Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy Holidays 2009

Celebration by Marge Bennett

Monday, November 16, 2009

Promoting A Show

My Friend Carolyn Ritter and I have been working on a joint show at ArtCenter Manatee. Our paintings are ready (wellll, almost ready) so it is time to think about having somebody actually come to SEE the results of all our work. The art center is doing a fine job of spreading the word but we decided a personal e-mail invitation to special friends and contacts might bring in more viewers or at least more "partiers" to the reception.

Here is my my effort. I intend to send it after December 3.

I am exploring the possibilities of using e-mail and social networks to promote my art. I would like to pique interest, inform and entertain without annoying viewers. Will this work?

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Artist Retreat This Time Around

At times you could hear a pin drop. At other times laughter and hilarity reigned. It was once again a wonderful retreat.

We arrived with an incredible amount of "stuff" and produced an equally incredible amount of art.

I have tried to capture a corner of our work room in the photo above.

Many of us participated in two creativity challenges.

Artist Trading Cards

We used any medium to create 2.5X3.5" cards. Each card is signed and numbered on the back and gives the artist's contact information. The cards are given to or traded with other artists.

Here are some samples of our efforts and a picture of part of the clothes lines of cards produced. We had a fun card exchange at the end of the day.

The Shoe As Art

Our shoes had varied histories. One thing they seemed to have in common was that they were worthless in their present state. Sorry, I did not think to do before and after shots.

Here are some of the final products. They are now Priceless.

We left on Thursday afternoon with these treasures, lots of memories and some fine art started, finished or just in mind. A great time. Thanks to all the 26 great artists friends who made it happen.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Time For Art

Off To My Artists Retreat

Monday will begin a special time with 26 fellow members of Women Contemporary Artists. We will be at Day Spring Center in Palmetto Florida for our annual “retreat”.

Our cars, loaded with art making gear will arrive at our big, windowed, workroom at or around 10 am. Yours truly will be early.


The first order of business is meet and greet: lots of hugs and talk as we stake out a table and set up for some serious work and fun. Fueled by muffins and coffee we cover tables and chairs, don aprons, fill water containers and make the space “ours”. We get keys, find cabins and unpack tooth brushes and paint wear, and some of us will even get to work before lunch.

Ah, lunch. All meals appear without cooking, planning, shopping or cleaning up! Only a woman can fully appreciate it. And we do

This year we have two special workshops for those who wish to participate: “Shoes As Art” and “Artist Trading Cards”. I will arrive with two large brown bags of stuff carefully gathered for said projects. (With luck there will be pictures next week). For those who have other projects and can resist the hilarity and mayhem that usually accompanies these workshops, it is perfectly acceptable to work on ones own

Some things we have done in the past.

Day Spring is a beautiful, wooded property ideal for walks, reflection, or plein air painting. I am sure there are many ways for artists to “retreat”. Ours has been happening for many years, the past 10 or so at Day Spring. It has evolved with us. Try your own. It will be special too.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Vacation Inspiration

Let me begin at the end. We read a travel report that said if this fellow had only one day to stay in Copenhagen he would take a Boat Tour of the city, eat at his favorite restaurant and spend the day at Louisiana. We did two of the three. My inspiration came from the last, a visit to Louisiana Museum of Modern Art.

Located on “The Sound” a strait between Denmark and Sweden that connects the Baltic Sea to the Atlantic Ocean the Museum sits atop a bluff and the Sculpture Gardens reach down to the water.

Inside the sprawling site there are major works by Giacometti Warhol and the like as well as special exhibitions by the contemporary avant garde. Hours of wandering and delight for any contemporary artist.

The architectural firm 3xN's Learning from Nature pavillon in Louisiana's Sculpture Park

We were there for a large-scale exhibition on sustainable architecture, “Green Architecture for the Future” The ingenuity and energy demonstrated gave a sense of optimism for the future. It was creativity in action.

Louisiana was a day in the park with wonderful art and stimulating ideas. I would love to have one of my paintings described that way.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

From Russia

We are in Moscow at the moment. Spent yesterday learning about the Russian avant garde artists. Great time. We will be on the Volga and off the net for the next ten days or so.

The above painting is called Venice and was one of my favorites. (Label later.)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Ready to Go!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Ready to Go!

The luggage is packed and ready to go. Now, if we can also get ready to accompany the bags, all will be OK. That is still in some doubt.

I hope to be able to post to Art Alive while traveling. To follow the trip go to Round The World

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Phone Painting

Robert Genn of The Painter's Keys had what I considered an intriguing letter about painting on an iPhone. Now I have had an iPod since my last birthday and it does most things the iPhone does except phone and take pictures. I was hot to trot.
The iPod store said yes the new Brushes App. would work and I could have it as a download for $4.99. SOLD.
The Brushes program is listed under "entertainment" and it is clearly not intended as a Professional Tool (Whatever that is.) I have a Wacom Pad and Corel's Painter Program. At this point Brushes is, for me, more like finger painting. It is indeed glorious fun.
If you want to hear more about this tool and see iphone art by David Hockney and others, check it out on Painter's Keys. You might also enjoy the comments and discussion of digital art. Sorry, Robert Genn is generous about sharing but I was unable to make a link here.

Google Search gave me lots of amazing examples of phone art and a You Tube video of a portrait being created on iPhone.

We leave tomorrow for a short vacation with family. Those air miles will slip away as I practice painting on my iPod. May even share some of the results next week.

Sorry about the links. I will try again, but just now I must go pack. We leave at 6:30 AM.

Friday, July 31, 2009

My Studio

Where it all happens.

My Place to Paint.

This is the corner of my studio where most of the painting happens. Note that the easel is empty because I am working flat on a series of 12x12" canvases at the moment.

My Place to Plan.
My corner for thinking, planning, reading, watching a video, or napping.

My Place to Compute and Print.

Sometimes I think my computer and printers do as much work as my brushes. I could not function without them.

A View to Feed My Spirit.

The view from that window behind my work table.

Thanks for taking my virtual tour. You are most welcome to come for a real tour. Just be prepared for a little clutter and watch where you step. That might be art underfoot.

Monday, July 20, 2009

WOW! Somebody Likes My Blog

I was given this blog award by Krista Meister, the "fearless leader" of Real Life Artists, a blog that is home to a band of artists determined to be the very best we can be. She provides a forum for our ideas and helps us keep focused on our goals. I am honored to receive the award and to be a part of the group. Thanks Krista.

The award comes with two duties: share seven things my fellow bloggers don't know about me; pass the award to seven worthy artists. So here goes.

Seven things you didn’t know about me.

As a child I was good at math and science. That was before I discovered that maybe I could do art and became this happy person with a paint brush in hand.

I am proud to be rather a good cook. Whether this is due to heredity or hours spent with gramma in her kitchen is debatable but one way or another it came from gramma.

There are currently 55 people who by accident of birth or marriage call me “Aunt Marge”. I have lost track of the “great aunt” count.

My heritage is an even mix of Irish and German. The two influences, like their source, are in constant conflict and probably keep me balanced. (sort of.).

For more than 20 years I was a teacher and I cherish the memory of every student who passed through my classroom. I love them all.

I cannot paint a cool painting. I try, but the oranges and yellows creep in every time. If you have been following my blog, you probably know this one.

Two years ago I got to fulfill one of my childhood dreams, a boat trip on the Yangtse River. I can still remember the spot in the children’s room of the local library that housed a series of books about people who lived along that river.

I grew up in the woods and love nature but I am into down town living.

And my Brush Award is given to these artist bloggers.

Kimber Scott Thoughtful posts.

Beth Rommel Art as nifty as the girl..

Connie Chadwell Dance, art in motion.

Marilyn Fenn A lady always on the move.

Gabrielle “nature nerd”

Carol McIntyre A treasure in lavender

Caroline Roberts Lots of great content.

Leslie Rinchen-Wongo Fascinating art and artist

If you haven't already done so, try them. You'll like them.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

"Three for Tea"

To paint or do the “other stuff”, that is the Question

This week I made the decision to paint, but not without a little guilt. After all I promised to post every week on this blog, attend a meeting, keep up with… etc.

After some refection it just seemed right to paint.

Summer in Sarasota, FL is “off season” and hot. That means it’s the time to travel to some cool place or shut yourself in with the AC and paint. I chose the latter and have finished two, revised one and completed (I think.) one new painting.

My newest entry in the “Room” series is pictured above. The sub-title is, Van Gogh, Matisse and Me. It was fun to paint and it makes me smile. How much can you ask of one canvas?

I will love any reaction you may wish to share. Thanks.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Simple Pleasures
Acrylic on Canvas 12 X 12” Each

Inspired by:
Appalachian Spring by Aaron Copland
Final melody based on a Shaker Hymn
Simple Gifts by Joseph Brackett

‘Tis the gift to be simple
‘tis the gift to be free...

What a gift: to create music that can inspire tears of joy. I love Appalachian Spring and each time I hear it I wait for this melody. It is simple and pure and universal pleasure.

These squares are my attempt to paint a response.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Rooms To Go

The Fun Rooms are… well, Fun

Some time ago I posted, A Room With City View, my entry into the American Juried Art Spring and Summer Show. At the time I was doing my “Happy Dance” because the piece was accepted. More happy dancing, because that painting won the award for Watermedia.

In the post I suggested that perhaps this summer I would spend time painting more “outrageous rooms.” The feedback was positive and the mood was right. My studio is full of the quiet chuckling of a happy painter creating fun rooms.

Pictured below is number 5 in the series.

Currently “under construction” is an acrylic on canvas, Tea For Three: Van Gogh, Matisse, and Me. Just hope I can bring my idea alive in the next weeks. If I do, you will see it here.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

How and Why

How Did I Do That?

For years I did watercolors that started with a pattern of overlapping washes that acted as a launching pad for more representational images. I have tried to show a few of them here. These paintings usually led to many “How did you do” queries and not a few “Why did you dos” as well. This was especially true at Outdoor Art Fairs where I was available for asking.

The HOW TO for straight lines…

The quick answer, I used paper tape. Specifically, I used low tack drafting or masking tape, but only after sticking and pulling it off my apron or blue jeans a few times. The idea is to keep the sticky stuff off the watercolor paper. It also helps to run a fingernail along the tape edge. This prevents seeping under line. I learned this somewhere years ago in a watercolor class. Thanks, whoever you were or are.

Note 1: The paper must be dry. If another layer is to cross the first then the first must dry before the second is applied.

Note 2: To prevent chaos it is best to limit the number of different angles. Make successive layer edges parallel to preceding ones.

Note 3: Once the lines are set, a steady hand is all that it required to run a second wash over all or part of an area.

Yes, the same thing can be accomplished with a pencil line and a steady hand from the start but the pencil line is difficult to remove and could call too much attention to what is a background element in the design.

Curves make interesting backgrounds as well.

These are more easily done with freehand washes. The same notes apply.

As for the other question: Why do I do that? It is a way to ease into a painting and it usually brings some unintended effects that make the process fun. I am a pattern person. I doodle in patterns while on the phone or waiting somewhere.

Pattern Paint. Try it, you might like it.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Go With Our Strengths

The painting above was created in a figure workshop a long time ago. The model had a rather long nose and wore a hat. He did not inspire me enough to work at a likeness.

Go with our Strengths or work like the devil on Weaknesses?

My current feeling is that most of art making requires three skills: design, color, and drawing. Before any of this happens of course, inspiration, insight, creative thought, all play their part. It is the making skills that intrigue today. My proposal is that for most of us one or two of these skills are effortless, almost innate. The others require study and much practice.

For me, the weak link is drawing skills. If I draw some object or scene, it will be recognized as tree or bird or whatever, but it will not look exactly like that tree or bird. Part of this is motivation. If my idea requires exact replication then I will be willing to work to get as close as I can. But, should I be drawing every day so that my skill level makes this effortless.

The decision I make most days is to go with my strengths. I will spend hours in the studio happily creating shapes and colors that recall places and objects that move or intrigue me. Some of this excitement and fun will be caught by viewers and then I will have accomplished my real goal.

Memories of flowers, fences and gazebos are captured in this watercolor. They are REAL for me. Any thoughts or comments will be appreciated. Thanks. Next week another episode of "How did you do that?"

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

To Sketch or Not While Traveling

As our annual "get away from Florida in August and September" approaches I am looking at piles of small sketch books, nifty watercolor and colored pencil sets, brushes made for travel and wondering whether to pack them. My record in this area is rather dismal.
I take comfort in something I read about Matisse. As I recall, he did very little sketching or even photographing while traveling. He said the images would all meld in his subconscious and then emerge at some point in his paintings.
An honest response makes me wonder if a small nudge from sketches or photos wouldn't help my subconscious produce better paintings now. Part of this soul searching is probably brought on by the gentleman who frequents my favorite coffee shop. He sits with watercolor pan and sketchbook recording the characters who frequent the cafe. "What kind of artist am I, that I don't do this?" Terrible, probably. Besides that I am really a very poor sketcher. People might observe this. Ugh.

Canyon IV Acrylic cMarge Bennett
Canyons of the West

On the other hand ( Am I beginning to sound like Tevia here?)some of these modest sketches have produced smashing paintings. For me the sketch is a memory prod.
So, to sketch or not to sketch? that is my question.
Last year's trip was a first for recording daily photos and comments. Fred did a comment and I did a photo each day for our our travel blog. It was fun and I still love looking at it.

So, photos, yes. Sketches, maybe.
I am looking for someone who has made sketching on vacation fun and valuable to tell me how to
have this kind of fun. Help.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Squish Painting Part 2

Cranberry Orchids by Marge Bennett

The second in a series of “How did you do that?” Posts.

The three monoprints shown above are made with the same print process as the mums in the Imagined Garden Piece. Squish Part 1

The small square here is a detail of the center flower. Note the texture. Only one color was used for these flowers. The stems and leaves were done in the same fashion using a green watercolor mix.

Since they are more complex, the orchids were created in small sections

How it was done:

First create an outline drawing of the image you wish to print.

Place the flexible celluloid plate over a small portion of the drawing (smooth side up).

Use a washable marker to trace that part of the drawing on your plate.

Turn the plate over and cover the image with soft, wet paint.

Squish the plate on the paper in the selected spot and create as much distortion as you desire. (Pressure and direction of push gives some control.)

Lift the plate by one corner and pull up so as to create texture.

Wash the plate and repeat the process again and again until the image is complete.

Obviously the images created will be fanciful. Squish painters are not doing botanical illustration! The process can be used to make prints or the images can be integrated into paintings as in Growing Old Gracefully shown below


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Squish That Flower

The first in a series of posts answering the question: “How did you do that?”

Imagined Garden in Vase shown left is one of my Imagined Garden paintings. The images in that series are a distillation of the flowers I have known and loved all my life. Look with your heart and you will see your own special memories reflected there.

Now to the question: “How did I do those mum-like blooms in the vase?” The answer: “I squished them.”

The Making of a Squish Flower requires paint (soft and juicy), water with a tad of liquid detergent, paper or canvas, and plexiglass or flexible transparent plastic.

Some helpful hints: The paint should be the same as that in the rest of the painting. Using acrylic? Don’t dawdle!

The texture and absorbency of the paper make a difference. Experiment.

Keep the water in a spray bottle. Mine is labeled, “joyful water”.

Plexi has sharp edges. Use care or file them down. They work best if sanded on one side.

(I prefer the pliable sheets that come in packages of bacon or smoked salmon from the grocery.)

Place a blob or two of paint on the rough surface of your plastic. Spray with a bit of water if needed.

Center the plexi, paint side down, over your paper or canvas. Squish it by pressing on the clean side. Note that you can control the direction and degree of spread with your fingers.

Gently and immediately pull up one corner of the plastic. A pattern develops depending upon your direction of pull and the consistency of the paint.

Admire your flower.

I sometimes fiddle a bit with a moist brush and in some cases start the stem with the moist paint.

Just for fun you can cover all of the plexi and make a small print. Be sure to pull the plate up by one corner so that you get good texture. This is a great project for small hands, but be sure to use child friendly paints (washable and non-toxic) and smooth-edged squishers.

Thanks for tuning in to Squish Painting 101. Tune in next Tuesday for a more sophisticated (well, sort of) use of this technique. I welcome comments on this painting style and would love to hear about others.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

"Let Them Eat Cake"

If you are like me, you make art museums and art shows a destination and you seek them out when you travel for other reasons. Coffee mugs are my link to the show and the artist...I love coffee and art so I make it a point to visit the gift shop in the hope of adding one more mug to my collection.
Recently a recipe for 5 Minute Chocolate Cake in a mug appeared in my in-box, courtesy of a fellow artist and chocolate lover. Of course I tried it and of course I ate it. My recommendation is to top it with whipped cream and a chocolate kiss. Care for the recipe?

Mix 4 T each of flour and sugar in mug
Add 2 T cocoa + 1 egg and mix thoroughly
Add 3 T each of milk, oil and chocolate chips + splash of vanilla
Mix a lot and place in micro wave on High
Try not to panic as it rises over the top of the mug.
Cool a little and EAT.

My mugs have reminded me of artists and their shows and they are fun to have for friends who share mt love of the brew. Simply query: "Modigliani or van Gogh"? Then pour a cup.

It occurred to me that using my mugs of cake could make for interesting dining conversation. I plan to use them when our small critique group meets at my studio. We can share ideas about the artists and eat chocolate at the same time.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

My New Room is In

Just received word that Room Painting #5, Room With A City View, has been accepted in the American Juried Art Salon's spring show. It was completed about two weeks ago and is part of an ongoing Room Series.

Details and a URL for the on-line exhibition will come later. The Room Series has been one I return to when I just want to have fun and paint something outrageous. Now I am considering an "outrageous summer". Good Idea?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Twenty (+or-) Concepts for New Posts

These are placed in tentative groups because it seems to me that a series of posts following some

train of interest would be appropriate. If the categories work out then a hanging file could be kept

for newer entries.

For the sake of brevity I am listing the kernel of my ideas. Each of the 20 has its’ page in my spiral



These ideas were listed here as part of "homework" for the blogging class referred to in an earlier

post. They are now housed on my computer and saved in my file. Hopefully they will appear as

developed ideas in coming weeks.