Artists Statement

I paint as often and as much as I can. I take classes when I can afford it, but the money usually goes to buy more art supplies. This blog is to share the results with you! I am a Work in Progress.

Dianne Lanning Fine

Monday, December 20, 2010

'Tis the season!

(This picture is unfinished, but it's the only Christmas one I had "in-house")

Well, it's been a while since I wrote, and a few things have happened.

One of the whines is my mic went on the fritz again. (sigh) It's intermittent, and probably a short. I finally had to cough up for a new one. It's a slightly lower priced one, but brand new, and the same brand. It works very well, almost the same quality as the old one. So I am finally up and running again. I hope to finish recording a book, get it edited and then offer it.

I haven't been painting much, my creative impetus has been focused on mid-Victorian accessories, especially crocheted lace lady's caps. There were a few collars and cuffs too, things to sell at the Dickens Christmas Fair. It was a lot of hours, and they sold pretty well, especially considering the economy. There was a lot of really good feedback too, especially from people that didn't actually purchase anything but wanted to. I had really pared prices down this year and I think it helped. Some of what didn't sell will be offered to Sacramento City Dry Goods, and some will go on my etsy store. Some of the things on the needwork page of this blog are for sale at Sac. City Dry Goods. I'll try to take some pictures and get the new ones listed, but maybe not before Christmas.

It's time to stop the bustle and consider Christmas and what it means. It really makes up for all the things that seem to be wrong. They matter so much less when realizing what has come to us, the light shinning through the dark to light the whole world. I was going to put up the tree this weekend but a serious leak and an incredibly heavy rain that lasted a day and a half had me bailing instead. When the sky cleared a bit I ran to the Dickens Fair for the end of the fair to close. If the tree doesn't get up this year, at least I got the wreath up.

So now the roof guy is trying to arrange to get here and stop the flow. After that I can asses the damage done and how to correct it. The carpet was already on the way out, it's original to the house.

This year I went to the Dickens twice, once in costume. I have an 1830's period black taffeta that I haven't been able to fasten for a while, so something has been working. That was teamed with a cap I don't get to wear often. It's white cotton (OK polyester and cotton, I don't iron if I don't have to) that I embroidered (white on white) with period motifs, trimmed in ruffles and lace and is HOT. No, I mean you broil in this thing. My big mistake was forgetting I hadn't worn anything with a heel in way too long. Between the Cow Palace hovering in the 80's and the hard floors I felt pretty battered the next day. When I went back yesterday I went in a t-shirt, cotton pants and spongey soled shoes. It was still blazing hot, but I was a lot more comfortable.

It was a wonderful Fair, they expanded the floor so you weren't jostling continually, and there were more booths. It was wonderful having more floorspace. I think the participants costumes are improving continually. I still don't quite understand what some of the visitors have in mind when the get dressed. Sometimes you can see what they THINK they look like, but, sorry, it didn't work. I love when they try to be as Victorian as possible, but there are many for whom that is not a goal at all. 'Nuff said.

Have a lovely and Merry Christmas, and keep painting!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Candy Season is beginning!

Is this candy? Or Soap? It's a 4X6 Watercolor of a guest soap my Sister-in-law put in my Christmas stocking last Christmas. She does great Christmas stockings, it's always a surprise. I hadn't done anything miniature for a while and the delicate colors and cellophane appealed to me. How about you?

Well, it's time for the next challenge over on Paint and Draw Together. It's lemons this time. I spent the summer painting the lemons that fell off the tree, now we shall see if I learned anything.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Autumn is here!

As the trees start to turn, and the apples start to ripen, it's time to paint those things! I've thrown in an extra. It's a palette I rarely use, I remember an art teacher at the Academy of Art University who was working in pastel that time, he said to look at your pastels and see which ones are longest. Then make yourself use them because you are probably avoiding that part of the spectrum. Excellent advice. What a school!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Out in the garden again

Oleanders are all over here in Northern California they are all along some of the freeways. This one, however is in my garden. It was supposed to be a dwarf, but like the lemon tree in the back garden, it got out of hand. After many truly awful attempts at painting them, this one came out more presentable. The answer seemed to be in simplifying, not only the background, but the flowers as well. I left 3 or 4 blossoms, in various stages of bloom, out. In some cases things come out too light, but lately I had been trying to pour in too much color. Some of the watercolor books, after reviewing, gave me some pointers.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Quelle Surprise! Well, anyway, I found an old sketchbook!

The Quelle Surprise was because when I started typing it was converting to Hindi. I finally found how to get it to stop. I thought I was enabling people to translate my blog into their language, but it was translating my typing only into languages in India.
Now to the Anyway part. I found an old
sketch book from last fall and winter. It was full, but I thought I'd see what could scan.

This first one was a commission from late last winter. As I've said, I record books at recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic and they were having a Record-a-thon to get more readers and directors. They asked if I could do a picture of a child reading a book with earphones on. They record for all levels, but it's really good if they can start with the very young so the kids are never left behind in their education. This was a sort of final preliminary sketch. I did a 16X24 watercolor for the office and I am delighted to say it's still hanging there.

Next: are two friends from southern California modeling period caps I made. This is why I don't do portraits. I modify things. I changed them so radically they would not recognize themselves. The idea was to create characters that would be wearing this sort of cap. The one below was supposed to be my idea of Jane Austen, the other I made older, trying for a lot of character. I probably shou
ld have used older models, but how do you ask that? Friends are willing and put up with a lot. They understand, or just sigh and are patient. God love them!

I am currently working on Challenge 12 from Rookie Painter and the apple picture from Paint and Draw Together. The apple is fighting back.

OK, if I ever get control of that apple and finish the leaf circle, I'll upload those, and wait for suggestions!
Love to all!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Practice, Practice, Practice

It's interesting how things turn out. Some people think you just get out there and sing a song, or paint a picture, or play a scene, or the violin. OR write a symphony? No. There are times when it seems to "happen." But behind that over-night success is years of preparation. Often people who are not in the arts think their own profession takes study, practice, and experience but the arts don't. I remember a noted stage actor on a chat show saying that it's the only field where everybody else thinks you just get up and do it. He said he could be sitting in the dentist's chair and the dentist says he's thought of being an actor. Picture that in reverse. Would you just decide one day that you're going to open a dental practice? It's easy too.

Yes, inspiration comes and you have wonderful results. But no one should attempt to dance Odette without training and practice. Yes, first it must be something within us, that truly is given to us each, but then we must exercise that talent, train it, direct it and polish it. That is a form of gratitude.
So you are faced with re-inventing the wheel yourself, or finding a way to get training. Believe me, training saves time, even years.
I speak from experience. I spent years getting training in a specific field (theater), I was focused, but it was not easy to turn away from other phases of that gift. Fortunately along the way I had theatrical professors that had us draw in class and sing and build sets. That was very fulfilling. My thanks to all the true teachers out there who prepare us and guide us, however stubborn and one tracked we may be at the time. It all gathers in our basket and does us good.
I do love acting and the stage, but I found real delight when in the 1980's I found Recordings for the Blind (now Recordings for the Blind & Dyslexic). I started volunteering there after work and did so for years. However, some things are just not Dickens! They are not meant to be read out loud, not exactly music to the ears. The people who work there are dedicated and they are sensitive to making it a good experience for the volunteers. They often delighted me by reserving books of poetry for me, and other literature.
I am so happy to say that they are still that way today. I think I've mentioned before that I started reading there again last year. I'll read anything for them, no problem, I love doing it. A couple of weeks ago I read about ten pages of bibliography, last week I read "Oedipus the King." It all levels out, I never get bored. This keeps that part of my life going! Now I've sent out a couple of demos because, well, wouldn't it be wonderful to do what you love and get paid too! (but I won't leave RFBD until the turn out the lights)

Note: the waterlily is because it's beautiful, the puppy is for Paint and Draw Together.

Friday, September 17, 2010

My Mic finally works!!!

I have a fairly expensive mic, Samson G-track. After WEEKS of fiddling and going on line to try and get it fixed, and trying everything under the sun, it works!! The last suggestion from a tech was to try a different cord or cable. Well, it's kind of strange looking cable, where am I going to find another one? BINGO, yesterday at the washer I looked down at the box of electronic flotsom and saw an unused cable from something-or-other that looked like it had the right weird end on it. Short story: it did and I spent yesterday evening re-recording all my demo pieces without having to yell over the loud buzzy sound. Oh, you don't know how good it was to look at that wave and see a smooth line except when I was talking! And then to play it back and hear just me. I am truly grateful for this. I had been praying a lot and trying to open up and be a receiver for all those angel-messages that are always coming our way. Well, duh, of course you hear when you listen, Dianne. Sheesh. Another thing that takes practice.
Today a friend at the sound studio burnt the CD for me from a flash drive (my laptop refuses to acknowledge anything round and flat), so, in a minute or so I am off to the post office to mail my new demo out! THIS is the voice part of voice-painter.
When I get home I think I will continue recording a book I love that isn't available in audio form. YeeHaa!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Patience and persistence with myself

While trying to get up to speed on supporting yourself with things you love to do, it seems sometimes you have to do other things too. Like housework and looking for other kinds of work that have an actual income. Never lose sight of the value of what you do. That's the first step toward others valuing it also. What we do is not just an expression of who we are, but where we come from, who created us. We reflect all those good qualities, and express them in our lives. That's our main job. Our employment.
Sometimes that takes practice, and continuing to learn and expand our expression is absolutely necessary. That's living.
Lately I've been wrestling with these ideas and trying to open my thought to the new, while keeping in practice on the familiar. Aside from looking for a paying job before the money runs out, trying new things continues. I've taken three beginning/intermediate watercolor classes with Ron Pratt and he taught us how wonderfully intense color can be in the medium. It was great! I also enjoy the Artist Challenges that are available in blogs like Rookie Painter , and Paint and Draw Together. Having a challenge set by someone entirely different from yourself makes you stretch yourself in directions you might not have taken. Not just in subject matter, but palette and style. Some results are not all you hoped they could be: see the lemons above. But you learn a LOT. It can lead you in new directions, it's worth trying it again. In this case these colors provided a challenge, especially their lighter values. This resulted in the Japanese scroll vignette (I think it's up in the right corner, I can't seem to get the pictures to go where I want them within the blog).
I didn't try to duplicate the script on the scroll, that felt too much like plagiarism, so I did an "impression" of it. In a scroll like this the calligrapher's hand is as much a part of the poetry as the words, and it wasn't my poem. The picture is 8X12 inches.
The daises are a rather European touch, a peony would have been more appropriate, but this is the way it turned out! The purpose was the paler palette, perhaps I will do it again with a more strongly colored flower later. The contrast could be very interesting.
Well, it's going to be a short day today, I have to get up about 4:30AM to get to Sacramento by 8AM for a placement test, the next step in trying to find some income.

Friday, August 27, 2010

I entered a competition!

Ok, here is a picture of me back in my 30's, it's an old headshot.
No, I'm not saying what year it was. Sometime in the 1980's.
The important stuff:
Well, I finally did it, I entered the monthly BoldBrush competition online. It is through FIneArtViews. The basket of lemons picture is the entry, and I titled it "Lemonade-to-be".
This is a juried competition, but aside from that, visitors to the site can vote for the pictures they like (yeah, here it comes) Up on the right side of this page is the picture, you can (pretty please) click there and it will take you to the competition and you could (wheedling tone) vote for me? It won't give me any prizes, but it would feel wonderful! My picture is a watercolor and the judges tend to be oil painters and select the same to win, but it still is exciting to be entered in a competition!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Last Sunday Florence, a friend from church gave me the most beautiful tomatoes! I started the painting that afternoon, after eating the smallest one in a salade, That's why I call this one "Vine Ripened Tomatoes." MMMM!

Then there is "Greek Offering," A challenge set by RookiePainter. That was a real challenge. Because of the smooth texture of the black vase I pulled out some Arches 140lb hot press paper. It is really smooth and I seldom use it because it doesn't absorb very fast. I found I need to practice with that paper more! Then the poor vase. It's lines are so smooth and I'd have little bobbles on the edges. I had to stop correcting because the vase was going to start getting bigger!

Then the boats. I remembered some time as a kid sitting in a boat on a pier or dock and pretending I was sailing off to adventure. (Except that other boat sitting across my bows!) It doesn't look very colorful, but I was thinking the adventure, the color, was all in my mind. I think I'll try it again, it intrigues me. I used to dream of sailing the South Pacific on a copra boat. Later, when I could read, I found out what copra was. Not very romantic stuff.

This picture makes me long for color. Back to the studio. I'm out of tomatoes, I think it will have to be apples!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Catching up on Challenges or never too late to learn how

A lot of painting has been going on since my mic went on the blink! It's been great though, I had a back log of challenges that, although too late to send in, were well worth doing. Here is one from "Paint and Draw Together," three figs (8X11), which was in time, and two from "Rookie Painter." I now need to do the current one from "Rookie Painter" and get it sent in (both are 8X11). They really do fulfill the term "Still Life" don't they. They are things that are alive, and yet they sit so nice and still while you paint them. Since these came to me as photos, I don't get to eat them, but I'll live.

Right now I have a still life set up that I've been wanting to do for a bit. It's a couple of old kitchen crocks from my grandmother, the shell I did a few days ago and this interesting square bottle I rescued from the kitchen of the office where I used to work. It was in the back of a cupboard and no one could remember what the stuff had been. Bingo, now it's posing for a portrait! I have it all sketched in, so now I'm off to the studio to mix colors.

Love to all!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A few small ones

Good afternoon! Yesterday was a long one in the studio. I did some final touches on somethings and started more. One is the lighter pink rose here. It's one of the ones I photoed in the garden. It's 12X8, but I think I'll crop it a bit. The other rose was a smaller picture for practice, about 4X8. The shell is a pretty little thing, A 4X6, the smallest Canson block I've found. I have a few shells around, some I found on beaches and some were given to me. This one is a lovely, delicate one with a world of detail. The shell is only about 3 1/2 inches long and the prettiest shell pink inside. I may do a series on my shells, they are intriguing to really look at closely. I hadn't done that for a while.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The world around us is so full of loveliness!

(Hmmm, I was trying to arrange the pictures in order and they won't go. I can hear it snickering at me.) Well, The Raspberries (7X10) were done first, they kind of remind me of the fuchsia triptych I did a while back. The luscious color of the berries against the variety of greens, I think I have to go to the grocers.
The Lemons are from my tree. I thought I would call it "Pre-Lemonade" (8X10) because that's what happened to all these lemons.
Hey, there were two more pictures, where'd they go? Excuse me a moment . . . (click, click, clicketty-click) Ah, there, I loaded them again, not sure where they will end up.
The rose is from my garden, I stepped out and took a picture or two, uploaded them and then painted them, BIG, about 11X14. Sometimes roses almost paint themselves, sometimes they are rather ephemeral. Some of it is knowing when to STOP. Now there's a challenge.
Speaking of challenges, the little ducky (8X10) was a photo from another blogger who offers Artists Challenges. I painted it this afternoon. I think it's well past the deadline for the challenge, but it was worth trying once I got started. What a soft, downy coat, and babies always have that fresh innocence that you want to preserve in the world.

Friday, August 6, 2010

And High Time Too!

OK, at the top we have an old one I'd almost forgotten about. It's the rose in the bud vase. It was done in class and we were learning more about wet into wet backgrounds and glass. The rose was supposed to be red, but it, well the background would just eat it, so I squinted at it and decided a nice bright golden yellow would show better.

The landscape is after a woman artist from the early part of this century. Abby Williams Hill was a California painter (oils) and this is Laguna Niguel before Hollywood changed southern California. In fact this is quite a ways south of L.A. but it is built up now. I spent a lot of time this spring painting the mustard bloom here in northern California, and I loved her portrayal of it down south. My watercolor version (this is the "can't leave well enough alone" part) didn't have the, well, in acting it would be called "Presence", that her's had. So I just kept fiddling with it until I ended up with a storm coming. I had seen something like this and as I was developing the shadowing in the distance, the storm was just sort of born. So, my thanks to Ms. Hill for the inspiration! It's 11X14 inches too, it felt wonderful to work larger again. Things were starting to get pinched looking. That's what happens when I focus too much on detail for too long and work small.

I had taken a look again at the Lone Cypress picture and, although it shows the crystalline atmosphere there was that day (very rare), I keep wondering if I should have worked bigger and softer. Or am I second guessing my second guesses?

The fish picture is here again because I took a better photo of it, I hope.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Once more with feeling!

Lately I've painted a lot with which I was not too pleased. Don't worry, they are not going on line. The backs can be used to try again.
When things sometimes are not turning out as one has hoped there are a number of things to which one should resort. I start Spiritually. It's as basic as you can get, like "centering," it's the time to reaffirm Love. Then I might just paint a pear. This time I added an apple. They are about 8X8" watercolors. I layered them with color endlessly to build glazes. The background ended up so dark, for the signature, instead of painting it I removed paint. That felt better.
I'm going to offer these at about half price, $110.00 each, as a pair.
For sometime I've been wanting to take a drive up to Sonoma for a visit and some painting, but I have had trouble prying myself out of the house. It's an old habit from when I had to be here if I wasn't in the office or the grocery store. Part of that Spiritualizing of my thinking freed me from a "captive" thought. I painted the fish in the previous post, got the scheduled maintenance done on the car and headed out to the vineyards yesterday!
It was wonderful, nice cool breeze, bright sun, fresh air, all the good stuff. A perfect painting day. I sketched most of the day, but there were distractions. The plaza in Sonoma is a lovely place and truly the center of the town's activity. I relaxed and snapped pictures and sketched the ponds and enjoyed myself. Traffic can be more of a parking lot between there and my home, so I delayed going home quite a while.
Well, that was an extra good thing too. A farmers market (perfect for an agricultural area) etc. set up about 6PM on the drive in front of the old City Hall in the middle of the plaza. So...I got tomatoes and onions, then I sat down and enjoyed the live music. While I was just sitting there happy as a clam, a lady walked by who had just bought a big bouquet of flowers and she gave me one, right out of the blue! What a perfectly lovely gesture! Love is reflected in Love. This sweet gesture lingers as I look at this pretty salmon/magenta zinnia today.
A bit later I moseyed (well, waddled) back to the car (right at the plaza) and drove home. I missed the bad traffic and got home in good time. Dinner was some nuked leftovers, Nova, and some more painting. Heaven. I wish all of you the same.

Using magazine photos

This is a little guy I found in National Geographic from last January(2010). There is a whole article on clownfish with wonderful pictures. In one of my rare streamlining binges I pulled the pages out that I wanted and recycled the rest without getting the photographers name! My apologies to that artist. They were amazing. It brought back lots of memories of diving in the waters around Okinawa too. Tropical fish in the wild can be so much bigger than the ones in the tanks.
Anyway, I used the full page of the largest Arches block for this, it didn't feel right to do my usual small format. The results are that it's too big to fit in my scanner so I snapped it with flash and downloaded it. It's taped to the front of a frame that was on sale at Michael's that looks like will fit OK. I noted the source with my signature, but I'll have to do some research to get the actual name of the photographer. I should because I'm going to have to paint some more of those amazing photos!
The background on this is very subtle, providing perfect contrast to my finny friend, but it doesn't photograph too well. At least by yours truly. I ended up using little more than a "dirty water" wash for most of them, some orangish to catch the reflection and others blueish for contrast. Like Christmas in Thailand!
ADDENDUM: Got it, the photographer is David Doubilet.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Challenge, with a do-over

Here is one of the first challenges I ever did. I just discovered "challenges" this spring. The pale one was first, and the most realistic. It was a pale photo, and it was an interesting challenge to match the qualities of the photo. But then, remember that "she can't leave well enough alone" thing I have going? I wanted more color, and to crop it a bit, tweak it. So I did. Not very adventurous perhaps, but it felt good.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Take Time for Art, Monday is for Marketing!

Hello everybody, what a beautiful morning. The only thing missing to make it perfect is I haven't picked up a brush yet. I have been loading pictures into etsy for sale, then realizing I hadn't watermarked them, so I am in the midst of going back and fixing that. Ah, this time saving device, the computer! I spend a lot of time on this thing. Especially for something that saves time. Anyway, here is a painting of the mustard bloom in the Napa/Sonoma area of California (9X12 inches). I finished up toward evening, but the tree shadow seems to be hung up around noon. I'll have to fix that.
The vase was fun, practice for painting glass and crystal. It's 5.5X6.5 inches.

Well, I have some poppies waiting for me in the studio. When I've watermarked the pictures listed on etsy, I can get out there and put brush to paper and be Smil'in! Love to all!

Friday, July 9, 2010


Here are some works in progress. The yellow vase with orchids is an Acrylic (9X11). I used a mossy stick I found while painting plein air last week, the onion has been painted before but now it's sprouted! I can't seem to get the shadow of the onion on the vase quite right, and I don't know if I can get it set up the same again. Always take a picture!
The floral is having background problems, among others. It's a watercolor, about 8X11, and was going to have a watering can in it, but the green flooded the area too much. Hmmm.

Last is a little 3.5X5.5 still life watercolor. I think the composition is too "groupy. The dish set is one from our childhood called "Brown Eyed Susan" and the vase is a cloisonne we brought back from Japan. You'll probably be seeing more of these items.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

More than a painting a Day is called practice

Well, I've been doing a lot of watercolor, mostly for practice. I like the "Painting a Day" idea, but I missed a day and then did a lot more per day to catch up. The purple flower was from a while ago, but I did the eggs yesterday morning. The cantaloupe was part of this mornings breakfast and then the Copper Luster pitcher and lemon were later today. There were more but they were quite dismal. They will be good practice for trying to learn to fix things that JUST DON'T WORK! There is one of some wonderfully deep purple/blue grapes, but the leaves behind the cluster, awful blobs of weird color, there is a table scape from the Fourth that has no discernible perspective. I am also trying an acrylic version of the eggs, but I'll have to get two more eggs. The others I think will go under a faucet, no bad memories.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Here is a little 4X4 Acrylic I finished last night. It was going to be a "Painting a Day" work, but I laid down the background the night before and wanted it completely dry before I worked on the blossoms. It would have been too easy to pick up some of the back ground in the white of the petals if it was still workable.

Have a Happy Fourth of July everybody! Maybe after church I'll do something in red, white and blue.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Spring in Northern California

These are watercolors, the poppies were this Spring, the daisies were from a previous spring when I was taking a local watercolor class with Ron Pratt in Castro Valley. The daisies were definitely an exercise in using masque. Sometimes I avoid using masque, I'm pretty sure it's pure laziness, because other times it seems to solve all my problems. Go figger.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Postcard from the Med. 7X10

These two are different versions of the same postcard photo. The top one is pretty accurate (including the laundry) but I can never leave well enough alone. These are watercolors on Arches 140lb C/P using Winsor & Newton Artist large pan paints.