Monday, December 21, 2009

Reuben Tam - American 1916-1991

I have recently "discovered" the abstract landscape expressionist paintings of Reuben Tam. Although born (and died) in Hawaii he spent much of his life painting and exhibiting in New England & the eastern US.

He was a beloved teacher at The Brooklyn Museum Art School, where he encouraged his landscape students to explore the geology beneath as well as the topography of the land. Another lovely pairing of science & art.

It has been difficult finding information and images...if anyone has other sources, please let me know. I will be looking for him in museum collections; Met, Whitney, Brooklyn in NY; Lowe in Miami, Smithsonian in DC, Farnsworth, Reading (PA) and San Diego.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Back in the Studio

Foggy Break is a studio painting done from my own photo references and recollections. I started the year trying to include water in most of my it has been a dominant theme in both my plein air and studio work. I used a limited palette to convey the mood of an early day breaking through the fog. This is one of my favorite surfaces; Art Spectrum Colourfix paper with a mix of soft pastels....I have and use most every high quality brand available...and operate on the theory that one can never have too many pastels. They may look disorganized on my table, but I keep all my boxes sorted for value. Hard, soft, in between, French, Dutch, Australian, US made, red, green yellow, purple all jumbled together with others of their same value.

This 12 x 16 painting is being shown at The Butternut Gallery in Montrose through the holidays. 570-278-4011, along with French Broad & Roadside Flora...not ladies of ill repute as their names coincidentally might suggest.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Reflections of a Wanderer

Thanks to everyone who came to my solo exhibit at Orazio Salati Gallery Friday night in Binghamton. It is always a thrill for me to see my work hung & lit well in a lovely large gallery. I know many of you enjoyed it, too. Such a lovely evening. The show will be up until November 28 at 205 State St Binghamton. It will be open on Saturdays from 11-3, but you can call Orazio at 607.772.6725 for an appointment to view the paintings. The title refers to reflections of the mind as well as water & other reflective surfaces. There are some paintings from my travels and, as usual, about half the work is en plein air (painted out of doors on location).

There were many pleasant surprises of the evening; two are seen cousin, Liz Tilley and my daughter, Zoë Tilley Poster. Do we look related or what?

And a favorite friend from Girl Scouting showed up that I hadn't seen in some 45+ years!
Thanks to all who made my First Friday opening a wonderful one.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Big Gold Tree - Demo

Here is the finished painting (bottom) that I started on October 12th in front of those of you that watched the pastel demo at my studio. It was born of a sketch from my mind rather than a photo or plein air study. I am happy with the gold glow of this pastoral autumn scene. I like the various textures. It has a lot of energy, but still conveys a quiet peace. The composition is a little quirky, which I like, but it works.

I've included the top image which is how I left it that day after about one and a half hours of intense work. The middle image represents another couple of hours work, as does the final one...add an hour for sketch work...and several hours of looking and framing...and selling.

I am often asked how long it takes me to make a painting. My temptation is to say " four hours and 40 years"...meaning it used to take me a long I know what I am doing and it still takes me a long time because I am not so easily satisfied. That said, some paintings paint themselves and some sell themselves, but that is not the norm....most take hard work...and time....and I love it.

It is 14 x 19 and will be for sale soon at $650 framed.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Nasturtiums Demo

Monday during the Artists' Open House Weekend I painted this bouquet for my watercolor demo. It is on a hot pressed surface; Strathmore 500 illustration board. Most of this was done during the initial one and a half hours. I had been studying the pitcher of flowers for two days as it sat in my studio. And I spent some time putting a few finishing touches to it on Tuesday. Maybe it is done now. I will look at it a bit more before it goes into a frame. I am very happy with the way the orange flowers pop out from the grey background. It has a certain looseness that I like. Of course it could always be time.

Thanks to everyone who nice to have a truly interested audience who actually love to watch paint dry.

Friday, September 04, 2009

My Barn Flower Box

This display of Gleam nasturtiums and Midnight Sun pansies has greeted me daily as I go about my garden chores and it is the last of the August paintings...a small four inch square watercolor.

I set out to paint every day in August and I almost did that (missed 2 days). Some paintings took more than a day or two to complete. I ended up with about 14 new framed paintings, manyof them gardens or flowers.

I like working on projects. I enjoy waking up every day and thinking about what I am going to paint that day. Projects lend a certain focus to my work. I appreciate the continuity; not allowing interruptions to derail my painting. I also got some ideas for larger studio paintings to work on in the coming months.

During September I will be adding to the Fifty State Plein Air Painting Project, visiting New England. And I'll be preparing my new work and messy studio for visitors during the Artists' Open House Weekend October 10, 11 & 12. On October 12th I'll be demonstrating watercolor here at the the studio at 11 am and pastel at 2pm. Please join me. I will be happy to answer technique & materials questions as well as those on "art."

My Day at Gibbs

These are two of the last August Painting marathon pieces; both done as the guest at Gibbs Garden Center, LeRaysville, PA last Saturday. The morning especially threatened rain which allowed me to have a really active sky in each painting. They are each about 2-hour paintings with minimal adjustments back in the studio. They will be for sale here at my studio during The Artists' Open House Weekend October 10,11,12.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


The new dahlia Touché is looking great with one of the last tall poppies and some fragrant nicotiana. This is a large (16 x 16) plein air piece for me to attempt in one day. I only added a few touches in the studio. It is vibrant & wild & oh, so summery.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Barbara's Garden

Last Monday my friend and I painted in her garden. Hot, humid, stinging bugs of all sizes, but beautiful. I feel I did not do justice to the lovely sunlit corner of her garden with two tall lilies, some bronze fennel, clethra and dazzling glancing morning sunlight. To say it was sultry is a definite of us dripped sweat all over her painting. Therefore I am calling my little pastel a "sketch". I hope to re-visit this same lntriguing scene later...maybe even during the winter with my photographs and my plein air sketch to make a larger studio painting

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Williams Pond

August 9th I wrote:
This morning the haze & mist hung heavy over Williams Pond. It is a location that I have been painting and drawing for 30 years. It is, so far, quite unchanged. This is the initial lay-in; defining shapes, values and suggesting colors. It was too wet outside today for pastel painters so I worked on this inside. I like the way mist & haze transforms space and distance and makes my familiar surroundings look alien.

Today I have almost finished the painting of Wiliams Pond 10 x 15 inch image size.

Monday, August 17, 2009

My Hummingbird Garden

This is a bright corner that I planted with all sorts of vivid plants; huge gleam nasturtiums, thai basil, portulacas, sparkler geranium, salvias, daylilies. Only problem for the hummers is the cat likes to sleep there, but the birds are way smarter than this particular large grey doofus of a cat and they are frequenting the tall red beebalm on the other side of the garden.

The drawing is my partial sketch using a pastel pencil on colourfix paper.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


That's the name of the short (but loud) dahlia in the lower left - Wowie! It's a lovely bright section of my garden and this is what I got done in a couple of hours this afternoon...dodging rain drops...even a few drops are cause for umbrellas & plastic when working outside with pastels. I will add a few foreground flowers before it's done. And it is too weighted on the left right now. I'll fix it tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Birthday Bouquet


This watercolor of a bouquet that my daughter picked from her garden in Scranton took me forever! I'm glad I didn't count the hours. This is the second day I worked on it and it's only 4" square! This happens to me with watercolor. I get hung up in the details and that's not where I want to be right now. It's on Fabriano paper. I used the complimentary colors of the zinnias & ageratum. Can't wait to get back to some larger pastels.

Saturday, August 08, 2009


Never say never. Watercolor is not a choice I ever make for plein air work...except for yesterday. Seated at the patio table facing my new Stargazer lily in a pot, I was tired. It was late and I felt I could probably manage a small watercolor. I painted it while my husband grilled up some burgers and corn. (Thank you, dear.) It's on rough Arches w/c paper and I did most of it with a 1/2" flat chisel brush (ran in the studio for a small pointed round for the masking fluid.) It has good contrast & movement and great color! It was worth it's while and it'll be in a 10" maple box frame and on the studio wall soon. I'm pretty sure it will outlast the one in the pot I'm about to feed to some delighted critter in my garden.

Friday, August 07, 2009

"Arena" Lily

Maybe I will feel better about this painting when I don't still have the real lily blooming in my garden. Right now I'm a little lukewarm about it. I was battling with a paper I haven't used much lately...Sabretooth from Canada...salmon colored. I loved the old paper and then it was discontinued and then the new one came out. I don't like it as much. OK, I'll stop whining now.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Bella's Garden- done?

Finished...for now anyway. What a fun painting this has been. Today I added a few more flowers & leaves and made sure that your eye would travel all around the garden. The reflecting ball is very compelling and I may make some adjustments to the painting if that seems to be a problem. Paintings need to settle for awhile before they are declared finished.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Day 2 of Bella's Garden

I told you yesterday it was going to be strong & wild & chaotic, didn't I? Today I added the colors. I started with the blooms and suggested foliage. I spread the colors all over, not just in one spot. I maintained the vibrant action in the painting and I had a great deal of fun doing it. Can you tell? I have quite a few layers of pastel in places, so I have had to resort to removing some of it with a #4 bristle flat brush, just in the places I needed to use a light color and didn't have enough tooth left to make it stick. Now I am reaching for my softer brands...Senneliers & Unisons. I need a day to look at it and analyze. A well-behaved painting will tell me what it needs. I think this is one. Check in tomorrow and leave comments, please.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Bella's Garden

OK, I said I was going to paint every day in August, which is not the same thing as creating a new painting every day. There are intrepid painters who have been making "a Painting a Day" for years now. I intend to paint on all days in this month and today I've started a new studio pastel of a delightful garden near Brackney, PA. It's wild and it's bold and it's strong. And it has a blue reflecting ball...something I never felt the desire to have in my own garden...but it is perfect in Bella's. I'm not even going to change the color.

I've been thinking about this painting for about a week. Today I worked out the overall structure in my sketchbook. No need for detail now.

When I felt comfortable with the shapes & patterns, I started working with black & blue Nupastels on my 20 x 24 piece of rose gray Colourfix paper. This painting will be framed with a mat so the paper is actually 6'' larger than that to allow a full border under the mat.

Next, I chose 2 warm and 2 cool medium value colors (orange, blue) and proceeded to energetically develop my abstract "underpainting". There will be quite a bit of chaotic color coming next so I want to have a painting underneath that holds it all together. Hope I've done that.

I am excited about this painting, and I want to keep right on going, but today is my birthday (Barack Obama's, too) and I'm going to a French Restaurant for dinner. So...more tomorrow.

(Still having trouble making my images mind! They 'sit' and 'lie down' wherever they want. Yikes, they are in the reverse order of what I thought I had done. If you know how to control where and in what order images appear, please comment and tell me.)

Monday, August 03, 2009

Third of August

Look what I found in the garden today. This 14 x 11 is just fresh off the easel...might get a few small changes here in the studio. Might not. Also done with a selection of soft pastels; Unison, DianeTownsend and Senneliers by and large with a few miscellaneous others on UArt paper mounted on board.

Most of these August paintings will be framed shortly and offered for sale either at my studio or by one of the galleries I am represented by: Butternut Gallery in Montrose, PA; Orazio Salati in Binghamton NY or The Portal Institute Gallery of Fine Art near Susquehanna, PA.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Albuquerque Hollyhocks

This is a larger studio piece done using my photos from May as source material. It's not quite finished, but this will give a pretty good idea of how it's shaping up. And, in the spirit of a Garden Painting Each Day in August, this is what I worked on August 2.

The image size is 34" x 14" and it is done using a variety of soft pastels on Belgian mist Wallis paper mounted on board.

There are many wonderful things about New Mexico, not the least of which is the healthy condition of the hollyhock and rose foliage. If water is available to the roots and not the leaves, they both thrive. As my husband and I were having a patio breakfast and I was admiring the gorgeous healthy clumps of hollyhocks across the street...a man came out of the cafe kitchen with a basin of water for them. In the desert folks have learned to conserve...water that has washed the greens at the sink is greatly appreciated by the roots of the dooryard flowers & trees. They thrive. The loving attention may be partly responsible.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Afternoon Delight

This is a lovely bright corner of my garden which I painted on the afternoon of August 1. It is a 9 x 12 plein air pastel done in one sitting with no studio work at all.

It's about time I got to paint instead of weed, weed, weed, deadhead, move plants,weed some more. I plan to capitalize on all my back-breaking garden work, by standing at my easel most every August day right in the midst of the weeds and Japanese Beetles...and assorted fungus spores & despicable plant diseases. I'm going to edit all that out and only bring the lovely parts to my palette of pastels.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The Red Shirt

This painting attracted a good deal of attention at the annual Summer Art Exhibit at my studio in Montrose, PA. It is a fairly large pastel at 30 x 20 inch image size. People respond to the sky and the space and it was great fun hearing people's responses and ideas of a story to go with the painting. I'd love to hear yours.

The Red Shirt is in the 13th EMCA Annual Regional Art Exhibition through September 27. The venues are Wyoming County Courthouse Gallery (business hours) and Endless Mountains Council of the Arts Center (F, S, Su 1-5) both in Tunkhannock 570.836.EMCA.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

30 Years of Open Studios

Friday night my Annual Summer Art Exhibit opens here in Montrose, PA with a reception for the artists: Zoë Poster - small clay work, Michael Poster & Melissa Whalen Haertsch - book art...and my recent paintings, of course. It continues every day from 10-6 through July 5th. Directions can be found here.

In celebration of thirty years of home-grown local art there will be many deals; 30% off all framed prints on the wall, including the two new ones; Fig Street Garden and From the Bridge. When certain designated paintings are sold, I will donate 30% of the selling price to one of 5 local charities - Humane Society, Red Cross, Food Bank, Hospital or Library building funds.

Wait, there are more reasons to come... look at some of the paintings from The 50 State Painting Project, set up your easel or sketching chair in the garden any day June 29 through July 5. Bring your friends and family to look at some art or make some art of your own.

Thank you for making 30 years of art a reason to celebrate.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Gibbs Garden Center

Last Saturday I spent the day in LeRaysville, PA as the guest painter at Gibbs Garden Center. This 16 x 20 was an ambitious size for such a complex scene and it took me about 4 hours, by which time the light had completely changed. This explains the often small size canvas & boards that are preferred by many plein air painters. I prefer to work large...and I should have simplified accordingly...but I like it. The gardens are not in full bloom yet, so I'll be going back. It was a fun day...everone at Gibbs is friendly & nice and Grovedale Winery was hosting a wine-tasting while I was painting and the merriment crept into my painting I think. I brought home a couple of nice whites and three plants and a painting! My (artistic license) clothesline adds a nostalgic touch. It really is a very professional garden center that can answer your questions and help plan your gardens and solve horticultural problems.

Monday, May 18, 2009


Last Friday Night FOCUS opened at the Butternut Gallery in Montrose, PA. It is a juried exhibit of local art "exploring our regional sense of place". Included were artworks in clay, paint, photography & various sculpture media. I think it is an exciting exhibit because it explores the breadth of vision in the area of primarily NE PA and southern tier New York state. Artists tend to send their best work when there is a chance of winning cash prizes. I know the three jurors worked hard to select the work and choose the awards. Members of business & community provided the awards.

My pastel painting "For the Birds" won an award. Many of you will recognize it as my daughter's Fig Street Garden in southside Scranton. It is 30 x 20 inch image size - framed to 39 x 29 - and priced to sell at $1600. I also have two other paintings in this exhibit: Snowy Woods & Wyalusing Creek.

Please stop in at the Butternut Gallery & Second Story Books at 42 Church Street- Thursday-Saturdays 11-5, Sundays 12-4 through May 31) to see it and all the other interesting art works. All the art is for sale (excepting those all ready purchased this past weekend, but still onview). Proceeds will benefit Susquehanna County Library and Endless Mountains Health Care building funds.

FOCUS was held to coincide with the now famous Chocolate & Wine Festival held on May 16th in downtown Montrose.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Shady Grotto

Shady Grotto is a recent 18 x 24 pastel painting. The inspiration came from Chanticleer...a public pleasure garden in Wayne, PA. I've been visiting since they opened in 1993. It has inspired me in my gardening as well as my paintings.

This painting will be shown at Marquis Art Gallery in Scranton during May, opening April 24. Please come visit.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Fall Brook March

Friday I got out for a lovely spring day of painting at Salt Springs State Park. This is done from one of my favorite spots; the bridge on Buckley Road. The color palette was surprisingly similar to many of my Arizona paintings done in March of 2007...more water, though. I used an orange-toned sheet of Wallis paper mounted on board and very soft pastels...mostly Unisons. It was a challenging composition, but I think it is complete.

Love to have your comments on Fall Brook March 12 x 12 plein air pastel.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Ides of March Moon


An early morning sighting from my bedroom window
was an auspicious beginning to a fine spring day. I rushed into the studio to capture the feeling of the waning moon and reddening maple buds across the field. I used a minimal number of soft pastel colors (just counted...15!) on Art Spectrum Colourfix paper rose-grey...a small number of colors, but many layers.

March Moon 10 x 10 framed in rustic gold wood frame, off-white matting -

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Snowy Woods

"This is my beauty - all the beauty I wish for: the love of this nature around my home. They talk of Italian Skies. I envy not the Italian. Nor do they envy me. I find no sympathetic beauty in the sky I have not lived under. The Elysian fields are not at the ends of the earth - they are here at my feet."
Charles Burchfield wrote that in Salem, Ohio in September 1914...and it speaks to me.

I have been (for quite some time now) reading Charles Burchfield's Journals; The Poetry of Place. I will be reading it into the foreseeable future (unless my arms give out first). It is abridged, thankfully; the artist wrote approximately 2,000,000 words between the two world wars and gave us wonderful insight to culture & conditions of the time as well as a picture of his own thoughts and career. His watercolors are haunting modernist expressions of nature...including those things usually difficult to depict; sound and heat, for example. You can view some of his work here.

This is one of my recent
studio paintings, Snowy Woods, 19 x 19 (image size) pastel .

Monday, February 09, 2009

First Plein Air Painting of 2009!


My first day out was a balmy 37 degrees! I didn't think I could stand the cold below 40, but determination, calm air, warm February sun this afternoon made my day a success. That and my Zippo Handwarmers!!! (see them in their little soft black pouches lying on my easel? They were in my jacket pockets the rest of the time.) I Love Them...two thumbs up! (Thank you to my husband for a very thoughtful Christmas gift) I had to spend an inordinate amount of time negotiating the back roads looking for A. sun, B. ice-free spot to stand on, C. good scene with water and D. parking space for Prius that I thought I wouldn't get stuck in. It all came together finally and this is the 11 x 14 painting I did on UArt paper mounted on board with an assortment of quite soft pastels. It may get a few touch ups in the studio but this was how it looked when I left the field today at 4pm. Beebe Hollow Road

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Recyling Pastels Sticks

For several years I've been throwing scraps of pastels into a box on my workbench, knowing some day I would try turning the tiny chips and bits into new sticks. I had purchased a delightfully heavy granite mortar & pestle for the purpose of grinding the pieces into a fine powder.

4 or 5 years ago a friend and fellow pastel artist presented me with three pastel sticks she had made herself at a Santa Fe workshop. They were very lovely colors and I saved them...they seemed so precious. A part of me wondered why anyone would spend time recycling used-up pastels when you can buy thousands of colors in varying hardness/softness grades at the flick of the mouse.

Sunday was the day for me to give it a try. Who knew it would be so much FUN! As is often the case with making something by hand it is an incredible thrill to see the project unfolding magically; whether it is baking, woodworking or music. It is just plain rewarding to have a simple project turn out well.

It is basically; select for color, grind thoroughly, add enough water and not too much, roll into a stick-like form and let dry. More thorough directions can be found here from Richard McKinley.

As far as color goes, I had some control, but the results are serendipitous; not a reasonable way to obtain that mysterious shade of smokey blue you forgot to buy. I was surprised at the cost effectiveness, though. I produced 22 pastels at an average retail value of about $3.50 - after deducting the cost of the mortar & pestle, I'm still about $20 ahead! Artists are always aghast at the price of their supplies. Feels like I made something out of nothing!

Sunday, February 01, 2009

E. I. Couse at the Rockwell

I finally dodged the ice and snow storms to travel up to Corning, NY to the Rockwell Museum of Western Art to see the excellent showing of one of my favorite "western" painters; Eanger Irving Couse; A Place In the Sun.

Couse (1866-1936) has influenced me for quite some time. Born in Saginaw, Michigan he was classically trained at the Chicago
Art Institute, the National Academy of Design in NYC and the Academie Julien in Paris. There he studied under Adolphe Bouguereau. Three large Bouguereau canvases are part of the Rockwell exhibit, showing his influence on Couse.

Many of Couse's early sketchbook pages, photographs of his models, plein air oil sketches and figure studies in oil are included in the exhibit; most of these from the years previous to his membership in the Taos Society of Artists.

The exhibit highlights are the figurative pieces from New Mexico...mostly Native Americans, many lit by the moon or firelight. Couse's strength lies in his incredible skill at portraying the (often) crouched human figure and the way light played off of it. His paintings literally take my breath away and it was a very worthwhile afternoon viewing pieces from the Saginaw Art Museum's collection as well as from the Rockwell's permanent collection. I love his unconventional use of strong color.

Couse was a successful artist before he even got to Taos...his wife feared he had made his reputation as a painter of sheep...lovely French pastorals (four on display). His success escalated throughout his life and later.

BTW this museum has some wonderful pieces of very contemporary Native American artists work. I always love visiting to see what they have been adding. The museum building itself is quite the showpiece...all lovely old Victorian structures should be so lucky as to get a facelift like this! Couse show only through Feb. 8!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Three Oranges Times Two


These bright little painterly pastel still life studies brightened my January gloom and look great on my freshly painted lavender grey walls. One includes a clay bottle and the other a little Nan Burti sugar bowl. They are available in the studio for $250 each. The image size is 8 x 10 inches each.

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