Sunday, November 14, 2010

Fealing Lin

The National Watercolor Society hosted a demonstration today with Fealing Lin.  The new gallery was a great spot for the full-house crowd who came to see this internationally recognized NWS signature artist. It was interesting to learn that Fealing was originally a dentist from Taiwan.  Besides being an outstanding watercolorist, she has a delightful personality.

Fealing used a hot-press block for her portrait, which was taken from one of her Renaissance Fair photos. While using local color as a basis, she identifies the subtle warms and cools to lay in a variety of colors as a tinted background.  Using her "Sean Connery" model of facial planes, she carves out the features by changing temperature or value as the planes change. Subsequent layers keep warms over warms and cools over cools in most cases.  Fealing beautifully linked and opened passages into each other through lost edges.  I found it enlightening to see how she made shadows and their larger shapes. Rather than lay in a literal "shadow-colored shape", she moved through the shape adding darker colors of the local color.

"Beyond Melody and Poetry"
This demonstration was inspiring and quickened my inner enthusiasm for painting people.  I thoroughly enjoyed my first full workshop ever with Ted Nuttall and saw similarities in their approaches. Fealing Lin gave an excellent demonstration, and I cannot wait to see the completion of the painting!!  With apologies for the flash glare and poor photo quality, the picture to the right  shows her recent work that was juried into the 2010 National Watercolor Society Annual Exhibition.  She is one of the contributing artists to the Northlight book Watercolor Secrets by Rachel Rubin Wolf.   Her self-portrait is featured on the cover of the book.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Kyliefornia Watercolor Awards

My granddaughter, Kylie, had the day off school yesterday, so my daughter and I took her to visit the spectacular Watercolor West Exhibition in Brea.  It is a beautiful gallery, and I thought the show was outstanding!!  I particularly enjoyed how they grouped the paintings together.  All the florals were together, all the portraits/figurative works, all the glassware, urban scenes, water scenes, etc.  It gave the viewer an opportunity to enjoy the various subjects side-by-side.  Kylie and I would look at the panels of florals, for example, and she would pick out her favorite.  Then, we would talk about why she liked that painting best.  It gave this Uma's heart joy to see her eyes light up about a particular painting and give concrete reasons that it appealed to her.  I was also thrilled to see how her little, five-year-old self often picked those that were picked by the exhibition's juror!  So, here are the choices and juror comments of the Kyliefornia Watercolor Awards...named after it's juror, Kylie Devoto.  Kylie has been studying art with an emphasis on markers and crayons at her preschool for 3 years and Kindergarten for 2 months.  Her personal works can be viewed on Uma's refrigerator by appointment.
"Crab Cooker" by Francesca Brayton
"The Barnacle Boat"  by Dan Burt

"Kohala Honu" by Marilyn Wear 

"Chinatown Restaurant" by John Salminen

"Double Delight" by Katherine Barrows

My daughter's selection for BEST OF SHOW
"Dancer's Glow" by Maureen Wheeler

"Butterfly Delight" by Clonard Thomas

"Mosquito Wash"  by Mike Padian

"Wave Action" by John Hewitt

"Gompha 2" by Ratindra Das 

"At Rest" by Bev Jozwiak


"Valentine Roses" by Kathleen Ballard
I asked Kylie to guess what painting I would want out of the whole show.
She raced around the panel and said, "This one, Uma!"
And she was exactly right!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Nancy Goldman ~ Tustin Art League

This is the second month that I've attended the Tustin Art League meeting. This relatively small art group has offered excellent demonstrators.  Sharon Sakimoto, a professional photographer, was the demonstrator in October and gave an extremely helpful tutorial on how to photograph art work for entry into competitions.

Last night's demonstration was given by Nancy Goldman, a diversely talented and hard-working artist from the Santa Ana/Tustin area who presented the beautiful art of silk painting. The audience was fascinated about the dyes and other products used.  While the application looked similar to watercolor, silk painting requires a resist to prevent the dye from invading reserved areas in the fabric and had other characteristics that determine the desired method of application.  Nancy was extremely knowledeable about the product choices and techniques.  She was an excellent demonstrator, fielding almost incessant questions from the audience who were eager to learn more about it. She provided numerous finished samples of her handiwork to depict the results of each technique.  It was very apparent that Nancy had invested hours preparing to give real-life examples of each stage of the process.  It was like a cooking show where she would paint on the fabric and then "pull one out of the oven" that was already dried and ready for the next step. 

She showed how different types of salt resulted in various textures and how droplets of alcohol could yield beautiful variations.  From the first application of the drawing on paper to recommendations on framing the finished piece, Nancy gave us a wonderfully full picture of the medium's beautiful qualites. She also generously donated two GORGEOUS paintings to be raffled off for the group.  People were grabbing up tickets like a day-after-Thanksgiving frenzie!!  Unfortunately, my daughter and I didn't possess the lucky tickets, but two grateful individuals went home with treasures.

Check out Nancy's short video of the process on her website post from November 1, 2010 "Silk Angels":

She will be teaching Silk Painting classes soon.  Contact Nancy at:

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Gerald Brommer

The Demonstration Artist for the Huntington Beach Art League last night was Gerald Brommer.  It was glowingly evident that this past President of NWS loves to paint.  The main message I got out of his demo was that an artist is free to edit a scene to make it better or to communicate a message.  He said that copiers just copy stuff.   Painters are trying to  visually convey a descriptive feeling about a place. Brommer said, "A picture is something you're in.  A painting is something you create."  We all laughed along as he shared several stories that resulted from his skillful editing of scenes.  One person "recognized" the exact location of a painting that was really a conglomeration of the best parts of several towns. Another couple took a picture of their painting with them on vacation to track down the exact spot.   They concluded he must have painted it in a private location.

Mr. Brommer laughed with enjoyment using a handy little tool that Joe (Cheap Joe) gave him at a workshop  - The Cheap Joe's Paint Pusher. ( After applying a healthy thickness of paint, he scraped out trees, striations on the mountain half-dome, and grasses.  Better than using an old credit card, the inexpensive paint pusher has several angles and edges to give different marks. Broomer smiled at his handiwork, delighted with the ease of the gadget, saying that we can now throw out most of our brushes. 

Brommer told a humorous story about palettes. He and his wife were watching another artist's demonstration.  After a few strokes of color, the artist took out a tissue and carefully wiped his palette clean.  Brommer's wife leaned over and whispered to him, "What is he doing?"  His own palette is, shall we say, "well-seasoned" with layers of paint and sufficient palette mud.

A beautiful print was donated by Gerald for the door prize winner.  The ticket sales go to fund an HBAL scholarship. One of his beautiful w/c + collage pieces was auctioned.  For those interested in collage, my friend Nancy Standlee posted her Gerald Brommer Collage Workshop photos at Seems like he's got lots of fun techniques up his sleeve. I'll never tire watching master artists do their handiwork.  Each has such a unique approach.  It is encouraging and exciting to use a medium where there are always new ideas emerging.

Monday, November 1, 2010

John Salminen

Sunday, I had the pleasure of attending a demo day featuring John Salminen.  Sweet friend and mega-talented artist, Nancy Goldman, also attended, and we soaked up many new ideas from this AWS Dolphin Fellow!  Initial technical malfunctions enabled us to have a lengthier time hearing about his background and mentors including six quarters of instruction from the amazing watercolorist, Cheng Khee Chee. Due to their style differences, I would have never guessed this influence in Salminen's paintings, but Cheng Khee Chee's words of wisdom were repeatedly acknowledged throughout the painting process along with a few techniques from another surprising influence, Bob Ross! A beautiful painting was accomplished in the day, despite the technology challenges.  Oh, how I wish I could have bid on the piece which went to the lucky bidder for a song! 

Unique tools were used including a Magic Eraser Original and a mouth atomizer.  Hardware store masking tape was a key player in the result. It constantly amuses me to hear how masters, such as Salminen, use such tools as generally "whatever brushes he gets" to produce such enviable results.  I am always eager to discover what secret brush or paint brand artists hold in their arsenal.  It actually runs through my mind that if I purchase that product (not necessarily USING it), my paintings will soar to new heights.  With an 84 color palette (ok...a slight exaggeration) and packages of unopened stuff in my closet, it hasn't happened yet!  I'm beginning to get the picture that there are a few important items:  quality paper and a handful of artist grade paints!  It has become clear that the more important ingredients are a knowledge of values, basic design principles, and color characteristics. Top that with actually cracking open some of those goodie bag tricks and practice, practice, practice to learn when and how to use them.

Even after viewing in person one of Salminen's mind-boggling masterpieces, I believe it was "Rainy Day, Times Square,"  I was still surprised to find he does 90% of his painting with a #4 brush!! 

They announced that Fealing Lin will be doing a demo on November 14th.  I can't wait to see yet another approach to this fantastically diverse medium of watercolor!


When we walked out of the NWS luncheon Saturday, my husband noticed a beautiful grand piano in the hotel lobby.  It was draped with a crisp white linen cloth and had a little, but clearly worded note on the top:  "PLEASE DO NOT PLAY THE PIANO.  The Management"

It really struck a chord with him.  How many of us have some level of abilities and even some training or expensive tools to use them, but we don't" play the beautiful piano"?! We're afraid we won't be good enough or that we'll mess it up, so we let it sit idle in the corner.

NWS President, Mike Bailey has a great post on his blog with similar sentiments.  He says:

Mastery is not a trait someone is born with or is given as a gift. Every good artist I know puts in way more time than many folks do at a job. They dream about it at night. They read and study about it. They drill themselves in exercises and studies. They are often compulsive about it. They are willing to risk failure daily in order to have the opportunity to make a single success at painting. So, if you want to really compliment an artist (musician, dancer, actor, painter, sculptor etc.) let them know you appreciate their insatiable efforts to get better and better. It really is quite a cool way to live . . . . .it is most fulfilling!!

Read the entire post at

I'm determined to pull off the cloth, sit down, practice and get better at whatever measure of talent I've been given.  It might not be pretty to begin with, but I'm going to put some brushes and paint on the paper daily and make some kind of music!