Dec 24, 2010

Captive subjects

“William does bananas”, 5x8" watercolor
Rita Reinecker of Minneapolis, Minnesota was winner of the red fruit contest. Pomegranate, she guessed and pomegranate it was. Dave Hawley of Huntington Beach, California came in second by guessing tomato. Both were good responses, both, more creative than an obvious red fruit apple response.

The first request I’m likely to get when I’m commissioned to paint a wedding is “paint my grandkids”. As you may know, my wedding painting is done on location, in the moment. No preliminary sketching with pencil, just alla prima paint application. If one of my subjects stays still for more than a minute, I’m fortunate. Kids, of all people, do not stay still for a minute. And so I simply respond to a grandparent’s request by saying, “I can’t guarantee anything. But then, neither do doctors and lawyers.” They usually cut me some slack.

This painting of William was a little less challenging. He was locked into his high chair, and so I had a captive subject. And his little dog Felton enjoyed snoozing, so he too was still for more than a minute. See the entire collection of William and Felton paintings by clicking here.

“Cavalier King Charles on his throne”, 6 x 8" watercolor

Dec 21, 2010

Out of the box

“Facing Finals at UNC”, 3x3" watercolor

I’m trying to find a link for Beaufort artist and good friend Jerry Stocks who tied with Donna in our little “Find the Dude” contest. Help me with this, Jerry, if you happen to be reading.

And here’s the last of the students studying at Carolina Union. Very recognizable in the crowd, with the UNC sweatshirt that gives him away.

In my past life as an advertising art director, creativity was king. No maybe not king, queen. The Idea was King. And so after trying to think out of the box for most of my life, I find myself still trying to come up with creative solutions. Here’s a valuable piece I learned from Bob Gill* when I was in graduate school, “If you want a more creative solution, make the problem more creative.” It works. Just try it. Ask yourself to name a fruit that’s red. Apple, right? Then make the problem more interesting, and ask yourself to come up with a fruit that’s red both inside and out. Name the fruit. I’ll post your response (or mine) on my next blog post.

Please note that I’ve left my last several students studying unsigned. This is because I don’t know where they’ll end up — the trash, in a mat singularly or in a dual-window mat where I only want one signature to show. Below is a series of quick-sketch watercolors I painted in Raleigh at Jerry’s Artarama for a fundraiser to benefit the National Wildlife Federation. Who says mat windows need to be cut perpendicular?

“Jerry’s Art-A-Thon”, multiple watercolors in an 8-ply multi-window mat

* Bob Gill,  author of Forget all the rules about graphic Design. Including the ones in this book.

Dec 16, 2010

We have a winner

“UGGs, book, and a laptop”, 2.5x4.5 watercolor sketch

Here’s one of the last two watercolor sketches I have of students gearing up for finals at UNC.

Interruption: my neighbor just stopped by with his usual Christmas gift for me, chocolate covered peanuts. I’m told he and his wife are now in their 80’s. Their son died just before Thanksgiving with a ruptured heart. 52 years old. As I watched his Dad step down my icy front steps, I thought to myself,
Sometimes life just kicks the crap out of us.

Two of you who put in guesses on the dude in the painting contest were friends of mine when my 36-year old husband Jerry died of cancer. I became a 29-year old widow. That’s when life beat up on me. I couldn’t have survived my loss without these close friends. Writer friend Leslie Carson Ritchie went out to eat with me when for some reason food wouldn’t go down in the presence of anyone else. Donna Jansen, also a writer, is a rock solid friend who I met in 1976 when she and I became a writer/art director team at TEAM Electronics, a chain of stereo component stores (remember those?) based in Minneapolis.

The contest was not rigged or biased. But I am glad Donna guessed the right dude. She’s been a great supporter of mine as well as a good customer. She is partial to my animal paintings and now has practically a farm in her collection — cows, sheep, goats, maybe others. It was partially her response to my last round of cow paintings that led in Fearrington Village (click “Losing the Muse”) to my last commission to paint a wedding. Thank you Donna!

Dec 15, 2010

The challenge continues

“The dude on the right is eating Chinese take-out”
4 x 10.5" watercolor
I have about a million things to be doing today other than running blog contests. Only one person tried yesterday to guess which of the students in “Reading Day . . .” might be the mystery student. And he guessed about every one but the correct one! This probably says more about my ability to draw than it does his ability to identify. So here’s anther visual clue. C’mon people!

Dec 14, 2010

A contest

Study for “Reading Day at Carolina Union”
9x12" watercolor

“Just-Not-Into-It-Dude”, 4x3" watercolor
Here’s a painting I shared yesterday in my weekly Behr Path email newsletter. If you’re a non-subscriber, clicking here will take you to the prompt that will allow you to become a subscriber.

The painting is a study for a larger painting that I plan to hang in my show next spring in Carolina Union at the University of North Carolina. In fact, this upcoming show explains my focus recently on the town of Chapel Hill and the University that calls it home.

The subject of yesterday’s blog entry is in the painting above. See if you can find him. I’m dropping in another one of him today. First one to pick him out of the group above gets a link on my blog. Already have a link here? I’ll give you another link on  Just leave a comment with your response. Ready, set, go.

Dec 13, 2010

A matter of focus

“Just not into it”
5.5 x 8.5" watercolor

It’s been forever since I last posted, so I’ll try in the next couple of days to make up for lost time.

Last Thursday was “Reading Day” at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In preparation for finals, students with their brains, books and laptops were draped over every possible chair, sofa, and windowsill throughout campus. This provided the perfect opportunity for me to do some quick figure studies in watercolor. When I did these paintings, I was perched on the third level of the student union looking down into the lounge below. I could see the students clearly, but most of them were unaware of my presence above.

This guy was fun to watch. He was reminiscent of the quick model poses I’ve sketched in live model drawing sessions. He changed positions about every minute or so. One minute, he’d be checking his cell phone; the next, trying to focus on a book; and finally, he was eating take out food (I assume Chinese) with chopsticks. You’ll see more of this dude in days to come.