Monday, October 25, 2010

Quote for the Day

If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, I will answer you:  “I am here to live out loud.”  - Emile Zola

Friday, October 22, 2010

Optical Illusion

This is a really cool optical illusion.  Stare at the center for at least 30 seconds, then look away and see what happens.  After you look away, whatever object you look at will seem as if it's moving.  Cool!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Since I've been thinking about Monet's cathedrals, I pulled up some pics we took in Europe this summer.  This picture is of my daughter and son in front of the Strassbourg Cathedral in Strassbourg, France.  It's the biggest cathedral I have ever seen!  Gorgeous!

Parts of the cathedral here and there were under construction - methinks that a building this big must always have some part of it under construction!  It is really breathtaking in its beauty and size.  The six of us had separated at this point, and close to the cathedral, there was no phone service.  I'm surprised we're not still all individually wandering around Strassbourg looking for each other!  No small wonder that there was no phone reception next to this billion-pound structure!

Here's one of the intricate entry doors.  You have to just stand in awe of the amount of detail work has been put into this cathedral!

What makes the picture for me, though, is my son, Noah, sitting on the steps.  He cares not about the intricacies of the statuary, he's just happily exploring his new purchases stashed in that nice, pink bag!

Once inside, a hush comes over all who enter.  The beauty of the church is breathtaking, and the stained glass windows are shining.  Here's the rose window.

 I used to work in stained glass.  It was a lot of fun, but requires a room of its own due to flying glass shards.  Something about four kids nipped that one in the bud.  The interesting thing about that is that I have four brothers.  We all live in different states.  Three of us, we found, unbeknownst to each other, were working in stained glass!  How many families do you know like that, anyway?  I may or may not go back to glass when I grow up... life is awfully short with so many things to explore, isn't it?

 Below are more windows - this cathedral was loaded with them.  I seem to remember reading that these are some of the oldest stained glass windows in Europe; however, I'll have to check on that one.  When you're doing a lot of touring, everything tends to blur together after a while.

Stained glass windows were called the 'Poor Man's Bible,' as most couldn't read.  The pictures clearly told the Biblical story for everyone.

My daughter and her gargoyle friend.  He's watching over her and I'm not sure who looks more contemplative!

My four guys.  It was a great trip.

There was an ancient building facing Cathedral Square which we enjoyed whilst eating our lunch.  I put it down toward the bottom of my blog because I wanted to do a BIG pic for you to see!  Love it!

One last picture of this beautiful cathedral.  I never did get it to entirely fit within one of my photos!

This was inside a different cathedral, but I really enjoyed the interior, particularly because of Noah's reaction.  He was enthralled with the idea that people are actually buried inside of cathedrals!   I have another photo of him where he's just sitting in the front pew contemplating.

 This was yet another cathedral.  I particularly loved the mosaic on the column.  I believe this was St. Sebald's Church in Nuremberg.  They had brought live, cut trees into the building and propped them up all up and down the sanctuary - it really was a sight to behold! There were also floral arrangements festooned everywhere.  This is one of the traditions they observe for a particular festival.  We asked a number of people what the festival was about, but nobody really knew, even though trees had been cut and tied up to decorate buildings in many of the public places.  Hmmm...

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Monet Quotes

I LOVE Monet!  His colors are gorgeous!  His painting, 'Impression Sunrise,' was how the Impressionists got their name.  An art critic condescendingly referred to this group of rebel artists as Impressionists, pulling that word from the title of Monet's painting. The name stuck!

Claude Monet said these two things:

"Color is my day long obsession, joy and torment."
I know that to paint the sea really well, you need to look at it every hour of every day in the same place so that you can understand its way in that particular spot; and that is why I am working on the same motifs over and over again, four or six times even."

Four or six times!  Monet did the Rouen Cathedral thirty times!  Much more than four or six, Claude!  And I am glad you did! 

These are two examples of the Rouen Cathedral.  Monet actually rented rooms across from it so he could paint it over and over again.  It took him two years to do this series.

Below you'll find one of Monet's haystacks.  He was primarily concerned with capturing the light at any given moment and painted furiously with this goal.  There are 25 haystacks, again, all done at different times of the day, differing atmospheric conditions, etc.  These he began during harvest time, and his painting on the stacks continued through the winter and into spring.

By the way, I got these images from  You'll find some really nice art reproductions there.

One of many haystacks painted by Monet

Friday, October 15, 2010

I'm Featured on the National CYT Blog!

Christian Youth Theater, CYT, is the largest youth theater in the country, with companies all over the United States.

Today they featured me and one of my classes! Check it out on their blog. I'm featured today, October 15, and they'll run another story once we're done with our sets.

Check out ... if you live in the Houston area - and come on out and see the big show!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Robert Henri Quotes and Comments

I love to read! And I don't mean a Kindle. I NEED books! Books that feel right when I turn the pages. Big books with big, colorful illustrations. Books whose textured pages smell good. Glossy magazines. Books I can dog-ear, write in, highlight, underline and draw in. Books with encyclopedic information. Books with almost no text at all. Books I can drop in a tub ('Rats! Did it again!) No, you'll not find a Kindle in my hand.

Anyway, the following quotes are by Robert Henri, 1865-1929. I gleaned them from two books, The Art Spirit, by Robert Henri, and Artist to Artist, Inspiration and Advice from Artists Past and Present, compiled by Clint Brown, both books are very encouraging books to me.

“Art is simply a question of doing things, anything, well… when the artist is alive in any person, whatever his kind of work may be, he becomes an inventive, searching, daring, self-expressive creature… He finds gain in the work itself, not outside of it.”

“You can’t know too much about composition. That is; the areas you have to fill, their possibilities, but you must, above all, preserve your intense interest in life. You must have the will to say a very definite thing. Then, the more you know your means the better. Great works of art should look as though they were made in joy. Real joy is a tremendous activity, dull drudgery is nothing to it.”

“Your education must be self-education. Self-education is an effort to free one’s course so that a full growth may be attained. One need not be afraid of what this full growth may become. Give your throat a chance to sing its song. All the knowledge in the world to which you have access is yours to use. Give yourself plenty of canvas room, plenty of paint room. Don’t worry about your originality, set yourself just as free as you can and your originality will take care of you. It will be as much a surprise to you as to anyone else.”

I like that one. As an art teacher, I tell my kids that it’s my job to stuff them with facts, knowledge and skills. In doing so, I’m freeing them and giving them the tools to be the creative, thinking people that they’re meant to be. I recently met a quite talented but untrained artist. I could see she could be very good, but her work was unimaginative and uninspiring. She said she didn’t want to take art classes because she didn’t want to be told what to do or be stifled. Little did she know that she had stifled herself and denied herself the very thing that would give her art the freedom to soar! I felt sorry for her.

Next quote:

“Those who have lived and grown at least to some degree in the spirit of freedom are our creative artists. They have a wonderful time. They keep the world going. They must leave their trace in some way, paint, stone, machinery, whatever. The importance of what they do is greater than anyone estimates at the time.”

Amen, Robert! And I also believe that artists really do enjoy life more than others – our senses are opened wider and we receive much more.

“When the artist is alive in any person, whatever his kind of work may be, he becomes an inventive, searching, daring, self-expressive creature. He becomes interesting to other people. He disturbs, upsets, enlightens, and opens ways for a better understanding. Where those who are not artists are trying to close the book, he opens it and shows there are still more pages possible.”

“Artists must be men of wit, consciously or unconsciously philosophers, read, study, think a great deal of life, be filled with the desire to declare and specify their particular and most personal interest in its manifestations, and must invent.”

“Do not require of your work the finish that anyone may demand of you, but insist on the finish which you demand.”

I’m guessing most serious artists don’t need to hear that one. I’m very hard on myself and my work.

“There are pictures that manifest education and there are pictures that manifest love.”

‘I like your work and have only to ask you to go on your own interesting way with all the courage you can muster.’

I like it! I’m sending my students off at the end of the year with that quote!

“It’s the wrong idea that a master is a finished person. Masters are very faulty, they haven’t learned everything and they know it. Finished persons are very common – people who are closed up, quite satisfied that there is little or nothing more to learn…I have met masters now and again, some in studios… running a boat, playing a game, selling things. Masters of such as they had. They are wonderful people to meet… they do not say ‘I am only a carpenter or a gardener, therefore not much can be expected from me.’ They say or they seem to say, ‘I am a Carpenter!’ ‘I am a Gardener!’ These are masters, what more could anyone be!”

Well, this unfinished person is going to bed. If there are any other unfinished persons out there, let me know what you think. Good night!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Two New Paintings!

I LOVE color, and am continually exploring it! I did this with liquid acrylics and inks on an 8x10 board. Many layers have been built up because I enjoy seeing depth in my paintings. When you see them in person, it actually looks like some colors are floating on top of others, and other colors recede. In this particular one, the parts that are glowing orange are actually gold pigment.

My favorite medium is liquid inks and liquid acrylics on YUPO. I also add a powdered gold pigment to a lot of my paintings. YUPO is a completely polyurethane 'paper' which has a, well, polyurethane or plastic-y (good word) feel. What this means is that it is absolutely non-absorbent and the only way for the inks to dry is for the liquid to evaporate. This makes it a difficult medium because you're at the mercy of the paint's movement while it's drying. On the other hand, your mixing-abilities and on-surface freedom are just crazy! It's also heavy and virtually indestructable, which means I can add many layers to get the effect I want. Many of my paintings have a number of layers, probably averaging between four and six. The downside here is that it has to be absolutely dry before the next layer is added, and you can only make one brushstroke in any give place, or you will lift the previous layers right up!

For the leaf, I used a nice board, I think Mona Lisa brand, but I'd have to check on that to make sure. It's small - 8x10. The boards also afford some layering and are really nice because you can hang them without bothering with framing. I give each one of my paintings two layers of archival UV spray varnish, and then I brush on an archival UV gloss varnish. These varnishes preserve the pigments from damaging UV rays by scattering them as they hit the painting. I brush on the liquid varnish in different directions to help with that; believe it or not, it makes a difference.

The ocean painting is on YUPO, and is 11x14. I use this size almost exclusively because it's a really perfect size once you mat and frame it. My ocean paintings individually take a lot less time to paint than others because I have to get them down quickly to capture the moment. However, I usually have to paint five or six of them to get one I LIKE! Nothing like a perfectionistic artist - sheesh!  My ocean paintings are layers of blues, violets, greens with iridescent greens and some pearlescent whites.

Let me know what you think of my paintings!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Earth's Crammed with Heaven

Here's a quote by Elizabeth Barrett Browning that I love:

Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
But only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.

I believe this. Our God is in everything He made. All we have to do is open our eyes and become aware to see it. All of creation praises Him - so must we! I popped two pics of a painting I did of, well, not blackberries, but blueberries (like 'em better.)  Let me know what you think.

This is the blueberry painting I did and referred to in the above-noted posting, 'Earth's Crammed with Heaven.' There are a few reflections in the photo, a testament to the fact that I am an artist, not a photographer! I'm betting you can find the reflection of my home and outdoor table in it somewhere! This is a watercolor. I also used wax pencils in spots to add texture and interest.
Blueberries. This is where I have my painting hung - in my 'green corner.' Note the stained glass light - I culled it from a garage sale for a buck. It's actually a lampshade, but I turned it upside down, stuck a nightlight in it, and... voila! 24/7 ambience!  This little corner cheers me every time I walk past.


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Hot New Show - Music Man!

We're busy working on the sets for our upcoming show, Music Man! It's going to be an awesome show, and if you live in the Houston area, you DO NOT WANT TO MISS IT! Shows will be November 5,6 and 7, and November 13 and 14. For ticket information, check out

Here are some pictures of me and my students working on the sets. We're currently working on the bookshelves for the library scene. Already, the bookshelves have four layers on them, a base layer, and two brushed on textured layers to make them look like wooden shelves, and then the dark 'shelves' background color, which will peek between the books-to-come.

Tonight I taught my students how to use a chalk line, which they loved. I think they would have enjoyed thwacking out nice, straight blue lines all night long. After that came the tape so we could have beautiful, straight shelves. It was entertaining watching a bunch of young artists figuring the math measurements. They got it, though, and did very well. Yes, even artists have to do a lot of MATH! I learned the importance of that many years ago when I made a stained glass window that was too big for the window! Turned out well, though, because we had a deep, backlit frame built for it, and have been able to bring it with us wherever we move! Even now, it imparts a cheery glow over our bed. :) I think that's the only math mistake I've ever made that turned out well!

Here you can see that we're finally adding books. I had each student choose his or her own color, and paint books on all the various shelves. The next step will be for each one to write down his chosen book titles on the books. Then I'll do some final touches of highlights and lowlights for shadows and light.

We've got two colors of benches going - one set for the gymnasium, which are presently yellow and will have a light layer of teal ragged on. I'm going to have them do it with a few plastic Walmart bags. The drop that we have for the gym is yellow with turquoise highlights, so they'll go well. The darker benches will be antiqued, likely with black.

I have my students take inventory of all the paints we have at the beginning of each session. They're categorized and shelved according to color, and I give them some lessons on color. Every now and then one of the paint cans has gone bad. EVERYONE knows when one of these is opened because the smell is HORRENDOUS, and it's quickly disposed of! One of the things I show the kids is to use an awl and hammer out about ten holes on the inside rim of each paint can. This way, the paint drains down through the holes instead of clogging the opening, which sometimes eternally seals the paint inside! Try it, you'll like it! All in all, we've been having a lot of fun and at the same time have been getting a lot of work done. The sets are going to look great!