Friday, February 28, 2014


 Just a little bit of art history for the day...I think it's so fascinating to think about how it is that we've come to approach our paintings as artists and to realize that it's due to the whole march of art history that we step up to our easels and apply the paint in the particular manner that we do. It's not by chance, or by luck, and we aren't alone as we stand there. We have legions of artists standing at our sides. Yeah!!!

Leonardo’s smudges

In Mallarme's Symbolist theories ("It seems to me that there should only be allusions"), Leonardo's sfumato (veiled form such as the blurs around Mona Lisa's eyes), Titian's "crude daubs," the broadening brush strokes of Rembrandt's maturity, in all these, the power of ambiguity has been harnessed to help the artist penetrate more deeply into the recipient's mind in order to engage more complete participation. This is the secret of the Bhagavad Gita's allegory, Christ's parables, and the Oracle's riddles. (SFUMATO - from Italian sfumare, "to tone down," or "to evaporate like smoke"), in painting or drawing, term designating fine shading that produces soft, imperceptible transitions between colours and tones. It is used most often in connection with the work of and his followers, who made subtle gradations, without lines or borders, from light to dark areas; the technique was used for a highly illusionistic rendering of facial features and for atmospheric effects. (Britannica On-line) -- Also: Leonardo’s term ("dark smoke") for using intermingling veils of translucent color to create atmospheric perspective, depth, volume, and form. These interdependent, interacting veils echoes and exploits the way the mind constructs perceptions from raw stimuli. “In a way sfumato is a signpost to a paradox. To describe a thing by boxing it in, by drawing a line around it, which would seem to be the quickest route to accuracy, is in actuality the least accurate means of description. No depth or volume or form is communicated this way. Far better to first develop a fuzzy, hazy concept of the thing which is slowly fleshed out, with lines, or harsh defining strokes as the final touch. Indeed is this not the way the human mind comes to understand anything it comes into contact with?” (Ben J Armstrong (downloaded Jun15, 2001), portfolio pages at Related to fumage A method of making an image with smoke fumes. Fumage was invented by Wolfgang Paalen, whose first fumages were made with a kerosene lamp. When surrealist painter Salvador Dali (Spanish, 1904-1988), made a fumage, he called the method sfumato; and some have spelled this term "sfumage". Very few artists have worked in fumage. Also see , , , , , parsemage, and photomontage

Friday, February 21, 2014

Edges - How I Finish Canvas Edges

Edges are big, maybe huge in painting. But let's talk about the edges of a canvas rather than the edges within a piece! I've gone through quite an evolution in terms of how I handle finishing the edges of my larger pieces. Currently, I use black gesso that I've thinned out to a sticky, not soupy consistency. I mix a good amount of this up ahead of time, so it's ready to go when I need it. I have a couple brushes that are the right size and keep them just for the task of painting the edges.

I have gone to this "black gallery stripe" rather than painting the image around the edge or leaving the canvas raw. I received feedback from a couple galleries that the method of painting the image around the edge was too similar to a giclee wrap and made original pieces feel like reproductions! Not good. Leaving the raw canvas didn't feel right either, making me feel the pieces weren't quite finished.  It's also hard to keep the raw canvas tidy when you are throwing paint around.

I'm working on some new stuff that is on wood panel. I've taped off the edges just experimenting with leaving the wood edge, but I'll have to see how that looks. I may end up painting those edges black too.

I think it's important to put some thought into how a work is finished and presented. Next blog post; signatures. Happy Painting!!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Ok, so....

I got divorced last year. I write this because I committed myself to be more committed to this blog and with that, for better or worse comes leaking through, some of my personal life along with the art and the art business. It's all tied together for me. If you don't like it, or aren't interested, just stop now!

Many, many people say to me "I'm so sorry" when they hear that my 27 year marriage has come to an end. I still struggle with a response because I'm not sorry. I had a wonderful marriage and have two sons with my ex-husband. But I am ready to move into another chapter. I've spent the last six months building an awesome runway. Now I'm ready to take flight.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest
fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our
light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask
ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented,
fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? Your playing
small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened
about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure
around you. And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people permission to do the
same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence
automatically liberates others.” –Marianne Williamson

“Most of the shadows of this life are caused by standing
in one’s own sunshine.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

I have every single thing I need to live the life I want. It's all here. I am just waking to it. It's a rainy dreary day here in Milwaukie, OR, but I'm making my own sunshine and I'm going to spend some time basking in it, if you don't mind. 

After the basking, some wandering is planned, if you can plan aimlessness. It is overdue. Not to take aim. I am looking forward to not taking aim.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Beauty and the Golden Section

As artists and just simply humans, we strive for balance and equilibrium. One of the principles of design that I find particularly fascinating is the Golden Section, also called the Golden Mean. It is based on the mathematical equation below. I typically don't use the Golden Section in a super conscious manner while composing a piece, however keeping in mind this kind of division of space is useful in finding a pleasing arrangement of elements.

It is also linked to the Fibonacci sequence and not so surprisingly, the sequence of the human genome.

For more reading on the Golden Section, check out

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Scaling a Sketch

Here is a nifty program for Ipad; "ShowMe". I did a quick little demo on how to scale a sketch without a ruler or proportion wheel. It's easy!Click the link to the ShowMe site. I couldn't quite figure out how to imbed it in blogger. Working on it.

Finally thawing out from the snow and ice. Got out of the house for Thai food. Plan on an early dinner with my youngest son, then more painting this evening. I'm always more motivated to paint when I've got some new tunes to listen to...jamming to Trans-global Underground/The Khaleeji Stomp. Enjoy!!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Deepening Commitments

Snow and ice are good things. I've been cloistered in my place for the last couple days. I did venture out briefly with my car, wanting to get a little experience driving in the snow. It wasn't bad and I'm glad I did it, but I should have stopped at the grocery store! With not a lot to eat, (just enough), and just my thoughts and computer to entertain me, I've had room for contemplation.

I had to cancel a very full workshop that I was very much looking forward to; bummer. I tried to hang in there and run it for those wanting to brave the weather and reschedule for those who couldn't, but in the end it was out of my hands. Not following through on it, hurts! It's rescheduled for March 8th and 9th, here in Milwaukie, OR. There might be some room!! I don't know yet.

So instead of teaching, I'm painting, reading, improving and adding new information to my workshops. With the year so new, I'm deepening my commitment to improving my workshops; giving more information and presenting that information in a way that is accessible and practical for students.

I'm also deepening my commitment to painting. I have lots of new ideas that I'd like to work on, yet still find myself gravitating to the landscape. Finding a place for the familiar and the new is a challenge, but one I'm up for.

New work, means finding new avenues for sharing that work...Maybe avenues that aren't traditional or usual for me. This is both exciting and daunting....more commitment.

Commitment extends to keeping ones word, both to others and to myself. I received a call this morning from a patron that purchased a piece from a gallery in Chicago. This gallery is no longer in business. When my client bought the piece,( now a couple years ago), it had some slight damage on the edges from being slid in and out of racks at the gallery. She was in touch with me at the time of purchase and I assured her that I would see to it that the piece was repaired. Since that time, my life and travel schedule has not allowed me to get to the Chicago area to do the repair. She was very understanding, but she wants it repaired as the piece means a lot to her. This morning we made a plan of sorts to figure out costs, but I may well end up adding to a workshop trip to make this repair. A long way to go, to touch up some edges....but if that's what it takes, that's what I'll do.

More commitment. I've neglected my blog, so I'm committing now to posting every other day for the next three months, even if it's just a couple paragraphs and a photo. I'll try to mix it up with my art studies and my painting work. If you don't see my posts, please, please call me on it!!!! Got to keep me honest!!!