Cheryl S - Painting.jpg

Cheryl Jackson Schaeffer

"The Old Shepherd's Chief Mourner"

by Edwin Landseer

Masters Exhibition 2022

(Image cropped to fit space)


Welcome to the blog feature of our Santa Rita Art League (SRAL) website. We hope to use this feature as a way to connect our creative community and share new ideas. In the blog posts you will find member news, challenges, techniques, tools, and everything art related our members would like to share.

If you have an idea for a blog post, go to the "Contact" item on the top menu and submit your idea. We'd love to hear from you.

Updated: Jan 20, 2021

Watercolor group meets virtually to encourage each other's creativity

By Sonya Edwards

A white iris in watercolor painted by Mary Oelschlaeger
Iris by Mary Oelschlaeger
Violets by Valerie St. Marie done in watercolor
Violets by Valerie St. Marie

Being creative can be a solitary activity, but sometimes it's hard to be creative alone. Like any endeavor, being creative requires time and energy. Sometimes it can be exhilarating and sometimes it can be a real drag. Joining a group can provide a structure for accountability that can make it easier to "make" time for art and stir creative energy.

For the past several months, a small group of Santa Rita Art League members who share a passion for watercolor have been meeting weekly virtually via Zoom and participants are making art! Says Valerie St. Marie, "I've painted more paintings this summer than I did all last year. I was able to participate over the summer from my home in Colorado. Usually, I don’t even get my art supplies unpacked in summer! The weekly scheduled Friday watercolor meetings (pre-COVID-19) are what helped to get me painting in the past. Meet, paint for two hours, then regroup. It worked! It’s great to see everyone, and so helpful to share ideas and get feedback - almost a sense of normalcy in these tough times! I’m still trying to get motivated since I’ve returned to Green Valley but I’m sure it will happen because I’ve got the scheduled time and support!"

A picture of Kathleen's table where she paints her watercolors.
Kathleen's Creative Space

Being away from Green Valley is no longer an obstacle to meeting with our artistic friends. Meeting virtually has made it possible for Kathleen Bolivar, who is still in Canada, to meet and get energized. Recently, she gave the group a peek at her creative space when she shared a photo of the table where she paints. She has a lovely view but it's definitely different from the view at her Green Valley home. The moody winter view inspired her to paint trees in the mist.

Trees In Mist by Kathleen Bolivar done in watercolors
Trees In Mist by Kathleen Bolivar

It took a while for the group to figure out how to make a virtual gathering effective. Eventually, we agreed to mimic the flow of our physical meeting structure. We convene at 9am and take turns sharing what it is that we intend to work on. Sometimes we ask for advice from each other or we might share a resource. At 9:30am, we break way from the virtual meeting and focus on our work. Then, at 11:30am, we reconvene and take turns sharing what we did in the last 2 hours.

A red bell pepper painted in watercolor by Joan R.
Red Bell Pepper by Joan R

Each member works on their own project and the group's interests vary from landscape, to vegetables, to architecture, and florals. Joan R. has shared many lovely watercolors of vegetables that glow with the light that comes from watercolor's transparent nature.

A watercolor painting of a waterfall by Deb Fillion
Waterfall by Deb Fillion

Since starting, the group has grown. Deb, our newest member, jumped right in and is enjoying painting and making friends. She also shared a cool resource that allows artists to print their art on a label for a wine bottle. As the group grows it has been flexible in order to ensure that everybody has a chance to share.

For some people, the social interaction of being in a group can be energizing. Returning from her northern home, Mary Oelschlaeger shares the following about the group: "With the cold and clouds in Missoula, Max and I returned to the beauty of Green Valley. One of the many upsides to this was learning about the SRAL watercolor Zoom meeting. With everything so different from years past, I was lucky to have Cindy Haase tune me into this opportunity and our Zoom guru, Sonya Edwards, has made joining incredibly pleasant and easy. I haven’t been painting much over the past year (golfing a lot) so I decided to go back to some 'known' subject matter to get me going again....thus, the iris painting (above) to get in the value painting groove again. In addition to the focus on painting, it’s a joy to see and interact with paint pals!"

A watercolor painting of a ranch house with a lovely tree. Painted by Bruce Wamsley.
Ranchhouse by Bruce Wamsley

Bruce and Robin Wamsley have recently joined in are showing off how their skills have developed through regular practice and study.

A watercolor of a person trekking through the snow towards a cabin. Painted by Robin Wamsley
Snowy Trek by Robin Wamsley

If you are a member of the Santa Rita Art League interested in joining the watercolor group, feel free to send us a message via the Contact form on the Home page letting us know you are interested. Or, if you're interested in volunteering to host virtual group meetings focused on a specific media or topic, and you feel comfortable hosting Zoom meetings, feel free to send us a message using the Contact form on the Home page to let us know.

Updated: Dec 29, 2020

by Cindy Haase

As the COVID-19 virus continued through the summer, I needed an outlet for my creativity. Something that wouldn't tax my brain more than it needed. On a Zoom call, one of my creative friends mentioned a mixed media artist she liked, Denise Cerro.

While I usually don't get into online classes, I was entranced by her work and her You Tube videos.

Most artists who teach online have email lists to subscribe to, which I also don't do often. Too much email already. But I did!

A few days later I received an email that Denise was teaching an online class via Zoom. I had used Zoom a couple of times but had no idea how the whole classroom concept would work and would I get lost in trying to figure out how to participate online and miss the point of the class. Nope! Didn't happen.

In fact, I am now a lover of virtual classes especially via Zoom. Here's what I found to be the benefits.

  • No packing up of supplies and schlepping them to and from a classroom.

  • Not having to clean up immediately and maybe taking a nap or having a glass of wine instead.

  • Seeing what the other student were creating via our "what if" time and using the screen share function.

It was a 6 week class on Mondays from 10 am - 1 pm with eighteen students. Week 1 was all about loosening up with warm up exercises. Weeks 2-6 started with a review of what we had done during the week and Denise would play "what if" with an app called You Doodle. She could take our image and make suggestions on the fly as to where we might go with the painting. Very helpful as we were all able to give input. The second part of the class was her demo for that week and then we worked while she answered questions as we called them out. Denise had two cameras, one to see her and then one focused on her desktop. She would switch back and forth depending on which portion of the class was being conducted.

So why this class and what did I learn?

Since I moved to Green Valley and became an SRAL member, I have been intrigued by collage. I volunteered to be the monitor of the Collage and Mixed Media SIG but I rarely ever did collage - I didn't really know how to begin. I had purchased a few vintage cookbooks, song books, old textbooks and I wondered what did one do with these things. I learned how to use those beautiful old pages and had a wonderful summer creating...and Zooming.

My Gelli Plate Printed Papers

"Picasso's Pear" was created using some of my vintage pages and the rest were printed on my Gelli Plate, which was also a new experience. I had created a few papers in the past but not a whole spectrum of hues. The canvas was covered completely with collage papers from vintage sources and the pear was painted on top in acrylic. Then the multi-hued portions of the pear were added with the rainbow of colors created from the Gelli Plate.

"Picasso's Pear" 20 x 20"

Collage and Mixed Media on Canvas

My first class project

Can I do this on my own?

"Floral 1116" was one of my first attempts at creating a piece left to my own devices. I used Denise's negative painting approach.

Below are two work in progress photos and the final piece. In the first one on the left you can see most of the collage papers with the white negative painting to create the flowers. I had to tone down the vase and perk up the flowers with orange printed papers and Gelli Plate papers. In the finished piece you can see the mark making with a Stabilo pencil and finishing touches with other mark making tools. Note to self: Spray the marks with workable fixative before brushing on the sealer. My marks got a bit more blended than I wanted.

"Floral 1116" 20 x 16 Collage and Mixed Media on Canvas

Would you like to know more about collage?

There are many ways to approach collage and You Tube is a great resource for all art related topics and it's not a Zoom class but here are two You Tube videos created by Denise Cerro which demonstrate her collage process.

Laying Down Papers

Mixed Media Floral

Are you an SRAL member with a topic you would like to share with our membership? Have you tried a new technique, had an exhibition over the summer, found a new art supply you can't do without? Please contact us by filling out the contact form on the home page.