I spent the second half of May leading a workshop in Tuscany. 
There were 10 of us.
How lucky we feel, to be in this place with such fabulous traveling companions!
It was a wonderful experience.

There is art everywhere in Italy!
Here is a slideshow of beautiful art that was created during this time together.

We cooked and ate the most amazing food!
Laura prepared our first feast and others followed.
Here are just a few…

We took long, rejuvenating walks in the countryside.

 And enjoyed pleasant evenings under the tuscan sun!

We spent a day painting and seeing the sights in Portovenere.

Janet showed us how she makes  
accordion paintings (left) that show a different image viewed from different angles. 
And we looked through her detailed sketchbook studies (right).

We visited Mary Lee in Nocchi — here’s her bright and beautiful kitchen…
…and then went on to Pietrasanta to see the huge sculptural installations in the city center.
I could put my foot inside the nostril!

Marge Pucchi, an artist living above Lucca, came to visit and brought her work to show us.
And I showed her the portrait I’d been working on…
Laura led us in this group mosaic project…

…and made seafood on the half shell to go with it!
Parting shot — the group is ready to head out on our last day. 
I look forward to traveling with many of you again!
next year’s trip will be to France… 
Several participants in this workshop group have already travelled with me on two or three trips and are signing up for France next year! This is undoubtably the very best compliment they could possibly give. Here is what they are saying:
As always, the workshop was the epitome of professionalism. You three work beautifully as a team — all conscientious, but also full of the joy of art and travel. The instruction was detailed, precise, focused and beautifully connected to the location. The critiques were kind, useful and encouraging. The food, music and humor were an extra delight — icing on a rich cake. The balance between exploration and time to work was well planned.
Loved the house where we stayed. Of course the time to paint was wonderful — especially the whole days. An amazing, life changing experience. Everything is beautiful & delicious. You cannot help but improve as an artist. 
Hard to choose what I liked best — from wonderful accommodations & fellow artists to informative lessons and critiques — all were great. And did I mention the field trips? Loved the flexibility in how we were using time. An incredible, joyful learning experience in a magical environment.
I would absolutely recommend it. Educationally this was an amazing 2 weeks. Financially the best value ever. Enticement? If you want the chance to learn about painting and have the time to try it out, sign up!
I look forward to another workshop with Rene for a year. I couldn’t have enjoyed the demos more — inspiration to try a new technique. Thank you —
I am so filled up with the joy of our shared time together in Tuscany.  It was one of my most enjoyable experiences.  Your companionship, sparkling personalities, remarkable skill sets from your lives, love of art, courage to be yourself in luminous watercolor, will be a treasure for me to remember. 
Immerse yourself in the experience of creating, discussing, loving art outside of your regular routine. You will be uplifted, inspired and form lasting bonds with like minded artists.



I am preparing now to teach an Oregon workshop focused on portraits later this month in the Columbia Arts Center right in Hood River’s charming downtown. It takes only about an hour to get to Hood River from downtown Portland. MORE INFORMATION about the workshop

DATES: June 19-21     
COST: $285
HOURS: 9am – 4pm
Basic painting skills are helpful, but all levels are welcome

I believe there are still spaces available. You can REGISTER ONLINE
or contact COLUMBIA CENTER FOR THE ARTS to sign up directly


The first half of May I traveled in France to begin to formulate a workshop there for 2016. Laura Shea, Janet Parker, Mary Lee Damutz and I had an incredible time exploring the possibilities there. I will let you know the details when they’re set.

The second half of May I taught a workshop in Tuscany and I can’t wait to tell you more about it! Look for my next post, including work from this event.

Here is a portrait I started in a demo for the Portland group Buffalo Grass and finished in the Tuscany workshop, from a photo taken last year in Italy. This work is of an artist, Marj Pucchi, who taught art in the states and retired with her husband to his family home in the hills above Lucca. She is quite a charmer, both in personality and image!

ART ISN’T MAGIC, it’s Planning!

Often that time spent with the initial planning determines the success of your painting! While this workshop covers all aspects of portrait painting, an exceptional work is very much dependent on design. Learn how to set yourself up for success with your portraits.

STEP BY STEP, a new portrait

I began this as a demo in my 3-day workshop in Vancouver last April.

Here’s what the first pour looked like:

I’m liking how this begins! I’ve barely started laying in flesh tones when I take off with a pour.

Then with a brush I paint in the small red flowers using M.Graham’s Quinacridone Red — one of my favorite pigments (PR209). Daniel Smith calls it Quinacridone Coral. It’s confusing how different manufacturers use their own names for identical pigments! To know what you’re using you have to check the pigment numbers.

Notice the dark area — it overpowers the painting at this point but I know I’ll be adding other darks to balance it. And I’ve used my black mix which is quite liftable should I want to lighten it later on.

Below a detail of the pour:

To simulate moss, I’ve used a Daniel Smith paint Undersea Green which is essentially a mix of Ultramarine Blue and Quinacridone Gold (PB29 & PO49). Seeing two pigment numbers on a tube tells you it is a “convenience blend.”

D.Smith is a master of marketing and packaging, but the quality of their product is good. But I prefer the consistency of M.Graham. When I use DS paint I normally mix it up with water in a small squirt bottle because I don’t like that it dries out on my palette. If you don’t want to buy an extra tube of paint, just mix your own using M.Graham and you’ll find it pretty much works the same way. This mix works well with salt.

Here are two more details.
I’ve layered in darker areas of paint in the hair. Notice I’ve also done a bit of lifting.

I’ve added more detail to the hair, working in the appropriate values. And I still plan to integrate the edge between body and background. But my aim is to complete this without destroying all the freshness created by the paint pours!


My painting “Pondering” took the top prize in the Western Federation Watercolor Society show in Lubbock Texas!
It is an incredible honor and I am still walking on air!!!
The exhibition runs April 16 through July 15


This full sheet piece is all about the dramatic lighting and keeping it loose!

Winning a top art award is a little like playing the lottery. After looking at the other entries for Western Fed, I am humbled!  — You can see the other paintings entered HERE.

The show was juried by artist Linda Daly Baker.
And I am so pleased that among all those paintings, Linda chose to rank my painting first!
I had the pleasure of meeting Linda at the WSO convention last fall and she is one of the warmest, most generous jurors we have ever had. I could be biased because she gave me an award there, too. But I heard so many similar comments from others that I think not.

Check out her work  HERE — it’s phenominal!

The thing is, I knew my entry was a strong one and that it had a shot at glory. But I’ve been disappointed before. A lot! And another juror may have given the prize to someone else — maybe you!

Here is what I know… 

Like the lottery, you have to enter to win. My odds are better with art 🙂

This does cushion the blow of not getting a painting in the NWWS (Northwest Watercolor Society) show. And just so you know, I entered Western Fed several times before I even got a piece in. Ditto with WSO!

It totally pleases me that I can compete at this level! But no point in resting on my laurels… the immediate effect this has on me is it makes me want to paint. I want to top that one! And I know I will have to if I want to experience more of this.

If there is any one thing that helps me succeed in this arena it is that I love to learn!
I believe in my ability, but just being good is not enough. I am among incredible talent. So the only way to succeed is to keep pushing the envelope. It also helps to be relentless in my pursuit! Though I don’t paint every day, I work constantly — to the extent I have abandoned my closest friends — just ask them 🙁 they’ll agree!