A Blog about Finding Inspiration

"We have a wonderful world to be inspired by and each new day is like an adventure into the unknown, where things that require a second glance can be captured in time on a canvas for anyone to enjoy forever." (Louise Corke)

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Sandpiper Trail 11 '15

Jef Sturm is a well established regional oil painter, who is known for his loos brushwork and vibrantly colored landscapes.  When a member of my local guild told me that Jef was mentoring open workshop sessions, I jumped at the chance to get some tips on how I could loosen up. 

A reference photo of Sand piper Trail in Huntington Beach State Park, SC

The first session Jef had me bring one of my reference photos and try to paint it within  three hour period,  I  chose a photo I had taken of a hiking train through toe maritime forest in Huntington beach State Park, SC,  I used a palette knife and got most of the painting completed within the three hours.  It is worth noting that the restricted time allowed to paint the scene forced me to put in less detail and use looser strokes. 

Completed 8"w x 10" h oil painting of Sandpiper Train in HBSP

Jef's objective for this session was to learn how I paint and take note of my strengths and weaknesses.  He watched how I, set out my palette, the media I used, how  approached the subject, and the way I applied the paint. This time he didn't make many comments, but the next session he wants me to paint a scene from one of his reference photos.

PS You can see Jef Sturm's work at:


Thursday, November 19, 2015

Lake Thurmond Hickory Knob State Park 11 '15

 My 12" x 12" painting of Lake Thurmond at Hickory Knob State Park 

This is third week  of mentoring from Jef Sturm, He had originally suggested we paint the same scene together this week, but when I didn't receive a  source photo from him I thought he had changed his mind. Earlier this week I had started a painting of Hickory Knob State Park from one of my reference photos .  I had finished painting all the landscape portions of the scene and was really anxious to  complete the  painting while the vision was still in my head.

Reference photo for Lake Thurmond at Hickory Knob State Park.

The day the reference photo was taken it  was raining.   All the landscape colors were vibrant, but the sky and the lake were just a dull boring gray. I was hoping that Jeff would give me some tips on making the sky more dynamic. He did  look at the colors I was mixing, but  I guess he like the direction I was taking it as he didn't offer any direction so I finished it off on my own.  ( see the final painting above).

Meanwhile Jef  and another artist  started painting from a photo of a woodland and stream that he was projecting onto the wall.  It was very  informative watching how Jef paints.  The traditional way most of us learn to paint with oils is from dark to light. We start by putting down the darkest shape in some sort of dark blue, then the next darkest in the next  coolest color, and layering lighter shades atop the darker.  

Jef  uses a medium he mixes himself to thin his paint:   5 part gamsol, 1 part stand oil, one part  Damar Varnish (shake together until completely mixed) .  He dilutes his oil paints with this mix down to the consistency of water.  Then he paints large transparent shapes of every major value using various hues to cover all but the lightest part of  the white canvas.He uses a very large brush to do this.  The medium dries fairly quickly so by the time he has finished covering an 11 x 14 canvas, the first hue is dry enough to start adding another layer of transparent color atop of it.  When he is finished it is almost like looking at a watercolor, except that because he is layering atop dry paint, there is no mud. and the colors really sparkle.

I tried mixing some of this formula myself and playing with it at home.  It is wonderful for water with reflections, skies and other areas you want the light to show through (like leaves back-lit against a sky), but is less helpful for creating the heavy texture I love so much in oil paints.  In the next session,  Jef and I are each going to paint from one of my source paintings.  This will help me to better understand his technique for working with such thin layers.  I am pretty sure I will use  his approach in some parts of my paintings an continue to apply impasto like texture with a palette knife  in other sections.  Every new technique I learn has the potential to reshape my style into something even more exciting. So I am really looking forward to the next session.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Sedona Series now on Exhibit: 10 '15

Eight of my paintings from my Sedona Series went  into the Seacoast Artists Gallery today
 (at 3032 Nevers Street, Myrtle Beach, SC). 
 I  still have a couple more paintings from this series at home, as the oil is too wet to hang.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Sedona Series Layout: 10 '15

I have been working all week on getting the Sedona Series ready to be hung at the Seacoast Artists Gallery tomorrow.  As usual, the gallery notified me a couple of weeks ago, how much space I was allocated, and where that space would be.  It is now up to me to decide how many paintings I should put in that space , and  how to arrange that set within my  wall space.  

Of course the Gallery does have rules about the minimum amount of space they allow between paintings, and how close to the floor or ceiling one can hang art work,  but that still leaves a lot of room for arrangements.  I spent  most of the day today trying different layouts out on my living room floor to see which paintings looked  together by color and shape.  After a testing out a dozen different arrangements, I have finally settled upon this one.   It will allow me to hang  at least eight of the ten paintings from the Sedona Series, and still have enough flexibility in sizes that if one sells, I won't have to  rehang the entire wall just to replace it.  

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Sedona Series Updated Photos 10 '15

Airport Mesa Overlook

One of the last things I do before framing my paintings is take a high resolution photograph of each one.  This requires mounting the unframed painting on a black velvet background, setting up photo lamps on stands aimed at 45 degree angles to the painting and mounting my camera on a tripod.  The camera is then  raised to be even with the center of the painting and perpendicular to the paintings surface.  The goal is to get a high quality photograph which is as close the painting's actual color as possible. This is what the the Sedona set looks like.

Where's the Bear?

Oak Creek's Slide Rocks

Bell Rock Trail

Bell Rock Meadows

Kachina Vortex

Moon Watcher

Cathedral Rock Reflections

Devil's Arch

Monday, October 19, 2015

Sedona Series' Cathedral Rock: 10 ' 15

Cathedral Rock Reflections 11'w x 14" h Oil Painting

This painting presented some interesting challenges.  The classic view of this landmark is usually viewed with the red spires reflected in Oak Creek's still waters.  To get this perspective photographers stand in the middle of the creek when the water level is low and there weather is cold enough that no one is in the  water. 

Unfortunately, on the day we were there, temperatures had reached 105 F, and  every inch  of water was occupied by somebody trying to cool off.    even upstream, in the areas where there was large areas of exposed rock and little water to splash in, there were families spread out everywhere ,picnicking and enjoying the view. I was finally able to snap a few  small puddles  in the rocks with good reflections, .  I had to crop the people out of the scene then  concentrate on painting a more interesting foreground.

Friday, October 16, 2015

A Nice reminder of 'Summertime' from FB" 10 '15

FaceBook just reminded me that I had posted this photo  two years ago today.  

These oil paintings were what remained from my featured artist exhibit, titled 'Summertime' which held at Charleston Artist Guild in 2013. Many of the paintings from that series sold at that exhibit. After the Charleston exhibit closed, I moved the remaining paintings to the Applewood Gallery.   This  was a pleasant reminder of how the series captured the sense of summertime playfulness of summer in the low country.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Finished?? TBD 10 '15

I think I have just about finished my painting of Slide Rock State Park in Oak Creek Canyon, AZ . ( I am still trying to decide whether I want to modify the sky color). 

In the meanwhile, I am going to start working on a new painting of Cathedral Rock at Red Rock Crossing. This is one of the most photographed places in the world, so it will be challenging to see if I can create an interesting perspective.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

De'ja Vu?

I woke up this morning to find this photo of ' Philadelphia Alley' on today's Facebook post from 'Glimpses of Charleston'. It was taken from almost the same spot I sketched my pastel of this well known street.

Its a different time of day so the color palette is different, but I think I nailed the sense of place.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

SAG Fall Show Reception 10 '15

The torrential rainfall South Carolina had at the beginning of October forced the Seacoast Artists Guild to reschedule their opening reception for their fall art show. We went to the reception this evening.

Our President, Woody Bowers announcing the Fine Art Craft Awards

Of course the highlight of the evening was the eagerly awaited announcements of awards for the categories of : 2 dimensional, 3 dimensional, fiber art, and photography. There was also an award given for the Best in Show. 

Waiting for the awards to be announced.

I didn't have anything in the show, but I must say it was really nice to get out just to socialize after being housebound for so long. 

We really enjoyed talking with the collectors, as well as the artists and their models.

Artist Rachael Jones  and the model for her award winning painting 'Unfinished Man'( seen to his right)

Then there was the art itself. Like my husband said, "It just keeps getting better and better in this gallery."

Friday, September 25, 2015

Sedona Series ' Airport Mesa Overview 9 '15

'Airport Mesa Overlook' 12" w x 9" h Oil Painting

We  visited the Airport Meas four times during our recent trip to Sedona, and I came away  with a gazillion reference photos  from  taken  almost every vantage point on the Airport Mesa Overlook Trail.  It was hard to decide from that  set, which scene I wanted to paint, but I finally settled on this one because it included the wonderful this  twisted juniper in the foreground, with West Sedona and Thunder Mountain in the background. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Sedona Series' Kachina Vortex: 9 "15

Kachina Vortex  8"w x 10" h Oil Painting

We drove by the Kachina Vortex  several times on this latest trip, and got several shots of this formation at a distance  but unfortunately  we did not have time to hike  to this famous landmark on this trip. 

My  reference Photos from this trip did not give me the angle of view I wanted.

So I relied on photos I had taken on a previous trip,  combined with the sky from this trip, to paint the great lady of the valley.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Charleston Series on Exhibition 8 '15

Charleston Series

Got my new Charleston Series hung in the SAG gallery today. I am pleased with how it looks.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Charleston Series Complete 8 '15

"The Good Life" 10 "w' x 8 "h pastel

I've finally finished all of the paintings of Charleston's landmarks that I started working on at the end of May. My goal when I began this project was to have eight paintings completed, framed and ready to exhibit by the middle of July.

St. Phillips on Church Street 8"w x 10 h pastel

I had four of them completed before we went to our family reunion in Sedona,

Chalmers Charmers 10"w x 8"h pastel
and had plans to paint another four by the first week in July.

The First Red Dot 8"w x 10"h pastel
Add another week in for getting them named, framed, and all the paperwork ready for the gallery and I should have been right on schedule for delivery some fresh new artwork to the gallery right at the peak of the summer tourist season.

Pineapple Fountain 10"w x 8"h pastel
Well you know what they say about the best laid plans. I hadn't thought about what a strong impact the trip to Sedona would have on me. 

The Museum on Meeting and Market
Not only was I terribly homesick for the West, I couldn't get the images of Sedona out of my head.

St Michael's on Broad Street 10"w x 8"h pastel
Five paintings of Sedona later, I've finally worked most of Sedona out of my system. Bruce and I took a day trip to Charleston so I could refill my mind's eye with all of that city's unique charm. It worked.

Midday in Philadelphia Alley 8"w x 10"h pastel
I was able to complete the paintings had begun in June, and added four new ones to complete the set. Of course, I will be delivering them to the gallery a month later than I planned., but the good news is that I have rediscovered how much fun it is to work in pastels.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Bell Rock Meadow: 7 '15

Bell Rock Meadow painting
I just finished my latest masterpiece. It was painted in oils with a palette knife from a photo I took of the meadows adjoining the Bell Rock parking lot. I've attached both the photo and a photo of the painting so you can compare the two. ( PS I will sign it once the painting has dried).

Photo of the actual Bell Rock meadow

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Painting the Town:6 '15

Devil's Arch  (in Boynton Canyon)

Much of our time for the past month has been spent working the house for us being gone during the week we are tin Sedona. You know, all the usual preparation: clearing out all the leftovers in the fridge, deep watering the plants, arranging for a cat sitter, rearranging the garage so we could get the car in it ... work work work ... It's not the way to get excited about an upcoming trip.

Where's the Bear?

I decided to build some enthusiasm by looking through some of the photos I took on several different Sierra Club trips to the area. It worked! I started remembering all of the wonderful hikes we had taken in the area, and getting excited about revisiting those places, and finding new ones.

Moon Watcher

Looking at the photos I realized many of them would make great paintings, but I have never painted scenes from Sedona, or any of the Southwestern desert. Painting this landscape would require, me to explore a whole new color palette. In all probability. I won't have time to do any painting next week while we are in Sedona, so any landscapes I paint of the Sedona area are likely to be based on my reference photos. I decided to try painting a few landscapes from my favorite Sierra Club trip photos. That way I will be familiar with the color scheme, and set to go when I returned home with a new set of photos.

Bell Rock Trail

Above are some pics of the Sedona Series that I have been working on since the end of May. Unfortunately I don't have time to do a proper photo shoot, so the color is off, and they look a bit cartoonish due to the low resolution. They are much nicer in person.

For the paintings I have completed so far, I am using the old photos I took of the Sedona area landmarks prior to 1995. It will be interesting to see what has changed in that time. I will add more paintings to the series from the new photos I take on this trip. Once the series is complete, I  will properly photograph both these and the new paintings and repost them.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Spring Open House at SAG: 5 '15

It was standing room only at the Seacoast Artists Gallery's Spring Open House 

The community showed up in droves to support the event

In return the exhibiting artists brought out their finest, abstract or representational paintings, and photograghs.

Artwork by Sharon Sorrell