Friday, November 1, 2013

Watercolor Class

Wow the students in my watercolor class are really good artists! They are  keeping me on my toes to stay ahead of them. So far on week one they did a daylily. I hope you can see the photos, I did not do a very good job of taking the pictures and the paintings are much better than what is showing.

Week two, we worked on a single iris.

Week 3, we worked on a very pale pink rhodie. This is my painting, there were no finished pieces in class, but I will get some before the class schedule ends.

Week four, we did a sunflower. The first painting is mine. The last three are from students.

Week five, we worked on a stargazer lily. This was the painting that I did.


And week six we will be doing a red poppy painting. Underneath the painting is the pattern for this painting. You may download and have on your paper before class is you have time.

Week seven I will demonstrate mounting and varnishing a watercolor painting. It is the last class so any unfinished paintings can be finished.

I will take more photo's of finished pieces to post. This has been a great class and a lot of fun to teach. There are absolute beginners in the class and they are showing real talent. From beginners to professional the key to a great finished painting is to believe in yourself. Every painting is not a masterpiece, it is however a learning experience, that will make you better on the next painting and all the paintings after that. Never give up, the more you create, the easier is will be to believe in yourself. You can do it, I believe in you.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Watercolor Class 11-15-13

What a great group of ladies in the watercolor class! Each and every one is doing a great job on their paintings. I wanted to take photo's of the finished daylily paintings this week but forgot my camera, hopefully some will be brought back to class next week. This week was a much harder project, a picatee type iris. A lot of work to get done in a 2 hour period so most of the paintings were not finished so I can't wait to see what they look like next week.

Next week we will start a painting of a very pale pink rhodie. This piece is difficult because you want to be able to keep the pale translucency of the petals, but still get enough darkness there to show dimension. Because I have not finished my painting yet I've shown you the line drawing made from the photo we will be working from. A big Thank you to Liz Reynolds who sent me this photo a few years ago. I have held on to it because I knew at some point it would make a great painting.

Next week I will remember to take my camera and get photos of the iris and hopefully at least one or two of the daylilies.

Thursday, October 3, 2013


Classes started last Tuesday and I was happy to see some familiar faces and lots of new, eager to learn faces! It's going to be a fun semester!

I plan the first class to show me where everyone is at and what I will need to do for each student. There are real newbies, no experience in painting or drawing, and really proficient artists sharpening their skills. One of the things that make these classes so much fun is diversity of talent. There were groans from the new students when I announced that the last 30 to 20 minutes of class would be a critique, and smiles from the returning students. At the end of the class and critique there were smiles all the way around. It is a great learning experience for everyone. Not only do you get to see everyone's work, you also get input on your piece and encouragement to get better. I really want everyone involved to leave the class feeling that they have accomplished something. Not every piece of art is a masterpiece, nor is it ever a complete failure, but every piece of art IS a learning experience.

It is important to develop confidence in yourself as an artist. Criticism of your art is not a criticism of you as a person, and should be taken as food for thought and growth for the next piece of art. I am more apt to keep a drawing or painting that didn't work as I am one that did. I want to see where my error was and how I did it so I do not repeat it.

The drawing class had a pretty difficult still life to render, and everyone did a really good job.

The first photo is of the actual set up and the second is the drawing done by Bertha Moore.  Both photo's were taken by Bertha. Doing a rendering of a still life is excellent for sharpening your skills of observation, composition, and values.

In next weeks class we will be working on composition.

Composition: 1) the nature of something's ingredients or constituents; the way in which a whole or mixture is made up. 2) the action of putting things together; formation or construction. 3) a thing composed of various elements. 

What does that mean to you the artist? The ingredients are first, shape and value, then line and color. How these pieces fit together gives a good indication of the success or failure of the piece of art. A good composition brings the viewer into the story and engages them emotionally. It sounds daunting doesn't it, but Arthur Wesley Dow developed an almost foolproof way of learning composition. 

Who was Arthur Wesley Dow? He was an American painter, printmaker, photographer and influential arts educator, 1857 to 1922. In his lifetime art was taught by the time honored approach of imitation. Students learned by copying what had been done before.  Dow broke down the teaching of art to three structural elements:  1)Line, referring to boundaries of shapes and the interrelations of lines and spaces,  2)Notan, a Japanese word meaning "dark, light", referring to the quantity of light reflected, or the massing of tones of different values, and  3)Color, referring to quality of light.  

We will be dealing with line first, creating shapes and spacing, then add Notan. Dark and light massing will reveal the mistakes in spacing.  Color will reveal the weakness of dark and light.  So as you can see these three structural elements are intimately related. You will find that it is much easier than it sounds and the improvement in your compositions will show immediately.

Next week in the watercolor class we will be working on an iris. Ruffled edges can sometimes be a bit of a challenge but in the end you have a lovely painting to call your own! Hopefully next week I will have some paintings to post from the class, so if you finish the daylily I hope you bring it with you to class for all to see and admire.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Back to School

Well this had to be one of the most beautiful summers in the Pacific Northwest, but like all good things it had to come to an end and the rains have come! Time to get busy painting, and I don't mean walls. I have been teaching drawing classes at Green River College for the past few years and this year in addition to a drawing class I will be teaching a class in two of my favorite things. . .watercolor and flowers. It was a great year for flowers this year and I collected a great selection of photos for reference in the class. Class starts next Tuesday and the first painting we will be doing is a daylily. This plant is right next to my  driveway and blooms for weeks, the flowers are huge with multiple buds on each stem, the color is a bright gold that glows even on the dreariest days. Here is the photo that the class will be working from.

And here is the painting that I did from this photo.

It is on 300# Arches hot press paper, using Daniel Smith watercolors. The new element I am doing with my watercolors is mounting the painting and varnishing the piece. This eliminates the need for glass, matts and framing. I am mounting the painting using the Ampersan clayboard, on this piece the wooden rocker is 2" thick, so the piece can be hung or it will sit very securely on any flat surface. Another added benefit is that the rocker can be color coordinated with the painting. It takes a little time and effort but so far I really like the results.

I will be posting the photo and resulting painting every week and possibly if the students will allow it, photos of some of their paintings too.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


This is a portrait of a Elliot, a Bernese Mountain dog, who "works" at Cobber's Pet Pantry. He greats the customers who come in the door with a vigorous wag of the tail and a friendly grin. Cobber's is a great new addition to our community.  They carry top of the line holistic and healthy food for pets, plus a very talented groomer on staff, and a self service washing area for pets. They will be doing dog training classes and seminars on healthy feeding. Now if you had asked me 6 months ago about what good food for Elvis and Albert I would have named a top of the line pet food I purchased at the local grocery store. Four months ago Elvis was diagnosed with a very rapid cancer, the vet said we could try surgery and chemo but with this type of cancer chances were slim. I made the choice not to put Elvis through that, but would attempt another course of action. The internet has a lot of information to go through but it was well worth the time. My friend Rick found a holistic Dr. and he prescribed several holistic medications. Elvis has lived several months beyond what the original vet thought he would, and as of this last Monday, the tumor is now half the size it was and he is doing very well!! Now back to Cobber's, they carry the foods that have attributed to Elvis's good health. Even Albert has been switched over, and has lost a much needed few pounds and gained a beautiful coat.

Elliot works with Cobber, meeting and greeting customers at the store, over and above their enthusiastic greeting it is well worth the time to visit Cobber's Pet Pantry if you have a cat or dog you care about.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Quite a bit!

I have been painting quite a bit, teaching quite a bit and learning quite a bit. My creative juices have been in overdrive the past few months and I have new work to prove it. As you can probably tell oil has been my medium of choice lately. There are many pros to working in oil, not the least of which is I love the smell! Oils seems to be the "Queen" of mediums, to the uninitiated painting in oils means you are a "real artist". All other mediums are for the "dabblers" in art. One of many reasons I like to paint in oils is that with the advent of the gallery stretched canvases there is no need to frame. That leads to an advantage for both the painter and the purchaser. The artists can price the piece without the addition of the frame cost, the buyer has the option of hanging the art without a frame or framing the piece in their taste. A win win situation for both. I really like the thicker canvases, it gives me four extra surfaces to be creative with, and I like the added dimension of the piece when it is hanging on the wall. Not to mention the availability to set the paintings on shelves or table tops without using an easel. But since Spring has hit the Pacific Northwest with beautiful blooming colors everywhere I miss my watercolors, the lightness and jewel like quality of the colors. Well I am so excited to have found a way to exhibit my watercolors without frames! It is a varnishing technique that does not damage the watercolor but in fact enhances the colors! No more frames, no more glass! The varnish made by Golden, comes in either matt or gloss so you have a choice in the way the finished product will look. I will have one finished this week and will post.

My current work is on display at the Arts Alive! Gallery, 1429 Cole Street, Enumclaw, WA. I will be demonstrating pet portrait painting at the Arts Alive! Gallery next month at the Enumclaw Summer Wine Walk on May 11, Saturday, from 5 to 9. And again at the Gallery on May 18th from 10 to 5, for the Studio Tour. June 1st I will be at the new pet store in town, Cobber's, 1549 Blake Street, in Enumclaw, again demonstrating pet portraiture.
I am doing a solo exhibit at the Town Hall in Enumclaw, August 7th thru September 4.
I also teach two classes at the Arts Alive! Gallery, Open Studio on Monday and Wednesdays from noon until 3. This is a great class because I get to work with all different mediums and projects. Artists bring in what ever they are working on and get instruction and guidance on their projects. These are on going classes.
I also teach drawing classes at Green River Community College, Enumclaw campus. This summer I will be doing a plein aire class and in the fall a drawing class and a watercolor class. 
So looks like a busy Spring and Summer!!

This is a portrait of Reeses, brother of James. (portrait up last time). I figured out the reason for his name after painting him. His under fur is the color of creamy peanut butter and outer hair like chocolate, thus the name Reeses. And he really does have those beautiful green eyes.  Two beautiful cats!

Friday, March 1, 2013


Cats have always fascinated me. Over the years I have been adopted by many, many felines, no two alike in colors, patterns or personalities. Some with pedigrees, others genetic mysteries but with a regal sense of who they were. They make wonderful models to paint and draw, perfect in every pose, sometimes exciting, pensive, and always mysterious!

This is a portrait of James, for this particular painting I worked from a photograph taken by the owner, Susan. It is a great photo because it shows a lot of the personality. I love the bow tie!! James is a very serious senior, quite sure he deserves only the best I'm sure. When I do a portrait I start with the eyes, if I can get the eyes correct the rest of the painting usually goes together quickly. I also try to use the same color of the eyes in the background. That helps make the eyes pop even more. Since the eyes are the heart of the painting, I always make the pupils larger and round. The painting is on a 6" x 6" x 1-1/2" thick gallery wrapped canvas. The thicker canvas lets me continue the painting on the sides. I like to do that because then the painting does not have to be framed, it can be hung on the wall or it will sit very securely on a flat surface.

I had a lot of fun painting James because he has such a beautiful face and I love his coloring!

This is the photo of James that I worked from for the portrait.

Here is the finished portrait of the very handsome James.

Monday, February 11, 2013

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Once upon a time a long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, (Chicago, Illinois). Okay maybe not that long ago and perhaps not that far away, just seems that way some days. There have been two constants in my life, my love of art and my love of animals. I always pictured myself as I aged to end up being known as a "crazy cat lady". Although I was fascinated by cats at a young age, they "followed" me home a lot, I didn't get my first cat until I was 17. My High School art teacher gave me a Siamese cat for graduation. Being a gift from my teacher made him acceptable to my mother and Bootsie became my soul companion. Over the years I have had many cats, all individuals, all beautiful, each one special, and all remembered with love. There are days when I probably couldn't tell you what I had for breakfast the day before, but I could tell you the name of every cat I have ever been owned by. At one point there were 63 cats and kittens in my care. Not to worry, I hadn't lost my mind, I had a Cattery. I bred and showed Himalayan cats, today they are known as color point Persians. I was honored to have bred and raised the top seal point male in the Midwest, Tmu-Ra's Nonesuch. Now you are probably wondering where am I going with this story, well, during this same time I also owned and operated "The Cat House Boutique". It was a traveling boutique, going to cat shows and selling different cat items including hand painted cat items, jewelry, wall hangings, jackets etc. I really loved painting all the different breeds of cats.  Time marched on and some things became less relevant, the Boutique being one. Not my cats, never the cats, always at least one graced my life.

Now to the point of this whole story, Albert has sort of demanded that I paint him. Of course who could say no to a face like that, not me, he knows where I sleep. I enjoy painting him so much that I started painting another cat, then another, and now have at least a dozen little cat portraits, from finished oil paintings to the pencil drawing on canvas.

Kalico Kitty
All of the paintings are on 6" x 6" x 1.5" stretched canvas. I really like painting on the thicker canvases, I do continue the painting down the sides of the canvas so they don't have to be framed. The thicker canvases can stand alone on a shelf without an easel or hung on the wall.I find that cat's eyes are wonderful windows into their personality, so I tend to make them a little larger than they are in reality. It is fun to place them at different angles and falling off the canvas, it makes the negative space much more interesting. So you can't really call them exact portraits, more so personality portraits. Well whatever you want to call them, I am having a ball painting my little four footed friends!!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

16 x 20, oil

I have lived in the Pacific Northwest for thirteen years, for the past ten years when driving into Seattle I would pass this farm. In the spring there would be little white lambs everywhere in the pasture. I would stop and watch their antics, running and jumping, so carefree in their youth. As the years passed the flock got smaller and smaller until today there are a dozen at most, no more lambs in the spring. No one lives in the house, but the remaining sheep can be seen wandering the property. The windows are gone in the house and there is a large hole in the roof in the back, but the house still stands, sturdy, stoically waiting for someone to come and care for it again. The farm buildings are amazing, all in great condition, no sagging roofs or missing boards, maybe a coat of paint. Every time I drove past the farm I would tell myself what a great painting it would make, and then drive on. The property is posted and sits on two well traveled roads so plein air would have been difficult. So using my handy dandy iphone camera, I started taking photos. I went back three times to get more photo's from different angles. This painting ended up being a combination from several views of the farm. In this painting the farm buildings and the land are my focal point. I want to do another painting of this farm with the house being more prominent. In front of the house is a large apple tree, this last fall it was loaded with bright red apples. The house still stands, the tree still produces, a tribute to the farmer who built the house and planted the tree.

This is the first landscape I have done in probably fifteen years. Back when I was painting them it was of the flat lands in the Midwest, so this was a bit of a challenge to get the rolling land. The trees are different in both shape and color, not as much red here. I like the way the pastures have a glowing gold color, fading almost to white the farther away we see. I really enjoyed doing a landscape and will do more!