Friday, February 26, 2010


After dinner dishes are done, I have been setting up my tabletop easel on the kitchen counter next to a small television and creating a painting while I watch the Olympics.  The house is warmer than the garage studio and the lighting is strong in the kitchen.  

This painting started out as a drawing with my coffee stirrer stick.  I decided to try and draw from a drawing rather than from the original source material.  The drawing looked way too much like a cartoon for me.  I started painting and then decided I needed to redraw the image.  I covered the painting with tissue paper with my heart pattern gessoed on the tissue.  I really like the pattern effect.  I was able to go back into the painting and do a better job of drawing.  This was a lot of fun. 

Thursday, February 25, 2010


Photo paper drawn with coffee stirrer using liquid watercolor and collaged paper cocktail napkins.  The surprise was the napkins were double ply and the second layer had like a ghost print.  A little busy but I like the overall combination of elements.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


When I find a new tool, I like to try it on as many different surfaces as I can think of.  This is Canon Inkjet Photo Paper Plus Glossy ll 13" x 19".  It is the only larger format photo paper that will successfully take watercolor that I know of.    The paper was acting very much like YUPO, lifting back to white.  Photo paper has a coating that YUPO doesn't, so there are some differences.  Don't ask, you will need to discover it for yourself.

I failed to give a credit for the music on my little demo video.  The musician was Tom Rigney and the piece is called "House of the Rising Sun".  Tom often performs locally and is very entertaining!  You can check out his website for more information.  He has lots of cd's to chose from.

Monday, February 22, 2010


I was able to make this video today while sitting at Gallery Concord.  The image is George James, the amazing artist and educator.  I was fortunate to be able to take one of his workshops on painting on YUPO and took lots of photographs of him while he was doing critiques.  This is not the best likeness or drawing but it does show some ideas of how to draw with an unorthodox instrument.  I used the coffee stirrer (which has turned black from all the ink).  Most of the coffee stirrers I have found are like the larger one I am holding with rounded edges.  Even cutting off the ends, it does not seem to be as responsive as the more flexible and thinner one.  

Since the video set up had the camera behind me, I decided not to talk and put music in to entertain everyone.  I hope you can see clearly.  You can click on the video and have it fill the screen for larger viewing.  

Saturday, February 20, 2010


I spent the day at the Gallery Concord drawing with large sheets of newsprint and India Ink. The slide show has the drawings in the order I drew them. The first two drawings I was using a Sharpie pen stuck in my large wooden compass (used in grade school with chalk on the board to draw arcs and circles) with the paper on the floor. The idea is to extend the drawing arm to take away some control and have a more interesting drawing. I was able to put the thin wooden coffee stick stirrer into a pen holder but couldn't affix the pen holder in the the wooden compass so just decided draw with just the pen holder and the stick. I thought about sharpening the square end to a point but I'm glad I didn't. Also, keeping the full length of the stick adds to the character of the line. I am amazed at the versatility of this simple little stick! The variety of line width and texture is fantastic! I am in love! Now, all I have to do is remember where I found this stick. The hunt is on.

I will be sitting at the Gallery Concord again tomorrow. I am going to attempt to make a little video drawing with this stick on newsprint.

Friday, February 19, 2010


In response to some of the comments and questions on my last post of creating a video demo, I thought I would share with you what I have learned so far.  The camera is an amazing!!!! little thing. I placed it under a dollar bill and next to my ipod for size comparison  I think there are a number of brands on the market, but the one I initially saw was the one Costco had.  I had a year end check from Costco - based on my credit card purchases with them - and I wanted to spend it on something other than groceries.  The devise is called a FLIP Video mino HD.  I have posted photos of the equipment.  This little video device takes high definition video and has a built in usb connection (I popped it out for the photo) where you just attach it to your computer for downloading.  The software is also built into the camera.  The camera has 60 minutes of recording on 4 GB of memory.  The battery is rechargable by plugging into the computer.  The whole thing is sealed so I don't know what happens when the batteries finally go dead.  Anyone out there know?  The other benefit is you can isolate a frame from the video and print it out as a single image.  This makes getting an action shot or a stealth shot fairly easy.  I haven't tested this aspect yet.  The cost for this device was $150 with a $30 instant rebate.  Even with California sales tax I got some change back from my check!  So, it feels like I got a free present from Costco.

The other piece of equipment that was very helpful is my Gorilla Pod tripod.  This is a flexible devise that is stable on any surface and can be positioned perfectly at any angle.  When I discovered this fabulous little gizmo, I had a heavier camera than the one I use now, so I bought the medium size Gorillapod.  This little Flip Camcorder can be easily supported on the small size one.  This larger one actually stands taller, so I find it useful for this setup.

I learned that it will be best to do short segments of video that can be stitched together by the software into one smooth seamless movie.  I haven't mastered the editing part yet.  As far as I can figure out, there is very little instruction information, so it is trial and error.

The hardest part is talking while videoing.  It feels kind of embarrassing talking to yourself and then hearing your voice  when you play it back.  That part will feel more comfortable with time and practice.

The software makes it easy to upload the finished movie to you-tube.  From there you can copy the html and drop it into a blog or website.  You can also send the video in an e-mail.

Any tips and tricks using this or a similar devise are more than welcome!

Thursday, February 18, 2010


I purchased a wonderful little mini camcorder today and this is my first effort! I am excited about the possibilities. It will take me some time to fully understand how to do everything. Please share any helpful hints and/or suggestions for improving the quality. Also what other demos you might want to see. I am thinking I could video each drawing I do for the Drawn to the Mirror project.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


I decided to do a second attempt at this image trying to get the words at the top to show up.  My idea to stamp gesso over the collaged crossword puzzles didn't act like I was hoping it would.  I still am looking for a way to incorporate words in a subtle way but readable.  Anyway, the face got away from me, so I covered it with tissue and then floated diluted gesso over the piece.  Unpleasant is a kind description.  Today I redrew the face and body and mixed acrylic glazing medium with my Hydrus liquid watercolors to counteract the pasty flat look.  I use gesso for my opaque white.  I think it came out okay even though very different than I had originally intended.  The beauty of the photo paper surface is lost.  It's all an experiment.

Monday, February 15, 2010


I was tired of looking at my own face, so I decided to do something fast and fun today.  I saw a gentleman working on a book of puzzles yesterday.  I stamped "It's a Puzzlement" in gesso onto a large sheet of photo paper, then collaged some crossword puzzle sheets with diluted mat medium.  Drawing with my Pentel brush pen in permanent ink, I sketched him in, then painted with my Hydrus liquid watercolors.  I was disappointed and surprised that the lettering at the top doesn't show up more.   I labeled this in the computer with quotation marks and discovered that I couldn't upload the image if the quotation marks were part of the name.  When I removed them, no problem.  I guess I learn something every day!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


I only had a few hours to work on the painting today.  It's frustrating when all the other "stuff" of one's life gets in the way of painting all day.  I think if I painted all day, every day, I wouldn't enjoy it so much, but I was wanting to paint longer.  It will probably be Monday before I can get any serious painting in again.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


I appreciated all the positive comments on this piece but I had to follow what my own internal voice was telling me.  Interestingly, I was listening to a book on tape while I was painting this and it was a very dark, suspenseful story by Daphne Du Maurier called "Jamaica Inn".  I think something of the mood of that story invaded this painting!  I will be more thoughtful in my choice of listening material depending on what mood I want to inject.   Anyway, I decided to scrub off as much of the paint as possible and then collage torn tissue paper over the top.  After that layer dried, I attached a turquoise brush pen to a long stick and redrew the image.  By having the pen extended far out this way, I had less control over the drawing and it made for a looser, more interesting line.  I am hoping to paint it in the same, loose style instead of tight and controlled.  

Last night I had the pleasure of being the guest demonstrator for the Livermore and Pleasanton art societies.  There was a nice crowd and a few familiar faces.  Lots of energy and good questions while I worked.  I need to complete the painting, hopefully tomorrow, and then I will post the results.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


I think this painting is finished.  At least I am finished messing with it.  I was surprised I was able to make some major changes, repositioning the eye on the left significantly.  Gesso is magic stuff!  I have posted the finished painting along with the previously published start to show the difference.  I struggled with the eyes on this one.  I don't think they are perfect but are close enough,  I was able to shorten the nose and change the mouth so that all the features seem to work together in a natural way. I also had to enlarge  the dangling hand and lengthen the finger on the supporting hand.  

I do like how the patterned paper comes through in different areas.  I attempted to have a looser feel to the painting by leaving some of the drips.  Overall, I like this painting.  I was ready to cover it up and totally start over, but the encouragement from many of the comments helped me to work through the problems.  I want the next one to be in a much looser style.  I have it planned in my mind's eye.  It will be fun to see how close I get to my intention.

Friday, February 5, 2010


I spent the day getting framing supplies and putting together 4 paintings for an exhibition.  I worked on this painting yesterday plus finished my taxes !!!  It always feels so great to have that behind me. 

On another note, I will be doing a demonstration Monday night for the Livermore Art Association and the Pleasanton Art League at their joint meeting at the Almond Ave. School in Livermore.  The meeting starts at 7:30.  Come and join us if you are in the area.  

Now, back to the painting.  Some good things are happening.  I like the color and how the collage papers are working with the image.  I like painting with the watercolor sticks on top of the tissue paper.  The eyes are better than how I originally drew them.  Problems....lots!  Not a good likeness but that isn't that critical.  There is still something wrong with the eyes, the nose is too big.  The real problem is that I cannot draw spontaneously in this large scale with the kind of accuracy I personally require of myself if I am going to paint so realistically.  So, I need to draw the image  on tracing paper and transfer it after I have it correct...OR... I need to draw in a very loose style and paint it in a compatible manner.
I have a difficult time continuing to work on a painting that I don't like.  I will see if I can make some additional corrections.  If not, I will start over.  I think I need a very large roll of cheap paper to do lots of practice drawings on this large scale.  A fun challenge to master!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


I'm not sure how this one will turn out.  Right now it is a bit saccharine, but it is not nearly finished.  I really missed the correct placement of the eyes and the pen is permanent.  There seems to be a challenge at every turn.  Gesso and repainting should work. If not, then I can work with acrylic for stronger coverage. I have this idea to have the larger hearts bleeding.  I'm so impatient, trying it out in the upper left corner.   I may change my mind after I see how the rest of the painting develops.  

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


This is the demo I did from the last workshop when we were working on children.  I chose Jacob because he is my cousin's new grandchild.  This beautiful child was adopted from Ethiopia.  I will be able to meet him in person in March.  In the meantime, this will be the baby gift for his parents.  Jacob looks like he is full of joy and personality.  I hope I did him justice.

In the meantime, I have taken all the thoughtful comments on my last post to heart.  I will set the painting aside for awhile.  I'm not sure what I will do with it.  I appreciate everyone sharing their perspective.  Ultimately, it is always the artist that must make the decisions.  It is helpful for me to know what others see in the image I have created.  I did work on creating some new collage papers today for the next painting.  I made some new stamps and a stencil then used them with gesso on white tissue paper.  Tomorrow I will collage them down and get started painting again.

In the middle of everything, I started working on my taxes.  I should have everything together by the end of the week.  Nothing will make me happier.  Then I don't have to think about it for another year!

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