Tribute to Monet # 11

monet 11 Another beautiful small 6 by 8 inch painting. It’s part of my series ” tribute to Monet” these paintings are all water paintings and they have all been very different. Some are very realistic, many are impressionistic and this one is leaning towards abstraction. Ya never know what I’ll paint, so plan to come back and see what’s up for tomorrow. $75.00 oil on canvas.

Collage Journal #2


Not for sale but I would be happy to tell you how you could make your own.

This is the cover to a journal.
I made this today in preparation for a collage demo I’m giving on Tuesday. It has papers I created with tissue paper and acrylic paint. In the center there is a watercolor paper insert which I painted in WC but used a transfer from my sketch book. I also used wallpaper, around the edge I think they call it grass cloth plus various tapes and screens for texture.
If I cover it in UV varnish it should last many lifetimes.
Oh yeah… I forgot to mention…
I covered the whole thing in “Golden” Soft Gel Gloss.
The actual journal was a “composition book” you find in any drug store or school supply for $1.00. It has lined paper inside which is nice for notes, recipes, journaling and even some creative writing.

Koi, Koi, Koi


Koi, Koi, Koi

Oil on canvas panel 8 by 10  $95.00


I painted this from an idea I had for another painting which was to be an abstract…   I like dividing the space almost equally but  think in my abstract painting, I’ll use three different colors.  Not only different but not all from the same side  of the color wheel… I’ll try to have a greyed color from the opposite side,  maybe the piece will have a bit more of a resolution.

Ancient Ritual 117 Sold


4 by 4 watercolor on gessoed masonite…. abstract $25.00

This series explores the use of ritual in our lives to mark the passing of time and events in our lives.

I enjoyed my self doing the demo at cheap Joe’s today. I will be teaching a class there soon, email if interested in joining the class.

shipping is 5.50

A workshop DVD review

abstract01bigThis review of an instructional video was written by my good friend Adele Greenfield.     I thought you might like to check this video out.  I have used this approach in the past and it’s a good way to paint an abstract design if you feel your stuck or blocked, it may help you get a jump start.     John Salminen, AWS, DF, NWSA Designed Approach to Abstraction Review by Adele Greenfield John Salminen’s video should come with a warning, “Watch the first part of this DVD passively and you will miss out!” His is no ordinary demonstration. You’ll take a journey into abstract shapes and values and learn everything you need to know about design. He invites you into his world and, at the beginning, it’s like he’s beside you every step of the way as you draw with him and design your painting with him. The key words here are “with him.” Yes, it’s the next best thing to his being in your studio, holding your hand to start you off and get you into his process so it becomes your process too. While he takes you step-by-step at first, don’t panic. This is definitely not a cookie-cutter approach, stifling your creativity. He helps you make choices that keep your work intriguing and varied so you have a wealth of shapes with which to work. You’ll look for irregular, unpredictable, and oblique shapes, dealing in pure abstraction with no recognizable subject matter. With his examples, you’ll know exactly what he means.The beginning is structured so you’re comfortable enough to get to the place where you can become painterly and . . . creative. Once you have your design, then it’s time to watch him assess and refine his piece. Here, it’s up to you. Pause and go to your own painting on occasion or watch it straight through to see how he works, taking in his many lessons like how to knock back intense areas, “sealing off any exits,” and avoiding monotony.John says that every strong painting begins as a strong design, the common language binding all styles. Value is his favorite design element and he describes his paintings as “value dependant.” Closely related middle values can make a piece glow and are the strength of watercolors. Watch as he introduces intermediates to add transitional passages, helping you move from dark to light areas. You’ll see how he works with the 9-Value System, from the lightest light (white of the paper which is number 1) to from the darkest dark, number 9. In every painting, he says that we have an obligation to fully represent all the values we’re capable of, including the very dark ones, which many watercolorists shy away from. State the extremes, even in a high key piece. But there needs to be a visual linkage, a visual pathway, among the various shades.John’s approach to beginning the painting is unusual, using tracing paper and then transferring lines and shapes that produce surprising results. Tracing paper gives you layers to work with and lifting a piece isolates various shapes.First, you will make some simple linear drawings and he gives you specific criteria. He’ll show you how to combine them and you’ll see interesting shapes come together in an unpredictable, random manner. Then you’ll make decisions – light, medium, and dark values. And again, he explains this thoroughly so you cannot possibly go wrong. During this process, he throws out valuable bits of information such as “even when it’s broken and fragmented, the eye will follow a dark shape more than it will a white shape. Keep the light shape intact.” He helps you focus on the relationship of shapes, illustrates ways to provide a visual pathway, and points you toward your center of interest, telling you how to make that area sing. Following the mostly 80/20 ratio, he spends time explaining and demonstrating dominance, curvilinear and geometric shapes, and the use of warm and cool colors. Among other things, he’ll show you how he masks areas, lifts paint, and adds calligraphic lines. John discusses the difference between a trick and a technique and then emphasizes technique, integrating a little collage, incorporating texture, and creating a push/pull illusion. He likes putting dark acrylic into a corner, turning it into a black void and giving the piece much depth. Then he shows you how to smooth out the surface with a dry brush. You’ll also see how to use a mouth atomizer, the most effective way to spatter, and even how to sign your name.Once you get used to this way of working.  You’ll never be stuck for an abstract design idea. And when it comes down to it, even the best realistic painting has the underpinning of a good abstract design.

The Struggle

Most artists struggle. Either they can’t seem to get down their vision of what they want or they don’t know what they want, (they’ll know it, if they see it). I think this struggle is part of the process. Its too bad because of this constant push/ pull it sometimes seems not to be worth the effort. Its why some people give up doing their art. Also, I see people giving up their art because they don’t have enough buyers. Buyers equate “good artist”. No buyers (not counting family and friends) means not a good artist. This definitely is not the case.

We live in an age when people will buy a Persian rug for their dining area, cover their sofa in silks, and import tiles from Italy to decorate their home tastefully and expensively, yet these same people will have pictures of art rather original art on every wall in their house. They will pay more for a custom frame and mat then for an original piece of art. Go into any model home these days, same thing, prints everywhere. (Please, I have nothing against prints.. so don’t write me justifying your print purchases) Most from 18th and 19th century artists. I guess they feel pretty good or safe rather, that this art cannot be denied as good art. It has stood the test of time. The truth is… I think people don’t trust their own judgement when it comes to choosing art. They need someone to tell them what is good art. All they have to do is trust their inner voice that says “I love this” but they don’t trust that little voice so they listen to experts…But who? do you trust Gallery owners? Especially when they are getting 50% of the profits? Do you trust your own decorator who is going to choose a piece of art because it matches a sofa? You have to admit, even I may not pay some of the high prices for some art, especially when it appears to have been painted with a stick or a rag. People don’t like to be taken advantage of and they don’t like to admit they don’t “know” art. The other problem is a simple one, people don’t appreciate original art in the US as much as in many other cultures around the globe. Now as in the past, Art was OK as long as it was something to do as a hobby but not as a career. It isn’t real work. We have a very strong work ethic in this county and some parents often put creativity in the back seat while encouraging productive hard work, left brain thinking.

So, if we don’t buy original art and we encourage our kids to do anything but become artists, and we don’t support the arts in schools what we are we saying?

Its no wonder today’s artists may feel as though it isn’t worth the effort, that the struggle to produce good art is just that, a struggle. As an artist I’ll remind you, of a few important things.

1. Its takes a very long time to become proficient at something as complex as art.
In fact, if it were easy, would you still even want to do it?

2. Don’t take the advice from lay people. They won’t help you, even if they have good intentions.

3. Be a lifelong student, don’t plan to figure it all out right now. It really is about the journey not the destination. Its a journey for one, just you.

4. Do whatever you enjoy doing, even if no one buys it. Hey, its cheaper than therapy.