Category Archives: Education

Museums in my backyard


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I am a member of an artist group in Long Island City (where my studio is located) that meets monthly to support each other, discuss art and our artwork. Recently, our fearless leader (thank you, Phoebe) organized a field trip to two museums in Long Island City.  We started at the SculptureCenter at 44-19 Purves Street.  “SculptureCenter’s space was built as a trolley repair shop for the subway system in 1907, but never used as such. In the 1940’s, the building was used for the manufacture, assembly, and repair of derricks, hoist, and cranes, which the facade reflects with the original signage from that era”(1).  Most of the sculptures displayed were a little too avant-garde for my taste, but I loved the building space with its exposed original brick and steel construction.

Our second stop was at MoMA PS1, “an exhibition space that devotes its energy and resources to displaying the most experimental art in the world. A catalyst and an advocate for new ideas, discourses, and trends in contemporary art, MoMA PS1 actively pursues emerging artists, new genres, and adventurous new work by recognized artists in an effort to support innovation in contemporary art”.(2)  I found the artwork at MoMA PS1 to be more polished and the conceptions behind them better expressed, but still very experimental.  My favorite work, a brightly colored web by Escobedo Soliz Studio, was strung in the entrance courtyard.  “This woven canopy encourages visitors to slow down, potentially reframing how they interact not only with each other but also with the landscape and sky”. (3)  I relaxed outside with my art group at the museum’s cafe to enjoy this canopy, a cold beer, and some great conversation.

What museums, galleries, parks, and other sites are in your neighborhood that you’ve never explored?

(1), (2), (3) the information plaque in the courtyard.



Painting in someone else’s shoes


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Erin Fitzhugh Gregory

I like to step back from time to time from creating my own paintings and learn something new from the exercise of copying another artist’s style.  My paintings these days are very labor intensive with all the paper cutting and piecing I am doing.  I’m looking for a method to help me speed things up by using larger, bold marks in my work.   I recently came across the colorful paintings of Erin Fitzhugh Gregory and thought I would see what could be learned from painting in her loose, juicy style.  Though I usually paint with acrylics, I switched to oil paints for these still lifes .  It was fun trying to emulate her bold brushwork using thick, colorful paint.  I struggled to capture Erin’s free, lively style where she represents a flower with just a handful of brushstrokes.  Still, I did learn to focus on each brush stroke, getting it right the first time and then leaving it alone in its simplicity.

Of course these exercises aren’t for sale seeing as they are copies of another artist’s work.  If you like them, you can buy your own  Erin Fitzhugh Gregory original or canvas print at

A special thank you to Erin Fitzhugh Gregory for permission to post this blog topic.

How I build my painting panels


I like to paint on cradled birch panels. I like how the 2″ depth lets me show a painting without the need for additional framing. The advantages of using wood panel instead of canvas is that the wood surface gives me a hard, inflexible material on which to painting. Working on canvas, especially large ones, is like painting the surface of a trampoline and it is too “bouncy” a painting surface for my tastes. I’m starting a new 4′ x 4′ painting today so I thought I would show you how I make the cradled panel for it.

First, I cut the top panel out of a sheet of 1/4″ birch veneered plywood and the sides and braces out of pine 1 by 2’s. Then I paint the pieces with 3 coats of white gesso. Next, I attach the cradled sides to the panel using wood glue and clamps. To keep the panel from warping, I also add a center brace and corner braces . I counter sink nails at all the joints for even more stability and patch the holes with wood putty. Last, I add more gesso over the nail holes. Voila! A new painting panel waiting for painting and paper.2014-10-14 19.50.34panel 2panel3

Wearing the Gown for the Third Time


The last time I wore a cap and gown to graduation was in 1985 (29 years ago!), long before marriage or kids, when receiving my MBA from Wharton Graduate School. This time around, my husband and two of my three children were there to cheer me on as I received my diploma for a Masters in Fine Art from the Academy of Art University. It was such a rush walking on stage to receive my diploma. I have to admit, it never gets old. What should I major in next?

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Pushing another chick out of the nest

Pushing another chick out of the nest

More good news…I sold another painting this week to a previous collector.  Some paintings are harder to let go of than others because they have special meaning for me.  “Exodus” is one of those paintings as it is the first painting I did for my master thesis.  This painting tells the story of an autocratic society where the citizens’ lives are heavily controlled under the guise of security and “the greater good”… (i.e. “1984”)  Some citizens choose to risk escaping into the unknown, forfeiting a life of safety and order for the chance at personal freedom.  And I’ll bet you thought it was just a painting about seed pods!

Like the seed pods, it is time for “Exodus” to escaping the confines of my studio and enjoy the freedom of a new home.


YES…NO…or MAYBE? Defending my thesis!

YES…NO…or MAYBE?  Defending my thesis!


I had my MFA dissertation presentation today (called a Final Review at the Academy).  In front of a group of three professors, I had to present my thesis, my artwork and the concept behind it all.  Though I was well prepared, I was still nervous.  I am happy to say I passed with flying colors.  I received some great feedback and direction for my future career as an artist.  I am looking forward to mulling this advice over once I stop celebrating.  Now it’s just one more month of class, six more paintings and I’ll be wearing a cap and gown again at a graduation ceremony.  I can’t believe it has been 29 years since the last time I did that!

More Gold Experimentation

More Gold Experimentation

I’m on a quest to find the best “gold” products to use in my art.  Today, I tested out metallic pens (gold, silver and one copper-colored).  I was looking for pens that had permanent, waterproof ink with various line point sizes and a high metallic sheen.

WATERPROOF:  They all worked really well.  Only the Uniball Gel Impact pen and the Sharpie Copper Paint Marker had a small amount of ink bleed when painted over with several strokes of clear water, and largely unnoticeable if not on white paper.

COLOR COMPARISON: The gold Sharpie oil-based paint pen has an antique gold color versus it’s water-based version which is a bright gold.  The Sharpie silver markers were pretty similar in color with the oil-based marker colors a little more tarnished in color than the bright shiny silver of the water-based paint markers.

SHEEN:  The gold water-based paint markers had the highest sheen actually reflecting light back as a true metal would.  The silver paint markers all had a similar metallic sheen.  The Permanent markers had the least sheen with no reflection.

FEEL:  I loved the smooth feel of the paint flowing from the pen tips.  Though as the pens run low on ink, application coverage can become spotty and uneven.

POINT SIZE:  The pen line-width designations (fine, extra fine, 1.2mm, 1.0mm) weren’t all that accurate with “fine” widths varying widely between markers.

All in all, they worked well.  As the permanent markers had the least sheen, I would substitute paint markers pens for them instead.  Use fixative with the Uniball Gel and the Sharpie Copper markers if you plan to paint over your marks.  You can use the oil-based pens with your oil paintings and the water-based pens with your acrylic paintings.


The Gold Rush of 2014


I am fond of adding metallic gold to my work but I’ve had a hard time finding a material that is both shiny and easy to use.  Gold leaf is beautiful but expensive and messy to work with.  This is my quest to find a paint product that mimics the gold leaf look.  Below is my labeled swatch chart showcasing seventeen different metallic paint/ink products that I tested.

Metallic Gold Paint Chart

GOLD PAINT:  For this test, I applied two coats of each product.  You can see each gold swatch has a distinctive gold color.  My favorites are both of the Golden Acrylics, the Daley Rowney liquid acrylic, the Versatex screen printing ink, the Martha Stewart and Folk Art craft acrylic.  These paints are easy to apply and impart a lovely sheen.  I dislike the Blick acrylics which have a strange plastic quality that makes it difficult to get a smooth, even application.

For a silver paint, the Utrecht silver acrylic (I’m sure Golden has a good one too) is the clear choice.  The Blick version is too gray and not reflective.

For textured gold, Martha Living has a nice Glitter finish.  The Metallic finish is less impressive, as the particles in the heavy gold paint seemed to dull the sheen.  Golden’s mica flake acrylic paint is a unique product with the flakes suspended in a gel medium that dries clear.  It comes in two size flakes, small (seen here) and large.

If you are looking for an oil base paint, Rust-oleum’s Metallic Gold Paint covers well with just one coat but has strong fumes and used only when wearing a respirator.

I’d love to hear any other products people have used that they recommend.  Thanks.

My Consumers Report…FrogTape® vs. Painter’s Tape

My Consumers Report…FrogTape® vs. Painter’s Tape

I’ve been looking for a method to create crisp, sharp edges on canvas.  I’ve used standard blue Painter’s Tape in the past, but with poor results and lots of under tape paint bleed.  Along comes a new product…FrogTape®.  FrogTape® is advertised as the only painter’s tape treated with PaintBlock® Technology. PaintBlock is a super-absorbent polymer which reacts with latex paint and instantly gels to form a micro-barrier that seals the edges of the tape, preventing paint bleed. I decided to conduct my experiment on gessoed cotton canvas.  Here are my results:


On the top line, I painted directly over the two different tapes with (1) undiluted Golden’s acrylic tube paint and (2) the same paint heavily watered down.  While the FrogTape® was better at preventing bleeding, neither did a good job.

Don’t despair!  I discovered a better method to prevent paint bleed.  The trick is to paint one coat of gel medium (I used gloss gel as it dries totally translucent) over the tape edges, let dry, then paint as usual. Both the FrogTape and the painter’s tape work well with this method (though the painter’s tape had some gel bleed that could add an unwanted ridge at the tape line.)

Have you conducted any artists material experiments that you would like to share?  I would love to hear about them.

More Abstraction


I’m continuing to explore making abstract art through my class at the Academy of Art University.  This assignment was to make an abstract painting using the interior of your home.  I choose to paint the corner of my living room with some beautiful glass vases.  I labeled the painting Glass Skyscapers as it reminds me of the New York City skyline.  I have not used oils in a while and I love the creamy feel of the paint and the ease of blending the colors.


Glass Skyscapers, Oil on Canvas, 20″ x 16″