Purple Sky

When I was in college I was in love with charcoal. I would go to life drawing class clean as  whistle and emerge at the end of class looking like I was the coal miner’s daughter! For years I could not get my hands completely clean because not only was I grinding charcoal dust into my hands by smearing and scratching it in to the paper to create my giant life drawings but I was also in the printmaking studio putting  ink on the copper plates to make intaglio prints. You couldn’t do it with gloves on. You ruined your hands.

But I looked at my destroyed hands and pronounced it good. After all, what are hands for except to destroy in the process of creation?

So for years I was in love with black. Back then one of my favorite artist was the German expressionist Max Beckmann. He used black a lot. I aspired to be Max Beckmann.


I also aspired to be Sylvia Schuster. She was a year or two ahead of me. Another gritty, intense coal miner’ daughter covered with charcoal dust head to toe. The TA said “she sees a head. She doesn’t see a face.”  It was pivotal moment for me and I started thinking “volume!”. Get the distinction?


Today I’m not in favor of black. As matter of fact, I say NO black.

Now I want to try something different. If I want to use a dark color I’ll use Payne’s Gray or Burnt Umber.

Here’s the beginning of my new adventure with landscape painting.

What do you think?


“Smoky Sky”

Acrylic 8″x10″

Happy New Year My Friends!

My sister sent this to me today. I thought it was a nice thing to read on the first day of January of the new year 2018. Twenty eighteen! I can’t believe it’s already eighteen years past the millennium!

So here’s this thought for all of you. My wonderful friends near and far. We’ve heard stuff like this before but it never hurts to hear it again.

My sister says she thinks this was said by Steve Jobs. If it wasn’t said by him they are still good words.

“I reached the pinnacle of success in the business world. In others’
eyes, my life is an epitome of success.

However, aside from work, I have little joy. In the end, wealth is
only a fact of life that I am accustomed to.

At this moment, lying on the sick bed and recalling my whole life, I
realize that all the recognition and wealth that I took so much pride
in, have paled and become meaningless in the face of impending death.

You can employ someone to drive the car for you, make money for you
but you cannot have someone to bear the sickness for you. Material
things lost can be found. But there is one thing that can never be
found when it is lost – health and life itself.

When a person goes into the operating room, he will realize that there
is one book that he has yet to finish reading – “Book of Healthy

Whichever stage in life we are at right now, with time, we will face
the day when the curtain comes down.

Treasure love for your family, love for your spouse, love for your friends…

Treat yourself well. Cherish others.

As we grow older, and hence wiser, we slowly realize that wearing a
$300 or $15 watch – they both tell the same time

Whether we carry a $300 or $15 wallet or handbag – the amount of money inside is the same.

Whether we drink a bottle of $300 or $2 wine – the hangover is the same.

Whether the house we live in is 300 or 3000 sq. ft. – loneliness is the same.

You will realize, your true inner happiness does not come from the
material things of this world.

Whether you fly first or economy class, if the plane goes down – you go down with it.

Therefore, I hope you realize, when you have mates, buddies and old
friends, brothers and sisters, who you chat with, laugh with, talk
with, sing songs with, talk about north-south-east-west or heaven
& earth, that is true happiness!!

Here’s what I think now that I’m dying:

1. Don’t educate your children to be rich. Educate them to be HAPPY.

2.  Eat your food as your medicines. Otherwise you have to eat medicine as your food.

3. The one who loves you will never leave you for somebody else because even
if there are 100 reasons to give up he or she will find one reason to hold on.

4. There is a big difference between a human being and being human.

5. You are loved when you are born. You will be loved when you die.
In between, you’re the one who has to manage!

Six Best Doctors in the World

1. Sunlight
2. Rest
3. Exercise
4. Proper diet
5. Self Confidence
6. Friends

The Rest of Your Life

I love the end of the year in a way. I’m sad for the passing of the old year but I can’t do anything about that. I mean, I can’t slow it down. So. Just like the rest of humanity I have to accept it. Or not.

I choose to accept it.

And do what I can with it.

The end of the year gives me time to reflect on where I’ve been and where I want to go. So I did that. And what I’ve decided is this: I want to go in a direction my mama probably would not advise me to go. But my mama is not here and I’m all by my lonesome (funny how adulthood gives us all this freedom and then we decide not to exercise it!) I’m just going to go where I want – damn the torpedoes full speed ahead!

In hind sight I gave a year away doing what I was not really suited for (real estate) but that’s all right. I had to try. Trying is what life is all about. If those people out there who have the opinion that I’m not doing it right, well, they can just shut their pie hole because it’s my life, don’t you forget!

Thank you very much! (Big Smiley Face)

I also say this to the very present voice in my head who does such a very good job of replacing all the outside voices. As a matter of fact, the inner voice is the loudest of all. So to this voice I say “Shut your pie hole! It’s my life. Don’t you forget.”

Here’s the plan: I’m consolidating everything into this Web Log. Artist. Writer. Everything. Here you will read essays on things that interest me. (I hope you enjoy my little stories.) Here you will see my artwork. (I hope you enjoy that, too.)

I have big plans and I can hardly wait to start publishing. Like “they” say: Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Trust the Muse

This project combines two of my very favorite things. Writing and drawing. I think the 3rd grade kids at the parochial school in town did an outstanding job. They remind me of my first success at writing and illustrating in Miss Knoll’s 3rd grade class. She had us take a nom de plume, a pen name, and mine was Miss Ster. She thought I was so clever but I was just flailing around and could not come up with a good name so I just picked something out of the air. Trust the Muse.

Here are a couple examples.

the cookieThe Cookie

cookie2Once upon a time there was a cookie…

cookie3who lived in a little cookie house with three big pearl sprinkles.

bogbeastThe Story of the Bog Beast and Mia and Milo

bogbeast2Once upon a time there was a bog beast who lived near a big swamp. He had three hats on that he stole from a man. Since that he was a monster all people hated him. Well, not everyone. A girl and a boy named Mia and Milo. They both started this story.

bogbeast3One day they went to the big swamp and saw the beast. A bog beast sang. It was a girl. The boy one fell in love. She fell in love, too. Guess what happened next.

Let’s Face It

Kids are the original and preeminent artists. The younger they are the more fearless they are. In this little project I’m working with preschool age children. I thought the colors came out vibrant and unsullied and the drawings energetic and expressive. So often adults create mud. Kids know when to stop.

We started with a drawing in sharpie pen and then we colored it in with brushes using ordinary watercolor paint. I was so impressed. For the record these are works from the talented little kids at St. Joachim School in Madera, CA. I have been teaching art in the Madera Unified School District and for the Golden Valley School District since last Fall and enjoying it very much.

Kitty and a rainbow. Six legs? Why not? Maybe it’s running fast.
A cat of many colors
Another Paul Klee in the making.
I love the expression!
A castle surrounded by a moat. The blue pops off the page.
When they fill the page I am so delighted.
Cat jumping over a rainbow. Extra legs seem important.

Seeking Inspiration

My elementary school kids have been having a lot of fun doing “cave paintings”.



I told them not to use scotch tape on their drawings but some of them didn’t listen. Hey, Picasso didn’t always use archival methods for his masterpieces. So I let it go or peeled it off where I could.

The other day I couldn’t sleep after the election. I laid awake in bed worrying. How would I deal with my Junior High kids? I live in a predominantly Hispanic area. As a matter of fact, I was going to write a blog about how it feels to be a minority. I felt this long ago when I first went to Hawaii from Iowa and in my World History class in a huge auditorium I sat in the back. Before me was a sea of black haired people. In Iowa one would never see this. We had a handful of Jewish, one black family and one Chinese family. In Hawaii that was all upside down with Chinese, Japanese, and Pacific Islanders.

Here in Madera it’s the same. In the classes you have all Hispanic except for maybe one white kid.

So I laid awake. Finally I figured out that it was me who needed help the most. And by helping myself maybe I could deal with the uncertainty. I decided that we would draw heroes. I decided that I needed to remind myself that we’ve been here before. And we’ve had people who stand up in the avalanche in the hopes of slowing it down. All is not lost. And there is work to be done.

I found Muhammad Ali, Malama Yousefzai, Martin Luther King, Dolores Huerta, Mother Teresa, Anne Frank and a host of others.



The kids appreciated it and it sure was good for me, too.

It Works Pretty Well


I’m looking forward to Thanksgiving week. There’s no school and I have a bunch of drawings I would like to work on. I want to have all brand new stuff for the show in March 2017 at the Orland Art Center and I need to get going. In the meantime I have been talking about things like limited palette, washes, tone, value and resist in my after school and day time art classes.

These are 3rd and 4th grade kids so whatever I talk about I have to show as well. Hey, one picture worth a thousand words, right? At this age I feel it is still important to Just Have Fun so in between Fun I sneak in Ideas. I remember a horse trainer, Brian Neubert, giving me advice about how to teach my daughter when she was just starting out with horses. I think this advice applies to many things in life including art. He said get the best baby sitter horse you can find and then let the kids have fun. It worked with his kids. They’re all outstanding horsemen.

So I apply this with grade school kids. Let them have fun. The skills get into their bones just by the doing of it.

The junior high kids are more adept. So I give them projects that make them think and work with more discipline. I gave the kids gray paper the other day and white and black charcoal pencils. I said Draw a Hand. See how you do. Remember the shapes. Translate what you see on to the page (magic). Use the gray paper as the mid-tone. See the highlights and shadow.

A simple sketch. It works pretty well.