Have you ever wondered how artists begin an art piece?

How it goes from an idea or a mark to a cohesive work of beauty?TheBlankCanvasBlogHop300Badge

Here is your chance to peek the inside workings of artists, 15 of them, myself included, during our fabulous blog hop, THE BLANK CANVAS.  Each artist working in distinct media-painting, mixed media, sculpture, photography- will unveil for you their inner workings, their step by step for taking a blank “canvas” from embryo to completion! It’s going to be a blast–for you AND for us!

I will be kicking off the blog hop which will run September 8th-September 22nd. Not only will you get a very cool insider’s view of different artists work process, you might win some of the fabulous gift giveaways offered by each artist.  I’ve got a super gift planned for you but I’m not letting the cat out of the bag until you come see me on September 8th!


What do you have to do?

  • Mark you calendar for September 8th and come here
  • Check out who is posting each day and visit their blog
  • Read about each artists’ process and leave them a comment
  • Follow the directions on how to enter to win THE BLANK CANVAS blog hop giveaways.

Easy-peasy, right? So I’ll see you there!


Other stuff to do?

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Mini ELEPHANT JOURNAL free gift for signing up

Mini ELEPHANT JOURNAL free gift for signing up

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Texture start

Here is a project that I got underway after being stuck. I got myself started by applying a variety of different textures with spackle, molding paste, collage.

I remember when I was a kid, it was so much fun to make things.  No one had to tell me to do it, I wanted to.  I just went ahead and did it! There was nothing holding me back, I didn’t worry about setting up  or making a mess–who cared?!? I got hold of an idea or challenge and just went ahead and did it. That I didn’t know how wasn’t even an issue, I knew that I could try different ways until I got it to work.  All in all, I was fearless!

Now as an adult, there are all sorts of things that stand in the way of creativity and, truth be told, we control them all.

Step 2

Next I added color, shapes & gels, somewhat randomly.

I’ve used all the excuses in the book- no time, don’t know how, what if I do “it” wrong, what if it doesn’t work, what if others don’t like it. I was scared! I have learned some ways to battle the things that keep me stuck. Let me share them with you.

1)  Take it in small steps! Create tasks that can be done in a short time period. Buy the equipment you need (notebook, paint, sketchbook, etc) and keep it organized so you can jump right in when you get even a small chunk of time.  For example, if you are making an art journal, perhaps one task is collaging, another stamping and writing, the third is embellishing with paint & art materials.  This way, it is less daunting and can get done even when time is at a premium.

2)  Make clean up easy!  Get a tarp (or I use large papers sheets) that is the size of your worktable.  If mess is a problem, this makes it easy & it’s reusable.

Layers of color

I kept on adding more colors. I couldn’t figure out what to do so I just kept going, trying more color and sanding back some of the texture.

3)  Challenge yourself! Don’t  worry that you don’t know how, you will figure it out! The answer is in doing it! And once you have figured out how to do, make, construct “it”, you will feel terrific! Giving yourself an accomplishable challenge and meeting it, will give you great satisfaction.

4)  Be fearless!  We are all afraid of failing but it is through the process of doing that we learn and we succeed.  Reframe your activity in your mind so that your project does not demand perfection.

Texture, color, layers

I continued adding layers of color, covering a lot of the light colored area. I tried looking at it upside down and sideways.

Perfection is the enemy! We need to be able to learn through trying, to go where we haven’t gone before in order to create something more wonderful than we ever have!

5)  Appreciate your accomplishment! Whether it is a new song or a rearranged room, take the time to look over what you have done and acknowledge yourself for that achievement! You did it!

Through The Ages

“Through The Ages” mixed media and acrylic on hard board 10″ x 10″
When I turned it, I discovered something unexpected–there was a gnarly, old tree! I didn’t know how it got there but there it was. Cool!

Now you have some of the tools I use to get unstuck.  Sharing them here lets me remind myself, so I will remember them the next time I get stuck. (Which will probably be soon!)  Post some of the the techniques you use to get unstuck in the comments below!

Posted in Achievemnt, collage, COLOR, Inspiration, landscape, Learning, Painting, tree, wall art | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Five Tips For Better Vacation Photos

Summertime is when so many of us take to the road-or plane or ship- and travel away from home.  I’m no different from the rest, traveling locally back and forth from Brooklyn to the Poconos this summer.  While I am not visiting exotic destinations right now, many of you know my last year has been filled with exotic places.

On every trip I have taken a camera (other than my phone) to record the beauty and fun experiences I had.  But, at times, I came home and looked at my pictures and was disappointed that they didn’t look nearly as exciting as they did when I was there. Although I am not a professional photographer, I have learned some tricks for getting better trip photos.

  • When you are photographing something in the distance, whether inside or out, don’t use your flash.  A flash only illuminates 8-11 feet.  Therefore, it does nothing to get those domed ceilings and the like.  Instead, turn off your flash and set your digital camera’s white balance to automatic AWB. This will adjust your shutter speed to the available light
  • .Interior Budapest Synagogue with flash

Interior Budapest Synagogue with flash


Budapest Synagogue interior with no flash

Budapest Synagogue interior with no flash

  • Add interest to your pictures by shooting through a framing element, such as a window or gate or through arches as in this photo in Budapest.
View of Buda side from the Pest side through stone arches.

View of Buda side from the Pest side through stone arches.







  • Change your perspective. If there is something special that you have noticed on the ground or in nature or a cool detail, get in real close. When you have zoomed in on that scene, make sure that you place the focus on the part of the image that you really want to see. As seen in this picture, I wanted to see my little green friend and depth of field made the flora in the picture kind of fuzzy, an effect I really like.

    Nature in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

    Nature in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico




  • When shooting a landscape (or seascape), play with your zoom.  While keeping your distance will give you more information, zooming in will give you a more dramatic photo.

    Close up of rocks in fishing village in South Africa

    Close up of rocks in fishing village in South Africa



The broader vista of the same rocks on the west coast of SA

The broader vista of the same rocks on the west coast of SA





Church San Miguel de Allende

Church San Miguel de Allende

  • Shooting a vista can be disappointing but if you include some close elements in the shot, you may dramatically improve it.

    Fountain in foreground adds more interest and more information

    Fountain in foreground adds more interest and more information









I hope these tips help your pictures come closer the beautiful memories that you made.  I’d love to hear about and see your favorite travel photos in your comments below!



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I am having a contest and the winner will win a signed and numbered print of my painting “Flower Forest”!


ENTER TO WIN this signed print!
Go to:


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I’m inviting you to come see me, my artwork and my home this Sunday, June 8th, 1-6 PM as part of the Victorian Flatbush House Tour!  I live in a great Brooklyn neighborhood that has a history going back to the late 1800’s.  My home, built in 1902, is part of the Prospect Park South landmark district.  It is the one on the left, featured on the house tour postcard.IMG_3631

I will be showing many of my paintings as well as the house.  If you want to come just to my house (& not the rest of the tour), please do (for free).  I am on Marlborough Road between Beverly and Albemarle Roads, you will see the signs to the house.  Make sure you come & say hi!

Posted in architecture, Decor, Exhibition, interior design, Interiors | 1 Comment


Session 3 of the workshop Collaging With Artist Made Papers was all about creating finished pieces. We set out using all the papers that had already been created in the last two sessions. First session we made paste papers in a variety of colors and textures. In the second session, we used other devices to make original papers, things like drawing with

Land/Seascape collage,

Land/Seascape collage,

the candle and painting over it, blowing puddles of paint with a straw, blending and graduated color washes, using specific brush strokes to create visual textures, all of which became our paint palette.  From there, we used them to create the fabulous works of art.

Cutting papers is a perfectly valid way to create pieces to glue it into your collage. However I tend to favor tearing papers because there is a much more organic feel to the edge as it is incorporated into the artwork.

torn paper edges

torn paper edges

There are techniques to tearing papers, whether you tear a piece of paper with the grain or against it and whether you tear the paper up or down.  All of these will make variations in the type of edge you get when you tear your paper. I demonstrated paper tearing and showed them how to make a shape with torn paper. Not as easy as you would think.

Assembling collage pieces into a cohesive work of art is real brain work. It takes a lot of thought to decide how to design with paper and what shapes and colors should be used to execute what you were trying to create. Like an artist working with paint, the papers are frequently layered over, enhancing the richness of the surface.

Work in progress. Layers add texture.

Work in progress. Layers add texture.

The textures one creates through this layering process adds another dimension. I directed the students to create an abstract landscape for the first project and the second project was totally up to the discretion.

In that project,  some students

Collage with photographs added. Work in progress.

Collage with photographs added. Work in progress.

added photography and images from other sources. It is important to integrate these things together so that they don’t stand out like a sore thumb and to create a fully integrated piece.

Land/seascape collage

Land/seascape collage

The students created wonderful art and had a great time. There were a lot of smiles and laughter between the concentration, tearing and gluing.  So much so that they asked me to create studio hours.  What do you think of that idea?

If you want to come have some creative play with me and make some great art, join the Textures In Painting workshop that I am offering on 3 consecutive Thursday evenings, June 5, 12 & 19.  We’ll have a blast! For more info and to register, CLICK HERE.

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While I have lots of creative fun, I still have dry times. These are my 5 top tips for keeping yourself exploring, experimenting, ready to dive into the pool of your own creativity!

  • Always have a blank notebook and pen, pencil, markers and whenever you with a little time on your hands,  start doodling make lines shapes shadows, add depth, direction–let your creative energy flow right out your arm onto the page.

    One of my better developed doodles.

    One of my better developed doodles.

  • Can’t think of what to paint? Let yourself be inspired! Open your favorite art book or an image that you really love and copy it.   Do it to feel the energy that artist did and  know that you yourself have the same power running through you.
  • Pick a word or phrase that really resonates with you and use it for inspiration!  See what that word conjures up in your mind or use it graphically to enrich your canvas.
  • New art supplies! Whether they come from an art store, a catalog or a 99¢ store, new art supplies will charge you up and get your creative juices flowing!
  • Put down some textures! I use newspaper, foil, plaster and all sorts of other things to create textures on my canvases. When you have a really rich textual subsurface, all you need to do is start adding color and the painting seems to paint itself!
    "Z" The Letter Series  8" x 8" acrylic & mixed media

    “Z” The Letter Series
    8″ x 8″
    acrylic & mixed media

    "O" The Letter Series  8" x 8" acrylic & mixed media

    “O” The Letter Series
    8″ x 8″
    acrylic & mixed media

That is why I have created my Textures In Painting workshop. The workshop will run 3 consecutive Thursday evenings, June 5, 12 & 19, 7-10PM (new dates!) at the Downstairs Studio in Prospect Park South, Brooklyn.  I want to be able to share with you the fun of playing with all these new substrates (foundation for your canvas).  We will be slapping on mediums, mixing them up, seeing what comes out!  I will provide all the goodies to make your sample boards (so you can remember which techniques we used) and your masterpiece!  Experimentation and exploration will be our watchwords.  You don’t need to know how, I will guide you through it all as we turn our textured canvases into beautiful paintings.  You will bring your most creative self to the party! SIGN UP HERE!


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Create a plan for the success of your business!

Can you do what you love and make a living at it? Does the business side of things leave you feeling overwhelmed, unsure of where to start? Well, here’s the thing for you! Instead of staying stuck and frustrated, have fun and move your business forward with the Right Brain Business Plan workshop! It is important to have clear goals and actions to succeed. This program is an intensive and enjoyable way to clarify your business vision, goals and action steps, navigated through a visual, creative and supportive process.  You’ll make it through the traditional (a.k.a. “intimidating”) parts of the plan like competitive analysis, marketing and finances in a way that is inspiring, engaging and expressive, just like YOU are!

This is be the perfect spring project to get you set up for a stellar second half of the year! SIGN UP HERE!

TWO BONUS GIFTSrbbpworshop200x200layers-1

If you sign up by midnight, Tuesday, May 20th, you receive
  • FREE The Right Brain Business Plan book by Jennifer Lee
  • FREE One month of one-on-one consultation and coaching after the workshop

Jumpstart your plan with me on 4 consecutive Wednesday evenings, starting May 21st. My experience blends a Masters in Business Administration and years in business with more than two decades as a visual artist and 10 years as a creativity coach and teacher, so I am the perfect guide to take you on this journey!

My Business Vision

My Business Vision

Here’s what people are saying about the workshop: “Going through the whole process and leaving with concrete steps and a plan to achieve them were the most valuable part of the workshop. I’d recommend it to my friends…(Karen is) an inspiration! -Laura Stanton, Occupational Therapist & Yoga Teacher

Fun at the workshop with vision collages.

Fun at the workshop with vision collages.

“I am honored to have been able to learn from a new perspective in a fun, challenging way! (Karen is) mentor, teacher, leader, encourager, outside-the-box thinker!” -Kathleen Payne, Musician & Vocalist
      Space is limited, so register now and get your 2 BONUS GIFTS! The clock is ticking!  SIGN UP HERE! Jumpstart your plan with me on May 21st. Isn’t it time you finally got your business plan done? And why not have fun while you’re at it!

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MAY/JUNE WORKSHOPSThere is a great line up for late Spring with a NEW Art Workshop-Textures In Painting- and the newly revisedRight Brain Business Plan Workshop coming up!  You said you wanted shorter courses and you didn’t want to give up your weekends, so here they are in the evening, for your convenience!

The ART workshop-Textures In Painting- runs 3 evenings, 7 – 10 PM  $195-, all materials included. Perfect for experienced & not-quite-yet artists alike, who want the opportunity to play and explore new materials and how to use them.

Solopenuers! Artists! Therapists! Writers! Designers!
Do you have a heart-centered business?  Are you original and creative in your business as well as your life?  Now you can plan your business in the same creative way you live, with theRight Brain Business Plan workshop.  Note- new dates in May & June.

Purple Clouds


Bring the wealth of texture to
your art as you work with
mixed media!
May 29, June 5 & 12
  learn more here
This 4 evening workshop is designed specifically for creatives who really want to succeed in the left brain business world. We’ll spend some time doing what you do best… having fun! And while we’re having fun, you’ll be creating a VISUAL business plan that you can use anytime and anywhere.This is a 4 module workshop. You may take any of the modules or all 4-the complete workshop (and a $40 savings!). Wednesday, May 21st, 6:30-10:00PM,
Wednesday, May 28th, 7-9:30PM,
Wednesday, June 4th, 7-9:30PM,
Wednesday, June 11th, 7-9:30PM

Learn more here

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Spring With The New York’s Artist Conference Network!

 • The Artist Conference Network, Inc. is a unique, nonprofit, nationwide coaching community for people doing creative work.

• In three-month goal periods, we coach together regularly for breakthroughs in momentum and empowerment; then we share our work and celebrate all we accomplish.

If you would like more fun, more company, more clarity, more accomplishment and more daring in your creative work, I highly recommend joining the New York Artist Conference Network!

 A Brief Introduction to the Artist Conference Network

 The Artist Conference Network is a non-profit, nationwide creativity-coaching community born out of one artist’s intention to create a new culture for the arts. The founder, Beverly Cassell, said it like this: “The Artist Conference Network is a structural cradle within which our creative possibilities can be supported and cared for and within which we can wake from the dream of our stories into a new reality.”

 A painter and teacher, Beverly saw that many artists lived and learned their art in a context of critique and isolation. To encourage the field of creative possibility in an atmosphere of mutual support, she invented a coaching structure available to artists working in any form and at any skill level. It calls forth from the artist the vision for his or her own life and work, while fostering the field of creative possibility in a space of community support and camaraderie.

Here is what other ACN members have had to say:

 I have taken years of personal development courses from many different well known organizations and the coaching at the ACN weekend blew those out of the water!  This is more than just a structure to keep on track with art making goals; this is a framework for realizing who you truly are as an expression in the world and removing any blocks you have to expressing that loudly to the universe through whatever art medium you choose!

Molly Wheeler, Painter, Oakland Conference

ACN has given me the language to express my creative journey and to connect with others on theirs. As one of the leaders of the Atlanta ACN group, I have been learning so much about what CREATIVE LEADERSHIP is…and it is CHALLENGING!

Ruth Schowalter, Painter, Writer, Atlanta Conference

I have been a group facilitator and corporate trainer for many years. I don’t lavish praise easily. But I was swept off my feet by the ACN training. I joined the ACN at the suggestion of a friend who learned I was working on a book and was struggling with it. The model is brilliant; you use it with subtle sensitivity, and the hearts of group members are wide open and welcoming. I have a new vision and a happier relationship to my writing. I have renewed energy, motivation, and best of all, a community of support. I feel blessed to be a part of ACN.

Leah Fisher, Writer, Oakland Conference

The New York Artist Conference takes in new members once a year during a weekend training that teaches the coaching process. The Weekend Conference is the first weekend in May. It costs $345, and it includes a year’s worth of coaching, meetings and goal support. There are flexible ways to pay in installments or by credit card.

I am currently coleader of the NY ACN, having been a member for 10 years.  It is the single most powerful step I have taken in my creative life.  To join or get more info, contact me at: karenart99@yahoo.com or Sarah Lilly at germainia@juno.com.  The conference weekend is May 3-4, so do it right away!


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