Friday, February 16, 2024

One Thing Leads to Another

 On a Snowy Day  in 2014 . . .

And I Would Truly Enjoy Hearing Your Reactions

Nine years ago we had a February winter storm when our grandson, Noah, was just the right age to spend a day jumping and sledding and making snow angels. Facebook recently popped a great photo from 2014 as a memory. 

I decided this photo was just too interesting to ignore. It is a great composition, light hearted and full of energy. I have also been wanting to work on my transparent watercolor skills. So here is my week of studies, perhaps to help me create a larger painting.

( I have continued to put gold gesso on paper to continue my gouache work, but took a break this week to do just plain watercolor.)

Three Paintings Using Different Approaches

Based on Realism

This first painting was sort of a warm up. I used a more realistic approach and made the mistake of using a cadmium yellow wash to warm up the snow. I don't like the results.

Next Try: More Abstract

To me this is much fresher and joyful. It also led me to decide to go one step further with abstract and patterns.

Abstract and Patterns

I love the clean lines of this. It needs to be a book cover, don't you think?

But does it need one more thing?


I think the foot prints add a completion to the story. I haven't painted them yet, but should I?

I would love to hear which style you find most appealing.

Friday, February 9, 2024

Be Brave, But Have Fun

So many artists I've taken workshops with come to mind at various times. Yesterday it was Carla O'Conner and Frank Webb.  Carla's workshop came up when I discovered a full sheet of watercolor paper covered with gold gesso. Carla mostly paints on gessoed paper (not only gold gesso) with watercolor and gouache. This is something that I would have never thought of on my own. 

I applied the gold gesso to this paper in 2020 after the Holiday Farm Fire!

For Frank's influence there is always the #1--It's only paper.  This is what gives this artist bravery. If a painting doesn't turn out well, think of #1. But he also talked about how to make your art come from your own hand. If working from a photo, do a sketch, then draw it, then paint. Each time you recreate it, it becomes your own original work. 

So yesterday I went out to the studio with those two artists in mind--paint with gouache on gold gesso and make it my own! What better way to follow these influencers than take my own painting and recreate it on gold gesso.  So I pulled out my "One Must Always Wear Pearls" as my inspiration for a new painting. 

She tells a story, is painted with gouache, but has a lot of realism. I decided to do a new version of this painting, but with a more abstract design. Below you will see the development of this piece. One of the advantages of working this way (gouache on gessoed paper) is that one can totally remove a part or all of the paint with a wet paper towel. 

This is how I left the painting in the studio today. Mike liked it better before the white circles turned into faces (too illustrative). Yes the arm in the foreground is overly big, yet I like the amount of light it creates. Oh so many things could be different, but most importantly, I had fun! 

Now from Gone with the Wind--Tomorrow is another day!

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Creating Equals Experimenting

For more than a year now I have been painting faces using only black and white gouache. One way I have finished the background is with a flat color.

He's a Carhartt Man

Then I've tried creating a background that tells more of the story.

One Must Always Wear Pearls

Now I am struggling to find an interesting way to add to a portrait without such a storytelling background, yet something that adds interest. Below you can see more of my experimenting with a face and background. 

Trial and Error

Open Window

Finally arriving today with the soft greens floating around her face, (notice green eyes) I have a story. You know that moment when you open a window and smell cool fresh air? It can almost feel like the outdoors is coming right in and surrounding you.

Comments are welcome and often very helpful to me as I struggle through the process of creating something that communicates to my viewers!

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

I Am a Multilingual Artist

Okay, I only speak English in speech and writing, but I speak many languages with my art. This is an issue I've dealt with in my art creation over and over. What is my language? Many artists have their own voice and rarely deviate from that language. In the many series that I've painted over the years, I do stay with one story or idea for a period of time. Then I see a new and different path, a language I have not yet spoken. I'm not talking about ways to apply paint, products to use, etc. I'm referring how to make my paper express and speak about what's in my brain and heart. 

For many years in October, I attended Katherine Chang Liu's art retreat in California. I always received  encouragement from Katherine to go in a certain art direction. Each October, I would come back fueled with a year's energy to paint a series. Last year I began painting faces and I will continue to paint these black and white portraits . . .

On the Street

But it's October! Sadly, Katherine has retired from teaching and I am on my own. What to do?

I am heading down a path I have been fearful of: Abstract. For years this idea of "Web of Worries" has been on my mind. You know, those thoughts that keep you awake at night. At first I added this to some of my portraits.


But now I am working toward a true abstract. Here is what came off the easel yesterday. As always, I would love to hear from you!!

Web of Worries: Field of Woes

Friday, September 29, 2023

Is it Possible to Transform Transparent Watercolor?

Years of painting with transparent watercolor, gouache, collage and acrylic have given me oodles of ways to fix a painting. Yet there still many things I haven't tried. So this post shows one way to transform a painting if the artist (me) might be willing to mess around, going from one style of art to another.

A few weeks ago I met a young woman who's looks were so stunning I asked if I could take her picture. I explained that I was an artist and might use the photo for a painting. She was flattered and gave her consent to both the photo and the potential painting.

I began  the portrait with transparent watercolor. The more I painted, the more I got a Persian vibe from her features.

I spent some time looking at some fabrics from the region. Many of the patterns included a paisley design which led me to creating a new stamp for the background.

Once that was done, I was ready to work farther on the painting.

I chose a scarf to cover some of her head, some dark and light in the background. Finally I used my newly designed stamp to create a more interesting backdrop for this lovely face.

There was certainly a time that I would have patted my own back and said, "Job well done." But . . .

I wanted a different look, one that is more in keeping with the recent back and white portraits I've been painting. So I began to work on breaking away from transparent to gouache (an opaque watercolor paint).

My Process

I first put a layer of diluted gesso (a thin, white paint mixture consisting of a binder mixed with chalk, gypsum, pigment, or a combination of these substances) over the entire painting.

I still had enough of the figure to use as I moved on repainting the face in black and white (mixed to create various grays) gouache. 

Once I was satisfied with the newly painted face, I layered frog tape over the entire face and scarf. Because the tape is semi-transparent, I could gently cut around the figure with an exacto knife. If one is careful, it only cuts the tape and not the paper.

With the figure protected, I could work on the background with ease. I didn't have to paint so carefully and I could make the stamp appear behind the woman. Finally I removed the tape and . . .


Saturday, September 16, 2023

The Last Days of Summer

I know some folks consider summer ending at the end of August, but when it is 86-90 degrees in September, I consider it summer. Unfortunately the wild fires that have surrounded us bring in so much smoke that it is most unpleasant to be outdoors. However, it doesn't keep our plant life from enjoying the warmth.

When we rebuilt our home, I really wanted a small pond outside my studio
and here is why!!

The smoky skies also add color to the sky creating gorgeous sunrises and sunsets.

Raya's backdrop is eye-catching. 

And, thankfully, the house and studio have good air filtering systems, so spending some time creating art is another way to spend these air heavy days.

 Don't forget rafting!! The first week or two of September has always been our favorite time to raft the Wild and Scenic Rogue River with our rafting family. And luckily the skies over us were clear, the days were warm and the star-filled night sky was spectacular. 

**You may remember that 3 years ago we had another great Rogue raft trip, and the day after the trip ended, our house burned down in the Holiday Farm Fire. It's hard to keep those memories at bay!

Here are some pictorial highlights of our raft trip:

This year Mike and I slept on cots.
This is the night before launch when we set the cots up on our trailer.

Only our first night at Almeda Campground allowed fires. I love the lighting!

And we're off! Day 1 of 5 days.

Did you know Barbie can also be a kayaker?

There is always a bit of looking forward to the next day's rapids and camp spots.

We have the best of dinners!

Mike thought he might see a UFO!
Oh wait, it's a helicopter with a bucket.
There is no escaping the wildfires.  

White water kayaking at its finest!

Heading into Mule Creek Canyon, known for the Cofee Pot!
It percolates your vessel then spits it out!

Amazing rocks

And then there is this breathe-taking reflexion. 

We saw very few deer.

And quite a number of herons.

At the end of our trip, we have our eyes peeled to spot the Haiku Tree.
Yes, it is still there growing out of one rock!

Awesome Autumn wishes to you all!

Monday, August 7, 2023

My Blog Has a Wonderful Memory

A Gift to Dan and Mary
(A painting of an event they hosted in their garden before the Holiday Farm Fire burned down their home.)

A few weeks ago, after the summer rush of family, friends and activities, I decided to frame some new paintings I'd started as demos and finished at home. I also had this painting I'd created years ago that I'd been saving to frame and give as a give to our friends, Dan and Mary.

Sometimes traditional matting and framing just doesn't seem right as I wanted a more modern look for this art. This modern look I was seeking means mounting (gluing) the paintings on to a wooden cradle board. That process also means finishing the wood sides and covering the raw wood with a product to attach the painting to.

*A cradled panel is a wooden frame with a board attached to it. They accept almost any medium and are excellent for showcasing detailed artwork. Cradled panels are ideal for painting, sculpture, mounting, and so much more. The durable wooden structure can prevent paintings from warping over time.

I had done this several times over the years, but not recently. I began to question my memory for doing this process correctly. Then a brain lightbulb went off! I was pretty sure I had written the details of this process in a blog. Quickly I opened my blogger and searched for "cradle".  Sure enough I found my blog titled: How to Mount a Painting to a Cradle--Step by Step, posted on March 2, 2013. Wow! All I needed from 10 years ago!

Before putting the art down, it must be spray varnished with a UV protection spray. Then on to prepping the wood cradle.

Protect the edges of the panels before painting on the GAC-100


Determine whether you want to spray paint or stain and varnish the edges of the panels.

Apply the glue to the painting and press any bubbles out with a brayer.

Weigh it down for several hours or overnight

And now the big reveal! Four beautifully mounted paintings ready to hang on a wall.
The Great Escape
Mixed Media, 12x24

Just a Touch of Turquoise
Mixed Media, 15x21.5

Into the Sunset
Mixed Media, 10x30

Mixed Media, 21.5x15

The Garden Party
Watercolor, 15x21.5