Mixed Media Artist

Welcome to my blog. I hope that in the months to come you will come and visit and check out what I've been working on! Let me know what you think!
Visit my website at: http://www.lenall.com/

Sunday, January 31, 2010

What made me HAPPY WEEK 1

The raccoons in September

The 4 rockettes in September-- and now there is only one "baby"

I decided as a New Year's Resolution, that I would try to be more cognizant of what makes me happy. I feel that I have a lot in my life which makes me happy, but that I find that sometimes there is something inherently missing. I have decided that to dwell on the good might just overcome the not so good. So on Sundays, I will post a list by day of what made me happy. It is my intent to list things daily and keep a draft until the weekend. So here it goes...

Monday: Ok, I know this sounds crazy, but TV made me happy. I watched the first segment of "Emma" (Jane Austen) on Masterpiece Classic. I got a call from a new friend and talked for 2.5 hours. Very interesting!

Tuesday: I wore a new jacket that I bought in market last weekend in the cash and carry area. I had seen them in August at the last show and had thought about them since. Isn't it a great feeling when we have something new that we really like?

Wednesday: Just before I went to work, I looked out the window onto my deck and there were the two raccoons eating bread I had left out there for the birds. I love to watch the birds in the backyard. Have you noticed that it's staying light longer??? Spring is coming. I have been thinking about cleaning up my yard, but it's just too cold. This too will pass!

Thursday: Went out to dinner with an attractive and interesting man. I enjoyed myself a lot and hope he'll call me again.

Friday: While getting the store ready to open today, I ran across a book that must have been put out on Monday night. It is very intriguing to me and it has my name written all over it. "Rhett Butler's People" by Donald McCaig. The jacket says it is the Gone with the Wind story (and more) from Rhett's perspective. I can't wait to start it.

Saturday: I actually made dinner tonight. I also finished the book, "U is for Undertow" by Sue Grafton. It was a good one! Not many letters left. I've been reading this Kinsey Milhone detective series since "A is for Alibi." My friend, Margie, gave me the first one in my late 20's saying that the heroine is kind of like us. I always smile when I think of that.

Sunday: Today I spent the day reading the new book I found on Friday. It was almost decadent--just reading all day... I'm almost done. All three of the cats sat with me at different times during the day. What a life.

So there you have it. My first week!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Why Not?

Two years ago, I was attending a Watercolor of Oregon Critique group monthly. There were a lot of good painters in the group and it was always an education to sit and watch and listen to the commentary of each painting. By that time, I had started to move away from pure watercolor but still considered myself a "Watercolorist" at heart.

If I were asked to pinpoint my tangent from pure Watercolor, I would have to say it came during my first class on my first day at Art and Soul 2004. Mixed Media was for me. I'm straying here....Back to the subject at hand.

I had been feeling somewhat dissatisfied with the commentary I had been receiving on the pieces I brought in. The pieces were more loose and somewhat more abstract than those of the artists around me and it seemed to me that they did not know what to say about them. Abstract is definitely harder to critique. Thankfully, for me, we had a member who was a successful, award-winning painter. He was a very thoughtful and kind critquer and always respectfully waited till everyone else had their say and then he would tell us what he thought. This artist was Gene Gill. http://genegill.com/ During my last critique with the group, Gene did just that with my paintings. He looked at me and simply asked, "Why are you wasting your time? Why don't you just go totally into abstract?"

Good question. Why not? I truly appreciated his advice and that week I called my artist friend, Ruth Armitage, http://www.rutharmitage.com/ and asked her who I might take some classes from. It's odd, but I knew the answer to this question without even asking but it just hadn't come to me yet. She suggested Pat San Soucie. Pat is a wonderful lady and also very talented. She is nationally known for her interesting, textured, creative abstract paintings using pours. http://patsansoucie.com/ During the next 6 months my friend, Sandy Kay and I, met at Pat's home and learned how to pour abstracts. This playing laid the foundation for a new way of painting for me. I spent over a year playing with it and I am thinking about working this way again soon.

I have posted above several painting done during my study with Pat. My paintings don't look at all like hers. I think I took what she taught me techniquewise and made it my own. Thank you Gene for setting me on a new course and thank you Ruth for knowing the right answer to my request for a class. My heartfelt thank you goes to Pat! Thanks for your generosity! I learned a lot from you!

Are YOU High-Tech enough?

In 2006, I had the misfortune of being told I was not being offered a position selling real estate on a team with a new construction Townhome site because I was not “High tech...”

It got me thinking and I thought I’d pass along my thoughts to you. Are You, as an artist, “High Tech” enough? Is it important? Do we have to be? I decided yes to both questions. What do you think?

In 2005, I took the plunge and had my friend, Jill Goodell’s, son, Alex, create a art website for me. www.alexgoodell.com Alex is very creative and well trained and did a very nice job. I have been proudly adding to it ever since. It has become, a chronicle of where I’ve been art wise and where I am going. So far 4216people have visited it. WOW!!! That’s a lot of people. Check it out. www.lenall.com But have I taken advantage of these visits? Probably not.

We as artists need to ensure that our websites are working for us as silent salesman. Ask yourself: Do you have prices, sizes of available art? Have you added paypal as an opportunity to buy now to take advantage of impulse sales? Have you given collectors means to get hold of you---email address and phone numbers? Have you done an Artist Bio? An Artist Statement? Have you got a visitor counter to measure who comes on your site? Can you tell where visitors are coming from? Do you have a space where you tell them where your art is being shown now and in the future? These are just a few questions, but there are so many more questions we need to ask ourselves.

One artist I know, Tracy Roos, has a great website. www.tracyroos.com It is a very personal and professional site. You can easily get lost in it! It’s got it all going on…She is definitely an Art Queen and has been very successful in marketing herself as both an artist and art teacher, not just locally, but internationally. She sells collage sheets, rubber stamps, jewelry and art. Tracy has told me that one-way she gets people to visit her website regularly is through her online “Dare to Dream” journal. People visit regularly to see what’s happening in her life. She has a very loyal fan base. She also has a blog site where she offers up “Artsy Inspirations”—tips, how to’s, etc.

Here are some other great websites that work well for their owners:




I am sure there are many more artists out there who have great web sites.

Blogging might be a great addition to your site. Look at Robert Genn Painter’s Keys Twice weekly newsletter www.painterskeys.com

Remember, when someone buys your art, they are also very interested in knowing about You. You are your art. You are the key to your marketing success. You also have to make it happen! Don't be accused of not being High Tech!

To Mentor, or not to Mentor!

Not long ago, I started to think about mentoring and all that it means to artists.

Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, 2nd Deluxe Editions, defines mentor as "n. [from Mentor, the friend and counselor of Odysseus and Telemachus.] a wise and faithful counselor." In the thesaurus, synonyms like advisor, instructor, tutor, master, and guru appear. Current writers seem to suggest a shift away from this one-way teacher-to-protégé instruction to a power free, two-way, mutually beneficial relationship. Are these two extreme, either or positions correct or, can it be both? I think it can be both.

Awhile back, I had the opportunity to befriend and mentor a wonderful artist who was going though a very tough time in her life. Mentors are often sought out when people are going through some transition. She didn’t ask me to mentor her it just came naturally. Rather than talk about her illness, we talked about her future and how she could change her life into something more meaningful and fun for her. I wasn’t so much the master, I was just a little further along on the journey enough that I could guide her though the path that I had just traveled on. Brainstorming with her about what she wanted to do was exciting. As she got well, she was actually changing her future as we sat and visited. Later she devoted a lot of time and effort into planning and implementing her plans. There came a time when she no longer needed me and our relationship changed. This is a normal course for this type of relationship. I miss our times together but feel proud of her and all that she is doing. It was a very enriching time for us both.

Mentoring relationships can be among the most rewarding interactions you'll have -- if you take full advantage of them. Whether you're interested in mentoring someone or looking for a mentor to help steer your art career in the right direction, these guidelines can help you get and stay connected with the right person.

Tips for Being a Great Mentor

· Encourage Your Protégé to Communicate Openly: If she looks up to you as a formidable authority figure, it may take time for her to open up to you. If after your third or fourth meeting you still feel like your protégé is hesitant about speaking up, try asking her some tough questions to encourage breakthroughs in conversation, such as: “If you could change one thing about your art career or your art, what would it be?”

· Set Firm Guidelines and Expectations from the Beginning: Determine how frequently or infrequently you will meet. Ask the protégé to spell out what she wants from you; you should have a specific idea about what the person hopes to gain from the relationship, and she should know what you are hoping to accomplish. Find out what skills your protégé wants to develop.
· The Primary benefit for the mentor: is satisfaction from fulfilling a role as helper and developer of others and a learning experience for the mentor.
· Provide Clear Performance Measures: This way, your protégé can chart her progress. Follow up with her the next time you meet. Give positive reinforcement, remove doubt and build self-esteem. Motivate.

· Practice Active Listening: This is the hard one for me…don’t dominate the conversation; be an engaged listener and respect what your protégé has to say. A successful mentor’s dominant styles should be: direct, friend/confidant, logical, and questioner.
· Mentoring Is a Serious Business Relationship: If your current workload is overwhelming and you find it difficult to devote time to your protégé, it may be better for you to bow out until a later date. It’s best to meet once a week and face- to- face.

Tips for Being a Great Protégé

· Take a Look Around: Look at gallery members or other artists to identify people whom you admire and would like to emulate.

· Approach Your Potential Mentor: You can't start a mentoring relationship without asking someone to be your mentor. Be very definitive with him about what you hope to accomplish.

· Know what you want from the relationship: What do you hope to gain from this mentoring relationship? Being pleasantly persistent is the only way to develop any good mentoring relationship. As a mentee, you must assume certain re­­sponsibilities to make the relationship work. Do your part and enter into a relationship with the right mind-set. Remember your mentor's time is valuable; don't monopolize it. Be prepared to give something back. Usually mentors expect something in return, but it’s easy to give: respect, loyalty and gratitude. You must be willing to pay your dues. As you are the one looking for guidance, the onus is on you to be proactive.

· Do Your Homework: If your mentor suggests you to do some follow-up work to help you develop your professional skills, do it. There has to be accountability in the mentoring relationship for it to be effective.

· Two "musts" to be a good partner are: listen, and second, implement, act on advice, put things into effect.

Mentoring is a power free, two-way, mutually beneficial learning situations where the mentor provides advice, shares knowledge and experiences, and teaches using a low pressure, self-discovery approach. Mentoring is one of the single most important assets the gallery offers to our members. Every one of us participates in it regularly-- in either a formal or informal manner. It’s a great comfort to know that we have all that talent supporting us along our journey. Being a member of the gallery ensures we don’t walk the path alone! Think about Mentoring as a way to give your art a jump start!!

You can make it Happen!

Do you ever have the feeling that you really want to be in your studio making art, but for some reason, week after week, you just can’t get there?

Does it seem that you constantly make excuses for yourself as to why you aren’t in there? Do the excuses sound lame even to you? I have to …”weed the garden, go to the store, watch TV, vacuum, empty the dishwasher, I’m too tired to do anything…”

Have you ever started to read a book, disinterestedly picking it up for short intervals through the course of a week, two weeks, and then all of a sudden you get to a point where it starts to draw you in ---and then you can’t put it down? You can’t stop reading and you’re staying up till all hours until it is finished? Then after being all consumed, it takes awhile to even start a new book and the process starts all over again.

It’s kinda like that with a painting for me.

Earnest Hemingway once said, “I always worked until I had something done and I always stopped when I knew what was going to happen next. That way I could be sure of going on the next day. ” This makes a lot of sense to me? How about you?

I currently have about 10 or more painting starts sitting in my studio waiting for me. Some of them actually look rather promising. Others are going nowhere fast. I did five of them one night in one energetic sitting. About two weeks later, I returned to two of them, but haven’t touched them since.

What’s going on here?

Is it really just a lack of time? We are pulled many different directions everyday. Do we just need to make art a priority?

Is it lack of discipline? They say that if you make a habit out of doing art every day that you can’t help but be more prolific and that your skills will improve.

Is it lack of focus or commitment? Our minds are full of the days doings, our stress levels is high. It’s hard to get in the zone when you know you only have an hour to play. We don’t want to be so disciplined that we have to actually schedule an hour each day. Perhaps trying it might not be such a bad idea though. It only takes 21 days to make a habit.

Is it lack of confidence? We don’t know what to do next so we don’t do anything. Are we afraid of failing, messing it up? Is it fear of ruining them? It’s only paper after all. They’re not that precious.

What can we do to help us get over this BLOCK? I’d love to hear from all of you as to how you get through these dry periods. I’m sure you have some great ideas.

Here are some of my thoughts:

1. Schedule time each day to so some art. Write it down and keep your appointment with yourself! Even if it is just a 10-15 minute drawing of something in the studio. Try to do it in the studio or where you normally do your work.

2. Don’t allow yourself to make excuses. Commit to yourself—this is important to you. Make it a priority. Stop watching TV or surfing the net and get in there!

3. Leave out everything you are using on your work space so that all you have to do is grab the brush, pastels, pencils, ink and paint and pick up where you left off.

4. Make sure you don’t allow your work surface to become a dumping space. Keep it clear. You don’t want to feel claustrophobic. If you have to clean up or organize each time you’ll never get to the art itself. You can always just keep reorganizing… A mess can also stop you from even beginning.

5. Make the tools you use regularly accessible. Know where they are and put them away in the same spot each time. There’s nothing worse than not being able to find something when you need it. Consider enlisting the help of a professional organizer if you aren’t satisfied with your space.

6. Ensure your space is a place where you are comfortable and that you enjoy being there. Surround yourself with things you love and things that inspire you. Paint the walls your favorite colors and play music that excites or relaxes you.

7. Be like Hemingway and stop at a point where you know what you’re going to do next. That way when you finally get there, you won’t waste anytime getting down to business.

8. If you get to a point where you don’t know what to do next—set the piece up in a place where you pass by it regularly. Look at it, and ask yourself “What if?” Try using clear acetate and experiment painting over areas that are not working.

9. Get a second opinion. Call a friend, join a critique group, ask your husband or wife, or take a regular class where others can help you. Take only those suggestions you like!

Now that I’ve figured out what I need to do to help me get back in there and make it happen-- I just need to do it! Wish me luck!

Friday, January 29, 2010

What keeps us from Creative Growth?

Complacency, satisfaction and the ringing of the cash register are three devils that hinder creative growth. The perpetual student does not stray far from the path of invention and re-invention. That's where real satisfaction lies. That's the real motivation that keeps you at it. "We are created creative," says Maya Angelou, "and can invent new scenarios as frequently as they are needed."

In my mind if I can't play I can't stay...

I used to be more serious about art. It seems during the last few years I've reverted back to childhood. The girl just wants to have fun...

I stopped painting exclusively in Watercolor. Why? Was it because I can't compete with my Watercolor friends? They create wonderful masterpieces recreating pictures in nature that they took themselves. My paintings never really looked real--more unreal, in my mind... It got serious.

Yes, I've been juried into shows and even twice to the Watercolor Society of Oregon. Once a serious painting and the second time a very odd but interesting painting.

I think that maybe I need to go forward doing what I do best. Playing. Playing means change. Playing means no rules. Playing means it doesn't have to be a masterpiece. Playing means "What if?" Playing means anything I want it to mean. Playing encourages growth. I love to dabble in a lot of different media. It is so much more fun. What do you think?

I've added two paintings above that got into a Watercolor Show. What do you think?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Great Advice from Robert Genn

Have a decent ego; cultivate self-esteem and individualism.
Keep an open mind; there's more than one way to do things.
Focus on your processes; that's where the joy comes in.
Be kind; it never hurts to give to others, even praise.
Be innocent; have a childlike--not childish--approach.
Be thankful, even for the smallest of blessings.
Be a perpetual student--be curious and seeking.
Filter your priorities--and don't suffer fools.
Be creative. It's the highest form of life.
Honour and respect time; it's the main gift.
Be optimistic; the opposite holds no charms.
Develop good habits--they will develop you.
Be thrifty--waste not, want not.
Work to please yourself.
Be hard to please.

Just in case you don't follow his free twice weekly Painter's Keys letters email, you might want to check it out! I have been a subscriber for 8 years and 95% of the time I find something that ressonates. Life is all about learning!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Good things (and people) always come back to you!

It's been three years since I last got together with my old watercolor art group. We used to meet weekly at the home of our teacher, Linda Aman. It was a great group of friends and a feel good environment. I always looked forward to going and I always came away with learning something. After I started working for the builder and driving to Salem everyday, it just got to be a bit difficult to get places after work. It was a really hard decision to make, but in the end, I had to forgoe going. I really missed the people. I basically stopped painting in pure watercolor. I also stopped attending WSO (Watercolor Society of Oregon)conventions. It seemed like I'd left a big part of my life behind.

In October, I attended the art show of my friend, Carol Putnam, who I always sat next to on Tuesday nights. She invited me to attend their casual painting get togethers that they have started holding since Linda Aman moved to Idaho. I finally went this past Tuesday and it was almost as if I had never left. It was great getting caught up with four original members who were there, Sarah Wright, Kate Nilan, Carol Putnam and Carol Levy. There were also two newer members to the group, Brandy and Vickie. Both are WSO members also. It was held at the beautiful Mercedes Dealership in Wilsonville. They have a very nice conference room which accommodated the group well! Thank you, Brandy, for allowing us to meet there! It was a great night! It also felt good to be out of the house! My only New Year's Resolution this year is to work on and nurture my relationships with my girlfriends. This was a great step toward that!

I didn't paint that night. Instead I worked on making cork danglies for Valentine's Day. I finished 8 last night. Of course, I had to incorporate a yo-yo in there and I like how they turned out!


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

New Classes at the Village Gallery of Arts

I am teaching 3 classes in February/March at the VGA! Check them out! These classes are specially priced to encourage you to start taking classes again! They are extremely affordable and all the art supplies are provided by me!!

Mixed Media Madness
This class is targeted toward people who are interested in loosening up, getting free of rules for a day by working with a motherboard (a large piece of paper) and adding layers upon layer using different types of media--watercolor, acrylic, watersoluable crayons, waterproof ink, oil based inks, twinkling h2O's, colored pencil and using stamps, stencils collage to create. It's also a great way to try out new art supplies before you invest the money! When finished with the motherboard ,you'll be surprised how beautiful your piece is and amazed at it's endless uses! We will crop the paper and use it to make different items: cards, covered books, individual small and medium paintings, as collage elements, as a base for a pen and ink drawing or an abstract piece. You decide! The possibilities are endless!
All materials provided.
Sat., March 6th 10-1 $40.00

Felted Soap
Learn how to felt soap using a plethora of different types and colors of wool roving which will be provided. Bring several bars of your favorite bath soap, a nylon stocking, a container to hold hot water and a towel.
Sat., Feb 20th, 10 - 12 $30.00

Funky Felted Pins
Learn how to make felted pins using a plethora of types and colors of wool roving and felted wool. You'll come away with a lot of great ideas and several pins. All materials provided.
Sat., March 6th, 12:30 - 3:30 $40.00

Call the Village Gallery of Arts a Mon - Sat 10-4, Sun 12-4 503-644-8001
12525 NW Cornell Road, Portland, OR 97229

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Paste Paper Composition Books

Last May, I made paste paper for the first time, at Menucha with the Portland Art Collective. Suzie Wolfer was kind enough to bring Paste Paper as a project and showed anyone who wanted how to do it. As always, I became obsessed with it and practically made it till all the paint was gone--mine and everyone else's!

This weekend, I reacquainted myself with the sheets I made and decided to cover Composition Books with them for the store. I have been making painted or covered Composition Books for myself for at least 9 years. I use them for my list of things to do and to jot down ideas and thoughts. At first I began using them just for myself and then them as gifts. I began selling them a couple years later. Every year, I have made a different style, usually using a new technique that I have learned that year. Above are scans of the book covers...


Saturday, January 9, 2010

It's January 2010 and it's a time to begin!

I have been blogging almost a year now with my art group, the Portland Art Collective. I've totally enjoyed the experience, so much so that I decided it is time to start my own blog. So I'm off!

Since the Open Doors Show, in December, I have been doing a lot less art. The past 2 weeks I have been trying to get a jump start on my creativity by spending a couple days in my garage studio. As always, I have to pick it up, clean it up and organize it to enable myself to feel comfortable being there.

I work for a non-profit, The Friends of the Multnomah County Library as the Store Manager and Buyer for the store in the Central Branch of the Library. In December, the Executive Board voted unanimously to allow me to sell my art in the store. I was thrilled! The next day my cards were on the racks! So in 2 weeks, I sold 45 items and feel really great that I could be successful for them! This will keep me making original cards year round.

Today I made 2 new kinds of Valentines.
Time flies when you're having fun and as my Mom used to say, and even when you're not!