last figure for now

So here’s my last of five figures, all painted from photos from the Croquis Cafe art model resource online. I ended up feeling like the photos had less detail than I had in doing (face) portraits. Next I need to find some live models and try it out!


making things up

This is personal. “Bring yourself in,” said my drawing teacher in Portland. To bring myself in takes practice, trust, humility, diminished ego, diminished fears, quieted judgement and self- criticism. That same teacher urged us to separate creating from judging. The judging mind cannot create, he’d say.

I’ve been working with delightful and generous friends, painting their portraits. I’ve begun to learn about working with live people, including realizing I don’t have their permission to post their portraits without their say-so. So I’ll get back to that!

Meanwhile, a day spent on opening up to finding myself in pencil and paint.


last in course

Yayoi Kusama: I think of her as super-creative because she works in so many different worlds: paint, performance, film, sculpture.

She is known for an indefatigable work ethic, filling enormous canvasses with repetitive polka dots (her signature symbol). I didn’t see her show when she came to town. Did you?

My small effort with polka dots:




I really enjoy working with charcoal. Probably because I feel comfortable, have a level of practice and hours into working with charcoal.

And I’d like to feel the same about paint. And don’t even get me started on watercolor! That is hard!

I had a gorgeous ruffle-y pink peony from my yard. Was excited try to paint. Less excited about results, working from “real life” (the peony).


So I switched. I took a photo of the peony (thinking it was going to start to fade and fall apart). Switched from color to b&w and got the charcoal out.



So then, today at art school, we got to talking about the difference working between real vs photo, and the result was to set me up with a photo of me (he took this a.m.) and I worked in b&w oil paint only. Next step, work from people (in person – not from photos) and see how the portraits change.


course work 6

Ad Reinhardt 1913-1967

Ad Reinhardt was “one of the most relentless defenders of the purity of abstraction.” So reads the first line from the link, above. He would have scoffed completely at the use of  the term “abstract landscapes”.

Two things stand out: other artist biographies in this course mention that Ad was a good friend. He was important to Agnes Martin.

The other thing is that he was a wicked cartoonist who taught/mocked through his cartoons. You can see them online in an 2013 article at

In his last decade he altered his oil paints, reduced them to liquid pigment and painted matte black paintings with subtle color tints.

It’s hard to do – here’s mine:

71EE9C39-DE17-4F84-BE27-0284853701EF.jpegAnd back to Agnes Martin for a moment: the latest New Yorker (June 10&17) has a short story byHan Ong, “Javi”. The painter in the story sure sounds like Agnes Martin, but Han Ong moves the timeline perhaps to the present?


course work 5

Next up: Agnes Martin.

She gets called a minimalist, she considered herself an Abstract Expressionist. To her, the paintings expressed her deep spirituality, based on the Zen master who was influencing many of the artists of the time, D. T. Suzuki (I think).

The Guardian has a more complete biography of Agnes Martin (1912-2004). One of her recurring forms was a grid, taking up all the space on the painting surface. There are a zillion ways to produce a grid!

I appreciate her life story.

Here are my efforts:

course work 4

Mark Rothko was this week’s assignment. Born in 1905 in what is now Latvia, he moved to the US and lived in SW Portland, OR until he went to college.

In 2012, one of his works was vandalized at the Tate in the UK. The story of restoring the canvas is amazing. The link takes you to a short documentary about the science and skill of the people who restored the work.

Here is one tiny corner of a Rothko painting with the beautiful overlapping layers of color:


And here is my homework. I found choosing a color scheme and creating the layers very challenging!