Trading cards as a quick fix

I can't always find time (or make time) to paint something big.  Often, a "painting snack" will have to do. 

I bought a bundle of Artist Trading Cards (ATCs -- tiny 2.5" x 3.5" canvases) months ago to trade with friends -- and looking at the unopened packages filled me with guilt.

ATC1 copy 

So I ripped one open and decided to make a mini-painting for myself, as a light snack. For a summery theme, I based it on a photo of my son jumping off a swim platform.  For simplicity, I only used 3 paint colors: white, paynes gray and burnt umber.

I'm not trading this card, but keeping it, to remind myself that making art doesn't have to wait for a groundbreaking idea, or a huge chunk of time to execute it.

Painting Treats is a Trap!

My Watercolor professor in college gave an assignment to paint desserts from a local bakery.   His rationale was that we would get so tempted to eat the treats that we would paint quickly and end up with a fluid (rather than contrived) watercolor.   Painting on canvas is different.  The last time I tried painting candy I worked on two 36 x 36 canvases at the same time -- and couldn't stop thinking of chocolate.   I was constantly hungry.

This small sketch with quick-drying acrylic gouache took me a few minutes and I didn't reach for a treat afterwards.

Next canvas painting:  Still Life with Broccoli. 

FullSizeRender (4)

The "Drive-Thru" Painting

Not as fattening as it sounds.   I prefer taking back roads on my morning commute and get seduced by the scenery.  Of course, there's rarely time to pull over and take careful, composed source photographs.  So I've resorted to blindly holding up my camera (or phone) and taking blurry shots out the window and sorting them out later. 

Drivethru landscape 

I like the way that they capture the transience of the landscape.  

I feel like I'm transferring their energy to the canvas when I paint them!


Fresh from the Farmers Market


For an understanding of where food comes from, for great conversations, for the freshest produce, you can't beat a farmer's market.  For painters, there's yet another reason -- beautiful, irregularly shaped produce that you can't find in a store. This bunch of multicolor radishes caught my eye. Watercolor was the only handy option - I had to sketch and paint them fast before they went into a salad.  

My only hesitation in "buying the whole farm" at a market are the dollar bills in my pocket (they don't take plastic), my small family, and the fact that I can't paint everything before I eat it.  Just as well.  I'll be back next week.

Curing Writer's Block with Paint Chip Poetry

PaintchippoetryI'm not scared of putting colors on canvas.  But I am nervous about painting my walls a new color (subtlety is not my strong point).  So I've hoarded paint chips over the years, along with all the crazy/wonderful color names. In the hope of creating a cool collage, I cut a bunch of them up with deckle-edged scissors.  The collage was a bust.  But the remaining names looked really fun.  so I keep them in a little box on my desk -- for "Paint Chip Poetry".

Here's how it works:  I pull out a few chips at random and force myself to make a cheezy story about them, e.g. The sailor with a Grey Beard and a voice like Cracked Slate secretly collecting Water Irises as a hobby. Not even close to poetry, but a great way to get my mind un-blocked so I can move to the next task. 

Whatever it takes to keep the thoughts flowing....!!!!