Art Street!


This is an art event that I just attended in Sacramento, CA and it will only last another few days through February 25, 2017. I love the concept – it’s an old warehouse building scheduled to be demolished (along with all the art that was created in, around and on it). M5Arts are the artists behind the project. They did the Art Hotel last year, which was also later torn down after that event. Art Street has about 65,000 square feet of space in which 100 artists and performers have turned into a unique art experience. And it’s free to the public! Art installations are hanging, sculpted, lighted, painted on walls and interactive with audio effects. Some need the viewer to actually engage with the art to experience it. There is even a giant kaleidoscope! My words can’t express as much as the pictures, so I will let them tell the story. After all, a picture’s worth a thousand words! But… to get the full experience, you will need to do that yourself in person and it will all be demolished soon!

The location is 300 1st Ave., Sacramento, CA  95818

The hours are M-F 3pm-9pm & S/S 11am-9pm


Outside murals


Finishing touches… mural on outside of Art Street building


My favorite installation – I loved this! By Francesca Gamez & Shaun Burner


By Bryan Valenzuela


Light art by Robert Emerick & Rene Steinke


By Jared Tharp


Oil painting by Jeff Muser


Masking tape art installation with under lighting


Graffiti art by Hot Carl & PIER


Wall mural by Miles Toland


Hanging installation by Bailey Anderson


Cyanotype by Melissa Uroff


Cyanotypes by Melissa Uroff


By Waylon Horner


Installation by Lin Fei Fei


Wall mural by Jose Di Gregorio


Hanging geometric sculpture by Jose Di Gregorio


Collage wall of found objects by Nathan Cordero


Signs from Sacramento Women’s March To be archived in California State Library, SF. (Of course I had to pose with my hoodie!)

Let’s create a Butterfly Effect on January 21st

Paper art butterflies

Butterflies made from maps, greeting cards, wrapping paper and painted watercolor paper.

Whenever I feel unsettled or need to express myself, I turn to my art. As an art therapist I know how healing art can be and it is usually the best way for me to express my feelings. Since the US presidential election I have felt numb and uneasy, as have many people I know. I am feeling a strong need to work this out through my art in some way and to involve others in the process; to unify our voices. So I am inviting everyone to help me create a “Butterfly Effect” on January 21, 2017 (one week from now corresponding with the Women’s March in Washington DC). The Butterfly Effect is the premise that the small fluttering whisper of a butterfly’s wings can create dramatic change halfway around the world by causing a roaring typhoon or hurricane. In theory it suggests that a very small change can have a huge impact.

Decorated art butterfly

Decorated wrapping paper butterfly with glitter glue outlines

Since a butterfly often symbolizes hope, healing and transition it is a perfect metaphor to use in a massive art installation. I am proposing that as many people as possible take part and make our voices heard – messages of hope, unity, kindness, peace and support. My idea is for each person to make a butterfly with a message and hang it on a tree or bush at one of the Women’s Marches around the country held on January 21, 2017. Anyone around the world is invited to do the same on that day joining in unity and peace. Imagine for a moment thousands of butterflies appearing in public, each with a personal message of hope, peace and unity. All our single voices (the flap of a butterfly’s wings) coming together to create a roar across the country (or world). Our voices may inspire those who sit in silence and it is a peaceful way to express our thoughts and feelings. Who wouldn’t take notice at the sight of thousands of beautiful butterflies?

Steps to make a watercolor butterfly:

The butterfly is simple to make and can be done by most any age 4 years or older (refer to photo for samples). It takes no more than 30-45 minutes to make. Using a marker or pencil, trace a butterfly outline (Google “butterfly outlines”) onto any kind of paper (see ideas below). Make the butterfly a little bigger than the size of your palm, approximately 4-5 inches wingspan. I traced mine right on top of my iPad. The light lets the image show through the paper. Cut out with scissors, then decorate with glitter glue, collage, paint, sequins or whatever your like. Use your creativity and imagination! I painted some on watercolor paper. I used the glitter glue to make the veins in the wings (see sample). You can draw a dark body in the middle of the wings or use a small piece of ribbon (like in the photo) or pipe cleaner instead. For hanging attach a string loop through the center and secure with a bead or knot underneath so it doesn’t pull through. Another option would be to attach it with hot glue to a small spring hair clip to clip onto a branch. Finally, write your message on the underside of the wings and add your first name or leave anonymous. To give some dimension, the wings may be slightly curled with your fingers. Take your butterfly to hang at a March location, or give it to someone who is going. Alternatively hang it in a park or public area in your community.

I would love to see trees of colorful butterflies at the Women’s March. Let’s make our single voices roar together and create a Butterfly Effect to be remembered and inspire hope again! If you send me photos of your butterflies and messages I will do my best to post them.

Ideas for paper to use for butterflies:
Wrapping paper
Old greeting cards
Old maps
Calendar photos
Page of an old book
Love letter
Painted watercolor paper
Comic strips
Recycled paper
Construction paper
Child’s scribble drawing
Starched fabric
Magazine page
Origami paper
Handmade paper
Any colorful or interesting paper to decorate!

If you like this idea please share with as many people on social media or organize a group of friends to make them.  I can’t wait to see your creations!

The Sketchbook Project and My Suzie Q


The Art House in Williamsburg, NY has a unique ongoing creative project called the Sketchbook Project where artists create sketchbooks that are housed in their Art Library. Thus far they have over 35,000 sketchbooks from over 135 countries for visitors to checkout & view. It began in 2006 and claims to have the largest permanent collection of sketchbooks in the world. It’s a great opportunity for artists to share their art with the public. The books all have a theme, which are randomly assigned to the artists that participate. Visitors check out and view the books on site, but can look at as many as they want.

The books are also available through a traveling library where the Art House packs up a large selection of sketchbooks and travels to cities around the US in pop-up libraries. It functions as part gallery and part library. You can go to their site to see where the next event is or to participate in the next sketchbook event. It doesn’t matter if you are an amateur or professional and the creator can “draw, write, collage, cut, print or photograph.”

You can get instructions on how to add a sketchbook to the collection by going to You can sign up for the current project until Jan. 17, 2017 and the deadline to send in the completed book is Feb. 14, 2017. The cost of the sketchbook and to participate is $25. Some of the current themes are, “A story worth telling,” “Guidebook to the past,” “Essentials,” “Half and half,” or “Clasp my hand.” To see a video of the project click here. The Art House also offers other art challenges such as a “Portrait Swap” or a “Print Exchange”.



Two images from other “Friends of Friends of Friends” sketchbooks










I participated in the Sketchbook Project several years ago and was assigned the theme “Friends of Friends of Friends.” Many of the topics are humorous and a bit obscure, but that allows for many interpretations. It was fun to create the sketchbook, but I underestimated the time it would take to fill the 80 pages. As a watercolor artist I realized the pages would warp even if I only did one side. I could have glued in watercolor paper, but it would have made the book very thick and I wanted to avoid that. Although, once I saw the book collection at an event I learned many artists did exactly that. They added fabric and collage, fold out pages, cut up pages, removed pages, etc. Just about anything goes as long as the book can fit on the shelf.

So I decided it would be easier to use colored pencil, but that actually took longer than painting. I had to give thought on how to interpret the theme and fill all those pages. I decided to loosely link myself as a ‘friend’ to all my pets I’ve had and then link them to their ‘friends’ and then to the world at large. So it went from a very personal view to a more global view. In the end I began to have a hard time finding 80 (or 40) ways to tie it all together. I used the balance of the pages to make cut out paper dolls holding hands that encircled the earth.  It was the best answer for the fast approaching deadline. The result was a fun collection of my pets and a view of my relationship to the world via friendship links. The project was a good stretch of my creativity, problem solving and imagination!  Below are a few of the pages:

1-butterfly      2-me

13-tire-swing       14-clouds

18-earth-people       19-earth-people



That was over 5 years ago now, but the reason this project comes to mind was because I was notified that someone checked out my book. I had actually forgotten about the project and now as I recall the theme it brings a smile to my heart which replaces my tears of grief. You see, one of the first ‘friends’ drawn in my sketchbook was my beloved dog “Suzie Q” to whom I recently had to say good bye. She was a rescue from the shelter, a mix of Chow and Great Pyrenees. I got her when she was about 8 months old and she lived a good long life of 16 1/2 years. She was a beautiful fluffy golden white color, very sweet, but shy. Sadly there is never enough time with a beloved pet. I miss her terribly and have so many fond memories of her. She was with me through some tough times and brought a lot of joy to my life. She often looked like she was smiling with her mouth open and her spotted tongue hanging out. Below is the image I used of her in the sketchbook. I was able to get her to pose with the book before I sent it off to Art House. I love that photo of her sitting with her portrait. As I think of all the fond memories and feel the hole in my heart I am grateful that she is memorialized in my Sketchbook with my many other ‘friends’ before her…and on this Thanksgiving eve I am thankful she was in my life.

4-suzie                                 Suzie Q smiling.jpg



Tips on making the most of an Open Studio Tour visit

Studio tour

Welcome to my studio!

More and more cities are hosting Open Studio Tours showcasing local artists and their studios. This kind of event is where artists open their studios to the public to participate in a self-guided tour and offer a peek into the world of the arts. Sacramento’s Open Studio tour is celebrating its 10th year with over 130 artists participating on the 2nd and 3rd weekend of September. The artists are divided into two weekends. This will be my 9th year participating (somehow I missed the first year), so I thought it would be helpful to suggest some tips for studio guests and patrons while on the tour.

Studio Tours are a great way for artists and guests to connect and share their passion for art. Most artists work in an isolated studio, so it’s helpful to get feedback from patrons and hear responses about our work. It’s also a good way for guests to learn more about the art process and what is involved with creating an art piece from start to finish. I’ve learned that for many guests the creative process is often a mystery. Many artists demonstrate their media and skills, so it can be fun to watch and see how that takes place. Sometimes guests feel intimidated or nervous to engage with an artist, but I will let you in on a secret… frequently artists are anxious as well. A lot of artists tend to be more introverted, so they will usually welcome your comments and questions. Most of us put our heart and soul into our art, so it takes some courage to show others what we have created. We risk ridicule and some of us wear our hearts on our sleeve, thus constructive and thoughtful comments are always appreciated. Children are usually welcome as long as they understand not to touch things unless invited to do so. Many studios have toxic or hazardous materials and some fragile art. I enjoy having children in my studio. They are very inquisitive and bring some refreshing enthusiasm.

…be afraid to ask a ‘stupid’ question (remember there aren’t any!) It’s fun to learn more about art and the process.
… rush or fit in too many studios! Make it enjoyable and don’t burn yourself out! At minimum allow at least half an hour per studio and 15 min. travel time in between, and then adjust the time as needed. (So if there are 7 hours and you allowed 1 hour for lunch that leaves time for about 8 studios and travel time). Remember there are two days, so it’s possible to see a total of 16 studios in one weekend.

…ask questions and engage with the artist. You will probably enjoy the tour more! (See below for ideas).
… be kind with comments. If you like the art, be sure to let the artist know. If you don’t, no comment is fine, but use the opportunity to learn more about the art and artist.
…watch children so they don’t get into materials and supplies or touch art work. Some materials are hazardous and art may be fragile.
…pace yourself so you can really observe, explore and discover. Take in everything slowly or you may miss something amazing – it’s not a race! Respect that most artists put in many hours of work to prepare for the tour and are proud of their art.
…preview the art before the tour, if available. Most tours have a location with a sample of each artist’s work for visitors to view before going to the studio. This will give you a better idea on how to plan your tour. (Sacramento’s tour has a preview exhibit at Verge Art Center).
…get a catalog/guide/map ahead of time and plan where you want to go. Many tours have free catalogues. Mark your guide with your selections. This will save time and make things go more smoothly. Plan a route that conserves time and gas. (Sacramento has guides available at a variety of public spaces around town and at Verge Art Center. Most artists have a supply too.)
…allow time for food/snacks and the restrooms. Bring water or snacks with you. Some artists may have these things available, but don’t depend on it.
…make the most of your time and select studios hosted by groups of artists at one location.
…get on the mailing list if you like the artist’s work. Most artists only send emails when they have a show and you can always opt out if you change your mind. You will be the first to learn of new art!
…see a variety of art and media. Visit a studio that is unique, unfamiliar or uses an unknown medium.
…mark your guide with comments about the studios you saw and which ones you liked. Most artists are happy to make studio appointments after the tour.
…purchase art that you love…not to match your couch! (More on purchasing art in another post).
…have fun!!!

Questions to ask the artist:
What was your inspiration?
Is this piece part of a series?
What special techniques or training do you use/have?
What is your favorite subject to create/paint and how did you choose it?
Which art piece is your favorite?
What is the story or meaning behind this piece?
How did you choose this medium to use?
Would you do a demonstration for us?
Do you offer classes?
What is your favorite part of the creative process?

AvoidHow long did it take you to make this?
This is the most frequently asked question an artist hears! It is usually asked out of curiosity, but it often puts an artist in an awkward position. Typically, aside from the actual creation of the art, there are years of training, experimenting, honing skills, hours of preparing drafts or prototypes, and time for creative thinking. Most artists don’t keep track of the time because we love what we do. Generally there are many more hours in a piece than an artist is ever compensated for. Conversely, if an artist has lots of experience, the art may take little time and appear easy to create. In the case of art, time and effort don’t always commensurate worth. Value is often determined by demand and reputation. So the question leaves the artist in a quandary about how to answer lest she over/under estimates time invested relative to worth.

Preview my art by visiting my website at  I offer original watercolor paintings, signed limited edition giclees and art note cards of most of my images.  I have a new popular item – art pillows!

If you have additional tips for guests visiting artist studios please comment!

Capitol Artist Studio Tour (CAST)

Art studio


Yay – I finished my new aerial landscape painting just in the nick of time for the studio tour next weekend!  So you’ll have to come to the studio tour to view the finished painting, because I will not post the image until after the tour (just to keep the suspense going).


I have fun doing the studio tour.  It’s a great way to meet patrons and educate the public about making art!  If you take the tour, don’t be afraid to ask artists questions!  Most artists love to talk about our passion and creative endeavors.  And don’t worry about asking a “stupid” question.  It is a way to learn and better appreciate art.  Often non artists have only a vague idea of what it takes to create art, so the studio tour can demystify things.  I frequently demonstrate watercolor painting and let patrons try it out too.  


The studio tour is sponsored by the Center of Contemporary Art, Sacramento (CCAS).  It is a self guided tour that will feature over 130 artist studios in Sacramento.  It is next Sat. & Sun. September 14 & 15, 2013    10 AM – 5 PM


So if you live in the area, you are invited to my studio as part of the tour.  I will have both original art and giclee prints available for purchase.  My award winning painting, “Delta Reflections” will be available in a variety of print sizes.  The original is still in the traveling show around the US for the next year and has already sold.  Greeting cards of over 25 images will also be available (see purchase info for availability).


Three other artists will join me at my studio:

Bob Thompson – Printmaking, mixed media and clay

Mary Bartels – Jewelry

Mark Harman – Aluminum metal art for the garden


The tour is free!  For catalogs, maps and further information go to  The museum also has an exhibit of each artist’s art so that you can see a sample in person, then plan your self guided tour accordingly.  Free catalogs can be picked up at the museum.


I hope to see you, but if not, studio appointments are available upon request!



M.A.P. (Midtown Alley Project)

As an artist I frequently receive requests to donate my art or time to fundraising events.  I enjoy giving back to the community, but I try to limit it to causes that are meaningful to me and have a positive message or impact.  I also try to choose carefully so that its not taking away precious studio time, which is where I’m the most productive.


A few years ago the alley art project was created to beautify buildings and alleys in Midtown Sacramento, CA.  The idea was to help make alleys safer by bringing more people there. Murals are also known to help deter graffiti artists from tagging buildings.  The first installation was the 80-foot Midtown Mosaic on a wall behind Art Beast, 2226 K St., between 22nd & 23rd Streets.  It was previously an old parking lot where garbage was left after late night gatherings.  The mural is now a community mosaic of paintings and one tile piece by 60 artists ranging from tattoo and graffiti artists to nuns from a nearby Sisters of Mercy home.  I painted a section in Sunflowers.  It was fun to take part in a community project that made the area nicer.  Painting on a cement wall was challenging due to the rough surface and the acrylic paints dried very quickly in the hot Sacramento sun.  This posed quite a challenge for me as a watercolor artist and being used to painting on smooth paper!  It took many more hours than I had planned, but the mural turned out to be quite a great showcase of the many talented artists here in the area.  Stop by to take a look when you are in Midtown.  There are now many other mural sites to see as well.


Section of the M.A.P. Mural by 60 artists       Vista of Sunflowers on the M.A.P. Mural in Sacramento, CA by Elaine Bowers