Wednesday, April 17, 2019

30 minute sketches- a good habit

I am so saddened by the fire of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. I decided to do a quick 30 minute sketch of the building. We were there in 2013 and I worked from my photo. Perspective is not one of my strong suits and in doing this, I learned that I need lots more practice. That’s how we learn and that’s how we get better. One habit that I have achieved is doing a 30 minute sketch every day. You might ask “why only 30 minutes”?  It keeps me from getting too detailed and eliminates the excuse that I don’t have time that day. This habit has been the best thing that I do to grow as an artist. I have told many students about this and a few of them have joined me.  We have a private Facebook page and we post every day. Many of them are on Day 300 by now. I’m so proud of them. And I have seen such growth in their artwork. So, now...I challenge you! I really hope you will try this even for a week. You won’t regret it.

My challenge to myself is to work on more buildings where I can improve my perspective skills. I am starting to enjoy painting Plein air and this will come in handy. I shouldn’t be afraid to work with perspective. I’m excited to grow!  Below is my photo reference.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Plein Air Painting- A Challenge and a Privilege!

"Beach Fun"  Image: 11" x 15"
Watercolor  $150

I painted with the Peace River Painters yesterday.  I'm enjoying plein air painting (painting outdoors) so much!  What a glorious way to enjoy the warmth of the sunshine and remember the day.  When I look back at my plein air paintings, I always remember the day's events, the sounds around me, and the smells in the air.  Every detail of that day comes back to me!  We were at Blind Pass Beach in Englewood, FL. When I arrived at 9:00 a.m., there were only a few beach people,  but it didn't take long for the beach to become packed!  Quite a change from the time I started to sketch.  One thing that I learned long ago, is to take a photo from my painting view point right away, because things will change.  It's a little like watching an ant farm when I sat there, painting the people at the beach.  Constant movement.  What I'm most excited about, is that my own style is coming out when I paint outdoors.  I used to paint traditionally, but now I start with a paper with an abstract design on it and work the scene into that!  

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Being Prepared- the secret to success!

"Stepping into the Light",    Image 15" x 22"
acrylic on paper.    $1200 framed
I'm the last one to preach about being organized and prepared, but as I continue my journey as a professional artist, I find that my most successful times always are when I'm prepared.  Today, I printed out a calendar of the upcoming months and marked the deadlines of upcoming shows, because I missed a couple of important show that I had wanted to enter!  UGH!!!  So, I keep trying to be more organized.
Today, Dick and I went down to Carney's, an Irish Pub in downtown Venice to properly celebrate St. Patrick's Day.  I told him that I thought we should be early so that we could get a good table and listen to Irish music while having a Reuben and a green margarita.  Good plan, right? Well.....there was a car show in the main parking lot, so we had to park many blocks away.  Then we arrived at 11:10, and they said to eat inside, we would need to pay a $10 per person cover charge.  I thought, no problem, it's worth it.  Got sat down and asked the waiter when the music would start and it was at 2:00!  So, we enjoyed our lunch, without live music, like I'd hoped, and then left knowing we had just paid an extra $20 for nothing!  So, going forward, we will call ahead and find out all the details!  On a good note, we now have 2 plastic green top hats and some green beads for our grandkids to play with.  :)
The painting above was well thought out.  I did 2 different value sketches and worked out the problems on those.  Below is the one that I decided to go with.  These types of paintings develop stories as they go along.  This one is about the challenges in life.  If you are having one of those challenges, get help, but most importantly, do it for YOURSELF.  Until you realize that you matter, no amount of friends or family will make the difference.  You matter and you are loved!

Saturday, February 16, 2019


"Ringling Museum View"     11" x 15" image
watercolor and marker
Painting Plein Air is not an easy task.  But now that we winter in Florida, I have embraced it and absolutely LOVE painting on location.  I didn't say that my painting were successful, but I really enjoy everything about this.  The sounds, the smells, really "seeing" the scene, and growing as an artist in the process.  I'm still trying to find "me" in this process.  By that, I consider myself a semi-abstract artist, and I like that people can recognize that it is mine without looking at the signature.  I painted this alongside longtime friend, Pat Undis and her friends, Susan McLean and Michele Combs, all of which are very experienced Plein air painters.  It was a really fun day, but when Michele said to me, "I can't wait to see what you come up with looking at this view," I thought to myself, "She's right.  I should be painting just like I do in the studio, putting my abstract spin on these Plein air paintings."  So, I immediately stroked a bright red in the tree area, just to make it a little out of my comfort zone.  Then I drew a fast contour drawing of the scene and started layering to build up my values.  I'm pretty pleased that it looks like the scene, but I'm NOT pleased that it still doesn't have my "Knutson flare" on it.  So, I will keep going out, about 2 times per week, painting on location and trying to find the real "ME" of Plein aire painting.  I'd love to hear discussion of your early ventures with Plein air painting in the comments below.  Happy Painting!

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Tricks to break through a painter's block

Wire drawing (7" x 10"). "The Hikers"
This is the sketch that I used for a reference for a pure watercolor painting.   I hadn't done a pure watercolor for a year, so it didn't surprise me when I failed at the first attempt.  I'm starting to really love acrylics, but the deadline for the Transparent Watercolor Society show is coming up, and since I'm a lifetime member, it doesn't cost me anything to try to be juried in each year.  I do have my signature membership, but it's still such a great challenge to try to get in!  So, here I am, trying to remember how I used to get such glowing colors.  Here's what I did to get out of my slump.
  1. Go back to what you know.  Do whatever you used to do that was so easy and foolproof.  For me, it is little abbeys.  You can look back at earlier blogs to see them.  Just put a search in for Little Abbeys. I love them because they remind me of the way that I should be painting all of my paintings.  Starting at your center of interest with bright colors, working towards the edges.  Saving your whites for sparkle.  Weaving a unifying color from the center of interest towards the edges.  Lastly, staging your center of interest with a darkest dark and then changing to a less dark color as you approach the edges.  Keep the edges simple and keep the whitest white near the center of interest.  Those are my rules for Little Abbeys (small abstract collages). (Look back to June 13, 2015 for directions for little abbeys.)
  2. Use limited colors
  3. Use limited shapes
  4. Think cool or warm as the dominant washes and then add pops of the opposite color later within the light pathway.
  5. Trust your value sketch and keep the light pathway connected.
I'm not going to post my failure, but below are my 2 small paintings that I did AFTER I went through the above rules. Now, I think I'm ready to do the big quarter sheet painting next.  These 2 paintings are 7" x 10".

Too many small shapes, but interesting colors
Good design but I miss the bright colors. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

5 Minute Landscapes

"Golden Sunset"   5" x 7" image.
Matted:  8" x 10"   $45
Every now and then, it's just fun to do really quick paintings.  These little gems will test your skills at timing in watercolor.  I start with a 5" x 7" watercolor paper.  Then I wet both sides of the paper several times, so it is very wet.  Then lightly sponge off the right side and begin.   Using a bright color (red/orange), I paint the sky and the water, leaving a big white shape.  Then I pick it's complementary color and smear that into the first color to create a grey color and then have the complementary color (green) on the upper left and lower left corners.  Switching to a 1/2 " flat brush, I double load the two complementary colors in a dry brush mixture to make the tree masses.  I do NOT mix the color on the palette or it would be too wet.  Pull down the colors to create the reflections.  Use a thirsty brush to wipe out the water line.  Then wipe out a ripple in the water.  You can put more detail on the trees, using a small round brush that is double loaded with the 2 colors.  That's how I was able to get the points on the top of the trees.  You do all this is only 5 minutes!  It's fun to do color studies using this process.  Odd colors are usually my favorites.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Always Be Yourself!

"Yacht Club"
original acrylic on paper
Image:  14 x 21"
Do you catch yourself saying something negative about your artwork over and over?  The same statement?  I used to say that I didn't like making so many itty bitty shapes.  Virginia Cobb straightened me out in a workshop when I told her that.  She asked me if I liked making little tiny shapes, and I said that I must, because they keep showing up.  She said to honor that unique quality of my work and then just unify them with a glaze to make fewer "grouped" shapes when I was done. I LOVE that advice.  So, now when I teach a workshop, I tell everyone that the very thing that they think might be their worst thing about their artwork, actually is the very thing that they should keep!  We all need to be ourselves!
This painting, "Yacht Club" is part of a local show called Bonnie and Friends.  Bonnie Featherstone asked about 30 artists, from the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, to bring 2 paintings each.  It's at the Ames Center in Burnsville, MN for the month of December, if you get the chance to see it.  I'm so honored to be a part of such a grand show.  You won't believe all the different styles.  I was talking with one of the artists and he said that he wishes he could be a little looser.  His paintings are so good, that they are almost photographic!  I told him my story about excelling at what you consider your worst feature.  He agreed with me, and we both appreciate our differences.
By the way, one of my favorite painters is Gustav Klimt.  Check out how many tiny shapes he has in his paintings!!!! But they are beautifully combined into big shapes and so well designed.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Try Something New!

Wire Drawing, "Three's a Crowd"
I just realized that I had been ignoring my blog, and I'm sure you all wonder what has happened to me.  It's hard to keep all the balls up in the air sometimes!  I apologize for my absence and will try to be better at keeping in touch in the New Year ahead.
This is one of my wire drawings.  It is called that due to the fact that it looks like a wire sculpture when completed.  They are done using permanent markers.  I absolutely LOVE doing them!  I learned the beginning steps of this process from my friend, Mary Beth Downs, a Duluth, MN artist.  I will always be thankful to her for sharing how to do this!  It has changed my life!  Always fun to see what appears out of the contour abstract start!  I'm teaching this process in Clearwater, FL on January 21 - 23rd, 2019.  Contact if you are interested in information on that!  We will learn how to make a wire drawing and then progressively learn how to turn them into semi-abstract or completely abstract.  It's called, Painting with Wild Abandon, mainly an acrylic workshop with the emphasis on wire drawing and how it will make your imagination go wild!
My challenge to all of you is to do something artistically that is out of your comfort zone.  I'm doing Life Drawing every Wednesday, and I'm pretty inexperienced, to say the least, but I'm loving it!  I'm finding that it's stirring up my imagination in all of my other paintings too.  It's great to try something new!

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Color Studies- great warm-ups!

Pick ONLY 3 colors and write them on the back of your 5" x 7" watercolor paper.  This Color Study started by making 3 shapes and painting each shape a different color.

Draw 3 shapes that don’t overlap.  You should have 4 areas now.  Choose 3 colors.  Leave one of the shapes white and color each of the others a separate color. Leave a tiny border between the colors so they won’t bleed into each other.  Repeat this process until you get lots of different layers and colors created by overlapping colors.  I add black at the very end to "lace" the viewer's eye through the painting.  I do these instead of color graphs.  So much more fun!  

Sunday, March 11, 2018

30 Paintings in 30 Days Collage

30 Paintings in 30 Days!  Images:  7" x 10"

Well I made it!   But I have to say this was my hardest 30 in 30 that I've ever done!  So many things on my calendar during February and my pride got in the way, so I really tried my best.  No 5 minute paintings here!  Most of these took 4 - 6 hours to complete. This was supposed to be abstract collage, but I diverted from that style as the 30 days progressed.   Below are the only ones that are not sold.  If you are interested, be sure to contact me BEFORE March 15th,  when the 30 Day Sale will be over.  Right now, these are available for $75 each, but after March 15th, they will go back to regular prices. 


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