This weekend something unusual happened. I suddenly became interesting finishing all the things. This almost never happens. It’s much more common to get “startitis” where you want to do all the things. For once, my location and available interest coincided with this passion for finishing, so I have been quietly chugging through the items on my desk, getting up every so often to take the dog for a walk. Here’s a progress report to date.

Dancing Cranes

Sometimes flawless painting ideas are hobbled by the talents of their originator. Such is the case with this pair of paintings. They have been hanging around for a couple of months, and no brilliant ideas were making themselves known. So, I sat down and decided move forward.

“Shall We Dance”
“Sometimes You Gotta Dance”

It’s possible that “Shall We Dance?” could work out with a few more steps, but I’m leaning toward just recycling the paper. There are just too many awkward and uninspired shapes.

Finishing Touches

I put the finishing touches on “Patience”. I’d like to go ahead and enter the AAEA show and have that crossed off my list, but I’m still struggling with what the entry should include. Based on feedback, “Pretty Pickup Pony” should go, but I’m not sure about that final spot.


Speaking of making decisions, I’ve decided that “No Dumping” is going to be my final submission to accompany Lauren Mallett‘s  poem for the Hoffman Gallery‘s October show “Word & Image”.


To do list

It may sound like a small thing, but I checked off viewing a YouTube video by Kimberly Santini. That had been sitting around in my to-do pile for ages. Here’s the page.

The big project

This isn’t a sequential list, but you can see I’m making progress on my list. So that gave me some time to work on “the big project.”

I have volunteered to teach a break-out session at the Watercolor Society of Oregon’s Fall Convention. The title is “Dynamic value studies with liquid charcoal.” And the next time I volunteer for something like this, I’m going to know what I’m doing BEFORE volunteering.

All this is to say that I’ve on a bit of a steep learning curve to figure out not just how to use liquid charcoal (not terribly different than any other watercolor) but also to teach an interesting class on value studies. I need to fill up 90 minutes, so hear me out on my proposed schedule.

Minute 0-10 – Getting everyone settled an “there”

Minute 10-15 – Show examples of cool charcoal things.

Minute 15-25 – Do a 4-minute warm up exercise with goal of feeling how paint goes on.

Minute 25-45 – Exercise 1: Ombre and Lifting (1 painting)

Minute 45-60 – Exercise 2: Heron (rejected) (the drawing made me anxious, so I am assuming it will make others anxious)

Exercise 2 – Ribbon (rejected) (Lifting, too similar to #1)

Exercise 2 – Reversing (rejected) (I like the results, but the drawing is too complex) (see more about this later)

Exercise 2: Reversing (see more about this later)

Minute 60-75 – Exercise 3: Combining Shapes (rejected) (I’m not good enough to explain how it’s cool)

Exercise 3: TBA

Minute 75-90 – Assume things won’t go to schedule? Lengthen everything? Add a critique option?

So, as you can see, I need to identify one more segment. I think I have a winner, but that’s my next step.

In addition to simply sorting out what I’m going to present, I’ve also agreed to make a video of this so WSO members who might feel anxious about coming to the convention can participate. So, each of these demos has been recorded on my Iphone and will need to be edited into something approaching coherence.

But wait, there’s more

In spite of this being a BIG project, I’m actually learning a lot and enjoying myself. I’m finding myself wanting to explore ideas that come up during painting. “Patience” (shown above) is one such example.

Another example is this, still unfinished painting.

“Life Goals” – unfinished

I can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve painted humans, and there is a reason for that. However, the value study got me going and I decided to give this a whirl. The walking sticks are still masked, and I am still working on the values. And I’m not sure about those red shoes. But there are some kind of fun things about this painting. It’s not how I envisioned it, but it’s definitely stretching my skills.

This final painting was a consequence of the value exercises as well.

“Losing My Rights” – unfinished

As you can see, I’ve flipped the painting over. I may change the orientation again. And I’m still working on the values. But this painting is definitely not like others I’ve done.


I said goodbye yesterday to my two hawk babies. Here is the final video.


Tomorrow is the fourth of July, and I hope everyone (or technically, all Americans who celebrate) stays safe and has the opportunity to spend time with those important to them. And that your pets remain safe and calm. I’m not sure about my plans. I may goof off, as this seems like a lot of work for a single week. On the other hand, I feel like I’m on a roll, so we’ll see.

I’ll close with this. As you go about your celebrations, think about the document that was sent to King George of England on this day 246 years ago.

“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

Consent seems like an interesting word to me.

One thought on “Flow”
  1. You have been busy. On the Shall we dance if you work on it a little more I think it will be good. I would darken the background behind the birds to make them pop out more. Love the concept. Good for y ou to do the WSO breakout. Can’t remember where it is this fall. Maybe I will actually get there one of these days. If you have extra time at the end of your session have them share their work and talk about how they feel about the medium. Just a thought.

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