Sunday, December 31, 2017

Happy New Year!

"The Flirt"  
    As I write this, it is 9:30 p.m. on New Year's Eve.  Yes, I'm at home and glad I am.  This has never been one of my favorite holidays.  We usually go to a movie, eat out, and come home by 9:00 p.m.  Then, it's a roll of the dice whether we make it till midnight to welcome the New Year in.  :)  Anyway, I thought I would tell you my New Year's resolution.  I have only One, but it's a big one!  They say that if you write out your plan, that it's more likely to happen. 
     I want more BALANCE in my life.  I tend to go full throttle on any one thing and then everything else falls by the way side.  So, in 2018, I pledge to try to have more balance.  That will mean that I have to think ahead and plan!  We'll see if this resolution lasts more than a month, like other years.  I wish all of you the Best New Year ahead! 
    By the way, this picture, "The Flirt" is an example of the subject for a 2 Day workshop in Sedona, AZ.  This Funky Lady workshop will be on January 17 and 18th of 2018.  I'm also teaching "Wire Drawing", one of my favorite things EVER during this workshop.  To sign up, contact Nancy Boulais at

Monday, December 4, 2017

Little Abbeys- Great Warm ups!

"Hope"    Original watercolor and Collage
5" x 7" Image,   $45 plus shipping
Whenever I'm feeling scared to face that white sheet of paper, I turn to a variety of warm up exercises.  One of those is painting "little abbeys".  This is a nickname that I gave to little abstracts many years ago.  The process is that you start with only 3 colors and paint a cruciform design.  Then you add that collage papers for pops of color and textures that are hard to paint.  I use napkins, gelli print papers, newspapers, and magazines for the collage papers.  I use acrylic matte medium to adhere them to the underpainting.  I'm teaching this process in Watertown, SD on October 18 and 19, 2018.  Contact Jennifer Stone at to sign up!
These paintings teach you some very good painting habits and I use these for studies for larger paintings too.  They really get my imagination going!  This one is called "Hope".  I used Spring colors to signify regrowth, and bright yellow for a happy color! 

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Slaying the Dragon

"The Sound of Silence"   $2500, framed
Original watercolor, collage, and acrylic
Image size:  22 x 30"  Framed:  30 x 38"

This painting took me 4 days to complete.  I whined all the way through it! 'as I tell my students who whine,  "Would you like a little cheese to go with that whine?"   It was truly a lesson in perseverance.   There were so many times when I wanted to quit and make it into a journal cover, something I do with my rejects.  But this voice kept telling me that my best paintings are the ones that involve a struggle.  When this happens to you, here's my advice:  
1.  Ask yourself why you are painting this.  Be sure to get that message across to the viewers.
2.  Keep telling yourself to have fun!  Learn from your mistakes and go forward a wiser person.
3.  Draw a value sketch if your design is faltering.
4.  Remember my 3 words:  Repetition, Variation, and Dominance.
5.  Take photos of your painting in progress.  You will see values lots better in the tiny screen.

Now, that I'm finished, I'm so glad that I continued the good fight and truly did slay that dragon!!! This painting is for my solo exhibition in Miles City, MT at the Waterworks Museum on Oct. 15 - Nov. 10th.  My opening reception is on the 15th at 1:00.  Everyone is invited to attend! 

Friday, August 11, 2017

Paintings with the same value patterns

"Wheels of Imagination, #2"   6" x 6" image
11" x 11" framed,   $145 framed
Sorry it's been so long since I have blogged.  It's been a busy teaching schedule and it's hard to keep up with everything!  Check out my website for future workshops!
Squint and you will see my simple light pathway in the little abstract painting above.  I am preparing for a solo exhibition at the WaterWorks Art Museum in Miles City, MT, and my plan is to have several groupings of paintings, both abstract and traditional that have the same original design and the same color scheme.  My show runs from October 15 - November 10th.  I will also be teaching a workshop in Miles City from October 16 - 18, 2017.  Contact DeNice Curry at (406) 234-0635 or email: if interested.  You can check out my website, for the details of the workshop.
My students all know how passionate I am about creating a light pathway for every painting.  Below is a floral that I used the same light value pattern.  Can you see it?  I can't recommend this strongly enough for creating a good design in your paintings.
"Never too Late for Lilies"  11" x 14" image,
16" x 20" framed,   $345 framed

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Challenges are good! Matching eyeballs.

Several months ago, Michaels Craft Store featured a paper tape by Jane Davenport, where the whole roll of tape features
eyes.  I thought it would be fun to challenge my nephew, Ren, who just graduated from High School, to start with the same eye and then we would complete them with our own imaginations.  Below is paper tape roll and my notebook as it appeared in the beginning of the challenge.

Here is my favorite completed drawing, that I call "Robotica".  My nephew, Ren, likes science fiction stuff, so I was trying to think of mechanical images as I did this.  I used my wire drawing skills to get the unusual line work.  It was so fun to do!  The right eye is the paper tape eye.
6" x 6" wire drawing

Below is Ren's drawing, that started with the same paper tape eye.  He got an art scholarship for college. He is so gifted.  From the time he was 2 years old, he has always sketched almost every day!  I'm a very proud aunt!   Isn't his drawing fantastic?  Doing these will build your imagination and might even lead to a painting. Really fun to do!
Drawing by Ren Nisley

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Before and After! Makeovers are good sometimes!

"Proud in Pink"
 Image:  29"x 21"  Framed:  38" x 30"
Acrylic Painting on Paper        $2000
The painting on the left was painted at the Joyce Ells Paint-in last Fall. I knew that it wasn't done, but decided to set it aside till I knew how to solve it. First of all, paintings at Paint-in's often have problems because you are among 30 other artists with lots of interruptions and gabbing during your creative process. I'm not complaining cuz I love Paint-ins. I am there to reconnect with my art buddies rather than having the goal of creating masterpieces. Anyway, I have had this landscape in my mind for at least 5 years with a dusty pink barn and Holstein cows leading up to the barn. I finally decided to paint that image. But then I lost my nerve to add the cows. No worries, cuz at least I had the pink house and barn. Someone came by and remarked how awful the colors were!😳 Pretty gutsy of her, don't you think? Well, that made me even more determined than ever that the pink barn STAYS!
So, this week, I needed a painting for a national competition and decided that it was time for me to finally do a makeover on this painting.
Things I wanted to change:
1. I didn't like the brown colors.
2.  I felt that the light pathway lacked interest.
3. The painting lacked the "wow" factor, so I decided to add bright colors.
4.  The center of interest needed to be made more clear.

So, I worked out a color triad that went with pink. Yes, the pink has to stay!  I used cobalt blue, Quinacridone magenta, and hansa yellow medium.  I also added a tiny bit of raw umber and Bahama Blue.  I got out my chalk and made a better pathway of light.  Then I wiped out the new pathway, using rubbing alcohol.  If you know me at all, you know that I love the color, red.  I knew that if I showcased the building by red, that I would be a happy camper!  I instantly felt better after the red was added.  I think this is a good lesson for all of us.  Some of my BEST paintings are the ones that I struggle with.  They appear deeper, if I can only make it past the ugly teenage stage!  Now, I love the new colors and I like the new design too.  Fingers crossed that it will get accepted into the show that I entered.  Time will tell..... But the most important critique of your paintings is always YOU, and if you are pleased with the outcome, nothing else matters!  

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Landscape Wire drawing

So, my latest craze is wire drawings. I love drawing birds or other animals, and now have added abstracts to the list. One thing that has been hard for me till now, is drawing landscapes using my wire drawing skills. I'm encouraged by this outcome. I'm hoping to do an acrylic Gustav Klimt beginning and bring this landscape study to life. Wish me luck!

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Best soup EVER!!!

"Tortilla Soup"
Tonight, my husband, Dick, and I made homemade soup together. Part of our new lifestyle after Dick retired, is cooking together. Secretly, I'm hoping that he will like it so much that he will take over the cooking chore. 😀  Anyway, I found this recipe in a People Magazine and it's one of the best soups I've ever had. Here's the recipe: Enjoy!!!

Tortilla Soup
From Karen Knutson
(serves 8)

2 ½ lbs. chicken breasts
4 dried ancho chiles OR 4 dried pasilla chiles
4 cup chicken broth (2 cans)
3 fresh tomatoes, chopped
3 teaspoons chopped garlic
1 tsp. Kosher salt, or to taste
¾ large white onion, diced
1 large bunch fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
Tortilla strips (you can buy these at Byerly’s near the fresh soup deli)
Fresh spinach
About 3 or 4 avacados (pitted, peeled and diced)
About 1 cup feta cheese
8-10 fresh mushrooms, sliced in large slices or ¼ cubes

In a large stockpot, bring chicken and broth to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer until the chicken is tender, about 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, place chiles in another medium saucepan, cover with cold water, and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the chiles are soft, about 10 minutes.  Then, Drain the chile.  Let cool slightly and then, remove the seeds, stems, and veins.  Cut into strips and set aside.
 With a slotted spoon, remove the chicken from pot and, after it cools, cut into cubes (if you plan to freeze this, make the cubes large, if not, make them about 1” cubes).  Set aside the stockpot of broth.
Place the chiles, tomatoes, onion, garlic, and salt in a food processor or blender.  Process until smooth, adding ½ cup of the reserved broth if the mixture is too thick.
Stir the chile puree and half of the cilantro into the broth.  Simmer for 30 minutes.  Add salt if needed.  Stir in the chicken and the remaining cilantro.  Cook for 10 minutes.  Add mushrooms the last 5 minutes.  Add remaining cilantro just before serving.

In bowls, place about 4 or 5 spinach leaves in the bottom of the bowl.  Then add soup, and top with avocado, about 1 T. feta cheese, and the tortilla strips.  Serve immediately.  

**This recipe is a revised version, From Eva Longoria (of Desperate Housewives)  from People magazine.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Acrylic Abstract workshop

The first 2 days of The Villages, Florida workshop, we worked on white flowers with an abstract background.  We made our own papers, using deli paper and handmade stamps (made with mat board).  It was a hard first day, with so much to learn, but I knew that we had to start with that one, so that they would be fresh and alert, doing the hardest painting.  One thing that I emphasize in my workshops is having a light pathway.  Squint and you will see it here.  On the next 2 days, we painted dragonflies and that was lots easier.  I used a brayer to start this one, just spreading acrylic paint on Arches watercolor paper, with wild abandon.  Then we drew a wire drawing of a butterfly or a dragonfly on top of the abstract design.
Their paintings are pictured below.  Can you believe how good they are?  I had a great time teaching at The Villages.  I believe that it's my 5th time teaching for them.  If you are ever in that area, check out their workshops.  Beverly Hennessey is the director of workshops there and she does a great job!  

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Acrylic and Collage

Painting on a wrapped canvas is so fun! I usually start by preparing the surface with gesso. Then I made my own collage papers, using a gelli pad. This is so fun!!! I used limited colors, something I learned from Carrie Burns Brown.  Using 2 opposite colors, black and white.  You will be able to achieve at least 20 different colors and your paintings will be unified! Try it! Click on Carrie's name to watch a You tube video. She was a great instructor!!!!
I'm attending a Paint-in now hosted by Karlyn Holman. She is one of my favorite artists! We have so much fun! This painting was completed at the Paint-in, where we all get inspiration from each other. Positive energy floors in the air. This painting, "Shades of Gray" is available for $345.  (12" x12" wrapped canvas)


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