Tulip Tea Tryouts

The sun broke through just long enough to shoot tulips in a teacup today.

Tulip Tea Reference - Marie Cameron 2015


Tulip Tea Reference 6 - Marie Cameron 2015


Tulip Tea Reference 5 - Marie Cameron 2015


Tulip Tea Reference 3 - Marie Cameron 2015


Tulip Tea Reference 7 - Marie Cameron 2015


Tulip Tea Reference 4 - Marie Cameron 2015

I love these little teacups made in Occupied Japan, they’re hand painted with such vibrant colors and the flowers are so playfully stylized. Look for more coming up (when their flowers are finally in season).

Now what kind of bird?  Here are some from my archives, though I don’t know…

4 birds - Marie Cameron

Does it help to know that the tulip symbolizes “perfect lover” and “fame”? Perhaps not, I’ll have to think on it.



Lately I’ve gone from painting dead birds to live ones!

My teacup birds, while quite whimsical in concept, are a really about putting some life into the still life genre.  I love the layers of artifice that go into these pieces, There’s the teacup artist’s interpretation of a flower and then my re-interpretation of that as well as my careful observation of the real flowers in their corresponding teacup that I’ve arranged in the low afternoon sun that comes streaming in my studio windows.

Then I coax a bird to land on my vignette while I snap a picture. Yes, I wish. I must rely on my growing collection of photos that I take myself as well as some other photo references which I combine with my own work and obscure beyond any point of possible copyright infringement.  I need to invest in some more feeders – but I’m not beyond stalking the neighbor’s feeders. I find mornings are best! Although I’ve paused while writing this to take shots of junkos with my telephoto out here on the patio with my feet up on the fire pit and my laptop on my lap! Now if that humming bird will just come back for my pommegranate blossoms – no such luck!

Here are some of my better birding moments, not all teacup appropriate, but you never know…

Spotted Towhee (male) - photo Marie Cameron 2014

Spotted Towhee – Los Gatos

Purple House Finch (male and female) - photo Marie Cameron 2013

Purple House Finch – Carpinteria

Oregon Junko (male) - photo Marie Cameron 2014

Oregon Junko – Los Gatos

Lesser Goldfinch (male) - photo Marie Cameron 2014

Lesser Goldfinch (male) – Los Gatos

Lesser Goldfinch (female) - photo Marie Cameron 2014

Lesser Goldfinch (female) – Los Gatos

Anna's Hummingbird  - photo Marie Cameron 2013

Anna’s Hummingbird – Los Gatos

Stellar's Jay - photo Marie Cameron 2014

Steller’s Jay – Los Gatos

Starling and Cherry Blossoms - photo Marie Cameron 2013

Starling- Santa Cruz

Gulls by the Bay Bridge - photo Marie Cameron 2014

Seagulls – San Francisco

Sulphur Crested Cockatoo - photo Marie Cameron 2013

Sulphur Crested Cockatoo – Santa Barbara

Black Swan - photo Marie Cameron 2014

Black Swan – Santa Barbara

Peacock - photo Marie Cameron 2012

Peacock – Cupertino

Albino Peacock - photo Marie Cameron 2014

Albino Peacock – Ayelsford

Flamingo - photo Marie Cameron

Flamingo – Oakland





Bloom is on!

It’s that time of the year for my annual fix. My favorite rose is blooming in my friend Nilofer’s garden! It’s a David Austen climbing rose called Eden (rosa x meiviolin) Meiviolin was developed by Meilland.

Nilofer's Garden 6 - Marie Cameron 2014


Nilofer's Garden 7 - Marie Cameron 2014


Nilofer's Garden 8 - Marie Cameron 2014


These roses are perfect with their porcelain exterior petals and the crush of magenta petals at it’s center…

Nilofer's Garden 4 - Marie Cameron 2014


Nilofer's Garden  9 - Marie Cameron - 2014


Nilofer's Garden 2 - Marie Cameron 2014


Nilofer's Garden 3 - Marie Cameron 2014


Nilofer's Garden 10 Marie Cameron 2014

….which unfolds into a heavy pink cup.

A client who had purchased a paintings inspired by these roses for his girlfriend said that he could see women in these rose bud and blooms – I told him that’s how we saw ourselves too!

Mr. Katayama’s Peonies

I received a lovely gift from a friend. Her father was a well loved gardener and upon his passing she found homes for many of the beautiful plants he had tenderly cared for. Not only do I have several of his beauty berry bushes and white tree peonies, but this glorious purple tree peony. I send my friend a photo of it blooming every year. What I really want is to do a painting for her.  To that end I’ve been shooting it to see what I come up with as reference material – some of them stand up quite well as purely photographs.  I’ve put them together here to see which ones she would prefer to have translated into a painting.

Mr Katayama's Peony 3 - Marie Cameron - 2014


Mr Katayama's Peony 1 - Marie Cameron - 2014


Mr Katayama's Peony 2 - Marie Cameron - 2014


Mr Katayama's Peony 4 - Marie Cameron - 2014


Mr Katayama's Peony 10 - Marie Cameron - 2014


Above are very traditional ways of handling florals. A bloom in a vase allows you to isolate the form more clearly and the vase can provide a secondary subject matter as well as a base for the flower. I could envision loosing the vase entirely in the image directly above and continuing on with the grey patterned background in a drippy, painterly way.

The images below do obscure the vase and are shot from angles less typically used for paintings but are well suited for photography. These shots are more about light and lines and form and less a “portrait” of the flower and opens the door to elements of abstraction and it is fine that these flowers seem to be floating in space.

Mr Katayama's Peony 9 - Marie Cameron - 2014


Mr Katayama's Peony 5 - Marie Cameron - 2014


Mr Katayama's Peony 7 - Marie Cameron - 2014


Mr Katayama's Peony 6 - Marie Cameron - 2014


Both groups would work well for a painting, I think it’s a matter of traditional or contemporary taste. What do you think?



Oh how I love a winter landscape, the branches heavily laden with snow, ice crystals sparkling in the sun! Kirkwood has been such a winter wonderland in the past but not over New Year’s. Some slopes were open but I’m really more of a cross-country girl and I didn’t relish the thought of dodging all the dog poop to line up enough patches of the slushy white stuff to make a run of it. Instead I turned my attention to the out-of-commission snowplows and found some interesting details. Call me bored or desperate but I think the bold, wasp-like coloring, the animal references and the graphic patterns and weathered textures were an intriguing surprise.

Snowplow detail - rust and silver, Marie Cameron 2014Snowplow details - John Deer, Marie Cameron 2014Snowplow detail - rust pattern, Marie Cameron 2014Snowplow detail - Pipe Dragon, Marie Cameron 2014Snowplow - tread 4, Marie Cameon 2014Snowplow detail - plow, Marie Cameron 2014Snowplow detail - Cat, Marie Cameron 2014



Open Door

Open a door and nature will follow.

Buck under Arbor- Marie Cameron - 2013

My studio overlooks a beautiful ravine and while I love living close to nature I also love my roses so I have a jasmine covered fence which keeps the “wilderness” both in view and at bay. This way I can watch the deer take afternoon naps as I work or I can watch them romping past in the evening.  Occasionally I’m careless and I leave the gate open or I underestimate the persistence of wildlife and I get a visit that’s close up and personal. I only regret these visits if I don’t have my camera in hand!

Buck with Ball - Marie Cameron - 2013

This visitor was a Columbian black-tailed deer, as opposed to the California mule deer which are also native to our area. He came with a doe but she was much more camera shy.

Backyard Buck - Marie Cameron - 2013

This young buck is so lovely,  You can see the blue reflection of the sky and the green of the leaves in his antlers, a detail I wouldn’t have imagined without this close observation.

Buck's Ears - Marie Cameron 2013

Likewise, I could not have imagined his  illuminated whiskers and backlit, translucent pink ears with their delicate red veins. All really superb reference material for paintings!

I must remember to keep the door wide open more often!

Inner Wonder Woman

Vintage Shell Lady Secret Wonder Woman Wannabe photo Marie Cameorn 2012

Vintage shell lady is a secret Wonder Woman wannabe! Photo Marie Cameron 2012.

I guess I have a thing for Wonder Woman too.  I had taken a photograph of this street art image of her in San Francisco in the late 90s and had cropped it down to the minimal essentials of the portrait, the eyes and the crown – stopping  just before it would have crossed over to abstraction. It’s a tiny image in a small frame and I think it has some of the same qualities of a reliquary, something you might meditate on to remind you of a higher power. In the face of all I need to do in a day (today it was crawling about the roof cleaning out the rain gutters before the storm and getting off an international painting shipment) I feel the need to tap into my inner Wonder Woman. I’ll take a pass on the metal bra but I sure could use the magic lasso and, what to you know, I’m already wearing the red boots!

Wonder Woman Cropped Street Art -  photo MarieCameron 2012

Wonder Woman street art as religious reliquary. Photo Marie Cameron 2012.