Saturday, April 30, 2011


I got an email last week, from a reporter who works for a local online newspaper. She saw one of my encaustic paintings in the Swampscott Arts Association exhibit and asked if she could interview me. I had met her in January at a reception and we realized our daughters went to pre-school together, so she came to my home for the interview. When she was here, I showed her the series of work I will be featuring in November at my solo show "Pathways and Transitions", then I demonstrated how I do encaustic image transfers. I let her pick out which of the images to use for the transfer and after she left I decided to do a larger version of the same image. I am curious to see what she writes (she said it won't be posted for a few weeks), but for now I can share what I painted.

"Wisteria", 16" x 20" encaustic image transfer

2.5" x 3.5" encaustic image transfer, painted during my interview

Photo used for image transfer

You may notice I edited the image in my paintings; did not include the car under the canopy, and painted heavier blossoms (artistic freedom).

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tuscan Landscape revisited

"Springtime in Tuscany 2", watercolor, 30" x 38"

I wanted to find a balance between geometric details (first Tuscany painting) and simplicity (second version). My biggest challenge was including the yellow tree in the foreground and repeating it next to the farmhouse. Adding spatter softened the hard edges and created more highlights. Practice with the first two paintings made it easier to build up the composition however I feel like I still overworked parts of this and I prefer the 2nd version best... practice practice practice.

Now that I have painted this scene in watercolor, I think I will attempt to do an encaustic version... focus being on geometry leaning toward abstraction.

Friday, April 22, 2011


Still in warm-up mode, getting ready to approach larger scale landscape paintings of Tuscany. Yesterday's painting was muddy and dark, today's painting is light, airy but with less detail. I also wanted to focus on the actual building structures and I needed to draw them in pencil first, something I rarely do. I kept telling myself "less is more" because my tendency is to overwork a painting, big no-no with watercolor.

"Springtime in Tuscany", watercolor, 18" x 20"

Thursday, April 21, 2011

warm-up painting

This was the first day I had time to setup my paints and start working on re-creating the Tuscan landscape. I considered it a "warm-up" (and still a work in progress - in the morning I may add a few details into the distant mountains) which should help me loosen up for when I do a larger 22" x 30" version. My focus was more on creating geometric impressions and less on accurate details.

"View from San Gimignano", watercolor, 18" x 20"

The reason I haven't yet focused on my paints is because I have been focusing on the beautiful photographs we took while in Italy. I created a photo album using iphoto software which led me to creating a slideshow (Apple makes everything so easy). The first version I made was 8:26 minutes (this morning I decided it was too long!) and this is the shorter, higher resolution version...

Monday, April 18, 2011

New Spring Exhibitions

Yesterday the Swampscott Arts Association opened their Spring Show at Marian Court College. The participation and attendance was slightly down from prior years although the exhibit looks beautiful. Yours truly was the recipient of the 3rd place prize! Other award winners are shown below, quite an eclectic mix.

Waiting for award winners to be announced...

My friend Betty Ann and I are looking closely at the way this pastel was framed. Carmela Martin used museum quality glass and there was absolutely no glare. Carmela used to be a watercolor student of mine and now she has sky-rocketed using dry pastels. I was disappointed she did not receive a award for this piece.

Award winners: Barbara Gherzi, Me, Debbie Gates, Noreen Nelson, and Clayton Curtis (Ruth Rooks, Amy Roberts and Robert Oliver were not present) 

Award winning pieces:

1st -"Just Clowning Around", mixed media, Noreen Nelson

2nd - "Still Life with Bread and Tomatoes", pastel, Clayton Curtis

3rd - "Spring Pathway", encaustic, my painting

Honorable mention - "Mail Call", watercolor, Robert Oliver

Honorable Mention - "When Rachel Sings", watercolor, Barbara Gherzi

Honorable Mention - "Intermission Cafe", oil, Ruth Rooks

Honorable Mention - "Landing Reflection", photo, Amy Roberts

Marian Court College Award - "Caitlin", watercolor, Debbie Gates

Other news... I was asked if I wanted to kick-off exhibiting at a new venue for the SAA, in the lobby of the local Sovereign Bank in town. My paintings are being featured along with photographs by award winning photographer Peggy A. Farrell until the end of May.

Bank exhibit featuring these paintings:

"Full Wolf Moon", 30" x 38", watercolor

"Moonrise at the Lake", 26" x 32", watercolor

"Winter Reflections", 26" x 32", watercolor

"Another Gray Day", encaustic, 18" x 22"

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Transitioning, back home

Tuscany was an amazing inspiration for me, a place where all of your senses are stimulated morning to night. The people, the countryside, the food (new favorite cheese - pecorino) , and the wine (new favorite wine - Vernaccia di San Gimignano). I am still thinking about all of the vistas and fortunately have so many incredible photographs, a few of which I am sharing below. I hope to start painting from these next week but in the meantime I am back home catching up on life.

Trip highlights -

Castello di Tornano, Gaiole in Chianti

 Good Morning, done with blood oranges

"Plein Air" studio #1, looking toward Lecci in Chianti

wine tasting at the castle

entering Siena, walled medieval city that once rivaled with Florence (and I think it still does)

view looking out from San Gimignano, a small, walled medieval hill town known for it's many towers, and for it's white wine, Vernaccia. For me, being in San Gimignano provided the epitome of a lush, Tuscan Vista

"Plein Air" studio #2, Torrita di Siena

looking toward Torrita, another walled medieval town 

one of the many metal sculptures scattered throughout the property

On the way to Cortona

Wines from the Baracchi Vineyards, Cortona

Ben and Jerry's ice cream in Cortona, really?

By the end of the trip, flowers were blooming everywhere, the spring greens were even more lush than when we arrived

Vista from the Cortona city walls, an Etruscan city dating back to 200 B.C., which also flourished during the Renaissance

My decision when planning this trip was to focus on the landscape and countryside more than the architecture and art in the cities. The italian culture is one that has always fascinated me and being there was the gift of a lifetime.

Getting into the groove back at home meant dropping off two larger encaustic paintings to the local Swampscott Arts Association spring show:

"Summer Pathway"

"Spring Pathway"

I was also asked to exhibit at the Sovereign Bank in town, details will follow after we hang work tomorrow. Next week once I am more settled I will begin framing my plein air paintings done in Italy and then hope to get to work on some larger encaustic as well as watercolors, all inspired by my trip. Until then, Arrivederci!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Torrita di Siena

Interesting accommodations... we booked a 2 night stay at the "Residenza d'Arte" in Torrita di Siena. An italian artist by the name of Anna Izzo used the space as her studio and gallery. The medieval structure was first inhabited by monks, but renovations have allowed for the 8 room B&B to attract visitors from all over the world. Her work is scattered throughout the gardens as well as the interior and there is an eclectic mix of modern, abstract art combined with medieval, monastic traces of life.

Yesterday I spent time with my paints, more "plein air" paintings. My goal for the day was to better understand the Italian Cypress.

Vistas of Tuscany

Medieval town of Torrita di Siena

I decided to split the painting, creating a diptych

Italian Cypress

Our next stop is Cortona for two nights, possibly a day trip to Florence, ending the trip with 1 night in Rome. In a very strange way, the Tuscan landscape reminds me of Vermont (minus the medieval towns and Cypress)... rolling emerald greens with lush shrubs and trees... hills and valleys, breathtaking.