Aug 15

Class: Writing & Illustrating Children’s Books (Week 4-5)

I don’t know where the last few weeks has gone, but Thursday my Writing and illustrating Children’s Books class ended with the remaining students (5 out of more than a dozen) presenting their “mini” books.

I present here my book. I have revised a few things and I still have a few paintings to finish. But I think you’ll get the idea. It’s really amazing how much work can go into crafting twelve sentences.











Aug 15

Class: Messy Palette Club (week 4)

The heat drove me from Salem down to the beach to see my mom. I took my paints with me so I would have an excuse other than heat for this migration (not that I really needed one.)

I drove out a side road next to the Siletz Bay Wildlife Refuge to see if I could find an out of the way place to paint. I found a bridge located on a bridge and set up my shop for a couple of hours.

I did a very poor job with my reference photos, but the assignment was to create a value sketch before painting.

Then I went into my “full” painting.


I would have liked to get the marsh grass a richer, deeper yellow.

Then I turned and look east. I didn’t get any reference photos, but I did two paintings.

siletz east

And this one, which took a leap off the bridge when a car went back and into the weeds below. No rescue was possible (if I wished to live.)

painting in the weeds

Aug 15

Class: Messy Palette Club (week 3)

It’s catch up time again!

This week the focus was simplifying the major landscape elements. We were challenged to do a painting, selecting five key parts and to work out how to simplify them.

I went out to the Ankeny Wildlife Refuge and set up on Eagle Marsh for a couple hours of painting.

It was so much fun, I decided to do another version.

In both versions I struggled to get the water to “lie flat.”

Aug 01

Class: Messy Palette Club (week 2)

This week, specifically by Thursday, I have to finish a “mini-book” for my writing and illustrating class. So, in an attempt to clear my schedule, I did this week’s homework for the Messy Palette Club (Vinita Pappas) because that had to be done by Tuesday and then I could procrastinate.

The overarching theme of this class is “simplicity.” Vinita had us do a simple (and very fun) exercise where we picked six items and tried to match their color.


She asked us to sketch out the items very simply in pen. Then to paint “very flat.” We weren’t going for realistic items so much as color matching.


The sweet peas weren’t the correct color, but other than that, I like this a lot.

For “bonus points” we were encouraged to take the exercise “outside” and five or six colors “from life” to use in a painting.


I liked this exercise too. It definitely gets you thinking about what you are really thinking.

Unfortunately my next “extra credit” was to attempt a 15-minute plein air painting. That didn’t turn out so well. I got distracted and forgot to simplify…


Can’t win them all!


P.S. I turned in two paintings for the Fall WSO show yesterday. Fingers crossed. It would be great to get into “my own show.”

Aug 01

And I wonder why I’m exhausted

Today (Sunday, day of rest) I have done the following:

  • Got up
  • Walked the dogs
  • Got my haircut
  • Picked up an item at the store
  • Went to pet store (twice, actually) because the kids think they need to be fed every day
  • Bought groceries
  • Finished my week 2 painting class homework
  • Gone to library
  • Went to dog training class
  • Done laundry (4 loads)
  • Done food prep for week
  • Make 3 batches of pesto for freezing
  • Checked email and facebook
  • Wrote this blog and one more


Jul 26

Class: Messy Palette Club (week 1)

Yes, folks, I have gone all in to try to get my creativity back. In addition to the “Writing and Illustrating Children’s Books” class (Mom got a HUGE kick out of this post), I signed up to take an online watercolor class (Summer Session Watercolor Painting Class a.k.a. Messy Palette Club) with a local instructor I have been wanting to take a class from for quite a while.

I have mainly been familiar with Vinita Pappas’ simply breathtaking plein air landscapes, though she does studio abstract and representational paintings as well. Several times a year she posts online classes, and this time I decided to go for it. The price is similar to an “in person” class through the local community college. Also, if you need to, you can take your time and catch up with the lessons.

Also appealing was the proposed “focus” of the summer session: Simplicity.

Week 1 officially started last Tuesday. While Monday is my painting night (don’t laugh too much), I did some work on Wednesday to see how things worked.

Lesson 1 was about “loosing edges.” Vinita demonstrated on an apple. I had an onion.


It’s harder than it looks! The idea is to keep the key parts of the shape (the lightest light, the darkest dark) and see how much of the rest you can “suggest.” I think I got a little over detailed.

Then we did a wet-into-wet exercise. And Key ate it (rotten dog).


I salvaged a little and did the homework.


I’ll try to add a little bit of ink for a barn or something after it dries.

Then I decided to experiment. I thought the lost edges experiment would be fun with horse legs. I took sepia (eventually adding white gouache because I lost too many lights) and went to town.


I think there is some potential here! I might try again.

Jul 25

Crazy cat lady retires and puts away her cape

As I mentioned, for the last few months I have been working on trapping and releasing members of a feral cat colony in an “abandoned” house down the road from me using a grant for residents of 97301 to have their cats spayed or neutered for free.

At the end of June, my quest had the following results:

  • 2 kittens (taken to Willamette Human Society and adopted)
  • pet cat – April 27, May 3
  • dark tabby – May 5
  • gray and white female – May 9
  • black female – May 22
    • I caught the mama cat! After weeks of cat trapping ups and downs, the current status is two kittens taken to the humane society and (hopefully) adopted, 1 pet cat caught (twice, the little devil), 1 female cat caught and spayed, and tonight, the mama cat has been caught! I just locked her in with bungie cord, so hopefully she’ll still be there when she goes to get spayed tomorrow! I am so excited!
  • gray and white with broken leg – May 31
    • Feeling a little like the devil. The cat I brought in for a spay/neuter was really mean and sort of scary. The clinic just called and said it had a broken leg and recommended euthanasia. I intellectually understand this is for the best, but I am trying to do a good thing… not a mean thing.
  • gray tabby – June 13
    • Another feral cat to the neuter this morning. It’s always a wow when I see people bring in 12 cats… volunteers for a cat group. I mean, wow! Talk about dedication.
  • tabby (young one) – June 17
    • Official opinion: People are crazy. Evidence?
      1. I got up 1/2 hour early for the 10th time to take a 6th cat to the Humane Society for spay/neuter. (See, I’m crazy too.)
      2. When I get there, there is a small box on their doorstep. Inside the box, a pet snake. [Second opinion: There is no point in having a snake for a pet. They aren’t pets. They must be fuzzy and lick your face to be a pet.]
      3. There are signs everywhere on the property that say: “Abandon an animal and go to jail.” The snake-dropper-offer left their phone number on the box.
      4. Willamette Humane Society does not accept snakes, so now they have to find a home for it.
  • tabby and white (young one ) – June 20

I had four more appointments lined up, but then one day I walked by the house and the for sale sign was down and a crew of workers was clearly in the midst of fixing the house.

I asked the crew leader/new owner if he was wanting to continue with the trapping; he said no, they were going to tear off the porch where all the cats had been living.

Thus ends the crazy cat lady.

Jul 25

Class: Writing & Illustrating Children’s Books (Week 3)

Week 3 was billed as having a “guest” speaker, but we started out in our “usual” fashion of a creative prompt to start the class. The prompt: “Your weekend.” As Mom had just visited, and as usual we went to Konditorei, my drawing was…


We did a short review of last week’s techniques, then Grant Burgess (literature degree from Reed College) gave us a lecture on the history and development of children’s books and the traditional plot. It wasn’t a bad lecture. I did this drawing…


… and got this quote to consider.

Your conflict should tell you more about your character and who you are dealing with than all sort of character introduction.

Words to consider in light of our challenge in the next two weeks: to develop and finish a mini children’s book!


  • Must follow “The Traditional Plot”
  • Must be at least six pages but no  more than twelve
  • An illustration on each page
  • One developed character
  • One close up illustration of a character’s face
  • One panorama scene

Nothing like a challenge!

Jul 25

Class: Writing & Illustrating Children’s Books (Week 2)

I intended to “catch up” on all three classes to date, but the last post got a little long, so I decided to divide the subject into weeks.

Week 2 started out with a review of the week before…

Key aspects of character development (focus on “connection through relatable experience.”):

  • Who
  • Where
  • When
  • What did you learn
  • Why was it relatable

And we moved into fighting “creative block” (boy do I need that.) Even though our class is only five weeks, and Ms. Malberg would like us to finish a book by the end, to do further awesome things (such as write something worthy of publishing) we’ll have to be creative well past the class.

We did a couple of writing prompts.

  1. 1st Day of School


  2. Best Day Ever


From there we learned several drawing methods because so many people in the class were nervous about their drawing skills.

Oval Method


Two additional expressions…

Stick Method



Free Time to “Develop a Character”

Meta sees the new tree (expression: surprise)

Meta sees the new tree (expression: surprise)

What do you think?

Jul 25

Class: Writing & Illustrating Children’s Books (Week 1)

Well, after that last post, I could use some actual art-related posts. Luckily, I’ve been taking a couple of classes, so I have lots to talk about.

For the last few weeks I’ve been taking “Writing and Illustrating Children’s Books” through Chemeketa Community College and taught by Kristina Malmberg (owner of Yes You Can Creations.)

When I originally signed up for this class (which actually was several months ago, but it got cancelled a couple of times,) I really didn’t have any big goals. I just wanted to take a class and maybe meet some people and this class sounded like fun. Also, I really like children’s books.

My one worry was being treated like a child because of the topic; is there anything worse, as an adult, than being treated to a sing-song-voiced instructor talking down to you? I am happy to report Ms. Malmberg is a professional and conscientious teacher who treats the subject seriously.

Week 1 – July 7

Week 1 introduced us to the subject by reading some children’s books (some classic, some not-so-classic) and dissecting them into what worked and what didn’t work, from both an art and story perspective.

We were then challenged to develop a scene based on a personal experience and think about “what did we learn” and “what was it relatable.”

I developed the following story.

I fell into the pizza

Every week we go to pizza.

We order a big pizza.

I watch it being made through the window.


I know which one is mine by the toppings.

When it’s done, my dad gets it from the counter.

One night, I volunteered to go get it.

I proudly carried it to the table. It felt very big.

holdingthe pizza

But then, I tripped.


And I fell.

Into the hot pizza!


The toppings were everywhere.

My pants got hot.

I started to cry.

I couldn’t get up.

My dad picked me up.

I was crying.

Mom wiped me off.

We got another pizza… to go.

I got a bath.


And then some pizza.


The next week everyone at the pizza parlor knew my name.


It was embarrassing.

But kind of nice, too.

My dad got the pizza until I was a little older.


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