Sunday, December 30, 2007

Finally - the Corgi

This is the Corgi I talked about all of early December.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Elston's portrait is finished!

Finished at last. To finish I took out some of the shadows on the furthest away leg and some of the body to make sure although there are shadows there, not too dark, because the dog's fur is very white.

Also, rubbed out the white inside the ear of the right side of the page, as it was standing out too bright.

I thought the white strip of back was too severe so I rounded it a little bit - also because it wasn't showing in the photo and I needed to do what I imagined looked correct.

I added details to the grass in the foreground, bits of purple (not PURPLE) just subtly to add interest, not something big that stands out.

Also some more value (lights and darks) to the grass so balance out the lights and darks in the dog and to add interest.

I covered the white foot somewhat because I didn't have a clear photo of one to work from, but also to make the grass more realistic.

In most areas I blended a lot for realism (Brian and his step mom DO want it to look like Elston) but in other areas left pure strokes of pastel to add punch. It is art, afterall, and not a photo so it needs some drama and the artists personality showing through.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Brian and your step mom, and I do hope this portrait does this sweet looking dog justice!

it's coming together

It's starting to look more complete. I put all of the basic color in the background and did some more blending of shadows. Oh, and I made the foot bigger, which makes me feel much better!


Now I've added another green and blended the background and the left side of the page, the body. I used an old wash cloth to blend the green because it's a big area and I used a tortillon (paper blending stub) to do the details.

Oh, I should also point out the two teeny dots of coffee-colored pastel in the bottom right of the page. Well, actually it's not coffee-colored pastel, it's coffee. You see, my daughter Liz bought me some Ethiopian coffee for Christmas and some cute, little esspresso cups to drink it from. So, anyone who knows me knows I usually drink coffee or tea while I work. It's my very personal touch added to the art - and I'm not a bit worried that I can't cover it up. This is high quality Mattson paper (you can buy it at Dick Blicks) and high quality pastels - unisons - so, no problem, you'll see. Maybe I shouldn't admit this but I once spilled a fair amount of hot chocolate on a pastel I was just starting (thank goodness I hadn't gotten far) and was able to cover it right up because of the supplies I use. So, maybe you're thinking I would have learned by now? Well, it's only two tiny drops. : )

the foot

Since I don't have a photo of Elston's foot I got a book on different breeds of dogs and looked at what a Boxers foot looks like. I didn't have one in this position, but I think I did ok. Although I plan to make it slightly bigger. Also, I'm adding some shadows to the white part of the body and the furthest away leg.

started background

I think technically I should have started the background as I worked my way down, but this is working ok. I finished the snout area - using the pinkish black colors in the photo from when Elston was young. Now I'm just sketching in the basic colors of the body and grass.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

whole head forming

I feel pretty good that the whole head is almost done... doing the side of the body and legs will be tricky, but I'll get that posted as soon as I finish.

more than half way done!

Ok, now I'm more than half way done, but still a ways to go.

I can see!

Yay - now the dog has eyes! It's tricky getting in that highlight in the eyes. It seems in photos it can be anywhere and look ok, but in my artwork it always looks best if the reflection is in the exact same part of each eye.

adding the black

and defining the eyes.

color difference

The color difference is amazing between the two photos. So, since I'm going with the younger photo I need to make around the eyes very black.

blocks of color

Here you can see that the blocks of color I put in then get blended together to create a more realistic look.

working top to bottom

With most pieces I work the whole page little by little and build it up - but in pastels - especially detailed ones, like pet portraits, I work top to bottom. You see, they are MESSY and it helps me work my way down so that I don't smear it up.

a little more dog...

This is a very sweet looking dog and I want to do a great job. It's especially challenging though because I'm working from two photos that are very different from each other. One pose when Elston was older and the coloring from when Elston was very young. The lighting and light sources are also very different so I'm going with the light source of the 'pose' picture.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! I am working on a pet portrait and wanted to post my progress for Brian. I hope you and your step-mom enjoy seeing it come together little by little.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Old Courthouse show this weekend!

Hey - THIS weekend come to the Old Courthouse on the Woodstock square for a great art show with several artists including me! There will be art for your walls, jewelry, pottery, note cards and more. Get some one-of-a-kind gifts.

Friday Dec 14: 11-7pm
Saturday Dec 15: 11-7pm
Sunday Dec 16: 1-5pm

Go to my site for more info or to email me:

Sunday, December 9, 2007

rust flowers

hand-drawn fabric

red and gold

new earrings

Well, my daughter Helen leaving a bunch of her stuff (bags of fabric scraps specifically) here after she moved out turned out to be a good thing late last night. I couldn't sleep thinking about an idea I wanted to try using fabric on earrings. So, I stayed up and made about 30 pairs. It was so much fun! It's all I want to do today (of course I have to now come up with some packaging!) but I'm teaching classes in my studio this week Monday and Tuesday so at some point today I need to clean up. I'll post a few more pairs soon.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Thank you!

Thank you to all of my friends and students who came to my home yesterday and brought dog and cat treats and toys. I will get them out to a shelter sometime very soon and although the animals are homeless I'm sure the gifts will be appreciated and make their lives better in some small way.


Sunday, December 2, 2007


Does anyone know of a place to buy reasonably priced, but good quality frames? Metal or wood?

I've found the best place to get mattes (if you're buying a large quantity) is

Friday, November 30, 2007

My new iPod

So, technology is really great, but it's better if you actually know how to use it.

Taking my Shelties for a walk today I decided I would use the iPod my daughter, Helen gave me. She showed me how and I kind of remembered... well, heading out the door I turned it on, but realized I didn't know how to turn it off so I quickly put the headphones in my ears.

Then I realized I forgot how to detach the cord that charges it so it went into my coat pocket... along with a plastic bag, napkins, my gloves, my phone, and my keys. After walking and desperately trying to keep the cords on the iPod from tangling with the Shelties' leashes, and cleaning up after the dogs (Talk about multi-tasking!) I realized the volume went way down and I didn't know how to raise it.

I pulled out my phone and called Helen and asked her how. It worked! but then I'd hear a song I liked and accidentally fast-forward on to the next song... and when finally heading down the hill towards home (gratefully!) I realized my keys had fallen out of my pocket. So, I turned the dogs around to re-trace our steps (very, very cold by this time)... luckily we had to walk not quite half way back when I found them!!!

anyone who saw the big smile on my face might have thought I was having a wonderful time on this cold, but sunny day - but I was actually having a good laugh at myself and couldn't wait to tell this story. : )

It's kind of lame not knowing how to use an iPod, but you have to start somewhere, right? : )

Hey - I just found out about this awesome website that has some great artists on it. They sell originals and prints. Paul Leasure does some beautiful, exciting seascapes. Check it out.. and also check out what they wrote about me on their blog - Thanks, Paul!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

My Fitzie again!

If you want to see what the Milwaukee journal wrote online about my Fitzie, go here: and scroll down to November 27th titled: Fitzie's smile keeps on giving. It's very cute! Fitzie doesn't even mind that she thought he is a girl. : )

Cards in Borders

If you live in northern Illinois, check out the McHenry Borders for sets of my note cards. Here's the display - with the sign made by Andy Williams. Thanks Andy! As soon as we put the sign up a pack of cards sold. Yay!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


I am thankful for a lot of things and people.

At this moment I am really thankful for hearing a version of "Oh, Holy Night" by Josh Groban. It's so beautiful, the first time I heard it I cried.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

new pastels

Happy Birthday, Liz!!!

After I said I was too tired to do anything last night I decided to just try my new unison pastels. They are amazing! I will post a photo soon.

Monday, November 19, 2007


Taught two classes today. My homeschool class was interesting... we used paper already coated in charcoal... they had to erase out the lights. It was something they hadn't done before. Very messy, challenging, but mostly they liked it. Those kids are so intelligent and creative.

Tonight we did still lifes in my adult class and they all turned out so different. Joyce's reminded me of a Matisse. Very colorful and emotional. The foreground and background meshed together... I love purple and yellow together.

Too tired to do any artwork now... Oh, I finished the corgi, yay! And tomorrow since I'm not having class I'm going to make some more necklaces.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

new jewelry

So, last night I made two necklaces. I took some silver I already had shaped and pounded a long time ago and put it with a stone I thought sort of fit, but to be honest I just don't like them. I feel like they're not me or not new or something is wrong... maybe because I formed them a long time ago (maybe a year?) and they're not me now. Anyway... I just stopped and thought I might try again in the morning and sort of just sat there for a while.

Then I got this idea. First I was thinking about what is me now... and I was thinking about how when given the chance what I like to do is really simple, simple landscapes. Then I thought about the stones and how some of them, especially the lighter colored ones are kind of like landscapes. They have interesting little patterns in them. And I remembered once Pat had told me she heard of some jewelry artists using Sharpie markers (because they're permanent) on metal and how it works. So, I thought, ok, why not right on the stone? And actually it was really fun! And I felt sort of like - why mess with the natural beauty of a stone? but actually, why not? So, I'm going to make more and buy some floor wax to coat them in. I wore this one all day.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

My tea couch

Since I needed a new couch cover back in September and decided to get a white one... white is a bad choice if you have animals so I needed something more 'Sheltie' colored so I decided to paint it with tea! It needs another coat or two to darken it up - so, come on over and we'll have tea - no problem if you spill!

Friday, November 16, 2007

killer aloe and pastel landscape

I just thought I'd post a photo of the re-potted aloe. I hope it (they) don't mind. I have a pastel in the background that I did of a big pine tree in my backyard. It's about 30" x 36"

Corgi is almost finished.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

the Corgi

The Corgi is almost finished!

When my daughter asked on the phone what I was doing I answered "working on my Corgi" - I thought that sounded a little like I was a massage therapist for dogs... Liz then said she thought it sounded more like I was God. And on Thursday, God made the Corgi, and He gave it short legs 'cause He was tired... but the ears are very big!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

the killer aloe

So, again, the beginning of the week I didn't write much. Very busy with classes and although I'm still working on my Corgi portrait I can't post it. Going slow, but fine.

Also, I've been busy with a "plant" (or so it calls itself that). A couple of years ago my daughter brought home this tiny, sad, little aloe plant from IKEA on sale for about a dollar. I'm not good with plants, but I accepted it and thought it'll die soon. Well, the thing got really giant - arms stretching out in every direction and angle! It sits on this counter between my kitchen and family room, near the kitchen table and it almost seems to be reaching out to anyone sitting near it - not necessarily with bad intent.

It's very interesting looking, and on Monday I thought it would be good to have my home school class draw it. I started to pick it up and it came out of the dirt with the roots exposed - it rested on the counter and there was no way to pick it up. After class I called Aunt Sally for an emergency - what do I do with this plant? - call. She came right over and she said if it were her plant she would chop it all down and stick it back in the ground. I didn't have the heart (ok, and maybe I'm a little afraid of it) - so we re-potted it in four different containers. I called my daughter to tell her and she said "Oh no, that's what it wants! - divide and conquer!" She's convinced it wants to kill me in my sleep. So, no one needs to worry about me tonight. The aloe looks pretty happy in it's four new pots. If I'm not mistaken, though, I think they've gotten bigger already.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


Finished? I think so. I went with yellow-red-ish water. I'll sleep on it.
Here is is about half way done. I added a little more purple to the mountains too. Now I'm trying to decide on a color for the water. Blue? Redish, like the sky? Purple? When I figure it out I'll let you know.

Saturday, November 10, 2007


Ok, for some reason I just had to add this. Fitzie was watching me while I took the photo of the pastel by my sliding glass door. It gives me the best light. Oh, Fitz!!!

I'm really in the mood to go downtown today. They're unveiling the windows at Macy's and lighting the tree. Or maybe I'll go to Dick Blick and look at art supplies.

Rocky Mountains - again - just beginning

So, I just started this. It's the same Rocky Mountain scene, just done in different colors and trying to be looser. I also did it on different paper. It's kind of a sand paper made for pastels. It's also just slightly smaller than the last one - 18" x 24".

I suppose I should get back to the Corgi portrait.

Send me a message!

Friday, November 9, 2007


Started the first portrait. I won't tell you what type of dog it is, but the Queen of England has a bunch of them. Unbearably cute! I'll bring it to classes with me this week - the portrait, not the dog.

Argus, my dog is doing the same - able to get up on his own, which is a great improvement. I bought him a rug to stand on while he eats so he doesn't slide around. It really helps. I need to get rugs for all over the house.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Why not Christmas?

So, I know my Christmas spirit rubbed off when my 19 year old daughter called me last night and asked - Since she has to study for finals for half of December, the other half she'll be at home, and she'll be home for Thanksgiving, is it too early to decorate her apartment for Christmas? That's my girl!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

my dog

So, I finally got a good nights' sleep last night. My dog, Argus has really advanced arthritis and has kept me up at night - that's why I haven't written in a couple of days. I've upped his steroids to the maximum level and I'll see if he can walk today. The steroids aren't good for him, they'll eventually get to his organs, but in the meantime will hopefully give him some quality life.

After teaching this morning at MCC I'll come home, take care of the dogs and then hopefully start on some pet portraits. I do wish I could post them as I work, but ... whoa! as I was writing that I heard Argus get up on his own to go out! I guess the steroids ARE working. YAY Argus!

Sunday, November 4, 2007


Is anyone else in the mood for Christmas? I'm using all the strength I have to not listen to Christmas music.

Tomorrow starts my homeschool kids class. The kids that I've met are bright and think for themselves. I'm looking forward to it and I'm sure that I'll learn a lot too!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Lots of dogs

This is the time of year I do pet portraits for people that they're giving as Christmas gifts. I just got a photo by email and I wish I could post it as I work on it - but on the off chance that people are actually reading this blog I should wait until after Christmas to show any of them. I don't want to ruin any surprises. It's just tough because the dogs are so cute!!! I can't wait to get started.

Friday, November 2, 2007

camera works!

So, here it is, finally - camera works with Aunt Sally's batteries, but not the new ones I bought. A friend suggested I do it again with less detail and use colors to suit my mood more than the 'real' colors. Since I usually work by mood I usually don't use helpful suggestions like this, but I think I will this time. I used Mattson paper that you can buy at Dick Blick and unison pastels (they're so great!!!) along with some Rembrandt ones, which are also very nice. It's 22" x 30". Don't forget to go to my website now and then:

Thursday, November 1, 2007

broken camera, so sad

Ok, I just got home from our artist's coffee and put in my new batteries, but they don't work. I think it might be my camera... very sad. I will try another set of batteries tomorrow anyway. The coffee was a lot of fun. We talked about art, but then got into movie reviews. Everyone who likes old movies should definitely see "Holiday Affair" with Janet Lee. I think it was made in the late 40's. I saw it for the first time last year and I loved it. It's so funny in a 40's innocent kind of way, but has a great message about being true to yourself and not settling. I want to try to find it on dvd.

pastel thoughts continued

So, I finished yesterdays pastel last night. I'll get some batteries later today so I can post a photo. I was thinking about how the subject matter is pretty typical - a landscape - mountains and water. But I like it anyway. The colors, shapes, etc. I think I'll do more of these, but try to get more abstract with them. I'll write a little more later about the materials I used when I post the photo.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


I find that being an artist allows you to create your own world. Or your own view of the world, at least. How great is that? Whether you’re selling your work or not I think it has to enhance your life to be able to put down on paper what you see or what you feel. I’ve been working in pastels lately and learning more and more. I’ve really been into pastel landscapes. The bigger, the more fun. I need to buy some batteries for my camera and tomorrow I'll post a photo of the one I'm working on. I’m trying to relax and not get in too many details. I want the feeling to be serene.

So, send me a comment and check out more of my art at