Saturday, February 27, 2016


I just received an email from the Flashbag company that they are going to stop manufacturing, possibly indefinitely.  I am disappointed because I love their products and get so many comments on my bags.  It is the perfect combination of utility and self-promotion!   They are extremely sturdy but I managed to wear out two of them over a period of several years of constant use and abuse.   I hope I can replace them before the March closing.  If you would like a wonderful way to silently advertise your artistic talent, and or have some great gifts, now is the time to act.  Their website is

Maybe we can give them enough business to encourage them to continue!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016


This is the last demo I did for the workshop last week.  The lesson was creating a painting on a collaged surface.  I decided to keep this one in sepia tones as the background papers were warm neutrals.  The wording was from a small brown paper bag I picked up at WholeFoods intended for a line of hand made soaps.  Inspiration is everywhere when you do mixed media!  Trash becomes coveted treasures and nothing gets tossed out.  I am now spending this week reorganizing all my "treasures" so I can find them when I need them. It is also useful to go through these sorts of supplies to remind oneself of what is there.  It is like treasure hunting in your own supply closet.  

I discovered I have quite a few unfinished paintings.  This might be a good time to see them with fresh eyes and get some fresh ideas.  

Here are the last of the student paintings, many of them are a work in progress.  Most of the group was not excited to be doing a self portrait but realized the value by the time the workshop was over.  The workshop is NOT about doing a self portrait.  That is just the vehicle to experience the process.    The last image is a wonderful example of how the information learned during this workshop can be translated into any other subject.  I can't wait to see how this nest egg painting is ultimately resolved!

Thursday, January 28, 2016


Here is another demo from the workshop I finished last night.  This one is another way to use stencils,  YUPO is such a fun surface to work with once you get the hang of it.  Most in the workshop are experiencing this surface for the first time.  I think they are having as much fun as I am!

Here are some of the paintings they produced using YUPO and stencils based on their Notan (2 value) images created with an iPad app.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016



This was my demo painting for today.  We were exploring shapes, stencils, working on a YUPO surface following some ideas we had created using various photo manipulation apps.   Everyone did a fantastic job today.  I hope to have photos to share at the end of the week of everyone's work.  Four o'clock seems to come around before you know it and we have to vacate the room.  I didn't stop to take photos today, but will be sure and do so from now on.  
This is the first time I have added watercolor sticks to the mix and love how they respond to the YUPO surface.  

Tomorrow we will be using our stencils in a totally different way.  Stay tuned!

Sunday, January 24, 2016


Tomorrow starts the beginning of my workshop for the Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society.  This is a fabulous group to work with and I am looking forward to sharing some new information with them.  I  workshop artist usually gives a demo the Sunday before the workshop.  I was excited to see some hi tech new equipment set up.  They now have a camera attached to a huge television monitor instead of an overhead mirror.   Everyone loved the improved viewing.  tomorrow I am going to be able to attach my iPadPro to the monitor and it should make taking everyone through the steps of each digital app we are going to learn much easier.  
I decided to work on reconstructed Tyvek again and I am loving the end results.   I need to ruminate on this image and decide if it needs any tweaking.  I see a few small changes I would like to make.  It is challenging when doing a demo because you are standing so close to the painting and there is no way to step back and stand it up for evaluation.  

  This is my friend Mary Spivey who was co-director with me at the Concord Gallery.  Both Mary and the Gallery are gone now, but I wanted to honor her for the wonderful person she was.

Sunday, January 10, 2016


I have been working most of the week on this image.  It is my example for the one day workshop at the end of the month in celebration of Gertrude Stein and her famous haircut.  We will be working with collage.  Since I have such a short period of time, I thought I would stick to one idea.  I call this technique paper quilting.  In fact, I incorporated some fabric in this one, along with hand made papers and some printed tissue paper.  Below is the sequence I followed.

This is the original image I found on the internet.   Next, I simplified the shapes in with the application iColorama.

Using this value pattern, I broke the face into simplified shapes, printed that image out on an a sheet of  paper, took it to the copy shop and enlarged it the size I wanted to work with.

I made a master tracing and  a second tracing where I numbered each shape and then proceeded to cut each shape out in various papers and fabrics and glued them down to my prepared substrate which I had coated with gesso and transferred the image.  There are some good tips and techniques I teach to do this whole process somewhat easily.  

Here is the completed collage.  I could have put in the eyes with ink and called it a day, but I can't leave anything alone.   At this stage, it does look like a quilt.  I wanted to add some paint. 

and here is the actual finished painting.   I think I might work on it a bit more but you get the idea.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016


JIM McDOWELL stage 1

This is the beginning of a digital painting of my wonderful friend, Jim, who passed away this year from cancer.  Working on this brings back warm memories and is very therapeutic.   It is going to take a lot more time than the other pieces I have done so far because it is more complicated.  I am experimenting with layers.  This one is expanding on my working knowledge of different brushes, opacities, saving colors, how to hold the stylus etc.  I was very frustrated at one point because I couldn't get the stylus Pencil to make a mark on the tablet.  I kept rechecking the settings and tried all sorts of changes.  I finally figured out I wasn't holding the stylus at the correct angle.  These devices are amazing but require one to spend some quality time acquiring some mastery.  Learning is always fun.  I don't think I will run out of opportunities for learning anytime soon.  

When I am satisfied with the results, I will send the digital file to his daughter.  They can then print out copies for any family member they wish.  

Sunday, January 3, 2016


I am going to be doing a one day workshop at the Fremont Art Association Gallery on Sunday, January 31 for 9AM to 4 PM as part of their celebration of the famous haircut of Gertrude Stein.  We will be combining collage with painting.  I have decided to teach what I call a paper quilt technique.  So, today my digital drawing is of Gertrude Stein as I prepare some examples for the workshop.  I am staying with the app Procreate for a long time so I can become familiar with various aspects of the program.  I tried to do this in layers but the stylus wouldn't work in the second layer.  I am sure it was something I was doing wrong but I didn't have the time to figure it out.  I tried using some brushes this time along with a pen (these are digital tools built into the program)  The likeness is not quite right yet, but I will get better after I have drawn a subject 3 or 4 times.  

Here is some background on this famous lady.   For details about the various events,  visit the web site

Gertrude Stein Shorn
Ninety years ago in January of 1926, one of the most
famous haircuts in history took place. On that day at the
beginning of a new year at 27 rue de Fleurus in Paris, Alice B.
Toklas cut off the long Edwardian tresses of writer, art collector
and salonnière Gertrude Stein, creating what would become one
of the most famous looks in literary history. Women had begun
bobbing their hair around 1915. Some researchers attribute
“the bob” as a convenience for women involved in the WWI war
effort, while others see it as an act reflecting a move to modern
By the 1920s, short hair for women had became the
standard, but Gertrude’s coiffeur was more masculine than most
of the hair styles. It was certainly a shock to her friends and
To commemorate this anniversary, the Fremont Art
Association will be featuring an exhibition called “Gertrude Stein
Shorn, “ which will include artworks inspired by Gertrude Stein
and her life-partner, Alice B. Toklas. Additionally, related events
including discussions, readings and art and poetry workshops
are planned. Gertrude had a neighborhood art salon where the
likes of Picasso, Matisse, Hemingway, and Man Ray met and
discussed art trends and challenged themselves to experiment
with new forms and mediums. All events are free to the public.
The core of the exhibition will be from the Stein-Toklas
collection of Hans R. Gallas, which has been amassed during the
last thirty years. Original artworks from around the world will
be shown, as well as vintage photographs and other
Items from Gallas’s collection have been included in
exhibitions in San Francisco, Washington DC, Edmonton, Paris,
Berlin, Oslo, Stockholm, Copenhagen and Sydney. Gallas is also
the author of a picture book, “Gertrude and Alice and Fritz and
Tom,” and lives in San Francisco with his partner.
Where better to celebrate this daring reinvention than at
the Fremont Art Association, south of Oakland, east of Palo
Alto, where Gertrude Stein’s cousin, Denny Stein, is President of
the Fremont Art Association. The FAA Gallery is in Niles, the
oldest part of Fremont, where Gertrude’s favorite actor, Charlie
Chaplin ran his movie studio, now operating as the Essanay
Theatre. There is plenty of parking. The Union City BART is the
closest stop.

Saturday, January 2, 2016


1/2/2016   "HARRIET"

So far I am staying on track with most of my goals.  My hope is that I will keep at it long enough for these activities to become ingrained habits that become what is called "automaticity".

This drawing was done in Procreate using the tool HB pencil.  I wanted to see the difference from yesterdays 6B pencil.  The Apple stylus is pressure sensitive, so if you push harder you will make a darker mark and just grazing the surface of the tablet lets you shade more lightly.  It seems the angle you hold the stylus will change the width of the mark.  Just like you would hold a pencil on its side to shade, the Apple Pencil Stylus seems to work the same way.   There is no battery indicator light on the stylus so there came a point where I was pushing and pushing and no marks were showing up.  I thought it was something I was doing wrong and then it occurred to me that the battery may have been used up.  It turns out the charging port on the iPad is very fast and in 15 secs. you can get another 30 minutes of drawing time.  My Google search also revealed where the information on the battery is kept.   I always feel so smug when I find out these little hidden "secrets" on my electronic devices.  I'm sure they are not really secrets but it feels like it to me.

It is always interesting to draw someone you know really well.   The hand on the drawing is too big and the side of her face needs a tiny adjustment but I am going to leave it alone.  Overall it is a good likeness.  This was from a screen shot I took when we were talking on Skype.  The camera in the computer is not overly kind and neither was I.  My sister is also an artist, so I must be prepared for payback!  I think I will pick someone who can't draw for my next victim tomorrow!

Friday, January 1, 2016


Digital Drawing with Procreate 
I can't believe 2016 is here already!  I usually have my goals set early in December but I was waiting to hear some new information regarding goal setting from Dr. Susan Peirce Thompson, who has a PhD in brain science and is a tenured college professor.  As always she came through with some fascinating information.  One of the new insights I got was that the purpose of goal setting is not to achieve the goal but to have the goal.  It helps one to focus  and gives us something to strive for.  This is how I feel about creating art, ie. the importance and greatest value is in the doing not the end result.   I set goals for all aspects of my life but for this blog, I only talk about art.  Have you set any art goals for yourself this year?  Please share.  Each of us can be an inspiration for someone else.

One of my art goals is to gain a greater mastery over digital art.  I invested in a new iPad Pro and the digital stylus pencil, mainly as a new drawing tool.  So, my goal is to do a digital piece of art every day.  So far, I am on track!!!  This drawing was done in the app Procreate and I decided to use the pencil tool, 6B.  I was very surprised at the variation of line I got by just altering the angle I was holding the stylus.    Already learning something new!!!!  This is exciting.

One of my other goals is to start teaching in my new studio space.  I only have room for 4 students, so if you are somewhere in the San Mateo, California area and are interested, please contact me for more details.  Right now I am planning it to be a 3 hour session every other week.  I will be posting on Facebook and emailing my personal lists but this is the first place I have shared this news.

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season and and my best wishes for a creative New Year, full of the joy that art brings to us.

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