Painting in paradise…

Painting in paradise…


Today was my first day actually painting in my new space on Maui – hurray! FINALLY!! I have spent the first 6 weeks of living here getting our condo settled and undergoing every fathomable medical test my new doctor (whom I call the Wizard) could think of! I have been poked and prodded and put into tubes and smashed into machines I didn’t know existed, all to give the Wizard a baseline from which to begin new treatment. I appreciate her thoroughness, absolutely adore her, but I am extremely grateful that yesterday was the last test (MRI) I have to undergo for at least a while. (Those MRIs are the LOUDEST and NOISIEST test yet – you’d think they could do something about that, wouldn’t ya?)

Mahalo to Taryn Alessandro for generously allowing me to sublet part of her incredibly inspiring studio — it is filled with her mixed media paintings and books, and the most varied and unusual (for me at least) supply of paint and mediums, found objects and collections I’ve ever seen. It’s like a playhouse for artists! You can see what Taryn does with this array of materials in her multi-layered paintings – see her website at:

But back to painting – for I actually picked up a brush for the first time in months — and while it took me a while to actually touch paint to canvas, I did, in fact, begin a painting I’ve been wanting to do for a while now. Actually, it is the first in a series I’ll be doing, inspired by photographs taken of a reunion weekend with some of my besties from college – thank you Delta Gammas for the fun, and the photos. (Don’t worry – identities will be withheld to protect the guilty.)

While I am going to be experimenting with smaller sizes in this series, this first painting is still fairly large – 48″ X 36″ — slightly smaller than my last series of 60″ X 42″ canvases without compromising the impact I’m looking for.

Since this is a blog about my day in the studio, let’s begin where I began – getting the canvas ready.

This is an off-the-shelf canvas so it’s quite a bit lighter, hence more maneuverable than the custom canvases I’ve been using. I was able to haul this around without breaking anything, although at one point I made a hellavalotta noise when I hoisted the top of the canvas into the ceiling fan.

In the past I haven’t done anything to protect the edges of the canvas, I’ve usually painted them black, or just ignored the paint swipes and blots. For these paintings I want a clean white edge – there’s something about Hawaii that makes me want to “lighten up” — black just seems way too heavy. In order to keep the edges clean and not have to do too much touch-up later, I taped the edges with masking tape.


(Note to self: buy green “frog” tape for the studio – it adheres better and prohibits bleed-through better.)

You really have to burnish regular masking tape down, so I went over it with a clean cloth and pressed very hard.

Next up – I projected the photo onto the canvas – this took a bit of doing as it was already light out when I arrived at the studio, but Taryn showed me a darkened hallway and it worked fine.


You can see from this closeup example that I don’t spend a lot of time trying to be precise at this point – I’m really just trying to build a bit of a roadmap for when I begin to draw the subject with paint.

In this case once I got the canvas back up onto the easel I realized that I had positioned the subject too far down on the canvas, so I had to completely redraw it in a higher position. Ah well, technology isn’t always perfect.

I use burnt umber for laying down lines, mixed with a lot of mineral spirits. Why burnt umber? I dunno – always have used it and it seems to work. It’s fairly neutral and doesn’t bleed through the subsequent layers, so I use it. It also thins nicely, and erases well when wiped with a rag dipped in mineral spirits.

So, here she is – first of what I hope will be a fun series. Paintings of one paradise done in another.


Til next time…


P.S. If you missed my Aloha Holiday Sale newsletter, please comment below, tell me you’d like to subscribe, and I’ll send it to you. It contains news of my last commission, ideas for giving art for holiday gifts (with a GREAT sale price on my prints), and you can earn a chance to win one of my “Surf and Sand” prints.

P.P.S. Does anyone who was present at the weekend in question recognize the DG in the painting?