Monday, April 30, 2012


Brokentop and Blue Sky
More about this painting
This is an oil painting of a scene I previously painted in watercolor, a view of Brokentop from a ski run on Mt. Bachelor.  It was really fun to translate to the new medium, taking advantage of its capabilities and working with its limitations.  I love the versatility and adjustability of oil.  Every mark is intentional.

Saturday, April 28, 2012


Falls and Sunglow
more about this painting



Friday, May 4, 1 PM- 3 ish
Primary Elements Gallery
172 North Hemlock, Sandpiper Square
Cannon Beach, OR  

For this indoor demonstration, I'll be working on a 36 x 24 canvas in oil paint, using photos and sketches as reference.  Come watch, ask questions, and see my art on display.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

AFTERNOON (palette)

Afternoon Palette
8 x 6

A small painting, working out the palette for a larger work.  Composition problems and color relationships become clearer in this small format.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Vacation in Oregon Spring Monsoon

We have driven for four hours to get to Sunriver, usually the place we go to get out of the Willamette Valley rain.  After a semi-cloudy afternoon at Mt. Bachelor, we settle into our room, and the rain settles in to stay.  Basically, we are looking out different windows at the Oregon spring monsoon.  I spend a ridiculous amount of time on facebook.  We exercise indoors and read.  Finally I go out to paint.... en plein car.

Set up in the back of the van: my camp stool, my cookie sheet palette,
a garbage back, tp for cleaning brushes, a hand-held canvas on board,
bag of brushes, and of course, the rainy view.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Those Who Can, Ski; Those Who Can't, Paint

Mt. Bachelor Summit
12 x 9

It's a beautiful sunny (though not particularly warm) day at Mt. Bachelor.  We are here at 10 AM because my husband insisted that this was the best day for skiing during our 3-night stay.  Thus we got up at 5:30, something I never do except for sacred Hawaiian sunrise painting, and drove straight to the mountain.
Since my knee and back have left me grounded, I am taking the opportunity to paint a snow scene.  From my location amid the sea of cars I have a lovely view of the peak, which I give you here.

Really, I should have taken a photo of my setup: it's much more entertaining.  I didn't feel like standing out in the wind to paint, or setting up my easel, and the van is full of our the 48-inch baking sheet palette gets the driver's seat.  I sit in the passenger seat, with my tissue hanging from the sun visor, the 9 x 12 canvas in my hand, and brushes upended in the open glove box.  Laziness, ever the mother of invention.

Saturday, April 21, 2012


Duck watching from a restaurant at Sunriver.

This decoy duck is bobbing nose to tail like a hobby horse.  No self-respecting duck is going to be fooled by such a thing.  But wait!  Here comes a real duck.  He swims toward the decoy.  And bobs his head.  Like he's greeting the wooden wader "Howdy, Fred, how's it floatin'."  

No response from the decoy.  The real duck passes by.

Friday, April 20, 2012


You can stretch a painting that has been painted on unstretched canvas.  I have never had a painting crack from delayed stretching, but it is probably best to do the stretching within a month of the painting process. Once the paint has dried in, cracking is a possibility.

To stretch a prepainted canvas, you need a stretcher bar of the proper size, canvas pliers, a staple gun, 4 push pins, and a tape measure.

1. Check that your stretcher is square.

1.  Check that your stretcher is square.  Both diagonals should measure the same.  If they don't, push on the stretchers or tap the corners with a hammer until the stretcher is square.  If it is glued or stapled, of course, you can't correct this.  If it is more than a quarter-inch off, you had probably better get a different stretcher.

2. Locate corners of painting.

2.  Locate the corners of your painting by pinching them between your thumb and forefinger.
3.  Place corners of painting on corners of stretcher.

3.  Place the corners of the painting on the corners of your squared stretcher.  You can feel the corners with your forefingers, or press down slightly on the canvas so that the edges of the stretcher appear as rises in the canvas.
4. Pin in place.

4.  Pin the canvas temporarily in place with the pushpins, one in the center of each side.  You should be able to tell if the canvas is square on the stretcher at this point.  If it isn't, go back and repeat steps 2 and 3.

5. Staple the middle of the first side.

5.  Staple the middle of the first side.  You can see the push pin here, holding the canvas in place.

6. Use canvas pliers to stretch other sides before stapling.
6.  From here on out, you will stretch the canvas before each staple.  To use the canvas pliers, grip the canvas just above the lip of the stretcher, then rock it toward you, pulling firmly on the canvas.  Push it down with your thumb, and staple.

7. Once centers of all sides are stapled,
check on the front to be sure canvas is located well.
7.  Once the centers of all four sides are stapled, the canvas is stable.  You can pull out the pushpins.  Then check it from the front to see that it is still square.  If it isn't, remove the staples and start over.  It's a lot easier to fix it at this stage than later on when there are more staples.

8.  Choose which dimension will have corner fold bulk.
8.  I'm demonstrating a corner fold in which all the extra bulk is on one side of the corner.  (There are other corner folds as well, but this one is clean, and relatively easy to do consistently.)  You will want to put all of the extra fold bulk either on the ends of the canvas or on the sides.  Measure your canvas to see where you have more room, so you don't have trouble fitting it into a frame later.

9.  Staple sides from center outward.

9.  Once you have decided which way you will fold the corner, stretch and staple the sides of the canvas, moving from the center toward the corner.  On the sides that will be smooth, staple all the way to the end.  On the sides that will have the corner fold bulk, stop about 2 inches from the corner to leave space for folding.  Once all four sides are stapled, check again to see that your canvas is still square on the stretcher.  At this point the canvas should be drum taut, and make a nice little boing sound when you tap it.

10. Stretch corner around to bulk-of-fold side.
10.  Now for the corner.  Stretch the canvas around the corner to the bulk-of fold side so that it is smooth from the side and around the point.

11.  There is an extra flap of canvas, see?
11.  This will create a flap of canvas on the bulk side of the corner.

12.  Crease this flap along the diagonal where it is bulky.
12.  You will feel a fold of fabric under this flap.  Press your flap against the stretcher bar.  It will make a crease, at about a 45 degree angle.  There is a bit of bulk just under this crease.  You can barely see it in the photo but it is easy to feel.

13.  Fold the flap down across that crease. 

13.  Now fold the flap of fabric down across that crease, toward the back of the canvas.  This should enable the bulky side to smooth out, mostly.  There will be a little bump (just above my thumb in the illustration) where the bulk is folded underneath.

14.  On the back, tuck the smooth side underneath the flap.

14.  Set the canvas down.  On the back, tuck the smooth side of the canvas under the flap, right up to the edge of the stretcher.  At this point you have a sort of double flap on the back of the canvas,with the inner part slightly smaller than the outer part.  You can see this double flap raised over my thumb.

15. Pull the flap down tightly and staple.
Photos by Richard Gardiner

15.  Pull the whole double flap down against the back of the stretcher bar.  Pull hardest on the outside flap, and it will cover the little inner one.  You can stretch it with the canvas pliers, or not.  Then staple it down.  Do the same process with the other corners, and you are done!

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Across the River (Palette)
8 x 6

A little 8 x 6, painted in the studio to study the color harmonies for a larger painting.  The reference photo is from Sunriver, an area I love to visit and paint.  I changed the shapes considerably from the photo to this composition.  This is easiest for me to do in the studio, with just a little detachment from the immediacy of the landscape.  

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Swirling Clouds and Mt Hood
More about this painting
I am painting at the Gorge Crest Vinyard in Washington, with hordes of other painters in the Pacific Northwest Plein Air 2011.  The vinyard has an expansive lawn, bordered by tall Douglas-firs, highlighting this view of Mt. Hood.  It is a sunny day, but we can see hints of weather to come.  The mountain collects weather around its skirts like small children wanting to dance and play.

Monday, April 16, 2012


Today I begin my painting for the Sunriver Arts Festival poster. This is an intimidating project. After all the things they told me they love about my painting, how can I possibly reproduce those in another painting? Can I possibly have that much control?

I decide to spend extra care on designing this painting, especially since I have a deadline, and no other canvas prepared to work on. Of course, there is always the safety of scraping off, which I have recently discovered to be very useful. Even so, I get out my gray markers and make value sketches. I make much more elaborate value plans than the thumbnails I usually do outdoors. This allows me to work out horizon line, numbers of trees, and a few other crucial shapes. It will help when I begin painting.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

DROP IN THE SHADOW, Multnomah Falls

Drop in the Shadow, 12 x 24
more information on this painting
Multnomah Falls must be the most painted and photographed waterfall on the West coast. (Unofficial tourist statistic, created on the spot for your entertainment.)  Most of the time, I have painted up near the "official" viewpoint, looking up into the scattered spray.  This time, I am painting from the grassy median between freeway roaring East and freeway roaring West (buffered by the central parking lot.)  Despite the noise, it is a lovely spot, and I am standing in full sun, painting barefoot (highly recommended).  From here, you get the full impact of the upper falls, un-foreshortened, as I am looking across at it, not up at it.
This painting has a magical response to light.  When you shine a strong light on it, the colors brighten into their original incarnations, out in the sun, looking at this cool, shadowed falls.
(Small confession: blog entry delayed by 2 summers.)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Puerto Vallarta Dawn Sky

Dawn sky.  The air is warm,  even at dawn.  Back here in the Oregon Spring Monsoon, I am trying to remember what that felt like.