Blog Archives


farmlandWell, I’m going to teach an art class again — thought I was finished with that, but guess it’s in my “blood.”  Beginning September 15 (Thursday) from 1:30 – 3:30, I will be teaching a class on how to compose a work of art at the Maumelle Senior Wellness Center in Maumelle.  This is a seven week class, and will include examples, critiques, information, exercises, and perhaps occasional homework.  Students will use their own materials, as well as materials provided by the instructor.  I’ve had many years of experience teaching this subject, both in high school art classes, children’s classes, and adult classes.  A lot of the lessons will be based on the blogs I’ve shared on this site.  Cost is $45, and there is a maximum of eight students so call MSWC as soon as possible, if you want to register  (501- 851-4344).   I’m looking forward to seeing you and sharing my understanding of composition and design principles.



I spent two weeks painting these six “word portraits” to take with me to the Delta Arts Festival in Newport last week, and not a one sold!  Guess I thought others would like the words of scripture displayed in their house.  I was inspired by my priest’s chasuble he wears Sundays in ordinary time.  It says “HOLY, HOLY, HOLY” across the front.  At any rate, here are the images — the acrylic paintings are 11 x 14″ and I’ll sell any of them for $25.  The embellishments are symbolic – at least to me!  Might make nice gifts — who knows!  Comment if you like them, please

peace believe hope joy love trust


I thought I’d start out the New Year by sharing with you some of the quotations about the making of art that I’ve collected over the years. They mean something to me, and may be meaningful to you as well.  Some of these are anonymous (meaning I don’t know where they came from), and some aren’t.  I have given the author’s name where I can.  So here goes:

“Painting the verb, the act of doing it, is more important than painting the noun.”  Gerald Brommer

“When you watch children paint, they are not concerned with end results at all.  They’re just thrilled with the process of expressing themselves. I think all artists need to step back once in a while and remember to enjoy painting and not be so concerned about end results. Art is about expressing yourself. The end result is just a bonus.”  Sandra Meyer

“Every artist should be afraid of doing a painting where people don’t do anything; where people don’t react; where they say, ‘Well, that’s a pretty picture’ and move on.”  Dean Mitchell

“Landscape is a medium for ideas…the various details in a landscape painting mean nothing to us if they do not express some mood of nature as felt by the artist.”  Robert Henri

“The whole fact is that art and science are so closely akin that they might well be lumped together.” Robert Henri

“Do not let beauty in the subdivisions destroy the beauty or the power of the major divisions.”  Unknown

“Paint the things that mean the most…the things you’d grab if the house were on fire.”  Unknown

“Never let reality stand in the way of imagination.” Elizabeth Grover

“Art is just another language for praying to God.” Unknown

“What we need is more sense of the wonder of life and less of the business of making a picture.” Robert Henri






First of all, I’ve had computer problems this week, so I’m late in posting this.   I’m back on track however!

If you divide the color wheel equidistantly, you will have a triangle  and thusly, a triadic color scheme.  This becomes a highly contrasting scheme and could be difficult to pull off! You will need to mix two of the colors together to make semineutrals.  Your scheme will be either warm or cool dominant depending on the intense color used.  If done well, you will have an exciting color composition.

Use of the three primary colors (red, blue, and yellow) become a triadic color scheme, but some of the other colors are easier to work with.  This first example is using Ultramarine Blue, Indian Red, and Hooker’s Green.  These correspond to blue-violet, yellow-green, and red-orange on the color wheel.  I didn’t use a lot of neutrals in this. so there’s a lot of intensity.


In this next example, I used Manganese Blue, Raw Sienna, and Violet.  These relate to blue-green, yellow-orange, and red-violet on the color wheel. I subdued the violet and raw sienna, so that the yellow-orange is dominant.  Which one do you like the best?  It’s a lot of fun trying out these color exercises, not to mention how much you learn from them.  If you’re interested in this, read Stephen Quiller’s book, Color Choices: Making Sense out of Color Theory.  That’s where I got my inspiration.



Split complementary

The split-complementary color scheme is just what it says:  the complement of one color is split on either side so that it is a 3-color scheme.  What happens is that one color temperature becomes dominant and the other is subordinate.  Another way of looking at is is to select three analogous colors and then look for the complement of the middle color.  In this way, a harmonious relationship is provided as well as an accent color that enlivens the composition.  This color scheme is found in nature most often with the hues blue, green, and orange.

To choose your colors, ask yourself what mood you want to convey.  Cool colors convey a feeling of peace and calm while warm colors could be used to show activity, vibrancy, brightness.   One or two colors could be neutralized while the accent color is used in its intensity.

In my first example, I used a split-complementary scheme of yellow, orange-red, and blue violet.  The analogous colors where used predominantly, and the blue-violet was subdued and used only sparingly.  It’s a hot summer day!


In my second example, I used a split-complementary scheme of red-violet, blue-violet, and yellow.  The warms are dominant, and the yellow is partly subdued.  A night scene is suggested.  This is a good exercise for you to try – let me know how it turns out!









     In this abstracted 16 x 16″ landscape, I was trying to use one of the six basic  value  schemes mentioned by Edgar Whitney.  The scheme was a little dark with a lot of light in medium values.  I seldom use this value scheme; that’s why I wanted to try it.  I also wanted to continue breaking up the picture plane into sections, but still be able to lead the eye movement to the center of interest (the barn in the upper right area).  As usual, I worked out the value and color scheme in my sketchbook and decided to use a split-complementary color scheme: blue, red orange, orange, and yellow orange.  The acrylic colors I used were Cadmium Orange, Hansa Yellow, Indian Yellow,  Thalo Blue, Prussian Blue, Raw sienna, Burnt Sienna, Cadium Red Light and Titanium White.  (At least, that’s what I think I used — hard to remember now!)


Summer Fields Here’s a new painting — an experiment, if you will.  This is acrylic on 16 x 16″ clayboard panel.  First, I worked out the design in my sketchbook although the inserted images changed as I painted on the panel.  Clayboard is not like canvas; I learned that I had to use several layers of acrylic to get the texture I desired.  I remembered that Terrance Corbin used to divide up his surface into smaller sections, and I love doing that!  Guess I’m an organizer at heart!  At any rate, I tried to vary the sizes of the segments and still have a way that the viewer could get through the entire piece.  That was done by the narrow pieces running through and the color repetitions.  I used only blue, yellow, orange, and green with some white, mixing the neutrals from these colors.  it was a lot of fun!

What do you think?


Other art organizations available to Arkansas artists in the central region include the Arkansas League of Artists (ALA)and the Conway League of Artists (CLA).

The web site for the ALA is  The Mission Statement on the web site reads:  “The Arkansas League of Artists is an organization formed to promote fine arts in Arkansas. The League is a growing membership of artists and art enthusiasts who gather to learn from one another by exploring new techniques, working in new mediums and sharing their collective knowledge.”  The group meets the last Tuesday of each month except for December at 7:00 PM at the North Little Rock Community Center.  Programs include demonstrations and lectures, and each member may bring  an original art work to the meetings to be voted on by those attending.  Each winning piece is displayed for a month at local banks as “The Artist of the Month.”  In addition, several exhibitions are hosted throughout the year.  The 5th Annual Juried ALAart show is scheduled for September 12th – December 27th at the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies in the Arkansas Studies Institute.  The organization also awards scholarships to high school students and to the Arkansas Arts Center Museum School.

The Conway League of Artists meets at either the Faulkner County Library in Conway, or  the Art on the Green (a local art gallery and studio) the 2nd Wednesday of each month at 7 PM.  On the web site at, it is stated that the “Conway League of Artists is about creating visual art. We’re artists of all types: students, teachers, professionals, hobby painters and creatives who just want to learn and talk about art.  We have painters, sculptors, potters, photographers, and illustrators…  and a wide variety of media.”  There are several exhibits held in Conway areas yearly and ongoing displays at banks, the library, and other Conway businesses.  The meetings include demonstrations, information, and member voting for the “Art of the Month”.

All four of these Arkansas art organizations are active, involved, and inclusive.   Dues range from $20 to $30, and are well worth the price for the degree of encouragement, inspiration, and education derived from membership.  If you’re not already a member of one of these groups,  think about joining — membership will  greatly enhance your creativity and confidence.



Now, how can you use the Fibonacci numbers to make a composition that conforms to the Golden Mean or Golden Section? If you use the correct size for the overall composition, it would be about 10 x 16″ – (1-1.618) – a larger format would be 13 x 21″.   In order to break this apart, and position your center of interest in the correct spot, you will need to plot the numbers on a sheet of graph paper the correct size.  For instance, using a format 13 x 21″, I measured off a 13 x 13″ square on one side, which left a rectangle of 8 x 13″.  From this, I formed an 8 x 8″ square leaving a 5 x 8″ rectangle.  Then I measured inside this rectangle a square that is 5 x 5″ leaving a rectangle of 3 x 5″.  Inside this rectangle, I formed a 3 x 3″ square, leaving a rectangle of 2 x 3″.  Inside this rectangle I measured a 2 x 2″ square, leaving a rectangle of 1 x 2″. This rectangle was divided into two squares 1 x 1″ each.  So you see, the sequence from inside out is  1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21 — the Fibonacci number sequence.  Here’s my result–


If you draw a spiral connecting the corners of each square, it looks like the kind of spirals you see in shells, pine cones, flowers, etc.  How about that!



The center of interest should be placed  in the smallest squares — the largest section should conform to the principle of using the same value with different hues to keep it integrated.  Here is a collage I made using this type of composition.  It is a poem collage which reads from the inside out:  The earth turns round. Faces the sun; A new day is born.  Shall I change another’s life today?  Shall I reach a goal or realize my life’s mission? Or shall I still live one day at a time, in the hope that the path I follow is His?


I invite you to try a composition in this format and see how you like it!



Look at this number sequence:  1,3,5,7,9,11 – what number should be next?  13 of course.  What about this sequence?  3,6,12,24?  The answer is 48. Now take a look at this one:  0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21 — what number comes next?  If you said 34 – you’d be right! You had to add the last two numbers to get the next – and so forth.

This last is called the Fibonacci sequence after its discoverer — Leonardo of Pisa known as Fibonacci (son of Bonacci) who wrote a book about math in 1202 in which he was trying to determine how fast rabbits could breed.   He was educated in North Africa and learned his mathematical system from the Moors. He helped Europe replace the Roman numeral system with the “algorithms” that we use today.

It has been found that this number sequence corresponds closely with the golden mean or section: if you divide each number by the number before it, your results get closer and closer to Phi (1/66, 1/62, 1/615, 1/619, 1/6176, 1/6181818 etc).  This sequence is found in nature – in the spirals of flower petals, seed heads, pine cones, vegetables, leaf arrangements, nautilus shells, even the human body and face.  The French architect LeCorbusier thought that the human body when measured from foot to stomach and then again from stomach to top of the head was very close to the Golden Mean.  Even the span of the arms and legs adhere to this proportion.  Dentists and oral surgeons use the proportion because the relative sizes of the jaws and teeth conform to the ratio.  The proportional ratio of the upper lateral incisors to the upper front incisors is 1:1.618!  Some believe that the more closely a woman’s face conforms to the ratio, the more beautiful she’ll look.  Leonardo da Vinci’s drawing of the Vitruvian Man depicts where he marked off proportions according to the phi progression.

Take a look at these images from nature.  Do you see where the spiral starts in the middle and progresses outward, enlarging proportionally until the sequence is completed?  More on this as it applies to the arts later!





Check out how many examples of Fibonacci numbers you can see in nature — look at broccoli, cauliflower, a pine cone, etc.  Remember, though, that everything does not correspond.