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Watercolor & Ink Studies – Just For Fun


Hi!  I’d like to simply share a couple of watercolor studies.  

Watercolor Studies: A Pear and its shadow

Why Do Studies.

There are several reasons why I like doing these studies.  Here are a few reasons that come immediately to mind.

  • Focus:  One has to pay attention when working with watercolor.  The paint moves and I like to take advantage of the paint’s nature.  However, it can get away from me if I’m not paying attention!
  • Fun:  Its watercolor, for the same reason you have to focus: it moves.  
  • Muscle memory.  These studies help develop the skills of observation and brush control.  Doing them often enables me to remember what to do when faced with paper, paint and water.
  • Draw & Paint.  I get to work on both drawing and painting skill sets!  What could be better?

About the Subject Matter.

The subject matter was inspired by the October list of prompts by the website “Doodlewash®”.   There is a list for every day in October, just as a prompt in case you are grappling with what to draw.  

For October 20th, the prompt was “pears”; no problem, I have some pears ripening so I drew and painted one.  

But, the prompt for October 21st was “corn”.  My husband and I already ate up the candy corn.  And, we don’t have any ears of corn in the refrigerator.  What to do?

Aha!  I have a bottle of “Corn Huskers Lotion” sitting on my kitchen sink counter!  Sounds like “corn” to me.

So, tomorrow’s prompt is “barn”; I don’t live in a barn or have one.  So, what to do?  My thinking cap is on; I like this sort of thing.

watercolor studies : Corn Huskers Lotion

Adding Ink.

Oh, by the way, this month is also “Inktober™“.  I thought it would be fun to add some ink today, hence the inking around my “Corn Huskers Lotion” bottle.

In any case, I hope you enjoy the watercolor sketches.  Thanks!

#WorldWatercolorGroup #Inktober2017



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Deliberate Practice Applied To Drawing Better


This article is about practicing smarter using strategic, or deliberate practice, as it applies to the skill of realistic drawing. I will introduce the idea of deliberate (or strategic) practice then share my views on two articles on how to draw and sketch better.  The articles are from the website “Jen Reviews”.

Clarifying Terms.

Please note that Jen Reviews uses the term strategic practice.  From what I’ve read and understand, strategic practice is the same thing as deliberate practice.  Therefore, I’ll use them interchangeably.  

Self Taught; How Do I Improve?

To explain, I am a “self taught” artist.  That is to say I am not a classically trained artist; I did not study at an art academy, school or atelier.  Instead, I read books, attended workshops and then tried to figure things out on my own.  

Such a situation is similar for lots of artists, I imagine.  We have an interest in drawing or painting and finally reach the point in our lives where we can focus our attention on learning.  We set up our drawing table or easel in get down to the business of learning and practicing.

After awhile, though, we figure out that there is more than just trying to draw something from life.  Practice, practice, practice and more practice helps, but  there is something we need to do to get to the next level.

Deliberate Practice Steps

Deliberate Practice.

Enter deliberate practice which is about targeting what you do.  A couple of years ago I read about deliberate practice, which sounded like a good idea.  To summarize, its a purposeful way of practicing.  Put another way, I figure out what skill I want to work on; identify particular exercises that improve my abilities in that area; develop a practice plan; practice; then evaluate performance.

However, how does one go about applying the idea of deliberate practice to the art and skill of drawing?

Reviewing Jens Review.

That is where Jen comes in. Who’s Jen? I am referring to the “Jen Reviews” website. The site publishes in-depth reviews of everything from how to grow blueberries to how to draw better.  While wandering around their site, I found an article on how to sketch too.

Contact With Jen Reviews.

Writers from the website “Jen Reviews” contacted me and suggested their article: “How To Draw Better”.  This was back in August.  I immediately liked the article.  There was one problem, though.  There is a ton of good information in this article backed up by science.  I am still wading through all of the good ideas!

Deliberate Practice Example

Motor Coordination Exercise.

To show you what I mean, have you ever had the problem of your eye, brain, hand and pencil not being in synch?  You think you are drawing a vertical, straight line but you look at it and its wavy.  If you get frustrated enough, you might pull out an extra sheet of paper and do some practice cross hatching.  But, do you really get better at making purposeful marks?  

Yes, this is something I struggle with and Jens Review article “How To Draw Better” explains the exercise of making deliberate, evenly spaced marks with your pencil or brush.  What I particularly like in the article is a discussion of why this exercise works.  

So, how do you to put this new knowledge into practice?  The exercise is simple and its best to practice regularly and at short intervals.  

For me, I decided that this would be an excellent thing to do with my new iPadPro and the iPencil.  Since the tools are new to me, I felt that practice would help.  What I do is practice on routinely as part of a drawing session.  You might see some marks up in the corner of a drawing.  The nice thing is that I can practice, then delete the file.  I am happy to say that I am adjusting to the iPadPro and iPencil just fine.

Lets recap:  if I were doing this exercise as a part of deliberate practice, I would have a plan.  Lets say I practice making a page of straight lines, once per day or session, for one week; two weeks and then a month.  At the end of the month interval, I would evaluate my progress.  Are my motor skills improving?

Blind Contour Drawing Example

15 Tips For Improving.

This is just one of 15 tips (and exercises) that Jen Reviews mentions.  Included is one of my favorites: blind contour drawing.  Several of the other tips have ideas that are new to me, hence the need to bookmark the article and work through the tips.  

And, this is just the article “How To Draw Better”.  Then there is the article titled: “How to Sketch – 15 Tips for Better Sketches That Come To Life”.

I would like to highlight some points.  

  • Many of the tips apply to realistic drawing.  However, several apply to any type of drawing.  The example of practicing making lines and marks is one such exercise.
  • The idea is to identify what you need to work on to improve; select an exercise to do that is appropriate; create a plan of action; do the exercise according to the plan; evaluate progress.
  • Jen Reviews contacted me and suggested that I might like the article “How to Draw Better”.  They also asked that if I liked the article, would I please mention it in a blog post. The blog post referred to was one titled “Toward Non-Objective Abstraction” dated December 20th, 2015.   And Jen Reviews will share an article I wrote that first attracted their attention.  

My Point of View.

I feel strongly that other artists may find these articles useful.  The tips may be just what you are looking for: targeted exercises that will help you develop the skills necessary to improve your drawing.

Plus, if I write about something in a blog post, I will remember it.  

Please Comment.

If you find this article useful or interesting, please leave a comment and share your thoughts.  I’d love to read what you say!  Thanks!

Deliberate Practice: Gargoyle


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A Invitation from Silvia Trujillo to Paint en Plein Air!

Lupines & Poppies by plein air painter Silvia Trujillo

Hello there artist friends,

 Now that summer is coming to an end, here’s a chance to sharpen your painting skills and enjoy the remaining warmth before Fall and Winter set in. Hosted by the Rogue Gallery, a workshop in plein air painting is being offered for beginners to advanced artists who would like to learn more about atmospheric perspective, how light effects color, and how to compare values for accuracy. We will be painting Table Rock and Rogue River at a location near Tou Velle Park in Medford on Sat, Sept 23 from 10am -4pm. I promise a fun and informative time for all… join us if you can ;)

 Also coming up is a plein air workshop hosted by The Lassen Art Center in Shingletown, CA. This location is at the base of Lassen National Park which is a great place to visit during the Fall season for sight seeing, hiking, and just relaxing.The date is set for Oct 21 &22, and if weather permits painting will be conducted outdoors to capture the Fall scenery. In case of rain we can paint indoors while looking out at the lovely grounds of the center.

 I know for many of you in the Rogue Valley it’s been one long, smoky summer. Personally I was unable to get out to paint on location as much as I would’ve liked so now that the smoke has cleared I’m planning on making up for lost opportunities. Please feel free to contact me if you would like to join either of these workshops or would like to set up a private session or two.

Wishing you well,


Billings Pond plein air painting by Silvia Trujillo

Billings Pond plein air painting by Silvia Trujillo

Paschal's Winery plein air painting by Silvia Trujillo

Paschal’s Winery plein air painting by Silvia Trujillo

The Fine Art of Painting With Palette Knife with Stefan Baumann

The Fine Art of Painting With Palette Knife Inspiring Millions to paint outdoors This video is about Touch Move and Inspire. Get a free Book at his website The paintings of Stefan Baumann reveal the true spirit of nature by transporting the viewer to distant lands that have gone unseen and undisturbed. With the huge success of Baumann’s weekly PBS television series “The Grand View: America’s National Parks through the Eyes of an Artist,” millions of people witness for themselves the magic Stefan portrays on canvas, his passion for nature and the American landscape. By distilling his love of nature into a luminous painting of brilliant, saturated color that transcends conventional landscape and wildlife art, Baumann has captured the hearts and imaginations of a generation. Each painting becomes an experience rather than merely a picture – a vivid manifestation of his special and personal union with nature and the outdoor world. Through his mastery of light, color and artful composition, Baumann invites you to experience nature in its purity. It is no wonder that for many years distinguished American collectors, including former presidents and financial icons, have sought out his work.

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New Work: Fawn’s Early Light

Stefan Baumann

Artist of the American Wilderness

“Fawns Early Light”

24 x 36 Oil on Panel By Stefan Baumann

Gallery in Mt. Shasta $9,000

-Journal Note June 13, 2017
“If you want to see the world for the first time, take a walk with an artist!”
I’m inspired every time I take walk in the forest located behind The Grand View Ranch and I’m always surprised at what I encounter. Often I see a family of Red Foxes running about. Once in a while I have come face to face with a black bear as he walked aimlessly through the woods, unaware of my presence until we see one another. It is an artist’s creed to live a life in harmony with the rest of the world including the animals in the forest and to experience the little effects and details that often get missed by the general public.
Artists are passionate about capturing insights within their soul as they ponder, digest, work through, and interpret a view that is different and often contrary to what the general public sees. Artists help others look at life differently and develop new ways of seeing what it is to be human. One can only see when the mind is open, and being present requires solitude, to travel slowly, and to absorb fully with all the senses. To see, listen, smell, and touch requires one to be comfortable with oneself. To be able to turn off the internal dialog and be one with nature requires continuous practice, and it is important to me that my paintings reflect the feelings that I feel when I go for a walk in nature.
After surviving a winter that kept sending us huge amounts of snow, I was impatient for spring to come and reveal the secrets hidden under the cloak of snow.  And, I’m always concerned to see the damage created by the heavy snows that weigh down the boughs of our Dogwood trees. Fallen bird’s nests remind me of the life that lived high in the branches last spring are now are scraps of straw at my feet. Spring brings renewed hope along with birds above that busily create new homes for their new families. Soon the cycle will start again.
Morning sunrises at The Grand View Ranch are magical. The sunlight makes its way through the fresh green leaves causing brilliant dappling effects on the forest floor. The light makes patterns that give me ideas for future paintings to create in my studio. My eyes dart over the forest floor searching for interesting natural objects to bring back to my studio to include in my wildlife paintings. I walk along a well-traveled deer path that loops around our ranch, when something catches my eye. I wander through the fallen snags of trees that could not survive the weight of the snows, stepping carefully while searching for clues that would explain what I saw.
Suddenly, I saw a young doe that had just given birth to twins. I watched as the mother cared for her new born fawns and played in our newly finished pasture made for our horses. It seemed that they enjoyed the new open space and I laughed as they raced from end to end playing a little game of Catch Me, Catch Me. Every year I see fawns but this is the first time that I found their lair.  Apparently the mother had ventured away to get some greens, and one of the fawns was left to hide from predators. Fawns have no sense of smell and can hold still even when confronted face to face. The dappled white spots that were on the fawn’s body mixed with the dappled light of the sun provided a great camouflage to hide in plain sight. Motionless, I stood there observing the fawn and her desperate fear for her survival while making mental notes of the setting so that I could recreate the scene on my canvas. In the distance I could hear that the mother was agitated because I was so near her fawn so I retreated into the forest. I hurried to my studio with my newly found treasures and inspiration and began this painting inspired by a baby fawn called “Fawns Early Light.”
-Stefan Baumann
Your questions and comments are always welcome!
For information on acquiring paintings, call 415-606-9074 or email: [email protected]
Purchase paintings directly through my secure website at

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October Art Show: Peggy’s People, Ponies and Kitties!

You Are Invited!

Hi, its show time!  That is, I’m pleased to say that I am showing my several watercolor paintings at GoodBean Coffee Company in Jacksonville, OR during the month of October.  For those of you who are interested, GoodBean is located at 165 South Oregon St. in historic Jacksonville.  Let me say that you are wholeheartedly invited to see the paintings during business hours which are 6am to 6pm daily.  Please do stop by, have a cup of coffee and enjoy the paintings!

Stermer-Cox Show: People, Ponies and Kitties

About The Show.

I would like to tell you that I plan to feature watercolor paintings from my “Peggy’s People” as well as “Ms. Kitty and Toy Pony” collections.  I selected these paintings in particular because they are bright, colorful and cheerful; just perfect for the start of autumn!  As a way of explaining what I mean, I would like to give you some background on each of the collections.

“Peggy’s People” collection is about the people I see or meet.  Whether its a friend playing bass guitar, as in “Torsten on Bass”, or total strangers having a coffee break, there is a story or two to tell!

GoodBeanShow: Torsten On Bass

As an example, lately, I find the prevalence of cell phones and other electronic devises in our society fascinating.  So, five of the painting explore the theme of talking on a cell phone.

Regarding the “MsKitty and Toy Pony” collections, they are about people too.  However, in these paintings, I let MsKitty and Toy Pony tell the stories.  The kitty and pony play, pounce and visit strange lands.  Indirectly, these paintings are about our relationships with our families and friends.


I view painting as an act of optimism and joy.  Hopefully, I am able to convey these feelings to you in my work.


I am hanging approximately fifteen watercolor paintings of various sizes.  Each painting is an original and available for purchase.   Should you see paintings that you might like to collect, please contact me directly through my contact page.

Thank you!

Please do drop by if you are in the area.

Art Show: Peggy's People, Ponies and Kitties


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From My Easel: Two “Man With Hat Series” Paintings

New Series.

Hi!  I’d like to introduce my “Man With Hat” series.

The Beginning.

I started this series last spring as part of a demonstration for the Watercolor Society of Oregon (WSO).  Because my painting process takes awhile I didn’t finish the painting during the allotted time.  Instead, I worked on several versions in different stages to show the audience how I build my paintings in layers.

Man With Hat Series: First, From Easel

From My Easel.

Well, its six months later and two of the versions are done.  I’d like to share the images with you “from my easel”.  I take a preliminary photograph of the paintings from the easel just to check the composition and decide if I like it.  Once the paintings are removed from the backing board, they go into the “ready for the official photo” pile.  After the official photo, they go into the inventory and are part of my portfolio.

What Took So Long?

I would like to explain the six months between start and finish.  I wanted to think of ways to modify and change the composition.  Four or five identical paintings would get boring for me and probably for you.  So, I let ideas incubate and figure out how to change them.  Coming soon (or not so soon), I have one that I’m calling “Irish Coffee”; another with a dog; and the third is different mainly in the handling of color and tone.  It may yet change too!  Just to give you something to look forward to!

Why A Series?

Idea Managing.  One of the problems with creating paintings is that you (I) sometimes want to put too many ideas into one painting.  And, when the creative juices get going, I tend to think “what if I did this or did that?  Would it work”?  Hence the beauty of working with a series of paintings.  You get to play with ideas and plumb the well of creativity.  They don’t all work out, but by allowing crazy ideas to bloom, something special just might happen.

Overcome Fear Of Starting.  The other really valuable lesson in working in series is that you embrace starting all over again.   I think this is a particularly critical mindset for watercolor painters.  Its easy to overwork a painting trying to get it perfect. In this way, I let go of the idea of perfection and move on to the next painting.

OK, that’s a little bit mis-leading…I always try to create the best painting I can.  But, perfection is not the end state.  Rather, I want to get to a unified state; no more strokes needed.

Ready To Come Off The Easel.

That being said, I just thought it would be fun to show you the series as the first two are ready!

New Series: Man With Hat; Contemplating Kandinsky


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Classically Trained Artist

What Is “Classically Trained”?

Hi! I have been thinking about what makes an artist classically trained. Have you seen that term on a biography of an artist or musician? And, what does that mean?

John Stermer: Classically Trained Artist

John Stermer, Classically Trained Artist

What a funny question, don’t you think? To explain, I have been helping my sister prepare for an upcoming showing of my Dad’s artwork (artist John Stermer of New Mexico). On Dad’s biography, he is described as a classically trained artist.

Story time!

I remember when I was about twelve years old telling one of my teachers that Dad was a “classically trained” artist.  The teacher asked me what does it mean to be a classically trained artist.  I had no idea, but, then, I thought I knew.  So, soldiering on, I promptly gave an answer, rather than say “I don’t know”.  As I recall I mentioned something about how Dad composed a painting.  I have a vague idea of referring to the Greeks, Romans and maybe even Leonardo da Vinci.  Well, Greek and Roman art is sometimes referred to as “classical”, isn’t it?

The point was that I did not know what I was talking about (oops).

No Repeat Performances, Please!

Well, if we are doing art shows and are going to be where interested people asking questions, I figure knowing terms is a good idea.  Remembering my past experience, I thought I would look up “classically trained” and see what it means.

Does Anyone Know The Answer?

Oddly enough, the best answer I could find was in an article about musicians on the website “”. Here is what the author, Tony Green wrote (again, talking about music)

“Here’s the problem: Few people outside of music students know what that really means. To wit: extended study and mastery of a complete system of techniques, pedagogy, musical knowledge, and repertoire. In the piano field, according to O’Riley, it commonly includes beginning, intermediate, and advanced material by Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Mozart, Liszt, Shostakovich, and other composers. It also implies a mastery of specialized techniques, performed from the easy to the most challenging tempos, as well as a thorough schooling in music theory, harmony, and composition.”

Apparently, there probably isn’t a definition of what a “classically trained artist” listed in your closest dictionary.  But, I think this one will do.  To summarize, I figure one needs to have been through a rigorous extended period of education to be classically trained.

Dad’s Case: Classical Training.

So, lets take the case of my Father, artist John Stermer. He had a formal and rigorous period of study at The Art Students League of New York in the late 40s and early 50s. For six years he lived the life of an art student totally immersed in art and art classes. He followed this period of training with an additional year in Paris, France at the Academie Le Grand Chaumiere.

Classically Trained Artist: After the Practice

When Dad left these art schools to work in his own studio, he had learned and mastered how to draw and paint.

Now, do understand that I am not meaning to imply that one ever learns all there is to know about drawing and painting. Rather, he had a robust set of skills that enabled him to create and work on his own terms. He knew everything from selecting materials (paint, canvas, boards); preparing the materials, like stretching and preparing canvas for paint; constructing and creating a painting; creating an appropriate frame for the painting; and how to show and market your artwork.

My Case: Self Taught.

Now, lets compare classically trained Dad with me. I am a “self taught” artist, which I think it a bit of a misnomer, but it’s the best we have.  What I mean is, that I learn from lots of artists, though mostly on an informal basis.

For example,  I take classes and workshops from time to time. I read books, blogs and magazines. And, from the information and examples I see, I create my own work. However, I feel like I learn from every artist whose work I see or study. In effect, they are “teaching” me; I don’t learn in a vacuum or dark studio with no outside influences. Put another way, I have silent teachers and mentors all around me; they just don’t know it!

Self Taught: Stermer-Cox

Which is Better, Classical or Self-taught?

After studying for over 15 years on my own, I’d say, it all depends on your circumstances.

The More Direct Path.  I am inclined to believe that the intensive education available through classical training, say at an art academy or atelier, is difficult to match on my own. It helps to have masters and fellow students to learn from; the community is invaluable! I would imagine that there is a synergy in learning when people who share your excitement about art surround you.

The More Indirect Path.  When you are on your own, you have to wrestle with the “how” and “why” by yourself.  The skill set of knowing materials and how to approach drawing and painting is learned almost by trial and error.  Therefore, I consider “self taught” to be a more indirect path. It will take awhile to learn how to solve the problems of creating art.

Its All Good!

In the end, though, I would hope we (classical and self taught artists) arrive at a similar place. That is to say, our own individual path of creating art that connects with other people is what we strive to achieve.

Just my thoughts; what do you think?










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Saturday Fireside Chat – Plein Air or Studio Painting?

 stefan baumann saturday fireside chats - image of artists istting around a campfire at the grand view ranch, mt shasta, california

Plein Air or Studio Painting?Old Pump House by Stefan Baumann

This week I finished several studio paintings of the property located behind The Grand View Ranch. I have also been thinking about the hurricane in Florida and all the people who had to leave their homes to go to safer areas to wait for the storms to pass. I hope that when they return home all is not lost.

My heart goes out to all of you, and I send wishes that you all have a safe trip back home. The air in Mt. Shasta is filled with smoke like all of California and it is a constant reminder that our ranch is venerable to fire. I can relate to your fears and hope that we all are able to resume living the lives we love.


Around the campfire tonight, we were talking about what is preferable – Studio painting or Plein Aire painting, and I took a moment to share my thoughts.

When I first started Plein Aire painting, the term “Plein Aire” was not even used. When we painted outdoors, we called it “painting from nature.” Very few artists painted in a studio, let alone painting in nature, in Lake Tahoe where I grew up. As a child, I took painting lessons from artists who visited Lake Tahoe, and one of these teachers insisted that we paint from life. I often thought that my painting was the worst painting that was ever painted by any artist dead or alive.

My painting, “On The Truckee River” soon had the infamous reputation of being called “The Bad Dream in Green”. When my mother saw my painting, she told me that she would never pay for another art class EVER!  It’s a good thing that my mother was very kind, and before long, she forgot the incident and I was able to resume my painting classes.

Plein Aire paintings on small canvases were first created to allow the artist to sketch information at the location and then take them back to the studio to be painted on a full-sized canvas. When the “Impressionists” showed up, everything changed because they believed that the only way they could add light to the painting was to see and paint light on location. However, they were often challenged by the reality that light changes every 7 minutes.


Most people who want to learn how to paint on location don’t really understand that painting an oil painting outdoors in 7 minutes is impossible. Many skills are needed to paint outdoors and it is challenging to master. It requires years of practice, yards for canvas, and tenacity to learn how to paint on location. Once you learn how to paint outdoors, you have a skill that allows you see and enjoy the beauty in nature and enjoy the social connections that spring up around plein air painting,


Studio artists also have to master the craft of painting. Many studio artists paint from “still life” setups in the studio and others work from sketches and photos. Often, studio paintings are more crafted with brush techniques and color balance. Some studio artists do traditional paintings from sketches painted outdoors, but their works are usually larger in contrast to the many small paintings done  en Plein Aire. Also, studio paintings often demand a higher cash value when sold.

The method of painting does not matter; outdoor, in the studio or both. The important thing is that we create art, and art done any way is better than not having art in your life at all. My suggestion is to do both ~ paint in your studio and go out and see the light in the world. And if you paint outdoors, go back to your studio and expand on what you have seen – paint something bigger and grander than you have ever imagined! Art is the greatest gift that god ever granted mankind! Don’t waste it!

PS: If I had listened to my mother, I would not be writing this now!

In my classes, workshops and coaching I give answers to the question: “What is that?” Once you learn to “Paint what you See” then the next step is “Paint what You see!


I invite you to attend my workshop in October to get a in-depth understanding of what “Paint what You see” means, along with many more insights that will improve your art forever! 

To enroll in my October 20-21-22 2017 Workshop, type in or go to

I have coached many students over the years. My goal as a coach is to help students discover their own style by instructing with a method that allows them to grow as they are. If you want 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,

There are some openings for my workshop in October, go to my website today !

Call me for information on workshops or coaching 415-606-9074

Paint with me in Italy the fall of 2018!

The Grand View | 1151 Maple St., Hammond Ranch, CA 96069

Saturday Fireside Chat -The Best Advice Your Will Ever Get to Improve Your Paintings


The Very Best Advice You Will Ever Get To Improve Your Painting Luminism Baumann

We have just finished fencing our pasture so that our horses can run free and now we are ready to begin building our barn before the winter sets in. My next Plein Air Workshop takes place on October 20-21-22, just a few weeks away. We are excited to have artists paint at the ranch and enjoy more Campfire Chats about art, love and life with the artists who attend.

Recently, one of my students that I coach asked me a question and I thought it would be a good subject to discuss around the campfire. The question was, “What is your secret of painting great Art?” I thought for a moment, as I loaded another marshmallow onto my stick and held it over the fire, about the words that a prominent painter shared with me so many years ago.

When I was 20, I met a lady whose name was Mrs Goggelinsky. She was a 90 year-old Polish woman who spoke little English. She had been an artist and had painted all of her life. She studied the Old Master’s style of painting in France when she was in college at a time when women were just beginning to get into art and painting. I hoped that she would tell me her secrets of painting and creating art.  What I learned from her really was the key that inspired me to create great art.

When I met with her, she required my attention and patience. After spending hours sitting with her in a stuffy room drinking really bad, cold tea, I asked her, “What is your secret of painting great works?” My youth did not allow me to wait for her words of wisdom. I kept asking her what she remembered when she was young, when artists were the old masters, and their secrets where passed down from artist to apprentice but were never written down. Instead, they were carefully hidden from competing artists.

She told me about her experiences in broken English, and unfortunately, I couldn’t really understand what she was sharing with me. Frustrated, I went home feeling defeated and upset. I worried that the knowledge that could be passed down from generation to generation would be lost forever if she couldn’t share it with me.

I called her back, determined to acquire the answers to the many questions I had, and she told me to come back the next day. I returned to the same cramped apartment and drank another cup of cold tea.  But this time, a lifetime collection of her paintings were stacked three feet deep and 5 feet high for me to look through, and all of the paintings were as magnificent as a Caravaggio masterpiece.

The one piece of advice she gave me became the underlying theme that I teach. It was and is a simple concept, yet requires the most discipline of any fundamental insight. It requires you, the artist, to remove what you think you know, and replace it with questions. It is so easy, yet almost all artists resist it, fight it, and argue with it…just as I did so many years ago.

The secret to knowing how to paint is to “Paint What You See.” Most of us look but we never really see, and in order to understand and know what you see, you have to learn to see what is there. Everything an artist needs to see is right in front of them – color, value, shape, temperature, and form are all there, but if we don’t have the knowledge of how to interpret what we are looking at, we won’t see what is there.

In my classes, workshops and coaching I give answers to the question: “What is that?” Once you learn to “Paint what you See” then the next step is “Paint what You see!


I invite you to attend my workshop in October to get a in-depth understanding of what “Paint what You see” means, along with many more insights that will improve your art forever! 

To enroll in my October 20-21-22 2017 Workshop, type in or go to

I have coached many students over the years. My goal as a coach is to help students discover their own style by instructing with a method that allows them to grow as they are. If you want 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,

There are some openings for my workshop in October, go to my website today !

Call me for information on workshops or coaching 415-606-9074

Paint with me in Italy the fall of 2018 Information link is below

The Grand View | 1151 Maple St., Hammond Ranch, CA 96069