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Cool Kitty – Watercolor in Blue

My husband and I used to have a cat that was way-too-cool…at least sometimes.   He’d look at you and not look at you.  He was a great cat.

Cool Kitty

251 Cool Kitty 11.5 x 15.5 Watercolor Watercolor on Arches 140lb Cold Press Paper KittyKitty
“Cool Kitty” is so named because of color and expression. This kitty is the silent, strong type. It pretends not to look at you directly; that would be bad manners. But it knows you’re there and it sees you. I painted him blue to emphasize the cool, in control expression.

After yesterday’s “Spice Kitty”, painted in warm colors, I thought I’d show you the opposite.  Blue is the ultimate in cool, thus the double meaning in the title “Cool Kitty”.

You might notice that my “KittyKitty” collection is an exploration in color as well as shape and design. I considered various blue pigments and their relative value or tone.  So while the painting is blue, it is as much an exercise in light and dark contrast as it is in color.  In addition, some blues are warmer – closer to green; and others are cooler, closer to pure blue or purple.

Did you notice something about the white?  If you look long enough, the blues create the illusion that the whites are warm.

Another consideration with color is how the color makes us feel.  Blue can be relaxing and calming.  Or, it can suggest coldness and winter.  In this case, I wanted to capture a feeling of “aloofness”, or being withdrawn.

There is so much to consider with color – even a painting done in simple blue!

My intention with this design was to go for the big shapes that suggest a cat while not looking like a cat in particular.

Hmmm, its a “looking but not looking” sort of thing.  Please enjoy!



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Spice Kitty

I’m starting to get ready for an art show this summer.  My intention is to feature some of my kitty and toy pony paintings.  I’m going through my inventory and selecting some for framing.  I thought I might select a few and start sharing them, regardless of whether they end up in the show.


What is particularly fun is looking at paintings I’ve put away and almost forgotten about.  I did so many different variations of “KittyKitty” that they almost blend into one.  As I re-look at them, I am delighted by the shapes and colors.  I keep thinking, hmmmm, I did this painting?  :)

No 264 Spice Kitty SCx

264 Spice Kitty 14×10 Watercolor and Fluid Acrylic Mixed Watermedia on Arches 140lb Cold Press KittyKitty
Please meet “Spice Kitty”, design 33 of my “KittyKitty” series. I have a real world kitty buddy I call “Spice”. We visit each other on my morning exercise route. She often comes out to greet me and ask for pets. Then she swats my hand. I can’t quite figure out this behavior. Spice is sweet, but there is some feline feistiness in her. I used the angles to depict her somewhat prickly demeanor.

“Spice Kitty” is one in the series of paintings in my “MsKitty” collection.


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Going Mobile

My webmaster and I are upgrading this blog to be more mobile-friendly.  The changes we are making will make the blog easier to load and see on mobile platforms.  

Naturally, having the blog load fast and easy on desktop and laptop computers is always desirable.  That capability remains.

Just for fun, I'm including one of my recent paintings, "Old School, New School".   It seems appropriate.  New school in this case is a mobile ready blog!

Old School, New School


By the way, "Old School, New School" earned an award at the recent Watercolor Society of Oregon's Spring Aqueous Exhibition.  For more about the award, please see my "News & Events" page.  


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Rabbit & Egg, Still Life Drawing

Which came first? :)

Just a fun play on the chicken & egg question.  

I've been working on my drawing stills.  I use still life set ups of my favorite odds and ends as subjects. I find it interesting and entertaining.  

Please enjoy! 

Rabbit & Egg, Still Life by Margaret Stermer-Cox


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Three Kitties, Six Faces (Cubism)

Say What?

Three Kitties, six faces?  How?  You guessed it, Cubism.

Cubist Influences

I would like to tell you a little about my Cubist-style cat paintings.  So, lets begin at the beginning.

Watercolor painting inspired by Cubism; its a double face cat!

I grew up looking at art books.  Cubism was one of my favorite styles.  I was intrigued by the different approach to perspective.  I wanted to know how they did it; what was it all about.

As you might imagine, I looked at the masters of Cubism to get an idea about how I might create a face.  Naturally, I looked to Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque first.  But, in one of my art books, I found some sculptures and drawings by Henri Laurens done during his Cubist phase.  Aha!  Cubism is sculptural!  Yes, I'd read it, but now I could see the link and could imagine 3D on a 2D surface.  "Regal Kitty" is inspired by Henri Laurens works; "Star Gazer" and "Merry MsMaggie" by Picasso.  (You might notice that I included a different version of "Merry MsMaggie" in the previous post).

Merry MsMaggie

The Idea

To over-simplify, one of the Cubist ideas was to show different sides of something, say a cube, as if all the sides were on the same plane.  Imagine a cardboard box before the sides are folded in, stapled or glued to make a box.  Conversely, imagine a cardboard box with all of the sides un-folded.  Its a flat object.

That is one of the ideas behind the double face seen in Cubist portraits, for example.  One is looking at a three dimensional object flattened as if it was two dimensional.

Cats Look And Don't Look

Hmm, I liked this idea and thought that a cat would make a perfect subject for a Cubist style face.  I love the way cats look at you but they don't.  They can accomplish this feat without moving a muscle.  To show this way of looking or being, I figured the double face would be perfect.  That means a half face is superimposed on a full face.  The viewer needs to be able to see both the half face and full face.  The ambiquity of which view dominates can be fun and mysterious.

What I'm showing you today is three variations on a cat showing how I resolved this problem of the double face.  I created the design for "Star Gazer" first, followed by "Merry MsMaggie" and "Regal Kitty" in order.  

Can You See It?

Can you see the two faces – looking sideway and looking forward?  In the first two designs, the sideway or profile view is to the right; the head-on view merges left and right.  The last design, "Regal Kitty" has the profile half to the left; the entire head makes the forward or head-on view.  I tried to use color and tone to differentiate the views.

I hope you enjoy my kitty paintings!  Thank you!

Cat, design influenced by Cubism


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MsMaggie – Kitty In Green

Green Painting Retrospective #Four

Time to throw in a green kitty.  I'm continuing on with my green in March painting retrospective.  

Ms Maggie on the Rug - Painting in Green

Background and Intentions

I painted "MsMaggie On a Rug" in 2008.  I purposely chose a green dominate color scheme, just to see what would happen.  My intention was to create a design used contrasting green and red without it feeling like a Christmas painting.

My Process

I took several photos of MsMaggie on a rug on the floor of my aunt's home.  The floor was tile and inspired the grid-like pattern.  As is my habit, I used the photo for inspiration, then created drawings from memory and imagination.  This painting is based on one of several drawings that I did over many months.  The paintings became part of my "MsKitty" collection.

One problem I worked on in this design was creating a Cubist-style kitty. The Cubist devise that I was interested in was the double face.  I wanted MsMaggie cat to be looking at you two ways: head on and in profile.  I like the mystery and ambiquity.  Plus, I think cats make the perfect Cubist subject.  Cats are masters at the "looking at you but not looking at you" ability.

If you look closely, you will notice that MsMaggie is looking two directions.

Once I have a design I like, I enlarge it then get to work painting. 

About MsMaggie

This watercolor painting is one of a series of paintings inspired by my Aunt Mary's cat Maggie, also know as "the Magster", "Maggiemagnificat", and other various nicknames.  Maggie was a sweet, beautiful kitty.  She wasn't particularly vocal.  She talked with her body language and her eyes.

I enjoyed creating this particular green painting.  I hope it brings you joy.  



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Green Three – View Across The Valley

Continuing on with the theme of green, this is a small watercolor painting I did in 2006.  The subject is a valley in Southern Oregon and is based on a drawing I did on location.  I liked the long view in front of the buildings across the valley.  And, typical of this area, I like the mountains in the distance.

Green:  View Across the Valley, M. Stermer-Cox

The special significance of this painting to me is the learning and personal growth.  At the time when I was working on this painting, I read somewhere that some of Hudson Valley School of Artists used to apply thin glazes to their paintings to achieve the special glow to their landscapes.  I'm not sure the source of my information.  

Regardless of the source, and inspired by the Hudson Valley School, I tried some thin glazes of green gold and VOILA!  I was so excited; I liked what the thin layers of gold did to the greens.  

Sometimes, a painting is a "keeper" as much for the learning as for the result.  I like this painting because of the subject, the education, and it makes me feel good.

 Please enjoy my third take on green.  See the previous two posts for more green!





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Young Forest – Green Two

About the Painting

Its about the greens in a young forest.

I painted this piece in 2005; its one of my favorites.  It was one of my early experiments with abstraction and mixed watermedia.  I used traditional watercolor paint and acrylic.

Young Forest, Mixed Watermedia

I had a general idea of where I wanted to go, but let intuition guide the way.  I played with texture, using wax paper to create impressions.  I stamped, stenciled and got my hands dirty.  FUN!


I called this abstract "Young Forest" because of the feeling of activity and movement in the painting.  Young things tend to be active and moving constantly.  In my head young and active work together!


Olympic Peninsula – Inspiration


I painted this during a time when I lived on the Olympic Peninsula of Northwest Washington State.  Alders are a common tree when the forests are young.  The trees are long, thin and with whitish bark.  In this painting, I wanted the feel of the Northwest forest so I added a tree shape in white, linked to a wavy water shape.  Alder trees, water, movement equals young forest in the Olympics to me!


The Challenge


This is second in a sequence of five paintings where green is the dominant color.  Thank you friend Ethel Forsberg (Visby, Sweden) for challenging me to post five paintings.




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Its All Green ~

The Challenge

Welcome to a retrospective of paintings in green!  Why?  My friend and artist Ethel Forsberg from Visby, Sweden, challenged me to participate in the "Art Relay Race" on Facebook.  

Green:  Still Life with Espresso Cup, Candlestick and Vase

What could be better than flooding facebook with artwork?  Just what is needed.  The Art Relay idea is to post five paintings or pieces of art over five days and tag a new artist friend each day.

What To Do?

Having accepted the challenge, I was trying to figure out what to do.  Then, I had an "AHA" moment.  Its March and I recall a new artist friend, Candy Wooding, mentioned she was going to be posting works in green for the first 17 days in March.  Candy's Facebook page is called:  My Paper Arts.

Green Paintings!

Well, its already the second day of March. But green could work!  So, for the next five posts, I'll be showing something green. They can be viewed on my Facebook page called Margaret Stermer-Cox Art.


Today's piece is what I call the "prequal" to "Still Life with Toy Pony".  Its the still life without the toy pony.  The items are an espresso cup, candlestick and vase.  Why green?  Because green has always been one of my favorite colors.  

Please enjoy!


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On Being A Drawing Student

Opinionated Student

I once read that children of artists sometimes have trouble being an art student; they can be the hardest to teach drawing and painting. I can relate. I grew up in the household of an artist, my Dad, John H. Stermer. I have strong opinions about drawing, painting, art in general and my own abilities.

Study, Eggs, Shells, Egg Cup and Spoon

I'll say that again and hope you don't laugh too hard!  Yes, in spite of all the self doubt, I do have strong opinions about drawing and painting.  Many of the opinions were formed in my youth.  Things that my parents said, and Dad in particular, stuck with me.  Oddly enough, how to hold a pencil is one thing Dad taught me, for example*

Dad Learned Classical Drawing

My Dad received an education in classical drawing at The Arts Student's League in New York.  I recall him saying that the classical approach was the backbone to his work.  This was true even as he experimented and developed his own personal style. So, if Dad learned classical drawing, I figure I need to study it!  And, here I am in a classical drawing class.  

Be the Student

As I continue to participate in a local Classical Drawing Workshop (Ashland Art Center), I remind myself to open my mind to ideas. Instructors and classmates do have things to teach me.  Odd, isn't it, to have to remind oneself to learn?  The instructor, Sarah F. Burns is good and has studied many years.  I am learning from her and getting a good drawing workout.  I even come home tired!  And, yes, its OK/fine to learn something new.  

Funny how it can be hard to be the student.  But, if one isn't a good student, can one be a good teacher?

Study of Light & Dark

I'm including two of my more recent practice drawings, or studies that I am doing at home as my own homework.  I have to practice to learn!

As the class is progressing, we are studying how light falls on forms by doing value (light/dark) drawings.  Having to discipline myself to take the study to a more finished state is good for me.  The work will apply to my watercolor painting.

As we like to say these days, "its all good!"

How to Hold a Pencil While Drawing

*PS.  My father taught me to hold a pencil near the eraser end when drawing.  In that way, you have the best leverage for drawing.  He encouraged me not to hold the pencil as I do when writing.  The grip is too tight.  Considering Dad's drawings were sublime, I think he had a point.  :)

Egg and Boxes (On being student)


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