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Monday, November 22, 2010

Watercolor Classes

Watercolor Classes For Adults

Artist Deborah Bollman-O’Sullivan and  Front Street Gallery are pleased to present a watercolor painting course for adults. We will cover basic techniques such as getting to know our materials, wet on wet, wet on dry, finding basic shapes, basic color mixing and color value. We will then jump in and explore the wonderful world of watercolor.

Students will work from still life and photographic reference material.

Come and join us for a fun, creative evening in a relaxing environment. All levels welcome.

Classes are taught by professional painter Deborah Bollman-O'Sullivan.

Classes will run for 4 weeks. Tuesday evenings from 6:30 -9:30. Classes start Tuesday, November 23.

4– 3 hour classes- $175
Drop in fee- $38.75

Art supplies provided by student. Materials list available upon sign-up

©Deborah Bollman-O'Sullivan  

 Watercolor, Available

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Studio News and a Poll

 Art Exibition and Studio Tour   

     I have quite a bit going going these days. I am getting several paintings completed for the Friends of the Great Swamp Art Celebration in Pawling, NY on Saturday, October 23 and Sunday, October 24th. The event culminates with an art auction on Sunday. The FROGS Art exhibit is part of The Arteast Open Studio Tour in Dutchess County, NY.  It is a beautiful time of year to get in the car and do the tour while Mother Nature still has on her finest colors!

New Name and a Poll

 As many of you know I have been working hard a making a new life for myself as a single, working mom (an oxymoron) and I have made the decision to go back to using my maiden name. I have spent  a lot of time and effort branding myself with my married name. Now I need to re-brand myself and my art swith my new (old) name.  have already started using my maiden name, which is Bollman,  in the middle and in a year I will drop the O'Sullivan. Not a drop of Irish in me! Italian (raised Italian) and German all the way. -)  So in the spirit of fresh starts and new beginnings I need to come up with a new name for my business. So here is where I could use your help. I set up a poll for you guys to help me decide what name to go with.  I am thinking that by using a studio name I can make this more seamless.
One of the names a particularly like is Aquarelle Studio- 

Webster defines Aquarelle as...

~French, from obsolete Italian acquarella (now acquerello), from acqua water, from Latin aqua
(pronounced "ak-we-rell") - transparent watercolour.

The poll is over there on top right hand side of this blog. So, please, take a second and vote for your favorite name.

    I have finally gotten through having a nasty cold and  have just about gotten back into my regular late night groove again.  I thought I would post this work in progress of a Dressage  horse. The reference photo is courtesy of one of my collectors, Kathy. Thank you for use of your fabulous photos! The subject of this painting is of  black horse. Always a tough color to paint without making things dull and too dark. I choose to run with the violet and blue highlights on this gorgeous horse.

The initial sketch

Medium values

Almost completed. I need to come in with the final darks and detail.

Stay posted for the final on this one and don't forget to vote in my poll! Thanks! Til next time!


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Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Border Collie Sketch

   Today's painting  is a small 5 x5 inch watercolor painting of a Border Collie. I have been down and out with a cold but I managed to get this done.  Painted on heavy 300 lb Arches Hot Press paper this little gem will be available to go home with it's new owner for $55 which includes free Priority Mail shipping to thh U.S.  Email me for more info or click to purchase.

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Monday, September 13, 2010

Showjumper Painting Is Completed!

 The showjumper painting is completed.! The title is Jump. (Thank you to  Nilesh for the name!)I am really please with how this one came out.I chose not to get too fussy with the details. The colors in real life are more saturated than what you see here. The equine painting is a very large watercolor measuring 22 x 30 (unmatted, unframed size), and is painted on a full sheet of Arches 300 lb Hot Press paper. Arches is one of the finest papers available and this is a very heavy weight substrate. I am selling this unframed. It will require matting, framing and glazing (glass or plexiglass).

  Jumper has a ton of impact and captures a horse at the top of an oxer. It would look super in your living room, tack room or farm office!I have detailed photos for anyone interested in investing in this piece. Email me for info  $1400 includes shipping and insurance or Click to purchase


Monday, September 06, 2010

Children's Art Classes & Showjumper WIP 5

     I have been preparing for the See/Hear Virtual Art Exhibit that will be held at the John Kane House on E. Main Street, Pawling, New York on September 18th. See/Hear, a virtual gallery where artists digitally display and discuss their artwork in a fun and fast paced slide show format.
At the end of our presentation there will be a question and answer session with the artists. Refreshments will be catered by Chef Paul Rubin of Dutch Oven.
Feel free to share with family and friends! The Showjumping WIP that I have been posting here and on Facebook will be part of my presentation and the actual painting, beautifully matted and framed, will be available for viewing.

Here is the latest update on the Showjumper. The background is not blue it is actually white. I am just about finished with this. I added some more glazes to the eye and started the bridle. The bridle is simply a sweep of the brush. I did a bit of lifting and a few more light glazes of color. The last step is finishing up the eye and around the ears, paintings the boots, hooves and jump standards and then of course I will add my drips and dribbles of paint! :-) Getting into the final details is probably my favorite part of painting.
     Showjumper is still untitled. Name suggestions are welcome! Just leave your idea in the comments section!

Children's Art Classes Forming in Patterson, NY

    Classes are now forming for children's art classes at the Front Street Gallery in Patterson, NY. For more information, please, add your name to the mailing list below  or contact the gallery directly at (845) 490-4542

Have a great day!


Deborah O'Sullivan Art
Epona Studio

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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Showjumper WIP #4

     I headed out of dodge with my dog for a few hours today to recharge my batteries. We went for a hike to a favorite spot where I never run into anybody. I've been feeling a bit burned out the past few days with so much going on with my studio, my son and summer activities. Then it was back to the studio and I had several uninterrupted hours of painting.
    So here is where I left off. After this dries I'll put more time into this later this evening. This painting is a watercolor and the support is a full sheet of Arches Hot Press 300lb paper. For those of you who missed the previous posts see my earlier blog posts for photos of the progression of this piece. I am really getting in there with the darks. I am using a really strong mix of alizarin crimson, ultramarine blue and burnt sienna. The pigments are not thoroughly mixed on the palette .  Instead I charge a large squirrel mop and really load the brush so the colors can mingle on the paper. This prevents the darks from becoming flat and dull.
I am really careful to keep a lot of soft edges at this point by wetting and softening with a brush any hard lines that appear. I save most of the hard edges for the final details or any place I want to place emphasis.

    The eye is now getting it's initial glazes. I start by working wet on wet. This keeps soft edges as I start to describe the shape of the eye and ears and find the expression. In addition the values around the muzzle and nostril have been increased. As I push the darks the initial lightest glazes start to take on a very cool glow. This is the part I love about watercolor.

Stay tuned! This is coming down to the finish!  You can click on any of these mages to get an enlarged view.

Deborah O'Sullivan Art
Epona Studio

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Showjumper WIP #3 & Children's Art Classes

 Showjumper WIP #3

   Today's post is the latest update on the Showjumper WIP (Work In Progress) . I have to admit I approached this last night with a LOT of trepidation! I am liking it so far and watercolor is not very forgiving.  I got into the zone working n this stage where I  just lost track of time. I love it when that happens

    My original plan had been to  do the eye and get rid of the creepy-mask-horse and just get some life into the piece.  I can paint eyes in my sleep.  But... because I was afraid to get in there with some darks I knew that THAT was where I needed to start.  I got a lot further then I had planned and when I took a break a breathed a sigh of relief! I haven't killed it yet!

When I  lay down the glazes in a piece by looking for different shapes  I can get away from fussy details because  the viewers eye fills in the rest of the information. I do like to use unorthodox colors in my horses and  even though I ramp up the saturation in the initial glazes I will go over all of it with a light uniform glaze of ,say, Burnt Umber to pull it all together.

You can get a larger view of the image by clicking on it.

Watercolor Classes For Kids

My children's watercolor art classes are a go! Starting in September I will be teaching art classes at the Front Street Gallery in Patterson, NY. I will offering 6 week courses  for homeschoolers during the school day  and after school classes for children attending public school

We will cover basic techniques, such as getting to know our materials, wet on wet, wet on dry, finding basic shapes, basic color mixing and color value. We will then jump in and explore the fun world of watercolor. Students will work from still life and photograph reference material.

If you have an interest or would like to sign up , please, add your name to the mailing list for information and updates.

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Jumper WIP - Continued

     I hope today's blog post finds everyone well.I have been doing great. Things are moving along smoothly and after quite a few setbacks I am onto Plan B. It is all good.

  I have been getting quite a lot of painting done these days. The previously posted jumper WIP has been coming along nicely.  At this stage I am continuing to add glazes to the horse, finding the shapes of the light and shadow. I started adding darks to the rider. Painting people is my nemesis and watercolor is very unforgiving. If you mess up ....well...oh well.  Do over. So with that thought in mind I am getting the worst of the rider over with.

Now I am adding some darker values to the horse. This really brings out the light. Adding darks is one of my favorite parts of working with watercolor. It is the opposite of working with acrylics where you save the lights for the end.
    The eye still has that mask like quality to it. So my next step is to go in and get some life into the painting and detail the eye. The horse is really looking like it is emerging from the page now.

     I have some decisions to make at this point. #1 is the background. I usually have a pretty well thought out plan of what I am going to do relative to a background when working this large in watercolor. But not this time.  I seem to enjoy flying by the seat of my pants these days.  :) There is a wing of a jump on the bottom right corner and I may let the paints fly and run and do it's watercolor thing to keep it loose on that section.  But the rest? I am kind of liking the white but we'll see how it goes.

   On other studio news. I am once again a participating artist at the Sea/Hear (aka Slide Slam)  that will be held September 18 at the Kane House on E. Main Street in Pawling, NY. The exhibition will provide a unique opportunity to hear directly from the artist, their thought process, motivation, experience and influences.  My next blog post will provide more information on this fun event.

Til next time!


Friday, August 20, 2010

Watercolor Jumper WIP

     After working with acrylics for the past week I find I must get back to the watercolors. It is my favorite medium. I am once again working large and this painting measures in at 22 x 30. This is a full sheet of Arches 300 lb Hot Press paper. Which is my favorite support and is a super heavyweight, archival, smooth paper. It is really fun to push the colors around on the paper. If I dampen the paper first and drop in pigment the colors will mix and mingle on their own creating wonderful effects.

     I always think it is kind of cool in watercolors how my horses start to appear out of the paper! :-)  This first step is the intial glazes of color. Just trying to find the light. I went ahead and added the darks of the riders helmet because I had such a nice mix of colors left on my palette. I don't know how I  made that one..a lttle of this...a little of that. I believe the primary colors are burnt sienna, alizarin crimson and Ultramarine blue but then I dropped in some partially mixed violet and let it mingle on the page.
Untitled, watercolor 22 x 30 WIP 2


      In watercolors I work from light to dark. I rely on the white of the paper for the white as opposed to acrylics where you mix with white paint. I use mostly transparent pigment. I do sometimes use some of the cadmiums at the very end of a painting when I am adding the details. The transparency of watercolor paint is what gives a painting such a beautiful glow.

  This horse has the scarey mask thing going on because I haven't addressed the eye yet. Once I have all of the lightest values completed I will move right in on the eye to give it some life. Then next comes the middle values then the darkest values and the fine detail. Not sure about the background yet...I am playing with idea of leaving it white or perhaps just the lightest hint of color..

    Going backwards here. This next image is the initial sketch. The rainbow of color here is due to upping the saturation in Photoshop so that you can actually see the sketch. The paper is white. I do a pretty light sketch first with wc.

      I am going to need a title for this piece so suggestions are welcome. All of these images are clickable so that you see a larger version. Til next time- Have a great day!


Deborah O'Sullivan Art

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Victory Gallop

     I mentioned in a previous post that the model for the painting Victory Gallop was a horse that I used to have named Henry. I received several emails from you readers asking to know more about him. SO here  goes.
      Henry was 1/2 Irish Draft and 1/2 Selle Francais. He was imported from Ireland when he was just turning 4. He did not show much talent as a jumper so he was brought here as a Dressage prospect because he had 3 really nice gaits. It was love at first sight. I adored this horse. He was tempermental, funny, sensitive, smart and so willing to try anything that I asked him to do.
     For the first few weeks after he got there he was uncatchable when turned out. He had been rushed as a youngster and was overfaced with big jumps so being ridden was not something he enjoyed.
     I started out by bringing him lots of treats and I would just sit with him in his paddock. He got to the point, eventually, where he would come galloping flat out to me whenever I called and he would come to a sliding stop just inches in front me. He would follow me around like a puppy. I let him just be a horse for the first few months and developed a really good relationship with him on the ground before I even attempted to ride him.
    The first few rides were rocky at best, He had not been started well and instead of being taught what was expected of him he had been forced. So he just didn't understand basic aids. When he didn't understand something he would stop toss him head up and down several times and stomp his right front foot. A lot of trainers might want to smack him forward and get on with it. But I felt that this horse had been frightened with that kind of riding and needed patience and a chance to work things out with a calm, patient no-rush attitude. I would let him get over his little tantrum drop the reins and just ask him to walk on. Then I would back up a step and ask him to something really simple that I knew he could do well. By using this approach he learned to trust me. When he "got" something you could see how pleased he would be with himself when he got praised.
     When he progressed through the levels in dressage if something was a little challenging he still would do his little head toss and foot stomp. I used to joke that the tempermental side of him was his French side coming out and at those times he was known as Henri (pronounced with a accent).:)
     He eventually showed great talent as a jumper and we would play over the jumps but I decided that we could continue down the path with him as my Dressage partner. He was a BIG boy 17.1 hands and was just a late bloomer. One day he started having trouble getting his 3 tempis. For you non-Dresaage folks ..three tempis are multiple flying changes of lead every three strides at collected canter.It requires a lot of strength and precision from the horse to do them. Henry started have trouble with them one day. He had spectacular flyng changes and would really jump through them. But now he felt funny like he couldn't organize his hind end to even do one. Over the next few days he started to resist work and he seemed afraid to even go forward under saddle. He, also, got very clingy to me on the ground.
     It was eventually determined that he had EPM which is a protozoa that attacks the nervous system.  I miss him terribly.... He was such a great horse.

   I think one of the reasons I got out of riding was that I went through a string of loosing my own personal horses to a variety of illnesses and freak accidents. I get too emotionally attached and it just got too hard having to make the decisions to put the horses down or to give them up. I needed a break. I continued teaching for a while but then moved on to painting them.

     This is photo of Henry right after he arrived from quarantine. He is just shy of 4 years old (he had tiny little M & M teeth!), already 16.3 hands. I always seemed to end up with BIG horses. He has the big head that so many Irish horses have. Once he developed a good topline everything came into proportion. Oh, and he was not over in the knee..he is just standing funny in this photo.

      Last evening I worked on Victory Gallop for a few hours. I think that I have just about completed this painting. I need to let this sit for a bit in a spot where I can see it for a few days so I can decide what needs a bit of tweaking. The area to the left of the eye appears be a little flat and dead to me so I may do a little something there.I tried to get a better photo but this still has some glare on it. Victory Gallop is 24 x 20, acrylic on gallery wrapped canvas. That means the canvas wraps around the sides of the wooden stretcher bars and the staples are on the back. I paint the sides so framing is not necessary but it would look gorgeous in a wide barn board or gold Plein air style frame. This is available for purchase. Email me if you are interested in giving it a home.

Deborah O'Sullivan Art

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Victory Gallop WIP (Work In Progress)

Victory Gallop-

    It is back to the acrylics and going large again. After painting so many small pieces last year I am feeling the need to break free and paint bigger. I love doing these very close-up compositions on large canvases. Victory Gallop is an acrylic and is a 24 x 20 canvas. I used a reference photo of a horse that I used to have named Henry. I lost him to EPM.

  The first photo is the initial sketch done with a Sharpie marker. When working in acrylic I have pretty much unlimited freedom to move things around and experiment because I can go over things. If this was a watercolor this would be a pretty detailed pencil sketch. Watercolor is not very forgiving, you pretty much have the one go to get it right. With acrylics I really enjoy "drawing" with the paint.

Next image I have layed down mostly medium values. The main idea being to cover the white of the canvas. There is nothing worse than I white canvas staring you down. *shiver* This is the stage now where I get to make decisions on where I am going with this.

This piece is tightening up pretty quickly. I put a long night into this and needed to wait for the glazes to dry. I defined the musculature and found most of my darks here. I am thinking the markings on the horse's face are competing with some of the elements of the composition.  You can see in the next image how I have changed some things around. The joy of acrylics!

The glare is awful here but you can get a good idea. I created a blaze instead of the star and snip that Henry had. I think it works better.  I will be mixing my whites to warm up his face as right now the blaze appears to stark to my eye. The rider is pretty much completed. I need to loosen up the color on the lapel. I left things very painterly with energetic brush strokes to convey the motion.

Writing about my art while I am creating it is an odd process for me because I don't really think when I paint. I tend to just throw color here and there and then all of a sudden the painting is just done! I should have this completed this evening and will post the final.

Til next time,

Deborah O'Sullivan Art

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Good Tutors and Good Students -Guest Blogger Charles Sluga

Fetch,-5x7 acrylic on cradled panel- SOLD

I am delighted to be able to present guest blogger Australian artist Charles Sluga. Charles is a wonderfully accomplished watercolorist and teacher. So without further ado....

Good Tutors and Good Students

I have been prompted to give my opinion because I conduct a lot of workshops both in Australia and overseas and have been teaching watercolour painting for many years. I have a number of pupils that have attended many of my workshops and continue to do so. Recently these people have been criticised or mocked because they choose to continue to come to my workshops. Mocked by students that seem to change their tutors as often as the wind changes.

So the question is - Should a student go to many different tutors to learn or should they stick to one? I think I have already indicated what I think, but let me expand on this.

Well from my experience and observation over twenty years of teaching I strongly recommend choosing one, but it is conditional. The student must try different classes until they find a tutor that they are happy with. A tutor than has the pupils best interest in mind and will push the student and point them in the right direction for them to discover their own way of expression...kind of like a guiding hand. A tutor that does not let his or her ego get in the way!

I think as a student if you find that your work merely looks like a second rate copy of the tutors work then I would suggest you find another tutor. It is not the tutors job to produce 'parrots" that mimic what they do. It is all about pushing, questioning and getting the students to explore possibilities until they start to discover themselves. If you can find a tutor that can do that then stick with them.

For those of you out there who criticise these students and call them
groupies, fans or try to convince them that they should go to someone
else, then I would say to you..."continue to go to your dozen tutors in
a dozen workshops and continue to produce inferior copies with no self have missed the whole point of being an artist and
the journey that it involves".

Having said that, if that is what you want to do...go ahead obviously satisfies some need, but be aware that others may wish to go further and demand more of themselves.

So in summary:
A good tutor:
  1. Someone who pushes you to question everything!
  2. Someone who does not paint by formula.
  3. Someone who will not spoon feed you.
  4. Someone who recognises your contribution.
  5. Someone who is not there to boost there own ego.
  6. Someone who takes there work seriously.
  7. Someone who plans lessons well.
  8. Someone who will give you time.
  9. Someone who believes they are still learning.
  10. Someone who doesn't want you to merely be a "parrot"
A good pupil:
  1. Someone who will work hard.
  2. Someone who will take risks.
  3. Someone who will work in between workshops
  4. Someone who will ask questions.
  5. Someone who will not only be interested in the final result.
  6. Someone who is persistent.
  7. Someone who is open minded.
  8. Someone who is not there to boost their own ego!
  9. Someone with a sense of humour.
  10. Someone who has a love of Art.
So these are just 10 points I consider important for both tutor and student (there are more!)

In closing I would like to congratulate of these so called "groupies" of mine who entered her first exhibition recently and won the award for best watercolour. The wonderful thing about that is that I had not input or influence over that painting. She did the whole thing on her own and it was her own expression in paint! Well done!
I also congratulate these group of students that do continue to come to my workshops and tours...I am looking forward to continuing the journey with have become not just students but friends! So let us all ignore the comments from others and continue to do what we do together and move forward!

By the way, just to make it clear - I don't mind who people go to! I am not saying it has to be me (because even though I am good :), my style of teaching may not suit everyone ). It is not about is about you...the student!
See you at the next workshop :)

This article is reproduced with permission.
Copyright 2010 - Charles Sluga

For more on Charles and to view or purchase artwork visit.....
Charles Sluga Website
Charles Sluga Blog

Deborah O'Sullivan Art

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Life Goes On

      I have been getting  emails from so many of you these past few months and I just want to express how much I appreciate the support from each and every one of you. It means a lot to to me to know that there are so many people sending me good mojo! I am doing really well.  This divorce has been coming on for a long time and I am in that place now where I am n ot even looking back. No regrets, no sorrow.  I don't feel anything anymore. It is not numb. Already went there. Not anger. Already did that. I am not.....well.......anything. I believe the word I am looking for is apathetic. Let me put on my Google fingers and look that up.... yup ...indifference. The opposite of love... for me.. would be indifference.  It is a great place for me to be with this. I am happy and I have an incredible sense of relief and freedom.
    My little boy is having a harder time of it lately and he so anxious to move to our new place. So keep sending him those virtual hugs.

Our moving date is coming up quickly and I am still looking for other sources of income. My art is selling well but I can't live soley on my art income yet. "Yet" being the operative word.  I'll get there! I do have a few really good possibilities in the works. I think I would also like to teach some riding lessons again. So all of my horsey friends..if you know of anything...Please, send it my way!  But I am open to any and all offers of any kind either locally or online. If you know of anything email me  I want to be able to completely support myself and my son asap.

So what does this have to do with art, horses or dogs? Well, my state of being has everything to do with what I create My art is becoming more spontaneous. I am having having fun painting again. My art is one of the ways I express myself and in that way my art helps define who I am.  You can always tell what kind of mood Deborah is in by what flies off the brush! I am increasing drawn to just working in watercolors now and painting the light. That elusive search for the light! It is so beautiful when you get it right.

This quick, little sketch is titled Pat's Rooster. Watercolor, 5 x 5 on Arches 30 lb Hot Press paper. This painting is heading off tomorrow to it's new home. Til next time ..have a great one!


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Bear Mountain and Framed Prints

A view from the tower

    It has been a couple of days since my last post so I thought I'd post a quick update before I go to bed. It is 1:30 a.m. and I am tired. I need to shift my days around and see if I can actually paint early in the morning. I have so much on my plate these days- between being a mom, painting, marketing, networking, packing for my move....there just does not seem to be enough hours in the day. 

     I headed out with my dog, Tess, to Bear Mountain today thinking it would be a fine day for plein air painting.  Boy, was I wrong. I need to pay closer attention to the weather forecast. What was I thinking? My brushstrokes were drying as fast as I layed them down. I did take some nice photos so I may try a studio painting. Thankfully, I had brought a picnic, a blanket, lots of water and a good book and I just settled myself under a tree and had a  really nice few hours! Even Tess wanted to just chill out. I did climb the tower and the views were just incredible. Plus, it was nice and cool in there.

Bear Mountain Tower

    I have two framed prints that are looking for walls to hang on! The first print image is a reproduction of a Bullmastiff watercolor titled - Waiting. The original is sold.  This image  measures
5 x 7 and is matted and framed with a black enameled metal frame. $30 includes shipping to the US.
If you would to purchase or see more photos email me!


    The second reproduction is one of my best selling giclee dog reproductions. The unframed watercolor original is available here. The painting is titled A Matter of Trust. This is an archival 10 x 8 reproduction printed on acid free paper with archival inks and is framed, matted and signed. $50 includes shipping.  For more photos or to purchase drop me an email,

A Matter of Trust
   I am really off to bed now. Very sleepy! Good night!

All the best,
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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Leaving Things Incomplete

 Today's post is from Robert Genn's Twice A Week Newsletter. If you don't already subscribe, I highly recommend that you do. Click To Subscribe . I love what he has to say about leaving paintings incomplete. Enjoy!!

Leaving Things Incomplete

July 13, 2010

Dear Deborah,

These days I've been rededicating myself to less overworking and more understatement. In other words, trying to leave my work fresher, even at the expense of being incomplete. I believe it's an idea that a lot of us could profit by.

We all know the danger of keeping on going--adding detail or complexity when the idea we started out with is well enough expressed without the fiddling. In our innate human desire for perfection we can forget the hand of the artist, even the struggling hand, and the poetic justice of paucity. These elements have value for the second half of the creative partnership--the eyes of the viewer.

Here in Japan it's the principle of "Mujo" (moo-joh). It stems from the ancient Zen concept of transience and uncertainty. A related Japanese word is Mikansei (me-kahn-say-ee) which means "the state of being incomplete." In many ways, the western convention of abstract art fills this bill. In abstraction, you can't always tell exactly what it is you are looking at, and there lies its charm. Mystery builds viewer interest.

The Japanese are not always prepared to go that far. The suggestion of a waterfall or a few cursory brushstrokes indicating a tree or a flower may suffice to communicate a motif.

Here's how to put Mujo to work for yourself: Before starting in with the "busyness" of working, stop to think of the simplest and freshest way a passage might be conceived and executed. Very often a move up to a larger brush, together with a careful mixing of the desired colour, and an elegant, well-contemplated stroke or two can carry the day. Leaving a little primer showing through, or a slight error, a slub or a bump--so what. Even an inadvertent dribble-down or an indecisive painterly scrabble gives life where dullness might otherwise prevail.

We sometimes hear the argument that this sort of incompleteness or roughness only appeals to other artists. I don't think so. I find our world to be loaded and cocked with creator wannabees. We artists represent the last bastion of the hand of man. For others to see art in its freshness, failings and incompleteness may be the greater part of our winning hand.

Best regards,


PS: "The power of the mujo principle lies in quietly, serenely letting the viewer participate in the representation." (Boye Lafayette De Mente, from his excellent overview "Elements of Japanese Design")

Esoterica: Today I attended a show that included traditional flower arrangement (ikebana). Unlike the western burst of saturated colour and riots of variety--the whole garden in your face--Japanese floral designs tend to be sparse, subtle and simple. A single, tall orchid of an incredible, delicate colour set off by a few dry sticks that twist and struggle alongside, all set, off center, in a delicate and unobtrusive earthen vase. Such is the nature of understatement--an opportunity for the viewer to slow down, take part in, and love.
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Posted painting for the day. A super quick "incomplete" sketch from my Alvaro Castagnet workshop. This a watercolor using 3 colors...Ultramarine Blue, Burnt Sienna, Alizarin Crimson.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Rapture.. The Latest Painting by Deborah O'Sullivan

     This gorgeous weather has found me outside the studio working on my plein air skills. It has become quite an addiction! I adore getting out there with the watercolors and seeking out great painting spots.
     I always have two or three pieces going in the studio and I thoroughly enjoy working late into night with my music and Border Collie to keep me company. I have always been a bit of a night owl and find it easier to just get in the zone at night.
     I started  on this latest painting a while back and just hit a wall as to where I was going with it. So I let it sit in a spot where I could constantly just look at it to see what I could come up with. A few nights ago I just popped it onto the easel and literally with no plan just started throwing paint at it.  Literally!  I LOVE the drips on the bottom right and the way the rider just fades away. The horse is my focal point and I just wanted her to pop and not compete with the rider.
     This is much larger than I usually work. Almost a full sheet of Arches Hot Press 140lb paper. Available for sale unframed. The price will go up when I have it framed. MUCH more affordable to ship unframed! $850 includes shipping and insurance.  If you would like to give Rapture a home or would like more photos drop me an email! email  I will be happy to give you the details.Or click here to purchase


All the best,


Wednesday, July 07, 2010

100 Degrees and Reworking Paintings

     Here in the NorthEast we are experiencing the mother of all heat waves.To borrow a line fro the movie Biloxie Blues..this is like Africa hot! One hundred degrees is just...well... unnecessary. What do people do down south who have to endure this kind of weather on a more regular basis?

I am definitely a cool weather person. Love my sweaters.

So what are all of you doing to keep cool? I took my son to a movie, went to a support group meeting and am planning to pull an all nighter in the studio. Okay..maybe a half nighter. I have an acrylic painting of a horse in half pass that I have been staring at for the past few weeks trying to decide what to do with it. I love the horse but the backgrounds just irks me. So I am planning on reworking this one. I like the arena but the rest has to go.  I will post the results as soon as I finish it! Oh , that is if I can figure out how to post photos from my iphone! :)

Now for my question of the day. Does anyone know if you can post photos to Blogger from your iphone? I can't seem to find any info online on how to do this. Anyone?

Now I know I said I would be posting details from the Alvaro Castagnet workshop but I have lots of images that I would like to include.  makes for a more interesting blog post. Don't you agree?

Stay cool!   :)


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