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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

A landscape in process

A finished painting requires a process.... This one is still in its process, but here you can see some of the steps and how it's unfolding

A thumbnail sketch begins my process. Here I am looking at shapes and values and trying to make some compositional decisions. 

Then a larger and more complex value study. I'm refining shapes here and trying to see all the subtleties of lights and darks.

Finally I'm ready to do a monochromatic oil sketch on canvas focusing on values as well as shapes. I want to get placements right and definitely need to simplify things!  This will become my underpainting. 

And now I'm ready to begin laying in color.  At this stage, I've just begun that process and will continue after layers dry.

From concept to finished painting, there's much to organize and consider. This painting has quite a bit left to do! Updates coming soon! 

Friday, November 27, 2015

First marks! New Landscape just begun...

This will be a 12 x 9" oil on canvas fall landscape.  So, what I've done so far is to work out an interesting composition with the 3 trees to the left, balanced by the dark stand of trees behind them.  I've tried to create an interesting network of values to hold the composition together and then I've done an oil sketch trying to emphasize where the values will be placed.  I'll continue working on this in the coming days as things dry.  Stay tuned to watch it's progress! 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Great opportunity! Cyber Monday and...

Its all in 1 place and easy to browse!  
Visit today! 

Cyber Monday - Free Shipping on all purchases when shipped within the US.  (This could be a $20 or more saving!)
Here's how it works:   You make a purchase!  Paypal will charge shipping (I cannot disable that feature), but then, I will refund it right away... also through PayPal.  
Then, I package it and send it to you!
I always send an email to let you know it is on its way,  that way you'll know when to expect its arrival.   Easy and arrives very quickly through USPS. 

Also, here's another great opportunity!  We can partner together...
Its been heartbreaking to see the plight of so many refugees displaced and desperate for just the bare essentials of life.  We find ourselves in a delicate position of wanting to offer compassionate help and balancing that with the need for national security.  In the meantime, non profit organizations are able to provide essentials right now, where the refugees are.  So, now through December 18, I will happily donate 50% of all profits from sales to the needs of those in such desperate circumstances.
When you make a purchase of a beautiful piece of art, you can feel a sense of satisfaction knowing that purchase is also helping to provide needed food, medicines, and shelter for someone whose life literally hangs in the balance.  The need is great - so lets get involved and help!  


Friday, November 13, 2015

Sun and Shadows

Green Agave, 6x6" Watercolor and Acrylic on clayboard
©Helen Read

From a few years back, I'm reposting this lovely little painting.  I loved the play of shadows against the brightly lit greens.  This one is ready to place in a frame and be hung on a small wall or on an small easel in a book shelf!

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

Monday, November 9, 2015

Learning from the Masters

It's important!  And I don't do it often enough --- tonight I'm looking at the works of master artists and making thumbnail sketches in order to understand the way they've composed their paintings.  It's a little tedious, but valuable. It makes me observe more closely and analyze what is before me. 

Monday, October 26, 2015

Autumn - Lake Ellyn

Autumn - Lake Ellyn,  8x10" Oil on canvas
© 2015, Helen Read 
Ready to Frame 
(Please add $20 shipping in the US, IL residents please add 8.25% sales tax) 

Fall has had a late start this year!  In fact, the fall colors are just now beginning to come out when often at this time of year most of the leaves are already fallen.  I wondered if it had passed us by, but we have had quite a beautiful fall after all.  This painting was begun this summer as a value study, and then, I added the color this fall, just as the colors were beginning to show!  

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Nearing the home stretch on this little painting!

I've been working along on this fall landscape, which I started in the summer! I just have a little more to do in the foreground.  
I'll post the final form soon! 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015


Yes, this is the painting I started this summer - and since the colors have all changed, I'm reworking this for this season.  It's still got a ways to go before its done. I like the colors and the sense of fall... It makes more sense to observe and paint than to try to remember what it looked like 3 or more months ago! 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Finishing a landscape

This summer, before my big move, I started a watery landscape.  Now my studio is finally put together and I'm able to get back to working on its completion.  

It seems very green and lush now that it is fall, but when I started it- everything was very, very green! 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Summer's End

Withered Beauty - sunflower, 15 x 15" Watercolor/mixed media on paper
©2012, Helen Read 
ready to mat and frame 
(Shipping $20.00 in US, additional costs internationally, IL residents, please add 8.25% sales tax) 
Looking back a few years, this watercolor painting is the perfect depiction of summer's end.  Its gotten a little bit chilly here these past few weeks.  I'm still hoping for more warm weather ~ just can't find much enthusiasm for ice, snow, wind and below zero temps.  I loved the dried and curled appearance of the petals and the leaves on this withered sunflower.  All rather challenging to paint! 

It is ready to be shipped, but will have to be shipped in a larger sized flat box.
Matting and framing are not included 
For more information - please email me!

Friday, September 25, 2015

A Small Watercolor Landscape - watch it come together

I am finally able to use my new studio space!  It has been several weeks - moving, unpacking, getting settled, starting a new semester at work... just very busy.  But finally, I'm getting my brushes wet - and here's a new little watercolor landscape.  Look below and see how I progressed through each stage to a finished small painting. 
Field of Flowers, 4x6" watercolor on paper 
©Helen Read, 2015
Matted in white and ready to frame in 8x10" frame
(Please add $10.00 shipping in the US, IL residents please add 8.25% sales tax) 

A field of Black-Eyed Susans... pretty much as far as the eye can see! 

Here are its various stages of development: 

First marks of color - adding wet into wet ultramarine blue with some violet

Starting to faintly lay in the edges of trees - also wet into wet.

Progressing - looking more like a landscape. Trying to establish more contrasts in value. 

Putting in some foreground - while building the middle ground.  And working with greens; pushing the values back and forth - trying to achieve a good green without being too blue or too yellow or too bright green!

Just about done!  Adjusting values. Adding the suggestion of flowers in the foreground. 
Ready for matting and to find its new home! 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Throwback Thursday - Egret

Knee Deep - Snowy Egret, 7 x 11.5" watercolor/acrylic on paper
©2010, Helen Read
Matted in white and ready to frame in 11x14" frame
($12.00 shipping in US, IL residents please add 8.25% sales tax)

I've come to enjoy egrets in a new way, just lately.  My new residence backs up to a lake and I get to see egrets almost every day.  Not too many days ago, I counted 6 on our little lake all at once!  I don't think I've ever seen them in that number before.  They truly are stately and beautiful.
This painting was done a few years ago.  I had been to South Carolina and really enjoyed watching them fish in the coastal waters.  This one is still available and would make a beautiful addition to almost any room!  Maybe it would look lovely in your home! 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Back to some drawing

Back yard drawing on this beautiful afternoon in September! My move has certainly slowed down my studio work - that and starting a new semester at work!  It's been a busy, busy few months. 

My studio is almost put together and I look forward to getting a new canvas prepared and beginning a new painting.  Today was a little warm up! 

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Getting back to it!

     It's been a rather long resettlement process!  I've gotten moved and finally, today, I'm back online - its taken nearly a month to move and get all systems up and running.  The day after my move was complete, I started back to work in the new semester, so its been hectic and very disorganized.  I'm happy to be back, though.   And while I finish getting my studio functional (I've worked a lot on that task today), I'm posting some work from awhile back.  It's still available, and I would love to find its permanent home!  Perhaps it could come to your home! 

Swedish Birches,  7x10" Oil pastel on illustration board
©2014, Helen Read 
matted in white to fit 11x14" frame
(Free domestic shipping,  IL residents please add 8 % sales tax) 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Moved, but not yet connected

The move has happened!  What a task!  And school starts today, though I've been back at work all this week....hardly time to breathe and no time, yet, to unpack.  I have mobile devices connected online, but my computer is yet to be completely installed in its new space and my entire studio is still in boxes..  So, painting and posting remains a post-phoned activity!  

While I wait to get things up and running, here are a couple pictures from my back yard.  My new studio will have this view, which is rather exciting!  I am making progress as quickly as I can to get settled...but there have been many other demands.  I hope to be back at my artistic work soon - as soon as my studio can be unpacked and a working space organized.  Have I mentioned that moving is a monumental task?? 
.... It is!!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

While my studio is moving - Throwback Thursday!

Callas at Sunrise, 12x16" Oil on canvas
©2014, Helen Read
Ready to frame
(Please add $20.00 shipping in the US, IL residents please add 8.25% sales tax)
My studio is packed up in boxes and mostly in the new location, but far from being set up.  So, I'm taking the opportunity to post something from about a year ago.  I am a great admirer of flowers, and love to see the surprises that lie inside!  
This painting was a composite of several  reference photos I took during the spring while in California.  The callas had recently been doused with a spring shower and were absolutely beautiful.  It wasn't quite at sunrise when the photos were made, but early morning.  These three seemed to shimmer with the light, and the leaves had such an interesting ruffled effect.   A painting waiting to come into being! 

Monday, August 3, 2015

Dappled Light from a few years back

Dappled light - watercolor on paper 
private collection - Malaysia

I'm still in the midst of my move... so I have no new work to share yet.  This one is from a few years ago, done just at this time of year.  It was sold and is now in a private collection in Malaysia. 
I was struck, when I painted this one, with the beautiful light filtering in through the trees, and the dew that still clung to the near branches of the evergreen.  Last night, we had thunderous thunderstorms - this morning it is a very similar scene. Beautiful light filtering through the leaves of the drenched leaves, reflecting off the water droplets that still cling.  It reminds me that our Creator continues to care for the world of his creation.  

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

8 years later ....

Conch Shell, 8x8" oil on canvas

The studio is packed up - and waiting for its new location, which will begin next week.  So, I'm posting some of my history for the next few weeks until I'm back at work on new works!  
I started my blog, Brushstrokes, etc, 8 years ago this month!  That seems hard to believe!  
I had come across the painters who were making a painting a day and was intrigued.  My life was too busy (still is) to do a whole painting a day, but I knew I could paint every day and that's what I set out to do.  I also knew I would likely fail at my attempt to be disciplined if I wasn't in some way accountable - so my blog was born!  
This painting was one of the first I posted on my blog.  Its amazing to consider what all has happened in life and artistically during these last 8 years - children have flown the nest, married, a grandchild is on the way, I'm leaving the home where I've lived for 15 years and will be setting up home and studio in a new place.  I'm still teaching art at the public high school in my city - but the students have changed in many ways in the past 8 years!  And, I think, my work has continued to grow - which was the reason for becoming a daily artist! One of the other great benefits has been the opportunity to meet many fellow artists and art lovers all over the world through this blog!  So here's to 8 years... and many more to come! 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Summer Focus ~ working on painting water!

If you've been looking at my blog this summer, you've noticed that I've been taking a course in painting! Its been fun to be a student this I'm usually in the teacher role.  One of the things we did a lot of in this class was drawing on site - and yes, even some painting on site too! 
When it comes down to it, value (range of darks and lights) is essential to any kind of drawing and painting and that is not different in landscape painting.  So, here are some of my drawings from the beginning of class.  Here we were looking at drawing the values of moving water and still water, while rendering reflections accurately.  Learning to "see" what is really there is one of the things I talk to my classes about continually as they learn to draw.  That's no different in this scenario... learning to see!  Even if its moving!  (It takes a lot of practice!)

After working with drawings, we did value sketches in oil.  In a value sketch, we didn't use color - we worked on just finding the correct lights and darks for the what the scene required.  This was done on site - with an audience at times - as I painted what I saw. 

Finally, after the values are added in correctly, then color can be applied. 
Klein Creek, 8x10 Oil on Canvas

This is my small finished painting, Klein Creek.  You can probably see that we have had a lot of rain and this little creek, which is usually rather slow and lazy was running very fast!  
Please click here to find out more about this painting, that is now in need of a permanent home!

We also needed to do a painting of still water.  There's a small local lake nearby and it was here by Lake Ellyn, that I found that quiet space to create another painting.  The reflections in this painting were quite different from the reflections in moving water (above).

Quiet Water, 12x9" oil on linen panel
That's how this painting, Quiet Water, came to be.  It too, is in need of a permanent home!  Please click here to find out all about this painting, perhaps it would be a wonderful addition to your home!?

 The final assignment of this course was to do a more detailed value study of a water scene and then render it in full color.  Again, looking for accuracy in drawing in the values is very important.

Herrick Lake, 8x10" oil on gessoed panel
And finally, Herrick Lake, was my last painting for this 4 week course.   You can see that the mirror-like surface is what this painting portrays, and that was different than either of the other 2 paintings you see above.  You can also see that green was a predominant color this summer.  With all the rain we've had, our local landscape is quite lush and very green! Green has many iterations, however, which became a challenge to use that color in a variety of ways.  Herrick Lake has found its home!  Please visit my website to find out what other paintings might be available for your home!

Monday, July 20, 2015

It's not too late, but time is running out!

I still need HELP!  
As I wrote last week, I am moving my home and studio in a couple weeks.  So, I'm offering some of my small paintings for just a few short weeks at a fraction of what they usually sell for.  This offer is given so that I have less to pack and move and so that my friends can enjoy some original art! Perhaps this will start or add to your own collection!

Now through July Friday, July 24th. The following are $19.95 each and that includes shipping!! (These paintings usually sell for $90 - $120).  That's right! $19.95 - and that's the full amount*!  See below the images for how to do this!  Each are ready to frame, but some are painted around the edges and framing is optional. The one's that have sold in the last week are now marked sold, but there are still more at this once-ever opportunity! 
* (Please note: Free shipping only within the US - for IL residents, I do need to add 8.25% sales tax, which adds $1.65. Your new total is only - $21.60)

Kitchen art - still life
Top left - Red Velvet, 5x5" oil on canvas
Top Rt - Pepper Plate, 6x6" oil on canvas
Lower Lft - 3 Lemons, 6x6" oil on canvas  SOLD
lower Rt - 4 Amigos, 5x5" oil on canvas

Top Lft - Green Grapes, 5x7" oil on canvas
Top Rt - Red Head, 5x7" oil on canvas
Lower Lft - Red Peppers, 6x6" oil on canvas
Lower Rt- Odd Fellows, 7x5" oil on canvas

Left- Purple Kohlrabi, 8x8" oil on canvas
Right- November Gathering, 8x8" oil on canvas

Botanical and Landscape
Left - Green on Blue, 7x5" oil on canvas   SOLD
Center- Snowy Woods, 8x7" oil on canvas  SOLD
Right- Winter Steeple, 7x5" oil on canvas  SOLD

Left - Hollyhocks, 8x8" oil on canvas   SOLD
Center- Yellow Iris, 6x6" acrylic on panel  SOLD
Right - West Wind, 7x5" oil on canvas

Left - Pink Hollyhock, 6x6" oil on canvas
Right - Iridescence (butterfly) diptych
6 x 13" overall

 Left - Waterlily, 5x7" oil on canvas 
Right - Pineapple Top, 5x5" oil on canvas

Left - Asleep, 5 x7" acric on canvas  SOLD
Right- Frosted, 5x 7" oil on canvas

Left- Undulation 3, 10x8" o on canvas
Center- Agave, 6x6" acrylic on panel
Right- Pink Hydrangea, 8x8" oil on canvas

     Here's how to have your favorite(s) sent your way! Email me:  Include the title of the painting or paintings you'd like and I'll send you an invoice through PayPal. You can use your PayPal account or a credit card, and you don't even HAVE to have a PayPal account to participate! Then, after receiving payment, it will be packaged and sent!  It's that simple! 

I'm hoping each and every one of these will find a great home! (Don't forget, they can also make a great gift!)   I'm not painting these smaller sizes much anymore, so this is a great opportunity for my friends and a big help to me!     First come, first served! But the offer expires on July 24th! 

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