My students make me proud

Lemme show you some pictures…

Linda DeLorey, from a class assignment on painting snow.

I’m turning into one of those old ladies who carries photos around in her phone and shows them to total strangers. However, they’re not pictures of my kids or grandkids (or even the dog). Instead, they’re my students’ paintings. I’m very proud of them.

Amy Thomsen, from a class assignment on painting trees.

People are embracing distance learning, even in the evening after a long day of work. I don’t know if that’s because of the continuing reach of COVID, because it’s winter, or because the limits of geography are lifted.

David Broerman, from a class assignment on painting snow.

It’s turning out to be as much a group of friends as my summer plein air classes. On Monday night, talk turned to baking, a long digression that ended with Mark going to his refrigerator for his sourdough starter. My Tuesday class includes sisters who live across the country from each other. It’s all far warmer and personal than I ever imagined.

Mark Gale, from a class assignment on color substitution.
Lorraine Nichols, from a class assignment on color substitution.

I’ve written extensively about learning how to teach with Zoom. If there’s been a gift from 2020, it’s getting me over the hurdle of video. I used to loathe being on camera; now I don’t even notice it. There’s been lots of trial and error and I’ve upgraded my cameras and monitor. That was worthwhile. With the proper equipment the video barrier seems to evaporate.

Lori Capron Galan, from a class assignment on reflections.

I have Mary Byrom to thank; she’s the one who coached and cajoled me past my resistance. That’s why I pay the favor forward to other teachers when I can.

Carol Durkee, from a class assignment on color substitution.

Beth Carr, from a class assignment on color substitution.

Zoom has made me a better teacher. Instead of teaching reactively, I’ve been forced to be far more proactive in designing lessons. Teaching without geographical boundaries means I’m getting serious students. They’re working extremely hard, and every one of them is improving.

Sharyn Brusie, from a class assignment on reflections.

That’s resulted in a long syllabus that will be the basis of a book, should I ever sit long enough to get some writing done (my New Year resolution.) 

Janice Vierke, from a class assignment on reflections.

We have a Facebook group where my students share recent paintings. I’ve nabbed some for you; I think they speak for themselves. There isn’t enough room in this blog to feature all of them, so I’ll catch up with the rest of them later. In return, I promise to not corner you at the grocery store and show you pictures of my grandkids, cute as they are.

Carrie O’Brien, from a class assignment on reflections.

Patty Mabie, from a class assignment.
Kathy Mannix has sold two paintings since starting my classes earlier this year. Amazing.

Mary Silver lives in the Texas hill country, where snow is generally just a happy dream.

Sea & Sky Workshop, (almost) finished

My students worked through some crazy weather, and turned out some great paintings this week. 

Last night we looked at paintings using positive critiquing and analyzing the formal qualities of design
This is just a small sample of the work done this week. A caution: the color in these photos isn’t great, because they were taken after dark. But I hope you like them as much as I do. I’ve been constantly surprised and delighted by wonderful, lyrical, unexpected paintings. The week has just flown past and I’m sorry to see it end, even though we’re all pretty darn tired.
Watercolor painting by John Magoun
Oil painting by Patty Mabie
Watercolor painting by Rebecca Bense
Oil painting by Lori Capron Galan
Watercolor painting by Cynthia Burmeister
Acrylic painting by Rhea Zweifler
Watercolor painting by Jane Agee
Oil painting by Jennifer Johnson
Acrylic painting by Jennifer Little
Watercolor painting by Lisa Magoun
Oil painting by Mary Whitney
Oil painting by Robin Miller

This is your brain on art

The artistic hands of Anna Battaglia McDermott. 
Rochester’s School of the Arts graduates around 90% of its students. The overall Rochester City School District graduates an astonishingly-bad 43% of its students. Although this has been the subject of much discussion, the idea that art itself influences the mind seems to have escaped both the pundits and the pedagogical establishment.
Hydrangeas, by Sandy Quang, painted last night. Not even a deluge could stop them from painting.
Various studies have shown that making art reduces stress and help us process traumatic events. In itself, that ought to justify art education. But those of us who make art know that it’s an intellectual discipline like mathematics or grammar, and as such, it helps develop the brain.  A recent studyvalidates that.
Over 10 weeks, scientists at the University Hospital Erlangen asked elderly men and women to participate in hands-on art classes, while a control group took an art appreciation course. Researchers discovered “a significant improvement in psychological resilience” among those who actually drew and painted. 
Birches, by Nina Koski, painted last night. 
The fMRI scans of the art-class group also showed improved efficacy in the parts of the brain associated with cognitive processes like introspection, self-monitoring, and memory.
“The participants in our study were required to perform the cognitive tasks of following, understanding, and imitating the visual artist’s introduction. Simultaneously, the participants had to find an individual mode of artistic expression and maintain attention while performing their activity. Although we cannot provide mechanistic explanations, the production of visual art involves more than the mere cognitive and motor processing described. The creation of visual art is a personal integrative experience – an experience of ‘flow,’ – in which the participant is fully emerged in the creative activity,” wrote the authors.
Gate, by Anna McDermott, painted last night.
Art and music education are the first things we cut when school budgets are in trouble. Meanwhile, a 2012 study found that the total spending on ADHD (just one of many forms of maladaptation to modern school) ranges from $143 billion to $266 billion a year. Perhaps more art classes and fewer drugs are in order.
Young Ilse thinks she’s having fun. Please don’t tell her this is good for her.

Come to Maine and learn to paint. I have two openings left for my 2014 workshop in Belfast, ME. Information is available here.

Opening day

A happy crowd at the VB Brewery in Victor.
Our student show yesterday was a lovely success—a great turn-out, lively chatter, and lots of wonderful desserts that went surprisingly well with beer. Two paintings have sold and one silent-auction piece (raising money for the Open Door Mission) has exceeded its minimum bid so will sell by the end of the month.
Who knew that Carol Thiel was a twin? (I insisted she and her sister pull out their licenses to prove it.)
I missed my own opening at Bethel’s Aviv Gallery on Friday. I’d called my doctor on Thursday to ask him for an inhaler because I was having trouble breathing. By the time I got back into Rochester, my right leg was swollen and stiff. Combine the two with recent gynecological surgery and your doctor naturally suspects a deep vein thrombosis. This earned me a trip into the emergency room at Rochester General. By the time they concluded that it was coincidence and I’m actually healthy as a horse, it was 8:48 PM and my opening ended at 9.
If you forget a knife with which to cut the cake (which was drooping in the heat) you can always use a pocket knife… as long as it’s not yours, since it will get full of frosting and crumbs.
My deepest apologies to Richmond Futch, Jr. I’d promised him I’d be back from mid-Hudson in time for my opening.
Ilsa Koski, Kim Gorall and Nina Koski. Speedo the Hermit Crab goes to a new home.
Frankly, those few hours on a gurney were the most restful of my week. No way to work in an ER, so you might as well close your eyes and doze off. My greatest ambition today is to read a dumb novel and and enjoy the scent of the lilacs outside my window.
Ancient Roman beer bottle.
There are still a few openings in my 2014 workshop in Belfast, ME. Information is available here.


I have two great shows opening next weekend. I hope you can make one or both of them.
Dead Wood, by Carol L. Douglas, 48X36, oil on canvas
God+Man: paintings by Carol L. Douglas
The relationship between God and Man as seen in the built environment.
Aviv Gallery, Bethel Community Church, 321 East Avenue, Rochester NY 14604
Opening June 6, 2014, 6-9 PM
Recurring Night-Deer, Something from a Night-Mare, by Sandy Quang, 18X24
Studio of Carol L Douglas student show
A baker’s dozen of students demonstrating a wide variety of styles and subjects.
The VB Brewery, , 6606 New York 96, Victor, NY 14564.

Opening June 8, 1-4 PM
And on that note, I’m heading downstate to spend the week with my Lower Hudson Valley Plein Air Painter friends! See you next weekend!
There are still a few openings in my 2014 workshop in Belfast, ME. Information is available here.

More on our student show

Carol L. Douglas Studio Annual Student Show

The VB Brewery, 6606 New York 96, Victor, NY 14564

Opening reception, Sunday June 8, from 1-4 PM

Kitty’s Dog, Moke, by Christine Long
I have an elderly Jack Russell terrier with whom I have a love-hate relationship. Yes, he is pea-brained, attacks small animals, and tries to bite the mail carrier, but he’s also affectionate and loyal.
Yesterday, one of my students, Christine Long, dropped off this painting for our student show. It could be my Max, with the breed’s characteristic pose and slightly worried expression. It will be in our student show in June at the VB Brewery in Victor.

Three abstractions, by Cath Bullinger, Brad VanAuken, and Carol L. Douglas. We’re auctioning these to raise money for the Open Door Mission.
In April of last year, Cath Bullinger, Brad VanAuken and I collaboratedon three abstractions. With the passage of time—and the addition of frames—I think they were quite wonderful.
Of course, they were an experiment, so when I was asked whether one of them was for sale, I was nonplussed and dropped the ball. They’ve been hanging around my studio since.
The three of us have decided to auction off the three paintings to benefit the Open Door Mission here in Rochester. They’ll be hanging in our student show. Just stop by in the month of June and pencil your name and bid in on the silent auction form. At the end of the month, the highest bid wins. And with an opening bid of $50, you have a decent shot of getting a nice painting for a great price, and the satisfaction of knowing you’re helping a great organization.
Camden Harbor Reflections, by Pamela Casper.
Two of my 2013 workshop students have graciously volunteered to send work for the student show. Both are working artists. Pamela Casper lives in NYC and has shown extensively in the United States and Europe. Nancy Woogen paints, teaches and exhibits in the Hudson Valley.

There are still a few openings in my 2014 workshop in Belfast, ME. Information is available here.

Come celebrate with us

Still life by Jingwei Yang
Art-making is in some ways a hard slog. You have to be willing to try again after disappointment, you have to be more enamored of the process than the results—most of all, you have to keep doing it to be any good.
Speedo: A Hermit Crab’s Mid-Life Crisis, by Nina Koski.
My students work very hard, and we usually see progress in fits and starts—a wonderful painting glistening on an easel suddenly makes up for the days when it doesn’t seem to be working.
It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and forget the progress that’s being made, until you have the honor of having a collection of work piling up on your dining room table in anticipation of a show.
Pericles and Golli, by Nathan Tomlinson.
 A painting in a frame is like a handsome person who dons a suit; suddenly that painting has gravitas, presence, authority. And I suddenly have a large collection of said paintings waiting to be seen.
Maine shore, by Sandy Quang.
So please join us for the opening of our class show at VB Brewery, Sunday, June 8, from 1 to 4 PM. That’s at 6606 New York 96, Victor, NY 14564. The work will be hanging throughout the month of June.
Deck shoes, by Teressa Ramos.
Come paint with me in Belfast, ME! Information is available here.

Painting peonies at Highland Park

Peonies by Nina Jarmolych Koski
“If a watched pot never boils, how can a flower completely open while you’re painting it?” asked Nathan Tomlinson at Highland Park on Saturday. I could see his point. At 10 AM when he sketched his idea onto his canvas, the peony in question was half-open. By 2, when we left, it was wilted.
Pretty wilted but still beautiful by mid-afternoon.
The change in the flowers was unusually dramatic, because we were making a dizzying leap from cold spring rain into glorious summer weather. All of Rochester realized it, too, and came out to photograph the flowers.
Peonies, by Nathan Tomlinson.
I didn’t realize it was Memorial Day weekend until we were mobbed by tourists. At one point, Nina Koski leaned over and whispered, “There are four different languages being spoken right next to us.”  Since I love playing tour guide, I had a great time directing people to the lilacs, the pansy bed, and the conservatory, and explaining what a pinetum is.
Peony, by Jingwei Yang.
These three are all very inexperienced painters: Nate has been with me since early February, Jingwei and Nina since the end of February. Their progress has been fantastic in a very short time, and they’re making the leap to plein air painting with a great deal of self-assurance.
Who can resist photographing the darn things?
The biggest problem they faced was that their palettes couldn’t match the chromatic intensity of the peonies themselves, gilded by back light on this beautiful, intense day. Nate, who is using muddy Charvin oil paints, had the most trouble, but there are many things in the natural world that are more intense than any paint can match. The answer, then, is to make the chroma you can muster up sing against the background.
Peonies by little ol’ me.
I had time to do a small watercolor between annoying my students. The nature of watercolors makes it a little easier to give the illusion of high chroma even with a limited sketch kit, so I didn’t suffer quite as much as they did.
Come paint with me in Belfast, ME! Information is available here:

Come drink beer and admire art

Carol Thiel’s spring landscape.
Painting students of Carol Douglas (that’s me!) will be displaying their work during the month of June at the VB Brewery in Victor. Their friends and family and anyone else who’s interested is invited to join us for an opening gala on Sunday, June 8, from 1-4.
The VB Brewery is the brainchild of Tom and Catherine Bullinger. Catherine is the person who convinced me I should teach painting many years ago, and she was my very first student. Technically, that makes her my longest-enrolled student, although like all retirees, she doesn’t seem to have much time for class these days.
This is Nina Koski’s first-ever class still-life.
This year’s show will feature works by some very new students as well as some old-timers. Several of them have only three or four paintings under their belt as of today. Showing any work at that point is difficult and I applaud them for participating.
This year, several of my Maine workshop participants have offered to send their work in from faraway places. Since they can’t be at the opening, this is generous.
Nancy Woogen is one of my 2013 Maine workshop students from the mid-Hudson region. She is kindly sending this painting for our student show.
The VB Brewery is located at 6606 State Route 96 in Victor. From Rochester, take 490 to Exit 29 (the last one before the toll barriers) and continue east on Route 96. You will go 4.5 miles through the village of Victor. The brewery is on your left.

Let me know if you’re interested in painting with me in Maine in 2014 or Rochester at any time. My Belfast, ME, workshop is almost sold out. Click 
here for more information on my Maine workshops!

Freaky coincidence or what?

Jingwei Yang’s painting from Anna’s garden.
I’ve known Anna since she was a mere slip of a girl. She’s married now and two months ago she and her husband bought a lovely home in the city. Anna has always been musical but never, to my knowledge, interested in making visual art. I was most surprised when she called me about a month ago to ask about painting lessons. Most people ease into painting gradually, but she went out to Hyatt’s and got all the necessary tools and has been practicing at home.
Sandy Quang’s painting from Anna’s garden.
Last week I took my class to Anna’s new home to paint her small backyard pocket garden. It is clearly the garden of an artist. She told us the former owner was an art teacher at Rochester’s School of the Arts and her late husband was also an artist.
Nina Koski’s painting of Anna’s garden.
After class, Anna gave me a tour of her house. About halfway through, I realized the late husband in question was Peter Berg, who was a well-known Rochester painter around the time Anna was born. I never knew him, not living here at the time, but I knew of him from my friend Sari Gaby.
I do believe houses can have a spiritual temperament, and I wonder if Anna’s house has a painter’s temperament. Perhaps those old pantiles and oak pocket doors gave her a gentle nudge toward painting.
Nate Tomlinson’s painting from a different garden day.

Let me know if you’re interested in painting with me in Maine in 2014 or Rochester at any time. My Belfast, ME, workshop is almost sold out. Click here for more information on my Maine workshops!