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Schizophrenia … or artistic license?

Lately, I’ve been producing three very different kinds of paintings. They don’t look like they are painted by the same person.  I’ve talked before about being a little schizophrenic because I was producing two different kinds of paintings. Well, now it’s three.  So is it schizophrenia … or artistic license?

First are the sorta traditional paintings produced on watercolor paper in Frank O’Cain’s class at the Art Students League.  I’ve been taking classes with Frank for many years and have posted this painting based on the water in Lake Ashi in Japan before. I love the feeling of depth and the fact that without my telling you the source, you might not know what it was about.

Silence of the Deep

          Silence of the Deep           Acrylic on paper           12×16           $850


Next are different, more atmospheric paintings on raw canvas produced in Ronnie Landfield’s class at the Art Students League.  I’ve just started taking this class to learn the technique so this is the first one I’ve finished.  But more are in the works. I love the atmospheric effect.


          Sunset           8×11           Acrylic on raw canvas           $450


And finally, very different acrylic paintings on gessoed canvas in my studio at home, this one a stylized view of Mt. Fuji based on a recent trip to Japan.

Mt. Fuji

          Mt. Fuji           Acrylic on canvas            5×7           $400

My paintings serve as a reminder of where I have been and what I have seen, a visual memoir of my past experiences.  Although painted in three very different styles, they are all part of me.  Doesn’t feel schizophrenic.

So I’m going with artistic license.

Water Series, some look like water …

It has suddenly dawned on me that I’ve been painting a series about water for over a year.  It started with a trip to New Zealand in January 2017 and continued through a trip to Japan and now to memories that go back 10 years.  The paintings in my Water Series, some look like water, some  like space, some like well, I don’t know what.

Water is fascinating: how it moves; how it changes color; what’s on the surface; what’s down deep. You get glimpses, but you’re never really sure. It’s always changing.

All of them are painted with acrylic on paper, to this day, many of them using acrylic like watercolor, my first love.

And there is no easily recognizable sequence.  They all start as paintings of water (my intention), and then the painting takes over and tells me what it wants.  At a certain point with each one, it doesn’t matter what my wishes are/were, I simply have to go with what makes sense for the painting itself. For someone who likes to be in control (moi), this is not easy. So sometimes I get it, and sometimes I don’t. And when I don’t, the painting goes in a file and I start a new one, hopefully having learned something from the previous failure.

It started with Beyond the Pale

Beyond the Pale

Beyond the Pale      Acrylic on paper     18×24      $1400

Does Beyond the Pale even look like water?

Then came Living the Light which, of course, does feel similar to Beyond the Pale.  In addition to using acrylic like watercolor (thinned extensively with water), both also made extensive use of masking fluid to protect the lights.

Living the Light

Living the Light      Acrylic on paper        18×24      $1400

Then came several more paintings with non-water titles but based on lake and river water in New Zealand and Japan. This started to just be about water. Then I started seeing seals … or fish … or maybe birds. Ultimately it’s about migration. And here I started not thinning the acrylic so much with water, using it more like acrylic and less like watercolor.


Migration      Acrylic on paper      16×12      $850

Then came Go with the Flow, which certainly looks more like water.

Go with the Flow

Go with the Flow      Acrylic on paper       15×11      $750

Watching the water billow up next to our boat on the lake in New Zealand was the inspiration for the followling three  paintings, none of which ended up looking particularly like water, but with all of which I ended up using acrylics like watercolor (again).


Passage          Acrylic on paper      16×12      $850


Jacobs Ladder

Jacobs Ladder      Acrylic on paper      16×12      $850

As with the paintings, Passage and Jacob’s Ladder, Celebration started with the color patterns in the churning water next to our boat in New Zealand. And the colors and painting process used are the same as in Passages.

But what a difference. This painting is playful, joyous, dancing. It’s a celebration of life in all its complexity and wonder. Somehow this painting insists on being happy.


Celebration      Acrylic on paper      15×11      $750

Finally, (there were others, but I don’t want to overdo it), Silence of the Deep.

Silence of the Deep

Silence of the Deep      Acrylic on paper      12×16      $850

This time I wanted to convey the depth of the water. Lots of layers of blues and white. This was on Lake Ashi in Hakone, Japan. Does it look like water?

At the end of 2017, I started to go back to my (many years earlier) memories of the Merced River, visiting Yosemite with good friends, and looking at the river rushing over the rocks from the balcony at the inn.

Memory of Merced

Memory of Merced      18×24      Acrylic on paper      $1400


Finally (so far), I have one last memory of Merced, Rapids:


Rapids      Acrylic on paper       12×16      $850      2018

I have no idea where this will end, if ever.

















Still schizophrenic

Well, I haven’t blogged about this for awhile, but I’m obviously still sorta schizophrenic ( I produce one kind of art at the Art Students League — see my last post — and something very different at home).  Not sure how to explain this, but at home I work with fluid/liquid acrylics and move them around with my fingers, palette knife, etc. … but not a brush. And the paintings I produce look very different.

Case(s) in point:  two recent paintings.

Storm's Coming

Storm’s Coming      Acrylic     6×8      $300

Wanted to create a stormy sky and turbulent water underneath.  Guess I did that, but the yellow sky looks almost more dominant than the storm.  Tried to fix it, but it didn’t want to happen.  OK.  I know when to give up.


Who said dinosaurs were brown

Who said dinosaurs were brown?      Acrylic      8×10      $400

This started as an experiment with red, blue, teal and white. Who knew I would end up with dinosaurs?

Playing with fluid acrylics is a lot of fun.  It doesn’t feel like serious work, which is good.  I just do what I feel like doing and let the paint (with a little help) do its thing.




Start with a memory of water

I’m not sure I understand why, but something about the ever-changing nature of water fascinates me.  Maybe it goes back to my ever-changing childhood (we moved a lot) .. or maybe not.  But all my recent paintings at the League start with a memory of water, in California, in China, in Japan, in New Zealand, in Iceland.  No matter where I go, I am captivated by the water. Lakes, rivers, oceans, beaches, you name it, my paintings start with water.

Many don’t end up looking like water.  Some even look like the sky or outer space.  But they all start as water.

In no particular order, here is a small sampling from the Fall of 2017 at the Art Students League.

Silence of the Deep

Silence of the Deep      Acrylic      12×16      $850

I wanted to convey the depth of the water. Lots of layers of blues and white. This was on Lake Ashi in Hakone, Japan.



Wave      Acrylic      12×16     $850

Yet another painting inspired by the water outside our boat in Japan.


Go with the Flow

Go with the Flow      Acrylic      15×11      $750

Water is fascinating: how it moves; how it changes color; what’s on the surface; what’s down deep. You get glimpses, but you’re never really sure. It’s always changing.



Migration     Acrylic      16×12      $850

This started to just be about water. Then I started seeing seals … or fish … or maybe birds. Ultimately it’s about migration.


Living the Light

Living the Light      Acrylic      18×24      $1400

I’ve  done several paintings based on the water churning next to the boat … in New Zealand, China, Iceland, you name it. Sometimes it ends up looking like water; sometimes it looks like outer space. Sometimes I don’t know what it looks like. It’s hard to pin water down.



Beyond the Pale

Beyond the Pale     Acrylic      18×24       $1400

This painting took forever. I started it shortly after I came back from New Zealand. Four months, roughly 24 layers of very thin acrylic paint, almost as many layers of masking fluid applied and later removed … it doesn’t look anything like what I was originally aiming for, but somehow does remind me of New Zealand.


Memory of Merced

Memory of Merced      Acrylic      18×24      $1400

My most recent painting at the League is based on my oldest memory of the Merced River in California. Many layers of green, viridian, purple and white. Years ago, my husband and I visited Yosemite with friends and we stayed in a little inn next to the Merced River. I remember the hummingbirds, the delicious breakfasts, the sunlight and the water rushing around the rocks.

Water is ever changing, but my memories are preserved.



Holiday art gifts

Somehow, I’ve never managed to come up with holiday art gifts for my friends in time for the holidays.  I always seem to think of it the day before: clearly not enough time to create the gift, let alone give it.  This year is different.

In the past four days I’ve managed to create 10 (so far) mini (4×4) canvases and have already given one to a friend.  A small sampling:

Holiday Green

Holiday Red and Green

Holiday Blue


Now all I have to do is figure out how to get them packaged and into the mail in time.

Wild Gardens

The wild flowers growing by the rice paddies in Japan were really beautiful: many shades of pink and red and yellow, lots of different greens (grasses in front of and behind the flowers), stems and grasses at all different angles, and lots of depth. But how to paint those wild gardens…

My first attempt didn’t work very well, but in my frustration, I smooshed it (don’t you love it when I use these technical art terms?!?) and inadvertently created a painting that did work. That was my last post, but I knew I had to go back to my original idea of how to paint those wild gardens and try to create something I liked.

So voila; here is my second wild garden:

Wild Garden II

          Wild Garden II      8×10

This is definitely better than my first attempt (the pre-smooshed version). But the pink flower in the upper right corner is the wrong color and way too big. Instead of pink this needs more varied reds. And ditto for the greens. I am starting to get the hang of the push-pull though.

So I said to myself, “Self, the next one will be better.” And so it is.

Wild Garden III

                  Wild Garden III       10×8       $425

Hopefully, the next one will be even better.




Moving along

Well, we’re back from Japan, I’ve organized my receipts/photos, etc., and started painting.  At the League I seem to still be fixated on the patterns in the water next to the boat on Lake Ashi. In my home studio, I’m moving along, playing with my fluid acrylics and dripping them onto canvas and moving the paint around with my fingers or a palette knife. It’s a whole new way of using acrylic and, so far, I’m loving it.

Once I did Mt. Fuji and a few of the flowers I saw in Japan (my last post), I decided to paint the wild flowers I saw near the rice paddies using a similar technique.  The goal was to show the intermixing of the flowers and the tall grasses, the push-pull of grasses behind flowers behind grasses behind … you get the picture. I wanted to create some depth, but not too much.

The first Wild Garden clearly was an experiment. I put down the yellow-green background and moved it around with my fingers to cover the canvas. Then I dripped the green stems, used the palette knife to create leaves and branches, dripped red flowers, blew on some to make them a little bigger, and finally moved some of the green stems over the flowers to create that feeling of depth, that push-pull.

Unfortunately, after all that effort, I didn’t like the way it looked.  Fortunately, the paint was still very wet so, in frustration, I just took my palette knife and smooshed everything vertically on the canvas. The end result was definitely weird, but promising.  So I added some more red flowers of varying sizes, moved some green stems/grass on top and added yellow dots for the centers on a few.  Still weird, but I liked it.  So this is the end result.

                     Wild Garden      14×11      $725

But I’m not giving up on my original idea of how to paint those beautiful wild flowers. Stay tuned.