Friday, July 9, 2010

Introducing Dusty Pines

in my heyday!

when i was a child, i created art using anything that came to hand - pastels, poster paints, homemade egg tempura, crayons 'n' coloring books (tho i could never stay within the lines!), paint-by-number kits (ditto!), old oatmeal boxes covered in newspaper papier-mâché - anything!

my first en plein air painting - at least, the plastic flamingos on the lawn were real!

mom got me a book of art & craft projects and we did every one of them - some of my happiest childhood memories are in this book!
then my health started going (i have multiple chemical sensitivity etc.) & i couldn't use glues, paints, crayons, etc.; all that was left were pencils. decades later, i discovered Betty Edwards' Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain and worked to improve my drawing skills. i had read somewhere that all "real" artists have to be able to draw hands (?!!), and was quite relieved when i found i could!

twenty odd years ago, i took a pencil drawing class. i enjoyed learning more about drawing (and the free child care!), and carved out time from children, working, and returning to school to practice.

but drawing didn't hold the allure for me that painting did, and i let it drift away.

then, two years ago, i discovered M. Graham walnut oil paints. wowie!! to thin the paints and to clean the brushes, you just use plain walnut oil - no toxic chemicals! what joy - after nearly 50 years, i could finally paint again!

these paints are a pleasure to use - the texture is sumptuous, they smell divine, and the colors - oh my! brilliant jewel tones, rich earthy shades, seductive transparents . . . the only downside is, they take a long long time to dry - 3 to 4 weeks is average. this does mean, tho, that i can paint wet-into-wet (or 'a la prima') nearly forever! (hmm . . . can 'a la prima' be 'forever'?!)

this came off my easel a week ago & still smells & feels wet!

since i can't take classes, i've been reading every teach-yourself oil painting book i can find through the library. the first one that got me to put paint on canvas (well, actually, gessoed cardboard - a good cheap way to start practicing!) was J. M. Parramon's The Big Book of Oil Painting. it had been so long since i painted, my childhood playfulness - and confidence! - had evaporated. so for my first 'real' painting, i copied one of his examples - and quite surprised myself!

this is painted using only prussian blue, burnt sienna, and titanium white

by the time i read Steve Allrich's Oil Painting for the Serious Beginner, i was ready to try painting en plein air (at least for part of the painting) - and with lotsa color!

you can see the corrugation in the cardboard in this one!

i also study paintings in local galleries, and ask zillions of questions on the open studios tours. (we have an amazing number of truly talented artists here, who've answered even my most basic questions - which has really helped me!)

this one really made me feel, "i can do this!"

as i keep painting, i'm gaining confidence! i've had a few paintings in the local gallery - and i even sold one! i will be offering paintings for sale here, especially as i build up my body of work.

i get so much joy from the whole painting process - the smell, the feel of the paint going on the canvas, solving composition & other problems, watching the picture take form - that it's like reclaiming an important part of my life. and the more i paint, the more things i want to paint!

if i have the photos of works-in-progress, showing the steps toward a finished painting, i'll post those too. i do still lifes, landscapes (both from photos & plein air), manips - pretty much whatever strikes my fancy. i mostly paint wet-into-wet, but sometimes i let a painting dry & do glazes (like the old masters did!). i don't, i think, have a clearly defined style yet, but i do sometimes say it's a combination of representational, surreal, and/or abstract! or maybe it's just that i still can't get myself to "stay within the lines"!

next post: a tour of my studio!


  1. Hi Dusty - I enjoyed seeing your work and reading your story. I agree - the more I paint the more I want to paint. I haven't been able to give up solvents completely, but like the Graham paints and was at a presentation Mr. Graham gave about them, and think the quality is excellent. I too have received so much inspiration from the books of a number of different artists ( I wrote about it here. Take care and keep painting! Ann Radley

  2. thank you ann! i do sometimes get wistful when i read abt artists who can use mediums, and their paintings dry faster . . . woulda been fun to see the presentation! i'll go check out that link!


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