Monthly Archives: August 2012


Morning Coffee #28 – Art Blossoms . . .

I love drawing and painting flowers.

This photo was actually taken last fall when my love affair with Hibiscus was just beginning because I had bought some plants at Trader Joe’s! Sky dog had been painting earlier but she wore herself out and needed a nap.

Here is the blossom I was painting . . .

And here is the finished painting . . .

I painted it in one of my very favorite watercolor books – the American Journey Travel Journal. Page size is 12″ x 9″ and the surface is 140lb Hot Press. Finding hot press watercolor paper in a book is rare. These are not inexpensive, but they are on sale for $19.99 at the moment, and they are worth every penny.

American Journey Travel Journal

A really important part of being able to paint flowers is being able to draw flowers. If you have taken my Art of Photography Workshop, you know that I did not even allow you to take photos of flowers for your first challenge, maintaining that a monkey with a cell phone could take a great photo of a flower because they are so darn beautiful.

Not so with drawing flowers, though, because they are complicated. Lots of folks are afraid to try because they don’t know where to start, and monkeys are especially afraid. I’m not talking about doodling fantasy flowers here, which is easy. I’m talking about drawing flowers that are recognizable, even as a line drawing.

You know I like to make complicated things easier, so back around January, I started writing a book on the subject. I was also trying to see if I could create a whole workbook just on my iPad. I have worked on it now and then since, and yesterday, I finished it. Ta-Da!!

It’s a 60 page, instantly downloadable, PDF E-Workbook, and it teaches you how to look at a photograph (or a real life flower), and draw it. I have a formula and a plan to follow that makes it all very easy.

This is the first in a series of Draw Simple Books (I hope), and I did create it entirely on my iPad. It’s available now for $15 here:

Draw Simple Flowers

Suzanne McNeil Wannabe

Not really, but sorta.

I would be surprised if many of you did not recognize that name. Suzanne is an artist who started a company some years back called Design Originals. She publishes single subject art and craft books that are only about 35 pages long and sell for $12.99.

I remember thinking that was pretty pricey when I first encountered them, but then I bought a couple and realized how chock-full of information they were – no waste, no filler. I bought more and so did a lot of other people.

Design Originals grew into a very successful company.

Now – switch the subject to me.

I was publishing PDF ebooks 12 years ago – when everyone who did not have a computer art background was still saying “Huh?”

Well, now ebooks are “all the rage” as they say.

The best format for an illustrated book is still the PDF. Everybody can open, read, and print them, and all the pictures and type stay where they are supposed to. They are better than a real book in that you can zoom in for a closer look at details, and they are searchable.

You can also put them into iBooks on your iPad and read them, search them, zoom them, there.

I think some other tablets can also accept PDF files, but I don’t have any other tablets, so I don’t know which or what. I do not think Kindle can because their format was set up for text only books, and has a hard time with graphics still.

ANYWAY, one big thought blossom that did get put into the permanent To-Do vase was that I want to publish Art-E-Workbooks of all kinds, and that is the business I want to build along with my Sheer Heaven business. Hopefully, I’m off to a good start.

In fact, what do you think of that as a name for them – Art-E-Workbooks? Arty – get it?

The Banana Slicer

You really must visit this product on Amazon if you want a good laugh. Don’t bother with the product, but read the customer reviews. I don’t know where the Review Police were, but the reviews are hysterical. It’s sort of like a flash mob happening in the review section. People just picked up the humor and kept it going . . . hurry before the Review Police get wind of this . . .


Artist Showcase – Nagai Hideyuki

Honestly, I could not wrap my brain around this until I watched the little video provided, and then still . . . These are just two flat sketchbooks! And the artist is just 21!

3D Sketchbooks

It’s a Beautiful Day . . .

And I am going out to the garden to draw flowers. You can too. I know where there is a great how-to book! (grin)


Thought Blossoms . . .

I love analogies.

I love Hibiscus.

Imagine my joy this morning when my latest Hibiscus blossom became an analogy!

When you are a person like me with a monkey mind that runs off and climbs every tree it sees, you waste a LOT of time swinging from branches – precariously!

One of the trees my monkey mind climbed this year was a Hibiscus tree (well, plant, really). I am obsessed with their beauty. It astounds me. I paint them and photograph them, sit and stare at them, and am sad when each blossom closes up shop after just a day.

But, it is the brief opening and quick closing of these blooms that make my analogy.

My thoughts are like that.

Each idea blooms with a big, exciting burst, but its glory will fade by tomorrow if I don’t act on it.

I ordered special Hibiscus food from a nursery in California (I told you I was obsessed!), and I have a dozen plants of different varieties (I told you I was obsessed!), and so, there are MANY blossoms.

I have a hard time coming up with enough attention fast enough to appreciate each blossom and do something with it.
And my thoughts are like that. See what I’m getting at here?

So, the pervasive feeling is always that I am not getting enough done, or I “should” be doing something else. Even though I am enjoying the hell of out this one blossom, there are so many others I better run and see.

You know how long I’ve been examining this issue. But I think I’m getting there.

So my latest idea is that if there are going to be Hibiscus blossoms everyday, I will pay attention and appreciate, but maybe not sit and stare at each one until bugs have gotten into my glass of wine or cup of coffee (depending if it is an evening or morning staring session).

And likewise with the thought blossoms.

Maybe I don’t have to produce – and overproduce each and every one of them.

Maybe I can make a note, or send some off to you and let you run with them.

Maybe I can relax into the moment, be more spontaneous and light hearted, and NOT gather such a huge bouquet of thought blossoms into my To-Do vase – all in a hurry to be acted on before they fade away.

I am thinking this is a splendid idea.

And blogging, which is something I actually love, and something that gets constantly shoved to a back burner (because I have to overproduce, don’t you know, and I don’t have time for an elaborate post) could be an excellent tool.

This blog is called “Whatever” and it could be a catch all for these beautiful thought blossoms as they open up. They would not be lost. They would get their share of attention – from me and from you, and they would be saved from fading away, like a Hibiscus blossom that has been painted or photographed.

Everything is an experiment. Let’s see how I do with this one.

By the way, the Hibiscus at the top of this post is called “Creole Lady”. Can you even believe how beautiful?!

Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Art from the Oven – Blast from the Past


I have a billion old art magazines taking up WAY too much space in my life. Maybe you do too and you will recognize this scenario:

Go through a magazine, see two or three items of interest, turn down the page corners, put the magazine away. Wait years before you pick it up again, look at the marked pages, realize that you forgot about that interesting thing entirely, consider tossing the magazine away, don’t throw it away because now you remember there is something of interest in there. Put the magazine back on the stack.

Sound familiar? Soon the Hoarder Police are knocking on your studio door.

Then, maybe, you go through a few of those magazines, tear out the interesting articles, and recycle or gift what’s left. Stack those articles in a drawer, or maybe even file them – and they are never seen again. But, they’re taking less space at least. Remember what was in that interesting article? Not.

I love my iPad for so many reasons, but here is another way it has changed my life.

Now, I take a photo of that interesting article with my iPad, paste it into a journal called “Snippits” that I keep on my iPad, add a couple keywords so I can find it later, and recycle the paper magazine.

My Snippits Journal becomes one big magazine that has only the things I found noteworthy in a hundred paper magazine.

Space saved – priceless.

And the photos the iPad shoots of the magazine page are amazing – just as good as a scan!

So, the tip about using the oven to melt embossing powder at the beginning of this post is from my Snippits Journal. See how clear and easy to read?

I also started emptying drawers full of clippings and torn out pictures. I just lay them on the desk and snap a photo with the iPad.

And you know how torn out articles have those rough edges and get all crinkled up?

Once I have them on my iPad, those rough edges don’t mean a thing, and they don’t get any more wrinkles either! I bet you recognize the author of this article . . . she is coming to visit for a week!! Tonight!! I am so excited!

And . . . you can zoom in on the photo to read it better.

Now, that first tip about using the oven to melt embossing powder brings me to a question I have.

Have you found melted embossing powder to stand the test of time? I’m talking about the regular stuff, not the Ultra.

I make a lot of cards for the gallery and could do some interesting effects with EP, but I hesitate. Some embossed things from years ago have gone dull and have to be reheated to shine again.

Reheating won’t be an option for a card that gets sold.

Embossing powder came from the process called thermography (poor man’s engraving), with which they would make the business cards with the raised printing years ago. I still have some of those business cards and they are fine, but many pieces I made with the stampers embossing powders, especially the clear, have not fared so well. What has your experience been?

Thank you for your enthusiastic response to my new book.

I hope you are all out there with your pencils looking a flower in the face!!

Here is the link again if you haven’t seen it:

Draw Simple Flowers


Sunday Morning Coffee #27

This photo was taken by my niece, Gloria, during our family reunion in early July. Some family members rented local vacation homes, and Gloria added several cairns to the courtyard at this one.

Cairns are manmade piles of stones used to mark or memorialize spots on the landscape, and they are often used as trail markers. I love this photo for its simplicity, balance, and for all it represents for me right now. Maybe I love the idea of a single path going one direction best of all. But that is still only a dream for me.

Finding balance is an ongoing theme, as you all know, and I am still looking.

But, I LOVE this cairn as a visual icon and as a ritual idea. What if you assigned the elements you are trying to balance in your life to individual rocks – maybe size could indicate their relative importance.

You could then try to stack them in priority order and see how well they balance – or if they can balance at all!

If you don’t want to play with real rocks, this cairn would make a wonderful art journal page. Rocks are easy to sketch and paint, and you can write on them if they are on paper.

I will be exploring this idea in my journal, and I wanted to share it with you in case you have some things to figure out and want to do it in a very creative way.

Not Just on Sundays . . .

My Sunday morning series of blog posts is fun, and it is a great way to relax for my readers. However, my choice of Sunday was a little short sighted. That is the only day our gallery is closed and Mark and I can do things together – like relax, maybe?

So, although there will still be occasional Sunday coffee posts when time and energy allow, I am returning to the freedom of also posting whenever and whatever – which is the name and the original idea of this blog anyway.

iPad News . . .

I have posted the first three iPad Studio Workbooks for individual sale and download.

I have also set it up so if you buy the first one, and then decide you want the Workshop (to save money on the rest of the Workbooks and share the iPad art experience with other students), you can apply the purchase price of the first Workbook to your Workshop tuition.

For example, each of these workbooks sells for $15. So, if you try the first one and want to go on, you can either continue to buy the Workbooks individually, or opt to sign up for the Workshop for $110 instead of $125.

There are six Workbooks published so far, and all six are available when you join the Workshop. Only three have been released for individual sale so far.

It’s a good way to see what this is all about before committing to the workshop. Here’s the Workbook Page.

Garden News . . .

I have to fess up. Gardening is one of the BIG rocks in my Cairn. When the gardening season is here, there is nothing I would rather do than . . . garden! Of course, it does not make me a living and it costs me a ton of money, and there are so many other things for me to be doing instead (notice I did not use the word “should”), but I am obsessed, and there’s just no stopping myself.

Remember the Morning Glory battle – that ended up depending on sheets of Sheer Heaven to keep the bunnies at bay? Well, here’s how they turned out . . .

Of course, the red, white, and blue thing did not happen in time for the 4th of July or the family reunion, but it’s all there now! Also, notice my edging bricks. Yes, I got carried away and when I finished everything inside the courtyard, I came outside the gate and kept going. I have more photos to share sometime.

One of my most favorite birds is the Bushtit. I love them because they are so social. They all show up at once and make a big “bird ball” on a suet feeder. They are so tiny that a dozen of them can all fit on a single suet cage. Everybody has a few bites, there is lots of activity and flying around, and then they all leave at once. Sort of like a bird tour bus came through.

Here’s a photo I took yesterday ┬áduring one of their visits . . .

They think nothing of acrobatics – like hanging upside down . . .

One of the best things about gardening is the bird visitors. I could watch them for hours – and I do.

Art History . . .

SmartHistory is simply wonderful. From a very compact and user friendly web page . . .

. . . you can access a fairly comprehensive tour of the history of art, from ancient to modern times. Clicking on any image brings up a short video featuring everything you ever wanted to know about that image and artist and era.

This is a masterpiece interactive web book. You will only likely have time for a bit at a time, but bookmark it and return often for inspiration and a broadening of your understanding of art.

Smart History

Dogs in Cars . . .

And this is for nothing but fun . . .

29 photos of dogs doing that thing they love so much – sticking their heads out the car window. I love it!

Car Window Dogs

That’s all for now, folks. I am going to try painting in the garden and see if I can resist fooling with the flowers long enough to paint or draw a few.