Tag Archives: painting

Painting Frida


This didn’t start as a painting of Frida Kahlo. I started by making a collage background using mostly ephemera collected on our trip to Italy, such as maps, postage stamps and pages from a little book.

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Then I painted an angel that, in my mind, was Italian. I was thinking of my friend (and sister-out-law, now that she’s not my sister-in-law), Victoria, and the Italian woman in her past.  Side note here: Victoria loves Frida Kahlo.

This is the original version:


I struggled with her face and ended up collaging an oval piece of paper over the first several tries and taking another go at it – you can see the edge of the paper. But I was happy with the final painting….or as happy as I usually am.  I get a little tired of them when I’m working on them. I spend some time on them and sometimes need a little break when I’m done.

The yellow bird and big pink flower both ended up staying on her head – I was trying to decide which one and I decided to go with both. Permission granted.


When I put the painting up on a shelf in my office, several people commented that it looked like “that artist,” or “Oh, it’s Frida!”  I disagreed, but thanked them. I mean, they both had dark hair in a bun with a big flower (or a few) in it. But after the third person said it looked like Frida, I decided to give my Italian angel a makeover.

I think she went from sweet to strong.

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It took some work to make the changes I thought she needed, but it was worth it and now I love the painting, and so does Victoria.

Thank you for stopping by.







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Love One Another


This angel painting was created for my sister, Kathleen. She asked if maybe I had a painting sitting around she could put up in the office at her new job. Since I give the pieces away, I didn’t have one on a back shelf, but I offered to make one for her.

Her next question: could I do an angel painting of her dog, Stella? Hmm. I suggested I could try including Stella, but wanted to incorporate a guide as well.


I used this picture of Stella after a rainy hike for inspiration.


The simplest, most basic mantra “Love One Another,” is a good reminder to everyone these days.


As usual, it is a mixed media piece with collage, paint, rubber stamping and oil pastels.



I love all the layers and texture.

I’m also really pleased how the angel wings create the look of a wing on Stella.


I think I would be comforted if a guide or angel made herself known to me and she was carrying a puppy.


Coming soon: a blue haired angel. Or maybe she’s a mermaid…

Thanks for the visit!

Here’s a bonus Stella picture, from her puppyhood.





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Be Kind

Yes, I’m back with another angel painting, my fifth. This one is a bit different than the ones I’ve done previously.


She is my Angel of Wisdom. In the Spirit Wings e-course I’ve been taking, the artist used a technique of layering collage and paint and then using sandpaper to sand down some of the layers, giving the piece an aged look.  I decided that I wanted to paint an old, wise face.

I’d seen a fantastic photo of actress Olivia de Havilland at 98, taken by photographer Andy Gotts.  It is a beautiful, black and white portrait of a person who looks as if she has some great stories to tell.


I’m still really new to painting faces and now I wanted to paint a more complicated face then the ones I’ve been painting.  This one has wrinkles!

These photos shows the progress: A rough sketch of the face, and developing the background, building up and sanding down layers of paper and paint. And then painting the face which goes through transitions when I struggled to get the shape of the head and the eyes right. Scroll through them to see the piece evolve.













I was frustrated with the sanding process because the paper I used often just came off in a partial layer, revealing not a glimpse of the color and paint underneath, but instead the soft, white, boring middle of the paper. But I just layered on more paint and paper.  Here are some close ups of the layers.



I worked and worked on her eyes, at one point layering gel medium over the canvas because I’d made such a mess. It created other challenges, but eventually I finished them. The lines, soft wrinkles, and the pearls all created challenges for me, and I spent a lot of time on this piece.

As for the mantra, this Angel of Wisdom has the most simple, basic message. Be Kind. That is the big one.  Be kind.  A friend and I were talking and he said “Be kind. Show up. Listen. Give hugs.” He believes these are the most simple principles to live by.  I too believe that these are all excellent life guides. I left off the last one, not that I don’t like hugs, but I thought the other three were appropriate in more situations.


Anne Lamott has written about showing up, especially when we don’t know what else to do. I mention it in a previous post here.   Be kind. Show up. Listen. Thank you, j, for the conversation that provided me with the right mantra for my angel.


Thank you all for showing up to read my post and listen to my words. I truly appreciate every visit.





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Love Respect Compassion


I really struggled with this angel. I should have stopped and taken pictures while I was working on the painting, but I was too focused on the task at hand.

This is my 4th angel painting and the theme we were working on for this one, in the Spirit Wings online course, was Angel of Sacred Ordinariness.  I chose to use bits of envelopes and postage stamps in the background collage and the blue-patterned lining of security envelopes for her dress, because they are fairly ordinary items.


And though a postage stamp on an envelope isn’t that extraordinary, a letter or card from a friend is pretty sacred and special . Several of the stamps I used are from mail sent by friends and one is from an old letter postmarked 1925 I found in a vintage and antiques shop.


But what about the struggle, you may ask? Well, we were painting our angel faces on bare wood for the canvas or background. I found this very challenging and my angel’s face went through many iterations before I created something I was ok with.  The wood was much less forgiving than the gessoed canvases I’d first worked with. The original face had a shorter chin and longer nose and blonde hair.  She looked kind of snarky.

In fact, I was calling her the Snarky Angel for a little while, but I was able to soften her expression, lengthen her chin a little and shorten her nose a bit.  Now she looks more like she has something mischievous in mind.


For this painting, I didn’t have a certain person in mind and I didn’t have a mantra when I started.  But this is what came to me when I was ready to add the words.  Barely any of the wood grain still shows in the painting. What you can see on the painting – the layers of color in her face (trying to improve on the proportion and expression) meant I covered the grain. But it does show around the words.

Thank you for your visit and for the lovely comments about this series of angel paintings.







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Believe in Yourself


This blue mantra painting was created for my friend, Laura, as a birthday gift.  She has gone back to school and was feeling a little apprehensive about quitting her job.


She is studying Chemistry so I wanted to include some things related to that and also to remind Laura that she really is amazing, marvelous, smart and funny. Especially funny. I love spending time with her because we usually find something to laugh about.


I’m also continuing to love crafting these pieces. There are layers that don’t show in the finished painting but are still part of the process and the piece. I really enjoy getting my fingers into the paint and gel medium, smoothing pieces of paper, layering them over each other; scraps from a textbook pages, bits torn from inside of an envelope, and seeing what they will become.  It’s messy and I have to stop every so often to rub the dried goo off my fingers, but I love every minute of it.


Believe in yourself. It’s a good mantra for me as I continue to play, explore and learn this combination of collage and painting. It’s a good mantra for Laura too.

Thank you for your visit.




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Day 30: The Cover

The Cover

Day 30: The Cover.

Whew.  I made it. Day 30.  None too soon. I’m ready to wrap this project up!

I had several sources of inspiration for the cover.  I wanted to try using a new medium and honor the local Italian Street Painting festival in San Rafael that ran this weekend.  For two days artists create beautiful works of art on the pavement using chalk.  At the end of the event, the streets are washed and reopened for traffic.  The works of art remain only in photos and memories.

So I used chalk (and no, I’m not going to wash the book off tomorrow) and decided on sunflowers for my main image.  I had a picture from the Farmer’s Market that I looked at as well as other images I found online

Farmer's Market Sunflowers

Sunflowers Online

I also wanted to include a variation of this image I found on Pinterest.

Some Inspiration

My “canvas” was the boring cover of the Art Journal that I just completed filling all the pages of yesterday.


ho hum

I used a strip of paper to cover the binding because the title was embossed  and I didn’t want it to show in the finished product.

Now the trouble started.  I’ve never used colored chalk and I really can’t draw worth a damn.  I don’t know how to do shading and highlighting except in theory.

Box O' Pastels

A nice collection.

Of course, not quite like these, at the Italian Street Painting:

Lots o' Pastels

But kids did it at the festival.  It couldn’t be that difficult, right?

Kid ArtistGreen HIlls Orange SunRed Sun, Blue Eyes

Green Islands, Blue WaterGo Pride!Older Kid Artist

I wasn’t trying to do anything as grand in beauty and scale as any of these:

Picture Girl with Wine The inspiration.

The Street Painting

The Street Painting.

Painting for 2013

This beautiful painting was the poster art for the event this year and it too was turned into a street painting.

Luna Mural

I really didn’t know what I was doing and I got chalk dust all over my hands and arms.  It really made me appreciate the efforts of all the artists even more.

This was a really hot weekend for San Rafael and they were sitting or kneeling on the asphalt in the sun.  It is hot in our apartment, but I was sitting at a desk with a fan blowing on me.



I layered colors, I smudged, I made a bit of a mess.  In the end, I came up with something that I thought was fine.  Kind of murky, but still recognizable as some sunflowers.  I also used some permanent marker and pencil on the swirled circles and water-soluble oil crayons.  A coat of Mod Podge and the whole thing was set.

Front Cover

Back Cover

I covered all of June in this Art Journal and since I started the book in May, it seemed right to include both months.

May June

Best of all, I’m going to finish before midnight! Rah.

For my final day of 30 Days of Creativity last year, I made a Macrame Bracelet.

For Day 30 the previous year I made delicious Honey Vanilla Ice Cream with Caramel Sauce.

Thank you, thank you for all the support, comments and encouragement.  It really helps to have that kind of feedback.  I appreciate everyone who has come to check out even one post.


Filed under 30DOC, Crafts

Day 6: Mosaic Poppies

Mosaic Poppies

Day 6, a little late, a mosaic of poppies. Pinterest was, once again, a source of inspiration.  I found this picture and followed the link back to Donna Downey’s awesome blog “Simply Me“.  Lots of yummy stuff to go look at later.

I love these Oriental Poppies and have taken pictures of them at Filoli Gardens:

Poppy at Filoli

And also at the Italian Street Painting Festival in San Rafael:

Street Painting Poppies

I used pictures pulled from magazines and from my stash of saved images (also mostly from magazines).  The poppies have petals made from blinds, dresses, art work and lips.

Poppy Close Up

The flower centers are from a picture of lustrous dark hair and a black pen for the little details.

The green for the leaves and stems came mostly from ads that had leaves in them but also from some green jeans.

Green Leaves

Most of the color for the background “tiles” was background in ads – sky, water, or just a pretty colored  background, but I also used several paint chips, some scrap-booking paper and a great purse.  Look carefully and you can see details like stitching (that’s the purse).

Tile Detail

Page Date: 6/6/13

Somehow it is almost 8PM and I haven’t started the spread for today! Yikes.

Here is the Day 6 project from last year: Shrinky Dink Rings (Fail II)

Day 6 the year before was: Infused Oil

Thanks for stopping by.


Filed under 30DOC, Crafts