Saturday, August 30, 2008


I am so excited about the challenge that I have prepared for September that I decided to start a day early in presenting it!
Here is the idea:
We are all going to be working with the same image. In this way we will have maximum variety for one image. Here is our guy. You might remember him from a previous drawing challenge. I picked him because I can see the potential. If you would like me to send you by e-mail a higher resolution image, let me know. From here on "we" means myself and any others out there that want to play along. "We" are going to create as many paintings based on this image as we can by working with the 7 elements of design. The elements are:


Each month I will select an element which will be THE DOMINANT ELEMENT in the painting. LINE WILL BE THE DOMINANT ELEMENT FOR SEPTEMBER. I have found by creating restrictions I am MUCH MORE CREATIVE and FOCUSED forcing my thoughts and ideas to fit within the limitations. For WEEK ONE of September, the first limitation is that LINE will be the most dominant element of the painting. The second limitation is that it be not only line but THINKING OF LINE IN TERMS OF SIZE. I am not going to define what I mean by that because I want you to interpret what that means to you and then work with it. The third limitation will be color: You can only use 5 tubes of paint. You can decide what color scheme you want to work with, i.e. triad, split compliment, analogous, etc.

I have posted a few examples of line from my series Nick with Guitar to get you started. You might want to search the internet, look at competition show catalogues, go to the bookstore and look at the art magazines, think of famous painters who used line as a strong element, etc. to get some ideas. You might want to start a notebook where you file these ideas and images according to these elements for future reference.

A few thoughts on LINE and then we are off and running!
"Line is a dot who went for a walk" (I think this is a quote by Matisse...please correct me if wrong)
A line can be jagged or smooth, disconnected or continual, delicate or bold, tentative or assertive, implied, smudged, fading in and out and so much more. Each of these characteristics suggest mood or meaning. Thinking about all the possibilities with just line alone boggles the mind!

I can't wait to see what you come up with. I have already written down 3 or 4 ideas. Work any size you want. I personally think quarter sheet is the smallest I will work if pressed for time. Be sure and send me what you come up with.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


I finally have the small room off the living room in our house called "the library" (because it has book shelves) set up to paint in. With winter coming, the garage studio is very cold and drafty. It took quite a bit of cleaning out but I think it will work out nicely. I purchased an Ott Light for the room. Now I have the "natural light" even at night.

This is my first painting in my new work space. It is still a work in progress. My order for Yupo came in, so I thought I would try to work on it for a change of pace. The first pass was a very wet mingled wash using New Gamboge, Indian Red, and Ultramarine Blue. I wanted the colors more muted for this subject, so I picked a dull red. I also love the rich darks this color helps create. While the wash was wet, I drew 2 faces onto the paper with a blue watercolor crayon. The crayon pushes the paint away from it and it also starts to dissolve, creating a very interesting effect. The pushing of the paint only happens the first time. Subsequent marks into a wet wash don't have the same chemistry. I let the painting dry.

Second pass I started to build the structure of the face using the same three colors with the addition of Payne's Gray. Notice the watercolor crayon marks in the hair. This is how the crayon works on this paper after there is paint on the page. Nice but quite different from the first.

I have worked some more on this painting today but haven't photographed it yet. They came to clean the carpets today so the dinning room furniture is in the breakfast room and the living room furniture is in my new "studio/library" and the carpet has to dry 24 hours before the furniture goes I can't get back to my painting for awhile. Anyway, I feel like I am putting paint on and then taking it off, then putting more on then taking it off, yada, yada, yada. Yupo can be frustrating but I am having fun. I want to make sure to capture the hauntingly proud and resentful expression in this face.

Monday, August 25, 2008


Today is my 45th wedding anniversary. Tonight we were treated to a steak and king crab dinner prepared by two of my sons and my grandson. On Saturday we played tourist in San Francisco with our friends who share our anniversary week. Took the subway into the city, window shopped, went to a fabulous outdoor concert across from the Museum of Modern Art. Frieda Kahlo was just a breath away but we didn't take the time. Need to go back before the exhibit leaves. I took tons of great pictures of the musicians and the crowd dancing in the isles. I tried sketching but everybody was moving so much. It was good practice but nothing usable came from it. I need to spend more time developing the skills. Then we went to the farmers market in the Ferry building at the wharf. Took the ferry to Sausalito and back and had dinner at an overpriced restaurant next to the ferry building, then back home on the subway. It was a glorious day, the weather was perfect and I took so many photos I think my computer will explode when I download them.

I did get some drawing done but haven't photographed it yet. In the meantime, I thought I would post an image from the archives. This one used Utrect gesso (which is very thick) and I stamped into it while it was wet with an Indonesian batik stamp, then painted. I have been out of this type of gesso but recently ordered a large quantity. Can't wait to do this technique again.

I am hoping to get to a painting tomorrow. Life has been getting in the way lately and I am not getting much art done.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


This is all I had time for today in the way of art work. After hunting down the book of Indian portraits, I decided to start sketching some of them. I didn't realize that there were quite a number of photographers represented in this book. The difficulty of dragging such cumbersome photography equipment by wagon all over the West is staggering. How wonderful that these images have been preserved. Now we have digital cameras the size of credit cards!

I hope to do many more sketches. I was studying their features intently. The cheekbones on these proud faces are the most dramatic I think I have ever seen. Big big wide strong cheek bones, elongated noses, small intense eyes, rich skin tones. Magnificent faces!!!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Finally, home and trying to get back into a routine again. I didn't do any artwork while I was gone but besides the great exhibit at the Nelson Gallery Bloch Wing, I found two books I am very excited about. One is a book I saw In Jackson Hole, Wyoming which I regretted not buying. It is photographs of Indians , late 1800's. Not the ones by Curtis. Such magnificent faces, I decided I couldn't live without it. In the Denver airport during the 2 hour layover, I found a book published in 1985 with 150 photographic portraits of bald people! The photographer said he took the same photo over and over with different heads. Many are women. I am going to incorporate this book in my workshops somehow. I need to play around with it for awhile. All the faces are straight on with little or no expression. Totally fascinating. I can't wait to start using this book.

When I was going to San Francisco State, in one of my classes we made soft sculptures a la Claes Oldenburg. What Fun!!!!!! I have since seen any number of his large outdoor rigid sculptures but never any of the soft sculpture which made him famous. There were two at the gallery shown here. The first is a Saxaphone made from cloth and the other is a light switch from vinyl. Claes has been one of my favorite artists ever since I first learned about him.

The second artist who I share with you is Louise Nevelson. Her assemblage sculptures are exciting. The quote speaks for itself.

There was a wonderful piece of ceramic sculpture by Robert Arneson (another very favorite), 4 Wayne Theibauld paintings, a terrific Duane Hanson sculpture of a museum guard (so lifelike) and a group of bronze figures outside on the walkway by George Segal. Abstract Expressionism was well represented but the above mentioned artists are some of my very favorites. I relate to a sense of realism and humor. If you are not familiar with some of these artists, I hope you take the time to search them out.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


I am in Kansas City for an extended weekend for a family event. The new Bloch addition (think Richard Bloch of H & R Bloch fame) to the Nelson Art Gallery was open late Friday night so we finally had a chance to see it. As you can see by the photos, it is magnificent and glows at night all lit up! Every major contemporary painter is represented in their collection and you can get verrry close to the art work without a guard threatening you. For my nearsighted eyes, this was heaven. Also, photography was allowed. Yes! Speaking of guards, there is a Duane Hanson sculpture of a guard that looks so life like, my sister talked to him! I had never seen an Andrew Wyeth painting in person. In case you haven't either, here is a very close up and personal view of his brush work. Amazing, indeed! Since I won't have time to do any art work while I am here ...too busy visiting with family and eating, eating, eating....I will post some of my other photos of a few favorite pieces tomorrow.

Friday, August 15, 2008


Click on the title and it will take you to the winner's page.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


Yesterday I immersed myself in glorious art exhibits. Living in the San Francisco Bay area provides some rare cultural opportunities. Right now there are three major at each of the main museums. I went with some friends and managed to see two out of the three. Next, I will find a time to see the Frida Kahlo exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art.

We started out at the DeYoung Museum in Golden Gate Park for the Dale Chihuly art glass exhibit. At one time way back in the day, I thought about learning how to create art glass but realized I did not posses the physical strength for this type of work. I am not totally in love with all of Chihuly's work but knew there would be much to inspire me. When we first arrived we passed a room with a video of how the work was created. It was so crowded we decided to come back and headed off to the exhibition rooms. In retrospect, I think that was a mistake. When you see how it is made, you appreciate what you are looking at so much more. I have posted a few of the many, many photos I took. I very much appreciated the opportunity to photograph. The lighting was challenging in the darkened rooms for my people watching photos but the glass photos are excellent. I decided to find abstract compositions among the work to photograph for future painting reference. This is a really fun way to approach photography. I will probably never get to it, but it can't hurt to have it in my files. I loved the video the most. I could have sat there all day watching it. I was dragged away sooner than I would like. How magical liquid glass is! I was mesmerized watching them work. The most startling thing to discover is that Chihuly doesn't even touch the glass at all!!!!! He makes a quick drawing and then these master glass artists interpret his idea....they do all the work! It is an interesting collaborative process but the glory is not equally shared. I'm curious if the riches are equally shared as well. Somehow I doubt it.

Entrance to the DeYoung gives you same day entrance to the Legion of Honor so after lunch we headed off to see the 4 Women Impressionists show. Unfortunately, photography was a no no here. Too bad. I was aching to photograph the people in the museum more than the work itself.

There was an extensive exhibit of Mary Cassatt's work. She is the most well know of the 4. Berthe Morisot is also well known but Eva Gonzales and Marie Bracquemond are much less recognized. Besides wonderful work, the thing that struck me the most is how difficult it was for women to be able to devote themselves to art during that period. Everything I have been reading and listening to on tape lately has the recurring theme of women's societal restrictions impacting their ability to live the life they would chose for themselves. It has only been in the last 40 years that we have real freedom of choice and equality. I am trying not to squander the opportunity and deeply appreciate my good fortune.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


I totally messed up the Tyvek painting. I plan to keep working on it with acrylic so I can cover up and correct the poor drawing which has created problems. I think I will make it more abstracted. I won't be able to get to it for a few days as I am hard at work cleaning out the library....going through bookshelves, drawers, cabinets, etc. in an effort to create a new space in which to work on my art during the colder months. My studio is in an unheated garage. Even in California, it is uncomfortable in the winter. I am slowly making progress.

I decided to get some drawing in this evening as I am watching the Olympics. I did about three sheets in my sketchbook tonight.
I love this man's face. He has a fantastic nose and a wonderfully haughty expression. Some of the drawings border on a Picasso quality but I like the distortion. This gave me an idea to start a painting this way, drawing multiple studies of the same face over the sheet and then add paint.

Saturday, August 9, 2008


I'm working on a new painting. I decided to try collaging with torn Tyvek. I saw a beautiful painting on Thursday by Leslie that had some areas of torn tyvek and wanted to try it. I took a failed Tyvek painting and made a small cut on an edge and then started ripping. It's pretty tough stuff but can be torn up with a little effort. I used full strength acrylic matt medium and glued the pieces in a random way over a failed watercolor. Much of the Tyvek was the unpainted part but I used some of the pieces right side up and I left a little of the original painting showing through. I brushed some red liquid watercolor into the surface of the collage while it was still damp. Then I set it aside to dry. I drew the image on with a Vis-A-Vis pen and then used acrylic inks to start layering the color. I bought the inks because I wanted the feel of watercolor but the non-lifting properties of acrylic. The inks are so transparent that the undercolor really interacts with it in a very interesting way! I am very excited about this result. I have posted two details of the painting. You can see how the original red is popping through and the texture is really amazing. I should be able to finish the painting tomorrow and post the final result.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


I texturized the dickens out of this piece of paper then kept piling on the paint. I used some of my new stamps in dots and
checks for the pattern. After I looked at it for a few days, I decided today to add the face and words. I drew the head with a Vis-a-Vis marker, created a little contouring with a wet brush and tried to lift the paint for highlights. Surprise! The paint wouldn't lift. It should have because I am working on a gesso surface. I will have to think on why no lifting. Perhaps one has to lift the paint while it is fairly fresh. This has been sitting since the weekend. I decided to use the white watercolor from the Dr. Martin's set for highlights. I wrote the words with my quill in full strength Payne's Gray , let it dry, and then squirted it with water to let the color run. I like the overall idea of texture but I think I may have gone overboard with the background and the white looks too pasty. I may try to put a glaze over the face or maybe over the entire painting to pull it all together. It's not a "keeper" but I think I am moving in on something.

Monday, August 4, 2008


I spent hours today taking high resolution photos of my drawing to send to Strokes of Genius 2 for publication. They are so cleaver to have the artist do all the work. I had to set up a lighting system and find a black background, get a gray card, yada yada. I can't believe how difficult it seemed to be to get the lighting even on the image. My son, Kevin, is doing the adjustment and formatting, thank goodness. Otherwise it would have been pretty expensive for me to get this done. Anyway, I finally decided to wait until dark so there wouldn't be any extraneous light coming into the room. We finally have it properly formatted and ready to send in.

While I had everything set up, I decided to photograph a painting I did in school. I don't remember what class this was for. It is done on masonite with guache. It is a self portrait. I was very interested in fiber art during this period...everything but weaving. That was too slow and tedious for me. The jacket I am wearing I designed and pieced. The quilt in the background is fictional but references my interest in quilt imagery. The pose reminds me of the original Superman with Steve Reeves.

Nava wanted to see what I looked like back in the day so here I is!

Sunday, August 3, 2008


I was cleaning out a cabinet and found some photo albums. I actually used to put photos in them! Now, everything gets thrown into a box. I scanned these directly into the computer quite easily. I think I will do more of this and then put them on a CD for more efficient storage. One of the albums was from my college graduation from San Francisco State in 1981. What a trip down memory lane I had this afternoon. I had one year of college after high school. Financially, I couldn't afford to continue so I went to work, got married, had children and moved to San Francisco. I was able to return to college after being here (Ca.) a year to get my residency requirement. It was practically free, too good a deal to pass up. I loved every minute of it. So I managed to graduate at the age of 39 right before my boys started college.

I celebrated with a wonderful party. My folks came with KC barbecue provided by my Dad who smoked all the meat and carted it all the way from Kansas City. We had a hayride and square dancing, to boot! I decided to award door prizes of some of my paintings from classes I had taken. These are photos of the winners. Joyce, a fellow artist, is the first winner and has stayed a true friend all these years. I shall have to check her wall of paintings to see if this one is still up! Shelley is the second winner and also a best friend for over 30 years. I am at her house constantly. I wonder which closet this painting is in. Noreen is the third winner. She was our next door neighbor then and the loveliest person. She and her husband retired and moved to central California. Claire is the fourth winner. She was a great buddy in college and we graduated together but I have lost track of her since she moved away. Lastly is Ben. He looks ecstatic with his slightly obscene posed painting! I'm pretty sure that one didn't make it up on a wall. Ben succumbed to liver cancer a few years later. He was a great guy and missed by all who knew him.

I saved a few of my paintings from college classes so I can see if what kind of progress I am making with my art. I really didn't put paint to paper or canvas after graduating until 2000. Now the paintings are piling up again. Maybe I'll have another party.

Saturday, August 2, 2008


This is such a truthful video and perfectly expressed! The old adage, practice, practice, practice comes to mind. I sometimes think there is always going to be some gap between desire and execution. Personally, my expectations for myself continually go up so I never am where I want to be. I find that motivating. I get bored if I can do something easily. I want to be challenged. How exciting to think there is always room for improvement, always new things to accomplish, that life continues to be interesting to the very end. I think it was Monet who said at the time of his death that he was just starting to get the hang of things. Amen!

Friday, August 1, 2008


The Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society has a theme for their annual show. This year the theme is "On the Edge". I was thinking maybe I would enter this painting into the show. My new working title is "The Edge of Perception". I am open to other suggestions, so don't be shy!

I like this angle of the head much better. It is more pleasant and a hell of a lot easier to draw! I covered an old painting start with Gesso and let it dry. Then I drew the head on with Sanguine Pitt permanent pen. Next, using my new alphabet stamp set I "iced"each letter as I needed it with heavy gloss gel (used a plastic knife to spread the gel over the letter) and stamped it onto the paper. This was the most time consuming part of the painting. When the gel was dry, i coated the paper again with gesso. I used a rubber brayer to even out the gesso and I like the subtle texture and even surface this provided. You have to put gesso over the gel if you hope to have any watercolor stick to it.

When the last coat of gesso dried, you could see a faint ink line of the image. Perfect! I started out with yellow ochre for the background and then proceeded from there. I layered a number of color on the background and was disappointed that I couldn't see them. It just looked like texture. Then I decided to try the tissue technique used by George James on Yupo. I wet the surface and lifted paint off and VOILA! you could see the letters. It's not really legible but you can tell that it is wording of some sort. You can click on the detail to see the effect better. I am pleased with the background and how it integrates with the foreground. Overall, I am pleased with the results. I see one minor touch up (a light spot under the chin) that needs correcting. I'm having fun and learning a lot.

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