One Scene Painted Three Ways

I decided to take one scene and paint it three ways, a realistic the way “I think” a painting should be painted, an impressionistic, where I tried to paint the color and the light and the contrast, and a palette knife style.  I have since learned more about the impressionistic palette which I use in two paintings that will be the subject of a future post. 

So here is my reference photo.  The beautiful Blue Grotto in Malta.  On my honeymoon my husband and I actually visited this and this is one of our vacation photos.  Sadly, little motorboat after little motorboat arrived almost on a train schedule to this peaceful grotto.  In a another time it was probably a lovely place to sit in a boat, gently bobbing along, uncorking a bottle of wine and breaking some fresh bread and perhaps stealing a few kisses from one another.   However, we, along with others, came, looked, shot a few pictures and buzzed out again because there was a boat in front of us and one behind.


Now here is my favorite of the three.  The “impressionistic style”.  I somehow feel I captured more of the spirit of the place in this one.  But the photo is rock and water.  Easy peasy right?  NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!  I have since learned painting realistic rock is extremely hard (at least for me) and water as well is an “advanced” technique.

 Next, side by side are my realistic and impressionistic style.

 The realistic (right) seems to lack the “poetry” the impressionistic one has.  It seems a bit flat.

And lastly my palette knife technique.   This one was almost an afterthought and done on a very small canvas.  But I wanted to try this technique.

 One of the things I found very difficult with this is that the rock is almost all creamy white with very slight variations in it.  To try and give the depth and the texture I had to exaggerate, and almost intensify colors that were only barely visible.   I found this a challenging exercise.  After doing this I had a complex dream that caused me to look more at the impressionists.  Perhaps I’ll tell you a little about the dream in my next posting which will be about using the impressionistic palette.



Now there are those who are worried about 2012.   They say many different cultures including the Maya have predicted it is the end.  As in the big THE END OF EVERYTHING!  In reality I think the Mayan calendar just ran out and they didn’t think that they wouldn’t be around to provide the world with the new updated version.

But what if all our pollution came back to bite us and to cause the end of…not everything…just man.  Gaia decides to take care of her planet and get rid of the destructive parasites.  Well I think most of life would go on.  The sun would rise and set, the fireflies would come out and the little critters would do what little critters do.  So here is 2012:  Gaia’s Solution.



And Van Gogh had his Ear

I’m in good company when it comes to making art after being in some way injured.   Let’s look at Van Gogh, during a fit of anxiety, he cut of his ear and did a self-portrait.  He died at the age of 37 from what is believed to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.  Have no fear, I am both older than 37 and have no plans of leaving this earth.

Henri Toulouse Lautrec broke his right leg at age 12 and his left leg at age 14.  The bones never healed properly and he never reached full height and he could never quite move properly.  He threw himself into his art and created such wonderful works such as At the Moulin Rouge and his famous posters of can-can girls from that era.

 Frida Kahlo contracted polio at a young age.  Perhaps that was what inspired her to desire to study to become a doctor.  But at age 18 she was in a tragic bus accident. She too, threw herself into her art.  Untrained, except for books and contacts with other painters, she produced some of Mexico’s most well known art.  A self portrait, known as Between the Curtains was dedicated to Leon Trosky.  She had an interesting political life as well as an artistic one.

Well Van Gogh had his ear and I had my leg.  So I decided to turn into art the thing that got me started painting and modeled the painting after my x-ray.  The painting is titled 08 17 2011 the date of my surgery after my accident, where over 60 pieces of metal were installed to rebuild/help nail and screw my bones back together.  Somehow, painting this was healing.  Rather than something that just happened to me, it is a mark of transition in my life.  And now hopefully I can close that chapter and move on, more slowly and less able than in the past, but still move on.





A Jury of Your Pyrs: The View from the Dock

I could not resist the word play.   I have the greatest respect for the courts of Great Britain and no slur is meant.  I don’t think they are going to the dogs.   If you’d like to read about my background research you can read the post Inspiration from the English Courts.

News update:   My Muse Calls and A Jury of Your Pyrs has been blogged about on Law Actually!

Journal Entry

Inspiration from the English Courts

Inspiration can come from many sources.  Lately we have been watching two rather old British shows about the legal profession, Rumpole of the Bailey and Kavanagh Q.C.  The occupation of Barrister dates back to the fifteen century in the Commonwealth Countries of England.  I love the wigs they wear and the language they use. For instance the judge is always addressed formally as “My Lord”.    As I watched them in their floppy white wigs I could not but think they looked a bit Pyr like.  And my muse started nudging.   Here are a couple of pictures so you can tell me what you think.  I found the one for Rumpole of the Bailey on google pictures and the one of Kavanagh is from the website  and it has an excellent article there as well.  If anyone wants me to acknowledge their pictures or take them down just make a comment and I will comply.  The shows are very old so I am having a problem tracking down whether they have been freely released into the public domain or not.

So without further ado, here is Rumpole.

And here is Kavanagh QC


 You can see the accused sitting in the dock with the metal spikes sticking up behind him.





The English courtroom is also set up very differently than the American one.  The judge sits at the front and faces across the room toward the back a raised “dock” where the accused sits.  This is in contrast to how the accused sits next to his counsel in an American courtroom.  There are separate benches or boxes with tables to one side where the counsel will sit.   And of course a jury box and a witness box.  Different courtrooms have slightly different set ups.  Some English cases are only argued in front of a judge or judges.  

The other unique thing is that your lawyer or counsel does not directly argue your case in front of the judge.  A specialist called a Barrister does that.  And the best of the best Barristers are known as taking the “silk”, as they wear special silk robes and the title of Queen’s Counsel or Q.C.  Hence the Q.C. in Kavanagh, Q.C.

The judges also look wonderful in a variety of robes and wigs.  Here is Lord Alverstone from a 1913 Vanity Fair in full regala.









And a here is Sir James Eyre 1734-1799, Chief Justice of the Common Pleas.  The painting is by Lemuel Francis Abbot.









Old Bailey, London’s central criminal court, dates back to 1673 and has been renovated a number of times.  Here is an artistic rendering of one of it’s court rooms in 1809 rendered by Augustus Pugin and Thomas Rowlandson. The nickname old Bailey was derived from the street it is located on, which was conveniently next to Newgate Street which housed Newgate Central Prison.







I don’t believe the English Courts allow photographs during it’s sessions.  That is why I turned to art. 

So you can see how I was inspired.  So coming soon, a picture of Pyrs in an English Courtroom.   Pyrs and Peers, how may plays on those words can you make?  One of them is the title of my painting.

Special thanks to Wikipedia and Creative Commons for aiding the dissemination of information and images.

Factoid:  English Court:  Where the Queen is, English Courts: Where the Lawyers are.

If you are sad this post ended and want to go on reading here are a few fun links.

Charon QC ” He awarded himself the title QC when the Lord Chancellor suspended the award for real lawyers. Now, as no-one can instruct him in any matter, or would wish to, he is free to comment as he wishes on matters which catch his attention. He is, of course, a figment of a febrile imagination ”    He gets into a number of current and interesting topics in English law.

The Magistrate’s Blog Musings and Snippets from an English Magistrate

The Anonymous Assistant A real lawyer writes a fictionalized account of the happenings in a City Law Firm.    

Law Actually “He’s been described, on occasions, as a typically deranged law graduate, with a poor taste in blogging and too much spare time on his hands.”   It’s actually pretty good.

OK people….still here?…..  G’nite.


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Garden Play

I have always been an avid gardener.   In the spring I love to start by filling colorful pots on my deck with fresh plants from our local garden centers.  When Tila was a puppy, I was happily potting away, turned my back for a moment and found my puppy in a whirl of lavender plants.   In reality, there was only one plant de-potting puppy, but in this painting I thought it was more fun to have two.

Journal Entry

Artist without an Adjective

Yesterday I posted another of my paintings on Facebook for my friends to see.   I was actually called “an artist”!  I can embrace that.    I have been reading about art and artists.  Most artists have an adjective associated with their name.  There are “great” painters such as Titian and Rembrandt, there are “pop” painters such as Warhol, there are impressionist, modern, folk, deconstructionist, reconstructionist, and some just bad or crazy painters.  The list obviously goes on and on.

I haven’t earned any adjective yet.   And I think that can be a good thing. 


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The Pyr in the Moon

In my imagination, Pyrs have a secret life at night we don’t know about.  They hear the conversation of owls and mice, smell the scent of moonbeams, and more.   This painting came out of that part of my imagination. 

A little Pyr puppy wakes in the dark of night and is frightened by the shadows and the sounds.  His mother comforts him with “Don’t be afraid of the dark, the Pyr in the moon will watch over us.  

 And look very carefully at the moonlight that comes in the window!   It lights part of the wood floor and lights the Pyrs up in its beam subtlety changing the colors of the rug as well.  I worked very hard on that!

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Moonlight Play-Glazing techniques.

Glazing with Walnut Alkyd Medium

I had an idea, a dream of a painting I could see clearly in my mind.  A little Pyr puppy who was woken up at night by the light of the full moon and decided to play.  I picked up my brush and realized I had no idea on how to paint light.  Light is hard.  So I read up on glazing.  That is what the great painter Vermeer used and many other great Masters to show light and make their paintings glow.  Me, I’m starting with the basics.

First take a large serving of patience.  Glazing involves using transparent paints and a special alkyd medium (I used walnut alkyd oil) to dilute the paint.  Then after putting a thin light layer, you must let that layer dry before you can do anything else!  That’s right….a few brushstrokes and ..come back tomorrow.  Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock sigh.

So in the painting below I only used red, yellow, blue and white.   I wanted the hand to look like ghostly moonlight.  First I painted the hand white and the red bar at one side and the top stripe of yellow.  Then I painted the square over the hand a dilute blue and then a dilute red and I got purple.   Then I painted the stripes at the side.   Then I pained the hand a light yellow (my original yellow mixed with a little white).  Of course I had to let everything dry in between and then the red heart and the blue paw.  Where the paw overlaps the red it is a dark purple, where it over laps the yellow hand it is blue.  The same with the other colors.  The paint that is used is classified as transparent or semi-transparent and it is diluted with walnut alkyd oil medium rather than linseed oil or turpentine.


I like to paint wet over wet where you paint with layers of wet paint over other layers of wet paint.  Sometimes I wait to let a layer dry so I can have a pure color and it won’t mix with the under-layers of paint.

But glazing you have to let each layer dry.  But it is worth it.  The next layer you put on, like putting one pane of stained glass over another, is blended by your eye to give you a new color, and more depth and luminosity.  You really need to see the result with your eye on the canvas because it doesn’t photograph well. 

So I did two somewhat abstract designs, Hearts and Paws, and Hands, Hearts, and Paws.   I used only three colors, red, blue, yellow and white.   Any other colors you observe is what you eye sees after one layer of one color is laid over the dry layer of another color. 

So finally, I had the technique to do moonlight.

And here is my little Pyr at Moonlight Play.

 I am now working on the largest canvas I have ever used.  It is 18 inches by 24 inches.  It has a theme again of Pyrs in moonlight.  I hope to make the moonlight in the next one a little less intense yellow and make it look a little more like real light rather than a “beam me up Scotty” Star Trek beam.   Getting better takes practice and trying new things.  But it’s fun to branch out.

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The Mayor of Malta

Dan and I honeymooned in Malta.  It’s a wonderful island country in the Mediterranean with a rich history that my history buff husband loved.  It also had a neolithic cult where they had many statues and temples to ..I have to say..fat women…hugely obese richly voluptuous women. Goddesses of fertility it is proposed.  It’s no secret that I’ve never been twiggy and don’t want to be.  So being on an island where they once worshiped women of my proportion and larger (I say bring back the cult) was really up my alley too.  That women could be worshiped for all they were mentally, physically, spiritually appeals to me, rather than how advertising approves women on a basis of lack of bodily mass.  Both various sites and the Maltese museum have images of this goddess.  Some believe it was part of a cult of those who worshipped Astarte.  Of all of the images, my favorite is the sleeping goddess seen below.

The light in Malta is wonderful and many companies go there to film.  There is a blue that I call “Maltese blue” that inhabits their ocean coves that I have seen no where else. 




As we toured Malta we passed this cat, more than once.

  He sat in front of a store that had a wonderful entrance including a sparkly piece of granite embedded into the sidewalk.  The cat sat on this granite basking in the sun.  It was clear from his demeanor that we tourists were only allowed on the island because he granted his most gracious permission.  This cat had cattitude!    I nicknamed him the Mayor of Malta,  I tried to capture his cattitude in this oil painting.