Chair for Liz

Chair for Liz

“Chair for Liz” (Oil on 11×14 inch canvas, June 2017)

I did this little painting for the summer’s “Happy Go Lucky” installation at my space in the Charlotte Art League.

Just a blue lounge chair on the beach.
But the story behind it is full of big hearts and warm laughter.
A group of friends who welcomed me in without a qualm.
Included me in their lives as if I were family.
Introduced me around a strange new town.
Invited me along for their weekend trip to the beach.

This little chair reminds me of a perfectly lovely day in Kiawah.
Walking along the water.
Splashing about the waves.
Enjoying the warm sunshine and cool breeze.
And looking for a chair for our friend, Liz…
…who, as it turns out, doesn’t like to frolic under the sun quite as much as I do.
(Which, by the way, opened up a whole new thread of laughs)

A snapshot of a summer day.
And a reminder of friendship.

An Exercise in Patience

An Exercise in Patience

Study of Monet’s Sunrise (Oil on 11×14 inch canvas, June 2017)

The class assignment was to create an impressionist painting.
We had the choice of starting with a photo or copying an existing painting.
Though I’ve seen impressionists paintings throughout the years,
I’d never thought much about how they were created.
I decided to try to copy the work of someone who know what he/she was doing.
My choice:  A sunrise by Claude Monet.

Caveat:  At least, I think I coped from an actual Monet image.
The downside of searching for images on the internet is that I’m never 100% confident where that original image came from.

Image decided upon.
It was time to start painting.

So much easier said than done.

As soon as I set paint brush to canvas, I regretted my choice.
The uncountable small repetitive brushstrokes felt overwhelming.
I didn’t know whether to start with the peaches or the blues.
Not to mention the purples, greens and oranges layered into the painting.
Whichever color I worked with in that moment, the others clamored at me to layer them in, layer them in, layer them in NOW.
I lost my place within the painting multiple times.
I thought about just painting the orange sun and the guys in the boat and calling it a day.
But I couldn’t stop dabbing in all the different colors.
In the class around me, my fellow painting students worked confidently and steadily.
While I muttered under my breath,
avoided eye contact with the instructor
and doggedly dabbed tiny bits of color all over my canvas.

This went on for two full painting classes.
Which, if nothing else, was a lesson in patience… for me…
And for everyone else in the room who’d been enduring my painting tantrum all the while.

Finally, in the middle of my third painting session,
I finally let myself set in the sun and its bright reflection.
I added one boat and its passengers.
Then the second.
And then suddenly, almost miraculously, the painting came together.
Well what do you know.
I think I begin to understand.

#Artwithme – Painting with Tissue Paper

#Artwithme – Painting with Tissue Paper

I recently had the opportunity to share my “Painting with Tissue Paper” activity with a great group of ladies.

I was the “entertainment” for the June Girls’ Night Out (GNO) at The Charlotte Fine Arts Gallery.

On the third Friday of each month, the gallery features a different art project for their GNO.
Very reasonable registration fee.
Wine, light snacks & art supplies included.
Frankly, it’s a darn good deal for an hour and a half of fun.
Some evenings it’s painting.
Other times, it’s a chance to try a new art medium or technique.
It’s a great way to dabble with new ideas and products without needing to buy a bunch of supplies.

I have attended the gallery’s GNO’s.
And last week,
I got to lead one.
Fun, fun, fun!

Here is what the ladies created out of nothing more than some humble tissue paper, mod podge and canvas.

Diane’s Flowers

Cathy’s Sunflower

Cynthia’s Beach

Geeta’s Sliced Open Tomatoes

Sylvia’s Sunrise Behind Tree


Joni’s Cherries

All six “paintings” look terrific, don’t they?
But as the leader for the evening, here’s what I found most exciting:
Each participant dove fearlessly into the activity.
Everyone chose different subject to create.
In the course of this activity,
They agreed that this technique really yielded a product that looked as if it had been painted.

You know what’s the best thing about learning something new?
Getting the chance to turn around and teach it.

Painting with Tissue Paper

Painting with Tissue Paper

I’m not sure if today’s project should be considered an art or a craft project…
Either way,
“Painting” with tissue paper is simple and a lot of fun.
It can also yield surprisingly polished results.

If you’d like to give this a try, here is what you will need:
1.  Selection of tissue paper (as in the stuff you use to wrap gifts, NOT blow your nose with)
2.  Flat paint brush (the cheaper kind you’re ok to throw away after a few uses)
3.  Canvas (I recommend 8 inch by 10 inch to start)
4.  Mod Podge
5.  Optional – pencil
6.  Container of water, paper towel and possibly something to protect your work surface from the mod podge

Once you have your materials set up,
Choose either an idea, phrase or image to hold loosely in your mind as you create.

Some examples are:
Stained Glass Windows
Sunrise through Trees
Ocean Waves
Geometric shapes

“Sunset Over Water” (Tissue paper and Mod Podge on 8×10 inch canvas)

I chose the image “Sunset Over Water.”

To create this “painting,”
I did the following:
1.  Chose a selection of tissue paper to form my color palette
2.  Tore a bit of tissue paper in the desired color
3.  Adhered the torn paper to canvas by brushing a bit of Mod Podge to the canvas,
smoothed the tissue paper onto the canvas with my fingers,
then brushed another layer of Mod Podge over the tissue paper.
4.  I started on the top left corner of my canvas;
I repeated steps 2 and 3 until I’d filled my canvas

It was really that simple.

I do have a few tips to make this project even easier:
1.  You may want to do a light pencil sketch on your canvas before you start the tearing and gluing part.
2.  Tear the tissue paper as you go.
3.  Go lightly with the Mod Podge.
You don’t want to end up with a soupy sticky mess.
4.  I prefer to use smaller pieces of tissue paper.
5.  Layer and overlapping the tissue paper yields a richer effect.

This really is a great project for adults & for kids.
Hope you will give it a try.
Happy “Painting”!

A Study in Diebenkorn

A Study in Diebenkorn

“Diebenkorn Study” by Val (Oil on 12×12 inch canvas, April 2017)

Here’s a class assignment I had zero interest in tackling.

But by the time I finished my painting,

I was completely smitten by the subject.


Our instructor, Joni, wanted us to:

1.  Learn to start with an under-painting before adding color.

2.  Paint a shadowy interior with windows to a bright exterior.


She handed out copies of a painting by Richard Diebenkorn.

A ratty orange chair in a dirty looking corner of a room.

Two concrete steps to a door with a window set into it.

At first glance, I thought the subject depressing and drab.

But what the hec.

I’m in the class to learn and to grow.

When Joni says paint it… that’s what I do.

I always starts with drawing.

Sometimes, I lead in with a loose charcoal sketch.

But here,

I did a quick sketch with brush and burnt sienna paint.


Once I was satisfied with the placement of the objects in the painting,

I used that same burnt sienna paint to shade in the darker areas.


Working with an under-painting first is a really effective approach.

We worry first about placement.

Then we concentrate on light and shadows.

Finally, we deal with with color.


Even so,

I still botched that window in the door.

I placed it too low.

And didn’t realize my mistake till much later in the painting.

Color next.

I discovered raw umber has a whole of green it it.

And I struggled with mixing the correct shade of grey for the concrete floor.

 I was hours into the painting before I noticed my mistake with the door.


Sometimes, I let a goof up go.

But here,

I just couldn’t ignore it.


The other issue I discovered around this time was how the light on the wall didn’t work for me.

I looked back and forth between my photo reference and my painting.

My photo really was showing this very bright light on the wall.

But I found it far too distracting to keep.

I chose to deviate from my reference.


“Diebenkorn Study” by Val (Oil on 12×12 inch canvas, April 2017)

Here’s what I saw when I finished this painting.

I saw a ratty orange chair.

Shoved in the corner of a grungy little room.

With two cement steps and a dirty floor.


But now it was my ratty orange chair.

I could feel the paint peeling off the wall behind it.

And I knew every groove of that fake wood panel wall.

Each time I looked at this painting,

My eye landed on the sunny spot of the chair.

Then traveled up the wall behind it and then over to the right.

In the time I spent in that room,

I learned to appreciate how ugly can become interesting.

And how interesting can grow into one of my favorite paintings yet.