Wednesday, December 30, 2009


red barn in winter battle creek barn


I'm in a winter mood, I love snow and we've got a bunch of it.  On top of that this weekend's wetcanvas weekend drawing event included a barn that's here in Michigan so it seemed a good thing to paint.  That's the orange one on a hill; the other barn is from the image library on the wetcanvas site.  Getting anything any bigger than these 2x2 images done during the holidays just isn't happening.  I've got some tasks  to complete for the gallery today and then tomorrow we head north to ski in the New Year.  While we're there I'll be working on goals for 2010 and maybe some sketching but most of the time we'll be on the slopes.

I hope everyone else had a happy Christmas, we sure did!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

An Angel for Christmas

Angel Makayla

Once a week I get together with three artist friends, Annie Morgan, Brenda Mattson and Patricia Dee, in Annie's studio to make art.  All three of these artists are inspiring, especially Annie.  This month Annie, Brenda and I have been making the wine glass tea lights I told you about in my last post.  I've also been working on an angel for my grand niece, Makayla, with a lot of instruction from Annie.  It's another adventure in doll making but this time a copper doll.  Now all kinds of ideas are running through my head; more dolls in my future perhaps. 

Monday, December 21, 2009

Some Old Works & Some Christmas

I haven't been painting, Christmas gifts are in the works and that has taken up painting time.   But first, some old works... My son has been remodeling their house and they are now in and decorating.  There were a couple of  paintings from my own collection that they wanted so I framed them and gave them to them.  Here they are, you can see boats is not a new theme for me, these are oils that I did when I first tried painting back in the 60's.
helen rowboat oil fishing shack oil
and while going through old works I came across this one that I did of my mother-in-law several years back.  I think I'd like to do more people.
mother lystra sewing
And getting ready for Christmas...
My friend Annie Morgan gets credit for the idea here... we put some trinkets, beads, buttons and game pieces in wine glasses and covered them with resin which gave a flat surface to put a tea light on.  Then we wrapped the tea light hold in brass... the result....
wine glass tea lights wine tea light from top
Still more in the works and I'll try to post before Friday.  If I don't, I hope you have a Blessed Christmas

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Last week I showed you the White Doves painting.  That image is from a weekend drawing event photo by my wetcanvas friend, Connie van Winsson.  Connie is an artist in the Netherlands and I love her colorful work and thought you might enjoy it too; here's a link

This week I want to share a decorating idea.  We recently held the annual Christmas by Candle Light Program at our church.  It's for the women in our church and consists of a program in our sanctuary, this year we heard the very talented Grand Haven High School Choral Ensemble, followed by dessert in our reception center where several of us act as hostesses. 

Usually two host a table.  In my case, for the past 30 years it's been one of my dearest friends who co-hosts with me, I do the table and she does dessert.  This year she is going through chemo so my dear husband made the dessert for us.  Our table theme was gumdrops.  I found some gumdrop ornaments at the Muskegon Museum of Art last year and that was my inspiration.  This summer I dipped a zillion gum drops in acrylic, let them dry and screwed in an eye so they could hang from trees I sprayed white.  Another zillion gum drops went into styrofoam balls with toothpicks.  Here's the result.
and the inspiring ornament

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Watercolors, the old fashioned way

Od Fashioned in that I didn't pour these, I used a brush which is something I did for the first time in a long time when I took the Charles Reid Workshop.  I'm now teaching a beginner watercolor class so using a brush is a good thing to get in the habit of.  This fall scene is one I did as a demo for that class; the doves are from a Wet Canvas weekend drawing event some time back and I'm just getting around to doing it.  I can see some problems with both of them but nothing insurmountable.  I need to add a bit of color to the water just left of the birch and one of the doves is a bit too hidden. 
fall birch Two Turtle Doves

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Deer And A Work In Process

Sheri Woodard has made some adorable small deer out of sticks and she brought them to Gallery Uptown to sell.  We had a pile of larger sticks from yard clean up and I thought, why not a larger deer out of those sticks...


Pretty skinny and I may shorten those back legs.  I'm also going to paint him because he's screwed together and I don't want the screws to be quite so obvious.  Then I have to figure out what I'm going to do with him, perhaps he'll just live on my patio this winter.

My other work this week has been a demo for my watercolor class.  I wasn't going to post it until it's done and I can't finish it until the next class; however, I missed posting last week so two projects this week seemed fair.  I'll post the finish on this and the house drawing later.

birch in fall wip

Friday, November 6, 2009

A Wonky Baby Quilt

Some things I've learned this week... putting a quilt together using old flannel shirts is probably not the best idea I've ever had.  No two shirts were the same weight flannel and old flannel just doesn't stay straight to cut which means nothing is going to be straight if one stitches on one of the lines in the plaid.  It's also impossible to match the plaids when all the plaids and the fabric weights are different.  On top of that, it's been a long time since I've sewn anything that required precision stitching and I need some practice sewing a straight line.

In spite of all that, I'm happy with the quilt because it's for my grandchild due in January and the flannel shirts belonged to my son, the future dad, who wore a flannel shirt every day when he was in high school.  He's now 31 but I still had some of those shirts.  My camera didn't get the full quilt it... there's a blue strip at the top too.

flannel shirt quilt full

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Another from the workshop and a work in process

Day 4 portrait

This was my first portrait at the workshop.  I wasn't thrilled with the result but felt satisfied with parts of it.  The gentleman did have those bags under his eyes and before this workshop I probably would not have gone that dark with them.   I like drawing people, I also like sketching people.  The problem has always been painting them, whenever I do everything ends up extremely tight and the life of the piece is lost.  The only time that doesn't happen is when I'm padding a wash to a sketch.  I have a better idea how to go about doing this now that I've watched Charles work and worked on a couple myself; however, I have a long way to go.

Meanwhile a house in pen and ink.  This is something else I enjoy doing and I have an order for this one so better get to finishing it...

peggys house drawing

I have to walk by again to have a closer look at the porch.  I should be able to finish it in a couple days, then the buyer will decide if she wants a color wash on it.  Some houses are easier for me than others, because I love the house... this is one of those.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Charles Reid Workshop

me with Charles 

I had the good fortune to study with Charles Reid all last week.  I've taken a lot of workshops through the years and have to say, this was the best one I've taken.  I actually produced some work that is worth keeping and learned much that I will be incorporating into other work that I do.  Not the style, but simple things like brush work and color.  Interesting to me was that no matter if you were a beginner or very advanced, you could learn from this man and he really wanted you to get it.  The first three days we worked on still life.  My first one was not so hot but there was a part of it that turned out very nicely... I've blown that part up.

first day disaster best part of my first still life

Day two was better, there are parts of it that I don't like but overall it's not too bad.   I especially like the wine bottle and glass.

my second day still life

best part of second day still life

I still have much work to do on brush stroke and  connections but overall am happy with where I am.

Days four and five were spent on people.  I have my own way of drawing people and don't have a problem getting a likeness; however, when it comes to painting that drawing... that's a whole different ball game and I'm rarely happy with the results.  His method of drawing made painting much easier because his drawing is looser... much like my sketches but more controlled.  My first attempt left much to be desired though he was kind and found some things he liked about it.  I can't find it on my computer right now so I must have really hated it.  Anyway by day two I was doing better, slow but better.  She isn't complete but this is our model, Tracy... in real life and in my work in process....  I have her mouth too small but this is what I got done in two hours.

tracy tracy in process

I wish I could have brought him home with me to look over my shoulder while I work.  I'd love to have his wife along too as she is a delightful lady.  If you're a watercolor artist and haven't already taken a workshop from this man.... do if you have a chance. 

Sunday, October 18, 2009

I'm off to a workshop

My spouse and I will be passing in the night.  He's returning from a weekend away and I'm leaving for a week away studying with an artist I've admired for a very long time, Charles Reid.  The second book I bought on watercolor painting years ago was Painting What You Want To See by Reid.  I love how loose he works.  I don't want my paintings to look like Charles Reid paintings but I know I'll be able to learn something from him.  I'll post something from the workshop when I get back.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Two In Process

These two have been waiting patiently for me to remove the mask and I finally got to it.  Now I have to look at them for awhile to decide where to go next.  They'll hang in my studio for awhile; I'll look at them as I pass by but won't concentrate on them yet.  Usually something jumps out at me within a couple days but not always.  I'll just have to wait and see.

I've done both of these images before but smaller.  The top one is 22 1/2 x 22 1/2 inches.  The other is 28 1/2 x 22 1/2 inches.  Those grey rectangles at the top are the clips that are holding them up, not part of the painting....

race day in process


watching the c's

In addition to unmasking, I downloaded photos from a weekend in Bloomington, Indiana visiting friends.  I'd never been there before but would very much like to go again.  I loved the countryside, the limestone outcroppings gave it a texture that we don't see in my corner of the world and I love that type of texture.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A Monoprint and An Exhibit

Last week was lost.  I was busy framing and delivering paintings along with being nervous as I always am when I'm part of an exhibit.  To top it off this time I had to give a brief talk and that is something I really would rather not do.  But the week went, the opening went well.  I was one of four artists in the exhibit.  Another friend, Jackie Bonomo, was another of the artists.  Jackie and I go back to Junior High School, and this was her first show.  A couple other of our school buddies came over for the opening.  Here we all are, Jackie is in red, I'm in pink.  The next photo is me with the biggest piece I had in the exhibit.

Jackie and Helen's Art Show 003 Helen at opening

A couple weeks back I took a one day workshop in monoprinting.  It was fun and I learned a lot though my print left something to be desired.  Before going to the workshop I biked to the Farmers Market.  There were some wonderfully colorful sweet peppers so I took them along.  Here is the result.

pepper print

This week I'm working on clearing the clutter I left behind last week.   But not before heading in to Grand Rapids to see the 10 finalists in Art Prize.  A friend, Michael Westra, is one of the top 10 and I am so proud of him.  His piece truly is spectacular.  Here's a link, you can see the entry.

Friday, October 2, 2009

A quick sketch

shellys geraniums in journal


This is a quick sketch in my journal this morning.  It's an image posted by Kat Farmer, author of "Snails on my Palette," for the weekend drawing event on  I'm posting it because I haven't posted any images yet and didn't want to get further behind.  I've been working away at finishing and framing  paintings for an exhibit that opens tonight at the Gallery Uptown here in Grand Haven.  Kat has posted a couple other images that I like and I may get to one of those after the opening is out of the way.  For those of you who aren't familiar with's weekend drawing event, every weekend one of the artists hosts by posting 15 images.  The rest of us have 30 minutes to select an image to work on and then we work for two hours.  At the 2 hour mark we post our progress, some are finished, some are not.  That's ok, if it isn't done you post that it's a work in progress and post again when it's done.  It's not only a fun project for the weekend, images are for any of the artists to use. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Chance To Win

Not my art but a piece of art by one of my favorite contemporary artists, Diahn Ott.  Go to her blog, here's a link, Art by Diahn, you'll see some work she's thinking of adding to her Etsy shop.  Vote for your favorite and leave a comment there telling her what you chose and you'll be entered into the weekly drawing for one of the prints. She'll be selecting two winners next Friday from among the comments.

Hmmm.... I wonder about adding a contest to my blog.  I know a lot of folks read it but not many comment, maybe some sort of contest would be an incentive.  What do you think?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Dancers and some other things

dancers 2 

This one is a poured piece that has been mounted on a piece of wood and then I put an acrylic glaze over the top to protect it.  I learned about the technique from a friend and decided to try it.  I'm not sure how I feel about it... I do like the painting.

This has been a busy week and I was thinking I didn't have any new work to post.  That is until I actually started to think about posting.  I have this piece hanging on the wall waiting for it to let me know where to go with it.  This is part of my Sacred Spaces Series

bells and courtyard

And last night I did another tempera resist piece experimenting with drying with a heat gun between steps.  My Creativity class starts tomorrow night and this is what my students are going to learn to do so I wanted to know if they could be finished in the time frame we have... they can.

tempera resist fish

And, on top of these projects, my husband and I spent a couple days in Chicago... camera in hand.  I'll share a highlight, the Sears Glass Tower, that's my foot just so you can see why I got such an unusual view of the city...

Sears tower and footfrom sears tower

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Studio Tour and a sketch

The camera has been found.  Some might say this studio is still a bit messy; however,  I work on a variety of things at once and they are out while I'm working on them, to me this is spiffy.  The first photo is what you see when you walk in from the house.  That's commercial size jelly roll pan on my easel.  Since most of my paintings are poured so that's my support, it catches the paint (which I save one way or another.)  The table under the larger window is where I do most of my drawing and work on fabric collages that become pins.

enter 1 enter 2

The right side of the island is where I mask for pouring and do the tempera resist paintings. The small white cupboard holds tools and supplies for dolls heads.  The rest of the doll construction takes place in my sewing room in the basement.   To the right of the cabinet is the matting and framing station. 

enter 3 enter 4

And here are a couple views if you come in from the outside.

 french d enter 3 french d enter 4

I am fortunate to have a small office too.  Here's a view of that.  Notice the coffee table, I am so in love with that.  My thoughtful son gave me a type box for my birthday one year and I built a coffee table using it as the top.  I have another one that's larger and someday it's going to become a desk I think.  My computer and files are on the wall that you can't see.


Now that it's all clean the challenge is to keep in that way.  Having some clear surfaces gave me room to work on a couple pieces but they aren't done yet so I won't post for a few more days.  I did get some quick sketches done for a commission I'm working on.  I do pen and ink drawings of homes; I especially love to do older homes and this one is a folk style home that has been lovingly restored.  The sketches are pencil in my sketchbook... just trying on views.

Peggy's house rough sketch

Sunday, August 30, 2009

More Tempera Resist and Thoughts on Sorting

Does anyone else find that when you organize things and give everything a home, a day or two later you can't remember where that home is.  That's what has happened here and it happens so often.  I've put my camera somewhere and right now I have no idea where that somewhere is so I can't show you what my project has been this week... project clear clutter and find homes for the clutter that can't go away and then clean... I'm not done but even with one more surface to tackle it's looking so spiffy.  Now if I could just remember where I put the camera I could take a photo and show you how spiffy.  Oh well.

I did do some more experimenting with the tempera resist in between clearing clutter.  I came across a drawing I had done for a lesson from a Charles Reid book and decided to see how it would work using the tempera resist technique.  Not too bad but not there yet.  Another piece I came across was a drawing of some bottles.  I've used this image a lot and thought it might just work for this technique.  I think it's more successful than the Charles Reid lesson.

tempera resist ala Chas Reid tempera bottls

When I find the camera I'll post my nice spiffy studio...that is if it's still nice and spiffy by the time I find it.

Monday, August 24, 2009

More Tempra Experiments

I'm excited; Lisa Medendorf has been writing a column for the Chronicle about local artists in their studios.  Next week she's coming to interview me. YIKES... I need to get my studio straightened up a bit... well actually a lot.  That's probably a good thing because right now I need to be painting but haven't had time to clear clutter off my easel.

I have had time to do some more experimenting with the tempra resist though.  This time I did some stamping with the tempra before inking.  Step 1 was the stamping and putting a bit of tempra down along with it.  Step 2 was the inking.  Step 3, I drew the pears and added some color to them.  Step 4 was to add liquid frisket (masking gum) to parts of the pears.  Step 6, more tempra.  Step 7, ink again.  Here's the result of that process.

3 pears experiment

The next one was another attempt to add words, this time by stamping.  Here's the result of that


I'm quite pleased with how they both came out.  I think I need to hang the breathe sign where it will be visable to me regularly when I'm in my cluttered studio. 

Monday, August 17, 2009

Using a Tempra Resist

Annie's Coffee small
Here I go again, off on another new experiment.  I wonder if it's my ADD.  If I see a new technique I often have to try it.  This is one a friend showed me last week when we were painting together.  I loved the look when it was finished, the look of a woodblock print, so had to try a few more.  I had limited success.  Here are a couple of those.
tempra wine Pear 1
I liked them well enough to give it another try.  I wanted to know if I could get just a wee bit more detail which would mean I may be able to put some words on a piece and actually have it look decent.  This weekend the WetCanvas WDE included a street musician so I tried him with decent results. I think I liked him better before I added the color and I see the tape didn't work well; however,  it's an experiment... Charles Reid says we need to learn to accept our mistakes.
street music tempra step 4 street music tempra step 5