Sunday, July 30, 2017

Wedding Portraits in Oil on Gold Leaf

I recently attended the long awaited wedding of my granddaughter Cassidy to her fiance, Luke. Like any grandma I wanted to give them wonderful presents. And I did. My husband and I bequeathed a monetary gift as well as an item from one of her gift registries. But it just wasn't enough. I mean, when you love someone you want to keep on showering them with stuff.  

Because my granddaughter and her family live three thousand miles from us, it makes showing love in other ways difficult. How many times can you heart someone on Facebook?

I recently became interested in doing miniature portraits and paintings on gold leaf. So I went to Cassidy's FB page and looked over all the wonderful pics she had been posting of her and Luke.  I really liked this one so I copied it and projected it on my computer to work from. This was the result.  I gifted this to her at her wedding shower and she loved it.  Turns out that the photo was a popular one and she had used it on the special wine bottles that were gifted to members of the bridal party and family.  

I love doing these. The total size for the entire piece framed is 8" x 10".  I can work from any photo you supply as long as it is clean and clear.  Old black and white photos lend themselves nicely to a beautiful antique look as I paint them in a warm sepia tone on the gold leaf. These make wonderful anniversary or wedding gifts. Wouldn't you love to gift your parents or a favorite friend with one?

If you're interested or just have questions, you can email me at:  Check out my website for other gift ideas. Thanks for reading.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Video Demo of a Pastel Landscape

I was proud to have a one woman show at the Sequim Museum in Sequim, Washington during the month of June. On June 17th I held a demonstration of a pastel landscape. I really enjoy doing demos because it's a great opportunity to meet the public in a way that introduces them to my work and also helps to enlighten and teach others about the art making process.

This painting was done from a small oil plein air study I painted a couple of years ago at Ediz Hook in Port Angeles, Washington.  It's a long spit that goes out for about two miles into the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  It was overcast that day and very windy. I actually did this small piece as a demo for the paper and my small plein air class. I used a very limited palette for the oil. I always liked the study and thought it would be fun to try as a pastel. So I used it for the demo.

I didn't have a videographer to work my camera so I set the camera up on a tripod and asked a friend to just monitor it and make sure it kept running.  Unfortunately, I do step a bit out of the camera range but only for a second or two.  It's been edited down and fixed as much as possible.  Hope you enjoy it!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Still Life Painting of Fiesta Ware and Two Eggs

Fiesta Ware and Three Eggs Oil on Panel 7" x 10"

Since hitting middle age, my favorite color has become red. Hmm. Some folks call it the menopause color. I prefer to think of it as the power color. In any case, I've always gravitated to warm colors. I'm a fall person - or so I've been told.

I have a solo show coming up on June 2nd at the Sequim Museum and Art Center.  This is one of the pieces created for the show.  It will be framed in a cathedral frame that sets it off beautifully.

I'd love to see you at my reception which will be held on June 2nd at the Sequim Museum and Art Center located at 
175 W Cedar St, Sequim, WA 98382.  Refreshments will be served. Come and have a look-see and then wander off to view the rest of the Sequim Gallery Walk.  

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Painting of Nesting Egrets on Gold Leaf

Lately I've found myself itching to try my hand at something new. Namely Gold Leaf. Now, if you've ever tried to use the stuff you'll understand me when I say - AAAGH! That stuff is really hard to work with! You literally have to hold your breath every time you try to place a little bit of it.  It's so thin and so light that the slightest puff of air will send it flying or rip it to pieces.  Sooo... having tried my hand sometime back with imitation gold leaf or metal leaf, as it's called, I decided I'd better stick to the faux stuff until I get a bit more practice.  I had quite a bit on hand since my last experiment with repairing a frame so I figured I could do a respectably good size piece.

I wanted something relatively monochromatic for the main subject.  I felt color could come later so I chose a couple of Snowy Egrets for this first experiment.  After building and preparing a substrate (panel), I transferred the cartoon to the panel and did a sketchy under painting.  I then prepared the area around the birds with adhesive, waited the requisite amount of time (about 30 minutes) and then commenced with the torturous job of laying the leaf.  Yes, it looks very silvery in the photo.  The light on my easel casts a bit cool.

The next step was to seal the leaf with an oil based shellac.  That was easy and it dried fairly quickly so I was able to proceed with the next step. I laid a coat of Transparent Brown Oxide in small sections (that's a lot like burnt umber) and then started to wipe out leaves and the shape of a tree running diagonally on the right top corner.

Once I completed that step, I moved on to the birds. That was a bit more up my alley and so I was able to move fairly quickly through the rest of the piece. I finished up with some details and some darkening of shadows to allow for a little more integration - but not too much. They are, after all, a bit more realistic than the background.  I wanted them to stand out a bit.

The final result is, I think, respectable.  I can see I'll need some more practice with this medium but I'm enjoying the journey.  I have a show coming up in June at the Sequim Museum and Arts Center. I hope to feature this piece along with two or three miniature portraits on gold leaf.  Now those will really be fun!

"Nesting Egrets"
22" x 24"
Oil on Faux Gold Leaf

Monday, February 20, 2017

Graphite Portrait of African American Man


20" x 16"
Graphite and White Chalk

Just finished this portrait of Brice, one of my models.  It's done on Tan Stonehenge paper which is one of my favorite papers to work on. Unfortunately graphite is a bear to photograph.  I tried using my scanner, my good Nikon camera and my iPhone.  It either comes out too grainy or too contrasty.  Here the lamp on my easel is casting too much light on the image.  But when I remove the light and try for even ambient light, that makes things look weird too. You'll just have to take my word for it that this looks much, much better in person.  Transitions are very subtle in this piece but the photo just doesn't show that.  I'm frustrated enough that this may be the last graphite drawing I post.  Really.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Maine Coon Kitten

Maine Coon Kitten - Misty
6" x 8"
Oil on Panel

I Love cats! Really love them, I mean. Just check out my FB page and you'll see dozens of cat videos. I particularly enjoy "Simon's Cat" videos. So naturally, my friends and relatives have asked me numerous times, "why don't you paint cats?" Well I've asked myself that too. Mainly it's because I don't paint subjects that are too "sweet". And let's face it. Kittens are sweet. But I couldn't stand the pressure anymore and so I caved. Yup. This is my first kitten. "Misty" was my first Maine Coon and while I did paint her picture in profile years ago when she died, I kept that one to put near her urn. Yes, I had her cremated. But here she is as a kitten. While this didn't provide me with a huge amount of challenge, I did enjoy painting her so I may be doing more of these in the future. And yes, I do paint pet portraits from time to time on commission as well.

You can puchase this painting by going to  Thanks for taking the time to read this. Enjoy your day!

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Miniature Landscape Oil Painting

Hazy Day
6" x 8"
Oil on Canvas Panel

When I lived in California, one of my favorite hiking and painting locations was the Santa Rosa Ecological Preserve.  It was located south of where I lived on the way to Temecula near Murietta.  It comprises 900 acres of rolling grassland filled with Engelmann oak woodlands. There are riparian wetlands, coastal sage scrub, chaparral, bunchgrass prairie, and vernal pools as well as more than 200 species of native birds and 49 endangered, threatened or rare animal and plant species. The paths are easy to navigate.  No matter how many people you may find there, it is easy to lose yourself in its peace and quiet. I took rolls and rolls of film there (before digital) and still have many of those reference photos.  Still, even if I didn't, the place is indelibly marked in my memory.  The Oak trees were, and still are, my favorites.  Over 400 years old, they stretch wider than their height - which is no mean amount.  Many of them are over 60 feet tall.  They provide luxurious shade on hot days and shelter from rain in the winter.  If you have a chance, visit the Preserve, and send my regards.  This small study for a larger piece is a view from one of the trails.

To purchase and/or view on my website, to go  

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Impressionist Landscape of Woods and Path

"Into the Woods"
6" x 8"
Oil on Canvas Panel

I was in the mood for a landscape today and had plans for doing a large one but decided I needed to do a few small studies first to determine color.  I really enjoy painting small landscapes. They're sort of intimate and invite you in for a closer look while still allowing you to see the larger picture.

You can purchase this painting at:

Monday, January 09, 2017

Special Offer!

"Satin and Two Eggs"9" x 12"
Oil on Linen Panel

I've just finished my first newsletter - The Bi-Monthly Museletter - which will be sent out on the 14th of this month.  I'm very excited about it as I've been working hard to make sure it not only looks attractive but offers something valuable to my subscribers.  Every two months I will be offering a small painting at a specially reduced price only to my subscribers.  The painting will not be auctioned, but will be available on a first come, first served basis. It will only be available for one week after which, if it does not sell, it will be placed on my website with my usual pricing.  You will be able to purchase through my website by following a special link in the Newsletter and entering a code to enter the page for viewing or purchasing.

You can subscribe right here on this blog.  The subscription box is in the upper right hand corner of this site.  Or go to and subscribe there.  A confirmation email will come to your inbox.  Note - you MUST click on the confirmation to be entered on the email list.  If you don't see the email, check your spam folder.  Be sure to put "" in your address book or white list to ensure you receive the newsletter.  Thanks! Hope to see you on my list.  :-)

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

New Year, New Painting

Back to Work

Happy New Year! It feels really good to be back to work.  While I always enjoy the break between Christmas and New Year as an opportunity to connect with friends and tidy up loose ends, it still feels wonderful to get back into the studio with a paintbrush instead of a mop.

I'm a bit old for New Year's resolutions.  I never found them to be more than a reminder of how deeply set are some of my habits and patterns.  Often those reminders are not kind.  Like the one where I promised to exercise every day.  It's just not always feasible and then when I don't get to it, I feel guilty.  Not worth the guilt.  I do make changes in my life but I no longer feel I need to do them on New Year's Day.  Every day marks the beginning of a new year when you think about it.  Five months ago, I made a pledge to change my eating habits and take on the challenge of a healthier diet. I'm proud to say I have been successful.  I've dropped 22 lbs and I'm enjoying my new way of eating with no temptation to change it.  So, change is possible even for old dogs like me.

I'd like to make promises about myblog, but I've learned that to do so can greatly disappoint my followers.  So let's just say that I'm working on streamlining my methods of keeping up with social media and other aspects of my work.  Hopefully that will translate into more frequent posts and more interesting things to say.

Here's my most recent endeavor.  It's a small still life - 9" x 12", Oil on Linen Panel.  It's still on the easel obviously and I have much to do on it.  I'm still on the first pass and there will be a few more to follow.  I'll post again my results in a couple of days so you can follow the progress.

I'll be offering this piece at a special price to my newsletter subscribers.  I haven't posted the sign-up for that yet on my website (, but hope to do so later either today or tomorrow. You will only be able to access the page where the painting is for sale if you subscribe because you will need a special code to unlock the page. Subscribing to this blog will not grant you access to the sale page. The Newsletter is a separate deal. The painting won't be up for bid.  It will be listed at one price, first come, first served, and only for a few days.  If it doesn't sell within one week, it will go on my website at a higher price.

Have a great day and a Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Still Life Oil with White Flowers

"Anna's Gift"
Oil on Linen
24" x 36"

The New Year is nearly upon us.  I'm crazy busy getting ready for Christmas and Hanukkah (we're an equal religious opportunity family) my annual New Year's Day Brunch and cleaning up all the old details of the previous year that needed tidying.  As I run back and forth between the house and the studio carrying things that have migrated to the distant corners of the house, I realize how fortunate I am to have all this space.  A few years ago I built my studio large enough to hold myself and my students.  Despite being over 400 square feet though, it still feels crowded.  But that's part of my good fortune. The clutter, I mean. It's loaded with easels, paintings and supplies that keep me busy seven days a week and fills my home once a week with several wonderful students.  Anna is a young student in my class and she gifted me earlier this year with a lovely branch of hand crafted white flowers on a branch.  It's in the painting above.  

My days are filled with work and painting (OK...that's work too), good friends and students and lots of laughter.  How lucky I am.  Then there's my husband.  He's patient (he needs to be) and good humored and sometimes I don't think I deserve him.  My cats are wonderful too.  They snuggle with me when I read in the evening and follow me around talking to me all day.  I have a lot of wonderful artist friends and non-artist friends and family and life is generally pretty damn good.

So what I'm trying to say is that although this post started as a gripe about how busy I am, I have turned it into a letter of gratitude.  I know I don't hear from many of you in terms of comments, but I know you're out there and occasionally stop on by to see what's new.  So you're part of my total gratitude picture.  Thank you for being a part of my crazy life.

I wish you a wonderful holiday and a magnificent New Year.  Be healthy, be happy and be safe!

All my best to you!


Monday, November 28, 2016

Oil Portrait Study

Study of Lauren
Oil on Linen

I host a weekly life drawing group in my studio on Mondays.  We're just a small group of friends who enjoy each other's company.  Often our poses go for up to six weeks so that members can do polished drawings or paintings from the pose.  This time, though, we ran the pose for four weeks.  Now I know that there are a lot of very good alla prima portrait artists out there but I'm not usually given to alla prima work.  Well, yes, I used to be an alla prima painter but in recent years, I've changed my style to that of a more polished look so I'm badly out of practice on alla prima portraits. 

I do like to do studies every so often and I have decided to dedicate every other session to just painting from the model rather than drawing. This study of our model, Lauren is the first in a long time.  I try in these little pieces to focus on the bigger picture and limit myself to just a couple of brushes.  Basically I use three.  I have a 1 1/2 inch for the background and other larger shapes and a 1/2 inch for the medium shapes and a 1/4 inch brush for the smaller shapes.  I'm learning to wield the larger ones with more finesse and I resist the urge to go to smaller brushes.  Usually I can achieve a fine line when needed by turning the brush on it's edge.  So much more to learn here.  

Friday, November 11, 2016

Oil Painting of a Reclining Nude

"Jen Sleeping"24" x 30", Oil on Linen Panel

Finally! I've been working on this painting for almost three months and because my studio time has been limited, I haven't worked on anything else! So glad to be finished.  The hardest part though hasn't been painting this.  It's been photographing it!  I have a lot of cool skin tones in here and the light in my studio is either too dim or too warm when I turn on the lights.  I finally found the right combination of warm and cool to photograph it in.

I hope to enter this in some competitions. A couple of times a year, I paint a piece strictly for this purpose.  That means that this won't be for sale for awhile, but that's OK.  I'll enjoy looking at it for a bit.  Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, September 05, 2016

Painting Alla Prima with Susan Martin Spar

I uploaded my very first teaching video today to You Tube! I'm pretty new to this although I've had the camera for a couple of years, I just haven't gotten around to using it. So I traded lessons for help from one of my students who has been acting as a studio assistant. Anna is a young lady who has taken a class on vidography, (hmm - is that a word?) and so she was willing to jump right in and help out. We're a little rough around the edges yet, but I thingk we're improving and will get better over time.

I made this video for a student who lives in India and who takes lessons via Skype from me every week. I've been promising to do a demonstration for her for awhile now so we have her to thank for pushing me out of my rut and getting me started. Thank you Mamta! I hope this works for you.

Although I've evolved into a indirect painter over the years since my alla prima days of being a daily painter, Mamta is interested in learning alla prima techniques so I gathered together a couple of apples and put together this exercise. I enjoyed the process so much, I think we'll be doing a bunch more over the coming year. More alla prima because the practice is good for me - and a variety of other subjects as well. Here it is. Hope you enjoy it. I would appreciate any feedback you may have. Say it nicely please. :-)