mixed media workshops

Workshops This Spring!

It’s a busy spring season coming up, and I’ll be doing what I enjoy most – sharing approaches to painting and spreading my own creative wings with like-minded people! Hope you can join me.

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For more information about these workshops and to register visit my website!

Seb Arts Opening and Healdsburg Jazz

Tomorrow night, Dec 2, the Sebastopol Center for the Arts will be hosting an opening of the annual member art show 6-7:30pm with wine and appetizers and displays by the teachers who will be offering workshops in the new year.

I have a piece in the show, but will also be at a table sharing my sketchbooks and Muse Group art books along with information about two weekend workshops I’ll be teaching next year at the Center: Quick Capture Sketching in Ink and Watercolor and Experimental Mixed Media Painting. For more information about these workshops you can visit my website or just come see me at my table tomorrow evening.

Last week Bob and I attended the Healdsburg Jazz member party and were treated to the Latin grooves of Carlitos Medrano and the Cuban Descarga.


fountain pen and watercolor in 7 X 10″ Stillman and Birn Beta sketchbook

Can you tell how intrigued I was by this singer, especially her generous shape and those fabulous boots? Years ago I gave up wearing shoes with more than one inch of heal in the interest of comfort, but I can still enjoy how they look on other women and wonder how it’s even possible to walk in them.


You can never see all the musicians from where you’re sitting, but that lends itself to the process of vignetting and designing interesting edges that don’t touch the sides of the paper. I like the larger size sketchbook, but don’t want to take the time in my quick sketching to fill the surface with paint. Highlighting the skin tones and instruments tells the story will enough. And I find that most Jazz musicians wear a lot of black, a difficult color to pull off in watercolor. So I clothe them in white!

New Monday Muse Group!

If you’ve been following along here and gotten a taste for the Muse-filled mixed media paintings, I hope you’ll think about joining us for the Monday Afternoon group in my studio in Sebastopol, CA.

Frankly, although I’m the teacher of the lessons, I derive much of my inspiration from this spirited group of artists who are constantly forging new territories and together creating an exciting creative space.

For more information visit my website and let me know if I should save a space for you!


Crackles and Strings

The Monday Muse Group’s lesson this week explored acrylic gels and pastes, that bewildering array of white jars one encounters on the shelves of art stores. I occasionally buy a new variety on sale and it sits on my shelf until I get around to trying it out. So in the class demo I used my crackle paste and tar gel.


crackle paste, fluid acrylics and inks, collage on w/c paper, 10 X 11″

This must be the track of my daily circuit. Just try to follow the logic of it. Like a snail’s glistening trail it leads you in circles and gets you lost.

But still, it does fascinate. . .for a while. . .in a way. There are subdivisions, categories, directional flows, but it is loathe to be labeled or pegged or directed by external forces, driven underground by such demands. . .slippery, like that snail, (though perhaps not as slimy).

On the jar of Golden Crackle Paste the instructions read “Apply to primed rigid substrates. . . Allow three or more days for curing and cracking.” I find that being loathe to be directed by external forces, I tend to ignore directions.

So here’s what I did in the example above. Using a stencil I scraped the crackle paste over the openings (squares) and leveled the top with a palette knife. The layer was thin enough that I didn’t run into problems with putting it on a paper surface. By the next day the surface had cured sufficiently to give me some marvelous cracking patterns, which I painted over with flowing transparent pigments that settled into the cracks nicely. I also applied a top coat of matte medium which hopefully will keep the paste from flaking off. So far, so good.


Golden Clear Tar Gel and fluid acrylics on w/c paper, 10 X 11″

The description on the jar of Clear Tar Gel says “Generates fine lines by dripping from a palette knife or other tool.” If you want to try the Liquitex brand, it’s called String Gel but is the same thing. It reminds me of mozzarella cheese when it’s melted and you pull a slice of pizza off the mother pie and a long string of it is still attached. It’s hard to feel in charge of this medium, but if you want to practice with it, you could actually write your name or draw a border on your paper like I’ve done here. It’s fun to apply lots of transparent layers. I’m going to save this one until I know what to add next!

By the way, we do a different mixed media lesson each time in the Monday Muse Group and at the moment we have one opening for a drop in. The session runs weekly through the end of October. Visit my website for more info and to contact me about joining in.

Take the Lid Off

For over a month I stopped doing my mixed media paintings. Workshops finished up in July – the trip to Ireland and England with lots of watercolor sketching – the post trip exhaustion and need to archive. How to start up again?

Well, if I don’t know the answer to that question then I must be a pretty big fake, because I’ve been focusing on the movement of creative energy in myself and with other artists in groups for years now.

You can write in your journal about creative stasis. You can read books about it. You can complain to your husband or friends about it or get tired thinking about it and have to take a nap or eat a piece of cake. I have done all of these and more in the past.

So to get re-started I engaged in the most basic-of-all practice of. . .JUST DO IT. (after I’d done some lovely studio clean up first!)


And while I was painting I started getting those little bursts of energy, like little electric shocks, associated with thoughts about what I could try next.

My wonderful Muse students were not here, but I did the 5 minute free write we always do and here’s what this piece said:

Time has come to take the lid off and watch what comes out. The lid? The false notion that my responsibilities to family and home, personal health and well being, financial necessity and more are keeping me from the Muse.

She has been waiting patiently for me to give her the time and space and the attention. Maybe she has been in some other artist’s studio where there is paint and paper and brushes for her to take up. But the stone has come off the opening and she is flying out. Will I be able to catch her or allow myself to be caught?

My Artful Muse workshops are starting up again this month in Sebastopol, CA. Hope you can join us. The group energy is irresistible! For more information and to register visit my website.