oil studies

This past month I have been working on several landscape paintings, some in oil and some in encaustic. I have numerous large stretched canvases that I have lugged all over the country since we lived in Seattle and I am determined to fill them with landscapes. These landscapes are larger than my usual paintings and it has been great to paint larger. I have been enjoying it. At the same time I have also been working on small canvases and doing oil studies. Below is one that I completed a few weeks ago.

Grassy Alpine Meadow
oil on panel
16×12 inches
available for purchase

I have always rebelled against doing small studies as I am impatient in my process. I just want to get at it. But I am learning that doing smaller studies before committing to my much larger surface makes a lot of sense. Even if I am not strictly enlarging the composition, it is more about getting a feel for the color palette and even the energy of the scene. The painting above was inspired by a part of our hike on Mount Rogers in the southwest corner of Virginia. After my plein air painting excursions in October, I feel like when I am out and about now I see things differently. As I hike, I think about what colors I would mix together or how the light moves so quickly changing everything. One thing that I remember noting on our hike was the texture upon texture upon texture, especially when we were in the grassy meadows. I was hoping to capture a bit of that on this panel.

I have been learning so much in the past few weeks as I work on my landscapes because I approach these paintings in a different way than my usual. It is difficult to put into words as I am still feeling my way through it all. For instance I am still working on how I even want to lay my paint down on the canvas for these contemporary landscapes. I have actually been mainly painting with palette knives. This painting was a combination of brush and knife, but I am preferring painting with a knife. I don’t want to paint a photograph as it is, but my impression of the place. I take great liberties when I work from my photos and I like that. I’m still working it all out and enjoying the journey.

After my pop up show I did last June, I went through a bit of a slump which is strange as it was a very successful show. But I started to question what I wanted to do and which direction as I wanted to go in. In July I had the great fortune to spend a week in Utah, a place I had never been before and I was just struck speechless by the vast landscape in front of me. Recently on my Instagram feed, my friend Dianna Woolley, commented on one of my photos that “Nature’s beauty is more than we can imagine.” And that is how I felt when I was there and how utterly ridiculous our attempts are to create in the face of the raw beauty of the earth. I obviously have gotten over that sentiment, although I still think it’s true…but hopefully I can add to what is out there, in homage of what I love so much.

I found this meditation that I loved when I read it:


Earth teach me quiet,
as the grasses are still with new light.
Earth teach me suffering,
as old stones suffer with memory.
Earth teach me humility,
as blossoms are humble with beginning.
Earth teach me caring,
as mothers nurture their young.
Earth teach me courage,
as the tree that stands alone.
Earth teach me limitation,
as the ant that crawls on the ground.
Earth teach me freedom,
as the eagle that soars in the sky.
Earth teach me acceptance,
as the leaves that die each fall.
Earth teach me renewal,
as the seed that rises in the spring.
Earth teach me to forget myself,
as melted snow forgets its life.
Earth teach me to remember kindness,
as dry fields weep with rain.

{ A Prayer from the Ute }

Happy Thanksgiving to all who are state-side. Be safe in your travels and find warmth and welcome wherever you may land.

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