The Road you are Walking

5″x7″ pastel on sanded paper

“If you don’t like the road you’re walking, start paving another one.”  -Dolly Parton

It has been a rich week of painting, I am so grateful to be in Northern New Mexico.  I had amazing students this week in my pastel workshop at Ghost Ranch.  My students made me look capable by painting outstanding paintings.   I love when non-artists decide to pave a new road and do something they have always wanted to do: like become an artist.  I am grateful to be part of such journeys.

What road are you going to pave?

Smooth Sea


“A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.”  -Franklin D. Roosevelt.

I kept the palette limited for this painting, making the greens more aqua, and teal, and keeping the warms red orange rather than the range of what they really were.  

Here is my reference photo, which allows you to see how I tweaked the colors:

Dallas: Inside Out – A Sailor’s Perspective

10″x8″ oil on panel

Dallas has a beautiful lake right in the center of the city.  White Rock Lake.  It has a path that goes all around, about 10 miles of pedaling (or running) to circumnavigate.  Most of us enjoy this treasure of wildlife, beauty and community from the shores.  We cook out, picnic, run, bike, play, and the lucky…paint.  The sailers however, are looking back at us.   They see Dallas from the inside out.

Top 3 Oil painting Brushes

I use paint brushes daily, I usually use a filbert or a flat.  My go to size is 8.  For 3 decades I have used well made natural bristle brushes.  I have a few really fine sables, squirrel hair, and mongoose hair brushes that I use for water color, and oil portraits.  My daily landscape brushes are mostly hog hair.  

I take excellent Care of my brushes, and they last for a really long time.  Above are the brushes that have been my go to brushes for the last year.  I recently started a painting and noticed that the brush was shot, the bristles had lost their ability to hold an edge, and they were droopy.  I reached for a second brush, which was also shot.  So I looked through all the brushes that had been in circulation.  Three were in almost perfect shape despite constant use.  They were rosemary and co. Ivory filberts.  Synthetics!  I was ordering some portrait brushes about 4 years ago from Rosemary and Co, and the person on the phone asked if I had tried the Ivorys.  I told them I didn’t usually like synthetics, but would give them a try, I ordered only 3.  Initially they were fine, no better or worse than a bristle.  However they have held up MUCH better than the natural bristle brushes.

My current 3 favorite brushes are all Rosemary and co Ivory brushes.  Filbert size 6,8, and 10

Here they are, after hundreds of paintings!  Still going strong.  If you like control or are new to painting, I recommend a short flat or a filbert.  If you like a looser painting, I reccommend a long filbert or flat.  Egberts are the longest bristles and will give the loosest most lyrical strokes.   

If would like to know more about paint brushes, here is a well written article that covers just about every type of brush.  There are so many good brushes out there, but these ivorys are kind of like buying a Honda, dependable work horse with lots of miles in it.

Happy painting!

Caring for your oil paint brushes with love

Photo by Dickie Hill
This is my studio, which has beautiful north light.  I love it!  I count my blessings everyday when I go to my easel.  

Here is my taboret , if you look at the photo of my studio, you can see it.  Just beyond that taboret (not pictured) is a washer and dryer.  That blue piece of cloth is not an apron or a rag, far from it…it is one of my husbands nicest dress shirts.  He absentmindly took it off and laid it on my palette covered in paint.  Guess what?  The shirt not only repels wrinkles, but oil paint too!  Just kidding.  That is where Jack’s Lindseed oil soap comes in.  It is what I use to wash my paint brushes.  It is non toxic, and smells like my Aunt KC’s tack shop in her barn (one of the best smells from my childhood).  I use the soap to keep my brushes in tip top shape.

An artist recently told me that artists have two types of clothes: those with paint on them, and those that don’t have paint on them YET.  Jack’s linseed soap removes wet and DRY oil paint from clothes and paint brushes.  The soap saved the shirt!

Buy studio soap here
Method I use to wash my brushes:

1. Wipe off excess paint on tissue or tag

2. Swirl brushes in gamsol (wrap in foil at this step if I just want to hit pause on the painting session)

3. Wipe off gamsol

4. Wash with Jack’s studio soap and water, careful not to splay the bristles, I use a painting motion back in forth in the palm of my hand. Rinse.  If bristles need shaping up, I put a bit more soap on and form the bristles back into their proper shape.

I take great care of my brushes, and it shows.  I have brushes that are 30 years old and still going strong.