Wednesday, February 29, 2012



Well, maybe not Waldo, but can you find my Clan in this painting?  This is an abstract painting as opposed to a non-representational painting, because the shapes are abstracted from my original image.  This is the only way I can successfully create what appears to be no recognizable subject.  I have to start with something.  This way, I can design my shapes, create a value plan,  decide what textural materials I wish to work with, pick a limited palette and then see what develops.  There are still plenty of surprises but I having so many things already decided leaves my mind free to focus on what is happening on the page as I execute my plan.  

This painting was based on an idea in Mary Todd Beam's book Discover Your Creative Self.  I love this book because something interesting always happens but my work looks nothing like hers.  This painting has some aluminum foil collage with soft gel medium, some coarse salt and I used Dr. Ph Martin's Hydrus liquid watercolor paint mixed with Golden's GAC 200.  I was able to get gorgeous transparent glazes with this method that will stick to aluminum foil as well as the gel medium.

Monday, February 27, 2012



I was straightening up the studio and came across one of my favorite books by Alex Powers.  I decided to use some of his strategies for my next Clan painting.  I drew with charcoal onto watercolor paper  selected parts of face.  I then sprayed the paper with acrylic spray so the charcoal wouldn't smear when I added watercolor over it.  I am happy with the drawing but not satisfied with the painting part.  He has some paintings that were toned paper, then charcoal and then white chalk.  I think I will work on this one a little more and then try the second strategy. 

When trying to work in someone else's style, you realize how futile it is to try and copy someone else.  What were they thinking?  How did they do this or that?  You can't get into someone else's head or process ideas like they do because you are unique in your thought processes just as they are.  I do think you can take an idea or two and work it into your arsenal of working methods.  Over time, combining ideas from lots of different sources into your own personal approach will produce something original and exciting and all your own!  

Friday, February 24, 2012



I seem to be vacillating between two extremes.  I keep reading how an artist is supposed to build a body of work in a particular, consistent, style that will be identified with that person.  It has merit for marketing you work.  For some reason, I am not concerned about that, so I feel free to explore all kinds of materials, ways of working and degrees of representation to abstraction as the mood strikes me.  

Mike suggested I change the value pattern so I decided to go for back lit figures.  I love that look.  Lots of people in the class are using big "Skipper" brushes and doing exciting work.  I decided to give that a try using heavy body acrylic.  Can you believe it, I didn't own a single "Skipper" brush (sold by Cheap Joe and names for Skip Lawrence, who is a master of this type of brush!)  I went to Accent Arts (my favorite local art supplier in Palo Alto) and found a few brushes that looked somewhat similar.  I had such a good time slinging paint.  I have one small adjustment to make and then the painting is done.  I only used these two brushes, and....I discovered moving paint around with my finger was quite effective!  So, two brushes and a finger....well, maybe more than one finger, as I didn't take the time to clean my finger and just moved to the next one.  It was so handy.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012




It seems I keep going back and forth between fairly representational and stylized.  Here is the gang of four (ooooooooh, maybe a new title!)  simplified and patternized.  I have done this once before and liked the effect but hated the drawing.  This time I worked on the drawing until I was satisfied with it. Initially, I covered the YUPO with clear contact paper, which took a lot of work to get it perfectly smooth without any bubbles.  Then I took a marker and drew the image on the contact paper.  Using a box cutter, I cut out one of the shapes to be stamped.  Naturally, I wound up cutting into the paper but I figured that wouldn't show much when the paint went on.  The problem with this approach was that the thickness of the contact paper prevented the stamp from making good contact with the paper near the edge.  Ugh!!!!!!  after struggling with a number of shapes, I decided to pull the contact paper off, turn the paper over and start again.   I then cut a sheet of tracing paper the size of the painting, made the drawing and taped it to the sliding glass door.  I put the YUPO over the drawing and copied the lines onto the paper.  I cut up and taped down each shape from the tracing paper pattern, leaving exposed the shape I wanted to stamp.  I think the ink pad was getting low on ink, as I didn't get the strong black I was hoping for.  Anyway, after this tedious process was over the paper looked like the first image.  Painting goes fairly fast but I kept fiddling with the value pattern.   The ink repels the paint creating some interesting effects.  Still not totally happy with the results but learning a lot along the way.  I started the contact paper process earlier in the week but wound up starting over and completing the whole thing in an afternoon and evening on Sunday.  I am going to try something less complicated next time!

Sunday, February 19, 2012




I spent a fair amount of time sketching ideas in my sketch book, playing with value patterns and dreaming about different ideas for paintings for this series, but painting time was scarce. The pressure of painting two full sheets a week for the class is pushing me to paint when I probably wouldn't think I had the time!

 I had the privilege of being the demonstrator for the Society of Western Artists  this Saturday.  My demo was how to texture a watercolor surface with gesso.  I decided to use my Clan series as the subject.  I covered the page with two coats of gesso using a sponge roller.  This is the first time I had done that and I love the surface it creates!  I will definitely be repeating this technique.  When that surface had dried, I scraped additional gesso through two different heavy paper stencils from the scrap booking department at the craft store.  

I used Dr. Martin's Hydrus liquid watercolors to paint with.  The gesso makes a very lift able surface but makes it challenging to build up strong rich color.  The concentrated liquid watercolor works very well on a lift able surface.

The painting went together rather quickly but then the fine tuning seems to take twice as long!  I am very happy with this one.  One more painting to go before Monday class!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


I had an inquiry the other day from someone who needed information about painting on Tyvek. When you Google Painting on Tyvek, I show up in the search.  Anyway, this person told me about a company, Civic Duty,  he found that makes Tyvek Shoes!!! Wahoo, where can I get some.  Here is the link: if you are curious.  I ordered the white dedication style because it had the most space as I am hoping to be able to paint them up in style!   Now I am searching for other clothing possibilities.  I found aprons and lab coats but I needed to buy in quantity.  I make such a mess when I paint and I am always getting gesso on good clothes.  A fun painted lab coat sounds like the perfect solution.  The hunt is on!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012




This is the 6th painting in my series The Clan.  I received my new DVD from Creative Catalyst with Anne Bagby making grunge books.  This was my attempt to create something like what she was doing.  It doesn't look that much like what she was doing, but that is fine.  There is only one Anne Bagby so the most I can hope for is to be inspired by her amazing creativity and take some of the ideas and techniques and make them my own.  We have to be ourselves....everyone else is taken!  Anyway, I had a so much fun cutting and gluing and slopping diluted gesso over the mess and adding more.  Some of the techniques I used that came from the 3 DVD's I have by Anne were: Newspaper and magazine words cut and pasted, some of the deli papers I had previously printed were also glued down and lots of diluted gesso over each layer and using a sponge brayer to roll over scrap-booking stencils.    

When I get the time, I think I would like to make a grunge book.  In the meantime, I will be scouting the library donations for something that will be suitable.

Sunday, February 12, 2012




One of the reasons I signed up for Mike Bailey's Watercolor Beyond the Obvious for the fourth time is the commitment that is involved.  Every week for 10 weeks, I am committed to paint two full sheets of watercolor paper and show up in class with them on Monday morning.  Why we can't seem to do this on our own shall probably remain a mystery, but I know that this commitment pushes art up to the top of the To Do List.  I managed this week to finally finish my tax documenting and drove it to my accountant so she could prepare everything for Uncle Sam.  Other things kept popping up as well, but constantly there was the thought that I needed to complete two paintings.  I planned in my head, spent some time getting the ideas down in my sketchbook, then spent Friday, Saturday and Sunday morning having the best time experimenting with bringing my ideas to life on the paper.  

Here is painting #5 in the series.  I was interested in trying a vertical format with the high horizon "compression" composition.  I am trying to keep to an 80%/20% contrast  and this division of space is close to that goal.  Integrating the band of faces with the metallic negative space was an interesting challenge.

The horizontal band was done by putting black gesso on an aluminum foil strip cut to the size I needed, using a brayer, then waiting till the shine left.  Placing it gesso side down on the paper and drawing with a dull pencil (don't want to pierce the foil!) on the backside.  I put my tracing paper sketch over the foil and followed the lines that way.  When you are done, lift off the foil and the black gesso lines are transferred plus some additional gesso marks from where it touched the paper.  I probably got carried away with too much gesso and became impatient for the shine to leave.  I transferred a lot more black than I originally intended but liked the result.  It looked a lot like a woodcut print.  After completing the rest of the painting, I had to decide if I wanted to add some white lines so the faces would be more obvious.  Without the lines is was pretty abstract looking.  I photographed the painting with my iPad and then put the image into a painting program where I experimented with drawing white lines.  I was able to preview what that would look like before making an irreversible decision. As you can see,  I decided I liked the addition of the lines.

Tomorrow I will post #6 in the series.  I have my idea for #7, so I am off and running!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


Today, my issue of Watercolor Artist (April 2012) arrived!  The magazine will be available on the newsstands February 21st but I have been hearing from some of you that you already have it. I wrote the Creativity Corner article with a challenge for everyone to try some of the ideas.  The editors were kind enough to also feature one of my self-portraits on the last page PLUS, my photo is on the same page with Shirley Travena!!!!  In fact, I am honored to be among some really fabulous artists featured in this issue.  

My husband took me out today and bought me an early birthday present.  He said it was also for Valentine's Day (I guess no chocolates for me!) and every other event he could think of for the year.  I think a brand new 2011 Alizarin Crimson PRIUS pretty much covers all the holidays for the year!  

Pretty much a red letter day all around

Sunday, February 5, 2012



I found this blurry photo that struck me as an interesting abstract for a background.  I created a collage that interpreted this photo, then covered it with a layer of torn white tissue.  When that dried, I used the rubber stopper in the acrylic bottle and drew the images.  It was fun to start playing with the shapes and lines.  I was finally able to let go of caring about likeness etc. and just concentrate on shapes.  Making almost all of the lines angular is a Carla O'Conner exercise that I particularly like.  I can continue to play with these shapes in future paintings.  


So, here is the finished painting.  I started out using watercolor but there was too much acrylic on the tissue paper so I wasn't getting much color sticking.  I switched to liquid acrylic.  Some of the colors are kind of intense and a little unusual.  The greens are amazingly bright, so I had to add a neutralizing color.  I kept to a basic orange/green palette because it was not something I usually work with.  

I feel I am working towards a breakthrough but not there yet.  I was disappointed that the original collage barely impacts the color .  It's all a learning process.  You have to see what happens to understand it.  There are always surprises, which is part of the fun!

I have my idea for the next painting.  I just received my copy of the CCP new Anne Bagby DVD.  I am going to attempt the process she used in the video and apply it to this series.  I just spent $$$$ for the Sunday New York Times to get some great fonts.  
I received my book from Blurb yesterday!  Love how professional it looks!  Right now Blurb is offering $10 off any order.  If  you have been wanting to order a book from them, now is the time.  Use the promo code below to get your discount.

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Friday, February 3, 2012


Either I need to become a better photographer, or I need a better camera.  I an having a difficult time registering accurate color.  to make matters worse, I have two monitors on my desk (long story!) and the image looks totally different in each one.  I am guessing that my MacBook is closest to what everyone else is seeing.

I am not totally happy with this one.  The far left head is too small and not a good likeness.  The likeness probably only bothers me.  I enlarged the head on the right but I'm not sure that one is working either.  I am beginning to think I should just do the two center heads.  I think it would make a compelling image.  I am committed to the four heads for twenty paintings, so it will have to wait.

This is a gessoed surface which I texturized.  I don't think the texture is showing up in the photo but it does in person.  I like the limited palette I used ....Vermillion, Hansa Yellow Deep, Turquoise and some burnt sienna and burnt umber to start with.  These are in the Dr. Ph Martin's Hydrus line.   Using Hansa Yellow Deep which is a yellow orange in portraits keeps the image from looking jaundiced.  Yellow can be a difficult skin color to work with .  I like the loose handling of the paint in most of the image.

I have tomorrow's painting surface ready to go and the drawing is much more abstracted.  We'll see if the next painting comes out anything like what is in my head!

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