Sunday, May 24, 2009


This is old news now but it still hurts my heart. Adam Lambert was robbed of the finalist crown on American Idol this week. I have casually watched this program over the years HOWEVER this season this man's incredible talent inspired me and my art. He kept me transfixed. And I found myself thinking about him when I was painting.

Oh.. to have that much talent, confidence and charisma. To make it look so effortless and hit the right note every time. Easy to overlook that this guy has been perfecting his art for a very long time for one still so young.

I have never rewound a portion of AI to see a performer do his TV song again, I have never called in to 'multiple vote',  phone at the ready, I have never purchased a performer's AI songs from Itunes. I have never danced around the living room wildly.

I DID all four with Mr. Glambert. Giddy fool of a fan that I am for him.

I admit I have developed a big crush for the retro Elvis 'black-ink hair' looks, obvious intelligence and sparkly eye-linered charm, a crush which has not diminished despite his obvious preference NOT  for middle-aged women, or maybe women at all. Who cares? 

Shock-rock Lambert's rediculous loss to puppy-dog clean-cut crooner Kris Allen (also talented but not in such an obvious megawatt "IT" factor way) relates I feel to the art world in general.

I share with you, my blog art friends, the things I have learned from Adam Lambert through our long distance relationship, judged albeit from my couch potato stance while he swishayed superbly across my TV screen.  And I do thank you Glambert for the inspiration. Rock on and get that DVD out fast for me to paint to.

.Just because you SHOULD win, doesn't mean you will. 

.Being the best or the most talented doesn't always guarantee you first place. Politics, discrimination and pettiness against others often do.

.Practice your craft, your scales, to be the absolute best you can be. Years spent painting, years spent singing, years spent snorkling, will make you proficient no matter what. Maybe not a star, but proficient. And who wants to be a star at snorkling anyway?

. Learn to talk intelligently about you craft. Be informed. Be prepared. Be rehearsed. Be giving.

. Learn to be non-defensive and down-right clever and witty about your position especially when asked tough questions (about your sexuality?) you would rather not answer. 

.Learn to flash a beautiful smile.

.Learn a side skill to add to your main one. Lambert could sing AND dance!

. Give credit to - and love your family.

. Learn to put eyeliner on really well.  Save the sparkles for special nights.

.When you find a good hairstylist, keep them for years and give them credit on TV.

.Develop your style and flaunt it. Be bold. Be original. Who cares what people think? (hmm..unless you are trying to win AI. We know those  red and blue states do care. Arkansas called in 30 percent of the votes!)

.Always be a gracious looser no matter what. Don't talk behind people's backs. Word always gets back.

.Always remember pictures (and most certainly paintings)  can come back to haunt you.

. Always remember your reputation proceeds you when those old pictures appear. I was told by a mutual friend who had worked with Adam pre-fame that he really is as genuine and nice as he appeared on TV.

.Class acts always win no matter what. No need for a title or trophy.

Lastly, I am constantly surprised by who reads this blog. If you are out there Mr. Lambert, or one of his pals reads this, give me a call. There is much we have to discuss including my need to paint you ASAP. And I may need a few tips on eyeliner.

Leftbrain/Rightbrain slugfest!

Many thanks to the Santa Clarita Artists' Association (( for such a warm welcome this week at a portrait demo I did for the group in Valencia. There was much stimulating discussion with the artists in the room and it reminded me why I like to get out there and paint in front of people.  In demo's you are flying by the seat of your pants. 

Who wants to paint pearls and a cameo pin in five
 minutes in front of a crowd? Not me. But sometimes that is what it comes down to as it did on this night. You simply run out of time. This demo was about one hour and fifteen minutes of actual painting time. Painting and talking about what you are doing to a crowd is a left-brain, right-brain slugfest. Sometimes you don't even know what you are saying. My husband who was present at the demo told me I repeated "That is a good question" too often. I had no idea I was doing this. And there is always that 50-50 per cent chance of a success or disaster in the immortal words of the great Helen Van Wyck, sadly no longer with us, but a brilliant painter and teacher. Let's be honest, a dud demo is as entertaining to watch as a good one!

AS I said to the assembled room, I have always been a visual learner so watching artists paint has always been the best way for me to learn. You are watching a kind of stunt though. You do not get to see the quiet finish that  the artist does in his studio after weeks of painting on a project but if you can pick up that one little trick or two that makes a big difference to your painting the next day, the stunt was worth it.

All-in-all, I like flying by the seat of my pants/paints.

Pictured in group shot: L to R: SCAA member and demo co-ordinator Olga Kaczmar, Johanna Spinks, SCAA President Laurie Morgan and model/artist Teresa Hoffman. Next pic: winner of Spinks' auction painting, Helen Sarah Teller

Friday, May 15, 2009

Speed Painting?

 Who knew I could paint this fast? Not me. Don't worry. I haven't lost my marbles...edited version, thanks to lovely Russell W., of my recent demo for the San Fernando Valley Art Club.

  Longer 10 minute  version is posted on YOU TUBE.

Watch me also do my thing this Monday coming for The Santa Clarita Artists Association, in Valencia CA., my work highlighted in the current issue of The Magazine of Santa Clarita.
7pm to 9.30pm
Westfield Valencia Town Center Community Room
24201 Valencia Blvd.
Valencia, Ca.

Non members welcome for small fee to art club.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Nightly Doodles With Adam Lambert!

Here are a few of my nightly doodles...I like to pic up a plain ol'blue BIC pen and copy some draughtsmen I really like, as noted in my last post. 
 It makes watching Adam Lambert on America Idol even more exciting!  What a hottie. Boy, I wanna paint him. My blue Bic pen would work perfectly on his blue/black hair.

And I don't feel like I am wasting time watching TV indulging myself in Adam fantasies.

I remember once Glenn Vilppu saying in a class you could teach yourself to draw if you practised hard enough. This stuck with me.

I was also lucky enough to watch Glen Orbik's class ( going on at The California Art Institute where we both taught. Him, WAY longer than me. I will NEVER draw as good as this guy. My exceptional artist friend, and generous colleague, Tony Pro,,also a teacher at CAI  for many years advised me to do this. 

So I would pop into Orbik's class tired at the END of my double teaching class feeling 'cream -crackered, London cockney slang for 'knackered') just to watch this guy draw for a while.  But one of the things I KEPT hearing him say, was to pick a draughtsman you liked, or style of drawing, and copy it again and again to learn, and then some. I also saw a lot of paying students return to that class each week telling the teacher Orbik when he asked, that they had NOT been practising that week. Then they got frustrated at their progress. They also didn't watch Glen much which baffled me.  He was more patient than me as a teacher, that I can tell you.

Which brings me back to Adam Lambert. He is the best singer AI has ever seen (don't care if he is gay or not!) and he has been practising his craft since the age of 10 years old - hard. I have watched ever single interview he has done and his passion and hard work shine through.

HMMM...could talent all be in the repetition? Or is it sheer genius?

PS. If anyone out there in Blogsphere knows Adam Glambert, tell him I want to paint him will you?? I believe in the power of the universe. Get busy.

Portrait Drawing 101

I have several drawing heros who I refer to often including Charles Dana Gibson, (see above), Howard Chandler Christy,  George Bridgeman, Andrew Loomis, and present day masters Glenn Vilppu and Everett Raymond Kinstler. 

Which brings me to this...courtesy of

Best Tip for How to Draw the Head and Face

  • Everything follows three dimensional form. By drawing the shadows correctly you can get a likeness.

Planes of the Head: 3-D How To's of Drawing Heads and Faces

  • Face a mirror.
  • The browbone protrudes forward, toward you. Think caveman.
  • Cheekbones and eyes are further away, behind you.
  • Area under browbone is in shadow in most lighting situations. This one shadow can be sufficient to get a likeness.
  • Tip of the nose is forward most. That's a steep angle where the bottom of the nose turns back behind you. Makes sense that the bottom of the nose is typically in shadow.
  • Another steep angle back is found on the upper lip. The upper lip edge sticks forward since the upper row of teeth cover the lower. So, the upper lip is often in shadow, and very little needs to drawn for the lower lip.
  • Turn to the side in front of a mirror.
  • The cheekbone is toward the ear and down when compared with the bridge of the nose. The sides of the nose form a distinct plane on the face, one that you will often need to describe using the darker or lighter end of the tone scale of your drawing, depending on the lighting.
  • Much of the face and side of the head is parallel to the mirror -- where, chances are, there won't be a highlight. Andrew Loomis described this as shaving the sides off a sphere, and it makes sense. See Drawing: the Head by Andrew Loomis.

Lining Up the Features: Two-Dimensional How To's of Drawing Heads and Faces

  • Eyes are in the middle of the head. Not the face; the head, as measured from the crown to the tip of the chin.
  • The head is three and a half units tall. The half a unit is from the hair line to the top of the head, plus a little extra for hair.
  • The face itself can be divided into three parts tall.
  • Hairline to brow is one unit.
  • Brow to base of the nose is another. Avoid making the nose too long; think about how small the nasal opening on the skull is.
  • Nose to chin is the bottom third.
  • Lips meet a third of the way down from the nose.
  • There is a visible eyeball's width between the eyes, and that same width extending from the visible eyeball's outside edge to the ears.
  • Corners of mouth extend at least a bit beyond the inside corner of the eye; more so in a smile.
  • Take a pencil, measure in the mirror, and you will see that the outside of your nose pretty much lines up with the inside corner of the eye.
  • Lining up the angle from the bottom of the nose, outside of the eye, and to the end of the brow is helpful, in the mirror, or on your model.
  • Bottom of ear is likely going to be below the nose if the head is even slightly tilted up.
  • From the side, upper lip, tip of chin, and brow typically line up; chin may protrude a bit with a strong jaw; lips too.
  • Drawing a line or arc down the center of the facefrom the browbone to the chin, in profile or otherwise, establishes the tilt of the head. 

LoomisBooks is a great resource for Loomis fans and I thank them for allowing me to reprint this.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


 Happy Ma's Day to all the mommies out there. 

Thursday, May 7, 2009


My class demo... Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art.. May 6th...18x24...

If I was a guy, I would want to look like Jack Atlantis. This was our model this week and he wowed the room. Everyone loved painting him and everyone did great work.

I had brought in a huge book of Franz Hals portraits and Jack fit right into my 'catch a character if you can' lecture.  Boy, Hals did it so well.  Humbling stuff. Those faces were painted centuries ago but they still look very much alive.  NO cameras there. Life painting all the way.

Jack has one of those handsome chameleon faces that can change into a myriad of looks, ALL good,  going from charming 'pretty boy' street cool to hard-edge attitude rocker or haughty Victorian Ringmaster running a circus or country fair.

And of course, you just knew Jack had a lot going on outside of the art school room. He is a very talented musician, with an incredible voice, and a fashion designer, making a lot of the costumes he models in. Great to have the energy of this creative talent in the room. We all fed off it. 

He reminds me why I LOVE being a portrait painter. I might be strictly a 'one-trick' pony in the talent department (and some would argue even that)  but I get to meet and paint the MOST interesting people. Last week I was in The South doing a sitting with a very special doctor who I felt much the same way about although their worlds are far apart.

This gentleman had helped raised millions for a cancer hospice and  was just one of those special people who you feel privileged to meet and spend time with. You feel enriched for knowing them. They teach you. 

I just don't get this feeling when I paint landscapes as hard as I try. Trees, ocean mist and misty horizons don't move me at all but people and their life stories surely do in a way that is profound.

Shhhh...don't tell anyone I said that about landscapes...

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Walking in Molasses.

As long as I paint, I still can't quite work out why sometimes I can paint REALLY fast, and sometimes I paint really slow. Like walking in molasses.

This was my class demo this week. I was pretty happy with it. Even the model said that I was an incredibly fast painter. And she should know. She has worked for everyone. I was able to keep this demo loose, keep the darks transparent, always a good sign, leave my cool ground showing in places, and basically not screw it up by over noodling. I knew I had put something down that was good and was able to leave it alone. 

In my studio I am currently working on a commission, 30 x 40, for an out of state client which is coming along very well but is taking me forever and a day.  The light is complicated and I chose the harder portrait to do, to challenge myself,  and hopefully deliver a great painting.

One of the other artists in the my in-residence program asked me yesterday:"Are you having trouble with that portrait?". I didn't quite know what to say except "No, I am just taking my time getting it right!" A strangely  insensitive question to ask another artist if you ask me.

I think sometimes people just assume us portrait artists whip these things out. Easy, peasy, lemon, squeezy. One, two, three, collect the check.  Onto the next. NOT.

I think sometimes people look down their noses at portrait artists. An art friend told me in her Santa Monica adult art school course, she was told portrait artists were craftsmen, rather than real artists. A bit like  a washing machine repairman.  But hey, there is art going on here...and one just can't rush the process. Vermeer was slow too, not that I am comparing myself to him but I think of this fact often. It takes the time it takes.

This study is 18 x 24. Available for purchase.