Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Friday I will be doing two classes at the Presidio Officer's Club in San Francisco  for the California Watercolor Association's Outreach Program.  We are going to have lots of fun making wallets out of a single Tyvek Envelope.  The instructions are on a YouTube video by tkellerman.  I had to create a diagram and written instructions because everyone will have to put the wallet together at home.  My son, Kevin, the graphic designer, took my rough drawing and made it look so professional.   It took me awhile, but I have the folding technique down cold!  Now I can relax and look forward to sharing this project  with everyone.  I hope there will be a lot of kids in the morning but with school already starting in lots of places, it will probably be mostly adults.

This is the design I have painted with regular watercolor and a Micron 05 pen.  I started another design today using letters to spell out my name.  I thought it would be good to have a design idea everyone could relate to.  This design was done entirely with Extra Fine colored Sharpie pens.  

Saturday, August 21, 2010


This was a wonderful group to work with.  Everyone worked hard and produced some great images.  I was particularly pleased with their success at drawing accurate features in all 3 poses.  Some of the paintings are still in progress but I wanted to share all the work for the week.  Tomorrow I will post my final demo.  I hope you enjoy the slide show.  Don't forget to click on the "x" in the upper right hand corner to get rid of that annoying stupid pet ad.  It's the price of having free slide show service.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


I have been conducting a portrait workshop this week for the California Watercolor Association.  I have a wonderful slide show to share of some of the work that is being created.  I will post it tomorrow night.  Wednesday was the monthly meeting and I was the guest demonstrator.  A little challenging after standing all day teaching but after a lovely dinner, and a little wine, I was ready to share my love of Tyvek Paper and Dr. Ph Martin's liquid HYDRUS watercolors.  I arrived at the meeting to discover that the technical person who opperates the video camera and other equipment had failed to show.   To compilcate matters, there was no overhead mirror because the usual proceedure is to project what the artist is doing onto a big center screen.  The solution to work at an upright easel so others could see was out of the question because of the slick nature of the Tyvek paper.....all the paint would slide right off!  We finally decided that the best solution was to put the painting table in the middle of the room and have all the chairs circling me with the first rows seated and others standing.  I stopped a few times to let people circulate, come up close to see what I was doing and change positions in the room for a different view.  Having been a sketch artist at outdoor shows, I was used to people gathering round to watch what I am doing.  We had a nice question and answer session while I was painting.   As we have all found our selves in challenging situations when things didn't fall into place the way we had planned, everyone was undestanding and gracious and hopefully enjoyed the evening.  I was concerned that people would go away disappointed that they had made the effort to come to the meeting and couldn't see the demo well enough.  Checking with a few insiders this morning, I was told everyone had a great time and enjoyed the evening.  

This is a portrait of David Levine, one of America's great artists.  He passed away this year.  I don't know how wonderful of a likeness I achieved, but I like his face and love his work.  I am fortunate to own a book about his life and art called The Arts of David Levine published in 1978.  

Saturday, August 14, 2010


In preparation for presenting my Beginning Portrait Watercolor Workshop on Monday, I am getting all my materials together.  I thought some of you might be interested in some of the books I use and share during this workshop.  I find books invaluable as resource information and inspiration.  My favorite book that I share for porrait composition is by Alex Powers Painting People in Watercolor: A Design Approach (Practical Art Books).  This book is out of print but still available.  My copy is highlighted, underlined, flagged and dogeared.  A wonderful book I discovered about a year ago is called Face Parts Face Parts by Simon Jennings.  This book is very thorough on all aspects of drawing and painting the face without emphasising a particular style or way of painting.  I find this important because we all need to find our own voice in painting style but understanding the structure of the face is crucial to being able to produce a convincing portrait.
Companion books in this series is Body Parts Body Parts: A Practical Guide for Artists by Simon Jennings .  This book has a great section on hands which often need addressing when doing a portrait.  In fact, my whole self portrait series actually started while I was developing images for students that included head and hands.  A topic I teach on in the Advanced Portrait Workshop.

The final book I wanted to share is a an amazing book I stumbled upon in the Denver airport in a wonderful gift shop.  Heads Heads by Alex Kayser is a book of 184 heads of men and women....all of them in the exact same pose and format and all of them are bald.  It shows how alike but different each of us are.  I have never seen this book anywhere else.

Many of you have been kind enough to express interest in taking a workshop from me if I was in your area.  You can make that happen!  Many of my teaching engagements have come about because someone recommended me to their local art association that sponsors workshops.  In fact, a group of friends can get together and hire me.  I appreciate your enthusiasm for my work and look forward to working with all of you who are interested.  You can contact me at

Friday, August 13, 2010


I sat at the Gallery Concord today.  I decided to catch up on some reading and sketching.  This is actually graphite on white paper but the computer made it look so much more beautiful with these tones. Too bad it doesn't happen in real life .... wave a wand and the color changes !  I usually don't have any interest in drawing or painting "beautiful people" but this woman had the most amazing profile...almost no bridge to her nose.... with fascinating shapes and elegant lines.  She will be fun to stylize and exaggerate.

Monday I will be starting a beginning watercolor portrait workshop for the California Watercolor Society.  It will be held at Gallery Concord.  If you are in the neighborhood, stop in and check it out.  It will be a large group of 25.  I need to spend the weekend getting ready.  On Wednesday night, I will be doing the demo for the monthly meeting at Shadelands Art Center in Walnut Creek.  You can check the website for details of time and address.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


Day 5 is almost always shorter than the rest of the days.  We were only going to create one painting.  The last design format he talked about was "Shapes within Shapes".  Basically, the idea is to put a border or frame like structure around the painting which serves to contain and organize what is inside.  Often if the painting is busy and feels chaotic, this device makes it work.  The border doesn't have to be continuous.  Sometimes it is more implied.  He showed lots of different examples.  Here is my version and the sample painting  Jerry painted while we worked.  Everyone was very intense in working during this workshop.  Often we kept working through part of the lunch break because and there was very little talking.  We were really "into it!

Jerry spent more time lecturing in the morning than usual, and since he had just juried the awards for the International Society of Acrylic Painters, he talked about the jurying process and some insights about how he selects the winners.  He said the awards reflect only how the juror feels at that moment.  If he juried the show a day later he might pick differently.  Ultimately, he looks for paintings he would like to take home, the ones that touch him in someway, the ones with "content".  It's not just about technique and design. Ultimately, he feels the purpose and value of these shows is to inform, educate and inspire those who come to see it. The awards are not that significant because they are just how one person feels at one moment in time.  At the end of the day, many of us went over to see the show.  The variety of paintings was impressive.  It was fun to look at the different works and "see" the design construct.  Most of my favorites received awards.  Congratulations to all of the entrants.  You are all winners.

A big thank you to Barbara Leites for all her hard work putting on an excellent workshop.

Friday, August 6, 2010


Day four of the workshop focused on quite a few more design strategies.  He discussed 8 additional compositional ideas.  After talking about the concept behind the design, he would show us lots of examples using this format.  There was always a wide range of subject matter and styles which was very helpful to understand how one might use this design for their own work.  Some of the examples were rather subtle and Gerald had marked those with black lines to help us see the division of space.  We were expected to produce two paintings and had the option of picking which design schemes we wanted from those that were discussed.

  Since I am not usually an abstract painter, my first choice was the Opposing Forces composition.  I can invision working this into my paintings more than some of he others.  A real challenge for me is to see how I might utilitze each design idea within my work.  I plan to play around with this idea in my sketch book when I get some breathing room. As you will see in the slide show, this was a very popular format.  I was pleased with the final piece.  I discovered some new textural techniques along the way.  I was working over old paintings.  I like how the original color shows up in very subtle ways.  For my second painting, I decided to do a vertical composition because I noticed that I have a tendency to apply collage papers in a vertical manner.  I was working on varying the width, color, and breaking up the space in an interesting way.  Not so sure about the outcome but I sure was having fun.  Here are the results of the rest of the class having so much fun it should be illegal!

Thursday, August 5, 2010


Different compositional strategies are about ways of creating movement in the painting to lead the eye to the focal point.  Day 3 was working with a design concept associated with many of Robert Deibenkorn's painting.  This is a composition that only works well horizontally.  There is a very large space(described as expanded or feeling like it wants to expand) either top or bottom, a band across the opposite end of the painting, for containment and a narrow area (compressed between the two ) which becomes the focal point. I call this design construct "compression".  This is a great design for paintings that feature lots of sky and a very low horizon line if the expansive shape is on the top. I was able to do three, the first being my favorite.  There were many handsome pieces created with this format in the class.  We were working on300 lb watercolor paper cut 11" x 11".   Check out the slide show and find your favorite!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Today we worked on 3 different design compositions....BRIDGE....T....and CRUCIFORM.  You can easily see how one builds on the other.  We were to select 2 colors plus black and white.  Today we were to build direction with color.  I was working on top of an old painting that I cut up.  It had a dominant red tone so I picked the red family and yellow.  We spent part of the morning painting Japanese washi papers in our color choices.  I brought a lot of my previously painted tissue paper to the workshop, so I have lots of choices to work with.  I like my bridge painting the best.  I see a figure in there.  I am going to make some fine black drawing lines in there to pull out the image a little better.   Everyone is doing exciting work and there is lots of inspiration for future paintings.  Here is Day 2 Student work Slide Show.  Enjoy!

Monday, August 2, 2010


If you ever have a chance to take a workshop from Gerald Brommer, you must take advantage of the opportunity.  He keeps things clear, simple and insightful.  I have put together a slide show of all the student work today.  Every one is excellent, interesting and different.  These are the two I created today. The first followed some very specific directions to create movement toward the focal point.  The second we were free to create our own design with the same goal in mind but more individual placement of light and dark shapes.

If you can't make a Brommer workshop, his books are the next best thing.  I have two books on college that he wrote.  Both are favorites of mine.  Watercolor and Collage WorkshopWatercolor and Collage Workshop: Make Better Paintings Through Mastery of Collage Techniques has the lessons we are covering this week.  Collage TechniquesCollage Techniques: A Guide for Artists and Illustrators has other ideas and very clear instructions, as well. (be sure and click on the "x" to get rid of those stupid pet things if it shows up on the slide show.  I have no control over that appearing with the slide show.  They must have paid big bucks to stick it on every slide show!)

Sunday, August 1, 2010


I have spent the last several days finishing up several paintings and getting supplies together for a workshop I am taking starting Monday with Gerald Brommer.  Collage is a passion of mine and he is the master! He is also the master at teaching. This collage workshop is about value, direction, space, movement, etc.   This is my second workshop with him.  I was so impressed with the way he structured each lesson.  I know I will come away with great insight for my own work and helpful ideas for my teaching.  

Speaking of teaching, I just was asked to present my beginning portraiture workshop in Bend, Oregon at Art In the Mountains the week of July 25th, 2011.  This is a fabulous place to give (and take!) a workshop.  Perhaps I will see some of you there. 

I didn't want to start a new painting so I spent some time creating more drawings from drawings.  I discovered this amazing marker by copic.  It is capable of making a very very wide mark and also a very fine line plus everything inbetween.  The best thing is it is refillable!   A little messy, but it makes the marker more cost effective .  Here are the last three drawings that I did.  I was thinking about line variety, simplifying the number of lines, positive and negative space, shapes, etc.  In fact I was focusing on everything BUT likeness and portraiture.  It was fun trying different ways to angle the marker and using different edges for different marks.  

Related Posts with Thumbnails