Another Weekend of Art Class

This last weekend I took another three-day class at The Winslow Art Center on Bainbridge Island.  Martha Jordan brings in wonderful artists from all over the country to teach workshops.  This last weekend, Stanley Bielen came in from the East Coast to teach beautifully simplified small paintings to a group of fifteen from all over the country.


We all had individual vignettes set up around the room.  It was so fun to see what people selected and then what they painted.  I learned a lot from the teacher and from watching the approach of other artists in the class.  I started to say “students”, but for the most part, the class was full of very accomplished artists.

I stopped to talk to a friend downstairs and by the time I returned after the morning demo, the only spot left was the one where Stanley had painted the demo, so I decided I would give it a try.

Stanley 1.jpg

These are small paintings at about 6″ x 8″, so this is even a little larger than the actual painting.  Being pleased with this I moved on the next day to a set-up of my own.


This is not quite as loose as what Stanley was sharing, but it was fun and I felt good about it, which is not always the case.

In the afternoon, I looked at the choices available and found this beautiful little teapot, and thought it would be fun.  Laughing a little, I placed a quince bough in the spout and had fun painting this. Stanley made a couple of painting strokes, that really made a difference in the painting.

Tea Pot.jpg

Keep in mind that I am not a “flower” painter.  Ever since I was in Art School in the ’70s, and the teacher in one of my first-semester art classes said, after I produced a three foot by three foot abstract, that he was surprised, as he always thought I would just be a flower painter, I have kind of steered clear of flowers.  If you look back in your life, I think most of us would be amazed by the power that a small quick comment may have had on our lives. Teachers have more power than we often think.

Feeling good about my little teapot (short and stout) I returned to the “table of treasures”, as I called it with lots and lots of flowers, some fruit, and vegetables and tried to figure out how I could avoid painting flowers.

Ah, the Bok Choy.  One other artist painted it laying on its side, but I thought: “Let the Bok Choy stand tall”. Not sure it came out as tall, but at least it does look like a Bok Choy.


Bok Choy.jpg

That was the end of the second day and I have to admit I was a little tired. My sweet husband suggested we just go out to dinner.  I thought that was a great idea and had a few glasses of champagne with dinner, came home and had a couple glasses of wine.  I awoke with a not so happy headache but took some ibuprofen and was off to class.  Arriving at class, I realized I was tired and not really “on”.  I discovered that day that how you feel makes a difference to your creativity.  I did two more small paintings, but walked away, not liking either one of them.

One of the women in the class brought in a vase of amazing Camillias, so I thought: ” Humm, they are big, maybe I can paint one.”


Stanley liked it, but it does not “sing” to me.  I might try more flowers just to see if I can do it more successfully.  The last painting of class should be your best effort, but I find I am usually more tired at the end of the class, so don’t think it is my best.


I realized as I finished this, that the flower was way to close to the upper left corner.  The nice thing about working on panels is that you can cut them.  So I cropped it in Photoshop and will have my husband cut it down.

yellow with crop

So I will have him chop off the bottom, and I will repaint the bottom and then I think I may actually like it.

It was a very wonderful workshop and I feel lucky I was able to take it with old friends and now some new ones.


Another Weekend of Art Class

Old in Art School

Facade finished.jpg

When I saw the title of this book, I was immediately attracted to it. This is the year I turn seventy. At sixty-two I completed my Ph. D. in Business Marketing, not in art, although I did finish my BA in Art in 1971 and my MA in Art (although with an emphasis in interior design) in 1985. I understand going back to school when a little older is all about attitude. I laughed at the beginning of the book, as the author described the other students, the attire, the classrooms and the fear of failure, but as I listened on to the audio-book I liked it less and less.  One of the reviews of the book described how I innately felt perfectly:

“I was excited to dive into this book, hopeful for little nuggets of wisdom for my similar journey and perhaps a laugh or two in self-reflection. Instead, the reader encounters a self-indulgent, needy author who repetitively presents an inventory of her resume ad nauseam. She used this book to disparage other students all while trying to impress the reader by spewing supercilious comments and including very little about the process or art school. This book had so much potential but was so disappointing.” 

It is interesting to think that no matter how successful you were in what you did before, no one in your art classes knows that or cares about that. I had a little of that this weekend when I took a tonal painting class of street scenes.  I love the work of the man that taught the class and I learned quite a bit in the class. Mostly I learned I don’t like doing a tonal painting.  I love painting with color! Color kept creeping into my paintings in the class and I kept getting in “trouble” for adding too much color.    Sometimes in life, it is just as important to know what we don’t like, as much as what we love.

When I sat down to write my blog, I thought I would look at the artwork of the author of the book before I wrote a lot about it. Viewing her artwork, the first thought that crossed my mind was that she wrote this book, not about her real art school experience, but to promote herself and her art. Her background is in writing and history, so she knows how to write about history, but in this book, she makes being older a roadblock, not an advantage. She has gotten quite a bit of attention over the book, and thus her art. What is totally missing in this book, are all the other wonderful artists that started their art life later in life. She is certainly not alone!

Maybe I should write about starting and stopping art in your life. You start as a child and my case went on to study it in college. Then you start a career, get married, have children (oops no time for art), and in my case was widowed at a young age and raised my sons on my own and don’t have much time for art till your children are grown and have lives of their own.

When she started talking about how you have to dress to be a successful artist, I started losing interest.  Moving forward to discuss the philosophical side of the history or artists (in her opinion) I began wondering if I wanted to bother to listen to the rest of the book.

The book made me think about my own tonal experience. You can enjoy viewing art that you do not enjoy attempting. You can be award-winning in other fields and not art, and still enjoy painting. I have had many art shows, but never entered a contest with my art.

Study Terry Miura.jpg

The class was a learning experience. We worked on these small the first afternoon after watching a demo in the morning. The one on the top right was the first one with the second below and the third in ochre tones.

We moved forward painting in a slightly larger format the second day after another morning demo. My green trees are too green for tonal painting, but as I said I like “color”.

Street scene from Terry Miura Class.jpg The last and/or third day we had options of what we could paint.  I chose to paint a facade of a building, as I used to do a lot of rendering in interior design school, and as an interior design college professor.  I am still working on the facade and realized when I stood back and looked at it, I had added a shadow to the awning, and now I had shadows coming from two directions.  I will try to make the correction and add it to the post. The building and the cafe next door need names too!

I heard once, and again in this class: “If the painting is not selling, add a dog.” I think this painting may need a dog-walker with several dogs. I think it is better to laugh at oneself, that try to be pompous about what you cannot do.


As always, I walked away having learned something new, met new people that love art and enjoyed the camaraderie of painting with new and old friends.

I will continue to listen to the rest of the book and hope it gets better, but reading several reviews I don’t think that will be the case. It makes me want to write a funnier book on a similar topic. One of the other reviewers wrote: “More of a self-congratulate memoir of past achievements than a book of more recent achievements. Disappointing … could have been much more.” 

It could have been written in a much more positive manner and encourage those of us over twenty to try different things.

Old in Art School

The Choice of Direction is always yours.

Looking up to Pink

Picked up my paint brushes for the first time in six months.  It felt glorious.  This painting has been sitting on the canvas half done for over six months.  Life got in the way, and that should never happen to an artist.  I truly enjoy selling real estate, but was with a team that wanted you to work 7/24 and cold call people whenever they signed online to look at houses.  It made me feel like I was “Big Brother” watching what people were doing.  I don’t like it when I get email for months when I was interested for a short amount of time, or now on Facebook anything that you have viewed online or in Amazon shows up on the side bar, till your next choice of searches.

Pink & White FriendsWhen I finished this painting tonight and photographed it, I could not decide which I liked it best.  Horizontal or Vertical.  That is when I started thinking we all have choices to make every day of our life.  Today I chose to paint after having a wonderful lunch with my beautiful God daughter.  She inspired me to get back to what I love doing.

Not that I am not going to help people buy and sell houses, I am just going to take some time for me to do the things I love.

So you choose, which way do you like it better?  Vertical or Horizontal? Life is so full of wonderful choices, just take one and get on with it.

The Choice of Direction is always yours.

Port Gamble

Port Gamble Church in Color Port Gamble Church Port Gamble Water Towers - colorPort Gamble Water Towers

Out and about buying fabric to make Easter Dresses for my three Granddaughters, with camera in hand, Port Gamble is such a lovely piece of our local history.  Originally built as a sawmill town, there are rows of houses built for employees and managers of the Port. the Walker Ames House, which I drew last week was the owners original home.

In the next week or so, I will be drawing the General Store, owned by friends of mine with some of the best food in the area.  The fabric store Quilted Strait is often one of my favorite stops, as they have a lovely and varied selection of cotton, more designed for quilts, but work great for “Granddaughter” dresses.

Port Gamble

Pen & Ink

Bad Trailor Green House Old House Point No Point Rowboats

This last weekend I had the pleasure of taking a pen & ink & watercolor class with a well known artist.  Pen & ink has always captured my attention, especially after writing my book “Hand Drafting for Interior Design”

Book cover

Working on the drawings for many days, I found pleasure in the hand drawn line and taking this class I got to put to use all the drawings and techniques I shared in my book.

The group of people that came together for the class were talented, funny and made the weekend such a pleasure.  But the drawing was just pure delight, and learning a new way to add a tad or splash of color to the drawings, made me want to draw, draw, draw and water color a little.

Pen & Ink

Testing the Extent of Your Power

About six weeks ago I took two different painting classes from talented young women.  I realized in taking the class that even though they are quite knowledgeable, I didn’t relate to their style of painting, so had a hard relating to the teachers.

One teacher said about a hundred times during the first day of class “Does that make sense to you”?  By the time I heard it about 50 times I lost interest in the class, did not hear what she said and did not go back the second or third day.

The other teacher could do nothing but find fault with any thing I did in the class.  I have honestly never had that experience before.  My colors were muddy, my composition was bad and it seemed I was the only one with this lack of skill.  As I have forward going watched a few shows she did, I realized that I appreciate her art style, but really personally do not like it.

Then I heard this phrase: “Testing the Extent of Your Power” and it made me think of both the classes.  The teachers were young, most of the students were older and I think they had to feel empowered to think they were teaching you something.  Teaching should be about giving your students the power to think they will succeed and grow better.  It is not to make you the teacher feel better.

Since I took the two classes I have not painted nor drawn anything.  Today it finally dawned on me why.  My ability was questioned with no positive input.  I could do no right.  I will start painting again soon, as I know I should not respond to someone else testing the extent of their power in a negative on me.

Teachers should always find something good, even if they don’t love your style.  There may be something creative done in a way different from what they would do.

Testing the Extent of Your Power

Nude with Glasses

Nude with Glasses

Decided to try using new water soluble pencils with pens in our drawing get together last night. The pens are SO unforgiving and after my last weekend my art confidence was at an new low. This is the only drawing that was even presentable

Next week I am back back to charcoal and will try new things in the privacy of my own studio.

Wonder if any of you have ever gone through a period where one or two people say something slightly degrading about your art and you believe them enough to let it set you back a year or two or day in your forward progress.

Teaching should (at any age) be a positive experience for the student and make them feel better about themselves. Share your opinion. What do you think?

When I taught interior design at The Art Institute of Seattle, we did a lot of sketching in our classes and I always thought it was important to say more good than bad about anyone’s work. I watched so many of my students grow in ability and confidence.


Well, Art is Ar…

Well, Art is Art, isn’t it? Still, on the other hand, water is water. And east is east and west is west and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does. Now you tell me what you know.

Groucho Marx

It is interesting to me that as we grow older and know what we know, taking classes from younger artists is not the best thing to do.  It is my humble opinion that younger artists want to teach us their style and when we, as older artists do not want to appreciate and learn their style they do not understand our style.  “Does that make sense” is a phrase I heard more than I ever want to hear in the last three days.

That said, I think that maybe Groucho knows more about producing art than a lot of our younger generation.  OMG I have said something that might cause conflict.

This weekend I took a class, which I walked out of on Sunday and then Monday I took a class that I left early. It finally dawned on me that the teachers were selling their art, but I did not respect what they did, so how could I learn from someone I did not really respect.  It is one thing to sell your art and another teach  “good” art.  Teachers should teach you to think about what you are doing, not quickly judge what you are doing and put it down. Maybe the lesson in this is to look at the art your proposed teachers are selling and see if you really love it.  If you do not, or think it is trite or bad color or to “sell” only rather than to design something that years from this year will be respected, then you should not take the class.

In my case, in most classes I have taken I am one of the most successful in the class, so when I am one of the least successful in the class to what do I attribute that failure?


Quote for the Day

Quote for the Day

Yesterday I took an art class and was to take the second day of the series today, and I had such a negative reaction to how the class was taught I took the ferry to the city, packed up my paint supplies and went home. I couldn’t force myself to stay another day and feel that unsuccessful about my art. I made a comment on my Facebook page and it seems I am not the only artist that has had that happen.

I respect the artists work that I took the class from, but to every explanation she asked: “Does that make sense?” For some reason hearing that statement over and over again was something I could not handle.

Lately I have been so busy taking classes from other people, I am not spending time on my own work. I thought it would be fun to take a lot of different classes, but I forgot with that are a lot of different styles.

When I realized after a long walk on the beach with my son and my husband, I enjoy the social part of a class as much, if not more than often what I learn. So many classes are repetitious with the only variance being a different point of view.

I had not idea how many experts there are on art until I started taking classes. Yes that was a rhetorical statement.


Eat Ice Cream

Eat Ice Cream

What a fun weekend taking a collage class with a lot of fun women. Never done any of this before and Kat DeBose was a great teacher. I used a lot of photos from my travels and decided rather than approach it as an art form to use it as a way to express satire.

Note in this one, the man is walking on water, or so he thinks and women enjoying their Ice Cream say to one another “Let him go”.

Tell me what you think of the idea! Might make a fun series of cards?

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