An artist's journal.
Here you'll find my paintings and musings, where the featured subjects could likely cover just about anything.
The last 4+ years I've been caring for my best buddy B during his courageous fight to live through cancer and it's complications. I'm tickled to report, he's getting better and I'm finding small bits of painting time again.

Looking forward to a daily celebration of life's gifts by using the brightest, happiest colors in the box!

Visitors looking for 'B's Journey', click here.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Colorado Dreaming, again.

I found out after I had sold and shipped this painting to it's new owner back east, that my daughter loved it and wished it was hers.
I couldn't get it back, so I added it's image to my Imagekind store inventory and ordered the 16" x 16" canvas giglee version.
Imagekind did a terrific job with the print and today I gave her the painting giglee for her birthday.
She loves it!

If you'd like to hang this sweet little vintage VW microbus cruising through autumn's splendor on your wall too, click here to find it in my Imagekind store.

Canvas or paper prints are available in lots of sizes.

Discount coupons for saving money and/or free shipping can often be found by Googling Imagekind Coupons or you can use this link- Imagekind Coupons.
If a current coupon is available, use the discount code at checkout.

Also, if you order the wrapped canvas print like I did, make sure that you specify what kind of border you want on the wrapped sides.
It looks great with the black border which is what I ordered.

Thanks for visiting!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Meet Gigi, the giraffe.

After more than a year away, I am finally painting again!

Meet Gigi.
A blue giraffe! Well, she's blue right now, but that will change.
What you're seeing right now is her acrylic Phthalo Blue underpainting against a bright Yellow Orange Azo/Napthol Red mix (orangish) background.
After roughly sketching her with a black sharpie (not something I usually do), I washed the canvas with these bright colors, the opposite of what the top coat colors will be.
Ultimately, the sky will be shades of blue and Gigi will be shades of gold and orange with small bits of the bright underpainting peeking through here and there in the finished painting. I love that effect.
Colorful and whimsical are my goals with this painting, and so far, I'm digging the results.
I especially love her sweet face. She's got a dragonfly on her nose, and will be just slightly cross-eyed and grinning as she looks at it.
And, did I mention she's a full 6 feet tall?!
She's a diptych, two 18" x 36" canvases.

How did I find my way back to my easel and paints again after more than a year away?

Well, I've been pretty much a full time caregiver for my hubby these last 3 years as he's fought Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma and Myelodysplastic Syndrome.
And he's doing pretty darn good now considering what he's been through, including intensive Chemotherapy in 2011 (which thankfully put his Lymphoma in remission) and a Bone Marrow Transplant 20 months ago that has put his Myelodysplastic Syndrome into remission as well, but he still needs quite a bit of care. I can't leave him alone for long lengths of time.

I did some minor remodeling of our home, which included converting our home office into a small (9'x10') studio inside the main part of our house.

To reach my other big ole studio (14' x18'), I had to go through two closed doors.
It was way too far removed from the main part of the house and way, way too far away from Brian for me to feel comfy painting there.
I simply couldn't relax or get in a painting zone not knowing if he needed me inside the house. I tried, but just couldn't do it.
In my new smaller studio, I can see and hear him, so I am now totally relaxed when I want to paint.

Yep, Gigi's going to be an adventure, and the perfect project to become reacquainted with painting again. I'm super excited to see where she leads me.
I'll post progress pics as I find small chunks of time to work on her.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Let Your Spirit Run Wild!

'Let your spirit run wild!'
24" x 36"
acrylic on canvas
private collection
Tucson, Az

She's signed, sealed and delivered!
My oh-so-patient client took delivery of her wild mustang Annie's portrait this morning and I'm happy to report she was delighted with the finished piece.
I am a bit sad to see her go, but pleased she's loved.
I thought I'd find enough time to get her painted and delivered within 3 weeks of start, but life, well, life kept throwing me curves that kept me out of my studio. So, it actually took six weeks to find the necessary chunks of painting time I needed to get this portrait done.
My wonderful client knew 3 weeks was a guesstimate going in, and was kind and patient with me needing the extra weeks. 
This first commission since B's been ill provided the perfect opportunity to answer those questions I'd been asking myself a few months ago in this blog.
Yes, while finding studio time may be a challenge at times, it can be done, and, yes, I didn't completely forget how to paint during those long months away. Yay!

Here's the reference photo the client provided for this piece. You can see, in the finished painting,  that I used creative license to liven the photo up in a way that suited the unusual cropping.

It also included, at the client's request, a painted script along a 4" black band across the bottom that read "Let your spirit run wild!", hence the title of the painting. These words pay homage to her love of marathon running and of course, her love of her wild mustang Annie. 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

More progress pics of Annie~Portrait of a Wild Mustang

Thought I'd get this commission finished by this weekend, but chores, B's Scottsdale Dr. visit and an all day headache on Thursday kept me out of the studio most of the week.
I did make headway though these last few days and should (in a perfect world) finish tomorrow. Finally got her 'eye' done just the way I wanted so the rest should be fairly easy. Her mane is still just blocked in and needs finishing and a few value adjustments are needed on the shadow of her muzzle, but that's pretty much all that's left to finish.

So, here's where I left you last post.

I started adding warm colors and definition to her mane while still leaving bits of blue peeking out on the hair's edges.

And I wasn't digging the far right sky area, so I rewashed it with the Phthalo Blue until I decide what I want to do there.

Her coat and eye are still roughly blocked in here.
Here, I continue to fine tune her eye and mane.
I've also softened her coat and almost have the shadowing correct.
The shadow area of her muzzle is still blue. That will be softened to a light, almost white lavender at some point.

I've decided, before working on any other part of the painting, to get her eye completely finished.
It's the focal point and the window to her soul. It needs to be just right!

Yay! I finally have her eye just the way I want it!
It has so many pretty colors in it! 
And, she now follows me around the room with her gaze.
I love it when a portrait's eyes come to life!

Next, I'll soften some of the shadows on her coat and start working on her still blue muzzle.

This pic shows the client's reference photo on my laptop.
You can also see the small blue monitor on the easel's shelf for helping me keep connected to B while I paint.
No Luddite here, I love technology! 

Her coat is now shadowed and softened just the way I want it, I've almost got her muzzle done and I added a nice sky blue to the far right area of the painting. 
The value of the muzzle shadow is still a bit too dark so I will lighten it next.
I love the hints of lavender and violet in her eye, mane and muzzle shadow.

I've taken all these pics with my iPhone so far so quality isn't top notch but it's sufficing.

When the portrait is complete, I'll use the better camera for final pics. 

So far, I'm digging the results of this commission, but I've decided I don't like painting with a deadline. If I accept another commission, I'll be sure to add a few extra weeks to the finish date so I can spend more time with B.
But, this piece has definitely got me 'back in the painting saddle' again. And for that, I'm grateful it came my way.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Annie~Portrait of a Wild Mustang

Started a new commission piece. It's been a long time since I've accepted any commission work. As many of you know, B's illness has kept me out of the studio for quite a long while.

The gracious client of this commission is okay with me perhaps missing the delivery deadline if any issue with B's health pops up and keeps me out of my studio for a while.
That said, I've got a few days of painting in and I'm actually making pretty good headway so far. Hopefully (in a perfect world) I will be able to deliver this portrait of my client's wild mustang, Annie, right on time.

Annie's owner wanted me to work from a photo she had with this unusual cropping of her horse's face.
This cropping feels like pop art, so I'm taking a bit of artistic liberty, and will include very small hints of a contrasting color peeking out along edges here and there throughout the painting. This will add to the painting's modern, bold feeling, while still allowing me to be true to Annie's beautiful reds and golden white colors. It will be yummy!

Here, I began the painting by adding a black border on the
24" x 36"
canvas to accommodate the reference photo's unusual long, narrow size.
Then, I blocked in most of her dark lines with black and purple.
Next I washed the whole canvas with transparent Phthalo Blue and a bit of Thio Violet.
Almost all of the blue and violet will disappear as I add the opaque top coat colors. I will only let small bits of these under painted colors peek through here and there to add interest to the finished piece. I can control how much or how little I let show as I proceed and will let the painting tell me what is right. These hints of modern color will work great with the bold cropping.

Below I've started to add the opaque rusts and red tones of Annie's coat. I also worked a bit on her eye, although it still needs some tweaking to make it come alive. It is the main focal point, so I want it to be spot on when finished. It is, after all, the window to this beautiful horse's soul.

I still haven't worked on Annie's mane, which will be a warm golden color with white highlights. I'll start that in my next session. Remember, most of the blue you see will disappear, with only smidgeons peeking through around the edges here and there.

Here's a close-up detail of the eye. You can see the rough brush strokes that will ultimately be softened as I finish bringing her to life.

My 60's painting (below) is on hold until the commissioned piece is done.
I did block in a tambourine, VW microbus and another flowered square before I accepted the horse portrait, but those squares look like the pages of a coloring book, with just black outlined drawings. I still love playing with coloring books and it will be fun coloring in these new designs.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Let the sun shine in.

'When the moon is in the seventh house
And Jupiter aligns with Mars
Then peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars.

This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius.
Let the sun shine in.'
excerpt from the song-Age of Aquarius/Let the sun shine in.

I liked this song from the '60's musical 'Hair'.
And it had nothing to do with the fact that I was born under the sign of Aquarius.
In fact there were several songs from that musical that I really liked. They had a fun vibe.
Growing up in the sixties was a blast. All our music was amazing, and still is.

Anyway, when I walked into my studio today to paint the next 6" square (of my still unnamed '60's painting), I was going to add a cropped portion of a keyboard. Instead, I got a crazy urge to paint this.
She was painted over one of the solid red squares, so you can see the red peeking out all around the edges.
I kinda like her. Although painting a request to 'let the sun shine in' may have had an unwanted effect on our weather. I was hoping we'd have another fabulous, much needed thunderstorm like yesterday, but it didn't rain a drop today. Maybe my next painting session should pay homage to the Cascade's 'Listen to the rhythm of the falling rain'. Just saying.

Today, while painting, I found myself listening to a lot of Pink Floyd, which gave me a crazy idea for another square that I may or may not use. It would always remind me of my son, so I may add it, but it may not fit with the '60s theme so we'll see.
I think this painting will morph into whatever it's meant to be. Six of twenty-four squares are done. And so far, it's been a fun, whimsical painting, that's also allowing me to become familiar again with how acrylic paints behave.
I'm not getting huge chunks of time to paint, but I'm getting enough. I'm trying to time my painting sessions around B's naps or when he's in his studio recording. If he's just chillin' with TV or something, I sit with him so we can be close. He's still numero uno to me.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

With a little help from my friends...

...this painting might get a name. I've been having a heck of time thinking of a clever title for this newest piece, so if any of you have suggestions, please let me know, either in a comment here or on my Millward Studios Facebook page.

In my last post there is a pic of the whole canvas with a few finished squares to help you get an idea of where this painting might be heading. I'm sure as more squares are finished and posted, a title will become more obvious, but for right now I'll just refer to it as the 'Music and the '60's' piece. Boring. 
I like clever twist-of-words or pun type titles.
I once named a painting of Brian's guitar slides 'Sometimes, you just have to let it slide', with a subtitle a la Rocky and Bullwinkle of 'No sense fretting about it.' 
I know there's the perfect title for this new painting out there and one of you will think of it.

I've decided to reveal the 24 squares of my 'Music and the '60's' (yawn) painting a few at a time as I finish them.
Then, once all the squares are done, I'll reveal the entire finished piece.

Here are first two completed squares so far:

All the squares are 6" x 6". So far, five are done. There will be 24 squares total making up the finished painting.
To help you with name suggestions, a few other ideas I'm toying with including on this canvas are a paisley design, a VW bus, tuning keys, a keyboard, song lyrics (probably Beatles or Dylan), a Vox or Fender twin's knobs, more flora, a tambourine, a macro cropped portion of a drum, McCartney's Hofner, John's Ric headstock and....????
That's just a portion of my list. There's a lot of neat stuff on this list and it remains to be seen what will make the cut design wise.
I'm having too much fun with this. 
Here are the 3 squares I completed today. :

The black and white checkerboard on this guitar square loosely represents the neat inner decorative strip known as purfling sometimes found around the front edge of a guitar's body. Martin & Co. uses a herringbone design purfling on their guitars that may show up somewhere on this painting too.

Brian's every two week visit with his transplant Doc yesterday went really well.
He's feeling good too so in theory I should be spending some quality time in my studio these next few weeks.
After so many many months away, I'm painting again! Pinch me!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Just Playing

I am playing with paint.
That means that B is doing okay and I've been able to spend a few hours here and there in my studio. Finding a balance is making me a very happy girl.
Many years ago, I did several paintings on 24" x 36" canvases that had been divided into 24 equal 6" squares. The subjects of these paintings were varied and apparently popular as all of them sold.
Back then, I had also started an abstract 24/6 painting that never got finished. I didn't much care for how the randomly created patterns of each square were turning out, and my ADD took over, making me grow bored with it. 
So, I set it aside, intent on changing it someday when my interest reignited. 

Someday arrived a few days ago.
I took that unfinished painting and gessoed over all the original squares to start new. Some of the previous patterns are still peeking through, but they will disappear as I add new pattern and paint.

I want this reworked canvas to be all about music and the '60's, with each square painted with bright colors and loose brushwork.
It will mostly feature musical things, but I do intend to include a VW microbus (of course) and a square or two of paisley patterns, and perhaps some text and.....who knows? ....the possibilities are endless. I will also probably leave a few squares of just yummy solid colors so it doesn't get too busy.
I am having so much fun just playing with acrylic paint again. 

This flower design is taken from an old 1969 hippie shirt I still have from a previous lifetime. It's a classic 1960's beauty with the long pointed collars and wide cuffs on long sleeves. I love this vintage shirt and wanted to give it's cool pattern a nod in this painting.

I'm letting the solid colors of each new square peek through from underneath the patterns.
Here I've used pink and white over orange.

Here's a photo of the fabric of my old '60's shirt. Isn't it cool!

Detail of acoustic guitars and a gold and white over red version of the 60's flower print.

Below is another 24/6 painting I did back in 2006.
This one was called 'California Dreamin' and featured 24 coastal scenes, including one with a VW microbus on the beach. I think it's Washington, DC owners have actually moved to California since it's purchase years ago.

Here's my original blogpost for California Dreamin'.

California Dreamin' 2006
24" x 36" x 3/4"
acrylic on canvas
Scolnik collection, Washington, DC

Saturday, June 29, 2013

It's been a long time.

Sunflower revisited 2013
20" x 24"
Oil over Acrylic on canvas

Hello friends.

Perhaps you're a new visitor here or an old friend. Either one, I'd like to thank you for stopping in today.

Old friends will know that this Artblog of mine has been static for quite some time now. Two years ago, I became the full time caregiver for my precious husband Brian.

His cancer returned in March 2011 and the treatments and complications that arose, necessitated huge changes in my life. My mission was to try to save his life. Anything I could do to help, anything at all, I would happily do to keep this wonderful human with me for as long as possible.

That meant hanging up my paintbrushes these last 2 years as I've stood beside him in his fight for life.

And now, after a Bone Marrow Transplant on February 13th of this year, I am happy to report he's on the mend. And while, he's not 100%, he's getting better. And he doesn't need my constant care anymore.

Which brings me to today.
And this post. And this latest painting.

Brian still needs my care, but not nearly as much. Yet, with some free time to finally get my paintbrushes wet again, I was having trouble getting back in my studio. I found myself befuddled and fearful as to how or where I should start.

How was I to go about rediscovering myself as an painter, and finding a balance between caregiver and artist?

I simply couldn't seem to get started.

For the first year or so that I was away, I still 'thought' like an painter. Daily, I saw inspiration for paintings all around me, everywhere I looked. And, I'd have a good idea of just exactly how I'd translate those inspirations to canvas.

But, as Brian became more ill, and life became heavier, I started losing that painter's vision, and gradually the inspirations and hands-on knowledge of my medium faded.

You fellow artists know what I'm talking about when I say we see every little thing in the world through painters eyes. We see the way light plays with ordinary things, we see the magic in shapes and colors, the abstract of light and dark. It's a wonderful way to view the world. And we usually have a good idea of how we'd translate those visions into art through the medium of our choice. In the past, for me, that's been acrylic paint. I understood that silly, fast drying, paint. I understood my brushes. I knew how to get the look I wanted instinctively with these tools.

But now, after 2 years away, I was feeling a lot like a beginning painter again. I hadn't a clue if I could even still paint. I felt like I had forgotten how.

This scared me.

I mean, who knows, after such a long time gone, how that first painting would turn out?

And what did I want to paint?

Art is emotion and emotionally I am definitely not the same person I was 28 months ago. Cancer and nearly losing my Brian (several times) have changed the way I view the world. No way around that.

In the past, despite dark childhood baggage (the kind that some artists would use to fuel dark, introspective paintings), I've mostly leaned towards painting cheerful stuff.  
And, despite the toughness of these last 28 months, I'm pleased to find I still want to paint happy things.  If anything, I now want even more whimsy, more color, more life, more happy in my paintings.

So, I knew I wanted to paint something bright and colorful, but what would that be? Would I perhaps finish a previous work-in-progress that's been waiting patiently or would I begin with a new, start-from-scratch, fresh clean canvas?

Should it be big? or small? Abstract or realism? Pure whimsy or contemporary? And how about maybe trying oils now? The possibilities were endless, I just needed to face my fears and start.

And, while my fear that I'd lost my mojo was playing a big part in me not getting started, my biggest fear, was leaving Brian alone. It was downright paralyzing.

My studio is somewhat isolated from our main living area. And from past experience I know, when painting, I become completely absorbed in the process, unaware of time passing or things around me.
So, fear I'd get lost in a painting and perhaps not be aware if Brian suddenly needed me, continually wreaked havoc on me starting. I'd walk into my studio, then turn around and walk right back out so I could check on Brian. After being by his side non-stop for 28 months, I was finding it almost impossible to let go, paint, and have faith that he'd be fine.

So there I was. Befuddled. Fearful.

Ready to paint, but not painting.

Then it occurred to me, use your Artblog, silly. Launched in 2008, this blog is an old friend.

Before Brian became unwell, I'd artblogged regularly and loved sharing my painting adventures here.
So, I decided to brush the cobwebs off my static Artblog and use it as the catalyst to help me get started again. To get me painting again, to show me I can find the balance.

I can be a painter, and a caregiver.

I just have to start.

So, I set a goal, to get me off my fearful, befuddled duff and start painting again.
Ten days ago, I posted the following note at the top of my blog:

June 19, 2013-
After more than two years away, helping my hubby through Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, Myelodysplastic Syndrome and a Bone Marrow Transplant, I am full of questions. 

Can I still even paint? 
How has this incredibly emotional experience changed me, both as an artist and a human being? 
I know I'm changed, but have I lost, or have I've gained sight?
As my husband's health slowly improves, it's time I find out.
Using this Artblog as a catalyst to kickstart my painting again, I've set my first goal.
Post a new painting here before the end of June.
Can I do it? Can I find a balance between caregiver and artist? 11 days will tell.
Baby steps.

As this self imposed deadline rapidly approached, I was finally able to put together a few hours of studio time here and there these last few days and made the deadline.
It was a good exercise. Without this goal, I probably would still not have started.
Now, I can't wait to paint again!

No, I didn't start this painting from scratch, but I did put wet paintbrushes on canvas, and that was a huge step forward.
I'd been curious for quite some time about using oil paints over an acrylic under-painting, but hadn't gotten around to trying it before B got sick and I had to put my paintbrushes away.
Not feeling very confident with my rustiness and a new medium (oil), I decided to rework an old sunflower painting I'd originally painted in 2009, one that I'd never really liked. I figured if I messed it up big time with my oil painting experiment, no worries.

Below is a photo of the way the 2009 acrylic painting used to look, and how it looks now with oil paint applied in areas over the old acrylic paint. I'm okay with the reworked sunflower painting now. It's colors are more subtle, and it's not as garish as it was, but it's still not on my list of favorites. Although, I do like it better than before.

After this first attempt at oil painting, the jury remains out on me using oil paints on any surface, much less an acrylic one. (Holy guacamole, this stuff is wet and messy and I'm not fond of the clean up, which requires strong smelling solvents).

It was an interesting, and somewhat amusing experiment. 

I had oil paint all over me because I kept forgetting it was wet. Then I'd have to use the odorless solvent (odorless? not!) to clean up. 
It was really quite comical. I had paint everywhere.

There were some things I really liked about the oils.  And I'm not giving up on them. 

But before I embark on any more oil painting experiments, my next few projects, as I try to regain comfort at the easel, will be done solely with acrylics, my truly odorless, water based old buddies!
Hopefully using a familiar medium will help me find my painting mojo again.

Btw, Brian was fine. I found small ways to keep in touch with him hourly so I wouldn't be so worried. Timers, monitors and such, gave me just enough connection to him to let me relax and get lost in painting for a few hours at a time.

And he was delighted I am finally back spending some time doing what I love. 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas tree, whose lights now shine so brightly!

I started painting these trees in 2008. 
At that time, I was playing with heavy texture on canvas. I was also doing a lot of textured tree paintings.  
With this one, I sculpted the trees, sky and snowy foreground with a sculpting medium. 
I then added layers of glazed colors, coaxing the texture out of the canvas with these layers.  I started with a dark ultramarine blue/black under-painting over the whole canvas. Then I highlighted the texture with lighter layers of turquoise and white just softly skimmed upon the raised portions of texture. 
I used warm highlights on the main tree and foreground reflections. I also painted colored lights on the main tree, and dappled some of those colors in the foreground as well.

It ended up a simple, snowy winter scene, featuring a softly lit Christmas tree glowing in the snow. 
I liked it okay, but I set the canvas aside, thinking that someday I'd like to try to add real Christmas lights to the main tree. 
Well, someday came today.

Because B's Bone Marrow Transplant is just around the corner, I knew we wouldn't be able to put up our normal Christmas tree this year. (Follow B's Journey here)

I found myself thinking this last week "Wouldn't it be nice if I had a painting of a Christmas tree to hang, so at least we'd have a tree of some sort up for this holiday."
I was lamenting that I didn't have time to paint a Christmas tree painting from scratch, when I remembered this painting I'd started so many years ago. 
I found it in my studio this morning, still waiting patiently to be finished, so I set about lighting it up. I had purchased a mini light set several years ago with this idea in mind and was delighted to find I had conveniently stored them with the painting.
The texture on the canvas was really thick, which worked out great for holding the lights. I punched holes through the textured canvas and pushed the mini lights through. I then used some gel gloss medium to attach a few shiny stars in front of the tree to mimic the lights reflecting in the snowy foreground.

Okay, so now it's far more artsy craftsy than fine art, but I still like it. It will help make our home feel more festive and I have to say, it's the easiest Christmas tree I've ever put up.

This image shows the unlit mini lights poking through the canvas. The 3-D effect looks sort of neat unlit, as well as lit. You can also see some of the heavy canvas texture in this image too.

Here's a short video of the finished painting with the lights on. 

I had a frame on hand that suited the finished piece well and now, after a few hours of fun playing with this painting,  it's hanging in our home, doing it's part to help make our season a bit brighter.
And, for the first time in almost 9 months, I got to spend some time playing in my studio.
Neato deato.

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"There are days when I feel I could've painted the Sistine Chapel and, then, there are the days when I'm not sure I could trace a stick figure.... the only difference between these days is my state of mind"~ Jenna Millward Corkill