Hawaiian Watercolors

red torch ginger lizard watercolors
red torch ginger lizard watercolor
Here is a process photo of the Red Torch Ginger partially finished.
Here is a process photo of the Red Torch Ginger partially finished.

This watercolor was created as a study for the Red Torch Ginger that appears in the Tropical Spirit Mural I am working on.

Would you like to come paint Hawaiian flora and fauna with me? I am going to be teaching on the Big Island. Join the email list for more information as it arrives and come paint with me.

Dreamscapes on Clouds

dreamscape art acrylic painting
Float, a dreamscape where a cloud woman floats on a magic carpet above a green landscape.
dreamscape float woman on magic carpet
Here is how this Dreamscape looked about 3/4 finished. It has the magic carpet and the sun but its missing the defined landscape and I had originally painted the fabric folds. I also wanted softer clouds and more depth.
the hub tacoma wa art gallery wall artist
A few of the Dreamscapes on the gallery wall at the Hub, Tacoma WA during the art show Dreamscapes and Landscapes with Danielle Lusk.
Here it is hanging in my old house when it was half finished.
Here it is hanging in my old house when it was half finished. I always look at my paintings to see how it feels over time.

Painting a Mural The Halfway Point

Mural Art on the Big Island Hawai
Mural art in the Big Island Hawaii.

I am currently painting a mural in Kopoho Hawaii. It is the entire second story of a home that is to become a vacation rental and its a lot of fun and work at the same time.

I am using a four inch roller on the whole thing because I like to use the roller to blend and it gives me time to contemplate the space. The whole room is like a giant canvas for me.

gardenias and pineapple mural hawaii
The pineapples are almost ripe and the gardenias are emerging.

It features a blue sky that wraps the left hand side of the open floor plan and transitions to a golden sky in the kitchen, then to warm reds and purples, a full range of bright chakra colors.

From the stairwell rises a Monkeypod tree whose canopy fills the sleeping space. It will make you feel like you sleep in the trees.

Pineapple bushes flank the center bedroom, and haleconia, anthurium, taro, bamboo, and hibiscus flowers fill the corners.

It is about half finished.

mural vacation painter
Mural here in Puna, Hawaii. This photo was taken before the sunset got moved to another wall.


Looking at a Master Artist’s Paintings

Our friend walks across the lawn into the open air kitchen carrying   a stack of books. He had a friend who was an artist. Herb Kawainui Kane.

A Hawaiian artist who painted Hawaii, and what an amazing legacy. His paintings are of old Hawai’i, the romantic paradise, and history like you read about in National Geographic. Historically accurate and visually poetic.

So I peruse these books for a few days and then we are dropped off at Kamehameh Hotel in Kona and there in the lobby is a beautiful display of his original paintings with captions from the books.

These paintings are amazing.

He’s an economical painter, each brushstroke effective, with smooth gradients when needed and the warm red underpainting exposed, too.

Along one clean blue edge a little ridge of paint, the only tiny excess a proof that we are indeed looking at paintings and not prints.

A sunset has a warm red underpainting with pale light blue scudding across and it creates the glowing red light of sunset before the blue sky dissolves. Gorgeous.

Everyone in the painting has brown skin, the dancers and the warriors and the people feel human and wonderful. These are classical paintings. They are very timeless. His lighting is like what if Caravaggio was an impressionist.

So inspiring!

herb kane hawaii artist
Herb Kane’s Hawaiian artwork is so pretty. This one is my favorite.


The Moon Goddess Over Greece Painting

moon goddess
Moon Goddess Painting in progress.
radiant heat josan pocket venus reference photo
I took this photo of my friend Pocket Venus, of Radiant Heat, here with her fire spinning nucleus, to use as a reference photo.
Here is the moon goddess sketched in with Greek inspired scene only suggested.

This is a gallery wrapped canvas which means it doesn’t need a frame, it is ready to hang right up. Black and white acrylic paint create the strength of this painting, and a small touch of silver create the stars, which are small and don’t appear in the photos. This was a commission painting that is now hanging in its new home.

Before it was even finished someone else wanted to purchase it! I told her I could paint a similar painting, and we could put her face and favorite landscape in the painting instead. Something like that would go for $1300, if we are looking at a similar size (36×48″).

Greece artwork painting Moon Goddess
Moon Goddess Over Greece 36 x 48″ acrylic on canvas.


Montessori Printable Sets

Parts of a flower Monocot montessori
A tulip is a Monocot because it has petals in sets of three.
Parts of a flower parts of a tulip parts of a rose montessori.
These are Printables, ready for your classroom with a custom order from Diamond Montessori.
Parts of a Dicot flower monte
Parts of a Dicot- kids are easily able to absorb new vocabulary. Montessori teaches them the words in a clear and beautiful way.

My friend Ashley and I have been working hard on creating beautiful language learning materials for Diamond Montessori and are delighted to announce they are now available.


I’m very pleased with everything I’ve illustrated and Ashley’s writing is perfect for kids, and it’s all to Montessori specifications- beautiful, clear, and straightforward, to inspire little ones to grow and learn.



Painting Lake Joy Plein Air

When we first moved up to Washington a few years ago, I did these paintings. I was talking about them and couldn’t find them on my website anywhere so I’m sharing them today. These ones sold right away when I shared them on https://m.facebook.com/artistkatana

Original acrylic painting sold for $75
This is the same composition, painted a second time, the next day at the same hour. Acrylic on canvas board, sold for $75.
Original acrylic landscape painting photographed plein air
I painted this original acrylic painting plein air and photographed it inside the scene.
Palette for plein air original acrylic painting
This shows the palette I used for the painting. Cyan, path all blues, titanium white and three greens, burnt umber.
Plein air painting two versions
I used the same palette for the second painting, and this version was smoother than the first day, speaking to the power of iterations and artistic studies.

How to Fix a Dent in Canvas Artwork

I’m incredibly clumsy which is one of the reasons why I really like painting acrylic on canvas. It’s durable and it’s basically Katana proof. Once I even sliced open one of my canvases (how did that even happen?) and had to stitch it up and paint over it.

Don’t worry, a fix for a dent is a lot easier. It just happened to me so I took some photos to share the repair.

I just finished painting a landscape and put it down on a table; I didn’t even see the keys that were sitting on the table. The keys left a dent in the surface of the artwork which doesn’t look good.

An unsightly dent in the finished artwork.
An unsightly dent in the finished artwork. Don’t worry we can fix this. I took a picture with glare so you can see the dent more easily!
Here is the dented canvas from the back. In a previous life it was a demo canvas so I used the back to show an example.
Here is the dented canvas from the back. In a previous life it was a demo canvas. I used the back to demonstrate a brushstroke which is why there’s paint here! 

Take a note of that curved line because in the next picture you can’t see the dent.

Repair ruined canvas art by adding water on the back
Just add water to the back of the canvas. It will bead up, so massage it a little to make it soak in. And just like Kelly Clarkson, it’s Already Gone.
The canvas dent is fixed
And now the canvas dent is fixed!

On Not Being Good Enough to Paint

“I like that.” I’m standing behind a woman who is diligently following my instructions in one of my classes.

This painting is not perfect but it's still beautiful.
Our inspiration, Roses in the Sun demo painting.

So of course I like it; we are painting together, sharing inspiration. I feel a warmth for each painting even more than my own. My little idea of a picture, all grown up and being shared with the world and interpreted differently by each pair of eyes.

“But it doesn’t look like yours-” Her face twists up because she can only see the shortcomings, the place where her brush isn’t practiced. “I’m not good enough,” she says;

But she ignores the little zip of red that looks like the edge of a petal, the transition from blue to sea glass green. Those little beautiful moments that I’m looking at. Or even the way that she held the brush that’s different from mine- a little more of the corner, that I’m going to try myself next time I’m experimenting at the easel. That’s what I like and that’s what I tell her.

Sure, I can recommend using more paint or a little more white (seriously, it’s always a little more white paint) or use the edge of the brush. But clarifying those things doesn’t diminish the loveliness of what’s already been painted. And a few wayward marks doesn’t ruin the paintings future.

And I know that nasty voice, I’ve heard it in my head. Wandering through art galleries, where just a brush stroke looks like a shadow, where scribbles look like scudding clouds, that voice says to me “you’ll never be able to paint like that…” I’m sure that voice is why Van Gogh cut off one ear. 😜

I hear it whenever I’m looking at artworks which have credibility because of the wall where they hang and the people who talk about them.

I remind myself that the Salon des Refusès was full of marvelous artists who experienced rejection also, that perhaps there was a time when not even the artist holding the brush believed in its brushstrokes.

There’s no way to know the life the painting will take on once it leaves the easel. Because those rejected works are now the post Impressionist masters.  Or maybe your little masterpiece will become a beloved heirloom. You never know.

The factory that turned out urinals never knew that one particular urinal would one day be signed ‘R. Mutt‘ by Marcel duChamp (to say nothing of the fourteen! replicas) And if that counts as priceless art than I think our charming two hour tipsy flower paintings count as art, beautiful art, at that.

I think when you put your happy feelings into the paintings they take you somewhere happy even when the lingering sadnesses of the world are at your door.

Magic carpet painting called floating through the clouds
Floating through the clouds acrylic on canvas. 18×24″ – it’s a painted over demo painting with many more hours invested.

Thats my favorite part of this painting “Floating through the Clouds” – it takes me somewhere else when I look at it.

It’s not perfect. It doesn’t look like Dali painted it, and it doesn’t look like either Manet or Monet were involved. James Gurney could have made it in half the time and twice as real. Khalo would have a better brow game and O’Keefe wouldn’t have painted a magic carpet at all, ever. The eyes are too small for Keane but so are my own. I painted it, and it has a piece of my soul in it. It’s a dream.

I’ve painted many things and had to practice appreciating my own work, looking at it and finding what I like about it, even when my blending isn’t smooth or my colors are too loud or the proportions are wrong. I’ve had to hear that voice saying “it’s not good enough” about my own work many times. Every time.

One day I was sitting looking at my paintings. I was annoyed that the clouds were too symmetrical and they were dividing the sky in half instead of leading the eye up the canvas to the stars.

But then–!

My perspective shifted. Casteneda would say my assemblage point moved. Suddenly I could see they were beautiful.

The stars twinkled, the colors were beautiful. It really shone. And I could see what I needed to change in the clouds to help them sing with the canvas.

Siver Lining Galactic Sunset Acrylic on Canvas - the sunset rises into the night sky where the stars come out. Fluffy white clouds lined in silver speak to the magic of the universe. Mountains rise on the horizon.
Siver Lining. This is about the point I was really frustrated with it. This painting is lost. It was being shown in San Luis Obispo and then the hair salon closed while I was away. So I never got it back and I don’t know where it is.

That’s the artist eye: being able to see what’s beautiful while still imagining an improvement. That something can be beautiful and not finished yet. It’s both.

That’s what I see when I look at my Paint Nite students/partygoers. I can see where their painting has beauty and where they have let the muse hold the brush for a bit- and I can see where just a little more paint would help it sing more clearly. And that, being able to see both the beauty and the room for growth, is why I’m never bullshitting when I say I like someone’s painting.

I am still wondering, How is it possible that this beautiful painting has appeared in front of my paintbrush? That’s the great mystery that artists are after- Like Van Gogh’s high yellow note and Bruce Nauman’s Divine Truth.

I think that, like the people who paint them, every painting contains beauty, regardless of technical skill. I’m not looking for skill- I’m looking for feeling.

At the end of Paint Nite the woman I spoke with poses for photos with her finished work. The photo gives her some distance to see the truth of the painting, separate from the physical paint marks on canvas. Then she realizes it really is beautiful and the negative self talk evaporates into a joyful giddiness over her beautiful painting.

She’s laughing, I’m laughing. It really is beautiful.