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Teaching is Learning

May 13, 2018

These words prove themselves to be true over and over again. Teaching is a wonderful way to learn, both in the preparation and practice that goes into the lesson to be taught, and in the discovery of new insights into each student’s unique way of seeing the world. I never tire of it, no matter what age group, experience, or abilities.

I am now teaching a beginning watercolor class, which has turned out to be a class for people who have never done any art to speak of at all. At first, I started out showing and demonstrating the different “rules” of watercolor and how to manage them. But soon we all relaxed and decided to just “go with the flow” — a completely apt description of the whole experience of watercolor. Here are their birds from Weeks 3 and 4.

Since I told them up front that it is not a drawing class, I provided bird photographs and showed them the time-honored technique of tracing an image on tracing paper, and then transferring that to watercolor paper by means of blackening the reverse side of the drawing. After they got a rough and very faint outline of their chosen bird, the fun began. We worked very wet and splashy, which was my goal. I wanted them to see from the beginning that watercolor is about water. I think they got it! The amazing and fresh rendition of the two baby bluebirds looking at each other is by an almost 90-year-old. She was thrilled with hers and rightly so.

If you want to learn something, prepare to teach it.


Road Trip

May 2, 2018

Eight years after leaving Florida, I decided last week to go back for the very first time, driving the entire 730 miles in one stretch. It was hard on my body, but did wonders for my spirit. I was able to reunite with several close friends — some of whom are artists from our group BRAVA, still meeting and having shows after 20 years — and spend quality time with family members that I don’t get to see often enough.

My first look at what eight years of growth can do to an already-congested area of the country was shocking, but shouldn’t have been surprising. New strip malls and restaurants on almost every corner. A whole new Tampa River Walk has sprung up since I left. Some wonderful lifelong friends and I had lunch outdoors overlooking the river at Ulele.

An important stop was at Michael Murphy Gallery, where they had just finished rearranging the walls and put this one up for my work:

Installation, Michael Murphy Gallery, Tampa, Florida

It was a thrill to see, for the first time, all of these paintings together since they left my studio a few at a time. The gallery looks wonderful. A few new artists, and some of the same ones as before.

The short 6 days made me sure that I will go back again much sooner than another eight  years. A week just isn’t enough time.

Getting Back Into the Flow

April 18, 2018

Finally, my space is starting to feel like an art studio again. After a year and a half of false starts, my daily art practice is back. Now that I have a new gallery for a total of two, I have plenty of reasons to paint. I know we shouldn’t need a “reason” but somehow it does affect my productivity.

This painting is brand new, and designated for the new gallery. I think they will like it and be able to sell it.

Underwater World – Acrylic on Canvas, 24x36x1.5 inches

In addition, I had a surprise studio sale 3 weeks ago, to a person who had seen my work at the local art center. He had later looked at my website and wanted to know about this specific one, which had been hanging in my studio for quite a while, and though I will miss it, I’m excited that it’s found a new forever home:

Gentle Wind – Acrylic on Canvas, 48x36x.75 inches

And the new series of acrylics on paper that I’ve been working on still doesn’t have a name. Here’s another one of those:

New Series, #1 — Acrylic on 300# Arches with hand-deckled edge, 8×8 inches FOR SALE $100 – Contact me

And the cherry on top of this delicious sundae is the watercolor class I’m teaching. It’s been a great diversion and a way for me to stay disciplined at improving my skills. But the best part is that this group of women has really jelled and we are having a blast.

Art is not just part of my life now. It is my life.

Reclaiming My Time (And Space)

April 5, 2018

Studio from Entrance

Lots of exciting things going on in the studio these past few weeks. But first I had to clear the space in order to work. Since then, I’ve been painting away, and in the down times (what are those?) have been teaching a weekly beginning watercolor class to a group of 8 women.

I’m teaching it because I want to get better at it myself. I have taken numerous watercolor classes and workshops over the years, but never did keep it up. It was frustrating every time, and so unforgiving that I just gave up. But it has always been something I wanted to conquer, primarily because it is such a gorgeous medium when done right. I stay just a step or two ahead of the students, so it’s a win-win for all of us. Teaching gives me the discipline that I need to stay on task and practice daily.

The bonus surprise from immersing myself in watercolor is that it is making me a better painter overall. It’s a little too soon to see where that will lead, but already it’s beginning to break me out of some of my old habits and helping me to see new possibilities.

I’ve been working on several new paintings on canvas, and a new series of 8-inch square paintings on paper. I’m struggling at the moment for a title for the new series of squares, and it just isn’t coming to me yet. So I’ll stop struggling and then maybe it will reveal itself when the time is right.

Here is one canvas that I finished over the weekend.

“Spring Thaw” – Acrylic on gallery wrap canvas, 24×30 inches – Available for Sale

And here’s a peek at one of the 8″ square ones. These are acrylic on Arches 300# rough paper with a hand-deckled edge. No titles as yet.

New Series, #2 – Acrylic on 300# Arches watercolor paper

I am overjoyed to have had some recent painting sales. That has provided a great impetus to keep heading out to the studio every day.

Here’s hoping you’re having some discoveries and inspirations too. Stay creative!


What’s New in the Studio

January 13, 2018

Just looking around the studio this morning at a whole bunch of unfinished projects, wondering which ones to focus on first. That’s not a bad problem to have, actually, but it does tend to give me pause. What it means is that I need to clear some space in order to focus. Am I the only one?

Over here are several little baby canvases ready for their last coat of clear gel. Once that’s been applied and has a day to dry, I can move them out of the way.

Over here is a stack of my favorite size of small panels with texture applied, waiting patiently for me to get back to work on them.

And in several places around the studio are some half-finished, fairly large canvases. I’d say there are a half dozen of those standing up against the wall.

It’s been unusually cold in our neck of the woods, so that’s going to be my excuse. It’s cold in the studio. It has its own heating, but I’d have to commit a day to be out there working. OK, I’ve talked my way through this dilemma. Now time to get to work on it.

Just a quick note about my Etsy shop: If you know of anyone who’d like some affordable art that is small enough to fit just about anywhere, and can brighten your day, please save the link and share it freely. You, my faithful blog readers, have always been the people who have kept me going and helped me get the word out about my work, and for that I am forever grateful.

Have a creative day!