Monday, December 29, 2008


Along with the graphite drawings yesterday, I discovered a website called Zentangle. You can click on the blog heading and it will take you there. Basically, it is an organized way to create intricate patterns. It works like meditation on your mental state and is very fun. The couple that developed this idea have taken it to the ultimate marketing heights! I kept looking for directions but it seems you have to order a kit for $50 to get the lowdown. I wasn't going to do that, so, after looking at everything, I discovered that their archived newsletters had different patterns explained and showed variations. Aha!! Now I was in business. I sat in front of the computer and drew all the patterns I could find. Now that I have the hang of it, I could look at some of the examples and figure out some of the different ideas. I did 3 3.5 square Zentangles in my sketchbook.

Today, I wanted to get back to my Frenchman with some ideas that were in my head before they disappeared into the black hole that sometimes masqeurades as my mind. I traced each of the 3 stylized Frenchman on separate pieces of paper. Using my sliding glass door as a lightbox, I taped two up and played around with overlaping images. This idea works best with a very simplified drawing. When you use the same design but draw it freehand each time you get interesting effects. You can choose which lines to keep and which to ignore. There are endless possibilites with this idea.

For this image, I reversed one of the drawings and positioned it so the the middle eye will work for either face. It's strange but intriguing to me. I was curious how the Zentangle patterns would look on it. I told myself 5 times "It is only a piece of paper" before I started playing with the patterns. With these kinds of ideas, there is no way to know how it will look without doing it. Each pattern changes the entire look. I was sorry that I colored in the red squares. They are too strong. Maybe I can think of a way to lighten them. I plan to add watercolor to it tomorrow. There are a few places where I messed up. No way to fix it and too laborious to redo. It's so busy, it is hard to find the errors, anyway. This is an example of pattern as texture. I decided I wanted lines more subtle than black ink so I used a fine red pen on white paper. The photograph has been adjusted as best I can. Not quite right but you can get the idea.

Sunday, December 28, 2008


I spent the afternoon curled up in a chair keeping warm and sketching. Here are the results. One of the 4 heads in the composite drawing is Lionel Barrymore. I only remember him in the movies as an old man. This was from a photo taken in 1918. He was very handsome! His brother, John, was the big heart throb back in the day, but I think I am falling for Lionel. What a surprise!

Saturday, December 27, 2008


Finally, I was able to get back to producing some art today. I think this is the longest I have gone without posting. I still am without my laptop but am limping along with my old computer. I didn't appreciate the upgrades in all my programs until now. I miss a lot of the features I have been taking for granted. I have been spoiled!

We (I use the term loosly as my husband did nothing to help me) had 20 people for a holiday dinner last night. I spent two days before Christmas shopping, all day Christmas cooking for the party ( Making latkes for that many people takes forever but I only do it once a year) and all day yesterday setting everything up. My sons are fabulous and they did help me get ready and cleaned up most of the aftermath. I spent most of the day, today, putting everything back!

I sat down for a few hours today and did some graphite drawings. Mostly it is for practice and pleasure. I don't think I will do anything with them. I do like the strange lighting on some of the faces and the face in the lower right has real possibilities for stylization. In fact, when I first drew it, it was less realistic but I wanted to have the face work better with the whole page. I think I will go back and work with this image again.

I have a lot of framing and matting to get done, so I think I will mostly draw to finish out the year.

I managed to read a good book "Outliers" this last week. It is a small book and an easy read. Lots of very thought provoking material. The one fact I wanted to share is that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to get to any area of expertise and the masters have spent 10,000 hours. Basically, that is 10 years with hours of DAILY practice. That is what separates the good from the great! Now, I have to figure out how many hours I have already put in and how many more to go!

Sunday, December 21, 2008


This is the portrait I did of Preston Metcalf, the assistant curator at the Triton Museum in Santa Clara, California. He was gracious enough to give me permission to do anything I wanted with the photos I took of him. It may be a case of "be careful what you wish for". Many times I take pictures of strangers and keep on going. This time I made sure I had permission before I did anything other than for my own amusement. This image is so tightly cropped that I think I will attempt to float it instead of putting it under a mat. This painting is watercolor and acrylic on YUPO.

My son finally diagnosed my computer problem! I am lucky to have my techno saavy kids around to help me out. First he thought I didn't have enough space on the hard drive, so I spent hours sorting and moving hundreds and hundreds of photos to an auxillary hard drive to free up space. I get very nervous when I delete photos but I did it anyway. Then he had to update all the programs. I couldn't do that before because I didn't have enough space. Well, after all that, I still had the problem of losing my internet connection. My son is a scientist, so he has the patience of Job to do research and he found a website where this very problem was being experienced by other Mac users and they all had broken antennas!!! Since it is built in to the computer, I have to take it somewhere and get it fixed. Bill thinks it is a design flaw in the computer and Apple should pay for the fix. Yeah! Like that's going to happen. Anyway, I am working on my old computer which I kept because it has OS9 as well as OSX and my accounting program only runs on OS9. I refused to pay $300 to get a new accounting program for the new computer that would work for OS X. I only use it once a year for my tax records. I think I can plug in my auxillary hard drive to this computer and access my photos. Otherwise, I think I can transfer them to one of those portable stick thingies and transfer it that way. I don't know all the words, but I am getting pretty knowledgeable with the tools. Keeping up with technology is a full time job!

Friday, December 19, 2008

I hope to have the internet thing fixed today. In the meantime, I am working against time again to get this posted. I sat at the gallery yesterday so had a lovely quiet time painting. Here is my realistic version of the Frenchman on a textured background using a limited palette of Quin Gold, Burnt Sienna, Brown Madder, Payne's Gray and Neutral Tint. I'm not sure about the bubble wrap on the nose! Otherwise I like the textures with the traditional...makes it a little more interesting. I need to be more careful about where I put what textures in the future. I want to do one more stylized version of this guy. I had an interesting idea for presentation using four of them in one frame. Maybe I'll make him more "green". Green is in these days.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


I am having the worst time with my computer. It won't hold the internet connection so I have a minute here, and a few minutes there. So far, my experts haven't figured out the solution but we keep working. I feel like I am in a race against time to get this posted before the connection is lost.

Here is another Frenchman with the same set of colors: Hansa Yellow, Raw Sienna, Quin Gold, Green Gold, Brown Madder, Burnt Sienna, Indanthrone Blue, Indigo, Neutral Tint and a smidgeon of Caput Mortum for good measure. I kept the warm/cool ratio heavily balanced on the warm side. The other variation I did was to texturize each shape individually rather than creating texture patterns randomly on the sheet. It took a lot more time because I had to wait for areas to dry before I could do the next one. I don't think it makes a big difference. I think I want to do one more with the texture and this color wheel and paint the Frenchman in a realistic manner rather than this stylized version. Then, moving on to another color palette.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


I am having difficulties with technology today. My internet connection comes and goes and it is my computer that is the problem. My "experts" can't figure it out. I am also having trouble adjusting my digital image to reflect the proper color and value. This is as close as I can get. Not quite right, but you get the idea. I tried some different stamps and texturizing ideas, then painted using the same palette as yesterday but I didn't use the yellows and Burnt Sienna. The only red was Brown Madder and the "yellow" was an olive yellow green. It actually is Seniellier 's (spelling is wrong but I am too lazy to get up and look at the paint tube) Quin Gold. It is very different from any other brand and is very greenish. Works perfectly for this palette. I used Neutral Tint, Payne's Gray, Indigo and Indanthrone Blue as my other colors. I wanted a dominance of cool colors. The value pattern was my attempt to follow the Rembrandt scheme as described by Robert Burridge in his last two newsletters. I'm not sure I achieved it but the results are satisfying. That really is the point, anyway. It doesn't matter if you "get the right answer". It isn't math. By having an idea to work from it gives you a starting point and then the painting takes on a life of it's own and you work to resolve whatever challenges show up. If the best solution doesn't match the original concept, who cares?

Tomorrow is the 80/20 warm dominant painting with this drawing. Then I am going to see how a more realistic rendering looks over all this texture.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


Today I sat at the Gallery. I was expecting to be alone so I was surprised to find the committee for CWA Annual Exhibit working in the kitchen, preparing the letters of acceptance and rejection to be sent out. I was treated to a slide show of the accepted entries which was playing on a laptop. I hope they make a cd available for purchase of these paintings.

Knowing I would have all afternoon to paint, last night I prepared a half sheet of watercolor paper with different textures in the heavy Utrech gesso. I had been experimenting with other acrylic mediums and was surprised that after they dried, if they were rewetted, some of them started to soften and dissolve. Gesso seems to stay hard once it dries. I used different stamps and stencils from my ever-growing supply. Once at the Gallery, I drew this stylized version of the Frenchman onto the paper and worked with my neutralized palette from Nita Leland's book. I am growing extremely fond of this combination of colors. I like this painting and had a very enjoyable afternoon painting bigger than a 5 x 7 inch mini! I want to try this again focusing on a stronger dominance of cool vs warm tones. I think they are too even on this one with no dominance of temperature. I may do two with 80/20 cool vs warm and the other 80/20 with warm vs cool.

It was so easy to paint with the drawing decided, the color palette decided, the texture done. I had fewer things to concentrate on so less stress, yet there were still plenty of decisions to make to keep it interesting and surprises to experience. If everything was totally worked out in advance then the joy of discovery would have been gone. Today was the perfect balance!

Thursday, December 11, 2008


I went to a Holiday Party today for our critique group. It was at a beautiful country club and everything was special. The elegant atmosphere, fun table decorations, great food, fun people and a very generous hostess. We each went home with a miniature painting by a fellow artist and learned a little more about each other. Turns out that individuals in this group have broken into jail, danced on table tops to crowds of cheering people, participated in beauty pageants and had tea with THE Queen, among other things. Who knew I hung out with such wild, wicked and oh, so proper women?

The only art I managed to do today was a few sketches of the people sitting in the waiting room of the lab where I went for a blood test. Nothing great but I am developing the habit of pulling out a sketch book instead of reading the gossip magazines.

The above is a drawing I did when I had more time and wanted a detailed study in preparation for a painting. So far, no plans for the painting but I am pleased with the graphite rendering.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Peggy Stermer-Cox is one of 5 finalists in the on-line "furry friends" competition. If you click on the blog title it will take you to the website where you can vote for your favorite. All the finalists have done exceptional technical work but Peggy's is the most original and creative. In fact it is the only one of the five that isn't photo-realistic.

Here is a website where you can do a digital download of the October 2007 issue of Watercolor Magic which features an article about my portraits, in case you missed this issue and wanted one for yourself. As Robert Burridge says "shameless self promotion"

These are the last I will post from the Merritt College Drawing Marathon. The first two had the paper treated with a diluted raw umber wash from my sponge top bottle I was looking for (found it at Staples) The color flooded out and looked like cafe au lait running all over. The sponge top bottle was not such a great success but I haven't given up on it yet. When that dried, I put some "dirty glaze" over it with the palette knife. I was going to collage some tissue over this but got lazy and just left it. Originally, I didn't like how the page looked but once I put the drawing on and added the black, walnut and white inks to it, I decided this was a good background to start with.

The last drawing was done on just the plain paper. It was an amazingly forshortened view. Reminded me of Manet's Dead Toreador.

Monday, December 8, 2008


Here is the second set of marathon drawings. The way the book comes together, there are 4 pages accordian pleated together, so I treated them as a set and collaged and pre-painted the pages as one continuous page, not knowing how I was going to finish it.

First I collaged some Japanese papers from the book onto the paper, then I used the tissue paper from the previous day with the red acrylic ink on it and collaged that over the pages. Lastly, I mixed 8 parts matt medium with one part Micaceous Iron Oxide (a Golden Acrylic Product) and made a "dirty glaze". Using a plastic palette knife (an old credit card would also work) I spread this onto the pages. I love this "dirty glaze"! I will continue to explore the possibilities. At the drawing session I worked with several ink pens including the Elegant Writer, a wet brush and walnut ink and acrylic white ink.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


This was one exhausting day, but loads of fun and exciting. This was the first marathon I have done at Merritt College. In fact, I was thinking of Laney College in Oakland all along. Fortunately, I went to Google Maps for directions and saw my misconception. It turns out Merritt College is a stone's throw from where I did the Oakland workshop. I didn't see any signs on the campus where to go so I drove around until I saw people with drawing material. I was a little later than I hoped, so finding a good place to set up was a challenge. A packed room! I wound up at the area where the 20 minute poses were held and that worked out very well for me. I met Dorise, an internet friend, for the first time in person. That was a treat by itself! She introduced me to a few others. Art is such a wonderful way to relate to others with the same passion.

The set up for this marathon was different than any I had been to and I loved it! There were 4 different large platforms throughout the room. One was for the long 3 hour pose, one for 20 minute poses, one for 5-10 min. poses and one for quick poses. The artists were all over the place around the stands. You couldn't switch once you had a place but the models moved around from platform to platform, so you had the opportunity to draw all of them. The best thing for me was how close I was to the models! I am extremely nearsighted and it was great to be able to see hands, feet, facial features so clearly.

I was going to make a slide show but I decided to show 4 at a time so I can describe how I prepared the paper in advance. Each set has the same treatment. I used my one sheet sketch book and it was perfect!!! Just the right amount of pages for the 20 minute poses. Actually, I was usually done in 15 minutes.

These four pages were collaged with some Asian paperback book pages. I'm not sure what exact language it is but I love the graphic look of it. Then I took a sheet of tissue paper and laid it over the pages and brushed some acrylic red ink through the tissue, then lifted the tissue off. I saved it and let it dry and used it on another 4 pages as a collage (tomorrows post) After the ink was dry, I squeezed out a blob of Cheap Joe's Coastal Fog watercolor and brayered it over the pages randomly. I used it straight so it was more like gouache. I drew the image with ink pens, most of which had ink that bled. The coastal fog color rewet and interacted with the ink when I used a wet brush. Overall, I like the effect.

Saturday, December 6, 2008


Here is my latest Everyday Matters drawing. My office phone wasn't that interesting so I added the surrounding "stuff". I love my artist "Jack-in-a-box". It was a gift from a cousin.

I have added another website to the list. Susan Webb Tregay, a nationally recognized watercolor expert, has started a blog. Check her out. Her very first post has 3 things to thing about when looking at the art of others.

I saw this letter to the editor in the latest issue of The Artist's Magazine. What do you think of his observations? Food for thought.

"I've been a watercolor painting instructor at the American Academy of Art in Chicago since 2001, and over the years have seen my share of watercolor shows. Pretty much without exception, they are interchangeable collections of beautifully crafted images: still life, landscape, figure, etc. Once you get past the technique, what's left? Nostalgia? Don't you ever feel that if you see another bowl of fruit you're going to wreck something? There are many painters in other media who deal with the "pretty," but there are a great number of artists who are out there creating images that are intended to make us think-to enlighten us, to scare us and make us ask questions - images with content that we can agree with, disagree with, be revolted by or find great joy in. I find it hard to believe that so many talented watercolor artists are only interested in creating images for decoration. I'm also amazed at how revered this practice is within the watercolor community; it's like a self-perpetuating type of inbreeding. Maybe it's the show scene reinforced by the "how to" art book publishing industry. Maybe the watercolor painters of content are more common that we realize but the watercolor establishment seldom exhibits them. Perhaps it's the notion that unless a piece is pretty, it won't be accepted in a watercolor show, so why pay the fee and go through the trouble of entering it if there's no chance a provocative painting is going to be accepted, much less win a prize? Yes, you will see the occasional watercolor appear in broader or specialized art shows, and there are even the occasional watercolors that show up in museum shows. But, I'm afraid that the passive contentment for the status quo continues to cause watercolor to be marginalized by the greater world of art as a second-rate art form/ Tom Herzberg, Chicago, Ill.

Friday, December 5, 2008


This is almost the last triad I will be doing. One more tomorrow and then on to split primarys. There are two versions of that. I am following Nita Leland's book and using her combinations. The truth is that there are limitless combinations of red, yellow and blue. So far none of these combinations I have tried work for all mixes. If the greens and purples look great, the orange range doesn't and if the orange looks good, the greens are dull. The split primary concept solves these color problems but I am getting ahead of myself.

This is the combination of a cool Yellow, Quin Magenta and Thalo Blue. Hansa Yellow was called for but I didn't have it, so I started to research. I do have Cad Yellow Lemon but I don't like working with Cad colors because I prefer a transparent color. Aureolin was the closest I came, so I used it. After all my research, I think Hansa Yellow Light is my prefered pigment for a lemon yellow color. Dull oranges with this combo because of the Magenta but the violets and greens are gorgeous I rather like this little man.

I spent a few hours roaming around Michael's craft store seeing what ideas I could get. I had it in my head that they had empty bottles with dauber tops.. I could swear I saw them when I was in Thousand Oaks. That is the biggest Michaels I have ever seen and they have lots more "stuff". Anyway, the closest I could find was a bottle filled with stamp ink remover. I will empty the bottle and fill it with a mid value liquid watercolor for fast sketching. I thought I could quickly lay in the mass and then go back with line. We'll see how that idea works out. If anybody knows where I can find empty bottles with this kind of top, let me know.

I bought a few $.99 magnetic picture frames for small 4 x 6 paintings I plan to give as little gifts for the holidays. They had ugly patterns on the frames so I covered them with thick gesso and stamped into them. I will paint them tomorrow. The frame is more trouble than the picture to go in it!

Thursday, December 4, 2008


I was quite busy today with my art. I accomplished a lot and then I was investigating a drawing done by someone on the Everyday Matters network and WHAM! I BECAME ADDICTED TO THE SCRIBBLE WEBSITE. You can click on the title to this blog and it will take you there, but be warned. This is a very dangerous site for artists! The drawing I first saw done with this "tool" looked like a cobweb wrapped with colored string. It was nice and I was curious, so I ventured over to Scribble and made a stupid little line drawing and started playing with the different controls. Then I looked at the gallery of other work and was blown away by the possibilities. I don't know how much time I spent just looking at the different work and then decided to try a version of the Frenchman. I am working on a MacBook so I was drawing with my finger instead of a mouse. It took me a few tries but this is the 3rd or 4th one I did. You can take a picture of the picture but I didn't close the directions window and I got a picture of the screen with the instructions covering up my drawing! I had to start again. Anyway, I now know how to take a picture of whatever is on my screen (didn't know I could do that!) so I took pictures as I developed this image. I am very excited about the possibilities for exciting line drawings using this tool and then developing them into paintings.

If you would like to try and do a version of the Frenchman on the Scribble site, send it to me and I will make a really fun slide show!

Tomorrow I will post the other work that I did today. Now I have to get back to scribbling.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


These Frenchmen are sure looking strange! I paid particular attention to my value study today and then attempted to mix as many colors in that value with the 3 hues I was working with. Consequently, the paintings have more colors than I might ordinarily use in one area. I am also exploring the different neutrals. I am going to stick with this particular drawing for all the primary triad combinations and then I am going to pick a different drawing for the next series of color explorations.

The other thing I did today was make a sketch book out of one piece of watercolor paper. I am very excited about this idea. In fact, I dreamed about it last night and couldn't wait to make one this morning. Here is the website for instructions.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


First, a disclaimer regarding the color of these pieces. I was not able to perfectly adjust the color in my photo program and then when I uploaded them, the color looks different again (less bright) on the blog. The postings are just for general information and you can see the small shifts I am making in the value patterns, trying different things and you can see the color is different each time .

I am following Nita Leland's color palettes in her new book. I have a lot of different tubes of paint but not EVERYTHING. When a color is suggested, I have gone to to find a similar color. I am learning a lot about color this way. It turns out that Azo Yellow and Transparent Yellow are really the same and Transparent Yellow is a better choice. Also Pyrrol Red is the same as Winsor Red or Sandal Red in Maimari (I have both! but no Pyrrol Red) As luck would have it Pyrrol red is not a good choice either so I used Winsor Red in this little painting. I am writing all this pertinent information on the back of the color cards (equivalent colors and best choices and brands)

The Thalo and Transparent Yellow made beautiful greens, so I decided to do a mostly blue and green painting. Winsor Red and Thalo Blue make very dull violets, so I worked around that. I also played with the neutral range for the background by glazing one color over the next. The other color combination of Quin Rose, Cobalt and Transparent Yellow gave the opposite results; Beautiful violets and dull, dull greens. Both combinations produced lovely orange shades. I am also exploring how dark a mixture I can produce with each combination. There is nothing more joyful than playing with color.

On the other end of the spectrum, I spent a little time this evening preparing some sheets for the Drawing Marathon on Sunday. Edward Betts has a fabulous book called "Master Class in Water Media". You can find it on Amazon. He sprinkled powdered graphite on a sheet of watercolor paper and then sprayed it with water to create this fabulous textural effect. I have the powdered graphite so I did three sheets. The directions make it sound so easy but I wasn't totally pleased with my results. It is amazing to me how difficult it is to get good results with some of this accidental technique type ideas. I can always Gesso over the ones I don't like!

A final note: Mike Bailey has tagged me. June Hymas passed on to me the Butterfly Award. I need to spend some time to consider who to pass them to. I appreciate the honors and want to be thoughtful about it.

Monday, December 1, 2008


These 5" x 7" color studies are the beginning of my exploration for the month of December. It will probably take me all month to get through all the variations of color I want to explore. I am starting with versions of a primary (red/yellow/blue) triad. I spent part of the afternoon transferring this Frenchman image onto the small watercolor papers. I then created 6 different value patterns to start with. I will make more as time goes on. Once you have the shape drawing and the values worked out, painting goes quickly and is a lot more fun. After my first study, I discovered it was better to make a color card of the 3 hues and their mixtures first. That way I know the possibilities and the work looks fresher. I evaluated the value plan after completing the first little painting. I decided I would like to see the left side of the face without any light shapes, so that was the change I made for the second painting value plan. I like doing these little studies. They go quickly, give me lots of valuable information and are most entertaining to make! They can be stored in a sketchbook for reference. When I get one I am really excited about, I will make a larger painting.

When I was in France last year, I purchased a tin of blank watercolor postcards. I didn't like working on them because the paper was too light weight. They are the perfect thing for my colornote cards! It feels good to have a use for them. The paper has a slight rib to it, creating beautiful mingling of colors. I would like to find this paper in a 140lb weight. If anyone knows who makes this paper, let me know.

Be sure and check out the notice about the Variations workshop on the right hand side of the blog.

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