Thursday, April 17, 2014

New Direction

Hello everyone! Lately, I have found myself unable to write about what I am doing in the studio. A new series is in the process of being created, and I needed to avoid words for a while and focus on image only. For me, painting is a way to think, a way to sort out the ideas in my head. When I write, the words seem to confound the issues I am working out in paint. Trying to describe painting in words - is it a futile endeavor? Perhaps. Or maybe I just needed to turn inward in order for this new work to become something. In any case, I think I may be far enough into it now to feel comfortable sharing some of it.

It all began when I was getting ready to teach my online class "Intro to Abstract painting." I had created a series of exercises designed to help artists explore and experiment. I wanted to see if my exercises had any merit, and began doing them myself. I had done many of the exercises before, years ago, in a modified version. As I was testing my exercises, I stumbled upon an idea.

small watercolor & gouache studies - approx. 6 x 6 inches

What if that wonderful, lively quality of watercolor or gouache could be replicated on a larger scale using oil paint? I have always loved watercolor. My first experience with painting was watercolor painting. When I am feeling stuck in the studio, or when I want to go back to the basics, I always reach for watercolor. I decided to try working from some small watercolor sketches.

Whenever you take an idea or sketch and push it to a completed work of art, there is always a transformation. In this case, I found I was exaggerating the qualities I love in the water media. I was not aware of this. It just happened.

"What Was Found." Oil on canvas, 20 x 20 inches. 
Above is the first one I finished. I have about five others in various stages of completion. I will be interested to hear what you think.

What do you see? Does this painting remind you of anything?

If you missed my online class, it is now available to take as a self study. Just click this link for more details.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April 1st

"There You Are." (black tailed jackrabbit) Oil on canvas, 20 x 20 inches.

The online class has now ended, and I am gearing up for an outdoor art festival at the Oasis Visitor Center in 29 Palms this weekend. I will be setting up a booth with my desert animal paintings this weekend - Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 9 to 5 pm each day. I have never-shown-before paintings ready to go, along with cards and affordable giclee reproductions. The weather is supposed to be "delightful!" I hope to see you there! 

More desert flowers, because we never get tired of them. Ever.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

March 25th

Morning walks in the desert have become dream - like visits in spring time wonderland. There is actually less walking than stopping, looking, loving and photographing. Thank goodness for patient walking companions.

I have been busy teaching the online painting class, squeezing a few hours of painting in between. So far, the class has been a positive experience. It is exciting to see other artists, some of whom are quite accomplished, explore abstraction and push themselves outside of their normal way of working. I am proud of their courage! (and inspired by them too.) I think I got lucky with a great group of people taking my class. I feel quite certain that I will offer the class again, at some point.

In the studio, there are a number of different directions being explored. Some are still too new to share, but others are continuations of ideas you have seen from me before. I am working larger and making an effort to slow myself down. I want my paintings to reach a higher level of completion than ever before, to push myself beyond former notions of what a finished painting looks like. There has also been a lot of drawing, sketching and playing, just for good measure.

"hedgehog." Acrylic, gesso, ink, marker and charcoal on paper, 12 x 9 inches.

Little elephant. Collage, gesso, ink and charcoal on paper, 12 x 9 inches. 
"i love everybody." Oil on canvas, 40 x 40 inches.
What have you been up to?

Friday, March 14, 2014


This is a favorite time of year in the desert. We had just enough rain so that in certain areas, spring flowers are making an appearance. M is so patient with me on walks, since every time I see a flower, I must stop, examine and often photograph it in eight different ways. Even the dog waits for me. He lies down beside me until I am done reveling in the wonder of a single flower.

I am getting excited for Monday, when my online class begins! It's not too late to sign up, if you haven't already. Click here if you would like to know more.

New desert animal paintings are emerging from the studio as the Art Festival near the Joshua Tree National Park Visitor's Center in 29 Palms approaches. I will be part of this outdoor art event April 4,5 & 6th, 2014. You can get more information here. Won't you come out and visit me and the other artists? We'd love to see you. There will be photography, basketry, sculpture and jewelry too!

"Reprise." (desert cottontail) oil on canvas, 8 x 8 inches. 
Here's hoping you all have a great weekend!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

More about teaching art online

Carla and Steve Sonheim, creative gurus
It was a fun weekend here in Joshua Tree. My friends from Seattle, Carla and Steve Sonheim, came to film the video portion of my upcoming online class. Carla and Steve are both talented artists. Carla paints, draws and basically blows me away with everything she does. Steve is an amazing photographer, full of creative, innovative ideas. He is also doing the filming and editing for all of the online art classes Carla offers on her website. Wizards!

My studio was turned into a film set for a few days, and I discovered how strange it feels to draw and paint surrounded by cameras.

Lots of laughing and catching up makes for what I hope will be a fun class. If you are interested, just leave a comment or email me and I will do my best to keep you informed. We hope to have the class sign up ready by the end of the week.

The class is called "Finding your voice through abstraction." It is a painting class, geared towards helping you free yourself from recognizable imagery in order to discover your own way of painting. It is recommended for people who have painted before, but I think you will have fun even if it's been awhile. There is a lot of risk taking and exploration built into the exercises, and I will demonstrate some of my painting techniques. The class starts March 17th and continues until March 28th, 2014. There are six lessons in all, and the cost is $85. Even if you don't plan to paint abstractly, I think you will enjoy this class, since the things you discover about yourself will translate into any kind of art you end up creating.

"Privacy." Oil on canvas, 24 x 30 inches.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Online Class

 I don't like photos of myself, but Pono is so photogenic!
Hey everyone! I am excited because tomorrow I have friends arriving from Seattle to film the video portion of an online class I will be teaching in March. This is the first time for me to teach online, but my friends, Carla and Steve Sonheim, are pros. You can see some of the other classes as well as Carla's art here. The class I will be teaching is called "Finding your voice through abstraction: a painting class." The class will last for two weeks. If you sign up, you will get an email lesson with video in your email inbox three times a week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) for two weeks. There will be an opportunity for feedback either by posting your work online, or if you prefer, you can send me photos via email and I can give you feedback privately. I will have more details for you soon! Some of you have already expressed an interest in the class, but if you think you are interested, please let me know and I will try to send you emails when I have all the details. Just think - an art class you can take from the comfort of your home!!!!

The focus of this class is to use the freedom of non-representational art to explore and discover your own way of making marks, composing space, and developing your own style. Even if you don't want to paint abstract art, I think you will find this class valuable. I have planned exercises that you can use to try new things. It is recommended that you have some painting experience prior to taking this class, but I do think this class is for everyone.

In other studio news, I will be participating in the 22nd Annual Art in the Park Art Festival in Twentynine Palms, CA. The dates are April 4, 5, and 6th, 2014. For more information, click here. New paintings for this event will be forthcoming!

It has been unusually hot and dry for February. Even in the desert, this is exceptional. My garden is just starting to show colors.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Your expression is Unique

"Consolation." Oil on linen. 40 x 40 inches. (repaint from 2012)

After several discussions recently with artist friends, I have come to realize that the most important thing an artist can do is show up, every day, in the studio, and work.

Easier said than done.

Sometimes it's pretty easy. Go into the studio, paint. But then there are those other times. Those times when you question absolutely everything you are doing, and you think there can be absolutely no benefit to society in this endeavor that is painting. I am alone, painting one picture after another, agonizing over some, effortlessly revealing others.

It is at such times - those times of doubt, when one must find other creative people who are doing what we are doing, or have done what we are doing. They can reassure. 

You can listen to a great piece of music. Your soul is lifted. You can visit a museum. You are awe-struck. You can watch a great dancer/ice skater/actor. You are transported. You can read a poem or book where something really speaks to you, almost as though it were written for you alone. Then, you are reminded that yes, there is a benefit in creative endeavors. Others are changed by what you may do, if not by something you do today, then by something you do one day.

For all of my creative friends (which is almost all of you, whether or not you admit it): keep on, keepin' on!

There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is or how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open”

Martha Graham

(Martha Graham was considered the "Picasso of modern dance." You can read more about her here.)