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Painting with Friends

Rodolfo’s Demonstration
Oil on linen
9” x 12”

It is always more fun and motivating to paint with others. Thank you, California Art Club, for scheduling events. I painted this at the Muckenthaler Cultural Center on Sunday September 29th 2019. Not only did they schedule a paint out but they had a duel oil demonstration with Rodolfo Rivademar and Lilliana Simanton. I watched both for a while then I toured The Muck to see the California Art Club’s Autumn exhibit. Both the demos and the exhibition were great. Suddenly, I was no longer tired. I ran to the car (in a dignified manner) and started on Rodolfo’s Demonstration.

Why do you like painting in plein air (outdoors) with others?

I love seeing other peoples’ gear, which mediums they use and loaning out a jacket or a wad of shop towels, so they can continue. The camaraderie is also vital. I know my husband and two daughters are bored by talking about linen vs. canvas or which brand of paint is best, but your fellow artists can tell you what they like and why.

Why not just stay in the studio?

It is important seeing how artists start a painting. I can ask questions at the demonstrations, see how they make their strokes, what mixes they make and even how they hold their brushes. I can talk with other artists and find out how they start. Do they jump right in? Tone their canvas or sketch first? No matter how they start, it allows me to determine if I am painting in the most efficient and joyous way.

Why is it important to stay positive?

Hey, it’s not easy dragging all of your gear out, finding a spot or motivating yourself to paint. Sometimes, nothing works but keep positive about it. Focus on one positive thing, “I made new friends and I did my best” is usually what I keep telling myself, if I am having a crummy day. No matter what, become a cheerleader for yourself and others and guide conversations towards a positive outcome. Why? Because it is easier to stay in bed. It’s harder to become disciplined. Keep doing your best, no matter what you do!

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Cleaning Out the Studio

or one woman’s journey down the rabbit hole of organization

Camp Comfort (working title) 8 x 10 oil on canvas panel

The great artist is the simplifier.

Vincent Van Gogh

The above painting was recently found in my archives. This painting has everything I love about painting outdoors. It is loose, confident and dramatic. This is a sneak peak as I am working on a title and it will soon be entered in an upcoming show. It is low resolution, before the final signature.

Painting is how I express myself. What is your favorite way to communicate? Is it through music, storytelling or baking? By the way, if it is cooking, I could really use some help. Cooking is so boring to me. Apparently, our youngest nicknamed our skinny cat Stir Fry. I thought it is because he is so skittish, “No, it is because it reminds me of your cooking, burnt”. Well, I can’t argue with that, he does resembles burnt rice. Reading about painting while cooking is apparently not the best way to cook, who knew?

Wait, weren’t we talking about cleaning the Studio?

Right, right one of my goals is to become more organized. It is a process. I have attempted this many times but now I am cleaning out the studio. There are a lot of old paintings, sketches and experiments that are no longer where I see my paintings going.

Experimentation used to be a big part of my process but it also slowed me down. My focus is working on composition, mood, brushstrokes, glazing, all to create more interesting paintings. Once I decided that was my goal, it started getting easier. So, now I work primarily in oil, with a little gouache on the side for miniature work. Acrylic is what I use for warm ups and with my students.

So what is the problem?

Focus is my problem! To fight this monster, I decided to go back to the basics and use a combination of low and high tech tools to help me. I know these are simplistic but if I can concentrate on painting, instead of looking for the next submission deadline, or where my notes are on a painting spot, that clears my head and lets me concentrate on what I need to do.

Make a plan!

Here is my super secret formula:

  • Yellow legal pad – write it down and cross it off this is so satisfying
  • Clear out the almosts – some of my old work had to go but anything that started a flood of images, I photographed it before tossing it. It could become a super painting yet!
  • Use the computer for good – creating files, labeling images, blogging and journaling. Basically anything to get me away from loose paper and make it findable.
  • Keep the best of the best -date it, bubble wrap it and take high quality pictures to keep on hand for upcoming shows. Also keep a log of where it is.
  • Develop a critical eye – this is getting easier by asking myself questions. What do I find exciting to paint? What time of day? What type of scenes? Listening to people at receptions and getting critiqued by other artists are all part of the journey.
  • Journaling – self discovery is hard work but writing really helps me focus
  • Enter shows early – I am excited about the next upcoming show to put this strategy in use. My computer was incredibly slow, due to all of my pictures and it used to be full of viruses (6). My husband cleaned it and 8 hours later it works! I missed two deadlines because of it.
  • Use a wall calendar – I resisted this for years but I now have a big ugly calendar and it is helpful.
  • Digital calendar – yeah, it feels redundant but it helps with using the alarms and reminders.
  • Framing supplies – keep extra supplies on hand so in case one frame gets damaged you can use the next one and repair the other one later.

Thanks for stopping by, and share your stories with me, I would love to know how you organize your projects, who knows, it could help.

Take care,


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How to Paint Happy

Painting is hard. Don’t make it harder by reciting negative mantras.

No one starts out hating art

When we first started painting, we were full of wonder. Swirling paint, mixing colors and creating storylines was enchanting. We made all the things we loved: trees, rainbows and smiling people holding hands.

Then we look around and spy some one doing it better. That’s all it takes to cast doubt and our creative spark wobbles.

The truth is that the amazingly gifted kid, simply put pink flowers in the foreground of a dark painting.

All of this happens in grade school! So when your seven year old shows you the painting he made, he worked on it just as hard as you did at your job that day. Take a moment and say something intelligent. Ask him why he chose that color or ask him to tell you the story of his painting. Listen and learn.

We are all learning so be nice to yourself, celebrate your victories. Getting your gear together is a victory. Organizing the studio is a victory. Get into the habit of complimenting yourself, your friends, the mail carrier, a waitress because we all need a little happiness to continue. That way, when someone compliments your work you won’t be thrown off balance. Say thank you and how much you appreciate the compliment. Anything but, do you really think so? I messed up the water and the trees are all leaning to the left.

Wow, that wasn’t what anyone expected to hear. I whoop or hop, sometimes I do a little dance. Sure it looks mad but I am experiencing joy, so why not?

People have come up to me and asked me who I am talking to? This usually happens when I am working out a tricky bit. I laugh and tell them what I am actually doing.

Look, people don’t know how to talk to artists and their only references are from sitcoms and their friends that paint to relax.

I tell them. I am trying to pick out a color for the shady side of the rocks that is a bit surprising and fun.

Now back to my dance off with the cat.

Stay positive and paint happy

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Time for bed after painting this fun nocturne

It is so wonderful being awake and painting late at night. No one stops by selling me services, no cars are honking and even the dogs dream. Blissful silence.


The Fishing Boat Returns, oil on panel, 11” x 14”

This painting just got accepted into Harbor Gallery & Gifts in Ventura Harbor Village. It will be hung on September 27th.

The painting is 11 x 14” and is oil on panel. It’s wonderfully gushy and swirly. .

Nocturne’s are really my thing now they are just so yummy.

A nocturne was first a musical term. Now, it is also a painting term. I am part owl, so it works for me.

I painted this while a couple was Pokemon hunting and we visited for 20 minutes. We had a nice chat. Then I did another version in the studio. Now I am off to bed so I can look fabulous for my acrylic demo today at 2 pm. Thanks for stopping by.

I will post more when I choose the perfect frame to compliment this piece.

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Today I am painting at the LA County Arboretum & Botanical Gardens

Wow, what a place this is! It’s hard to believe that I’ve grown up in Los Angeles County and now, live in Ventura County but I’ve never visited this place! It is astounding to see the variety, care and planning they’ve put into creating the gardens.

Off on another adventure

I’ll post even more pictures later. Here is what I am working on first. Then I’ll be back tomorrow! Really, it’s 127 acres of sheer beauty.

Time to add more sass and work on edges and such

Do you know what arboretum means? Woody plants. That’s what it used to be- trees and shrubs.

When I asked for directions from Siri, he asked (haha, I changed Siri to a man), “Did you mean- LA County Arboretum & Botanical Gardens?” Yeah, that one. They had to add botanical garden because it is so much more than trees and shrub now. There are flowering plants, exotic plants and er, crazy looking plants. More later.

Psst, Don’t forget about my demo on Sunday in Santa Paula California, at 963 Santa Barbara St., in the Old Train Depot. We will be on the top floor and the demo will be from 2 PM and go till 4 PM with a nice snack break in between. I’ll even bring some small paintings that will be for sale.

Rolling Wave, acrylic on illustration board