Category Archives: Paintings

My San Diego Acrylic Artwork


  Chocolat shop at Liberty Station,Old town, Near the Lily Pond in Balboa Park, Flower Shop Rancho Bernardo, Orchids in the Botanical Garden Balboa Park


Game Shop Old town, Bazaar Del Mundo, La Jolla Cove, Old Town restuarant


Old Town, Ranch in Poway, Mission at Old Town, Red Awnings restuarant in Old Town


Joe’s Crab Shack, Boathouse at the Del, Prado Theater in Balboa Park


Flanuel Park, Mission Old Town, Museums in Balboa Park


Restaurant with colored chairs Old Town, Nursery across from Old Town, Hats Off Old Town Shop, Bazaar Del Mundo restaurant


La Jolla caves and coves 1, 2 and 3 (2 are on canvas, one on mat board. Nice triptych.


“Head Out”… Boats near the lifeguard statron, Roller Coaster at Belmont Park

Greek and Roman Architecture

I was taking a class through Yale on in Roman Architecture (FYI: you may have seen the Roman Paintings exhibit I blogged about before). I have always adored Greek columns and pediments, etc. I could never figure out how they raised those heavy pieces to create the columns, but they must have had a great system because they erected loads of them all over. The cement carved decorations are amazing and I cannot figure out how they did that way back when! These are from Balboa Park which is celebrating its 100 year. It was built for a World’s Fair I think, bu don’t quote me on this. San Diego’s park has the most wonderful decorations on all the buildings. I love to paint there.


When I was in Greece the second time, I painted the Parthenon, as it was a dream I had most of my life. I wanted to become an architect, but never had a chance. I actually went into Interior Design at Parsons and worked in the field for many years. I am now more into re-design, but that’s another story. Anyhow, the first trip I did a contour line drawing of the front of the Parthenon as I did not have my paints that trip. I took many photos but of course, no digital stuff back then.

My sister and I were at the site but it was about 100 degrees and going to the top of the Acropolis to paint would’ve been way to hot. So I painted the theater below it until it cooled off a bit and then very quickly, we ran to the top and I painted for a very short time. Well, I since decided to paint the Erecthian (with it’s lady columns across from the Parthenon). I had painted one gal and realized I was in deep over my head because all 5 had to be exactly the same. I thought about it and came up with the idea that I would put Marilyn Monroe, Carman Miranda, Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo in for the other statues and have Athena peeking out from the Parthenon. I went online and printed out the photos and voila, this is it “The Gals of the Erecthian.” Slide1

Mixing and knowing about colors is well worth the effort!

Slide2Recently in a class, we could only use three colors to paint with and they were the primary colors; Red, Yellow and Blue. Only, we had to use certain ones together to get different effects. These were watercolors and I did not have all of the names Annette Paquette chose, but I saw the differences in the ones that I did have. Some made very bright colors, others dulled them done and were great for saturated color paintings.Slide1



Taken from a chart that Annette used in class.

We all know what secondary colors are with red and blue, and yellow and blue and red and yellow, but WOW, when they can be changed like this, “you wonder where the yellow went” (have to be my age to know what  that is from!) and the blue and the red.

Greens should always be mixed. in fact my word of advice to any painter, phtylo green is ONLY for mixing – there is nothing in nature that is “POISON” green (unless it is a painted sign or roof or plastic chair.). BUT – mix it with violet and get this gorgeous gray tone that is a cool color, mix it with a red and dull it down to make it a warm color.Slide4

Color can be warm (reds, yellows, oranges) or cool (blues, greens) but when you add yellows to greens and blue to greens they change temperature. Knowing about how color works, is a great advantage.

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.


Slide5I helped one of our newer plein air painters with how to connect and make a painting cohesive  by using complementary colors;  like throwing a wash or glaze of red in the green tree shadows and green washes in the red (barn) shadows. There is a scary moment when you think it is nuts to do that, but, it does make everything come together. Also, saw an art exhibit by Sorrello at the San Diego Art Museum, and he said that “the Impressionists gave us the color purple,” and that is the color that I remind painters and students that adds the pizzazz to any shadow in a watercolor (add a drip of cobalt blue in a corner and voila), a fabulous painting with a few tricks of the trade, plus the bonus of the use of color knowledge.Slide6

A Colorful Past, Present and Future


These cannot be mixed, they just are real pure color! We use them to mix all the other colors (hues).

We all learn how to mix the primary colors in preschool, or there about, but there is an important reason why we learn this. Color is all around us, in the things we purchase to wear, to sit on, to eat,and to paint with too. So I decided to teach my 100 year old Mom, about color theory and you get to learn it along with her.

Once you understand that the PRIMARY COLORS are the basic color mixers, you can make any color. So yellow and red make orange, yellow and blue make green, blue and red make violet (that’s what it is called in the art world).These are called the SECONDARY COLORS - they are mixed with the primary colors.redgreen Across the way from each of these colors, are the COMPLEMENTARY COLORS.

Any GREEN object you use next to RED, will make the colors brighter and more exciting. If your red is a bluish red, than a yellower green will be it’s complement. If you can imagine all the colors in between red to yellow, or red to blue, you can see that there are so many to choose from, but the opposite one will make the magic.


YELLOWS and VIOLETS can set a mood if they are pale, but the brighter ones also will do the trick. And look at BLUE and ORANGE, a wow factor when there is just a touch of the complement in a photo can make your work so much better. Use your hand and take away the complementary color and see what I mean. The pizzazz goes away. Just a little hint in the ball by the boat dock was what drew me to take the picture.blueorange

The next color concept is using that color wheel to find ANALOGOUS COLORS. When looking at the chart, see where the colors next to each other can enhance the ones on either side.analogous



.All of these slides are from a book I am working on teaching the basics of “Photography by Design.” Some year, I will get this published but I can give you hints to taking better photos or making more of your paintings using these theories. In a class I am taking we are exploring pale to bright, to washed out whites to saturated colors. When you use some of these mixtures together you can get great explosions of color. A bright red in the middle of dull, grayed down tones can “sing” out loud, and the opposite can happen too. Ladies, you can try adding a scarf or jewelry to an outfit and see it pop when it is with the right color combination. So experiment with your colors and find out what you can come up with to make your life more colorful.

Roman Wall Painting made easy!

Slide4I am taking a class from (through Yale University), on Roman Architecture which I am finding very enlightening. I always have loved Greek architecture and thought this class would just add to that, I was surprised to have discovered something that was so interesting that I had to figure a way to do something with that new-found knowledge of decoration on walls of fancy villas.Slide19

I have seen gorgeous mosaics on floors and some walls, and fresco wall art in ancient Grecian & Italian sites, but the Romans took it to mathematical heights, and I mean great heights. Look at the height and detail in the wall with the maroon background on the top left and the white one in middle right here. I cannot imagine how long these walls and barreled ceilings took to paint, but read on and you will ask Slide6the same questions I did.

When I learned about the 4 different styles that were used over the years, I decided instead of writing a paper on designing a Roman City, that I would create a Children’s Museum exhibit to expose people to this wonderful art form.

Here are a few of the principles to creating the four different styles. You can see, they divided the walls into sections. (This art was done from around 10 BC to 79 AD). The 1st style is simple, they wanted to show that they had money but couldn’t afford to import marble, so they painted walls to look like it. They added columns and architectural features to look like windows with scenes and vistas behind them in the 2nd style. Slide22In the 3rd style, they finally realized that the walls were flat and painted them so! They added paintings in the center of panels, like a framed painting. The columns were not so massive but became skinny and decorative, they were no longer headed with the Greek capitols (Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian). They used still life art and mythical people in the floating paintings. In the 4th style, they used all of the above and then some. They added cages to the top layer and had buildings and scenes within them, not like a panorama, but a painting within a frame.

romanarchexI used four colors to identify each style with a wall mural showing different walls from various villas uncovered in Pompeii, Herculaneum, and well-preserved villas from the Roman Empire. Slide9What I also added was drafting tables so kids can draw buildings using real architect tools and I added a block area so they can build houses. I saw a fabulous paneled digital presentation on a wall at a fair recently and saw they can project multiple images on panels, so I included this (very expensive wall) above the block area so people can see Roman buildings and ancient dig sites.Slide21

I have updated my exhibit design by added the three column capitals to each table and using a slanted one the Romans used for the fourth table. The height will add grandeur to the whole exhibtion and I decided I could not leave out an archeological dig site showing the kids what the ruins looked like. So they will clear away dirt and unveil the ancient city underneath the photo of Mt Vesuvius.mtvesev1

Slide25(Click on any of the collages to enlarge them so you can see the details, then use the upper left arrow to go back to the blog.)

You can see the entire slide show on YouTube if you go to this link. Now I just have to find some museum who might be interested in hiring me to produce this! I think it is very exciting for every age. And if you can draw, it wouldn’t be too difficult to follow their patterns. (FYI: The YouTube version is not as updated as this one. Look at the map above for the changes.)


Challenges for artists, complete a piece where SHAPE plays it up.

Slide1Knowing the ten design elements can help you flourish in your artwork. The best photography course I ever took was one where we were to use each element and do photos using just one element at a time. LINE was the first. SHAPE came next.

So I am asking you to create work with the design element of SHAPE this month. Paint or shoot for this and see if you can spot good shapes, ones that are positive and negative. And try not to repeat the same sized shapes. Notice how bothing is centered in the photos so the negative shapes are all uneven. The triangle piece has repeated angles which makes for exciting shapes. In th4e florals below, the same thing happens when you do not center something, the outsidfe shapes become interesting. Remember this when taking ohotos of people, keep them near the line of thirds so the negative shapes become part of the piece. sha shshap shep

I notice in my paintings, I often don’t realize that I do accidentally have spaces that are equal shapes, until it’s too late. So if we can understand this concept early on, our artwork will be much better. For instance, if doing a church steeple, you have a quadrant of shapes that are usually pretty much equal. The building takes up the bottom two quads and then the sky and the steeple are the other two. The best defense you have is to break up those areas with shruberies and maybe to frame the top where the sky is and put a tree branch there to round off the top half.Slide2

So take this advice and go for it.

I do remember people in the class getting confused with SHAPE and FORM. Form is three-dimensional, has shadows and highlights. Imagine the distance between trees, those are the repeated shapes that will do most painters in because we tend to make them to same distance. I suggest one goes and takes photos first and you can see how the perspective changes that on a flat plain.

My “Storybook Homes” paintings & poster elaborated

When I spent one year Spring and Fall painting these fabulous house portraits. I stopped wherever I saw a house that had more than two kinds of stonework (and/or bricks in patterns). I always like textures and interesting repeated shapes so those were the kinds I looked for. The stucco ones were not my cup of tea but oh, those the English Tudors and the French ones with slate roofs  made my day.  My husband got me a cell phone, (as I had been protesting that I hated being accessible that much so I refused to have one), but he wanted to know where I was painting so he could bring me lunch!

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Anyhow, I would go out on a sunny morning and paint but he would make me call and tell him where I was since I was alone, and lunch always looked great when he brought it to me. The only scary place was the house that was surrounded by Oak trees and I could hear the acorns falling so I quickly deserted that one.

Slide9 Slide10 Slide11 Slide13 As I painted, people would come over and sometimes hire me to come and do their house. The Tudor with the high chimney on the bottom left corner, was Paul Newman’s house I found out! I also had a request from the Shaker Hts. (OH) Historic Society who asked me to have a show with the 40-some pieces I did that year! (Who am I to turn down something like that?) So they had a show and the opening was a snow storm and only a few people showed up. But I did hear from some of the people who saw their house in the show.

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This was my idea for the Shaker Hts. Centennial poster contest.Presentation1

My Paintings: acrylic, watercolor and gouache (“gwash”, by gosh)!

Slide4I have been painting since I was six years old. That said, I am also and very fast painter and prolific as well. I spent a year just painting every day and produced some of my favorite works. Many of these still life paintings pictured were done that year.

Slide6I paint in many different styles, various mediums and different subjects. I love doing still life, florals, musical instruments and paint “en plein air” (outside while the light changes).


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I decided to go out into the part of my community where there are lots of Tudor and interesting homes with stucco or stonework, and do house portraits.  I painted the houses that caught my eye and I was intrigued with.  People would come by and ask me to come and do their property.

So I had a nice business going and the Shaker Historical Society asked me to do a show and they called it “Storybook Houses.” I have also had two shows at the Butler Institute of Art and sold 15 paintings to the LaBourner Children’s Hospital in Memphis TN. My “Scene It” show traveled to many libraries around Cleveland and I had many art shows and had my work in galleries as well.

I then created a poster for the Shaker Hts. bicentennial poster contest by lining up several of the paintings as though they were on a street. (One of the houses I did was Paul Newman’s house. I never realized it until I showed it to the woman who lived there now and she told me.) How exciting is that?

Here is the poster I created for the Shaker Centennial Contest and the new flier I am working on about my books for two book fairs I will be doing this next month. If in San Diego, go to Elijah’s Deli and see several of my plein air paintings of the area. They have been kind enough to have my work on display for a long time and I have sold paintings there. You never know where you can hang your work, so ask, that’s what I did and now I can send people to see it.Presentation1

Paintout in Cleveland, in an unbelievably gorgeous garden

Slide1 On a reportedly rainy day, we braved the elements and were in awe of this garden by Mrs. Ok-sim Kim. What she created is a marvel in color, various plants and fabulous oriental sculptures (she even created many of them herself.). She created a pond and small vignettes for our viewing pleasure and we all want to go back and paint there again.

Slide2Other than it was cold and threatened rain constantly, we each found a piece of the wonderful sections of the grounds to create our watercolors. Along with our main Monday group of painters (Betty L. Sharon C. and me), we have many other people on our list (and every so often the oldies show up). It was fun seeing old friends like Elinor P. again and Tony F. both came and shared this exceptional experience.

Slide3Everyone hurried as we went to make sure we had a piece to show for our work before the sky opened up. The sun peeked out every so often so it made our efforts worth it, and we had a few opportunities to put in the shadows creating some contrast.

Glad I stayed as it started to rain on the windshield as I drove to this house in Shaker Hts. Ohio. I managed to do two quick watercolors (the 2 on bottom right corner).Slide4

We went back this Monday and we did the front garden. Vernika and Linda joined us. There was no sunshine, it was cold but, it was a lovely way to spend a Fall morning.

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Cleveland Plein Air Painters at work

Slide1Two lovely Mondays, one at Dunham Tavern Museum, a historical place near downtown Cleveland, and one spent in my neighbor Carol’s yard painting her garden.Slide2

At Dunham Tavern, a new gentleman joined Betty, Sharon, Paulette and me but I do not remember his name. We also met Mitzie whom after getting lost, joined us and was a great help at the end with our quick critique. At Carols, Suzette came and sketched all the beautiful flowers for her sculptured jewelry designs. What a way to spend a summer day in Ohio! Wasn’t too hot or too humid so we enjoyed the days.


Thanks to Mitzie, I went and bought myself an Android 9 inch tablet (right now on sale with free shipping at I want to do some painting and drawing on it. I would love to know if anyone has some good art apps. Please email me at Thanks, Penni