Wednesday, December 19, 2012


iPad Mini Sketchbook Setup #1 
iPad Mini Sketchbook Setup inside view

iPad Mini Sketchbook Setup 

iPad Mini Sketchbook Setup side view
I thought the iPad would be the perfect travel sketching tool but the glare on the screen made it impossible to use outdoors in bright light.  I kept thinking about how to create a practical way to shield the light.  Nothing useful ever came to mind.  In the meantime, I have purchased an iPad Mini for outside the house because I found the iPad weighing my purse down with all the other "stuff" we women deem necessary to have at all times!  So now I have one for travel and one for the house.  Extravagant, I know, but loving it!!!

Last night I was cleaning out a box and came across a beautiful small leather zippered notebook I haven't used in years.  It was designed to hold a pad of paper, pen, calculator etc.  In a flash of insight, I realized my iPad Mini would fit in this case and I thought of a way to use it for sketching in daylight.  The same idea would work with a larger zippered notebook for the full size iPad.

Here are the few simple items needed for this idea:  Zippered notebook (the zipper keeps the iPad from slipping out of the case) a bending straw to hold the lid in place, a cleaning cloth, a few makeup sponges to create a slight angle (optional) a piece of rubber shelf lining to keep the iPad from slipping around inside the case while drawing (optional) a stylus for drawing (optional but recommended).  

I am going out today and try my new invention.  Can't wait!!!!!!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


This is another addition to my beautiful leather sketchbook.  On Orcas Island it is lush with woodlands.  One of the common trees is the Manzanita which has a rich burnt sienna colored bark.  This is a little sketch of the bark peeling on the trunk.  I was fortunate to receive a prize of M Graham watercolor paints from the Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society annual show.  The colors are rich and luminous. I decided to try them in the sketchbook fresh out of the tube.  Loved the feel and handling of the paint.

Thursday, December 6, 2012


I don't have as much time as I would like to paint, but I thought I would continue to fill up my beautiful leather sketchbook with a painting based on some photos I took over Thanksgiving.  The Oak trees have very rough bark and amazing twisting branches.  They are so much more fun to paint than the straight limbed variety of tree.  I think I will devote this sketchbook to my adventures with my children.    I can sit in my studio and relive the beauty and the fun and have a special keepsake when I have filled all the pages.  

Thursday, November 29, 2012


This is a painting I did based on a photograph I took in Bordeaux.  When I travel, I love to collect images of the people I see.  I also love to sketch people while sitting in cafes, or in markets, and other interesting places.  

I have been thinking about giving a workshop in Italy where we would have the opportunity to paint some of the local residents who would come and sit for us.  Along with instruction on drawing people in settings where they will be moving, not posing.  Naturally, there will be plenty of time for touring, shopping and let us not forget eating!

I will be putting together a list of interested artists.  I will keep them informed of details of future plans.  If you would be interested in having your name on the list, send me an e-mail at and I will keep you updated.

Sunday, November 25, 2012




We are back home from a wonderful Thanksgiving week where we had the blessing of being with all of our children and grandchildren.  Everyone still enjoys each other's company.  In today's world where everyone is scattered around the country and around the world, not everyone can gather the clan together for special holidays.  We feel very fortunate and appreciative.  

Unlike myself, my children LOVE hiking and wanting to be part of the group experience, I go, too.  I am the only one out of breath dragging up a steep incline.  They are always there to lend a hand or an arm in the more precarious areas.  In spite of myself, I get some needed exercise and a good aerobic workout  plus some photos of beautiful areas.  No time to paint during the hike but I have been adding to my new leather bound sketchbook while sitting comfortably in front of my iPad working from some of the photos.  The Oak trees in California have the most amazing twisted limbs which feel so expressive and fun to draw and paint.  As an aside, for those of you not familiar with Spanish names, the name Conejo is pronounced KA-NAY-HOE.  It translates as rabbit.  

I hope all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving shared with special people you care about be it family or friends.

Sunday, November 11, 2012


Susie Shipman hand made leather bound watercolor sketchbook (binding)

Susie Shipman Leather bound watercolor sketchbook front cover




My youngest son bought a beautiful secluded vacation home on Orcas Island, Washington.  We spent the week up there enjoying the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest.  This involved taking hikes which are often challenging for me.  My boys watch out for me and help me with the steep and/or slippery spots.  These little watercolor paintings were done from photographs I took from the hikes.  The sketchbook was a gift from my children and I had the wonderful good fortune to meet the woman, Susie Shipman, who hand makes these fabulous books.  The paper is Saunders Waterford from England and I am able to paint on both sides without buckling.  She told me she used to sell them all over but has scaled back and now I believe they are only available on Orcas Island or you can order from her website.  If you want more information, here is a link for Susie  . The size I have is 5 x 7 and, as you can see, I was able to flatten out the page and paint across the paper for a 2 page spread.  

Barely back from our great adventure up North and I am preparing to drive to Sacramento tomorrow for a demo for the Watercolor Artists of Sacramento Horizons Inc.  It will be around 2PM when I start and is being held at the Sacramento Fine Arts Center.  If you are in the area, I hope you will be able to stop by.   For those of you who can't make the drive, I will post the results on Tuesday.

Monday, October 29, 2012


HMMM...Stage 3
Working with liquid acrylic, I am slowly working my way forward.  I am not sure how much of the collage I want to remain.  I also would like it to be more stylized, (abstracted) but not sure I don't need to start out with a more abstracted drawing.  I think this is the benefit of multiple paintings based on the same image.  I may be trying to explore too many things at once.  Overall, I think the process has potential.  I will keep going and see where it leads.  Here is a detail where you can see the collage and glazed color better.

HMMM... Stage 3 detail

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


HMMM...Stage 2
This has been interesting to observe how the first stage is impacting the next.  I need to finish the hand and deal with the shirt, then on to the next stage.  Here is a closeup of this step in the process.

HMMM...Detail stage 2

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

HMMM...Stage 1

I decided I wanted to try being more systematic in my approach, so I actually wrote down the steps I wanted to work through.  In the past, I usually start with an abstract collage background and draw the image on top.  This series I am embarking on starts with a drawing first, then collage, then paint and more drawing.  I decided to use markers for the drawing.  I wanted a grisaille image that would impact the value of the collage papers.  I also plan to do the entire collage in one temperature and then add in the opposite strategically in only 10 or 20% of the image.  Since I work so much in the cool side I decided to make this one a warm dominance.  I got so involved that I forgot to photograph the drawing before I started in with the collage.  This is a full sheet of watercolor 300 lb hot press.  

Monday, October 15, 2012


Thursday night from 5 to 7 PM is the Reception for the latest installation by Art Liaison's at Mistral Restaurant in Redwood Shores.  I am excited to be participating along with 3 other artists.  This is the first time all four of my large self portraits have hung at the same time side by side.  It is pretty intense!!!  The fifth piece I am exhibiting is also visually very dramatic.  You can see it when you walk into the restaurant if you look straight ahead.  It fits on the wall between the two restrooms.  It just might scare the......oh well, you get the idea!  Hope some of you can make it.  The paintings will be up through early January, so if Thursday doesn't work out, perhaps you can stop by another time.

Friday, October 12, 2012



I will be conducting a two day, jam packed with techniques, workshop at the Sunnyvale Art Gallery on  Friday and Saturday, October 25th and 26th.  I will be showing lots of ways to use cheap foam sheets to make printing materials you can collage into your work.  The other day I will be explaining many different ways to use aluminum foil in your paintings.  I hope you can join in the fun.  You can sign up by calling 408-737-8188.  Check out their website

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


Back in the studio, finally!  Here is the demo I did for FALC.  I finished it yesterday.  By putting it on the floor and looking down on it, upside down, I was able to concentrate on the values and movement without being distracted by the image.  This helped me make some important decisions.  It's not just about the face, all of the space has to work together.

The 50/50 show is over and I picked up my paintings on Sunday.  Twelve were sold during the show.  I am thinking I would like to be able to sell the rest on the blog but I am not sure how to set up the page.  I will let every one know when I have it worked out.  In the meantime, if there is a particular image you want to reserve, let me know.  

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Here is the demo I did for the Fine Art League of Cupertino last night.  A nice group and I enjoyed sharing some of my ideas with them.    It is about half done.  I hope to finish it today.  The surface has a subtle influence on the painting.  I am thinking I would have liked a stronger background surface.  Next time, I will use a heavier gesso and see what happens.

Friday, September 7, 2012


Here is the painting I started of my two sisters and myself.  I had run into a problem with the sister on the left.  In the original photo, she had a big smile on her face.  I wanted a different atmosphere so I needed a serious expression.  Luckily, I spent the holiday weekend with her and was able to take some photos from the same angle.  I brought a copy of the photograph so I would get it right.  Now I can finish this painting.  

Two exciting things to share.  I will be demonstrating using the watercolor sticks on a gesso textured surface on Monday for the Fine Arts League of Cupertino (FALC) so if you are in the area, be sure and come to the meeting.  You can check their website for time and directions.

I am also going to do a two day workshop for the SUNNYVALE  ART GALLERY on Friday, October 26 and Saturday, October 27.  We will be focusing on ways to create texture with aluminum foil and creating printing plates with foam and some interesting tools.  If you like texture in your work, this should be very exciting.  The location is on El Camino in Sunnyvale, California.  You can call them at 408-737-8188 for more details if you are interested.  

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


This week I am taking a workshop from the fabulous Derek Gores.  His collaged images made from magazines are spectacular and I was excited that the Santa Clara Watercolor Society was bringing him to San Jose.  My goal is to learn his process and then, somehow, incorporate it into what I do.  This process is amazingly difficult.  Just tearing paper is maddening.  It will tear fairly straight in one direction, but is almost impossible to control the tear in the other direction.  I desperately wanted to cheat and use a scissors!  I started carefully watching exactly how Derek was tearing the papers and got a little better at it.  Using text as form and value is an exciting element in this kind of work.  Derek's transitions are amazing and everyone in the workshop will never be able to look at a magazine in the same way again. 

 This was a large canvas and I am pleased that I was able to finish it in three days.  Tomorrow I will do a smaller square.  He suggests doing a simple single object like his demo of a shoe which I have posted below.  It is tempting, but this is a signature object for him and I don't want to do something so associated with him.  I decided to do a head (surprise!) with the idea in mind that I will then combine it in some way with other things to create my own look.  I don't know exactly what that might be, but I have a few ideas rattling around in my head.  I will probably do a number of different combinations just to see how it might work.  This has been a very enjoyable workshop and Derek is a very knowledgable artists and excellent instructor.  Everyone is producing amazing work.

Here is how this piece looked after a few hours of work.  You can see part of the drawing that hasn't been covered yet.

This is Derek's demo of his iconic fashion shoe which was our demo for today.  If you click on the image it will come up in a new screen and you can see all the fun details.  


Sunday, August 26, 2012


I have been working on this painting the last few days.  I have 3 photos of myself with my two sisters taken over the last 20 years which I love.  I keep them together on my desk.  This is based on the earliest photo because of the composition, but I am adding a few years just because I want it to reflect us more as we are today.  In the photo we have big smiles on faces but I don't like to paint happy smiley faces, so it is a little tricky adjusting the facial muscles.  I also changed the lighting and moved the faces closer together.  While I am working on the painting I am thinking about titles.  So far, I have "The 3 Graces" and "Mom Always Liked You Best".  

I am particularly enjoying painting on the surface I created.  I took a failed Tyvek painting and covered it with gesso, then using a sponge roller, smoothed out the streaks and then stamped into the wet gesso and let it dry.  It took a long time because the paper is not absorbent.   I am using watercolor sticks (not crayons) for the color.  I love being able to draw and scribble, then work it with a wet brush.  The blue drawing was done with a diluted mixture of Dr. Martin's Hydrus liquid watercolor in Cobalt Blue.

Here is a close up of the surface and paint.  If you want to experiment with Tyvek, the post office has envelopes you can practice with.  Here is a company where you can order small quantities if you decide you like this interesting paper.

detail SISTERS

Saturday, August 25, 2012



I thought I would start with my display!  It was an exciting night with so much to see....70 artists times 50 images!  After quickly making the rounds to see everything,  I was feeling dizzy but then realized it was probably the wine!   I sold seven of these images and was surprised at people's favorites.  Mine are still on the wall.  A good lesson not to influence others with your opinion.  The show is up for awhile so if you are in the area, be sure and stop by.  The Sanchez Art Center is open only Friday, Saturday and Sunday.   I photographed some of my favorites before the sold ones were removed.  I didn't get a chance to photograph all of my favorites, but here are a few so you can get some idea of the scope of the show.  It was a wonderful crowd and I want to thank those who were able to come.  I hope you loved the show.
This work is by my good friend Leslie Lambert.  I love her ink drawings which are all done from live model sessions.  They looked fabulous as a grouping.  The addition of areas of color adds to the appeal.

50/50 CUPS
This next series had to do with a single cup.  Each piece individually was okay but I think the aggregate was much more compelling.  This was a real favorite of mine but I would like to see it sold as one.  This is an excellent example of the power of a series.  Often we are looking for something unique or exciting to paint when a simple everyday object is really all we need!

This next series was all about color.  I don't know if you can really appreciate it in this small photo but each panel had a wonderful glow. Again, a very simple construct using color imaginatively.

I totally loved this series.  This was another that I would love to keep as a complete set.  It combined collage and some pencil work with a wonderful whimsical appeal.

This set of panels was beautiful.  Each image was interesting in it's own right, but wonderful together.  I always thought sun prints were blue, so I loved seeing the variety of color.

This work was most intriguing.  Each layer looked like it had been laser cut and collaged over the previous layer.  There were 3 or 4 layers to each piece.  Gorgeous!

Saturday, August 18, 2012




It was a gorgeous day, so Jerry and I decided to drive west over the mountain to Half Moon Bay and have lunch before we headed up the coast to Pacifica to the Sanchez Art Center.  When we arrived, I drew a number out of a basket to determine where I would be in the art center.  It turned out to be in the central hall of the main building.  I was happy with that space.  They handed you a cup with nails in it and some wall putty to secure the bottom of each panel to the wall.  We brought the hammer and a level.  There were several people walking around giving guidance, suggestions and help where needed.  I really appreciated my husband helping me with this, especially the top row which would have required a step stool for me.  I was a little unhappy with the lighting but was told they don't set the lighting until after the entire show is up.  There are two more days available for artists to bring their work.  I was going to use the first photo in my blurb book but I realize there is a piece of blue tape that has to be removed.  I think I will reprint my bio with a bigger font size because it is up high and it is too difficult to read the way it is.  I can switch it out right before the show.  I am happy with the final effect and can't wait for opening night.   It should be fabulous with everyone's work up.  I hope some of you can make it to the show.

Friday, August 17, 2012


50/50 #50 
50/50 (50)
Math was never my thing but I used to be able to count to 50 without any trouble.  Not anymore!  I am missing an image and I can't figure out which one I left out.  Maybe tomorrow when I post the installation, one of you will find the culprit and point it out to me.  

I thought I was going to have trouble with this background but I think it worked quite well.  The red spots add an interesting dimension to the face and by glazing the green with sepia, it quieted the bright green down.  I thought about glazing the white highlights with a neutral or warm color but decided to just leave it the way it is.  A good piece to finish the series with.  

Thursday, August 16, 2012


50/50 #48

The background on today's tile was created by placing a lace patterned washi paper over the watercolor paper and scraping heavy gloss gel through the openings with an old credit card.  The washi paper was then lifted off of the watercolor paper  and I glued it down on another board using more gloss gel.  This second image has the glued washi lace paper on it.  Side by side you can see the different effect with the same paper. The pattern seems to dominate much more with the first process.  There are a number of different patterns available and I love to add to my collection!

Today, I signed my name to the back of each panel and dated it.  I am ready and anxious to get the installation up.  


50/50 #47

50/50 (47)
This background was created by using gesso on a commercial stamp.  White gesso on white paper can create a subtle effect if glazed like this one with a light wash.  If I used a much darker color, the texture would stand out much more.  The part of the paper without the gesso absorbs the paint much more, creating the contrast.  It's good to learn which techniques don't create so much contrast with the final image but do create some additional interest to the piece.

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