Sunday, April 10, 2016

Paintings from My Trip to Cuba

This February I had the fantastic opportunity to visit Cuba - and paint!!!
100 of us participated in this adventure, thanks to Eric Rhoads of Plein Air Magazine who organized this Historic trip.   And it was perfect timing as I just happened to be in search for a way to get to Cuba to paint all those fantastic old cars.

The sights, the smells, the sounds, the colors, the cars and the people.  All made an ever-lasting impression on me.
While I was there I went entirely off the grid for the week, which was pretty liberating:-)  and it's been a bit of an overwhelming endeavor to blog about it since I got back :-)

I've been filled with gratitude for many more opportunities that have come from this trip and
you can read all about my experience in 2 articles written by local papers (see the links above), and you can also read my thoughts on the trip at

Turner Vinson created a video about our trip that you can see here.
See more of my photos on FB here

There are 2 gallery exhibits that I will be participating in:
The Crystal Moll Gallery in Baltimore, MD April 4th to May 24th
The McBride Gallery in Annapolis, MD May 1st to June 26th

Coming up I will be posting the studio pieces I've created since I got back in the states, but
here are the pleinair sketches I did in Cuba:

"What's New becomes Old" Oil, 8x10"

"Built to Last" Oil, 12x9"

"Alley Patina", Oil, 8x10

"Renee's 56' Buick" Oil, 12x12"

"No Drama", Oil, 9x12"
"Ghosts of the Past", Oil, 12x12"
"Reina Maria"Oil, 8x10"

"Taller Experiential Graphica", Oil, 12x12"
"A Day in Cojimar - Passing Hemingway" 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

13 of 30 - Dogs and Cars - Wanderlust

Oil on Linen on board
This is more of a camper than a car, but I've been wanting to paint it for a while!  It sort of fits with my general theme of dramatic light...and hopefully no one has noticed I took a few days off from the challenge;)   This camper belongs to a gentleman who stopped by the workshop I took with Colin Page last year around this time on beautiful Balboa Island.   He enjoyed seeing the artists at work, and if I remember correctly he was selling postcards and such on his journey up and down the coast.  He sure has a unique and delightfully decorated mode of transportation!

On another note, I will be teaching a Workshop this April 16th and 17th in Thousand Oaks, focusing on Composition and Confident Brush Strokes.
We will be working on simplifying what we see through several value exercises and, making our brush strokes count!

Learn more here

Thursday, January 7, 2016

7 of 30 - Dogs and Cars - The Lexie Look

The Lexie Look
Oil on Gessoboard

This was a little more colorful, even for me.   It was fun painting on gessoboard at this size and playing with some different brush strokes.

And it was no wonder Lexie was looking at me with a little caution as she had just greeted our dog who isn't always on his best behavior;)

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

6 of 30 - Dogs and Cars - Desserts to Die For

Desserts to Die For
Oil on Linen Panel

So painting this one made me really happy!  You know when you find a subject that combines several of the things you get excited about painting!
I got a photo of this scene at an art event.   I love cars with personality and the light just happened to be fabulous at the moment I saw this.   I've been painting a lot of paintings with a dramatic sun recently it seems.   I've also been thinking a lot about the work of Bernie Fuchs lately, and I'm really inspired by his compositions, so I felt that in this piece I got to play with some of what's influenced me in his work....I could still get looser though!!

Here are a few examples of Bernie Fuchs work from my pinterest page:

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

5 of 30 - Dogs and Cars - Mike's Museum

(Feeling right at home) in Mike's Museum

In December I had the great opportunity to be invited to a tour of a local Car Museum.  I was also allowed to take a lot of photos of this amazing collection of classic cars.  Happy me!!!    

I decided to make a Volvo my first attempt to paint one from my reference photos.  Being Swedish and all.   The fun thing about Cars is to get to add those great high-lights at the end to make everything sparkle:-)  That's a lot easier to paint when a car is parked outside with the sun hitting it....;)
Inside in a Museum, there are a lot more light sources....This tends to create an enormous amount of reflections and high-lights, so I'm still trying to figure out how to tackle that challenge.

Happy Painting!

Monday, January 4, 2016

4 of 30 - Dogs and Cars - Proud Pit

Proud Pit
Oil on Linen on Panel

Here's my second version of the Pit bull.   I worked on keeping my light and shadow areas separate and I like how that worked out with the yellow line:-)

Sunday, January 3, 2016

3 of 30 - Cars and Dogs - A Close Bond

A Close Bond
Oil on Linen on Panel
A few months ago I was up in Carpinteria to take some photos for a commission and met this dog and his owner at the mechanic's shop across the street from my subject.  In talking to this hardworking gentleman he found out I was an artist and wanted to see if I could paint his dog.  I took a few shots focusing on getting some interesting back-lighting and and shadows and I ended up painting two pictures of him. 
My focus in this one was to establishing some clear values, and to describe the strong afternoon-light.   I didn't quite stick to having dark be dominant, then less medium and a sliver of light as I decided to add some cooler color in the ground area to add some variety to all that orange and that made there be more than a sliver of the lightest value...It's interesting to see how little changes make a big difference.   It's ultimately all a matter of personal artistic preference and I might still want to change it back to what I had (see below) before I bring it back to Carp to try to find this sweet pitt's owner:-) That is if I want the highlights on the dog's head to be the central focus...

Saturday, January 2, 2016

30 in 30 - Cars and Dogs - Day 2

"Close to the Beach"

I had a marvelous day taking pictures by the Newport Pier this fall and I loved the way the afternoon light came down all these side streets right by the beach.  And lucky me, I found a VW bug on one of those streets as well.   I will be painting more from those images to come.

If you are interested in my 2016 Calendar I have just a few more left!!
Just follow this link to learn more and order yours.

Friday, January 1, 2016

30 in 30 - Cars and Dogs - Day 1

Kay's New Adventure

Just finished this as a commission, which was just approved, and it will be my first addition to the 30 in 30 challenge starting in January - today!!! - 2016  You can join as well!  Just go to to sign up!

I'm looking forward to painting some more cars this month, in preparation for my trip to Cuba with 100 other artists and photographers organized by Eric Rhoads and Philip Levine.  Very excited about the cars, the architecture, the people and the music we will encounter!!

Happy New Years to you!!!  May your year be filled with wonder and adventure!!

If you are interested in my 2016 Calendar I have a few more left!!
Just follow this link to learn more.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

30 in 30 - Reaching for Light

"Reaching for Light"
Oil on Gessoboard

Got a question from Kaethe Baeler  (Check out her beautiful work!!) regarding what my green formula is?   So I thought I'd just share it in my post!

 I've had a lot of different greens on my palette over the years, trying to figure out the secret formula to great greens:-)  Everything from Sap Green to Viridian and using yellows and blues to mix:-)  I still use Gamblin Cadmium Green Light for some of those Poppy Light Greens, but that's the only straight green color I use now.

What was really helpful for me in thinking about greens was something Wyllis Heaton shared about the fact that greens are never as cool as we think.
Here is what Wyllis said on FB in his answer to the question about his greens:

"Green is the hardest thing for me to paint! I avoid scenes with a lot green if I can... But the main thing about green in a sunlight scene is it can almost never be warm enough... Basically the greens you can buy as paints are Way too green to describe foliage... The best way to see this on the freeway... Those freeway signs are green for real, like green paint green, compare that green to the natural greens around it... You'll see how much warmer the nature is.. I carry Turquoise and lemon yellow on my palette, so I can make super green for those occasions, but it's usually an unholy combo"

After I read that I've tried to be really conscious of pushing my greens warmer than I think they are.  And looking around in nature, I agree with what Wyllis says.

Recently I've also changed what I do when it comes to mixing my greens after seeing the greens of fellow amazing CA artist Karen Werner.
I loved the greens she was mixing and she told me that she took a workshop with Kim English (who is definitely on my list of artists to study with).  And what she had learned from him was to use Paynes Gray and Lemon Yellow to mix those really nice warm greens.  

So that is what I've been doing lately, I have added black on top of the Paynes Gray and I use that with different yellows and oranges, with a little addition of Cad Green light when I want a bright, but slightly cooler green.  I've also added Alizarin Yellow - Williamsburg Oils (courtesy Colin Page) to my arsenal of yellows.   It's a really nice and transparent and works great for a warm toning of the canvas and for mixing greens with.

So Kaethe, that's my loooong answer to your question on my greens.  And it goes to show how much we learn from fellow artists and friends!  I'm so grateful for those friendships!

Happy Painting!!


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

30 in 30 - Light Around the Edge

Light Around the Edge
Oil on Gessoboard

More Hydrangeas!  Sort of nice to work on a series for the 30 in 30 Challenge.  Learn more about the challenge here - maybe you'd like to join?  We'll see if this series will keep me going til the end...I've been known to mix things up:-)

Monday, September 7, 2015

30 in 30 - Light Continued

"Light Continued"
Oil on Gessoboard

Here's another ART SELFIE with my friend Bob Raser.   Read more about him in this earlier post.

I don't feel like I have a lot to say about my own art right now, so I just want to share the joy of having known our Pleinair Bob!

Miss you!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

30 in 30 - Sun-Kissed

Oil on Gessoboard

Here's another Hydrangea as I focus on painting white and light for the 30 in 30 this time around.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

30 in 30 - Focus on Light

Looking for the Light
Oil on Gessoboard

Sometimes it's hard to paint...and even harder to put things into words.

My good friend, a wonderful artist named Bob Raser -  left us this past Saturday,  after seemingly having cancer successfully removed and on the way to recovery and a normal life, before a sudden stroke changed was a devastating turn-of-events.  My heart goes out to all his family and friends!

I wanted to take the opportunity to share the joy of knowing him with you, in order that whomever might read my blog, will be up-lifted by the enthusiasm with which he lived life!

I will miss his voice, his smile and his wonderful energy!  As Maya Angelou so profoundly said:
"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." 

He always made me feel better!

You can see more of his paintings following the link to his website. They are filled with optimism and sunlight, much like his personality".

He also made these wonderful video "ART SELFIES".   Here's a link to one of them.

Keep Creating!  And a big Happy Birthday to my mom!!!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Afternoon Tea

Afternoon Tea
Oil on Linen Panel
Received an Honorable Mention at
Plein Air Ventura Invitational 2015

This painting was actually really enjoyable!  First off, I felt lucky to stumble onto a scene that had both atmosphere and a back lit classical car, and the opportunity to paint the view with a high horizon line!!!  Some of my favorite things!  I was a happy camper!!!   I also simplified more than usual - The fast changing light helped me with that:))
The car is owned by a really nice couple who is selling their house and they were both so sweet to offer me a cup of tea!  Did I mention he was British?...
The honorable mention was nice and you could say it sort of makes up for the fact that this piece didn't even get juried in to  the Ventura County Fair's Art Show....

This all confirms for me that it's more important to focus on how I feel about a piece and enjoy the ones where I attempt something new, than pay a lot of attention to the subjective likes and dislikes of jurors - either good or bad!

Which pieces do you feel good about when it comes to your own work?

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Summerland Roofs

Summerland Roofs
Oil on linen on board

I painted this one up in Summerland a few months back with my friend Shannon Celia (you can check out her great Seascapes on her website) There's a lot of pretty homes and buildings in that area, but this day I zeroed in on something that looked a little more like a shack.  I always look for subjects with a little character and wanted to explore cropping in on these buildings with the way they were intersecting and I liked the dramatic shadows the sun created.

Here's a painting on the area where we were standing to paint.
 Shade for Lunch
Oil on Linen on Board

It was right by the freeway off ramp, but with some shade it still made for an enjoyable paint out. 
What's the most difficult thing you deal with if you paint outdoors?

Monday, June 29, 2015

Hot Coco

Hot Coco
Oil on Linen on board

Thrilled to paint my Artist friend Leigh Spark's dog Coco!  Doesn't she look like so much fun to paint - sweet thing?

Here's my second version:

Makes me want to paint more dogs:-)

Monday, May 18, 2015

Behind Flights

Behind Flights
Oil on Gessoboard

Doesn't happen often, but this one almost painted itself.  I've been really in to capturing strong contrasts of sunlight in my subjects lately -  where the light is almost white, giving the shadow areas more color.  The reference photo for this one was taken by the Santa Paula Airport where I stumbled upon some old cars long past their driving age as I walked around and it had the perfect strong light to achieve what I wanted....I even found an artist painting in one of the warehouses there.  You never know what you will find out scouting locations.   Had an easier time with the architecture of the cars too.  What do you know?... practice might be making it a little easier:-)

Happy Painting!!

And check out this great post by my artist friend Dan LaVigne on leaving our baggage behind and trusting, in our artistic process.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Farm Cart

Oil on linen on panel
can be purchased through this gallery

For this painting I left the background really simple to be able to push the atmospheric effect and to concentrate on what was in light versus shadow.

John's Blog
Saturday, September 3, 2011

Is OPA Judging Rigged?

 An Inside Look at the Oil Painters of America Selection Process

where John describes what the Judges for OPA (OilPaintersofAmerica) look for in judging artwork.
I found it really interesting in looking at my own work and as a check-list of sorts:

OPA – Scoring system according to John Pototchnik

"5 judges started with 924 entries that were graded using the scoring system. grading the top 190 the same way to arrive at those with the highest accumulative score that were selected for the show.

Paintings were graded on a scale from one to seven.
Paintings were evaluated based on design and execution.

The best works had:

· One dominant value,

· A dominant color harmony,

· A clear center of interest,

· Balance,

· Accurate drawing,

· Convincing value relationships,

· Consistent and believable color temperature relationships,

· Appropriate variety of hard and soft edges, and

· Varied and interesting paint application.

Get all those elements right and you ended up with a the top 1-3 percent of entries."

Monday, May 11, 2015

A Walk to the Beach

A Walk to the Beach
Oil on Linen on Board

Excited to be displaying some of my paintings at the "En Plein Air Gallery" in Carpinteria this next month!  It's a small treasure of a gallery owned by artist Leigh Sparks and located in this quaint small sea-side town south of Santa Barbara.
I will post more of the paintings I've had a chance to do locally in the coming days!
The address is 963 Linden Ave, Carpinteria, California 93013, if you'd like to come and see them in person! or see me painting around town:-)