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Working with Negative Space... and Rambling


Image A                                                             Image B


Let's talk about the best kind of fun! Well, one of the best------ Painting negative space. 

The concept was first introduced to me by Kevin Macpherson in his book: Fill Your Oil Paintings with Light and Color. One of my all time favorite books, there. I highly recommend it. 


As you can see in Image A, my twig and branch and leaf bits are chunky, imprecise, and fairly unattractive. That, believe it or not, is how I like it. Having the sketch somewhat sloppy gives the painting a lot of freedom to choose its own path. If you let it, a painting sort of directs the brush. Sounds fruity, I know, but I don't know how else to describe it at the moment.


When taking full advantage of the negative space, you can make your twigs as thick or thin as you want, and you end up with more spontaneous, organic shapes. Aaaand you end up with some happy little accidents that add flavor to the subject. I often let the overlapping brushstrokes of the basic sketch decide where to put the little sky holes in a tree's canopy, while keeping the tree's particular growing habits in mind. It is easy to go overboard.

I have a little voice in my head that watches over the work saying "...aaaaand STOP! next spot. STOP! Keep going. ......itty bitty, now. We want a fine line there...." 


Here is the piece with the basic sky colors blocked in:






Work in Progress- 2093, on the flip side



These buildings have been my favorite subject matter for several years now. This will most likely be the last time I paint it. I did flip the image to give it a fresh zing. I like it. 


I have a few technical adjustments to make, but the basic sketch is in. Which is awesome because that means I can start blocking it in tomorrow!!!! EEEEEEEE! 

... I need to go sleep now, before that unGodly early alarm goes off.

Where's my hammer?





Night, y'all.





oil on canvas


Whew! That sucker took forever! Not bad, really, but it felt like the never ending painting at one point. I apologize for the shoddy image. I am not really set up to take good pics of paintings this size, so I end up with some glare in odd places. 

Happy it is finished! My youngest was very... uh... "helpful" and painted on this piece twice while my back was turned. Little Goober.


In other news- we may have found a fun new location for the studio. It has been a question of whether or not we want to build or find something ready to go. I am ready to go! This working in tiny spaces is for the birds. As soon as I get my new work space I am going to do cartwheels instead of stepping when I need to look at whatever is on my easel. So excited!  


And now I get to start the larger one. Hubba, hubba!


(My framers photograph my artwork for me because they are handy like that and they do a fantastic job. I will post a better image of this piece on my website when I get their photo)

Work in Progress- the Wimberly piece. Here's a link to the blog I've been using. I'll try to remember to post links here occasionally.

Tucked Away In Tivydale

Another Rodeo Painting, Sketching It In

I don't have a title for this one yet...


This is so much fun, I can hardly stand it!!! The sketch still needs some tweaking, but its pretty much in. My references for this piece came from two separate photos (I am pretty sure Nick took them both). The images matched up beautifully. I had taken a shot of the heeler's, guy on the right, team that showed both the header and heeler doing their thing, but my image was way too blurry and the heeler in the photo I used has a much better stance.


Oooo. I just realized that I need to tilt the steer's head just a bit... he looks a little too stationary.

Also thinking about setting the areana wall more at an angle. It's flatlining. Can you hear it? Errrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!


Tomorrow night I will continue adding values, make some changes, and then get crackin' on the really fun stuff--- blocking it in!


Man, I love my job!



Oh! And here's one I sketched out last night and started blocking in this morning.

Close Only Counts in Horseshoes and Handgrenades



He missed. And his horse came to a dead stop!

This piece still needs some adjusting too. The rider's legs seem too short (i didn't see that until I took the photo), and the horse looks a little on the fluffy side instead of the lean mean power machine that it was. With the odd initial brushstrokes goin in at the moment, he looks like a plastic pony! Hahaha! 

I'll be interested to see if this one turns out.


Well, Yippie-Kai-Yay, Y'all!

Pick Up Man

12"x 9"

oil on linen panel


Nick's parents gave us tickets to the San Antonio Rodeo for Christmas. They weren't just any seats, though, they were front and center, and absolutely perfect! We were up against the fence and covered with dirt from flying hooves- it was awesome!

Thank you again, John and Sylvia!!!!!

I had never been to a rodeo before, so this was a real experience. We took two cameras and extra batteries, and ended up with a gajillion amazing reference photos, and I want to paint them all right now!

I rarely paint people and animals, but with images like these, I am ready to expand my horizons. I used to spend hours and hours learning to draw horses when I was a little girl. A little bit of that practice from years and years ago seems to have stuck around. I have so much to learn! Man, I love my job!!!!

This little piece was a lot of fun. I got to flash my artistic license here and there.... take out a cowboy here, put in a little sumpin' sumpin' there. Its good practice. The purpose of this painting was more of a test run than anything else. I was wondering if I could pull off a larger piece, but was feeling a little intimidated. I will be starting a 24"x 36" rodeo painting this week. I combined some reference photos of roping teams and am soooo loving it!

Planning on starting another c'boy practice painting today.

Palomino Patrol, here I come!

Finding Peace Within the Chaos

Old Flock Ranch

30"x 40"

oil on canvas


Funny how something so busy can still impart a sense of peace.

I like this one.


Now.... what to paint next? Hoping to get some good reference photos at the rodeo on Thursday, but I have a whole 'nuther day 'till etween now and then, and I am anxious to get cracking on another painting!


God, I love my job!!! 



30"x 40"

Here's the piece I am working on right now. Old Flock Ranch again, but a different spot. All blocked in and close to being finished. I like the way it is coming out! So much fun!!!! I apologize for the blurry image. Didn't have my tripod with me. Well, technically its not WITH me, its in the car. But I didn't realize that 'till just now....  and its cold out there.

I love how the painting process is pretty much just a series of corrections.

As I left my piece tonight, I took one last look and saw some more places that need adjusting. I'm sure I'll see more tomorrow, but that is the perfection of it! No one is going to pull out all of my fingernails because my painting is not perfect. I can relax, take it all in stride, and trust that I will see what needs to be done when the time is right.

The process of personal growth is the same way. We often get down on ourselves for making mistakes and the punishment can be endless. (And sadly, we are often the only ones forkin' out the harsh judgements.) The greatest thing about seeing what we don't like is IN the seeing! Once we see what needs to change, we can get down to business.

Change means work, but just like the act of painting, the beauty is in the process.

I love to see a painting in progress, and I am coming to love seeing my own... especially AFTER I make it through a particularly trying piece of inner work! Hahahaha!

The Importance of Being Earnest

earnest 1 |ˈərnist|
resulting from or showing sincere and intense conviction :

an earnest student.

Growing up, I heard that I had talent, but grew to resent the word when I felt that this so-called innate ability that I was supposed to have been born with could abandon me at any given moment. It didn't bail. I misunderstood its meaning. At the time of my "talent abandonment" I was testing this talent thing, and I found that it ceased to exist when I ignored my practice end of the bargain. So I worked harder and alakazam! "Talent" returned.

Then it bothered me when someone would throw the T word at me because I felt like they were not acknowledging all the work I had done to get to whatever point I was at. Whew! Does it sound like I was getting caught up in a whirlwind of pointless irritation? Well, you're right.

Silly, but this was the path I chose to take in order to get to the following point:

Everything boils down to DESIRE. Intense conviction.

Wallace D. Wattles says in his book "The Science of Getting Rich" that talent is a desire that has been cultivated, and that we know if we have a talent for a particular thing if we have the desire to do it.

I can't count how many times I have heard someone say "I wish I could paint, but I can't even draw stick figures!" (That statement has always rubbed me the wrong way.) Wally summed it up perfectly. Anyone who WANTS to paint, can paint. They just need to learn how... and practice, practice, practice. Many look at the work of an artist who has spent a majority of his life in the study of art and assume that he was born with something they were not. Talent is little more than a desire.

Stronger desire equals more talent.

A fellow artist posted on facebook a couple of weeks ago that if you want to become a better painter, draw more. He was right.

And paint more. And study paintings you love. And talk with other painters about painting. And get in touch with that part of you that wants to create, and let that part of you run wild!

No more excuses.

Be an earnest student of the things that bring you joy.

For me? I search for paintings that make my heart sing. I study them. I practice, practice, practice, and every time I paint I learn something new. Even if it is just "how not to paint a believable rock." Hahaha!

My goal is to improve in any way I can by following my bliss, and to enjoy my becoming. And let me tell you, it continues to be one of the most rewarding goals I have ever made.