CCAA Museum Exhibition: Altered Prisms

Image of Altered Prisms Exhibition postcard

I’ve been invited to participate in the CCAA Museum of Art’s unique exhibition, Altered Prisms, Shifting Perceptions. Six of my recent watercolors are among the paintings on display.

Altered Prisms: Shifting Perceptions
October 12 – November 18, 2012
Reception: October 21, 2:00-4:30 pm
12467 Base Line Road
Rancho Cucamonga, CA. 91739

Come experience the opening reception in the Jospeh Filippi Winery where the CCAA Museum is located. Enjoy some wine tasting as you explore the exhibit.

When the show’s curator, Gene Sasse asked me to participate I was initially reluctant. Compared to others in the exhibition, my current limitations seem minimal. However, Gene is a persistent fellow and eventually changed my mind.

Then too, I don’t want to mist an opportunity to show alongside, eighteen year-old Kevin Mount a young autistic artist who I believe is extremely talented. Over many months I have come to know Kevin as a multi-talented, energetic, and  inspiring watercolorist who exemplifies, in every way the term “artist.”

Many of us go through life being relatively unaware of our physical and mental gifts. These gifts are so much a part of our every day life that we unknowingly take them  for granted, until some unfortunate event forces physical, and/or mental limitations. These limitations can be brick walls that forever alter our life and the lives of those closest to us. Randy Pausch provides a bit of insight:

Brick walls are there for a reason, they give us a chance to show how badly we want something.” – Randy Pausch, Carnegie Mellon University professor (The Last Lecture)

We are faced with hurdles every day, some seemingly insurmountable. But if we adjust our thinking, those brick walls are easier to scale and, in some cases can embellish our life and art, and even provide a positive shift in attitude, a renewed and greater appreciation for what we can accomplish. In other words, life can sometimes provide an altered prism.

For more information and a preview of the exhibition and its participants, please follow THIS LINK.

Proud To Be American

Fromt the Sacramento Bee

To stop the wave of anti-American violence breaking over the Islamic world, Sacramento Muslim leaders Friday called on all 6 million American Muslims to use social media to tell all the world what’s good about the United States.

During an impassioned sermon at SALAM Islamic Center near American River College,Imam Muhammad Abdul Azeez asked his 500 worshippers, “Why don’t we become ambassadors of peace and understanding about America? There is a lot of good here.”

Read more HERE:

JUDGING ARTWORK, 10 Points of Reference

Judging artwork. A photograph of award ribbons.

JUDGING ARTWORK: As a previous post notes, I judged a recent watercolor show for the Watercolor Artists of Sacramento  Horizons (scroll down). This activity provides an opportunity to share with readers of this blog  my approach to the jury process.

JUDGING ARTWORK is not an easy job It’s a bit like asking the meaning of life. Attempt to define art is a question as old as the ages. Ask a hundred people, experts or not, and we come away without a definitive answer, other than “Than the trouble with art is it is subjective. The beauty of art is that it is subjective.” That’s a catchy phrase, but does little to help in the way of an intellectual attempt at objective evaluation. Gracho Marx put his spin on the question this way:

Well, Art is Art, isn’t it? Still, on the other hand, water is water. And east is east and west is west and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does. Now you tell me what you know.

So … after the laughter clears … might there be a reasonable way for us to narrow gross errors in artistic judgement? I don’t claim to have all the answers. However, these ten points do help identify specific areas in an attempt to evaluate or judge artwork. Eliminating all subjective judgement is impossible, but we have to start somewhere.

Over the years I have made numerous notes of what might constitute a basis for evaluating my own work as well as that of others (during my role as juror. These notes include my own thoughts as well as those of others. Many suggestions  come from numerous sources, books, videos, magazines, periodicals, letters, e-mails, peers, teachers, instructors, etc. I am indebted to them all.

What follows is a compilation of notes into a list of ten reference points for evaluating works of art. Of course, as noted earlier it is humanly impossible to apply every item in every instance, nor is it possible to rule out all subjectivity, but these ten points are definitely useful as a basis, a guideline with which to make informed selections. This list is a work in progress and is by no means complete, however I share it as it is and with the best possible intentions: I hope you find the list as helpful as I do.

(In no particular order of importance)


Does the work challenge the mind as well as the brush? Does the work encourage the viewer to exercise his imagination? Does it cause the viewer to bring something to the work itself, to ask questions, to invite an intellectual challenge? In judging artwork, does the piece tend to help “educate,” or somehow engage or promote discussion? Is there something about the work that, despite obvious flaws still captures one’s attention or imagination?

Is the work original and/or creative? Does the painting have something special about it that is important to note? Does the artist use the medium in an unusual, personal, imaginative,  or unique way?  In judging artwork, ask yourself if does the work show evidence of a strong personal viewpoint? Is there some aspect of the painting that breaks the mold, or makes it stand out from what might be considered the norm? Is there evidence the work was done “free hand,” without the aid of technological projection (the exception would be the projection of one’s own free hand preliminary work). 

Composition can be accomplished either scholastically or intuitively. Is the main rectangle well designed? Does the work make use of generally accepted compositional approaches such as steel yard, silhouette, diagonal, L-shape, cross, S-shape, etc? Does the viewer’s eye seem to move over the composition in a manner consistent with the overall design of the work? Does the movement throughout the composition have a pleasing or demanding rhythm to it? Is the composition devoid of confusing tangents such as antlers, fused edges, half shapes, etc? All the above are items that can be helpful factors in judging artwork.

Effective communication usually requires the receiver to receive the message in the manner in which it is intended. If the painting is the message, is the message effectively communicated to the intended audience? If the message is ambiguous is it intentional or accidental? Is the message important or relevant to the audience? These are additional factors to consider when judging artwork of all kinds.

Is the work engaging, with strong emotional appeal? Is there evidence of passion, of caring deeply about some aspect of the work? Is the piece emotionally challenging, whimsical, surreal, imaginative, or seductive? Does the work have a poetic or spiritual quality about it? These are certainly useful question to consider when evaluating artwork.

Does the painter play it safe, or does the painter display a willingness to take a risk, take a chance, or effectively break the rules (transgression). While evaluating the artwork, does it exhibit some form of spontaneity, with or without an attempt at mastery of a medium? Does the painting somehow seek new ground or show evidence of making good use of a serendipitous event? Read on for more suggestions with regard to judging artwork.

Another step in judging artwork is to ask if the piece has cultural, social, or political relevance? If so, does the work choose an approach that is understandable? Is the work accomplished in a manner that easily communicates with its audience? Is the cultural, social or political relevance unique, and/or likely to, in some way stand the test of time?

Some Design Elements to consider in judging artwork might be: Color, Line, Edge, Shape, Space, Texture, and value. Are the chosen elements applied appropriately, and if not, are the reasons consistent with the style and direction of the work? Do the elements take advantage of their relationship with design principles? Are the elements used in a manner that clarifies the intent and maturity of the artist? Do the Design Elements take advantage of their working relationship with Design Principles?

Some Design principles to consider might be: Contrast/Conflict, Balance (formal or informal), Repetition, Alternation, Dominance (Exaggeration, Emphasis), Size, Harmony, Unity, and Movement. Does the painting exhibit a working knowledge of the principles of design? Some examples or guidelines for judging artwork might include obvious thought given to formal or informal design? Are the primary elements effectively repeated? Is there a shape, value, color, or temperature dominance to the work? Can one see evidence of the work moving alternately from lighter to darker, warmer to cooler, etc? Do the Design Principles take advantage of their working relationship with Design Elements?

Does the painting show obvious understanding of the craft of painting? Is the draughtsmanship accomplished by hand, without technological projection?  Does the painting go beyond the photographic ideal (transcription or reporting)? Is the technical facility or craftsmanship consistent? A poorly drawn ear on an otherwise, excellent realistic portrait would certainly lack consistency. Does the work make effective and consistent use of the laws of linear and atmospheric perspective? Does the work exhibit assurance, authority, or boldness of execution?

In summary, the above ten points of reference reflect a reasonable sampling of the many methods used to objectively evaluating artwork.

A final thought: I confess I enjoy experiencing the role of guest juror. I consider any opportunity to judge artwork an honor that comes with much responsibility. However, I agree with artist and teacher, Frank Webb’s opinion that art is to be appreciated, not judged. So, why then do we have art competitions? Why so much interest and time spent evaluating artwork? Well, that’s probably a subject best left to another time and a future post.

Okay, just one more “final thought.” Now, why not have some fun? Go to and, using the above ten evaluating artwork guidelines put my work to the judgement test? Ouch, my ears are already ringing (grin)!



Call For Entries

WASH logoWatercolor Artists of Sacramento Horizons

WASH Inc. Annual Open Watercolor Exhibition “Go With The Flow 2012” – September 4 – 29, 2012. Carry Entry Dates, Augst 17-18, 2012. Prospectus Here

Several weeks ago I was invited as guest juror for this show. As i understand it, I am subbing for Jim Estey who, due to illness is unable to perform his usual excellent job as juror. Those are big shoes to fill, but I am happy to pitch hit for Jim and wish him a speedy and full recovery.

I look forward to the opportunity of viewing and appreciating numerous expressions of the glories of watercolor. I remind myself and those who choose to enter the competition, of two wonderful quotes. The first, “There is no mistake, no right, o wrong, only make” – Mary Corita Kent. The second, “It’s not a painting, until it’s painted.” – Henry Fukuhara.

WASH encourages painters of all levels who want to enter to do so, even beginners. The organization believes that even if you don’t think you’re ready yet, you might surprise yourself and get a work in the show. WASH’s history dates to 1978. For more information, please click THIS LINK.

10th Anniversary

10th Anniversary logo

Today, July 22, 2012, marks the tenth anniversary of the beginning of my Free Friday Mini-Workshops. It’s hard to believe ten years have passed. The passing of a decade is cause for a bit of reflection. 

Free Fridays are – with few exceptions – free, outdoor watercolor events offered weekly on Fridays, 52 weeks a year, even during fog, light wind, and;or light rain. The American River Parkway offers a splendid outdoor studio with a wide variety of painting opportunities. Anyone with an interest in watercolor  is invited to attend, to paint, see demonstrations, sketch, ask questions, seek help, share information, etc. Out of town visitors, including vacationers are also welcome.

When I began Free Fridays (as a tribute to George Post, my first watercolor instructor) there weren’t many outdoor painting opportunities in the area. Times change of course, and today the opportunities are many.

The first person to attend Free Fridays was Dorothy Jundt who accidentally discovered me painting, accompanied only by my dog Rio at Sara Park. Dorothy and her daughter were at the river picking blackberries. Dorothy and I found we shared interests in watercolor and the next week Dorothy showed up with her painting equipment. We three had a great time, only Dorothy, Rio, and me.

Gradually a few more joined in each week there were three of us, then four, maybe even up to five at a time. Some hung in there for several weeks, months, even years, but most came and went, especially during fall and winter.

So today, ten years later, not much has changed relative to increased participation. If anything, the numbers and interest seemed to have dwindled. Some weeks it is just my dog, Connor and me (Dorothy and Rio have passed on). Why the lack of enthusiasm? Maybe it’s because (you fill in the blank).

If you’d like more information about Free Fridays, click HERE.

Solo Exhibit by 18 year old, Kevin Mount at the CROCKER ART MUSEUM, Sacramento, CA.

watercolor by Kevin Mount
Watercolor by Kevin Mount, 15″ x 22″

A solo exhibit by Sacramento artist, Kevin Mount, presented in cooperation with An Evening of Dreams. Crocker Art Museum, 216 “O” Street, Sacramento, CA. (916) 808-7000. Exhibition runs from July 3, to August 26, 2012

ARTIST’s RECEPTION: Sunday 22, 2012 from 1 to 3 PM

Kevin is eighteen years old and autistic.  He’s a painter who passionately draws and paints with youthful love and joyA young man of very few words, Kevin speaks softly but wields an expressive brush. If one asks Kevin if he would like to paint, he will most likely nod his head positively, and with a great amount of confidence and enthusiasm will say, “I paint.

Kevin loves to draw and paint anything. The world is his inspiration, no matter the subject. Upon completing a painting, Kevin will gently lay his brush on the table or easel, and smile. If asked what he thinks about his painting, Kevin will look up and calmly reply, “I like.

Kevin is a wonderful example of actions speaking louder than words. The words critical and judgmental do not exist in Kevin’s world; in their place might be the word appreciation. As it ideally should be for anyone worthy of the term artist.

Kevin experiences neurological and immune system difficulties. Neurologically, he has been diagnosed as autistic. Additionally, his immune system has developed a condition related to potassium blockage which produces inflammation resulting in asthma, vitiligo (depigmentation in the skin), ulcerative colitis, and encephalitis.

Kevin is home schooled, and very active in the arts. Along with watercolor painting, he studies piano. Kevin lives with his parents, Donald and Ana, in Sacramento, CA.

watercolor by Kevin Mount
Watercolor by Kevin Mount, 15″ x 22″

Also on view at the Crocker Art Museum…

See the Music, Hear the Art
July 3 – August 26, 2012

See the Music, Hear the Art enables students to create artwork inspired by listening to great  works of music. Presented in collaboration with the Sacramento Philharmonic Orchestra, working with Shriner’s Hospital for children – Northern California Women Escaping a Violent Environment (WEAVE), Mustard Seed at Sacramento Loaves & Fishes, and Sacramento Area Emergency Housing Center – Maiher Campus.

Value Plan Sequence – Example 1

This is a one-minute video illustrating the sequential development of a simple, preliminary plan or sketch using three, or four values. I find this process helpful in the effort to create an interesting painting. As seen here, he four values include white, black, and two grays. A basic, non-complex plan can go a long way in making the creative process more enjoyable.

Of course, not every painting demands the above approach, but having a plan is helpful in the effort in understanding the initial stages of a painting. To my way of thinking, one aspires to first get the shapes (design of the rectangle) right, then the values right. Once this is accomplished,there is much flexibility with regard to color and the other aspects of painting.

I discuss the value plan process in further detail during my watercolor classes and workshops
Link to class info HERE
Link to workshop info HERE.

The Connor Report (first swim)

My wife and I took our new, rescue dog, Connor to the American River today for his first real river swim. More on that later.

Connor celebrated his first birthday earlier this month. Connor is currently in training to be my “painting buddy.” He currently is somewhat of a work in progress, but getting better every day.

Yesterday he had his toe nails trimmed for the first time. Connor is s very friendly, loving dog whose exhuberance had made his long toe nails almost “lethal weapons.” I have playtime scratches all over my arms to prove the point. Although Connor is friendly, we are pleased that he, when appropriate has already demonstrated he can be protective if need be.

A month or so ago Connor weighed in at 85 pounds of youthful muscle. Our vet told us to put him on a diet. We have, sort of. The good news is that Connor is now down to an energetic, slim, trim 81 pounds!

Last week was really Connors first experience at swimming. We found a safe inlet along the river and Connor retrieved a stick or two in relatively shallow water. Today was his first attempt at deeper water and he came out with flying colors.

So, I invite you to share with us, the joy that is Connor …

Meet Connor

Image of dog, Connor

Meet Connor, the latest addition to our family. As stated in an earlier post, he is a German Shepard/Rottweiler rescue dog out of Tracy, California. After much searching, we finally found Connor via the Internet.

When Connor first joined us he was six months old and weighed 60 pounds. He is now about eleven months old and weighs close to eighty pounds. Connor was originally rescued by Bert and Mary Debusschere, of, out of Tracy, CA. When Bert and Mary originally rescued Connor, he was malnourished, skin and bones, head larger than body and in dangerously poor condition. Bert and Mary nursed him back to excellent health. Upon the first visit to our local vet, the doctor expressed joy that Connor was so well cared for, up to date with vaccinations, and even chipped.

Image of dog, Connor

For more photos and comments, click HERE.

Time Flies?

Image of digital clock

Some people say that time flies when you’re having fun. Certainly, much time has passed since my last post, but I can’t honestly note it’s been all fun. Among other things, I’ve revamped my framing, matting, and storage areas. That is a much needed, time intensive improvement, but I wouldn’t call it fun by a long shot.

Also, after weeks, months,  I have almost finished a major redesign of my entire web site. Part work, part fun, with much editing. I use the term “almost finished,” because it is still a bit of an ongoing process. It seems I come to believe the work finished, and then I find another area that needs attention. It’s probably fair to note that web sites have a tendency to be a never ending process. However, I think it safe to assume most of the work is behind me.

Among the changes are a new, convenient navigational menu, visual changes to most pages including the home page, Featured Work thumbnail links, Recent Work thumbnail links, etc. So, if you get a chance I invite you to check out the new look at