Monday, April 20, 2015


Add caption

Christopher "Topher" Schink and Skip Lawrence publish (through Cheap Joe's Art Supplies) a very informative and exciting magazine, called The Palette Magazine.   It has been one of my favorite publications for years.  Early this year I had great fun doing a three artist demo in Santa Rosa, Ca. with the impressive Mr. Topher  Schink and David Lobenberg who is a fabulous watercolor portrait artist from Sacramento.  The latest issue of The Palette Magazine has sequenced photos of each of our interpretations of the model, along with some additional information about each of us.  I knew about the article, but imagine my surprise when I finally received my copy in the mail and saw my self on the cover!  

If you don't already subscribe to The Palette Magazine, you are missing out.  You can order it through Cheap Joe's website.  Worth every penny.  I always read it cover to cover as soon as it arrives.  There is a very intriguing process for mono printing described in this issue  which I can't wait to try.  

I have updated my workshop schedule, so check it out.  If you are local to the San Francisco Bay area,  I will be participating in another 3 person portrait demo for the Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society with Topher Schink and Mike Bailey.  It will be at the Los Altos Town Hall on Saturday, July 18th.  It's going to be a fun event.  I hope many of you can join us!   

Saturday, April 18, 2015


As technology changes at the speed of light, it can be challenging to keep up.  On the other hand, we,  are able to do amazing things with just a little knowledge and practice.  The best part is we don't have to know the science behind the wizardry!!!!

I have been an Apple lover for years.  Working at home without an IT Department, I had to be able to figure things out pretty much on my own.  Thank G-d for my kids and grandkids who can help me out when I get into trouble, but the intuitive nature of the Apple products have served me very well.  I finally broke down and bought an iPhone 6 Plus because the screen was finally big enough for me to see stuff on it and the keys were big enough for me to hit the right one the first time!  I don't need to have my phone glued to my body at all times, so the larger size works just fine for me.  The biggest surprise to me was the camera in the phone.  I still can't get over the color accuracy.  It is spot on and I no longer have to adjust the color when I photograph my art work.  With all my other cameras I struggled to get the color on the screen and in a print out to look like the original.  Boy, those days are happily gone.   So, since I had a nice camera in my phone I decided to invest a little in a few extras.  I bought one of those extension sticks, thinking I could take some unusual angles.  That came with an attachable tripod.  I also bought a small table top tripod for the phone and some attachable lenses.  Since so much of my work involves working from a photograph, I wanted to expand my possibilities without spending a fortune on extra equipment.  I downloaded an app called CAMERA PLUS, which turned out to be one of the best moves I could have made... and here is why....

I like to enter competitions where the acceptance requires that you provide camera ready art for the publication.  I never had the equipment or technical skill to take that kind of photograph and hired a professional photographer to do it for me.  Sometimes the painting was already framed and twice it was in a national show and wouldn't be back before the deadline for submitting the photo to the publication.  Lucky for me, those two times the paintings were local and I was able to solve the problem but lots of added stress.  I never professionally photographed my work "just in case" because of the expense.  Enter the iPhone 6 with an 8 megapixel camera.  In the Camera Plus app there is a setting where you take the photo at the full 8 megapixels in tiff format which means there is no compression.  I put the phone/camera on the tripod for steadiness and attached the ear buds which will act as a shutter release by clicking the volume control on the cord.  Now I can take my own professional photographs and I don't need special lighting, a high end digital camera or any advanced photographic expertise....the new technology does it all for me.

The image above is the result of my first professional photo adventure.  It looks slightly distorted here because it is a much higher resolution than the blog is designed for, but,  I wanted to show you an example.

With my tripod and "selfie stick" I am going to experiment with the video capabilities in the phone and try creating some small videos of different techniques.  What technologic discoveries have you made that have enhanced your art making abilities?  Please share.  We learn and grow from each other.

Friday, March 20, 2015


It seems like life gets in the way of making art sometimes.  I finally have a finished painting under my belt for the first time in awhile.   I covered over an old painting that reminded me of a Picasso style, so I was inspired to collage down some images of a number of Picasso paintings I had in my files.  There was a rather large image where the face is now and one of the eyes was exactly between the two on this face.  Even Picasso didn't put a third eye in.  The face became more opaque as I endeavored to cover it over.  I do like combining painting and drawing/mark making in a painting.  I think I want to do a few more in this style.  Now to find a title.  I am considering: "Night At the Museum" and "Channeling Picasso".  If you would like to weigh in with an opinion or an idea for a title, I would love to hear from you!

I will be jurying the International Society of Acrylic Painters annual show to be exhibited in Paso Robles, Ca. this year.  I am also going to be giving a workshop in Paso Robles from July 27th to July 31st which coincides with the opening of the show.  There is only space for 12 participants in the workshop, so if you are interested, contact Sasha Irving at:

Sasha Irving
1130 Pine Street
P.O. Box 3000
Paso Robles, CA 93447


Saturday, February 7, 2015


My wonderful friend, Bonnie Crosse received a grant for the Oakmont Art Association in Santa Rosa, California, to put on a wonderful program for the community.  

Yesterday, three figurative artists spent two hours painting a wonderful model, complete with a parrot, while a very attentive large crowd watched, asked questions and mingled during the model breaks.  Topher Schink lives in Santa Rose and was very instrumental in helping the committee to formulate the program and share his extensive experience in performing these multiple artist demos.  David Lobenberg came from Sacramento and I drove up from the SF Peninsula and the three of us had a ball painting.  After a break for lunch, we each spent about 20 minutes each giving a powerpoint presentation on our influences, history and current directions of our art.  It was unplanned, but it turns out each of us tend to focus on different elements of art.   Topher Schink is all about Shapes abstracted in a geometric fashion.  The elements that I am most passionate about are Texture and Line.  David emphasizes Value and Color utilizing the innate value of the color in his vibrant portraits.  It was a little intimidating to be flanked by such talented, experienced painters.  It wasn't a competition but one always worries that they don't mess up.   

The whole event was filmed while they projected on a large screen what each of us was doing.  I was focused on my painting but my husband said they moved from artist to artist and stayed with each of us for a while, so everyone could see how we were progressing as we worked.  Because of the setup, my station was directly in from of the model and we needed to work upright for the camera.  Since I normally work much flatter, this was an interesting challenge in my process.  My board blocked my view of the model and I couldn't turn the easel sideways for me to see her or the camera couldn't pick up what I was doing .   I took a photo of the model in the beginning and worked from that image most of the time.  There is always a work-a-round for every challenge.

It was a wonderful day of sharing our passion for art with lots of folks who share the same passion!  

Here are the finished paintings from each of us.  

Christopher Schink

David Lobenberg

Myrna Wacknov

The Pose

Saturday, January 10, 2015



I just received word that this painting has been accepted into the 2015 American Watercolor Society exhibition at the Salmagundi Club in New York City this April.  I am always honored and surprised to be included as this competition has so many fabulous entries.  I don't know how the judges manage to make their decisions.  This painting is a 22 x 30 full sheet of watercolor paper with a very textural gesso surface.  If you find yourself in New York during the exhibit, be sure and make the time to see the show.  It is always one of the very best, if not the best, in the country.  I love being able to get nose to plexi to see how things are done!

Monday, December 29, 2014



What a wonderful way to finish up the year...I just received an email today that this painting will be in the Incite 3 book which is a series like Splash but featuring mixed media work.     I have to photograph the work before January 16th.  Fortunately, the painting is going to be in the CWA National exhibition which is local to me, so I can make the deadline with the generous cooperation of a few people involved in the exhibition.  After reading the photography requirements, I am going to do it myself with my new iPhone 6 plus.  It has 8 megapixels capability and amazingly color accuracy.  I downloaded a great app called Camera+ which allows me to control the settings with more sophistication.  

In my last post, I promised to publish my artistic goals for 2015.  It is only a goal if you write it down.  Keeping it in your head doesn't count!  As I have mentioned on numerous occasions, I try to focus on a limited number of aspects and explore as many of the variations as I can come up with.  So here is what I have decided to work with for 2015: 

1.  Explore mono-printing.  I have done some in the past year or two but I want to be able to "visualize" the result in advance and not have everything be a lucky accident or a total surprise.  
It will just take lots and lots of "doing" for me to get some predictability.  The great thing about collage papers is they all can be used in some way or another, so no fear of messing up or wasting supplies.  Some of the papers will be incorporated into my portraits and others will inspire me in new directions.  

2.  I am a book-a-holic!  This year, I am going to take one book, 80@80, the Paintings of Michael Morgan, and study his texture techniques (there is no description in the book how he does it, so it will be hit and miss, trial and error) his color schemes, compositions and value patterns.  Michael Morgan is an English landscape painter and it will be interesting to see how I can translate into portraiture what I glean from his work.  The color schemes, compositions and value patterns will show up in the mono prints.  

3.  I want to have more than one image in each painting.  I have been collecting different ideas for this idea on Pinterest.  You can see what I have so far to inspire me on the board "Double Exposure"

4.  I plan to explore the idea of partially obscured imagery that I am calling "Lost and Found" for lack of a better description.  Again, Pinterest has been very helpful as a place to collect inspiration.

5.   The last focus for the coming year will be to consciously create an 80%/20% contrast dominance 
with the various elements in the painting.  

I hope this gives all of  you some inspiration to devise your own set of challenges for the coming year.  I would love to hear what ideas you will be working on.  Be sure and share.

Thank you all for your generous support of my efforts this past year through your comments on my blog.  I hope everyone has a healthy, creative and joyous new year!

Sunday, December 14, 2014


Well, I decided to do a second painting of this pose and then choose which one I was going to exchange with another artist for his painting.  This one is just textured gesso on paper, no collage.  I tried to get the same gesso texture as the last painting and couldn't do it.   I used Dr. Ph Martin's Hydrus for the watercolor.  I do like how a gesso surface takes the paint and releases the paint! Now I have to decide which version to keep and which to send.  This one is much more traditional in approach.

Aside from working on this painting, I have been experimenting with the camera in my new iPhone 6+.   I have been practicing stealth photography while out for walks and am getting better at positioning the camera without looking at the screen.  You can release the shutter using the volume control buttons on the side or  the volume controls on the ear buds, if they are plugged in and you don't have iTunes on.  This image was taken with the iPhone camera and it seems to be more color accurate than my other camera.  I didn't have to make any adjustments at all!  I am impressed!  I ordered an extension rod that also becomes a tall tripod.  I am hoping to be able to take some images with unusual perspectives with this extension and also use the video feature on the phone using the tripod for filming some of my paintings in progress.  My new photo accessories will come just in time for my next series of paintings.  

It's that time of year to write down my objectives for creating work in the coming year.  I try to focus on no more than five different areas and then do as many variations of these ideas as I can come up with.  Limiting your choices helps your mind to be more creative with what is available.  If you allow everything to be available, then one tends to go to the tried and true. safe and easy.  Chuck Close says an artist needs to create a problem and then solve it.  This is my way of creating a problem.

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