Nicole Garland will be leaving for college next month

Meet Nicole, she started taking classes in the kids after school program and within a couple of months she moved to the adult Saturday morning class and there she has stayed for the past 4 years. It takes years to get better at something especially when you only get to study a few hour a week. Nicole has self motivation, determination and enthusiasm for drawing so no wonder she has strengthened her drawing skills enormously.

                                                 Nicole Garland

Along with the Saturday morning class, her mom  signed her up for private lessons and we worked on improving her already natural drawing skills. Nicole knew she loved interior design and perspective. So on two or three Saturdays a month, after her morning class she and I worked on one, two and three point perspective. She became one of the best draftspersons we have ever had.

In school, Whittier Tech,  she has had some really good teachers. Her final senior project was decorating and creating the furniture for a large doll house. Check out the house and interior below. Click on the photo to see the furniture and the way she designed the rooms.

                                 Nicole's doll house (5)    Nicole's doll house (1) 

Nicole's doll house (2)   Nicole's doll house (3)    Nicole's doll house (4)                                   

                                         Nicole's doll house  (3) 

Unfortunately I didn’t take photos of her drawings over the years. I wish I had. However, I do have one. It is an unfinished study she did last year. I think you can see the understanding she has developed. The drawing is totally from her imagination using one point perspective. She painstakingly created the grid in perspective so she could study depth. This is not an easy task but Nicole wasn’t looking for easy, she was willing to do the work to get better. She will do really well in college.

                     Nicole's drawing

Nicole will be going to Wentworth College this fall to study Interior Design. Good Luck Nicole, we will miss you!

Thanks so much for taking the time to read our blog. I love sharing information about our students or giving short lessons.

Posted in adults, artwork, classes, imagination, perspective, Pre-Teen, teenager | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

First week of TANNERY CAMP

Everyone seemed really happy to be doing art every day this week. Here are some of the photos including photos of the supplies. Thanks to Wendy.


Tannery Camp 2017 1st week (4)                     Tannery Camp 2017 1st week (40)

Krista Sawyer helping the little kids.

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                                Tannery Camp 2017 1st week (43)

                                      Smorgasbord of supplies for making masks.

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Tannery Camp 2017 1st week (2)     

                                                                  Tannery Camp 2017 1st week (47) 

                                                                    Kate Carter helping the little kids with the glue gun.

                                    Tannery Camp 2017 1st week (70)

                           Tannery Camp 2017 1st week (1)

Later today I will post photos of the finished pieces of art. I have watched people walking by in the hall stop in their tracks because the kids work is so commanding.

Thanks always for taking time to check out our posts.

Posted in acrylic painting, artwork, collage, Colored Pencils, Creative idea, imagination, kids, little kids, Marks On Paper, painting, portrait study, Pre-Teen | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Patti Kelley’s Fast Paintings


                                 Patti Kelly's

Patti Kelley took the challenge to do 30, 5×7 fast (15 minute) studies of the subjects of her choice. The exercise is to take as long as you want to draw the image, mix the paint and think about how to execute the painting.

When all the thinking and planning was done she set the timer for 15 minutes. Patti confided that she never finished in 15 minutes but she did take a photo at the 15 minute mark and usually spent another 1/2 hour or as much a 1 hour bringing it to a place she could live with. In the past she might have taken 6 to 8 hours to paint a similar painting. Below is one of her favorites.

                                         Patti Kelly's fast paintings vase

Patti works in oils and is aware that she sometimes overworks and adds too much detail to her paintings. Like most of us, when we first learn to paint, we try to make our paintings look like photographs. There is nothing wrong with that. It is one of the ways to learn. It is the beginning of the artistic journey for many of us.

                   Patti Kelly's fast paintings teddy                             Patti Kelly's fast paintings chair

Patti decided she wanted to go beyond  copying what she sees so she took the challenge. Each week she brought one or two painting in for us to talk about. Patti & I looked at each painting to see what was working and what needed strengthening. Some weeks she felt like she was improving and some weeks she felt like she regressed but she never gave up and continued painting. Just last week she said with enthusiasm, “I feel that it is not taking me as long to figure out the colors and values I need.”

                                                     Patti Kelly's fast paintings peppers

                                   Patti Kelly's fast paintings  (2)

Above are 31 paintings. Patti was so proud of herself that she brought all of them in one morning, along with a cake to celebrate what she knew was a big accomplishment. Everyone clapped for joy! We were all so proud of her. Maybe she will be an inspiration for some of you.

She is now doing 30, 8×10 paintings. Wow, you can see the difference in her execution. They show so much more confidence than a year ago. Congratulations Patti for taking the time to invest in yourself.

Thanks everyone for  reading our blog. Please let me know if you would like to take this challenge.

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After School Art Classes Ending Until September

Next week is the end of the after school year for most of the classes. My granddaughter, Kate Carter, is going to hold one more set of classes (3:30 to 5pm) on 3 Mondays starting June 5th to June 19th. This is an extra set of classes because so many kids were disappointed that the classes were ending. It makes me smile to know that they love them so much. Below are a few of the recent photos we have taken of the kids. Click on the ones you like to see them larger.

                        Charlotte's Whale         Brent

                                                        Jake's painting  

                          Kids haaving fun 3-2017 (3)      Kids haaving fun 3-2017 (18)

We like to celebrate process over product. If we enjoy the doing we will learn to not worry about the product and then there will not be as much frustration or angst if it is not turning out the way we thought it would. Not to worry, just make it again or create something else.

As we adults know, process is tied into ego and kids, even at age 6, seem to have learned from adults or older kids (maybe in school) that something is not good if it doesn’t meet certain criteria. At our studio we try to encourage the journey and hope the reason the kids keep coming back is because they, like us, just love to create.

                            Kids having fun 3-2017 (41)                  Kids haaving fun 3-2017 (22)

                                         Ian's spider

                             Kids having fun 3-2017 (39)      Kids having fun 3-2017 (36)


Sorry I didn’t take photos of everything and everyone. I just don’t remember to either take my camera (phone) or I simply forget to take photos. One of my goals is to be better at this next year.

Thanks for taking the time to read our blog.

Posted in Colored Pencils, Creative idea, imagination, kids, little kids, Model Magic, painting, Pre-Teen, Watercolor | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

FREE Demonstration – Fun with Gelatin Printing

Linda Germain is  back with a free demo to teach us about Gelatin Printing.
See Flyer below for more information. Please call or email to save a spot.

 Free Gelatin Demo 2017

Thanks for reading and I sure hope you can make it to the demo.

Posted in acrylic painting, adults, artwork, mini demo, studio, teenager | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Large portraits on Chuck’s Facebook




I recently finished painting a series of large portrait’s of people I am crazy about. My husband, Chuck, put them on his Facebook page. I love and appreciate that he wanted to celebrate me and the work I do.

However, I feel a little bad that I didn’t have a desire to do it myself. So I am attaching the slide show he ended the series with. At least I feel like I supported him and all the terrific people who posed for me. Click below to view the slides.

I hope you enjoy seeing them. You can also check out the blog post below to see how I go about painting portraits:

Process of Painting a Large, Colorful Portrait

Thanks for taking your precious time to check out our blog.

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Openings in the Little kids class on Thursdays

I am happy to announce that  we have a couple of openings for little kids (5-7) in the Thursday 5:00 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. art class starting April 27th. Some of you know that it is not often that we get openings so this is an excellent opportunity for a beginning at The Artists Playground.

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We started offering this class last year to handle the overflow of parents wanting  to send their kids with the understanding that they would have first pick to enter one of our regular classes when a spot opened up. Well, several of the children have moved into our Wed 3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. class so that opens up room in the Thursday late afternoon class.

                Kids creating (7)

                      Maddie                        Blair blog (1)

Please let us know if you or someone you know might be interested.

Thanks for reading! Contact me at

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Sketching on location–with Sandy Turner

Sandy Turner has always loved to sketch on location. Have you ever been outside and wished you could just sit down and draw what you see? Well, if you take Sandy’s sketching class on Saturday mornings starting April 1st you can learn how. Sandy wants to share her love, joy and knowledge of how to go about sketching on location.  You can read more about her on her web site

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                                          Sandy drawing

               Sandy flowers    Sandy Turner at easle doing wc

The first sketch, below left, Sandy did during one of our painting trips to Ogunquit. Notice the difference between it and the drawing on the right. The second drawing is more like a rendering or more finished drawing, more like an illustration that she does for her coloring books. But even something like that starts out more like the drawing on the left.


                        SandyTurnerArt (11)

The two lighthouse sketches were done years apart,  with different materials and different perspectives but you can see that they are sketches and not renderings. Sketching is fun! Rendering, on the other hand, is more like work. – more like the images in the  coloring books she has been working on of Newburyport, Plum Island, and the Cape.

                   SandyTurnerArt (47)     IMG_7861

After you learn to sketch then you may want to add a watercolor wash like Sandy did below. They sure look like she had fun doing them. Sandy did them in Argentina.

Give us a call at 978-462-5366 or email if you would like to join Sandy sketching around town.

Sandys watercolor-2          SandyTurnerArt (45)

Thanks for reading and I hope we hear from you real soon.

Posted in adults, artwork, classes, drawing, Rendering, Sketching, Watercolor | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

New Class Drawing for Painting

Rob Brun has been teaching our watercolor classes and sees that most of his students need to learn that drawing for painting is different than drawing for something like illustration. So he came up with this new class, “Drawing for Painting”. We both think it is going to be a  really good class for everyone whether they are doing oils, acrylics or watercolors. You still need an understanding of proportion and perspective but you only suggest the placement of the objects on the paper or canvas whether it is a landscape, still life or even the beginning of an abstracted arrangement of shapes. His flyer is below. Please let me know (  if you are interested in joining Rob.

                                         Drawing for Painting

I sure appreciate that so many of you read our blog. Thanks!

Posted in adults, artwork, classes, drawing, perspective, Rendering, Sketching, Watercolor | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Abstract Water based Mixed Media Demo was a Big Hit

Wow, I am still so excited from yesterdays demo with Gerry Willging. Below are some of the photos. She was her usual delightful and extraordinary self. She touched on the underlying structure of painting whether it be realistic  or abstract.

We got a preview of what she is going to be teaching in her class. Gerry is an incredible teacher, she has had over 45 years of experience and knowledge! I might have, in a previous post, mentioned that she has been in many national shows and won gold medals for her work. We already have 7 people signed up for the artistic adventure of their life. Even if everyone goes back to doing traditional work, it will never be the same after taking Gerry’s class. Their new work will take on an elevated or professional look.

                                                   Gerry Willging's demo Blog(13)

The piece above shows the four stages of Gerry’s work. The first stage takes only a little while – anywhere from 10 to 2o minutes. During the middle 2 stages she uses opaque and transparent paint, stamping, colored pencils and caran d’ache to decorate the underlying surface of the painting.  The last stage could take as long as 3 weeks. Look below. I cropped the above teaching aid so you could see her finished piece more clearly.

                                                              Gerry Willging's demo cropped(13)

Wow, isn’t it incredibly interesting to look at! No ho-hum here! No dreary passages. Nothing boring. Click on the pic and feel the excitement, prepare to delight your eye. 

 Gerry Willging's demo blog (9)     Gerry Willging's demo  Blog (7)

As you can see from the above photos, Gerry uses fabulous examples with which to teach. Gerry says she does not want people to paint like her. she is looking to help everyone  paint to express themselves. What she teaches is the underlying structure of collage and painting. If you want to read and see more about her go to our blog of September 2, 2013.

Please email if you would like to join the fun.

Thanks, as  always, for taking your time to read our blog.

Posted in acrylic painting, adults, artwork, Caran d'Ache, classes, collage, Colored Pencils, painting, stamping, Watercolor, Workshops | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment