Sunday, May 31, 2009

BUG 13

oil on linen

I've never seen an orange lady bug, and in point of fact, this little critter is called a Ladybird, I think. I looked it up and she hails from a family of beetles. What a vibrant little candy coated shell she has and her little eyes look like licorice nibs only shaped like eggs. Just so cute and as snug as a bug in a rug, whatever that means.

I'm working on a new series of bug paintings that I'm very excited about, but I am longing to paint a nice still life at some point soon. We'll see.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

BUG 12

oil on linen

The body of a grasshopper reminds me a lot of the Alien. He's got that armor thing goin' on. No double set of those nasty extended choppers tho'. I'm stumped here. What does one say about a grasshopper? Bug 12 will have to do.

Monday, May 25, 2009


It occurred to me that it was poor form on my part not to publically thank everyone who leaves a comment here, be it of support and approval or critique and suggestion. I appreciate, more than you'll ever know, all of the comments I have received on my blog. Clearly, I'm a tad left of center and I've found that sharing my perceptions, feelings and fears has only brought me support, kindness, generosity and a sense of belonging, being part of something much larger than myself. While this painting, blogging and posting process is teaching me to cultivate confidence in myself and my work, hearing other perspectives is invaluable and so much appreciated. So, thank you everyone.

Also, since I've posted only once in the last week and a half and that post was a previous commission, it's pretty obvious I'm taking a small vacation. Himself is home for 5 glorious days and we've just been relaxing. It's helping me as I'm seeing how much of my identity is now becoming a function of..."have I posted and how was it received!" Not good! Not good at all. What I do cannot become who I am because if it ceases to be then so do I. I would have hoped that lesson was learned when I lost my job and didn't vanish into thin air. But, obviously, it's a process. The painting is the thing dear, not the posting.

And finally, on this Memorial Day, I'd like to thank my brother, Lawrence Barnes— who fought bravely and was wounded in Viet Nam— and each and every soul, now and throughout our history, who has worn a uniform and served his or her country. I'm hoping that someday you'll all be out of a job. Peace.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


oil on canvas

I'm getting the "I haven't posted in days" tremors. They are accompanied by the "I haven't painted in days" guilt. Caught up on some work but need to get in front of that easel, now. I don't remember this little guy's name. I do remember how difficult and involved his little shiny white coat was.


I am ridiculously grateful to two of the most incredibly gifted artists I have met thus far on my blog/dp/internet journey, and I want to acknowledge and thank them both here for their generosity, support and kindness.

I've been corresponding with an incredible artist, Tracey Clarke, whose work I first saw on I was bowled over by her brushwork, concepts, narrative and vision and I wrote her and told her so. Since then she has been guiding me, in a very real sense, toward realizing my dream of saying something with my work and I wanted to thank her, publicly for her generostiy, kindness and insight. Please visit her sites:, her work is, quite simply, incredible. She's also setting up to participate in Artomatic in Washington, DC, so if you're in the area make plans to stop by.

And I'd like to introduce you to and thank Jessa and James Huebing-Reitinger, whose site——is the virutal home of an educational traveling exhibit of the World's Largest Scientific Illustrations and live performances of the artists. They have been kind enough to invite me and my bugs to be featured on their site beginning August of this year! I'm stunned and so grateful for their generosity!

I first met Jessa when she sent me a kind comment about one of my bug paintings. She checked in a second time and we've been corresponding and getting to know one another recently which led to their kind invite. Her bug work humbles me, a lot. She takes them to a place I'd love to go. Just perfect, rich, sumptuous backgrounds and concepts along with stunningly painted bugs! She and her husband also just published a children's book "How Mildred Became Famous," following the adventures of Mildred the praying mantis which lead her to a chance encounter with the artists and Project Insect. I cannot wait to see it.

I'm going to ask permission to post some of their work here, but wanted to thank them first for their support and guidance.

Guess it's time to get to work.

Friday, May 15, 2009

SUZ by Tim Berry


I wanted to post this just to prove my point. No, wait, actually I'm proving his point! Whatever. This is just a detail as it wouldn't fit on the scanner and the camera has a stomach virus, besides which I wouldn't think of disturbing that professional framing job. It's one of my favorite pieces and not just because it's of moi. He is quite gifted, no? Enjoy the weekend.



We had the problem again last night. It is a recurring problem, and we are learning to handle it better, but...well, it is a problem which has, in the past, resulted in quite of the minds shall we say?

Himself, like me, loves spontaneous brush work. We've spent endless hours studying John Singer Sargent's work in person, in print and on DVD. For us, he is the original. So, consequently, when I'm working on a piece, in the beginning stages, himself will without fail, appear at the studio door and declare the painting completed.
"It's done!" he'll shout, already pacing frustratedly because he knows I'll disagree. "If you put another brushstroke anywhere near that canvas, my head will explode! I'm buying it, right's mine...give it to me!"

He has threatened me with everything from hiding the painting from me to confiscating my brushes. And on some level, I do agree with him.

But, I can't seem to help myself. I work until everything looks neat and polished and presentable and invariably he will then pronounce the painting "compromised." He still loves it, but he really loved it before I "overworked" it. The irony is that he suffers from the same malady. I actually rescued a lovely watercolor of me that he was working on before it was too late a few years back, so obviously I don't disagree.

And so it was, when I presented the completed "Boxer" to him last night, he shook his head and uttered those dreaded words..."Just once, I'd like to see a painting leave this house with one brush stroke in tact!" Bite me! I'm 50/50 on the pooch, I think. Either that or I just can't admit I agree. In my defense, I thought his ear needed something to rest on and if I'm not mistaken, there are brushstrokes! But I know what he means. Every inch of the canvas doesn't always have to be covered. The battle continues.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


oil on linen

Ah, the bug life. Gossiping among ants is no different than it is among humans, I would imagine. In the end, it has the odd and unnerving tendency to diminish those who partake in it while elevating the intended target. We don't stop to think that our attacks on others, be they vicious or what could be thought of as harmless, cause those we're speaking to— to wonder just when their own name and character will come spilling out of our mouths and to whom.

I worked in a close knit office years ago. Our boss was a tyrant (yes, yet another tyrant) and we stuck together through our "suffering." I had two really close friends. One friend shared some information about another co-worker in the office that was quite startling. I was sworn to secrecy. I knew that this friend wouldn't mind if I shared this information with my other really close friend, who I thought of as a relative we spent so much time together. I felt no guilt in sharing and in fact was quite proud of my ability to keep a secret afterward. The friend I shared the secret with was equally startled by the information and thought the subject of this information should know what was being said. Without telling me his intentions, my friend went directly to the subject of the information and told him what I'd said.

The very next day, I was staring into this person's inquisitive, hurt and distressed face as he asked, point blank, why and how I could do this to him. I was stunned, ashamed, mortified and crushed. I wanted the earth to part and swallow me up on the spot. Luckily the story went no further and I apologized profusely when I was finally able to own my actions, however my apology did nothing to eliminate years of shame and regret. This incident remains, to this day, one of the most embarrassing and definitely one of the most valuable lessons I have ever learned.

Still, I'd love to know what those two are saying.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


charcoal on paper

Out of the pity pot and into the sun. Kept my promise to draw for at least an hour each day. Feeling much better after a weekend of reflection, music and art with himself. It's so ridiculous. Neither of us has the ability to look objectively at his or her own work. He makes fun of me until I remind him of his last self-critique. Oh well. Whatever. As long as I continue to work right?

Sunday, May 10, 2009


charcoal, conte crayon on paper

Thank you for your support and kind words Sheila and Don, I was being a brat. You're right, I was being very silly and feeling sorry for myself. Why? Ego. If there's a problem, it's always the ego. I read somewhere that it always speaks first and it's always wrong.

I did discover that the best thing for me to do when I take up residence in the pity pot is to work. It changes everything. Even if what I'm doing doesn't immediately scratch that ego itch, I feel better simply because I took steps to banish the poop. And that's all I can do. What I think and how I feel is completely my responsibility. Period. Before DP, I would let these pity periods carry on for weeks. Now, I know I need to get off my arse and get to work. No need go figure out why, just get rid of it. It's all illogical nonsense anyway.

This is the result. Happy Mother's Day to us all, even those of us whose progeny have whiskers, a cold nose and pant when it gets hot.

Friday, May 8, 2009


pencil, conte crayon on paper

What do ya call it when an artist suddenly has a complete breakdown in confidence and thinks she's a fraud? Friday. One of those days. A lot of heavy sighing, looking out the window, feeling like a failure, what's the point kind of days. I honestly think we need these days for contrast.

I did paint however. I'm not giving up. Ever. It was actually laughable this time. I've never worked as much, had as much exposure or had artists I admire tell me nice things and yet somehow, today, I thought I should quit. What's up with that?

I found this in a pad. It was done a few months ago and I didn't like it. I worked on it a bit and got the ok from himself to post it. Heavy sigh.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


oil on canvas

This is the painting I'll be donating to "The Art of Rescue," for boxers in a week or two. I wanted to post it unfinished because I'm never satisfied that it's better when it's done. I'm going through an "unfinished" phase, meaning, I'm more aware of wanting to bring a drawing quality into the paintings and not "finish" or complete every single square inch of it. We'll see.

I'm itching to paint more bugs but I'm on deadline for a few things and won't be able to for a couple of days. Probably will draw more however as that's a great time while sitting, mouth agape in front of the idiot box.

Sunday, May 3, 2009


pencil on paper

I've been meaning to get back to drawing for some time. Since I've been painting so much, I wondered if my penicl drawing technique would be improved as I draw with the brush in my work. My time at the Fashion Institute really focused on fashion, obviously, which in turn made me more prone to drawing long limbs, slim faces and exaggerated lines. With this drawing, done while watching a documentary on Public TV, only now do I realize how much my style has changed, and I think for the better. I mention Public TV only because it puts me in a more creative head space. Watching/listening to artists while I work really seems to help me push to that place that is blissfully free of the "voice." In fact, there still is a voice but it's a good voice. It tells me I can now do all the things I've always wanted to do artisically.

The work of sculptor Richard MacDonald is simply amazing to me. I tear pages out of art magazines and keep them in plastic sleeves and I happened to have a few pages of his work out this morning when I decided to draw. I'm so glad I did. The planes of the face were so much more apparent. This was a good time. I'd love to work more drawing into my daily posting, I think this is a good start.

Friday, May 1, 2009


oil on canvas

Meet Jett, yet another past commission. I'm working on a donation/self-promo portrait of a boxer today in spite of my deep desire to paint a bug, a desire by the way, significantly dulled by the discovery of carpenter ants in my studio! Big puppies too! A Woody Allen line comes to mind. Something about capturing and rehabilitating a rather large spider in Annie Hall's bathroom. There is a dog collar somewhere around here that just might fit too, but I don't speak "ant" which might considerably hamper the rehabilitation process. They must have thought there was a town meeting what with all bug adorned canvases lined up against the wall. I swear I can hear one walking by my foot as we speak!

It's Friday. I'm outta here. Enjoy the weekend.