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Tuesday, November 29, 2011


I don't know what I want to say yet... sometimes, I am told, if you keep writing it will come to you.  I like the simplicity of form here and found it mesmerizing to layer glazes over the gray underpainting and to work with a limited palette........yellow ochre, prussian blue, and there was a burnt umber modeling into the background at the very beginning.......As I was painting this I was thinking of all the possibilities racing through my mind that I want to execute and found myself being ever so thankful that I detoured from my original vocation of teaching 6th grade 30 years ago and devoted myself to playing with color, luscious wonderful color that I could probably spend 50 lifetimes exploring and manipulating.......I think the composition and the subject matter for me are simply a "thing" from which to drape color.  I'm not sure what I'm trying to say when I paint but I know I have a good time doing it and I truly feel like me...doing it.. That probably sounds odd but it has always seemed to me that the big prize in being alive is getting to know yourself and how important it is to be living the right life instead of the wrong life where you are just plodding along counting the days until the weekend...I think people are happier when they have cultivated their own resources and spirit and that trumps the need for making more money than you need....
Steve Jobs said it well I think and I resonate with the sentiment and hope my kids have the spirit and fortitude to discover their own  genuine lives....Steve Jobs said at the Stanford commencement address:
.."our work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle."  

and also this:  "Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."

Friday, October 14, 2011


There are just as many people who say there are no limits (e.g. the sky is the limit), as those who say limits are good.  I was profoundly affected by reading Rollo May's book on creativity when he spoke about how the creation of limits facilitated creativity. "Creativity... requires limits, for the creative act rises out of the struggle of human beings with and against that which limits them. (Rollo May). " I saw this one today also which is from Robert Frost and it made me chuckle but how true it is.
"I play better tennis because the court is there. " (Robert Frost)
Anyway.....I made a pile of Indian Yellow, prussian blue and my new best friend, quinacridone red and of course white....titantium, white.....and painted five paintings; two landscapes and three still lifes.......I like the limits and I think there is unity.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

"Everything great in the world is done by neurotics; they alone founded our religions and created our masterpieces."  Parcel Proust

Very honest fellow

Thursday, August 25, 2011


woman paintings   (link to paintings of women, mine included!

I just discovered and joined a great website that prints on demand..It will make it so easy for customers to get exactly what they want whether it is a canvas print or a framed print under glass in any size from 8 x 10 to 48 x 60.  I am gradually loading all of my high resolution files onto the site.
final version
first version
I recently revisited this painting with a bottle of gamblin  neo meglip mixed with my favorite two colors, prussian blue and indian yellow and glazed over the haphazard cacophony of colors and unified the mood and atmosphere.  The one on top is the final version.  Everytime I walked past this colorful version it made me want to throw up.   eek ....did I say that?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Discovering animation and video

Somehow today I got caught up in the business of promoting myself on the internet and have been fine tuning web site info and looking into the latest and greatest...I came across this amazing little fun website which probably so many people know about, called Animoto.  You can do a 30 second video for free and put it to music.....I did one with my artwork without any thinking whatsoever and then I did one with the's just a trip....very fun...I present my efforts's just fun.

Create your own video slideshow at

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I love quotes.

Garden Contemplation

first underpainting
"Observe your thoughts for they become your words. Carefully select your words, for they become your actions. Direct your actions, for they become your habits. Examine your habits, for they will become your character. Improve your character, for it becomes your destiny." Unknown

I love to find excellent arrangements of words to express what I think are golden tickets to living a more plentiful, successful, satisfying, contributory life.  I feel connected to the energy of humanity when I come across a thought put to words by a struggling human from another generation who also has reflected on the meaning of his/her own life in the crucible of their own unique time.

I'm working on the thought of painting each painting as if it will be the last one I'll ever do and all my self talk while I paint is about staying with it till my gut is at rest with it.    I don't know quite where I came  up that somewhat morose thought but I think it's affirming and motivating.  Sometimes I have an inner vision that has to align itself with the outer manifestation and sometimes I love the happy accidents of color that I discover. But the inner judge has to approve.  I generally paint and think later but I'm trying to observe longer and place the color, value, and stroke in just the right place.   I find myself often scraping down everything I've done if I'm dissatisfied and starting fresh the next day.  Our failures are often nothing more than a foundation for the finish but a good one and an essential one!  Those of you who scrape know what a wonderful foundation of harmony with which you can finish the day.........the neutrals take your breath away and open a door that takes the painting deeper down a more thorough road drenched with sunshine and shadow and spirit.
Some paintings paint themselves.. You feel you've been possessed when you are painting them.  The muse has visited.  The right brain was activated; you were in the zone and it feels so good.   Other times you can't find the zipcode of the zone.  Your brain is all over the place, you feel empty inside, no muse, no purpose, nothing........Everything you put down is wrong. You can wander and exasperate and carry on negative brain talk but all you do is dig yourself a deeper path down the "I can't do this" path or the "Who do I think I'm kidding?" path or especially the "All those other paintings were flukes.  I got lucky," path. How do I know....? I do this even though I know it leads to no good whatsoever and I've wandered deeper into the forest lost for certain.

My success at getting out of this (much like Gretel leaving breadcrumbs along the way to find his path back home)  is to breathe, be calm, love my life and  tell myself (self talk, again) ok, calm've done this before, you can do it again. It's a matter of excavating that sincere part of my creativity.  I know when I'm deeply in it because I want to HUNKER DOWN AND PAINT FOR hours and hours til I get it right while getting madder and madder  as I get dirtier and dirtier.   When I get that panicked feeling I can catch myself.   I can scrape and take a break.  I can reorganize my palette and consolidate some goo.....clean my hands and brushes........organize my space a little bit.  Have a cup of tea or cold drink....and remember a simple glass of water and a few minutes with the pets.

There's painting and then there's painting. I will simply stay with it for as long as it takes.  Much like Gretel or Hansel leaving breadcrumbs to find their way home,  I recover and pick up my own crumbs by doing an inventory which reminds me of my motivation, my skills, my knowledge, my heart, my purpose with the painting and I stay positive..........and pretty soon there's a sea change rolling in and the wind has turned favorable and I'm back in the zone.  

PS. FOUND this on the internet ......all the political talk the last several years has included the word sea change and I got the meaning but didn't know the it is and once again we have Shakespeare to thank.
Thank you Mr. Shakespeare. This expresses a great concept ........the alchemy of the painter, the alchemy of relationship, the alchemy of meaning in our lives.

 Sea-change or seachange is a poetic or informal term meaning a gradual transformation in which the form is retained but the substance is replaced, as with petrification. The expression is Shakespeare's, taken from the song in The Tempest, when Ariel sings,

"Full fathom five thy father lies,
Of his bones are coral made,
Those are pearls that were his eyes,
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change,
into something rich and strange,
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell,
Hark! now I hear them, ding-dong, bell."

Sunday, May 8, 2011

“My experience is what I agree to attend to. Only those items which I notice shape my mind.” 
--William James, The Principles of Psychology, Vol.1

This was posted on Gretchin Rubin's facebook page for the Happiness Project

It is so perfect for painting which I am sure is a mantra that all should heed.  Don't paint everything you see!  The lost edge, the mysterious shadows, the bleached's just a slab of paint...that's what makes the difference between the ho hum painting and the jaw dropping paintings. (well, one of the things)

Outside my door

Up the road
$249. SOLD

AGAIN I harken back to the post previously about using new eyes.  I look outside and everywhere I look once I drive out of the neighborhood a few blocks is beautiful, gorgeous, countryside.  I've painted so many versions of the "vineyard."  To someone else it may seem redundant but I see something new everytime.  I not only paint what I see but I love to simultaneously change my color harmonies and see how to build it.  I always do best if I paint the forest before the trees and it's especially fun if I paint the details after the drying.  It's easier to get the big shapes.  The atmospheric effect can come from a simple scumble of the of medium and a warm color. and a tightening of the harmonies.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Freshness is the prize

Another Pear


"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." 
 Marcel Proust

I thought this especially profound for artists and perhaps everyone.  The eyes we see with today are not the eyes we saw through yesterday.  That is why it behooves an artist to be forever dynamic and expanding.  The process of learning is exercised every day with every perception, every placement of color and value.  As a former educator in the public school system I wish we could convey to children and young adults that the real prize is the exercise of  learning and hence, expanding, and that the content is secondary.  I delight in how many times I have opportunities to revisit something I thought I knew and to see something new again.  I had that feeling just a minute ago looking at a demonstration of oil painting.  I had that feeling yesterday as I listened to a young mom describe her life with three boys under the age of 7.  I had that feeling a week ago as I listened to something my ex husband said.......and on and on......It's that feeling that keeps me from ever tiring of life itself and wishing I had a dozen more lifetimes to taste it all. I think every time we use our senses we are experiencing the act of creation and in that holy land of being at one with the universe and the planet.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Keeping it Simple

The teapot with no lid

A simple object, one source of light, and a limited palette

I recently discovered the website and although there is a closed membership there I found the daily challenges which I think are fun.  It fits in really well for me since I often do several paintings (small ones) a day.
I set this up in my studio with one light source and lovingly sculpted it with paint.  Once again I discover the longer I work the more feeling I seem to illicit in the piece.  It's a dear little teapot thrown and glazed by Bernard Leach's son, David in England.  My sister brought it back to me years ago and I have always cherished the beautiful little celadon teapot.  Unfortunately in 2001 there was an earthquake in Napa and it rocked the entire house and threw all the cabinet doors open in the kitchen and heaved everything to the ground.  I lost the lid of this one as well as all of my Waterford crystal that I seldom used......O structural damage so I'm happy for that!
I will always keep the teapot even though the lid is long gone.  I even have shards from other "dear" bowls I lost that day which I still keep.  I'm funny that way.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Promotions with a book Sally Rosenbaum

Sally Rosenbaum Paintings by Sally Rosenbaum | Make Your Own Book

While compiling and burning images to dvd for my publishers I noticed that I was out of ink on my printer.  I always like to print up thumbnails to accompany the dvds so I can have some authority on the final results.  Not all images come out like you want on someone else's computer.  SO being out of ink I decided to make up a small colorful booklet of some of my favorite paintings on where I've been cataloging and documenting all of my kids' travels and favorite snapshots for fun.  Here is the end result.  What a fabulous way to send a compilation of your paintings and very economical too.  I would have spent a lot more doing it on the computer with good paper and archival inks! 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Summer Notes

Summer Notes

Sometimes I wonder what to talk about but I'm so excited to post a visual that I go ahead and post and leave it in "draft" stage before publishing.  I posted a version of this last night and came back this morning to check my masterpiece and couldn't live with it, so out in the studio with my pjs on (and before coffee) working again on little areas where my eyes stuttered and were "bugged" by shapes and colors.  I spent more time working on the face getting more bone structure going on in the lit side of the face.  I added a blue purple component to balance out the orange and the green and tried to create more "shoulder."  I find it difficult sometimes to get the roll of the shoulder especially when the figure is backlit.  My first inclination is to go straight for the light on the turn of the shoulder and what appears dark behind it is simply too stark. This morning I blurred out those edges and brought more of the golden greens into the shoulder and more of the dress into the back ground and then redefined the shoulder.  I may still work more on bringing the front of her chest forward with more saturated color.
My first inclination when approaching a painting is to ram pure color into it.  Later , when I view it after having had some "time off," it ends up looking too garish..  Then the marvelous nifty neutrals come to my rescue.  I started installing them in and around all the foliage in the background and it helped a great deal to give air and relief to the background.  I guess the long and short of it is that it takes a few go rounds to come to the place in time when it is pronounced done. There's something about living with a painting for a time period.  I might even go so far as to say that as long as they are in my line of sight they are never done.  I have painted more than 4000 paintings in my life and I can only think of perhaps, 4, that I was really satisfied were done, as in DONE, wouldn't touch them again. Pierre Bonnard, I read, had a certain painting hanging in his room.  He used to paint directly on canvas stapled or affixed in some way to the wall but not stretched.  It was the day of his death and there was a certain leaf on a peach tree in the painting that was agitating his enjoyment of viewing it.  He struggled, got up, went over and touched it with some color, went back to bed, and later that day died, met his maker, and passed away. Discontent is a by product or side effect of painting and has to be tolerated, respected, and given accommodation, I suspect.

Post script:  I should remember the nifty neutrals and value and treasure the monotony of routine in the midst of dramatic times.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Two colors, two roses

Indian Yellow Rose 8 x 10  SOLD

The wonderful thing about painting is that I am  continually reviewing all the lessons I've ever had and getting hit on the head over and over again  in a way that feels new.  It's hard to get bored with painting if you're willing to change it up a bit now and then.  I don't think an outside observer would even notice the changes but I carry in my head a mission with each new painting whether it's a new color palette or revisiting old subject material with a new hand.

Tea in the Orchard SOLD 8 x 10

As my blog attests, I have been experimenting with color harmonies and trying to keep a somewhat limited palette while studying the color wheel and integrating my knowledge of the wheel and the manufacturers of the pigments, colors, and incorporating a memory of the transparency and the opaqueness of colors.  I really feel that the more I limit myself the more satisfied I am with the outcome. On the roses I used primarily indian yellow, ultramarine blue and indian red......and white, of course.  I don't know if anyone relates to this, but I feel more painterly, or more like an "artist" when I am mixing from a smaller palette. The one below, "Tea in the Orchard," is also the same palette but with prussian blue instead of ultramarine and including magenta.
I adore the power of Indian Yellow and its transparency.  

Friday, February 25, 2011

split complementary revisited

Summer of Innocence 16 x 20

 I decided to start with a composition from last summer that I had photographed and have painted in small quick sketches a few times.  I drew in the figure and then painted with burnt umber most of the linear aspects of the girl and the still life so that I could hold the drawing when I started painting.  On this one in particular, I decided to paint all the values in a mixture of black white and thalo green.
     I set it aside for a few days to dry and then decided to use a color harmony that I used last week with a rose still life.....split complementary of viridian green, grumbacher red, and orange............the first day I stuck only to those colors.  After drying I worked again on it adding some brights, dulls, richness and darks and felt compelled to add in a violet really helped in many ways to make the painting sit down on the canvas.
The final day of painting is the most exciting.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Thoughts from July painted in January

When you paint from photographs you can always revisit the summer!  I have painted this pose in a 30 x 40 but handled it completely differently.  First it was a full body pose and I had a very dark prussian blue, indian yellow and alizarin background. 
This one is lighter.  I am loving the 24 24 format and the symmetry that it provides. I feel like it makes the eye travel more quickly covering all corners of the canvas.  I painted it first in raw umber with a line in drawing, then completely painted it with ivory black and white and a touch of green.  After drying I added the color.  I think I will revisit the flesh after this drying.