Back on the yellow brick road…


I just dived back in with drawing the next exercise.

The challenge with the Classic Asaro head is the how the two sides are different – one side reflects the structure of a young face, the other the structure of an aged face.  The challenge is the eye wants to make the two sides the same and judging measurements can be difficult.

Lots of adjustments and measurements and erasures on this one.

It does feel good to be back on track….

Lost And Found


If I were Artist Dorothy in Oz it is quite possible that my internal Wicked Witch Muse could have lured me to painting poppies as a distraction from traveling the yellow brick road to the Emerald Art City.

Here I was happily journeying along the yellow brick road with Watts, learning to draw, beginning to grasp the concepts, and looking forward to a future of painting portraits in the Emerald Art City, when I got distracted at the poppy field.

Yes, Making a Mark is not a project it was just one big Flying Monkey distraction!

I’ve packed up all the abstract art supplies and the abstract art books and all the Robert Burridge information that had begun to clutter my newly re-organized STudio space and put it all away.  Someday I may indeed bring it all out again, but the time is not yet.

I pulled my Watts Atelier/Heads workbook off the shelf, have my drawing supplies to hand – and even a brand new Samsung Galaxy 4 10.1″ tablet (purchased Wednesday) to view art classes on.

Did I mention that I got my Head Abstraction Exercises back and I passed 100% on the first try?  First time I’ve passed a section on the first tray – not that there weren’t comments on things I need to improve on.

So here I am on the last segment of Head I – one last art class video to watch – 10 more (out of 12) exercises to draw and turn in – probably will get some of these back to redo – so probably another three weeks to complete my first semester.  A little longer then I planned – but then I had to deal with Flying Monkeys.

I have the Orbik class to look forward to, a new perspective on this method of drawing – perhaps not on the timeline I had originally established but I keep forgetting I am the one who sets these schedules and I can change them as I want to for heaven’s sake.

I have some practice related to what I’m learning that I have in mind to experiment with – but how is it that I convince myself that I don’t have the time for that?  Why do I resist?


I’ll have to work on the creative flow….

The wonder of Van Gogh

vangogh starrynightotherI was reading this review by Julian Barnes in the London Review of Books – a review of two books on Van Gogh.  On reading it I was reminded how Van Gogh’s art talks to my heart and emotions – not my mind, not intellectually, not artsy fartsy – but cuts to my very soul through WONDER.  Van Gogh captured his own unique view of the world, he wrenched it out, and it always leaves me, and I think everyone else, stunned into wonder.  I like this quote by the reviewer:

Rather, it is the case that the painter’s desperate sincerity, his audacious, resplendent colour and his intense desire to make painting ‘a consolatory art for distressed hearts’ ….. And that is no bad place to be.

Art as “a consolatory art for distressed hearts’, a phrase take from one of Van Gogh’s letters, I like that.  The reviewer’s point was, I think, how we never tire of Van Gogh – because how we see him never changes over time for us – he always cuts to the quick.

This also reminds me of the art class I bought Studying Under The Masters – which includes on segment on Van Gogh.  I’m going to have to dig that out.

Making A Mark: RBAbstract1 (#6)


Here is the final abstract using Burridge’s first color combination.

Eh.  I’m not sure I like it.  I think it is too busy.  I think it might be case of not knowing when to stop – or where I’m going.  At some point “mind” stepped in.  I like what’s underneath.  I like just pure blocks of simple color…. and texture.  I do like the texture in this.

On to the next one.

Making a Mark: abstracts and color


I have decided that I want to work with artist Robert Burridge’s color wheel, where he generously translates his colors into the names of other brands, like Golden.  While giving a nod to my favorite artist inspiration, Jonas Gerard.

In his Artsy Fartsy Newsletters Burridge provided exercises in working with each of his color combinations.  I went to his archive and printed these out and I intend to work with each one of them.  (I know I printed this out years ago and can’t find them, sigh.)

Today – now having totally reorganized my STudio space, I got lost there for a while – I turned on flamenco music, picked up one of my brushes with the longer handles, picked up the first colors…. and began.

Dancing and painting – as loosely as I could.  That is key with Burridge to loosen up.

Eureka! Idea for artist brush storage!


I was looking online for ideas for storing my brushes – I have quite a collection to say the least.  And they sit all over the available counter space – counter and shelf space I could use for something else.

So I found this idea for over the door shoe storage with plastic cups in each pocket holding brushes (or pens).  A quick trip to the dollar store where I found mess storage and plastic cups – $7 later and VOILA!

Actually I’m thinking about getting a second one and hanging it on both sides of the door.  One side brushes one side pens etc maybe.  We’ll see.

Making a Mark #5



Primary colors and a palette knife.

Doing this one has reminded me that I need to get free-er when creating.  I get all tight and perfectionisty and judgmental all too often.

But sometimes when I’m not paying attention something magical happens – that I actually like.  I do like these colors together.

I am writing down the names of the colors I use in each of these, because sometimes I run across a color combination that I want to remember for later.

Bad habits…

WattsClassicProfile#1 WattsClassicprofile#2

Well, maybe they aren’t exactly bad habits…

It is just that I have a hard time not allowing a face to develop a personality of its own (I’m calling that second drawing ‘Fred’).  I’m not very “likey likey”, which probably means actual portraits could be a challenge.  Although I’ve always thought if you wanted an exact likeness you’ll take a picture – a portrait is something more.

Anyway in a class where you are graded on how like you come to the exercise… this can be a not so good thing – to have fun creating ‘Fred’ once he began to emerge.

Above are two examples of the Classic Asaro head – whom I call “Leo” (after Leonardo da Vinci) – drawn for class exercises.  The first one is in pencil.  The second one in vine charcoal (vine charcoal is fun!).

Now whether these will “pass” or not I’ve no idea (and won’t know for a couple of weeks).  But I do find that I am learning a lot about drawing faces.  And isn’t that my point in taking this class?  To grow what I know?

I’m not going to be perfect “matchey matchey”.  I do want to learn how a face is “built”.  I think I’m beginning to get a feel for that.

A return to Making A Mark: Deconstructed


I’ve been itching to go back to my original practice where I would paint something, anything, just play – and then I would cut it up and put it back together in a different configuration.  Sometimes I used all the bits, sometimes not.

This removes all chance of judgment on whether what I’ve done is “good” or not.  It acts to open me up to play more.

So this Making A Mark: Smooshing Paint has morphed into Marking A Mark: Deconstructed III.  And all of them fit into the category or Art Improv.

An original interest returns…


My Making a Mark project has already (I’ve just finished #3) reawakened my original interest in abstracts.  This is the type of art that I originally was attracted to.  The interest has never left me just been pushed aside by faces.

So I’ve decided that as part of my Making a Mark project I will work with this book (purchased back in 2009).  Does this mean I won’t do Making a Mark?  No.  I think it is the abstract expressionist Robert Motherwell who at the beginning of every day in the studio would make marks on a whole ream of paper before beginning to work.  Well, I’ll be doing a single Making a Mark and then beginning an exercise in Rolina’s book.

Are you wondering where is my Watts study in all this?  I am counting on this new practice to restart my creativity which needs to be stirred up a bit.

Just for fun… musing on a muse


I’ve found a totally entertaining model for my Muse!  I’m stealing the idea from another artist, a writer – but I’m making him totally my own.

My Muse looks like Eddie Izzard with eyeliner to accentuate intelligent and piercing blue eyes that always seem to hold a smile in their depths.  He reclines in my Studio wearing leather pants and a silk shirt with high heels and red lipstick.  The embodiment of a Paris studio, he smells of aged wood and leather books, pencil dust and paints, with a waft of dusky perfume drifting as if through an open window where curtains billow on a breeze.  He talks to me as I work, of cabbages and kings and observations on many things, with a twist so humorous I’m always smiling.  When I get stuck or impatient, he says ridiculous and inappropriate things to remind me of what matters and then we’re back into the stroke of the brush on canvas, the play of colors, in a room where dust motes ride on beams of sunlight streaming through windows casting light and shadow patterns on the walls and where laughter echoes like music in the rafters.


He doesn’t dress up like this so much anymore though.  Ah well, we all get more conservative as we age I suspect.

If you haven’t ever watched him here is a video – too funny:

Speaking of learning…

oxfordIt is not all about art.

In this YEAR OF LEARNING an old dream has surfaced from the depths…. my dream to attend Oxford or Cambridge University for a summer of study.  Out of curiosity I went and looked and lo-and-behold one can get an Oxford Award with a mix of online classes and an in-person summer programme, spread out over several years.  I can start towards my dream summer term by taking online classes at Oxford.  Since I have to pay for these – and since I’ve committed my funds to art for the next year – I plan to look at what’s available next fall (2016).

Meanwhile….. I also found a fascinating series of online classes from Harvard University – and what’s more (unlike Oxford) they are FREE!  Have I mentioned my love of illuminated manuscripts, breviaries and book of hours?  So I signed up for the following fascinating classes which begin September 1st:


Yes, maybe I’m going overboard a bit – but its all in the right direction I think.

What a treasure find!!


I can’t remember where I saw reference to this book (now out of print) but I was totally intrigued by the description:

A unique odyssey through the world of pigments, line drawings, portraits and landscapes, this is part instruction manual and part art history survey. Makes frequent reference to the illustrious masters of art history as you are guided through the intricately detailed pages of this hand-painted, hand-lettered book.

And since I was able to find a copy that turns out to be nearly new for around $5 (which included shipping) how could I resist!!

And I LOVE THIS BOOK!!  Oh what fun this is going to be to work with.  Fits in beautifully with my Year of Learning.  Just look at these inside pages…..



This book is total jewel.

Making A Mark: #1


Here is how it works:

I select colors – in this case 3 colors.  I won’t say they are purely random – I do give some thought to what color I’m feeling.

Then I drop the paint onto watercolor paper and smoosh it around – photo above is the result.

And then I begin experimenting with cropping:




As you can see I’m rather intrigued by that “eye” in the lower left corner.

I wish I had my other camera – which broke – the quality of the crops would be better – ah well.


Then I put a frame around it (this time mussing the paint a bit because it wasn’t fully dry – it has just been that kind of week – how appropriate).

I think I’ll call this:  “EYE OF THE STORM”

Being inventive (aka creative)


I was surfing art videos and watched a video by an artist working in charcoal – whose name I unfortunately do not remember.

Anyhow…. he showed how he sharpened his vine charcoal to a sharp wedge point and proceeded to demonstrate how he could use the tip for drawing fine lines and the other sides for shading.

Now I’m not sure it was in the same video where an artist – I’m thinking it might have been another artist – showed drawing with charcoal powder that was in a plastic tub next to him.  He’d dip his finger in charcoal dust and draw the shadows of the face – which was way cool!  You know how I love to draw and paint with my fingers!!!!!  Then he’d finish drawing the details of the face.

So I had this idea………

Hubby dug out an old sandpaper wheel for me – which I cut a wedge out of.

Then I took a recycled food container and glued this bit of sandpaper to the inside of the lid, with scrapbook adhesive which can be removed fairly easily so I can change out the sandpaper when necessary without tearing up the lid.

Then I sharpened a piece of vine charcoal with the sandpaper while holding it over the tub of the food container – voila! the charcoal dust fell into the container.  I can easily place the lid back on the container, with the sandpaper now facing down and inside – keeping the charcoal dust safely inside the tub for future use.

No fuss no muss.

Now I think the artist had a longer wedge on his piece of charcoal – but this will work to start with.

Reuse – Recycle – Reimagine

Art Project: Making a Mark: Smooshing Paint


I’ve decided on a new 40 day art project.  A project I call Making a Mark: Smooshing Paint.  It is rather like my Making a Mark: Deconstructed project of a couple of years ago – where after 40 days of this creative practice I wasn’t stuck creatively anymore.  I did something similar last year creating 40 small ATC sized faces (Making a Mark: Faces) to get the creative juices flowing.

Yes, this is a project intended to break through a creative block – and especially overcome the dread Perfectionism Demon(ess) – whom I have taken to calling Petronella – a name meaning rock or stone and perfectionism is certainly like carrying about a heavy stone which weighs me down creatively.

Besides I get to play with color and I’m finding that working with drawing, which is primarily black and white, I’m missing color a bit.  There are no rules with Making a Mark – you simply make a mess and then make the best of it (be creative).  Above is a crop from the cover of a journal that I decided to cover with paint – which ended up giving me this idea.

Nothing like a new moon to begin a new project.

Supplementing my study at Watts


I have readjusted my schedule for Watts.  I’ve decided that I need to NOT withdraw in order to take the Orbik intensive (my original idea).  That self-imposed deadline (finish or else) was making me crazy.

So I will continue my classes at Watts and take the Orbik classes on the side.

That has meant adjusting the dates of my Second and Third TERMS – as you can see above.

I’ve also begun reading/studying the following book, pulled from my own art library, which I think will supplement what I’m learning:

(I find when I go to Amazon that I purchased this book back in July 2011, always interesting to see when my interest first emerged, that said, I’ve yet to work with it.)

(I also have this one pre-ordered in August of 2011, published November 2011 – also in my library and sitting on the shelf.)

And while I’m at it let me mention this book:

(Also in my own library, also purchased in July of 2011.)

This one I think will also be a very good supplement to what I am learning.  Good grief though!  It has taken me 4 years to finally get around to these!

Everything it in its own time I suppose.

I said something important yesterday…


I said something I didn’t know I knew till I’d said it ….


I didn’t know that – not consciously.

I am familiar with how at the mid-point of a year the year actually will tell me what this year is really all about.  Doesn’t matter what I set out as my intention at the beginning of the year.  During the course of time the year decides for itself and reveals itself at the mid-point.

Usually it is some inner desire that I haven’t fully recognized, acknowledged or accepted.

So it is time to reaffirm based upon this new revelation.

Teaching thus learning

teach learn

I have been thinking how best to capture, to solidify, what I’m learning – in this year that is turning out to be a Year of Learning.  I thought what I might could do is pretend that I need to present this information as a class – in other words teach what I’m learning.  I don’t have an audience… yet – but I don’t suppose that matters.  What is important is arranging this information and thus reinforcing and clarifying it for myself.  Make sense?

Getting a bit scattered….


This is a photo of the top of my art work table:

An art magazine that I’m intending to read.

A book by Mary Whyte I couldn’t resist because I’m still very fascinated with watercolors and interested in creating another watercolor in my Medicine Wheel series:

The book Drawing the Head that I think fits in with the point I’m at in my study at Watts.  I purchased the proper pencils and some paper (not the recommended paper, which I couldn’t find, but some that may work).

Study at Watts – the Orbik summer intensive – working with Drawing the Head book – painting a watercolor – various art related reading (and what you see is just a drop in the ocean of reading I have)……  I can’t quite figure out how to fit it all in…..