Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Here is the long awaited slide show. You can see what terrific work everyone did. This was the first time a few of them had even worked in watercolor much less done a portrait. Some pretty brave souls! Tomorrow I will post a slide show of the beautiful Art Center in Gualala and the very unique and beautiful chapel in the town.

I heard from my friend Nancy Standlee. She has joined two new blog sites. One is dedicated to Texas Artists and there are several fantastic figurative painters on that site. The other is featuring abstract artists. Check them out! So much great art, so little time!

blog Daily Painters of Texas - http://dailypaintersoftexas.blogspot.com
blog Daily Painters Abstract - http://dailypaintersabstract.blogspot.com

Monday, June 29, 2009


This is the demonstration I did for the workshop for the second painting, a profile. It is on Tyvek paper using Dr. Martin's Hydrus liquid watercolor.

I spent a few hours today clearing photos off my laptop and onto the auxiliary hard drive so I can download all the photos I took last week. Then I can create a slide show. I am trying to move the photos into electronic folders so I can find images by categories. This is taking lots more time than I would like, but I think it is necessary. I will probably save time in the long run by not having to go through all the photos to find the ones I want. It is the curse of the digital age.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


I have not fallen off the face of the earth! I am in Gualala teaching a workshop. This is definitely G-d's country! On the California Coast, Highway 1 just north of Sea Ranch and an hour's drive south of Mendicino, Gualala is nestled in the Redwoods, the air is freshly scented with ocean and forest. I am being hosted by my new friend Dorise who found me on the internet. Her wonderful home is filled with interesting art she has created and collected from other talented artists. It is a feast for the eyes. I am continually discovering new pieces I overlooked. Fawns were on the lawn yesterday morning as we had breakfast. I hope they are back today. We have no deer in Foster City! I know they eat everything, but what a joy to find such beautiful wild creatures so close.

The Gualala Art Center is amazing. Totally built by volunteers (maybe she meant funded) it is a gorgeous structure tucked in the Redwoods (a state park for camping and hiking is just down the road). This area is a mecca for artists and the creative energy is exciting. It must be wonderful to be surrounded by neighbors who are fellow artists. The Center has interesting exhibits and a huge classroom upstairs where we are working. The art library is to die for. The classroom has wifi internet service so I will have a chance to post from there.

We are having a great time. Everyone is working fast and furious. The first portraits should be finished today. Hopefully I will be able to make a slide show before I leave, otherwise I will create one for next week. I will also make a slide show of this beautiful area and the Art Center.

This is was my demo for the group. Yes, it's Morris again. He is so much fun to paint. I demonstrated texturizing an old painting with gesso. Then I used a new idea from Mary Todd Beam's new book "The Creative Edge". You brayer colored gesso onto aluminum foil (in the book it shows black but I used red) place the wet side down on your paper and draw lines into the back side of the foil. Lift the foil off and add watercolor when the gesso is dry. Everyone in the class got into the spirit of "what if...?" and tried little experiments with the painted foil in slight variations. Next time I am going to save the foil and collage it into a painting.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Finally, I have gathered from some of the participants who were nice enough to send them to me, most of the photos from the workshop to create this slideshow. Not all of the photos were identified by name. I apologize for the omission. I can edit the show, adding names and new photos. Please send me any that are missing. This was an impressive group! Notice that Jill and Gail used the same reference photo and came up with two very different paintings. Everyone was very creative in their compositions. A few of the group even had time to paint two versions of their subject. Some are still a work in progress. Enjoy the show!

I want to thank everyone who took the time to comment on the last blog, giving me information on how to retrieve photos. I am sure I am not the only one who didn't realize that there is software out there to do this recovery process ourselves. The free software isn't available for the Mac but my husband and son both have PC's so I will recover the images onto his computer, put it on a memory stick and transfer it to my computer. What a technology dance! That seems like a good project for tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


This was the demo I did for the workshop. Our old friend "Morris" on Tyvek utilizing the new Daniel Smith Watercolor Sticks. No additional paint was used. I have a few more surfaces to try out this new paint format. The jury is still out but I am having fun experimenting.

Sadly, this is the only photo I have left from the Valley Watercolor Society workshop! I had photographed everyone with their paintings, even taking several shots each to ensure that I would have a good one.

Sunday the entire family went to Long Beach to the Aquarium and the Queen Mary to celebrate, birthdays, Mother's Day, Father's Day, end of school, graduations etc. Took over 200 photos there.

We drove home yesterday and, in a tired state, I downloaded the photos from my camera, cleared the card in the camera, edited the photos deleting the blurry, redundant ones, and then emptied the "trash". Somehow I managed to delete EVERYTHING!!!!!!!! Its gone, all gone. Arghhhh!

Lots of people were taking photos during the critique, so I am hoping my S.O.S. to the group will yield most, if not all, of the paintings by e-mail. Hopefully I will be able to make a slideshow. Everyone did such a fabulous job, I wanted to share their success with everyone.

If anyone knows how to retrieve permanently deleted photos, please share.

Friday, June 12, 2009


There was a wonderful turnout at the Valley Watercolor Society meeting last night. It was especially nice for me to have two of my sons and my daughter in law there. A traffic accident on the freeway created a 5 mph crawl for much of the way, spiking my level of anxiety of being really late. We barely arrived on time, but things went smoothly from there on. They have a very special system where the painting process is projected onto a large screen and they are video taping at the same time. I am wearing a microphone and the room is dark so the screen is brighter. It is very strange to look out and see blackness as you are talking. Fortunately, some people asked questions while I was working, otherwise it feels like you are talking to yourself as you chatter away and paint. They are going to create a DVD and provide me with a copy. It should be ready some time in July. That will be great to have.

Today was the first day of the workshop. It was a pretty big group...24...but everyone was enthusiastic and from the drawings I saw at the end of the day, there should be some great painting by the end of the day tomorrow. I will make a slide show and post the results.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


In preparation for my demo tonight at the Valley Watercolor Society meeting, I thought I would spend a little time getting familiar with the image I want to use. This man was photographed in Bordeaux, France in an outdoor flea market. Lots of fantastic looking people there. First, I did a pen sketch using a Pilot extra fine roller ball pen. I found this pen at the office supply store. It is the same pen I used yesterday for all those sketches. The ink is permanent and won't bleed.

The second sketch was done on heavier paper with the vis-a-vis pen. This ink does bleed and so I was able to do some tonal work, then I applied the finer Pilot pen for additional lines.

The last sketch was with the Vis-a-vis pen and then some additional watercolor in blue and vermillion. I was looking for a light pattern i could use with this head. The actual light on the day I took the photo was overcast, so no strong light pattern.

It helps if I have these ideas worked out in advance before a demo as things have to move along pretty fast and no real time to make decisions.

I have been told they will be creating a DVD of the demo tonight and I will receive a copy. Nothing like a little pressure! I hope it comes out well.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


The day was overcast all day. I was planning to go sit in a beautiful little park around the corner and do some plein air painting but sunny California was missing the sun today. I spent the day drawing in my sketch book with a new pen. I love the extra fine point which provides lots of detail. Tomorrow will be a day out of the house, with or without sun.

Monday, June 8, 2009


Today we drove down from the Bay Area to Westlake Village, just north of Los Angeles. I am going to be doing a demonstration on Thursday night for the Valley Watercolor Society monthly meeting and then conduct a 2 day workshop on Friday and Saturday. If any of you are in the area on Thursday, come to the demo and be sure and say hi. The meeting is in Encino. Besides having the opportunity to meet and work with lots of new people, I am able to spend a little time with my children who live in this area.

It has been a busy few days with lots of news, both good and disappointing. On the plus side, I was accepted into the San Diego Watercolor national show. I have also been asked to lead a workshop for the San Diego Watercolor Society in January of 2011. This is very exciting. They have a fantastic facility with a big workshop room, beautiful gallery and a to die for art library.

On the minus side, I received my letter from the National Portrait Gallery competition and was disappointed to learn I did not make the final cut. "The Judges Decision is Final" was in the body of the letter. I thought that was an odd thing to say. They must have had some interesting calls and letters from the last competition. I was relieved that the suspense was finally over. It was difficult being in limbo for 6 months. Now I can get back to my life. I have 3 years to come up with another painting for the next competition. I guess I better get busy! It took me 65 years to come up with the last one. The nicest part of it all was learning that my husband truly thought I was going to win first place in the competition! With support like that, everything else is unimportant.

Friday, June 5, 2009


Here is the second painting I have done using the new Daniel Smith Watercolor Sticks. This is a full sheet of watercolor paper. I coated the paper with thick gesso and impressed a texture sheet into it while the gesso was still wet. Some of the gesso had dried so the impressions varied throughout the rectangle. I think you can see the textured surface in the detail image. I will describe my process and try to address some of the questions from the comment section of my last post.

I drew the basic shapes onto the paper with a dry watercolor stick. Then I blocked in the shadow shapes with a thin wash using a wet brush on the cobalt stick. This helped me get a better sense of accuracy of my drawing and the general composition. I could easily make changes at this stage because this surface is very liftable. I then started to complete the heads from left to right. The far left head was done entirely with the sticks. I decided that it would be more economical to use regular watercolor paint for the washes and then draw and scribble into the image where I wanted richer, more saturated color or spots of color or lines drawn into the image. I could scumble one color over the other and then blend them with a wet brush. I had to be careful not to lift the color off entirely with this surface. The texturizing created ridges on the surface that the stick skimmed over. When I moisten the sticks, they will deposit quite a bit of color. Layering these colors in this manner creates a highly saturated dense concentration of pigment resembling other media, giving an unusual appearance to a "watercolor" image. They will also give the transparent light washes most often associated with watercolor by using a wet brush stroked across the stick or sharpening the stick and dissolving the shavings into water for a larger wash mixture. Very versatile.

The difference in these new paints and Caran D'ache is subtle but significant. The watercolor crayons will lay down creamy color when dry much easier. The watercolor sticks won't do that unless you dip them in water or work on a wet surface. When you wet the deposited pigment, the watercolor crayons turn milky and unpleasant (to me) but the new watercolor sticks dilute to beautiful watercolor washes. I have not tried these new sticks on traditional untreated watercolor paper yet, so I am going to try that next.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to post a comment on my last post. Be sure and share your own experiences with this new product.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


The last week has been frustrating. Nothing I worked on was any good. I have been playing around with this head and a few others that had this odd lighting trying to put them together in a single composition. I spent a few hours this afternoon playing with that and not sure I was very happy with any of them. The other frustration was not being very pleased with the small trials using the new Daniel Smith Watercolor Sticks that I had paid so much money for! I tried using them for mono printing...terrible. I tried using them in my Moleskin sketch book... no better than regular paints. I went into the studio and found a piece of watercolor paper I purchased in France while visiting this wonderful paper mill. There is no surface sizing so I coated it with 2 coats of diluted mat medium. The paper is hand molded and has a rough texture. I decided to try the new watercolor sticks on this surface. First I washed a pale gold tone over the paper to see how the paper would take paint. Then I drew the image on with the watercolor stick in Quin Burnt Orange. I didn't make any errors that needed correcting so don't know how easy that would be but the paint lifted easily at other stages. I used these paint sticks in every way I could think of: Dry drawing, wet drawing, scribbling, diluting with a brush etc. Finally, I think I am happy with this product. I think they have real potential for plein aire and travel supplies. The main advantage is that you can draw with them. There are only limited colors at this time. I did notice that Cheap Joe is developing a similar product. It was mentioned in the Summer Sale Catalog but no additional information and nothing shows up on their web site. Has anyone else tried these watercolor paint sticks? What have been your results?

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