Sunday, December 30, 2012

woodblock print

Penn Cove, woodblock print, 6 x 8
While working with printmaster Sharri LaPierre, I have enjoyed learning about a variety of print media processes. Most recently, I tried my hand at woodblock. Above you see the results of my first attempt.

For this print, I carved four blocks: one for the black lines, one for the yellow sections, one for the red sections, and one for the green. Carving was meditative and serene. It wasn't until I ran my first "proof" copy that I realized I needed to remove much more of the waste wood.

carving lines block

After I carved the blocks and proofed them, I printed them first on Speedball printing paper, then on Rives BFK.

The design of this print comes from my sketchbook from this summer. You can see the page below. The bold, bright colors were inspired by Hans Hoffman, whose work I saw at the Crocker Museum and Blanton Museums. I also read a biography of Hoffman by Cynthia Goodman.

sketchbook 2012 Summer Boat Trip, K. van Schoonhoven
As I look through old sketchbooks now, I wonder how the various drawings might look in woodblock! I foresee some more experimenting ahead. I'm ready!

You can watch a video about woodblock printing here.

Friday, December 28, 2012


pastel, 7.5 x 11.5
 As the year rushes to finish itself, I am busy cleaning up from the holidays, getting rid of "things" I no longer need or want, and looking back on 2012. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

More than two months ago, I prepared the painting surface you see in the piece at the top of this post. I used molding paste and acrylic pastel medium on Rives BFK paper. It was not until yesterday that I knew what to paint on it. The texture grabbed the pastel in unexpected ways and I enjoyed skimming the pastels across the ridges with contrasting value marks.

"The true method  of knowledge is experiment." William Blake

Auld Lang Syne by the Leonard Trio.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


Monotype, 30 x 22

I have been experimenting with Akua Kolor and a Pin Press to create some monotypes. There's always a magic, breath-holding moment when I lift the paper to see the results of the printing process.  This one reminds me of Franz Kline.

Franz Kline.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

movement and music

 I have a drawer full of Christmas music. Some is written for piano, two hands or four hands or two pianos. Some is written for piano and clarinet or piano and trumpet or piano and saxophone. Most recently, I have found some music written for piano and viola.

Over the years, I have loved our Christmas tradition that includes me at the piano and others joining in with their instruments. My sons used to play clarinet, saxophone, and trumpet in these impromptu recitals. And now, one of daughters in law plays viola.

I am looking forward to Christmas music (I'll bring my keyboard) with my kids. It will be loud and filled with wrong notes (most of them mine) but we will laugh and have a good time.

Here's a surprising take on the familiar "Carol of the Bells." I hope you enjoy it!

"Carol of the Bells" for 12 cellos.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

drawing with Phil Sylvester

Since September, I have been taking "Introduction to Drawing" with Phil Sylvester. This week will be our last class and I will miss the Saturday morning adventures at The Drawing Studio!

Most classes had us at our easels drawing while Phil talked about mark making, acceptance, music, quotes from various artists, inspiration, seeing more, feeling more, so that our drawings became a beautiful mixture of the artists' view of the subject and the artists' inner self. 

In this drawing, I was very aware of the beautiful age etched on the subject's face. That awareness led me down a long path inside where I considered my own aging and how I feel about it. It doesn't matter if my feelings come across in this drawing, but the process was very rich because of my willingness to follow my own feelings as I drew.

Two ballpoint pens held together to draw this model. The marks wrapped around the model's figure, down the leg and around the bones as if the marks themselves held the skin tight to muscle and sinew.

Every drawing is an exaggeration. Something is wrong with it. It's not meant to be a photocopy or a mechanical reproduction of the subject. It is this artist looking at that subject and responding to it with marks.

Though I feel a little sad that the class is ending, I am encouraged to draw. To enjoy the process of drawing without fretting about the outcome.

Leonardo Da Vinci Drawings.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Joy to the World

10 x 8, pastel on UART
Dave Brubeck, master jazz pianist and composer, died this week. I first heard him play in Florida in 1986 and I will never forget the easy, clear sound of his piano mixed in with his band's groove. Music floated across the water on the warm breeze. It was perfect. Anyone who ever tried to play "Take Five" or "Blue Rondo a la Turk" knows the genius and mastery of Brubeck's sense of time and space (and their own tethers to the more familiar 4/4 and 3/4 rhythms).

Endings are sad. But it's possible to celebrate what remains. With joy. That's what I'm doing. How about you?

Dave Brubeck "Joy to the World."

Friday, November 23, 2012

soul salsa

9 x 12, pigment and pastel on Wallis Board
Rhythm. A complement of musicians. Now flute. Now trumpets. Saxes. More percussion. If it makes you want to move, then it's all good. 

St Germain "Soul Salsa Soul."

Monday, November 19, 2012

she can't sleep now

9 x 13, gouache and pastel on paper

Gouache under painting with pastel on top. I love the under painting part of the painting process. Splash, drip, bloom, blot, spray. The process is actively intuitive (and not always successful) and when it goes well, there is nothing to compare to the joy I feel.

Paul Simon "She Moves On."

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

give and take and the creative act

20 x 20, acrylic on cradled panel

More play with texture, this time with molding paste and Golden's Fiber Paste. I put down a thin layer of the molding and fiber pastes and then manipulated the surface with paper towels and plastic wrap. Once the textured surface was dry, I put down an acrylic underpainting with Quinacridone Crimson, Pyrrole Orange, Hansa Yellow Medium, and Titanium White. 

Each step of this process was an intuitive response to the previous step.

This kind of play reminds me of how I felt at some band rehearsals. With the right combination of musicians, an open and playful attitude, and trust and respect among the players, wonderful things can happen.

You can get a sense of that kind of energy, the give and take, the synergy of  the creative act, with this video. Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, Chris Thile, and Stuart Duncan in NPR Tiny Desk Concert

Monday, November 12, 2012

it's raining all the time

10 x 10, acrylic on paper

Molding paste helps bump up the texture on this piece. Keeping the palette quiet but the energy loud.

Donna Hightower, Stormy Weather. Cool and sweet and just a bit dangerous.

Friday, November 9, 2012


Dad, 24 x 18, charcoal on paper
My father has dementia. Each time I talk to him, it seems he has less and less to contribute to the conversation. I believe he is genuinely happy to get my calls, to hear my voice, to laugh at my stories, to celebrate the precious moments of life.

But my rye observations about growing older no longer bring up his own commiserating stories. His stories are lost in the unnavigable places in his mind.

Some days I feel the loss of my father as unbearable. I want to have him sing "King of the Road" with me, or a few verses of "You Can't Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd." But, he can't. I still sing to him, though. You can be happy if you've a mind to...

And this week, I reminded him of his obsession with the rock opera, "Tommy" back in the 1990s. He must have seen the film 100 times. He bought the record and played it so much at home, I think he wore it out. He knew all of the songs by heart. 

Since Dad can't remember anymore, I'll just remember for him. A daughter can do that.

Here, Dad, this is for you.

"Pinball Wizard" by The Who.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

into the mystic

10 x 10, acrylic on paper

And when that fog horn blows I will be coming home
And when the fog horn blows I want to hear it
I don't have to fear it

And I want to rock your gypsy soul
Just like way back in the days of old
And magnificently we will flow into the mystic
Van Morrison, "Into the Mystic"

Sunday, November 4, 2012


Advance, 9 x 9, pastel
Last summer we heard The Bills at a concert at Butchart Gardens near Victoria, BC. They had a lot of fun on stage, sharing the solos, laughing at the gaffes, celebrating the riffs, and I was captivated (and a little bit envious) by it all.

"Old Blue Bridge" The Bills.

Monday, October 22, 2012


Davenport, 30 x 22, pastel on BFK
It's official. I have now lived in Washington longer than I lived in California. In many ways, I think of myself as a Washingtonian. I follow Washington state politics, watch local and state news, pay state (and federal) taxes. I carry a Washington driver's license. Raised my sons in Washington.

But, there are times when I still feel like a California girl. I hum tunes from the Beach Boys, check the surf reports, and paint California subjects. Like today. 

Just north of Santa Cruz, Davenport sits on beautiful cliffs above the Pacific Ocean. I stood in this spot, several years ago, with a group of friends and watched the waves crash. The wind was so strong that we didn't dare pull out our painting gear, but we saw evidence of painters there before us. One tree stump was covered in daubs of oil paint.

I may be a de facto Washingtonian, but today I feel more like a California girl.

Beach Boys "Good Vibrations." Obviously.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Akua ink monotypes

I am honored to be working with printmaster Sharri LaPierre this fall. She is teaching me many aspects of printmaking and I am an eager learner! We spent a few hours in her studio this week with a focus on monotype, using the water based Akua inks. 

I wanted to create surfaces for future drawings or pastel paintings. These could become underpaintings for figure sketches in ink or charcoal. Or, maybe I will frame them without any modifications.

Check out this video by the creator of Akua inks to see an example of their use!

Sarah Vaughan and Wynton Marsalis do "Autumn Leaves
." Life is good.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

you are invited

"Oasis Palm" 18 x 24, pastel on archival paper

"FORM, COLOR AND LINE: The Language of Abstract Art"

With the dawning of the industrial revolution at the end of the 19th century, artists felt a desire to express some of the massive societal changes in science, philosophy and technology.  Steering away from art that represented  form and figure, artists felt a pull to create new art that  expressed the philosophies of the modern age as well as concepts and emotions.
With our own society’s massive changes due to advances in technology, many of today’s artists are discovering that abstract art  - whether partial or total  - is an expressive frontier.

The show will run for the month of October. Participating artists are Maebel Astarloa-Haley, Melody Cleary, Marcia Petty, and Katherine van Schoonhoven.   

Artists' reception Sunday, October 14th from 12:30-2pm.

The Doll Gardner Gallery
West Hills Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
8470 SW Oleson Road
Portland, OR 97223

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


"Unexpected"     16 x 20, oil on birch panel
I have been thinking a lot about composition lately. A strong composition will draw my attention from across a room. Thinking alone isn't enough. I have also been reading Edgar Payne's book "Composition of Outdoor Painting."  All of Payne's notan illustrations of strong compositional designs leads to more thinking.

Sooner or later, though, thinking and reading lead to action. Cruciform design, colors inspired by fall. 

Click image to enlarge.

Electric Cello. Unexpected.

Monday, October 1, 2012

flower power

22 x 30, acrylic and pastel on BFK
The motto for the counter culture movement in the 1960s and 1970s: Flower Power. With it came images of flowers on clothing, in hair, and handed to rifle toting soldiers and guards.

Flowers continue to connote peace and a resistance to violence. At least, it is my aim to suggest and promote that with this flower.

Peace. How I long for it!

Pete Seeger "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?"'

Saturday, September 29, 2012

floating Sumi on water

Sumi ink, floated on plain cool water, stirred gently with a bamboo stick, blown gently to create ripples, and captured on rice paper. A tranquil meditation and filled with endless possibilities. Click images to enlarge.

Want to know more? Click here.

Thursday, September 27, 2012


Each painting explores a new solution or raises a different question. Overlapping solutions and questions and a steady rhythm of painting.

It's a matter of FLOW. Listen to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi on the topic.

Monday, September 24, 2012


12 x 12, pastel on archival paper
Have you ever seen this "Incredible Water Art" video?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

smoke on the water

12 x 12, pastel on archival paper
My love affair with music started early. I was only four when I became enchanted by my mother and grandmother singing in harmony (which I thought was magical) on our vacation road trips. It continued with babysitters who played Beatles' songs and listened to the pop stations on the radio.

I insisted on piano lessons when I was seven years old. It did not matter that my family did not own a piano. I knew it was for me and I wanted lessons. Lucky for me, my parents gave in and I began what has been a nearly lifelong passion.

But, when I was just nine, I became a genuine groupie of our neighborhood garage band. Garage bands were really popular in our town and every group dreamed of Capitol Records and Hollywood and being discovered. Fame and fortune, fancy cars, and the good life followed those dreams. Or, at least, winning the "Battle of the Bands" at the local high school.

I went to many of the band's rehearsals. Sometimes they let me try to sing along, other times they let me play the tambourine, but mostly I sat on a box or on top of a workbench and listened to the music. And one of the most popular songs in their playlist, was this: "Smoke on the Water."

Listening to it now still makes me think of the shy but cute drummer, Duncan, the smell of lawn clippings and gasoline, and the lyrics to this song.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

feeling good

18 x 24
Back in the studio today with a light raining falling outside and I am feeling good!

Nina Simone is, too.

Friday, September 14, 2012

dahlia bouquet, getting off the boat

ink on paper
My sketchbook is full of drawings as we begin to pack up at the end of our boating season. Here's one I did of a bouquet of dahlias my mother bought when she went ashore to a little farmer's market in Silverdale, Washington.

It's been a beautiful summer on the waters of the Pacific Northwest. In the three months we were aboard, we traveled 1071 miles, had 19 guests, and saw amazing heart-filling sights. Click on images to enlarge.

buttermilk sky in Olympia, WA

pink sunrise at McMicken Island, Washington

gray midday reflections in Hood Canal
Whether sunrise, midday, sunset, or night time under a blue moon, the light and water reflections begged to be noticed and attended.

sunset at Port Townsend, WA

Blue Moon over Admiralty Inlet

summer boating aboard M/V Flying Colors
Norah Jones "Summertime." Before we know it, it will be fall, so enjoy!

Monday, September 3, 2012

influence, inspiration, imitation

Last winter, when I was in Philadelphia, I was thrilled to happen upon the colossal "Van Gogh Up Close"  show at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I love van Gogh, and his strokes of color on the canvas inspire and excite me. While listening to the recorded narration of the exhibit,  I heard this memorable description:

 "Van Gogh paints the landscape with the knowledge that he is 
painting the skin of a living and breathing dragon."

This summer, during my week with Marj Lightle and Dori Dewberry, we looked at the work of Canadian landscape artist Tom Thompson in many books I have in my studio. Tom Thomson: The Silence and the Storm is a beautiful book, filled with photographs of Thomson's paintings, and is still available through Amazon and other booksellers. The Group of Seven and Tom Thomson is another great resource for works done by this pioneering group.

For the last year or so, the dazzling work of these artists has rolled around in my imagination. In the painting above, you see some of my thoughts turned into action. How will I divide the landscape shapes into interlocking and interesting pieces? What will happen if I lay color in with short, directional strokes?

Both Marj and Dori did paintings during their stay with me that showed these same influences. You can click here to see

Trying on ideas, each in our own way. Nodding to the masters of the past. Looking to create something of our own. It is all part of the process of art making.

Sort of like this video. Or, maybe not at all.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Port Ludlow

Washington is known as "The Evergreen State." Walls of evergreens crowd the undeveloped landscapes here in the west, creating dark masses that intrigue and delight.

When we pulled in to Port Ludlow, we were surprised to discover a sailboat race!

Pleasant Harbor early this morning. Dark walls of evergreens seem to guard the narrow harbor entrance. We left at low tide in less than five feet of water. Whew!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Lake Washington II

Same shapes, different colors, different ideas.