Orbs No. 25 - Waxed Watercolor - 32" x 48"

Orbs No. 25 – Waxed Watercolor – 32″ x 48″

Life is coming together in a wonderful way.  I have missed posting on a daily basis, however, my time away from the computer has been well spent.  thirty years ago I could only dream of painting the paintings I have recently created for the solo exhibit at Overlook Medical Center, November 1, 2013 – January 5, 2014 in the Bouras Gallery.  Going back to square one to study Color has paid off in trumps!

Orbs No. 14 - Watercolor - 22" x 15"

Orbs No. 14 – Watercolor – 22″ x 15″

For once, it was better that I didn’t have windows through which to see the beautiful days that passed by as I poured, sprayed, brushed, splattered and spun paint on paper, both large and small.  The trash I found at flea markets proved to be treasures, working as templates to create translucent layers of shapes that interact with one another.  The illusion of movement through space is fabulous in this new body of work.

The day after tomorrow I’m headed back to California to teach workshops and to paint the real world again in the hills surrounding San Francisco.  I’m hoping I can project a glimpse or two of my inner worlds onto the real world as I paint en plein air in the landscape that I love so much, those crazy barren hills with spots of live oak.

Though the life of a painter is always challenging, I wouldn’t trade it for any other sort of life.

Images:  Watercolor Orb Paintings, part of the Series for Art, Energy and Healing.

Counting the days until I find myself back in the Bay Area!

Orbs No. 22 - 22" x 30" Watercolor and Collage

Orbs No. 22 – 22″ x 30″
Watercolor and Collage

In the last week, I hung one solo show and dropped a dozen paintings off for the Sawmill Gallery Invitational that opened on Friday evening.  Both shows look fabulous.  The exhibit at Blue in Portland, Maine just ended.  All of the paintings for the upcoming exhibit Orbs, Science & Healing at the Bouras Gallery, Overlook Medical Center, must be framed and catalogued before I leave for California next week.  No wonder I haven’t been posting on my blogs lately!  In the middle of it all, a very dear friend reconnected, inspired and provided the fuel for the energy I have needed to produce and market this exciting new body of work!  Life is wonderful, to say the least.

If you live near Santa Rosa, please check out the workshops I will be teaching September 26, 27, 28 & 29 at RileyStreet Art Supply, Santa Rosa, CA.  Calendar of Workshops and Events

Painting:  Orbs No. 22, 22″ x 30″ watercolor with a tiny piece of handmade paper added.

I’m using a photo, converted to black and white to help me find a solution to a design problem in one of my current watercolor paintings.

“Oak Leaves and Earth Sphere”, 22″ x 30″ watercolor

The painting began with a pencil sketch of  oak leaves dancing in the wind just prior to last night’s storm.  When the rain came, I moved inside, mixed some colors and combined brushwork with tossing of paint to get things moving on the paper.  Eventually the sphere appeared.  Before I can determine the colors and values of the leaves ( most of which you can’t see in the photo ) I need to determine my basic value shapes, the shapes that will be seen from thirty feet away.  I like the strong diagonal line in the top half of the paper and I don’t want to lose any of my lights by simple throwing more paint and hoping it works.  I’ve printed six copies of the black and white photo on a sheet of paper.  I’ll use a pencil to try different value patterns and choose one to work from tomorrow.  It feels great to be working larger again.

“Oak Leaves and Earth Sphere” in progress

I’m also happy to be playing with orbs again.

Contour cross hatching appeals to me a bit more than linear cross hatching.

Contour Cross Hatched Spheres and Saucers

I started with a sphere and saucer pencil doodle that I blocked out following the contours of the shapes in preparation for cross hatching with ink.

Preliminary Pencil Sketch

After about fifteen minutes I relaxed a bit, loosening my death grip on the fountain pen. The lines flowed with better rhythm and I sensed a bit of spontaneity in the marks I made.  Spontaneity is not a word I thought I would ever use to describe my experience of cross hatching.

I used a Noodler’s eye dropper fill Fountain pen (looks just like a Preppy Fountain Pen) filled with Noodler’s Whaleman’s Sepia Ink.

If I were asked to invent a robot to function in space it would look something like this:

AeRobotic Number One - Watercolor

Or maybe this:

AeRobotic Number Two - Watercolor

If you need to gather light, transform it and store it you might use this one:

Light transformer - watercolor

For collecting assorted particles that are flying through space you would use this gathering tree:

The AeRobotic Gathering Tree - Watercolor

And now back to oil painting for a while….

No matter which direction I explore, I end up back at orbs and branching lines.

Cyberspace, Orbs No.5 - Watercolor and Gouache

Cyberspace, Orbs No.5 was painted in 2005 and measures approximately 28″ x 22″.  I still feel a strong connection with the painting, a rare experience for me.  There was something about the Rosebush (see earlier entry) drawing that made me think of the Cyberspace painting and the daily, automatic drawings that I did several years ago.   Those sketchbook drawings all ended up as orbs of one sort or another, connected by the energy of lines, hoops or force fields.

There was also the series of figures in which orbs appeared.

"Balance" - Watercolor

My current study of trees and the unique patterns of branching is bringing me back to that place of inspiration.  Leslie mentioned how the oak branches looked like tendons to him.  I agree.  There is an overlapping of pattern similarities that is tying together the elements of design and the expression of something that has kept me asking questions and looking for answers since I was a young child lying on the grass late at night staring up at the Milky Way.  That space between stars, between planets, as well as the space between the blades of grass mystifies me and fuels my passion.

Back to the fountain pen:


Abalone Marbles, Pen and Ink Squiggle Drawing


The marbles ended up different sizes.  Oh well, that happens.  What a delight to squiggle again with a fountain pen.  The Abalone game sits on a cedar chest in front of the window opposite my bed.  I expected the highlights to move more as the day passed.  They did not moved significantly.  I think it is because they are the reflections of the window and the light filters through the entire window.  The angle is the same, only the intensity and color of the light changes.  As I tried to correct the sizes of the marbles I caused problems with the highlights on the marbles.  The texture created by the squiggles is delightful regardless of inaccuracies.   Value choices are always key in these squiggle line drawings.  I can go darker, but I can’t go lighter.

I’m looking forward to getting downstairs so that I can scan the drawings rather than photograph them.  The blue background is the result of using the camera.  I’m too impatient to spend a lot of time fussing with it in photoshop.

Orb drawn with medium nib fountain pen, blue/black ink cartridge

I prefer the brown ink or the Noodler’s black ink.  The blue/black of the Cross cartridge is too cold for me.  Drawing with a medium nib fountain pen is more difficult for me than drawing with the fine nib of the Uchida pen.  I like the overall texture created with the fine nib.  Nevertheless, I am enjoying the squiggly line approach to rendering.

When the blue/black cartridge is empty I will change over to the cartridge ink converter so that I can use my Noodler’s ink.

Orbs - Polar Brown Noodler's Ink in a Uchida Fountain Pen

John Ruskin’s exercises have opened the door to rendering in ink.   Whereas simple line work with pen and ink or brush and ink are second nature to me, rendering form in ink has remained far out of my comfort zone.

Yesterday, my plan was to paint several small studies of sea shells.  Unfortunately, I had to upgrade my version of Quick Books Pro.  What should have been a one hour task turned into a frustrating, all day endeavor.  A kind, patient technician in the Philippines finally solved the problems at the end of the day.  During the long intervals of waiting, I squiggled with my fountain pen.

The Uchida is not a great pen.  I like it because it is wood and feels good in my hand.  It is far too scratchy to write with.  The ink often stops flowing freely.  Noodler’s Ink works better than any other ink in this pen.  I have kept the pen for its fine point nib.  Most of my pens have a medium point nib.  After squiggling with the Uchida yesterday it earned a permanent place in my collection and won’t find itself back in the pile of pens to be discarded.

These squiggles are entertaining while challenging my focus on form.  I cannot allow my concentration to be broken or I will work into the areas that must remain a light value. Watching the forms emerge is satisfying.  I recall a similar sensation when I watched the image appear in the darkroom many years ago.  Forms created by the squiggles take far longer to develop than forms on photographic paper.  A great deal of patience, more than I thought I was capable of, is demanded by these ink rendered drawings.  I have acquired a new form of meditation.