Sunday, December 30, 2012

Dairy Free, Gluten Free Pumpkin Muffins

The hunt for ways to incorporate healthy food into my very very picky children's meals keeps me ever vigilant for recipes that *might* find their way into the rotation of three foods (well, three HEALTHY foods!) each child willingly eats.  Both of my kids have always been huge fans of pumpkin bread, but once I discovered Jack's food sensitivities and started following the Feingold diet as much as possible, I knew I had to make some more changes for his diet.

For Jack, he does not seem to have an intolerance or reaction to gluten, (although I know I feel better, my skin looks better, and my "brain fog" lifts when I avoid gluten) so I normally don't bake with gluten free flours.  However, I have noticed that all dairy and cheeses (even Goat cheese) do bring out the short tempered, over-emotional Jack.  So I really love this recipe, which I first found on, because it uses a small amount of gluten-free flour and it calls for black beans instead of butter.

I believe the original recipe was for bread, but I make this into 24 cupcakes (using non-bleached paper cups from Whole Foods) and they are perfect for lunches, car rides, and snacks.  They freeze great, too!

(psst...about two seconds after I took this photo I ate that muffin!!!)

Gluten Free, Dairy Free Pumpkin Muffins

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees.  Line two muffin trays (24 muffins) with dye-free, bleach free baking cups

Wet ingredients - place all in a blender

One can black black beans, drained and rinsed (I like the organic black beans from Trader Joe's)
One can pumpkin puree' (any brand works well)
2 Eggs
1 TBL Vanilla Extract (it's more than usual, but necessary!)

I pulse all of the wet ingredients in my blender until the beans are completely obliterated.  The first time I made these, my kids actually said "Why are there chocolate chips in the muffins?" when they saw chunks of black beans :)

In a large bowl, mix your dry ingredients

1 1/4 cup Gluten Free Flour**
1 TSP Baking Soda
2 TSP Baking Powder
1 Cup Organic Cane Sugar
1 TSP Cinnamon
1 TSP Nutmeg
1/2 TSP Salt
1-2 TBS of Flax Seed (optional)

If you like, you could add a 1/2 cup of raisins or chopped walnuts

**I have tried this recipe three different ways - two different gluten free flour blends and once with regular whole wheat un-bleached flour.  All three came out great, so I think you can use the favorite flour of choice

Slowly add in your pre-pulverized wet ingredients.  (I usually have to take apart my blender to scrape all of the yummy pumpkin mix from the blades!)

Scoop a heaping tablespoon or two into each muffin cup.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, checking the progress with a toothpick.

Enjoy :)

Recently added: dairy free gluten free Vanilla Banana Muffins

Monday, November 19, 2012

New Painting Striped Tights and Sunlight

So here's the problem with taking a painting workshop like the one I did with Casey Baugh.  The second you walk back into your studio EVERYTHING you have painted before looks horrible.  You immediately see all the mistakes in every brush stroke, color choice, and composition.  You want to build a huge bonfire and burn every canvas.

OK that's a little bit of an exaggeration, but truly, it was overwhelming at first.  I am very proud of all of my work, but I had to realize that I hadn't learned anything new in about 10 years.  I was still painting the same way I painted in graduate school.  Fresh ideas, fresh perspective, can be a bit overwhelming.

Luckily, after about an hour of wandering around, frustrated with the work I had already started and not confident enough to start anything new, I happened to turn the corner and stumble upon this.

Matt the sculptor has slowly been de-constructing his beautiful sculpture (deep breath - he has already made the mold!) and using the clay to make new figure studies, which, apparently, he uses to entertain himself by randomly perching them on the woman's breasts, head and armpit.

OK so mission accomplished. I laughed.  Got over myself.  And got back to work.

I used a reference photo from a session with a model almost 2 years ago.

Start- with Casey in my head, blocked in rather than draw the figure.  Focus on value, not color.  NO detail.

I admit it was hard to just hint at the features of the face, consider them as shapes and values, not eyelashes and lips.

The finished painting.  

Detail of the face.
12" x 12", oil on prepped wood panel.

What I am so excited about is SEEing the whole process in a new way.  Granted, Casey's way of painting is still vastly different than what I am doing (who wants to be someone else anyway?!?) Blending his technique with what I already knew, which - after a few days of depression - was not all wrong.  That was what brought out this painting.  And I am so excited about what's coming next.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Casey Baugh Workshop Wrap Up

OK obviously I am going to have to wrap this up or there will be nothing new on my blog for another month!  The last two days of the workshop were a lot of fun.  Day four was designated for painting the model outdoors.  We took a short walk around as a class, scouting for a location.   Close to the Atelier there were a lot of interesting backdrops, including some abandoned buildings covered in old brickwork and graffiti.

Once we settled on a couple spots (some artists opted for landscapes/cityscapes without the model) we had to move our supplies from the school to the location.

This is Hawiian Landscape Artist Curtis Cost carrying his easel - with a smile :) 

Several of us chose to work with this model on this interesting old platform.   (ok - here is one of those frustrating situations.  I was helping several artists go back and forth with easels, and ended up not only losing my original spot to another artist, but the model was set up before I got back.  It was, in my opinion, a very un-inspired pose in a very inspired setting.  But you have to shake these things off in a class.  You are only one voice in a group, and even - like me - when you are a loud voice, things don't always present the ideal situation.)  So I painted as much as I could, got some great feedback from Casey, then painted over my painting when I got home.

This is Shelli, who writes a blog called the Traveling Artist.  As the sun moved during the day, it was very entertaining to watch Shelli cover her head with various makeshift wraps and scarves made out of paper towels to block out the sun.

Right next to the platform where we were painting outside was an abandoned building that looked straight out of the book "The Road".  In spite of the soiled mattresses, broken glass, and the smell of...well, let's not think about what the smell could be...there was a cool shaft of light coming from the open roof, perfect for Thomas Voorhies to set up his easel.  Tom is one half of the pen name Lex Thomas.  They just wrote their first novel, Quarantine.  I'm guessing some of this environment might make it into Tom's next book.  I actually took a bunch of photos of our wonderful model up against that cool brick wall in the background.  I can't wait to paint a few of them.

As the day progressed, the sun moved, washing out the model, and warming us a tad too much.  Many artists headed back to the studio for some shade, and I actually skipped out a bit early so that I could return to the atelier in the evening for some practice at their live model session.

The final day of class was a lot of fun as well.  Casey brought in the painting of his daughter playing piano, which won an award at the 2012 Portrait Conference.  It was amazing to see it in person, to hear Casey talk about the process, everything from the source photo to the painting technique to selecting the custom frame colors.  

Casey then selected one of the artists from class to pose for him (aaaggghhhh!!!! Could you imagine?!?!?) He shot about 50-60 photos of her laughing and smiling, then showed us his process for editing, eliminating, selecting, and even enhancing a source photo to paint from.  This was incredibly helpful for me, since I am constantly shooting inspiration photos.

Casey sets up his easel and monitor very close together, aiming to work from a source as close to the size of the painting as possible.  (Not sure if this is considered the same as the sight-size painting method.)

At the end of the demo, Casey auctioned off both demos - the one from the first day and this painting.  Of course I am NOW kicking myself for not bidding!!! So be prepared: if you take his workshop, set aside some money to bid - if you don't you will regret it later :)

So...was the workshop worth it?  Absolutely.  Casey is a very effective teacher.  He is able to work with anyone's style and palette, finding good aspects of each painting and encouraging each student to look at different ways of seeing and then applying paint.  Watching Casey paint was, IMO, the best part.  Seeing him make a bold brushstroke to add in a deep shadow, or a soft stroke across the mass of hair just to add a hint of color, each stroke taught me something about how to use the paint and the brush.

My tips for taking a workshop:

1.  Make sure you are at the appropriate skill level for the class.  
Several of the students in this group seemed to be novice portrait painters.  This was listed as a Master Class  - I think the artists who got the most of out the class had portrait experience.

2.  Be open to the teacher's techniques.
You are not there to do the same thing you always do.  What's the point? TRY the teacher's techniques - even if it is TOTALLY different from the way you normally work.  This is not the time to make a masterpiece in your style - you rarely get the perfect spot with the perfect lighting and the perfect pose for a masterful painting.  This is PRACTICE.  Learn! Besides - even if you do make THE perfect painting, paintings created in a workshop are not eligible for most contests or juried exhibitions. Save your best work for after the class :)

3.  Stop painting and start watching.
I probably spent about 75% of my time at my easel, but also found myself consistently stepping away so that I could watch Casey work with another artist.  Hearing his direction, watching him change a painting, seeing how he mixed paint, was all so helpful.  Granted, I am a pretty fast painter, so I felt ok stepping away from my easel and sacrificing a little painting time.  But it really was important to learn as much as possible from Casey every time he painted. 

I'm sure there are more bits of advice I could share, but the bottom line for me would be:  stay positive, stay focused on LEARNING, be flexible!  Take great notes, ask a lot of questions, and have a good time :)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Casey Baugh Workshop Day Three

Before I get started on day three, I want to mention that the Townsend Atelier was in a great area on the south side of Chattanooga, within walking distance of several other artist's studio.  Our host, Stan (although, for some reason, I called him "Larry" all week!) was kind enough to take us on a short walking tour where we visited a couple of the studios.  Our first stop was at the studio of Mia Bergeron.  Such a cool looking space!

We met Mia (it would have been rude to poke around and sleep in her bed if she wasn't there!), got to see some work in progress, and just enjoyed talking with her about her work.  One of her lovely portraits...

Best of luck to Mia who is participating in a group show titled "Nuance"

We also visited the studio of Brett Weaver (I have no photos!) but please check out his wonderful work.

OK...the painting!  I finished up my painting from day one, then moved to a new spot, looking at her full profile.  This was not an idea spot - very little shadow, kind of a dull view...but I was there to practice! SO onward!

Started with blocking in large shapes, again focusing more on value than color, not getting a perfect drawing right away - just massing it in.

 Casey came by and kept pushing my values under her jaw line.  He has the unique ability to make a shadow look like a shadow, where as I make it look like mud!  

The final painting.  I do like her hair, and the treatment of her blouse - but I would have liked less of a straight ahead stare.  Still...I loved using the technique again, and I was getting used to my new brushes, so that really helped!

Day four...we head outside :)
Have you registered for Casey Baugh's Atlanta workshop that will be held at my studio?!? Get going! Only a few spots left!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Casey Baugh Painting Workshop : Our Turn to Paint

The second day of the workshop has arrived, and we are all eager to try our hand at implementing Casey's great advice.  We set up the model, then drew numbers to see who set up their easel where (I was number 12 of 12...all my luck ran out when I got the last seat in the class :)  but that was OK - I needed to be close to the fresh air by the open door.

Because the group was viewing the model from all sides, I jumped up on the model platform - at Casey's OK - and pinned her hair up in a messy bun.  Those of you who know me are not shocked by that statement at all.  I also plugged in my iphone when there was no music, and yelled "Get back to work!" if the model was back in place.  I'll work on my control issues...I promise!!! (I really won't...but I thought I'd say it anyway!)

First stages of blocking in.  Normally I would sketch out the face in a monochromatic sepia tone and then start applying a local color to the skin.  Not this time!  Shapes and values were the focus.  Color was close, but not exact.  Detail was not the goal at this stage.

A shot of the class - great starts!

Casey has made a full round to check on everyone's work at this point.  I found him to be a wonderful instructor.  He focuses on problem solving - not once did I hear him say someone had the wrong paint, the wrong media, etc.  He worked with your palette and your materials.  He DID give a lot of advice on brushes - good brushes are very important.  

The first time he stopped at my easel he said "great - keep going!" so I did :) The SECOND time he came around, he busted me - brushed out a bunch of area where I was getting too tight, added bold strokes to the background where I was clinging to the first drippy layers, pushed some shadows on the face deeper.  It was so helpful to watch him work!  Advice to you: do not be precious about any of your work during a workshop.  These paintings are for LEARNING - process! Learn! - then implement your new skills when you get back to your studio.

So Casey was having way too much fun painting over my face so I finally said "Hold on! My turn!" took back my brush and sent him on his way :)  I don't have a good shot of my final painting - I'll add it later today .

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Casey Baugh Figure Painting Workshop Recap

Last week I was lucky enough to spend a week painting at the Townsend Atelier with the amazing Casey Baugh.  And I mean LUCKY - I think I got the last spot before he closed admission!  The class was only 12 students, in an open and well-lit space.  

I was first introduced to Casey's work about 5 years ago by a fellow artist who showed me a magazine article on Casey's work.  Beautiful figures in impeccable wardrobes staged in the perfect setting.   Each element of his composition were obviously well thought out and painted with certainty.  Paintings that are so good because Casey was able to make the difficult look effortless.

And of course, since that first sighting in the magazine, I have watched out for new work and kept on eye on his classes and demonstrations.  All made easier, of course, because now you can watch him on Facebook and Instagram, too.  So after making sure Grandma could fly out and hold the fort while I go paint for 5 days, I went ahead and bought my seat in his class!

The first day was dedicated to a live portrait demo.  As soon as Casey started setting up the questions came flying one after another..."what kind of palette is that?" (Edge Pro Gear... SWEET!!!) "how do you line up your colors?" "what kind of paper towels are those?"...and so on.  12 eager students just waiting and hoping for the magic formula...the missing ingredient in our own bag of tricks that will make us paint JUST LIKE CASEY!!! (I really do think it's the blue towels...)

Anyway...why am I still writing?!?! You want to see pictures!

After taking time with the set-up - adjusting light, moving around the model, fixing hair, and thinking through the painting, only then did Casey pick up the brush.  That was important - I tend to think "aaagghhh!!! I'm paying the model! I have to start painting the minute she walks in the door!!!" but then 20 minutes into the painting I see that my set up and lighting aren't that great...take TIME to set up!

I think the panel size was about 12 - 14 inches square. What is helpful with Casey's easel is there are magnets on the case and on the panel - you just stick the panel up and go!

No rush to show that he knows how to paint perfect features: a few quick strokes to plot out the scale.  

Blocking in.  Quick peripheral glances at the model only to determine value.  No detail. No drawing.  Quick mixes of color close but not exact hues.  Value above all else.

Watching Casey use the brush and the paint was fascinating.  The right amount of pressure on the bristles, the right flick of the wrist, made all the difference.

I was amazed at how "late" in the game Casey would boldly put a stroke of dark color on the face or the hair.  No preciousness was felt for any stroke or area - if a change needed to be made, he made it.  Solve the problem.  Whenever it arises. 

Quick shot of his palette.  Light and dark versions of each color - blue, red, yellow, and brown.

Before he declared the piece finished, he carefully added his signature - also an element of the design and composition.  Only when the signature is in could he say whether or not the entire painting felt "done".

This summary really only scratches at the surface of what I learned just by watching Casey paint.  He was incredibly gracious and generous to answer every question, with no pretension:  he didn't know all the answers.  He just knew how he liked to try and solve every problem.   He shared his list of 7 things to think about in every painting, he talked about his mediums (which he used sparingly...if at all) and the business of being in the Art world.  

After the demo we all turned in for the day...for tomorrow...we would paint :)

***Casey Baugh will be holding a 5 Day Figure Painting workshop at my studio in Woodstock, Ga, 30 minutes north of Atlanta, in April 2013.  Visit his website to register***

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Where do I begin?

How can I feel like I have so much to tell you, yet I can't even begin to tell you what's going on?  It's been very busy at the studio, at home, and everywhere in between!

So I will share what I can through photos...and share the long version for another day :)

New Woodstock paintings in the works...

The Barber Shop and Tea Party Restaurant on Main Street

Our Wednesday Evening figure group has been awesome every week - fabulous artists and amazing models.  These are a couple of my recent pieces.  The red ones are watercolor pencil on Wallis paper (12 x 18) and the brown one is oil on canvas (12 x 16)

This is the work board of one of my students for the Value Class that I ran last month.  It was a focus on value, not hue.  If your values are correct, used in good proportions as well, your paintings will be more successful.  It was a great class that I look forward to having again!

One afternoon I set up a nice yellow pear in a little turquoise dish, with the light from the window creating a beautiful sunlight pattern.  From this shot you'd think I had made a great painting.'d be wrong.  It turned out muddy and overworked.  It got painted over.

This painting of a small striped pumpkin turned out much better.  Please ignore what looks like my finger in the upper left corner...

I'm also spending a lot of time researching and implementing a special diet for my son Jack.  It's based on the Feingold diet - the biggest aspect being eliminating artificial food coloring (which we've been doing for a while) artificial preservatives, and various other foods that tend to exacerbate his poor behavior.  While just focusing on food coloring was working for a while, it seems like he still has problems after eating foods that you would think would be ok - such as orange juice, apples or apple juice, milk, grapes, peaches, fresh pineapple, and almonds.  It's a continuous experiment, finding foods that are not only as all natural as possible, but don't contain those foods that may trigger emotional outbursts (yes...all children have behavior issues at some point...but these meltdowns are beyond definition).  If you have any experience with the Feingold diet, or any other elimination diet and behavior, I would love to hear your feedback!  

Monday, October 1, 2012

News from the Studio

I just sent out my latest Art News for October - including an article about my work in Cherokee Life Magazine.  View the whole issue here

Happy Fall!!!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Profile Painting Step by Step

I've developed a really annoying habit.  I go up to complete strangers and say "Can I paint you?"  I could be at the grocery store, Walmart, the gym (on the gym floor - not in the steam room!).  I try to explain that I am a portrait artist and I think they have a great face.  Most people nod politely and then wait for the crazy lady to move along.  But luckily, sometimes they give me a call!

So I met Larry, a very cool guy - and a boxer (although that is only a small part of what he does - he actually does mixed martial arts).  I gave him my card and hoped he would give me a chance to paint him.  And...he did!  My fellow artist, a sculptor, also wanted some portrait practice so we set up a time and met at my studio.

I was working on an oil primed linen, 11" x 14".  I started with a light wash of transparent red oxide, then blocked it in.  I started adding some burnt umber to define some shapes.

This is where we both were at this point - the major size and shape blocked in, continuous minor adjustments on the placement and angles of the jawline and neck.

This is not a great photo, but these darker areas are actually shades of blue and purple.

I used cooler purples and browns on the face that was towards an open window with natural light, the warmer browns and reds were on the side, closer to an artificial yellow light source.

I continued to search for planar changes on his cheekbones, and adjusted the size of his ear.

In the final moments I added some definition to the background, adding some color, and just a small amount of highlight to his eye.

So...until I grab the next un-suspecting model...happy painting!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Still Life Paintings in the Studio

Over the past few weeks I have worked on several small, 8" x 8" still life paintings.  Kind of practice for myself, to step away from the figure and the portrait, to play with color, etc.

And this is a 9" x 12" oil on canvas

Most of these paintings are done in only one session, 90 - 120 minutes.  A couple areas are touched up in another short session, but I try to get a direct impression as quickly - and as fresh - as possible.

Ever since I built in the still life and storage shelves, I had been collecting all kinds of little cups and saucers and great fabric.  My favorite pastime is filling up my shelves with new little characters to work with!