Category Archives: Creative Process

Art and Childhood

I recently uncovered some of my kids childhood art, and at the same time, some of my own as well. My mother kept a xerox copy of some drawings I did when I was preschool age. Judging from child development research, I was probably 4 at the time. Mom has used the word prodigious, and also precocious to describe the drawings. I don’t know — but I do know that they are fun images. Birds, furniture, daddy, all with circles for feet and drawn with youthful abandon, with no thought about a horizon or the relationship between one thing and another on the page. I liked one of the pages so much that I posted it on facebook, and threatened to make it into a painting. mutant hamsterMy 28 year old daughter took that as a challenge and digitally re-made my drawing into a colored field, morphing the couch into a frenzied rodent, a spontaneous collaboration, one might say!

The original drawings were themselves a collaboration I suppose. On another page of drawings my mom had drawn a bird, a girl, and I used those to jump off and draw what I knew. I produced a domestic scene, couch, chair, doors, daddy, birds. I would venture to say that this means good things about my childhood, that it was overall peaceful and secure.

Several things I take away at this moment I decided to make a painting from my youthful drawings:

  • Artistic development never ends. I’ve been telling people that this painting took me 54 years to complete. Ha!
  • Parental encouragement and support of creative endeavors is priceless.
  • A parent’s PRESENCE with a child, not taking over, or imposing adult ideas on childhood exploring, also priceless.
  • Mom felt this piece of paper was important enough to keep for over 50 years. Very special.
  • Asking an artist about their work, then listening and accepting what they say allows the one-who-looks to know more about the artist.

Girl-CouchNow after a stroke, my mom is in assisted living. I still see the spark in her eye, still hear her encouraging words, and am grateful for her life, her entirely individual ways and her attention to me throughout my life. She is experiencing challenges forming words, but I simply admire her will to keep trying, and even her curiosity and interest in what is happening with her in spite of the frustrations. Always curious,  very intelligent and inquisitive, she’s now set up with books on tape and her knitting…and I’m sure this will be an adventure too. May this phase be as peaceful and secure an adventure as my own childhood apparently was. This one’s for you, mom.

Studio Virtual Tour

Welcome to my studio! Today is a happy working day in my studio and I’m glad you are here!

I use about half of a 12×12 bedroom for my art making, which is enough for now. Creative storage includes in-closet shelving for a good collection of blank canvasses and boards. Tools live beneath, and there’s some space for rolled paper materials in a basket in front of portfolio storage.

The very large storage piece in my studio is a flat file given to me by a former co-worker. It was given to her by a long time friend who was a Boeing engineer. The story goes that upon retirement, he started working in watercolor, and required a place to store large papers for his paintings. Being an engineer, he knew he could make a storage piece better than he could buy at a store. It’s oak, and perfectly made. No stubborn drawers in this piece. It was my pleasure to inherit this piece of furniture, and though I thought hard about all the floor space it takes up, it more than justifies it’s footprint with the amount of stuff I keep in it. I have hand-cut stamps, stencils, palettes, papers for collage and printing, a mat cutter, measuring tools, and below the files, a space for boxes of things I’m holding to use someday. I think it also holds the memory of a Boeing engineer’s ideas and images.

Beneath the paper covered work table is a drying rack, trash can and a little more room for storage boxes. Above the table are brushes that live on the wall in a set of drawers from Ikea which are always open, holding the brushes and other tools at the ready. I keep the things I use constantly right there on the table.

The floor easel is a recent addition that my husband altered to reduce the footprint.  Behind the easel I have a tall set of drawers for paints, mediums and varnishes.  It’s pretty ship shape, all in all, and I absolutely refuse to apologize for any mess caught in photos. It’s supposed to be messy!

One of the best things about this room is the light. I have two windows, one of which looks out on the backyard. It’s always green, some months greener than others! Immediately outside the window is a raspberry patch, and my raised garden. Can’t get much better!

Hey, thanks for visiting! Leave me a note and let me know you came by this virtual tour!

The Sketchbook Project

Blank Pages

My sketchbook arrived in the mailbox today. So small and empty it is, and also full of promise. It’s like the beginning of every good idea, every project that seems exciting. This is yet another project that seems exciting. Good news is, this project has a due date and someone is waiting for it. Someone, and then a truck that will transport it to multiple cities. This is powerful — as powerful as I make it. It’s tempting to think too hard on this, to make it too important. It’s not — it’s a sketchbook…a receptacle for ideas and incubation. I will just choose some idea and get started. I think it’s best to have a theme. My best thoughts so far: Faces and hands inside of costumes costume details people from vintage photos Let’s get started!

Sketchbook Project

This weekend I joined the Sketchbook Project.

The Sketchbook Project is a global, crowd-sourced art project and interactive, traveling exhibition of handmade books. Our mission is to allow anyone to be able to participate in art and to create a collection of work that represents the current state of artists worldwide.

I’m going to use it to spark some new ideas for projects of my own, while keeping in mind that the sketchbook itself is part of a worldwide project. The images will be scanned and available for viewing on the World Wide Web. The due date for my book is in January 2015. Can’t wait to see what I come up with, and also to see what others are doing!



Play it Again

Where music and art come together

Attending the Wintergrass Bluegrass festival 2014 yesterday brought a few new musicians into my attention. When I like a band it’s usually for a few reasons, 1. fun to watch, inspiring to listen to; 2. I would like to do some of their songs; 3. I would love to make art while listening to their music.
How do the art and music puzzle pieces fit together? As an artist and a musician I spend time actively doing both, and it seems that when I concentrate on one, the other suffers. Or maybe I will turn that about and say that there is a season for each — there is time to move forward with art, and a time to learn new music. I think they are not exclusive, they both feed the same creative mind and build up each other.
Some people say they can see sounds and hear color.  Few of us are synesthetic, but for most, music and art convey emotion, say ideas, and can bring us along into a mood or story. One band yesterday (Milk Carton Kids) sang a single line that sticks with me, “Our young hearts grow old.” One line offers a powerful and lyrical image and brings it to the people witnessing the words along with the tune. It brings a hush. And how does that bring us into the art studio? Sometimes silence is preferred as it turns the creative switch over to the on position. Sometimes singing along greases the inventive cog. Sometimes wordless music is the thing, sparseness is appreciated and one can find visual creativity in the quiet chinks in the music. Sometimes a wall of sound will release an inner monster to overcome.  Most often a quiet mood works best in my studio.
Music quiets the brain of other concerns, focuses on the work at hand. Musicians might prefer that listeners listen intently, but here’s where familiarity can cause inattention – allowing focus on other creative pursuits. Still the music is appreciated as time flies by.
Where does your attention go in the creative mess? “There are no worries, you can clean up later,” is part of my self talk. Let’s see what happens…make mistakes…lay down the paint on canvas…what you do is not wrong.  Are you using a brush without rinsing? Well good, not rinsing makes some beautiful mother colors to tone paintings and make beautiful shadows. Not following a pattern in music can cause something called fusion – often enough it’s a happy surprise. How do you get a mother color in music? Find an unusual transition between major chords with a minor 9th/added 11th or something even better to surprise us. What does a harmonic look like in painting? I wonder.
Art for me is mostly a solo pursuit. When working solitarily, it’s important to have good self talk. Music can help. Be kind to yourself. Exhibit a little kindness. State your intention, colors, a feeling, a brief description. Be curious about the outcome rather than attached to it. Play some music in your studio and practice joy.
New musical discoveries:  Väsen, Chris Thile and Mike Marshall, the Milk Carton Kids.
Evolution: Polka Dots

My finishing process

Once a painting is completely done, and I’m satisfied, I sign it. Signing is important for many reasons as you can imagine, not the least of which is to signal myself that I should leave the thing alone. Done, already! I’m careful to place the signature in a location that will either enhance or at least not take away from the composition. These days I’m using a little squeeze bottle with a fine tip to paint my signature on my paintings, though I’m not locked into that. It’s just easier to write.

After the signature is completely dry, an isolation coat of acrylic polymer medium, a Golden product, is brushed on. One or two coats are used, depending on how much texture there is on the piece. I dry this layer about 24 hours.

Finally, two coats of a varnish go over the isolation coat. I use Golden UV Varnish in a satin finish. I used to use gloss, which allows the depth of color to show, and I really like that. Many of my paintings are finished with gloss. But the trade off is that the glossy finish reflects light, making it slightly harder to light, or to view in person and also causes specular highlights when photographing the art.I tried matte varnish, but to me the end result looked almost foggy. Matting agent is made of tiny particles in the medium that refract light, so of course it will look foggy. The happy medium (do I sound like Goldilocks?) is satin varnish. It’s a blend of gloss and matte, and the appearance is a pleasing, almost waxy looking finish. That’s nice because of the current interest in encaustics.  The varnish should be brushed on slowly and evenly, avoiding bubbles. I use a wide soft brush that won’t shed. The varnish will seek it’s own level and dries within about an hour. I leave a space heater on in the room, and a window open as it’s somewhat toxic.

Nest time, I’ll show you a new trick I learned about attaching hanging wires.



Trio by Lynette Hensley

Happy New Year! A look back at 2013

2013 was a year of super creativity in my studio. It was a year of learning and experimenting with different ways of making images, different ways of organizing an image on a surface, and playing with paint. Naturally that leads to some new looks, maybe a change of direction in style, subject matter, and hopefully an expansion and improvement of my abilities. And, happily, it was also lots of fun!

I made a decision to not include images that others created in my collage work. If I include collage, it will be with paper I’ve made.

I also geared my art life back up this year. My goal was to have 6 shows this year, which was accomplished. I was thinking I’d do fewer this next year, but I’m re-thinking that. More shows means that more people will see my work.

NEAT: North End Arts Tour December 6-8

Please join me and 30 other artists for this studio tour throughout North Seattle, December 6-8. I will be in studio 4, as a guest of Sandra Spear, a handmade glass bead jewelry artist, along with Priscilla Peterson, who is an embellished garments artist. I will be the token painter! 😉 I expect that the weekend will be inspiring! neat-mapA

I do have new work to show and I’d love to share it with you. It will all be for sale of course, along with the jewelry and clothing at our studio, just in time for the holidays. And if you just need a creative outing, this is a great way to spend a day, or the whole weekend!

More information about the event at the NEAT Seattle website:

There you can get a PDF of the entire brochure. Pick up a passport at your first site, and get it stamped at all 7 sites by Sunday night for a chance to win dinner for 2 at Kisaku Restaurant.

Hope to see you there!

My best,



My Warm Palette

Oh, I love warm colors, and it shows. I have made plans for blue paintings, or cool color paintings, or paintings with a grayed-out overall feel, but more often than not, they get toned into a warm palette.

Personal Color

Do you remember Color Me Beautiful? Carole Jackson’s book and system of paying attention to people’s coloring was an eye opener for many, including myself, in the 80’s and 90’s. I discovered why I looked terrible in my favorite color, lavender, and why people said my eyes looked beautiful when I wore dark greens and rust colors. I think that’s why I like warm colors, the colors of fall. It’s a redhead’s special joy to be able to wear colors that make dark eyed, dark haired women look green, and make blondes who are supposed to have more fun, look pasty.

Golden Paints

But does every painting need to be in the same warm palette? No. Obviously not. Right now, though, this is the palette I find lovely. Let’s call “Color Me Beautiful” reason 1 for my current palette. Reason 2 is Golden paints. Oh my they have some wonderful colors. Anything with Quinacrodone in the name is in my paint box. These colors are so strong, brilliant, and can be toned, go transparent or opaque without losing interest, and can be used brilliantly as glazing as well. All the Quinacrodone colors are warm, even if they are cool. Know what I mean? Quin Magenta is a cool red, but it’s red. Quin Violet tends toward red rather than blue.

Siennas and Umbers are also favorites. My favorite dark paint (used more than black) is Van Dyke Brown Hue. And lately I’ve added Green Gold which seems to liven up paintings, and as a side benefit, it’s a popular decorating color right now.

Here’s the list of my most used colors:

Golden Paints:
Quinacrodone Gold (No longer available) Quinacrodone Nickel Azo Gold
Quinacrodone Burnt Orange
Quinacrodone Magenta
Quinacrodone Crimson
Quinacrodone Violet
Dioxizine Purple
Van Dyke Brown Hue
Green Gold
Burnt Umber
Burnt Sienna

Daniel Smith:
Quinacrodone Burnt Scarlet

Recently I looked at my paint box, and realized there was hardly any blue. So with an adventurous heart, I ordered some from Dick Blick.

Trying Blue

Like any Yin to the Yang, I’ve learned to tone colors with a complementary color, or something near it, which means I do have blues in my palette too. Still experimenting with which blues to use. I just picked up a collection of the following, all from Golden:

Cerulean Blue Deep
Manganese Blue HuePrussian Blue Hue
Cerulean Blue Chromium
Anthraquinone Blue
Viridian Green Hue (Oooh a GREEN!)

Oh we are having fun now!

Talk to you again, soon!


What paint can do

Discovering the joy of painting is like learning a new song. You learn the notes, the tempo, rhythm, where to breathe, where to be fast or slow, to pause and go. Theres a time for loud and a time for soft. Painting is the same but it’s in another language. I’m working on some little fun paintings right now that are helping me uncover some interesting color combos, discover the power of gray, and when to choose a cool one or create a warm one. I’m putting more paint on the canvas than in past work. Maybe this is obvious, but when you get enough paint on the canvas to be a little dimensional, it looks more like, well more like a painting.

Putting down a layer of tissue paper or rice paper changes the surface enough for me and takes away the problematic canvas texture. Ofcourse tissue paper can also be a problem if there is an unfortunately placed wrinkle in it. But that can be overcome with…more paint, or even some molding medium.

I’ve made a decision to paint more and collage less, and also not to use images for collage…no photos or pictures from books. Ok Paint…teach me!