Monday, December 26, 2016

"Tonka" (oil on linen; 7" x 7") sold


"Tonka" is for Lauren. Tonka, a Golden Retriever, has a title of "Grand Champion" show dog and is dad to many dogs, including Lauren's. For a while he was a service dog, too. He will be ten January, 2017. So, the portrait is the birthday present for him!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

"Kisses" (oil on linen; 7" x 7") sold


"Kisses" is for Lauren, who commissioned the portrait for her friend. Kisses, the 10-year-old Bulldog, loves all food. More than once she's even swallowed a tennis ball whole! She loves to snuggle, as her name suggests.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

"Jelly" (oil on linen; 7" x 7") gift


"Jelly" is for Nicole Yates. I have been developing my Instragram account of pet portrait paintings. Nicole is the luck winner of the first pet portrait giveaway that I ran for fun in October and November. Congratulations! By the way, if you are on Instragram, please follow me @kimstenbergart for a daily dose of beautiful art and occasional pet portrait giveaways!

Jelly is a very energetic one-and-a-half-year-old Pembroke Welsh Corgi. Her nicknames are "Jelly Belly" and "Jelly Bean". She's a friendly puppy to everyone she meets and loves cuddling up with as many blankets and pillows as possible. She loves being the center of attention, running around the yard with her puppy friends, and finding any reason to be given a treat.

"Sophie" (oil on linen; 7" x 7") sold


"Sophie" is for Laurinda. Sophie, a Bichon Frise, passed away two years ago when she was 15. It was for the best though, as she had developed diabetes, was blind and nearly deaf. She was a trooper and didn't let it stop her from loving life (and food especially!). She was the best family dog we could have asked for--a true lap dog who loved her belly rubs. In the reference photo, one could tell she had cataracts, but I restored the youthful look for Sophie. She will be always remembered as an adorable puppy!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

"Paris Notre Dame Nocturne" (oil on stretched canvas; 12" x 16") sold


Paris at dusk is the most romantic place in the world, as the city turns into the city of light. Take a walk along the Seine River. The famed river looks like a moat guarding the equally famed Notre Dame in the Ile de la Cite. Ah, Paris!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

"Dublin Liffey Bridge Night" (oil on stretched canvas; 11" x 14")

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I painted another version of the charming, cast-iron Liffey Bridge of Dublin, Ireland. Also known as the Ha'penny Bridge, it is an iconic image of Dublin. The new painting, I think, is even more impressionistic and moodier. Which one do you like better?

"Dublin Liffey Bridge Nocturne" (oil on linen, 9" x 12"; sold)

"Merlin and Blarney" (oil on linen canvas; 12" x 12") sold


The double portrait is for Tania and based on a 17-year-old photo of a poor quality. I couldn't really see the black cat's features, so had to make up! Merlin (black) and Blarney (tuxedo) were brothers and were considered domestic long hair. The vet thought that they may have some Maine Coon in them, as they were big, playful and vocal cats. Blarney especially almost seemed dog-like with his affectionate personality, sleeping and drooling on your pillow, or joining you in the bath or the shower. Merlin was a little more reserved, but still affectionate. They were good brothers and used to sleep together and groom one another.

They were born under a friend's front porch on a farm, and Tania adopted both brothers. They were playful and funny. Merlin was a better hunter and would catch birds like robins, but brought them home still alive. Blarney was a little lazier, but wanted to hunt like his brother. His hunting, however, seemed focused on butterflies. He was so proud of his catch!

Tania still has Merlin, though he is 19 and recently had surgery to amputate most of his tail. She lost Blarney 10 years ago. I hope the double portrait brings back happy memories to Tania and her family.

Monday, November 21, 2016

"Carter and Daddy" (oil on stretched linen; 8" x 10") sold


"Carter and Daddy" is for Jessica.  Carter (yes it is a boy!) was two at his birthday party with the circus theme. I love the affectionate gaze of the father toward his son.

"Reilly" (oil on linen; 8" x 8") sold


Reilly is an 8-year-old Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier. He loves going on long walks to the park with his Dad, surprisingly adores his veterinarian and is obsessed with chasing balls and carrying around the largest stick he can find. While he is a very energetic 8 year old, he also enjoys spending Sunday's watching football on the couch with the family.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

"Mont St-Michel Dreams" (oil on stretched canvas; 18" x 24")

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The Mont St-Michel is one of Europe’s most unforgettable sights. The staggering location has long inspired awe and the imagination. Scamper, at low tide, across the treacherous mudflats in the Bay of Mont St-Michel in northwestern France. Head for a dramatic abbey reaching to heaven from a rock surrounded by a vast and muddy solitude.

The story of how the mount turned into a great place of Christian pilgrimage is colorful. Aubert, bishop of the nearby hilltop town of Avranches early in the 8th century, claimed that the Archangel Michael himself pressured him into having a church built atop the island just out to sea.

The dukes of Normandy, followed by French kings, supported the development of a major Benedictine abbey on the Mont St-Michel. Magnificent monastic buildings were added through medieval times. The abbey became a renowned centre of learning. Vast numbers of pilgrims visited, despite warring cross-Channel royals.

The sight of the distant silhouette of the Gothic island-abbey Mont St-Michel send tired sightseers spirits soaring today just as it did the spirits of weary pilgrims in centuries past.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

"Kelp Forest Wonders" (oil on stretched canvas; 22" x 28")

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The kelp forest is a forest, but not a forest of trees. It is a "forest" of seaweed called giant kelp. Giant kelp grows in cool coastal waters where sunlight can reach a rocky sea floor. From several images, I imagined the wonders of kelp forest, filled with life, including a sea lion, which almost looks like a mermaid. The bubbly sunlight filters down to the rock bed; giant kelp sways with the flow of ocean water; and colorful fish swim in groups. I want to swim with them.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

"Detail from Velazquez's 'Juan de Pareja'" (oil on linen; 12" x 9")

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In 1648, as court painter to Philip IV of Spain, Diego Velázquez was sent to Rome to purchase works of art. Velázquez brought with him Juan de Pareja, a slave, who served as an assistant in the artist's workshop. During his stay in Rome, Velázquez executed an oil portrait of Juan de Pareja.

Velázquez painted the portrait of Juan de Pareja, who was of Moorish descent, in his workshop, as an exercise in preparation for his official portrait of Pope Innocent X. The Pope, a ruddy-faced man who would be depicted in the bright pink and crimson robes of his office, presented a tricky study in both color and composition. Additionally, since he would be executing a portrait from life, Velázquez would be forced to work quickly while still capturing the essence of the pope's character.

The "Juan de Pareja" reflects Velázquez's exploration of the difficulties he would encounter in the Pope's portrait. To compensate for a restricted palette of colors, Velázquez adopted a loose, almost impressionistic style of brushwork to bring an intense vitality to his subject. Juan de Pareja (circa 1610 – 1670) became an artist in his own right, and in 1654 he was freed by Velázquez.

The Portrait of Juan de Pareja was purchased by the Metropolitan Museum in 1971. At the time, the purchase price of over $5.5 million set a new record for paintings at auction. (The above information is from Wikipedia.) The hefty price tag tends to blind the viewer's eyes from truly seeing the portrait. During the three-week-long study of its detail of head and shoulders, I was mesmerized by Velazquez's brushstrokes and his penetration of the subject's intelligence.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

"Lucky" (oil on stretched canvas; 14" x 11") sold

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"Lucky" is for Ali.  Lucky was a 'sheprador'--Lab and some sort of Shepherd.  He was Ali's mom's best friend.  They got him at a shelter when he was 5 and kept his name.  He had been returned there twice, and was a really sensitive guy.  He was amazingly well behaved, and loved his kitty friends he lived with--chased them, slept with them every day.  Ali's mom called him "McDreamy" because she thought he was the most handsome dog on the planet.  He loved snow and would roll and roll the second he got outside when Chicago got enough.  He died when he was 13.

Monday, October 3, 2016

"The Bennetts" (oil on stretched canvas; 20" x 16") gift


I have been working on this important double portrait for three months.  It has been an emotional experience as I was saying goodbye to both the former US Senator Bob Bennett and Mrs. Bennett, whom I have known for almost ten years.

Senator Bob passed away this spring after a valiant battle with pancreatic cancer.  Mrs. Bennett is moving back to Utah to be near her family.  The portrait is a farewell gift to express my deepest condolences and gratitude for her friendship and loving musical education for my only child.  Having lost her grandparents as a baby, my daughter became attached to Mrs. Bennett, not just as a flute teacher, but as a surrogate grandmother.  We will miss her very much.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

"Dark Kisses and Hugs Swirl" (oil on stretched linen; 10" x 10") sold


I am on a roll.  For the latest Hershey's Kisses painting, I went back to the violet glass tile for the ground.  Look at the confusing and marvelous reflections!  If you have seen the dark chocolate Kisses, you may realize their foils are actually violet, not magenta as in my rendition.  I had to push their color toward reds to have them stand out in the cool violet negative space.

Monday, September 26, 2016

"Dark Kisses and Hugs" (oil on stretched canvas; 8" x 10")

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I am becoming ambitious with my Kisses series.  This new painting is the largest so far, but I have bigger plans.  I've also added the stripy Hugs chocolate to the mix.  Now I can paint till the end of the world!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

"Dark Kisses" (oil on linen; 6" x 8")

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The annual small works show in November at the Art League Gallery in Alexandria, VA is coming up, and I couldn't think of a better subject than Hershey's Kisses.  This year I decided to paint them on a reflective surface (a mauve-colored glass tile used for architecture) for maximum challenge.  Think about it.  Kisses themselves are wrapped in a reflective foil and they are being reflected on the mirror-like surface.  I absolutely love the effect!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Friday, September 23, 2016

"Elizabeth at the Lake" (oil on linen; 11" x 14") sold


The boyfriend of Elizabeth commissioned me to paint this painting of a figure in landscape as her birthday gift.  The peaceful setting is Emerald Bay, near South Lake Tahoe, CA.  One thing the couple were not able to do for their idyllic vacation was bring her dog Slick, which she would have loved. Tommy asked me to paint Slick, an English springer spaniel, into the picture with her.  How can I say no to such a sweet request?

Sunday, September 18, 2016

"Sea Turtles and Corals" (oil on stretched canvas; 24" x 18")

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Green sea turtles and countless tropical fishes swim around a beautiful coral colony. Let's keep the oceans healthy for ever for the generations to enjoy the wonders of the ocean!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

"Winter Wonderland" (oil on stretched canvas; 24" x 30")

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I have been working on this painting for a few months.  It was initially a plain snowscape.  It was boring, so I decided to have fun by turning it into a zoological painting by adding the kinds of animals that are likely to appear in a suburban park.

After a light snowfall, the sun is out. So are the animals in the neighborhood. I see a white dog and her bouncy puppy, a red fox watching them, a stag and a young deer, a white rabbit and a brown one which must have spotted the fox, a robin and a great horned owl. I could have gone crazy by adding a coyote, more birds and dogs and deer, but my husband said there were already enough animals. Ha! 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

"Goosey Goosey Gander" (oil on stretched canvas; 20" x 16")

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Goosey goosey gander, Whither shall I wander? Upstairs and downstairs.... Well, this family of goose, gander, and goslings are swimming in a row in a pond. How many goslings do you see?

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

"Bouquet with Irises Nigella and Foxglove" (watercolor on paper; 10.5" x 10.5")

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Yellow, blue, and purple bearded irises, yellow Dutch iris, Nigella, and foxglove in a white porcelain vase with rose decorations are really the very best my garden can offer.  Yup, I have been holding out the best among my recent watercolors until the last!

Monday, September 12, 2016

"Tulip Love" (watercolor on paper; 6" x 8")

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My husband tried these adorable miniature scarlet tulips with yellow edges this spring.  We'll find out whether they come back next year.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Saturday, September 3, 2016

"Red and White House by the Sea" (oil on stretched canvas; 12" x 12")

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Build a red house with a tall chimney by the sea. Paint white stripes for fun. Kind of a grown-up fairy tale.  One wonders what goes on behind the dark door and windows.

Friday, September 2, 2016

"Detail from Vermeer's Girl with a Red Hat" (oil on linen; 10" x 8")

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The painting is the copy of a detail from "Girl with a Red Hat" (c. 1665–1666) by the Dutch Old Master Johannes Vermeer.  The original hangs in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.

"Girl with a Red Hat" is a rather small painting (9.1" × 7.1").  I was indeed shocked at the size when I first saw it at the NGA, even for Vermeer, whose masterpieces are known for their intimate scale.  My copy is of a slightly larger size, a tiny bit of the bottom cropped off, along with a simplified background, to make it a version of the original.  It is seen as one of a number of Vermeer's tronies – depictions of models fancifully dressed that were not intended to be portraits of specific, identifiable subjects.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

"Detail from Vermeer's 'Girl with a Pearl Earing'" (oil on linen; 10" x 8")

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The painting is the copy of a detail from "Girl with a Pearl Earing" (1665) by the Dutch Old Master Johannes Vermeer. The original hangs in the Mauritshuis in The Hague in the Netherlands.

The most beloved painting by Vermeer is a tronie, the Dutch 17th-century description of a 'head' that was not meant to be a portrait. It depicts a European girl wearing an exotic dress, an oriental turban, and an improbably large pearl earring.

In case you are wondering about these copies of masterpieces I have been posting lately, they are for my own pleasure and education. I carefully select my favorite paintings of Old and Modern masters and copy details from them as best as I can, observing the brushstrokes, color blending, facial modeling, and so on. I sometimes go to a museum if it is nearby to look at the originals for accurate coloring and take my own pictures. It has been highly educational and rewarding process so far, and I intend to do many more for the next few years. Perhaps trips to Amsterdam, London, Paris, Rome, New York, etc. are in order?

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

"Detail from Sargent's 'Lady Agnew'" (oil on linen; 12" x 9") sold


The painting is the copy of a detail from "Lady Agnew of Lochnaw" (1892) by the master portraitist John Singer Sargent. The original hangs in the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh.

Sargent's dazzling and unforgettable image of Lady Agnew is one of the most famous of his many portraits of fashionable London society. For both the artist and his sitter, the painting was an instant success, establishing Sargent's reputation as the portrait painter of choice for the London elite and immediately transforming the newly elevated Lady Agnew into a society celebrity.

Lady Agnew fixes the viewer with an intelligent, faintly amused gaze, but it is her elegant white silk dress and lilac sash that threaten to steal all our attention. Unfortunately, the sash didn't make into the small copy.

Sargent's image of Lady Agnew helped her to become a leading light in fashionable circles, holding lavish salons in her London home. Ironically, the high costs of this hospitality meant that she was eventually forced to sell some family pictures including this portrait which was purchased by the Scottish National Gallery in 1925.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

"Assategue Island Dusk" (mixed media on paper; 18" x 14") sold


A popular camping site along the mid-Atlantic coast, Assateague Island is also famous for its feral ponies.  I was aiming for the peace and solitude that can be found at dusk when the crowds are gone.  The painting is a mixed-media piece, with colored pencil and oil pastel on watercolor.  How do you like it?

Sunday, August 28, 2016

"Detail from Rembrandt's Self-Portrait" (oil on linen; 10" x 8")

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The painting is the copy of a detail from "Self-Portrait" by the Dutch Old Master Rembrandt van Rijn. The original hangs in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.

Rembrandt painted many self-portraits in his lifetime. He painted this self-portrait in 1659, after he had suffered financial failure despite so many years of success. His spacious house and other possessions had been auctioned the previous year to satisfy his creditors. In this late work, the deep-set eyes that bore into those of the viewer seem to express inner strength and dignity.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

"Peony, Nigella, and Foxglove" (watercolor on paper; 8" x 8")

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Pink peonies, nigella (love in a mist), and foxgloves--all from my cottage garden--make a lovely bouquet, don't you think?  Of course, these flowers are all gone; my garden looks dreadful these days, although a reblooming iris started blooming.  Apparently, it couldn't wait until the fall.  Neither can I!

These reblooming irises are more expressive than the regular ones, but you get to enjoy them twice a year!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

My New Watercolor Sketchbook (watercolor on paper; 9" x 9")

My new watercolor sketchbook

Here is my new homemade sketchbook.  It is made with Fabriano 140 lb hot press watercolor paper.  I cut the sheets into 9" × 9" squares, put my watercolor paintings as covers, had them bound at Staples.  I am now ready to go for splashing with watercolors!

I use 300 lb paper for my "serious" watercolor paintings.  Having paid top dollar for the paper, I tend to get cautious and play safe when I paint on it, whereas when I work in a sketchbook, I become experimental, loose, and playful.  So I decided to make a "serious" sketchbook with 140 lb paper so that I play around in it.  If something turns out great, I can tear the sheet off the binding, mat the painting and sell it.  Am I not ingenious, or what?

Monday, August 22, 2016

"Detail from Renoir's 'Two Sisters'" (oil on linen; 8" x 10") sold


The painting is the copy of a detail from "Two Sisters (On the Terrace)" (1881) by the French Impressionist master Pierre Auguste Renoir. The original hangs in the Art Institute of Chicago in Chicago.

Renoir worked on the painting on the terrace of the Maison Fournaise, a restaurant located on an island in the Seine in Chatou, the western suburb of Paris. The painting depicts a young woman and her younger sister seated outdoors with a small basket containing balls of wool. Over the railings of the terrace one can see shrubbery and foliage with the River Seine behind it.

A celebration of the beauty of spring and the promise of youth, "Two Sisters" is a technical and compositional tour de force , a virtuoso display of vibrant color and variegated brushwork. I focused on the older sister's (actually an 18-year-old model) beautiful face and her brilliant red hat.

Friday, August 19, 2016

"Detail from Titian's Ranuccio Farnese" (oil on gessoboard; 10" x 8")

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The painting is the copy of a detail from "Ranuccio Farnese" (1542) by the Italian Renaissance master Titian from Venice. The original hangs in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.  It has always been one of my favorite Old Masters' paintings, so when Danni Dawson gave us a grisaille/glazing assignment, I decided to make a copy of a detail from it.

This portrait of twelve-year-old Ranuccio was painted in Venice just after he had been made prior of San Giovanni dei Forlani, an important property belonging to the Knights of Malta. The grandson of Pope Paul III, Ranuccio was the youngest member of one of the wealthiest and most powerful families in Italy.

Ranuccio became cardinal of Santa Lucia in Sicily at the age of fifteen, and he was granted several bishoprics before his untimely death at the age of thirty-five. In this perceptive portrait, Titian brilliantly captures the image of a sensitive pubescent boy about to embark upon a very public life.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

"Serenity Reigns" (oil on stretched canvas; 22" x 28")

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I have been working on "Serenity Reigns" for almost ten years.  Its complicated, Frank Lloyd Wrightesque architecture; the confusion between the inside and outside images; and some one's casual remark that the painting was neither here nor there got in the way.  I finally worked out the design and other problems and was able to finish it yesterday.  I cannot be happier.

The painting depicts a Chinese wooden sculpture from around 1100, a part of the fabulous Chinese art collection at the Minneapolis Institute of Art.  The sculpture is not Buddha, but a bodhisattva, an enlightened being who has delayed entering paradise in order to help others attain enlightenment.  In China and Korea, Guanyin, his/her Chinese name, is widely worshipped as a “goddess of mercy and compassion". In popular folklore, reciting the bodhisattva’s name during disaster would bring relief. I grew up in a devout Buddhist family, so am quite familiar with Guanyin's importance and popularity in the Buddhist milieu.

Seated in the lotus position, this figure wears the silk garments and gold jewelry befitting a bodhisattva. The gesture of both hands turned up with thumbs touching the middle fingers is perhaps that of discourse or argumentation. Carved during the last creative epoch of Chinese Buddhist sculpture, it expresses the gentle, benign calm of near enlightenment. (The information was collected from the MIA's website.)

On a personal level, I achieved my own calm and near enlightenment as I was working on the painting in the past few days. Let go of anger, frustration, and other emotions that interfere with the inner peace.  Don't let others determine what you should paint as well!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

"Paris Bridge of Love" (oil on stretched canvas; 11" x 14") sold


June 1, 2015 was the day the love died. That day an estimated one million padlocks, dubbed “ love locks,” were removed from Paris’ famed Pont des Arts bridge—connecting the Louvre and the Institut de France across the Seine. Love locks may be gone, but the romance of Paris lives forever!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

"Summer Marina" (oil on stretched canvas; 12" x 16") sold

The original state

Lately I have been busy reworking old paintings, trusting that I have become better and can spot and improve troubled aspects of unsatisfactory paintings. "Summer Marina" is one such example.  I never liked the chalkiness of the background trees, although I was happy with the composition of the colorful boats and their sails all grouped together and sandwiched between the dark shapes of the trees and reflections.  So I tackled the background chalkiness and, at the same time, jazzed up the water and boats with dots.  How do you like the new and improved painting?

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

"SF Palace of Fine Arts" (oil on stretched canvas; 11" X 14")

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If you live in the the San Francisco Bay Area, you don't need the explanation for this painting. It depicts the Palace of Fine Arts on a fine day. In addition to hosting art exhibitions, it remains a popular attraction for tourists and locals and is a favorite location for weddings.

I had a lot of trouble painting "SF Palace of Fine Arts" so much so that it took several weeks to finish it.  It all had to do with the dumb idea of working with at least three photos: one for the colors of the main rotunda; the second for the colonnades; and the third for the lovely shadow shapes on the rotunda, and so on!  I was a nerve wreck.  Eventually, I redid the drawing and finished the painting based on one photo.  Aargh.  I hope it was worth all the trouble.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

"California Beach Kids" (oil on stretched canvas; 18" x 24")

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The family vacation to California back in 2007 concluded with a few days spent in San Francisco.  This trip led to so many paintings; "California Beach Kids" is the latest.  The setting is the beach at the Maritime National Historical Park, which includes a fleet of historic vessels, a visitor center, and a maritime museum.

After checking out the historic ships, we were people-watching.  Some brave souls swam in the cold water.  This group of kids, all decked in bandanas, were testing out how cold the Pacific Ocean water was.  A couple of boys were a bit more adventurous than the others. I hope you feel the fun atmosphere of the day.

Monday, July 25, 2016

"Parrot Talk" (watercolor on paper; 6" x 6") sold


A pair of parrots perched on a tree branch are talking to each other.  I wonder what they are gossiping about.  Or, is the one on the right (male?) asking the left one (female?) out on a date?

Sunday, July 24, 2016

"Mommy and Baby Great Pandas" (watercolor on paper; 6" x 6")

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Since I came back from the family road trip to the Midwest, I have been busy painting large landscapes to get ready for the Art League's annual landscape show in August.  They take days to finesse!  I sometimes take a break to splash water around doing small watercolors for fun.  "Mommy and Baby Great Pandas" is yesterday's output.  Isn't it an adorable piece?