Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Fields by the Lake
Oil on canvas panel, 6 x 10 inches

Just outside the image is a newly built subdivision. Perhaps the lake was originally there, or it may have been built as part of the subdivision. In any case, I hope the residents appreciate this angle as well - the beauty of these fields, the trees, and the shallow gully leading to the lake. Another gorgeous day here in Missouri!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

It's Showtime!
Oil on linen panel, 10 x 10 inches

I was out at Busch Wildlife a few days ago. Not all of the colors are gone yet, as shown by these amazing trees. But even the fairly bare trees sometimes make wonderful masses, such as what I saw across the lake on the right. Snow's coming, probably pretty soon, and we'll see what I can do with that...

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Fall Fields 4
Oil on linen panel

This is another view of the field from the last post, "Fall Fields 3". Again, the sun on the field and the cast shadows were amazing that day! This one was done entirely with painting knives. The knives allow - perhaps force - me to be a bit more abstract, and I really like the strokes and edges I'm getting. However, right now, painting knives don't seem appropriate for every painting. I'll be working more with them, and we'll see what changes!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Fall Fields 3
Oil on linen panel, 8 x 12 inches

I saw this field while driving to meet a friend for breakfast. I had to turn around and go back. The early morning sun was turning the grasses to gold and copper, and the shadows were wonderful blues and purples. A beautiful morning! 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

November Drive
Oil on linen panel, 8 x 10 inches
This is another area up near Troy, Missouri. Great light in November!

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. I surely have a lot to thank the Lord for, including the gift of being able to paint most days. Better yet, my faith, family, and friends. Enjoy the day and the pumpkin pie!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Fall Fields
Oil on archival panel, 6 x 8 inches

These are the first 2 of a series of fields and farmland in the early/mid fall colors. Here in Missouri, I'm not sure we'll get much of the late colors. Seems to be turning very rapidly!

The painting above is from the Illinois side of the Mississippi River bottoms. The day was cloudy, but at times the sun peeked out and the reds glowed! For those of you who know us, this was the best part of a truncated, frustrating anniversary trip. Despite problems, it was still a nice trip with great weather and scenery!

Fall Fields 2
Oil on archival panel, 6 x 8 inches

This painting is a scene near Troy, Missouri. Just a simple, serene field, punctuated by the sun turning it golden. Quite beautiful!

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Birch Buddies
Oil on archival panel, 8 x 6 inches

Found these at Busch Conservation Area near us. I don't often see birches here in Missouri other than river birches. These may be a different variety, since the bark isn't very typical. On the other hand, I certainly don't know a whole lot about trees... 
Anyway, they had such beautiful bark and shapes, they were a great inspiration for painting. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Fall Fruit
Oil on archival linen panel, 6 x 8 inches

Yes, eggplants are fruits (I had to look it up), but I don't think hydrangeas are! Both theses were taken from my yard/garden. Several things I was working on in this painting - more texture, painting without turps, as well as some compositional and color practices - Whew!
As always, hope you enjoy! 

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Quiet in Autumn
Oil on archival panel, 10 x 10 inches

Oil on archival panel, 5 x 7 inches

More landscapes this week. "Quiet in Autumn" is on the Cuivre River, and it was just that - so quiet with fish popping now and again. For "Gathered", my husband and I were in the Mississippi bottoms on the Illinois side (the river is just past that far line of trees). It was mid-morning, but the light was just so - many of the fields and pastures had such great oranges, pinks and reds! 

I'm taking advantage of the great weather and fall colors for painting and taking photos. Also gotta give a nod to Mary Gilkerson and her online workshop! Expect some more...

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Morning Grasses
Oil on archival panel, 5 x 7 inches
Still working on landscapes and enjoying it! The weather has been mostly fine, and the colors are really changing. Two years ago, we had the most beautiful fall ever. Not quite the same this year, but I love fall, no matter! I found this scene in the morning, after a very rainy night. For those who live nearby, it was north of I-70 and east of Hwy 79, the bottoms land near a tributary to the Mississippi, I believe. 

I'm still working on that online class and learning from it (kudos to Mary Gilkerson). The learning curve is still quite steep, and I'm still throwing away a lot of paintings, but you gotta make miles of bad art before you make something that's any good!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Near Harvest
Oil on archival panel, 6 x 6 inches

I've been taking an online workshop with Mary Gilkerson, a landscape artist I really admire. Part way through the course so far. Many wiped out panels so far. Finally, one that doesn't automatically go in the trash pile! 

If you know her work and mine, you can see some of her influence. I've copied certain works of several artists, and I often find that to be helpful. It's always interesting, as I go back to my own work, to see what may have changed. Taking a workshop is similar, but better. The ideas and thoughts are actually articulated rather than only inferred from the copying process. I'm trying out new ideas, thoughts...yet, I still see "me" in my work.  

Learning curves tend to be very steep at times and rather flat at times. Either one can be quite frustrating, but I would rather be learning. If a person is succeeding all the time, I guess she's not trying anything new. 

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Oil on archival panel, 8 x 10 inches

Although this looks almost like a shrine or memorial to this person, in reality each of the objects has a different meaning and memory to me. It is nostalgic, just a few different recollections rather than all tied up in one. 

As for technique, I'm continuing to keep solvents out of the studio. I'm surprised that the studio smells only a bit different; odorless mineral spirits are pretty odorless, and most of the smell comes from the oil paints themselves. That's not to say I mind the smell of the paint, but it has to be healthier!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Oil on archival panel, 5 x 7 inches

This is another view of Lake Superior. Some lucky folks have a house looking out on the lake, just to the left of the image. My friends and I spent a good share of an afternoon looking for interesting rocks and just enjoying the quiet on this shore. Such a peaceful, pleasant, and rejuvenating day!

Friday, September 30, 2016

Cone and Cup
Oil on archival panel, 6 x 6 inches

Since I work at home, I've been trying to develop a solvent-free studio. It's been a real learning curve, dealing with either oily, slimy paintings or dry, crusty ones. Finally, I think I'm getting the hang of this. This is my first painting entirely solvent free - hurrah! 

I love this cup/vase. It was made by a potter I know, here in town. I've tried to use it in still life setups this past summer, but it didn't really work out. I think the fall colors and the pine cone set it off nicely. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Nectarines in Glass
Oil on archival panel, 8 x 6 inches

Right now, I think I'll never get bored painting glass (but ask me again in 45 years). Loved the way the shadows on the vase itself interrupted the reflections. Enjoy it!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Hulled Up
Oil on archival panel, 6 x 8 inches

On a trip to Michigan a couple of years ago, I found these boats pulled up on a small stream about half a mile from Lake Superior. I was caught by the reflection of the stern then, but hadn't tried to paint it until now. I think that, while I really liked the photo, it seemed very intimidating. So I focused in on the boats themselves, completely changing the composition. I do like the composition, but the foliage remained a challenge! Thanks for looking.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Twist and Shout
Oil on archival panel, 8 x 6 inches

My folks gave me a these cups and a matching teapot a long time ago - probably about the time the song came out! That's been a while, but this is the 1st time I've painted them. 

Oil on archival panel, 6 x 6 inches

This started as a simple still life that just needed something. As i worked on it, I started seeing several interpretations. I'll leave each of you to think about your own meaning. Or just enjoy it as is!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Pink Sky at Morning
Oil on archival panel, 8 x 6 inches

I drive by this barn and tree intermittently, and it always catches my attention. At sunrise the other day, it was all just incredible. I only wish paint and my abilities were equal to the beauty we see in the world!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Odd Planes
Oil on archival panel, 10 x 8 inches

This is a painting of my husband's antique plane (facing), and another that maybe wouldn't be considered an antique, but is still quite old (on its side). The name refers, of course, to the tools, but also to the odd surface planes of them as well. Certainly a challenge! Hope you enjoy!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Resting Among the Shadows
Oil on archival panel, 5 x 7 inches

This has been a week of mostly still life paintings, spurred, in part, by a couple of new thrift store finds. Lots of reflections, lots of greens. This little lime peeking out makes great distortions in the bottles. I also was excited by the warmth of the slightly old lime against the cool bottles. Thanks for checking these out!

Egg and Silver
Oil on archival panel, 6 x 6 inches

The sharpness of the red reflections on the silver contrasting with the soft pink on the egg really got my attention in this painting. 

Kiwis Dressed in Pink
Oil on archival panel, 6 x 6 inches

As for this one, I don't know what I was thinking with this crazy pink. But contrasted against the greens of the kiwis and causing the pink-to-red reflections, I actually enjoy it! Hope you do, too!

Sentries on the Hill
Oil on archival panel, 5 x 8 inches

I drive past this stand of trees several times a week, and have been wanting to paint them (the first 2 tries were just disasters!). My mother, having been raised in Nebraska, says it reminds her of the sandhill area there. It's been decades since I've been there, but when I think of it, the colors do remind me of them. Any Nebraskans out there?

Monday, August 22, 2016

Tomatoes and Turquoise
Oil on archival panel, 6 x 6 inches

More booty from the garden. Love the red and turquoise together, but it is a bit difficult to photograph! Thanks for checking it out!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Haves and Have-Nots
Oil on archival panel, 6 x 8 inches

On one hand, this is produce from my garden - love these sweet cherry tomatoes! But on the other hand, from the time I first had this image in my mind, I was thinking about the title. So much in the news these days - worldwide violence, illness, want, social injustice. Here in the US, all of those, along with conversations pertaining to upcoming elections at all levels. As for the painting, which are the haves and which are the have-nots? Do the glasses represent prisons or protections? Do we each place ourselves inside or outside the glasses? What about those "like us" and those "not like us"? What confines us and what enfolds us? When are they the same thing? Tough questions.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Not Quite Rush Hour
Oil on canvas, 8 x 10 inches
Another cityscape. The subject matter kind of reminds me of Wayne Thiebaud's (master of repetition and variation) "Heavy Traffic", though the paintings have a much different intention, I think. I took this photo travelling into Chicago. Maybe you Chicagoans recognize some of the skyline, but it's certainly not photographic. Thanks for checking it out!

Corner Shadows
Oil on panel, 12 x 6 inches

I've been continuing to work on city scenes and the light and shadows that I find there. This is just a rusty, weedy corner found in our downtown area, but the light and shadows that morning were intriguing to me. The most ordinary can often be quite interesting.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Between the Blue and Brick
Oil on archival panel, 8 x 10 inches

Have you looked at the light and shadows in the paintings of Joaquin Sorolla, John Singer Sargent (not just his portraits; check out his many sketches and paintings of his travels to Italy, Algiers, and elsewhere), and the contemporary painter, Colley Whisson? What an education they all have to offer! I've been looking more closely at their paintings as well as others', and I hope I'm learning a thing or two. This is from early last Saturday morning with a strong sun (though much humidity) in our "old downtown" area. Hope you enjoy!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

A Pair
Oil on canvas board, 6 x 6 inches
Lately, I've been working on a few other things - landscapes and such, and haven't done much that's worth posting. But in the grocery store the other day, I found this pear that was so red and so saturated that I had to try to paint it. So here's my humble attempt to interpret what is already done so well by nature. Aren't we blessed!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Escape Plans
Oil on archival panel, 5 x 7 inches

I've recently been working on landscapes. Learning, but not painting anything I felt was passable, even. Went back to some fruit, and struggled with the peach. Peaches are just plain hard - as is anything with lots of color changes. Difficult to show its roundness and shadow with the myriad of colors. Add the fuzzy texture, and you have a significant challenge! Overall, though, I'm pleased with this one. My next goal is to see if I can paint peaches without all the noodling. I've been working on another... we'll see!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Where did the time go?
Oil on archival panel, 5 x 7 inches
Not for sale

John Singer Sargent said, "A portrait is a picture in which there is just a tiny little something not quite right about the mouth." My granddaughter has been wanting me to paint her for a while now, but she's not terribly thrilled with this. Sargent also said, "Every time I paint a portrait, I lose a friend." Alas!

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Asparagus Adorned
Oil on archival panel, 7 x 5 inches
Not for Sale

After a day (yesterday) of messing up everything I put a brush to, I all but chained myself to the easel and made myself try again. A simple set up that needed something. I put a blue paper to the right, outside the painting field, and the reflections made a considerable difference. 
I generally use pthalo blue only in small amounts - mostly in very small areas of reflections. But it's such an exciting color. Here, I was able to use it much more than usual, and I believe it works.  

Friday, July 8, 2016

Tomatoes and Tomato
Oil on archival panel, 7 x 5 inches
Fresh tomatoes from the garden for this. Their colors and reflections are never boring to paint. Always trying to loosen up and fight my tendency to overwork a painting. Here I've reached toward this goal, but part of the gratification (amusement or frustration, sometimes!) of painting is that each turns out differently from what I expect.   

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Blueberry Minions
Oil on archival canvas panel, 6 x 8 inches

This was a real challenge, though I enjoyed doing it. The colors of honeydew melons aren't as straightforward as you would think! Also challenging was getting the light to shine through the thin slice and painting seeds that read as seeds without overdoing it. It is a joy, though, to paint the plants and produce of spring and summer. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Summer Kitchen
Oil on archival panel, 6 x 6 inches

I'm afraid I posted little during the month of June. I spent most of the month with my kids, their spouses/significant others, and grandkids, all visiting at once. Complete chaos at times, but totally worth it! The past few days, I've been painting a lot, but little has seemed to work out well until this. I was casting around looking for inspiration, when I glanced at the booty from the farmers' market on the counter. The corn leaves were intriguing, and the peach provided the color punch. The whole thing was interesting, challenging, and fun. Hope you enjoy it!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Red, White, and Blueberries
Oil on archival panel, 6 x 6 inches

A great time of year for blueberries and a red cup. This was a joy to paint. The berries' shapes and colors are always interesting, and besides, they're delicious when I'm done painting!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Morning Audience
8 x 10 inches, oil on archival panel

Another of the Ever After High/Monster High doll paintings, inspired by my granddaughter leaving the dolls in the bathroom. Were the dolls left behind? Helping her brush her teeth? Did they just finish a hot-tub soak in the sink? I'm not sure, but it makes one wonder... 
Artistically, most of us paint what we know. This is what I know. Quirky and fun! Hope you enjoy it, too. 

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Cecil and Ida
8 x 8 inches, oil on archival panel

This is another painting done from old, black and white family photos. I enjoyed doing the bit of pattern in the painting, which is unusual for me. As for the curtain behind Ida, I believe that, itself, was the photographer's painted backdrop. I kept thinking of Edouard Vuillard and looked him up again. The patterns in his works are thought to be symbolic of emotion and experiences. Beyond symbolism and in spite of the flatness of them, the patterns give a feeling of life, movement, and joy to his paintings. Here, I've tried to use pattern, only a bit of shadow in the dresses, and some strong contrast to refer to the photo reference. I have some more of these paintings in mind...

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Up Next - Daylillies
7 x 5 inches, oil on archival panel

After 2 utter failures trying to paint these lillies, I woke up to this. Some dying, one just opening. I was ready, even excited to try yet again! I really enjoy the colors created by light shining through the petals. Glass, as well, is fun and interesting to paint. 

By Tremaine Shelter
8 x 8 inches, oil on archival panel

Just as the trees were about filled out, I saw these folks having a picnic and enjoying one of the first really warm days. Did a short sketch and worked from it and a photo I took. Idyllic! The sun was overhead, filtering through the leaves and making great shadows on the grass. The lake was calm and blue. The kids were even playing well together (you moms out there, don't tell me you didn't notice!).

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Muriel and Mother, 1926
10 x 8 inches, oil on archival panel

Emma S.
7 x 5 inches, oil on archival panel
Not for sale

We have a box of old (back to tintypes) black and white photos my grandfather gave us many years ago. They are of our family and friends of the family. Most have names, though I can't always place the person. Some have dates. Others have no information whatsoever. Some of these folks I remember from my childhood and as a young adult. Many I have never met. I painted a few of these years ago and have been wanting to start a series of paintings with them. Emma S. is apparently a very distant cousin, and I know that Muriel was a friend of my grandparents. 

I painted Emma S. first, but wondered why in the world would I paint a sepia painting of a sepia photograph. I know it was the family connection and the fact that she looks like certain members of our current family. Artistically, though, I was not at all satisfied. After a few more trials and failures, I painted Muriel and Mother. I have to give quite a bit of credit to the photographer - the stark background, the sun and back lighting, the women's stance and dress all tell me a story about their lives. Do you see a story? I expect to do more of these in the future. 

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Just Opened
6 x 5 inches, oil on archival panel

Early Rose
6 x 6 inches, oil on archival panel

Around here, we've had a relatively wet, mostly cool spring, and it seems everything has been blooming amazingly - it's beautiful! I've done several small studies of flowers from my yard. Above are a couple. Floral studies present challenges for me, mostly in the amount of detail included. However, I enjoy the colors, finding the shadows, even watching them open, turn, and droop as I am painting them. I really enjoy having a garden and even enjoy the work of it - at least in the spring and fall when it's not really hot. This seems an extension of my work in the yard and gardens. Later on, look for some of my vegetables! 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Playing for-ever after
8 x 8 inches, oil on archival panel

Garden Peas with Doll 
10 x 8 inches, oil on archival panel

Here are a couple of recent paintings of Ever After High dolls. These and the Monster High dolls are the Barbies of this generation. I enjoy cobbling together and painting these quirky still life setups. Sometimes my granddaughter helps by not picking up her dolls, toys, toothbrushes, and other stuff. My brain then starts seeing an image develop, and here are a couple of examples. More in my mind...

More recently, I've been taking advantage of all the blooming flowers - what a spring! However, I find them a challenge. I'll post a couple of those soon. 

Please check out my website at rebeccahelton.com.

This Blog - Art and Life

Thanks for looking... 

I do love art - the main subject of this blog. But I also have a great life: a wonderful, 4-generation family, friends, faith, and at least 4 careers in my past. Finally I'm back where I started - back to art again. I've painted intermittently for years, and finally, I'm able to do this nearly daily.  

What excites me is my connection to and finding the beauty in the commonplace stuff. In the past 10-15 years, there has been a burst of daily painters, painting their everyday world in countless ways. But artists have been describing this ordinary stuff forever. From the animals, plants, utensils, and tools in ancient art throughout all the centuries, artists have been describing what they know, what they use, what they see. Their reasons for presenting these things have been varied, from just showing the beauty or sometimes the unpleasant nature of these objects, to using them as symbolism, to making an argument, to evoking emotion, to introducing new ideas, and more. I have some really great historical and contemporary company in this endeavor. 

What humbles me is trying to express my connection and the beauty of the objects through paint. I'll probably always fall short of my goals and the images in my head, but I trust the process will lead me to different images, different goals. I'm experimenting - with ideas as well as technique. I see this practice and discipline less as a line from beginning to end; more as a branching tree. We'll see where it brings me...

Thanks again for looking, and I hope you enjoy the journey, too!