Dia de Pan Dulce

"Pan Dulce", a photo

Day 294: Pan Dulce

“Dia de los muertos is coming up again. It seems like it was just here.”

“So are you going to finally paint a sugar skull this year?” Reina asked as we ventured into Del Paso Heights in search of adventure one afternoon.

My maiden name is Ramirez; I’m technically hispanic but was always ridiculed endlessly in school by authentic chicano children for obstinately continuing to have a last name in contradiction with my skin tone. So I love latin art, but hesitate to create any of it, expecting a backlash for trying to connect with a culture that is not really mine.  I noticed a bakery as I drove.

“Panaderia! You want some pan dulce?” I replied.

“Mmm, pan dulce! Yes! Pull over.”

Inside the bakery, we found a lovely wall display full of goodies like these Conchas. They let me take a photo with my phone (the DSLR is way too giant and obtrusive to just casually carry around for spur-of-the-moment stuff) which may very much turn out to be a painting one of these days. Ooh, perhaps stacks of sugar skull sweetbread as a subject? They did have these other rolls topped with odd little figurine toothpick things that I could totally turn into skeletons… we’ll see. No promises. For today, feast your eyes on this image I amped up the color in, and here’s a sweet little haiku to go with it:

yellow sugar swirls

airy dough puffs pink and peach

legions of love bread

My long-time readers know I like to write a haiku now and then, but when it comes to pairing them with an image, I must pay homage to the incredible Trish Tunney and her 50/50 project, in which she paired 50 newly written haikus with 50 unpublished photographs of hers in 50 days. If you’re in the mood to be amused/ amazed/ delighted, check it out!


Forever Young

"Youth", mixed media on 5x7" canvas

Day 293: “Youth”, mixed media painting

While I do have a new lineup of cityscapes in the works, they generally take longer than a day. So today’s piece is a mixed media on canvas mini painting. Using thread, yarn, snippets from sewing patterns, Nancy Drew, a children’s reader and a thesaurus, I used “youth” circled from the thesaurus as the theme.

Detail of upper half

The bright yellow dress-clad girl is awfully happy looking. But when I think of youth, I think of having moved past it. I think we become more nostalgic for our youth the older we become. I enjoy remembering my naivety, but at the same time I’m glad to have matured into a different person. Once you go down the rabbit hole, there’s no going back, right?

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Detail bottom

The taxman

"Looming", acrylic on 18" x 24" canvas

Day 292: “Looming”, acrylic painting on canvas

Today’s piece is a cityscape I started several months ago and then set aside in frustration. It made a comeback yesterday and to my delight, got finished up today. I used a reference photograph I took in San Francisco’s Financial District. At that moment, I remember being intrigued by the warm, glowing lights and feeling the excited energy of the couple in formalwear and the crowd lined up to my left. Then as I looked up, the skyscrapers I imagined held financial offices of credit card agencies and banks slept with one eye open, a  frowning over the weekend-good-time below.

Detail shot lower left

I finished it off with some charcoal detail to get that drawing quality I enjoy sneaking into my cityscapes at the end.

Detail lower right

Honey…aww Sugar Sugar

"Honey Corn", acrylic landscape on woodblock

Day 291: Honey Corn

Today’s piece is a landscape on woodblock. This scene is from the Tracy, CA area and shows a cluster of bee boxes in front of a corn field. It kind of made my inner cynic cackle because I had to think of the stupid “corn sugar” PR campaign for high-fructose corn syrup going on right now, but anything with bee boxes always makes me smile in the end. I just got a fresh crop of woodblocks (thanks dad!) so more of these will be on the way in time for the Dec/Jan affordable art show I’m participating in, and of course for YOU GUYS to get your hands on too. 😉

Fortress of Oil-itude

"Fortress", a photo

Day 290: Fortress, a photo

Today was my day-long gallery shift in San Francisco, and I left Sacramento at 9:30 am- which was just barely enough time, seeing as how it took me a full hour to get from the Bay Bridge toll plaza to the Mission District. (It should only take like 15 minutes. Seriously.) Apparently there was some kind of stupid 49ers/Raiders Game today? Bad timing.

I generally enjoy bridges. The steel latticework, heights and lights always make me think of this painting by Joseph Stella. I want to paint my own except it’s tough to get photos while being a conscientious driver. So today on my drive home after closing the gallery, I tried the next best thing- pulling over right after the Benicia bridge and taking a photo of this glowing phallis/boob temple that is the petroleum refinement plant of Benicia. Anything with lights generally tickles my fancy. It’s back to the studio with actual paints tomorrow. Have a great evening, everyone!

Chinese Food & Donuts

"Chinese Food & Donuts", a photo

Day 289: Chinese Food & Donuts, a photo

Today’s daily art is a photograph I took the other day and tweaked a little on the pc today that I took from my car in the Mission district of San Francisco. I’m headed there tomorrow to work a shift at the City Art Gallery where I’m displaying mini paintings for sale this month. The Mission District is extremely colorful and has a hispanic flair, so this “Chinese Food & Donuts” place at first seemed a little odd, but as I looked around I realized it fit right in just the same. 🙂

Little Black Dress

"I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille."

Day 288: Gruau copy

Today’s piece is the final version of a commissioned painting I’ve been working on for about a week. One of my collectors, Todd, reached out when I made the call for help with funding the LA trip to try out for Work of Art.

Todd has painted impressive copies himself (here’s his Monet in a Minute! Video on YouTube) and pitched in with a much-appreciated donation in exchange for a copy of this René Gruau illustration from a Christian Dior perfume ad in the 40’s or 50’s.

This is a big one- it measures 30” x 40”, and is in acrylic with some charcoal. I tried to keep the style loose to reflect the expressive brushstrokes of Gruau. The flowers include some palette knife texture, and I did a lot of glazing to give it depth. Because I photographed this at night, it’s a little more yellow and blurrier than a daytime photo would be, so keep that in mind, Todd! (He is seeing this the same time as y’all, per his request, so hope he likes it!)

Here’s the digital image Todd sent me that I printed and used as a reference:

Source image of Rene Gruau's Dior Perfume Ad

Here’s my version:

Gruau copy on canvas


To everything there is a season…

The wood grain radiates down from a knot in the sky in this piece.

Day 287: Pumpkin Patch

Ah, pumpkin. You can be a jolly jack-o-lantern, tasty pumpkin pie and toasted seed snack all in one. You jazz up the farmlands with little festive dots of my favorite color, and your squash cousins are so brave with their warts-and-all attitudes. I still remember my mom’s if-you-can-carry-it-yourself-you-can-carve-it-rule from our childhood trips to Ardenwood, our local pumpkin farm. And today, my brother-in-law sent me this photo of my sister with baby Emmett practicing for Halloween:

"I like toitles"

It made me remember all the things I loved about the coming holiday before it meant not purchasing the compulsory childhood-diabetes-fodder and posting a note on my door that I refuse to buy GMO “corn sugar” candy because I really do care about your brats-in-drag. 🙂 That’s right. I’m the Halloween Grinch. I might as well throw “We’re hippies, egg our house” in there while I’m at it with that sign, huh? Sigh. (Seriously though, 90% of Halloween candy this year will have genetically modified high fructose corn syrup. Make caramel apples and organic cider instead. 🙂 )

So although it’s still darn hot and not very autumnal out here, I painted this pumpkin patch scene on one of my few remaining woodblocks to get into the spirit of fall.

"Pumpkin Patch", acrylic painting on woodblock

Born on the Bayou

"Marsh", a photo

Day 286: Marsh, a photo

Today’s daily art is a photograph from the Don Edwards Wildlife Reserve in Newark where I grew up (wait- I grew up in Newark, not the wildlife reserve). I drove from Sacramento to San Francisco to refill my wall in the gallery, then met up with my mom for lunch in Redwood City, then swung over to Newark to visit my brand-new baby nephew Emmett. Along the way I got some sweet pics that I’ll be using for some more woodblocks/paintings (the gallery sold 2 more woodblocks while I was visiting mom!), including some like the above.

It was excruciatingly warm in the bay today- at least it seemed that way as I was anticipating the normally cool, breezy weather of my birthplace- and the marsh reeked. REEKED. It smelled like moldy potatoes wrapped in turds. Seriously, it’s terrible. But thankfully there’s no smell-o-vision technology when it comes to photos… yet. So you can just enjoy the view. 🙂

She’s a brick house…

From the side, it's almost invisible! 😉

Day 285: Fleshless

I’m still juggling work on a few pieces at once in the studio that aren’t quite finished, so it’s another mini painting for today’s piece. Rob & I were watching The Apprentice last night (can you believe Trump wants to run for president??) and this crazy mean bitch on there starts trash-talking, saying that another woman is “the weakest member of the team and the biggest”. Her target was not a heavy woman at all, but the rest of the women on the team are total sunken-eye-hole-waifs in danger of snapping in two from a hefty sneeze.

"Don't worry, Denise. I got these ADHD pills from my brother. Now Billy will ask you to the dance for sure!"

As a large lady myself, it got me thinking of weight issues. And then I picked up this 1973 pattern from Simplicity which refers to sizes 10 & up as “Chubbies”. How charming. :/

“Okay, so that’s 2 yards?”

“Make it 2 and a half. I need the extra yardage for my little Chubbie here.”


“Well honey, maybe if you helped out with the housework, you’d be normal-sized and mommy wouldn’t have to spend the extra dollar on fabric to cover your big behind every time.”

At least that’s how I imagine a standard casual mother-daughter fabric-store conversation would have ensued in a time when the patterns were labeled “Chubbies”. I also imagine fabric was $2/yard. *shrug*

Today's and yesterday's together

This mixed media mash-up includes snippets from vintage books (children’s storybook, dictionary, thesaurus) and sewing patterns. The illustration is kind of off-beat; I think the girl in green is supposed to be checking her nails, but it looks like she’s peering into a cup or something; that next to the rhyme “8 and 8 are 16 pills the doctor’s mixing” fits together nicely as a reference to our bombardment with weight-loss pill commercials. The yellow yarn is tied like a waist-cincher. And if you look closely, you can see that the part from the dictionary with “fleshless” coincidentally has “flawless” right next to it. I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried.

"Fleshless", mixed media on 5x7" canvas