Sunday, December 16, 2018


You know the old saying, "if you keep on doing what you are doing, you will keep on getting what you get".  Many people would like to break away from the same old same old but don't know what to do.  I have developed a fun workshop where I share some interesting ideas for making changes that result in new directions for artists to grow in their pursuit of personal expression.  One of the easiest changes is surface.  Here I have changed the surface and the media from the last set of paintings I shared using this image.  I have included all three together for comparison.  I enjoy the challenges of changing media.  If I paint this image again, I will change the scale to huge which will create its own challenges!

Monday, December 10, 2018



If you take Mike Bailey's 10-week class through Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society's workshop offering, "Watercolor Beyond the Obvious" he will have you go through your sketchbook and write on a number of pages in big, bold letters "WHAT MOOD DO YOU WANT?"   Why?  Because mood contributes significantly to content and content is what a painting is all about.  If you take the same image (one of the important concepts of the class) and change the mood, you have a very different response, a different message, a different content.  I have painted this same panorama from a scene my son photographed while on a boating excursion up in Washington State near the Canadian border.  By changing the color palette and the intensity, I created two different moods.  The composition and scale also contribute to the mood, but the color is the dominant contributor to the mood in these pieces.
These are small studies on Tyvek paper, in preparation for a larger painting.  

If you are curious about taking the workshop, it starts in January.  Just follow the link and check it out.  I have taken the class four times and it has been the most significant educational influence on my work.   Beginners to advanced painters gain significant value from this workshop. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2018


Inbetween getting ready for Open Studios, I was doing some experimental tests with some new paints that I purchased.   They have metal particles suspended in a mixture of binding and pigment.  When sprayed with an oxidizing chemical, they rust or create a verdigris.  I wanted to incorporate some of this into my paintings but needed to have a better idea of what I might expect on different surfaces, letting the paint dry first or adding the chemical spritz while still wet, using two coats, putting one metal pigment over another, etc.   I tried to create as many variables as I could think of.  The above image has tissue paper, Tyvek, watercolor paper, etc. with iron pigment, copper pigment, and bronze pigment.  I used some stencils and a bunch of various sized gears as a resist.  Now that all my holiday company has gone home, I can concentrate on doing some serious painting in the studio.  
This is a piece of Tyvek that I had printed previously with some abstract acrylic.   I wanted to see what adding to the surface with the metallic paints, oxidized, would look like. This piece will either get more layers of something or get torn up and incorporated into another work.  Saving paintings that are "dogs" allows you to work uninhibitedly in an experimental fashion without the fear of ruining something. Learning what not to do is often more valuable than learning what works.

Friday, November 16, 2018



This is a painting of my husband's eldest living brother who will turn 95 on Thursday.  For an explanation of the process I used to create this painting, you can check out my blog post here "NO BRUSH" PAINTING FINISHED

  The plan was to celebrate this wonderful milestone with a joyous celebration.  His sister's husband of 67 years, who was 92, passed away on Sunday, so we will be saying goodbye to a beloved family member on Thursday and honoring the patriarch of the family on Saturday.  The entire extended family will be together from all over the country which is a blessing.   We need to celebrate all the seasons of our life and acknowledge every milestone along the way.  In the winter of our lives, every day seems more precious.  The truth is no one knows how many days there will be, so share kindness, give joy, express love and appreciation and celebrate each other.

Friday, November 9, 2018



This is my entry for the American Watercolor Society for 2019.  I just entered the painting yesterday, so it was in my mind in sharp detail.  Today after Synagogue Services in remembrance of the Tree of Life Victims in Pittsburg I was sitting at a table having lunch and was introduced to a couple directly across from me.  Her head was turned in this exact position with red hair, green eyes, pert nose, and eye structure, she was the woman in the painting come to life!  The photo reference for the painting was taken in Paris almost 15 years ago so it must be her doppelganger.  I would have loved to take a photo of my new friend but it isn't allowed in the Synagogue on the Sabbath.  Next time we meet I will definitely snap a photo.

The American Watercolor Society international competition is the only one I am aware of that doesn't require the entry to be painted within the last few years.   Since they don't accept any mixed media in the entries, I am grateful to be able to reach back in time.  So much of my current work has collaged material embedded.   If you are thinking of entering, don't waste time, the deadline is fast approaching on Sunday, November 18th!

Friday, November 2, 2018


It has been a long time since I have posted on my blog.  Several of my internet friends have written me lovely notes expressing they have missed my sharing.  Thank you for your interest in my activities and continued support.  I am happy to report that it is my intention to post once a week on a regular basis from now on.  I am reading a fabulous book called Atomic Habits and have figured out a system to support my good intentions.   

I have been trying to organize my studio for an Open Studios weekend coming up in a few weeks.  I have included a poster of the event for those of you in the area who might be interested in stopping by.  Not only are there 30 artists working studios to visit but there are 5 major shows on display in the Museum as well.  George Rivera, the former curator of the Trident Museum in Santa Clara has a particularly exceptional exhibition in one of the main gallery rooms.  If you stop by my studio during the weekend and mention this blog, I will have a gift of a drawing for you.  Hope to see you then.

Saturday, March 10, 2018


In January I received the following email:

"Hi there Myrna, I am an A Level Art Student in the UK and I have felt very inspired by your mixed media drawing (particularly the image attached). I am planning a final piece based on it and completing a study on your work. I was just wondered where, or from whom, did you find your inspiration for this image and your other mixed media drawings/ paintings.
Many thanks, Chris Black"

How wonderful that the internet has made possible amazing connections across the world and across generations!  One of the advantages of age is experiencing the profound changes in the world and how we engage with each other and remaining in awe of what is possible today (not to mention the challenge of keeping up!) Art can be the common thread that brings us together at every age.

I was very flattered that Christian was interested in my art so I sent him information on the particular image he was wanting to study.  Fortunately for him, it was a piece I had lots of documentation on including a photo someone had taken while I was creating the piece on stage at Kanuga Art Retreat in North Carolina.   

The other day, Chris sent me an update on his project with images of the finished project. I received his permission to share with all of you the great job he did and the amazing final piece.   I hope you are able to view the photos and enlarge them so you can read the text that accompany his work.  

Chris Black UK art study

What I particularly appreciate about this image is that it is uniquely Chris.  He took from my work some ideas and inspiration and added it to his own ideas and made a very original piece of art.  
I hope that Chris will be able to make a trip to San Francisco some day and will look me up.  I would love to show him off and show him around.  

Saturday, February 17, 2018


I started this painting last Sunday as a demo for the Las Gatos Art Association.  It is watercolor over what I like to call reconstructed Tyvek.  I tear up old paintings that didn't go well that were painted on Tyvek and stick them down over other old painting "dogs" thus eliminating storage of two ugly works and salvaging the paper while creating a very intriguing surface to make a new start.   My oldest son was visiting from San Diego and was able to attend.  He always gives me such great feedback.  Sitting in the audience, he has a chance to see and hear what I cannot.  I always like to draw the image in front of the group so they will perhaps have more confidence in direct drawing rather than tracing or projecting an image.  It turns out no one in the audience could actually see what I had drawn so they were looking at what appeared to be a blank piece of paper for 15 minutes!!  I guess I will pre-draw the next one.   It's a shame but I need to keep the color light so I can easily make any necessary corrections.  The other good tip he gave me was to demonstrate the actual creation of reconstructed Tyvek instead of just describing it.   People were confused by my explanation, so my bad! 

I will be giving another demo for the Los Altos Art Club on Monday, March 12th and the Hillview Community Center at 7PM.  I hope some of you can stop by and see the new and improved performance!

I finished up the painting this week.  I normally use a muted neutral background color but red seemed to be calling to me.  Red is a color of emotion and power, perhaps anger and rage.  At the very least it is a color of strength.  Anger and impotent rage was the response I was feeling to the school shootings this past week and the political torture for the past year.  When I am painting. I am in the zone and the world drops away.  My unconscious emotions show up on the page.  Someone asked me to teach how I achieve the emotional content in my portraits.  I can't because it just shows up and there is no formula or technique.  That's why you need to paint what you love and your soul will show up, too.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018


When you do a series based on the same image, you know eventually something special is going to show up.  So every day you do something and most of the time it is ordinary.   I do try to push the envelope each time and explore something a little different.  Here I have elongated the face because my iPhone screen is long and narrow so my digital drawings needed to follow that format.   This is a painting I started today. The surface was a collage I had created a few years ago.  I liked it so much that I saved it for just the right image to place on top.  I thought this one would work.  I made sure that the papers showed through in the finished work.  Sometimes i wind up covering over the beautiful papers  and I hate when that happens.  You can click on the image to see it in better detail.

Here are the digital images I had fun with this week.  The first one is using a script for the continuous line. 

Saturday, January 13, 2018


Every year around December, I take some quiet time to contemplate what I would like to focus on for the coming year.   I consider all aspects of my life.  this helps me to focus and set some concrete action plans to move forward.  Art is a major activity in my life and I have found by limiting my activity to a few ideas, I actually expand my growth and accomplish more than just drifting along with no direction.

Lately I have discovered some exciting artists who have ideas I want to incorporate into my work.  They work in mixed media and in abstract ways.  These are areas I wish to grow my knowledge.   Of course, for me, drawing and portraiture will be part of the mix.  Robyn Mcclendon is one of the artists I have been watching on YouTube videos .   She has been doing a 365 day practice for a number of years now.  She has inspired me to do a daily practice for the coming year.  So far, I have not missed a day!!!!  Maybe it is a little early to celebrate!

Jane Davies is the other artist I absolutely love!!   I have signed up to take an on-line course with her starting in February.  This will be an interesting adventure.  

This is the image I have decided to concentrate on for the coming year.  I have a few variations if I run out of steam.  It is an image of my son that I love and have done several major paintings based on this image.  It continues to be a favorite.   I am calling it Man of the Year.  I have decided to do a drawing a day for the year.  I am convinced that daily practice will produce great rewards.  The last time I did a years' worth of drawings was perhaps my most productive, so I am counting on this practice to fulfill my goals   The other goal I wish to pursue is doing a small abstract collage each day.  I can only accomplish the collage on the days I am in my studio.  So far I have combined the daily drawing with the collage when in the studio.  The best part of this daily project is being able to take a few minutes at the end of the day and do a quick drawing with my finger on my iPhone if I need to accomplish my goal.  It makes it a "no excuses" goal.  

Here are the collage and drawing combos I have done so far.

Here are the digital images done on my iPad Pro with a stylus 

And last are my end of the day, little finger drawings done on my iPhone.

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