Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Chuck's flowers

Hi everybody, it's been a while since I've posted on here. We've been crazy busy with the holidays, I'm sure you all know what it's like. Now that Christmas is done maybe our classes can start getting back to normal. Today we had a fun group, we got some painting done, had a few laughs and Chuck finished his piece. It's so gorgeous I just had to post it here! These flowers were done in colored pencil on Canson paper. The color in the photo is actually a little cooler than the piece really is. The paper is a soft yellow and the flowers have more magenta in them. I tried adjusting the color but just couldn't get it where I wanted it. (I just took it this morning with my little camera and I'm not home where I can really color correct). Anyway.... you can still see how beautifully he painted it. He's developed a hard edge, graphic style that I really like.

One of the real joys of teaching these art classes is seeing the students develop over the years. It's an interested process to watch. Like the rest of us who paint, they go through the struggles of finding a voice, figuring out how to speak in that voice, learn and build the skills they need to say something and then one day it all comes together. A beautiful painting is born.

I hope you're enjoying the holidays and I wish you peace and creativity for the new year!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Where Were You on Wednesday?

We were at the Appleton Museum in Ocala on Wednesday of last week. We were invited to give a demonstration to the Ocala Art Group (OAG) and we received a very nice response. This photo collage was put together by Ray Jowers who played paparazzi that day.

They served us a really good lunch in the Museum Cafe and as Carlynne already mentioned, it was really fun visiting with our friends Nancy, Julie and Maggie. We don't have lunch with friends nearly often enough.

Then we talked to the goup for about an hour and a half and demonstrated ways to combine colored pencil with other media. We also took questions and sold and signed quite a few of our books. All in all it was a very good day. Thank you OAG for inviting us and Ray for taking care of all arrangements.

Peace and love to you all, especially at this time of year,

Signature Showcase

Well, the demo at the Appleton Museum for the Ocala Art Group went very well. We had a nice turn out, enjoyed lunch with friends, did our thing and sold some books. Sometime soon Kelli will be posting a photo or 2 from that day. For right now though I want to show you this.......

I got my copy of the Signature Showcase book yesterday and it's beautiful! And, I'm in it!

Hard to believe it's been 20 years since the beginning of CPSA and the letter that Vera Curnow wrote to the Artist's Magazine wondering if there were other colored pencil artist's out there. The book features work by 177 Signature members. To become a Signature member you have to be accepted to the CPSA International Exhibition 3 times within a 10 year period. Like the Best of Colored Pencil series, all the work in the book is 100% colored pencil but with this one you get to read a little something from each artist. I've been lucky enough to go to some of the conventions and meet people who are included in this book. Every time I open it and see their work I think of them and the time we had at the shows or FL chapter meetings.

The book is a limited edition so don't wait too long if you want your own copy. To order one go to this page. BTW.... the art on the cover is by the very talented Bonnie Auten.

PS: When you get your copy make sure you find page 59. :)



Monday, December 6, 2010

Here are two more pieces that I pulled out yesterday. These are watercolor and colored pencil on hot press watercolor paper. I haven't worked on paper in a while. I love the feel of it, the way the water flows and mingles, the way the pencil works on top..... oh, I'm feeling the urge. It may be time to get out my pile of paper and start playing.

Hope you're having a good Monday.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Brick by Brick

Could you tell I've been kind of scarce around here lately? The creative juices just haven't been flowing. I seem to have figured out the cycle though. Apparently I paint like crazy, produce a lot of work and then suddenly stop. The brick wall is there, I hit it and no matter how I try or what I do, it's not moving. The best thing to do is wait it out and focus on other things.

So, I've been focusing on research and today getting ready for the demo that Kelli and I are doing for the Ocala Art Group on Wednesday. In the process of looking for work to take with me I came across some pieces I really enjoyed doing. These 2 are obviously the same landscape but done with different palettes and on slightly different surfaces. Both are colored pencil on paper. I think you can tell in the photo there's more texture in the top version - I gessoed the paper first. In the bottom version I wanted some texture in the trees so did some scraping on the pencil point with an knife blade and then pressed the shavings down into the surface to make them stick. Give this a try sometime - paint the same scene multiple times and see what you can do to give them their own personality.

I think the wall is starting to shift......

Saturday, November 27, 2010


Do you remember when Kelli and I did the Landfill Art Project and painted hubcaps? This one was done by Robin, a friend of ours in Orlando. I came across her video about the work and thought you might like to see it.

Hope you're having a fabulous weekend!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Artists Making Money

ARTISTS MAKING MONEY! Doesn't that sound good?! That's the title of our newest workshop presented in two half day increments at Red Swan Paint and Art in Ocala, FL. This class is designed for the advanced student artist (or hobbyist) who is doing high quality work and getting ready to sell. The basic business information in this workshop will include helping the artist to price artwork, accept commissions, approach galleries, stay out of trouble with the IRS and more.

For a long time now our advanced students, some of whom have been with us for more than 10 years and doing excellent work, have been asking us how to price their work and how to go about negotiating a commission. We've decided to compile some basic info on the business of art and present it to anyone who is at that in-between stage of not yet professional, but more than Sunday painter. This workshop will give them the foundation to sell successfully, make a profit and pay taxes.

If you need this information, comment to this post or email us at our address so that we can send you more info:

Workshop takes place from 2-5 on November 17, and Dec 1. Isn't green a beautiful color?!

Peace and creativity,

Monday, November 1, 2010

We love our students!

Jane is doing a spectacular job!

Diane's just painting away as usual, damn she's good. :)

Maria's flowers in colored pencil are so rich.

Kelli came out from behind the canvas and took over Jean's painting. She loves it when we grab the brush. The trick is getting it back.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A little detour

Golden Prairie

I took a little side trip from my work on the adoption series which you can see on my other blog, to work on the gold skies again. I'd been wanting to go back to these for a while. They just intrigue me when the light hits a certain way and the look of the painting changes. It's like the sky in the painting changes with the sky outside. These 3 pieces are 12x12, acrylic, oil and gold leaf on canvas.

The Avocado Grove

Morning at the Lake

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Having fun on Monday

We've had some students traveling so we had a small group for class yesterday. Nancy got plenty of attention, maybe even more than she wanted. She's begun working in oil and is having a great time. I think she's doing a great job too.

Kelli let me take her photo :)

If you're in Ocala, stop in and say hello. We're in class on Monday's 12:30-3:30 and Wednesday's 10:00-1:00 at Red Swan Paint & Art.

Hope you're having a lovely Tuesday.

Monday, October 25, 2010

There's just a few faces left

These guys just speak for themselves - so much personality, there's no resisting their charm :) Go see the rest of the family at BJ Trophies in Ocala.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Happy Pumpkin

Hi Everyone,
I like to think this pumpkin is so happy just because he is living at my house now. I went to the Farmers Market in downtown Ocala this morning and brought him home with me. He was airbrushed by Carlynne's husband (she calls him Amazing Husband, but I just call him Mark). Well it is a painting of sorts. Anyway, just wanted to share this cheerful face with you.
They have more of these one of a kind pumpkins at B J Trophies in Ocala, FL and the Farmers Market in downtown Ocala takes place every Friday morning.
Peace and Love,

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

For Your Amusment

Hi All,

I wanted to tell you about an incident that happened in one of our regular classes a few weeks ago. It was a particularly small class that day and as those days tend to go, there was probably more gossip and exchanging of recipes than working. So there we are, Carlynne and I enjoying an easy day in class, although not a financially lucrative one, when out of the blue, one of our students, we’ll call her “Sheila” (names are changed to protect the very guilty) said, “Can you recommend a good teacher to give me art lessons?”

Now, let me remind you, this student asked this of her art teachers in the middle of an art class! At first I thought she was joking, then realized she was not. Then I thought, Wow, “Sheila” is getting dementia, but that was not likely either. I looked over at Carlynne who looked like she had been sucking on a pickle, with her face all wrinkled up in puzzlement. Then I looked back at “Sheila” who was waiting for an answer. In that moment I felt the way I imagine a parent does when they find out their only child is shooting up heroin, where did I go wrong, what could I have possibly done to cause this?

Before I could come up with an answer, another student, we’ll call her “Rosie.” (also very guilty) said, “I have always thought Bob Ross was pretty good.” Well at that point, the middle of Carlynne’s face disappeared entirely like a deflated balloon (no kidding), and I turned back to “Sheila” to try to regain control of the situation, not to mention classroom. I said, and this is a direct quote, because I remember it distinctly, “Weeeeelllllll…… I thought that was what we were doing here.” At that point “Sheila” says, “I mean to teach me how to really paint.” Even though I knew by now that I would never regain control of this situation, I repeated myself, a little more confidently this time, “I thought that’s what we were doing.” (By the way, we also mentioned that it would be hard to reach Bob Ross as he died a few years ago.)

Then it dawned on me that “Sheila” had come in to our studio class a year or two previous, waving a wrinkled up magazine swipe, (a photo of a painting, no less). She said, “I don’t want to know how to paint, I just want to copy this for a friend.” And periodically since then, she has brought in another magazine photo that she was copying for someone else. I asked her one time if she ever painted for herself and she replied that she had no interest in that and didn’t have any wall space to hang any. So, we went along like this for quite awhile with her dropping in now and then to have us help her copy something. I guess somewhere along the line, she decided that she wanted more (hallelujah!!) but for some reason didn’t think we were capable of it. That is apparently where we went wrong.

Let me just tell you right now that we have had all ages in our classes, we have taught from 6 year olds to 90 year olds, we have taught all media in classes as well as workshops in various places around the country from drawing to pastel, watercolor, colored pencil, acrylics, oil, etc. We have had students with all types of needs, from “I just want to learn how to draw horses” to “Just show me how to fill in the colors on my craft stamping.” In addition to our personal painting, between us we have also painted three full size horse sculptures, 3 very large butterflies, and one large panel on the local library. Did I mention that we also have a book out, a real honest-to-goodness-not-self-published-book?! Yep, we’ve done it all. Well, that’s what you do when you are trying to squeeze out a living while painting in every spare second of time.

Soooo back to the classroom. We finally got enough info out of “Sheila” to know that she was asking us to finally teach her how to paint. Our weekly classes are designed as studio classes and all students working in all media come together for what we think is mutual benefit. Everyone is working on their own project and we serve as guides to help them achieve their own personal goals. I’ll admit right here that I used to be a snob about art, but over the years working with so many students has taught me that everyone has a need for creativity and it takes as many forms as there are people. I have even seen people who started with paint-by-number and became very excited about learning to really paint. We also have many students who have been with us for 10 years or more and are very fine artists in their own right, doing high quality original work. In fact we are getting ready to teach a two part workshop that will help those advanced students learn about the business side of art because they are ready to sell their work.

If you live in our area and are interested in learning more about our classes and workshops, email us and we will forward info to you. I’ll sign off for now as I still have to deal with “Rosie” and her recommendation of Bob Ross.

Peace and Creativity,

Saturday, October 9, 2010


I have always told students that when they introduce a new medium into their work, it feels like going back to kindergarten. I am now back in kindergarten. I have worked with most media but have never gotten seriously involved with oil paint. The solvents don't like me and the feeling is mutual, difficulty breathing, rash, etc., not pretty. I have decided to paint with oils and not use any of those nasty solvents. At one point a few years ago, I tried the water-miscible oil paints and was less than thrilled. These paints are not exactly water soluble but can be used with a small amount of water and cleaned up with water before they are dry. After painting for years in acrylic, the water-miscible oils were, in my opinion the worst of both worlds.

But I have always loved and I mean LOVED the way that oil paints blend like nothing else on earth. Well, now I am using blending mediums to mix and using vegetable oil for clean up. It works beautifully and I am a happy artist. I am reading everything I can get my hands on about oil paint as I have nothing in my extensive art library on this medium. I have downloaded info from sites such as Gamblin (a very good site by the way) and Carlynne has loaned me several of her books on oil painting. There is nothing like having a new media to get you really excited about your artwork.

One line in the Complete Oil Painter by Brian Gorst, really stopped me in my tracks:

"Good painting is an art, not a science, and cannot be fully learned from any book: it is a combination of skilled craftsmanship, creative bravery, and determined trial and error."

Don't you love that-- CREATIVE BRAVERY?! I love that phrase and nothing was ever more necessary than this for quality artwork. And how true is it that good painting is a combination of skilled craftsmanship, creative bravery and determined trial and error! We were just talking in class about the role of "talent" in art. The jury is still out as far as I am concerned. I feel the same way about talent as I do about UFO's. There might be life on other planets, I am very interested in finding out, but I have not seen any proof yet. Ditto talent.

For me, quality work comes about in any field in two ways, having a profound interest in the work you are doing and practising. I always tell students that if there was a shortcut, I would have found it by now. Talent is just a word.

I wish you Peace and Creative Courage,

Friday, October 1, 2010

Getting Unstuck

There are times when you hit a brick wall. I guess this is one of those times. I'm working my way through it though. This canvas has had a landscape painting on it twice now. The sky is gold leaf and that hasn't changed at all. Everything below that however has changed multiple times. It started out with a red base coat, palette knife work put the landscape greens down and it just wasn't working. I took out a nice big brush and painted over all the land with another layer of red. Again, with some knife work and brushes, putting in the greens and yellows of the prairie. Again, hated it! This time I took out a nice big palette knife and smeared red on top - again. There's a wonderful rough texture going on, I like that part and when I put the red on this time the knife skipped here and there and left wonderful peeks of greens coming through. I may have an inch of texture built up on this thing by the time I'm done but that's okay. I'm liking it a little more each time I paint over it.

This is one that I thought was done. Funny how our vision changes with time and it's not something the eye doctor can fix. I took it out again and studied it.........

and this is where it is now..... gessoed over and new color washed on. When I did the gesso layer I left some of the original blue showing through, I liked the texture in that area. Now I'm building up layers of color and sanding in between to bring back some of the contrasting color.

I don't know where these pieces are going to end up but that's part of the fun. When I'm stuck and can't figure out where I'm going I drag out old canvases and play with them. I'll let you know how it goes.

Have a great weekend,

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Yellow Flower
My sister and mother are the 2 gardeners in my family. In fact my mother is a Master Gardner. I'm the odd man out. I'd much rather be in my studio. I really don't mind yard work that much, I was always the one to do the mowing and trimming but they are the artists when it comes to growing things. This little yellow flower was growing in my sister's yard. It was so bright and proud standing there saying - look at me!

Earth Passage 11
Well, you know me..... back to the rocks. I have rocks in my head, rocks in my studio, rocks in my paintings, just can't get away from them.

Mosaic 4
This is one of the earlier pieces in the Mosaic series which is loosely based on satellite images of earth. Peeking through the mist are the colors and shapes we carve into the earth. It doesn't matter if it's earth from above or below, the patterns and colors fascinate me.


Saturday, September 11, 2010


Leaves 3
5x5 acrylic

Pumpkin 2
5x5 acrylic

I was imbued with such a feeling of autumn today (yeah, I do remember that I live in Florida and it's in the 90's) that I had to share a couple of our Etsy pieces from the section called Seasons. Besides my friends and family, the main thing I miss about not living in Michigan any more is the beautiful fall colors. (And maybe the brisk autumnal air that seems to fill me with so much energy, but I am able to experience that with the Florida winter).

If you want to see fall inspired gifts or a trinket for yourself, visit our shop at

You also might want to check out the latest Etsy Treasury that my Leaves 4 piece was included in with this link:

A Treasure is a group of Etsy pieces from many different sellers/artists that all have a harmonizing theme; it might be a color, a name, a season, etc. The treasuries are beautiful assemblages of lovely, unique hand made things. Carlynne and I have been fortunate to be included in many, but I enjoy looking at all of them. I have yet to see one that was not a pleasure to the eye and an inspiration to my creative bone.

Happy Fall and Peace to all,

No, this is not a new piece, but I had such a feeling of fall that I had to share it with you. This is a small 5X5 0n canvas panel

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Texture still floats my boat

Mosaic 22

Mosaic 23
I'm having fun with some more abstracts and textures. Dripping, glazing, sanding, gluing and glazing some more. It's so much fun building up layers of acrylic paint and tissue paper and sanding between the layers. Organic shapes and geometric shapes come together to create contrast.

Hope you're doing something creative and fun this weekend.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

What floats your boat?

Rocks are inspiring, intriguing and mysterious. They sit around in the studio, I pick them up and listen to the sound of them hitting each other as I juggle a few in the palm of my hand. My fingers rub the smooth surface and wonder how I can make them part of the next painting.

I love the look of buttons in a jar. Some are big and flat, some are little and thick. 4 holes or 2 did they live on a shirt or a jacket? Did the little shiny white one live alone on the back of a little girl's dress?

The line up of spools waiting for their contents to be unwound and reshaped into who knows what.....

My brushes with evidence of washes past call to me. Some of the ferrels are getting rusty but it constrasts so nicely with the blue that doesn't want to let go.

The soft flowing paint that I pushed around with a knife now sits raised and stiff revealing itself after the grit of sandpaper brings back the ridges of color.

*Well, I tried to get creative with the layout and it didn't work, hence the weird spacing.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

What's 24X24 And Purple?

What IS 24X24 and purple all over? A 24 by 24 gallery wrapped canvas with purple acrylic on it, of course! Actually it's really even more purple than the photo shows. It has mostly purple with some blue and this shows more blue.

What is it going to be? I'm not telling. You're going to have to watch this blog to find out.
Peace and Love to all,

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Diamond Day

I thought I'd continue on the theme of nature photos just for the heck of it. Amazing Hubby and I went out one day with our cameras. We rode out to the west coast and just wandered around, shooting whatever.....

I spotted this heron sitting way up high in a tree and since I had my long lens on the camera I thought I'd try to capture him. I was tickled with what I got. I'm a painter, not a photographer so to be able to catch him taking off like this was great fun - gotta love technology.

That wing span is amazing! There were more shots in this sequence but I didn't want the post to drag on forever. I just picked a few of my favorites. This last shot is dark on the underside but for the others I loved being able to see the details of his feathers. Like my friend Jolene says - some days are diamonds. That's how I felt about that day.

Hope you're having fun and staying cool,



Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Lovely Fish

These koi live in a pond in the Sherman Gardens in Corona Del Mar, CA. The absolutely gorgeous photos were taken by Jim Webster, my sister Shelley's significant other. When my mother visits them in California as she did recently, they take her to all kinds of wonderful places, museums, gardens, national parks, as they do me, when I am there. I greatly appreciate both of them and I am the very happy beneficiary of the photos that Jim is so skilled at taking.

Several of my previous paintings have come from his photos. In fact the painting on the dedication page of our book, Creative Colored Pencil Workshop is from one of Jim's photos (and he is the owner of the original painting). He is the one who first introduced me to digital photography and gave me my very first digital camera. It is impossible to go back to film now.

Jim has an artist's sensibility for composing photos. He is just as likely to take a picture of moss and lichen as he is a flower. He is able to see the abstract designs that nature makes even though he is not a painter. When most people are on vacation, they take photos of the relatives in front of the Grand Canyon. Jim and I tell the relatives to get out of the way, so we can get a good shot.

Koi have been a popular subject for artists for years, possibly hundreds of years, and so have become very prosaic, but it's easy to see why they are a favorite. In these photos, the fish, which are fabulous by themselves, compete with abstract patterns of reflections on the water for attention. These photos will turn up in my paintings and maybe very soon. Thanks Jim.

Peace and creativity to all,

Saturday, August 7, 2010

No point to this post

There's really no point to this post except the lusciousness of paint! Some people think that's weird but I don't really care. I'm having fun today working in the studio and when I squeezed paint out onto the canvas it was just so beautiful I had to take a photo or two. Saturday afternoon painting and listening John Lee Hooker and Bonnie Raitt..... it's a good day. :)
hope you're having a good weekend,