Sunday, November 6, 2016


A classmate in my 100 Drawings class posted the following comment about Lesson 8: I used a very organic approach without thinking too far ahead, trying to just focus on the one step ahead of me.

Jane wrote: YAY!! Everyone should read this. That is EXACTLY the approach for this lesson, for this class, and I think the approach to art-making in general that will keep it fresh. 

Jane's response opened a door for me. 

I absorbed that encouragement and also went back to the lesson where she'd written, You can follow the techniques and sequence of the demonstration piece in the video if you like, but don’t be a slave to them. Feel free to come up with your own methods.

I took a deep breath, stilled myself, and let those messages take hold. 

I knew I needed to start from a place of quiet. I gessoed over an old painting. 

Then I brought to mind a typical bit of ‘busy-ness' from my daily life, e.g. exercising at the gym, and made busy marks on my canvas; next I thought of a typical daily restorative practice, e.g. meditating, and quieted my canvas … after that I—internally—drove to the library listening to NPR (left handed pencil scribbles), met my friend Nancy for coffee (oil pastels), sat to look at a painting demo online (magenta acrylic layering), prepared food (purple stripes), met with a tutee (neopastel scribbles), and so forth until the painting felt complete.

2015 painting on gessobord as a start
Busy and Quiet #8
I see a little monochrome here in this piece! The busy area (<25%) has bright oil pastels and ink
contained in a square space. Creating a cruciform format and acting as transitional space,
a gauzy area of three light values of magenta fills about 25% of the painting. A darker,
more opaque magenta offers a vibrant but relatively quiet backdrop.


  1. First I love the cross composition motif!!! The variants of the magenta hue is wonderful.. and the busy area like a window to some excitement, another winner!!!!Is the 25% one of the restrictions in this lesson? I found 3 ugly oil painting I have to transform... will be doing in oils ....

    1. I see some of the start coming through very subtlely. You did have a busy day so you needed the calm in the end.

    2. Working metaphorically was very helpful. In my day to day living I don't ever resist 'covering over' a busy morning with a quiet meditation (though I DID have to learn to slow down to incorporate a meditation practice in my life), so thinking of painting over as a quiet meditation let me move along in letting go as I moved through the flux process of painting.

    3. Lesson requirements: ≥50% quiet, ≤25%, ≤25% transitional. The limitations were engaging.

      Working with the cruciform format was fun; hadn't used that format in awhile. And the predominance of magenta and bright colors was also fun.

  2. I used a very organic approach without thinking too far ahead, trying to just focus on the one step ahead of me: I indeed think that is the magic of painting! Not thinking, but just going forward, finding your way while you are doing the work. I think the beautiful thing of art is that it gives us the possibility to practice that over and over again...

    1. Simone, THANK YOU for sending these words and this message right back at me—you'd think that I could carry my belief in this organic approach and this magic into my studio with me but, sometimes, even JUST HAVING WRITTEN A POST about focusing on the one step ahead of me … I forget! As you point out, though, the beauty of creating art is that it gives us the possibility to practice that over and over again. Yes, it does! And I am glad it does!

  3. Love the subtle cross, the colors, the texture. JOY!

    1. Thanks, Sheila. It's fun to get your comments. This was a joyful piece for me to create—for a change, I didn't overthink it as I worked.