A Current Painting by Diana Moses Botkin

Welcome to my Art Blog! I paint or draw most weekdays and sometimes finish a painting a day. I fondly call them my "Postcards from Paradise" because it's such a beautiful place the Lord made here for us.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Few Portrait Sketches

I am way behind on photographing and posting new work. Please bear with me, and I'll show you what I've been drawing and painting during my long road trip. Here's a start.

These young men are brothers: triplets, in fact. Their grandmother asked me to make these drawings during a family gathering when they were all together for a wedding.

We had little time to make this work after they all came to town and before they had to get ready for the ceremony, so I met them at their hotel with my sketching materials and drew away as each one sat for me.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Portrait Workshop This Weekend

I've been the gypsy itinerant artist in my travels from Idaho. It's been wonderful to connect with family and friends, collectors and fellow artists.

I was also able to see the Sorolla show in Dallas on this trip. His paintings were instructive and inspiring. In addition to a number of his large paintings, some of his charcoal sketches and miniature studies were shown. I especially enjoyed the sketches, some of which were little more than gesture studies for planning the figures in a larger seaside painting composition with children running in the surf.

Additionally, I've been fortunate to find some Open Studio sessions to work from live models so I can stay in practice and enjoy the camaraderie of other artists. One of the places I've been hanging out is Geatches Art Studio in Oklahoma City. I wish I'd known about it 50 years ago. This was where Sherrie McGraw studied before she ventured to Art Students League in New York.

I've been asked to teach a portrait workshop this coming weekend before I head back to the great white north. I'll be doing demos from live models and teaching how to capture a likeness in charcoal and then in oil. You can find more information about the class at this link.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Paint Cleaning and Storage Tips

Did you miss me?

I've been traveling, studying at the Artist Guild Week in Scottsdale, gallery hunting, painting, etc. Here's a photo of my van all packed for the trip with art, painting and drawing supplies and a lot more. The snow and ice thawed just in time for me to pack up and drive out of our lane. I'll catch you all up on trip highlights later.

Meanwhile, please read on for some helpful painting tips. Perhaps you know these already, but I hope there is something new for you here in these shared tidbits.

Removing Paint

Maybe you've already heard that isopropyl alcohol removes dried paint from your palette or other places? If not, it's a handy tip. I found out about this over 20 years ago, accidentally. One of my children walked past a large oil painting with a loaded toothbrush. When I wiped the smear of toothpaste from the painting, it removed the paint down to the lead priming. I had to ask what was in the toothpaste that would do that!? Isopropyl!

So next time you notice a smear of paint on the door frame (from when you answered the phone in a hurry with a loaded brush in your hand?), just apply a little rubbing alcohol on the mark. Be careful, though, isopropyl might also remove furniture varnish. I accidentally discovered this too, almost 30 years ago when I wiped a dusty end table with a wet wipe. (Not all baby wipes contain alcohol, however.)

The alcohol is handy stuff, however, for cleaning a painting palette. I also use it to clean up paint spatters from sinks and counters. I carry a bottle with supplies in my car when I'm out plein air painting to combat paint marks on my dashboard and steering wheel. And it's handy in a pinch when there is no place to wash hands out in the wild.

Glass Palette

Speaking of palettes, if you want to use a glass one, tempered glass will not easily break. This material can be ordered from art suppliers, glass companies, or you can use a tempered glass cutting board on the smooth side. A glass palette can be cleaned of dried paint with a razor blade. Alcohol works too.

For my plein air painting box, I've painted my glass palette a medium grey on the underside, and attached it to the mixing area with epoxy. In the studio I use an old tempered glass cutting board set over a medium tone panel (see photo).

Saving Paint, Lids, Space

When I have leftover paint at the end of painting sessions, I either cover my palette with plastic kitchen wrap, or transfer the paint dabs to a small air tight container (such as tupperware) and put the whole thing in the freezer. Especially if I will not get back to painting the next day, the freezer is a safer bet for keeping the paint useable.

Another helpful practice is to save a few lids from used up painting tubes. Clean them of dried paint (use that handy isopropyl again) and add a few to your painting supplies and plein air box. That way, if you lose a tube lid down a ravine, or break one, you'll have an easy replacement.

I confess I'm a light weight and hate to carry a lot of heavy stuff when painting out. One of the ways I l keep supplies from being heavy in my plein air box is to pack almost used up tubes of paint. I make them even lighter in weight (and a little tidier for my limited space in the box) by cutting them down.

You can do this by squeezing the remaining paint in the tube to the top, and smoothing out the paint tube. I do this with the rounded end of my pliers. Then I take an old pair of scissors and cut the tube on the flattened part, about a half inch from where the paint is. Crimp the bottom with canvas pliers (or regular pliers can do the job in a pinch.. ha). Fold up the crimped edge and pinch it down well with the pliers, then fold up again. Voilà, a shorter, lighter, and neater tube of paint!

Baby Oil or Vegetable Oil for Cleaning

Also in my painting box is a small bottle of baby oil. It is handy for cleaning oil paint off hands (or the face if you are a really wild painter). At home, I use the bottle of the baby oil in my bathroom for cleaning hands. It can also clean paint out of brushes along with some dish soap. Baby wipes are also good for cleaning up paint.

And vegetable oil can also be used to clean hands or can be used to clean up brushes rather than using solvent.

Okay, that's it for now. Happy painting!

Monday, January 13, 2014

My Article About Becky Joy Now Published

As with many of the articles I've written, this one was started months before the publication date. I'd been thinking about it awhile before then, as well. This is pretty much the way my brain works for writing projects or larger paintings. It takes time. A seed starts to grow from an idea and sprouts into something coherent. Then it must be watered and fed until it blooms.

If you are a subscriber to Professional Artist Magazine, I hope you are enjoying my piece about Becky Joy (on pages 34 -40). If you are not a subscriber, you can find the issue at newsstands or order at the website.

I first met Becky at the Oil Painters of America Western Regional Exhibit in 2011 and then got to know her better at the Pacific Northwest Plein Air event a few months later. Her career has really taken off and I wanted to write this piece to showcase how she used what she knew already to become the artist she wanted to be.

That's Becky Joy on the left, yours truly in the middle, and Celeste Bergin on the right: at the Pacific Northwest Plein Air reception, 2011. (photo, courtesy David Burbach Photography)

Becky is such an inspiration: she is a very hard worker who creates beautiful paintings. She's also a creative thinker for how to market her art, and herself as a teacher. She took part in my Challenge group for several months, so perhaps you remember her work from the Challenges at this blog. Here is her website if you'd like to check out her paintings or workshops.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Two More Hawaii Plein Air Paintings

(left) "Shore Sunset"
Original oil, 5"x7"
©2013 Diana Moses Botkin


I was going to post these after I showed you those first three from my trip, but got so busy with Christmas preparations and my commission, that I forgot about it!

So, I hope you'll enjoy these little reminders of warm evenings in a wonderful place. Please contact me to purchase.

(lower image)
"Kona Lights"
Original oil, 4"x6"
©2013 Diana Moses Botkin

I loved painting en plein air on the tropical beaches for many reasons. Principally, the weather was much to my liking, as I didn't have to bundle up even though it was December. I usually didn't even need a jacket in the evening, although sometimes I added my painting shirt to sleeveless attire.

Add to the warm weather, gentle breezes and families singing and laughing nearby while children played in the sand, and it was pretty much the perfect environment for a simple rustic life.

If you've ever been to such a place, I hope these two studies will remind you of pleasant memories. If you haven't yet been able to swing a trip, I highly recommend it. Find a bargain airline ticket and a good deal on a room. Once you are there, there is a lot to do that doesn't cost much money. Being on the beach with a picnic dinner, or snorkeling to see the beautiful fish are some of the simple pleasures we enjoyed most on the trip.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

State of the Art, 2013

(left) "New Place"
Oil on hardboard, 24"x18"
©2013 Diana Moses Botkin
Although I started off this year with a challenge to myself of doing a new piece every day for a month, I've been focusing more on larger paintings part of this past year.

If you've followed my blog you know that during the past few years I've worked steadily toward the daily painting goal. I started in 2004 and created 104 new works, which was over twice what I had painted the year before.

I discovered the joys and practicalities of painting small to get more practice in portraying a wide variety of subjects.

In 2005 I also did 104 pieces and began blogging about my efforts. In 2006 I progressed somewhat to 126 paintings. 

(left) "Illumination"
Oil on hardboard, 12"x16"
©2013 Diana Moses Botkin

In 2007, there were 165 pieces. In 2008, 179 new works.

2009 was my most productive year with 265 pieces. That amounted to a painting or drawing  every day with weekends off.

In 2010 the number dropped to 236. 2011 saw 139 new works. In 2012 I created 104 pieces. This past year I managed 110.

(left) "Bedtime Story"
Oil on hardboard, 20"x16"
©2013 Diana Moses Botkin 

All those smaller paintings and drawings helped develop my skills. However, for some time I've felt that, rather than trying to complete something (anything!) every day, I should work toward developing larger works with more thought behind them and greater visual impact. 

(right) "Light Read"
Oil on hardboard, 20"x16"
©2013 Diana Moses Botkin

The four paintings shown here are new larger pieces I've created during the past few months. I haven't shown them before, either here on this blog, or in a show. Please contact me if you would like price information on any of these originals.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Our December Challenge: Christmas Dress!

"Decked Out"
Original oil on hardboard
unframed, 7"x5"
©2013 Diana Moses Botkin

I picked our Challenge subject this month. At the time I named this one, I had some specific ideas in my brain to paint.

However, with my busy schedule I was unable to pose a model for the concept I originally wanted to create. (Sigh... please insert melancholy music here.) 

So, I used an existing photo I had, and added Christmas decorations to this little girl's attire. I did have fun with it, even though I was pressed for time. Those other ideas will just have to wait.

And yes, we are late this month! Here are the other gals' paintings, which I dearly love. Thank you, Vicki and Suzanne, for painting this month with all you have to do! We did it! 

(left below) "Dressing Up" Mixed media, 20"x16” ©2013 Suzanne Berry  
(right, below) “Sarah” Oil on linen, 20"x16” ©2013 V.N.Ross

Friday, December 20, 2013

Commission and December Hurdles

I feel like I've been jumping over hedges and haystacks since I got back. I must've been crazy to take a trip in December!

Christmas season is always very busy, and to leave home with so much on my plate makes no sense. Except, I did LOVE the sunshine and warm weather in Hawaii and seeing such a beautiful place the Lord made. It just may get me through the next few weeks without feeling like I live underground in the dark! So.. yes, it did make sense, but the trip has also made it more challenging to meet obligations.

Along with daily tasks, I've been working steadily on a number of bigger projects the past few months, including a portrait commission.

Here I am, at left, adding the final touches to "Rest", an original oil painting. Today I shipped this art to my collector so he can give it to his wife for Christmas! He was quite thrilled to get this photo by email yesterday, along with a digital file of what the finished portrait looks like.

His approval of the painting and his comments of obvious pleasure made me quite happy, as my commission was a lot more challenging than I'd anticipated. The reference snapshot supplied by my client was distorted due to camera angle and lens. It took me several tries to get proportions to look right in the painting. If you are an artist who accepts commissions, then you probably know that other people's photos might not be what you need to see for creating a painting, even if the photograph looks okay as a snapshot.

This was quite challenging, so I'm glad I was able to paint this long-distance commission for my collector!

Speaking of challenges: perhaps you've noticed our monthly painting Challenge is overdue? I had started a little 'un for our December puzzler before my trip, aiming to have it finished for posting on our usual date of the 15th. However, there was more I wanted to do on it and it was time to travel, so I bargained for more time with my Challenge group. Turns out, Vicki and Suzanne needed more time too. Busy ladies, we are! 

But your patience will not be unrewarded. Tomorrow we plan to show you our December Challenge paintings! So I hope you will check back here at my blog to see what we've created.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Plein Air Painting in Paradise

I took my very first trip to Hawaii recently. And I left north Idaho just in time, as temps got to eight below zero while I gone.

In Hawaii, however, I was enjoying sun on my skin and no shoes in balmy 85 degree weather.

I stored up some vitamin D during my week there, along with memories of sweet sunset scenes and tropical colors.

"Glow Through the Palms"
Original oil, 4"x6"
©2013 Diana Moses Botkin

I am a warm weather girl, so it was quite difficult to leave and fly home to cold, dark, short days in our northern residence. Summers are wonderful here, especially for people like my husband, who do not like hot weather. Winters can be beautiful up here at the edge of the earth, especially when the sun shines on a new blanket of snow, but the dark months are a challenge for those of us who crave sunshine and warmer temps.

(left) "Nightfall at the Dock"
Original Oil, 6"x6"
©2013 Diana Moses Botkin

I'm missing Hawaii already. I'm glad I was able to paint there, and take some photographs.

As you can see from the top photo where I am painting from the dock in Kona, cameras simply don't do a scene justice. So I hope you will enjoy these plein air color studies I painted at that location.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Grouping Small Paintings Together

Here are more ideas for arranging similar oil paintings on a wall. Mt. Hood is a favorite subject to paint, and the frames on these five pieces work together, so I thought I'd show you how these look in a grouping.

Individual sizes range from the mini in the top row (5"x3.5") to the medium size piece on the bottom left (8"x12").

Please contact me to purchase.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Arrangement of Small Still Life Paintings

Here is another idea for putting together a group of small paintings for a wall arrangement.

The top oil painting in the vertical grouping at left is a 5"x7" piece and the other two are each 4"x6".

I like the colors together in these pieces and the subjects are part of a summer theme which works together. I've included my recent Challenge painting of the shellfish in this group!

The gold finish coordinating frames make a nice presentation together for these traditional style paintings in detailed realism.

A horizontal arrangement with these three would also work well, with the ice cream painting in the middle.

Please contact me for purchase information.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Art for Gifts: Commissions and Arrangements

Yesterday, a collector drove to my place to look at my work. She wanted to see paintings in person after having viewed them online. Looking for art for her home, she wanted to see a variety of sizes, prices and subject matter. She loves art, especially figurative work.

It was fun to got a feel for what she likes, and we were able to make some plans to start at least one commission for her after Christmas. I already am committed for projects until then, as I'm working on two portraits that collectors are going to give as special gifts.

What kind of art would you like to have in your home, or give as a gift?

Today I was thinking what a lovely surprise an art arrangement would be. Several small paintings hung together give a lot to look at and enjoy on a wall. Here's one for the kitchen space or a dining room.

It might be a challenge to figure out which pieces from, say, my DailyPainters gallery might look good together. So I thought I'd put a few framed paintings in arrangements to show how some of them could be hung.

These three little oils at left are each 4"x6" and framed identically in the gold finish museum style presentation.

I think they would be splendid in an Italian style villa or, really, with any traditional decor, whether formal or more eclectic.

Please contact me for purchase information.