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Sunday, December 22, 2013

MB Challenge: December, the twelfth year

Diana chose the theme for this month, "Christmas Dress". Both she and Suzanne offered to do another theme if this one bothered me. Suzanne, in particular, has given me the courage to 'come out' a bit. She has done much of her healing process verbally, through her blog. She's been so brave!

We were all three running late this month, but decided to give it our best shot anyway...part of the challenge. I will continue to work on mine.

While not exactly a Christmas Dress, my choice is definitely a Party Dress. And Sarah was a beautiful three year old in the picture. She'll be gone 12 years this xmas day. bummer. A few days before her time, she asked several times if she was a pretty baby.


20 x 16" oil on linen
© V.N.Ross

I want to announce that I was chosen to participate in a project, and mine was approved! Please click to go see the video and all the perks I designed. AND share, please!

"Dressing Up" 
Mixed media, 20"x16” 
©2013 Suzanne Berry

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

Friday, November 15, 2013

Selfish...oops, SHELLFISH MB challenge Nov 2013

hahaha! Wicki is acting up again.

Axully, my lobster might be better this way! My first crack at encaustics. Man, it is harder than it sounds like it would be...wax is all melted nice and fluid, made up in my double primary palette...but the second you lift the brush it starts to harden. I think it will be easier to pre-mix my colors, then mix with the wax/damar.

Kudos to the artists who manage to achieve a glass-like surface. I'll keep up with the experiment for awhile.

Just Kiddin!

Suzanne chose this month's theme, and as usual she and Diana nailed theirs!

"Pick Me...Not!"
7.5" x 7.5", Encaustic
© V.N.Ross

Oil on hardboard, 4"x6"
©2013 Diana Moses Botkin

16x16" oil on linen
©Suzanne Berry

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Paint with a Palette Knife-Moses Botkin Challenge Oct. 2013

I love to hear Suzanne (Berry) howl! Her work is typically so precise, I felt this one would flip her out. she nailed it, as usual. All kidding aside, a good friend of mine, Urania Christy Tarbet never uses brushes with her oil paints. Says cleanup is almost instantaneous with a knife.

I started using one when I had a large space to get pigment onto. Mix a big pile very loosely, and then load the knife to transport it to the canvas. I love the texture AND evidence of the colors used in the mixture.

Mine is on watercolor paper that had been thickly covered with metallic gold acrylic underpainting.

7.5" x 7.5" Oil on paper
© V.N.Ross

"Puff Top"  
Oil on hardboard, 6"x8"
©2013 Diana Moses Botkin

Flower of the Sun
12x12" oil on canvas
©Suzanne Berry

Sunday, September 15, 2013

"Black" 9-15-2013 Moses Botkin Challenge

My teammates are twisted :) First, "White", then "Black". One of the things I love about this challenge is that it makes me think out of the box. Axully, I typically LIVE out of the box!

This is a see all the color appearing in black subjects. I set up the black bottle against a black background, black easel with black swarovski crystal purchased in Prague. Then, in order to see anything, a carefully placed, shadow causing spotlight. Ahhh. Ochres, purples, green...all seemed to jump out. Warm colors and cool colors. 

Another bit of enjoyment beyond the actual challenge is the friendship we 'sista's' have developed. When I told Diana about my sleep marathon, I got this back in return:

"Sleep that knits up the ravell'd sleeve of care,
The death of each day's life, sore labour's bath,
Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course,
Chief nourisher in life's feast"
  from Shakespeare's Macbeth

"Black...a Study"
12x16" oil on linen
© V.N.Ross

The Lady's Dark Journey
5x7" oil on linen
©Suzanne Berry

"Shades of Black" Original oil 6"x6"
 ©2013 Diana Moses Botkin

Thursday, August 15, 2013

WHITE. yes, a challenge (MB July 2013)

People ask me frequently why I feel compelled to stay active in this Moses Botkin Challenge. Beyond the "determined to do it" phase because Diana invited me to the first month, the "what in the world am I going to for this one" phase comes into play occasionally. Sometimes they are easy...

WHITE? Suzanne, 'lil Suz was obviously responsible for this topic!

I jokingly told Diana and Suzanne yesterday when we shared our paintings with each other that I considered sending a blank white square for mine. Diana DID just get a white square from me because I accidentally sent a .tif file instead of a .jpg.

As most artists are aware, a "white object" is anything BUT white. Once you start seeing with an artist's eye, you find purple, pink, rich greys...and whatever else color might be reflecting onto your white item. Look at clouds...beyond grey. You'll see peach, pink, purple...sometimes greenish casts and very little white. One of my mentors, the late Ann Templeton, told me that white with a bit of yellow in it reads whiter than straight white in a painting. Joaquin Sorolla was a master of painting white.

And a master of making it look obvious and easy :)

"White Study"
16" x 12" Pastel

Eggs 2
48x36" oil on heavyweight canvas
©Suzanne Berry
"Basic White"
Oil, 8"x6"
©2013 Diana Moses Botkin

Monday, July 15, 2013

"Dusk Flip" #4 in drink series. MB Challenge July 2013

Challenge topic was mine this month. I chose "Egg". Since I'm having so much fun with these obscure cocktail recipes...why not?

I learn so much! Did you know a "Flip" is a cocktail with a whole egg, while a "Fizz" uses only an egg white? Both were more common in days of ore...some even made by inserting a hot fireplace poker into the drink just before serving.

Diane did an amazing pencil drawing of some eggs, while Suzanne blew me away with her huge painting. Great work, team!

The recipe:

  1. 1 large egg
  2. Small pinch of freshly grated nutmeg, for garnish
  3. Ice
  4. 1/2 ounce heavy cream
  5. 2 ounces Irish whiskey
  6. 1/2 ounce Simple Syrup
  7. 3 blackberries, plus 1 blackberry skewered on a pick for garnish
"Dusk Flip"
12" x 16" pastel and gold leaf

Original pencil drawing on paper
approx. 7.5"x9"
©2013 Diana Moses Botkin

"Seeing Double"
48x36"  oil on heavyweight canvas
©Suzanne Berry

Saturday, June 15, 2013

June 2013 MB Challenge

WOW, another month. I'm so proud of me and Diana and Suzanne for sticking with this for so long. It has become an anchor for my painting and I look forward to it!

This month's challenge was from a guest artist, Julie Ford Oliver. "Vintage" played so well into my drink series...

Absinthe was a reputed 'drug' that caused insanity, all the rage in the late 1800s in Paris and in New Orleans. A greenish clear liquid was poured into a special glass, then a slotted flat spoon...silver of course...was laid carefully over the top of the glass. Two sugar cubes next, then water was slowly drizzled over the sugar until the liquid started to turn cloudy. These utensils were very ornate, and I happened on one in the shape of the Eiffel Tower.

so without further ado...

20" x 16" pastel

“Old Hotness”
Oil on Canvas Board 8"x6"

"Old Red"  20x20"  oil on linen
©Suzanne Berry

"Brown Betty"
©2013 Julie Ford Oliver

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

MB challenge May 2013 "Rodent"

Well, I can't whine too much about Rodent (this month's challenge creatively supplied by Diana Moses Botkin) after my March idea of "Ides of March".

I decided to do another in my drink series, and searched high and low for a drink with 'mouse' in it...finally did a wikipedia search for rodent and learned there are all manner of members of the rodent family. Beavers, squirrels, and I stopped there. Found a drink called the "Pink Squirrel" and I was on my way.

cocktail paintings

don't substitute Amaretto because it doesn't have the red color...and you need that for the pink.

The only other issue I had was a business meeting the entire week of the challenge, and the little fact that I have a 300 page 8.5x11" full color book deadline two days ago :) I'm proud of Wicki that she was able to manage everything.

Welcome, Julie, to our merry band of humorous artists!

"Pink Squirrel"
16" x 12", Pastel
© V.N.Ross

"Mr Beaver at Home"
6"x8" Oil on RayMar canvas board
©2013 Julie Ford Oliver

12"x16" Oil on linen
©2013 Suzanne Berry 

“Of Mice and Lego Men"
Oil on hardboard, 5"x7"
©2013 Diana Moses Botkin

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Suzanne Twins update

After 6 weeks, 24/7 (well not quite) of working on Urania Christy Tarbet's book, Dare to Dream, I took an afternoon off to paint. WOW, was afraid it would take longer to get in the groove, but surprisingly it all came back. All I had to do was change my hat!

This painting has a solid grisaille in raw umber. I've pretty much taught myself this process...I think the old masters used more glazing, where I got more opaque around layer 2. This is layer 3...and I was amazed at the difference! I tend to fall in love with each stage and am reluctant to keep working, and THAT is why it has taken so long to complete this painting. Other than a major downsize move that took 3 months and this book project.

WOULD YOU JUST LOOK at the difference? And I was in love with the under version! I can do alla prima skin tones, but sometimes I like the 'slowdown' of doing the grasaille (grey) so I can really enjoy the process of bringing it to life.


The book will be available for sale at IAPS 2013, June 5. It is a compendium of Urania's colorful life as a child, through her art studies as a young mother, her famous ancestors, to her founding of the International Association of Pastel Societies (IAPS) in 1995. Over 50 pastel artists from all over the world have contributed pictures of their art and stories about their personal journey to pastels and memories about IAPS conventions. The art is portrayed full page size so you can really 'see' the methods that are as diverse as the artists' locations and styles. 8 1/2" x 11", full color, 250+ pages. Soft Cover. Will be available through Amazon. Watch for date!

PS: don't tell Urania I leaked the news :)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

April 2013 MB Challenge

We were all running a bit late this month! Looks like the results were worth waiting for...

Suzanne chose the theme this month "Trompe l'Oeil", which is Wicki means "Fool the Eye". I've worked several paintings in this theme. It is really a fun genre. You've probably seen this process in large buildings (like casinos and restaurants) where it looks like you can walk down a hallway, or look through a window at the Tuscan hillside...only to find out it is an illusion.

I loved this little charmer. This is a tumbled marble tile found in kitchen backsplashes. They have such interesting vein effects. I even like the ones with broken and chipped areas because it lends to the antiquity appeal.

"Red Vase in Niche"
4" x 4" oil on marble
©2013 V.N.Ross

"To Do"
10.5"x13", unframed
Oil on Canvas
with painted edges
©2013 Diana Moses Botkin

"That Shirt"
16x20" Oil on Canvas
©2013 Suzanne Berry

Friday, March 15, 2013

March 2013 ALREADY MB Challenge

Note to self: Do NOT choose challenge for the month after an adult beverage of choice!!!!!

Or at least, take more than a few minutes to spout whatever comes into your brain...if you have a WickiBrain, that is. I chose "Ides of March" since it is for March 15. Sounds easy, doesn't it? Well, it wasn't. Our chief Poo-Bah, Diana jumped right in and got hers done early so she could go to Italy...bummer, right?

SO, here it is. A Caesar or Bloody Caesar is a cocktail created and primarily consumed in Canada. It typically contains vodka, Clamato (a proprietary blend of tomato juice and clam broth), hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce, and is served with ice in a large, celery salt-rimmed glass, typically garnished with a stalk of celery and wedge of lime.

It was invented in Calgary, Alberta in 1969 by restaurateur Walter Chell to celebrate the opening of a new Italian restaurant in the city. It quickly became a popular mixed drink within Canada where over 350 million Caesars are consumed annually and it has inspired numerous variants. However, the drink remains virtually unknown outside the country. (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

"Bloody Caesar"
16 x 12" Pastel on sanded board

"Ides of March of the Penguins" 
Pastel on Canson 9"x12"

Storm's Comin'
18x18" oil on canvas
©Suzanne Berry

Saturday, February 16, 2013

February 15, 2013 MB Challenge 'Hat'

Wow! Once a month blog...tearing up the cloud sphere, for sure! Actually I've been acclimating to Twitter. Still haven't 'gotten' it yet.

This month's theme was 'Hat', chosen by Diana Moses Botkin. This little photo came to mind, and I thought I could whip it out. THAT's what I get for thinking...took 3 times longer than anticipated, and after it dries it may get another session. Don't ever think that just because a piece of art is small that it takes much less time. You'd be very wa-wrong. 

Suzanne is taking a short break this month, so it is just Diana and me. We've all gotten so much benefit from the once-a-month schedule that we're reluctant to quit. Some months we've all experienced the challenge being what gets us back in the painting groove...and that, my friends, is the name of the game!

ps: if anyone is interested in a very low key challenge that is always very fresh and fun, get in touch with Diana

"Mimi in the Red Hat"
12x6" Oil on Panel

"Sound in the Ravine" 
Oil sketch 12"x9" 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

January 15, 2013! MB challenge

I can hardly believe it is halfway through January already. Our challenge group started by Diana Moses Botkin still keeps chugging along. The current 3 of us are reluctant to give it up because it provides some semblance of structure to our studio time...and in many cases over the past few years has given us reason to even go into our studio!

This month was my choice, and it is...ta-daaa...Sunlit Space. Thought that sounded bright and happy for good thoughts in the middle of winter.

"Exhibition Hallway Late Afternoon"
12x6" Oil on Panel

Oil on canvas, 6"x6" 
©2013 Suzanne Berry

"Party Balloon"
Original framed oil 8"x6"
©2013 Diana Moses Botkin