Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Year's Resolutions - For the Love of Painting

It's that time of year! Time to make resolutions, commitments, vows. These things have meaning and hold weight for me. They are commitments to changing ones tendencies and moving in new directions. Re-training oneself, if you will.

My resolution is a commitment to joy and happiness; a shedding of old and unnecessary sorrows. It's really a commitment to love and faith. It's time! My friend Wendy has a niece that she told me spoke to her one day about how she'd decided to "just be happy". I wish it were just that easy, but we can take away a lesson from what her niece said and realize that we are truly causing our own unhappiness. It's true that we can just "be" happy no matter what conditions arise.

Andrew Wyeth wrote, "I think one's art goes as far and as deep and as one's love goes. I see no reason to paint, but that". That says it all for me.

This year is the year to bust out the color and the joy. The year not to give a rip about good taste or  what my work "should" look like. This is the year to paint truly from the heart and to surrender simply to that. This is the year to throw caution to the wind. I've been saying to students for years that there are no art police. No one is going to crash down your door because you didn't use enough restraint in your work. Quite the contrary really. I believe people are yearning, aching for limitations and boundaries to be broken. I know I am. I want to see what that really looks like, and feel how it really feels.

It's difficult to "loosen up" to push past tendency to understand and really act on the fact that we have no real limits other than those we impose upon ourselves. I've learned something about facing limitations over this past year. I know that I've done things that I never, ever thought possible. What an amazing thing that is. After learning to produce my videos; InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, FinalCut Pro and a host of other technical hoops to go through, I felt very, very confident yesterday when the headlight went out on my van, that I could indeed replace it myself! Thank you YouTube! Mission easily accomplished.

So painting with joy, abandon and maybe even a little craziness, does not seem impossible or silly or self-indulgent or anything but love. That's where I'm headed, to the love. Thanks Mr. Wyeth for the reminder!

Here are a couple pieces to get started! I think they are a good start in the right direction, but I know I can still let it rip a lot, lot more. Should be a great painting year!

18 x 30 Pastel on Wallis paper with fluid acrylic under-painting
18 x 30 Pastel on Wallis paper with fluid acrylic under-painting  
These pieces are fairly large. I think they would look fabulous floated in frames rather than matted. I can't decide whether to completely crop off the drip, though. I love them. I have three more under-paintings ready to roll, so I'm excited to get a whole group of them going. Pretty soon the studio will be bursting with color and before you know it, it will be spring! Perfect.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Hotel Blues and Whining Just a Little

Stafford Remembered, 4x6 pastel, $75. on Daily Paintworks
I've been on the road quite a bit between moving and working on my online lessons. First Raleigh, then Ann Arbor and now Springfield, VA. It's easy to fall into a funk when the four walls are the Best Western and the Hampton Suites! Not that there is anything wrong with these establishments; they just get old. 

What made me get up this morning and paint in my hotel room was a steady belief in something greater than my self-indulgence, and self-pity. I have no leg to stand on really. I just finished an amazing three day workshop, with a group of engaged, vibrant and fun students. They reminded me of what it's like to have those "aha!" moments and bask in them. They reminded me that painting is special and a great gift; a blessing to be able to spend time doing.

At the beginning of each of my workshops, I tell students that there is no whining in my workshops and that what we are doing is fun and special. So, my own whining is especially distasteful!

I love, love, love my students. Thank you Sally for the cookies. Thank you Chris for the email this morning, just when I needed it. Thank you Bonnie for your hospitality. I will head home with new appreciation for my work and for my students....

Passing Storm Available on Daily Paintworks

Friday, October 23, 2015

It's Been Too Long!

For the past three years or so, I've been living in a lovely townhouse; a simple, small low maintenance place that has allowed me to settle into a new lifestyle. I am grateful for having had the place and for my neighbors and the walkable downtown.  But it's not a place that is especially suited to art making. Not quite enough space and the space that it has is just a bit too nice to throw paint around in. I've made it work and carried canvas up and down the stairs, covered the pretty mouldings so I wouldn't get paint on them and shuffled things here and there to make do. It's been great, but I finally decided that it was limiting my choices of what to paint. No bueno! A change was in order.

 I feel like I'm getting a big girl's studio! I real working space that will let me move in any direction I desire with utility and ease. It has enough space for small workshops and weekly classes! Yippee!! Weekly classes are something that I've wanted to be able to do since I closed my large studio space in Milwaukie. Plus it's got an amazing amount of storage! Apparently the former owner ran estate sales and needed the out-buildings that are on the property - three of them! I couldn't believe that my realtor found it for me. It's absolutely perfect; small house, big studio, garage, storage shed and and extra detached office. Wow! I'm moving in on Halloween. Spooky!

I have also been very busy this year launching my new website and videos (check out and I'm about to launch a second site that will offer subscription online lessons. So, I've been diverted from blogging, but I hope to get back to it and share what's happening on my painting journey. I've been doing weekly mini-lessons on the new site which you can subscribe to , but I consider this blog a lovely, more personal view from the easel! I miss it! So stay tuned for pics of my new studio. Hopefully it will give you some ideas on studio space or if you have any cool ideas, please, please share! I can't wait to roll those easel in there!!!

For a few more days, I'm painting amongst  the boxes and relative chaos. It's a good kind of chaos. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Mollala Evening

This small pastel, 4'x6' is a study of a place very familiar to me. I recently returned to Mollala State Park with a good friend who was keen on seeing the nooks and crannies of the park, something I'd not done when I'd been there in the past. I was at a different time in my life then; young kids, dogs, bicycles. I was preoccupied! Glad to be returning to get another point of view of the park and take it in from a new ( but older), perspective. It was a more mysterious and not surprisingly, quieter place than I'd remembered with hidden beauties and richly textured paths; a good place for contemplation and devotion.

The little painting speaks directly to me of this. When I'm painting, I'm trying to say things simply, quietly, directly. Not over-thinking, nor just flailing around, I hope! I want it to be an image that is as if you were simply there, not searching or looking, just seeing and feeling the place.

If you are interested in purchasing, go to

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Summer Inspiration

Long summer days afford the opportunity to take long evening strolls and hikes. I'm so blessed to live in a area that has such beauty and diversity of landscape. What more could a painter ask for really?

The old adage, beauty is in the eye of the beholder is also apt. Walking with friends who aren't necessarily artists, gives me reason to think about what it is that attracts each of us. What forms do we each prefer. What holds our attention and makes us swoon? It's different for all of us. Could we really agree on what is beauty? What is it really? Most of our culture is focused on the superficial aspects of "beauty"; our bodies, our hair, our shapes.

There is a prevalent trend in art, that if your art is beautiful, it's not "real" art and could only be superficial, not profound or conceptual. So, there is a lot of mean, ugly stuff out there, that paradoxically becomes superficial in spite of itself as it tries not to be beautiful!

I don't worry about any of this on any given painting day! I just paint what moves me and call it good. I figure that there are a whole lot nastier ways to make a living and I know that my work has a profundity in it's own way. I know that the places I paint have meaning and a richness that I hope carries through to the work and has impact. Besides, I like beauty!
Mollala State Park

Mollala State Park

Mollala State Park

I continue to explore small works and did these four on terracotta colorifx paper with a wide variety of brands of soft pastel.These are each 4"x6". These pieces are available on Daily Paintworks for $75.00 each.

I hope you are enjoying summer and getting in lots and lots of painting! Don't forget to visit my new site, and subscribe to my weekly mini-lessons. The next lesson is on simplifying your photo reference!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Plein Air in Milwaukie

I love painting in oil when I'm plein air painting. But I'm just not that confident about it. But I really want to get better at it and dig deeper. That's one of the many things I took away from the IAPS convention; digging deeper. What can I do as a painter to deepen my painting practice? How can I not just get better, but dig deeper?

With the start of summer, I'm loving being outdoors and taking in the light, the breeze the feel of the sun on my skin. What could be better than being outdoors and painting? It's amazing. But, in the past I've found myself doing all the things I spend lots of time telling my students not to do; not planning the composition, niggling around in one area, not massing together shapes, mixing the wrong values etc., etc. Why does that happen when I get outdoors? And what can I do to change those tendencies?

First, I went and watched someone who knows what they are doing! I watched Eric Jacobsen, do two demos. What an amazing painter he is! And a super nice guy. He has a way of capturing the essence of the moment without being totally bound to exactly what is in front of him. Right up my alley! I loved it.

Eric at George Rogers Park doing his demo

Eric at Luscher Farm

 A number of things among the many that I took away:

1. Mass shapes in the light together. Mass shapes in shadow together.
2. Paint with the biggest brushes you have first as you are blocking in.
3. Use the whole brush and paint with your wrist and arm, not your fingers
4. Get enough paint on the tip of the brush, not into the ferrule.
5. Move around the whole piece.
6. Be willing to sacrifice all the way to the finish.

I also felt like Eric gave me permission to paint like I paint in plein air. I suppose that I'd unconsciously taken some notions about plein air with me into my painting. Dumb! Since watching his demos, I've spent lots of time painting with some duds (that's o.k.) and some progress. Most of all, I'm really enjoying being outdoors, taking in the air, the light and being connected to the landscape.

I've been painting at Milwaukie Riverfront Park which is walking distance from my house. Milwaukie is a bit of a sleeper when it comes to nature. When you think of painting spots in the Portland area, I'll bet Milwaukie doesn't exactly pop right to mind. But right here we have a newly redesigned waterfront and Elk Rock Island, a gem that is somewhat forgotten and neglected. Hopefully with light rail opening in early September, our neck of the woods will get a little more attention!

What I like about the pieces I've done, is I feel they begin to capture a bit of the quality of light. I didn't get too absorbed in the details. I wanted to say the very most with the least. I wanted to make deliberate and gestural strokes, rather than tentative, wimpy ones! I'm a long way from where I'd like to be in oil, but my mantra has always been to paint, paint, paint. So I'm sure that taking my own advice here will yield good results.

Watching Eric's demo was a great reminder to me, that sometimes it's helpful and maybe even transformative, to watch someone else do it! I know this from hearing from my own students, but feeling it myself was wonderful. Eric is a wonderful teacher and runs a great workshop which I highly recommend. Thank you, Eric!!

Milwaukie Riverfront Park
Milwaukie Riverfront Park
Milwaukie Riverfront Park
Milwaukie Riverfront Park
Milwaukie Riverrfront Park
Sketch in with alizarin crimson and burnt umber
And now for the shameless self promotion part of my blog! Be sure to check out my new website,! My Loosen Up Intensive workshop is now available as a download, or DVD. You can subscribe to my mini-lessons and updates on the site. Much more is coming soon. I have plans for a live online workshop, a beginners only section and weekly lessons. Stay tuned!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Reflecting on the IAPS Convention

There is really too much to say about my week in Albuquerque. I suppose I could write a whole book about it, to be honest. There were months of preparation leading up to it, for my business and the work I did volunteering for the organization. There was my mom, who came with me and the people at home who I missed. There were the artists that I came to know a bit and the small interactions with ones I wish I'd spent more time with. There were a indelible moments and crazy frustrating ones. 
There were tender moments and big audious ones. There was the beauty and warmth of the New Mexico landscape and the fragrant flowers that adorned the hotel grounds. So much happened! Moments of love, joy and bliss. There were also moments that weren't so grand, but they don't really stick out too much. They were out-shined.
Joe Baker and I after the buffet on Thursday evening.

Albert and Jeanine making some moves!

On a break during my demo
I was honored to have Albert stop in on my demo!

Alain Picard's and crew
Mine and crew
Tony Allain and crew
Terri Ford and crew
Stan Sperlack and crew

A highlight was the Paint Around. Being a part of the kick-off event of the convention along with Tony Allain, Stan Sperlack, Terri Ford and Alain Picard was certainly an honor and a blast! We were all a little nervous waiting to go on stage in the hot kitchen. Stan, ever the showman, teased the audience by ordering five shots of (iced tea) that we toasted before we began. As soon as the pastels were in our hands, we were fine! We each brought our own reference and had 10 minutes to start with our own piece. We then moved to our left and were supposed to have ten minutes on each artist's piece, but our group was comprised of five very fast painters and I was later told that each  time we moved they actually reduced the time so by the time we got back to our own piece they gave us only about 6 minutes to finish! Wow!

Later that evening I managed to get Albert Handell out on the dance floor! I won't forget that soon!
Meeting such pastel luminaries and getting to know them as more than names and paintings was a real joy.

My presentations were fun, allowing me to connect with folks and share my experiences as an artist is very rich for me. Spending time with my mom and sharing a bit of my work with her is great. I think she enjoyed herself. She explored a bit of the Albuquerque book scene on her own while I was attending to my volunteer duties.

I woke each day and made my way to outside to drink in the blue, blue sky and the quiet before everyone started bustling. I needed just a few moments alone to gather my thoughts. I was usually greeted by either Mack the facilities volunteer or Joe who was helping out on every conceivable front or Susan who was Liz's right hand person. These folks were wonderful to work with and never lost the smiles on their faces!

Spending time with so many people that are excited about pastel and it's potential made me want to come home and dig a little deeper in to the medium that I consider "home". 

I hope I get to attend the next convention in 2017!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Quiet Time

I've been quiet, but very  very busy!
Available now in DVD or Download

None of us paints in a vacuum, in the perfect studio, the perfect life. No such life exists nor should it. Just like colors that only exist in relation to one another, we are literally nothing without our relations. We paint amidst, our families, our neighbors our illnesses and crisis's our chaos, our addictions.

Over the past three years I went through some challenging times. A few people know just how challenging they were for me. But I really want to talk about our limitations. We all have them. We bump up against them every day. You can think of talented people as being slightly less limited in a particular area than others. But really for the most part, a limitation is an activity that we are doing to ourselves. “I can't do that”. “I'm too tired, too poor, to fat"...whatever it is. How do we move past, actually transcend our limitations?

I'm talking about re-framing the impossible as possible; An “I can't” into “I can”. Over three years ago I knew I wanted to put my workshops in an online format of some kind. I have a friend named Judy Wise that inspired me. She is an amazing artist that does workshops all over the country, she has a great blog too. She's cool. Well, she created an online workshop and got over 200 students to participate, sold interactive DVDs and made a tidy sum doing it. I thought, well, I've got a great following, a great workshop curriculum that's really popular, I can do that too!  I talked with Judy and the thing sounded really complicated to me. She'd filmed it herself and worked with someone on the creation of it. She learned the editing software etc. etc. and she warned me of how hard it was.

So I spent the next year sort of exploring it here and there, interviewing a few film people to help me and getting astronomical bids and feeling mostly deflated and wondering why Northlight Publishing didn't contact me, and other kinds of bullshit like that. Mostly getting overwhelmed.

Finally after many months of this, wondering, flailing around, feeling sad, feeling guilty, feeling jealous. I got my head together. I didn't stop feeling, I just made all of those feelings into the lesson I needed to learn. I made my lifestyle fit with the possibility of taking on such a project. I changed my tendencies. I made things small and quiet and easy. I decided that I could in fact do it. I decided to just be happy.

I began to do what I would have thought impossible for me to do. At 52 years old, now 53. I learned how to use my computer in a whole new way. I learned to manage my files and learned new key commands. I taught myself, Indesign, Illustrator and went deep into Photoshop. I learned Imovie but then had to switch to FinalCut pro when Imovie wasn't enough. It was like I went to design and film school. I Learned to light my studio for filming and how to do voice-over. I learned to navigate my website and update it in a whole new way. So, this DVD I have in my hand, I did every single bit of it; from the filming to the design to the authoring and the promotion of it which includes this blog. Which brings me back around to my first point that we don't actually do anything alone in a vacuum. That is exactly how and why we can transcend our limitations and do ANYTHING!! Because we are not, in fact alone.

My point in telling you all of this is that you can do anything. Painting in pastels is not a scary thing unless you make it so. Don't make it so.

For instance when I teach a workshop, I give a lot of information that you could get easily be overwhelmed by and could possibly become a hindrance to painting rather than a help. But why not re-frame such and think of the information as a gift, like little gems, (I hope) that you would put into your treasure chest. Receive the gifts. Do not armor yourself from them.

So I'm very happy to introduce my first video, Loosen Up Intensive Volume I & II. A good friend  in my life helped, gave advice, time and mostly love; simply refused to console or cajole me and indulge me in my “I can'ts”. I'm grateful. I can't believe I did it!!
It's available as a DVD and as a download. I'm so excited to be able to finally put this out there and share it with everyone! The DVD or download set is $95.00 or you can get Volume I or II separately for $49.95.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Love, Love, Love!

"Love is fun, isn't it?" Yes, it is. When it's true, and free and real. When there is nothing impeding it or holding it or interfering with it. That "something" that interferes is always our own activity. Painting from that place of love is very simply, joy for me.

I am also "in love" with doing these small works. I can be so spontaneous and free with them. They take only a few minutes, usually about 10 minutes, so I can be really creative in that space. Without investing myself in the idea that they will be "finished" paintings that I'm going to frame and put in a gallery, I can really explore and play and experiment. I used to think I needed lots of real estate to be able to do that, now I'm getting many gems, both in the finished work and in the learning.

These are all 4" x 6" on Colorfix paper. I filmed myself doing them and will post one or two videos next posting. They are kinda fun to watch, 'cause they are so quick. I even surprised myself. I have to take out the audio first, because I started singing and you don't want to hear that! I was really having fun!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Two Dollars

Treasures turn up in the most unlikely places. My Mom, retired library administrator/ part time book hunter, found this amazing and I do mean amazing book by Andrew Loomis in the used book store of Milwaukie's Ledding Library, the Pond House Bookstore! Creative Illustration has long been at the top of my "recommended" list to students. I was given that book when I was a young girl by an art teacher, and my first edition copy has since been a treasure to me. I've poured over that book, copied almost every page when I was a budding artist and used it as a tried and true reference for my teaching over the years. Somehow, neither my mom or I, ever looked up a bibliography of his other books!

So, holy crap! I wish I'd had this book 20 years ago!! It's totally amazing! It is packed full of wonderful information for illustrators and fine artist alike; a true treasure trove. Now it's on my bookshelf for just $2.00. Wow!!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

White, white, it the new black?

All I see is white, wherever I go! Is it my imagination or is it the new black? Maybe it's just because spring is in full force here in Oregon...the trees are blossoming and everything seems so fresh and new.

"White is the color of fresh snow and milk, the color the human eye sees when it senses light which contains all the wavelengths of the visible spectrum
As a symbol, white is the opposite of black, and often represents light in contrast with darkness. According to surveys in Europe and the United States, white is the color most often associated with innocence, perfection, the good, purity, honesty, cleanliness, the beginning, the new, neutrality, lightness, and exactitudeWhite is the color the human eye sees when it senses light which contains all the wavelengths of the visible spectrum. This light stimulates all three types of color sensitive cone cells in the eye in nearly equal amounts. Materials that do not emit light themselves appear white if their surfaces reflect back most of the light that strikes them." - Wikipedia

With my new color workshop coming up, I've been thinking so much about color and of course white is all the colors in the spectrum, so maybe it's appropriate. White is funny, because nothing is truly white in visible light, since everything else around something "white" is influencing the whiteness of a thing. That's true of all color. Everything is relative. In my workshop we'll be discussing how this effects our ability to see color and therefore our ability to paint it. Stuff like color constancy and color interaction. Good stuff.

My good friends at Roger & Ives in Milwaukie, Oregon have their lovely shop filled beautiful "whiteness". I'm loving having them around the corner from me, and getting to stick my nose in the window to see what new lovely surprises they have in store for us. It's elegance, charming playfulness and warm coziness all in one delightful little shop. I'm lucky to be able to enjoy it almost every day. Of course, I'm plugging them, 'cause they are my friends, but I am honestly and truly inspired by the beauty and energy of their place. How they keep it so gorgeous and exciting is a mystery to me. They must have elves working for them that they're not telling about! Thank you for the white inspiration this week, guys!

Roger & Ives, Milwaukie, OR
Roger & Ives, in Milwaukie, OR

Roger & Ives in Milwaukie, OR
Roger & Ives in Milwaukie, OR