Thursday, December 19, 2013

A look into 2014: Affordable Art

Why Affordable Art?
Six Week Terms are $80 or less

I'm writing this newsletter a little early this time because I've had a lot of requests
regarding my studio classes and their costs. So to clear the air I thought I'd devote this space to the subject.

Yes, my six-week class terms are only $80 or less! Why so affordable? Okay some would say cheap here too. Well, the plain, simple truth is I know how hard and frustrating it is to find affordable art classes for adults! When I went back to full-time art, I wanted to take some classes but everything always seemed to be way out of reach for my pocketbook.  I didn't, nor do I today, have $360-$800 to spend on classes per term. Now, if I were going for a degree or some sort of certificate, I would expect to pay that much. But to enrich my life, I can't seem to shell out that much cash. I found a couple of options back then: the local community college and senior centers. Fortunately, I was able to take quite a few classes there, along with an affordable class with a watercolor teacher in Tualatin named Linda Aman. 

Moving ahead several years, I found myself lying in bed recovering from breast surgery and chemo. I knew I couldn't go back to advertising because of the stress. But I wasn't ready to give up either. I wanted to do something that had meaning. Well, you all know the rest of the story. From teaching early classes to a group of test "subjects," I now teach several classes in my studio, workshops at the community college, to art groups throughout the West and even on cruise ships!

With that type of background and success, I could opt to increase my rates. I've been told I should consider charging three times what I'm charging today. And as tempting as it is, I always journey back to those early days when it was so difficult to find something I could afford.

Of course, as time goes on, I can see that I will increase costs--if for no any other reason than other costs are going up. But for now, I'm keeping my costs down to a reasonable amount--those that can be obtained for most folks. To that end, let me share this winter's term. I will be holding four weekly classes for six weeks. You can see the full class offering by going to But for now here is the listing:
  • Drawing Tuesdays    7 pm to 9 pm     $70 per term
  • The Wednesday Morning Art Club  10 am to 12 pm   $75 per term
  • Acrylic Painting Wednesdays 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.  $80 per term
  • Acrylic Painting Thursdays   6:30 pm to 9:00 pm $80 per term
  • Visual Journaling Second Sundays  1 p.m. To 4 p.m. $20 per class

Although my commitment to keeping costs down is my choice, I am not really being magnanimous here. I can afford to do so. After all, I teach in my own studio, my overhead costs are reasonable and I don't have to hire any teachers. I do it all myself. More importantly, I strive to offer the best I can give--yes, even 110 percent.

Affordable Workshops too!
While I'm not conducting any workshops this winter in my studio, I am holding one at the Multnomah Athletic Club as well as two at Portland Community College. Again, if you want afford art instruction, PCC is the best deal in town for workshops. I'm teaching two this coming term and both are for less than $70 including supplies!

Saturday, January 25   10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Basic Drawing One-Day Workshop
Sylvania campus, Room HT 323

Saturday, March 8  10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Travel Sketching: One-Day Workshop
Sylvania campus, Room TCB 212

For more information you can go to my website at,  the college website at or call them at 971-722-6266.  

Lastly, there are three spots left for the 2014 Sketching the English Village workshop to be held in the small village of Chiseldon May 25-June 1. Please feel free to learn all about it by going to:

Have a most blessed Happy Holiday Season!

Please have a wonder holiday from my home to yours. I truly hope that 2014 brings you all you want and need.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Art, sex and the zone

Have you ever been to a concert and have totally zoned out? Maybe it’s happened while drawing or painting. For me, I can start an art project—whatever the medium—and be utterly enveloped inside the zone. A half hour suddenly turns into one or two hours. The other thing I notice is that when I’m into something like a drawing or painting, all my concerns seem to melt away. It’s as if my pencil or brush becomes a magic wand. Whoosh.

Well, this is not an unusual experience at all. Scientists are now thinking that this “feeling” we experience is similar to what we feel when we fall in love, have sex or other pleasure. Professor Semi Zeki, a neurobiologist  at the University College London, believes engaging in art triggers a surge of the feel-good drug, dopamine into the orbito-frontal cortex (frontal lobe). The same thing happens with that love feeling we’ve all felt.

I think there’s something to this. I’m a fiddler. I always have to be doing something. That’s why I draw while “watching” television. I just can’t sit in a chair and passively watch a program. In the old days, I would cross-stitch or hand quilt. However, put me in front of a hanging painting that enchants me and I can sit for hours with absolutely nothing in my hands. I just stare and wander around the piece as if in heaven. 

Take for instance, my favorite painting (which I've talked about before), The Execution of Lady Jane Grey, by Paul Delaroche (1795-1856). This magnificent painting hangs in the National Gallery of London and covers an entire wall, measuring almost 8 ft. by 10 ft. I ran across it while in the Gallery years ago. It stopped me in my tracks. Whereupon, I sat down on one of the viewing benches and didn't budge for at least an hour. 

Nothing up to that point, had ever captured my attention for so long. I’m sure lots of people passed by and I vaguely remember being annoyed when people blocked my view.  In a way, time stood still. And that’s what I call the zone; scientists call it a dopamine fix.

As Professor Zeki has concluded, "There have been very significant new advances in our understanding of what happens in our brains when we look at works of art. We have recently found that when we look at things we consider to be beautiful, there is increased activity in the pleasure reward centres of the brain. There is a great deal of dopamine in this area, also known as the ‘feel-good’ transmitter. Essentially, the feel-good centres are stimulated, similar to the states of love and desire ... ."

Another study conducted at McGill University in Canada centered on music and the “chills” (goosebumps) that subjects experienced while listening. Those that experienced chills showed an increase of dopamine by nine percent, one person even reaching a 21 percent increase. 

Even more interesting, synthetic dopamine, which is often given to Parkinson patients,  is surprisingly (or maybe not), increasing creativity in some patient.  Prof. Rivka Inzelberg of Tel Aviv University's Sackler Faculty of Medicine first noticed this in her own medical center and then went on to find that this phenomena was occurring around the world. According to Inzelberg, dopamine is given to help transmit motor skills but it’s also used in the brain as a reward system and fosters the creative fun stuff. These Parkinson patients cover the full gamut of creativity from figure drawing to poetry.

There have been times in my creative life when I think I’ve entered this zone—work
comes out of me as if I were the viewer or audience, instead of the creator. For instance, my Shining Examples painting done in soft pastel was created in that zone I’m talking about.  I became one with the process while I painted the apples. Okay, it’s a bit strange, but I’ve also had this happen when writing—perhaps it’s an internal Muse taking over or a bit more dopamine. Whatever it is, I like it and wish I could experience it more often.

Below is a list of new classes and workshops planned for this coming winter, including two new class I'm rather excited about. Check it out!

Two New Classes * PCC Workshops Planned for Winter 2014

Winter 2014
6-Week  Class Term Begins Week of  January 12th
Registration Deadline: January 8th · Register by email:
Pre-registration is required as seating is limit.

Drawing every Tuesday evening    
7 pm to 9 pm   
Portraits: from skull to flesh   $70/term
This session we will be learning how to draw the portrait, from the inside out. We’ll be drawing the skull, different parts of the face, all the way to the complete face—both human and animal.

New Class!
The Wednesday Morning Art Club
Mixing Colors with Watercolor and Acrylics
Bring your sketchbook and enthusiasm
10 am to 12 pm   $75/term
Come try this new weekly class that promises to open up the world of art to you. In the year ahead we will study color mixing to composition and design. This session we will be discovering how to mix colors using watercolors and acrylics. See class blog for details:

New Class!
Acrylic Painting every Wednesday afternoon
1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.  $80/term
Painting with Primaries, Part I
Try your hand at learning to paint using only the primary colors, along with black and white. You’ll be surprised what you can create!  

Acrylic Painting every Thursday evening  
6:30 pm to 9:00 pm   $80/term
Painting with Primaries, Part II
Try your hand at learning to paint using only the primary colors, along with black and white. We will cover the following subjects: Study in White, Portraits, Abstract, Landscape, Still Life and Water. $80/term  Class is full, there is a waiting list

Second Sundays  1 p.m. To 4 p.m.
Visual Journaling with collage and mixed media
Spend a couple hours a month, letting go and expressing yourself. There's no creative pressure. All you need to bring is your sketchbook and $20 per class to cover material cost. I supply all the paper, paint, ink, glue and more. Learn more:

Workshops at Portland Community CollegeTo register for my workshops at Portland Community College, please go to or call General Information: 971-722-6266

Saturday, January 25   10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Basic Drawing One-Day Workshop
Sylvania campus, Room HT 323
If you can print your ABCs, you can learn to draw! Learn the basics with practical examples and constructive exercises. Covers line, shape, form and perspective. Bring 90# spiral sketchbook and lunch; all other supplies provided.
Tuition $49;
Supply Fee: $20 payable to Glastonbury Studios
Saturday, March 8  10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Travel Sketching: One-Day Workshop
Sylvania campus, Room TCB 212
Journey with your sketchbook. Capture street scenes, buildings, people and landscapes. Use pencil, pen and watercolor washes. Bring 90# or heavier sketchbook; all other supplies provided.
Tuition: $49.00
Supply Fee:  $20 payable to Glastonbury Studios

2014 Sketch’n on the Go™ Workshop

Only 4 Spots Left
Sketching the English Village Workshop
Chiseldon, England
May 25-June 1, 2014
For one week, we'll stay at the lovely Chiseldon House Hotel.  The accommodations include a nicely appointed room with daily full-English breakfast and light sandwich lunch.  

We'll meet everyday from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., sketching the village to include the 900 A.D. Holy Cross church, thatched-roofs cottages, ancient buildings, local pub, prehistoric trails and so much more.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Paint (or draw) like no one is looking!

I find that I do my best work when I just paint or draw for their own sake. I know we can't really do that all the time. To be a working artist, you must make some concessions either for the juried shows or organizations to the commissions you may luckily land. As Frank Lloyd Wright once said,

"Art for art's sake is a  philosophy of the well-fed."

So true that is. It's easy for me to espouse the glory of making art for myself since I don't try to market my work anymore. I am well-fed. My husband works full-time and I, as well, teaching three times a week and on several weekends.
Blue Garden, ©2013
Stippling with colored pens

When I was painting and/or drawing in hopes of selling, I felt restricted, bound by the market or client, and I believed it showed. I go through my earlier work and a lot of it is stilted, hopeful. Granted I was in the process of learning; so of course, things wouldn't come together as easily as they do now. 

In those early years I was trying to remember everything I was taught or read. It was overwhelming. As the learning curve expanded and my foundation grew stronger, things became second nature. But in the beginning, everything was insufferably difficult. A case in point was color. 

I remember taking a class and having a very difficult time with mixing the right colors. I had worked in black and white for so long, it was hard for me to choose which color was best. This is actually very strange if you consider that for over 25 years I designed ads that burst with color. What happened? Fear happened. I knew what I was doing in advertising, but in fine art, yikes! That was a whole different set of rules--or so I thought.

So here I was in class struggling, not knowing what color to put with the other. The teacher suggested that perhaps I had a color deficiency. Yes, you read that correctly. I really don't know why teachers do this to people. There was nothing wrong with me physically. But if I had believed her, I could have, at that point, walked away and never returned to fine art again--remember I was returning after decades of disbelief I could do this. Fortunately, I had enough background in color (and determination) to know that I had to begin from the beginning and learn what I didn't know. 

That meant returning to the color wheel. I also recall feeling pretty stupid having to return to such a simple tool. I knew all the basics but I also learned knowing and doing are two different things. Intellectually, I knew yellow and blue make green. But there are so many variables, such as combining a cool blue with a warm yellow. That doesn't always turn out the way it's supposed to. So I pulled out my paints, at that time watercolor, and started mixing. I kept on failing, yes failing. That's what happens when you're learning. The greens didn't look right and my purples were definitely off. I just kept on reading, studying and experimenting, which became the key to my success.

One of the things I love best about fine art or any art for that matter is that you have the chance to experiment--take risks, take a chance to see if this works or that. Unfortunately, if I'm bogged down with writing, drawing, painting or anything for the market or client, I'm going to do less experimentation and more what sells. Time becomes money, instead of time becomes fun.

Today I wonder what that teacher would say to me if she saw how I put colors together with abandon--my inhibitions are gone because I know if I don't like what I am doing, I can do it again, and again, and again. That's what I mean about painting or drawing as if no one is looking. It's my I-don't-give-a-damn attitude that comforts me today. But that doesn't mean I don't have to learn anymore. I am in a constant learning mode. There's always a new technique, a new way to approach a problem. I'll never stop learning and practicing. 

No matter what, I have to admit that by giving myself the freedom to ignore the marketplace, juries and commissions, I am much happier to do my art just for me--to create as if no one is looking!
More Fall Fun
Visual Journaling Class
Sunday, November 10th
Come explore and enjoy yourself through paper, glue and pen.
Every Second Sunday
1 p.m. to 4 p.m. $20 per class 
Workshops at Studio in Tigard 
 Drawing with Pen and Ink Workshop
Bonus! with acrylic inks!
Saturday, November 16
10 a.m. to 4 p.m. $70
Learn how to illustrate with pen and ink, using watercolor washes, while exploring nib pens, methods and techniques. Special bonus, we will be using acrylic inks as well as traditional. Bring at least a 9 x 12 sketchbook–90# or above (Nature Sketch by Pentallic, Moleskine Watercolor, or Strathmore Multimedia) All other supplies and lunch provided. No experience necessary. Age 16+

Sketching Trips in 2014
Sketching the English Village
Only 4 spots left
May 25-June 1, 2014
For one week, we'll stay at the lovely Chiseldon House Hotel.  The accommodations include a nicely appointed room with daily full-English breakfast and lunch.  We'll meet every day from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., sketching the village to include the 900 A.D. Holy Cross church, thatched-roofs cottages, ancient buildings, local pubs, prehistoric trails and so much more. See this link for more details:

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Post Impressionism influence on Modern Art Part III--Final in Series

To continue my discussion on the post-Impressionists influence on modern art, I’d like to review how Paul Gauguin touched the lives of so many future artists. Interestingly, he started early, even before he headed off to Tahiti. In 1886, Gauguin spent some time in the lovely village of Pont-Aven in France. This Brittany village had been a lure for artists since 1866 when some American art students “discovered” it and began to capture the gorgeous landscapes and charming people. In time, more artists came to do the same. A group of artists calling themselves, Les Nabis (prophets in Hebrew), gathered in Pont-Aven and befriended Gauguin while he was there. In his eyes, art was totally an expression of the artist. Instead of reproducing what is in front of you, why not try to draw and/or paint from memory, forget perspective and let color dazzle, dance with shade or shadow.

His The Yellow Christ became the inspiration for Nabis’ Maurice Denis’ The Offertory at Calvary.
Paul Gauguin's The Yellow Christ 1889
Maurice Denis’ The Offertory at Calvary 1890*

Paul Sérusier, another member of Les Nabis, painted The Talisman through direct encouragement from Gauguin. This painting (oil on wood) was definitely a turning point. 

The Talisman by Paul Sérusier 1888

Recognizable form was gone and in its place was the artist’s reflection. According to Maurice Denis, Gauguin had told Séruzier :
 "How do you see these trees? They are yellow. So, put in yellow; this shadow, rather blue, paint it with pure ultramarine; these red leaves? Put in vermilion".
 The Talisman that has been in the Musee D’Orsay (Paris) collection since 1985. Here’s what they have to say:
“A close observation of the painting allows one to recognize certain elements of the landscape represented: the wood, at the top on the left, the transversal path, the row of beech trees on the river bank, and the mill, at the back, on the right. Each of these elements is a stain of colour.”

Beyond Les Nabis, Gauguin’s influence continued to run deep. Take for instance, the work of Henri Matisse. Gauguin is known for his bold colors and lines as well as his primitive style as you can see below in Nevermore. Matisse crested his own nude, Blue Nude (Souvenir of Biskra) in 1907, using the same technique. It is said, that he painted this piece after he broke a similar sculpture. Of course, the painting caused an international upset.
Nevermore by Gauguin 1897
Blue Nude by Matisse 1907

Another leading example of Gauguin's influence is demonstrated by  Pablo Picaso. Although there is direct correlation to Paul Cezanne in Picasso's cubist paintings--as related to the fact that Cezanne emphasized geometrics in painting, one can also see a Gauguin influence if one considers his primitive art, bold line and color. Below are two paintings by Picasso--the first created in 1902 called the Blue Nude, his second is done in 1969 with a highly cubist take. There is a touch of Gauguin in both of them.

Blue Nude by Picasso 1902

Reclining Nude by Picasso, 1969
Without Gauguin's fresh approach,would these artists have arrived at the same conclusion?Would free expression be as openly accepted as it is today? Would even pop art have arrived when it did?

Marilyn by Andy Warhol 1962
Or are we all putting so much into these post-Impressionists that if they came back today, would they even agree or would they tell us that this is all a natural progression toward the true essence of art.  

What's Coming Up This Fall! 
 Six-week classes to begin week of October 27

Drawing with Pen and Ink

10/29 Tuesday evenings, 7-9 pm $70

Sketching the Holiday Season
10/30 Wednesday mornings: 10 am to 12 $70

Fun with Acrylics
Painting with Primaries
10/31 Thursday evenings: 6:30 pm to 9 $80

Every Second Sunday: Visual Journaling
1 p.m. to 4 p.m. $20 per class 
Workshops at Studio in Tigard 
More information on each workshop at: 
Saturday, October 26

Basic Acrylic Painting
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Saturday, November 2

How to make a Vinyl Floor Mat
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Saturday, November 16

Drawing with Pen & Ink 
Bonus! Including Colored Acrylic Inks
10 a.m. To 4 p.m.
Sketching Trips in 2014

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

September 2013 Newsletter: Post Impressionists Influence on Modern Art, Part II

Vincent Van Gogh was one of the leading post-Impressionist artists. Although he embraced the use of vivid colors by the ImpressionistS, he was not fond of the rest. I remember once reading that he was hoping to imitate their style, when his brother stepped in and encouraged him to develop his own--which he did with abandon. 

Considered the father of Expressionism, Van Gogh would paint not only what he saw but what he felt--very, very different than anyone else at the time. If we examine one of his most expressive paintings,The Starry Night, 1889, we see that he is using expressive line and color to describe a scene that most of us don't ever see. The village was located outside his window from the sanitarium and the night scene was painted from memory during the day.

Notice the painting is almost completely created with lines. Color and contrast are vividly stated. The sky, perhaps representing God, takes up most of the painting, while the humble village is placed in the lower third of the painting. I don't know about you, but I've never witnessed a sky like this, but I've felt the passion, the turmoil, the majesty of such a sky--perhaps even a time in my life is represented here. And thus, the same for Van Gogh.

The Expressionists who were to follow in the late 19th century and early 20th century highly regarded Van Gogh. They too used paint and canvas to express themselves. For instance, let's look at Edvard Munch's (1863–1944) painting, The Scream 1893. Yes, for some, this is a scream of a painting, but obviously this is not a representational work, but something that Munch was expressing. Actually he produced four Scream pictures. The one here was created in 1893, done in oil, tempera and pastels.

In 1892, Munch wrote in his diary,
One evening I was walking along a path, the city was on one side and the fjord below. I felt tired and ill. I stopped and looked out over the fjord—the sun was setting, and the clouds turning blood red. I sensed a scream passing through nature; it seemed to me that I heard the scream. I painted this picture, painted the clouds as actual blood. The color shrieked. This became The Scream.
You can see the Van Gogh influence with the use of line, contrasting color and expression.

But Munch wasn't the only one touched by Van Gogh's brilliance. He made an impression on the German and Russian Expressionists. August Macke (1887–1914) was a member of the German Expressionist group: Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider). His painting, St. Mary's with Houses and Chimney (Bonn), 1911  is reminiscent of some of Van Gogh's buildings.

The Yellow House
But more importantly, the need to express oneself in art was the main influence from Van Gogh. The Bridge, Die Brucke,  another German Expressionist group formed in 1905, was to serve as a bridge from the old academic expression to the new. They called upon young people to follow suit:

We call all young people together, and as young people, who carry the future in us, we want to wrest freedom for our actions and our lives from the older, comfortably established forces.
Just as the Impressionists before him, Van Gogh took on a new way of perceiving the world through his paint brush and so did those after him. Other artists he influenced were Willen de Kooning, Henri Matisse and in 1950s Francis Bacon.

On a contemporary level, Stefan Duncan is considered, by the Van Gogh Gallery,  as America's Van Gogh:
Duncan's amazing work is a plethora of brilliant colors tossed about in a whimsical style he calls Squigglism. Having been greatly influenced by Vincent van Gogh, Stefan utilizes this updated technique to draw the quick strokes of the impressionists into long curvy lines. These tight eddies of color dance around his paintings lighting every feature with beauty! It is this very beauty that Stefan strives to capture in all of his work; revealing the divine in nature! 
Here are some examples of Duncan's work taken from Van Gogh Gallery. He's definitely been influenced:

Next month, Post Impressionists Influence on Modern Art  Part III

Coming Soon!
Fall Classes begin week of September 8th

Check out the links below for details:

Drawing every Tuesday evening    7 pm to 9  pm   Mixed media
See link: ($70)

Sketching every Wednesday morning
Sketch’n on the Go!™ 10 am to 12 pm
See Link: ($70)

Acrylic Painting every Thursday evening  6:30 pm to 9:00 pm
Learning from the Masters
See Link:  $80

Fall Workshops at Studio 

Saturday, October 12 
Pet Portraits in Colored Pencil Workshop $70 
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  
Bring your 5 x 7 photo of your pet and learn how to create a portrait using colored pencil. The first half of the workshop will cover how to draw animals using basic shapes and grid. The second half, you’ll learn how to apply colored pencil for portrait making. No experience needed. All supplies provided,including lunch. Age 16+

October 25-26
Friday 7-9 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. To 4 p.m.
Beginning Acrylics Workshop $90
Absolutely no experience necessary!

If you ever wanted to learn to paint, this is the workshop to take. Unlike other painting media, acrylic is the easiest and most forgiving. In this beginning workshop, learn how to put paint to canvas in a relaxed, encouraging environment. Along with learning how to handle the paint and a variety of mediums, discover how to use brushes and brushstrokes, paint on various grounds (paper, boards) and have fun while you're at it. In addition to leaving with some great first-time paintings, you'll have a workbook that will serve as a future reference tool. Bring:  Apron • Rag • 3 - 9” x 12” canvas boards. All other supplies provided including lunch on Saturday.  Age 16+

Friday, November  1 
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
How to Make a Vinyl Floor Mat Workshop $70
Learn, simply and easily, how to create a painted vinyl floor mat to use in your home for the kitchen,  laundry room or wherever you like. All materials will be supplied, including lunch. Class size will be limited to eight. Please bring apron, rags and enthusiasm. We will paint the picture shown here.  A great Christmas idea! No experience necessary. Age 16+

Saturday, November 23
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Pen and Ink Workshop Bonus! includes acrylic Inks! $70
Learn how to illustrate with pen and ink, using watercolor washes, while exploring nib pens, methods and techniques. Special bonus, we will be using acrylic inks as well as traditional. Bring at least a 9 x 12 sketchbook–90# or above (Nature Sketch by Pentallic, Moleskine Watercolor, or Strathmore Multimedia) All other supplies provided, including lunch. No experience necessary. Age 16+