Thursday, February 28, 2013

"Heaven Flowers"

(unavailable....5" x 5".....Mixed Media....Mounted on a 1.50 depth Clayboard)

"Flowers were birthed in heaven and scattered upon the earth." Flowers possess all of the perfect elements of of course they came from heaven!

This small mixed media piece is another experiment and practice session in laying down text pages that look like they're embedded in rice paper. By allowing the edges of all of the layers to be visible, a sense of depth is achieved. 

It also helps to have text pages with red or gold on the edges to define them and use that element of line to be a more dominant part of the piece. I haven't tried this yet, but it might be fun to paint the edges of the book pages before tearing them out to make a more creative statement. Since I haven't tried that, it might not work, but I expect that it would help to have the book closed tightly with perhaps a rock on top to make sure paint didn't seep between the pages. It would help to have the paint thick enough to not be "runny" and cause bleeding.

My mind goes wild thinking about this because there are other beautiful colors as well as other metallics that could add that bit of sparkle and line work that is so appealing. So if you haven't already purchased your stash of books, you might want to get to the antique stores very soon because these old books are becoming a "hot commodity"!

Of course, I already have enough to last me a lifetime, but I still keep looking. Poetry books and old Bibles are especially good. However, my friend Sue seems to be enthralled with numbers and odd books with architectural or mathematical type drawings. It's up to you. There's plenty to choose from. And unbeknownst to me, some of the Half Price Book stores have an old section that is promising.

As technology sweeps us off our feet, actual books that you can hold in your hand may become obsolete. And this is all the more reason I have personally gravitated to anything having to do with books. They make wonderful additions to artwork and provide a visual history of all types of books. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

"Blooming Landscape"

($125.00......6" x 6"....Water Soluble Oils on Gessobord...presented in a custom frame)

"The blooming landscape is fully alive!" I might be projecting ahead a bit, but I was in the mood to paint a cactus bloom today in spite of the fact that it is very cold outside for Central Texas.

In this piece, I was looking down at the cactus when photographing. It was photographed last year since our cactus are not quite there yet. And when they do start blooming, the plein aire painters will need to get out there right away since the deer will eat those blooms. So get prepared with easel or camera or both!

Today I want to talk about what to do when you feel blocked. There are many reasons for it and one of the best antedotes to "blockage" is having a close network of friends who understand the problem. Blockage most often happens because the artist is isolated and doesn't have enough skill, experience, or confidence to carry on. However, if you have just one friend who is working with the same medium, a simple phone call might be all it takes. 

If you wonder why I have chosen to work in several mediums, "blockage" is the main reason. So if my well of enthusiasm seems to be on the wane, I simply change mediums or try something completely new. The advantage of this is that you will then notice how the techniques or design knowledge in one medium will carry over to the others. It's quite fascinating and there is enough information and workshops to keep you busy for the rest of your life.

Another thing I do is look at a lot of other artist's work who may be working in a similar style to myself. For instance, I regularly look at (3) artists who paint exclusively with a palette knife. It always stirs up something in me that makes me want to go paint. 

So if you're feeling apathetic or "blocked" about your art process, simply talk to another art friend...learn a new in a different medium...look at other artist's work...and don't forget to pray. I cannot tell you how many times I have specifically prayed that I would see what I needed to see. Try it for yourself and see what happens. There simply is no need to stay "blocked" in your process. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about. 

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

"Dancing Thoughts"

(unavailable.....4" x 6"....Mixed Media on 140 lb HP....Mounted on Masonite)

"My thoughts dance in rhythm to beauty." The quote makes perfect sense if the definition of dance is any kind of rhythmic movement applied to things other than physical dancing.

I feel as though I'm dancing from one table to the next in my studio between glass work, mixed media, oil paints and lettering. What can I say...except that I am easily bored!

In this piece, I began with a cropped section of pouring medium which is very reminiscent of marbled papers. For that reason I like to combine that look with old book pages and rice paper. I like to go back and forth laying down the text pages and rice papers until it all looks very well integrated.

And of course, I am experimenting always so I added more pouring medium on top of the text pages just to see what it looked like. (The jury is still out on that one.) And so it goes with the nature of experimenting. You simply must try a lot of different things in order to see all of the possibilities. Since art is a visual discipline, most of us need to see unusual combinations of design elements in order to decide whether or not to add them to our repertoire.

So my encouragement today is to look at a lot of art, do a lot of art, and you will eventually have a wonderful "artistic voice" consisting of all of those elements and textures you love. The important thing is to keep at it every day. If you work full time, it is much harder, but if you have a designated place, you will soon find yourself slipping away to that place for a small retreat each day. How exciting to have opportunities to be creative and share our gifting with others! And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Monday, February 25, 2013


($250.00....8" x 12" .....Kiln Formed Glass Collage.....Presented in Limestone)

"And every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:11....NLT) This piece was created for an upcoming Easter Exhibit with the theme of "Fully Alive". What you see inscribed in the glass is what is commonly referred to as non verbal lettering. In other words, it is non readable. This particular passage came to me because of the non verbal lettering,  but I felt like it would visually work better to leave the verse off of the piece and explain it in the interpretation.

This is a kiln formed three layer collage. It will be presented in limestone. By creating a large sheet of the same texture and expressive lettering and then cutting it up and reassembling it into a collage, the impact is greater than it would have been had I left it in tact. 

This is a point to remember when creating a larger work for mixed media or collage works of any type. Disparate and cut up parts often come together to create something quite remarkable that would never have the same impact had the piece remained in its original form. 

What does make works like this dynamic and successful is having the separate pieces share a common denominator or two. In the very textured areas of this piece, the common denominator was the technique used. It is the same technique with different colors. by cutting them up and alternating them, the design became much stronger. This type of collage design work is especially useful when trying to figure out how to salvage a piece that simply doesn't work. By using some cropping "L's", you might find some sections that would work quite well with yet another piece. And on it goes....cut it up...recycle...reassemble...etc. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about. 

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Saturday, February 23, 2013


(unavailable......6" x 12"......Oils on 300 lb. HP.....Mounted on a 2.00" depth Clayboad)

"Noticing the small things gives order to the larger things." Paying attention to the small details in a process or in the habits of daily living will always help facilitate the larger things of life.

Most of the things I've learned in art have been from observing or noticing the small things that were happening during the process. For instance, I've noticed that the pressure imposed on the palette knife while dragging the paint across the surface makes a big difference in the the outcome.

It might help to write these observations down by keeping an art journal. These notations will keep them alive for you because you will not remember what you observed or did (6) months from now. Writing down a process that has worked for you immediately after it happens will ensure that you can repeat it again.

I have kept art journals for several years and it is always interesting to go back and look at some of the examples and written instructions. It will often prompt a technique for a new piece. It is not necessary to start at square one every time you try to create a piece, but by carefully building on knowledge learned from the last piece, you will soon find yourself making significant progress. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about. 

Friday, February 22, 2013


(unavailable.....4" x 6".....Mixed Media on 140 lb HP.....mounted on Masonite)

"Joy ripples through the peaceful heart." The predominance of red and the violet ripples created by the pouring medium prompted this quote. I have found it to be true that when I am peaceful, there is joy.

This is a 4" x 6" mixed media piece with the base support created with Liquitex Pouring Medium and Fluid Acrylics on a 140 lb. HP support. In previous postings I placed the text pages in the center, creating a vignette. This time, I decided to touch two edges with the shape of the collage elements. There is much that can be accomplished when thinking in shapes. Going one step further and making sure the space is divided in a pleasing way by allowing the shape to touch at least two or more edges of the design space is another option and a bit more dynamic than placing the shape in the center. 

There is a lot of layers of text pages and rice paper, along with deconstructed elements, to create a raised and complex shape with lots of layers. The slight marbling in the pouring medium is also a good pairing with this type of collage. So if you're inclined to rummage around antique stores and look for old books, this might be a project to consider. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Thursday, February 21, 2013


($100.00......6" x 6".....Kiln Formed Glass Collage.....Presented on an Easel)

"Rise up out of the ashes and trust again." The texture and color of this glass very much reminds me of ashes. And since we are now in the season of Lent, it seemed very appropriate. The truth of the matter is that there are times in everyone's life when it seems as though everything has turned to ashes. Stay hopeful, trust God, and rise up out of the ash heap.

As I have explained before, three layer glass collages are very much like mixed media layering. The advantage of glass is that true transparency can be achieved quite easily. It is the combination of texture created with glass powders/frits combined with other glass that creates fantastic depth and complexity. It's a classic case of one medium playing off of another and vice versa.

So, in mixed media, I create that transparency with silk tissue paper and rice papers along with revealing bits of the previous texture. A very good exercise is to study textures that you see in walls, ancient looking photos, etc. and try to figure out how the texture was achieved. One thing I do know is that it is not created with one layer of paint.

Try diluting one color of acrylic paint with water or Fluid Acrylics and brushing a glaze over the paper. After that dries, choose another color and do the same thing. Only this time, blot or brayer parts of the paint off to reveal the first layer. Let that dry and do it again. After you've had experience with this type of layering the paint, you will begin to see textures you never thought you could achieve. 

Also try throwing alcohol into the paint (about the third layer) and brayering over it....wiping the brayer....more alcohol....more brayering...wiping off and you will be stunned at the texture you can achieve. It's a wonderful way to experiment and if you look closely at old walls with peeling paint, you will figure out what color to lay down first. All very exciting! And there you have it....just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


($125.00.......6" x 12".....Water Soluble Oils on 300 lb. HP....Mounted on a 2.00" depth Clayboard)

"Bring your dreams forward." The next question is... how do I do that? Set your goals higher, try new things, and remove the words of "naysayers" from your mind. Stay in your own lane and do what God has wired you to do.

It is pure impertinence to tell others what God's will for their life is. Frankly, it's between you and God. Counsel is good, but only if it's done with the utmost respect. And that's my little sermonette for the day.

In no other area of life does a person need firm resolve as much as they do if they're an artist. There are subliminal messages that we receive on a continuous basis that art needs to remain in the shadows of life and is something you do only as a hobby or when everything else is done. This is not true and all artists need to hear this on a regular basis.

And if you're creating your artwork in total isolation, the chances of you continuing on are very slim. The internal critic will eat you alive. So to bring your dreams forward also means to surround yourself with encouraging art friends who will help you progress. Just remember that if you don't do what you're wired to do, no one else will be able to fill that gap. Each of us has their own artistic fingerprint that no one else has. 

Keep that in mind when you feel like hanging it all up and moving on to something else. A true artist will never be satisfied until they are actually creating art. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about. 

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

"A Hymn"

(unavailable....4" x 6".....Mixed Media on 140lb. HP.....mounted on Masonite)

"The church bells rang and the voices sang a hymn to thee." I must be feeling nostalgic today because I remember the days when hymns were sung in church. I still remember most of the words to my personal favorites. In fact, a very special memory I have is my friend, Paula, taking me and a few other friends to a small church in Kennebunkport, Maine, where hymns were sung every Sunday with great vigor. A truly inspiring event for me.

This is a pouring medium piece done in a different way. Instead of pouring the medium onto the wet paper, the paint was applied with a palette knife. There was still some spontaneous movement of the paint, but not as much. It has a more painterly effect. The remainder of the piece is simply old book pages, rice paper, and one bit of a line engraving printed on silk tissue paper. There is also a lot of deconstruction going on to create some of those textures.

Even the colors in this piece reminded me of the Northeast Coast. It's only a 4" x 6" size so it's extremely easy to complete. The important thing to remember when doing these types of mixed media pieces, is to have as many selections in your "stash" as possible.

For instance, you could have a whole day of doing nothing but mono printing rice papers. It makes it so much easier when you already have that part done and all you need to do is go look through your papers to find just the right one.

I do use Speedball Printing Ink (water soluble) for this type of printing because you get a better print than you would if you used acrylic paint. Of course, you then need to spray it with Spray Acrylic Coating before it's ready to adhere to your support. 

You will not interrupt the flow of your creative process if you have these done in advance with all of the typical colors you use. I store mine in large plastic baggies and throw them into a plastic storage container. It's easier to dig through your plastic container of baggies than to rummage through a drawer and you will soon have too many of these to fit in a drawer anyway. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Monday, February 18, 2013


($100.00......6" x 6" Kiln Formed Glass Collage.....presented on a pedastal)

"Nature is fully alive." The piece today is a three layer kiln formed glass collage. It is for an upcoming Easter Exhibit called "Fully Alive". You can see part of the word nature written in the glass paint and powders at the bottom and the quote is written with a pumpkin nib using tracing black powder and clove oil.

I admit it. I am totally obsessed with glass right now, along with oil paints, gestural writing, and mixed media with glass. My studio is never a boring place especially when I have an Open Studio day with other artists joining me in a creating frenzy! Those who follow this blog may not know that I am the curator for two galleries at Hill Country Bible Church NW. You can get a glimpse of the main gallery and find many interesting articles along with our calendar of events by checking out our website. ( 

Because of my leadership in this ministry, I have had several Open Studio Events for the artists on that team. We are all in a creating frenzy trying to get our work done before the last week of March.....which is Easter. So many of the things I address in my blog are directly related to what is going on with this group.

In this piece and in all glass pieces formed into a collage, the first step is to prepare Tekta (clear glass) by texturizing it with glassline paint, frits/powders. So what you are looking at in the highly textured lime green areas first began by painting black glassline paint on one side of the glass and letting it dry. Flip it over and paint white glassline paint on the other side, but also allowing some of the black to show through around the edges. Spring Green glass powders were then sifted into the paint and then the word nature was written in this wet paint which also revealed the black underneath. All of these separate glass pieces were fired and then cut and reassembled with other glass to create the three layer collage.

I call glass the original "bling" and raise my glass (pun intended) to give a toast to all of the obsessed glass artists on my team. You're all great!! And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.  

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Sunday, February 17, 2013


( the collection of dee day.....5" x 5"....Acrylics on Canvas....mounted on a clayboard.)

"Bandage your heart with beauty." There are only two things that pierce the and affliction. This piece was cropped from a larger one where the word beauty was written a bit "wonky", but it works with this quote, especially with the three cross stitches underneath. When our hearts are in need of healing, beauty is the healing balm.

The original larger piece was painted with acrylics and palette knife on canvas. I always liked the colors, but not the entire piece so I cropped it to this smaller 5" x 5" version and added the one line quote with pointed pen and gouache. The surface was prepared to receive lettering by brushing on (2) parts water to (1) part gel matte medium. It's tricky because at first the medium will not want to attach to the slick surface. By securing the piece to a can cause it to adhere to the piece by holding a hair dryer in one hand and brushing with the other. (I've mentioned this many times before, but here it is again in case you like to letter over acrylic paint or metal leaf.)

 Besides the palette knife texture, I particularly like to stitch through canvas to create more texture. There are many other ways to do this. For instance, I have seen special effects with yarns and threads and beads hanging from a support. The only caution that comes to mind is to make sure it fits perfectly with your colors and concept or it will look very contrived.

In the case of stitching and then painting over it, the integration is complete and the surprise element of the stitching is always appealing to the viewer. If you like extreme texture, you can also stitch on another piece of fabric and paint over the whole piece to get another effect. These types of texture do work well in all kinds of concepts, but are particularly effective to get a "moody" ethereal look going on. I cannot almost hear those of you on my art team at church coming up with all kinds of ideas. Just make sure it's convincing. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Saturday, February 16, 2013


(unavailable.....4" x 6"....Mixed Media on 140 lb. HP)

"Islands are the places in my mind where the quiet can be found." Everyone dreams of a far away place where there is sun, palm trees, beaches, and quiet. We cannot always physically be in those places, but we can go there in our minds.

This piece represents yet another way to incorporate old text pages and rice paper. Because the pouring medium technique used in the background is so similar to marbled paper, it matches up beautifully. You may have even found some old books with marbled paper inside the front and back covers. It's one way of remembering the beauty of books that are now quickly being replaced by ipads and Nook. Thank you very much, but I still enjoy holding an actual book in my hand.

So part of me is still wanting to keep the book arts alive by retrieving some of those old books and incorporating them into works of art. I personally believe that bookbinding will still remain popular and will rise to an elevated art form in much the same way that quilts have done. If you've ever been to the Houston International Quilt Show, you will know exactly what I'm talking about.

Anyway, for those of you who have learned how to use Liquitex Pouring Medium and Fluid Acrylics, this should spark your interest. You will soon be scouting around looking for just the right kind of old books. What makes them more appealing than newer books is the patina that magically appears in stark contrast to the rice papers when they are sprayed with Krylon Spray Acrylic Coating. Great fun for a Saturday! And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Friday, February 15, 2013

"Textured Walls"

(unavailable.....6" x 6"......Experimental Piece.....Water Soluble Oils on Gessobord)

"History is layered in textured walls." At first glance, it might be difficult to comprehend what you might be viewing. It is a very old textured wall in Jefferson, Texas. If this wall could talk, I would love to know the stories it would tell. (If you look closely, there is a Texas Star.)

The patina and texture of old walls has long been a fascination to me. It looks like an abstract painting because of the layers and layers of concrete, mortar, repair work etc. Because of my struggles in painting this in oils, I would probably do it in acrylic if I ever chose to do this type of painting again. It is very difficult to achieve this many layers of texture in a wet into wet technique. (a word to the wise)

And that brings me to the reason why plein air painters and daily painters generally work small. The purpose is to work out the composition, technique, and other variables in a small version first before committing to a larger work. 

I came to another realization while working on this piece.  It  would be a good jumping off point for making it a totally abstract piece by not showing the brick work, the same shape of the building or sky, but simply using the same colors to create a grid format type of layout with hints of the same texture.

So there is a lot of "back and forth" thinking that goes on with these types of pieces. One could also do the reverse and take a totally abstract painting and add enough realism to bring it back a bit. There are always viewers who will bristle at abstraction unless there is something identifiable as an image in the piece.

The problem in combining realism with abstraction is that it can look contrived unless everything is well integrated. Color will probably be the best common denominator to integrate the two processes together. Another key point to keep ourselves out of the weeds is to make sure we are creating a pattern with our abstraction. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

"Love Language"

($50.00.....6" x 6".....Water Soluble Oils on Gessobord)

"Flowers have their own love language." No card required with the gift of flowers. The presentation of their beauty says it all.

Presenting a gift created with your own hands is generally received with tremendous gratitude. This is especially true if the gift is given to an artist who understands the time and effort involved. I once had a chat with C.D. Weaver (artist in residence at the Presbyterian Seminary) who shared a very moving story involving a homeless shelter. He was telling me how drab the place was with nothing on the walls so he decided to donate a forged steel piece he had created. The people who lived there were changed by the presence of art and something so beautiful on a drab wall. 

This should inspire all of us who create art to simply give away some of our work to people and places that could never acquire it on their own. Beauty was meant to be shared and it really does feed the soul. It is a fact that no generation has ever survived without art, but many generations have survived without technology. I think it's time to readjust our values and do or create things that actually feed the soul before we all lose our ability to feel.

Those are my thoughts for this Valentine's Day. Enjoy the day and be creative! And there you have it...just a few more things to think about. 

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

"Yellow Rose"

($50.00.....6" x 6".....Water Soluble Oils on Gessobord)

"Yellow roses express Texas love." There are several reasons why I love yellow roses. I am a native Texan; I carried them at my wedding; and they're beautiful!

Unless you are painting a still life with the flowers lying on their side or in a vase, the other option is to allow them to take up most of the design space. All of this got me to thinking once again about positive and negative space. If the image takes up most of the space, the result is a very dramatic painting. If, on the other hand, the negative takes up most of the space, the result is a quieter and much less dramatic piece. My natural inclination is to allow the image to take up most of the space because I like drama (the good kind!)

Of course, cropping the image so that parts of it are completely running out of the design boundary will also create drama. These are very important considerations when choosing how to compose your piece. My motive in painting this piece took into account that roses are much easier to paint with a palette knife if they're large. I simply didn't feel like putting myself through the kind of agony early in the morning that required painting several of them in a vase.  

You can also experiment with your camera to see check out positive and negative space arrangements without having to actually paint each one. Either way, it's a good thing to think about these things and try all of the options. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

"On The Wayside"

($125.00.......6" x 6"......Water Soluble Oils on Gessobord.....Presented in a Custom Frame)

"Beauty is often found on the wayside." The wayside refers to the land immediately adjacent to a road, highway, path, etc. The reference for this painting came from the wayside near Santa Fe. This type of brush with the pretty yellow flowers is everywhere and the color of it is quite lovely. Don't always look in the obvious places for beauty, but check out the wayside.

There is nothing like painting trees and weeds to give you an experience with lines and their direction. Yesterday's posting was abstract, but the reference of marble with all of its lines was simply a different type of line work. There are actually several types of lines. There are long and short lines...thick and thin...solid and broken...straight and curved...uniform and irregular...vertical and horizontal.

When analyzing the type of line work you see in other artist's work or even in your own, it is good to accurately describe what you're seeing in your analysis. If you can describe it in any of these ways, you will more likely be able to incorporate it in your own work. Learning to analyze what you see is a skill that will help you learn design more than any other way besides doing it over and over again. The problem is that you need to know what you're doing because accidentally creating a well designed piece is not a very efficient strategy.

As you hone your own analytical skills, you will soon discover that many of those design things you observed will be cropping up in your own work. It is really quite fun to dissect a piece of artwork by taking each element of design (line, color, shape, value, direction, texture, size) and describe in detail how each is used in a particular work. 

Frankly, it is a shortcut to learning design because you are observing something that's already done rather than trying to incorporate things you don't understand in your own work. Why not "cut to the chase" and see it in someone else's piece first. For instance, if I tell you that one of the color contrasts that is the most effective is the use of a direct complementary scheme....will you understand it better by reading what it is or will you understand it better by seeing it in a particular work? And there you have it...just a few more things to think about. 

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Monday, February 11, 2013

"Etched In Stone"

(unavailable....6" x 6".....Experimental Piece......Water Soluble Oils on Gessobord)

"Lines etched in stone are abstract." This is a totally experimental piece based on a slab of marble. It clearly shows that God believed in abstraction because it is ever present in our created world.

Lines and their direction create shapes and sometimes the lines themselves are the focal point. There were tons of lines in this piece of marble. There was no way to include them all, but I tried to include enough to make it convincing. There are many artists who choose this element of design as the foundation to all of their work. And I must say, even though there is not a recognizable image involved, it is extremely compelling. 

Juan Iribarren is one artist who uses different sized bands of color going in many directions and often creating a grid which forms little cubicles where gestural mark making can be included. It's quite fascinating. Just google his name and you can see for yourself. 

Another artist who likes to paint abstract landscapes by reducing the imagery to slashes of color is Brian Rutenberg. He is prolific and his work is extremely compelling. 

And, of course, there is Yves Leterme (lettering artist from Belgium) who also uses gesso, line work, and some color to create small compartments with the line work and also a lot of gestural writing with a pencil. 

So if you like sketching, line work, and abstraction, these are definitely artists you might want to check out. They are all on the internet. If you like Roman lettering and line is fun to incorporate angled and manipulated monoline romans into a piece that is based on abstracted line work. All in all, it is different and might open up your horizons. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

"Side By Side"

(unavailable.....6" x6"......Experimental Piece....Water Soluble Oils on Gessobord)

"Light pierces darkness, especially when they're side by side." There are so many meanings that could be attached to this quote. You decide.

I've talked about process "ad nauseum", but the truth remains that unless a strategy is in place to progress on each of our art journeys, the journey will stop. Accidental strategies are not strategies. I know because I've been there, done that. That's why it is important to hang out with other artists and talk about each other's art. It can be very scary if you don't because each of us has an internal critic that will absolutely "eat your lunch". 

One of the most important strategies is an established place to work. If you don't have space for a full blown studio, then you may need to invest in a rolling cart that can be wheeled into the kitchen...preferably close to the sink.

The next most important thing is to choose the very best time of day to work. This will be different from person to person. As most of you know, I choose early morning to insure that art gets done first before distractions overtake me. Even if I plan to go out, I never schedule appointments before 11:00 AM unless there is no other alternative. Today is my 700th posting and I can assure you that it would never have happened without getting up early in the morning...even when I didn't feel like it. 

Art has to be treated like every other skill. You simply must make a decision to do it every day. I have always been struck by the fact that even concert pianists practice at least (4) hours a day to keep their skill level in tact. One teacher from college once told our harmony and theory class that we should take her class as seriously as we would if we were preparing to be a surgeon. Art certainly isn't a life or death situation, but imagine how far any of us could go if we took our art that seriously. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Saturday, February 9, 2013


($125.00....6" x 12"....Water Soluble Oils on 300 lb HP.....mounted on a 1.50" depth clayboard)

"My imagination is fully alive in the spiritual realm of the unknown." Removing all of the obstacles to living a full life is best accomplished by living in the spiritual realm where the Holy Spirit resides. (This piece is a possibility for an upcoming exhibit.)

This gestural landscape is part of a series of experimental pieces I have been creating to allow for a backdrop for gestural writing and mark making. By nature of the challenge, I must keep the imagery simple with minimal detail. Most of these pieces have been created from a mental reference of what constitutes a landscape rather than looking at a reference photo.

In spite of the abstract quality I am looking for, I am still taking lots of pictures of skies in all kinds of weather. Just filling my mind with these images absolutely informs placement, shapes, and color notes. It is also fun to depart completely from the colors that typically describe a skyscape.

After creating 103 oil paintings in recent months, I can verify that it is an excellent way to speed up the learning process, but I can also verify that there is much more to learn and think about in every part of the process. My next thought is to do one right after the other until my internal critic is dead and the paint just flows and "fussing" over the piece completely stops.

So my encouragement today is to set aside a few hours and simple sketch, paint, create a glass collage, etc. until the process becomes free flowing. Shut everything else out of your mind and simply do it. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Friday, February 8, 2013

"In The Morning"

($100.00.......6" x 6"....Mixed Media on 300 lb HP and Balsa Wood.....Mounted on a 2.00" depth Clayboard)

"Early in the morning will I pray to you, my Lord." This mixed media piece expresses my thoughts on how to start the day. I am really not pleasant until I've had conversation with God.

This piece has two levels of depth. The area surrounding the glass is a piece of 1/4" depth balsa wood to make it the same level as the glass. The dimensional look is quite appealing when viewing the original piece and creates a tremendous amount of depth. I even wrapped some of the text pages around the balsa wood which creates another level of interest. In pieces like this, where there is a hugh "wow" factor of fused glass, it is best to keep the main thing the main thing by not introducing too much color, line drawings, or any other imagery. This is a lettering piece....pure and simple. Even the glass has gestural writing written into the powders before firing. 

I did do a lot of deconstruction from some of the text pages and some blue monoprinted rice papers left over from other projects. In fact, using deconstruction to add a bit of color is a much more subtle technique than trying to do a wash or other type of painting. That would look contrived, but this leaves just a whisper or fragment of the color in a very random way. 

By using balsa wood instead of stacking 300 lb. HP papers to imbed the glass, the end result is a much cleaner edge which allows it to be mounted on a 1.50" or 2" depth clayboard rather than presenting it in a frame. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about. 

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

"Pastoral Scene"

($1250.00....6" x 6".....Water Soluble Oils on Gessobord...Presented in a Custom Frame)

"Pastoral scenes calm the soul." I've been trying to analyze why I love horizontal bands of color in some of my other pieces. Now I know that they remind me of pastoral scenes with large expanses of open grazing land without much detail. It's something like the feeling we get when all of the surfaces are cleared of clutter. It has a tremendously soothing effect.

With all types of creative endeavors there is an anxiety firmly attached to the process. You may have wondered why you might have the most amazing concept in your head and then not be able to pull it all together on paper or canvas. The reason is a built in fear of failure which produces a tremendous amount of anxiety. Eric Maisel has written about this process in his book Fearless Creating. 

I simply want to share some of my own thoughts which have certainly been influenced by all of the good books I've read on the subject, including the one mentioned. Dr. Maisel concludes that you must invite anxiety in and then manage it. If you do not learn how to do this, you will not create. It helps tremendously to simply commit to creating something everyday. Don't make excuses...don't think about not doing it....just keep doing what you know to do on a regular basis.

However, if this is simply too much to overcome, it is extremely helpful to create in the context of a class. This enables you to receive feedback from others and realize that other artists are just like yourself and often have as much trouble as you do in bringing something to a conclusion.

Improving your skill level will also help. Treat your time in the studio just like you would if you were learning a musical instrument. It's really quite the same, since both disciplines require going over something enough times to develop muscle memory and also learning how to put a piece of art together. With each piece under your belt, the process becomes very fluid and then you can add more skills as you go along. 

The biggest problem I've seen...other than the fact that most of us work alone. The internal critic will come along and sabotage your progress and cause you to run from your studio in horror! That's why you need a support system where others are encouraging you and are willing to come along side you when you "hit a wall" in your process.

These are just some things I've encountered and my advice to all who care about their art journey is to simply keep going and pray a lot and talk to others about your art. (Pick people you are very comfortable sharing with and who will give you encouragement.) And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

"Sunlit Meadow"

($200.00.....8" x 10"....Water Soluble Oils on Gessobord....Presented in a Custom Frame)

"Sunlit meadows dance in the light." There is something about the light shining through trees and revealing a sunlit meadow. It reminds us that the landscape is vibrating with life.

True to one of my goals for the new year...I am working on a larger piece for at least one posting per week. Although I have gotten a bit carried away with my Gestural Landscapes in a 6" x 12" size. Today's piece is an 8" x 10"and was painted from one of my Texas Hill Country photos. It is more abstracted than some of my other ones, but I suspect that is a result of several days of the Gestural Landscape pieces. 

And that brings me to my talking point for today. It is good to go back and forth between mediums because they influence each other. Even my mixed media pieces are influenced by my oil paintings and vice versa. It enables you to see a lot of your work from different inspirations and notice the common denominators that are unique to you. It is good to know what those particular marks, techniques, and other elements are so that you can hone them and mature in your artistic voice.

After this morning, I could clearly see how the gestural marks keep coming to the forefront and I am pretty much convinced that I need to go more abstract with the landscapes done en plein aire as well as the ones using a reference photo. It only makes sense, but I did not see it as clearly until I began working on the (10) Gestural Landscapes. I absolutely need areas of the painting that have little or no detail to incorporate expressive lettering. 

And of course, all of the palette knife practice helps me to be able to do the same types of works in acrylic so that I can prepare the surface for lettering and do it more precisely for those who simply tolerate gestural "stuff". I do know who my audience is and realize that often the readability factor is hugh. No problem. I will just do both...and maybe in the same piece!

And so go my thoughts today. It may seem like rambling, but I hope it will inspire you to have these same conversations with yourself. It's very instructive. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

"Open My Eyes"

($125.00......6" x 12".....Water Soluble Oils on 300 lb HP....Mounted on a 1.50" depth clayboard)

"Open my eyes to see wonderful truths in your instructions." The text in this piece is from Psalm 119:18 (NLT) It is a potential piece for an upcoming exhibit.

Another "Gestural Landscape" without giving heed to the natural order or color of an actual landscape. The focal point is color. I am enjoying doing these because they create a wonderful backdrop for gestural writing and expressive mark making.

I purposefully try not to have straight bands of color, but allow the palette knife to do its work of creating an erratic edge. And from a distance, no one would suspect that there was lettering in the piece. Using techniques that actually integrate the lettering this well keeps the piece looking like an abstract oil painting. The lettering is an extra surprise for those who view the painting up close.

Some lettering artists still prefer lettering to be placed in the middle of the page of a white sheet of paper. I must admit that those types of pieces have their own personal charm, but to be competitive with other artists who are doing everything under the sun, not to mention the millions of images on the internet, it is important to combine disciplines to come up with other ways to visually communicate.

As for me, I like both approaches, but it is quite exhilarating to throw caution to the wind and let loose with some very free and expressive approaches. It's all part of the process. I have friends who paint very tightly and realistically and it's beautiful. I have other friends who are somewhere in the middle between realism and impressionism. So my encouragement is to try it all and notice the common denominators that keep pulling you in a specific direction. For me it is the "gestural mark" and the inclusion of lettering in every piece whether it's oils, mixed media, or glass. 

Once you decide what your common denominators will have discovered your artistic voice. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Monday, February 4, 2013

"At Rest"

(unavailable.....6" x 12".....Water Soluble Oils on 300 lb HP....Mounted on an Ampersand Clayboard)

"Being at rest is being fully alive!" So often we think that perpetual activity is being fully alive. However, most of the important decisions in life are made during a period of deep meditation and prayer to the One who can truly change things.

After yesterday, I dusted myself off and painted another Gestural Landscape painting. This time, I chose 300 lb. HP and I talked to myself as I was mixing the color. I told myself that I had one or two (at the most) passes with my palette knife across an area. That definitely keeps the work fresh. It reminds me of a watercolor teacher I once had who made us count the number of brush strokes in the same area. We could use no more than three. It seemed a bit confining, but it really did keep the work from becoming muddy. 

So it really does help to limit the time you spend on a particular piece and keep yourself from "fussing" over it by counting your strokes. Another designer friend of mine coined a phrase for this type of process...."think before you stink!". It doesn't sound very nice, but it really does pay big dividends to think about your colors (hue, value, and intensity) before committing to laying them down. And of course, when lettering or gestural marks are included, the first layer of color is extremely important and helps keep the viewer's interest and introduce a bit of line work.

Last, but not least, is the idea of messing up the paint with a bit of finger painting (with your gloves on) or running the palette knife through parts of the lettering to create a bit of deconstruction. These techniques add energy to the piece and break up the surface tension.  And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

"Visual Memory"

(unavailable....8" x 10"....Water Soluble Oils on Gessobord)

"Color is the visual memory maker of life." This is a totally abstract piece with color as the focal point. The quote is totally unreadable and isn't even there really. Some days I simply need to experiment. This was one of those days.

It is often said that we learn more from our mistakes than we do from our successes. I heartily agree with that quote and today is a prime example. It is a totally experimental piece of work that I am calling "Gestural Landscapes". Some of them will succeed and others will not. And that is the nature of experimental work. 

So the point act as though you are going to create a masterpiece by working on good surfaces with good materials just in case. One of the major things I learned about this piece is that my left side of the brain got involved too much. I was over thinking the process and consequently overworked the piece. Yesterday's piece was far more successful because I had a very hard deadline (mosaic class coming to my studio) and I could not "fuss" with the process.

This harkens back to all of my narrative about the value of timed work. Often, the imposition of a timed situation causes it to work out better. I absolutely think that is the case in this type of work. But alas, it is very difficult to break lifelong habits of "tweaking" a piece to death. I also remembered a very wise teacher who said that the hardest decision an artist makes is knowing when to stop.

And so it is with abstract pieces. They are called abstract because of the abbreviation of an image or no image at all. So if you are compelled to try this kind of work, my advice is to keep the bands of color simple with just enough laying down of the color with a brush or palette to cover up the surface and perhaps to blend with the edge of a previous color and then leave it alone. Overworking is the death knell of gestural and abstract pieces.

You might wonder if it is wiser to wipe the paint and begin again or to keep the piece as a reminder of what not to do. I definitely vote for keeping the piece in tact. One of the purposes of doing experimental work is to do a lot of it and then compare and contrast your work before selecting the one for exhibition. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Saturday, February 2, 2013


($100.00......8" x 10".....Water Soluble Oils on Gessobord)

"Resting is never easy." If you've ever tried to rest when you have a lot of deadlines, you will understand this quote perfectly. It requires intentional effort to relax your mind long enough to allow for quiet meditation and prayer. It does help to jot down the things you need to do and assign a specific time and date to get them done. According to David Allen, (Getting Things Done)...our minds continue to go around in circles until we have a time slot for everything.

This piece falls in the category of gestural landscape. That's what I'm calling my contemporary landscape paintings. They all begin with horizontal bands of color. In this case, I have chosen a yellow and purple palette. The purple tones are very diluted with the complement and have varying values. The yellow, too, is diluted with a bit of purple. By using a limited palette, and the same colors to mix all of these color notes, you will have a very successful and harmonious color scheme. 

My purpose in wanting to rid myself of even more detail is to bring in gestural lines and marks. The lettering was written with a pencil the gestural lines. The beauty of this is that the gestural lines integrate very well with actual writing. I did do some deconstruction by writing the quote (with sharpened mechanical pencil) and then using a palette knife to go through parts of it to obscure the lettering. If you're careful about what you wish to is possible to still read the quote without it looking too contrived.

I even followed my instinct to do a bit of finger painting in this one. (with latex gloves on, of course) A very fun way to spend a Saturday! And there you have it...just a few more things to think about. 

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Friday, February 1, 2013

"Behold the Lamb (2)"

($125.00.....6" x 12"....Water Soluble Oils on 300 lb. HP.....mounted on a 1.50" depth clayboard)

"Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world." This is a second experimental piece with the same words. It is a possibility for an upcoming exhibit.

Back to oils today after two days of mixed media. This sky scape was inspired by a photo I took just two days ago in the late afternoon. I kept pulling off of the side of the road to take pictures and didn't think I was ever going to get home. That's why it is very important to have a pocket camera in your purse with a small zoom.  You never know when the sky will be exquisite.

The strategy for this painting was to paint the first layer over the entire sheet. It was white, lemon yellow, and a small bit of purple mixed from ult. blue and alizarin crimson, but mostly white. The grays and oranges were then mixed with several variations....some lighter and some darker. For most of this layer I blended it slightly with the previous layer. I then added some heavier and less blended layers in key places which gives the piece its texture. 

What I can now tell you after having done (5) of these sky scapes, is that they look deceptively simple to do. To capture the atmosphere with several layers of paint with a wet into wet technique is quite challenging, but I think the best preparation is to simply do bands of color in different sizes first. It's a great way to create an abstract piece and it provides a way to practice laying horizontal bands of color down without thinking about clouds and where the darks and lights are placed in a true sky scape.

Tomorrow, I plan to paint one that is totally abstract and doesn't really look like a sky at all. And if you like color and simply want to loosen up and have a great time, it's a fun thing to try. You can then call yourself a "colorist". In this case, the color becomes the focal point. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.