From the BlogSubscribe Now

Story of making the painting, “Valley Light”

Oil paining, mountain, tonalist painting, tonalism, representational art, mountains, trees, panoramic view, valley, shadow line, clouds, realism, classical painting, rosemary brushes, contemporary realism, contemporary art

Presence, 24 x 38

Late one fall afternoon I was working in my studio – and I felt a hunch that I ought to go to my special view spot in the mountains.  It was faster to ride my bike than walk, as it was nearing the end of the day- so I grabbed a backpack and threw in my sketchbook and a packet of charcoal. The weather had been variable all day with patchy clouds and sun breaks.  As I headed up the trail I could see faint light glimmering through the trees.  Higher and higher I rode, as fast as my lungs would allow.  Once I reached the clearing, the sight before me stopped me in my tracks. Reflecting off the cliffs of Mt. Si was this orange-gold light – a spectacular vision that I had never seen before; orange light with a dark shadow line rising up the flanks of the entire mountain range.  The image of this beautiful valley light burned instantly into my mind’s eye.  I knew I had to create this scene into a painting.  But wouldn’t the time please stop and let me soak in the experience a little longer?  I knew it wouldn’t – moments don’t stand still do they?  They just keep unfolding, one after another.  I felt myself accepting the orange light as it sank into my bones and I stood there, silently observing.   No drawing needed.   Luckily I had been there before to draw, so, I had, at least, a record of the important elements.  If you have ever looked at a painting for a long time maybe you’ve experienced a moment through an artist’s rendering.  Back in the studio I had the opportunity to re-experience that moment many times over – from memory.   That’s why I called this painting, Valley Light.  It’s about the Here and Now.  I like Being. Here. Now.

Matzke Fine Art Gallery, “Honey I Shrunk the Art” Annual Small Works Show

I am excited to participate in Matzke Fine Art Gallery’s 26th “Honey I Shrunk the Art” annual small works show!  The show opens on November 19th with an Opening Party and Potluck, 4pm –  9pm, and continues through January 15, 2017. Visit the website at

For this show I created five plein air paintings of Camano Island.  As a native Washingtonian, I spent many childhood summers exploring our coastlines by boat, throughout Puget Sound and the Inland Passage. My favorite spot on the boat was sitting on the bow, scouting for logs and stumps, or any other danger to our small craft.  I loved to look past the white caps to the rows of slim blue islands across the channel and imagine what life was like at each distant port.  Fast forward a couple of decades and I am still exploring – with my oil paints.  For this series of small plein air paintings, I set out to visit the beaches of Camano Island.  Standing close to the water, smelling the salt and listening to the waves crash against the shore brought me right back to those boat rides and summer time feel.  It’s funny how the smell of salt water can trigger so many memories.  I feel the same sense of wonder today for the beauty I see in nature that I did when I was a child.  Through painting, I try to express an honest translation of both soul and the land.

impressionism, oil, oil painting, landscape painting, mt baker, cascades, cascade mountains, representational art, contemporary landscape painting, oil, gallery, plein air, farmland

Mt Baker, 6 x 8, plein air

camano island state park, representational painting, impressionism, plein air, painting, oil, landscape painting, puget sound, salt water, island, water, contemporary landscape

Camano Island State Park, 6 x 8, plein air

skagit bay, puget sound, salt water, oil painting, plein air, representational art, impressionism, classical painting, classical realism, oil, pacific northwest art, gallery, beach, sand, water, tide

Skagit Bay, 6 x 8, plein air

camano island, representational art, tide, water, pilings, mountains, sea, oil painting, contemporary landscape, landscape painting, impressionism, representational art, pacific northwest, puget sound, mountains, plein air painting,

Tide Coming In, 6 x 8, Plein Air

mudflats, salt water, puget sound, oil painting, landscape painting, plein air, painting, representational art, impressionism, classical realism, realism, puget sound, mountains, piling

Mudflats, 8 x 6, plein air

Rhythms of Nature, Solo Exhibition, Burien Arts Gallery, Nov 4-30, 2016

This Friday, November 4th, 5:30pm-8:30pm, is the Opening Celebration for my Solo show, “Rhythms of Nature,” at Burien Arts Gallery.  The gallery is located in downtown Burien.

826 SW 152nd Street
Burien, WA 98166

As a contemporary landscape painter, my work is a sensitive interpretation of mood, color, and light.  Born and raised in the West, I am rooted in the diverse ecosystems found in western America. There is a sense of stability and order that I feel with the land, and when a location arouses my curiosity and inspires me,  I will create a series of the scene, changing the key, the composition and color harmony. I look for new ways to express spatial relationships and distance with layers of paint, brushwork, gradations, and diffusions of light.

But my paintings are more than that to me.   As a naturalist and outdoors woman since childhood, I have always felt a spiritual connection with trees and fields, and meadows and mountains.  Quiet places speak to me, as well as, long, stretching views with diminishing values and great big skies.   These places make my heart soar to new heights and inspire me, in a lifelong effort, to explore and communicate an honest translation of both soul and the land.

Join me at Burien Arts Gallery if you can!


representational art, fine art, impressionist art, classical realism, tonalist landscape, landscape painting, classical painting, barrels, high desert, art

Backyard Barrels, 11 x 14

landscape painting, tonalist painting, representational art, contemporary art, contemporary landscape, classical realism, oil painting, plain air painting, nocturne, deschutes cabin, full moon, mountains, sage brush, trees

Late Night Fishing, 9 x 12

classical realism, contemporary landscape painting, landscape painting, realist art, realism, impressionist art, representational art, nisqually basin, pacific northwest art, fine art

Nisqually Barn, 8 x 10

Deschutes River, oil landscape painting, dead tree snag

Eagle Creek Deadfall, 8 x 10


Indirect Painting Technique

Here are four paintings recently completed using an indirect approach.  Starting with a monochromatic under painting gives me a visual of the final picture before  I  start adding color.  The first opaque passage is followed by several rounds of thin glazes, scumbles, and velaturas.  After adjusting  the values,  colors temperature and chroma, I adjust edges and add the final details to bring the picture to completion.  It’s a slow process of working for a short period on one piece before setting it aside to work on another.   I like how the painting develops slowly, over time;  it is similar to how a memory is recalled in your mind-  you see it and feel it emerge from the inside out.

fir trees, distant mountains, yellow clouds, early evening sunset

Rattlesnake Ridge, 9 x 9


winter field, gray sky, creek, distant fir trees, purple mountains

Patterson Creek, 8 x 12


Dawn, fir trees with dead snag, orange sunrise sky, dark foreground grasses

Morning Majesty, 9 x 12


Evening at the Slough, 8 x 10

Evening at the Slough, 8 x 10


Field drawings from the Kokanee Glacier

I have returned from a trip to the Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park located north of Nelson, B.C, Canada where I spent a week backcountry ski touring.  Our days were spent climbing up the glaciers with our skis and skins and skiing down long, long runs of untracked snow.  The conditions were excellent with varied weather and relatively safe avalanche conditions.  In the evenings I enjoyed the beautiful views outside from the warmth and comfort of the cabin.  Here are a few graphite drawings from my sketchbook:

Kokanee 1, graphite

Kokanee 1, graphite

drawing of trees, hills, snow, lake, hills

Kokanee 2, graphite

drawing, trees, hills, snow

Kokanee 3, graphite





Harvest Moon – Nocturne

Blue night landscape painting

Harvest Moon over Mt. Si, 8×12

On September 18th we had the full Harvest moon.  I started this painting outside at the base of Mt. Si and finished it later in the studio.  Try painting in the dark sometime!  I had a headlamp on, but my eyes had a hard time adjusting back and forth when I looked at the view vs looking at the brightly lit palette.  Since then I have purchased the Mighty Bright light ( that has led lights and it attaches to my palette box.  Can’t wait to try it out.  For this painting I used a very limited palette of: chromatic black, viridian green, transparent earth yellow, shale, indanthrone blue and lead white.

North Fork Fog

North Fork Fog 9 x12

North Fork Fog 9 x12

The clouds descend upon the Snoqualmie River in the Early Fall, creating a misty feel to the air.  Mt. Si looms in the background behind the curtain of fog.

Renaissance Techniques Create a Mountain Scene

The fog rolls in on a misty morning walk around Mt. Si, in the Snoqualmie Valley, WA.     Last blog post I showed you the underpainting for this painting done with one color, Shale, from Vasari.  It’s purplish umber color is neutral enough that it can go either warm or cool.  For this painting I chose a cool color harmony.

Let me describe the steps to create this painting.  To start out,  I glazed in a very light blue layer for the mountains and let it dry.  Then, I laid in an opaque layer  for the sky, using white and naples yellow, with a touch of transparent orange.   Next,  I painted the trees with transparent paints, glazing layer over dry layer.  After that, I adjusted colors and temperatures with velaturas and scumbles.  The last step was brushing the sky color over the tops of the trees, shrouding them in fog.

The many layers of transparent and translucent paint help to create a luminous quality that I like.  As the light passes through the transparent layers it hits the white canvas panel and refracts back out.  The refraction creates a “vibration” between the colors.

This technique of laying down many layers of transparent and translucent paint is not a new technique.  During the 14th century many artists used the techniques of Master artist, Titian, known to apply as many as 30 or more layers of paint.

( Yet Unnamed ), 12″ x12″, oil on linen

Underpainting of Mt. Si – Ready for Color!

Here is what an underpainting looks like before I add the color.   I paint it a little bit lighter because as the transparent glazes are added it darkens the value.

When I saw this scene the clouds practically covered all of Mt. Si (Snoqualmie Valley, WA).  I plan to bring the clouds all the way down to the trees and then some.  A typical foggy Northwest day.

I’ll post the finished painting soon!

Color Harmony in the Landscape

This fall I worked outside painting the light in the Snoqualmie Valley.  We live about 30 miles outside the city of Seattle, WA in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains.  For this series I tried to capture a harmony of light, or envelope of light, as my landscape instructor,  Mitch Albala calls it.
In his book, Landscape Painting, Essential Concepts and Techniques for Plein Air and Studio Practice, Albala said, “A painting, of course, is not illuminated from within or enveloped by atmosphere, as is the actual landscape.  It exists on a two-dimensional surface and can only reflect light.  But the harmony and unifying effects of atmosphere can be imported into our paintings by using strategies that emphasize the similarities among colors, showing that there is a shared essence of every color in every other color.”