Thursday, October 31, 2013

Les Miserables

It's been some time since I've posted because I'm involved in two very big things right now:
1.  I'm illustrating a book 
2.  I'm in the orchestra of Les Miserables, our upcoming theatre show playing this weekend and the next

This is how I explain my feelings about the show to others, because people have pretty strong feelings about the storyline, both good and bad.  I'm spending an exorbitant amount of time on this collaborative project because its themes hit to the core of my belief system.

There are many people that do not like this production, and many that wouldn't read the book or see the movie.  The reasons are various, but generally fall into the category of the fact that there are subjects addressed that they don't want to think about, i.e., prostitution, revolution and neglect, among other things.

What people don't think about when considering this story is the fact that these elements are balanced out by hope, love, redemption and forgiveness.  In the same way as I'm teaching you the elements of art (space, form, value, proportions, etc.,) there are many balancing elements in this story that together teach us some really serious lessons.

It is my personal belief that as an artist, I find that it's important to show the bad as well as the good.  To admit that there is sin in this world as well as the Hope (Jesus) that we have to overcome it.  If we present only happy la-la land, people are going to look at our art and reject it because they won't be able to relate.  They'll tell themselves, 'Oh, that's not MY life... my life is a mess!'  And then they'll go on their own way without being affected or challenged.  If we paint pictures of ideal cottages with light glowing from each window, positioned by babbling brooks and surrounded by flowers - everything in perfection - they're not able to relate. Personally, I don't know about that life, because my fence is about ready to fall down.

Great stories touch us because they teach us about our lives.  Come and see Les Miserables.  It will challenge you to be a better person. It will also give you a great jumping-off spot for some likely needed family conversation.  And when you do see it, come on down to the orchestra pit and say hello to this flute.  I'm spending four to five hours a night down there because I believe in this.

Tickets at

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Routine of Illustrating a Book

Falling into a routine for each picture in the book:

Read the text and notes about illustrations
Email author with questions/comments
Sketch possibilities.  Anything goes, even bad ideas and sketches
Author/artist dialog continues
Narrow down to one drawing
Pose family members in correct positions and photograph (live models at the ready! :)
Do a nicer sketch and send to author
Discussion/comments/ideas from both of us, confirmation that I'm on the right track
Final drawing
Send final to author before coloring it
Paint final.

Repeat.  and repeat.  and repeat.

At this point, I'm close to half way done.  Getting there!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Work on Book Continuing and Back to School!

Well, you're still not hearing much from me because I'm continuing on the book illustrations.  I'm sorry to keep you waiting, but I'll begin to put them out when I can.

I'm also gearing up for school and will be holding six art classes this year.  Daily I'm adding to the student list and preparing for classes.  Thank you, Lord!  I believe one of my gifts is teaching kids, and You continually heap them upon me!  It's going to be a great year.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Private Art Students

Here's a picture of my darling private art students.  Oh, goodness.  Today was my last lesson with them and now they're leaving for another country. 

Gonna miss you guys. :(  You're going to be a lot older when I see you next.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Guess What This Is!

Take a close look and tell me what this is.  Scroll down to the bottom and I'll tell you. :)  No peeking until you guess!

Bubbles!  Their surface tension is reflecting all those colors.  Wow!  What an amazing world we live in.  What an amazing God we serve.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Illustrating a Book

I've been commissioned to illustrate a book!  I'm not at liberty to give any details about it, but my life has fallen into a pattern these days.  Another artist was hired for this project but dropped the ball by not coming through with art, so I've got a serious deadline.  THREE MORE WEEKS!  I've been at it for two weeks already.

So, here's my daily routine.  I've set a goal for myself at one painting a day in order to get this done.

- Read the text
- Do quick thumbnail sketches of ideas for the page
- Pose family members and take photos of us in the correct positions
- Send to the printer and print those puppies out
- Find inspiration for the entire scene
- Lay out my discoveries and do more detailed sketches
- A couple sketches of whomever I shot
- Final pencil on watercolor paper, transforming my real people into cartoon, jewel people
- Ink in the pencil with technical pen
- Paint

This includes sending ideas/sketches and final pencil to the author, and a lot of discussion between the two of us.

Trust me.  The painting part is easy.

This particular picture is a FAST sketch of one of the legs of one of my characters.  Sorry, that's all you get right now.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

My Prizewinning Painting! (Professional Under Glass)

This weekend was the Lone Star Art Guild Convention at the Marriott Hotel here in The Woodlands.  I was really glad it was here, because artists in this league hail from all over Houston and its surrounding areas, many having to drive 100 or more miles to get here.  I know one of the leagues came from Victoria.

We also held a judged show, with over 700 entries which had already won prizes in their individual league shows.  You could not enter a painting that had not already ribboned.

ANYWAY, here I am with my prizewinner!  This was in the Professional Under Glass division.  Yay!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Big Commission

Well, I just got a big commission and am going to eat, sleep and drink it for three weeks.  Due August 9, I'll be busy right up to that time.  So... I hope you don't miss me too much!  Right now, I'm not at liberty to say anything about it, but you'll hear in due time. :)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Our Painted Fence!

Well, it had to happen!  I couldn't resist the pull of all that blank wooden space, just calling to me to fill it.  It's a nice compliment to whatever happens to be blooming at the time, and makes me happy when I'm out there.
The white circle on the far left is an old paintball target. :)

Monday, June 24, 2013

My Toad, Mr. Lisa't resist making a quick sketch of this fine fellow in our yard.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Metal Embossing Class at Gallery

 This was a small class I taught at the gallery doing metal embossing.  Because there were only four of us, we got a lot done and really enjoyed ourselves.  Here are two working at the table.

 I really like the metal piece Nichole, above did.  She created a little anchor.  I never did get photos, but we painted boxes outside to match the metal pieces which would be later glued to them.  She had a box that she painted in all these colors which had previously housed a new I-phone.  GREAT boxes - I use them as well!

After we embossed metal to mount on our boxes, we did bigger metal pieces to mount on canvas boards, which we also painted to match.  Nichole ended up with a beautiful face of a woman, hair flowing.  Here she is doing the initial drawing.

Alex was proud of her background frame, for good reason.  She really got into her work. :)

This photo shows her with her garden path, which she planned to mount on the frame below.

This girl could have painted all day!
Lots of fun.  They learned a lot and we had some really nice pieces to show for our work.

My Student Wins Art Contest

One of my art students won the contest at Dr. Mardaga's Orthodontics!  They had to come up with a slogan and a character.  Here she is with her winning entry!

Mary Kate won four tickets to Schlitterbahn and gets her artwork in the newspaper for Dr. Mardaga's new advertisement!  YAY!!!!  Way to go, Mary Kate!!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Teaching Art at Scout Camp

Today was a pretty fun day; I was asked to teach art out at Camp Strake, the Boy Scout camp ten miles from here.  They're selling the property so it was nice to be able to go out and say goodbye, plus all the kids were just so darling and fun.  I'll be out there tomorrow as well. :)

Roses for Karen painting Sold!

My previous post was a picture I really had fun painting.  It took only several hours to sell it. :)  It's a good day.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Portrait of a Friend

I was inspired by a friend's photo of herself up to her eyeballs in roses and just had to paint her.  Here she is!Photo: I was inspired by a friend's photo of herself up to her nose in roses and had to paint!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Unusual Find

I found this downtown yesterday on Westheimer in a nursery that sells a lot of statuary and does weddings.  They screw these up to add interest to walls or hang them on panels illuminated from behind.  Have big plans for it and some paintings. :)

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Urban Art Show Piece

We're having an 'Urban Art' show soon and I was casting around for what I've got that looks urban.  Put this one together this weekend, and I'm calling it 'My Town,' it being Houston.

Pulling out this flowing background, I turned it to make the colors look like they were rising from the city.  The second step was to go outside and pull out the spray cans.  As I had a hot background, I spurted on some blue paint to tone down a couple places, and also lead the eye up into the sky from the city.

I've been leading some of my classes through mixed media, lately, and pulled together an assortment of things for this piece, lots of colors from a Houston magazine, paper from the Chronicle, a clothing tag, film, pictures and words from theatre and ballet shows downtown, some Picasso advertisements, as they're showing his black and white works right now.  Music is really important to me, so I added some sheet music from a show I played.  I also collaged some fairly thick, dried acrylic paint to it for texture.

Once I had added all this, it was one BRIGHT painting!  Once again, I traipsed outside, and pulled out the black and blue spray cans.  All that required were a few well-aimed shots.  My goal was to tone it down a bit around the bottom and right side to lead the eyes over to the spots that I left brighter.  At that point, all I had to do was dig around for the leaky spray can and carefully spray a few dribbling blobs into particular places.  I just like these for the fast, graffiti feel.

Altogether pleased.  Now, all I have to do is give it one more coat of varnish and I'm ready for the Urban show!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Habitat for Humanity, Artist Auction Bid Board

Here I am in front of the bid board, once the auction was over.  It was a little tense for the artists, and I'm sure everyone, during the bidding.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

My TARDIS Auctioned Off! I am with the happy couple that bought my door.  They won the auction bids for it and ended up paying $1,100.00.  They were so thrilled to meet me, it was fun talking with them.  They'd been texting pics of it home to their daughter, since she's a huge Dr. Who fan.  In their texts, they never mentioned that they were actually going to bid on the door, or that they won the bid themselves.  They decided they were going to surprise her!

All twelve artists' doors were moved all around Montgomery County.  One of the sponsors told me they were carrying mine in to a store, and someone screamed 'There's the TARDIS!!'  She said they about dropped the door.  Ha, ha.  Anyway, it was a wonderful gala, a fun filled (and a little tense during the bidding) evening that we all enjoyed.  Our gallery raised a lot of money for Habitat for Humanity that very special evening.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Demo Artist at Waterway Arts Festival is a shot of me at the Waterway Arts Festival.  I gave demos on working with metal embossing.  Here's an unfinished mixed media piece I worked on while there.  Those stupid blow up dancing guys continue on...

First Prize Professional Category
A friend just sent this shot of me and my prize winning fish.  I blue-ribboned in the professional water media category.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Walking in Two Worlds

I wrote this poem out of deep longing for friends unreachable.   Tonight I had a good friend translate it into Spanish for me.  Thank you, Marlon!

Walking in Two Worlds
April 24, 2011

I’m walking in two worlds.
As I walk in my world,
I see you
Walking in yours.
Each day we walk
In two worlds,
Yet…in one.

We’re praying in two worlds.
As I pray for you in my world,
I feel you
Praying for me in yours.
Each day we pray
In two worlds,
Yet…in one.

We hope together in two worlds.
Although far apart,
We hope together in Christ.
Knowing that someday
Through Him,
Our two worlds will be One.

Caminando en Dos Mundos
24 de abril 2011

Estoy caminando en dos mundos.
Mientras camino en mi mundo,
Te veo
Caminar en el tuyo.
Cada día caminamos
En dos mundos,
Sin embargo... en uno.

Estamos orando en dos mundos.
Al orar por ti en mi mundo,
Te siento
Orando por mí en el tuyo.
Cada día oramos
En dos mundos,
Sin embargo... en uno.

Esperamos juntos en dos mundos.
Aunque lejos,
Esperamos en Cristo.
Sabiendo que algún día
A través de él,
Nuestros dos mundos serán uno.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Kaleidoscope Remembered

I had actually forgotten about this picture - a man walked into the gallery, walked straight toward it and took it off the wall without hesitation.  I don't think the price was too much of a concern to him - he knew what he wanted!  This one's pretty big.

I've got a fairly bad photo going on here - hey - can't be good at everything! You can see some reflections going on.  Sorry!
This shows a little detail of what's going on all over in the larger painting.  I like to work to get the colours all flowing one into another - it gives a seriously interesting texture and depth that draws the eye in and holds it.

Here's another little cutaway.  Generally when I do paintings like this I use different kinds of inks and paints - solid, opaque colours, inks that are fairly translucent, transparent colors which you can see right through, iridescents and metallics.  Some seem to recede and some come up to the front, giving the painting an unusual feeling of depth.  Photos really can't show that - you have to see it in person!

Woodlands Waterway Arts Festival

This is a pic from the Waterway Arts Festival today.  A lot of work and a lot of fun.  I had to go and fill up ye ol' water buckets for my demo, and as we had our theatre company, CYT, there performing, a lot of the students came over to see me throughout the day.

As for my part, I did demonstrations on all stages of metal embossing.  It kept me so busy that I had to turn my back and walk away now and then to little unimportant things like get a drink!  Fun, extremely busy day.

Altered Book, Student's Work

This is one of my student's pieces that she did in her altered book.  In the beginning of the year, I had them make altered books, and we've spent the rest of the year filling them.

Particularly, I had them gesso some pages and leave partial words peeking through; I think that this adds mystery and whimsey and just enhances the overall look of the work.  Further, we've learned that 'mistakes' in watercolors are really 'happenings,' and you need to go with the flow and let the happy accidents guide you.

Here it looks like the gesso repelled the paint in some places, which I really like.  It gives a really nice, unexpected effect.  Nice work, my young friend.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Stupid Dancing Blow Up Guys, Part 2

I'm actually working backwards on this one - and of course, there's a story behind this.

We finished school on a particular day and Noah and I decided upon one of our favorite haunts - Panera Bread.  Driving up, we parked.  As the car got still, we kind of sank into our seats in the quietness and took a breath.

Sitting there, we looked to the other side of the parking lot where one of those stupid blow up guys was flinging himself around.  Not only that, they'd put him too close to the building, so he was continually throwing himself against the bricks and coming up with all kinds of crazy contortions. 

Noah suggested that we go in, get our lunch (ciabatta with tomato and mozzarella for me, a grilled turkey and cheese for Noah, with caramel frappacinos, no whip, for the both of us. :)

I load stories on my phone, and we are currently listening to the entire Sherlock Holmes library, so
that sounded like a pretty prospect!

So... we got our lunch, came out and had a nice lunch con Sherlock Holmes while watching the stupid blow up guy toss himself about!  It was a very pleasant lunch!

The first half page of pictures above is the first one I did to accompany my digestion.  Just couldn't resist, and as I always carry a small sketchpad and a plethora of drawing paraphernalia, I was ready!
 The first three guys were totally fun to draw, so I flipped and started a new page.  Then I flipped and did another!  Couldn't stop!

I've always thought of these guys as totally dumb but something struck me that day and I enjoyed my little sketching time. 

After that, I showed these pages to a number of people (stupid blow up guys do often come up in casual conversation, you know!)  Each time, we all got a good laugh and I came to enjoy these guys as my friends.

Took a week or two before I had to do a full painting of them.  And that's what you'll find below!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Prize Winning Fish; Blue Ribbon

 Since I won the blue ribbon in the judged show for the professional category of water media, I wanted to give you a glimpse of the prize winning fish.

Here's an early stage.  By the way, the piece is approximately 24x30".  I painted the fish in with Friskit, to save the whites.

Once the Friskit was laid down, I began to paint in washes of color.  I've got at least four layers of washes of different cool and iridescent colors here.  You can barely see the fish emerging.  Scary!

 You can see here where the Frisket has been peeled away.  This is a gummy medium that repels liquids, not unlike rubber cement.

If you look closely, you can see white dots all over the paper; I did that with Friskit as well as I wanted to have the 'hot spots' all over the painting.

Here's a closer look at the pike.  You can see right through him to the water behind; I wanted to do a couple things here - keep the viewers' eyes on the painting while they're trying to figure out how it is you can see through the fish, create areas of interest with the continuing pattern of complimentary colors, and help set the fish firmly in his space.

 Once I got all the Friskit off, I began to paint the fish itself.  This was a time-consuming process, as you can see by the little detail of the tail.  It was a delight, though, because I really love the way the colors compliment each other.  I tell my students that complimentary (opposite) colors do just that.  They sit on one side saying, 'hey, baby, you're looking good tonight!' and 'Wow - you're making ME look good, too!'

So, even though time consuming, I enjoyed it because I loved watching the colors react with and against each other.

You can see a pinky color on the right side here - that's a very pearlescent pink that set off some nice reflections.

 This is a horrible photograph of the colors, but it's close up enough to give you an idea of the illusory depth of the water.

 Okay, ridiculous, but I can't get this photograph to turn around the right way.  I give up!  Turn your head, please!

You may note the numbers over on the, well, bottom.  I used these as a rough guide initially, knowing that the Northern Pike's head is roughly 1/4 of its body length.  And when you take one of these babies off the hook, believe me, you know that!  That 1/4 is packed with very sharp teeth!

After some consideration, I decided I liked the numbers there, and painted 'em in.

Here's a close up shot of part of the fish.  As you can see, the watery background is right there!   A lot of rhythm in the fish as well, to keep viewers' eyes moving throughout.

Because this one ribboned, it'll be going to the next judged show coming up soon.  I'll keep you posted!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Blue Ribbon Winner - My Pike!

 Today we had a judged show into which I entered my Northern Pike.  I won first place in the professional water media category!  Yay!

These are liquid acrylics on YUPO.  I masked out the fish and painted the background with probably four layers of cool colors.

Once satisfied with the background, I removed the masking (some type of friskit, I forget which one,) and switched to my small brushes.

My fish itself is comprised of pretty hot colors: oranges, reds, quite a lot

of pearlescents.  I left the cool colors on the fish itself to both make the viewer wonder that 1) you could see through the fish, and 2) feel that it's a part of its surroundings.

The last step was to spatter with come bright metallic green - this also helped connect the overall painting because I had a lot of that going on in the background as well.

I'm glad they liked it!  I do.  It will hang now with the other winners, and then all prize winners will be automatically entered into the next, bigger judged show, which is coming up in a couple months.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Stupid Blow Up Dancing Guys

Not long ago my son and I went to Panera Bread to eat.  As I load stories onto my phone, we were listening to Sherlock Holmes.  He suggested we run in and get our food and come out, sit in the car and listen.

Sounded like a good idea.  We ended up with the added bonus and great good fortune of being able to watch one of those stupid blow up dancing guys in front of a business as we ate.  We enjoyed the good fortune of it being set up too closely to the building, so the poor thing was throwing himself against the bricks.

Made for good entertainment!  When I was done with my sandwich, I began to sketch.  (More later, I have six minutes to get ready to leave...)  I'll finish the story about 10:00 p.m......)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Step 17, Final Step - A Close Look at the Big Painting

 I took some close up shots of particular spots in the painting so you could see how I put it together.

For this painting I used a big, flat two inch brush, because I wanted it to have a brushy, abstract look.  It took some discipline for me on that part because I love my brushes.

These shots will give you some clues as to how the paint was laid down.

In some places I really spread the paint, especially on the lower layers, and in some spots I laid the paint down really heavily.  In places I splattered dots and line, going back in places to cover the colors, and to have only the raised texture showing.

Complimentary upon complimentary.

With the clouds, I used a lot of acrylic gel medium to spread the paint out and slow the drying time a bit.  I like the layers of color showing through one another, and enjoy the breezy feeling in the clouds.

This was somewhere in one of the trees.  Once again, they asked for something that was somewhat abstract.  The closer you look, the more abstract it becomes.
Close to the sun, I've got the light glinting through the leaves.  To do this, I mixed the complimentaries, violet and yellow, to get a nice neutral color.  My goal was to make it look as if the sun was showing through the leaves.

I think that might be the only spot in the entire painting where I did this; I agree with Matisse - he said he couldn't understand why artist mixed and muddied their colors, preferring the bright bold ones.  Generally, I just lay them down, side by side. But in some cases, mixing for neutrals is just the right touch.
This is actually one of my favorite spots in the painting, but one of my least favorite photos - the colors fairly shout and dance with each other.  However, it was impossible to get a true photo. 

Oh, well.  Got to see it in person.
There's nothing shy about this tree.  Opposite colors shout at each other.  I tell my students that complimentary colors are called that for a reason.  They sit next to each other and say, 'hey, good looking, you're looking pretty fine today,' or ' - do you look good sitting next to me!'

Throughout the painting, I used a lot of acrylic gel medium.  It allows you to see through layers of paint to the colors below them.

There is no black in this painting, although I went for some serious darks.  I used indigo, which is a deep, deep blue/violet.  It came across as black.

These colors came out pretty boldly, too - I went for colors close to each other on the color wheel - yellow, yellow-green, green, then blues to violets.  The reds in the background pop out because they're complimentary.

Sooo. painting done.  Now all we have to do is transport the panels and get them hung.  I have a feeling that that in itself is going to be no small job!