Friday, December 28, 2012

Here is a quote about art that I really like.
Art is not just about what's great or expensive or scandalous or famous. It's a mirror we hold up that looks different to everyone who sees it, and whose beauty lies as much in us, and our capacity to dream... (Michael Kimmelman)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

New paintings, new series

I've been working on a new series of paintings the last few months and since it's still exciting and interesting to me, I can't imagine when it will end. I'm working on three or four more of them right now. There are no titles yet which is always a long process for me.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Featuring artist Lila Lewis Irving

I have found a wonderful artist I would like to share with everyone and here is the link to her web site.

There are also some very good videos on Youtube. Here is a link to Youtube. The best one is here and is about 14 minutes long. She's been painting for 50 years and earlier this year had a retrospective at The Art Gallery of Mississauga, where she talks about the impact of a class with Helen Frankenthaler.

Here is an interview where she talks about finding her tools.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Today the temperatures are supposed to be over 100 degrees so I did a little yard work early and plan on being in the house the rest of the day. I love the Coleus I have in my yard. I buy them every year from Tsugawa Nursery in Woodland WA. I also get the lime green sweet potato vine for a nice contrast. My lilies were just wonderful this year even though they started late and the heat now has done them in.

I went to Camano Island WA to visit my son last week. I hadn't been there before and it is a beautiful place. The photos below are of us getting ready for a motorcycle ride. It was warm but one still needs to "suit up" to ride. The motorcycle is a classic Moto Guzzi and that's about all I know about it. We had a good time and the roads were quiet and country side and water views were just the best. I had a great time on the island and enjoyed the wonderful food Trish cooked for us.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Critique workshop

Here are some examples of "failed" paintings before and after being worked on by everyone. We all agreed there were changes. If the change was for the better or not is up to the viewer!

Katherine's "failed" painting before
My before "failed" painting

Ann's before "failed" painting

Some photos of our critique group work shop July 30th to August 2nd.

Our spacious studio
Lunch on the patio
Ann's birthday cake from Barbara
The birthday girl
Using a handful of markers exercise
A photo from the other side of the room
Our exercise painting on plywood

Last week for four days my critique group held a self led abstract painting workshop at one member's spacious art studio. We had a great time painting together and we all learned new things from each other.

Monday Nikki had us draw a different type of composition from a bucket. We were to use a triad of primary colors plus black and white. Afterwards we all tried to guess which composition they were using. Our guessing was fairly close.

Monday afternoon Katherine set up stations in the room for each of us to try in order to get our creative juices flowing. We did Sumi sketches with Asian brushes and Sumi ink, drew with a fist full of pens, did small Notan sketches, and experimented with an analogous color wheel which is different from any traditional color wheel. Katherine brought several examples of pastel paintings using several of the analogous schemes.

Katherine (and Ann) had hand outs which sure supplemented my sketchy notes.

Other practices to get creativity flowing from Katherine: Sketch or doodle while watching TV, pick a word and sketch it, sketch to unfamiliar music, look at other artist's blogs, begin an idea book, look at books and magazines and read about artists we admire. The two main things that are very helpful are to be bold and fearless plus SHOW UP to the work.

Several of us brought books we especially liked and I see some time spent on Amazon very soon.

Tuesday morning I did a class on how to gild using composition gold leaf. Mainly use a glue that stays tacky and seal with a solvent based spray so the leaf won't tarnish.

Wednesday morning Collin brought several pieces of cut up plywood for us to work on with her technique. Wet down the board with a very wet sponge and using acrylic paint sort of tint various parts and wipe off with the sponge and keep going from very light to darker. Can finish with oil pastels. In the afternoon Bonnie requested we each bring a "failed" painting and let each of us work on them. I planned on being very organized and show the various stages and the changes on everyone's pieces. That would be six paintings changed by five artists. I've posted some photos at the top of this post but it won't be every piece and every change. We had fun working with abandon at the beginning. As time went on we became more cautious and some of us stopped sooner since we liked what had been done previously and didn't feel we could improve it too much. We had a great time and saw new possibilities in what others had done to our paintings.

Thursday morning Ann showed us her process using texture and pattern. Ann likes to concentrate on ways to do layers with color and texture. She had many examples and had made up pieces of various textures for us to experiment on using various colors. I especially liked the veiling one can do with Winsor and Newton clear gesso. It works especially well on a dark background and Ann had some samples on black board for us to use.

We all learned so much from each other! We brought our lunches and ate on the back
patio. Katherine's neighbor Barbara baked a beautiful chocolate cake for us which lasted for two lunches. She is now officially known as the Pastry Goddess.

The main thing we took away was the rare luxury of working together and spending several hours at a time together over the four days. Usually we meet once a month for three or four hours.

Monday, July 16, 2012

A quote for the day

While I'm busy with "things that must be done" rather than painting, here is a good quote.

Harold Thurman Whitman wrote:

"Don't ask yourself what the world needs

Ask yourself what makes you come alive

And then go and do that

Because what the world needs

Is people who have come alive."

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Lately I've been on the trail to find some new inspiration for my painting. It was a very circular trail I found. I've learned inspiration is out there all around us. But you can't buy, beg, borrow or gain it "out there". Inspiration is already present when you pick up the brush or show up to paint. You might pause, wait and watch for a while before actually putting on the first colors.

I've always been interested in creativity and inspiration and read many books on these topics. I've also read advice from other artists who say just show up and let the work begin. Some how that seemed too easy. But maybe it is the best way and I just need to get out of my own way and start!

Here's a quote from Jack London: "You cannot wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club". Or maybe not?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Red-Green & Blue-Yellow/Colors you can't see

Here is a very interesting article about so called "forbidden" colors from Life's Little Mysteries.

At the end of the article are some more interesting links especially tracking an artist who is on acid.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Tea and pastry tour of Portland

Wednesday my daughter and brother and I went on a tour of bakeries and a wonderful tea store. I did some on line research and marked up the map and off we went.

We met at the Pearl bakery at 8th and Couch at 9 AM. They only had one macaron in the case and wouldn't have others until later in the day so I didn't test them yet. Part of the purpose of this tour was to research the best macaron in Portland. Well, someone has to do it! We walked to Nuvrei bakery at 10th and Flanders and bought macarons to take with us to test later. Then on over to 23rd avenue for the macarons at Moonstruck chocolates. They didn't have any chocolate ones but we found very heavily salted caramel flavor as well as pistachio and mocha. Next to Two Tarts bakery at 23rd and Kearney where they had a poppy seed macaron and would have more flavors in the afternoon. Their macarons were the smallest ones we found.

Then we went to Steven Smith Teamaker at 1626 NW Thurman where they are open Monday through Friday from 9 to 5. This was the highlight of our tour. We had two tea tastings of four flights each so we tasted eight teas. I bought three of them. We brought our cookies from Two Tarts with us to eat with the tea although I think they provide some kind of a plain cookie too. Be sure to look at their blog. It was great fun and since the tea is made perfectly we really had the best of the flavors.

So shortly it would be time to think about lunch and we decided to move over to the east side of town. We really weren't hungry but something savory was sounding good by this time. We traveled on some streets I'm sure I've never been on and I've lived in the Portland area for a very long time. It was so helpful to have my daughter's iPhone with the map app. I see an iPhone in my future.

We made a quick stop at Little T Baker at 26th and SE Division. It was busy and no macarons but it looks like a good bakery and good place for lunch. It was one of the top three bakeries for 2011. The other two are Ken's Bakery and The Pearl.

Lunch was at Petite Provence near 48th and Division. They were very busy and again no macarons. So we were forced to take home our desserts to eat later. The meal was very good and they have a large selection of pastries of various kinds.

I had energy for one more place and we went to the Jade Bistro and Teahouse at 7912 SE 13th in Sellwood. It looks like a good place for lunch too. Their prices for macarons were the best at $1.25 each. They were rated #1 for macarons on Yelp. The decor was very nice and even after the regular lunch hour they were very busy.

I know this is an art focused blog and I am returning to painting soon since I'm recovering from an earlier knee surgery. The only problem is I still don't know my limits or where to draw the line on activities. The only way to find out is to push a little and see what happens. So Wednesday's driving and walking was another good test of my stamina. I have a ways to go yet.

Final score for the best macarons in Portland is a tie between Nuvrei and Moonstruck. I've also had the macarons at Ken's Bakery and Pix and they are no contest compared to the above two places.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Art show at Aurora Gallery/Art Walk

Friday night May 4th at the Aurora Gallery in Vancouver WA our critique group ) or Portland Women in Abstract Media, had a wonderful show which is up through May 28th. The turn out was very good and the streets and galleries were jumping with activity.

The art was well lighted and the gallery owner did the hanging which is always a bonus. Even though we might have seen all the paintings previously it is always a delight to see them hanging together as a group in a gallery setting. Good times!

We had a meeting before the reception and then went to the gallery. Most of us visited the other galleries in Vancouver which are all within walking distance.

I have photos of everyone standing by some of their paintings except I missed Katherine!

Katherine Van Schoohoven
Jan Heigh
Ann Fullerton
Nikki Dilbeck
Marge Rood
Collin Murphy
Bonnie Garrett

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Art Instruction DVDs

I haven't been painting while I'm recuperating but I have been watching artist's instructional DVDs. I'm not going to switch from mainly acrylic paints to watercolor or gouache but there is something to be learned from each teacher even if they are not abstract instructors.

A friend loaned me some DVDs and I bought two new ones so I've had a good time seeing a variety of techniques. I just cannot rank them since they are all so different.

The DVDs from left to right starting with the top row:
Creative Break Out, The Art of Freedom by Bill Buchman.
Some new ideas and art products. Especially liked seeing him fling a large brush with Sumi ink and leave his "signature".
Acrylic Revolution by Nancy Reyner
Mainly one technique and one image to make acrylic look like watercolor or oil paint.
A Designed Approach to Abstraction by John Salminen
Enjoy watching him paint. His take on abstract is too meticulous for me though.
Mastering Yupo by George James
Not sure I want to paint on Yupo or not but maybe as an experiment. Otherwise his handling of paint and painting advice is very good.
Acrylic Abstract Painting: The Evolving Image by Virginia Cobb
She starts and finishes three paintings totally without a plan at the beginning. There are large and small changes before she finishes. She had a lot to say about painting and being an artist. I would like to take a class from her. You don't have to like her finished product to learn something useful to whatever your process might be.
Secret Tricks to Pouring Acrylic by Nancy Reyner
Rather than using an epoxy finish she shows how to use mainly GAC 800 for a similar finish since it doesn't crack when dried. I always learn more about Golden products when I see one of her videos. I don't think I would like to finish a large painting with this technique. She briefly talks about Clear Tar Gel and Self Leveling Gel as a substitute for GAC 800 since the GAC 800 has a slight yellow tint but the other two do not.
Start Abstract Painting Today by Robert Burridge
Always entertaining and full of ideas.
Figure Design in Gouache by Carla O"Connor
I learned the most from this one. Lots of good information about composition and certainly about the products she uses. I think I'll have to watch this one again because it's so dense with information.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Artist's blogs

I recently had a total knee replacement and that's the main reason I haven't been posting. Also haven't been on the computer and have not been painting. It's been a very up and down time with all the complications. Very good lessons in patience for me. The lessons never stop, do they?

I found the following post on Skip Lawrence's blog and felt he hit on something important for artists.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Want to know more about Adam of Paris Patisseries?

A photo I took at Jacques Genin of his lemon tarts. I bought one of each of these lovlies.

OK, you probably didn't come here for Paris pastry reviews or to know more about Adam. But just on the off chance that you want to know more about him and his wonderful blog, please go here to read bit more about him.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Jacques Genin

It pleases me beyond measure to know that in some city far away (Paris) is a Master of his profession working away for 15 hours a day and inspecting and checking even the most mundane details in order to turn out the best pastries, chocolates and caramels I've ever tasted.

I booked a trip to France before I knew I would be having knee replacement and really hope I can go on my trip. At least I have a solid incentive to get well.

So enjoy Adam's blog about Paris pastry and chocolate shops.

Friday, January 27, 2012


Here are three new paintings I've been working on recently. No titles yet. I have two more in the works and will post when they're done.

It's been a busy time around here lately. I'm scheduled for total knee replacement surgery on February 21st. There are a lot of things to do before hand too and I'm working on being prepared by exercising twice a day usually for a total of 45 minutes to an hour. I have the luxury of time to work on the muscles that will be needed to heal well. I'm also doing the same exercises that are done post-op. Everyone I talk to says moving and exercising are the main task after surgery. In fact, the doctor's office says 80% of the success is directly tied to the patient being motivated to doing the exercises.