The Latest

New Site Coming Soon

Please visit my portfolio website and be sure to bookmark it, because I will soon archive this site. I will take some of the content to my portfolio site where there will be a Classes portal. Anything related to a class will be password-protected But you will still enjoy informative posts, teaching resources and great images of my art teaching activities. WordPress is a wonderful platform for those who can code efficiently. For the rest of us, it’s become an unwieldy, bloated and hard-to-manage tool. I look forward to not spending hours each week trying to update my site.

I Just Want to Paint

Most of us have been influenced by movies that portray the act of painting as a fluid, effortless, energetic and spontaneous action while nothing could be farther from the truth for the painting beginner...

Fundamental Drawing

Fundamental Drawing is a class that starts Jan 24. Eight weeks on Thursday evenings, 6:30 to 9:30 pm at the Richmond Art Center. 10% discount for Richmond residents. Register at

Discover Acrylics

For students new to the medium or for those who want to expand their expressive repertoire. No previous painting experience required! Try a new technique every week and use it in class while you paint from photos or ideas. We'll cover the use of texture-making additives, direct and indirect transfers, masks, gel printing with acrylics, and acrylic washes and pours. There will be 1.5 hrs of painting time in every class. A $10 materials fee payable to the instructor ensures you can experience new media without having to spend money to buy large amounts. Starts Wednesday, Jan 16, from 1-4 pm at the Richmond Art Center.

Using Color

For years I have been trying to figure out how to teach a good class on the use of color. Not about color theory (which is useless without being able to apply the concepts) but about the use of color. You see, I think most of us use color rather mindlessly. I mean that we give little thought to how might we deploy this element to service our artistic goals. And, to be fair, I can’t blame people for focusing on the technical aspect of this huge topic. It is extremely easy to become overwhelmed with all the technical information out there. Some friends of mine have used the verb “drown” when they talk about navigating the ocean of color supplies, advice, paraphernalia, terms, theory, research, and safety warnings about its use. But it should all boil down to this simple, es...[Read More]

The Teaching of Drawing

I didn’t really start to draw until I was in middle school. I wasn’t interested in making my drawings look realistic and no one in my family believed I had drawing talent until later on. What’s more important, if anyone had asked me to take a drawing class I would have said no. My handsome and very popular seventh grade art teacher was more interested in motorcycles. But then something happened that would change my life. I took an elective with another art teacher, someone who wasn’t as popular but who taught drawing strategies systematically, gave exercises and assignments, and most important, feedback. I still remember the day I discovered basic shapes, it was very much a “Hellen Keller” moment for me. After I discovered there was a visual language of ...[Read More]

A Setup For Every Need

There are as many setups as there are plein air painters. The plein air gear market has thrived in part because there is no “one size fits all” solution. The outdoor artist must research what’s out there and if nothing solves the problem, invent a solution. And what are the problems to be solved, you might ask? Ergonomics. Young and old painters alike have experienced the discomfort that comes with trying to adjust to equipment made for other people, not to speak of the repetitive motions performed while standing or sitting. Loosening or tightening wing nuts, opening and closing cam locks, pulling heavy carts along uneven terrain, and sitting on low camping chairs made for people under forty comes to mind. The weather. Here in the Bay Area, springtime brings strong, dry w...[Read More]

Starting The Year With Acrylics

In acrylic, happiness comes a bit faster. Robert Genn I will be teaching a class at the Richmond Art Center on Jan 11, “Acrylic Bag of Tricks.” In February, I will begin teaching a series of two workshops about painting acrylic still lives at the Frank Bette Center (Feb 24 and Mar 23). So I can rightfully say I will start the year with acrylics. But did you know that I did not start using acrylics until 2005? I did not receive instruction in it when I was in art school in the 1980s. Some instructors used acrylics back then, but they treated it like a lesser medium. If, as painter Andrew Hamilton says, “acrylic is the only painting medium that can be all mediums – it can act like watercolor, it can act like oils, and it has its own innate properties,” none of t...[Read More]

Thinking About Color

“I just start painting very excitedly and the last thing I think about is my palette. Most of the time, composition keep me so busy I completely forget about color.” “I feel like an outsider during visits to the art store. I must be the only person in the universe that does not know what colors to buy!” “My palette is so garish. Everything looks fine in the beginning but when I finish I see my colors are too bright for my taste.” Color is one of the dimensions of design that seems the most inscrutable. While almost everyone can appreciate size, texture and contrast, color perception is highly individual. To complicate matters, as humans we have developed a series of terms to discuss color that vary enormously from person to person. Then there’s col...[Read More]

Learning To Paint – On A Budget

Are you a painting student on a budget? Like most artists (except perhaps for Jim Carrey and George Bush) I am frugal with art supplies. Not only do their prices climb up every year, there’s no need to waste what I already have. Some students have asked me to describe my favorite tricks for saving money on supplies, and so I have decided to write about it in a tongue-in-cheek way. Where should we aim to cut costs? Ok. Let’s think of two kinds of learners. There is the student who is deciding whether painting is something they will like, and there is the student who already does a fair amount of painting during vacations, classes and workshops. If you are figuring out if painting is for you, keep it a secret. Don’t let your relatives or close friends pick out your gear or ...[Read More]

A Different Place Entirely

“A different place entirely” is how a painter friend described Meeker Slough in a blog entry. One of the locations I chose for our Plein Air Fridays class, the slough in my opinion deserves five stars as an East Bay painting spot. It is mostly accessible through the part of Richmond’s Bay Trail that borders the Marina Way development and perhaps because of that it feels far, far away. “An old mudflat channel along the Richmond Southeast Shoreline that became constrained from over 100 years of urban development starting in the late 1800s,” the slough used to be considered one of one of the ten most toxic spots in the Bay Area. Thanks to the cleaning efforts of UC Berkeley, it is possible to pass through without being significantly exposed to PCBs, arsenic, lead...[Read More]

Blake Garden Did Not Disappoint

Yesterday was our first Plein Air Fridays session at the Blake Garden. The day was beautiful and the temperature, perfect. This Berkeley garden did not disappoint those of us who were hoping for an afternoon free of cold wind and overcast skies. Everybody was on time and we met near the reflecting pool, where dappled light dotted the grassy area around it. After a demo on how to use a viewfinder and how start an acrylic painting, the students dispersed and I began making rounds. I forgot how much walking is involved when students are spread out. The Blake Garden spans ten acres! There are two spaces left in this class. Registration ends June 30.

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