Make Your Mark – a mixed media art class

This spring I was selected to teach a class that I created called, “Make your Mark”, at the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton, Virginia. Julia in class I have been inspired by a variety of mixed media and painting instructors, but quite often the courses targeted a more advanced student and I noticed that students who were interested in learning new techniques were feeling overwhelmed. During the winter I dedicated myself to researching and learning methods on how to teach painting and mixed media art. My daily exercise routine of watching Netflix movies while on my stationary bike switched to binging on YouTube, viewing art instruction videos and paint demonstrations. As I pedaled my Schwinn, I took notes in a giant sketchbook with a giant Sharpie marker. From these notes,  I created lesson plans which evolved into an eight-week class based on how to tell a visual story with your own unique voice.

virigina art classWhat does it mean to visually tell a story in a painting? How can our own personal marks help illustrate emotion, character, texture etc.

Make your Mark started on April 2nd, 2018 and ran through May 21st. The students had eight classes to learn how to create their own artistic voice. Our first class started with an icebreaker. We painted a collaborativeShenell and students painting on craft paper and used a small palette of paint.  With brushes dipped we walked around to each table and made a mark. Some brushed, some splattered, some dripped. It was fun to see how each of us chose to mark the paper. Shenell and abstract artWe were not creating a masterpiece; just warming up to each other and getting into our painting mode.

As we progressed through the weeks, we learned how to let our lines speak-giving them a true artistic voice. We learned how build character into our work through texture and collage and we created conflict through contrast, value and tone. DeeThere were seven students in all and half way through the session we began to really bond, feeling more comfortable sharing our work and our stories.

Patty with finished tulips

I owe a giant thank you to my friends who signed up for my class and supported my new endeavor. And another thank you to the new students and now friends that I have made during this new adventure. Myrta with abstract artThey worked hard to learn the new techniques and were super supportive of their newbie teacher.  Teaching at the Workhouse was a new challenge that was a bit out of my comfort zone. Dorothy and abstract artEight weeks later, I am feeling proud of myself for not only creating the class but also successfully teaching structured lessons. The feedback from my students has been encouraging and I look forward to planning another 8-week session for my next class. Stay tuned!

Learn more about the Workhouse Art Center by clicking

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Funny Feet

If truth be told, I am not really a clown person. The make-up always seems a bit scary to me and the face behind the make-up in most cases, seems sad or mad or an emotion that is not really happy.

But, I do find the costumes quite interesting. Bright colors and odd accessories. So, this could explain why my camera was low to the ground, able to capture this

Clown Shoes

clown’s oversized shoes pushing a scooter in the Reston Town Center’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

This image was taken a few years back, in 2013 and I have always liked the colors, the shadow and the idea of a faceless clown. Clown feet are funny enough for me. My husband liked the picture as well and we thought it would make a good addition to the collection of “pop” imagery that we were putting together for the Salon Arlington Show (a bi monthly art event in Arlington, this past weekend.

I asked my oldest son, home from his first semester in college, what this photo meant to him and he replied, thoughtfully, “it’s a metaphor for a person’s journey in life…having big shoes to fill.”  This is doubly interesting coming from a guy with size 15 shoes himself. I appreciated hearing his insight, since for most of the break, he slept past noon and played video games. But, good to know his brain didn’t completely turn to mush during the holiday.

Two of my photos sold at Salon Arlington and one of them was Clown Shoes. The man who purchased the image asked me a little about the story behind the photo. It turns out that he was a friend of one of the other artists, a cartoonist named Mike Jenkins. I had taken a few photos of Mike working from a model as a part of his demonstration. Mike emailed me a thank you and mentioned that his friend, who had purchased the Clown Shoes, was turning 60 this week and he had put the Clown Shoes by his bed-perhaps to remind himself of other inspirational quotes, like” You are only as old as you feel”, or “Put your best foot forward.”

Nevertheless, my photo had accomplished exactly what I had hoped. It made someone smile, added whim to someone’s day and gave me a little bit of insight into my son’s mind as he continues on his college journey.

How do you feel about clowns or filling big shoes?  Let me know and leave me a comment.

My original art and copies of all my art work in various formats (prints, canvas, gifts) can be purchased at

Sweet Dreams

“Sweet Dreams” has been accepted into the upcoming show, “Steel Magnolias” at Tryst Gallery. Reception is this Friday, December 1st, 7:00pm to 9:00pm. The exhibit runs through January 31st, 2018.  More information at

“Sweet Dreams,” is a colorful, mixed media collage that emerged from the darkness of a sleepy, black gesso canvas. It was an exhilarating process throwing colors into the void, finding forms from what started as loose lines and textures. Sweet Dreams - LowI first spotted a vase and as I worked, fun flowers and leaves sprouted their way into the art via collage. Paper petals were created using rice and tissue papers, a gel medium skin left over from my paint palette filled the center of the vase. The swirl of sweet colors inside the vase illustrate the essence of our dreams. The varying stems or paths represent the possibilities and full blooms are fulfilled dreams. “Sweet Dreams,” pays homage to our awakened soul; lightness from darkness, hope and joy.

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Happy Hummingbird

My mixed media teacher, Melanie, had suggested, as an exercise, that we all try to paint a hummingbird into our work. Hummingbirds are fascinating birds, so tiny and jewel like.  Once in a while, a hummingbird visits our deck, attracted to our red and pink begonias. What a treat to peak out from the kitchen window and find a tiny bird, fluttering its wings at the pace of a butterfly. It’s emerald and blue body, a visual charm for the lucky observer.Humming Bird

Hummingbirds are the smallest birds of their species-usually measuring between 3 to 5 inches. They are called hummingbirds because of the sound that their wings make with their rapid flapping. Hummingbirds mostly reside in the tropics, however, there are 17 species in the United States. As with a lot of wildlife, these birds are threatened by the loss of habitat that comes with urban growth. We can make small changes to our own gardens to help sustain the life of the hummingbird. Our tiny bird friends will know that they are welcome when they find plants like honeysuckle, bee balm, sage and tubular flowers to feast on. By adding hummingbird feeders to our yards, we can help them survive the migration. If you are interested in learning more about hummingbirds, the following sites are very informative:

“Happy Hummingbird,” is a sweet reminder of how much happiness we receive from maintaining a vibrant garden. Not only do we have the visual pleasure of the flowers and their nature friends, but we are actively helping our environment by giving back and providing food for precious birds and insects. I look forward to my next hummingbird spotting and in the meantime will continue to incorporate more hummingbirds into my art.

My original art and copies of all my art work in various formats (prints, canvas, gifts) can be purchased at

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Moon Flowers

Artists who venture into their gardens on a warm summer evening may find new inspiration. That is exactly what happened when I decided to take my camera out after the sun had set and the moon was shining over the pond, casting its shimmering rays on the drowsy blooms. Daisies, lilies and hydrangeas seem to smile in their sleep and with my camera set for night, the flower images twinkled in the lens. Moon Flowers

“Moon Flowers,” is a 14 ¼ “ x 5 ½” watercolor paper, mixed media acrylic on cradle board. The tree glistens under the moonlight and the flowers glow as their petals cool from the stifling heat.

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The umbrellas shade a narrow, old city street in Jerusalem on Yoel Moshe Solomon Street in the historic Nachalat Shiva neighborhood. This section of Jerusalem is famous for being one of the first refurbished neighborhoods in the turn of the century. Many families were living within the cities’ walls and only seven known families were bold enough to buy land outside of the protected city. At that time, the Israelis biggest enemies were wild beasts and robbers coming in from the Jaffa Gate.DSC_5545

One man named, Yoseph Rivlin, didn’t seem to be bothered by strangers and opened a coffee bar on his roof top. He may have been the first to have started the coffee café tradition, for it’s hard to miss the array of coffee houses wedged into the city scape.

 The umbrellas showcase this quaint section in Jerusalem and are part of a program which is produced by, Eden-The Jerusalem Center Development Corporation for the municipality. Musicians and artists are scheduled to share their talents under the canopy of colorful umbrellas, bringing the community together, shaded beneath the scouring sun. The umbrellas were initially used as a promotion in Israel to announce the installation of Wi-Fi in the city. The idea of hanging umbrellas in a public place originated with Christo and Jeanne Claude, the artist duo who was famous for creating art installations. Since it never rains in Israel during the summer months, the umbrellas act as a welcome shelter and help to maintain a fun “under” the sun spirit.

My original art and copies of all my art work in various formats (prints, canvas, gifts) can be purchased at

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Water Lilies

There are approximately 70 known species of water lilies which are mainly found in tropical environments. They are round in shape with petals bursting from the water like morning sun rays. DSC_8230

Pink, purple, peach, white, yellow and red blossoms float peacefully above the water, blooming both day and night.
Artists and poets have been inspired by these fascinating flowers. They are a national symbol in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka as well as the official flower for the month of July. And, in some cultures, the lily symbolizes grief and often represents sunsets, and seashores.

“Water Lilies” is an acrylic based, mixed media piece where the lilies are outlined in glue and glazing medium. The petals are poured on with multiple layers of liquid acrylics. The result is a linear painting which can be perceived with a bird’s eye view as well as vertically, where the lilies vibrant jewel tones gracefully cascade into the cool, celestial waters.

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Little Gems

Little Gems was originally inspired by a photo of multi colored glass wind chimes that I photographed at an arts and crafts market in Israel. The glass tiles glistened with jewel tones; sapphire blues, emerald greens, ruby reds and golden ambers.Little Gems

The first layer consists of handmade tissue papers and acrylics. It was originally in my mind to recreate the feeling of the glass tiles gently swaying. As the transparent glass tiles overlapped, they created brilliant colored layers and patterns. So, as I continued to add my paint and collage, I realized that the piece was looking a bit flat and could use more texture. After inking in lines and dripping more acrylics I let the piece rest for a long period of time. Most of my pieces seem to go through a resting stage where I set them on a shelf and contemplate whether they are finished or need extra attention. Since this piece is on the smaller side, the rich tones were a bit overwhelming and there was too much similarity with both the medium and the overall tone. In the end, it needed an extra layer which is when I introduced the color twine which loosely connects the dried paint chunks creating a flying bouquet. The colors, lines, shapes and textures all come together in a harmonic mixed media collage.

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The summer of 2015 our family traveled to Israel. And by family, I mean the whole mish-pa-CHa, (that’s family in Hebrew…make sure to accent the “cha” with a gargly gurgle sound.) We were 13 in total including my parents, my husband and four kids, my brother and sister in law with their two kids and my sister.Thistles Too

13 in Judaism is actually a good luck number for it’s when a child becomes a Bar Mitzvah or an adult in the Jewish community. In a way, our family experienced a Bar Mitzvah traveling to Israel together. It was politically awakening, culturally exhilarating and most of all spiritual. We became educated on Israel’s modern technology, their innovative approaches to agriculture and their secrets to surviving in the middle east.  Learning how to farm fruits and vegetables in over 100 degree weather where water resources are miles away was truly mind blowing.

The Israeli’s are known for creating underground mazes of irrigation systems, channeling water for crops from the Sea of Galilee. What a surreal sight it was to see lush orchards of pomegranate, clementine, fig and date trees. Imagine dessert sand and rock and then fields of yellow, where sunflowers grew to be farmed for flour. The Thistles picture was inspired from a photo that I took in the Golan Heights. I had a personal date to wake at sunrise and photograph the northern terrain as the sun burst pink rays across the fields. The thistles glowed with lush hues-indigo, violet and gold. I returned to the states with not only amazing memories, but over 2,000 photographic gems that continue to inspire my art.

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Ginger the Cat

I was never a cat person. Cats always seemed like creepy, creeping creatures with a sneaky agenda. And though, I am still convinced that cats are a bit surreptitious and sly,  I have become a fan of one particular feline named, Ginger. My husband and I have four children of which, three of them are boys. Child number three is female and has forever sulked about not having a sister sibling. I figured if I could deal with four little humans I could take the plunge and add a furry offspring to the mix. Ginger the cat

Ginger was supposed to be a kitten. When we went to the pet store to “rescue” or adopt our cat, we did not foresee the rules and regulations tacked on to this process by the feline foster families. My daughter had her eyes on a sweet and slick little kitty that shined like freshly poured ink. She had been cuddling this cutie for quite some time  and it was evident that a bond had been formed. When my husband had filled out the paper work and was getting ready to pay and make our adoption official, the foster parent of the cat asked whether or not we had any other pets in the house. We were clueless that by answering “no” we would be breaking our daughter’s heart. Feline foster parents aim to place kittens into homes with current pets for the purpose of socialization. As my daughter’s tears dripped onto the sweet little kitty, the foster parent scooped the sweet ball of fur out of her arms and told her to find a cat at least one year old. After two hours of examining crate labels for cat birth dates, we found a one year old cat named Ginger. Luckily, Ginger was petite and cuddly at the time and our daughter was able to make a quick connection. Once we brought Ginger home, she became the star of our house and neighborhood. She has become a subject for my photography which in turn inspired my mixed media painting. she has starred in home made videos documenting her ever so sneaky behaviors: helping herself to freshly baked challahs, sitting in the middle of the kitchen table and daintily licking milk from a glass with her paws, wedging herself into the pantry to pull out her favorite brand of potato chips. She has a laundry list of her furry tales and acts as a furry muse to her less furry mom.

My original art and copies of all my art work in various formats (prints, canvas, gifts) can be purchased at

If you would like custom work, please email me at