Thursday, April 30, 2009


I had intended to post these drawings last night but my internet connection kept dropping. Same problem this morning. Hopefully I won't be having this on a continuing basis. It doesn't take long before one is totally addicted to the computer and the internet and can't function without it. That is the good news, bad news about technology.

These are a few of the drawings I did working on simplifying the image and stylizing a bit. I love interlaced fingers. They are so much fun to draw. I took out my fancy new drawing stick that I used at the drawing marathon and did a drawing on newsprint. It came out well enough that I jumped in and did a drawing of this woman on YUPO with a watercolor crayon. Tomorrow I will start to paint. In the meantime, I will keep my sketchbook filling up with more drawings.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


There was something about this woman's face that appealed to me. She had very expressive hands as well so I managed to get a few good photos to work with. Originally, I was going to combine the interlaced fingers with the more full face view but as I was drawing, I started to like the more profile version better. These are the first drawings. I did three more, starting to stylize and simplify the image more but I am saving them for tomorrow's post.

I am also working on another project. I am scheduled to do a demonstration on the patio of Mistral Restaurant in Redwood Shores on Wednesday, May 6th at 5:30. I have 3 paintings hanging in the restaurant along with some other artists. This is a new kind of promotion for me, so it will be interesting to see what comes from it. I have found that something good always happens when you are willing to try something. Often it is not the result you had anticipated but something totally unexpected.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


I scrubbed out the bottom half of the painting and redrew with a watercolor crayon. I kept the painting in a vertical position so I wouldn't have a distortion. I decided to put the knee in so I wouldn't have to deal with one of the hands. I think the painting is better, the proportions more accurate but I don't consider this a successful painting. I guess you can't win them all. Next!

Friday, April 24, 2009


Somedays are almost perfect!! Today I had a gorgeous drive over to the Pacific Coast. The drive goes by a pristine lake, over a small mountain with forest and grassland, then drops down and travels past flower farms and greenhouses, horse farms, rustic rural enchantment all the way. Then I got to paint for several hours and share techniques, materials and ideas with an enthusiastic group. I had the honor and pleasure to do a demonstration for two different art classes at Half Moon Bay High School. It's been awhile since I have been in a classroom. It was great fun to meet the students, see their work (much of it amazing) and see the creative ideas their teacher, Larkin Evans, came up with. We didn't have this level of experience back in the day when I was going to high school. Sometimes I wish I could redo those times.

I shared my enthusiasm for watercolor and Tyvek paper and left them with 50 sheets (actually I owe them 15 sheets which I will deliver next week.) I hope I will receive some e-mails in the future, with photos of their paintings on Tyvek.

Because I had to work flat and had a time constraint, I didn't get a chance to put the painting upright and step back. Wow, I see some serious problems here!! I struggled with the hands in the first session, so totally eliminated them in the second painting. The proportions of the body, guitar and hands are way off. The head in the first painting is looking pretty good. If I can't resolve the other problems, I may have to do a major, major crop! The head in the second painting is a little off. Maybe it is my head that was a little off today. Still, I had a great time. I hope I will be invited back another time.

I don't often get "over the hill" to the coast. Half Moon Bay is a charming village with lots of little boutique type shops on Main Street. After class, I spent a few hours wandering in and out of places getting into my usual "trouble".

When I came home and checked my e-mails I found this lovely note from the Art Instructor, Ms. Larkin Evans. I thought I would share it with you.

Dear Myrna,
What a priviledge to have our students see you in action. They are so excited to try out what you inspired and I'm sure that over the weekend a few will already come back with new work. Thank you for the paper as well. You are so professional and are such a wealth of ideas, techniques and resources. It will be fun to follow your ongoing art adventures on your blog. Thank you so much!
Larkin Evans and the students from HMBHS Art classes

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


The hot weather in the Bay Area has turned me into a slug, so I thought I would go back to some of my Spain drawings and photos to share with you. Hopefully the cooler weather they are predicting for tomorrow will inspire me to get back to my paint brushes.

Probably our favorite place in Barcelona was not at Gaudi building but this amazing "Modernista" (Art Deco) building which is a music hall. The photos are of part of the outside of the building shooting up. The streets are narrow and it is impossible to get back far enough to take a great shot of the building. The amount of detail and color is astounding. Really mind boggling. You are not allowed to photograph the interior so I purchased a book with all the beautiful details. This is an extremely popular tourist attraction so you have to book a tour in advance. You cannot just wander around inside and must have a guided tour. Ours started at 9 AM and when we went into the area with the stage, there were some people practicing for the evening performance. The sound was so magical I could have sat there all day listening. Naturally we had to move on after about 10 minutes. We decided to see if there were tickets available for the evening performance. We had wonderful seats and it was a huge bargain...only 10 Euros each for the tickets. It was a major piano competition with three different contestants playing that evening. I brought my sketchbook and was able to draw for about 20 minutes before the performance and during intermission. This is part of the ceiling. I hardly knew where to start there was so much detail in and on every inch of the interior of the hall. We loved the evening so much we thought we would see what else was available. The following night was a "Gospel" concert! Wow! Gospel will be mind bending in this place, so we bought tickets. Well, Gospel in Barcelona is not Gospel in the States. It was more Caribbean and African rhythms sung by all white people. They were enthusiastic and had excellent voices but there was not the authenticity we had hoped for. It made me realize how important authenticity is to any art form. When art comes from the soul, from one's personal experience, one's culture, it has a quality that can't be duplicated .

Sunday, April 19, 2009


It felt so good to spend the day, all day, drawing. There was another drawing marathon in Palo Alto today. Looks like the poor economy is showing up here as well. Not nearly as many people showed up as usually do. I like being able to spread out and change positions for a better view, but I feel badly for those that feel that can't afford to come and for the sponsors who work so hard to put it on.

I have been on a spending spree the last couple of days. Must be the warm weather. Anyway, there is a school supply place near me called Morrison's. It is in San Carlos on Industrial & Holly. They have a second location in the South Bay. They were having a sale (except art supplies!!) Guess what I bought....all art supplies. I find the most wonderful treasures in this store. My exciting find yesterday was a large wooden compass that has a place to put chalk in either end. It is made from two pieces of wood that have a screw and wing bolt to connect them. When I had visited Mike Bailey out in Concord, he had his students tape a marker to a long dowel and then draw with the paper on the floor. Robert Burridge does this idea himself with a paintbrush taped to a long stick. It forces you to use your whole body and you have less control. Also, you can't hold the apparatus like a pencil. When I saw the fun drawings from Mike's workshop, I wanted to give it a try. This classroom tool is PERFECT!! I put a marker in one end, folded the gizzmo in half and did the one minute poses. I tried all kinds of pens and brushes today. If the brush was too small to fit snugly into the opening, I shoved part of a kneaded eraser in to hold it tightly. I used cheap coarse oil painting brushes with India Ink. The one above was drawn with the board on the floor. Most of the morning I had a table easel and stood back to draw. I have posted some of the drawings I did, using different materials, from today.

In the afternoon I went for the long pose which lasted for 3 hours with breaks. I used Conte Crayon on Pale Green Pastel Paper. Black, white, sanguine and a yellow ochre hard pastel were all the colors I used. It's been a while since I tried to work accurately and attempt to get a true likeness. I wanted to see if I could still do it! It's a pretty decent likeness. Some of the shadows were very strong and harsh. They didn't look right, so I softened them a little. I forgot to get the model's name. It's nice to be able to credit the model. I know I will see her again.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


One of the highlights of Barcelona is touring the amazing architectural wonders created by Antoni Gaudi. His incomplete masterpiece is the Cathedral Sagrada Familia (Sacred Family). I did this drawing on a second visit. We were taking a long walk to an historic hospital and I needed a rest, so I sat in the park across from the cathedral and drew for about an hour. You can see the park in the last photograph. It was taken from inside one of the towers. I normally avoid heights but couldn't resist taking the elevator inside the cathedral up into one of the towers and then walking down a very very very long spiral staircase. I have shared what the inside of the tower looks like, plus the top of the outside of two of the towers from close range. This is one of those places that you can't stop taking photos. The building is being completed with the funds collected by the tourists. There is scaffolding and workmen everywhere. Definitely job security on this project. The building has been in continuous construction since 1891!! If they complete it in my lifetime, I would love to go back.

I am excited to have the opportunity to teach in Ransom Canyon, Texas outside of Lubbock. August 24 through the 28th. They promise me air conditioning! I will add it to my website when my son gets a break from his college work. He is my webmaster. I don't have a clue how it functions. Fortunately, the blog is a template and you don't have to know computer programming to keep it going.

It's going to be a busy summer with 2 workshops in June in California. The Reseda Workshop is filled but there may be room in the Gualala one, if anyone is looking for a working vacation.

I get this little computer message every day from "The Universe"! I especially like the one from today. Hope you do, too.

"You get as many "do-overs" as you like. Of course, you never know you're living a "do-over" until it's over.

There are lots of reasons for wanting a "do-over." Most of all, people want another chance to do things they were afraid to do the first time, and to say things they were afraid to say. Oddly enough, it's not their mistakes they want to rework, but their "unused" minutes.

Yeah, pretty nifty, but you should know that it isn't any easier the next time, and because no two ever go exactly the same, the gifts, opportunities, and loves of one, never appear the same way again. Never.

So all in all, it's better to live as if there are no "do-overs," so that you won't need one. But I thought I'd share this with you anyway, to work in the bits about fear, mistakes, and how precious today's opportunities really and truly are."

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Last night I had the pleasure of doing a demo for the Los Altos Art Club. They have a theme each month for their meeting and a painting competition based on the theme. April was flowers and gardens, so they requested I paint a flower rather than a portrait. Hey, I can do that! A flower is easier than a portrait. I take lots of photos of flowers but when I go to paint I am always drawn to portraits or figures. I found a parrot tulip photo I liked. There were a few familiar faces in the crowd, which always makes it special. One of the members made a video of my presentation. He promised to send me a copy. Depending on how it turns out, I may try and figure out how to post it on U-Tube.

Above is the painting ....Dr. Martin's Hydrus watercolors on it looked at the end of the demo. Today I took a look at it and decided how I wanted to finish it up. The second image is the results of my efforts. I think I will go back to portraits and figures.

I was ecstatic today. My copy of Mary Todd Beam's new book finally arrived! I dropped everything and sat down with a highlighter pen and started to read. Lots of new ideas I can't wait to try out!!! I love her approach to art. Here's a wonderful quote from the book: "How do you know what you are capable of doing if you do only what you've found to be safe?"

Sunday, April 12, 2009


This is a sketch I did of the statue of King Carlos III on the palace grounds in Madrid. While in the Prado Museum I was studying the features of the kings painted by Valesquez and the young princes and princess had full lips and a heavy chin compliments of their mother who was a Hapsburg (German) Carlos II was one, I believe. Anyway, there was another room in the museum with additional royalty and there was the painting of Carlos III. Well, poor Carlos inherited a weak chin and a nose to rival those of my mother's family! He was the only Spanish king with this distinction. Jimmy Durante would have been proud. So, Carlos III is the only king I can actually remember. Turned out he was a great monarch that did wonderful things for the people of Spain and there were statues dedicated to him eveywhere we went.

Speaking of Spanish Kings, I googled last night to find out which one had the famous lisp. There was a king with a lisp but I was surprised to learn that idea that the King introduced a lisping sound into the language is an urban legend. Darn! I thought that was such a great story.

Check out today's Urban Sketcher's blog. Some wonderful sketches of Barcelona and Madrid and the most fantastic sketch of Gaudi's Sagrada Familia. The guy didn't even go into the church so he had enough time to sketch the towers outside. I spent an hour sketching the same thing and I am in awe of this guy's ability to capture the detail.

Friday, April 10, 2009


The last day of our stay in Madrid, we took the train to the close by town of Aranjuez. One of the Spanish kings, Felipe 11, had built a summer palace here. The spot was an oasis in the dry region of La Mancha. There were acres of gardens beside the palace. I came across this beautiful fountain in this Jardin de la Isla. What was so special to me about this particular fountain was the figure of a youth with a thorn in his foot. During WW!!, my father was antique shopping and found a marble statue of a boy with a thorn, purchased it and made it part of a lamp. The statue broke at one point and he glued it back together. So, I grew up with this very statue (ours was smaller). I have seen this statue in a major museum (can't remember which one) so there must have been many copies. Growing up we never knew this was a famous piece but we loved it. As kids we thought he was picking at his foot. It was a wonderful surprise to discover my childhood friend with a thorn so unexpectedly in the park. I always knew my dad had exceptional taste!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Chris Beck has honored me with a feature on her blog, BRUSH-PAPER-WATER. She selects various watercolor artists. I feel fortunate to be included with so many outstanding talented people. Chris is an extremely accomplished artist, herself. Her blog, "I'm Painting as fast as I can" showcases her work. She started the second blog to generously promote others. You can check out the blog by clicking on the title or go to the blogs on the side and find it there.

I spent half the day exercising and the other half undoing all the good as I tasted my way through lots of cooking. Too much work getting ready for the holiday to spend anytime drawing or painting. Sometimes my other roles in life have to come first. One more day of preparation, then I can get back to painting. In the meantime, I am mentally planning and painting up a storm!

Above is a sketch I did of the Ministry of Agriculture. It was across the street from a sidewalk cafe we were sitting at. Madrid has a million buildings with statues on the top! I don't understand the concept. No one can see and appreciate the art up that high. Sculpture is fun to draw. It is like a life drawing class where the model is guaranteed not to move and you have all the time in the world.

Monday, April 6, 2009


At one end of this gorgeous park in Madrid are formal gardens. The trees are shaped in the most unusual way. Very fun to draw. There is a high arching wall and then a curving staircase down to the gardens and then out to the street if you continue on the path. I sat on top of the wall, looking down to draw this view. My sister did a watercolor painting. Here she is sitting on the wall. You can see her painting and her set up. Click on any of the images to get a larger, more detailed look.

Today I went with Chris Beck to a fabulous exhibit at the Old Mint in San Francisco. She had e-mailed me about this exhibit and I thought it would be a nice opportunity to spend some time with a new friend. Having another artist to discuss a show with is the best time possible. I have passed by this building (circa 1860's) many times but it is closed to the public. For a week is had been opened for this special showing. The artist, Elaine Badgley Arnoux, is an 82-year-old woman who started doing these portraits of 140 San Franciscans back in 1978. She used many different materials from graphite, colored pencil, gouache, watercolor, charcoal in various combinations. One was dated March, 2009 (Hot off the Press!) A very impressive body of work.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


I try to take my Moleskin sketchbook with me everywhere. I am getting better at using it. I decided a little hand mirror might be a good addition to the art kit. That way you could see people without continually looking at them directly. When your eyes meet while you are drawing a stranger, it feels a little weird!

We scheduled a guided walking tour of the beautiful Retiro Park in Madrid. It is huge, reminding me a little of Golden Gate Park here in San Francisco. Turned out that day was Father's Day in Spain. They chose the birthday of their patron saint to be the official Father's Day. It was the middle of the week but an official holiday and the park was filled to the brim with people. Lots of strolling musical groups. One energetic group played Dixieland Jazz and seemed to be following us as we moved from place to place. We stopped for refreshments and I drew some of the people around me.

Today I decided to sit down and do some drawing for a few hours even though I have a list a mile long of things I need to accomplish. I knew if I didn't make it a priority above all else, it wouldn't get done. The drudgery of everyday life can so easily take over and push out the good stuff. People often ask me how I get so much art done. My "secret" is I put art first. The things on my list will get done because I have no choice. Maybe at midnight, but they get done. I still have my office to clean up after I post tonight. I think I need a wife!

Saturday, April 4, 2009


Thank you to everyone who welcomed me back! I appreciate all your kind words. I think I am pretty much over the jet-lag.
I finally have viewed all the photos and selected some to work from. I had a scare when I couldn't find the one photo I had planned to create my first painting. I had already deleted everything from my card and was devastated. I carefully reviewed all the discs and found it. What a feeling of relief. Next I need to create a photo book of the trip while it is fresh in my mind. There seems to be no end of things to work on. The little watercolor above was done sitting in the formal garden of the palace of the King and Queen of Spain. I posted the photo I took of what I was looking at, just for fun. I was the only one who wanted to go through the palace, so it didn't happen. The down side of traveling with companions. If I had known earlier, I would have gone through the palace by myself but it was late in the day and there wasn't time. Everyone else was sick of ostentation. Personally, I enjoy seeing how the other half lives.

Thursday, April 2, 2009


We returned on Monday with a 27 hour marathon and 3 separate plane rides but happy to be home. Today I feel somewhat normal and ready to get back to art. I tried to download my 1589 photos but the computer refused!!! I will have to take the card and have discs made and then work from there. In the meantime I scanned this drawing so I could get something from the trip onto the blog. This was done sitting in front of the Prado Museum. It is a beautiful statue of Velasquez. I wasn't really close and my eyesight is poor but I think I captured the essence of the object. I mostly did ink drawings on the trip with a few small watercolor paintings. On my next trip I am going to just take drawing materials. I can do a nice drawing in less than an hour and it makes a nice resting period between all the walking. I always take a photo of what I am drawing for future reference. Often, my husband takes a photo of me holding up the drawing in front of the scene I just drew. We went to the three major museums in Madrid. At the Prado we saw the Velasquez painting of the Infanta called "Las Meninas". There was an English Speaking Docent in the room explaining the painting (we listened in!) It is a huge canvas. Later, in Barcelona, at the Picasso Museum, we saw over 20 variations on this painting that Picasso did (I guess he had the idea of a series first) and then at a contemporary exhibit at the Caixa Forum of a painter from Bosnia, Mersad Berber, there were more variations on this Infanta painting. There must be thousands more versions by various artists around the world. It was wonderful having just seen the original and then all the additional interpretations. I was totally enthralled with Berber. He does mixed media with exciting results. I studied some of the paintings and recorded what I thought was his process and sequencing. I hope to try out my theory sometime soon. He combines masterful portraiture and drawing with all kinds of other abstract forms and media. I didn't relate to a great deal of his subject matter but loved his mastery and inventiveness.

I am thinking I will spend the coming year developing paintings from the images I captured on this trip. The wheels are turning. When I awake at 4 in the morning I start envisioning these paintings in my head. I have the first one all planned out. Better get those photos out of the camera!

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