Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Susan's Pitcher at Monday Morning Drawing Class

"Susan's Pitcher"
Unfinished Oastel
I have been attending Monday Morning Drawing Class whenever I'm in town, but I have been unable to finish anything so I have not been posting the pieces. I know that this will lie there in the stack unfinished, so I decided to show the part that is more done. There is actually the rest of the tray and a couple red onions to the left, but I only got to draw them.  There is a bit more table to the right, also. It was fun to do this piece. The finish on this old pitcher is wonderfully worn and a challenge to reproduce.

Sunday, May 17, 2015


"Early Morning Shadows on the Rio Grande Gorge
Taos, NM
14" x 19" Watercolor
$300 (unframed)
The Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society (SCVWS) will be having a summer show, "Shades of Summer" in Saratoga. I called upon some photos and memories of early morning at the eighth highest bridge in the USA to create a painting for entry in the show. A hot air balloon was suspended over the landscape and the bridge shone in the early morning light.
I used a lot of imagination for the colors. My challenge was to subdue enough of the painting to put the focus on the center part of the gorge, bridge, and balloon. I just finished the work so I may yet make the some changes. I have to walk by it for a few days so it can tell me if it is done.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Painting in the Diablo Mountain Range

"Mountain Peonies"
14" x 19" Watercolor
Another great day painting with the Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society. We are so fortunate to live in an area with many beautiful gardens, so that is the focus for Spring outings. We visited the Chateau CharMarron Peony Gardens high above the Valley in the Diablo Mountain Range. I had been here once before with the group, in 2013, and knew I didn't want to miss this event. The owners are so welcoming. The place is also open to the public during Peony prime time.

It was sunny and hot, with temps predicted in the 90s. I had planned to find a favorite clump of flowers and paint them close focused, but I decided I needed shade. Thus I did a floral landscape, along the idea of last week's Irises in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

My models
 You can see that I had some lovely models, though I did not choose to paint all of them nor all their leaves. I liked the mountain backdrop with deep, richly colored evergreens.

Some of the day's production
After a few hours of painting we gathered under the covered structure where I had painted to appreciate the day's work. You can read more about our adventure on the SCVWS paintsites blog.

Another beautiful day of being inspired by my fellow artists.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Going Backwards: Plein Air Two Weeks Ago

"California Poppies"
10" x 13"

A few weeks ago, my Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society plein air group painted at a reserve that is about a mile from the 49ers Levi Stadium. Amidst the commercial properties and new condos, Santa Clara managed to set aside an old golf course and restore its natural state. We arrived at Ulistac Nature Reserved on a sunny, hot morning. I love California Poppies so they became my subject. I have some of these babies in my yard in spite of being warned that they like to spread where I don't want them. So far, they are spreading where I do want them.

You can read about our adventures on the SCVWS blog.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Plein Air Painting in the Mountains

"Sailor's Warning on a Foggy Morning"
14" x 20" Watercolor
My models
 Plein Air painting can mean sitting out in all kinds of weather. Today we went to Cummins Iris Garden in the Santa Cruz Mountains. It was overcast at my house, predicted to be 75 degrees with sun later. I knew that the mountains would remain fogged in longer, so I was prepared. Some folks arrived and left when they realized we were not going to have Valley weather.

This garden is gorgeous, a loving project of Jim and Irene Cummins. We were there May 2013 on a hot day. You can see the post.  The setting is lovely, even on a foggy morning, so I found some Irises that I loved and painted them against the backdrop of the mountains. You can see that their name is "Sailor's Warning", I am guessing because they resemble a sunset often seen before a storm.

We gathered at one to have our picnic lunches and view the truly lovely paintings. We were entertained by wild turkeys who seem to think the garden is their home. The three males got all puffed up in fight mode, looking about three times their size with beautiful, blue, and white on their necks. They are much handsomer when they become protectors.

"Don't mess with us"

Some of the garden area
Some of the day's production


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!