Why Ribbons

Ribbonribbons-with-arrowss teach us how to draw and/or paint everything that’s organic.  Things that twist, roll over, bend, fold….all those amorphous shapes that we encounter when painting fabric, hair, waves, birds wings, flowers and leaves, the twists and turns that tree branches take….I could go on and on.



When we fully understand how the edges of a ribbon functions to describe the loops and bends, we’ll be able to create beautiful folds, waves…..folding leaves, curving – bending flower petals.






















































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Boxes Grow into…..

And the purpose for learning how boxes function grows into more complicated shapes.  If laying a box down flat on a table or receding in space, then doing these
exercises will be a huge challenge.

Perhaps I have gotten ahead of myself, or left out a step.

Everything we draw begins with 3 simple shapes….3-basic-shapes
learn to identify these shapes within anything you are trying to replicate (i correct proportion) and you can create very complex structures accurately. Check out my Drawing Workbook .










As we get more and more confident about increasing the complexity of our objects, we notice that the
two “P”s – PROPORATION & PERSPECTIVE  come into play.

“Observing and translating the relationships between the various shapes and objects, one to another and to the picture plane, will give you proper proportion and placement. The odds of reproducing your compositional design correctly dramatically increases the more accurately you observe, interpret, and translate these relationships.”  That’s a Maggie quote.
Whew, what a mouthful, but truer words were never spoken.



Getting the right proportion of one thing to another is so valuable to making a really solid composition. The basics of good composition is abstraction, breaking things down into simple shapes and values.




More about that later!






These are a set of boxes that fit one into the next (like the Russian dolls).  Try this.  You can get the boxes at Hobby Lobby.




And now about perspective!


I’m always on the lookout for things that are readily available to learn from and, I don’t know about you, but I always find there’s cardboard boxes in my life.

What great instructor’s they are for perspective.  All those flaps going multiple directions.  Oh, yeah! Just try it.  Put a really strong spot light on them and limit surrounding light so you see only light and dark shapes.  cardboard-boxes-1

See the painting at the bottom of this blog.  It’s one of my favorite from my “Painting Puzzles” collection.  PS: the cardboard   box is not the only box shape in this painting.  The bench is 2 boxes…one on top of the othercardboard-boxes-1cardboard-boxes-2.

And this takes us into how I learned to paint loosely….what most of the artist’s that seek me out what to know.Tune in for my “Two Football Teams”….my next blog.

Enjoy tackling boxes!






























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Hints for Oils

Mediums – the most misunderstood word in oil painting.  There are 3 components we use when painting in oils.  All 3 are often referred to as “mediums”.  Here is a description of each one, when and how they are best used:



Medium #1: Solvents  LEAN

Medium #2: Oil Paint  NEUTRAL

Medium #3: Oil Painting Mediums  FAT




Solvents (often referred to as paint thinner or brush cleaner) are used for thinning paint and preliminary brush cleaning.  These solvents are either turpentine or mineral spirit (petroleum products) based.  The mineral spirit products are marketed under a variety of manufacturer names, such as:  Gambsol (Gamblin product); DaVinci; OMS; Masterpiece; etc.  Turpentine products are usually marketed as such.  Be aware that Turpenoid is NOT a turpentine product.  Acrylic paint can be successfully used UNDER oil paints to tone a canvas and/or set in images.  It is strongly suggested that acrylics not be applied thickly or built up into thick layers, as it doesn’t dry as quickly as previously thought and can “snap” oil layers that might dry faster (above the acrylic layers).

One of the main uses for a solvent is to thin down paint out of the tube when applying an initial layer ofJohn_Bakehouse paint on a canvas.  I have used the word “scrumbling” for years (it was told to me) to describe this process.  It is not to be confused with the word “scumbling” which is a different technique.  Using  scrumbling approach gives me time and opportunity to explore color and value choices (referencing my thumbnail sketch for the composition’s value design).

arrowExample of scrumbling (not scumbling)

Oil paints (straight out of the tube) consist of pigment mixed with oil, usually vegetable in nature.  This is the first introduction of “fat” over “lean”.  Once paint thinned with solvent has been applied, the next step is applying paint either directly “out of the tube” or mixed with a painting medium (below).

gamblinliquin max

Painting mediums are added to any oil paint in order to change the paints’ longevity, malleability and viscosity.  There are many, many varieties of mediums: those that make the paint runnier; make the paint thicker; make the paint dry faster; make glazes and so on.  These mediums are made with a wide variety of oils: walnut, poppy, linseed, stand, etc.  For expert information on how to safely use a medium (and what choices to make), I suggest you start with Ralph Mayer’s Book “The Artist’s Handbook of Materials and Techniques”.  Available in your local library (if not, ask for it) or at Amazon.com.

Paint can be applies with bristle and/or natural hair brushes as well as palette knives. Brushes come in bright, flat, filbert and round shapes.

palette knives






































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On-Line Critiques

Did you know that I do critiques for artists on-line.  Just send me a .jpg of your work and I’ll send back some ideas that could open up a discussion about the work.

Here’s What You’re Saying

August 22, 2016

You are so wonderful, Maggie! Thank you so very, very much! I have such fond memories of being able to learn from such an exquisitely talented artist.  Beyond being a phenomenal, world-class artist, you were also the best teacher one could ever hope for.  Thank you for your generosity in writing this letter on my behalf!  Blessings always, Peggy

Hi Maggie,
I love your new web site…it is great… You are amazing!,, all your talent is something else…
See you Tuesday in class.

XX, Sue (Eddy)

I’ve enjoyed going through your website.  Unfortunately, my summer this year is quite busy, but please keep me in mind for your classes in the fall.  I may be ordering your workbooks to enjoy in the meantime.  Having some video workshops for sale is a great idea, as my friends and I have been branching out in our interests.
Debbie Faydash

Love, love, love the new website. I hope things are going well for you and all the folks that are still painting with you that I know. Say Hi to all for me.
Mary Anne Jones
Hi Maggie,
Your website looks great! Anyone searching for a class would feel inspired. My squirrel took first at the Art Experience and, I am happy to say, there were several very good pieces on display.
Rita Aubert
What a wonderful website.
You did a fantastic job.
Love all the artwork.  Helen Ranck