Thursday, January 28, 2010

There's A Chance

While watching the weather report and nursing my bowl of coffee (cappuccino latte) this morning, it somehow registered, even though I was in an only partially awake stupor, that in Houston today there was a chance of rain. The camellias have just begun to bloom, and the quince bush in the back yard is blooming for only the third year ever. So, thinking that today would be a good day to paint a still life before the rain destroyed our yard's yearly blossoms, I groggily stumbled outside to select flowers for the bouquet.

For the regular reader of this blog, one might remember that the upstairs studio is great for light, but there is no effective place to set up a proper still life. So, even though there were already cut flowers for painting, I spent the majority of the day rearranging the studio. Now that there's a small drop leaf table to the left of the easel, it will be much easier to set up a still life in the studio and more effectively control the light source. And, I still have room to walk backwards away from the easel without tripping over things behind me. Looks like a win/ win!

Speaking of win/win, it's almost time for the painting give-away. There's still a chance YOU could win, so put your name in the hat.

Tomorrow, there's another chance of rain, and a 90% chance that I will paint a still life.

Monday, January 25, 2010


The weather yest-day was so pretty
the sun, blue sky, wind caused a giddy
reaction so great
that we couldn't wait,
and so rode our bikes through the city.

The biking began just around three
from our house to a middle sized tree
that happened to be
for all there to see
in the middle of labyrinth three.

The labyrinth, our favorite so far,
quite willing, we'll keep looking for more
and so to repeat
another quest neat,
an amazed hunt for labyrinth four.

(I realize that I haven't yet told
a story that has been put on hold,
the labyrinth first
our minds unrehearsed
a tall tale might could some day unfold.)

Friday, January 22, 2010


How many people reading this knew that there is more than one labyrinth in Houston? This one was at Covenant Church on Caroline in Midtown, an easy bike ride from our house.

Please, dear readers, remember to contact me about entering the apple painting give-away. Don't be shy. It would be great if a few more folks would enter before the campaign starts in earnest on facebook.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Wonderful Happy Sidewalk

It's Tuesday and I'm Still Sore.

In the process of our neighbor getting a new driveway, an opportunity was created.

The workers totally demolished our footpath that runs between the houses from front to back as they ripped up their old driveway and poured concrete for the new one....which means that because the neighbors are kind and considerate, they didn't leave the mess for us alone to fix. The neighbor brought in some sand, and while he was shoveling sand from one end of the space to the other, I, very happily was placing bricks and flagstone to match the swirly pattern of the patio in the backyard. Before, it was a boring plain old wobbly sidewalk. Now, it's a fanciful wonderful happy sidewalk.

The work all happened last Saturday, and pitifully, my muscles still ache from all the lifting and standing and bending and squatting and sitting. Ouch.

Please remember to sign up for the apple painting give-away!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Apples Two Oranges

It is worth mentioning again that I paint without wearing glasses. Being nearsighted, it's just easier to make sense of what I'm doing (within an arm's length glance) without corrective lenses. When wearing glasses, for me, everything up close is fuzzy. Because I can't see far away things with precision without glasses, the subjects that I paint are, by and large, out of focus. (And no, I don't wear or want bifocals.)

But in spite of a lack of (actual, not metaphorical) vision, when painting while using round tipped brushes, I have much more control over the paint, and consequently, the painting appears more in focus than it really least the way I see it.

Apples Two Oranges is a 9" x 12" oil on linen canvas. Not only were round brushes used, but I also added a linseed oil turpentine mixture to the paint to encourage the paint to flow more easily from the brush to the canvas surface. Using round tipped brushes gives this painting a slightly different look than the other apple paintings.

So, if one so chooses, the similarities of brush stroke and technique of the apple paintings created using flat brushes and no extra linseed oil are akin to comparing apples to apples. And this painting using round brushes with added linseed oil would, ever so subtly, be like comparing apples to oranges! (Get it, apples, TWO oranges?)

Free! (Really)

Yesterday, I published some specific rules for an apple painting give-away. What I did NOT realize was that I was asking readers to create a google blog account in order to be eligible for the painting give-away. Yesterday's rules are much too cumbersome and complicated to follow. If one chooses or wants to enter the painting give-away, then please send an e-mail with the subject line apple turnover to info at Sarah Hazel dot com or leave a comment indicating such on this blog.

When 50 people communicate that they want to enter, then a name will be randomly selected from that list to win an apple painting. When (and if) 100 different human beings on God's green earth contact me, then a second painting will be given away for FREE. Y'all spread the word.

Again, please accept my apologies for my seemingly infinite cyberspace ignorance.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Apple Turnover

The apple (painting) turnover rate has continued throughout the week. These apple paintings have served to help:
1.) work out the kinks after a prolonged absence from painting,
2.) serve to retrain the old brain to "see" the subject,
3.) remember and rehearse brush technique and color mixing, AND
4.) build confidence for a portrait commission that was put on hold during the holidays.

These two paintings were painted with a limited palette. To explain: one apple was reddish, and two apples were green. Red and green are complimentary colors. Complimentary colors are often mixed to make a neutral shade, in this instance, to be used in the outline, shadows, and background. So because I had decided to only used the complimentary colors in these two paintings, the look is different from the previous few apple paintings.

The paintings are both on the small side, 4" x 6" oil on cotton canvas. Also, so far in this series I've used flat brushes. Tomorrow's blog entry will highlight an apple painting done with round brushes.

Lastly, all along I've been planning on giving away one of the apple paintings to a follower of this blog. When 50 people commit by clicking the "follow" button in the top left blue bar just above the Finding My Glasses title, a name will be randomly selected from that list. When this blog collects 100 followers, we'll have another painting give-away! For facebook readers, when one reads the whole entry, at the top of the facebook comments is a little bar that says, Comment · Like · View Original Post. Click on View Original Post and it directs to, well, the original post. From there, just "follow" the above directions. If anyone chooses to follow anonymously (to the world,) but still wants to be eligible for the painting give-away, then please send an e-mail with the subject line apple turnover to info at Sarah Hazel dot com. Only people who follow at Sarah Hazel dot blog spot dot com will be eligible for the give-away.

Monday, January 11, 2010

An Apple a Day

Because it had been so long between painting sessions, I thought that perhaps it would be a good idea to work out the kinks by painting apples. They aren't as easy to paint as one might think. It's been incredibly challenging, surprisingly.

This is an 8" x 10" oil on linen painted in the upstairs studio.

An art friend of mine suggested painting these small pieces. It's totally different to make such a tiny canvas interesting (vs., of course, a larger canvas.) There's not as much surface area with which to work, obviously. Therefore, there's generally not enough room to put everything on the canvas that I normally (on a larger canvas) would put there.

This is a 6" x 6" oil on cotton canvas.

These are my fourth and fifth apple paintings within the week.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Ice Fishes

This morning the cherubs are frozen
(the fish in the pond are a dozen)
a layer of ice
appeared overnight
and leaves in the trees have stopped rustlin'.

The dozen or so swimming fishes
were recently telling their wishes
"Please feed us at eight,
it's fine if you're late,
the new food we're fed is delicious..."

"This morning we're feeling quite slowish,"
reported the rather big goldfish.
"The weather is cold,"
the other fish told,
"Our fins through the ice have a glow-ish."

Friday, January 08, 2010

Them Apples

It's been good for my psyche to paint this week.

Before moving all painting supplies back upstairs to the art studio, I took the opportunity to paint an (other) apple still life in the more controlled lighting environment of the dining room one more time. But now that I've painted downstairs twice this week, it made me realize that the studio upstairs needs a little re-arranging. How this will be accomplished is beyond comprehension at this point, but something needs to change.

The way it's set up now is so that the easel faces a corner. It's great for painting from a reference photo, but completely useless when painting from life. What interest would there be in a painting of the corner of the studio? Besides, there's no room to set up a still life in that corner. One of the original reasons for setting up the easel where it is now is so that there is plenty of space to walk backwards (as I tend to walk back and forth quite a bit when painting.) Also, since I'm not left handed, the glass desk top palette needs to be at my right, so wherever the easel goes, the desk needs to go to it's right.

Ideally, there will be a viable solution to this conundrum, but in the meantime, I'm going to set up another apple still life in an inconvenient-for-painting spot in the bright sunlit studio.

How do you like them apples? (This newest one is an 11" x 14" oil on linen.)

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Avec Plaisir

Even though I thoroughly enjoyed the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it's great to be back in the swing of things with regard to painting. The last time I painted was just shy of two months ago. TWO MONTHS AGO! So, it was with great pleasure and a little trepidation that I finally found a chunk of time to paint yesterday. Here I am working on the same still life as the two students worked on the previous day. (Speaking of chunky and in my vanity, please allow me to point out that I am wearing at least three layers of clothing.)

Hopefully, on this bitter cold Houston winter day, I'll set up a different still life in the dining room and work in the pleasantness of our warm, albeit drafty, old house.

Here are the two products of yesterday's work. The painting on the left is 6" x 6" oil on cotton canvas. The painting on the right is an 9" x 12" oil on linen canvas.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Bring Your Own Canvas

Today I hosted my first ever art class!

The lesson covered the very basics of color mixing, shading and shadows, color plains, and an admonition to work from darks to lights, especially when using oil paints. I then gave a very simple demonstration on a technique to use when beginning an oil painting. (My demo is the partially done apple on the right with the orange background.)

The still life is set up in the corner of the dining room. The two "students" pictured are hard at work. Both students had never used oils before, so instead of them making a huge monetary investment to join the "class," I let them both use my supplies, but bring their own canvas. The clean-up afterwards has been an effort, but both students were really pleased with their completed paintings. I couldn't have been more delighted that they were so satisfied with their work.

In my naive ignorance, I thought that there would be time and leisure for me to paint alongside the students. However, instructing the students used the entirety of my personal brain capacity and every last little ounce of time. Not that there's anything wrong with that....

Anyone else interested in some personalized art instruction?