Have you ever seen rain streaming dramatically down a window like it does in the movies? In those fat, silvery rivulets? I could sit in my comfy studio armchair and watch rain rivulets all day here in Portland.

Instead, I started a new series of oil and metallic watercolors called Pacific northwest rains. Water – especially rain – makes me feel cool, calm and balanced. Do you feel the rain in these abstractions, like the new one below?

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I feel like a caterpillar.
After 12 years of my artist career, I’ve kicked off 2016 by examining everything I do:

Why do I paint?
What do I hope to share with you, through my art?
How do my inspirations guide what I put on paper?
Why do I love painting trees?

As I “metamorphosis” on these questions and more, I will share my discoveries with you this year. Right now, I can share a bit about those trees I love to paint so much.

As I travel my life’s path, I create idyllic places for me to “hide” — to keep me safe, and to belong — and all of these places always have trees.  Trees that shelter, that protect, and that cool. Evergreens and aspens from the mountains of my native Colorado, and towering hardwoods in the forests of southern Belgium. Trees that have trunks with those crisp lines that I love.

How could I not paint these trees, in those idyllic places?

 

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Large trees (aspen or birch?) are in progress in my studio (oil and metallic watercolor).

I’m continuing my quest to master mixing oil and watercolors successfully and just might have a new series emerging: winter aspens. Or winter birch. I’m a bit torn since I love the aspen trees of my native Colorado in winter, but also love the birch found in the Pacific Northwest where I’ve spent many months painting in the winter over the last decade (and now live).

Here are two of my most recent winter trees – layers of oil paint (I use oil sticks such as Winsor & Newton Oilbars), followed by layers of watercolor paint (some traditional paints along with my own mix of metallic pigment powders).  At just the right time, I scrape the tree shapes out with an old favorite tool: pieces of cut up credit cards.

I’m loving these early results… what do you think?

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“Winter Aspens No. 3” and “Winter Aspens No. 5”, oil and metallic watercolor, 12 x 12 inches, $350.

I’m finally calling my experimentation from the last month or so a success!  I’ve experimented with various methods of making oil paint and watercolor mix and love my results.  I mix layers of oil paint (using oilsticks such as Winsor & Newton Oilbars) and metallic and traditional watercolors, working on paper and then I’ve mounted the paper onto cradled panel.  More about my techniques another day…

"Forever Gone", watercolor and oil mounted on panel, 6x6x1.5".

“Forever Gone”, watercolor and oil mounted on panel, 6x6x1.5″.

"Golden Era", watercolor and oil mounted on panel, 10x10x1.5".

“Golden Era”, watercolor and oil mounted on panel, 10x10x1.5″.

“up/down, up/down, up/down”… is a funny saying we’ve had around the house for a decade now, coined by me on our honeymoon when my husband kept playing with the rental car’s controls for raising and lowering the convertible top repeatedly. Again and again – until he blew an electrical fuse and we were forced to drive around with the top stuck in the “down” position, sweltering in the Hawaiian heat.

Wet watercolor "elemental" squares.

Wet watercolor “elemental” squares.

Well, “up/down, up/down, up/down” is what I’ve been doing with my creative process in my studio lately.  I thought I was on to something new and good with mixing oil paints and watercolor, but after lots of experimenting and thinking that I love what I’ve spent the last 3 weeks painting (up), the last few days I’m frustrated and angry with my results (down).

Instead of destroying paintings that I might love again tomorrow, I’ve been going back to my most basic and comforting work – painting my “elemental” squares.  But even those aren’t going so swell… but there’s always tomorrow to turn things around.

I’m still getting settled into my new studio space on the northwestern edge of Portland’s Pearl District.  My space is small – about 1/4 the size of my studio in Columbus (and more expensive!). For now, I’m making it work!

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"Bouyant" was chosen out of over 650 paintings to exhibit at the San Diego Watercolor Society International Exhibition in San Diego, California.

“Bouyant” was chosen out of over 650 paintings to exhibit at the San Diego Watercolor Society International Exhibition in San Diego, California.

I’ve had several of my new Metallic Squares series paintings accepted into well-respected, national juried exhibitions recently. I’m super-excited that my latest watercolor and oil paintings are receiving some attention and it gets my heart rate going in my studio to keep on exploring my Metallic Squares and painting more!

"My Personal Raincloud" one of 65 paintings chosen out of 665 for the Rocky Mountain National Watermedia Exhibit in Golden, Colorado.

“My Personal Raincloud” one of 65 paintings chosen out of 665 for the Rocky Mountain National Watermedia Exhibit in Golden, Colorado.

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