Sunday, April 10, 2016


Recently I had a breakthrough with my portrait painting. What the catalyst was I have no idea but there was a turning point about three weeks ago.  And because I have kept the weekly succession of portraits, it was clear a barrier had been broken. They suddenly went from flat to intricate and full of form.  The only explanation I could come up with was consistency. Every week I paint a portrait from a model for fun. There are weeks when I am tired, rushed or plain lazy and I think I would rather skip a session.  But I know that once I am there I will fall into a beautiful trance of painting. That consistency has allowed me to hone my ability to get the structure faster and give me time to explore pushing colors and edges.

This was painted at a local cafe with dim light I find I push colors much more. Still wet so sorry for the glare.

Below was a painting I almost did not do but was happy I stuck it out. I was fun playing with abstract brush work on the blouse and I was challenged by the black lipstick.

 Above I was experimenting with painting over old landscapes.

To the left was one that I seem to have a breakthrough with form and found myself able to work on smaller details. This was from last week.

This was an older but interesting one. It was painted in almost no light.

The face is a landscape full of intricate beauty and the subtle shadows of unexpected color.  Wendy Brayton

Saturday, March 26, 2016


This painting was created from several photos that I snapped of a young family on a train ride in Santa Cruz.  It was their hats that first drew my attention followed by that lovely negative space between the mother's gaze and son's. It went through numerous transitions as I first included the solid diagonal bench behind and dark wooded background.  It evolved to a park bench with sunshine and foliage.  I love working from images and also love using them as a jumping off point. At the end I made a slide show showing the stages and below is my Youtube link for video.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Three Rules for a Strong Composition

I am rather a straightforward painter. I do not use fancy equipment or expensive brushes and have a limited palette.  One of my painting strengths, has been to create strong exciting compositions.  So these are some of my Sunday musings on that subject.

1. Always have a wide assortment of sizes and shapes of canvases.
You should never compromise an inspired view to be compressed onto the wrong sized surface.  There was a reason that the image spoke to you and your job is to translate that inspiration.  Different sizes of canvases tell different stories.  Small are intimate, large expansive, long can be flowing.

Last fall, I did several camping scenes.  In one I used a vertical 12" x 24".  This allowed me to capture a slice showing the sweeping height of the trees and also the details of the campers below.

2. Do not be afraid to eliminate the unnecessary!
Recently my father said to me has he was impressed how I was able to streamline complicated scenes and take out the unnecessary.  I had to stop a moment and think about this because it had become such a natural part of my painting process.

In this step, go back to what inspired you to paint the scene then look at all the subjects throughout the scene and decide if they strengthen the view or take away from it.  That telephone pole is not always necessary!

3. Do not be afraid to move and rearrange subject matter you are painting.
 One of my all time favorite artists, Wayne Thiebaud, is wonderful at pushing angles and edges.  His San Francisco cityscapes tilt the streets into unfathomable inclines and boy are they exciting!

In many paintings there are rhythms to be found and odd tangents to eliminate. Too rhythmic can become stagnant and bad tangents can lead a viewer's gaze the wrong direction. An example of a bad rhythm could be a fence line, removing a few posts or tilting a couple can create some nice tension or open up areas for the eye to travel through.

An example of a bad tangent can be when two objects touch at their corners and draws the viewer's attention to that vertex. An example could be a corner of a sign touching the corner of a roof line.

Then there is the fun part of pushing reality be it in color or perspective. That hill might just need to swoop a little higher or that car might need more extreme foreshortening. "The world is but a canvas to our imagination" as Henry David Thoreau so beautifully put. It is your unique vision you are sharing and the image or scene is just a jumping off point.


Sunday, November 29, 2015

Holiday Art Sale

Getting ready for my second annual art sale.  This year several of my artist friends are joining me at my Sebastopol Art Studio. Great art and there is something for everybody! 

En Plein Air Again

After grad school, which I spent the majority of my time painting late nights in my studio, I found myself struggling with getting myself outside painting.  Plein air painting was what originally made me want to be a painter. It was the adventure of not knowing what I was going to paint and all the discoveries that came from the exploration of new territories. It made me see light and color with "new" eyes.

Then there was that exhilaration of racing time and capturing a moment. Those paintings, unlike my studio ones, bring me right back to that day's experience where almost all my senses are engaged.  Happy to report that I am plein air painting once again with a small group of painting buddies. The above was painted last month in Tomales.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

An Amazing two Months, Got my Mojo Back

The last two months flew by following a turbulent year, and I am happy to report I found my groove again. This fall, I recommitted to trying some plein air competitions.  It has been awhile.  Grad school followed by a job change along with family and jc classes, I was overwhelmed. So I started slow, and entered a Mendocino one and Capitola.
 They were wonderful!  I got to explore the west cost North and South and met to really kind and generous people.  Plus I got paint ten hour days!
 Here are a few paintings from the events.

Catch Up from September

The 2015 Great Petaluma Paint Out was a success.  We had over thirty amazing artists turn out and create some beautiful artwork around Petaluma.  Thank you to all the businesses that contributed including: the Three Twins Ice Cream, Aqus Cafe, Dempsey's, Powell's Sweet Shoppe, RileyStreet Art Supply, and Basin Street Properties.