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.