Monday, December 29, 2014



What a wonderful way to finish up the year...I just received an email today that this painting will be in the Incite 3 book which is a series like Splash but featuring mixed media work.     I have to photograph the work before January 16th.  Fortunately, the painting is going to be in the CWA National exhibition which is local to me, so I can make the deadline with the generous cooperation of a few people involved in the exhibition.  After reading the photography requirements, I am going to do it myself with my new iPhone 6 plus.  It has 8 megapixels capability and amazingly color accuracy.  I downloaded a great app called Camera+ which allows me to control the settings with more sophistication.  

In my last post, I promised to publish my artistic goals for 2015.  It is only a goal if you write it down.  Keeping it in your head doesn't count!  As I have mentioned on numerous occasions, I try to focus on a limited number of aspects and explore as many of the variations as I can come up with.  So here is what I have decided to work with for 2015: 

1.  Explore mono-printing.  I have done some in the past year or two but I want to be able to "visualize" the result in advance and not have everything be a lucky accident or a total surprise.  
It will just take lots and lots of "doing" for me to get some predictability.  The great thing about collage papers is they all can be used in some way or another, so no fear of messing up or wasting supplies.  Some of the papers will be incorporated into my portraits and others will inspire me in new directions.  

2.  I am a book-a-holic!  This year, I am going to take one book, 80@80, the Paintings of Michael Morgan, and study his texture techniques (there is no description in the book how he does it, so it will be hit and miss, trial and error) his color schemes, compositions and value patterns.  Michael Morgan is an English landscape painter and it will be interesting to see how I can translate into portraiture what I glean from his work.  The color schemes, compositions and value patterns will show up in the mono prints.  

3.  I want to have more than one image in each painting.  I have been collecting different ideas for this idea on Pinterest.  You can see what I have so far to inspire me on the board "Double Exposure"

4.  I plan to explore the idea of partially obscured imagery that I am calling "Lost and Found" for lack of a better description.  Again, Pinterest has been very helpful as a place to collect inspiration.

5.   The last focus for the coming year will be to consciously create an 80%/20% contrast dominance 
with the various elements in the painting.  

I hope this gives all of  you some inspiration to devise your own set of challenges for the coming year.  I would love to hear what ideas you will be working on.  Be sure and share.

Thank you all for your generous support of my efforts this past year through your comments on my blog.  I hope everyone has a healthy, creative and joyous new year!

Sunday, December 14, 2014


Well, I decided to do a second painting of this pose and then choose which one I was going to exchange with another artist for his painting.  This one is just textured gesso on paper, no collage.  I tried to get the same gesso texture as the last painting and couldn't do it.   I used Dr. Ph Martin's Hydrus for the watercolor.  I do like how a gesso surface takes the paint and releases the paint! Now I have to decide which version to keep and which to send.  This one is much more traditional in approach.

Aside from working on this painting, I have been experimenting with the camera in my new iPhone 6+.   I have been practicing stealth photography while out for walks and am getting better at positioning the camera without looking at the screen.  You can release the shutter using the volume control buttons on the side or  the volume controls on the ear buds, if they are plugged in and you don't have iTunes on.  This image was taken with the iPhone camera and it seems to be more color accurate than my other camera.  I didn't have to make any adjustments at all!  I am impressed!  I ordered an extension rod that also becomes a tall tripod.  I am hoping to be able to take some images with unusual perspectives with this extension and also use the video feature on the phone using the tripod for filming some of my paintings in progress.  My new photo accessories will come just in time for my next series of paintings.  

It's that time of year to write down my objectives for creating work in the coming year.  I try to focus on no more than five different areas and then do as many variations of these ideas as I can come up with.  Limiting your choices helps your mind to be more creative with what is available.  If you allow everything to be available, then one tends to go to the tried and true. safe and easy.  Chuck Close says an artist needs to create a problem and then solve it.  This is my way of creating a problem.

Saturday, November 22, 2014


It's Me Again

I needed a small self portrait as an exchange with another artist, so I covered over a piece of paper for the third time and started in.  I don't remember what was on the first layer, but the second was a collage that didn't go well so I used a soft brayer and covered the colored papers with gesso and then, while the gesso was wet, laid a piece of lace on top and pressed more gesso over the piece.  I like how the pattern is dimensional but not a true lace pattern.  I hope I can reproduce this texture again.  it seems that every little element contributes to the final, how dry or wet the brayer is, the consistency of the gesso, the surface of the substrate etc, etc.  I covered a clean sheet of watercolor paper in this process, hoping to get the same texture.  Tomorrow I will see if I achieved my goal.

I used the beautiful QOR watercolors, new from Golden Paints.  They seem very rich and rewet easily.   I am surprised that I find a difference from other quality brands, but I think I do.  It will take some more painting to confirm my impressions.  

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

"INCITE 2 Color Passions" HAS ARRIVED!

I was excited to receive my complimentary copy of the latest mixed media book, INCITE 2 Color Passions, yesterday.  This is the painting on page 13 that is included in this book.  This is pretty close to the actual color of the painting.  Unfortunately, this image reproduced in the book is very dark and way off.  They use a digital image that I send them so I don't know what happened.  This book is full of very exciting paintings, many of them experimental in technique and/or imagery.  I can't wait to find the time to sit down and really read about each one of them.  

Friday, October 24, 2014




This piece of paper has undergone an amazing transformation.  It has been in my files for 3 or 4 years with  a disgusting amount of too lumpy tissue collaged onto portions of the surface.  I tried unsuccessfully to tear it off.  Not wanting to loose a full sheet of watercolor paper but no clue as how to resurrect it, I stashed it away.  Last week I was going through my discards and took it out again.  I had spent some time with Anne Bagby this summer and remembered that Anne sands some of her pieces.  Aha!! I could try to sand down the heavy ridges.  Somewhere, my husband has an electric sander but I couldn't find it, so I put a little elbow grease to work and the paper now seemed salvageable.  Next, I scraped a layer of gesso over the piece and, in a moment of impulse, I took a sheet of beige tissue paper that was sitting on my worktable and pressed it into the wet gesso and then I brayered a thin layer of gesso on top of the tissue using one of those hardware store type of woolly paint rollers.  I finally had a surface I wanted to paint on!  

I decided I wanted to try painting this on an easel  rather than laying it down on my table.  I haven't used my watercolor sticks in a long time so I got them out.  this is a great form of watercolor for a vertical painting because I have much more control over the paint running.  I also have a set of Derwent Intense watercolor sticks which can be used in a similar manner, i.e., draw with them, dip them in water and apply, apply a wet brush directly to the stick to pick up color and use a wet brush to blend and activate the color.  I really enjoyed drawing and scribbling along with the usual painting process.  The liftable surface was great fun to play with and letting gravity play a part in paint runs added to the final result.   

I am excited to try creating another interesting surface to paint on.  

Tuesday, October 7, 2014



Overall, I am satisfied with the painting.  It was not critical that I get an exact likeness, but would have liked to be able to correct a few areas.  Watercolor doesn't allow for that and I draw directly on the paper with paint instead of transferring a perfect drawing.  I prefer the spontaneous over the perfect.  Practicing drawing the image 5 or 6 times in advance helps to get a more accurate spontaneous painting.  Here is one of the preliminary drawings that I did in advance of the demo.

Friday, September 26, 2014


At the beginning of September, I had the privileged of teaching with Anne Bagby in her fabulous studio in Winchester, TN.  I taught the second two days, but  Anne taught the first two days and shared some of her techniques for producing wonderful papers by mono printing.  Working with about 12 papers at the same time, one gets variations and a set of papers that are harmonious but each is different because each one has been printed differently but using a consistent palette.  Variations on a theme, as it were.  These papers came out so much more "finished" than my normal mono printing style.  I am not sure how I will use them, but I am anxious to try my hand at creating another series in this vein.  Anne has an amazing collection of hand made stamps and stencils.  She generously shared these with us.  I need to create a few more of my own before make more papers.  I can't wait to get started!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014



I have just returned from an incredible two weeks immersed in art, teaching, learning, friendship and gratitude for the life I live!  While away from home, I learned this painting has received the President's Award from the International Society for Experimental Art (ISEA).  I am very honored.  I wish I was able to attend their event but I was teaching in Florida at the time.  Hopefully, next year.  It is great to have an organization dedicated to those of us who like to push the envelope a little (or a lot!)

This morning, I received a note that this painting is also featured on the Artist's Network blog post excerpted from the Acrylic Artist magazine. 
Here is the link to see the article and read how this painting came about.

As soon as I am able to download all the photos from the past two weeks and clear my brain, I will share some wonderful moments and new ideas that developed.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


SKETCHCLUB Digital Painting
Just back from a family reunion weekend.  To pass the time on the plane, I like to practice drawing and painting with one of the many art apps I have on my iPad.  Sketchclub is my favorite because it is easy to change settings quickly and they have a setting called "sketchy" that produces a very interesting effect.  I wish I could figure out how to do that with traditional drawing materials.  I selected the largest size for my drawing and it created this very long format.  

Now, to get back into a regular schedule!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014



I took a little vacation from blogging but not from working!  I am getting  ready to share a wonderful teaching experience with Anne Bagby in a few weeks and then I am off to the Florida Watercolor Society conference where I will be giving a workshop, doing a demo and some one on one critiques.  There will be constant activity and events including their annual exhibit,  a trade show, a paint around and a banquet.  I have never been to this type of  conference and it will be exhilarating.  I can't wait!

This painting needs to be framed and shipped before I leave.   It was accepted into the 2014 National Watercolor Society National show.  As ever, I am very excited to be included this year.  With so many excellent artists entering, it is a miracle to be excepted.  It is hard to say what will make the cut.  I was disappointed that I didn't get into the San Diego WCS International show.  All we can do is create a lot of work, set aside those pieces that feel successful  and be willing to take a chance, keeping our fingers crossed. I think I should be doing more of this formatting.  It is not an original concept but creates an interesting dynamic between the nine faces.  

In my next post, I will share some questions to consider when evaluating your painting.  It is helpful as a way to take another look at your work after you have stared at it so long you can no longer be objective.  

Wednesday, July 9, 2014



I spent 3 wonderful days giving a Texture Workshop for the Central Coast Watercolor Society in Paso Robles, California.  Everything was perfect....great students, great location, great weather.  This part of the central coast has wonderful wineries. We set up shop at the Castoro Cellars Winery off of highway 46 West.  What a beautiful place, with lunch outside on the patio amidst the grapevines.  I was honored to jury their Aquarius 2014 show which is now on exhibit in the Castoro Cellars Art Gallery through August 30th.   There are lots of talented artists here, so, if you are anywhere near the area, be sure and stop by and see the show, taste some wine, maybe have a picnic and enjoy this wonderful part of California. 

Sunday, June 8, 2014


I took a workshop from Derek Gores a while back.  It was lots of fun and I love his work.  The problem for me was to figure out  how to incorporate the ideas from his workshop into my work and not have it look so derivative. I had this imaged started on a nice gallery canvas with the torn magazine collage in black and white.  I had set it aside because I never could decide how to continue.     Yesterday, I was inspired to collage the entire piece with various tissues I had patterned with gesso using my Gelli Plate.  Unfortunately, I didn't realize I had never photographed the image after the initial magazine collage.  So, we have to start with the second step, covered with gesso tissue.  

Today, I took out my liquid watercolors and painted over all the collage papers .  I may play with the shadow pattern a bit but basically, I think it is done.  I think I will do a few more of these with some slight variations.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014



This painting is a combination of old painting partially covered with gesso through a stencil and some collage papers that have been made on the Gelli Plate with tissue, stencils and gesso for paint, then painted with Mahogany, burnt sienna and Ultramarine blue acrylic glazes.  I must have painted out the right eye 8 times before I was satisfied with it.  I may play with the value pattern a little more digitally in the computer and make a few adjustments,  but basically, it feels finished.

Saturday, May 31, 2014



This is the demo I did for the Fremont Art Association workshop.  Day two is all about shape.  Creating a 2 value image in our digital devices is a great way to break the image into large shapes that connect.  Working on YUPO makes it fun and easy to do interesting things in the dark shapes and lift out the light shapes.  Give it a try!  

This Fremont group is a joy to work with.  Everyone is into the process and  having fun keeping up with technology and exploring ways we can use it to enhance our art experience.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014



I decided to use the last image I posted and create another painting.  I wanted to use the art program I will be teaching my next workshop and see where it would lead.  

I like to start by covering over a failed painting.  Fortunately, I have lots of these!  Here is the first stage of the new painting.  Using PS Touch, I created a notan (2 value) then, viewing that image in my iPad, I painted over the old painting using just two color.  Some of the previous incarnation showed through but I don't worry about that knowing it would eventually disappear under the additional layers that were coming.  It was, however,  somewhat distracting.  I used a mid value orange instead of a very dark value color as an experiment to see how this would affect the final result.  Working with just two values forces the artist to see and evaluate shapes, angles, distances, relationships rather than seeing "things" i.e nose, lips, glasses etc.  

Notan stage one of CHAMPAGNE DREAMS
The next step was to add transparent or translucent collage over the piece.  Normally, I use hand painted papers.  I am partial to tissue collage for its transparent quality.  I had just saved a piece of printed tissue that was used in a gift basket.  I realized I had two other prints with a circular, dot pattern.  This could be fun!!  

Stage two: Collage Layer for CHAMPAGNE DREAMS

Having the mid value instead of dark value allowed me to more easily make adjustments for a more accurate portrait.  I wasn't looking for a great likeness (irrelevant for my purposes) but getting the mouth aligned better, getting the scale of the eyes and glasses in relation to the rest of the features, etc. are subtle corrections that make a difference in the final piece.

Final solution
Naming the painting can be the most fun of all.  Here are some of my other ideas:  Running Circles around myself.  Running around in Circles, The Circle of Life.  Life has come full circle, Life in a Bubble.  Want to join in the name game?  Feel free to share in the comments section.

Friday, May 9, 2014



While on Orcas Island off the coast of northwest Washington State,  I looked for another of the handmade watercolor sketch books that I have fallen in love with.  They are made by a resident of the San Juan Islands (Orcas is part of this chain of islands)  My kids insisted on buying it for me for Mother's Day.  I must have done something right to raise such great boys.  

I have decided to dedicate this book to just portraits.  This is the first painting in my new book.  A self portrait seemed most appropriate to start things out with.  I took a chance and drew directly with acrylic ink with a stick.   I like the square format.  I am using the gorgeous new QoR watercolors from Golden.  They sent me some samples to try out and I have been extremely impressed.  They are highly saturated and luxurious feeling.  They take a little longer to dry in the palette but rewet very easily.  

You can see the beautiful end paper to the left of the painting.  Here are two other views of this book.  I love the beautiful red leather exterior and the gold and patterned oriental paper inserts in the front and back of the book.  The spine has wonderful stitching and a hand made button for the closure.  It feels so decadent and luxurious.  The only fear is messing up one of the pages.  

If you would like to inquire about these beautiful books, they are made by Susie Shipman

Sunday, May 4, 2014


Here are two more digital paintings I did while sitting on the plane.  I was having a difficult time finding interesting faces to work with on the iPad mini.  I was going to purchase a magazine at the airport just for this purpose but decided not to waste the money.  I found these two guys, one in a discarded newspaper and the other in the inflight magazine.  I like this app, called ArtStudio.  I just have to figure out how to turn off the "blend" feature on the brushes.  So far, nothing I do has worked.  If someone knows the secret, please share!

I am looking forward to getting back into the studio and working with real paint, real brushes and real paper.  Digital is fun, but there is nothing like the physical, tactile sensation of slinging paint.

Thursday, May 1, 2014


This is my idea of Plane Air painting!  No wind, no rain, no bugs, comfortable seat (relatively speaking compared to sitting on the ground or a rock!) I have been doing a ridiculous amount of travel lately and this is a little sketch I did on the way to Orcas Island in Washington state.  I try to use a photo in the magazine provided by the airlines.  Not much to pick from this time but I do like her face and I was trying out a different digital app.  I have downloaded so many but keep going back to the same ones, so I decided to expand my knowledge and try something else.  This one is called Art Studio.  All these programs have similarities but differences, as well.  This one had some ways of working with the brushes that seemed different.  One sort of smudged what you had put down like it was pastel.  Anyway, I was having fun and passing the time. 

Repacking today and then off again for the weekend.  I am looking forward to being home on Monday and then having the entire month free to paint.  

If you want to enter the San Diego Watercolor Society International exhibition, May 10th is the deadline.  You can go to their website for information.  Skip Lawrence is the judge this year.  I took a chance with my very experimental "Evolution" painting.  I won't be surprised if it is not accepted but I like it and if any juror is going to appreciate it, I think Skip would be the one.   You have to test the waters and not getting into a show is not the end of the world.  

Saturday, April 5, 2014


Last night good friends had a private concert in their home featuring a jazz duet called Ivory and Gold.  Ivory plays the piano and Gold plays a flute.  A wonderful pairing of instruments, talent and friendship!  I managed to snag a comfy arm chair with a non-obstructed view so I could sketch on my iPad mini.  I used my favorite Sketch Club app. Of course, the challenge was to draw a fast moving target!  The flute proved to be impossible but I did capture the essence of jazzy piano man.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


Yesterday I went to the last class of Mike Bailey's amazing 10 Week Beyond The Obvious workshop.  I have taken the class 4 times but I always try to go to the current class finale as a guest.  In 10 weeks all the participants have created at least 20 full sheet paintings.  There is one participant who manages to turn out 30, 40 or more.  The rest of us just shake our heads in amazement.  Each student creates a still life setup and they must stick with that composition throughout the 10 weeks.  The last class everyone brings in their 20 paintings and each person has an opportunity to arrange them in order of creation, placed under mats and then guests and fellow students file past the display.  We are allowed to take photos with the artists' permission.  I forgot to get permission to put some of them on the blog, so I can't show you the amazing work.  A pot luck luncheon follows.  It is always a fabulous day and a wonderful celebration of hard work, perseverance and amazing creativity on everyone's part.

One of the things I do is photograph many of the people in attendance.  It is a well known secret.  Naturally, there were some special faces that I fell in love with.  Today was a rainy day, perfect for staying in.  I thought I would do some drawing with a pen attached to a long wooden dowel device.  This allows me to put the paper on the floor and draw with a lot less control.  I think it creates a very interesting drawing.  I tried to do a continuous line drawing with my "extended arm".  My exciting discovery was how unrecognizable these faces are with this technique!  All but one of the above drawings is from the same image.  I'm not sure what I will do with these drawings but it sure was fun making them.

Thursday, March 6, 2014


Last night I had the wonderful opportunity to present a demo to the Fremont Art Association.  They are fortunate to have a "home" with a gallery, meeting space and workshop space in the heart of old town Niles.  They honored me with a large turn out and we had a great time.  Everyone was very friendly and receptive.  I am hoping to come back and present this workshop sometime in the near future.

This was the first time I have had the opportunity to give this new presentation which is part of my new workshop.  I took a failed painting out of the growing stack! and covered it with collage paper earlier in the day.  This was the base for my new painting.

I talked about using the iPad or similar device to break down an image into 3 values.  Using that image, I drew the darkest value shapes in with a charcoal pencil, then added the lightest values with a white hard pastel.  Here is the photo I took at that state.  I was holding the camera up high and was on tiptoes, so there was some distortion, but you get the idea.

Then using acrylic inks in deep blue and burnt sienna plus an opaque acrylic white, I proceeded to fill in the painting.  Normally I would have sprayed the charcoal and pastel first but I didn't want to asphyxiate the crowd, so I just painted directly on top.  

Now that I have had time to evaluate the painting, I will finish it up.  It is always a good idea to ruminate on a piece you are working on.  It creates a little distance and different perspective.

Saturday, March 1, 2014



Yesterday I decided I wanted to do some string drawings.  If you missed my post on this fun way to draw, you take a long mop string, dip one end into a bottle of ink and then try to draw with this dangling, limp noodle.  Very interesting drawings result.  I have a large supply of blank newsprint paper that I usually use for this exercise.  Here is the drawing I created.


I must have attempted 5 or 6 images.  This is the only one I liked.  Next I decided to see how newsprint would take to mono printing with my large Gelli Plate.  When you add acrylic to even the cheapest  paper, it adds stability and functionality.  I thought I could practice mono printing ideas on the paper I just drew on.  Here is the drawing after I covered it with multiple mono printing passes.


The original drawing was pretty much obscured by the printing, so I wanted to see if I could paint a decent painting on this low grade paper.  I spread acrylic gel over an old unsuccessful painting that had collage on it and bonded the mono print on top.  

Today I painted on top with heavy acrylic using a credit card and a coffee stirrer like a palette knife.  The collage under the paper gave the surface a rough texture so the paint went on very brokenly when scraped across.


When I got it this far I was unhappy with the right eye and I needed to make further adjustments to the shape of his face.    Here is the final result with a few details.  Surprisingly, I can use this paper to do finished paintings on.  Wahoo!

So, here's the question:  Would this painting be considered a collage since it is painted on a single sheet of paper with nothing glued on top?

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