Saturday, April 11, 2015

"Spring Beauty"
22" x 30" Torn Magazine Collage
on Canvas
The first buds are on my Irises in the garden and I looked at a few paintings I've done of Irises over the years. I liked one where I did lots of negative painting, so I decided to use the same approach on this piece. I've worked many hours this week, starting by putting in the background and then doing the images on top. I'm not sure I'm done. I think I may put more color in the Iris on the left.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Another Experiment

"Ancient Wonders"
8" x 10" Manipulated Papers on Canvas
A friend had done some nice abstracts using paper she manipulated with Citrasolv. Today I spent quite a bit of the day working on a floral magazine collage and I needed a break. The other day I tried the Citrasolv on some magazine pages. So I played around with a small canvas and some of the papers. The results made me thing of cave dwellings.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Sunrise over Utah
15" x 20" Watercolor
Thanks to my bicycling friend Mike Miller for the reference photo he took in January while skiing in Utah. In 2008 Bob and I rode our tandem in Utah on our cross-country trip. Incredible vistas. This piece was challenging, but I was determined to finish it.

I first put down some washes. I then masked out the foreground grasses. Next I deepended the washes and I allowed the painting to dry thoroughly. I then looked for organic shapes to enhance with negative painting. The Magic Eraser helped with the sunrays. After removing the mastic, I deepened the grasses.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Monday Morning Drawing Class

"Artist at Work"
12" x 14" Pastel

Blog friend Sherri was worried about me when I hadn't posted for so long. We are doing so much travel lately that I've been remiss at art and at posting. I am back and here is a piece from before I left. This was a fun one to create. I loved the crackled finish on the pitcher, the well used brushes, and the motley collection of paint tubes. It was a real challenge, but very satisfying to do.

I promise to jump start my art this week and get back to blogging. Meanwhile, here is a little remembrance of our recent cruise through the Panama Canal. The crab was delicious at the Crab Shack event on our ship.

Eating at the Ship Crab Shack event
Somewhere off Mexico as we made our way to the Panama Canal
Chilling in Aruba
enroute from the Panama Canal to Fort Lauderdale

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

"Spring Collections" and Good News

"Spring Collections"
10" x 10" Torn Magazine Collage

First, the good news. My "Native Sage" was juried into "No Limits -- Freedom to Create," a show sponsored by the Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society. I was very pleased because I really like that piece.

This is the third in a series of purse collages. I decided to incorporate some small charcoal drawings of models along with the torn magazine. I used workable fixative on the drawings so they would not smear when I adhered them to the canvas. I wanted to suggest spring, runway shows, and New York City.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015


10" x 10" Torn Magazine Collage
My latest in a series of small collages of purses. This one was very fun to create. I always find red, white, and black a cheerful and exciting combination.

I also updated two collages,  "In the Pink" and "Native Sage", with modest changes after taking it to critique where my experienced fellow artists made some suggestions.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

A Mini Collage

"In the Pink"
10" x 10" Torn Magazine on Canvas Collage
I am on a roll with collage. Here you see a small one. I found doing a small collage more difficult than doing my really large ones. It was easy to overwork the gel medium. I am learning, though and I am pleased with the results.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Native Sage

"Native Sage"
3 feet x 3 feet
Torn magazine on canvas collage
When my artist friend Joan and I were in Taos, NM, attending a workshop, we all went out to a local restaurant. The bartender was such an interesting man that we asked it we could photograph him. He said he was a Lakota Elder from Nevada, working in New Mexico where there is a large Native American population. Joan said she wanted his silver feather earrings. We apparently are not the first tourists to ask to take his photo or want his earrings. He had posed for a whole busload of people earlier in the day. He was bemused by the attention.

None of my photos were very clear and besides, my goal is not to create an exact image. I doubt that he would recognize himself. My hat kick continues with his cowboy hat. I wove in some interesting suggestions of a story. There are some horses, the words New Mexico, and suggestions of his rugged character. I especially like the extensions of his mustache that mimic his feather earrings.

This is a large piece and took many days to complete. I started with a graphite drawing, then moved on to drawing him free hand on tracing paper. I transferred the outer edges of the figure,  then covered the entire surface with selected black, grey, and white magazine papers. From there I began to refine the shapes and add the features. I especially struggled with getting an expression that I like.

I am hoping to get this piece juried into a show.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Happy New Year 2015!

"The City That Never Sleeps"
36" x 36" Torn Magazine Collage
Happy New Year, my blog friends. It's time to get back on the wagon after a busy December with a Hawaiian vacation and many Christmas activities.

I am currently focusing on collage, though I still paint. This piece took a while and went through a couple iterations. Here is the original piece that I thought was done until sharing with my critique group.

One of the very accomplished artists noted the white was isolated on one side and another said remember how the master makes the collage emerge from the background. So I bravely went back and collage out the white. I like the result, which is a bit more dramatic.

I will catch up with my blog friends as I get back in the swing of things.

Monday, December 1, 2014

World Blog Hop

I want to thank Christiane Kingsley for inviting me to participate in this Blog Hop Around the World. Christiane lives in Ottawa, Canada, and is a very versatile artist. She had spent more than twenty years doing fiber art, when she fell in love with watercolours about 10 years ago. Now she works more often in mixed media and acrylics, though watercolour remains her first love. Chris is a member of the Ottawa Art Association and the Foyer Gallery. You will have fun checking out her blog and website.

For those who don’t know me, I am a painter and collage artist who grew up in Vermont and has lived many years in San Jose, California. I took up watercolors about 20 years ago, and more recently have moved into mixed media and collage. I am a Past President and current Board Member of the Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Association (SCVWS) with 400 members. I host open studios and participate  in several art shows a year. Blogging is a perfect way to share my art, because it combines two of my passions: art and writing. Participating in the blog community has brought me friends and broadened my knowledge of art.  

I have been asked to answer several questions: 
1. What am I working on? 
I am focusing on some torn magazine collage on canvas pieces. At a recent workshop in Taos, NM, Gwen Fox encourage me to do more collage. SCVWS is sponsoring a juried show in March open to all forms of watermedia, including paper on canvas, and we can enter up to three pieces. I am hoping to enter a few pieces and make the cut.

"The City That Never Sleeps"

I just completed "The City That Never Sleeps" which is 36" x 36." I also like to combine paper that I've made with acrylic paint, as I recently did in  "Letters from Home." There are more in my future.
"Letters From Home"

"Fall Rains In the Vineyards"

A week ago I painted at beautiful local winery with the SCVWS plein air group during some fall rains that helped paint my watercolor, "Fall Rains in the Vineyards."   


I am also liking acrylics. "Happiness" is a good representative of my acrylics and close-focused works.


2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

This is a challenging question. I use watermedia and paper, and paint life around me. When I see a subject, I see patterns and shapes, so I express my theme by arranging pleasing shapes and values. My engineering gene surfaces in compositions that are strongly geometric, even without the imposed shapes in "Poppies on the Fault Line." 
"Poppies on the Faultline"

"Marinka's Figs"

My art is influenced by a life filled with travel, ballroom dancing, bicycling, art, and spending time with family and friends. I often paint landscapes, especially painting plein air with like-minded artists. I frequently fill the picture plane with a piece of an architectural feature or plant, as I did when painting "Marinka's Figs" in Croatia, to deliver an unusual view. 

"Hoping We Get Some Wind"

I paint people observed in daily life and travels. My paintings focus on the commonality of mankind, while hinting at the qualities that make the person unique.

3. Why do I create what I do?
Since my childhood, I have expressed my creativity in drawings and making small objects. In my teens and through my middle life,  I sewed clothing for myself and family and did crafts with my sons. After the children left home, I had a strong desire to do fine arts and began taking workshops. Now that I am retired from my corporate career, I devote many hours to my art. I am very visual and tactile, and I have a passion for capturing common experiences and observations that speak to others. 

4. How does my creating process work?
Whatever the medium, the process is similar. Subjects are taken from life and I either paint on location or gather source materials -- sketches, plein air paintings, and photos. When I travel, I bring a small journal, pens, and a compact Koi watercolor set and complete sketches representative of the people, culture, and architecture. These sketches and the plein air work are completed very quickly.  I decide upon a subject, eliminate extraneous elements, and work almost to completion within a few hours. I put the finishing touches on the work in my studio. The results can be fresh and give a wonderful sense of place. "Summer Morn" was painted in nearby Vasona Park.

"Summer Morn"
Subjects are not a problem, they are all around me. I select an appropriate medium and consider size and composition - whatever drew me to this subject is what I want to convey. When painting landscapes, I draw directly on the support. When painting more complex subjects, I do a full-sized drawing and then transfer it to my support. Sometimes, but not always, I lay down an underpainting, and I may combine mediums. I often go for value on my first pass, rather than layering glazes, and enjoy mixing paint on the support.  I come back in the final pass with detail and my darkest darks.

"The Graduate"
My approach to creating torn magazine collage is similar.  My palette is bins of glossy magazine pages sorted by color. I  usually keep the colors to a minimum. Using just black, white, and gray or combining it with just one color is very dramatic. I allow an occasional bit of another color to sneak in.  I start by applying large papers first and then move to finer details using glossy gel medium as an adhesive. I tear the pieces to add beauty to the pages because they contain many hard edges. As I near completion, I can spend several days making small adjustments. I finish the painting with varnish with UV protection. You can check out work by master instructor Derek Gores who taught an SCVWS workshop.

Collage is very challenging and takes many hours, especially for large pieces, such as 36" x 36".  I select pieces of papers and objects that contribute to a recognizable shape. I often include memorabilia to tell a story.  Much of the final result depends upon randomness as there is no way I can plan completely how the work will come together. The viewer is pulled into the painting as they discover unusual images that make up the art -- a stiletto in the hat, a purse in the hair, and words that give hints to the story. 

When I believe I am finished, I place my painting where I pass it frequently during my day. It will tell me if it is done or what it needs.

Upcoming World Blog Hop Participant:

For next week’s post in this  Blog Hop Around the World, I have invited Mary Lemmenes from Jacksonville, Florida, an artist I very much admire. You will understand why after reading this post and visiting Mary's blog. Mary is very adventurous, loves to travel, makes beautiful art, and enjoys writing. In her own words about her blog posts, Mary says, "I know that writing them, editing and polishing them, and choosing appropriate photos has been meaningful for me; writing is a path to discovery, I think--of self and of other things that matter." On her blog you will see her beautiful paintings on silk scarves and in more traditional mediums, and enjoy her stunning photography. Her descriptions of her travels and her art are addictive.

I hope that you will continue to follow this Blog Hop around the World and in the process discover new artists and expand your blogging community!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Rainy Day Paintings

"Fall Rains in the Vineyards"
22" x 15" watercolor
"Artists at Work"
11.5" x 5.5" watercolor

Thursday I joined the plein air group at Clos La Chance Winery, a gorgeous winery about 15 miles south of my home. Many paint sites are north of me, so I grab at the chance to go south, away from traffic. Weather predictions were very iffy, with rain predicted for about 1 pm. We had a great turnout of hardy artists.

The vineyards, though past their peak color, were still very beautiful shades of gold, rust, and red backed by colorful mountains with clouds and fog over them. I began the top painting with a watercolor wash. Contrary to my saying I would paint over acrylic, I felt I couldn't prime the paper ahead of time because I was unsure of the colors,  and I did not want to do it in the field. I had laid in the wash and started the painting when it began to rain, three hours ahead of schedule. My painting shows the sprinkles on it. I took refuge under a winery patio umbrella and continued to work the painting. I decided to embrace the pointillist look as part of the atmosphere. I felt a bit like George Seurat painting "Picnic in the Park."

We are all thrilled to have some rain in drought-stricken California, so no one uttered a complaint, just went on painting. At one point I strolled up above my paint site and caught a photo of three of the artists painting with a brush in one hand and an umbrella in the other. They very nicely wore jackets of primary colors -- yellow, blue, and red. I had to paint them. For this little sketch, I selected my panoramic Arches pad, so I could show the colorful landscape.

Three hours of painting was followed by lunch. The winery folks very nicely allowed us to use tables set up for an event inside. The place is like a French Riviera villa, so we enjoyed really fine digs for our picnic lunches. Check out the photos on the paintsites blog and enjoy co-leader Brad's playful description. He is one terrific writer.

I headed home in quite a downpour -- LOVELY!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Revisiting Georgia O'Keefe Country

Georgia O'Keefe Country
14 x 11 Watercolor
Georgia said of the Perdenal, God told her that if she painted it, she would own it. Her ashes were spread on the Perdenal. After our workshop in New Mexico, Joan and I spent a day at Ghost Ranch taking the history tour, visiting the archeological museum, walking the grounds and labyrinth, and having lunch in their dining room. I first visited this area with Bob in 2011 when we spent a week in Santa Fe. View my previous painting of the Perdenal.

Following advice from Gwen Fox and Stephen Quiller, I did an acrylic underpainting of Azo Yellow on the bottom and Pthalo blue on the top. I then developed this painting in watercolor. I love that you can lift color so easily, which is how I developed the cottonwoods and shrubbery on the butte. For example, I lifted back to the Azo Yellow on the cottonwoods and then added color to give them shape. The color looks a bit less harsh in person than in this photo.

I also received a lovely thank you card from Gwen Fox for attending the workshop and spending some extra personal time with her. She took photos of the painting she deemed our best and made a card with our painting, a photo of the workshop attendees, and a personal message. The workshop was about how to market you art. Gwen is very good at marketing!

Gwen's card to me

The class
Friend Joan is third from left in the back row
I am on the right in the front row.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Experimenting with Acrylic Underpaintings

"Rocky Mountains"
10" x 13" Watercolor
During art group Thursday evening, I decided to try using an acrylic underpainting as Gwen Fox suggested. I also saw Stephen Quiller demo this method on Sunday for SCVWS. He toned his paper with cadmium yellow light and medium, then drew his image on top and painted in watercolor. You can see his work midway through the demo. The nice thing is you can easily lift back to the yellow, which he did on the tree trunks and then used a brilliant orange on them.

Stephen Quiller mid-demo

I had a half-done painting that was not pleasing me, so I gessoed over it. I could still see shadows of shapes underneath. I decided to just go with those shapes and create my own scene using blues, yellows, orange, and green. Though I don't consider this painting highly successful, I can see that I might like to do more mixing of watermedia.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

My Fourth and Final Day of the Gwen Fox Workshop

13 x 14" Acrylic
Actually I began this painting on Thursday and completed it on Friday. This one is Gwen's favorite, which is rather pleasing as she is both an abstract and a floral artist. I did not have much to go on, mostly memory of my garden. I find florals fairly easy to paint and I like their shapes. Too bad that there are so many floral painters that it's difficult to be unique.
My biggest challenge with acrylics is to keep myself and my workspace clean. I know some of it is poor organization, but I hope to figure it out. You should see Bob's old shirt that I wore when painting. I was ready to throw it away, but Joan insisted I keep it as part of my history is on it. I managed to get my sleeve in the deep Pthalo Blue and put a big blob on the bottom petal. Thank goodness it is acrylic so I could paint over it and that is what led to the "design" of the lower part of the painting.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

My Third Day at the Gwen Fox Workshop

"At Peace"
10" x 12" Acrylic
This piece was actually inspired by a photo of grasses at the University of Vermont with the iconic Camel's Hump mountain in the background. However, it looks totally Southwest to me as I was so influenced by my surroundings in Taos. I like the way I can get some watercolor effects while having the flexibility of adding a different color over the original color. I first painted the mountain in magenta and then went over it with a mixture of magenta and blue, leaving some of the original layer showing through. I also added the greens and gold. The grasses were done with a palette knife, which was very fun and new to me.

Gwen suggested I extend a few grasses above the blue mountain, which I will do when I get at painting again.