Thursday, October 30, 2008


I am back to working on my variations of the Frenchman. I didn't have time to explore shape this month so I am going to continue with Shape as a dominant element for November. I have written down different ideas for modifying shape and this is one I have wanted to try for awhile. The first photo shows how I created a grid to elongate the image and then drew it freehand after I saw how the shapes changed. Then I drew it with my oiler-boiler onto the paper. It becomes more exaggerated every time I draw him!

This is the paper I won from the self-portrait competition. I was anxious to try straight watercolor on it. The name of the paper is Stonehenge. I think it is mainly a paper used for printing but does accept watercolor. It has a hot press finish and it seems like each brushstroke shows. I tried mingling color in a wet wash but that technique wasn't great on this paper. I think glazing works better. If I work with this paper I think I will get better at a la prima technique where I need to be more decisive and purposeful with each brushstroke. This paper will also be great for collage and stamping. I can always coat it with Gesso or Matte Medium, too.

I think the image is fun, a little unusual in the color department. Part of it became too neutralized. I am hoping to try it again tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Museum by

This afternoon I received an e-mail informing me that out of 3,300 entries, my painting "Reflections on turning 65" has made the cut and I am a semi-finalist in the National Portrait Gallery competition. I was totally overwhelmed with the news! Who knew turning 65 would be such a wonderful event. To think I wasn't even looking forward to it.

They will pack, insure and ship the painting to Washington, DC for the final judging which doesn't take place until May, 2009. The opening of the exhibition is October 23rd, 2009. I am trying to find a balance between positive thinking and not being too overly confident so I won't be crushed if I don't make the final cut. Out of the 100 semi finalists, about 70 will be in the exhibit. I think I will print out the image of the painting in the museum and hang it somewhere in the house so I can continue to VISUALIZE MY PAINTING IN THE MUSEUM!

In the meantime, I think I should get busy on my next painting "I wish I was 65 Again"

Monday, October 27, 2008


As you can see from the photos we had a glorious sunny day yesterday for the reception and awards ceremony for the SCVWS annual show. This is an amazing group of painters so the show is always very competitive and exciting. I will post a link when the photos of the winning paintings are up on their website. In the meantime, I was privileged to win a sponsor award so i get to go shopping at my favorite art supply store, Accent Arts in Palo Alto! I just received the new winter sale catalog from Daniel Smith with an exciting article on painting Japanese papers with watercolor and then creating a collage painting with them. I think I will get some Japanese papers and try this idea. I loved the article and it was step by step and very easy to follow. Naturally, I will be doing my version of the Frenchman in this technique.

Preston Metcalf, the assistant curator of the Triton Museum in Santa Clara, was the judge of the show. It is unusual to have a judge of such impressive credentials. I have a painting I did of him that I considered entering in the show but I didn't want to "surprise" him, not to mention eliminate any chance of winning an award. You can't really give your own face a prize without looking biased. His portrait is one of three slides I submitted for the annual CWA show. You never know. Preston could be on display in the Bay Area, after all. He is a very charming gentleman and has a very expressive face. The last set of photos I took of him were indoors with no real strong shadow pattern. They displayed such a wide range of expressions that I use them for my Advanced Watercolor Portrait Workshop when we work on expressions. Yesterday I took some additional photos out in the sunshine. Now I have a great shadow pattern to compliment the first set of photos.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


After a great week in Ocean Shores, I am back home and in the full swing of things. Today, Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society had their opening reception for the annual show.

Tomorrow I will post more about that, but tonight I want to share a slide show of the final two days of the workshop with everyone. I was so impressed with how much progress everyone made from their first painting to the second and third! Everyone got at least a good headstart on their paintings. We only have one day for the profile from conception to drawing to finish and the same for the child, so most are working faster than normal. It was a great group and I really enjoyed getting to know and work with everyone.

Here is my final demo...TaDa! another self portrait! I just get younger and younger. Also the group photo. We set up my gorilla pod tripod on a chair back and then lifted the chair and set it on a table . Good thing Jeff is over 6 feet tall because I couldn't tell what was in the viewfinder! He got us lined up and then put the self timer on. Worked like a charm.

Enjoy the slide show.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Visualizing The National Portrait Gallery

Museum by

Isn't this cool!!!!!! Check out this website where you can put one of your paintings in a museum setting. I believe in visualization, so I thought I would "picture" success.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


I can't believe how fast the week is flying by. Today was the lesson for creating paintings featuring the profile. Everyone has really got the drawing part down. I was amazed how quickly the accuracy has showed up! My latest fine tuning of the workshop is paying off. Here is my demo on Tyvek with the Dr.Martin's Hydrus watercolors. Another self portrait. Haven't done my profile before. It's interesting to do your own because we almost never view ourselves in profile. I think I did a little rinoplasty here. It was painless.

The room we are working in is a conference room so they have one of those white boards with a bulletin board on either side. It makes it nice to be able to put up reference material for the class. They also had one of those long baton like pointers. That was fun!

Tomorrow is infants and children. I will create a slide show from all the paintings


Here are the two paintings I have done for demos this workshop. The first one is Bill the Housepainter. I floated random color on the paper and let it dry. Then I applied two coats of diluted matte medium and finally I tried something new, Aqua Pasto. It is a thick gel like substance that creates some interesting texture. I put the Aqua Pasto in the hair, beard stubble and some in the upper left of the background. When all this was dry, I painted my image. I really like the textural effects with this new stuff. I will be experimenting again with this item.

I decided to do a quick little painting of Morris to demonstrate painting on Tyvek. He just has the perfect face to play around with.

The weather and the people here in Ocean Shores couldn't be nicer!

Monday, October 20, 2008


This is Morris Ellis, an artist that I photographed (with his knowledge and permission!) at a major art show. His hat and beard were so interesting to me that I used him as my demo for about 5 different workshops. I started using other faces but Morris has a special place in my heart. Here are 3 of the 5 paintings. I never photographed the other two. I will take care of that when I return home.

We had a great first day today. Everyone is working quickly and really doing a great job. Jerry and I spent the evening tonight at Peggy Stermer-Cox's home. It was exciting to meet in person someone I met on line. She and her husband were great hosts and we had a very lively discussion over a delicious dinner. You would not believe that this petite 4 foot 10 woman has spent 20 years in the military and has done 5 parachute jumps and rappelled out of a helicopter! We were really impressed. It was wonderful to be able to see her unique and beautiful paintings in person. Things always look even better in person. Peggy is really a special person and artist. Check our her blog and website.

What an adventure this art path has become.

Friday, October 17, 2008


We had the most beautiful drive from Portland, Oregon to Ocean Shores, Washington, this afternoon. The trees are turning so we had a fall foliage tour. Not much fall color in our neighborhood in California so I was thrilled.

The staff at The Polynesian Resort is so friendly and are bending over backwards to accommodate the workshop. We have a huge conference room to work in and everyone will get their own table...unheard of! Our private accommodation has the most incredible view with the ocean off a little in the distance. I have posted a photo I took from the balcony.

I often have groups fill out an evaluation sheet after my workshops to help me fine tune it. I am receiving so many nice comments from some of the participants in the Oakland group so I thought I would share one here. Not having any formal training as a teacher, I especially appreciate feedback from those who do.

" We are a very special group, who have come to love and support each other, and cherish our differences, but this can be challenging for a teacher. I am a retired educator and psychotherapist, and I know both good teaching, and good handling of people. You are tops, as well as fun. Keep it up!"

Thursday, October 16, 2008


When I was in French class in high school, Stephanie Alexander (now Hamil) sat behind me. Stephanie is very tall and could look over my shoulder. She had her book open and would tell me when I had misspelled a word or made a mistake (unsolicited advice) Now we are grandmothers!!! What's up with that? This is her adorable grandbaby. I used this photo as my inspiration for the last demo in the workshop which was about infants and small children. I haven't had the time to fine tune this little painting. I need to soften the chin and warm up the backside area. Next time I will use manganese or cerulean blue instead of Thalo for the initial drawing. The lines stayed a little too strong. This is on traditional 140lb Arches paper with traditional watercolors. I drew the image with my #4 lizard's lick brush from Cheap Joe's.

I think everyone was especially into this subject matter. You can see their love for the subject in the finished paintings. Keep in mind everyone drew their images freehand (no tracing allowed) and then did the painting in a few hours. Pretty impressive! Below is the final slide show of this workshop with the group photo included. I look forward to returning again sometime in the future.

Saturday I fly off to Portland, spend the night and have a great visit with another life-long friend, and then a drive to Ocean Shores, Washington on Sunday for next week's workshop. I am looking forward to a change of scene and being right on the Pacific Coast and meeting some great new people. It is really fun meeting people who have become friends through the internet and blog world. I will be traveling with my computer, so I will try and share as we go.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


This is the demonstration I did for our second view of the head in the workshop: The Profile. I think this may be the fastest painting of this size (18 x 24) I can remember doing. I would have worked on it longer but it seemed complete to me. It's soooo hard to quit while you are ahead (no pun intended there). The tendency is to fuss and fuss with it. I am finding less is more. More and more of the time. I drew this very quickly with my oiler-boiler filled with diluted thalo blue the night before and painted it in 20 minutes on Thursday morning to start out the class day. It is on gessoed paper using traditional watercolors. I just love the texture that shows up when the paper has gesso on it.

Here is the student profile slide show. ENJOY!

Monday, October 13, 2008


I have made a slide show of the first paintings from the workshop. Some are completed, others are on their way. Everyone is pushing themselves outside their confort zone and are having great success! Tomorrow we start on the profile view painting. We cover tons of material and work fast. I worked on the portrait of Jerry. I shortened the beard and strengthened the color. I struggled with the right eye area. Not sure if it is resolved but I need to move on right now.

I have a bunch of started demos. Next month I think I will take them all out and finish them up.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


I spent the morning painting. Sometimes, you just have to set priorities. As you can see, I started out drawing the SHAPES with my vis-a-vis pen onto a square canvas that I covered with hand painted collage paper and stained Indian Red (I was covering up a very ugly painting) I finished up with a painting I wouldn't describe as a dominant shape image. I will count it as shape since I started with shapes. I guess I really like broken color and lost edges. The other problem was the brushes I was using didn't create crisp edges. I probably would need to use good quality for that kind of precision. I avoid my best brushes with acrylic so as not to ruin then accidentally. Lame excuses, I know, but I have to put the blame somewhere!

Had fun, learned some things and had a productive morning. That's what it is all about.

Tomorrow I continue with my workshop. We will do day 3, 4 and 5 this week. Keep sending in your Frenchman Shape paintings. I have received some great ones and will create a slide show on Friday before I leave for Ocean Shores.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


It seems my life is full of wonderful art related activities but I don't seem to be getting much painting done! Today was very inspiring, however, so tomorrow I am determined to get paint to canvas. I am doing my next Frenchman - shape painting on a canvas!

First I went at noon to deliver my painting for the Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society annual show. They take the paintings directly into the Rose Shensen Gallery so it is impossible to get a look at anything. Very sneaky, these people. Friday I will get to see the show. Considering you don't have to be juried in, the quality of the show is always amazing. This group has a very talented membership.

Afterwards, my husband and I took off for Santa Cruz to attend Mike Bailey's Open Studio event. Today was the first day of a two weekend showing. Mike does such an amazing job of displaying his work plus his studio is to kill for so I thought I would take some photos and share with everyone. I start out with a photo of Mike and his adorable wife, Diana. Everyone should have such a supportive person in their life around their art. The back patio had 4 or 5 bins of matted paintings plus the fence that goes the length of the house and the tented part you can see. The dining room had screens set up with black draping and unframed small oils on the table with a few empty frames just the right size to "try out". He has built a temporary lighting frame for the ceiling. Access to the studio was from the back yard. Be sure and check out the sign above the brushes telling "the truth". I had a chance to sloooooowly browse through a new book by Nita Leland on color (Mike has 3 paintings in the book) that is so exciting, I can't wait to order it and use it in my own work and teaching.


Tuesday, October 7, 2008


The day flies by when I am teaching. It is so much fun to share with others and have them appreciate and be excited about the new ideas and techniques I have developed. We will be taking the rest of the week off, and pick back up on Monday. Everyone will have time to work over the next five days. I saw some excellent starts. I can't wait till Monday to see the results.

I did this demo on Tyvek in about 45 minutes from sketching it on with an Oiler Boiler from Cheap Joe's filled with diluted Thalo Blue to the final brush stroke. It needs some additional work but it is a good start. Those that recognize my husband's face will attest to the likeness. I think I need to shorten his beard...made the face a touch long...but there is an advantage to working with a familiar face!

It is energizing to work this fast and loose. I think it also gives permission to others to relax a little and just have at it. "It's only a piece of paper" is the mantra. I work fast and I often do a painting many times, therefore, I am not all stressed out about ruining it. Doing a painting again, rather than reworking something to death, keeps it fresher and more spontaneous. Which brings me to one of my favorite quotes to close out the evening: "When the horse dies, get off."

Monday, October 6, 2008


Today was the first session of the portrait workshop in the Oakland Hills. What a beautiful area up on the crest of the mountain. Lush, wooded, secluded, exquisite homes and lots of confusing streets. I know, I tried them all out looking for the workshop. We had a great day. This is a group of women who paint together and set up their own workshops. I feel honored they wanted to work with me.

The image is Morris Ellis. I used to use him for the first image in the workshop. I have done five different versions of Morrie, so he is now retired. This was version 5 and I really got carried away with the brim of the hat. I just realized I never photographed the other versions. This week I am using an image of my husband. It is in the drawing stage. I will post the painting when it is done.

These are long days but oh so fun.

Friday, October 3, 2008


I awoke this morning and looked at my little paintings from yesterday. Surprise! The color had faded over night sitting on my desk. I guess the watercolor pen set will be relegated to journal and sketch books. Quite awhile ago I had glued some scraps of my hand painted collage papers randomly in a sketch book. I decided to try my little Frenchman drawn over the collage papers and then try painting the image with my new watercolor brush pens. It's amazing how simplifying the image makes it so easy to quickly draw the shapes. Here is the result of my experiment. I rather like it. I think I might like to do something like this on a larger sheet of paper with lightfast paints.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


During the month of October, we are going to do our Frenchman focusing on the element of SHAPE. If some of you are just joining us, you can find the photo in my blog archives. I think I should have started with Shape instead of Line but now is a good time to introduce this element. After taking Donna Zagotta's workshop, I am much more impressed with the importance of shape. It is the structure of the composition. You will notice that line and shape can go hand in hand as the edge of a shape by it's nature becomes a line, even if only implied. For week one work with the Frenchman and break up the image into as many shapes as suits you. Then, consider simplifying the image into fewer shapes. Do this a number of times continuing to reduce the image to it's minimalist essence.

The above Frenchman was done on my 9 x 12 YUPO paper. I had ordered a set of SAI Japanese watercolor brush pens from JetPens the other day and was surprised to have them delivered today. Turns out they were sent from Mountain View which is less than 20 miles from my house! I had seen these pens recommended on a Watercolor Journaling blog and this company is the only one who carries them. I had a drawing from the Sunday Marathon on a sheet of YUPO that needed some color and then I decided to do one of the Frenchman, as well. I had such a good time trying lots of techniques and seeing what I could do with this new tool. I used the wire sculpture drawing of the Frenchman as my base. This was already a simplification of the shapes. I think the end result has the strongest element being texture but shape was the starting point.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


WOW! You are all getting so creative! I hope you enjoy this slide show. If I accidentally missed posting some images you have sent, let me know. I will post the next set of challenges for October tomorrow.

I have had a frustrating week regarding getting any painting done. It has been hectic hosting my nephew from Israel for a few days, helping a son move out of his apartment (I got to pack the kitchen and wash down the inside and outside of the cabinets, frig. and stove), pick up and deliver paintings in two far flung directions, cook for a holiday and attend religious services. Monday I will be starting a portrait workshop for some folks in Oakland. Hopefully, there will be a few days in there to start a new painting. Life just seems to bunch up at times.

Related Posts with Thumbnails