Sunday, August 30, 2009


Here is the slide show of the first paintings from the workshop. These women are a close knit group of friends who paint together and call themselves "The Splash Girls". Love the name and love this group. The close friendships and support that they show each other made the week extra special. There is a wide range of experience in this group from a "ringer" who teaches portraiture to someone creating their first portrait.

I had requests to explain my gesso transfer process. I will give it a try. I use this method to cover old paintings. You need two paintings laid out next to each other on a protected table top. Cover one painting with heavy gesso (I think Utrecht is the best but a few other brands can be found that are THICK like frosting in a can) While the gesso is still wet, cover it with a sheet of waxed paper. Immediately lift up the wax paper and deposit the gesso that is on the waxed paper to the other painting by laying the gooey side down on the painting and running your hand across the back of the paper or using a brayer. I do this a number of times with the same piece of waxed paper until most of the painting is covered over with spotty gesso. I want part of the old painting to show through. I sometimes take a sheet of press and seal saran and texture the gesso, as well. it has a micro dot pattern that I love. Throw away the waxed paper and Press and Seal Saran. I have been tempted to try and college the waxed paper but haven't tried it yet. Let both paintings dry and then put a new painting on them. I hope this explanation is reasonably clear. You had to have been there!


I am back from a fabulous week in the Lubbock, Texas area called Ransom Canyon. I held a workshop there and made some great new friends. I will be posting a slide show of the first paintings tomorrow. It will take me a little while to adjust the photos and put a name with a painting, etc. I also have some great photos of Ransom Canyon to share later in the week, along with additional paintings from the workshop. I took my computer but was not able to get internet reception on it, so couldn't post to the blog during the week.

Texas hospitality was in full swing there. I was wined and dined and treated like royalty. My hostess, Joyce Runyan, was so gracious. She has this great house with an incredible view overlooking the lake in the canyon. We sat out on the deck, balmy weather and sipped wine and talked art and our life history each night as the sun set and the stars came out. No pollution, clear bright skies. Joyce has an extensive art book collection, of which I took full advantage! I am looking forward to a return visit.

This is the first demo I did for the workshop. I demonstrated my gesso transfer technique and that was the surface I painted on.
I am going to include a "how to" series of photos in my book as I think I created this process and it doesn't exist in any source material that I know of. I am never sure if I invented a process or idea. I read so much that I sometimes forget that I saw it somewhere and imagine I invented it. I believe in giving credit to the originator, so if you catch me making an honest mistake, be sure and set me straight.

Friday, August 21, 2009


Gerry talked about the architect that created the phrase "less is more" then he quoted another architect who stated "Less is boooooooring" Mr. Brommer sides with the latter! Today's assignment was to have a "theme" and place your focal point in the top third of the vertically oriented page, then fill the bottom 2/3rds with lots of small drawings and words, much like a journal page. He likes to fill up all the space. This is a great idea for travel, especially. We started out with collage images, covered with washi paper then diluted gesso. After this dries, go back into it with drawing and painting.

I decided this was a good chance to see how my new photo transfer process would work. I ruined two sheets by printing on the wrong side. The ink just slides off and doesn't stick. What a mess! It was very difficult to see the coating on the side meant for printing, but I finally got it right and printed one page of drawings and one of colored paintings of my Frenchman. I made a contact sheet with nine on the sheet. It was lots of fun working with this idea. After I transferred the images, I used mostly tissue paper to collage over as I wanted a lot of the stuff to show through. Gerry suggests adding a border to unify the composition and contain all the small fragments. I still want to add some stronger ink lines and perhaps more words. Over all, I am pleased. It is very different from anything I have ever done before. I also want to try more of the transfer process on this surface. It has interesting possibilities.

I was too tired to unpack the car. Tomorrow I have to finish packing for my workshop in Ransom Canyon, Texas. I will need to switch hats and be the instructor instead of the student. I love both roles. Looking forward to renewing some friendships from my last Texas workshop and meeting some new friends.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Today we collaged the paper first, let it dry, covered it with diluted gesso...let that dry...then drew our image in and added paint. The entire week, line was to be the dominant element. I used lots of printed material from magazines and books underneath the Japanese rice papers. The gesso helps to obscure the collaged materials and creates an interesting surface to draw and paint on.

In the middle of the night I had this idea to do a collage starting with black gesso and then working towards lighter values. Here is my first go at this idea. I drew the image on the dry black gessoed surface with diluted white gesso in a needle nose bottle. It would be fun to try this idea with other gesso colors. I have red and gold. It comes in many other colors,

The ideas we have been working with this week are not in any of Gerald Brommer's published books but he has a new DVD through Cheap Joe's with this workshop material on it. Naturally, I bought a copy. It turns out the Gerald has seven different workshops he presents to groups around the country and is working on another. It is inspirational to see someone that is 82 so active, energetic, creative and dedicated as he is. I want to be like him when I grow up.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Each day just gets better and better. I am very much attracted to this way of working. I hope to do a lot more in the future and have some greater insight into additional methods and ways of combining materials that I never thought of before. I have all the books but somehow they never sunk in. Probably sensory overload. There is only so much we can absorb at a time. I need to revisit lots of my books.

Today we built up the surface with collage paper, using brown bag or brown craft paper for the dark value. Covering the entire surface with layers of paper, then drawing and painting into the wet collage, especially adding white gouache which does amazing things on this surface. Then let it dry and then adding more line, paint, etc. Here are my two efforts for the day. I think this is the first workshop I have ever taken where I wanted to mat and sign anything I did. Amazing!

I am soaking up all of Gerald's wonderful stories and wisdom as well as his great techniques. He has traveled and taught for so many years that he has great little interesting adventures and experiences that he shares.

Tomorrow we will put gesso over the textural surface and paint on that. Gesso? I think I have died and gone to heaven!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Today we worked with collage papers instead of painted shapes. The idea is that the shapes do not relate to the line. More like a double exposure thing where two separate things are merged into one painting. We did two different paintings, one where you start with the line and one where you start with the shapes of collage paper. It was more difficult that I thought. Once you have the line down, it is challenging to ignore the line and put the papers down. If you look carefully, you can see the line under the collage papers in the second image. I decided to photograph the process so there is a before and after. I did two different versions of the Frenchman so I could use them for the LINE chapter.

It was a very fun day and I like the slow progression of adding ideas to the mix one change at a time. Very easy to really absorb the information and put it into use. Gerry liked my first effort so much he said he would like to have it. I said I would trade and he agreed!!!!! Wow, I am very jazzed about that! Honored that he wanted one of my paintings and excited that I get to own one of his.

Tomorrow we work with brown paper, white textured collage papers and layers and layers. Yum!

Monday, August 17, 2009


This is going to be a FABULOUS week! Gerald Brommer is a masterful artist, an experienced teacher of teachers and students alike, and a humble and charming gentleman. His manner is low key, his discussions full of humor and I like his critiques. He always finds the good in the work but they are honest and instructive. Of course, I would expect as much. I have been in classes where the critiques were useless.

Today's lesson was about light colored shape washes unrelated and subordinate to the line. We worked with starting with line first and then starting with shape first. When you are done, you can't tell which came first. I can't wait to pre-paint my sketch book pages with this idea. The last half hour we painted washi papers for tomorrow's session.

Here are my efforts for the day. They are quarter sheets. I usually don't work this small but it is a good size for a workshop where there is limited space. I wish I had brought my Frenchman photo to work with. I plan to work with him for the rest of the workshop, along with some other faces.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


While packing a box to ship to Lubbock for the workshop I am giving next week and packing supplies for the Gerald Brommer workshop I am taking this coming week, I came across the start of a painting with the Frenchman. I had drawn this image onto the paper with red ink. I decided to see how the Permanent Masking fluid would work on this paper. Using a calligraphy pen point with a flat nib, I covered the red lines to preserve them. I followed with a pale yellow wash and went from there. I used a wider nib and a ruler to keep my lines straight, I patterned some of the sections with stripes. The resist is very subtle on this paper and in some areas doesn't show up at all. This is my printer paper which doesn't seem to have much sizing in it or on it. I have some other papers to try it on. Overall, I am pleased with this one. I kept to 4 colors and their mixtures. Gamboge, Thalo, Permanent Red and Hansa Yellow Deep (Yellow Orange). It was very helpful to have my value pattern all worked out. I stayed with it most of the way. I was able to remove the color to create a black and white image in the computer. Comparing it to my value sketch, I am happy to say it measures up quite nicely! By outlining the shapes with a line I effectively combined two elements. Using line as pattern is another combination of design elements. Pattern is a form of texture. In fact, each element can be combined with each of the other elements to create an amazing array of ideas.

I look forward to sharing with you the Gerald Brommer workshop this coming week. He will be focusing on Collage and Line!!!!!!! How perfect is that? I am looking forward to meeting him and learning from one of the true master teachers. In fact he has been a teacher's teacher for many years. I know it will make me a better teacher as well as learning some exciting new ways of working.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Thinking up blog post titles can be as much fun as creating titles for paintings. The first "new" thing is that my redesigned web site is up and running. Click on the blog title to check it out. One of the best changes is that I can update it myself. It is also more interactive, so viewers can leave comments. Kevin is now ready to help other artists with a custom web site that they can self manage. $200 is his going rate but since I provide dinner every night, I get the deep family discount (free!) I have some rearranging of paintings to do and some workshops to add. Hopefully I will get to that by the weekend.

The second "new" thing is I am starting to work on the examples for the next chapter in my book. LINE is an interesting element and a big favorite of mine. It is most often used as an accent in a painting. Except for Asian Brush Painting, line is rarely the dominant element in a painting. I was searching for a new idea when I thought of reversing the process I used for my line painting in the Nick Series where I redrew the image over and over with successively smaller brushes and darker paint. In this painting I used Permanent Masking Medium. It acts like maskoid but can't be rubbed off. I changed brush sizes and started with pale yellow and went progressively darker with the paint. I did a final line drawing with a dark line. I think it reads as LINE as a dominant element and I am intrigued with the possibilities for this product. I would like to try it again. That's what is so wonderful about experiments. There is no attachment to the outcome and it leads to planned ideas based on the unexpected results.

Monday, August 10, 2009


I recently purchased a new book on making books. Why? Because if I bought this book as a second book I would get free shipping on the book I was really interested in. I have a feeling there is no economy of savings in this plan but I did get two terrific new books. Anyway, in the "Book + Art, Handcrafting Artists' Books" by Dorothy Simpson Krause (North Light Books) there was this photo transfer idea I had to try. I was so excited when it worked!!! And it was easy with better results than I have ever had from other photo transfer processes. Plus, you can use the print from a home ink jet printer as opposed to the toner prints from Kinko's or other such places.

Here is one of my experiments on regular watercolor cold press along with the second print (referred to as the ghost print). You print out your image onto transparent plastic sheets designed for ink jet printers. There is a special setting on the printer for this type of product to feed through. I had no problems with it feeding or printing, I used Grafix brand (6 sheets for $6.29) The book called for some exotic product that I couldn't find so I thought I would try this and was surprised and delighted that the process worked. The first print I made I used the maximum ink and transfered the image to a smooth print maker's paper like BFK Reeves. A PERFECT TRANSFER! But, I thought I didn't need to use so much ink. This is my second try and I wanted to see how it would look on watercolor paper. I used the "normal" ink setting on the printer and I think there was plenty of ink.

Here is the very cool news....the transfer medium is the hand sanitizer, Purell, which is an alcohol gel!!!! You just spread it on the paper with a credit card or such, place the image ink side down on the paper and burnish the back of the plastic film. It takes just a minute and it is done! I tried a "store brand" of this alcohol gel and it had aloe in it and it still worked. I can get a large bottle of this brand for much less than Purell.

I'm not sure how I am going to use this transfered image but I am considering a lot of different mixed media ideas. I did a small transfer onto YUPO to see if it would work. A little trickier but it did work. However, I took a wet brush to the corner of the image after it had dried and, sure enough, it can wash off if care isn't taken to preserve it. I also tried cleaning off the plastic and reusing it by printing on the other side. This was not too successful. I'm not sure how light fast these prints will be. I will have to do a window test. I suspect they will fade.

Saturday, August 8, 2009


Here is the last of the quartet of color studies. This one is ANALOGOUS COLORS (3 or 4 colors next to each other on the color wheel) As a random pick, I got Red Orange/Orange/Yellow Orange. I actually mixed the RO and YO together to get the orange as I didn't have one in the Hydrus line. My 3 forms of color trio was TINT/TONE/BLACK. I tried to stick to this but in the end I couldn't stand the total blackness of the side of the face so created a SHADE by brushing Red-Orange on top. I really like the result. I wound up "cheating" on my value plan, as well, as I was painting. In truth, this is the way to work. It pays to have a plan when you start but an artist needs to respond to what is happening on the page and make adjustments which may deviate from the plan to make the best painting possible. When I was a very inexperienced painter, many years ago, I remember being baffled by the expression "let the painting talk to you". It's exciting when you get to the stage that you not only understand this expression but have an engaging "conversation" with your painting.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


I redid the painting from the last post on traditional watercolor paper and I like it much better. I am actually using white and black pigment from the Dr. Martin's Hydrus liquid colors and I am pleased with the result. With GREY/TONE/SHADE, the tone parts look bright as long as I don't lower their intensity too much. I am a big believer in doing a painting a second or even third time until I get it right. Trying to rework watercolor just creates more problems than it fixes for me. I prefer a total do-over.

The second painting was my Split Compliment of Red/Blue Green and Yellow Green using the 3 forms of WHITE/HUE/TONE. I fudged a little with the hues because I wanted to try the Daniel Smith Watercolor Stix on this new paper I have. The colors I used were Quin Coral for the Red, Sap Green for the yellow green and Thalo Green, blue shade for the Blue Green. That's close enough. I actually like this one. It's pretty bizarre but fun. A little like a Baboon's bottom! The watercolor stixs actually worked much better on this paper than the tube paints I tried earlier. That means I shall take this paper with me for travel sketches in color. The stixs are good items for travel. I just touched a wet brush to them and painted directly on the paper.

The third painting used another Split Compliment combination of Yellow Orange with Blue and Violet. Faber Birren thinks that Split Compliments work best when there are two Tertiary colors and only one primary or secondary color. This one has only one Tertiary (yellow orange) but I am pleased with the results. The 3 color forms were TINT/TONE/SHADE.

I didn't get the last of the four paintings done today but it is nice to have something planned for the next day. It makes getting started so much easier. Tomorrow's painting will be with analogous colors. That should have a totally new look for Monsieur.

Monday, August 3, 2009


I received a nice e-mail from Peggy Stermer-Cox and thought I would share it. She posed the following question:
"I've been thinking about asking you a question. How do you maintain your drawing skills? Would that be an entry you'd care to post? It seems to me your drawing skills are strong and an essential part of your successful work. Again, thanks! Peggy"
The answer is "practice, practice, practice". I'm sure we all have noticed how we get rusty when we don't use any skill we have acquired. I do love to draw, so it is easy to keep it up because it is pleasurable. It is the things we need to do but don't enjoy doing that are hard to maintain.

Yesterday I took an ART HOLIDAY with my good friend Andrea and we took the subway into San Francisco, had lunch and then went to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Okay, so we detoured a little into a few shops along the way. It was Free Tuesday at the Museum! I didn't even know they had "free Tuesday" but a welcome surprise. The Georgia O'Keefe/Ansel Adams special exhibit was extra but that was why we came. We couldn't get into that part of the museum until 3 PM so we spent some time in the gift shop....a most dangerous place for me....and then we went up to the top to see the new sculpture garden. The top floor had some very unusual pieces. One was what appeared to be two photographs cut into strips and then plaited together like an Ikat weaving. I loved the idea, did a fast sketch with notes and took some photos. I am definitely going to do a piece in this manner put with watercolor paintings or drawings, not photographs.

The Georgia O'Keefe exhibit turned out to be so much more interesting to me since I have been reading and studying about color. I was able to analyze how she used color and break it down into the Faber Birren concepts. Her use of intensity, gradation, shape, et al was so exciting to discover with new eyes on my part. Now I have to get a book out of the library and really study at length. No photographs were allowed in this exhibit. In fact, no pens! I was sketching and the guard handed me a pencil. It's printed for all the world to read on the back of the ticket that no pens are allowed. Don't know how I missed that.

I am in the final stages of my color work. For fun and surprises I put all the variables on slips of paper and randomly pull them out and create a painting with those elements. I created 4 different value plans for this particular drawing. Then I pulled a slip with one of the Faber Birren variations. I added a slip from color variations. I did this 4 times and then matched each set to one of the value patterns. The one above was GREY/TONE/SHADE using Deep Rose Red, Gamboge and Viridian. The color choice was by writing all my paint tubes on separate slips of paper and pulling out 3 of them. I lucked out as this set wasn't too weird. I painted this on a new paper that I coated with gesso and textured slightly. One of the texturing elements created pin prick dots that look like measles on this guy. I think I will do this one over on regular watercolor paper.

The next painting is going to be a huge challenge to pull off because I have to work with the Split Compliment Red/Yellow Green and Blue Green. Sometimes you get very ugly paintings but sometimes you get some amazing results that would not have happened any other way. What you always get is a fun challenge.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


I have been re-reading Faber Birren's book from cover to cover in order to fully comprehend his ideas. He has a very formal way of expressing himself and often it is difficult to totally process the concepts. Putting words to visual expression is very tricky I am finding out. It turns out that Birren's contribution to color as it applies to painting was mostly in the area of figuring out how to express luminosity, iridescence and luster along with chromatic light effects and mist, etc. Much of this is strange to apply to a portrait but the attempt creates some very unusual results. I don't think you can really get an iridescent face but I decided to do something with the formula in today's painting. The general idea is to have the majority of the painting in the mid value range fairly neutral with TONES and then have small touches of TINTS. Instead of having the TINTS as part of the features, I decided to super-impose these squares on top of the image just for the fun of it. By masking off the areas for tints, I was able to paint more easily. I created the TONES by mixing complements. I have my palette arranged according to Stephen Quiller's recommendations for perfect compliments. It makes life so easy when it is established this way. All of his palette is pure hues so it works very smoothly with Faber Birren's 7 forms of color triangle. This color effect is all about INTENSITY of color and controlling the VALUE range. INTENSITY is the degree of purity of hue versus neutralizing or dulling it down. The confusion of intensity comes when you lighten the hue but don't dull it. Theoretically it maintains it full intensity but not full SATURATION which has to do with the pigment load, not the purity. I understand the concept. I just think there could be a better term to describe the situation. I like PURITY myself but the term INTENSITY is here to stay.

Art has it's own specific language and we have to be consistent in order to communicate these visual concepts. Many years ago when I was a freshman at Washington University in St. Louis in one of my first classes, the professor gave a talk. I remember thinking it sounded like English but I didn't understand a thing he said! I hadn't learned "art speak" yet. I'm still working on it!

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