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.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

State of the Art, 2013

(left) "New Place"
Oil, 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, 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.

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, 20"x16" 
©2013 Diana Moses Botkin

The three 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 during my trip to Kona 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.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Moses Botkin Challenge for November: Shellfish

Original oil painting
on hardboard, 4"x6"
©2013 Diana Moses Botkin

Suzanne chose our subject this month and I must admit: I was not pleased. This turned out to be rather fun, however, and it definitely was not something I would have chosen to paint, otherwise.

The tropical color combination in this little painting was especially enjoyable to work with. The pink shrimp reminded me of a flower, set against those green lettuce leaves and that bright cobalt blue plate.

Which was a lot more pleasant to think about than a headless crustacean with a few salad greens.

Did you know shellfish are not fish at all? They are actually more closely related to insects.

I hope you enjoy each of our studies this month. It's interesting that each of us picked a different critter to paint.

(left) "Moody"
Oil on linen, 16"x16"
©2013 Suzanne Berry 

None of us reveal our plan for our Challenge painting ahead of time, although we all know what the subject is. It's quite fun to see what each of us has created, month by month, to meet the goal of the particular puzzler.
We send our paintings to each other the day before we post them on our blogs and it always makes my day.

"Pick Me...Not!"
Encaustic, 7.5" x 7.5" 
©2013 V. N. Ross 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Ballet Class Memories and a New Reproduction

"Pointe Shoes
on Black Satin" Oil
©2009 Diana Moses Botkin

This morning I was busting up some firewood for kindling. One of the fir pieces had a lot of rosin, which makes for a very useful fire-starter.

Whenever I see or smell rosin, it always brings back pleasant memories of ballet class. We used the stuff on the ends of our pointe shoes (I still have this old pair) to discourage slippage on wood floors. It's quite handy. I remember, even now, the feeling of breaking up a chunk of it in the rosin box with the toe of my shoe.

So, I thought I'd share this painting again, which has a home with a favorite collector. Reproductions are available now, however. This image is the newest addition to my online print gallery of still life art.

You can order here in a variety of sizes, on canvas or art paper. Framing is also available, which is especially nice this time of year for gift needs.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

PVA Horror Tale

Although most of my paintings are done on prepared hardboard panels, or occasionally, canvas or linen on panel, I have used stretched canvas or linen a number of times.

Especially for larger works where the weight of thicker hardboard can be significant, fabric support has advantages. One of my largest early paintings, an abstract about 5 feet by 5 feet, is on stretched canvas. I can easily hang it on the wall myself. This would definitely not be the case with a painting on hardboard that size. And I've never found hardboard available that big anywhere.

Stretched canvas has its inherent problems, however. The most significant is that it stresses the paint layer because it changes with humidity more than a rigid support. Additionally, the traditional practice of sizing the fabric with rabbit skin glue, before laying on an oil ground, adds to the problem because the skin glue is easily affected by moisture in the air which also contributes to movement and subsequent paint cracking. Some kind of sizing is important, however, because using oil paints directly on fabric will rot the support.

Now skin glue is a pain to use, especially with linen (which can sometimes be temperamental and unpredictable, even after it is washed). I've always had to restretch linen after applying the skin glue sizing, which is an unwelcome step, especially nowadays when my hands are not what they used to be for strength and reliability. Overuse and arthritis are taking their toll.

Because I read that it is archivally superior to rabbit skin glue, I purchased a bottle of PVA sizing awhile back. The stuff is recommended by the National Gallery.

I've been using mostly hardboard panels for painting supports for several years, but this week I had occasion to use the PVA size, as I wanted a larger painting for a project. 

I had a few pieces of nice linen on hand and have used some of the same stuff through the years (with the skin glue). After doing a beautiful stretching job with the linen, I applied an undiluted coat of PVA to the stretched fabric, as per the directions on the bottle.

What a nightmare. After the PVA size dried, the linen was no longer tight. It was noticeably lax and had no bounce at all. With only a slight touch, the fabric was significantly moveable rather than being taut. (See photo, at left. I'm holding the canvas upright outside on the concrete and pushing slightly on the underside.) Adding paint on a lax support like this would be a comedy of errors.

I was unable to find any information online for using PVA sizing. Nor did I read of any problems others had encountered. So, I emailed the manufacturer. The sympathetic product manager answered my note promptly and informed me that the wording of the directions have been changed since I purchased my bottle. It is recommended to apply the product before stretching the fabric. Okay, bummer. I'll have to restretch it.

So I thought I would have another go at it, and applied the PVA to another piece of linen, this time before I stretched it.

After stretching it, the fabric was tight and smooth. This is not a complicated skill and I have done a lot of canvas stretching over the years with nice results. I'm still good at this even with my aging hands.

The result didn't feel right, though. Instead of having a desired bounce in the stretched fabric, it felt dead. Apparently the PVA destroys the "spring" of linen.

I wondered what would happen if I added water to it. This was a huge mistake.

When the fabric dried, it had expanded rather than contracted. And not just a little bit. Not only did it not have bounce, it was moveable by over an inch either way, front and back.

(See last two photos.)

The result was a complete failure. No way is this usable. I'm definitely regretting spending all that time on these two horrible canvases.

I will probably try using the PVA on cotton canvas to see how it behaves. I am guessing it will be less of a problem then the linen fabric. Or, I'm thinking I will simply stick to using primed hardboard panels for painting support, or fabric applied to panels.

For really large paintings, I can simply use an acrylic primer on canvas which I've done plenty of times. Acrylic has some disadvantages, but at least it doesn't kill the spring of the fabric like the PVA apparently does.

I would love to hear if other artists use the PVA for stretched canvas or linen, and results.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Two Charcoal Sketches

This lovely young lady, with her classic look, was the perfect model for these two little practice drawings.

I'm testing out some art materials again for a company and have sent them my comments on the charcoal pencils I tried out this time.

I'll tell you more about them at a future date. Until then, I hope you'll enjoy these sketches.

(top left image)
"Solo Smile" 11"x8.5"
Charcoal and chalk pencils on rust Canson
©2013 Diana Moses Botkin


(lower left image)
"Moment" 10"x7"
Charcoal and chalk pencils on rust Canson
©2013 Diana Moses Botkin

Please contact me for purchase information. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

October Challenge: Paint with a Palette Knife

Our painting puzzler this month is courtesy of Vicki. She chose for us to paint something using a palette knife. This is a first for me.

I've used the tool plenty of times to spread paint in large areas such as skies or fields, or to mix colours on my palette. But to do an entire painting with one? I've never even tried that before. 

I must say I was dreading this Challenge, as I was not at all confident that I could make anything look good without using my paint brushes. Much to my surprise it went pretty well for what I wanted to do, or at least mostly. I confess I used my finger a few times on that cloud edge! But the rest of the painting I managed to do with the knife.

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

It did feel rather clunky to paint with the knife, and I missed my brushes more than once. However, I had a lot of fun with this exercise, which is one of our goals for the Challenge. That's worth a lot.

Please enjoy Vicki and Suzanne's knife paintings for our Challenge this month! 

(image at left)
Oil on paper, 7.5" x 7.5"
©2013 Vicki N. Ross

(lower left image)
"Flower of the Sun"
Oil on canvas,12"x12"
©2013 Suzanne Berry

Monday, October 7, 2013

Scotchman Peaks Plein Air Event, and a First Place!

(left) "Morning Smoke" Oil, 9"x10"
©2013 Diana Moses Botkin

The Lord gave us lovely painting weather for the weekend paint out: Indian summer conditions. It had been raining for the previous two weeks and had turned cold.
Mornings this past weekend for the plein air event were quite cold, and I was glad I had packed along a coat, hat, gloves, and my UGGs.

(left) "Evening at the Flats"
Oil, 6"x12"
©2013 Diana Moses Botkin

Not all the pieces I started were keepers, but I did bring these four  to a good conclusion without feeling like I'd overworked them.

(left) "Morning Chatter" Oil, 4"x8"
©2013 Diana Moses Botkin

I enjoy the plein air events for the cameraderie with other artists, and for the unique painting challenges of capturing a scene on location.

It is always amazing and inspiring to see the work each of the artists do in such a short time for a plein air paint out. With all the wonderful paintings hung for the show yesterday, I was especially pleased that one of my pieces was awarded the top prize (the first painting shown in this post, at the top).

And three of these four sold right away at the Opening at Out Skirts Gallery. Yay for good homes for these paintings!

(last image) "Evening Tracks" Oil, 6"x6" ©2013 Diana Moses Botkin

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Testing and Practice, Too

(left) "Sway" 8.5"x11"
Pastel on Canson paper
©2013 Diana Moses Botkin

Here is another little sketch using the few sticks of colour that I'm evaluating for the art materials manufacturer. This was drawn with white, black, grey, brown, and earth red (like that last drawing I posted).

Since these are student grade pastels, they work a little differently than what I'm used to with my professional brands. However, they do work, and it's fun and interesting to try to get some practice drawings done while testing the sticks.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Testing Materials

I've been asked to try out some new art materials for a company and evaluate them. It's been interesting comparing the new stuff with my usual tried and true brands I've used in the past.

Sometimes it takes awhile to get a feel for new materials, so I'm still sizing them up. This little sketch was done with just a few colors: white, black, grey, brown, and earth red. I'll tell you more about it in a month or so, but for now I'll just say that it's an honor to be recruited for such a task.

(left) "Inclination" 11"x8.5" Pastel on grey paper
©2013 Diana Moses Botkin 

Monday, September 30, 2013

"Back Highlights" Pastel Sketch

This is a recent practice sketch.

(left) "Back Highlights" 8.5" x 11"
Pastel on Canson paper, unframed
©2013 Diana Moses Botkin 

Monday, September 23, 2013

My Article on Commissions

My latest write-up can now be seen on page 70 in the October/November issue of Professional Artist Magazine. The Basics of Creating Successful Commissions gives info on getting jobs, how to charge for your work, and the commission process itself. I also touch on how to handle changes and other snafus.

Speaking of commissions, I'm currently working on a project that involves 3 pieces. I can't wait to tell you about it but it will be awhile longer until I can!

I've also been asked to create two paintings for Christmas gifts. If you've been thinking of ordering a special piece for someone, please contact me a few months ahead of your deadline. I can put your project in the line-up. Depending on size, Christmas gifts are still a possibility.

This little painting at left is one of my favorite commission pieces I've done.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

"Twilight at the Creek" Water Reflections

Original oil, 9"x12"
©2013 Diana Moses Botkin 


This is one of my summer studies: a little duck swimming in the creek by a topsy-turvy town.

Please contact me for purchase information.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Three Paintings Headed to The MAC

(left) “Evening Highlights”
Oil 7.5"x13"
©2012 Diana Moses Botkin

I've heard favorable reports about the prestigious MAC show from artists in past years. I'm  happy to report that these paintings have been juried in the show, and headed to the Museum of Arts and Culture in Spokane.

(middle painting) 
“Blues and Greens”
Oil 7"x14"
©2012 Diana Moses Botkin

(lower left)
"Lauren Reclining on Elbow"
Oil 9"x12"
©2009 Diana Moses Botkin

The exhibit of accepted work will hang at the museum through October. All the art will be transported to the Davenport Hotel in Spokane for a black tie gala auction, held November 9.

Last year's catalog boasted paintings by a number of artists whose work I admire such as Del Gish and Jim Wilcox. I'm honored to have my paintings hang in such talented company!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

"Black" is the Moses Botkin Challenge for September

(left) "Shades of Black" 6"x6" Oil
©2013 Diana Moses Botkin


Perhaps you may remember that last month's Challenge was "White". It was my turn to choose our subject for this month, so it seemed an obvious choice to follow with "Black".

Black would seem to be a simple subject to paint, but it proved to be challenging indeed to find just the right visual idea. I have plenty of black clothes in my closet and I drink black coffee every day. Those were some of my first thoughts on the subject.

Several more ideas presented themselves to me in these past weeks but they either required a model or more time than I had to find what was needed. Since I'd been gone for a two week painting trip I needed to choose something workable.

Just in time, I remembered some pictures I'd taken of one of our cats in the snow a few years ago. He, being black, made quite a contrast with the white stuff, even in the soft overcast light of that day.

I have fond memories of this cat which we named "Diesel", as he had a very loud purr. My little painting of him was fun to create with that simple black shape, the fur and whisker effects, and those liquid green eyes. 

Vicki and Suzanne did some stellar paintings for this month's Challenge, even though I heard from both that they thought this was more difficult than last month's subject of "White".

It seemed harder to me also, but since one of our goals for this monthly exercise to challenge ourselves, it definitely served the purpose.

I hope you will enjoy all our efforts to paint something "Black"!

(top left) "The Lady's Dark Journey"
5x7" Oil on linen
©2013 Suzanne Berry

(lower left) "Black...a Study"
12x16" Oil on linen
©2013 Vicki N. Ross 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

On Location in the Columbia Gorge

I've been on the road again, attending a plein air event in Hood River, Oregon. I was pleased to be juried in again this year for the Pacific Northwest Plein Air paint out and show. 

Some of us chipped in for a model this year at the garden location, which a fun challenge. I enjoyed painting the young lady who posed for us with her pink umbrella. (Photo at left, courtesy Dave Burback).

The Gorge is such an amazing and challenging place to paint. This is my third year to participate and I always enjoy the cameraderie with the other artists.

Since most of us work in solitude much of the time, it is nice to paint alongside each other at these events. I also really love seeing what everyone chooses to portray and the different approaches to a specific scene.

Here I am (left) with three of my paintings at the Opening last week. The top painting shows Mt. Hood but you can't see it in the photo, as the spotlight is very bright on it. (A better image is below.)

That painting in the black frame was painted at a very windy overlook of the Columbia River. At one point, I had gone to my car for something and my plein air pochade blew over. (There is a good reason that the area is one of the top spots in the world for wind surfing!) My set-up went sideways, and the painting fell butter side down on the grass. Thankfully, as the paint dried the next day I was able to remove the grass fragments.

(left) "Verdant Valley"
8"x12" Oil on hardboard 
©2013 Diana Moses Botkin 

Mt. Hood is one of my favorite scenes to portray. The spectacle of that graceful form rising from the landscape never ceases to inspire!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Plein Air Painting at Smith Rock

Here are two of the plein air paintings I did at Smith Rock, while I was traveling in July.

I have a few more pieces which I started, but I'm still looking at them to see if they need something. Some definitely do.

"Afternoon Light on Wombat"
8"x10" Oil on Raymar panel
©2013 Diana Moses Botkin

Smith Rock, in central Oregon, is a very interesting place to paint, hike, or rock climb. I saw many climbers during my days at the park. Without exception they were a lean and fit group and many would make fascinating models for figurative studies.

I talked to several and one showed me a handy guide book of the area. I was very interested to learn that all the rock formations have names such as "Wombat", "Koala", "Monkey Face", "Kangaroo", and "Asterisk" (which indeed looks very much like an asterisk silhouetted against the evening sky).

The climbs also are named with phrases that might serve to warn neophytes to stay on the ground. Such routes as "Slit Your Wrist", "Time's Up", "Skeleton Surfer", "Ghost Rider", "Toxic", "Highway to Hell", "Suicidal Tendencies", and "Scene of the Crime" sound like places to avoid if you ask me.

(left) "Betty's Needle, Afternoon"
6"x6" Oil on hardboard
©2013 Diana Moses Botkin

The first two days I was there, the sky was clear and very blue, and the light was intense. There were clouds on following days and some hours of the day were lit very differently from the sunny days. My paintings I had started on those bright days were especially challenging to finish. I worked on a number of pieces, changing to different paintings as the light changed during the day.

The weather was cold in the morning and evening, and hot and dry during the sunny hours, typical of that high desert area in summer. I was thankful to not encounter any rattlesnakes while I was painting or hiking.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Still Life with Apricots

I set this still life up after I got home from the workshop for a little practice.

On our place we have a couple of apricot trees and for the past few years, spring frosts have ruined any chance of fruit.

However, this year, there were a few branches on one tree that were not spoiled and we actually had apricots.

So I brought the harvest in the house and used a branch with apricots for this painting idea, along with a few crabapples and flowering mint from my garden.

As I blocked in the shapes (above), I saw that the many elements I'd included gave the piece a busier feeling than what I'd originally wanted.

So I changed my drape to shield the light a little. That way, more of the objects were in shadow, which gave those luscious apricots in the old amber glass bottle the spotlight.
(above) "Summer Gifts" Original oil, 9"x12" ©2013 Diana Moses Botkin