Spring Drive

This Saturday June 16th 4 pm to 8 pm, the Confluence Gallery in Twisp is hosting the opening of Eats the Sun, featuring artists Gregg Caudell, Simon Kogan and me. I will be showing my new series "Common Ground"; 12 watercolors focused on the lure of the Methow Valley landscape, both past and present.






I hope you'll be in the gallery with a glass of wine and appetizer admiring all the fine works, however......


Let's not wait. Unwrap it now! I want to share.

Here's your link to a preview of my new series Common Ground. 

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Black tee affair...

Windrows - Common Ground series

Friends, free nibbles and fresh artworks on view! Mark you calendar for the evening of June 16th.

No tux rental, black tie or cocktail dress required. Here in the valley, we're a casual bunch - so it's more of a "black tee" affair.


Join fellow artists, painter Gregg Caudell, sculptor Simon Kogan and me for the opening of "Eats the Sun" exhibit at the Confluence in Twisp. My studio lights have been burning bright for the past 5 months, but now it's time to step back with a glass of wine in hand and enjoy the collection. I'm eager to share my Common Ground watercolor series; 12 new paintings created just for this show.


Inspired? I'll be teaching Quick Start Watercolors - Even if You Think You Can't Paint; a beginner/curious non artist watercolor class on July 14th, 9:00 am to 2:00 pm at my studio. Let me show you the simple building blocks that will give you success with watercolors. Cost is $97. Sign up by contacting the Confluence at 997-2787.  

Space is limited, so register early.


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5 Things to Know Before Your First Art Class

5 Things to Know Before Your First Art Class

by Paula Christen, watercolor painter and teacher

It makes you excited and nervous all at once. Day one of the art class, you finally signed up for, is almost here. I still remember that feeling. Now, speaking as a watercolor painter and workshop teacher let me share 5 things to know before your first class:

1. If the class description said "Beginners", it means just that; never having done it before or having only the smallest amount of experience. You are not expected to know anything about this. Really!

2. Supply lists are sometimes overloaded. If it looks too much for your budget, call and ask the teacher what are the minimum materials needed at first. You can buy more as the class progresses.

3. There are always "ringers" in a class; someone who obviously is not a true beginner, BUT on the other hand, there will always be another with less knowledge than you. Adopt a spirit of adventure and enjoy the class.

4. Mistakes are encouraged! It means your teacher is doing a great job and you are getting hands on practice. Anything worth doing well, is worth messing up many times before you get to perfect.

5. When someone tells you that they like your work (and they will) resist pointing out the flaws. Don’t insult their good taste in art! Learn to say "thank you" and stop there.
Studio classes are available. Check for open dates on my website "How To Watercolor" menu page. Questions? Email or call.

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Hair of the Dog...

Taking the Long Way

...with the eyes, nose, tail; captured and on display at the Winthrop Gallery this weekend. 

Animal House gallery show is in additon to the annual tribute of pet love - The Dog & Cat Photo Show. (There's still time to enter your fav photo!)

Opening reception starts Sunday February 19, 11am to 3 pm, right after the Methow Nordic Doggie Dash; our valley's costume sporting skier and dog race teams. Treats for all. Make it a Dog Day!

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Textures of Winter

January Shoreline

Another snowstorm gifted Winthrop with a generous blanket of white last night. Guesstimating from the fence top at dawn, I'm looking at about 6 or 7 inches new accumulation. It's absolutely beautiful.


This watercolor painter loves the snow landscape. With all that white, the painting is half done as I start.

January Shoreline is my latest; created in the warm studio this weekend. It uses a wet into wet technique (soaked paper) that captures the softness of winter. With patience, timing and a dry brush, you get the rough textures and details.

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Mapping out a painting series

Series map

It's Sunday and I've finished my homework. True, the Confluence show is not until June, but I've mapped out the new works series. (Not bad for someone who was a childhood procrastinator.) I can work under pressure, but really prefer not to. My desk has lists going all the time and a big At-A-Glance yearly planner, hung on the office wall.

By eyeball calculation of the allowed gallery wall space, it's going to take 8 to 12 large paintings. Now these new works should relate to the other 2 exhibitors artwork themes. My first series draft was scribbled on a torn half envelope destined for recycle. An hour later, the overrun landed on the 27 x 33 inch "note pad". Everyone should have these for their really big ideas!




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Inspired by the Methow - a partnership of artist, gallery & conservancy

Lake Escape

Lake Escape was inspired by Wenner Lakes, a series of 3 lakes, a protected Methow Conservancy easement. The Conservancy and the Confluence Gallery in Twisp, partnered in orchestrating an exhibit where artists were assigned to create a work based on their interpretation of the conservancy easement lands they were paired with.

Much to my surprise, even as a resident of this area for over 35 years, I had never heard of these lakes! They are on private property and even had I discovered them, I'm not one to hop over gates, ignoring no tresspassing signs. What a treat, rounding a corner on a single lane dirt road, to find this little gem of paradise. One of the owners was there to show me around on a blue sky day with the last of autumn colors reflecting on the water. (I'm hoping for a return invitation.)

Rather than paint on site, I walked the area, took lots of photos and soaked in the feel of the place. Back in the studio, I studied the pics, choosing the ones that recalled the day's vibes and begin to pencil out some rough ideas for compositions. Once I settled on the fishing angle, time to do a value sketch and then transfer it to the paper.

Here's the value sketch and the full size drawing on watercolor paper:

value sketch for Lake Escape


Lake Escape drawing on watercolor paper (yellow is blockout)


The "Inspired by the Methow" show is at the Confluence Gallery in Twisp. Hours are Wednesday - Saturday 10 am to 3 pm.

Curators Laura Karcher and Michael Caldwell did an amazing job of bringing it all together. Stop by Jan. 7 - Feb 18 for a wonderful show.

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For the artists in your life

The accumulation phase of my life seems to have passed. There is little "stuff" I feel the burning desire to own, reserving the exception of art supplies or art books. With those, the question of how much do you need, can easily be answered by "just one more than I have now".

What I seek is knowledge, understanding and new skills. Yep, I LOVE learning; painting techniques, marketing insights and getting a toe hold on using the connecting power of the ever changing world of technology.

Someone who has helped me along the way is Alyson Stanfield, Art Biz Coach. I first followed her art blog, then took some of the online classes she offered. Impressed with what I was learning about the business of art, I brought her to Winthrop to put on a workshop for the artists here. That was a productive day - over 40 artists soaking in what could easily have been a week long seminar about promoting your art. My copy of her book "I'd rather be in the studio!" currently has 16 post-it markers in it, so I can get to those always used passages easily.

If you have an artist on your gift list, or as an artist, would like to give your business a boost for 2012, I can recommend her classes and/or her book. The links are provided below. And with full disclosure, yes, I'm an affiliate of Alyson and will make a small amount if you purchase using the links, but I know firsthand the value of what she has to offer. I use it daily. How many holiday gifts can do that?

Blast Off Class:

I'd rather be in the studio! book:


photo credit

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From ashes

Emy's Place

Our volunteer firemen will torch off a large training fire this Saturday. With the fall leaves gone from the cottonwoods, my living room window will offer a first rate view of the heated destruction of Emy Hallowell's former home. During my 35 years living here, it has been a landmark, cherished for it's interesting history, but mostly for it former owner, Emy. Caring and kindness should be her middle name.

A couple of years ago, Emy sold and the new owners have looked at every way possible to use the home with remodel. From first hand experience, I know that sometimes the only way to make a project work is to start from scratch or ground up. Not an easy decision when there is small town attachment to a building. Following the ashes of Saturday's fire, construction of a new B & B will grace the river view site, welcoming people as they come into Winthrop. The owners will have a room dedicated as Emy's suite with reminders of the structure's past lives.

Our local internet provider has a terrific link Methow Grist, for the really good local stories. They have featured a wonderful one, by local author Karen West, interviewing Emy, telling the home's history, including a watercolor painting I did several years ago. Interestly I painted it as "Emmy's B & B".  So glad I didn't put off the creating of that work and I'm looking forward to capturing the new hospitality site once it's built. 

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Investing for Dividends

Tony Couch demo

Blissfully unaware of whatever financial market dramas that played out last week, I was investing in a small company - Paula Christen Watercolors. The excitement wasn't on Wall Street, but focused just off Poly Avenue, on the campus of Montana State University in Billings. Tony Couch, one of the top watercolor painters in the US, was teaching a 5 day workshop.

Early in my painting days, Tony's book " WATERCOLOR, You Can Do It!" was one of the first ones I purchased. Constant use of it is evident; dog-eared and paint splattered pages show examples of how watercolor says fresh and light as no other medium. Past schedules, finances or life never seemed to jive with his workshop dates. And they didn't this time either, but the opportunity to just absorb maybe 10% of what this man knows will make me a better painter, paying dividends for the rest of my life. Can't say that I've ever felt this good about any other shareholder investment!

Here are 2 of his workshop paintings:


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About the Artist





Commission a Painting

Oct. 24 - 26, 2014

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