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A Bit of Frog Pond History – My First Commission

Forgotten (Almost) Commission

Recently, I was looking through my library of file CDs and came across my first commission: the frog pond series.  I had almost forgotten about it…almost.

2002 Digital Media

I thought it would be fun to share the frog pond cartoons and give a bit of backstory. Apparently, I like doing cartoons.  Not surprising, I grew up reading Pogo, Peanuts and lots of comics.

Frog Pond History

I agreed to my first commission back in 2002.  It all started when my husband and I walked in to a new wine shop in our soon-to-be home town.  It was a cool, artsy wine shop called “Green Frog Wine Shop”.  The name caught my attention.

I recall talking to the proprietress while tasting some of her wines. She talked about wine, I talked about drawing.  I agreed to create a frog drinking wine as a logo for her shop.

Digital cartoon created by Margaret Stermer-Cox 2002

On subsequent visits to the wine shop, the proprietress told us of her business plans.  She planned to do a bed & breakfast in the building that housed the wine shop.  She also wanted to do a day care center and a taxi service.  In our little town, these businesses were lacking.

Digital cartoon created by Margaret Stermer-Cox 2002

Soon, I was drawing tadpoles, taxi drivers and a frog greeting customers with a candalabra.

Frog Pond Commission

Then, there was the catering business and maybe it would all be part of “Frog Pond Plaza”.  She certainly had the energy to do these things.

Frog Pond Commission

When it came time to deliver my cartoons, I found out that the “Green Frog Wine Shop” was going out of business.  Apparently, the proprietress’ parents had health problems and she was moving back to their home to take care of them.

I don’t remember the terms of the commission.  It was a verbal contract.  I know I was supposed to be paid.   She didn’t have the money to pay me.  Instead, I was paid in wine bottles.

I appreciated that she honored our contract as best she could.

That was the first and last time I worked with only a verbal contract.

Digital cartoon created by Margaret Stermer-Cox 2002

Digital cartoon
created by Margaret Stermer-Cox

I did an additional frog for my husband, who was and is a webmaster.  I must have been having a ton of fun!

Oh, we drank the wine and it was fine.

Party Frog - Commission


The way I did the frogs was by doing graphite pencil drawings first.  Then, I would scan them into the computer.  I used Corel’s Painter program to re-draw the cartoon.  Then I added colors and fills.


The post A Bit of Frog Pond History – My First Commission appeared first on Margaret Stermer-Cox.

Hive Mind by Michelle Anderst, oil on wood, 12″x12″, $425. Now…

Hive Mind by Michelle Anderst, oil on wood, 12″x12″, $425. Now on view at Axis Gallery in Seattle. Purchase inquiries may be directed to [email protected]

Limited edition prints available at

Limited edition prints are available at

Limited edition prints are available at

“To give us room to explore the varieties of mind and body into…

“To give us room to explore the varieties of mind and body into which our genome can evolve, one planet is not enough.”
   Freeman Dyson

Violaceous Queen, by Michelle Anderst, is now on view at Axis…

Violaceous Queen, by Michelle Anderst, is now on view at Axis Gallery in Seattle. Purchase inquiries may be directed to [email protected]

Why Draw? Why Paint?

The “Why Paint” Question

Why do I ask the “why paint” question?  I came across two blog posts* that asked similar questions regarding “why”.  The question sparked my brain cells.  I’ve been “riffing” on this idea for the past two days!

Why Paint? Strawberry Frogs?

So why draw and paint?  Why go through all the self doubt that seems to be part of the process?

Come to think of it, I didn’t always have doubt.  Its one of the situations where the more I know, the more I realize I don’t know.  Sigh.

Why – Other Artists?

Hmmm, is it just because I like being around artists?   I do like to be around artists and discuss techniques, ideas, problems.  I think its more a situation of “we’re all in this together” than a “WHY” reason to paint.

Why – Beauty or Fun?

Is it just because I like drawings and paintings?

Its got to be about more than “I like to paint beauty”…or “because its fun”. Maybe.

I haven’t quite gotten to painting beauty.  I can hardly define beauty.  And, sometimes drawing or painting isn’t so fun.  Its more frustrating.  It being the act of painting, combined with all the self doubt and struggle to get “it” right – it being the finished work in this case.

Why? Strawberry plants from my garden

Why – Prestige?

How about prestige?  Is it an ego thing?  Well, I do like entering my paintings into shows.  I get a charge out of being accepted.  It does my ego good.  Yet, I get enough “decline your painting” notices that I’m pretty sure I don’t paint for shows.

Plus, I benefit from what I just named the “show paradox”.  When I paint for shows, I don’t get in.  When I paint then submit my best, I stand a better chance of being accepted.

Why – Money?

Could it be that I like the money?  Umm, no.  I’m not making huge sums of money through drawing or painting so I don’t think its the money.  On a side note, that isn’t a whine.  My marketing efforts have been modest and I know it.  Should money be the reason I paint, I believe I would have to apply myself to mastering the marketing.

I think I would still draw and paint even if I did not show my work or did not make a sale.

Why – To Avoid Pain?

Yes, avoiding pain can be a motivation.  I learned this from Anthony Robbins tapes I listened to in the 1990s.

And, to a certain extent I think it is a part of my “why”.  It would be too painful if I never tried.  I would always wonder what I had missed.  In my little head dialog, I urge myself on.  The pain of not trying is something I actively avoid.

Why Paint

Why Not?…What I Like

There has to be a why that sustains me through the struggle of learning to draw and paint.

Here are a few things I know I like:

  • I like trying things and seeing if I can make it work.  I love the experience.
  • I like the feel of a loaded, wet watercolor brush on paper.  Its great watching the paint too!
  • I love it when I start to understand or experience something.  Particularly those things that more experienced artists say I should see.  When I finally get it, its exciting.
  • I like the results of drawing and painting.  I like the magic of when the drawing or painting start to come together.

But, what about the big WHY?

Maybe, I just like drawing and painting.  Some of my earliest memories are of drawing and painting.  My school notebooks are full of drawings, sometimes more drawings than class notes.

I think that at the end of the day, its that the simple act of drawing or painting is an act of optimism.  Its about communicating what I see, feel or imagine to another person.

Connecting, is that what I’m talking about?  Is my “WHY” a statement that there are somethings that are OK?

Maybe its a connection of optimism, beauty, joy.  How about wonder?

Do you suppose the “WHY” is as unique as each one of us?  Or, is this visual communication universal?

I think the act of drawing and painting is what I like to do.  It makes me feel good.

Its still hard.

And frustrating.

And fascinating!

That’s why.

What’s your “why”?

Why Paint - World Watercolor Month

World Watercolor Month – July 2016

Back to earth here, I’ve been working on my ink and watercolor studies.  I think this kind of work fits right in with the upcoming “World Watercolor Month” – mainly because its watercolor.  Any kind of watercolor work would suffice by definition, don’t you think?  I think its pretty wonderful that there is a worldwide watercolor month.  I do like community!  Speaking of which, I heard about “World Watercolor Month” on Citizen Sketcher’s blog.


I’m listing the two blog posts that sparked the question “why”.

Frank Eber: “Aspirations of An Artist”

Angela Bruskotter: “The Why of An Artist”



The post Why Draw? Why Paint? appeared first on Margaret Stermer-Cox.

June Bundle Sale


June Bundle Sale

Because my

two online workshops,


The Thread That Weaves


Nature Journaling,


compliment each other so delightfully,

I'm offering a bundle discount so you can enjoy both!

Bundled Workshop Price:


Your savings is $50.00


Videos and blog posts will guide you through each project,

with space to share and communicate with me and fellow classmates.


You will


these workshops!


Art and Nature Collage

Student artwork inspired by nature.

Thank you Jan, Holly, Nancy and Jamie!

I've tailored the lessons so you can enjoy the process whether you are brand-new to the world of art, or even if you are a seasoned professional!

The Thread That Weaves, Student Work

Student Artworks 

Thank you Jeanne, Niki, Kim and Jan!

 As always with my online workshops, go at your own pace as we observe, discover, and create together,

finding inspiration in nature and ourselves.


All About

The Thread That Weaves

A wonderful opportunity for you at any level of experience with mixed media, my online workshop The Thread That Weaves provides instruction and insight through videos with accompanying blog posts.

The rich content of the class leave your hands full of gorgeous art you created yourself.

Like all of my online workshops, once you register, you always have access to the lessons, videos, blogs, and groups, so you can weave your way through the course as many times as you desire, or return to a certain technique any time!

The course is divided into four weeks of projects where you can go at any pace as we make a small book from pages we fold, enforce, and collage over in fun, new ways.


Kim Henkle's lovely pages…

Through the weeks, we explore a variety of materials to use, and we create backgrounds, make a mini book, experiment with collage, and learn techniques to attach, embellish, and stitch different items. As we weave our way through the course, we discuss design, composition, and focal points.

The Thread That Weaves has additional projects involving collecting, writing, and photographing in ways that enhance each week's lessons.

I respond quickly and am easily accessible through the group blog and e-mail. Discussions and suggestions are more than welcome in the blog so everyone can benefit from the conversations that spring from this course.

We can share our work on Instagram at


or #naturejournalingwithroxanne


This workshop connects like souls from around the world – one more golden stitch that makes it irresistible. 



All About

Nature Journaling

Whether you already love it or you want to try observing, writing, drawing, painting, and photographing outside, Nature Journaling online offers new ideas and techniques. You'll collage in conjunction with nature and wildlife and create gorgeous projects that include found objects.

The course

enriches creativity and vision

and fosters greater observation of the

natural world,

helping you be more at ease with writing what you see and feel, freeing you to be more perceptive and reflective.

I've constructed the course to be for all levels, so first-timers and experienced artists alike can reap the benefits of the beautiful content and inspiring lessons.


Each week's projects include experimenting with painting, drawing, writing, collaging, mixed media, and often photography. Throughout the workshop, we will take a closer look at and play with flowers, leaves/twigs/grasses, butterflies, trees, and birds. We also ecodye in the garden and make a beautiful accordion book to hold our observations and creations. Gorgeous pictures and inspirational quotes accompany the lessons, blogs, and videos.

As with all of my online workshops,

I want to help you find your magic and make each project uniquely yours.

Go at your own pace – there is plenty of room to return to a portion or to repeat as many times as you like!

Plus, once you register, you continue to have access to the lessons, blogs, videos, and groups forever after.

This online workshop pairs naturally with another, The Thread That Weaves, so I've created a discounted bundle option for those of you who would like to take both classes!

For your convenience, 

I have added a Buy Now Button below. 

Bundled Workshop Price:


If you want to purchase just one of the workshops, they are their regular price on the individual post.

Cyanescens, oil on wood, 6″x6″, $195. Currently on view at Axis…

Cyanescens, oil on wood, 6″x6″, $195. Currently on view at Axis Gallery in Seattle. Purchase inquiries may be directed to [email protected]

Young Pine at LaPine State Park

Painting at LaPine

My husband and I were camping at LaPine State Park near LaPine, OR this past weekend.  LaPine is in the central part of the state.

Young Pine at LaPine, OR

I’d like to share with you a study I did of a young ponderosa pine tree at LaPine State Park and a some of the extra special things we did!

Sometimes when I think of landscape painting and creating art of the great outdoors, I think of big panoramas.  Trees, mountains, creeks, clouds all fall in the mental image of a landscape painting.

But, there is no reason why one can not focus their attention on a tree, a small plant, or a squirrel.

Well, the squirrels are awfully fast.  So, I took on a young ponderosa pine tree.

There is plenty to do when it comes to drawing trees.  Especially on location.  Light changes for one thing.  Plus, all those needles, twigs and squirrels running about!

Lessons Learned:

  • It takes a lot of practice to draw and paint the great outdoors
  • When time is limited, accuracy might need to be sacrificed for getting the main information down.
  • Remember to stand back and take a look…which is something I often forget to do.
  • Squirrels, and their relatives the chipmunks, never stand and pose when you want them to.

Side Notes

Tent at LaPineI did several drawings as well.  Whenever I had a few minutes, I took out pen and paper.  I’m including two drawings as an example.  I did one of our tent in the campground at LaPine.

Amphitheater Volunteers, Bend OR, North of LaPine

The second drawing I did while we were waiting in line to go to a concert in nearby Bend, OR.  We went to see the band “Alabama Shakes” at the Les Schwab Amphitheater.  Side note: WOW!

All in all, a fun way to observe nature and people through drawing.  And, have a GREAT weekend!

Visit to Sandra’s Artist Studio In LaPine

My husband and I had a wonderful weekend in LaPine, OR.  We did take the opportunity to meet a fellow Oregon artist, Sandra Neary, and her husband Mike.  It was such a treat to view her work in person.  It is amazing what a difference it makes.

I enjoyed listening to Sandra talk about her work.  She talked about what themes excite her and it enabled me to appreciate her paintings that much more.

Naturally, painter me enjoyed looking at her studio space too!

Thank you Sandra!


The post Young Pine at LaPine State Park appeared first on Margaret Stermer-Cox.

Here’s my brand new painting, “Dendritic Crystalization” for the…

Here’s my brand new painting, “Dendritic Crystalization” for the show Strange Paradise, opening June 2nd at Axis Gallery in Seattle’s Pioneer Square.

If you’re interested in this piece, or would like an exclusive preview of my work before the opening, email me at [email protected]