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Research: Links to Articles On How to Simplify

Research, that is to say my investigation and study into what it means to “simplify” a design in drawing and painting.

Building A Knowledge Base.

Hi!  Over the past few months, I’ve been looking for articles on the topic of simplification.  That is, I’ve been trying to find out what simplification is all about.  You see, I figure that if I am to lead a class or workshop on the subject, I ought to have a solid foundation of knowledge.

Research on How to Simplify: Cool Kitty - Variation On A Theme

Article Search.

It hasn’t been easy finding articles.  Rather, the research process has been slow, especially at first.  Sometimes, though, one article leads to another relevant article and, eventually, another.  So, the idea, then, is to plod through and keep looking.

That being said, I have found several references that I like.  In other cases, with books, for example, I can see “simplify” in the index.  But, I have yet to read the all documents.

I Like Research!

And, the fun thing?  Yes, research can be fun.  One gets to expand one’s horizons and meet interesting people through their writings.  Also, the artists represented include realism to abstraction; photography, drawing and painting!

Research Into How To Simplify: Spice Kitty - Variation on a Theme

Links To Articles.

One additional note.  Several of these links have books, online classes, etc.  The purpose is not to advocate or promote the books or classes.  Rather, to share bits of insight on simplification.

So, in not any particular order, here are some links and references to articles on how to simplify.

1.  Mitchell Albala.

Mr. Albala is an artist and instructor working in the Pacific Northwest.

From Mitchell Albala’s blog:  “Any good landscape painting I’ve ever done was also simple”,

Quote:  The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak. – Hans Hoffman

From Mitchell Albala’s book, Landscape Painting.  Simplification and Massing: Learn to reduce nature’s complexity by looking beneath the surface of a subject to discover the form’s basic masses and shapes.

Research: How To Simplify: KittyKitty Simplified Pattern

2.  Website:  Composition Study.

Though the purpose of this website is to be a resource for photographers, I think that the information is relevant to any visual artist.  There is one article specifically on simplification:

The author includes a wonderful example of simplification in a black and white photograph.

3.  Johannes Vloothuis.

Via, “5 Art Composition Tips:  How to Simplify a Busy Painting”; useful tips and examples!

4.  The Virtual Instructor.

This short article and video focusing on simplifying by seeing the underlying shape and form of the subject.

Drawing 101 – Simplify For Success.

5.  John Burton: Organizing Chaos.

From Tucson Art Academy On Line, a short video from artist John Burton.   He discusses how he organizes a complex scene.  Its all about seeing shapes; working large to small, and leaving the details to last.  I recommend this short video:  Three Key Steps to Simplifying A Complex Scene.

6.  Keene Wilson.

Mr. Wilson’s article “Design and Composition: Practical Advice for the Advanced Artist” is compilation of notes from the artist on design and composition.  Embedded in the many of the notes are tips on how to enhance and simplify your design.  And, you are rewarded as you read down the page where you find an entire paragraph titled “Simplify”.  This might be an article you want to book mark and come back to!

Research: Variation On A Theme

7.  Miles G. Batts.

One of my favorite artists is Miles G. Batts.  He has a paragraph specifically on simplification on page 68 of  his book “The Complete Guide to Creative Watercolor”.

8.  Linda Kemp.

Another favorite artist, Linda Kemp has a book available titled “Simplifying Design & Color for Artists”.

9.  Tom Hoffman.

An artist I admire from the Pacific Northwest, Mr. Hoffman has a book out plus teaches.  I have not read his book, but I frequent a blog he uses for some of his watercolor classes.  It seems to me that simplification and how to do it are topics imbedded in his instructions.  I find the blog useful.

10.  Frank Eber.

Artist Frank Eber, another fine artist whose work I admire has a blog with several excellent articles that include the subject of simplification.  All are worthy reads and provide insight to the painting process and simplification in particular.

Research on How To Simplify: Variations On A Theme, KittyKitty Red Alert

11.  Mark Alan Anderson, “Just Sketching” Blog.

I like Mr. Anderson’s articles.  To elaborate, I find the practical, accessible and useful.  Its about the practice of drawing and sketching.  So, I’ll list a couple of articles that apply directly to the topic of simplification.

12.  Stephen Berry.

Tip:  Try smaller reference photos, such as from a cell phone. Helps you see the big shapes!  From “10 Tips to Help You Improve On Your Own”.

13.  Me!

Some of my other articles about simplifying:

About The Paintings.

The paintings shown in this article are part of my “KittyKitty” series started in 2009.  One of my favorite ways of doing research, whether or not I want to simplify, is to do a “variation on a theme”.  Put another way, working in series gives the artist an opportunity to see first hand how changes influence design.  Plus, its great fun!

Research Variation On Theme: Totally Modern Kitty


#simplify #simplifyyourpainting #watercolorpainting

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Painting & WSO Traveling Exhibition In Carlton, OR

Wallow Gallery, Carlton OR

Greetings!  I am pleased to say that my watercolor painting “Three Minute Egg V11”, is now showing in the Wallow Gallery, Carlton, OR.

Carlton: Three Minute Egg V11

You see, it is one of the 20 award winning paintings from the Watercolor Society of Oregon’s (WSO) Spring 2018 Experimental Exhibition.  And, WSO has a traveling show consisting of their award winning paintings.  So, the award winning paintings get to travel to select galleries around Oregon.

Gallery Details.

I would like to invite you to see the Traveling Exhibition in Carlton.  Therefore, I’d like to share gallery information with you.  The paintings are showing at the Wallow Gallery, 125 W. Main St.  Business hours are Fri-Sun, 12-5pm. For more information, please email [email protected] or call 503-785-9951.  Furthermore, you may want to call the gallery first if you plan to see the exhibition.

The paintings will be on display through the end of September.

WSO 2018 Traveling Exhibition

WSO Experimental Exhibition.

What makes the experimental exhibition special is that artists are encouraged to explore different water-media and substrates.  Put another way, you see everything from a more traditional watercolor paint on paper to mixed water-media on aqua or clay-board.  And, the types of water-media include transparent watercolor, gouache and acrylic.

Still, the intentions of jurying the show are the same: recognizing paintings with technical and artistic achievement.

And, one further note about WSO art shows.  The fall exhibition includes only watercolor works on paper.  You can see, then, how it contrasts with the spring experimental show.

Photos By Liz Walker.

Carlton; Liz Walker's "On Solid Ground" used with permission

I’d like to give you some background regarding the photos.  To explain, most are from fellow Oregon artist, Ms. Liz Walker.  Thank you Liz for permission to use your photos!

Included are her photos from some of the previous stops on the traveling show’s journey.  Plus, I’m adding her own award winning painting.  I liked the feeling of her painting “On Solid Ground”.  You see, it has a degree of mystery that I particularly enjoy!

Thank you!

On a personal note, I would like to extend a “thank you” to Zsuzanna Wallow, Sandy and all the WSO members responsible for this wonderful show.  And, a HUGE thank you to Wallow Gallery for showing the art works!

Please Stop By!

In closing, I would like to invite you to stop by the Wallow Gallery if you are in the area!  Please, go see some wonderful experimental water-media paintings by my friends and fellow Oregon fine artists!  Thank you!

Carlton. Paintings from WSO Spring Exhibition


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A Clown: More Than A Smiling Face

But, still, a smiling clown can be good!

Clowns Popped In My Head.

Hi!  Lately, I’ve been doing some small studies of clowns.  Why clowns?  I don’t know.  They popped into my head this past May and I keep coming back to them.

Research Time.

So, after a few drawings, I thought it might be a good idea to research clowns.  I started with a search for famous clowns.  As you might expect, there were photos and mentions of some of the more recent famous comedic characters, both real and fictional.  Circus clowns like Emmett Kelly, American Tramp “Weary Willie” and Red Skelton, Freddie the Freeloader.

Clown With Daisies And Balloons

Traditional Types.

Then, I started finding articles about traditional circus clowns.  Did you know, that there were generally three types of circus clowns?  They are the white face, Auguste (red face),  character clowns.  The character clowns may include the more recent hobo or tramp, like Weary Willie.

Boss Clown.

There is a funny hierarchy too.  To over simplify, the white face clown is the top clown and serious (straight face) clown.  Whereas the red face or Auguste clown is the one that gets the pie in the face.  Naturally, the character clowns play characters.

Its About Meaning.

Now that I’ve shared with you my quick research on these circus characters, I’d like to relate my findings to drawings.  You see, it makes it much more interesting creating my clown characters now that I know a little bit about them.  And, its inspired me to create more!

Oddly enough, I drew a “white face” clown without knowing the significance.  Still, I think he is appropriate for the occasion.

Clown With Daisies & Balloons.

In any case, I hope you enjoy my clown with daisies and balloons.  Thank you!

PS.  You could say that this watercolor and ink study is a type of “drawing from memory and imagination”.  The emphasis is on imagination!

Twin Clowns.

Naturally, when you draw one clown, well, maybe you need to draw two!  Plus, I’m a fraternal twin.   Happiness!

Clown: Twins


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Simplifying – In Drawing & Painting Composition

Coming To Terms With Simplifying.

Greetings!  I’m still thinking about this idea of simplifying.  In this article, I speculate about where the concept of simplifying fits in the composition lexicon for drawing and painting.

Contemplating Over Coffee

Mini Workshop Coming Up.

Yes, this is the kind of thing I contemplate on from time to time.  And, if you think that I’m obsessing about simplifying then you would probably be correct!  The situation is that I am working on getting my thoughts and experiences organized.  This is because I’m scheduled to lead a mini workshop on simplifying to the Watercolor Society of Oregon.  And, I want to be able to communicate ideas clearly.

Doing Research.

So, as you might imagine, I’m doing some research and study.  However, I’m finding that when one does a search “simplifying in drawing and painting composition”.  You see, its been oddly difficult finding relevant results.  So, instead, I’m trying different searches and looking in my art books.

How Does “Simplifying” Fit In?

Because of the scarcity of information, I wanted to figure out where this concept of “simplifying” fits in the lexicon of composition.  Perhaps I’ll be able to do better searches or at least articulate what “simplifying” is all about.

Definitions: Simplifying

The Problem.

To restate the problem, what does does it mean to simplify as it applies to designing a painting? And, how does this process fit with the elements and principles of design?

Minimalism & Abstraction?

Furthermore, isn’t Minimalism simplification taken toward the extreme?

In a manner of speaking, the answer to the Minimalism question is yes.  The Tate Museum, for example, defines Minimalism as an extreme form of abstraction typified by big simple geometric shapes.  Come to think of it, abstraction is linked to simplifying too.  You might want to refer to the Tate’s definition of abstraction.  It includes the following line.

The term can be applied to art that is based an object, figure or landscape, where forms have been simplified or schematised.  

Circular Contemplation.

Can you see where my brain might just go around in circles?

Simplify: Design Elements

Composition & Design.

Back to composition or design (a short digression)!  You might want to know that I use the terms composition and design interchangeably.  I’m referring to the same thing; how we organize elements on the picture plane.

Simplify: Design Principles

In any case, the concept simplifying is not a design element or a design principle.  So, how does it fit?  I’m thinking its an over-arching “approach” and therefore is fits indirectly.

One Example.

Simplifying shapes

I thought I’d use one of my paintings, “Coffee At Black Cat Cafe” as an example of simplifying by linking or massing shapes.  While this painting may seem complicated, and it does to me, I have taken steps to simplify shapes to promote unity.

If you would like, please take a look at the three figures.  The two figures at the right are linked by their adjacent arms, creating a bigger shape. The figure on the left sits alone; she is my center of interest.  Also note that the figures and the table are depicted in similar warm colors.  Thus, I am linking the smaller shapes into a single larger, triangular shape.

In this example, then, I use both shape and color as the design elements for simplifying.  The action of simplifying (linking or massing the shapes) promotes unity, which is a design principle.

Second Example.

I just noticed that both of the paintings I’ve selected show places where I’ve simplified.  The figures, for example, are simple.  That is to say, I haven’t put in a lot of the details about bone structure, muscles and features.  I’ve left that to your imagination.  Furthermore, the color schemes are relatively simple or restrained.

Your Turn.

Come to think of it, how about you?  For those of you who are artists, how do you simplify shapes, colors, values and other design elements in your own work?  And, for all of us who appreciate art, have you noticed simplification in other works of art?

To Simplify Implies Action.

Consider again, then, the words “to simplify” and its opposite “to complicate”.  Don’t the terms imply action?  In the act of designing a drawing or painting, I would suggest that we’re talking about how we arrange things on the picture plane.

To put it another way, to simplify or to complicate refers to the ways in which we arrange or apply the design elements in accordance with the design principles.

Links To More Examples.

For more, you might want to see my article on silhouettes.  Or, you might want to check out artist Frank Eber’s blog post:  “Simplifying a Scene”.  John Burton, Tucson Art Academy, has a short video titled “3 Key Steps to Simplifying A Complex Scene” that I think is good.

Update!  I came across Linda Kemp’s book on simplifying titled “Simplifying Design & Color for Artists”.  I have not read it myself, but have looked at the table of contents and it looks good.

PHEW! Simplifying Seems Complicated!

Trying to simplify seems to be complicated.  But, what I’m seeking is clarity.  And, low and behold, to simplify can mean to seek clarity.  Another brain loop!  But, this is where things get sort of exciting, if you can stay with me.  Clarity and understanding are part of the definition for simplifying or simplicity.

Its All About Artist Intent.

You might ask the question, “Why is this important at all?”   For me, its all about what an artist wants to say and how to say it.


To summarize, then, the term “to simplify” fits in the design lexicon as an action.  The action is to reduce or simplify one of the design elements.  In doing so, the artist is working to create unity, of the design principles.


Thank you for stopping by.  Please feel free to leave a comment if you like!  Warm regards.  Peggy.

#simplify #simplifying #simplifyyourpainting

Simplify: Still Contemplating!
Still contemplating how to simplify!





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One Way To Simplify: Using Silhouette Shape Studies.

Simplify: To clarify; to make easier to understand.

Just Thinking!

Greetings!  I have been thinking about how to “simplify” lately and how the term applies to creating paintings.  You see, I have a mini workshop coming up with the Watercolor Society of Oregon (WSO) this fall.

Simplify: Three Minute Egg V12 Concept Drawing

Why Simplify?

But, what do we mean by simplification as it applies to painting?  And, why would you (the artist “you”) want to simplify?

Simplify: Three Minute Egg No12 First State

And How?

These are the types of questions I’m wrestling with plus the BIG ONE:  how does one simplify?

In the meantime, I’m working on some research by doing article searches and brain storming.

Create A Silhouette!

However what I’d like to share with you is one of my favorite ways to simplify.  What I’m talking about is creating a silhouette shape study of my designs.  This is a type of value (light and dark) study.  You may also have heard of the Japanese term notan, which also refers to lights and darks.  I’m adding a list of terms to show you how the meanings of these terms overlap.

Simplify: Terms

Silhouette, Value Study, Notan! (Oh My!)

In other words, a silhouette can be a value study which can be notan as well.  Its all about the underlying light and dark pattern of my painting!


So.  It is my intention is to show you a silhouette study I did plus some of the “work-in-progress” (WIP) states of my latest painting.

Simplify: Silhouette Shape Study

Link Dark Shapes.

Back to silhouette studies, how does this result in a simplified painting?  I’m massing my shapes; that is linking all the shapes of one value which, in this case, is black or white.  The linking of shapes creates a black silhouette against a white ground.  Then, I can see the “big picture” – a shape and value pattern, without the distracting details.

Truth Time.

Oops; ahem, the truth will out.  In case you were wondering, I do not make a silhouette shape study for every design I use for paintings.  Oh?  Yes, that is even though doing so is a great practice and pays dividends.  I am thinking I might need to make a new habit of doing silhouette shape and value studies all the time!

Simplify: Three Minute Egg State 2

Get It Down On Paper.

You see, my current practice is usually just to think the design through in my head.  The downside of “just thinking” is that you don’t see it clearly.  Plus, you need to trust yourself to remember your intentions over time.  Hmmm….could be a problem for someone who takes a while to complete a painting!

So, not surprisingly, I’m finding in the articles I read that it pays to really do the extra work when you’re developing a concept for the painting.  That is, do the preparatory drawings, silhouettes shape and value sketches.  Get the ideas down on paper.

Its my experience that doing the studies helps me see the strengths and problems of a composition.

Silhouette Study: “Three Minute Egg No.12”.

Therefore, better late than never, I worked up a silhouette shape study for a design I’m working on (please see above).

Now, I can see the concept as a series of inter-connecting bold shapes.  I’m not distracted by the details.  Instead, I have a map of my lights and darks to use as I develop my watercolor.

Plus, I had fun creating the silhouette.

Paper & Scissors Are Good.

You can do this with construction paper and scissors, just like you might have done when you were a child.  Its an enjoyable exercise, but a LOT harder than I recall from childhood!   Why?  Because you have to think ahead and make it all one shape!

Simplify: State 3, Three Minute Egg No 12

Digital Works Too.

Since I didn’t have any construction paper around the house, I used the digital art program “Painter®” by Corel™.  To explain, I scan in an outline of my drawing.  Then, I use the program to draw and fill shapes.  There is a fair amount of adjusting because, as I’ve mentioned before, you see problem areas.

Link Dark-to-dark and Light-to-light.

In this particular design, I am concerned that my dark shapes touch or neighbor another dark shape.  Put another way, an isolated dark shape, surrounded completely by white, creates a hole.   You, as the observer, might get stuck in a dark hole as there is no path out into the light.  So, if you want to, look for black holes. Do you see any?

Back to the idea of simplification, do you see how the silhouette shape study helps you see a simplified composition?  That is, some of the details are gone and you just look at the structure.

Key Points.

To summarize, there are two key points to consider:

  1.  Silhouette shape and value studies are one way to simplify a design or composition.
  2. Doing studies ahead of time, that is before you start the painting helps.  You have a better chance of seeing the strengths and problems of composition before you get to far into painting.

PHEW!  Speaking of simplify, this was not a simple blog post!  Isn’t that funny?  Writing an article on simplifying design certainly seems complicated!

Thanks!  I welcome your comments, suggests and discussion.

Simplify: Three Minute Egg No 12 State 4

PS.  And, finally, the completed painting!

Simplify by doing a silhouette:  Three Minute Egg #12; final vision


#simplify #simplifying #watercolor #simplifyyourpainting







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Royal Pears: New Collector; Plus A Bit of Imagination, Freedom & Embracing Process

Sometimes its just about freedom and exploration; that is, taking a moment to release your inner adventurous spirit.

Freedom: Royal Pear Lavender Moon


Greetings!  I would like to share with you the story about my two Royal Pear watercolor paintings.  The smaller is the first version and a new friend and collector purchased it this week.

The Story.

One day I wondered what kind of wild, crazy pear I could draw.  What if the pear were sitting on a table at night, under a pale lavender moon?  Can you imagine?  And, what if it were a festive pear?  Come to think of it, what if it were a pear like one you’ve not seen before?

Be The Pear.

What does it mean to be the pear?  OK, just a bit of silliness but, what can I say about a pear that might be little bit different?

Still Life With Pear.

You see, pears are a favorite fruit that one sees in still life paintings.  They are beautiful and have a nice organic shape.  Come to think of it, they are not all that easy to paint.  You see, yes, I have drawn and painted pears in a more realistic manner and, in spite of their simple shape, it was challenging!

Freedom.  Imagination.

So, out came paper, pencil and imagination.  I just embraced the idea of festive but regal pears.  I freed myself to think “what if”…the light was from a lavender moon.  Then, there is the wonder of nature in general.  But, this is a painting from imagination and I can have fun.  Liberate yourself from the tyranny of the subject!

(OOPS, over-doing it again).

Embrace the Process.

In other words, I mean to allow myself to be free and enjoy the process.   Sometimes, an idea takes hold and it just must be done!  And so it was: a jeweled, festive, purple royal pear.

Freedom: Royal Pear

Thank You Art2Business.

Thank you to Wanda Pepin of Art2Business for helping my new collector contact me.  And, for the shows that help my work reach a larger audience!

Layaway Is An Option.

Speaking of the sale, I would like to share with you that this is the first time we are trying out the layaway option.  This is a service available to collectors.

Royal Pears.

Thank you!  I hope you enjoy the freedom of expression, that is to say the joy and exuberance of my two royal pears.




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Talent: A Word Rattling Around My Brain! Plus, Its Where I Live.

Talent: a special aptitude, skill or gift someone seems to have; the t-word.

Talent Railroad Depot

Just Thinking.

Greetings!  The word and concept of “talent” has been rolling around in my head for a week or two.  Its odd, I think, but recently I’ve read good blog posts by other artists on the subject of talent, skills, passion; you know, the special gift.  So, naturally, I decided it was a topic I wanted to explore.

My intention is just to share my mind’s meanderings.  To clarify, I don’t have a great, deep answer about what talent is or is not.  Rather, I’m just riffing on the concept.


You see, the “t-word” seems to be something that people (and artists in particular) are driven to talk about from time to time.  Granted, it’s not really so surprising.  Consider this, if you have achieved a certain level of competence in drawing or painting (or pretty much anything), chances are that someone has complimented you and said that you’re gifted or special, (t-word again).

Talent Library

Are We All Talented?

I wonder, do you suppose we call people “talented” if they’re good at mathematics or the sciences?

Come to think of it, some schools do have a “gifted” program.

Can We Grow It?

What do you think, wouldn’t it be fun to grow and harvest that gifted, special aptitude stuff?   Or, rather, I gather that we do grow our skills and abilities when we work at our favorite thing; that special aptitude we have.

Hard Won Skill?

Back to the blog posts I’ve been reading, artist David Hettinger, for example, talks about his hard won skills as “talent”.  To elaborate, he has studied and worked hard to achieve the special skills so noted by other people.

I like the title of his blog post:  “Talent is a Reward For Work Done”.  Well said!

Talent 76 Gas Station

What About…?

But what about the child who displays a gift or special ability?

I would say we love to look at a child’s drawings and paintings.  Its interesting and fascinating to see how the young mind works.  Perhaps some of us do have a pre-disposition to drawing, painting, mathematics, science and etc.  I wonder.

Nurture, Nature, Both?

I do remember loving drawing as a child and wanting to figure out how to do things better.

Odd, don’t you think?  Or, are we hardwired of born with that urge to get better even at a young age?

So, mix nature and nurture; teaching and praise; and then perhaps the we give the gift of talent to children.  Just a thought from my meandering mind.


And for me, I am inspired by what my fellow artist said.  To re-iterate, talent is a hard won skill; I can relate.

Most of all, I know in my bones that a special aptitude serves me best when I work and develop it!  Put another way, who cares if I have talent especially if it lays dormant?  Its the work that matters.

Talent, Organic Grind Coffee

Talent: Its Where I Live!

Then, there is the fact that I currently live in Talent, OR.  See?  No wonder the word rattles around my head!

What about you and your skills?  Thoughts?





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Award at Watercolor Society Of Oregon’s Spring Experimental Exhibition

Award, that is to say a special recognition of achievement. 

Good News!

Greetings!  I am pleased to say that my painting Three Minute Egg V11 earned the Fourth Place “High Desert” award in the Watercolor Society of Oregon (WSO) Spring Experimental Exhibition, Florence OR. (Yay!). The exhibition opened on Saturday, April 7th at the Florence Events Center, (715 Quince St) and you may view the show during business hours through the 23rd of April.

Award, Painting, Artist


Award Donors.

I would like to send my deepest thanks to the sponsors of the Fourth Place “High Desert” Award:  Jack Richeson & Co and the WSO 100 Club, Inc.

Jack Richeson & Co is one of the few family run art supply manufacturing companies remaining.  Located in Wisconsin, their company “is based on a belief in the Importance of Art, its relevence, its necessity in life”, (quote from their Facebook page).  I think its wonderful that they have nine full time working family members and the occasional seasonal member.  Thank you Jack Richeson & Co!

The WSO 100 Club is a non-profit corporation established by WSO in 1984 as an endowment fund.  The purpose of the fund is to subsidize member education and the WSO Awards Program.  Thank you WSO 100 Club!

Award-Winning Paintings.

My watercolor is one of twenty award-winning paintings. The paintings will continue on in a traveling show through the end of September, including galleries in Florence, Newport and Carlton, (please see the schedule below).

Award Ceremony: WSO Spring 2018 Convention

WSO Spring Juried Exhibition.

The Watercolor Society of Oregon (WSO) hosts two juried exhibitions per year: one in the fall and one in the spring. To explain the process for the show, artists submit paintings for consideration into a juried show.  The submitted painting must past an initial jury to be accepted into the show. Then a juror (or jurors) selects award winners.

In the case of this particular juried show, the juror accepted 80 paintings from 279 entered by 163 artists.  And, from the shows 80 paintings, she selected 20 award winners.

This spring’s Juror was artist Ms. Fran Larsen of Santa Fe NM. She is a nationally recognized artist and instructor.

What’s special about the Spring show is that artists can be experimental.  That is to say, while the paintings are primarily water media, they may incorporate elements of other media, like colored pencil, ink, pastel, etc.

About the Watercolor Society of Oregon.

The Watercolor Society of Oregon was started in 1966. The society currently has over 800 members from around the state. Its purpose is to promote the interest of watercolor paintings. The Spring Experimental Exhibition is one of two shows held annually in the state of Oregon.

Award Winning Painting: 3 Minute Egg V11

About the Painting, Three Minute Egg V11.

This is the eleventh painting in a series of works exploring a still life setup.  For background information, the set up includes eggs, egg cup, timer, spoon and napkin.  With each new painting, I allow myself the freedom to explore composition, color, meaning and whatever else strikes my fancy.  Incidentally, you may notice that in this painting I was playing with angles.

So, what’s the meaning, you might ask.  Well, three minute eggs were one of my favorite childhood breakfasts.  Strangely enough, I didn’t particularly enjoy the taste of eggs.  Instead, what I liked was being able to dunk my toast into the egg.  Plus, we had egg cups from Spain which made the eggs ever more exotic.

With that in mind, you might say this painting is about the memory of exotic breakfasts.  Or, the breakfast where Peggy was allowed to play with eggs and toast!

Exhibition Details.

April 7 – 23. Florence Events Center, 715 Quince St., Florence OR.  Hours: Mon – Fri: 9am to 4:30pm.

April 24 – May 31. Backstreet Gallery, 1421 Bay Street, Florence OR.  Opening reception Saturday, May 12 from 3-5 pm.  Hours: 10am to 6pm daily.

May 31st – July 31st.  Newport Visual Arts Center, 777 NW Beach Dr., Newport OR.  Hours:  Tue – Sun: 12 noon to 4pm.

August 1st – September 30th.  Wallow Gallery, 125 W Main St., Carlton OR.  Hours: Fri – Sun: 12 noon to 5pm.


The post Award at Watercolor Society Of Oregon’s Spring Experimental Exhibition appeared first on Margaret Stermer-Cox.

Paintings Showing At Linda Vista and Two Spring Daffodil Drawings

The daffodil: an early flower and symbol of hope; a nice way to end the month of March and start the month of April.

The Artist At Linda Vista, Ashland OR


Greetings! I would like to share with you an announcement about my latest art show. Plus, I have a couple of daffodil drawings to show you. You see, I thought they would be a nice way to close out the month of March and greet the month of April.

Stermer-Cox Artwork At Linda Vista

New Show:  Linda Vista (Ashland OR).

First up, I am pleased to announce that I have 18 paintings now hanging at Linda Vista Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Ashland, OR.  The wonderful people at Linda Vista will show my work through the month of June.

Displayed in the nursing facility’s lobby hallway, you may view the paintings during normal business visiting hours.  Linda Vista’s address is 135 Maple St., Ashland OR.

Some of you may recall, I displayed my artwork here before in late 2015 to early 2016.


I would like to acknowledge that this is an Art2Business show.  Let me elaborate.  Art2Business acts somewhat like an agent or go-between.  They facilitate the meeting of artists, art and venues.  In other words, Linda Vista has an arrangement with Art2Business. And they selected me, as one of the Art2Business artists, to show in their venue for approximately three months!

So, thank you Art2Business and Linda Vista!

Artist Statement.

I thought I’d share my artist statement with you.  First, though, it might be helpful to know that I curated my paintings to ensure a bright and cheerful collection.  In other words, I wanted to create a joyful display to greet patients, family members, visitors and staff.

I like to paint the joy of life and do so by including people, cats, ponies and coffee cups.  Drawn from imagination, these are the characters through which I like to show the wonderful, humorous side of life.

Naturally, bright colors and fun shapes help support the message of joy.

Stermer-Cox Artwork Linda Vista Long Walls

Daffodils In Bloom.

To begin with, the daffodils are in bloom these days in our Rogue Valley of Southern Oregon.  They have been blooming for a couple of weeks.  And, coincidentally, I have a few in my garden.  Such festive bright flowers in early spring.

On Drawing A Daffodil.

So, naturally, I thought I’d draw and paint them while they are still in bloom.  To my surprise, they are challenging to draw from life.  Their are a couple of issues, you see.  For one thing, there is the perspective of the corona or cup.   I chose to draw the flower with the cup in a nearly frontal position.  Its like looking down at a tube head on.

Daffodils: A Single Flower

Take the point of view and add on the fact that the flower is yellow and, then, you have an interesting challenge.  To explain, what color are the shadows of yellow flowers?  As I look at the flower, the colors look greenish or gray.  Hmmm, my mind does not want to paint a yellow flower greenish gray.  I will have to persuade it, that is my mind, to do so.

Also, parts of the yellow tend toward orange, and others, again, toward green.   In any case, its sometimes amazing to note that a seemingly simple subject like a daffodil has its challenges!

I did draw a different point of view on my iPadPro using the app Procreate.

Daffodil, Single Flower Digital Study M.Stermer-Cox Artist


Daffodil As Floral Symbol.

Sometimes when I’m drawing or painting a subject, I like to look up symbology, history and other small cultural “gee whiz” type facts.  For example, daffodils are a national flower for Wales.

The symbology and meaning of daffodils is complicated.  For example, one daffodil, like in my artworks, implies misfortune; OOPS!  I ought to add more!  Because, you see, multiple daffodils mean joy and happiness!  I guess one daffodil just looks lonely.

And, as you might gather, meaning and symbology varies with country, culture and history.  If you are intrigued by such floral messages, you might want to check The Daffodil Society of Great Britain.  Their blog has an interesting article about the language of flowers and the daffodil in particular.

So, with that, I leave you with two drawings of a single daffodil.  I hope that since there are two drawings then that counts as multiple daffodil.  Its about being joyful and happy!

The post Paintings Showing At Linda Vista and Two Spring Daffodil Drawings appeared first on Margaret Stermer-Cox.

Tools of The Artist’s Trade: Using Symbols To Enhance Meaning

Symbols, in my case, images or colors representing ideas, thoughts or emotions.

St. Patrick’s Day.

Hi!  Its “St. Patrick’s Day” weekend!  I have always understood this day to be one in which people of certain cultural descent honor St. Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland.

In the frame: Irish Breakfast Tea. Symbols

Of Celtic Descent.

Even though I am a descendent of Irish, Welsh and Scottish ancestors, I am not versed in the ins and outs of St. Patty’s Day.  Its been a couple hundred years since my ancestors left the isles, you see.

Memories Of St. Patty’s Day.

So, instead, I grew up with St. Patty’s Day being the day I dressed up in one of my many favorite colors: green.

Do you remember being pinched on St. Patrick’s Day if you didn’t wear green?  And, drawing endless shamrocks as part of grade school class projects?  I liked the drawing shamrock part.  However, I was sure to display lots of green to avoid getting pinched.

Celtic Celebration.

That being said, lets get back to more recent events.  To explain, about three years ago the local Rogue Gallery and Art Center started having a “Celtic Celebration Art Show”.  The show sparked my imagination and I started thinking about creating a painting.  But what subject and how?

Tea cups and Celtic mythical goddesses came to mind.  However, as you might imagine, its quite a road from idea to reality!

Internet Research.

Thank goodness for research and the tons of information available on the internet.  My favorite Celtic things include the wonderful knots and symbols.  So, I looked them up and went to work.

Sidebar:  Irish and Celts.

I think a quick sidebar is necessary here. To explain, the Irish are considered to be one of the Celtic cultures.  So, while the symbols I use may have an Irish meaning, they may be used by other peoples as well.  Furthermore, since the Celts have been around for a couple of millennia or so, the symbols may be found in many different countries.

Symbol Meanings Are Complicated.

In the two paintings shown here, I have included some Celtic symbols.  I’d like to share their meaning with you, however, please note, the descriptions are simplified.  Apparently, meaning for many Celtic symbols is complex.


Celtic Cymbols, Irish Breakfast Tea
Symbols Used in “Irish Breakfast Tea

For more, I invite you to look at the references listed at the bottom of this page.

What’s the Point?  Meaning!

So, what’s the point to all this discussion about symbols?  I wanted to incorporate symbols to give an extra layer of meaning to my painting.  True, the titles, plus the green color indicate that the paintings are about something or someone Irish.  The symbols just add another layer of meaning to discover.  Think of it this way, we get to share something like private messages together through the painting.

Green Is Complicated Too!

Speaking of green color.  As I stated before, meaning in Celtic symbols seems to be complicated.  And, apparently, so is the color green and its association with Ireland.

For example, when I was growing up, we all wore green on St. Patricks Day.  My point of reference is dominated by how Americans celebrate.  We wear green shamrocks or green hats, etc.  So, I made the logic leap that green is some sort of national color.

Is Green Ireland’s National Color?

The national flag of Ireland has green, white and orange.  Plus, I think of Ireland as the “Emerald Isles”.

And, yet, there is not an official national color apparently!


Also, as I learned in my research on line, the constitution of Ireland is encased in blue.  Even more, the Presidential standard is blue with a gold harp.  So, I wonder, would blue be a more appropriate color?

Again, Meaning?

So, what does this all have to do with art?  Well, if I’m using a particular color to convey meaning, I figure it helps to ensure a common understanding.  Otherwise, meaning is lost or in error.  So green it is because, as an American, that’s the color I link with Ireland.

Symbols: Irish Maiden

By the way, for a more in-depth description how I created, of “Irish Maiden”, please see my earlier blog posting:  Creating “Irish Maiden” from Start to Finish.

I’m glad I started out someone simple with all this symbolism.  I had an idea about doing a mythical Celtic goddess.  Maybe next year or so.  And, perhaps she’ll be blue!


References:  Celtic Symbol Meaning.

Saint Patrick’s Day – Wikipedia.  Celtic Knot Symbols – Meaning.  So you know Ireland’s national color might not be green, right?



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