Thursday, September 21, 2017


JANUARY 20, 2017
 I am excited to be teaching a workshop about working on YUPO for the Pleasanton Art League in October.  I decided to refresh my techniques and explore more ideas to share.  This is an example I just finished using India Ink on YUPO.  You cover the paper with ink and then remove the lighter values to get the final result.  Every day for a week I recovered the page with ink at the end of the session because I wasn't satisfied with the result.   That is one of the best things about YUPO.  You can keep reworking, removing, reapplying, lifting, etc. without damaging the paper.  I love that the paper doesn't buckle and I was surprised to discover that you can even use a dryer (carefully!) to speed things along.  

I am also developing a second Variations workshop, still based on creating a series utilizing one image but changing it up based on a different set of conditions.    I will be sharing these ideas in Tampa July 16 through the 19th 2018 at Watercolor Escape.  I love developing these workshops.  I hope some of you will be able to join me!

Friday, September 1, 2017



I am usually not inspired to paint landscapes except when I travel.  This was a scene  from our boat trip on the waterways from Amsterdam to Brugge earlier this summer.  Nice that the camera records where you are when you take the shot,  otherwise I wouldn't know this was from the village of Haastecht, which is very near Gouda.  The long, narrow canvas was a challenge.  I had to create a more simplified and interesting foreground than in the photo.   I also enjoyed the challenge of mixing various greens.   Mixing it up by using a different canvas proportion, different perspective and unexpected greens created a personal vision for a landscape.

There are at least two other paintings underneath this one.  I lose track sometimes as to what lies beneath!  Nice to finally feel satisfied and I can move on.  Eventually they all find a satisfying finished painting, but lots and lots of false starts.  The build up does make for an interesting surface.  This one has a coat of gesso that I used a sponge roller over the top.  When it dried, it had a very rough finish.  Paint scumbles beautifully on this surface but it chews up brushes so don't use good sable on this type of surface.

With every painting, I try to learn something new.   I explored surface and color mixing and think I have added to my ongoing attempt to master painting in acrylic. How boring it would be to know it all.    Fortunately, there is always something new to learn.  

Monday, August 28, 2017


So many artists of my generation are not embracing the new technology at their fingertips With all the incredible digital programs available for phones and tablets from altering photos to drawing and painting digitally, it is a treasure chest of new ideas and ways of creating from combining traditional methods with digital to working completely digitally.  Staying current with technology is fabulous for keeping one's mind and spirit young and functioning optimally.  Although I prefer actually manipulating art materials, it has been so much fun learning how to manipulate digital art as well.  Especially at night while I am relaxing in a chair or waiting in the airport, doctor's office and other sit around and wait times.  It has become my new "sketch book" an artist is encouraged to have with them at all times.

I have learned how to work with these programs on my own with out any instruction.  That is, until a few weekends ago when I had the wonderful opportunity to take a 2 day seminar on various digital programs as well as information on printing, marketing and everything digital.  mDAC sponsored the weekend program and it was fabulous.  I loved meeting others who are really embracing this brave new world and learning how to go deeper into these programs.     Here are some of the new digital images I created at the seminar and since.  My goal is to do a digital drawing or painting everynight while I veg out in my comfy arm chair.


We started the portrait party by Julia Kay, by drawing with our nose!!!  It was a great ice breaker.   One can't help but laugh after realizing she wasn't kidding.  
Vector brush i Sketch Club app

Vector Brush in Sketch Club app
Next we played with the app Sketch Club and used the vector brush.  This creates shapes.  Challenges but quite fun to play with.  I need  to go back and explore  this app much more!

here is a portrait another artist did of me and shared using the vector brush.   

We didn't have a lot of time for our portrait party but here is another brush we played with Sketch Club. It is procedural Dots 




text brush from Sketch Club worked over photograph that has been modified in iColorama.

I hope these examples tempt you to explore digital painting for yourself.  Please share your images!

Sunday, August 6, 2017



As most of you know, I rarely do landscape paintings.  The exceptions are usually related to traveling.  Painting is the most wonderful way to revisit trips creating an indelible memory.   This past June, I had the unusual opportunity to travel along the waterways between Amsterdam and the seaport of ZeeBrugge on a 35 foot sport boat.  It was a beautiful experience and I took tons of photos.  I thought I would be painting while cruising but that turned out to be impractical.   I am now in the process of turning some of those images into paintings.  This is the first one I have completed.   Taking photos from the docks provided a lower vantage point than normal, giving a different perspective to the landscape.  I liked shooting through the vegetation.   This  particular scene doesn't seem to be typical of what we think of Belgium or Holland but it brings back special memories for me.  

Sunday, July 30, 2017


For me, it starts with a photograph, usually of a person.  I had found a clever little gadget called a PODO which acts like a selfie stick without the stick.  It is a small square lens that can be attached to any surface by a sticky pad on the device.  It connects by blue tooth to your phone.   This allows me to shoot photos at unusual angles and create perspective distortion which I find fun to paint.  I was sitting at a desk at an art exhibit for the day and decided to play with my new "toy".   I stuck the PODO at a low angle on the desk leg and set my phone on the floor in front of me so I could see what the lens was picking up.   Here is one of the photos I took that day.

I straightened the image, cropped the photo and eliminated the background.  

Then, I digitally created a line drawing using Procreate 

This is a painting I wanted to paint over.  I was hoping to save the circle patterns in the background.

I covered the face with turquoise acrylic,  had fun spritzing with water and alcohol and then turned it upside down to disguise the image underneath.

Using my line drawing as a guide, I drew the new image onto the paper and proceeded to establish a value pattern.

Adding color but it is beginning to look too much like a cartoon  but I press on!

Not at all happy at this point. Along with many other problems,  I decided that the hands were too small for the head.   Start over by  covering with gesso and redraw the image.  

I might have over exaggerated the hands this time.  I photographed the painting and then put it into my favorite app where I could overlay my current painting with my digital drawing and save the blend.  Now I have a guide to correct the drawing!

Hands are definitely way off but very impressed with how close I got the face drawing freehand.

Okay, drawing corrected.  I was surprised the original watercolor drawing wouldn't wipe off of the gesso but it will wind up being covered with acrylic anyway, so a distraction but not a problem.

Back to establishing values.

Having fun scumbling color.

In the end I painted out the white pants and put several more thin coats of color on the background.  Only thing left of the original painting is faint circles hinting of what is buried underneath.  

Saturday, July 15, 2017


I just finished this painting yesterday.  I have been exploring some ways to work with acrylic lately.  I managed to photograph the work at the end of each day, with a small exception.  I forgot to take a photo after the charcoal drawing and remembered after I had started to add color but one can still see the progression clearly.  I wasn't sure how I was going to finish the painting until I was there.  That is a nice quality about acrylic is it is so changeable and fixable.  With watercolor there is much less flexibility.

This particular piece of paper has 3 different paintings if viewed through an x-ray machine.  I don't even remember what the original failed painting was.  I covered that over with collage papers and did a painting on that.  Another dog!  Time to reinvent.  So here are the steps I took to get to this image.  I think I will keep this one.  

Lots of spray with water and alcohol to create some texture and surface interest.  

I drew the image on with charcoal because I could make corrections easily.  Once I was satisfied with the drawing, I went over the lines with acrylic paint in sepia.  Once dry I washed the charcoal off with a damp cloth.

Establishing some value patterns

This is the ugly duckling stage  where doubt starts to creep in.

Now I have to make some major decisions as to the final direction I want to take this painting in.  

I even surprised myself!  

Tuesday, July 4, 2017



As much as I loved the golden background color on this painting, there was a lack of color harmony that was bothering me.  I could have glazed with a warm color over the skin tones but I decided to go with a cool color in the background.  I was hesitant to do anything because it couldn't be reversed if I didn't like it.  It was risky business but I took a chance and  I am very satisfied with the results.  


Wednesday, June 14, 2017


WHIPLASH finished

This is the final version (I think) of my lastest painting, an acrylic on canvas.  I purchased a book on abstract textures in acrylic and started to play around.  The first instruction was to create a design with horizontal movement.  I put some dark diagonal splotches on top of the yellow ochre and viola!  I saw two eyes, and a nose!!  Can't fight the inevitable, I guess.  I went looking through my resource images to find something that would fit what showed up and found this wonderful face of  actor J. K. Simmons who played the despotic musical instructor in the movie Whiplash.   Great face, almost demonic.  I was able to pull lots of wonderful closeups by stopping the DVD and taking screen shots.    I have been working on this painting everyday and kept painting back into it.  I wanted to try and save the initial texture I created.   Wish I had more of the original but happy with the final results.  I photographed the painting at the end of each day.  Below is how the painting developed.  I wanted to keep it loose and more impressionistic.  I am getting closer and closer to that style.


I will be traveling for a few weeks and hope to bring home some new inspiration for future paintings.
lnspiration for future paintings.

Sunday, June 11, 2017


While I await my next Immigrant participant, I have been experimenting incorporating images drawn and painted on a transparent material called Duralar.   This is an image I traced from a drawing I did in one of my sketch books.  First, and ink outline and then painted with very transparent acrylics.

This is an old painting I covered over with hand made collage papers.   I like it too much to take a chance putting some image directly on the surface.  I have ruined many good starts and had to cover over the mess and start over.  Using this new technique, I can preview how it will look before I take the plunge.

Here is the finished product.  

Tuesday, May 23, 2017


I have embarked on a very ambitious project in hopes of bringing more understanding and connection between the community who has been in America for more than one generation and those who have immigrated from other places.   I am calling the project the Emma Lazarus Project.  She is the author of the poem "The New Colossus"  which is inscribed on the Statue of Liberty.  I invite the subject to my studio.  While they are sharing their story, I am sketching them.  I take photos afterwards and paint their portrait in acrylic.  I will write up a one page synopsis from our recorded conversation and will create a book with the image and story side by side.  Naturally, the subject has given me permission to record them and I will let them have final say over anything that is published.  They will receive the sketch as a thank you for letting me paint them and share their story.   I also hope to have an exhibit of the paintings and stories.  Perhaps I can figure out how to include a portion from the audio as well.  

Tbis is my first subject, Fattin.  She is a lovely woman from Indonesia who survived the tsunami.  Her story is powerful and brought both of us to tears as she retold her experiences and how they empowered her and changed her in profound ways.  

If you know of any immigrants who live in near the San Francisco peninsula and would like to participate in this project, please let me know and I will follow up.  

Wednesday, April 5, 2017



I was looking through my work recently and discovered that I liked my drawings more than most of my recent attempts at painting.  I was inspired to do a series of drawings and then pick the most interesting and go from there into a series of some kind.  I wanted to work in a more abstracted way with emphasis on flat shapes.  A really great way to get there is to draw with a cotton mop string dipped in ink and held at the end.  The results are always interesting and the experience is intense, frustrating and sooo much fun!!!   These three drawings were from the same source painting image.  One never has great control but with practice and experimenting you can get better and creating curved lines and picking up where you last ran out of ink,   Give it a try and send my your results.  I would love to see what you do with this idea.  
Here are a few more I did today and the original painting that I was looking at as I dragged my ink filled mop string across the paper.



Here is a mop string drawing based on a stylized drawing.

Sometimes I have more control if I start at the bottom and move the string up.   Try different starting points and come at it from various directions.  How about Upside down!  Smooth paper, Yupo, Tyvek, rough paper.  

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