Thursday, July 2, 2015

Painting on sketchbook covers

This is one of my favorite sketchbook cover paintings that I've done recently. So simple and I love how the background and her skin tone are so similar. It is from a photo reference and an experiment in using Alizarin Crimson for flesh. 

For a couple of months I've been painting my sketchbook covers. I got this idea from a sketching friend of mine (Tim Young) and he got the idea from James Gurney. Here (above) you can see I have a lot of old sketchbooks. I have saved them mostly for sentimental reasons. Most of the drawings inside aren't very good at all. I have learned (and have come to accept) that sketchbooks are a just the perfect place to make all kinds of mistakes.

I'm reasonably certain that when Gurney advanced this idea of painting directly onto your sketchbook cover he meant that you would personalize your sketchbooks as-you-go...but I decided to do mine retroactively.
The sketchbooks in the photo show that I gessoed the books in advance of painting them. I textured the gesso also (with a paper towel). I used oil for these paintings and Tim used acrylic. Almost all of these books are Aquabee Deluxe sketchbooks, but I know this will work on any hard cover.

You may wonder what is to be gained from doing this. Well, for one, it is just plain fun. Tim and I both have noticed that sometimes these efforts can come out great*. I've been trying to paint them energetically (for the "brushspeed"). *(There may be less onus to painting on an unconventional surface). Below are what I have done so far: 

I'm glad I tried this and if you're looking to do something really different, you might try it too. The only downside to it is that you can't stack the books until they are really super-dry...and that people might be disappointed when they open a book with a pretty painting on the front... only to find  mediocre crappy drawings inside. Oh so what.. haha! ("The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one." --Elbert Hubbard)

(Sketchbook covers): Celeste Bergin: Red truck from photo reference, Profile from photo reference, Man & dog from memory (I have to re-take that photo), Portrait of John Singer Sargent, Landscape from memory, Profile from photo reference, Hoodie from photo reference, Figure inspired by Manet, Flowers from life, Cup and saucer from life, "Lonely" trees from memory

Monday, June 29, 2015


I took this oil sketch to art discussion last week. It is inspired by an evening I enjoyed at the Tualatin Wildlife refuge. (Pretty much everywhere you look at Tualatin Wildlife Refuge....there is a painting). I am thinking about working this up into a larger painting. 

We got to hold our meeting on the patio of O'Connors. That was different! We had to raise our voices over the hum of the air-conditioner.... but it was still fun, as always. To see what everyone brought...go HERE.

(Oil Sketch) Celeste Bergin, Early Evening Moon, Tualatin Wildlife Refuge, oil on 12x16 canvas 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015


Sometimes it is satisfying to paint a simple summer green tree. Better photo to come :)

(Painting) Celeste Bergin, Summer in Corbett, oil on 8x8 canvas panel

Monday, June 15, 2015


Thanks to all for coming to the Sunday Reception! Here is a portrait that I painted in a life session recently. I went to art discussion last week too. To see what everyone brought....go HERE. Now I will go check out what my blogging friends are up to. :)

(Painting) Celeste Bergin, Carla, oil on 11x14 canvas panel

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Please come to our Artist’s Reception

(click to Enlarge)

I hope you can come help us celebrate (it would be great to see you there)!
I have 4 paintings in the show "Regional Art"

Artist’s Reception: Sunday, June 7, 2015  1-6pm

Overall Exhibit Dates:  June 4-July1, 2015

Broderick Gallery 1318 Commerce Avenue, Longview WA, 98632

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Fruit practice

Here's my still life station. It is just a cardboard box with two sides cut out of it. This is as far as I got tonight. Maybe I will do more to it tomorrow...or maybe I'll just go to different set-up. It's all--- just for practice.

Oil Study, Celeste Bergin, Fruit Study, oil on 16x12 canvas sheet

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Little practice paintings (Thursday)

Our art discussion question was a good one..."challenging subjects" (things you find daunting to paint). In anticipation of the meeting I painted some quick exercises in my still life station. I chose a white bank, a copper tin and my mineral spirits container.  

The copper tin was the most vexing. I think I did pretty well, though it was definitely a challenge to get the colors right.

This mineral spirits tin has been with me from the start. It was fun to paint, and I might do a more complete version someday. 
To see what everyone else brought to the meeting....go HERE

(Oil studies) Celeste Bergin, 3 objects, oil on 6x9 canvas sheet