Tuesday, December 29, 2009

You Give Me Fever

You Give Me Fever, 10 x 8

My husband came up with the title.....and it was clever enough that I finally had to cave in to the temptation to name a cedar painting something related to allergies. This again is at the top of Mt. Bonnell in Austin; a scraggly cedar, probably wind-worn and hail damaged at some point so high up on the edge of a cliff, but hanging in there nonetheless.

-julie davis

Monday, December 28, 2009

Red Barn in the Morning

Red Barn in the Morning, 6 x 8

Getting back to painting after even four days off is always tricky for me, but I jumped in today hopeful that it wouldn't be as painful as I imagined. It was. Every bit. Partly, I really want to be outside, but for various reasons can't. I slogged through this one, and am happy with the light in it, but can't wait to try again tomorrow!

-julie davis

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Red and Green

Red and Green, 8 x 6

As cold and bare and brown as it is here, I thought I'd deviate a little and post a bit of Spring green with a little red thrown in for Christmas. A family member (who shall remain nameless) shared that this barn could perhaps be all red, rather than just the side........but, I replied, it really does have just a red side. Sometimes you run out of paint, sometimes you use what you have, sometimes you want the barn to be red on one side. Applies equally well to painters or those who build barns. Here's to a little or a lot of color in your holidays. Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all. :)

-julie davis

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Mt. Bonnell Cedars

Mt. Bonnell Cedars, 8 x 10

"The Allergens" or "Cedar Fever" were two other names I considered for this piece, but I didn't have the heart to prematurely condemn it through the eyes of so many Central Texans who might read this blog. So, I gave it a dull name based on where the scene actually is....atop Mt. Bonnell in Austin. Lake Austin flows behind and far below these cedars. This is a slightly larger version of "Roadside Cedar Trees" (couldn't go with the names then, either). Merry Christmas Eve.

-julie davis

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Cold December Morning

Cold December Morning, 8 x 10

My husband and I took a day trip out to the Hill Country on Friday, and I was able to take some photos here and there. Barns are impossible to pass up, especially those that have been around awhile. Add that to the delicious color of the grasses in the winter, and my bare branch phase right now, and I had a pretty fun composition. This barn was between Johnson City and Fredericksburg.

-julie davis

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Losing It

Losing It, 6 x 6

I'm still exploring bare branches, and am determined to find time all week to at least paint for an hour a day. I'm up to 192 paintings including this one since I started the blog last February 28 (some never made the blog, but were done nonetheless). My goal is to hit 200 by the end of 2009--11 days, 8 paintings to go. Think I can make it!

-julie davis

Monday, December 14, 2009

November On Red Bud Isle

November On Red Bud Isle, 6 x 6

I revisited a subject from November when Laurel and I went out to Red Bud Isle to paint. The fall color was amazing for Austin, and when I saw the painting I'd done indoors, I laughed at how vibrant the colors were (it was a bright day). I toned them down in this one--hopefully a bit more reflective of what was there.

-julie davis

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Mesquite Bouquet

Mesquite Bouquet, 6 x 6

Anyone who has spent much time in West Texas can easily spot a mesquite tree--they're quite common and are usually small and often found in groups, thus the name here.

I find I'm in a tree phase again, and these 6 x 6 panels are a nice size for a study of one tree, one subject, but I'm itching for several hours to do something larger. December madness dictates otherwise, I guess.

-julie davis

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Intersection, 6 x 6

Trees can look so indecisive for a brief period in early winter, when some branches have foliage and others do not. This one was no exception. I'd like to explore painting bare branches on a larger canvas this winter -- it's a challenge to keep them looking elegant. Laurel Daniel painted a tree in this "transition" recently. It's beautiful. Check it out.

-julie davis

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Neighbors, 6 x 6

Some cedars from nearby Mt. Bonnell. The rocks define the trail area in this spot. I find it interesting that two trees of the same variety (and especially one as unvaried as the cedars here) growing right next to one another can still have a slight variation in coloration in the light.

-julie davis

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Roadside Cedar Trees

Roadside Cedar Trees, 6 x 6

Cedars don't have the best reputation around Austin due to their ability to make some of us miserable with allergies this time of year. As trees, however, I find them fun to paint. They have an elfish quality, the little branches reaching upward like pointed ears. And that fits right in to the Christmas theme, so how about that for a timely post?

-julie davis

*I've taken the "click here to purchase" button off the pieces in my show, but if you're interested in one, just email Shannon at Wendow and she'll help you out (shannon@wendowfineliving.com).

Sunday, December 6, 2009

December Walk

December Walk, 8 x 10

Finally got a little time to paint inside today where I can think! I painted outside Thursday with our Plein Air Austin group, but the cold temperatures numbed my fingers and I think my brain as well from the looks of the painting I did. That one won't be posted, but today's felt better.

If the overall color appears different, it's because I had to take the photo indoors. It gets dark so early these days I often run out of time to snap a photo in the daylight. The subject is a path at Mt. Bonnell, a small park that overlooks Lake Austin.

-julie davis

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Shortcut

The Shortcut, 16 x 20

This is the largest painting I have in my show at Wendow right now, and it's a piece that reflects where I am and want to go right now in size, style, and somewhat in palette. 7 more pieces sold yesterday, so it's been a good week.:)

-julie davis

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Photos from the Wendow show

So, first a plug for Wendow. What a fantastic venue for any artist to show his or her work. Shannon and Catherine have excellent taste, and made last night entirely easy and beautiful.

Second, great night. Despite bitterly cold, rainy weather, many friends and acquaintances braved the night and came out. I sold six pieces (!), and the work will be up through January, so perhaps a few more will make their way out the door. :)

-julie davis

Saturday, November 21, 2009

On the Rocks

On the Rocks, 10 x 8

Show update: Wendow in Austin will be hosting a large portion of my work until February or so. The work will be up as of Tuesday, December 1--wine and cheese from 6 til 10 that night. If you can make it, I'd love to see you there! Wendow is having several events that week to kick off the Christmas season--if you live in Austin and haven't been there, definitely check it out--it's one of my favorite stores here. The owners have fabulous taste in antiques and other home furnishings and accessories (not to mention art!).

This post is a scene from our class up at Mt. Bonnell (overlooking Lake Austin). Again, somehow I became enamored with the trees and rocks instead of the water.

-julie davis

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Mt. Bonnell Trail

Mt. Bonnell Trail, 10 x 8

Our last plein air class met at Mt. Bonnell Park overlooking Lake Austin. It's hard to be up there and not paint the water, but the shadow on this trail was too compelling.

I'll write more about this later, but for those of you in Austin, a good portion of my work will be on display and for sale at Wendow Fine Living on 38th as of Dec. 1.

-julie davis

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Clear Path

A Clear Path, 8 x 10
One of my daughters and I just returned from spending the weekend in NYC, and I didn't have much time to paint today for hitting the ground running, so I grabbed a photo I've used many times and decided to try more muted tones than I've used for it in the past. One thing I'm definitely accomplishing this fall is painting "larger", faster (as in 8 x 10 is larger than 6 x 8). :) I'm still taking about an hour. The real fun is getting to paint for several hours--rare, but so much fun.

-julie davis

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Canyon Path

Canyon Path, 8 x 10

Working with the same palette here of my black mix, cad yellow, and white. It works for the gray days or mornings when the light is not over the treetops yet. This path winds along Lost Creek here in Austin.

-julie davis

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Dog Trot

Dog Trot, 10 x 8

Today our plein air class met at a park in central Austin--this historic dog trot house was adjacent to the playground. (A dogtrot house is basically two log cabins with a breezeway between them under a common roof. The breezeway provided a cooler covered area for sitting, and I guess, a space through which the family dogs could trot!) I painted half of it--go figure.

-julie davis

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Family of Five

Family of Five, 8 x 6

I didn't have the courage to post what I painted today at Red Bud Isle with Laurel Daniel--just go look at her post from today and that's what we saw--what I painted didn't turn out, well, quite like that. :) So you're treated to a painting from a photo I took while in England last spring--at Blenheim Palace--amazing lawns that went on forever, majestic trees, cold weather and gray skies.

-julie davis

Monday, November 9, 2009

Shadow Family

Shadow Family, 6 x 6

This is a smaller study from the photos I took in class Wednesday. Groups of tree engage me--if trees each have their own gesture, then groups of them pose--some serious, others playful, some inviting, others off-putting. This bunch has a shadowed area that seems an invitation to shelter.

-julie davis

Sunday, November 8, 2009

HIllside Gathering

Hillside Gathering, 8 x 10

Another limited palette exercise, this time using various combinations of orange (aliz. crimson and cad yellow), green (ult. blue and cad yellow), and deep purple (ult. blue and aliz. crimson). Our class met last Wednesday in a park on Lake Austin--I thought I'd forgo the water and focus on a clump of trees. Unfortunately, I had a sick one at home so I didn't get to stay to paint en plein air, but I did a sketch, took some photos, and went straight home and painted.

-julie davis

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Value Chart, 4th post (and last!)

Value Chart

This is the last of the chart postings for now--they're not the most exciting posts, but I loved the way they allowed me to explore more limited palettes, and practice correctly identifying the values in the planes of a landscape. Laurel suggested I put the colors from which I mixed each palette at the top of each set of values--a very good point! Laying out all that tape had me stressed out enough--it's no wonder I missed something. :)

-julie davis

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Value Chart, 3rd post

Value Chart, 3rd exercise

This morning's challenge was with cad yellow and indigo (mixed from ultramarine blue and cad red). The three top colors are 1) mostly indigo with a bit of yellow (adding white as I went down the column), 2) about an equal mix of each (again, adding increasing amounts of white all the way down), and 3) mostly yellow with a bit of indigo (you know the drill).

I may try this exercise again someday soon, but using different scenes--the change may be helpful--getting a little used to this one.

-julie davis

Monday, November 2, 2009

Value Chart

Value Chart

Halloween and a four-day weekend for the kids delayed my progress on this, but I'll get there. I'm not thrilled with my judgement on the values in this second exercise--too light on the ground plane. On my very first experience with this exercise I'd gone too dark on the ground plane, so I think was reacting to that.

Again, I used a limited palette in hopes of challenging my brain to think in values and not necessarily in local color. Here I used a mixture of cad red and a green (which I mixed from cad yellow and ultramarine blue).

-julie davis

Friday, October 30, 2009

Value Chart - Planes

Value Chart - Neutrals


I thought it would be helpful to create four versions of the same scene in different neutral/limited palettes. I started this yesterday, and am going to try to complete it by Monday using different "base" colors. In this one I used the same values used in class on Wednesday, using cad yellow and the black mixture, and lightening with white. It's helpful for me to have these permanently on a board, to reference in the future. Laurel is always advocating making value charts like this, so I'm pretty sure she'll be happy with me here. :)

-julie davis

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Waterloo Park Path

Waterloo Park Path (study), 10 x 8

Finally back outside! It was a cool, overcast day, but our plein air class members were collectively very happy to be outside (last week it rained all day). Laurel had us painting with a limited palette of white, cad yellow, and a black mixture (alizarin crimson, french ultramarine blue, and raw umber). We mixed three different colors using only the black mix and the cad yellow, then mixed five values of each by adding increasing amounts of white. We were to continue to focus on the idea of the four value planes (sky, verticals, slant, and the ground).

It was a real challenge with the limited palette alone, not to mention this exercise demands that you nail the values. I wiped parts of this away several times, but once the lightbulb went off, I had quite a bit of fun. I enjoy the large contrast between the dark trees and the gray sky--much like the recent still lifes I did with the dark backgrounds, the drama in the contrast is appealing.

-julie davis

Monday, October 26, 2009

In the Thick of It

In the Thick of It, 12 x 12

Under a tree and in the midst of wildflowers...seems like a good location for almost anything to me. The donkeys that used to live in this old shelter had a pretty good view of the Guadalupe River, and of course, a decent view of these flowers. This is a slightly larger version of "Unexpected Color" from another post. I keep wanting to get a closer composition of the barn, so I guess I'll just have to go back.

-julie davis

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Field Guide

Field Guide, 6 x 6

This was another value planes study I did early this morning--again taking it slowly as an exercise in making accurate value decisions. It's funny, though, because I was using yesterday's paint (which I'd moved around on my palette), and was so tired I wound up using pthalo blue instead of french ultramarine to mix my greens. Not an "accurate decision," but I decided to stick with it, as it was just a study and the colors didn't matter as much as getting the values right. It put a twist on things, but I kind of like the resulting color combinations.

-julie davis

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Substitute

The Substitute, 6 x 8

Today we began Laurel Daniel's plein air class for this semester--except that it rained all day, so today we painted inside and studied value planes. Interestingly enough, it was an invaluable lesson! She took us slowly through the development of a landscape, concentrating on making sure we were accurately recording the values in the four planes of a landscape (sky, ground, slant, verticals). Laurel gave us each a copy of this photo from which to work--"The Substitute" fits because we painted from a photo, instead of outside. (It's late, clever is not easy). : )

-julie davis

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Winding Road

Winding Road, 6 x 6

This is painted from a photo from our recent trip out to Hunt, Texas. The weather was entirely drizzly and gray and cool, but so perfectly appropriate for October. This is a portion of FM 1340, and it runs along the North Fork of the Guadalupe River.

-julie davis

Monday, October 19, 2009

Unexpected Color

Unexpected Color, 8 x 10

The unexpected part was finding wildflowers in bloom this time of year. On a recent trip to the Hill Country of Texas, my family and I found fields literally covered with yellow--and even some blue. Whatever these were, they were a pleasant surprise.

-julie davis

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sweet and Sour

Sweet and Sour, 11 x 14

I just threw it all in today--lemons, pear, clementines. I experimented with a more neutral background--the girls think the darks are depressing.....ah, the family comments! I still find these days I often rush through. This week my intention is to focus more on methodically setting up my composition and really taking time with my painting.

-julie davis

Friday, October 16, 2009

I Take Thee, Clementine....

I Take Thee, Clementine...., 6 x 8

Clementines are fun to paint. I love their round, squatty form--so relaxed, but so colorful. OK, maybe I've gone off the deep end or inhaled too many paint fumes. Still, they're what I gravitate toward when I want to relax and just paint an uncomplicated still life.

-julie davis

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Orange Crush

Orange Crush, 11 x 14

Originally this was "Pied Piper," but my daughters didn't get it--minor failure as a parent. So, "Orange Crush," being that much more familiar to them, was the winner. The crush clearly isn't mutual.

-julie davis

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Lecture

The Lecture, 11 x 14

No matter whether it's a teacher or parent giving the lecture, the recipient's look is often the same. This pear just looked like it was giving some advice to some not-so-enthused clementines. (And, yes, this is a Taylor's Gold). I'm still enjoying the dark backgrounds, though this time I went with a lighter foreground--I'm finally feeling like I have it (almost) together again. :)

-julie davis

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Interloper

The Interloper, 11 x 14

The pear is the wolf in sheep's clothing--its stem looks ominous having said that. In this painting I was getting the last painting opportunity out of the Star Krimson pear before it became breakfast. My girls definitely preferred the Taylor's Gold over the Star Krimson.....much sweeter. I'll post the last of the Taylor's tomorrow.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


Cousins, 6 x 6

So many varieties of pears--these are the Star Krimson I posted the other day, and one Taylor's Gold--this morning's breakfast will be a taste test for my girls. As I've really been trying to paint larger even by a little in my daily studies, these 6 x 6's suddenly seem confining. I'm really a creature of habit and whatever I get used to I find comfortable--a good stretching of those boundaries is good for me.

-julie davis

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Staying Up Late

Staying Up Late, 11 x 14

This morning was the last day of Laurel Daniel's still life class at AMOA. It's been a great refresher in both values and still life. The challenge today was to create a painting with relationships of 2/3, 1/3, and smidge values--we could choose to do 2/3 of the painting light, 1/3 mid-tone, and a smidge of dark, or 2/3 dark, 1/3 mid, and a smidge of light.....or even 2/3 mid....you get the idea. I went with the 2/3 dark, 1/3 mid, smidge of light (since I've been experimenting at home with dark backgrounds). It's a pretty dramatic result, but I'm liking the drama lately....

-julie davis

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Star Krimson

Star Krimson, 6 x 6

Keeping it simple--a single star krimson pear--you have to love Central Market for the wide variety of fruits and veggies they offer. I'm looking forward to trying this one.

-julie davis

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Lineup

The Lineup, 8 x 16

Who among you has heard of a fruit called quince? I'm certain I'm showing my ignorance, but I picked some up at Central Market today because they looked appealing to paint--hopefully they're just as good to eat. I read that quince is most often used in jams because it can be bitter (the extra sugar masks the bitterness).

I'm still in a funk--struggling to find inspiration and struggling with painting itself. So, I end up doing random things, like this. Odd format, odd fruit, dark.....hopefully it will lead somewhere soon!

-julie davis

Monday, September 28, 2009

Why Me?

Why Me?, 8 x 10

I messed around today with high contrast in the background--this is supposed to be a white napkin on a black table....doesn't it feel a bit like the bowl, napkin, and knife are floating in space?! I didn't think so until I saw it in photograph form. Don't you think it's a perspective issue, rather than the contrast? The downfalls of a fast painting! I at least like the title my 11 year-old came up with...

-julie davis

Sunday, September 27, 2009


Outnumbered, 8 x 10

I'm looking forward to painting and posting again in earnest. We had a tragedy in the neighborhood last weekend, and painting could not be a priority.

This afternoon I thought I'd work at what Laurel was asking us to do in class--studying value shifts in local color. I wasn't after creative color or composition, or accuracy of detail, and admittedly, the tennis and golf ball subject matter was not the biggest challenge I could've set out for myself. However, conveying a sphere in paint is fun for me, and that's what I needed today--straightforward and just happy. So I pulled out some of my daughter's practice golf balls and an old, flat tennis ball, and set them out on my table. I did enjoy this one, and got some practice seeing the value shifts in different variations of white. Since the golf balls were old, some were more yellow, while some leaned blue or gray. It felt great to push some paint around again, and I learned a good bit in the process.

-julie davis

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Values Exercise

Values Exercise, 12 x 12

Greatest day--yesterday we started Laurel Daniel's class again--four short weeks, but I love learning, and learning about painting is such a kick for me-even when it's studying value. This is actually the third I did in class yesterday--the first dealt with local color with a light, medium, and dark object. The second was painted with a range of 7-8 grays from black to white, and the third we were allowed to use color, attempting to keep the same accuracy in value shifts. This doesn't look too colorful, but the objects were quite neutral, and I didn't go crazy with the background color. I like the neutrals, even though the subject matter isn't glamorous. I suppose it helps the form stand out more.

-julie davis

Monday, September 14, 2009


Oasis, 8 x 10

Have to admit, I feel in a bit of a rut. I went back to an old favorite, and just painted for the sake of painting. I think mentally, I'm distracted right now, so doing something familiar was satisfying.

-julie davis