Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Snow Bird, Watercolor by Linda Knoll, 2010

Friday, November 9, 2012

Picture for a Stormy Day

Ancient Bristlecone, watercolor by Linda Knoll. The original is sold, prints are available.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Art of Justice

The Art of Justice is a fundraising project for the Stanislaus County Family Justice Center, an organization that provides coordinated services to victims and survivors of domestic violence. Somewhere around 50 local artists, including myself, created art works inspired by, or actually including art produced by children in the Center's ARK (Art Restores Kids) program. All the pieces will be for sale to benefit the Center. 

My inspiration was provided by 7-year-old Savanna. I picked this piece because I liked the colors, and I had hope that the mom truly did get out of the violent situation.
One of my favorite subjects to paint is plants and flowers, and these ferocious looking fly traps had some fabulous colors -- just right to go with my butterfly fairy mom. I thought it would be appropriate for mom to be escaping this  dangerous landscape. No matter how pretty or sweet they look, these spiky fiends are dangerous.

I started with a quick marker sketch to work out the basic composition of my painting. 
Then, using additional reference of "carnivorous" plants, I sketched out the plants in more detail. Then, I transferred the sketch onto my final watercolor paper.

I started painting the fairy first to establish the color palette. My greens are mainly created by mixing two of my favorite colors, quinacridone gold and cerulean blue. When I got this far, I realized I had a little problem with her leg, which I fixed before going much further. Later I added a little more detail to her facial features.

I debated whether to just start in painting, or work with a lot of masking fluid right off. After getting this far and realizing how difficult it would be to get around all those spikes, I decided to go with the masking fluid.

The little plant I added here is called  "sundew." Its another plant that attracts insects with its sweet, sticky juice.

I worked detail from front to back, except for the sky. And I should have left it for last. Cerulean is a "sedimentary" color, and can sometimes appear blotchy, which it definitely did here. 

Instead of trying to even out the whole sky, I opted to add some more greenery in the background. I think it added a little more depth, so I was happy with the change.

The rest of the sky was evened out somewhat. I added final details to the foliage. Lastly, I added a painted border because I didn't want to mat over her wingtip. 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Just Added

Look to the right at the sidebar. I just added an easy link for purchasing prints of my art from Imagekind! These prints are archival quality, a variety of paper or canvas, framed or not. Super fast delivery. I hope you check it out!

Friday, August 24, 2012

New Project

From "Hans My Hedgehog" by Brothers Grimm
I'm thinking of making a series of short re-tellings of some lesser known Grimm's Fairy Tales. Some of these stories are really crazy!

First, I'd illustrate, then make miniature hand-made books. Sounds like a lot of work, right? Well, I have a couple of illustrations started, so lets see how it goes.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Practicality of Passion

This past weekend I attended the national conference of the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators). All weekend I was greatly inspired, but also a little frustrated and confused. People kept saying that I needed to work on what I had passion for -- to follow my dreams. And I kept thinking, I’m not passionate about SOMETHING, and I don’t know what my ultimate dream is. I started thinking I was going to be a failure if I couldn’t identify the one thing that I was passionate enough about to devote all my energy to it and therefore make it successful.

As I was sitting in the airport, on my way home from listening to a weekend chock full of passion, I came across a blog post by a Alyson Stanfield who consults with artists on the business of being an artist. She says she never tells artists to just “follow your passion.” You can read her entire post at the link below. It rang SO true for me that I breathed a sigh of relief. I wasn’t broken and passionless after all!

I am a passionate person. I’m just not passionate about any ONE thing. I am passionate about whatever I am doing at the moment, no matter what it is. I could be taking apart the vacuum cleaner in an attempt to make it work again, and I would be passionate about doing it at that moment.

A Passion for Books

I am passionate about books. I love books. Even if I don’t like the story, I am passionate about the presence of books in a library or book store. When I read a book, I am passionate about it. I care about the characters and their fate. Sometimes I can’t put it down to do more practical things.

I intend to keep working on children's books. Whichever subject that inspires my attention is the one that I will be working on. I came home from the conference with several ideas that are going to be igniting my passions for a while.

A Passion for Art

When I left full-time employment, I started working more with my own art. I had always played at it. But I had never really taken it seriously. I’d say I’m passionate about art. Even so, I can’t say I am passionate about painting this or that subject. I bounce around between subjects, because I enjoy painting whatever makes me passionate at that moment. It could be an insect. Or a flower. Or a landscape. Or a child. At the moment when I look carefully, and notice every detail about the THING, I become excited to put it down on paper. Then I am done, and I look around to see if there is another thing that will make me as excited. Sometimes, there is something. Sometimes not.

A Passion for Teaching

I worked full time as a teacher for 5 years. Every day I was passionate about going to work and teaching and making it meaningful for whatever students I encountered. At home, I planned, graded, organized... I thought about my next day, my next week, at almost every moment. I am still passionate about teaching, even if it is only part time.

I have always been in awe (and admittedly a little envious) of people who devote their entire lives to a particular “cause”. I know that I am unable to do it. I don't think I could sustain an interest in ONE particular thing for a lifetime. But I just realized, and I think I’m OK with the fact that, I am interested in whatever it is that I choose to work on. And I can be passionate about that one thing while I’m working on it. And then I can go on to the next thing.

The difficulty I sometimes have is when one of these things must be put aside to accomplish the other. I feel guilty if I let one thing slide. I worry that I've LOST my passion for it. But, I think now I feel confident that I must stay tuned to the moment I'm in, have passion for my work, whatever it is, and be happy that I have the opportunity to work on so much that is beautiful and worthwhile.

  1. Something changes deep inside many people when they start asking for money for what they’re passionate about.
  2. Most of us have multiple passions.
  3. You can’t make a living from passion alone.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Trying New Mediums

Napping Kitty in the Meadow, oak gall ink, 9x12"

Maybe I just get bored too easily, but I always like trying new mediums. Today I opened up a bottle of oak gall ink. My daughter had purchased it around Christmas and used it a couple of times, but it was just sitting there...

It has a weird smell.

And it works like magic. It goes on really watery looking - almost transparent. But as it dries, it gets darker. And if you layer it, you get beautiful variations of a rich purplish gray.

I tried using both a brush and a metal pen knib. Both worked fine. I ended up with darker lines using the pen. In a couple of spots, I washed on a little water. The ink bleeds -- its not permanent, even after its dry, but it doesn't wash away completely.

Meadow Foliage, oak gall ink, 9x12"
I'm headed for the ocean this weekend. So I think I'll do a few more like this.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Letting Go of Original Paintings

I am always torn when I sell an original painting that I really like. It makes me happy that someone values my work enough to pay money for it. Yet, I become attached -- especially a painting that has been sitting around my house for a while. On the other hand, it isn't actually doing any good just sitting around my house. I would rather see it out in the world, hopefully making someone else happy.

Honey Bees, from "Over in the Valley"
So, today, I have to say goodbye to the honey bees. Go, be happy.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Wanted: New Faces

Win a portrait like this!
In an effort to get more people to see me and my work, I am going to hold a drawing. Anyone who starts following me here, or "likes" one of my Facebook pages, will be entered to win a free 9"x12" original portrait like the one here, or an 11" x 14" signed print of your choice (see the fine art tab). 
To those who already follow me, thank you! And I will enter you into the drawing as well if you comment here or are mentioned by a new friend in a comment.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Judges are Fickle

The Oak Path,  9x12" watercolor, $300
The more I enter into juried shows, the more bewildered I become. This painting, The Oak Path, recently won a category 1st place at Central California Art Association's spring show. I entered it along with three other paintings which were all accepted into the show.

I almost didn't enter this one.

I painted it one morning a few months ago on the grounds of Ironstone Vineyards (where I was at a reception for another painting which had won a prize -- see my prior post). I don't actually paint "en plein aire" very often, but it was a beautiful day.

It turned out pretty good, I thought. But, its small, and not that unusual. I'd like to ask the judge what made her pick this one over the others in the category. I guess I should just be happy about it. The prize paid for the framing.

Brussels Sprouts, 16 x 20" watercolor, $600
I actually won another prize in the same show -- a second place in the still life category -- for a painting I thought was actually much better. Brussels Sprouts took a lot more skill to execute, more time, its bigger.... I'll just be happy about this prize as well.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Summer Art Fun

Get your young ones signed up for one of my great camps and or classes! Take your pick: 2 weeks available at my home studio (see below, call me to register), two 3-day sessions at the Great Valley Museum in Modesto (see also below, register at the museum), or one of the fabulous camps scheduled in the Turlock at the Carnegie Arts Center (register online at  http://register.asapconnected.com/Courses.aspx?CourseGroupID=4011)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Almost Ready for Open Studio

Its already Wednesday, and Stanislaus Artists Open Studio is this weekend! My family and I have been working hard to get our place ready for guests, and I've got a lot of new work to show you. 

Brussels Sprouts, 16 x 20" Watercolor,  2012
The event happens Saturday and Sunday, April 14-15, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Joining me at my studio will be ceramic artists Kate Pethoud. Additionally,  my daughter, Elizabeth, will have some fabulous drawings on display. And my mom will show some watercolors as well.

We'll have some LIVE music on Saturday afternoon, food and beverages. That includes some tasters from Dustbowl Brewing Co, a local micro-brewery, wine and homemade treats that are featured in our family cookbook (which will be for sale).

I will have tour maps available for sale ($10) if you haven't had a chance to get one. When you purchase a map, you can enter a drawing to win one of 5 original works of art -- my "Innertubes" painting will be one of the works given away in the drawing. 

This link is to a video of several of the artists on the tour. I'm the first 3 minutes. http://vimeo.com/39575259 

"Obsession" poster

I've had a busy spring, so far! In January, my painting "Laundry Day" won a first place award at Delicato Winery's annual show.  I also won an award at Ironstone Vineyard's annual show. My painting "Red Tulip Forest" is featured on the show's publicity poster. I will have a limited number of those posters signed, and for sale.

Please let me know if you'd like more information, or directions. Hope to see you here!

For more information on the county-wide event, visit www.stanislausaos.wordpress.com.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Modesto area artists throw open door on their work - Life - Modbee.com

Innertubes, 15 x 18" watercolor
Modesto area artists throw open door on their work - Life - Modbee.com

Innertubes will be one of the paintings given away as a prize in the drawing at this year's Stanislaus Open Studio Tour. All you have to do is purchase a map/ticket booklet, and enter your name at one of the studios.

Contact me to purchase a map or visit

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Incentive to get work done

I've been very busy teaching classes this month. Between STARS classes, after school program, and home school students, my days are spent scurrying between schools and restocking supplies.

Yosemite Falls from Sentinel Bridge
Original Watercolor, 9x12" unframed $200
However, the upcoming Stanislaus Artists Open Studio weekend is coming up fast -- April 14-15! I am working hard to get some new work done for that weekend. I just finished a couple of new small paintings, and one larger one that I'm happy with.

Laundry Day
Original Watercolor, 22 x 30" framed $900
Prints also Available
I will also be demonstrating a work in progress during the event. If anyone attended last year, you might remember that was the weekend I started "Laundry Day". It ended up taking a couple of months to complete. But I think it turned out nicely, and it is for sale.

I've been making steady progress on my next children's book as well, and should have a sample copy for viewing and pre-purchase. My goal is to have it finished by June. The title is "Patient for Pumpkins." It features trips to the local farmer's market, seasonal fruits and vegetables, and the rewards of being patient.

Back to work...

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Back to School

Its back to school this week, and I'm starting the spring off with a bunch of new students, and a few returning. Today at Independence Charter, my returning students created these bird collages using textures - created and found. We used ideas from Eric Carle's "Animals, Animals" book of poetry for examples.

This little group is a challenge because I never know how many will show up for class (they are home schooled) and the ages vary from kindergarten to 8th grade. But we always seem to find something fun to do!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Is it really winter?

We haven't had much of a winter yet, here in Modesto. And spring is just around the corner. Almost time for daffodils and camellias and tulips.

I'm not very good at thinking ahead... so when I got a hold of an entry form who's due date was Jan. 6, I said, geez I'm not going to miss that deadline AGAIN. So this week I painted this pretty watercolor to enter into Ironstone Vineyard's themed competition. Don't know if it'll even get accepted, but I like it.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Portraits Make a Great Gift

Happy New Year! The holidays are done. I had a fun time at all the markets and craft fairs I attended. Sold quite a few prints, books and various little things. I did quite a few portraits this year, and I have a couple more in the works.

The first portrait I ever did of my daughter (above), I think is still one of my best.  I'm challenging myself to stay loose -- not too much unnecessary detail. Thanks to everyone who allowed me to portray their family, friends and pets!