Finger Paintings from 2012!

Hi! The following is a post from January 2012… finger painting! I had forgotten that I had finger painted them… I had gone to a weekend retreat but, instead of painting most of the weekend, I had to work on the deadline for The Art of Silliness book. These four little paintings were done in the last two hours of the weekend.

‘Tis Monday and just back from extended PLAY,

I drew and I fussed on the ‘puter each day.

While others got messy with glitter and paint

I stuck with my Sharpie, my keyboard, restraint.

For two days I did this here Silliness thing

I worked till my shoulder blade started to sting

But it wasn’t too long ‘fore I gave up and found

that gouache mixed with fingers is happiness bound.

I didn’t work long, though, I had to get back

to my constant companion, the MacBook Pro Mac.

(For Fleep lists and puzzles and drawings of cups —

My deadline, you see, was coming right ups!)


Journal Diving: Going In!


I have been “diving” into my old journals lately, looking for anything fun or helpful in a sea of nonsense and complaints.

Here are some things I found that you might like (I hope you like it. If you do, please comment!):

* * *

So, it’s Friday. Slow day for the internet. Slow day for email, and usually a slow day for work. Not today. Today it’s going to be a fast day for work, a fast day for email, and a fast day for the internet.

* * *

I’ve found my identity in being creative with art and teaching. It’s something I’m good at, for a variety of reasons. I think I come from a creative family. I think I have the right kind of personality, and people have supported it in me.

Being creative in a law office* is actually a valuable tool, of course. But being creative in a law office without also being super smart was kind of a problem.

Now I can be creative and only kind of smart.

*My first job out of college was in a law office.

* * *

Yesterday a woman on the bus said, “They say I’m retarded.” Then, “Some days I am, and some days I’m not.”

Bless her… like all of us!

* * *

I think I’m a bit crazy today. My mind is flying all over the place, but also stuck in the mud… my feet are stuck to the ground and my mind wants to flutter away but is also being tethered to the ground by the mud. Or the IDEA of mud. (I supposed it’s just the idea of mud that can tie down a brain, since brains are all about ideas and stuff.)


* * *

I was thinking about the answer to “Why creativity?” last night and might have even written down some useful thoughts. I realized that I can’t speak for anyone other than myself of why it’s important, but for me, it’s what makes life palatable. An overstatement, perhaps. BUT… things change, friends move, children grow up, and in the end you just have you and your creative spirit to hash it all out.

* * *

I suppose I really need to get going on whatever it is I need to get going on.

* * *

Creativity requires a faith of sorts… faith that a solution will come to you.

You do your part: Put your time in, take risks, sit patiently (or impatiently)… and you even have a bit of doubt in there somewhere… but in the end creativity moves through you…

1. Make it fun, or at least not painful.
2. Accept where you are.
3. Remember, there is no “there.”
4. Go up those hills.

* * *

I wrote down what my son Wes, when he was in high school, said to me one morning on the drive to school:

“It’s so annoying… this gray-haired, cheerful person who doesn’t know anything….”

* * *

Denying your creativity is like driving with a flat tire: you can get where you’re going, but how much smoother, faster, and more enjoyable the ride would be if all four tires were inflated!

Not a bad soundbite for a know-nothing. :)


That’s it for now! I have more where that came from, if you’d like to read it.

Have a wonderful day, everyone!

Registration Open for a NEW Acrylic Painting Online Class: “Birds on Birds”

Hi Everyone!

We are delighted to introduce to you a new teaching artist, Alison O’Donoghue from Portland, Oregon. We recently returned from filming her first class, “Birds on Birds in Acrylic Painting.” 

Alison’s work is just amazing… I hope you can join us!


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“Birds on Birds: Acrylic Painting”
with Alison O’Donoghue
Two-Week Class; 6 Video Lessons; $85

Class Dates: October 20-31, 2015


Join painter Alison O’Donoghue for a super fun class in acrylic painting, “Birds on Birds.” Alison shares her unique techniques for creating a stacked, interactive, and harmonious world within the bounds of an 11″x14″ wood panel. She will guide you expertly through six lessons — starting with preparing the panel with layers of gesso and finishing with varnish; and in-between, magic!

Alison likes the stacking up method of composing because it allows for a lot of images within the painting without any concerns for traditional perspective (a common folk art approach around the world). Through Alison’s process of layered washes and highlights, your painting will glow with light and color.

Plus… BIRDS!

Click here for more info: Join this class today!


A detail:


And more of Alison’s “bird” work using these techniques (click to enlarge):




Class Itinerary

Lesson 1 – Supplies & Preparing Your Board
We’ll go over the supplies needed for this project and prep your board for painting.

Lesson 2 – Drawing It Out
Here is a place to begin letting the ideas flow. Your birds don’t have to be realistically drawn and you can let go of the idea of right and wrong; instead do it your way. You do have a way.

Lesson 3 – Painting the Simple Shapes
Create a palette of color choices ahead of time and have fun with color! It’s good to be aware of the negative spaces — or spaces between — the objects and imagery, because they are as important as the birds in creating a balanced and vibrant composition.

Lesson 4 – Painting the Negative Shapes
In this lesson you will create lines around your birds by NOT painting the lines, and paint in the negative shapes of the background.

Lesson 5 – Transparent Color Washes
This part is really fun, and here is where the dimension, volume, sense of light and shadow and nuance are begun. We are staining the shapes we have painted with the washes. (It may feel as though you’re ruining the painting, but you aren’t!)

Lesson 5 – Highlights and Details
In this step, my favorite step, we are adding a final  layer to bring out the form, as well as adding pattern to some of the shapes. Add spots, stripes, patterns or follow the form of the object to highlight the form. All of this will create depth, a push and pull and sense of shifting light that is exciting and interesting to the eye. We’ll finish with a nice coat of varnish to give your painting more luminosity.

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alisonbioThe artwork of Alison O’Donoghue can be described as contemporary folk art.

Partly naïve, sometimes illustrative, at times cartoony, with some of her pieces being heavily patterned. Her paintings are mostly playful with creatures and people that are quite often glowing with life… awash in dimensional color and shade in a mostly two dimensional world. In many of her paintings, she combines everyday objects such as; cups of coffee, fruit, plants, humans, birds and odd, made up animals, into a fluid motion of interaction of intertwined shapes. The playful next to the sinister, give the paintings a sense of humor and the complexity of an unfolding story. Alison lives in Portland, Oregon.

The Drawing Club of Improbable Dreams: New Book by Cat Bennett (and a call to action!)


Today I received a copy of Cat Bennett’s newest book, “The Drawing Club of Improbable Dreams: How to Create a Club for Art.” In this book Cat writes beautifully about her philosophy of creativity and drawing, and then offers three, 8-week session plans for those who might like to start an art club of their own.

Cat writes in her preface:

Ten years ago, I was invited to teach drawing at The Arsenal Center for the Arts, just outside Boston. Every week, I set up ways in which we could explore drawing without concern for predictable results. For instance, we’d draw with our eyes closed or paint with tree branches or make group drawings. The results were often improbable; that is they were more fantastic and cheering than we might have predicted. Some of us were rank beginners, some experienced artists. We all worked together and the bigger the chances we took, the more we learned to embrace ourselves just as we are and where we are. No small feat.

You can see that Cat and I share a mission! We both know and want to share how drawing and making art can help us know ourselves more fully:

To me, [drawing] invites us to forget ourselves and open up to seeing what is. It helps us imagine and envision in ways words can’t. Inside all of us who draw and make art is this feeling that drawing takes us somewhere, to a place of truth and perception….

Many of us give up drawing when we’re just kids. If we had more instruction or support, many more of us might never give it up. Some of us find other ways of being, of course; there are many great ways to live. But some of us need art, and we can begin again. Those of us who have kept drawing will have more developed skills but there’s always more to explore. For all of us, if we have desire, we can do something with it. We all have limitations and even with them we can all find our genius—the place we meet and act without hesitation on the inspiration that comes to us

Cat is a wonderful teacher with a deep connection to creativity and how it can help us become truly our unique selves as artists. I am being a bit shameless here, urging you to consider taking her FIRST online class,


Making Art a Practice,”

but I think anyone who signs up and participates will be touched and transformed by Cat’s gentle and wise shepherding!

This is a six-week class with one video lesson per week, with several exercises to keep you creating daily in your sketchbooks until the next lesson. Cat will be right in the trenches with you, too!

I’m going on this journey with you as a full participant. I’ll post additional inspiration each weekday too as well as my drawings. I so look forward to seeing what you do and hearing your thoughts in the discussions we have. It’s going to be fun. And we’re going to bring something wondrous back to our art, and our lives, from our time together.

Class begins Tuesday, October 6th. Won’t you join us?

Figure Drawing with Ellen Borison


I think one can never do enough figure drawing.


I certainly never do enough!! :D


So this fall I signed up for a class with Seattle artist Ellen Borison, through Arts East. We had our first session a little over a week ago and — wow! — I just loved Ellen’s approach. She gave us unique and innovative exercises, which kept things moving and is just the kind of drawing class I like to be in.

With these three, we were to tear the figure in paper first and glue down to our papers. Next, we just drew in the highlights in chalk. And finally, we finished with line.

Thank you, Ellen!

And, Seattleites: There is still room… sign up! (No affiliation here, I just think she is wonderful!)

Ink & Eyedropper Drawings





Hi everyone! Happy Monday.

These four drawings are the best of 25 drawings I did in under an hour as part of an assignment for the Spark! class… at the time I was working on Lynn Whipple’s “Wordplay” class and so was inspired to put words in (#5 and #21), and I had recently been bit by a dog as well (#9). But I don’t know where #13 came from!

I hope you have a wonderful week!

My Dogs


Hello everyone!

The above “list painting” is totally inspired by Lynn Whipple’s current Wordplay class… I am so inspired after filming our artists that I usually go right home and do the assignments (though this is a simplification of Lynn’s assignment).

Recently I have been revisiting my childhood in lots of my sketchbooks, and this list is “mostly” dogs I had as a child (all but Roxy)… sweet and sad memories both with this list, as all of our dogs lived too-short lives for one reason or another. :(

I’m of a mind to delete that last paragraph (a downer!), but it is what it is, and art lets us process these things.

Yay, art!

I hope you have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

Introducing a NEW Teacher, Cat Bennett!

We have a wonderful new teacher in our lineup, Cat Bennett from Boston, MA! She is teaching a 6-week online class on working in our sketchbooks. Please consider joining us! NOTE: Cat is offering to send a copy of her book, “Making Art a Practice” to the first 10 people who sign up! We’ve got the first 10… thank you!

“Sketchbooks: Making Art a Practice” with Cat Bennett
Six-Week Class; 6 Video Lessons
Class Dates: October 6 – November 10


How can the sketchbook be a place of discovery and growth in our art practice?

In Cat Bennett’s 6-week course, “Sketchbooks: Making Art a Practice,” we’ll use the sketchbook to explore how to make our art practice a vital one. We’ll draw and paint in experimental ways, find inspirational images to include in our sketchbooks, look at where we’ve been and where we might go, and consider how to grow our ideas for our art. We’ll also grow our drawing skills and discover our own best strengths so we can build on them.

Each lesson includes a video with demonstrations of various drawing and painting techniques, regular assignments, and a Facebook group to share sketchbook explorations. Cat will also offer daily inspiration (Monday to Friday) with general comments on the work and some further exercises for the super motivated!



Week 1: Making Marks—Drawing in an abstract way to grow our creativity.


Week 2: Drawing Nature—Exploring different ways to draw what we see.


Week 3: Drawing Our Daily Life—Finding what speaks to us.


Week 4: Portraits—Drawing people and finding our own style.



Week 5: Bringing in Imagination—Playing with images and growing our vision.



Week 6: Growing Our Ideas—Tracing our art history and seeing where we might go.


Each week, Cat also addresses issues we all face as artists—

1. What can we do when we feel blocked?
2. How can we overcome the inner critic or feelings of inadequacy?
3. How can we find the time to make art in the midst of busy lives?
4. How do we find our own style in our art?
5. What are great reasons for making art?
6. How do we keep our art practice vital?

Participants can also share positive suggestions of their own each week regarding these questions and on the Facebook page.

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Join this class today, and spend 6 weeks together with Cat Bennett! CLICK HERE.
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Cat Bennett is artist and author. In her Saturday Morning Drawing Club, she teaches drawing as a way to meet the true creative self. Her book, The Confident Creative: Drawing to Free the Hand and Mind, published by Findhorn Press 2010, was a gold medal winner in the 2011 Nautilus Book Awards. Her book Making Art a Practice: How To Be the Artist You Are, and her newest book, The Drawing Club of Improbable Dreams: How to Create a Club for Art, are also published by Findhorn Press.

Cat worked as an illustrator/designer for about thirty years. Her illustrations have appeared in The Boston Globe, The New York Times, The Atlantic Monthly, The Wall Street Journal, The Baltimore Sun and Time Magazine, Houghton Mifflin, Scholastic, Harcourt Brace and many other publications. She has also made short animations for CBC-Sesame Street, Nickelodeon TV, WHDH-TV, WGBH-TV and various non-profits. She has exhibited her art in group shows in Boston, New York, and Tokyo.

Her essays have appeared in The Huffington Post, The Los Angeles Times, LA Yoga Magazine, Yoga Magazine UK, Integral Yoga Magazine, Red, The American, Lightworker, High Spirit Magazine and others.

Check out Cat’s wonderful books (#3 is forthcoming October 13, 2015).

catbook1     catbook2     catbook3

We feel really lucky to be working with Cat! If you would like to get to know Cat even better, listen to her INTERVIEW with “Choosing to Be Fit” site HERE.


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