A Switch Worth Savoring

"Lakehouse," acrylic on canvas by Mary Gow
“Lakehouse,” acrylic on canvas, by Mary Gow

The theme this month at a local art group’s competition was “California.” I found a painting that was sort of between realism and abstraction and I said to myself, “Oh what the heck, I’ll bring a painting and see what happens.”

Just before I left for the meeting, my husband looked at the painting I picked and he said he liked it better upside down. I hadn’t thought of showing it that way, but by golly, it looked like a mountain or a bridge and a whole lot more intriguing than a lake house on the water as I had originally envisioned it.

"Lakehouse," acrylic on canvas, by Mary Gow
“Lakehouse,” acrylic on canvas, by Mary Gow
Surprisingly, I tied for Third Place with painter, Deboarh Macias, in the competition that was voted on by all attendees.

I went home to tell my husband he wouldn’t believe what happened. We had a good laugh because I was such a skeptic about even bringing a piece to show since this particular group is so oriented to realism while I lean towards abstraction.

The new way of looking at my own painting showed me that it’s never too late to change the orientation of a painting and see it a different way.

And upside down just might win an award.

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A Few Art Insights from Myrna Wacknov

By Mary Gow

Myrna Wacknov drawing with watercolors on Tyvek
Myrna Wacknov drawing with watercolors on her unusual choice of paper
A few months ago I saw San Francisco Bay Area Artist, Myrna Wacknov, give a painting demo. She was wearing a colorful bold yellow, red and orange outfit, and her painting palette was much the same intensity. What follows are some of my notes from her talk.

Her favorite watercolors are Doc Martin’s Liquid Watercolor. She used a squirt bottle with a superfine tip to draw her lines.

She said you don’t need expensive brushes for the style she likes to paint – using an inexpensive surface that reacts like no other surface!

Painting on the same material used by the U.S. Post Office for envelopes, Wacknov likes Tyvek: a semi absorbent and easy to wipe surface. You can start a painting over again if you can quickly wipe away first strokes, as Wacknov demonstrated by drawing a face and then totally smearing it to make a soft colored background for the piece.

She buys Tyvek in bulk, suggesting allweatherblueprints.com. When I went to that site I was redirected to outdoorpaper.com. I found 250 sheets of 17” x 22” for $225. https://www.outdoorpaper.com/products/copy-of-tyvek-sheets-for-the-arts-crafts-and-industry-11×17-7-5-mil-uncoated.

Wacknov said it was an economical way to paint watercolors and indeed, much easier on the pocketbook than regular watercolor paper.

Having painted many portraits she said she prefers painting the subject from photographs rather than in-person sittings.

“I don’t admire perfect drawing,” said Wacknov.

She captures a feeling about a person in her drawings, using two apps (icolorama and Paper Camera) for helping her decide how she’ll apply tonalities and colorations.

Looking into icolorama I found this about it online: the effects are from simple image adjustments to complicated transformations. Images can also be painted with many different brushes
 and you can import and use directly your own Photoshop brushes!

The development of this app is updated based on community requests.

Community: http://facebook.com/groups/icolorama 2300+ members.

There are some fantastic tutorials written by Jerry Jobe here: http://enthusiasmnoted.wordpress.com/?s=iColorama
For more explanation on icolorama and download go to http://apkdeal.com/download-icolorama-s-4-27-apk-for-free-on-your-android-ios-phone/

You can find PaperCamera online at: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.dama.papercamera

It’s made by JFDP Labs, the same company that makes Paper Artist, an app I love to use and recommend you try it as well!

When asked whose work influences hers, who does she admire, Wacknov mentioned Ted Nuttall. You can see some of his work as a watercolor portraitist here: https://tednuttallgallery.com/collections/ted-nuttall-3

In Nuttall’s bio he quotes Henri Matisse: “I do not literally paint that table, but the emotion it produces upon me.”

You can check out Myrna Wacknov’s work in at her studio at Peninsula Museum of Art at 1777 California Drive, Burlingame, CA 94010. More info at https://peninsulamuseum.org. http://www.peninsulaartinstitute.org/artists

Painting in her own unique way on an unexpected surface, Wacknov encouraged artists to paint in the style they like to paint in — and to “Get people as excited as you are about it!”

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When To Blossom

"In Time, Blossom," Composite Scanogram by Mary Gow
“In Time, Blossom,” Composite Scanogram by Mary Gow
Over the last three years I’ve been writing almost every day. Some days the writing comes easily. Others, it’s a bit more challenging.

It’s gratifying to look at what I wrote a year ago and know that this year, my work reads better.

Last month = 37,217 words.

Two years ago I met up with a writer friend at a party and we agreed to touch base regularly to keep tabs on our progress.

That lasted a few months.

I had no problem being motivated to write each day. But I wasn’t ready to share it.

With anyone.

Over a dozen years ago I wrote a book for my master’s degree project.

I haven’t published it.

But I know I’ll publish several books.

In time.

It may not be the time line suggested in a course I’m taking on how to become a bestselling writer.

It may not be the timeline of notable inspirational writer/coach suggested in a consulation at a writer’s conference.

Even though I’ve had plenty of reasons to publish my essays, I haven’t . . . yet.

Sometimes I feel there must be something wrong because I write so many words each day. But I KNOW I will be publishing my books. I know.

My writing was first appeared in 1980 in the Dallas Morning News. I was working the Features Department and I got to write about upcoming events.

When I was 35 the Austin American-Statesman published a 2,000 word article I wrote for the cover of their Feature section.

Most recently, a few years ago I wrote features about local artists for the New Bernal Journal, then a local paper in San Francisco.

Today I found an essayist whose opinion resonated with me! And experience of being published “later” did too.

I didn’t pitch or publish my first piece online until I was 30 or 31.

I think it’s useful for everyone, no matter what stage of their career they’re at, to know it’s okay to write for yourself first—sometimes only for yourself. There are going to be things that you might need to work out on the page, alone, before you’re ready to share them more widely. I don’t think there’s always a rush. It’s okay to take the longer voyage.

– Nicole Chung


Who’s to say what the “right” time is to put your work out there?

Friends can give you ideas of when.

Coaches can help you stay on course.

Writer’s groups can give you feedback.

But in the end . . .

You know when the time is right.

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