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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.