Sunday, June 30, 2019

The Impact of Ireland Part 2 - The Rocks Are Steadfast

I was in the hospital many moons ago, having one of my umpteenth surgeries, and a nurse shared with me of her belief that God was in a rock. At the time I was completely puzzled but she was attempting to explain to me that she believed he was in everything, even that moment to help alleviate my anxious heart. All I could do though was lock on to her words: God was in a rock. When I stepped on the shores of Ireland, and got past my jet lag, two things became crystal clear to me:

1. Rocks would be part of this journey for me as much as green.
2. And a tiny voice spoke from a deep place that said I would understand what she meant by that.

Now, I know some of my genealogy but not a lot. I know that I have ancestors which originated from this part of the world and I chose to embrace the idea that if they had, they could have walked these rocks before. It was an interesting concept to carry with me during my week here. From the train ride from Dublin, green was undeniable but it was the rocks of slate and quartz lining the walkways and those fence lines, the cobblestones my feet touched, and the glorious Payne's grey blue of the rocks touching the skyline that kept my eye.

EOM Studios is in a small town called Mulranny in Mayo County. It overlooks the shores of Clew Bay which are lined with rocks, amazingly colorful, varied rocks. I woke the first morning early and walked down to the shores in the wet of the morning in solitude. As I walked out on to the beach I was enveloped with the beauty of rocks that looked a bit like candy. Red ones, blue ones, speckled ones, striped ones. Rocks glistening with metallic luster and black rocks as dense as night. If I could have asked to be in rock heaven I was, and I knew immediately my husband would have been out of his mind in love with them.

This was when they were wet.

My sweet William loves rocks more than I do, he builds with them, honors them, gathers and collects them. When we travel we gather rocks and when home, label them and use them to build the walls of our home with the written record of where they came from. It is one of the things I love the most about him and our life together, the fact that we share story and a love of rocks. Ireland did not disappoint in how it offered the connection of rocks and story to us both.

As the week with my group of artists evolved, we encountered different places and experiences with rocks that struck deep chords for me. The stone of ancient castles still stood, echoing a past I had little understanding of. The remnants of abbeys and graveyards were quiet and haunting, yet had a beauty to them I could not put in to words. It was the solitary stones though that caught me off guard.

Our guide Lora, an amazing encaustic painter, shared with us the significance of those solitary stones in that they marked the graves of those who were not fortunate enough for a marker. There were so many and I realized that those stones dotted a landscape different than any I had experienced.

The solitary stones here are markers for many.

A labryinth next to the shore near Achill Island was encased in walls of giant stone which buffeted the sound in an eerie lyrical wind. It was also a powerfully moving experience for those who walked it. The rocks along that shore vibrated with a different energy and made home to bones from animal and history.There were man made monuments and markers, and giant boulders larger than life. When you consider how rocks are steadfast, even in light of the shoreline, it is humbling in regard to the short time we share on this spinning rock. 

Back in the studio we had much discussion about the power of rocks, their colors and different varieties, and shared a little about what they meant to us. There was great humor in the conversation of how I would get my heavy pirate treasure back to the states, but the last thing I did in Dublin was secure travel for my bounty. Yesterday, I arrived home and there sat my box on our own stone stoop. It was beat to death as boxes who cross the pond would be, but it was intact and held my most precious connections to Ireland besides my memories. 

As a painter I gather visual information from my life experiences to help me paint relevant messages without words. As a human, who has a vivid curiosity about the energy in all things, I collect markers of time through my rocks and stones. They will last long past any painting on canvas and give me great solace in knowing that these particular ones were part of my own journey to the Emerald Isle. 

Rocks are steadfast, they stand witness, especially to the stories of peoples that shaped Ireland and to
my own country and life. I look forward to connecting the impact of the history from my visit, added to my love of the rocks and green, but for now am so content to hold a bit of Ireland in my hand a while and forever in my heart. I can say with deep conviction that for me, God is in the rocks. 

To read the first part of this blog series and my fascination with the color green go here! 

Sunday, June 23, 2019

The Impact of Ireland Part 1

Ireland changed me. I suppose that is the truth for every experience but I have come to understand that some moments create much deeper shifts in one's heart than others, and Ireland was one for me. There is a wild stillness there, in the people, on the land, in the sky and bits and pieces of it left a lasting impression in me. It was echoed in the moist breezes, on the shores laced with rocks and wood, and across the pastures where sheep grazed and goats roamed. What I expected Ireland to be turned out to be so much more and yet, there was a small part of me that felt a bit of home there. I believe it was the green. 

What brought me to Ireland was the opportunity to guide a group of artists at EOM Studios in Mulranny, Mayo Co. for a week of fusing the experiences in this beautiful country with the practice of painting in a way that was unique to them. Over the course of those 7 days we explored the west coast between Westport and Achill Island, and the nooks and crannies in between. As we did I shared my love with them of how to experience a place through the lenses of creative wonder. How to seek out specific colors, patterns, textures, and stories and use them to infuse their own work as they painted. From the studio we shared our insight and connection in personal ways, and began to build paintings from a much deeper well. Three things stood out for me, as more significant than others based on my time there: the colors, the rocks, and the wildness of the country which stood witness to the history of a great people. 

The View from EOM Studios in Mulranny

The View From Upstairs at EOM Studios overlooking Clew Bay

I was snagging a pic of some sheep.

I knew green would be undeniable and as soon as my feet landed in the country it began to blanket me whether I wanted it to or not. It reminded me so much of the green from my own home, except in Mobile the green moves upward through the oaks and pines and in Ireland it moved outward with vastness. From the train between Dublin and Westport we had beautiful views through the windows of pastures and livestock, simple homes and farms, and the shifts between the cool greens and greys became vivid when the sun broke through shifting them to green gold. 

Learning to gather visual information seems simple, look for green, choose 5 patterns that interest you. But, it is much deeper than that. As creative humans, we are equipped to move through the world with lenses that help us filter what's in front of us and keep what impresses. For me, I found the hectic schedule and life of daily living made that task a challenge so over the years I have taught myself to slow down, to listen, to see the world through tints, tones, and shades. I have also learned the value of connection and story from people and places, and in this practice my teaching is based. 

EOM Studios in Mulranny was the perfect home to help us cultivate the slower pace of our senses and our guide, Lora Murphy, who lives in Mulranny made the experience rich with history and connection between story and place. I don't think our visit would have been nearly as deep without her insight and wild heart. The flora and fauna were lush, and she was able to share with us the similarities and differences between what we touched in Ireland compared to what we have at home. Although the green was vast here and ever present, it shifted for us based on where we traveled between shore and countryside. The light was amazing, staying lit until well past 11 pm in the evening and never quite getting dark as night. It helped illuminate so much for us during the day and late into the evening. 

Tide coming in from Clew Bay

On the road to Achill Island

Greens were palpable here, but they were sided with the blue greys of a far away range, through the mist after a rain, and in the slate blues of so many rocks and ledges. We noticed these things, and took a wee bit of this pigment to heart when we painted. The narrow roads undulated and curved in ways that were a bit difficult for the stomach at times, but as we passed the resting sheep sitting just next to the road, or caught a glimpse of the turquoise water below the cliffs, we realized the unsettling nature of the ride was worth it. 

In the studio we shared our insight coupled with our own personal exploits brought to this time. We used our own photographs paired with what we remembered and added a side of vivid imagination. EOM gave us unlimited access to the studio so we had plenty of time between trips to move the line and our practice. It is one of the things I loved about this workshop because it gave the painters a true experience of travel and studio time. Each painter approached their subject matter differently, between figurative and landscape, but we all shared a bit of our inspiration with one another and worked as a team to guide and move our paintings forward. 

Everyone travels and takes a workshops for different reasons and it was a joy to witness painters tapping in to their own wellsprings based on our shared time there. Green represents so much to each of us, the color of life, of envy, of money, and for me time. Over time I hope these painters remember the lessons and moments we shared here in Ireland and I hope their painting practices are richer for it. Green and blue are constants in this world, like time, but it is green that remains. It works through the blues and greys of stone and continues to claim the wisdom of belief that the living matter. This week resonated that for me. As painters, we create moments and images of beauty and emotions. The green of this week seeped through our brushes with a deep testament that the voices of Ireland mattered, and ours does as well. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

The Art of Textural Lines Online Workshop

 Lines fascinate me. Organic lines, geometric lines, que lines they all kind of rock my artistic and human world. A few months ago I taught The Outrageous Line as an online course and it was one of the most influential classes in regard to shifting expression and impact for painters. As an extension of that experience, The Textural Line seemed a natural next fit. 

As a painter, I work with acrylic pigments and occasionally paper along with umpteen marking tools. It gives me the ability to use mark making as an integral element. What I love even more is the layering process and using paper, thread, mediums, and objects to create dynamic, unique details. This workshop is all about that love process! 

Over four weeks we will dive in to the use of mediums to create texture, dimensional line work, adding textiles and using stitching, along with skins and planes of geometry. I teach live through a FB secret group and you can view the live sessions anytime. You also get technical, step by step videos and pdfs to follow along with. 

Taking paint to the next level is our goal this month through the use of texture and dimension and we kick of the learning on Monday! To register go HERE

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Move the Line....Further New Workshop at OKCMOA

Super excited to have the opportunity to offer a new workshop at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art in September! 

Move the Line....Further is a four day intensive workshop for established acrylic painters who have a desire to take their current work further. Often times, painters get a bit stuck in finding their way to move past predictable so this workshop will teach you thinking skills and action steps to help you break past that. 

 We will explore composition, contrast, distinct voice, complexity, and offer collaborative critique sessions so that the discussion of what makes work strong and impactful can be expanded. Artists can work in acrylic or mixed media, abstract or figurative, but must already have an established paint practice in place. 

Because I feel so passionately about distinct voice, I will be offering demos and instruction based around using tools differently, combined with unique ideas around subject matter, and how to execute those together on canvas or paper.

MTL...Further will also offer painters a time to discuss the business side of the industry with a look at marketing, goal setting, and professional reach. 

Come paint with me in Oklahoma City and move your work from a place of now to wow! 

Workshop Dates - September 25-28th, 2019
Where - Oklahoma City Museum of Art
Time - 9-4 pm each day
Supplies - Some supplies will be provided. A complete list is sent with registration. 

Space is Limited! Register Below or message me if you have questions. 

This course is full. To get on the waitlist, message me at 
To view my other workshops head to

Friday, January 18, 2019

Using an Overlay to Check for Accuracy In A Painting

I ADORE painting faces but many times, especially when I get in a hurry, my sketches seem off. There are several ways I can go about changing them: 





Every one of these strategies work, but I am going to show you how I use Picmonkey to create a quick overlay. 

First, head to which you can use for free or you can subscribe. I subscribe and use it daily so the 5-9 buck cost per month is so worth every penny. The overlay option is offered in the subscription plan.  (I am not an affiliate of Picmonkey I just love the ease of the program.)

Click on Edit, then Computer

Over to the left click on the butterfly and then the tab, "Add Your Own" and upload the image you wish to overlay.

Once your overlay is there, you can shrink or enlarge it over the photo. Then you will want to fade it. Over to the right click FADE

Move the FADE button left or right until you are able to see the underlying image. It takes a hint of practice but can totally help you see where you might be off.

Once you get the overlay set, crop your image and save it. Use it as a guide. 

As you can see, I paint expressively. My goal is NEVER hyper realism or realism, it is simply to capture a likeness. I really like the painting I have here, but IF I had wanted to alter it and wasn't sure how, I could use the overlay strategy to show me what part of the face I needed to shift. 

This is a quick tip strategy I teach in my online workshops. If you are interested in learning more about those, head over to and give me a shout out!