Art in the time of covid-19

It’s April 28, 2020. I have to check my calendar because days and even hours run together. I’m working from home right now, although my studio has opened up partially. I’ve taken the time over the last 5 weeks to do a variety of things. My art studio is doing weekly challenges that keep us engaged in our practices and with each other. I’ve really enjoyed these because it focuses the mind and gives me a deadline. Deadlines are very helpful! I tend to experiment a lot in my practice anyway but I’ve come up with a few new paintings that are rather spontaneous. These are both acrylic on 8×10 canvases. I usually don’t work small but, again, it’s helpful with a smaller space at home.

The painting on the left is from a challenge using the Zorn palette of vermillion red, ivory black, yellow ochre and white. No other colors are allowed. I used a life drawing sketch for the portrait. The second painting came from cleaning my palette from another painting session and just playing with marks. An image emerged of two figures.

I would appreciate comments from you! It is fun to create these statements but if often feels like I’m talking to myself. Let me know what you think!

Marker studies

These works are all made with permanent Chartpak markers. I am exploring the colors and how they react on different types of paper. I was particularly intrigued with how the bleeding effect creates an optical effect so the work appears slightly out of focus. I am enjoying the white negative spaces, similarly to how I approached the botanical watercolor work. The blank white paper is very satisfying. All of these works are on mixed media paper.


As I walk my neighborhood in the fall I always collect leaves that catch my eye. This year I picked up some of the ones with brilliant red and orange colors but I noticed even the more mundane or muted leaves had incredible details. This lead to a series I call leaf portraits. Each painting is on watercolor paper and each leaf is the exact size of the the leaf. The oakleaf hydrangea paintings are on 18 x 12 paper because these leaves are quite large! I’m continuing in my exploration of plants by doing branches from various trees and shrubs. My first painting is a branch of a cedar tree.

The oakleaf hydrangea:

A cedar branch with berries:

Pine branch and cones
Late season hydrangea flowers
Two sunflowers
Winter color – nandina and magnolia

Figure Drawing and Painting

I’ve been revisiting figure drawing this fall by attending sessions with live models. Working from the figure has always been a good challenge. I’m trying both drawing and painting medias. All of these images are from long poses and some are focused on portraiture.

Life Drawing

I’m going to some life drawing sessions. So far I’ve attended the days children are modeling for portrait drawing or painting. I’m not very interested in portraits but the drawing experience has been fun and challenging. I’ve always liked drawing the spaces around the model in addition to drawing the model. This first drawing was of a 13 year old boy. I used charcoal – 11 x 17 paper.

In this second drawing I used blue 12 x 12 paper and colored pencil. I left my house without all my pencils so I had to manage with a fairly limited selection. This boy was 9 and he was a cousin of the first boy. Because these are long poses (15 minutes at a time for 3 hours), they are both rather stiff. I was impressed with these boys for their ability to sit still for so long!

Paintings on Rice Paper

These works are all made with Sumi ink on rice paper.  Some have watercolor additions. I did a number of these drawings on rice paper for the open studio in December.  These pieces were fun because it was challenging to recreate a Chinese style traditional painting.  I have no illusion to be an expert in this area so right now I think of this work as practice but not “serious.” I used traditional Chinese landscape, flower and koi fish images for reference.  I also added my “chop” signature which is my name in Chinese.  I had the stamp made in China.  I stamped my name using red ink which I purchased from a Chinese art supply store in Atlanta.

Working with Line

I am on a journey of exploration using line, color and movement.  Much of my work right now is nonobjective and without a focal point.  It is really an overall design.  I go back to drawing from life or from photographs from time to time and that is satisfying too.

Explorations on paper

I am continuing to pursue my interest in working with ink and watercolor on paper.  I am learning a lot about how the materials interact and how I can use layering, overlapping, color and line to create different moods.

West meets East
Green shapes
Snake party
West meets East II
Homage to Odilon Redon
Study in blue and tan