Friday, August 19, 2016

Reinventing Ourselves from Another Point of View

Opening tonight, August 19, 2016! 7-10pm  
I'm so pleased to have my painting included in this First Annual Poets and Artists self-portrait show and publication. 
Self Portrait With Beard, 20x16, oil on canvas over panel

You may see all the work in the show by checking out

 33 Contemporary Gallery
Or find more information at 33 Contemporary Gallery.

Also, you may view my recent TEDx Birmingham talk,
it's now up on YouTube.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

TEDx Birmingham Talk, Art and Empathy

My talk is up on YouTube. What an honor it is to have been asked to do a talk at my local Birmingham TEDx event. It was a wonderful day, with so many amazing speakers!

I feel like this is THE opportunity one simply has to accept even if it's outside your comfort zone. What a great chance it is to talk about a concept that is important to you, something worth saying and worth sharing. After all, the point of TED talks is that they are Ideas Worth Spreading.

My nine minutes is about how viewing representational art can change our perspective and help us gain empathy for other humans. TEDx asked who might relate to my talk and after quizzing a few people that had heard the talk, the answer came back everyone. Art is merely the vehicle used to talk about human issues.

I could write more here, but why? Watch it and please share it on all your social media! If ever we could use a little more empathy it's right here and now.

You may read more about my TEDx journey and preparations HERE.

Monday, February 22, 2016

How to Paint Alla Prima Flowers

I've had these Amaryllis bulbs for years. They were at the house in Florida that we moved to three weeks before my son was born. Then they made the move to Alabama with us. They are a part of our late winter / early spring experience every year.

They have multiplied like crazy over the years and most of my gardener friends have some of their babies. I've never painted them. I guess because flower paintings aren't really my thing. Maybe I'm just being contrary. It seems like women are expected to paint flowers, so meh...I've just not been interested. Don't get me wrong I love other artist's paintings of flowers. And admire people that do them really well. 

But I wanted to do a figure painting featuring Amaryllis and realized I needed to do a couple studies. It turned out to be super fun. And you know if I had to pick a favorite color, it'd be red, so it wasn't like it was torture. So here's how it went.

Of course, I like a little dramatic lighting so I moved the flowers into the studio. 

I started working with Burnt Umber, Rembrandt, thinned a bit with Gamsol, odorless mineral spirits. I was working on a 20x16 RayMar panel. I used a large fan brush and a #2 filbert for some drawing. I did a rub out with a T-Shirt rag. 

I immediately, while everything was still wet, began laying in the colors. I worked from the background to the foreground and from darks to lights. It's important to work while everything is wet so you can get those really soft edges. 

Scarlet in Winter, 20x16, oil
Reds can be tricky to paint. Many people add white and then they have a pink flower. It's best to avoid white but change the pigments you are using. I used mostly Rembrandts like Scarlet, adding Permanent Madder Deep and other transparent dark colors like Ultramarine Blue Deep, Viridian, or Thalo Greens to darken and adding various Cadmium Reds in the light areas. There might also be some Pyrolene Reds too.

I was mostly using a large fan brush. I used a Ruby Satin Filbert at times on the edges where I wanted it even smoother like the flower stalks.

I used thinner paint in the shadows and heavier paint in the light. This really gives a sculptural quality to the painting. Also,  I was very careful to keep the values close and in a dark range in the shadow. That way they just fall away the right amount.

The next day, I came back and added a few of the more orange-red heavy paint details.

This painting is all dressed up for a new forever home. Email me at if you're interested in inviting her into your home. She is available for $1900, framed and free shipping in the continental US. 

Sunday, January 31, 2016

TEDx Birmingham Journey

Thank you for traveling along and allowing me to share this art path with you. It has taken an unexpected and fun little trek.

I'm honored and humbled to be a speaker at the TEDx Birmingham, March 12, 2016, event. (Edited, my talk is now up on YouTube!)

It has been quite a learning process to write this talk. One of the toughest parts was narrowing down all the things I could say about art and focusing in on the one point I really wanted to make. Tough to do when you are passionate about so many aspects of a subject.

The TEDx Birmingham organizers have been fantastic during the entire process giving information about how to craft a great talk, giving us deadlines to meet, and assigning speech coaches to each of us.

There will be 15 speakers and Pure Imagination is the theme. I will be sharing some of my work and speaking about how when we experience representational art, by making it and viewing it, we gain empathy for each other and gather insight into what it means to be human. 

I was asked to submit in July 2015, found out I was accepted in October and immediately started working on the talk. To help me prepare, I read a very interesting book, Resonate by Nancy Duarte that is specifically about presenting visual stories.

Yesterday, I had my first focus group presentation. In my group was Jonathan Owen, Donna Dukes and Rubin Pillay, MD, PhD. Their talks were fascinating. You can see more about them on the TEDx Birmingham's speaker page. It was great to get feedback from impartial strangers.

We all got tips and advice for the presentation delivery. Six weeks till the talk gives us time to memorize it better, try for a more conversational manner, put emphasis in the right spots, vary the cadence, and figure out what to do with our hands and body.

When & Where: Saturday, March 12, 2016, Alys Stephens Center, Birmingham, AL. The event will also be live-streamed, and on the TEDxBirmingham site after the event. All the info is on their website.

Tickets: Seats are limited so you must apply for a ticket.

*Applications will be open until Midnight Jan 31.* More information about the speakers, program and tickets may be found on the website.

A little more news, one of the TEDx Birmingham's organizers just happens to also be this year's 2016 TED Prize Winner, Sarah Parcak. The UAB space archeologist will get $1 million to invest in her idea which will be revealed at TED2016. Congratulations Sarah!

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 allow non-artists to wander through the room. 

9. 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.


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