Thursday, January 31, 2008


I love seeing paintings in a series! These look great. Thank you for sharing your interpretation of the January Painting Challenge. If I have accidentally left someone out or one of your paintings out, please let me know. I can add to the slide show at any time. Tomorrow I will reveal the February Challenge.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


I was determined to finish something today! I worked on Kaleidoscope but can't seem to get very far at one time. The way I am painting it, there is so much down time waiting for it to dry. I have to be consistent so the heads look enough alike. I also have it on a very large piece of plexiglass as it was the only support around big enough to hold the painting. It makes it awkward painting because it needs to stay flat. I am leaning over pretty far. Well, I getting there but it is taking way longer than I like.

In the meantime, I finished number 4. I tried Alex Power's technique of splashing diluted gesso on part of the painting and then spraying parts for texture. I think it came out okay but I don't really have this technique down very well. I panic and then spray the hell out of it. I think I need to try it on a non-objective piece or something that I am going to cover up. That way I can be free and not worry I am messing it up. I used the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser on the glasses. Great way to lift paint. I think it is less abrasive than most methods used too lift watercolor. I was thinking of creating a stencil for the lifted areas for a crisper edge and then decided to take the fast and easy route. Anyway, I like that her hair looks soft and wispy and thin. The only criteria I met on this painting was Blue Violet Mother Color.

I had a really fun idea for painting #5 but the month has run out. I will keep it in mind for another time. I will post the rest of the sets of requirements so those of you who would like to do the entire series will have them. I have February's Painting challenge in mind. I just have to work out the final details.

Monday, January 28, 2008


I actually worked on the Kaleidoscope painting today. I can't believe it isn't finished yet. I do think it will be an interesting painting when done. I tried to work on all three heads that are left at once. I got part way into it and then went on to finish just one.

I had worked on the #4 painting the other day but haven't posted my progress on it. So, this is where I am at this point. As you can see, I don't have that etheral, mystical feeling anymore. I crave contrast and drama, so that is the direction I always move toward. I like what is happening here. It is interesting to me that the graphite isn't very obvious now. I think I will try this idea again and do a very detailed graphite drawing and then paint over it. I am thinking of floating a gesso wash over the top part of the painting before it is through. I will wait and see how it looks after I put in the final darks and make the adjustments for final light touches.

I found a new magic eraser at the grocery store today. That is the cleaning product with Mr. Clean on the box that is a wonderful tool for watercolorists. This new one is extra tough. I am curious whether it will lift more than the other one. I was told that someone called Proctor and Gamble to ask if there was bleach in the little white block. They said it was chemical free. It is the material itself that does the work. I also picked up a box of Stretch and Seal plastic wrap. I'm going to experiment with it as a resist. It makes a different texture when pressed into wet paint than the standard plastic wrap. Better painting through chemistry!

Sunday, January 27, 2008


I attended both the morning and afternoon sessions of the Model's Guild Drawing Marathon. I saw Sunny there. She, too, has been practicing with the Pose Maniac website and we both were amazed how much quicker we were able to draw today! All of the drawings on the phone book are one or two minute poses. After doing 30 second drawings on the computer, two minutes seemed so generous a time frame! When they went to 5 minutes and 10 minutes, I switched to different paper. I brought 4 half sheets of tyvek to experiment with so I did two in the morning and two in the afternoon. On the colored pieces, I used acrylic inks. I thought I had packed fluid acrylics but discovered they were left in my office after it was too late to do anything about it. I also forgot to pack a water container!! I really am not myself today. Fortunately, I found a plastic water container there, so no problem. For the brown tone, I used walnut ink. The blue scribbles are the wide copic marker and the dark line is a fine copic marker in black. I used my sharpened match in the pen holder to draw with ink and paint.

I made an interesting discovery. The acrylic color went all the way through the tyvek paper and made a very exciting textural pattern. Watercolor doesn't go through the paper so I was surprised but really liked the effect. I am going to try putting a second sheet of paper behind the first next time I paint with this material and then do a painting with what is transfered. I have posted the front, back and detail of one of these paintings. This was a 10 min. pose. The acrylic dries much faster than the watercolor, which makes it a viable choice for this fast kind of work. There is no time to let it dry!

I have also posted the only 20 minute pose we had all day! I had time to paint in some background as well. The acrylic made some very interesting textural effects here as well. I added some India ink for the black accents.

Tomorrow it's back to #'s 2 and 4 of the January Painting Challenge!

Saturday, January 26, 2008


Here is the latest slide show. Enjoy! The month is swiftly coming to a close. I am still working on #2 and #4 but I think there may be time for one more this month. So, for those of you who are letting me do the random selection, here are the criteria for #5: (I am opening them as I write this!) MOTHER COLOR: LEMON YELLOW....COMPOSITION: CHECKERBOARD (here's where your grid experience will come in handy) DOMINANT DESIGN ELEMENT: DIRECTION (this one is left up to what you think direction means in this context).

Sunday is the Drawing Marathon at the Palo Alto Center. It will probably be pouring rain, so a great day to be inside drawing. I hope to see some of you there!

Friday, January 25, 2008


The day started with an e-mail from my cousin in Kansas City, informing me that my dear friend of 40 years and fellow artist, Satin Sturdevant, died unexpectedly yesterday. This is my tribute to her memory.

Satin graduated the University of Missouri at Kansas City with an art degree . During this time she became best friends with my sister, Harriet, and through that friendship became a friend of our entire family.

Satin was a very talented artist. I have posted the one photograph I have of her work. This was done in a workshop I led in her Images Art Gallery in 2006. It was Satin who promoted me and made that workshop possible.

You can see more of her work by visiting her website. The following is taken from her website

"After painting in several mediums I concentrated on watercolor for it's challenges and excitement. Watercolor is a magical medium and every painting I do is an adventure. My subject matter is quite varied and I find it exhilarating to explore new territory. I love to travel for research material as well as paint in areas and markets in the Kansas City area.

My paintings represent what I see with what I feel. My main objective is to get a feeling for my subject without overdoing it on the paper. I use top brand archival paints on 100 rag paper.

After receiving a BA in Studio Art from University of Missouri at Kansas City, I taught art for several years and did post graduate work at UMKC and KU. I've participated in local art fairs throughout the city and my watercolors have been accepted in National Art shows.

I'm a member of Images Art Gallery, the Kansas City Artist’s Coalition, Summit Art, and Greater Kansas City Art Association."

Besides being very active in regional art activities, participating in many shows and winning awards, She also helped build the reputation of the Images Art Gallery and managed their web site as well as being the Workshop Chairman for a number of years. Along with all these activities, she was also a wonderful and caring teacher.

Satin will be remembered for her warm smile, positive enthusiastic personality, and her generous and caring spirit.
Good by, dear friend. You will be missed by everyone who knew you.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


I wasn't going to post as I didn't do a whole lot on this painting today, but I changed my mind as I decided to document the different stages. This painting has a soft quality so I thought graphite would be a better choice than charcoal, so I started laying in value with the graphite stick. I have seen some very interesting and effective paintings that have a grisaille under painting of graphite. I have never tried that, so here was my chance. Tomorrow I will finish this painting. Don't be surprised if it takes on a very different character. I don't do high key paintings very well. I love drama and strong value changes. I am really feeling a strong urge to punch it up a bit! I'll start with going over the graphite with color and see how it looks and then decide what direction to go in. I probably will need to do another painting that follows the constraints I set out to do...shape as dominant element and cruciform as compositional design.

I also worked on the Kaleidoscope image. It is moving toward the finish line soooooo slowly, but ever so steady.

I had some time this morning before I left for critique group to work with the pose maniac website. I keep a phone book under my desk for the drawings. It is so freeing to have tons of pages available and not caring if I mess up. Today I decided to start with the pose of the day and take my time. You can rotate these poses so I did several versions. Then I went to the negative shape ones and did contour drawing for awhile. Lastly I tried the 10 sec. poses!!!! It was interesting watching myself adapting to the pressure of time as I altered how I drew to finish in the 10 seconds! Because I am sitting in front of the computer to do this, I am working much smaller than I normally do. I was thinking it would be an interesting challenge to fill in the missing lines in the negative drawings as they are silhouettes. These are not timed views so you can sit there as long as you need to get the drawing completed. I thought some of them had intriguing possibilities combined in a composition.

So many ideas, so little time!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

CHANNELING ALEX POWERS....I WISH! January Painting Challenge #4

While I persistently work on painting #2, the Kaleidoscope one, I am forging ahead with the next painting. This is #4 in the series. I need Cruciform design, shape element and Blue Violet for the Mother Color. I was thinking I wanted to leave a lot more undefined in this one. So, I got out my Alex Powers book, which is well worn, underlined, highlighted, flagged etc. to get some ideas how I might proceed. I will post the book on my reading list but it is now out of print and very pricey. Perhaps it is available in the library. I love every thing he does in this book, but I was interested in trying the mixed media idea of charcoal, watercolor and pastel, perhaps some gesso, too. What the heck! It's like cooking without a recipe...a dash of this, a pinch of that. Anyway, after doing a bunch of thumbnail sketches to figure out the light/dark cruciform shape I drew the image with charcoal on the watercolor paper. This is the first image above. Then I started putting in the Blue Violet color and saving some of the white areas. Blue Violet is one of my favorite colors but it is such a weak pigment, it is frustrating. I was working upright so the paint was dripping but I thought that looked like an Alex Power technique. Things started to get out of hand quickly! I kept working back and forth and the second image is where things left off for the day. I really like what has happened at the bottom under the head. Wish I knew exactly what I did to get that effect! It would be nice to be able to add it to my technique list but I don't think I could do it again. Darn! I started using a cheap little sponge brush for moving the paint and lifting color, etc. This turns out to be quite a handy little tool! It's nice to have something that costs 10 cents to put beside my Kolinsky Sables.

Now I have to do some serious thinking. I have lost the cruciform composition and it's definitely not a shape painting. I have been true to the Blue Violet, at least. I can get the cruciform back and make shape a dominant element, but I am liking what is happening and will probably let the painting guide me rather than force it into an arbitrary preconceived idea. The whole idea of the challenges is to set up something to motivate us to create past the photograph. If things take off in a different direction than you planned and you like what is happening, see where it will take you.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


I photographed the painting and while I was looking at it I found a few areas I wasn't happy with. I thought I would post both so you can see what subtle changes do to a painting. The first thing I noticed....I had stepped away from the painting. I had painted it flat on the table, which gives a distorted perspective. It makes a big difference viewing the painting from a I was saying, what I noticed was a shadow on her upper lip that seemed too dark, her chin didn't seem quite right and the blue jacket stopped too abruptly and too soon. I was trying to leave the back of the head and garment vague to create a stronger sense of triangular shapes. I had a little tinted gesso left from painting #1, so I was able to go lighter with opaque or semi opaque and improved the final painting.

I really like this surface a lot. It was fun to paint on. I was very surprised that the tissue didn't disintegrate. Next time, I would like to try adding additional texture with Japanese lacy patterns. I am out of texture as a design element for this series, so I will put it on hold for awhile.

I am going to send in some entries for the next "Strokes of Genius" book by Northlight. I was reviewing my images last night and saw quite a few by many of you that are worth entering. Especially the "wire sculpture" drawings. You can download the entry form from the website: It is only $7 for one entry. I was reading a comment by H. C. Dodd, an award winning watercolorist who started painting seriously at age 67, 16 years ago. (At least I didn't wait that long!) She said "Competitions help you keep score and measure your growth. If you don't try, you've already voted yourself a rejection." The deadline is March 31st. You can submit digital images burned onto a CD as well as slides. DON'T WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE!

Monday, January 21, 2008


Well, every experiment doesn't work out. Just ask Thomas Edison. Fortunately , the second attempt seems to be on the right track. I was very unhappy with my collage of Tyvek onto watercolor paper. It didn't stick well and bubbled in places. Perhaps it would work on a different sub strait and with a stronger acrylic medium but I decided to cut my losses. Still working with Triangular design, texture as dominant element and Quin Gold as the mother color, I started again.

I wet the paper and put down a loose wash of Quin Gold all over the paper. That takes care of the Mother Color! Next, I drew with a sanguine Pitt pen and sketched the head. I did a lot of restating lines to correct the drawing. I figure I can use opaque paint in areas I need to cover. After the wash dried, I glued down torn white tissue paper with diluted YES glue and let that dry. Lastly, I started painting. I decided to try YES Glue because it would accept watercolor over it easily as opposed to acrylic medium. I had never painted over the glue before so I wanted to see how it would look. I thought the tissue paper would be a good texture for old, wrinkled skin. The glue is creating a texture of its own with the paint and there is a softness to the whole thing that is appealing to me. I had to stop and make dinner, so I will finish this one tomorrow. I was concerned that the tissue would disintegrate with multiple washes but the glue seems to have created a workable surface. I did get carried away in the beginning and some of the tissue started to ball up. I slowed down and was more careful after that. I tried painting while the tissue was still wet with the glue, and that turns out to be a bad idea. Patience is not one of my strong suits but watercolor demands it at times. I think painting in watercolor creates a discipline for the rest of our lives, as well. I worked back and forth today on the Kaleidoscope painting and this one. It's good to have two going at once.

Saturday, January 19, 2008


I finished this painting and matted it today. This painting is so untypical of what I paint that it presented itself as a real challenge. I never do masses of flowers and lots of details with foliage and such. I was having fun experimenting with brush work and creating variety in the greens. It is from our summer painting trip in the Bordeaux area of France with Mike Bailey. I fell in love with the beautiful yellow umbrellas at Petite Rousset and took so many photos of the garden and pool area. When I got home I wanted to jump right into painting so I started this one and didn't quite finish it. Now I am working on finishing pieces half started while the paint dries on the Kaleidoscope painting. I can't seem to get more than one head done at a session. It is taking me forever but I just keep plugging away. Four heads down and four to go.

If you receive the posts by e-mail and would like to see this painting enlarged, then go to the actual blog and click on the painting. You can also read and/or post comments on the blog page. I'm pretty sure there is a place that you can click in the e-mail that will take you right there.

I have had a request for the next set of parameters for the January painting challenge. I am not ready for them but for those of you who want to do the next painting using my sets, here is painting #4: CRUCIFORM composition....a large shape touching somewhere on all four sides of the painting; SHAPE is the dominant element; BLUE VIOLET is the Mother Color. This one shouldn't be too much of a stuggle. Looking forward to seeing your results. I hope to be caught up by next week and start on this one, myself.

I have been finding some very interesting sites lately. One is an art coach who has a weekly newsletter (free) and a blog site as well. I have subscribed to it. You never know when a good tip will come your way. Go to On that blog site she had a link to Thoughts from the Universe. This is very new age along the lines of the book "The Secret". In fact, I think this guy is in that book. You can sign up for a positive message to arrive in your e-mail box every day. Not sure about that one, but a positive message to start your day can't hurt.

I found another website that is for writers to help with their creativity. Great place to get titles for paintings, or art shows, etc. I am going to use it for February's challenge so the actual site won't be revealed until then.

Friday, January 18, 2008


Some submissions this week from new contributors. I love the variety. Keep sending in your work to share on the blog.
It has been a busy few days. Yesterday I tried drawing with a single edge razor blade and ink. I got this idea from Nicholas Simmons blog where he was sharing about a mentor of his who has since passed away. This was a technique of his. I don't know how the guy kept the ink on the blade. I tried for an hour to get it to work and then decided to give up on the idea. I guess I will find some use for these blades eventually.

I did the Pose Maniac 30 second fast draw yesterday and today. I decided I needed to master the 60 second ones first. Then I will move down to 30 seconds, and then 15. I am loving the weird perspectives they created. I tried looking for similar sites but didn't have any luck. I am just going to stay with this one. There is going to be another drawing marathon at the Palo Alto Cultural Center on Sunday, so I am warming up for it by doing these drawings. I better find another phone book!

I put the finishing touches on a landscape painting this afternoon. I will post that tomorrow and worked on the Kaleidoscope image for awhile.

Tonight there was a reception at the Triton Museum for the California Painting Competition. There was another opening for the Plein Aire painters in the next gallery. The museum was jammed with people. It was exciting to see so many people out looking at art. The California show had a wide range of images, painting genres and styles. There were some HUGE canvases. The painting that won the Gold Medal was a self portrait as big as a Chuck Close painting and super realistic. It was fantastic. Freckles, sun spots, warts, was all there. My painting seemed lost in the corner low to the ground but it was there and I was honored to be part of the show and have a painting hanging in a museum. It must be a nightmare figuring out how to hang a show like this. Over all, they did a great job.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

POSE MANIAC ADDICTION! A new drawing challenge

I did a lot of drawing today. I have posted a few of the drawings from my sketchbook with the recycled paper. Let me tell you about the amazing website I used to do these drawings. Somewhere in my roaming about the internet from website to blogsite, etc. I found in a links column the Pose Maniacs blog. The title intrigued me so off I went to explore. It is in Japanese with a few words in English. I saved it in my computer and didn't do anything with it until today. Now I am hooked. I am going to try and draw from this website a little each day. The best way to get to this blog site is to Google it first by putting in pose maniacs (keep it two words) The blog site comes up first and you can click on the "translate this page" so it will appear in English.

The images are computer drawn with all the muscles showing (no skin, hair, genitals) and floating! You can see the bottom of the feet in many of the poses and other amazing angles. You can also rotate the figures so you can get the same pose from 360 degrees! There is a pose for the day, every day. There is also a cast shadow on many of the poses. You can also do fast poses. I did the 60 second one, but there is also a 10, 15, 30, 90 second option. You choose. They put up 15 different poses which change every 60 seconds (in my case) so it is like having a life drawing session as often as you want. I believe they have a different set of poses each day. Having the muscles showing is a great learning experience which you absorb as you draw. There is probably much more on this website but I haven't taken the time to check everything out. They do have a section where the figure is solid gray but I personally didn't find that worthwhile. There are also U Tube videos of people drawing the 30 second fast draw that are very fun to watch. They also post some suggestions on how to do the fast draw exercises.

This website is designed for artists and designers, cartoonists, etc. and they encourage you to utilize it with total freedom.

So this is going to be my drawing challenge to myself and others. If you do some drawings for this site, send them in an e-mail and I will make a fun slide show. You don't have to do the fast studies, just any drawings based on the material on this web site.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


I reframed the painting for AWS. wrestled it into a special shipping box, wrestled it into and out of the car and handed it over to FedX for safe keeping. I was totally exhausted by the time I got home. The other task I competed yesterday was to get my workshop teaching schedule put on my website. So, if you are interested, check it out. The one workshop not listed is for a private group of ten painters in Oakland who paint together and book their own workshops. Interesting idea!

Today I worked on my kaleidoscope image for awhile and then decided that I needed to get back to drawing everyday. I take tons of photos and so often never do anything with them. My new goal is to do some drawings from them shortly after I take them. I was pleased with a number of the photographs I took at the SCVWS Anniversary party. While people were listening to the speaker, I was busy taking photos. Some nice reflective, relaxed gestures. You may recognize a few of these faces. I wasn't trying for a perfect likeness, but if you recognize yourself and let me know, I will give you the drawing as payment for showing up here on the blog unannounced. The gentleman was sitting at the next table but he was lost in thought and wasn't paying a bit of attention to me. He reminded me of my grandfather. I practiced holding the camera down in my lap and tilting it up to take the shot.

Nava is posting her notes from the John Salminen workshop this week on her blog. Check it out. She is off to a great start.

My laptop screen went blank late this afternoon. I am trying not to panic. Technology reminds me of that childhood rhyme, "when she was good she was very very good but when she was bad she was horrid."

Sunday, January 13, 2008


Yesterday I took the day off and went to a great party given by the Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society celebrating 40 years of creativity!! Nava did a terrific job as the Emcee 'cause she's the prez. She received big accolades for the fantastic job she is doing which embarrassed the hell out of her, which was fun to watch. She deserved every compliment heaped upon her.

Today, back to the business of creating art. I toyed with the idea of going to a demo by John Salminen but I have seen him demo before, and the truth is, his genius in painting cannot be demonstrated in an hour or 2, so I thought I would be better served painting. I have his DVD from Creative Catalyst Productions and it is fabulous. Really gives one a plan for creating an abstract plus how to evaluate your painting as you go along as well as how to look at an abstract painting with some intelligence.

Back to painting #3. I am continuing to work on the kaleidoscope painting while I am working on this one. I pulled the following set of requirements: Composition....Triangular; Mother Color...Quin Gold; Design Element...Texture! I must be a magnet for texture but this will be the last one in this series as I duplicated the element only once. Amazing out of 3 pulls I got texture twice.

This image is pretty much triangular in composition already as the top of the head is cut off giving the upside-down base. The profile and jaw line give the other two sides. Her garment is another triangular shape. I decided to add repetition by putting triangle patterns for the background. I was curious if Tyvek would work as a collage material, so I created two sheets of splashed color - one warm skin tones and one mostly cool colors and did all kinds of textural tricks on the wet paint then let it dry. Stage one shows the drawing I did on regular 140 lb Arches cold press watercolor paper. I used a pitt pen in sanguine and just jumped right in drawing after making a thumbnail in my sketch book to see if I liked the general idea. I figured I was going to cover up everything so I didn't have to worry about mistakes. My drawing broke the face into shapes. Next I took a sheet of tracing paper and traced the drawing. Now I have my pattern for the collage pieces. I cut out the large shapes first and glued them down with diluted matte medium. I coated both the paper and the back of the tyvek. I'm not sure this is going to stick very well. I may need to explore other "glues" I will worry about that later. I started cutting out smaller shapes and sticking them down . The watercolor paper is looking messy but it will get covered up so I am not worried about keeping it pristine. I initially thought I would use some of my tissue paper collage with this but as I see it develop, I'm not sure how that will work. It is an experiment, so I am evaluating and adjusting as I go. So far, the mother color hasn't been used, but I think I will probably do a final glaze with it to unify the painting.

Now I have to go clean up the dining room and breakfast room of the gigantic mess I have created. I really start to spread out when I get going and keep looking for a clean surface to work on! It's fun when work is play.

Friday, January 11, 2008


The new year is off to a great start with these paintings. I know more are out there so be sure and send me an e-mail with your solutions to the challenge.

I made a discovery recently that you could use Google in a new way. If you put in a search and then use Google Images all these pictures pop up. I thought I was the last person on the planet to discover this feature, but it turns out many of us were clueless. In case you are one of us who didn't know this existed, check it out.

I found this on the internet today and thought it was worth sharing. It was on Keri Smith's blog. Food for thought!


!. Constantly compare yourself to other artists.
2. Talk to your family about what you do and expect them to cheer you on.
3. Base the success of your entire career on one project.
4. Stick with what you know
5. Undervalue your expertise.
6. Let money dictate what you do.
7. Bow to societal pressures.
8. Only do work that your family would love
9. Do whatever the client/customer/gallery owner/patron/investor asks.
10. Set unachievable/overwhelming goals to be accomplished by tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008


I AM ECSTATIC!!!!!!! Today's mail brought the fabulous news that my painting "Reflections on Turning 65" was accepted into AWS National Show. Most of you know that this is the most difficult show to get accepted into. You only get to submit one slide and they receive thousands. I thought I would never get in. Every year I would submit my best work and every year I simply made my financial contribution to their organization in the form of my entry fee. One of my favorite jokes is about the man who bitterly complained to G-d that he didn't fulfill his prayers to win the lottery. G-d replied, "You have to buy a ticket!" This year I have a winning ticket!

This painting has received so much positive attention. I had fun painting it, but Nava was the one who pointed out its potential. She gave me great feedback as to how people were responding to it. That is one of the important advantages of entering exhibits. Working in isolation, we don't always have total perspective regarding our own work. Every once in awhile, a special painting emerges from the stacks of ongoing work. I am now on the hunt for the next one. If you think you see one on this blog, be sure and point it out.

This painting will be featured in an article in Artist Magazine, March issue. It was awarded Best of Show in the Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society show and was also the people's choice award. I will probably retire it after this show and hang it in a place of honor.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


What am I learning for doing this painting? Well, once I painted the first head, doing the same thing 7 more times seems more like work than fun. I had a difficult time generating enthusiasm for painting today for that reason. For some unknown reason, I am finding it more difficult to paint the head facing the direction of the second head than the first. The last observation is how the initial color I applied on Tyvek is impacting the final results. I had a lighter touch with the first head and I like that there were more areas of very light tones on the face. So, there will be some interesting variation from head to head when the piece is done.

Since this painting looks like it will take awhile, I think I will start working on the next one and have two paintings going at the same time. It is often a good idea to be working on multiple paintings, especially in watercolor, where you need to let it dry in between stages.

The demo is off for tomorrow night. There was a conflict of dates for the art organization and two people wound up being booked for the same night by two different people. They will reschedule me and I will let you know when that happens.

Monday, January 7, 2008


It's coming along nicely. I decided to start with the yellow orange to establish the "mother color". I went all around and painted each head. When it dried, I went around again and added a magenta. Next, I decided on a background color. I realized that I could not use a pure blue because it would become some shade of green with the yellow orange added to it. My initial intention was to work on all the heads at the same time so that they would be as identical as I could make them. I soon realized that I couldn't paint wet into wet and do all the heads together, so I decided to complete one head at a time. It will be interesting to see how closely I can duplicate what I have done. I continue to contemplate the border and corners. Fortunately, I have lots of time to paint tomorrow.

Wednesday night I will be giving a demonstration for the "31 Artists by the Bay" art group in San Mateo. They meet at the SM Senior Center across from Breseford Center. I will probably start painting around 7:30 PM. I will be showing the collage and acrylic painting technique. If anyone would like to stop by I'm sure you are welcome. If you need more detailed directions, e-mail me or give me a call.

Sunday, January 6, 2008


Thanks to everyone who shared their comments on painting number one. Last night I pulled the next set of parameters for painting #2. YELLOW ORANGE for the "Mother Color"....I love chrome yellow so that will be fun to work with. VALUE as the dominant design element...value is one of my favorites. I usually put in the entire gamut from value 1 to value 9. So far so good. Then I opened the composition....RADIAL!!!!!!!!!! OH, NO!!! I thought I was really in trouble with this one.

I got out Marianne Brown's book and read up on Radial Design. She had some really interesting ideas. A radial composition has a central point where the other elements come off of or go to this area (shape, point, etc.) The central shape or point doesn't have to be in the center of the page. In fact, it doesn't have to be on the page at all. She had one design where the lines radiated to a vanishing point outside the frame of the painting. Also, an inkblot (fold the paper in half, drop ink in the middle and press the page together so that one side is a mirror image of the other side.) So, a design with a central axis that has a mirror image on either side counts as a radial design. But, a radial design doesn't have to be symmetrical.

After reading the descriptions and seeing her examples, I realized I could use a Kaleidoscope design. I absolutely love Kaleidoscopes. I bought one which fractures what ever you are looking at rather than having colored chips in the contraption to create patterns. I even bought some software awhile ago that would create a kaleidoscope out of a photograph. Naturally, I couldn't find the disc anywhere. Then I decided to go on the internet and search for a kaleidoscope quilt pattern because I couldn't remember exactly how the image was repeated. I found what I was looking for and even was able to print out a basic pattern. Seems like everytime I solve a problem, I create a new problem. Now I had to figure out how to enlarge the pattern to fit the size I was going to paint. I decided on a 25" square. My math skills are around 3rd grade level, and I had some kind of algebra formula to work out so I called in the brain power in my family. Might as well get some return on the education we paid for. My son, Kevin, who is my graphic designer, worked out the formula and provided me with the magic numbers I needed. In the meantime, I figured out if I folded a 25" square in quarters and then on both diagonals, I could come pretty close to the answer myself. Now I had my pattern which I made out of tracing paper. I made two wedges, one for forwards and one for a reverse image. I drew my face on the wedge shape template, then traced it in reverse for the other template. I put turquoise watercolor crayon over the lines on the back side of the paper and then transfered the lines to the paper using a mechanical pencil because it gives a nice sharp thin line. The watercolor crayon will mostly dissolve during the painting process.

I find it difficult to photograph line drawings, so I hope you can make out what I have done so far. I have created a detail as well. I taped off a 1/2 inch border all around and taped off the corner triangles. I hope this tape makes a good seal. I usually don't have great luck with this, but this is a new tape. We'll see. I will decide what to do with the corners after I see how busy the main part of the painting looks when done. I am anxious to start painting tomorrow!

Saturday, January 5, 2008


I think I am fairly satisfied with this finished painting. I slowed down and sharpened up the features and the hair. Because this was a "texture" painting I wanted to capture the texture of her wispy thinning hair, the texture of her aging skin the reflective quality of her glasses and subordinate the background to the face and make the whole painting "read" as a whole. Texture can be so strong that it takes center stage and becomes the "subject". The objectives of this painting were: "vertical" composition, texture as the dominant element and red-orange as the unifying color. These objectives have been met, but is it an interesting painting? A compelling image? I'm not sure. This always happens after I have been working on and staring at the painting for days. Sometimes it is a good idea to put it away for awhile and then take it out again and see it with fresh eyes. Feel free to comment on "interesting" and "compelling". Everyone has their own response to works of art. It is helpful to hear how others respond to your work. I paint for myself, not for the buying public, not for the critics, not to please others. But, I do appreciate honest comments from others, both positive and otherwise.

I talked my sister into starting a blog today! This is the sister who did not get the "drawing gene". She does have her own unique set of talents which I admire. After reading her annual letter she sends to family and friends, I told her she needs to nurture her creative writing and a blog would be a wonderful place to start. I find her humorous outlook on life very entertaining . I have added her blog to my links. For a smile or a laugh, check out Momimax.

Mary Paquet sent me THREE paintings today for the January Challenge!!! Hope you are well on your way with your paintings, as well. Tomorrow I will set out the next set of objectives for the 2nd January painting. Don't worry about keeping up if you work slower. This is not a race, or a competition, but a motivation to engage you in art.

Friday, January 4, 2008


I worked on stage 3 as long as I could stand it but the urge to get the texture going was finally overwhelming. I didn't want to use black ink so i decided full strength Hydrus in a dark color might substitute and give a brighter result. Jean Pederson's work tends to be fairly neutral so black works well with her images. I thought it would look terrible with the palette I was working with. I mixed chrome yellow with the gesso and used Paynes Gray initially but that didn't look right so I switched to a turquoise and that created more harmony. Once I got started, I couldn't stop! I kept spraying and dripping and messing and messing and I think that's what I have, a mess! These techniques always look so much easier in the book. I did start to see what happens with the gesso and water. I splattered some alcohol on it to break up the surface a little more. I think I over did it with gesso on the face, too. I will work on it one more session and see what happens. Sometimes the best thing to do is evaluate what you did, what you learned, what you would do differently next time and then start again.

So far, I have met the challenge requirements....a vertical composition, red orange mother color and texture dominant but do I have an interesting painting? Not yet.

Thursday, January 3, 2008


After hours of running around and doing art related activities most of the day, I finally had some time to start the painting.
First I drew the image on a sheet of watercolor paper which is part of a block since I didn't want to have to stretch the paper. I am working on 18 x 24 which is a favorite size of mine. I used a dip pen with a fairly fine nib. I had a small amount of Indian Red Hydrus in a bottle. It seems when you get to the bottom of the bottle there is some concentration of pigment that didn't get dissolved. I added some water to the bottle and shook it until all the pigment had gone into solution. I used that diluted color for the drawing. I started with her eye and worked out from there hoping I was judging the placement correctly. The second stage of the painting was saving the whites and covering the rest of the paper with my "Mother Color". I used the light pattern to create a vertical on the paper.

I will be sitting at Gallery Concord tomorrow so I will have time to paint there. I am excited to try Jean Pederson's mixed media textural background for this painting. This is from her brand new book from Northlight Publishers "Expressive Portraits" I will follow her process of painting the face first then doing the squirting and splashing in the background. I think I will wait to do that part at home as I am anticipating it to be a little messy (to say the least!) That will give me my texture dominance plus I think the running and dripping will have a vertical essence . Now that I have the red-orange color over the paper, I will just paint with any and all colors I feel like and they should have that unifying element of the red-orange undertone.

I want to publicly thank my wonderful son, Bill, for installing and setting up my new auxiliary hard drive. It is set to back up my computer every night automatically. Hopefully this new hard drive with its huge memory storage will solve the overload problems. I can store squillions of photos on the extra space. All this technology is possible for me because my kids and grandkids install software, hardware and fix problems when they arise. They patiently explain things and advise me. I am so fortunate to have a tech team at a moment's notice. A home cooked meal and they feel sufficiently repaid. Works for me!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008


Here is the image I have selected for me to work on the January Challenge. Everyone should have their own image to work with. I was so tired last night going through tons of photos and was getting very frustrated that I couldn't find a figure I wanted to work with. I found this fabulous face and decided to go with it. I managed to work in my sketch book thinking and working out ways to create a vertical composition from this photo. I surprised myself and thought of 3 interesting ideas. I fell asleep with this project on my mind. When I awoke in the morning, the solution popped into my head. It is an amazing phenomenon that happens during sleep where solutions to problems are worked on.

I had a very long day driving out to the Gallery Concord to deliver 3 new paintings for the next quarter show and pick up all the paintings from my featured artist show there. I worked with others to hang the new show, then drove the hour home. There is a big storm coming in tomorrow, so I wanted to be sure and unload all the paintings while it is dry. I have no idea where I am going to store so many framed paintings. If anyone has creative solutions to painting storage problems, please share! Tomorrow is the Critique Group gathering and then I will deliver my painting to the Triton Museum for the upcoming California Painting Exhibit. After that, I plan to spend the afternoon painting! I am excited to get this idea onto the paper and get my brushes wet.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008


I am excited to get started on this new challenge. It is an expansion of the December challenge. First and foremost, these challenges are things I have been wanting to explore for a long time but never have. I hope that you want to follow along and try them yourselves. You may use part of the challenge, all of the challenge, change elements to suit your own growth and interest, etc. I am interested in seeing where this takes you, so please send me your results, thoughts, etc.
The following are the rules I have set for myself:
1. Select an image to work with FIRST! Stick with the same image throughout the different variations. This will produce the most growth and creativity. The idea of one image is from Mike Bailey's Watercolor Beyond the Obvious course. It is a brilliant idea that he created. Always give credit where due.
2. I have taken 3 aspects of creating a painting, broken them down into subcategories and randomly selected one from each category, bundled them together and that is what I will incorporate into the painting.
First Category: the 7 elements of design....Line...Size...Shape...Direction...color...value...texture. The one that is selected randomly will be the DOMINANT ELEMENT for the painting
Second Category: Basic Compositional Design. Horizontal...Vertical...Pyramidal...Checkerboard...Asymmeterical...Staggered...Frame in Frame...Cruciform...Cantilevered...Radial...Floating. Different books and different artists have their own ideas about how these categories of overall design are labeled. I have chosen to work from the book by Marianne K. Brown called "Watercolor by Design" She has clear definitions of each of these categories and excellent examples of each. As we pick different ones, I will give you the description and some examples for clarity. You can see that it will be very challenging to take your image and redesign it to fit these different compositions. Much too easy to find an image to fit the design.
Third Category is Color. I have decided to work with the concept of a "Mother Color" for each painting so I put each generic color in the pot and you can decide which exact tube of paint you want to use. Example: Red Orange could be Cad Red Light, Vermillion, Scarlet, Quin Coral etc. The idea for this exploration of color comes from Stephen Quiller's book "Painter's Guide to Color". The idea is that you will have a harmonious color scheme if every color in the painting has a touch of the "Mother Color". This can be achieved in one of 3 ways. You could tone the painting first with a wash of the Mother Color. You could add a touch of this color to every other color you used in the painting. You could glaze the Mother Color over the finished painting.

Okay, here we go. There were more colors and compositions than design elements, so I evened everything up by duplicating some of my favorite design elements. I put each category on a different colored piece of paper then drew randomly, clipping the sets together and then picked a set. You can do this yourself, or just use the ones I have done.

The first set is: DOMINANT DESIGN ELEMENT: TEXTURE!!!!!! (I swear, I didn't cheat)

Pick any subject that interests you. I haven't decided yet on my exact image but think it will be a figure.

The photo I have posted is of my experiment with texture on canvas and then painting with watercolor. There are two basic texture categories.... implied visual texture (spattering, pattern, etc.) and physical texture which is what I have done here. I used heavy gloss gel spread with a knife, then stamped into with numerous items and also some Japanese patterned papers collaged onto the canvas with the gel. When it dried, I put absorbant ground over it. When that dried, I painted with regular watercolors.

On vertical designing: The Vertical forms should be dominant, however, other shapes can be introduced for variety but the vertical forms should be most obvious. You do not need to confine your paper to a vertical format but have strong vertical rhythms prevailing.

Now, to select my image to work with.....


I found this post on the internet on a website for creativity. I thought it was an inspiring message as we start out the New Year.

Becoming Creative: 6 Easy Steps Toward Becoming Creative By David Wahl

First, I’ll state the obvious. Everyone is creative. There is no person on this Earth that is incapable of coming up with a new idea. However, our entire educational system and most of our culture is set up to squash the creativity out of you. Instead of trying to learn how to be creative, you really just have to remember how to be creative.

If you have a nagging voice in the back of your head telling you to be more creative, here are 6 simple tips that will push you toward becoming a passionate, creative person.

1. Lower your anxiety level. Fear, insecurity and stress are all creativity killers. Do you have some issue or worry in your life that you could easily solve? It doesn't have to be a big issue, take care of little things. Make sure your car never gets below a quarter tank of gas so the empty light never comes on. Avoid caffeine or other stimulants. Breathe deeply. Meditate. Take care of little problems before they become big problems. The less anxiety you have, the more you'll be able to focus on being creative.

2. Ask more and better questions. Asking questions is the keystone of creative thought. The only way to get something new is to question the old. Every time you ask a question you force yourself to consider other perspectives and to question your preconceptions. Don’t rely on other people’s answers, really figure it out for yourself. Here are some questions to get you started: How can I make this better? Why do we do it this way? Why am I the greatest human being ever to exist?

3. Try new things. Do something that you have never done before. This can be as extreme as finding a new job or as simple as trying Indonesian food. Read a book on a topic you know nothing about. Strike up a conversation with a stranger and ask him/her about his/her past. Trying new things will expand your references and perspective. Finding new ways of looking at the world increases the value of what you already know by letting you find new uses for it.

4. Figure out what you love doing and what makes you happy. This should be an easy task, but some people can’t list more than two or three things. Shouldn’t you be able to fill up a full sheet of paper, both sides, with things that make you happy? If you can only come up with a few, focus on finding more. Your creativity follows your passion and happiness. Artistic expression is its own benefit. It’s the rare artist that makes a living from his art, so passion and happiness are the only two real reasons to create.

5. Forget about your lame excuses. Really, stop with the excuses. They are all lame. There are many people that have it worse than you do that manage to do incredible things.

6. Actually do something. This is the step that actually turns you into a creative person. Thinking about doing something doesn’t make you creative. Talking about doing something won’t do it. The only way to become a creative person is to actually create something. This is the only step that matters. Pick up that pencil and draw! Write! Dance! Carve a robot from a bar of soap! It doesn’t matter! DO IT NOW!

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