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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Styrofoam daisies and twin portraits.

While we were visiting my family on spring break, I took a few photos of gifts that I have painted in the past year.  This is my niece, it was intended as a present for my brother, but somehow my mom "forgot" to pass it on to him!  These photos have a bit of glare on them that I didn't notice when I took them.  The paintings are too far away to take more photos now, but I'll try to replace these with better images when I can.

The painting is part of a diptych of the twins.  Each painting is 8x10 inches.

Here is a quick portrait of the twins reading with Grandpa:

And finally, this is a painting that I did when I was about 10 years old.  My teacher had me cut up and paint Styrofoam meat trays to make the daisies!  I really like this one, even today!

Grandma's mountain

My grandmother, Carrie Vanderbilt Hoover, started painting late in life, after she retired as a registered nurse.  She passed away at the age of 94 after spending many years quilting and painting.  This is an oil painting on melamine, hanging on the wall at my mother's house.  I think it is just gorgeous with the vibrant colors.  It was painted sometime in the early 1980s or late 1970s.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

More example paintings

Here are some more paintings that I am making as examples for classes.  I made these before I started party-planning last week for the big cake decorating party, you can read about it here.

My rules for painting these were once again pretty strict:  the paintings had to be straight forward, not too much mixing of colors, and paintable with only 2-3 brushes.  Also, in order for students to complete the painting within a couple of hours, there can't be too much drying time necessary, and I restricted myself to about 45 minutes per painting.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Getting ready to paint with kids (or their parents!)

 I've had a lot of requests for the kids in the neighborhood to come over and paint, which is really fun when I have the time.  The problem is that when everyone has their own painting to work on, it gets extremely labor-intensive for me, and a little chaotic.  I've been reluctant to do these sessions this winter, but it really is kind of fun to paint with the kids, they are so enthusiastic!  So for the last couple of days I've been working on some small sample canvases that I could use for kids to paint from.  Wouldn't this make a great Ladies' night out, too?!

My rules for painting these were pretty strict:  the paintings had to be straight forward, not too much mixing of colors, and paintable with only 2-3 brushes.  Also, in order for students to complete the painting within a couple of hours, there can't be too much drying time necessary, and I restricted myself to about 45 minutes per painting.  I'm really excited about the paintings from my long session!

I used acrylic paint and a stack of canvas boards that really have no other purpose in life...they are all 9x12 inches, and the stores seem to not carry this size of open back frame!  Right now I have a stack of my own kids' paintings that size that need a frame, and a lot of molding that I need to cut and glue to make them.  

This is still a work in progress, I'd like to have at least 15-20 samples representing a broad range of difficulties and subject matter.  This way I could easily offer a set rate per painting, and have everyone in the group do the same painting.  And keep my sanity.  (maybe!)
The never-ending snow...


The Swallowtail Butterfly

Midnight cherries

Technicolor butterfly

Wild Cherries!

Sunset at the Summer Cottage

Sunset at my Uncle's Summer Cottage
This painting is by my first-grader, almost 7 year-old.  He wanted to paint something meaningful, and this is probably his all-time favorite place to be.  He painted this from a photo we took last time we were in Finland.  I love his finger-paint clouds and glaze on the water!  He also did a great job with the dock's shadow.  He likes to go sit on this dock, and play with all the frogs in the grass nearby.  The water around the dock is shallow, sandy, and full of oyster shells.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Finland has the most incredible sunsets.

Baltic at Night, 11x14 in. on stretched canvas
Finland has amazing sunsets.  The Baltic on the west coast and the wide open skies create perfect conditions to enjoy the spectacular show.  The sunsets last so long at Northern latitudes, in summer the sun follows the horizon most of the day and night.  In the midwest where we live now, the sun blazes down in summer, from straight overhead, making it something to be avoided.  But in Finland the sun comes at a welcome angle from near the horizon in summer, perfect landscape lighting!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The weight of snow on the redbud tree

The weight of snow on the redbud tree, 11x14 inches acrylic on stretched canvas

Like I've said before, I don't generally paint snow.  When I was a kid, I enjoyed painting pretty little scenes of animals and cheerful snow with beautiful pastel blue highlights, but that was back when I didn't have to spend days cleaning it and driving through it, or worrying about my family trying to get home.  Funny how growing up changes your perspective so much.  Today is actually a bright, sunny day, with sunbeams radiating off of the close to three feet of snow on the ground.  Only about half an inch fell last night, just enough to make everything clean and crisp.  I sat down to paint a joyous tribute to the beautiful winter landscape, but quickly decided to finish another blizzard painting that I started during last week's blizzard.  Then I found this photo of our redbud tree that I took two nights ago with the intention of painting.  Something about the desolate beauty of this twisted tree struck me.  It was glowing in the light from the house, and the reflected light from the snow.  I have no idea how to capture this glow and majesty with my camera, it seemed whatever settings I used, the camera just couldn't capture what I saw and felt staring at this cold tree.  I snapped a few mediocre photos and tried to remember the rest of its desolate beauty.

The Icy Road, 16x20 inches acrylic on stretched canvas

The Crane

This is a painting from a photo from my father-in-law of a familiar field in Finland.  After the crane landed, according to the back of the old photo, there were two family births.  The strong lines of this painting really appeal to me, it is one of my favorites.  16x20 inches on stretched canvas.

Another version of the blizzard

My daughter was inspired to make her own version of "The Blizzard" on an 8x10 stretched canvas.  She did a beautiful job, so cheerful for such a gloomy subject!  She learned a lot about painting trees and lighting.  I barely get to see her work until it is finished or she needs to know how to do something.  She is so independent (and maybe a little stubborn), but she learns best by watching and experimenting.  Not a bad way for a girl to be!

I'm not sure what she titled this next one, she painted it last year while looking at a book of Thomas Kinkaid paintings.  It is 16x20 inches on stretched canvas.  I love her color mixing and depth in this one!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Blizzard

With most of the country in blizzard conditions today, what better subject to paint?  This is the Linden tree in our yard in the blowing snow.  It feels like the world outside is turning into a giant snow globe right now, with snow blowing sideways.  Tonight we are supposed to have "thunder snow."  Don't think I've ever heard thunder while it is snowing before.  I painted this while waiting for the kids to come home from school on their buses, I think a bit of my worry crept in.  Not necessarily a day I want to remember, but I love this painting!  This acrylic painting is 16x20 inches on stretched canvas.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


This is a painting from around Halloween.  Thus the "welcome" sign on a gateless fence...

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Path not Taken

Today, we are enveloped in a snow storm, so I'm posting this painting from more pleasant weather as a distraction.  Enjoy!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Newborn

This is a sweet little 8x10 on canvas board that I painted from a friend's baby announcement.  I am planning to give it to her, hopefully before the little one is in college!

The Firefly Princess

This is a fun little 5x7 painting on canvas board, part of my dreaming fairies series, based on little girls playing dress-up.  This little one is lost in a beautiful dream world, looking to the distance for her next adventure.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Thursday is craft day! Recycled earring card beads.

Check out this new blog, showcasing my daughter's crafts, she is so talented!  Parties and Crafts  I think she is trying to send me a hint that we need to have another Valentine's party!

Valentines day: green is the new pink...heart bracelet

My next posts are going to be about "green" being the new pink for Valentines Day.  I will be using recycled materials as much as I can to make cute Valentines day crafts and party favors.

This is a bracelet that I am making for my friends for Valentines day.  The little sparkly purple and blue hearts are made from the cards that earrings come on.  These are from Claire's, but any should work.
For the instructions, click here.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Painting of window with forest view

This is one of the most beautiful views in the world to me, Sirkka and Olavi's kitchen window.  Once upon a time, many years ago, I was an exchange student and stayed with two terrific families in Finland.  The second family I stayed with didn't really speak English, and was hesitant to take an exchange student.  We had so much fun, and have remained good friends today.  They have moved from the town where I stayed with them, but their new house has a beautiful view of the forest, and if you follow a trail to the left a couple hundred meters, there are ancient, prehistoric graves covered by lots of granite stones.  Like most places in Finland, the forest is full of berries in the summer, and ski trails in the winter.  It is a beautiful place out this window, I have sat here often with my morning coffee.  Now, this painting on stretched canvas hangs in my dining room, a great memory and constant reminder of my dear friends.  Some day I may give it to them, but maybe I will wait until they come to visit and fetch it...

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Painting without brushes--palette knife painting

This is an 8x10 acrylic painting on stretched canvas that was made entirely with a palette knife, no brushes at all.  I love making birch trees with palette knives, they have so much more depth than brush-painted ones.  This one is a favorite of mine, it has so much movement.