Friday, December 21, 2012


It all starts with a  bike.
Version 1
Version 2, (Whoa Nelly!)

Version 3, (Too much like a bicycle)

Final Version, "Licorice" 16"x24", (It is upside down)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Candy Cane

Version 1

Version 2, 

Version 3

Final Version , "Candy Cane"  10"x14"

Monday, December 3, 2012

Tuesday, A Trip

"Tuesday" 24"x36" oil on canvas
This is the end of a story.  This painting had a whole life before that looked a lot different.  I think there is a metaphor there.

Version 1. It started like this.  36"x24" 
It started about eight months ago.  I thought I had the route planned out.  

Version 2. I rendered up the bird.  I was so optimistic.

Version 3. I liked it so far, but there was something missing...

Version 4.  
I know what it was missing...  a semi, a red sky, bicycles and a whole lot of angst.

I had to mess it up.  That is my M.O.  Bring on the hate mail.

This didn't just happen overnight.  This painting sat in my studio for a few months with the red sky and semi additions, taunting me, making me sad.

Version 5.  This is calmer.  

So I decided to take it in a whole new direction.  I tried to keep my favorite elements, but in the end, of course, they all had to go, because that is how life is.  I mean painting is.  
Version 6.  Put a bird on it.  

I liked the bird, but there was a problematic area around it's feet.  I tried.  

Finito!  Bene.  
Just like life, add a bike and every thing gets better.

Saturday, November 24, 2012


"Locked" 16"x24" oil on canvas
Finally, first one finished!  This painting took months.  I had about four paintings going in this same vein.  They were all different sizes and formats, but none was going anywhere.

Version 1.   I kept painting, laying down layers.  
This is how it started.  It kept going back and forth, through all different color schemes. 
Then I had a break through on Day of the Dead.   A conversation with friends reminded me of what I wanted to do and to stop doing the same thing over and over.  Duh.

Version 2.  I turned it on its side and added more elements.
It really started to move then.

Version 3.  For some reason, I felt very strongly about the putting blue on the right. 

Version 4.  This one might look the same as the other one, but I lightened things up.

Here it is again.  It is a little tighter than others in the series, but that is my tendency.  

Monday, November 12, 2012

More Pigeon Prep

This is the fourth post in the "Geek Series."  I am indulging my nerdy paint persona.

Flirt is another reworked painting.  I upped the detail on the flirty bird and did my scratchy brush work on the background.  The color is subtle, a warm grey with ultramarine underpainting showing through.

"Flirt" yesterday, with a light gray palette knifed into the ultramarine brush strokes.  

"Flirt" today, with more detail in the flirt.   The darker value in the background helps highlight the bird.  

Monday, November 5, 2012

I Moved Into A New Space

High, high, high wall space
I am in a new space in the same communal studio.  Some of you might recognize that it is Jhina Alvarado's old space.  It is slightly smaller than my old space, but it is closer to the window and it lacks the fuse box and the leak.

It feels very different and though it is smaller I feel less boxed in.  

Tweaking "Flight" and "Angry"

Another day... So, I got into the studio and decided that "Flight" was not finished.  I changed the value of the sky as I planned, but it still was not enough.  I added more detail to the bird.  I think there is some nice luminosity in the up stretched wing now, but I was still not satisfied.

I had some Williamsburg Cadmium Red, another nice paint, out on the palette and again, in an act of desperation,   I put a dot in some turpentine and covered the sky.

Now I admit, I am a color drunk, and that is maybe why I avoided color's siren song for so long.
This wonderful red floats on top of the blue and green and manages to stay separate, giving me a big zing in the heart.  The red is working like a watercolor wash, mixing yet separate.  I Love Good Paint.

Before red

Fini, there is more weight and depth in this tiny painting now. 
Moving on to "Angry. "   I found the value between the bird and the sky was too close. 

So I sanded, with turpentine again and massaged in some white/Naples/Flake with essence of Cerulean and got it to pop a bit more.  Then, again, I reworked the bird.  I lightened the bird and added more detail.

Yesterday's "Angry"

vs today's "Angry"  Background is much glowier and the bird is lifted out of the sky,and less embedded.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Geeking Out On Paint

I am still re-working my stuff.  I moved on to "Break," so called because it is of a bunch of hardworking pigeons on break.

I added more contrast and detail to the birds and moved on to change the background.  I did the same routine as with "Angry."  I sanded, and lightened the background.  However, it needed to be lightened even more.  Thus, with what is becoming a habit, comes yet another desperate act, I put straight Naples Yellow onto the wet blue paint.  Mixing three colors on the canvas is a variation of mixing them on the palette.
This is yesterday's version
Now it was not just any old Naples Yellow,  It is one of my few 20 year old tubes of Old Holland paint, that I just love so much.  I use them sparingly.  It is so comforting to see those old aluminum tubes.  I bought them on sale 20 years ago.  They were around $17 bucks a tube.  They are probably $50-75 now.   They have plain labels.  No need for branding for Old Holland.  I think I have four tubes left. 

So I take a tiny dot the size of the head of a pin on the tip of my brush and drag it through the freshly painted background.  I expect it to blend, half way disappear in to the blue, but it doesn't...  because it is Old Holland.  I love painting wet into wet.  Paint does wonderful things when you let it.  However, painting this way is challenging because either the new color gets swallowed up by the first color and it takes loads of paint to get any effect at all. The usual result is mud.  What else can happen is that the first color is slightly too dry and just gets covered up, like it was never there.
 However, sometimes it works out.  It all depends on the pressure and stiffness of brush, the stage of dryness of the paint that is already down and last and most important... the quality of the paint.

Even so OH is a marvel.  OH didn't just stand up to the blue.  It danced with the blue.  It coursed in grooves of it's own next to the blue or floated on top and made music with the blue.  It was like light in a tube.  That little dot glowed against the blue and went on and on, like it was a Hogwart's magic fountain pen that never ran out of ink.
Okey,  my editor has pointed out, this fountain pen did not exist in "Harry Potter, " anywhere, but it should have. 
"Break"  This is the final version.

In spite of the fact that I loved the Naples Yellow effect, I decided I needed to darken the values on the background, especially on the left where the big bird is. But I didn't want to turn it all dark.   I can still see the effect of that yellow.  Still wet into wet, it is imparting a warmth and a glow to the added gray.  The blue lines in the middle ground are brush scratches that revealed the paint underneath and create a nice texture.  The "sky" is palette knifed.  OH paint and a bunch of the different, fun paint techniques and textures, have left me buzzing.    

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Re-working A Post For Paint Nerds

 I am slowing down.  I am reworking.  I am still.

Remember these paintings?  I decided to work on them some more.  I wanted to try that outlandish ultramarine blue sky on them, because I liked how the sky turned out on the stop sign painting.  But now I am getting carried away.  I always do, because this is my favorite part, tweaking something till I get that buzzy euphoric feeling, or... I ruin it, or... I get that buzzy euphoric feeling and I ruin it.

I read that Rodin took 14 years to do the Gates Of Hell.  Same thing with that statue, I think...  of Balzac.  He re-worked everything and he worked in clay.  He thought cutting marble was a waste of his time, so he would hire someone to do it.  Still working in clay was no picnic.  It  had to stay wet that whole time, (sometimes 14 years) so it would not crack.  What a hassle.

So I am taking my time.

"Angry Bird" 

I sanded "Angry" with turpentine and graphite sandpaper, a technique I learned from my, now far away but still adorable friend, Jhina Alvarado.  It creates a super smooth surface like plaster or fresco.  I feel like a postage stamp muralist.  I re-painted the background an almost pure ultramarine blue.  (Actually, I try not to put down any "pure" colors.  It is one of those "3 rules," every color is actually three colors mixed together, nothing is straight out of the tube.)  Then I  re-sanded and put down this cerulean.

Then of course, I had to re-work the whole bird, because that is what always happens when you repaint.  Everything you didn't repaint looks under painted and it is.  So hopefully this process brings the whole painting up to a new level, that is of course... unless it doesn't. 

"Flight" I did the same thing with this one, sand, ultramarine blue, sand, cadmium yellow, yellow ocher, cerulean mix on top and re-work the bird.  I still want to work on this one.

I like the way "Angry Bird" turned out, at least I do today.  The head and wing in "Flight" need to pop out from the background more, so I am going to make more of a value change there.  Maybe go really light and Naples yellowy in the background in those two areas.  Then I might put more detail into the head and the wing.  What that really means is more detail in the whole bird.  (see above)  The painting still is lacking depth.  I will most likely leave the other wing less defined.  It is farther away and moving so lack of detail might work...  At least that is the hope.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

At The Beach Again - 45

I made a painting for an auction at my daughter's school.  I had a hard time deciding what to paint for them.  Usually for auctions I donate something that is already finished, but for this I wanted to do something new.  At first I thought a dog portrait, but all the dogs I have painted, have  been for good friends.

Chuck Close is a portrait painter that also uses his friends and acquaintances as subjects.  I guess this way he did not have to flatter the sitter in any way.  He painted them stark, exposed and without taking a commission.  This was his effort to throw off the baggage of traditional portrait painting.  Not that I am comparing myself to Chuck Close...  My portraits, after all, are of dogs.   And my subjects are all irrepressibly cute and appealing... no matter what I do. 

"45" Phase One, oil on canvas, 12"x16"
So, I decided to do a painting of what has become one of my favorite scenes, "45th Avenue."  This one is lilliputian, a third the size of the other two.   I used to work this way a lot, where I painted the same subject over and over.  It might sound boring, but I learn a lot this way. 
Phase Two
Phase Three
Fini! I changed the values in the water, and the road.  I amplified the contrast in the foreground objects.  Then I  added some drippy glazing to the sky and cleaned up the 45th sign. 
I thought this painting was all about the light and the color, but I think, as my friend Will said, it is really about a feeling, an emotion.  I love the way the beach makes me feel, at this time of day.  Heading out to see the sunset.  There is a smell, a sound, and the visuals are always moving.  The sky is an indescribable color, a blue, with Naples yellow, black and a load of flake white.  It is so mixed it can change from too yellow, to too blue, to too gray.  Great fun.  Really, it's a lot of fun.  Not kidding.  No wonder I keep painting this scene.

Edited by Makiko Compton

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

I Paint Because I Can't Sing

This is one of my re-paints.  Originally this painting was second in the on going series of abstract bikes.  The re-paint has knocked it to number five. 

I think I have finally figured out why I bounce around all the time, between realism and these abstract bike paintings.  

Painting realism is more meditative for me.   Painting these bike paintings are exciting, but unnerving.  They can go in any direction at any time and I crash and burn more often than not.  

Final, new "Sloat" 
Old "Sloat"
Mid "Sloat"

I thought it was finished, but...

Heavy Into Observation is happy to announce a new editor to our staff, Makiko Compton.  Makiko comes to us from St. Paul's Elementary and middle school.  Makiko is a exceptional writer and boogie boarder.  We will make every effort to continue our regular one to two a blog posts a week, however, it will depend on the new editor's homework load.  Thank you for your continued support and patience. 

Friday, September 28, 2012

My Time In Wonderland And Painting Over Things

Last week was crazy, but good.  It started on Monday, I got an email from Irene Hernandez-Feiks of Wonderland SF, and Chillin Productions.  I met Irene when I wandered into her store on 24th Street, (where I bought a cool vintage brass, Z28 belt buckle.)  Chatting with her, I noticed the back half of her store was a full-on art gallery, with paintings, sculptures and crystal chandeliers, only in San Francisco... or perhaps Brooklyn.  

We got to talking about art which led to her asking me to participate in her Club Mezzanine Show. Unfortunately, I couldn't do it,  I was taking my daughter down to L.A. that weekend to do some Obon Dancing and get her in touch with her roots.  Irene said no problem, we would keep in touch. 

It started with Irene calling me last Monday.  She asked if I would put some work in the next show at her store, Wonderland SF.  I said yes! (of course). 
She came to the studio to pick out work Tuesday
 I schlepped work over to the gallery Wednesday.  
She hung the show Thursday.
The opening was on Friday, whew!  

Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures, damn.  Makes me wonder... what kind of Japanese am I?  I need to Obon Dance more.

I am not going to show what this used to look like.  I'll get scolded, sorry Tracy.
It was a good week painting too.  Here are a couple of paintings I started painting over.   Re-painting  always makes me feel better. 

Though one time it got me in trouble.  I re-painted something that Washington State Arts Commission had a slide of.  They called me a few weeks later and wanted to purchase the painting for a public space, but it was gone! 

You would think I would learn my lesson, but I hate having unresolved stuff hanging around.  Also, I like it when a painting starts to really weigh something, when it has about three to five pounds of paint on it, ha!  I am a frustrated, two dimensional sculptor. 

Ooooow, so ugly dakine.  Gonna fix it.  See the old seagull?
I did a little editing.  It is getting better.  Hope I don't blow it.  

Monday, September 24, 2012

For Tom And The Kitchen

I did this one for the Kitchen.  Tom, my boyfriend, designed and commissioned it.  He likes color.  He is Italian.   I don't know if that explains it, but I think it is related. 

"Escape" 24"x16" oil on canvas

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Last Minute Show At WONDERLAND SF

New Painting For Tom
I got this last minute show with 11 other artists.  The reception is  at Wonderland SF on 24th Street and sponsored by Skyy Vodka.

This Friday 6pm-10pm

Amazing work by:
Alec Huxley
Andrzej Michael Karwacki
Henry Lewis
Jeffrey Nemenzo
Lani Tanaka
Lee Harvey Roswell
Mark Campbell
Melanie Alves
Robert Bowen
Tatiana Suarez
Todd Laby
Ursula Xanthe Young

Sponsored by Skyy Vodka

Come by and have a drink and check our some truly amazing art!

When: Friday September 21, 2012
Where: Wonderland SF
2929 24th street, SF CA 94110 (between Florida and Alabama

Monday, September 17, 2012

Art For Aids and Open Studios In One Weekend!

This weekend was an art marathon. 

It started on Friday night with the Art for Aids auction.  Jhina Alvarado, Lucky Rapp and I all donated paintings for the  UCSF Alliance Health Project. 
Me and "Orange Bicycle," This painting was kind of a break through piece for me.  It was bitter sweet to see it go.

I did a little more tweaking to this painting.  I added more detail to the pelican.  Then... I blocked in a delicious slab of reddish gray paint, that varies from brushy-ness, for the top 5/6ths to smooth at the bottom, and added a moving red ring a ding.  I figured out how to deal with the unusually long format and incorporate a interesting division of the space, which is something I have been trying to figure out, and use, forever. 
"Cruising Employed" 36"x24," oil on canvas
This is what it used to look like.  I was not sure how to make the different orientations.  Maybe the painting can be hung many different ways, upside down, sideways, depending on the mood of the viewer.  I will probably try this again, because I am kinda stubborn.