Monday, March 31, 2008


Sitting at the Gallery Concord yesterday, I was able to finish the bozzetto sheet. Here are the last two pieces. This is an image that I want to work with much more with texture, composition, lighting, and other ideas. Texture and mixed media will require larger formats than 5 x 7 but I am going to work with lighting next so a bozzetto sheet will work nicely. So this is my challenge for the coming develop as many ideas as I can with this image.

If you haven't had a chance to check out the American Watercolor Society website in the last day, they have finally posted the awards. There are some very exciting paintings there. I am looking forward to being able to see them and the entire show in person. Tomorrow is the official opening of the show with a big, drink, music. If you can get to New York City, it should be an exciting event.

I finally have my workshop schedule updated. You can find it on my website at The one in Ocean Shores, Washington is being held at a resort and will be like a mini vacation! If you have time in October, consider joining me there.

Sunday, March 30, 2008


Yesterday was my maiden venture into the world of judging an art exhibit. I was hoping that there would be a lot of work that would be easy to eliminate based on a lack of painting experience but the entries were of very high caliber, so I was challenged in making my decisions. I had taken along a sheet of guidelines to help me focus. The saving grace in the entire process was that many of the entrants submitted two paintings. The rule was that any individual could only receive one prize. When I was deciding between two paintings by the same person, I had an easier time. Now that I think about that, it was because I was comparing apples to apples rather than apples to oranges. Some of the variables were eliminated and I was then thinking about the strengths and weaknesses of just that particular painting. Then, when I had to assign 1st, 2nd, 3rd and honorable mentions, my own idea of hierarchy of importance of elements made the difference for my choices as opposed to what a different judge might pick.

People that are selected as judges recognize better craftsmanship, composition, color, mood, imagination, invention, interpretation, etc. etc. So, if a painting doesn't have it all in equal amounts, what becomes more important? If you have to choose between a painting that is more skillfully painted and one that is more imaginative, what wins out? At the national competition level, there are so many entries and so few spaces, skillful handling of the medium is usually a given. That said, there is always an exception or two in almost every national level show I have seen. At the local level, there is a much greater range of technical ability.

My own ideas of what is important in a painting has changed in the last few years. Like many others, I was focused on technique, technique, technique and wanted to be able to reproduce that photograph perfectly. I actually got pretty good at it in watercolor, which is no mean feat, but now I am looking for creativity and originality in my own work and rank that higher in importance in others' work, as well. So, the bottom line is that there is no way to judge others' work without personal prejudice because it is a subjective activity. After I was done, I talked about my assessment of each painting to those who were hanging the show. Hopefully, they were satisfied with the results.

The results of the judging of awards for the American Watercolor Society has been announced and I am the recipient of the CPS Medal. This was recognition beyond my wildest imaginings!! The show opens on Tuesday in New York and the awards dinner is on April 25th. I am treating my husband to an exciting trip to New York and will share a slide show upon our return.

Today I found a great check list by Tom Lynch in an old issue of International Artists magazine. I am listing the basic categories (he went into greater detail) because I think it will be useful for each of us in evaluating our own paintings. I don't know if the order is significant but you might want to arrange them in the order of importance to you. DESIGN, IMPACT AREA, MOOD/FEELING, CREATIVITY, VALUES, COMPOSITION, UNITY, CRAFSTMANSHIP, COLOR, PRESENTATION.

Friday, March 28, 2008

BOZZETTOS # 6 & #7

I am closing in on finishing the bozzetto sheet. I worked with a round brush on these two but it didn't have a point on it so I had difficulty in creating some lines I wanted in the eye area. The last one, I used my favorite brush, the Cheap Joe Lizard's Lick #4. I am loving how I can lift color off of this surface and I am getting better at getting color to stick. I took advantage of the initial beading up of the paint on the last bozzetto to create an interesting texture in the background. Now I am thinking about which one to enlarge into a full size painting. If you have a favorite, cast your vote in the comment section.

Tomorrow I will be acting as the juror for a CWA show at the Gallery Concord. This will be my first time to participate in this capacity. I am pushing myself to do something I find uncomfortable because I think it is an important growth step in my progress as an artist and teacher. I will discuss the process tomorrow. Stay tuned....

Thursday, March 27, 2008


I like this bozzetto because it is looser and more in the spirit of color sketch exploration rather than a finished work. Why is it so difficult to relax and loosen up? I have been fussing over the others too much. I hope to stay in this less finished mode for the rest of the page.

I finally got the slide show together from the Tuesday Watercolor Beyond the Obvious class. I tried to get everyone's efforts recorded but I'm not sure if I missed someone. I foolishly didn't write down names, so I left that out. These photos do not do justice to the work but will give you an idea of the range and creativity. I was holding the camera over the paintings that were laying flat on the table. Some of the images are cut off, some are crooked, some have the shadow of my arm. With all these problems, I think you will still be excited about these wonderful paintings. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


This has been a nice way to spend the evening after dinner. My days have been busy lately, so evening has been the best time to paint. Tonight I finished one I started last night and did another. #3 plays with warm and cool colors. It is a good example of how the skin color can be pretty arbitrary and still "read" as a particular ethnicity. #4 has a fair amount of distortion as a way to vary an image. I am changing the brush I use each night. Last night I used a "cat's tongue" shaped brush. Tonight I used a filbert (a flat with a rounded top). It is an unusual shape for a watercolor brush but fairly common for oils and acrylics.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

BOZZETTO #2 Change of Value

It was a very exciting day. I went back down to San Jose for the Tuesday Class of Watercolor Beyond the Obvious. So many talented artists producing amazing series of 20 paintings. I tried to photograph the first and last of each artist. I had to hold the camera over the painting so couldn't see what was in the view finder. My arm also cast a shadow on many of the photographs. Tomorrow I will try and "fix" the photos as best I can and then create a slide show.

In the meantime, I was very inspired to go home and paint. I kept fussing with this little bozzetto. The surface is so liftable, you can rework the painting over and over. Not necessarily a great idea but so tempting. I finally decided I was satisfied with it. My idea was to change the value on the left side and loose the edge on the side of his face. I still am working with traditional skin tone for awhile but creating more interesting color in the total painting. Hair is a fun place to start introducing unusual color.

Monday, March 24, 2008

BOZZETTO #1 - Neutrals

Today I went to the final class of Watercolor Beyond the Obvious. This is where each participant in the class shows their 20 paintings in sequential order. It is a fun celebration with lots of art affirming moments for each artist and cudos for Mike Bailey, the incredible innovator of this unique class and educator par excellance! It made me wish I had taken the class again, it's so much fun and motivating and reinforced the value of staying with an image to pull out the creativity. If you keep changing the image, you do the same thing but change the image. If you keep the image, you do something different each time. I have taken the class 3 times. Some students have taken it 6 or more times. If I wasn't so busy, I could take it indefinately. My 3 series are posted on my website.

Doing a sheet of bozzettos is another version of beyond the obvious, in miniature. I did this first one after dinner tonight. I had a plan and color scheme decided before I started. I have been going a little wild with color lately and I wanted to start with a neutral color scheme. I used mostly raw umber and ultramarine blue with a little cerulean blue and burnt sienna and a touch of cad red light and quin gold. The darkest darks were ultramarine mixed raw umber. I also worked with a 3/4 inch and half inch flat brush. I normally use a round brush, so I wanted to challenge myself to develop greater mastery over the flat brush.

I was surprised how resistant the surface was to paint in the beginning. I had to really decrease the amount of water to paint. The surface did lift beautifully, however.

Tomorrow is another Beyond the Obvious celebration. The class is so popular, they added a second section. I look forward to more inspiration and comaraderie. A wonderful potluck lunch is an added bonus.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


Finally, down to some serious painting. In preparation for my advanced watercolor portrait class, I have started my bozzetto sheet. The first session is about using color for people of color. This will be my example to give the class some ideas. It is always best to be able to illustrate one's words with visual examples. I find it easiest to use a half sheet of watercolor paper 22 x 15 and divide it into nine 7 x 5 inch sections. I found this wonderful very narrow masking tape to separate the sections. It worked well on the Tyvek, so I am anxious to see if it works equally well on the watercolor paper. This paper had been previously coated with diluted clear gesso but it was already sectioned off, so I didn't start with a new piece of paper. The class is going to work on 3 sections of diluted clear gesso, 3 of diluted matte medium and 3 sections of uncoated paper to get a better feel for how each medium affects the outcome.

The image I am working from has fabulous hair and lighting. I drew each 5 x 7 section with a mechanical pencil in a modified contour drawing style looking and drawing shapes. I did each drawing fairly quickly. I am not really concerned with likeness or traditional accuracy. I am looking to develop an interesting and compelling image that evokes some emotional response. These bozzettos are going to be color, value and composition studies. This is an opportunity to try different ideas. I will pick one when I am done and work it into a larger painting.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


I have four applications on my desk for national competitions. The deadlines are varied but one is April 1st, so I was going through my files trying to decide which images to submit to which competitions. It can get tricky at times. I have to be careful not to submit the same image to more than one society. The time frame from submitting the slide to receiving the painting back from an exhibit is around 5 or 6 months, so most paintings can only be submitted once in one year as the competitions cluster and overlap. The other consideration is what is allowed by each society in the way of mixed media. Some of these societies are very traditional and don't allow any adulteration of the surface and no opaque paint, even Naples Yellow watercolor. Some people paint for a specific show but I prefer to paint without pressure to produce. The ones that feel successful are the ones I consider entering into competitions. It doesn't matter what style or preferred subject the judge's work takes. The competitions are always balanced and varied. Pick your best work, send in the forms and pray to the art gods. Sometimes you make the cut and sometimes you don't. I stopped taking it personally a few years ago after Chung Kee Chee didn't make the cut in a show I was rejected. I figured I was in good company and even the celebrated masters don't bat 1000. Almost all of the competitions now allow digital files. In fact, one show prefers digital files sent in an e-mail. They are charging an additional $10 if you wish to submit slides! Technology is making inroads and we better make sure to keep up.

I found this image in my files. Since I talked about covering a disaster of a painting with gesso to salvage the paper, I thought I would post this idea for stamping into gesso while it is wet to create a texture. I did not dilute the gesso. Once the gesso dried, I painted over it. It accepted the paint pretty well. I never did get the name of the person who bought this one.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Today was one of those days when you think you don't know how to paint anymore. I never feel like that with other media but watercolor feels foreign if I have been away for awhile. I decided to try and paint my popcorn kernels this afternoon. I found a wonderful artist, Nancy Christy-Moore at and she had these beautiful floating colors and then did a fabulous ink drawing on top. I thought that would be a great way to approach this image so I coated the paper and painted loosely using the forms and values in the charcoal drawing of the popcorn. When it was dry, I did a line drawing of what I thought I saw in the image. UGLY!!! So I took it to the sink and washed off as much as I could and tried it again. I think I have a candidate for a gesso coverup. Or tissue paper. Or collage. I am about ready to abandon this idea. I do not draw well from my imagination. I need to have SOME reference in front of me. I am going to set this whole idea aside for awhile and start on a serious painting. I need to get ready for the advanced portrait class, so I am going to do a sheet of 5" x 7" bozzettos with color for people of color. I hope some of you are having better luck with your popcorn images.

In the meantime, I am posting a page from my sketch book that I did in preparation for the self portrait series. This is one of the submissions for "Strokes of Genius 2"

Monday, March 17, 2008


I finally mailed off my entries to North Light Books for the "Strokes of Genius 2" competition. It took me 4 tries to burn a decent disc but I finally got it right. I checked it on a PC computer to double check how it would appear to the judges. I work on a Mac and I'm never sure that it is readable on PC's. The deadline is the end of the month, so if you have been contemplating submitting something, don't delay. You can download the forms from their website at The above is one of 7 pieces I submitted. This is from one of my self-portrait photos I took. I like the odd angle. I tried to stamp a message in the background. I was going to fill in all of the surrounding space but decided it would probably look better half done. I am hoping that one of the 7 entries will be accepted. I will have to wait until July 1 to find out.

I have been working with someone in a charming seaside community called Ocean Beach, Washington, to give a workshop up there. We settled on the date of October 20-24 of this year. I am excited to have the opportunity to work there. If any of you want to combine a relaxing vacation with a workshop, this could be a great spot. I don't have all the details yet, but if you are interested, let me know and I will fill you in as things are confirmed.

Thanks to all of you who submitted your popcorn visions! What fertile imaginations you have. I am still visualizing and will make a decision tomorrow. I received the latest issue of our educational channel's magazine with a picture of a tortoise on the cover. It looked like a popcorn kernel! I may have found my image....

Sunday, March 16, 2008


I have finished my popcorn drawing. I worked on a light gray pastel paper with powdered charcoal, vine charcoal and a pressed stick of charcoal for the darkest tone. I used white conte crayon and white hard pastel for the lightest tones and a kneaded eraser for blending and lifting. It is an interesting challenge to recreate all the values. "Is this area lighter or darker than that area?" "How much lighter or darker" These are the kinds of questions one begins to focus on. I stuck the popcorn down on the drawing board with double stick tape so it wouldn't move around. Now the problem is to find an image in these shapes. I photographed the drawing and then duplicated the photograph 3 times so I could see it in all 4 directions. Nothing much except flower shapes is coming to mind. I don't want to do flowers because that is too easy and seems like a cop out. I will stare at these photos for awhile until something jumps out at me. I think it will be like those "magic" images that were popular a few years ago. If you stared at it long enough a 3-d image showed up. This is turning out to be more difficult than I thought it would be. Feel free to contribute any ideas you have regarding hidden images in this drawing. It's all part of the fun.

Friday, March 14, 2008


Here are the drawings and paintings sent to me so far. Notice how drawing improves each time it is redrawn. The old "practice, practice, practice" philosophy at work. The ink lines are so interesting when the paper is wet.

I am struggling with paper work but hope to get back to the paint and brushes this weekend. Here is the new challenge. It comes from the book I bought in the Denver airport. I thought this one looked like fun.

#1....Pop some popcorn.
#2....DON'T EAT IT ALL! Pick through it and select 2 popped kernels to draw. Now you can eat the rest.
#3...Select a format (piece of paper to draw on) They used a square but you can use a rectangle if you want to.
#4...Compose the 2 kernels within the format greatly enlarging the image. They used a dark grey paper and white charcoal pencil. You want to be sure and get the full range of values present in this image.
#5...Now here is the fun part. Look at your image from all directions and see what comes to seeing things in clouds. When you have decided what this image is, do a painting the exact same size as your drawing, in full color. The kernels have to be in the exact same position in the painting as in the drawing. You can add additional elements to complete the image if necessary. Example: One of the students saw flower heads in her popped corn so she needed to add stems and leaves to complete her painting.

Have fun with this idea. Get your family or friends involved after you do your first popcorn drawing and see what image they see in the kernals. I can't wait to see what you come up with. I wish I could show you what the kids came up with but I think I would need permission from the author, so you will have to do your own thing with just a verbal description of the project.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


This is the week that the special event, "Bouquets to Art" is at the DeYoung Museum in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Ever since I stumbled upon this spectacular happening, I have made it a point to go every year. Today I went with my friend, Andy, and wasn't disappointed! I have posted a few of the floral displays for everyone to marvel over. You can see them in more detail by clicking on the image. This is how this event works: Each year, the top floral designers and floral clubs are invited to participate by the Museum. The museum selects part of their collection (they choose different works of art each year) and then the floral designers pick which piece they would like to "interpret" The ones I have posted are the more obvious interpretations. Some of the designers just use the color of the piece or they may take a section of the painting to inspire them. Sometimes you can't figure out which painting the floral design goes to ! The designer must use real plant material and then they can incorporate other things as well. The DeYoung Museum has a wide range of art from very abstract to tribal, antiquities, etc. The imagination and craftsmanship that goes into these pieces is a wonder to behold. One of the paintings on my website "Cascading Tulips" was done from a photo I took at this event several years ago. I have stopped taking thousands of photos of the flowers each year and now concentrate on the crowd! Women dress up for this event and it is gratifying to me to see so many people at the museum. I was chasing this one woman around today who was wearing a pink floral hat with big organdy roses, slender body and platform boots! Her face was very interesting, almost a caricature. I finally got a shot of her although it is a little blurry. I can work with blurry. That's the advantage of drawing hundreds of faces. You can fill in the details .

I will post the next challenge on Friday. I am hoping to get mine done, at least started, as an example. I have been receiving some challenge drawings and paintings from the last challenge which I I will make into a slide show on Friday. Stay tuned!

Monday, March 10, 2008


I was dropped off at the Denver airport very early this morning as my sister had to go to work. My plane departure was supposed to be 11:45 but it was delayed an hour. Lots of time to get into trouble in the airport. What's a woman to do? Go shopping, of course!! There was a wonderful shop with beautiful hand made fine crafts and some art books I had never seen before. I bought one called "From Ordinary to Extraordinary" Art and Design Problem Solving. It is pubished by Davis Publications ( I plan to check out their web site for other interesting titles. It is written by a very talented secondary art teacher and has lots of great projects and assignments. This man, Ken Vieth, has received international recognition for his teaching ideas. I plan to incorporate some of them in the challenges. In fact, I shall publish a challenge tomorrow night from this book.

I did manage to paint two heads on one page in my sketch book while winging my way home. I had failed to put the Elegant Writer in my little art kit for the plane, so I drew with a pencil and then painted with my small watercolor set by Koi. It helps pass the time and keep my drawing skills from rusting. I found these images in a fashion section of the Sunday New York Times my sister gets. I thought these guys were pretty funny, actually, trying to look so sultry and sexy. It reminded me of "Zoolander" The lighting was excessively dramatic creating easy shadow shapes to draw and paint. So many faces to paint, so little time!

The deleted comment below is from a spammer. Do not go to his profile. There is no information but a blog listing where I'm sure he will capture your e-mail address. This is the second spam comment in a week, so I have changed the settings on the comment section. From now on I will review each comment before it gets posted and you will have to put in those weird letter combinations. I'm sorry for the inconvenience but it is for all our safety. There is always somebody out there trying t ruin it for the rest of us.

Saturday, March 8, 2008


We had a great time in Littleton and everyone worked hard with wonderful results. Some of the paintings are not completed but well on their way. I have promises of photos when the paintings are completed. I hope you enjoy the slide show of the participants and their work. I have also posted my completed demo painting. The matte medium coating on the paper made it easy to pull out the lights and make corrections. I wasn't very happy with yesterday's start but I think I pulled it together in the end and have a satisfying painting considering the constraints of a demo. Tomorrow I get to spend the day with my sister and then head on home on Monday.

Friday, March 7, 2008


Each morning I head out for the workshop going West toward the beautiful Colorado Mountains. Littleton is very close to the foothills. This time of year there is plenty of snow on the mountains. What a great way to start the day.

This is the painting I started today for the demonstration. The paper is coated with a 50/50 solution of matte medium and water. It makes a very liftable surface. In fact, it is acting much like tyvek in many ways...beading up of paint initially, blending of colors, etc. Somehow I got a little carried away with color but having fun with it. You can see I purposely tilted the head in my version. Tomorrow I will finish it up. We are having a great time with this workshop. Hopefully I will be able to photograph everybody's painting at the end of the day. Tune is tomorrow night!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


I did these drawings on the plane coming out to Denver. I thought I would practice drawing my friend Linda, my new image for the full face demonstration painting. I like to do many drawings to get the feel of the features. Linda is such a fabulous looking woman and a great model with her large expressive eyes and very short hair making it easy to see the actual size of the scull. I'm afraid I didn't do a very good job of photographing the sketch book. I used a mechanical pencil on beige paper so that made it more difficult to photograph. Tomorrow starts the 3 day worshop. I shall try and post each night. We are going to have a great time.

Monday, March 3, 2008


I have been busy getting ready for my watercolor portrait workshop in Littleton this coming week. I have used this gentleman, Morris Ellis, for my image to demonstrate the full face portrait in most of the classes I have taught. I am retiring him now and have selected a new image to work with for the class this week. This is the fifth version I have done. Each one got looser and looser. I was in love with his cowboy hat and especially the brim. I really got carried away this time!!! Red orange has become a color I am very drawn to these days. The paper for this painting was coated with diluted mat medium. I really enjoy working on this surface. For some reason, I have not photographed the other 4 versions of Morrie. I will take care of that when I get back and share them. It is fun to find new and different ways to present the same image.

I will be traveling with my laptop. That way I can post to the blog, receive e-mails with your efforts attached! and show the class ideas for working with the computer using Photoshop Elements, etc. Technology! Amazing!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, March 1, 2008


I was anxious to try out my challenge, so this afternoon I went looking for some interesting materials to draw with. I used walnut ink drawing with a stick, sharpened wooden match, Japanese Brush Pen with a black ink cartridge and then I discovered the oiler boiler (finest tip) from Cheap Joe's.

The first image is on Cold Pressed Arches. I wetted the paper and then started drawing with the stick. It fuzzed out quite a bit. I went back into the drawing with the Japanese brush pen. I used a flat brush and started adding some value, painting with the walnut ink. I drew back in with the sharpened match stick. Finally, I loaded an oiler boiler with the walnut ink and made some additional lines. I had a real "Eureka" moment when I saw that the oiler boiler was making such an interesting line. I also spritzed the paper for texture as well as dropping small dots of walnut ink into the wet areas for textural interest. I tried to be conscious of the light and dark pattern I learned in Geo. James' workshop. I had fun trying different tools for drawing and experimenting with the walnut ink. It lifts fairly easily. This came in handy!

I loved how the oiler boiler worked in the first painting. I thought I would try to draw with it on dry watercolor paper. WOW!! It became a 3 dimensional line as I drew. The ink was just sitting on top of the paper. It surprised me how the sensation of making a 3 dimensional line was so exciting to me. It looked like a fine wire sitting on my paper. I wish I could figure out how to keep it like that when it dried. Anything that would hold its shape when dry will clog the fine needle. Eventually the ink gets absorbed but it took a long time. The nature of the fine needle and bottle creates an irregular line on textural paper and these little "dots" of ink when you pause ever so slightly. This is my favorite piece of the day.

Now I was running around trying to find different papers to see how the oiler boiler would work on other surfaces. I got out my sketch book from Summer with the parchment like paper. The ink was instantly absorbed as I drew so I had a wider line and totally different look. This is the 3rd drawing in the post. Next I tried it on Tyvek, first on a dry surface and second on a damp surface. Again, totally different look. It dried looking a little like a reed pen....darker on the edges of the line and slightly lighter in the middle. I just wrote my name on a scrap of paper and then dampened a spot where I made a few marks just to see what would happen, Lastly, I took a piece of scrap YUPO and drew on that. Loved the look on YUPO and Tyvek.

Now I have to order more oiler boilers so I can have them loaded with different colors so I don't have to empty and clean the one I have every time I want to work with a different color.

Today was a perfect art day...having fun, discovering new things and generating ideas for future paintings. The joy of art is in the "doing"

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