The Old Tree

8 Oct
Abstract watercolor painting of old tree

I’m happy to share that the Central New York Watercolor Society Juried Show is now online for viewing.

I have one watercolor, titled “The Old Tree”, in the show.  The framed size is 30”x23”.  You can also view my painting on my website

The link to the entire show with all of the art here:…

“The Old Tree” statement:

At first I was mesmerized by the abstract lines, colors and shapes in this deteriorating old tree.  Then, thoughts of being solidly anchored, deep rooted, yet accepting the nature of the end cycles of life came to mind.  There is a beauty that reveals itself in the process and it’s easy to overlook.

– Katie

Sao Paulo Street Art

10 Sep

Recently, I decided to research Sao Paulo Street Art.

Sao Paulo actually means Saint Paul in Portuguese and is the largest city in Brazil.  It is not the capital though.  Brasilia is the capital.  It was founded by Jesuit missionaries in 1554 whose mission was to convert the Guianas natives to Catholicism.  After that, many explorers, gold prospectors and enslavers arrived, pillaging the land, people and missions.  Gold mines and sugar and coffee plantations rose up.  Brazil became independent in 1822.  Many immigrants arrived to the country.  Slavery wasn’t outlawed until 1888.  Today it is a diverse multicultural city that is newly discovering itself culturally and artistically.  It is considered to be cutting edge of art and literature and home to many intellectual & creative people. 

Sao Paulo Street Art

Sao Paulo has many spots to view urban artwork.  Sometimes the street art is used as backdrops for music and fashion photo shoots.

Villa Madalena is a trendy bohemian district that makes it easy to do your own walking tour.

Beco de Batman (Batman Alley) is a long thin winding alley with lots of street art.

Beco de Batman, a popular spot to view street art.

Bambuci is a south-eastern neighborhood and the birthplace of two of Sao Paulos most famous street artists Gustavo and Otavio Pandolfo (The Twins)  These brothers have been painting since 1987.   Some of their work now appears in galleries.  There are many other artists, including CIRO, Patapios, Kobra, and many others.

The street art originated in the 1970s as a vehicle to communicate political views by students, artists and intellectuals in the poor Paulistano neighborhood of Madalena.  These artists were in direct defiance of the government.

Today Vila Madalena is one of Sao Paulos most sought after, trendy neighborhoods.  Everyone wants to live there.  The street artists have made a name for themselves through their vibrant artistic statements.

To view more street art of Sao Paulo, go to:   (

For more reading:

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Free Inspiration with Virtual Tours

6 Aug

Summer Flowers at 1200 with logo

“Summer Flowers” Watercolor on Rice Paper by Katie Turner

The past few months have been challenging for all of us.  Even professionals like writers or artists, who are solitary workers by nature, are finding it difficult.  Of course, being confined to your studio due to a pandemic is different from being there because you actually want to be.

Some of us were able to enjoy a frenzied production time and some of us struggled with the anxiety draining our creativity.  Where ever you are right now, you can always find inspiration by enjoying other artists work.  Viewing art can inspire creativity.  It can give you a new ideas; such as a different color palette or a new idea on how to define a particular shape.  Looking at art can be a great way to refresh yourself.  Here is a list of online resources that are now providing free virtual tours.


The Louvre

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

The National Gallery of Art

The British Museum

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Dali Theatre-Museum


The Vatican Museums

The National Women’s History Museum

The National Museum of the United States Air Force


Another resource I came across was Google Arts and Culture.   Google partnered with over 1200 cultural institutions from around the world to document art and provide virtual tours using their famous Google Street View technology.

You can view art at the White House, Museum of Islamic Art in Qatar, Sao Paulo street art in Brazil and more.  (  Google even has unique ways to help you learn about art with art puzzles, art coloring book and crossword puzzles.  It’s called Google Arts & Culture Experiments. Here is the link:


I hope you can take some time to check out some of these free tours and be inspired!


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Marvelous Mess

15 Jul

Mess and clutter are two words that have fallen out of favor for Americans.  Popular shows on hoarding, storage and reducing mess continue to fan the flames of organizational dreams.  Clutter control is great for Americans but how does this work for the creative person?

I used to think that if my creative area was tidy, that it would free me up to be more efficient and eventually produce more art.  It’s true that creating art does take space and for painting larger paintings, I appreciate having a large clear space.  But there are times that the mess feels more comfortable.  I’ve also noticed that if I’m struggling to come up with a unique and dynamic design for my paintings having interesting things out and about my studio can sometimes help.  Am I fooling myself?  Do I need a crash course in KonMari Cleaning or am I on to something?

After reading Kathleen Vohs study (University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management) I learned that a cluttered area can help increase creativity AND efficiency!  I couldn’t believe it!  Was this actually true?

 Vohs says: “Being in a messy room led to something that firms, industries and societies want more of: Creativity.  Disorderly environments seem to inspire breaking free of tradition, which can produce fresh insights.  Orderly environments, in contrast, encourage convention and playing it safe.”

As an artist I need more fresh insight.  This kind of creativity can give my art that extra pop– just what it needs.  Can I reject the societal pressure to minimalistic straight-laced order and embrace my own style of unstructured, chaotic order?

After thinking about it for a while, I figured that even when it looks messy, there are some forms of organization that do appear.  For example, I store all of my colored pencils, PITT pens, Charcoal sets, and watercolor crayons in one drawer.  The contents of the drawer are messy but still my favorite pencils are at the top of the drawer.  I know where to find them when I need them.

Another way I do this is to stack my paintings in a certain order, using giant sheets of cardboard or foam core to separate them.  I keep them in groups of 10 – one bunch is waiting to be framed, another group in near completion but I am holding them for a short period of time to see if they truly are “ready” – I may do just a little bit more work on them.  Another bunch of paintings are partially completed and need a very large dose of TLC before I can go any further.   This is my messy way of organizing.

Contrary to the popular minimalism ideals, embracing the mess can help the creative person’s mind come up with new ideas and increase creativity.  Seeing items out of place, books piled around, art supplies sitting at the ready – it’s all so inviting to me.  I’m comfortable and I love it.  Although I still believe each person has their own level of mess which they can tolerate – the perfect place of inspiration for them.

Have you found your perfect level of organizational balance?  I’d love it if you share with me.

APS Article:

Marvelous Mess picture 2

Courage to Create

28 May

What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?  These words of Vincent VanGogh ran through my mind as I read about Zarina Hashmi last week.

Zarina Hashmi was an American artist who went by only her first name, Zarina.  She recently passed away in April from Alzheimers.  Born in India, she used Islamic type decoration as visual elements in her art.  Her geometic style is similar to the minimalist style of the 1970s.

According to Gallery Espace in New Delhi, India, Zarina has a unique “ability to distil emotion down to its most essential and expressive forms.”   To view some of her artwork at Gallery Espace, click here: She has many pieces from a 2007 show that are unique paper cast sculptures.

After doing a lot of travel, she began incorporating maps into her art work.  She expanded her ideas to include topographical details of cities that had been altered by political turmoil, such as India, NY, Baghdad, Kabul, and others.

MoMA has 43 Zarina works online that you can view on their website.    She has a lot of interesting art but her prints are what interest me the most.  In an interview with editors of the 1970 issue of Vrishchik, she states that she didn’t have a lot of space or money when she first moved to NYC, so she devised her own paper casting mold by drilling holes in plastic.

In 1980 she was invited to co-curate an exhibition and design the catalog for the A.I.R. Gallery in NYC but they didn’t want her to show in it because of her race.  They just wanted her to do the work of curating and making the catalog.  In the end, things worked out and she did end up participating.

Zarina created many woodcut prints as well as her own paper, sculpture, drawing and often paired writing or words printed in Urdu, her native language from India.  She taught in several universities, NY-FAI, NYU and Cornell.  Her work was important to the art world because she explored home, displacement, and memory in a profound way through her prints.

Courtney Stewart with the Met Museum Research Department of Islamic Art questioned Zarina about the role of an artist in society.

“I think we are witnesses to the times we are living in.” stated Zarina.  She went on to explain how she saw Aligarh, her hometown, divided by a politically drawn line separated into India and Pakistan.  1947 was a tragic time where she saw villages burning with the British partition.

When asked “What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?”, she said “Keep on working.  Just keep on working.  You will find a language for yourself.”

She reminisced “Everybody can draw, you know – skills don’t make art.  That is the least important part.  I’ve been a teacher for 25 years in this country, so I can teach the skills.  Ideas make art.  There are lots of people who can’t draw but they can make big art – great art, because it comes from ideas.  You can teach skills but you can’t teach ideas.”

Despite her not attending art school she had a long and successful art career.  The Jeanne Bucher Jaeger Gallery in Paris, writes that Zarina became more and more convinced that a superior force guided her life.  In accepting this light, she began using gold leaf the past few years, as she considered her artistic voyage as more of a universal spiritual destination.

To read Zarina’s biography, go to or the artist’s official website at

Video: Zarina YouTube Video by Tate


The 9th Street Women

27 Apr

Hard cover book "The 9th street women"

The 9th Street Women by Mary Gabriel

The 9th Street Women is a book about the New York City art scene from 1930 through 1950s written by author Mary Gabriel.  The book covers five influential women who helped to revolutionize the modern art world: Lee Krasner, Elaine DeKooning, Grace Hartigan, Joan Mitchell and Helen Frankenthaler.

This book is long at 944 pages but it kept my interest the whole time.  I was impressed with the way Gabriel developed the characters into memorable artists weaving history into the stories.  I was able to see how these artists impacted the art world.

Each woman played a role in the new art movement.  They challenged the traditional roles of women, questioning what society was telling.  They challenged the male dominated art scene of New York and in their own personal lives.

Elaine DeKooning boldly rejected the housewife role to take up her brushes with a more fulfilling role to her as an artist.  There were even times when other women discouraged her, yet she ignored their criticism to pursue her art career.

The book does a great job setting the stage with American history and gives the reader both historical and artistic reference.  I liked that Gabriel took time to point out the men who supported these women throughout their various challenges.

I find it inspiring that these women set aside discouragement and negativity to exercise their talents by pushing forward with their art.  They didn’t do it for fame or fortune but to become the best artist they possibly could be.  This book reminded me that we all have talents and need to continue to use them and develop them regardless of who acknowledges or approves.

Reading about how the women networked, strategized, and developed their art made it clear to me how challenging it must have been for them and how brave they were to push ahead with their art.  Although women still have a lot of challenges in the art industry we can draw encouragement from these 9th street women.

Have you felt challenged to give up your art?  Have you overcome artistic discouragement?  Please share!

Gold Leaf & Spirit Art

13 Mar

Delita Martin, a printmaker from Texas, inspired me with her rich patterns and deep colored paintings.  Martin uses reference photos from models and creates what she calls “spirit women” that are artistic composites in her work.

In a recent article by Lyric Prince (  she explains that her figures have identities and attitudes that could be anyone’s. “They are us, they are all of us.”, she states.

Martin’s solo exhibition is at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, “Calling down the Spirits”, located in Washington, D.C.  (  through April 19, 2020.   To read her artist statement or watch a short video interview, click here: or obsidianlit project  Her website:

Her techniques were very interesting to me, particularly with how she combined gelatin prints, acrylic, fabric and hand stitching heavyweight papers, layering them upon each other.  The pieces have the feel of a quilt and also of a print at the same time.  The dark blues are present throughout several of her pieces which I like very much, along with circular patterns and stitching that helps unify the pieces.  Her use of gold leaf reminds me a little of Gustav Klimt yet it’s not overwhelming and feels just right.

She makes connections of spiritual and social movements from the past and into today’s world with her distinctive art providing a sacred connection.  When I look at the patterns, shapes and figures, I contemplate the influences, attitudes, and thoughts of these people.  I think of the colorful layers to a person’s life, and consider what influences have helped to build the patterns of their life.  Then I ponder what kinds of patterns dominate mine…  Have you thought about patterns in your own life and art?  Please share with me your insight.


Modern Art Pioneer

18 Feb

I was asked about a pioneer who I admire and immediately thought of Edgar Whitney.  I felt he was a modern art pioneer because of how he shared his great talent through teaching.  Many of his students went on to become great painters and teachers, influencing modern watercolor painting in a positive way.

Edgar Whitney was born 1891 and died 1987.  He worked 25 years in Commercial Art, then 5 years as an Art Director before becoming a full time artist and teacher.  The American Watercolor Society lists him as a Master Watercolorist and has an annual award in his honor.  His dedication to American Watercolor greatly influenced our modern day art.

“There are only 2 things that matter in life – your friends and your art.  Everything else is worthless.”  ~ Edgar Whitney

How did I come across Edgar Whitney, my friend asked.  I was interested in finding an artist that painted in a similar way to my mother.  When I came across Whitney’s art, I knew this was it.  His paintings were what I was really looking for – very impressionistic and loose with lots of movement, spontaneity and texture.

Since he was no longer alive, I realized the only way I could learn from him was to learn from his students.  I spent about 10 months researching who his students were and even located some classes from them.  Some of his students were Cheng Khee Chee, Barbara Nechis, Tony Couch, Frank Webb, and of course there are many, many more.

I realized I could learn a lot from his books and for the next five years I dove into studying and practicing his way of painting.  Every class that came up with any of his famous students, I attended.

“No door is closed to a stubborn scholar.” ~ Edgar Whitney

I admire the way he was able to share his style and technique and had some students who went on to become famous painters and teachers.  From what I heard, he had a tendency to push his students and he was quite an interesting character.

“You have chosen to spend your time and money on esthetics.  Others can cheat you, a craft cannot.  It’s the only area in life where you get back what you’ve put in.”  ~Edgar Whitney.

Who do you admire as a pioneer?  What pioneer qualities do you possess or desire?  I’d love to hear some comments.


Portraits in Play-Doh

27 Jan


Eleanor MacNair is a London Photographer who has developed a unique and interesting style where she shoots photographs rendered in Play-Doh.

MacNair keeps her tools amateur with off-the-shelf Play-Doh, a wine bottle as a rolling pin, water, knife and a few other simple items.  She explains that for a child’s material, Play-Doh is difficult to work with, since it dries, cracks, shows imperfections and she finds she must work quickly.  She also likes that it is possible for anyone to use it and create something similar.

MacNair’s process includes time to research and discover photographs that appeal to her, then after studying them, render them in Play-Doh.  Next, she shoots her own picture of the Play-Doh scene.  She is not interested in copying the original photograph but recreates her version as a tribute to the original.  She seeks out interesting parts of the original photograph to focus on.  Then once she has her own photograph of the creation, she takes it apart and uses the materials for the next one.

MacNair works full time in PR but has been pleasantly surprised by her Play-Doh project turning into much more than she imagined.  Her recent commissions include CULTURED, Cosmopolitan UK and Vogue Bambini.  You can follow her creations on Instagram or Tumblr.   You can check out her website


On Drawing and Painting

13 Dec

In the wintertime I paint almost exclusively in the studio.  Here I can paint from drawings or pictures I took as reference during the summer months or use my imagination.  Now is the time I can interpret any scenes that interest me while also making note of the words I may have jotted down on the corners of my sketches.  “Stippled sky” or “Mottled grass” give me clues to the scene in my art journals.  Although some items need to be more carefully rendered –  most other times details can be left to the imagination.

I try to think of drawing as exercise and fact-finding while painting for me is more explorative and experimental.  When I develop a picture I prefer to emphasize the abstract and textural qualities of the object.

Truth be told, I am hooked on watercolor with its fluidity and transparency.  I delight in wet-into-wet process but have also found that in order to paint more abstractly, I must experiment.  So I stipple and blot, crinkle and scratch until the surface reveals the look I’m seeking.  There is no sacred part but I always try to keep in mind the initial idea that prompted me to sketch or paint at first.

Wintertime can be a fabulous time of exploration and adventure!