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Blogging and Painting: Day 23 Espresso Time-R V3, #30paintingsin30days

Blogging; it just occurred to me that this challenge has been almost as much about writing these blog post as it has been about painting.  That is, at least for me.

Day 23:  “Espresso Timer-V3”.

Greetings!  Welcome to day 23 of #30paintingsin30days.  And, for today, I present another version of “Espresso Time-R”.  This time, the still life is painted with a purple and gold complimentary color combination.  My aim was to make the timer the main subject and center of interest.  You might notice that it is the area that is bright and warm colored.

Blogging! Day 22 of 23; Painting 23 of #30paintingsin30days challenge

Blog:  22 of 23 Days!

However, I would like to talk about blogging this past three weeks.  As I sat down to my computer, it dawned on my that I have written a blog post 22 of the 23 days this month.  There was one post where I combined two days.  Otherwise, its been a new post each day.

Wow!  It has been quite awhile since I have blogged almost daily!  I needed to take a pause and think about it a moment.

Challenge: Painting And Blogging!

You see,when I decided to accept the challenge, I figured I would just write a paragraph or two.  Maybe a hundred words or so in the blog.

However, that has not been the case!  On most days, I write at least 300 words.  Did you know I had so much to say?  I didn’t think so.  Maybe, I’m just a bit obsessed.

It Takes Skills.

Except, hmm, lets think about it a moment.  Drawing and painting are skill intense activities.  That includes mental as well as physical skill.  Oops, I don’t want to digress to much about skills other than to say it takes a robust skill set to draw and paint.

Its About Sharing Experiences.

And, eventually, many of us like to share our thoughts and experiences about learning this skill set.  Hence a platform like a blog; that is to say it comes in handy talking about everything we know, don’t know, dream about or aspire to.

Daily Writing Studies.

Another point about blogging is that these daily essays are somewhat like the studies I am painting.  I have only a general idea (if that) about what I’m going to write as I approach the computer.

Sidebar, Yes, I’m not one of the sophisticated bloggers who has a schedule knocked out six months in advance.  Something to aspire to be in the future.

Instead, I’m writing it as I see, feel and experience each day of this painting challenge.

Commitment and Work!

So, its two studies per day:  one painting, one writing.  Now, that is some commitment and work!

On the plus side, and why I would recommend such a challenge, is that is requires commitment and work.  That is to say, its an intensive period of study.

Put simply: its all good.

Now, for some coffee!

By the way, if you are reading this posting and have made it to the end, please leave a comment and tell me, are you a blogger?

Warm regards!




The post Blogging and Painting: Day 23 Espresso Time-R V3, #30paintingsin30days appeared first on Margaret Stermer-Cox.

Surprise! Frothing Pitcher & Espresso Cups; Day 22 of #30paintingsin30days Challenge.

Surprise – as in something unexpected.

Different Intentions…

Greetings!  Yes, today’s painting is a bit of a surprise to me!

To explain, my intention was to create a painting with my frothing pitcher, espresso cup and timer.  I had an image in my mind as I started drawing with the paint brush on my paper.

Surprise! Frothing Pitcher & Espresso Cups

Surprise!  What’s This?

After a short while, I noticed an image emerging on the paper that I was not expecting.

You see, I was accidentally painting a soft edge composition that looked kind of nice.

Hmmm.  It had potential, I’m thinking.  Can I bring this surprise “home”, that is –  to completion?

To Keep Working Or Finish?

As you might imagine, I was in a quandary; I didn’t want to over-work and destroy this unexpected painting.  How to keep it fresh?

Do you know what saved the process?  The knowledge that I can do another one!

So, I did as little as possible to finish in order to bring the painting to a “finished” state.  Or, more accurately, a state that I would like to leave the painting in for further contemplation.

Lessons Learned.

Surprisingly enough, there are some lessons to be learned with today’s composition.

  • Be mindful and watch as your work unfolds; sometimes surprises happen!
  • Be willing to allow intuition guide your process; you might be delighted.
  • Be willing to stop where you are and to start another painting; sometimes you end up with two paintings instead of one!
  • Be willing to paint lots of paintings; you just might amaze yourself and others!

In the end. I liked today’s study, though I hesitate to call it a “break through” just yet.

However, the painting points to a new avenue of discovery.  That is to say, a more fuzzy and moody approach to painting.  And, isn’t that one of the benefits of a challenge like this?

To explain, by doing lots of studies in a short amount of time, eventually something surprising might happen!  And, isn’t that great?

Where’s the Center of Interest?

I am referring to yesterday’s article about center of interest.  In theory, some of these composition ideas ought to be cumulative!

So, what area in the painting looks like the center of interest or focal point to you?  I have in mind a certain location but am wondering if it reads the same to you.  If you would like,  please leave me a comment with the location that draws your attention.  Thanks!


The post Surprise! Frothing Pitcher & Espresso Cups; Day 22 of #30paintingsin30days Challenge. appeared first on Margaret Stermer-Cox.

Center Of Interest: Day 21 Cappuccino V9 #30paintingsin30days

Center of interest – that is the area that I would like you to look at in a drawing or painting.  Put another way, it attracts your attention.

“Cappuccino V9”.

Center of Interest: Cappuccino V9

Greetings!  And, here we are at day 21 of #30paintingsin30days!  Add to that the ninth cappuccino study!  Is it getting to feel routine to you?  It is a bit to me.

However, I think appearances can sometimes be misleading.  Or, at least there are subtle difference.  What I mean to say is that there are some differences in the painting today.

Regarding Differences.

Immediately, you may notice that this is a mainly orange colored painting rather than the blue dominated pieces I’ve been showing.  I had to change my color emphasis; don’t want to get into too much of a rut.

Composition:  Center of Interest.

Also, I have been thinking that I need to purposely stretch my composition skills.

One area I think that I don’t pay enough attention to is the design’s “center of interest” or emphasis.   So, time to give it some thought.  Since the series is about cappuccino, it seemed like a good idea to emphasize the cup.

How To Emphasize?

How to create a center of interest might be the natural next question. In this case, I created contrast in color: a light blue surrounded by its compliment of orangish color.  You might notice that the rest of the painting only has touches or hints of blue.

The other device that I used was to “glaze”, or paint a thin coat of transparent orange over most of the rest of the painting.  To elaborate, the orange glaze unifies the other parts of the painting.  Plus, it reduces contrast.

So, there we are, “Cappuccino V9” in orange.  Pumpkin cappuccino, do you figure?

References for further reading on composition.

Wikipedia:  Composition (Visual Arts).

Sophia:  Design in Art:  Emphasis, Variety and Unity.


The post Center Of Interest: Day 21 Cappuccino V9 #30paintingsin30days appeared first on Margaret Stermer-Cox.

Artist Powers – Activate! Join The Fandemonium At Central Art

Artist Powers – Activate! Join The Fandemonium At Central Art This Thursday!
Central                                                          Art Logo

In honor of Medford Comic Con,

Join the “Fandemonium” at Central Art Supply!

During this FREE 3-part event, you are invited to don your creative cape and cowl as you prepare for Medford Comic Con & Central Art’s Fan Art Contest 2018!


Thursday, February 22nd, 4:30-6:00pm – Session 1: “Origins”
Never heard of “Fan Art?” Maybe you have, but need some inspiration to get started. Whether you’re a Sidekick or Superfan, this informal uninstructed intro to the Fan Art phenomenon is your golden opportunity to unleash your untapped powers and create something extraordinary!


Saturday, March 10th, 2:30-4:00pm – Session 2: “Of Capes & Canvas”
You’ve laid the foundation for your Fan Art concept. Now’s your chance to hit it with a bold splash of color an make it burst from the page with a pastel, pen or brush! What medium will you choose?


Thursday, March 29th, 4:00-5:00pm – Session 3: “Doing Art Justice”
Fulfill your creation’s destiny! Let Central Art’s classroom be your creative “Fortress of Solitude” to add those final touches to give some POW! and ZAP! to your creative vision before you submit the finished product.


*Limited art supplies available for use during this event.
Be sure to bring your own!


Deadline for entries is 4:00pm, Saturday, March 31st, 2018. Artwork must be submitted with completed entry form to:


Central Art, 101 North Central Avenue, Medford, Oregon 97501


If you have any further questions, please email [email protected]

Blue! Day 20: Espresso Time-R V2; #30paintingsin30days

Cool blue; too much of a good thing?

Day 20: Its Blue-ish!

Blue: Espresso Timer V2

Greetings!  Its day 20 of the #30paintingsin30days challenge.  At the moment, I’m looking at today’s piece and its mainly blue.  You see, I’m wondering, am I going through a “blue period”?

It is February after all and here in southern Oregon, the days are cold.  So, perhaps there is a reason for all this cool, dark blue.

And, as I write this blog post, I’m listening to the blues of Jimi Hendrix.  Definitely a blue state of mind!


Do you recognize the set up from two days ago, Day 18?  In any case, the set up for today’s still life is mainly black, gray and white.  But, it takes a lot of color to paint something black, gray and white.

For example, I like to mix my dark and black colors.  You could say that for most of my colors: when working with acrylic I’ve been mixing lots!  Colors straight from the tube can be harsh or garish.  Therefore, I think its best to modulate the color somewhat.

Back to today’s still life, I knew I wanted a yellowish warm, sort of like the light from the lamp I’m using.  Being that the compliment of yellow is violet or purple, I mixed magenta with Prussian blue.  Can you tell?  Neither can I!

Me thinks that the Prussian blue over-powered the magenta.

Ah, well, the contrast works.  PLUS, I can always do it again.

Regarding The Studies.

I have in the back of my mind that I will be working a new series after this challenge is done.  However, these cappuccinos, espressos and timers may all figure in.  I’m contemplating!

You may recall, for example, that I completed the first version of “Espresso Time-R” back in November.  Lots of contemplation, don’t you think?  As you might imagine, it was blue too.  Hmmmm!

I do like the color.

Plus, I find drawing and painting cups from life difficult.  So, I’m working on the things that are hard for me!  The good part is that I surprise myself when the results look like a cup!

Ten More Days!

Here we are, then, Day 20!  Just ten days left in this challenge.  Add the previous 31 day challenge, its been quite the work out!

‘Til tomorrow!







The post Blue! Day 20: Espresso Time-R V2; #30paintingsin30days appeared first on Margaret Stermer-Cox.

Alla Prima; Day 19, Cappuccino V8: #30paintingsin30days

Alla Prima, an Italian word which means getting a painting done in one session or before the painting dries.

One Session Painting!

Greetings!  Today’s painting was an exercise in “getting in done – now!”

alla prima: Cappuccino V8

To explain, I usually work my paintings over multiple sessions.  In between, the painting is allowed to dry.  Furthermore, my mind is allowed to think and contemplate the painting.

Not the situation today!  You see, I started my painting late.  True, I started the painting yesterday.  Using a white charcoal pencil, I laid out the painting on a prepared piece of watercolor paper.

Paper Prepared.

I digress a minute to say that I prepare the painting with a layer of gesso (primer and ground).  Then, once the gesso is dry, I lay down some layers of paint just to tone the paper and get the right feel.

Alla Prima Painting Time!

So, back to the state of my painting.  I had a rough drawing, but that was about it.  And, with only an hour and a half or so to work, I needed to get busy!  I was allotted one session.

I would love to tell you that it was a glorious start and the painting unfolded like a it was some sort of natural process.  No, rather, it was the usual struggle condensed into 90 minutes.

This is as close to “alla prima” that I get.  I must say that it was enjoyable, once I got into the painting process.  As you might imagine, I had to think quickly on my feet.


So, I am using quick drying acrylic paint.  However, I think a few things that helped ensure I could finish the painting in one session.  I might even say they could be “tips”.  Anyway, here’s some techniques that helped.

  • Prepare the paper (canvas) with gesso and a toned ground ahead of time.
  • I use Golden’s acrylic glaze medium to keep the paint from drying to quickly.
  • I had a design scheme in mind and worked the scheme first, laying out the values (darks and lights) early in the painting process.
  • Worked dark to light.

About the Design.

You might notice that I have used one of my favorite composition schemes, a sort of diagonal grid.  The dark shapes start at the upper left then work down to lower right.

Why use this design?  I needed a diagonal to relieve the blocky shapes I’d created.

Put another way, I like to alternate the lights and darks.  Plus, the diagonal direction helps move the eye around the ways.

So, What To Think?

I think I need to try working alla prima again!  I liked the focus required to complete a painting in one sitting.  The ideas stay fresh.  In other words, less fussing!


The post Alla Prima; Day 19, Cappuccino V8: #30paintingsin30days appeared first on Margaret Stermer-Cox.

Its About Learning; Day 18 #30paintingsin30days Espresso Time-R Study

What I’m learning today:  how to paint with watercolors while standing at an easel. 

Learning: Watercolor & Vertical Easel.

Learning: Study, Espresso Cup and Timer
Day 18, #30paintingsin30days. Painted vertically at the easel.

Greetings!  And, may I say there is much to be learned while painting on paper held vertical by an easel.  My usual mode is more horizontal.

What do you need to learn, you might ask.  How to control drippy, runny watercolor paint, for one thing!

And why paint vertically with watercolor paints?  Because you can move your shoulder better which makes drawing and painting from life easier.  Also, you can see your subject as well as your paper (canvas) at the same time.

As if that wasn’t enough to learn how to do, I’m also trying a new watercolor brush that is about twice as long as my other brushes.

Sometimes, you just have to jump in, experiment and learn.

Learning: Value Study

New Watercolor Brush Too.

See, most of my watercolor brush handles are around six inches or less.  My new Escoda Size 14 Optima Kolinsky round sable brush has a ten inch handle.  Its so long, I haven’t been able to use it while painting horizontally.  You see, I keep hitting myself in the chest or shoulder because I get too close to the paper.

So, I’m using my wonderful new brush while painting with my paper being held vertically by the easel.  The advantage?  I can stand back far enough that I can see my still life and my watercolor paper at the same time.

But, control is a bit more difficult for me.  At least for the time being; things are loose!

Painting Tip.

Here’s a tip for you, then.  Do you want to paint loose?  Try a big brush with a long handle.  Chances are your default mode will be loose!

Take Away:  Try New Things.

OK.  So what’s the take away?  I figure a big part of learning is trying new things.  Using the bigger brush and painting vertically are two big skills I’d like to have.  So, here’s to learning something new!

About Today’s Art Works.

Learning: Espresso Cup & Timer Study

For today’s “#30paintingsin30days challenge, I have two watercolor and one graphite value studies.  The subject is familiar: and espresso cup and timer.

I did an extra watercolor study so I could be working while the other one was drying.   As you might guess, it keeps me busy and thinking!

I’m also trying different compositions to make the subject more interesting.  Or, just to see what happens.  Plus, I tried to different color combinations to see what I like. Need I say it?  Its all about learning!

PS.  Why The Long Handle?

You might wonder why I have this big brush with such a long handle.  The truth is, I wasn’t paying attention to handle length when I purchased it.  I just wanted a new size 14 sable brush.  It wasn’t until I bumped my shoulder the first time that I realized it was much longer than normal!

Ah, well, learning how to handle it will make me a better painter, me thinks!


The post Its About Learning; Day 18 #30paintingsin30days Espresso Time-R Study appeared first on Margaret Stermer-Cox.

Cartoons; Day 17 of #30paintingsin30days: Oregon Cowboy

Cartoons, comics and funnies; I’ve loved them for almost as long as I can remember.

My Cartoons.

Greetings!  Today I would like to share with you a couple of the cartoon characters I’ve drawn in the past few years.

To explain, from time to time I create cartoons, usually for special occasions and with specific people in mind.  And, yet, other times I draw them just for fun, usually with a ball point pen.

Cartoons: Oregon Cowboy

Cartoons, Comics, Funnies & Animated Films.

Before I continue, a word or two about the definitions of cartoon, comics and funnies…because the words are used interchangeably.  Put another way, sometimes I get confused about the terms.

  • Cartoon.  Usually a single panel or perhaps less than four panels.  This word has been around a few centuries.  Many of my preparatory drawings, for example, are cartoons.  That is to say, they’re single panel drawings.
  • Comics.  Refers to multiple panels, or drawings in sequence.  So, the above mentioned four panel series of drawings are a comic strip, cartoon strip or sometimes referred to as comics.
  • Funnies.  What we used to call the comic strips in newspapers.  Many were funny, though not all.
  • Animated film or movies.  What I used to call cartoons when growing up.  Perhaps because cartoonists were used to draw the animated films, or because of the visual similarities, animated films (animation) were often called cartoons.  I certainly call them cartoons!

Favorites.  Or Rather, Influences?

I imagine that I am like many people.  That is to say, I grew up reading comics in the newspapers or in comic books.  My parents had a few of the classics in the house including Peanuts, Pogo and Krazy Kat books in their library.

I also loved cartoons, that is animated movies, from Bugs Bunny to Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

In the 1960s and 1970s my parents subscribed to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Silver City Daily Press. I devoured the comics pages.  Weekend editions were prized for the color comic pages.  I can remember Doonesbury hitting the newspapers in the 1970s.  I thought his drawings were rough at the beginning; I liked it!

Cartoons: Hey Dude!

Back to Today.

Oh, what’s the point?  I love cartoons, comics, funnies and animation.  So, its not surprising that I like to draw my own characters.

What do you think?  Do you suppose that its any surprise that I like create simplified figures in my paintings?

So, today’s figures are of an Oregon Cowboy and his grandfather “Hey Dude” (a personal favorite).  At least, they are related in my mind!

I hope you enjoy my characters and paintings for #30paintingsin30days!

References And Related Articles:

James Gurney, The Other Abstract Art Movement.

Wikipedia for definitions and background on the terms comic, cartoon, funnies and animated film.

Mel Birnkrant, Reflections In A Pie-Cut Eye, Part II.


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Problem Solving; Day 16 #30paintingsin30days; Groovin’ With Cappuccino V7

Painting is about problem solving; kind of like one and one equals two.

That is to say, you work until problems are solved and the painting is in balance.

Problem Solving & Painting.

Greetings!  Today I’d like to talk a bit about problem solving and painting.  Not sure I’ve done so before.  I will use today’s #30paintingsin30days acrylic study as an example.

Problem Solving; Cappuccino V7
Completed state.

Painting “Cycle”.

You see, its been my observation that painting has a sort of cycle.  Its starts with a great idea, or maybe a spark of imagination.

Then, because it only happens when you get it on a piece of paper or canvas, you start to work.  You lay out your design, block in shapes and lines.  Work your value patterns and colors.

And, somewhere along the line, you start grooving to the process and just paint; you’re in the “flow”.

Still later, you realize you’re in the adjusting and fixing phase.  That is to say, problem solving until all is resolved and the painting is in balance.

Balancing Act.

What I’m trying to describe in a round about way is that painting becomes a balancing act of adding then adjusting; acting then reacting; teeter and totter.

Natural & Intuitive.

In other words, problem solving.  I think that when I’m in the flow of painting, the issues and resolutions of problem solving is intuitive and fast.


Problem Solving: Cappuccino V7
Work in Progress: Middle state.

Problem: Subject and Ground Relationship.  Take today’s painting, if you will.  You see I’ve been working on it for awhile and have an issue: the background (ground) and the objects (subject) do not relate to each other.  To clarify, ground is dark transparent paint; the subject is light opaque paint.

There is nothing wrong, per se, with a dark transparent background or a light, opaque subject.  That is, if they relate to each other.  So, how do I make them relate?

Option One.  My first option was to use the same color of paint for background and objects.  Oh; that was the state the painting was in.

Option Two.  I could just paint the background medium to dark opaque colors.  However, I’ve done that already; I’m in the mood to stretch my abilities.

Options Three.  So, we work some transparent color on the objects.  Woohoo!

Stretches the Imagination!  Well, in the final version, it sort of looks like a cup of “hippy-dippy” psychedelic cappuccino.  Really; maybe its the latest strawberry, white chocolate, caramel, blueberry, cinnamon, nutmeg, pineapple, pumpkin, lemon and lime mocha cappuccino, with sprinkles and wrinkles on top.  Care to join me for a cup?

Reaching End State.

Back to one and one equals two: one blue plus one orange equals two colors.

More directly, problem solving is done when all parts of the painting are balanced.  That is to say you can neither add nor subtract without changing everything.  At this point, it is time to move on to the next painting.  This problem is solved!



The post Problem Solving; Day 16 #30paintingsin30days; Groovin’ With Cappuccino V7 appeared first on Margaret Stermer-Cox.

A Bit Of Humor; Day 15 #30paintingsin30days Challenge. Ms LemonDrop Enjoys Espresso

Maybe a touch of gentle humor is just what’s needed.

A Need For Humor.

Greetings!  I’d like to share with you a some thoughts on humor, composition and Ms. LemonDrop.

Humor: Meet Ms LemonDrop.
Day 15 #30paintingsin30days.

To explain, I seem to find a bit of humor irresistible from time to time.  In a way, I think this penchant for adding whimsical elements to be contradictory to my intentions.

You see, I want to be taken as a “serious” artist, whatever vague notion that implies. And, at the same time, I add kitties, ponies, or, as in the case, Ms. LemonDrop.  In other words, silly things.

On the plus side, maybe we need more “gentle humor”.   You know, the quiet kind that brings a smile and reminds one of the joy of life.

Ms. LemonDrop: A Necessary Shape.

That being said, can you image this little watercolor and color painting without my little toy, Ms. LemonDrop?  As I was drawing my design, I wondered what to do about that area.  It was empty and boring.  However, it was supposed to be about the espresso cup and timer.

Then, looking over at my still life table, I spied the little toy.

Composition Saved.

As I see it, Ms. Lemon Drop was just begging to be included.  And, who am I to disappoint?

Ms. LemonDrop added just the shape needed to engage the lower right.  Come to think of it, did you notice the triangle created by the three objects?

Anyway, Ms. Lemon Drop rescued my composition.

A Gift That Endures.

I would like to share one final thing about Ms. LemonDrop.  My Mother gave me the small toy at least 25 years ago.  You see, it was just a little silly something added to a gift package.

And, yet, I have carried it with me all these years.  Plus, the toy appears is lots of drawings and small paintings.  In other words, it has become something I treasure and it always makes me think of Mom.

A Smile or a Chuckle.

So, I hope that Ms. LemonDrop and her Espresso Time-R bring a smile, a chuckle, or some gentle humor to your day.

Warmest regards.



The post A Bit Of Humor; Day 15 #30paintingsin30days Challenge. Ms LemonDrop Enjoys Espresso appeared first on Margaret Stermer-Cox.