Painting of Violet Tea I

Another in my Birds & Teacups Series, Violet Tea I is still very much a work in progress…

Violet Tea I (WIP 1) Marie Cameron 2016

Quick oil sketch…

Violet Tea I (WIP 2) Marie Cameron 2016

Some lovely loose brush strokes suggesting violets…

Violet Tea I (WIP 3) Marie Cameron 2016

Sketching in the background…

Violet Tea I (WIP 4) Marie Cameron 2016

Filling in here and there…

Violet Tea I (WIP 5) Marie Cameron 2016

Wiping off the gestural background that I was afraid was building up too much…

Violet Tea I (WIP 6) Marie Cameron 2016

Blocking in some shadows and loosing my loose violets in a pursuit of realism…

Violet Tea I (WIP 7) Marie Cameron 2016

Sharpening up details, but there’s such a long way to go in terms of drama (which will come from the lighting) in this piece…..I’ll post more when there’s more to see.

Violet Tea I (WIP) 8 Marie Cameron 2016
I didn’t know I was going to go for a greenish background! Such a busy image really called out for a simplified palette.

Violet Tea I - oil on board - 12x12 inches - Marie Cameron 2016

Here is the finished painting, which is now on exhibit at the Los Gatos Museum Gallery.


Magnolia Tea I (WIP)

A new Bird & Teacup on the easel today! This time it’s one of the little Dark-eyed Junkos that are always underfoot. This one is nestled into some branches of Star Magnolia that my friend painter Isaias Sandoval had cut for me from his tree. I love the way it’s coming together!

Magnolia Tea I  (WIP) 1 - Marie Cameron 2016

I sketched out the image in magenta oil…

Magnolia Tea I (WIP) 2 - Marie Cameron 2016

Blocked in the darks and mid tones of the background loosely…

Magnolia Tea I  (WIP) 3 - Marie Cameron 2016

Worked in the branches…

Magnolia Tea I  (WIP) 4 - Marie Cameron 2016

Paid some attention to my bird…

Magnolia Tea I  (WIP) 5 - Marie Cameron 2016

Laying in the shadows in the petals and cup, they may look like white flowers but they have a huge range of warm and cool colors (pinks. yellows, greens, treys, lavenders and blues) in both the shadows…

Magnolia Tea I  (WIP) 6 - Marie Cameron 2016

And the highlights…

More tomorrow!

Bamboo Tea I (WIP)

I love to start a new painting with the new week – fresh start, fresh paint and all the those days stretching out before me like an empty road. I was able to race ahead with an image I’d already worked out…a cute, vintage Japanese bamboo demitasse filled with lucky bamboo against the lush pattern of a period cheongsam (that used to fit me). I loved this combination but wasn’t sure what bird to pair it with until I saw these Japanese White Eyes in Kawaii last winter (yes it takes me a while to get to all the ideas I have filled away). I love how their chartreuse feathers and little white eye rings act as a perfect compliment to the vignette.

As usual, I keep the initial oil sketch very loose, making sure only that the teacup is centered.

Next I loosely blocked in the background – there’s not much detail in the fabric anyway  being some kind  of watercolor looking satin and velvet burn out affair (I wish it sill fit me!).

The teacup came next.

Then the bamboo.

Then the birds were roughed in, all I could manage for the day.

Today, with the paint a bit set, I was able to come back in and start working on the details. At this point the birds are starting to develop personalities and the teacup is taking on it’s character. I’ll bring fresh eyes to it tomorrow, but it’s well on it way to being complete!

Mushroom Tea I (WIP)

This week before Halloween seems a good a time as any to begin work on my barn owl.  This bird, who goes by the name of Owlivia at the local Wildlife Education and Rehabilitation Center, is paired with an Aynsley teacup (circa 1939) filled with trumpet mushrooms. I love the woodland magic of this combination – now to try and do it some justice with paint!

Mushroom Tea I (WIP)  1 - Marie Cameron 2015

Loose sketch in oil.

Mushroom Tea I (WIP)  2 - Marie Cameron 2015

Loose dark background.

Mushroom Tea I (WIP)  3 - Marie Cameron 2015

Blocking in the owl.

Mushroom Tea I (WIP)  4 - Marie Cameron 2015


Mushroom Tea I (WIP)  5 - Marie Cameron 2015


Mushroom Tea I (WIP)  6 - Marie Cameron 2015

Blocking in the table, feet and mushroom perch.

more tomorrow ( I hope) … the chainsaws are coming….

Mushroom Tea I (WIP)  7 - Marie Cameron 2015

The chainsaws were only intermittent today and I was able to really start laying in some details in my owl and work on the appropriate background contrast to really make her glow. In the white of her face there are lots of other hues – lavenders, blues, greens, ochers and rusts. It’s these subtle variations on white that create depth and volume and vitality.

Chainsaws came back for a few days to finish off the oak so I wasn’t able to complete the painting but at least I have the owl standing on a mushroom now instead of a pair of oversized gulab jamuns!

Tulip Tea I (WIP)

Tulip Tea I (WIP) 1 - Marie Cameron 2015

I’ve begun a new bird & teacup piece. This time a Purple Finch (the only red bird I’ve shot) with a Coalport teacup paired with some vintage redwork embroidery, calico and red and white striped tulips. I start, as always with a loose, painting directly on the prepared board.

Tulip Tea I (WIP) 2 - Marie Cameron 2015

I really should have worked the background first but I decided to block in my reds instead.

Tulip Tea I (WIP) 3 - Marie Cameron 2015

Eager to see some tulip action I painted these in loosely as well, letting the pigment pull through the brush strokes.

Tulip Tea I (WIP) 4  -  Marie Cameron 2015

I was eager to see the finch too .

Tulip Tea I (WIP) 5 - Marie Cameron 2015

I worked on the teacup next, as it supports both the flowers and bird, I wanted to make sure they felt well integrated.

Tulip Tea I (WIP) 6 - Marie Cameron 2015

Dobbing in the foreground to feel where the shadows would fall.

Tulip Tea I (WIP) 7 - Marie Cameron 2015

Filling in the vintage linen embroidery backdrop I experimented with a crosshatched look.

Tulip Tea I (WIP) 8 - Marie Cameron 2015

Dropping the crosshatching, I tried more definition and a brighter backdrop.

Tulip Tea I (WIP) 9 - Marie Cameron 2015

Wanting a deeper shadow I try blocking in dome darks but the grays are all still too wet.

Tulip Tea I (WIP) 10 - Marie Cameron 2015

I end up wiping it off down to the initial sketch with a rag dampened with mineral spirits.

Tulip Tea I (WIP) 11 - Marie Cameron 2015

I begin to apply the darks in a more controlled way – a muddy mess is a nightmare!

More to come….

Tulip Tea I  - 12x12 inches - Oil on Board - Marie Cameron - 2015

Finished!  I’ve messed around with little details until the painting told me I was done.

Innocent Celibacy?

In a Victorian world where bachelors buttons signify male celibacy and daisies refer to innocence, a bouquet of both would leave you with innocent male celibacy. That’s quite a bundle for a little teacup yet here it is with this “Elizabethan” teacup from England – 1940s or 50s I’m guessing:

Bachelor Button, DaisyTea Reference 1 - photo Marie Cameron 2015


Bachelor Button, DaisyTea Reference 2 - photo Marie Cameron 2015


Bachelor Button, DaisyTea Reference 3 - photo Marie Cameron 2015


Bachelor Button, DaisyTea Reference 4 - photo Marie Cameron 2015


Brewing Mushroom Tea

Barn Owl W.E.R.C. Brewing up some mushroom magic in the studio!

It started with that gorgeous barn owl, “Owlivia” from  the Wildlife Education and Rehabilitation Center.  I knew I wanted to include her in my birds & teacups series so I took lots of pictures when I had the chance. Then I had to scout out a perfect teacup. I thought should be a in a woodland theme, maybe ferns or branches but when I saw the mushroom teacup by Aynsley of England (circa 1939 -) I knew I had found the perfect whimsical compliment to the owl. At first I arranged pink oyster mushrooms in the cup and while I love the color, I wanted to see what a stronger form would look like. In the end, I prefer the king oyster mushrooms which will help to make a more interesting composition.


Pink Mushroom Tea


Mushroom Teacup - Marie Cameron in studio


Mushroom Tea Reference


Mushroom Teacup Reference


Mushrooms showing some wear


Mushrooms turn out to be pretty fragile to  work with ….I ‘d better eat them up quickly!

Dog(wood) Days of Spring

Each week that passes brings on a glorious new wave of blooms – this week it’s the dogwood that’s caught my eye. I’m amazed by the variety in my very own neighborhood (sadly the white one I planted next to my studio isn’t blooming this year as it’s still struggling to get enough sun).

Dogwood - curly pink, blue sky- Marie Cameron 2015

Dogwood - curly pink - Marie Cameron 2015

Dogwood - creamy chartreuse - Marie Cameron 2015

Dogwood - white - Marie Cameron 2015

Dogwood - dark pink on blue- Marie Cameron 2015

Of course I do have a vintage teacup that had been begging for little dogwood bouquet, it’s tri-footed base is too wonky for tea anyway!

Dogwood Tea Photo 5 - Marie Cameron 2015

Dogwood Tea Photo 1 - Marie Cameron 2015

Dogwood Tea Photo 2 - Marie Cameron 2015

Dogwood Tea Photo 3 - Marie Cameron 2015

Dogwood Tea Photo 3 - Marie Cameron 2015

“Am I indifferent to thee?”, the dogwood symbolizes durability and endurance in the Victorian lexicon of flowers, because of it’s strong wood, said in Christian lore to be the wood used in the crucifixion with it’s bracts showing the nail holes at their tips and the crown of thorns at their center. How did it get that name? Some say it was because it’s bark was used to rid dogs of the mange. Others say it evolved from “dagwood” as daggers were made from this strong material. A lot of heavy symbolism to contrast against this delicate cup and bloom –  I wonder which bird seems suitable to add to the mix?

Dogwood Dark Pink - Marie Cameron 2015

Brewing Narcissus Tea

I can’t decide whether the stylized flower on this English Deco teacup by Royal Grafton is meant to be a narcissus or a daffodil but I think there is some wiggle room. I will shoot it both ways.  My favorite flower shop, Bunches, had nosegays of narcissus on two for one so that was the perfect place to start. Even as I write this post I am surrounded by the heady scent of spring!

Narcissus Tea Reference 1 Marie Cameron 2015


Narcissus Tea Reference 2 Marie Cameron 2015


Narcissus Tea Reference 4 Marie Cameron 2015


Narcissus Tea Reference 3 Marie Cameron 2015

Narcissus sends the Victorian message of formality, or “Stay as sweet as you are” conflicting  concepts I think! Let me know what you think – do you prefer the drama of the black background or the quaintness of the quilt?

White Crowned Sparrow - Marie Cameron 2014

I think I’ll pair up this teacup with this sweet White Crowned Sparrow. I have lots of photos of this little guy and his flock mates from the grounds of a local church and his markings seem to match perfectly! The bird says sweet, definitely not formal.