Sometimes Going Forward Means Going Backwards First (I Hope)

My mysterious lady in purple painting has mysteriously taken a different direction. For the last few days, I’ve been working away making subtle changes. Suddenly yesterday afternoon after working ferociously for hours, low & behold, I was looking at a totally different painting.

I added coarse molding paste to the floor in the foreground over the top of what was there. I reduced the texture effect in the area around the woman by adding matte gel medium via palette knife. Then I added light molding paste with titan buff and a bit of yellow (don’t ask me which) and scraped it over the top of the dried matte medium. I got into adding iridescent stainless steel (coarse) fluid here and there.

I completely changed the problematical vertical wall edge on the far right. Still problematical? I don’t have a clue. I added a sculpture stand on the left side of the painting. Oh, I got rid of the sculptures previously on top of the other two sculpture stands.

What in the world did I do? Am I worried? Am I discouraged? Anyone in their right mind would be. But actually, this is what I love about painting. It’s the challenge. And the flexibility of the materials. No rules. At this point what do I have to lose beside days and days of work?

Having all kinds of materials on hand and knowing what they do makes it really fun. I feel like a car mechanic Or maybe like a surgeon, with all the right tools at my disposal. It’s just a matter of figuring which one to use where.

One bonus of teaching workshops is all the learning I get to do. I’ve done a lot of experimenting with gels, pastes & grits, some of which I had used in the past but many are new to me. I experiment when I’m making samples for my classes. That experimenting pays off when I’m working on an actual painting. I have so many more options than I did before I took the Golden Artist Educator program workshop last Fall. With thanks again to my Golden Acrylic Color company friends.

Now let’s see how I use all this to resolve this painting.

Lady in purple, acrylic painting on canvas

Here she is after all the dramatic changes yesterday.

To be polite and helpful, I should probably show the previous sequence of photos of this painting. Alas, I can’t seem to locate them. But if you’re interested you can check back to previous posts to compare.

Three Completed Paintings and Three On the Easel

I’ve been told by a number of people that they enjoy seeing my paintings in progress. So here goes:

The following are my latest completed paintings. Thanks, Jim, for your care in making sure the photographs of my paintings are as true to life as they can possibly be.

If you’d like to take a look at previous blog posts you’ll see snapshots of these paintings at various stages of progress.

Water Shimmer, acrylic painting on panel, 30" x 30"

Water Shimmer, acrylic on panel, 30″ x 30″


Once They Were Sunflowers, Acrylic on panel, 12" x 12"

Once They Were Sunflowers, acrylic on panel, 12″ x 12″


Where Have All the Sunflowers Gone?

Where Have All the Sunflowers Gone?, acrylic on panel, 12″ x 12″

It’s odd to see paintings on the screen, because the size is deceptive. In this case the flower paintings are quite small compared to Water Shimmer, which is much larger in real life. But of course here they appear as the same size.

And now on to paintings in progress. The first two are pieces I’ve also shown in previous blog posts. What you’ll see below are snapshots of  the paintings on March 11 and then again on March 12, to give an idea of the day to day progress. The third set of photos are of a new painting on its first and second day of life.


Here we are with the mysterious woman at the Phoenix Art Museum. This snapshot was taken after working on her on Tuesday.


And here she is on Wednesday. You’d need to look closely to see any changes. At this stage progress is slow. Some days I take one step forward and two steps backwards. Right now I’m working on getting the area on the left to read as a window, something of a tricky proposition. I’ve been adding multiple thin layers of matte medium to this area with additional paint sandwiched in between. I plan to eventually add a final layer of gloss medium to make the window shiny. Maybe.


This water reflection painting has also appeared in previous posts. Here it is on Tuesday.


And on Wednesday. I didn’t realize how much I’d lightened up the painting, especially at the bottom. What will happen next is a mystery to me!


And a brand new painting, after the first day.


Big changes here. This is after the second day of work. Paintings nearly always progress quickly for me in their beginning stages, It’s the middle stages that go on and on seemingly forever.

So there you have it.

Layers & More Layers Workshop with Lots of Photos

Usually when I teach a workshop, I get so involved that I forget all about taking photos. For the recent Layers & More Layers workshop I made a concerted effort to try to record the way in which the tables were set up before the workshop, the information pinned to the wall, the work in progress and the participants. Admittedly, the photos are not so hot, but I hope they give a sense of the buzz of excitement and the creativity that went on during this two-day workshop.

The tables are set up with supplies, just waiting for students to arrive.

Included on each table are: a bucket of water, a container with brushes & palette knives, scissors, a sharpie, and a pencil,  5 prepared panels, paper towels, empty 2 oz cups and lids, a palette, a plate to use for piles of paint colors, a spray bottle and last but not least, a folder full of information and prepared surfaces.

Information on the wall

Here is some of the information I’ve put on the wall


Supplies are laid out by category for student use


The group is putting gels, pastes & paints on their palettes, getting ready to start experimenting


I can always tell people are working hard by the state of the tables. Refer back to the first photo to see the change!

On the drying table—skins, surfaces with pastes, tar gel decals on the left side

You probably aren’t familiar with what acrylic skins are. Well, it’s a bit hard to describe, but I’ll try. First you spread an even coat of gloss gel medium across a piece of HDPE plastic. Let it dry. Paint on top leaving open areas. Let dry. Next comes the exciting part—you can peel the whole thing off like a big piece of skin and then apply it to a painting or collage with gloss gel. If you only like part of the skin or you want to use parts for different projects, you can cut it apart with a regular pair of scissors.

More things drying. On the upper left is a chart prepared by one of the students showing some of the properties of gloss gel and matte gel mediums. More skins. The round items are tar gel decals. They are like the skins, only thicker. In the front middle and just behind are two gel transfers in the works. They are drying (what you see is the back). When the gel is dry, you wet the back and then rub off the paper, leaving the image from the other side. Hard to describe, but magical when it works. On the lower right is the start of a painting with two layers so far. The blue and green were applied first. The red and gold lays on top, creating a new layer—this was an acrylic skin.

Below are a series of in-progress paintings from this 2-day class. The intention was to have students leave with a good understanding of the materials, how to use layering and to have 4 panels started.  I hope I’ll have a chance to see the finished products at some point!










Quite a bit more didn’t get photographed, but you get the idea. Pretty impressive for 2 afternoons of intensive work!

Many thanks to Golden Artist Colors for including me in their Golden Artist Educator program, Mary Beth Shaw (aka Stencil Girl) for the great tree branch stencil, to Patti Brady for teaching me so much neat stuff during the Golden training in New Orleans last fall, to Patti for her book Rethinking Acrylic and for Nancy Reyner for her books, especially Acrylic Innovation and her newest, Acrylic Illumination. I’m amazed that every time I need information or am looking for new ideas or inspiration, I keep finding it in one of these books!

Gone AWOL but Back Now With Three New Paintings in Progress

Alas, how did it get to be mid-February already? There’s a lot of confusion in the world at the moment, what with the extremely odd weather all over, and the confusion has gotten into my brain as well, I guess. Our apple trees have been blooming for weeks and yes, lucky us. But woe is the tree that blooms 3 months early and then gets hit with freezing rain and snow.

At any rate, now that I’m getting back into my routine after multiple interruptions, I can share snapshots of a few new and in-progress paintings. Yes, despite many and various events I did manage to make time to work on my painting.

Square water reflection painting '14


If you’re curious about how this one started, there’s a snapshot of the start of this painting and then another of the painting roughly in the middle in the past two blog posts. Here I’m nearing the finish line. At least I think I am. I’ve done a bit of experimenting with iridescent and interference paints, Golden acrylics of course. It’s a bit scary, but I think the small amounts that I’ve used are just enough to make the painting shimmer in a water-like way without overdoing it. Even areas where the interference paint got covered up still seem like there’s some shimmer coming through. I’m not sure if that’s my imagination or not. It’s probably too subtle to see in this photo.

Lady in purple at the Phoenix Art Museum


It’s pretty early in the game on this one. A vision of a lovely woman dressed in purple at the Phoenix Art Museum caught my eye several months ago. I took a few photos and then finally stretched a canvas and started on this painting a couple weeks ago. I’m adding layers of matte medium to the left side, which is a view out a window into the sculpture garden. Eventually after multiple layers of matte medium in between painted details, I plan to cover this area with a gloss medium so that (hopefully) it’ll appear like a window. I’ve used both coarse and fine pumice gel mixed with matte medium in the background to simulate the texture of the walls in the museum, painting layers of color over the pumice gels. By the way, this painting is part of my “Nooks & Crannies” series, which is ongoing but has been neglected for awhile. See more on my gallery page.

Vertical water reflection painting

This vertical water reflection painting is in its infancy. I had a hankering to work on a vertical painting, bought the stretcher bars, stretched the canvas and searched my files of snapshots until I found one that had the colors and the feeling I was looking for. So far this one is fun. But I haven’t made it to the hard part yet!



First Completed Painting of 2014

Some paintings (rarely) just seem to flow from my brush/palette knife to the canvas/panel and magically appear. Others take more work. And once in awhile there’s a painting that just won’t get resolved. Some might say that in this case I should just give up, but alas, I’m too stubborn.

I started this painting way back in September. Or maybe even earlier than that. I was really excited about it. And then something happened. I’d paint and paint. I’d add layers of glazes. I’d pour coats of transparent gloss mediums. I’d add more paint. First it would get too green. Then it would get too pinkish. Then the blues wouldn’t be right. I’d add texture. Not enough. Then too much. I have no idea how many layers of paint are on this panel.

Of course this isn’t the only painting I was working on all this time. It was just the one that kept getting away from me. Occasionally, I’d decide it was done. Then the next morning I’d take a look and guess what? It wasn’t done. Sometimes I’d get pretty excited, thinking I had it. I’d invite my chief critics (husband Jim, younger son Mathew) out to my studio for a consultation. At one point Jim told me that the painting looked like it had the measles. It was all I could do to keep myself from throwing it onto the floor and jump up and down on it (the painting, not Jim).

Much of the time, working on this felt like trudging through quicksand. And then one day—it was done. I signed it. I put the title and date on the back. Jim photographed it for me. Now I’m sending it out into the world.

Meet Light Dance, born January, 2014.

Light Dance, Acrylic on panel, 30" x 30"

Light Dance, Acrylic on panel, 30″ x 30″


Happy 2014 and I’m Happy Painting

Happy 2014! I admit I gave up making New Years resolutions long ago. But if I had one it would be to attend to this blog more regularly.

Between organizing workshops for PaperWorks, the Sonoran Collective for Paper and Book Arts, creating, organizing and scheduling my own workshops for January through May (see my workshop page if you’re interested), I have managed to do some painting. Not as much as I’d like, but at least some. And yes, if I made New Year’s resolutions, that would be another one—kind of a do-or-die I will paint every afternoon from 1-6 no matter what else falls through the cracks.

At any rate, here’s what I’ve got on the easel right now.

















Some progress from the last time I posted (see previous blog post).










Two sunflower paintings, some progress.










And best of all, a brand new, freshly stretched and gessoed canvas on the left, just waiting for me to attack it.

Which is what I intend to do right now!

A Love Affair with Golden Smalt Hue (and other new colors)

I’ve been busy this past month, teaching workshops, painting and also assimilating a bunch of new Golden Acrylic products into my studio storage system.

I received two cartons of Golden products several weeks after the training workshop I attended in New Orleans (see the previous blog post). It was a major event, unpacking and admiring all my new supplies. Then the domino effect ensued. In looking at all the new stuff, I realized I’d need to get it organized and in doing so, I’d also need to reorganize the supplies I already had. Soon my studio was turned upside down.

After much sorting and resorting, I ended up at Home Depot where I bought 2 sets of wire racks and at Target where I bought some clear plastic containers. I eventually sorted the supplies into categories and put them in their new home. I have yet to consolidate all of the supplies I had already before the Golden delivery, hence the yellow box perched precariously on top of the racks. I’m not going to show the jumble of other supplies I need to incorporate.

One of the unexpected (at least for me) delights about all this new paint is that there are quite a few colors I’ve never used before. One of the oddest colors is Smalt Hue. I got 3 tubes of it. I was curious, so I squeezed a little bit out and boy, was I unimpressed. A boring grayish, purplish, blueish, very wimpy and transparent color. So I decided to test drive it in a color wheel. Golden suggests the combination of Aureolin Hue (never used or heard of this one either) and Quindacrinone Crimson, which is a part of my normal palette of colors and Smalt.

It was pretty unimpressive, in my humble opinion, although there are a few interesting results.

Not one to give up, I decided to give Smalt a try on 3 paintings I’d just started. This early on in the painting process, I’m all for experimenting. The paintings are barely formed and will have many layers applied before they are completed, so there’s nothing to loose. Well, was I surprised, amazed and thrilled. It is a subtle shade of purple/blue/grey that I’ve tried many times to mix without much success. If you look at the top of the painting in the center, you’ll see a hint of Smalt.

Then I decided to give Smalt a go on a couple of sunflower paintings I just started and was amazed. That subtle shadow color that’s so hard to get, well, it’s Smalt.

And more Smalt in this one, too. Hard to point out as it’s in dibs and dabs here and there on both paintings, but trust me, Smalt is going to propel me to the next level of painting. Well, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, but still.

The thing that’s so exciting is that this is not a color I ever would have tried out, much less bought. But now I have it and I love it and I’ll be using it. And guess what, I have a whole bunch of other unknown (to me) colors to test out.

Thank you again, Golden Acrylic Color Company for this great opportunity.

P.S. I’ve also fallen in love with the name of this elusive color. Smalt.

A Golden Opportunity with Golden Acrylic Training Workshop in New Orleans

Early last summer I noticed a call for a training workshop offered by Golden Artist Color Company for artists working in acrylics who also teach workshops. As it happens, I use Golden Acrylics, love them and have been using them for at least fifteen years. And I teach workshops. So I filled out the application.

I got accepted into the training program to become a Golden Artist Educator. I was so thrilled. I think I found out that I was accepted way last August. It seemed like a long wait for the training, which was scheduled for late October.

The training happened two weeks ago, in New Orleans. I’m still a bit breathless from the experience. It was amazing, from start to finish.

I don’t want to rave too much about all the good food we were treated to with dinners every night at gourmet restaurants, a Mississippi river boat dinner and cruise, and much much more. Or the wonderful accommodations at the Hotel Mazarin, just off the French Quarter. The eighteen of us were treated like royalty.

All artists/crafters and workshop teachers, the group came from all over the United States. It was such a friendly, talented and dynamic group. Patti Brady, director of the education program for Golden Acrylics was our teacher. She is the author of Rethinking Acrylic, a wonderful teacher and a practicing and accomplished artist. Pat Pirrone, director of External Marketing at Golden was in charge of all the arrangements for food, accommodations and a myriad of details which made the entire experience so fantastic. As far as I could tell, everything ran flawlessly. It was a pleasure to have the opportunity to get to know both Pat and Patti.

Lest you think it was all fun and games, here are a few photographs of the workshop part of the experience. I think we all learned as much as humanly possible in four days about the ins and outs of acrylic products. And there are a lot of them!

An array of Gels, all of which are useful for a variety of applications in painting


Gritty Gels

The whole length and one side of the workshop room was lined with tables full of supplies. The above are just a few.


We worked on making banners showing Gels, Pastes and Grits.

The tables started out nice and neat, with supplies all lined up. The first thing we did was to work on banners which are a great way to show how different products work.


Once we got into the process, this is how the tables looked. Controlled chaos?

It didn’t take long for the tables to start to look like this. A sign that lots of work is happening!

At work on experiments using interference and iridescent paints


Lunch break! The staff of the hotel set up a wonderful buffet in the courtyard each day, complete with tablecloths, not to mention the amazing food. All we had to do was step out of the workshop and fill up our plates.

Going through the lunch line. Notice the huge & beautiful flower arrangement in the upper right corner of the photo


A glimpse of the array of food. Doing all that painting certainly works up an appetite.


Landscape examples

We were each assigned a different type of acrylic pastes, gels & mediums as a surface treatment to our panels. They all have different effects. We each painted a landscape from a copy of the same photo. It was fascinating to see how many different effects were achieved using the different products. And also interesting how each person had their own style.


Interference and wine

Round about 4 pm, waiters arrived with snacks, soft drinks and wine (note wine on left side of photo). Did we stop working? No, we kept on until 6 pm!

Color wheels, each with a different primary color palette.


Patti Brady admiring the color wheels.

We arrived on Sunday. Worked long days, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Friday, with Wednesday a day to explore museums and art galleries in New Orleans. When the workshop was over late Friday afternoon, we packed up the leftovers and went our separate ways. I’m sure many of us will stay in touch.

Some of the panels I made during the workshop

Back at home, in my studio, I spread out the panels of examples I made. This isn’t all of them. They’ll be put to good use when I teach my workshops.

I took and passed a test which was the last hurdle to being accepted as an official certified Golden Artist Educator. And here’s the logo to prove it!

Again, many thanks to Patti and Pat, and to Golden Artist Color Company for the wonderful opportunity.

Somewhere Between Oracle and Houston A Painting is on a Truck

I can’t believe it’s been a month since I’ve done a blog post. Yes, I’ve been busy. But that busy? I guess so since I feel like I haven’t taken a deep breath in a long time.

The painting commission I’ve been working on for months was completed the week before last. Here is a photograph of it.

Water Symphony, acrylic painting commission completed

Water Symphony, acrylic painting, 36″ x 60″


Alas, the process continues after a painting is finished. Since this painting is a commission, I don’t need to post it onto Saatchi Gallery, where I have some of my work for sale. I do need to get it into my filing system where I keep track of all my work–size, photograph, media, description and price. And I guess I could put it on my own website gallery, with a SOLD on it. But essentially the marketing part isn’t necessary with this one.

What I did need to do was investigate a variety of packing/crating companies in Phoenix and Tucson to get bids. I finally settled on Pak Mail in Tucson. Mark Yardy, at Pak Mail, was nice enough to take a few snapshots of the painting while he was getting it packed. I was in New Orleans, so I wasn’t able to be there. Husband Jim oversaw the process in my stead. Why was I in New Orleans? I’ll post this information soon.

A photo of the painting being fitted into the crate

A snapshot by Mark Yardy of his handiwork in crating Water Symphony.


And in the crate.


It was picked up this week and is currently in transit somewhere between here and Houston. I’m on edge waiting until it is delivered safely and in perfect condition at its’ destination. Keep your fingers crossed with me.

The Trouble with the Mid-Stage of a Painting

I think somewhere along the way, I’ve mentioned my troubles with that vast middle stage of working on a painting.  When I begin a painting, I have a wonderful time energetically covering the whole surface of the canvas or panel with lots of beautiful shapes and colors. It seems that anything is possible. I have a clear vision of where I’m going. Ending a painting is when I am putting on the final touches. The work comes together practically on its own. It’s a truly magical time, like being transported into another world.

But the time I’m referring to is the dreaded middle stage in the creation of a painting. At least it’s the stage I dread.

When I’m in the throes of the middle stage of working on a painting I’m reminded of my children on long road trips. A time when the “when will we get there” phrase was uttered all too often. A time when I felt just the same as they did but and felt like I would go insane unless a) they stopped saying it or b) we finally got there. If you have children or ever were one, you’ll know what I mean. Well, this is the way I feel at this stage of painting. It’s a bit like trying to walk through quicksand or heavy snow. It’s one step forward and two steps back. It’s feeling like I’m getting nowhere and am not likely to ever get anywhere.

That’s when Jim has to remind me that this is part of my process and that I will figure out what needs to be done. And I know this, I just don’t feel it. So it helps to get reminded. And in the end, all of the adding and subtracting and then adding again, layer after layer after layer, contributes to the richness of the final piece. It sure would be fun be able to cut to the chase, do the start, skip the middle and head straight to the finish and call it a day. The middle is why much of what being an artist is all about is just plain hard work. Like Robert Frame, one of my art instructors from way back when used to say, “Let inspiration find you working”. Which is just what I plan to do.

This week I managed to remember to take a photo at the end of each working day. You can see below that if I made any progress at all it was incremental. Or maybe I went backwards? And I did work hard all week, honest.

Commission, photo Sunday


Commission Monday


Commission, Tuesday


Commission, Wednesday


Commission, Thursday


While I admit I’ve been feeling lost, today I think I’ll be taking a turn into some fruitful painting and will begin to find my way. Can’t wait to get back to painting. Gotta go!