Category: New Work


I was trying to figure out what the opposite color of brown was a week ago, and I found this website with a great color tool.  I have strong instincts about what colors to use, but sometimes I get a bit stuck or don’t know which color would look best. To be honest, I feel like the range of colors we have here on planet earth is pathetically small. I know for sure that in other dimensions there must be far greater ranges. So often I’m looking for a color, and I think, “Is that all there is? Is that all the choices I have?”

Do you ever feel that way about food? Sometimes I have the same feeling with food. Like I want something, but it’s not anything that I can think of that exists– cheese or bread or wine or chocolate or lemon or what-have-you.

Complementary colors are interesting. They are not at all what I would expect them to be. Here, for example, is a pair of complementary colors:

I think of them more as opposite colors. I mean, they look really cool together, but you probably have to have an artist’s eye to agree with that. Remember when pink and green was such a popular color combination? When preppy was in? Those are complementary colors, in the technical sense. I mean, if my mother were using the term “complementary colors,” she certainly wouldn’t put yellow and purple together. It’s interesting– the website lets you choose color “harmonies.” So it’s kind of like music where you can choose a note, and then find other notes that are in harmony with it by going up or down a certain number of steps.

Anyway, I was making a drawing in my journal this morning, and I used the tool. I started with this:

Well, this was a part of the drawing. I uploaded it to my computer, figured out the color number values of the yellow in Photoshop, then I plugged them into the color calculator and got the complementary color. It’s the first image in the post. I don’t like purple so I didn’t use it; instead I ended up trying the “triadic harmony,” which is this:

This is the final drawing:

Initially the red part was brighter and redder, like the swatch above, but I didn’t like how it looked so I darkened it with pencil/graphite. To be honest, I don’t like the color scheme very much, and I was reminded of another time I tried using pre-set color schemes to color my drawings. I have a color book called Color Index by Jim Krause with “over 1100 color combinations,” and I tried taking color combinations from the book.

It’s funny though, I had the same feeling then– that they look good in the book, but they’re not what I want. Though sometimes what I paint isn’t what I want either.

I haven’t drawn in my journal in a week. I’ve been working on our Christmas card and Christmas things. When I don’t draw for a while, I think my first drawings are bad. It’s like the way you need to run water through pipes that haven’t been used for a while to get the dirty water out first, before the clean water comes through.



Fear of Ruining It

I wrote in a previous post that Jean-Michel Basquiat didn’t seem to have any fear in his art making process. Maybe in part because he was constantly making things. I suppose if you were making new drawings and paintings every day, they wouldn’t feel as precious. I don’t work nearly that much, and when I start to make something that I like, leave it, and return to it, it occurs to me that I might just ruin it. Or it occurs to me that it’s very likely that I”ll ruin it.

I read in a book by Françoise Gilot that Picasso would start his paintings, then when they reached a turning point he would have his assistants make copies of them so that if he didn’t like what he did with them, he could go back and start over. That would be ideal, wouldn’t it. I guess you can do that if you work digitally. Or if you have assistants.

Here is a drawing I am currently working on. I started it working freely, the way I do when I’m doing journal drawings. My goal was to begin working that same way in larger formats. This is 23″ x 19″. I was trying to do some Basquiat things and took out my oil paints, which are at least twenty years old, but still seem okay. The tubes are a bit sticky. I got this far several weeks ago and then became paralyzed. Well actually I also got busy with other things, but I’ve had opportunities to work on it and have chosen safer things.


Here is is after further work:


And here it is finished:

I don’t believe I ruined it, but I would love to go back and do a few sections differently. Still, I think the making of it is the most important thing. I need to make more paintings and not expect them all to be works of art. As they say:)


This fox arrived the other day and reminded me of how much I like foxes. They must be my favorite animal (after tigers). I have never met a fox, so this is all in my imagination. I did see a coyote trotting down my street the other night at 9:15 pm.

You might note the effort at shading. I still need practice. She appears to be hoeing something.

Here is another fox I drew a few years ago called “Booty Fox.”


What I really need to learn how to do is to shade my illustrations in a convincing way. That’s a large part of why I wanted to learn how to draw properly. Today I did two drawings of a felted bowl I have. They are not very good, but it got me motivated to keep working at it.

After the bowls I did a free journal drawing and then tried to shade it– at least the dog part of it.  I really want to be able to shade these invented characters. So much of what the drawing books teach you is to draw what you see, but I don’t actually see these things before I draw them. I think I need to learn how to imagine them more clearly in a three-dimensional way with light hitting them.