Wakar's Art Blog

After seeing Janet’s bowl paintings last weekend I was inspired (or hit with a brick – you decide) to emulate (you say “copy,” I say potato) the more abstract backgrounds that she had done instead of putting every bowl in an exact setting. I’d done this with the small oil painting but was inspired to do more. So I came home and painted over a couple of old pictures that hadn’t worked. The problem was that I liked the new backgrounds so much I didn’t want to paint anything over them. But they cannot stand alone as abstracts so at some point I’ll have to bite the bullet.

Anyway, I went to Chris’s studio yesterday and we worked on some figure drawing a la Bill Buchman and had lots-o-fun. Nancy joined us for the afternoon. She brought some adorable chicken figurines which she did a painting of, Chris kept working on figures and I went back to painting backgrounds, this time from scratch on some gessoed paper I had. I did one other kind of abstract thing mostly trying to use up the Dr. Ph Martin Bombay India ink we’d been using for the figures. Interesting but nnnnnnnnnnnno. So today I painted over that and made a cool background (what is the definition of addiction?). But this time I didn’t give myself a chance to get attached to it. I just started in on bowl #6 Acrylic on paper 11×15

This one is my favorite so far.

In other news I have signed up for the BIG Fearless Painting Adventure workshop which begins July. It’s about painting…BIG. I’ve wanted to take this for a couple of years so I’m happy the timing finally worked out. One concern was how to set up to paint BIG. Because, though painting a full sheet of watercolor paper is big for me, (and something I’ve never even done!) I want to go REALLY BIG…or at least have the opportunity. I have a 4’x8′ piece of ply wood that I used to use as a table top but didn’t want to use that. I worried that if something happened and it fell it might hit one of the cats. So today I went on a mini quest and found just the ticket: roofing insulation! Super light weight but rigid, and…BIG! It too is 4’x8′. I don’t know if I can use push pins to hold paper as the foam (which isn’t styro) may not be dense enough to hold the pins. But it has a paper cover on both sides so I may be able to just tape the paper which would be fine. It’s called R-Max and comes in various widths. So if you’ve been looking for something to hold those larges pieces, check it out. I think I can even rig it to hold large canvases. As for what will hold it, for now I’m just planning on leaning it against the wall.

Here you can see what it looks like in the back of my pickup. The paper is actually a shiny silver.

Well, speaking of, I guess I’d better bring it in the house and give the cats something to oo and ah over.


Recently, out of the corner of my vision, I saw the pic of the green bowl I’d done in Janet Moore’s class as it showed up on my screen saver. The idea of the empty bowl struck a chord and I decided to paint this as a theme. I could use the minimal style I’d learned in her class and not tread on her territory of painting landscapes. Well, imagine my surprise when I got an email invitation from Janet Moore for Art At the Source this year and the cover image was a stack of bowls! I had to laugh.

So on Saturday Nancy, Joanie and I went out to Bodega Bay to visit Janet (web site) and catch a demo she was doing. First we went in the Local Color Gallery and saw some great pieces. Next we had coffee or hot chocolate and homemade croissants at the Roadhouse Coffee shop. It was about the size of my living room but cozier. πŸ™‚ Though it was already warming up at my house when I’d left the marine layer was blowing in pretty good out that way so the warm drinks were welcome. I had to ask Janet about her idea for the bowls and she said she had no idea where it came from. Of course, her versions really make mine look pretty sad, but I still like the idea so I’m going to keep at it. I’d like to do 100 but we’ll see if it stays interesting long enough to achieve that. I’ve decided to only do them in oils or acrylics so no quickie watercolor sketches. Some may be inspired by photos references but most will probably just be made up.

However, one other thing that fascinates me is robed figures so the plan is to do 100 of those as well. And for them I will probably mostly do watercolors.

Anyway, here are a few efforts. The pics were taken with my phone so I apologize for the glare. The first one is from an instructional video (on YouTube) by Karrie Evenson. I signed up for her first online workshop also so there may be some of that work posted later. I love her expressionist style.

This one is acrylic on panel, 6×8. The sky is actually much more yellow than shows up here.

Afternoon Chat

Acrylic on 8×10 panel.

Acrylic on 8×10 panel.

Oil on 5×7 panel.

Well, not really much to brag about here but it’s painting and that is still so much fun!

OMG…I just discovered there is an app for WordPress for my mobile phone. so maybe now my poor neglected blog will get more attention.

I started a new painting series..empty bowls. Originally I thought of doing interior scenes,and may still. But this feels right for now. And it is working well with the minimalist style I’ve learned at janet moore’s workshops. This series was inspired by the bowl painting I did in her last workshop.

Ok, just a quick post today. Next step is to find a free online image editor so I can show you some pics. πŸ™‚

Hmmmm. Just in case I was feeling too cocky after the workshop last weekend the classes this weekend were a disaster. At Wendy’s class we did our quick study warm up painting out side. It was beautiful. Alas, my painting turned out awful. I tried for simplified and minimal but it just ended up looking amateurish. (I don’t have a picture to upload as I left it at Wendy’s to dry.)Β  As for the painting I’d been working on in class for the last few weeks, I had lost all interest in it, no longer even liked it. So I didn’t even paint on that and ended up taking it home. As for the quick study,Β  I *may* try to salvage it as there are a couple of things that are less terrible. Still… 😦 Very disappointing.

Then the next day I went to the portrait and figure class and it was as if it was my first class all over again. I couldn’t get anything right. I thought I was remembering things Al had already shown and told me, but apparently not. (And, at least with his students, he is one patient man!) Now granted I’ve not practiced figure painting lately and it’s been a while since I had that class. Still… 😦 Just embarrassing.

So the hard hitting message for me was I need to spend more time practicing. I tried to use the excuse (to myself) than since I’m more of an expressionist that was why I couldn’t get the figures right, i.e. I’m just not that interested in realism. But, while I do want to paint in a more expressionist than realist way, I’m taking Wendy’s and Al’s classes because I want to develop my skill level. I know it will cut in on my ‘fun’ painting, but there’s no point in taking the classes if I’m not going to put in the brush mileage to learn the skills.

This morning I dug through the pages I’d ripped out of Vogue, Elle, VF and found some that looked like they would be good for figure practice as they had some good light and shadow. I did two this morning. On the second one, I was just fed up with trying to delineate values so I actually put some blue in for the background. In class I’ve been sticking to white and raw umber, mixing at least three mid values and then mixing those as needed. Today’s results? Well, better than in class! Which gives me a little encouragement at least. I would upload pics of them but I don’t know exactly where my camera is and I just don’t have the energy to fuss with it.

Instead I’ll just share and quick study from last Monday. Oil on 8×10 panel.

Off the Grid

On Friday I met with several other art buddies for a fun lunch and then a visit to Riskpress Gallery in Sebastopol where one of the group had several paintings showing. Good friends and good art go a long way toward making the weekend not a total loss. I can’t say the the paintings done today (so far) have salvaged the weekend re painting. Still… πŸ™‚ It reminds me of something I read somewhere. This guy, whose job was an outside one, said that the worst day outdoors is still better than the best day indoors. Hmmm…. The worst day painting…


This weekend I took a workshop with Janet Moore. This one was on Color, Design and Composition. One of the things I like about her work is the design and composition. And since the rule of thirds was becoming a ball and chain I was very excited to take this workshop. And I was not disappointed. I can’t say that she ignores the guidelines of composition, but she uses them in her own unique way so her paintings don’t at all look like the same tired old set ups that one sees in so much other work out there. As for color, she uses a limited palette of Quinacridone Magenta, Ultramarine Blue, and Hansa Yellow Medium. This is an inspired combination. I’ve seem other painters who use only three colors and their work invariably looks dingy and dull. But with using a red-leaning blue, a blue-leaning red and a temperature neutral yellow, the color mixes stay vibrant and fresh.

The first day, using just the colors mentioned above plus white, she had us mix 12 different greens in a range of values. Then we painted a picture of a bowl using the colors we had just mixed. Let me tell you, I’ll never be afraid of green again. πŸ™‚ Later on, after we’d finished the painting, we then added the q.m. if we wanted to change the picture to however we liked. Janet’s ended up being red and a creamy yellow. I stuck with the green for the bowl but did change the background some. But the point was to mix and use colors and values to show form. Here’s mine after changing the background (but please note that accurate drawing was not the order of the day so that’s a little wonky). Acrylic on 11×14 canvas panel.

Green Bowl

The next day we learned about design and composition. One of the exercises was to take the free-form “chart” we’d done the day before using all 6 primary and secondary colors and turn it into a painting. I struggled with this one as I was specifically looking for a landscape and there were certain aspect that I didn’t want to paint over. Finally I came up with this. The ‘hill’ in the background is actually much more blue/green that this is showing. The dark lines are made with charcoal. Acrylic on 11×14 canvas panel.

Autumn NOT in Sonoma County

Next she gave us a couple of compositional elements to create a painting from. I work fairly fast (all those quick studies are paying off!) so I was able to do both. The first one just came to me from the diagram she provided and the first thing I thought of was not a landscape. The diagram had a mid tone at the bottom and I think darker at the top but I switched them as i wanted the three ‘triangles’ at the bottom to stand out. This pic was taken after doing some finishing touches here at home. Mostly adjusting the color and value of the light part of the pumpkins and changing the top to a lighter value.Β  Acrylic on 11×14 canvas panel.

Size Doesn't Matter

This next one is from the second diagram. At the end of the class, during the critique, Janet suggested perhaps painting the front side of the building white. She’s right, it would stand out more. And I want to change the current light side to a yellow white instead of pink. Of course, repainting the shadow side will mean having to mix green to get rid of the shadow. I’ve had enough of green for a while so that one will have to wait for it’s adjustments. Otherwise, I like it. Acrylic on 14×11 canvas panel.

Green Hill

The last painting we worked from photos she brought. My goal was to do a minimalist landscape using NO GREEN! LOL I know it looks greenish yellow here, but that’s the way the camera picked it up. Also the yellow was mixed with Titanium White which edges it over to the cool side. It’s actually much more yellow looking in person. There are a couple of touch ups I want to do on this one too, but for the most part I’m happy with it. Again Acrylic and charcoal on 11×14 canvas panel.

Sans Green

Phew! That was a lot of painting. And a lot of knowledge to take in. But of it all I’d have to say that the most important thing I brought home from that class is that what matters most, and maybe the only thing that matters, is whether or not I love the painting I’ve done. She constantly reminded us that rules not only can be broken, but should be broken any time they limit or inhibit or confine our vision of what we want to paint. There are a lot of technical things to learn about all aspects of painting, and lots of practice is needed to develop our skill level, but we must remember that those things serve one purpose only: to help us create the painting that *we* want to create, a painting that we love.

Now you’d think it might be difficult to want to paint both like Roualt and Janet Moore whose styles really are about 180 degrees apart. But this morning I was watching one of Carole Watanobe’s videos on YouTube. She comments about her paintings that are in very different styles from one another. She points out that galleries, dealers, etc want your work to look similar so it is recognizable and therefore more saleable. But, like Janet, she believes in being true to oneself, to what one loves in painting. It reminds me of a book Suzanne Edminister told us about which I want to read. It’s titled Paint as You Like and Die Happy by Henry Miller. Interesting that three of my favorite local artists all make the same point. I think they are right. To paint with passions we must paint for love and love what we paint.

I just read a great chapter on art in the book Presence by Rupert Spira. The book is about spiritual awakening and I was thrilled to find an entire chapter on how art relates to the Spiritual. Other books usually have a passing reference at most, but this one really delved into it. I wish I could copy the entire text for you but this quote will have to do for now:

“True art is neither representation nor abstraction. It is revelation-the revelation that love, rather than inert matter, is the substance of all things.”

Roualt was a Frenchman who painted in the first half of the 20th century. I have a couple of books of his work. To be honest I can’t say I am enamored of much of his subject matter, though I do love his landscapes and florals (these are not your grandmother’s florals!). Mostly what I love is the way he puts paint, specifically oil paint, on the surface. His paintings are typically small, in the 9×12 area but he uses 30×40 inches worth of paint! There are no fine lines or delicate edges here. Everything is scruffy, with broken color, broken lines. He worked in a stained glass factory as a youth and apparently fell in love with the look because all of his paintings, even the ones in gouache and watercolor, have bold, powerful line work.

Well, I took one of my Roualt books to the Carole Watanabe class. Carole found a floral she liked and decided to do a Roualt style painting over another painting she was dissatisfied with. We joined in. Mine is strictly made up with just abstract swirls of paint for the flowers. In his florals roualt always painted a border as part of the picture so we did the same. Here’s my version. Not a great photo as I keep forgetting to use my better camera. The border area is much darker than this looks. I actually like this one and feel there was enough of a success to continue on learning this style. 16×20 acrylic on stretched canvas.

a la Roualt

One of the things I’ve been working on is using more paint. Alas with acrylics the surface had almost completely smoothed out by the time it dried. Even though I’d gone back and added more paint on some of the flowers. So for acrylics I’ll either have to use lots of gel medium or an impasto medium if I want the physical texture.

This next painting was a quick study, again with the goal of using more paint. Just a simple composition from an old photo. 10×8 oil on canvas panel.

Moonight Etude

Another quick study. This one is from a monochrome photo. I don’t know who took the picture. This is oil on the 11×15 gessoed paper I’ve used for some of the others.

Afternoon Nap

This next one I did this morning. I had intended to do another floral in Roualt’s style but there just seemed to be a different painting that wanted to come through. So I went with that. I’ve tweaked the contrast a bit to get the image more like the painting. Oil on 10×8 black gessoed canvas panel.


One thing I know. If I’m going to start painting with this much paint (or more!) I’ll have to start paying attention to that fat over lean thing.

Next weekend is the Janet Moore workshop on ColorΒ  & Composition so it may be a couple weeks before I get back to post. For the moment the day is cloudy and chill, the wind is rising. Beautiful. Cats are napping, the wood stove keeps us warm. Laundry is done, wood for the coming week has been hauled to the carport. Groceries are put away. The only thing left is to simply be. . . . And maybe paint.


as “a good tired?” After a hectic week at work and the second weekend in a row of having three painting classes, I was ready for a day of rest! πŸ™‚ I did get three wheelbarrows full of wood hauled for my neighbor and I for the coming week. And a load of laundry is in the wash, but I was definitely ready for a day to relax, hang out with the cats, and oh yes, paint. And by now my shoulder is sore. But it’s a good sore, right??????

I’m pondering about moving my blog to a differnt (paid) host and making it a little more inclusive. I’ve been feeling the urge to get back to writing more and more lately. Though I’m not sure why. My writing was much like my painting: constantly practicing but never doing any finished pieces. Well, at least I’ve done a few finished paintings. Anyway, there’s that children’s story that won’t go away, three characters from a novel that didn’t work at all, and my alternative (maybe, maybe not) new age novel spanning the last 50,000 years. Though I certainly don’t need a blog about them, it would be nice to have a place to write about things other than just painting. I know, I know, writing is an art form too. But you know what I mean. The idea is kind of like what I’m doing with my journal: using a sketch book and writing my journal entries among my sketches. Well, anyway, it seems time do dig out and dust off those old txt files and see what if anything can be salvaged. In the meantime…

I just realized that I didn’t take a pic of the painting I did in Carole’s class this week and I’m just too tired to do it now. I’ll try to post it next week. For now I’ll just share a couple of quick studies I did today. For the first one Kyoto was actually the one in front of the window but I used Tokyo’s coloring to get a bit of white in there. One goal for both of today’s paintings was to use more paint! And one conclusion I’ve come to is that the Winton paints are not the best for that. It can be done but I have to use lots of OMS and/or alkyd medium. Not all of them are dry but many are and it’s frustrating…at least for trying to do that style of painting. This isn’t a great photo and neither is the next one, but if you can tilt the monitor it helps get rid of some of the glare. And as you can see, my foliage and trees still suck. Oil on 6×8 panel.

Combo Cat

This next was again about laying on paint. I went to Nikki Basch-Davis’s site again today. Her interior paintings are the ones I really like. So I did a quick painting oft he corner of the room. The light and shadow is not good but it does have more paint than usual so that part was a success.Oil on 10×8 panel.

Just a Corner

I don’t know why I’m bothering to post these (tho they do look better in person) but I guess to be an artist one must have a least a bit of the exhibitionist inside.

So in closing I’ll leave you with a photo of Tokyo who later took his turn at the sunlit window.

Tokyo Napping

Flickr Photos

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