Midwest Art & Lettering Retreat – days 1 & 2

I’ve been privileged to attend the Midwest Art and Lettering Retreat on the beautiful campus of Carleton College for a 4-day painting workshop with Diane Culhane.  It’s so much fun to be with other creatives and immerse my mind and hands in PAINT!

Here is my negative painting exercise, done on 12×12 inch masonite panel.



Background created with warm colors and some loose Mark-making


And the final piece.


Negative painting with diox purple and a dark blue.

We also started some small paintings on gessoed watercolor paper.


6×8 inches on prepared watercolor paper.

We started 12×12 inch “tree” paintings, as well.


12×12 inch tree painting, in progress


Thanks for reading.  I hope to have exciting progress to report over the next two days.

Many blessings,



God’s will for our lives is the interruptions…

I’m sorry that I don’t recall who deserves credit for that statement, but I love it.  I first heard it many years ago when my two oldest children were toddlers and the third one wasn’t yet a dream on the horizon.  It has rung in my head periodically, especially during busy times when I’ve  wished to have time for art but the demands of life won’t allow it.

Fast-forward to this winter.  I’ve been absent from my blog for work and family reasons.  Although I could rant about how busy my life is, I won’t bore you with the details.  Suffice it to say that God’s will for our lives is the interruptions.  I take solace in knowing that the time we invest in our families and community is never wasted, even if it means our personal pursuits must temporarily simmer on the back burner.

Thankfully, I have managed to sneak into my studio for a few minutes here and there and start a couple new pieces….AND manage to take a few photos!

Here is a piece that I started working on this winter, with photos from its beginning up to where it is now.


Making a mess with color and pattern. You can see the vase shape, as I had in mind to create a floral arrangement. 24×24 inches on canvas


Starting to lay in greens for background and collaging blooms.


Continuing to add floral shapes and thinking about the overall composition of the bouquet.

This is where I wish I had taken more photos to show the progression from the above photo to the current stage.


Current stage – still needs some work to add back interest in the background, and possibly change some values of the bouquet.

As stated above, this piece still needs some work.  I must say that I’ve become obsessed with painting floral arrangements and am on a quest to learn as much as possible.  I’m currently enrolled in Lynn Whipple’s amazing online class called ‘Big Bold Blooms Wild Painting’ which has opened up a whole new realm of possibilities in floral painting.  I’ll definitely incorporate her ideas in future floral art, but it was a little late for this one!

I also purchased the video “Expressive Still Lifes with Annie O’Brien Gonzales”, which is highly informative as well.  I found it fascinating  to learn about her thought process and considerations when she composes a painting.

With that in mind, I hope to have lots of new explorations to share in the near future…barring any “interruptions”!

As always, thanks for reading my blog.  Many blessings to you as you manage your own interruptions!

Until next time,




Fifty Phrases Series – #1 “Relax”

This piece was part of my preparation to send my first daughter to college, which happened yesterday.  It was also inspired by our current journey through the teen years with my younger two children, now almost 14 and 17.


“Relax” – 12x12x1.5 in. Mixed media on cradled birch panel


detail photo

This piece was fun to create.  I started with a base layer of collage papers and created a peeled paint effect with Vaseline and layers of contrasting color.  I finished by adding the stenciled word with drips and yellow stenciled designs to make the color story more cohesive.

I’d love to hear what word or phrase you say to yourself when family life gets stressful or challenging.

Thanks for visiting my blog and have a great day!


“Drippy Florals” and the “Nifty Fifty” project

Anyone who has followed my blog for a while knows that I love mixed media.  I don’t consider myself a “painter”, but am always open to a new challenge.  My latest piece illustrates this fact quite effectively.

I must admit that I’m an art book junkie.  When I saw that Carrie Schmitt was publishing the book “Painted Blossoms” this year, I knew it would be one of my purchases for 2015.

One of the projects in the book is entitled “drippy florals”, which is self-explanatory.  Here is my initial attempt…after some reworking of blossoms and the addition of leaves.

drippy floral

18×19 inches, Strathmore Acrylic Paper

This piece was created on Strathmore acrylic paper, which I bought in a 5-yard roll in order to cut it to whatever size I would like.

I wasn’t comfortable leaving the blossoms floating in mid-air and decided to experiment with creating a vase for them.


The above vase looked more like a tree trunk than anything, so I knew I would have to re-work it.


This photo shows the addition of the blue table.  I used a pink pastel to outline a possible vase shape, and also painted over some of the leaf shapes that I didn’t like so I could re-work them.


This is the final piece.  Because I know which frame I’m planning to use, I had a mat cut to fit and placed it loosely on top to see how it will look.

This project was definitely a learning experience.  I learned about color, painting and composition.  I learned that I’m a “planner” and prefer to have at least a general idea of what I want to accomplish when I start a new art piece, while still leaving room for surprises and happy accidents.  Since I didn’t have that in place when this piece was started, it created some challenges and frustration later on.

Creating this piece also prompted me to set some new goals.  When I compare this piece to those of artists I admire, I realize that they have created hundreds, or maybe even thousands of paintings.  The above is probably about my sixth floral…yes, sixth.  Therefore, I decided to create for my own development the “Nifty Fifty” project.  In the next two years, I plan to create 50 florals, 50 furry friends, 50 faces, 50 phrases and 50 abstracts.  Why the variety?  Mostly because I get bored easily and probably have a bit of ADD.  I’ll be creating pages for each category, so I invite you to visit again and check out my progress.

Thanks so much for visiting my blog.

Have a great day,


Painting Small

Every summer I envision being able to set up my easel on our south deck and paint to my heart’s content.  I envision painting large abstracts that include every color I can get my hands on.  The reality is that never happens….never!  The reality is that I’m a busy mom of three teenagers, two that are still at home.  Until the nest is empty, which will be all too soon, my first priority is my family.

So, I’m painting small.  This spring I signed up for an online workshop with Mindy Lacefield.  Part of her approach in “Primitive Portraits” is painting small for practice and experience.  I didn’t think  I would enjoy painting in miniature, but it has been surprisingly fun and educational.

I’m excited to share with you my first experiments in painting primitive portraits, which are, by definition, raw, simple and unrefined.

First I did some sketches in my sketchbook.

sketch1       sketch2

Next I sketched and added watercolor.

color2       color3


After doing these preliminary sketches, it was time to paint with acrylics.  I did about a dozen of these little portraits.  These were the four that I liked.

greengirl2x3       pink2

bluegirl2x3       victorian

The above portraits were done in Artist Trading Card size.  Two were done on Bristol Paper and two on little wood pieces that are ATC size.

bristolCards       woodpile

I purchased both of the above products at Hobby Lobby, but there are other ATC size products available online or at independent art retailers.

Here are two products I bought online and am planning to try next.

acrylicTrading       IllustrationBoard

The most recent exercise was painting on a 5×7 canvas panel.


Although this girl didn’t turn out as “primitive” as I had hoped, I’m excited to keep painting and exploring the endless variations in painting small, primitive portraits.

Thanks for visiting my blog.  I hope you’re having a great summer (or winter, depending on your continent of residence!)

Many blessings,