Saturday, February 28, 2009


Bonnie just sent me these photos she took on Friday. I wish she could have been in one of them, but I appreciate having them. We didn't get any paintings finished but have lots of starts with great texture on the paper. Notice the "face" that appeared in the tray from the paint! How mysterious is that?

I spent most of the day being a tourist in La Jolla and then we went into San Diego to the San Diego Watercolor Society building. Wow! It is wonderful. I wish we had such a place in the Bay Area. We are now north of L.A. and will be home tomorrow night. It's been a wonderful, full, exciting and exhausting week.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


I tried to create a slide show for today's paintings but the slide website didn't want to upload the photos. I got tired of trying so I am just posting them straight on the blog. Slide shows are so much more fun. I will try to create an entire slide show of the whole weeks work later. Just click on any of the images to see them enlarged and with more detail.

We worked on color combinations today. It turned out to be more challenging than anticipated. Tomorrow is the final element we will be working with....Texture (my personal favorite). It should be a wild and crazy time. A great finale! Stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Everyone really had fun with the LINE ELEMENT today. I shared painting on Tyvek and now I have ardent fans of this paper. Everyone is stretching, experimenting and growing. If you are wondering about some of the unusual color combinations, each person is limited to one red, one yellow and one blue selected randomly from their pile of each primary color. Some of the color combo's make for strange mixtures but others turned out surprisingly good. Part of the fun. Each day there is a random selection for some aspect of the painting. Tomorrow will be focused on color. The combinations should be more traditional but each person will have a unique color formula to work with. Can't wait to see what they come up with!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Well, finally the internet was connected at my son's apartment this morning, so I am now back on line! What an addiction to these mechanical devices I have developed! Withdrawal was becoming acute. We have done two days of the workshop so far. Yesterday was all drawing and today we attempted to complete two paintings. That was a little ambitious but we should be caught up by tomorrow at the close of class. It is a small but enthusiastic group and everyone is doing great work. I only had a chance to photograph my demo and two other paintings by the two Kathy's in the class. We started with "Shape" paintings and I have assigned "Morrie" as the image we all are using for the entire week. Tomorrow I hope to post a slide show of the work so far.

My son's apartment is right down the road from the Mormon Temple in San Diego. It is a spectacular edifice and I hope to be able to photograph it tomorrow or the next day and share it with all of you. San Diego is balmy and gorgeous.

Saturday, February 21, 2009


While I am on the road, I thought I would share the first gesso transfer painting I did. I think this process came about because I didn't want to waste the gesso that coated the wax paper after I used it to texture another painting. Then when I was done with transferring the gesso to the watercolor paper, I thought the wax paper had possibilities as a collage material! Talk about recycling! I have saved it but I'm not sure how wax paper will hold up under matt medium. Knowing me, I will probably give it a try and see what happens.

This is a favorite of mine. I am considering entering it into a competition. The only negative is that it is a very small painting. I think I will go for it anyway! I'm looking for a title. If you have an idea send it my way by sharing in the comments section.

Friday, February 20, 2009


While going through all my art work in preparation for the upcoming workshop, I came across some paintings I wanted to photograph again, outside, for better color resolution. This one I don't remember photographing before. Every once in a while I like to throw some paint on the paper in a random manner. I think I tried to pour paint on this one but I don't have that technique down very well and the paint does weird things. I decided to put this image on top of the pour. It was a challenge because of the two light spots but I decided it looked like shadow and sunshine in the garden. Definitely lemonade time!

We leave early tomorrow and I am taking the laptop, so I will be able to post as the workshop progresses. Can't wait.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


In the middle of everything, I just had to paint today. I was packing for the workshop and came across a sheet of watercolor paper that had been prepped in one of my favorite ways. You need two sheets of watercolor paper, at least one of which is a failed painting. Apply gesso to one sheet of the paper then brayer a sheet of wax paper over the wet gesso. Lift off the wet wax paper sheet and transfer the gesso from the wax paper to the failed painting. Keep doing that until you have a textural buildup of gesso on the failed painting leaving some of the old painting showing through in areas. I like to use the new press and seal wrap, as well. It creates a very intersting texture ...tiny little dots. Let everything dry. Now you have two pieces of paper with interesting texture that you can put watercolor or acrylic on.

That is how this piece started out. I tried drawing with Pebeo frisket the other day using the larger oiler boiler from Cheap Joe's. The lines were too big. I knew the smaller bottle had too fine of a needle. I tried the bottle from Tap Plastics and it was perfect!! The trick is to have another bottle of clear water handy. You need to rinse the needle out before the frisket dries by forcing water through it. Just transfer the cap to the clear water bottle and squeeze the water through in the sink. Works like a charm. I limited myself to just rose red deep, Paynes Grey and chrome yellow deep. I thought I would get a decent green but chrome yellow deep and Payne's Grey make a khaki color. It does have more color because of the previous painting showing through. After I finished painting and pulled off the frisket, I went over most of the lines with color leaving some white in the hat.

Having gesso on part of the paper and not all allows the paint to act differently, getting absorbed into the untreated paper and sitting on top of the gesso. It creates a random gestural surface that I love. That is what created the background in the last painting, too. Different paper, different effect.

I think this frisket drawing concept has lots of potential. I will work with it more in the future. I love how the hat turned out. The colors pretty much reflect the weather today. Overcast with rain off and on.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


When I was in grade school I was always picked last for team sports, the first to sit down at spelling and math bees (thank G-d for spell check and calculators) so I feel very blessed to be picked to receive these blog awards. Today I was picked by two different people for the same award. Thank you Chris Beck and Rhonda Carpenter. The problem is choosing others to pass it on. So, I am going to take an idea from another blog site I read, and choose all of you! Because without your interest in this little site and participation there would be nothing to recognize. I truly appreciate all the generosity everyone has shown and hope to continue this dialogue between you and me for a long time to come. In the meantime, I think I shall become a no-tag zone and let lots of other deserving blogs gain some attention.

I think I was supposed to list 7 things I love so in my last opportunity to share this type of information, I shall share 7 things I hate, in no particular order:

Okay, then. Back to art. When I was experimenting with mono-printing I had some extra pieces of different paper around, so I tried it on this piece of Tyvek (11" x 8.5"). Then I put some of the gesso texture on it and I think a little of the dirty glaze. I decided to add an ink drawing today based on yesterday's sketches. I piled on another layer, this time watercolor. I added a little of the ink in areas to get a darker value. It was an enjoyable way to spend the afternoon.

Friday, February 13, 2009


First of all, I want to thank all of you for your expressions of empathy and sympathy over my cold. I am almost never, ever sick but once in awhile something takes hold. I am in the lingering annoying hacking cough stage which should continue for a few more days. In the meantime, I have been busy working on some sketches for the upcoming workshop, finding and printing examples, creating handouts, outlines, yadda yadda yadda. I didn't feel much like painting and I am not at all motivated to finish the painting I started in the workshop. It has serious mistakes, which is fine, but not worth spending more time and paint on. After waiting so long to learn the secret of Karen's technique, I find I have moved on and don't want to paint in such a realistic manner! One of life's little ironies. I did gain a lot in watching her. I think what I will take away is how purposeful each brush stroke is in execution and deliberate color.

Two new books arrived from Amazon which I am anxious to work with but that will have to wait until April when I will have lots of time to experiment and really play. The books are Creative Paint Workshop for Mixed-Media Artist by Ann Baldwin and Rethinking Acrylic. .. radical solutions for exploiting the worlds most versatile medium by Patti Brady.

My turn to sit at the Gallery again tomorrow, so I should have a chance to read and flag all the things I want to go back to when time permits.

Monday, February 9, 2009


Other than painting myself, nothing is more enjoyable to me than to watch artists paint! There is something magical about it. This was Karen's demo for the last day of the workshop. She already had the drawing and under painting completed, so we watched her bring this image to life this morning. The amazing thing is how small this painting is (1/2 sheet, I think) considering the detail in the face, etc. Her smallest brush is a 16 and she usually works with a 20 or larger.

I probably shouldn't have gone but I didn't want to miss this demo. Besides, all my painting gear was left in the classroom. I woke up with a headcold so I tried to stay at a distance from others and left without painting in the afternoon. I didn't want to share my cold with my friend Sally who was set up next to me. I knew if I left I wouldn't paint at home. I was right. Hopefully, I will complete the painting I started. It's not great but I will practice some of the techniques on it. There were some very good paintings being developed in the class. Sorry I wasn't able to see them finished. Over all it was a great 3 days. I enjoy taking workshops as well at teaching them. I always gain a new perspective as a student that helps me as a teacher. This workshop was no exception.

Sunday, February 8, 2009


Karen's painting turned out beautifully and it was fun to see her develop it from start to finish. Of course, then it was our turn to try to do the same. This is as far as I got. Most of it is very tight. Too tight for me. I did start to loosen up at the very last minute and see possibilities for merging some of her technique with my sensibilities for how I want to paint. The edges of each shape are the most difficult part of all. At least knowing what to look for and having a semblance of an idea how to go about it is a start. It is that darn "practice, practice, practice" mantra rearing it's ugly head again. No getting around it. At least it is fun practicing, practicing, practicing.

Saturday, February 7, 2009


I decided at the last minute to take a 3 day workshop with Karen Frey through the Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society. Karen is a favorite of mine...both her work and as a person. She is a tiny woman with a huge talent. Her paintings are to drool over. They must be seen in person to fully appreciate the richness of the paint, the gorgeous mixtures of color and value and the unusual edges she develops through her unique style of painting wet into wet. I actually studied with Karen for two years at her home studio in Oakland. I wanted to learn the "secrets" to this way of painting. Well, in two years I never saw her paint a painting from start to finish. In fact, she only "demoed" little bits here and there to help a student understand something. Karen was a great teacher and I learned a lot from her. She was the one who urged me to start drawing directly with a brush and helped me in many ways. In general, I think it is smart to have students develop their own style...but, darn it, how does she do it? I still wanted to see her paint. I now have my wish and I am very excited. Click on the post title to go to Karen's website.

Here is Karen's painting after day 1. She has a simple grid marked on the photo and on the board. She draws with a brush using a weak solution of Manganese Blue. Next she goes over the entire painting with a very diluted wash saving the whites. She never uses masking fluid and paints around the whites. This stage is harder than it looks. She softens edges as needed. That is as far as we got today. Tomorrow she will finish the painting and then it is our turn.

Here is my painting after the "sissy wash" has been applied, along with the original photo I took and then how it looked after I put it through a few filters in Photoshop Elements. I used the photoshop version to do the underpainting. It feels good to be painting again after days of office work.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


Starting with a mid value makes things easier. You just have to put in the darks and the lights and voila! there it is. This is from a life drawing session as the Palo Alto Center awhile back. I have been very busy working but not doing much art the past week so I am going into the archives to find something I haven't posted before. This was done on grey pastel paper with charcoal and white pastel. I liked that both models were in view. You set up first and then the models show up. By then, you are locked into your space. It isn't always the view you would like. I lucked out this time.

The demo last night turned out to be a lecture/slide show by John Salminen and very informative plus entertaining. He talked a lot about his process and technique shared his artistic journey. He is very charming, delightful man. The last slide was the painting he submitted to AWS this year.....that was rejected! He wanted the members of the audience who didn't have their painting selected to be in the CWA annual this year to feel better. Quite a few of the people you see every year in AWS didn't make it this year. I like being in good company! I was more disappointed in not having an excuse to go to New York than I was in not making the show. There's always next year. I guess I had better get painting!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


This week John Salminen is in San Francisco. He judged the CWA National Show on Sunday and is giving a workshop this week. I wasn't able to take the workshop but plan to go to the California Watercolor Society Meeting tomorrow night for his demonstration. I have no idea what he will demo as his famous style is waaaaay to complicated to do anything in less than 2 hours. The painting "Hatful of Dreams" was the first painting I got into a national show and it was CWA! It was done in the saturated wet technique. This is my youngest son in his Halloween costume (minus the painted on mustache) when he was about 5. He will be 40 in April. Makes me want to cry when I think how fast the time has flown by. He still is very cute!

Sunday, February 1, 2009


I was determined to paint an acceptable (to me) painting using this palette from Nina Leland's new color book. I created each palette by using water bottle caps and loading each cap with the appropriate color, writing the color name on the bottom and putting them in a "gift card tin" I got a Michael's for $1. The tins come in different patterns, so I can distinguish one palette from the other. They hold all but one color from the palette. I should get an extra tin to put in all the lone colors from the different palettes.

Anyway, the first attempt to use this set of colors resulted in an ugly mess. I was trying to force the colors to go against their innate nature. This palette has no ability to create dramatic darks, and most of the colors are weak pigments, have a "waxy" feel and are semi opaque and granular. It's not called a "high key" palette for nothin!

I was able to keep the color mixtures from getting too dull and I didn't try to go dark. I was able to darken the Cobalt Blue a little. I used 5 of the colors in the palette: Cobalt Blue, Manganese Blue Hue, Cobalt Violet, Aureolin Yellow and Rose Madder. I'm beginning to think 5 colors is a good number to work with in any painting. It creates a natural harmony but I think these colors are not for me. A little too "sweet".

I think I will try a painting with the other pigments in this palette that were left out this time and see what I get.

I did create a number of drawings and value studies of this image. I was surprised how quickly I was able to simplify the subject and stylize it. It happened almost immediately! Wow, this practice, practice, practice idea has something going for it.

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