Day 29, daily painting challenge


Pitcher with Glass, pastel, 6×6, 14 January, 2019

This is what happens after spending a day at MoMA! Looking at the world a little differently.

Feels good to be back at the easel! Some weeks are just going to be like that I guess!

to Grid or not to Grid – Day 28 & 29, daily painting challenge

I’d like to start this post with a sincere apology to my husband. He is the most beautiful being in my eyes and someday I will be able to get that on paper – but that wasn’t yesterday or today!

Some paintings are SOOOOOOOO bad you have to contemplate banking as an alternative career choice (sorry bankers, it would be just as bad for you if I was handling your financial transactions, trust me!) That was yesterday’s daily painting. So I got up this morning and decided to try again. Not much better, but I think I am seeing the lesson in all of this.

To Grid or not to Grid – a grid helps place features where they should be on a face, keeps arms from getting too long, etc. Using one helps the eye see accurately, not what the brain thinks it sees. A grid takes some time to layout and get on the reference image and then the drawing phase takes longer. This is not how I normally work. I spend time planning a piece in my head, sometimes I do a small version to work out composition and color, but I do not spend much time drawing before I paint. This works great for landscapes, I get to dive right into painting – get pigment all over quickly. That is what I love! However, landscapes may be the only subject matter that I have the technical skill to be able to do that with at this time.


After 26 days of still life’s I thought it might be time to mix it up a bit and although still life’s are still a top priority, it was time for some faces and figures as they are a priority for me too. I want to be able to go to the bar on Friday night and draw the people sitting on the stools, the people dancing and laughing. Currently, I don’t have that skill set, my faces are clownish caricatures and my figures are stiff an other-worldly.  I try to draw faces and figures while watching TV in the evening, but it is stressful because I don’t have the skills – vicious circle! Yesterday and today have proven that I desperately need to spend some time in the circle chasing my tail!

Like I said my goal is to drink and draw – with no fear! The question is how to get there. Practice, certainly, and drawing with a grid is a good option.

I will try this painting again tomorrow with a grid.

To be continued…

second attempt, 5×7, pastel on pastelmat, 8 January, 2019


Epic Fail, 5×7, pastel on pastelmat, 7 January, 2019

Day 27, daily painting challenge

I’ve been pretty busy the last few weeks. I am grateful that Jim likes to cook, otherwise I may have starved!

Today I finished an abstract landscape, that we see a lot at camp. We are so far down in the ravine that, in places, when you look up you can’t see the sky. You see this glorious green glow from the leaves and deep, dark branches. I did a watercolor underpainting for this one. I am not convinced it was necessary, although it made the pastel painting portion very quick.

the canopy, 12×18, pastel, 5 January, 2019


I have been meaning to finish the last painting in a series for my daughter, and was able to get that done. I am really pleased with how it turned out.

Roses for Rosie, 5×7, paste, 4 January, 2019


While my nose was running yesterday and my ears were clogged about all I could handle was a less than stellar landscape. I feel better today and on second look decided I really like the color combination and will use that again.

first snow, 5×7, pastel, 4 January 2019


I also got squirreled by zentangles, they are amazing aren’t they! I spent many evenings over the holidays working on these two. I love them and want to do more!

zentangle1, December 2018

zentangle 2, January 2019

Day 26, daily painting challenge

Was afraid I would get to paint today. Lesson to myself, even when I think I can’t I probably can!

Not my favorite, not a fruit kinda night, I guess!

Cocktail Hour, 6×6, pastel, day 26 daily painting challenge, 4 January, 2019

Day 24, daily painting challenge

Mid-Winter finished. It was nice to paint a landscape, but I have decided that it can’t be in place of the 6×6 daily painting. Lesson learned

Mid-Winter, 9×12, pastel, day 24, 2 January, 2018

Style Speaks

Swallow, 5×7, January 2017

I started my own personal challenge on 9 December, 2018. This daily painting challenge is a small 6×6 painting each morning; before work, 30 minutes, no going back, all still life. I want to improve my rendering abilities, as well, as define my style.

‘Style’ is a word that I hear a lot in my art circles. ‘I love that artists style’; ‘they have such a unique style’; ‘as artists we need to find our style.’ Style is easy to see in many artists work. I am sure that is one of the reasons they are successful as artists. Not sure about you, but in a lot of the art I look at everyday – including my own – I don’t see a strong style. The internet is full of beautiful pastel paintings from artists all over the world, in some I see their style, others I don’t.

I suppose that is the way it is with artists. Some of us never find our style. Some of us do and then seem to get stuck in rut. Some artist’s style is instantly obvious and seems to transcend subject matter and medium.

For myself, I draw my subject and then kind of color it in. I don’t have a light touch with the pastels, although I did try for a while. I gave up, it frustrated me. I am drawn to painting landscapes, and I am not against blending. So, is that my style? Do people look at my work and say ‘Oh, she’s done another thick, smudged painting of the woods’? Do they scroll Instagram and as they pass my latest painting know it is mine?

The answer is yes, that is style and hopefully someday it will be strong enough to be recognized as mine. Nita Leland wrote ‘Cultivate Your Personal Style’ in The NEW Creative Artist, “Every choice you make is a revelation of your yourself and your personal style.” She goes on to explain that subject matter selection, materials and the way you handle them are your style. So why does style matter?

Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak.” — Rachel Zoe.  Think about that for a minute, “Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak.” That is huge!

As artists, we need to be intentional with our work. With every painting we are telling the world who we are. We are speaking out loud to any and all! This led me to try and uncover how to take advantage of whatever ‘style’ I have and use it to say what I want the world to know about me.

I uncovered a gem, Christopher Kerry, a certified Copic instructor. Not a pastelist, but his blog is good! “Creativity is taking the same parts and pieces that everyone else has access to and combining them in a way that no one else has ever thought of.” ­—  Christopher Kerry  In his blog he talks about how to find your style and execute it “in a week, tops!” He has a step-by-step actionable plan to help any artist find their style. It is a very simplified version of the artist’s journey. An exercise that I think would help many of us see ‘style’ in art a bit clearer. See ‘style’ in our art a bit clearer, and verbally communicate ‘style’ in art. I will certainly be going through his steps in January to see what I can learn about myself and my ‘style!’

Some artists have found their style but don’t take full advantage of it. They end up in a creative rut, each painting looking like the last. During my research, I found that maintaining habits is important. If you paint in the morning, paint in the morning. Then do something completely different; go for a walk, meditate, allow your brain time to clear and see something new. My research also found that challenging yourself to try something new (not on a deadline) can be inspiring. Nita Leland agreed in her article “…the actual breakthrough in the privacy of the studio, when one dares to apply paint in a new manner, is a solitary thrill…the individual artist must act courageously in an effort to grow.” Our style will benefit from challenging it with new subjects and applications. If you’re a portrait artist, take your easel outside and paint a landscape. If you are a representational artist, challenge yourself to abstract a subject.

It is important for as artists that we find our style and use it to tell the world who we are and what is important to us. I also now know that it is important that I talk about style. How great would it be for us if I could articulate exactly what I like about your style, your mark making, color and subject choices, instead of just saying that I like your style. I also have learned that style isn’t an intangible that I may or may not find. I have it, but I need to identify it and assist its growth.