Friday, June 24, 2016


One of 4 mixed media pieces using the color teal.
Check out my Gallery page to view all four paintings.

I'm excited! All in one day I heard good news. One of my stories, Letters Home: Learning to Live in Tokyo has been included in the Story Circle Network Quarterly Journal for June. Two of my mixed media pieces will appear in the June issue of Stampington & Co's beautiful magazine, Somerset Studio Gallery. Wow! what a day!

I feel lucky to be a part of both magazines. To pass on my luck and say thank you, I am offering two of you a giveaway of the June Somerset Studio Gallery issue. The first readers to contact me at will receive a copy that will surely inspire you to give some of their creative ideas a try. Both of these groups have been important motivators for me and I want to share them with you.

The Story Circle Network is an online women's writing group, which offers support, publication, writing awards, and classes. I encourage you to join if you want to write your stories. Check out their website for information on classes and insights about writing your life.

Somerset Studio Gallery is a part of the Stampington & Co's collection of magazines that offer imagination, inspiration, and instruction in art and craft.  You can find them at

I have also received many wonderful responses to my blog last week, including discovering the origin of the How to Build a Community postcard. It is published by Syracuse Cultural Workers, who create some very thought-provoking cards, posters and other items.  Karen Kerney painted the watercolor How to Build a Community. Many cheers for this group's work. Take a look at their website:

I am also working on this blog, enlarging my site with pages that include artwork and responses to challenges I've initiated. It's still a work in progress. Let me know what you think!

Friday, June 17, 2016


Earlier this Spring I received this postcard from someone in Canada. Its sentiments seem especially appropriate this week. The list seems lighthearted at first, but left me thinking of small things I could do. Instead of my usual blog, I will leave you with these ideas to ponder.

Postcard created by Karen Kerney
How To Build Community
Text: Members SCW Community
Artist: Karen Kerney, watercolor. SCW© 1998
Postcard is available at

The Warriors, our local basketball team, use a phrase "Strength in Numbers,which  could be adopted by all of us who are thoughtful, kind, willing to compromise and understanding of other people's points of view. If we stand together, we will have "Strength in Numbers."

This poster represents people from all walks of my life.  I would like to enlarge the poster with photos of you. If you would like to be included, please send me a group photo of you with others in your life.
Send to

I created this poster using BigHugeLabs Mosaic Maker. 
Check them out at

Friday, June 10, 2016


A path deep in Lithia Park

I thought I was ready to paint. I sat at the picnic table in the middle of  Lithia Park in Ashland, Oregon, last weekend. I set out my watercolor palette, took out brushes, filled my container with water, and moved my watercolor tablet into position. I looked around at the scenery, but there wasn't a composition that stood out. It was too hot to move to another table further into the park. Without a preliminary sketch, I decided to just go for it. I did a quick sketch.

I started two other watercolors, and thought, "This isn't going to be as easy as I expected it to be." I could feel myself mixing up what I know about watercolors and acrylics, two mediums that I use regularly in very different ways. I began to doubt myself, but I reminded myself that I needed to focus. What did I want to do? Paint in a particular color? Work with darks and lights? Layer the paints -- putting down one coat, letting that dry before I painted another -- or do a quick sketch? Because I hadn't taken the time to quiet my mind and ask those questions, I was just throwing paint on the paper. Sometimes that works, today it didn't.

This is the mess I made,
which I gessoed over at home.
I'm still working on this piece.
It may be an envelope yet!

 This piece is unfinished. I like to paint in layers,
but that takes time to let each layer dry.

I saw a mallard swimming upstream and stopped to sketch him. I thought of egg shapes and got an outline down before he swam away. I could complete the duck later. I reminded myself that drawing and painting take time. It took me a lot of practice to learn to draw a face well. Working with watercolors can be just as difficult.

I stopped my two paintings, knowing that I could either rescue them at home or make them into envelopes if they really didn't work out. I took out a pencil and focused on a small section of the park -- ivy growing around the trunk of a tree and drew that. I felt better. I knew this drawing was going to be a study of darks and lights, of negative spaces. I knew that I needed time to arrive at what would be my real work for the day. The early paintings on any given day are warm-ups for my mind.

I love the decay and renewal in a forest.

On our way home from Ashland, I decided to sketch the mountain peaks that we passed. Mt. Shasta and Mt. Lassen are both volcanoes, but Mt. Diablo is not. Mt. Diablo was formed from volcanic rock through plate tectonic shifts. All three peaks remind me of Mt. Fuji, which also stands alone.

Friday, June 3, 2016


Wouldn't you like to be able to sketch the people sitting around you at the coffee shop?

 What better time to try to draw faces then in the summer outside while you are people-watching.

Gesture drawing by Hugh Heimdahl

My cousin Hugh is an accomplished artist. He unearthed the drawings displayed here while looking through some of his old portfolios.

by Hugh Heimdahl

This is a self-portrait by Hugh who has a wry sense of humor. Doesn't that show in his self-portrait?

These two drawings show the remains of the prep work that Hugh did before he finalized his portraits. He, like art students everywhere, learned to draw the face by bringing it back to its simplest form: the egg.

by Hugh Heimdahl

As Picasso said, "When you start a portrait and search for a pure form, a clear volume, arrive inevitably at the egg. Likewise, starting with the egg and following the same process in reverse, one finishes with the portrait."

Faces:  something we know so intimately yet we find so hard to draw. To try drawing faces, give these steps a try.

Technique drawing by Martha Slavin

With practice, faces become easier. Sitting at a cafe table, you could make a quick sketch of the people around you because you know where the elements of the face belong inside that egg shape. You will also refresh your geometry lessons to help you construct something that looks three-dimensional on a flat plane.

by Hugh Heimdahl

If you would like to see more of Hugh's work and to enjoy his quirky sense of humor, check out his website: