Friday, November 2, 2012

My beginning at writing children stories

Jack Le Brie
Digital illustration

Meet Jack Le Brie

It appears that I have neglected my blog for a while now, but the reason for the absence was that I’ve been really busy.
I have not been creating new paintings at this time, but I have been creating children stories with the idea of illustrating them.
These stories have been churning in my head since August.  They are about little creature, invisible to humans and most animals, and who have an irritating habit of knotting children’s hair, or the pets fur, in the house they live in.  However, the animals, unlike the humans, can hear them and have an affinity for their company.
I have started 2 such stories: one is of Emma Le Brie, a very competitive knotty who will stop at nothing to keep her crown, and the second one is about Jack, one of her younger brothers who faces the loss of his best friend, the family dog.
Last night I made the commitment (yes, I know, it’s crazy) to participate in the Nanowrimo challenge of writing 50,000 words by midnight November 30th.  The rules are that you must start with a new novel, which I rather call story, it’s less intimidating.  Of course, this would be the first draft, so it does not have to be perfect.  I started writing the story of Jack, which I titled Sad as a tumbleweed.  During the challenge, you are encouraged to write 1,667 words a day.  Will I manage to write so much every day?  Most likely, not, but still I want to see where this experience will take me.
Who is my muse, you wonder?  Why it’s my granddaughter.  We invented these little characters and named them knotties.  It all started when she complained each time I tried coming knots out of her hair.  I would say “It looks like the knotties have been busy again.  From there on, we began making up stories of their adventures.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Time to say Goodby

A Time to say Goodby
Have you ever felt nostalgic about your childhood summer vacation?  Have you ever felt (just) a little sorry when your children or grandchildren head out back to school in the end of Summer vacation?

 when I was playing with this image, I was thinking of how children might feel about the summer coming to an end, a time to say goodby to great adventures.

It took me back to Summer vacation in Belgium as an 8 year old. My brothers and I spent a lot of time outside, either at kids camp or in my grandparents garden.
The first week of school was always a shock.  Been indoors, waiting for school to be out, felt like an eternity.  My head would automatically turn to the windows and my mind would wonder far far away.

Ever felt that way?  Would I love to hear about it!


                                                        Illustration done with Photoshop and the use of  a mouse

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Dreaming of Tales

The little genie from Kashgar

Last week, I had fun working on this illustration.   The theme transports me during a time of the Silk Road, and this is why I chose to tile "The Little Genie from Kashgar".  It's a story born entirely from my imagination.  Someday perhaps I'll find the time to develop it.
Meanwhile I'm using it for as the back of my new business cards.  

I would also like to invite you to brows in my new site Dreaming of Tales.  It's solely dedicated to my new  illustrations, and years past.

Drop a word. would love to know what you think.

Friday, May 18, 2012


On Saturday May 26, Memorial Day weekend, I'll be showing my art work at the Paso Robles Festival of the Arts .  This is my first time to show at this location, and outdoors.  It's a beautiful area full of trees and a great atmosphere.
I've spent most of the week getting ready for this show by going through each of my framed mono-prints, cleaning the glass and making sure that they were in hanging order.  Now I'm ready to do the same with my encaustics paintings and carefully bubble wrapping them for the transport.  I've just updated my business cards, and am now printing information of each of my pieces, as well as artist's intent to handout to anyone interested in the process of my work.
Please go to the link and see the many activities.  Hope you can make it there.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Over the years, since I've had my Photoshop software, I've manipulated my own photography and morphed them into an entirely new images that lends themselves to possible illustrations.  I've kept many of these images in a box and on hard-drives, and on occasions, pull them out and try my hand at illustrating.

It wasn't until January that I've decided really give it a go, and make actual illustrations.
Here are the first two attempt:  Pigeon Vole" which doesn't tell a story, but is the name for a toddler's game in French speaking countries, and my second illustration is "The Blue Phoenix".
 As for the stories, I make them up as I go and tell them to my granddaughter.

Both were made in oils and cold wax.

 Pigeon Vole
20 X 16"
Oil and cold wax on canvas

The under painting of "Pigeon Vole"

The Blue Phoenix 
16 X 20"
Oil and cold wax on canvas

Monday, March 26, 2012


In this post, my aim is to explain the step by step, and experience, I had painting a portrait, using mixed media of  cold wax/oils.  
I've done portraits before, but never with mixed media.  

A year ago during one of her visits, my granddaughter was watching me mix cold wax medium with oil paints.  I was showing her how the tactile texture and jewel effect that transparent colored wax, looked like bits of colored glass.   As always, during such visits, she brings into the studio her sense of play, wonderment, and her child's view of the world, which always enriches me.  I, in return,  genuinely appreciate her art work, and  always encourage her efforts  by allow her ( under my supervision) the use of my art supplies.
During that visit I was inspired to paint her portrait with an example of her art work.  The criteria were to capture her likeness, and her extrovert curiosity.  I tried to accomplish this by including her very thick free flowing hair, her direct gaze, an strong high key colors in the hope of expressing her sense of exuberance.  This portrait took several months to complete, and almost a year later went back to the studio for more fine tuning.

This is the end result of her portrait.

Girl with Crayons
30 X 24"
Cold wax / oils on canvas

I began by applying a layer of oils paint as a foundation to the canvas. 
 Next I added  with a pallet knife,  different layer of cold wax medium mixed with oil paint .  
Then I painted a copy of one of her original art work which depicts her house.   This was also  done in cold wax/ oils and oil crayons. 

Now I had to decide how large I wanted the figure to be.  So I taped a large sketch paper to the painting and did a quick drawing to give myself an idea of the scale  of the portrait.  

To capture her likeness, I first began to draw a grid on a 8"x10' photograph of her.  Next, on a larger piece of paper, I increased the grid scale, and began drawing the lines seen from each square of my small grid into the squares of  my larger grid.   In this way, I could draw a large figure from a small one.  When my drawing was finished, I cut it out of the paper.

In the area of the face I also divided the squares into diagonals.  
All these lines help me map out were the shading  begins and stopped.

This step shows were I chose to position the figure.  next I traced the contour to the painting

Once the shape was penciled in, I removed the drawing and painted the shape white with oil paint, and let it dry.

I  covered the back of my drawing with charcoal, to serve as a tracing paper, and re-positioned the drawing over the white shape, and began tracing the features, the hands and clothing of my subject.

Now begins the many layers of oil paint.  The first one(seen here)  is considered the dead layer.  This is designed to establish  the  shading. 
I  kept the two references on the canvas throughout the many of layers of colors that were added after each drying.

Now began the rough stage.
This is what I call the "ugly duckling stage"  Each of my paintings has to go through it, and not all end up intact.  Fortunately, through perseverance, and help from above, I managed to move on to the next layer.

By this stage of the painting, I thought that I was finished, and lived with it for several months.  It was even hanging in an art show last February.  
But in all honesty, I was not completely satisfied with her likeness.  More and more, I was face with the fact that sooner or later, I would have to address the issue of her likeness.

It wasn't until last week that I took it back to the studio, and with a fresh eye, manage to bring out what I  intended  to accomplish from the beginning: a portrait of Hailey that captured her likeness and her personality.

I hope that, in some ways, you've found some these steps or experience ( including the frustrations), helpful with your project with cold wax.  If you have any questions or comment, or suggestions regarding this topic, don't hesitate to send it to me, I'd love to here from you


Friday, February 24, 2012


In my last post I mentioned that I had showed a portrait done in cold wax medium and oils.

A little over a two years ago, I read about cold wax, and was eager to try it.  I've had experience with batiking, and lately I've been working with encaustic, so it was only natural that I would be I intrigued with the cold wax medium.  As I began calling supplies stores in my area, I soon realized that this product was beyond my budget, especially if I were to experiment with it.  Luckily I found a recipe for cold wax medium on line that just calls for beeswax and turpentine, I  realized that I already had both on hand.  I followed the recipe as best as I understood it, there were no pictures with the article.  After combining my mixtures, nothing happened, and I thought that I had wasted my products.  I left the room, disappointed, and returned an hour later to confront my failure.  Surprise, the liquid had turned into cold wax!

I'd like to share my process with you.

When you're about to mix any chemical, make sure  your room is well ventilated.
I always leave both doors of my studio opened for cross ventilation

I melt broken pieces of beeswax in an old frying pan, that is reserved for cold wax and encaustic purposes only.
This picture of broken beeswax will make about 2 1/2 cup of melted wax.

After the beeswax is melted, I unplug the element from the wall and the pan.

Now, I ladle the hot wax in a little inexpensive aluminum pan,  which is also part of my encaustic/ cold wax equipment

and make sure that I measure the level of the hot wax in the pan.

Next, I return the melted wax back into the unplugged frying pan.

Now , I pour turpentine to the same level as the wax was, into the little pan.

Finally, I pour the turpentine into the melted wax.
Keep the pan unplugged. Do not reheat the mixture

It looks like I just wasted turpentine and beeswax because nothing seem to happen.

I Just leave the room with both doors still opened

15 minutes later, the wax and turpentine is solidifying.
If I had doubled the recipe, it would have overflowed from the pan. 

After 45 minutes of cooling, it's ready to be placed in a container with a tight lid.

Here's an old 37 1/2 oz plastic container refilled with new cold max medium.
I've kept the old medium for months.

Word of caution
Don't be tempted fusing cold wax with encaustic medium. When fusing both mediums with high heat, the turpentine gives off toxic gasses. 

If you found this post useful, or want to share your favorite recipe for cold wax medium, I'd love to hear from you.  I'm open to any suggestions.  

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


It felt great being back at the Quady Winery  for their Eleventh Annual Reveiller Art Show, and being one of the 30 regional artists whose work was exhibited this last weekend.  This was my first show of the year.
I have participated at the Quady art show three previous years, and  received the people's choice award in 2007. The prize was a case of their excellent Electra Red, which we  were happy to share with friends on many occasions.

My husband and I brought two sets of friends, and one of them brought their two children to accompany my granddaughter. The grownups were happy to sample the dessert wine that Quady Winery is so famous for, along with Chocolate truffles and delicious appetizers.  It didn't take long for the kids to zero in on the chocolate truffles.

It was great watching the kids appreciate the art work hung on the walls,  easels, and any available space  including the barrel room.

All disciplines of art were featured:  clay, glass relief, sculptures, photography, paintings, fiber art, just to name a few.


It was also a time to meet other artists, renew old connections, and introduce my friends to some of them.

This year I chose to exhibit Girl with Crayons.  It's a portrait of my 7 year old granddaughter.  She and I are very close and create art together.  This is the reason why I chose to do a portrait of her with an example of her own artwork
The painting is a mixed media of cold wax and oils.  The picture behind the figure is not original, but a carbon-copy of one of Hailey's work.

A little about Quady Winery and the Reveiller  Art Show.

Adam Longatty , a skilled plain-air painter and art instructor at the California State University of Fresno, has been the coordinator of the Reveiller annual juried art show since 2001 at Quady Winery.  The show event is accompanied with wine tasting, and tidbits such as truffles, chocolate sauce, and scrumptious pizzas from Mattie's mobile wood-fired oven.  This show in  in conjunction with the Madera Wine trail 

 My favorite wine from Quady has been and still is Deviation.   It's a sweet dessert wine that has an unusual flavor of geranium, and is supper yummy! Follow this link if you wish to have a virtual taste of Deviation

Friday, February 10, 2012


 After organizing my studio, (and yes I'm  happy to report that so far I've kept it up, but had to banished Brutus until he's house broken), I was ready to face my next goal: re-building my new website, and put it up as soon as possible.  I was bracing myself for what I thought would be a real challenge.

What I wanted was a simple, easy, to use website to feature my art work.

I found that using B Blogger made it extremely easy to edit, add, or delete things. However, I want to thank  Katrina from PuglypiXel  for her tutorial  on how to create a bare bone website through BBlogger.  Go to her site and type in   Create a Static Website with Blogger 
Her tutorial is very clear, and informative, and thanks to her, I can personally build my own website for just the cost of my domain name.  

"So what happened to the last one?" you may ask.

 I had a website/blog through, shortly before I took a sabbatical from the art community. When it was time to renew my account, because if my complacency, my contract had expired.  I wish that I had started this blog earlier, to allow transferring my old one to this one, before abandoning it. By the time the holidays arrived, I began thinking of re-building my art website, and renewing my contact with the art community.  Unfortunately, it wasn't the right timing. Though we are empty nesters we had a constant flow of people until the first week in January. It wasn't until Mid January that I decided to get serious, build the website, linking this blog to it, and get it up and running.

If you're thinking of building your own website

If you have the time, I would  highly encourage it. I will continue to modify mine, as it reflects the changes in my art work. But that's the beauty of it, you are not dependent on anyone, and can change it at any given time.

Now, I would like to invite you to browse through my website;


click the WEBSITE box on top of the page, or go to .  
Feel free to share your opinions.  

Friday, January 13, 2012

Art Studio Spring-cleaning

During the first weekend of January, I began thinking of my artist goals for this year.  I quickly realized that cleaning my studio was my first priority if I wanted a space conducive to creativity.

The following  Monday was D. Day.  "Take no prisoners" was my motto. It took a good part of the day to de-cluttered the space, clear all flat surfaces, clean, and organize my tools; I'm terrible with my oil tubes!
 I re-assign my work stations: oil painting table,  sketching /water media table,  mix media counter, and computer / file counters.  I decided that even though some areas would serve double duty, the intend was to be better organized by each things in its place.

That was 24 days ago.  Since then, we've acquired a new 10 weeks old untrained puppy, to replace our old German shepherd guard dog, Heidi. He's name is Brutus.. So now, if want the studio to stay spotless, not only do I need to break my untidy habits, I must also be extremely diligent, in watching Brutus' every move.

You may think " A clean studio with a new puppy? Now there is a paradox!" I'm afraid I'll have to agree with you.

View of the studio upon entering.

Sketching table, and mix media counter, serving as double duty 

Oil painting area

Mixing paint on glass, easier to clean

Storage area


This mural was painted by my granddaughter at age 5.
It's a reminder for me to have fun while creating.
Hailey and Brutus