Color Charts

When I switched from watercolor to oil, the biggest change was mixing colors: I was not aware of this, but my color mixing in watercolor, was very intuitive: I would mix, then if I did not like it, washed my brush and started again until I found something I liked.

One cannot do this in oils: it takes a bit of time to mix the colors, and this process would waste way too much paint.  I realized I had no conscious thought of what I was mixing…

For two years now, I have painted almost only portraits…  I now know how to get the colors I want for creating skin.  But a few weeks ago, when I was trying to make greens and purples, I realized I need to go back to basics: I needed to make color charts.  So here I am, making them:

I first started making tints (adding white) to the colors I liked the most: I made a separate page for the blues, the reds, the greens and earth colors.

Then I took viridian, and added other colors to it, that is another chart.

I will keep going like this for quite a few weeks… It is tedious, but I do it as in a meditation.

When I look at the result, I am in awe on how much I am learning.  All these charts are hanging on my kitchen walls, waiting to dry!  I LOVE being surrounded by all these colors!🙂

Caples Lake


Oil on board.  12 x 12

Oh my!  Time flies!  I sure am way behind all my posting…

Here is a painting done on the shores of Caples Lake, in the Sierra Nevada.

Three weeks ago, 7 women and I rented a log cabin in Hope Valley (South of Lake Tahoe) and spent 6 days plein-air painting.  It was wonderful.  This is the third year I do a week-long of nothing but painting, and each time it is a tremendous learning experience… (I guess that is how it would be if I painted full-time..:) )

It got quite hot each day, and I, unlike my watercolorists friends, never finished any paintings.

Back at home, the first thing I did was to start making color charts, because I never was happy with the colors I made on location… I created blue, red, yellow, green and other mixing charts. (and I will keep making them for a while!)

I pulled out the painting furthest along, and worked on it for a few days.  I think I am now done…


Stormy day

Stormy day sm

Acrylics, 18 x 20 canvas

All these portrait paintings for the last 2 years make me concentrate so much.. I haven’t done any imaginative paintings in months!  To think I used to do them daily!!

So I was very happy to get into this one during the week-end workshop…  I am not sure it is finished, but I had a great time playing.

Acrylics 101

Tired pear sm

I discovered Karen Ingalls recently.  I love her sense of colors.  So I signed-up for a week-end workshop she was teaching: Acrylics 101.  It is good to go back to the basics.  I realized I had never learned the basics of acrylics, always jumped in, in a class or another..

I learned so much in that class, Karen is an outstanding teacher, very methodical, covering everything but also very encouraging, letting one explore.  There was never a dull moment and we finished two paintings.

Karen first explained the differences between the different types of brushes.  In all my years of community classes, no one had ever done that!!  I also learned how to properly clean my brushes…

Here is a pear, we all made pears.  Before getting to the painting part, we learned about composition and making thumbnails.  This was not rushed, but given a lot of importance.

I chose a crazy composition, a pear from an angle.  I thought it would be fun.  I regretted it of course, as I quickly had a hard time keeping that bottom interesting and not a giant round ball.  Karen’s demo was beautiful, with the colors bright and blended.  I tried it, but decided to keep the sense of patches to give this little painting some interest…

Halfway thru the class, I decided to take a picture of my pears and send it to my kids.  Somehow the lighting picked up the blues in the greens (of course, made from a Phtalo, no surprise here!), and I quickly got a text back: ” How fun!  A blue pear!  Beautiful!”  :)  Kids!!  I could paint anything and they would get excited….

But, it gave me an idea…. Should I paint a blue pear?..😉

Pyramid Peak from Robb’s Peak

Pyramid Peak sm

8 x 10 Oil on panel

I lead a day trip of snowshoeing 2 weeks ago.  We had to drive three hours to get there.  I am a morning person, so wanting to paint a snow scene, I decided to go early, the idea being that I would set up my easel at the trail head and paint while waiting for the others to arrive.

2 other folks decided to come early with me.  When we got there, I started to pull out my backpack containing all my painting gear. (Unlike watercolors which can be quite minimal, oil painting involves a lot of equipment, starting with the easel!!)

To my surprise, the other 2 folks started to put their snowshoes on.  “What are you doing?  We are supposed to wait for the others… ”  Well, there was no talking them out of going, they were so excited.  I new Carl, the other leader would be fine with the rest of the group. But I REALLY had wanted to paint a snow scene.  As the official leader, I could not let them go on their own, especially since the trail might not be easy to find if no one had used it after the last snow..  I could paint at the top… but how was I going to shlep all the stuff up the hill?  As a leader, we already have a substantial backpack to carry, with large first aid kits and all matters of snow survival in case of trouble…


I decided that my best bet was to find a way to attach the two packs…  with the help of the other participants, that is just what we did… and looking like a giant turtle with an enormous carapace on my back, we headed up the hill.  Slowly but surely we got to the top 2 1/2 hrs later.

It was very windy, but a gorgeous sunny day.  We found wind protection and unloaded our packs.  After a well deserved lunch my two companions fell fast asleep in the sun.  I pulled out my canvas and paints and looked at the peak across in the distance… I totally got lost.

I knew I had to paint fast and I only brought three colors plus a tube of white…

An hour and a half later, we were joined by the rest of the group and eventually all came down together.

Painting AND snowshoeing in the same day!!  That’s heaven!  :)

La dame aux tulipes

Dame aux tulipes sm

Oil 40cm x 50cm, after J. Peralta

I wanted to practice by copying another artist, an old tradition in the arts.

I also set out to paint using only 3 specific colors.  Many times I was tempted to add a brighter one, but resisted, and I am happy I did.  I love the colors in this painting and how well they harmonize.

Girl in teal kimono

Girl in teal kimono sm

Oil 40cm x 50cm

This time, I made an effort to have my portrait resemble the model.  A good exercise, but in the end, I find the painting boring… except for the colors!  I had fun with the colors.

Beauty is over-rated: I like interesting faces with wrinkles, crooked noses, weather burnt skins….  :)


Ancient designs

Peiseyl sm

Continuing on my thought of daily entries in my “ArtBook”: the idea being to free myself from the sense of producing something “worth to be on a canvas”… This art book has no purpose but play, play , play…

(I have always been fascinated by Paisley: It is a very old symbol of a tear drop.  I, on the other hand, always see a womb..)


Tom sm

Oil 16×20

Our model Tom, was an interesting man: an artist himself, he would come around and give us advice.  A musician, he posed with a guitar.  I was fascinated by his face, so I chose to do a portrait.

Before even knowing who was going to be our model, I had, at home, prepped my canvas with gesso and a stencil, to give it a faint textured.  I had no idea how it would work, but I like the effect!

I had tons of fun painting this, and it went very fast.


L'attente sm

Oil -18×24

This painting was nothing but frustrations from the very beginning.

I did not care for my view point, but there was no other room in the class for me to stand.  I was concerned that the large black mass of the skirt would overcome everything.  But I kept at it and tried and tried.

I found it quite boring and not interesting in any way.  So I added a window to try to give some sense to the pose: a person waiting… I still did not care much for it… then I added the cat.  It seem to ground the scene, and give it some peace…

Still not my favorite by a long shot, but it is always good to push thru frustrations… right??  ;)

Why wasn’t I born an Indian


16 x 20 – Oil

Unconsciously, I changed this model to look (somewhat) like a Native American… Why?  I am sure it is because I admire them so much.  I share their total love and respect for all things of Nature.  I envy their old ways of life, in great harmony with their surrounding world, taking only what they needed, giving thanks to the Earth, learning from other animals… Proud people with honor…

As I paint this woman, part white, part Native American, I wonder: “Why wasn’t I born and Indian?”  :)

Grand Canyon 1

Grd Canyon1

9 x 12 Canvas panel

I took a week-long class in the Grand Canyon, “Painting on the rim”.

It was, I must say, a week of frustrations: zillions of folks looking over my shoulder, taking my picture, and worst of all, talking to me.  It was very hard to concentrate and actually paint.  There was no avoiding them, buses were dropping them all day long..

Added to that, a very strict teacher who insisted on us using the exact colors mixed to her prescription.  I would every now and then, put some oranges and reds, only to have them covered with some variation of purple…

I did learn a lot mind you, as the teacher was very clear, precise and organized.  She had us paint 3 hours first thing in the morning, then a long break, and at it again in the late afternoon, for another 3 hours to get the best light of the day.  Two different locations each day.

Plein air is not easy, as the light changes quickly and all looks different before one is finished.  I learned to paint faster…🙂

Earth & water

Water & earth sm

24 in X 24 in Oil

Since I am not sure whether I am done or not with this, I find it tricky to give it a title.  This one will do for now…  :)

I can’t stop painting… First thing in the morning… if I get a break in the day… when I get home…

I’m having fun!!

Green, green, green… ggrrrrhhhh…

Green sm

50 cm X 50 cm Oil

Why does France has to be so far???

I started this in France, in a need to loosen up after doing a portrait for several days… I really like this beginning and am excited about it.  But I had to come back before I could finish it… it stands on its own in an empty house… and I am here, really wanting to work on it…  GGGRRRRHHH….

Monsieur Gay

M. Gay sm

14 in X 11 in (36 cm X 28 cm) Oil

While in France, my neighbor Mme Gay, whom I have known since I was 13 years old, had her 84th birthday.  I decided to make a portrait of her husband who passed away several years ago.  He had the kindest face and a twinkle in his eyes.  My father respected him a lot and the two were good friends…

Mme Gay was so touched…  I wished I had done a better job..

A turban the color of mangos, a shirt the color of sand dunes.


Oil on canvas 16 X 20 People wearing turbans and veils fascinate me…Their faces often carved by the weather, speak of years spent outside… relentless sun, storms of high winds and sand… not an easy live. Dreams of deserts and high plateaux… I am painting a series “Men in blue turbans”.  There will be 5 men in blue turbans, and one in an orange turban (Orange, the complimentary color of blue).  (Strange  idea for someone who does not like to do pleats and folds…! )

Point Reyes color notes

PtReyes 1sm

9X12 Oil

Yesterday, I took a class from Joan Hoffman at the Point Reyes National Seashore (in one of their stunning old ranch house).

The class was about “color notes”: I learned that “color notes” are dots or blobs of colors.  In other words, one applies the paint in short strokes which are not blended. (a bit like pointillism, but larger).  The idea is to put colors next to each others and on top of each other, rather than blending.  I LOVED it.  Such fun it was. (I could see doing this with blasting music!! )  :)

Most ladies in the class were quite experienced and all very nice.  I found our teacher to be very informative, joyful and positive.  I will sure look for another class with her.

When we started, most of the hills were in fog and it was quite cold.  All of us started to paint with cool colors…  But of course, by noon, the sun had come out and although we remained in the same place, we were facing a new landscape.  Good thing Joan made us do two paintings.  She wanted us to paint fast, but I suspect she new the light would change drastically.

What better day than one spent outdoor and painting…  I was in heaven!



24X24 Oil on canvas

If I had been born in the Wild West, I would have liked to be called “Canyon-Belle”.

Why is it that in the Old West and the South, the first names are hyphenated??

(I can see as I am taking a photo, that I need to tone down the horse a bit…)


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