Saturday, January 31, 2009

The importance of design

All of the elements and principles of design come into play in every artistic endeavor we engage in. This was apparent to me again today in a dichroic glass class I attended. Applying contrast, texture, line, repetition, and variation hopefully produced some interesting little experiments for this first-timer in dichroic glass.

From the class, I went and played 2 concert band performances, so now I'm going to call it a night!!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Friday evening. . . .

. . . after another very busy week. Where DOES the time go? I am working on planning and getting started on several large (full sheet, 22"X30") paintings for 3 upcoming theme shows plus another juried show at the end of February. The theme shows will all be challenging, but it's interesting to paint topics that you don't usually "tackle". The themes are "Being Green" (I don't paint with a lot of green), "Faces" (I don't paint faces!), and "Birds of a Feather" (spiders and birds are the only living things that I don't like at all)! So, knowing that I have my work cut out for me, it's time to get back to the studio!

Thursday, January 29, 2009


This whole OWOH experience is really exciting! I've visited a lot of new blogs and plan to check out a lot more in upcoming days. I'm enjoying it all and marveling at how varied the giveaways are. I am also learning how to do a lot of brand new things. Talk about a steep learning curve! Yikes! But that's what keeps us young, right?

I can now see why people put their original OWOH post and logo in the sidebar. I'm contemplating now about what to do to adjust so that mine doesn't "fall off the bottom" and disappear from view before February 11th. Hmmmmmm. I could just not post for a while, but I made a commitment to do my best to post every day. Oh, well--onward and upward!

{Obviously, it was an easy fix to just keep changing the posting date each day to keep the OWOH post at the top of the list! Duh!?}

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Think outside the box

. . . until I can get back to my normal blogging routine at my computer.
Here I am in the treasure necklace. 

Monday, January 26, 2009


I've been frustrated for the last few days because we've been having to use dial-up internet access rather than our high speed connection. And everything takes SOOOOO long and often times may not work. So, I apologize for the short posts recently but things should now be back to normal again.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Practice, paint, or post?

How 'bout all 3? I almost didn't post today because I haven't been
able to sign onto my blog. But a do have a Plan B, my cell phone.

I am trying to paint every day, practice my oboe (most days), and post every day. Yesterday I had a major blogging accomplishment because I was able to finally modify the text in my banner/ header so that I am more pleased with it. I am starting to be able to use Photoshop Elements a little more and that is how I did it. Yippee! And good night for now!(With maybe 1 minute to spare! Though it showed up much later than it should have.)

Sent from my iPhone by Kathleen

Saturday, January 24, 2009

"Artist Journals and Books" class held today

Today, I taught a class in Artist Journals and Books at The Art Stand Gallery. There were 8 students, but that thought always makes me smile (inwardly) because I always think that when you teach adults, there is a very fine line between teacher and student. I hope they all learned something from today's class, but I know that I also learned a lot from each of them.

We had a good day, sharing thoughts and information, and implementing some new ideas. We talked about the various reasons for keeping a journal (which can also be called a sketchbook, a workbook, a notebook, an idea or inspiration journal, a log, a diary etc.) all of which are related to the stages of "Pause, Record, Reflect, Move On" in the artistic process. I am not a good person about keeping a sketchbook, because my best ideas always come to me when I'm in a restaurant and all I have to draw on is a thin white napkin and all I have to draw with is a leaky, fat Sharpie pen! But that can't be helped and  so, I draw on. Then I take my little sketches home and use them to paint a painting and ultimately put them into a fat folder on the shelf, seldom to be seen or used again.

Last week, I took the folder and transferred all the random sketches and other bits of information into a brown kraft paper, 3 ring binder which has now become my "workbook." It contains sketches, brainstorming ideas, reference photos, clipart etc., as well as photos of the finished paintings that came from each sketch. I am sure this is going to work much better for me. It will be a more useful tool to document where I'm coming from, what I do to complete a painting, and where I might like to go next.

The photos today don't show the binder but I will photograph it very soon. You can see the class members and a couple of shots of what they are working on. It was a fun day and I think people enjoyed it. I hope some will begin to keep a different sort of journal or workbook than they have kept in the past.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Treasure Necklace

I am having to use dial-up rather than high speed right now, and yesterday, I couldn't get the photos uploaded. Hopefully, I'll be more successful today! 

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Fwd: My treasure from the bead show

Today, I'm short on time so I'm just going to show you my very special Treasure (and treasured!) necklace.

Sent from my iPhone by Kathleen

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Work and Play

Today was the second meeting of the Art Marketing Salon group in Coarsegold. We are meeting as a group, with a designated leader (Julie Mitchell) to follow the "plan" established by Alyson Stanfield,  Art Biz Coach. Her website is and her blog can be followed at There is a definite time commitment involved (which makes the process somewhat hard and serious work), but there is also a feeling of fun, playfulness, and developing collegiality. 

As I read Alyson's  blog today, one paragraph stood out to me. It started out by saying: "Presentation is everything." And then went on to say: "It's the small things that make a difference and distinguish us from others. As an artist, it’s your attention to the detail of your matting, framing, and display. It’s the care you give your printed materials and your Web site that announce to the world that you’re a professional. It’s the care with which you treat each person you run into because you know they might be a customer one day—that you show them respect and trust." And I know from personal experience that this really is the truth.

I am enjoying meeting with other like-minded artists to discuss common concerns and share our hopes and goals regarding our careers as artists. The process is causing me to focus on the critical pieces of marketing and public relations that I might neglect otherwise. Today, we had lunch together after the meeting and that was rather like one of Julia Cameron's suggested "artist dates". We're getting to know each other better and coming to respect each others' opinions and advice. I look forward to the next meeting in 2 weeks.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Continuing to work on preparation for Saturday's class

I've been organizing my sketches today into a new "workbook" which is really a 3 ring binder with black card stock pages. I'm grouping the sketches by subject, not date, and including my reference photos or clipart (if any), the sketches I generated, and a copy of the painting that resulted if one was completed. I believe it will be a useful tool when completed. Back to work for now!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Getting things together for this weekend's class

On Saturday, I will be teaching an "Artists' Books and Journals" class at The Art Stand Gallery so I am in the process of gathering and preparing materials for the class. Since this is the first time I'm offering this particular class, I have quite a bit of work to do before Saturday.

It should be a fun and different class and I hope people will enjoy it. What it's doing is opening MY mind to all the possibilities that I haven't fully explored myself. I've decorated a lot of purchased journals and I've had fun making some handmade books out of postcards (on a trip to Italy and Greece) and out of drink coasters. The travel journal was especially fun to do since I made the pages out of found and gathered materials in addition to purchased postcards.

For the class this weekend, I will be showing how to decorate purchased journals and how to make your own. This afternoon, I worked on my own "workbook" (as opposed to a sketchbook) so that I can use it as an example on Saturday. I learned a long time ago that I am not good at working in a sketchbook. I never seem to have it with me when I need it most so I do my most inspired sketching on the backs of restaurant placemats, on tissuey napkins, on take out menus and on various scrounged pieces of paper from where ever I am when the mood to jot down an idea or make a sketch strikes. So, I've found what works best for me is to succumb to that tendency and draw on whatever is at hand. I store all those little bits and pieces of paper in a special blue folder and now I am trying to make sense of the whole mess! I'm organizing by subject rather than by date and including reference materials as well as sketches. My intent is to also add a photo of the finished work if the drawing led to an actual painting. My intent is also to be finished with it before Saturday! At least a preliminary draft of it. So, I'd better get back to work.

Today's photo is a little shot of a few of the books I've done before.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Home again!

Here it is, Sunday evening, and I'm home in Sanger again after being away since Tuesday morning. Yesterday, when the design workshop ended, I debated about driving straight home from San Diego but decided I was too tired to do it safely. Plus, I had originally planned to stop off in Pasadena for the Bead and Design Show at the Pasadena Hilton. So, I stayed in Pasadena last night (at the Hilton, which turned out to be a truly wise choice), slept until I woke up, then went downstairs to see the show.

Most of it wasn't highly appealing to me. Bins and bins, strands and strands, rolls and rolls, bags and bags, crystals and more crystals-- beads and findings and chain and all of the tools, books, and accompaniments for the true and dedicated beader. And a true and dedicated beader I am not, though I do play around with beads from time to time and I love the colors, textures, and designs.

What made the day exciting was that in addition to all the beads and supplies, there were some wonderful bead artists there with absolutely gorgeous pieces. The 2 I have to mention are Stephanie Sersich from Maine and Janet Tranfer from Southern California. I didn't buy a piece from Stephanie (though I really wanted to!) but I did buy her book--"Designing Jewelry With Glass Beads". It is a beautiful book with a lot of wonderful projects, clear instructions, and it will be very inspiring. Janet's business is called "Designs by Jantra" and I am including a small photo of her in her booth. Her website is and you can see my necklace (the one I purchased with almost no hesitation at all) by clicking right here. It is the second one on the page--the elaborate, colorful one! I will photograph it and post it very soon, but not tonight. After walking the whole show, I am convinced that my heartfelt, impulse buy sent me home with the most exciting piece there--for ME, at least! Janet called it a "Treasure Necklace" and it is a total treasure. I am thrilled to have it and will enjoy wearing it for years to come.

Stephanie Sersich's handblown glass beads are amazing and very unique. I absolutely loved them. I am sure I will purchase at least 1 focal bead from her after I finish studying her book. You can view her jewelry and her beads on her website.

Well, I'm going to call it a day--a LONG day and a long but very rewarding and productive week. I learned a lot, met a lot of very nice people, renewed some old friendships and made some new ones. I feel motivated to continue moving forward in my quest to become a better artist with a clearer message to share with others.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Saturday, the 4th day of an excellent workshop

But I am tired. . . . and energized, all at the same time! I can hardly wait to get home and start painting some new paintings based on what I've learned this week. I have no doubt they will be stronger in terms of design than before, so I am very eager to get to work on some new pieces! My plan is to to figure out some sort of a real schedule and plan to be IN THE STUDIO a certain amount of time each day. I've said that before and not followed through on it. Although I am fairly fast and quite productive, I think I could do a lot more if I was really serious about painting every single day. (And practicing every day. . . .and exercising every day. . . . and. . . .and. . . . !!)

Today, we continued working on the paintings we started yesterday. Karen demonstrated and we followed the steps in the process that she described. At the end of the day, she critiqued the new piece and the ones we did earlier in the week. We all were pleased with what we did, but we realize we have a lot of room to grow, in terms of incorporating really strong design into our paintings.

The photos today show some scenes during the critique time and some other shots of the classroom/kitchen area. San Diego people have NO idea how lucky they are to have such a wonderful set up and location and also to have the caliber of nationally recognized artists that they contract for demos and monthly workshops.

I am so glad that I went and was able to be part of Karen Knutson's workshop! I certainly debated about it because of the expense (hotel, registration, gas, food) but it was well worth it. Thank you, Karen, and thank you to all the San Diego artists for your warmth, hospitality, and friendliness! It was greatly appreciated all week.

Tonight, I am staying in Pasadena so that tomorrow I can go to a Bead and Design Convention before I go home! No work to this one, just fun looking at all the beads, embellishments etc.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Day 3 of the Design Workshop

I had hoped to have time to take photos today of the Naval Training Center buildings and grounds but there wasn't any chance with a full day of painting. I am including a photo I found on line that shows one of the renovated buildings and you can see how nicely done it is. I'll still try to show more on another day.

Day 3 was as wonderful as days 1 and 2, perhaps
 even better because we're starting to "get the hang of it" at last. As opposed to "value sketches", Karen has taught us to make tiny little "design sketches" in just 2 values. They are small and quick to do and finally getting easier. The beauty of learning the process is that we can use 1 sketch for multiple paintings, just by varying colors, values, and subject matter! That is an exciting thought!

The sketch I did today was fun. I really liked it and can see that I can use it in many ways. Another thing she taught us--though I've heard it many times before, but haven't started really doing it--it is take a photo of our paintings in progress, save them on the computer, and look at them in black and white to see if the values are working. It is a very graphic way to analyze our value system while we still can make changes to the painting that will make it a stronger one. I will include a photo of one of the small studies I've been working on here, in black and white.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Thursday/Day 2 of the San Diego Workshop

Whew! I barely made it--"it" being writing today to keep up with my commitment to write something in my blog each and every day. Day 2 of the Design Workshop was outstanding. After class, I went to the Dick Blick store in San Diego and spent a little money and came back to work on a painting I started in class and an assignment for tomorrow. I just finished and am only saying "hello" here today. More tomorrow, hopefully--along with some photos, too.

I want to tell you about the San Diego "Promenade" area where the San Diego Watercolor Society Gallery and classroom is located. It is all part of the renovation effort involving the old Naval Training Center. It's a fabulous project that looks wonderful and is part of a huge community effort in the Point Lomo area of  San Diego. More about it all very soon. Ta Ta for now!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Day 1 of Karen Knutson's workshop

Today was the first day of four in Karen Knutson's workshop on how to design an outstanding, exciting, eye-catching painting using the elements of repetition, variation, and dominance. We worked hard all day and some of us (myself included!) didn't like the 2 small 7 X 7 inch abstract paintings that we did at all during their development. But we persisted and continued to follow her directions. By the time she critiqued them all at the end of the afternoon, they looked amazing! I am using the photo of one of mine with today's post and a photo of about 12 of them once they were up on the wall as a quilt of little paintings. 

Tomorrow, we will approach good design through a different process and we are all eager and excited to see what Day 2 brings. I will keep you posted.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

If it's Tuesday, it must be Van Nuys. . . .and then San Diego!

And California's southland is experiencing a warm spell. It was 85 before noon today in Van Nuys, warm all last night, and only a tiny bit cooler here in San Diego. The sky is clear and bright blue and all the tank tops and shorts have come out of storage!

I'm unpacked, settled in (sort of) and getting ready to go to tonight's painting demonstration by Karen Knutson, the workshop instructor for the rest of the week. Today's photograph is a photo of the small painting she did as a demonstration. She actually works on multiple paintings of the same subject during her demo, showing the process she goes through to complete a well-designed abstract or semi-abstract.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Gone South for the Winter. . . . .

. . . . but it feels like Spring! I am sitting on my daughter Meghan's couch at 9:45 PM on Monday evening. As we drove back to her apartment a few minutes ago, it was 74 degrees in Van Nuys, near Los Angeles.

I drove down this afternoon, picked her up from work, and we had dinner at Koji's, a Shabu Shabu Japanese restaurant in the shopping mall at Hollywood and Highland in Hollywood. The mall is a very "upscale" one--in fact, it is the location of the annual Oscar awards ceremony! My photos today show some of the features of the mall at night, captured on my iPhone--they came out pretty well, amazingly. 

We walked around a little and I saw a store called "Varga" that was the cutest and most unique shop I've seen in a long while. Lots of one of a kind items of clothing, but everything was displayed with retro and vintage collectable items which were also for sale. A shop well worth visiting, just for the ambiance and the inspiration. It  reminded me that there is more than one way to "skin a cat", or set up a retail business, or paint a painting! (Not Rocket Science, right? But we do forget it sometimes.)

We also saw an interesting restaurant/internet cafe in the same mall. I took a photo through the glass window and you can somewhat see how it was set up in one of the dining rooms. But there was a monitor at each place at the bar counter, and two monitors, back to back with each other in the middle of the table, on each table for two. It was called "uWink" and it was an interesting and unique concept. I imagine it will be a while before the idea reaches Fresno!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Off to San Diego tomorrow. . . .

. . . . for a Karen Knutson workshop hosted by the San Diego Watercolor Society. I took her "Painting With Metallics" class a couple of years ago and loved every minute of it. This four day class is on design so I can hardly wait! Even though I dislike the long drive from home to San Diego, I have really enjoyed the 2 workshops I've taken there before. Plus, I've learned SOOOOO much and come home really motivated to paint. Tonight, I'm packing and gathering supplies so this will be a short post. During the week, I'm hoping to capture some of the process with my camera and share it in my blog each evening. That's the plan, at least, but I also like to paint in the evenings. I'll try my best to keep up with my commitment to blogging every day, even if it's just a sentence or 2 or a photograph. More again very soon!

Think about past workshops you've taken and how you've felt before them, during them, and after them. Anything you'd like to share about your experiences in the comments section would be valuable. Do they motivate you and inspire you to move out of your comfort zone? Do they depress you? Are they too competitive? Too fast paced? Too slow paced? I look forward to hearing from some of you about workshops you've taken, in whatever media. And I look forward to sharing some of my thoughts, as this workshop progresses.

PS. I just discovered that the San Diego club has a nice blog! Check it out at

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Photography Class at The Art Stand Gallery

Today, I took a 4 hour photography class at The Art Stand Gallery, and artist cooperative that I am a member of. The class was taught by member Jeri Burzin and it focused on the basics of light, composition, and the camera. I need to know all I can about taking "good" pictures so it was an enlightening class for me. I plan to just keep on trying to learn one thing at a time and continuing to try to employ the elements and principles of design as I take photos for the blog(s) and for my own personal reference photos and documentary photos. It was a fun day!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Friday Evening, after "Gran Torino"

Hmmmmm. Today is the first time I've been able to write a post directly into the post window on my cell phone. Before, I've had to write an email to myself and the email body became the post. Another milestone accomplishment, for which I can take no credit because I haven't changed anything that I know of.

I am including an iPhone photo of some of the books I am preparing as little samples for my upcoming class. After lightly sanding the shiny surfaces of the covers, I wipe them down and then lightly cover all the surfaces with one or more thin coats of gesso. Then, working on this semi-blank "slate", I will begin to collage paper and other items onto the whitewashed surfaces. I will show you more of them as they progress.

Do you keep an artist book or journal other than your sketchbook?

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The "Kitty Touch"

I used to say that all my paintings had a little "human touch" somewhere--a smudge, a tiny imperfection in the cutting of the mat, a hint of the miniscule blood droplet left when I sliced myself on the edge of the plexiglass as I finished the framing job etc. etc. Now, a painting doesn't seem complete without at least one cat hair between the mat and the plexi or glass. And this is a graphic explanation of why that ever-present "kitty touch"exists!

This is "Miss Kitty", our very talkative, affectionate, demanding and art-loving girl cat! Of the 3 cats (and the other 2 are males to be introduced soon, hopefully!),  she especially loves to be in the studio with me. Today, I was preparing/gesso-ing some board books to make a few small samples for my upcoming "Artist Books and Journals" class and she had to be there supervising me every step of the way! We do love our pets, don't we? Are your pets as helpful (or even MORE so) as you work in your studios? I'm sure you must have similar stories to share. Please do--I'd love to hear them and pass them on!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Setting Goals and Gaining a Vision!

I went to the first session of Art Marketing Salon today and am really inspired to think about setting specific goals for my art career and taking structured steps toward meeting those goals.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Play every day!

We do not stop playing because we grow old.
We grow old because we stop playing.

(Author unknown)

Monday, January 5, 2009

A value study--Bremenesque in black and white

A long day...and a short post!

Most of today was spent on the road--2 and a half hours each way to do
a 2 hour training near Stockton. Since the day was mostly gone by the
time I got back, I ran some errands to gather supplies for next week's
workshop and the class I will teach the end of the month.

So now I'm sitting in front of the fire typing this on my iPhone,
hoping I remember how to email it to my blog site! We shall see!

Sent from my iPhone by Kathleen

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Magical Inspirations

It is late Sunday evening, the first Sunday in 2009. I apologize for not adding a post to my blog in well over a week now. I am going to make a commitment right now to add something every day, from now on, if at all possible. It may be only a sentence or 2, but I WILL write something. I let too many excuses keep me from writing and there is no excuse at all except NOT doing it! 

I have been trying to formulate some sort of plan of what direction I want to travel in terms of what to write about. Since I seem to be having a problem coming up with a structure, I am going to abandon that idea and truly make this blog more of a journal account of what happened each day. I will just write about something that happened that affected me, artistically, each day. My art is most effective when I don't worry about it's structure much and I anticipate that my blog will be also! Some days, there will be no photo or a painting or anything else, but there will be some words each day. I'm finding that it's a little hard to write when it is not interactive, but I will try to get over that feeling and move forward.

Next week, I am going to begin an Art Marketing Salon experience that will take place every other week for nine weeks. I am eagerly looking forward to interacting with other active artists who want to increase their chances of successfully marketing their art. 

And the week after next, I'm going to take a 4 day class in San Diego from an instructor that I've enjoyed in the past. So, it promises to be an exciting, busy January--especially since The Art Stand Gallery does their Winter Workshops this month and next. I am teaching one class and taking 3 others. A lot of magical inspiration is in the offing--and it's just what I need during this rather dreary weather. Today's painting is called "Hocus Pocus" and it is a mixed media painting (38" X 30") featuring the elements of magic.

Well, more soon--write to me when you can with your comments and please sign up to be a follower of the blog if you'd like to read it regularly.