Work in progress – the Studio

Our studio is slowly taking shape down the hill in the swamp. The 14′ x 20′ frame was completed last week.

new studio 1

The large opening on the second floor front will frame the sliders that open on to my studio space via an outside staircase. Below is the door to R’s space on the first floor.

new studio front

Nice view out the first floor windows to the swamp. I’ll have one large window on that side, but wasn’t up for climbing the ladder to the second floor.

post and beam studio interior

And, for old time’s sake, a photo of the old studio before we tore it down and started this one in almost the same spot. 10 x 12, one story on posts, it served the purpose for a long time – now on to something new and much better insulated!

before picture

New work in progress

It's all Holland's faultThis was going to be a post about arepas – delicious grilled arepas made with fresh corn and farmer cheese. But this is not that post. Instead, you’re getting an update on the drawing that has me burning midnight oil and still getting up at 5:30 a.m. for the day job. It’s a still life! With a view!

Mallow and the Causeway, 20″ x 16″, oil drawing on panel. I blame the Dutch.


On (and off) the easel

Two weeks ago I posted a  new work-in-progress and then the site went down for a few days and I never posted the finished piece. Here it is with additional detail and the final glaze in Ivory Black.

Acadia Snow finalIf I’d given more thought to the process of changing from pastels to oils after all this time I would have started with studies – small pieces with discrete subject matter as exercises – rather than full on painting subjects. This is the first drawing, in brush and ivory black, for a series of still life studies featuring grapes and the occasional red plum. I think they will be very educational.

grape study drawing



Work in progress

I had a week off in June and decided to make the switch from pastels to oil paints. It has been a steep learning curve, no matter that I painted for a decade before we had a baby and I decided to use a less toxic medium.

Snow CliffI’m working from sketches and photos from last winter of this site in Acadia National Park, 18″ x 24″, oil on board.

Work in progress

roses and cherries oil sketch

Queen of Denmark Roses with Cherries, drawing in oil on gessoed board, 18 x 24″

I have a new oil sketch on the easel. By tonight it will be dry enough to start the actual painting, so I thought it might be interesting to record this stage of the work. The roses are “Konigin von Danemark/Queen of Denmark”, a beautiful complex pink in form and color, with grey/green leaves. The mallow blooms are an entirely different pink which will be a good exercise for my new palette (that only contains one red).



I love my new oil palette. Reading and research gave me some ideas while I tried to keep an open mind and avoid the prejudices I’ve been taught. For instance, my current line-up does not include any cadmium colors although all of my teachers thought they were indispensable.

and thats how you make cherries

Titanium White – Neither warm nor cool, somewhere between Zinc and Lead white. R. suggested using Old Holland brand for this particular color because of the relative intensity of its tinting strength and now I can’t get along without it. The history notes from Dick Blick are interesting:

Titanium is the ninth most abundant element in the Earth’s crust, however mineral deposits that are economical to mine are less common. Titanium dioxide was first discovered in 1821, although it could not be mass produced until 1919. Widespread use of the pigment began in the 1940s. Since that time, it has become the most commonly used white pigment.

Permanent yellow light – Cooler than the cadmium yellows that it was intended to be a chemical replacement for, and much more versatile. This pigment mixed with Ivory black makes a beautiful range of still-life greens.

Quinacridone ruby (also sold as Old Holland magenta) – From the  Dick Blick excerpt on this color:

Chemical Formula: C22H16N2O2

Properties: Quinacridone Magenta is a semi-transparent and powerful bluish red with an impressive mixing range. It makes an excellent glazing color and is one of the bluest of the Quinacridone colors. The pigment’s properties vary considerably, depending on how it is ground. Quinacridone pigments have relatively low tinting strength in general. For this reason, quinacridone colors are often expensive, because more pigment is required in the formulation.

Permanence: Quinacridone Magenta offers very good lightfastness in most media, but some have argued that it is less lightfast in watercolor form. Although Quinacridone Magenta received only a passing grade of “fair” under ASTM test protocols, other test results have rated the pigment very good to excellent. Transparent reddish violet pigments in general have more problems with lightfastness than any other range of colors. PR122 is often used as the Magenta of CMYK (four color) process printing because it offers a better tradeoff between tinting strength and lightfastness than other pigments in its class.

History:Quinacridone Magenta came from a red violet aniline dye that was first produced in 1858 by Natanson. It was called Magenta to commemorate a battle in Magenta, Italy. Over time, Magenta became the standard color name for a deep, violet red. Although quinacridone compounds became known in the late 19th century, methods of manufacturing so as to make them practical for use as commercial pigments did not begin until the 1950s. PR122 has become particularly popular in the formulation of Magenta for CMYK process printing.

Phthalo green blue – intense, mixes well, and is closest to the discontinued (and toxic) Verdigris.

Manganese blue – copper phthalocyanine. Very deep and slow drying, reliable and light-fast, tending toward green. This pigment was discovered by accident in 1935.

Ivory black – from charred bones these days, since ivory is protected. Blue-black with a hint of brown in mixtures, this color functions in my palette (with so many cool colors) as a warm mixture.

Raw Umber – A combination of Mars Black and Mars Orange, this dark pigment has strong warm undertone, great for warming the phthalo blues.

I’ve never had a more dependable selection of pigments, even for simple two-color mixes to produce a range of still-life colors. This random sample is permanent yellow light and q. rose, tinted with white at the bottom of the palette and toned with ivory black to the right.

two color mixes

Next on the easel is a set up of pink mallow and scarlet roses on a raw umber ground. Can’t wait!