Artist on a Mission-Light


Watercolor sketch of 27th World Championship Fireknife

Without light there is darkness. Light in a painting creates value. Without light there would be no shadow side of an object. When light is blocked, we get cast shadows which create depth and interest in a painting. When you put the lightest light by the darkest dark, you draw attention to that spot. By manipulating values, you can guide the eye around your painting.

We went to the World Fireknife Competition. We watched the Womens’s Competition and the Men’s Preliminaries. How would I capture the energy of the drums and the fire spinning in the darkness. A painting becomes much more than what you see with your eyes. The experience of being at the competition adds a depth to your painting. You remember the beat of the drums and the smell of the fire, the flame spitting on the floor and streaking across in a line of fire. You wonder about the properties of fire as you see the contestants put the flaming Fireknife on their feet and to their lips.

‘I tried to capture the flickering of the flame by letting my brush dance across the watercolor paper. I loved capturing the form of the dancer by the light cast on his torso and the back edge getting lost in the darkness.


Clouds over the ocean in Hawaii.

As artists, we try to capture what we feel and see around us. There was a quote by President Henry B. Eyring which was displayed with his watercolors at BYU Idaho: “My motivation in all of my varied creative work seems to have been a feeling of love. I felt the love of a Creator who expects His children to become like Him—to create and to build.”


A sketch from 2 1/2” x 4 1/4” sketch book. “Where Are You Headed?”

”…..but the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light,…” Isaiah 60:19 So as plants turn to catch the light, we should turn our lives towards the Savior Jesus Christ and towards more kindness, service and watching out for one another.  Mahalo.


#Jesus Christ. #BYU-Hawaii #watercolor #light #sketching #World Championship Fireknife

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Is there a trick to learning watercolor?

Morning Cup 9”x12” Watercolor

I remember in junior high loving the way watercolor went on the paper. I was painting flowers and the way the paint mixed with the water was beautiful. My use of watercolor was sporadic. Later on I thought that watercolor would make brighter illustrations for children’s books than the guache I was using. So off to a watercolor class.

There are a lot of rules with watercolor and some myths out there like watercolor is so unforgiving. When I took that first watercolor class, the paint was not doing what I wanted it to do. My painting didn’t look like I wanted it to look like. It was frustrating. At that point if I had listened to my frustrations, I would have quit the painting and missed out on years of joy discovering watercolor.

Sometimes the best way to learn something is to dive in and use the medium. That’s what I did with watercolor, I dived in and learned how the paint mixed with the water. I learned what happened if I added more water and I saw what happened when the paint was added fresh to a wet spot on the painting. I have a lot of tools in my watercolor toolbox. Mostly I learned from the day to day painting of the things that grabbed my attention. So now do I know everything there is to know about watercolor? No. That is the joy of a creative life. There is always something else to learn.

Hiking Watchman’s 9”x12” Watercolor

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After the Critique

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Robert Henri, in the book “The Art Spirit” said, “The technique learned without a purpose is a formula which when used, knocks the life out of any ideas to which it is applied.”

So there is a lot of self direction in art. What you learn from a critique should lead you in a direction of self improvement. A lot of the changes in my art have come about from a serendipitous popping of ideas into my head. All those things that I learn are bubbling around in my head just waiting for me to pull them out and use them. So when I recognize a problem with my art, it’s like when I recognize a problem in my life, I try to see what I need to do to become a better, kinder person. I say to myself, what if I tried this? Would this make me a better artist? What if I didn’t have negative thoughts about the neighbors’s pet pig who is eating my butternut squash out of my garden, would that make me a better person? Life and art is a journey of discovery.

There is great joy to be found in the journey. Another quote from Robert Henri, “Order is perceived by the man with a creative spirit. It is achieved by the man who sincerely attempts to express himself and thus naturally follows organic law.”

What are you doing to creatively attempt to express yourself?



#RobertHenri #TheArtSpirit #critiques #art #watercolor #improvingyourart

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Catching up with Some Old Friends

I was able to pick up a few paintings that had been on display at the West Bountiful City Offices while I was gone on my mission. They have been under quarantine for the past few months so nobody was able to get out and see them. I had not seen them for a year and a half. It was like meeting old friends after a long absence.

We get into the heat of painting and look at our pictures with such a critical eye. It’s nice to see them afresh and just enjoy them and take joy in the fact that you painted them and they are better than you remember. If you would like to take a look at five of these paintings, you can check out the video on my you tube channel. I found the lady above in Durango, Colorado. Here is the link: “Looking at 5 Watercolors”

#watercolor #durangocolorado #newyork #ordervilleutah #zionsnationalpark #scottsdalearizona

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Best of Show and How to Handle a Critique

So “Ohana Hands” won Best of Show at the Utah Watercolor Societies Small Works Show. It is hanging with the show at the Ogden Depot. I hope you get a chance to go up and check out the show. It hangs until February 26th. I’m throwing up a bit of confetti.

Also below is the list of things that I talked about at the Utah Watercolor Society’s Monthly Meeting. I had a great time critiquing paintings with Kristi Grussendorf. Here are some things to think about when you are getting a critique, whether it’s for your illustrating, writing or paintings.

How to handle a Critique Without losing your Cool

Whether you are a writer, illustrator or artist critiques can be beneficial for your progress and improvement. They can help you see things that you wouldn’t see otherwise. Here are a few hints.

  1. Spend more time listening than commenting. Don’t spend so much time making excuses that you lose the benefits of the critiquers comments.
  2. Take notes so you can go over the comments later when the emotions are not so high.
  3. Be prepared that the comments might bring up something that you were not aware of.
  4. Be prepared that the comments might bring up something that you were aware of but didn’t want to address.
  5. Be prepared for more work and ideas to use on future paintings.
  6. Do not let the critique discourage you from future painting and creating. Use it as a trampoline to bounce you positively into the next project.
  7. Be prepared that you might not agree with the critique but they might be seeing something that is wrong with your painting that if you take the time to look carefully, will lead you to see something that needs to be fixed that might effect what they are seeing and saying.
  8. Go over you notes later. Don’t just leave them in your sketchbook but bring them out and go over them. Learn from them.
    9, Take joy in creating and don’t listen to your inner critic that can tell you the negative things about the creative process and your ability. Improvement comes from diving in and continuing to paint and create.
    10. Number 10 because you don’t want to end up on number 9.

Utah Watercolor Society

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Capturing the Passing Landscapes

I love being the passenger as our car is driving across the country. There is a never ending variety of views that whip past the car window.  When I’m passing through an interesting area I’ll pull out my camera and take random shots. I never know what I have until I get a chance to download the photos and check them out on my laptop. Sometimes the area is just right. The lighting is just right. I can capture a snippet of life that lies just off the road. There is the home or farm outbuildings, the evidence of the people who live there. I love doing these 6” by 18” watercolors of life just off the road.

Here are three of those watercolors. 


“Flat Top Mountain” 6”x18” framed watercolor on watercolor paper


“Storm Clouds Over Illinois Farm” 6”x18” watercolor on watercolor paper.



“Lone Tree in a Green Pasture” 6”x18” watercolor on watercolor paper.

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A Pencil and a Piece of Paper

A page from my sketchbook

Some of the most asked questions in workshops and demonstrations I teach are “What brush are you using?” “What paints are you using?” “What paper are you using?” One of the nice things about art is that with a pencil or pen and a piece of paper or sketch book you can take your art anywhere. You can pull them out and discreetly practice capturing the scene before you. You can focus on value, motion, humor. You can sketch ideas that are floating around in your head. You can work on design principles. You can work on story ideas. 


Thumbnails and details

Elder Gong and his wife Susan gave a devotional for young adults in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints. Sister Gong quoted President Nelson: “Education is the difference between wishing you could help other people and being able to.” That’s what practicing art does for me. The more I practice and immerse myself in art, the more likely I am to put the ideas in my head down on paper in some sort of a pleasing manner. Elder Gong said, “Art inspires new ways to see God’s goodness.” Those ideas and the ability to see the beauty around us has become a life-long pursuit for me.

“No Room”

‘Here is the link for the devotional if you want to watch it. Devotional

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The Hope of Christmas

“While Shepaherds Watched” 10”x10” Giclee on canvas, gallery wrapped.

What emotions the shepherds must have felt that night. It was a night no different than any other. They are out doing what they’ve always done, watching their flocks. The quiet sounds of night surround them.  Then the heavens light up and they are filled with fear. They were seeing things that they’d never seen before. They were told to fear not. Did the fear go away at once or did it slowly dissipate as the message from the angel filled them with wonder.

I’ve been in the middle of the Tabernacle Choir when they sang a Christmas Song, the music surrounded my whole being. did the music that night from the Heavenly Choir wrap their shepherd souls and fill them with hope.

I love Brene’ Brown’s quote on hope: “hope isn’t an emotion, it’s a way of thinking.” She talks about Hope happens when we set realistic goals, we can figure out how to achieve those goals, and we believe in ourselves enough to join the struggle.

The shepherds had hope. It motivated them to go see. What an opportunity that night to go see. It changed their lives. They left praising God.

What will your hope motivate you to do this year? Let’s bring some joy and kindness into our little corner of the world. 

Continue reading

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Artist on a Mission – Aloha Oe


So it’s time to take off our missionary badges. It’s been an interesting time. We have been able to experience the Aloha of the people working and serving at the Brigham Young University Hawaii, the Polynesian Cultural Center, and the Laie Hawaii Temple Visitors Center. We’ve grown to love students from all over the world, from Guatemala to Mongolia, from Tonga to Japan, from New Zealand to Texas. We’ve served and grown to love the steadfastness and perseverance of other senior missionaries. I’ve learned that the Lord has need of a crazy artist along with her religion teaching husband.

We had our world shaken up when we were instantly called home during a world-wide pandemic but still able to serve remotely online. I’ve taught art classes in person and on zoom (dealing with bad internet, bad vision, new adjustments for teachers and students). I’ve felt the love of the Lord for me and people all over the world. I’ve felt His influence for good in my life and in the life of those beautiful people around me. I’ve heard prayers given and seen prayers answered. There is so much good and beauty in this world.

So we’ve finished up at home but still able to serve. May God keep you all safe and able to help those around you. It bounces back into your life with blessings more than you can number.


“On the Road to Emmaus” watercolor with collage and varnished surface.

Here is a link to my latest you tube video “On the Road to Emmaus”.

What will I do after my mission? Same thing I did before and during. PAINT.

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Artist on a Mission – With Full Purpose of Heart


Morning Quiet 20” x 15” watercolor on paper.

In 3 Nephi 10:6 it talks about full purpose of heart, returning to God with full purpose of heart. I think that is the way we should paint, with full purpose of heart. When I look around this beautiful world at God‘s creations, I am surrounded by inspiration. Whether it is the quiet stillness of a morning at Lake Powell where the water mirrors the beauty surrounding it or an older gentleman in an English market making his way through the square with his cane, I’m surrounded by paintings. 

When we paint with full purpose of heart, we think only on the painting. We don’t let worries or negative thoughts come into our brain. We know where we want to head and we go for it. Confidence shows in the painting. We don’t want fear and timidity to show up. We want the pure fun of putting paint on paper to shine out from the painting.  Even though we know where we want to go, I get great satisfaction from seeing the magic that appears before my eyes as I paint. No one is more amazed than I with the outcome. Gods creations give me the inspiration and I give thanks to Him for eyes to see and hands to hold a paint brush. 


Painting in progress of man in front of a restaurant in England.

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Artist on a Mission – Making Straightway On a Zigzagged Course


This little bear has been peeking in and out of a story.

This character has been growing in my imagination. I’ve worked with how this little bear should look. You have to dive into the work and get started before you can make any progress. Here is your goal and you start down that road and then there is a bend or a curve. You have to be open to the voice in your head that may say, what would happen if you tried this? But those ideas do not come until you’ve started the work.

Should the bow be in the middle of the bears head? What would happen if you put the bows on the end of her ears? What should she be wearing? It’s a zig zag course back and forth between the writing and the art. Many sketches are made in the sketch book to see what captures your eye and why and continually trying to make the sketch better.

But you have to start and you have to have enough faith and determination that you can keep going. You have to believe that the vision in your head can become a finished story somewhere at the end of your zig zagged journey.


New Watercolor Video Available on You Tube

“Using Masking Tape in Watercolor“ Here is the latest watercolor video that shows some nice ways to use masking tape in watercolor painting.

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