Saturday, December 19, 2009


I couldn't resist squeaking out one more painting before the holidays. There's lots of fresh holly in San Francisco right now that provided some great inspiration for this piece:

"Of all the trees that are in the wood, the holly bears the crown."

Happy Holidays!


Wednesday, December 16, 2009


"Arise, shine, for your light has come..." - Isaiah 60:1


Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Friday, December 04, 2009

A Butterfly's Adventure

"Those who turn back know only the ordeal but they who persevere remember the adventure." - Milo L. Arnold

Welcome to this special premiere of one of my thesis paintings. I have been keeping them mostly under wraps during production over the past year and am excited to reveal them to you! I have called my thesis Faithful creating a total of 15 paintings with varied subject matter that I hope will inspire you to pursue your dreams.

Keep watching Bethany's Journal as I release the rest of the series early in the new year.

Thanks for following!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Arise (Study)

Here is a study for a large still life I'm working on... I'm loving the textural ground and lots of Burnt Umber. I like the idea of figuring out what you see on the edge of consciousness. What is clear and what is not? Maybe you see something you wouldn't normally see when fully awake. That's something I'll be exploring more in the large piece.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Green Purple Pink

Wham, bam! A huge one-day painting... 24"x36".


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Monday, November 23, 2009

Boudoir (Study)

This is a small study for the larger painting I'll be completing in class this week. I've been working more and more on expressing mood and emotion in my paintings and this is increasingly irrespective of detail and perspective. I'm finding classical techniques are often unreliable in conveying what I want to say.

My teacher, Baoping Chen, spoke to me last week about the process of painting first what you see, then what you know, and finally, what you feel. Personally I believe there is one more step: painting what you sense spiritually. I think this is a separate process that involves perception apart from the five senses. This is something I continually grapple with in my art.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Window Tree

Tree at my window, window tree,
My sash is lowered when night comes on;
But let there never be curtain drawn
Between you and me.

- Robert Frost

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Purple Rain

This is from my expressive painting class this week. Fun with texture!

And yes, I totally have a Prince song in my head right now...


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Charles Bridge

A favourite vista: Charles Bridge viewed from across the Vltava river in Prague, Czech Republic.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Figure with Texture

This was a small exploration I did in class this week. All I want to do is add detail! But I restrained. You can fill in the blanks.

The Illustration Friday quote especially suits me this week: "The supreme accomplishment is to blur the line between work and play." - Arnold J. Toynbee

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Self Portrait at 30 (process)

I'm close to the completion of my MFA in just a few weeks but have found that it's been good to keep my hands busy with side paintings. Watch this journal as I will reveal my thesis paintings here soon (and perhaps some of my process too)!

Below are a couple shots of a 'side painting': my self-portrait in progress. The first is my initial lay-in of colors and some structure. The second I worked more on the face and values. Next I'll solidify what I'm doing with the background before I go back into the face some more. Portraits are always difficult but a self-portrait especially so as I've found I don't keep as still as I like! This makes it hard to capture the bone structure.

Something I've been exploring more lately is working with desaturated colors and limiting saturation to the focal point. This is difficult with acrylics but also because I love color and now feel like I'm painting with 'mud' everywhere. I hope this will end up making my paintings more sophisticated.

Oh look! Here are my brushes. I can never get them quite as clean as new.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Self-Portrait at 30 (Underdrawing)

This is the underdrawing for a self-portrait I'm working on... a celebration of my 30th and the impending end of my MFA.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Agapanthus Fields

Today is the three year anniversary of my art journal since my first post on October 27, 2006: Man on Street. Boy, my work's changed a lot since then! But... I still love bright colors.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Quick Portrait Studies

Sometimes it's fun just to paint quickly and see what comes out. The top is a self-portrait done in about twenty minutes and below that is a painting from a model done in about five minutes.

Oh, and here's a two minute sketch of my pastor:

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Purple Orchid

I know. Another flower... but I hope it brings you joy on this stormy day.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Yellow Rose

Another "warm-up" painting... I used various paint applications: direct painting, a rub-out technique, glazing and I also scumbled across the surface to obtain the haziness in the background. I enjoy vibrant colors but am working on variations in color temperature to obtain depth. This is a certain variation of yellow rose on view at the Rose Gardens in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco.


Wednesday, October 07, 2009

By the Water (detail)

This is a detail view of a full length nude I completed today. The model said it was like I "reached into her brain and found out where she wanted to be" and brought it to life on canvas.


Wednesday, September 30, 2009


"His remarks have been misinterpreted."


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Change in the Weather

Another small study... these are turning out to be a fun way to warm up! Happy Tuesday. :-)


Thursday, September 24, 2009

In the Garden

"I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses..." - C. Austin Miles

Well, I'm not sure if I like the outcome of this painting, but as David Bayle and Ted Orland say in their book Art & fear: " is always ahead of execution...". I think, above all, the mood was essential to capture in this piece. This was painted in acrylic on an 18"x24" canvas.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Good Morning Gladiola

Gladiolas are one of my favourite flowers! This is a quick small study at 6"x6".
I enjoy the subtle tonal variations you can get within just one flower's colour, especially when lit from behind.


Friday, September 18, 2009

Bright and Sunny

Painted all in one afternoon on location at Stow Lake these pieces were an absorbing study of bright light and sunny color. First, sold.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Go on Anyway

"Do not let the fact that things are not made for you, that conditions are not as they should be, stop you. Go on anyway. Everything depends on those who go on anyway." - Robert Henri


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Even Shorter Sketches

It's great to warm up for the Fall with some short sketches (as I try to remember how to draw the figure). These are two minutes each in a blue Prismacolor pencil.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Yellow Hibiscus

One of my favourite tropical flowers in an unconventional side view. Happy 50th Birthday Hawaii!


Saturday, August 22, 2009

Audacious Alpaca

First Alpaca I've ever met. He was pretty cheeky!


Monday, August 17, 2009

Birds of a Feather

I feel like I've done lots of birds recently... but these guys were just begging to get their portraits done. How could I resist?!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Among the Branches

A personal project related to the following quote: "The birds of the air nest by the waters; they sing among the branches." Psalm 104:12 NIV


Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Orange Peaches

Well, this was really fun to paint. I'm increasingly torn between tight realism and playful abstraction... I hope this piece successfully marries the two. And here's part of the underdrawing and a close up for your enjoyment:


Saturday, August 01, 2009

The Owl

Another complicated still life. I love this owl and hope you do too! I think he's trying to process all the books he just read...

Monday, July 27, 2009

Summertime and a Cup of Tea

One of my most favourite painters is the woman impressionist Mary Cassatt.

My mom has a print of this painting which I've adored since childhood. It is called "Summertime". I enjoy the work because of the beautiful reflective quality of the water that echoes the mood of the ladies in the boat. I enjoy the textural brushwork, the repetition of the birds with variation in their style, the graphic nature of the boat coming into the frame, as well as the distance created by fuzzy trees at the shoreline and the more indistinct ducks. I also love how there is created the sense of strong outdoor light with a shadow under the younger girls hat. There is a real sense of the moment in this painting which I think makes it fresh even over a hundred years since it was created.

Another painting of hers which I saw in exhibit here in San Francisco last year, is "The Cup of Tea 2". Again I love the textural brushstrokes that get smaller in detail and more dainty as you look closer at the tea cup and her fingers placed so precisely. I love the sense of depth you get with the gestural flowers and the atmospheric brushwork beyond. I also enjoy her use of unexpected colors, like the strong red on the edges of her dress and at the edge of her nose. It's interesting even how the blues in the flowers behind are echoed in the blues on her glove. This piece utilizes the concept of overlapping in a small space to obtain depth. The edge of the chair is in front of the woman who is in front of the flower stand.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A New Creation

This piece was inspired by Hawaii and the beach... and maybe a butterfly stopped by?

This is also the first painting I completed solely with the new Winsor & Newton Artists' Acrylics. I was impressed first with the buttery consistency of the paint which reminds me of working with oils. Also as it has a slower drying time I was able to blend it more like I would with oils. Formerly to make the paint flow I would add more water, and I'm told this breaks down the pigment's tinting strength. With this painting I used less water as the paint itself flowed nicely.

The colors do seem pretty vivid though I still want to check out the darkness of the final painting as compared to the out of the tube hue. And although the paint dries slower than other acrylic brands I found within about a half hour of my final brush stroke the whole painting was dry. (I didn't use a hair dryer and I don't paint that thick).

Overall I was quite pleased and hope my local art stores will begin to carry this brand!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Self Portrait with Flower

One of the most meddlesome things about using acrylic is that it dries darker than when you first paint it, as the binder used in the paint shifts from white to transparent. This is an exercise I assigned myself to help see the subtle color shifts.

And this is part of my palette:

I just got some new Winsor & Newton Artists' Acrylics which claim to be brilliantly colored and not to shift darker as they dry, as they use a transparent binder. I'm looking forward to trying them out with my next few paintings... we'll see what happens!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Color Play

How many colors can you include in one still life? This was a fun exercise...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Another still life... the reds were hard to control, but I had fun trying. Also, more texture play.

I love the hibiscus!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Aqua and Ochre

Working with a lighter tonal key and messing with textural effects.


Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Texture Play

Fun with surface quality and color placement, this is a study for one of my thesis paintings.


Saturday, July 04, 2009

Matters of Decorum

So... this is my sink. And now it's art! Enjoy.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Reflective Grapes

A study of a reflective surface, this is acrylic on hardboard and the original size is 8"x10". Yum!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Alla Prima Apples

This was done with a limited palette all in one sitting. Now I have lots of apples to eat!

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