Sunday, November 1, 2015

Fall Sepia Oil Sketch Sale and How To Paint Your Own

Fall Sepia Oil Sketch Sale
$275 Framed - Free Shipping in the US, $20 international shipping. Sales tax applies in AL, USA - email me at for arrangements.
Add One to Your Collection!
Art Lesson Du Jour : (or how'd she do that?)
The method I've used in these little life-studies has more in common with sculpture or watercolor than with more traditional methods of oil painting. 
Here's why: I first block in the general shape of the figure in a fairly solid area of paint. I imagine it as a big chunk of marble. I'm looking for a pleasing composition and the correct general proportions of the figure. 
Kelsey on Tuesday, 14x11, oil on linen over panel
I then use a piece of soft T-shirt fabric to rub out the light areas, leaving the dark. It's this reductive method that is much like a sculpture carved from a block of stone, where bits of clay are chipped off, rather than an additive method where pieces of paint, or clay in sculpture, are added to the artwork to build up the form.

Anders on Tuesday, 14x11, oil on panel
The white of the canvas is utilized for the lighter values, rather than adding white to make the paint lighter. In that respect, this method is similar to watercolor where the white of the paper is reserved for lighter areas. Mid-tones are built by allowing more or less of the white of the canvas to shine through the paint. For that reason, I would only use a transparent or semi-transparent paint to do a rub-out. 

Claire Sits 14x11, oil on panel
Toward the end of the painting, I will add a few strokes of thinker paint for darker accents but only use the one color, burnt umber. At this point, I could add full color but I think these sepia studies are beautiful and sometimes choose to leave them as they are.

I've been practicing these little sketches for years at a weekly life drawing group. They're so much fun, and I find they are great exercises for understanding the human form and values. I then apply that knowledge in my studio work, which also starts out with a burnt umber rub-out underpainting. So artist friends give this watercolor/sculpture painting method a try! 
The studies are framed in a wood frame painted in an espresso color.
If you're an artist in Birmingham, AL, consider joining us on Tuesday nights at Forstall Art Center, 6-9 pm for X's 8, ( pronounced Times 8) nude life drawing group. $10 per session or $35 for the month. 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

How to Self-Critique Your Art

Art Lesson Du Jour
Spend Less Time on the Ropes to Make Better Work
(dedicated to my champion students)

Fact: It's a simple truth that every painting and drawing are a series of corrections. 

When taking a jab at art, each mark is our best guess in relationship to the other marks we've made. It's the best mark we can make right then, at that moment in time. We make it knowing full well that it is likely to change, and that's ok. Later in the process we will know better. 

Problem: Panic, strong emotions, and harsh self-criticism will defeat the creative process. 

I often see students in a knock-down, drag-out with themselves when things aren't going well in a drawing or painting. Their critique of the work becomes a criticism of self. It's easy to allow the critical voices of one's insecurities or the nasty voices of others into your head. I've been there and done that as well. Trust me, when you let those guys talk, no constructive critique is going on! 

When I see my students hitting below the belt I say, "Hey, don't talk to my student that way," "Would I say that to you?" or "Would you say that to anyone else in your life?" Of course the answer is always "No!"

Panic too can creep in during frustrating moments. We live a fast paced life with instant gratification and the sheer time required to look and see properly can make an artist feel panic. The brain is constantly yelling, "This is taking too long." We feel certain that everyone else is figuring this stuff out with more agility and speed than we are.

All this self-doubt and emotional thinking clog up the creative process, so that's why it's important to have a strategy in place. 

Your brain without a plan.
Solutions: Click READ MORE  below for answers. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

"Celebrating Art Of Women By Women" In Nashville, TN

I'm so pleased to have work in this show at Haynes Galleries, in Nashville, TN. What an honor to be showing with so many artists I admire!

You may see this stellar show through Nov 7, 2015.

Here are a few of my pieces in the show.

Laissez les Bons Temps Rouler, 30x24, oil on canvas

It’s a Man’s World, 20x16, oil on canvas

The Torch Singer, The Incognito Project, 16x16, oil on panel

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Life and Afterlife in a Cubicle

I had the pleasure of collaborating on a project with my husband, Daniel M. Strickland. His debut novel, Synergeist, has launched! My part in the collaboration process was the painting for the cover and having the privilege of being an early reader.

One challenge to painting a cover for the book was to try to capture the idea that energy is created when someone makes something. The art created continues to hold some energy after the artist has moved on.

As someone who has cried while standing in front of a five hundred year old painting, been moved to tears in a centuries old church, felt energized by words written by an author long dead and gotten shivers from music, this concept makes sense to me.

As is always the challenge, how does one capture the visceral with these meager visual tools? It sparked many interesting conversations around the dinner table about what something so etheral should look like.

Synergeist, 20x16, oil on panel, 2015 
Click below to see more painting details and info about the book.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Alla Prima Still Life Painting Sale

Add one to your collection

Rare Oil Sketches SALE- $125 Free shipping (in the continental US, Birmingham, AL area local pick-up or delivery, unframed. Sales tax applies in AL, USA)

email me at for arrangements.

Berries With the Red Striped Bowl, 6x8, oil sketch SOLD

This following quote is apropos for a post about Alla Prima painting, which is Italian for "at the first." 

“...she took her hand and raised her brush. For a moment, it stayed trembling in a painful but exciting ecstasy in the air. Where to begin?--that was the question, at what point to make the first mark? One line placed on the canvas committed her to innumerable risks, to frequent and irrevocable decisions--- Still the risk must run; the mark made.” 
                                                  ― Virginia Woolf, from To the Lighthouse

Lenten Roses in a Tiny Green Vase, 6x8, oil sketch SOLD

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Alla Prima Still Life Workshop

I'm teaching a workshop Saturday, June 13, 2015 at Shelby County Arts Council in Columbiana Alabama. All skill levels are welcome. The workshop is almost full - just a couple spots left. You may register HERE. 

Alla Prima, quick sketch paintings done in a single session, is an art form unto itself. Here's a sneak peek at some in-progress pictures of the type of small,  jewel like paintings we'll be doing.
Basic block-in
See more pictures and information below the break.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Etiquette for Artists and Their Nude Models

I've been asked recently for some guidelines for appropriate artist's behavior when working with models in a life drawing group. This is what I came up with.

Rules for Artists:

1. DO NOT touch the model, NO exceptions. No touching is a cardinal rule, not to be broken, ever. This rule also applies to artists when working with models privately for life drawing or photography sessions.

2. DO NOT photograph the model and do not ask the model if you can take a picture. A model may feel obligated to say yes because you are paying them, so it's best to not even ask. Make a separate appointment for photography because when an artist's model does photographic modeling, they make at least two to four times as much per hour as live models. Photographers/artists should have a model release specifically stating the intended use of the photographs.

3. DO NOT chat with the model when he/she is modeling. Conversation is distracting for the model and your fellow artists.

4. DO NOT make comments about the model's body.

5. DO NOT invade the model's personal space.  This includes sitting on the model stand any time the model is on it, five feet away is a good starting point.

6. DO NOT ask the model personal questions such as their last name, where they live, etc.

7. DO NOT ask the model out on a date.

8. DO NOT remove your clothes when the model does. I bring this up because it happened in one of my drawing classes when I was a college student.

9. DO NOT allow non-artists to wander through the room. 


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