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Desert Trees

As I mentioned in the heading to this blog, this is my journey back into art.  I noticed that I had been concentrating on pastel for the most part for the past few months and I realized that I had forgotten my quest to try “everything” whether the results were good, bad or indiferent.

So, in that vein, today I’m showing you my first attempt at an impressionistic watercolor landscape.  I have earlier bog entries that show that I can paint realistic flowers, etc.  in watercolor, but I realized that I had not really attempted the looser, more free style that I would like to be reflected in all my work, no matter the medium.  So, here is my first attempt.  The photo it was taken from had more trees, and rocks on the sand and dirt through out the scene.  I decided to simplify (I like it better, plus since I was jumping in like this, I thought I’m ease up a little.

I hope you enjoy the painting.  (And, no, you don’t usually have a road, fence, etc. divining the painting right up the middle, but I wasn’t aware I had done that until it was done.  That’s another argument for making thumbnail sketches before starting to paint.  One, I have never learned to do as a habit.  Too anxious to get color on paper, I expect.

The painting is small 5-1/2″ X 8-1/2″ on cold press Strathmore 140 lb. watercolor paper using myWinson & Newton travel watercolor set.


Yep! I did it! 100 Pastel Challenge is 50% complete as of today.

I know I just said in my last blog that I was going to give this a little rest and move on to some watercolors waiting in the wings, but I just couldn’t stop so close to a significant milestone.  And, to add to the “excitement”, I decided that each of the last four would be done with pastels I had purchased, but never used.  After all, this is supposed to be a learning experience, right?

So, here we go:  #47  This was done with a new set of Senneliers….yum!


#48  This one was done with a set of Jack Richeson.  They turned out to be student quality (my bad…I didn’t read the label well enough and they were on sale), I found them hard as rocks and very, very difficult to work with.   They could be used as an underpainting, using water or acetate to spread them out and get into the valleys, but, frankly, the lack of color permanency is enough to make me junk them.

This is #49 (almost there) done with a set of Blick.  They were acceptable, but I still prefer Unisons.

Ta-da!   This is # 50 and done with a set of Faber-Castels.  I’d rank them somewhere between Jack Richeson and Blick.

So, the challenge is halfway done and I am indeed going to put away the pastels for awhile!

I hope you have been enjoying this little adventure!

Kansas Farm Version II

Well, I’m not sure how well the changes are showing on this version, but I added more yellow/gold in the foreground and worked on the fence and far field some more.

Sometimes I have a problem deciding when something is “done”, but I like this better.

Please enjoy.   Comments are always welcome!

AIDS 7 Day Bike Ride

As many of you know, my son lives now in Mill Valley  (no safe room in the loft in SF for the baby), but he and a friend are joining the SF AIDS Bike Ride in June.  It is a 5 day ride from SF to LA to raise money for the aids organization as well as increase aids awareness.  Each rider must collect a minimum of $3K to join the ride, so I thought I’d include the info on this event in case you were interested in helping support.  Thom has a website for his biking friends called Team Lope as well as his sites for comic book illustration called “Third Rail Design” and the one for his miniature robot drawings called “”.   And that’s on top of a full-time architecture consultant job and an almost 1 year old baby!

I asked him to send me a link to the event information and how to participate.  So, here’s his message:

Information on AIDS Lifecycle 2010:

In June 2010, I’m riding 585 miles of gorgeous California coastline on a fixed-gear bike over 7 days, in order to raise money ($11M dollars a year for each of the last 3 years) for AIDS prevention and treatment, cure research and services for disenfranchised gay and lesbian youth in the SF Bay Area.

AIDS/LifeCycle is a fully supported, 7-day bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles, June 6-12, 2010. It’s a life-changing ride—not a race—through some of California’s most beautiful countryside. AIDS/LifeCycle is co-produced by the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and is designed to advance their shared interest to end the pandemic and human suffering caused by AIDS.

With that stated, I humbly ask you to look into your hearts and see if this is something that you want to give a few bucks to.  if so, you can donate by credit card at this link —

(if you’d rather write a check, there’s a link at the bottom of that page which will help you do so.)

and don’t forget, many companies will match their employees’ charity donations.  If you work for one of these generous organizations, please make sure and give them your receipt so that you can see your gift increased!  (just remember to do so in enough time to get the matching gift into the revenue stream before 6 June.)

Each rider must raise $3,000 before the event, and I’m riding with my buddy Blair as a team (The Team Lope Tyre Club) and we collectively raise $6,000 with a goal of higher than that… so everything helps!


Fundraiser Event Notice: Team Lope is also having a fund-raising party in gorgeous SF!

DATE : Sunday, 25 April
LOCATION : Wild Side West, 424 Cortland Avenue @ Wool Street, between Andover and Bennington Streets, Bernal Heights, San Francisco, CA, USA
MAP : Wild West Side

The Wild West Side offers a great, multi-level outdoor area.  There will be drink specials, trivia contests with killer prizes, and a special treat for anyone who’d like to make me, or even one of their friends, suffer: we will have a bike on rollers on which you can force us to ride and balance for dollars! Obviously, we’ll be accepting donations at the fundraiser, too.

Thanks for your consideration, and lets all endeavor to contribute to a future free of the stigma of AIDS!
Team Lope Tyre Clubbe

Starting the Decade with Drawings

It’s been a busy holiday season and I hope it was wonderful for you all.  Presents and food and family ruled, but not necessarily in that order.  It was out first Christmas with our new granddaughter, Zoe (7 months) and it was heavenly!   BUT, I didn’t get much artwork done.   Let’s see….turkey……..turkey….art… was tough!  The choice, not the turkey!

My New Year’s almost Resolution is to try to keep up the daily art, so I decided that if I couldn’t stop and paint, I could at least draw a little.   I gave myself a Christmas present (well, one of them) of a 5 X 3 spiral sketch pad by Canson and a new Stylist Pen (one of my favorite drawing pens….like the flair).  The pad and pen are below.  The first 4 days of drawings follow.

drawing pad & pen 1-4-20

By the way, I got this idea from my son, Thom Chiaramonte, who makes small sketches on post-its.  I think they have helped him through many a conference call in S.F.  His are all on the subject of robots (I think they are all that).  You would enjoy his sketches and his sense of humor.  His site for these drawings is:   Have fun.

#1 Bouquet of strange flowers    (1/1/10)


#2 Mountain Chickadee (1-2-10)


#3 I call him Pepe  (1-3-10)


#4 Lillies


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Autumn Leaf and Challenge Announcement

Fall leaf 11-10

This is a quick watercolor done this evening of a leaf collected while walking my dogs.  Fall in L.A. is a strange affair. Hot temps and very few beautiful leaves.  Most trees just go from green to brown and drop leaves when the wind blows.    The image is 4 X 4 done with Winsor & Newton watercolors in my sketch book.  Not really watercolor paper, but works ok.

And now for the challenge announcement:

I’ve decided to bite off probably more than I can chew, but I’m going to try.  There is a movement going around in the art world about a comment that has been attributed to several people over the years, so who knows….that to really know a medium, one needs to complete 100 paintings in that medium. In last month’s issue of the Pastel Journal,  artist, Maria Bagetta, wrote an article about her having achieved that goal.  In order to make this workable, Maria confined her paper size to 10 X 10 and decided to restrict herself to 30 minutes on each painting.

The photo of the 100 paintings is amazing!  Debrah Secor, a pastel artist and teacher in Albuquerque, N.M. challenged readers of the website, Wet Canvas, to do the same thing.  She opened up the challenge to any medium, not just pastel, and each person could choose the size of painting and time limitation.  She had a great response in October that has rolled over to November.  There’s one member that has completed something like 70 so far and is expecting to complete the 100 this month.

So………….I decided to pick up the challange (there is no time limitation, of course and many may not finish, but so far they are  having a great time of it.   I will work in pastel, 5 X 7 size and 30 minute time limitation.

The following illustration is called a Notan.  A Japanese word for simplified drawing of the values (dark, medium & light) of the proposed painting.   Unfortunately, I skipped the medium value, but you’ll get the idea.

That’s as far as I got today.   Let me know if anyone in Vegas makes book on my finishing!


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LAG Fall Art Show

I’ve been busy preparing for the art show this weekebd.  I entered the drawing of the house on the hill, as well as two pastels that you can see in earlier posts.  The show is tomorrow (Sunday) and awards will be made when they close down at 4.  I’m really happy with the work that I entered and enjoyed helping out getting paintings registered today and watching the set up.

Last Spring, I entered 4 paintings and if you go done a couple of pages of older posts, you’ll see me standing next to the paintings.  One (a cat drawing) was awarded a blue ribbon and one (the farm scene in the snow)  received an Honorable Mention.  I was estatic because it was the first art show I ever entered.

This time, however,  as I checked paintings in, I think I came to realize that it will be ultra exciting to be chosed against most of them.  Ours is a small art guild, but filled with extremely talented artisits.  Also, for shows like this, entrance is open to non-members  (we all pay an entrance fee)  This is part of our being a non-profit, as well as getting the city to let us use public buildings for our meetings and shows.  It is typical for a few people to join the Guild after seeing the show, or entering as a non=member.  Which is wonderful!

My next post will be tomorrow night or probably Monday with photos of the show and some paintings as well.   I’ll show the three that I entered whether they win any thing or not.  It is a great experience just to be a part of it.

Summer Field in Pastel

First pastel

Although I did some pastel portraits back in the 70′s, I really didn’t do too many. It was hard to find a class in those days. Then I spent years designing and selling quilts in shows etc., and my art was sporatic. Then one day, I found “Paint the Changing Seasons in Pastel” by Elizabeth Mowry and I was hooked. The pastel above is the first one I tried after a couple of practice dabs and you can see the Mowry influence in the strokes. Who would have thought you didn’t have to smudge the life out of the medium? I’m off to an art guild meeting, but I thought tomorrow I’ll do this scene again and see how my techniques have changed. Should be fun!

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September Sunflowers


Sometime ago, I saw a bouquet of sunflowers in a stall that had purple leaves (the sunflower, not the stall).  So, today I thought I’d play around with the unusual colors .   This was done on the same sketchbook (5-1/2 X 8-1/2) using  Windsor Newton paints from my small travel case.  As I stated in the opening to the blog….this is my “adventure”.   So, I’m working on trying different media, different styles and different colors.  Sometimes I’ll be comfortable with the results and sometimes I won’t……….but I find I always learn something.  Here I learned I didn’t like the leaves as they turned out, but maybe I’ll think of another way to do them someday.  After all, I liked what I saw in the flower booth.

Fishing Village


Well, I decided yesterday that I was letting too many things keep me from getting the important stuff done…   So, I’m going to try again to join the daily painters on Wet Canvas.  Today, I posted this sketch done in my favorite sketching style using a flair pen (non-permanent ink) and then brushing water to push the ink around.  This was done on my 5-1/2 X 8-/1/2 sketch pad.  Just a lot of fun….which is my preferred way to start the day as well as end it.

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