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Drawing: Still Life with Coffee Cup & Vase

Drawing:  Still Life with Coffee Cup & Vase

Graphite on paper

I continue to work on my drawing skills.  I’m taking a classical drawing class with a local artist, Sarah F. Burns.  I’m enjoying the learning environment.

With this particular still life drawing, I used a coffee cup and clay vase I collected while living in Germany.   My focus is on learning how to draw the forms.

Please enjoy!


The post Drawing: Still Life with Coffee Cup & Vase appeared first on Margaret Stermer-Cox.

Art Show Presentation, RVM


About the Video

This is a video of an art show presentation I gave on 1 July, 2015 to the residents of the Rogue Valley Manor (RVM).  Location was the Deschutes Gallery, Skyline Plaza Building.

In this video, I give the audience a brief outline of my background, including such classical influences as Picasso and Pogo.  Then, I talk about my watercolor studies and work. I focus my discussion on composing with color, light and shape.  The art show collection includes my “Toy Pony”, “MsKitty” and “Just Sayin’…” series of paintings.

Art Show Thank You’s

Thank you to Mr. Dick Warren (Art Committee, Deschutes Gallery, Rogue Valley Manor) for inviting me to show my work at the Rogue Valley Manor, Deschutes Gallery (Skyline Plaza).

Thank you to Mr. Bill Coleman and Mr. Warren for hanging the art show.

Thanks to my aunt Mary Thornton for her enthusiasm, inspiration and for introducing me to the Deschutes Gallery.

Thanks to my husband Robert for helping me prepare and photographing the presentation.

Where to View The Art Show

The art show is open to the public during business hours, July 1st through July 31st.  The Rogue Valley Manor – Skyline Plaza is located at 1200 Mira Mar Ave, Medford OR.


I’d like to show a few photos from “hanging day”.  Mr. Warren, Mr. Coleman, Robert, Aunt Mary, and I made quick work of hanging 27 paintings.  My job was attaching title cards to the correct paintings.

Art Show at Deschutes Gallery, Rogue Valley Manor


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Art Show Preparation & Subterranean Blues

Art Show Prep

I’ve been working on preparing myself for an art show.  I’m showing at the Deschutes Gallery of the Rogue Valley Manor’s Plaza Building.  This is in Medford, OR.  I will deliver paintings on the end of the month, ready to show!  The works will be on display through the month of July.

Art Show Preparation - Subterranean Blues

Artist’s Inventory No 243
10.5 x 14
Watercolor and Acrylic on Arches 140lb Cold Press Festive Abstracts Series

I am to have about 25 paintings prepared to hang.  This is going to be the largest single showing of my work to date.  I find this both exciting and intimidating.  I always feel vulnerable about seeing my art out and about.  A bit of my soul is exposed – which is good!

I am also required to give a small talk about my work and myself.  I do know how to prepare, and I have an excellent coach – my husband.  The main issue – getting over procrastination, anxiety, and the usual things.  I will; I always do and end up having a grand time.

The Audience?

They’re sophisticated.  The Rogue Valley Manor is a retirement community.  Their residents come from many walks of life.  Their life experiences are varied.  Many of the residents are artists themselves or have been around the arts.  I need to be on my “A” game.

Don’t we always?  :)


So, what have I been doing to prepare?  Here’s some of my tasks:

  • Check framing – is it clean and ready to go?
  • Check the size of the frames – will I have enough for the room?
  • Prepare the inventory – I need to have a record of what will be shown.  Plus, the inventory is the source document for the title cards and price list.
  • Oh, curating the show – choosing which paintings will hang.  What story will they tell?
  • Write my talk; practice, edit, re-write.
  • Practice.

One fun tool I’m using is the “photo booth” of my computer.  I can film myself speaking.  Oh, nothing so intimidating as seeing one talk.  Its the mannerism that can distract.


  • Inventory is about at the 75% level
  • Writing my talk – first draft 50%
  • Practice – I’ve tested talking and being filmed.  I’d maybe give myself a 25%
  • Paintings – Tracking.  I have enough framed.  I can always add a couple more.  I’d give myself a 50 to 75%

Today’s Painting

Oddly enough, this is one of the paintings on the “alternate” list.  It is one of my husband’s favorite paintings.  It is in line for being part of our permanent collection.

Oh, yes, and my husband likes early Bob Dylan.

I used both watercolor and acrylic in this painting.  This is the “artist statement” I wrote upon completing the painting:

“Sometimes compositions develop from a simple doodle, as is the case with this painting. I was experimenting with shapes and liked what I saw.  It made me think of something reaching down deep into the earth, perhaps roots of an old tree or plant.  Or, maybe itís a metaphor for my roots and links to the past.”

Now What?

My priority of work: Documentation, painting preparation, talk rehearsal.

Back to work!  :)  Thank you and enjoy!



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My Trip to Paris — Part One: The Drawings

I went to Paris for the first two weeks of May this year and my trip was entirely focused on studying art.  I went to the Louvre six times – not nearly enough.  I also visited the Orsay, Musee Bourdelle, Montmartre, saw Velasquez show at the Grand Palais, popped into the Musee Carnavalet and I know I missed a PILE of other great stuff.

I documented my trip in paintings and drawings.  Most of these drawings were made in the Louvre – where I actually was moved to tears a few times; putting this album together brings back a bit of the emotional experience.

SLC - waiting for my plane
SLC airport - my plane
Menade Sculpture - Louvre
Boy with Goose - Louvre
Seine Sculpture, French - Louvre
French Sculpture - Louvre
French Sculpture - Louvre
Sculpture - - Louvre and Drawing after Georges LaTour
Sketch after Paris Statue - Louvre
Cleopatra Sculpture Louvre Drawing by Sarah F Burns
Venus De Milo with crowds - Louvre
Female Greek Sculpture - Louvre
After Dying Slave Sculpture - Michelangelo - Louvre
After Rubens - Louvre
Sketch after Rubens Education of Marie Di Medici - Louvre
Sketch After Rubens Marie di Medici arriving in Marseille - Louvre
Sketch after Velasquez - show at Grand Palais, Paris
Cincannatus in the Tuileries with the Orsay behind
Louvre Drawing from the Tuileries
Drawing After Ingres - Louvre
After Gericault, Raft of the Medusa - Louvre
Sketch After Egyptian Cats in the Louvre
Sketch after Fantin Latour - Louvre
Drawing of Phideas Sculpture - Louvre
Cupid and Psyche - Louvre
Filed under: Drawing Tagged: 2015, art, art history, drawing, drawings, figurative, figure, france, landscape, louvre, master copy, paris, Sarah burns, sarah f burns, sketch, study

Thoughts on Drawing

Drawing Skills

I have been working on my drawing skills.  Hmmm, seems like I say that often.  Do we ever quit?  I hope not.

Drawing - Three Coffee Cups

Graphite on sketch paper
May 2015

Goal – See and Draw As An Artist

I have also been working on an upcoming show.  As I prepare paintings and look at my inventory, I reflect on what my artistic goals have been.  In 2002, the year I started focusing on making art, I set as one of my goals “to see and draw as an artist”.  As you might imagine, this could well be a life goal.

I thought I’d share a couple of my latest iterations.  My recent personal challenge is to pay more attention to drawing the structure or form of what I see.  I want to get the ovals of the cups right.  I want to understand and see how light falls on the objects.  I want to see and feel how to create depth.  It is fascinating.

Life Drawing At The Art Student’s League

I thought I’d share a  blog post that I found interesting.

The blog post is “Life Drawing in the Early Years of The Art Student’s League”.   My father attended the League in the late 1940s and early 1950s.  Thanks to the GI Bill, my father was one of the cohort of students to attend and study after World War II.

This particular article goes back to the beginning of the League.  As a daughter of an artist, and art student, I find the history fascinating.

I’d like to share some notes from the article that stick in my brain:

  • When women were first allowed to study at the League, they had to study in separate class rooms from the men.  Can you imagine trying such a separation today?
  • I am impressed with the rigor of the class room instruction, especially the life drawing.
  • Its interesting that early on there was an emphasis on drawing from casts.  That particular type of study waned during the 20th century, but is back in favor.
  • Life drawing has long been the center of study.

As I draw in my home studio, I do not have plaster casts or live models.  But, I do have coffee cups, cigar boxes and candle holders.

Its all good.

Please enjoy!

Drawing - Two Cups and A Candle Holder

Graphite on sketch paper
May 2015


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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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