Friday, December 11, 2015


Jerry with camera
I have been wanting the new iPad Pro since they came out.  Since there was no enthusiasm from my family to present me with this as a gift,  I treated myself.  It turns out that the Apple Pencil (a special stylus designed exclusively for the iPad Pro) was a very scarce item, I decided to track one down because drawing was my main interest in this new pad.  No sense in getting the tablet if I wasn't going to be able to get the stylus at the same time.  The backorder from the website was 4 to 5 weeks! I called the closest Apple Store and was told that they were out but to call the next day at about ll AM to see if any came in that day.  Each store gets a shipment of products every day.  This morning when I called the helpful operator told me the closest store that had one.  I was able to pay for it over the phone, bought the tablet as well, along with a simple cover and picked everything up in less than two hours!  So that is the trick to getting scarce products. 
Getting things up and running was not quite as simple.  I was hoping to transfer everything from my iPad Mini to the new iPad Pro but for some reason that wasn't an option, so I manually downloaded the apps.  This was actually a better idea since I didn't need everything on this device and it saves space. I opted for the for the smaller capacity so I will be more selective in what I store on it.  I was able to easily get the Apple Pencil synced with the tablet and I started checking out the art apps I have.  This is a drawing I did tonight with the app VELLUM .  The stylus is so fabulous.   You can hold it like you would a pencil when  drawing rather than writing.  For greater control you can rest your palm on the screen and it doesn't accidentally make a mark.   The larger surface to work on is fabulous and zooming in to to see or work on details makes things HUGE!  

Does anyone else have a the new iPad Pro?  Any tips or apps ideas to share?  I look forward to hearing from you.

Friday, November 20, 2015


Every Line Tells a Story

I was anxious to finish this painting before our Thanksgiving trip which starts Sunday!   Now that I am looking at it as if from afar I see an area I want to change.  I guess that will have to wait until next weekend.  I put a glaze of very thinned down gesso over the reconstructed Tyvek surface and let it dry before starting this painting.  It is a subtle change but I really like how the paint reacts to this surface in a different way.  You can enlarge the image by clicking on it to see what I am talking about.  A more granulating effect is achieved.

I plan to take a small watercolor travel set with me and a sketch book.   I hope to have something to share with everyone when I return.  

This year I am giving thanks for a wonderful family, good health and the opportunity to create and share art.  I hope all of you have similar blessings in  your life.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


I just finished this painting today.  It is another watercolor on a reconstructed Tyvek surface.  I love how the paper impacted the final image.  This is a portrait of a lovely gentleman I met at the opening of the National Watercolor Society reception for the annual International show.  I asked to take his photo but failed to get his name.  If anyone recognizes him, please sent me more information.  

Sunday, November 15, 2015


I found another interesting profile to paint.  This one is on a torn and reconstructed Tyvek surface glued down with YES Glue so it would accept watercolor.  I love how the surface exaggerates the craggy features.   I am going to my studio today and prepare another sheet with the torn Tyvek.  I am inspired to start another portrait on this fascinating surface.  

If any of you have tried painting on torn and reconstructed Tyvek, please share your results with me!

Thursday, November 12, 2015


It takes a lot of courage to paint portraits in watercolor because it is difficult to make corrections.  That is why I show students how to paint on a gessoed surface.  Here is the demo I did for the portrait class I am teaching right now.  The lesson was on profiles so why not go for an extreme example!  By putting down a coat of gesso on the paper first, I was able to make lots of changes in my painting, with ease.  

I think gesso may be my favorites painting product.  You can make poor quality watercolor paper usable, cover over a disaster of a painting and start again, texture the paper surface, stamp with it, stamp into it, sand it smooth and so much more!  Be sure and purchase the extra heavy body type.   You can always thin it down but you can't make it thicker.  Be sure and save your expensive sable brushes for a different surface as gesso is too abrasive.   

Sunday, September 6, 2015



We were recently privileged to attend a wonderful wedding of two senior citizens who found love later in life.  The bride wanted a traditional wedding as it was her first!  It was a beautiful event, celebrating love at any age, new beginnings and life lived at it's fullest every day we are lucky enough to be on this planet.  

I decided to attempt a portrait of this special day.   This was supposed to be a preliminary sketch for a painting.  I loved the sketch but the painting was a total disaster.  After three attempts, I decided to call it a day.   So, this was framed and presented to the newlyweds.  Normally, it probably isn't a good idea to give a gift of this nature if not requested by the couple.  This can present a problem to the recipients if they don't like it.   We don't socialize with this couple,  so we will never know if it is hanging on their wall or hanging out in their back closet, so no pressure.   I enjoyed creating this portrait and I hope they get joy from reliving this special moment every time they look at it.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015



I spent a wonderful week in Reno with the Sierra Watercolor Society.  I presented my Variations workshop and then on Saturday I had the pleasure of doing a demo for the entire society.  This is the painting I started.  Today I spent an hour finishing it up.  The surface is another torn tyvek collaged over a failed painting.  Here is what the painting looked like after the two hour demo.  Can you see the changes and refinements that I made?   
For the workshop, I have everyone using the same image and each day we create a variation with an emphasis on a different element.  Everyone has a different combination of major element, minor element, and color cord.  Here are my value element painting and line element painting.   The shape painting was a disaster!!   
Value Painting

Line Painting

Here are all the fabulous paintings that were created in four days. We were able to put them all on one wall.   Amazing variations and we were just getting started!   If you click on an image, you can see each photo in greater detail.  

Friday, August 7, 2015


War Paint
This is the first painting I have completed in MY NEW STUDIO!  A few more tweaks and I think I will submit it for the next California Watercolor Association National competition.  Deadline at the end of the month, so if you haven't entered yet, get busy!  This is always a great show and will be exhibited in San Francisco this coming year.

This is a painting of my husband whose face is shaded by a hat standing in strong sunlight.  The reflections from his glasses create an interesting pattern.  I liked the torn tyvek surface so much I decided to do it again.  I think I will continue to paint more images on this type of surface.  It is accepting paint in a great way and I am able to paint in a vertical manner.

I was not able to transfer the photos from Dropbox for some reason, so I gave up wasting my time. I have been keeping busy!  I drove down to Paso Robles to jury the awards for the International Society of Acrylic Painters (ISAP)  The show is up and looks great.  If you find  yourself anywhere near Paso Robles, stop by Studios on the Park and check it out.

 I have also been spending my time setting up my very first studio outside of my home!  I was fortunate to fined a space in the Peninsula Art Museum building in Burlingame, Ca, which is about 15 minutes from my home.  It is filled with wonderful artists, several fabulous gallery spaces, a gift shop, library and art school!   The room is 17ft by 12ft and I had fun planning storage and work space.  It also is for some display of my work.  This is a view taken from the open door to the studio.  I am right across from the kitchen space, so easy access to water.  Lots of good light coming through the 3 windows and good overhead lighting as well.
Studio 21 from doorway

Work and storage tables
I found these basket carts at IKEA.  I was also able to buy just table tops which are inexpensive and fairly light weight.  I just placed them on top of two rolling carts.  I can reconfigure the two tables to be back to back for a different work space.  I can also easily move them into the middle of the room if I want to be able to work from both sides of the table.  I love the flexibility of this set up.  Also the storage capacity is amazing and for a visual person, I can see where everything is.  Doing mixed media means I have tons of "stuff" so I needed lots of storage.  I am using the wall behind the table as a pin up board but just using blue painters tape that doesn't damage the paint on the wall.  I can't believe I bought another easel but this one is perfect for the space and not very expensive.  I need to be able to work both vertically and flat plus have work in progress viewed upright from a distance.  

Rolling Cart and paper storage

I also found at IKEA a rolling cart that was perfect to have by my side as I worked with those materials that I needed for whatever current project I was creating.  Boy, did I get good at putting these things together!  Notice the rolled paper bin.  It is a pop up laundry thing from my new favorite shopping place!   In the corner is a very inexpensive plastic shelving unit from Costco and you just stick together without any tools!  So lightweight that I could manage it myself very easily.  

Flat paper storage

My biggest challenge was to figure out how to store large sheets of watercolor in a flat manner.  I realized that if I put two shoe racks together it would be just the right size for the 22 x 30 paper.  I used velcro strips that stick to themselves to tie the two units together and place the whole thing on some bricks to raise units higher.  A flat plastic storage container fits underneath now.

Cozy Corner

A desk made from two cast off file cabinets and a desk top were given to me by the facility as they were going to be thrown out!  Timing is everything!  A small folding bookshelf, folding table and a cozy chair complete the ensemble!!! You can see some of my display wall.  I will be participating in two Open Studio events during the year and people come through and visit the artists' studios all the time.  All the doors have large windows in them so visitors can peek in.  An open door means stop and chat, a closed door means privacy please.  I hope some of you in the area will come by and stop and chat!

Next week I am off to Reno, Nevada to teach and will be doing a demo on Saturday, August 15th for the Sierra Watercolor Society in Reno.  It is going to be a fabulous week.  

Sunday, July 19, 2015


DEMO from 3 Amigos paint for the SCVWS

Saturday I had the great honor and pleasure to paint again with Christopher (Topher) Schink and a new member of the 3 Amigos band of renegade artists, Mike Bailey.  We did a demo for the Santa Clara Watercolor Society with the 3 of us simultaneously painting the same model.  My good friend and fellow artist, Carol Worthington Levy, took several hundred great photos.  I haven't quite figured out how to get them from Dropbox to my computer.   It seems I have done it but they don't appear.  More hours of messing around with technology but I will figure it out and share more images of the event.  Lots of volunteers made the event special  and we had a great enthusiastic capacity audience of 120.  This is a dynamic watercolor society and I am proud to be a member.  

This was my finished painting.  I will share the different stages of development when I get the photo challenge sorted out, along with some photos of my "amigos" and some images of our set up and overflowing crowd.

Thursday, July 2, 2015


It was my turn to sit at the new Society of Western Artists' gallery in San Bruno.  I used the time to explore some digital apps for my iPad to replace the PS Touch app which has been discontinued.  I can't find one that has all the features that I have been teaching in the latest workshop I have developed.  I did find one that is quite extensive, so I need to rework the curriculum.  Technology is amazing but it can be frustrating as well!  If you like to play, try iColorama

After I played around with a photo I took of my sister during our trip to Paris, I painted this little painting today.  I had saved all the papers from the trip and used them to collage  pages in my travel sketchbook.  Turns out these papers were from the central market in Florence, not papers from Paris.  I loved the graphics they used in the Central Market promotional materials and signage upstairs in the restaurant areas.  The papers were heavier than I usually glue down so I used a stronger solution of mat medium.   The watercolor resisted at first but I finally was able to get it to stick.  Interesting melding of the papers and paint.

Friday, June 19, 2015





I thought I would share with you my process for developing images from a reference photo.  I recently had the wonderful opportunity to share a week with my sisters in Paris.  I had rented an apartment that had no internet connection, so we searched for an internet cafe and found The Felix Cafe a few blocks from our apartment.  Florent was the barrista and he was so friendly and helpful to us.  The French can be very warm and welcoming.   We looked forward to seeing him every morning.  The last day of our visit,  I took a photo of him, catching him by surprise, then he posed, and then he took a photo with my sister, who is under 5 feet tall.  Florent is well over 6 feet tall.  I could do a fun version of "American Gothic" with this photo.  Perhaps in the future. 
 Because I like his look and personality, I decided to start a series of paintings with Florent as my subject.  Keep in mind, this is not a commissioned portrait, so I will be trying for the essence of the person and expression, not a perfect replication of his features.  

The first step is for me to do a number of drawings.  I like to work with ink so there is no option to erase and correct.  I find by drawing multiple times,  I make adjustments each time and get closer and closer to what I am seeking.  I also become very familiar with the shapes and distances between shapes by doing multiple drawings so that I am able to do a drawing without looking at the reference material.  The top image done digitally in the app Auyrn Ink (a watercolor art app) was created from memory after doing the two bottom drawings.  

I am working on a painting now.  Those steps will be shared in my next post.  Stay tuned!!!

PS  The Watercolor Artist magazine is now available at major bookstores and on line.  Check out the wonderful article they were generous enough to write on my self portraits!

Monday, June 8, 2015


It has been a very exciting week!  I learned that the above painting of my son, Kevin,  received a second place award in the Watercolor division for the annual SWA show.  Their new gallery location is in San Bruno and it looks like a lovely space to exhibit and hold workshops and meetings. 

Society of Western Artists Fine Art Center
527 San Mateo Avenue (between Sylvan & Angus Aves.)
San Bruno, CA  94066
Hours:  Thursday - Saturday
11:00 AM - 3:00 PM
(650) 225-9250

 Finding suitable locations for art groups to meet and share is getting more and more difficult.  Expecially, in the Bay Area where rents are skyrocketing because of the hi tech companies booming growth.  I am looking forward to seeing the show.  My turn to sit at the Gallery is Friday, July 2nd, so come by and say hello and take a look for yourself.  

Then, I returned from a gorgeous weekend with family in Cambria to find my advance copies of the August issue of Watercolor Artist in the mailbox!  I am so excited to have a 10 page spread in this beautiful magazine.  I was very honored that they asked to showcase my work.   Below is a url telling more about it.  Looks like the August issue will hit the newsstands on June 16th!  Don't ask! There doesn't seem to be an explination for why the dates on the magazine don't correspond with when they actually appear on the newsstands.  If you want a copy, Barnes and Noble carries the magazine.  

If the article gets your artistic juices flowing and you would like to learn some of these ideas and techniques, you can check out the workshop page of this blog for dates and locations where I will be teaching.

Monday, June 1, 2015


I just returned for a 3 week fabulous vacation. The first part was a Roads Scholar tour in Florence with incredible docents explaining in detail about so many famous works of art that I studied in Art History.  Then, off to Paris for 5 days where I finally was able to go to Giverny and be inspired by Monet's surroundings, then back to the L'Orangerie where the huge waterlily paintings hang.  And so much more.

While I was gone, I received an email informing me that the video of our "Three Amigo's" live demo in February up in Santa Rosa was up on UTube.  They did a fabulous job and I enjoyed seeing the progression of Topher and David's work.  I was too engrossed in what I was doing to stop and focus on their part.  It is very uncomfortable watching and listening to myself.   I won't point out what I hate in case you didn't notice!  This video is 45 minutes long.  If you would prefer to see it on the UTube site, here is the link:

I will be participating in another 3 person live demo sponsored by the Santa Clara Watercolor Society.  Here is the information if you are interested in being part of the audience.  Hope to see you there!

Monday, April 20, 2015


Add caption

Christopher "Topher" Schink and Skip Lawrence publish (through Cheap Joe's Art Supplies) a very informative and exciting magazine, called The Palette Magazine.   It has been one of my favorite publications for years.  Early this year I had great fun doing a three artist demo in Santa Rosa, Ca. with the impressive Mr. Topher  Schink and David Lobenberg who is a fabulous watercolor portrait artist from Sacramento.  The latest issue of The Palette Magazine has sequenced photos of each of our interpretations of the model, along with some additional information about each of us.  I knew about the article, but imagine my surprise when I finally received my copy in the mail and saw my self on the cover!  

If you don't already subscribe to The Palette Magazine, you are missing out.  You can order it through Cheap Joe's website.  Worth every penny.  I always read it cover to cover as soon as it arrives.  There is a very intriguing process for mono printing described in this issue  which I can't wait to try.  

I have updated my workshop schedule, so check it out.  If you are local to the San Francisco Bay area,  I will be participating in another 3 person portrait demo for the Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society with Topher Schink and Mike Bailey.  It will be at the Los Altos Town Hall on Saturday, July 18th.  It's going to be a fun event.  I hope many of you can join us!   

Saturday, April 18, 2015


As technology changes at the speed of light, it can be challenging to keep up.  On the other hand, we,  are able to do amazing things with just a little knowledge and practice.  The best part is we don't have to know the science behind the wizardry!!!!

I have been an Apple lover for years.  Working at home without an IT Department, I had to be able to figure things out pretty much on my own.  Thank G-d for my kids and grandkids who can help me out when I get into trouble, but the intuitive nature of the Apple products have served me very well.  I finally broke down and bought an iPhone 6 Plus because the screen was finally big enough for me to see stuff on it and the keys were big enough for me to hit the right one the first time!  I don't need to have my phone glued to my body at all times, so the larger size works just fine for me.  The biggest surprise to me was the camera in the phone.  I still can't get over the color accuracy.  It is spot on and I no longer have to adjust the color when I photograph my art work.  With all my other cameras I struggled to get the color on the screen and in a print out to look like the original.  Boy, those days are happily gone.   So, since I had a nice camera in my phone I decided to invest a little in a few extras.  I bought one of those extension sticks, thinking I could take some unusual angles.  That came with an attachable tripod.  I also bought a small table top tripod for the phone and some attachable lenses.  Since so much of my work involves working from a photograph, I wanted to expand my possibilities without spending a fortune on extra equipment.  I downloaded an app called CAMERA PLUS, which turned out to be one of the best moves I could have made... and here is why....

I like to enter competitions where the acceptance requires that you provide camera ready art for the publication.  I never had the equipment or technical skill to take that kind of photograph and hired a professional photographer to do it for me.  Sometimes the painting was already framed and twice it was in a national show and wouldn't be back before the deadline for submitting the photo to the publication.  Lucky for me, those two times the paintings were local and I was able to solve the problem but lots of added stress.  I never professionally photographed my work "just in case" because of the expense.  Enter the iPhone 6 with an 8 megapixel camera.  In the Camera Plus app there is a setting where you take the photo at the full 8 megapixels in tiff format which means there is no compression.  I put the phone/camera on the tripod for steadiness and attached the ear buds which will act as a shutter release by clicking the volume control on the cord.  Now I can take my own professional photographs and I don't need special lighting, a high end digital camera or any advanced photographic expertise....the new technology does it all for me.

The image above is the result of my first professional photo adventure.  It looks slightly distorted here because it is a much higher resolution than the blog is designed for, but,  I wanted to show you an example.

With my tripod and "selfie stick" I am going to experiment with the video capabilities in the phone and try creating some small videos of different techniques.  What technologic discoveries have you made that have enhanced your art making abilities?  Please share.  We learn and grow from each other.

Friday, March 20, 2015


It seems like life gets in the way of making art sometimes.  I finally have a finished painting under my belt for the first time in awhile.   I covered over an old painting that reminded me of a Picasso style, so I was inspired to collage down some images of a number of Picasso paintings I had in my files.  There was a rather large image where the face is now and one of the eyes was exactly between the two on this face.  Even Picasso didn't put a third eye in.  The face became more opaque as I endeavored to cover it over.  I do like combining painting and drawing/mark making in a painting.  I think I want to do a few more in this style.  Now to find a title.  I am considering: "Night At the Museum" and "Channeling Picasso".  If you would like to weigh in with an opinion or an idea for a title, I would love to hear from you!

I will be jurying the International Society of Acrylic Painters annual show to be exhibited in Paso Robles, Ca. this year.  I am also going to be giving a workshop in Paso Robles from July 27th to July 31st which coincides with the opening of the show.  There is only space for 12 participants in the workshop, so if you are interested, contact Sasha Irving at:

Sasha Irving
1130 Pine Street
P.O. Box 3000
Paso Robles, CA 93447


Saturday, February 7, 2015


My wonderful friend, Bonnie Crosse received a grant for the Oakmont Art Association in Santa Rosa, California, to put on a wonderful program for the community.  

Yesterday, three figurative artists spent two hours painting a wonderful model, complete with a parrot, while a very attentive large crowd watched, asked questions and mingled during the model breaks.  Topher Schink lives in Santa Rose and was very instrumental in helping the committee to formulate the program and share his extensive experience in performing these multiple artist demos.  David Lobenberg came from Sacramento and I drove up from the SF Peninsula and the three of us had a ball painting.  After a break for lunch, we each spent about 20 minutes each giving a powerpoint presentation on our influences, history and current directions of our art.  It was unplanned, but it turns out each of us tend to focus on different elements of art.   Topher Schink is all about Shapes abstracted in a geometric fashion.  The elements that I am most passionate about are Texture and Line.  David emphasizes Value and Color utilizing the innate value of the color in his vibrant portraits.  It was a little intimidating to be flanked by such talented, experienced painters.  It wasn't a competition but one always worries that they don't mess up.   

The whole event was filmed while they projected on a large screen what each of us was doing.  I was focused on my painting but my husband said they moved from artist to artist and stayed with each of us for a while, so everyone could see how we were progressing as we worked.  Because of the setup, my station was directly in from of the model and we needed to work upright for the camera.  Since I normally work much flatter, this was an interesting challenge in my process.  My board blocked my view of the model and I couldn't turn the easel sideways for me to see her or the camera couldn't pick up what I was doing .   I took a photo of the model in the beginning and worked from that image most of the time.  There is always a work-a-round for every challenge.

It was a wonderful day of sharing our passion for art with lots of folks who share the same passion!  

Here are the finished paintings from each of us.  

Christopher Schink

David Lobenberg

Myrna Wacknov

The Pose

Saturday, January 10, 2015



I just received word that this painting has been accepted into the 2015 American Watercolor Society exhibition at the Salmagundi Club in New York City this April.  I am always honored and surprised to be included as this competition has so many fabulous entries.  I don't know how the judges manage to make their decisions.  This painting is a 22 x 30 full sheet of watercolor paper with a very textural gesso surface.  If you find yourself in New York during the exhibit, be sure and make the time to see the show.  It is always one of the very best, if not the best, in the country.  I love being able to get nose to plexi to see how things are done!

Related Posts with Thumbnails