The Healing Tree #2, reboot by debbie rich

I'm reinvigorating an older large painting that I absolutely love. The painting shows the front of the house of my former Feldenkrais practitioner so I think of it as my "healing tree."

She is a retired ballerina who works out of her house in the inner Sunset. Her therapy got me through a difficult time when I was in a lot of physical pain. I feel peaceful when I think of walking up her (very steep) steps, seeing that tree, and knowing that I'd feel better in an hour.

The painting is rather large, 3 x 4 feet. It moved to a new home with me a few years ago and, like many of us, needs a mild facelift. I'm reapplying some of the paint, adding new texture and a few improvements. 

Back on the Golden Gate trail by debbie rich

I’ve had a busy two months, moving to a new home and getting buried in an urgent freelance gig, so not much painting has been done. But now I’m back on the art trail, finishing up two pieces that were underway when I moved, including this Golden Gate bridge piece. It’s 8x10” and was a pretty solid underpainting until a few days ago. Now I’ve been working into the details and I think it’s becoming a pretty solid painting. 


I've worked on the water reflection, bridge lines and cityscape background. Next up is tightening the water and working on the sky. Here's how it looked in January.

Golden Gate gets a paint job by debbie rich

I’m working on a Golden Gate Bridge piece again. The underpainting is all blocked out, including patterns in the sky and water. I’ve played with these patterns before but never in a strategic way. And I've figured out where the 8x10 matte will cut off the image so I think through its borders.


I’ve attempted this image many times over the years, and so far, I only like this one from 2013 a little and maybe this bigass one for sheer size and moxie.

But each time, the image gets better. I can see what to/not do with this one. Already, I like how I’ve blocked out the sky circles and water waves. Now I’m going to experiment with colored pencil for the bridge and really get its structure locked in before using paint.

Here’s Stage 1 from July (yep, bit of a time lapse) and my source photograph.


Alameda bay, stage 2 by debbie rich

This week saw a big burst of painting, and I'm excited about the progress of my Alameda piece. Using oil paint and colored pencil, I did a modified version of my typical wavy water pattern. I like this more subtle approach. Played with a speckled texture for the rocks and started laying in the grass and wood patterns.

Once this is dry, the next stage is to finish the rocks, grass and wood. Maybe do more with the background shoreline but not much because I want to keep it a bit abstract. Here is stage 1.


Alameda pier with pelican by debbie rich

This afternoon I sat in the sun and sketched the pier behind my apartment building. The reflective bay water, sparkling sun, cascading rhythm of shoreline rocks and cement blocks. Ducks and geese and, I think, an occasional pelican. It’s all very peaceful and inspiring.


This is my first sketch of Alameda although I’ve taken a lot of reference photos already. Here's a composite of the view I was sketching. 


I plan to take this drawing further, but the oil pastel was getting a little messy working out of the sketchbook. Added green pastel to the upper right corner and it feels too bright. Time to tear out the page and set up a painting station.

Golden Gate Bridge, stage 1 by debbie rich

It’s my Golden Gate Bridge obsession, back for the fourth time. Or seventh or 20th, depending upon whether I count failed attempts of the past. The underpainting was sketched over a light table on medium-weight watercolor paper. I've applied a light oil wash over the colored pencil. 


Here is the red pencil underpainting. 


Golden Gate in progress by debbie rich

The next stage of my Golden Gate painting. I added the first layer of color with oil washes, oil pastels and a little bit of oil bar. Next step is to paint in contrast. 

Love those oil bars, especially the tactile quality of stripping the stick of its skin. But the material samples are a little large for the size that I currently work at, so lately I’ve used them sparingly.

Here is stage 1. I think the line structure of the underpainting has held up nicely. 


The Hotel Adagio by debbie rich

Further work on a view from the penthouse suite of the Adagio Hotel in downtown San Francisco. The palette is based on the actual colors of the scene, as blue spotlights hit the buildings and created a beautiful contrast with their browns, yellows and reds.

I've filled in the forms with heavy colored pencil, and started to add oil pastel in the windows and trim. It is a slowwww process.