Folk Art Inspired

Inspired by a trip to Guatemala where folk art abounds.  Wooden carvings depicting saints line the perimeters of places of worship.  Each one intricate yet primitive, made by hand and paying homage to a person of the past.  This is a page in my art journal, a photo image transfer technique upon a page layered with white gesso, acrylic paint and mark making.  Using personal photographs for image transfer gives special meaning to a journal page.  It is a one of a kind picture from a point in time.  A memento of time and place identifying somewhere along the way of life.  I wanted to share this with you for inspiration for a journal page.  Make a copy of your photograph, a laser copy works best.  Those are done at your local print shop.  Paint a layer of gel medium on the page and place your photograph copy face down on your page.  Burnish, and burnish some more until the ink from the copy starts to release.  Once it has released, remove the copy and your image appears.  Most of the time, it is not a perfect release and therein lies the beauty of this technique..imperfection and a weathered look!  Give it a try and see the endless possibilities of ways to use your personal photos of faces and places. Let me know how it goes!

Bumper Stickers Rock


I just had to snap a pic seated on the bumper of this van loaded with stickers…crazy and fun!


Nothing says spring like pink tulips.  Winters are long here in CO and tulips do not grow well. In fact we rarely have spring.  So when friends came over with these tulips in hand it tickled me pink!  I hope you are enjoying the season of new beginnings, and as my 86 year old dad always says….when you’re green, you’re growing!  Simple but true.

Art Journal Class Re-Cap

Spring 2018 Art Journal Class at Bemis

A M A Z I N G       W O M E N       M A K I N G      P A G E S  

It’s all about words and using them for expression.  The first prompt involved making strips of printed deli papers and Citrasolv pages from National Geographic magazines.   These papers were collaged onto the back page with a word holding special meaning..a word to carry with them for the rest of the year.  A cover of tea stained muslin stamped with a stencil and some stitching for flair was added with brads over the last page and another stencil used on the adjacent page.

Fabric and stitching add a unique texture element to art journals.

Expressive underpainting was the first layer, gray tone painting to define organic shapes, and then journaling with a white gel pen.

Paying tribute to a favorite artist gave everyone the opportunity to discover..maybe a new artist or one that had been a favorite for a long time.  One student chose her mother and when she showed the page to her children, they immediately knew that their grandmother was the chosen artist!


From Klimt to Van Gogh, Cezanne to Ansel Adams, Flavia to a beloved mom, and a few others, these pages reflect a tribute to an admired artist.  Looking at another artists work and techniques provides ample opportunity to learn about process, color and brush strokes.

Here is a tribute to one of my favorites…Vincent Van Gogh!

Making and using personal stamps with sticky back foam and a wooden block.

This was inspired by Marks in Place..a book dedicated to the photography of  ancient marks made by native people in North America.  For centuries mankind has used tools to make marks in stone.  We still enjoy the process of designing and making marks! We made ours in the art journal.

Each page tells a story and offers a chance to discover something new.  Whether it involves a technique, a color, a word, or reflection working in an art journal is pure delight.  No pressure just expression and fine tuning the creative muscle.  The best part is meeting others who enjoy making art, sharing stories and celebrating one another’s creativity.

Creative hands playing with mixed media and bringing beauty into our world!

Lots of love and expression goes into these art journals!  They are an artifact of our journey in mixed media and exploring new frontiers.  Thanks for stopping by!

Demo painting tip

When teaching a painting class I like to paint my demos on newsprint coated with clear gesso.  How many times have I bought newsprint for a class and never seem to use it up.  This is a great way to upcycle those pads.  Using a foam brush, coat the newsprint with clear gesso and it removes the porous quality of the paper and gives it new life!  Now acrylic paints or inks or all matter of mixed media can be added to the paper.  I really like this technique because when teaching I prefer to focus on my students and their work. Painting on newsprint gives me freedom and I am not as invested on what is on my easel, rather I am more engaged with what is happening on yours!  And if my painting worries, I can toss it or rip it up and use it for collage.  Painting on newsprint coated with gesso requires a board with clips to hold it in place.  Any big box craft store has them and it fits perfectly on my easel.  Let me know if you give it a try and how it works for you.

Expressive Florals at Bemis

Expressive floral painting is all about discovery.  Letting your creative intuition lead the way and learning to trust the path.  This painting was done by an experienced artist and the focus was painting with a palette knife.  It was a new pursuit and look at his success!  We started with a layer of clear tar gel and beaded gel medium, by Golden, dribbled and scraped across the canvas.  Using clear tar gel medium is one of my signature starting points as an instructor and the outcome is always successful. It brings a subtle element of texture to the painting.  The added beaded gel medium by the artist was stunning on this floral painting!

The clear tar gel is easily seen in this photograph and it added a layer of interest to a lovely painting.  The application is unplanned, random, and free flowing.  After seeing the great results of adding the medium, this student said she would like to add more clear tar gel to her canvas next time.  Sometimes taking a risk, moves an artist in a new direction and the process opens a door to new sparks of creativity.

It is a privilege to be on staff at Bemis teaching art!  The joy is overwhelming and I am so grateful for this opportunity.  And now with the Colorado College alliance, it is a top tier venue in all aspects.  My students are talented and creative, with an eagerness to learn and push their art in new directions.  Sometimes we just need to trust that still small voice that says, “This might work…what if I try it?… YES!” It is all about fine tuning our creative instincts and honing this skill is a life long process.

No matter ones age or background, artful expression brings a unique experience to life.  The time melts away during class, and before we know it, two hours have flown by.  It is such a gift to ourselves to slip some creative time into our busy lives which are full of obligation and domestic chores.  Making time for art in any form whether it is as a maker, or an observer never comes back void.  Life is richer because of the experience!


“Nobody sees a flower-really-it is so small it takes time-we haven’t time- and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.”  Georgia O’Keeffe

Making time to paint…opening our eyes to see the beauty in a flower…letting our creative intuition be the guide…holding a brush…finding just the right color…stroking the paint on a canvas…seeing the image unfold…tweaking, highlighting, darkening, pushing ourselves and our art in new ways.  We are never done, we are always on the climb, looking for new vistas, navigating the frustrations and rewards, each time reaching a different level.  THIS is living a creative life!!!  Thanks for stopping by, leave a comment and share your thoughts about the creative journey.  I would love to hear from you.  We learn and grow from one another.  Cheers…hope to see you in class one day!

Happy Easter

Peace be with you….


The Duomo in Florence, Italy was completed in 1436. A feat of architecture that still baffles many as to how the dome was constructed.  This cathedral is one of my favorites, a masterpiece of beauty and engineering… the art of man unto The Savior. To take this photo I had to walk up a tiny circular staircase in the tower next to The Duomo, hundreds of steps.  But it was so worth it!!  Cathedrals are fascinating and to see this one from a unique vantage point was incredible.   They are massive, intricate, and impressive with their adornments of glory and honor.  Today we still have many churches, not quite as fancy as the Duomo, yet they still offer glory and praise not in the form of a structure rather through active worship.  Maybe you find yourself wondering what Easter is all about.  Is there more to it than dyed eggs, chocolate bunnies and jelly beans?  This coming Sunday, Christian churches all over the planet will be opening their doors to persons of faith and seekers.   Maybe instead of just passing by, follow you heart and venture inside. In our present age there are churches a plenty; in shopping centers or schools, cathedrals, some are small or large, ornate, or plain, they are readily available. No matter the building, let your heart lead the way and rest assured…if you seek, you will find!

she found her way

A page in my art journal..moleskine watercolor journal.  Layers of collage including vintage text, and snippets of paper.  I remember exactly where I was when I created this page, a little casita in Taos, NM.  After a day of painting in a workshop with Gwen Fox, one of my favorite mentors, I came back to the casita and began playing in my art journal.  There is something magical about the light in Taos, it is different than any other place.  It is no wonder why so many artists love going to NM and discovering for themselves what it is all about.  I know I do!  “She found her way” was my response to the workshop and new things I learned about painting.  Each brushstroke of color and how it is placed on a page is an expression, unique to a moment in time.  I was thrilled this page was published in Art Journal magazine, one of Somerset Studios publications.  The beauty of art journaling is the freedom it gives us to explore, play, paint, and be ourselves on a page.  To enjoy mark making, writing words describing our thoughts, painting with the colors we love, accessing our creative expression readily are all the reasons art journaling is so popular.  See for yourself and join me for a class in February 2018!  “A101”  at Bemis Art School – Fine Arts Center – Colorado College.


Expressive Florals Re-Cap

Student work from my Expressive Florals class.  Close up of blossoms painted with bold brush strokes, and texture.

The first layer was clear tar gel, applied loosely across a blank white canvas.  You can see slight traces of it in this photograph of a student’s painting.

I taught the class in the painting studio of the historical Bemis Art School at the Fine Arts Center at Colorado College.  You can see the top of the FAC in the window.  Lots of space, individual easels and natural light made for the perfect setting.

Before we start painting, several weeks are spent warming up to the shapes of blossoms.  This exercise was done in an art journal; layers of text, paint glazing, patterned tissues and then completed by painting a flower as the finishing touch.

Each student has a personal style.  As an instructor I aim to encourage discovery and allow a student to develop their unique creative expression.  Each of us is wired with creative intuition, we just need to learn to trust it.  This only occurs by actively engaging our creative muscle.  My class, Expressive Florals is a safe place for students to discover their creative language.  It does take time, but just look at these amazing paintings, some students had never painted before!  When there is no pressure, or focus on perfection, we find our natural FLOW.  And when we move out of our comfort zone…that is when the magic happens.

Text can create a lovely layer in an expressive floral painting.  Take a look at what his student created.  She hand wrote meaningful words on a piece of thin drafting paper and added it as a layer.  It was a beautiful and bold addition to her painting.

To start with a blank canvas can be intimidating no matter how long you have been painting.  With the first layer of tar gel, then a light blue grey underpainting, the canvas is no longer blank.  We also add big blocks of neutral color, and then sketch the blossom image with charcoal on the canvas.  This helps break the ice and eases the pressure of beginning the painting.  Also several weeks of fun and useful warm up exercises in the art journal help set the stage for a successful painting.


Pushing and pulling color is part of the process.  In other words, darkening and lightening areas to create pops of color.  Expressive painting is a “loose” process, quite different than a botanical painting or the wonderful floral still life paintings of the Dutch Masters.  In my class we paint from photographs, and also I bring in fresh flowers for inspiration.  We are not trying to paint every nuance of the blossom in Expressive Florals.  It is more about expression, brush strokes that come natural and interpreting the blossom in a personal way.

Stencils….yes!  I love to encourage the use of stencils, a serendipitous layer that adds interest but does not detract from the florals.

My demo painting from a magazine photograph.

Please join me for Expressive Florals (A 41).  Next class starts 3/1/18 to 4/12/18, Thursdays, 10-12pm.  Register at Bemis Art School at Fine Arts Center at Colorado College.

Hope to see you in class!!!  And even if you have taken it already, come back again, there is always a new expression waiting to be discovered.

Ghost Ranch, NM

It was a “girls get away week-end” and we arrived in the early evening, after spending the day soaking in the mineral waters at Ojo Caliente.  My friend Pam and I just wanted to have some quiet time, away from our normal life routines, and experience the wide open spaces of Ghost Ranch.  The roads from Ojo to the ranch were winding and everywhere the scenery beckoned a closer look.  “…The skies and land are so enormous, and the detail so precise and exquisite that wherever you are, you are isolated in a glowing world between the macro and the micro.”  -Ansel Adams

This was our room, up on the mesa.  At night the quiet was thunderous, a roaring silence unlike anywhere I had ever been.  Not a dog barking or even a cricket could be heard…it was a quiet to contemplate, no noise of any sort, a quiet to allow into the soul and think back upon when life roars all around.  I wanted to save it in a jar, like the lightning bugs we caught as kids, and open it up when I needed a dose of Ghost Ranch!

It was Georgia O’Keeffe’s backyard where she spent years painting and living in this remote land.  I am so captivated by her lifestyle, her art, and the dedication she pursued in painting.  She had a vision, and was true to herself.  The world interpreted her work through their paradigms… she did not intervene or acquiesce to their interpretation.  She remained in her own flow and personal truth.  I read that from the first time she came to New Mexico she stated, “I loved it immediately…from then on I was always on my way back.”

Behold the cerulean blue skies!!

The vast spaces and landscape are beautiful, so many vistas to capture with my camera.

“From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind; From his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth – he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do.” Ps 33:13-15

Located in a small rustic adobe casita, the Ghost Ranch library is a special place.  Filled with books from floor to ceiling on a variety of subjects, open 24 hours a day, an original card catalog system for keeping track of books which you check out on the honor system, it is a place for seekers.  I am drawn to books and libraries and always seem to find just what I am looking for even though it is serendipitous!  Naturally I discovered an amazing book in this quaint place and wrote down many quotes in my journal. 

“The painting is like a thread that runs through all the reasons for the other things that make one’s life.”  Georgia O’Keeffee

This is how she lived….this is how I want to live.

Ghost Ranch is filled with many gifts.  A place for creativity, reflection, discovery, and contemplation.  There is something sacred about it, not in the religious sense, rather in a raw, unaltered, perfect sense.  I think that is what I found most attractive and perfect.  It is simple. Adobe architecture accompanies the landscape and does not draw attention to itself. It is a place for subtle transformation, quiet reflection, conversations and making art, prayer and laughter, and discovery that can only take place when we step back and open our eyes.

A place I am on my way back to. 

If you like the western landscape and Ms. O’Keeffe’s work, put Ghost Ranch on your bucket list, it surely will not disappoint.

Art Journal pages


Each page tells a little story…reflects a mood….or an inclination….or takes a scrap and makes it new…a bag from a purchase turns into a she dots page….something leftover from a class I taught becomes a she loves page….a clean up wipe becomes part of a cherish the moment page…a new feather stencil becomes the star of a collaged page….discover the beauty of keeping an art journal…try it…I guarantee you will like it!


Painting “Ingenue”

Take a peek at how “Ingenue” came to life…

My process for “Ingenue” started with an underpainting of clear tar gel and expressive brushstrokes of acrylic paint.  This is truly an intuitive process and I love to paint blocks of color in a pattern.  I also think about analogous and complementary placement of color and let the drips fall in a random fashion.  I particularly like the organic nature of clear tar gel and this application gives just the right texture. The substrate is a 12 x 12 x 1.5  gallery wrapped canvas.

Painting the figure always requires careful observation of proportion.  Though this is an abstract expressive painting I did want the proportions to be correct.  It took me quite a bit of time to iron out some of kinks and I went back and forth on her body type, shape of her torso, and legs.  I loved her stance.  She is ready for what is next…and as the artist, I really had to let her lead the way.  With this type of painting, I did not have a photo for reference since it comes from my imagination.  I rely on letting the painting process bring the image to life.  At times it can be enormously frustrating and I recall many hours of painting and re-painting to get it just right.  At one point I had made a change that was totally wrong and it threw me into a tailspin of emotion.  I pushed forward, changing shapes, pushing and pulling the image to where she needed to be.  This is the agony and ecstasy of being a creative.  It is not an easy process but each time a break through happens I feel the painting achieves a greater depth of expression.

The background always presents a challenge for me.  I love pattern, design and am striving toward the balance of just enough.  At this point I have framed the image and let the square canvas shape dictate my placement of color.  I was not liking this look, too boxed in, too predictable.  Also her short hair was not working.  The vibrant color on her body was good.  I loved the pieces of underpainting that appeared when the negative space is painted and the figure defined.  Still…she is pushing me toward something more.

Quite a bit more!  After seeing Diana Krall in concert at Red Rocks I was inspired to give “Ingenue” longer hair.  During the concert, a slight breeze kept swishing through Diana’s hair.  The movement caused an almost ethereal atmosphere on the stage. Diana kept tossing her head to keep her hair away from her face, it was so beautiful, simple and sensual.  I came home and immediately changed “Ingenue” and gave her hair new dimension.  As I pushed and pulled color, I noticed how the clear tar gel became more evident in the background and I liked seeing it as part of the design. Pops of color around the edges helped to unify the painting and invite a lingering view.  The little surprises of design around the image require a closer look and are part of my signature expression.  “Ingenue” was painted specifically for the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Gala silent auction.

She developed slowly…like a Polaroid photo.  She is engaged, complex, and bold.  Her eyes are covered because she cannot see into the future.  Yet she is eager to step out into the world and make a difference.  Her story is our story…

The Gala was a wonderful success!  “Ingenue” made her debut with over 70 paintings from brilliant and talented artists from the Pikes Peak region.  She was purchased during the silent auction by a patron of the arts.  Someone who has an appreciation for handcrafted works and thankfully someone who likes my style.  As an up and coming artist  I am honored and deeply appreciative “Ingenue” has a new home and can bring joy to those who enter into her presence.  May her story continue to inspire!