Sunday, October 30, 2011

HALLOWEEN TREAT # 2... with tricks because it's a beehatch to download all the photos on Dial-Up....

This has a story too. (what doesn't in my life?) Anylongtimeagoinanotherlifeway, I volunteered in a local school that had a fantastic theatre division. I offered myself to design sets and costumes for them. The RAINBOW PAINTER was the name of a play they put on and many years later I used it as the basis to create this costume. I even painted a pair of old boots in rainbow colors but I think those left the premises when the young lady cleaned out my tickle trunk a week back. I even made up 'business cards' to hand out. Those are gloves up at the top......not a wierd wig.....
What a stickler (anal) for detail.

Costume Number 3. THE WEDDING DRESS
Yes and seriously, this was my wedding dress some 16 or 18 years ago......time is blurring the memory of getting married. (That's my story and I'm sticking to it) Anywho'scountingway, it is showing a bit of wear and tear after becoming a costume fav. But look at that hand painting.....taken from an old silk kimono I had from my Mom's estate.....long long ago.
Painted with fabric inks......such a pretty thing. In need of a good cleaning I see!

Costume Number 4:  THE MEDIVAL GOWN

I did awesome amounts of research on medival dress for this costume I recall. And another 'not for Halloween' outfit. One of the best birthday bashes I ever went to.....with throwing food around and all that kind of silly stuff. The outer dress made from an old shower curtain. The inner dress is of velvet and stretch lace....and yes not really accurate time line fabrics but the design is true to that.
Queen of recycle, me.

AND....Costume Number 5 ...last one because it's taken me @ 4.5 HOURS to download all these pics...thank you stupid dial up.....THE COAT

Those are real shell buttons....found at a second hand store. What is very hard to show is that I 'embossed' the velvet patches by ironing over a pair of very cool metal art earings I had. Appliqued with beads. I wore this to my eldest son's convocation from NASCAD. (Nova Scotia School of Art and Design)
There are actually about 5 more costumes but that's all I have patience for right now.....maybe, if you're good and don't knock over the outhouse, I'll post them tomorrow......


Remember how I promised you that I'd post pics of my hand-made Halloween costumes? I did, too. Here we go my lovelies! (that should be heard as extremely cackle screechy witch type voice) There's lots to see and this might have to morph into a two-part post. (....or three, or four....)
Let's away then.

What a costume this was to make! All those leaves are appliqued on. The 'critters' are hand painted onto fabric and appliqued on. BUT! And this is a great story: this costume was never created for Halloween. nope, it was done for a friend's 50th Birthday bash and since he was an old logger everyone was asked to dress apropos to that. All folks came as 'loggers' EXCEPT for your truly who came as the TREE HUGGER......only party that I ever went to where I was basically ignored.

The 'interior' of TREE HUGGER. You can see the great owl I painted. I think this was my favorite bit.
This is the back of the 'cloak'.  Gives you an idea of how much sewing was involved. And some more of the 'critters'.
Now: the BEST part..........THE HAT!
This is a good close up of the 'nest' and, yepper, it was all hand done! I have HUGE respect for birds after that! They have a beak and, apparently, I have opposable thumbs, 4 fingers and big brain but, even so, my nest looks like a drunk and drug addled zombie created it. With lots of glue.
The leaves were appliqued over the head part of an old baseball cap - I cut off the bill. Really - this is some art work.....I keep it hung up on the wall.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Ch-ch-ch-anges Part Something or Other (4?)...... You know the drill

By all that is artistically changeable - lookey where we are now.
As you can see, we've taken a whole new direction and changed the legs/feet completely. I took the pic of the painting with all the 'correct-o change-o' bits visible. In the finished piece, most hopefully and I should know what I'm doing you'd think, you should not be able to tell where all these new bits are. (remember 'Pentimento' from a few posts back? This is generally how it happens)You've gotta hand it to Acrylic for offering one of the easiest to change mediums around. BUT! (and this is the part you need to pay attention to, kids) You MUST take out as much of your 'old' work as you can.
For me that means scrubbing the canvas with one of those very rough synthetic pads to get as close to the original canvas surface as possible. This can be tricky and often you can destroy a work by scrubbing too vigorously and thereby going right through the canvas and leaving a hole. *GASP* (and you will)
And that pretty much is game over for ya. Although Robert Genn did give a great tutorial in repairing of torn or damaged canvases and I admit I've tried his suggestions a couple of times. One worked (a finished canvas that tore slightly after a gust of wind smacked it down off the display easel) and another one where I did scrub too hard and left a big hole along an edge, did not. (and that fix-up was a big FAIL.)
The biggest reason for scrubbing out as much of the old painting part, is that if you just paint over it, you will end up with visible 'ridges' where the old lines were and that just looks crappy. Let's not mince words. You can see in the above that there are tell-tale parts where the old sketch is quite obvious....but I wanted to show you what I meant. I will be rescrubbing after this little tutorial.  The other reason of scrubbing down is for the texture. Canvas, unless you've gesso'ed it with 5 or more coats, (and some artists do) retains it's 'rough' weave texture. I happen to like that texture. I mean, I paint on canvas so I'd like it to appear genuine. This is a personal preference and you can most certainly choose your own way.
That's the nice thing about Art in general.
Anypayattentiontotheteacherway, I'm wa-a-ay happier with the layout of the figure now. Before with those 'akimbo' legs it just looked...well, awkward. I even tried painting in a stool but that sucked. There is a better flow and balance too.
And we all need that, don't we.
Stay tuned!
ps....I want to add that after you've scrubbed out the old, you will 're-gesso' that spot. This is to 'match' the original pristine surface before all this fol-de-rol change-o scrubbo happened.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

If I Had A Hammer

All of a sudden I'm transported back to the 'Easter Be-In' at Stanley Park in's that 'header' and look! I'm using, yet again, an old song as my title.
I'm sensing a trend. case any of you dear readers have found me through my web site or perhaps have tried to find my web site, I'd like you to know I'm busy beavering away on a whole brand spankin' new  site as we speak.....well, ok, not actually as I'm typing this right now but let's pretend we can bend time and space for a bit....yes and moving right along, we (that's the royal 'we) are constructing a new site that is just beyond all the bells and whistles cool. Ok, actually that would be my super master Gallery Guy Mark that's really doing it and I'm pretending I know what the paintbox he's talking about. Today I get to put into action all the tutorial zingers he's been flinging into this old brain and 'do it myself'.......if you hear faint screaming later this might be me as I writhe in tormented agony of figuring out how to click the right app.
Anywearenotthetechgenuisway, in a couple of days you will be directed to the new site via a linkup and the web addy will also direct you there. Everything a click away.
Stay tuned.......

The painting: "Picasso Under Construction" by Nancy Albrecht circa 1967. I was surprised to find my Google search 'under construction' actually show paintings with that as the title.....and this one was the fav. First because it's Picasso and second because it actually and truly is 'art under construction'. Way cool.

I'm just noticing I use 'actually' way too much.

Oh and it's and the old link of will still work too.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Ch-Ch-Changes part 3 ( see previous previous post, if you will....)

...and as you can see, further refining happening! The feet have been reworked to a more believable porportion - the original ones seemed almost like 'Gumby', you know, st-r-e-t-c-h-e-d out to resemble flippers just about. And the left side leg given a new angle so not to appear as though the model was lifting up for a fart......yes, well, that's what it looked like to me. The hands are more dynamic  and we've started in on the background. I've 'wetted in' the hair, ie: applied a wet brush to the pencil crayon outline of the hair - (did you know that pencil crayon on canvas can be used like watercolor? And this is just your ordinary Crayola/Laurentian/Prismacolor type of pencil crayon. That's where the idea of 'watercolor' pencil crayons came from. It works like that on canvas because primed canvas is 'waterproof' in a way. The wet pencil crayon color just 'sits' on the surface of the canvas. If you like this kind of effect as a finished style, you must coat the painting with an acrylic varnish to keep it from damage - it is a rather 'fragile' medium. ) This helps define where the hair is and also to give me a 'color hue' to balance out the background color of the foliage against. ....where was I....?......oh, and we are slowly working on the folds and drape of the skirt....not an easy thing to do.
Things still bothering/not working for me:
1. The 'pears' which look more like avocados...perhaps because I have some in my fridge that I look at each time I open the fridge door so that 'colors' my vision. I'm going to give them a yellow wash to see if that helps. this is a glazing over of a watered down color...I'll use a value 9 yellow and that is a yellow tending towards the 'cool' side of the color wheel. (and you thought it was just slap on any old thing that looks good. No, no, that's how I get dressed, not paint.)
2.The mouth. Surprise! Something in the face is bugging me.
3. The bottom line of the skirt. I think it needs to look stretched out across the lap as well.
OK.....that's how it goes dear keep refining and looking and working and touching up.....the REAL trick is to know when to stop.
Always something.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Color Changes part 2 (so you have to read the previous post first or else this makes no most of the blithering I's a gift)

...and here is what we came up with.
That's more like it.

Ch- Ch- Changes

La-HAY-dees and Gennulmez! Step right up and play SPIN THE PALETTE!

Today I thought I'd give you a glimpse into the 'process' of how a painting gets 'worked' out - so to speak. (Sit up straight, kiddies!) As you can see, being as it's right in front of you, this is the latest painting that is currently on the easel and I'm , per the usual arteesty way, waffling in color choices. Originally I started out with the subdued light blue-ish background and was ok with that but last night, after looking at the painting all day, (it's a I said), I thought it needed some 'punching up' and so switched into the reds and cadmium yellows to try that out.
Well, I'm not really getting the 'oh yeah!', reaction I want.
So today I'm switching up the color choice completely and going into greens........we shall see.
Anyhorseofadifferentcolorway, this is one of the great things about acrylic, in that you can just paint over what you want to change.....wouldn't it be great if it was as easy in Life. Not saying you can't change your own personal canvas but the 'process' does involve a few more tools than a #10 flat head brush.
I'd also like to point out for many of you who think artists just sit down and - hey presto! - have a painting just whip itself out, this is far from reality. (although I may add that occasionally, every once in a blue moon, this magic can happen)
We would wish for a speedier resolution to painting but perhaps this re-working and experimenting with elements adds to the 'wow' end product we all hope for. I am being forced (really! forced!) to draw a parallel into the 'changing canvas' of myself at this juncture; and am musing on the amount of 're-works' I have applied to selfsame and figure by the time I am ready to pass from this earthly coil, I may have gotten it right.....
Moving right along.....there is a decided bit of bravery too in being willing to go in and change up a painting. It does not always work (I promise to post all my 'mistakes' someday) and you are left with the horrid feeling that what originally started out as a really great idea, is now, sadly, really awful.
But you just start all over again and , who knows, that next one just might blow out the stops!
There you go.
Lessons from the palette.

p.s......Anyone else notice that I am really stateing my age by all the choices of songs as titles I use?
Ah boy......

Friday, October 21, 2011

Life Imitates Art

When I get an idea for a post to write my usual first step is to find an image that will 'illustrate' the storyline or, at the least, have something to do with what I'm blithering on about. Today's topic is all about the myriad things I am doing all at the same time.....we do love multi-tasking but every once in a while it seems really a bit much.
Anyandawaywegoway, imagine the complete delight of your author when I found this painting titled; without exaggeration and I am serious as art show judge;
"The Antique Juggling Girl".
Can any title be more applicable to myself? (especially the 'antique' moniker)
I think not.
Indeedly, at this moment we are :
1. working on a new painting
2. intensely researching the subject ideas for above painting
3. printing off various ephemera for the aforementioned painting
4. putting together and stretching printed canvases for the Craft Fair
5. packaging cards for the selfsame Craft Fair
6. making a poster for the Christmas Gala
7. making new version of book " Behind The Canvas"
8. creating a new website
...and we DO go back and forth to the various projects during the day.
Never bored.
(I would like to know where the idea that louche* Artists just sit around contemplating their bellybutton came from. )
( *louche\LOOSH\ , adjective;

1.Of questionable taste or morality; disreputable or indecent; dubious; shady> see? Educational as well as entertaining, me!  )

As well, during all this, yesterday I had a lovely young woman come over and take away my amassed collection of Halloween paraphernalia collected over the years. Yay and amen to that as I no longer need to be burdened with this 'stuff', I mean the boys are now 35 and 33 for crying out loud - not that I'm out of Halloween, no no, we kept the REALLY cool costumes I have made over the years.
That's a post for the appropriate time.
And I'll post pics.
The Painting: You already know the title but it's by LORD Frederick Leighton te da!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Who's on first? What's on second?....but SOLD! is on third!!! *

AH-h-h-h-h.....we are home.
And it was a weekend of 'Abbot and Costello' moments for certain.
I arrived Sat in the early afternoon to the artshow to find the parking lot of where the show was held absolutely jam packed - first day too, no less! (This bodes well, me thinked) (...thunked...?) I found perhaps the last spot to park off in the way-back-and-beyond (I think cows graze there) and felt lucky at that! Then I walked to the waterfront to meet up with an old school chum at a local eatery (of which I got the name wrong of in my confusional state of mind mainly due to not knowing the area well.....thank all the new age tech for cell phones, is what I say! ) And after chowing down on a fine repast, we went off to see the show. It was so crowded, you had to perform a rather slow and delicate shuffle to maneuver your way from painting to painting. Not the most optimum for viewing pleasure but certainly a great stat for the art show itself. I had to shuffle walk around almost the whole of the venue's perimeter before coming across my own work.
Now, imagine, if you will, my complete bafflement when I finally found my painting and saw that it was not the painting I thought had been accepted.
Did someone make a mistake? Did I make a mistake? I was left with the same feeling I had way back at the age of 11 when after winning my first competition "Art in the Parks", had my work displayed at the Vancouver Art Gallery upside down. A kind of 'gee I'm happy to see it here but it's all wrong" ....I was really discombobulated.
Anytopsyturveyshakemyworldway, I eventually found out that it was the right painting, my confusion lay in the original submission process when a tag was labelled wrongly and I believed attached to the other painting submitted, thereby making me think it was the one accepted when it wasn't. (Great spinning eyeballs, are you following along with this? I think I'm even more confused now after writing that down....)
Yes the 'strange twists of fate' part......on Sunday when I went to pick up the painting after the show close, I went through the well orchestrated but slow process of retrieval. The Artists are sent to a far room in the complex, where they must produce the identifying paperwork to get their piece (or pieces, as the case may be) They are then escorted to the work with an attendant who makes sure all papers are copacetic and away you go tra la la. However when I went to my painting I happened to notice a red sticker on the tag. A RED sticker means SOLD. This caused another discombobulation and the attendant didn't seem to have any idea if it was true or not so I was further escorted to another room where the sales desk was. They, d'accord, did not have the master checklist there of sold items so they didn't know either. Meanwhile (back in the original room) the art show folks were trying to locate me believing I had passed through and collected my work already before the person who bought it could actually claim it. (ok, no seriously, I'm feeling dizzy) So what you had going on was a rather crazy circular chase with me as the target. Eventually, we all managed to get straightened out; I met the buyer, we were all smiles and they told me; and this is the part I alluded to originally: "I bought it because it reminds me of my daughter and she has red hair."
 The painting that I had believed was accepted had black hair, so if that painting actually had been the one accepted, and NOT the one that really was, I would not have sold a piece.
We're not done yet. Today when I left for home, I got a call from a good friend who lives in Ukee who had just sailed their sailboat down to winter moorage in Nanaimo. Could I pick them up on my way back to Ukee? Absolutemente, I replied, where are you going to be?
This, yet again, is where things went awry. At the tourist center he said. I'll find you I answered and away I went. It's about a 2 hour jaunt to Nanaimo from Victoria and I'm not really well versed in navigating that city. OF COURSE I got all turned around when I arrived there and even with phoning my friend, further mis-direction happened due to him sending me in the opposite way than I needed to go. AND he told me the wrong street name which his map had....but not the city street in reality. I drove here, I drove there. I finally just followed my instinct and found him.
It is a minor miracle I am here to tell the tale.
So there you go.....Abbott and Costello Go To an Art show And Pick Up a life is a sitcom.




* Abbott and Costello were a comedy duo from the 40's who were on early radio and movies. They had this routine that had one of them reading out the names of the players on a Baseball team line-up. It was quite hilarious because, as is so evident, with names like "Who",
"What" and "Idunno", confusion was great. That's where the title comes from.

Friday, October 14, 2011

ALL SORTS of stuff......

I'm off early tomorrow to head down to the Sidney Art Show and I'm not back until later Monday night and when I do get back it will be to the clamoring thousands wanting to book a table for the annual Christmas Craft Fair - an event I've been organizing for, oh, about 50 gazillion eons........ok ok we are exaggerating but it seems like a long long long time.
Anyweareonceagainblitheringway, here I be with all sorts of thoughts running through my head. Making sure the suitcase is packed with all the things I need except that it usually turns out they are not right at all when I get to my destination. It's a gift to be so confoundedly inept at knowing what to bring.  And I am waffling as to deciding to bring along the newest painting too; it seems ridiculous as I will be picking up my paintings (well unless they sell) from the show. But you never know if an opportunity will present itself.
The van is now the repository for my 'emergency' supplies; something we on this coast in the heart of seismic activity and tsunami events must take seriously. However, my supply kit seems equal to setting up a wilderness takes up 1/4 of the rear space. What with extra clothes and all the food and cooking stuff and bedding and odds like matches and candles and first aid stuff and I haven't yet got the tent and rope, hatchet etc. also recommended in there.
Mother of all that will sustain you in dire times, it boggles the mind.
Mind you, if I need to camp out on any of these journeys south, I am so on it.  The van is now probably more luxuriously accoutremented than what a fair lot of the poor of our world can claim as shelter.
And more changes are in the wind. We are going to be revamping the website later next week. I am not amused by having to fork out excess $$ for the current place. Really, it's not THAT special to download pics of paintings and have the title beside it. My great and special Gallery Guy, Mark Penney, is going to help me with this. Expect great things with him as my guide. So, keep that in mind for later next week.
AND we've rewritten the 'book' with a more concise storyline and included new work and ongoing tales. If any of you are looking for a site to 'write' your own book and self publish, may I recommend BLURB. An extremely easy and user friendly site with a plethora of styles to use.....can't say enough good things!
AND last but not least, let me leave you with the following snap of what goes on when I'm writing the blog.
This is the chair I sit in at the computer. Perhaps we need to rephrase that. This is the chair JAMS sits in while I'm at the computer. My part is that wee bit of space off on the side.
But she does keep my ass warm.
A silver lining in all clouds.    

Painting: "LIQUORICE ALLSORTS" by Jonathan Hargreaves. I admit I am dangerously attracted to the poisonously yummy things.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Tonight's Feature: Wildlife Tales at My Doorstep.............who's got the remote?

See this? That's 2 young fawns right outside my front door in the front yard, yesterday. What you can't see is the 'object of intense scrutiny' that this young one is gazing at, is Jams. She was sitting in the open front door and refused to go any further. So much for the 'brave-will-take-on-anything' personae she once had, alas, age has made her more and more cautious......there's some kind of philosophical blither inherent in that sentence but we will pretend we haven't a clue what it is.
The other thing you can't see is that the second fawn (lying down) has a broken leg.
Out here where the wild is right up against your door - literally - you often see that Nature is not benign. Good old Mother Nature can be pretty brutal at any given moment. (once I witnessed a Red-tailed Hawk just nail a robin right in front of me and proceed to rip it up...eesh...)
Anynaturerawintoothandclawway, as much as it would be a great story to rush out and 'save' this young Mule Deer, you can't. This young one is fated to become part of the cycle.....but what each of us cannot see is that it's death will further the life of another. I haven't seen them around today so it perhaps does mean this cycle has happened already.
We humans always want to 'fix' stuff.....especially in Nature. But our interference has caused so much imbalance and mayhem we are in turmoil today. We need to learn to 'let it be'.
Remember this when you are out partaking of the natural wonders our beautiful land still offers.....don't feed the bears (PLEASE!!), don't act foolishly in ways that attract predators and cause another death of an animal and by all that is good and ethical, respect this Earth. 
Your part of the cycle.'s what the whole of the front yard and surround is like:
Just down that break in the bush across the street lies the path that leads to the beach. Yep, I am very lucky to have such a setting to create in.....

Monday, October 10, 2011

Once Again With Feeling...!

Every so often I finish a painting and I am pretty pleased with it .......but then , ah, yes, but then after some time passes by and I have been looking at it for a few days or weeks or months ( a very typical artistic situation).....well, it just starts to seriously irritate me. "This isn't right or that could've been done better or the part over here really sucks"; you know, all that 'think think think' blabla thing my head and eyes do if I'm not actually 100% satisfied with the outcome.
Well, this was that painting. Here's what it was originally:

...and there you go. We changed the face...the face the face for crying out loud it's always the face!.....and we got rid of those Mickey Mouse style shoes. What in all that is on your feet possessed me to think those were a good choice. AnywhatelsecanIblitheronaboutway, I am decidedly way happier with the 'new and improved' version. That is the lovely thing about being the creator of get to change it if you wish. That works for your 'Life' too are entirely up to you. So if the 'face' is bugging you or the shoes don't fit right....make the change.
It's not as hard as it seems and, who knows, you are more than likely going to be way happier with the new version.
"Pentimento" is Italian for "to regret" or, in the Art world, it means:' An underlying image in a painting, part of a painting, or original draft that shows through. ' Even though in my painting the 'old' image doesn't actually show; I know it's there so the term works for me. The sentiment does for sure. And aren't we all 'pentimento' with our lives?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

..and again....

“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits,the rebels, the troublemakers,the round pegs in the square holes…the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them,disagree with glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things…they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones,we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world,are the ones who do.”
RIP Steve.


“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

— Steve Jobs
Unless you are living many light years ago (ie: no computer) you are well aware of the death of Steve Jobs yesterday. I admit I was only peripherally aware of him; "just another rich computer guy", I thought; and so as I read the quotes attributed to him, I'm really amazed that such a wonderfully creative soul missed my attention.
Once again that 'judge a book by it's cover'......something I as an artist should be cognizant of.
The life of an Artist is full of 'why-did-I-choose-this-life' moments, the Creative Muse knows, and often the weight of nomoneynorecognition can break you into chucking it all and becoming the 'dog groomer' your mother recommended but in your heart and soul you just KNOW there is nothing else you CAN do. I've been a dry cleaning delivery person, a mail room sorter, a men's wear clerk, a paper stuffer, a hippy leather shop girl, a picture framer, a security guard (laughable at my stature but a cool badge), a gallery owner and a Census Canada employee in my crazy life and baring the picture framer gig which I was pretty good at and did for some years, I lasted at the most 6 months or less in each job.
Not much stats for the resume, huh?
And it was because, as trite as it may sound, not a single solitary one spoke to my heart. I knew what I was and until I listened to that clamoring voice inside, nothing in my life made any sense.
You know it too.
So never mind the money, never mind if no one else 'gets it', never mind being the 'odd duck' in the pond....just never mind.
I'm telling you, when you follow what your heart says, it really all falls into place.
So, thank you, Mr Steve Jobs. Thank you for being the dreamer and thank you for letting me know it's all ok just to be who you really are.
May we all be as humanly alive as you were.
Painting: "DREAM BIG" by Christine Serres-Marie. I don't usually like abstracted work, and that's odd because I love color so much, but this painting really captured the feeling of this post. I like how it evokes the swirly undulating paths we travel to reach our goals. nicely done.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Ladies and Gentlemen : Fame

Marla Thirsk: Artist of the Month

Posted on October 1, 2011 by hannahb
Categories: Acrylic, Articles, Artist Interviews & Profiles, Inspiration and Creativity, Medium, The Artist’s Magazine Tags: Acrylic. Bookmark the permalink.

DISCONNECT (acrylic, 30x36) by Marla Thirsk was a finalist in the category of The Artist Magazine's 27th Annual Art Competition.

Marla Thirsk

Hometown: Ucluelet, B.C. Canada

Early Art Years and Education

My dad used to tell everyone I must have been born with a paintbrush in my hand. I can’t remember a time I wasn’t doing/creating art, when I was two years old I started drawing faces in my Dad’s university textbooks, which had the only clean white paper I could find. I liked the stark contrast of a dark line on the white paper. I’ve never had formal training—I’m a voracious reader so I have an extensive library of art books that have given me my education. If I found an appealing style or genre, I would get anything written about it and try it out until I mastered it or moved on to another topic. A lot of times the initial foray would lead me to interpret the medium my own way.

It took me until I was 40 to really believe in myself and approach art as a full-time occupation. Before that I painted, drew or created, but wasted a lot of time in questionable lifestyle choices.

Genre and Media

I was originally recognized as an accomplished watercolorist, but have developed a deep enthusiasm for acrylic, which I now work in exclusively, during the last three years. However, I’m eclectic in my creating. When I need a ‘recharge’ I also make highly original art dolls, metal ‘spare parts’ robot sculptures, collages and paint murals.

Inspiration for DISCONNECT

A few years ago I saw a fabulous painting (and I regret not remembering the artist) of two women in 1950s-style bathing suits. That reminded me of a collection of old photographs I had of my mother spanning the 30s to early 60s. She was very ‘vogue-y’ in them and when I started using them as inspiration, the floodgates opened. My mother passed away 25 years ago so it has proven cathartic in a way to use these images. The old salt box in the painting has been in my family as long as I remember—and as it is Delftware it reminds me of mom too—she was a Dutch war bride. The painting also reflects the rather disconnected and tortured relationship my mother and I had. I learned a big life lesson when she didn’t recognize me when I saw her just before she slipped into a four-month coma and then passed away.

In DISCONNECT, a pose from one of my mother’s photos was the initial inspiration. I used a projector to transfer the image in burnt sienna pencil crayon to the prepped canvas. I then played with the image—sometimes changing the facial expression or hands or arm placement. When I came up with this pose, I went over it with a copying pencil (this type of pencil was used in the map industry; it doesn’t photocopy and so you aren’t left with unwanted lines. An acquaintance had given me a huge box of these, which are about 60 years old.). The hair design was actually inspired from an old magazine my hair dresser gave me.

The backgrounds in DISCONNECT started with a piece of old fabric, and that morphed into me sketching little designs, scanning them into my PC and reworking the sizes and printing the sheets. Then I cut out all the elements and played around with the designs until I found one that pleased me and pasted it onto a sheet of paper to rescan and make many copies. I then transferred these by hand onto the background using graphite paper. Time consuming for sure! It generally takes about a week to get the canvas image laid out before I start painting.

My palette is original, in that I mix my own colors from what’s in my studio. The usual initial color choices are: burnt sienna, raw sienna, titanium white, Mars black, alizarin crimson, value 4 red, value 5 red, acra magenta, value 4 purple, value 7 blue, hansa yellow middle and hansa yellow light. These are usually the standards but depending on what color mix I wish for the background, things are added or subtracted. I have lots of little jars of my own mixes around.

Time Spent on Paintings

This always seems so hard to answer. Usually a painting of this size and detail will take about three weeks to complete. If I get into the zone I sometimes can spend 12 hours at a stretch working—mind you, my arm and shoulder want to leave me after. This painting just flowed out for me. I completed it in a week and a half.


Art is just every single reason for me being on this planet. It saved my life when I decided to quit my formerly reprehensible lifestyle and focus on the one true shining part of myself: art.

I’ve been creating art in one form or another for 55 years now but it wasn’t until I pulled out these old photographs and the floodgates opened into the past with my mother that people really started to notice my work. It was the process of working out the demons of my relationship with mom that my soul really shone through. I guess it’s true that until your heart speaks through your medium, you are just good with your hands.


Artists of the Month are chosen from the list of finalists of The Artist Magazine’s Annual Art Competition.