Wednesday, October 31, 2007


I am excited about the challenge for the month and have already started my small trial painting. I hope you all get excited about it as well and give it a try.

The challenge has 3 parts. You may choose to include all 3 elements, 2 of the 3 or only one of the elements. Remember that this is something to get you started. There are no right or wrong solutions or ideas.

SELECT ANY SUBJECT YOU WANT. I like to work with figures and faces but the challenges can apply to any subject.

COMPONENT #1 INCORPORATE A GRID IN THE DESIGN OF YOUR PAINTING. Keep in mind a grid doesn't need to be even divisions or straight lines. I am using a grid based on a landscape painting by WOLF KAHN. I decided to turn it upside down for my painting. If you are not familiar with this modern master, check him out. He works mostly in pastel and the landscape is his subject matter. His use of color is beyond magical. His work has a strong abstract quality to it. Another interesting source for a grid is quilt patterns. I was at the library today and checked out the book "The Quilts of Gee's Bend". There are some very interesting divisions in these quilts and I think I will record them in my sketch book for future use. These quilts were a major exhibit recently at the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco. One of my portrait students did some great paintings of these wonderful women who created the quilts. But I digress! Of course, you can create your own grid in any way you see fit. The Kaupelis creative drawing book has some wonderful ideas for working with a grid. I have posted the grid I created and you will see a little of how I am working with it but I don't want you to copy how I am using the grid. You can use the divisions to change color...or value..or texture...or image...or shapes...orsize. You can have a drawn line, an implied line, an ivisible line ...the ideas are endless. You can do an entire series where the changes you make each painting is by changing what you do with the grid.

COMPONENT #2 USE A COLOR SCHEME BASED ON A FAVORITE PAINTING. Pick a color scheme that is atypical for your subject matter. Again, I chose a WOLF KAHN painting - the same one I took the grid from. I decide which watercolor pigments will recreate his colors and then stick to those. I do make mixtures from them that don't appear in the Kahn paintings but limiting the pigments sets up a harmony in the painting. I can create a more unusual portrait or figure by using colors from a landscape painting. His colors aren't typical landscapes anyway. This time I am using Ultramarine Violet, Ultramarine Blue, Transparent Orange, Quin Gold and Permanent Green Light.

COMPONENT #3 COAT THE PAPER WITH A DILUTED MIXTURE OF OX GALL. (read the side of the bottle for ratio of ox gall to water) I decided to use the mixture on alternating segments to see if I would notice a difference. I brushed it on and then waited for it to dry before proceeding.

I drew my grid on the watercolor paper with a red Elegant Writer pen. Then I painted the alternating grid pieces with the ox gall mixture and let it dry. Then I drew my figures with the red Elegant Writer pen. These figures are taken from the photos of the John Wayne sculpture I described in the last post. I then started to paint. I am experimenting with several ideas to see how it looks. I will then do a full sheet painting. Doing the little painting is so freeing. When you don't care what happens, you are willing to try unusual ideas. "I wonder what would happen if......?" puts the mystery and excitement back into painting.

I look forward to seeing what all of you come up with. Keep the drawings and paintings coming.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


These are the other Lonesome Dove drawings I did while traveling. Also, a drawing of my friend, Linda. She has one of those faces that look like it will be easy to get a likeness but in reality is very difficult to capture. I will keep at it because I think she is so elegant and has great features.

We landed at the John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California. They have a HUGE bronze statue of the "Duke" with an oversized American Flag behind him. I was able to take some exciting photographs shooting upwards with wonderful distortion of perspective. I am working on designing a painting for the challenge in November. I will post the challenge tomorrow night. I am still considering aspects of the challenge to include. October's challenge was a bust for me but I did learn some things. Hopefully, I will have more success with November.

Monday, October 29, 2007


Every time I go on a trip, I load my carryon tote with all this art material and then I use only a little of it. In the meantime, I am dragging around carry too much weight in my bag. I have finally found a nice system I like with a few supplies and I am much happier. I went to a smaller sketch book, one that I can get in my everyday bag as well. It is 5.5" x 8.5" and spiral bound so it stays flat when open. It is very inexpensive but I think I will upgrade to a better quality paper when I have filled this one up. I am enjoying working with the "Elegant Pen" and better paper will give a nicer result. I experimented this weekend with using two colors - brown and black. The brown is more sanguine so has a flesh tone quality. Very fun. Along with these pens, I carry one of those Japanese brushes with the water in the handle. A packet of tissue and a watercolor set the size of a mint tin. It all fits into a plastic bag in case something leaks. I have been thinking how I can get the effect of the Elegant Writer on watercolor paper. I doubt that these pens are light fast. I am going to try liquid watercolor full strength on tygerag and see what happens. I will try that tomorrow.

Flew Southwest Airlines this weekend. Their inflight magazine had an article on the movie "Lonesome Dove" and some great photos which I played around with. These two images were from the magazine. I did some others which I will post another time.

I have made a slide show of my "people hanging out in the airport bored to death" sketches. Some are from this trip and some are from my 11 hour layover in the Toronto airport in September. In Toronto, I used a Copic wide pen with an extra broad nib (about 1 inch!) in a taupe color, to quickly block in the shape and then went back with a sanguine pen to put the detail in. I used a mechanical pencil for the ones I did this weekend. Never have to sharpen them. I found I could very quickly scribble in the shape, then if they hadn't moved significantly, I could go back and do a fast contour drawing. If I still had time, I could go back again and focus on some details - features, hands, feet, etc.

I have been receiving some very nice e-mails from some of you who I have never met. I almost deleted a few thinking they were spam. Be sure and put something in the subject line so I know what it is about.

Friday, October 26, 2007


One of the challenges I have in sketching is that I like to do people... and people MOVE! It is so frustrating. Just when you are starting to get the gesture, everything changes. So the goal is to learn how to sketch really, really quickly. Also I keep promising myself I am going to train myself to hold an image in my mind so I can remember the "pose". This is a skill I have not spent any time on. It definitely requires practice, practice, practice. I did come across this technique I am showing today, in a book this summer and shared it with Mike Bailey's group that went to France this year. Using a pencil, very quickly block in the general shape moving from top to bottom in a back and forth motion. Then go back and do a fast contour drawing over this beginning, making corrections as you go. Depending on how much time you have before the person moves, you can refine the details. The more you try this technique, the easier and faster you get. So, your challenge this week, if you accept it, is to go out and find some people in a coffee shop, park, shopping center, etc. ...just somewhere to work from life...and do some fast sketching. Everyone will be waiting to see your results, so be sure and send them to me. Below is the slide show from this weeks efforts. I am getting wonderful feedback that everyone is enjoying having the challenges to spur them on. We all need some kick-start. I am seeing that your creativity is kicking in as well and you are going beyond the initial idea.

Nancy had asked me to post the size of my painting that is in the Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society show. It is a little smaller that 1/2 sheet. Each segment is 5 x 7.

I am off to another wedding this weekend, this time in Southern California. I will be doing my sketching in the airport waiting areas. See you back here on Tuesday.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Finally, a painting!!! I coated this paper with diluted acrylic matt medium. It is a very liftable surface and I think I like it better for regular watercolors than the clear gesso. The clear gesso only seems to give me good results with liquid watercolors by Dr. Ph Martin. I used a dip pen with the red ink. It dissolved in a funny way. I'm sure the coating on the paper affects this. I was expecting more like the Elegant Writer ink dissolve, but that didn't happen. Next time I will try untreated watercolor paper and see what happens. I decided to use this little travel watercolor set I put together using 6 waterbottle caps glued into an empty breathmint tin. A clever idea I read in an art magazine. I used a warm and cool of red yellow and blue. Don't like the cool yellow I put in there. I will use it up and then switch to Hansa. The yellow I used is Cad yellow light. The metal lid worked very well for mixing. I overworked part of the painting but over all it is the best effort I have done lately. I decided to do the ink drawing and then just paint and not think about how anyone else paints and just enjoy myself. It gets stressful trying to be someone else! I do want to explore the idea of ink lines incorporated into the image a little more. This is from one of the self portrait photos I took described below.

I had an inquiry from Nancy Standlee regarding my self portraits - was I looking in a mirror or using a photograph? I thought I would share my methodology with everyone. I do use a mirror sometimes, but I have been working from some photographs I took myself. Most cameras have a self timer setting which allows you to set up the camera and then get in position before the shutter releases. I found this fabulous tri-pod called a "Gorilla Pod". I have posted pictures of it taken from their website. As you can see, it is flexible, bendable, amazingly stable and sooooooo much fun. It weighs almost nothing so easy to carry around. Comes in 3 sizes depending on the size and weight of your camera for support. Using this tripod allowed me to get some more unusual angles. I just set it on the table and kept taking pictures until I had it angled the way I wanted. I bought this item in a camera store. I practically bought the store out as I gave one to all my children and my husband last December.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Here are the drawings I did in Phoenix for the two winners of the "build my blog" offer. I am ready to create more drawings, so if you want one, let me know who you have referred. These were done with the "Elegant Writer" Caligraphy felt tip pen. Only the black ink bleeds out blue and pink. Once you get comfortable with contour drawing, it is very fast and fun. A great way to pass the time. I keep a tissue in my hand for blotting so I can control the value a little better. I use one of those brushes that hold water in the handle to wet the ink. I redraw back into it where I need it darker if I have blotted away too much color. You can go back and forth this way any number of times. I bought the pen at Michael's Art Supply.

I have a painting in the San Diego Watercolor Society International show which is going on now. I received news that I received an award. Amazing! This has been such a wonderful year for me. I checked their website today and discovered that the award winning paintings have been posted. I have included the url for the page with my painting of Vern. You can copy and paste as I don't know how to make it a direct clickable link.

Nava, who is the President of the Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society, was telling me of an artist that came to see the show. She found her work at the following web address:
You can see more of her artwork here:
You will be in awe of this fantastic artist. She was so unassuming and self affacing that Nava thought she was a beginner.

While you are at this website, check out some of the other featured artists. There is some incredible work here, much of it has interesting exaggeration. I am going to work on exaggeration some more and see where it leads. I am trying to stick with a few images and push them as far as I can. I finally found a set of colored inks that are lightfast but not waterproof, so they will bleed when wet. Now I can try Shirley Trevena's use of ink. It is so difficult to find colored ink these days. Remember when fountain pens were in common use and you could get all these fabulous colors of ink at the drug store? Peacock Blue rings a bell!

Since I fell in love with Van Gogh's reed pen drawings, I tried to make a reed pen out of a plastic drinking straw the other day but it didn't work too well. I think I will try one of those very thin coffee stirer straws. That might work.

From the comments I am getting along with your drawings, I see that you are taking these challenges and adding your own twists! That is exactly what I was hoping for. Hilda is drawing Jeopardy contestants right from the TV. Nava is using TiVo to slow things down a bit. The "What if ???????" factor is at work here and I look forward to seeing what you are doing.

If you have discovered some artists' websites that you find exciting, please share. I will post and we can all check them out.

Monday, October 22, 2007

1st Place Award!!!!!!!!!!!!

This was the exciting message from Nava regarding the Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society Annual! I had to miss the opening reception and awards ceremony because I was out of town for a family wedding. I was amazed to win over some very very amazing paintings. This watercolor society has many world-class talented artists, so I feel so very honored. I decided to post the painting in it's developmental stage. You can see the finished painting on my website at I hope many of you take the time to photograph your paintings as they progress. It makes a helpful record and you never know when it will come in handy.

While I was traveling, inbetween celebrating, I had some time to work a few drawings for those of you who are helping me build the blog base. Remember, share the blog with 5 friends who subscribe and I will send you a drawing. I will post them tomorrow.

I never used to carry a sketch book around with me even though every art instructor tells you to do so. Even on the busiest of days, it is helping to get at least a little drawing in. I am seeing a difference with constant practice. Hope you are, too.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


Here is your Friday challenge: Take your wire sculpture drawing and see if you can pare it down to one continuous line. Here are some of the drawings I did taking on this challenge. I found this challenge required some interesting thinking and unusual choices. I am thinking what I can do to incorporate some of these images into a painting. I was glad to be working on somebody else's face for a change. I am getting really sick of my own. I have been painting little practice paintings all week and getting nowhere. I am thinking that the clear gesso surface is best when using liquid watercolor. I am really struggling with regular watercolor. Sometimes we learn more from failure than success. That is what I am telling myself today, anyway. It reminds me of the line from the children's books The Berenstein Bears: "This is what you should not do!"

We leave Friday for a wedding in Phoenix and return on Monday, so I will be taking my sketch book and camera with me and look forward to finding lots of your submissions in my e-mail box when I return.

A free drawing for having 5 friends subscribe to the blog is an on-going offer.

Wow, the first slide show! Let me know what you think. Can you see the details well enough? Do you prefer having each one posted separately? You can click on each image to stop it. You can click on "view all images" and see it larger.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


CONGRATULATIONS TO NAVA! She is the first person to win a free drawing! Thank you for helping grow the blog.

I was inspired by Justin Bua's work. Spent an hour in bed this morning reading his book. He grew up in the roughest of New York City neighborhoods and now he is an art professor in Southern California. How wonderful the transformative power of art! Today, I went back to the drawing board, literally. I made three drawings, the first two small and the third one on a large sheet. My goal was to simplify and exaggerate. I thought it would be easier to do an exaggeration of my own face than someone elses but it was hard to decide what to exaggerate. I think vanity finally got in the way! The second drawing I made myself heavier so I decided to make my face longer and thinner in the last version. I will play around with the characature some more and try some other variations but for now, I think I have enough to start a painting.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Lots of discoveries in the last few days. I am really rethinking my challenge for the month - I am struggling with it - and I thought it would be relatively easy to do. I did a practice painting last night trying to get into the style of Shirley Trevena. Lord, it was awful!! I must say, watercolor is the most frustrating medium!! I never get this feeling with other materials. That's because I can just cover over the mess and keep going until it works. On the other hand, when it works, nothing has the same sense of accomplishment. Like the "thrill of victory and the agony of defeat!" I think I discovered I can't think like anybody but me! You would suspect it wouldn't take this many years to figure that one out. So maybe trying to do something in someone else's style is not a good idea. But I think there is a kernel of something in the idea. I am going to try to pick one idea from an artist and try just incorporating one thing! I am also starting to see what most of my favorite artists have in common. That is probably the thing I should be focusing on first. For me, it is some form of simplification. I am going to go back to my sketchbook and work on simplifying my drawing.

Along those lines, I was in the bookstore today looking for colored ink. I decided that was the first thing I was going to take from Shirley Trevena - drawing the image with colored ink that will bleed when wet. Naturally, I drifted over to the art books. I discovered the most amazing young artist. I just thought his work was so exciting, original and it reminded me of a number of artists I love. I have captured a few images from his website for you to see. I see elements of Egon Scheile, Thomas Hart Benton, and David Levine to name a few! I love characatures because they are the essence of the person and then exaggerated. I am going to try and distill and exaggerate, probably in a more subtle way. If you have ever tried to create a characature you know it is much harder than getting an exact likeness. I have posted Justin's book in the reading suggestion list on the side. When you check out his website, look at the cool canvas shoes he has designed, also t-shirts. Quite a marketer. Good for him!

Speaking of great drawings, I have been receiving lots of great work from everybody this week. I am going to put it all in a slideshow to be posted Thursday night. If you want to get in on the fun, send me your efforts by Thursday afternoon.

Sunday, October 14, 2007


Another exciting day! I finally was accepted into 3 California Watercolor National Shows (this is my 3rd year) and so I received my "Signature" membership today at the reception. The show is at the Officer's Club at the Presidio in San Francisco. What a gorgeous venue and the exhibition space is fantastic. Congratulations to all who put this impressive show together. Maggie Metcalf has been working many, many long hours as co-chairperson along with Marilyn Miller and they can be very proud of what they have done. I did work on a painting for a few hours today, but mostly I was having a good time at the show. Here I am in front of one of the "Verns" with my husband, Jerry.

When I returned home there was a message on the machine that one of the "Nick and Guitar" series sold today at the Gallery Concord! I was very excited but also sad to see it leave the "nest". I get attached to most of my paintings but the walls are full and my studio is filling up, so it is good to have it go to a new home.

Nancy e-mailed me the directions for making a slide show. I tried it out and it worked!! Hurrah! So now we need more of you to send in what you have been working on regarding the challenge so I can put it into a slide show. I think I will hold all the entries and do a weekly slide show. In order to have more entries, we need to have more participants so....HERE IS THE SPECIAL OFFER:

If you have 5 of your artist friends register on my blog, I will send you a pen and ink contour drawing. They can be anywhere in the world! As you know, a registered person just gets an e-mail letting them know when I do a new post. I never have any contact with them unless they e-mail me. The new people registered can then get a drawing by getting 5 other new people, etc. etc.

Saturday, October 13, 2007


Finally, I had some time to paint today. I found a few images on the sports page and did a few football ink with brush on phonebook warmup drawings. Then I continued working on my Charles Reid practice painting I had started in Las Vegas. I took all I needed to paint with me but I was distracted with family business so I didn't do much. I did sketch during the time I was sitting around waiting and on the plane coming home. I am getting better at utilizing those wasted moments by having a small sketch book with me.

I'm not that thrilled with the Charles Reid attempt but I did concentrate on focusing on the light shapes and preserving them and linking shapes of common value together. Also, I decided to leave a lot more white space than I normally do, as this is also part of his style. I realized that I am going to have trouble with alot of these images because I treated the paper with a diluted clear gesso. Reid's style (and that of many others I like) depend on an untreated surface so that the colors will mingle in a particular way. I am doing my practice pieces on untreated paper but I will have to just do the best I can on the big sheet. I really didn't think that one through!

While I was visiting my sister in Israel in September, I came across an old watercolor magazine printed in England. There was a woman featured in the magazine who just grabbed my attention. When I got home, I "Googled" her. What did we do before the internet? Her name is Shirley Trevena - and Amazon has a book by her called "Taking Risks with Watercolour" published by Collins. It was waiting for me when I got home! I absolutely love this woman's work. I read it in bed in two nights. Today, I decided to try some of her techniques on a practice sheet. I was trying everything I could think of so, naturally, things got out of hand. It didn't matter, because I was just testing and messing. She is into lines, texture, COLOR, value and composition. Everyone is turned on by different elements and different artists, but for me Shirley has the incredible blend of abstraction and realism that I am working towards. It is interesting challenge to translate what she does with flowers and still lifes into figures and faces . Anyway, I had a lot of fun playing around. I am posting a detail of a great technique described in the book. I have never come across this idea before, so I wanted to share. Using a piece of coarse sandpaper, hold it over a wet wash (or wet a section of the watercolor paper). Rub a watercolor pencil on the sandpaper and the granules will fall into the wet area and not stick to the dry paper. It makes a great texture and creates a nicely sharpened pencil as well!

Friday, October 12, 2007


Here is the next challenge and you are going to have a great time with this one. I am combining several drawing exercises from the book into one. Using a discarded phone book (and you threw yours out!) is an idea used by FRANZ KLINE (AMERICAN ARATISTS 1910-1962) This is such a liberating surface because you really aren't worried about messing up an expensive piece of paper...and...look how many pages you have to work with! There is some bleeding from the previous drawing to the next, but it doesn't matter. Try as many different "tools" that will put ink on the page. I used a cheap Chinese brush (India ink will ruin a good brush) a bristle brush, a stick, an extra-wide Copic marker in blue, and a very large bamboo pen. I poured the ink into a shot glass so I could get different size drawing implements into the ink. When I was done, I poured the ink back into the bottle. I wanted to do gesture drawings but I don't have time to get to a life drawing class, so I use the sports section of the newspaper for great action shots and I also check out the library. They have a section of books for sale donated by friends of the library for a fundraising project. These books are usually only a dollar or two. I found a fantastic book on Michael Jordan for $1.50 Some of the photos were taken from directly overhead and had just the most amazing shapes. Very fun. Also there were some distorted camera angles. The one I love the most is the "raisin head" with huge butt and extra large hand. It was fun to draw. This gives me ideas how I can distort a figure even if the camera didn't. The next time I go to a life drawing session, I am taking a phone book! These are warm up exercises that really get you in the mood to paint. Make lots of them and send me several of your favorites. Hopefully I will have figured out how to make a slide show of them.


Finally, I am back home and able to share with everyone these exciting contributions to the "Magnified" drawing challenge. This is from Kathy Mitchell and here is what she had to say about the process: "I have to say this was a difficult challenge for me.
I do not have your courage andI tired quickly of
staring at at my wrinkles. Therefore, these are relatively
quick sketches done with ball point pen
and calligraphy marker. The angle of the mirror
and the curve have distorted the features just
enough that I am familiar, but not exact."

Did you recognize Nava? Here is what she had to say: "I look very worried in the first one, so I decided to kill the seriousness, and went for a more unique pose....and so, here I am in the second one, making fish face. It was a truly fun exercise. Though I do not have a serious magnifying mirror (I used the Mary Kay one I got from you), it did force me to really, really look at myself. I discovered some interesting things about the inside of my eyes, found new chins I never knew I had (thank you very much for that!), and - in the second version, I worked hard on trying to render the smile I had in my eyes. It was fascinating to see how little wrinkles and puffs below the eyes make the smile, even when the lips are so distorted! On the other hand, holding the fishy pose for 30 minutes is truly painful.... I do suffer for my art!"

If you enjoy Nava's delightful writing as well as her great drawings, check out her blog by clicking on the link on the right side of the page.

I am going to post a separate post for this Friday's new art challenge.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


I just received an e-mail from the editor of Artist Magazine. She informed me that I have been chosen out of over 500 entries to be featured in the March 2008 issue on "Fabulous Artists over 60"!! What an incredible honor. I was nominated by someone I don't even know. Wow!

I am in Las Vegas helping my brother and will be home Thursday night. I am able to use his computer but my laptop is not picking up a signal so I can't upload images or download my photos until I get home. I did receive a wonderful "magnified drawing" which I will post Thursday night. I am able to do some drawing and I started another trial Charles Reid painting which is better than the last but I still need so much practice. He has so many little things to pay attention to it is like keeping all those plates spinning on those sticks in circus acts. I think if you focus on just one or two things until they become second nature and then move to the next thing, eventually you master what you want to accomplish. Trying to focus on too many things at once results in paralysis.

I hope everyone is keeping their brushes wet. Keep forwarding me your efforts.

Sunday, October 7, 2007


These drawings are from Hilda. One is a self-portrait done while holding a hand mirror, the other two are her grandsons. I especially like the one in his warrior mode. Great Expression!! I am excited that everyone is taking the challenge and sharing what you come up with.

This weekend was filled with art, Today I drove with a friend 50 miles to Mike's Open Studio in Santa Cruz. A beautiful day, a beautiful drive and a most art inspiring open studio. Be sure and check out Mike's blog if you haven't yet. From there, Joyce and I drove back to an Art Show in Menlo Park where Joyce received the "Best of Show" award!! To top off the day, my husband and I went to a huge, excellent outdoor art fair in a nearby town. I saw some exciting work and came home ready to paint myself. I started my "Charles Reid" practice piece and it really got away from me. Run it under the sink, let it dry and started again but I'm not happy with the results. I think I am trying to concentrate on too many different things at the same time and it's not working. I think I will do several practice pieces and just focus on one thing i.e. brush handling or color mixing etc.

I will be taking off for Las Vegas tomorrow for 4 days to help out my brother (no casinos or gambling for me). I will take my laptop and my paints and see what I can accomplish when my services are not needed elsewhere. Keep sending me your drawings and paintings.

Related Posts with Thumbnails