Friday, March 17, 2017

copying at the National Gallery of art - Young Woman in a Kimono

beginning of my copy of "Young Woman in Kimono"
copied at the National Gallery of art in Washington DC

I recently spent a week in Washington DC and was able to paint a copy at the National Gallery of Art.  I became a copyist when I lived near DC and tried to continuously work on copying one of the master's paintings on a weekly basis.  Now as an "out of towner" I apply to copy for a week at a time...or however many days I can get into a gallery in a week's time. 

The copyist program is a wonderful opportunity to study the masters and learn as much as possible about strokes, colors, composition and the lives of these amazing artists.  I study the artist, their palette, their life and spend some time sketching the piece I am going to copy.  Once I get to the gallery I set up and begin.  I always start with a blank white canvas and just dive in. 

The painting I chose for this copyist session is, Young Woman in Kimono by Alfred Maurer.   I  chose it because it has a rich color palette of muted tones with bright swashes of red accenting the kimono.  I do love kimonos and have a collection of my own  that I love to paint.  I had not heard of Alfred Maurer and was excited to discover a new to me!  After checking out his work I must admit that the painting I copied is my favorite of all his works.  I feel very fortunate. 

This is where I am after a couple of long days of work.  I still have a way to go but my time in DC has come to an end and must stop work for now.  My options are to re-apply to complete this work or I can simply move on to another copy.  I will bring it home and make a decision after I digest what I have done. 

The National Gallery of Art is always an adventure.  While copying this gentleman introduced himself as a distant relative of Frank Benson!  How cool is that?  We chatted for a short while about my favorite work of Benson's "Margaret Gretchen Strong."  I fell in love with that painting when I first started painting and have loved it ever since.  It was exciting to meet someone who could have a great Frank Benson talk with me!. 

Another perk of copying at the National Gallery is the concert that was given at on the of atriums near me.  So nice to hear such beautiful music as I painted. 

I was also fortunate to have some friends stop by.  Since I am no longer in the area it is fun to catch a quick lunch and chat with friends.  The steady stream of visitors to the gallery are always polite but very curious.  I enjoy my visits immensely and look forward to my next visit. 

Monday, February 13, 2017

Colors in the hand


I am doing a series of hands.  I decided to do hand paintings because I need the practice AND hands are very interesting!  They are intricate, complicated and the configurations for composition is endless.  It is fun, educational and hands are always available to paint as I always have mine with me!

I start my paintings pretty much the same way...I block in colors...darks, mediums, lights.  I try to incorporate interesting color combinations.  As I am laying in the darks, lights, reds, blues, yellows, literally every color on my palette I started thinking about skin tones and racial conflict.  I was brought up in a military family.  I went to school with very diverse classmates.  I never thought of color of skin as a difference.  As I am painting I realize we all have the same colors...just in different combinations.  We are all so different and so much the same.  My wish for the world is to be generous...treat people like you would want to be treated.  PSA back to my easel!

Sunday, January 1, 2017


24 x 36
Oil on Canvas

I usually paint from life or my own photographs.  Often I will start from life then finish up with a photo reference.  Sometimes I think I am smart enough to finish up with no reference but I soon learn I still need guidance.  It is a good exercise for me and  I am constantly learning and pushing myself.  I mention my methods because this painting was done from a photo reference that is not mine.  My brother, Dan Bennett, is a photographer and I love his work.  When I saw this photo I was so happy with the gesture and composition I asked if I could please paint it.  After checking with his model I was given the go ahead and set out painting.  I changed a few things but left the girl and umbrella essentially the same.  I love the bright yellow shirt and blue umbrella.  Getting to paint the blue hair and profile was a bonus. 

Painting challenges me and I am constantly experimenting to improve my work.  I have been working with a limited palette lately and really enjoying it.  It has forced me to work on my colors really figure out which colors I need to mix to achieve my goals.   Right now my palette is
Cad yellow light
Yellow Ochre
Cad red light
alizarin crimson
cerulean blue
ultramarine blue

I sometimes put some black on my palette but find I do better without it so I am trying to wean myself from it. 

You can see some of Dan's work at 

Thursday, December 1, 2016


36 x 24
Oil on Canvas

Recently I hosted a "model  party"!  It was such fun.  I invited 5 women over to participate.  I was a bit nervous having not done this before and not really knowing the models well.  Some I had just met, two I had never met and two I knew but had only brief encounters with.  I just had a feeling they would all get along and had a feeling that they were up for some fun. 

I welcomed each of the ladies and had prepared some light snacks, wine and non-alcoholic beverages for them to socialize and enjoy while the photo shoot took place.  I thought a relaxed atmosphere would lend itself to helping everyone get acquainted and relax.   I am fortunate to have traveled to Japan to visit my dear friend Carrie Roets Waller...accompanied by my travel buddy Debra Kierce...while there I was able to pick up some fabulous kimonos so I had a kimono for everyone.  They tried out different colors...I photographed them in two's three's and four's and the grand finale of all 5 in their luxurious fabrics.  It was such a fun experiment for me and, I think, for them too as I got many offers to return for another photoshoot! 

This painting is of sisters...they are both young with fabulous, thick, curly hair.  Every thing I suggested they were enthusiastic about.  They were so natural and the connection between them is undeniable. 

I do paint from photographs, obviously, but I paint from life as often as I can.  When using the photos I often refer to life for particular body part.  I will check out my hands in a mirror to see joints and  shadows.  If I need to see someone holding hands or a position I cannot see while I am painting I ask neighbors or friends to come over and let me see how a certain angle looks in "real life".  Studying anatomy has also been a great resource.  If a photo is fuzzy or out of focus I know what a body part usually looks like so I can put together things that are missing or hard to see.  Most of my work is a conglomeration of photos, life and what is in my mind. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016


16 x 20
Oil on Raymar Panel

Continuing my hat series...This is my brown bowler.  It is one of my favorite hats and one of the first hats I bought.  It is symbolic that the hat is either being put on or taken off.  My hat is the last thing I put on before I go out and usually the first thing I take off.  I wear one primarily to protect my eyes from the sun.  I had cataract surgery many years ago and have done all I can to protect my eyes ever since then.  I have lots of hats and always wear sunglasses when outside. 

I called this one "Cover" as a nod...or tip of the my military ties.  A hat in the military is called a cover. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

We Can Do It!

We Can Do It
16 x 20
Oil on Canvas

This is a continuation of my "Rosie the Riveter" series.  These amazing women took over when the men were called to serve overseas.  They held jobs traditionally held by men...not glamorous...but they saw and need and rose to the occasion.   

The war touched everyone's lives in many ways.  My Grandfather, Uncles, Aunt and my Dad were all active duty service members during World War II.  My grandmother wore this blue star pin. 

It has one star for every family member she had in harms way.  While the men, and some women were fighting overseas my aunt Adrienne worked as a mechanic...along with scores of other women picking up unglamorous jobs that had to be done.  Everyone did their part for the war effort.  I do find it amusing that my Aunt Adrienne could fix and engine but never got her drivers license!

I feel it is important to remember how much these women did during the war, they sacrificed, worked hard, and kept our county running...doing their part to help win the war. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

PCS...Permanant Change of Station


PCS=Permanent Change of Station
24 x 30
Oil on Canvas

Permanent Change of Station or PCS is what happens to military families every 2, 3 or 4 years.  It is a way of life. 

This is another of my Military Spouse Series.  I began this piece so long ago I can't even remember but I always thought it needed something else.  It has been critiqued by more people than any other piece I have even painted.  It has been reworked time and time again.  I tackled it again this week and decided it is done.  It is depicting a mood.  It is a place I have been many, many times as have millions of other military spouses.  It is moving day.  It doesn't matter if the moving is to or from the current location...the feeling is the same.  It is a feeling of being overwhelmed.  It seems like unsurmountable obstacles in the path to move forward...but it all gets will be fine.