Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Lady Waiting

8x6 oil on panel
$225 - including shipping

This lady was outside the Met on my last visit to the city. It was dusk, we'd had a little rain shower, and she looked so very European sitting there. I'm planning to visit NYC again this coming year. Either in May or June. There is a Weekend with the Masters being planned for June and it sounds fantastic.

But first, I have to get myself in order for this week leading up to Christmas! My parents arrive in less than an hour and I'm so excited! But I still haven't sent cards, haven't done any baking, haven't gotten my shopping done, etc. etc. And its near 80 in Austin today. That puts a damper on things! Nothing like sweating while you're baking Christmas cookies and trucking in and out of stores blasting Christmas tunes while in shorts and flips flops. I don't think I will ever get used to this aspect of living in Texas.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Sanctuary - Mission San Jose

14x11 oil on panel

Ask Tidewater Gallery about this painting.

I don't do many interiors, but I like them a lot. Maybe its just that I don't like empty spaces. This is Mission San Jose in San Antonio. Its the first stop on the mission trail, if you are going to start from the visitor's center! What I love about these missions is that most are active parish churches still and people attend services there just as in old days. They are still loved and used and amazing spaces.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Moses Botkin Monthly Challenge

This month Suzanne chose our challenge and really stumped me. We were to paint our favorite cliche', saying or game. I wasn't thinking very creatively. Why is it that when I have to think of a favorite saying, I am totally blank? But I have no doubt I throw out all kinds of things all day with my daughter - "do you think money grows on trees?" "were you raised in a barn?"
Suzanne had some good suggestions too which I wish I had pursued.
Ah well - I played with "You can lead a horse to water." And my painting is a scene from Florida of a wild horse on Cumberland Island. The horses graze on the grasses in the water even though its very salty. And so I assume they don't drink there. Their story is quite interesting. Enjoy the work this month.

You Can Lead A Horse to Water...
10x8 oil on panel
©2010 Robin Cheers

Why Not Queen Me?
6x6 oil on masonite
©2010 Sharman Owings

Good, Bad and Indifferent
10x30 oil on canvas
©2010 Suzanne Berry

Double Mint Twins at the Paris Metro
16x12 oil on panel
©2010 Vicki Ross

No Time Like the Present
6x8 oil on hardboard
©2010 Diana Moses Botkin

Friday, December 10, 2010

Putting the Shine On

12x8 oil on linen

Gallery info to come.

My week was rather uninspiring so I thought I'd share this from last week's work. I think I put it on Facebook one day to show "whats on my easel" but didn't share the final image.
This week was full to the point of frustration! My hubby was out of town all week - just got home at midnight last night and left to go auto racing this weekend. I volunteered at school most of Monday, we had a short school day Wed. We had our weekly DI team meeting and I had lots of paperwork/registrations to do for that. Fill in the rest with doctor appts., hair appts., errands and chores and the time I did have to paint was dedicated to commissions or searching for the right image to spark my interest. Lets hope for a restful weekend and more time at my easel next week!

Friday, December 03, 2010

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Something from the Bar

12x12 oil on panel

Available next week at Russell Collection.

Bouncing back to the darker colors and playing with interior lighting. Bars are fun because of all the spotlights, reflections, and varying neon lights creating ambiance. This is the back bar of the Cypress Creek Cafe where we had a fun dinner during our workshop in Wimberley.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Final Touches

12x8 oil on panel

Available at Castle Gallery.

This is something new for me, this lighter palette. I'm trying to lighten up a bit, use more neutrals to emphasize light and color. I think for a long time, in order to suggest or have areas that were empty, I would use dark washes. Its easier to pretend something is in shadow, and obscured if you just lose it in blacks and browns. But I think neutrals actually enhance colors and light better. And add more punch to darks as well.

You can probably guess my inspiration for this. The models were actually posing for some photos for us at Kim English's workshop. We didn't paint inside, but had them pose in our hostesses beautiful home. I wonder if Kim will paint this scene? And how his will compare. At any rate, I am really pleased.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Train Riders

8x6 oil on panel

Available at Loretta Goodwin Gallery next week.

I've been hard at work since my weekend getaway. I'm totally refocused on painting now.
It was such a wonderfully relaxing break. No tv, no computers, no phones.... just nature, R&R, hiking and enjoying the company of my sig ots. Its always good to put things in perspective - it was much needed. So I am back and dedicated to painting and keeping myself relatively unplugged still. The computer can certainly eat up lots of time when one plays too much.

I'm pushing my palette a little more this week. Trying to capture dramatic light, trying different scenes, playing with color and lightening up. In other words, having a ball!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Moses Botkin Monthly Challenge

This month I got to choose our challenge and since I have become such a promoter of the "30 minute study/start," I wanted everyone else to try it. Should have been easy for me, but I chose a rather ambitious subject. I'm still processing my workshop and pleased that some of my efforts last week are appearing in my work (painted at the last minute of our deadline of course!) I'm anxious to read what the others thought about using a timer and painting so rapidly. From the looks of it, they did a great job!

The Critique - study
9x12 oil on panel
©2010 Robin Cheers

The Weeper
5x7 oil on canvas
©2010 Suzanne Berry

Thea's Rock
13x13 pastel
©2010 Vicki Ross

Glance Back
12x9 oil on canvas
©2010 Diana Moses Botkin

Last Light
5x6 oil on board
©2010 Aaron Johnson Cordell

This month we welcome a new member too - hello to Sharman Owings!

Red Flag
10x8 oil on masonite
©2010 Sharman Owings

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Week of Art Boot Camp

I've now realized that Kim English's class is like boot camp. I painted so much my wrist is sore and my head was reeling every night making sleep difficult.

It truly was a great experience. First, Belinda Aber of Wimberley Artists Workshops is running a great school and has some really good teachers on her schedule. I'm thrilled that she is so close to Austin. Wimberley is a small but active community with lots of beautiful Hill Country scenery around. And the artists who attended the workshop were such a pleasure to work with!

Dinner out for our group at Cypress Creek Cafe

Table 2

I learned a lot and can't wait to get back to work next week to continue pushing myself. We literally painted 5 minute poses. That means we tried to paint two models and the background in 5 mins. and when the timer went off, we had 10 seconds to wipe our panels while the models assumed new poses. Kim English can capture the scene, on a medium sized canvas, with no trouble. Its amazing. And what an exercise for us! We eventually graduated to 10 and then 20 minute poses by the end of the week. The 20 minute poses seemed much too long! LOL

One of my 5 minute sessions Friday.

Another 5 minute sessions from Friday.

This was from Tuesday (day 1) - since that day I warmed up my palette a lot and managed to get a little farther like adding some background info.

I can see the difference from the start of the workshop in my own work, but I still didn't make the progress our instructor could make in his demos. All of us seemed to hang in there, complaining a little, but working hard.

This is an example of Kim's 5 minute painting Friday.

I'd highly recommend the exercise! It sure beats my 30 minute studies! That might feel like forever to me now.

This painting is now mine! A 12x14 5-minute demo by Kim English.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Workshop Days

I am getting whipped (hopefully into shape) this week.... I've posted a bunch of images from the past several days on Facebook and there used to be a way to share the album publicly.

See if this link allows you to see without logging in or having an account.

it seems to work - to see more images, click on the small "next" text on the upper right of the photos.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Hi! Remember me? The artist who lives here?

What a couple of weeks! I haven't painted much because of too many other parts of life getting out of control. I've taken on too many volunteer things this fall. To sum up - weekly Destination Imagination team meetings (I'm the manager so I've also had/will have training days, etc.), Brownies cookie coordinator (really going to kick in during January !), school field trip, monday modeling sessions coordinator, travel, wedding painting events, husband travel, sick dog, daughter and husband, Halloween was in there somewhere, right? My calendar looks like a splatter painting.

BUT - this week is full art immersion (well, starting tomorrow). I am going to study with Kim English, an artist whom I consider a master. I've heard wonderful things about his classes, about his technique for training artists to work quickly and accurately. Its going to be a challenge - and I can't wait. I hope I can post here and there to share some of the fun with you either on the blog or Facebook. So stay tuned.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Zen Stuff

My friend Kate shared a wonderful post on The Creative Block that I hope everyone will read.

Having found my lost sketchbook (scary days), I found the note I made about about our conversation that day. "There is no way we can avoid being who we are... even if we try to erase or subdue our 'self'."
(Zen stuff) ala Kate.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Morning Traffic

10x12 oil on panel

Soon to be at Charleston House in Montgomery.

Finished this one last week. And so far, I haven't painted this week. I guess it is only Tuesday! Yesterday's model session was put off owing to my having a meeting to learn how to be cookie coordinator for my daughter's Brownie troop. Tomorrow I will be prepping for her Destination Imagination meeting - for which I am team manager. If I don't sound overwhelmed, I am. Trust me.
But on a high note, I just caught up on my stack of bookkeeping today!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Wedding Reception - The Corinthian

28x22 oil on linen

Today is somewhat of a recovery day. This party ended very late! Late for me - I am not worth much after 7 pm. But the band was fun, and the wedding coordinator, Ann Whittington, always takes care to have a nice spread for the vendors so I had a good salad, chicken and a couple brownies to sustain me!
This was a surprise for the bridal couple. She apparently had wanted me, but was told I was booked and unable to paint her wedding. I saw her when her mom pointed me out at work - on the upper level. I hope they are as pleased with the final product.

To be honest, I'm still ambivalent about these gigs. Sure, its great exercise for me, its maybe a nod to traditional impressionism, and its very special for the family. BUT, is it good for my career? And I always feel like the work is left unfinished... which is the nature of it, but I wonder if that is best? I could do so much better by bringing the work back and completing it in my studio. Most of the live event painters do not do this. And there are drawbacks to it...when in my studio, I need to be focusing on gallery work. And there are only so many hours in the day. Seeming to be fewer and fewer too. This morning I went to a meeting to learn about being "cookie coordinator" for our Brownie troop. Please, somebody stop me next time I volunteer!

Friday, October 22, 2010

East Enders

12x16 oil on panel

Gallery info to come.

Here is my finished product from the demos below. Frankly, I am not sure I am thrilled by it. Maybe the figures turned out too small and don't draw the eye. And its a soft light illuminating the scene - something I always have trouble with. I like the puddle in the foreground the best!

Loading my stuff up to go to Houston for a wedding reception painting event this weekend. Been a busy fall for those!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

30 Minute Start

If you haven't guessed by now, I am becoming quite the advocate for using a timer in the studio! I thought I'd share an example of my using it to start a painting. With only 30 minutes to get as much in as I can, my brush moves quicker, I mix paint faster and more intuitively, and use more of it. It stretches my observation skills.

This is a 12x16 panel* and in the first 15 minutes you see my drawing set and the bones in place.

Then in the next 15, the whole panel is covered with masses blocked in. Now all I have to do is model my forms and play with highlights/shadows. I can also decide at this point if its going to work. The colors and composition are balanced. The focal point - the figures - are in an interesting spot and from the viewer's point of view, we are going to meet in the crosswalk.

Now, I'm working from a photo in this case. But I've been doing it when painting the model from life. And I think it would be an ideal way to approach plein air landscape painting. Think how fast you could get in your masses and determine the sun/shadow before it changes.
Granted, this doesn't appeal to everyone. Its not for the realist or the person who likes to render objects. My buildings will be left as masses of obscure shapes, for instance. But it works very well for the impressionist. Try it!!
(and wish me good luck not messing up from here!)

* note: the diagonal lines through my panel help me locate objects in my sketch. While I am being loose and gestural, I do want my figures to be the right size relative to their environment, and I want the right perspective. This is a trick I learned from Jeanette Le Grue (great painter!) and I do it both with photos and from life.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Gusty Day

12x16 oil on panel

Available at Edward Montgomery Fine Art, Carmel next week.

This scene is from one of our Monday figure sessions (scroll down to see the study I painted that day.) I tried to finish the study today but felt constrained by having to work around what was already there. So I started a new one. I have this dreadful habit of not being able to continue work on an incomplete painting. I can't tell you how many I have sitting around the studio now. There is going to be quite a few more now too since beginning our model sessions. Like the one below. I used the same panel to paint a second study of our model in fact, knowing it is just for exercise and I won't complete it. I'm definitely an "alla prima" painter.

9x12 oil on panel - study from figure session

Friday, October 15, 2010

Moses Botkin Monthly Challenge

Our challenge this month was to paint anything we liked, but on a 6x8 support and only with a half-inch brush! Diabolical! Actually, I paint every painting with just one brush, but use a smaller one - a 6 instead of an 8. I think I am just lazy. The artists I paint the model with on Mondays were surprised to learn that. They were aghast when they heard that I don't clean my brushes either. I use OMS (Gamsol) and just swish my brushes in there until they look good and lay them down and walk away. I don't use expensive brushes and they get a lot of abuse I suppose. Using one at a time until it flays out finally or the ferule loosens. I like a synthetic too actually, with a crisp edge.

Now, on to my painting. This horse was turned out one morning during our visit to the dude ranch two years ago this fall. The background was very Texas hill country. Dry scrub. And when I was flying in this past weekend and looked out the window, I was momentarily surprised because the ground looked almost like snow. The colors were so pale and muted. Lovely in their way.. and I wanted to try to capture that in my background here.

Facing the Morning Sun

6x8 oil on panel

©2010 Robin Cheers


6x8 oil on panel
©2010 Aaron Cordell

Bright Bales

6x8 oil on hardboard
©2010 Diana Moses Botkin

Bling Pouch

6x6 oil on canvas

Suzanne Berry

Still Life

8x6 oil on canvas
Vicki Ross

Monday, October 11, 2010

Oheka Castle Wedding Reception

Took a very quick trip over the weekend to go and paint at a lovely young couple's wedding reception on Long Island. The site was Oheka Castle - a beautiful private home built in the early 1900s by one of those fabulously wealthy "robber-barons." It was a beautiful setting. I am exhausted...and no honeymoon to look forward to!

early stage - the light from the setting sun inspired me, though the party was going to be at night.

ready for populate the scene with some wedding guests

no time for pics in between - this is the final painting. I hope the family is happy with my results!

Thursday, October 07, 2010


30 minute study

I've been in the habit lately of just cutting off a piece of linen and taping it up when I need a certain size. Haven't had the right panels available or something. Makes for a bit more work later gluing and mounting things, but its convenient when you want to get right to work.

I'm about to hand my computer off now to get a new smokin' fast (big?) hard drive installed. Lots of tech upgrades lately. Some unplanned too.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010


16x16 oil on panel

Available at Tidewater Gallery next week.

Remember this study from a couple days ago? I am so thrilled with how the big version turned out. I started the same way. I set my timer for 30 mins. and massed in, sketched, scrubbed and placed as much as I could, covering most of the canvas. After a little break, I set the timer again and kept going the same way. The final touches took probably an hour also, but getting the bulk of the scene painted under the time constraint made me stay loose and work all over the canvas. I didn't get bogged down with defining all the details of the buildings or cars, but found that after I'd massed in, all that was needed were some highlights and a few other strokes to suggest form. The only thing I am not totally sure of is the tree shadow just in front of the figure. I think it needs some editing. Overall, a great day at the easel! (not so much in the rest of life... laptop died, spilled water on my debris-strewn studio floor, forgot to eat, min. schnauzer shaved, glued my fingers together...)

Monday, October 04, 2010

Figure Session

Spent the morning with a model and several other artists enjoying a beautiful morning outside at Mozarts. Mozarts is this really lovely coffee house with lots of decks overlooking Lake Austin. Its really a great setting for painting and we are so glad they tolerate us!

My first painting, below, I did for the first 2 hours of the pose - in 25-30 minute sessions with breaks. I tried hard to apply my recent play with "30 minute sketches" and worked quickly at the beginning. The light moved very quickly too.

I moved to a new spot to get a different angle for my second painting but didn't have much time to work on it. I like my start - colorful at least. And I don't like, or get confused by the background anyway. That is one way pencil sketching has an advantage. With paint I feel obligated to put in the background or setting. Though one of these days I want to put my "live event" skills to the test and paint a large cafe scene (mostly) on location.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Sidestreet Study

30 minute sketch

I love this exercise! It seems almost unfair to spend so short a time, but get such good results. Truly, a few more minutes could refine this to a gallery ready painting. Its about 7 inches square on a loose piece of linen. This week, more of these and I'm going to start "gallery" works with a 30 minute "flash dance" as a friend commented! Love that. First thing for Monday though is our weekly figure session at a coffee house. Can't wait for that for many reasons.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Laundry Sketch

30 minute sketch

This is such a great exercise. I needed it today. My week turned out to be very busy and I had spent two days (I think) working on a larger, more complicated piece. So I wanted to just paint some simple scenes and thought that to break them down to their simplest shapes would be ideal. I set my timer for 25 minutes and went to work. Its wonderful to just look at the big shapes, shadow and light, and mass in. When the timer went off, I allowed myself just a couple minutes more to make final touches - hit the lights harder. I'm always trying to capture the sunlight. Aren't we all?

btw - the model is me. I wanted a scene, so I set up my tripod and camera (using the timer) and hung some laundry in the backyard. More on that later.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Under A Loggia

This was my morning's work. Our Monday morning model session. And what a beautiful morning we had here in Austin. We went to Laguna Gloria - a historic home on Lake Austin - and had a delightful young lady pose for us. I laugh a little each time I think of my temporary title "Under a Loggia" - reminds me of Elenore Lavish in E.M. Forster's A Room With A View.

I am really so excited about these regular, on location figure painting sessions. And the lovely weather!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Three New Messages

18x14 oil on linen

Gallery info to come.

On Monday, I got together with a group of artist friends to paint a model at a local coffee shop. Its something I've wanted to do for a very long time. Its a little difficult to paint strangers in a cafe... people become uncomfortable when you study them for a long time. And they tend to finish up and move off before you are done. But I want to get better (and quicker) at painting from life.
Several friends are interested too and we're forming a group to regularly hire a model to pose in a public setting. Not your traditional model sessions; the nude bores me frankly. And I want to paint the setting and atmosphere as much as the figure.

And boy do I need to work on painting from life... even with her longer pose, I was baffled. I had more than a few distractions though and I will now throw out a few excuses for not posting any of my sketches. My daughter was "sick" and had to stay home from school, so she was bounding around feeding the ducks, turtles and fish in the lake. I didn't have a tube of white to "travel" with. I had my tiny pochade box which is really useless... I can't paint that small. It was overcast. And I didn't have the right color choices on my palette. There! Is that enough excuses?

I did get great photos though and look forward to next Monday for more practice from life. I'm scheduling it now.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Birds of a Feather

9x12 oil on linen

Gallery info to come.

This title seems quite appropos since I am going to invite you to a check out the new Artist's Way blog. I'm done with the book now but want to create a community of inspiration for artists who are, well, drawing a blank.
I'm going to have guest artists share ideas for managing their time, their business, and their creative blocks. Please feel free to start or join a discussion, comment and send me a paragraph or article of your own! Contributors are welcome and wanted!

Drop by the block - The Creative Block. Also on Facebook.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Moses Botkin Monthly Challenge

Our challenge: Paint it Red! We were to use red, red violet or red orange to dominate our paintings. I took it literally and used nothing but those colors, with a little sap green mixed with alizarin for the darkest darks and a little white mixed with orange for highlights. My palette was really just a big splotch of varying reds. I wanted to try to abstract the figures and almost lose them in the brush work. Its harder to do than you might think. But fun to try!

"Red Dance
8x8 oil on paper
©2010 Robin Cheers

From Jerome's Paris Window
aka "La Basilique du Val de Grace illumine'e la nuit"

14x11 oil on panel
©2010 Vicki Ross

16x16 oil on canvas
©2010 Suzanne Berry

"Red Brush"

6x8 oil on canvas

©2010 Aaron Cordell Johnson

"Red Pitcher on Blue Cloth"
8x10 oil on canvas
©2010 Diana Moses Botkin

"Arrangement on Red"
6x6 oil on panel

Elizabeth Blaylock
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