Wednesday, December 1, 2010

"Leaves" earrings

My fabric earrings have a painting-inspired fabric on each side (in case the wind blows!), sugical steel hooks and a lightweight coating so they're both durable and comfortable. Each pair - each earring, in fact - is unique. They range from sublte, muted florals to bold patterns and images, from small to over-sized.
I will be featuring them in a holiday art show this weekend in Cary, IL. Please email me for more info:

Monday, November 22, 2010

Pastel Landscape Workshop Dec 2nd 10 am - 1 pm

Have you been curious about pastels, but would like a fun, non-judgemental atmosphere in which to learn? This class is for you whether you're a beginner who has never tried pastels or an experienced artist who needs some motivation to get painting again by being with other creative people.

I will demonstrate some techniques then guide you to bring out your own artistic style. Using photos as a guide, you will be the filter through which the feelings of the landscape are transformed to produce an image that is completely yours.

All supplies are included in this 3-hour workshop provided by the Richeson Company in Kimberly, Wisconsin.

Mary's studio in northern Illinois: email for details and directions,

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Rest In Peace, my brother Mike

This is a mixed media piece I created for my brother, Mike Telfer, who passed away last night. I made it for him last Christmas and he told me it was the best gift he ever recieved. I am so grateful for that.

If you look carefully, there's a photo of Mike in the upper right corner standing behind one of those Sox cut outs when we went to a game a couple of years ago. In the lower right is my brother, Bill, same pose. My daughter Liz, showing off her Sox tatoo in the lower right and lower left (next to the photo of Uncle Jim) is my daughter, Helen at the batting cages. Upper left is my dad when he was in the army.

It's a collage about them winning the World Series in 2005 and also about our family. The Chicago White Sox were one thing Mike and I connected about very regularily.

At the rally in '05 I stuffed my pockets with the confetti that was dropped. I knew I would use it, but I didn't know in what way. I put it in my mixed media piece here. To some, it may look like newspaper pieces crumbled and torn, but any baseball fan knows they're much more than that.

I love art, combining media, family, the White Sox and I love you, Mike.
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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

So, a squirrel stole my tablecloth...

I'm not kidding. Oh, and I appologize for not blogging this week - I had the flu. So, I haven't done any artwork lately, but needed to tell this story. I'll bet this squirrel is building a very artistic nest with my tablecloth.
I looked out the window and noticed that the squirrel who had already tore up and stole the plastic, yellow and white tablecloth my Aunt Sally gave me for my picnic table was back and taking what was left. I ran to get my camera, and although the photos aren't great, I hope they tell the story.
He started a couple of days ago, ripping it up and stuffing it in his mouth. At one point he was hanging off the table with it shoved in his mouth... I really thought he might be choking. My dogs barked and he ran away, but returned. It was kind of unbelievable so I'm glad I got some photos. Aunt Sally says we'll have to buy him another for next year's nest. : )

Friday, September 17, 2010

Watercolor landscape Step by Step

I don't do too many traditional watercolors. I find they take patience and planning - and I'm usually not patient enough to plan. But here is one.

I worked from a photo I took of somewhere in Nebraska while on a trip to Colorado with my daughters and dogs. I thought the scene was beautiful and peaceful, but not quite outstanding enough to paint – so, I decided to change it only slightly to make it a little more interesting.

To make the wash for the sky I mixed up cobalt blue with ultramarine blue. I wet the paper where I wanted the sky. Then painted in the blue left to right, moving down and using slightly less paint – with a wide, flat brush. While the paint was still wet I dabbed on a piece of Kleenex to look like clouds. I painted the hills in the far background using a lot of water for a fuzzy, far-away look with cadmium yellow, violet, and dabs of cadmium yellow and a deeper green (mixed by adding cadmium red to viridian green). I then mixed beige for the ground with cadmium yellow, cadmium red, and violet. Wetting paper first (leaving a space for the stream) I swept it in horizontal strokes working fast to make a smooth wash. When it was dry I took the deeper green with a pointed brush and made short vertical strokes to look like trees far away.

I made more greens by mixing viridian with cadmium yellow and red in different amount using different amounts of water. I painted in more trees. Some looking more like fir trees skinnier at the top and wider at the bottom. I left the far right side of the paper more empty because trees in the foreground will block out most of that area. The water is viridian green, cobalt blue, and ultramarine blue. I laid it in horizontally with some brushstrokes showing to show movement. The water further away has more color and less water because water sometimes looks darker the further it is. Also, some of the darker shapes can be reflections of the trees.

Take a damp Kleenex and blot out 3 small spaces for bushes in left foreground. Paint in foreground bushes and trees using a wet-on-dry technique. This will show details in focus. Mix brown with viridian green and a bit of cadmium red and paint in trunks of trees on right. Put in shadows going one direction in same color, but more water. Paint in weed like plants in left foreground with pointed brush in upward strokes using an almost dry brush approach.

Use ‘funny brush’ (a small bunch of rubberbands cut and bound together) to dot on leaves of trees starting with yellow, then light green, then dark green. Stroke funny brush upwards for more greens in left foreground. Mix pine color using ultramarine and cadmium yellow. Start at bottom of tree, with brown add shadow. Then make branches in short diagonal strokes making the strokes aim upwards the farther up the tree you get. Use a little water to drag out highlights on branches. Add a little brown here and there. Finish by adding darker pine color to weeds in left foreground and far away pine trees to give balance to painting.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Wausau Festival of the Arts 2010

A couple of years ago a friend from college, Zoe Morning found me in a catalogue for the Peninsula Art School in Door county, WI. After catching up, she asked if I'd be interested in judging their art fair up in Wausau some time, the Wausau Festival of Arts. Of course I would!

That is what I did this weekend and it was a pleasure and a real honor.

It was an impossible job - but I loved it. ALL of the artists were juried in and deserved to be there. It was a great experience that I will always remember - and I hope to keep in touch with some of the extremely talented artists I met.

Here I am (right) with Zoe (President of the festival) at the banquet after giving the awards.

Above is the booth of one of the Merit award winners, Gary Nelson from Minnesota. What impressed me about Gary was not only his gorgeous nature photos, using the complementary colors found in nature, but his process. In this digital age he still uses large format film with an Ansel Adams type of camera.

Thank you to everyone involved. I appreciated it all!

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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Abstract Flower

But not quite. This is a very loose, almost abstract mini-painting that I did recently. I actually used kids Crayola markers for the initial sketch and blended them with water, adding unison pastels on top.

Although I have worked large for many years I've recently (the last two years or so) done several series of smaller work. This is part of a floral/nature series.

All of my work (except commissions) is for sale. Contact me if you are interested: My 5" x 7" series are each selling for $50. matted.

Go to my site to see more:

Monday, September 6, 2010


This lily is done in unison pastel and painted on an 11" x 14" sanded Richeson pastel board.

I like the white lily as a symbol of hope and do-overs.

I once told my best friend, Vicki about how one of my students was afraid to make a mark on her paper because while growing up her mother made her do her homework in pen. She felt she had to get it right the first time. Inspired by this idea - Vicki, being a Pastor, said she wanted to tell her church that "God lets you write your life in pencil... and that do-overs are fine." I love that, Vicki!

I would love to hear your comments!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Lois DiPerna Colored pencil paintings - "Pandas"

Artist, Lois DiPerna, does colored pencil paintings, mainly wild animals. This is a one that she had in my art show in May.

If you want to see more of Lois' work contact me at:

Monday, August 30, 2010

Ghost Mountain Pastel Triptych

When visiting my cousin last fall near San Diego we went up to Ghost Mountain in the San Borrego desert. I fell in love with the view and took about a zillion photos. This is a pastel triptych I did on sanded paper. Each panel is 11” x 14”.
I started with the background making a smooth, clear sky and made sure to work on all three panels at the same time so there was continuity. I then worked forward putting in the furthest mountains, then the middle ground, then the rocks, cacti, and other plants in the foreground. Email me or leave a comment with your thoughts!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Brochure for my 'playhouse'

Liz said this photo looks like Gemma and Fitzie are on a brochure advertising for my 'playhouse'.
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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

My Playhouse

So, everyone needs a playhouse, right?

I love this place in my backyard, it's about 5' x 6' with a little wrought iron table and chairs (thanks, Terri!). I'm in this photo with my two daughters having tea. I try to get out here almost every day to either sit and relax or do some art.

Do you have a place in nature that you can get away to every so often?

Monday, August 23, 2010

a warm summer day

This summer has been warm and so I tried to capture the feeling of a very warm, summer day. Unison pastels on 140# Richeson watercolor paper.

5" x 7" pastel.

$50 matted.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Play that funky music

I feel like these tiny flowers are dancing. I think they're dancing to 'play that funky music, white boy.'

Pastel, 5: x 7"


Monday, August 16, 2010

Peach Flowers

I like the energy of these flowers. They remind me of individuals working or having fun all together.

5" x 7" pastel, $50 matted.

Contact me with any questions:

Thursday, August 12, 2010

California conversation

I did this from a photo of Oceanside, California, when I took a trip out there to see my cousin, Ronnie. I feel like the main flower is alive and asking something of the bigger flower in the upper right corner. Maybe it's asking if it can go somewhere. What is that expression? Bloom where you are planted? I think that's what the other flower has to respond with.

Pastel, 5" x 7"

$50 matted

Monday, August 9, 2010

Step by Step Charcoal Pencil Magnolia

Starting just off center of your paper, with a charcoal pencil make a simple line drawing of a Magnolia blossom.

* It’s important to keep your sharpener nearby and sharpen often. Charcoal pencils lose their point easily. A sharp point is one way to get detail and definition.

Complete the line drawing of the flower. Make sure not to press too hard until you get your whole composition sketched out.

Notice the composition is more interesting by not putting the flower in the exact middle of the page, but by off-centering it a little and letting some of the petals go off the page.

Once your composition is complete pressing harder with your pencil start to add dark shadows to the stem and leaves. Notice the light is coming from the left so that the left side of each part is lighter and the right side more shaded.

Create light and sensitive strokes to the flower petals by not using much pressure and holding the pencil on it’s side as much as possible. This will show the separation between the leaves and petals. The petals being lighter in color and more delicate in texture.

Draw tiny spikes in the center of the flower. Continue with the light, sensitive strokes to each petal.

Be very careful not to press too hard. It’s important to keep it light. If you over-do it use your eraser lightly to take off some of the charcoal.

* It is helpful to turn your paper around as you work, working out from the center of each petal. This will keep your hand and wrist off of the dark sections already covered and keep messiness to a minimum.

As you start to fill in the background change the pressure of your pencil from dark to light. You want to create some differences in the background so that it looks like the flower could be anywhere outdoors.

Be careful, though, not to create too much difference between the lights and darks. You do not want to create distracting patterns that take away from the main flower, your focal point. You want to make the patterns subtle so that the flower stands out.
Keep working on the background. You can begin to create some ‘leaf-like’, organic shapes within the background patterns - but make them subtle. You want the viewer to focus on the flower, but believe that the flower is outside.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


Even though I did this 18" x 24" pastel a couple of years ago I wanted to post it because it's one of my favorites.

It's from a series I did of 'cities'. The photo was taken by my friend, Emily.

I sell my original paintings, and also sell blank on the inside note cards with the images of the paintings on the front. They sell for $2 each or 8 for $12. Let me know if you'd like to order some:

Monday, August 2, 2010

David's dogs

I did this particular commission for David, a nice man in Michigan who wanted this as a gift for his partner. These are his adorable dogs and he wanted them all in one portrait together.

I started as I always do with portraits - a simple sketch to make sure I have the correct proportions. To me, it's the like the foundation of a house. If you don't get it right, the whole thing can fall apart. I mean, imagine going through all the work to get the details of an eye and then realize you put it in the wrong place!

This complete piece of art is 16" x 20" on a Richeson sanded board using the wonderful, buttery unison pastels.

If you want a portrait of a favorite animal or person, let me know - - it would be a unique holiday gift and not too early to have me start working on it! By the way, David and his partner were very happy with it!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Modern Bamboo

This is a pastel commission I did recently of a beautiful home in southern California.
The architecture was challenging and I not only wanted it accurate, but it was important to paint the landscaping correct too. It’s a gorgeous home in a beautiful, warm setting, the photo taken on a sunny day. I hope you get that feeling when you view this painting.

I like the detail in the center and the edges left rough. It’s important to me to portray the feeling of the place.
Email me if you would like me to do a home portrait for you (a gift for someone) or if you have any comments or questions:

Sunday, July 25, 2010

summer flowers

I was inspired by some flowers in my backyard. My friend Vicki sent me some seeds in the spring. I'm not much of a gardener, but I did plant them and am so happy I did. They bring a beautiful, bright spot to my backyard, which I am enjoying, even in all of this heat. Thanks Vicki!

Pastel, 5: x 7"

$50 matted

Friday, February 5, 2010


My dear, sweet Selina passed away this morning. She was the kind of cat that even people who didn't like cats loved. I will really, really miss her, but have to remember that she is still with me.

This is a pastel painting I did of her a couple of years ago.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Areal View Beginning

This is an aerial view of a house in Iowa. I liked the viewpoint and the strong values. I got permission from the photographer to use this photo. I usually like to work from my own photos, but always ask permission when working from someone else’s. When planning my painting I decided to leave certain things exact; the placement of the buildings and most of the trees, but decided to leave out a few of them and tilt the whole image to the right because I thought it made the composition more interesting.
Working on a piece of Richeson 300# watercolor paper (it has a soft, smooth surface – a lot of tooth, but not a lot of texture), I sketched basic shapes and composition with a soft, easy to erase pencil. This is the foundation of the painting and making proportions correct is very important. I drew the house on the right and erased it at least three times before I felt it was just right. The angle of all three structures must line up. I didn’t want to make basic structure changes once I had added the pastels. I started adding pastel to the background moving down and to the right. I work this way for practical reasons. I’m right-handed and it keeps me from smearing up the parts of the pastel already worked on.

Areal view middle steps

Added more colors – various greens and yellows for yard, reds and white for roof and deep red and green for shadows on roof. Notice the values are strong. Used very dark and very light pastels to show lights and darks. Used blending stubs to get details around windows and front of house and a piece of a soft, flannel shirt to blend the bigger areas of grass.
Continued along painting buildings and trees starting with darks then adding lights. Notice trees are different greens – fir trees are more bluish, taller trees have more yellows. Spread greens on grass including shadows, making sure the strokes go in the same direction except for ‘mowing’ lines and uneven patches.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


Worked background to foreground – so that I was physically putting things in the proper order – I painted the red roof that connects the two buildings even though it will mostly not be seen once I add the big tree in the foreground – this is because it’s realistic to see a little bit of the buildings through the trees. Good quality pastels (I used Unison) are very forgiving and should cover colors underneath each other – even very light over very dark.
Finished details on house, like the variance of color and value in windows and the tiny bushes and flowers in front of house. Painted trees in foreground. Checked painting from a distance and made sure light source is correct – all shadows on grass and roofs are going the same direction. I decided to sign the painting in the lower left corner because it was the emptiest space and the subtle touch of a darker green helps balance the painting.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Pan Pastel Trees

I took two photos that my daughter, Helen took when she was out in Portland. One is a photo of a bridge and a large, possibly Douglas fir tree, surrounded by foliage. The other a path leading to a wooded area. I combined them because I didn’t like the ‘straight on’ angle of the bridge and I liked the path.

Working on a piece of 11” x 14” white Pastelmat paper I took one of the large, oval applicators and blended Ultramarine Blue Tint, Pthalo Blue Tint, and Titanium White for the sky. This way it will be down already and show through the trees. Pan Pastels, like other pastels are very forgiving and work well right on top of each other. I work background to foreground, which will physically make sense as the pastels will layer over each other.
Using Neutral Grey and the rectangle tool I sketched in the basic composition moving the tree just slightly so it’s not in the exact center of the page. To further help the composition I put the path in the foreground in place of the bridge in the original photo.
Using Raw Umber Shade with the rectangle tool I added the most obvious tree trunks in the background. Then using the round tool and Chromium Oxide Green X-Dark I put in the darkest part of the foliage and moved just a little bit into the foreground. If you aren’t sure which areas are darkest squint your eyes and it will help you see the different values. Start with bigger shapes and don’t worry about individual leaves or pine needles at this point. Leaving them fuzzy and not detailed will help pull them back so the viewer knows they’re far away.
Starting at the top and going dark to light I added more branches using different greens, Chromium Oxide Green Shade, Hanasa Yellow X-Dark, Bright Yellow Green Shade, Permanent Green Shade and then Bright Yellow Green, Permanent Green Tint, and Chromium Oxide Green Tint.
I added bigger areas to fill in the background, more of all colors. I added more definition on the tiny pine branches hanging down on the top of the page.
Using a medium sized hard edged sponge tool and Raw Umber Tint I made vertical strokes on the whole tree, cleaning off the sponge on plain paper when some of the green from the background mixed in. The reason I’m starting with the lightest color here is that the bark is the lightest and the bumps protruding out have strong shadows. I also added the same base color to the path in the foreground. I did put less of the light color in the bottom left part of the tree so the dark will go over it more easily.
Starting with Dark Brown, Burnt Sienna X-Dark, and Raw Umber Shade I put in the shadows using a pointed foam tool. The pointed edge helped me create strong edges for irregular bark.
Using Black, Titanium White, and a bit of Burnt Sienna I completed the large fir tree. I used lighter lights, and darker darks to match the strong light source in the photo of the path and to make the tree stronger and the obvious focal point. I smoothed it out to make it contrast even more from the busy foliage around it. I completed the foreground blending the two photos using Bright Yellow primarily on the left. The shadows from the foliage on the right are Neutral Grey S/Shade, Red Iron Oxide X-Dark and a little bit of black – Permanent Red for the flowers.