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Sunday, December 29, 2013

2013 In Review ...

What a busy year it has been!   Its been a good year - but with much busyness.  Family events have been notable.  My youngest got married this past summer in a beautiful wedding... Just 9 months prior, my middle son was married in another beautiful wedding.  Its also been a year of working on larger works of art, completing 3 larger paintings and also a number of smaller ones.  And, I've continued a full time job of teaching.  My daily schedule has been full and sometimes demanding.  As part of my teaching career, I've completed several more graduate classes - with just a couple more to complete this spring. 

In this post, I'm including some of the highlights of this year's studio work... The spring promises to be busy - but, I am looking forward to more studio work as the new year begins. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Snow scape for a snowy December!

Icy Riverbank,  11x14" oil on canvas
©Helen Read 

ready to frame
(please add $20.00 shipping in the US, IL residents, please add 8.25% sales tax)

This impressionistic style landscape is an accurate representation of the snow I'm looking out at right now!  Its been a cold and snowy December ... the coldest in many years.
This painting brings out many lovely colors in the shadows ~ even though it is a painting of snow, there isn't much white in the painting. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Ribbons and Bows

This drawing was done a few years ago - colored pencil on black paper. 

Now that December is here, I'm posting something to start off the Christmas season! 
Its been a tremendously busy fall ....  and I hope to have more here very soon! 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Sunflower tattoo

This has never happened in my experience ...  I've just sold the use of an original sunflower drawing as a tattoo.   This will be used for a new client in England, who found this image in an older blog post and really wanted it for her next tattoo. 
I'm very honored that someone would like to wear my art!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Barely There

Barely There, 10x 8" Oil on Canvas
©2009, Helen Read
Ready to Frame
(shipping $12.00 in US - IL residents, please add 8.25% sales tax.) 

This is what I see, right now, as I look out my window!  The sky is a glorious blue, and just a few dried leaves cling to bare branches.  Yes, winter is on its way.   There's a stark beauty about this time of year, however, as fall makes its last preparations for winter's return. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Fall colors! Marigolds.

Marigold,  5x7" Oil on canvas
©2008, Helen Read 
ready to frame
(Please add $12.00 shipping in the US, IL residents please add 8.25% sales tax.)

Have you ever looked closely at the center of a flower?  There is always something surprising and beautiful awaiting!  The colors of this beautiful golden marigold are so vibrant... they speak of this time of year in full color!  

Monday, October 28, 2013

Dried leaves and flowers

Dried Flowers, 10x8" oil on canvas
©Helen Read
ready to frame

(please add $20.00 shipping in the US.  IL residents please add 8.25% sales tax)

This fall has just evaporated!   Do you ever feel that way?   I've had many irons in the fire, as I usually do in the school year.  But its been complicated by the fact that I'm also taking 6 hrs of graduate work at the same time.... interesting.... but time consuming! 
So, my studio time has been very much limited.  And what time I have been in the studio has been spent working on a larger abstract.  So, I'm posting this fall painting in the meantime.  Its one of my favorites from a couple years ago - and its still available!  

Monday, October 14, 2013

Fall is here!

Fallscape,  12x10" Oil on canvas
©2008, Helen Read
Ready to Frame
(Please add $20.00 shipping in the US, IL residents please add 8.25% sales tax)

Its such a beautiful time of year, full of color!   This is a small plein air painting - where I captured the magnificence of the colors of fall!  So many warm colors of orange, reds and shocking yellows!
It is painted in an impressionistic style - rather loose and free.
Let this come to your house for a beautiful dash of color! 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

New Abstract Underway

detail of larger painting
This time of year is always very busy ....  but I have started and am working on another larger abstract in the series of abstracts I've begun. 
This one, as you can see, has some textured elements in it.  Again, I'm working with the idea of small circles and using acrylic paint for its vivacity. 

I hope to have this one completed soon! 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Yay! 2 new homes!

Thank you for participating!! 

These two small paintings are headed to their new homes! 
And the profits will be donated to a family in extraordinary need. 
Thank you! 
Its exciting to be able to offer help to them, and participating in this auction helped to make it possible!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Benefit Auction - ends very soon!

        Its not too late! Yet...

       auction ends on Saturday 9/28
scroll to my most recent post to find out the
          story about who benefits! 

Bird and Berries
Bird and Berries, 7x5" Oil on canvas
Please click here for the auction link

Hollyhock Stalks
Hollyhocks, 8x8" Oil on canvas
Please click here for the auction link

Dusty Landscape
Dusty Road, 5x7" acrylic on paper
(matted for an 8x10" frame)
Please click here for the auction link 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

BENEFIT Auction Starting Now through Saturday September 28th

From time to time, a need comes to my attention to which I want to give help ~
and yet, my own financial ability to help is very limited.
So, with this auction of 3 paintings, all the profits will go to help this family that is struggling with some very profound needs.
(read more of their story below)

Please click the link below each image to be taken to the auction site -
Each painting is started at a great starting price of $30 + shipping.
Please bid on one of these original paintings to be sent to your house, and know that the purchase has
been for the benefit of a family in need.

 Hollyhock Stocks,  8x8" Oil on canvas -
gallery wrapped and painted around sides - no need to frame

 Dusty Landscape, 5x7" Acrylic on textured paper
matted in an off white mat to fit a 8x10" frame

Bird and Berries, 7x5" oil on canvas
ready to frame

Please click the link under each image to be taken to the auction site! 

Some information about the family in need: 
This family lives half way across the country from where I live.  The mother, after her husband's numerous affairs and drug arrests, removed herself and her 4 children from the marriage.  Shockingly, when they married, this kind of scenario was impossible to imagine, he did not give any evidence of choosing such a path.  After they divorced, she has struggled to raise the 4 children on limited income and to also remain a close and connected mother, raising her children to be strong and productive young people.  Her struggle has been magnified by the father who moved to the other side of the country and is now residing out of country, and has shown very little responsibility for the financial care of his 4 kids.  The mom has been able to find work, but in this economy, not enough work to fully support her family.   

To add to the situation, a major plumbing problem at her house has resulted in the need to cut off the water.  For almost 6 weeks, she's been relying on rainwater for washing water, an old (undrinkable) well for water to flush toilets, and the kindness of neighbors who have provided drinking water.  Its almost unthinkable that this could be happening in our country.  She does not qualify for social services in her area because she does own her home.  Even buying food is often in question.  She has many burdens to keep her family functioning each and every day, as she continues to seek additional employment and yet be present to provide love and care for her children. 
Perhaps you've been or know someone who is also struggling.  Its hard to imagine this kind of daily struggle if you haven't experienced it in any way.  My heart goes out to her, because I too have had a period of time in my life with my three children, when things were very uncertain. 

If you bid and win one of the 3 paintings above, all profits will help this family in a very immediate way.  And, if you think of saying a prayer for this family, that would be very much appreciated. I've come to know in my own life that prayer is a very effective and powerful resource.   The family I've told you about is one of strong spirit and faith, and would also appreciate your prayers.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Pastel Paintings

Original Pastel Paintings
Just $25.00
Each of these is ready to mat and frame
What a great deal!
Please click on the link under each painting for all the information to have it sent to your house!  
 Lone Tree, 6x8" Oil pastel on paper 

 Evening Sky - Rose, 6x8" Oil pastel on paper 

 Reflection, 6x8" Oil pastel on paper 

 Streak of Orange, 6x8" Oil pastel on paper

November Tree, 8x6" Oil pastel on paper 

Please click the links for more information on how to make a pastel painting yours!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

September rerun - Agave

Green Agave, 6x6" Watercolor and Acrylic on clayboard

(ready to frame.  Shipping $12.00 in US,  International shipping is additional
IL residents, please add 8.25% sales tax.)

Friday, August 30, 2013

Summer is almost over, and my Etsy Sale is Ending! Just 2 more days!

My August Etsy sale is almost ended!   
Receive a 10% discount on anything and everything you purchase by using this coupon code! 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Newly Redesigned Website!

Please visit my newly "remodeled" website!  Take a few minutes and look around;
its easy to navigate... I'm still in the process of learning all that is available to me there, and I'm uploading photos. 

I'm looking forward to continuing to make it more interesting and useful to collectors as well as adding things to interest other artists. 

Here's the link:

Please leave me your comments in the "contact the artist" section.  I'd love to hear you opinions and any suggestions you might have to make it even better! 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A landscape & architectural structure!

Tunkhannock Viaduct, 9x12" Oil on canvas
©2013 Helen Read
(Please add $20 shipping in the US, IL residents please add 8.25% sales tax)

In this painting, I hoped to capture the grandeur of a landscape with man-made architecture in it. The lighting and the magnificence of the structure were of equal interest to my eye. 
I happened, very unexpectedly, upon this scene traveling through northeastern PA - and was completely captured by the beauty of craftsmanship and creation! 

Friday, August 16, 2013

More progress on my newest painting

Progress Continues! 

The next few steps are shown here.  I've started putting in a little more substance to the bridge and a few spots of shady green below.  You can start to see a little more of he light and how that is affecting the colors. 

Even more work has happened on the bridge here! 

I'll be posting more in the next few days.  I hope to have the final version soon thereafter!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

First steps - a new painting

I've just gotten a step or two done here - this will be a new 9x12" oil - It will be a landscape, though right now, it looks much more architectural.  I started with a careful drawing of the structure (which is the Tuckhannok Viaduct - from a reference picture I took in NE Pennsylvania).  The structure is amazing to see - extremely tall.   I hope to capture its grandeur.  And below it is a wild growth of foliage and rather tall trees. I was particularly captivated by its beauty and grace ... a lovely reminder of what went into construction 100 years ago. 

I'll be posting pictures of the progress!  Keep watching! 

Friday, August 9, 2013

Etsy! A variety of items available.....

Come visit my Etsy site! 
I've just added items after a studio cleaning!   

I'm offering an August coupon to use at my Etsy site- 10% off all items purchased! 
The coupon expires 8-31-13

Here's the coupon code:  BLG813 


Wednesday, August 7, 2013


Abundance, 9x12" Oil on canvas
©2013 Helen Read

I named this painting Abundance because the scene from which I painted this was overflowing with blossoms and foliage and -- well, life!
As I looked over the pond in the foreground, the flowering trees seemed to cascade toward the water and then the rose color spread toward me.  All of it, even the scrubby parts of the shore were lovely.
It was as if the beauty and the life of the woodlands could not be contained! 

Another look - making an abstract painting

Spirit, 22 x 30" Acrylic on Paper 
©2010  Helen Read
(in its final form)

This is the first video I've made about the process of making this larger abstract painting.  While it shows my process, it is visual only.  Take a couple minutes to watch it!  I think you'll find it interesting and also perhaps it will bring you a few minutes of relaxation and - joy!  

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Creating a landscape - my process:

Before anything else, I make preliminary sketches working out the composition and the value structure of the painting I plan to do. I haven't shown that part of the process here - perhaps that will be a separate post!

I'm starting with a 9x11" stretched canvas.  My first step is to tone the canvas so that I don't have a stark white canvas.  I've chosen a light violet to use for this step - though many different colors could be used.  I try to smooth it so that I have an evenly toned canvas as it dries. 
Its a little hard to see here, which is the point!   Using the reference picture I've chosen, I do a very light sketch on the canvas - mostly just putting in the larger shapes.  This was done with a very fine tipped pencil.  You don't want a heavy graphite line which will smear and blend with the oil paints. 
Sometimes, I use a thin wash of paint to do the same thing.
  One of the most important aspects of a painting is value.  Its important to establish where the dark areas need to be and where the light areas need to be.  This shows those early brushstrokes, which are done in ultramarine blue and done in a light wash.
This shot shows a little bit more of where I've placed the darker values.  And, I'm also beginning to add the color of the sky.  This is just the first pass at the sky.  If you have the opportunity to look at the sky and really notice the change in color, you will see that on a clean (non-humid) day, the sky is deeper in color as it ascends and less color is typical as it approaches the horizon.  The change is subtle, but its there.
My reference picture has clouds, but I decided to eliminate them and go with a clear sky.
I often use a fan brush to create a more even distribution of paint.
You can see something of the way the sky color subtly changes here.
Next, I'm starting to add some of the local color and I'm paying attention to the values.  I want to put in the darker values and be sure to adjust them with the other colors.  There's a lot of green in this painting - and I want to be sure that my greens have variety.  In order to tone down some of the acidic greens that are often seen straight from the tube, and are not natural at all - I mix with a variety of colors.  Here I've used Chrome Green, and added at times some Ochre, or some Ultramarine blue, or some Alizarin Crimson, or even some violet.  To brighten it in the few brighter spots, I've added some Hansa Yellow and possibly some Ochre too.
I've begin adding addition shapes.   I also want to pay attention to the direction that the light is shining in this image.  Capturing the light correctly gives a great deal of believability to the picture you create.   More adjustment will be needed as I continue.
I've made more progress here, showing more than just the green in the picture.  This picture (which I took in the spring), has a beautiful grouping of redbud trees in full bloom. I've started adding in that color now, but more adjustment of values and color will be needed as I proceed.
 Now - the reflective water needs to be painted.  The main thing to notice is that the colors are mirrored and the shapes are mirrored in the water.  But, the water produces a softer edge to shapes and colors.
The reflective water is now basically finished.  I also have gone back to heighten the darker values, particularly at the waterline.
The color shown here is not particularly true because of the lighting I used as I worked.
The painting is now finished and drying.  I'll post the final scan in a day or two when its dry! 
For those who wonder what the process might entail,  I hope this gives a little insight into how a landscape is created using oil paints and a reference picture.

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