Wednesday, January 31, 2007


As I left my office this evening to come home, it started snowing lightly. Just enough to make the roads slippery. Dusk, and what counts for rush hour in this part of the country, people with big SUVs who have the delusion slippery roads don't affect them. I took a back road, and for the first time in two years put my ancient Subie wagon in 4 wheel drive. Nice to get home, change into something comfy. My funny little soft wool bedroom slippers reflected my mood. So, to relax, a quick sketch before supper. Here they are.

Pastel on Tiziano pearl, 180x180mm (7x7 in.)

Monday, January 29, 2007

Little brown bottle

Pastels on Tiziano sahara, 80x92 mm (3.2x3.6 in.)

I buy lots of vanilla, which comes in these little brown bottles. Since I like their shape, I have several of them sitting about. This afternoon I looked at one with the light shining though onto a white cloth, and was struck by the paleness of the shadow and the unexpected colors that appeared in it, almost a rainbow. So I quickly set up my pastels to try to capture that magic. It's hard to do!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Northern Spy

Pastel on Fabriano sahara, 90x95mm (3.5x3.75 in.)

I have never been able to find out how this apple came to be named. It is an old apple, around 1800, first grown in western New York state. Large and handsome in a homely way, it makes an excellent model for my easel. It is the best pie apple ever. This one is bound for a gallette-- a small French rustic open pie.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Mostly yellow...

Pastel on Tiziano sahara, 20x20cm (8x8 in.)

Snowed all day, so a good day to cook and read and snuggle with cats. Late in the afternoon, just as I was setting up a still life, a knock on my door: FedEx with my yellow Senneliers! So I decided to do something with lots of yellows and bright colors. I had an 8 inch square of Tiziano sahara (a yellow sand color) already taped to my easel, so it was perfect as a background. I looked around, and the yellow light in the living room suggested this scene with my sofa at the center. This was fun to do, as I played with the colors as I wanted. This bears a passing resemblence to my living room, but the colors are a lot more lively. Naturally, the cats were elsewhere at the time, or there would be at least one curled up on the sofa somewhere.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The imp

Pastel on Tiziano pearl, 165x240mm (6.5x9.4 in.)

I like to do the human face, as it has so many wonderful planes and relationships and shapes and expressions. Today I decided to do a portrait of my oldest granddaughter to learn more about shaping faces, and because she has such a sweet, lively face. And because she is my granddaughter. What more fun could there be?

Unfortunately, I couldn't have her pose for me, as she lives almost 3000 miles away. This is from a photo of her when she was about 4.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


Pastel on Tiziano pearl, 165x150 mm (6.5x6 in.)

Monday I wanted to make something using mostly yellow, and I wanted to create the effect of the squash emerging from the background defined by shadows and light. I laid in the base using Rembrandts, and then discovered that all the yellows in my new set of Senneliers were hard, hard, hard, and unusable! (They are being replaced by my supplier.) So this is more orange than intended, and not as soft. I like it anyway.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Fate and a little red onion

I did this little red onion right after I got my new supplies and set up my easel. She was quite a cooperative model, very patient with me while I learned how to use my new Sennelier pastels, and got used to the tooth on the Tiziano paper. Later she became part of a delicious red sauce served over garlic chicken. I have a tendency to do this with some of my subjects.

Pastel on Tiziano white, 75x100mm (3x4 in.)

Sunday, January 21, 2007


Last night I did another of my quick paintings, after spending the day doing other things. I'd been going through some photos I'd taken during one of my trips to the Navajo reservation. It was springtime, and dark spring rainclouds alternated with bright sunshine. The soft rains made the usually hard-edged formations gentle in outline. I felt at home.

Desert Rainstorm
Pastels on Tiziano pearl, 145x127 mm

This is a tiny cottage I'd seen on a back road near Ancramdale, NY, late on a beautiful winter day. The sun was low, making hard edges in a striking blue sky, but to the north there were wisps of clouds moving quickly eastward, catching the warm reflections from the sun. I stopped to take a few photos, but didn't linger. The clouds grew darker, and as I entered the Taconics, it began snowing. I drove through the winter darkness in thickly falling snow, and arrived home to over 8 inches of fresh snow. It was a long drive.

I had this small pastel painting taped to my wall waiting for me to figure out what was wrong with the compostion. It didn't work. The other night as I was drifting to sleep, I finally understood what it was. Ha, it needed scissors. The left side fought with the right. So now it is a vertical rather than a horizontal.

Cottage in Snow, 180x215mm (7"x8.5")
Tiziano white paper, soft pastels, January 10

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Rolling Pin/Sleepy Baby

Yesterday I worked on a large piece that's driving me nuts... something not quite right and I couldn't see what it was. I decided to set it aside until later. To my surprise, when I looked up, it was dark outside and had snowed several inches and I'd missed it! And I still hadn't done my little daily painting.

So I rummaged up a bit of paper, looked hurredly around for something to sketch, and spied my basket of old kitchen implements. This rolling pin is very old, made of hard maple, and works beautifully, even though it has a few little dents in it. Today I used it to roll the pastry out for an apple and raspberry gallette.
Pastel on Tiziano white, 70x75mm (2.75x3 in.)

One day last week, I did a tiny painting that was a bit more involved. I love doing faces, and found a snapshot of one of my grandchildren as a baby, just on the edge of naptime. I focused on her face to capture that priceless look of a tired baby resisting sleep. Here she is:

Pastel on Tiziano white, 77x95mm (3x3.75 in.)

Friday, January 19, 2007


I am playing fair, and beginning with now. Or a reasonable fascimile thereof. From time to time I may post things I've done in the past, but not just yet. I work in kiln-worked glass, but wanted to start drawing and painting again, as a way of sparking ideas for my glass work. So, for Christmas, I gave myself a few things in various media-- a drawing pad, graphite pencils, charcoal, a small set of pastels, which I hadn't worked in for ... well, never mind that.

I quickly fell in love with pastels. Within a couple of weeks, I'd acquired another set of pastels, some good paper, and a large easel. One end of my living room is now a studio. I feel like a rank amateur, and after all these years I imagine that's what I am. But this is the piece that started my passion. A quick sketch of my granddaughter.

Soft pastel on sketch paper, 23x30 cm (9x12 in)
December 30, 2006