Sky Pads 11 goes to court

Yesterday Sky Pads 11 pretty much literally “sailed” into the Old Courthouse in Woodstock, Illinois (it was a very windy day, and the 4′ x 5′ painting really felt as if it would enjoy going wind-surfing).  It will be on display in the “Women’s Works 2018” show at the Old Courthouse Arts Center from March 1 through April 14.


The Old Courthouse and the historic town square it sits in have been a focal point of Woodstock for well over a century.

In case artists get hungry, they can just slip downstairs to the Woodstock Public House!

I cribbed the following information from the city’s website:

The Old McHenry County Courthouse, the majestic anchor of the bustling Historic Woodstock Square, was designed by John Mills Van Osdel, chief architect of the Palmer House in Chicago, and erected in 1857.  Located in the exact center of McHenry County, the building was joined by the accompanying Sheriff’s House & Jail in 1887, and issued landmark status by the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.  For over a century, the Old Courthouse served thousands of residents from throughout McHenry County until a new government center was built in 1972.  Local residents purchased the historic buildings in 1973 and established an art gallery, studios, restaurant and museum space.  The Old Courthouse Arts Center gallery space is in use and managed by Northwest Area Arts Council, a volunteer arts agency that showcases this area’s abundant artistic talent through a continuous series of public exhibitions offered at no charge to the public, as well as a sales shop with custom jewelry, pottery, and artworks.


The center of Woodstock Square is a lovely little park, complete with gazebos for entertainment in warmer months. Even in February, the area beckons passers-by to wander in.

Betting this will be a lot greener in a month or so.


Around the corner from the Courthouse, also facing Woodstock Square, is the Opera House.

Architecture critics are welcome to chime in on this one.

Lazy writer that I am, I cribbed some interesting Opera House trivia from Wikipedia:

It was built in 1889 and is one of the oldest continuously operating theaters in the country. It is mainly a Victorian style architecture, oddly combining some Early American, Midwestern, Gothic, and even Moorish elements. The interior is modeled after the showboats of the time, with dimensions and decorations that imitate many of those grand floating theaters. Perhaps the most notable performer to grace the stage was Orson Welles, who grew up in Woodstock and to whom the stage was dedicated in 2013.

So, if I get lucky (hah!) Sky Pads 11 will encounter a gallery patron who can’t resist taking it to its forever home and I won’t have to return to Woodstock to pick it up. Although I have to say, I really do enjoy the ambiance of this old-fashioned Midwestern town.

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The hardest part is now drying

Soon to be under some other layers

OK, word(s) of warning: 1) don’t look at the previous post and expect the colors to be the same; first one photographed in daylight, this one in halogen light. This one is a little closer to reality. And 2) as usual this lovely image will soon be under a lot more paint, as is normal for the Sky Pads series. However, it will not, if I can contain myself, be almost completely obliterated as some of the previous ones have been.

So, hang in there, hold on to your hat, and we’ll see what happens.

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Unveiled! (or unpuzzled…)

OK, we can “unpuzzle” it now

Suzanne received her husband’s gift portrait of herself and her horse Gio (aka Giovanni Francis Patrick), and wrote to me “I received my painting and I love it! It captured a special moment!” I think the dramatic lighting made it an “especially special” moment.

You know, that’s all the feedback I ever ask for! So can you see all of the painting colors in the original puzzle? Gotta love Photoshop!

Had no idea what Photoshop’s “stained glass” filter would do. Looks more like a mosaic, but whatever…


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Looking to the sky again

Now that all my commissions (so far) are out of the way, I’m heading back to the Sky Pads project. This upcoming painting falls into the “sorta large” category, 50″ x 32″, and will be number 14.

Preliminary wash of three colors–lemon yellow, magenta, phthalo blue

Right now it looks a bit more like roses than lily pads, but I won’t let that get in my way! I used paint thinner instead of turpentine to thin the wash this time around. I didn’t use it in any of the previous 13 paintings and had forgotten what nice textures it creates when it lets the pigment float on top and separate as it dries rather than sit on the canvas in a smooth flow like turpentine does. By chance I discovered a can of paint thinner in my supply drawer as I was poking around, took the hint and let fly.

Commission update–

Had no idea what Photoshop’s “stained glass” filter would do. Looks more like a mosaic, but whatever…

It’s been a long time–almost a month–since I posted this disguised version of a secret commission. It’s been completed and delivered, but so far I haven’t been advised that it was presented to its intended recipient. Will post the real thing as soon as I know.

Gallery show news–

I applied to four juried shows so far this year, got the “buzzer” rejection on one of them and the “ding-dong” acceptance on two. Still waiting on one more.

Sky Pads 3 went to the Carnegie Center for the Arts 2018 regional competition in Three Rivers, MI

“monster” painting, Sky Pads 11 will be going to Women’s Works 2018 in Woodstock, IL

Waiting on “Heartland–Images of Small Towns and Rural Midwest” at the Tall Grass Arts Center in Chicago Heights, IL. I entered three paintings, but galleries seldom jury in all of the entries by one artist. Won’t have a verdict on this show until mid-March.

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So, what’s the big deal about painting snow?

Finished at last

It took immensely longer than necessary to finish this painting because…snow. I did three different versions of the snow and the light falling on it before I finally hit on this one. I had scoured the internet looking for photos of light at night that would work with this particular house and was having zero success. So why didn’t I just go back to the cottage after the foot and a half of snow had fallen this month and take some more photos? 1) It was closed up for winter, and 2) even if it hadn’t been, I had no desire to stand around in near zero degree weather waiting for just the right moment. I already had good photos of the house with snow on the ground, I just didn’t have any kind of dramatic lighting.

This painting was cobbled together from a full daylight photo, night photos with lights on  taken in summer from a boat on the lake, and dusk photos taken also with the lights on. While these photos worked for the lit windows (I had to cut them from one photo and paste them into another in Photoshop) there was no dramatic reflective or emanating light because what was coming from the windows just wasn’t intense enough. It was up to me to make something up.

At my wit’s end, I mentioned my predicament to a friend. She is a realtor, and just by chance she thought she had the perfect photo of a lit up house and snow right on her phone. It turned out she was right. It had just the right light-to-dark perspective and sequence, although not the color. I didn’t care about the color, I already knew what I was going to use. Just needed a road map to lay it down properly.

So, the last of the four cottage paintings is complete, my client is ecstatic, and I am too.

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Home stretch time

Got the windows all properly lit up, a building off to the right behind the trees, the garden and assorted remains of plants done. There’s a thick coat of white where the snow is supposed to be. Will wait for that to dry and then start layering in the “night blue” base color and the reflections from the windows.

Just a few cubic yards of snow to go, along with a bunch of colorful reflections


In the meantime, here’s another fun Photoshop “distortion” applied to the secret commission of a couple of posts ago. Love the colors!

Had no idea what Photoshop’s “stained glass” filter would do. Looks more like a mosaic, but whatever…


Keep an eye out for possible gallery show news in upcoming posts. I’ve applied to a slew (well, maybe not that many) of juried shows and now just have to wait for the verdicts.

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It snowed today

Well, at least on canvas. Figured I might as well continue the national stormy narrative the USA seems to have going this week.

Looks like the cottage hasn’t lost power yet.

That’s kind of an Easter Egg yellow light, but as usual it’s just a base coat and won’t stay that way. Lots of “stuff” to paint inside the windows, and even though it won’t be particularly in focus it will add a lot of gray/purple/red/brown areas. Having those colors will let me be a lot more generous in choice of reflections to come later on the snow. Meanwhile, I still have to build a snowy brick garden enclosure at the bottom of the deck line.

Oh yeah, and I have that secret commission finally all drawn out on the Gessobord™. As soon as I get some paint on it I can put it through Photoshop for a new abstract look.

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