Figurative Abstracts

Chris Carter’s sketching in the dark


Hopmonk Tavern crowd, sketched in the dark by Chris Carter.  For more see her blog post

I am of two minds


acrylic and Citra solved collage on w/c paper, 10 X 11″

I am of two minds.

I am of the mind that looks into dark spaces and shines light there.

I am of the mind that rests in darkness, seeing the light outside while not feeling a part of it.

And where these two meet I am of the mind of the explorer scaling dangerous peaks to discover the region where darkness meets light and the two sides finally know each other.

Hu-Man Angel


Acrylic and collage on w/c paper, 10 X 11″

 He shimmers on the threshold, this Apollo, this David, this hunk of man flesh.  The winged guardian knows a human angel when she sees one, knows he needs her blessings, for there is no loving among humans without the duel pain of longing and loss. Meanwhile lovers stroll in moonlight, offering prayers to each other, with a reverence born of pairing.

Honestly, I do not seek to either scandalize or incite the passions with this bit of naughtiness.  There are simply times in art play when certain images seem to belong together.  The “assignment” was to take a picture and glue it onto the paper and continue the image out from it onto the larger paper using paint and collage and line.

When my husband saw this piece on my table, he said “When did you catch that picture of me?”  Always the joker!

Artist’s Reception at Talisman


Artist’s Reception Friday, January 24th, 4:30-7:00pm

Talisman Wines Tasting Room

13651 Arnold Dr., Glen Ellen, CA

Please join us for the reception this Friday, the 24th! The tasting room art gallery is featuring 17 of my original nature scapes, figurative expressions and giclee prints.  You’ll love their Pinot Noir wines and warm hospitality!  My book Conversations with the Muse:  The Art Journal as Inner Guide will also be available.

Alis Grave Nil


“Alis Grave Nil”, acrylic, image transfer on textured canvas, 20″ X 20″

Alis Grave Nil (Latin)   Nothing is too heavy to those who have wings.

Perhaps that’s just for angels, or perhaps it speaks to our angelic nature, represented here by a cherub who is bearing something on his back but doesn’t look burdened.

Why not sometimes imagine those wings sprouting and lightening your load.  Isn’t that after all what sleep is about?

Exploring Gouache in a Workshop


The Chef, watercolor and gouache on hot pressed w/c paper, 7 X 7″

Last week I attended a 5-day workshop with Donna Zagotta, whose vibrant opaque watercolor paintings I’ve admired for years.  A departure for me from my more abstract mixed media work of late, but a good opportunity to try an opaque medium which lends itself well to the kind of figure work I still love.

I took this picture of the smiling chef in Cecil’s New Orleans Bistro in, of all places, Garberville, CA this summer.  We had just raved about the food, thanking him profusely, and the memory still lies sweetly on my tongue and in my gut.  A good circumstance for the creation of a painting.  It’s not done, might never be to my satisfaction.  The painting of it was more about mixing my watercolors with white gouache and trying to keep the water ratio down and get the pigment to settle onto the slick paper.


“Quartet”, w/c and white qouache on cold pressed paper, 6.5 X 9″

This is the kind of scene one often finds with two couples where the wives sit together in animated conversation and the men start to feel irrelevant.  Of course that may not have been what was happening at all, but then it’s my painting.  And besides, that makes for an interesting focal point and color story.  I was trying to go more and more abstract, bouncing the color around to entertain the eye.  The facial tone going from green to yellow to violet to red.

This painting started with an all over glaze of Opera watercolor.  In opaque watercolor the white is paint, not the white of the paper.  And it takes a lot of paint, sometimes several layers to get there.  I like that you can at any point change your mind and wash off an area, then repaint it again.  The woman’s red face had at least eight changeovers before I was satisfied.

I also like the soft edge quality of working with gouache.  Drawback is that you may never feel that you’ve finished because there is always something you could “fix”.  Also, you wouldn’t be able to add collage or other mixed media techniques because the paint lifts off when it is rewet.


“Pink Shoes”, gouache on acrylic/gessoed glazed cold press w/c paper, 9 X 8″

For this last painting of the week  I started out with gessoed cold press paper (for more tooth which I needed) and a glaze of opera acrylic pigment. Then I used almost all gouache pigment to paint the figure, squeezing out the creamy pigment onto a white tray so there was no digging into palette wells for it.  This was a lot more fun, and that way I didn’t run as much risk of mixing too much water into the pigment.  Gouache goes beautifully over an acrylic surface and is so easy to lift and change.  Perfect for quick sketches as well as “serious” paintings.  Another tool in an already bulging tool box!

Thank you Donna!

Figure Marathon Continued

Watercolor and w/c crayon

More quick sketches from the Bay Area Model’s Guild Marathon last weekend.  In these 5-10 minute sketches I painted some watercolor wetly onto the surface to get started, then drew into it with w/c crayons.

Here, a second little swipe of color to define the shorts, but taking care not to overdo. . .which is my tendency.

Watercolor wash, Derwent dark wash pencil

The model is taking her clothes off over her head.  I left the ambiguity there, but had to paint in the red bra, which she was wearing.  She also had black and white striped stockings!

And one last sketch (below), I started with the two slashes of watercolor, with some loose idea about joining the two figures, then sketched them in with my Uni-ball pen. The hot slash of color across the woman could refer to her reaction to him or possibly how he sees her!  Definitely some connection here!