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

Monday, July 10, 2023

How to Start and When to Finish

I have been using the same melamine boards to support my watercolor papers for years. A while ago I looked at the surface and was fasciated by the pattern on the white top of the board that had developed  over time.

Shapes are all over the place, but this one spoke to me saying, "create something from my wear and tear."

Of course I have mulled it over and over in my mind for a few weeks and finally decided to create an abstract piece of art based on the pattern. From there I had to determine what skills to pull out of my creative painter's tool box. 

Step One: Copy the pattern onto a piece of paper and cut it out. 

Step Two: Attach the shape onto a piece of Watercolor Paper and use my mouth atomizer to spray a background. I chose to use gray and black paints for the spraying process.

Tracing paper was not the best choice to use as the original cut out.  The tracing paper curled up around the edges and allowed a bit of sprayed paint to soften the edges. 

Step Three:  Choose a color palette and plan for the saved paper. I decided to go to my comfortable way to create, black and white and red. Then on with pattern making.

Step Four:  Add the red, but where? Slowly I began adding the reds here and there. I took my time, stepping back, and moving forward to paint one small shape, then repeat. 

I was not channeling Mondrian intentionally, but as I finished (or is it?) I certainly saw a connection.

I'd love to hear your thoughts. 

Thursday, July 6, 2023

I Blinked and Two Months Flew By

 It was a surprise today when I pulled up my Blog to see that my last posting was 2 months ago. When so much is packed into one's life, days become weeks and weeks become months. But it has been interesting and active times!


Having the opening of my solo show in Newport, Oregon was one of the big events. The series, Educate the Girls of the World represents 16 paintings focusing on my greatest interests education, equality, and women's rights. After matting and framing all of these pieces, I was able to display and see all of this series in one place. 

Newport Visual Art Center scheduled a reception and art talk, which was a first for me. This exhibit has also been given an extension and will be on display until the end of August. If you are at the coast, drop in and see my art. Olive Street Gallery is in the Performing Arts Center, 777 W Olive St, Newport, OR 97365, Tues-Fri, 10am-5pm. From there, the exhibit will move on to Albany for the month of September.

Tied in with my show was a wonderful workshop at the Visual Art Center. The classroom is the best ever, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. I also have to give kudos to the great group of artist who took the workshop.


Mike and I were thrilled to have our daughter Rachel and two children here for most of the month of June. Her husband even flew out for one week. Since their move to Florida, our visits will be few and far between. Here are some of the highlights of their visit.

The Swing

For 30 years the crazy high swing was one of the remarkable things on our property. A photo of me swinging on it after the 2020 fire was even published in the Register Guard Newspaper. All were amazed that the swing survived the fire. But it was not forever. A windstorm came along several months later and blew down a tree which tore the swing down. But since it was a property icon, we hired a tree climbing friend to put up a new one hanging from about 70 feet. It's not the same, yet greatly enjoyed as you can see!


Living on the McKenzie River, there are so many wonderful hikes to take. Although I wasn't along on all of them, here are a few photos on the McKenzie River Trail.

Bullfrogs and Other Pond Activities

Killing bullfrogs (with a pellet gun) in our ponds is a popular activity (especially among males). Whether you approve or not, the bullfrogs are invasive and kill off our native animals. 

Catching and releasing salamanders and putting tadpoles in a glass jar to watch them develop are other country kid things to do.

Games, Cooking, Gardening, and Shooting Arrows

There was nary a boring or quiet moment with a wide variety of activities going on through the month here.

And that about wraps it up. If you've made it all the way to the end of this very long post, here is your reward.