First Day of Spring

Happy First Day of Spring!!!

I thought I would share some of my favorite springtime images from last year in my old garden.

Early March, when the bulbs were just beginning to peak out.  Those yellow daffodils are some of the earliest bloomers, if the winter is mellow they sometimes bloom the first week of March!

And my back boarder with some “bouquet” tulips.  I loved them in the garden, but they did not ever make it into the studio for a painting.

I have been busy digging up my old garden and enjoying all the time in the sun.  I will be recreating a long row of purple bearded irises in the new garden, I always loved this view.   However I now realize that irises need to be dug up every 4-5 years or they get out of control!  Even though it looks fantastic.

Sweet William, and Centura in the foreground.  The really tall, fun architectural green stems on the left was a rogue bunch of goldenrod.  At first I did not know what it was, but I allowed it to grow because I like how tall and structured the vertical stems looked,  and they looked great in late August, though they are aggressive and choked out my seaholly and echinacea in this bed.

…and my beloved nicotiana.  I love this plant and its beautiful scale, I think this year I am going to plant it with my dahlias.

Wishing you a very happy Spring season!


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My Full-Color Palette

Today I am starting a series of articles that will focus on the individual oil colors that make up the full-color palette I use on a regular basis.

You may wonder why I have so many colors on my palette and why I do not use a limited color palette. This is because I have chosen to paint with oils in the colorist tradition of striving to capture the visual impression of color and light, versus focusing mostly on depicting form and letting color play a minor role in my artistic expression. By using the colorist methodology of painting, I have found that I need the most saturated version of the colors available, I then have the option to desaturate my mixtures as the situation in the painting warrants. Some of the oil colors on my palette are pure pigments and others are convenience mixtures.

Let me share a bit about my painting process. I use layers of color tints (one or two colors mixed with white) to build up the three-dimensional illusion of space, mass, and value in my paintings. Often I start with pure, intensely saturated color tints, and then refine and desaturate these initial layers of color as the painting evolves by laying additional layers of paint on top of previous layers. I look for color compliments and ways to enhance the visual impression of color and light in my paintings, however I also strive to always maintain a strong feeling of form in my work. This means that modeling and getting the values accurate is equally important to me as it is for accurately capturing the color passages in my paintings.

Because when you’re painting you are using a physical thing, pigment suspended in linseed oil or another medium, some colors do not mix like they are expected to if you follow the rules of color theory and because of that some pigments/oil colors are better than others when working and interacting with other oil colors.

As part of my studio practice I believe in exploration and experimenting with my results and testing what different oil colors interact with others. In this past year I have decided to go back, really investigate the oil colors I use on a regular basis. In the beginning of this investigation, I just painted out a pure from the tube swatch next to a 50/50 mixture of the paint with white and labeled them. Quickly I realized this was not providing me with enough information that I was seeking, so I began to make graduated scaled swatches of each color.

These upcoming articles are my way of organizing and listing out all of the relevant information I know about them. All information is derived from my own experience. I will also share tips and opinions about why certain pigments have a constant place on my daily palette. I will be comparing paints from different manufacturers and I’ll explain which one I prefer and why.

This is going to be a long series of articles and I hope to post a new article each week. However at times, lulls in the frequency may occur, so I hope you will be patient. These articles on the oil colors that make up my color palette is something I’ve been working on already since June 2016 and I look forward to sharing with you some of the discoveries I have found.

So let’s start with a list of the colors I keep on my palette all the time.

This is my daily full-color palette set up. The first column of color swatches are the oil colors straight from the tube. For the next columns (two through five) I mix different whites I use on a regular basis with each color. In each of these columns, for each of the color tints, I tried to mix consistent volumes of white with pigment. This way it would be easier to discern the pigment density of each color and the tinting strength of the whites. The second column of color swatches are made with a mixture of Rublev’s Lead White#1. The third column uses Rublev’s Venetian White. The fourth column uses Gamblin’s Titanium White, and the fifth column uses Williamsburg’s Zinc Buff White. (Eventually I will have an article that is just dedicated to the different whites I use, these four whites are just a few of what I explore and work with.

I know that there are many colors out there, however for this project, the oil colors I personally use and have explored are going to be written about. It is my goal with this project to share with others what I have learned from the different oil colors out there, hopefully you learn something as well and make better and more specific decisions about the oil colors you choose for yourself.

Let’s begin (in no specific order) with a color from my palette.

Cadmium Vermilion/Cadmium Scarlet (PR 108)
Cadmium Orange (PO 20)
Cadmium Yellow Deep (PY-varies)
Cadmium Yellow Medium Value (PY35 or PY 37)
Cadmium Lemon(PY35 or PY 37)

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Cadmium Orange (PO 20)

Cadmium Orange (PO 20)

Information: Opaque, Lightfast
Handling Characteristics: Saturated color when used purely and when tinted with white, cadmium orange desaturates immediately when mixed with other colors and cools down in temperature.

Cadmium orange is a difficult color to use in mixtures however it is indispensable when you need a pure orange tint to lay over other layers of paint. Every time I begin to question why I still keep this color out and keep it a regular color on my palette, I encounter a painting moment when I need to lay a pure orange tint on top of an area and it needs to be saturated and a most neutral orange (by this I mean something neither too warm of an orange or two yellow of an orange and an orange that cannot be mixed from other colors).

When painting flesh tones I use pure orange tints on my upper layers of paint, and am always amazed by how these tints lay down and glow above other colors. Cadmium orange also mixes very well with blues or greens when trying to achieve colorful grays. In fact, its tendency to desaturate the moment it is mixed with another color lends itself to making lovely opaque grays.

Row 1:
Name: Cadmium Orange (PO 20)
Manufacturer: Williamsburg Handmade Oil Colors
My thoughts: I have been using the Williamsburg cadmium orange for the longest time, I like how it stays open on the palette for a long while, I like the tinting strength, and most especially I like the pure middle range orange it is. This is a pure pigment oil color made of PO 20, cadmium orange.

Row 2:
Name: Cadmium Orange (PO 20, PR 108)
Manufacturer: Winsor and Newton Artists Oil Colors
My thoughts: the Winsor and Newton cadmium orange is just a slight tint redder than the Williamsburg. Not much but enough to make a slight difference when laying down a pale tint of cadmium orange on top of another layer of paint. One reason why this cadmium orange may stray towards the red spectrum on the color wheel is because it is a mixture of two pigments PO 20 and PR 108, which is cadmium red.

Row 3:
Name: Cadmium Orange (PO 20)
Manufacturer: Vasari Classic Artists Oil Colors
My thoughts: In the autumn of 2016, I got the opportunity to explore using Vasari cadmium orange and it was a luxury. I especially enjoyed the smooth, creamy texture of this paint, the tinting strength is phenomenal. On the color wheel it falls within almost an identical color spectrum as the Windsor Newton cadmium orange. This is a pure pigment oil color made of PO 20, cadmium orange.

If money is no object, I believe I would use Vasari paint, whereas the Williamsburg cadmium orange is a great deal for its price.

Here is an image of my original swatches I did of the cadmium reds and oranges before I began to make the graduated swatches.


These articles about my color palette and the oil colors I use are the result of my experience and continued exploration. I have purchased all oil colors on my own and I have not received any reimbursement from the mentioned paint manufacturers or art supply stores. The usefulness and perceived attributes expressed here in these articles are my personal opinions.

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Teaching Information Update

I have two openings in my weekend semi-private lessons.

Spring term starts on Saturday, April 1st, and will go for eight sessions. (Please see details for exact dates, as spring term is interrupted with Spring Break and the Easter holiday, and two travel commitments by me). The curriculum for spring term will focus on mastering color with a mixture of color exploration exercises and painting floral still-life setups from life.

Also, this year I have added a summer term. The curriculum for summer will focus on painting flowers from life in the studio and en plein air out in my garden. (A plein air easel is required equipment). The first class begins on July 8th and goes for eight sessions.

*I share my studio with my beautiful and old Abyssinian, Slim. My studio is not metro accessible and students are responsible for their own transportation.

Spring term:
$305 for eight sessions
Saturdays from 10 AM to 1 PM
Meeting on these days: April 1, 29, May 13, 20, June 3, 10, 17, and 24

Summer term:
$305 for eight sessions
Saturdays from 10 AM to 1 PM
Meeting on these days: July 8, 15, 22, 29, August 5, 12, 19, and 26

Fall term:
$305 for eight sessions
Saturdays from 10 AM to 1 PM
Meeting on these days: September 30, October 7, 14, 21, 28, November 4, 11, and 18


Slim looking regal

I had to share a picture of our kitty Slim, she always looks regal.

She is also turning 16 years old this month and is as spry as a kitten sometimes, jumping up on high shelves and scampering around!

We love her.

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My New Garden

“The lesson I have thoroughly learnt, and wish to pass on to others, is to know the enduring happiness that the love of a garden gives.” ( Gertrude Jekyll)


It has been a while since I posted here. I find in times when so much is going on and with the ability to share small snippets via Instagram and Facebook, my tendency to share deeply also goes away. However this month I am choosing to slow down, and to start sharing more, in a slower, more meaningful way.

Garden Plan 1st draft
{first draft of my garden plan}

This morning I am going to share with you what has me so excited, my new garden.

The autumn of 2016 was a whirlwind of effort that culminated with the purchase and move to a new home. November and December were all about packing up and physically moving into our new home. December and January were a whirlwind of boxes, gallon paint cans and all the paraphernalia that goes with a rapid push to get some of the rooms of our new home freshly painted and set up for how we want to live. There is still more to do inside however since February, my attention has been turning outside in focusing on how to move my previous garden to my new outdoor space.

This is what I have to work with, a beautiful, large yard that already had an established vegetable patch in the central open area that receives full sun for at least half of the day. I am so excited about what I’m going to grow here.
9032 Buckner backyard 2

9032 Buckner ext backyard 1

{the existing backyard}

The existing vegetable patch will be host to some vegetables, however mainly annual flowers like zinnias, cosmos and sunflowers will go here. The surrounding flowerbeds that I am creating will host my perennial plants.

Garden Plan final design 20170308

{the plan as of today, it may change, but pretty much this is what I am planning on implementing}

As you can see by my notations, I will have a main central garden, based on  classic English cottage gardens, with pebble paths and gathering areas.  The main one will be for meals and hanging out, and a second play space is for Naomi.  She still has her playhouse and sandbox, and this time the flower beds that surround her area will be filled up with flowers and plants of her choice.  Plus in the middle of the two squares that have (4) “L”s in them will be the peach trees she has been asking for.  She loves peaches and since I told her about how my grandpa had a peach tree in his backyard so he could go out and pick sun-ripened peaches, she has latched onto the idea and has been requesting to grow peaches in our backyard.  So this spring we will pick out two peach trees for her.  The Dahlia bed that will run along the north side of the yard may or may not be implemented this year, it all depends on how much I get done this month with regard to the rest of the garden.

Today the garden is still a construction site with some plants already placed with the vast majority of plants still over at the old garden. As you can see, the layout is established with the black garden fabric that denotes where the gravel paths will be. I used the lasagna method of establishing flowerbeds, this utilizes a layer of cardboard placed on top of the turf with a thick layer of compost and leaf mulch placed on top (5 to 6 inches deep). I then place my plants in each flower bed as I have planned and fertilize everything.  I will then layer another layer of mulch on top of everything once things are settled.
9032 Buckner today 20170308-01

9032 Buckner today 20170308-02

9032 Buckner today 20170308-03

March is going to be a crazy month, full of digging, lugging and relocating my beloved plants. Some plants are especially sentimental as they are from dear friends and now I almost consider them family.

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