Posting online tutorials has been one of my goals for the past year.  It has finally become a reality, thanks to all who have already walked this path and are willing to share their expertise.  I have spent the last two weeks learning how to set up the ipad on my tripod, exchanging files between devices, editing, adding music and uploading to Vimeo.  Next phase is voice overs and text.

I’m posting basic tutorials on my website blog showing various lessons taught in my Color Scheme Game Workshops.  I hope they will serve as quick reference and refreshers for my students.

What I didn’t expect was that I would learn so much from watching myself paint!


Be forewarned, this entry is disjointed, triggered by a Tom Waits song that mentioned the “one-eyed Jack”.

My first ribbon painting, watercolor

The image shown is the first of the paintings I did that exposed the ribbons of my brain.  I had learned a watercolor glazing technique at a workshop I attended back in the 80’s.  I find it a bit interesting that I used my least favorite complementary color combination of green and red.

Several month ago Kathleen asked me if I have songs constantly running through my brain as a background to everything else.  No, I don’t.  I have ribbons of color and light constantly running as a background to everything else in my brain.

Since that conversation with Kathleen I have asked several of my musician friends the same question.  The reply in most cases is “yes”.  That appears to be one of the main reasons that many musicians don’t have music going as a background sound while they are at home.  The music on the stereo system is constantly in conflict with the music that is running through their brains.  Though they can choose the music on their ipods or stereos, they have no control over the music that runs through their brains.

I’m thinking that the reason I want to listen to music is that I don’t have it running through my brain.  Watching the ribbons dance through my brain makes me feel deaf when there’s not music to accompany them.  I watch the movement of the ribbons, wondering what they are dancing to.

Painting to live music is expressing the physical manifestations of some of those ribbon movements that are my constant companion.  Perhaps that is why, more than any other paintings or drawings, I feel connected to those quick little paintings.  It’s as if my brain can finally spit out a bit of what it’s been watching forever.

So then, why aren’t more of my paintings like that?  Hmmmm.  Good question.

Back to the one-eyed Jack….

As a young child I spent hours combining dominoes, checkers, chessmen and playing cards on a masonite checkerboard, inventing stories of adventure and romance.  I found the two one-eyed jacks (the jack of hearts and the jack of spades) a bit scary.  The jack of diamonds and the jack of clubs were much friendlier and far less intimidating.  I would generally settle for the less intimidating jacks to be the chosen mates for the queens.  I’ m not sure why the kings were never chosen. The queens, however, became bored quite quickly and ended up thinking about the one-eyed jacks.  I ended the game before the queens ever had a chance to shake up their lives.

I’m not sure what the connection is to the ribbons, but I know that right after the memory of the childhood games was triggered, the ribbons of light became extremely intense in my brain, coming to the forefront rather than staying in the background.

The question to all of you is “What is it that runs as a constant background in your brains?”

It was a gray day, perfect for inventing color, contrasts and shapes:

Buddleia Bush Number Two - Playful watercolor

I doubt anyone would guess this is a Buddleia (Butterfly Bush).  Buddleia Bush Number One is posted on my Creative Color blog.  The gray day provided nothing more than the positive and negative shapes of the branches and leaves crossing over one another, a perfect opportunity to stare long and hard at the painting rather than the bush.  I enjoy combining blobs of rich pigment along with careful glazing.

Color Palette: Cadmium Yellow Pale, Raw Sienna, Vermillion, Alizarin Crimson, Light Red, Cerulean Blue, Thalo Blue, Cobalt Blue, Viridian.

I crept up on this one, being careful to save the white of the paper for the middle cluster of sails.

Watercolor Study of Sailboats

The sky began as a very flat wash.  I like it much better with the suggestion of clouds.  The organic shapes of the clouds balance the angular shapes of the sails and creates a sense of air and distance.  The pattern in the sky also allows for more color play in the water.

I used several layers of glazes for the water, the sky and the sails.  The sails of the boats on either side of the cluster of three have the look of off-white cotton canvas sails rather than the sharp white nylon sails that are on the center boats.  I played with the values of the cotton sails to create lost and found edges against the sky in order to avoid competition with the center sails.

The early stages of the portrait of belly dancer Rachel Brice expressed an energy and spontaneity that I did not want to risk losing. After allowing the under painting to dry for a week, I liked the blue color of her skin and had no desire to begin the layers of glazing. My curiosity won out and I had to see what would happen when I began to apply more color. Besides, I was rather tired of mixing greens for the landscapes I have been working on. Getting back to the movements of a dancing body was a welcome change.

Pushing a painting further challenges my ability to manipulate color and brushstrokes and to correct the drawing with simplicity in mind. Pushing a painting to another level also tests my intuitive instincts to know when to stop, to know when a painting has made a statement that engages the viewer to keep the communication going. If the painting has the last word, it has reached the point of boredom. The viewer will move on with no intention of returning to finish the conversation.

At this point, I think the painting will require at least two more layers of glazes.

Image: Portrait of Rachel Brice
Oil on wood panel 10 1/2″ x 14″

Link to page on website featuring progress of portrait paintings