Monday, July 30, 2012

"Monday FUNday" - Everything AND the Kitchen Sink

Call on your inner 'super-hero'
Like Dorothy in her sparkly red shoes in Oz, you already have the power within you to make big things happen....and find your own joy. 

Seeing this jet-pack reminded me of the 'joy of fun' - and then sharing that fun with others. Joy is one thing that is never lessened by sharing. 

Storm Chasers vs. Storm Dodgers - planning your plein air trip
How to dodge thunderstorms you might ask? Is there something brewing on the other side of the state? Maybe not a big deal if you live in Texas, but when your state is as teeny as Connecticut, you might have only an hour or two and you are in the path of 'the big one'...or not. Many a rainfall that has soaked the western end of our state & toppled trees, blows out to sea before it even reaches our southeastern corner.  But say, you want to get in an hour or two of plein air painting, or a weekend bicycle ride, what are the odds that you're going to get wet...or worse (struck by lightning)?  My hubby, (aka Motoring 
Secretary at Roxanne Steed Fine Art) has this little radar app always at the ready!  I've requested that he share this with us! After loading up the bicycles on Saturday to go back to the "Airline Trail" in Colchester, CT; it started raining at our house in Mystic. But Colchester is toward the middle of the state, how was it there? So out comes the radar app, and he figures it's likely we'll be able to get in a bike ride. It rains almost the whole way there, but sure enough, we are fine on our ride - once we got there it was dry! About an hour and a half out though, he checks the radar on his phone even though the skies currently look fine. At this point he recommends that we turn around, another line of showers was headed our way.  Sure enough, we just got back to the car with our bikes, and it starts to sprinkle!
Here's the app so that you can put it to good use on your iphone, too.  Always err on the safe side though. Common sense wins out every time. If there's thunder and lightening, stay put indoors until it clears. 
Give yourself permission to PLAY!
For my creative friends - when was the last time you 'played' with crayons? Remember the joy you felt as a little kid, getting those beautiful sticks of color out of their box?
Here's another fun one from my Summer Sketchbook series- 
"Tomato Summer"  (above) 
The crayons act as a resist, sort of like batik.  Take a white or yellow crayon, make circles, waves, whatever squiggle you happen to currently favor, and go for it!  Then, with a light watercolor wash, go over the crayon doodles you've jut made.  Voila, layer one.  Heck, if you're finding this a bit of fun, make several pages, try out several colors and patterns.  Once it has dried, decide what you want to put on top of this.  I've been staring at these great tomatoes that hubby has brought in from the garden. We've got them on a blue patterned plate, so I figured this would be interesting on this patterned first layer.  I draw in pencil at first on this one, then come in on top of that with permanent marker. I think the ones I had handy were Marvy-Extra Fine Permanent Mark It and also an Ultra Fine Sharpie. On the bottom of the plate I used a Tombow ink fine tip marker- they are water-soluble & acid free art markers. Touch the bottom line with a damp water color brush to spread the ink like a very soft shadow. I originally had the title written with the Marvy pen, but I didn't think it was dark or bold enough, so I went over it with the Tombow pen, and a damp water color brush - that gave it a bit more "oomph"!   
So go ahead, call on your inner-super-hero,
give yourself permission to have some fun.
Remember how much fun a simple box of crayons 
were, and try something new and different 
just for you! 

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Friday, July 27, 2012

Heading Out - Day Sail - SOLD!

8"x6" oil on linen Belgian mounted on panel
For more information about this painting, click here, or contact me here.

Sailing out of the Mystic River

Over to Stonington harbor

Friends enjoying a day on the water

Sunshine and a light breeze.

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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Swoop - Swish - Sail

6"x8" oil on Belgian  linen mounted on panel
For more information about this painting, click here, or contact me here.

Swoop, swish, swing, sail 

flying over water in a 

summer's dance.

Breeze blow, send me away

then return me across the waves.

Brilliant sun, beaming, 

warming my bones...

from my toes

to the smile on my face. 

Ah, summer is wonderful. I had the good fortune to take a sailboat ride with friends this past weekend. It has provided lots of material for some delightful summer paintings.  I'm not a sailor, but I do love watching the way these boats move. A masterful sailor seems to become one with the boat, and it is as graceful as a dance. 

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Orchid Romance

8"x10"x.75" oil on gallery-wrapped stretched canvas
For more information about this painting, click here or contact me here.

I can hardly believe it- after 18 months I was able to get this little 'orchid from the grocery store' to bloom again. I just wasn't sure it was going to happen. I painted it in January of 2011 when I first got it:
8"x6" oil on Belgian linen mounted on panel
For more information about this painting, click here.

So now of course, I'm hooked on orchids since I got this one to re-bloom! 

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Monday, July 23, 2012

"Monday FUNday" - Everything AND the Kitchen Sink

Have you ever packed so much into a weekend, 

that it's like Christmas, Fourth of July, 

and your birthday - all rolled into one?

Whew, it's exhausting....but ridiculously fun! 

We've become a 2 bicycle family now, thanks to LLBean's bike sale the other week, and some birthday money saved from September! Hubby and I have been out scouting out more places to ride....and plein air paint! Saturday we hauled our bikes up to the "Airline Trail" in Colchester, CT and  rode about 25 miles! No I'm not kidding, that's twenty-five. It's an old railroad bed with an incredibly level grade, which makes for a very pleasant ride. Mostly in shade, which helped make it easier, too!  Lots of beautiful views along the way - I felt like I was on vacation! 
So what's the best cure for sore, achy muscles? A stop at Salem Valley Ice-cream on the way home! Well, it sure didn't hurt, and was worth testing that theory. 
Now the "Motoring Secretary" at Roxanne Steed Fine Art was not content with a four hour bike ride and ice-cream, so we did make a stop close to home at Whittle's Farm Market in Mystic for some fantastic tomatoes, corn, and PEACHES! 
  Whew, all this and we haven't even made it to Sunday yet!  I was in for a nice surprise when I found out we were going sailing with some friends out of Mystic! What a wonderful treat! And I think I have some good reference shots for future paintings! The weather was perfect, I couldn't imagine a more ideal afternoon! 

Thanks to Darby and Dave for a really fun time!

(Darby, left; me, on the right)

And now for a last bit of 'multi-media' sketchbook fun! I've taken several pages in my sketchbook and made some simple underpaintings...and some not so simple. This one happened to have a simple green wash underneath, graded with a deeper value on one end, and layed in rather 'sketchy' - leaving some white - not a continuous wash.  It was nice and dry and ready for my "great idea" that came later.  I was inspired by a brilliant stand of Queen Anne's Lace on our bike-ride Saturday. The sun was beaming directly on it, and the woods all in shadow behind it made for a stunning back-drop.  I was particularly attracted to the strong abstract shapes of darks and lights, the flower heads of varying heights bobbing in the breeze. The loose watercolor sketch allows me to 'doodle - out' this idea and consider whether I'd like to perhaps try a similar design in oil.  Click on the image for a closer view.
So a successful weekend - involving back to back fun; good fresh food, and lots of new painting inspiration!

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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Blue Hydrangea and Pears

24"x18" oil on stretched linen

For more information about this painting, click here, or contact me here.

Cool blues of summer....

fresh juicy pears.  

This painting was started outside on my back patio, 

hydrangeas cut from the garden;

finishing touches done in my studio.

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Monday, July 16, 2012

"Monday FUNday"- Everything AND the Kitchen Sink

By my way of thinking, summers are meant to be enjoyed. 

Even between our routines and daily work and necessities, 

sneaking in a bit of fun should be something to aim for, 

plan it, do it, make it happen! 

Even if it is not a BIG deal, those little bits of fun here and there, 

add up to some mighty fine memories. 

So, leave the kitchen sink behind....

grab a sketch book if you're so inclined. This is in my back yard, a small stone lantern we added to our garden this year.  Makes a nice light on the patio as the evening turns to dusk.  The sketch is another 'multi-media' bit of fun. The under layer is a poem, written with a brown Tombow felt tip pen. The ink is water-soluble, so once you've written down your thoughts/poem, etc, you can take a watercolor brush to the whole page and make a soft wash of it. This poem is, "Between the apple blossom and the water".  On top are little sketch doodles (in permanent ink & watercolor) of the lantern, some hosta blossoms, and some yellow green Japanese ornamental grass.  Click on the image to enlarge it.

Now, depending on where you live, your summer might be much hotter than mine. It's been pretty decent here, I must admit. Okay, downright delightful.  That is the New England payback for tolerating a long winter.  We get the good stuff right now! All the local farms are having "u-pick-em days".  I spent a nice morning with my neighbor picking blueberries at Holmberg Orchards, in Gales Ferry last Thursday.  So what do you do with all these berries, you might ask? Well, besides putting them in your cereal or oatmeal or yogurt at breakfast, I made a big frozen smoothie with about a cup full of blueberries, a ripe banana, a large dollop of vanilla Greek yogurt, and ice cubes. No recipe here, just kept adding ice or yogurt until I liked the consistency. Easy enough. That's a lot of antioxidants in that glass, and the banana adds plenty of sweetness, so you don't need to add sugar. And the ice....well, that's perfect for a hot day.  And, from a fellow berry-picker, she puts them right into a big zip-loc freezer bag, and freezes them as soon as she gets home. Doesn't wash them until she's ready to use them.  She says she'll pick enough to last through May of next year! Wow, now that's an idea (and sounds like a good way to eat my way through winter!)

 On Saturday afternoon I went on a five-mile hike with my hubby. I hadn't been on this part of this trail before, just the beginning (and a different section) of it. It was part of the old Groton-to-Stonington Trolley line, now partially paved....perfect for biking. But it goes through a wooded area, and in most wooded areas in CT there are wild turkeys.  Well, one mama turkey waited until we were almost right up on her to cross the path in front of us. I could hear all this peeping as she stepped out into the path...followed by almost a dozen babies...too many to count. I'm sure there were at least nine of them. They just kept coming out of the brush to follow her to the other side. So we waited and watched. There's always a little brother straggler! 
(no this photo isn't mine, but Michele Kelly's photo in Frank Picchione's  wonderful blog of animal conservation. Thanks for permitting me to use this photo, Frank! ). The babies we saw were a bit smaller, and more of them. But they were all lined up following mama!
Now, did I do all this on a Monday? No, this was all fun from last weekend. I was fondly remembering this while I was finishing up a large oil painting today.  That's just part of the fun of Mondays, thinking about what you did last weekend...and having five whole days to plan for the next one! 

Hope your summer is full of FUN Mondays! (and all those days in-between!). 

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Friday, July 13, 2012

Hostas And Ferns Welcome To My Woodland Path

9"x12" oil on Belgian linen mounted on archival panel

For more information about this painting click here, or contact me here.

Follow me on my woodland path, 

The hostas are blooming and lead the way -

sparkling against the dappled sun and shadow of the woods. 

Ferns wave across the 'midlands' of this place,

soft and frothy,

waving in their sunlight and shade.

Birds flit among the hammock of trees,

calling me with their song.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Sketchbook- Multi-Media - Summer Beach Combing

Gifts of the sea;

Cast-offs from a mermaid,

Delicate in appearance, yet strong enough to weather the wind, waves and rocks.

Now they are gathered bits of treasure; 

sea glass and shells, 

claws and old egg-casings, kelp and driftwood. 

Lots of fun with some of these sketchbook - multi-media techniques. I printed out the tide charts that I use to look up the best times to gather sea glass. Torn edges, interesting words and phrases get applied to my page with some acrylic matte medium.  Then a bit of "watercolor ground" gets brushed on thinly so that I can still see through to the pages below, yet be able to paint on top of it.  The drawings are rather random - just like the objects I found. Yet they remind me of the day I gathered these bits of goodies from the beach.  Funny how a sketchbook page can really enhance memory of those wonderful days that you'd just love to repeat!  Click on the image to enlarge it!

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Garden Walkabout Sketchbook

Just for fun, like things you do on a summer vacation; 

Filling sketchbook pages, with memories and treasures.

This page is a bit of mixed media, gessoed stencil designs and 

pale watercolor washes underneath a lightly sketched 

garden scene from my back yard. (click on image to enlarge!)

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Monday, July 9, 2012

Blue Hydrangea Bird Bath

8"x8" oil on archival panel
For more information about this painting, follow this link, or contact me here.

My back yard is a haven for birds of all kinds. 

They seem to love it and we love having them here.

We trade a few small luxuries all the time, food for song....

water for brilliant flashes of color. 

So far, it's a great relationship!

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Friday, July 6, 2012

Sol Duo (Cafe Scene)

8"x10" oil on Belgian linen mounted on archival panel
For more information about this painting, follow this link, or email me here.

Sunshine, excitement, peach lemonade

An umbrella of welcomed shade over a table of two. 

I actually painted several different couples seated at this table. Luckily, when I started around one in the afternoon, I made a quick value sketch first. Then laid in the darks first thing- ALL the shadow places. Squinting down helps really reduce the values to a minimum. Even the sun and shadow on simple plastic cafe chairs becomes really fascinating. By getting the BIG shapes down quickly, the rest of the painting fall into place.  So with those basics down on canvas, you have the "basic truths" that you need to proceed. 

Some of the staff at Cafe Sol, kept me hydrated with some fantastic peach lemonade (delicious!). They also kept a lot of folks happy with snow-cones! Thank you all!
For a second painting in the late afternoon/early evening, my friend Joanne showed up with this fantastic hat & green sun-dress...super for painting a "Hensche-esque mud-head" type quick figure sketch in the sun. Her hubby and daughter came along too, so it was great fun to catch up with the three of them. Thank you to Constancia for this last photo of me painting her mom!


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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Cafe Sol - SOLD!

6"x8" oil on Belgian linen mounted on archival board

 For more information about this painting click here, or contact me here.

Summer sun, shade under a big umbrella, dining 'al fresco'

Mango lemonade, iced mocha, what'll you have?

This is where I'll be painting on Friday, July 6th, late afternoon, Cafe Sol on Main Street in Niantic, CT. Today I just wanted to try a little 'something/study' from notes and memory. Who knows what I'll find tomorrow - there will be a band, and it's looking like quite a crowd will be out and about for Opsail2012CT! So much happening at McCooks Beach with 24 ships arriving out in the Bay!! Am I excited?? You betcha!!

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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Crocosmia Summer Blazes

8"x6" oil on linen mounted on archival panel
For more information about this painting follow this link or contact me here.

Brilliant orange-red set afire by the sunlight
bouncing on long stems among long thin leafed foliage

the humming birds love this stuff.

They dance among the blossoms

drinking in the nectar of life

chattering their pleasure

and singing to me while I paint. 

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Sunday, July 1, 2012


In honor of the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 and the writing of "The Star Spangled Banner", OpSail2012CT brings 22 vessels into New London Harbor, and the city adds some local flavor with Sailfest and its fireworks over the Thames River.

Boats will begin assembling at 3pm Friday in Niantic Bay, where East Lyme officials have scheduled a street festival in downtown Niantic and a dinner at McCook Point Park for the crews.  

I'm happy to be included in the fun - I've been invited to be one of the featured Plein air artists along Main Street in Niantic this Friday afternoon, July 6th! 
Come by and see me, I'll be painting at Cafe Sol on Main St.

Check out for more info!

You may want to be at McCooks Beach on Friday afternoon to see the USS Carter Hall, a 610 ft. Navy dock ship (visualize landing hundreds of Marines via hovercraft) deliver it's captain on the beach in a big Hummer! The ships will be in Niantic Bay Friday evening until Saturday morning when they head over to New London for the Parade of Ships!

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