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Overcoming the Fear of Painting Portraits

Artist Self-Portrait










Finally, after at least a decade (or two) of apprehension, I decided to take a workshop to learn how to paint portraits. Lora Murphy is an Irish artist I met a few years ago, and in September I attended the “Art and Soul Journey”, a 10 day trip to Ireland to learn about the people, places, and culture. The trip included art workshops offered by her and Kathryn Bevier at the Burren College of Art. I put what I learned from Lora on the back burner of my brain until most recently when I had to force myself to finally practice what she taught! It’s intimidating, trying to capture the essence of a personality, combined with accurate physical features. After several failed attempts I overcame insecurities and felt pretty good about this most recent self portrait attempt.

I used Lora’s color palette (her paints combine microcrystalline with encaustic) along with a strong contrast between lights, darks, shadows, and mid tones. Using her paints reminded me of watercolor – maintaining a focus on translucent layers and washes of color, always striving toward keeping the colors crisp and clean.

The portrait of Haley was challenging because there were very few shadows in the photo I used for reference. I tried to keep the skin tones pure and focused on facial planes more than the contrasting shadows.

Hopefully I will continue to practice painting portraits, I have my adult children I can use as models. It makes a difference to me that I am familiar (intimately) with the subject matter.

My self-portrait is currently included in “It Figures, 2017” at ARC Gallery

Exhibition dates: Nov 22 – Dec 16, 2017

Gallery hours: Wed-Sat 12-6pm Sunday 12-4pm

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The Learning Curve

I found the image above on a literary site, and relate to it on so many levels.

This is just my second blog post since switching from and I am still clicking around behind the scenes trying to figure out the structure, codes, which buttons lead to which results… technology is definitely not my strong suit! There is an ongoing learning curve because of the dynamic nature of the web.

Why do I blog?

Blogging is a way to share events, classes, creative processes, successes (and failures), and open up dialogue between you the reader and me the artist/writer. The internet has become an essential tool for almost every profession and if you don’t keep up you are left behind. Visual artists in particular have an opportunity to share their passion, market and promote themselves at no cost, and take advantage of opportunities to post their work for the entire world to see. When I started blogging almost ten years ago I treated blogging more like a personal journal (I was in graduate school at the time) and it was less about marketing and the business of the arts. I was also able to network and connect with fellow artists by following their blogs and I took advantage of learning from other like minded people. Because of technology, so much is at your finger tips, and there is a choice – to embrace the opportunity to learn and grow – or do nothing.

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Holiday Shows

All three of my submitted paintings (below) were accepted into “Imagine Denmark”, November 10 – 25, 2017, Kunstvaerket Galleri, Vitapark, Odder, Denmark. This is Denmark’s first International Encaustic show!

“Night Shadows” (below) is on display in Denver at the Knoll Gallery “Wax Stories II”, November 3 – January 6, 2018.

The Copley Society of Art annual Small Works Holiday Show opens November 9 – December 24, 2017 and will include the following five paintings, all inspired by my recent trip to Ireland.

Stone Wall in Ballyvaughan
mixed media on board
3.5″ x 2.5″
Out to Pasture
mixed media on board
2.5” x 3.5”
Roadside Freesia
mixed media on board
3.5” x 2.5”
mixed media on board
2.5” x 3.5”
Sacred Stones
mixed media on board
3.5” x 2.5”