Friday, November 15, 2013

Tacoma Nocturne

Acrylic on Clayboard  12 X 12 inches

I like Tacoma, especially the areas of Old Town that are being steadily reclaimed from destructive industrial practices. My husband and I had spent a day at the museums in town, and ended staying the night in a hotel in Old Town. This was the view from our hotel window.

Little Iron Bird

Acrylic  12 X 24 inches.

I have missed the pleasure of painting in oils, but my studio space is rather small and too close to our living area to have linseed oil and other odors floating about, so I put together this image with acrylic. There are mediums for acrylic paint which will keep it fluid for some time, so I didn't feel too cheated. 

Once the image was coated with gloss medium and gloss varnish, I felt I had captured that oil paint look.

Again, the image is one that asks the question, 'Why do we miss Nature so much, yet consistently turn our backs on it?' Yes, our icons are lovely, or frightening, or humorous; but in essence, they only hint at the marvels of the real thing. If you look closely at the bird, it is really upset! Funny, because it is made to go on a table or in a garden where the shape of it makes it look adorable. But if you put it above you, the face becomes testy. My way of saying that we ignore the destruction of our home at our peril.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Working Studios Art Tour

Sadly, I can't upload the brochure for the Working Studios Tour this week-end. But those of you who enjoy visiting working studios to buy art and see the process, will enjoy this! A few of us who have studios too small to visit will be gathered on the lawn of the  

Mesolini Glass Studio and garden, 13291 Madison Ave. NE, Bainbridge Island, Washington.

If you visit, or go to their Facebook page, mesolini glass, you can see the location, get directions, and learn more about the move back to working studios on Bainbridge Island.

Dates for the Working Studios Tour: Friday through Sunday, August 9 - 11,
10 am - 6 pm.

There will be music too!

Small Paintings

Calla Lily  8 x 10

Paint Brushes  8 x 10

Cherries and Blueberries  8 x 10

A Lime and a Teaspoon  8 X 10

I'm enjoying the challenge of painting small pieces with three or fewer objects. It's a challenge for someone who prefers to paint large. But I think you get a chance to focus on what about the objects is most worthy of representing, when you keep it small and simple. While I will most definitely keep on painting larger, this week of work has felt good, and has been instructive.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013



Peonies pay back a painter with their overwhelming fragrance. I was dizzy with the perfume. In composing this work, I enjoyed juxtaposing the smooth, gray stones with the lush pink flowers. 

Cabbages on a Sideboard


A simple, airy image.

The Dance of Shiva


This still life was sitting on a box, where I had tossed some items I intended to get to eventually. When I really looked at what had happened, the set up was already done! I had created a lovely shape without intending. That, and the gesture of the twigs and hanging beads, gave me the title.

Yellow Gladioli


Glads are fascinating, and represent for me one of the toughest flowers to capture. They bloom and die from the bottom of the stem to the top , so you can't help but get the whole life cycle if you stay with the work for a few days. I nearly lost my eyesight trying to capture enough detail in the yellow glow, to get a result that said 'flower'. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Full Moon Aboard

Collage on Watercolor. 18" X 24"

This is a basket-vase with greenery, and a full moon outside the portal window. I used decorative papers encased in acrylic medium for the wallpaper and lace under the vase. The vase, plants, and full moon view in the window are watercolor. I need a little more greenery at the foot of the vase, but that may not happen for awhile...

That's the technical description. Lately I have seen something in my work that shows where my thoughts have been for some time: We put all the beauty we can find room for in our personal surroundings, but it seems to me that we edge out the aspects of the natural world which we find thrilling, exhilarating, even, but which leaves us a touch uneasy. The wild part. The part we yearn for, but have mostly lost touch with. The part we are losing through neglect. So here is a vase under full interior light, obscuring an inky, foggy night under a close, full moon. Where do we go from here?

Monday, April 22, 2013

NWS Exhibit

Solomon's Robe.
Watercolor, approx. 24.25" X 18.75"

This piece will be in the National Watercolor Society's 2013 Member Exhibit. The opening is June 8 in San Pedro at the NWS headquarters, and will run till August 18. There were nearly 400 submissions, and will be in the neighborhood of 80 to 90 selected, so I'm very happy to be a part of it. If you are in San Pedro this summer, stop by and see some truly excellent watermedia art.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Announcing Spring Classes

I will be teaching two workshops this Spring, one in basic drawing, one in basic watercolor. These are week-end intensives, and are a lot of fun. The goal of each is to help you establish skills and habits which allow you to progress confidently on your own, and to shorten your learning curve in other classes where these skills are useful. Here's the skinny:

Winslow Art Center
Downtown Bainbridge Island, Washington State
Martha Jordan, Owner and Registrar

"Basic Drawing Intensive" 
Sat-Sun May 18 - 19, 9:00am - 5:00pm
materials list provided after registration

"Basic Watercolor Intensive"
Sat-Sun June 29 - 30, 9:00am - 5:00pm
materials list provided after registration

If you don't see my workshops at the website, above, call Martha at 
or e-mail me at

Try Martha first, though. She's the lady you pay.

Friday, March 22, 2013

A Flower Shop

Watercolor and Acrylic ink

 I love tulips' brilliant colors, and the surprise of the stunning interior design when they open. Here I have placed them in a bright central light, surrounded with darker masses and interwoven with intricate design details.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Day's End

archival ink & watercolor

This piece will be hung at the "Danger Boutique" in Bainbridge Island in April. I love to do this ink dropper method with liberal spritzing to create lovely moss and lichens on the branches. The Black-capped chickadee is a resident of the Pacific Northwest. Tree branches are in ink, and the bird and sky are painted with watercolor.

Ancient Spirit

Watercolor  12 X 25 1/2 inches

Daffodils seem primordial to me, ancient and venerable in their waxy structure, posing regally with their heads raised high in the air. They are often depicted as fragile, early Spring harbingers, but I think they are quite hardy, like Spring plants must be. The vase is an old, scarred one with shields and artful creatures on it, which seemed just the container for the bold yellow flowers.

Revised with Collage  Paper

After a couple of months I realized what to do at the base of the vase. It was too empty, not enough interest to offset the brilliance of the flowers. So I added a non-woven lace paper around the vase for a doily effect. Unfortunately, I had to frame this right away and didn't get a final image captured until after the glass was in the frame. But the improvement is still visible.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Moving in New Directions

Doing collage and working in mixed media has long fascinated me, so I decided to give collage a try in this ink and watercolor painting. Rather than wait till the end, I will add images as I progress. I work on more than one painting, so I may not post progress here daily. Finished, published work can be found at Here goes - !

After painting in the rooster and amaryllis with watercolor, I decided to add textured papers to the composition. The two "vases", one at the bottom of the painting and one in the upper left, will have to be trimmed, coated with acrylic gel medium, and eventually glued in place with matte medium. I really wanted to use the black and white pattern (lying on the rooster's body) for a vase shape too, but I had only a tiny piece. After much foot dragging, I sat down and recreated the pattern in ink, behind the rooster. 

At this point you can see the completed black and white vase shape, plus all the other papers I am considering using in the composition.  I am limiting my color selections to a palette of reds, greens, and a few neutrals in brown, gray, and black. This allows the flowers and rooster shape to pop. I still need the handful of textures in the muted tones to hold the composition together.

Here are the papers drying from their bath in soft gel gloss. Both sides have to be coated.

I decided to unite the objects with a pathway that the rooster is taking. It was made from a printout of the botanical history of the amaryllis. Then I coated the back with matte medium, adhered it to the watercolor paper, and coated the front with several coats of watercolor and a final two coats of soft gel matte.

The areas around the pathway are painted with acrylic inks. I started to put in a few flower shapes in the background ...

"Stalking the Wild Amaryllis"

watercolor, ink, paper collage

Which just grew and grew!

Saturday, December 15, 2012


Watercolor and Acrylic. 18 X 24 inches.

This is my promise

 to the little ones who help me keep my balance about what is important: from time to time I will paint one for them.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Creating Heals

I recently had a nice conversation with a woman who has been struggling with illness for a couple of years. She feels her creativity has been disrupted by her concentration on her therapies, plus taking care of her family and doing all those daily things we must do. But she was crying out for a quiet, pulled-together moment in her mind, so she could concentrate on making something instead of focusing on ending her illness.
As a painter/artist/creative, I know how tough it is to take oneself into the studio daily and allow the creative energy to flow through you, allow it out onto something that comes through your hands, your voice, your brush or keyboard. Or your kitchen or workshop, garden, sewing machine... Seeking to exercise your creative spirit, you unavoidably start to see the many ways that creative moments are available to you. How many places in your home, yard, surrounding neighborhood or workplace tickle your brain cells, touch your heart, call you to add one little unexpected flourish to the job? Have you slowed down long enough to let the possibilities in?

Spider crawling out of its old skin

Hunting for a creative moment in a busy, noisy world is like stalking a bird with your binocs; you slow down, keep your mind chatter low, relax your body, breathe and just observe. When the bird appears, you don't have to do anything more than continue to be available to the moment. So be the stalker of your creative inspiration and expressive opportunities. If you can't do 8 hours, go for 10 minutes. Calm your brain chatter and see what pops up. At the very least you'll feel better, which is where this blogpost started: creating by its very nature, heals.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Standard Frame and Mat Sizes

Below are notations that will help you decide what standard mats and frames to buy, based on the size of the image you want to frame. Posters, prints, giclees, and photos are generally printed in standard sizes (see mine at, to make framing easier and less costly. A mat is required to prevent the image from sticking to the glazing (glass or acrylic) in the frame; but it also adds to the overall appearance of the framed work.
Keep in mind that "standard" does not mean that all framers everywhere use all these sizes. Many frame shops will carry them, but some shops may choose to limit the number of standards they stock. But it may help to know about standards to compare costs with custom framing.
In the table below I have left a number of potential image sizes and mat sizes blank. The frame is a standard size, and so may the mat size be; but if you have a custom size image that fits inside a standard frame you may still save dollars by having the mat cut to fit both your image and the frame.
(An aside: If you have an image to frame, the traditional rule of thumb is to allow a similar number of inches of mat around the top and both sides of the image, but add an additional 1/4" drop on the bottom side to give proper "weight" to the overall image once framed. However, framing the image with a mat cut the same all around is frequently done and aesthetically pleasing. All the mat dimensions below are for same size cuts.)

Standard Frames inches Mat Openings Image Size
4 X 6 2.5 X 4.5 3 X 5
none 4 X 6
5 X 7 2.5 X 4.5 3 X 5
none 5 X 7
8 X 10 3.5 X 5.5 4 X 6
4.5 X 6.5 5 X 7
8.5 X 11
8.5 X 11
8 X 12 5.5 X 7.5 6 X 8
9 X 12 5.5 X 7.5 6 X 8
11 X 14 7.5 X 9.5 8 X 10
12 X 16 7.5 X 11.5 8 X 12
8 X 11.5 8.5 X 12
8.5 X 11.5 9 X 12
12 x18 10.5 X 13.5 11 X 14
14 X 18
12 X 24
16 X 20 10.5 X 13.5 11 X 14
11.5 X 15.5 12 X 16
18 X 24
20 X 24 15.5 X 19.5 16 X 20
20 X 30
22 X 28 17.5 X 23.5 18 X 24
24 X 36 20 X 30
30 X 40 22 X 32

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Pears in Brown Paper

Watercolor.   20 X 16 inches
The promise of ripe juicy pears.
This is my favorite way to use watercolor, loosely and slightly drippy so you don't have ultimate control over the results. The transparent nature of the medium add to the glow. Prints are available at

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Solomon's Robe

Watercolor. 18 X 24 inches.
My family is like many in their love of gardens. If you have a bit of ground, a plant goes in. Nowadays the plant is as likely to be a veggie, but there's always room to show a beautiful flower or two. This amazing iris grows in Knoxville, Tennessee, and was shared with me by my brother Dan.
Available at 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Which Inks?

digital image from my studio
If you decide to paint with colored inks, be sure to determine whether you care about archival quality. If you want the color intensity to last for many years, then go with lightfast inks. Traditional inks are transparent. Acrylic inks are slightly transparent, but can be made to cover over the color underneath. Each of these has different characteristics, so be sure to read about how they are made, and perhaps try a few of each to decide what you prefer. I always use archival quality materials, because I put a lot of work into my ... work! and I want it to stay colorfast for many years.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Green and Red Glads


These intricate stems never grow straight up. The flowers bloom from the bottom up, so you are tracing the ageing of these blossoms from bottom to top.
This painting is done directly, meaning there is little or no glazing, or layering of paint. Each color/value is laid down at the desired intensity. available at

A Final Bow

I love the colors and transparency of old, fragile petals. This tulip cought my eye because it seemed to be taking its last bow.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Bottles #2

I love glass for the way it refracts light, and for what happens to light and objects when water is added, as in the olive oil bottle. Stems get all lovely and distorted.

Some of you have asked how I get deep, nearly opaque passages in watercolor, such as at the top of the tallest vase. You don't always have to add water, or perhaps just enough to allow the paint to move.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

A Family Gathering

Rhododendrons are huge, lush, brilliantly  colored compound flowers on a shrub that can grow into a tree. Most of the flowers bloom within a week of each other, so while they are full, rocking back and forth in the wind, they appear to be having quite the conversation. Available at

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Exhibit April and May 2012

Paintings hung over the shampoo area
There will be an opening for my exhibit during "First Fridays", May 4, 6:00 - 8:00pm, at the Ericksen Avenue Salon, 176 Ericksen Ave. NE, Bainbridge Island, Washington 98110. The salon is closed on Sunday and Monday. Otherwise, you can see the work during regular business hours. Drop in at the opening, enjoy the company, the paintings, and have a glass of wine. Be sure to meet Jennifer Corbin, salon owner and artist. I look forward to seeing you there.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Rainy Tacoma Night

Digital Photograph
We stayed in Old Town in Tacoma one rainy March night. This pier and walkway led from our hotel out into the water. The sky had just shut down, going from intense blue to blue violet to indigo so fast that I almost missed this shot. How much mystery a light in the dark inspires!

Friday, April 6, 2012

White and Pink Tulips

Watercolor, watercolor pencil

I painted these tulips three times before I finally figured out to simply draw in the wrapping paper. Less is more. Available at