Category Archives: Blog – A Day’s Work


Meet the jurors….

Meet the jurors…
Schaefer International Gallery 2015 Portrait Challenge.

Seeing that your new best friend (me) has been given the fabulous opportunity of showing at the Schaefer International Gallery’s 2015 Portrait Challenge I thought you all might like to know a bit more about the folks who possess such obvious good taste: the jurors.

I am just learning about them myself, and one of the coolest things I know about them is that they come from all over the state — not just our beautiful Maui, but the Big Island and Oahu are represented as well.

Esther Shimazu

First let’s meet Esther Shimazu, the juror from Oahu. A picture is worth a thousand words, and plenty has been written about Ms. Shimazu, so how about we just take a look at a few of her sculptures.


Warm Green 2010, 13″ x 16.5″ x 10″

Ms. Shimazu was born in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1957. She attended the University of Hawaii at Manoa before transferring to the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, where she received a Bachelor of Fine Art in 1980 and a Master of Fine Art in 1982.


Fire Horse 2011, 13.75″ x 15.5″ x 5.5″

I just love the faces of her characters in the sculptures, don’t you? And the spirit that comes through in their expressions and poses – I could study them for hours!


Come Sit By Me 2010, 13″ x 10″ x 10″

You can read more about her at her website or at the Wikipedia entry for her:

Keith Tallett

Next up, Keith Tallett. Mr. Tallett is a mixed media artist who was born and raised in Hilo, on the Big Island. He is also a second generation surfboard shaper and tattoo practitioner of traditional Polynesian patterns.


Mobile Homeland, commercially produced carts with a variety of custom modifications that currently include unique fiberglass panels, lifted wheel units and mobile taro farming capabilities.


Flying Hawaiians, mixed media, 48″ x 72″

In Flying Hawaiians, pictured above, Mr. Tallett points out how new Hawaiian culture meets old with his use of tires — definitely part of the current obsession with cars as symbols of status — to evoke the traditional patterns of Polynesian tattoos — also external signs of personality and identity.


Contemporary Craft (artifacts)

I love how Mr. Tallett uses a variety of media to explore the past and present, from the most traditional and personal expression of individuality and identity (tattoos) to a more communal expression of culture and history (his mixed-media installation “Mobile Homeland”).

You can read more about Mr. Tallett and his approaches to his work at his website,

Sidney Yee

Finally, let’s meet Maui-based artist Sidney Yee. Yee was raised in Waipahu and earned his degree in secondary art education from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. He spent several years teaching art at Leilehua High School as well as running the art program at Lahainaluna High School on Maui. Mr. Yee’s work can be found in public and private collections including that of the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, and the Honolulu Academy of Arts.

art2aM Made vs N Made 2

Since I could find no website for Mr. Yee, showing you his most recent or relevant (to his job as juror) work is nigh on impossible. That’s interesting to me because of all three jurors it is Sidney Yee’s work with which I am most familiar, having shown with him at ArtMaui this year.



After quite a bit of time searching the web I was finally able to find these three paintings which I feel  express who he is as an artist. I apologize for the quality of the top two pictures. I felt rather as if I were dumpster-diving in trying to find biographical information or images of his work suitable for reproducing here, which by no means reflects his quality or reputation as a brilliant artist. I adore his work!

So there you have them — three esteemed artists offering their eye and expertise to select 66 artworks which they feel depict our people and culture from around the state.

For more information about the Schaefer Gallery and the 2015 Portrait Challenge (with the names of all 64 artists selected), as well as information about the current show at the Schaefer, visit their website at

And be sure to check out the Portrait Challenge show in January.

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They like me, they really really like me!

They like me, they really really like me!

I know it’s been a while since I’ve written, but I’ve been really busy, this time in the studio, working on my self-portrait. I finished it just in time to leave for a family vacation to my hometown of Cincinnati. Thank goodness, because originally I had counted on the couple of days between my arrival back home and the competition due date to put the finishing touches on the painting.

Had I gone through with that plan the painting wouldn’t have made it into the competition, because, as happens to lots of people on family vacations, I ended up in the hospital.

Yes, you read that right: family vacation, hospital, Cincinnati (a long, long way from my home on Maui).


The story of how I landed in the hospital on the very day of the family reunion for which I had travelled so far is a very long story that I won’t bore you with here, but suffice it to say that it put the kibosh on a lot of my plans. The most important part of the story is that the good docs at Mercy Hospital in Cincy thought I had a pulmonary embolism (blot clot in the lung) and grounded me from  flying until, four days after my travel date, they decided I didn’t. What they were looking at was an old embolism that we’d known about for some time.


I was finally cleared for travel the day after the painting was due at the Schaefer International Gallery for judging.

Had I stayed with my original plan not only would the painting be unfinished, but it also would not have been available for my studio mate, Taryn to deliver it to the Schaefer. (Finished or unfinished, were it not for her generosity I wouldn’t be writing this particular post. Thank you, sweet Taryn – I will always be indebted to you!)

So, with that backstory, on to the reason for this post.

Here on the lovely island of Maui there are several major events for artists that make our hearts go pitter-patter as the time for them approaches. Two of them, Art Maui ( and the Schaefer International Gallery Portrait Competition ( are juried competitions, and are considered to be prestigious presentations of the best of artists practicing in Hawaii.

As my regular readers may remember I was honored last winter to be included in Art Maui (Stephen Jost, Director of the Honolulu Museum of Art was the juror).

And (drum roll, please) I was recently notified that the portrait I painted for the Schaefer Portrait Challenge was also accepted.

To say I am excited is somewhat of an understatement. No, a MAJOR understatement. I am beyond thrilled, so honored, SO over the moon that this is happening to me, a relative newcomer to Hawaii’s artist community.


What makes this honor even more exciting for me is that not one, but two of my friends and colleagues, were also accepted.

My dear Taryn ( made it into the show (yeah, Taryn!) and my good friend Kathleen Kastles ( was also accepted (WooHoo, Kathleen!). You can bet that there will be some major celebrating at the Artist’s Reception on January 11!

The jurors for the Schaefer Portrait Challenge were: Esther Shimazu (O‘ahu), Keith Tallett (Hawai‘i Island), and Sidney Yee (Maui).

While I can’t show you the painting until after the show opens on January 13, the Schaefer does publish a very high quality catalog. When I get more information about how to get your hands on one I will post it here.

I am thrilled, and extremely honored to be among the artists selected for these prestigious shows.

I guess they do like me.




I often tell my students – every painting has at least one “fail” day. That’s the day you swear to yourself that you’ve completely forgotten how to paint, or that your painting sucks, or you suck (either as a painter or, if the painting is REALLY failing, as a person), and that you and/or your art will never amount to anything.

Today was one of those days for moi.

I used to blame it on not being in the studio enough, but I’ve been in the studio every day this week except yesterday. So it’s just me. Part of my process.

I’m lucky. I have a guy living with me who can remind me, when I’m bitching about my painting day, that it’s all part of the process, that I go through this on every single painting I make, and that I should just be thankful that it’s already over and done with so I can move on.

If you’re alone with your painting hell, it’s not that easy.

So I am here to personally remind you that you and/or your painting WILL fail one day. You’ll forget how to paint, or how to glaze, or how to draw.

Let yourself fail. In fact, CELEBRATE your failure. Its over now, and you can move on.

Perhaps you’ll have another fail day, and that’s ok too – it will then be over as well.

If you need any more encouragement to celebrate your failures, remember what our mothers used to say – “every time you fail you learn something.”

So learn from yours, even if what you learn is just the fact that you WILL fail.

Now, please excuse me – I am going to go and drink a toast to my failed day with Richard.


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Image 27

Catching up …. again!

Catching up… again!

It seems this is what I do these days – play catch up on so many aspects of my life. But tis ok, it’s a good thing to have “aspects” right?

I have been out of play again from the studio, sidelined by a little medical thing, another bout of radiation to deal with some sneaky little cancer-y stuff that escaped the cage. The good news is that the radiation, after just 7 treatments, is shrinking those nasty bits to nada! I can already feel relief, which for me means increased feeling in my left arm, decreased swelling as well, and a chance to get off the steroids that I have been taking for pain.

And of course, all those things mean less time before I can get back to painting. YAY!

Which brings me to this post.

Before being sidelined I actually was making progress on “Bigfoot,” which is what I affectionately call my beach chair painting of my friend, Pam. And I had saved up some awesome in-progress photos to tell the tale step-by-step, with pithy comments about how I made the decision for that color and this color and why that brushstroke was angled so and why I used tape to get a straight line and yada yada yada.

Ain’t happening folks.

Why? Well for lots of reasons, but some of it is just that after so long I just don’t remember all those things! My poor brain is not only 60 years old but it has been made to mush by a wide variety of chemicals and medications – some of which I voluntarily (and happily) ingested myself back in the day, and some that have been prescribed over the years by actually medical doctors.

Then I had an idea! I could just post all the progress pictures, in random order, numbering them, and see how many of you could come up with the correct order! I could give away another print (except that I haven’t mailed Dan’s to him yet – sorry Dan, been a little busy) or three and see what happens! Make it fun! Make it interactive!

Never mind.

So what I’m going to do is post them here – IN ORDER – for you to see, probably over the next two posts, and if I can remember what caused me to make a certain decision, or add in any way to your experience of just seeing the progress of the work itself, I will write.

If there’s a blank on the page under the image, well there is a corresponding blank in the file folder in my brain that used to hold that info. It’s been emptied and/or erased, depending upon whether you prefer a digital or analog image of my poor, drug-addled grey-matter.

So here goes – first , a recap – here’s where we were when we left our precious beauty:

Oh, right, the “hand job.” Ok, well that was an unfortunate choice of titles, BUT, in my defense, it was accurate.

So here it was, as far as I’d gotten back in what? January? February? when? Oh dang, not that long ago actually, in April.


Just a teensy little bit of structure going into that hand, and a dot where a ring might go. Not a bad start.

And then, the next time I entered the studio, this is what I accomplished:

Image 7

Oh wait – that’s a nice little shot of the studio – clicked the wrong image, but I think I’ll leave it there.

Back to the paintings:

Image 20

The hand has gotten more human-like, I’ll give it that. Having a little trouble with the ring here as it is really difficult to see in the source photos, but I’ll make it work. (Or I’ll have Pam send it to me to paint from… hahahaha NOT!)


Image 22

LOTS of work on legs, arms, foot.

Look here! A mini-lesson!

This is the ever-so-important stage where you have to stand back and look at everything that is connected. You’ve undoubtedly painted everything at different times, and you CANNOT (no, sorry) CANNOT ever match perfectly the paint mix you used before unless you’ve saved it in a jar or tube (which I do for backgrounds, actually).

So this is where your critical eye comes into play. Stand back, and in your mind’s eye reconnect every part of the painting to it’s neighbor. You’ll see what to do.

Sometimes you have to change some colors, or add some warmth or light, or just clean up edges. But unless you want your painting to look like a cut-paper collage, this is one of the most important days you’ll have with your work. Pulling it together.

(Hmmmm, some brain cells have survived. Interesting.)

Image 11

Here I’ve moved over to the left side where the tones are much cooler. Working to add reflected light (see that gorgeous bit of pale violet under her arm? That’s reflected light from the ground and chair straps).

OK, end of that day. Got a lot done I see! I really wanted to finish this painting before my studio mate got back from her trip to Europe, and guess what – she’s back. I failed. Sorry Taryn. But you got engaged at the top of the Eiffel Tower so what do you care?)

Next day:

Image 15

This was the day I decided to start making decisions about the background and treatment of the chair, and this actually shows quite a bit of progress, so I may be out of order.

A fun story from the studio:

Taryn (Alessandro, my talented and lovely “landlady” – you can see her work here: ) and I had just placed big orders to Dick Blick, and were excitedly sharing paints and colors and squeals of “wow would you look at that color!” when she saw a bit of a light grey violet I had on the palette – and she decided right there and then that it HAD to be my background color for the sky.

Hey, who am I to argue?

So that’s what it is. I haven’t been to the studio in a while but when I go back I’ll come back and give you the name and brand. It’s a gorgeous color!!

And do you know what the absolute coolest thing about using that color for the background is?

I don’t have to mix it, save it, and wonder if the mix will “hold” when it gets on the canvas.

Here’s a short little lesson on mixing paints, both brands and colors

Different manufacturers use different pigments and different oils and binders and different ratios of oil to pigment. That’s why you might say a Windsor & Newton ultramarine blue is “dryer” than a Gamblin, for example. Or why Daniel Green’s sap is very very oily, in fact so oily that when you squeeze it from the tube all the unincorporated oil makes a huge big puddle-y mess of your palette and shouldn’t that oil be back in the tube with the pigment? Not that I care.

I don’t buy one brand of paint. I would (and I would buy Gamblin) but I use a LOT of paint and I just can’t afford to ignore a great sale on a decent brand of paint.

So inevitably, I am going to be mixing brands. I try not to on my huge backgrounds, but even if I am using a single brand of two or three colors, chances are there is going to be a difference in the amount of oil used to bind each color.

If the two or three colors of paint aren’t thoroughly mixed with each other, and all the oil incorporated into the pigments evenly, you’re going to have sections of the painting that are shiny (the oil is sitting on top of the canvas) and sections that are flat (the oil has sunken in).

Now, if you are going to heavily glaze, varnish, or pour resin over a painting this isn’t a problem. But if you just want a protective layer of glaze, which is what I’ve been doing lately, you have to combat it.

I first found this little video tutorial at Gamblin’s website, but now they’ve moved their how-to videos to YouTube, so you can search for Gamblin and get them all. Here’s the one I watched, after writing to them and asking them what I should do. They call this phenomenon, “oiling out.”

It did work for me but I love the idea of not having to worry about it with this painting. THANKS TARYN!!!!

And, now on to what could be the finishing stretch if I were actually in the studio instead of sitting here on my bed looking longingly at pictures of it.

Image 8

Lots of finishing tweaks to the face, eyes, hair, ears, glasses, nose, forehead shadows, hat, neck, etc. etc. Not finished, but better. Taking shape. Sorry about the glare.

Image 29

Quite a bit of work here on the “yoga toes” – those plastic things you put between your toes to get a better grip when doing downward dog (I guess). And the bottom of the foot.

Oh how excited I am about the bottom of that foot! I am so so proud of it. Yes even I stand back sometimes and think, “wow,” I did that. This was one of those instances where it just flowed from me. Love it.

Oh, and the chair straps as well. Wow, I worked fast that day.

Image 27

Close-up of yoga toes, and people toes, which I also finished adding to that day.

Image 26

Worked  bit on the bathing suit, and really worked on the chair straps, and added the weighty shadows under the leg and foot. Basically folks, I tweaked everything!

And here is where I ended up. I’m really  looking forward to getting’ her done!

Image 25

Hmm, it seems more than a few brain cells have survived. I’ve impressed myself. Even threw a couple of mini-lessons in there for some added “meaty” content. Not bad.

Aaaaaaaaand I’m out of brain energy. Hope you enjoy – ask questions if you want, I’ll reply when I can.


And the winner is…

And the winner is…

Dan Toloudis, a former student of mine and painter extraordinaire!! Dan correctly guessed that I mixed ACRYLIC (nasty, NASTY stuff that) with my oils, which caused any oil pigment I mixed with it to dry quickly and then, when brushed, roll itself into tiny little balls, or, as I prefer to call them, boogers.

Here’s what happened:

As you probably already know I entered two paintings into Art Maui — the largest juried competition in Maui County. Art Maui requires that all paintings either be framed, or have clean edges.

I’m not the neatest painter in the world, so I chose to paint the edges white (I sometimes use black but these paintings are lighter and airier and I just thought white would be better).

Now, I always use acrylic paint for edge painting because it dries so quickly. I have a large tub of black acrylic, but I bought a brand new tube of Titanium White acrylic for these particular paintings.

This edge painting took place about three weeks ago (I know, I know, I should have been in the studio far more often and this never would have happened).

Anyway – when I eagerly filled my palette with paint the other day I grabbed the white from the top of my taboret. After the BOOGER thing happened and neither Taryn nor I could figure out what was causing the über drying of the colors-mixed-with-white I was scratching my head and wondering “WTF?” when I looked over at the taboret and noticed that awful word, that HUGE word…


on the tube of Titanium White.

WN_AAC_TitaniumWhite_200mlMystery solved.

Like I said – I felt sooooooo stupid!!

Lesson? Store your acrylics far away from your oils, and then after you use them, put them away!!!

Dan, choose your print. All of the “Surf and Sand” series are available. And please send me your snail mail address in an email.



Solve the mystery of the BOOGERS and win!

Boy do I feel stupid!

The other day I went into the studio to paint – in fact, that day was the day I did my “hand job” work.

What I didn’t tell you about that day is that the hand job didn’t go as smoothly as you might believe.

Oh, no. That hand gave me quite a bit of trouble, and not for any obvious reason (couldn’t see the shadows correctly, couldn’t make the fingers look like anything but hotdogs – you know those nasty little problems that crop up when you’re trying to depict flesh and muscle on bone?).

No, the reason that hand gave me a nasty case of the “really??? Is this what painting in Hawaii is like?” blues was for a MUCH more technical reason.

Tell you what. I’ll describe the problem, and the first person that comes up with the correct answer wins one of my mini prints.

No, I’m serious. Really. Read what I have to say and if you leave a comment naming the reason for my frustration and it is the correct reason, AND the time stamp on the comment shows you as the first person with the correct answer I will send you your choice of my “Surf and Sand” series mini prints.


So — I arrived at the studio and had to completely scrape off the old gobs of paint that had been sitting on my palette since the last time I painted – like, maybe, two years ago? No, ok, it was a couple of months. I know, I know, I should have made time to get into the studio but I was busy with things like cancer and stuff, ok?

Not that I’m bitter.

Anyway – I scraped off all the old paint, and luxuriated in the placing of fresh, new gobs of paint on my palette. Oh yes – the same order every time: white, lemon yellow, cad yellow, cad red light, cad red medium, cad red deep, yellow ochre, raw sienna, burnt sienna, raw umber, burnt umber, alizarin crimson, cerulean blue, cobalt blue, ultramarine blue, sap green. Always the same, every single time.

On that day my paints were somewhat scrambled into a heap in my tiny taboret, so rather than just being able to reach for the correct paint, I had to scramble a bit, except for the whites, which were all on the top shelf of the taboret.

(I’m giving you a big hint here – please appreciate it.)

Once the palette was filled I proceeded to start work on the infamous hand. Things were going rather well, considering I hadn’t painted in over two months. I always “forget how to paint” on these back to the studio days, so I actually was pleasantly surprised to note how well things were going.


I noticed when I reached for my familiar flesh tone formula (lemon yellow, alizarin crimson, and white) that the paint had dried on the palette.


Huh? I kindof looked around to see if there were a reason – perhaps the fan was too close to the palette.

I moved the fan.

Paint still dried in minutes.

Never had this happen before – how strange!

I added a little oil, this being the third or so layer on the canvas, and noted something even more strange.

boogersThe paint was balling up into little, well, I can only call them boogers — on the canvas. Argggggh!

This wouldn’t do, no it wouldn’t do at all!

I added a bit more oil and tried again. Boogers!

At this point my studio mate Taryn came in and I told her about the little problem I was having, and she offered to loan me a bit of slow-drying medium, to see if somehow the weather was making the paint dry faster.

I tried it. Same result.


So I took a break. (Fast forward running out for BBQ chicken at the local Hawaiian BBQ place, coming back, eating said chicken, all the while studying the canvas and noting the presence of even more little rolled up balls of paint. Or boogers.)

That’s when I realized something.

I looked at my palette carefully, and realized that ONLY THE COLORS I HAD MIXED WITH WHITE were drying on the palette.

That is a HUGE hint, folks. I mean really, I am practically GIVING away the print for nothing!!

But that’s all the hint you get.

What was causing my paints to dry so quickly on the palette, and what was causing all those boogers (I love spelling that word) on my canvas???

Leave your answer below – I can’t wait!!!