Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Fall at Lamoreaux

Fall at Lamoreaux   10x14  oil on linen

Fall is such a stunning time of year.  As an artist I think fall paintings can be some of the hardest to portray successfully because all those colors in one painting can be jarring and hard to believe.  I tried to keep tones a bit muted while still trying to give the feeling of  that intensity.
Although fall for 2014 is behind us I needed some relief from the grey days Michigan has been getting.....I hope it brings a little pizazz to your day!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


Simpatico  16x20"  oil on linen

I find the balance of Nature is so reassuring.  I guess, the sense that everything has purpose and coexists in such wonderful harmony.  The elements of nature in this painting illustrate how beautiful that "wonderful harmony" can be....

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Quiet in the Foothills

Quiet in the Foothills   16x18  oil on linen

The day I took this photo Tom and I were hiking in the foothills in Colorado.  It had been raining for days and the weather was just starting to let up.  It felt very peaceful there in the wilderness, as if everything had hunkered down for the rain to end.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Oriental Lilies

Oriental Lilies     17x30"  oil on linen

The beautiful oriental lilies are such a delightful flower.  They are delicate appearing but quite hardy and will last a long time as a cut flower.  That makes them especially useful in a larger still life painting.  As an added bonus they smell spectacular and fill the room with their  wonderful perfume, (strong enough to even mask the odor of mineral spirits!)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Softly Spectacular

Softly Spectacular   12x24  oil on linen

The days have been gray here in Michigan.  The snow was pretty but then it all melted.  It snowed again but, not so much, not so pretty.  Painting flowers helps me through the gray.
Two days to Thanksgiving.....wishing you all a very Happy Thanksgiving, full of family, friends and good reason to be thankful....I know I am blessed and so very fortunate.
Go ahead..eat too much and give a little love to everyone you see.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Dancing Mum's

Dancing Mum's   16x20  oil on linen

My technique is a cross between realism and abstraction.  Sometimes it is more like a battle than a creation.  Or perhaps the battle is necessary to bring about the creation? 
 I like enough abstraction to lend interest and a bit of mystery to a painting, but I still want enough realism to describe my subject.  Some paintings seem to just paint themselves and others are just that battle between too much description..... too little description..back and forth.  I paint it, I wipe it out.  I add detail, I take the detail away.  I want you, the viewer, to "feel" the painting, not simply see it.  It must be charged with energy and alive with texture and color. 
This painting was like WWIII for me!  It started out pretty traditional and I hated it!!  Yep..hated.  So I wiped out objects, erased detail and started abstracting.  Now, I am very happy with the energy and the textures.  
Do you feel the energy when you look at it?  I hope so

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Cedar Waxwings

Cedar Waxwings  18x24  oil on linen

These are such beautiful birds.  They are so smooth and sleek it is hard to see that they have feathers.  I found it very challenging to get them right.  Their colors are difficult and while I wanted them to have that smoothness that makes them so special I also needed to represent the feathers or they wouldn't look like birds!  It was fun...I still need some practice with bird painting but I'm not unhappy with the way this one turned out.
Thank you for viewing my art!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

White Pitcher with Yellow Roses

White Pitcher with Yellow Roses     16x20  oil on linen

This painting is headed for Eisele Gallery next week.  I needed to make a couple of compositional adjustments but now I feel it is ready to go back in it's frame.  If you are near Cincinnati check out the Gallery!
Fall is upon us and in Michigan that usually means very little sunshine.  Never the less, I do love the cool fall days and the sense of preparing for the winter.  It makes me think of hot chocolate and fires in the fireplace.  Time to haul out the sweaters and snuggle under some blankets.  In place of sunshine I like to paint bright colorful flowers! 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Fall's Chorus Line

Fall's Chorus Line    oil on linen 16x30

Hello Everyone and welcome to Fall!
The year has gone by so quickly, fall is almost over and I'm just acknowledging that it is here!  It has been a busy time.  I am thrilled to announce a new gallery is now representing my work.  Eisele Gallery is a lovely gallery in Cincinnati and the owners Douglas and Terry Rye Eisele are super people! Check out their Gallery, you won't be disappointed. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Autumn Sunshine

Autumn Sunshine  18x24  oil on linen

Workshops, business stuff, and working on completing some unfinished work has kept me busy the last several weeks.  Today I just did a new piece and it felt so good!  
These mums are the most beautiful mums.  They may not be as stunning as some but they are so hardy, they smell great, they multiply easily, and this time of year with all the cloudy days they truly do feel like sunshine!
So here's wishing you a "little sunshine" in your day!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Copper and Brass Pot

Copper and Brass Pot  12x16 oil on linen

I had the privilege to take a 3 day workshop with Elizabeth Robbins a couple of weekends ago.  I have had so much "business" work to do that I haven't had time to post about it.  So finally today I am sharing some things about the workshop and about the paintings I did!
"Copper and Brass Pot" was the set up I chose on the first afternoon of the workshop.  Elizabeth had done a beautiful demo in the morning and then gave us free rein to paint what we wanted.  
The focus on this study was getting strong values.  Although Elizabeth and I have quite different approaches to painting the still life it is always fun and informative to watch someone with Elizabeth's experience explain how she addresses a canvas.  While I did find that some things about our styles and/or preferred materials are very different, I also found that many things were pretty similar.  To me a strong instructor is able to illustrate their technique without hindering each individual from applying it to their own style.  Elizabeth does that so well.  I was surprised (not having worked with her before this) to discover that she is also very versatile in her own techniques and was able and willing to demonstrate more than one approach to a painting!
In the 3 day workshop I mostly completed 3 paintings.  I say mostly because I feel all 3 still needed some adjustments but, I was pretty satisfied with what I accomplished in a workshop setting.  I will try to post the other paintings as they get tweaked and are ready for "unveiling" lol..

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Hydrangeas and Pears

Hydrangeas and Pears    16x40   oil on canvas

This was a bit different for me....it was painted over a dark underpainting and built up.  I used more scumbling technique and less of the transparent colors that I normally work with.   Because of the dark underpainting the transparencies would not have worked the way I use them.  I needed the opacity to cover what was underneath.  
I posted a version earlier but decided it still needed some work.  It felt too dark and like the two halves weren't connected.  I added more lighter scumbling throughout and created a better "bridge" between the right and left side.  Because it is such a long and narrow canvas it needs a strong path to lead the eye all the way across that expanse and back again.  It has been a challenge...but fun!

Photographing this painting was almost as challenging!  Being rather large and with so much dark, it was difficult getting accurate color and detail without getting glare.  I think this version is pretty close (at least on my computer screen).

The second day into this painting I discovered that I had brought a stow away in on the flowers.  I'm not particularly fond of spiders, but I felt guilty because, here he was just minding his own business out-of-doors and suddenly his world is shaken and he is dumped somewhere he had no intention of going.  Hmmm...I let him be trying to decide what to do with him and the next morning (much to my dismay), he had disappeared.  The only thing worse than finding a spider in the house, is finding a spider in the house and then losing it!  I'll be feeling things crawling up my leg for days! lol

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Dragonfly

The Dragonfly  14x18 oil on linen

I have been having some fun adding the element of "little critters" to my recent paintings.  I've added a hummingbird to one, some butterflies to another and now a dragonfly...  It is like bringing a bit more of nature into the mix.  I really like it and will continue to work more on this path. 
 I know I'm a bit inexperienced at painting these things but I hope it will get a bit easier as I continue to do more of it. 
I hope you like the inclusion of these little bits of life!

While researching the dragonfly I learned some very interesting facts about them....did you know a Dragonfly can fly up to 35 mph?  They can hover for up to a minute and fly in any direction including backwards?  The government is studying the dragonfly because they believe them to be the best example for creating a flying drone!  Oh, and they also eat mosquitos!!  Certainly a creature worth admiring!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Spilling Strawberries -The process steps

Spilling Strawberries   16x20  oil on linen

This composition is loosely based on a painting I have admired.  I rarely use another artists work for my concept but this is one I've wanted to do for a long time.  The artist of the painting I gained inspiration from is Clara Von Sievers.  My interpretation is quite different but, the greatest similarity is the flow of the flowers and spilling fruit.
"Clara Von Sievers,  Cherries"

I took some progress shots as I was working on this and I know some of you have asked to see the steps.  I might have gotten lost in the work and forgotten to take some photos toward the end stages :(  oops....but I'll share what I have! 
 Hope you enjoy them!!

Let's start first with the set up.  It is important to get your set up as close to your "vision" as you can.  With something as unruly as flowers can be, it may be impossible to get them all turned in just the right direction, just the right placement...etc.  AND they like to move around after you start painting anyway!
However, the better my set up the less "thinking" I will have to do once I actually start painting.  That being said, once I start painting I will make whatever adjustments I feel I must to create the right flow, design, and harmony.  Your painting is what matters, not the group of objects sitting on the table.  The more you paint, the better you will get at creating the set up and the better you will get at "winging it", when the set up isn't working quite right in your painting.  The visual aid of your set up is just as important as working from life in the landscape, so do spend some time in trying to get it what you want from the start.

Step 1
I do not approach any two paintings in exactly the same way although there are certain things that I will always try to get down as soon as I can.  The most important thing to me in this painting was the wonderful "flow" of the design.  I wanted movement.  So I started with a gestural sketch using thinned ultramarine blue and transparent oxide red, getting the placement of my objects, but more importantly, establishing the movement of my eye throughout the canvas.  I also established where my darkest values would be and worked to create a path that I could follow through and around the painting.

Step 2
In this second stage I have started introducing my colors.  I like to create a level of value study with my colors, typically working dark to light.....I will wipe out areas of paint to lighten my value and leave the areas where I want my purest color with the white of the linen.  Because I work a lot with transparent pigments, the brightness of the linen is critical to getting the clean intense colors at my focal point.  I use very little (maybe none) white at this point because that adds opacity and immediately starts to dull the intensity of the pure pigment.  I want these transparent background and shadow areas to show interest and depth...I don't want them to appear flat or dull.

Step 3
I continue to build my color...going somewhat from background and moving forward.  I still work the same technique as in step 2 but I have started pushing the brighter colors and lighter values of my foreground and point of interest.  As I start to model and shape the flowers and objects I gradually introduce some more opaque pigments as well as adding white to create opacity in lighter areas.  While the painting is a long way from finished at this point the process is really just a continuation of more of the same.  Adding opaque passages, wiping away areas of transparency.  Keeping control of my values, and my intensity of color.  Those are the greatest tools you have in your pocket to create depth and interest in your painting.  Practice them...push them.  

I wish I had a step 4.  I would like to spend a little more time showing the build up in the opaque areas....alas, not this time as the camera was forgotten and the painting became my reality for a while....:)  
Hope you enjoyed this and I hope that it may have given you some instruction that you can use!
Happy painting!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Rose of Sharon

Rose of Sharon   12x24"  oil on linen

Who knew the Rose of Sharon flower was shy about being painted?  I hardly was an hour into the painting when all the blossoms started closing up!!  So while I did work from life, I had no choice but to use my experience with flower painting to complete this painting.  Working from memory and knowledge.  It was more challenging than I had planned when I picked the flowers this morning!  Oh well, chalk up another learning experience!
I hadn't painted grapes in a while..that was fun. 
I used a bit of painting knife toward the end to create some texture.

Thanks for stopping by to visit my blog!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Irises and Nectarines

Irises and Nectarines  18x24  oil on linen

These huge magenta purple irises deserve to be expressed with drama and impact!  They are stars...no quiet little wallflowers here.  The orangish/peach shade of the nectarines juxtaposed next to the magenta sings with impact.  This whole painting is bold from the color palette, to the strong brushwork, to the activated composition.  But, then sitting quietly just a bit back of the flowers is that surprising little creamer...delicate and subdued.  
I feel that it is a dynamic painting but then I love the irises and I love the color purple.  I guess I might be a little biased.   :)
Hope you enjoy it!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Star Gazers

Star Gazers  8x12  oil on linen en plein air

This is another plein air painting from this past saturday's wet paint event in Douglas.  This was such a treat to paint because while I was standing at my easel the wonderful scent of these beautiful lilies was filling the air.  It was early in the morning.  The dew was still on the grass, I had my cup of coffee and the robins were searching for breakfast all around me.  How delightful!
I love the way these lilies arch so gracefully and their stamens reach for the ground or sometimes look like they want to find the sun, curving up so delicately!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Potted Geraniums

Potted Geraniums
Potted Geraniums   9x12  oil on linen en plein air

What a beautiful day it was to be outdoors!  Yesterday was a Wet paint event in Douglas, Mi.  Artists came out to paint the local sites and then in the evening the public was invited to come in and purchase the wet paintings.  It was a picture perfect day and great fun!  Here is one of the three I did for the day.
Thanks for visiting my blog!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Trumpets and Hummers

Trumpets and Hummers  oil on linen   14x24

I love birds and have been wanting to put one in my still life for a long time.  I just never seemed to do it.  Today I did!  Hummingbirds are the sweetest little things, but they are territorial and can be quite aggressive.  Spunky little critters.  :)
I had so much fun painting this painting.  I hope you enjoy it!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

A Favorite Pitcher

A Favorite Pitcher
 A Favorite Pitcher 18x22  oil on linen

I tried a little different color palette with this one.  I usually use Ultramarine blue and transparent oxide red to create my "blacks", but I wanted to get away from the reddish hue with this painting so I used Pthalo Green and Alizarin Crimson with a touch of Transparent red for the darks.  It was a nice color for the darks but I need to get a green that isn't quite so intense.  Once you start laying down the Pthalo it doesn't take much for everything in the canvas to start becoming contaminated with the color.  A little more experimentation is in order!  Well, there's my excuse for doing another painting!  :)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Phlox Bouquet

Phlox Bouquet   18x26"  oil on linen
I've had many of you ask for a record of a work in progress so today I took several shots at different stages of this painting.....I hope you enjoy seeing the steps!  :)

  1. The Block in....I do not always use exactly the same approach for every painting but on this one I decided to block it in using vine charcoal.  It gives me a little more control over the composition and drawing before I begin laying on the paint. 

2. Laying in some of the background areas and masses of darkest value. 

3.  Continuing the block in with some color of the objects working from the darks and working with transparent colors to keep shadow areas "full of subtle variety".

4.  Starting to create volume in the forms by adding middle value and beginning to layer with more opaque color.

5.  Most of the canvas is covered now.  I have to start making judgements on where to soften and where to add more detail.  Sharp edges, soft edges.  Looking for the areas of detail that will lead the viewer's eye where I want them to go.   

6.  Here you see as the details are being played with.  I like to give enough information to describe the flowers, but not too much or the painting loses its vibrancy. It is a continual add and subtract, harden and soften process until I feel satisfied with what the painting has said.

Hope you find this interesting and perhaps educational.  No two paintings require exactly the same steps.....each painting needs to be looked at as it's own individual work.  You must allow yourself the freedom to let instinct flow.  Listen to that inner voice, and don't be afraid to be bold!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Apricot Daylilies

Apricot Daylilies
18x24  oil on linen
I blocked this one in using the negative space around the objects.  By doing this I helped to avoid that idea we have in our minds eye about how a flower is supposed to look.  Instead I closely watched the shapes and created much more interesting flowers.  This set up was predominately dark so I also found that I could cover most of the canvas by blocking in the larger masses and leaving the lighter objects for later in the process.
I really loved the flowing composition and wanted to keep the brushwork loose to keep that sense of casualness.  Like the flowers were just kind of falling all over the place in a sort of "controlled" abandon!
  Thanks for taking time to view my painting!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Red Velvet Lily

Red Velvet Lilly   16x20  oil on linen

Besides being beautiful these lilies also smell incredible!  Every year when they are in bloom the entire side yard smells of it's wonderful perfume!  Wish I knew how to capture THAT in a painting.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

News From Barbara

Keeping in Touch........
Well, apparently we have survived the winter of '14! ( Does anyone in Michigan still have snow in their backyard??)  :D :D

I do hope this note finds you all in good health and prospering!

It's been a very busy Spring for me and I wanted to share some of the highlights with my dear friends and family : 
I have been very privileged to have been invited to several competitive events and shows this Spring!  It is such an honor to receive recognition from your peers and to have your work hanging next to such talented artists.  I am humbled to say the least!
The Sailboat Platter  20x24
Astromelia Phlox 24x20
Spring's First Irises  16x20

In February I was accepted to two National events hosted by
Jack Richeson Gallery
Three of my paintings were published in the 
"Still life and Floral 2014" catalog.
While, Fall's Fire and Grand Hydrangreas 
traveled to Wisconsin to hang in the "Small Works Show"
Fall's Fire  12x12
Grand Hydrangeas  11x14
March brought some very exciting news when "Bucket of Sun" was included in the article "Painting Flowers & Gardens From Life", in "Plein Air" Magazine!
Bucket of Sun  11x14
NOAPS featured "Daffodils at Tea", in their March blog...I think everyone was ready for flowers after the long winter!!

April I was invited to show with 6 very talented women artists at the ICCF Spring Floral Show.  It was a wonderful show and there was an interesting panel discussion with the artists to give the public some insights into the varying perspectives of different artists!

May and June seem to usher in the majority of the local and regional competitive events in West Michigan. I was so fortunate to be accepted to show in a few of them! There are so many exceptional artists that participate in these events. It is a great opportunity to share your work to the public and so much fun to "hit" the scene with all the receptions and gala events!
Geisha Roses  19x25
Awarded "The Vie da la Rose Flower Essences Award for Excellence in Floral  Depiction"
Festival of the Arts
  1. 86th Regional............  Muskegon Museum of Art
  2. West Michigan Area....Kalamazoo Institute of Arts
  3. Festival........................Grand Rapids Festival of the Arts

While each and every one of these events have been a sincere pleasure and honor .....the one event that for me has been the greatest personal achievement is the recent acceptance to 
Oil Painters of America
Regional Show in Cincinnati, OH
This is one of those "bucket list" opportunities!  :)
I am so excited about this event!!
Big Yellow  12x18
Big Yellow will be heading to Eisele Gallery for the September show
oil painters of america

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Adding depth to a painting

Strengthen a painting and add depth

After evaluating this painting of Peonies I realized that I could improve the depth and composition.
  My focal point was too vague and my light source needed some "boosting". 
 I defined my focal point better by added a bit more detail and creating some brighter highlights.  I also felt the two flowers on the center left were creating too much of a bullseye effect because the perspective was too direct on with them.  I shifted the flowers so they were "leaning" and the eye of the flowers were no longer staring at you.  I also strengthened the composition by adding stronger value shifts between my highlights and my shadows, providing the viewer with a clearer path to follow through the painting and also creating better depth.  I thought you might enjoy the seeing the adjustments!  

Look at the difference a few minor strokes of the brush can make!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Peonies In Blue and White Vase

Peonies in Blue and White Vase   0il on linen  18x24

I just love peonies!  I didn't have enough left on my own plants to make the lush arrangement that I was wanting so I took a chance and headed to the local Farmers Market.  There is a gentleman there each year that brings buckets full of the most gorgeous cut peonies so I hoped I would find him there.  The weather was very windy and looking like a big storm could roll in at any minute..I thought my chances not too good at finding anyone at the market, but I had to try.  Could not believe my good fortune!  There were only 3 vendors and the guy with the peonies wasn't one of them...but sitting in the back of a truck was one bucket filled with peonies!!
Please, enjoy!!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Irises and Nectarines

Irises and Nectarines

Irises and Nectarines   oil on linen 18x24

So many beautiful flowers in the gardens now.  Irises are one of my favorites and I have many varieties.  This one is so striking!  The blooms are huge, and the color is unreal.  So this is what I chose. Although the peonies are in bloom too...decisions, decisions.  Hopefully the peonies will still be blooming by the next opportunity I get to paint!
Tom calls these my "ferrari" of flowers because they are the top of the line! (smile)
Please, enjoy!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Birch Tree Trail

Birch Tree Trail
Birch Tree Trail   oil on linen  16x25

This lovely little trail is just north of Traverse City, Michigan.  It was such a lovely day and we hiked for several miles with our dogs.  Birch Trees are so great to paint.  They have such nice contrasts with the dark canopy of the surrounding woods.
I hope you enjoy!  Thank you for viewing my art.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

White Pine Creek

White Pine Creek  oil on linen    16x18

Took a break from the still life painting this week and decided to do a landscape.  It has been a while.  I found it a little frustrating simply because I am so out of practice.  Just knowing how to create the results you want can make quite a difference between still life and landscape.  I'm glad I did it though.  Now I have the urge to do some more!

Thanks for visiting my blog!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Marsh Marigolds

Marsh Marigolds  11x12  oil on linen

Marsh Marigolds are one of my favorite wildflowers.  They come early and the colors are so intense they almost seem to require sunglasses to look at!  They grow in marshy areas which have always been one of my favorites.  I love the lush growth and underlying life that resides in these fertile wetlands.  The Marsh Marigolds don't last very long so you just have to appreciate them while you can!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Daffodil Bouquet

Daffodil Bouquet
oil on linen     14x17

Finally some Spring flowers in my gardens!  It is such a late season this year in Michigan.  Oddly how quickly we can adjust....winter already seems like a distant (thankfully!) memory.  
The looseness in this painting seemed appropriate with the carefree demeanor of these joyful Spring flowers.