Learning through the Masters

In a previous post, we chatted about "learning from other artists" by studying their techniques, color, composition and brush technique. The best way to "learn"  is by "copying" their work, which in and of itself seems a bit presumptuous and pretentious; but it works.  Nothing more fun than analyzing and studying from the best.

I have not tired of the snow which still lingers in the backyard clean and pure, just a wee bit tattered! When I paged through and spotted Monet's winter scene FROST in Impressionists in Winter: Effets de Neige, the simple sincerity of the painting intrigued me, it looked so casual and effortless. Beg your pardon Sharon, but nothing is easy!  But game I was to try. And difficult I found it to be.

 I decided to use two easels and work on Monet's image FROST and using the same techniques, paint my neighbor's yard, with its fleeting Red Winter bird on the second easel.

First step was to tone the panel with a cool gray mix. Then using charcoal sketch in the basic outlines....not draw, just give suggestions of movement and structure.
Unfortunately  my step by step photos slipped from my computer!!!.  We go from first step to final product in the snap of a finger.

And here are some completed paintings for you to enjoy.


This beautiful Winter Bird visits all of the bird feeders in the neighborhood. It is like a red satin ribbon lifting the frosty limbs.

This is my copy of FROST.  I loved the movement and many layers Monet was able to execute with very few pigments. And such light feathery strokes.

The Havre de Grace wharf is still filled with the remnants of our massive snow storm. Chunks of ice drift with the tide, seagulls  walk gingerly over the slippery surface, boats  have tall hats of snow, thick ropes are frozen stiff and arthritic, and still people flock to watch the magnificent view...many sitting in their warm cars sipping hot drinks, the hardy few briskly walk the boardwalk. Their reward is the best view of all...cameras go snap!

 Years ago our son requested a full size copy  of this painting Monet did in the Azures. At the time it was a huge challenge and I thought I would never finish the short choppy strokes of bits of pigment. But he loved it and it is still hanging in their home.

We end with a few softly painted canvases. The difference is in the strokes of paint, much longer and more sustained, than I learned working in Monet's style.

Which is your favorite? Would love to read what you think.

Until next post...smiles and joy in your life.

Year of the Tiger...grrrrrr

Happy Chinese New Year  !!!   In Asia it is a total all out experience that lasts for several weeks.  My daughter, (who lived in HK) , and I spent a week celebrating Chinese New Year. Would you enjoy viewing my 1,000 photos? Didn't think so. I will restrain myself.

This year is the Year of the Tiger. If you LOVE enthusiasm and pure joy; families dressed in their finest clothing; children showcased in traditional Asian clothing; the color RED; Pussy Willows tinted RED along with all sorts of other flowers;  Fireworks that boom and explode like glitter filled rockets over the entire skyline of Hong Kong; colorful paper decorations and Asian shrines; Good Luck RED envelopes with a few dollars tucked inside for special friends and family; mobiles that dangle fish, Asian characters, monkeys, scrolls and lots of RED tissue paper; hoards of crowds celebrating the beginning of a New Year; well then you must go to Asia, anywhere in Asia for the experience of Chinese New Year.

My daughter is sitting stiff as a Buddha, in a line of a hundred golden Buddhas lining very steep stairs. The Wishing Tree is LADEN with red and gold paper stuffed  with good wishes for the New Year.

We have several family members who have lived or are living in Asia. I have totally fallen under its spell......the people, the food, the exotic spices, the hustle and bustle of big cities and the quiet, simple life in the out lying villages. Everywhere is something to learn and observe, it is a beautiful world filled with sincere, happy, joyful, worshipful people.

One of my favorite ways to explore and record our travels is through my Art Journals.   Here are a few to enjoy.

Collage on black paper journal. Glazed. Original acrylic painting of dancer.

Asian papers used for background. Clippings from brochures, photo from original painting adhered to paper with soft gel medium.  Crayon coloring.

Asian wrapping paper from museum shop. Chinese folk art feature. White Night by Mary Oliver.

The Chinese are consummate artists be it sculpture, gold work, carving, painting, brush and ink, decorative stitchery or calligraphy. One of my favorites was collecting post cards and prints of Chinese Folk Art, sometimes known as Peasant Painting. Modern folk art painting is at once ancient and young. There is a revival of beautifully painted generic Chinese scenes of everyday, common activities. There is no ostentatious pretension. The small paintings possess the fervor, simplicity and straightforward qualities of the laboring people. 

Our four little 'muggers' who live in Asia love to paint and draw. They are dressed in Chinese New Year clothing. Each created a card for  Candy Grammy and Grampa.


There are some FABULOUS artists who create books for children and adults. They showcase the traditions, holidays, foods, crafts, etc. And although there are many, I have chosen to present a few that have exceptional illustrations.

Six years ago my daughter gave me one of  Lorette Roberts beautiful watercolor sketchbooks, Sights and Secrets of Hong Kong. Loretta lives in Great Britain but has spent many years wandering the streets, alley ways, observing and recording her impressions of Asia. I remember being so totally enthralled with her work, I had to take it to bed with me every night to just enjoy the art!  I worked up the nerve to email her and tell her much I enjoyed her artwork. Very friendly and gregarious, she offered to meet me. This was unbelievable!!!  I was 'over the moon' excited. The day of our outing I got terribly sick. I NEVER get sick when traveling. I had to cancel and felt so horrible and disappointed.

Fast forward to this year, only we are in Singapore. We noticed an add that Loretta was teaching a one day sketching class at the RITZY RAFFLES HOTEL. Was there a place for my husband and me?  The answer was YES!!!!!  An eager and excited class gathered at the inner court of the Raffles Hotel....think Colonial  and Fancy Nancy!!!  After introducing ourselves, she shared some ideas, thoughts and techniques. We all scattered and drew our impressions. Later we celebrated over the famous Singapore Sling.  Visit Lorette at her website listed on the right hand side of the blog.     All of the participants were so happy to be sitting in a beautiful setting, sketching their points of view and having Lorette drop by speaking encouragement in her soft British accent as she shared a few pointers and ideas.

Later I found her Sketches of Hong Kong, 2010 Calendar, a photo shown here. Perhaps you could order from  her website.

Nothing really fancy about her sketching materials. She just GOES FOR IT!!!

The famous Singapore Sling....virgin or otherwise. 

My friend, Ellen Williams created many kimonos out of paper for an art exhibit a few years. It was a huge undertaking on her part. But fearlessly she created an amazing Asian paper wardrobe. Very original. In homage to all of her work I painted a canvas to remind  her of her vision, perseverance and execution of exquisite workmanship.

May you all have a wonderful Year of the Tiger. May all your artistic dreams come true.

Long-Long's New Year: A Story About the Chinese Spring Festival
Moonbeams, Dumplings & Dragon Boats: A Treasury of Chinese Holiday Tales, Activities & RecipesMoonbeams, Dumplings & Dragon Boats: A Treasury of Chinese Holiday Tales, Activities & Recipes

A Funky Valentine Day

Happy Valentine's Day..

Whether you are walking the deserts of India; sketching at the beach; gazing at each lazy flake of snow; eating way too much Valentine candy, hmmm cherry chocolates; walking the trails of a local park; sitting cozy at a cabin; gazing at a pond covered with ice; seeing a romantic movie; sketching palm trees or just "being"....wherever you are, may you be shown, and share, kindness and love with people who are special to you.

My husband and I have developed a serious case of CABIN FEVER!!! living in the land of the never ending snow! Excitedly I made the plans for a fantastic "cultural" Valentine day; first stop by the Baltimore Museum of Art, new Cezanne exhibit; second, attend a free Concert at a beautiful white steeple church in Baltimore. The musicians all teach at Peabody and/or play with the Baltimore Symphony. Great quality. Wow, we were excited!!

 We wiggled out of our snow packed drive way,  and began wondering where we would park with all the snow pushed into parking lanes. The hour drive proved the point. All roads were one lane, if someone shoveled out a street side parking spot they placed a "marker" like a chair, table or box to hold their place until their return. 

 An hour later we were at the BMA and not a CAR was in sight. Something wrong here. We drove up to the doors, sure enough two signs stating the museum was closed! You have to be kidding me. We had our sketchbooks in our satchel, pencils sharpened and full of enthusiasm.  Not fair! 

 Okay we still have the CONCERT. We drove around and around the beautiful white colonial church and again not a car in sight.  Determined I got out of the car and ran up to the door and pulled HARD. LOCKED !

 So now what do we do with our afternoon reserved for a touch of "culture"?  How about DINE at a really FUNKY, WACKY, BOHEMIAN restaurant.  Would it be opened?

 The pictures will tell the story because YES there was one parking space right by the front door!  May I introduce you to PaperMoon Diner in Baltimore, MD.

Yes, that is a bathroom sink full of snow, usually flowers!

 A magnificent bird house...love the snow on the roof blending into the clouds in the sky.

 This is FUNKY at its best..everything, including the kitchen sink was glued to the ceiling, walls, fans.....wonder if they used Gel Medium, tee hee!

Now what to eat at dinner...well there was everything from pancakes to salmon. But the HORSERADISH caught my attention.

 Don't be disappointed, it was really YUMMY. Foccacia bread, thin roast bread, cheese, tomato and lots of horseradish!! I only ate half because I had to have my very favorite dessert...for the moment that is.....

 Bread Pudding with sauce and whipping cream.  Yum beats out cherry chocolates by a mile!  

Learning from the Masters


With such a stupendous, amazing, ethereal, devilish snow as we are undergoing, I simply have to pay homage to Mother Nature.

This is our second blockbuster storm--all records broken--and it has been amazing to watch it unfold. The screens on our windows look like white dotted Swiss Organza. The usually rolling green yard has taken on the appearance of drifting sand dunes in Africa. The pond is smothered ice and snow and I wonder how our little pond frog is holding up. The denuded bushes look like cotton plants you would find in the South.

And all of this reminds me of an exhibition I saw at the Philips Gallery in Washington DC, over ten years ago.

Impressionists in Winter  Effets de Neige

It was an extraordinary exhibition; a life experience one would never forget. This winter wonderland of paintings was a result of six painters (Monet, Caillebotte, Pissarro, Gauguin, Sisley and Renoir) fascinated with the light as reflected upon the snows from two extraordinary winters in Paris.  During the winters of 1879-80 and 1890-91 the Seine froze solid. Imagine painting plein air in such conditions. The results were breathtaking.
I took a challenge to learn a smidgen of how to paint snow. My painting of choice was by Sisley,

Snow at Loouveciennes
This painting hangs over our white brick fireplace every winter.
  The photo below was taken with a Holga camera of the Havre de Grace Wharf two days ago.
Talk about colors in snow!!!


iphone madness: a photo a week

Second week, does that mean a series is in the offering? We live in Maryland, yes the snow bound state that had a gazillion  tons of snow-- land on us, between us, over us and around us. It was three days before we dug out, well someone took pity on us and brought over a huge snow blower!! Once released from our white cocoon we headed straight for the Chesapeake Bay and the board walk. Snow piled high as Mt. Everest formed snow fences around the wharf; boats were covered with quilts of snow and slush; a few brave folks walked the boardwalk in moon boots. Although I took my SLR, it was my iphone I was anxious to use.

Using the Camera Bag app (1.99) for  iphone,  I photographed with a "Helga" camera.....see what you think? Love the color.  More good news follows the pics.

Love the slight blur and blue greens. 

The good news is that you do not have to have an iphone with its fun apps. Camera Bag is now available for mac and pc. Take your photos and pretend you are using cameras like Helga, Lolo, Instant, Cinema, Fisheye, Silver, Magazine, 1962 and 1974, and Mono.
All for about 20.00 


You just download your favorite photo and experiment with different lenses until you find just what you LOVE LOVE LOVE!

The remaining two photos were with my Sony, regular lens...can't play favorites here!