Watercolor Journal


Sunny Mountain
Inspired by Laura Horn's online lessons on watercolor abstracts, I followed her recommendations and started a little journal for experimenting with this medium.  The small scale and informal feeling of the journal make this a freeing, low-pressure way to learn new ways to use watercolor.  One new trick that has proven useful is Lauren Horn's use of a bamboo skewer to make very thin marks by dragging the skewer across wet areas.  Another technique I've enjoyed (but which Lauren Horn doesn't mention, oddly enough) is blowing on the wet puddles, which creates little bursts.  So much fun!

Creepy Crawlies

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Drawing the Edwardian Ball


Best drawing event ever--if you don't mind moving targets!  Imagine hundreds of people dressed in extraordinary, one-of-a-kind, hyper-creative costumes.  Themes run from straightforward 19th century formal wear to steampunk to London "pearlies" to exotic eclecticism to completely unique and unclassifiable.  Some of the costumes are absolutely beautiful, too, with rich materials in exquisite color combinations that would be impossible to do justice to, without countless hours of meticulous work in a painting studio.  A few people were actually posing, but most of the people I drew just happened to be holding still for a couple of minutes.  So much fun!    

Bursting Bodice
Fellow Artist (She Was Drawing Too)
Fur Coat and Reticule
Massive Beard
Moustache and Fez
Picturesque Man
Seated Stiltwalker
Towering Hat
Viewed from Below

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Whetzine Launch!


Last Saturday (1/25/2020), a super-cool new magazine launched, featuring art from various Bay Area women.  The coral-themed inaugural issue includes fingernail art by Shawna H., poetry by Gabrielle Rae, digital illustrations by Kelly Heyer, poetry by Laurel Yando, collages by Angela Hockabout, drawings by Freda Maletsky, prints by Nicole Godreau Soria, and pastel portraiture by yours truly!  Check it out and order your very own copy at


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Illustration Contest Winner!


The Animal People
The literary journal Imitation Fruit has selected my painting The Animal People as the winner for an illustration context.  They said:
 "Longtime Imitation Fruit contributor, Diana Blackwell won the "Let's Team Up Contest" with her cover art illustration "Animal People." The uniquely styled piece conjures up a film noir pack of friends you wouldn't want to cross in a dark alley. It unites a variety of animals looking like they've just pulled off a heist and know they're going to get away scot-free!"    Read the whole article at


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Drawing the Dickens Fair


Nancy and Fagin
Fagin's Place
Bill Sykes and Nancy
Gin Drinkere
Pretty Guttersnipe
Preraphaelite 1
Preraphaelite 2
Preraphaelite 3
Corset and Ringlets
Paper Crown
Men's Hats
This delightful seasonal festival has really blossomed since I last attended ten years ago.  The Cow Palace in SF becomes a charming recreation of Victorian London, with enough atmosphere to make fans like me slightly intoxicated.  Ladies in bonnets and bustles stroll by with gentlemen in frock coats, while urchins in cloth caps and scamper past, looking for Oliver Twist.  The  spirits of Christmas wander past shops stocked with period wares, and everywhere you look are evergreen garlands.  
      The dark, slummy space devoted to Oliver Twist included Fagin's room, where costumed performers acted out vignettes from the novel.  Drawing this was great fun and an exercise in speed-drawing.  The Pre-Raphaelite Salon offered the best figure-drawing opportunity, with one male and one female model posing for a total of three long poses.   The next-best drawing opportunity was the Dark Garden display windows, where models posed behind glass windows.  The entire Dickens Fair is the most exciting, target-rich drawing spot I've ever seen.  I could spend all day every day there for the duration.  If you're an artist, don't miss it!


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Gallery Girls Drawing Event at Winchester Mystery House


Last Friday, the wonderful Gallery Girls came up to San Francisco from L.A. to do four hours of creative figurative posing (by six models!) with a murder-mystery theme.   Extraordinary  creativity went into the staging of the vignettes, and artists were free, during breaks, to explore the house, a gorgeous Victorian mansion with period furnishings.  The Bay Area has a large community of excellent figurative art models but so far has not, to my knowledge, put together anything comparable to this event. Tons of fun! 

Torch Singer

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Gelli Plate Printmaking


One reason I've neglected this blog recently is that I have been immersed in Gelli Plate printmaking.  This is the world's easiest, most addictive way to make monoprints. The process is extremely versatile and lends itself to the use of found objects, as well as stencils, image transfers, and direct mark-making.  Here are a few of the zillions of Gelli Plate prints I've been churning out.


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Drawing the Democrats


Eliabeth Warren
Joe Biden
Kamala Harris
Pete Buttigieg
Amy Klobuchar
Andrew Yang
Beto O'Rorke
Bernie Sanders
Cory Booker
Last night's debate featured ten Democrat candidates.  I managed to draw nine, missing only Juan Castro (regrettable, but I just couldn't seem to make it work).  These drawings were all done "live," from the candidates' moving images as they talked.  The drawings are a little more like caricatures than serious portraits.  I think some are more successful than others--for example, I like the Warren and Harris drawings, but think the Biden and Booker drawings miss the mark.  Anyway, a fun exercise.  The drawings, top to bottom, are Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Andrew Yang, Beto O'Rorke, Bernie Sanders, and Cory Booker.  


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Small, Simple Abstracts


Orange and White
Turquoise and White
Have been experimenting with some very simple abstracts on small, wooden panels.  There is something satisfying about the discipline required to keep these very simple.


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Dog Portrait: Brock


A  young woman commissioned me to paint a portrait of her sister's dog, as a surprise gift.  She sent me numerous photos to work with, and asked for a background that included succulents and California poppies.  I did three sketches, from which she chose one to serve as the basis for a painting in acrylics.  This painting took about a week.   The client was pleased enough to pay me more than the fee we had agreed on.   A win-win!


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art, fine art, painting, drawing, printmaking, figures, nudes, portraits, landscapes, still life, mixed media, charcoal, pastel, acrylics, monotype, block print, woodcut, American, California, Berkeley, woman artist, female artist