Friday, September 19, 2014

A Red Faced Warbler joins her buddies...

Red Faced Warbler
Finished this little painting today. It was really a challenge because I wanted to use, generally, the background colors as the previous bird paintings but it was hard to make the body pop out. So I move to to a much higher key than my photo source....artistic license and all that.  Painting her face I kept wondering if she's singing, complaining that hubby's late with dinner, or calling the kids back to the nest...?

Here are the four in the series. Each is 6x6", oil on board
Click here purchase

This Cardinal - the background color is too different to group it with the others; I may change it. We'll see....

Monday, September 15, 2014

Two October Workshops - come on down...

Fall session at College of Marin has begun -and both my workshops are in October.

Student Conquering Color Mixing
October 4th -  GET READY TO PAINT!  10:00 - 3:00.
For complete Novices.  This class already is close to capacity.  If you're interested sign up soon.

October 25th ARTISTICALLY YOURS  10:00 - 1:00  (note, time is wrong in error in the catalog)
Open to ALL levels. Lots of playful painting - no specific subject to paint from. Exercises and warm-ups.

To sign up for either class, click this link, scroll down and click VISUAL ARTS and then find the class you want to join.!

Be sure to check my website for the Supply Lists!

Spread the word. Both these classes are no-stress, comfortable adventures.  Come for FUN.
Write me if you have questions.

Here are a sampling of photos from previous classes.  Do these 'kids' look like they're having a goodtime or what?

Monday, September 8, 2014

Guess Who?

8x8" oil on board
Took the photo not this but previous summer during the intermission of a children's production at The Playhouse in San Anselmo. There's a great park-like lawn...and kids were everywhere.  It was a fun day - the young thespians were so good; the picnic on the lawn-yummy. And getting several good paintings shots was icing on the cake.  One of my earlier posts "Follow the Leader"--also came from this same day.  The texture on this board is very hard and bumpy.  It's a birch board with gessoed canvas. I put plenty of paint on it; just a naturally rough surface.  Not sure if this is my favorite type.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Bluejay - take two

Blue Jay
When I got in my studio yesterday decided the blue on blue of at mr. blue jay just didn't do it for me. When the paint dried it looked pretty dull. He sat surrounded by blue when two of the other birds in this 'series' sat in a "brown" background (green/red/ blue/white mixed in varying degrees). Decided to change him to match the others.

On a totally different note, you know how we're moving to our 'downsizing' condo soon.? We went over to take a peek at the construction Saturday; thought I'd post a 'before' picture.  SCARY!   Hard to imagine it done in less than 60 days.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Back to the Birds....

Blue Jay 

Cardinal Rules redux

Yesterday I decided to paint the blue jay.  He looks young and pretty sweet, no?  Unlike the blue jay we had a few years ago - that guy would dive-bomb my cat trying to pluck fur for the family nest.  The Ms. must have squawked 'my hero' each time he returns with a beak full.   The Cardinal - do you remember him from the other day.  While painting the blue jay I kept looking at the 'mauve' background and it look muddy to me; darker than you see in the blog (backlighting).  So I mixed up some naples white, raw sienna and a bit of white.  The little scumble at the bottom left is not the painting but rather the lip of my easel; I need to lift the panel and take a better photo.

BTW full disclosure: these are not my own photos and it's an iffy thing painting from them.  They are the photos I found in our local Wild Care magazine (Marin's animal education and care center)

Speaking of birds - check out these ravens.  Took this shot a winter or two ago - I've seen them several times in persimmon trees.  Feel free to paint it for halloween!  Send me your image if you do - would love to see it.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Oldie but Goodie, Classes and more...

6x6"             Take Five      oil on panel
   click here to purchase

The title of today's post refers a painting I did awhile back. Okay, okay - I can just hear you saying "Oh - I thought you were talking about yourself!"  - very funny :-)  I started in the studio today; not sure if I'll wipe it off or finish it. We'll see...

CLASSES:  I'm teaching two Fall workshops at College of Marin. Check them out ...and if you know others who might be interested, please pass along the link to my blog - or just forward this email.  Note: Oct. 4th class has a limited number of openings.

Oct. 4   Get Ready to Paint - this class is for Total Novice students. See description/register here:

Oct. 25  Artistically Yours - this is a 'free wheeling' painting session. Music, experimentation, very loose. Also one day. All levels welcome.  Read more:

Trivia: I think I mentioned in July we sold our house of 22 years.  We've been temporarily renting an apartment until we get a new place.  One great thing about this location is that it's really convenient to most of our favorite haunts.

Here are a couple photos I took along the 20 minute walk to my studio....both of these photos were from the pedestrian overpass near the Larkspur Ferry Bldg. The top one is of two ferries that shuttle folks back and forth to San Francisco; the bottom shows a peak view of Mt. Tam in Mill Valley, two towns south of here. I should have waited to take it from the top of the pass, but you get the idea. I'll miss this when we move.

Larkspur Landing Ferries

Mt. Tam in Mill Valley 

Monday, August 25, 2014


Not getting much time to paint this week (aarrrh) ---one of those "paper work", appointments etc.  So today I'm posting a drawing I did last week at Linda's.  Don't do enough drawing - should be a daily activity - even while watching tv or waiting to get into that dental appt. etc. but...  Anyway, I was flipping through a magazine when I saw this b&w photo of model Tsanna.  Don't know her but...what great bone structure, no?  Called to me.  When you are interested in your subject it is SO much easier.   To those students out there - keep drawing!

Friday, August 22, 2014

A So Cal Study

Headed down to the OC to celebrate my brother-in-law's birthday last of those Big '0s. Good Time.  Then treated myself to a short visit with my painting pal, Linda Yoder.

As usual, we got yakking about artists whose work excites us and she introduced me to Milt Kobayashi. Wow!  Awesome--full of exciting color and boldness. Energy and exaggeration. His style reminded me of work I'd seen awhile back by Malcolm Liepke, but a bit more whimsical. Evidently they studied and painted together.

I decided to do a study right then and there--using his work as a lesson in broad strokes for the face and figure.  I tend to blend blend blend when doing faces and figures. Wanted to practice putting color down and leaving it alone.

Here's his original followed by my study.  Lessons I worked on: line and gesture, bold strokes for the facial planes, minimal blending, and ..pouty lips! I left out his wild signature hair in the study. I love it but thought I'd just leave the study as is for my version. Milt Kobayashi

Study oil on linen - Valente
I will do a few more to get the feel ...the motor memory and then will try and paint a few of my own people in a bolder brighter way.  One day hope to take a class with this new FAVE of mine.

In the meantime - I'll continue my bird series....and painting some figures the way I have come to at this point.  Evolving is what keeps it all fresh and fun...but it has to come naturally and not forced. We'll see where this interest takes me...

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Cardinal Rules


Blue Winged Warbler

Still Don't Know!

Had a lot of fun painting this 'in-you-face-Cardinal'. Can't you just feel he's going to get his way.....or else!   While painting "Red" I kept looking at my two earlier bird paintings; felt they needed just a touch of something to jazz a smidge. I found a couple new photos of Blue Winged Warblers - they vary quite a bit from head to toe. So I selected a more chiseled profile and like it a lot better.  The bottom painting - notice there are are a couple brush strokes of blue in the shadows (we all enjoy a touch of make-up now and again)and I smoothed out his toupee a bit.  The highlights were too white before.  You can compare these with my last post.  I think the changes show of their personality a bit more.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Bloggin' Blues....

Forgot this guys name - will add soon
Originally sent out July 31 - only got to about 5 people ;-(
Blue Winged Warbler

Bloggn' Blues..   aaarrrh... found out that many of my posts aren't getting to my readers. And the blogs I subscribe to aren't coming to my inbox!?  I posted the top birdie July 31 but it only got to a couple of subscribers...even I didn't get my email copy.  Yet, an old Dec. 18 2013 post "Follow the Leader" showed up yesterday in my email inbox.  What's that about?

So please excuse this repeat, but for those who didn't get the July 31st post-- I'm finally back painting after several months of packing and moving.  Started with a few warm-ups - resulting in these small birds. They're so sweet - really fun to do.

If you get an email post on Aug. 7 - would you let me know in comments or reply email?  Hubby worked on the blog tonight - hoping it's fixed.  Thanks!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Hello Again!

I know! I've not been posting for months ....because we recently moved after 21 years in our old house.  We're downsizing big time so I spent the last 90 days sorting, donating, selling, tossing out things...and almost going nuts in the process.  Also I moved my studio from the house to a fun funky building with about 20 other artists.  So all that packing and unpacking too.

The other day I painted for the first time in months.  I was so "cold" I decided to just use a cheap canvas board, divide it in quarters and quickly paint four warm up impressions of this birdie.  Various colors, timed myself on a couple (20 min each).  I felt like someone getting back on a bike after years of not riding.

So today I went in and painted a 'final' 6x6" version - this little guy.  It went really fast - doing practice pieces sure makes a difference (like practicing a piano piece lots before a recital).  Anyway - I'm pretty pleased with the way he came out.

BTW - I have stopped getting all but two of the blogs I have signed up for.  I even tried to sign-up again - nada.  I'm really bummed because I so enjoy getting my friends' painting posts.  

I'm curious if you are getting mine.  If you are, would you let me know by commenting below or sending me an email?  THANKS

Monday, June 2, 2014

Class Saturday - Artistically Yours

We have space in our Saturday class - so thought I'd send out a note in case any of you want to register.
It'll be at Drake High School  9:30 - 12:30.  A one-day workshop.

Here's the write-up from the catalog

Think Picasso,Diebenkorn or's not their traditional work that comes to mind , but rather those paintings created once they discovered/created their unique styles. 

While there are many skills and techniques to learn along your artistic journey (composition value, line etc, ) it is also important, and fun to look for inner inspiration, tap into your creativity, and find your own voice. 

In this workshop we'll start with warm-up exercises and then set you on your personal journey. You'll have a chance to experiment in a supportive environment. You'll paint an original work without the aid of a set-up subject or photograph. 

Acrylic paint, hard pastels, markers or crayon are best for this class.

Note: This class is a one day workshop, so you must bring supplies. For Supply list go to

If you want to sign up - do so by Wednesday morning.  
Try this link

Or contact Tam High Community Education. 

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Sneak Preview.....

Unreal..moving after 23 years. I feel like Cinderella BEFORE the fairy godmother showed up---sweeping, sprucing up, sorting, starting to pack. Where are those helpful little birds and mice when you need them?

Of course - moving includes all the stuff in my studio (supplies, frames...and paintings)... so...
Open Studio =  Moving Sale
 Lots of Special Deals: discount corners, sale trays...and more.  The less I have to move into a smaller studio the better.  Good for me.... good for you.

Here's a preview of the almost-ready-studio  Come see the rest of it and more paintings. 
May 3/4 - and May 10/11  (note-I have to leave about 1:00 on Sunday 4th;  Patricia will host)

Long Shot 

Figure Corner

Abstracts & Landscapes

and a sample of my friend's Patricia's Encaustics

Monday, April 28, 2014

Photo from MOS Gala....

When we arrived at the opening exhibit for Marin Open Studios it was almost empty, quiet and easy to walk around, see the art.  By the time we left about 45 minutes later it was jammed.  Phil snapped a shot just before we headed out - me and my roses.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Gala - Travel with Paints and more...

Orion Rose

OK - let's start with the 'and more' and work back to the Gala.  Orian Rose, above, is one of the few abstracts I've painted.  It's textured, acrylic on canvas, using warm, harmonious colors.  It was painted as a 4-panel (quadriptych) but I think I prefer it as a 3 part - though I still have the fourth- a girl can always change her mind, right?  Each panel is 6x6".  

OK - now about Traveling with Paints.  An wonderful artist, Dreama, recently posted a blog all about traveling with your art supplies.  Saw it on Carol Marine's blog site.  Just had to share it with you all.

Finally:  Saturday night was the Gala opening of the exhibit of work by the artists participating in 2014 Marin Open Studios.   It was a delightful, albeit packed, event; donations of great food and wine were a bonus. Two separate spaces in the Bon Air Center - my work is in Gallery 2, right next to Road Runner, Noahs etc.  Runs through May 17th, Tuesdays thru Sundays 11-6:00.
They also had a silent auction - here are some of the donated pieces:


Monday, April 14, 2014

Aeroskobing....finished in time for Open Studios

I'm preparing for two full weekends of Open Studio in May - going through my inventory, framing etc. Came across a half done painting...!  Had fun finishing up Sunday evening.  I painted this from a photo we took in Aeroskobing, Denmark almost 10 years ago. We were biking around the island Easter week - you can tell how verdant and lush it is. A magical place; like a fairy tale ...culturally preserved much as it was when first built up in 1800: thatched roof cottages, farmland, sheep everywhere.  Danish high school students spend several months on the island learning their history and cultural traditions.

Marin Open Studios-   May 3&4 and then again May 10&11.  In my home studio.  Do come!  I'll be sending out invites in the next few days.  If you don't get one by Wednesday - let me know.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Beginners Only! Coming Soon....College of Marin

Just a heads up - there are a still a few seats left in the March 22nd workshop "Get Ready to Paint" at College of Marin, Kentfield.

This class is for total novices.  Really.    It's designed for students who have wanted to paint but are hesitant, never painted before--or it's been a zillion years.  We'll cover basic terms and tools: brushes, paints, surfaces, color mixing, value etc.  The point of the class is to get you ready for your next painting adventure; after this you'll be more confident taking a landscapes, abstracts, figure class etc.

You can sign up here: 
Or call the Admin. office for a form by email which you can fax back or drop off.  But do it soon!

Here are some newbie artists from my February at Drake High.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Spring Tulips

acrylic                                       Spring Tulips                                   6x6

Tulip Season, yay!   Tulips everywhere - parks, gardens, farmer's markets - even check-out stands. Must be Spring (well, 8 days).
Click Here to purchase.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Mollie the Model

One of my models wandered in today and posed while I was cleaning up the studio.  She's right; I should be painting not cleaning but someone has to do it once in awhile. And she refuses.
More soon....

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Patti Mollica's Workshop. Great fun!

Just back from a three-day workshop taught by Patti Mollica.  She's delightful and an especially good teacher.  Rather than just do a demo and expect the students to 'get it', she uses very specific exercises to convey specific techniques....which I can use at home too.
Today I did a couple studies using one of the exercises from the class:  defining light/middle/dark values and painting with limited strokes.   Also working with a much wider brush.
The workshop was in Carmel Valley - gorgeous area and great weather. My friend Linda from southern California joined came up for the class I met a bunch of new painters, including one gal who lives just down the road.  I got a lot out of this class - including some special memories.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Free Demo of Paints and Products in San Rafael

I get a lots of questions in my classes about paints and product additives for a variety of art-making effects.  Noticed this in an email today:   Free Demo at Riley Street Art Supply presented by a Golden Paints rep.

Saturday 11:00 - 1:00.  They have limited space so you'll want to register.  Enjoy.

Learn more and register here:  Riley's Demo

An Experiment with a fun result

Take a long, floppy flat brush.  Add acrylic paint and plenty of water. When you touch the paper the bristles splay out, flatten floppily--as the brush decides what marks it'll make versus the ones you intended. Like painting with an old kitchen mop.  Great Fun!!  This took about 10 minutes, if that.  I'm not presenting this as a "finished painting"...just the result of my quick experiment.  It's a technique used many years ago in a Bob Burridge class.  Painted on gessoed watercolor paper.  Will try it on board and canvas.

On a personal note - yesterday brought yet another birthday.  A fun day, a full mailbox, ending with dinner by Phil and my daughter's family.  Topped off, literally, with scrumptious, homemade banana-split treats:  marshmallow, chocolate sauces, praline and strawberry toppings along with the traditional whipped cream and nuts. So Sweet! (pun intended :-)   And, I got my own set to devour over the next few weeks.... Not only am I older - I'm fatter today! (Notice the chalk-board labels.  Really, you write w chalk.  Cool and reusable.)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Winter Sweet

6x6                                                        acrylic

Bought some really fresh California tangerines today.  As I unpacked my bag, this one just begged to be painted.  I find when I'm smitten with my subject it practically paints itself.  This is the first time I've painted pyrex glass, with its faint green cast.  The edge sometimes showed green; sometime was totally clear except for the light reflection.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Come Rain or Come Shine

Come Rain: Think a little rain was going to stop these budding artists?  No Way! They arrived wet, schlepping bags of art supplies, ready to jump in, mess around with brushes, create a ton of fun colors, slog through value scales and then, because they worked fast and hard, did I reward them with free time? Nope.. I got out my timer and hit them with a timed painting challenge. Paint your subject in 5 minute-no more. When the bell rings, you stop now..and being the next one.  Come Shine: And STILL they smiled. (  Good sports all!

Denice ...........................Margot
Today's class was at Drake High in Fairfax...offered through Tam District Community Ed. Like the class in January at COM - this class is designed for those who have never ever painted before or if they have's either been a long time ago....or they have been doing their own thing and want to learn some paintings basics.  Some will go on to more formal classes; some will continue to experiment on their own.  But bottom line, I think we were all there for the pure pleasure of playing with paint!  It doesn't get much better than that. 

(folks, forgive these blurry photos. used my phone. wasn't steady- too fast I guess)       


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Two Topics Today: The Challenge ...How to Figure Out What to Paint

The two parts of this title have nothing to do with one another. Or do they?

Part 1: The Challenge.  The other evening I painted from a weekly challenge offered on Daily Paintworks. The challenge, from a fellow artist, was to replicate the values in a b&w photo of her cat, regardless of what colors you chose.  You'll see I decided on complimentary colors...blues and oranges.

(for my students- about the 'black"in the painting:  I wanted it interesting, not out the tube. It includes varying degrees of Ultramarine Blue, Alizarin Crimson, sometimes Viridian or Sap Green, a even a dab of orange at times.)

Part 2:  How to Figure Out What to Paint.  If you've ever grappled with this (me? like all the time!) check out a recent segment/podcast ..from the blog talk show "Artists Helping Artists", hosted by palette knife painter Leslie Saeta.  She and Carrie Waller (watercolorist) share not only their personal ideas but review an excellent article by Marion Boddy-Evans.  You're give a plethora of ideas from specific subject matter to where to find inspiration. Plus exercises to get you thinking in a whole new way.  I encourage to listen (be patient, there's a lot of friendly chatter along the way)...
iTunes (click on Podcasts - then search Artists Helping Artists )
Or here:

So, are parts 1 & 2 really so different? Nope - finding challenges (on-line or on your own) is just another resource of try out new subject matter.   You never know what will get your excited.  And even if the subject doesn't become your signature work, it's always a way to hone your skills.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Credit where credit it due! ...and Tip about Acrylic Paint Hue and Tube Labels

First , I want to share with you the name of the artist who painted the two paintings (the dazzling eggs and the handsome portrait) in my last post:- hers was the very meticulous studio - white, organized and lovely.  Suzanne Berry.  I've long subscribed to her blog and love seeing her work and, as importantly, reading about her journey.  Check it out!

Secondly, a student asked me about tubes of acrylic paint marked Hue.  I tried to explain about the label and hues but not sure I was clear. The particular color in question was Alizarin Crimson.   Here is some info about the Golden Alizarin Crimson Hue that was in question:

The chemical name for Alizarin Crimson is Quinacridone / Chlorinated Copper Phthalocyanine. The ratings on the Alizarin Crimson Hue are:

Transparency Level: 4   (high - very transparent)   Good as a glaze, to mix or as a think color.

Lightfastness:  1    Excellent!  not likely to fade or change colors over very long time.

ASTM International (formerly known as the American Society for Testing and Materials) classifies artists' colors based on a test that simulates 20 years of gallery exposure.  Lightfastness standards that you should look for when selecting paint: 

ATSM 1 = Excellent 
ATSM 2 =  Very Good
ATSM 3 = Not Sufficiently Lightfast

Here's a good link to learn how to read the label on paint:

Also you can go on the Golden Site ...research/support and find all kinds of important information about their products.

Monday, January 27, 2014

What a COOL bunch Painters! And.. photos for encouragement

The workshop at College of Marin last Saturday was terrific....and crazy.  Arrived to find the doors locked and a loud high pitched whistling coming from inside the room. I stressed a bit because it's takes me quite a while to set up. I made a call but got a message machine..yikes more panic. But then in only a few minutes superhero Valerie came to my rescue.

And..what a special group of folks.  From a young au pair to recent retirees - and everyone in between. They arrived by car, bus and bike - determined to try their hand at something creative, something that most have wanted to do for years and were either afraid of failure or just too darn busy (like two young mothers who were tickled to find some time for themselves!).   My bad though - we were so engrossed, I forgot to take photos of the gang.

One student is concerned because he's trying to figure out how to use a small space for a studio.
So - below are some studios for inspiration.

The first two shots are of a room that may be bigger than you have, but given the big paintings she creates, it's a pretty small.  If you're painting smaller, you can get by with an even smaller space, no? Photos show both ends of the room- she probably moves her easel based on the light and what she's painting.

The third photo is tells it all - if you really love to paint, you can paint anywhere, no matter how small the space.  Once you start painting you'll forget the size of the room.

Check out Google Images and search for art studios...or small art studios for lots ideas.

Let me know if this gives you some inspiration!