To everything…


To everything there is a season,
 a time for every purpose under the sun.

I had thought it was the Byrds who wrote the hit tune Turn, Turn, Turn.  Pete Seeger in 1950 adapted the words from the Book of Ecclesiastes. In 1965 the Bryds recorded it and it became an international hit. Since then many artists including Judy Collins and even Dolly Parton have sung the song. My attempt to sing  Both Sides Now was not exactly melodic so I will leave it to the Byrds to remind you about the changing of the seasons and the importance of time.



From autumn to winter the seasons turn. The light grows short then full again. Round and round the years go. To everything there is a season…

Many describe the creative process in phrases of seasons — from the planting of the seed, to the growth of summer, to the grand harvest in the fall, finally, to the rest and rejuvenation of winter. The development of my projects follow a similar pattern from the preparation R&D phase of figuring things out, to the incubation with unconscious playful combinations (daydreaming), to the illumination flash of insight and the alignment of ideas finally, to the verification triumph of completion and with it the time to rejuvenate. Each stage requires its own kind of work from the thumbnail sketches of preparation to the letting things simmer during  incubation to maximizing the energy of the illumination to the celebration of the verification.

While we develop our skills as artists we are attuning to the pulse of life and the rhythms of creativity.

For Art that Leaps at Boundaries – an article about David Hockney’s upcoming show at the De Young Museum:

Here is the link to the Winsor Newton product brochure. Relevant to this weeks lesson on glazing, it has valuable information about the transparency and staining properties of their pigments.


Both Sides Now

It should not be hard for you to stop sometimes and look into the stains of walls, or ashes of a fire, or clouds, or mud or like places, in which… you may find really marvelous ideas. Leonardo da Vinci

A cappella is not my forte. Nor is any kind of singing in front of an audience.
My voice was quivering not only because I was incredibly nervous but because the sentiment expressed in this poetic song has always moved me to tears. Not only does it speak to the wisdom gained through life experience, it speaks to the artistic perspective of looking at things from all sides.

Listen to Joni Mitchell sing it:


is the face of Jesus on a piece of toast,

is the man in the moon,

is a cinnamon bun with a likeness to Mother Teresa.

Many of the examples of paredidolia have mystical overtones.
But, I think they point to a predilection of creative vision…
hearing whispers…
listening to your own voice…

trusting what you see out of the corner of your eye…

Face Rubbing

If you feel like exploring, here are some great pics of manhole covers- think RUBBINGS.


Beat artist Bruce Conner is master of the Rorschach.

SFMOMA | Explore Modern Art | Our Collection | Bruce Conner | IN

A selection of his work is here:

At Gallery Paule Anglim in San Francisco there is a show of Beat artists                                    sight / vision : the urban milieu until November 9.

Last, but not least, are the insightful words of Bob Ross, painting instructor and television personality:




Working chromatically can help you understand the value structure of your painting. Without the enticement (and distraction of color) you can see the range and pattern values of the dark and light. If you are up and about in the night (can’t sleep at 3 AM?),  it’s a perfect time to look at your work in dim light or in moonlight. When the rod cells in your eyes are active, you will be able to see monochromatically.




October 26 – January 20
David Hockney: A Bigger Exhibit
at the De Young Museum in Golden Gate Park

He uses multiple canvases so that he can work BIG:DavidHockneyWoldgateWood

and he makes composites of hundreds of photographs:02

This week the familiar adage do as I say not as I do is particularly apt.
Yes, I do go on and on about the lessons and the important of discipline and practice and then I throw it all up in the air and say that I don’t  always abide by my own teachings. YIKES!!!

As you might have discovered I am not a strict watercolorist.  I do not necessarily go by the rules but, I do believe it is important to know them. If you practice, practice, practice the techniques they will become second nature—then your ability to render what you have in mind will just flow…

Gaining Perspective

Blue hills

Artists use two kinds of perspective : linear and atmospheric (or aerial). Linear perspective uses lines and vanishing points to determine how much an object’s apparent size changes with distance. Atmospheric perspective deals with how the appearance of an object is affected by the space or atmosphere between it and the viewer. Leonardo da Vinci noticed this latter phenomenon and dubbed it ‘the perspective of disappearance.’”
Used together, linear and aerial perspective can create the illusion of space and dimension in your art, whether a vast landscape or an intimate still life.

Notice, when looking into the distance:
1.    Diminishing size
2.    Diminishing detail
3.    Diminishing contrast
4.    Lightening of overall values
5.    Neutralization of color/possible shift to blue

Blue layer landscape


By Marianne Boruch

My drawing teacher said: Look, think, make a mark.
Look, I told myself.
And waited to be marked.
Clouds are white but they darken
with rain. Even a child blurs them back
to little woolies on a hillside, little
bundles without legs. Look, my teacher
would surely tell me, they’re nothing
like that. Like that: the lie. Like that: the poem.
She said: Respond to the heaviest part
of the figure first. Density is
form. That I keep hearing destiny
is not a mark of character. Like pilgrimage
once morphed to mirage in a noisy room, someone
so earnest at my ear. Then marriage slid.
Mir-aage, Mir-aage, I heard the famous poet let loose
awry into her microphone, triumphant.
The figure to be drawn —
not even half my age. She’s completely
emptied her face for this job of standing still an hour.
Look. Okay. But the little
dream in there, inside the think
that comes next. A pencil in my hand, its secret life
is charcoal, the wood already burnt,
a sacrifice.
Read more about this poem and poet

On the Internet you can find many fun fab brushes:

05626-9003-2-2ww-m images IMG_8427

Or take a look in your household junk drawer- you might find a bundle of rubber bands that can be transformed into a paint applicator or a potato masher that can make an interesting pattern:

Homemade Brushes


There are bamboo brushes of all sizes here:
Bamboo Brush_

And for thinking about the power of brush strokes here is a wonderful look at Van Gogh’s.
Talk about bravura…

Sweet Honey

Last night as I was sleeping

“Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that a spring was breaking
out in my heart.
I said: Along which secret aqueduct,
Oh water, are you coming to me,
water of a new life
that I have never drunk?

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that I had a beehive
here inside my heart.
And the golden bees
were making white combs
and sweet honey
from my old failures.

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that a fiery sun was giving
light inside my heart.
It was fiery because I felt
warmth as from a hearth,
and sun because it gave light
and brought tears to my eyes.

Last night as I slept,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that it was God I had
here inside my heart. ”

Antonio Machaco translated by Robert Bly


This definitely looks like a must read. The Sonoma County Library does have it but,
there are many holds so it will be a while until I get to it.

From Wikipedia:

The eyes of Daruma are often blank when sold. Monte A. Greer, author of Daruma Eyes, described the “oversized symmetrical round blank white eyes” as a means to keep track of goals or big tasks and motivate them to work to the finish. The recipient of the doll fills in one eye upon setting the goal, then the other upon fulfilling it. In this way, every time they see the one-eyed Daruma, they recall the goal. One explanation how this custom started says that in order to motivate Daruma-san to grant your wish, you promise to give him full sight once the goal is accomplished. This practice might also have something to do with the “enlightenment”, the ideal attainment of Buddhism. This custom has led to a phrase in Japanese translated as “Both Eyes Open”. Referring to “opening” the second eye, it expresses the realization of a goal.



After my dismal attempt to demonstrate how to draw a ribbon, I have a deeper understanding of the phrase going back to the drawing board. Such a humbling experience to fail so miserably especially when I thought I knew the ribbon exercise backwards and forwards. My thanks to you for being willing to give it a go and figure it out for yourselves; to gain your own understanding of how to made an undulating shape in space.

Daruma is closely associated with a beloved Japanese proverb, “nana korobi yaoki” which means, “Fall down seven times, get up eight”. The Daruma dollʼs unique rounded shape allows it to return to its original position even if knocked over, representing such persistence. Daruma reminds us all to never give up. And in the case of the ribbon exercise, if you fail, fail until you get it right.

So here goes….

Ribbon_IMG_5237     Ribbon_IMG_5238





You may be wondering how to apply this exercise to your own painting.

Here are two lovely examples by Georgia O’Keefe:
Road to the Ranch – Georgia O’Keefe 1964

Winter Road – Georgia O’Keefe 1963

Coming and going the new Bay Bridge is a stunning achievement- not only in the sweep of its sleek skyway and the luminous vertical lines of suspension but also in the feeling of grandeur and openness it brings to the experience of making the crossing.
In Valediction, artists Amanda Hughen and Jennifer Starkweather create collaborative artworks that explore the layers, complexities, and patterns that comprise the Bay Bridge and this feat of engineering. Using both current and historic information, photographs, maps, and data to research a location, the resulting artworks map unique forms and patterns derived from built systems and natural movements of a place. Check out their work here: