Friday, December 30, 2011

Local Landmarks

I have always been intrigued by the historic 
architecture here in New England 
and this wonderful gem is right here 
in neighboring Marshfield. 

The Colonel Isaac Winslow House 1699
6 x 6 

It is described on the website as:
"a four square house, built around a gigantic chimney, 
with fine high pitched roof 
and an enclosed Portico in front, 
with wide windows and unusual depth, 
making an entrance hall. 
The house is framed with “gun stock” timbers
 conforming to the “first period Colonial” 
except that it has no overhang to the second story."

The Girls Just Wanna Paint challenge this month 
is "Local Landmarks"
Check out the new posts on our blog Jan.1st! 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Best Gift

A few years ago, the art consultant 
for the new Dana Farber Cancer Center 
at the South Shore Hospital
purchased a dozen paintings of mine 
to hang in the "chemo bays."
This is one of them:
8 x 10 

A few days ago, I received this e-mail:

Dear Nancy,
 My name is Sandra, and I just had my first chemotherapy treatment at the Dana Farber Cancer Center.  I enjoyed your painting entitled STAY,,,of that lovely little dog! :))) As I sat in my chair, I watched your painting as the sun moved across it changing the colors and enhancing the brush strokes...from a bright early morning sun late afternoon golden glow. I have been very sick 
and have not been able to paint in a long time... it gave me hope and inspiration as well... It truly made my day and I just wanted to say Thank you Nancy :)

Needless to say, I could sell a thousand paintings 
and it wouldn't mean as much as that. 
Artist and life coach, Liz Wiltzen, says it all in her latest post. 
Click here to read it. 

Monday, December 26, 2011

A Sense of Place

As a participating student in the Karin Jurick 
 field expedition to New York City last year, 
the Sedona Arts Center invited me to
 "choose a piece of work that exemplifies the "sense of place" 
related to the expedition I experienced."
This was a scene right across the street from our class! 

Outside the Guggenheim
8 x 10 

I started this on the last day and didn't get to finish it.
So today I got out my KJ brushes and colors 
and tweeked it.  

Outside the Guggenheim 
8 x 10 

This will be part of the
"A Sense of Place" 
exhibition at the Sedona Arts Center from Jan 25 - Feb 14 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Winter Solstice Gift

When I heard the forecast for today,
(52 degrees and sunny!)
 I decided to celebrate the Winter Solstice 
by painting outside! 

Winter Solstice 
10 x 10 

A friend of mine has a dock on the magnificent 
North River.
The walk to the end was breathtaking!

It was 3:00 and the sun was really low 
making the light very purply and soft.   
I had to work fast so I chose this simple view.  

I was drawn to that  dramatic light coming off
the wet mud at low tide. 

Being out there today was such an incredible gift 
and I was overwhelmed with gratitude.  

Ironically, when I got home, a friend of mine 
 sent me this poem.

The Peace of Wild Things
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds,
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief.  I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light.   For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

- Wendell Berry

Monday, December 19, 2011

Miracle of Birth

The daughter of a very dear friend of mine had a baby boy
last Wednesday
and I got to hold him this weekend!

 There is nothing like a brand new baby.

Baby Archer 
6 x 6 

I guess I will never get over the miracle of birth! 
Hey! Isn't that what we are celebrating these days? 

This was my first "baby portrait".
Yikes. The features are so delicate and soft,
it's hard to simplify!   

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Smart Solutions

Many of my painting pals use acrylics 
and they are always trying to find ways to keep the paint from drying out. 
Sally Dean uses these small containers from the Dollar Store
 in a tupperware tub. 
She just snaps the lid on and goes!

Then I met Susan Guest McPhail and she uses an
extra large "weekly" pill box from Walgreens! 
How prefect is that? 
(I love how the days of the week are marked on the lids!) 

Just thought I'd share these artists' smart solutions 
with you acrylic painters out there! 

Monday, December 12, 2011

"Working" Class

The thing I love about teaching this 
class is that it "works" for everyone.

The eight artists
who invited me to give a class today 
have been meeting every Monday for five years.
They are at all different levels and most of them use acrylics. 
They are a truly dynamic and talented group 
and I was thrilled to be with them today.  

I set up a very simple still life
and used a spot light 
(to exaggerate the lesson on VALUE!) 
I did this quick demo using a large brush 
and thick paint, 
to lay in the big dark and light value shapes. 

Then I set the timer and they were off!

The other four did this set up. 

 More wonderful results! 

For most, this approach is totally different 
from anything they have ever done before.
So during the critique at the end of the class
I like to ask if they will use what they have learned
next time they paint.
Most say yes without hesitation!

That is all I need to hear!
Many thanks to Susan Guest McPhail  and
Judith Schroeter
for making this happen!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

One Hour Warm Up

I am going up to Essex, MA tomorrow to teach a 
"Painting in an Hour" class.
Today I decided I'd better do a "warm up".
"T Travelers" 
8 x 10 

I chose a rather complicated subject because I 
really wanted to challenge myself to work fast and loose. 
These gals were amazingly relaxed while riding a very crowed train!
Clearly "regulars." 

Friday, December 9, 2011

Routine out of order

This time of the year is tough on artists.
Our routine is put out of order!  
I, for one, have been working on commissions. 
(which I enjoy but I get a bit stifled and cramped.) 
I took today off and went to the Museum of Fine Arts 
with some of my artist pals. 

Stephanie, Sally, Patty
This is "Night", part of the two Night and Day larger-than-life sculptures
 created by renowned Spanish artist Antonio Lopez Garcia. 
The sculptures are fondly known as Boston's "baby heads." 

We saw a lot of great art, had some laughs and got inspired.
I highly recommend viewing art 
as an anecdote to the stress of the holiday season! 

Monday, December 5, 2011

From Big to Small. And Back Again?

A few weeks ago, I bought eight of these 5 x 7 frames at IKEA 
with no idea what I was going to do with them.  

Red Cape 
5 x 7 

I guess I was thinking of a series of some kind? Or gifts. 
Today, I was curious to see what would happen if I took my 
favorite "architecture in the landscape" subject,
and painted it SMALL! 
(I have been doing them very large lately. See older posts)  
So, I did this 5 x 7 on my Karin Jurick easel, 
on black gesso board using synthetic brushes. 
It was an interesting exercise. 
I felt like a caged animal!
I wanted to "bust out!"
I think I need to do this as a 16 x 20 as soon as possible.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Girls Just Wanna Paint Opening

We had an opening reception last night for the 
show at the James Library.
Over 80 paintings from 11 past "challenges" were grouped 
together around the gallery. 
We had quite a large crowd, sold 19 paintings 
and everyone seemed delighted to learn about blogging! 
Great job girls! 
I feel so blessed to be part of such a dynamic and talented group of woman! 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Getting in the Spirit

It seems rather odd getting the holiday decorations out 
when it's 65 degrees outside! 
I was having a hard time "getting in the spirit" this week,
until I had my art class with the Alzheimer patients yesterday! 
"Christmas Collage"
by Millie
I invite you to visit my other blog
to see the amazing work they do! 

That will get you in the spirit, for sure! 

Monday, November 28, 2011


I spent yesterday afternoon in the North End.
It was kind of overcast with hazy sunshine,
which made these yellow awnings just pop!    

16  x 20 

I wasn't sure about including the cars, 
but how can you do a painting of the North End 
and not include cars! 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Pure Joy!

"Pure Joy"
6  x 8 

The Girls Just Wanna Paint challenge this month is "JOY" 
A young boy playing on the the beach, to me, embodies pure joy! 
Meanwhile, the "Girls" are having a show of 
previous challenge paintings 
at the James Library 
during the month of December.
The opening is this Fri 
and it promises to be a magical affaire. 
(over 80 paintings, 11 woman artists, and all their friends!) 
Come by if you can!  

Monday, November 21, 2011

To Grid or not To Grid

After my recent post about 
using a grid when painting larger, 
many artists shared my concern that doing a grid 
can stifle spontaneity and an intuitive approach.
 I'm trying to avoid letting that happen. 

Corner of N. Margin
16 x 20
(sorry about the glare) 

Once I got the composition for this laid in, in the proper proportions, 
I had a blast applying all those dark values 
and playing with the paint application.
Knowing the drawing is correct is liberating!  

I'm finding doing a grid an invaluable tool 
with these larger architectural pieces.
Maybe not so much with landscapes and small still lives.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

"Drive By Shooting" painting lesson

I had the delightful opportunity to give a 27 year old woman 
a private painting lesson last week. 
She is a full time nurse who has a never painted before. 

Her Work in Progress

 I gave her what I call my "drive by shooting" painting lesson. 
(Everything I know about painting in one three hour session!) 

"Yellow Pepper"
8 x 10 
by Sarah

She clearly "got it"and we had so much fun, 
she's coming back for more!  

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

"Up sizing" tips (and a critique!)

There is a lot of buzz about painting bigger in the blogger world right now.
I've had inquires about tips I've learned 
during my recent "upsizing".
The #1 one tool that has helped me the most is using a grid. 
I did this 24 x 30 in 2008 
"Weekly Rental" 
24 x 30 
I remember painting it free hand from an 8 x 10 photo. 
Back then, I thought the awkward angles 
and incorrect perspective gave it "character." 
I wouldn't even attempt this now, without using a grid! 
(once you get the drawing right, you can just have fun with the paint!)    

#2 is to change up your equipment! 
I cover a rolling kitchen cart with freezer paper to use for a pallet. 
That way I can squeeze out a ton of paint and 
use a big brush! 

But really, the best tip I've heard along the way about painting bigger has been:
"Try it!" 

News: This blog has just been given a critique by 
"Independent critiques of artwork and artist blogs
 to guide and inform the worldwide art-buying public 
and the commercial art gallery industry" 
(Click HERE to read)
You gotta love this guy! 
What a concept. 
And he's in Australia! 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Glorious Fall

"Glorious Fall"
10 x 12 

We are having a glorious Fall in New England!
The colors are almost surreal. 

I read somewhere that Ernest Hemingway 
always wrote the first sentence to his next chapter 
before leaving his typewriter for the day.
That way, he could be thinking about 
what he was going to write next
 the whole time he was gone. 

I like to have my next painting mapped out on the easel 
before I leave the studio for the day. 

I did this before I left the studio last night. 
That's what motivated me to get to it this afternoon.
I couldn't wait!  

Friday, November 11, 2011


 I've been spending a lot of time in the North End of Boston lately. 
While walking down the narrow, bustling streets and alleys, 
I noticed how the sunlight "pops" off all those brick buildings. 

North End Peek
16 x 20 

I rarely do cityscapes because I find "all that stuff" rather overwhelming! 
I had to force myself to only focus on the big shapes here.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Tis the Season!

Tis the season for "Small Works" 
that make wonderful gifts. 
This weekend the NRAS is hosting it's annual 
Holiday Sale!
Check it out here.  
Here are just a few of my pieces I've submitted 
at very reasonable prices! 

Three's a Crowd 
8 x 10 

Fall Goes Out with a Bang
9 x 12 

Heading Out 
8 x 10 

Stop by if you are in the neighborhood! 

Monday, November 7, 2011

"Post Tweak"

"A Cape"
24 x 30 

Here is the painting I did on Saturday 
"post tweak."
I adjusted the value of the right side of the house, 
lightened some of the trees in the background.
Re-stated the door, and lightened the sky.
I feel much better about this now.  
Note:  This image was taken outside so the colors are much more true.  
(The previous post image was taken using the light on my easel, 
making it look too pink)  

Saturday, November 5, 2011

I've moved "inland" (away from the beach) 
and am now happily surrounded by 
my other favorite subject:
quintessential rural New England.

"A Cape" 
24 x 30

This one has been in my head for weeks, 
so today I finally just did it. 
If this were smaller, I'd leave it alone.
But I will go in and tweak this a bit. 
 Eeesh. That is where trouble can start! 
I like the overall feel of this, 
so I don't want to over work it! 

Monday, October 31, 2011

Where the Road Turns
12 x 12 

I only had a few hours to spend in the studio today,
so I worked on this "smaller" painting.   
I guess after my "Big Girl Painting" last week, 
12 x 12 is small! 
Still exploring the late fall light at the beach. 

I have another 24" x 30" canvas
and a subject ready to go. 
Now I just need a good long chunk of time to work on it!

Note: Be sure to check out the new posts on the 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Even Bigger!

In keeping with my challenge to paint BIGGER, 
last week I bought two 24 x 30 inch canvases.
(That's really BIG for me!)  

24 x 30 

Painting this big makes me feel like a "real" painter!  
The bigger the painting, the more accurate it has to be, 
so I took my time and planned ahead.
 I wanted to put the strokes down and leave them, 
like I do with smaller paintings.  
It was hard not to go over and over again. 
Like painting a house!   

Note: I purposely left the pole in the middle of the composition  
because I love to break rules.
It causes tension.    

Sunday, October 23, 2011

"The James"

The Girls Just Wanna Paint challenge group
has been invited to have a show 
at the James Library this December.
In preparation, our challenge this month is to paint 
"The James". 

The Steinway  
6 x 8 
(I archived the photo I used for this painting years ago
 with the idea of painting it someday.)

The James Library is a very special place to me. 
There are three floors, each dedicated to art, books, and music.
My three passions, thanks to my parents.  

 I asked my friend Ellen Mckenna,
the current board chair and music aficionado
for a little history of this beloved piano.
This is what she sent me:
"The Steinway grand piano at the James is a treasure. It was built in 1929,
and is a "B" model Steinway, larger than a baby grand by about 3 feet in
length. The James was lucky to acquire the piano from an amateur musician
who lived on the Cape.  Towards the end of his life the musician wanted to
sell the piano to an organization that would treasure it and allow it to be
played in chamber concerts and recitals. Paul Rattigan, who took care of the
piano for the musician, was the contact who brought the James and the piano
together. A fundraiser was held by the James to raise enough money to
purchase the piano in 2000. Since that time it has been the focal point of
many wonderful concerts by both local and "celebrity" musicians. It has also
been played by countless lucky piano students during their piano lessons at
the James. Paul Rattigan continues to keep it in perfect playing condition. "

Our daughter took piano lessons on that piano.
I had my first showing of my art work there in 1996!
What a gift. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

October Light

October Light
12 x 12 

I can't get enough of the light at the beach these days. 
It's so dramatic!  
I guess I'm storing up for those cold and dark winter days ahead. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Re-work an Old Painting

I did this painting about a year ago. 
I always thought it had potential 
but the figures bothered me, 
as did the lack of drama in the shadows. 

"Beach Morning"
16 x 20 

I took out the figures, darkened the shadows 
and fooled with the sky.
I think the jury is still out on this one.