Category Archives: Painting

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 When I went to that site I was redirected to I found 250 sheets of 17” x 22” for $225.×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: 2300+ members.

There are some fantastic tutorials written by Jerry Jobe here:
For more explanation on icolorama and download go to

You can find PaperCamera online at:

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:

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

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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The Joy of Painting Disappearing Images

Integral, by Mary Gow, digitally manipulated painting
Integral, by Mary Gow, digitally manipulated painting
Have you heard of the Buddha Board? It’s a board you can use water to paint on a surface that shows your brush work, then the image fades away. (See

This reminds me of Chinese Ink Brush Painting but I don’t need ink nor paper! I’m loving this type of environmentally friendly art! Plus no chemicals!

The image above is one of the dozen or so I painted after opening the box containing the Buddha Board.

I photographed each drawing, and one transformed into another.

The image shown above I then manipulated in Photoshop.

This is a fun process! I encourage you to try it.

The Buddha Board is a perfect way to enjoy the moment

. . . regardless of how the election turned out.

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