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.  

Saturday, March 4, 2017


Here is the newsletter page on the WASH website announcing my upcoming demonstration and 2 day workshop in less than 2 weeks!  I am looking forward to spending time with my friends in Sacramento and sharing ideas and painting information.  2 day workshops don't give me very much time so I focus on a very narrow idea with as much information as I can.  We will be dealing with changing the lighting on a portrait.   This is segment of my Advanced Portrait Workshop.  The demonstration the day before the workshop is going to be unrelated to the topic for the workshop. Right now,  I think I will share my thinking process in planning and executing a painting.  That is what I am doing now as I work through ideas for my next series.  I should have lots of supportive materials completed in the next week or so.

Sunday, February 26, 2017


Friday was the last day of a big sale for a local art supply store in preparation of moving to a new location.   I decided to take advantage of the opportunity and buy some expensive oil pastels.   I have about three sets of inexpensive oil pastels and have periodically experimented with using them.  All drawing media intrigues me.  Tbis is a piece I first experimented drawing on a printed background mounted on foam board.  Here are some more colorful oil pastel experiments on top of acrylic printed pages in  a small sketchbook.  I find I like the look and feel of oil pastel over acrylic.  

Saturday, February 18, 2017



The source photo for my latest painting is from a recent trip to San Diego.  After putting this image through various photo app manipulations, I painted this landscape by scraping acrylic over a collaged surface which I had applied to a wooden cradle board.  This was a lot of fun to complete a painting without one actual brush stroke.  I wound up totally covering over the hand printed surface papers but the texture made a huge difference in the final result.  Originally, I had created a much more abstracted image but was struggling with the final touches and then went for a more traditional impressionistic solution.   I really admire many non-representational pieces by others.  Somehow, I find it very difficult to do.  I am trying to challenge myself to work in a more abstracted manner, at least part of the time.  This painting is going to be part of an exhibit of abstracted landscapes by my critic group friends.  I will share more details of where and when after I have the official information.

Friday, February 10, 2017


This is my painting that is on exhibit in the annual Signature Watercolor Show at Fallbrook Art Center.  I was in San Diego last weekend to visit my son and we drove the hour north to the charming mountain community of Fallbrook to attend the opening reception of this fabulous show.  Signature membership in a national watercolor society is a requirement to submit an entry, so the show is full of masterful work.  It must have been a very difficult job for the Juror, Dale Laitinen,  to select the show and award the prizes.  I felt honored to be included.   If you go to their website, you can read a list of the winners.   Unfortunately, there are no images except for Dean Mitchell's winning entry.  

This painting is on "reconstructed tyvek" which is my term for tearing up a failed painting on tyvek and sticking it back down on another failed painting on watercolor paper (or canvas, cradle board etc.)  I glue it down with YES glue so the paper will accept watercolor.  I like how the watercolor paint will seep into the crevices of the surface and create greater texture.  This has become one of my favorite surfaces for painting a very craggy face.  You can tear a sheet of tyvek if you first make a cut in the side of the paper with a scissors.  You can pick up free envelopes of Tyvek at the Post Office.  It isn't necessary to paint on the paper before tearing it up.  I just like to recycle failed paintings and the painted surface adds unexpected elements into the mix.  Try it both ways and see what your preference is.  If you want to purchase sheets of Tyvek, you can order them from  If you know of a place where you can order even smaller quantities of Tyvek, let me know.  

Thursday, February 2, 2017


"THE CLAN" centerpiece of Lifescapes Solo Show

Sunday was an exciting day.   After months of planning and lots of work getting ready. the opening reception for my first solo show was finally here.  My out of town children made the effort to come in to celebrate with me.  A beautiful day and so many friends and well wishers came out.  I am posting a video of the show for those of you who can't come by in person.  The exhibit is up through March 12th.   If you are in the area,  please stop by.  If you let me know when you are coming, I will try to meet you there and give a personal tour of the Museum and artists studios.  The Peninsula Museum of Art in Burlingame Ca. is a true hidden gem.  
 My husband and 3 sons are featured in the centerpiece painting above, The Clan.  Although my eldest son, Bill is very out of focus on this piece, he is featured in another painting in the show.  He is one of my favorite subjects and submits to my constantly photographing him.  My youngest son hates to be photographed so I have very little source material for paintings with him.  My middle son doesn't like me to paint him either.   My husband is a great subject and is pleased to be featured in some of my best efforts.  It is interesting how people feel so differently about being the subject of a painting, and we have to be sensitive to their wishes.  Either way, my family has been tremendously supportive of my art career and my appreciation and gratitude knows no bounds!

Friday, January 27, 2017


This is one of my paintings featured in an article I wrote which is in the latest issue of The Artist's Magazine.  If you are interested in finding new ways to generate ideas for more imaginative paintings, check out my ideas for using digital applications to manipulate photographs for inspiration! I have detailed instructions for getting started and some tips I learned through trial and error.  I based the article on my teaching these ideas in my workshop which shows  many artists how to embrace the digital age with confidence and use these amazing tools to enhance their creativity.

Thursday, January 19, 2017


During President Obama's inaugural address, I took some screen shots off the tv and made these drawings.   They hardly do him justice, but I wanted to pay tribute to a brilliant, elegant and devoted public servant.  This was a class act that we won't be seeing again for a very long time.   

Thursday, January 12, 2017



This is a painting of a wonderful photographer, Gary Bridges.  Not only is he a great photographer, he is a very nice, warm and friendly man.  When I met him, I was taken with his lean rugged countenance and asked if I could photograph him and create some paintings.  He was very gracious and so I took 3 or 4 different poses and have painted 4 or 5 versions.  Because I don't like to paint teeth, my subjects look serious.  In this case, Gary looks downright menacing.  As the song from Porgy and Bess goes, " It ain't necessarily so!" 

This painting is going to be on exhibit starting this weekend with the 2017 national exhibition of the California Watercolor Association.  This is an organization very close to my heart so I was particularly happy to be included in the show.   National shows always have so much competition with excellent level entries vying for too few spots.  Sometimes I am able to make the cut and sometimes not.  Lucky this time!  I am looking forward to attending the opening reception on Saturday the 14th at the Harrington Gallery in the Firehouse Art Center in Pleasanton, Ca.  This is a fabulous venue and I am excited that CWA was able to have this important show here again. Reconnecting with local friends and a few from as far away as Florida is going to be another highlight of the day.

This is a new surface I experimented with.  It is supposed to resemble plaster.  You take paper toweling and separate it into one ply and glue it to the surface (watercolor paper, canvas, wood panel, etc.) with an equal mixture of gesso and mat medium.  I used paper towels that already had some paint on them and would have been thrown away.  I like how the whitish ground has subtle color coming through.  The surface when dry is quite rough, so don't use good sable brushes on it.  I added some watercolor crayon to the final piece which helped to accent the texture and the element of drawing that I feel is important to my work.  

Friday, January 6, 2017


One of my goals this year is to work more with the element of shape.  When my focus is portraiture, shape is an interesting challenge.  I am looking forward to seeing what comes out of this exploration.  The beginning step for me is to create a two value image from my resource material.  I like to play with digital apps to create a NOTAN (Japanese word that is a black and white image)  Value Viewer is a good app to create a 2 value image.  It also will create a 3 value image.  Once I have the notan, then I like to simplify the edges so I can make a stencil to work with.  Imaengine is an app that I use quite a bit.  I save these changes to my photo roll.  I can then put them into other applications for further changes.  This image was part of a demo in my workshop where we work with these apps.  The stencil allowed me to isolate areas of the face for texturing.  

This is a fairly true representation of the color of the actual painting.. This image has been published in the book Incite 4: Relax, Restore, Renew The best of mixed media and in the latest issue of Acrylic Artist.  It appears darker in the published works.  

I hope each of you have decided on some creative challenges for the coming year.  The best way to achieve a goal, according to the latest research, is to figure out what daily small tasks will lead to the success you desire and focus on just doing the activity.  I love this idea!!  So, I have decided that each evening that I sit down to watch tv, I will use my iPad to create a new shape drawing and find another artist who uses shapes in an interesting way.   I am just sitting there, anyway.  Might as well be productive.

Sunday, January 1, 2017


Hanging out with Monet on New Years Day!!
                                           HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL MY FRIENDS!

I have been wanting to get back to posting regularly to my blog for awhile now, but you know how the best of intentions go!  Well, I  had the pleasure of hanging out with Monet today and was inspired to get back on track.  The other thing I did today was listen to a live webinar where the leader talked about the psychology of commitment.   It turns out we are most motivated by pledging money to an organization whose values are the opposite of yours as the penalty of not following through on a commitment.  There is a website where you set your goal, the time frame (mine was for 4 weeks to start with) the day of the week you will record your progress, your pledge amount, pick to organization to receive the money and you can assign someone as a monitor to keep you honest and then you give them your credit card.   They will actually charge your card and send the money to your hated anti organization.  You will definitely see me here every week because there is no way on this planet that I will EVER GIVE THAT EVIL ORGANIZATION ONE NICKLE!!!  Talk about motivation!

I hope each of you have set some goals for yourself this year.  If you have difficulty sticking to a contract between yourself and yourself,  you might want to try this idea yourself.    

This is going to be an exciting month.  I will have a solo show at the end of the month.  More details next week.

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