Painting Tools – What’s Going on here?

Paint Brush-6

Digital Tools 53 Paper-

Yesterday I was swimming and thinking about a painting I wanted to start in the studio.

As I often do, I started painting with my mind while I swam laps.

I took my finger and started to paint. Wait a minute!

I want to paint on a canvas, not an ipad!

This would be fun to talk about.

What’s going on here?

The Sketchbook Book Project 2013 – Hanoi, Vietnam


Click on image to enlarge

Xoi Ga Bun   2001

Sticky rice, chicken, round rice noodles

Bamboo portfolio

Saunders Waterford, Arches 90wt, bamboo, spirit, rice and other paper from Vietnam, Old Vietnamese book, museum board, watercolor, rubbings, gouache,

Paintings and drawings, old Vietnamese book, Xerox transfers, fan, buffalo stamp, pen and ink, street litter,

Fabric, notepaper, newspaper, ribbon, thread, raffia

Poems by the artist

10 x 7 ¼ inches

The paper in Sketchbook Project 2013 I received in the mail is thin and creamy colored. I’m planning on taking the book apart, using the original cover, but adding my own paper.

Photographing chairs has been an ongoing project of mine. This seems to be a good place to start.

Yesterday I printed on standard copy paper about 30 pages of images pertaining to chairs and sitting. This morning I’ll scan some drawings done during my travels. The paper is too thin to really dig into or paint on so I may gesso one side of the page to give it some body or cover the image with a clear mat medium. The images are both horizontal and vertical. We’ll see which orientation wins out.

The image above  is  from a book I made in Vietnam. I cut paper before we left on our trip. Each day I would take a few sheets to draw on. Some art supplies and a few sheets of paper fit in my backpack without having to carry around the weight of a sketchbook. The sheets of paper were separate too so I could put them together any way I wanted when I got home.

Moushrabiyas, Picasso and the Red Line – Morocco, Spain and California


New version of ‘Rolled’ – unfinished   click on image to enlarge

Paintings evolve. Sometimes painters work on a painting for years. Picasso did. Going back to the studio I looked at the painting ‘Rolled ‘ which I thought was finished.  It’s so dark ! I can’t see the variations in color! All shapes are the same size! Auughh It needs work. So I started to paint. One stroke changes the painting. Another stroke needs to be done. I turn the canvas in a different direction.  I looked at  ‘Ghost  Horse’ and thought, how can I relate this canvas to that one? On paper I sketched my hand, foot and elbow, cut out the shapes and pinned them on the canvas. (I know, I’m not supposed to puncture the canvas with holes according to the old rules) Now I have to integrate the bigger shapes. The red line needs to be stronger. Well, maybe it is ok……


One of my blogger friends looked at this painting . His response was To be honest, I don’t really get paintings, esp. illustrative, abstract  paintings. It is nice to get into the mind of a painter. Er? Any hint … interpretation? I’m totally dense.
OK . You have challenged me! You are from S. California so you probably swim in the ocean. Ever get rolled by a wave when you are in the ocean and don’t know which way is up? So if you look at that painting, on the lower right just above the red line you will see a little white paint shaped like me falling legs and arms up with curved back, If you look around the painting you see bits of blue sky The painting or ocean is dark with flashes of light. all kinds of shapes, fish, kelp, water swirling maybe you get slammed against a rock and get a flash of pain (red line). So my painting is how I felt when I got rolled. Or how I felt with some situation going on in my life. How I felt in my head.
Abstract painting is like interpreting jazz. Abstract painting is made up of variations of color, form, line, texture, space. It’s how the painter feels. How does Branford Marsalis feel when he plays his saxophone? He makes that instrument talk using variations of sound. How do you feel when you respond to these abstract music rhythms and sounds?
Squint your eyes when you look at a landscape. It reduces your ‘picture’ to basic shapes, color, line, texture, space.

‘Zellig’ by Carla Trefethen Saunders available on

This painting has many layers. It started out in the year 2000. The painting was about how I felt about moushrabiyas. In Morocco, in strict Islamic tradition, moushrabiyas or intricately carved geometrical screens were designed to keep Muslim women hidden from view. These screens on balconies and windows allowed women to observe their surroundings without themselves being seen. I was told they were to protect the women from men’s eyes. As a western woman I interpreted that as taking away women’s rights. Our world is in a turmoil when it comes to the issue of women’s rights.

Drawing with a Stick

double click on image to enlarge the drawings

While waiting to drive back from a painting workshop in Calistoga, I sat on the ground watching a cow and her son, “Tiny” who was a huge black bull. Using two 6″ x 8″ pads of paper I sketched the animals. Both sketch pads were open so while one ink drawing dried I sketched on the other pad. Holding a long stick, I dipped the end into a bottle of India ink and started to draw. Here are some of the results. I’m thinking of making it into a book. Maybe I’ll reduce them to the size of a cell phone, keep them separate and let people play, making up their own stories about these guys.

What’s going on in the Studio – California

double click to view close up of the end of the tulips and the beginning of a trypic

Computer Ergonomics and Blogging about Painting

My mouse and my paint brush are causing havoc  with my hand. Gotta stop blogging so often. You’re probably saying,” whew she is finally winding down. I don’t have to feel badly if I don’t push the “like” button.” I’m still here seeing what you are doing. I’ll keep going to the studio -just have to give my hand a rest and figure out my body posture. Traveling is in my near future. That will keep me off the computer. Well, maybe I’ll post from my cell phone app……

 These photos were taken inside, natural light , no rain, using the new iphone camera. The lens is amazing. I’m getting very lazy – not dragging around my camera and setting up the studio for shots of art work – just whipping out my phone and taking a picture! Pretty cool.

Self-Critique -Looking back at a Finished Painting

click on image to see more detail

Remember your school days when you had critique sessions about your work?  Now many of us are in our studios painting alone with no support groups . Going back to my painting, Celebration I asked myself some questions while I wrote in my journal. What do you like about this painting. What don’t you like about this painting?

What do I like about this painting? It may be too soon to critique it. I’s still very fresh so I’m really liking it.

Looking at the drawing of tulips. This drawing is about five feet long. I was drawing to music which helped me draw a very loose, free drawing using a stick and walnut ink   found on the internet. What I don’t like about this drawing is the color of the photograph. The paper has a lovely creamy tone which looks nice with the warm walnut colored ink. My computer needs to be calibrated in order to capture the true colors of my art work.

What I don’t like about this painting. I’ve decided not to tell you. I want to see what you have to say.

What do I like about my painting. It’s about 5 feet wide. The colors and brush strokes came out of me interpreting the pure joy of my state of mind at that time. The paint strokes show different sizes of brushes used to paint this piece. Linear work is both 2 dimensional and 3 dimensional drawing. The large white background shapes holds the painting together. The energy and space between the tulips is just as important as the subject matter.

From your viewpoint, what do you see?

Do you have any constructive criticism for me?

Painting with Oils Makes me sick but …

May 18th painting using interactive acrylics about 4 x 5 feet. click on painting to see detail

My sinuses and oils are not friends. I read this from a blogger in Namibia AfricaSILKEBERENS art, life, and africa.

In my studio I have a note scrawled on a piece of paper tacked up on my wall. Oils make me sick. Every time I painted my nose would run. I knew the solvents were toxic. Oh, but I loved to paint with oils. They were so buttery. Acrylic was so hard, so plastic. It’s was just not me.

Well, I have discovered a new love. Interactive acrylics by Chroma.

  • you can  reblend and rework all day.
  • a week later you can erase the paint or soften it in order to blend colors with new paint.
  • there is no plastic look or feel.
  •  Paint dries satin, not plastic looking.
  • I can control the drying process.
  • The paints are water soluble – not toxic.