Why I Like To Paint

I saw a tree in downtown Honolulu today and I thought to myself, ‘I can paint that tree’.  I could see the main breakdown of its canopies and the shadow areas of dark leaves underneath.  I saw  the sunlit parts of the foliage, and where the sun was reflected off the tree trunk and branches.  To think that there was a time when I didn’t look closely at nature to appreciate it, much less try to draw or paint a tree in 3 dimension!

Painting is Inspirational

To me, painting is very inspirational! It gives me an opportunity to translate the beauty of nature to a canvas.  I am now more aware of the unity, harmony and balance in nature, and the colors, shapes, and forms in the world around me.  I am encouraged to make a personal interpretation in acrylic or oil paint, especially, of what I see in nature in landscapes, seascapes, or anything in God’s beautiful creation. 

Painting is Personal

Painting is also very personal to me. Drawing and painting stirs up the untapped potential that was hidden and latent within me.  It also provides me a time of relaxation and a diversion from my daily routine;  a very different world from my swimming and other weight exercises at the YMCA, or the fun time with friends in my ukulele group.  

My time for art is very private, between me, my canvas, and my paints.  The part that I like best for me is that doing art is unpredictable, and even somewhat mysterious.  Some days the paint mixing goes well; other days the colors don’t seem to want to cooperate.  But still, it is a always a great adventure how things eventually work out.

When I begin a new painting, I always explore and adapt to the medium, and  try new techniques to capture the essence of something.  While the results of my efforts often may seem accidental and pleasing,  there are times when my painting doesn’t turn out the way I had hoped it would.   So then, I just move on to planning another painting.  

Robert William Wood (1889-1979), notable American landscape artist said, 

‘Composing and organizing natural forms into an expression- that is art.’

‘Do not take yourself too seriously, or your painting either, and both will turn out much better.’

Painting for the Joy of Painting

The biggest reason I paint is for enjoyment and for personal satisfaction.  I paint for myself and  I always think of my painting as an expression of myself.  Like I once told a good artist friend, ‘My Art is Me; I am my Art.’  When I first started Art, it was just a hobby.  But now, I see myself as an artist who is able to express myself creatively, and do it with a lot of Joy, and  I also hope that my Art brings Joy to others!


Learning to Paint Trees

The Bible tells us that Almighty God was the Master artist who ‘made every tree to grow that is pleasant to sight’ (Genesis 2:6).  Did you know that when God created the trees He had our pleasure in mind?

Here’s a beautiful poem about TREES  written over a hundred years ago:

From my condo window, walks around my neighborhood, drives through town, bus rides, and visits to a nearby botanical garden, I have been able to discover many varieties of trees and take note of those that have canopies and tree holes.  Simply stated, tree canopies are the sections of branches and leaves of a tree, and tree holes are the sky holes that let birds fly in and out of a tree. Thanks to Dennis and Nolan Clark  of Paint Basket  I learned  how to draw and paint trees in their landscape drawing classes.

Often, my husband graciously listens to my chatter about the colors of the trees and flowers, the colorful trunks of the eucalyptus trees, and cascading flower clusters from the rainbow shower trees.  He waits patiently for me when I want to get out of the car to take photos of trees, or sometimes I just take photos as he slows down in traffic. The fall tree is on the Whitworth University campus where I visited my ‘little artist’ (see 8-24-17 post) now grown  granddaughter, Taylor,  in Spokane, Washington.

In the photos above you can see tree canopies marked to make it easier to draw/paint realistic-looking trees.  One photo shows my other granddaughter Amber sitting between the split trunk of a huge tree she discovered in a remote forested area on Molokai Island, where she did field work for her univerity studies on plant research.  The last photo features my husband sitting under a tree playing his ukulele after dinner at the park.  Having a collection of tree photos provides a way to study how trees grow and to note their different shapes and forms.


Beginning with the Fundamentals of Drawing


How shall I learn to draw?  

Why did I even need to learn how to draw?   Well, I had interest now since I was fully retired.  And there was a time when I did some awesome art though they were copies of art masters.  But the reason the framed paintings still hang on my walls is probably because I was good at copying the work of prominent American artists Leon Franks and Robert Woods.  The teachers I had decades ago knew how to teach their students techniques from the Walter FosterHow to Paint‘ books.    So it was not surprising that when I picked up art again I wasn’t able to draw or paint a picture on my own;  I lacked knowledge of art concepts and principles that would help me become a real artist.

That’s when I stumbled across Paint Basket and I found the Clarks who are not only experienced artists who know their stuff, but had courses and classes that appealed to me.   Other online art teachers made drawing lessons too technical and/or they were somewhat boring,  whereas I thought PB classes were well designed and manageable; the teachers were down to earth and their demonstrations were well done from the beginning of a lesson to the end, which resulted in a finished work by the student.

In the photos above, you see a sphere.  When you learn how to draw circles and can draw and give form to a sphere, there will be many things you can eventually paint.  My husband and I ate a lot of Rainier and Bing cherries as I studied them and learned how to draw and paint them.  Can you tell the cherries sitting on my kitchen counter from the paintings?

If you are not yet drawing and want to see if you would enjoy it, there is a FREE BEGINNERS COURSEGetting Started With Pencil Drawing’ with pencil drawing made easy for anyone who wants to learn how to enrich their lives with art.  There are MANY  free lessons and inexpensive classes to take on Paint Basket.  One free oil painting class is, guess what,How to Paint Cherries’!  Another free class is How to Mix Color’.  I hope you will try these free classes and consider ‘Getting Started With Pencil Drawing.’





From Drawing to Painting!



Painting  was not in my thoughts when I decided to learn how to draw dogs.  Drawing just sounded like something I should try and maybe I might enjoy as a hobby.  After all, I do love animals, especially dogs!  So I got my start in drawing from the Drawing Dogs Course on Paint Basket and as you can see here, some time later I was able to do a painting of Pixie, my older daughter’s Yorkshire terrier.  I decided on a seascape background because in my reference photo Pixie was sitting on sand, with nothing else interesting to speak of (so I thought).  In retrospect, I think I could have done just a simple portrait.  But at the time I knew nothing about pet portraiture until I painted Hoku, my youngest daughter’s Havanese pup who was cute as a button, and now is a handsome adult dog!  The other painting is Malu, my son’s dog, in the park where I last played with her before she passed away.  This was a memorial portrait given to my son.

Back to learning how to draw:  Watching and following the video instruction with Nolan Clark of Paint Basket  proved to be a ‘magical time’ for me.  Imagine from Hawaii I was learning art live produced in New Zealand!  I learned how to use different  graphite pencils and a putty eraser to sculpt a dog on paper, actually a number of dogs,  one eye at a time, one nostril at a time, laying out the fur and whiskers going the right way, giving the dog character and bringing him to life.  

I was bowled over with my first drawing and those that followed, and with my growing confidence, I eventually drew all of the family dogs and more.  Everyone who took the class the same time with me posted their work and we were all elated with our results; some drew their pets, too!  In the following months, the class members were painting their friends’ dogs and some at this date do dog portraits for a commission!

The wonderful part about the time I spent in drawing dogs is that I learned how the same art principles are carried over to other art mediums, such as pen and ink, water color, water color pencils, and pastels, etc.  Drawing establishes a good background for working with other mediums.  Its importance is in training a person to see as an artist, to observe carefully in composing a drawing or painting.  

A drawing in pencil is similar to a black and white or monochromatic painting, or a tonal drawing that can provide the basis for painting in color, e.g. in acrylic and oil paint, my favorite mediums.  Whether drawing or painting, these general concepts and skills are used:  attention to shape, form, intensity and saturation;  value gradation, directional strokes, contrasts in light and dark for blocking in and for highlights, accents, and depicting texture, as well as perspective.  In addition,  in drawing one learns how to develop a foreground, middle ground and background or other effects, such as foreshortening as in the painting of Malu, my son’s dog.

I highly recommend  having a background in drawing fundamentals because it is very likely to make a difference between good art and better art.   

In my next post I will tell you more about how my drawing skills continued to develop after I finished the dog drawing class.  See you then!



Learning to Draw!



 GALLERY OF DOG DRAWINGS-  (Drawn 12-2013 to 1-2014)  Top row: Malu and Kuma , my son’s dogs; Pixie, my oldest daughter’s dog.  Second row: Hoku, my youngest  daughter’s dog and her dog’s siblings;  Third row: Husky pup and wolf  from online free photos.


 With the right teacher, anyone can learn to draw.  But there must be a good match between the teacher and the student.  There are many online art schools and free lance artists, who teach drawing for free or for a fee.   For me, I needed a teacher who was confident and mature to motivate someone like me who had ZERO experience in drawing.  I had not drawn anything in my childhood through my retired years, until recently.  I needed a teacher who was confident in his own talent and ability to teach a beginner to become a good artist.


To me, the highest qualification for an art teacher, besides being an experienced artist, is that he must know how to teach.  There are many gifted artists but many don’t know how to break art down  into simple understandable steps.  This is where Dennis and Nolan Clark of Paint Basket fit the bill for me.  They have good solid experience as teachers operating their own art schools for many years in South Africa,  and now in New Zealand.   They have amazing patience to explain and demonstrate techniques and skills to beginner artists, and are very committed to teaching art to anyone who wants to learn how to draw and paint.


A person can learn anything on Paint Basket since most lessons are geared to the beginner artist.  Maybe most people would choose to start at the ‘beginning’ with a basic drawing course, but I decided to postpone that for later and since I liked dogs and had two of my own, I decided I would try drawing dogs first.  As it turned out, the Dog Drawing Course was a Dec. 2013 Christmas special.  Enthusiasm ran high for Nolan Clark’s new course.  I took it along with a whole lot of folks with whom there was such camaraderie as we learned all about drawing dogs .   Our drawings were shared on the Paint Basket forum, a friendly and non-threatening place, especially for a beginner like me.   I was so excited to learn how to draw!  Besides the dogs that Nolan Clark demonstrated techniques with, I drew family pets which I  later painted pet portraits for my family.  I also drew other dogs and animals, too.  Whether drawing or painting, it’s a good idea to choose a subject that you like so that there will be a good chance of being successful with your efforts! 


A Child Leads the Way

Emily, my youngest granddaughter, liked to look for pictures to draw and my lap top is filled with photos she saved to practice her drawing.  I have some of her early drawings and paintings that show how her art skills were developing.  These two pictures are drawings done with water color pencils.   I bought her a special water brush that has a water reservoir and she liked it a lot.  Emily had confidence for both of us because I while I was still thinking about drawing, she would be finished with what she was doing.

Some of Emily’s art work was posted on the Paint Basket forum.  When she was  11 and a half, she drew this eye which Dennis Clark said ,

‘Absolutely top quality for her age, Emily, you go for it, girl!’  (3 claps)  

Nolan Clark said,

‘Excellent eye under any circumstances, regardless of age.’  (3-3-2013)

Late 2013, I decided that I would learn to draw- if not an eye then maybe at least a dog’s nose.   

Starting in the next post I will prove to you that ANYONE can learn to draw and paint.  You just need to have experienced and patient teachers like Dennis and Nolan Clark of Paint Basket.  They took someone like me who never drew before and taught me how to become an artist!



The Road Back to Art

Emily and Her Younger Cousin Logan Doing Art

I started on the road back to Art after a break of nearly 45 years, with little intention of doing so.  In the photo above, my two youngest grandchildren often needed after school or summer care and had outgrown play dough, crayons and color markers.  At about 10  years old, both knew how to occupy themselves with paint trays, poster paints, and later soft pastels, acrylic paint and other art medium.  They are working at a perfectly good folding Samsonite card table I found standing near our condo trash dumpster.  We also have a fine drawing desk with a lift up lid Emily’s dad found on the curb near their home.

Unbeknown to me, God was leading young Emily and me into a whole new world of Art.  Her mother bought two sets of water color pencils and some friends gave us a whole set of acrylic paints, soft and oil pastels, etc.  We had recycled paper and drawing and painting pads.  Emily and I often drew side by side, but then she went ahead of me.  She enjoyed the soft pastels when I didn’t like chalk dust getting up my nose and everywhere.  I also didn’t like my hands all chalky.  She had patience for water color paints and I didn’t.  Unlike adults, some children seem to have more courage to accept new challenges and are not afraid to make mistakes.

Here is some of Emily’s early work with water color pencils when she was going on 11.  You can see that we did not trace the drawing and I overworked my colors (Emily’s painting of bird of paradise is on the left).  She did the pastel painting which was a copy, and her mom hung it at her office at work.

The other painting is in acrylic of the famous Makapu’u Lighthouse on O’ahu, Hawaii.  After a hike to this lighthouse, Emily painted it from a photo.  The light reflection on the lighthouse and water spouts of 2 whales showed her skill level at 11 years old.  Emily did this acrylic painting all by herself.  This may be a forever journal to catch up with her because she is now a young lady at 16 years old!  More on Emily’s art from May 2014 to the present will follow later on.

Emily’s Paintings and Jewelry Making

Besides drawing and painting, Emily was also crafting jewelry and selling them at a little cafe in Honolulu when she was not yet 12 years old. She also crocheted beanies for the homeless when she was 10, and she participated in school activities. Emily was and still is an honor student; she’s now in high school.  Every grandparent is allowed to boast about their grandchildren, but the point of selecting Emily, my youngest granddaughter is to show the amazing hidden potential God has placed within her.

God has given many of us gifts and talents to celebrate the beauty of His creation and to share with one another.  With God’s help, truly ‘all things are possible’ (Mark 10:27).  When we believe, have faith in God, and pray, He empowers the hidden man in us, by using others and various means to inspire, support and encourage us to do well in whatever we put our hearts and minds to.

How to Be the Best Artist You Can Be

To be the best artist you can be you must absolutely find the right encouragers who will build your confidence and give you the support you need.  If you don’t have the right people to help you along, you will suffer setbacks, disappointments, and feelings of being a failure, any or all of the above.  You need people you can trust to be there for you in order to experience success, whether it’s taking baby steps or big steps on the road to discovering the artist in you.

Five years ago while surfing the web looking for art ideas, young Emily and I found Dennis and Nolan Clark of New Zealand on their wonderful website- paintbasket.com.  They are a father and son team with an online art school and forum of over 20,000 international members, many of whom I have befriended and who also know Emily as a budding child artist.  The Clarks can teach ANYONE how to draw and paint- ANYTHING, and in ALL art medium!  As teachers and mentors they build confidence in budding artists and those wanting to improve their art skills, and their forum is a community of members who are always very affirming, providing positive words of support to one another.

The attitude of building confidence in artists is conveyed by Dennis and Nolan Clark and is evident in the warm community of folks whose sincere desire is to bring out the best in everyone’s creativity as we share our art interests and chat with one another. The Clarks offer 100+ free online classes and many inexpensive tutorials on drawing and painting-birds to lions, still life and flowers, landscapes and seascapes to portraits, etc.  Other links for Paint Basket are http://onlineartlessons.com and ‘Paint Basket Art Lessons’ on Facebook.  More on Paint Basket helping me develop artistic skills will be featured in the coming weeks.

Read about 11 year old Emily’s Lighthouse:

Makapu’u Lighthouse: https://heulu.wordpress.com/2013/04/24/jesus-the-light-of-the-world-emily’s-painting/



The Artist In Us

At the Moana-Surfrider Hotel in Waikiki with Patrick Ching

Patrick Ching is known as Hawaii’s nature artist whose work is popular in Hawaii and around the world.   He has done nature murals for public places like the Salt Lake District Library (Honolulu),  supported community fund raisers for the Waikiki Aquarium, Kilauea Lighthouse, taught art and Hawaiian culture on PBS TV,  held artist retreats and workshops, authored nature books on Hawaiian birds and animals, etc.   I had not seen Patrick for many years and was so happy to see his art show at the Moana-Surfrider Hotel, and then he invited me to join a workshop gratis.

Back over 35 years ago in the 1980s, I gave Patrick, the son of a long-time friend Norma Ching, my stash of paints and art stuff, when he showed a talent for drawing and painting in high school.   It was around the time when my youngest child started preschool when  I was freed from being a stay-at-home mom,  and I could pursue my professional career in education.  I packed up my easel, oil paints, unused canvases, and even gave Patrick my metal art case and brushes.  Then after many years, one day his mother Norma Ching invited me to  Patrick Ching’s art show in Waikiki.

So you could say that I was one of Patrick Ching’s early encouragers and supported his art interests way before he became a well known artist in Hawaii and in the world.   And he would be showing me his techniques in nature painting at his artist retreat in Waimanalo, Oahu after so many years.  I  also gifted him with several bristle brushes when I  finished the workshop…  still encouraging him after all these years.

You can read about Patrick Ching’s interesting life as a naturalist and  artist, and my  testimonial of attending his Aug. 6, 2014 workshop at patrickchingart.com.   You can also check out his mother Norma Ching’s spiritual poems on this site in a book, From the Master’s Heart illustrated with Patrick Ching’s art.

The monk seal painting below was done in a workshop at the Moana-Surfrider Hotel with Patrick Ching.




More On Being An Artist


I want to be an artist, not just an average ordinary artist, but a different and an extraordinary one- the best artist I can be.  We don’t want to be just copycats as my new friend Linley said.   We were all created to be uniquely different from others, especially in our expression of art.

I know that with a desire from the hidden man in my heart, and with God’s help,  I  can do exciting and unique art.  I am confident that I will succeed  because I know that God is with me.  The number 2 encourager then, is myself.  I must have a ‘can do’ attitude all the time.  Even when I look back at my first efforts drawing and painting, which I have kept much of my work, I can say that they have taught me many lessons in what I needed to learn to do better.  With practice I am still developing drawing skills and learning how to mix colors.  Also, I can see that my work is improving.

Probably the most important factor on being an artist is to surround yourself with supporters,  people who will encourage you.   My husband is my biggest encourager.  He calls me a ‘late bloomer’ and a Grandma Moses type, the latter which I don’t like too well.   He buys all of my supplies.  Whatever I need he will pay for and more.     Also, my family and friends encourage me.  

You probably have heard stories of folks who threw in the towel and tossed all their art supplies or gave  them away, and quit art because of someone’s thoughtless remarks or insults of their work.  I won’t even repeat some callous comments that have had a devastating impact upon someone who lost all confidence in being an artist.  

 Don’t let anyone deter you from your desire and determination to be an artist.  Confidence in yourself is the key to your success in your art pursuits.


How to Be the Best Artist You Want To Be!








How can you or I be the best artist we want to be can be answered with two words: Trust God!  God can be our best supporter and encourager because He really cares for us.  If being an artist is what we want to be, then God is more than able to inspire and equip us to achieve our dreams and goals.  He will encourage the creative potential that He birthed in us according to His plan and purpose that He has ordained to enrich our lives, and because we love Him, He promises to give us the desires of our heart (Psa 37:4).  Trusting God means that we rely upon Him for guidance, direction, and wisdom in our lives as we develop the artistic gift from Him that dwells within us (Prov 3:5-6).

Many years ago, I read a book by E.W. Kenyon, The Hidden Man,  which can be related to the visual art of drawing and painting, which is what this blog is about.  Kenyon wrote that our real self is inside of us, our spirit man.  It is the hidden man of the heart or our subconscious mind, our conscience.   Our spirit man is connected to God by His Spirit.  God our Creator, reveals and shares His creative nature with us.  He stirs up a desire in us to be creative.  Love, for example, is a product of our spirit man, not revealed through reasoning, but by our emotions.  It is all about the heart.  Love comes from God who is love;  the love of nature and beauty were placed in the heart of man to respect and appreciate God’s creation and  to give Him glory and praise.  So the hidden man seeks to express his artistic inspirations placed in his heart by God.

Doing art in whatever form we choose should be a natural thing to do.  Among my grandchildren are youthful artists who draw with pen and ink, with or without water color paint; they paint in acrylic and oil, and pastel crayons.  The eldest does T-shirt designs and another has exhibited his art and even painted wall murals.  Art should be freely expressed; an artist’s best critic should be himself and he should be allowed to determine what and how he paints, and where he wants to go with his art.

So if you want to do art, to excel in art, you must tap the hidden man within you, who is connected to the all-powerful Creator of the Universe, and He will bless and surprise you in your journey in doing art, to a measure of satisfaction that you never expected! Phil 4:13 states ‘I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me’, even do Art!  ‘For With God, All Things Are Possible’ Mark10:27,  even Art!