When is a workshop…well not a workshop? Part

I just spent a week in Arizona working with Katherine Chang Liu, an internationally recognized artist and teacher. Katherine calls what she does mentoring, not a workshop, partly because she does not demonstrate techniques.

Katherine does not dwell on an artist’s deficiencies, instead she identifies each individual’s strengths and guides them by building upon these strengths to form their personal visual language. Her ability to discover the essence of each artist’s work was amazing. At least in my own personal case, it was positive reinforcement.

Although my work space was totally mine to organize and set up, I was fortunate enough to be near two incredible abstract artists, Nancy Dini, and Jackie Roliardi. Nancy was working with texture and Jackie with shapes. Observing the various artists and how they worked was an added benefit of the week. You can find Jackie’s work at https://jackieroliardiart.artspan.com/


World View

Sometimes our view of the world is not so large.

“World View,” 23.5″ x 7.75″, mixed media on deep wood panel


My mother lives in assisted living and has Lewy Body Dementia. Her window looks out over the parking area. She knows when the ambulance comes with a flashing red light, when the workmen are cutting grass, when the aides take their midnight break. What she doesn’t see, she hears.

Her world is much more than the window, but sometimes especially at night when dementia overtakes her, I imagine it may seem that small.

It may seem like the whole world.



“Forget the Bad”

“Wild Ride,” 4″ x 4″, Mixed media on deep wood panel

As an English teacher turned artist, I’ve been excited about the integration of arts in education.

A recent article posted on the Southern California Public Radio website reported how the San Diego Unified School District was demonstrating their success in bringing the arts into regular subjects and sharing that success with teachers across the state. In this district teaching artists join classroom teachers once a week in 22 schools and co-teach lessons that weave art into the standard curriculum. Administrators believe that students will need this type of integrated education in the 21st century to be successful.

The research is there to back them up. Educators now understand that arts integration has many benefits in addition to creative expression. Two were explained by author Amanda Koonlaba in a February 2015 article in Education Week: it helps students learn and retain knowledge and allows them an alternate form to demonstrate understanding. It may also reduce the achievement gap for economically disadvantaged students.

But more dramatic was her story about one of her students. Koonlaba said she asked her elementary class what kinds of arts lessons they had enjoyed in their core subjects. One young student explained that he loved visual art because creating helped him “forget the bad,” and he needed that “more than once a week.”

So do I.