Monday, September 28, 2009

PAGE 29!!!!

My complimentary copy of "STROKES OF GENIUS 2" arrived today and my contribution is on page 29. I immediately sat down and spent a few hours checking out all the images. The book is beautiful with so many different styles and techniques. I need to go back and write down some of the ideas that intrigued me. A simple graphite pencil and paper can produce exquisite results. There were lots of different surfaces and unusual combinations of materials. I am often interested in the materials and techniques even if I am not interested in working in the same style as the artist.

I am excited and inspired! Now, all I have to do is find lots more time.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


I took a few days off and traveled up the California Coast, crossed over into Oregon and met some life-long friends now living in Portland (I'm talking high school here!) in a beautiful little coastal town called Gold Beach. It is right where the Rogue River meets the Pacific Ocean. It looked like Fisherman heaven! The weather was beautiful and we had a great time. We took a jet boat ride one day up the Rogue River. Spotted some Bald Eagles, blue herons, egrets, and many more birds.

It's a long drive up and equally long back, but we decided to take the scenic route home. There is a parallel road through the Red Woods for about 45 miles, so we got off 101 and took the slower path. This was originally a stagecoach road. There are small little hamlets nestled there in the woods. Here are two of the interesting carvings made from a Red Wood log. Lots of wood sculptures along the route. Now where does one put a giant Indian Head sculpture? It looked like it would have been out of place in the back yard, so we passed on the opportunity to buy.

I packed up my supplies for the Minneapolis workshop coming up. I don't know if I will have a chance to do any art for the coming week, but I will be working on something. I am looking forward to the reception for the San Diego Watercolor Society National Show next Friday Night. Another long drive, but it is worth it.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Here is the final result of the painting I started the other day. The GAC 200 worked beautifully. I used Golden Liquid Acrylics diluted a little with water and then full strength in subsequent layers. I purchased the GAC 200 at an art supply store that carries all the Golden Acrylic products. It helped hold the acrylic to the foil. The fun part was brushing alcohol on the painting and rubbing some of the acrylic away, then glazing over. I also sprayed some on the background and the hair. I had a strong urge to add some of the oil pastels on top but decided to save that for my next painting. I also think I want to crumple the foil a bit before gluing it down. I got a little carried away with the neck. I wish I had brought the shoulders up higher. I have been reading a book on Modigliani and you can really see the influence.

Friday, September 18, 2009


I have been busy preparing for my workshop in Minneapolis in a few weeks, holding the first session of a new Critique Group which will meet monthly, taking care of office stuff and today I had to do some holiday cooking. My baking skills have hit rock bottom. I made a box cake that turned out positively dreadful. Dump the powder into a bowl, add eggs and water, beat the living daylights out of it for 4 minutes, pour in greased pan and bake. How hard is that? Apparently, harder than I thought.
I couldn't stand being away from art making, so in between these boring chores, I decided to start a new painting. I wanted to explore painting on aluminum foil a little more. This is the first stage. I cut a piece of foil larger than the old painting I am going to cover over. Then, spread heavy acrylic gel over the painting and place the foil on top. I took a dull pencil and drew my image into the foil making sure not to tear it. Then I took a few rubber stamps and textured the background and the hair. I overlapped the patterns a little for interest. The acrylic gel creates a cushion so you can incise a line or pattern in the foil. Then I spread some GAC200 over the foil. It dries clear. I squirted some over the image and then used a foam roller to even it out and spread it around. This particular acrylic product is used for better adhesion of acrylic to a non porous surface. I haven't used this before so it will be interesting to see how this works.

This is the best I could photograph this stage of the painting process. The color is just reflections from surrounding objects and me standing in front of it taking the photo. Reflective surfaces require more technical knowledge and equipment than I possess. I am including a few details so you can see the idea. If you have never included foil in a painting, give it a try. The effect is exciting. Mary Todd Beam has a few techniques in her first book "Your Creative Self" and Creative Catalyst Productions has a DVD by Jacqueline Sullivan called Acrylics: Textures, Layers and Metallics.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


Today I decided to photograph my gesso transfer process for the new book. While I was covering up old, ugly paintings with white gesso, I decided to try an idea I had from the Brommer workshop. I covered another painting with red gesso with the intention to proceed with a collage on top. I think I need to re-photograph the transfer process because the photos are at awkward angles. I guess I need to put things on the floor and shoot down or stand on a ladder and shoot down.

There is something so liberating about resurrecting a piece of good paper with a bad painting on it from the scrap heap and turning it into a painting I like. By the time I finished, I'm not sure the red base influenced anything, but I had a great time working on it. I kept remembering Jerry Brommer's words of keep layering until you like what happens. There are a number of layers in play here. I also finally played around with a new product that was given to me as a gift by Kathy McChesney when I was teaching in Solano Beach. These water soluble oil pastels are called Portfolio (found in Michael's) and made by the people who bring us Crayola. It is a student grade product but WHAT FUN! Kathy does the most amazing paintings with them. I never figured out how to combine them with what I was doing until today.

I went to the website at and found some wonderful student work, and interesting projects by art teachers. One project, (under acrylic), was wooden chairs painted in the style of a famous artist. The kids did amazing work. Makes me want to create an entire set for myself. If you are looking for a dynamite way to create something exciting on a budget, check it out. Oh well, must stay on task Kudos to the talented kids and their dedicated, inspirational art teachers.

Friday, September 11, 2009


Today was a day to work at my desk, working on plans for a new critique group I am going to lead once a month. The first session starts next week. I am excited about the potential for growth for all the participants, including myself! What ever I teach, I put myself through the same process, in preparation. It helps me by building in some discipline and structure when I am only accountable to myself. Somehow we let ourselves down when we would never break our word to a friend or even a stranger.

That's why making a public commitment on the internet is so powerful. We will embarrass ourselves if we don't follow through with a project we want to do. Otherwise, it becomes like a New Year's Day resolution. You know what happens to those!

Okay, day two and I am still on track with my public commitment to work on silhouettes of action figures. Two days isn't so impressive, but every day I stay on target, I will get better and better at the task. I changed colors as I use up the paint in my old palette. I like the blue ink contour line on top. I am using a #10 Kolinsky sable brush with an excellent tip and I stand as I paint. By standing, my arm has more movement and I can manipulate the brush better. That semester of Chinese Brush Painting in college helped me gain control of my arm and hand without having to brace it against something. I personally find the process of painting more enjoyable if I am standing. More physical, like a dance, and less tedious. If you want to loosen up, try standing up!

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Click on the title and you will go directly to Donna Zagotta's blog. She created a great challenge for herself and invited all of us to join in. The idea is to do full figures using only a brush and paint, creating a silouette. She is committed to doing 1,000 drawings. I am committing to doing at least 10 a day indefinitely. I started out using an old phone book and old paint in a palette I wanted to clean out. This is a great way to use up paint. I filled in about 25 pages of the phone book and then remembered that I have this watercolor paper that is too thin for finished paintings. The long format is great for a series of figures. After I filled the page, I decided to go back in and do a contour line drawing on top. The images are from a GAP ad filled with small figures in very enthusiastic poses. Lots of fun for this project.

Doing these figures is a great way to improve your figures skills and a wonderful warm up to get in the mood for painting for the day. Hope you join in the fun.

Monday, September 7, 2009


The new wing of the famous Chicago Art Institute is where the contemporary collection is found. They call this new building "The Modern". In the past few years, I have been so privileged to spend time in some the the most famous museums in the world. The Chicago Art Institute is in that rarefied arena. It is always exciting to see paintings come to life off the pages of books I have looked at most of my life. There were two paintings that I found so much more vibrant and exciting than any printed page. One was a self portrait by Van Gogh. The gorgeous red color of his beard just glowed. There were quite a few of his other paintings, all wonderful, many very very famous. Their entire Impressionist collection is fantastic. 5 or 6 of Monet's Haystacks. The other favorite of mine turned out to be a Toulouse-Lautrec painting, very famous, with the head of a blond woman in the dance hall in extreme theatrical light painted the most exquisite color of turquoise. The beauty of that color never shows in a reproduction.

"American Gothic" by Grant Wood the "The Night Hawks" by Edward Hopper are perhaps their most famous acquisitions. To see the detail, brush strokes, edges et al up close and personal was special.

The other paintings I photographed were examples of paintings where the element of LINE dominated. I have been focused on this element lately and these paintings give me some ideas for expressing The Frenchman with LINE.
I loved the painting of the man with the beard. All the shapes were triangles! Very ingenious. There were small areas of circular shapes as a counter point to the triangles. We were being guided by a friend who was moving quickly through the galleries, so I didn't get the artist's name. I shall have to do some research and find out who he is and find more of his work.

A very special and big museum. I want to be able to return many times and see it all.

Sunday, September 6, 2009


I'm visiting my sister and brother-in-law in Eastern Iowa, not too far from Chicago. So we took the train into the big city for the day. We were treated to a tour of the new modern wing of the Chicago Art Institute by a friend who has a Master's in Art History and is a docent. This new wing has only been open since May. I will post some of the famous works in this museum tomorrow. First I wanted to share some of the exciting outdoor art that is part of Millennium Park. Here I am photographing myself reflected in "The Bean" I couldn't figure out how to position the camera so I showed up in the shot without the camera up to my face. I need to practice taking pictures holding the camera low.

There are two fountains facing each other with a shallow basin that catches the water. These fountains are tall rectangular structures with a photograph of a face on the front. The face blinks from time to time, smiles sometimes and eventually purses the lips and a stream of water gushes forth! What fun!!! The kids playing in the fountain were having a ball. After the spouting of water, a different face appears on the rectangle and the process starts all over again. Chicago is full of wonderful outdoor sculpture but this one is the most fun, except, of course, for "The Bean" which everyone had fun creating interesting optical illusions on its reflective, convex and concave surface.

Thursday, September 3, 2009


I have created two slides shows from photos I took in Ransom Canyon, Texas. Local residents may be upset as they have this secret little private beauty spot hidden away, mostly unknown by the rest of the world. Once word gets out, they may be inundated with strangers wanting to have a little piece of heaven all their own, too.

This second slide show is of a very special house built by an architect who wanted to live inside a sculpture! It is totally unique and intriguing. It is my understanding that he built it himself out of welded sheets of rusted metal. Sadly, he passed away last year in the prime of his life and the house is unfinished on the inside and not really landscaped on the outside. Still, an amazing accomplishment. I wish I was able to get inside, but we peered through the front door and I did my best to take a few pictures. He also designed a house situated across the road from his. This house has mosaic tile on its spiraling roof. Reminded me of the wonders in Barcelona by Gaudi.

I will be visiting my sister over the holiday weekend. A day in Chicago on Saturday will be especially fun. Hopefully I will come back with some interesting photos. A wish for all of you to have a happy and safe holiday weekend, too.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Here are the paintings done on days 4 and 5. Not as much time for preparation but everyone worked hard and there were some major breakthroughs! Having done a demonstration of a profile on Tyvek, many of the workshop participants decided to try this new surface with some excellent results.

Tomorrow I will post some of the scenery in this beautiful canyon. Yes, Dorothy, you are still in Texas but it just doesn't look like it!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Here are the profile demo and children's portrait demo I did last week. The profile is of my daughter-in-law. For some reason, the photo I took of the painting had the color way off. I did my best to adjust it in the computer but it isn't right. The painting does have that beautiful sunset late afternoon glow in the hair and the face in shadow. This one is on Tyvek. Eve-Marie always comes out doll like when I paint her. Maybe she is too pretty with even features. I should do her again. Demo's don't allow for a lot of fussing and correction.

The child portrait is my oldest son when he was about 8. The kids were playing pirate and my husband took a beautiful photo of him. This painting is on 140lb cold press Arches watercolor paper. I like to paint on this surface now and again to prove to myself that I still can!

Tomorrow I will put up another slide show of the last student paintings from the workshop.

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