Zen and the Art of Painting with Bill Buchman

Bill Buchman warming up with his Zen Brushes

Even though I have not spent a lot of time in my studio these past few months, I have managed to do a bit of art here and there, and I attended a workshop. Some of you may remember the classes I took last year with Bill Buchman, notably his Creative Breakout class -wow! I had such a good experience in his class learning and being inspired by Bill's art that I looked for another workshop with him at the Longboat Key Center for the Arts this winter. In February, Bill offered a two-day workshop called Zen and the Art of Painting. I signed up in a flash!

Bill Buchman

Bill demoed and spoke about the Zen approach of reacting to the moment. On the painting above which is in his creative breakout style, he used oil pastels to enhance the painting and spoke to us about what 'enhancement' meant and how to go about it. I filmed much of the 2-day workshop with his blessings and am currently working on a series of videos. I've finished 4 videos that are unpublished as I am not done going through the material yet! When the editing is done they may even be put together to create one longer video -I will let you know. While filming that first day my camera ran out of memory before Bill did his demo of the Ensō circle - but, I was still able to take photos of Bill painting an Ensō with the brushes he designed, see below. 

Zen brush

Zen Pen

Yesterday I took those photos and a couple of short video clips and created a cool Animoto slideshow video. To view the video either click here or start the video below. From Wikipedia:
Ensō (円相) is a Japanese word meaning "circle" and a concept strongly associated with Zen.
In Zen Buddhist painting, ensō symbolizes a moment when the mind is free to simply let the body/spirit create.

Yes, the Longboat Key peacocks are a small part of this art video : )

After Bill demoed all of the students had a chance to do an Ensō. Here's mine:

I tried to be very free and in the moment while I was painting and this is encouraged here. When it was done, I saw a bird in my Ensō, do you? Below is another Ensō Bill that painted, one of his wonderful figure drawings and a photo of him getting into his demo!

Check out his website for much more. He has available books he's written, instructional DVDs, brushes & pens plus more info and many photos . . . 

In March, Bill was part of the Fine Arts Society of Sarasota's Studio Tour. 
My friend Cheryl and I visited his wonderful studio - 1800 sq ft!!! 

That's all for now, I hope you enjoy and thank you for the warm welcome back : )

Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.
  ~ Vincent van Gogh

some art on the island

Here is a bit of some of the art I did while visiting wolfe island . . . a close up of a painting:

The entire painting - you can see it when it's half finished here

I brought the Creative Breakout DVD with me and watched it once again for inspiration. Thanks to my instructor Bill Buchman for all he taught me. I am so glad I got a couple of his DVDs! below is a warm up exercise using his Zen Reed Pens. Just plain fun!

we have fond memories of this trip, even though near the end we wanted to go home and we left a few days early! The long drive (3 days) was tiring too but I still smile at things like Steven and me snuggled on the deck of the cottage to watch the sunset . . . 

That is Tina and my son Decklin over my shoulder. A few days after they left the island, they called with wonderful news. They are engaged to be married! Their date is in October, 2013.

I have more art I did to share with you, so look for more posted here sometime soon. In the meantime I have added some photos of our sweet dogs enjoying island life to my photo blog and I am busily adding lovely, beautiful, thoughtful prayer flags to my swaps blog! I hope you have time to check them out. Take care and I will see you again before long. Oh! i have changed my blog format once again. See what you think! The photo blog remains a "dynamic view" but this main blog is back to the original type of template. Hope it works for you!

from painting to page

from painting to page

Last week I did not work directly in my art journal right away. Though as you might be able to tell from the photo above, my painting exercise ended up in my journal a few days later! I cut it to fit. It was not my plan to paint separately and add the paper to my journal. Instead the painting was done because I felt a need to get back to the exercises I did with Bill Buchman . . .

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Second Floor Challenge: Circles!

Here is my first response to the fairly new "second floor" challenge. Please read more about it HERE on Julie Fei-Fan Balzer's scrumptious blog. You can also find a link in the sidebar of my blog. I am pledging to continue doing these challenges when they are offered every few weeks. The idea is to use the prompt given as a starting point and then take it to "the second floor". Huh?? Meaning to challenge yourself to do something more, something scary, perhaps something where you might even fail. Experimenting and pushing yourself. I found the abstract art class I recently took with Bill Buchman offered me the same sort of thing, to try doing things a bit out of my comfort zone with my art. Even though sometimes it was hard for me to do, and sometimes I created things I did not like at all, I saw my art change for the better as I went along. It is easier to do again and again what you know works, right? Time to change-it-up and grow. The prompt this time was CIRCLES. Here's my story in photos . . . .

I started by drawing circles with both water soluble crayons and oil pastels that would resist water.

I sprayed my water color paper with water and let it run  . . . I love this look.

So the first thing I did to take it to the second floor was . . . 
even though I loved all the water color running everywhere I made myself 
 cover some of it, with paint! 

eeep! 2 colors, green and off-white.

This is how it looked when I went to bed last night.
I decided to let it sit and not do anything more with it.

In the morning after my dentist appointment I decided to keep going.
That is something Julie was talking about in her post for this challenge:
"Keep going. I get scared when I have an idea and I'm not sure if it's going to work and I don't want to ruin what I have. Keep going."

Good advice I think. I mean, sometimes you do have to know when to stop, but to stop because you are scared of ruining your work is not a great idea. You can always make more! So I turned the paper 90 degrees and grabbed a large rubber stamp.

I inked it with wet midnight blue VersaCraft ink and firmly pressed it all over my painting.

Then, I sprinkled Hologram embossing powder randomly over the piece.

I tapped the excess off and heated it with my heat gun till it was hard and shiny where I had stamped and told myself to "keep going". So, I watered down Hi Lite Violet Lumiere . . . 

Brushed this paint over most of my painting and stamping; it has a sheeen.

Something told me to keep going!! I got out my new Sennelier Soft pastels.
These are new tools for me that Bill Buchman turned me onto.

I really like how they work! They are in-between chalk and any other pastels or crayons I have had before. I used my finger to spread my marks around. The color is soft yet rich.

Then I decided to experiment more, pouring bright gold Lumiere on in places.

wiping the excess away . . .

Then, I added more marks and circles with mostly the soft pastels.
My piece ended up looking like this below.

I took it outside to spay it with a sealer because of the pastels.
A close up of one section. I like what the sealer did to the painting!

A full look of it outside, before I . . . . 

CUT it into 4 postcards!! 

I really felt that this was what I needed to do with my painting.
Here is what *I* am taking away from this challenge:

  • I need challenges, prompts or assignments to motivate me to create.
  • I think I need to try to push myself to try different things than I usually do, more often.
  • Not sure how beautiful this painting was, but I sure love the little sections of colour as "postcards" and I also loved doing this exercise.
  • creating makes me feel good, it both calms me and energizes me.
  • Simply playing with my supplies without a lot of expectations is good for me and sparks my creativity. 
  • I need to go back and watch Bill Buchman's DVD's again, while IN my studio this time so I can work along with him. He has a lot of great ideas and exercises. I need to put this on my calendar so I will do it! 

Are you ready for the second floor challenge? 
Hop over to the Balzer Designs blog
I will be guest posting on Friday, May 18th! 
My post is about the Sketchbook project
Please stop by that day and say hi! 

Life is 10 percent what you make it, and 90 percent how you take it. 
  ~ Irving Berlin

creative breakout with Bill Buchman

Bill Buchman - Creative Breakout Class
Longboat Key, FL 2012

Photos from the abstract art class I took with Bill Buchman. His awesome web site is here: http://www.figuredrawing.org. Classes were held at the Longboat Key Center for the Arts in Longboat Key Florida from January - April 2012.
The direct link to view the photos: http://animoto.com/play/TXS26hLUrXyUim1db31DgQ

Sadly, the in person classes are over for now . . . but the inspiration I received will continue!

It's what you learn after you know it all, that counts.
  ~  Albert Einstein

( random, totally random quotes -I swear! )


This is another project I signed up to do through the Art House Co-op. I signed up a while ago despite the fact that the theme of "self-portrait" sounded difficult to me. The project has been in the back of my mind for a while though. When I was going through my photographs today I came across this one:

Just a photo of my feet in one of my many pairs of Crocs. I have multiple pairs and they really are the only shoes I wear! These are my messy painty purple ones. My dad bought them for me. I was taking photos in Bill Buchman's art class of his painting demo and just for fun, I looked down and also snapped this photo.There were photos in the same folder of art exercises I had done in his class and these things together sparked the idea for my self-portrait. You may recognize the painting I used as the one from my current blog header! Click on any photo for more details and a larger photo.

I was sent a 4x4 wrapped canvas for this project as part of the registration. I used Yes glue to adhere a copy of one of my painting exercises I printed out onto brochure paper (to make it pop) and a cut out version of the photo of my legs and feet. 

I added oil pastels and yellow acrylic ink to cover the plain white wrapped canvas sides and a little bit of the same on top of the original painting.

Especially because this seemed like a difficult task to do in my mind -a self portrait, I am so pleased with how it came out! I really like this self-portrait and was glad that once I started looking for inspiration, it manifested itself. Another lesson re-learned: Just start! 

If you're going through hell, keep going.
  ~ Winston Churchill

(remember these quotes are pulled up randomly!!)

Bill Buchman demos the Big Gesture

I have a very short video demo I took of my instructor Bill Buchman showing us the "big gesture" with sumi-E brush and ink. The direct link is HERE if you do not see the video displayed below. Enjoy!

More on this class is in my previous blog post, scroll down or go here!

It's never too late -in fiction or in life- to revise. ~ Nancy Thayer

I've been inserting quotes from my very large list of quotes via a 'sigmonster' program my oldest son Decklin created for me many years ago. I click on the desktop icon and one of my many quotes is randomly copied from my file to my clipboard. Then I paste it in! I have been trying to use the first quote that comes up (instead of asking again) and it has worked very well so far.

The Big Gesture and more . . .

It seems to take me a while to catch up with everything these days, but that's okay. From my art class on Monday, the one I have been taking . . . I was late to class because of this:

yes, a peacock. In a driveway!

Amazing! I had to stop and get out of my car, take some photos. 
My teacher Bill said he had never gotten THAT as an excuse for being late before!
* * * 

In class, Bill demonstrated the Big Gesture with Sumi-E brush. 
Here is his demo piece below - it is a Zen idea of spontaneity in painting.
I hope to have a short video of his demo to share with you soon.

After Bill demoed, we all took turns trying this ourselves . . .  


Lynn - wow!


a close up of part of my big gesture . . .
Switching gears . . . .
don't those look delicious?

Bill is continuing to teach us about color and line and water media.


painting by BILL BUCHMAN 

Below is what I painted after listening hard to what Bill had been teaching us about not over-working the water media into the paper -let it flow and react to it instead of trying to fix it.
I am pleased!

It is hard to learn new ways but I feel at least this time I was able to tune in to what Bill has been teaching us about line, color and paint. We have just one more class . . . Bill does not resume teaching at the Longboat Key Center for the arts until next January as the classes are only held during the "season", yikes! At least I have his book and two DVDs!

painting by lenna  : )

The best way out of a problem is through it.
  ~ unknown

Enso: zen circles - with Bill Buchman

Last Monday in our Creative Breakout class our instructor Bill Buchman showed us how to do the Enso using Sumi-e brushes and a reed pen. This is a different kind of painting than I have ever done before. I had seen him demonstrate this in his DVD Zen Breakthrough, but it was definitely a challenge to do! Here is Bill's enso . . .

signing his name 

Then it was our turn. Each student came up and Bill helped us out. He prepared a good amount of sumi-e ink or gauche loaded up on the brush for us . . . and he coached us! 

Rebecca's enso -nice splatters!

Barbara is practicing first; we all did. A good idea.

we signed our names with the reed pen
Paul is doing great with his

Each one is different . . . 

I also took a video with Bill's permission of his demo of the enso ~ view it below -

The direct link is here: http://youtu.be/bH29wGrHFwQ

To love abundantly is to live abundantly, and to love forever is to live forever.
  ~ Henry Drummond

Creative breakout class with Bill Buchman

Last week in class with Bill Buchman, we learned more about color theory. He started with a lecture about color, showed us what he meant by color temperature and opposite/complimentary as well as nuetral colors and we also talked about our "bad painting" exercise the week before.

Then, we had a short amount of time to do an exercise based on his talk. For structure, Bill asked us to draw some letters using oil pastel which would resist the watercolor media we would paint over the letters. The letters should overlap to make it interesting. Bill did the one below while we worked on our own.

Color chart above is in Bill's book, Expressive Figure drawing
Close up of Bill's try - I just love the colors!! You can tell he is quite practiced at color theory.
Below, you will see some student work and different approaches to Bill's color exercise. I did not note whose work was whose while photographing but would be happy to add your name to your piece if you email me.

caught Bill Buchman by surprise here . . .
I have been having a great time learning from him and painting in his class. 
I will certainly miss it when class ends April 23.

(above) This is mine and I do not like it one bit!
I find solace in the remark that Bill made in an earlier class. He said,
"An artist is someone who can make something he does not like but goes on
to make more pieces, does not give up."
I know this one above is Barbara's, it is beautiful!

Another view of Bill Buchman's piece. 
Bill has made some great instructional DVDs should you want to learn from him yourself. Watching them is like being in a class with him. I have watched Zen Breakthrough: Making Contemporary Experimental Art with Sumi-e Brushes, reed pens and Mixed media and will go back again and again to learn more. My friend Frieda Oxenham in Scotland, purchased Bill's video Creative Breakout, The Art of Freedom and loved it! There are more DVDs available too - I just got his new one: Keeping the Melody: Making Contemporary Abstracts with Inspiring Materials and Techniques. I know this will keep me busy practicing his ideas and techniques till the next time I can take class in person with him again. There are a few more weeks to go of classes at the Longboat Key Center for the arts, so I am sure to be back with more.

I do like this part of my exercise a bit . . . click to view

: ) lenna 

small art from big paintings

For the past three years I have been exchanging art with a group of talented women through a private yahoo group. This year, we've been exchanging 4x4's. Many in the group will take these 4x4's and make a "chunky" book. I'm not sure what I'll do with these wonderful small works of art but for now they are out in my studio in a basket, where I add to them as they come in. I simply enjoy looking through them. Such inspiration! The idea of our exchange is to create on someone's chosen theme and have someone create for you on your theme every month. I needed to make 2 of these small 4x4 inch works, one for March for Heather Robinson and one for April for Karen Owen. I started creating by taking 2 of my painting exercises I did in the abstract art class I'm taking and used my x-acto knife to cut out 2 small 4"x4" sections.

That was actually quite fun to do! To pick and chose a part I liked.

The green one is for Karen who gave us the theme "artist's choice" but let us know she liked birds and nature, among other things! I concentrated on those two.

I must admit, I kept it pretty simple as I liked the background and did not want to cover it up too much. I thought Karen would like a touch of gold so I chose that for the leaves and edged the 4x4 with a metallic marker. I also splatter a few dots of gold and stamped a saying . . .. 

Wander where there is no path

Heather had a theme of Fantasy Garden, doesn't that sound delicious! 
For her, I decided I wanted to do packing tape transfers of flower images. I thought this would keep with her theme but let the painted background show through a bit . . . 

To do packing tape transfers place clear packing tape over the front of your chosen magazine or catalog images (thin paper like that is best). Overlap tape if necessary. Burnish the tape to the paper well and drop into a bowl of warm water for 15 minutes or so. Gently rub the paper off the BACK of your tape/paper sandwich until all the paper has been removed and just the image remains attached to the tape! 

I added watercolor crayons around the edges, then wet to activate.

I finished heather's 4x4 with rubber stamping and an appropriate quote.

This is the end of my commitment to this group and even though I so enjoyed creating for and receiving from them, I will not be continuing with the next session. I feel I need a break from some of my regular scheduled exchanges in order to give myself time to explore some more personal art. I am not sure what direction I am going in yet, but as my husband Steven says, he can tell I am restless . . . searching . . . and I think he is correct. I tend to think perhaps in some way, it has something to do with my father's passing last October. I also think taking classes with Bill Buchman has excited me and open my eyes to other kinds of art I can do. I have a desire to do more painting and collage in perhaps a larger scale than I usually work - I'd like to explore this idea . . . . so, we'll see! 

Thanks very much for stopping by! lenna