Red Hot Chile Peppers

Posted by on May 23, 2017 in commissions, Oil Paintings | No Comments

These habaƱero red hot chile peppers are fun to paint. Check out the progress.

I chose this view because, without slipping into boring Artspeak, it fills the space well, and I like it.

The first pass provides an underpainting and also gives me a chance to decide if the arrangement is pleasing.

Instead of printing a photo to use, I just kept the photo up on the laptop. I have the peppers to check the coloring, but I’m afraid to touch them.

There is something fun about mixing all the reds and oranges. It might simply be the contrast against all the greens, grays and browns of my usual landscape paintings.

One more pass over the canvas to perfect some tiny areas and to put in the stems ought to do it for these red hot chile peppers. Samson will be on standby to keep me company. He seems to be enjoying The Great Course called “Understanding the Fundamentals of Music”, which I’m listening to while painting these days.

Pencil Drawing Commission (Dr. Pencil to the Rescue)

Posted by on Apr 17, 2017 in commissions, drawing | 4 Comments

This began with an email, then became endless emailed photos and discussions and phone calls. Oh, and can you have this by the 22nd? Wait, we need cards made, so can you do it in time to give the print shop enough time?

No problem. Art Emergencies are one of my specialties.

The subject matter is a city park that is not yet completed. That makes things a little tricky. The chain link fence surrounding it further complicates things.

No problem. They call me “Dr. Pencil”. (Who is this “They”? Never you mind. . .)

Here are the beginning photos. ARE YOU KIDDING ME??

Better see what this looks like in black and white – sometimes that clarifies things.Now I am ready to offer the customer some choices.

She chose B, my favorite. I love it when that happens. Makes me feel trusted. I got it laid out and began shading.

And then I had a long day at the drawing board. Not too long, just uninterrupted focused hours to listen to podcasts and figure this thing out.

The next step is the photoshop clean-up and prep work while I wait for the customer to make decisions about the cards.

Goodness, I hope the customer is pleased, because there isn’t enough time to redo anything!



It Is Finished.

Posted by on Apr 12, 2017 in commissions, drawing | 2 Comments

(Seems like an appropriate title with Easter coming, no disrespect intended.)

This was a long pencil drawing commission – lots of emails, photos, sketches, decisions, waiting, and oh my, lots and lots of leaves to draw.

Here is a look, start to finish (minus all the photos, emails, changes, decisions, et cetera)

You can see that the customers chose neither A nor B.  C was a result of a photo I took at the orchard, because they wanted something that distinguished theirs from every other walnut grove.


Now it is at the framer, and then, finally, it will be presented to the intended recipient, who will be happily surprised. (I’m fairly certain he does not read my blog.)

Pencil Drawing Commission

Posted by on Apr 4, 2017 in commissions, drawing | 4 Comments

Do you remember reading that I was doing a pencil drawing of a walnut grove, a commission, and was waiting for more information? I received what I needed, finished it, and now I am waiting to hear if the commissioning parties are happy.

So, I’ll show you another pencil drawing commission that I finished. The customer is very happy.

This was difficult. The size is 8×10, and that is really too small for all this detail. I did most of it underneath a large magnifying light, and resolved to stop offering the 8×10 size. It was a relief that the customer didn’t want the family sitting in the front yard – I would have just had to say a definite and resolute NO! The horses looked a little weird in the photo – as if they had horns or something. When I asked the customer why they looked so weird, she said, “Who knows? It is Oklahoma! Just make them look normal.”

Too funny – are horses weird in Oklahoma? Maybe in the late 1800s or early 1900s they wore ear points. 

I also wondered about the alternating colors of paint on the porch pillars. Red and white is my guess, but perhaps dark green and white.

Interesting pencil commission job – have I mentioned lately that I love to draw in pencil?

And here’s a little aside about living in Three Rivers: the customer/friend has been telling me for awhile that she’d like me to draw her old family homestead farmhouse. I saw her at the Post Office and reminded her. She was ready to begin, so she dropped it off in a special mailbox I have near the bottom of my driveway. We did the entire job without actually seeing one another in person – all email and drop-offs, no more chance encounters at the Post Office or on a walk. We live about 1-1/4 miles apart and often walk past one another’s homes.

In addition to loving to draw in pencil, I love living in Three Rivers.

Weird Connection

Posted by on Feb 28, 2017 in commissions, drawing, Personal, Thoughts | 2 Comments

In 1994 I was commissioned by a woman to do 2 pencil collage drawings as gifts for her sons. Their last name was Dalton, and the young men had started a company to sell a special recipe of BBQ sauce, capitalizing on their ancestors, the notorious Dalton Gang. The gang robbed a bank in Coffeyville, Kansas and died in the raid, along with 4 innocent citizens. This incident in history is a huge part of the identity of Coffeyville, 125 years later. (It happened in 1892 – did I do the math right?)

In the past handful of years, I have become friends with a woman who lives in Coffeyville. (Yea, internet!) She is a writer and blogger named Cheryl Barker and this is the link to her site. When I learned where she lives, I told her about the drawings and she was very surprised that I had heard of Coffeyville at all. (She had never heard of Three Rivers, duh.) 

I told her if I ever found pictures of those drawings, I’d send them to her.

Last week I was procrastinating (quite productively, thank you for your concern), and decided to have another look. 

Wow, in the last century I kept appallingly horrible visual records of my work. Here are the two pencil drawings, after scanning the horrid photos and working a bit of photoshop magic on them.

P.S. I googled Dalton Wild Times Enterprises and found nothing.

On the Easels and On the Needles

Posted by on Feb 21, 2017 in commissions, Oil Paintings, Personal | 3 Comments

This jalapeno is a commissioned oil painting. I’m happy with the colors and will be tightening up the detail next.

The Honeymoon Cabin is a very popular subject. This is from an early evening photo with heightened colors. The size is 8×8″ and will be $100.

Sawtooth is another very popular Mineral King subject. This is 10×10″ and will be $150.

And in case you were wondering if all I do is work, please be reassured that I always find time to knit. A friend is waiting for a new pair of lungs, and there will be a fund raising dinner with silent auction and pick-a-prize items. I made these 2 infinity scarves for the event, and the blue/red/brown one already sold! No worries, I have just finished a brown/teal and have a second one on the needles, which I might be tempted to keep. Kind of tempted to keep the aqua one, but my friend needs to pay for her lung transplant infinitely more than I need another scarf.

Oh wait – you need to see what an infinity scarf looks like, not just all the colors.

Forget it – this one is mine! (Okay, make a large enough contribution to my friend’s lung account and I will send it to you, but it better be a HUGE check – email if you’d like further instructions.)


Finished Oil Paintings

Posted by on Feb 15, 2017 in commissions, Oil Paintings | No Comments

Did you think I had forgotten my promise to show you recently finished oil paintings?


First, the commissioned piece. It isn’t totally finished, but I never show you the sides of the canvas anyway.

It is Oak Grove Bridge XX, which means #20, but is probably the 25th time I’ve painted it because sometimes my record keeping is not so good.

Now, the P Fruits:

6×18″, P Fruits, oil on canvas, wrapped edges, ready to hang, $150 plus the obnoxious 8% California sales tax.

And a Sequoia Gigantea, with the same information as above, except it is a Giant Sequoia tree.

Trading Water for Walnuts

Posted by on Feb 9, 2017 in commissions, drawing, the business of art | No Comments

This week I’ve set aside my current obsession of drawing water and begun a commissioned piece of a walnut grove.

This has involved several sketches, beginning with the page of the walnut grove as it appears in the coloring book, Heart of Ag for the Tulare County Farm Bureau (NOW AVAILABLE – WILL POST TO FOR SALE PAGE WHEN IT IS REPAIRED!)

This was a starting place. More ideas were requested and delivered. This is part of the business of art, the sorting out of details for commissioned work.

The response was, “This looks like a generic walnut grove, not like ours.” Hmmm, is there anything unique about your walnut grove? A barn? A creek? A canal, a ditch, a view? 


I made a trip to the grove and found a teensy distinction between the customer’s grove and any other Joe Farmer’s grove. I can’t tell you what it is, because this is going to be a surprise for someone.

I can show you the beginning stages of the drawing.


Whole Lotta Oak Grove Bridges

Posted by on Feb 7, 2017 in commissions, Oil Paintings | No Comments

Whole lotta bridges going on around here. All the Oak Grove Bridge, of course. 2 paintings, a calendar, 2 photos.

Samson was busy with other things (thank you, GE for babysitting) so I tackled the bridge again. This time I started over, working from back to front and top to bottom. This layering and layering and layering is called “glazing” in Artspeak.

The lower right corner is a mess. Real life is very messy. Most scenery is messed up with sticks, dried stuff, dead branches. . . and we don’t notice because we look past it to the good parts.

You can see the lower right edge of the photo is a mess, a tangled mess.

It isn’t finished here because I just flat don’t know what to do.

So, for now I’ll stop and just think about all the versions and how I’ve handled this corner in previous renditions.

Because I’m feeling more confident about the 11×14 commissioned oil painting of the Oak Grove Bridge, I decided to pull out the 24×30″ version from last year. I tackled it the same way – starting over in the farthest places, working forward.

Just like with murals, the larger, the easier. 


Particularly Challenging Challenge

Posted by on Feb 6, 2017 in commissions, Oil Paintings | 4 Comments

Oil painting is a real challenge at times. Getting the colors right in addition to the darks, lights, textures, shapes and proportions, along with seeing what is really there instead of what I think might be there plus adding and subtracting whatever is necessary to enhance the scene . . . it is just hard.

Then along comes a new challenge. This oil painting commission of the Oak Grove Bridge may take longer than any other previous oil painting. Let the photos suffice, although none were taken while claws and teeth were attached to my painting (or photographing) hand. In all the wrestling, a button got pushed on the camera that made the colors more vivid than normal. I’m surprised nothing got broken or accidentally painted or dropped.

While this Bengal bitey-boy-beast, AKA Samson, took a rest, I was able to work on the rocks beneath the bridge a bit, and also located the posts on the bridge itself. The customers didn’t give me a deadline, and they say, “No hurry” each time I see them. 

Good thing.