Wednesday, December 15, 2010

starting steps

I've had a large group of large blank canvases staring me down since Thanksgiving, but today I found the best way to get started.

step 1: hot chocolate (don't forget whip cream)
step 2: put on favorite Christmas music
.. and that's all it takes

* if possible snow makes everything better!

I've posted the new underpaintings on "currently creating the water that runs through Vermont". I think I need to re-stock my hot chocolate supply before starting on the 4'x5' canvases. There will be many more to come.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

somewhere with elevators

(Mountain View Drive, Colchester VT)

I've been looking for different art groups to join now that I'm living in Vermont and luckily came across the BCA in Burlington that offers many different opportunities for artists as well as other individuals. They connect the arts with the community.This will be my very first time showing somewhere that has elevators (I'm so excited).

I think it's so cool that people will be viewing the paintings while they are going to/leaving work, it's nice to know that your work is out in the world (wherever it may be). I've always felt that it's really important to be open to any kind of opportunity, you never know where they might lead.

The BCA is a wonderful organization and I would definitely recommend looking them up if you're near the Burlington area (and even if your not in the area):

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

there's nothing like a little snow to get you going

I don't know what it is, but there's something about 2 1/2 feet of snow (there might even be more by now) with flurries throughout the day, Christmas music and a roaring fire in the fire place, that makes me want to paint. It's the perfect combination of coziness and beauty that leads to inspiration.

.. and when you're ready for a break, just head outside for a little walk, but remember to bring a snow shovel and some great company.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

How to get there?

New surroundings always spark new inspiration, but getting there is always the challenge. Whenever I find myself with a spare moment (you know, between classes when I'm subbing or just waiting for the last 5 minutes for the cookies to be done) I pick up I'd rather be in the studio, "the artist's no-excuse guide to self-promotion" by Alyson B. Stanfield. Just the other day I found an innovative idea that I think is worth sharing (found in Action 14, Save Money and generate a buzz on a shoestring). It started off with an artist who wanted to take a trip to China but was unable to fund the plane ticket, which led to the idea of selling "shares" of her experience. If she could sell 100 shares (each share was $32) she could pay for her plane ticket. Friends, family and anyone interested could buy a share, which included a stock certificate (thank you note), handmade postcard from the final destination, a small original piece of art inspired by the trip and an invitation to the return party where a slide show of the trip would be shown. In the end, much of the trip was paid for and the connection between the artist and the share holders became an unintended but inspiring performance piece. What a great idea that benefited both the artist and the shareholders. Maybe something to think about in the future.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

doodle joy

There's no better feeling then sitting down and just doodling. It's so relaxing, my own kind of meditation. It just starts with one line (any kind of line) and grows from there. Here's a little doodle of Jay Peak, I'm thinking of making a block print of something like this for a holiday card (you never know where they lead).

Saturday, November 20, 2010

a little white makes you want to paint a lot of colors

This morning the wind was cranked up, snow and pea size hail were flying everywhere, accumulating just enough to cover everything with a shade of white. Being surrounded by all of this white is beautiful and inspiring, but not in the way you'd think. The bright white just makes me want to paint more vibrant colors. It has always amazed me that you can just look at an image and it can create warmth or be so cold that it gives you chills, just through color and subject matter. Maybe at some point I will think about adding a little more white to my canvases (of course accompanied by vibrant colors). One being in the presence of the other may bring out the best in both. What would it take to create an image that gives of neither a warmth or a cooling sensation?

Speaking of color, I'm really trying to add glazes each day to the new Vermont series. I've been posting all of the pictures on a separate page. If you look to the right of this post (under Pages) and click on "Currently Creating Revisiting the Water that Runs through Vermont" you will find it.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

when paintings grow space diminishes

Each day I add a couple of glazes to the new Vermont paintings, beginning with the warmer colors, which I hope will brighten up the paintings once they are completed. It's always good to have a few paintings that are in different levels of completion, that way there is always a painting to work on with a different technique (underpainting, glazing, opaque paint/details, texture) and it mixes things up a bit. I still have three blank canvases that are a bit larger that I'm planning on starting next week, and soon the large canvases will be headed up north (in the back of my parents car) for Thanksgiving, yeah I'm excited.

It is these paintings that have made me realize I need to make room in my studio for everything I will be painting this winter (and all of the paintings from the Costa Rica Series). I have paintings hanging everywhere, in boxes and they have completely taken over my studio. Who knew that paintings could take over spaces so quickly, they just seem to multiply, which sparked the idea for "Making Room in the Studio Sale", going on now with up to 30% off.
All of these paintings need happy new homes where they can liven up a space and take you on a little mini vacation. A great gift for someone you love (it's always good to show yourself a little love too).Two paintings have already sold, so if you are interested e-mail me asap and I will mark the paintings sold. Just go to my website and click on "Making Room in the Studio Sale".

Sunday, November 7, 2010

start small

Whenever I start painting I get really excited and start on all the big canvases, moving my entire arm/body for one stroke of the paint brush, and the little ones... well they come later. Now I'm starting off with 10 smaller than 12"x 12" canvases. Since I don't currently have any large canvases (our stores up here don't seem to offer the larger sizes with good stretcher bars), I'm waiting until Thanksgiving when my parents will be bringing a years supply. I'm putting the same excitement, energy and depth into these smaller paintings. I'm excited to see if they come out differently.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

colored walls?

Usually when you walk into a space that displays art all walls are painted some shade of white so the paintings have a neutral space. I'm not sure what it is but I love paintings on colored walls. When you've got the right color it extends the painting and emphasizes particular colors. When you put a painting on a yellow wall it emphasizes the yellow, on a pink wall the pink stands out ect. Sometimes it just doesn't seem right and some combinations can be just awful, but when you put it on the right color wall you'll know. When you step back and think wow, I've never looked at this painting like this before. It opens up a new way of seeing. Putting a painting on different colored walls may surprise you, it's worth a try.

and what about patterns? I'm all for it!

Friday, October 29, 2010

I wish I could skip everything and just paint...

It seems so easy to just start something new, but the white canvas is still so intimidating even though it may only be 5"x7" (that's smaller than a piece of notebook paper). How could something so small seem so big. After reading a fellow artist's most recent blog that discussed the difficulty of getting back to work after any type of hiatus, really got me to thinking what my procedures are to getting back to work and how close I am to painting.

1. regroup * check

2. what is the series going to be about *check

3. take a few photos just to get going
(plan on doing that tomorrow hopefully there will be some good light)

4. sketch it out on canvas
(so I know I should be making multiple sketches of my composition and subject matter, but I'm not sure what it is that makes me want to go directly to the canvas as soon as I have an idea. I guess I'm not the type for extreme realism or perfection. I would rather have the painting grow into its own, I have no idea what it will look like. When I start I'll only know the finished product when I have it sitting on my easel, I take the first step back and something feels right. It's finished.)

5. paint and paint some more
(this is the part I love)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

all the shows have ended for the summer so I've headed north

I've gone up north again for the winter after a really busy and exciting summer. This year I really tried to get my work out (I like to think that my business cards, postcards and paintings are floating around somewhere new). I really enjoyed all of the shows I was lucky enough to be a part of. It was my first year for many of the outdoor shows and I hope to continue with all of the shows next summer.

Last weekend was so much fun, it was a bit hectic since two shows happened to be on the same weekend, but everything worked out as it always does. Thank you so much to everyone who came by to see the Costa Rica Series at Azura and also those of you who came to Art in the Yard even though it was quite a windy day (but the hot cider was well worth it). Here are just a couple pictures from the Azura show and there are more on my website (also pictures of the Costa Rica paintings completely finished).

Thanks so much Alyssa and Andy @ Azura for exhibiting my Costa Rica paintings for the weekend and Heidi Lowe @ the Heidi Lowe Gallery for inviting me to Art in the Yard. Neither one of the shows would have been possible without you!

But now the leaves are changing and snow has actually fallen in VT (I know it's crazy), so it's time to head north again and look for inspiration for the next series. I actually had lunch at a great little restaurant up here where an artist had many paintings on display that I really liked. So I grabbed the little artist packet to read a little more about the artist. She paints at least one small painting every day so that she can achieve a looser style. Which got me thinking how much fun it would be to paint a large group of small paintings, maybe not hundreds but a good amount (of course I have to paint large as well). I guess I'll just have to see, but right now I'm thinking small in a big way.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Solo Show @ Azura (it's always best to have a deadline)

I know I've been slacking a bit on the blogging, but I do have a good excuse. I've been preparing for a show of the Costa Rica Series, I can't believe it. Today I'm finishing up painting the sides (after long consideration I've decided that I like the sides painted, I know I've written painted sides vs. plain sides before so I won't go there) needless to say all the paintings will be finished tomorrow with painted sides. This series has taken me all summer and then some to complete, I'm not sure if it was the sizes (my largest to date 4'x7' along with many 5' and 4' canvases), or just the calmness that comes along with warm weather and living near the beach, but at least now I can say they are only hours away from being finished pieces!

I think the show will be awesome! Alyssa and Andy have been kind enough to invite me to show my work at their very unique and stylish clothing store Azura in Rehoboth Beach, De (they have clothes that are very different, artsy, fun and beautiful). It'll be Jazz Festival weekend and they will be having a "Pick Your Poison Sale", as well as a Jewelry Trunk Show featuring Jessica Sibinski. Clothes, Jewelry and Paintings, what could be better?

I have around 11 paintings, and since many of the paintings are quite large we are going to have to get very creative with the display, we have a lot in mind so you'll just have to come by and check it out for yourself.

( just a detail from one of the paintings, you'll have to come by to see the whole painting)

Solo Show, The Costa Rica Series
October 14-17
Artist wine Reception 5-8pm, Friday October 15

Azura Clothing Co.
139 Rehoboth Ave.
Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971

Friday, September 17, 2010

Brandywine Festival of The Arts

(the first day was incredibly beautiful and just perfect!)

It was my first year as an artist at this show and I'm so glad I was able to attend. The atmosphere was great with the Brandywine River in the background, live music playing and a variety of food and drinks. I think this is the largest show I've been to. Thank you everyone who came by my tent! I really enjoyed talking to everyone who stopped by, it makes all of the work worth it, you really made my day! It was also really great to meet all of the young aspiring artists (definitely keep pursuing your dream), and veterans of the show that gave me a lot of great advise.

There was one artist at the show in particular, Renee Benson, who's work is very beautiful, vibrant and playful. The colors really drew me in when I saw them from across the field.

(a detail of a painting by Renee Benson)

I think that it is the combination of artists sharing their work and individuals sharing their ideas that make these outdoor shows so inspiring and exciting. It sure got me pumped, I began working on my new series as soon as I got home.

(the second day was a bit rainy, but then stopped around 10 and I was able to change up the paintings)

Oh, yeah... and if you were wondering about the wearable art here it is, buttons !

A new way to collect art!

Friday, September 3, 2010


just a little sneak peak
(one of my Dad's photos)

There's nothing like the smell of pine trees, the sound of running water and the variety of vivid greens to get you going. I've been in Vermont for this last week and it has been just beautiful. My Dad and I have been walking around with our cameras, because every which way you look there's a picturesque scene. Even though I'm not quite done with the Costa Rica series, I can't help but think about the next series of paintings, waterfalls. There's something about the water that is so soothing to me, I want to paint the water the way that it sounds.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Robert Straight at Schmidt Dean

There's something to be said when just an e-mail can inspire you. When I was at the University of Delaware I had many great professors, but there was definitely one who always stood out, through encouragement and new ideas. I received an e-mail just the other day from this professor, who wanted to let me know of an interview they had on youtube. It is so great to hear someone talk about their work, especially when it is an artist as well as their work that you truly admire. Sadly I was never able to see the actual show, but I watched the interview and it was insightful and great to see the individual pieces! I think these paintings are amazing. Check it out.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

see things in a new way

There are so many moments that are often overlooked, but when you're in a new place every detail stands out, it's wonderful. I just returned from a trip to southern Utah, a landscape that consists of vivid colors, interesting shapes and an indescribable energy that brings everything to life. Rock formations are larger than skyscrapers and the clouds are so immense that they take over the bright blue sky. Every time I looked I wanted to pull out my paints, brushes and a few canvas to paint each moment. These kinds of trips help me to remember to be aware of my surroundings and every detail.

The rock formations in Zion National Park are incredible, if you haven't seen them before it is definitely a trip to put on your calender.

While in Zion we walked around a few galleries and there were these amazing sculptures by Lyman Whitaker. They are organic forms that live seamlessly within nature and become alive with a breath of wind.
The beauty and power of this landscape inspires many, it is an incredible place.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Back Porch Cafe Show

You never know what will happen next. I was surprised by an e-mail in May, not even thinking I would have enough paintings to fill three rooms, and what an amazing experience it turned out to be. The Back Porch Cafe has it all, amazing food, great ambiance and kind wonderful people. I am so happy that I was given this opportunity, and thank you everyone at the Back Porch, I will always remember it! Thank you also to everyone who went to see the show. Just in case, here's a couple pictures from the Water Ties, the show at the Back Porch Cafe.

if you haven't eaten here, definitely do so! You can check it out

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A new way to organize

When I left Vermont I packed all of my paints in an old shoe box (I thought it was a grand idea), but now that I'm painting each day it takes a while to find a specific color. It's like when you loose one sock after doing laundry, where could it possibly go in such a small space? So I decided that I would organize my paints by grouping and dividing them in plastic baggies. So far it's working out great! I love being able to find the exact color I need within seconds.

and on another note: I can't believe it, but I'm taking down the Back Porch Show tomorrow. It was a wonderful experience. Thanks to everyone who went to see it!

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Always Open Exhibition

It's amazing, there are so many different ways to exhibit and view art. There are countless artists online trying to get their work out there, and I'm one of them. It has only been within the last year that I've began looking for a virtual place to display my art, and I've found many online art shows. How cool is it that I can exhibit my work with other artists from around the country or world, into one space that anyone can look at, at any time (no open 9-5 or closed signs). It is a place to share ideas and inspiration. The most recent online show where my work is displayed is the Upstream People Gallery's 12th Annual Landscape Juried Online International Art Exhibition, where a variety of techniques and ideas about landscapes are shown. Each day I look at other artists work, it helps me to define my own work and ideas, while gaining knowledge of other artists perspectives. I particularly like the photographs of William Haubert that display interesting patterns and shapes as well as incredibly vivid colors. Check it out for yourself:

Monday, July 5, 2010

44th Annual St. Peter's Art Show

It was my first time at the St. Peter's Show, the weather was beautiful (not as hot as usual) and I had a great time. It was wonderful meeting new people as well as seeing everyone who follows my work, thanks for coming! It is always exciting to explain the stories behind each painting and series, I love it.

We began setting up around 6 a.m. and I guess I wasn't too awake then. I accidentally mixed up two of the canvases on the triptych, whoops (the two tall canvases should have been switched).

I usually like to plan out my display so that I know all the paintings will work together, and the different sizes will fit. Here's the set up from inside the house ( it's like my own personal gallery in the kitchen of my parent's house).

Monday, June 28, 2010

I'm a believer!

After watching Elizabeth Gilbert's lecture I've become more and more aware of my own creativity and inspiration. Around 9:30 the other night after painting for an hour or so, a wave of energy entered through my hand and exited through a palette knife with paint over the sky of my painting. There really are no words to describe it when things are going right and no thought is needed. It is an effortless motion in a true moment. At 1:45 am I looked up at the clock in amazement, hours had gone by which had only felt like minutes and a tremendous amount of thick patterned paint enveloped my painting. Maybe my muse or genius stopped by for an after dinner visit, and it was wonderful.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Creativity, "being" a genius or "having" a genius

After lunch when it's time for a quick break, I like to look at a few websites that have interesting artwork and ideas for a daily update. I came across this talk on, by Elizabeth Gilbert on It is intriguing, entertaining, and inspiring. A different take on the artist and their creative power, if it is theirs. It will definitely keep you going, no matter what happens with or in your own work.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

make art for everyone!

I make art to express myself, but also to share it with others. Once completed I would love for my images to make contact with everyone and anyone willing to look. I want it to be accessible so that individuals can see the beauty that I see in the environment, the surrounding landscape/seascape and the creatures within it.

I have decided to work with a website where individuals can order giclees, prints and cards of my paintings, in order to make my art more accessible to interested individuals. I think that it is important to surround yourself with images that you find inspiring and beautiful.

on my website & blog: purchase prints

Sunday, June 20, 2010

a sneak peak

Since the last post consisted of the news article for the Back Porch Cafe show, I thought I would post a preview of the show (this is just part of one room, and there's more!). I hope you enjoy it and see it in person. Here's a sneak peak.

After having the majority of my paintings out of the house I realized I needed to create more.I'm starting a new series inspired by a trip to Nosara, Costa Rica. I'm trying to document the entire process, and post the images (under Summer 2010 currently creating, on the right). It's been so beautiful I've been able to paint outside, which I think is the best atmosphere to create.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Article in the Cape Gazette

Lewes Artist to Exhibit at Back Porch Cafe

“Water Ties” series explores natural beauty

REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. – Lewes artist Leah Van Rees will exhibit her painting series, “Water Ties”, at the Back Porch Café in Rehoboth Beach until July 14. Using bright colors and a unique technique, Van Rees’ latest series was inspired by bodies of water in Vermont, California, Maine, Utah, Delaware and Barbados.“While my friends surf or swim, I sit on the beach and paint,” Van Rees said. “Oceans and rivers never stand still and I like to capture the fleeting moments water creates. Some people have said that I paint like a water nymph, but the rhythm of the water can be very beautiful. Basically, I paint what I like and hope that others like it too.” Van Rees was one of the first graduates from the Jefferson School in Georgetown and graduated from Cape Henlopen High School in 2005. Van Rees got her bachelor of fine arts degree, minor in art history, from the University of Delaware in spring 2009. She is a recipient of the Lucille McGee award at the Rehoboth Art League, and the Eugene F. and Catherine Melk and WHYY art awards from the University of Delaware. Recently, Van Rees’ work was published in Studio Visit magazine, which juries artists as a condition for publication. Leo Medisch, art curator for Back Porch Café, selected Van Rees as part of the restaurant’s summer art series.“I particularly like her color choices and I like that it’s marine and sea inspired.” he said. “Plus, they look great in a restaurant.” Back Porch Café is a fine dining restaurant in downtown Rehoboth Beach at 59 Rehoboth Ave. The restaurant, now in its 36th season, is open daily from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. for lunch and Sunday brunch and re-opens from 6-10 p.m. for dinner. On July 3, Van Rees will be in the St. Peter’s Art Show in downtown Lewes. For more information on her work, visit

a few other sites that have articles about the show:

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Counting Colors

So I've been thinking about it, and if someone ever asked me "how many colors do you use?" or "what order and specific colors do you use?" I don't think I could answer. I think as an artist, and the creator of my own work I should know. It seems weird, but with all of my experience if I put say a yellow down first, then a blue the color of the two glazes is different then if I put that same blue down first, then the yellow. Glazing doesn't seem to be much like mixing, what I had expected when first getting into glazing with oils. It is a unique technique with endless opportunities. With this new series of paintings I'm going to write down every color I use and the sequence they were used in. Just so I stay on track:
underpainting-phalo blue
1st glaze-cadmium yellow lemon
2nd glaze-cadmium yellow deep
3rd glaze-gold ocre

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Underpainting Importance

It looks like a few sketchy lines and sometime may resemble something recognizable, but it is the backbone of a painting. An underpainting allows the artist to sketch an overall composition on a blank canvas and rework the image to a desired state.Underpaintings are usually created with a single color. I like to either use a brown or a blue, depending on the colors I will be using later on, in the piece. I mix my paints with turpentine, so that the paint becomes thinner making it easier to work and easy to erase, while also allowing it to dry in an hour or so. In the past I believed in well rendered underpaintings, but now I like to minimize my underpainting and begin glazing, which makes the colors pop more, but also allows for depth in the painting. When a glaze is painted over a dark underpainting, less light is able to reflect off the canvas and the paint particles, but when the canvas is left white more light reflects, creating brighter colors.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Procrastinate no longer

I think I'm ready to start a new series so I get all of my paints out, grab my palette and place the new canvas on my easel.I don't know if it's just me but I'm horrible at cleaning off my palette after painting. It looks like a Jackson Pollock painting (above, Convergence 1952) without the movement and color choice, there is no empty space where I can mix colors.It is this little detail that makes me procrastinate.

Between that and a 5'x4' blank white canvas starring at me, it can be some what intimidating trying to get started.I walk into my studio, look at all my canvases and think well, maybe I should plan a little more, get started tomorrow. But it's time to pull it together and start with just one mark, because that is all it takes to get rolling, and I'll clean my palette tomorrow.