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Invite and Sneak Peak of Art Show Reception Friday August 9

My wall in the group show at the Collector
My wall in the group show at the Collector

Here is a peek at my wall in the Collector Gallery in Berkeley’s Elmwood district showing 12 oil paintings. I have more small paintings displayed off the wall in the gallery. The largest painting on the wall (Happy Boy Farms Tomatoes) is 12×12 inches and the smallest is 6×6 inches.

If you’re in the area please stop by for music, refreshments and to see these and the interesting work by the other four artists in this show. And for further enticement, it doesn’t hurt that Berkeley’s most popular ice cream shop is right next door.

August 9 2013 reception flyer
August 9 2013 reception flyer

Above is the postcard for the reception Friday night from 6-8 at the The Collector Gallery in Berkeley at 2950 College Avenue.  (Download Collector reception flyer pdf).

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Reflections on Art/Life in 2012 and 2013

I  hated doing performance reviews at work but was always glad when I’d finished mine and could see all I’d accomplished. This year I had to do my last review at work because I am leaving to paint full time next month!!! I think that’s my biggest news of the year and something I’ve been working towards, finishing up projects since September.

Since I know how valuable performance reviews are, I assign myself to do a review of my art/life too. So here are my reflections on the past year and looking forward into 2013.


  • In early 2012 I movMaking A Mark Awarded into my new studio which I’m thoroughly enjoying and have continued to modify to suit my needs, including building Carole Marine’s still life “stage,” and adding a hula hoop for fun warm ups.
Book cover with my painting Tea and Butter
Tea and Butter


  • My painting Pile of Persimmons was licensed for the cover of Mills College literary journal Persimmon Tree.
  • I was interviewed for this article about Urban Sketching that was published in the local paper.


  • The biggest life change: I’ve reduced my day job hours to one day a week and in another month will leave to paint full time!!!!
  • UPS Delivers at Night, Oil on Canvas, 20x16
    UPS Delivers at Night, Oil on Canvas, 20×16

    I continued work on a series of 16×20″ portraits of people at work in my community. One of these, UPS Delivers at Night was the runner-up in best Portrait of the Year on Making a Mark. It is being purchased by the “model” and UPS corporate wants to do a story about it.

  • Last year I said I wanted to learn to relish and appreciate imperfection and that has helped me to begin to learn to stop before a painting has been perfected (otherwise known as overworked).
  • I’ve made it a priority in 2013 year to find that magical point of balance between painting, blogging, and everything else like healthy eating, exercise and sleep. I’m already making progress.


  • Stillman & Birn Delta 180 lb Ivory paper, ink & watercolor, 6x4"
    Stillman & Birn Delta 180 lb Ivory paper, ink & watercolor, 6×4″

    Feeling more confident with my oil painting technique, I’m often able to paint with conscious competence now (see this post for explanation of the 4 steps from unconscious incompetence to unconscious competence) which is way better than the conscious incompetence I was coming from.

  • Last year I decided to do watercolor sketching instead of oil painting at plein air paint-outs. This year I will start oil painting plein air again to see if what I’ve learned in the studio with oils in 2012 will allow me to enjoy and succeed at taking them outdoors.
  • I experimented with Stillman & Birn Sketchbooks but found I prefer the paper of Moleskine Watercolor Notebooks  to S&B when I’m not binding my own.
  • I began using a limited palette in oils, working with just 4 to 6 colors. It’s a great way to learn more about color and helps create harmonious paintings. In watercolor it seems more difficult since I usually want to control not just color but transparency/opacity /sedimentary and other characteristics of watercolor paint.
  • I fell in love with oil painting on oil-primed linen panels for smaller sized work (I use regular stretched canvas for anything bigger than 11″x14″). I’ve been using relatively inexpensive Centurion panels and they’re wonderful!


  • I took a week-long Alla Prima Portraiture class with Rose Frantzen at Scottsdale Artists School in February 2012. It was intense. She takes her teaching very seriously and we worked hard from 9 to 5. After class hours she entertained us with wonderful stories from her life and the art world. I learned a lot but would have benefited more if I’d come to the class more skilled at portrait drawing and alla prima painting. I spent too much time just trying to get my darn drawing (with paint) right.
  • I did a lot of work and study to improve my drawing skills in 2012 and it will continue to be a major focus in 2013.
  • Although I expected to start up my watercolor classes again in 2012 I didn’t. I plan to start teaching again in the spring, once I’ve completed my last day job assignments.
Marmot Mountain Works, Berkeley, Ink & watercolor, 8x5"
Marmot Mountain Works, Berkeley, Ink & watercolor, 8×5″


  • Continued to sketch every Tuesday night with my Urban Sketchers group as well as on our “field trips” and independently. Our group is having a show this month and has started hosting a monthly sketching event for the public the first Tuesday evening of each month.
  • Stopped bookbinding to make more time for studio painting but will return to it again in 2013.


  • Last year I decided to concentrate on painting and wait until I left my day job to put effort into art biz/marketing. Despite that plan I did sell a number of paintings, sketches, prints and commissioned works including a large watercolor of a corporate building commissioned as a gift to a retiring CEO, as well as portraits of people, cats and dogs, and landscape paintings.
  • Whole Foods Oakland bought my sketch (below) to use in their employee lunchroom.

    Whole Foods Oakland, ink & watercolor, 5x7"
    Whole Foods Oakland, ink & watercolor, 5×7″
  • Licensed work, in addition to those listed under Publications above, included a sketch of carrots for Canadian Carrot Community Arts Coffeehouse’s Facebook and a police car sketch used by Fayette County, Georgia’s Public Safety Department for a brochure. It’s amazing the way the web gets our work seen by people in such diverse places such as….
  • The French advertising agency for Hermes (yes that Hermes!) contacted me to do a series of illustrations for them for a new website
    1950 Royal Typewriter, Pitt Brush Pen, 5x6"
    1950 Royal Typewriter

    campaign. They wanted the drawings to be in the funky brush-pen style I used for some antique industrial equipment sketches like this old typewriter. They sent me story and concept sketches my drawings were to follow, which they were going to animate. In the end I turned it down for a variety of reasons but it was an amazing opportunity.

  • A local gallery invited me to have a show in 2013 of my still life paintings. I am honored by the invitation but not sure I want to spend the money on framing everything. Am I being silly? It seems easier to sell online but I know it’s important to “get the work out there” locally too.


  • WordPress sends its members an annual blog report. Mine began: “About 55,000 tourists visit Liechtenstein every year. This blog was viewed about 220,000 times in 2012. If it were Liechtenstein it would take about 4 years for that many people to see it. Your blog had more visits than a small country in Europe.” Cute.
  • I celebrated my six-year blogging anniversary in 2012 with 220,309 views from 188 countries. I wrote 102 new posts (total 1,118) and uploaded 430 pictures in 2012. My highest views on a day in 2012 was 1,763 on October 29, 2012 and total views on my blog from inception May 2006 through 2012 is 1,213,061.
  • Posted regularly and administered the Urban Sketchers S.F. Bay Area blog as well as starting a Facebook and Flickr page for Urban Sketchers. Some of our group below.uskflag-sfbayarea
  • I neglected my Flickr and my Daily Paintworks site in 2012 as well as posting less often on my blog than in previous years. My intention for 2013 is to revamp and re-energize my website and Flickr pages and post more regularly on my blog. But painting must always come first.
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Puck: A Dog Portrait in Oils (delivered with tears and hugs)

Puck, a dog portrait in oil on linen panel, 8x10"
Puck, a dog portrait in oil on linen panel, 8×10″

This was a first: when I delivered the painting it made its owner cry! And hug me. And make me cry!  I know how much Puck, who is getting there up in dog years, means to his owner so I really wanted the painting to turn out well. And I got lucky; this one just seemed to paint itself. Of course I know that saying, “The more I practice, the luckier I get” which I think was true in this case. I put thought into the painting before I put any paint on the canvas and have certainly been putting in lots of practice time in the studio.

Puck, a warm up sketch, ink & watercolor, 6x8"
Puck, a warm-up sketch, ink & watercolor, 6×8″

I always start my paintings with at least one preliminary sketch to get to know the subject. I don’t try to do a perfect rendering, just a visual exploration and attempt to understand what I see.

Today was a big day for delivering commissioned and gift paintings. I delivered five: two watercolors (a large painting of a corporate headquarters commissioned for a gift to a retiring CEO, and a double portrait of two little sisters) and three oils (this and another dog portrait and a portrait of a woman as a gift for her husband).

I can’t post the others until they’ve been gifted. And I have two more dog portraits in progress. I love it!

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Amazing Art/Materials Resource Site + How to Store Paintings

Kensington Hilltop School, ink & watercolor
Kensington Hilltop School, ink & watercolor (a beautiful school above a wonderful park at the very tip-top of Kensington hills)

In my last post I asked for advice on sorting and storing completed oil paintings on panels. Along with the good suggestions from readers,  I found a fantastic website that provides the answers to these and many other questions about proper handling of artwork and art materials of all kinds.

The website is (Art Materials Information and Education Network), “a resource for artists dedicated to providing the most comprehensive, up-to-date, accurate, and unbiased factual information about artists’ materials.”  They are part of the education department of the Intermuseum Conservation Association.

AMIEN’s forums are the place to find information to all our questions about proper use, handling, storage, shipping, application, etc. of art materials and finished art work or all kinds. Here is a portion of what they say (more here) about storing oil paintings on panels:

Store your paintings standing on edge, one next to the other, with a piece of acid-free paper loosely covering the face of each painting. You can tape the paper to the back of the panel and fold it over the front.

Ideally, you will put these paintings in a rack, elevated off the floor, in some location that is relatively dust-free and not subject to wild swings of temperature and relative humidity. Even more ideally, each painting ought to be separated from the others, but that would take a very large rack. Second best: You should not have more than about 5 paintings leaning against each other; separate the groups of paintings.

AMIEN’s forums cover topics like Watercolors, Pastel, Encaustics, Acrylic Paints, Supports, Grounds, Solvents and Thinners, Varnishes, Pigments, Color charts, Oil Paints and Mediums, Alkyds, Mural Paints and Techniques, Colored Pencils, Printmaking, Photography and Printed Digital Media, Matting, Framing and Labeling, Picture Protection, Crating, Shipping, Storage, Conservation, Hazards and much more.

About the sketch at top: Friday afternoons I have the pleasure of spending time with two lovely 11-year-old girls who still like to swing and play make-believe games on playground equipment. I discovered Kensington Hilltop School while hiking in the hills on the weekend and brought them there the next week. They played, I sketched, we had fun.

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Between a Rock and… a Request for Help

Moss Rock Grows Moss, ink, Pentel Brush Pen & watercolor
Moss Rock Grows Moss (typo--it's 2011!) ink, Pentel Brush Pen & watercolor

After ten years this very large rock sold to me as a “Moss Rock” and installed in my front garden has finally grown a patch of moss. It looked so pretty and the day was unseasonably warm and sunny so I couldn’t resist going out to sketch it. I sat on my porch and drew the mossy rock while my usually indoor kitties joined me in the sun.

And now my request for advice:

I need help figuring out how to sort/store my oil paintings. I have at least a hundred oil paintings and plein air studies on panels (probably more) that I’ve done over the past few years. I’m sure for some people it’s simple: just sell them all.

But if you’re like me and still have many paintings on hand, I’d love to hear how you organize, catalog, store and/or protect them from damage. I have many watercolors on paper in large flat files sorted by subject matter, with drawers labeled accordingly. But I haven’t figured out a good system for my oils.

When I get a request from someone wanting to purchase a painting it can be challenging to find it and I always have my fingers crossed that it hasn’t gotten damaged.

My questions:

ORGANIZING: Do you store your paintings by subject? Size? Date? Inventory number (requires entering in art tracking program)? OR…just skip the organizing and spend the time painting instead?!!

STORAGE: Should they be separated with wax paper when stored touching each other? Does it matter if they’re in the dark?  My garage is fairly dry but not insulated so is affected by weather. Is it ok to store oils on panels in Clearbag envelopes to protect their surface?

At the beginning of the year I usually sort through the past year’s paintings stored vertically on shelves like books in my studio. I dump the losers, label the keepers, and move older paintings to shelves in the garage. This year I had the flu during my two-week holiday vacation so never did the “dump and sort” so paintings have piled up in the studio shelves and storage closet and there are more drying.

Any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!