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!

Just Imagine

The possibilities for finding our creative voices are endless.  With paint splashed across a page in my art journal, (extra palette paint always finds a way onto a blank page) waiting for something to happen, the process begins.  Usually there is not a plan, at least for me it works that way.  I let the paint, wherever it has been brushed onto the page and the color be my guide.  It is amazing how something so simple can be so much fun and work our creative muscle too.  By starting a page with utter abandon I feel free to paint from an intuitive place.  I think that is why so many of us are drawn to art journaling, we are keenly aware of how making pages enables us to TRUST our unique, one-of-kind, beautiful creative intuition.  This page started with Quin. gold paint, and Pthalo turquoise, layers of text from a  vintage encyclopedia, a rectangle piece from a larger painting that failed, a floral drawing, a couple of stencils and stickers, acrylic glazes and then journaling with a paint pen.  When I look at this page I remember how it felt to let my imagination run free and to let the art just flow.  Learning to trust our creative intuition is the first step to becoming authentic with our work.  Indeed, the tools of the trade such as drawing skills, composition, value, and color are vital…there is no way to side step those skills.  Creative intuition that is cultivated and worked and trusted combined with an understanding of the “must haves” is what makes us whole.  When I look back over history and see the masterpieces of Matisse, O’Keeffe, Monet, and Picasso, each one is so different.  It truly is a visual array of imagery, each one with a different voice, yet trusting what they know to be “theirs” as right, and enough.  I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get stuck right there in a place when I start asking myself is this okay?  Is my art good enough?  Is it unique enough?  How am I going to stand out among the crowd of talented artists and let me just say right here, there are A LOT of talented people in the world!!!  When that starts happening I remind myself to enjoy the process, keep learning, experimenting, doing what I love, read inspiring blogs, stay true to my creative intuition, create more pages in my art journal, and pray.  Before long, I am back at it, having fun, painting, playing, and onto my next art piece.  How do you move over these little bumps in the road on this artistic journey?  Please let me know, and as always….be true to you.

Art Show at Fine Arts Center


The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center



DSC_0003The Permanent Collection has some beautiful pieces by Dale Chihuly


The Native American Collection is extensive also..DSC_0015




And there is a portrait of General Palmer’s daughter painted by the one and only John Singer Sargent.

Arthur Dove’s Foghorn is part of the permanent collection.  He was pals with Georgia O’Keeffe.


The Bemis Art School Gallery is currently featuring an Instructor show and that is where I come in.  I am so honored to have several of my paintings on display in the Fine Arts Center in the company of other talented instructors.


TA-DA…here is my  “Land Secrets” and “Mixed Messages”, mixed media paintings.


A glimpse of the gallery which is on the second floor of the museum.



Paintings and ceramic pieces by fellow instructors.


I am literally over the moon to have several of my paintings on display during this show and for them to be in the same building with the likes of those artists I have mentioned and others such as Gustave Baumann, Georgia O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams is just plain WOW!!! It is a highlight of my adventure as a creative and a once in a lifetime event.  The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center has been purchased by Colorado College and the future is sure to be exciting and at the same time uncertain.  But at this moment in time I am thrilled with the opportunity to have my paintings on display and look forward to the next chapter of this amazing place. 





The building is magnificent.  Alice Bemis Taylor, philanthropist and patron of the art complex, chose John Gaw Meem as the architect and it was his crowning achievement.  It was completed in 1936 and for its outstanding design Meem received the silver medal from the Fifth Pan American Congress of Architecture. The Fine Arts Center and The Bemis School of Art, which is housed on the north side of the building, is a jewel for my hometown.  I am over-the-moon ecstatic to have my paintings hanging on the wall of the Fine Arts Center, it is more than a dream come true…literally beyond anything I could have imagined.  Having spent most of my adult life in Colorado Springs, attended numerous exhibitions at the Fine Arts Center, taken classes at Bemis as a child, then later as an adult, taken classes together with my children, taught classes to youth and adults as a Bemis Instructor, it is indeed a rare privilege to be entwined with this institution.  If your travels bring you this way or if you are local, please stop by the Fine Arts Center and see for yourself this incredible arts complex.  And be sure to take a peek at the Bemis Gallery on the second floor where you will be see pieces by folks like me! The show runs until March 13, 2017.



butterflyThis piece has been accepted in the Manitou Springs Commonwheel Artists Co-op show entitled  Recycled Art.   The stubstrate is a vintage piece of sheet music.  When the pages are closed, the title of the music Forest Sketches is visible, when opened the mixed media of Wings appears.  There is a story behind this piece of music!  While poking around an estate sale in Denver I discovered a stack of vintage sheet music and also learned about a woman named Lois.  She had been one of the first medical missionaries to China in the early 1900’s.  Her hands had played this musical piece  as well as skillfully healed the sick.  She was a true ministering angel!  I used a Cathedral themed stencil with acrylic inks and paints as the first layer.  With white acrylic ink I drew the angel and added hand painted pieces of paper as wings.  Words are written on top of the wing and also  around the angel.  The opening reception for the show is October 21 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.  If you are in the neighborhood please stop by and say hello.  To enter a piece in the show, it has to be for sale.  I was reluctant to enter this piece because I love it so much.  Time will tell if someone else loves it too!!!

Land Secrets


DSC_1058Here is a close up of a painting that I just completed.  There are so many layers of paint on this canvas, it is unbelievable.   I started by painting loosely and letting my muse out to play.  It sounds fun, and it is, but let me just say once the figure emerged, the design and color scheme became challenging.  It was a constant push and pull of color and shapes, and finding a balance of the two.  There is a small bit of collage that I left without paint, the word earth…and a bit of Hebrew text.  When the shapes began to form, the painting looked like land masses viewed from an airplane window.  I enjoyed the process of letting the painting give me direction, being free to apply paint and then cover it up leaving just a small glimpse of the previous layer.  This created a depth of experience for me as the artist, and also invites the viewer to come closer and see the elements of a hidden layer.  The intent of my painting was to capture the essence of land masses, and the secrets held beneath the top layer. Whether gifts of nature or the work of man, the land beneath our feet is full of secrets.

Celestial Bottle

DSC_1026Upcycled glass bottle, collaged with pieces of vintage sheet music, angels, papers I found in Florence during my travels, acrylic paints, and beaded embellishments.  This piece has been submitted to an upcoming juried show at The Commonwheel Gallery in Manitou Springs, CO.  In a few weeks I will see if was accepted, sure hope so!  I learned the process from “Bottle Art For The Soul” an instructional DVD purchased from Artful Gathering 2012.  Using a bottle for collaged art is an interesting concept and fairly easy to create.  I enjoyed turning the bottle, looking at each side to make sure the artwork and collage flowed around the piece.  Soft gel matte medium adheres the first layer of white tissue paper to the bottle and after 24 hours of drying time, the rest of the collage elements can be glued with matte gel.  Once dry, acrylic paints highlight the surface, and finally the beads are attached to the top. It takes several days to complete and I suggest collaging several bottles at a time.  The piece looks great displayed on a bookshelf or on a dining room buffet.  This particular design has an old world flair which I love!  I plan to make a few more to sell at the Bemis Instructor Sale in December.


Lilly's Gift

Last week the Gifted and Talented Art show took place at the Bemis Art School.  Classroom walls were filled with amazing art done by elementary aged artists.  From O’Keeffee inspired batiks to fresco paintings of Fra Angelico scenes, to native people inspired weavings, Van Gogh starry nights, Aborigine dotted paintings, Antarctica dioramas, and Zentangle Zebras… Art Around the World pieces made by these little creatives gave all a glimpse of their talent.  Toward the end of the show, one of my students presented me with a lovely gift,  a picture made just for me!  With it’s bright colors and symbols of artistic expression, it has a special place in my studio and heart.  Thank you Lilly for using your creative talent to make this piece… it brings me great joy!

Travel Pages Class Re-Cap


DSC_0713The first application was to cover chip board pages in white gesso and then a layer of hard pastels in various colors was added just before the gesso dried.  Acrylic inks applied over stencils created another layer.



Students travelled through Europe visiting a myriad of countries including Prague, Germany, Scotland, England and Iceland.  One page was dedicated to creating an acrylic painting.  The results were stunning!



An Icelandic landscape and a Picasso inspired painting.

DSC_0715 DSC_0700 DSC_0716 DSC_0723 DSC_0725

With travel and exploring new places there are ample opportunities to collect photographs, maps, museum brochures, postcards, and a whole host of ephemera.  Pages are the perfect place to use these found papers for collage.  Combined with acrylic paint,  one-of-kind papers made from National Geographic pages using Citrasolv, and stencils, each page becomes a work of art.  The best part is…  subway ticket stubs, a bakery paper holding the croissant purchased while waiting in line to see the Eiffel Tower, a leaf picked up while walking through a park in Austria, or a paper placemat  from an Indian restaurant in Maastricht…they are FREE ephemera and make for the most interesting collaged pages!


Photo image transfer gives each page a personal stamp.  As pages take shape with layers of mixed media techniques something special happens…the opportunity to savor the places we have been.  Our memories come alive through the process of art making. Visiting foreign lands are life changing experiences and the visual feast needs to become more than just a memory, it needs to be shared as an artifact.  Creating travel pages is just the place for this to happen.




Whether it is Medieval art or postcards from a museum, it is all fair game for creating travel pages.



DSC_0728Fused shopping bag makes for a great journal page. With an iron on a medium setting, place 3 to 4 bags together with the “star bag” on top. Lay parchment paper on top of the pile of bags, and parchment underneath the bundle. Iron away, slowly, to fuse them together.  Trim to the right size, and hole punch the edge… wa-la… a page of texture and a reminder of shopping at Harrods!

DSC_0780Photo image transfer with acrylic paint and some vintage letter stamps, a family heirloom one of the students brought to class for all of us to use.


DSC_0781Letters made with clear tar gel and acrylic paint.

DSC_0782Stencils and drips make for interesting backgrounds.

A little Monet inspired painting


DSC_0744Teaching Travel Pages was a wonderful experience for me, and the pages created by each student were full of interesting subjects, techniques, color combinations, and layers of collage.  Every student had an approach that reflected their personal travel experience.  Each page was unique and demonstrated a flair for using ephemera from their adventures to make artful pages.  Maybe it is time for you to pull out those maps, brochures, postcards, photographs, ticket stubs, crumpled napkins, and found papers to create an artifact of your travel escapades.  It is easy to put a travel journal together using some of the techniques I have described, it just takes time, a precious commodity…but it is worth the effort!

Travel Pages Journal

DSC_0434Take a peek inside my travel journal pages.  This journal was created with ephemera, found papers, and purchased postcards from my trip to Europe.  The countries visited included The Netherlands, Paris, Spain and Italy.  Fortunately we have a family member who was  a pilot for NATO and had a lovely flat in Maastricht, Holland where we had our home base.  From there we travelled to neighboring countries, mostly by air, and a quick road trip to Paris.  It was the trip of a lifetime. 

DSC_0435The first time I saw the Mona Lisa was at The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. It was 1967 and I was in 2nd grade.  Jackie Kennedy was instrumental in bringing the masterpiece to the nation’s capital and fortunately my mother took us to see it.  Even at a young age I found the painting intriguing.  Seeing it again at The Louvre was meaningful and reminded me of how influential art can be at any age.  I loved standing in front of this fine lady fifty years later!


DSC_0437I am using a chipboard kit by Recollections for Travel Pages.  First I gessoed every page and added a light color of oil pastels.  This helped tone down the white and I used a variety of colors, scraping the pastels over the almost dry gessoed pages.  There is a layer of liquid acrylic paint that coordinates with the ephemera.  LADUREE is a fabulous macaroon shop and restaurant in Paris, the page is made from the bag which held my delicious macaroon purchase.  It was amazing to find a coffee shop in Paris that carried Guatemalan coffee, my husbands homeland, so I had to include part of the bag from the coffee we drank.  These paper treasures are perfect for collage and spark memories of time spent travelling.


We visited Spain also; Barcelona, Sevilla, and Granada.  I love Cathedrals. They are intricate, and majestic.  The Sagrada Familia designed by Gaudi is unique because of the light which enters the interior space.  The stained glass was abstract in design and there are not enough adjectives to describe this magnificent structure which by the way is still being built.  My travel journal included a background using a stained glass page I drew in another journal.  The black and white photo of the interior of the cathedral was altered using colored pencils.  The postcard was purchased but most of the other ephemera came from bags, brochures and freebies.




There was a quaint little shop in Maastricht that sold buttons, trays and trays full of beautiful buttons.  This one found its way onto my page as part of a small envelope closure, naturally it is on a page dedicated to the Netherlands.  And how about that great restaurant…Spice of India where we enjoyed a delicious family dinner nestled along a cobblestoned street in Maastricht.


The Van Gogh museum was filled with the colorful and textural work of a native son of Holland. The museum paid homage to this versatile artist who was way ahead of his time. We spent hours admiring the collection of paintings and I took a bazillion photographs!



The Anne Frank house in Amsterdam…the words on this page say it all.  A moving and informative tour.  The beauty of making travel journal pages is having a place for creative expression using words and mixed media.


Sari ribbon to attach ephemera on a page and found papers for collage.  Lots of Quinacridone Nickel Azo Gold paint by Golden in this journal.  It is the perfect color for transforming pages.



This is a inkjet copy of a postcard bought at The Uffizi in Florence, altered with colored pencil.  The background is a cathedral series stencil applied with liquid acrylic paints.  A little Conte crayon applied around the image to help sink it into the page.


I like to include a few photos in travel pages, here we are by the Arno River in Florence, at dusk.  The Recollections kit came with a couple of photo pockets which I altered with Conte crayon and washi tape.

DSC_0459This page is an altered mailing envelope, painted, stamped with Da Vinci text, Florence stickers and specially made collage papers.  The horizontal accents were created by dissolving the ink of pages in a National Geographic magazine with Citrasolv.  The papers are perfect for adding interest and design.





DSC_0464While walking on the streets of Paris, my stepson’s friend asked me, “Do you collect anything in particular?” Indeed I do…was my quick reply.  Paper, all kinds from all sorts of places…cafes, museums, hotels, maps, ticket stubs, even rubbings made on vellum paper while walking around the Cathedral in Sevilla near the spot where Christopher Columbus is buried.  And who could imagine the paper pocket which held a warm croissant from a tiny Parisian bakery would be so colorful and intricately made?  This is the composition of stash which has lovingly been put together to create pages of art, and a bundle of treasured memories.