Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Departing Ocracoke...

Went out to Ocracoke Saturday for their annual Oyster Roast.  As I was departing on the next morning's ferry, I decided to get a quick shot of the Lighthouse.  Without planning, just pure coincidence, I caught the rising sun in the spot where the light shines…  Zowie!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Nice exposure...

The New Bern Sun Journal featured a photo of some of my paintings at Fine Arts at Baxter's in a recent edition:  Here's a link to the article.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

12 x 12s

Got a little series of 12 x 12s completed - took 3 into Spouter's Inn for the ArtWalk last week-end.  Great fun.  It was lovely weather so I worked on a demo out on the deck - more on that later : )

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


Here's my latest work in progress.  Feels good to get back to work after being on a tear of house projects!

Saturday, November 22, 2014


A friend of mine wanted to give her daughter a "discreet," sketchy nude and she showed me some examples of work she liked of other artists… I distilled several of the ideas and came up with this for her - I'm so pleased that she liked it!  Hmmmmm, may have sparked a new series...

Saturday, November 15, 2014


I've been playing around with doing quicker loose sketches of faces on an abstract background.  I kinda like the effect…

Friday, November 14, 2014

Update on last post...

Here's how my "crooked smile" painting turned out.  I like the under layer of bold color peaking through…

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Faces are my "haystacks"

I've decided that faces are my "haystacks" - as you know, Monet painted a series of haystacks to explore the different light at various times of day and seasons.  I'm thinking that's one of the reasons I like to paint faces - to explore the effects of different lighting, texture and emotions on the features.  Its a constant fascination for me.  Even when I go off and paint a series on some other subject, the faces always seem to call me back…

Here's another work in progress - I like to show the process along the way to the "finish."

Sunday, November 9, 2014

WIP (Work in Progress)

Grabbed one of my half-finished paintings and am working to jazz it up a bit.  Here it is so far… She's 24" x 30"

I've thought this before..

Rachel Carson wrote:

One summer night, out on a headland, all but surrounded by the waters of the bay, the horizons were remote and distant rims on the edge of space. Millions of stars blazed in the darkness, and on the far shore a few lights burned in cottages. Otherwise there was no reminder of human life. My companion and I were alone with the stars: The misty river of the Milky Way flowing across the sky, the patterns of the constellations standing out bright and clear, a blazing planet low on the horizon. It occurred to me that if this were a sight that could be seen only once in a century, this little headland would be thronged with spectators. But it can be seen many scores of nights in any year and so the lights burned in the cottages and the inhabitants probably gave not a thought to the beauty overhead; and because they could see it almost any night, perhaps they never will.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

New direction...

I feel like I'm starting off in a new direction - both with my life and my art.  I've been reading about the connection of art with beauty.  There's a very interesting speech that Alexandr Solzhenitsyn gave in acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize for Literature in 1970 - in which he quotes Dostoevsky:  "Beauty will save the world."

It makes me want to try to create something as breathtakingly beautiful as I can.  I am bombarded by breathtaking beauty on this river every day.  And as Kendyl Biggons wrote in her article Primal Reverence, (UU World, Summer 2012)  in these types of encounters with the beauty of nature "Something within us unlatches and expands in that immensity, catching some hint of our finitude…the sovereign beauty of so much overwhelming space and light and sound."

I'm curious to see what happens next...

Here's the sunrise the world offered up this morning.

-later- On second thought, once you start telling yourself that you have to make something breathtakingly beautiful the pressure is on and all of the creative juices dry up!  Too high a bar to set… for me, the better approach is to start playing with the paint and seeing what happens - need to keep things fun, and then try to recognize the beauty when it happens and let it flow…it doesn't come from me, just through me...

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Remembering Jim...

In celebration of the life of my late husband, Jim Stephenson, several of my relatives and his sister and brother-in-law joined me in Ocracoke on his birthday to walk the trail that the NC Coastal Land Trust named after him.  A bittersweet week-end, but filled with lots of love.  

Here's more info on the Springer's Point Preserve in which the trail is located.  And below is a photo of his sister Jane and me with the sign designating the trail…(yes, Theo was with us - you can just see his tail as he was sneaking off to sniff something…).  Remember you can click on the photo to make it bigger.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Nice light on the river, too...

Good to be home.  October is a nice time on the river here in coastal NC.

Here's a shot of the lemongrass with dew in the early morning…  I love it here.  Ready to get back to work.  (remember you can click on the photo to see a larger version…)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

lovely light...

I'm back in the mountains of NC for just a couple days...  Nice light...

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Love this!

I'm going through a transition right now.  Things are getting better for me… not much to post yet, but in the meantime I wanted to share this YouTube video that I think is fantastic… (sorry there's a short ad at the beginning you'll have to overlook)...


Thanks for stopping by.


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Great time at CenterFest in Durham

Had a great show at CenterFest.  The weather was beautiful and had many sales.  Yay!   While I was in my booth, a photographer named Riley Maclean (see his work at http://rileymaclean.com ) shot this photo of me.  Kinda fun…

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Finishing up for CenterFest

Packing up to head to Durham tomorrow for the CenterFest show.  I enjoy this show - its well organized, the people are friendly and I seem to connect with quite a few folks with my art. 

Here's one of  a series I did inspired by photographs by staff photographer Christine T. Nguyen with the Durham Herald-Sun (used with permission, of course!).

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Nice press!

The opening for the Soul of a Woman show is tonight at Carolina Artist Gallery in Morehead City, 5-8pm.  Last night's local paper had a nice photo of my 4' x 5' painting in it (the photo of it in the paper was big - about 5 by 8 inches).  Here's the online version:  Soul of a Woman.

Still busy finishing up work for next week's CenterFest show in Durham.  I'm excited about the series I'm doing.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

New series for CenterFest show in Durham

I've been hard at work on a new series for the CenterFest show in a couple weeks.  I was browsing through the Durham paper - the Durham Herald Sun - looking at photographs and liked the work by photographer Christine T. Nguyen.  I contacted her to see if I could use some of her images as jumping off points for some face paintings.   She checked with her editor and we worked it out.  I am so happy to have this inspiration!  Here is one from the series - they are all still "Works in Progress" - but I'm feeling good about the paintings.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

What a boost!

Just when you need a boost someone comes along and makes your day.  I got this email yesterday from the gal who bought Ferdinand at the CenterFest show in Durham last year.  So fun and kind!  She said I could share it…Here's what she wrote:

Hi Sal!

I recently finished doing a housing swap with a woman from New Mexico. 

After her week stay at my house checking out Durham, I thought you would find it fun to know that she left a "thank you" note behind and commented on how much she LOVED my bull artwork.

I had a conversation with her on the phone today just seeing how the exchange went and she mentioned the bull again.  She said she absolutely LOVED the artwork and I should include that in my listing describing my home for future exchangers and people who might be fans of art.  She said she loved how much his face was kind and inviting and not an angry bull.  His eyes were intriguing and the colors were so vibrant and beautiful.  Yep, that's what she said!!!! 

Just wanted to share.  Often when you come in and out of a room daily, things start to become commonplace and your eyes become accustomed to seeing the same things.  She reminded me just how much I fell in love with Ferdinand and renewed my appreciation for such an amazing piece of art THAT I OWN!!!!!!

Ferdinand at home.

I'm looking forward to doing the show again  - its September 20 - 21 in downtown Durham.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Sad time...

I'm going through a sad time right now.  Too personal to post... So I tried to get back into a painting regimen today to help take my mind off things, but of course ..the paint knew better...

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

"Soul of a Woman"

Just finished up a painting to enter in the "Soul of a Woman" show in Morehead City.  I decided to paint a portrait of Maya Angelou.  She was from North Carolina and has written many soulful things… I first wrote out the poem "I know why the caged bird sings" - the lines of the poem can be read here.  I followed the contours of her face with the words… then I painted the portrait over the words...

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Back home and back to work!

After just over a month in the NC mountains to escape storms and heat, I'm finally back home and back in the studio.  Have a couple commissions to finish up and also hope to get a painting entered in the "Soul of a Woman" show, so its busy!  good busy!  I'll post paintings as I progress...

I do take time each day to go out and throw the cast net to see what's in the river.  We've had a lot of rain this July, the river is very tannic brown right now.  No shrimp now but a cast of the net brings up dozens of small shad!  Very interesting.  I kinda feel like I'm taking the pulse of the river each day to see what's going on.

Sunday, June 22, 2014


The shrimp are running in our river right now.  I can go out my front door at high tide and get over 30 in a single cast of the net!  That will never cease to amaze me.  We've been enjoying many shrimp meals, esp. a hot Thai soup I make that uses the heads to make the broth.  The shrimp have to be super fresh and they are and its delicious… they are beautiful creatures too.  Michael and I were admiring them and I said "What a thing of beauty."  His reply:  "Why don't you paint it?"  Why not indeed… so I thought it might be fun to make it REALLY BIG too - so here is my 4 x 5 FOOT painting of a shrimp. I'm taking it in to Spouter's Restaurant next week for them to display.  Go take a look if you're in Beaufort.  Great fun.  I have to remember how much I enjoy painting BIG.  Quite liberating.

By the way, have you ever seen shrimp swim?   Watch here.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Another veggie warm up - Swiss Chard….

Having fun…I've always loved purples and greens together.

Pepper warm up...

I have a couple commissions to work on - got the canvas and supplies ordered for those and while I'm waiting for that to arrive decided to warm up with some veggie paintings.  The farm stands are a real inspiration right now!  Here are my latest peppers (24" x 30") - just for fun!  Think I'll call it "Pepper Dance."

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Back home…and back to work!

Its good to be back home from our travels.  Had a great time, but I've been itching to get back in my studio.  Last week I took some of my new work to the Village Gallery in Oriental.  The photo doesn't do it justice, the work looks great in their gallery… but this will give you an idea.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Nice light...

Enjoying the morning light here in the NC mountains again… could be another painting inspiration?  Have had an enjoyable month of traveling, on my way back home now…

On my travels...

Michael said the deer were bigger out west.  He's right!  This is a South Dakota deer:

Thursday, May 8, 2014

New work

One of my relatives is involved in showing horses.  She just got married and I painted this for her as a wedding present.  Hope she likes it!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Award at Wilmington!

One of my entries in the Wilmington Art Association's Spring show, held in conjunction with the NC Azalea Festival, won the Georgia and Jack Newton Memorial Award.  Woo too!  Here's the winning piece.  It's called "Regard" and its 36" x 36."

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Back home...

Can't believe how quickly a month - an entire month! - went by in Florida.  Enjoyed exploring the Tallahassee area then down to Alexander Springs (nice clear water chilly swim) and then our favorite Kissimmee Prairie.  Had planned to paint but decided to spend the time exploring instead and "filling the well."

When we left I had a number of half-finished paintings.  Now I am working to finish some up.  Here's a marsh view than I'm working on now… We really do have that wash of purple in the early morning this time of year…

Sunday, February 23, 2014

One of the new series won an award!

Yay!  Its wonderful when you try something new and then put it out there for everyone to see and they like it!  You never know… so its nice confirmation.  One of these new blind contour pieces won the Award of Excellence at the Art from the Heart show.   I named it "Interface II".  Its the one that I posted on February 7 (below).

Now we are packing up to go to Florida for awhile.  I've been getting the house ready for my house sitters and packing and planning the itinerary.  Ready for some warmer weather, the gypsy blood is stirring!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

"Better a Creative Mess…"

"… than tidy idleness." (author unknown)

I've always loved the fact that this is how my mom felt while I was growing up.  We had many creative messes and you always learn something from them  (and it's fun).

So what better way to spend a cold grey sleety day than inside one's studio with bunches of colorful tissue paper torn up and glued onto canvas?  About the only way to top it is what Michael is doing:  baking bread and making French onion soup!   Eat well and create.  Good motto.

p.s.  I'm ready to head to Florida!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Update on first contour...

I worked some more on the first of these blind contours that I posted.  Now its looking better to me.  think I'll enter a couple in the Art From the Heart show here in Carteret County, at the Morehead City Plaza (next to Lowe's foods) opening February 15… stop in and take a look and let me know what you think of this new series.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Drawing with your eyes closed

…here's another in my latest series of contour paintings.  See the post below for a description…

Thursday, January 30, 2014

New Series

I'm excited about a new series I've started.  I've been working on these for the last few weeks, and now they are starting to come together…  It was inspired in part by re-reading one of my art books: Drawing Projects - an exploration of the language of drawing by Mick Maslen and Jack Southern, and by my participation in a workshop last year with Kate Worm.  Its an old trick from art school to do "blind contour" drawings - where you concentrate on the model (or other subject) and place your charcoal on the paper and draw without looking at the paper.  You imagine drawing along the contours of the subject, feeling what the drawing instrument would do…

In the Drawing Projects book they suggest making a tactile self portrait, by closing your eyes and feeling your face and drawing what you feel.  The book includes an interview between one of the authors and Nancy Trotter.  She says:  "I was just thinking about the sensation of drawing with my eyes closed as being similar to listening to a song on a walkman, while singing along.  Sometimes you feel you are singing in tune, but you are not sure.  While drawing from touch, I feel like I am making coherent marks in relation to what I am feeling, but I'm not sure. Until I open my eyes."

I played around with the project, and then decided to try drawing on a big (36" x 48") canvas.  I closed my eyes and overlapped several contour drawings.  Michael took a photo of my starting one of them:

Its great fun because when you open your eyes you have something quite different from what you imagined, but it almost always has something interesting going on.  Its quite liberating!

After I got all of the overlapping contours on the canvas it created an interesting abstract composition.

Then I started going back in (with my eyes open now) and painting within each area enclosed by the contour lines to come up with an abstract version of the faces…
 After many days and lots of thick paint and correcting the colors and glazing, here's one that is almost complete.  How many faces do you see in it?

Picasso said:     "To draw, you must close your eyes and sing."

Saturday, January 18, 2014


Still working on finishing up some paintings… in the meantime I thought I'd share a couple little drawings.  I often like to do quick gestures to relax after a bout of concentration on paintings in the studio.  Here are a couple I did last night.

The first was done very quickly without looking at the paper while I watched some of the tennis players in the Australian Open.  I love to make blind contour drawings - you go more by the feel of what you are seeing… Hmmm, might need to make a painting along those lines.  The second is Theo snoozing while waiting for the clock to strike 5pm:  Supper time!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Unfinished paintings

While I've been working to complete several unfinished paintings, I came across this interesting article in the New York Times.  Check it out:

The Fascination of the Unfinished

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Happy New Year!

I'm finishing up another one in my "Dude" series for the new year…