Cat Bennett’s New Class is OPEN for Registration!

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“Making Art a Practice: In and Out of the Sketchbook”
with Cat Bennett
Six-Week Class; 12 Video Lessons

Class Dates: April 19 – May 26, 2016


In MAKING ART A PRACTICE: In and Out of the Sketchbook, we’ll spend two days drawing in the sketchbook with a focus on color, line and shape then jump out of the sketchbook to do a bigger project. We’ll draw and paint the world around us— food, clothes and the objects in our homes, plants and landscape, and people. And we’ll do so in different ways—painting using only lines, making cut-paper images using only shapes, then bringing line and shape together in different ways.

Our goal is to draw and paint in experimental ways and to get ideas for our own work. We’ll mostly work on a larger scale outside of the sketchbook and try things out. We’ll approach everything we do with a spirit of adventure and discovery!

This is a new and different class to the first “Making Art a Practice.” If you missed that one, no worries—this class is for everyone. And anyone who would like to is invited to post work on the private Facebook page for this class. At the beginning of each week, I’ll introduce the class in the online forum and offer some examples from well known artists that might inspire us as we do the exercises. We’ll all share comments and I’ll offer feedback and a few additional ideas every weekday morning.

Click HERE for the SUPPLY LIST.




After a brief chat about color, we’ll work in the sketchbook painting lines in various ways to gain assurance with drawing with the brush. For our project, we’ll draw food with paint using only lines. We’ll make simple contour drawings in black before launching into color and we’ll learn how to distill complex information into simple lines that suggest rather than describe in a literal way.



We’ll draw and paint abstract shapes in our sketchbooks and talk about how we can create compositions in an instinctive way as well. For our project, we’ll work on a larger scale and learn how to paint papers in flat colors to make bold cut-paper images of plants that are imaginative rather than literal.


Week 3:

We’ll work with landscape, first by drawing from the world around us or from imagination in our sketchbook with brush and black paint. For our project, we’ll work from sketches we’ve made or from imagination in two ways. In the first, we’ll begin with line and then add color. In the second, we’ll begin with shape and add line. We’ll work on small paper and paint large landscapes quickly on an intimate scale.



In the sketchbook, we’ll draw with pencil or crayon using a 2-color way to practice drawing. We’ll draw the things we wear—shirts, shoes, hats, scarves. For our project, we’ll use a stencil to create the shape of our subject then add shading and line as we choose. We can also alter our subject in imaginative ways by adding details that don’t exist to say whatever we might like to say. We’ll move away from being literal and take a more playful approach to describing what we wear or might like to wear.



In the sketchbook, we’ll return to pencil drawing and do both line and shaded drawings of objects around our homes. We’ll work with things that interest us. For our project, we’ll choose several objects then mix mediums in different ways as we make our drawings and paintings. For instance, we might paint part of the image and render another part in pencil. Or start by painting the whole object in paint, then add details in pencil or watercolor crayons. Our goal is to try several approaches and have fun with it.



In the final week of this session, we’ll collect about 20 photos of people and paste them on the left hand page of a small sketchbook. On the facing page, we’ll make straightforward contour drawings and looser half-blind contour drawings. For our project, we’ll explore making a portrait by starting with a painted shape for the face then adding details in pencil and leaving details out as well. We’ll also explore making the whole portrait in looser way in paint.


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Join this class today, and spend 6 weeks with Cat Bennett!


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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:

catbook1     catbook2     catbook3



Dogs & More


A demo piece from the workshop in Mexico. Mixed-media on wood (collage, watercolor, pencil, gesso).


My attempt at an abstract!


And one of the little dogs I made for the participants of #sparkoaxaca.

I’ve been home almost two weeks now, and am JUST TODAY feeling caught up with sleep.

(What is happening to me?!! 😀  )

Have a great day!

Teaching Trip to Oaxaca


I was fortunate to spend last week with these women in Oaxaca, Mexico. Thank you everyone who came all that way! (Lynn Whipple and I co-taught a workshop through  Bellissima Art Escapes … #sparkoaxaca)

Here are some images from the trip:







You see I had animals on my brain even when away! The above guy was created during one of Lynn’s teaching days.

A HUGE thank you to Kathie Vezzani (Bellissima Art Escapes) for a wonderful trip!




Registration now OPEN for Karine Swenson’s New Abstraction Class

Abstraction: Diving Deeper
Instructor: Karine Swenson
Drawing, Painting, Mixed-Media • $85
Class Dates: March 22 – April 1, 2016


Have you ever asked yourself “how do I know when a painting is finished?” If you have ever struggled with this question, this is the class for you.

In this painting class, we will dive deeper into our abstract paintings in order to make discoveries and learn, but we will also be constantly asking the question “is this painting finished?”

The focus of the class will be to work through three stages of a painting – the start (so fun, such excitement!), the middle (“oh NO! I ruined it!”), to the finish (Wow! I did it!). I will offer suggestions to help you through each stage as we work towards a resolution. You will be encouraged to use your preferred kind of paint, whether it be acrylic, oil or watercolor. (I will be using oil, but will try to offer tips for other kinds of paint as well.) You will also be encouraged to find your own approach to each part of the process. I do not teach specific techniques as much as I wish to help you find your own techniques and style.

At the end of the class, depending on how quickly you work, you will have finished at least one, if not two, larger sized works. (if you prefer to work small, that’s fine too!) I do encourage you to try a larger painting, if you have been wanting to do it. I encourage risk taking, and I will help you find ways to “save” a painting if you think you’ve pushed it too far. We will be spending a lot of time painting in this class, so push up your sleeves and get ready to move around some paint!
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So I took a stab at some flowers “a la Lynn Whipple” today!

Normally I am in the room when she films a class, but for “Big Bold Bloom Wild Painting!” I was only present for part of it. This is my made-up version…


… so I am very much looking forward to her class! 😀

If you would like to paint Big, Bold Blooms with Lynn, the first lesson goes live this coming Tuesday and runs for five weeks… a class not to be missed! $165. (By request I’ve added a 2-payment option as well.)

Join us!

Creative Business: Some Questions Answered

Hi everyone!

I’ve been working on a business-related article for an outside publication, and recently put a “feeler” up on Facebook. The questions asked were great, and I thought some of our teachers might be able to better speak to them! Thank you to Cat Bennett, Diane Culhane, Karine Swenson, Alison O’Donoghue and Lynn Whipple for your time in weighing in!



Q. How do I move from doing art to making money with art? OR, Specifically how to step out of your comforting walls of your studio, stand up tall and find clients, how to make yourself seen?

Cat Bennett

I had a bustling illustration career for 30 years. I’ve now left illustration and am doing independent art projects. It’s like starting over. Even though I have years of experience selling my work, this is a whole different thing. But basically I’m taking the same approach as years ago: I do my art for myself and when I have a body of work, I ask around. 

In the beginning, it wasn’t easy to approach new clients. Sometimes I would be walking into a big newspaper and feel my heart pounding. I just put one foot in front of the other. I realized if I didn’t show up, nothing could show up for me either. Of course, I encountered rejection but I found I could often learn from it. Sometimes my work needed refining; sometimes I was seeing a client who had interests very different than mine. We grow to see who we are in these encounters. I learned not to invest in outcomes but just to keep going. I think that helps lead us to our own best path.

Making art that is true to me and taking chances with it is what I really care about. I love encouraging my students to find their own strengths, their own voice and the courage to express themselves fully just as they are. They end up doing such great work; we all do if we work that way. It takes time but it happens.

My suggestion is to share. Finding and collecting “your people” happens in a variety of ways. Instagram and Facebook are great ways to share images of what you are creating. Offer a link to your site or way to contact you for more information. 
Signing up for shows is another great way to get your work out there. There are online shows that you can enter as well as “in person” shows… from a coffee shop featuring your work to a juried art show. Gallery shows are great as well. The great thing about entering shows or contacting galleries is the deadline to prepare your work and your offerings. Deadlines are a fantastic tool to create a “push” to make things happen. 

Karine Swenson

Start small and local! Find a venue to have a showing of your work – either a non-profit art venue like a local art council show, a coffee house, or an artists’ collective. Make sure you are present when your work is shown – at least for the opening night. Try to talk to people about your art. Ask them questions and be prepared for a large range of feedback. Listen to what they say so you know how others see your work. You will learn more by listening than you will by doing all of the talking. 

Build on each experience. Join a local art council or organization and meet other artists. You can learn a lot from other artists. Support other artists in their endeavors. Start building a mailing list right away. Your friends, fans and collectors are your biggest asset. 


Q. How do you develop a balance between producing material that “sells” while still being true to your own creativity and expression? 


Karine Swenson

Paint what you love. The people who love what you love will find your work if you keep putting your art out in the world. The more you show your work and listen to what people say about it, the better idea you will have of what people are looking for to buy. Make art that you would want to buy.

Diane Culhane

I paint for myself and I believe that making authentic work will sell — authentic work being from the place of discovery that comes from deep inside.  One thing I will do is adjust the work when getting ready for a show, knowing I need a variety of sizes and color combinations. I’ll look at what I have and decide if I need some paintings with warmer colors or cooler colors, or smaller or bigger sizes. But in general, always be true to your creative expression and you will find an audience of your people.

Alison O’Donoghue

Be sure to allow space to work on what you truly want to do. If it’s a commission request, consider carefully the pros and cons. If you end up doing too much of what people want you to, you may end up discouraged, feeling unfulfilled and frustrated. Also, trust your own voice as being the one that sells, even eventually, build on that, even if you have do that simultaneously. Allow space. 

Cat Bennett

My basic approach is to make art that has real meaning to me, that I really care about. I try to respond to what makes me feel most alive and engaged and curious. That makes me laugh too. I get a certain feeling and I know I’m on track. Whenever I’ve tried to make art simply to sell, I haven’t felt good and the world hasn’t responded that well. That’s how it has worked for me. 


Q. How can social media help sell my work, more than just “Please buy my work?”? OR, How do I use social media effectively?

Alison O’Donoghue

Social Media is good for gaining exposure and viewers but keep it classy. Meaning, show it with confidence. Well edited photos. No self doubt talk. 

Be serious, but friendly, respond to responses. Think about the image you want to create for yourself and your art: A real working artist. Don’t try to sell except when directing to a selling site like Etsy, etc. Use hashtags. 


Q. What helps you manage /prioritize your time & activities? How do you order your day when you are managing producing work & running all aspects of your biz?

Karine Swenson

You must treat your art like a “job.” Have sacred studio time that nothing interferes with. Make the studio a priority. The business aspects have to be squeezed in too. I do the “un-fun” business part at the beginning of the day, that way, going into the studio to paint feels like a reward. 

Cat Bennett

I work every day. I do email, writing and web stuff first thing. That’s the business part. Then, studio time.

I mostly have a project I’m working on and I get to the studio around 8:30 am and leave around 4 or 5 pm, four days a week. I’m quite disciplined about that. I do one project at a time. The other days I have other things I do. And I’m always working in my sketchbook too—playing with ideas, pasting in bits of inspiration, or just drawing. It’s a way of keeping in the flow and also growing my own vision. I do that every day, all the time. 

At the end of the day, I take a look at where I am in the studio and make a note of what the work for the next day is. Every month I also do some bigger picture planning. What do I want to do in the next three months? The next year? For me, it’s helpful to plan like that though I keep it fluid because things change as I work. I always make time for friends too, and fun, and seeing things.  And for reading. It’s all goes together. When I’m having a show or have a book deadline, I work more  intensely but I always come back to a more easeful rhythm. I like life best that way. 

Diane Culhane

What helps me manage my time & activities is asking myself what is essential — I spend a lot of time looking at my calendar, determining what really needs to be done and in what order. I write the list on the left side of the page, and then the SMTWTFS on the right side of the page. I’m constantly looking to see how to order my steps efficiently. Exercising and being with friends is also important because it keeps me happy. But the truth really is, I always want to be in the studio and just paint. Some days I can barely get out of my own way to get out the door. I get so excited. 

This is an ongoing juggling act! Something I have implemented recently and find super helpful and nourishing is to put on my calendar, in writing, at least 3-4 days a week of “Pure clear studio days”  When I looked deeply at the way I most enjoyed creating I found that days that had nothing else scheduled for at least 5-7 hours at a time really made me feel happy, relaxed and free to play and enjoy my studio practice. I now “protect” that time and even let people know that I am not available and why. 
This system also allows for a day or two to stack up the “business” side, with computer work, writing, etc. 


Q. What is a good formula for pricing work?

Alison O’Donoghue

A. Think about what has already sold and at what price and how quickly art of a similar size, quality, and time density has sold. 

B. How consistently has this happened? 

C. How long have you been selling your work? Is there a demand? 

D. If you are selling work for the first time – look around at other artists prices, then lower yours – maybe considerably lower, as an introduction to the market. It’s hard to tell without getting the ball rolling. If it is in a good venue for sales, and sells very quickly, then raising the future price is a good idea. 

Lynn Whipple

There are lots of different ways to approach pricing. One way that I have found helpful is to do a pricing comparison with similar works from other artists. This can be done online, visiting gallery sites and artist sites. It is also helpful if you are attending a show in person, to take note of pricing. After “walking a show,” you can collect information that can help you settle on the price that feels right for your work. 

Other things to take into account when pricing your work include the cost of materials, framing, shipping and of course your time. 

Size of work seems to be a factor as well, seemingly smaller works are priced less and larger works are prices more, though there are lots of examples that don’t follow this pattern. Every artist, medium and market is different. 


Q. What are some pitfalls to avoid with a creative business?

Alison O’Donoghue

Remember, when the money rains, it pours. Prepare yourself for the drought because it is surely coming. Budget the money from the good times. Pitfall #2. Don’t overbook yourself. Doing fewer shows better is much more important  than lots of shows but being stressed all the time and even having to back out of shows, which can burn bridges, and damage your image. 


Do you have something to add to the above? Please let us know in the comments. 😀

Process and play in the studio :)

Lynn Whipple painting!! Lynn posted this on her blog today… fun to see her process!

lynn whipple's blog

Making layers! It’s amazing how a painting goes through twists and turns… are a few images of the process. Do you ever fall in love with an early layer and get frozen? Me too, but I push forward. The best part is getting lost in the moment 🙂

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loosey goosey layer….

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loud music please…..


more layerS!!!!!

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both hands!




I am thinking it’s getting close to done!! Wheeeeeeeee!!!

Have a great day!

If you are interested in doing some Big Bold Blooms Wild Painting with me, check out my newest online class starting February 23!

Many thanks!



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