Saturday, December 31, 2011


Hard to believe, but this is the last day of 2011.  Towards the end of the year, I start thinking about what I want to focus on for the coming year.  Keeping my attention on a few things and exploring them in depth helps me to be more creative and expand my expertise in these areas so that they become ingrained in my thinking and working without conscious thought.  I think of it as directed growth.  One of my focused ideas for 2012 is to have every painting contain an 80/20 ratio of contrasts.  When I look at art work, the ones that capture my attention the most are the ones with the greatest contrast.  To achieve this will require considerable conscious thought and planning on my part and seems like an exciting challenge.  I also plan to work with one image all year and see how many variations I can come up with.   This doesn't mean that it is the only image I will work with for the year but it will be the dominant one.  The last idea that I wish to explore in detail for the year is the integration of a complex and interesting background with the figure/head.  In traditional portraiture, the background is usually just supportive of the head and figure and non-descript.  I want to try some non-traditional ideas.

The last project I have for this year (today!) is to create a book of my work for the past year.  I think this is a great way to have a record of each year and is fairly simple to do with all the wonderful technology available on the internet.  I am going to use Blurb but there are a number of places that you can create these self published books.

Today I wrote out my goals for the coming year on a piece of paper.  I will put it away and check it next Dec. 31st.  A goal is only a dream if it is not written down.  Some of these goals require that I create a strategy to make them happen.  Some of them require that I only show up each day and work.  It is amazing to see at the end of the year how many things came to realization because I just showed up and did my part leaving the Universe to do it's part.

I am excited for the new year to begin!  I will be taking a new workshop from Gerald Brommer using tons and tons of 3-d collage materials, slathering it with gesso and then painting with watercolor or acrylic!  Then, I am taking Mike Bailey's Watercolor Beyond the Obvious class for the 4th time.  Some people have taken it as many as 12 times (I think that is the record).  People sometimes ask me why I am in a workshop when I teach them myself.  I hope I never get to the place where I can't be learning something new.  I love being the teacher and sharing what I know and I love being the student and learning from others, both the instructor and my fellow students.  I also learn new ideas for presenting my material in my workshops by observing different instructors.

In closing, I would like to share with you a quote from Edward Betts which expresses my concept of the kind of art I wish to make.  I am going to make a beautiful sign for my studio so I can be inspired by it each day.

"There is an obligation to go beyond craftsmanship, to push the medium beyond descriptive imitation toward the transformation of nature into solely pictorial terms, to form images that have urgency and communicative power and in which poetry or geometry is of more concern than an unimaginative list of visual facts."

Thank you to all the wonderful people who have followed my blog this year and been so generous with your support of my work and efforts.  May you all have a healthy, happy and creative year full of joy in
the making of art!

Friday, December 23, 2011


Jennifer Lawson holding our mutual portrait sketches
Jennifer's sketch of Me
My sketch of Jennifer
Wednesday I had the wonderful opportunity to get together with a friend I met through the internet.  It's like cyber pen pals!  Jennifer Lawson is an awesome woman in every way.  Not only is she an extremely talented artist but a world class athlete and adventurer!  With art in common, we spent a few hours visiting and looking at each other's sketchbooks and sketching materials, sharing our mutual admiration of various artists we found on the net and drawing a portrait of each other while sitting in the sunshine at the Cafe in the Cantor Museum on the Stanford University campus.  We gifted each other with the sketch.  What a special present of friendship with and through art.
Jennifer plans to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro in a few weeks!!!  I will be cheering her on and looking forward to hearing about this amazing adventure.  I forgot to ask her if she plans to do any sketching along the way.  If so, they will be something to look forward to.

Friday, December 16, 2011


I had a call today informing me this painting has been accepted into the Western Federation Watercolor Society exhibition!  I was very pleased because it's one of my favorite paintings.  I was hoping to go to the opening of the show in April but it is a few days before my teaching at Kanuga.  Too bad as Las Vegas is a great town to visit!

I have been hearing reports that the January issue of Watercolor Artist is out but I haven't seen it yet.  The bookstore told me it should arrive by the 19th at the latest.  The painting from the CWA national show is in this issue along with the other 2011 winners from shows around the country.  The staff at Watercolor Artist asked me to write the Creativity Corner article for the April issue of the magazine.  I was honored to  be considered.  The creative challenge for me was in keeping to the 450 word text limit.  The staff at the magazine has been great to work with.   It will be fun to see what paintings the readers come up with after reading the article.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


I was fascinated with the art of a British artist who calls himself Fabric Lenny.  You can find him on the web.  I tried to analyze what he was doing.  I loved how his figures fit together like puzzle pieces, his use of line and color and pattern.  The first drawing I tried to fill in the spaces with variations of my original drawing.  The second drawing, I created an uneven grid and then fit the images into the different rectangles.  Playing around with the shape of the sunglasses was lots of fun.  Not exactly Fabric Lenny but I had a great time.  I'm not so sure my son appreciated the effort!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


Overall I am pleased with this sketch.  The head on the left needs to be bigger as it is closer than the second head.  I also need to move them a little further apart.  I did some other drawings but will post them tomorrow.  

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Here is the first sketch with the family members in place in the composition.  I am not totally  happy with the scale or the individual likenesses but it gives me a fair idea of how this will play out.  I am going to see how changing the sharp focus from one face to another will work.

Monday, December 5, 2011


This is a graphite sketch I did today which will be my composition for a new series.  I am going to replace the faces with my husband and three sons.  I am excited about this idea.  I need to photograph my youngest son in profile and full view and then I think I will have all the necessary reference material.  I love how the faces in in different focus.  I can play around with this idea and change which face is in sharp focus.  I can also work with different value patterns and that is just the beginning!

I had a real computer scare while I was sorting through all the photos on my computer and the auxiliary hard drive which has lots of older photos.  Somehow, the older version of iPhoto which is on the auxiliary hard drive replaced my iPhoto on my MacBook.  It seemed my currant photo library had vanished!!!  I have the "time machine" back up system so I was able to recapture the newer photos and just tonight accidentally figured out how to re establish it properly on my computer.  At this moment, all is back in order and I can breathe a sigh of relief.  It is times like these that I realize too much of my life is tied up in one mechanical device.  I need to make multiple copies of important work ....starting tomorrow!

To follow up with a few other posts awhile back, here is the painting of Amber, framed and hanging on the wall at my son's house.  Since they would never tell me if they didn't like the paintings I do for them, I have figured out that the faster they want to hang them is the true test.  This one went up in record time .
Jan Werdin was kind enough to send me her version of a Tyvek Wallet after watching the video I made.  I love that she added her own ideas and included some velcro to keep the wallet closed tighter.  You can see additional wallets she made on her blog at

Lastly, I was horrified to discover that there were seventeen comments from many of you that had not been published!!!  I don't know how this happened as I thought I had done so.  A HUGE APOLOGY to everyone who took the time to send me a comment and felt ignored.  I appreciate each and every remark that I receive and would never purposely ignore any of them.  I will be checking that page more frequently to catch any errors on my part.

Monday, November 21, 2011


Here is the finished painting.  I am pleased with the results but I am not sure that it is a great likeness.  I think the cropping works.  I haven't actually cut the paper but this is how it will look under the mat that I have.   J and E-M will have the final say and then I will have it framed for them.

Saturday, November 19, 2011


My youngest son always loved animals.  So when his beloved dog, Amber, died unexpectedly last week, he was devastated. Amber was a very sweet, even tempered dog.  My daughter in law often took her to hospitals and senior centers to cheer up those who were in need of some love and attention.   I decided to paint a tribute to Amber to give to my son and his wife.  I have taken a number of photos of her over the years but the only painting I ever did was of the 3 of them and Amber looked so bad I had to scrub her out and start over.  I am not very familiar with animal physiology as I am the human figure, so it makes things a little more difficult.  Photographing a painting and putting it on the computer to study is very helpful.  Although the tail looks like this in the photo, it doesn't look right to me in the painting.  I poured over photos of  Labs and Lab and Beagle mix dogs trying to find a similar pose with the tail in a different position.  It seems like laying down with her legs crossed in front is a gesture unique to Amber!  I didn't find one photo with that pose.   Right now I am thinking I will crop the image at the top and perhaps move the tail to the left side by the hind leg.  I also need to align the hind leg with the back quarters a little better.  A few more hours and the painting should be done.  Then I think I will do one of just her head.   

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Here are some sketches I did from a life model last week.  I was trying out different materials.  I think my favorite continues to be the Pentel Brush Pen.  

Friday, November 11, 2011


I am so excited!  I finally was able to upload my first iPad2 video to YouTube.  I had to break it down into segments, so here is the first part.  For some reason it may not play on my blog but click on watch on YouTube and you can see it.

Here is the second part which shows the supplies you will need.

This segment shows my method of painting the envelope.  The last segment, Part 4, shows how to fold,  cut and tape the envelope to create a wallet!!

If you make your own, be sure and send me a photo so I can share it on my blog.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


I take what feels like thousands of photos when I travel and then they sit in my computer.  I am going to make a genuine effort to work with these images until my next trip.  Here are two I did today.  I am pleased that my sense of perspective is getting better.  Faces are easy for me but buildings and architecture is a difficult challenge.  Now to tackle the more complex architecture of the cities Bruges, Brussels and Amsterdam.  

I was excited to receive my advanced copy of STROKES OF GENIUS 3 by North Light Books.  The book is beautiful and full of amazing drawings to inspire us all.  I have one of the few color pieces and you can find it on page 34.  

Monday, November 7, 2011


I received this wonderful postcard image from Jenna Erickson, Director of Programs for the Madeline Island School of the Arts.  I am very excited to be invited to teach a workshop at their unique location.  This is a fairly new art venue and it looks spectacular! This is will be a wonderful summer retreat.  If you are looking for a special place to relax and learn this summer, check it out.  I hope to meet you there.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


This is a piece I have been working on all day.  After creating a stylized drawing I copied it onto tracing paper and then transferred the drawing to this cradle board.   I then glued down, with YES Glue, various heavy textured papers.  Then I coated the surface with rather thin gesso.  When that dried, I added some gesso patterned tissue over everything and waited for it to dry.  Then I started painting with watercolors.  I decided to use one of my favorite palettes...the Rembrandt muted one.  This was fun. I think I will do another one tomorrow.

Monday, October 31, 2011


Thanks to Nancy Standlee, who discovered a new source for creating slide shows, I can finally show you the wonderful sculpture exhibit I had the pleasure of seeing during my week in Belgium this summer.  I originally spent hours making a slide show with but could never get it to show up in the blog.  In the meantime, is shutting down.  I have no idea what will happen with the past slide shows I have created.  The new website is by   I am very pleased how quickly everything loaded and the ease of putting the show together.  I am so happy to have a new source for slide shows.

This past week I created a video on how to make the Tyvek wallets with my new iPad 2.  I managed to get by that learning curve, then had to figure out the editing program iMovie for iPad 2.  With a little help from the Genius Bar, I got that figured out, but then.....I can't seem to upload it to YouTube or Facebook or anyplace I can then transfer to the blog!!!!!!  In the meantime, it appears that my MacBook isn't capable of upgrading to the latest operating system which I need to sync with the iPad 2.   Between the learning and the funding, this modern technological age has a very dark side!

I hope to have the video available SOON.  Till then, enjoy the slide show.

Monday, October 24, 2011



Gallery Concord sets up a table for the holidays with various hand crafted items made by some of the Gallery Artists.  This year I thought it would be fun to make some Tyvek Wallets (from a single tyvek envelope).  It is a little time consuming but a fun way to try out all those metallic acrylic paints I am so found of buying, along with some irridescent and traditional colors.  Not to mention all the stencil patterns I can't resist.  I bought some metallic pens to accent some of the patterns.  If they don't sell, I am set with gifts for everyone on my list!  

Tonight I tried out my Pages program on the Mac to design a card to go with the wallet.  Thank goodness I have a live-in expert who can coach me through the technical parts.  It is an amazing world we live in but it seems like a never ending learning curve for everything from using a phone to driving a car (think Prius) after driving for over 50 years!  Sometimes I long for old fashioned simplicity!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Three friends have rented studio space together in a former school.  They started model sessions once a month and yesterday was the second session.  It is fun to draw with friends.  This is one of my favorite drawings of the day because it is minimal in line but captures the gesture of the pose and the proportions of the model.  I have posted the rest of the drawings on my other blog "Drawn from limb to limb" because that is the focus of the blog....drawings from life, not photos.  Check it out!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Entrance to Kemper Museum...Louise Bourgeois' "Spider"

Lawn Sculpture Kemper Museum "The Thinker"
This was the first time I have been to the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art.  If you are familiar with Kansas City, it is right off the Plaza tucked in behind a major hotel.  The Kansas City Art Institute is right across the street and the Nelson Gallery of Art is around the corner.  When I was a little girl we used to go to the Wishbone Restaurant....that's right, home of the famous salad dressing...and I think it was on the site where this Kemper Museum now sits.  Originally, this was a neighborhood of elegant mansions.  There are still some left in the area.  The administration building of the Art Institute was a mansion and the Wishbone Restaurant was in another.  The Nelson Gallery was the original home of William Rockhill Nelson, founder of The Kansas City Star.  

Enough history!  The Kemper Museum covered the walls of their cafe with canvases...quick copies of famous paintings.  I am posting a detail so you can see how they put it together with a metal framework between the paintings.  I think this is a fabulous idea for artists to create in their own homes.  I could use more wall space and this is a great solution!  It reminds me a little of a painting quilt!

Detail of wall

The next image is a triptych by David Bates.  Each painting is quite large and the three together   make a powerful statement.  These are images of people from New Orleans after the devastation of hurricane Katrina.  There was a major exhibition of his paintings on this theme and the museum purchased these 3.  I purchased the book and will have an opportunity to read more about it.  I love his style and I am particularly interested in how he put so many images in the same painting so compactly to great effect.  I am definitely adding David Bates to my favorites list.

David Bates Triptych "The Storm" Katrina painting 60" x 250"

Monday, October 17, 2011



The next exercise in the One Drawing A Day book suggests using Bamboo pens.  I have two different sizes, one being quite large, but the ink line isn't nice and wide like the example in the book.  In fact, the two pens produce a rather similar line.  I don't know what I am doing differently, but I prefer drawing with a flat thin wooden coffee stirrer as I can get a wonderful variety of line with that simple tool.  It is actually much more portable for on site sketching, too!  The first drawing today started with the bamboo pens and then I switched to the coffee stick.  The second drawing I added the wash.  I kept playing with the materials.  The first two images are of a gentleman that sat in Rembrandt's studio in his house in Amsterdam, keeping an eye on the place.  I actually asked his permission to take his photo.  A very handsome man!  The last image is of my husband....who also made a surprise appearance on Gary Everest's blog over the weekend!!!  Check it out!

I was in Kansas City for the weekend.  Almost all of our time was spent with family but I talked my husband into taking me to the Kemper contemporary gallery.   It is small but very attractive and had some wonderful work on display.  I will post images tomorrow.  My biggest disappointment was the Dean Mitchell painting "Release" wasn't on display although it is owned by the museum.  It is one of my very favorite paintings by this amazing artist and I was anticipating seeing it in person.  Oh well, maybe next time!  They have a large collection and a limited exhibition space.  

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


The second assignment in the book One Drawing a Day by Victoria Lawlor was to draw with different dip pen nibs.  All these drawings are supposed to be from life, not photographs, so I looked around and thought this basket made from dried kelp, would be interesting.   After I completed the drawing, I decided to photograph the basket to see how I did.  I felt compelled to add the ink wash.  I guess I can't totally follow directions but I came close.  I so like the variety of line.  This idea has real potential for future work.

Monday, October 10, 2011




We had a great time up in Mendocino County this past weekend.  The great people in Gualala were warm and welcoming.  If you have a chance to see the portrait show at the Gualala Art Center, don't miss it.  Great work with so much variety from drawings to photography, sculpture and painting in acrylic, oils, al.  

We drove to Mendocino on Friday and I found a wonderful book store there.  Often, great finds are in the smaller independent bookstores.  Buying on line may save money but it is important to keep brick and mortar stores in business.  Having been an entrepreneur all my life, I like to support small independent business owners.   Two new books on drawing now grace my burgeoning book shelves.  One drawing a Day by Veronica Lawlor inspired me to do the above drawings.  Veronica is part of one of my favorite blogs....Urban Sketchers.  I find her style very exciting, so I couldn't pass up this book!  The first assignment was to draw a still life or some section of your environment.  I have a greenhouse window in my kitchen, so I focused on that.  I was so anxious to try out my bamboo pens that I didn't focus on the details of the assignment (use a razor point pen and a continuous line)  I decided to do a second drawing following directions and then started a 3rd drawing.  Don't you just love the soft sculpture "Eve" that my sister bought for me!  She's lots of fun to draw, too.

I have just started to read the second book.  I will discuss it when I have digested more of the concepts. Till then, it shall remain a mystery!

Friday, October 7, 2011



I haven't done much painting this past month.  I have been focusing on framing.  I glued three watercolor paintings onto gallery canvas, using hand made collage paper to decorate the edge.  I failed to photograph the final result before taking it to be hung on the walls of a very elegant restaurant.  I was struggling with getting a perfect contact between the two surfaces.  I have concluded that 300 lb watercolor paper gives the best results.  

Anyway, today I had time to do a few paintings in my travel journal.  The stripped shirt adds a lot to the feel of the painting.  I will give more thought in the future to how I will "dress" my subjects.  You can always add a pattern to any garment.  I plan to fill the entire book with paintings based on my recent travel photos.



This is another painting from a photo I took in Amsterdam.  It was fun playing with stripes.  I decided to create some counter stripes in the background.  I have a number of different photos of this rugged guy.  I think I will do several more and see how I can improve on this study.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Google has a service that will track what ever you want.  I have them track my name and the name of my blog.  Imagine my surprise today when I discovered my portrait posted on the talented Gary Everest's blog.  Gary is one of those wonderful people that you create a friendship with via the internet.  Every once in awhile I have the joy of getting to meet someone in person.  I had the pleasure of meeting Gary when I was in Portland and we had a nice visit.  He took a few photos.  Gary does unique  self portraits that are very compelling.  He also paints portraits of others of his choosing.  I am so honored to be selected as a subject and he achieved an excellent likeness. Although I would never paint a self portrait with this expression, it perfectly reflects the comments Gary made about me.  I am humbled that he holds me in such high regard.  When a good portrait artist chooses their subject, their feelings for that person comes through unconsciously, and shows in the final painting, both good and bad.     

I am going to return the favor one of these days, but like Gary, I am going to catch him off guard and make it a big surprise.  Announcing this beforehand kind of makes it a bigger challenge to pull off a surprise, but stay tuned....

Gary didn't know this, but I am going up to Gualala, Ca. tomorrow to judge a portrait competition and will be giving an informal talk Thursday night at the Art Center on contemporary portraiture.  This coincidence of finding a portrait of myself today,  gives me more insight on the effect of the portrait on the subject.  Thanks, Gary!  If you are in the vicinity of Gualala ( 1 hour south of Mendocino on Highway 1) join in the lecture and discussion.  We start at 5:30.  I am looking forward to seeing the entries into the show and reconnecting with all the wonderful friends I have made in Gualala.

You can check out Gary's work by clicking on the link.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


This woman and I have a lot in common.  We both hit the bottle....the dye bottle, that is.  The red dye bottle, to be exact.  She, however, is bolder than I am.  I always tell my hairdresser it has to be a color of red that someone could actually grow.  I have noticed in my European trips that this shade of red is very popular.  It really draws my eye and I have a nice collection of redheads in my photo file.  This lady kept showing up in the same places I was visiting one day.  I was finally able to get a good photo op.  This is painted on hot press paper with square brushes.  I started out trying to put a landscape background but it was not working.  This background keeps the focus where it needs to be.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


I was sitting at Gallery Concord yesterday, so I thought it would be a good time to start creating some paintings from my extensive photo file from my recent trip to Bruges and Amsterdam.  This was one of my favorite images.  The weather was so changeable, one minute sunny the next overcast and the next rain, then it changed back to sunny in a blink of an eye!  It was one of those rainy moments when we were on top of a small bridge as a canal tour boat passed by.  All their umbrellas were up and mostly the same color.  What fun!  Definitely a memory to cherish.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011



Our model today was Jane F.  She is tall and elegant and every little gesture and pose looked so graceful.  These drawings don't do her justice but it was fun working with the iPad and trying to figure out strategies.  I had the most trouble fitting the entire figure onto the page.  Practice, practice, practice.  The usual combination of very short to longer poses were done in a two hour period.  It was fun drawing a friend with other friends.  Hopefully, these sessions will go on once a month.  We are heading into the holiday season so, we'll see what happens.  

I would like to get better using the iPad programs.  It was nice having so little equipment to haul around.
Here are the rest of the drawings for the day.  I used the Sketch Club program for these.

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