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Studio Snapshot – Paste Paper Boxes

My neighborhood is sponsoring a Holiday Arts, Crafts & Collectibles Sale the Saturday before Thanksgiving. The profits from this sale will be donated to our Community Art Fund for art for our community.

Three of the boxes I'm donating to our Holiday Arts, Crafts & Collectibles Sale.

Three of the boxes I’m donating to our Holiday Arts, Crafts & Collectibles Sale.

One of my contributions to this sale are these boxes that I have been making this past week. These were originally flat white boxes that were leftovers and donated by two different people. I took the flat white boxes and applied colored paste that I use to make my paste papers. You can see the wonderful results once they are folded into boxes.

Three more of the boxes I'm donating to our Holiday Arts, Crafts & Collectibles Sale.

Three more of the boxes I’m donating to our Holiday Arts, Crafts & Collectibles Sale.

You cannot purchase these boxes. You will only be able to get them if you spend a certain amount of money at our Holiday Sale.

This is how the boxes started out, flat. You can see the four colors of paste I'm using for this box.

This is how the boxes started out, flat. You can see the four colors of paste I’m using for this box.

I love being able to use boxes that were destined to be put in the recycle bin and make them into something to be treasured. Hopefully they will be used many times to exchange gifts.

The box on the lower left was the box from the photo above this one.

The box on the lower left is the same box from the photo above this one. It’s so much better looking once it’s colored.

I made a lot of these paste paper boxes this past week in my studio. Actually, for this month, my studio is my garage. I do tend get messy throwing colored paint around, so my garage is the perfect space for making paste papers.

I have added gold pigment to most of my paste paper boxes. I love how it jumps out on these purple boxes.

I have added gold pigment to most of my paste paper boxes. I love how it jumps out on these purple boxes

I will be sharing other items I’m making for the Holiday Arts, Crafts & Collectibles Sale in future blog posts.

Three more of the boxes I'm donating to our Holiday Arts, Crafts & Collectibles Sale.

Three more of the boxes I’m donating to our Holiday Arts, Crafts & Collectibles Sale.

Enjoy, Candy


Sketching in the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument

Sketch from "Hike & Learn" Field Sketching Class

Graphite on drawing paper
Done in Sarah F. Burns “Hike & Learn” class with the Friends of Cascade/Siskiyou National Monument
Just off the Pacific Crest Trail, south of Hobart Bluff Trail Head, in the Soda Mountain Wilderness

Greetings!  Yesterday I took part in a fun sketching class.  Sponsored by the “Friends of Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument”, the class was part of their “Hike and Learn” program.  The instructor was artist Sarah F. Burns.  You may have noted from previous posts, I’m taking classical drawing from Sarah.

I find landscape drawing challenging.  Sarah gave a demonstration on how to create a drawing, focusing on lights, darks and shapes.  She talked about how one organizes based on big shapes and aerial perspective.  She makes it look easy.

When faced with my own blank paper, I set about the business of sketching in the manner Sarah presented.  At the end of the session, we discussed my efforts.  I learned about drawing what I see and how it might differ from drawing symbols of what I see.  I had not noticed this tendency of mine.

The Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument is not far from the Rogue Valley where I live.  It was a good experience.  I’m excited to go out again.

PS.  The “Friends of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument” have other Hike & Learn sessions.  I think they are a wonderful way to get to know this special place in southwest Oregon.


The post Sketching in the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument appeared first on Margaret Stermer-Cox.

Museum Goer

Perusing Rick Bartow’s recent retrospective exhibit in The Schnitzer Museum of Art at The University of Oregon.

Horse in Field

I found this horse along route 238 in Oregon’s Applegate Valley.

Results Of Black Paper Fade Test

About 2 years ago I decided to do a fade test of some black papers I had. I cut strips of 6 black papers I had, taped them on a white paper, labeled the papers, then cut the page in half. I put one sheet in a south facing window and the other in an envelope in closed drawer.

The papers on the left were left in the sun. They were originally all the color on their right.

The papers on the left were left in the sun. The papers on both the left and right were originally one paper that I cut in half.

There is quite a difference in some of the colors. There were a couple of surprises. I hadn’t expected the mulberry black to fade, and it really did. I was pretty sure the  Arches black wouldn’t fade and I was right. I had been told that Canson black faded, but it sure doesn’t look to me like it did. This is great news! I have lots of my “unknown” paper and now I know it doesn’t fade. I was pretty sure the Wausau and Astrobright papers would fade, but was amazed at how much they did fade. Also, notice that the white paper yellowed a bit from being in the sun.

I cut 6 different black strips of paper (1" x 6") and taped them to a piece of paper. I cut the paper in half. The left half will sit in a south window while the right half will be put in an envelope in a dark drawer.

This is how both papers looked 2 years ago.

Now it’s time to do another couple of tests. I want to do a test of some colored papers. And I think a test of some inks would be a good idea. I have done tests of inks in the past, but many of my favorite ones are no longer made.

I welcome input from those who have done their own fade tests.

Happy creating, Candy

Hike and Learn

The Friends of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument hold a monthly event called a Hike and Learn, where the invite someone to enhance participants’ experience of the monument with their expertise. They have invited me to lead a Hike and Learn on the subject of Landscape Sketching!  The monument is pretty neat because it has some of the greatest bio-diversity in a concentrated area in the United States.  I’m a big fan of using my art as a tool for documentation, so I’m looking forward to documenting this significant location this week and weekend.

The Hike and Learn is open to all, and is free to attend.  On Friday evening I will give a slide talk that goes over the basics of sketching the landscape.  Then Saturday morning, we will all meet up and head to Hobart Bluff to hike a little and sketch out in the wild.  We’ll meet back around lunch time and share our successes and struggles.

And the local paper – Ashland Daily Tidings has done an article on the event — check it out here.

bpennell sarahfburns

Photo by Bob Pennell for the Ashland Daily Tidings  – That’s me with the crazy grin, pretending to be on my way to do some landscape painting.

Details and Further Info:

Hike and Learn — FREE
Limited space, please sign up as space is limited by sending email to: [email protected].  Email title: Hike & Learn SKETCH  Email body: Your name, email, address, phone

Friday, August 21, 6:00-7:00 pm
Slide Talk at the Ashland Public Library

Saturday, August 22
Hike – Meet at the Shop-N-Kart Ashland Parking Lot at 9:00 am to caravan up to Hobart Bluff
Hike and Sketch from 9:30 – Noon

Filed under: Classes, Drawing, Landscape, Uncategorized Tagged: 2015, Ashland Daily Tidings, drawing, Hike and Learn, Inspiration, landscape, life, oregon, plein air, rogue valley, Sarah burns, sarah f burns, southern oregon

Studio Snapshot – Back Making More Paste Papers

My burn is healing and I’m back making my paste papers. It looks as though I’ll be making my paste papers well into September.  I want to have enough paste papers to last me until next summer.

I have cut purple paste papers into 2" by 4" rectangles and am folding them into units that will eventually become one of my Earth Spirit Vessels.

I have cut purple paste papers into 2″ by 4″ rectangles and am folding them into units that will eventually become one of my Earth Spirit Vessels.

What’s new this year is that I need to make a lot more paste papers to incorporate into my Earth Spirit Vessels. The vessels I made last year were quite popular, so I will be making more this year.

I love the various colors of purple and gold that will eventually find their way into an Earth Spirit Vessel.

I love the various colors of purple and gold that will eventually find their way into an Earth Spirit Vessel.

This is what has been happening in my studio this past week. With my burn, I’ve been cutting and folding more than making paste papers. But, I’ve now healed enough to start making more paste papers again.

Enjoy, Candy

Weekly Autumn Writing Group

Autumn Writing Group

Weekly Autumn Writing Group Forming Now!

It’s the season of new notebooks, sharpened pencils and fresh starts. What better time to begin a writing group? A six-week workshop is forming for Thursdays, October 8 – November 12 at the Medford Library. (One week we will meet on Wednesday, Oct. 21).  Come join us for inspiring prompts, new exercises and a supportive, encouraging environment for every writer.  All writers and all genres welcome.

The cost is $125. If cost is a barrier, student rates and scholarships are available. Please contact me at [email protected] to apply.

Register at  

Reflections–The Mirror of Being

At sunset on the feast of Clare of Assisi (August 11) I sat in my chair in the living room and watched as this image appeared on the wall in front of me. The picture I painted years ago of the swirl of energy in the universe and in the human body-soul has lately come to resemble a Madonna and Child. It’s what I see that for years I didn’t see. In the reflection of sunset over her is the shadow of the ancient oak that graces our back yard, which to the Celtic people is the world tree, the core, the center of the universe and of Being-Itself. It holds us grounded. Around it we dance the dance of life.

I think, then, of a woman I saw on a street bench in Port Townsend last week. Her eyes stared into nothingness. Her face resembled browned parchment. She caressed that face over and over, her gnarled hand passing tenderly down from her hairline, curling around her chin, back up over her ear, through her hair to the top of her head and down again to her face in a kind of gentle infinity motion. Her presence stopped me in my tracks. What did I see in her?

We see what is in us to see. Clare wrote of gazing into the Mirror of Christ and discovering there her true self. I tried this and all I saw was the face of Christ. I felt disappointed; I expected to find my true self. Then one day that experience turned around completely topsy-turvy, completely inside-out. Had I ever seen myself except in a mirror? No. There’s the physical mirror in the bathroom, of course, and it reflects my physical face, but there is also the mirror of another person’s eyes. More than that, there is the mirror of the other person as an individual. More than that there is the mirror of the world, of the oak tree, of the bird and the river and the mountain and all the multitudinous things that fill the universe. I can see my Self only by reflection.

Several spiritual traditions have the saying: “I Am That.” Back in the 1990’s I was giving a talk to a large group of women and found myself saying, “I Am You,” after which one woman stood right up from her chair and called out with an absolute kind of certainty, “You are NOT me!” (And now I admit to thinking, Thank God!) But now I also think that both of us were right.

We are the One and we are each the Many. It’s a both/and. In the mirror of the Universe, of the tree, rock and cloud, and of a near infinity of others each of us can see that she is the Many, and in the mirror of Christ the Divine each disappears into the One.

This is earth. There’s no escaping incarnation. There’s no escaping time and space. But time is only time for a moment (as the poet, Eliot, says). We go in and out of time. Space, also, is ever and only space. Sometimes, looking into the mirror of anything–that photograph, for example–a single individual passes through into a wonderland of Oneness, an Infinite Wholeness that might be Christ as it was to Clare, or might be Krishna, or even (and I’m not being facetious) it might be a bag lady tracing infinity on her face as she sits at a street corner in my former hometown. And in that moment in and out of time I see! As another poet (Hopkins) cries out:

In a flash, at a trumpet crash 

I am all at once what Christ is,  ‘since he was what I am, and
This Jack, joke, poor potsherd, ‘patch, matchwood, immortal diamond,

Is immortal diamond” 

Embracing Gray

I’m evolving.  I’m embracing gray.

Once Upon A Time…

About 12 years ago I was called a “colorist”; I took it as a compliment.  I still do.

I had several paintings hanging in a gallery and it was Art Walk night.  A gentleman came by and we were chatting.  He observed that I was a “colorist”.  And, indeed, my paintings were colorful.

A Little Art History

To explain, a “colorist” is an artist whose focus is color instead of something else like gray tone.  Painters like Matisse and Bonnard created colorist works.

A “tonalist”, on the other hand, is an artist whose focus is on the tones: lights, darks and various shades of gray.  Whistler is an example of a tonalist painter.

Colorful Beginnings

I have been studying color as long as I can remember.  I bet you have too.  Remember crayons?  Did you ever layer reds and greens to make black?  Or, consider color choices when getting dressed in the morning?  Or, decorating?

My father taught my siblings and I the primary, secondary and tertiary colors.  He told us about opposite colors and how to mix them to make grays and browns.  Still, it was colors like red, blue, yellow, pink, rather than gray that caught my attention.

Red Hen And Eggs, color as symbol ©M Stermer-Cox

When I started my development as a painter, my approach was as a colorist.  In a colorist manner, I tended to use color opposites next to each other to achieve color harmony.  This works as long as both colors are used at the same strength.

My watercolor painting “Red Hen and Eggs” is an example of a colorist approach.  I used green and red as my color scheme.

Over time, I have accumulated more knowledge about the properties of color.  Slowly, I’ve added mixed dark colors to my paintings.  Still, I would characterize my approach as a colorist; colors are the focus.

Gray Evolution

As I said, I’m evolving.  I’ve been studying the classical academic approach to drawing and painting under the instruction of artist Sarah Burns.  The process is drawing, gray scale painting, then color.

Naturally, when I come home from class, I have to practice and experiment!

Embracing Gray:  Coffee Cup w/ Swedish Candle

Acrylic over Watercolor
d’Arches 300lb RP Watercolor Paper

I’ve been working on this small acrylic still life painting.    I decided to try to incorporate lessons I’ve learned from Sarah’s class.  I purposely used grays in my set up and my painting.  I liked the way the gray helps the red in the candlestick glow.

Bottomline.  I’m happy I’m embracing the gray side.  Its like having more tools in the tool box!




The post Embracing Gray appeared first on Margaret Stermer-Cox.