to make life not so serious,"  

John Irving

"Sunshine and Hope," 24 x 20,
Donation for Winship Cancer Center Benefit Luncheon,
March 1st

"Opening Night," 20 x 16,
Quinlan Gala and Auction, 
March 5th

"Possibilities," 30 x 24, 
part of Huff Harrington 10th Anniversary Celebration & Show,
February 27th

"Appreciation," 36 x 24, 
part of Huff Harrington 10th Anniversary Celebration & Show,
February 27th

"We Make Beautiful Music," 20 x 16, 
part of Huff Harrington 10th Anniversary Celebration & Show,
February 27th

And finally something fun, my paintings in the window
at Reinert Fine Art, Charleston, 
January 26th

So far in 2016, 
the primary focus has been on taking my own advice!  
Relax,  Stay in the moment,  
Release (self-imposed) pressure, Get back to the joy.

The joy truly IS in the process, not the result.  

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Happy Times

Merry, Merry Christmas!

"I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers,"

~ Claude Monet

"I hear and I forget; I see and I remember; 

I do and I understand,"  

~ Chinese Proverb

“To me, beauty appears when one feels deeply,”

~ Dorothea Lange

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Gesture and Feeling

"Drawing is like making an expressive gesture with the advantage of permanence,"

Henri Matisse

She Shimmers, 16 x 12 
(from a photo of a workshop 
student's granddaughter, which she kindly shared)

While preparing to teach a workshop later this week on painting children/the figure from photographs, I have been printing my handouts, and actually reading my own words on the importance of drawing practice to hone the eye.  It is essential to catch the correct angles, relationships, all of it -- in order to express the gesture and feeling of the subject. When those key elements are off, the painting does not resonate!

Pictured below are a few studies of late, where the truth of the pose is expressed to varying degrees; it is evident that I need to practice what I preach with more regularity!!  Also, I've included several very nice studies done by participants in my September figure workshop in Macon, all of which are quick timed exercises, resulting in very strong and true expressions of gesture and feeling.

My Moment, 12 x 9

Butterflies, 24 x 20

Soccer Girl, 16 x 8
Macon workshop demo 
( I have many photos of this
little girl, and I LOVE her vibe)

Fast Walker, 14 x 11
20 minute Macon workshop demo, 
done with chip brush from hardware store,
(one of our "warm up" tools)!

Here are a few studies done in Macon last month.  AND, I missed getting photos of many other terrific ones
 (all done in 90 minutes or less)....

Carol Costello

 Maureen Persons

Debbie Schuchmann

Debbie Schuchmann

Incidentally, today I learned that there are 2 - 3 spots in my workshop at Atlanta Artists Center this coming Friday and Saturday on painting children/the figure from 
call Zindi at AAC (404) 237-2324, if you would like to join us!