Bird & Sunrise photo

Bird & Sunrise photo
Because "someday" is today!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Here I Go a-Caroling...


Merry Christmas!  I had a vision of sending a video Christmas card this year.  That was the easy part, next came the work of learning how to actually make a song in Garageband.  Several hours of reading "Garageband For Dummies" later...I put together my first attempt.  Oh, boy, I am so grateful I could re-record my voice and guitar until I was reasonably happy.  Meanwhile, I am learning how to run the video recorder and trying to get a night that isn't dumping snow to go to the Christmas Market downtown.  Jeff taught me the basics of iMovie,  hurrah for Jeff.   I am so happy to see it finally all come together and hope you enjoy it.  PS. I haven't abandoned painting, I do have a Christmas kitten painting in process to share soon.  

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


8"x 10" oil on "Gessobord" copyright 2012 Tina M. Welter
"Journey" 8"x 10"oil on "Gessobord"c.2012 TMW
This painting is a something I haven't attempted in a long time...a landscape.  Some of the first paintings I attempted years ago in watercolor were landscapes and I felt they were not successful.  I tried a few more here and there over the years, but resigned myself that I was just not a landscape painter.  I am happy to say that after a year of focusing on my painting that I am finally satisfied with one of my landscapes.

"Journey" represents to me how the unknown lies before us and even with family or friends, inevitably we still have to face our fears and anxieties alone.  Moving to a country where I don't speak the language, trying to figure out my artistic voice, losing my father to cancer three months ago– I have felt the intensity of panic, negative beliefs about myself, and just plain uncertainty about everything.  The most relief I have experienced was when I could give myself some approval, reassure myself that we will have enough.

With Skype, I shared this painting with my sweet Mom.  She thought I should have painted two swans...I don't disagree.  Every journey IS better when shared with someone else, and I am so grateful I have Jeff to share with, but I couldn't change it.  Each of our experiences are so unique.  Heading out under the bridge into larger water, means something different to everyone.  My swan swims alone.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Inspiration Quest

7" x 5"oil on "Gessobord" copyright Tina M. Welter
"Rock and Roll" 7"x 5" oil on "Gessobord" c. 2012
I am always on the hunt for any sculptures to inspire a painting here in Vienna.  Sometimes an idea is obvious, often it doesn't occur to me until much later when I am looking at the photos on my computer. 

My Inspiration photo from Vienna.
Lady with a lyre, my inspiration.
This last subject falls exactly into that category.  Jeff actually pointed out "that great light" that was on those sculptures, and so I got off the tram and took a few photos, not really feeling particularly inspired other than by the lovely lighting.

I had planned to post the finished painting today, but a miserable cold kept me completely down for the last four days!  Catching a cold in the summer should be illegal.  I decided to at least give you the photo of the inspiration.  I had an idea to give this musician an update.   Hopefully, I will be able to show it to you next week.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Keeper

7" x 5" oil on "Gessobord" copyright  2012 Tina M. Welter
"The Keeper" 7"x 5" oil on "Gessobord" c. 2012

Soccer is a really big deal here in Europe.  Where ever there is a little open space,  you will see many people playing soccer informally here.   Being next to the Donau Park, we can see several games going on simultaneously.   One of my favorite teams was a group of Orthodox Jewish boys playing the game complete with black hats and prayer shawls flying. 

On one of our photographic expeditions,  I found the best goalkeeper of all.  I can only imagine the lively game that ended with this result.  Yes, there was a little open plaza in front of this church in a block thick with buildings.

I used the same palette of colors that I used in the painting "Wait for it", but I leaned more to the warm tones and added some Burnt Umber to the mix.  I am always amazed at how much you can do with basically red, (Alizarin crimson) yellow (Ocher), blue (Manganese) and some black and white.

No Soccer players yet...

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Simplify and Focus.

photo credit- Jeff Welter
St. Stephan's Cathedral - photo by Jeff Welter
At the very center of Vienna is the St. Stephan's Cathedral.  Construction for this church began in the 1300's, but it sits on the site of two even older structures built for worship.  Before the Christians, it was the site of a pagan Roman temple.  Some of the oldest remains can be seen underground in the U-Bahn station nearby. 

7" x 5" oil on "Gessobord copyright 2012 Tina M. Welter
"Wait for It" 7" x 5" oil on "Gessobord" c. 2012
Walking around this intricate Gothic style church, it was hard to get a decent picture because it is so large and there is so much detail.  I did like the Gargoyle dog waterspouts and I took a few pictures because I thought I could see a few pigeons perched way up there on those stone dogs.

I was so delighted when I got home where I could enlarge the photos on the computer and found some fun images.  It pays when there is too much detail to simplify!   Even with a very limited close-up view, it still took quite a bit of time for me to get those details right.   I chose a simple palette for this painting: Manganese blue, Yellow Ochre, and    Alizarin Crimson--plus black and white.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Trying to Capture a Mermaid

5"x 7" oil on "Gessobord" copyright 2012 Tina M. Welter
"Mermaid" 5"x 7"oil on "Gessobord" c. 2012 TMW
 I optimistically thought it would only take me a week to finish my second attempt at the Mermaid.  She wasn't so easy to catch.

 After looking at the palette choices for the first painting, I felt the ultramarine blue was just too cold.  I did some more exploring and mixing and found that the manganese blue mixed with yellow ocher made the nicest warm green I was looking for.  You  can see the new palette with my favorite mixes circled.  That was the fun easy part.

Manganese blue, Burnt Sienna, Yellow Ochre & Alizarin Crimson
Burnt Sienna, Manganese Blue, Yellow Ochre & Alizarin Crimson.
I really struggled with getting the balance of the colors on the Mermaid and the background and the face in the shadows to all work together.  I repainted things several times, lots of layers.  Something that looked good one day didn't the next.  Also my lack of experience with painting people, I redid eyes and lips, I don't know how many times.  I wanted her to look more alive than the original statue, but also still otherworldly.

 Overall, I think the painting works and I am ready to call it a tie.  I agree with the old sailors, beware of mermaids, they are tricky creatures!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Try and Try Again

First color choices.
First palette color choices for "Mermaid"
I decided to focus on the wonderful sculpture that is everywhere here in Vienna as my next painting subjects. After painting my self-portrait, I realized I could use some time on the human figure. I tend to avoid painting people, but I think it is time I face some of that fear. At least sculptures can sit for you for hours.

My first subject that interested me was a fountain I took a picture of at night. Challenging to paint the human face with the light source coming from beneath it, but I liked the eerie, unusual feeling that I think is appropriate for a mermaid.

Vertical 7" x 5" oil on "Gessobord" copyright 2012 Tina M. Welter
"Mermaid" first try...
My first attempt was pretty good on color and light, but I didn't like the composition. Too much dark, empty space on the bottom of the painting. I realized after I got the basic color in place that I was going to have to start over again. Sigh. I am glad that the second try as a horizontal painting already looks better, even in the grey under-painting stage. Now, if I can keep from getting too "busy" with the background...continued next week.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Seven Swans a Swimming...

5"x 7" oil on "Gessobord" copyright 2012 Tina M. Welter
"Encounter" 5"x 7" oil on "Gessobord" c. 2012 TMW
This view only shows the central portion built in 1675.

The swans love to swim here.I have reached my goal of six swan paintings, plus one! I am pleased to have succeeded and I feel like the paintings have been improving each time.

My favorite part of this painting is the interaction between the swans. Relationships keep life interesting, happy and sometimes frustrating.

I feel that way with painting. I used the same palette choices as "Island of Calm", but this painting still has it's own unique look. Part of the fear and fun of painting is not knowing exactly what the result of your choices will be. It does take determination to keep moving forward when a painting appears to be a failure. I don't like that part, but like any relationship, I try to trust that it is just part of the growing process.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Beauty of Repetition

7"x 5" oil on "Gessobord" copyright 2012, Tina M. Welter
"Promenade" 7"x 5" oil on "Gessobord" c. 2012
For the sixth painting in my swan series, I decided to return to the English Garden and paint the same pair of swans that influenced "Swan Brocade". I wanted to try refining my palette to see if I could get some better colors.

Less is More.
Less is More.
My four colors were: orange, light yellow, ultramarine blue and yellow green, plus black and white as needed. The result is that I finally got the deep greens, gold reflections and shade of grey in the water I wanted.

I had an "Aha" moment today about life and repetition. Anything we want to really learn from losing weight to keeping a house clean involves consistent repetition. It's a good principle for getting success!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Under the Surface

5"x 7" oil on "Gessobord", copyright 2012 Tina M. Welter
"Island of Calm" 5"x 7" oil on "Gessobord" c. 2012 TMW

Is anyone getting tired of paintings of swans....?  I have found out that doing a series can lead to some feelings of boredom, but I am determined to finish what I started.  The good part about repetition is that I get to try different techniques to solve the same problem.

I like this painting because it illustrates that wonderful illusion of "making it look easy", when all sorts of work and paddling is going on under the surface.  Swans are masters of this.

Claude Monet, 1874
"Bridge at Argenteuil"  Claude Monet, 1874

 I hope someday my paintings will reach that place where they look effortless.  I saw a boat in Claude Monet's "Bridge at Argenteuil" 1874, that was composed of three lovely brush strokes.  I can only imagine all the practice that led to that moment.  Meanwhile I will keep splashing away until I get there.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Fair Warning

5"x 7" oil on "Gessobord" copyright 2012 Tina M. Welter.
"Guardian" 5"x 7" oil on "Gessobord" c.2012 TMW
"Guardian" is the title for the fourth painting of the swan series. I love this painting because it represents a concept that I have struggled with my whole life, mainly that it is ok to protect some time and space for myself to create.

I has become very clear to me since we turned our lives upside down last fall that I really have a "people pleasing" problem. When people ask me what I am doing while Jeff is in school, I say "I am working on my painting skills." Many people can't understand that I am perfectly happy being in the apartment and doing this, they want to suggest other activities because I "must be bored".

I feel like I finally have to stand up and guard my decision and my time from my own guilt and from others. After years of working for other people, this is a lifetime opportunity for me. It is hard for me to tell people "no". I want to feel approval, not judgment, but that is one thing about being an older, grayer goose...I know I don't have all the time in the world to do the things that matter to me.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Turn That Frown Upside Down

7"x 5" oil on "Gessobord" copyright 2012 Tina M Welter
"Inversion" 7"x 5" oil on "Gessobord" c. 2012
In order to get our German residency permit, we had to get another set of passport photos taken. They conveniently have booths everywhere in the subway stations in Munich so you can do this, but not all booths are created equal.

The photo booth in our U-bahn station had a broken chair, so we had to hover in mid-air to be at the right height for the photo. I had been sick and was still pretty culture shocked in October, but we needed that photo for the next day. The result was an awful photo. It was such a bad photo that the Germans rejected it and I still had to pay for another one.

Yeah...I felt the way I looked that day!
  Yes, I felt the way I looked that day!
A few weeks later, in the act of tearing it up and throwing it away, I started to look at the pieces and thought they might be interesting for a collage. I kept them, and then when "Professional Artist" magazine announced a self-portrait contest I decided to use them for a painting.

The result was "Inversion". I didn't win the contest. But I did challenge myself. I haven't painted a portrait in years and it took several tries to get it right. I do like the result and I am glad I could change that ugly photo into something interesting and meaningful to me.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Soft Light

7"x 5" oil on "Gessobord" copyright 2012 Tina M. Welter
"Lift" 7"x 5" oil on "Gessobord" c. 2012
I have decided to do a series of at least six swan paintings. I had several good reference photos and I was enjoying the subject. I haven't attempted a "series" before, so I thought it would be interesting to try. This painting is the third swan.

The reference photos were taken on a grey day and I wondered if there would be enough contrast to make a good painting. It was exciting getting the photos because the swan came out of the water, walked towards me looking for a hand-out. When I didn't have anything, he flapped his wings in disgust and went back into the water.
Fall 2011
The "English Garden" on a sunny day.
I think the overall shape of the swan is beautiful, the colors are a bit subdued because of the overcast day. Even if it doesn't capture all the excitement of that moment, I do like this painting.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Back in November I finished a painting called "Swan Brocade". If you remember my entry back then, I wasn't very happy with the finished painting. After looking at it for a whole month, I decided to paint it closer to reality and forget the fanciful swirls and abstract roses.

My original intent was to have a pattern like a brocade that was intricate and included the swans and roses, to represent the English Garden in Munich.

I liked the second painting results better, but I was unsure of keeping the same title for the painting. I looked up "brocade" in the dictionary, and the description said: "n. a rich fabric woven with a raised pattern, typically with gold or silver thread," I was so thrilled since the painting has gold and silver reflections in the water. I could keep the name! Hurrah for do-overs and happy accidents.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Canals at Schloss Nymphenburg with all the ducks.
When we had a chance to visit the grounds of Schloss Nymphenburg this fall, I took several pictures of the ducks in the canals. The water was lower for the fall season and the reflections of the trees along the canals in the water was as interesting to me as the ducks.

It was a bit of a challenge to paint, since there was so much detail in the water, and I still wanted to be able to see the duck. I finished it, but I was not happy with the balance between the duck and the tree reflections. I let it sit, then worked on it again two weeks later.

"Ripples With Duck" 5" x 7" oil on gessobord, © 2012 Tina M Welter
"Ripples With Duck" Detail  5" x 7" oil on gessobord, © 2012
 When I took photos of the finished painting, I thought the close-up detail was better because it focused only on the duck. After letting the painting sit where I can just see it as is, I have gone back to liking the duck a little bit lost in the tree reflections.
"Ripples With Duck" 5" x 7" oil on gessobord, © 2012 Tina M Welter
"Ripples With Duck" 5" x 7" oil on gessobord, © 2012
 It is a question of focus, and that is something I have to ask myself when I am choosing what to paint. Am I communicating what I intend to say? The painting is split between the tree reflections and the duck because I liked them both equally. I suppose in that respect, it is a success. I probably should have chosen one or the other, but I am leaving it as it is for now.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Swans Revisited

7" x 5" oil on gessobord, ©2011 Tina M Welter
"Duet" 7" x 5" oil on gessobord, ©2011  
When I wrote about trying to find my "style" , I had a success doing an under-painting for the painting I called "Duo".  I hesitated doing the final colors because the water in the photo I took was so muddy and dull looking. I didn't know how I could make it look attractive.

Finally, I just started with the swans because I could just see what colors they needed. Usually in oil paintings, you start with the background first so that the foreground looks like it is over the background, but I did it backwards.

The funny thing is that once I had the swans finished, I could tell what colors I needed to mix for the water. It was a funny, muddy color, but with the right highlights and shadows I think it worked really well and I am very happy with this painting. I think it would make a lovely greeting card. I am renaming it "Duet".

Friday, January 6, 2012

Is it Good or Bad?

photo by Jeff Welter © 2011
When we were hiking through Garmishpartenkirchen in November, Jeff spotted a pair of cats on a balcony of one of the houses. He took the picture for me since my camera was low on power. I was hopeful that I might get a good painting subject.

When he shared the photos with me, I thought the grey cat was particularly interesting and I wanted to do something as a Christmas card.

I didn't use any drawings or underpaintings, I just went straight to work. I had just read a great article by Eric Maisel in the latest "Professional Artist" magazine about developing your own voice. He encouraged artists to take risks and to wait to judge a painting as good or bad. My favorite thing he said was that "if you have never heard your voice, you may not recognize it."
7"x 5" oil on gessobord, © 2011 Tina M Welter
"Bah Humbug" 7" x 5" oil on gessobord, © 2011
 When I finished the painting, I thought it was pretty ugly. Jeff on the other hand thought the cat had personality and was interesting like an illustration from a story. On his advice, I didn't try to change anything on the painting. The cat did remind me of an irritated old man, so I thought of calling the painting "Bah, Humbug."

Good or bad, Happy New Year everyone!