Monday, December 10, 2018

Gypsy Girls

Click Here to Bid (8x8in. - starts at $150 - the red didn't photograph perfectly, sorry)

Jennifer Buxton asks:

“Hi Carol,  I really like your idea of doing a series of paintings.  What do you recommend for a painter who wants to keep working on her current painting but feels stuck...I like my effort so far but fear wrecking it if I continue, yet the thought of not finishing it makes me feel like I am adding it to the pile of almost finished paintings.  I could just start a new one in the series and then come back to this one...I guess my question is, I feel as though I often get to a point where I just don't know what to do, and I've birthed another still born.  What can you suggest? Thank you!”

Hi Jennifer and thanks! First let me say that this happens to me too. I am going along with a painting, and as soon as I get within sight of the finish, I get cold sweats. “Oh no,” I think, “this has been going so well - I’ve put hours, maybe days, into it - what if I screw it up and this has all been for nothing?!” And I’ll ask you what I always ask myself: “What horrible thing is going to happen if this painting doesn’t turn out?” I remind myself that I am not going to learn anything if I let the fear prevent me from finishing. So I might slow down a little, acknowledge the fear, maybe be a little more thoughtful as I finish the painting, but I finish.

It can be so incredibly demoralizing when you spend hours, or days, or more on a painting, only to have it not work out. It happens to me on a regular basis. My husband used to say my mood was only as good as my last painting. : ) But in the past few years I’ve been trying to celebrate those failures. They show me that I am trying new things - experimenting. Because if we stay in our comfort zone - if we only paint the things we know we’re good at, then we’re not growing as artists.

If you find you’re doing one “still born” after another, maybe you need to divide it up into parts and practice each thing separately. For example, if you’re having trouble with value, do some value sketches before you paint. Or if you’re having trouble with paint application, try a bunch of 10-minute versions of the difficult parts of your scene (like my 10-minute apples). If drawing is your problem, try drawing your scene a few times - I promise it will get better each time. Find a similar scene on Pinterest that you like and copy it for practice. Maybe you will learn that it is your composition that needs to be improved, rather than how you paint it. Most of all, don’t ever consider your efforts a waste of time (or materials)!!! With each brush mile you improve, even if you don’t have anything to show for it at the end of the day. The worst thing you can do is let it demoralize you to the point that you stop trying.

And one more thing, I recommend putting those bad ones away as quickly as possible. They will suck your soul if you leave them out where you see them every time you go into your studio. Hide them, throw them out, paint over them, but most of all, move on quickly.

Oh, oh! And try taking a picture of your painting, loading it onto your computer or tablet, and trying out a few endings, digitally, before committing to paint. : )

Sunday, December 09, 2018


Click Here to Bid (8x8in. - starts at $150)

I got more questions! Dawn Littlepage asks:

“Hi Carol, I have a question about length of drying time for paintings.... How is it possible for your oil paintings to be dry so quickly that you can mail them out to buyers in a week or so? Mine take ages and then I need to varnish as well. Thank you.”

Thanks, Dawn! I get this one a lot. There are several reasons my paintings are usually dry by the time my auctions end. One is that I am often ahead with my paintings - by the time I post a painting (in a 7-day auction) it has usually already had a few days to dry. I also paint fairly thin. I’m not necessarily advocating for this, it’s just the way I’ve always painted, but it definitely speeds up the drying time (and I find it easier to control the paint, but I digress). I also use a medium (that I mix myself) that I suspect helps the paint dry faster. I’ll add my recipe below, but there are also commercial mediums you can buy that do the same thing (like Gamblin’s Galkyd Medium).

One more thing that I should note (and no, I do not get a kickback from Gamblin) is that when I varnish, I use Gamblin’s Gamvar. My understanding is that you don’t have to wait quite as long before you varnish as you do with traditional varnishes (it is also odorless!). After varnishing, I can ship the painting the next day. I let my buyers know that it will take up to 5 days to ship, which gives me a little leeway in case the paint is thicker than normal, or I have other things going on that prevent me from shipping immediately.

My medium recipe: 2 parts linseed oil | 1 part stand oil | 1 part OMS (I use Gamsol)

Saturday, December 08, 2018

Pear Company

Click Here to Bid (6x6in. - starts at $100)

And this is the last in this pear series. They get to a point where they are too soft and yellow. And I'm happy with the progress, so I'll move on.

Friday, December 07, 2018

Dividing Pears

Click Here to Bid (6x6in. - starts at $100)

Here's another in my current pear series. I didn't get anymore questions from anyone. I guess I've already said everything, here and in my book. That's probably a good thing...

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

No Comparison

Click Here to Bid (6x6in. - starts at $100)

Alan Conrad asks:

"Your work always looks spontaneous and fresh. I would tend to take that same painting a step further and create "bad realism" rather than "great impressionism" (if that makes sense). I guess the question is "How do you know when to stop" ?"

Thank you, Alan! I thought about this all day. I think of my little paintings like little poems. I try to summarize what I’m seeing – to paint my subject with as few brush strokes as possible, just the important ones, and not much blending (if at all). So I spend a LOT of time observing (squinting). And mixing. Because once I put down a stroke, there it is. It is not often possible to “fix” it, especially when it overlaps previous strokes. In this way it’s kind of like a dance, or a golf game. You do your best, and once it’s finished, there’s nothing to be done about it except try it over again. Many of my little paintings go in the trash. None of them are ever perfect! But sometimes they are good enough, and that’s what I show. So when do I stop? When I’ve put down every stroke that seems important, and not one more. : )

Monday, December 03, 2018

Mourning the Spoon

Click Here to Bid (6x6in. - starts at $100)

I've been chatting with a friend recently about learning and staying motivated. It reminded me how much I like doing a series. I find I learn (and re-learn) a ton about a particular subject by doing a bunch of the same thing. I just finished a cup series, and now I'm on to pears. Once I'm truly happy with the progress, and I start getting bored with the subject, I move on to the next one. I think if I instead painted a completely different subject every time, I wouldn't learn nearly as much.

It occurs to me in writing this that if anyone has a particular question they would like me to answer here, please ask and I'll answer so everyone can see. : )

Sunday, December 02, 2018

Watermelon Tea

Click Here to Bid (6x6in. - starts at $100)

We've had this box of watermelon tea for a while, and no one seems to be drinking it. So I decided to make the tea and use it as a prop. Unfortunately, when I was pouring it into the last cup I heard a little -pop- and suddenly tea was leaking out of the sides of it. I honestly can't remember where I got that particular little cup, but it makes me very sad that it now has a crack in it. You'd think they would be made to withstand hot temperatures. But anyway, that's why one cup is empty.

Saturday, December 01, 2018

See Through Blue

Click Here to Bid (6x6in. - starts at $100)

More fun with cups. They've always been one of my favorite things to paint. Someone emailed me once years ago and suggested I get fancier cups - that I could afford it. But I like these plain ones just fine.

BTW, many thanks for all the get well emails! They are much appreciated. : )

Friday, November 30, 2018

Lean Into It

Click Here to Bid (6x6in. - starts at $100)

Because of my recent health adventure, I wasn't able to put together a new book in time. So I decided to mark down the inventory I already have, in time for Christmas gift giving. Single books are down to $20 from $25, and all 5 books are down to $85 from $100!! BROWSE BOOKS

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Hiding Yellow

Click Here to Bid (6x6in. - starts at $100)

I've been out of commission the past couple of weeks because of a health issue. I was having some pretty serious pain in my abdomen so I went to the doc. She suggested a CT scan, and found a grapefruit sized mass (benign!) that had to removed immediately. I am home now and getting better every day!

I finally felt well enough to paint yesterday and did a couple of real stinkers. That is to be expected after a break this long, but it was almost like an insult to little ol' sick me. ; ) Today though, my hands started to get the hang of it again, and the paint and brushes cooperated too.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Water Channel

Click Here to Bid (12x6in. - starts at $150)

I struggled with this one. Actually, I painted it, wiped it off completely, and painted it again, all in one day. These little people paintings are taking longer and longer it seems. Why? It takes forever to get those tiny little faces right! Even when they are very "suggested." And I guess my standards are going up. This is me feeling very frustrated right now. This is me calling it a day and pouring myself a drink. Bye.

Monday, November 12, 2018


Click Here to Bid (8x8in. - starts at $150)

I try not to plan too far ahead with my paintings, or even at all. I don't lay out what I'm going to paint for the next week, or even the next day. Instead (if I'm going to be painting from photos) I start by flipping through some random files. When a particular scene catches my eye, for whatever reason, I immediately go into my studio and paint it. I didn't always do it this way, but it's been working for me lately. It keeps everything (the process, and the painting) fresh and spontaneous. And fun! Today this scene from Embarcadero (in San Francisco) called my name.

A Late Breakfast

Click Here to Bid (8x8in - starts at $150)

I've been taking a few days off to do some woodworking projects. I'm currently making new cabinet doors for our bathroom. : ) And helping my husband re-organize the garage/shop for better workflow. It helps me so much to have another "creative" outlet. Also I spent a fair amount of my childhood out in my dad's wood shop, so all the tools and wood smells are very familiar.

Here's a sunny scene from Überlingen, Germany. This cafe was right at the "mouth" of the market I was photographing, so I got a few angles, and a couple rotations of visitors. I have a feeling it will appear in future paintings as well.

Thursday, November 08, 2018

You Watch the Basket

Click Here to Bid (8x8in. - starts at $150)

As promised, this is my second painting of this couple at an Überlingen market in Germany.

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Putting Her Foot Down

Click Here to Bid (8x8in. - starts at $150)

These two were walking around this market (in Germany) quite bit, and I actually got several good photos of them. So I decided to paint them twice. This is number one. The reason for the title is her left hand. She is clearly making a point that will not be refuted.

Monday, November 05, 2018

Shady Parking

Click Here to Bid (8x8in. - starts at $150)

Here's another little scene from Mexico. I took the photos for this on a walk to the Aurora, a fancy area with a ton of galleries.

Sunday, November 04, 2018

How Much Do You Need?

Click Here to Bid (6x8in. - starts at $100)

I love the story this tells. She holds the purse. As it should be. ; ) Another scene from Überlingen, Germany.

Saturday, November 03, 2018

A Colorful Commute

Click Here to Bid (6x6in. - starts at $100)

I always want to say, in my posts, "Here's an experiment," because really, they always are! Every single painting is totally new for me. I might paint similar scenes over again, but never the same exact thing. Even if I have a do-over, I'm trying it a new way, because obviously the first way didn't work (duh). And this is the tough thing about painting, because doing something new every time is hard. But it also keeps me perpetually entertained. In fact, the only time I get bored is when I get in a rut and only paint the kinds of things I already know will work.

So here's an experiment. The photo (taken in Mexico) was pretty boring, so I spiced it up with some extra color. I love the stark contrast of warm/cool from light to shadow. Spicy!

Friday, November 02, 2018

In Line for the Trolley

Click Here to Bid (8x10in. - starts at $150)

I vastly underestimated how hard this was going to be to paint. Many hours later...

Thursday, November 01, 2018

Downtown Delivery

Click Here to Bid (8x8in. - starts at $150)

I dug way back in my files for this one. It's from a trip to New York City a few years ago. I really need to go back.