Infancia Olvidada

Oil on canvas board, 27 x 27 cm. (approx 10.5 x 10.5 in.)
Why did I paint this?  Giving a reason for why we do something makes us feel we're in control, that there's a sense to everything.  But the world does not make much sense to me anymore.  This child's expression caught me, the beautiful sun setting in her face, the harsh poverty that surrounded her, knowingness in her face, and an ache within me that the only way I could honor her, respect her was to paint her the best way I could.

Art is a lie that makes us realize truth.” Pablo Picasso 


Forest Ritual

Oil on gallery-wrapped canvas 41x24 cm.

A reminder to myself to carve out each day some sacred space, no matter how small, how humble -- no need for a peaceful forest -- just somewhere to simply sit and bring forth what we are and what we might be.

“A ritual is the enactment of a myth. And, by participating in the ritual, you are participating in the myth. And since myth is a projection of the depth wisdom of the psyche, by participating in a ritual, participating in the myth, you are being, as it were, put in accord with that wisdom, which is the wisdom that is inherent within you anyhow. Your consciousness is being re-minded of the wisdom of your own life.”  Joseph Campbell


Baile Flamenco

                                                                 Oil on gallery-wrapped canvas 54 x 62 cm. (21.25 x 24.4 in.)                                     
It almost feels like a requirement if one is an artist in Spain to paint at least one flamenco dancer, yet it wasn't until I observed a class of these dedicated dancers that I became inspired.

Flamenco is so much more than learning an intricate dance.  It is learning the music (the "compás," the rhythm, the "canto," the song that shapes the choreography, the "toque" of the guitar that accompanies the song enhancing the movement), the technique (the footwork that is the hallmark of the dance, the "cuerpo," the arms, hands, head movement and body positions, the "palmas," the hand clapping that accompanies the singers, guitarists, dancers).  Then each flamenco song has its own style, "palo," its own emotion.  So this is where the personal interpretation comes in, where you make your own voice, your own dance.

                                                                                          "Dancing is an art. The floor is my canvas and I am the brush. And whatever I create comes from the heart." Author Unknown


Casita Maya

Oil on canvas board 27x27cm. (approx 10.5 x 10.5 in.)
From my imagination, no color boundaries, a house with its garden near the sea

"Curving back within myself, I create again and again."  The Bhagavad Gita


Paseo de Gracia

Oil on canvas board 30x30 cm.
Plein Air competition today in town of Vimbodí i Poblet, about an hour inland and south from where I live.  The theme was any place of the urban center of the town of Vimbodí, the monastery of Poblet, or of the municipal district as a whole. There was also a special award for the best work that includes some reference to this local tradition of glass-making (one or more pieces of glass, the Museum's building, the oven, etc.)  I was very excited because there was no size minimum or maximum.  Usually in Spain they paint quite large for plein air which really only can work in acrylic. 

I arrived at nine, had my canvas stamped, and then spent time on the outskirts of the monastery looking for the perfect spot.  I did some research this week and was overwhelmed by images of the beautiful interior of the monastery, the charming town, the surrounding landscape.  This month the vineyards surrounding the towns of Catalonia are so green, so lovely, that I knew I wanted to somehow reference them a bit in the painting.  This particular pathway seemed to have it all.  I have never painted architecture such as this, and I knew that I would have to strive to keep it simple, few details.  The block-in went well and then I painted the sky and worked on the main tree.  I was content until I began the pathway.  How to achieve dappled sunlight.  I worked on the pathway the most.  I think it shows the struggle.  Looking now, I wish I had given the grapevines a little more oomph.  My last strokes were to change the cloud formations.  I called it "Walk of Grace" in Spanish in deference to the monks who still stroll this pathway today as they have done for centuries.

After packing up and turning in the painting by two, we walked around absorbing the history and tradition of this town and its Cistercian monastery.   The interior gardens of the monastery were exquisite, the paths along the high turrets gave incredible views for miles, the glass-makers marvelled us with their art.  We plan to return and spend the night so that we can truly experience this very special region.

"To look, to see, to understand, to capture – however imperfectly – is to be part of the land in a way like no other." Jan Blencoe



Oil on canvas 80x100 cm.
I created this painting several months ago but I am reposting it because I am very pleased today to find out that it has been selected for exhibition and consideration for the prestigious "Premi Canyelles de Pintura" in Barcelona. I chose to enter this painting because, quite honestly, it was the only large painting I had on hand as the requirements were for a minimum size of 92x60 cm.  Even during plein air competitions here in Spain they must be at least 70 x 64 cm., which is not an easy task to do in one setting, especially since I tend to do everything in oil, not acrylic.  Anyway I'm very proud and excited to be chosen among such fine artists that are here in Cataluñya!  The top prize is 10,000 euros (approx 12,350 USD).  Woohoo!!!!


A Time of Flowers

Acrylic and mixed media on board 27x27 cm.

“Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes and having fun”  Mary Lou Cook, artist and peace activist


WIP A Time of Flowers

Acrylic on canvas board 27x27 cm.
Stretching one's limits...this is day one and two of an online lesson with artist Tracy Verdugo.  She begins the process making as many interesting marks one desires on a substrate.  Tracy used watercolour paper, which I did not have; so I used canvas board, which does not absorb as well as paper does the acrylic paints that I used.  I scribbled, dotted, poured.  Tracy has some wonderful tools that I would like to try one day:  acrylic inks, gel pens, interesting stencils.  After the first layer dried, a second layer of interest is added.  When that has dried, a face is drawn.  You then add shading and highlighting to the face but leaving some of the under layers visible.  I added some big blooms on top of her head.  The second day, today, I wanted to bring more focus to face.  Observing that I had probably placed her too close to edge of composition, I added some beads or maybe lace to her neck to not leave her so cut off.   I really like the stripes coming from her hair, but I'm not sure how I can incorporate them in the composition and make sense.
"More of me comes out when I improvise."  Edward Hopper



Oil on canvas 16x16 in.
"It is through the human figure that I best succeed in expressing the nearly religious feeling that I have towards life."  Henri Matisse


WIP Woman with Flower background

Oil on canvas  40x40 cm.
This is a painting that I've been wanting to do for a while.  I'm putting up progress photos for the first time.  I began by drawing with burnt umber.  One of my debilities as an artist is I tend to rush because I cannot wait to start painting.  Here is no exception.  Instead of making certain my drawing is correct I started blocking in the large masses of darks and then started painting the darks, half-tones, lights of the face and neck and some in her blouse.  Her nose is not right, as I look at it, and her mouth is not giving the expression I would like her to have.  I drew the flowers in the background fabric quite large and felt that if I covered the background with them, it would take away from the main focus, which of course is the woman.  I will continue tomorrow.
"No matter what you lose in the course of your life, or despite what you may never acquire, value and seek to diminish that which you will always have - much to learn."  Che Baraka, artist


Fait Accompli Saeta Challenge February 2018

  I wish everyone well in their art and their life.  Thank you for your kindness and inspiration this month.  Take care.  Hope to share with you soon.

"The essential ingredients for creativity remain exactly the same for everybody: courage, enchantment, permission, persistence, trust - and those elements are universally accessible. Which does not mean that creative living is always easy; it merely means that creative living is always possible."  Elizabeth Gilbert, writer


Posy in a Glass Bowl

Oil on canvas board 20x20 cm.
I began this morning with an acrylic flamenco dancer and it was a total disaster.  It was too late to start something else, so I went back to this bouquet that I did, I believe, the second week of the challenge and did not finish.  I hopefully sculpted out some believable flowers.  I still am not sure if they are peonies; they might be anemones or a newly grafted hybrid.  I added more color to the background and decided the middle blossoms were not working, so added some space for them to breathe a bit. 

I will miss everyone who has contributed.  I know the effort everyone made and we can all be proud of it.  We are artists forever.  Stay in touch, my friends.

"I love artists, because through art one can express oneself beautifully."  Meyer Baba, Indian spiritual master



Oil on canvas board 20x20 cm.
I wanted to capture the wonder of a young child's first time at the seashore.   I am still amazed each time I go.

There's only one day left of the Saeta 30-day Challenge.  I'm afraid I might go through withdrawal symptoms.  Life as an artist can be a bit lonely, and I have enjoyed feeling a part of an artist community.  I hope some of my fellow artists will sign up for my blog and friend me on Facebook so we can stay in touch and continue to support each other.  I thank you now for your encouragement and inspiration during this month.

"Look at everything in the world as if you are seeing it for the first time, and paint everything as if you were seeing it for the last time."  Andrew Hamilton, Professor of Fine Arts


Spanish road to Mediterranean

Oil on canvas board 20x20 cm.
I live on the Spanish coastline of the Mediterranean.  This is my interpretation of the feeling I get in certain areas of the Costa Brava:  bright sunshine, varied blues in the water, a sense of adventure and freedom.  
Different colors can add an interesting effect when used in the underpainting.  This has cadmium red and magenta acrylic under the oil layer.

"If painting weren't so difficult, it wouldn't be fun."  Edgar Degas


Bowl of Cherry Tomatoes

Oil on canvas board 27x27 cm.

"Since I am the creator of the painting and the first real 'viewer' – when I feel satisfied, I put the brushes down and hope that someone else will feel satisfied too."  David Lussier, artist

WIP on Day 25

Oil on canvas board 27x27 cm.
Although I was nervous about losing the brightness that appeared from the first day's work, 
I decided to attempt the beautiful pattern of blues and greens in the tablecloth.   It took some time mixing the different color hues, but it was so very meditative and focused.  Tomorrow I will finish the bowl.

"The motivation for design comes from an unfailing sense of wonder about light and its effects on the form of everyday images." Robert E. Buchanan, artist


WIP on Day 24

Oil on canvas board 27x27 cm.
It was meant to be a short-lived affair.  The reality was a very involved tête-à-tête relationship with cherry tomatoes.  

"My work is a conversation with myself." Lynne Yancha, painter



Oil on canvas board 20x20 cm.

"Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep."  Scott Adams, cartoonist


Oil on canvas board 20x20 cm.
After yesterday's foray into imagination gone wild, I was ready to simply try to do the best representational alla prima portrait I could today.  

"Any work of art can be looked at as a series of decisions made about problems that you give yourself about how to express a certain idea."  John Leon, sculptor


Going Places

Acrylic on canvas board
Definitely something very new for me.  This was from an acrylic-and-collage workshop lesson with Artist Annie Hamman.  Improvisation and imagination reigned and I knew not literally what I was going to do in the next moment.  It was like constantly falling off an abyss, very freeing but way out of control.  

"When being praised for a painting he had just finished, the artist, James Fitzgerald said, 'You should have seen it in my mind.'"  Guy Corriero, artist 


Red Beret

Oil on canvas board 20x20 cm.
There's something so charming about a red beret.  Even when one is a bit sad, it does not seem quite so dire.  I hoped by painting the background green, the complementary color to red, that it would add some visual energy.  I'm wondering now if a neutral background might have worked better here to really dramatize the red beret and her mood.
    "Painting as a discipline is an intelligent pursuit."  David Leffel
                                                                                  The photograph reference is courtesy of Zohre Nemati

Carrer amb Arbres

Oil on canvas board 20x20 cm.

“Color! What a deep and mysterious language, the language of dreams.” Paul Gauguin


WIP on Day 17

Oil on canvas board 20x20 cm.

 Today was full of mundane errands.  Then I spent a lot of time thinking what to paint.  I really enjoyed yesterday's painting process exploring color in new ways and the looseness of the composition.  I spent some time on a few thumbnails and then decided on this, a basic white stucco building with probably a terracotta-tiled roof.  I'm excited because I put some of these very interesting trees that are abundant throughout Cataluñya.  I don't know their name because I have never seen them until moving here, but they have large beautiful trunks and then thin, spindly branches reaching up.  I'm curious in spring to see what kind of foliage they will have and if they are flowering.  Tomorrow, color.  

"When inspiration doesn't come, I go halfway to meet it."  Sigmund Freud


Villalba Unrestrained

Oil on canvas board  24x19 cm.
Since living in Spain -- now almost two and a half years -- I have painted many white-washed pueblos and their streets.  As time goes on, they are becoming less and less white.  I don't think my sister-in-law would recognize this street in her town, Villalba del Alcor.

“I never met a color I didn’t like.”  Dale Chihuly, glass sculptor


Innocence now Shadows

                                                      Oil on canvas board, 8x8 in.
Today I'm greatly saddened and very angry.  Again, the images of the innocent having their dreams shattered, their friends murdered, their nearness to death...minds forever changed by a horrible reality that when someone is very sick, very lost, they have easy access to horrible killing machinery and not to a caring network where the well-being of our community is the priority.  We no longer ask why because we know the answer.  It benefits the profiteers, the war machine, those who gain by our increasing fear of one another.  Their power becomes stronger the more we become afraid of each other and lose faith that things can change.  One thing we can do, we must do, is to outlaw guns such as these.  We must support each other and educate each other and ourselves as to who really is in power and work together to do something to stop this madness, this climate of fear.  
So I painted these young ones holding on to each other as they demonstrate they are victims and not aggressors, walking to safety.  Their innocence is now shadows.  It's a quick study.  It is what it is.

                         “The opinion that art should have nothing to do with politics is itself a political attitude.”  George Orwell

Taza de Cacao

Oil on canvas 20x20 cm.
Today was one of those crazy days where you have to do a million errands and no time for painting, but this challenge does something to you, pushes you to do something, anything, more than you think you are capable of.  My cup of hot chocolate (cacao caliente) was sitting there, light hitting it, creating shadows, and I thought, no excuses, just paint it.  I added the red stripes because it needed some oomph.  The perspective is way off.  I'll work more on it tomorrow, try to make the handle look less like an amateur ear, work on shadows, maybe add more candy stripes.

"It's not what you paint that makes you an artist, but that you paint!"  Andrew Hamilton


WIP on Day 14

Oil on canvas 20x20 cm.
This one got away from me.  The flowers became so wet with paint that nothing held.  I'm going to have to put this one aside for a few days, let it dry, and then come back in and sculpt some form into the flowers.  I'd almost given up and then I started to mix up some turquoise and it made me feel better.

“Mere color, unspoiled by meaning, and unallied with definite form, can speak to the soul in a thousand different ways.” Oscar Wilde


WIP on Day 13

Oil on canvas board 30x30 cm.
It was so dismal here today, bitterly cold, raining.  Light was not good in the room where I paint.  I was a bit lethargic.  I had no plan of what to paint today.  I didn't have the type of energy I need to start a portrait.  A landscape was tempting, something sunny with sailboats on blue seas.  Then I thought flowers, maybe peonies or roses.  The public market was closed today because it's a holiday (only in Spain is there a holiday after a holiday; this one being the day after Carnival ended) so no fresh flowers.  So, voila, possibly they will become roses, maybe peonies, maybe a new flower that hasn't been created yet. 

One gets into a state of creativity by conscious work. Henri Matisse


Oil on canvas 61x46 cm.
I think this is finished for the moment.  I will leave it for a while, glance at it from a distance, listen to what it says.  Paintings do speak to their artist, don't they, and tell us to go back if they feel there's something that's needed.  I enjoyed the limitation of the Zorn palette.  The subtle variations of color here I believe are harmonious.  Next time I utilize it, though, I might try Venetian red instead of the red cad and add a bit of ultramarine blue to the ivory black because, oh, did I miss my blues.

“He who wishes to become a master of color must see, feel, and experience each individual color in its endless combinations with all other colors.”  Johannes Itten, Swiss expressionist painter


Untitled WIP on Day 11

Oil on canvas 61x46 cm.
It's Carnival time in Cataluñya and there were lots of festivities that were enticing me away from the easel yesterday, but I managed to get a few hours in.  I am using the Zorn palette for this painting, hopefully achieving the harmony that Anders Zorn was famous for in his portraits using only four colors:  red cad med, yellow ochre, white, ivory black.  In Zorn's day there was more blue pigment in the black he used.  Although it can be frustrating to accept today's ivory black with white as a form of blue, it certainly pushes you to be resourceful.  In theory the grey next to a more orangish color will cause the grey to look blue.  We'll see if I can achieve that.

"Oil paint is sensuous and I find it highly seductive. Like life."  Ann Dettmer, contemporary artist


Untitled WIP on Day 10

Oil on canvas 61x46 cm.
The creation of a finished painting in one day eludes me again, but I am painting.  So, therefore, I will post this work in progress.  I am using the Zorn limited palette on this portrait:  ivory black, red cadmium light, yellow ochre, and titanium white.  

"You need both a bit of mind and a bit of mindlessness to make a painting.  It's a play between control and surrender."  Paul de Marrais


Couple on Albufeira Beach

Oil on canvas 20x20 cm.
When we went to Praia da Oura in Albufeira, Portugal, last summer,  a lot of photos were taken, the water with its beautiful blues, the sand golden, and people from all over Europe who seek out this praia (beach). This couple's gait together, their gaze in the same direction, almost as if they were one unit (which probably they were) appealed to me.

“The secret to so many artists living so long is that every painting is a new adventure. So, you see, they're always looking ahead to something new and exciting. The secret is not to look back.” Norman Rockwell



Oil on canvas board 20x20 cm.
I started preparing for the Saeta challenge in January because it is difficult for me to produce a painting in one day, but I'm now caught up.  So as of this painting officially I am a daily painter.   I say that out loud to hopefully commit to it.  I am going to see if I can do smaller works, studies of things I need to work on, along with trying to find a place to live because these are temporary quarters. 

"I've seen women insist on cleaning everything in the house before they could sit down to write... and you know it's a funny thing about housecleaning... it never comes to an end. Perfect way to stop a woman. A woman must be careful to not allow over-responsibility (or over-respectabilty) to steal her necessary creative rests, riffs, and raptures. She simply must put her foot down and say no to half of what she believes she should be doing. Art is not meant to be created in stolen moments only. " Clarissa Pinkola Estés



Oil on canvas 40x40 cm.
There is nothing for me more satisfying, more frustrating, more inspiring than doing someone’s portrait.  Attempting to know them with paint, really get a bit of what is behind the mask, the flesh, the bones, finding that spark in the eyes, that history in the jaw, those words spoken by the lips…it is the crème de la crème.
                                                               “Flesh was the reason oil paint was invented.” Willem de Kooning


Road to Scripps

Oil on canvas, 20x16 in.
I was a court reporter in San Diego for many years, a very crazy, stressful job.  When I had the chance after work I would swing by Scripps La Jolla on my way home to immerse myself in the sunset at the edge of the sea to remind myself that all was not lost in madness.  It’s always been my refuge, the sea.  I was born on Entrada (Spanish for “entrance”) Drive in Santa Monica, California, one block from the Pacific Ocean.  Wherever I am in the world, if close to the ocean, I’m home.

The cure for anything is salt water:  sweat, tears or the sea."  Isak Diensen


Well Read

Acrylic on canvas board, 24x19 cm. 

This was a quick study that I did from a lesson by Artist Leslie Wood.  I am participating in the Paint Your Heart and Soul program and weekly there are new artists who share their techniques.  I am an oil painter usually and find the quick drying acrylics frustrating, yet the limitation of only raw umber, Paynes grey, and white, along with Leslie's lullaby voice and encouraging instructions, made the whole experience pleasurable and creative.  This might become a larger painting adding the nuances I can find with oil.

                                       "I dream a lot. I do more painting when I'm not painting. It's in the subconscious." -Andrew Wyeth


Kinetic Reflection

Oil on canvas board 24x19 cm.
I am living vicariously through my painting today.  This is a very bleak and cold day here south of Barcelona.  Spain is expecting temperatures to drop over the next few days the like of which hasn't been seen since 2012.  I want to be free of clothes and not care and swim in aquamarine warm water.  Her arms are rather long.  Maybe I will tweak it tomorrow. 

"Do studies, not pictures. Know when you are licked — start another. Be alive, stop when your interest is lost. Put off finish — make a lot of starts. It is so hard and so long before a student comes to a realization that these few large simple spots in right relations are the most important things in the study of painting. They are the fundamentals of all painting."  Hawthorne on painting



Oil on canvas 40x40 cm.
When the Saeta Challenge came up, I pondered over possibly choosing a theme, and the ultimate goal one time will be to whip out 30 portraits, loose and free, alla prima.  I did this in January in anticipation of the challenge.  This was three painting sessions of my neighbor Jordi.

“You know how you feel somebody looking at you, and you turn, and somebody actually is? It’s the same at an art gallery. You’re looking at one portrait, turn around, and there is a work of art directly behind you. Because it’s all energy. Every single thing has energy.”  Marina Abramović


Oneiric Forest

Oil on canvas 10x8 in.
I am not certain if I chose purples and blues for this painting because I am drawn to them or if  my difficulty with greens subconsciously shifted me in that direction.  This is a creek off of the La Sarre River near the charming town of Abreschviller in France.  
                                                                   "Colour and I are one. I am a painter."  Paul Klee, 1914.


Body Song

Acrylic on canvas board 40x40 cm.
Every time I participate in the Saeta 30-day challenge I wish life could be easier, slower, so I had time to just paint and for a month forget the world and embrace this.  But of course life is not like that, nor will it ever be.  So whatever I do this month will be what it is.  My gratification is the friendships I have gained every time I've done this, the inspirational and amazing artwork I would never be exposed to if I didn't do it, and personal satisfaction as I continue to develop myself in my art.

To begin the month I am posting this painting.  This study was inspired from a workshop lesson given by Artist Tina Berendsohn exploring contour lines and negative space and mostly giving free rein and space to one’s own creativity.  
            "I like to paint. I don't even care if I make a good painting. I just like to paint." -- Edwin Dickinson


Adieu 2017

Oil on canvas

I have not posted in a while due to another big move in this life journey, but I have been painting, and I wanted on this last day of the year to mark somehow what I am working on at present.
What follows are words by John Steinbeck on the first day of 1941.  They resonate with me today.
"Speaking of the happy new year, I wonder if any year ever had less chance of being happy. It’s as though the whole race were indulging in a kind of species introversion — as though we looked inward on our neuroses. And the thing we see isn’t very pretty… So we go into this happy new year, knowing that our species has learned nothing, can, as a race, learn nothing — that the experience of ten thousand years has made no impression on the instincts of the million years that pre
Not that I have lost any hope. All the goodness and the heroisms will rise up again, then be cut down again and rise up. It isn’t that the evil thing wins — it never will — but that it doesn’t die. I don’t know why we should expect it to. It seems fairly obvious that two sides of a mirror are required before one has a mirror, that two forces are necessary in man before he is man. I asked [the influential microbiologist] Paul de Kruif once if he would like to cure all disease and he said yes. Then I suggested that the man he loved and wanted to cure was a product of all his filth and disease and meanness, his hunger and cruelty. Cure those and you would have not man but an entirely new species you wouldn’t recognize and probably wouldn’t like.” 

Fait Accompli! Saeta Challenge 2017


Working on Oneself

Oil on canvas 40x40 cm.
This is my last post for the 30-day Saeta Challenge.  Although I did not post every day, I did paint almost every day this month and I feel the growth.  Life is a practice in every aspect.  Hopefully we choose practices that do no harm, inspire others, make the world kinder.  It is gratifying to know that the more we practice (anything), the more we learn, the more we put into practice.  This part of my life that is the painting practice is important to me, gratifying.  As to this portrait, well, it is ongoing, as is the subject.  As I quoted Whistler in the previous post, it will be a while before I look like my portrait.
Thank you to everyone who shared this month's journey with me.  It was a joy to see your art, to be inspired by your art.  Thank you for your generosity and kindness in your responses to my art.  Until January...
"Everything is a self-portrait.  Everything is a diary."  Chuck Palahniuk

Infancia Olvidada

Oil on canvas board, 27 x 27 cm. (approx 10.5 x 10.5 in.) Why did I paint this?  Giving a reason for why we do something makes us feel ...