Monday, December 17, 2007

Latest Projects

I have just learned how to hand-decorate paper in a stunning way and doing this is my obsession this week. Diane Havnen-Smith and I spent a wonderful day in her Clackamas studio where she taught me some of what she learned from paper artist Jackie Crist. Above you will see a section of Diane's paper (third image down) and a section from my first attempt. I went out to Beaverton yesterday to pick up some "re-inkers" from The Peddler's Pack. (Re-inkers are one of the vital ingredients in this paper-designing process.) This wonderful store has more stamps than I have ever seen in one place as well as tons of other art supplies. Even if, like me, you fear the suburbs, it is well worth the trip. I found out from the owner that Jackie Crist will be teaching her paper decorating process there in January. I strongly recommend this class--this process is unusual and very relaxing, and you end up with amazing paper to use in collage, with painting, with encaustic , to cover books, wrap special gifts, and on and on...To register, contact

Along with several co-members of the Portland Chapter of International Encaustic Artists, I am participating in a challenging exchange called, "The Diptych Project." (In case you don't know what a diptych is, it is a painting in two parts.) How this project works is that each of us West Coast artists receives a painted encaustic panel and a blank one of the same size from our "partner", one of the members of New England Wax. We have to complete the blank panel in a way that will make our partner's panel and ours become a complete work in two parts. We West Coasters paint another encaustic and send it and a blank panel to our New England partner. So we end up with one diptych here and one in Portland Maine. In February there will be a simultaneous show in Portland OR and Portland ME. Ours will be at Brian Marki Gallery.

This is a way cool idea and is more challenging than many of us thought. Many of us here in Portland have received paintings done in a very different style from our own. My partner's amazing encaustic can be seen above, the first image. Her name is Dawna Bemis. I just love it, but she does paint differently than I do. She's neat and I'm messy. I can't even figure out how she did some of the painting, like the dotted circles. And is that a comb at the bottom? So, after a period of being completely overwhelmed and having to come up with my own painting for her to complete, I wasn't so sure about this. I managed to lighten up and now I'm excited again and eager to play with the challenge of making a panel to go with hers that is still true to my own vision. There are some tiny words on her picture that say, "What if they find out". This gives me some interesting ideas for the other half of the painting.

The second picture above shows the completed panel I will send to my diptych partner, together with a blank panel. I even managed to use some of my handmade paper in it! I was inspired by Dawna's words to add text on my painting. Mine says, "I thought there was more time." I can't wait to see what she does with her blank panel!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Crazy for Paper Dolls

Lately I have renewed my interest in making paper dolls and fabulous outfits for them to wear. Does this mean I have returned to childhood? I suspect it means that in terms of loving to play I have never left it. I loved paper dolls as a child and still feel a thrill when I think about it. I loved picking them out in the store and cutting out the little tabs and "cut here"s, and then getting to see the outfits on the doll for the first time. So what if you had to hold the clothes on tightly as you made the doll bound through her exciting day?

Now I get to create my own dolls. In the past I have made paper dolls of Mona Lisa, Berthe Morisot (Impressionist painter), Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas. Jane Austen. and artist Suzanne Valadon. Alas, all but the first two are gone and you can buy a perfectly good Jane Austen commercially. However, it is time to bring back the others and add to the collection. Anyone you'd like to see in paper doll form?

You can see Mona and Berthe paper dolls at this coming weekend's 2nd Annual Holiday Sale. Diane, Jane, and I hope you'll come by and see us and have some treats and wassail. The two paper dolls are now also available at (where else?) the delightful shop, Paperdoll, 7909 SE Stark St. Owner Janene is holding a Birthday Bash this Saturday, so stop by after our sale and see what lovely supplies and gifts she has.

Thinking ahead, here's the Winter Class Schedule for The Art of Your Life:
Email me if you would like to register or have questions.

Banish cold and dreariness! Join us for exciting

Winter Creativity Workshops at

The Art of Life Studio!

January 20 10 AM-4 PM

Layers of Memory & Imagination

Create original collages in an exciting and productive workshop! Bring two images that you love, such as a reproduction of a vintage family portrait or a face from an old master painting. A variety of materials will be available to add to your images. You’ll learn fun techniques to create work that expresses your unique vision. You’ll leave with two magical collages.
Morning snacks provided. Bring a brown bag lunch and two canvases or canvas boards. All other supplies provided. Tuition: 90.

February 24 1-5 PM

Altered Alchemy

Come join us for this mind and book altering workshop! Bring an older book with a sewn binding. All other materials provided! We’ll explore using collage, painting, and embellishments, practice creating windows and niches, and discover many more fun altered book techniques. Tuition: 45.

March 30 1-5 PM

The Forgiving Medium

No, I’m not talking about a compassionate clairvoyant. I’m referring to acrylic paint and a fun and supportive workshop for beginners! Acrylics dry quickly, have brilliant colors, and can be painted over as many times as you want. We’ll cover ways to use acrylics from transparent washes to thick texture. We’ll experiment with mixing colors and explore various acrylic mediums and how they enhance acrylic paintings. Bring your desire to experiment and leave with two paintings. Bring two canvases or canvas boards in a size you’d like to work in: everything else is supplied. Tuition: 65.

Happy Holiday Season!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

December: A New Workshop & A 3-Artist Show

December brings a gift-making workshop, "Hand-Made for the Holidays", and a three-artist holiday show and sale. Avoid the manic malls! Make a unique accordian book for someone special and/or pick up one of our unusual handmade gifts at the holiday sale.

"Hand-Made for the Holidays"

Create a personal accordian book for gift-giving! Bring copies of photos and 2-D memorabilia to mix with our plentiful supplies. You'll produce an attractive work of love for someone special. Sunday, December 9 from 10 AM-4PM
Bring a sack lunch and your images

(See accordian book above)

Tuition: 100. (includes supplies)
To Register: Send a 50. deposit to: Serena Barton, 1210 SE Oak St., Portland OR 97214. Feel free to email me at: or call: 971-404-7664 with any questions.

Holiday Show & Sale
The Art of Your Life & Innerstandings Studios
Art by: Serena Barton, Jane Kearney, & Diane Havnen Smith

(See pendant by Jane Kearney above)

1210 SE Oak St., Portland
Friday, December 7 6-9 PM
Saturday, December 8 11 AM-4PM

You'll find book arts, fine art pieces, paper dolls, photography, journals, jewelry and more. You can even sit down and make your own collage when all the heady shopping possibilities overwhelm you!

Thanks to all of you who have made art, viewed art, and loved art at The Art of Your Life this year! Have a loving and peaceful holiday season!

All warm wishes,


Sunday, November 18, 2007

More November News

Here are a couple of pictures from my recent show that opened in Seattle on First Friday. The show is at Frame Up Studios in the Fremont District and will be up through November. The opening was lots of fun and I got to meet many art lovers from Seattle and a few visiting from Portland.

I have an opening in my women's creativity group, The Art of Life. This is a creativity/support group that meets Tuesday evenings from 7-9 PM. We are a humorous, irreverent bunch who explore all kinds of media with abandon. No previous art experience is necessary--really! The tuition is 35. for each two hour group. Supplies and inspiration are provided!

AMHA Open Studio

Several members and colleagues of the American Mental Health Alliance-Oregon Chapter got together today at my studio to play around with art and chat. This was the first in what will be regular Open Studios where mental health types can let loose and make art. Above are a few works that photographed ok with my phone camera, though the real pieces are much better in person. We had a great time and could have gone on all day and night with our fun!

To find out more about the AMHA, go to:
This is a dedicated professional group that helps folks find a therapist who is right for them, holds educational and networking events for members and colleagues, and continues to work for privacy for mental health and counseling clients.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

As promised, more pictures from PSU class

Here are some more pictures from "Living to Paint/Painting to Live" at PSU.

"Living to Paint/Painting to Live" at PSU

Today I finished teaching another wonderful PSU weekend class on two women artists. This class covered the lives of Sofonisba Anguissola and Artemisia Gentileschi.

Sofonisba, who was born about 1532-35, lived to be in her nineties. She served as lady in waiting and court painter at the court of Philip II of Spain. She began the tradition of genre painting, which refers to painting real people in scenes of their everyday lives. She was known for her wit and her psychologically astute painting.

Artemisia is one of the Baroque periods finest painters. She is known for the strong, bold, and active women that appear in her portraits and mythological works. She overcame many personal and financial hardships to become extremely successful and honored in her time.

Above are some of the projects done by students in this weekend's class. ( Because I can only put up 5 images at at time, see the next blog for more images.) I never cease to be moved and delighted by the energy the students can put in to their projects and the outcomes they achieve. This isn't easy, as they have only a couple of hours or less to produce their work! I'd say this group did an incredible job.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The Abbess and the Entrepreneur Inspire Women Today

Above: Student work from "The Abbess & the Entrepreneur" at PSU

A couple of weekends ago I taught the first in a series of classes on women artists. This is a Portland State University 1 credit series that I proposed and have had accepted for this year. The class was all women students of various ages. For most, this was their first Women's Studies class and the first class about art. We explored the highly diverse and fascinating lives of Caterina Vigri, also known as St. Catherine of Bologna, and Lavinia Fontana, Europe's first woman artist to compete with men in the art marketplace.

Caterina (1414-14630 gave up a lavish life at court to become a nun in her early teens. She later became an Abbess of a Poor Clare convent, wrote a book, poetry, music, and painted.

Lavinia Fontana (1222-1614) supported her parents, her husband, herself, and gave birth to eleven children. She was famous throughout her native Bologna and other parts of Italy for her portraits, religious, and mythological paintings.

The members of the PSU class did creative projects based on the lives and works of the two artists we studied. Several made evocative collages for both women. One student wrote a poem to each woman. The poems were so deeply felt they had several of us in tears. Another student drew her visions of the two artists and said it was "the first time I have drawn in 20 years."

I am happy to see that my belief has proven to be correct; that women of the past can provide inspiration for women (and men) today to overcome obstacles and to create lives full of meaning.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

A Bold, Vibrant Show opening First Friday

Sierra Briano, a passionate and powerful artist, will show new work at The Art of Your Life First Friday Art Show on November 2. I've loved Sierra's work ever since I first saw it and she keeps growing as an artist, exploring new terrain with a bold gusto. The upcoming show is called "Immigration Reform" and is a political and humorous look at ethnic and class issues in the U.S.

Sierra received her BFA from Marylhurst. She has shown at many galleries locally and out of state. She has received several grants for public art. Sierra was an inspiration for me in my commitment to becoming an artist in mid-life.

I'll get to see all the work when I help hang it, but I'll miss the First Friday at Art of Your Life as I have a show opening in Seattle that night. I hope all who can will come join Sierra to see this amazing work and to enjoy her bountiful and humorous personality. The First Friday show is part of the Central Eastside Arts District Art Walk. (

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Pictures from Encaustic Romance Show

Eight of us from the Portland Chapter of International Encaustic Artists had a great time at "Encaustic Romance", the First Friday show at The Art of Your Life Studio. Our many guests seemed to be having a wonderful time also. Several were introduced to encaustic work for the first time by seeing the show. Some were just starting their own encaustic paintings, while still others were experienced artist themselves. Many people noted that the show was striking in that it showed such a wide variety of work, all made with beeswax, resin, and pigment. Some of the work introduced collage elements into the encaustic pigment.

I did something weird with my camera later in the evening. I don't know what happened as my camera is too complicated for me to understand fully. Anyway, as you can see, the crowd scene looks like a bunch of ghosts. I assure you, everyone there was real, having a "real" good time.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Two More Workshops in 2007 and Other News

The Nature of the Signs for the Seattle show, Vestiges

Work by first-time portrait painters in previous workshops

Day of the Dead Shrine Box

Here we are suddenly deep into fall. Like most people I know, I'm finding myself unbelievably busy. At the same time I'm going around so darn happy because I am doing what I love.

Right now I'm getting ready for this coming First Friday's show at The Art of Your Life, "Encaustic Romance." The seven other artists have delivered their work, amazing in its variety. I'm also getting ready for a show at Frame Up Studios in Seattle's Fremont District on the First Friday of November. I'll have a solo show there called "Vestiges." While I'm celebrating First Friday in Seattle, painter Sierra Briano will be showing at The Art of Your Life. Her newest work has a political but humorous bent and deals with immigration issues. Look for more about this show soon!

If you want to take some unusual art workshops before the year ends, mark your calendars for these:

October 28: Dia de los Muertos Fiesta

Play and celebrate while you construct a Day of the Dead shrine for someone you want to remember and honor. We’ll have lots of inspiring materials on hand and join together in a feast for our loved ones. Tuition: 60. Bring copies of special photos if you wish. Other materials supplied.

November 10 & 11: Not Just a Pretty Face

Two days of experimenting with paint effects and techniques. Paint fascinating and expressive portraits by learning from the masters. Get to know your subjects and how to use the magic of paint to bring them to life! You will experiment with realistic, impressionistic, maybe even abstract faces as you begin to develop your own unique vision and style. You’ll learn about composition, color, layering, and painting techniques. These days promise to be fun and exciting as you rediscover the joy of painting! You will leave with several studies and a finished painting on canvas. Come inspired and leave even more so! Tuition: 170. All materials supplied! Given at Scarlet Star Studios, contact:

Remember, you and a few friends can arrange to schedule a workshop just for you at my studio or at your home!

Monday, September 24, 2007

First Friday: Encaustic Romance

First Friday Art Opening!
October 5th, 6-9 PM
The Art of Your Life Studio
1210 SE Oak St.,Portland
Member: Central Eastside Arts District

The Art of Your Life will host an exciting show of encaustic pieces by eight members of the Portland Chapter of the International Encaustic Artists group. Come and see the many different ways this amazing medium can produce luminescent paintings, from abstract to representational paintings and mixed media pieces! Artists showing are: Serena Barton, Andrea Benson, Natasia Chan, Kimberly Kent, Inanna McGraw, Amy Stoner, Mazarine Treyz, and Linda Womack.

The above works are by: Serena Barton, Kimberly Kent, and Linda Womack.

Here's some information on what encaustic means:

The term encaustic comes from the Greek word “encaustikos” meaning to burn in. Greek artists were painting with encaustic as long ago as the 5th century BCE. While almost lost for a time, this ancient art has enjoyed a resurgence of popularity during the last 15 years. This renaissance is due to improved tools, available information on the process and most important, the lustrous appearance of the work.

Encaustic refers to the process of painting with molten wax (usually beeswax), resin, and pigments that are fused after application into a continuous layer and fixed to a support with heat. Because the wax cools in minutes, additional coats can be added almost immediately, yet the painting can be reworked at any time in the future. The surface can be made smooth or roughly textured and can be incised to show layers below the surface.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Next Workshop: Layers of Memory/Imagination

The next workshop at The Art of Life will be a unique collage workshop called "Layers of Memory/Layers of Imagination." For this workshop bring several copies of two images that you love. This could be a vintage family photo or a reproduction of an old master painting, for example. A variety of interesting materials will be available to add to your images. You’ll leave with two magical collages.

Sunday, September 10 from 10-4
Bring a brown bag lunch, your image copies, and your willingness to experiment. No previous art experience required!

The Art of Your Life Studio
1210 SE Oak St., Portland

Pictures from "The Forgiving Medium"

Last weekend's acrylic workshop was terrific! Here are a few pictures from work in progress. Everyone was enthusiastic and willing to experiment with many techniques from thin washes to thick impasto paintings. Many thanks to those who participated!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

International Encaustic Artists: Portland Chapter

I recently joined the Portland chapter of International Encaustic Artists, a non profit organization dedicated to supporting encaustic artists and furthering the opportunities for people to see work in this wonderful medium. I went to my first meeting last week and was thrilled to be among others who are in love with beeswax! We talked for hours, trading techniques and viewing each other's work. Encaustic is hot (pun intended) here in Portland.

For those wondering what encaustic is, here's a brief definition.

Encaustic refers to the process of painting with molten beeswax, resin, and pigments that are fused after application into a continuous layer and fixed to a support with heat. Because it cools in minutes, more coats can be added almost immediately. Once the surface has cooled an encaustic painting presents a permanent finish, yet the painting can be revised and reworked at any time. Encaustic can be applied in thin glazes or thickly in relief. It can be scraped, carved, left roughly textured or made smooth.

For a chance to see the amazing variety of effects that can be achieved with encaustic, come to the next First Friday opening at The Art of Your Life Studio. We'll have eight members of the local IEA showing work in our exhibition, Encaustic Romance.
Several members also teach encaustic classes. I'm not yet sure who all of them are, but for starters, you can contact Linda Womack at
and Andrea Benson at

The pictures in this post are by Andrea and Linda who will be in the October First Friday show, along with Amy Stoner, Natasia Chan, Marlene Treyz, Kimberly Kent, Inanna McGraw, and me.

Workshops Next Weekend!

The two workshops below are scheduled for next weekend at The Art of Your Life.

The Forgiving Medium

Not a compassionate clairvoyant. but a fun and supportive acrylic workshop for beginners! Some of the great qualities of acrylics are: they dry quickly, they have brilliant colors, they are easy to use, and they can be painted over as many times as you want. Bring your desire to experiment and leave with two small paintings.

September 15th

12-4 PM

Led by Serena Barton

Tuition: 60. (includes most supplies)

The Art of Your Life Studio

1210 SE Oak St. Portland


Meet Your Muse!

Have fun exploring with creative exercises designed to unleash your inspiration! Create your Secret Book. Design your plan for keeping regular dates with your Muse.

September 16
10 AM to 4PM. Morning snacks and all materials provided. Bring a brown bag lunch. Tuition: 90.

Flora & Fauna Show

Here are some pictures of last week's First Friday show, Flora and Fauna. We had a great turnout and several sales! Thanks to all who stopped by The Art of Your Life to view the work by Julia Gardner, Katie Evans, and Serena Barton.