Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Abandoned Egg

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My goal is to someday say this:

“I have already settled it for myself so flattery and criticism go down the same drain and I am quite free.” -Georgia O’Keeffe

Monday, March 18, 2019

Make Your Own Breakfast

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Last year I built myself a table in my studio. I had some vague ideas about how I might use it, but it's turned out to be INFINITELY useful! Like, it's pretty much constantly covered with multiple projects. Here I was shipping books and working on a sewing project.

I got the idea for the design on Pinterest - thank you Pinterest!. You can see a picture of a smaller version if you follow that link. I used two IKEA Kallax shelf units, with a piece of 3/4" baltic birch plywood underneath (with locking castors on the bottom) and another, bigger piece, on top. I glued a piece of formica to the surface for easy cleaning. I'm so glad I put wheels on the bottom, as I move it around all the time. I've decided from now on, everything in my studio should be on wheels!

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Just One Egg

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I had to take a little break and do some non-painting stuff for a few days. Fortunately eggs last a while in the fridge, especially if they aren't for eating. : ) After this one I have 7 left.

Because I was a little rusty this morning, I forced myself to do something that I should REALLY be doing on a more regular basis. I divided a panel into 4 (3in. x 3in.) sections, chose an object, and painted it 4 times, doing some experimenting with each one. And guess what - I learned stuff! I was going to show you a picture, but I started worrying about what you might think about it. And that's not the point - the point is for me to experiment without any thought of it being "finished." Because I think we all need a safe space like that where fear is not allowed. It was just what I needed today.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Eye on the Prize

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I got a LOT of responses to my last post (thank you!). I loved reading them. Here's one I particularly enjoyed:
"Artists like to do art, and who cares how we do it -  just so we enjoy the process: paint by numbers, Bob Ross, copying the masters, learning from you and countless others. I have been going to an art coffee group discussion for the last few years and what I have come to  believe is there are no rules - you just get to enjoy the creative process however you want to and that is all there is to it."
There seems to be a general consensus that every artist finds their own balance with things - learning, finding inspiration, and solitary work. We make our own rules. And we might as well have fun doing it, right!?!

Sunday, March 10, 2019


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creating in a vacuum vs. borrowing

There’s an artist I’ve followed for many years whose work I love. He has some unusual techniques/results that are similar to what I’ve been after lately. I’ve been searching around online for any instruction or process videos, to no avail. So I mustered up some courage and emailed him to ask if he would ever consider creating something like that, and that I was sure many people, including me, would pay to see it.

He wrote me back right away, and said he understood this kind of thing was popular right now, but that he didn’t believe “in those things having any good for the art world in general.” He said he didn’t feel like he could contribute to something so “inherently wrong.”

He said, “If I can suggest anything which will definitely open up your mind and your process, it would be to lock yourself away in a cabin with art supplies, empty notebooks, and as many tools as you can gather, without any internet or outside influence beyond that of the voices of trusted family and friends ( aside from their input on art ) and just let yourself go for months at a time.. It’s more difficult to find trust in one’s own values, than it is to paint a masterpiece.”

In the weeks since, I have done a lot of thinking about this. My first (very emotional) reaction was defensiveness, because I myself wrote a book, teach workshops, and continue to put out online tutorials. Is what I’ve been doing all this time wrong? I am not convinced.

Then I thought of a (great!) book I read a few years ago, “Steal Like an Artist,” which basically says the exact opposite of what this guys suggests - that nothing is original and we should steal any and every idea we come across.

On the other hand, one thing I’ve realized about having gotten a (pardon me) sh*tty art education from my university, is that I was forced to teach myself. And in doing so, I came up with my own unique process. Yes, part of that came from looking at other people’s work and trying to figure out how they did it, but I was essentially alone in my studio, for years, toiling away, experimenting with one thing after another, finding my way. Would I be in the same place today if I’d had good instruction from one person from the beginning? Or would I be a version of them? OR, would I have borrowed little things from lots of people/places and recombined them into my own thing? Or did I do that anyway?

I haven’t come to any conclusions, but I do believe that every artist finds their own balance, naturally. I tend to look for inspiration when my own well runs dry. And I look for instruction when I’ve been trying something new and am frustrated with it, hoping to get a “been there, done that” perspective from someone else. But there are lots of extended periods where I’ve got tons of ideas popping into my head, and the things I try ARE working.

I’m not going to share the artist’s name who emailed me back, because he’s not a bad guy, just someone with a strong opinion. But I wanted to share this story because it gave ME a lot to think about, and I would love to hear how it gets your gears moving!

Friday, March 08, 2019

Golden Orb

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I bought a dozen eggs for painting. So far I've gone through 4. Hopefully I'll have better luck going forward, or else this egg series will end rather quickly.

Thursday, March 07, 2019

Tiptoeing Away

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I thought I'd try the black gesso again, but this time with a still life. I like the tomatoes a little better on black. Though I believe they are trying to escape the cups - do they look a little drunk to you? Drunk with love, perhaps...

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

No Tea with Tomatoes?

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Another attempt at these tomatoes. I will say - the smaller they are, the tougher they are to paint. This is on a 6x6, so they are tiny (little buggers)!

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Out of the Pool!

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This is actually my 5th attempt at these tomatoes. I know I talk about this a lot, but I paint many "attempts" that don't end up making the cut. It's HARD to spend even just  a couple of hours on a painting (and use up paint) and then toss it. I know! It's hard for me every single time. But I think that if you are really serious about your craft, and about improving and growing, you have to expect failure. Because all failure means is you tried something new and it didn't work. Ok, but I guarantee you learned something from it! So it didn't work out (you can't sell it), but it wasn't a waste!! You pick yourself up and you try again. The picking yourself up is success.

I talk about this a lot because it really requires a person (me) to give themselves pretty constant pep-talks. So it's on my mind a lot. 😁

Monday, March 04, 2019


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We survived the Snowpocalypse! Last Monday we got over a foot of snow, and then more over the next day or so - almost 2 feet total. In Eugene, snow that sticks means we can't leave the house for a while. Snow falls so infrequently here that the city isn't equipped with many plows, and only the main roads get cleared. Ours isn't a main road.

We also lost power and internet on Monday, and didn't get it back until Friday. This made for quite an adventure. We managed to keep one room heated, and spent most of our time there, reading and napping, and spending some quality family time. Honestly, I wouldn't trade it.

BUT, I'm glad to be able to paint again! My first victim, these little tomatoes I found when we finally made our way to the store.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Gotta Take This

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These guys wouldn't have been interesting at all if they hadn't been sitting in the little shaft of light. I have to admit, I'm quite in love with light and shadow. I think I could paint a pile trash as long as there was some light and shadow!

Thursday, February 21, 2019


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I can't remember where I got this picture, but if it's in my files it's probably from one of those copyright free sites like Morgue File. Mostly, if I'm painting from a photo, I like to use my own, but every once in a while I find a gem!

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Tree Shadow

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This is my second success on black gesso, and I thought I'd write down a few things I've learned so far. First of all, compared to painting on white, it is much easier to judge dark values, since I'm putting them all straight on the darkest dark, black. Also, it is much more fun to put on bright colors, because they really pop against the black, especially if I leave little bits of black showing through.

I do have to be careful to go light enough with my values! Because the colors look so bright against the black, it's easy to misjudge them. I had to alter this one after it was dry because I realized I didn't go light enough with the orange wall. Also I had to find a different color to draw my scene with first. Normally I use burnt umber, which doesn't really show up on black. It worked to mix a little bit of yellow and red in with the umber.

I HIGHLY recommend trying it! If nothing else, it gives one a different perspective on values. I will definitely do more.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Sold Out

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Here's another horizontal scene. This one is from a market in Germany. I love how the light from red umbrella filters down onto the tiny, little food van.

Sunday, February 17, 2019


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Big thanks to everyone who has ordered my books! I have just a few volume 4's left, and then they will be no more.

As for the painting, after I finished it (an urban scene from Seattle) I realized I had already done a cropped version, about 2 years before. It's interesting to me to see the different choices I made, after the fact. My favorite part in this one was all the different colors in the "white" trim.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Behind a Ford

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A fabulous artist, and good friend, Cathleen Rehfeld, sometimes paints on black gessoed boards. I was so inspired by a recent painting of hers that I decided to try it myself! I will admit I've had as many failures with it so far as successes, but this one worked. At least I think so. : )

NEW BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT! I didn't put out a new book at the end of last year (like I usually do) because of my surgery and recovery. But I had plenty of paintings, so I decided to go ahead and do it a little late. I just picked up a big box of volume 9's from the printer!! -->

I only like to carry five volumes at a time, so I am phasing out volume 4, which I have put on sale until they are gone.

Get books here.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Welcome Home

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I've been digging deep into some old reference files lately. This is pretty normal for me in the dead of winter. This one is from Seattle a couple of summers ago. Soon I'll need to go off and collect more material. Soon it will be spring! And so it goes.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Cold and Windy

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I spotted these two lovely ladies in downtown San Francisco last year. The white socks make the outfit, don't ya think?!

Sunday, February 10, 2019


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This image says so much to me about girls. The tall skinny girl in her skimpy outfit. The mom of that girl trying to keep it together. The little girl looking on at what she thinks she has to be. The mom of that girl completely oblivious. That might not be what you see, but ok.