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Serenity, Anyone?

In the 1980s, my grandmother had the Serenity Prayer decoupaged and hung in her guest bedroom. When my cousins and I had sleepovers as kids, I always marveled at its simple, rhythmic request:  

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, 

courage to change the things I can, 

and the wisdom to know the difference.


I typed those lines from childhood memory. That prayer has been with me ever since. Even as a gradeschooler, I knew my life-long goal was serenity in a chaotic world. 


Decades later, I discovered the Enneagram. I know it’s all the rage right now, but for good reason; its pegs humanity’s nine personality types through the core beliefs of the types, the wounds they suffer from, and the healing they seek. 


I’m a number One: The Reformer. I want to make this world a better, more beautiful place. Which is a teensy bit exhausting and mostly impossible. Zero surprise that the life pursuit of a One is serenity. Can we say #challenge?


This year, we need the Serenity Prayer not just as a decoupage over the guest bed, but as cosmic light show illuminating our dark skies.


A few nights after the Oregon fires had ravaged friends’ homes just miles away, and another news cycle featuring Angry Everybody made me want to move to the Yukon Territory without the Internet, I found myself awake in the wee hours, whispering the Serenity Prayer over and over again until—much later—I finally fell back asleep. 


Honestly, the more authentic version of that prayer often sounds like the character George Costanza from Seinfeld screaming, “Serenity Now!” 


We can yell two words. 


We can whisper three lines over and over. 


May we pray the prayers. May we also do the work to heal our own wounds so that we don’t wound others from our unresolved pain and so that we can bring our healthy selves to serve a hurting world from a place of forgiven wholeness seeking to restore instead of retaliatory brokenness seeking to destroy. 


(And may we have a bit of serenity!)



Talent OR and Remembering On September 11th

Greetings! On this the 11th day of September, I am thinking about my family, friends and colleagues who live in Southern Oregon’s Rogue Valley.  The Rogue Valley is our former home. To explain, eleven months ago my husband and I left the Rogue Valley and moved to the Washington coast. I point that out because […]

The post Talent OR and Remembering On September 11th appeared first on Margaret Stermer-Cox.

My Favorite Classroom

It’s back-to-school season, but you might say I’ve been in summer school since July 4: the day I got married. I never knew that marriage would be my favorite classroom. I also never knew that no matter how much reading I did ahead of time, nothing would compare to experiential learning!


So-o-o much to learn. Such a variable curriculum, such a huge canon—love languages, personality styles, bathroom habits.


And I’ve never been more excited to study. 


I couldn’t really prepare for it like I did in my student days, by plowing through the required reading list and over-achiever-ing by plotting out the syllabus on my calendar. 


I couldn’t prepare for it like I did in my teacher days, by plotting units and setting assignments all the way till Christmas. 


So even though preparation is my superpower, I find myself releasing the ways I thought I learned best. 


And I am embracing every unplanned moment that arises. This photo is from last Sunday, when I looked up to see my husband smiling as he loaded the car after an afternoon on the lake. We had made a  detour there after an active camping weekend near the Deschutes River. The river was splendid, but he knows I love lakes, so he suggested we find one. 


On the obsidian-rich shore, we read aloud, napped, and played on the stand-up paddleboard. (My play looks more like a wobbly attempt to not to fall off. He can do a handstand on the thing…on a moving river). 

He is learning to enjoy the stillness I love, and I am learning to enjoy the motion he loves.  


It’s actually because of—not in spite of—our differences that we are on the trajectory for a master’s degree in communication someday. 


At this moment in our culture (and at any moment) we might do well to adjust our usual learning styles. We might do well risk wobbling as we try for new balance. To be still when we prefer motionor vice versa. Generally: to push the limits of our personal learning curves.


Here’s to embracing the classrooms of life: marriage and more. 

Zoom Inspired !

My friend and fellow Artist, Pam Hounschild and I have been teaching a Water Media Textures Workshop via Zoom. Pam is a more linear thinker than I am which was essential in pulling this off. Our first online class was through the Mendocino Art Center in Mendocino, CA. We will teach the class again  October  5,8,12,15 with them also. . In the meantime we are also teaching September 14,17,21, and 24.through the Emerald Art Center in Springfield OR.

Its a quite different experience for all of us to not be in the same space but we are finding our way and everyone had fun and produced some great pieces.

Leading up to this new zoom life, I had decided I was tired of cutting mats, handling heavy glass and framing my work: too labor intensive and the glass made it difficult  to view the work because of the glare. So I have been working smaller and experimenting with adhering images on paper to wood substrates and layering on acrylic medium to seal them and applying a final couple of layers  of UV varnish to make them lightfast. I really like the immediacy of images and the detail preserved.  

Here are some examples of the current works.

Focal Point Vs. Center of Interest

Focal Point Vs. Center of Interest

Stefan Baumann at a demo in Mt Shasta The Grand View Artist Retreat

Stefan Baumann at a demo in Mt Shasta The Grand View Artist Retreat

July 11, 2020, Grand View Ranch

It’s amazing that it is July at The Grand View Ranch and Artist Retreat and half of a year has gone by in 2020 and now we are staring down the barrel in the last half of the year. Here at the ranch, we are finishing up the project that we started during the Corona lock-down. It is amazing how many things one starts when staying at home with some forced free time on 10 acres and a shovel. The GV Ranch has many interesting elevations and several major vistas that can be seen from every vantage point from the ranch. With so many possibilities of having painting workshops here at the ranch once we get out of this quagmire that is the Coronavirus, I have opened so many projects that need to be completed before my next workshop can take place this fall. Maybe we will see you there, Click here to find out more
Meanwhile at The Grand View Ranch
With some of the restrictions lifted my fellow artists are once again making their weekly pilgrimage to The Grand View Ranch for a bit of some social contact (with the proper social distance apart, of course) and as always there are great topics discussed on the creation of grand Paintings by the artist that is passionate about painting. This week one of my artist friends asked, “In all of your coaching and your videos on a painting you always reference focal points and having a great center of interest, is there a difference?”
Center of Interest
What I coach is not only improving your painting skills but how to use those skills to communicate to the viewer what is it that you want them to experience. We as humans have certain traits baked in because of evolution. Throughout our evolution, we have learned that certain visual cues allowed us to survive. For example, when a lion was at the cave opening you would read through eye contact whether it was interested in you for dinner. Likewise, a bear running was either a threat or not a threat by the direction that the bear was running. So, therefore, there are automatic centers of interest that are always going to trigger the viewer’s eye and will cause the viewer to react regardless of where they appear on the canvas. These things are eyes, movement, human figures, animals, letters, faces, valuables, numbers, symbols, etc. When we scan an image for the first time, our attention is naturally drawn to these items.
Focal Point “Martha, I see the light”
A focal point, on the other hand, acts as a kind of “eye magnet” regardless of the subject. Strong tonal value contrast (light vs. dark) is the most powerful visual magnet. The viewer’s eye is naturally drawn to areas where light and dark are in stark juxtaposition. Bright colors, fine detail, sharp edges, anomalies, patterns, and any arrow-like “pointers” also attract the eye. Any part of a picture that exhibits these features will make the viewer focus his gaze upon it. The best way to create a focal point is by creating effects, mainly lighting effects! The best secret weapon that an artist has in his toolbox is creating an effect by using light and shadow to attract the viewer and keep the viewer constantly captivated. Artists that master light commands the art world’s attention. That’s why it is also a focus of my coaching. It surprises me that few artists and art teachers have ever been taught how to create a focal point by the use of light and it is by far the greatest secret (if there was a secret) to mastering painting. It is the sole reason that my coaching students’ paintings win awards consistently.
Therein Lies a Potential Problem
For a picture to be successful, the center of interest should also be a focal point. In other words, there should be one area that attracts both the eye and mind. To have an area in a picture that attracts your mind and another that attracts your eye is confusing and distracting to the viewer. In a composition, the center of interest and the focal point should be in the middle third of the canvas. Both demand the viewer’s attention and should occupy the viewer’s line of sight. To create a great composition, the artist should include three focal points and employ a good understanding of how the viewer’s eye sees. But we will leave that for another blog.
Conclusion “Finally”
In conclusion, understanding the focal points and the center of interest is a life long journey that will take your painting to a whole new level. Mastering these tools will guarantee that your work will get better and will overpower your competition in a gallery or show; it will change everything about your painting and will change the way you look at other artists’ works. Many of my art students have experienced amazing reactions from collectors once they implemented these techniques. If you are interested in coaching and learning more about the focal point or center of interest just give me a call. 415-606-9074
That’s all I have to say about that!
Till our next artist “Campfire art Chat” always remember to do good work and paint with passion!
Stefan Baumann-
Currently artist in residence @ The Grand View Ranch
For reservations to be included in our campfire art chats please call 415 -606-9074
Space is limited
“Hey, Get Over Here and Give Me Some Advice!”
Information about coaching is located under the heading Coaching on my website
If you are interested in coaching, give me a call at 415-606-9074 (my personal cell number) and we can talk more about how coaching will enhance your knowledge, capabilities, and growth as an artist.
The eyes of the world are waiting to see what you have to say.”
I have coached many students over the years. My goal as a coach is to help students discover their own style by instructing them with a method that allows them to grow as they are. If you want to increase your knowledge and skill to bring your art to the next level, I invite you to watch my YouTube videos, consider phone coaching with me, or attend a workshop in Mt. Shasta where we discuss art, passion, and life with other artists around the campfire. All the information is on my website,
Stefan Baumann on his trusted steed

Stefan Baumann on his trusted steed

The post Focal Point Vs. Center of Interest appeared first on Stefan Baumann – The Grand View: Paintings by Stefan Baumann.

Grants Pass Museum of Art August Adult Art Classes

Grants Pass Museum of Art August Adult Art Classes - image of GPMA logoGrants Pass Museum of Art is offering more “Sketch in the Park” August Adult Art Classes by popular demand. We are also trying them out as a weekday morning class. Classes will be held at Reinhart Volunteer Park (All Sports Park).
Each week will have a demo on the chosen theme, followed by plenty of time to draw onsite. Kristen will go around to each student and give one-on-one help throughout the morning. We ask that each student bring their own supplies and a mask (to wear if Kristen needs to get closer than six feet).
Advance registration is required and class size is limited to 9 people. All levels of students are welcome.
Each class is $10 for GPMA members and $15 for non-members.
Grants Pass Museum of Art August Adult Art Classes - Sketch in the Park with Kristen O'Neill
Thursday, August 6
9 am to Noon

Demo theme: Rhythm– using the principal of Rhythm to create cohesiveness and interest.

Thursday, August 13
9 am to Noon

Demo theme: Values – How to turn a colorful world into lights and darks.

When: Thursday, August 20
Time: 9 am to Noon

Demo theme: Composition – How to create a great composition and why it is important.

When: Thursday, August 27
Time: 9 am to Noon

Demo theme: Contrast and Emphasis – How to create a dynamic drawing with a strong focal point.

If you have any questions or suggestions, please let us know. We appreciate your support of the arts in our community. To register for an August Adult Art Class, please click on any of the pictures or click here to go directly to our website.
Thank you,
-Grants Pass Museum of Art

The Corndog Compromise

When Jared proposed this spring, he had a wedding date in mind: July 4. Beyond the general delight, I was also delighted he’d already thought of the day. I was game for the holiday wedding—we’d have anniversary fireworks forever! 
The venue that first came to my mind was Plaisance Ranch, a vineyard owned by dear people we both knew. We not only loved the connection to them, I had also written the poetry wine labels for Plaisance’s beautiful vintages. 
Perfect! I thought, we’ll have a wine and cheese reception.
Thing is, my now-husband is more of a beer-and-corndogs guy (though we’ve also shared plenty of cheese and wine). Still, I thought he was joking when he said he’d like corndogs as an appetizer at the reception. Beer in addition to the wine, of course. But corndogs? That would mean renting a deep-fat fryer, and…it kinda clashed with my vision. 
Enter our first compromise. 
Just after the proposal, we were talking with the Pennington’s, who had helped introduce us once upon a time at their bakery farm stand. They make a wow version of pigs-in-a-blanket, complete with honey mustard baked into the crust. Cathy suggested, “How about we make little ones and put them on a stick, and you can call them corndogs?” Wisdom from a woman married for forty years. 
And then, Jared’s parents asked if they could cater a full dinner for the wedding in addition to the planned appetizers. My solo vision expanded into something better when shared. 
There might be a lesson in there somewhere. 
And so, we had “corndogs” at our wedding. One of the moments I asked the photographer to capture was us biting into a compromise—aka corndog—together. It’s more important to me than the traditional feed-each-other-cake thing. This, we made possible together. A symbol of many things to come. May they be sweet—or at least savory.

Five Minute Drawing And #21aweek

Five Minute Drawing – my new “fast and furious” exercise*. It’s About Drawing Skills. Hi!  Lately I’ve been working on my drawings skills.  I am wondering, does that sound familiar?  It seems to me that several of my posts have started out that way.  Though, I suppose that is not surprising given that drawing is […]

The post Five Minute Drawing And #21aweek appeared first on Margaret Stermer-Cox.

More Tangents, More Fun

These three Paintings are part of a series exploring a new painting surface as well as new ways to use the layered painting process . They are on wrapped canvas instead of watercolor paper which alters the way of the interactions of surface and paint. It also nudged me to follow the process with exciting new curiosity and awe; keeping the excitement fresh.


To Be Clear -12×24

Heavy Metal 18×18