Posts tagged nuts seeds and berries
Happily back at work
The Crown of Autumn

As I confided in my last post, I have taken a holiday from the easel, so have not been posting as regularly as I have in the past. My early Fall break was utterly delightful, first spending time on the beach after the crowds had left, swimming in the extraordinarily warm Pacific, reading great books, and enjoying the kind of time with friends and family that my very busy last year did not allowed.  Recently I enjoyed a mind blowing, heart expanding trip to San Miguel de Allende and Guanajuato during the celebration of  Dia de Los Muertos. I wish Americans could assimilate some of the sweet, family oriented traditions of our neighbors to the south. We would be a kinder, happier people.

Now I'm happy to be back at work. I painted 2 6x6 inch pieces for a December show at the Randy Higbee Gallery. I have never painted this small, and I would like to say that it's HARD! It took as long as a larger painting, and after a session of painting my eyes refused to focus on anything beyond my arm's reach. However, I like the intimate scale of the tiny pieces, and may return to 6x6 panels periodically.

I hope you are enjoying Fall as much as I am. I love the low sun and long shadows, the pumpkins, gourds and pomegranates, and the urge to stir slow cooking soups and stews to warm the people you love from the inside.

A big thank you to my friend Suzanne Redfearn, author extraordinaire, for the bag of pomegranates from her backyard. I had a very messy, fun time breaking them apart and arranging and rearranging their pieces until I found a composition that called out to me. I hope it pleases others as well!

Cactus Royalty

Cactus Royalty
18x24 oil on panel

This is a large version of a painting I completed in December. I love the scarlet bulbs arrayed like jewels in a crown atop the cactus. Their satisfying round shapes invite you to reach out for them, and the brilliant colors contrast with the smokey cool greens of the leaves in a way that satisfies me.

This is the second painting that I have repainted on a larger scale. In general I have never felt drawn to cover the same ground, and am eager to describe another subject. However, I was interested in seeing how scale would affect the feel of the image, and I am a fan! It changed from a beautiful little glimpse to a majestic vision. Fun! And I found that having painted the subject before the painting took shape quickly and with great confidence. We knew each other through and through and had worked out the bugs in our relationship months ago!

Below are some of the steps along the way to the completed painting.


As promised, I've been dilegently working. No, that makes it sound too unpleasant... I've been spending long and happy days at my easel. I'm letting the house, garden and the bulk of my social life go (not without some regret) in the interest of creating a chunk (that's a technical term) of work.

This 11x14 is one of a series that I will share with you piece by piece that I came in very close on, creating an abstraction as well as a specific vision. I love that zone between realism and pure design. What a beautiful place to be!
Pink Berries

Like tiny bubbles, this is a painting of some delightfully delicate pink berries I found lighting up 
 a bush in the Living Desert. The tiny berries were translucent, appearing to be lit from within 
and glowed against the bright blue desert sky. 

The 12x16 panel's first step - a fairly detailed underpainting in Burnt Sienna 

In the next session on this painting I first laid in the sky and then began bringing the berries to life.

The next step was to develop the branches and blossoms while continuing to round berries

And finally bringing up the lights and pushing the darks, finding cast shadows and highlights 

helped to capture the glow of these sweet little globes of light.

Seeds and Spines
I found this scene in the other worldly cactus garden at Lotusland in Montecito, California. The amazing gardens Madame Ganna Walska spent her later years designing are now open to the public. No matter how far you have to travel to get there, I promise the trip is well worth the effort!

I love seeing the stages the fruit goes through, from small nub to breaking open and offering it's seeds. The sculptural quality of cactus is so satisfying - catching light and casting shadow, creating stripes of bright, warm colors and deep cool shadows. Oh, and the mixed message of the lush, shapely fruit and the bristling defense of all those spines delights me.
Ripening Berries
 I saw these while eating lunch and resting from a morning walking through a breathtaking botanical garden. I sipped my iced tea and happily flipped though the photos I had gathered over the course of the morning. Savoring the quiet and happily reflecting on all the paintings I wanted to get to I gazed around me at the plants that were offering their shade to my table. A ray of sun perfectly caught these berries casting their shadows on the shiny leaves below them. I jumped up to capture their image and didn't think of sitting down again until dusk.
 After establishing my tonal sketch in Burnt Sienna I began by laying in the background.
 I moved to observing the leaves and establishing their patterns of warm and cool, light and shadow.
 Finally I focused on the stars of the show, the berries. I loved the variety of color, the sweet little buttons at their base, their luster and the way they hung in differing ways from the branch.
The last step was to bring up the highlights, focus on the smaller details and make sure I had captured their powerful promise of the next generation of plants.