Clavichords and Big Lutes

The church Mons sur Montis (I think). It was constructed in the 14 or 15th century, and undergoing renovation (notice the plastic chairs)? In the center of the room was a railing with a lucite slab in the floor. It

Life Changes for Teiko & Wesley


(first published May 3, 2008, edited 9/26/2017)


My Last 3 Weeks

The Grands: Sarah, Betsy, Bill and Great Grands: Rip, Tyler,  & in utero Liam

The Grands: Sarah, Betsy, Bill and
Great Grands: Rip, Tyler,  & in utero Liam

Can't believe it has been almost 3 weeks since my last entry! We've not only found a fabulous independent living apartment for Randy's Mom and Dad, we furnished it, moved them and all their lifetime of 'stuff', got them moved in and unpacked by last Sunday! Everything was decorated, pictures were hung, fresh flowers in all rooms, and they slept in their own bed the first night!

Vicki Ross portraits1.jpg

In my spare time that last week, I painted six 8x10 portraits of the 3 Grands (from left, Sarah, Betsy, Bill) and the 3 Great Grands (on right, Bill's Rip and Tyler, below Betsy, the one due in September). I used creative license on that one! Randy and my co-decorator, Mary Jane Comstock did the placement and hanging on this wall.

Note 09/26/17: I experimented with a subtractive method (fancy work for put it on, take it off). Using Red Iron Oxide and Odorless Mineral Spirits, I thinned the paint until it was moveable. Painted the entire canvas, then with paper towel, erased where the features are. I could have let this dry and keep painting to a realistic finish, but these were intended to be sketchy.

TWO WEEKS! No wonder I am past exhausted...but their apartment looks great, all new furniture scaled to fit the space. My mood is not great, and I am once again made aware of how important the act of painting is to me. 

I leave for Paris and La Bonne Etoile on May 17. We have one strong potential for sponsorship ($1500 now, full sized portrait when I return); and a possible sponsor who will subsidize the entire trip for me in return for my graphic design expertise to publish his cookbook. Barter is a wonderful thing! If I'm meant to be there for Mr. DeMille's class, I will be there!

A few more pics of the light-filled apartment are below, since I don't have any other new work to show. Their new sofa must be acceptable, judging by Wesley fast asleep in the garden (really just a large painting  :)


Still Life Under Pressure

The Learning Continues...Ala Prima

(first published April 5, 2008, edited 9/25/2017)



Vicki Ross Blue Pitcher.jpg

Note: 09/26/17 The Wild, Wild, West of the internet in 2008. It was all new...Facebook was just hitting its stride.

This blog 'stuff' is still new to all of us! Be sure you click on the links from your FeedBlitz email to go to the actual blog page (the one with the pretty green border).

I promised me not to get obsessed with blogging, to not let it take away from painting, or to bore my subscribers with my trivia. But once a week would be good, and I missed last week!

Am driving an hour to Pineville, MO to study with Theresa Rankin, for as long as she continues to teach there. Can't drive 2 hours! Talk about a workout! THREE still life setups in 5 hours. 

This technique in oil is 'Alla Prima' or all at once. As I experiment with it, and study Richard Schmid's books, I am realizing that you HAVE to be familiar with your basic pigment colors or 'palette' and what they do with each other. I'm fascinated with the drippy backgrounds I've gotten. 

Vicki Ross crystal still life.jpg

While the different mediums (pastel, watercolor, oil) are vastly different in range of application, there is a similarity or overlap in this transparent loose technique. You find it in Charles Reid's watercolors, Ramon Kelly's figurative, John Howard Sanden's portraits, Albert Handell's pastels and Richard Schmid's landscapes. A common element is the 2-3 hour painting, loose expressive backgrounds, and a definite 'mark of the artist'.

Watercolor is known for being a challenge with using the pigments suspended in a wet passage where they mix somewhat, but retain some of their individuality. Modern pastelists have a range of papers that will take the abuse of water or turpentine washes that dissolve the dry pastel pigment, and can provide a look similar to the oil technique I'm enjoying. I might have to explore this theory further in the next few weeks.


Love Me Some Color Charts

The Learning Continues...Color Charts

(first published April 15, 2008, edited 9/20/2017)



Being one of those 'fortunate' people who is equally at home working out of each side of my brain, this exercise was right up my alley! Left Brain: analytical, math, computer. Right Brain: creative, dreamer, ARTIST. Sometimes it takes time to shut off my left brain so my right brain can enjoy the creative process. One trick I use is to have my iPod earphones IN MY EARS. For some strange reason my left brain (control freak/little bossy voice) listens to the music instead of barking orders or cautions to me while painting. Music playing through speakers is too easily tuned out. Listening to audio books or podcasts helps too.

SO, as I investigated the much recommended modern master painter, Richard Schmid and his fabulous book 'Alla Prima' I decided to follow his suggestion and painted the color charts using his choice of pigments...11 of them. On 12 pieces of canvas, you end up with 660 different tints of color...over a 5 step value plan.

Both brains had a ball...the left keeping me organized so i would mix the right pigments in the right order...the right having as much fun as a kid in a candy store marveling over all the 'preddy kolors'. Finished all 13 in 3 that is an example of left brain obsession!

BUT, let's TAKE IT UP A NOTCH...BAM! I (or probably my left brain) didn't want the fun to stop, so I started over with Ann Templeton's 16 pigments...17 sheets, 1360 color tints.

The absolute beauty of these colors is that they are all mixed with pure pigment...only 2 pigments (different colors) and white. Clean, Fresh, Exciting! 

Worked on these one day in an art group I go to, and was told by a couple artists that I was wasting my time. Of course, Richard Schmid's paintings are in major museums and collections, and he does these periodically himself. 

Ultimately you will learn how to mix these without your cheat sheets, but in the meantime they are a wonderful tool.


Cow, Sheep, Pig, Rocks

The Learning Continues...French Treasure

(first published September 2, 2008, edited 9/20/2017)



French Village

One of our last days on our first French trip, Kippy (Hammond, LaBonneEtoile) suggested on a whim that we pile in the van and go paint somewhere close. A few of us nearly knocked each other down to get to the van.

Kippy took us to a little village, where there was a charming landscape scene just begging to be captured. I named it 'Cows in France', but it was nicknamed 'Cow-sheep-pig-rocks in France' (Kippy knows how to keep me in check). 

As we were painting, one of the village women came up and asked Kippy if we would like to see inside the little building we were using for shade. Curious, we were all for it.

Inside this natural stone/stucco building were three statues carved by the town's famous son. The statue of his mother has a bronze head.

I've painted the statue of the mother and child several times in silverpoint and in oil. 

P.S. Do  me a favor and click thru to the blog post. I'm studying numbers and click through rates.





Art is Timeless #4 Musings

The Learning Continues...

(first published August 31, 2008, edited 9/5/2017)


THESE ramblings IN YOUR Box

I'm including this post because I want you to have a better understanding of my journey to understand art. var

Just trying to catch up on a few emails (200 I saved for later in the past few weeks). I've had a conversation with several of my arty friends about 'Figurative' as opposed to 'Portraiture'. Somehow I had figured it out all by myself to mean something totally different than what Katherine Tyrrell says in her blog.

I had tried to discuss this with Kippy Hammond (my French friend from Atlant one day...and failed miserably. My definition was that portraiture was of a child in a hand-smocked dress or little button on shorts, white dress shoes, halo of light behind their head...or a supreme court justice in his robes...Figurative in my mind was a profile of an attitude, or the impressionistic nude's back, or a casual people scene.

Boy, was I ever wrong according to Katherine! Must do some more study on this...



Art is Timeless #3

The Learning Continues...

(first published December 26, 2008, edited 9/5/2017)


With a HUGE workshop coming up next week with Leslie B. DeMille, I did one of my days at my art cooperative, Poor Richard's Art in Rogers, AR. We had a steady stream of people today.

Bill, wife of one of the owners (yeah, ya heard me right) solid as a to be with, and a good judge of character. I love being in the shop with him. We have so much fun with customers..harassing them, playing like we don't even like each other...firing each other...and the customers LOVE it.

Attitude 24x12", pastel, ©Axully, V.N.Ross, Collected

Bill fell in love with one of my paintings of a Black Woman I named 'Attitude'. It was from a photo Randy took while we were on our vacation (?) in CapeTown, South Africa the first xmas after our bad stuff. (if you don't know about our bad stuff, you'll just have to search the web about it).

Anyway, Bill was always attracted to this painting because it reminded him of a woman who helped caretake him and his siblings with good homecooked food and appropriate discipline. He always talks about how much he is drawn to this painting. Even today after he bought it and it was hanging in their house.

I told him I had done a self-portrait and he wanted to see that.

SO, I took the SP in today and had show 'n tell. Put it on a counter where I was working on the silverpoint of the statue in France (see previous blog). Forgot about i sitting on the countert.

Now HERE is the story. A customer and family came in and loved the shop. Mom and Pop and the 2 sons absorbed every artist in the shop. As is the custom, when offered a complimentary soft drink or fancy coffee, Mom accepted. She had already visited with the others working in the shop...but for some reason kept surepticiously (that is sneaky in arkansas-talk and I'm too lazy to look it up) at me. We chitchattyed a minute or 2, and she moved on down the aisle.

She burst out laughing, at herself. Caught my eye and said she had just had a blonde moment. I asked why, and she said she was trying to figure out why I looked so familiar, where she knew me from...and then realized she had seen my self-portrait earlier in their visit!

Made MY day! guess I caught my likeness.

If ya are lucky, I'll post a photo tomorrow...



Art Is Timeless The Very First Post

The beginning

The Learning Continues...

(first published March 3, 2008, edited 9/5/2017)

New stuff coming…watch this space

This is the inaugural edition of our new blog. Please follow along as whatever strikes our fancy to write about will appear here. Who knows, we may include adventures from trips we've taken to Italy, France and South just never know about us!

Email Invitation_VickiB.jpg

On Friday, March 7, 2008, Vicki Ross will be the featured artist at Julie Wait Designs in Historic Downtown Rogers, AR. The show is sponsored by Poor Richard's Art on First Street. The artist's reception is from 4-8pm, and will hang through April 25. The art will hang, not the reception or the artist!



The Learning Continues...

(first published December 26, 2008, edited 9/1/2017)

Watch This Space for News from Vicki
Be Sure to give me your email so you will get these in your email

In Dec, 2002, our good friends 'kidnapped' us and insisted we join them on a trip to Cape Town, South Africa. They figured if we were on the other side of the world, the 1 year anniversary of the fire and loss of Sarah would pass a little under our radar...because of the time zones we didn't even know what day it was there.

My first photo in capeTown with my new digital camera!

My first photo in capeTown with my new digital camera!

I insisted on having my very own digital camera...Randy kept wanting to take photos for me, but I wanted to learn how to do my own source photos for painting. Had only dabbled with painting for a few months...knew nothing about that OR cameras!

SO, when I got this beautiful flower ALL BY ME, it has always brought a smile to my face...I was so excited when the colors and focus were there. Of course, composition wasn't great, but I'm just sayin'!

Determined then, as now, to become as good an artist as I can be...I spent HOURS looking for watercolor en plein air gear. In November 2002 there was not much available. Finally found a Winsor-Newton mini-kit with pans of w/c paint and a bitty brush. Of course, it did not make it in I made my own. The pigments in that kit are still as fresh as the day I put them in! Went to Hobby Lobby and bought empty paint pots, the ones on a plastic strips with a locking cap. Filled each one with pigment. Added a small tupperware bowl, reusable paper towel, sponge, pencil, eraser, and brushes.

Now, (OF COURSE), my gear is much more brass watercolor palette, ala Charles Reid, was custom made and has my initials on the outside cut out of brass and soldered on. The interior is enamelled. Do I paint better? No. But LOOKING like a real artist is half the battle.

Here is an on location study I did.

Watercolors are so difficult to photograph. the paper always ends up looking dirty.

CapeTown Flower, Watercolor, ©Axully, V.N.Ross. Collected 

CapeTown Flower, Watercolor, ©Axully, V.N.Ross. Collected 

I did a larger version a year or so after the trip, when I had been learning more about how to do this new 'hobby' of mine.

This is the result...and has been collected.



In 2005 or so, I started dabbling in pastels. Love at first sight! Not as problematic as watercolors, but you still have to frame under glass...and worry about pastel particles showing on the glass.


CapeTown Flower, Pastel, 12x15". Axully, V.N.Ross

CapeTown Flower, Pastel, 12x15". Axully, V.N.Ross

Guess I'll never get tired of painting this flower. Maybe some day I'll get tired of it. Maybe not. It was my first photo. It is interesting to see how it looks from watercolor to pastel, and now in oil.

The pastel painting disappeared in the move, and I couldn't believe I didn't have a photo of it before it was framed! So after extensive search of my computer and all archives, I gave up on that and decided to find the painting.This photo is obviously taken with a reflection from the glass.

THAT caused another series of events yesterday. I'm a bit obsessive/compulsive and when I get something on my mind, I dream about it. Josh and I had packed all the framed paintings in my gallery carefully in boxes. There were a few big ones that wouldn't fit our they were hand carried and moved to the new house. The ones I moved are carefully stacked in my garage...out of harms way until we get our hanging system installed.

The ones Josh and I packed were in boxes stacked 3 and 4 high in the future studio (the floored attic just off the family room upstairs. It was 70 degrees yesterday, so I thought it a good day to see if I could find the painting AND empty a few boxes. NOPE, no painting. Went through the ones in my garage twice, Nope.

Finally resigned myself to the fact that the last paintings to leave the old house were the first things in the big garage...and a trailer load of stuff 'n junk piled all around them. Today I found a way to make a path to that stack of paintings AND Voilå! There is was, and I could finish this blog entry.

Thought I was kidding, didn't you? 

Capetown Flower, Oil 8x10", ©Axully, V.N.Ross

Capetown Flower, Oil 8x10", ©Axully, V.N.Ross

Since I've become enamored with oil, guess what I just had to try...YOU GUESSED IT! My Cape Town flower...

Whew. This blog took a bunch of effort. I'm now off to work on my portrait challenge from Different Strokes from Different Folks. Erika Nelson talked me into joining this merry band of artists. I'm looking forward to it.




Art Is Timeless #1

The Learning Continues!

(first published March 26, 2008, edited 9/1/2017)

Watch this space for exciting news!

Texas Hill Country 14x11" oil, ©V.N.Ross

Texas Hill Country 14x11" oil, ©V.N.Ross

OR, the learning is just beginning! After the last blog, the show, and the 2 day workshop with Theresa Rankin...I finished up the 3 from the workshop. As finished as they can be without overworking. Texas Creek is from a photo we took in South Texas a couple years ago on a scenic drive through Joe May's old stomping grounds.




Austrian Morning

Austrian Morning

Austrian Morning is a view of a spectacular lake we painted on a day trip with Charles Reid's Salzburg/Prague workshop. My alla prima painting that day was tough.





Rome Flowers, 11x14" Oil, ©V.N.Ross

Rome Flowers, 11x14" Oil, ©V.N.Ross


Rome Flowers is a photo I took in Rome, exhausted with the walking and tourist-ing, and a drizzly dreary day. Alas, I have fallen in love with my background...and it should be cropped. 

I'm pleased with these, especially with all I had going on that week. 

Forward to any friends or like-minded people who are interested in art. Of course, if you aren't interested, pftttt to you! (that is my best spelling for tongue out, blowing raspberries at ya)

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