Thank you Mr. Cassinetto

Jack Cassinetto, my high school art teacher, died January 4, 2018, at 73.

All these years later, I am just realizing that he was only 10 years older than us. I know he was the cool, young, handsome, understanding teacher that was the focus of many girl crushes. His sister Maryjane was in my class year. How did I not realize? I remember him being non-judgmental, amused and bemused by us. It was the best part of my day, being in the art room, painting, talking quietly. Art was refuge in high school, thanks to Mr. Cassinetto.

Much of my Sonora High School existence is now a blur but two instances with Mr. Cassinetto stand out in my memory. The first is the outdoor art show he organized for us in the city park one spring Saturday afternoon. Sonora is a Victorian city in the gold country of California. The park is a city block of parterres, trees, paths and benches that squats in front of the Tuolumne County Courthouse, on the main drag, where two highways flow through town, where kids visit Santa every Christmas season. We set up right at the edge of the park, on Washington Street. My contribution was a huge, 3’x4′, abstract nude. Bright pink and bold it dwarfed the other show artwork. Mr. Cassinetto stood next to it much of the day talking to visitors as the cars full of tourists and locals rolled by. I didn’t realize the situation fully until I was having my first show as a professional artist and was thinking back—in 2006. I had been so proud.

The other event was his taking us down to a Henri Matisse exhibit at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco. It is the first visit to an art museum that I remember. What stood out for me was Femme au chapeau (Woman with a Hat). I loved that her face was blue, green, pink, yellow and red and yet it was still a beautiful face. What a revelation. I was pleased to meet her again last May at SFMOMA and recall that early museum visit.

The last time I remember seeing Mr. Cassinetto was at our Senior Banquet, in 1972. He never came to our class reunions, though Maryjane often did. At our last, I was sad to hear that he had been fighting cancer. She said he had it licked and was painting up a storm

Woman Green Hat


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Burnished Autumn

We had a wonderful, long, autumn this year following a warm dry summer.  There was a brief cold spell that turned all the leaves gold and then it warmed up for a couple of weeks.  The rain stayed away and the leaves remained.  It was the best for plein air painting.  I rolled my cart of pastels, easel and paper to the end of our driveway and painted the same scene over and over, mostly during the ‘golden hour’ before dusk.  It was fun to keep painting the same scene, discovering some more approaches to color and shape each time.  I have been playing with UArt paper, creating an underpainting of pastel brushed out with denatured alcohol.  Some of these will be part of my show at Art in the Valley this November.  We are hanging it on MONDAY!


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Winter Landscape

This week has been time spent in the studio trying to avoid the challenges in my personal and national realities.  My challenge in the studio was to depict the landscape from a photograph.  My neighborhood has been frozen for a few weeks so painting outside is too cold for me.  The composition was a road at the bottom of a bank but my interest was in depicting the hedgerow along the fence.  Dueling ideas.  One had to go.  See how I resolved it below.

First, I minimized the road a bit by darkening it.  Still a confusing composition.


I put it up on Photoshop and tried some other ideas.  This was my solution.


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Artistic Inspiration

A Richard Diebenkorn show has been in SF and Palm Springs this year.  I bought the catalogue even though I did not make the real thing.  I wish I could see the paintings at their full size.

Below, are two acrylic paintings by Eugene’s Adam Grosowski whose work is very strong.  They seem Diebenkorn inspired.  I have included two of Diebenkorn’s interiors with landscape so you can compare.  All the paintings are very large.

Grosowski interior and landscape with figure

Grosowski interior and landscape with figure

Grosowski interior and landscape with figure 2

Grosowski interior and landscape with figure 2

Diebenkorn interior with landscape and figure

Diebenkorn interior with landscape and figure

Diebenkorn interior and landscape

Diebenkorn interior and landscape

I have been looking at Diebenkorn’s still life paintings.  I did the Orange Pepper and Knife, inspired by his Tomato and Knife.  I love how is knife slashes across the painting and the painterly quality of the impressionistic tomatoes.

Orange Pepper and Knife Pastel 16x20

Orange Pepper and Knife Pastel 16 x 20


Diebenkorn Tomato and Knife, Oil

Diebenkorn Tomato and Knife, Oil

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Cotton Nightie

It is not as if I am obsessed with laundry, although I do get to watch Top Chef, Project Runway or the latest Masterpiece Theater selection while I fold it. The ordinariness of it and the whiteness of it are a challenge to make an interesting painting.  Painting white objects, I am forced to squint and consider the warmness or coolness of light in order to paint them.  Because they are high key, in the lighter end of the range of values, they seem to have an upbeat lightness to them, they seem happy.  As the days turn grayer, perhaps that is what attracts me.

Cotton Nightie  Pastel  18x24

Cotton Nightie Pastel 18×24

Time to buckle down and clean the studio so there is room for Rhoda Fleischman’s beautiful pottery during our upcoming studio sale.  What a mess!  Rhoda is at Clayfest in Eugene, OR this weekend.

Pottery Pitcher by Rhoda Fleischman

Pottery Pitcher by Rhoda Fleischman

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White Nightie

I belong to a group of artists that meets bi-weekIy to get through the long gray winter days by making art.  We give ourselves assignments.  This week, we decided to paint white objects.  It was fun to play in such a high key.  I hope to do some more in this vein.  It was also a unique approach for me because the support is plain good paper-not sanded.  I fixed down a nice, shaded, drawing of the subject in charcoal and then added the color.  The nightie was back lit by  golden light during sun breaks in the near constant rain.

White Nightie

Pastel Painting White Nightie 18×24

I just read that we have  witnessed the wettest September on record here, after the driest July.  Wow.  The long summer days made for painting are past for the time being.  The Vistas and Vineyards annual show is up on the walls at LaSalles Stewart Center at OSU.  All submittals were chosen to hang so I am not sure we can call it a juried show this year.  The diversity of media and takes on familiar places make it a good show, however.  There will be a reception next Tuesday, October 8th, 6:30 to 8:30 pm.

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Critique and Response




In process pastel still-life painting.

In process pastel still-life painting.

I thought that I would share with you the evolution of a painting of mine, incorporating the good advice of artist friends with whom I meet regularly.  A crit group is a great way to improve your work–you see flaws as soon as you put a piece before the group!  Then they have more ideas about how to improve your piece as well.  I have learned so much from my peers.  We all look at things differently and having other’s opinions is rich!  We are a a bit different than many groups because we set little problems before us and then share our solutions.  Last time we each did a riff with complementary colors.  This was a take on that, doing another bouquet that is yellow and blue instead of orange and blue.

Photoshopped Bouquet #5

Photoshopped Bouquet #5

So, above is the painting I brought in.  It was suggested that I simplify elements that were too detailed or drop them together; the clippers in the lower right, the petals and some engraving on the pitcher.  “You have to decide if you are a two hair painter (total detail nik) or not.” Also, to change the light on the pitcher, making it darker on the left side and painting a more defined, darker, shadow on the left side of the pitcher. Also, to add some light on the back of the silver tray. “Your daisies on the tray are not ON the tray.” I Photoshopped my painting to see what those ideas might be like.

Below is the final painting, taking into account everyone’s comments and deciding what would work for me.  I am sorry that the lighting of the photo is a bit different than the others, it is pretty true I think.  You can see that I decided to take almost all their advice–I have found they are nearly always right.  But I did keep the clippers and I thought that the reflection of the silver tray should lighten the left edge of the pitcher a bit. Much better, right?  What would you have done?


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It is so absolutely gorgeous outside.  Yesterday there was an enormous thunderhead over Mary’s Peak so I ran out to the fields south of Philomath and painted.  I have been looking at Roos Shuring’s work, an oil painter from the Netherlands.  She works in the most gawd awful weather!  Very inspiring.  But, here’s to a day that did not require much fortitude to go out and paint!

Big Black Cloud

Big Black Cloud

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Just Beet It!

Beets photograph

The last beets from Julie’s Garden

My friend Julie sent me home from Book Club with a bag of beets freshly dug from her garden.  I thought they would have character and be a fun still life challenge.  And challenge they were.  The first painting was painted before I washed them so they are still pretty brown.  They are warm colored with the purple leaves so I added a blue green background ( a complement color and offsetting temperature) to try to soup up the painting.  Not too exciting. Is it the beets or the painting?

Beeten Down

Beeten Down

The second painting was painted after I washed them.  They were now pretty bedraggled but much prettier.  Maybe the problem is that I simply am not fond of the color.  I tried to spark it with yellow and green (complements of purple and red) I looked online and many artists push the color of beets into the red and red orange hue, maybe they don’t like beet red either.

Pastel of Julie's beets washed.

Beet Up

Anyway, it was a good subject for making puns.

It also is a way to commemorate all the terrific beet salads I have eaten in the last few weeks.

Thanks, Julie!

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IT IS dark out there!  Tis the season for candlelit dinners.  Gotta make the best of a bad situation.

Usually, I light my subjects with incandescent light. I have been looking at Old Master still life paintings lately and decided to try lighting with candlelight. I think the results, although more subtle than I would have thought, are interesting. The candlelit pom is more golden and warm. I would like to try chiaroscuro next, having the subjects emerge from a dark background. I tried that with some beautiful dahlias a month ago and it didn’t work…but try try again.

These are studies for a painting of pomegranates—a project for my Purely Pastel Artists group ( The painting will also be critiqued as part of a bi-weekly painters group I belong to where the current assignment is Overlap/Underlap. I have done a painting thinking from the back forward, “overlap”, and now will do a painting from the front back, “underlap.” How does that make sense? I find so far that it helps me think spatially about the composition in a more focused way.

Painting study for pomegranates

Candlelit Pom 5×7

Pastel painting of pomegranate

Pom Study 5×7


 Yesterday, I delivered my five little miniatures to Art in the Valley as well as four pieces to the Pegasus Gallery in Corvallis for the holiday season. Bill has some work by Rick Bartow in there that is amazing. I will have to find more reasons to drop in there to visit them.

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