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A Wonderful Spring

June 18, 2016

Spring was just beautiful here in our part of the world. It stayed cool even at night, right up until two weeks ago. And then, after a few days of running the A/C, we had another bonus cool night, and were able to have the windows open.

If you know me, you know that this usually means lots of time outside puttering in the flower beds and getting a small vegetable garden planted. In between, I’ve spent quite a bit of time fussing with those new 8×8-inch panels, trying to resolve a few of them that didn’t want to cooperate. No new collages, though. I miss doing them. But now that the panels are ready for the gallery, I can take a break to play in the studio, making gelli prints and some collage.

Here’s a shot of my flower bed, and a few flower closeups:


Those irises are finished now, but then came the amaryllises:

Amaryllises April 17

And the Dutch irises:

Dutch Iris 4


And of course, the peonies.
Peonies 3

And here are a few of the new paintings. All are acrylics with texture on cradled panel, 8x8x2 inches. I finished 12 of these and shipped them to the gallery this week. Now on to the next thing.

Three New 06_16


Starts and Fits

February 25, 2016

It’s been a slow start getting back into the studio after family obligations kept me away for several days. My young student has gone from weekly to every other week, which is good, because we have a good two-hour session each time. That’s enough for her to get some good solid help and encouragement. In between times she will no doubt keep drawing, the way she always has. This past Saturday she left here very proud of what she had done.

Progress in the studio includes working on 12 new panels – such glorious fun – and the occasional collage session just to break up the blocked times. Yes, I’m blocked, or stuck, on some of the panels. They are giving me fits. Can’t afford to dwell on them for too long. It only makes matters worse. Here they are in progress as of today.

Boxes 02_16

I consider 7 of these finished and ready for signing. The other 5, not so much. When I’m sure of them all, I’ll show individual photos.

And a couple of new collages . . .


A New Season Cropped

A New Season – Collage, 4×4″ on 8×10″ backing

Beneath it All Cropped

Beneath It All – Collage, 6×8″ on 8×10″ backing


Happy arting to all!

Art with Kids

February 3, 2016
Ethan Painting 1

A little friend of mine exploring color with brushes and a brayer

This post is to answer a reader’s questions about how I approach teaching drawing to kids. Perhaps it’s of interest to all my readers. So here goes.

I take an open approach, with the structure tailored to age-appropriate activities. Young preschool-age children greatly benefit from just having plenty of materials in front of them so that they can explore making marks and putting down colors. Washable markers are great for this age group, and watercolors are fantastic for them, because they are easy cleanup as well. It’s OK to mix it up. Pencil, marker, and paint all in the same work of art.

Provide protective clothing — an old t-shirt maybe, plenty of space at a table, and let them go. For watercolors, they need larger brushes than those that are included with a kids’ watercolor set — perhaps choices of brushes. A few small brushes (about an inch wide) from the paint aisle in the hardware store work great for spreading lots of color. Another good choice would be a couple of small sponge brushes. White construction paper is cheap and great for painting with watercolors. Show them how to keep their brushes clean, by rinsing and blotting the brush on a folded paper towel when changing colors. This is a skill even little ones can learn.

Preschool kids will draw and paint a complete work of art that only they can interpret. It’s best just to be encouraging and appreciate what they’ve done without critiquing. Even though it might not seem they are learning anything, they are. They’re learning how to express themselves, how to make their own marks, and are reinforcing eye-hand coordination. They’re seeing how colors mixed together make a different color. And most importantly, they are receiving encouragement from you to keep exploring and learning.

It’s not until 9 or 10 that kids become concerned about drawing objects realistically. Before that age, they have already developed their own symbols for things. In the last post I mistakenly stated my current student’s age as 8, but she is 9 and her 10th birthday is very soon.  I’m seeing her already struggling with looking at things as they are and simultaneously attempting to just resort to her own idea of how she thinks they should look. This is a crucial time for kids learning to draw. I want to keep the experience a positive one, while helping her see things as they really are. I give her some warm-ups and then a longer session in which she draws from an object or a still life. After the focused session, we go back to a less structured time for a little while, when she gets to draw things from memory and create something just for fun.

Since taking on a student again, I have gone back to the principles contained in two books that I used to own, but had long ago donated to the public library. Now I guess I need to get them again. I highly recommend these, if you want to brush up on your drawing skills, or teach a young person to draw:

The Natural Way to Draw by Kimon Nicolaides, and Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards.

Late Night in the Studio

January 24, 2016

I sat here into the late evening, doing some sprucing up on my blog, and then for some reason decided to go out into the studio with the intention of maybe resuming work on the panels that I hadn’t gotten to since the holidays. But they had been set aside for my weekly drawing student to have room to work.

Boxes 06_15

So I got those out, laid them out on two tables, and in the process there were several things that needed to be put away or tossed out, and then one thing led to another. And another. But with some great music playing in the background, it was nice out there. Now I have everything ready to go in the morning. It’s too late now. The kitty wants me to go to bed.

Blueberry Waiting for More Crab


Oh, and here’s a new collage:

Early Morning

Early Morning – Collage and Acrylic on Magazine Paper, 6×8 inches



If the Kitchen Is Too Cold, Just Bake Some Bread

January 18, 2016

kitchen studio

On days when it’s a little too cold in the studio, I sit at my kitchen table with the nice big light just above me and I sketch, and doodle, and make collage papers, and actually sometimes even make collages. And my laptop is never far away, of course.

I’ve been spending a lot of time recently looking online at ideas for my weekly drawing lessons for an 8-year-old. In an odd way, I feel pressure to get it right, since I haven’t taught in a long time. Therefore, I tend to obsess endlessly about that one thing. But a funny thing has happened as I’ve gone through my searches. I have been inspired by some new discoveries for my own work, tons of tempting new products, and by some older ideas and approaches that still work just as well as they always have.

As I come across some of them, I tell myself I should share them with my blog readers. I’ve been out of the loop for way too long, so maybe you’re ahead of me on some of these things, but it doesn’t hurt to share what we learn.

For instance, what is the absolute best white pen? It turns out that for best coverage, flow, and whiteness, you might want a  Whiteout pen from the office supply store. Who knew? For a full demo and comparison of various white pens, you can check out this video. I love white lines on black paper as shown here in my newest collage. (I think these white marks were made with a very skippy paint pen, plus some white colored pencil.)

Subterranean - collage, 5x7 inches on 8x10 backing

Subterranean – collage, 5×7 inches on 8×10 backing


Another “aha!” moment I have had after watching several different videos is that if you want to make precision brush strokes in your chosen color, and for brush lettering, you don’t have to buy an expensive set of brush pens. Instead, just get a water brush and use it with watercolors or inks. For my own use, I am always looking for different mark making tools. I may not do a lot of brush lettering, but having that kind of precision and control is sometimes useful. If the idea of brush lettering intrigues you, I recommend this video.

Here are some painted papers and magazine pages with doodles on top that I’ve created in recent sessions in my “kitchen studio.”

Assorted Papers Jan 2016

If the kitchen is too cold, that just means I need to bake some bread.

Sourdough 05_15



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