Saturday, March 10, 2018


In January I received the following email:

"Hi there Myrna, I am an A Level Art Student in the UK and I have felt very inspired by your mixed media drawing (particularly the image attached). I am planning a final piece based on it and completing a study on your work. I was just wondered where, or from whom, did you find your inspiration for this image and your other mixed media drawings/ paintings.
Many thanks, Chris Black"

How wonderful that the internet has made possible amazing connections across the world and across generations!  One of the advantages of age is experiencing the profound changes in the world and how we engage with each other and remaining in awe of what is possible today (not to mention the challenge of keeping up!) Art can be the common thread that brings us together at every age.

I was very flattered that Christian was interested in my art so I sent him information on the particular image he was wanting to study.  Fortunately for him, it was a piece I had lots of documentation on including a photo someone had taken while I was creating the piece on stage at Kanuga Art Retreat in North Carolina.   

The other day, Chris sent me an update on his project with images of the finished project. I received his permission to share with all of you the great job he did and the amazing final piece.   I hope you are able to view the photos and enlarge them so you can read the text that accompany his work.  

Chris Black UK art study

What I particularly appreciate about this image is that it is uniquely Chris.  He took from my work some ideas and inspiration and added it to his own ideas and made a very original piece of art.  
I hope that Chris will be able to make a trip to San Francisco some day and will look me up.  I would love to show him off and show him around.  

Saturday, February 17, 2018


I started this painting last Sunday as a demo for the Las Gatos Art Association.  It is watercolor over what I like to call reconstructed Tyvek.  I tear up old paintings that didn't go well that were painted on Tyvek and stick them down over other old painting "dogs" thus eliminating storage of two ugly works and salvaging the paper while creating a very intriguing surface to make a new start.   My oldest son was visiting from San Diego and was able to attend.  He always gives me such great feedback.  Sitting in the audience, he has a chance to see and hear what I cannot.  I always like to draw the image in front of the group so they will perhaps have more confidence in direct drawing rather than tracing or projecting an image.  It turns out no one in the audience could actually see what I had drawn so they were looking at what appeared to be a blank piece of paper for 15 minutes!!  I guess I will pre-draw the next one.   It's a shame but I need to keep the color light so I can easily make any necessary corrections.  The other good tip he gave me was to demonstrate the actual creation of reconstructed Tyvek instead of just describing it.   People were confused by my explanation, so my bad! 

I will be giving another demo for the Los Altos Art Club on Monday, March 12th and the Hillview Community Center at 7PM.  I hope some of you can stop by and see the new and improved performance!

I finished up the painting this week.  I normally use a muted neutral background color but red seemed to be calling to me.  Red is a color of emotion and power, perhaps anger and rage.  At the very least it is a color of strength.  Anger and impotent rage was the response I was feeling to the school shootings this past week and the political torture for the past year.  When I am painting. I am in the zone and the world drops away.  My unconscious emotions show up on the page.  Someone asked me to teach how I achieve the emotional content in my portraits.  I can't because it just shows up and there is no formula or technique.  That's why you need to paint what you love and your soul will show up, too.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018


When you do a series based on the same image, you know eventually something special is going to show up.  So every day you do something and most of the time it is ordinary.   I do try to push the envelope each time and explore something a little different.  Here I have elongated the face because my iPhone screen is long and narrow so my digital drawings needed to follow that format.   This is a painting I started today. The surface was a collage I had created a few years ago.  I liked it so much that I saved it for just the right image to place on top.  I thought this one would work.  I made sure that the papers showed through in the finished work.  Sometimes i wind up covering over the beautiful papers  and I hate when that happens.  You can click on the image to see it in better detail.

Here are the digital images I had fun with this week.  The first one is using a script for the continuous line. 

Saturday, January 13, 2018


Every year around December, I take some quiet time to contemplate what I would like to focus on for the coming year.   I consider all aspects of my life.  this helps me to focus and set some concrete action plans to move forward.  Art is a major activity in my life and I have found by limiting my activity to a few ideas, I actually expand my growth and accomplish more than just drifting along with no direction.

Lately I have discovered some exciting artists who have ideas I want to incorporate into my work.  They work in mixed media and in abstract ways.  These are areas I wish to grow my knowledge.   Of course, for me, drawing and portraiture will be part of the mix.  Robyn Mcclendon is one of the artists I have been watching on YouTube videos .   She has been doing a 365 day practice for a number of years now.  She has inspired me to do a daily practice for the coming year.  So far, I have not missed a day!!!!  Maybe it is a little early to celebrate!

Jane Davies is the other artist I absolutely love!!   I have signed up to take an on-line course with her starting in February.  This will be an interesting adventure.  

This is the image I have decided to concentrate on for the coming year.  I have a few variations if I run out of steam.  It is an image of my son that I love and have done several major paintings based on this image.  It continues to be a favorite.   I am calling it Man of the Year.  I have decided to do a drawing a day for the year.  I am convinced that daily practice will produce great rewards.  The last time I did a years' worth of drawings was perhaps my most productive, so I am counting on this practice to fulfill my goals   The other goal I wish to pursue is doing a small abstract collage each day.  I can only accomplish the collage on the days I am in my studio.  So far I have combined the daily drawing with the collage when in the studio.  The best part of this daily project is being able to take a few minutes at the end of the day and do a quick drawing with my finger on my iPhone if I need to accomplish my goal.  It makes it a "no excuses" goal.  

Here are the collage and drawing combos I have done so far.

Here are the digital images done on my iPad Pro with a stylus 

And last are my end of the day, little finger drawings done on my iPhone.

Sunday, October 29, 2017


This is where we left off on the last post.  I decided it needed a unifying tone, so I collaged a single sheet of tan tissue over the entire painting.  The second benefit is that I now have a surface that will take watercolor especially the wax paper with gesso on it.  I wanted to use watercolor for the transparent quality so I wouldn't lose the collage details.   

I added white gesso using a q-tip cotton swab for the highlighted areas. A little lumpy and clumsy but not too bad.

tool using ink.  I decided to try theI started to add color using watercolor sticks and then blending them out with several items.  I started with a makeup sponge but wasn't overly happy.   I saw a video where someone had used a tampon as a non-traditional mark making m out.  They make great blending tools and a way to apply even color over a large area.  What a great discovery!

The hands are very problematic!   The original collage paper is too dark and throwing off the values I need.  Using my finger, I applied more gesso to the hands giving me a better surface to add back color and make some subtle improvements on the drawing .

I thought I was finished but every time I photograph the work something jumps out at me that didn't register before.  Time for fine tuning!  The yellow behind the head on the left too strong and the white on the collar is the brightest spot on the page making it the focal point.  

I toned the entire background with quin it's too yellow.  Neutralized it with the compliment of purple, much better.  This has darkened the background, making the light shape on the right drawing too much attention.  Fixed that problem, toned down the color and called it a day!

Here is the finished painting.  I found it impossible to photograph the color accurately in the studio.  I will have to take it outside to get away from artificial light.  

Just for fun here is the painting after the first start so you can see them side by side.

Sunday, October 22, 2017


This layer is collage, acrylic ink drawing and sponge roller painting.   Still not satisfying.

I added more collage papers including some gesso texture on waxed paper.  I was never sure if I could successfully collage waxed paper but it seems to work out okay.   Looking better.  I think a layer of tan tissue I collected for a dress shop might unify the image, but first I need to get my drawing back.

 I added more ink drawing done with a balsa wood stick.    Tomorrow, after tissue paper,  I will add some acrylic using my fingers.  Bought some thin latex type gloves so my hands won't be a disaster.  Finger painting will be lots of fun!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017



I am excited about creating some new paintings to illustrate my latest workshop: Variatons 2.0.  In the original Variations workshop we changed the image using the Elements ofArt.   In this Variations workshop we are going to change the image by changing other ingredients such as surface, tools, emphasis and format. Any change will result in a new direction so chnaging things up adds exciement and discovery to your work.

For me, the first step is simplification.  I start with a detailed drawing from a photograph.  In this case I used a mechanical #2 lead pencil.  Then I put the photograph away and work from my drawing.   I like to draw with ink, over and over as I become familiar with my subject.  Putting in every detail is easy, a no brainer.  Simplification is difficult.   One has to make decisions and search out the most important aspects of the image that communicate your message to the viewer.


 A quick way to get to the essence of the image is to draw with a mop string dipped in ink.   Fussy details are impossible with this drawing method.  I started out with the full image.  I wanted to hone in on some of the details like the head and hands so I did separate drawings of these elements.

  I found a feather in my collection of drawing materials and decided to see what kind of line I could get with the feather dipped in ink.   Then left handed drawing.  I now appreciate the difficulty of writing if you are left handed.  It seemed I was getting in my own way.  The feather was very interesting.  It will take lots of practice but I think it has promisse as an interesting tool.




  Tried using an eyedropper and then my "Oiler Boiler" needle bottle.  Tried both dominant right hand and awkward non-dominant left hand mostly continuous line drrawing.  I use newsprint sheets because they are large, cheap and I was able to purchase a ream of them.   Along the way, I decided the most important aspects of this image for me are pose, interlocked fingers of the hand, suspenders, eyebrows strong creases by side of nose and mouth and the chin.





A few more simplification drawings down to the bare essence and then I am ready to start a painting!

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