mouseover any illustration tagged "sketches" to see the original drawing


The Iron

As a deviation from my normal work, here is something different to show you. This is one of my still life paintings. I simply call it The Iron. The ellipses may be slightly off on the water jar, and the antique spray-bottle unclear, but my favorite part is the sheen on the sole of the iron, and the reflection in it of that blue checker pattern. This painting is oil on canvasboard, 16 x 20"


Girl with Pearl Earring

This is a reproduction of Vermeer's Girl with the Pearl Earring that I did with soft pastels on cotton rag paper. It is a very soft-textured paper. When you layer the pastel lightly the colors blend nicely and the final layers go on smooth and look rather like oil paint. This painting is 20" x 30".

Tree Mother

I thought I'd give you another work-in-progress to see. This painting, Tree Mother, originates from a subconscious drawing I did several years ago while in school. I scribbled some random lines on paper, then drew what I saw in the scribbles. Here's the result.

At first I kept thinking of a mother sitting on a park bench, holding her child out of reach of a curious dog. I started a small oil painting of it a few years ago, and enjoyed attempting to make the background look like leaves of trees with an abstract mottled pattern. The bench was floating, then had tree trunks growing straight up out of it. However, the rest of the painting was a not going well. I abandoned it for a while.

When I discovered my affinity for pastels, I decided to give this piece a try again. In this case, I stuck pretty close to the original drawing. My initial block-in of shapes had some proportional differences, which you can see I corrected in the next stage. The skin tones are first laid down as red and orange, which will show through later layers of paler, less intense colors that go on top. This is called underpainting, and it gives the skin a natural glow instead of muddy grey which you get by trying to mix the color directly (or at least, I do!)

I made the baby's head smaller here, and redrew the face. My husband remarked that I seemed to be doing several on the same theme in a row: dogs, mothers and children! (Beach Dog came right before this one). I like focusing on a theme for several paintings at a time, though. Exploring different ways of expressing the same idea... here, it is about protectiveness.

Mother's head was still too big at this point, so I trimmed that down a lot, and made her legs longer. I also cropped the hair by letting it float away from the skull a bit where it begins to transform. Alfonso (my husband) liked her better squat and short, but I wanted to keep it closer to the original. More layers of color now and the skin is starting to look like real flesh-tones, not so orange. (Except I haven't done the legs yet).

In the final stage here you can see that I repositioned the dog's paws, trimmed mother's waist some, and finished up all the final touches and the ground cover. If you look closely at the details, you can see that there are branches growing from the mother's hair, and the german shepard dog also is growing a tree, like a carousel animal.


Small Comforts

This is the original sketch I did for my painting, Small Comforts.



Camel In Bones

First sketch for Camel In Bones. This drawing was done in my sketchbook over randomly scrawled lines during a class and spanned two pages. His scrutiny is careful.


Ice Cream Girl

Two sketches that were preliminaries to my painting, Ice Cream Girl. The first was a usual subconscious drawing, where I closed my eyes and scribbled aimlessly with my left hand, then looked at the scribble and drew and image it suggested to me. The second was drawn to work out an idea for the background.


Mother and Child

This very minimal line drawing was done from a subconscious scribble. I remember making it when I was in art school, and redrew it several times attempting to get the expression on the eyes just right, bent over a light table in the corner of the hallway after hours. Later I developed it into a pastel painting, Mother and Child.


Old Lady Crane

This sketch became the very first subconscious painting I did, Old Lady Crane. I drew it in a sketchbook with a steel nib dipped in india ink.


Natan's Flowers

Simple line drawing inspired by scribbles on a paper that later became a painting, Natan's Flowers. I called it that because the face and bald pate in the final painting reminded me of a friend we called Natan.


Grandfather As A Young Man

This is a portrait I did of my grandfather when he was a young man. In the center of the portrait there is the shape of a square-cornered spiral. The symbol means "return." I never knew my grandfather because he disappeared during a return trip from Alaska.

I did this piece in school. The purpose of the exercise was to match values and colors. If you look closely, you will see that the spiral is all in grays. The values (dark and light) of those grays matches the colors around them, so if you squint or view it from afar, the spiral will disappear into the image. It is tricky to do, but rather fun. Although this was a school assignment, with a skill to learn, this piece has a lot of sentimental value to me.


Dog Portraits

My favorite subject to draw has always been animals. I have done several pet portraits, some for friends or family, others for comission. Here are two of my favorites.

This is a portrait of my sister's dog, Paige. She is a Weimaraner, a german hunting dog. Weimaraners point birds as well as retrieve them. Paige has gone chuckar hunting, but she never recieved any formal training and prefers to point cats. She is really just a sweet family dog. She is now fifteen years old.

This dog portrait was done on commission. He is a mixed-breed, and very cute! Both these portraits were done with graphite pencils on bristol paper, 8" x 10".


Chicken Lady

I like to show people how I work. Here are the stages of work in my latest painting, Chicken Lady. The initial sketch came from a scribble done by my daughter, who is two years old. (Unfortunately, the scribble has been lost). Each stage here is approximately 2-4 hours of work. It took me about a week to complete the painting.

In the initial stage I block in colors and shapes to work out the composition.

Because I am working from subconscious ideas, I do not meticulously plan out the painting before I begin. I work intuitively, letting ideas come to me as I paint. The buildings in the background of this picture are from sketches I did as a student.

Here you can see more evidence of my method of changing ideas as I go. There was a pause of several days before these last two stages, as I tried to decide what to do with the ground. Initially, it was going to be rocks that morphed into seeds the chicken was eating. But I liked better the idea of the mesh fence becoming the ground the hen is standing on, like a chicken does in a stack of cages. That is also the source of the eggs and grubs both being in the cavities of the ground.

View a larger image of Chicken Lady.
I found the original scribble. See it here.