Friday, June 27, 2008


Today we went back to Yellowstone for our last day of the trip. We spotted a bull moose feeding in some water and a bull Elk with a large rack among other animals. Someone stops along the side of the road and everyone pulls over to see what is happening.

We stopped for a picnic and I set up my painting supplies. I was actually working from a photograph I had taken in Yellowstone the previous day trip of the incredibly beautiful thermal pools. This one was particularly chromatic. I wasn't thrilled with the painting, but it was a gorgeous day and sitting outside in the sun and fresh air was delightful.

I brought a very light weight chair that folds up. I particularly like this one because it has a back. I also have a small camp stool (also very light weight) that I used as an easel. I put it under the picnic table so it wasn't in harsh sunlight. I had the water etc on the bench of the table. I could have sat at the table to paint but this was more comfortable and I had all this stuff with me. The chair and camp stool were purchased at REI sporting good store. I think I have seen this chair in a few of the art catalogs.

The portable printer that I brought works fabulously!!! Beautiful prints relatively quickly and very easy to put together and use. It is by Canon the Selphy CP740. I think the CP750 has a few more features which I would have preferred but they didn't have it in stock and I wanted it immediately.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Tuesday we drove to Yellowstone National Park. What a remarkable place. We arrived just in time to see "Old Faithful" Geyser erupt. My camera has a burst feature. I thought it had a limit of 5 photos in quick succession but there is a setting for unlimited photos in burst mode and I was able to capture this marvel of nature as it unfolded by just holding the shutter button down indefinitely. WOW!!!! I have made a slide show for everyone. There were at least a thousand people there and we arrived a little late so no front row positions for us. I was able to shoot between people (as you can see). I didn't want to fuss with the images to eliminate these heads. With this burst feature, I am taking so many pictures my computer will explode if I try to download all of them. Will have to wait till I get home, but I can download selected photos. I will continue to post the next few days.

We took a very long walk around all of the thermal geysers and pools, some of which have the most amazing color. You can smell the sulphur. Later in the day we stopped for a picnic at a stream and I did a small plein air landscape. It's not much of a painting, but I will post later. We stopped by the road whenever we saw a backup of cars because this means an animal spotting. We saw bison very close up, a moose and calf half hidden by brush, some female elk (no great antlered creatures) and we are still waiting for a sighting of a bear. We did see an Osprey with a fish in it's talons in flight! That was exciting.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


Well, doesn't this just say it all! I found this cartoon in the Denver Sunday Paper (on Saturday, go figure). We don't get this cartoon, so I decided to photograph it and share. Funny but not funny. You will need to click on the image to be able to read it. Sorry it didn't come out sharper.

We have arrived in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and everything is gorgeous and pristine. I have my mini art set all ready to go. We'll see how much plein air I get done. I may just be a plane air painter.

Friday, June 20, 2008


These charming drawings were done by Lyn Lynch. Lyn tells me she is self taught. Wow, quite impressive. I noticed a slight problem with the features, so I sent Lyn a message with a suggestion for correction. I decided I could share this tip with all of you, as well. It is part of what I teach in my portrait workshops. Often we know something is wrong but we either can't figure out what or we don't know how to fix it.

"There is an imaginary center line that cuts the human head, when looking straight on, into two equal halves. That line is the axis and actually would go down through the skull from the top of the head and come out under the jaw. Now, each of the features ie. eyebrows, eyes, nostrils, lip, ears...they have imaginary horizontal lines that cross over the center vertical. The central axis is the first thing you need to establish. This creates the angle of the head. It will not always be totally vertical, in fact most often is at one angle or another. Once you establish this angle, then you need to establish the lines for each of the features. NO MATTER WHAT ANGLE THE CENTRAL AXIS IS AT, THE FEATURES MUST BE AT A PERFECT 90 DEGREE RIGHT ANGLE TO THE CENTRAL AXIS AT THE JUNCTION WHERE THE LINES CROSS. You can take a piece of tracing paper and lay it on top of your drawings and then take a ruler (a plastic triangle with a right angle works great) and check your placement."

Last night "Art Laisons" headed up by Gail Sjoman, my art representative (and very good friend) had a reception at the latest installation of her artists in a beautiful office park. It was a great turnout and I was happy to see so many friends come out for the celebration.

At the workshop on Wednesday, one of the participants told me about another exciting is the Vis-a-vis wet pen used for overhead projector projects. This black pen bleeds out brown and pale orange! She showed me a sketch and It was terrific. Naturally, I was on a quest to find this pen. I dragged around to four stores before I found it. It was at the Office Supply store. The other thing I was on a mission to find was a small portable photo printer. I am going to take it with me tomorrow on our trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming where we will be seeing the beautiful scenery of the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Park. I will have lots of time to paint at night, so thought it would be great to have a few new photos to work from. I will be doing a little bit of plein aire but it will be just small fast studies or sketches.

Check out the latest feature of my blog. It is the "Blog List". It is something new that lists the blogs in order of the latest posts and gives you a little preview of the posting. This way you don't have to keep checking to see if there is anything new on your other favorite blogs that are linked to mine.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


Abeer Sakkejha is the artist who created these charming drawings of a simple but interesting object. Looks can be deceiving. Ellipses are devilish to draw. Here is what Abeer had to tell me about her experience: "Attached are 5 drawings that I did over 5 days, I chose a simple subject ( brush) and gave it about 20-30 minutes a day, I noticed how I developed by the end of the fifth day and I started interpreting more than just copying (which I usually do), I also became more relaxed and the lines were looser day by day( which is always my goal). That was a nice little exercise that I enjoyed while lounging on the sofa in the evening." Be sure and check out Abeer's blog. You can find the link by scrolling down the blog to the links on the right side.

Tomorrow I will post another submission. I like being able to create a little slide show of one person's set of drawings rather than putting them all into one big slide show.

Yesterday I participated in the California Watercolor Society's (CWA) Educational Outreach program. During the year, volunteer member artists go to various schools and present a lesson for the students. In the summer, they put on a one day seminar for teachers at the Gallery Concord. I was pleased to be able to be one of three volunteer artists to participate. I asked who taught art...about a third of the group raised their hands. Then I asked who personally did art...another third raised their hands. Someone said there was a third category represented...those who buy art! A very important group to know! I shared the Elegant Writer Pen and then I showed them how to paint on Tyvek. It was a very fun day complete with a delicious lunch. The wonderful person responsible for making this program work is Carol Smith. What a tireless, dedicated hard worker and always cheerful with a big, big smile on her face. CWA is so fortunate to have a volunteer like Carol. What a treasure she is.

I belong to 3 local art organizations and all of them function because of the tireless efforts of volunteer members. Like many members, I help out a little here and there but these organizations only work because of the amazing generosity of a few members who are willing to devote many many hours of their precious time to do the big jobs. Be sure and let those in your local groups know how much you appreciate their efforts.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Peggy Stermer-Cox is the first to send in her sketches from the 7 day challenge. They are very creative and exciting! I can see a series of paintings from these sketches. Peggy is an artist from Ocean Shores, Washington and is part of the team that is putting together my workshop up there in October. Check out the link for the workshop and check out Peggy's website at

I was doing some very simple drawings of a single cala lilly. Peggy was really going to town! I think I need to pick up the pace a bit.

I look forward to seeing what the rest of you are working on. Send in those drawings!


There is nothing more poignant than looking into the eyes of the homeless. It is such a disturbing situation and I always think about what I would do if I found myself in that situation. I was working on this last night and then first thing this morning sitting in bed. I had a feeling of unease the whole time. It felt like he was looking right through me. I had read in the Sunday paper how Danielle Steele, the author, has been helping the homeless for 10 years. Maybe there is a message for me here.

If you would like to send me your drawings for the week, or are my e-mail addresses. Just put the photo in the body of the e-mail and I will take care of the rest. I look forward to seeing what everyone has been working on.

Friday, June 13, 2008


Today was another turn at sitting at Gallery Concord. I had borrowed an out of print book by Christopher Schink on color from a friend, so this was my opportunity to read it carefully and try out a few of the principles. I felt like I needed to be more conscious in my use of color. I revisit this subject from time to time. It seems like I glean a little more each time. Something registers that didn't before even though I know it was discussed and/or covered in a class. So, this little study was done in my Aquabee sketch book 6" x 9" using my little travel kit. I finally loaded the second tin with 6 more colors. New Gamboge, Quin Burnt Orange, Tiziano Red (Maimeri Brand), Peacock, Ultramarine Blue and Fog (an opaque off white from Cheap JoeMy idea was to have mostly lowered intensity colors with a contrast of a few pure hues in the focal area and mostly warm colors with a contrast of cool. It was a pleasant way to spend the afternoon.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


I have noticed that I am very partial to triangles in my compositions. This drawing is a good example of multiple many can you find? I also enjoy drawing hands with the fingers interlaced. It makes a fascinating puzzle of shapes that lock together.

I worked on my painting for a little while today. I want to change course in the middle of an idea but need to follow through with my original plan. I keep telling myself it is only a piece of paper and I can do another version if this doesn't work out. So far, I don't like what I have. It makes it harder to keep going, but I can meet the challenge. Lately, so many things are taking up my painting time but I make sure I get in at least an hour.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


I took a wonderful workshop from Catherine Anderson a few years ago. She is a lovely, friendly and generous instructor. At the time, my goal was to learn every watercolor technique and master them. That way, I could paint any subject in any style. This workshop was one of the most important I ever took because I came to a realization.....WRONG THINKING! As beautiful as her style of painting is, I never, ever, ever wanted to paint like that. I realized I needed to be more selective in workshop instructors. I needed to work with those who would move me in the direction I wanted to go. That, of course, requires that one knows the direction to move in!! I decided I wanted figurative, experimental, and looser, looser, looser. I haven't heard about Catherine lately. Hope she is well, painting and achieving her goals. If anyone knows what she is up to, please share.

I am always taking photos of the workshop instructor and often the students. Here is a graphite drawing I did from these photos and then one of the finished paintings. I never showed them to Catherine and so I never entered the painting into any competition. It is one of my favorites. Someday, I am going to do a full sheet bozzetto of all the wonderful workshop instructors I have enjoyed.

Monday, June 9, 2008


Here is another drawing from the big sketchbook. I enjoy drawing with this amount of detail but I don't care to paint this realistically any more.

It was a busy day but I managed to start a watercolor painting. The first pass is wet into wet random color intermingling. I like nothing better than taking a big brush and moving color around on the paper with no idea or imagery in mind. It brings out the child at play. Tomorrow I will paint the second stage. I have this idea in my mind's eye how I want the painting to go. The inner vision doesn't always match up with the eventual reality but the only way to find out is to do it. I am anxious to see where this idea will take me. If all else fails, there is always gesso.

I still need to do my drawing for the day. I bought some Cala Lilies at the grocery store today. They are so elegant in form. They should make for an interesting object to draw from life.

Sunday, June 8, 2008


Being a part of a co-op gallery means everyone takes turns being the host or hostess for the day. Today was my turn. We usually get a reminder call the day before. Something went wrong and I didn't receive the call. I failed to check my calendar so it was a surprise when the phone rang asking where I was! OOOOOPS! I grabbed my sketchbook and simple mechanical pencil and rushed off. I had such a good time making these drawings. The first is done in the modified contour style. I find that focusing on the image I am drawing, I still have the drawing in my peripheral vision so it stays fairly accurate without taking my gaze off of the drawn object. I don't know if I was quite so aware of this phenomenon as I was today.

I photographed more of my drawings in this sketchbook which I will be posting in the coming days. Most of them are quite detailed and a finished piece of art in itself. I am thinking I should place them in a mat. One of these days I will get around to taking care of these things. In the meantime, the sketchbook keeps them protected. Heavy application of graphite does smear, so I will spray these drawings to protect them. Right now I have a sheet of tracing paper on top of each drawing. It's important to spray outside with lots of fresh air. The last time I sprayed a drawing, I was in a hurry and did it inside the house. What a mistake that was. I had a headache for two days. Anything with a strong odor is toxic. I need to keep all the brain cells I have!

I read today about a masters in art program where the author had an assignment was to paint the same subject everyday for a month. I thought this was an interesting challenge that could be done with drawing. Let's try it for a week. Pick a simple subject and draw it every day for 7 days. When you have the 7 drawings, send them to me. If I like this one for myself, I will personally extend it to a month. I think it will be the July challenge but there is not time like the present to take action.

Friday, June 6, 2008


Mike Bailey ( has sent me his considered explanation of the difference between a "color painter" and a "value painter" It is beautifully explained by one of the best teachers around. I have his permission to share his thoughts with you. Mike has a current discussion on his blog regarding design which you should definitely check out as well!

"Topher brought this up under the following context: That the only way painters can delineate *volume* or *form* is by manipulating values. That is to use values as light and shadow would behave. Alex Powers is a Value painter. He establishes form using little color and a lot of value changes. He augments his work with some textural qualities, but the image is value based. Value painters (the most common among us) us extremes of value (dark vs light) to hold the eye in an interest center or focal point.

On the other hand, colorists, are not always interested in the idea of form or volume. Instead they are more interested in showing off color differences, (hue, temperature or intensity), WITHOUT showing value shifts . . . . .that is holding the values constant . . .no indication of light and shadow . . .just flat space with color, not value, shifts.

What Powers and Schink are saying is that in a "value painting" the value differences distract the eye from the more subtle color shifts, such as a slight temperature change in red, for example. If a significantly darker space was near that temperature shift, it would not appear as obvious because of the distraction of the value contrast.

This goes to the "order of seeing." Where we see value differences first, pattern or texture second and THEN color differences. Physiologically, our eyes are made that way. We don't have a choice in the matter.

So, color painters, or colorists, rely on subtle or no value changes in order to show of color variance in temperature or intensity or hue. Luminosity, where the appearance of light coming FROM an object or surface (versus illumination . . .where light is shining ON a surface) is painted by keeping values very close, no darks, no whites . . . .using pure color tints in the luminating area and surrounding that area with near neutrals. This is an intensity change, not a value change.

Skip Lawrence a few years back was on a chase to paint "color as value" where he would use the natural value of colors as they came from the tube to show value changes and ignored the actual hue. for example, in a light and shadow situation, he might use a peach tint for light and a deep purple in shadow. The value difference was the key in his paintings. Where there were subtle color shifts in his paintings such as a change from cool red to warm red, it could not hold the eye . . .and was often missed by the viewer because of the value difference between the peach and purple.

Can painters do what Myrna did in her portrait? Absolutely. She used color as value in her peice and shows off big differences in warm hue versus cool hue . . .but the value structure is still intact. So, Alex Powers would (probably) say that hers was a value painting with colored textural elements exciting the surface.

The key in what Topher was talking about was to decide between flat versus form."

Finally, a clear definition of "Value vs. Color" that finally gets it through my brain! Thank you, Mike. I have taken Mike's class "Watercolor Beyond the Obvious" 3 times (see "series" on my website) and I remember this discussion, but I don't think I truly understood it until now. I think color may be the most complex subject in art. So great to realize that learning never stops and there is so much more to explore! I guess I am a colorful value painter. Very few of my paintings are truly "flattened". I have posted one of my exceptions. At the time I thought I was doing "color as value" and working with pure hues but now I see that although the color has value, the value is not used to define the form in a 3 dimensional way so it is a color painting with pattern as texture. My previous post of Preston Metcalf was more of a true example of color as value.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


Sunday, the Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society had a wonderful demonstration by Christopher Schink. Everyone calls him Topher, so I shall use that name as well. He is the co-author of the "Palette" magazine, along with Skip Lawrence. With names like Topher and Skip, how can you go wrong. These guys have to be loads of fun! I keep meaning to order the magazine. I let my subscription lapse. Every page is valuable, without advertising or editorial. There are those annoying cards in some of the art magazines that are stuck between the pages and often fall out. One of them is an order form to subscribe to this publication. You can also order it from Cheap Joe's. Those are the only two ways to come by it.

I took lots of photos of his demo painting. Fortunately, I have finally solved the problem of not being able to post photographs. That kept me off the blog for 3 days while I was tearing my hair out and screaming curses. Now, if I can just get the printer to print, I will be back in business.

The first photo posted here is his palette. He uses fresh paint each time. You can see he is very generous in loading up the thing. He has some unusual colors that he must use on a regular basis. He paints with very saturated color using a "Skipper" Brush which has stiff bristles. Not your wimpy watercolor approach, to say the least. Here is the final result along with some of his words of wisdom.

"A photograph shows us everything a painting isn't"...Picasso

The "what"of the painting is not as important as they "why" you are painting it.

There are no born geniuses in art. You have to work your way up to "Genius".

and lastly: Everyone is influenced by others. Borrow then make it your own!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


One of the things I keep hearing is that if one is a realist painter then representing 3 dimensions requires value as the dominant element. The modern painters flattened space. Colorists fall into the last group. One needs to choose either color or value, but as Topher Schink described it, if one uses both it sets one's teeth on edge. I refuse to choose. I like both color and value. I resist flattening out the shapes and eliminating the detail. I find the detail interesting to work with. Here is my latest effort to combine color and value. Since color has value, if you get the value right, you can use any hue you desire and achieve three- dimentionality.

This painting is on Yupo. It started with random color intermingling. When dry, I sprayed it with an acrylic spray so it would't lift. The rest was painted with acrylic.

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