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Pot of Clover

I have an affinity for 5×7 flat panel canvases. They are relatively inexpensive in a world of spendy art supplies. They make charming postcard paintings, one of my pet side projects.  But most of all, they are the secret sauce in my creativity equation.  Often a canvas looks too big, a project too long to complete, an email too complicated to start, a catalogue mailing too boring, taxes too daunting and the list goes on forever. A lot of us creatives love the starting line…but the finish…? Well, there was a cafe I had to sit down at, a house I had to clean, dogs to walk, cats to pat, texts to return, Netflix to consume, I mean really important things!!!

But the minis? They are petite and approachable and unbelievably satisfying to complete. They are my reminders that frequent small painting will propel me further than large intricate occasional dabbling. These little pieces keep the paint wet. They keep me sitting down at the easel. They make me smile because there is something so silly and frivolous and ok about painting a donkey or dandelion or pot of clover. Do I need them wall size? No. But the spark of joy these miniatures bring me is priceless.

Often it is the days I do a mini that I open the channel to start a larger project or complete a task that’s been lingering. They are also an excellent place to experiment with supplies and techniques. Composition, value, paint opacity, brush strokes. Sometimes I pay attention to these things, but often not. So much of painting is intuitive but when I use a small piece to execute a technique there is greater chance for me to slow down and practice.

People frequently ask me, do you paint every day? No. But I do paint almost every day and that has changed my life, changed my career, changed my joy level, changed my acceptance of my own work, changed my acceptance of other peoples work, so what I’m trying to say is that it has basically changed everything. xo

“Pot of Clover” 5×7″

P.S. Coming soon as direct result of these minis!
A beginner’s painting course: “Wait, Wait, I Don’t Paint: A Workshop for Beginners, the Curious, and the Creative.” No experience necessary.

Pink Roses

“I must have flowers, always and always.” Monet

Well, one could argue Monet was on to something. For me, the inspiration is endless, regenerative, serene, peaceful, easy, difficult, contemplative and familiar. I paint florals frequently not only because I love the beauty of them (and what a great excuse to buy fresh flowers) but also for the complexity. They continue to challenge and delight. There are florals I do that flow naturally, and those I really need to study and correct and deliberate over. As often as I create them, each one is unique.They are my teachers. My muse. My faithful inspiration. xo

“Pink Roses” 11×14″ SOLD


My garden is not really a garden. It’s a yard. Actually, it’s manicured dirt with some bushes. My house is on a hill, a steep ravine, so the backyard is more of a girls gone wild flower fest with things that bloom on their own time, mostly because it rains about 11 months of the year. The front has trees, bushes, one single rose plant that I bow down to every May, and a couple of rhodos that don’t do much. Not compared to the neighbors at least! I live in a gardening jurassic park neighborhood. Peonies are wild, not from Trader Joe’s. Lawns are the color of golf courses and daffodils sprout exactly the middle of March to let us know spring is really almost here even if you’re wearing a puffy. One of my neighbors has a sign, an adorable little sign, painted by her gardening club that her house is on the “tour”.

My garden, yard, area in front of house, does not look like that. It doesn’t look bad. It just doesn’t look like that. I have tried gardening several times. In the ground, in pots on the front porch, in pots on the back porch. I have a natural interest in flowers, I just don’t seem to have a natural interest in GROWING them. Fast forward record scratch over to my dandelions here. My dandelions, my sweet, airy hippie blowing in the wind dandelions, however, are growing so beautifully, so perfectly, I wanted to capture them. They are abundant and healthy. There are more of them every morning when I go outside. I’m oddly happy with them and have no intention (today) of cutting them down. I am a dandelion gardener. I picked some. I blew on a few. I made a wish. Then I painted my wish. xo

Steiff Donkey

I paint a lot. It is mostly my profession, my job, my hobby dare I say, one of my obsessions? And yet, the well can run dry. Or you just look at your canvases and think, nope, I can not paint one more flower. Or seascape. Or apothecary jar. Or..or…or.

I’m listening to “Theft by Finding” by David Sedaris right now and apart from my complete and utter devotion and undying love for him as a writer and satirist, I am in awe of his ability to chronicle the mundane and fascinating in his daily life. An apple, a chance encounter with a waitress, a taxi ride, anything, everything, is fodder for the ridiculous and sublime. I look at my world differently when I read him. I’ve always tended to see the world through slightly Seinfeld-ian glasses but Sedaris takes it to another level. His insights are sad, profound, hilarious, gross, loving, sensitive, profane and charming. And in walks my donkey.

I’m listening to Sedaris and I think, my version of chronicling my life, my diary as it were, are my paintings and subject matter. The minutiae of my world, the collections, the vintage treasures, the insights and humor I add. My miniature Steiff Donkey is one such nugget. He is a birthday present, purchased in Aajiic Mexico but presumably born in some German Steiff factory meticulously crafted 50 plus years ago. He is old, he is in mint condition. I love him and can’t explain why but the second I saw him in a thrift store the obsession was ON. A love like that bears memorializing in a portrait.

I’m reviewing my obsessions and deciding they are good things after all. They are the fuel. The scratch you must itch, the novel you must write, the donkey you must paint. xo

“Steiff Donkey” 5×7″ NFS

Its About Egg – Broken And Otherwise

Potato Salad Friday – With Egg

Hi and Good Friday To You!

I was making a potato salad this morning, with hard-boiled egg, and was thinking about the paintings I’ve been doing lately with eggs and egg cups. What is so special about eggs? I don’t really like eating just plain old eggs, though I do add them to food, such as potato salad and cake batter (yum!).

Broken Egg

Eggs On The Brain – Just Thinking

Do you have a “thing” about eggs? Or, better yet, have you ever thought about it?

Well, yes, I’ve thought about eggs a bit.

Breakfast With Mom:  Eggs

To explain, when I was growing up, eggs were a regular part of our breakfast. Three or four times a week Mom would serve us eggs and I didn’t like them.   But, I didn’t say a word because when breakfast was ready, it was eaten without complaint. I do come from a family of six kids and Mom didn’t have room for picky eaters.

Mom would poach, scramble, fry or three-minute soft boiled eggs. Three-minute cooking was among my preferred method for eating because then I could dunk my toast in the eggs. Remember soft, white “Wonder” bread? That type of bread was excellent for dunking toast.

Egg Cups

The other thing I particularly liked about three minute eggs was the cup it was served in. Mom and Dad purchased wooden egg cups when they were living in Spain. The cups were simple but they had a nice shape.  And, they were from Spain!

So, every time I draw or paint my egg shells and egg cups, I pay homage, just a little, to Mom and her three-minute eggs.

Oh, this egg cup is not one of my Mom’s Spanish ones.  I purchased it at one of the local grocery stores.  Still, I like it.

About the Painting

“Broken Egg” is an acrylic painting done on heavy weight watercolor paper. Its size is 6”(h) x 6.5”(w). The painting is available for purchase for the price of $175 (unframed) plus shipping and handling. Should you like to collect the painting, please contact me.


The post Its About Egg – Broken And Otherwise appeared first on Margaret Stermer-Cox.

Land and Sea

Sitting on a bench looking out at the ocean, a marina, a beach, a wharf; that is my slice of heaven and inspiration. Where the thoughts melt and the ideas have a chance to c a l m d o w n. This little piece of paradise is loosely based on Clover Point, a look out in Victoria, BC. Fresh and salty air, wind in the hair and the sound of seagulls. Home away from home. xo

“We need the tonic of wildness…At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.” 
Henry David Thoreau

“Clover Point” 11×17″ available at elizabethW Carmel ([email protected] for questions)

Deconstructing A Realistic Painting Toward Abstraction

Lessons Learned From Gabriel Mark Lipper’s Deconstructing Class.

For most of February and March of this year, I have participated in art instructor Gabriel Mark Lipper’s “Deconstructing a Painting” Class. Hmmm, I don’t recall if he actually had a title for the course. In any case, seems to me that we called it the deconstructing class or deconstruction for short.

I thought it would be a good idea to capture what we did and what lessons I learned while the class is fresh in my mind.  I would like to share with you the work I did to illustrate the process.

My other hope is that perhaps this article will inspire those of you who are painters to try this on your own. That is, if you haven’t done so already.

Deconstructing: Three Minute Egg Series


Deconstructing as defined in Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary:  “to take apart or examine in order to reveal the basis of composition…”

I interpret deconstructing or deconstruction to mean to simplify, re-arrange and generally have a good time seeing what I can do with paint.

What We Did.

The idea was to go from realism toward abstraction in a series of paintings.

Deconstruct: Three Minute Egg Project

To explain, we were all tasked with coming up with a reference still life or photo to use as a starting point. If using a reference photo, it could be anything from a still life to a figure or landscape, for instance. The idea was that the source material be from life.  I ended up using a photo of a still life I set up on my breadboard.

Week One.

The assignment for the first week was to paint a realistic painting of our subject as accurately as possible. The idea behind the accuracy is that you are investigating and studying your subject through the painting. This was our start point.

Deconstructing: Three Minute Egg 3&4

Week Two.

For the second week, we put away your initial reference material and used only the first painting for reference.   We created a second painting of the same subject.

Week Three and Subsequent Weeks:

Same as week two, only using the previous week’s painting as your reference material.


  • Generally speaking, we kept our canvas or paper the same size and orientation (vertical or horizontal) throughout the class.
  • Honor among artists, we were encouraged not to consult previous paintings to find solutions to problems.
  • It was OK to change color or value patterns.
  • Simplification and abstracting encouraged.
  • Pushing your boundaries and abilities was the idea; take risks!

Deconstructing: V4&5 Three Min Egg

Let the Deconstructing Magic Begin.

As Gabriel pointed out, by the third painting, one starts to want to explore possibilities. I felt the urge to dive in though it was a bit scary. You might say “ well, its just a painting”, and that’s a great way to think about it. The trouble is that you are stepping out of your comfort zone. The magic of deconstruction starts to happen when you realize the sooner you take the plunge the better.

Being excited to jump in, I came to class with an idea and went for it. I will admit that I had been looking at one of my books on Cubism and it had sparked an idea. I added a rectangle around a couple of the items in my still life and that changed everything.

The other thing I did was not dither or dwell on having a fully conceived drawing before I started. Wow! Was that ever different! I gave myself time to quickly outline my subject then started working with a paintbrush. For week five, Gabriel even brought out palette and putty knives. The difference in paint application added another dimension, and risk!

Lessons Learned:

  • It is exciting to push your own limits and comfort zone in painting.  In this case, taking risk is good!
  • I found it interesting and completely engaging having to react to each mark on the paper.
  • Imposing limits, like a limited palette or value range, ends up being empowering. Or, maybe it was just easier because it freed me to consider the entire design elements.
  • This is a great way to approach learning about abstraction.
  • I think each of us has learned something about what we like and who we are as artists.
  • Deconstructing a painting is somewhat different from the theme and variation that I have done before.  The sequence of using your first painting as your source material for your second; second for third and so on helps reinforce the idea of getting to understand the construction of the subject through simplification and abstraction.

Deconstructing: v6&7


I was thinking that it is indeed easier to leap into the unknown when one is in a classroom environment. Gabriel was excellent in coaching us through the process. He encouraged us to try things. He guided us through design problems and considerations. Gabriel was as enthused about our work as we were.

Oddly enough, I think one of the interesting things that Gabriel did was not do a demo of deconstructing a painting during our class. The reason I thought it was a good idea (after the first week) was that we were forced to use our own resources to figure out how to deconstruct.

You see, during the first couple of weeks, I wanted to see what Gabriel was doing so I could get an idea about where to go. In other words, I wanted to see his solutions to the deconstruction problem. But, instead, I had to use my own mental resources. I had to struggle until I dove in to the work and tried things.

Just to clarify, Gabriel did a lot of instruction, especially one-on-one. He also inspired us to stretch ourselves and then work outside of our comfort zone.

Oh, and our fellow classmates.  Their work was equally as inspiring and insightful.  We  each solved our deconstruction problems in different ways.

Deconstructing: The Three Minute Egg Project


Now What?

Do this process on my own. I would imagine that this is a great process to use from time to time. The work encourages examining your own process, esthetic and limitations. Plus, its great fun to plunge in and do things you thought you might like to try and never got around to doing.

My other thought was that going through this kind of exercise periodically might keep an artist from getting stale. Also, you might find some of your own little quirks. For example, I tend to create shapes that are the same size, sort of like soldiers in a formation. By questioning the habit, I may better employ it when it’s useful. Otherwise, variety in shape sizes is something I might want to watch purposely.


Yes, I would wholeheartedly recommend to fellow artists to either take Gabriel’s deconstructing class should he do it again. His expertise, especially his knowledge of what makes a good painting, is invaluable.

For those of us who don’t live in southern Oregon, perhaps you might want to go through a deconstruction exercise on your own.   Or, maybe you have a friend that will do it along side of you so you can encourage each other.  I suggest that the lessons learned are well worth the time invested!

Gabriel Lipper & Dog Max Deconstructing

Update: Post Deconstructing Class.

I am continuing to work on my own. I have seen the benefits and find it exciting.  You might notice “Three Minute Egg v8”, its a work in progress.  I’m deconstructing on my own.

Invitation To Share.

I would love to hear from you; please feel free to leave a comment.  For those of you who have done a deconstruction series, I’d enjoy seeing a sample of your work!  Matter of fact, I’d love seeing a sample of your work regardless!

Thank you!


The post Deconstructing A Realistic Painting Toward Abstraction appeared first on Margaret Stermer-Cox.

March 2017 at Art du Jour Gallery

March 2017 at Art du Jour Gallery

Queen Print by Doug Wallace at Art du Jour Gallery Salon March 2017     middle falls, by Connie Fribance

Doug Wallace’s Eclectic Art, Connie Fribance’s Oils, and “Discovering Southern Oregon” Contest Art on Display!

During March 2017 at Art du Jour Gallery, we continue our presentation of guest artist Doug Wallace’s eclectic realm of Byzantine queens and mythical maidens.  “Looking back down the tunnel of time,” Doug says, “scrolling through the historical archives of what has interested me artistically for most of my life, I always find a bit of the fantastic in all that I do…and nothing is ever completely realistic.”

His art eludes conventional description.  “The inspirational references for my paintings are many: Gothic, Pre-Raphaelite, Byzantine, religious icons, mythology, fairytales, book illustrators, and dreams.  Surrealism has also played a part in my creative thinking.”  He says, however, that if he were forced to categorize his paintings, he might call them “Eclectic Romanticism, or Theatrical Gothic.”

Roses by Doug Wallace

Roses by Doug Wallace

Doug prefers to work in oils, and it’s the human form that fuels his passion.  He studied art at the Atlanta School of Arts for a year, and after attending Georgia State University, he worked briefly as a psychotherapist.  The compelling call of art led him to Hollywood where he became an actor, screen writer and novelist.  He studied film making at UCLA and LA City College.  After nearly two decades of show biz, he moved to Ashland and began to paint professionally.  “I didn’t leave my writing completely behind,” he explains.  “I have written two published novels since arriving in Ashland [five years ago], A Force of Will, A Shakespearean Fantasy Adventure, and Phase Out, a futuristic thriller.  But painting remains one of the great loves of my life.”

Oil Painter Connie Fribance is Featured Artist this March at Art du Jour Gallery in Medford, Oregon

Oil Painter Connie Fribance is Featured Artist

Seven oil paintings by Art du Jour Gallery member Connie Fribance grace our feature wall this month.  Connie has always enjoyed creating art with pencil, charcoal and stained glass, and after her retirement, she enrolled in formal art classes in Medford.  She most enjoys oil painting, inspired by the colors and illuminations that she can create with her brush.

Connie draws her ideas from the natural beauty of the places she has visited.  “I see beauty in things that are common.  My goal is to put this on my canvas to share with others.  I want the viewers of my work to experience a visual emotion and a connection where they can see and realize the beauty in life that surrounds them.”

Connie did her painting “Middle Falls” along the McCloud River in Northern California while she was taking a plein air workshop with PBS artist Stefan Baumann.  “Louie’s Meadow,” another of her oils on the gallery’s feature wall, was also painted on site.  “I was looking for a stream or a pond to paint, but I couldn’t find that perfect spot.  When I turned the car around to head home, there was this meadow.  The late summer colors and long shadows were beautiful, so I set up my easel and painted this lovely scene.”  More paintings can be seen on Connie’s website at

We invite you to visit Art du Jour during March to delight in Connie’s beautiful artwork.

Vote for Your Favorite “Discover Southern Oregon” Artwork! 

A $50 prize and a “People’s Choice” ribbon await the winner of our “Discovering Southern Oregon” art contest and the winner is up to you!  Contest artwork will be on display during March and we encourage you to drop by the gallery and vote for your favorite!

New Artist-Members Welcome!

Art du Jour Gallery welcomes artists of any medium to apply for membership in our artists’ cooperative.  We have display space for you in our fine art gallery and invite you to visit Art du Jour at 213 E. Main Street in Medford and fill out an application.  Bring in three or four gallery-ready examples of your work for jurying.  Come join us!  (541) 770-3190.

Third Friday

Join us at Art du Jour Gallery, 213 E. Main Street in Medford, on Friday, March 17th, 5 – 8 p.m., to meet special guest artist Doug Wallace, featured Art du Jour artist Connie Fribance and other gallery artists as well.  Our reception will include the soothing guitar, keyboard and flute music of Minstrel Streams.  Appetizers, wine and cider will be served.  Regular gallery hours are 10 – 4, Tuesday – Saturday.  For more information, call (541) 770-3190.

Art Du Jour gallery logo

213 E. Main Street

Medford, OR 97540

(541) 770-3190 (Tues.-Sat., 10-4)

Contact:  Susie Lee

(541) 512-9332

SOAR Welcomes Kj Cumberbatch!

Revolution II, acrylic painting of a wave by Kj Cumberbatch

Revolution II, by Kj Cumberbatch

The Southern Oregon Artists Resource is excited to introduce artist Kj Cumberbatch of Medford to the Visual Artists directory!

Kj Cumberbatch

Born in 1975, Kj Cumberbatch has been painting for over 25 years, selling many paintings and commissions in the process. However, Cumberbatch’s current exhibition of large acrylic paintings at GoodBean Coffee in Jacksonville is the first public display of his art. Subjects in his current works center around animals and the natural world. Each painting is very impressive both in style and size…the smallest is 36″ x 36″. While we love them all, our favorite is the (roughly) 79″ x 46″ [R]evolution II, painted in 2016-2017. These large-format works are perfect for hanging in large spaces, whether a home, business or nonprofit, or public space. If you’re in the market for such works, catch his show before it ends on February 28, 2017. Contact the GoodBean’s art curator Hannah West at 541-899-2012 or email [email protected] to inquire and make your purchase.

In addition to his love of visual art, Kj also studied audio engineering/ and composition at the The Art Institute of Seattle from 1995 to 1997.

While the works we see now are all acrylics, Kj paints in gouache and transparent watercolor as well. He also creates drawings in pencil, graphite, and ink as well as digital renderings. Interested in a large painting but don’t find what you want on the walls of the GoodBean? Contact Kj to discuss a commission. He will be happy to create the perfect piece to adorn the empty wall that needs color and movement to make your room complete. Be sure to allow enough time if you want your piece completed for a special event, however. These large paintings do take time, and he has a day job that limits his painting time somewhat.

Please visit Kj Cumberbatch’s new listing, then follow the link to his Facebook page to make contact and learn more about his work.

Medford Sneak Preview Poll – Pegi Smith is Favorite Local Artist

Medford Sneak Preview Choose Pegi Smith favorite local artist

In a recent Medford Sneak Preview poll, their readers named Pegi Smith Favorite Local Artist in the February 2017 issue! She is so grateful to receive this kind of recognition from local art enthusiasts. Smith is in good company too—congratulations to Cheryl D. Garcia and Julie Veronneau, who also made the list.

Medford Sneak Preview Poll : Image of a clipping from the Medford Sneak Peek, declaring Pegi Smith to be Southern Oregons Favorite Artist

The post Medford Sneak Preview Poll – Pegi Smith is Favorite Local Artist appeared first on Pegi Smith.