Saturday, January 30, 2010


This painting has gone down hill very quickly.  There are major problems here.  Eyes are scary dead looking.  Big drawing errors...the right side doesn't work with the left.  I lost too much of the collage papers, overall head is too big, nose looks crooked, mouth off center (tried to fix it and created a nasty expression) and the paint quality is pasty looking (this may not show up in the photograph but apparent in person).  So here is a learning situation.  1.  When working this size, draw the image first on tracing paper and transfer.  2. Use acrylic on this type of collage paper.  The watercolor sticks are too flat.

Now, I have to decide what to do.  The best thing about this type of disaster is that there is no fear of ruining it, so I feel free to try interesting ideas to rescue the image.  Last resort, cover it with gesso.  Because this painting has an acrylic base, my first choice is to remove as much of the watercolor paint as possible and see what I have.  Then, I could paint over it with acrylic, or add another layer of collage and then paint it.  I may have another inspiration depending on what it looks like.  

Thursday, January 28, 2010


It looks like I am emerging out of the background.  I hope I have drawn this accurately enough.  Working this scaled-up size makes it difficult.  I decided to stop here and explore some options in Photoshop Elements before I go any farther.  Using the brush tool at 35% opacity gives me the color and transparancy to simulate my next steps.  

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


I was looking forward to getting back into the studio...well maybe not in the studio exactly because it is slightly trashed, so I worked in the dining room to mark the shapes and cut the hand painted collage tissue paper.  I glued it down in the studio (that's the stage shown here)  and then I moved to the kitchen, drew the image on with charcoal and started to paint.  Hopefully, I will be able to work on it tomorrow.  This is the second painting on a sheet 30" x 30".  It's going to be another scary big face!    

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


It has been an exciting, fun filled, action packed two weeks with the Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society. Two workshops, working with many old friends and meeting many new friends. The weather decided to be rainy, blustery and challenging the whole time. Tomorrow I sleep in and then, back to the studio.

Monday, January 25, 2010


Today everyone worked on profile paintings.  The results were excellent.  It is a smaller group these last two days, so I will be combining the children's paintings with the profiles for a slide show on tomorrow's post.

This was a young man totally engrossed in his laptop computer at the airport.  He has that wonderful quality of young men who have grown tall and lanky but still have some of that awkwardness of  youth.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


I demonstrated how to put a texture into the gesso surface this morning.  I painted this image on the paper in the afternoon.  Everyone was working hard at finishing up their first painting after days of drawing!   Here is a slide show of the terrific results.  Notice the interesting compositions everyone came up with.

Answers to questions in yesterday's comments:  If you are interested in painting tissue paper for collage, the best information is found in the Creative Catalyst DVD by Carrie Burns Brown  "Water Media Collage Workshop".  Someone asked if I stretched my watercolor paper before painting.  Not any more! I am in too much of a hurry these days.  I flatten them out after I have finished and don't seem to have a problem.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


This is the painting I created for the demonstration of an older face in full or 3/4 view.  I like to show different surfaces, so this one has tissue paper collaged onto the surface of watercolor paper with 50/50 mat medium and water.  Let it dry and then draw the image and paint with watercolor.  Oddly enough, tissue paper has a grain.  I must pay attention to that next time so I don't get horizontal wrinkles.  That only happens in real life with a bad face lift!  I think the background could use another wash to even out the color a bit.  Tomorrow everyone will complete their first painting.  I should have a nice slide show to share with you.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


It was a wild weather day here in the SF Bay Area.  High winds and driving rains kept me from going to the critique group I lead, so I spent the day finishing this painting.  It is 30" x 30" which presented it's own set of problems.  The head is at an unusual angle creating foreshortened forms plus drawing the head this size was a new challenge.  I truly had to use all the skills I teach in my workshops carefully observing shapes, checking where things lined up, etc.  Painting in a vertical position helped a lot.  At lease I didn't have a distorted perspective.  All the color was from the Daniel Smith Watercolor Sticks.  I like that you can draw with them and I like the intensity and density of the pigment when used in a fully saturated way.  I just held the color stick in one hand and brushed it with a wet brush and applied the color.  They get sticky when wet, so I laid them down on a piece of plastic to dry.  I realized I could use the plastic as a makeshift palette, wetting the patches of paint that came off the wet sticks when I set them down.   I am pleased with the final result of this piece.

This will be the painting I submit to California Watercolor Society rather than the homeless dude in the voting.  The other painting will be submitted to the National Watercolor Society.  Here are some facts to keep in mind if you work like I do in mixed media and like to enter these shows.  Many of the national watercolor societies do not allow collage as part of the painting.  With certain restrictions, CWA does.  So, my latest painting will meet the requirements.  NWS does not allow an entry that has been shown in another national show.  They want to be the first to exhibit a painting!  So, I enter my best work there first.  I am not aware of any other society having that restriction.  It can get to be a juggling act, but I find it rewarding to participate in these excellent shows.  It is always an honor to get in and disappointing when I don't, but considering the limited space they have to hang these shows, it is not a black mark against my work if I don't make the cut.  There are many more excellent paintings entered than can be accepted.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Today was the last day of the first workshop I am giving for Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society.  Two days off and then I start the second workshop.  I am honored that so many people wanted to take the workshop that they provided a second session.

On the last day we work on painting children.  Less is more is my mantra for painting children.  Here is the result of my demo today.

Monday, January 18, 2010


Here are the wonderful profile paintings everyone created today. There was a 3 day or 5 day option for this workshop. Because of work schedules and such, many weren't able to stay for the last two days. The stalwarts were able to spread out and have an entire table to themselves today. There is great work hear. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 17, 2010


I did a quick demo showing how diluted mat medium coated paper works with watercolor.  Struggled with one eye forever!  I don't panic because I know students like to see that these things happen to all of us.  Here is a slide show of all the paintings so far.  I was impressed with how hard everyone work, how willing they were to take chances and do something different and the success they had.  Many had time to do a second painting.  Things get better and better as you try it again.  Once the drawing is established it takes no time to start another painting.
Enjoy the slide show!

Saturday, January 16, 2010


The giant eye is on a 5"x7" bozzetto.  I give workshop participants the option of doing some small practice pieces of facial parts and studies of color ideas before starting their first painting.  This is the demo of the structure of the eye I did showing some ways of introducing color into the area.  The other demo is an example of some interesting compositional ideas.  I like the composition, not very thrilled with the painting.  Worth doing again for a better outcome.  Tomorrow I should be able to make a slide show of the completed student paintings.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Half way finished with this painting in my self portrait collage series.  I  based it on one of my Drawn to the Mirror images.  I start teaching a 5 day workshop tomorrow, rest for 2 days, then do a second 5 day workshop.  I don't know if I will have the energy to work on this after teaching all day, but I am anxious to see how it will look finished.  It is the largest head I have ever attempted.  I finally read my biography of Chuck Close, cover to cover.  I am feeling the influence of large scale heads.  It is fun to work this size.  I have it upright on an easel.  It helps to keep unintentional distortions from creeping in.

I heard about my crashed hard drive.  Good news...the disc was not damaged so they were able to retrieve everything, will put it on a new hard drive and send it back to me.  Bad news....say goodbye to $1500.  I hope all of you are backing your photos up to dvds.  They don't crash!

The American Watercolor Society has posted the names of those who will be in the 2010 show on their website.  Darn, didn't make the cut.  When over 1200 artists submit their very best work it is hard to be one of the 100 who get in.  Something to keep striving for.

Did you notice the insane traffic on this blog this past week?  I was getting over 13,000 hits a day. Seems like the "next blog..." button got stuck for 4 days and a blog by Santana and mine were the only two blogs that came up!  Things are back to normal now but it was a fun ride.  Like winning the blogger lottery!  I sometimes think of the internet like the cosmos.  So many countless specks of light out there.  For four days, all those specks found me...what are the odds of that?

Monday, January 11, 2010


I received the prospectus for the National competition sponsored by California Watercolor Society.  Christopher Schink is going to be the juror.  I was debating which of these two paintings I would send in for my entry.  I thought it might be fun to see what you think would be the stronger of the two entries.  If you would like to express your opinion, you can vote on the poll I created to the right." CWA is one of the few shows that allows collage but it has to be painted material.  All my collage paper is hand painted (no magazine or preprinted material).  If you would like to enter a painting of your own, you can download a prospectus from their website. 

I was very excited to book a "Variations: One Image, Unlimited Possibilities" workshop for October, 2011 in Hot Springs, Arkansas at the Hot Springs Gallery.  The area is gorgeous and the facility looks wonderful.  Vanessa Segraves has a big line up of great artists this year (including Katharine Cartwright) and I am very privileged to participate next year.  I will be posting it on my website as soon as I get a chance.  In the meantime, you can see more about this wonderful venue by going to :  I have only 3 more spots available for workshops next year.  If you know of a group looking for a workshop, let them know.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


This is the painting I did today in my demonstration for the Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society. This is a companion piece to the last painting I posted on the blog....the same unknown, unsuspecting model, in profile.  I worked on the background a bit but I think I want to bring it to the same level as the first painting.  I will be conducting  two back-to-back Watercolor Portrait Workshops for SCVWS starting on Friday.  It will be a busy week as I am also conducting a one day texture workshop for a private art group in Oakland, on Tuesday.  If that one is a success, I will probably set up a similar one day workshop  later in the year, open to who ever would like to attend.

The demo today was especially fun because there were so many friends in the audience.  I usually am looking out on a sea of unfamiliar faces.  I had a little more time than usual.  This was finished in 2 hours with a break in the middle.  Actual working time probably somewhere around 1 1/2 hours.  I started with a blank piece of paper and drew directly onto the paper with a blue watercolor brush pen.  Everyone stayed attentive and there were lots of good questions as I worked.  Fortunately, I am able to talk and paint at the same time (most of the time!)

 I would like to thank Mary Paquet and her wonderful team of volunteers who made everything so easy today and who make the workshops run so smoothly.  I am looking forward to the workshops.  It is wonderful to be able to share what you know and always a joy for me to see how everyone improves in their ability to create a likeness.

 There was a lot of picture taking today.  If some of you would send me some of the images, I will create a slide show of the demo for the blog.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


Here is the finished Tyvek Painting.  I posted a detail so you can see how the watercolor reacts on this exciting paper.  Now, back to my self portrait series.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


This painting is one I re-photographed the other day.  It is titled "The Autumn of My Life".  It is on YUPO and utilizes lots of George James' special techniques.  It looks nothing like anything I have ever done but I like it and it was so much fun in the making.  That, in my opinion, is the purpose of my have joy in the act of creation.

Well, when you are in the Autumn of your life, there is no time to waste!  With the help of my son, Bill, who actually understands how all this technology works, we discussed his research into recovering data from a crashed hard drive.  I only  had two companies to work with because it requires a special room with a super clean environment and local, small individuals don't have that set up.  I could go with company "A" who is an authorized agent of the manufacturer of the hard drive (which was only 2 years old and still under limited warrantee i.e. they will replace the hard drive for free but not pay for the recovery....the hard drive was $235.  This authorized agent's cost of recovery $700 up to $2700. OUCH!!!!  If they couldn't salvage anything, no charge.   Recovery company "B" agent of a competing brand of hard drive, equally qualified to do the work, even on my brand, BUT it would void the warrantee by the hard drive manufacturer.  Company "B"'s recovery charge a flat $1500.  No charge if they failed to recover data.  Everything on my computer was backed up except the photos, so that was the only data I was interested in.  I get to see what they recover and then decide if I want it.  No charge if I don't want it even after they did the work.  That relieved me of my biggest concern...paying $1500 for data I still have on my computer!   I reasoned that the odds of the cost being less than $1500 with company "A" were remote and the odds of them being the full $2700 was a real possibility, so I opted for the known quantity and forfeited the warrantee replacement.   Staples Office Supply is handling the whole thing, so we took it there and they will pack it up and ship it off.

Now, I still need a backup system.  A good friend who had this very nightmare situation a few years ago uses a device called a "passport".  It is so cool!  The size of an IPhone, it has a 500GB capacity and uses a USB port connection for $120.  I can get a second one as a backup to the first and store zillions of photographs without using up all the memory in my laptop.  My new Snow Leopard operating system is backing up the computer EVERY HOUR!  It has something called "Time Machine" which allows you to retrieve lost data.  Sadly, it wasn't installed at the time of the big hard drive crash.

I will update this saga when I find out the results of the recovery effort.

I am sharing all this as a cautionary tale.  I hope others take the time to back up their valuable information so they don't have to go through this.  There are businesses that store data for you on the internet for a yearly fee of around $45.  In retrospect, that sounds like a bargain compared with the cost of retrieving lost data, plus there is no guarantee that it is even possible to get it back.  Blank cd's are cheap and a good way to store your photographs.  This is the best new years' resolution you could make.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


I was determined to get some painting done today.  With a demo scheduled in a few days, I went looking for an image I could use. I didn't have a lot to choose from but this image was still in the computer.  I think this woman has an interesting face. The image was quite washed out with little contrast or color.  I was able to create some interesting effects with Photoshop Elements.  It was wonderful to get my brushes wet again.  I wasn't able to keep working and finish this piece, but it's good to have something ready to go in the morning.  I started out vertically for the drawing.  I even attempted to paint it in an upright position but with Tyvek the paint just runs off the paper.

Monday, January 4, 2010


I have started the process of re photographing my work.  This is one of my favorite pieces.  I have never entered it into a competition because it is relatively small.  I finally am going to mat and frame it and enter it into the National Watercolor Society Member show.

I used my gesso transfer process to cover an old painting and then used Dr. Martin's Hydrus liquid watercolor to paint with.

Saturday, January 2, 2010


OMG!  What a way to start the New Year!  Yesterday I transferred all my photos onto the auxiliary hard drive.  I went to bed.  I awoke to very bad news.  My auxiliary hard drive, like Humpty Dumpty, crashed and couldn't be put back together again!  I DIDN'T HAVE TIME TO BACK UP THE PHOTOS.  Lesson: Do it first!  I was so rattled, I dropped half a dozen eggs as they were being put back in the frig.  My husband had fun documenting the disaster but then was kind enough to clean it all up.  My grandson, Nick (age 20) thought it was hilarious and was going to share on a website called "FML"  I'll let you figure out what that stands for.

Most likely the data is retrievable but for a king's ransom.   This has to be the most expensive lesson I have ever learned.

Friday, January 1, 2010


New Years Eve was spent with friends.  Great food, great company.  I spent part of the evening socializing and sketching.  I am definitely going to improve my technique for fast sketching this year.  I think I will schedule several outings a week for practice.  Does practice make perfect? No such thing as perfect, but hopefully progress.  Ah, a better phrase: "Practice makes progress".

Today I took advantage of my oldest sons' visit.  He upgraded my computer operating system to Mac's "Snow Leopard" (It's Gorgeous!!!!  I must take the time to learn how to use all the exciting new features), installed a new accounting program, transferred the accounting information from the older computer and then erased the old hard drive.  He even took the old computer to a recycling center for me.  Bill also moved all my photos off the MacBook onto an auxiliary hard drive which cleared up 18 gigabytes of memory!!! Let us pray that I can find what I need!  My kids take such good care of me.  I would be in such trouble, technology wise, without them.  Even so, I still have lots to learn on my own.  Every upgrade is another learning curve.  There is no end to the opportunities to learn something new everyday.

This was a fun way to start the year off.  Everything seems fresh and organized.

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