Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Yosemite water

Falls, 20 x 16, acrylic and pastel on paper
Whenever I am in our of our National Parks, I feel grateful for the people who had vision and wisdom to preserve these places of natural beauty.

December is maybe not the best time to see all of Yosemite National Park, but no matter the time of year it is soul-filling. Even with snow on the valley floor and temperatures in the 20s.

"Everyone needs beauty as well as bread,
places to play in and pray in,
where nature may heal and cheer and give strength
to the body and soul alike."  John Muir

Half Dome, photo by Katherine van Schoonhoven, 2013

More about Yosemite National Park here.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

from Notan to painting: acrylic

Here is an acrylic painting inspired by a Notan sketch, this time from my summer trip to the Columbia River Gorge.  Waterfalls are beautiful and powerful and are hard to resist as painting subjects.

20 x 16. Acrylic on paper.

Friday, December 13, 2013


From the same Notan sketch, I painted these two paintings. Notan gives me a mental boost to figure out an interesting value pattern in black and white. Once I have a design I like, I interpret it with color.

The original sketch came from a visit I made to the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge near Olympia, Washington.

After sorting out a sketch I liked, I laid in watercolor underpaintings on Wallis sanded paper, both 12 x 12. Then I forgot about them.Now, about a year later, I finished painting them with pastels. Two interpretations of the same design.

Straight No Chaser "12 Days" is a fun interpretation of familiar Christmas songs!

Monday, December 9, 2013

O Christmas tree

11.5 x 7, watercolor, pastel
Christmas time is here. Tune in and you will hear that some radio stations play nothing but Christmas music. Cars on the roads have trees strapped to their tops. The Salvation Army Santas ring their bells at every store, hoping to fill the kettles with donations.

Our  three acres in Southwest Washington used to be a Christmas tree farm. More than 30 years ago, people could cut their own tree here, after a sleigh ride back into the woods.

We've cut down many of the trees over the years we have lived here, but the feeling remains of an evergreen wonderland. I could sing "O Christmas Tree" all year round.

Crooner Tony Bennett sings "O Christmas Tree." I love the piano accompaniment in this version and I hope you will enjoy it as well.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

cold art

With Arctic temperatures pushing the red needle of our thermometer down to the teens and twenties, it's little wonder that my thoughts turn to snowmen. Here are a few designs from my sketchbook. 

I think of my sketchbook as a container for ideas. Some of my ideas have a future outside the sketchbook.

This woodcut design image will be 4" x 4" and will easily fit into a ready made square frame.

I am using a new set of carving knives and having trouble getting them sharp enough to not tear through the fine plywood layers of this Shina block.

Progress is slow, but the heater is on in the studio and I am comfortable.

More snow in the forecast. But, in the meantime, it's blue sky and very cold.

I enjoy The Piano Guys very much, but I don't think I will let them come over and do this to MY piano. "Angels We Have Heard on High."