Category Archives: Workshops

Luscious Dream Abstraction

The Sedona Arts Center hosted a Sedona Art Retreat in February. As part of the Personal Imagery Path, I taught a spiritual/art workshop called Luscious Dream Abstraction. We took a personal dream and made art out of it, in a layering process.

This one was my demo.

This one was my demo.

The paintings serve as a kind of dream board, embodying each artist’s goals. I was surprised to discover that by using such a personal process, the artists ended up creating pieces that hardly needed any discussion about composition.

I loved how each of the paintings came out. We were having so much fun gushing over them, I forgot to take photos!


Wonderful Beautiful Mess class

What a wonderful From Beautiful Mess to Strong Composition class! It was a full house at Sedona Arts Center at the end of January, with many artists traveling from a distance.


Midpoint critique. Photo by Sandy Duckett


Laura Pennington


Jeanette Cassin and Michelle Erickson


Kimall Christensen, Stacey Aikins, and GloriaRothrock


Gail Dishman and Diana Grady. Diana came from Alaska!


Sandy Duckett

My longtime mentoring client, Sandy Duckett from Phoenix, inspired everyone with her warm heart.

Trash-to-Treasure workshops

As part of a community-wide Earthflows event in January 2016, the Sedona Arts Center held a juried exhibition called The Art of Recycling – Turning Trash into Treasure. “It is art that makes materials valuable, not the other way around,” said their School of the Arts director, Vince Fazio.

In conjunction with the show, he asked me to do two 2-hour Trash-to-Treasure workshops using recycled materials for assemblage. Like paint, found materials inspire through color and texture. Unlike paint, they also inspire through association, stories, and form.

The workshops were filled with lively people juicing it up with their creativity!


El Valle demo and workshop

The El Valle Artists Association in Cottonwood, AZ, invited me to do a demo and workshop in November 2015. Here is a picture from the demo.

Photo by Elaine Bomkamp

Photo by Elaine Bomkamp

It is always refreshing to gather with fellow artists! The workshop was held in a school, so during our break we had fun swinging on the swingset. A couple of the older artists hadn’t swung for 7 decades!

Understanding Color and Composition

Over the winter I taught two one-day workshops on Understanding Color and Composition. One was held at the Indiana Art Association in The Artists Hand Gallery, Indiana, PA (Nov. 26, 2013), and the other at the Community Arts Center of Cambria County, in Johnstown, PA (Feb. 1, 2014).

In the morning the students practiced color harmony, using paint chips to experiment with color relationships. This involved a really drilled-down and subtle discussion, yet it turns out that, after really looking, almost everyone is able to see the minute difference between a truly good color harmony and one that is slightly, disturbingly off.

Where did I learn so much about color harmony? In college I thought I knew a lot about color, but it was when I took a job as a textile colorist in the garment district of New York City that my color training was blown out of the water. The stylists taught me not only how to see the subtlest differences in harmonies, but how to mix any color imaginable using the shortest route possible.

Honing this skill of harmonizing and mixing colors has given me great freedom in painting. It has also made me painfully aware of over-reliance on tube colors in the work of inexperienced painters. So, in the workshop I tried to provide a deeply practical understanding of color and mixing.

The afternoon was spent discussing and practicing composition principles. As I said in my workshop description, “Many a great idea suffers because of composition flaws that are actually easy to fix.” These basic problems, if worked out in the thumbnail stage before finishing and framing, can save a lot of heartbreak later.

So, I tried to give the condensed version of “Everything you need to know so as not to shoot yourself in the foot as an artist.” It takes years to really get these principles into your bones, but discussing them openly helps you recognize them.

In the coming year I plan to create online courses on Color and Composition to fill this need.

Here are photos of the dear students in the two classes:

IAA Color & Composition

Hard at work practicing color and composition at the Indiana Art Association

IAA Color & Composition

IAA Color & Composition class and their final collages

CACCC Color & Composition Workshop

Community Art Center of Cambria County Color & Composition class and their final collages


Exquisite Messes

Wow! Powerful paintings emerged from the artists in my From Beautiful Mess to Strong Composition class at the Indiana Art Association, Aug. 21 & 24, 2013.

Here I am pointing something out about a painting in progress by Gail Beem, a wonderful artist who usually paints delicate pastel landscapes.


At the end of class we lined the paintings up for a “floor show” to rival the sedate oils on the walls of The Artists Hand Gallery.


Later, we were able to hang some of the artists’ work in a class display at The Artists Hand Gallery, Indiana PA. This photo shows the opening reception on Sept. 7, 2013.


A home for art in Indiana, PA

Here is our beautiful, one-year-old art center, The Artists Hand Gallery, on the main street of my town, Indiana, PA.




You can probably pick out my two colorful abstracts in the gallery shot. (One of them won First Place in this show — see my June blog post.)

But I’ll bet you didn’t guess that the vertical painting in the coffee shop shot — the one in muted colors closest to us — is also mine. It’s a painting from 2006 called “Promontory.”

In the back of The Artists Hand is a studio that is home to the Indiana Art Association. I have held many abstract painting workshops there, with one more coming up next week.